Much of what I have used in this study has been from a historical view of Revelation, which was common and almost universal in the Protestant church before the 1844 Advent Movement. It was during that movement when much of the emerging evangelical church embraced a more futuristic understanding of Revelation. As noted, I have studied most of the perspectives of Revelation and have found some merit to most of them. However, some of the holes and contradictions in the futuristic perspective would be resolved with an understanding of the historic view.
Of course, some who hold to an extreme historic view usually have some holes and contradictions as well, and these would be well served to study some of the futuristic views. According to I Corinthians 13, we all “see in part,” and “know in part.” To get a complete picture, we need to be open to others who have pieces we do not have.
One interesting perspective of Revelation is that history is an ever ascending and tightening spiral that culminates at the apex at the end of the age. For example, there have been many antichrist types in history, but as history unfolded, each new one would be more like the ultimate one that would appear at the end of the age. Napoleon may have been more like the ultimate version than the previous antichrist types, but Hitler was even more of an antichrist type than Napoleon.
For those of you that are serious students of Revelation and biblical prophecy, I would like to recommend The Islamic Antichrist by Joel Richardson. This book has is a futuristic view, but I think it has a great deal of merit. It is a well-deserved New York Times Bestseller, and the parallels between the Islamic Mahdi and the Christian Antichrist are remarkable. This book is also one of the best studies of the Islam proclaimed by The Koran, which must be understood to comprehend what is happening in the world today.
There is still much room for openness and humility in any perspective of the Books of Daniel and Revelation, and I have a personal distrust of any who are overly dogmatic about their perspective. That does not mean that we cannot have confidence in the parts that we see, but when one is prone to belittle or attack others that have a different view, it is usually a sign of weakness in their position. We must seek truth that we can have confidence in, but understanding that we “know in part” also requires that we remain open and teachable. To date, those who become dogmatic in their perspective of biblical prophecy are in the most danger of becoming like the first century Pharisees and opposing the purposes of the Lord they claim to serve.
Again, the most important characteristic for those who would know the times is to know Jesus Christ, the Purpose for the Revelation and the Purpose for all things that were created. The Book of Revelation was given as a “revelation of Jesus Christ” (see Revelation 1:1) , not a revelation of the antichrist or of unfolding events. For this reason, we should devote our attention to understanding what Christ is doing rather than what may be unfolding in regard to the antichrist. We can know all mysteries, but if we are not living in God’s will, then we are deceived in a much more profound and destructive way.
The culmination of the Revelation we are about to study still has many things to illuminate about the evil that will yet unfold. Yet even more importantly, it is about the glory of God that is about to be revealed through Jesus Christ and His followers. It will be “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” I will be great for those who are abiding in Him and terrible for those who are not.
This is one of the ultimate purposes for the whole story of man—there are two roads, two choices, and they both come to a conclusion at the end. For those who are here to see it, this will be the ultimate privilege and honor. When “darkness covers the earth, and deep darkness the people” it will also be the time when the glory of the Lord arises and appears on His people (see Isaiah 60:1-3).