What approach does your study guide take to Daniel and Revelation?

Q. I see you have a book on Daniel/Revelation. My interest lies with how you approach these two books. Are you one or more of the following:
– Preterist, Idealist, Historicist, Futurist
– Postmillennial, Amillennial, Premillennial
– Pre-tribulational, Mid-tribulational, Post-tribulational
Thanks!

Thank you for your interest in the Daniel-Revelation study guide. Let me mention first that the guide is available for free download at this link.

In answer to your question about the interpretive approach, let me quote from the guide itself, which says this on pp. 69–70 about its own approach to Revelation (the same applies for Daniel):

The book of Revelation is interpreted in four major ways. The futurist approach understands it to be a description of the events of the “end times,” at the end of human history. (Works like the novels and movies in the Left Behind series follow this approach.) The historicist view sees the book as a prediction of the whole course of history, from Jesus and the apostles down through the present to the end of the world. The idealist interpretation is that Revelation depicts the struggles and triumphs that followers of Jesus will experience everywhere, but it doesn’t have any particular place or time in view. The preterist approach is to try to understand the book by reference to the time and place it was written in—western Asia Minor towards the close of the first century. This study guide will consistently pursue a preterist interpretation. If this is new for you, and you’re used to hearing the book treated differently, just try to keep an open mind and look for the potential benefits of this approach as you and your group do the sessions together.

As for views about the millennium, when the guide gets to the passage in Revelation that depicts a thousand-year reign of Christ, it doesn’t promote one view over the others; rather, on p. 125 it offers groups the following discussion question. (The three views described are postmillennialism, premillennialism,and amillennialism, respectively.)

The idea of a “millennium” or thousand-year reign of Christ has been an inspiration to followers of Jesus throughout the ages. Many have expected a period of universal peace and justice to arrive on earth through social reform, education, and reconciliation efforts spearheaded by Jesus’ followers. (This expectation fueled crusades for the abolition of slavery, public education, the vote for women, temperance, pacifism, an end to child labor, etc.) Others have held that only the Second Coming of Christ could definitively bring about such a period. And still others have understood the millennium spiritually, as a picture of Christ’s reign in heaven and in the hearts of believers. Which of these views is closest to your understanding? (If you’ve never thought about this before, take some time to decide.) What positive value do you see in the other views? What “action steps” does each of these views call for?

Finally, to answer the third part of your question, on pp. 91–92 the guide says the following about the “tribulation”:

When the fifth seal is opened, those who have given their lives for Jesus appear “under the altar,” since they’ve given their lives as a sacrifice. They’re told to “wait a little longer,” not for the full number of those who will believe, but for the full number of those who will be killed. John is warning that soon anyone who chooses to follow Jesus will need to be prepared to give their life for him: Everyone in the “great multitude” is wearing a white robe, showing that they’re all martyrs, or they’re willing to be. Here Revelation describes the coming period of deadly persecution as “the great tribulation,” meaning a time of severe trial. Followers of Jesus in other times and places have also experienced their own “great tribulations,” when many of them have been killed for their faith. Many interpreters believe that there will be a climactic conflict between good and evil at the end of human history, and at that time, followers of Jesus all over the world will experience the same kind of “great tribulation.”

The guide does not address the issue of a rapture either before, during, or after the tribulation; rather, it offers the following two discussion questions for groups to work through together:

• Why do you think God allows so many of his followers to be killed by those who oppose him? Does God see some positive value in their deaths?

• Would you want to be a follower of Jesus if you knew it could cost you your life? If your answer is yes, why would it be worth it to die for him?

Thank you again for your interest, and I hope you’ll have a look at the guide.

The original cover of the Daniel-Revelation study guide

 

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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