Eschatology is the study end times. The word ‘eschatology’ comes from Ancient Greek (éskhatos) ‘last’, and -logy, the study of) is about the expectations of the end of the present age, human history, or of the world itself. The end of the world or end times.
A NOTE before we start: (1). Your eschatological views may very well decide, or have already decided your core views (your understanding) of scriptures ((for example, if you don’t believe in a rapture you may believe only certain parts of the Bible are true or are relevant to you; Or, if you dismiss the 1,000 year reign of Christ or a literal White Throne judgement, you may dismiss the need to obey scriptures because you believe, contrary to scriptures, that there will be no judgment; or, if you don’t believe scriptures are factual or without error, you may decide most things by your feelings));
(Secondly). Your understanding of scriptures will define your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. ((For example, if you say you believe in Jesus but you don’t believe that what Jesus taught or that you don’t have to do all that He taught or that you can modify what you do in response to His commands to suit your comforts, likes or methods you do not have a personal saving relationship with God. Or, if you do not believe that Mary’s pregnancy was not ‘immaculate’ – that she was a virgin who conceived, you do not have a saving relationship with God.));
(Third). Your relationship with Jesus will drive your attitudes, actions and behaviors in life. ((On issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and your behavior toward others, etcetera?))
Why does it matter “when” the tribulation starts or “when” Christians are to be raptured into heavens?
It matters because being ready for His Return is proof of true Christianity and only a true believer in Christ (The Word) will be guaranteed to join Christ at the sound of His Great Trumpet call and escape the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
It matters because being ready requires believing and doing what He has instructed us to do in preparation for His return.
It matters because He has warned that “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
It matters because many Christians are sitting idly waiting for an event that has already begun and they are not DOING what He told them to do and therefore are in grave danger
It matters because some of our family, friends and neighbors are completely unaware or just don’t believe that Christ will return and God’s final judgments will sentence them to outer darkness.
It matters because, as Christians, our faith, our convictions and our behavior (how we live) are speaking louder than our words.
MILLENNIALISM – TRIBULATIONAL VIEWS – THE RAPTURE
There are certain words you will hear being tossed around when talking about eschatology, such as Millennialism, The Tribulation and The Rapture:
This term can be further subdivided by
Millennium means a “thousand years” and refers to Revelation 20:1 And then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding the key of the abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand. 2And he overpowered and laid hold of the dragon, that old serpent [of primeval times], who is the devil and Satan, and bound him [securely] for a thousand years (a millennium); Revelation 20:3. and the angel hurled him into the abyss, and closed it and sealed it above him [preventing his escape or rescue], so that he would no longer deceive and seduce the nations, until the thousand years were at an end. After these things he must be liberated for a short time.
(The Millennial Reign)
Revelation 20:4. And then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom judgment [that is, the authority to act as judges] was given. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had refused to worship the beast or his image, and had not accepted his mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:5. The rest of the dead [the non-believers] did not come to life again until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Revelation 20:6 . [b] Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) and holy is the person who takes part in the first resurrection; over these the second death [which is eternal separation from God, the lake of fire] has no power or authority, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and they will reign with Him a thousand years.
(The Final Rebellion)
Revelation 20:7. And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison (the abyss), Revelation 20:8. and will come out to deceive and mislead the [c] nations which are in the four corners of the earth–[including] Gog and Magog (Russia) Gomer (Eastern Europe), Togarmah (Turkey/Armenia), Put (Libya), Cush (Ethiopia), Persia (Iran) –to gather them together for the war; their number is like the sand of the seashore. Revelation 20:9. And they swarmed up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints (God’s people) and the beloved city [[d] Jerusalem]; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Revelation 20:10. And the devil who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and burning brimstone (sulfur), where the beast (Antichrist) and false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever.
The Tribulation is associated with the day of the Lord, that time during which God personally intervenes in history to accomplish His plan (see Isaiah 2:12; 13:6–9; Joel 1:15; 2:1–31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). It is referred to as “tribulation . . . in the latter days” (Deuteronomy 4:30, ESV); the Great Tribulation, which refers to the more intense period of the seven-year period (Daniel’s Seventieth Week) which begins with the breaking of the 6th tribulation seal (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 6:12); “a time of distress” (Daniel 12:1); and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7, NKJV). And we have this description of the tribulation that attends the day of the Lord:
“That day will be a day of wrath and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness— a day of trumpet and battle cry” (Zephaniah 1:15–16).
The tribulation will be marked by various divine judgments, celestial disturbances, natural disasters, and terrible plagues (see Revelation 6—16). In His mercy, God sets a limit on the duration of the tribulation. As Jesus said, “Those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive” (Mark 13:19–20).
The 4 dominant tribulation views are:
pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation),
mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and
post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation).
pre-wrath (the ‘days of distress’ (tribulation) began around the time of the birth of Christ – 5 seals have been broker – we are waiting for the 6th seal and the rapture occurs at the 6th Seal).
FURTHER SUBDIVISONS ARE:
Pretribulation Dispensationalists believe the tribulation is a future seven-year period when God will finish His discipline of Israel and finalize His judgment of the unbelieving world.
Pre-Wrath Pretribulation believes the tribulation is spoken of as “times of distress” or “tribulation” with a small “t”; the Great Tribulation (capital “T”) and the “Days of Wrath”.
The tribulation seals began as early as Christ’s birth and five seals have been broken. We are awaiting the breaking of the 6th Tribulation seal and the beginning of the GREAT Tribulation, a.k.a., The Days of Wrath, The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
The RAPTURE of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth before the tribulation period begins, in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth. This is spoken of, primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54.
(This is the dispensational premillennialism and a pretribulation rapture view, which is considered by many traditional modern fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals churches as a future event and that the beginning of a year seven tribulation period will occur with the breaking of the 7 tribulation seals. This has become their dominant view and teaching since John Darby introduced dispensational premillennialism and a pretribulation rapture around 1909.)
The rapture is associated with the tribulation period. The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. Some of the primary views are
Pre-wrath rapture (Sixth Seal Rapture).
Pre-tribulation rapture (Dispensationalism)
What is pre-tribulation Dispensationalism? It is a theological system of interpreting the Bible that was first espoused by John Nelson Darby. Dispensationalism maintains that history is divided into multiple ages or “dispensations” in which God acts with humanity in different ways. Dispensationalists generally maintain beliefs in premillennialism, a future restoration of Israel, and a rapture that will happen before the second coming, generally seen as happening before the tribulation.
What is Historic pre-millennial pre-tribulation rapture? Historic premillennialism is one of the two premillennial systems of Christian eschatology, with the other being dispensational premillennialism. It differs from dispensational premillennialism in that it only has one view of the rapture, and does not require a literal seven-year tribulation (though some adherents do believe in a seven-year tribulation). Historic premillennialists hold to a post-tribulational rapture, meaning the church is raised to meet Christ in the air after the trials experienced during the Great Tribulation. Historic premillennialism does not require that apocalyptic prophecies be interpreted literally.
The pre-wrath view states that there is a 7 year period which is NOT called the Tribulation, but is called Daniel’s 70th Week. Half way through it, or 3.5 years, the antichrist will set himself up with an image and demand to be worshipped as god. This starts the “Great Tribulation” and the satanic persecution of Christians and Jews. During this time there are cosmic disturbances, The Rapture and the pouring out of God’s Wrath, known as The Day of the Lord.
NOTE: Your eschatological views may very well decide your core views (understanding) of scriptures; and your understanding of scriptures will define your relationship with God through Jesus Christ; and your relationship with Jesus will drive your attitudes, actions and behaviors.
So, let’s start at the beginning and ask WHY in order to get to the end of these matters – because it is the WHY’s of eschatology that will drive our belief systems, our paradigms, our attitudes, our understanding, of the Bible, our living relationship with Jesus and our behaviors in response.
In the beginning, God created.
God began with the imperfect and created a Masterpiece – first in the heavens and then on the earth. His work completed in just seven days; He would allow His Masterpiece to mature for a millennium until it became His Perfection.
This is a journey of discovery and revelation of God’s Grand Plan and Design, from creation through the End of the Age, then into a New Heaven and a New Earth.
We can only know the reasons for WHAT God is doing in these Last Days, if we understand WHY He is doing thing this way. My prayer is that, after studying this, everything we may have wondered regarding the reasoning behind God’s Plan for the world and your life, will fall into place.
(Perhaps, one of the reasons there are some many differing views of the tribulation, the rapture and the millennium is that men and women, over the ages, have failed to ask WHY and have only asked WHEN and WHAT).
There are many answers, or conjectures, as to WHY God created all things. Here are 3 popular examples:
GotQuestions.Org says, “The short answer to the question “why did God create us?” is “for His pleasure.” Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Colossians 1:16 reiterates the point: “All things were created by him and for him.” Being created for God’s pleasure does not mean humanity was made to entertain God or provide Him with amusement. God is a creative Being, and it gives Him pleasure to create. God is a personal Being, and it gives Him pleasure to have other beings He can have a genuine relationship with.
Southern Evangelical Seminary says, The first pattern is that God creates things for His glory. The second pattern is that the things God creates show God’s glory and attributes.
John Piper (Desiring God) says, When the first chapter of the Bible says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27), what is the point? The point of an image is to image. Images are erected to display the original — to point to the original, glorify the original. God made humans in his image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God
The Blue Letter Bible says, 1. He Created It For Himself. One of the reasons that God created the universe was for His own self. Paul wrote, For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36). For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16).
Genesis 1, Verse 27. So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
It is helpful if not vital to understand the definition of each word used as it was written in the original Hebrew language, how it was worded and the arrangement of each sentence:
In His own image = tselem = an image; a mere, empty, image, semblance; image, vain show, from an unused root meaning to shade; a phantom, i.e., an illusion, a resemblance; hence, a representative figure, especially an idol, an image, a vain shew, of dubious character.
God did not create mankind ‘perfect’ as God is perfect. He created mankind in a resemblance of His image and likeness, but with a designed flaw – mankind was given a dubious character which was on full display, from the beginning, in the Garden of Eden.
Man and woman failed – sinned – from the beginning!
Still, God created mankind with the potential of becoming ‘perfect as God is perfect’ and in the image and likeness of Jesus, like God. Mankind is also made as a plurality, with a mind, soul (will and emotions) and spirit. This is why in Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “You, therefore, will be (esomai – future tense) perfect [telios – growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is (esti – present tense) perfect.”
All of these Bible referenced teachers are right of course – in part – but their remarks could be arranged as ‘sub-topical’ supporting evidence of God’s Supreme Reason and Plan:
The Purpose of God’s Eternal Plan is “Perfection”. He is maturing and perfecting His people into His image, ultimately to live in Perfect harmony with Him and with one another, in a New and Perfect heaven and earth.
“Because by a single offering He has made perfect for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:14
Each and every chapter, verse and word in the Bible, when viewed within this context of God’s Eternal Plan of Perfection, begins to make perfect sense.
IT ALL BEGAN – THE SCIENCE OF IT ALL
A strictly scientific study of the beginning of all things may reveal theories of WHAT, HOW and WHEN things might have begun, but science has never attempted to explain WHY. It is just not in the realm of scientific interest or possibility. But the scientific view has influenced and is influencing and invading the Biblical view of creationism.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
IT ALL BEGAN – THE SPIRIT OF IT ALL
The Bible has been telling the ‘WHAT’ and the ‘HOW’ all things began long before science began to catch up, but the Bible inform us from a Spiritual Perspective. It is from this paradigm that we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible; it is by the spoken Word of God that the heavens (the cosmos) and the earth, and all that exists, came into being – became visible.
Most importantly, we can learn God created ALL THINGS, and this perspective gives not only the beginning, but forecasts the journey, giving insights of HOW, WHEN and all things are going as they are going, but also gives us the HOW, WHEN and God allows, things such as suffering, disease, famines, earthquakes, pestilence trials, tribulations and death – all of which is the result of sin.
NONETHELESS, we must remember that “We know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.” (See Romans 8:28-29)
*****If you will endeavor to gain insight and understanding from this study, you can obtain the strength of endurance through the hope that God indeed has a design and a plan for your life. A plan for you like the one God promised His chosen people before their captivity into Babylon; ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).