How we need a revelation of Jesus! "The great fault of many professors is that Christ is to them a character upon paper; certainly more than a myth, but yet a person of the dim past, an historical personage who lived many years ago, and did most admirable deeds, by the which we are saved, but who is far from being a living, present, bright reality." (Spurgeon)
There are many differing viewpoints through Revelation. How do we sort that out? Who's right? Isn't there one truth? Well, of course there is one truth; it is the original intention with which John wrote. If we can determine what John meant to write, we have the truth. However, many have spent their life at this and are in total disagreement with others who have done the same. The blessing of studying this book doesn't come when you finally arrive at the ultimate, final truth and timing, but about the study and journey; about getting to know Jesus in His revelation.
"Though it is filled with signs, the Book of Revelation is accessible to those who have an understanding of the first 65 books of the Bible, and especially an understanding of the first 39 books of the Bible, the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation is rooted in the Old Testament. It contains more than 500 allusions to the Old Testament, and 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation (that is almost 70%) make some reference to the Old Testament." (Guzik, David. Revelation . Enduring Word Media.)
Studying Revelation is a great adventure. It's a great time to remember the Proverb (3:5):
It seems like all true believers ought to believe the same thing about these end events. However, they don't for various reason; but these things are not to divide us. I think we can all agree that Jesus is coming again. How He will come, we may not get all the specifics right. We can all agree we don't know when and that we are to be ready at any moment. We shouldn't let the specifics divide us.
There are those who approach Revelation as a description of the first century events of the Roman Empire. This is called the Preterists view. This view seems to ignore the prophetic nature of the scriptures. Others view this as a kind of panoramic view of the history of the church across the ages (historicist). If that were true, then it would have been meaningless to the people John delivered it to. Then there are those who view it as the age-old cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil (Idealist view). This ignores any predictions from prophetic passages and breaks the connection with history and reality of our days. The most logical view then, in my opinion, as well as others, is the idea that Revelation speaks of future events (futurist view). Specifically, chapters 6-22 are yet to play out; the events leading to the second coming of Christ, the final judgment and the eternal state of things. This view allows for prophetic and apocalyptic ideas coming from interpreting scripture in the same way all of scripture is interpreted.
One of my earliest resources as a pastor was Halleys Bible Handbook. I really like what he says this about Revelation:
"A thing that strikes one who browses around in the vast literature that has grown up about the book of Revelation is the utter Dogmatism with which so many put forth their opinions, not as opinions, but in categorical statements, as to the meaning of even the most mysterious passages, as if they know all about it and their say so settles the matter. We think a spirit of reverent humility, and openness of mind, would be more becoming in those seeking to interpret a book like this. It doesn't matter what I think; what matters is truth. Probe to find the truth by listening; comparing with scripture, leading of the Holy Spirit and prayer."
Vision of the Son of Man