“… American evangelism is very widely misled, that it has departed from the historic Christian position about the second coming of Christ. That’s really rather sobering, because if we’re wrong about this, what other things might we have misinterpreted?” – William Lane Craig
In the midst of my Spiritual Awakening to the realities of the new covenant, I hit upon a speed bump called The Book of Revelations. At that time, I was a Pre-Millennium Rapture believer, actively listening for trumpets and pointing to every camel fart in the middle east as a sign of the “End of the World!”
At that time, I preached what was very common, that Jesus Christ has saved us from God. That on the Cross, God poured out his wrath on the Son, and that changed God, so that he could now be loving. I have since changed my understand of this dysfunctional Trinity, to the more historical Christ is Victor view. But none the less, I had a real problem when it came to reconciling the Book of Revelation with the New Covenant.
The idea was that if God had poured out ALL his wrath on the Son, why is it that suddenly we see wrath being poured out in the Book of Revelation? How does one reconcile the forgiveness and justification passages of the New Covenant, with this ‘Breaking Bad’ Jesus we see coming back with blood-lust to gun down all his enemies?
The obvious conclusion was that the Cross was not sufficient to really deal with the issue of sin. Further, If God was really getting angry all over again, that means God didn’t really forgive us and justify us at the cross, and we cannot have assurance of anything, if that is the case.
With that thinking, it means that sin is more powerful than the Cross, and God’s ultimate solution to sin would be a violent homicidal apocalypse in the future. These and other questions led me to re-examine many of the beliefs I held concerning End Times and the nature of the Book of Revelation.
1. There are Other views.
The first thing I discovered were that there were actually other views on the subject of End Times, with many sub categories. Futurism, while popular, was not the only belief. There is also, Idealism, Historicism and Preterism. Within each group there was a multitude of sub categories.
While this in itself was not definitive evidence to get me to abandon Pre-Tribulation Rapture theology, it certainly gave me something to study. While the Church has always taught on all four views, Pre-Tribulation Rapture theology is a modern invention, credited to a man called John Nelson Darby in the 19th century.
The only other instance of this type of teaching from the Early Church was a variation of “Post Tribulation Rapture,” which was later condemned as Heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Apart from that, there is no historical evidence to support the modern teachings.
2. The End of the World, or the End of the Age?
In the King James New Testament, the phrase “End of the World,” is used four times in the Book of Matthew. This single translation has given rise to much of the confusion concerning the context of Jesus’ words about end times.
The word that is used for “world,” is not the greek word “ge” (strongs G1093,) or the word “kosmos” (Strongs G2889), as is used in 2 Corinthians 5:19, instead it’s the greek word, “aion” (Strongs G165,) which can be translated as an age or a period of time.
So the question asked by Jesus’ disciples in Matthew 24:3, could be translated as “… and what shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the age?” The age in question could very well mean, the Judaic Age of the Law and the Mosaic Covenant. It does not necessarily mean the end of the physical world.
3. The Whole Earth or the Whole Land?
As I pointed out in the post above, one of the Greek words used in the Book of Revelations is the word “ge” (Strongs G1093), that is often translated as world. The Apostle John employs both Greek words in his writing.
For instance, from the King James Bible Revelation 13:8, John uses the word kosmos, while in Revelation 12:9, the word, ge is used;
Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
The word “ge” can also be translated as land, referring to the land of Israel. Making it possible for many of the events to be depicted in the book of Revelations to be localized, rather than world wide events.