This is an effort to answer some questions from a conversation in another location.
**Disclaimer: Instead of reiterating this too often throughout, I will state this here at the beginning so it can be noted that everything that follows is my personal view as I’ve studied the Bible with the Holy Spirit. There may be some cognitive dissonance associated with reading this. Take what is pertinent to your walk and lay aside what you feel you must. Overall, do not take my word alone, but research for yourself to find the deeper truth relevant to your personal walk with God. **
Does corruption and evil continue forever?
Evil and corruption continues in the physical realm due to man’s free will. This corruption doesn’t exist in the kingdom Jesus rules, but that kingdom isn’t of this physical world as we know it. Generally, it’s our own desires that keep us from living in the kingdom now. What would happen if we lived like the world could continue indefinitely? Are we living out love like Jesus did (all that love your enemy type stuff)? Do we really believe Jesus’ way of love can change the world or are we just holding out until Jesus shows up someday? Jesus showed us the way and Father sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us to remake the world through love (as opposed to law).
Where do the “unsaved” go, Sheol forever?
First, I wanted to mention that I’m not qualified to make the decision of who is saved or not—only Jesus is able to make that call. However, we can get hints of how Jesus made those calls by looking at his ministry in the gospels. Often, it seems the religious leaders were the ones furthest from the truth because their doctrine of heaven worthiness was based on the letter of the law. Throughout his ministry, Jesus turns this thought process on its head.
So, those that don’t make it into heaven, according to what I personally understand, would have indeed gone to what was known as Sheol (at least until the end of the 1000 years) which has been translated into other names in the Bible—death, the grave, the outer darkness (where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth), Hades (which originated as a Greek/pagan concept), etc…but not to be confused with Gehenna. In Revelation, death (Sheol) and Hades (the Greek version of afterlife punishment) are destroyed in the lake of fire, which is called the second death. As Paul states, death (Sheol, captivity to the grave) is the last enemy to be destroyed.
Now, there is another assumption of eternal torment as translated from the words “aionios kolasis.” As I’ve researched these words, they seem to have more of the meaning of “an age of corrective punishment.” See this post if interested. This may have application to us today, but I believe the original context was directed at Israel and a continuation of the Olivet Discourse (denoting Israel’s destruction). In other words, the lake of fire may very well be this “aionios kolasis.” To state it another way, why would Sheol and Hades be destroyed if they were already eternal separation from God and/or burning punishment, just to put into place a different environment of eternal torture and separation? This is going a bit off subject, but if interested in my other thoughts on this, see this post and the bottom of this post about fire.
Is there no apocalypse?
The apocalypse happened in the first century when Rome destroyed Jerusalem and went throughout Judea killing any Jews who didn’t “flee to the mountains.” There isn’t a future (to us) apocalypse denoted in scripture though humanity seems to have developed the capacity to destroy themselves.
What about every eye seeing him?
The verse referred to here is Revelation 1:7. I would like to point out how one small word choice here can vary the meaning of a passage significantly:
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.
Looking at a concordance, the “even” in this verse can also be translated as “namely.” This verse then has the meaning that those, namely the ones that pierced him, will see him in the clouds.
Additionally, the word “peoples” is better understood as “tribes” (and is translated as such in some versions of the Bible). Tribes most often referred to the tribes of Israel.
The words world and earth have various understandings depending on context. In some translations, the end of the world is actually talking about the end of the age (aion – which often denotes the OT kingdom age and the full substantiation of the NT kingdom). In other instances, the heavens and earth are speaking of Israel. For example – in the OT, God calls Israel the heavens and earth (Isaiah 1:2). Additionally, we see that OT destruction didn’t always happen literally in the physical realm as described. Compare Isaiah 13:10&13 to Matthew 24:29. When Babylon was destroyed, we know that the physical earth wasn’t shaken out of its place, yet the prophecy was still considered fulfilled.
Why is there no literature or reports about his coming if it already happened?
First, we have to consider that most Christians had fled Judea—those that kept watch of the signs and fled in advance as directed. Many of the apostles had already died for the gospel at this time. Those that remained in Judea would have been caught in the Roman campaign of extermination. Being that Jerusalem was totally decimated, no text that may have been written would have been salvaged.
However, two historians did record such events:
Josephus, a Jewish historian present during Rome’s campaign, recorded this:
“I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.”
Likewise, the Roman historian Tacitus recorded this:
“In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”
Why are there prophecies still being fulfilled?
I believe this is partially our correlating of scripture written to an ancient eastern culture to our modern-day western culture. The other portion is that history often repeats itself in part or whole. This seems to be largely because we tend to revise history to our liking thereby repeating the mistakes that we’re ignoring. In our modern culture, we’re still pursuing righteousness by law and attempting to force or covert others to follow an external set of mandates to be saved. So, we may see signs that resemble Bible prophecy, but those specific prophecies were fulfilled within their respective time frames as denoted. Modern eschatology is usually delivered with such fear that we tend to ignore the 1st Century time context entirely, or we are made too afraid to openly seek answers.
Additionally, if we consider Hebrews 10:25, first century Christians were seeing implicit signs of the Day approaching then (and how often is this verse used to mandate church attendance while ignoring the timing context?). Likewise, when some thought they had missed the Parousia (because of how implicit the signs were), Paul reaffirms that there was still one major sign to occur. Note in 2 Thessalonians 2, when Paul talks about the “man of lawlessness,” he states that he was already at work but not yet revealed (v7-8). The man of lawlessness would have to be immortal to still be alive today, and Paul delineates that it’s not Satan himself who is this man, but this man is a pawn of Satan (v9).
Now, all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. I tried to stay on topic of the questions presented originally. If there are further questions, I would be happy to try to answer them.
Additionally, here’s an overview of my preterist belief. As well, I made several posts previously about my thoughts on prophecy and Revelation if interested.