Several of my recent posts have been about the prophecies of Jesus and the reiterations by the apostles in the 1st century. I’ve finished one leg of this journey in studying the overall time frame and audience to whom these scripture were directed. I feel led to research more in-depth some sticking points that didn’t quite sit well with me on my initial study. Please note these are my current views as I study these topics more. They are by no means set in stone as I continue to “think out loud” through my blogging.
Based on the terminology such as: soon, this generation, and some standing here will in no way taste of death, I believe that all of the prophecies were defined as happening in that time period. This seems to have been in reference to the Jewish-Roman war from 66-73 AD, the climactic event being the destruction of the temple in 70. There are many descriptions that sync well with this viewpoint, however there are a few that I’m still leery of and that I’m circling back to for more study.
One of the major sticking points for me comes from passages like Matt 24:30. I’ve studied this some, but I’m still in the process of reviewing more sources. This is probably one of the main topics that requires more consideration before I begin in depth on Revelation. While Matt 16:27-28 hints that this happened already, it still deserves further research and consideration.
There seems to be three major viewpoints here as relevant to the surrounding passages:
1. This hasn’t happened yet
2. This happened on the spiritual plane
3. This was symbolic
I currently have my suspicions about all three of these approaches. Jesus lays out the timetable as to all of those things happening. The first point doesn’t seem likely based on this. Why would Jesus and the apostles make reference to this as soon? I’m still, however, researching a more definitive explanation as to this.
The second point seeks to explain this away too easily. I can’t accept such an assumption without further investigation first.
The third point seems to make more sense so far with what I’ve been able to research. Prophecy states very similar symbolism multiple times throughout the Old Testament. However, I have to do more scriptural comparison to fully accept this.
That said, here’s a few things I’ve come to understand a little better so far:
Are there parts of the prophecies relevant to our day?
In all prophecy, there seemed to be a warning, as pertinent to the people of that time, that would legitimize the message. Some type of evidence seemed to be given that the message was real. This warning may have been stated specifically in scripture or implied that it was given. For example, in Jonah, Nineveh seems to almost instantly believe the message of the prophet, though he was from an enemy nation. I believe this to be because the people of Nineveh originally believed he was a prophet from their fish-god, Dagon. When Jonah showed up looking and smelling very fishy and said that Yahweh was the one who sent him, that Yahweh commanded the giant fish to spit him out, this would have been seen as an extremely vital message to heed. God sent a message to Nineveh that they would undoubtedly understand based on their current system of beliefs. Likewise, Jesus himself went to his people to deliver his prophetic message of the coming destruction.
My point is, with all prophecies there is activity of God and warnings that would be readily identifiable to the people of the coming destruction, though often they may not have listened. In some ways, the Jewish prophecies have been retrofitted to fit to our current age’s situations. However, while prophecies over the old ages did have similar messages, they always seemed to have a forewarning directed to that particular society in a way that was undeniably from God. Regardless of what some may claim today, no such prophecy has been delivered to us in a way that would be relevant. In general, the original recipients of each prophecy understood what was being communicated and the details of the signs. Prophecy was meant to warn, not confuse, the intended recipients. To me, the Biblical prophecies of destruction weren’t directed to our age, otherwise they would have a more specified time frame instead of the soon terminology.
In other words, wouldn’t God communicate any prophetic warnings to our society in a way relevant to us today and that we could readily understand? Perhaps he will if applicable to future generations, but it doesn’t seem he has as of yet.
As I’ve began to study more in-depth of what was meant by Jesus coming in the clouds and the celestial references, I’ve come across a few correlating prophetic passages. In Isaiah 13:10&13 we see very similar references to celestial events in Matt 24:29 and the entrance with the angel armies in Matt 16:27-28. We know that the fall of Babylon referenced was a historical event, but was the physical earth shaken out of its’ place? In both cases, I would have to defer to symbolism and not take this to mean that prophecy wasn’t fulfilled. We see similar symbolism in Isaiah 24:19-20 and 34:3-4. Nahum 1:3-6 also makes these kinds of references.
Likewise, we see a similar coming to earth by God in Micah 1:3-4. Comparing the symbolism in this passage to that of Jesus’ coming in the clouds and the destruction of that time, we see similarities that can more readily explain these references. However, the physical heaven and earth that we know wasn’t destroyed at any point in these prophecies. Instead, catastrophic events took place that was the end of that societies’ “world.”
In conclusion, it would seem that God always warned a society in ways that were directly relevant to them and that those people would not mistake. No such warning has been shown to us today. Could it be that we are already living in the new “world” or age in the sense that the Bible describes?
The Biblical prophecies were written to other societies as specified in their individual passages. Eastern symbolism is heavily used in these messages though the events didn’t literally transpire in those ways. Yet, we still consider that when destruction was wrought on the Old Testament societies, the prophecies were fulfilled. Shouldn’t the New Testament prophecies be considered complete as the same symbolism is used and was referencing (in my opinion) the end of the Jewish age?