Bible Prophecy Intro

Bible Prophecy Intro (“Cliff Notes” Version)

SUMMARY: A common view of Bible prophecy is that Jesus will return bodily at the end of time to punish the reprobate and save the faithful (again). This is usually accepted without question. However, because false predictions about the Second Coming and end of the world are so prevalent, many Christians are increasingly willing to seriously re-examine whether this tradition is truly biblical.

Old Testament prophecy of Jesus’ First Advent (Isaiah 53, etc.), was, of course, fulfilled by a bodily appearance. But, “Second Coming/End Times” prophecy may actually be ALL (or at least mostly) about the changing of the covenants—culminating with Jesus’ divine (but non-bodily) COMING IN JUDGMENT against Old Covenant Israel in AD 70. This is the so-called preterist view.

Let’s walk through how this could be so. To grasp this, take yourself out of your modern setting and see yourself as part of the original first-century audience of the New Testament. Remember that the Bible was written FOR us but not TO us. This will be a short intro and you should look up the passages I cite to see how they fit together, and do your own research into this question (“test all things,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

  1. The foundation of Bible prophecy is Deuteronomy 27-32. Here we see a discussion about God’s covenant with Israel (29:1), which could be sustained only IF the Israelites were obedient. The passage intimates that at some time in the future—in the “latter days” (32:20, 29)—Israel would break their side of the covenant (31:16) and be destroyed (28:20, 24, 33, 45, 48, 61, 64; 32:23, 26).
  2. Deuteronomy 27-32 was known to the subsequent Old Testament writers (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Malachi, etc.) and is certainly what they had in mind when making their own prophetic utterances. All these subsequent prophets merely elaborated on the passage in Deuteronomy, pointing more specifically to AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple—when the ancient custom of temple sacrifices for sin ended forever. For example, Daniel 12 prophesied that the “time of the end” (Daniel 12:6) would happen when the “power of the holy people comes to an end” (Daniel 12:7) and when “the regular burnt offering is taken away” (Daniel 12:11)—which would be the time of the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 12:11). Jesus confirmed Daniel’s time line in the Olivet Discourse (Abomination of Desolation, Matthew 24:15), which would close out the END OF THE AGE (Matthew 24:3, 13) while some of those living in the first century were still alive (Matthew 24:34)—coincident with the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2). This was clearly the culminating end of the Old Covenant Age, which was just in front of the biblical writers (Hebrews 8:13).
  3. Jesus tied the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 27-32 to his own generation multiple times. For example, the time of VENGEANCE from Deuteronomy 32:35, 41, 43 was the first-century generation. Jesus said, “THESE are the days of VENGEANCE to fulfill all that is written” (Luke 21:22, 32). Jesus also echoed the Deuteronomy prophecy about a “perverse generation” (Deuteronomy 32:20), and told the Jews of his day that THEY were that generation (Matthew 12:38, 39, 42; Luke 11:29-32). The other New Testament writers affirmed their own generation as the “perverse” one (Acts 2:40; Romans 10:19; Philippians 2:13-15). In Matthew 3:1-12, John the Baptist spoke of the wrath of Jesus, which was “about to come” (Matthew 3:7, literal translation). Indeed, Jesus would baptize them with fire (Matthew 3:11) and the axe was already laid at the root of the tree (Matthew 3:10), teaching that the judgment prophesied in Malachi 3-4 was imminent. The judgment was indeed imminent and ties perfectly with AD 70.
  4. In Matthew 23:29-39 Jesus told the Jews of his day that THEY were the target of his wrath, upon whom the blood of all the prophets EVER IN HISTORY would befall, fulfilling the prophecy from Deuteronomy 32:43! Of further note, Revelation echoes this condemnation against “the great city Babylon” (Revelation 18:21-24) which is clearly identified as the “city where the Lord was slain” (Revelation 11:8-9), again confirming that the Great Judgment was against Jerusalem—an event which would “shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-20).
  5. So, why would Jesus have been so upset with the Jews of the first century? Well, (a) they were indeed evil (Luke 11:29), (b) they fulfilled all Old Testament prophecy (Luke 21:22), and (c) they refused to accept Him as Savior (Matthew 21:33-46; 22:1-14; 23:37).
  6. Biblical writers often referred to the First and Second Comings as two parts to the same event. Examples: Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 3:1-12; Hebrews 9:24—28.
  7. Christians underestimate the importance of AD 70. With the temple gone, and with it the sacrifices for sin, recorded genealogies, and rituals—Jesus became the sole source of our salvation (Revelation 21:22).


OBJECTION #1. This cannot be the whole story because we know that WE are living in the end times today. ANSWER: This is simply an assumption from the echo chamber. Let’s stick with the Bible. There are 14 primary mentions of the end times/last days in the New Testament. The culmination of none of them can be placed outside the first century. Examples: Acts 2:17-21; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 4:7, 17; 1 John 2:17-18.

OBJECTION #2. This cannot be the whole story because we know that Jesus has not returned. ANSWER: You have misunderstood both the NATURE and TIMING of Jesus “Second Coming.” He did not promise to return bodily, but rather promised to return just as Yahweh “came” in DIVINE JUDGMENT numerous times in the Old Testament against groups of people (Isaiah 13:9-13 against Babylon; 19:1-22 against Egypt; etc.) Jesus promised over and over to come while some of those living in the first century were still alive (Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 24:29-34; 26:64; Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-20; etc.) In fact, there are over 100 imminence statements in the New Testament demanding the soon fulfillment of all last days’ events.

OBJECTION #3. OK, Jesus and the writers of the New Testament THOUGHT Jesus would return in their generation, but they were simply wrong. ANSWER: I find it hard to believe a Christian would say that, as this falls right into the hands of the skeptics. If Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were wrong, they were false prophets! If they were false prophets, how can we trust anything they taught? Indeed, the credibility of Christianity is at stake.

OBJECTION #4. Hey, look. We know Jesus has not come yet because when He does there will be a time of perfection on earth according Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22—in the new heaven and new earth. In this future time the wolf will graze with the lamb; there will be no more death, crying or tears. ANSWER: If you read these passages carefully, there is still sin and death in the “new heaven and new earth” (Isaiah 65:20; Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15). So, this is not Utopia-ville. In these passages, God has defeated his enemies, but life continues on. Interestingly, there are still people who have not heard about God and require evangelism (Isaiah 66: 15-19). Regarding the statement about no more death, there is a present reality for the Christian that death has already been abolished (John 11:25-26; 2 Timothy 1:10). The statement about “no more tears” refers to statements in the Bible about the long-awaited Messiah; Jesus has (past tense) “borne” our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4, etc.). Proper biblical interpretation demands that we separate the literal from the figurative. These statements that you may have considered literal are biblical symbolisms about the benefits of the Messianic kingdom—i.e. the new covenant order, which we now enjoy. For the Christian, “old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17; Revelation 21:5).

OBJECTION #5. Well, I see with my head that you are right. But with my heart I still want to hope for a Second Coming. ANSWER: Just what do you hope to have at a supposed Second Coming that you do not have now? Your hope may be misplaced. The true Christian hope is heaven, and you already have that waiting for you now as a believer!

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