Tag Archives: Bible Prophecy

Daniel 7: Past and Future?

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptural quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version

Earlier in this series of posts, we looked at Daniel Chapter 9, and examined the prophecies of “70 weeks,” the temple’s rebuilding, the Messiah’s ministry, and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. I made the case that all of those prophecies were fulfilled by 70 A.D.

Daniel Chapter 7 is a place where similar events are described, and many commentators believe that Chapter 7 depicts the same time period as Chapter 9, although there is disagreement as to whether the fulfillment is past or future.

I believe there is sufficient evidence to say that most of Daniel 7 had a literal fulfillment in the first century. There is a thorough explanation of the first-century interpretation on the Revelation Revolution website, in their article “Daniel 7: A Preterist Commentary.” In this post, I will bring out some key points of that article, but I would recommend reading the whole commentary if you are interested in this subject.

If you want to jump to the section where I discuss a possible future fulfillment, skip down to the section with the heading “Potential Future Fulfillment.”


First Century Perspective

Daniel 7:24-27 – Ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them. This one shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, shall wear out the holy ones of the Most High, and shall attempt to change the sacred seasons and the law; and they shall be given into his power for a time, two times, and half a time. Then the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and totally destroyed. The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.

The Ten Kings in the prophecy could be the leaders of the ten cohorts operating under General Titus and Emperor Vespasian in the destruction of Jerusalem. Alternatively, the Ten Kings could be ten Caesars of the Roman Empire. The king who arose after them in the prophecy could be General Titus, the son of the tenth Caesar, Vespasian. The prophecy says that the new king would put down three other kings.

After the death of Emperor Nero, there was a battle for the emperor’s throne, and Titus and Vespasian defeated three other contenders (Galba, Otho and Vitellius), each of whom briefly ruled in 69 A.D. After that victory, Titus and Vespasian co-ruled the empire, with both of them having the title Caesar. Titus committed blasphemous acts in the temple and sought to alter Jewish customs as described in the prophecy.

Thus far, the first century interpretation makes sense. However, at the end of the passage quoted above, we encounter the same “problem” that we had with 2nd Thessalonians in the last post. Daniel describes the coming of the Messiah and the new Kingdom Age in the same context as the aforementioned war – “the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and totally destroyed. The kingship and dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High.”

Obviously, this did not happen in a literal sense during the first century. In my post on the Olivet Discourse of the Gospels, I described a way in which the Bible allows us to infer a prolonged gap of time between the first century events and the future return of Christ. The big question is whether the Bible prophecies a specific recurrence of conflict between the Jews and surrounding kingdoms that will take place right before Christ returns.


Potential Future Fulfillment

In Daniel 7:1-8, four animals are described (a lion, a bear, a leopard, and an ambiguous creature). Those four animals could represent four religious-backed alliances (a Buddhist alliance, a Hindu alliance, an Islamic alliance, and a Christian alliance). This was the view held by A.E. Knoch, the founder of the Concordant Publishing Concern. His views are outlined in the book Concordant Studies in the Book of Daniel. Key points and quotes from his commentary on Daniel 7 can be found in the article “The Four Great Beasts” by Lorraine Day, M.D.

Also, on the website of the Concordant Publishing Concern, there is an article by A.E. Knoch titled “The Three Eastern Beasts” from his series “The Mystery of Babylon,” which addresses describes Daniel 7 in conjunction with Revelation.

The first animal, the Lion, could represent a Buddhist alliance. The Concordant Literal New Testament describes the Lion as an “eastern animal.” Of the four major religions in the world, Buddhism is the easternmost religion. The Lion was described as having “eagle’s wings,” implying an ability to spread across regions. This may represent the spread of Buddhism from its origin in India to East and Southeast Asia. The Lion was also given a “human mind.” This may symbolize Buddhism’s focus on humaneness and ethics (Concordant Studies in the Book of Daniel, p. 222, quoted in “The Four Great Beasts” by Lorraine Day, M.D.).

Looking to the future, it is very conceivable that an Asian alliance of nations could form with China as its head, given China’s dramatic rise in economic and political power. If this relates to Daniel’s prophecy, the alliance is likely to have the backing of Buddhist leaders in Asia.

The second animal described is a bear. Given that the Lion was the “eastern animal,” it makes sense that the Bear would be slightly west of the Lion. If you start in East Asia and travel west, the next major religion you will encounter is Hinduism in India.

Daniel wrote that the Bear “was raised up on one side” and “had three tusks in its mouth” (v. 5). A.E. Knoch believed that this passage depicts the Caste System. In this interpretation, the part of the bear “raised up” is the Brahman priestly caste. The three tusks in the Bear’s mouth are the three castes beneath the priests. Note that unlike the Lion, there is no mention of wings on the Bear. This could symbolize the fact that Hinduism’s spread beyond India has been very limited (Concordant Studies in the Book of Daniel, p. 222, quoted in “The Four Great Beasts” by Lorraine Day, M.D.).

Today, India is another country that is rapidly growing economically. With a population of 1.3 billion, more than one sixth of the world’s population, I could imagine India as a stand-alone, Hindu-backed empire to compete with the other three in the prophecy.

Continuing westward, the next religion we encounter is Islam, in the Middle East. Islam may be represented by the Leopard in Daniel’s prophecy. The Leopard had “four wings” (v. 6). If wings symbolize spread of a religion, Islam’s rapid spread, both historically and in the present day, is noteworthy. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world today, according to a 2015 Pew Research study. The world’s Muslim population is projected to have a 70% increase by 2050, and Muslims are expected to comprise 10% of Europe’s population by then.

Daniel wrote that dominion was given to the Leopard (v. 6). We know that the Middle Eastern nations play a major role in global politics and economics. The “four heads” of the Leopard (v. 6) could represent four Islamic nations that will form an alliance near the end of this age.

Continuing westward, we encounter the parts of the world that A.E. Knoch refers to as “Christendom,” Europe and the Americas (Knoch, “The Three Eastern Beasts”).  Now, the obvious question would be, if we believe that Christianity is the one true religion, why does the prophecy group Christianity in with other religions, and why does it describe the fourth animal as evil and violent?

First, I believe this prophecy is NOT talking about individual practitioners of any of these religions. Knoch describes the relationship of religions to kingdoms in Daniel 7 as follows:

The fourth beast is repeatedly called a kingdom and it includes ten kings. If then, these are kingdoms, what relation do they sustain to the temple and to Israel as the priest nation? In ancient times religion was a matter of state. Nebuchadnezzar was neither the first nor the last to demand religious as well as political submission. As the wild beast, or its head, the anti-christ of the future will demand more than political fealty. He will have the worship of all mankind. His image will be the object of divine honors far above that accorded the most exalted potentate. The clash between Israel and the nations at the time of the end will arise out of their refusal to worship the image, rather than a breach of political faith. All of this leads us to the conclusion that the beasts of Daniel and the composite beast of Revelation are kingdoms in which religion is directly or indirectly a matter of state (“The Three Eastern Beasts”).

Thus, the prophecy deals with characteristics of nations that claim a particular religion as their basis, not the spiritual status of the religions at their core. Note that, what we see from European history is that church-run governments have the potential to turn violent and oppressive. The problem is not the true Christian religion, which is founded upon Scripture, but rather, faulty ideas about God and man’s role that corrupted the church. Similar corruption of the Christian faith could occur in a future Christian confederation.

What Daniel’s prophecy seems to indicate is that a Christian alliance of nations will eventually form in the Western world. The current European Union is a secular union. This is why I believe that if this future interpretation of Daniel comes to pass, the current European Union will be dissolved. The United Kingdom’s recent exit could be the start of this. What would eventually form is a new, religious European Union, that could very well include the Americas too. In the prophecy, the fourth animal had “ten horns” (v. 6). This could represent leaders of ten nations forming the new union.

The prophecy later says that a new horn rose up in place of three that fell off, and that the new horn had defeated those three. This could symbolize some sort of new leader arising and exposing political scandals involving three other leaders of the new union, forcing them to step down. However, as the prophecy will later reveal, this new leader himself is far from righteous.

With this political conflict in mind, it is worthwhile to consider the increasing tendency for countries to meddle with each other’s political processes. Organizations like Wikileaks are creating new platforms for such interference.

The new, Western leader depicted in the prophecy, and its supportive organizations, could be privately affiliated with any religion, or no religion at all. However, if this future scenario comes to pass, I think the leader will be guised as Christian in some way or another.

Once this leader gets into power, he or she will likely get the world’s other three alliances (East Asia/Buddhist, India/Hindu, Middle East/Islam) to cooperate with the Western alliance on common objectives for the world. This persuasion is likely to be made by finding common ground across the world on issues of both politics and religion. This absorption of the other alliances is implied by Revelation Chapter 13, which depicts a beast resembling that of Daniel 7, but with all four animals combined into a single creature (Knoch, “The Three Eastern Beasts”).

It is likely that the Western leader would act supportive of Israel at first, and may even support Israel in reconstructing the Jerusalem temple. However, the Western leader will eventually turn on Israel and go to war against them (Dan. 7:24-25). This leader may also persecute Christians who do not support his or her agenda, or whatever form of Christianity is favored by the government. If the “time, two-times, and half-a-time” of Daniel 7:25 is to be literal, this war would last for 3.5 years.

However, the prophecy continues to say that this leader’s reign will be stopped (v. 26). It is not said exactly how this will happen. It is possible that it will occur through the actual return of Christ, or perhaps, shortly before Christ returns, there will be a political revolution that removes the leader from power.

I do not necessarily believe that the aforementioned war will involve global destruction. Using the period of 66-70 A.D. as a precedent for fulfillment, there was some sporadic violence throughout the ancient Roman empire as well as natural disasters, but the only severely affected areas were Jerusalem and surrounding regions. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica that the Rapture would come at a time when people are saying “peace and security” (1 Thess. 5:1-2). The Thessalonians were within what is modern-day Greece. Thus, while there could be some elevated violence and other crises throughout the world in the final years of this age, most people will likely, for the most part, be carrying on as usual in the years right before the Rapture.

It is after the Rapture, during a brief period before Christ’s arrival on earth, that it appears disasters will severely affect the entire world (1 Thess. 5:1-3, 2 Thess. 1:5-10). However, if you look at the passage from 2 Thess. 1, note that the destruction is directed toward those who are rebellious against God. Even though the Rapture only includes believers who are in the Body of Christ, there are people outside of the Christian faith who are striving to do what is right in accord with their conscience, are resisting their selfish passions, and live according to the principles which Jesus taught. I feel that there is good reason to think that these people will be protected on earth during the period right before Christ’s arrival on earth. In Jesus’ many parables about His coming kingdom, those granted access are those who do good works in accord with love for others.

On the other hand, the significance of being a believer, as described in Paul’s writing, is about entering into a special kind of relationship with the Lord based on justification (Rom. 3 – 8), being made a new creation spiritually (2 Cor. 5:17), and having a special role in the coming ages (Eph. 2:7). However, I do not believe this is the baseline message of salvation in Scripture. Rather, it is a special salvation for believers in this age.

The advantage of being a believer is that, through the Rapture, there is absolute assurance of protection from the calamities that will occur right before Christ arrives on earth to establish a new eon for the world.


Concluding Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, this entire future fulfillment of Daniel 7 is not something that I am absolutely sure will happen. However, in light of the fact that prophecy is not confined to a particular era, but instead, is being continually fulfilled throughout human history, I found it worthwhile to consider possible clues in Daniel about a future fulfillment to take place shortly before Christ returns and the present age comes to a close. The interpretation of Daniel 7 described in this article makes sense to me based on the spiritual perspectives on the world and religions that I have arrived at through thematic analysis of Scripture in general.

I want to close this article by saying that, I am not encouraging people to completely separate themselves from institutional Christianity due to anything I have written. Furthermore, I am not saying that it is wrong for religion to play a role in politics. Rather, what I am writing against is enslavement to religious systems. This enslavement can manifest itself in forms such as, feeling guilty to differ on points of doctrine, feeling obligated to pledge support to various missions or political agendas, or feeling obligated to stay with a church even when that fellowship is not yielding anything beneficial to one’s life. If you can be a member of a church without being chained to the system in this way, then that is perfectly fine, and you are not at risk of religious deception.

Having looked at prophecies contained within the Bible itself in recent posts, the next matter to discuss would be, what to think of prophecies that Christians claim to receive from God today. I believe that our examination of Biblical prophecy will provide a helpful framework for thinking about modern-day claims of supernatural revelation.


Works Cited

Knoch, A.E. Concordant Studies in the Book of Daniel. Concordant Publishing Concern, 1968.  qtd in Day, Lorraine, M.D. “The Four Great Beasts: What or Who Are They?” The Good News About God. Spencer Publishing. 2006.     http://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/studies/current_news/home_study/daniel7.htm

Knoch, A.E. “The Three Eastern Beasts.” Concordant Publishing Concern, n.d., Web.                 http://concordant.org/expositions/the-mystery-of-babylon/13-three-eastern-beasts/

Morais, Daniel. “Daniel 7: A Preterist Commentary.” Revelation Revolution. n.p., n.d., Web. http://revelationrevolution.org/daniel-7-a-preterist-commentary/

“The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050.” Pew Research Center, 2 April 2015, Web. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/

2nd Thessalonians and the Future of this Age

As I have written in preceding posts, I believe the prophecies of Daniel and Jesus had a fulfillment during 0 – 70 A.D. But, as I showed in the most recent post, prophecy is not confined to a particular period of time. The spiritual factors at play in the first century are still at play today, and will continue to be so throughout this age. So, the question becomes, in addition to the first century fulfillment, are there any other fulfillments prior to Christ’s return that are specifically addressed in Scripture? Although I am not really dogmatic about this matter, I do find some evidence for a future fulfillment.

First, let’s revisit 2nd Thessalonians.

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming (2 Thess. 2:1-8).

There are several things important to note here. The first is that Paul opens the chapter by mentioning the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and then tells the church not to worry about rumors that the “day of the Lord” had already come. Thus, the context seems to indicate that the “day of the Lord” is synonymous with the Rapture and associated events,  described in Chapters Four and Five of First Thessalonians.

Paul writes that two events must precede the Day of the Lord. The first is “the rebellion.” I consider this rebellion to have been fulfilled in the first century. Many of the late-New Testament writings describe a serious departure from the Gospel taking place in their day. For example, in 2nd Timothy Paul writes,

You are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me (1:15).

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! (4:14-16)”

Also note some passages from the epistle of Jude:

Jude 4: “For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

16-19: “These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage. But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.’ It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions.

But now, what about the “man of lawlessness” that Paul describes, who “takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.” In light of all the other prophecies we have looked at, and the events of 66-70, it is tempting to say that the man of lawlessness was the Roman General Titus, who led the destruction of Jerusalem and was worshipped in the temple by other Roman officers. However, a “problem” for this interpretation comes in Paul’s statement that the man of lawlessness would be destroyed at the time of Christ’s return. Since Titus did not die in 70 A.D., and Christ did not physically return, could these prophecies be awaiting a future fulfillment?

First, keeping in mind that Bible prophecy is not strictly confined to certain eras, I consider it a valid interpretation to say that, while the physical person known as the man of lawlessness lived and died in the past, the spirit which drove that person to do the things he did is still alive today, and has infected various individuals throughout history. That spirit will not be destroyed until Christ returns and establishes a new spiritual order.

I also find Scriptural evidence for this interpretation. For example, the Apostle John wrote,

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world (1st John 4:1-4).”

John depicts the antichrist as a spirit that was alive in his own day, inspiring false prophets. This suggests that the concept of antichrist in Scripture is not limited to a single, physical individual. Undoubtedly, this spirit will find its way into some evil individuals at the time Christ returns, just as it has throughout history. Now, the big question is, does the Bible say anything about a specific person who will be possessed by this spirit at the time Christ returns? I believe that evidence of such a person may be hidden in the text of Daniel 7. In the next post, we will examine that in detail.

What We Can Learn from the First Century Fulfillment of Prophecy

In the last two posts, I discussed prophecies of Daniel and Jesus, and explained how I believe they were fulfilled in the first century, through the death and resurrection of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and the Jewish-Roman War. However, I want to emphasize now is that prophecies are not confined to a particular era. The spiritual factors at play during the first century fulfillment are still at play today. But I believe that recognizing the first century fulfillment enables us to gain insights into what is going on spiritually in the world today.

In the “Daniel 9” part of this series, I mentioned how, in the early church, many Christians, including genuine, spirit-filled believers, were trying to continue following the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. Paul denounced the mixing of the law with the gospel of grace (Gal. 2:12, 3:1-5), but the controversy never ended. The proof that the outward ordinances of the Law were no longer binding on the world came when the temple was destroyed. The temple was meant to be a physical symbol of righteousness, and a place through which people would come to God. However, the fall of the temple symbolized the end of the flesh trying to do Law. It symbolized the end of outward reforms and ordinances to produce inward righteousness.

When this is realized, it provides insights into the social and spiritual conflict going on in the world today. I want to share my insights on what is happening today with moral condition of the United States. Many Christians believe that we are living in a time of moral decline. However, what I believe is happening, is that many people, especially young people, are realizing that they cannot make their flesh cannot obey what their church is telling them, or even what the Bible is telling them. And there are various forces in the media systems who are telling these people that they should just live in whatever way feels natural to them.

I believe that the spirit behind the Romans’ destruction of the temple is the same spirit that is in the media systems who are telling people they can live however they are inclined. I am not denying that it is a spirit of animosity toward God. However, in both cases, I believe that God allows that spirit to run its course in order to vindicate the gospel of grace. God is not panicking about this generation turning away from conservative morality. There is a method to the madness. We need to understand this in order to properly react to the things going on today.

First, I believe our starting point should be the realization that, were it not for the grace of God shown to us, we would be like the people who are disregarding Biblical morality. The fact that you are different – the fact that you are still seeking to live according to the Scriptures despite being told through the media to live as you please – indicates that God has chosen you for a special purpose and set you apart. None of us were wise enough to choose God on our own initiative.

Once that is understood, we can realize what the gospel of grace produces, or rather, what it fails to produce. A key element in the paradigm of grace is “no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Thus, we can understand the real problem with the liberal agenda that is turning people away from Biblical morality. The problem is not their denial that everybody can make themselves live a certain way. Instead, the problem is that, instead of believing in the true gospel of grace, they try to redefine morality. They are trying to modify Biblical commandments to fit the 21st century and redefine what it means to be a responsible person.

However, I believe that God is allowing this to happen in order to demonstrate His grace. I believe that God is calling out certain people who are in this situation and leading them to writings and ministries that acknowledge the struggle with the flesh they are dealing with, but also reveal the truth of justification and show how faith in the gospel can bring them into a new way of life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, instead of the flesh trying to reform itself. (Rom. 8:1-11).

Lastly, I want to address the commonly held belief that God allows disasters to happen in order to bring nations to repentance. The war and political unrest of 60-70 A.D. did not make Rome a godly empire. Although there was some unrest throughout the empire, the intense destruction only took place in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Many worldly, immoral people in other parts of the empire carried on as usual. After the conflict period of 60 – 70 A.D., Rome resumed its peak era for at least another century, despite continued persecution of Christians and Jews, and other kinds of immorality.

I bring this up because many Christians today are directing the “end-times” prophecies at worldly sinners everywhere. But when these prophecies came to a literal fulfillment in the first century, outside of Jerusalem and surrounding regions, life more or less carried on as usual despite some elevated conflict. When Jesus was on earth, he told when to flee Judea, and where to go. Anybody could have left, and been safe through the war, even if they were living in sin. We cannot truly say that this war was a judgment upon the world for its sins.

Yet in current times, I hear many Christians on the internet declaring that any day now, God is going to allow all kinds of calamities to come upon the United States as judgment upon sinners, and that through these crises, God will bring about a great revival. But is that really how God’s judgments work? I have not found historical evidence of a great revival during 66-70 A.D. And the same could be said about times of crises today.

Regarding God’s judgments, J. Preston Eby writes,

Often they [Christians] quote the scripture . . . “When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” . . .   But have any of these [disasters], even one of them, in the history of the world, ever caused the world to LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS?  That is the question . . .  Do you suppose the people who died in the twin towers were greater sinners than the rest of the people in America?  . . . When God “judged” southeast Asia with the tsunami, do you suppose it was only the people in the coastal areas that were wicked, and deserving of God’s wrath? . . . [Was God] really out to “teach them righteousness” through these terrible events?  Is Thailand now a righteous nation?  Have they abandoned their false gods and stopped the filthy sex industry?  Is Sri Lanka now a godly country?  Has Indonesia ceased to harass and persecute believers, and now become a sweet Christian nation?  Has anything changed in India since the disaster?  DID EVEN ONE OF THOSE NATIONS, OR EVEN ONE CITY IN ONE OF THOSE NATIONS, LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS BY THE “JUDGMENT”?  Answer that question correctly and you will know a great mystery concerning the ways and purposes of God!


I believe it is not during this age that the nations of the world will undergo judgment and learn righteousness. It is during the future age of the Messianic Kingdom that a new spiritual order will be established on the earth, and then, judgments upon the nations will bring them to a state of righteousness.

So, then, what is happening with the things going on in the world today? I believe that God can work through crises to bring about redemptive outcomes for those predestined for salvation in this age. Ephesians 1:11 says that believers are “destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.” Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” The details of how predestination works, or how God is involved or uninvolved with various events in the world, are matters which I am generally not dogmatic about. But I do not believe that God causes or allows disasters to happen as a judgment upon nations for their sins.

When the first-century fulfillment of prophecy is understood, it sheds much light on what is going on in the present day. My next post in this series will examine whether the prophecies from Daniel, and also the New Testament, reveal any things that are to happen in the future before the return of Christ.


Works Cited

Eby, Preston J. “From the Candlestick to the Throne Part 95.” Kingdom Bible Studies. Kingdom Bible Studies, n.d., Web. 9 August 2016.

Prophecies of the Olivet Discourse

Scriptural Quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version

The Olivet Discourse is a name which Biblical commentators often give to the prophecy that Jesus spoke to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. The prophecy is recorded in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, and it discusses the future of the world as it was known to Jews of that era. We will look at Matthew’s account first.

Jesus’ prophesy starts at the beginning of Matthew 24.

Matthew 24:1-3 – “As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’”

There are several important things to note. The disciples were admiring the temple that was standing in their own day. Jesus then warned them not to get too attached to it by predicting that it would be destroyed. That must have worried the disciples, because they privately asked Jesus for more information about three things:

  1. When would the temple be destroyed?
  2. What is the sign of Christ’s return?
  3. How would they know when the end of the age was near?

If the disciples asked these questions, obviously they were familiar with the passages of Daniel that we looked at earlier. Daniel indicated that the destruction of the temple would happen near the end of the “seventy weeks,” which also meant the end of the Biblical age in which they were living. The tricky part is Christ’s return. Daniel’s writing appeared to say that the Messiah would come around the same time that the temple was destroyed and the seventy weeks concluded (Dan. 7:25-27, 12:9-12). That is why the disciples also asked about Christ’s second coming.

The critical points are that the disciples were staring at the temple of their own day and asking about it, and Jesus’ prophecy was given as a 2nd person narrative, indicating that the events prophesied were events that the disciples themselves would live to see (if they were not martyred first).

In Matthew 24:6-8, Jesus said,

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

The Roman Empire went into a state of unrest when Nero became emperor as described in the following commentary from Revelation Revolution,

During Nero’s reign Rome went to war with the Parthians, there was a war in Britain and there were various other rebellious disturbances across the empire. All these uprisings and wars immediately preceded the Jewish War in fulfillment of vs. 6-7. Then in A.D. 66, toward the end of Nero’s reign, the province of Israel revolted against Rome. While the Israelites fought the Romans, they also turned their weapons against each other; and civil war broke out all over Israel between those wanting peace and those seeking sovereignty. Then in A.D. 69, the disease of civil war spread to the rest of the Roman Empire” (quoted from Matthew 24 Fulfilled)

The commentary also describes earthquakes and famines taking place in that era,

“During the reign of Claudius Caesar, the emperor immediately preceding Nero, a colossal famine struck the Roman world. Concerning this famine, James Stuart Russell writes, ‘In the fourth year of his [Claudius] reign, the famine in Judea was so severe, that the price of food became enormous and great numbers perished.’ One example of the earthquakes mentioned in v. 7 is the earthquake that struck Laodicea sometime between A.D. 60 and A.D. 64 during the reign of Nero. It is interesting to note that one of the churches addressed by John in the Book of Revelation was a church in this city (Revelation 3:14-22). Prior to A.D. 70 there were also earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Hierapolis, Colossae, Campania, Rome and Judea” (quoted from Matthew 24 Fulfilled).

So far, everything seems to fit the first-century interpretation. However, the next part of the discourse creates a little difficulty. Consider verses 15-18:

When you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat.

The reason this is a bit difficult for the first-century interpretation is that, if this refers to Roman officials committing an abomination in the temple, such occurrences are not known to have happened until shortly before the temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., at which point the war was already near peak intensity. For many people, it would have been too late to evacuate as Jesus said to do. However, Luke’s account of the prophecy is a bit different and seems to resolve this issue.

Many Biblical historians think that Mark’s Gospel was written first, and that Matthew and Luke’s incorporated Mark’s writing in addition to other sources (Mark Introduction, Harper Collins Study Bible, p. 1724). In Luke’s introduction to his Gospel, he wrote that many accounts of Jesus’ life had been written and that his writing was a compilation of recorded events in Jesus’ life, based on Luke’s personal examination of many sources and discussion with eye-witnesses (Luke 1:1-4).

I bring things matters up because the stories of Jesus’ life circulated in oral tradition long before the Gospels were actually written. When a story is perpetuated via oral communication, it is natural for some variations of the same story to emerge. As a result, there is some variation in the accounts of certain events among the Gospels. If Luke’s Gospel was one of the later Gospels, then he would probably have selected versions of prophesies that best aligned with actual events that occurred. My theory, based on comparison of the Olivet Discourse among the Gospels, is that Matthew and Mark were written pre-70 or else very shortly after, whereas Luke was written well beyond 70.

Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse in Chapter 21 starts out like Matthew and Mark, but there are a couple of key differences later on:

Luke 21: 21-24, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jewish Christians were told to flee Jerusalem when they saw the city “surrounded by armies.” If they followed this instruction, they would have left in 66-67, before the worst of the violence. Historical records show that beginning in 66, many Christians who knew Jesus’ prophecy left Jerusalem.

A commentary from John Denton of PreteristArchive says that Roman armies appeared in Jerusalem around 66-70 A.D., but then largely withdrew. However, after the Roman withdrawal, different Jewish factions in Jerusalem broke out into civil war. Denton wrote,

“After the withdrawal of the Roman armies and for the following three years, those listening to ‘Jesus voice’ by means of his disciples, separated themselves from the inhabitants of Jerusalem and fled the city. According to Josephus’ historical account, during this time, internal anarchy within the city of Jerusalem was continually churning away. Civil war was continuing without let up within the walls of Jerusalem . . . Living in the city of Jerusalem had become a nightmare, it was so full of violence and misery, the citizens desperately wanted to get rid of these fanatics. Famine and food shortages had become an everyday problem, there seemed no let up or end to these factions burning hatred for each other. Daily the fighting continued and the casualties mounted.”

Several other prophecies of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse are reflected in the events just described, including famines, hatred of people toward each other, and anarchy.

Note that Jesus said that after the Jews saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies, those in the city must leave, and those in surrounding Judea must flee to the mountains. Even though, after an initial approach, Roman armies had withdrawn from Jerusalem during 67-70, historical records indicate that during this 3.5-year interval, Roman armies were still attacking surrounding regions, as described in the following commentary from Revelation Revolution,

“‘A time, times and half a time’ [Dan. 7:25] is three and a half years.  This is the interval between the arrival of Titus and Vespasian in Israel to lead the Roman army during the Jewish War in March of A.D. 67 to the fall of Jerusalem in September of A.D. 70.  Rabbinic tradition confirms the fact that Titus and Vespasian assaulted Israel for three and a half years.  According to the Midrash Rabbah Lamantations 1:12, Vespasian was expected to be punished in Gehenna for three and a half years because that was the length of time in which he besieged Israel” (quoted from Daniel 7 Fulfilled).

Thus, it appears that the only way to be completely safe would be to hide in the mountains during this 3.5 year period.

Also, recall that Jesus said that during the Tribulation, false messiahs would arise (Luke 21:8). An example of such a false messiah was John Levi, an apostate Jew who claimed to be sent by God to help the Jews fight off the Romans. Larry T. Smith wrote that John Levi “took over the control of the Temple, set himself up in the Temple as the Jewish savior, looted the vessels of the Temple for their Gold, and caused the daily animal sacrifices to cease” (quoted from The 70th Week of Daniel).

Having considered all of the evidence for the first-century fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies, we still need to address the “problem” of Jesus not returning to earth in 70 A.D.

Matthew wrote that Jesus would return “immediately after the suffering of those days” (Matt. 24:29). Luke, however, does not use the word “immediately.” This is what makes me think that Luke was written after 70. We do not know exactly what Jesus said, given that historians have not found any transcripts known to be written during His earthly lifetime. Early Christians who believed Christ would return in their lifetimes may have shaped their oral communications of Jesus’ prophecy in light of that expectation, and Matthew and Mark may have picked up those versions which conveyed a greater degree of imminence.

I think that Luke’s Gospel, on the other hand, conveys a hint of an extended interval before Christ’s return. Luke writes,

For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

This passage about the “times of the Gentiles” may be significant. Luke was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, and the era of the Gentiles is a theme in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

Romans 11:25-27: “So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’

In the Old Testament era, God’s working with humanity was centered on Israel. However, what Paul describes in Romans and Galatians is God’s new way of working with humanity in which “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek” (Romans 10:12). In the passage above, Paul wrote that Israel has been “hardened” during this era, but that when all the Gentiles called to salvation in this era are brought into the faith, Christ will return, and then Israel as a nation will be brought to faith in Him as the Messiah.

Paul writes in Ephesians 3:5-6, “In former generations this mystery was not made known to        humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Paul writes that the mystery of this age was not made known to previous generations, which could explain why the prophecies of Daniel (such as Dan. 7:23-27), and even Jesus’ prophecies during his earthly lifetime, seemed to skip over it. So, even though specific Tribulational prophecies were fulfilled in the first century, the era of the Gentiles has continued up to the present day, and in a general sense, the Tribulation has as well, if you consider the persecution of Jews which has been a grave problem throughout the past two millennia.

Before I close this article, I want to mention one more passage from the Olivet Discourse that has generated much debate. In Matthew 24:34 and Mark 13:30, Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.

However, Luke once again generalizes the statement: “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place” (Lk. 21:32).

In Luke’s account, the NRSV translation omits the word “these” from the phrase “all these things have taken place.” “These things” would specifically include the physical return of Christ to the earth, something that did not happen in the generation Jesus spoke to. The difference in wording is also reflected in the underlying Greek. Luke’s account does not have the Greek word “tauta” that was translated “these” in Matthew and Mark.

By saying that “this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place,” it is obvious that we cannot interpret the passage literally. Even if Christ had returned in 70, that would not have been the last thing that ever happened in the world!

So, I believe what the prophecy really means is that, in principle, all things would be fulfilled in that generation. In the case of Christ’s return, He returned on the day of Pentecost through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of believers (Acts 2). Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:6 that God “made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Being made alive in Christ and seated with Him in the heavens is a spiritual fulfillment of the Rapture, and this came upon believers in the same generation that Jesus spoke about.

I want to tie this idea into the overarching theme of this series of posts, which is that, we should not approach Bible prophecy by getting fixated on events of the future (or the past, for that matter). All prophecy is, in some sense, true of the present. Thus, the goal of prophecy is not to predict the future, but rather, to understand the present. Seeing how certain prophecies were fulfilled in the past can help us understand what the same prophecies say about the present. If we live in light of what is true now, we will be prepared should prophecies that were fulfilled in the past play out again. The next post will examine how the prophecies we have been discussing apply to the present, and I will share some views on what implications these prophecies may hold for the future.


Works Cited

“Matthew 24 Fulfilled.” Revelation Revolution. n.p., n.d., Web. 18 July 2016.

“Daniel 7: A Preterist Commentary.” Revelation Revolution. n.p., n.d., Web. 18 July 2016.

Adela Yarbro Collins, Ph.D. The Gospel According to Mark Introduction. The Harper Collins Study Bible. Ed. Harold W. Attridge. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. 1722-1724. Print.

John Denton. “Prophetic Day or Year: Jerusalem’s Destruction and the Seventy Weeks.” The Preterist Archive. The Preterist Archive, n.d., Web. 26 July 2016.

Smith, Larry T. “The Seventieth Week of Daniel.” Rightly Dividing The Word. Rightly Dividing The Word, 2002. Web. 17 July 2016

Prophecies of Daniel 9

Scriptural Quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version

The book of Daniel is one of the most analyzed books of the Bible on the subject of prophecy. It can be a confusing book of the Bible given that it has prophecies that seem to have already been fulfilled, and prophecies that have not been clearly fulfilled, presented in very close textual proximity. Furthermore, prophetic writings are mixed in with depictions of events going on in Daniel’s own lifetime.

This style of writing is typical of Bible prophecy in general, and I think it is the reason why there is so much debate and disagreement among scholars as to the meaning of prophecies. I personally have reached a point where I do not try to untangle cryptic prophetic writings and arrange a precise, chronological prediction of world events. Instead, I try to step back and consider broader, overarching themes of Scripture that are reflected not only in these prophetic writings, but the Bible in general, and to understand how these themes are playing out in my own life.

That said, specific prophetic writings are still important to talk about, and I am not opposed to discussing them in relation to historical or current events as long as there is some room for uncertainty. So, in this article, I want to discuss some prophecies of Daniel that are often used to predict future events.

The book of Daniel is where the idea of a seven year period preceding the end of this age comes from. A critical passage is in Chapter 9, Verses 24-27:


Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time. After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.”


There is general agreement among Biblical scholars that if a “week” refers to a quantifiable period of time, it means seven years. Thus, the “seventy weeks” in Verse 24 probably refer to seventy periods of seven years, which equals 490 years. When Daniel wrote this, the Jews were still in Babylonian captivity. Verse 25 says that the seventy weeks would begin once Israel was released and began rebuilding the temple. Daniel wrote in Verse 26 that after sixty-two weeks (483 years), an “anointed one” would be cut off. Biblical historians have noted that Jesus’ ministry began about 483 years after the Jews were released from captivity. Thus, the “anointed one” being “cut off” after 483 years probably refers to the crucifixion of Christ around 27-33 A.D. Most Christians are in agreement up to this point; it’s what comes next that starts a debate.

Verse 26 mentions troops of a future prince destroying Jerusalem and the temple in association with wars and desolations. There is general agreement that the destruction of the temple was fulfilled in 70 A.D. The controversial part is, who is the prince?

The traditional Evangelical view of prophesy, known as the Futurist view, says that since it was the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., there will be a new Roman empire created sometime in the future, and the leader of that empire is the prince Daniel referenced. Despite the fact that the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., Verse 27 mentions the temple again by referencing “sacrifices and offerings.” Thus, Futurists contend that the temple will be rebuilt in the future so that this prophesy can take place. The prince is identified as the Antichrist. Since Verse 27 says that the prince will make a covenant for seven years, Futurists teach that the antichrist will make a seven-year covenant with Israel and allow them to rebuild the temple. They identify this seven year period as the Tribulation. Verse 27 says that the prince will eventually cause the sacrifices to stop, and desecrate the temple. Futurists believe this will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation.

Although this interpretation can make sense, the problem is that the Bible never explicitly says a temple will be rebuilt before the coming Messianic age. Furthermore, I believe there is very substantial evidence that the prophecies of Daniel 9:24-27 had a fulfillment in the first century.

First, let’s consider the part about someone making a covenant with the Jews. That word translated “make” could also be translated “confirm,” and the New King James Bible does so. Note that in Daniel’s prophecy, there are two men mentioned: the “anointed one” (the Messiah) and an apparently evil figure that is often called the Antichrist. Many commentators with a first-century perspective say that it is the Messiah, not the Antichrist, who confirms a covenant with the Jews.

Espousing this view, Larry T. Smith wrote,

He shall ‘CONFIRM THE COVENANT WITH MANY FOR ONE WEEK.’ This does not mean that the covenant was just seven years long, but it is dealing with the one week that is left of the 70 weeks in which the Messiah will confirm the covenant with many.  This week had to begin with Messiah the prince being anointed at His baptism. This was verse 24’s anointing of the most holy. This fulfilled one of the 6 requirements of the 70th week” (quoted from “The 70th Week of Daniel”).

Also, keep in mind what Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

Through this statement, Jesus was confirming the covenant with the Jews which God established through the Law of Moses in the Old Testament.

What I want to examine now is the concept of spiritual-physical parallels in the events of Christ’s life and death on earth, and the war of 66-70 A.D. in Jerusalem. Here are interpretations from Duncan McKenzie of PlanetPreterist.com:

“Daniel 9:26 and 27 parallel each other; that is, they each address the same two topics. The first part of each verse contains a reference to the killing of Messiah and the resulting end of the legitimacy of the sacrificial system. The death of Jesus brought an end to the legitimacy of the sacrificial system (cf. Matt. 27:50-51; Heb. 10:11-18); it happened after seven and sixty-two    weeks [483 years], Dan. 9:25 (i.e. it happened during the seventieth week)

. . .

The second part of verses 26 and 27 contain a reference to the coming of the one who would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple” (quoted from “The Last Half of Daniel’s 70th Week”).

The idea here is that the spiritual fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies occurred through the death of Christ, circa 30 A.D., which ended the validity of animal sacrifices. However, in the physical, earthly realm, the end of animal sacrifices came to an end in 70 A.D. via the Romans’ destruction of the temple.

McKenzie’s view is that Daniel’s 70th week could be interpreted either literally or symbolically. In a literal interpretation, the seven years take place in two 3.5 year segments, separated by a gap of 37-40 years. The first half took place during Jesus’ earthly ministry of 3.5 years. At the end of this period, the spiritual validity of animal sacrifices came to an end. The 2nd half took place during the war of 66-70 A.D. At the end of this half, sacrifices and offerings as prescribed by the Law of Moses became logistically impossible, as they had to be performed at the temple. Thus, if you add the two halves together, it equals seven years (i.e. one week). On the other hand, in a symbolic interpretation, McKenzie says that the period between Christ’s resurrection and the temple’s destruction could be viewed as the latter half of the 70th week. Under that interpretation, the two segments are not quantifiable time periods, but rather, the two halves are two phases of prophecy.

I think that McKenzie’s interpretations of the 70th week are reasonable ways to approach the prophecy. I also want to bring out a point that Gary Amirault of Tentmaker Ministries raised in his audio series “The Rapture You Missed.” Although I do not agree with his view that the Rapture took place in 70 A.D., I believe his series contains a lot of very important information regarding the events of 30 – 70 A.D. in relation to Bible prophecy. Amirault believes that the destruction of the temple was a necessary event in order to end a conflict that was dividing the Christian church and obscuring the gospel of grace.

The conflict involved whether believers in Christ were still required to follow the Mosaic laws. Prior to the ministry of Paul, who taught salvation apart from works of the Law, many believers in Christ were still preaching the ordinances of the Mosaic Law, including James, a half-brother of Jesus who was head of the Jerusalem Church about 10 years after Jesus’ ascension. Thus, even though believers were already free from the Law through Christ, the physical destruction of the temple was a necessary event in order to bring this realization to the Church on a practical level (“The Rapture You Missed,” Gary Amirault, Part 2, 5:00-7:00).

I believe there is very substantial Scriptural and historical evidence that the prophecies of Daniel 9 had a fulfillment during 30 – 70 A.D. My upcoming installments of this series will look at Jesus’ prophecies in the Synoptic Gospels, where I find more evidence of a first-century fulfillment. The reason I am highlighting first-century fulfillments is because it is important to understand the spiritual, political, and moral factors that were at play in that fulfillment, in case these prophecies are to have another fulfillment at some point in the future, a scenario that I consider possible, and I will show where and why at the end of this series.


Works Cited


Smith, Larry T. “The Seventieth Week of Daniel.” Rightly Dividing The Word. Rightly Dividing The Word, 2002. Web. 17 July 2016

“Daniel 7: A Preterist Commentary.” Revelation Revolution. n.p., n.d., Web. 18 July 2016.

McKenzie, Duncan. “The Last Half of Daniel’s 70th Week.”PlanetPreterist. n.p., 05 November 2007. Web. 17 July 2016.

Gary Amirault. “The Rapture You Missed (Part 2 of 6).” Tentmaker Ministries. Tentmaker Ministries, 27 January 2010. Web. 17 July 2016

The Rapture and the Coming Age

Scriptural Quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version

The Rapture is a subject that I have not written a lot about before, but it is nevertheless an important topic because it can play a significant role in the way that people look at their own lives and the world around them. The books of the Bible with the clearest writing on the Rapture are 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. The Rapture is an event associated with Christ’s return as described in 1 Thess. 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air.

I agree with the majority of Evangelicals that the Rapture is a physical, future event, in which all believers are given immortal bodies and caught up into the air to meet the Lord. However, Evangelicals have differing views on whether the Rapture will happen before, during, or after a seven-year crisis period known as the Tribulation. My view is different in that I do not believe the Bible necessarily prophesies a future, seven-year tribulation. I understand why many believe in a future seven-year period, given that there is a seven-year period prophesied in Daniel. However, I think that period has already had a fulfillment. Although it is possible that those prophecies could have a dual-fulfillment in the future, I do not think the whole world would be necessarily impacted (I intend to write more on that subject this summer).

However, both Thessalonian epistles depict a period of cataclysmic events associated with the Rapture. Immediately after the depiction of the Rapture, Paul writes,

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape!

Considering the context, I think it is reasonable to assume that the phrase “day of the Lord” refers to the time of the Rapture. Notice that Paul says the day of the Lord will come when people are saying “peace and security.” This leads me to believe that the Rapture will occur at a seemingly ordinary time, for most of the world.

The passage goes on to depict disasters on earth in connection with the Rapture. I believe these disasters occur immediately after the Rapture takes place, and I think 2nd Thessalonians indicates this:

2 Thess. 1:6-10 – “For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints.

Notice that the punishment of the unrighteous is depicted to occur simultaneously with Christ coming for His saints. This leads me to believe that cataclysmic events will begin on the earth right after the Rapture happens.

I believe the purpose of these disasters is to destroy the systems of government that have existed throughout the current age, which began after the flood in Genesis. This is to clear the way for Christ to rule the Earth through Israel in the coming age, as many prophecies from the Old Testament and the Four Gospels describe.

The events to take place right after the Rapture will be extremely severe. Natural disasters could erupt and destroy entire cities. But I think that all of this will take place very quickly (possibly just a few days, but that is only speculation), and afterwards, Christ will arrive on earth.

The reason I think the destruction period will be very short period is that, the Bible never depicts the Rapture of believers, and the return of Christ to the earth, as being separated by a period of time. Thus, I believe the Rapture and Christ’s return to the earth will occur in such close proximity that they are described as the same event. Matthew 24:31 – 25:33 also describes a Rapture-like event in the same context of Christ’s return to the earth.

After the post-Rapture destruction takes place, I believe that Christ will return to the earth and judge the nations based on how they treated believers in the years leading up to His return. Nations that treated believers favorably will be granted access to Christ’s new kingdom, and they will experience the blessings associated with it (Matthew 25). Nations that persecuted believers will face adverse conditions in the early phases of the new age. However, many Old Testament writings prophecy that eventually, all nations of the earth will worship Christ and become part of His kingdom (Psalm 86:9, 22:27, Isaiah 2:2).

Believers who were part of the Rapture will have immortal bodies, and should be able to quickly travel between Earth and the celestial realms. There is not a lot said in the Bible about exactly what we will be doing during the new Kingdom age, but Paul mentions judging angels (1 Cor. 6:3). I also expect that we may be assisting with the kingdom’s administration, and evangelizing to nations outside the kingdom.

So, to summarize my views on the Rapture, I believe that the Rapture is an event that could happen any time. Believers (both alive and deceased) will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, and all believers will be converted to immortality. After the Rapture, there will be a brief period of widespread disasters on the earth, after which Christ will return to the earth to establish the new kingdom age.

The Bible is an End-Times Book

It often seems that Christians are heavily focused on the end-times. For example, virtually every generation has thought that they were living in the end-times. Why is that the case? I believe it is because the Bible is thematically an end-times book. So, the focus on the end-times is quite understandable. However, I feel that the end-times theme is sometimes interpreted too narrowly.

If you ask people what books of the Bible talk about the end-times, the books you’ll probably hear most are Daniel and Revelation. But in reality, such writings are just a few instances of an overarching theme that encompasses everything from Genesis to Revelation.

So, what is the Biblical end-times theme? I believe the end-times theme is about transitioning into a new order. The old, corrupt ways entangled with sin are dissolved, and God works to bring in a new order of righteousness in the world, or in the lives of individuals.

The flood in Genesis was an instance of the end-times theme. That was one type of instance that God said would not happen again (Gen 8:21). The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt was another instance. In the New Testament, the theme of being born again (John 3:1-10) or being made a new creation are examples of the end-times theme in relation to individuals.

2 Cor. 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

The “renewing of one’s mind” (Rom. 12:2) is yet another example of the end-times theme.

A lot of the writings that are conventionally viewed as “end-times” writings today (such as Daniel) come from periods when the Jews were under oppression, such as the Babylonian captivity, and later Rome. These writings were connected to day-to-day, practical concerns and struggles for the Jews. These writings prophesied of a war between the Jews and their enemies, and promised that the Messiah would come to judge the nations persecuting the Jews, and establish a new order of righteousness in which Israel would rule the world.

But I want to relate this to an aforementioned point, which is that these writings are part of the broader end-times theme of freedom from oppression, and the transition from an old, corrupt order to a new, righteous order.

These writings were not simply written to inform us about events at a future time. Instead, these writings are instances of a much broader, sweeping theme across the Bible.

The end-times message is a transitional message rather than a doomsday message. Now, I am sure many of you know from your own experiences that transitions are not easy. Transitions causes tensions and conflicts, as there is resistance that has to be overcome. Thus, when nations, or individuals, go through “end-times” experiences, there is often upheaval and anxiousness along the way, as I am sure many of you have experienced.

However, the Biblical end-times theme is not about punishment, in the absolute sense. Everything that is involved with “end-times” scenarios, ultimately works toward a redemptive goal, either for individuals or the world. But something has to get the processes started. And the factors that God employs to drive the processes can seem like punishment even though ultimately they are of a transitional, corrective nature, designed to stimulate change.

I plan to make more posts this summer on the prophecies that are often looked at as end-times writings. Specific events which these writings point to is a subject where my own understanding is not conclusive in certain aspects, so that is why, instead of focusing on prophecies of specific world events, I wanted to make this current post to focus on the broader end-times theme in the Bible.

Politics, Religion, and Christian Worldviews at this Point in History

Here is a PDF version of this post.

Normally, I prefer not to write about current events on this blog. I do not want to imply that current events influence what I believe. My goal is to look for key principles in Scripture that are reflected in both my own life and human history in general, and then let readers decide how to specifically apply it to the present time or their own lives.

However, many Christians today (especially Fundamentalists) are putting current events at the center of their expression of their faith. Some of them almost go as far as to say that being a faithful Christian requires you to see what is going on today from their perspective. What I seek to do in this article is present an alternative Biblical perspective on the world today (that I believe better fits Scriptural themes), in order to show that the predominant Evangelical perspective is not the only worldview that can result from a study of Scripture. How you view the world from a Biblical perspective also has implications for what a Christian life entails, which is another reason why I am addressing this topic.

Key points that will be addressed in this article include:

Why I believe secular liberalism is near its peak in world history, and why religious conservatism is about to surge in the Western World

Parallels between institutionalized church systems and political systems.

How Christians should view their relationship to church systems and politics.


Romans 1:20 – Ever since the creation of the world [God’s] eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.

Throughout history, atheism has been a minority in the world’s population. Even today, when there seems to be a shift away from religion, atheists are probably not more than ~13% of the world’s population 1 and ~3% of the U.S. population 2. Most people are unable to definitively believe that humans are the highest power, and that the natural order is the only dimension to the universe. Deep inside most people is an intuition that something beyond the natural exists, or that the universe was not formed completely through chance. It is very difficult to see Creation, the world, and our own lives, and not have some inkling of a supernatural dimension. Even if people have no doctrines or theological models to explain it, the intuition is there.

Now, suppose that the devil wanted to keep people from acknowledging God. What would he do? Trying to convert the world to atheism would be a futile pursuit because most people cannot be atheists. So, what the devil does instead is create twisted understandings of God so that people can acknowledge some aspect of God but fail to recognize Him for who He really is.

Some of the earliest manifestations of this tactic were idol worship and nature worship. The Apostle Paul wrote that the problem of this was that people worshipping “the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). People saw a divine design in nature. But then they went awry by treating nature as if it were God Himself.

But not everybody is going to fall for this tactic. The Jewish teachings of the Old Testament proclaimed that there is only one God, that He is above all creation, and that He cannot be worshipped in the form of a human image. Even though some Jews in the Old Testament still got caught up in idolatry despite these teachings, the more observant Jews (such as the Pharisees) knew better than to fall for that. So, evil supernatural agents would have to come up with new tactics to keep folks like the Pharisees from knowing the true nature of God.

Many Pharisees were deceived by an idea of spiritual superiority. This was going on when Jesus was on earth. The Pharisees and other elite ranks of Jews thought that God’s favor was on them, and Jesus rebuked them for getting fixated on technical details of the Mosaic Law while looking down on the poor, the Gentiles, and people with certain illnesses and disabilities.

However, Christianity, in contrast, has emphasized generosity, forgiveness, and outreach, in response to Jesus’ admonishments to the Pharisees. So, is there any way that spiritual forces can keep Christians from recognizing the true nature of God? It turns out there is.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.”

Some types of Christianity have found a way to preach love and forgiveness, but still cause people to have fear about their spiritual standing. They do this by saying that God loves everybody and has made a way for everybody to be forgiven, but if people sin without repenting or “backslide” (something that is often ambiguously and subjectively defined), then despite God’s love for them and longing for them to repent, there is nothing He can do for them because they have chosen by their own “free will” to depart from Him.

In response to this teaching, the minister J Preston Eby wrote,
“As a child I was told in church that God so hated sin, that God could not look upon sin, could not excuse sin; so if I fell, if I slipped into sin, if I made a mistake, if I disobeyed the Lord, if I cussed or lusted or cheated or told a lie, and didn’t confess my sin to God and get it “under the blood” before I went to bed, should I die in my sleep before the sun rose I would certainly burst hell wide open!  According to the doctrine of condemnation living holy keeps you saved, whereas sin in your life causes you to lose your salvation . . . I tell you today — there is no hell anywhere worse than that one!  To live under condemnation is hell!  The doctrine of condemnation . . . contradicts the word of our reconciliation which declares that God does not impute our trespasses unto us, and denies that we are justified by grace through faith alone, not of works, lest any man should boast!” 3 (quoted from Revelation Series, Part 39 at kingdombiblestudies.org)

There are many people who see the problem with this teaching of condemnation. But unfortunately, they do not know of any Biblical alternative. So, even though they still believe in God in some way or another, they drift away from Christianity. If people are able to see the problem with religious condemnation, but manage to stay in the Christian faith and discover the true Gospel of grace, it’s literally a miracle and a sign that God has chosen them for a special role in life.

Now, keep in mind that the devil’s goal in religion is to cause people to have faulty notions about God. If people simply lose interest in Christianity and drift away, they’re not misleading people about God anymore. But the devil wants to get them back into the religious system. How can he do that? I believe that he has plotted a way to do that by constructing an enemy of religion. The ultimate goal is to provoke religion into a holy war against that enemy and make burdensome religion look good by contrast, thus drawing people who are seeking virtue and safety back into religious bondage.

I believe the enemy created to instigate this process was Secular Humanism.

The plot began five centuries ago, during the Renaissance. In response to religious violence, some philosophers began reasoning that traditional conceptions of God and religion were inherently harmful and divisive to society because of conflicts over who was on the side of God and who wasn’t. This, coupled with advancements in science and the arts, led many philosophers to think that humans had far more inherent potential than religious tradition had assumed, and thus, instead of reliance on God and confrontations over religion, people should simply seek to maximize their inherent, natural potential. This philosophy constituted Humanism. A new religion called Deism developed, which taught that there is a God who set the world into motion but is not actively involved in people’s lives.

Secular Humanistic thinking got a big boost in the mid-1800s. Continued advancements in science led some scientists to conclude that the existence of the world does not depend on God at all, but could be explained entirely through natural means. Darwin’s theory of Evolution was used by atheistic naturalists to further their agenda. Prominent atheists such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Nietzsche wrote some of the most vicious attacks on religion ever written, claiming that it was deeply damaging to society and personal development.

These 19th Century criticisms of religion gained attention among some progressive church leaders in the U.S. during the early 20th Century. In response to the social problems which plagued that era and the widespread, poor living standards resulting from laissez-faire economics, progressive Christians began to perceive that traditional Christianity was not impacting society that way it should. Although they did not see a need to abandon Christianity, they decided that the critics of religion had some valid points. In response, liberal Christians began emphasizing social justice, downplayed the themes of personal salvation and individual spiritual rebirth, and focused instead on the collective salvation of society. Liberal Christianity viewed the Bible as an ancient source of wisdom that was culturally conditioned, as opposed to being authoritative in every aspect.

In the latter half of the 20th Century, conservative Christians began aligning themselves with strongly capitalist economic models that emphasized smaller government and pro-business policies to boost job creation and economic growth. Liberal Christians, while often stopping short of socialism in the U.S., viewed the government as having a greater responsibility to fund programs to reduce poverty, and to enact policies to combat corporate greed.

Also, amid many high profile social movements, traditional views on moral issues (such as sexuality and gender roles) started getting called into question, and this is what often draws the ire of conservative Christians today. Liberal Christianity, with its culturally-conditioned view of Scripture and elevated view of inherent human nature, aided these movements to some degree.

In the late-20th Century, many countries in Western Europe adopted quasi-socialist economic policies, and Western Europe also began a trend toward secularization which was associated with significant declines in church attendance and interest in organized religion. The United States, however, seemed to be less affected by liberalism following a sharp resurgence of conservative politics in the 1980s. Although a Democrat was president in most of the 1990s, Congress was controlled by Republicans for the latter half of the decade, which prevented any dramatic progression of liberalization. Conservatism in the U.S. seemed to remain intact during the early-mid 2000s decade as a Republican president was elected for two terms.

However, it seemed that the country took a sharp liberal turn with the election of the current president in 2008. This was driven, to a significant degree, by the 2007-09 financial crisis which was often blamed on the previous administration. But the political shift was also driven by a strong movement of social liberalism that had been brewing for a while but did not shift elections until a new wave of Millennials became old enough to vote.

So, then, it would seem that post-2008, liberalism achieved the kind of dominance in the Western World that it had waited five centuries for. This alarmed many conservative Christians, and in subsequent years there was a sharp surge in apocalyptic prophecies on the internet. Some Christian Fundamentalist websites even began declaring the current president the anti-Christ as a result of the perception that he had favoritism toward Islam, promoted economic globalization, and suppressed Christian freedom.

Fundamentalists are portraying the ultimate battle today as a conflict between those who want to push God and Christian morals out of America vs. those who want to preserve the country’s Christian heritage and Biblical values. However, I believe the Fundamentalists are making a mistake in this portrayal. I believe that Secular Liberalism is not the ultimate enemy today. Instead, I believe it is an intermediate enemy designed to provoke religious conservatives into a holy cultural war that would ultimately make burdensome religion look safe and noble in contrast.

I perceive that in Western politics, most notably the United States, the tide is turning against liberal politics. Even though since 2008, liberalism got the kind of dominance it had waited centuries for, some people are starting to feel that it did not produce the ideal world that it promised. The U.S. and European economies still face a lot of difficulties in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Western countries have become more vulnerable to terrorism. Racial and ethnic tensions seem to be just as bad if not worse than before. A lot of people are unhappy and frustrated, and are having problems in their personal lives and family lives.

In the U.S., conservatives started making a surge shortly after the current president took office. In 2010, the Tea Party movement generated a wave of anti-establishment Republican candidates that caused Republicans to win a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans started winning many governor races, and in 2014 they got a majority in the Senate. Now, this year, the anti-establishment movement is aiming for the White House in a big way.

The modern-day liberalism provoked the Republican Party to make a very sharp turn to the right, and this year, Republican voters are going along with this trend, as is obvious from the results of this year’s primaries. It appears many conservatives feel that moderate “Establishment” candidates are not strong enough to confront the dangers of modern liberalism.

Ultimately, I cannot confidently predict who will win the Republican nomination, or the presidency. But even if a Democrat wins the election this year, I believe that secular liberal dominance is in its last days and that we will see a powerful conservative become president in the near future. A key point is that, in recent decades, religious voters have generally aligned themselves with conservative politics. Thus, the reason I expect conservatism to take over the political scene is that I expect religion to regain its dominance in Western politics and society. I do not believe that modern-day liberalism is going to be at the center of any apocalyptic spiritual phenomena.

Why do I believe that? Well, we often hear people talk about having a “Biblical worldview.” A “Biblical worldview” is often presented as being on the right side of an ultimate battle between conservative Christianity and Secular Liberalism. However, I do not believe that a truly Biblical worldview puts believers in Christ on the frontlines of a battle with Secular Liberalism.

In the Bible, spiritual conflict does not take place between the people of God and Secularism. Instead, spiritual conflict takes place between the people of God and idolaters. In other words, the ultimate enemies of God are religious, not secular.

Think about the times in the Old Testament when Israel was being judged for their disobedience. What were they doing? Were they prohibiting prayer in schools? No; instead they were worshipping idols.

Think about the time when Jesus was on earth. Who did Jesus have conflict with? It was the religious people of the day. Furthermore, it was primarily the Pharisees, who were the most conservative type of Jews. Jesus said that it was Jewish religious leaders who were responsible for persecuting God’s prophets in past eras (Matt. 5:12).

Think about where the earliest persecution of Christians came from. It was from religious leaders (Acts 6-7).

And then there’s the Book of Revelation. Now, regardless of what you think Revelation is (literal prophecy, symbolic depiction of spiritual warfare, symbolic outline of history, etc.), the villains of Revelation are religious, not secular.

Revelation 2:14 [To the church of Pergumum]: I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the people of Israel, so that they would eat food sacrificed to idols and practice fornication. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

Revelation 2:20 [To the church of Thyatria]: I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice fornication and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Revelation 17:20 – The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.

In Revelation, there is also the subject of “the beast” (Ch. 13) which many believe is the same entity as the anti-Christ depicted in the epistle of 1st John. Now, again, regardless of what you think the anti-Christ is (a literal person, a spiritual power, etc.), there is a common misconception about the anti-Christ. People think the anti-Christ will be something or someone that vehemently opposes Christ. But the Greek term underlying the prefix “anti” does not imply overt opposition. Instead, it implies deception via imitation 4. In other words, the anti-Christ is not something or someone that says terrible things about Christ. Instead, the anti-Christ has an appearance that resembles Christ. The anti-Christ appears to have the virtues of Christ. Thus, some people who are looking for Christian values will think that the anti-Christ embodies those values.

Thus, I believe that all of the people who are looking for the anti-Christ in the present-day Hollywood, or the IMF, or the United Nations, or the Freemasonry, etc., are off track. I do not claim that these institutions are inherently good or bad. But you see, these organizations and their leaders do not have a stated mission of promoting Christian virtues. In contrast, I believe that the anti-Christ is found in Christian contexts.

When people read Revelation and see the spiritual warfare that takes place, it often sounds mystical, obscure, and bizarre. Thus, they start looking for the religious enemies depicted in Revelation through conspiracy theories, secret societies, etc., thinking that the ultimate enemies of God will be found in these shadowy places. But I think this is the wrong approach.

Signs of the mysterious religious evils can be found anywhere in which people are under religious bondage. Whether its pagans who worship idols and summon spirits, or Christians who go to bed every night worrying about their salvation but still feel obligated to go to the same church every Sunday and hear the sermons that put them under condemnation.

The spiritual warfare in Revelation between God’s people and religious enemies is the reason why I believe secular liberalism is going to lose its dominance, and conservative religion will surge in the Western World. This also implies a return to conservative politics in the West given the alliance of conservatism and religion. I hope that it will not take some sort of catastrophe in order to decisively turn the tide toward conservative. But I am concerned that it might.

Suppose that there were to be a terrorist attack, economic crisis, or natural disaster worse than anything we have seen in recent years. Religious people will come out and say that it happened because the country turned away from God, because people abandoned Biblical morals to serve their own desires. And then they will appeal to people’s fears and say that people must protect themselves in these dangerous times by living in complete obedience to God, and that if they sin without repenting, it is only a matter of time until God judges them too!

Now, here’s the thing. Some people can genuinely live by that principle, and their conscience assures them that they are truly living for God, in which case they are true, repentant believers. But there are other people, both church leaders and ordinary people, who are not repentant in every aspect of life, but they are not fully putting their trust in Christ’s finished work and God’s sovereignty for their salvation either. They are still trying to mix grace and works, and they think they are saved because they chose Christ by their own free will, and this creates self-righteousness on their end and condemnation for those who are not self-righteousness but are trying in vain to follow their teachings.

Before I close this article, there is an important point I should bring out. We need to distinguish “systems” of the world (whether religious or not) from the individual people working under those systems. Consider the Christian saying “to be in the world, but not of the world.” I extend this principle to the church world. Even if we believe that the institutionalized church systems are not inherently Godly, we should not have to shut ourselves away from them (and I personally think we shouldn’t). We can work with them in order to have a platform to present our Biblical message to a wide audience. I myself contribute writings to an internet-based Evangelical organization with a large readership.

For me, being “in the world but not of the world” mean that I am willing to work with any reputable organization that is willing to work with me. But being not “of this world” means that I will not change my message in order to conform to any organization. I may refrain from bringing up certain subjects if it isn’t necessary, but I nevertheless stay true to my own beliefs.

And there are many people in religious systems who are operating there in accord with God’s leading, without making themselves slaves to the system. They may hold some doctrines that I consider unbiblical, but I believe they know the true Gospel in their heart (and it comes out in their preaching), even if I believe their intellectual models have some problems.

Likewise, with regard to politics, I believe God works with certain politicians and voters found in both major parties, in spite of political systems that are not of God. The things I wrote earlier about spiritual forces scheming with political doctrines refers to systems, not individuals within those systems.

The reason many people are afraid to go against the teachings of prominent systems, religious or otherwise, is that they are afraid they will fall for cults. However, what makes cults dangerous is that, they fail to distinguish individuals from systems.  Cults make character assaults on everybody who is in mainstream systems. As long as you can differentiate individuals from systems, you are not at risk of cultism.

For many years, I had an uncomfortable feeling inside of me about the battle between Christian conservatives and secular liberals. Even though I heard many calls of action to join the conservative Christians’ side of the battle, I never really felt at ease. I am not writing this article to call upon Christians to change their activism. I encourage Christians to stay wherever they believe they should be. However, I think that the discomfort I felt with the cultural and spiritual war of our time is something other Christians have felt as well, but did not know how to articulate Biblically. I hope that this article will help such people gain some new insights into what they are experiencing in their own lives and what they are seeing out in the world.


Links to External Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism
  2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/05/7-facts-about-atheists/
  3. http://www.kingdombiblestudies.org/Revelation/rev39.htm
  4. http://www.concordant.org/expohtml/TheMysteryOfBabylon/TheMysteryOfBabylon013.htm

Coming soon . . .

Hi everyone,

Within the next week I intend to upload a detailed article discussing the U.S. political situation from a Biblical perspective. The article will address matters such as:

Why I believe many prophetic preachers are wrong about Obama.

What roles secular liberalism and religious conservatism are playing in world history.

Why this year’s election is confounding political analysts.

Why this generation may be living at the climax of a process that began way back in the Renaissance era.

What lies ahead for religion and politics in the Western World.

I think this will be a thought provoking article that will provide some intriguing ideas regardless of where your stance is on politics of prophecy.






My Views on End-Times Matters

I have decided not to do a long exposition on this subject because, for each of my key points, there are a lot of resources available online by famous authors. In this post, I just want to share what I consider to be the most reasonable interpretation of end-times prophecies based on my reading of the Bible and commentaries from various Christian eschatologies. I have combined what I feel are the best parts of different end-times doctrines. If you would like to discuss any of these points in greater detail, feel free to post a comment.

• I think that most prophecies of the Tribulation (including the war, destruction of the temple, and antichrist), were fulfilled during a war between the Jews and the Romans during 63-70 A.D. The antichrist was most likely the Roman General Titus who led the attack on Jerusalem (Daniel 7:24-25 & 9:24-27, Matthew 24, Luke 21). In a general sense, the Tribulation and spirit of the antichrist have continued up to the present day (1 John 4:3, Luke 21:24). See my notes at the end about the Tribulation.

• We are currently living in an era known as the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24, Romans 11:25-56). This era was not known to the Old Testament prophets, which is why many Biblical prophesies skip over it.

• The present age will conclude with a literal rapture in which all believers are caught up to the celestial realms (1 Thess. 4:13-18). There is no world event to signal that the rapture is near; it will happen at a seemingly ordinary, peaceful time (1 Thess. 5:1-3, Matthew 24:36-41).

• After the Rapture, there will be a brief period of catastrophic events on the Earth (possibly lasting only a few days or weeks – “as in the days of Noah”) (1 Thess. 5:3, Matthew. 24:36-41).

• After this brief crisis phase, Jesus will return to earth to establish a new Kingdom in the world, centered in Israel. Nations will be judged to determine their circumstances at the start of this new era (Matthew 25).

The majority view in Christianity is that the Tribulation is a future period of time, and that the events of the Tribulation are described in the Book of Revelation. This view is expressed in the writing of Futurist commentators such as Hal Lindsey, Tim Lahaye, and Robert Gundry. My reasons for thinking the Tribulation took place in the first century are too complicated to explain in this brief post, but if you’re interested let me know and I’ll write in more detail about it. My reasoning on the Tribulation mostly follows the Preterist rationale although I do not agree with Preterists’ allegorical view of Christ’s Second Coming.

Also, regarding the Book of Revelation, I do not agree with the Preterists that Revelation is prophesying about first-century events in particular. I feel that Revelation has many indications of symbolic literature (though still of Divine revelation). Revelation also came from an ancient culture which had its own symbolic meanings for imagery and numbers. I tend to think that Revelation is a depiction of the spiritual warfare taking place in this age, using symbolic imagery that first-century readers would have understood.

Christians who believe in the Divine inspiration of the Bible often have the motto “literal if possible” to describe their approach to Scripture. I believe in this approach if a book establishes itself as a historical or practical work. For instance, the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts are historical commentaries on the life of Jesus and the apostolic ministry to show the world why Jesus is the Messiah. The epistles are a combination of expository theological writing and practical writing to deal with everyday issues in the Church. Obviously, these writings are meant to be taken literally as much as possible. However, Revelation, right from the start, establishes itself as a very different kind of writing, and I’m not sure that “literal if possible” still applies.

Having said that, I do not advise approaching Revelation with an imaginative mentality as if it’s a fairy tale. If there is a symbolic meaning, it would have to be spiritually revealed to a person. For an example of what a serious, spiritual meaning might look like, you can read J Preston Eby’s “Revelation Series” at http://www.kingdombiblestudies.org.

Lastly, I should emphasize that I do not rule out the possibility of anything happening in the future, including the events of Revelation literally playing out. If the Futurist commentators are right about world events, that doesn’t disprove anything in this article. The difference for me is that I don’t live in expectation of those events, and if they happen, that may or may not mean that the Bible prophesied them.

So, that’s my overview on Bible prophesy. Like I said earlier, if there is anything you would like to discuss in more detail, let me know and I’ll either give some more writing of my own or give links to other material.