First of all this is not an essential issue, as “Eschatology,” meaning End Times Theology, is debatable and has no real bearing on orthodoxy versus unorthodoxy, unless it is distracting you from the person and work of Christ. Nor is this even an important issue, as God is far more concerned with our faith formation and practice than our debate techniques and quibbling. You can be a good, deep-seated Christian of the Faith whatever view of end times Eschatology to which you subscribe. Thus, if you hold to a Preterist view and your friend is a Futurist, neither of you is engaged in heresy, although one or both of you will be wrong! Just make sure you pray, research, and think the issues through. Most people do not think or research; they just believe by blind faith. Real faith is not blind—either to Christ or to His Word! What is really wrong and distracting to both Christians and especially non-Christians is when we allow our sensationalism to run amok, getting carried away with the latest, captivating trends of popular or Christian culture. Why? Because the future has not happened yet; Christ has not come back yet, thus it is foolish to be dogmatic on any human theory. Our sensationalism will only serve Satan and our scoffers, and not give any glory to Christ! By the way, Christ commanded us not to do this,
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19
To begin this quest, look at the four main views of interpreting Revelation: Futurist, Historicist, Preterist, and Spiritualist; (Revelation! at http://www.churchleadership.org) as each has both merit and deficiencies, all based on human, logical reasoning. All of these views can be found in Revelation if you ignore the contexts and actual word meanings. Thus, all have significant holes that other parts of Revelation, as well as the other Scriptures, contradict. Each of these views is within the scope of orthodoxy and can be debated academically without assault to faith and practice. It is fair to both faith and academics to seek each view, taking what is biblical and merited and rejecting what is not, and still be rationally honest. In fact, this is the best approach to bring to Biblical Eschatology. This is based on how open and honest we can be and how we obey the rules of Scriptural interpretation, especially word meanings and context. Thus, I believe the proper interpretation is not any of these traditional views—specifically or dogmatically. Rather, each one has its good qualities and some of these can be incorporated into the passages where the context and purpose arises.
If Eschatology is confusing to you, be assured that there is no need to adopt or adhere to any particular viewpoint. In addition, none of us should be captivated to any one point.
Understanding Revelation and all of the various theories and perspectives is not that important. These are “debatable points” that I lay out side by side in the Bible Studies series in Revelation. This way, the research is done all you have to do is read His Word and examine the meanings and see the theories. I did this and found none of the theories are good. All that is important is Who Christ is in you and your trust in Him to work it all out!
When we look to Biblical Eschatology, it is best not to come to Matthew 24 and Revelation without a specific view, as each prophecy can have multiple applications, meanings, and fulfillments that can be true. We must come to Revelation and any eschatological passage with patience and humility, seeking dialog and cooperation rather than disagreements and strife, for that is clearly in errs. We are to interpret in light of the historical context and what it meant then. And, for us to think that Revelation meant nothing for 2000 years until our generation came is extremely arrogant and dismissive to the countless Christians who came before us, upon whose shoulders we stand. Biblical Eschatology is for all generations, not just the first century or ours or one to come! Also, we must never seek to be dogmatic with our feeble opinions and limited understandings. The applications in Revelation are for us now, as they were also active in the early Church and will have further meaning and fulfillment in the time to come. Eschatology is not just about the first Christians, nor is it just about what will happen in some distant future. These precepts are for us today, for us to know, for us to use, and for us to deploy deeply in our lives and walk in Christ. What we do know is that Christ is coming back! When Satan will be finally be defeated is not known, but God will comfort and take care of us!