What is the Apocalypse? The end of all things?! This must mean scary, foreboding, calamity beyond measure; right? Well most people think so; Hollywood and its “B” movies think so as do many TV preachers. But is that a reality from in the Bible?
Let’s take a look at the word that started it all, Revelation; it is from the Greek title word “apokalypsis,” where we get the term “The Apocalypse.” This means the “discourser of events,” as opposed to something secret or hidden. It is meant to inspire and encourage those in sufferings to have hope and faith in Christ and to keep loyal to Him and not bow to evil or ones situation. Thus, even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends, false teachers, sensationalists or newspapers. This is also something not to be feared; rather it is to instill in us hope and encouragement. It also means an uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation. The other title that has been used is “The Apocalypse,” this is the English rendering of the Greek.
Thus, the Apocalypse and the Book of Revelation is a book of hope and disclosure of John’s seven visions to his seven churches and God’s exhortations; hence, this is why sometimes it is rendered in the plural, Revelations. It is all about showing us God’s love and hope—not about a detailed account of what will happen; it is not meant to scare us but to inspire us (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).
Correct Eschatology is also about Prophecy that points toward God’s revelation, and which contains visions of future events. What is this to be for us? To have wild theorems that lead us nowhere except away from His Truth? No! Most people get this very wrong. Biblical Eschatology is seeing End Times as all about God helping us fortify our faith and remain faithful (Isa. 1:1; Jer. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Rev. 19:10; 22:7-19).
The purpose and intent of Biblical Eschatology is to excite us about the promises of our Lord Christ and challenge us to get ready by our perseverance of faith in Him. We are to long for Him, but not only that; we are to know Him and seek Him with prayer, study, and fellowship so we will grow in Him. If not, we may be the ones on the outside of His love and care—both now and for eternity.
Even though it has upset a lot of people because many just do not get it, remember this point: Revelation itself is not just about eschatology; it is about doing life right, being loyal to Christ, and growing in faith. This is what is most important and effectual. It is a manifesto on encouragement and a challenge to live a life of “true spirituality” so we will know what to do in all times and in all situations, whether it be in tribulations or in times of triumph. This is what correct Eschatology always points to, not our fanciful theories that only distract us and the people whom we lead from effective church leadership and effectual spiritual growth.
What Will Happen?
Jesus is coming back and it will be beyond spectacular that no words can fully describe! By the way, I think Darby did a great job showing this excitement in eschatological passages even though he has made many exegetical errors. But, the practice of Biblical Eschatology is not just about what will happen in the future, but also what is happening now with the practice of our faith and how we lead our churches. We are called to open our eyes to His wonder and worship Him only¾not our ways or trends, and not our pride or feelings. Eschatology also applies more about His Church and that we run it His way, worshipping Him alone. Church and worship are not about what we feel we need or desire; rather, they are about Christ and what He intends. God does not give us an eschatology that is always nice and neat, all wrapped up in a stage-by-stage, play-by-play plan. Eschatological passages such as in Revelation give us a carrot on a stick, as God tells us everything is going to be OK, and here is My plan. Do not worry or fret over the details, just rely and trust on Me, I will be there!
Did you know that this Rapture is a “theory” that is only a hundred years old, and comes from people who expounded lots of false doctrine as well? Did you know that none of the most brilliant theological minds who ever lived—Augustine, Kempis, Calvin, Luther, and Spurgeon, to name a few—ever taught this?! Perhaps the information is true but we were not ready for it; perhaps it is all fantasy, allegory turned it into theology, which is a very dangerous and false practice!
Let us take a look into a common misunderstanding about the rapture. The phrase often associated with this from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 is caught up. This is a metaphor for meeting, as in catching up with your party (i.e. your group). Meeting in the air was a way to say dignitaries from a city, as a great honor, are meeting with emissaries from another city to escort them to a meeting. Sometimes this meant meeting half way like diplomats or generals of opposing armies in a neutral zone. It meant gathering people to join and/or meet with Jesus when He comes back as a “royal coming” (Matt. 24:27-31; Acts 17:7). This does not mean we get to fly up into the air. It may happen, but this passage as well as others that people use to support this theory, in context, clearly states otherwise. The application can denote that the assembled Church will come together to meet with Jesus physically or in some supernatural way that is yet undesignated. This does not diminish the excitement and wonder when Christ will come back and we get to meet with Him—far more excitement and hope than any convoluted theory could ever give! (I will have more on this in the article the Last Days Accordingly to Jesus and The Rapture, coming soon.)
Biblical, exegetical Eschatology shows us that Christ brings Heaven to us! He brings peace and a future to us who do not deserve it. Because of Him, we have hope and a future and most of all, we have Him—both now and forevermore! What is better than that?! There is nothing that could be a greater motivator and comfort than knowing for certain who Christ is, what He has done, and what place He has for you and me! Now, let us live our lives as if that were true—because it is true. And, keep in mind these powerful passages as well as John 14 in mind, as love and obedience are connected in Him!
Matthew chapter 24 verse 44 tells us,
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The call of being ready is to know and be prepared by faith, to grow in our spiritual maturity, to develop godly character, and to be infused by the Spirit and His resulting Fruit. Simply put, it is for this reason that Christ is coming; and, in the meantime, we partake in the building of His Kingdom with the bricks of our faith, each one interlocking with another. How are your bricks being formed and baked?
Why are some Christians so greatly interested in chasing fads and so little interested in effectual truth?
Most in the literal camp are the futurists and dispensationalists who do not always do a good job at looking to context or word meanings or genres, which are essential for accurate Bible interpretation. In contrast, many in the non-literalist camp miss the point of the passages all together. Remember, a rapture, if or when or how it will come about, or even if it does not, an antichrist as a particular person coming to power, a seven-year tribulation and when and how it will take place, a Beast, whomever that is, and other such theories are man’s theories read into the text, and not necessarily taken from the text. What do we need to know? God does not always give us explanations to live by; He gives us His promises and His empowerment! God is most concerned with what these images represent—the “living water” from John 7:37-39. Christ is our substance, hope, and life that we are to live for now and that we will have forevermore. This is what makes us ready!
Do not be caught up with the “hype” of speculations; rather, be caught up with Christ. Do not ignore the veracity of Eschatology and Revelation. His Word is explicit; He tells us what we need to know and that is that. It is a tragedy to chase what is fleeting and miss His wonders and Truth! We have nothing to add to His Word and nothing to improve about it; rather, it is we who need to be approved.