Monday, June 11, 2012
Some thoughts on the Book of Revelation
The Bibles book of Revelation is one of the if not the most enigmatic books in the Bible. Indeed it is a book that has fascinated me pretty much my entire life. I have read it more times than any other book in the Bible or otherwise. It is a book that has gained world wide fascination, there have been books, movies, television shows, and much much discussion about this book.
Why? Why is this particular book such a book of such fascination? Well lots of reasons. The Subject matter for one, is a controversial one. It's about the return of Jesus Christ, his judgement on the current fallen world and the collection of the church. The way it is written is another, it's piled with symbolism and poetic language. It's riddled with heavenly and hellish imagery, death and destruction, hope and completion. As well I am not convinced that anybody from any of the four predominant interpretations of the book have a complete and satisfactory explanation of the book.
The four predominant explanations of the book are historical, futurist, allegorical and partially historical. I personally do not believe that any of the views completely explain the book. This is my personal opinion, I am not a Bible scholar but just a believer. I have however have my own view of the book. Perhaps some would say my view is a cop out from someone who doesn't understand it or who isn't schooled in Biblical hermeneutics, but my view is a little bit of all of them. My view of the Book of Revelation is historical, allegorical, futurist and literal. You might call it a layered view.
Layers and layers of prophecy and fulfillment, type and shadow cycling until a final fulfillment of prophecy and judgement resulting in a final time of prophecy fulfillment and the return of Jesus Christ. I think this can be defended by taking the Bible as a whole rather than slicing up the layers.
One of the big problems with the historical views and the allegorical views is Revelation 20. I think that this is a chapter that has stuck many and as such many have firmly put it in the "it's obviously symbolic" category.
"Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pitt and a great chain.2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years." Rev 20
I have heard this interpreted three ways though I'm sure there are other. That this is a actual 1000 year reign, that we are currently in the symbolic 1000 years and this this is completely symbolic for eternity. Now I'm not saying I have the answer where other highly educated scholars do not but I stick firmly in the, this is an actual 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth and I'll tell you why. Because it makes sense. To say this is an allegory for the resurrection and the eternal reign of Christ is actually saying the same thing as that we are in the 1000 years meaning that right now Satan is bound in the abyss and not able to effect us. Unless I've completely misunderstood those who have said this I actually find this completely unbelievable As well it takes it out of its own context. The context being that Jesus Christ is going to physically reign on this Earth for 1000 years while Satan is bound.
This view naturally lends itself to a futurist view though it doesn't discount a layered historical view of the Book. As it specifically mentions those who did not take the mark and were beheaded for their faithfulness. The mark of the Beast being a layered an mysterious thing in and of itself. It is probably the most debated part of the book.
The "Mark of the Beast" is given to us as a number, 666 or reportedly in some manuscripts as 616.
.16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,t to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.t Rev 13 16-19
It being the beast of out of the sea causes all to take his mark. Now I'm going to ask a question that the historists like to ask. Does all mean all or does all just mean those under the rule of Nero as the preterist like to assume. What about those in 1st century China or India or the Native Americans? Did they they too bow to Nero or Domitian, no. To say that the prophecies of the Book of Revelation were all fulfilled in 70ad I believe reveals, not to be insulting or denigrating, but a narrow view of the Bible.
But what about Nero or Domitian ,depending on when the book was written, Didn't they have a mark and demand to be worshiped as a god? Well yes and I can ask the question, What about Hitler? Wasn't he essentially worshiped as a god, Didn't he persecute and desecrate and demolish the population of the Church (those that didn't go apostate) and the Jews? Could he not be call a "Beast" or and Anti-Christ as well did he not have a mark? Did any of these rally 200 million on the plain of Meggido to fight against Jesus Christ come again? If so then we're currently on the new earth...if that's the case than we worship a deficient god. The case those of us who worship the Living God don't worship a deficient god. We worship the perfect and almighty Creator who has told us what his new earth is going to be like and this isn't it. (see Revelations and Isaiah)
Again I'm not sure my ideas are even sufficient to explain fully the images and prophecies and these are just a couple of examples of where I believe the historical views of the Book of Revelation fall short. I will probably this with a couple more posts but I hope this at least provokes some thought.