In the opening lines of revelation we receive a one very important interpretive key. “What must soon take place”- this is big, for John is telling his readers this will not happen in the distant future, but “soon” which, in Greek, means hastily, without delay. He then goes on to say that the reader and listener are blessed if they do what is in the book, for the time is near. So, in other words, “this is written for you!!! Listen to it!!”. Who was he writing to though? We see in the very next line, the seven churches in Asia. He then bids grace and peace upon them, giving a little bit of a foretaste of what He will be talking about. He then tells us about his call to become a prophet. It’s not all too different than some of the other prophets. Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Elijah all had very large encounters with God before they started their ministries. The main difference here is that he comes face to face with Jesus, in his glorified state. He goes on to try and explain the beauty of what he seen with a succession of likes (His hair like.. His feet like.. His legs like..). The most understandable of all tho comes at the end, “I fell down as a dead man”, so not only is Jesus beautiful he is TERRIFYING! We, in our feeble state, cannot bear to see Him. Nevertheless, Jesus, with grace and compassion tells him to “not be afraid” He then reminds him of His own redemptive work “i am the one who was dead and is alive” and commissions him as a prophet. He then explains part of the vision John had already seen, “the seven stars are the angles and the seven lamp stands the churches”. There were many more than seven churches, but seven is the number of completeness. Seven will be used that way all through this book. That is to say to represent, an inexplicable, yet numbered group. Now he gets into the seven letters, which would represent every church for all time. We all fall into one or more of these categories. I will get into what he says to each church over the next few posts, then continue to the successive visions.
I started this blog with the intention of ministering to people with the tiny bit of knowledge I have been given. I am an avid reader and often times find myself in paradigm struggles. These have molded me in many ways. As one who asks questions better than answering them, I often spend hours studying and reading until all my questions feel adequately answered. That is why I am starting this series on Revelation. Let me begin by saying there are many schools of thought on the book. In this post I want to discuss the different views and why I feel like the school of thought I ascribe to makes the most sense. There are 4 schools of thought on revelation: preterist, futurist, idealist, and historicist. The preterist interprets most or all of revelation as having been fulfilled in 70ad with the seige of Jerusalem. The futurist interprets it all as happening right before the second advent of Christ. The idealist sees it as more of a spiritual pattern that will go until the second coming. The historicist interprets revelation as a picture of literal history. All these views can be found in many different church traditions. There is some general consensus though. Most of the lay people ascribe to the futurist school of thought. Whereas most scholars ascribe to the preterist and idealist schools of thought. Historicism is basically dead, except for the campbellites and their various split offs. I do not think the futurist view is tenable, for it often makes Revelation mean nothing to the people whom it was written to in first century Asia Minor. Preterism, though often very scholarly, seems to fail in a couple of ways. The bowls of wrath contrast the trumpets and the seals, in that, in them the wrath of God is complete. Furthermore, there is a clear “there will be no more time…” before the bowls are started. So there must be some parts that go beyond 70ad. Revelation is a common genre of literature in Judaism from 200bc-400ad, it is a part of a long list of apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature isn’t really something that you are supposed to extract every little detail from. It’s usually a series of images that are meant to startle you to help you see what’s truly happening. That is to say, the spiritual realities. This is why I hold to, mostly, an idealist point of view, with some hints of the preterist understanding. I hope to, if nothing else, get you interested in most beautiful book.