Sunday, September 4, 2011

What is 'the end time,' exactly?

Here are a few random things I've been meaning to get to. First, some definitions.

I was writing the Prophecy Newsletter yesterday and explaining what the 'end time' is, and it occurred to me that it might be good to put on here too. The term comes from, in part, Matthew 24:1-8, when the Disciples asked Christ about the end of the age. They were sitting on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem at the time so Jesus's answer, one of the longest He delivered anywhere in the New Testament, is called The Olivet Discourse. The NASB's header to the beginning of His answer is:

Signs of Christ’s Return

"Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs."

So when the disciples came to Jesus when they were on the Mount of Olives, they asked him three things; when will You come, what will be the signs of Your coming, and what will be the signs of the end of the age? If Jesus's answer in Matthew 24 was to be ONLY the time of the Tribulation, He would not have included the sign of the Temple being thrown down, something that happened about 40 years later. Matthew Henry commentary explains, "The prophecy first respects events near at hand, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish church and state, the calling of the Gentiles, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom in the world; but it also looks to the general judgment; and toward the close, points more particularly to the latter." This is because the end time is technically the time between His first coming (Ascension) and the Second Coming (Return). The prophecy as Henry says points particularly to the latter period because that is what birth pangs do. A woman does not feel the pangs throughout her entire pregnancy, but at the end when the birth is about to occur and gestation is over.

Now, there is "Day of the LORD" spoken of in the bible (1st use, Isaiah 2:12). Depending on the translation, it is mentioned between 23 and 27 times throughout the Old and New Testaments. Barnes Notes explains, "The Day of the Lord" is any day in which He avengeth sin, any day of Judgment." However, all of human history is hurtling toward one particular Day of the Lord, the LAST DAY! God has judged many times in the past, in discrete moments, such as the earth swallowing Korah (Numbers 16:30-31), and in wide-open moments such as the Flood which swallowed the whole earth (Gen 7:6). But the Day of the LORD spoken of by the prophets in most cases refers to a 7-year period of judgment in which God will judge sin. It is also known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). We get the word 'Tribulation' from Matthew 24:29-"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."

There is also referred to the time of 'distress.' It's from Daniel 12:1, the angel tells Daniel, "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."

There will come a moment when the LORD dissolves the world and heaven (2 Peter 3:10) and makes a new one (Rev 21:1, Isaiah 66:22).

So the end time is a long period of devolving creation that meets the time of tribulation and ends with the one moment the LORD dissolves the world and makes a new one. In very rough, general terms.

Since Jesus likened the time to a woman in birth pangs it is instructive to look closely at His analogy. The gestational period is long, but we can see by the baby bump outside the mother just how things are progressing. When the signs indicate that the gestation period is nearing the end, we expect other signs, such as the baby moving lower, and the water breaking. The actual birth begins when the labor pangs grow in intensity and frequency, but no birth can be timed exactly. Some women are in labor for a day, others for three days. So at all phases of the gestation, labor, and birth, we can see the signs but  not know the lengths of the periods it will take to complete. Even the last day, His Second Coming, will not be a day known in advance, but a day that no one knows the day nor hour. Only the general imminence.

As we see the signs grown in intensity and frequency, we wait for the water to break, which in my opinion, is the rapture. The sudden bursting-in of the LORD into this world and physically removing His church will be a dramatic moment in which all earth's inhabitants will know something extraordinary has happened. After that, the events described in so many of our Old Testament and New Testament books will again alert the populace that something supernatural is happening. It will all happen faster and faster until the dramatic moment when the lights go out (Mt 24:29), and after an unknown period (Mt 24:36), likely a very short period, HE COMES to judge the earth.

So that's the end time. Are you ready?

8 comments:

  1. "It was at the Cross we get in on God's blessings and Purpose. However, the Cross is not the center or the end of God's Plan." - Jack Kinsella in his defense of Dispensationalism

    As a dispensationalist for many years I was accused of this very belief - which I denied vehemently every time it was said to me. In fact, just copying and pasting this onto this comment section makes me feel sick to my stomach. Denigrating the work of Christ on the cross like this! Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed, who bore the sin for mankind, who suffered, died and rose again, who was promised at the very beginning in God's promises to Adam and Eve after their sin in the Garden, the very one whose return we so look forward to and long for. God forgive this man - or punish him for his blasphemy!

    Elizabeth, please reassure me that you do not believe this lie from Satan, that the cross of Jesus Christ is not the center or the end of God's plan. There is NO OTHER WAY for anyone - Jews, Gentiles, pre-cross, post-cross - NO OTHER NAME by which man can be saved. The book of Hebrews, Ephesians, Jesus himself, all of the Apostles. No one was or is or will be saved except through faith in Jesus Christ - looking toward the Messiah in the past, believing on that Messiah now. The law only condemned, the sacrifices of the Old Testament never covered the sin of the people (read Romans, read Hebrews, read the Pentatuch itself!). Those sacrifices had to be made daily and more at specific times of the year. Christ's work on the cross was ONCE AND FOR ALL. Man has only ever been saved by FAITH - faith in what/who? In the promise of God providing a Savior - Someone who could pay the penalty for our sin, in Jesus Christ himself. Man has never been saved on the basis of his ethnic background. NEVER. Only on the basis of his faith (GIVEN to him BY GOD, not manufactured by his own will Ephesians 2:8-10). Many non-Jews were saved in the Old Testament, many Jews are saved now in the so-called Church Age. God has chosen His people from both Jew and Gentile. And HE provided a means of salvation for us, once and for all. Old Testament points toward the cross, New Testament points back to the cross. How in the world could anyone believe that the Jews (or anyone else for that matter) are more central to God's plan than Himself (the Trinity)????? the Jews did not exist before Abraham - who were all those pre-Abraham believers in God's promised Messiah, some sort of 3rd group of people who don't fit anywhere in God's plan?

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  2. Anonymous, for some reason you're tying Dispensationalism into a comment someone made that the cross is not the center of God's plan. The two have nothing to do with each other. One is real and one is false.

    Redeeming sinful people is the greatest act of the Holy God, and the cross is the mechanism for that redemptive and glorious act to be able to occur. It is central to God's plan, and it has been so from the beginning. Isaiah hinted at the bloody death of the Messiah (Is 53:5), and God mentioned the Messiah's coming and redemption to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15). I hope you are sufficiently reassured.

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  3. http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=7077

    Elizabeth, I am not the one who tied the two together - Jack Kinsella did. Check out this article of his and you will find it - it is a direct quote. I did not make this up. I would never make something like this up!! I have been told a number of times by people who are not dispensational that this is what I believe if I am a dispensationalist. Again, I repeat - I denied that over and over. Yet - here it is, in black and white in his defense of dispensationalism.

    "There are three things to keep in mind about dispensational teaching. First, it maintains a distinction between Israel and the Church, recognizing God has an eternal, unchanging, Plan for Israel and a different Plan for the Church during the Church Age.

    The second is that Dispensationalists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, instead of spiritualizing a text or making everything a 'type'.

    Thirdly, Dispensationalists believe God's purpose is much bigger than the salvation of mankind. God's purpose centers in His glory.

    It was at the Cross we get in on God's blessings and Purpose. However, the Cross is not the center or the end of God's Plan.

    The Bible teaches that there have been and will be saved Jews and Gentiles who are not part of the present body of Christ. Moses and Abraham come to mind. So does the Gentile King, Melchizidek. And the Bible teaches that Enoch was not only saved, he was raptured early."

    I could argue with all 3 of his points there, actually his whole argument about the use of the word dispensation (a comic version of this argument as to how words are used from one generation to another is found at the beginning of the film, Kate and Leopold. The word is 'erection'.) There is no doubt that the word, in Greek, Hebrew, English, Chinese, Russian, you name the language, has been used since man began to speak, most likely. What the word actually MEANS in each age is not what he implies at all. Languages change, word meanings change. But that is just part of the problem with everything he wrote.

    There is no doubt that God gave more information to Moses than to Noah, or that he gave more in the Abrahamic covenant, or in the Davidic covenant. And Christ's own words were, "This is the new covenant". Adamic, Noahic, Mosaic, Abrahamic, Davidic covenants and finally, Christ Himself. It all divides into two basic Covenants - the old (Law) and the new (Christ/cross).

    Please read carefully what this man wrote as a definition of dispensationalism. Check out if other main-line dispensationalists agree with it. Then ask yourself again - is this what I believe the Bible teaches??

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  4. Anonymous I don't understand your beef. What is the problem you have with dispensationalism?

    Jesus came to glorify the Father.(John 17:1, John 8:50; John 15:8) It is the central act of a Holy God to glorify Himself and the highest act of glorification is that Jesus voluntarily died on the cross so we may be saved. God's purpose DOES center on His glory and the cross is the mechanism and enactment of it.

    I won't argue either, it seems that the ideas are close enough together that you are making a mountain out of a molehill... Sorry.

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  5. This (quote at end) is why I'm "making a mountain out of a mole hill". This man, and what he teaches, is very influential within the Church today. If he believes, and TEACHES, that "the Cross is not the center or the end of God's Plan" then he is no better than Beth Moore, possibly even worse. He edits The Hal Lindsay Report, for example, and how many Christians watch that for their daily/weekly understanding of what is happening in regard to the 2nd Coming of Christ? I know my father-in-law does!

    TRUTH is needed. If a person believes the cross was plan B, is not central, then it will affect everything he teaches, the way he reads the Word of God, everything in his life. If the cross is not central, then he is heretical. You are a dispensationalist. I WAS one. Ask yourself - is this really what I believe? (In addition, to his 2nd proof of how disp. is correct and others are wrong, ask yourself why, if what he says is true, it is Reformed theology that begins it's catechism teaching "Q What is the chief end of man? A To glorify God and enjoy him forever"?) As the title of a book once was, Know What You Believe.

    Jack Kinsella
    Editor: The Omega Letter, The Hal Lindsey Report
    Jack Kinsella is the editor and publisher of the Omega Letter, a subscription website community and news and information website examining current events from a conservative Christian perspective. Jack Kinsella is the head writer of the TBN television program, "The Hal Lindsey Report", and previously, Hal Lindsey's "International Intelligence Briefing" and the 1990's television broadcast, "This Week in Bible Prophecy." Jack is the author of several books, including "The Last Generation", two dozen video documentaries, a daily subscription newsletter by email, in addition to several thousand columns. Jack's recent public appearances include the National Geographic documentary, "Doomsday: The Book of Revelation" "Zola Levitt Presents" "Celebration" and many nationally-syndicated radio programs.

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  6. I have not heard any UNtruth yet. The cross is not Plan B. I explained that twice. But if you want t o persist in believing that is what he (and I) said, if you don't like him, then don't read him or listen to him...

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  7. At least you are answering me, and for that I thank you! I was in shock when I read the article by Jack Kinsella and wrote with much passion, I admit. Something I had vehemently denied had just been proven true.

    "It was at the Cross we get in on God's blessings and Purpose. However, the Cross is not the center or the end of God's Plan."

    It's pretty black and white to me what is being said here. The cross is not the center or the end of God's plan. I'm not sure what is instead, because you can never bring glory to God unless you worship Christ Jesus, and that is what the cross is all about (unless we talk about the punishment of unbelievers bringing glory to God, but that is not exactly this discussion ... or maybe it is?!). If Christ had come to earth, lived and died a normal life, we would still have no forgiveness of sins and how would that glorify God? It was His work of atonement on the cross, when he paid the penalty for our sin, which brings glory to God and saves men's souls. How can the two be seperated?

    "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
    In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:3-13

    If this is a key tenet of dispensationalism - the cross is not central - it is resting on a faulty foundation. The cross MUST be central - what else can take it's place??

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  8. One can say that the cross is not the center of God's plan because God's Holiness and glory is the center of God's plan. The cross is the mechanism of His glorification. It is one way of looking at it. I personally believe the cross is central to this present age.

    But it is just parsing to slice between the cross and His glory because they are really one and the same.

    One can say the cross is not the end of God's plan because human history would have ended at the cross and yet it continues, with the Church Age, the Tribulation, the Millennium and then eternity- with whatever plans He has afterwards. He is eternal and His plans go on eternally.

    I read the Omega Letter to which you refer. Kinsella did a bad job of explaining things there. It seems he equates Dispensationalism with Replacement Theology. They are separate things. Dispensationalism does *not* teach that the cross is not central. Actually, what Kinsella says in the piece is correct on what Dispensationalism teaches. (First-second-third)

    It seems by the tone of the letter he is not a Dispensationalist, in which case he is wrong.

    I would just 'dispense' with that particular Omega Letter because he actually muddies the waters, is wrong on three important counts, and fails to state his position clearly.

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