During medical school in 1988 or 1989, I attended a Daniel and Revelation seminar. Large posters and billboards of beasts, nuclear explosions, tanks and words like “Armageddon” advertised the conference. I don’t remember many details, but I do recall much discussion about the rise of Communism predicted in Revelation and a coming war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The preacher added, “God has given us this prophecy so that we are not caught off guard.” A few years later, of course, the Soviet Union dropped out of most Revelation seminars to be replaced by more contemporary issues such as terrorism, Islam or Iran. This approach illustrates a problem with most interpretations of this book. What approach should we take? Preterists view Revelation as describing things that have already happened, mainly surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Futurists/dispensationalists, such as the makers of the “Left Behind” series, see this book as a future “dispensation” and have complex charts and graphs to show what will happen in the end. Historicists look to tie the story into an ongoing line of history, eagerly searching for the next pope or world leader to fit into the historical timeline. Is there another approach?
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