There is no other book that I can think of that has so profoundly shaped my theology regarding the end times than Revelation: The Church In The Final Conflict by J.E. van den Brink.
This book is now out of print, and difficult to find (though from time to time you can see them popping up (used) on Amazon or Ebay if you’re looking), but it is a true gem if you can get your hands on one.
Most books on Revelation get bogged down in trying to figure out the combinations, trying to put time-lines to things, or trying to match up real-world politics and current events with scripture.
As such, they miss the point entirely.
Mark 13:32-33: But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
Most authors focus exactly on this thing – figuring out the day and hour, and as such, their discerning necessarily becomes twisted in order to make things work. Typologies that mean one thing all through scripture now get interpreted literally all of a sudden, thus destroying the consistency of scripture. Whenever you look at scripture in such a way as to try to prove your pre-assumed position, you’re going to end up awry. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal the truth of the Word, and in most cases, that truth cuts across our prior assumptions.
One of the things that I most appreciated about J.E. van den Brink was that he would take the typology in question (for instance, hail or blood) and find it elsewhere in scripture, thus showing how it is to be interpreted outside of Revelation, and then showing how the interpretation is consistent in Revelation.
As such, this book is mainly about interpreting the pictures and typologies that are presented in Revelation, in light of the rest of scripture. He doesn’t focus on making predictions. In addition, understanding what is being taught in Revelation is extremely relevant for our daily lives, and not just for the last days of our planet.
A Spiritual, Not Natural Interpretation
The main focus of this book is interpreting the typologies from a spiritual perspective, rather than a natural one. Our war is not with flesh and blood (2 Cor 10:5), and I don’t believe that is what Revelation is all about either. Another important point is that Revelation is most commonly seen as the book where the Antichrist is revealed; however, the entire purpose of the book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ – not the Antichrist.
Revelation tells the story of the triumphant end-time church and Jesus Christ’s return, but in focusing on correlating Revelation with current events, most authors get so bogged down in the bad things that are happening, that they forget this is going to be a victorious time for the church. Incredibly difficult, to be fair, but victorious nonetheless. For the same reasons, with their focus off Christ Jesus, they miss the spiritual lessons we need to learn in order to become that mature end-time church – the bride of Christ.
I highly recommend Revelation: The Church in the Final Conflict for anyone who wants to understand Revelation, but I encourage you to approach it with a mind that is submitted to Christ and trust that He will reveal the truth to you.
Note: This book is now available to read for free online at StolenSpirit.com. The first chapter starts here.