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Eschatology Part One: An Introduction

04 May

christs-returnEschatology: the study of “end-times”, or how the Bible says the end of the world will go.

I won’t label my beliefs concerning Eschatology. I’m sure some would label it one thing or another, but I despise labels. I especially despise the label theologians typically give my view of the end-times, because the label implies I disagree with the Scriptures, which is far from the truth.

First, I will tell you that the only thing I believe a Christian needs to understand and believe about the end-times is that Jesus Christ will return, that this return could be at any time, and that when He returns He will gather His children and judge the world. As for the rest, I will quote my Lord who said “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7) In other words Jesus told his disciples, “It’s none of your business when I come back.”

So we must study Eschatology in light of the fact that our Lord and Savior told us it was not for us to know the specific details. The whole mystery surrounding the end-times is there on purpose. God does not want us to know what is happening until it happens.

In John 13:19 Jesus said, “I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.” And this, ultimately, is the purpose of prophecy. It is not so we can see things coming and perhaps react differently, but so that when it comes, we will know that it was from the Lord. The Jews spent about 400 years trying to figure out how and when the Messiah would come, and nothing turned out the way they expected. Even the disciples of Jesus, who believed in Him, were still expecting the conqueror Messiah up until the Crucifixion. I believe most people today are as confused about the end-times prophecies as the Jews were about the Messianic ones 2,500 years ago.

So then, the prophecies about the end-times are not really for us, unless we are the generation that sees it come to pass. Of course, almost every generation of Christians throughout all of the last 2,000 years has believed it was that generation. People today see signs and try to match headlines with passages from Scripture, shouting that it proves we are near the end, but each generation has read the papers (or heard the town crier) and believed the same things. Jesus tells us this is foolish.

 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23  And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.
Luke 17:22-25

Jesus tells his disciples there will come a time when Christians will be desperate for the end to come, and will desire to see it, but will not see it. And people will come trying to delude you into believing it, but to resist them. He says that He will come as quickly and as unexpectedly as a lightning bolt.

My point in this introduction is that to argue or contend about issues of Eschatology is fruitless and sinful. Christ has basically told us that we cannot know when it is coming, that we can be led astray by trying to find out, and that the purpose of the prophecies are for those who are experiencing it, that they will believe and draw strength from it.

I hope, as we explore the prophecies of the Day of the Lord, you will keep an open mind and separate yourself from any preconceptions.

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2 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Eschatology

 

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2 responses to “Eschatology Part One: An Introduction

  1. John Gardner

    May 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    On the whole, I think you and I think pretty similarly about end times issues. I agree that the central thing that all Christians MUST agree on is that Jesus WILL return to judge and rule the earth, and that all other eschatological issues are secondary.

    However, I would contend that prophetic passages ARE for us, just not in the way that most sensationalist end-times junkies think they are. They are not intended to reveal the details of the time and manner of the Lord’s return, no matter how much certain Bible “scholars” might want them to. There is no magic “Bible Code” to help us know when Christ will come back, and there are no helicopters or nuclear weapons in Ezekiel.

    Prophetic passages in Scripture were written primarily to the biblical authors’ contemporaries, and we must learn to read and understand them in that context. Like the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s first advent, prophecies in both testaments about the Lord’s return have many things they can teach us now, even though they will not be understood to their fullest extent until after their ultimate fulfillment.

    Also, there are definitely at least SOME issues of eschatology about which we MUST argue and contend. The challenge is just to separate out which issues are worth taking a stand on, which is probably what’s going to be in the rest of your series. I look forward to reading it!

     
  2. jasoncohoon

    May 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    As always, thank you for your thoughts John.

    I totally agree with you that prophetic passages do serve a purpose in our lives. When I said they weren’t for us, what I meant was not in the way sensationalists use them. I believe that the prophecies of the End are as much for us as prophecies of the Messiah were for those living in the years before Christ. I enjoy your comment about “no helicopters or nuclear weapons in Ezekiel.” That is exactly what I am condemning in my post.

    Again I agree with your third paragraph.

    Your last I will provisionally agree with. There are SOME issues worth contending, such as those who claim Jesus has already returned but is invisible (yes there are some who believe this), and those who literally claim to BE Jesus, or that there is no real Judgement, or that those not in the Book are annihilated, or that everyone goes to Heaven, etc. It is when we come to issues of Pre-Trib, Post-Trib, Pre-Millennial, Amillennial, and so forth that I believe we need to admit that we are merely speculating and it is not a point worth contending. I will address this in more detail in my next article.

     

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