Reading the Revelation

Alright, some of us have been reading the book of Revelation. I thought that the Idealist view was very helpful the last time I did a concentrated study of this book. At my suggestion we are using Leon Morris' commentary along with a book that emphasizes the parallels called "Unlocking the Mystery of Revelation" by James Knotek. the approach found in these commentaries has some pretty big speed bumps in it for those of us who are in the habit of reading it as referring to future events. We may have been better off using something like the "Four Views.." book by zondervan as a companion to our reading the text..but oh well.

A different approach to the book sounds so odd if we are used to reading it as a timeline with chapter 4 through 22 applying to events that will begin only at the last seven years of tribulation which will end of this age. I am convinced that the timeline with chapter 4 to be inaugurated at some future date is not the most fruitful way to understand this book.

The timeline-in-the-future approach has the advantage of maintaining a literal feel to the way we read some of the imagery in Revelation. This feel is naturally attractive to those of us who stand against reading biblical narrative like the flood account as if it were Myth. Yet I still think the time-line approach gets in the way of much that God intends to reveal to his people in this rich book.

Here are a few lines from Robert Mounce in the NICNT commentary that touch on timing and symbolism.
On Rev.1:1-3 he notes:
The most satisfying solution is to take the expression "must soon take place" in the straight forward sense, remembering that in the prophetic outlook the end is always imminent. (In biblical prophecy temporal judgements are regularly expressed against the backdrop of the final eschatological events. This is a profoundly theological view, in which everything God does by way of judgement is to be understood in light of the final events.) Time as chronological sequence is of secondary concern in prophecy. This pespective is common to the entire NT. Jesus taught that God would vindicate his elect without delay (Luke 18:8), and Paul wrote to the Romans that God would soon crush Satan under their feet (Rom 16:20).

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