The Book of Revelation is the least read book of the New Testament and consequently the least understood. Although this book has often been neglected because of its mysterious character, it is the only book in the Bible which contains:
(a) A special promise to obedient readers (1:3);
(b) At the same time promises a curse upon those who tamper with its contents (22:18-19).
The central figure of the Book of Revelation is the Lamb of God – the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Lamb who alone is worthy to receive all honour and glory. The Lamb is mentioned 28 times in this Book. The word “revelation” means to “unveil” or “uncover”, and the intent of this book is to reveal the person of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14).
The Book has a two-fold purpose –
(i) To encourage the seven churches in Asia Minor;
(ii) To reveal the future of the church, with a special emphasis on the “end of the age”.
The Book of Revelation belongs to a particular genre of literature, known as “apocalyptic”, expressing meaning through symbols and imagery. It finds its origins in the Old Testament and clues to its meaning can be gleaned by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Genesis is the book of beginnings. Revelation is the book of the consummation of God’s great plan for mankind. The divine plan of redemption is brought to fruition, and God is over all. Revelation is the only book which focuses completely on prophetic events, for it reveals God’s program for the closing of this age. Please note here, not the end of time but an age. It tells of the revealing of God’s holy city, the New Jerusalem, of Paradise restored and accessibility once again to the Tree of Life.
The visions of the book belong neither wholly to the past nor wholly to the future, for the prophecies of God are written in such a manner as to be read, interpreted, and applied by each succeeding generation and most often have primary and secondary fulfilments.
That is to say some of it has happened, while some is happening, and some will happen, but to place the whole book in the future conflicts with Scripture.
The Praetorists could then be right in finding early fulfilment, the Futurists in expecting as yet undeveloped ones, and the Historicists in looking for fulfilment along the whole line of history. History repeats itself, and the predictions of the Bible are not exhausted in one or even many fulfilments. Many prophecies have an immediate fulfilment for the day in which they were written, a further fulfilment in future years, and for an ultimate fulfilment in the drawing together of God’s great plans both for the nations and His all-enveloping plan of redemption.
We believe that the Historicists view is by far the best approach to hermeneutical investigation of the Book of Revelation as it produces an understanding that does not conflict with other scriptures.
In HIS hands Dr. Ian Traill