It is my intention, in this short review of prophecy, to provide an outline of what the Bible says about the future. We will look at specific Scriptures, but you will need to study many other references given and decide if the interpretations I present are an “accurate handling of the word of truth.” Our focus will be on the future of the Church and of the nation of Israel.
My objectives in this study are to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to get you excited about the word of God and what it reveals concerning future events, to encourage you in personal study, and motivate all of us to live godly and faithful lives until he comes. May this look into the future be a learning experience for all of us.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that we now see things as in a mirror dimly, and know in part, but at some point in the future we will see face to face, and know fully. Now abides faith, hope, and love.
We hear and read much about faith and love but less about hope. In everyday experience, hope expresses some desire or wish for the future. Almost invariably, there is implied in it the element of complete uncertainty. The hope of the believer, however, is of an altogether different kind. It is a confident and well-grounded expectation concerning the future which has its basis in the revealed will of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; 1 Peter 1:3).
I believe that the prophetic Scriptures clearly indicate God’s plan for a chosen people, Israel—God’s wife, and for the Church, also chosen to be the Bride of Christ. In times past many prophecies concerning Israel were made. Some were fulfilled, as we shall see, in the Old Testament times and in New Testament times. Some are yet to be fulfilled. At the death of Christ, God’s clock concerning Israel stopped ticking, and the Church began to be formed. It is still being formed at the present time, and when it is complete, then the prophetic clock will start again for Israel.
A Summary of Things to Come
A panoramic view of future events is as follows: When the Church is complete the Lord will return to the air and both the dead, and the living, believers in Him will rise up to meet Him in the air. He will not be visible to any except His Church at that time. This event is known as the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture will come the Judgment Seat of Christ, followed by a return with the Lord to see Him deal with the nations on earth at the end of the seven years of tribulation, first mentioned in Daniel 9 and described in some detail in Revelation 6–19. Then the Church will experience the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
At the time of the Rapture the prophetic clock will start ticking again for Israel. A seven-year peace treaty will be established between a world leader, of a revived Roman empire, and a leader of Israel. Half-way through this period the world leader will demand that all must worship him and, because of actions taken, the world will experience the wrath of God. At the end of this period the Lord Jesus Christ will then come to earth in all His glory and every eye shall see Him. He will deal with all who oppose Him and Israel will finally recognize their Messiah. This will usher in a millennial reign of our Lord on earth when righteousness will reign. At the end of this 1000-year period God will finally deal with Satan and, at the Great White Throne, pass judgment on the dead: those from the beginning of time whose names are not found in the book of life. They will experience the second death, an absolute separation from God, for refusing His grace and rebelling against His authority.
Finally, God will form a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness will dwell. God will dwell with men and He will be their God.
In what follows we will be looking at the Scriptures which tell this story of the future but first we need to gain a basic understanding of the what, where, when, and who of prophecy, as well as essential keys to correct interpretation of prophetic Scripture.
This series of posts has been adapted with permission from F. J. Hopton, From Here to Eternity: What Every Christian Should Know, Canada, 1999.