I am guilty of diarrhea theology -- writing many words that muddies ideas and adds little clarification. New Kid rightly asks me to write plainly -- to cut to the chase. Here is what I believe concerning Revelation and eschatology:
- When Christ came 2000 years ago, He opened the new age in which we live. This is when the millennium began because salvation was now being offered to all the nations.
- How do we know we are in the millennium? The gospel is advancing throughout the world. Satan is bound, he cannot stop the spread of the gospel.
- We also live in the tribulation. That began with Christ's first advent and will continue until his second coming.
- I believe that Christ prophesied about the fall of Jerusalem in the Olivet discourse. But much of Christ coming in the clouds in glory speaks of the yet to happen second coming of Christ. I am open to a visitation of Christ in judgement in 70 AD, but that was not the close of the age then. The new age began with Christ's first advent and we are living in the millennial age that he ushered in.
- Revelation is first and foremost about: “Jesus is gonna win!” (Poythress' quote of a janitor who read Revelation). It is the gospel of God's redemption of his people throughout history. It is about God's grace granting perseverance, sealing the Christians, and keeping them through all difficulties and trials. Its the story of difficult times with a glorious ending. Its the story of God actively involved right now, Christ ruling with his iron rod right now and summing all things up.
- Revelation paints history in a series of overlays, repeated looks at history, painting different aspects of history. This view is called recapitulation.
- Some of what Revelation speaks of have historical identification. Nero is possibly one of these, but Nero is not the final word of that kind of history, but a pattern.
- There is nothing in principle that must happen before Jesus' second coming.
- There may or may not be a final great tribulation yet to come. If there is, we should be able to see signs of its coming -- but it may come very quickly. This may be accompanied by the great apostasy. Further, given what has happened globally in the past century to other Christians around the world, we may indeed be in the great tribulation.
- God's kingdom is advancing.
- Christians achieve victory throughout Revelation in an ironic way. In the eyes of the world, Christians look or will look defeated in persecution, trial, and death. But these are the very things through which Christians are vindicated and victorious.
In summary, Christ is ruling. Christ is active in all Christians' lives even when they are in the midst of intense persecution and suffering. Christians will persevere because they are sealed and protected by God. Thus Christians do not need to fear the future or worry whether they can "hang on" in difficulty -- God will make sure they hang on.
The view I hold to is sometimes called "idealism" (poor name), amillennialism (also a poor name because that is just one part of many things about the view and it is postmillennial), and eclectic (in that it seems to pull concepts from various other views).