Foundation Truth ~ Eschatology ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

I. Eschatology

-Eschatology or a study of the end times is a divisive subject in which there is much debate with widely varying opinions.

-Areas of agreement among Christians: Jesus is physically returning to earth; this is the hope of his people. There will be a final judgment of all people – those who belong to him will be with him forever; those who do not will face divine judgment.

-A study of eschatology has these practical benefits: know God as sovereign over history; have hope for the future; be able to endure; reassess values; live a holy life; reach people for Christ; worship God, pursue truth and learn to live with charity toward those who disagree.

Isaiah 46:9-11 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

A. The Intermediate State

1. For unbelievers:

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

Luke 16:22-24 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

2. For believers:

Luke 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Philippians 1:21-23 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

B. The Return of Christ

John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Acts 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Hebrews 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

1. As a Visible Personal Bodily Return (not spiritual coming)

Mark 13:26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

2. As The Hope of the Church

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Titus 2:12-13 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self–controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Corinthians 16:22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! [Maranatha!]

3. As Immanent (could be at any time)

Matthew 24:42-44 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Mark 13:32-37 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake––for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning–– lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 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.

Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

James 5:7-9 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self–controlled and sober–minded for the sake of your prayers.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

C. The Millennium: Revelation 20:1-10

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

1. Amillennial

There is no literal millennium in the sense that a premillennialist would define it. Revelation 20 describes the current situation. Satan's influence over the nations is greatly reduced, allowing the spread of the gospel. Christ is presently ruling over the church. This age will end with the return of Christ, the resurrection and judgment of all people, and will be followed by the eternal state.

-Satan is already bound (Matthew 12:28-29; Luke 10:18)

-There is only one resurrection (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Daniel 12:2)

2. Postmillennial

This age will be characterized by and increase of the church through the spread of the gospel until Christianity becomes dominant and has a pervasive influence in society. This will bring in a millennial age of peace and righteousness. At the end of this period, Christ will return, all people will be resurrected and judged, and the eternal state will follow.

-The great commission implies success in evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20)

-The Parables of the leaven & the mustard tree indicate pervasive growth of the kingdom (Matthew 13:31-33)

3. Premillennial

Christ will return at the end of the church age, believers will be resurrected to reign with Christ on earth for a thousand years; Satan will be completely removed during this time. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released and there will be a final rebellion. After this rebellion is crushed, unbelievers will be resurrected to receive their condemnation. This will be followed by the eternal state.

-Takes Revelation 20 at face value

-The believer's reign with Christ is still future (Luke 19:17,19; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 2:26-27; 3:21)

D. The Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1. Classic or Historic Premillennial (Post-tribulation rapture)

he church age will close with a period of great tribulation, followed by the resurrection of believers; the rapture of living saints, and the return of Christ to establish his kingdom and rule on earth.

-the return of Christ takes place after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21-30)

-the New Testament nowhere clearly states that the church will be taken out of the world prior to the tribulation.

-the New Testament does not divide the return of Christ into two events separated by 7 years

-Christians are prepared to endure suffering in the world (John 17:15; 1 Peter 2:21; 4:14; Romans 8:17; Hebrews 2:10; Revelation 2:10)

-in 2 Thessalonians 2 Paul does not encourage the Thessalonian believers with the hope of avoiding the tribulation.

2. Dispensational Premillennial (Pre-tribulation rapture; assumes Israel and the church are distinct)

he church age will close when Christ returns to resurrect believers and catch away the saints to meet him in the air. The church will be with Christ in heaven during the 7 years of tribulation on earth. At the end of the tribulation, Jesus with his Church will return to rule over the earth.

-the great tribulation is a time of the outpouring of God's wrath; therefore it would not be appropriate for Christians to be on the earth (Romans 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10)

-views the millennium as the fulfillment of God's promises to national Israel

-answers the question of where the unbelievers in the millennium come from (Revelation 20:7-9; physical descendants of non-glorified Jewish believers. See Isaiah 65)

-seems to do justice to the immanence of Christ's return (see above)

-the millennium serves to demonstrate the depth of our tendency toward sin and God's justice toward us.

3. Pre-Wrath Rapture (Mid-tribulation rapture)

The first three and a half years of the tribulation are characterized by the wrath of man, and the church is present at that time; the last three and a half years are characterized by the wrath of God, during which time the church is absent.

-Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7, 11 and Revelation 12:14 divide the seven year tribulation into two three and a half year sections.

-the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:12-15) is identified with the trumpet of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:52)

D. The Final Judgment

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ... 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 13:39-43 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law–breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

Revelation 20:11-14 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Judgment of Believers: Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10