Interpretive Keys to Biblical Prophecy

By Ron Jones ©Titus Institute 2009

Sincere and intelligent Christians disagree on the timing of these events and the role of Israel in them. This outline reflects what I believe best represents the Biblical evidence.

I. The church and Israel are distinct in God’s plan for the last days
A. Key: God through the OT and NT writers reveals last day events many of which apply specifically to various distinct groups in the last days and some of which apply to more than one or all the groups.
These groups are
1. Israel as a nation
a. Israel during the tribulation made up of both unbelievers and believers
b. Israel after Jesus returns and judges them made up of only believers (they enter the millenium as a nation)
c. Israel during the millenium
2. The church
a. Individual Gentile believers and Jewish believers united in Christ who have died before the rapture occurs
b. Individual Gentile believers and Jewish believers united in Christ who are living when the rapture occurs
3. Tribulation saints
a. Those who come to Christ after the rapture during the tribulation
4. OT saints
a. Those who trusted God for salvation before Christ came
5. Millenial saints
a. Those who enter the millenium (only believers enter the millenium) in physical bodies and those who are born during the millenium who come to Christ
6. Unbelievers

B. God has a future for Israel as a nation
God called Israel as a nation to be His people and one day God will bring His nation back into the forefront of His blessing (but it will be as a believing nation – those Hebrews who have accepted Christ during the tribulation who will enter the 1000 year millenium as a nation)
God promised Abraham three things:
1. I will give you a land
2. I will make you a great nation
3. I will bless the whole world with salvation blessing because of you.
Israel was promised that they would receive a land that would be theirs forever and they would be a great nation under the messiah’s rule. Neither of these have been fulfilled. They will be fulfilled in the 1000 year millennial kingdom of Christ.
God promised that one day Israel would be a nation again and enjoy the fruit of righteousness with her messiah ruling from the throne of David
OT – prophecies of the reign of David’s greater Son in peace and righteousness, the coming of the Lord to destroy His enemies, the glorification of the messiah upon His coming to earth.
2 Sam.7: 16 kingdom established forever
Ps.2: 6-9 Rule with a rod of iron
Isa.11: 1-3 describes messiah
V.4-9 describes his millennial reign
Mal.4: 1-3
None of these occurred when Jesus came the first time. The OT describes a coming where Jesus sets up his kingdom. That did not happen therefore, it must be happening in the future. In NT Jesus reveals this further.
II. Events of the last days are described thematically, not chronologically.
A. Key: God through the OT and NT writers describes last day events according to themes rather than according to timed sequential chronology.
It is like a giant play with several acts and scenes in each act that is taught and referred to according to the focus of whoever is teaching,
None of the statements are meant to be mutually exclusive, but thematically expressed. General statements are made without concern for the chronological element.
That means:
A. Events that may be separated by years are described together
Lu.4: 16-19 jesus read Isa.61:1-2 and stopped before he read the second coming portion
Isa 61:1-2 describes both first and second coming of Jesus
The theme is what Christ will do as messiah, yet it describes two events separated by two thousand years

B. Events that are related may be described as one major event
Jn.5: 24-29
This is a general statement of what will happen in the last days concerning the resurrections of the dead, Jesus speaks of several resurrection events – the resurrection of the church, of OT saints, of Tribulation saints, of millenial saints as one major event with one major theme – Jesus calling as judge (the theme) those who have demonstrated their faith by doing good ( a good tree bears good fruit). There is actually only one resurrection event for the unbelievers.
This is a thematic description, not a timed sequence. When you first read it, you might think it is all at the same time, but it is not.

C. Events may be described together without mention of other events before, between, or after them
The day of the Lord is described this way. The "day of the Lord" is a period of time which involves a series of events of judgment and vengeance upon those who have rejected God and Christ.
It includes the seven year tribulation, the second coming of Christ and his judgments at that coming, the judgments that come after the millenium when Satan is released and his human army destroyed with him thrown in the lake of fire, and the melting down of the heavens and the earth.
A period that encompasses over one thousand and seven years, yet when it is described thematically, events are left out depending on what the author wanted to say.
The day of the Lord encompasses the tribulation period especially the last 3 ½ years.
2 Thess.2:1-4
The day of the Lord comes when the antichrist rises up during the tribulation.
The day of the Lord is a term used of Christ’s return to judge the earth and reign upon it.
Joel 2:1-11
Isa.2: 10-22
Amos 5:18-20
Zeph.1: 14-18

D. Exhortations concerning these events are given to the audience or readers with a view to those who would be participating in those events in the future
Jn.14:1-3 believers
Mat.24 Israelites

III. Parallel rapture and second coming passages do not match showing they are distinct events.
A. Parallels between rapture passages - Jesus returns to bring believers to heaven
Jn.14:1-3 and 1 Thess.4:13-18
Jn.14:1-3 "where I am = in heaven in the Father’s presence" not on earth during the trib.
Jn.7:34 "Where I am you cannot come."
In fact, the promise Jesus made in 14:1-3 would be worthless if they didn’t go to heaven to the "rooms prepared for them."
A posttribulational rapture demands that the saints meet the Lord in the air and immediately descend to earth without experiencing what our Lord promised in Jn.14. Only a pretribulational rapture satisfies the language of Jn.14:1-3 and allows raptured saints to dwell with Christ in the Father’s house.

B. Parallels between second coming passages – Jesus returns for judgment
2 Thess.1:
The day of Christ and the day of the Lord are not the same.
Day of Jesus Christ, the day of the Lord Jesus, and the day of the Lord Jesus Christ salvation, blessing, and rejoicing
1 Cor.1: 8, 5:5, 2 Cor.1:14, Phil.1:6, 10: 2:16

C. Parallels between the "reign of Christ" passages
Rev.19:4-6 reveals that Jesus will reign 1000 years on the earth
Zech.14 Jesus will return and rescue Israel and set up his kingdom on the earth.