Here is my understanding of the most prevalent teaching about The Book of Revelation:
In the end, Jesus returns to whip up on Satan and bring about God’s way on earth by overcoming Satan, evil doers, and everyone who rejects him with overpowering force of violence and destruction. When Jesus came the first time, He was meek and mild. But His second coming will be as a powerful warrior fighting evil and finally establishing God’s way on earth. If this view is correct, why does this not negate the teachings of Jesus in the gospels?
Doesn’t this say that what Jesus taught about powerful love willing to suffer for others, about forgiveness instead of revenge, about loving enemies, and humble service to others doesn’t really work after all? If the good way of Jesus can’t restore God’s way on earth, it will take force and violence for God to restore His world as the expression of His wrath against sinners.
But has force and violence ever restored anything? The whole of human history says NO. This is the way of mankind – not God’s way. To say that God will ultimately restore humanity by resorting to the violence of humanity makes me wonder that all along we never really believed what Jesus taught in the first place.
What does it mean to “believe the Bible”? If the Bible says a beast will come out of the sea with 10 horns and 7 heads, is this a prophecy that will come to pass or is this an image or vision? If it says there will be a great battle at Armageddon between Jesus and Satan, could this be understood as a spiritual battle or does it only mean warfare by military forces? A big clue that is overlooked is the sword Jesus wields comes from his mouth. Doesn’t this indicate a battle of words instead of bombs?
If the victory of Jesus ultimately comes by the force of violence, then what did Jesus mean long ago with all that “love” stuff? The Book of Revelation should be understood in the light of the Jesus of the Gospels, not a modern, vengeful Jesus of Biblical literalists.
God Help Us!
If Jesus ultimately resorts to violence, the strong implication is that we do not need to love our enemies now because when Jesus comes back he will whip them up for us. Jesus will do for us what we cannot do, or rather, refuse to do, Loving enemies has never been popular! It can get a person killed – if not by the enemy, then by the others who hate the enemy.
For a long time I have wondered why the modern Christians are not winning the world for Jesus like the Christians in the early church. I think this is a clue. We refuse to love enemies. We refuse to suffer for Jesus. We get our free ticket to heaven and nothing else matters.