Is Prophecy being presently fulfilled in current events?
To properly answer this question, let’s first establish the purpose of the Old Testament prophetic scriptures: 1. To warn Israel and Judah of the consequences of their respective idolatrous ways; and 2. To foretell of a future kingdom, in which a re-united 12 tribes of Israel would rule. 3. To prophesy of a coming Messiah and his rule over the 12 tribes of Israel and the earth.
Let’s more thoroughly examine numbers 2 and 3, by identifying the various treatments of prophecy.
As for the foretelling of the future, there are hundreds of different theological takes on the prophetic scriptures, but generally speaking, they fall under two main categories: A millennialists and millennialists.
These folks believe and teach that the “thousand year” reference in Revelation 20 is a figurative expression for the present reign of Christ which began upon His ascension into heaven and will be fully manifested at His second coming. Christ’s second coming will be one event at which time He will, in the words of Martin Luther, “raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life.
Preterists defer only in that they believe all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and the Roman army, at which time the second advent occurred. In other words, there is no future “second advent.” They believe the second advent occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. Both of these positions teach that the reference to Israel under the new covenant3 is actually referring to, and was fulfilled in the Christian church, begun by Christ in Matthew 16:19. This position holds the Revelation “Believe that all the future events foretold of in the prophetic scriptures were fulfilled in the advent of Jesus Christ on earth, and the forming of his “church,” which is the recipient of the new covenant, and the replacement of Israel.4
Millenialists fall into three basic categories; 1. Post millenialists; 2. Historicists; and 3. Futurists.
The postmillennial view places Christ’s second advent after (post) the millennium. Only then will the rapture,5 the general resurrection, the general judgment, and the eternal states occur. The millennium is not understood to involve a visible reign of Christ in the form of an earthly monarchy, nor is the millennial period to be taken literally as necessarily 1000 years long. In these respects postmillennialism corresponds closely to the amillennialist position. But the postmillennial view does posit a recognizable millennial period, a golden age of prosperity and peace among all at the end of which Christ will return. The millennium will arrive gradually under the increasing influence of Christianity, leading to the pervasive reduction of evil and to greatly improved conditions in the social, economic, political and cultural spheres. In fact, the entire world will eventually be Christianized to the point that the Christian belief and value system will become the accepted norm forall nations. Matthew 28:18-20 will become a reality.
Historicism is a method of interpretation in Christian eschatology that associates biblical prophecies with actual historical events (which may also be symbolic of repeated occurrences). This means that many things in Revelation have occurred while other things have not. Also that the symbols in the visions match major historical events in remarkable ways and in a chronology that actually occurs in the annals of history. One of the defining characteristics of Historicism is its treatment of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, as symbolic of actual periods of history from the first century to the present age. One popular example of this is the Scofield Reference Bible’s interpretation:
Ephesus: This is a description of the state of the church at the writing of John’s Revelation.
Smyrna: Period of the great persecutions of the second and third centuries.
Pergamos: The church “settled down in the world,” after Constantine’s conversion in the fourth century, where “Satan’s throne is.”6
Thyatira: The Papacy, and the inclusion of Roman paganistic practices into the church doctrine and liturgy, developed out of the Pergamos state.
Sardis: Protestant Reformation, whose works were not fulfilled.
Philidelphia: Whatever bears clear testimony to the Word in the time of self-satisfied profession represented by…i.e., the “true” church in the world.
Laodicea: the apostate church of the last days.
Futurist believe that, following a seven year period of “great tribulation,”7 there will be a literal one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, in which he will rule over the world, on David’s throne,8 with a rod of iron 9 Futurist generally believe the entire Revelation is concerning a future time. All seven congregations of Rev. 2 & 3 are in this next to last dispensation (“Jacob’s trouble;” Jer. 30:7), the seven year period preceding the institution of the final dispensation, viz., the literal 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth. The instructions to these churches will perfectly match those in the four gospels, and the rest of the Hebrew epistles (Hebrews – Rev.).
Rightly Divided Futurism, and the difference between prophecy and mystery.
Some futurist believe, like Historicists, that prophecy is being fulfilled in the present dispensation/age, which has been going on for approximately 2000 years. I am a futurist who rejects this proposition. I reject it on the basis that Prophecy and Mystery are mutually exclusive, in the same way that works and grace cancel each other out.10
Allow me to explain.
The dispensation of grace, aka, “the mystery,” 11 is a parenthetical, sandwiched between the gospels and the Acts, and the Hebrew epistles, i.e., Hebrews thru Revelation. 12 The gospels and the Hebrew Epistles are written as instruction and encouragement to that elect group of Israelites, aka, “the little flock,” who are destined to inherit “the kingdom”/government that Christ will rule over.13 According to Revelation 6:9-11, they will all be martyred for their faith during that period of great tribulation14 Futurist scholars claim around 500 prophecies were fulfilled in the gospels and the Acts, with around 300 remaining to be fulfilled in the future millennial reign of Christ.
But that isn’t happening now, because the prophetic clock stopped, cold dead, at the end of the Acts with the apostle Paul applying the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9 to the nation Israel, effectively putting her in a state of Loammi.15 From there he penned his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, heralding the advent of the dispensation of grace, the parenthetical, which he said “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men,”16 the prophets, and therefore never prophesied of by them.
In this present dispensation, God is saving men and women, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, by grace through faith,17 into a spiritual entity referred to as “the body of Christ.”18 which is an altogether different “church” than the church of prophecy begun by the Lord in Matthew 16. In the church of the mystery, Gentiles are made “fellowheirs,”19 a status that Gentiles of prophecy, those who will have a place in the future kingdom, will not enjoy, as they will be servants to Israel.20
The mystery explains the absence of Christ on the earth; prophecy explains and foretells of his presence on it in a future kingdom. Therefore, to claim that prophecy is now being fulfilled, or has ever been fulfilled in the past 2000 years, is to mix prophecy and mystery, the separation of which is the first principle of right division.
Yet there are legions of so-called “theologians,” who insist on claiming that OT prophecy is now being fulfilled in current events. For example, one website says the following events and happenings are sure evidence that prophecy is being fulfilled:
- “The acceleration of natural disasters around the world, warning the world of the Wrath of Yahuah that is about to be poured out on earth (Matthew 24:7)
- The degeneration of the Christian Church into a worldly-minded, pleasure/prosperity-seeking, apostate church (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
- The rise of a beastly “whore” nation – modern, prophetic, Babylon the Great – who both seduces and “swallows up” the other nations of the world in her attempt to establish a global empire (Jeremiah 50:23; 51:25, 44; Revelation 17:1-2, 18)
- The collapse of the world’s economies, resulting in revolutions, wars, rule of the wealthy elite through martial law, and the impoverishment and servitude of the masses (Revelation 6:2-6; 13:16-17)
- The amalgamation of nations of the Middle East and North Africa against Israel (Psalm 83:2-8; Ezekiel 38:2-16)
- First, the takeover by Islamists then annihilation by “fire” (a commetary explosion?) of the last great superpower nation – modern, prophetic Babylon opening the door to the invasion of Israel by nations of the Middle East and North Africa (Jeremiah 51:1-4, 14, 27-28, 37, 43; Revelation 17:16; 18:2, 8)”21
These claims are typical of those folks who operate on the basis of what they see, rather than on the basis of what Scripture says, rightly divided.22 Don’t be led away by these folks. Some may be sincere in their beliefs, but most are in the business of selling books and drawing big crowds, both of which are facilitated by making such claims.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15
Feel at liberty to distribute this essay as you see fit.
All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible.
Related articles: The Mystery; If God is in control, why is there so much suffering and injustice in the world? ; For we walk by faith, not by sight; Rightly Dividing Paul’s Epistles; Thy Kingdom Come;
Are you saved? Jesus Christ—“who knew no sin”—and his sacrificial death on the Cross, has made the way for “everyone that believeth…to be reconciled to(be at peace with) God. History has shown that whatever peace man has achieved in the world can only be temporary. The Bible says that individual men and women can know, beyond a doubt, that they are saved and bound for heaven, and therefore have absolute and permanent peace, regardless of what is going on in the world, by trusting Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for salvation. Have you done this? If not, why not now?
the “A” prefix meaning the absence of something; in this case, a millennium ↩
the English derivation of the latin word, “praetor,” which means “to go before.” ↩
ref. Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-11 ↩
Ref. Jer. 32:31-34; Matt. 18:19; Heb. 8:8-11 ↩
i.e., the events of 2 Thess. 4:13-17 and Matt. 24:31, which PMs believe are the same event ↩
making reference to the Roman Catholic church, often identified as the woman who rides the beast of Rev. 17:4-9 ↩
Matt. 24:21 ↩
Isaiah 9:6,7 ↩
Rev. 12:5; 19:15 ↩
Ref. Romans 11:6 ↩
Eph. 3:1-3 ↩
Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 12:32 ↩
Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14 ↩
Hosea 1:9 ↩
Eph. 3:5; Col. 1:26 ↩
Eph. 2:8,9 ↩
1 Cor. 12:27 ↩
Eph. 3:6 ↩
Ref. Is. 45:14; 60:1-16 ↩
2 Cor. 5:7 ↩