STUDY OF BIBLICAL ‘END TIMES’
Some guidelines to help Christian/Messianic Believers to think through these topics for themselves.
[For those who would prefer a more in depth theological understanding,
we recommend you look at www.geocities/~thelastrumpet
You could also check out our article –
‘Explanations & Words of the Second Coming’.]
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS ON STUDYING. -
‘RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF GOD’
This is a phrase actually used when Paul is advising Timothy (2 Tim 2: 15) how to be a good Pastor. These days, it is rather disheartening to know of so many points of view on this precious subject of ‘eschatology’. No wonder it is often avoided but as we have said, God must have meant us to have some understanding of it, as He has put so much about the future in His Word, the Bible.
Some people say, ‘It doesn’t matter, we’ll know soon enough’.
Others treat it as if ‘ignorance is bliss, and what we don’t know we will not worry about’. Some people are so sure of their position; they resent anyone questioning it. Others, like us feel there are aspects we need to know and pray about, like Daniel in his book says, “I, Daniel understood from the Scriptures, according to the Word of the LORD given to Jeremiah, the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last 70 years. So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God.” We know God heard his prayer those 500 years B.C. and the Jews were returned to Jerusalem and the Temple was rebuilt, ready for the first coming of Messiah Jesus. So, right here we would say to you, that we are not dogmatic about our understanding of this subject, but simply offer our thoughts for you to also pray and decide about.
Some suggestions for study
If you have a Bible, it is good to sit at a table with a piece of paper beside you, to write what you believe God is showing you and think how you would explain a Scripture to another person. The N.I.V. study Bible is enormously helpful with actual dates, maps, charts, and a concordance, all in one volume. [Look at clarifyingchristianity.com]
Try to be in a place with a good light and be quiet and imagine the LORD Himself beside you, shining His light on His Word as you pray for His help. He is longing for you to see HIM in it, because He IS ‘The Word of God’.
It can be very helpful to use a colour marking system, -not with ‘felt-tip pens’ – but neatly, with a soft crayon or ballpoint pen and a ruler. This can also be a great help to find passages of Scripture when you want to go back to a subject. (Don’t buy a Bible already colour marked, as it is good to think it through for yourself.)
Work out your own system, but if it is a help, here are some suggestions:
Yellow/ gold - for the actual Coming of Jesus.
Red - for verses about our salvation through Jesus’ death.
Green - for the signs of the restoration of the Jews to Israel.
Blue - for suffering – for Believers.
Purple - for the royal words of God Himself.
Remember the important basic factors in Bible Study.
1. All Scripture agrees with all other Scriptures, and often one part explains others.
2. God’s over-all unique nature never changes, neither does His principle Plan.
But God has developed His Plan through various periods of time, and will continue to do so.
This Plan can be described like this:
God made us for Fellowship with Himself to pour out His Love on us.
But sin came in between us, and so that special Fellowship was broken.
God made it possible for that Fellowship to be restored through Jesus death.
Now we have Fellowship through prayer & the Holy Spirit’s Presence in us.
One Day we will have even better Fellowship in His Presence at His Coming again!
No one can separate the Sovereignty of God from the free will of
This is well said in the saying,
God we cannot- (do anything).
But without us, God will not.”
other words, God gave us an immense privilege, when He gave us a free
will, and the intellect to choose what is good, and love
to guide our choices. This is why the highest command is, “To
love the LORD your God with all your heart and soul and strength, and
your neighbour as yourself.
UNDERSTANDING THE TIME FACTORS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
1. Events are rarely given in chronological sequence.
Because God knows our bias toward pride, He scattered the prophetic plans for Jesus First Coming, right through the Tanakh/O.T.
Then He did the same for the Second Coming, in the New Testament!
How the Old Testament Believers puzzled over the concept of a coming Messiah!
It would be so good to take time to consider what they really expected. Hebrews chapter 11 gives us some clues. Reading the story of the ‘pre-Christian’ gathering of devout Jews in places like Qumran – and with the ‘Essenes’, we know there was a lot of debate. Would the Messiah be a priest of the line of Aaron, or a king descended from Judah, in David’s line, or perhaps, they thought- there might be two Messiahs? How could one fulfill the prophecies of being a suffering Messiah, and yet a great victorious King?
2. They failed to see the ‘time factor’.
This is a key to understanding End Times and the Coming of Jesus to Earth to reign. Sometimes in Scripture there are many years between one chapter of Scripture and another, or even between one part of a verse, and the rest of the verse. In some cases there were hundreds of years between!
Here are some examples, (out of very many!)
Not yet truly fulfilled.
Micah 5: 2
Matthew 2: 1
“But you Bethlehem Ephrathah though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me.
One who will be Ruler of Israel.”
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, Shout! Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you Righteous and having salvation. Gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey.
I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken”
of looking carefully at the time factor must not be
forgotten even in the New Testament. In some cases, of course we
cannot know how close one even is to another, until they happen. Some
people describe this like the prophets looking at mountain ranges in
the distance. They could not know if there was a ‘time valley’
between some events. Even the time between the first and Second
Coming of the Messiah has reached 2000 years. So when we look at a
book like Zechariah, especially, we need to be very careful. Many of
the events he talked about so long before, did actually happen
in the life of Yeshua/Jesus, and will never happen again.
[We will leave you to mark then in red in your Bible, perhaps.]
Other examples from the book of Zechariah.
But other events happened after the time of Yeshua such as the cruel persecution by the Romans around the 1st century A.D. Often it is unlikely that they will ever be repeated, (though some modern teachers are teaching this.) We refer to Zechariah 13: “ ‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is close to Me! ‘ Declares the LORD Almighty. ‘Strike the Shepherd…’ ” This refers to Yeshua/ Jesus. But it continues about the Jews, both Believers and non-Believers.
So this part happened in AD 66 – 138.“ ‘The sheep will be scattered, and I will turn My hand against the little ones. In the whole Land,’ declares the LORD, ‘two thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one third will be left in it. This third, I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.” For 2000 years.
But One day soon, we believe, “ ‘They will call on My Name and I will answer them: I will say, ‘They are My people’, and they will say ‘The LORD is our God.’ “
Some prophecies can have a literal and a spiritual fulfilment.
Do you think this could be one? Isaiah 9: 6 –7. “For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given, (we take this to mean Messiah Jesus). But it continues, “…and He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Price of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his Kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.’ “ So He reigns in the hearts of many Believers, but the literal fulfilment is yet to come – starting from the Millennial Reign on Earth.
Some prophecies can have more than one fulfilment.
Even within the covers of the Bible, under the ministry of the Holy spirit, God allows the writers or speakers to take a Scripture and apply it one way, leaving the possibility that God could bring other facets of truth out of the same verses, or let it happen in a more complete way at another time. Peter, for instance on the Day of Pentecost/ Shavuot was moved to describe what happened as being an indication of ‘the last days’ – yet we know the prophecy of Joel chapter 2 says ‘those days’, but it was a time understood to mean ‘the last days’.
Clearly, we know that it was
a) not in the very last time, as the whole prophecy has yet to be fulfiled, and this is nearly 2000 years later. but
b) in so far as the ‘Day of Grace’ began with the New Testament events which so far have been God’s last Word to mankind, in the Good News of Salvation, Peter rightly saw it at that time as ‘the last days.
(See Acts 2:17, & compare with Hebrews 1: 1.)
AN ESPECIALLY GOOD WAY TO THINK OF THE VISIONS IS LIKE ‘VIDEOS’.
Pictured events & symbolic creatures.
In these modern days of films and videos and Television pictures, we are very used to all kinds of amazing creatures being portrayed to tell a story or even to advertise something. Also ‘logos’ or symbols can give a lot of meaning in one small picture. Yet when people come to the Bible, very often, some animal or special group of events, (like the 4 horsemen of Revelation chapter 6) are looked at in a confused way. These are only meant to symbolise the effects of the end time wars and disasters that are allowed by God as signs of these times, but some people try to put a name on them.
The visions of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and John in Revelation use many ‘pictures’!
Over-lapping pictures, and events.
In many cases no human being could really take in all the events God was showing about the future. So some could be happening at the same time, but John was looking at
a) what was happening in Heaven, Revelation 5, 7, 10 & 15. or
b) disasters on Earth, chapters 6 – 9 & 13 –18. or
c) the effects on God’s People, 12 & 19…and so on.
Sometimes we might see a film about the whole of the ‘Second World War’ and another time, just part of it, say, what happened to the Jews & Gypsies. So it should not be too difficult for us in our times to have a better understanding of God’s Prophetic Word.
great blessing of all of this is, that it is ONLY OUR GOD, the God of
and the Father of our LORD Yeshua/ Jesus Messiah,
who can so accurately tell us of His Future Plans!
We should humbly worship Him, for this.
DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR US?
It is a great privilege to have the whole Word of God.
If we are English speakers we are even more privileged to have a number of carefully translated versions saying exactly the same thing, sometimes in a slightly different way. We praise God that the Bible has or is being translated into many other languages. But if we own a Bible, we hold a treasure in our hands!
great responsibility is to read it carefully,
Ask God’s Holy Spirit to teach us through it,
Use our minds dedicated to understanding it,
& Pray that we will be more holy, humble
and consecrated Followers of the TRUTH.