In the last post we laid out the framework that Jesus gave us from the Olivet Road Map of the End Times in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. It is my opinion that Christ’s straightforward chronology of events should be our “gold standard” framework. In this post, I intended to immediately launch out and start comparing prophecies from the Old Testament with this New Testament framework. However, I feel that it is best to lay some groundwork first. Below is a tentative outline for this series of posts.
Post Series: Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
Part 1: Laying out Jesus’s Olivet Discourse Framework
Part 2: The Critical Role of the Old Testament
Part 3: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 1 of 2)
Part 4: The Great End-Time Gathering (part 2 of 2)
Part 5: Lining up the Major and Minor Prophets with Jesus’s “Gold Standard” Framework
The Critical Role of the Old Testament
When Jesus was walking to Emmaus, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). At Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul “reasoned with them out of the scriptures” that it was necessary for Christ to first suffer, die and then rise from the dead (Acts 17:2–3). Jesus and Paul taught about the first coming from the Tanakh (the Law, Prophets, and Writings)—what we today call our Old Testament.
Teaching from the Old Testament held great value and importance despite the first coming of Christ, as a suffering Savior, being a hidden mystery and not clearly visible except through hindsight (I Corinthians 2:7–8, Romans 16:25–26). The disciples couldn’t even grasp it though Jesus told them in advance. And when Mary Magdalene told the still sorrowing disciples that Jesus was risen, they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:10–11, Luke 24:9–11). God’s plan for the death and resurrection of Christ was so subtle in the Old Testament (i.e. hidden wisdom, a mystery) in order that Satan would be duped and God’s marvelous plan through Christ’s death and resurrection could begin.
1 Cor 2:7-8 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
On the other hand, the second coming is not subtle in the Old Testament. So with the more apparent and obvious prophesies of the day of the Lord in the Old Testament, how much greater value does Jesus and Paul’s teaching method engender as it pertains to the second coming of Jesus?
The Mississippi River Analogy—If you have ever studied the testimony of the major and minor prophets you undoubtedly grasped how repetitively and consistently the prophecies arced toward the time of the end and the day of the Lord (i.e. the second coming). While there are many prophecies with a near-term or contemporary fulfillment, the ultimate trajectory of the Bible’s prophetic accounts takes us all the way to the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is a central and unifying theme throughout Scripture. Therefore, the “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
To understand this pictorially, I like to use an analogy with the Mississippi River. The headwaters originate in northern Minnesota at Lake Itasca, a name coined from a combination of two Latin words: veritas (“truth”) and caput (“head”). While the waters of the Mississippi sometimes flow east, west, or north, their general direction is from north to south. The flowing water that begins at Lake Itasca is fed and supported by numerous water-carrying tributaries all along the way until reaching their destination in the Gulf of Mexico.
Consider the inspiration of the Spirit of God as the headwaters, the tributaries that support and feed into the Mississippi as the prophets, and the consolidated words of prophecy as the Mississippi River itself. The ultimate trajectory of these inspired “waters” is toward a common destination: the first and second comings of Jesus Christ.
We can take this a step further to depict the importance and relevance of prophecy, which some say is nearly 30 percent of Scripture. If we equated the United States of America to the Holy Bible itself and the placement of the Mississippi and its tributaries to prophecy, what would we find lies at the heart of Scripture? Prophecy. And what is the heart of the message of prophecy? Jesus Christ.
From this simple illustration, can you see the valuable nature of prophecy? The prophetic message of Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of Scripture.
First things first—Our approach is backwards If we start studying eschatology by reading the book of Revelation. It’s wonderful to read, and one should do so multiple times. But prior to developing strong positions, we first need to understand the major themes, covenants, prophecies, and general story of the Old Testament. We need to feel out the basic tenor of the testimony of the prophets which is the very foundation of our eschatological house. The Old Testament—as a lens through which we look when viewing prophetic texts from the New Testament—undergirds and supports the New Testament. As Jesus and Paul, we must rely on Old Testament scriptures to shape, mold, and influence our understanding of the second coming of Christ.
Restoration of all things—The day of the Lord will rid the heavens and the earth of evilness and ungodliness and restore creation to its original glory. This is a future reality that provides a real and legitimate anchor of hope. The power of the air will be dissolved, sin will be judged, the curse upon the earth will be removed, paradise and the tree of life will be restored, and Satan will be bound. We look forward with eagerness to this “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Both Acts 3:19-21 and Matthew 19:28 reaffirm the revealed plan of God from the Old Testament of an earthly restoration.
The driving force of the covenants—The Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New covenants undergird the prophets and the entire story of the bible. The day of the Lord will usher in the kingdom of God. By its very nature a kingdom isn’t complete with land only; it must have laws and a king or it is no kingdom at all. The Lord said that He would establish an everlasting kingdom and throne through the seed of David. Ultimately this points to Jesus Christ sitting on the throne and ruling the everlasting kingdom (Luke 1:32–33; Matthew 2:2; Jeremiah 30:9, 33:14–17; Ezekiel 34:23–31; Hosea 3:5).
- LAND: Abrahamic Covenant (promised inheritance of land – Genesis 15:8)
- LAW: Mosaic Covenant (fulfilled by Christ – Romans 10:4, called to fulfill in Christ – Romans 8:4)
- KING: Davidic Covenant (the throne of David – 2 Samuel 7:10-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-15)
- OBEY: New Covenant for Israel (Holy Spirit, new heart, and salvation – Jeremiah 31:31-34)
We need to deal with the reality that God has a plan for Israel as well as the nations. What God has said, He will bring to pass. His veracity is at stake.
The kingdom of God—Jesus will have reign and dominion over all the earth during a millennial (that is, a thousand-year) kingdom (Daniel 7:13–14, 26–27; Revelation 11:15; Zechariah 14:9; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 60:19–21; Isaiah 66:22–23; Psalm 72:8; Revelation 20:4). Jesus will be king, and out of the LORD’S house and out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–3).
Redeemed Israel is the primary focus during the millennium, but what about the saints who are resurrected and raptured on the day of the Lord? During the millennium, the resurrected and raptured will have immortal, glorified bodies like the angels (Luke 20:35–36). The resurrected and raptured will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years as priests of God and of Christ (Revelation 3:21; 20:4, 6). In His kingdom we will in some manner function as intercessors, ambassadors, and stewards on behalf of His royal and righteous rule. Simply amazing.
In summary—Just as the Lord Jesus is the focus of the first coming, the Lord Jesus is equally the focus of the second coming. Jesus will serve as king (Luke 1:30-33, Zechariah 9:9-10) ruling righteously (Isaiah 2:2-4, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 11:1-10, Habakkuk 2:14) from Jerusalem (Matthew 5:35, Isaiah 24:21-23; Isaiah 62:7, Ezekiel 37:21-28) on a glorious throne (Matthew 19:28, Psalm 132:11-17). The spirit of prophecy is Jesus Christ. This is clearly and plainly evident throughout the Old Testament!