The book highlights the actions of the divine, rather than the actions of man.
However, if one takes the historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, the moral content is not lessened. It then stands as an example of what happens to one if they continue to act in a certain way. It is another example of God's punishment and wrath for those that do not obey his word. In this case the author would have been speaking about the many Gods and idol worship of the Romans at the time.
Whether one takes a historic perspective or a futuristic perspective, the moral lessons of the Book of Revelation remains intact. The intent of the author to change the reader's mind was cleat. This was not simply reading meant to entertain. One must also consider that the author would have had a limited readership at the time of his writing. The ability to read and write was limited to the upper classes of society. A majority of the population was illiterate and relied on those with a higher education to relay events, news of the day, and moral lessons.
In the final verses of Revelation the author admonishes the reader not to change the text in any way as it is the word of God. This would be even more important if the reader were expected to disseminate the knowledge to the masses. The author obviously intends the work to be read to a select few and then this message will be spread to the masses by this group of readers.
The Book of Revelation begins in the traditional manner with formal greetings to the audience. The book then goes on to recite seven letters to seven churches as received by John while on the island of Patmos. The details of these letters spell death and destruction for the seven churches if they do not repent and return to the commands of the one true God. After these admonishments and personal criticisms directly addressed to the seven churches, God launches into a series of disasters that occur in groups of seven. These disasters lead to the final battle between good and evil. The beast reigns for a time before the ultimate destruction. After the earth is destroyed the new city is built. Peace and order are restored to the kingdoms of earth. There are many more details in the visions, but they are not important to the discussion of this analysis. When one breaks the story into its elements, it is easy to see the pattern of an epic.
The book is written in future tense. It talks about what will come to pass, not what has already passed. This is an important point to consider in this analysis as well. If one interprets the use of tense literally, then it would appear to completely undermine the historical perspective altogether. The author was intent on keeping the book consistently future tense, so that it represents things to come, not things that have been.
However, there is another way to look at the use of tense from a historical perspective as well. The author may have been attempting to get his work discredited by those that would destroy it. To those that were of different faith, claiming to know things that would happen in the future may seem to be a bit unbelievable. Using future tense may have been a means to keep his enemies off the trail.
If one is of a less literal, more symbolic interpretation of the Bible then there are many possibilities as far as the use of future tense is concerned. The first is that the events were about to happen within a short time after the writing of the book. John may have been reflecting the local politics and the direction that new Christian churches were headed. He may have been giving them a plan for survival in fear that they would be crushed in the upheaval.
If one interprets the events as things that have not yet happened, an apocalyptic view, then the same warning would apply to the modern church and modern man in general. Once again we are back the common theme of warnings in the symbolic interpretation. There is yet another possibility in the use of tense. It may be intended to serve a dual purpose. It may reflect things that have been as well as things to come. However, that is yet to be seen and no one can really know for certain. If one follows the hints suggested by the author, then it may well be possible to be both historical and prophetic in the modern sense of the word.
Let us now consider the viewpoint and world of the author. In order to understand the writings of any author one must step into his world for a short time. This is true of modern literary works well as historical ones. It goes without saying that everyone who listens to mass media in some form has been exposed to interpretations of the book of Revelation. They have appeared in popular magazines and the in the mass media in many forms. A majority of the opinions on the book of Revelation are based on the prophetic viewpoint. However, there have been some that were intended to debunk the prophetic viewpoints by linking them to historical events of the time. A review of the Book of Revelation would not be complete without examining these different interpretations that appear in the mass media.
The prophecy debunkers, as they will be called, rely on tying events in the book of Revelation to certain historic events. They claim that this discredits the usefulness of the book of Revelation as a map of things to come. The most common action is to then jump to an argument that they have gotten inside the world of the author by exploring the historical climate in which he lived.
However, one cannot rely on the historical events of the day to paint an accurate picture of the world of the individual. One must put our self in the place of the author in order to gain a true understanding. We are not living at the time of the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, but we can draw an important analogy to our own lives. By doing this we may come to understand the underlying meaning of the Book of Revelation.
Every day we are exposed to the mass media. We turn on the television and read the newspaper as a part of our daily lives. We have much more access to world events as they unfold. We are used to getting the news as it happened. However, in ancient times this was not so. News traveled slowly. Often the common person may not have heard about major events until months or years after they happened. We will assume that the author of the Book of Revelation is of the learned class; therefore he would have had access to the information before the masses would have heard about them.
However, in our own times, we know that there is a lot of talk about media bias. This has been particularly true of the recent fighting regarding the war between Israel and Hezbollah. One side may seek to persuade others to support them in several ways: by putting out only part of the truth, by exaggerating anything that supports their viewpoint, or by disallowing information that could harm them. Now let's take that argument back two thousand years. John may have been like the reporter behind enemy lines that wanted to get a certain viewpoint across. If he were caught, then it could be dangerous.
If one looks at the passages about the rapture, deliverance of the believers, and the rebuilding of the holy city, then it would appear as a passage of support for Christianity. It would appear to bring hope to those that seem to have lost hope. It is a comforting word that someday they will prevail and find ultimate happiness. Now let us go back to that perspective issue.
John obviously has much more information about regional and global events than the common person. We have established that he intended for the message to be passed on from a more learned group of readers to a less literate and uninformed population segment. It was clear that there was a great importance in the accuracy of the message as well. When we put these three elements together, one begins to conjure the picture of the deliverance of that message to the people. We do not know if the message was delivered to masses in a public square, or if it had to be delivered and passed from person to person secretively. However, we do know that it was passed and that it was meant to spur the recipient into action, even if that action were to…