Understanding Bible Prophecy
These are predictions or revelations about future events that are found in various books of the Bible. They cover a wide range of topics, including:
the coming of the Messiah
the fate of nations
the End Times
the establishment of God's kingdom
the redemption of humanity
the ultimate triumph of God's purposes
PROPHETS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:
These are individuals chosen by God who received messages directly from God regarding future events and other teachings or exhortations. These prophets acted as messengers, sharing God's warnings, promises, and instructions with the people. According to the book of Deuteronomy, a true prophet from God must be 100 percent accurate:
"You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?'
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed." (Deut, 18: 21-22)
THE "GIFT OF PROPHECY" (NEW TESTAMENT):
In the New Testament, the gift of prophecy is more broadly distributed among believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost, proclaimed that in the last days, the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all people, and they would prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). The New Testament also introduces the idea of discernment regarding prophetic messages. Believers are encouraged to test and evaluate prophecies to ensure their alignment with God's truth (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 14:29).
PROPHECIES OF JESUS:
Jesus is more than just a prophet! While prophets were important figures in the Old Testament, Jesus is unique in his role and significance. Jesus was not only a prophet, but also the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah who would come to save humanity from sin. He performed miracles, claimed a unique relationship with God the Father, and ultimately sacrificed himself on the cross for the salvation of humanity. He also declared that He would return, and fulfill the prophecies regarding the End Times found throughout the Bible.
END TIMES PROPHECIES:
These prophecies describe events and signs that are predicted to lead up to the end of the world as we know it. They often include predictions about the return of Christ, the final judgment, and the establishment of a new heaven and earth.
FULFILLMENT IN HISTORY:
Many biblical prophecies have been fulfilled in history. For example, numerous prophecies in the Old Testament about the birth, life, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ were fulfilled in the New Testament.
SYMBOLISM AND IMAGERY:
Many prophecies use symbolic language and imagery to convey their messages. The meaning of these symbols often remain constant throughout the Bible. For example, the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation are known for their intricate symbolism that requires interpretation.
Some prophecies have both an immediate fulfillment in the context of the prophet's time, as well as a later, ultimate fulfillment pertaining to the distant future.
Understanding the Rapture and the Tribulation
Eschatology, or the study of the End Times, concerns the ultimate destiny of humanity and the world.
Dispensational Theology divides human history into different dispensations, or periods of time, during which God interacts with humanity in distinct ways. This theology often supports a "pretribulation rapture" perspective and emphasizes the literal interpretation of biblical prophecies. It suggests that Israel and the Church have distinct roles in God's plan for the End Times.
RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH:
A key component of these beliefs is the concept that God will "rapture" or "snatch away" believers in Christ before God pours out His wrath on a sinful world.
Here are two important verses in the New Testament that describe the Rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (ESV}: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (ESV): "Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."
Here is how Hal Lindsey describes the Rapture in his book, "The Late, Great Planet Earth":
The word "rapture" means to "snatch away" or "take out". But whether we call this event "the Rapture" or the "the Translation" makes no difference -- the important thing is that it will happen!
Someday, a day that only God knows, Jesus Christ is coming to take away all those who believe in Him. He is coming to meet all true believers in the air. Without benefit of science, space suits, or interplanetary rockets, there will be those who will be transported into a glorious place more beautiful, more awesome, than we can possibly comprehend. Earth and all its thrills, excitement, and pleasures will be nothing in contrast to this great event.
It will be the living end. The ultimate trip. If you are shaking your heads over this right now, please remember how many "impossibles" you have said in your lifetime or how many "impossibles" men throughout the ages have said to many things God has revealed through His spokesmen. And yet they were possible, because nothing is impossible for God.
A second key component is known as the "Tribulation" or "Great Tribulation". It is predicted that there will be a period of worldwide hardships, persecution, disasters, famine, war, pain, and suffering, which will affect all of creation, and especially the nation of Israel. This prophecy is found in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9, as well as other passages in the Bible.
There are various theological beliefs regarding the Rapture and the Tribulation. Currently, there are four major theories regarding the timing of the Rapture:
These viewpoints reflect the complexity and richness of interpreting biblical prophecies, and they continue to foster theological discussions within the Christian community.
Regardless of one's specific beliefs, the common thread across these perspectives is
...the hope and anticipation of Christ's return to the earth,
and the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan for the world and humanity.
REFERENCES: Hal Lindsey - "The Late Great Planet Earth"; ChatGPT 3.5