My question is if you only had time to go through a few choice texts on this issue, which one’s would you use to demonstrate God’s eschatological dealings with mankind?
I would begin with the Lord’s Olivet prophecy in Mt 24, particularly Mt 24:15. In my view, it is the single most important text on which to build a sound understanding of the order and nature of the last day’s events.
In only one place is the question is expressly asked, “What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Jesus’ answer is clear and forthright, but He presents His answer as incomplete until we have followed His personal instruction to go to Daniel for further understanding (“whoever reads, let him understand”).
There is a simple but profound strategy at work here, and it all begins with our care to honor the Lord’s command to read and understand Daniel, particularly Daniel’s reference to this most pivotal sign.
The Lord knew that when we go to Daniel to find and learn of this event, a much larger and more detailed context begins to unfold. Daniel provides the chronological framework into which all other prophecies of the end find their proper place and order. Not only are we enabled to identify more definitely the time and nature of the desolating sacrilege that begins the great tribulation, but by tracing the events that lead up to and follow from the abomination, we get a much fuller picture of the nature, the time, and purpose of Jacob’s trouble.
Since there’s so much error attacking this basic outline, you might want to point out the close similarity of language between Mt 24:21 and Dan 12:1 with Jer 30:7, which proves beyond reasonable dispute that “the time of Jacob’s trouble” is, in fact, synonymous with the great tribulation.
Indeed, Dan 12:1-2 is key to showing that the great tribulation of “those days” ends in nothing short of the resurrection of the righteous dead. This makes the evil and disarming lie of ‘preterism’ (the view that the prophecies of Mt 24 were completely fulfilled in the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem) impossible. The only alternative is to ‘spiritualize’ Daniel’s reference to the resurrection as already fulfilled in the past (which they do).
After the abomination has been identified in Dan 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11, it is a short step to show that the “Man of Sin” of Paul’s ‘little apocalypse’ (2Thes 2:1-8, esp. verse 4 [2Th 2:4]) is the same ‘self exalting’ prince / king described in Dan 11:36-37. Plainly, he is the one who places the abomination of desolation in Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.
With this as background, one can begin a more comprehensive study of the Day of the Lord in the Old Testament. By marking the events and phenomena that are always associated with ‘that day’, we are not limited to only those passages where the particular term (DOL) is used, but a whole eschatology of the covenant begins to unfold. This assumes, of course, that one has some knowledge of the promises and threats of judgment contained in the covenant, since the covenant and the promise of a new covenant (the ‘everlasting’ covenant of regeneration) is the backbone of all Hebraic eschatology. End time prophecy is essentially “the eschatology of the covenant.”
It should be noted that not only in the OT, but no less in the NT, the events of the day of the Lord all center on a last conflict over Jerusalem. Jesus (Mt 24:15-31), Paul (2Thes 2:1-8), and John (Rev 11, 16) all make this connection. The return of Jesus ends the final siege of Jerusalem. That’s big! That’s significant!
Of course, many will agree. But it behooves a servant witness people to be prepared to show why. What is the inextricable connection between the Jesus question and the Jerusalem question? It is one thing to show ‘how’ the age ends. It is one thing to show the events that end the age as the necessary fulfillment of prophecy. But is another thing to show the meaning.
We must show why the age ends the way it does. How is God’s ancient covenant contention with Israel related to the issues that are at stake in the gospel of Christ? What is the place and role of Israel in pressing these issues upon the nations and calling individuals to Christ? Why does it matter what one believes about how the age ends?
A prophetic church is called to give more than an outline of events that fulfill prophecy. Mere excitement about the nearness of the end counts very little unless we “understand” (Dan 11:33) and are prepared to show the purpose. That will be the difference in the coming “great falling away.” It is the difference now.
Yours in the Beloved, Reggie
This weekend I am going to be talking to a brother who has been listening to a lot of Art’s sermons via Sermon Index, and has gained an interest in our common eschatological view point. Knowing I’m one of a few people who hold this view on Sermon Index’s forums, he has asked if I would explain these things to him. I already have an idea of a couple basic texts I want to use to discuss the matter with this one brother. However, this is the first time I’ve ever sat down with somebody to try and show them these things systematically. My question is if you only had time to go through a few choice texts on this issue, which one’s would you use to demonstrate God’s eschatological dealings with mankind? I feel I have a sufficient grasp of this subject, but, would value whatever input you might be able to provide.