Key Passages


To derive a correct understanding of end-time prophecy we must base our system of interpretation on key passages that are easy to understand, and that have an obvious meaning. Then we should fit the more difficult passages into this framework.

Here are the obvious interpretations of these key passages.

  1. The New Testament writers often re-interpret Old Testament passages.Their interpretation of these passages should be given a high priority. Based on this we can understand that the church is the "true" Israel and that God is finished with Israel in the prophetic scheme of things.
  2. In passage after passage, the second coming of Christ is linked with final judgment. Christ comes to judge, not to set up an earthly kingdom. Therefore, the 1,000 yearmillennium has no place in prophetic understanding.
  3. The book of Revelation is full of symbols, so we should not over-literalize it. We need to understand how the first-century readers understood it and apply the same meanings.

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The Church = true Israel

The interpretation given to Old Testament passages by the New Testament writers should be given top priority in understanding end-time prophecy.Based on this it is clear that:

  1. The church is the "True Israel," and
  2. God is finished with Israel in the prophetic scheme of things.

Christ comes to judge

Christ will come again to the earth but this time He comes for final judgment. The most logical sequence of the events that immediately follow His second coming are:

  1. The resurrection of all people whether dead or living.
  2. The destruction of the earth by fire.
  3. The white throne judgment.
  4. The eternal state.

Every passage concerning the second coming of Christ is most clearly understood in this context. A few examples:

This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14-15)

Notice there is no hint of an intervening 1,000 yearmillennial period after the second coming of Christ.


Revelation has symbolism

In the book of Revelation which has so much symbolism it would be unreasonable to insist that the "1,000 years"of chapter 20 is literal.


Literal interpretation

Biblical prophecy (as well as all of scripture) is to be understood in its literal sense unless the passage is clearly figurative. But there is much in prophecy that is clearly expressed in flowery, symbolic and figurative language. A couple of examples to illustrate the point:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. (Hebrews 9:8)

In the dispensational, premillennial view there will one day be a Jewish temple in which temple worship is significant. But the passage in Hebrews clearly states that there will no longer be a temple.The Jewish temple had to be destroyed because Christ is the mediator who ushers us into God's direct presence. Therefore, the passage in Isaiah must be figurative, not applying to a literal temple in this existing world order. It refers either: (1) to the church which is the temple of God, or (2) to a literal temple in the new heavens and new earth(I accept the 2nd view.)

Another example:

Instead, they will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jeremiah 30:9)

In this passage the word "David" refers to Christ rather than the actual resurrected person of David. But in premillennialism during the 1,000 yearmillennium, the resurrected David rules the kingdom just as he did in Israel but Christ also rules the kingdom this way as well as the resurrected believers. Having all these rulers changes the nature of this kingdom to the point where it has nothing in common with David's kingdom. The problem is solved when we realize this passage from Jeremiah is figurative. The word "David" refers to Christ, the king.

In the new heavens and new earththe resurrected King David will literally rule over the land of Israel and over the 144,000 Jews who choose to live as Jews in the promised land for all eternity. But the passage in Jeremiah has a bigger meaning than just this.