Interpreting the end times

See how easily distracted from Christmas I am! However this does tie in with eschatological matters raised yesterday...

Those who interpret the Apocalyptic scriptures of Daniel and Revelation generally fall into three camps: Preterists, Historicists and Futurists.

Preterists see most, if not all, of the prophecies of these books as having been fulfilled in 70AD with the fall of Jerusalem and the run up to these events.

Historicists see a daily unfolding of these prophecies throughout history up to the present age. They are the kind who have a verse for every major war, and scan today's paper to see what prophecy has been fulfilled today.

Futurists see the prophecies relating exclusively to the end times, and at the most extreme, like the writers of Left Behind, paint a bizarre and fanciful picture of the end times based on their literal interpretations of these prophecies. The rise of the Antichrist, the destruction (after a prior rebuilding) of the temple in Jerusalem, a Secret Rapture of all believers off the earth, etc.

However to understand biblical prophecy it is important to understand its nature, and interpret the difficult in the light of the clear. For example when God said to David, that he would never fail to have a son sit on the throne, and it would be he who would build an acceptable temple, was he referring to Solomon or Christ? When Isaiah prophesied that the virgin would be with Child, was he talking about a sign for his day, or the sign of Christ who was to come?

In both these cases it is fairly clear that both interpretations are correct, and we can see there is a "layered" nature to many prophecies. There is an immediate fulfilment in the natural, that also serves as a paradigm for an ultimate more spiritually significant fulfilment.

Such is also true concerning prophecies about the end times. The immediate fulfilment in the natural was the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, but in many cases these events also communicate spiritual implications about the end times. The last days and final judgement, as it were, on the Jewish nation communicates about the last days and final judgement on the world. As does the flood. As does the fall of Babylon. Real past events with prophetic echoes.

The fact the initial fulfilment has come does not lessen its significance, but nor does it mean that the ultimate fulfilment has to occur in the same way. Jesus did not literally have to sit on David's throne nor literally build a temple. And Jerusalem did not have to be swept away by a breaking open of the waters from below and above. Just so, because the events of AD70 have already happened we do not need another temple to be destroyed, nor another Titus to desecrate it.

This layered approach, applied to the end times, is most clearly seen in the words of Christ himself who had no problem speaking of his second coming in the same breath as the destruction of the Jerusalem temple (Luke 21:20-28).

If you would like to read more about what I have written on this subject, I have a detailed exposition on the whole book of Daniel that is free to download and distribute, here.


Mark H said...

First time I've come to the site for a while, rather than following by RSS. Love the new photo of the growing family.

love to you all

Mark :-)

Marcos said...

Thank you for the down load and post. Just one question my brother......What do I do with all of my left behind bed sheets and coffee mugs??



Chris HH said...

...you could always keep them for next Halloween ;-)