The Simplicity of Revelation and Eschatology
Revelation is a very complex book. Most of it is written in symbols only familiar to those steeped in the Jewish religion. And the number of bizarre interpretations of it available make the book very confusing. But there are a few steps you can take to understand it better. We may not be able to figure out everything about it, but we can probably make out the main points. Here’s how:
1) Realize that Revelation IS symbolic. This should just be common sense. If you think that literal scorpion-horses are going to be set free on the earth, or that plagues are unleashed by angels with literal bowls, then you have some problems in the way you interpret things. Most people, even if they deny it, do accept that Revelation is composed of symbols. That is VERY important to remember.
2) Realize that those symbols are Jewish. It has been said that Revelation is the most biblical book in the bible, because most of it is composed of quotes or direct references to other scriptures. Those symbols are not intended to be interpreted however any modern interpreter desires. They meant specific things to the Jewish-Christian people of the time.
3) Realize the scope of what Revelation says. Revelation was written to the 7 churches of Asia, giving them warnings about things that were going to happen. The things written in Revelation were going to fundamentally impact these people.
4) Realize it was all to happen SOON. At the beginning, through the middle, and at the end, the readers are warned that all of the foretold events would happen SOON. These events would concern the 7 churches, and they would happen to those people.
5) Realize what the ending really is. Revelation ends with a scene of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth. Many people confuse the identity of the New Jerusalem, and so misunderstand the whole book. The New Jerusalem, as Revelation states, is the bride of Christ. What else is called the bride of Christ in the New Testament? Wouldn’t that be the church? And notice that the New Jerusalem came DOWN, people didn’t go UP to it. No; the New Jerusalem is something set up on earth, with evil people outside, but with gates always open to people wishing to enter. Also, the New Jerusalem is said to be built on the foundation of the apostles; the church was said to be built on the foundation of the apostles. The New Jerusalem is nothing but the victorious church.
Once we realize that the New Jerusalem is the church, that the events prophesied were to happen soon and to the people Revelation was addressed to, and that the symbols are references to the Jewish religion (not modern day technology), then we are well on our way to realizing what Revelation is talking about.