On the book of Revelation

TC is doing a series of posts on why he’s no longer in the dispensational camp.  I can agree with him on many points.   I came across J. Ramsey Michaels’ IVP commentary on the book of Revelation over at the IVP Website and really appreciated the publisher’s blurb about his commentary which reads:

RevelationInterpretations of the book of Revelation are numerous and varied.  The preterist view focuses on first-century social analysis of John’s environment.  The church-historical view sees the Revelation as a prophetic survey of the history of the church.  The futurist view sees the book as a precise prediction of unfolding events in the yet-to-come end of the world.

The trouble with all three, argues J. Ramsey Michaels, is that they make the Revelation of John irrelevant to Christians throughout much of history. Failing to take seriously what John saw, such interpreters do not comprehend the value of the Revelation to Christians in any age. Michaels strives to recapture the Revelation as a prophetic letter of testimony, a testimony as relevant to today’s church as it was to John’s as it faces evil and looks for the victory of the Lamb.

Now, I haven’t read this commentary but I like the gist of it.  I think this is it.  This is a big reason why like TC, I am done with dispensationalism – in the overall scheme of things it misses the point and that by a mile!  The Revelation isn’t about desciphering when the end of the world will come or how; it’s not a road map to end times; it’s not future, preterist, history and all that, but instead it is about the hope of God’s presence with us in the midst of suffering and persecution.   I think a key verse in the Revelation is 1:9 where John says in part:

 9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  


or Revelation 14:12 where it reads:

12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. 

Seen through this situation I think the Book of Revelation becomes much more readable and understandable and relevant in the life of the church than when it is distorted into some effort to soley discern the future.

12 responses to “On the book of Revelation

  1. Pingback: New Leaven

  2. Brian, thanks for alerting me to this contribution from Michaels. I especially like this:

    “The trouble with all three, argues J. Ramsey Michaels, is that they make the Revelation of John irrelevant to Christians throughout much of history.”

    That too has been one of my many frustrations with Dispensationalism, though other positions are guilty.

  3. I came across your blog for the first time today after a Google alert for the “Book of Revelation” let me know you were discussing this topic. Have a great interest in Bible Prophecy and Revelation and try to keep up-to-date.

    I found your comments (and link) to your friend who has given up dispensationalism very interesting. I’m heading over to that blog to check it out too. The other comment I found interesting is this mention of not taking John seriously. I wonder if you have read this work on Revelation–which does take John very seriously. It is Announcing Judgment Day by Eliyahu ben David http://tiny.cc/HhSK6. It is the most readable and understandable work I’ve read on the topic.

  4. Uh-oh–whatcha gonna do when it’s time to sign the credential papers??? 😉

    After being immersed in Revelation this past spring, I think we should look at this book as we do other NT letters: situational. With that, we then ask what it says to us today. Not sensational, but the book finally makes sense when you approach it that way. I can say that the message of Revelation is a difficult one. Believers have hope and Christ wins (hallelujah!), but the suffering part in the face of martyrdom is challenging nonetheless.

    • Sheryl – so true. We’ve propped ourselves up to think the blessed life is a prosperous life free from suffering or persecution – boy will we have a shocker coming our way. I happen to think intense suffering and persecution is fast approaching for the American Church – this may be when that great apostasy that Jesus predicted in the Olivet discourse will occur. I don’t mean to be harsh but I am concerned I am not too off on this.

      I also appreciate the input about looking at the Revelation as a situational letter much in the same fashion we would any of the other NT letters.

      Thanks for commenting – really, you need to blog more! 😉

  5. Brian, I must confess that I find the preterist reading of Revelation to be the most convincing (of course I mean of the partial variety) and I really don’t think that such a view “make[s] the Revelation of John irrelevant to Christians throughout much of history” for I agree with you that it is certainly “about the hope of God’s presence with us in the midst of suffering and persecution”. When you read the Old Testament prophesies that have been fulfilled do you think they are irrelevant to Christians today? Of course not, likewise if most of the Apocalypse has been fulfilled is it irrelevant to Christians today? The answer is of course “No”. Do check out Gentry’s The Book of Revelation Made Easy.

  6. Richard, – yes. If you go the the AG site and see our 16 Fundamental Truths – every licensed or ordained minister in the AG (a voluntary cooperative fellowship) voluntarily signs a statement saying they agree with and will abide by the 16 Fundamental truths and belief in premillenialism is number 14. Funny thing is, most in the AG make much more of a big deal over numbers 7-8 than they do the others yet most often it is 13-14 that often keeps younger potiential ministers out of the AG (by their own decision). There ar probably plenty who are AG and more or less amil in their thinking but just don’t say anything and don’t teach or preach it to respect their agreement with the AG. Hope this helps.

  7. For some pre-Halloween shocks I invite everyone to Google or Yahoo “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (see the photographic version of this last one on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site!). Also Google “Pretrib Hypocrisy” which has a stunning, behind-the-scenes look at the Assemblies of God. These are all from the pen of journalist/historian Dave MacPherson who has focused for about 40 years on the earliest beginnings of pretrib dispensationalism. No one else to my knowledge has spent 40 months or even 40 weeks doing this. Well worth the time of those interested in the rapture debate. Bradley

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