Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Studying Eschotology Part 1

A good friend and I got into a discussion on eschatology and fulfillment of prophecies, etc. The end of it was, that he lent me this book called The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema. Well, actually it was very far from the end of it; in fact, it was the beginning :) Anyway, I have been working my way through it, and decided that I'd blog my thoughts. Be warned, this is a deep subject. If I lose anyone, let me know, and I will try to simplify what I'm saying. As a farther disclaimer, I am not the most clever at writing about these deep subjects, so if I am not clear or seem to be presenting faulty ideas, just shoot me an email or leave me a comment (either one is fine) and ask me what I mean!! OK, let's dive in...

This book is meant to expound on what the Bible has to say about the future, and passages relating to the final coming of Christ. Which prophecies are already fulfilled and which ones have yet to be fulfilled. I will directly quote the author a lot of times (in italics), and then expound on what the author said in my own words.

Even as the Jews looked FORWARD to the coming of Jesus, his name was called "Immanuel" which means "God WITH us"! Despite the fact that Jesus had not yet been born, he is referred to as "God with us." To me that was profound. That as the Jews waited for the Messiah, God was already with them, even though Jesus had not yet come to earth... I thought that was cool!

The old covenant is "fading away" (Hebrews 8) BECAUSE the Israelites broke it! A covenant stands only so long as both parties keep it. If one party breaks covenant, the other party is no longer obligated to keep said covenant! So the old covenant was broken and is no more--but the new covenant, with God as one party, and us IN Christ Jesus as the other party, will never be broken because Christ makes intercession for us to the Father. Wow!! Praise God! Jeremiah 31:31-32 also speaks on this subject...

The author made a claim on page 9 about "prophetic perspective" that I found most interesting, and honestly am not sure I agree with... He says that "Prophetic perspective is a phenomenon where a prophet sees in a single vision events actually separated by thousands of years." The author didn't really give any proof for this opinion, so I am still waiting for some :)

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls." -Joel 2:30-32
The author takes this passage and applies it to the final day of God--where all men on earth are judged and a new earth takes place of the old one. But I think this could be referring to another event. According to the writings of Josephus and the Roman general Tacitus, these very things (bloody sky, smoke, sun darkened) happened in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The reason I think this passage is referring to 70 AD and NOT the end of time, is because verse 32 refers directly to Mount Zion and Jerusalem. I believe they are referred to in a literal sense. If this is the "final day of the Lord"--the end of time, then it wouldn't say Mount Zion or Jerusalem, but simply the whole world, right? I do not agree with the author in his interpretation of this verse, but that's OK as I agree with him on many other matters :) And I also could be wrong, it is just my opinion! Interestingly enough, the same exact words are used in Matthew 24 where Jesus says that "this generation will not pass away before these things take place."

I was and still sort of am overall disturbed with the author's lack of mentioning Revelation, the Fall of Jerusalem, and 70 AD. He did not mention Revelation at all  until page 65! To me this is an interesting tactic. Revelation is the most eschotological book in the entire Bible (according to most people). If the author did not agree with this, he did not say so, but simply ignored it until page 65... Anyway, the author quotes many of the New Testament passages talking about the last days (Peter and Hebrews) and even says John must have been one of the later writers as he goes so far as to speak of a last hour. But the last days before what exactly, is my question for the author..? Surely they could not have been referring to the VERY END of the world as we know it, since that still hasn't happened, and the apostles were writing about it as if it was about to happen. And since Jesus had already come, my conclusion yet again is that they are speaking of 70 AD and the Fall of Jerusalem. For your information, there was a longish gap right after the fall of Jerusalem, and there are NO writings recorded from any godly person, which makes me believe the righteous were taken up to heaven, as Jesus said they would be after the tribulation (Matt 24).

I think that is enough for now. I hope I've given you some food for thought, and I also pray that I have glorified God through my typing. This is all for him and his glory--I TRULY want to know the RIGHT way and what God really meant when he inspired those men to write all those prophecies. I have tried to simply attribute all of the "day of the Lord" prophecies to the FINAL coming of Christ, but I cannot reconcile some of the wording--especially how Jesus says that certain things will take place SOON and within the generation he is speaking to.

God bless, and stay tuned, as I only reached page 20 through the above thoughts, and I am on like page 105, so I have some catching up to do!


Joshua Schwisow said...

Hi Katie,

Glad you are working through the book! Its a fun one. Prophetic perspective can be seen in a variety of prophecies. Perhaps even in the NT prophecies...

For example, Isa. 2 speaks of the prophecy of the latter days, Parts of this have taken place, while some yet remains to be fufilled. The Word has gone forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:3, Luke 24:47) yet the nations beating their swords into plowshares remains to take place (Isa. 2:4) and all the nations flowing to the mountain of the Lord (Isa. 2:2) is not fully fulfilled yet.

Another example is Isaiah 11:1-9. The righteous root of Jesse has already come yet the lion laying down the lamb remains to yet happen even though it is the same prophecy (Isa. 11:6) The examples could be multiplied.

According to Peter, the Joel prophecy had a sort of fulfillment at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21). It even perhaps has some application to A.D. 70, but in an ultimate sense, the day of the Lord in the OT is always seen as THE final eschatological event. I wouldn't limit its application to only one event such as Pentecost or A.D. 70.

The reason (I think) Hoekema does not deal with Revelation early in the book is because he wants to show how the entire Scriptures are about eschatology. Eschatology starts with Genesis and on. He tries to canvass the whole eschatology of the Bible. Revelation is mostly a compilation of OT and NT eschatology.

He deals with Revelation in a more in depth fashion later. I don't remember how much he deals with preterist arguments (he mostly deals with dispensationalism which is common). Keep reading though, he may answer some of your questions later on.

Katie said...

Thanks for your thoughts Josh. Prophetic perspective seems complicated and uncertain to me, but I suppose it does make sense. I guess the idea that a prophet could talk about events spread out hundreds/thousands of years in the same SENTENCE seems unstable to me. Perhaps leaving too much up to whoever is interpreting the passage... In addition, non-Christians could use this prophetic perspective tidbit to attack the validity of the prophets' words (because their information ranges all over the history time-table). And non-Christians could also use the many different translations of prophesies, and point out Christians as double talkers and divided, since some interpret the prophecy one way, and some another (which really happens anyway, and with not just prophecy!).

Just some thoughts of my own. I am not done with the book yet, so by no means have written it off. There is a whole lot of good information in it. I look forward to getting into Revelation and what exactly the author thinks in that vein.