Down through the centuries there have been many Biblical scholars who were certain that their generation was the fulfillment of the book of Revelation. They have all been wrong! In recent times scholars were certain that World War One was the end and others equally certain about Hitler being the antichrist in World War Two.
In this generation there are many Bible students and scholars who are certain that they have deciphered the mysteries of Biblical prophecy. The problem is that they do not agree with each other.
For example, there are four separate and distinct views among sincere Bible scholars and commentators concerning the book of Revelation, which means at least three if not all four are wrong!
1. The "Historicist" view which sees Revelation as a prewritten record of the course of history from the time of the apostle to the end of the world.
2. The "Preterist" view which sees the fulfillment of Revelation's prophecies as already having occurred in what is now the ancient past not long after john's own time.
3. The "Futurist" view believes that the majority of the prophecies of Revelation have not yet been fulfilled and await a future fulfillment.
4. The "Symbolic" view which takes Revelation to be a great drama depicting spiritual realities such as the battle between Christ and Satan.
Then, to further confuse the issues, "experts" are conflicted concerning chapters 20 through 22 which are interpreted according to when Satan will be bound and the time of the return of Jesus.
1. Pre-Millennial - The binding of Satan is future and will take place when Christ returns. The thousand years begins after Jesus returns.
2. Amillennial - The binding of Satan represents the victory of Christ over Satan accomplished at the cross. The thousand years is symbolic of a long period before Jesus returns - corresponding to the age of the present church.
3. Postmillennial - The thousand years speaks of a future point in time before Jesus returns in which the church will have victory over Satan and will bring the return of Jesus.
Again, they cannot all be right - therefore, some are wrong. There are many permutations (such as Pre-Tribulation Rapture - Mid Tribulation Rapture and Post-Tribulation rapture) and even some crossing over between views of Revelation and the Millennial reign of Jesus, which serves to further the confusion.
These different views are the source of much contention among believers and they often fight heatedly over who is right, turning their focus from salvation to revelation.
Historically speaking no one (that we know of) has ever understood the prophecies until the prophesied events actually happened. For example the Jewish Bible scholars never understood the prophecies about Jesus, even when he stood among them.
The true purpose of prophecy is not to show us the future except in a most general way. Rather, the purpose is to validate the Bible as the true word of God who was able to write about future events which came to pass hundreds of years later. Only God could do that miracle, therefore we can trust His word.
Our modern day prophecy experts have not fared any better than their predecessors. In recent years we have the failed interpretations of Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth). Hal stated: "the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it. And later that "Christians should not plan to still be on earth by the year 2000."
Hal should have taken a lesson from the Millerites of 1844 who were certain that they knew when Jesus would return - and thousands of faithful followers made preparations for the end of the world - some selling all their possessions.
Does that sound familiar? One of our present day prophecy experts - Harold Camping predicted the end and even gave the date.
"Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, whereupon the righteous would fly up to heaven, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world. He had previously predicted that Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994."
Many of Camping's faithful followers sold their possessions and gave the money to Camping to tell the world about the destruction which was to come very soon.
My point is this: We will not understand the specific events of prophecy in the Bible until they occur. Our response to the dire warnings in the Bible should be to live spiritually and morally as if Jesus were to return today - and plan our lives and finances as if it will be a hundred years before Jesus comes.
This is all we "need" to know about prophecy:
JESUS IS GOING TO RETURN AND WE BETTER BE READY!