Understanding the Book of Revelation

Reading the book of Revelation can be a frustrating and perplexing study experience, with all its amazing cast of characters, its extraordinary symbolic imagery, and its deeply spiritual prose.

Of course, the writer of the book, the apostle John, tells us that the prophetic book is, in fact, a revelation of Jesus Christ himself—one often given through dramatic visions and dreams. They are the words and teachings of Jesus. This alone means that exploring the book is a worthwhile and meaningful endeavor for every Christian who seeks to know God’s will.

Yet for millions, the symbols and language of Revelation are often enshrouded in confusing and contradictory teachings. How are we, living nearly 2,000 years after it was written, to understand Revelation today? Is it still relevant for our time? What is 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 four most common ways to approach it. Of course, one of these ways is that skeptics and non-Christians believe the book is merely myth and not much more than a morality play. But beyond that view, different groups within the Christian faith understand the book in primarily three different ways—often 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, prophetically detailing the events of the church and major world powers all the way through to the second coming of Christ and the New Jerusalem.

While each school of interpretation has strong 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 failed predictions of Christ’s return, such as the book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.

Historicism, on the other hand, was the view of the majority of the great reformers, including Luther and Calvin, who 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.

Historicism Unlocks Revelation
Amazing Facts presents this case in a new documentary debuting this August in Revelation: The Bride, The Beast & Babylon, a 90-minute presentation that will reveal Bible keys that help make sense of Revelation in the way it was always meant to be understood, exploring key moments in the history of the Christian church and its relationship to Revelation’s prophetic stories of Jesus’ church and the rise of a new dark power called Babylon.

In development for more than two years, Amazing Facts has created a professional and groundbreaking presentation featuring stunning footage from historic locations throughout Europe and professional reenactments of major events and Bible symbols. It also includes compelling interviews with respected theologians and historians, including ...

  • Susanna Elm, D.Phil., Professor of History, UC Berkeley
  • David Trim, Ph.D., Retired Professor of History and Religion, Newbold College
  • Euan Cameron, D.Phil. Professor of Reformation Church History, Union Theological Seminary
  • Obery Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Biblical Interpretation, New York Theological Seminary
  • Randall Balmer, Ph.D., Professor of Arts and Sciences, Religious History, Dartmouth College

The key insights explored in this feature-length documentary include:

  • Identifies the Bride of Revelation 12 and the harlot of Revelation 17
  • Reveals 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 religions and philosophies
  • Explores the Dark Ages and the rise of the Reformation, including Wycliffe, Huss, Luther and others.
  • Pinpoints our time in the chronology of Revelation

By the eDaniel and Revelationnd, viewers will be confident in their understanding of Revelation and know the identity 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 their future just as the apostle John understood it.

While the breadth of information contained in this documentary will amaze and educate viewers, 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.

Revelation: The Bride, The Beast & Babylon,
hosted by Pastor Doug Batchelor, will be available in August 2013.
Stay tuned to amazingfacts.org or afbookstore.com
for more information about this new feature-length documentary.

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