This is the second to last book I finished while on vacation. Revelation is, without a doubt, the most confusing book in the Bible. All of the books in the Bible were written to a specific time and culture, and being aware of that time and culture is crucial in interpreting the book correctly. This is especially true of Revelation, with its extensive use of apocalyptic references and images.
I had always been told the Book of Revelations was primarily about Rome and attempting to strengthen the Christians undergoing another in a series of Roman persecutions by foretelling the future downfall of Rome. Barber argues that while Revelation is written with the intent of strengthening Christians during a Roman persecution, its focus is predominately on the (future) destruction of Jerusalem. Drawing on other Biblical writings, Barber shows that Christ’s promised return and the return of Christ to which Paul frequently referred was, in reality, a reference to the return of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem.
He repeatedly draws from the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, who lived through the destruction of Jerusalem and shows how they parallel quite closely with the prophecies relating to the return of Christ and those detailed in the Book of Revelation. He shows that the promised 1000 year reign of the Messiah was a reference to the coming 1000th anniversary of King David establishing his dynasty. (David’s reign began roughly 1000 BC, with the destruction of the Temple coming in 70 AD.) While these prophecies may contain some teaching for us on the end of the earth at the Second Coming of Christ, it’s mostly about Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple.
He also deals with other topics John writes about, such as the clear reference to Mary at the beginning of Revelation 12. It’s commonly interpreted in Protestant circles as a reference to the nation of Israel giving birth to the Messiah, but the image is of a woman giving birth to a child who would be the Messiah. It’s hard to miss the Marian reference, unless you want to miss it. In other chapters, he argues for an early authorship for Revelation (pre-70 AD), as well as discusses the many references to the Mass found in the work.
Barber concludes each chapter of his book with a section on how to apply the lessons of the section just discussed in our daily lives, which is of course, an important part of any reading of Scripture. It should be just about doctrine, but about changing our own lives when we read God’s word to us. It’s also set up with a series of questions at the end of each chapter to help us think about and retain what we’ve learned in studying the work.
I can definitely recommend this book. You’ll learn a lot about Revelation you didn’t know its meaning and how to apply it in your life.