Snapshots From Eternity. . .
Vol: 29 Issue: 13 Tuesday, December 13, 2016
One way of looking at Bible prophecy as it relates to the times in which we live is to see it as ‘snapshots’ taken from an eternal perspective. It is a bit like trying to experience somebody’s vacation by going through their photo album.
You get a lot of information from a snapshot; the background can give you clues as to where the picture was taken, the way people are dressed tell you whether it was somewhere warm, you can even tell whether or not you are looking at recent photos.
But it isn’t the same thing as looking a snapshots of your own vacation.
Your photos fit into a context with which you are intimately familiar. You know what the subjects of the photo were doing, as well as what they were doing immediately before and immediately after the picture was snapped.
Somebody else’s vacation pictures, devoid of a narrative, are just abstract images. They might as well be postcards.
But with someone narrating the details, where, when, who, etc., — putting the snapshots in context — the snapshots become PART of the story, providing a graphic overview of the narrative and confirming some of the details.
(“Here’s Uncle Frank right after he stepped on the jellyfish. Here’s an hour later. Look how swollen his foot got . . .”)
The snapshots of Uncle Frank’s foot are meaningless without context . . the narrative of Uncle Frank’s adventure is lifeless without the snapshots. Bring the two together in context, and the story is much more clear.
The Bible provides the narrative of the story of mankind, his fall from grace, God’s plan for Israel, His extension of grace to the Church, the coming Judgment of the nations, all the way through to the New Creation.
It is the story of man, from beginning to end, and revealed by God at the mid-point in human history.
Bible prophecy is God’s Signature on the narrative:
“I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the END FROM THE BEGINNING, and FROM ANCIENT TIMES THE THNGS THAT ARE NOT YET DONE saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure . . ” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
In addition to authenticating Scripture’s Divine Authorship, Bible prophecy provides snapshots of history — snippets of time singled out like photographs in an album — with the overall narrative putting the snapshots into context.
But, like photographs, without the narrative for context, they become abstract images.
Snapshots from Bible prophecy about the antichrist, false prophet, world government, etc., etc, — but without the correct context — had many prophecy scholars of the period convinced Adolph Hitler was the antichrist and Mussolini was his false prophet.
Hitler persecuted the Jews, unleashing a Holocaust against them of apocalyptic proportions. (No pun intended.)
Hitler dreamed of world conquest, his Nazi regime mirrored John’s description, Mussolini dreamed of being declared Caesar in a revived Roman Empire and there was plenty of evidence of collaboration between the Axis and the Vatican, (especially early in the war.)
Viewed as ‘snapshots’ and dismissing inconvenient details like the required prior restoration of Israel as misinterpretation, there were a lot of preachers who bet the farm (and their reputations) on Hitler as the antichrist and World War Two as the war of Armageddon.
Worse than that, when Hitler shot himself in a Berlin bunker, those who put their faith in a Biblical snapshot saw their faith shattered.
Interpreting snapshots instead of reading the Big Picture overview in context, one can make some very convincing arguments.
Every year, for example, somebody takes a prophetic snapshot of world events and concludes the Rapture MUST take place either at the end of the Jewish Feast of the Trumpets or at the beginning of the Jewish Day of Atonement.
There are some very appealing facts to support this conclusion. Israel has seven Biblically-mandated major feast days, five of which in some way conformed to major events in Christ’s earthly Ministry. The two major Jewish holidays that fall outside the pattern are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Rosh Hashanah is called the Feast of the Trumpets. Observed on the First and Second of Tishri, the celebration actually begins 29 days earlier: a series of over 90 trumpet blasts accrue for a final blowing of blasts on the climax of the celebration, the Teki’ah Gedolah, the Great Blowing of the ‘Last Trump’.
Paul refers to the ‘Last Trump’ in his description of the Rapture:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51)
Following Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, the Jewish ‘Day of Atonement’. Yom Kippur’s purpose and symbolism fit perfectly with Israel’s national redemption at the Second Coming of Christ at the conclusion of the Tribulation.
Since the Rapture represents the culmination of the Church’s earthly ministry and the conclusion of the Church Age, Rosh Hashanah forms perfect symbolic snapshot of the Rapture. And since Israel’s national reconciliation to God takes place at the 2nd Coming, Yom Kippur is the perfect day.
Interpreting snapshots of Bible prophecy, it made perfect sense to conclude that Javier Solana was the antichrist.
Solana was both the head of the European Union and Secretary General of the Western European Union, composed of ten full member-states, with other member-states holding inferior status as ‘associate’ members, ‘observer’ members or ‘associate partners’.
Solana made no secret of his plans to insinuate Europe into the peace process and wants Europe to replace the United States as the principle peace broker between Israel and the Arabs.
That fits perfectly into Daniel’s scenario, as recorded in Daniel 9, about the antichrist rising from the revived Roman Empire, confirming a seven year covenant between Israel and the Arabs, etc.
But both are, as yet, snapshots being interpreted out of context. And as such, are as risky as definitively declaring Adolph Hitler the antichrist and the Third Reich the tribulation government.
It COULD have been true, had Israel existed prior to Hitler’s Holocaust. But human hindsight is 20/20. And so is Divine Foresight.
Solana COULD have been the antichrist. And the Rapture COULD’VE take place Rosh Hashanah 2005. Both events were snapshots — the context of the narrative is deliberately obscure.
There is a reason for that.
Neither event is of any significance to the mission of the Church. (Stay with me here)
The mission of the Church is to take the Gospel to the lost. The only significance the Rapture plays to that mission is to signal its conclusion. The identity of the antichrist is equally insignificant to the mission of the Church. People aren’t saved by knowing the identity of the antichrist.
The job of the Church is to direct the lost to THE Christ, not to His enemy. The antichrist’s job is to pretend to BE Christ. It seems a no-brainer.
The Bible provides a snapshot of the antichrist, but as part of the larger narrative; not as its object. The object is the urgency of the mission of the Church — the signs pointing to the antichrist’s soon revelation underscore the object, not the evidence.
The same applies to the evidence pointing to the coming Rapture of the Church. The Rapture is a snapshot of the mission’s conclusion, not the object of the narrative. The object of the narrative is to convey the sense of urgency to the Church; that time is running out to complete the mission.
Snapshots help to tell the story until they become THE story. When that happens, formerly understood Bible prophecy becomes as clear as mud.
But in context, the prophecy snapshots confirm the accuracy of the prophetic narrative, the way the pictures of Uncle Frank’s swollen foot confirm the accuracy of the consequences of stepping on a jellyfish.
Viewed in the context of the narrative, there is no need of further interpretation – the message is clear enough.
The message of Bible prophecy, for the Church, is equally clear on its face. Time is running out for the lost, the mission of the Church is coming to its prophesied conclusion.
It is both a comfort and a warning:
“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)
Jesus IS coming. Soon.