The study of end times/the LAST DAYS. I am thrilled to write the journal for the 1st session of the much awaited session of Eschatology.
Greek word ‘Escatos’ -Last days/end age begins with Jesus. Bro Jeremiah started the session from the book of Hebrew 1:1 & 2, Acts 2:14-17 and 1 Peter 1: 19-21.
Hebrew 1:1,2 : In the last days God has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ, so we are living in last days.
Acts 2:14-17 : What was spoken (though Prophet Joel in OT period) to be happen in last days is happening NOW-today in our midst (in last days)
1 Peter 1:19-21 : The last days began with time of Jesus.
Timeline from Genesis to Jesus
Gen 1: Creator God/ God created
Gen 3: The Fall – then began the process of reconciliation
Gen 12: God calling out Abraham/ through him came Isaac, Jacob and Israel as Nation. And God interacted with Israel to redeem whole world.
Judges, Kings, prophets – Good and bad leaders
From Tribe of Israel/Judah came Jesus. And so God’s promise with Abraham/God’s intention to reconcile the world came into fulfillment with Jesus’ life and death on the cross. Through resurrection God’s plan came to fulfillment. Israel was to be blessing to all nations, so through Jesus Christ all the nations (tribes and people) were to come in and become the members of His kingdom.
N.T. – Christ worked to fulfill this plan/god’s intended purpose to bring human being back to garden/to reorder creation story.
How God’s plan through Jesus unfolds and understood by 3 schools:
How 1000 years of reign is understood by different schools.
- Pre Millennialism: This school believes that second coming of Christ will occur before 1000 years of reign. Within this there are two strands,
- Historic Pre Millennialism (HP)
- Dispensational Pre Millennialism (DP)
- Post Millennialism: This school believes that second coming of Christ will be after the millennium (1000 years of reign).
- A millennialism: This school believes in the figurative millennium. ‘a’ means absence of- There is no millennium. There is no literal 1000 years but it is just a long period of time. All a-millenialists are post-millenialists.
All the schools commonly believes in these things:
I) The 2nd coming will be in future. Jesus Christ will come back to earth physically. Rev 22:20 says that Jesus said that ‘I am coming soon’ as it is mentioned in Rev 1:1 that it is the ‘Revelation of Jesus Christ’. Verses Acts 1:11 and 1 Cor. 16:22 also affirms about Jesus’ coming.
II) The Creed
All three schools believes what is mentioned in the ‘Apostles’ creed’ and the ‘Nicaea’s creed‘ that Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead.
How different schools read/understand the Book of Revelation:
1. Pretorist School: this schools says that what is written in the book is largely have been fulfilled in the 1st century itself.
2. Historist School: This school says what Revelation says is unfolding in our history.
3. Futurist School: This school says that what Revelation says is largely unfulfilled yet.
4. Idealist School: This school says that what is written in Revelation is a timeless truth. Scripture is teaching us about the fight between good and evil and it keeps on repeating. These timeless lessons every generations can apply.
We land up in different school depending upon how one reads the book of Revelation.
Stylistic nature of Revelation
A short demonstration of some of the scenes from the book of Revelation was performed by few selected participants to get the better understanding of the stylistic nature of the book.
Scene 1 from Rev 4:8-9, the hymn “holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty…”
Scene 2 from Rev 6: The human world being judged…people being slaughtered…3/4th of the population being judged…
Scene 3 from Rev 7: Crying out with the loud voice “Salvation belong to our God…”
Scene 4 from Rev 11: 2 witnesses who will prophesies…
Scene 5 from Rev 15: Singing “Great and marvelous are your deeds…”
According to the book, these scenes are being shifted from heaven to earth and heaven again…but it is not sure that all the events happens in a sequential order. Different reading gives different understanding. Apart from the sequence what is evident and clear according to the book and the author is that ‘Tribulation is happening yet God is in power, He is sovereign, God’s plan is unfolding in human history and yet Jesus Christ is going to return, God will create the Garden here and we will be a part of it.’ Though other details are not clear we are to continue God’s work until He returns.
We read from Rev 1:1-3(Which is the context to the following verse), 20:1-15 and Daniel 9. After the reading the question ‘When is the event happening?’ was open to have our own answers based on Rev 20:1-15. Let’s assume that it was happening in the 1st century, when John was writing. Now let’s understand how different schools take this event.
1. Pre Millennialism: They think that the event in chapter 20 will happen in future, not sure when or where. At one point of time Christ will come and when he will come the Angels will bind Satan. He will be bound for 1000 years and Christ will reign literally with the believers (including the dead who were faithful to Christ will be brought back to life) and also those who are not killed/dead yet (as mentioned in chap 7). After 1000 years of reign Satan will be released there will be a battle once again in which Christ will destroy Satan and evil forever and ever. (The rough timeline of the events is given below in the diagram)
But the pre-millennialists have difference of opinion when they understand Rev 20 in the light of Daniel 9.
- Dispensational Pre Millennialism (DP): They say that rapture will occur before seven years of tribulation. Those who are faithful to Christ will be taken up to be with him in the air for 7 years. And after that Christ will come down to reign for 1000 years.
Thus, it is a challenge for DPs to explain their belief.
- Historic Pre Millennialism (HP): They say that the rapture occur at the time of second coming of Jesus. The church/those who are faithful to Christ will face seven years of tribulation. A-millennialist and post-millennialists also believes the same.
|Rapture: the word comes from 1 Thess 4:17 ‘caught up’. Not only the Christians but also the Greeks use this same term. It is understood as, when the king returns victorious after the battle to his city. Citizens comes out of the city to welcome/to receive the victorious emperor and go back to the city with him.|
To be taken away/caught up in the clouds is the wrong understanding/interpretation of the term Rapture. Rather it means to receive the victorious Lord and to reign with him.
There are many difference of opinions within these schools regarding the occurrence of event as well as to take them as literal or figurative.
The school which believes in the occurrence of second coming after tribulation are called Post-tribulationists. i.e. Historic Pre Millennialists. Whereas Dispensational Pre Millennialists are Pre-tribulationalists.
Daniel was in exile living then under the Persian king (as Babylonian Empire was won over by the Persian Empire). Prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that the Israel will be under captivity for 70 years. So Daniel was confessing for the sins of his people and Gabriel appears before him saying, “….I have come to tell it to you….70 weeks are decreed about your people…to finish the transgression…know therefore…build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one…there shall be 7 weeks. Then for 62 weeks it shall be built again…and after 62 weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off…”
The numbers of the weeks are to be understood as,
Total 70×7=490 years
The decree was issued to build and restore Jerusalem was 7×7 + 62×7 = 483 years. After these (483 years) the anointed one will come.
DPs believes that, till Christ it is 483 years. But Daniel chap 7 did not mention of the years after that till 7 years of tribulation so there is a gap. After 484th year for 3.5 years evil will try to establish its kingdom, he will deceive people and will try to establish a covenant with Israel. After these 3.5 years there will be an abomination which will cause desolation. The ethnic Israel will come to realization (because of the sacrilege in the temple) and will know their Lord. Temple will be rebuilt and they will come back as a nation. And so they will have a special place during Christ 1000 years of reign. Contrary to this HPs believes that the ethnic Israel will be saved but not all Israelites. Israel as a nation will not be restored.
DPs believes that the Israel will be saved as a nation. When Israel received freedom in 1948, it is seen as the fulfilment of God’s promise. As Israelites are specially chosen people, the people will come back to the land of Israel one day. Temple will be rebuilt.
HPs and DPs differs in their understanding of the rapture, occurrence of tribulation and about Israel and its people. Zionists are supporters of Israel as a nation. All the schools have their own challenges to reconcile with the ideas/concepts they believe in.
Session by Jeremiah