The Apocalypse -- A Symbolic Book
Scriptural rules have been given for interpreting the Bible. These rules are basic for an understanding of God's truth. They apply to all books of the Bible with the exception of one.
The book of Revelation has its own special keys that must be observed. First of all it was signified (Rev. 1:1), that is, given to John in sign language or symbol. The visions portrayed to John must be understood symbolically, not literally. The scorpions and locusts with stings in their tails of chapter 9 are not some science-fiction monsters of the future, but a picture of the Saracens introducing gun powder in warfare in the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries.
Similarly, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are not to be looked for in the future, but were a symbolical description of the circumstances of the first, second and third centuries.
The Apostle John received the Revelation on the Isle of Patmos about 96 A.D. Every vision he saw was of something to happen in the future, that is, after A.D. 96.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to shew his servants things which must shortly come to pass (Rev. 1:1).
Write the thing which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (Rev. 1:19).
Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter (Rev. 4:1).
The Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to shew unto His servants the things which must shortly be done (Rev. 22:6).
When these verses are ignored and a vision is said to take place before A.D. 96 there is no way to see the truth of this book. Most theologians say the man child in the vision of chaper 12 is Jesus Christ, but according to the specific rules given in this book it cannot be the case. Jesus Christ was born more than 96 years before. The vision of chapter 12 is limited to the fourth century.
The Revelation is a history in prophecy from A.D. 96 until the second appearing of Jesus Christ. Very few commentators recognize this and therefore are completely astray from truth with their comments.