When we begin to read Revelation in the way the original author intended it to be read, we can begin to understand its intended meaning. We no longer read with the book of Revelation in one hand and a newspaper in the other. The newspaper will not help us understand Revelation. Knowing the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament will help us understand it.
When Reformed Christians are asked which millennial view they hold, some of the more cynical among them will sometimes answer: “I’m a panmillennialist. I believe it will all pan out in the end.” Much of this cynicism is due to frustration over the seemingly never-ending debates about the last things. It may also be due in some cases to exasperation with the endless train of falsified predictions of the rapture and/or second coming of Christ. For centuries, misguided teachers have repeatedly promised or strongly suggested to their contemporaries that they are the generation that will finally witness the end. I mean, isn’t it as plain as day that Napoleon Bonaparte was the Antichrist and that his exile was a sign that the end of the world was imminent? Some Christians who lived in that generation thought so. Their generation was not the first to fall into the trap of date-setting, and it certainly wasn’t the last. For centuries, numerous Christians have compared the headlines of their day with the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation and have convinced themselves and others that those books point to specific people and events in their time. This led to the mistaken belief that the end of the world was imminent.