Eschatology

> My apologies for being so slow in my reply. I’ve
> had a problem finding a time-
> span sufficient to give much of any answer
> to your comments. My time is short
> now, as well, but will do my best. I
> appreciate your respect for God’s word and
> our liberty in Christ. All of this makes
> me realize that there’s always more to
> learn. Eschatology has always been
> a fascinating study for me, but as I’ve
> said before, I am a bit unsettled.
> I just hope I’m not “tossed to and fro, and
> carried about with every wind of doctrine.”
> I want to base my faith and hope
> only on a “thus saith the Lord.”

Brother Bartanen, when I started my study, I had decided I didn’t know
much of anything about eschatology, and I decided to start over with a
clean slate. I had tried several different things including Revelation is
the destruction of Jerusalem and “all prophecy is the church” and none of
them were at all consistent. The commentators seemed to see the church
and temporal judgment (see Keil and Delitch) in every single prophecy
whether it made any sense or not. I decided to throw out the whole mess
and just read the Bible and see if I could make sense out of it just by
reading what it said. I developed what I now believe from just reading
and studying the scriptures with a belief that God knew what He was
talking about.

> I generally would agree that much of prophecy
> should be taken literally unless
> context or plain passages of scripture
> should indicate otherwise. For instance,
> I would have a problem with Ezekiel’s
> temple-visions of Ez. 40 f.f. Taken
> literally it would require the restoration
> of temple sacrifices, priesthood, etc.–
> the “weak and beggarly elements” of the
> law, which is hard for me to swallow.
> But if I spiritualize all of that away, who
> am I to say that other passages much
> be taken at face-value?

The temple sacrifices no longer are effective at remediating sin, because
Christ has suffered once for all (Heb 10:12). All who would be saved must
come to Christ (Jn 14:6, Acts 2:38). It is a mistake, however, to say
that God is done with the Jews for ever (Rom 3:1-2, Ro 11:25, Ezek
37:21-28). It is my understanding that while Christians are dead to the
Law (Rom 7:4), it is still in effect for those Jews who are not Christians
(Rom 3:19, Rom 7:9, Gal 5:4, et al.).

It is possible that the temple will be restored since God has never rescinded the Law for the Jews (Mt 5:18). There is a passage in Jeremiah regarding the day of Jacob’s trouble that seems to promise the restoration of the temple after Jacob’s trouble is over.

Jer 30:18 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

In my opinion, “palace” here refers to God’s temple. There is nothing else in the history of Israel that would merit the singular attention Jeremiah gives to “palace” here. The restitution of the “palace” is on the same scale of importance as the restoration of a ruined Jerusalem, and the location of this “palace” appears to be in Jerusalem. The restoration of Jerusalem and the palace both happen after the day of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7), which is an event for Israel that is comparable to the destruction of the nations when Christ comes again. The “palace” is rebuilt during a time when God blesses Israel with health, every one of her adversaries will be destroyed, all that devour Israel will be devoured, they that spoil Israel will be spoiled, and all that prey upon Israel will become a prey. The rebuilding of the “palace” happens when God breaks Israel’s bonds of oppression, and Israel returns to serve the Lord their God and David their king (Jer 30:9).

As far as the need for a temple is concerned, it should also be remembered
that there were several sacrifices other than sacrifices for sin. Other
than sin offerings there were wave offerings, heave offerings, drink
offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings (e.g. for leprosy) and meal
offerings. Christ’s sacrifice for sin did not have any affect on these
other offerings, because they were offered for things other than sin (see
ISBE on sacrifice).

It appears that there will even be a temple on the new earth (Isa
59:20-60:7, Hag 2:7, II Sam 7:12-13, En 90:28) even though Christ has died once for
all for sin. There will be festivals and holy days on the new earth when
men assemble at Jerusalem in God’s house (Zech 14:16-17).

James wrote:
>> I also believe we are in the end times,
>> and I look forward to Christ’s
>> return, but I dread what happens
>> at the end times. It is a very bad time
>> for believers. It will be worse even
>> than the first three centuries after
>> Christ. It is the antitype of the 10
>> plagues on Egypt and the antitype of
>> King Saul’s annihilation of the Amalekites.
>> The end time plagues destroy
>> the earth like the 10 plagues
>> destroyed Egypt. Believers will either
>> recant and serve the Devil
>> (II Thes 2:11-12, Rev 13:14), die (Rev13:15),
>> flee into the mountains (Lk 17:36), or go to Israel (Zech 14:2) before
>> Christ returns to save the remnant and destroy the wicked (Micah 2:12).

Ronald replied:
> This is one area where I have problems.
> In anticipating the antichrist, great
> tribulation, etc., do I find myself looking
> for these or for Christ? Here, those who
> teach a pre-trib rapture seem to me
> to make a strong point. The thought of
> going through such a time makes me
> hesitant to pray, “Even so, come, Lord
> Jesus!” I would prefer to die before
> it all begins, and then be among those
> changed at His appearing.

James responds:
In one of the extracanonical works it says the ones who survive the end
times are more blessed than those who don’t. I don’t remember where I
read it, but I guess the ones who are alive when Jesus comes will receive
a special blessing in having witnessed it with their eyes and having
endured all that the antichrist can throw at them, and when all seems
hopeless, God comes and snatches them out of the jaws of certain death
like Abraham rescued Lot (Gen 14:9-16) or Gideon routed the Midianites
(Jud 7:19-22).

I view the end times as the antitype of the plagues on Egypt. If you read
Exodus, you find that Israel endured the first plagues just like the
Egyptians. It seems that it was not until the fifth plague that God made
a difference between Israel and the Egyptians (Ex 9:6). Thereafter God
spared Israel from the worst of the plagues, but the children of Israel
suffered through the first plagues just like the righteous will suffer
through the first plagues at the end of the world.

The “rapture” (actually it’s a resurrection) is found in I Thes 4:14-17.
It happens at the Second Coming when Christ comes to raise the righteous,
to destroy the nations and to burn the earth. The whole millennial theory
has gotten way too convoluted because of the fact that the millennialists
try to put it after the Second Coming. I plan to post another article on
the millennium a little later.

You should look beyond the plagues at the end of the world to the coming
of the Lord. Have faith in God and pray, even as we have example, “Even
so, Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20, I Cor 16:22, Mt 6:10, Lk 11:2). Jesus
said when you see these plagues begin to come to pass, lift up your head
[look at the sky?], for your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28).

James wrote:
>> Christ will rule over the earth in
>> peace for ever (Ezek 37:24-28), and God will then be all in all (I Cor
>> 15:28). Christ will be our elder brother in one sense (Rom 8:29), and we
>> will be married to Him as His bride in another (Eph 5:32). The earth
>> will be a place of fatness and plenty (Jer 31:12-14).
>> There will be no more curse (Rev 22:3). Wild animals will not harm
>> any more (Isa 11:6).

Ronald replied:
> This has basically been my view of the matter, although I’ve not been
> acquainted with non-canonical writings. I would not consider them
> authoritative, but speculative.

James responds:
Could your present view be the result of the fact that you are
unacquainted with them? The church fathers considered them authoritative:

“For the Scripture says, ‘And it will come to pass in the last days, that
the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, their sheepfold and
their tower to destruction'” Barnabas 1:147 (c. AD 70-130) quoting Enoch 89:56-66.

“Jude says, ‘Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these.’ In
these words, he verifies the prophecy”. Clement of Alexandria (c.195)
2.573.

“I am aware that the scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order of
action to angels, is not received by some. For it is not admitted into
the Jewish canon, either. I suppose they did not think that, having been
written before the deluge, it could have safely survived that worldwide
calamity, the destroyer of all things. If that is the reason for
rejecting, let them remember that Noah, who survived the deluge, was the
great-grandson of Enoch himself…There is still then consideration to
warrant our assertion of the genuineness of this Scripture: [Noah] could
equally have rewritten it, under the Spirit’s inspiration, if it had been
destroyed by the violence of the deluge.” Tertullian (c. 198), 4:15.

I don’t know why Tertullian did not hit upon the obvious. Noah could have
had a library on the ark and simply carried it with him through the Flood.
The point here, though, is that in the first three centuries of the
church, the brethren considered Enoch to be scripture. It was not until
the Council of Carthage in 397 that Enoch was excluded from acceptance by
the church. Before that it had been widely accepted, and probably was
included in the versions of the Septuagint in circulation in Christ’s day.
Even today Enoch is included in the canon of the Ethiopian Christian
Church, and has been there for nearly 2000 years.

> Those who hold to premillennialism would insert
> the millennium, which I question.

I question it also. I cannot find any time after
the Second Coming when the millennium could
possibly occur. I believe it has already taken
place. See my post on the millennium that should follow shortly.

> However, do I reject it because it’s
> under attack by so many good brethren, or
> because of scripture? It does seem
> to be an even flow from Rev. 19 into ch. 20.

Actually, Rev 19 is a view of the end of the world. Rev 20 must take
place BEFORE the end of the world, because there are souls of dead
saints in heaven with Christ (Rev 20:4). There can be no disembodied
souls of saints after the Second Coming and the resurrection of the
righteous (I Thes 4:16). You see another account of the end of the world
in Rev 20:8-10 that is almost identical to Rev 19:19-21. The reason they
are so similar is that Rev 20-22 is a prophetic history of Christians that
is parallel to two previous histories (Rev 8-14, 15-19). These previous
two visions are parallel accounts of some of the history of the Jews and
the Gentiles as Christ controls the events of the histories of these two
peoples under the powers granted Him by God through the power of the
seventh seal (Rev 5:1ff).

> And does “lived” in verse 4 (with respect to
> believers) refer to a spiritual
> resurrection (as in baptism), while
> “lived” (not again) (referring to the ungodly)
> in verse 5 refers to a literal resurrection?

They are both literal resurrections. The righteous who participate in the
first resurrection we read about in Mt 27:52. I believe those on the
thrones there in Rev 20:4 are those resurrected in Mt 27:52 and who
literally reigned with Christ during the millennium. But it is over now.

> Too, is Satan’s deceiving “the
> nations no more” (20:3) in contrast to his
> deceiving the whole world (12:9)? Is
> he in both positions at the same time?

Satan does not deceive the nations while he is in the Abyss “till the 1000
years are ended”. After the 1000 years are ended he comes out to work
lying wonders (II Thes 2:9) and deceives the whole world (Rev 12:9, 19:20,
20:10).

> If it weren’t for this chapter, I seem to be
> defending a position I have not really
> accepted, but honesty requires that I face
> the problems of interpretation.

Chapter 20 has become the keystone of premillennialism even though the
time, the extent, and the location of Christ’s reign are not specified.
Men have felt at liberty to stretch it to cover a multitude of theories.
See my analysis in the post on the millennium that is to follow.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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