The Book of Revelation is such a confusing book. Why is it so difficult to understand?
The Book of Revelation was written as a time line, a sequence of prophetic events. It is a chronological “skeleton.” It is only the “bones” of the animal. The “meat” is not on the bones. The “flesh” is found in the Old Testament. The writer of Revelation assumed prior knowledge of the Old Testament revelation on the part of the reader. As a result, he simply indicated, through a phrase, where he expected the reader to go in the Old Testament for the full explanation. For example, Revelation 1:1 is a reference back to Daniel 2:28-29; Revelation 1:4 is filled out by consulting Isa. 11:2, and so on. When the reader follows this procedure and puts the “flesh” on the “bones,” then the Book of Revelation is quite simple to understand.
Why are there so many different interpretations regarding the Book of Revelation?
Most commentators are very aware that the Book of Revelation is filled with a plethora of Old Testament references, but they simply do not go to that material for enlightenment. Most commentators try to “flesh out the bones” without reference to the Old Testament. This makes the Book of Revelation very hard to understand because they are trying to fill in gaps without the proper information. Ironically, the proper information is right there, very available in the Old Testament, but commentators make very little use of it. This is why there are so many “interpretations” of the Book of Revelation. People are depending upon themselves for the interpretation rather than going to the material that will do the job for them. The result is that the “bones” are covered over with all kinds of strange and confusing “flesh.” It is no wonder that most people feel the Book of Revelation is so difficult. The reader should let Scripture interpret Scripture. That means that the reader must be an avid student of Scripture.
Can you recommend a book about Revelation that would be helpful?
I would recommend the book Footsteps of the Messiah, by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum. Footsteps of the Messiah is a commentary on the Book of Revelation. It approaches the Book of Revelation from a point of view that is different from the vast majority of commentators. Dr. Fruchtenbaum has taken the chronological approach and has made extensive use of the Old Testament in his interpretation. (See HaDavar’s products page on this web site.)