Eschatology (End Times, Prophecy, etc) Part 1

Escathology is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with what are believed to be the final events in the history of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world. We hear a lot of Escathology these days, and it is widely used as a tool to bring people to Christ.

“Israel, Israel, Israel, Israel! 666, the Beast, where will the Antichrist come from?, will there be animals in heaven?, the Great Tribulation, the countries that will attack Israel, Palestine, Iran,” etc, etc, etc. Isn’t this the first thing that we hear everytime a conference is held on prophecy? “China! Russia! the 666 might be a chip that will be inserted in people! see? they’re doing it on animals! so technology is so advanced that I imagine that’s how it will be!” or a widely known interpretation of this passage with which I grew up:

“The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury” Revelation 9:17-19

And this is what I hear very often from many preachers today: “John here is referring to tanks, some sort of tanks that have tails, see? it says that fire came out of their mouths! John lived in different times and could not describe what tanks looked like, and since this is future times it must be a tank or something like that!”

Let me clarify something before I move on: I am not being cynical in any way, I am just stating something happening to the church today, when we move from the center or backbone of Biblical prophecy, namely the gospel, into fantasy and the figments of our imagination and preconceived ideas of the Bible. I am not saying that there are not difficult things to understand in Escathology, of course there are, but many times we try to understand them from the bottom up, from the more obscure verses in the Bible to the most understandable, when it should be otherwise and in all occassions to let the context speak for itself. If you have been raised in this as I have, then know that I am not talking in order to offend anyone, just to write my questions about teaching Biblical prophecy in such a way.
I said before that the backbone of Biblical prophecy is the Gospel. Let’s see what the Bible says to support this:
“Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.””
The testimony of Jesus? Hmm…interesting. Actually in the original language it could have two meanings: the testimony given of Jesus or the testimony Jesus gave of Himself. The context reveals that both of these are not exclusive, but the main point is that it is the testimony of Jesus: his birth, life, death, and resurrection, which in short is His redeeming work to save His sheep or, the Gospel. When we read these verses we must ask ourselves these questions:
  • What did the angel mean to say when he spoke of the testimony of Jesus?
  • In what sense this testimony is the spirit of prophecy?
Let’s look at more Scripture:
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things” 1 Peter 1:10-12
The prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, that is the gospel. It says that even angels long to look into these things. But gospel is all over the place here, but let’s move on to another Scripture:
“He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” Luke 24:25-27
What the Scriptures said concerning Himself, what the prophets have spoken, what have they spoken?
“He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Luke 24:44-47
Gospel! Gospel! all over the place! let’s keep going, bear with me because there’s a reason I’m showing these verses (continued in Part 2)
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2 thoughts on “Eschatology (End Times, Prophecy, etc) Part 1

  1. Replying to Anonymous's post…I am sorry, but you are highly mistaken. There are metaphors in the Bible. The Bible is a book of literature like any other book (except it is divinely written, and fully inspired by God), and uses the rules of grammar. The culture in that time used many metaphors, universal terms, etc… So yes, the Bible does use literal metaphors. Also, you have to remember, John was having visions… so it was symbolic. Remember Jospeh and the chief butler and cook? Both had dreams but Joseph did not interpret them by saying they were literal. The dreams were symbolic of something. Same with John's visions. So yes, the Bible can and does use metaphors. 🙂 Hope that helped.

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