Introduction: Understanding the Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation provides some of the keenest insights in Scripture concerning the “big picture” of work. Yet it is a tough nut to crack, not only because of its intrinsic difficulty but because of the myriad interpretations that have grown up around the book. We cannot hope to solve these problems here, but we may (perhaps) find enough common ground to glean insights from the final book of the Bible.
Perhaps the greatest gap in interpretation is between those who see the book as primarily future, addressing the absolute end of history from chapter 6 on, and those who see most of the book as relating to events around the time John wrote (generally seen as the late first century AD). The good news is that responsible interpreters who hold the “futurist” view acknowledge that the events in the future are modeled on God’s work in the past, most notably in Creation and the Exodus from Egypt. Likewise, even those who interpret the book primarily from the standpoint of the first century acknowledge that it does talk about the ultimate future (e.g., the New Jerusalem). For this reason, no one should object to finding enduring spiritual truths in the images of the book, nor in seeing a significant future orientation in the promises contained within it.