I have been asked this question about a dozen times in the past six months.
Whenever the headlines get dark and gloomy, the question comes. Whenever there is some sort of national or global tragedy, the question arises. Whenever people feel like the world is spinning out of control, the question comes. It is not new, nor is it unexpected.
I will make a deal with you. I will only answer that question on two conditions.
First, you must have read through the Bible at least once and preferably five times or more. At the very least, it would be nice if you had read Revelation entirely. Oh, and you called it by the correct name – it is Revelation, not Revelations.
Second, you must have some solid knowledge of the Old Testament prophets, including their context and basic interpretation.
Why do people who haven’t read much of the Bible start making guesses about the end times? Why do people want to read the last chapter of the book and then start guessing at meanings? Proper interpretation requires context, a basic understanding of big Biblical themes, knowledge of similar images within the same writing, and several other issues before someone can completely understand the meaning of the last pages.
I guess that most people are not looking for a correct interpretation. Instead, they are looking for something else. They want Hollywood more than holiness. They want war over worship. They want the end times understanding without Jesus.
When you have an intimate knowledge of the author, the meaning of his writing becomes more explicit. And the best way to know a writer is by reading everything they have written.