I wrote a book last year The Revelation Project, which is a verse-by-verse devotional from Revelation. In that devotional, I tried to take some of the mystery out of interpreting Revelation, although its style will continue to challenge any reader until the Lord returns.
I woke up this morning thinking about the situation in Somalia, where it is estimated that one million people will starve in this latest drought. When you add that to the news of the revolution in Libya and the earthquake earlier in the year in Japan, along with the hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq, you get a picture that is pretty dark and gloomy. The question on many minds is: Can these be signs of the end?
The answer is, "Yes, they can be" But who knows for sure? Many men have enriched themselves and obtained a following by pretending to know. Truth is, they don't know and anyone who claims to know, well, I will leave that conclusion up to you.
I choose to interpret these events in light of Revelation 16:9: "They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."
The message of Revelation is that there will be wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes and other cataclysmic events. There will be a host of dictators and philosophies that will raise their ugly heads, aided by the great accuser of the saints and even God, and declare that they are divine and worthy of worship and allegiance.
Yet in the midst of all this, Jesus, the Lamb, sits on the throne and rules. What's more, the cataclysms all happen so that men may repent and turn to God! As Revelation continues in the latter chapters to outline the fall of Babylon and the harlot who served her, this is what was written: "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments" (Revelation 19:1-2).
What is our response to be when these events occur? We are to shout, "Hallelujah!" If these things are a sign of the end, then our message should not be preoccupied with who the beast or dragon are, but with the message of the times; "Repent and turn to God, for His kingdom is at hand."
Enough of these foolish speculations about the end. Our message is about the Lamb, not the beast, about the Christ, not the anti-Christ. I urge you to read Revelation through different eyes and stop this silly infatuation with end time fables. Instead, focus on the end time victory that is assured to Christ and His followers again and again in the book of Revelation. If this is the end, and it may be, then we should redouble our efforts to get the word out: Jesus is alive, well and on the throne. Anyone who chooses to put his or her trust in Him is immune not from the suffering of the end times, but of the eternal suffering promised to the dragon and his followers. That is not a message of gloom but one of joy. Get busy being an agent and herald of that joy.