Monday, July 24, 2017

A Short, Biblical Overview of Future Events
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

A hermeneutical & presuppositional note
When studying Bible prophecy, one must remember that God progressively revealed Himself in Scripture over the course of time. This is codified in the Scriptures -- both in the Old and New Testaments. When God made eternal covenants with the ethnic nation of Israel in the Old Testament, these covenants must still remain in tact with the people that God originally made the covenant with because of God’s faithful and trustworthy character. When we interpret prophecy, then, we must begin the study with the Old Testament and then move to the New Testament rather than reading the Old Testament through the lens of the fuller revelation of the New Testament. This means that Israel always refers to ethnic Israel (both in the OT and NT, in every instance). The Old Testament prophets revealed much about the future kingdom where there would be great blessing, prosperity and protection for Israel -- and the nations! -- even though some of the chronological specifics don’t come till later (e.g., New Testament revelation). Thus, to interpret Bible prophecy correctly, we must start with the Old Testament and build the foundation there so as to understand the authorial intent (=meaning) of these texts and then move to the New Testament for greater light, more details, and to fill in many of the gaps regarding the end-times schema. The approach of Bible prophecy that this simple overview takes is the futuristic approach. This will be spelled out simply in what follows.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE TIMING & PROGRESSION OF FUTURE EVENTS
#1) The “Catching Up” of Church-Age Saints to Meet Christ in the Air
The Word of God clearly reveals that the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return again (1 Thess 5:9-10). This is foundational to biblical eschatology. The NT presents two distinct aspects of this “second coming” of Christ in the eschatological schema. There is a coming when Christ comes to the clouds to catch up (=seize suddenly and irresistibly) His saints, that is, those who are “in Christ” (=NT church-age believers who are alive) to meet Christ and those who have died in Christ in the air (1 Thess 4:16-17). There will be a most glorious union between believers and Christ Jesus in the clouds and thus they shall be together (1 Thess 4:17). This coming of Christ will be sudden, immediate coming that is likened to a blink of an eye (1 Cor 15:51-58). It will be a glorious coming of Christ for His church to rescue them, as promised, from the coming time of testing that will come upon the entire inhabited earth to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev 3:10; 1 Thess 1:9-10). This is a coming that could happen at any moment (=it is imminent) and thus church-age saints must always live with expectancy looking for the any-moment return of Christ!

#2) The 7-Year “Tribulation” Period to Judge the World & Prepare Israel for the Kingdom
The Bible reveals that what begins the final “week” -- the 7-year period of great testing -- is the making of a firm “covenant” between AntiChrist and Israel (Dan 9:27). This is what begins the period of great testing on the earth that will come upon the world. It is a time of Jacob’s distress (Jer 30:7). It is called the “Day of the LORD” that will come from the Almighty to punish the world for its evil (Isa 13:6-11). The purpose of this 7-year period is two-fold: first, it is for God to bring distress upon all those who dwell on the earth because they have sinned against the Lord (Zeph 1:14-17) and, second, to protect the Jewish people, save the Jewish people, and prepare them for the coming kingdom (Ezek 36:22-32; Dan 11:35-39; Rom 11:25-27). The NT brings clarity in showing that this time of “tribulation” will be tremendously severe, worldwide, and so supernatural that all men will know that God is bringing judgments (Rev 6-16 -- the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments).

#3) The Second-Coming of Jesus Christ in Power & Great Glory
At the conclusion of the seven-year tribulation, as Jesus puts it, “immediately after the tribulation of those days”, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and he will come on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matt 24:29-30). Revelation 19 tells more of this magnificent coming as it states that Christ will come all the way to earth to bring judgment upon the nations (Rev 19:15). He will descend to the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:1-5) and He will come with His angelic host and with the redeemed of heaven and He will execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way (Jude 15). He will gather them to the “valley of decision” where he will sit to judge the nations and he will roar from zion and tread the wine press of His wrath (Joel 3:12-16; Rev 19:11-21; 2 Thess 1:5-10). Whereas the Lord only descended to the clouds in the catching up of the NT saints that occurred seven years earlier, now He descends all the way to earth in a much slower, more visible, unmistakable coming -- akin to lightning (Matt 24:27).

#4) The 1,000 Year Earthly Millennial Kingdom
After Jesus has returned to earth and after he has judged the nations, he welcomes true believers who have come to faith in the Tribulation period to come and inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for them (Matt 25:34). The OT speaks of this time of restoration (immediately following a time of cataclysmic and divine judgment) where Israel (the ethnic, Jewish nation) will be gathered from the nations (Isa 11:11-16) and Israel as a nation will enjoy the full benefits of the New Covenant that God made with the house of Israel and Judah (Jer 31:31) as they will fear God and obey Him (Jer 32:39-42). God promised that a “Branch” will execute justice and righteousness on the entire earth (Jer 33:14-18) and Israel will dwell securely among the nations (Ezek 37:24-28). The NT specifies the specifics of the duration of this kingdom -- it will last for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-7). The saints of God will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:6). It will be a time of blessed joy, worldwide blessing, political justice, and Christ-centered kingship (Ps 2, 72, 110; Jer 23:1-6; 33:1-26) that will bring to fruition the confluence of all of the wonderful, irreversible, divine covenants that God made with Abraham (the land of Israel), with David (a glorious King who would rule), and with Israel in the New Covenant (regeneration and forgiveness to God’s people).

#5) The Great White Throne Judgment Upon All the Unsaved of Human History
After the 1,000 year earthly Kingdom, Satan who has been bound for the entire 1,000 year kingdom period (Rev 20:1-3, 7) will be released and will gather together his minions for one last final revolt against Christ and he will immediately be seized and thrown into the everlasting lake of fire and brimstone (Rev 20:10). Christ will sit on His glorious throne to judge the world (John 5:22). He will sit on a Great, White Throne (Rev 20:11). Scores and multitudes of nations will be sovereignly brought before this sovereign Christ and He will judge them according to their deeds -- which are written in His books (Rev 20:12). If anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, they will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15). This is the second death (Rev 20:15). The Word of God seems to indicate that this great white throne judgment is only a judgment for the unsaved of all of human history as there is no indication of the righteous being at this judgment. It is a sovereign judgment sentencing all nonbelievers who have ever lived into the everlasting torments of divine wrath in the lake of fire and brimstone where they will suffer the fury of God’s just judgment forever and ever (Rev 14:11; Matt 25:46).

#6) The Eternal State:  The Lake of Fire & the New Heavens/the New Earth
The hope of believers is to “forever be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:16-17) and to see the face of Christ and behold His righteousness forevermore (Ps 11:7; 17:15). Every true believer longs for the day to be in the real, bodily presence of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God where there are pleasures forevermore and fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). O for the dwelling of God to be among men, and for God to dwell among them forever and ever is the sure foundation of the believer’s hope (Rev 21:3-4)! Believers will see the face of God and His name will be on their foreheads (Rev 22:4-5). Indeed, these blessed and hope-filled words are “faithful and true” (Rev 22:6). But all the unsaved -- the lost -- that is, those who are cowards, unbelievers, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, and idolaters and all lairs will find their place in the eternal lake of fire, which is the unending second death (Rev 21:7-8). May we as believers live for eternity (1 John 3:3) and urgently plead with sinners to repent of sin and believer in Christ alone for salvation and for deliverance from divine, everlasting wrath (Acts 17:30-31). Jesus said: “I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:12). Let us say with John, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20) and with the saints: “Maranatha” (1 Cor 16:22).

Some podcasts on eschatology & on futuristic premillennialism can be found here.

6 comments:

Unknown said...
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Jeremy Mickelson said...

It's always nice to have "last things" laid out neatly like this. One comment though, despite the scriptural references, I don't find a tribulation gap between the rapture and the day of the Lord in scripture. That is an inference based on a presupposition that wrongly confuses tribulation and wrath. Both Jesus (Matthew 24 & 25) and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2) make it abundantly clear that the Church will be confronted by the anti-christ and endure the tribulation. Our blessed hope is the Day of the Lord and on that great and terrible day the Church will be raptured and the wrath of God will then be poured out on the ungodly. Christ clearly articulates this in His Olivet discourse (Matthew 24-25) and even uses Noah as an illustration. On the same day that the wrath of God fell upon the earth, Noah and his family were protected by the ark as they were literally raised up by the floodwaters. Christ is the ark we must be found in on the Day of the Lord. The Bible says we are not destined for the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 5:9) but we are promised tribulation in this world (John 16:33).

Pastor Ishmael paul0yy said...

Thank you pastor for presenting the scriptural truths. I understand that when the Tribulation spreads terror over the entire earth, there will be only one safe place and that is with Jesus Christ in the mid-air. I have truly encouraged and refreshed. God bless!!!

Marlon Sias said...

Marlon Sias says: Jeremy i don't know if you intended to state, but it sounds like that the Day of the Lord is a single day or a short period of time. The Day of the Lord is the veangence of God That He will pour out after all the martyrs that will be martyred, have been martyred (Rev. 6:10,11). It also equates to the wrath of God that will be poured out on unbelieving mankind during the period of the 7th seal Rev. 8-10 and some of 11. we will also have the 7 thunders happening during this period of time and then the bowls after that. The 5th trumpet is 5 months in length and the 6th trumpet appears to be longer. 2 passages also tell us that no one comes to Christ during this time frame (Rev. 9:20,21 & 16:9) during the trumpets or the bowls judgments. It would be good if most of the futurists and their pre-millennial positions (Pre-trib, mid-trib and postrib theologians) took these facts into account when they espouse their positions.

Marlon Sias said...

Some responses to your article:In no. 1 all of the scriptures except one is talking about the rapture of the saints that happens just before the wrath (Greek word orge) of God falls on the earth as spelled out in your scriptures of I Thess. 5:9,10 and 1:9,10. This rapture is Christ coming in the clouds, a very open and loud coming with the blast of the trumpet. This rapture is also found in Mt. 24:29-31 when he gathers the elect (believers on the earth)right after the celestial disturbances that occur. Christ will be seen by all the same time that all the tribes of the earth will mourn (Rev. 1:7. The timing of this is established by Revelation with the seven seals of the book that Christ opens which begins the tribulation period (the 70th week of Daniel) beginning with the peace treaty brokered by the man who will become the Antichrist. The seven seals being the tribulation is accepted by all premillenials, pre, mid and postribbers as well as pre-wrathers which came forth in 1989. These events are portrayed in the 6th seal and before the unfolding of the wrath of God on the earth which begins with the 7th seal. The people of the earth will clearly understand that God's wrath is coming on the earth as portrayed in Mt. 24:29,30 as well as Rev. 1:7 and Rev. 6:12-17 is because they will see Jesus as he comes in the clouds and raptures the saints from the earth (Mt.24:31 the very next verse and it corresponds with the same rapture portrayed by Rev. 14:14-16 which occurred after the antichrist establishes the mark of the beast vs 9-11 and the AC's wrath against the saints 12&13 and their martyrdom. The harvest that Christ reaps in 14-16 happens right before the wrath/vengeance of God portrayed in 17-20. Rev. 14 is a summary of all of the high points of the book of Revelation. Earlier in verse it announces that the hour of judgment will come on the earth (judgment here is the Greek word krisis), but not the wrath of God. So yes the beginning of the tribulation will coincide with the hour of trial or testing (Rev. 3:10) which will come on the earth. There is a promise to the saints who are like the Philadelphia church believers who have kept His word and His name with perseverance and patience. These believers will kept from that time of testing, refining that God promises will come upon all who live on the whole earth. Apparently something will happen in order to remove these overcoming believers from the earth, Jesus will come quickly for these believers v. 11&12. Thank you for your consideration of these thoughts.

Jeremy Mickelson said...

Hi Marion, thanks for your comment. Let me clarify that the futurist position I am espousing is the pre-wrath premillennial position (I recommend "Pre-wrath" by Alan Kurschner for an accurate and quick primary literature primer for those unfamiliar or even unintentionally misinformed). I believe that the Church will not be raptured before the tribulation-- Matt.
24:29-31 (first six seals, Rev. 6:16-17; Rev. 7:9). I necessarily believe then, that the second coming of Christ, His second "parousia", the inaugural event at the beginning of the Day of the Lord, is not imminent in that it could happen tonight. I am, however, soberly expectant. Let me explain. I believe we, the Church, will face the antichrist (Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:1-4). I believe the tribulation will cleanse the Church as fire cleanses silver and gold, stripping the dross away, preparing the bride for the bridegroom. I believe the tribulation will be cut short because Jesus said those days (70th week of Daniel) will be shortened for the sake of the elect (Matt. 24:22). I believe the Day of the Lord will signify the end of the tribulation and begin on a temporal day, fixed in time and space (Matt. 24:29-30) sometime after the man of lawlessness is revealed (2 Thess. 2:3; Matt. 24:15; Dan. 9:7) but short of the full 7 year prophecy (Matt. 24:22). I don't know the day or the hour (Matt. 24:36-39) or duration, but I do know the season of His return, just as I know summer is near when the fig tree buds (Matt. 24:32-33). I am sober and alert so that the "thief" will not take me by surprise (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:4). I believe the Day of the Lord will begin with the unmistakable arrival of the King of Kings, Jesus the Christ, as unmistakeable as lightening flashing from East to West (Matt. 24:27), with a trumpet blast (Matt. 24:31) as the elect are gathered--both those living and those asleep (1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; John 14:3), when we will meet Him in the clouds. And then the wrath of God will be poured out on the ungodly (Matt. 24:37-39; 50-51). I agree with you that the tribulation Jesus describes in Matthew 24:3-31; Rev. 6) will be followed by the trumpet and bowl judgements (Rev. 8, 16) which are indeed the wrath of God.

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