So how are we to interpret prophecy overall and the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ in particular? Generally speaking, there are four main methods used to interpret this Book:
- Allegorical (or Idealist)
Allegorical (or Idealist) method of interpretation of the Book of Revelation claims that there are no future events depicted but that the author, John, intended something other than what is literally expressed. They see the Book as representing ongoing struggles through the ages of God vs Satan, good vs, evil and that the book is simply a spiritual encouragement to the early Church.
Preterist method of interpretation of the Book of Revelation believes that it is a record of conflict of the early church against Judaism and paganism and see it as a comfort to the early church as it was going through persecution. This method believes that everything in the first 18 chapters of the Book was fulfilled with the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. They believe that only the Rapture, Second Coming and judgement are left to be fulfilled.
Historical method of interpretation of the Book of Revelation views Revelation as being impossible to explain with plain language. They see chapters two and three as a symbolic presentation of Church history ending at the second century and believe that the Tribulation has been going on since Revelation was written. Over the centuries, proponents of the Historical method tend to fit Revelation’s events into the interpreter’s own timeframe and history, matching past or then current kings and popes to John’s writing.
Futurist method of interpretation of the Book of Revelation requires a literal interpretation of Revelation and see chapter 4 onward as being in the future and that their fulfillment lies in the years very near the second coming. They tend to adhere to the adage, “if it makes common sense, seek no other sense,” while recognizing that the “plain sense” approach cannot be applied to figurative and symbolic language. Much of John’s writing will only make sense as culture, geo-politics and technology unfold, as the angel Gabriel explained to Daniel. (Dan 12:9)
Let’s look at Rev 9:3-4 as an example of this literal interpretation that only recently makes sense:
“And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.“
John is describing a swarm of locusts that are ignoring vegetation and stinging select humans. How can that be? Didn’t make any sense until 2017 when the US Department of the Navy announced it had Low Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Swarming Technology – LOCUST. Within 30 days of that LOCUST announcement, ISIS announced they had it too, and oh, BTW, they had weaponized it. So now we have LOCUSTS capable of swarming, of targeting certain individuals and of stinging them with chemicals or bio-weapons.
Here’s another one. In Rev 11:9 we are told about two witnesses who are killed and whose bodies lie in the plaza for 3 days. “Every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies.” That was a physical impossibility until the last few years when technology put phones and cameras in each of our hands. We can now see everything, everywhere any time it happens.
And another. Rev 9:14-16 talks about the Kings of the East and their 200 million man army. At the time John wrote Revelation there weren’t 200 million people in the whole wide world, never mind one army of 200 million. In the late 1970’s, China announced that it could, indeed, field a 200 million man army. And today China has another 200 million soldiers held in reserve.
It’s easy to understand how in the past centuries it was difficult to interpret Revelation as literal. Now, however, given the rapid unfolding of current day events prophesied in Revelation it’s easy. This blog’s position is that the Book is to be interpreted literally where the language allows. Although it is to be viewed as a hope for both the early church as well as the Church through the ages, it is especially pertinent to the generation living immediately prior to Christ’s return. Our generation. Just as the prophecies regarding the first appearance of the Messiah were literally fulfilled in detail, so, too, will the prophecies regarding His second coming be literally fulfilled.
Next time we are going to start talking about birth pains and how they are connecting to current conditions.
Please, neither offhandedly accept nor reject what is said in this blog. Check it out. Look it up for yourself in the Bible. If you are a child of God, you are in good hands and there is the most wonderful eternity waiting for you. If you are not a Christ follower, now is a really good time to honestly explore the truth claims of the Bible.