Thursday, January 12, 2017

Interpreting Revelation and the End-Times

How should we understand the book of Revelation and end-times prophecy?

When you talk about doing Bible Study and how one interprets the Bible, one of the common questions you will encounter – both from believers and non-Christians – will be what about the book of Revelation? How are we to understand all the prophecies concerning the apocalypse, the return of Christ and final judgment? What I want to do in this video is give a basic primer on the basic terms you will encounter when discussion end-times theology.

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A futurist will interpret the end-times as being future events.
A preterist will argue that texts such as the Book of Revelation are not so much prophecies foretelling future events, but rather are FORTHTELLINGS of present and past events that the original readers would have already been familiar with in their own cultural contexts as occurring within their own time frame.

Example: In Luke 21, Jesus talks about the desolation of Jerusalem. A Futurist may take this to mean the nation of Israel established in the Palestine region post-WW2 will come under attack. The Preterist will argue that it refers to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by the Romans.

THE TRIBULATION: The time when the church undergoes an all-out assault by Satan’s minions.

THE MILLENIUM: Once the Tribulation is over, the [earthly] time when sin, Satan and Death are defeated.
Pre-millennials believe that Jesus’ return will mark the beginning of the Millenium.
Post-millenials believe that Jesus will return at the end of it (i.e., the Church brings about Jesus’ return).

THE RAPTURE: When God takes all believers (dead and currently alive) to heaven to live with Christ forever.

Dispensationalists argue that the Biblical Covenants (Abrahamic > Mosaic > Davidic > The New Covenant) are TRANSITIONAL in terms of time, conditions and promises.
Covenant Theology argues that the Covenants are PROGRESSIVE (Redemption, works, Grace), hence the cautions and promises of one covenant are not necessarily boxed into “that was Old Testament, we’re in the New” (e.g., we partake of the New Covenant, the Gospel, via grace through justification by faith. Yet who does the Bible use as the model for Justification by Faith? Abraham.)


Israel certainly factors into the end-times. “All of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
Since the over-arching theme of Romans 9-11 is "What is God going to do with the Jews now that Christ has come?"
The question is “Who is ‘Israel’?”
a) The nation-state of Israel?
b) Ethnic Jews?
c) Believers in Judaism?
d) Jewish Christians aka Messianic Jews
e) God’s people overall?

Dispensationalists believe that because the biblical covenants are transitional, ISRAEL and THE CHURCH are therefore two separate and distinct entities. God’s plan and relationship with one is not the same as the other. E.g, in the book of Revelation, the church appears in Chapters 1-3, then in Chapter 22. What happens in between? The focus turns to Israel.
Covenant Theology advocates REPLACEMENT; the Church replaces Israel as God’s chosen people, and thus receives and partake of all the blessing, warning and promises.

Now some would say: What’s all the point of this? There are individuals as well as ministries who devote hours or tuime, money and resources trying to interpret how the end-times will play out. Books have been written, movies have been made. And very often when people try to make precise predictions, they tend to be embarrassingly wrong as the world’s events play out.
If there is a critical flaw in the Futurist interpretation of Revelation, it would be that it does open the door to a slippery slope where a theologian who usually excels in exegetical study gets sloppy and finds themselves they trying to read things into the text based on whatever they see in today’s headlines.

Regardless of how you interpret Revelation and the End times, it’s important to take heed of the words of the Apostle Peter:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, butthat all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3:9-14

How is your view of the end-times impacting what you’re doing now, today? Are you living a holy, godly life? Can you say that when Jesus returns on the Day of the Lord you will be found without blemish and at peace? 

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