Read: Spirit of Hope
I believe in prophecy. I believe the Bible contains passages that point to the final triumph of righteousness, the coming of the Kingdom, and a new heaven and earth.
But I have never been able to buy into the “blueprint for the end times” interpretation so often given to the Book of Revelation. The interpretation that connects the daily news to the last book in the Bible often leaves me wondering how television teachers can be so sure about literature which is apocalyptic–that is, by nature, a mystery.
That does not mean I see no futuristic significance to the Book of Revelation, because I realize all literature conveys truth in ways relevant for the past, present, and future. If that were not so, we would be wasting our time reading anything written in the past.
The question is, what kind of truth is it that the Book of Revelation gives us? And I agree with McLaren that the best single-word answer is that it gives us hope.
Hope that evil does not have the final word, no matter how despots line up and nations conspire. Hope that no matter what befalls us, God is with us. I believe, as McLaren does, that these are the messages the first readers of Revelation saw in its message, and it is what God wants to reveal to us in its pages today. God wants to strengthen us with an all-the-time confidence, not an end-time calendar.
We read the Book of Revelation not to get a schedule, but a spirit–the spirit of hope. When we read Revelation as the first Christians did, we are able to sing with the saints of the ages that “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”