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Prophecies Still to Come


This chapter will attempt to integrate all remaining Biblical prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments. Too often we err in our interpretations because we’re unaware of the complete scope of things, whether they have to do with Bible prophecy, other Bible topics, or even secular history. So it’s worthwhile to gather all those details together and look for points of similarity as well as difference.

We should also be aware that prophecies aren’t always fulfilled or completed at a single point of time. For example, Daniel’s prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes hundreds of years before Jesus came (see the chapter on Daniel), yet Jesus predicted another future fulfillment. This same principle will apply as we study events yet to come. We know, for example, that the Age of Grace (the present age) has had many, but not all, of the characteristics Jesus described for the beginning of birthpangs. We don’t know whether these birthpangs concern the Age of Grace at all.

A study of the separateness of Israel and the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:32) is vital for understanding remaining Bible prophecy, so please see the chapter on that topic. The bulk of prophecy is focused on the people and land of Israel. But most of what concerns Christians is found in the Letters, with the remainder in the Revelation. So if, for example, we wanted to know whether Christians will suffer any or all of the final judgments, we would not look for this in the Old Testament or even the Gospels. Especially regarding the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel, it was all specified for the people of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple (Dan. 9:24). The first 69 Weeks were for them, and so will be the 70th.

The Age of Grace ends not by a specific date or sign, but by an unknown number. As we can see in Acts 15:16 and Rom. 11:25, God began to turn away from the Hebrew-exclusive era to that of the Gentiles after Jesus returned to heaven. This transitional period ended at the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the temple, as will be examined later. So anything to do with the nation of Israel was halted, though not abandoned, and will be resumed once the Age of Grace ends.

God seems to focus on one group of his people at a time. He focused on the people of Israel, then interrupted that to turn toward the Gentiles. So when he shifts his focus back toward Israel, he shifts it away from the Body of Christ. If this is accurate, then we should expect Christians to be taken to heaven before the battle of Ezekiel 38 at the latest. But if there is an overlap as between the beginning of the Age of Grace and the destruction of the temple (about forty years), then we may indeed see this battle, which is followed by a period of seven years with no clear connection to the Seventieth Week of Daniel. However, if prophecies about the return of Israel to the land can apply at least paritally to the present time (since 1948), then the period of overlap may be nearly over.

The Body of Christ will not experience the wrath of God (Col. 3:6, 1 Thes. 1:10, 1 Thes. 5:9, Rev. 3:10, Luke 21:36). Please note that the phrase the wrath of God can also refer to the general attitude of God toward his enemies in this life, or to the eternal state of such rebels. To determine whether it means the specific time of God’s judgments or the Day of the Lord, we must consider the context. But regardless of which meaning one may choose, it’s never directed at Christians.

In general, the Day of the Lord refers to any period of time characterized by the direct and obvious intervention of God. References are Is. 2:12, Is. 13:6,9, Ezk. 13:5, Ezk. 30:3, Joel 1:15, Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11, Joel 2:31, Joel 3:14, Amos 5:18 and 20, Obadiah 15, Zeph. 1:7 and 14, Zech. 14:1, Malachi 4:5, Acts 2:20, 2 Thess. 2:2, 2 Peter 3:10,, Rev. 6:16-17, 11:18, 14:10,19, 15:1 and 7, 16:1, 14, and 19, and Rev. 19:15. Some were fulfilled in the past, but since the past fulfillments weren’t always the same length of time, we cannot say with certainty that the future one(s) will be a certain length of time. Among the future ones, we can see that the beginning of this time is not as sharply defined as we would like.

The Age of Grace Ends

The apostle Paul gave a sequence of events that mark the end of the Age of Grace. He called it The Departure, that is, the snatch up or removal of the Restrainer (John 14:2-3, 1 Cor. 15:35-58, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, 2 Thes. 2:1-12):

  1. The Lord will descend from heaven
  2. The archangel will shout
  3. The (last) trumpet of God will sound (ref. also Ex. 19:16-19, Num. 10:2; contrast with Rev. 11:15)
  4. Dead Christians will be raised in immortal bodies
  5. Bodies of the living Christians will be instantly transformed to immortal
  6. All are snatched away into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air
  7. This is a message of comfort and hope (no mention of any disasters or world leaders)

Who are they who say peace and safety in 1 Thes. 5:3, after which there is sudden destruction? Whoever is not you in the Body of Christ. The way we aren’t caught by surprise is by always being watchful and ready (Phil. 3:20), rather than by somehow knowing the exact date and hour. Keep in mind that Jesus directed his comments toward the people of Israel, not the as-yet unrevealed Body of Christ (Rom. 11:25, Rom. 16:25, Eph. 3:6-9, Col. 1:26-27). So what he said about watching and being ready, as well as praying to escape (Luke 21:36), was for them and not us. But of course, Christians of all times are to be eager to see Jesus return, and to live so that we won’t be ashamed when he does; this is taught throughout the Letters.

The Transitional Battles

The geography and ethnic groups cited in these passages are identifiable and have the motivation expected of the era before the Tribulation. It’s highly unlikely that this would be the case afterwards.

We don’t know whether Christians will be on earth to witness these things, as they may well take place before the enforcement of the seven-year treaty that marks the beginning of the Tribulation. There was an overlap between the beginning of the Age of Grace at Pentecost and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, so it’s possible that Christians may see these battles. However, though the duration of the battles is unknown and their relationship to the seven-year treaty is also unknown, they would still be a sign to us that our Departure is very near.

So while this doesn’t technically violate the signlessness of our Departure, remember that even the apostle Paul believed it could happen without warning in his own day. Otherwise he would have included these events in his sequential list given to the Thessalonians. In fact, the second letter was written to counter a forgery that claimed the Day of the Lord had already arrived (2 Thes. 2:1-2). They would not have been fooled if they knew the battles listed above had to happen first, and Paul doesn’t make any mention of them there.

Jesus’ Public Statement About the End Times

When Jesus’ disciples remarked about the magnificence of the temple, he told them that it would be destroyed to the point where not one block rested on another (Dan. 9:26b, Mt. 24:2, Mk. 13:1-2, Lk. 21:5-6). This was said publicly, while they were still on the temple grounds (Mt. 24:1), and it was fulfilled by the Roman ruler Titus in 70 AD. Everything else was said privately at a later time. It’s possible that the prophecy about the people of Judea fleeing when they would see Jerusalem surrounded by encampments was at least partially fulfilled at this time, though it was largely only the Christians who escaped. And it should be noted that Titus didn’t set up any idol in the temple, nor go into it and declare himself God.

Jesus’ Private (Olivet) Discourse to Peter, James, John, and Andrew

Mt. 24:3a and Mk. 13:3 tell us that the Olivet Discourse was given privately to Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. They asked three questions (Mt. 24:3b, Mk. 13:4, Lk. 21:7), after which Jesus gave a lengthy response:

  1. When will these things happen?
  2. What is the sign of your arrival?
  3. What is the sign of the end of the age?

General Introduction (Mt. 24:33)

Jesus gave his disciples certain signs to look for as the arrival of the Kingdom of God drew near. Remember that these were signs for Israel and concern the prophecies for Israel, rather than for Christians. And it’s the arrival of the Kingdom of God that the disciples asked about, which is preceded by the Day of the Lord. That Day will begin suddenly and without warning, while people are going about their daily lives.

Beginning of Birthpangs / Seal Judgments (Mt. 24:8, Mk. 13:8d)

The Tribulation / Trumpet Judgments (Dan. 9:26c, Mt. 24:14b)

The Great Tribulation / Bowl Judgments (Mt. 24:21)

After the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29a, Mk. 13:24a)

The Millennium

After the Millennium

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