Book of Revelation Perspectives From Faith Communities In Practice
Getting Biblical in Daily Life
Lots of religions have ideas about the end of the world, but Revelation hits on a specifically Christian view of how it's going to all go down. Let's take a stroll through some of the more memorable Christian views of Revelation.
Roman Catholic Perspective
Catholics accept the whole Nicean creed version of events. You know—Jesus "will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end." So that pretty much jives with what Revelation is saying.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catholics believe that we are already in "the last hour" (670), because Jesus's first coming started off God's big ol' plan for saving the world. The kingdom is at hand, but it's also kind of here, because the Church is here on Earth caring out God's mission.
But Jesus is going to come once again for a command performance. Before he does, there's going to be a huge "final trial […] in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth" (675). In other words, the Devil is going to try to trick us all. Let's just hope we don't fall for it.
God's going to come down hard on evil. There will be a huge "cosmic upheaval" and "the passing of this world" (677), and then things are going to quiet down and God will create a whole new kingdom of justice, love, and peace (and endless ice cream sundaes, we assume) (671-672). Of course, no one knows when this is going to happen, so keep watching and waiting, friends (673).
Lutherans tend to take the Bible as the true and literal word of God, so Revelation is definitely good to go (even though their founder Martin Luther didn't think too much of it).
Missouri Synod Lutherans believe that the church has been waiting for the return of Jesus since Pentecost and that we'll keep waiting until… um, whenever he feels good and ready to come back. Lutherans aren't big fans of trying to predict the date of Jesus's return. They say: "The church ought not therefore engage itself in uncertain speculations regarding the signs of the times. Rather, Christians must devote themselves to the clear proclamation of Law and Gospel, that people may, come to faith in Jesus Christ, and through daily repentance prepare for His coming" (source).
In other words, don't panic too much about when Jesus is going to come back. Just keep living the good (Christian) life and all will be well.
Jehovah's Witness Perspective
These guys believe pretty strongly in Revelation's version of events. They teach that, since 1914, we've been living in the last days. Eventually, we'll move into "the period that Jesus called the 'great tribulation'" and then there'll be Armageddon. But, Armageddon won't be the bummer you'd think—as long as you're on the right side. Accept Christ and fight with the armies of Heaven and you're pretty much guaranteed a win (source).
What happens after that? Well, Jehovah's Witnesses believe (as per Revelation 7:4) that exactly 144,000 faithful Christians are going to be resurrected to immortal life with God in Heaven. Oh, no. With hundreds of billions of people who have already lived, your chances for getting one of those prime spots is pretty small. What are the rest of us good people supposed to do?
There's a solution! For everyone else, there will be a Paradise on Earth. Sure, the 144,000 will be co-ruling up in Heaven with God, but the rest of us will live on a new Earth in a world of peace and happiness. No one will be sick. People and animals will live in harmony. No one will ever die (source). And ice cream sundaes. We're guessing there'll be loads of ice cream sundaes.
United Church of Christ Perspective
These Christians take a much more chill and laid back view of Revelation. Revelation doesn't have to be so creepy and scary—it's actually "a book of hope." They focus on the themes of freedom from oppression and a renewed creation with God. The mythic battles and plagues aren't as important as living a life in-tune with Christ (source).
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, called Revelation, "one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written." As a result, Mormons see Revelation as an extension of what the Jewish prophets were always saying: God is going to eventually triumph over evil once and for all.
Some things Mormons affirm within Revelation:
• The faithful are going to reign on Earth with God.
• All dogs go to Heaven. And every other animal, too.
• The Woman Clothed with the Sun is the Church and the child she gives birth to is "the political kingdom of God flowing out of the Church."
• One of the angels that appears to John is definitely Moroni, the same angel that appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him all about the Book of Mormon.
• God is a pretty good bookkeeper and you'll be judged by the deeds he's written down in those Books. So, be good. (Source.)
Seventh-Day Adventist Perspective
Seventh-Day Adventists call the second coming of Christ "the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel." They believe that when it happens, Jesus's coming is going to be "literal, personal, visible, and worldwide." As soon as he gets back, he's going to raise up all the good people who have died along with all the good folks currently living and take them all up to Heaven. Everyone else? Sorry, looks like it's the Lake of Fire for you.
Per Revelation 20:4, the not-so-good people are going to reign on Earth for 1,000 years (along with Satan in all his Dragon-y goodness). But, eventually, Jesus will come down with the saints and kick some butt. You know, fire and brimstone and judgment and all that. God: 1, Sinners: 0.
New Earth, no surprise, is going to be awesome. Just God and his people hanging out forever and ever. No more sin. No more suffering. No more death. Oh, and don't forget the ice cream sundaes. (Source.)
Let's give a quick shout out to Islam, too. After all, the Islamic view of the end times does tie in with Revelation just a bit. The Quran sees the second coming of Jesus as one of the signs of the approach of Judgment Day. It says: "Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it" (43:61).
Once that happens, Jesus is going to help overthrow evil and reign over the world for forty years (forty awesome years, that is). When he's done helping establish Islam throughout the world, the Earth will be destroyed, the dead will be resurrected, and God will dole out some judgment. People will get assigned to live in Paradise forever with God or the other place. Trust us, you don't want any part of the other place. (Source.)
Naturally, in the Islamic version of Paradise there will be ice cream sundaes. They'll just be halal.