Memories of Studying Revelation and the End Times
Posted February 23, 2018 by Amy Wang
Recently, I posted a series of articles on the End Times. A lot of this material was sitting on my computer idle, some for months and some for years. This was partly because some people told me they didn't care so much about end times theology. Some jokingly told me they were pan-millennialists. They believed it would all "pan out in the end."
The photo at left is from a Half Price bookstore I visited last summer, one that sells a variety of used books. I perused a couple of bookshelves full of books on the end times, looking through their Table of Contents, and so on, only to find a handful that seemed to favor the post-tribulation rapture view of historic premillennialism, the predominant view of the early church. (See the three that I laid horizontally in the photo.) I've had similar experiences in a seminary library. Nowadays, too many books contain the mistaken pre-tribulation rapture, the view that the church will be raptured away before the tribulation of the end. In my article, "Debunking the False Hope of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture," I explain why I think this view is mistaken, even though on the surface it may seem true. In my other article, "Why the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Deception Thrived," I also share the history of this dubious doctrine. This is a recent theory popularized since the 1830s, which cherry-picks Bible verses, and reads into them an interpretation that leaves behind other parts of the bible. Several years ago, one of the few, rare post-tribulation books I found at a seminary library, edited by Blomberg and Chung, explained why the truth on this subject isn't as popular as fiction . I think the crux of it was as follows: There are few spokesmen for the truth, and they tend to be academic. They don't produce as many bestsellers, movies, boardgames, and so on. Also, weeping Jeremiah's are just not so popular, even if they are right.
Deceptions Galore: Investigating Date-Setting and Private Revelations
Regarding the end times, you may be even more familiar with predictions of the end of the world. Many date-setters never stop. When their predictions fail, they simply proceed to their next date prediction. I still remember many years ago, I taught my Sunday School class the Bible verse that indicates that none of us knows the day or hour of Jesus' return (Matthew 24:36). I taught it not long before Harold Camping's end of the world prediction of May 21, 2011, and sure enough, nothing happened that day.
I'll admit I've had my fill of fear and confusion, though, from people who claimed to have private revelations of the end times, because I couldn't find scriptures to disprove their private revelations. However, I have since learned that if there is no way to test someone else's private revelation, then I can probably safely ignore it. The Bible tells us to examine everything, so I think if we can't test someone's message, we are not obligated to heed it. For the most part, I think common sense measures of precaution are good enough. I really appreciate the following observation of Paul Thigpen:
"We should repeat here the important truth that Christians can spend a lifetime without ever delving into private revelations and still find all the grace they need to gain eternal life with God in heaven." 
Reading Revelation's Roadmap in Perilous Times
In 2013, when I turned on the TV and noticed the decline of the world, I became depressed by it. Seeing the perilous times (2Timothy 3:1,13), I started studying the end times in greater detail. At that time, I found a bible study on the book of Revelation at a nearby University that welcomed me even though I was no longer a student. Here, I came to better understand the literary structure and rich symbolism behind Revelation. See my Revelation Roadmap: Outline of the End Times. This article also includes insights from a book by James McConkey, an author I learned about through William Borden's biography.
Meeting a Messianic Jew who Helped Me Cope with Diverse End Times Perspectives
At a small group, I also met a messianic Jew who had a fascinating testimony. At that time, I was grappling with the end times, so I asked him a lot of questions. After all, there are so many diverse perspectives. He shared his view of historic premillenialism and how he disagreed with preterism, a view which claims most prophecies were already fulfilled in the first century. In fact, he told me that the Old Testament prophets talk more about Jesus' second coming than the first. That opened my eyes, and I started to reread the Old Testament prophets looking for the parts that relate to the future, such as the passages on the Day of the Lord. In my article: "End Times Buffet: Coping With Diverse Perspectives," I critique the various perspectives, from the standpoint of historic premillennialism. As for solid resources, he only recommended one website, and though I may not agree on everything, I think it's one of the better resources out there: Mike Bickle End Times Resources.
This Messianic Jewish brother also shared great insights into how God was fulfilling the end times plan. For example, he talked about the dead bones prophecy of Ezekiel, in which God would breathe life back into the dead bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 11:15, Jeremiah 32:39-40). In other words, the Bible predicted a spiritual revival of Israel, i.e., a return of Jews to Jesus. One turning point was the Six-Day War of 1967, in which it seems a miracle happened. Around that same time was also the Jesus movement. These two events contributed to a small revival in the USA, in which Jews began coming to Christ, and some synagogues were worshiping Jesus. I visited one such synagogue, where Jews were dancing in a circle to worship Jesus. He also talked about the revival of the usage of Hebrew language in Israel (Zephaniah 3:9).
I've since done further research into the fulfillment of prophecies for Israel. Other events of note include the founding of the nation of Israel in 1948, which seems to be a fulfillment of prophecy (Amos 9:14-15, Isaiah 66:7-8). Previously, the Jews were scattered to the kingdoms of the earth in the Jewish Diaspora (Deuteronomy 28:25,64-66, Hosea 9:17, Zechariah 7:14), but there are prophecies about Israelites being regathered (Isaiah 11:10-12, Jeremiah 32:37, Ezekiel 20:34,20:41, Isaiah 43:5-6), planted back into their land (Jeremiah 32:41), and also being able to purchase land (Jeremiah 32:44). Finally, Zechariah 12:3 also says Jerusalem will become a heavy stone for all peoples, and the nations will gather against it. Well, as we know, Jerusalem is a very contentious ground these days, so perhaps this will not come as a surprise.
It's been many years since I started studying Revelation. Every now and then, I study it a little more and come across a new insight. Someone explained learning to interpret the Bible is like a spiral-- the more we study it, the more our understanding grows. Sometimes the second or third time, we notice something we did not see the first time.
Sadly, one of the books pictured above, The Lion and the Lamb, is probably out of print now.  I have cited some of the author's research in my writing. There are quite a number of other precious gems I have also found over time, which seem doctrinally sound. Some of them you can find by checking out the References at the end of the articles. Indeed, sometimes when one feels like a lone Elijah, it helps to be reminded that there are still many others who are with you (Romans 11:4).
- Blomberg, Craig L. and Sung Wook Chung, editors. A Case for Historic Premillenialism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2009. p. 13 [Timothy P. Weber, chapter 1. “Dispensational and Historic Premillenialism as Popular Millennialist Movements”]
- Thigpen, Paul. The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to “End Times” Fever. Westchester, PA: Ascension Press, L.L.C., 2002. p.235
- Newport, John P. The Lion and the Lamb: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation for Today. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986.
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- Memories of Studying Revelation and the End Times
- Stay Calm and Strong in the End Times
- Debunking the False Hope of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture
- Revelation Roadmap: Outline of the End Times
- End Times Theology Buffet: Coping With Options
- Why the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Deception Thrived
NOTE: This website is not affiliated with the journal Faith and Philosophy.