|Vol. 2, No. 4||Page 6||April 2000|
One of the most interesting standpoints from which one can approach a study of the Bible is from a view of eschatology. Since the word “eschatology” comes from a Greek word which means “Last things,” when one studies the Bible from this point of view he is looking at the many “last things” upon which the Bible speaks. There are some, such as the premillennialists, who take the position, that every mention of last things, and every prophecy of last things in the Bible refers to the “end of time.” Others want to make all references to last things in the Bible refer to some other event.
When one studies his Bible from the standpoint of the study of last things, or a study of eschatology, he must realize that there is more than one “eschatology” revealed in the Holy Scriptures. For example, when one studies the fall of Israel to Assyria, and the fall of Judah to Babylon, he is studying the last things for those nations at that time. After the destruction of Solomon’s beautiful Temple, and after the Babylonian captivity, neither the tribes who had made up Israel, nor the ones that had made up Judah ever came back to be what they were before destruction came upon them at the hands of their respective enemies. That was an “end time” for that nation as she had been. She simply would never be that way again. Again, an example, the fall of Judah brought to an end the line of Davidic kings ruling on earth. Of Jeconiah, the prophet wrote that he would go down childless, and that there would never be another descendant of David who would rule in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30). There is an eschatology of the Old Testament regarding the antediluvian world, which came to its end in the days of Noah. Furthermore, there is strong prophetic eschatology concerning the final destruction of Jerusalem in both the Old and the New Testaments. So, we can see from these two or three examples that every prophecy, or every passage, that speaks of last things, or the end of a time, is not referring to the end of all time, as one can plainly see, although there is an eschatology in the Bible, mostly in the New Testament regarding that.
New Testament eschatology is threefold in its nature. 1) It plainly teaches the once-for-all abrogation of Judaism, which included the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 AD. There are many passages which teach this, as a matter of fact, too many to list here so we will mention only one along with some parallels (Matthew 24:1-35; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Galatians 4:21-31, along with Matthew 21:33-44; 22:1-10; 23:29-39). Jesus, in his “Olivet Discourse,” depicted many signs to show the end of Judaism. People speak today of the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, and some day they may build a temple, but it will not be one in which God dwells, nor one in which the Levitical priesthood will serve. We say this for two reasons: a) The books of genealogy are all destroyed, and there is not a Jew on earth today who knows what tribe from which he came. Though the modern Jews claim that the Cohen’s are of the tribe of Levi, this is just an empty claim because there is absolutely no way of proving that, since there are no books of genealogy, and therefore it should be given no serious credence. The worship of the Temple will never be restored upon this earth because due to the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus, and demanded his death upon the cross they came to their last times. b) If the Temple is to be rebuilt, if the Levitical priesthood is restored, then the whole book of Hebrews is nothing more than the meanderings of some demonic mind and should be removed from the pages of Holy Scripture.
2) New Testament eschatology also predicts a great tribulation to come upon the church in the first four centuries of her existence. There had been persecution at the hands of the Jews, but after the fall of Jerusalem, the Jews had neither the ability nor the will to persecute the church. However, it was very different with the Roman government. This persecution began in the days of Nero Caesar, and continued down until the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire. Some think that persecution came to an end with the conversion of Constantine, but such was not the case in the western part of that world (See: Matthew 24:36¾25:46).
3) There is clearly a New Testament eschatology which the first two anticipate. There will be a final advent of Christ over the world to judge her in righteousness. This is so plainly taught in the New Testament that one would be hard-pressed to interpret the passages otherwise. Such passages as Acts 17:29-31; Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; Hebrews 9:27-28 are among the many that one finds in the New Testament. Eschatology is certainly a fascinating study.