Troublesome Topic: The Purpose of Revelation

What we call the book of Revelation has very little to do with the future, rather it has to do with our present situation.

The reason Jesus gave this long vision to John was to encourage all believers who, at any time in history, face persecution or strong opposition.

If God intended Revelation to be predictive and give us clues about what will happen in the future, He did a poor job of it because we keep guessing and being wrong. If God intended Revelation to be an encouragement to believers who are facing persecution He did a masterful job of it, as we would expect.

In the end, the popular view of Revelation, and my alternative perspective, both focus quite a bit on persecution. Some would say that they sound similar, but they are not. The literal interpretation of Revelation sees persecution as a negative thing, or at least it plays into the popular American thinking that persecution is negative. The 7-year Tribulation is taught with fear of pain while the believers of John’s day welcomed suffering as a way to honor God. Most modern believers hope to avoid the great tribulation by being whisked out of here before it starts; the believers of John’s day knew that persecution, or at least strong opposition, are normal for the followers of Jesus. Revelation agrees with the rest of the New Testament in presenting suffering for Christ as an honor, a joy and a privilege.

Therefore, Revelation is not about how to avoid persecution, but how to remain spiritually strong in it. Revelation presents the giving of one’s life as a witness to the atoning blood of Jesus as the way witnessing is often done (the word “witness” and the word “martyr” are the same word in Greek; it sounds like and is the precursor of our word for “martyr”).  

The next lesson in Prophecy and Revelation is: KEY # 1 Learn the Rules of Interpretation.

The next lesson in Prophecy and Persecution in Our Times is: Prophecy and Covenants