On August 11th, 2009 I began this study with the basic question of whether or not the Book of Revelation was what I had always been taught it was? I wanted a fresh look but decided to follow the normal method that I follow when looking at any book of the Bible. I considered the author and original readers and suddenly realized very early on that most of what I was taught about this book was horribly wrong because the two things that get suspended with Revelation when Christians study the book is sound Biblical interpretation principles (hermeneutics) and common sense. We are ready to believe anything anyone puts forward about this book and the more sensational the better. We turn this book into the biggest end of the world scenario we can and to be honest the largest problem I have now with most interpretations of the Book of Revelation now is the fact that the original hearers are quickly forgotten. By chapter four current interpretation seems to be trying to slam the square peg of Revelation into the round hole of the modern-day with no consideration that Revelation better fits the square hole of its day better.
Compounding this problem is that sensationalism sells better than simply dong what I did. I could never write a book about what I believe about Revelation because it would never catch on and sell. It is too bland to say this is not necessarily about the end of the world but s more likely about the end of the Roman Empire as the seven churches knew it. People love the gloriously prepared fiction of the cosmic new world order that is backed by the beast who forces the bar code of 666 on everyone’s forehead as the world is destroyed by the wrath of God. It is much more appealing to have a form of science fiction slash fantasy than to look at each symbol as normal forces of life or political and religious forces that existed in time of the seven churches. You also have the fact it is hard for people to abandon what some dear parent, Sunday school teacher or pastor taught them and that person would never lead them astray. It is probably this last factor that I run into most. We simply can’t bring ourselves to say that these people dear to us in our formative years may simply have been wrong or mistaken. I know for myself there is one Sunday school teacher and one dear pastor that I would now disagree with on a fundamental level about Revelation but then again they told me they were more concerned that I follow the Word than their views.
That said, I have a completely new understanding of much of Revelation and to me it has the added benefit of being fulfilled which supports my idea that God fulfills his word. It has opened up more importantly some greater understanding of Christ and his expectations for his church. I also have to say there is some frustration in that much of the symbolism is lost because what the seven churches knew about those symbols is unknown or lost. That however does not diminish the power of what I have come to understand. It has been a very enlightening ride.
I am actually a little sad for closing this study as it took so long and was a large part of what I did for the last five years (Yipe!). I have for a long time feared this book but not so much anymore. It has actually become an old friend. I like reading it because I see more of the image of Christ as Lion and King and this balances out my understanding of Christ as Savior and Lamb. I see so much of Christ encouragement for his church and even the glorious end of the story for all people who ‘overcome to the end’.
I hope those of you who have read this from start to finish have enjoyed it. I may revisit this in some years in the future. Maybe some archeologist or scholar will discover something that might open up our understanding of what the seven churches knew about the symbols and we will have new understandings to wrestle with as we look at Revelation. I sincerely hope that is the case. In any case this is The End. For Now.
Blessings and Cheers!