Eschatology is the study of the end times. Everyone has a view. Most views are based upon what someone else has to say and not the personal study of the student. I just want to give you a place to start. Of course, I know what I believe and why I believe it, and I will share it with you, but you need to make up your own mind.
I believe the importance of knowing the divine order of the end times is highly underrated. In fact, I’ve come to realize it’s dangerous not to have a solid foundation on what to expect. Corrie Ten Boom in her works relates the story of her conversation with a minister from China. The minister watched as tens of thousands of Christians suffered persecution when the communist under Mao came into power. The minister said many Christians fell away from the faith. The reason? He said they didn’t prepare them for persecution, but instead told them that Jesus was surely coming. Jesus didn’t come and many lost their salvation.
This introduction is to provide the building blocks for a solid foundation. If our foundation is shaken during persecution and tribulation, then we’ve built our house on the sand and not the Rock.
The End Is Not Yet
“See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:8).
Wars, commotions, threats of war, natural disasters, famines, pandemics, and persecution will take place, Jesus warned, but we are not to be troubled. I don’t know about you, but for me I find the only way to obey the command “not to be troubled” is to maintain my prayer and Word time with the Lord. Especially as I see the takeover by the new world order in my nation. I am well aware of the death and destruction that they bring, and especially the carnage they do to the church. But Jesus said, “The end is not yet.”
Do I believe that Jesus will return soon? Yep! But the troubles just mentioned do not guarantee Jesus’ return. Jesus mentioned them because these “things must come to pass.” These things aren’t new. The church has seen them before. But they are signs to be aware of before His return. There are differences today from yesteryear. In our time, the earth is full and there is no where to run or expand, and this planet is on a self destructive course. Also, these events are known throughout the earth in “real time” which causes that much more stress and is new for this generation. The big question is does Jesus give us a definitive time or event to look for before His return?
The Abomination of Desolation
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:15, 21).
One thing Jesus said to look for is the “abomination of desolation.” What is that?
If you’re not familiar with Hanukkah, you should be. Jesus is referring to the events that led up to this important Jewish holiday.
About 167 or 168 AD, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes, began a crusade to abolish the Word of God from Israel. The Jews that would apostate and accept Hellenism were put into power, the scriptures were ordered to be burned, and Judaism was forbidden to be practiced. Greek culture, religion, and law were to be observed. Disobedience to the new laws was met with cruel punishment and death. Antiochus also defiled the temple by sacrificing a pig on the alter and erecting an image of Zeus (probable with a likeness of his face) in the temple. The sacrilege of the temple is the abomination of desolation.
Though this prophecy of Daniel’s was fulfilled before Jesus’ birth, it was a type and shadow of events before Jesus’ return. Believer’s will be forced to choose between the new “Hellenism” and obedience to God, God’s word will be targeted for destruction, and the abomination of desolation will take place. But instead of a local persecution against Israel by Antiochus, it will be “you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).
Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians of this very thing. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4). This event Paul describes is the abomination of desolation.
Advice & Warnings
I want to give you some advice and warnings when studying eschatology (all scriptures for that matter). Don’t add-on to what’s not there. Don’t be quick to put your (or the preacher’s) interpretation on a statement. Use scripture to confirm scripture.
Don’t start with the book of Revelation. Revelation builds upon the established apostolic and prophetic doctrine. Of course, read the book of Revelation but in light of what you’ve confirmed by the apostles and prophets. If you’re direction in the beginning is off, you’ll find yourself making doctrine to fit your beliefs. The apostles, prophets, and the book of Revelation all agree.
Be willing to learn. You may change what you believe as you learn and understand more. Don’t worry what others may think. They‘re probably parroting what someone else said and are unwilling to have their doctrine tested. I’m not an apologist. I won’t argue with you. I feel no obligation to make you view things my way. If you want to go to hell, that’s your privilege, but if you want to go to heaven, I’ll be more than happy to help your spiritual growth. In like manner, if you’re unwilling to have a calm and scriptural discussion about the end times, I’m unwilling to waste my time talking with you. Why should we go that direction? There’s plenty of other things to fellowship about.
It should all fit together. There may be empty holes in your narrative , but it should be foundationally sound, established on the scriptures, and able to stand up to bad doctrine. Every thing we know is incomplete knowledge. Time and study is how we developed and gain understanding. Don’t fret it. Enjoy the journey.
Know that very few will have an intelligent conversation with you about the second coming of Jesus. Most of what they believe is based on what’s popular at the time, and they have no real knowledge of the scriptures. It’s just that way. Beating the sheep to make them believe what you have to say is counterproductive. And it’s not your business; it’s Jesus problem. Your job is to maintain your integrity and stay in love.
There is very much said in the Bible about the end times; so it’s very important to God that we understand the last days and what to expect before Jesus returns. God wants us to be prepared for Jesus’ return. But before that wonderful day, we can expect troublesome times. Being prepared for anything traumatic can be daunting, and it is best to assuage the hardship by spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing before it comes.
I introduced the most basic of signs to take place before Jesus returns. How does it fit in with what you believe? Does it give you cause to expand your thinking? Does it inspire you to prepare for His return? However little or great this has helped you, I do hope you’re ready for the Lord’s return.
We’ll continue with this series in the near future.