How To Read Revelation
1. “Preterit” View (means “past tense”) holds that all the events of Revelation have to do with the time from about 90 AD to 135 when Jerusalem was destroyed.
2. Historical View – this sees that the 7 churches and the other 7’s (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, Visions) cover the whole history of the church from the time of John until the end of time. These “7’s” basically repeat the same time period from a different perspective. This is usually associated with the Amillennial position, which says that the Millennium (Revelation 20) is a symbol of the Church age.
3. Futurist View – this holds that everything from chapter 4 to 22 has to do with the future. Specifically it all has to do with the Great Tribulation, which is the 7 year period of the Anti-Christ. The first half of which (3 ½ years or 42 months or 1260 days) is peaceful, but the second half is the time of persecution and wrath. This is generally held by the Dispensational Position (e.g. Schofield Bible, Dallas Seminary, Moody Bible Inst., Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, “Left Behind” books.) This is the most popular Evangelical position. It sees that the church is not present in these times, but has been raptured to heaven. Generally the seals, trumpets and bowls as well as the other visions are seen as going in chronological order, end to end from Chapter 4 to 22.
4. Idealist View – This view holds that the visions are mostly symbolic. They do not have specific historical fulfillments, but express symbolically the themes that all Christians face such as the need to persevere, the victory of Christ, persecution and judgment.
5. Hybrid Positions
- Historical Premillennial – in this view some of Revelation 4 to 22 pertains to the church age. Some hold that the church is raptured part way through the 7 years (Mid Tribulation, or Pre Wrath). Others hold that the church is preserved through the tribulation but dues not experience God’s wrath, only the persecution of Men. Generally the Seals, Trumpets and Bowls are seen as progressing to the last days, but that they overlap.
- Some of This and some of That; Some commentators see that there may have been an initial fulfillment in the day of the early church, and during the church age but that there will be a final fulfillment in the last days. Nero, Domitian and other persecutors act like previews of a later and greater period of trouble.
Applied to Revelation 12
1. The persecution under Rome in 70 and 135 are described in vivid terms.
2. The persecution of Israel and the Church is described in symbolic terms.
3. This is the story of Israel. Verse 1-5 have to do with the Birth of the Messiah to Israel, and the rest are the events of the Great Tribulation, with Israel, the Dragon and the tribulation believers described in the events. I.e. v. 6 to 12 is in the future.
4 and 5. this is the story of Israel (up to v. 5) and the church from the time of John down to the Return of Christ. Satan first tried to destroy Christ, then his church.