Last week, the Preterist Method of interpreting Revelation was introduced. It says that the book was meant for the first-century Christians, and had a direct application to them. It says that the events in Revelation were things that they would experience (see 1:1, 3). It takes God at His word when He said that Revelation was “to show His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (1:1, 22:6). But as with almost everything regarding the Bible, there are those who oppose this method. Let us consider their main objections:
- “This method makes the book ONLY have meaning for the original recipients, and has no message for us today.”
This is the most common argument, and those who use it claim it is the most powerful. In the Old Testament, there were prophetic books written about impending destructions upon a specific people during a specific time. Oddly enough, no one ever makes the claim that Jonah or Nahum or Obadiah ONLY had meaning for the original recipients and has no meaning for us today. If the Old Testament historical books can still have a message for us today, then so can the book of Revelation. If the Old Testament prophetic books can still have a message for us today, then so can the book of Revelation. If the gospel accounts and Acts can still have a message for us today, then so can Revelation. After all, each of them was written about things which have already taken place.
There are many lessons that can be learned and applied from Revelation when one interprets with the Preterist Method. We can learn about the nature of God and of Christ, how God views rebellion, that faithfulness is rewarded and unfaithfulness is punished, etc… This first objection is overruled.
- “This method implies that the church – a spiritual kingdom – would be concerned about the overthrow of a physical kingdom.”
The church – God’s kingdom – was undergoing severe persecution from a specific physical nation. This physical nation was trying to destroy Christianity, trying to get Christians to leave the faith and trying to coerce them to enter (or in some cases, re-enter) into a religious system that God did not approve of. In other words, this physical kingdom was trying to steal Christians’ very salvation from them. The book continually encourages Christians to remain faithful in the midst of this persecution. The very fact that a book was necessary to encourage them shows just how brutal the persecution was. This book is God’s way of saying, “I’ll take care of things; you just stay faithful.” It is God who rules in the affairs of men, and who controls the rise and fall of nations.
One last thing to consider regarding this objection is this: Jesus was concerned about the overthrow of a physical nation (see Matthew 23:34-24:34). If He—who was more spiritual than anyone else on earth—was concerned about it, why is it strange that His people also be? This objection is also overruled.