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And I hope that you are going to read it with me. As I have said, I approach the Book of Revelation with fear and trembling, not primarily because of a lack of competence on my part although that may be self—evident , but many other factors enter into this feeling.
Revelation Study Guide
First of all, there may be a lack of knowledge on the part of the readers. You see, the Book of Revelation is the sixty—sixth book of the Bible, and it comes last. This means that we need to know sixty—five other books before we get to this place. You need to have the background of a working knowledge of all the Bible that precedes it.
You need to have a feel of the Scriptures as well as have the facts of the Scriptures in your mind.
The Book of Revelation Revealed: An In-Depth Study on the Book of Revelation by Hilton Sutton
There is a second factor that gives me a feeling of alarm as I enter this book. It is the contemporary climate into which we are giving these studies in Revelation. It is not primarily because of a skeptical and doubting age—although it is certainly that—but it is because of these dark and difficult and desperate days in which we live.
We see the failure of leadership in every field—government, politics, science, education, military, and entertainment. Since the educators cannot control even their own campuses, how are they going to supply leadership for the world? Business is managed by tycoons. And the actors can be heard on the media talk programs. Listening to them for only a brief time reveals that they have nothing to say. They do a lot of talking, but they say nothing that is worthwhile.
None of these groups or segments of our society have any solutions. They are failures in the realm of leadership. There is a glaring lack of leadership. There is no one to lead us out of this moral morass or out of the difficult and Laocoon—like problems which have us all tangled up. We are living in a very difficult time, my friend. In fact, I think that it is one of the worst in the history of the church.
Knowledgeable men have been saying some very interesting things about this present hour. Please note that I am not quoting from any preachers but from outstanding men in other walks of life. John R. Chancellor Robert M. Luce, the owner of Life, Time, and Fortune magazines, addressed a group of missionaries who were the first to return to their fields after the war.
Speaking in San Francisco, he made the statement that when he was a boy, the son of a Presbyterian missionary in China, he and his father often discussed the premillennial coming of Christ, and he thought that all missionaries who believed in that teaching were inclined to be fanatical. And then Mr. Raymond B. Time is short. The end of everything we call life is close at hand. To make the picture even more bleak, the modern church has no solutions for the problems of this hour in which we are living.
There was a phenomenal growth in church membership, especially after World War II, but that took place for only a few years. The growth went from 20 percent of the population in to 35 percent of the population in That was the high point of Protestant church membership.
An Enduring Vision: Revelation Revealed
And it would indicate the possibility of a church on fire for God. Then it had wealth and was building tremendous programs, but recently the church has begun to lose, and it certainly is not affecting the contemporary culture of the present hour. As we look out at the world in this present hour, we see that it is really in a mess. For a long time now men in high positions have looked into the future and have said that there is a great crisis coming. I wonder what they would say if they lived in our day!
As a result of this foreboding, there has been a growing interest in the Book of Revelation. Although good expositors differ on the details of the Book of Revelation, when it comes to the broad interpretation, there are four major systems. Broadus lists seven theories of interpretation and Tregelles lists three. The preterist interpretation is that all of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. This view was held by Renan and by most German scholars, also by Elliott. The purpose of the Book of Revelation was to bring comfort to the persecuted church and was written in symbols that the Christians of that period would understand.
This viewpoint has been answered and, I think, relegated to the limbo of lost things. Well, I believe that there is a certain amount of truth in this as far as the seven churches are concerned, as we shall see, but beyond that, it is obvious that the Book of Revelation is prophetic. The historical—spiritualist interpretation is a refinement of the historical theory and was advanced first by Sir William Ramsay.
This theory states that the two beasts are imperial and provincial Rome and that the point of the book is to encourage Christians. According to this theory, Revelation has been largely fulfilled and contains only spiritual lessons for the church today. The system we know today as amillennialism has, for the most part, adopted this view. It dissipates and defeats the purpose of the book.
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In the seminary of my denomination, I studied Revelation in both Greek and English from the standpoint of the amillennialist. That was their problem. The fact of the matter is that some very unusual interpretations arise from this viewpoint. One interpreter sees Luther and the Reformation in a symbol that to another student pictures the invention of the printing press! In my opinion, interpretations of this type have hurt and defeated the purpose of the Book of Revelation.
The futurist interpretation is the view which is held by all premillennialists and is the one which I accept and present to you. It sees the Book of Revelation as primarily prophetic. Most premillennialists follow a certain form of interpretation that conforms to the Book of Revelation. We will see this in the outline of the book. It begins with the revelation of the glorified Christ. Then the church is brought before us, and the whole history of the church is given. Then, at the end of chapter 3, the church goes to heaven and we see it, not as the church anymore, but as the bride which will come to the earth with Christ when He comes to establish His Kingdom—that thousand—year reign that John will tell us about.
It will be a time of testing, for at the end of that period Satan will be released for a brief season. Then the final rebellion is put down and eternity begins. This is the viewpoint of Revelation which is generally accepted. In our day there are many critics of this interpretation who not only attempt to discount it but say rather harsh things about it. One recent book of criticism, written by a layman, quotes me as being unable to answer his argument.
Well, the fact of the matter is that he called me at home one morning as I was getting ready to go to my office.
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In his book he makes the statement that I was unable to answer his question. If he misquotes the other Bible expositors as he misquotes me, I would have no confidence in his book whatsoever. In his book he maintains that the premillennial futurist viewpoint is something that is brand new. When I was a young man and a new Christian, I was introduced to the theory known as postmillennialism.
The postmillennialists believed that the world would get better and better, that the church would convert the whole world, and then Christ would come and reign. Well, that viewpoint is almost dead today. After two world wars, a worldwide depression, and the crises through which the world is passing, there are very few who still hold that viewpoint.