I am a believer in the concept of biblical patterns and double or even multiple fulfillments of prophecy. The destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av, 586 BC and again on the 9th of Av, AD 70 evidence the pattern-like nature of God’s dealings.
Still, prophecies usually have one “more literal” fulfillment (e.g., Isaiah 7:14). So it is possible to examine a verse, see how it was fulfilled somewhat near to the prophecy, but then see a fuller fulfillment in the future. Thus the Book of Revelation can have several fulfillments, one that is past, one that is ideological and not tied to particular dates, and one that is somewhat more literal, sequential, and tied to the End Times. Thus the “Futurist” approach to Revelation is not necessarily mutually exclusive, but is, I believe, primary.
Does Jewish literature leave us an example, a clue for interpreting Revelation 4-19 in particular? Although many of us tie this period to Daniel’s 70th seven (Daniel 9:25ff), others see it otherwise. So what evidence is there—outside of the Bible proper—that suggests understanding Revelation 4-19 as an expansion and detailed account of the coming seven-year world tribulation? Glad you asked.
Read the series so far.
Our Lord assured us that it was impossible to date the rapture of the church. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36; cf. vss. 42, 44, 50; and Mark 13:32-37).
Amazing! Not even the Savior knew the date of His coming again. During the days of His non-glorified human existence—for a third of a century—our Lord set aside the independent exercise of His divine attributes of greatness (omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence), not His moral attributes (holiness, truth, love, etc.). That is the meaning of Phil. 2:7 and 8—He “made Himself of no reputation… He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Over and over again, our LORD explained: “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28); and “the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak…Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:49, 50; cf. 5:20, 7:16, 8:38, 8:40, 15:15, 17:8).
No book has been the subject of more fanciful interpretations than the book of Revelation. Various interpreters throughout the ages have wrestled with how to understand the many foreign and vivid images. It is no wonder then, that so few have gone on to explain to the average Christian what it might mean for their lives. As such, the discussion of the book of Revelation has been dominated by proper interpretive method at the expense of practical and contemporary significance. Revelation was after all written to seven churches and it is for the church today.
Paul’s reply to the questions asked by the Corinthian church about the resurrection body is highly significant and enlightening. First, the substance of that body will be different: “And what you sow [in death, like a seed that is planted], you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain” (NKJV, 1 Cor. 15:37). It is amazing how different is the substance of a stalk of corn from the substance of the tiny kernel that is planted in the ground—from which it came!
On the other hand, the identity of the body that is raised or raptured is the same as the non-glorified body from which it came. “But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body” (1 Cor. 15:38). Perhaps we will even have the same fingerprints!
This principle of continued identity in the midst of changing substance can be illustrated quite easily. I have crossed the great Mississippi River many times. It is always the same river, but not one particle of water in that part of the river I crossed is the same—even an hour later. As for our human bodies, every molecule that was in me 10 years ago has been replaced by another. It has the same identity—but with a different substance.