Summary: About prophecy gaps, kingdom now, the seven churches of Revelation, and more. A series of sermonettes about the end of all things.
The gap in Biblical prophecy
It's hard for me to forget that time years ago when I was discussing the prophetic" gap" on a blog, and a reader responded that the only gap of which he had been made aware was the one between my ears.
Well, I may still be a bit brain challenged, but the Scriptures are what they are, and I am fascinated by the consistency of Old Testament prophecy. New Testament, too, for that matter. They all seem limited to a church-less view of the future. As planned.
It all starts in the first of the prophets' books, the book of Isaiah. 9:6-7, to be exact. A Son is to be born. We all know the story. But the author's vision is suddenly taken past all the wonderful life of which we know and brought to what is still our future, the time when Jesus will control the government on this planet. The Son has been given, it seems, for the specific reason of ruling and reigning. All the in-between stuff we must find elsewhere.
In Isaiah's sublime 53rd chapter we are in one moment dealing with a bruised Son of God and in the next with how that Son inherits all.
Daniel, in the famous 70-weeks prophecy of chapter 9, sees Messiah cut off, killed. And the next thing we know, we are dealing with the antichrist in the days before Jesus' coming. Big gap there. Daniel 11 jumps with ease from obscure pre-Christian history to the end of all things in the Tribulation period.
Joel 2, quoted by the apostle Peter on the first Pentecost (for the church), is perhaps the most well-known gap statement of all. There is no question that the outpouring of the Spirit on that special day is being prophesied at first. But in that same passage are dire predictions of doom that have not yet come to pass. Joel simply did not see the content between the two events. A person reading his book, and Joel himself, would infer that the outpouring and the judgment were only hours or days apart, or perhaps simultaneous.
Micah (5) sees one born in Bethlehem. But like Isaiah, this one is to be ruler of all. Casual readers of Scripture would have to assume that whoever it might be would grow up to be the King. Period. We know "the rest of the story." But who can blame the apostles for wanting the King to be the King now? We still hear such talk, by the way, though Jesus has already identified Satan as the temporary "prince of this world," Paul calling him the "prince of the power of the air."
Zechariah rounds out the creation of this pattern in his prophecy of the lowly donkey-riding Messiah (9:9), fulfilled on the day we have called "Palm Sunday." Not yet fulfilled is the fact stated in the next verse that His dominion shall be from sea to sea (9:10). I know Jesus does not have dominion yet because I have seen abortion clinics, gay weddings, bars, brothels, junk food stores, pollution, and Islamic meeting places. When Jesus rules the earth as in this prophecy, none of these things will be around.
Jesus, when He came the first time and fulfilled much but not all of the prophets' words, made some predictions of His own. So too did John, and to a lesser extent Paul and Peter and Jude, but in every case the "gap" is maintained. They saw the end of all things but virtually nothing in between themselves and that end.
We are left with the Spirit of God in our day, and the Spirit-inspired words that men gave their lives to pass on to us. It is enough. The mystery of the Spirit today, the "Christ-in-you" mystery, was meant to be sufficient for us. I do not need to see the World Wars in prophecy, or the place of America. I need to know my place in Christ and His perfect will for me, a will which he reveals from within every passing day.
A lot of folks are seeing things in the Scripture that just are not there. The prophets prepared us for the coming of Christ, first and second appearances. That's about it. Though many of their words can have secondary significance in our Christian lives, never should dogmas be created from them, or even life-styles, only examples.
It is in fact the greatest of arrogance for teachers in our day to move the secondary meanings to primary status, then cancel the primary altogether. This trend is robbing believers of their hope in Christ, the hope of His coming and our reign with Him.
Take it from this gap-headed servant of the Lord: there's a price to pay for shoveling that sort of poison down the throats of God's people...