The Book of Revelation has been the focus of ongoing discussion for those looking into what, if any, relevance the prophetic book might hold for present times, and an in-depth study by one author suggests that some views on the prophetic book, including the rapture and tribulation, may be misguided.
Revelation is commonly viewed as a prophetic book full of challenging imagery and descriptions that seem to tell of future events concerning the apocalypse, or the end of the world. While some scholars argue that the events described in Revelation have already occurred, many Christians believe the book, attributed to the apostle John, tells of a future apocalypse.
A survey released last year by the National Association of Evangelicals revealed that a majority of evangelical Christian leaders believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth and reign with his followers for 1,000 years, as described in the Book of Revelation. The theological stance, referred to as premillenialism, was shared by 65 percent of those surveyed.
Premillennialists also believe that after Christians are raptured, or take to heaven, that a period of intense suffering and turmoil will be experienced by those remaining on Earth. This period of tribulation, believed to last seven years, ends in Jesus' second coming, according to this view. It is agreed that the tribulation is a time of divine judgment on the world and unbelievers, however Christians disagree as to the timing of the rapture and Jesus' return – whether it will be before, during or after the tribulation period.
"Placing the rapture of the church at different periods of time is very confusing," according to C.R. Chapman, an educator with an M.A. in Religious Studies who has taught Bible classes across Canada and Africa. "Confusion is caused by fear. When we know what the Bible says, we have no need to fear the end of time."
Chapman explores in her latest book, Apocalyptic Tremors: Study the Revelation Like Never Before, topics relating to the antichrist, the tribulation, and other end-time subjects. One of the main topics Chapman discussed in a recent interview with The Christian Post are theories surrounding the tribulation.
"Apocalyptic Tremors gives at least 20 reasons for not believing in a pre-tribulation rapture," she told CP.
"There is nowhere in the Bible where it says that the Tribulation is seven years in length – nowhere. We have been taught this for years. The seventieth week of Daniel is for the duration of seven years but the seventieth week of Daniel is not equal to 'tribulation,'" Chapman said, referring to an Old Testament book some believe also tells of future events.
Chapman noted that "tribulation" also means "persecution" – and that Christians have already been experiencing persecution.
"Tribulation can mean a time of testing, a time of persecution, or time of difficulty. According to Paul the Apostle, tribulation was a time of joy and victory," she explained.
"During the Revelation there are two periods of persecution. I believe that the Church and Israel will see great tribulation under the Antichrist. That is based upon Scripture. We must have faith today that is strong, that will endure persecution, that will enable us to stand firm with great faith now. Faith is hard to find now, but will only be harder the longer you wait," Chapman added.
The author explained that unlike many other views on the Book of Revelation, her study has found hope in the End Times.
"Most people only see doom, but Apocalyptic Tremors brings out many hopeful events and acts of mercy from God above," she said, noting that the book includes several charts, graphs and diagrams that provide a detailed analysis of the Book of Revelation for anyone seeking understanding and to know the purpose of the End Times.
According to Chapman, Christians can only prepare for the End Times by having a good grasp of Scripture.
"You must prepare for the End Times by knowing the word of God for yourself. If you understand God and His ways, His judgment of the last days, then there is hope and faith," the author explained.
Understanding the word of God and the signs recorded in Revelation will help Christians "know what will happen next," Chapman insisted. "Then there is hope and a faith that will make any believer an overcomer. That's what is important."
"I am not a prophet, only an interpreter of Scripture – I use Scripture to interpret Scripture," she added.
As for why there has been so much confusion surrounding the Book of Revelation, Chapman explained: "Most people do not know what the Bible is saying. Confusion has been caused by many interpretations. We must together see God's plan and bury our pride and traditional thinking."
Apocalyptic Tremors: Study the Revelation Like Never Before was published last year by WestBow Press, a self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson, the world's premier Christian publisher.