Monthly Archives: February 2017

Introduction to Biblical Prophecy

Mat 24b

Beware. This site may be challenging to some Christians who have blindly accepted what you have been taught about Bible prophecy without checking it against God’s Word. Remember: We are instructed to search the Scriptures to find out whether the things we have been taught are so (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). But, if you are ready to search the Scriptures about Bible prophecy, you have come to the right place!

At this site you will find nearly 100 articles covering every aspect of Bible prophecy. Many of the articles are taken from my book: Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy: Is Your Church Teaching Error about the Last Days and Second Coming? An Exposition of Evangelical Preterism.

But you can read all of the articles at this site for free. See the “Index of Topics” at the upper right (from a desktop), or scroll down (from a mobile phone). Note that the articles are easier to view on a desktop or device larger than a phone. But especially on a phone, you can enlarge the print via the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the page. You can also rotate the article to horizontal to make it easier to read. ~ Charles Meek

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Bible Prophecy Introduction

Have you ever been concerned that the popular views about Bible prophecy do not match up to what the Bible actually says? Or have you noticed that people only see in Scripture what they have been programmed to see by “group think” within their particular sect—or by the random flow daily news events? That’s what I noticed 20 years ago when I began studying eschatology in earnest.

Eschatology—the study of prophetic “last things”— is an area in which there is remarkable disagreement among Christians. It is a complicated area for several reasons. One reason is that there are so many passages of Scripture on the topic that must be reconciled. Over one-fourth of the New Testament is about this, and includes such topics as: a new heaven and new earth, the Day of the Lord, a Great Tribulation, the “rapture,” the Second Coming of Jesus, and more.

Biblical eschatology appears to be undergoing a radical revision among scholars. R. C. Sproul, for example, perhaps the most influential modern theologian, has said that his views on eschatology had changed to a version of “preterism.” Preterism is the view that most if not all prophecy was fulfilled in the 1st century. Hank Hanegraaff (the popular Bible Answer Man) has adopted a similar view. On the other hand, Dallas Theological Seminary, a highly influential center of dispensational “end times” prophecy  popularized by TV preachers, appears to be modifying its views. Christians seem to be ready to take a fresh look at what the Bible actually teaches. The coming years are likely to witness an upheaval in the field of eschatology.

GET RID OF GLOOM AND DOOM ESCHATOLOGY.

THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT TO END!

In my book, CHRISTIAN HOPE through FULFILLED PROPHECY, I explain the different views of Bible prophecy: premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism,  historicism, idealism, and preterism (“pretemillennialism”). Surprisingly, the church has never had a serious and concluding discussion on eschatology. The continued failed predictions of the Second Coming and the end of the world have been embarrassingly wrong. Much clarity is needed.

Are you aware that there are over 100 passages in the New Testament that declared the radical nearness of the prophesied events? It is clear that Jesus and his disciples expected his return while some of them were still alive—in their own generation. They used words and phrases such as soon, near, about to happen, must shortly take place, at hand, and before some standing here taste death. (See Preterism 101 for a list of imminence passages.)

Here are just a few interesting passages, to which the question must be asked, “Were Jesus and the writers of the New Testament wrong?”:

  • There are 15 mentions of the “last days/end times” in the New Testament. Every mention of them, without exception, limits them to the first century. Examples include: Acts 2:14-20; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; 9:26 1 Peter 1:20. Indeed, in 1 Peter 4:7, Peter said that “the end of all things” was at hand for him and his contemporaries. In 1 John 2:18, John insisted that it was the “last hour.” So we cannot be living in the last days now in the 21st century. The only conclusion, being faithful to Scripture, is that the “last days” were the end of the old covenant world, not the end of the physical universe or the end of history.
  • In Matthew 10:23, Jesus told his disciples that He would return before they had finished going through all the towns of Israel.
  • In Matthew 16:27-28, Jesus told his disciples that He would return before some of them had died.
  • In Matthew 26:64, Jesus told Caiaphas, the scribes, and the elders that they would personally see Him returning in judgment.
  • In Luke 21:22 and 32, Jesus told his disciples that all prophecy would be fulfilled in THEIR generation. In Luke 21:36 Jesus further emphasized that the prophetic events He just listed were ABOUT TO HAPPEN. (See the New American Standard, New International Version, or Young’s Literal Translation for correct translation.)
  • In Revelation 1:1-3 and 22:6, 12, 20 Jesus said to the first-century Christians that the events of Revelation “must shortly take place” and further that his return was “soon.”

What’s at stake? Well, nothing short of the authority of Scripture and indeed the divinity of Christ. Perhaps the number one charge against Christians over the years is that Jesus promised his return in his own generation—that virtually all of the New Testament writers spoke of this as well—but they were wrong. So, they say, Jesus did not return as he predicted, making him a false prophet, and thus the Bible is unreliable. For example, prominent skeptics Bertrand Russell in his book Why I Am Not a Christian, and Albert Schweitzer in his book The Quest of the Historical Jesus, made this charge. Jewish and Muslim critics make this charge as well.  

Indeed, even the famous Christian apologist C. S. Lewis recognized the problem. In reference to various passages of Scripture, including the “Olivet Discourse” found in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Lewis said this:

“Say what you like, the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things are done.’ And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else. It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.”

Christians address these challenges by putting their head in the sand. Or they may try to escape the problem by changing the meaning of common words (examples: generation or soon). Instead of trying to understand how the original audience would have understood these things, they make the mistake of reading prophecy through the lens of modern news stories. This is called “eisegesis,” which means reading something into the text that is not there. Serious examination of our presuppositions is in order.

For myself, I can accept that my favorite theologian might be wrong, but I cannot accept that Jesus was wrong. In my book I explore the compelling biblical and historical evidence that Jesus (and his disciples) were right all along, proving the opponents of Christianity wrong, and confirming the incredible accuracy of Scripture! The answers provided by the Bible itself are clear and unambiguous for who would accept them. Problematic is that Christians are unschooled in Old Testament apocalyptic language about biblical prophecy.

What I and the several contributors to my book explore is the possibility that most, if not all biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled—the preterist viewThis is a minority view among Christians today. But author Francis X. Gumerlock in his books (The Early Church and the End of the World, and Revelation and the First Century) argues that forms of preterism were an important, if not the dominant, view in the early and medieval church. It is again gaining ground as Christians return to Scripture for answers.

The torrent of popular books and claims about biblical prophecy in recent decades, aside from taking up lots of shelf space in Christian book stores, seems to have a peculiar appeal to lay believers who, curiously enough, find hope in an expected destruction of the planet and its replacement with a utopia in which even carnivorous animals will take up vegetarianism. It is simply taken for granted that the Bible predicts and explains an end of time, and that there is no number of elapsed centuries spent waiting for it that cannot be called the “end times.”

Speculative notions about the end of the world should be critically examined. My book should be of interest to any Christian who takes the Bible seriously, but is not confused, confounded, and frustrated with the near comical, but the sad state of affairs that afflicts modern Christianity on the question of the supposed end of all things.

The preterist view holds that prophetic events were fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and along with them the end of the Old Covenant system of sacrifices for sin. Every objection to the preterist view is examined in detail in the book.

There is always much resistance to a challenge to widely held beliefs. We often have very ingrained presuppositions and we have much at stake if most of our neighbors hold to a common (but perhaps incorrect) view of something. There is the problem of what psychiatrists call “cognitive dissonance,” which is “a mental conflict that occurs when . . . confronted with challenging new information, most people seek to preserve their current understanding of the world by rejecting, explaining away, or avoiding the new information.”

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Fear not to be challenged and changed. Scroll back up to the upper right corner for a list of topics, or just scroll down from here. Also, check out my Facebook site Evangelical Preterism. And see the summary and reviews of the the book at Amazon:

 

CHRISTIAN HOPE by Charles Meek

 

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                                                                   —Charles S. Meek