People may think eschatology is a needless battleground where certain combative Christians fight over a few vague Bible verses. But more of the Bible is prophetic than we might realize. From the first book (Gen 3:15) to the last (Rev 22:20), God’s prophetic words permeate Scripture. In fact, “the sovereign LORD does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Divine predictions appear in every section of the Bible—Old Testament law, history, poetry, and prophecy, as well as New Testament gospel, history, epistle and apocalyptic.
The Bible’s descriptions of the future link back to what God said and did in the distant past, in his dealings with Israel long before the Church came into existence. Take the future reign of God’s chosen King on the earth over the chosen nation of Israel. Millennia ago God promised Abraham a land, a seed and a blessing for all the families of the earth (Gen 12:1–3; 13:14–17; 15:4–5, 18–21; 17:1–8). Abraham’s descendants would include kings (Gen 17:16). God promised king David that through his own direct descendant David’s house and kingdom would be established forever (2 Sam 7:12–16). This promise of the coming forever King of Israel was carried forward by Israel’s prophets (Isa 9:6–7; Ezek 37:24–28; Dan 7:13–14). The New Testament does not cancel these original prophecies but instead affirms them. Gabriel prophesies to Mary that her son Jesus “will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33). Paul predicts that after the present era of Israel’s hardness against the gospel, “all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins’” (Rom 11:25–27; cf. Isa 59:20–21).
People may claim predictions about the future are not practical for the here and now, but that is not true. Future events predicted in Scripture connect to what God is doing in the present. According to 1 Thessalonians 4:18, the predicted rapture of the Church ought to bring us comfort, and we ought to use this hope to comfort others. Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that the predicted resurrection of our bodies ought to give us incentive for faithful service right now. 2 Peter 3:10–12 tells us that the predicted destruction of the present heavens and earth ought to motivate us to holy and godly living. Finally, John tells us in 1 John 3:3 that we who have hope in God’s predicted appearing should be purifying ourselves right now, just as he is pure (cf. also 1 Pet 1:13–16).
The Bible presents a sweeping panorama of history—what God is doing in this world from creation in the beginning to consummation at the very end. We must engage in a detailed study of eschatology. We must interpret the New Testament in light of the Old Testament. The New Testament cannot cancel any of the Old Testament’s unconditional promises made to God’s chosen nation of Israel. Eschatology is not just “a few vague passages of Scripture.” We must practice a sound hermeneutic and engage the entire scope of God’s plan for the ages!
Dr. Ken Gardoski, director of doctoral programs, will be teaching “God’s Plan for the Ages” online at Baptist Bible Seminary from May 11–July 3, 2020. In this class, students engage in a detailed study of eschatology and will learn how the interpretation of prophecy must rest on a more basic grammatical-historical hermeneutic.
Current BBS students can register for this and other summer courses by emailing registrar@ClarksSummitU.edu.
To register for this course for personal enrichment, new students can email admissions@ClarksSummitU.edu.
To learn more about earning a BBS Master’s degree, request information through Discover.ClarksSummitU.edu.