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A View from the Altar / The Book of Revelation
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The Book of Revelation

Nobody would dispute the fact that the Book of Revelation is mysterious.  With layer upon layer of symbolism, some readers feel at liberty make of it what they please.

But when you gain some altitude and look at the general sweep of the book, a rational literary plot comes into easy focus.  The book starts where you’d expect, that is, in the church age and includes admonitions and encouragement for the churches.  The scene then shifts to events in heaven where we’re presented with a scroll which only the Lamb can open.  As he begins to open the seals on the scroll, a series of enormous disasters falls upon the earth.  The seals are followed by trumpets of judgment and vials (or bowls) of judgment which, like the seals, result in calamities of global proportion falling on the earth.  Midway through the book we learn about the Lord’s two witnesses as well Satan’s beast and false prophet.  The witnesses are slain, and the beast and false prophet take over the world with a religious and economic tyranny.  At the end of all the disasters John introduces us to Babylon which appears in two aspects, one commercial and one religious.  Babylon is overthrown at the return of Jesus who is  followed by the armies of heaven.  The beast and his false prophet are destroyed, and Satan is chained within the abyss.  There ensues a 1,000 year period of peace followed by Satan’s release and final destruction, a final judgment, then the eternal state is detailed for us.

That’s a basic survey of the Book of Revelation.  A basic outline of premillennial eschatology mirrors it exactly.  Sure, there are lots of minor variations in the details described by premillennialists, but the basic outline is always the same.  The church age is ongoing and will eventually decline into worldwide judgment near the end of the age.  This will culminate in Christ returning in vengeance to reign on Earth as he does in Heaven.  At the end of that earthly reign of 1,000 years, Christ will destroy Satan, pass final judgment on all flesh, then create a new heavens and new earth.

It’s not hard to see, therefore, that basic premillennialism follows the Book of Revelation in a straightforward, uncomplicated way.

The postmillennialist believes history will run the other way.  The Gospel church will expand and become ever more influential until it covers all the earth and buries every other religion and philosophy beneath Christian truth.  At the consummation of a long age of ever-growing triumph, Christ will return in peace, not vengeance, to reign over a church that has already won everything that needed winning.  Our postmill brethren have their reasons for believing this way; I just find their reasons run counter to the general sweep of revelation… and especially Revelation.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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