Note: This article is an excerpt from a book in progress, called The High King of Heaven. It’s great goal is to show that the classic eschatology of the early Church and the Reformation is indeed the biblical one; that Christ will come again once, at the end of the age, to raise the dead, judge the world in righteousness, and bring in the new heavens and the new earth, the eternal home of the redeemed. Our text from Philippians, like so many others in the NT, seems clearly to teach this very thing. 

All Things Subjected to Himself

(Philippians 3:17-21)

I have touched on this text several times, but want to linger over it here, seeing that in two short (and very inspiring) verses, the apostle marvelously encapsulates, reiterates, and confirms his entire eschatology.

In this brief paragraph, Paul is exhorting the saints to imitate him and their other leaders (17). In order to move them to do so, he brings before their eyes the final destiny of both sinners and saints. As for worldly, gluttonous, and licentious men, who walk as enemies of the Cross of Christ, their (final) end is destruction, by which Paul means, not annihilation, but eternal “tearing down” in Gehenna, rather than eternal “building up” in the World to Come (Mt. 7:13, Rom. 9:22, 1 Cor. 5:5, 2 Cor. 10:8, 1 Thess. 5:3, 2 Thess. 1:9).

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This is the LAST (yes, you read that right!) in a series of posts dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). If you’re new to this subject (or to my blog), you’ll want to read the essay with which I introduced the series (just click here).

My goal in these eschatological adventures is two-fold.

First, I want to open up something of the Christ-centered truth and beauty of OTKP to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Secondly, I want to reason a little with my premillennial brethren. In particular, I want to make the case that we all will best understand, enjoy, and profit from OTKP when we see that its true sphere of fulfillment is: 1) Christ, 2) the New Covenant he instituted by his blood, 3) the two-staged spiritual Kingdom he has already introduced (and will soon consummate), and, 4) the New Covenant community he is creating out of elect Jews and Gentiles: the Church.

In short, I would like my premillennial brothers to reconsider the amillennial approach to the interpretation of OTKP.

Since the end of the age will soon be upon us, it is important that we stand together as much as possible. Seeing eye to eye on eschatology would definitely help. These essays—and the book in progress from which they are extracted—represent my best effort at contributing to that worthy goal.

Since the prophetic texts I deal with are quite long, I have not reproduced them here. You will need to bring an open Bible to each blog. My hope and prayer is that you will enjoy them all.

Jerusalem In That Day: Interpreting Zechariah 12-14

We turn our attention now to the most prolific—and most fascinating—of the three post-exilic prophets: Zechariah (fl. 500 BC). Like his rough contemporaries, Haggai and Malachi, this great OT priest, seer, and martyr comforted a subjugated and much enfeebled nation with visions and prophecies of a glorious future: the coming of the Messiah, the final defeat of Israel’s enemies, and the final restoration of God’s people, land, temple, priesthood, and holy city—Jerusalem.

Our focus in this study is Zechariah 12-14. It is the second of two lengthy prophetic oracles dealing with the future Kingdom of God. To better understand the second, let us look briefly at the first.

(To continue reading, please click here)

 

This is the next to the last post (yes!) in a series of  essays dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). If you’re new to this subject (or to my blog), you’ll want to read the essay with which I introduced the series (just click here).

My goal in these eschatological adventures is two-fold.

First, I want to open up something of the Christ-centered truth and beauty of OTKP to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Secondly, I want to reason a little with my premillennial brethren. In particular, I want to make the case that we all will best understand, enjoy, and profit from OTKP when we see that its true sphere of fulfillment is: 1) Christ, 2) the New Covenant he instituted by his blood, 3) the two-staged spiritual Kingdom he has already introduced (and will soon consummate), and, 4) the New Covenant community he is creating out of elect Jews and Gentiles: the Church.

In short, I would like my premillennial brothers to reconsider the amillennial approach to the interpretation of OTKP.

Since the end of the age will soon be upon us, it is important that we stand together as much as possible. Seeing eye to eye on eschatology would definitely help. These essays—and the book in progress from which they are extracted—represent my best effort at contributing to that worthy goal.

 

Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Sevens

The year is 539 B.C. Daniel, still in captivity under Darius the Mede, has been reading the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12, 29:10). He realizes that the 70 years of Jerusalem’s desolation are nearing an end, but also that many captive Jews remain unbroken and impenitent (9:13). They are not spiritually qualified for the great restoration promised decades earlier.

So Daniel prays (9:3-23). First, he rehearses and confesses the sin of God’s covenant-breaking people (9:3-10). Then he acknowledges God’s justice in sending them into captivity (9:11-15). Finally, he makes his petition. Appealing solely to God’s mercy, grace, and zeal for the honor of his Name, he pleads with the LORD to fulfill his promise given through Jeremiah: to restore his City, his Sanctuary, and his Holy Mountain (9:16-19).

His words are not in vain. Even as he is praying, the angel Gabriel arrives and stands before him, declaring to Daniel that God has indeed heard his prayer and answered it. He (Gabriel) has been sent to give Daniel “insight and understanding” about the coming Restoration (9:20-23). In the four long verses that follow, he does (9:24-27)

Are you familiar with this famous OTKP, often referred to as the prophecy of Daniel’s Seventy Sevens (or Weeks)? If so, you know at least one thing for sure: A whole host of commentators have been seeking insight and understanding ever since! In the paragraphs ahead, we will see why.

To continue reading, please click HERE.

This is the fifteenth in a series of posts dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). If you’re new to this subject (or to my blog), you’ll want to read the essay with which I introduced the series (just click here).

My goal in these eschatological adventures is two-fold.

First, I want to open up something of the Christ-centered truth and beauty of OTKP to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Secondly, I want to reason a little with my premillennial brethren. In particular, I want to make the case that we all will best understand, enjoy, and profit from OTKP when we see that its true sphere of fulfillment is: 1) Christ, 2) the New Covenant he instituted by his blood, 3) the two-staged spiritual Kingdom he has already introduced (and will soon consummate), and, 4) the New Covenant community he is creating out of elect Jews and Gentiles: the Church.

In short, I would like my premillennial brothers to reconsider the amillennial approach to the interpretation of OTKP.

Since the end of the age will soon be upon us, it is important that we stand together as much as possible. Seeing eye to eye on eschatology would definitely help. These essays—and the book in progress from which they are extracted—represent my best effort at contributing to that worthy goal.

 

The Triumph of the Kingdom (Daniel 7)

The apocalyptic vision here under consideration is one of a number found in the book of Daniel in which we behold the course, conflict, and climax of Salvation History from the time of the Babylonian Empire until the coming the Kingdom of God in its fullness at the end of the age (Dan. 2, 7, 9, 11, 12).

The purpose of these visions is clear: to give God’s suffering people hope.

The method is also clear: to give them hope by means of repeated symbolic representations of: 1) God’s absolute sovereignty over history; 2) the necessity—and brevity—of holy suffering on the part of his saints; 3) the final overthrow of the enemies of God and his people; and 4) the final rescue, restoration, and vindication of the saints on the Day of Judgment, when the Kingdom appears in fullness, triumphing once and for all over the kingdoms of this fallen world.

Needless to say, such prophecies are of great eschatological importance. But given the abundance and complexity of the symbolism involved—and the multitude of interpretations offered—how can we interpret them with confidence?

The short answer is: When we employ the New Covenant Hermeneutic (NCH).

The long answer is: When we let Christ and the apostles be our theological guides; when we have understood the nature and structure of the two-fold spiritual Kingdom they proclaimed; when we follow them in seeing OTKP as NT truth mystically communicated under  OT type and shadow . . . then, and only then, will we be able to approach these otherwise daunting visions with true spiritual confidence.

With Daniel 7 before us, let us see if these bold assertions are really true. In particular, let us see if this prophecy really does confirm the two-fold spiritual Kingdom of NT eschatology, thereby enabling us confidently to decide between the amillennial and premillennial interpretations, not only of Daniel 7, but of all OTKP.

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This is the fourteenth in a short (!) series of posts dealing with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). If you’re new to this subject (or to my blog), you’ll want to read the essay with which I introduced the series (just click here).

My goal in these eschatological adventures is two-fold.

First, I want to open up something of the Christ-centered truth and beauty of OTKP to my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Secondly, I want to reason a little with my premillennial brethren. In particular, I want to make the case that we all will best understand, enjoy, and profit from OTKP when we see that its true sphere of fulfillment is: 1) Christ, 2) the New Covenant he instituted by his blood, 3) the two-staged spiritual Kingdom he has already introduced (and will soon consummate), and, 4) the New Covenant community he is creating out of elect Jews and Gentiles: the Church.

In short, I would like my premillennial brothers to reconsider the amillennial approach to the interpretation of OTKP.

Since the end of the age will soon be upon us, it is important that we stand together as much as possible. Seeing eye to eye on eschatology would definitely help. These essays—and the book in progress from which they are extracted—represent my best effort at contributing to that worthy goal.

Ezekiel’s Vision of the World to Come (40-48)

THIS  is the capstone, the last of Ezekiel’s three Oracles of Good News.

In the first, God promised his people a final restoration to the land, the coming of the Messiah, the gift of Spirit, and the fullness of his covenant blessings (Ezek. 36-37).

In the second, he promised to rescue them from the Last Battle, and to destroy, once and for all, all their surrounding enemies (Ezek. 38-39).

Here in the third oracle, he completes his words of encouragement, giving them a vision of life together with him in the eternal World to Come (Ezek. 40-48).

In essence, this vision is an elaboration of the great promise previously given in Ezekiel 37:24-28. To re-read that text is to see immediately that the word “forever” is both prominent and crucial. Israel will dwell in the land forever (25a). The Messianic son of David will be their Prince forever (25b). God will enter into a covenant of peace with them forever (26a). And he will set his sanctuary in their midst forever (26b, 27, 28).

Here, then, is what life will be like in the eschaton, in the World to Come. Here, at long last, the promise of the Eternal Covenant will be fully realized. Here the LORD will be “Israel’s” God, and they his people. Here, every impediment to their union will be removed, and every blessing of that union enjoyed—forever (v. 27).

This is the message of Ezekiel 40-48, as well. Here, however, the promise comes less by way of divine utterance, and more by way of divine vision (40:2).

It is indeed a vast, extended vision, but with a definite structure. Incorporating ideas and images familiar to every godly Israelite, it depicts life in the World to Come under seven memorable motifs: the everlasting Mountain of God (41:1-4), the everlasting Temple of God (40:5-42:20), the everlasting glory of God (43:1-2), the everlasting worship of God (43:13-46:24), and the everlasting River of God (47:1-12), bringing perfect wholeness to the everlasting Homeland of God (47:13-48:29) and to the everlasting City of God (48: 30-35). In a moment we will examine each one.

But first, how is the vision to be interpreted? Confronted with an unavoidable decision to interpret it literally or figuratively, the vast majority of Christian commentators, from the Church fathers on, have opted for the figurative approach. Writes Biederwolf:

The prevailing view has been that it presents in grand outline the good in store for God’s people during the times of the Gospel; that it is a vision of spiritual realities pictorially presented . . . thus expressing under well-known (OT) symbols certain fundamental and eternal ideas with regard to the true worship of God. 

The reasons for this longstanding consensus are many, and well worth a brief discussion.

(To continue reading this long article, please click here)