By Pastor Doug Batchelor
He was born in a small, obscure village, the child of poor parents. He quietly worked alongside His father as a carpenter until He was about 30. He then, unexpectedly, set out on His own, traveling as an itinerate preacher for three-and-a-half years.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held office. He also never married or attended college. In fact, He never seemed to do any of the typical things that we associate with greatness today. Yet in the 20 centuries that have passed since His death, this man remains the most intriguing character of the human race. He is revered by billions.
Someone once said, “All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned have not affected the life of man on the earth as much as that one solitary life.”
During the three centuries that followed His death, Jesus’ teachings remained the central focus of the Christian faith, and the principles that He taught were the foundation of the church. Yet gradually, this religion became distorted as His followers adopted strange, mystic traditions such that, over time, the church that Jesus started bore very little resemblance to His simple teachings as found in Scripture.
As a result, a period of great darkness settled upon the Christian church, bringing bloodshed and fostering a lust for pride, power, and financial gain—all in the name of the humble Carpenter. What really happened?
The Revelation Chronicles
Within the book of Revelation, there are many vivid visions and prophecies that clearly foretold these things would happen, in addition to what is still to come upon the Christian church and the entire world in the future.
In fact, Revelation is one of the most spectacular books ever written. Within its pages, we see a kaleidoscope of bizarre beasts, mysterious women, and powerful angels. It is also a book of great contrasts, from the terrible trumpets and devastating plagues to the most beautiful pictures of heaven and paradise found in Scripture.
Yet many say that these mystic symbols are sealed—and that nobody, especially laypersons, could ever truly know what Revelation is trying to tell us.
But contrary to that notion, God Himself commands that Revelation not be sealed! “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Revelation 22:10 NKJV). And it never has been sealed. (By contrast, the book of Daniel was “sealed” for a short time.)
The very name “Revelation” means “unveiling,” “opening,” or “revealing”—the complete opposite of being sealed—and Revelation begins with the words, “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” The book reveals His last-day plans for His work and people. Moreover, a special blessing is pronounced upon those who read Revelation and obey it—“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).
Does that sound like something God doesn’t want you to read or understand?
In fact, Revelation describes God’s end-time people and church with startling clarity. It makes the Bible come to life when you see the last-day events depicted in Revelation that have taken place—and some are taking place now!
Indeed, Revelation is written geared to the people of our time—just before Jesus’ return. It is written “to show His servants what must soon take place,” and “because the time is near.” All throughout, Jesus declares, “I am coming soon.” (For example, see Revelation 1:1–3.)
Still, without some guidance, reading Revelation can be a frustrating and perplexing study experience, with all its deep spiritual content.
For millions, the symbols and language of Revelation are often enshrouded in confusing and contradictory interpretations. How are we, living nearly 2,000 years after it was written, to understand it? If the book truly is unsealed, how can we know the true nature behind such symbols as the two brides, the beast, and Babylon? How can we know which interpretation actually makes the most sense?
If you’ve ever Googled “Revelation,” you’ve probably heard of the three most common theories that guide students in their study of the book—called preterism, futurism, and historicism.
Preterism is the belief that the apostle John wrote Revelation as a book of history, a history that ends by AD 70, describing with symbolic elements the extreme challenges of the early church in overcoming the Antichrist power of pagan Rome and the influence of Judaism.
Futurism is the belief that John wrote primarily about events that have yet to occur even in our day, including the future rise of the Antichrist. Futurism is the interpretation put forth by the popular Left Behind series and today enjoys the most support from mainstream Protestant Christianity. Ironically, this theory was first put forth by a Jesuit—Francisco Ribera—in the late 1500s.
Historicism is the belief that John was writing future history as it would unfold from his day to the end of time, detailing through a panorama of prophecies the events of the church and major world powers all the way through to the second coming of Christ and the New Jerusalem. This is the theory that most Protestant reformers used in their teachings.
While each school of interpretation has its arguments, only one is logically and spiritually consistent.
For instance, preterism implies that because all biblical prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70, God has no prophetic message for Christians living today—and, worse, it implies that many prophecies simply did not and will not come to pass, such as the great Christian apostasy Christ warned would strike at the church just prior to His second coming in Matthew 24. And unfortunately, along with its inconsistent approach to symbols and dates, futurism promotes a fire-escape gospel that encourages a wait-and-see approach to salvation—and it is the one most commonly associated with the endless failed predictions of Christ’s return, such as the book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.
Amazingly, these false interpretations were subtly advanced in the Christian church by design, and both by the very same power at work today. Satan would rather have us continue to believe Revelation is sealed, because if you read it, you will learn about the strategies he has for God’s children, to leave you unprepared for his deceptions.
Historicism Unlocks Revelation
As mentioned, historicism was the view of the majority of the great reformers and preachers, including Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Spurgeon, who each believed the Antichrist power had already arisen in their lifetimes. And it presents a case that is simple, providing a logical interpretation that makes identifying such characters as the two brides, the beast, and Babylon much more consistent with the evidence of Scripture and history.
Amazing Facts actually presents this case in our brand-new documentary called Revelation: The Bride, The Beast & Babylon, a 90-minute presentation that reveals Bible keys to help you make sense of Revelation in the way it was always meant to be understood, exploring key moments in the history of the Christian faith and its relationship to Revelation’s prophetic stories of Jesus’ church, and the rise of a dark power called Babylon.
In development for more than three years, Amazing Facts has created a professional and groundbreaking presentation featuring stunning footage from historic locations throughout Europe; professional reenactments of major events and Bible symbols; and compelling interviews with respected theologians and historians
The key insights explored in this feature-length documentary include:
- Identifies of the bride of Revelation 12 and the harlot of Revelation 17
- The conflict between the woman, dragon, and child
- The significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in prophecy
- The persecution of the early church and how it survived
- The impact on Christianity with the reign of Constantine
- The adoption of Christianity in Rome and its consequences
- What happened when the church mixed with pagan traditions and philosophies
- The Dark Ages and the rise of the Reformation
- Our time in the chronology of Revelation
By the end of this feature, I’m sure you will be as confident as ever in your understanding of the core teachings of Revelation and know the real-world identities of the beast power, the harlot of Revelation 17, and the bride of Revelation 12, while also understanding the conflict between these great powers through history and how it affects your future—all just as the apostle John understood it.
Life-changing Bible Study DVD
God sent His Son into the world not only to save man from their sins and from a world of sin, but to teach us a new way to live and to love one another. As Jesus was about to ascend back to heaven, He encouraged His followers to teach “them to observe all things whatsover I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). These last words effectively started His church—the Christian faith.
Before his death the apostle Paul warned believers, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29, 30).
Just as predicted, these things happened as pagan customs and beliefs spilled into the church. Likewise, we can know that before Jesus returns, His church will once again shine with the profound yet humble principles that launched the Christian church. The clutter of human interpretations and teachings must now be swept away in order for the true and unadulterated church to thrive again.
Revelation: The Bride, the Beast & Babylon takes you on a thoughtful, whirlwind journey that illustrates the depths to which Christianity fell and the exciting restoration of truth during a period known as the Reformation, when the Bible, and the Bible alone, once again became God’s people’s source of faith and hope, ushering in a triumphant church that would be alive again until the end of the age.
While the breadth of information contained in this documentary will amaze and educate you, it is especially designed to show that God’s hand is clearly evident in the Bible and in church history, urging people to give their hearts to Jesus as a Lord they can trust.
So whatever your religious background, we promise you that this unique documentary will explain some of the most important questions of life and truth; we pray that you find it insightful and transforming.
Click here to order the
Revelation: The Bride, the Beast & Babylon DVD.