I thought I would share with you a short paper I wrote the other day for a class I recently took that covered eschatology in the final week. I had 500 words or so to give my end-times view. All of the quotes are taken from A Basic Guide to Eschatology by Millard Erickson. (I added a few words for clarity—meaning it’s a bit more than 500 words.)
I don’t expect that everyone is going to agree with me, and that’s OK. It’s good and right to discuss the Scriptures in a spirit of unity. Erickson ends his book with this wise advice ‘In essentials unity, in doubtful matters liberty, in all things charity.”
He presents the three classic views:
- Amillennialism: We are already in the millennial reign,
- Postmillennialism: We will enter into a season of peace in righteousness for 1000 years or so before Yeshua returns.
- Premillennialism: There is a Great Tribulation that leads to the Second Coming and 1000-year reign of Messiah as explained in Revelation 20.
Then he explains the two primary views of premillennialism: pre-tribulation and post-tribulation rapture. Our views on such things should never divide us, but they are in the Bible, so we should certainly study and discuss them.
I was encouraged by the final page in the Erickson text. “Nonetheless, I do hold definite convictions on these issues. Overall, posttribulational premillennialism seems to me the most adequate position” (183). I agree. But I came to my position using an Israel or kingdom hermeneutic (method of interpretation). Also, I was not aware that “the posttribulationist does not see the millennium as a great repository of prophetic fulfillment” (147). I certainly do.
Erickson speaks of the post-trib view as primarily being a reaction to the pre-trib view and therefore lacks enthusiasm (162). My view is based not so much on disproving the pre-trib view but in looking forward to the Messianic Age. Nevertheless, here are some concerns about the pre-trib view:
- Darby, the father of pretribulationism, was first a post-tribulationalist. He changed after a prophetic utterance. (Ladd, The Blessed Hope, 41.) “It was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine” of a pre-trib rapture “arose” claims a Darby contemporary (Tregelles, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming). That is not how we do theology.
- 1 Thes. 4 seems to reveal the rapture and the second coming is one event.
- Daniel portrays the coming dominion after four empires. So, this new dominion is also an empire. When an empire takes territory, it is common for the citizens to either come out and welcome the empire’s army or fight. As believers, we will meet Yeshua in the air welcoming him as king of the earth. “How did the wise virgins respond? They went out as a welcoming party and met him somewhere … then turned around and accompanied him to the marriage feast” (156). But many kings of the earth will fight him and lose (Zech. 14, Ps. 2). I simply cannot see these two events as seven years apart.
- Pretribulationism does not prepare the people of God for the tribulation. In that sense, it is concerning. How will people who expected to be raptured before the Great Tribulation endure the coming persecution?
While many in the premillennial, post-trib camp have reacted to the relatively new pre-trib rapture doctrine, it was the primary view until Augustine. Listen to theologian George Ladd.
Every church father who deals with the subject expects the Church to suffer at the hands of Antichrist. God would purify the Church through suffering, and Christ would save her by His return at the end of the Tribulation when He would destroy Antichrist, deliver His Church, and bring the world to an end and inaugurate His millennial kingdom. The prevailing view is a post-tribulation premillennialism. (151)
What about Israel?
The disciples asked Jesus after his resurrection if he was going to now restore Israel politically (Acts 1:6). He did not rebuke them, as some have taught. He simply says, ‘eventually, not yet, in God’s timing’ (v. 7). Then he sent them to be immersed with the Spirit and spread his message “to the ends of the earth” (v. 8).
The hope of the prophets was a Messianic kingdom based in Israel (Is. 2:2-4). Zechariah, Amos, Daniel, Joel, and certainly Isaiah (and others) speak of this. As we approach the fullness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25), we will see the Jewish people “mourn for the one they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10, Rev. 1:7) and find forgiveness (Zech. 13:1) and nationwide salvation (Romans 11:26). The nations will rejoice as they come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and worship Jesus (Zech. 14:16).
While I am using an Israel hermeneutic, this is good news for everyone who believes. While the Bible does seem to say that our earthly ethnicity will continue to be recognizable in the age to come (Rev. 7:9, Zech. 14:16, Is. 2:2-4), Jesus will rule wearing Joseph’s coat of many colors, symbolizing his love for all nations. God never intended only to reach the Jewish people (too small a vision [Is. 49:6]) but to make Abraham a father of a multitude of nations. The kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15). It will be based in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:8-9), but all the nations will enjoy his rule.
Let me just add, contrary to dispensationalism, I believe along with an increase of wickedness, there will be great revival during the tribulation. I believe the Church will grow in power, even as there will be great resistance and martyrdom. (If anyone is interested, I present this view in my book The Coming End-Time Awakening, which is free at www.roncantor.com )
Lastly, I do not see the antichrist as the most powerful individual on earth during the great tribulation. He cannot overcome the two witnesses for 3 ½ years (Rev. 11). This is one of the reasons why I believe we will see revival. They will be in Jerusalem, and the whole world will know about them. They will preach Yeshua, and many will repent.
Revelation 19 and 20, if we take them literally, present the final events in this world:
- The saints in heaven begin to rejoice because it’s time for the wedding supper of the Lamb.
- Yeshua returns on a white horse from heaven. (I believe we who are on earth meet him in the air and return with him as our conquering king [1 Thes. 4:17])
- Yeshua makes war against the nations and judges Satan, who is then locked up for 1,000 years.
- Believers who have died will be raised to life in the first resurrection.
- We will reign with Yeshua for a thousand years. Many do not believe in a literal 1,000 years, citing the fact that it is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture. However, it is mentioned six times in Revelation 20, which leads me to believe it is a literal 1,000 years.
- Satan will be released briefly and then judged forever.
- Then there is the great white throne judgment, the second resurrection. The unrighteous rise from the dead to be judged.
- This leads to a new heavens and a new earth.
This article originally appeared on roncantor.com, August 11, 2022, and reposted with permission.