The most important issue that determines the interpretation of the book of Revelation is the date that it was written.
There are two views:
The late date view (AD 95-96), which most in the evangelical and charismatic camps hold to and
The early date view (AD 65-66).
The early date view says that Revelation speaks of the birth pangs of the Kingdom, occasioned in the passing away of the old covenant age and the beginning of Church history.
The late date accommodates a wide variety of interpretations; it views the book as the end of the kingdom, Church history and the entire world.
The late date view is based exclusively from external evidence read on a statement made by Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202). He is the only source for this late dating of Revelation while all other sources are based on him. It is this same Irenaeus that is noted for making mistakes in recording dates and times in his writings. Irenaeus claimed that Jesus’ ministry lasted nearly twenty years, from the age of thirty until the age of fifty. Yet people who chose to believe the internal evidence presented in the scriptures.
The truth is that the text of Revelation provides a self-witness for the date it was written.
Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. “Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.” (Revelation 11:1-2)
The vision communicated in the book of Revelation refers to a temple standing in a city called the “holy city.” Based upon Hebrew Scriptures, it is easy to see that a Jewish Christian such as John would have had the historical Jerusalem in mind when he spoke of the holy city and not another 2,000 years later:
Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean Will no longer come into you. (Isaiah 52:1)
We see a more specific identification of this city in Revelation 11:8:
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)
This reference to the temple must be the historical structure for three reasons.
First of all, it was located in Jerusalem.
Secondly, according to Revelation 11:2, it was to be under attack for 42 months. History confirms that Nero commissioned Flavian Vespasian, a Roman general, to engage Israel in war in February, A.D. 67. He actually entered the Holy Land and engaged in battle and the Jewish War with Rome lasted from spring, A.D. 67 until the temple fell in August, A.D. 70, a period of forty-two months.
Luke 21:20 contains Jesus’ prophecy regarding the destruction of the temple as he informed his disciples:
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. (Luke 21:20)
The time from Revelation 11 fits with what history tells us of the Jewish War.
Another reason that supports the early date that can’t be entirely dismissed is in what Jerome noted in his writings that John was seen in AD 96. He stated that he was so old and frail that “he was with difficulty carried to the church, and could speak only a few words to the people.”
Revelation 10:11, states that John must “prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” It would have been impossible for John would be able to speak to many nations and many kings at any date after AD 96 since he was already elderly and feeble. That alone would have signaled a failed ministry unless for the early dating. This is also important when you consider that he was told not to seal the vision because it’s fulfillment was at hand and soon to dawn on them.
If we can only keep aside religion then we will realize that the book of Revelation is not a picture of a terrible angry God that wants to destroy the earth because of sin, haunt us with scary beasts or about an antichrist programming our lives with a microchip etc. The finished work of Jesus introduced a new world for the new creation to exist to manifest the glory of God and hence dominate the earth with His presence and power.
The book of Revelation is about the end of that old covenant world and administration that has given way for the endless kingdom of Jesus to reign over the earth permeating the glory of heaven on earth. This is achieved in the revelation of Jesus.