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THEOLOGY > Future > Considerations > Eschatological Perspective    


In light of the pressing exegetical, theological, and chronological questions involved in Biblical eschatology perhaps the overall approach to end-time events should be reconsidered in terms of the eschatological perspective of the Bible. Is it possible that these perplexing  problems of synthesis reside in our necessity to organize the Biblical teaching regarding the future? The various eschatological views reflect the desire to make sense of the seemingly conflicting themes found in Scripture. And in the attempt to harmonize the themes, a chronology is established, with exact events occurring at specific times. For example, with regards to the idea of judgment, either one judgment, two judgments, and even seven judgments have been suggested. It is obvious that this attempt to harmonize all eschatological teaching in an exact chronology cannot be done successfully.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to unite properly all the concepts that are found in the Scriptures, especially if attention is given to the details related to end-time events. Additionally, the interpretation and systematization are complicated by apocalyptic language (see: Apocalyptic Literature), which contains the challenge of deciding what is symbolic and what is literal in the details. Within this mixture is the determination by the interpreter to remain loyal to a chronology that consciously or unconsciously guides his interpretation. And herein is a great part of the dilemma, the desire to so synthesize the details so a complete and definitive chronology can be established.

But eschatological teaching is not intended to establish a strict chronology but to communicate major events that will characterize the end-time. And these events may merge themselves together or may be extended over a period of time—the point is that a full graph cannot be created. The outline, if that word can be used of Biblical teaching, is broad based and without precise definition.

In the Old Testament future events are predicted, with some being near and some far into the future. An example would be the coming of the Messiah and His rule—Jews believed that when the Messiah appeared He would destroy their enemies and establish peace and prosperity.  They failed to grasp the distance between the two events. It was incomprehensible to them that the Messiah could come and be slain and then return in triumph at a later date. For this reason they could not identify Christ with the Messiah. The real problem was that their perspective was not the perspective of the text. And so it is with events of the Second Coming. Regarding the broader picture of eschatology, several themes seem to be unmistakably established by Scripture:

One, toward the end-time there will be a period of unimaginable trouble and suffering (see: The Great Tribulation and The Antichrist).

Two, the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth (see: The Blessed Hope).

Three, when He returns He will rule on this present earth for a period of time (see: The Millennium).

Four, when He returns the believers will be raised (see: The First Resurrection and First Means First).

Five, all individuals will be judged and their destiny for eternity will be determined by God (see: Reality of Judgement).

Six, in eternity believers will be with the Lord and enjoy blessing, while unbelievers will be separated from the Lord and endure suffering.

Pressing chronological concerns are lessened if a broader perspective is employed, especially regarding the judgment. If this is not done, then it is difficult to know how to answer the numerous questions that arise and with the answers properly relate the various themes. A broader perspective may not reconcile all the themes in an acceptable manner, but it does provide a framework for a more comprehensive and integrative eschatological viewpoint.

The goal is to discern the general unfolding of the end-time events without restricting the texts to a certain outline. Every believer must be reminded that apart from the assured six beliefs listed above, there is no place for dogmatism and separation from other believers over issues of eschatology (see: Eschatological Humility).

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