Week Fifty-Two Reading Assignment:
Revelation 7 - Revelation 22
"This book... shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
(Joshua 1:8 NKJV)
(Joshua 1:8 NKJV)
This Week's Teaching Video: Revelation
Charting Our progress
Good Book Review: Here to There
I was living and attending school in Virginia. I hoped to join my family for a weekend event in Tennessee, but they didn’t want me to exhaust myself with the long drive for a short visit. And so I looked into the train schedule.
At that time, the only rail option I had would have taken me through Chicago. What would have been less than a 700-mile trip by car would have become more than a 1300-mile trip by train.
Sometimes, you know, a trip is so com-plex or the path so convoluted, that we conclude, “You can’t get there from here.”
The churches and people to whom John addressed the Book of Revelation were struggling, persecuted minorities within their communities. The Jews rejected the Christians as heretics, while the Greeks ridiculed them as fools. And the Roman Empire was increasingly hostile and violent toward the church.
That is the historical context of the book’s original audience.
And yet, in the end, Revelation describes a scene of perfect glory and peace. It foresees a reward for the faithful and the martyrs. And it anticipates the divine defeat of the enemies of God and His people.
Imagine those people to whom the book was originally written. How discouraged, frightened, and overwhelmed might they have been feeling. If they set side by side their present reality and that promised future, they might conclude that it's not possible. “We can’t get there from here.”
No, we can’t. But God can.
Ways to Read Revelation
Halley's Bible Handbook offers this very helpful synopsis of the different ways that folks have traditionally read and interpreted Revelation:
There are many interpretations of the book of Revelation. And every one of them has its difficulties. Whatever interpretation is accepted, some details require straining to fit.
Roughly speaking, there are four kinds of interpretation, each varying greatly within itself: commonly spoken of of as "Preterist," "Historical," "Futurist," and "Spiritualist."
Preterist Interpretation regards the book as referring to its own day: Christianity's Struggle with the Roman Empire.
Historical Interpretation is that the book was designed to Forecast a General View of the Whole Period of Church History, from John's time on to the End of the World: a sot of Panorama, a series of Pictures, delineating the Successive Steps and Outstanding Features of the Church's Struggle to Final Victory...
Futurist Interpretation centers the book largely around the time of the Lord's Coming and the End of the World.
Spiritualist Interpretation separates the imagery of the book entirely from any reference to Historical Events -- those of John's day, or those at the time of the End, or those intervening -- and deems it to be a Pictorial Representation, in highly figurative language, of the Great Principles of Divine Government applicable to all times.
Halley's Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965) p. 684.