TODAY’S READING: Revelation 1–5
Four broad schools of interpretation have influenced how we understand Revelation. “Preterists” apply the book to John’s lifetime and the persecution of Domitian. “Historicists” view the book as describing the events from the ascension of Christ to His return. “Futurists” think the book refers mainly to the end times and the events that immediately precede Christ’s coming. “Idealists” maintain that Revelation is not a specific description of future events, but a symbolic picture of the cosmic conflict between the kingdom of God and the forces of evil.
In my view, the book of Revelation is not granted to us that we make specific timelines for future events, for wise men are not dogmatic about the details and dates of their eschatology. Wise men and women read the apocalyptic sections of Scripture to be reminded and assured that God is sovereignly good and in complete control of all (including the future) and that King Jesus is coming soon. The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek word apokalypto, which literally means unveiling. Revelation 1:1 then should be understood as the unveiling of Jesus: both Jesus revealed and Jesus revealing. When we read Revelation with a hunger to know more of Jesus and His glorious plan for the nations of the world, we emerge from that reading worshipful and awe-filled, not befuddled and afraid.
The cosmic conflict view of Revelation (that culminates when Jesus returns) has the most grounds for sure footing. The conflict is about glory: Who gets it, why they get it, and from whom they get it. The Bible rightly culminates in pointing out that Jesus will get all the glory from all the nations, from all the people groups of earth. Various churches are described in Revelation 1–3 and all given rewards if they overcome, but the focus of Revelation is not on the bride, but the Bridegroom. Who is worthy of Glory? “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Why is God worthy of glory and from whom? “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9).
Revelation simply reminds us that Jesus is worthy of glory and He will receive it from representatives of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. This is the story of the Bible. This is the heart and mission of God. This is what we were born for. This is what is worth living and dying for. And this is what happens when time surrenders: Jesus glorified, worshiped, and enjoyed forever by members of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. This is why we say that God is a missionary God and that the Bible is a missionary book. This is why we must all be His missionary people and calibrate all our mind, soul, and strength to the less missionary vision: Jesus, the endless praise of every people group, of every tongue, of every creature (5:13–14).
 The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 1409.