What starting point enables us to put prophecy into perspective?
The prophets “searched diligently” to understand what “the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify” (1 Peter 1:11). We also need to search diligently to know who is speaking, what is spoken, to whom, and for what purpose. The time frame of the fulfillment is also vital. Prophecy has three themes: Christ, His suffering and glory; Israel’s future and the nations’ destiny.
The New Testament is an infallible guide in the way it interprets Old Testament prophecy. Two facts are plain: Christ is the Key to all prophecy (2 Corinthians 3:14), and interpretation is literal. A virgin did bear a Child in Bethlehem, who grew up in Galilee, was rejected, spit upon, His hands and feet pierced, His face and form marred. He died for sin, but His body could not see corruption and He rose from the dead. These are only ten of hundreds of literal fulfillments. We have no authority to allegorize prophecy; it is to be taken literally.
Can you give some helps for understanding the book of Revelation?
(1) Remember it is a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look for Him everywhere.
(2) The book is divided into “the things which thou hast seen”, “the things which are” and finally “the things which shall be hereafter” (1:19). This three-fold division of the book is helpful to gain an overview. Chapter 1 is the “things which thou hast seen,” chapters 2 and 3 the “things which are,” chapters 4-22 the “things hereafter.”
(3) Care needs to be practiced not to take all events as occurring one right after the other. The book is made up of seven seals, trumpets and bowls. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpets; the seventh trumpet contains the seven bowls. Parenthesis dot the book: 7:1-17; 10:1-11; 14:1-13; 16:13-16; 19:1-6.
(4) Four great scenes occur in heaven and four on earth.
(5) Only interpret symbols by use of other portions of Scriptures. Most symbols in the Revelation appear elsewhere in Scripture. Their interpretation is given there. Interpret literally whenever possible and reasonable.
How soon will Daniel’s 70th Week begin after the Rapture?
When the Church age, the parenthesis between the 69th and the 70th Week (Daniel 9:24-27), is complete, the rapture will take place. The removal of Church saints signals the beginning of prophetic events related to Israel. Then Israel’s prophetic clock will begin to tick. Daniel 9:27 indicates that the confirming of the covenant with many (Israel) for one week commences the 70th Week. The temple will also be rebuilt (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4; Daniel 9:27). These both imply a possible time lapse, although no specific time is mentioned. Recent world happenings in the political arena have taken place swiftly and unexpectedly. How quickly may such events occur after the Church is at home in the glory?
In the book of Revelation, who are the 24 elders?
Interpreters identify the elders as either angelic or human. The former view sees them as a special class of 24 angelic administrators closely linked to the four living creatures and forming part of heaven’s executive council. Others have considered them as symbolic of redeemed humanity, since they sing, “Thou hast redeemed us…” (5:9). Because of textual uncertainty, the Pronoun “us” should probably (RV and JND) be omitted in verse 9. We should certainly read, “made them kings and priests” and “they shall reign” (verse 20). Therefore the elders are not singing of their own redemption, but concerning that of others. There are, however, some offsetting features. In number, they are 24 (a priestly number, 1 Chronicles 24); in dress, they are in white; in position, they are seated on thrones; in dignity, they are crowned. Significantly, all of these have already been said (chapters 1- 3) of the saints in this present era. We are priests (1:5); as overcomers we are promised white robes (3:5), crowns (3:11), and seats on thrones (3:21). Does not the similarity of these markers indicate that chapters 1-3 portray the saints in testimony upon earth, while chapters 4-5 show the same group in triumph under the figure of elders?
How do I respond to those who say there will be no rapture or millennium?
Clear, literal teaching of the Word of God is convincing on this subject. The rapture, meaning “snatched away,” is taught clearly in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus mentioned it in John 14:1-3. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Paul teaches that the dead in Christ will be raised with incorruptible bodies and the living (mortal) will put on immortality and be caught up together (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Seven terrible years, when God’s wrath will be poured out upon the earth (Matthew 24:21), follow the rapture. This concludes when the Lord descends to earth in power and great glory (Revelation 19:11- 21). He will banish Satan to the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2). This millennial reign of Christ on earth is described in the Old Testament (Isaiah 11; Jeremiah 31:31; 40; Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 8-14). In Revelation 20:4-7, the 1000 years are mentioned six times. After the 1000 years, God will create the New Heaven and the New Earth (2 Peter 3:10-13) for His eternal kingdom.