Category: (11) Eschatology

Eschatology is the study of what the Bible says is going to happen in the end  times. Many treat Eschatology as an area of theology to be avoided. Of course,  Eschatology is not as crucial as Christology or Soteriology. That does not mean,  though, that it is unimportant to a Biblical worldview. How we understand  Eschatology has an impact on how we should live our lives and what we are to  expect to occur in God’s plan. Some important issues in Eschatology are  these:

What is the Rapture? The word “rapture”  does not occur in the Bible. The concept of the Rapture, though, is clearly  taught in Scripture. The Rapture of the church is the event in which God removes  all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to  be poured out on the earth during the Tribulation period.

When  is the Rapture going to occur in relation to the Tribulation? Will the  Rapture occur before the Tribulation, at the middle of the Tribulation, or at  the end of the Tribulation?

What is the Second Coming and why is it  important? Why is it so important for Jesus Christ to return? When is Christ  going to return? What will be the signs of Christ’s return?

Is  the millennium literal or figurative? The fulfillment of many of God’s  covenants and promises rest on a literal, physical, future kingdom. There is no  solid basis to deny of literal understanding of the Millennial Kingdom and its  duration being 1000 years.

Will the  generation that saw Israel re-formed as a nation still be alive for the Second  Coming? It is not Scriptural to teach that the generation that sees Israel  become a nation will also see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This may be the  case, but Scripture does not specifically say so.

The Bible describes a  terrible period of tribulation in Revelation chapters 6-18. Will this  Tribulation be preceded by the Rapture, will it conclude with the Rapture, or  has it in fact already occurred? These different perspectives have a great  impact on what we should be preparing ourselves for. Eschatology helps us to  understand the Bible’s prophetic passages and how to live our lives in response  to what God is going to do in the end times. There is a great deal of  controversy in Eschatology, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility  to study and understand what the Bible teaches about the end times. An  understanding of Eschatology will eliminate many of the fears we have about the  future. Our God is sovereign, He has a plan, and it will all unfold according to  His perfect will and timing. This is a great encouragement to those who are in  Christ!

A key verse on Eschatology is Titus 2:13:  “we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and  Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Revelation  20:1-7 speaks of a future, 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth known  as the millennial kingdom. Will this millennial period be a literal 1,000-year  period or is it a figurative, symbolic way to speak of Christ’s future  reign?
Those who argue for a figurative interpretation of the 1,000  reign of Jesus on earth often refer to 2 Peter 3:8 that reads, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one  day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” While this verse  could possibly be used in reference to the future millennial kingdom, this  passage is used in the context of God’s patience in order to allow more people  to turn to Christ.
In contrast, those who interpret the millennial  kingdom as a literal 1,000-year period do so based on numerous lines of  evidence. Most importantly, Revelation  20:1-7, the passage that most clearly speaks of the millennial kingdom,  specifically notes a 1,000-year period four different times. The emphasis  appears to be on the exact time of the millennial kingdom rather than a  figurative interpretation.
In addition, the Bible mentions in many other  places that the Messiah will rule as king in Jerusalem on the throne of David  (Luke  1:32-33). This reign will take place as a fulfillment of God’s covenant to  Abraham (Genesis  12:1-3), to Israel as a nation (Deuteronomy 20:1-10), and to David (2 Samuel  7:10-13).
Other Old Testament prophets further speak of a time when  the Messiah will reign for a long period of time from Jerusalem. The millennial  kingdom will be marked by an ideal environment of peace (Micah 4:2-4), joy (Isaiah  61:7), prosperity (Amos  9:13-15), and comfort (Isaiah  40:1-2). Jerusalem will serve as the leading center of the world (Zechariah 8:3).
These prophecies regarding the future Messiah’s reign all require a period of  time in order to find a literal fulfillment. The only alternatives would be to  dismiss the many specific prophecies regarding the Messiah’s future reign or to  accept an allegorical interpretation of numerous passages that appear to be  presented as literal predictions. Based on these options, the most likely  scenario is that the millennial kingdom is a literal 1,000-year period during  which Jesus Christ will reign from David’s throne in Jerusalem.
At the  end of this time, a final rebellion and judgment are predicted (Revelation 20:7-15).  A new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem will be created where the Lord will  dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21-22). The creation that began in the  Garden of Eden will end in the City of God where the Lord’s people will dwell in  community with their Creator forever.

This concept is usually drawn from Matthew  24:34, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away  until all these things have happened.” The previous verses, Matthew 24:1-33,  describe end-times events in relation to Israel. As a result, some interpreters  thought that the end times would begin when Israel was “reconstituted” as a  nation (which happened in 1948). However, as more and more time passed from  1948, the time span of a “generation” began to lengthen and lengthen. It has now  been more than 60 years – which is far beyond any standard definition of a  generation.

The biggest problem with this teaching is that it completely  misunderstands Matthew  24:34. What the context appears to say is that once the end-times events  begin to happen, they will happen quickly. Further, Jesus’ prophetic words in  Matthew 24 seem to have a “double fulfillment.” Some of the events occurred in  A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and Israel. Other events (24:29-31,  for example) have clearly not yet occurred. Some of Jesus’ words occurred  shortly after He spoke them (this generation will not pass); others have not yet  occurred. To answer your question directly, no, it is not scriptural to teach  that the generation that sees Israel become a nation will also see the second  coming of Jesus Christ. This may be the case, but Scripture does not  specifically say so.

* An editors note: When we look at the generational question (the generation that saw Israel re-formed as a nation still being alive for the Second  Coming?) and in conjunction with Matthew 24:34 ( “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away  until all these things have happened.”)  we are left with one possible and additional solution to this mystery.

The generation known today as “Baby Boomers” begin to appear at about the same time as Israel’s becoming a nation (which happened in 1948) . Though the generation of Baby Boomers’ are aging, there are still many of whom survive and may “not pass away  until all these things have happened.” Perhaps we are the generation referred to in Matthew  24:34.  Christ would not make the statement “I  tell you the truth” without knowing specifically who He was speaking of!

The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. The concept of the rapture,  though, is clearly taught in Scripture. The rapture of the church is the event  in which God removes all believers from the earth in order to make way for His  righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period.  The rapture is described primarily in 1  Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1  Corinthians 15:50-54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give  them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with those believers  who are still alive and who will at that time also be given glorified bodies.  “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the  voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ  will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught  up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will  be with the Lord forever” (1  Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The rapture will be instantaneous in nature,  and we will receive glorified bodies at that time. “Listen, I tell you a  mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the  twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead  will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians  15:51-52). The rapture is the glorious event we should all be longing for.  We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is  far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s  intent. Rather, in regard to the rapture, God wants us to “encourage each other  with these words” (1  Thessalonians 4:18).