The “Non-Prophet” on: The Signs of the Times

signsv2


Matthew 24

3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”

4 Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7 Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8 But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:33 — “So likewise, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”

Luke 21:28 — “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!


“What a time to take the news of the day in one hand and the Bible in the other and watch the unfolding of the great drama of the ages come together. This is an exciting and thrilling time to be alive…It is not just Christians that sense something is about to happen. The world knows that things cannot go on as they are. History has reached an impasse. This world is on a collision course. Something is about to give. With increasing frequency, commentators from secular media speak of Armageddon.”

— Billy Graham, The Reason for My Hope, 2013


FOR FURTHER STUDY

Luke 21Daniel 12:4Matthew 24:37  • 1 Timothy 4:12 Timothy 3:1-5Romans 1Ezekiel 38-39 (Russian-Iranian-Led alliance in last days) • 1 Thessalonians 5:32 Timothy 4:3-4Revelation 13:17 (cashless society/mark technology) • 2 Peter 3:3 (scoffers)

5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation: KEY# 4

5keystoRev_K4

KEY#4: REVELATION IS WRITTEN CHRONOLOGICALLY

In previous posts we’ve looked at the first three keys. (1.) (2.) (3.) — and today we’ll look at the fourth key. Many Christians don’t realize that Revelation is written chronologically (with a few parenthetical sections that provide further detail). This was eye opening to me the first time I realized it.

There are four main ways people have viewed Revelation over the centuries. Idealist, Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist.

The Idealist View allegorizes Revelation but we’ve shown the main problems with that method — primarily that man can allegorize Revelation to mean just about anything their imaginations come up with. Also, if you can allegorize one section of scripture, what’s to say you can’t allegorize the entire Bible? Where does it stop? The Idealist view causes scripture to lose it’s meaning.

The Preterist View claims that everything in Revelation has already happened in the past (namely in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem) but there are major problems with this view as well. The main problem being that John wrote the book of Revelation around 95 AD while exiled on the Island of Patmos; about 15 years after the fall of Jerusalem. This view also allegorizes various things found in Revelation and we run into the same problem as the Idealist View mentioned above. A final major problem with this view is that Revelation clearly details a complete and decisive defeat of Satan at Christ’s return, a great “White Throne” judgement of evil-doers and several other major events which clearly have not occurred yet.

The Historicist View sees Revelation as a symbolic representation of the entire course of History from John’s time to the end of history. This view was popular during the Reformation era but has many problems and has led to as many as 50 versions of this view. It simply does not work.

Finally, the Futurist View teaches that the events in Revelation will occur in the future. Revelation claims to be prophecy. Prophecy is by nature, future. As mentioned in Key#2, this view interprets Revelation literally — just as we do with the rest of scripture. Where symbols are used we find the answers in the immediate or broader context of scripture, not from our own ideas.

It’s important to note that very smart Bible-believing Christians may hold different views and that this is an “in-house” debate. Salvation does not depend on one’s view of Revelation. Truth does matter, however, and beliefs lead to choices which effect the world around us.

After countless hours of careful study and after reading over 50 books on the topic by the most highly respected prophecy experts of the past few generations (Walvoord, Pentecost, Morris, LeHaye, Ice, Rhodes, Reagan, Missler…to name a few) I am convinced that the Futurist view is without doubt the correct and most thoroughly Biblical view.

All of that said, we find in the Book of Revelation some key “in text” reasons confirming the book is written chronologically. Our first clue is found in chapter 1 where Jesus himself  provides the simplest outline ever given for the book of Revelation. In verse 19 the glorified Lord said to John, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

So, we have…

I. THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN – Glorified Christ in Heaven (Ch. 1 vs. 12-18)

II. THINGS WHICH ARE – having to do with the 7 churches (Ch. 2-3)

III. THINGS THAT TAKE PLACE AFTER – Future/Tribulation/Kingdom/Eternity (Ch. 4-22)

There’s your outline for the book of Revelation.

There are also specific phrases throughout Revelation demonstrating that it is written in chronological order. Phrases like “after this”, “when he had opened the seventh seal”, “the seven last plagues”, and “after these things”. These are time-oriented sequential phrases and there is a natural progression and build up of events throughout the book. Even the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgements are each numbered in order from one through seven.

The only sections that are not in clear chronological order are Chapters 10-14, but they are clearly parenthetical chapters providing more detail on other portions of the book of Revelation. It’s almost like an intermission in the middle of the book. After the seal and trumpet judgements, John pauses to provide more detail and to let you catch your breath. Then he picks back up in chapter 15 with the bowl judgements.

When you compare Revelation with Daniel as we mentioned in Key #1, the chronology of both books is the same and they fit together like an interlocking puzzle. Each book stands on it’s own but sheds further light on the other.

I hope this key helps you in your study of Revelation!

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY

Here are a few GREAT books to get if you would like to dig deeper.

The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Prophetic Book of the End of Times (Morris)

40 Days Through Revelation: Uncovering the Mystery of the End Times (Rhodes)

Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy (LaHaye/Ice)

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (Walvoord)

The End Times in Chronological Order (Rhodes)

Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation (LaHaye/Hindson)

5 Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation: KEY# 3

5keystoRev_K3

KEY#3: THE SYMBOLS ARE EASIER TO UNDERSTAND THAN YOU THINK

In the last post we looked at the importance of using a literal interpretation when studying the book of Revelation. We highlighted the important adage, “If the plain sense makes sense, then seek no other sense, or you will end up in nonsense.” The logical question then is, “What if the plain sense doesn’t make sense?”

Sometimes we find clear figures of speech in scripture. It’s obvious they should not be interpreted literally. For example, Jesus frequently used hyperbole in his parables as he talked about things like; camels fitting through the eye of a needle, or pointing out a spec of dirt in someone’s eye while we have a plank in our own eye, etc.

Other confusing passages can be better understood simply by studying the larger context. What do the surrounding verses and chapters say? What is the historical context? How can the context of the entire Bible shed light on a specific passage? And still other passages can be better understood by looking for earlier uses of the word or symbol. This is known as “interpreting scripture with scripture” and it this method helps us understand the symbolism found in some of the prophetic passages of the Bible. Such is the case with most of the symbolism in Revelation.

All of the symbols in Revelation first appear somewhere else in scripture, OR the meaning of the symbol is given in the immediate context. This is very important. We look for earlier precedents of a word or symbol and allow them to inform our understanding of symbols found in Revelation. People get into trouble when they bring their own ideas into what the symbols mean. We need to let scripture, logic, and the Holy Spirit be our guide.

One caveat. Notice I didn’t title this post, “The Symbols Are EASY to Understand”. They are not easy to understand, they are just EASIER to understand than most people think. It takes some time, effort, and prayer to understand the symbols Biblically. Helpful commentaries by trusted experts — who believe God’s word is inerrant and who interpret it literally — are greatly helpful as well. Their commentaries help connect the dots to the symbol’s Biblical origin.

There are seven basic categories of symbols that show up in Revelation; animals, colors, objects of nature, man made objects, people and numbers. We read about symbols such as the seven lamp stands, the beast rising out of the sea, a beast with seven heads and ten horns, a woman riding a beast, the seven seals, the seven scrolls, the seven bowls, the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” (no, not the 1980’s professional wrestling version), and the lamb seen in heaven’s throne room? Those are just a few examples.

We’ll unpack some of the symbolism found in Revelation in future posts, but the main purpose of this post is to help those who have been intimidated or confused by the symbolism in Revelation. You can have confidence that the symbols have clear meaning. It is well worth the effort to uncover their meaning. They just take some study and prayer to understand. Once a symbol is understood it brings fresh meaning to the text and practical insight into how these symbols effect us today!

Up next is KEY#4: REVELATION IS WRITTEN CHRONOLOGICALLY

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER STUDY

Here are a few GREAT books to get if you would like to dig deeper.

40 Days Through Revelation: Uncovering the Mystery of the End Times (Rhodes)

Charting the End Times: A Visual Guide to Understanding Bible Prophecy (LaHaye/Ice)

Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times (Walvoord)

The End Times in Chronological Order, Rhodes

Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, LaHaye/Hindson