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SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY ESCHATOLOGY Part 3 of 4

Written by: Hillebrand, Randall    Posted on: 04/21/2005

Category: Theology


SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY,  ESCHATOLOGY

RANDALL J. HILLEBRAND

OUTLINE:

ESCHATOLOGY

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

ESCHATOLOGY

By: RANDALL J. HILLEBRAND

OUTLINE:

ESCHATOLOGY

I.  Hermeneutics and eschatology
    A.  Literal interpretation
    B.  Historical interpretation
    C.  Grammatical interpretation
    D.  Contextual interpretation
    E.  Dispensational interpretation
        1.  Definition of dispensations
        2.  Dispensations (economies)
        3.  Means of salvation in each economy --  By faith

II.  Millennial views
      A.  Postmillennialism
      B.  Amillennialism
      C.  Premillenialism

III.  Rapture views
      A.  Posttribulational
      B.  Midtribulational
      C.  Partial rapture
      D.  Prewrath
      E.  Pretribulational

IV.  Understanding the "Day of the Lord"
      A.  What is the day of the Lord?
          1.  Definition -- Isaiah 13:6-16,14:1-7; 2 Peter 3:10
          2.  Characteristics of the tribulation portion of the day of the Lord.
      B.  When will the day of the Lord occur? -- Mal. 4:5; 1 Thes. 5:1-3;
          2 Thes. 2:1-12
          1.  After the coming of Elijah the prophet -- Malachi 4:5-6;
              Luke 1:13-17
          2.  After the rapture of the church -- 2 Thes. 2:1-3,7-8
          3.  Like a thief in the night -- 1 Thes. 5:1-3

  V.  Understanding 2 Thessalonians 2
      A.  Issue: The rapture and the day of the Lord -- vss. 1-2
      B.  Chronology of the onset of: The day of the Lord -- vss. 3-12
          1.  The apostasy must come first -- vs. 3a
          2.  The man of lawlessness is then revealed -- vss. 3b-5
          3.  The man of lawlessness will be revealed after the restrainer is
              removed -- vss. 6-12

VI.  Tribulation Period events
      A.  Chronology from Matthew 24-25
          1.  Chronology of tribulation events: Matthew 24:1-31
          2.  Preparation for the tribulation and related events -- Matthew
              24:32-25:46
      B.  Chronology from the book Revelation and other passages

VII.  Tribulation period progresses like labor pains (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

VIII. Trumpet Issues Relating to End Time Events

IX.  Miscellaneous note on Prophecy
      A.  Pretribulational rapture
      B.  Judgment
      C.  Tribulation period
      D.  Millennial kingdom
      E.  Eternity
IV.  Understanding the "Day of the Lord"

IV.  Understanding the "Day of the Lord"

    A.  What is the day of the Lord?

        I will begin to define the day of the Lord from Isaiah 13:6.  But for introduction, I need to speak about double prophecies. 

        Double prophecies have two fulfillment's.  Usually one takes places in a short period of time after the prophecy is made and the other much later, even hundred or thousands of years later.  This passage is a case in point.  The first fulfillment was when the Medes and Persians came and conquered Babylon, though as we will see, this event was not a complete fulfillment of this passage.  The second fulfillment will take place during the tribulation period when God pours out His wrath on the Gentile nations.

        1.  Definition -- Isaiah 13:6-16; Joel 2:30-31; 3:1-17; 2 Peter 3:10-
            12; Rev. 6:12-17

            Isaiah 13 states that the day of the Lord will be a time of judgment upon the upon the whole earth.  We also see in this passage that it is a time that is defined by cosmic events which we see defined in Rev. 6:12-17 which take place at the end of the first half of the tribulation period.  Therefore we see that the day of the Lord is a time period which finds its beginning during the tribulation period.  Other passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Joel 2:30-31 state the same fact. 

            Second Peter 3:10 seems to indicate that the day of the Lord includes that time from the beginning of the tribulation period through the destruction of the current heavens and earth, encompassing the millennial kingdom as well.  I say that because it states that the day of the Lord comes like a thief (cf. 1 Thes. 5:2).  There is only one event given for that time period that comes unexpectedly, without a time frame, and that is the inauguration of the tribulation period which is preceded by the rapture of the church. Therefore, the day of the Lord will begin sometime after the tribulation period begins, ending with the destruction of the heavens and the earth.  It is then both a time of judgment for the Gentile nations and a time of blessing for the believer.  Therefore it is more then just a time of tribulation, though the majority of the prophecies relating to it does focus on God's judgment.

        2.  Characteristics of the tribulation portion of the day of the Lord.

            The tribulation period of the day of the Lord is going to be a terrible time for the people on the earth as God pours out His judgments.  The following passages will give us a better understanding of this fact.

            a.  Jeremiah 30:4-7

                "Now these are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, 5 "For thus says the LORD, 'I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. 6 'Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? 7 'Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress, But he will be saved from it."

            b.  Zephaniah 1:14

                "Near is the great day of the LORD, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly."

            c.  Joel 2:1 

                "Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near,"

            d.  Joel 2:11 

                "And the LORD utters His voice before His army; Surely His camp is very great, For strong is he who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, And who can endure it?"

            e.  Joel 2:31 

                "The sun will be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."

            f.  Obadiah 1:15 

                "For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be done to you. Your dealings will return on your own head."

            As we can see, it is not a time during which people will want to be alive and have to face.  It is a frightening time of God's wrath.


    B.  When will the day of the Lord occur? -- Mal. 4:5; 1 Thes. 5:1-3;
        2 Thes. 2:1-12

        1.  After the coming of Elijah the prophet -- Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-
            17

            a.  Malachi 4:5-6

                "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.  And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse."

                This prophecy spoke of John the Baptist.  This can be clearly seen in Luke 1:13-17.

            b.  Luke 1:13-17

                "But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 "And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb. 16 "And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 "And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

                This prophecy was not completely fulfilled in John the Baptist because the Jews rejected and killed him.  So it will be fulfilled in another because Jesus stated in Matthew 17:11-13, 

                "And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.  Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist."

                So according to these passages another will come in the spirit of Elijah and he will be the complete fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi.  Who will this be?

                But for now we can say that Elijah did come through John the Baptist, placing the time table of the day of the Lord after his life here on earth.  But we can also say that this day will come after the next Elijah comes on the scene.  When will this be?  I believe that the second person who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah is one of the two witnesses that will come in the first half of the tribulation period (cf. Rev. 11:5-6).  The two witnesses will perform miracles similar to those of Elijah and Moses (cf.  Rev. 11:5-6).  So I believe it will be one of these two prophets that will be the fulfillment.  Then, after they are killed and resurrect, the day of the Lord will begin, that being in very last days of the first  half of the tribulation period.

                Now we will look at two other passages that will give us an indication of when and how the day of the Lord will come.  Please turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:1.

        2.  After the rapture of the church -- 2 Thes. 2:1-3,7-8
            a.  The apostasy must come first -- vss. 1-3b
                  1)  Context of passage -- vss. 1-3a

                      "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him"

                      In verse 1 we see that the context of this passage is the rapture of the church ("our gathering together to Him") (cf. John 14:1-4).  Paul then tells the Thessalonians in verse 2:

                      "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."

                      Someone had told the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had begun.  They were experiencing persecution and believed that they had missed the rapture and were now in the midst of the tribulation period.  So Paul wants to calm their hearts and let them know that they had not been left behind as they thought they had been.  We see four pieces of evidence for this in this chapter:

                      a.  verse 2 -- "that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed..."
                      b.  verse 3 -- "Let no one in any way deceive you..."
                      c.  verse 5 -- "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?"
                      d.  verse 15 -- "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

                      Paul had previously taught them about the rapture and the coming day of the Lord in person and through his first letter to them, 1 Thessalonians.  Now he is confirming and adding to what he had taught them so they will have a better understanding of these events.  That is why he stated in verse 15 that they were to stand firm and hold to the traditions they were taught when he was with them or from his letters.

                      He then said in the beginning of verse 3 that the day of the Lord cannot come unless the apostasy comes first.  The big question is, "What is the apostasy?"

                  2)  The apostasy -- vs. 3b

                      Let's begin by defining this term:

                      DEF: apostasy -- lit., the falling away.  This then is either a revolt, departure or an abandoning of a position once held.

                      Now preceding the word apostasy in the English is a definite article, the word, "the."  So "the" apostasy must take place before the day of the Lord occurs.  So this is a very specific event that will occur at some point in time.  There are three views as to what the apostasy means:

                      a)  A reference to the apostasy of the church.

                          As was stated above, the Thessalonians believed that the rapture had occurred and that the day of the Lord had begun.  So therefore, before the day of the Lord can occur, the rapture must first take place.  Since the indication is that the day of the Lord begins in the second half of the tribulation period (cf. Joel 2:31; Isa. 13:10), this then leaves the possibility open for a midtribulational rapture.  The problem with a midtribulational rapture is that this would not allow for an imminent return of Christ which the Scriptures clearly teach.  Therefore I will present this passage from a pretribulational rapture viewpoint.

                          One possibility is that the apostasy is that of the church.  "The apostasy" being a specific event would mean that it would need to take place at a specific point in time.  In other words, the church would have to turn away from Christ all at once.  This could possibly take place immediately after the rapture since the  church would only be made up of so-called believers who will not be true followers of Christ.  But this is unlikely since during the tribulation many will turn to Christ "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" (Rev. 7:9-14).  Therefore, during the tribulation period there will be an active church as the gospel will be proclaimed throughout the world (cf. Mat. 24:14).

                          Another explanation of the apostasy is that it is a reference to the rapture.

                      b)  A reference to the rapture.

                          Though this is not a widely held view, it is a viable option that is likely to be the correct interpretation.  Since the word apostasy means, "departure," this could be translated,

                          "for it will not come unless the 'departure' comes first."

                          So what Paul would be saying is that the day of the Lord will not come until the departure or rapture comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed. 

                          The last view, which again is not very popular, is that the apostasy is a reference to the apostasy of Israel.

                      c)  A reference to the apostasy of Israel.

                          This view has a lot of merit because the first major prophetic event that will happen after the rapture is the signing of a peace accord between Israel and the Anti-Christ.  We see this in Daniel 9:27:

                          "And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

                          So if Paul is referring here to the signing of this peace accord, then after our gathering together, Israel will completely turn away from and abandon God by aligning himself with that one who is the false Christ -- the Anti-Christ -- looking to him for direction and protection.  The nation of Israel was never to sign a peace agreement with an enemy of God, for their protection was the Lord.  We see this in a passage like Exodus 34:12-17 which says:

                          "Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13"But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14—for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. 17"You shall make for yourself no molten gods."

                          And also Isaiah 30:1-3 says:

                          "Woe to the rebellious children," declares the LORD,
                        "Who execute a plan, but not Mine,
                        And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit,
                    In order to add sin to sin;
                        2 Who proceed down to Egypt
                        Without consulting Me,
                  To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh
                  And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
                        3 "Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame
                    And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your
                          humiliation."

                          Though the Anti-Christ will not set himself up as God in the temple until 3 1/2 years after he signs this agreement with Israel, and though Israel does not realize who they are signing the agreement with, we can see from the description of the Anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 why God would consider this "the apostasy."

                          "who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

                          So taking the apostasy as either a reference to the rapture or the signing of the peace accord between Israel and the Anti-Christ, we can see that the day of the Lord can only occur after one of these two events which will occur after the rapture.

            b.  The man of lawlessness must be revealed -- vss. 3c,7-8a

                Another indication that we see from this passage as to the timing of the day of the Lord is after the man of lawlessness is revealed.  As we will see later in verses 7 and 8, he will not be revealed until after the restrainer, the Holy Spirit via the church, is removed through the rapture.

                Another passage that explains how the day of the Lord will come is in 1 Thessalonians 5.  If you would please turn there.

        3.  Like a thief in the night -- 1 Thes. 5:1-3

            a.  It will come like a thief in the night -- vss. 1-2

                DEF: epochs -- dates (NIV), seasons (KJV); events

                Paul is telling the Thessalonians that as far as the times and events that surround the coming day of the Lord, they did not need to be instructed.  Paul had already instructed them on this and told them that it would come just like a thief in the night.  How does a thief come?  Unexpectedly, when no one is ready for him.  That is the way the day of the Lord will come upon the inhabitants of the earth.  Paul then gives two other indications about how the day of the Lord will come in the next verse.

            b.  It will come while people will be saying peace and safety -- vs. 3a

                People ("they"; compare to 4:17, "we") will be saying, "Peace and Safety!," then destruction will come upon them (not us).

                When then will this time of peace and safety take place.  I believe that this is a reference to the period of time after the rapture.  Though there will be much turmoil and upheaval on the earth immediately following our gathering together to Christ, it will be shortly after that the peace accord will be signed between Israel and the Anti-Christ.  After this agreement is made and the world is united under the "savior of the world" -- the Anti-Christ -- then people will be saying peace and safety.  But then shortly after this destruction will come upon them unexpectedly as the six seal judgments begin to be released from heaven.

                Verse 3 also says that the day of the Lord will come upon the people of the earth like birth pangs upon a woman with child, and they will not be able to escape.

            c.  It will come upon them like labor upon a woman -- vs. 3b

                How does labor come upon a woman?  Slowly.  Then it increases the closer she gets to delivery as the pain gets stronger and more intense.  How descriptive this is of the tribulation period when it says, "then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

                So this is a description of the day of the Lord, that time period which begins during the tribulation period (cf. Joel 2:30-31) and concludes with the destruction of the current heavens and the earth.

                Now we need to look closer at 2 Thessalonians 2 to better understand this passage.


V.  Understanding 2 Thessalonians 2

    A.  Issue: The rapture and the day of the Lord -- vss. 1-2

        "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."

        This purpose of this chapter is to explain to the Thessalonians that they the rapture had not yet taken place and that the day of the Lord had not yet begun

    B.  Chronology of the onset of: The day of the Lord -- vss. 3-12

        1.  The apostasy must come first -- vs. 3a

            "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first"

            For the day of the Lord to begin, we see that "the apostasy" must take place first; the apostasy being defined as either the rapture of the church or the final turning away of the nation of Israel from God when they will sign the peace accord with the Anti-Christ (see points a-c under point IV, B, 2, a, 2 above, for an explanation of "the apostasy.").

        2.  The man of lawlessness is then revealed -- vss. 3b-5

            "and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.  Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?"

            Then, after this apostasy takes place, then "the man of lawlessness" -- the Anti-Christ -- will be revealed.

        3.  The man of lawlessness will be revealed after the restrainer is removed -- vss. 6-12

            "And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.  Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

              The question we need to ask is, "Who is the restrainer?"  Verse 7 gives us an indication when it says that the restrainer is already restraining lawlessness.  Who or what is able to restrain lawlessness in this world?  Well, it is clear from this text that the Thessalonians knew who the restrainer was.  Paul told them in verse 5 that he had already told them about these things when he was with them.  And then in verse 6, when Paul talks about the Anti-Christ he said, "And you know what restrains him now."  And then in verse 7 Paul calls the restrainer, "he," twice.  So we know that the restrainer is a person that restrains sin in the world.  This of course could only be one person, the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who restrains sin through the presence of the church as well as through His ministry of convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment as described in John 16:7-11.  So then, when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, then the man of lawlessness will be revealed. 

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