In this installment I get to the purpose of this series, “Why Eschatology is Important.” My motivation for writing this is that I have noticed that one’s eschatological persuasion influences almost every other element of theology. An errant eschatology is the root of numerous heresies from pluralism to “kingdom now” theology. I am also writing this because I have had friends say to me, “We really can’t know anything about all of that, so it’s a waste of time.” There are a number of problems with that view.
First, Jesus spoke on it at length in the kingdom parables, the two Olivet discourses, and in the book of Revelation. Some make the error of making it plural “Revelations”, yet verse one is explicit, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,” (Re 1:1). The revelation from Father to Son to angel to disciple to you and me, this is a great privilege! Not to mention, the book of Revelation is the only book of the bible that promises a special blessing to those who study it (Re 1:3). Furthermore, Titus 2:12-13 infers that waiting for our blessed hope is an incentive to Godliness. Peter even speaks of “speeding its coming” (2 Pet. 3:12). Since the Lord and the disciples thought it was that important for us, shouldn’t we study it diligently?
Next, eschatology is a major theme of the Old Testament. God inspired the prophets and apostles to write a plethora of apocalyptic material. For instance, Isaiah 34:1–8 and Obadiah 15 describe a Day of the Lord when God will judge all nations of the world. Joel 3:1–16 and Zechariah 14:1–3, Zec. 14:12–15 refer to a Day of the Lord that will involve God’s judgment of the armies of all the nations of the world, when those armies gather to wage war against Israel and the city of Jerusalem. The ramifications for world politics are enormous. Have you ever considered how your vote plays a part? God went to great lengths to deliver and preserve his word; we ought to take it seriously.
Another reason is that, as Isaac Newton observed, God held the first century Jews accountable for knowing prophecy. It is likely he will us as well. In fact, Jesus taught that we have a responsibility to know prophecy and keep watch. “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mt 25:13) “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (Lk 21:34) Paul confirms this in his letter to the Thessalonians, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” (1 Th 5:2-5)
My reason for walking through the visions in Daniel was to demonstrate that God has written the future in advance and that the Jewish Messianic expectation of a political kingdom was (is) justified. The Scriptures certainly teach that God created the universe for His own purposes (Rev. 4:11). As a result, the heavenly and earthly realms are owned and ultimately ruled by God (1 Chr. 29:11–12; 2 Chr. 20:6 Ps. 47:2; Ps. 103:19; Ps. 135:6; Isa. 40:12–26; Jer. 10:7, 10; Dan. 4:17, Dan. 4:34; Acts 17:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 5:13). Yet they are now under the rule of a usurper. Mankind was given dominion over the earth in Genesis 1:26, yet Satan took it away when he enticed Adam to disobey God. Satan is god of this present world system. Jesus said it twice, (Jn 14:30; Jn 12:31) Paul taught it, (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph 2:2) and John,
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)
The protoevangelium (first gospel) of Genesis 3:15 prophesied that the seed of the woman would one day crush his head. Like bookends, I believe this event is also prophesied in Revelation 20. Now we patiently await His return. He is coming!
Just before the ascension (Acts 1:6) the disciples ask Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Did Jesus say, “Sorry guys not going to happen, Israel forfeited?”
He says “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”
It wasn’t for His disciples to know. Yet this infers a future time that God has fixed when He will restore the Kingdom to Israel. This time was prophesied by the prophets and Jesus reveals it explicitly in Revelation 20. In His word He told us to watch (Luke 21:34, Matt 25:14), he gave us signs to watch for (Matt 24:6-8, 2 Tim 3:13, 1 Tim 4:1-2, 2 Pet. 3:3-14, Jude 16-18, 2 Tim. 3:4-5). It is our blessed hope (Tit 2:13). We are told to pray “Thy Kingdom Come” and to “speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:12). The future Kingdom that bible believing Christians are eagerly anticipating also delineates a major division in biblical theology, millennial views.