Summary: Message explores the timing of the Rapture in relationship to the Tribulation Period by first addressing key concepts that inform the subject. This teaching discusses the biblical purpose of the Tribulation Period. Daniel 9:24-27 is examined.
INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW
Last week we launched a study of biblical prophecy with one question in mind: Will Christians go through the Tribulation Period? Finding an answer to that one question is not easy. To intelligently answer it, we must consider a vast amount of biblical revelation. Twenty-seven percent of the Bible is prophecy. It involves 150 chapters of scripture. Quoting a few proof texts to defend a position is simply inadequate. We need a comprehensive approach to our inquiry.
So, we began by identifying three concepts foundational to our understanding prophecy. We are exploring those three subjects before pushing toward an answer to the question. The three concepts are:
1) The Method to Use for Interpreting Bible Prophecy
2) God’s Purpose for the Tribulation Period
3) The Mystery of the Church Age.
Last week we addressed the first one: The Method of Interpreting Bible Prophecy. In that message we considered the two prevalent methods of interpretation: the Allegorical method and the Literal method, also called the grammatical-historical method. We rejected the allegorical method because it fails to give adequate weight to what the Bible actually says, and it allows too much opportunity for the interpreter to inject his or her own ideas into the interpretation. We chose the literal method because it holds the interpreter more accountable to the inspired words of Scripture. In our discussion of the literal method we talked about some of the challenges of applying the method since there is symbolism in the Bible and various genres of literature are used to convey the message. But even with those challenges, the literal method is the most reliable approach.
Many of the variation in interpretation of prophecy are due to the use of a different method of interpretation. Therefore, from the beginning we must be clear on which method we’re going to use. Then we must consistently apply that method when interpreting Scripture. This would turn into a course on hermeneutics if we dealt with that issue in any comprehensive way. But it must be addressed before we try to answer our question.
This week as I sought the Lord for today’s message, I was impressed to slow down and not push thorough this material so rapidly. God seems to be leading us to a more extensive study of Bible prophecy than I initially thought. With that in mind, I want to touch upon one additional principle of interpreting prophecy in Scripture. It is the principle of progressive revelation.
The principle of progressive revelation recognizes the way revelation is built upon previous revelation in the Bible. A truth will first be given in seed form. Then it will bud into more detail. Finally, it blossoms into a full flower of truth. The fuller revelation builds upon previous revelation and never contradicts it.i Take for example the all-important revelation in Genesis 3:15 spoken by God to Satan after Adam’s fall. “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed [Messiah]; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel [at the cross].”ii That is the first prophecy of Christ. Not much detail is given, but the truth is provided in seed form. In the Old Testament the revelation is expanded to reveal that Christ (Messiah) would come through the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and later it was revealed that Messiah would be a descendant of David (2 Sam. 7:16). Of course, the gospels’ account of the death and resurrection of Jesus provides much more insight on exactly what Genesis 3:15 meant. Then the epistles explain its significance more fully.
What are the implications of this for interpreting the Bible? The more-current revelation in Scripture never contradicts the previous, less-complete revelation. It builds upon what has already been revealed and opens the truth more fully. Additionally, when I have greater clarity on a truth in the New Testament, that revelation can help me understand the earlier revelation better.iii For example, we understand Daniel 9:24-27, a passage we will look at today, with more clarity because Jesus explained it more fully in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation deals with those truths in even more detail.
So, our first issue was the method of interpretation used. We reject the allegorical method and use the literal method.
II. GOD'S PURPOSE FOR THE TRIBULATION PERIOD. Any answer to our question must coincide with this vital issue.
The purpose of the tribulation period in Scripture is two-fold:
(1) the outpouring of God’s wrath on the unbelieving, gentile nations and
(2) the preparation of Israel to receive her Messiah. That is the reason there is a tribulation period.
First, the wrath of God is being poured out on the gentile nations, especially during the last half of that seven-year period. The theme of wrath is prominent in the book of Revelation. It is referenced at least a dozen times.