We hear it all the time, “***The end is near, Christ is coming to rapture his saints!***” Famous televangelist, evangelical apologist, and books, have made the idea of the rapture and the “time of the antichrist in the seven year tribulation period” so popular. You don’t need to be a evangelical to understand what they’re talking about. The end of the world is on their minds and their primary source, the Book of Revelation!
Well, what if I told you the Book of Revelation has almost nothing to do with the end of the world? The Book of Revelation is not a roadmap to tell people how to get through such scary future events of the end. Infact it’s kind of the opposite. The Book of Revelation was written in a style modern scholars call “***apocalyptic literature.***” The Book of Revelation was written to encourage Christians that Christ will triumph over evil, and it was a warning to the evil forces of the world, like the Roman Empire, to repent or be judged! In fact, when Jesus says throughout the entire book, “***I am coming soon.***” he is talking about his coming judgment on the Roman Empire. Not his coming to rapture the saints and to start a series of events leading up to his second coming.
Symbols like the four horsemen, and the seven seals that unleash plagues are not to be taken literally. Instead, the author uses them as symbols to show that God will judge the Roman Empire. He never literally meant hail of blood will rain down on them, or that a army of locust would poison them. Things like the beast don’t talk about one person. The beast is symbolic for the Roman Empire. The author does use one character to symbolize the Roman Empire’s corruption, that is Emperor Nero. He uses his numerical name which is 666, so just in case the Romans got their hands on it, they wouldn’t know what he was talking about. Though Christians would know exactly who he was talking about. Symbols like the two witnesses symbolize the church, and it being persecuted, but eventually it will over come it’s persecutors. Things like the Whore of Babylon symbolize the capital city of Rome. All of these are just symbols for certain things, they are not literal as many evangelicals like to see them.
How do we know all of this? We know this because we find other Jews and Christians referring to them empire, and it’s capital, and the church and etc. like this. We also have books like Ezekiel and Daniel to help us out. We need to look at Revelation in more of a historical context rather then a timeline of events in the near future.
Christians were being heavily persecuted by Rome. They were loosing hope in themselves and in Christ. Revelation was a way of telling Christians to still have hope. It basically said, “***Though we are being persecuted Christ is still in control! If Rome does not repent then Christ will judge them accordingly. And those who put all their faith and hope in Christ that he will conquer the evils of their world, then they will see the New Heavens and the New Earth. ***”
Evangelicals just take it out of it’s historical context, Infact alot of Catholics do too. I hear Catholics say how the beast is coming, and how the end is near. I think we shouldn’t go to over board with the Book of Revelation. Let’s just read it how it is, and try not to interpret it as a roadmap for the future. That was never the intention of the author, and that was never the intention of the one revealing, Jesus Christ. And, even though Revelation was aimed more towards 1st century Christians to still have hope, Christians in the future who are going through times of tribulation can look to the Book of Revelation as a inspiration for hope.