Rightly Dividing Our End Time Expectations
Post-millennialists (Christ returning after the Millennium) look at prophecy and say “Well, things will get better and better in the world.” — all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding—with the entire world eventually becoming “Christianized.”
Pre-millennialists most often mistakenly look at prophecy and then say, “Well things will get worse and worse in the world.” The doctrine is called “premillennialism” because it holds that Jesus' physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration of the Millennium. Premillennialism is based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1–6 in the New Testament, which describes Jesus' reign in a period of a thousand years.
- One sees prophecy being fulfilled by bringing in “the kingdom” and we are responsible to change the world for God.
- The other sees prophecy being fulfilled in times of trouble, and we should guard ourselves from the world.
One sees the prophetic cup and says it is half full.
The other sees the prophetic cup and says it is half empty.
Actually, both of these views are looking in the wrong place to begin with, they look to prophecy in an effort to see what God is doing in the world today.
Actually, what God is doing today is not found in prophecy – what God is doing today was “kept secret since the world began.” (Romans 16:25)
So, the problem is that Prophecy does NOT apply today. It only concerns Israel. Prophecy does not describe today’s age of the “mystery (secret)” of “the dispensation of the grace of God” for the Gentiles. (read Eph. 3:1-5).
The events of prophecy do not describe the end of today’s age of “dispensation of the grace of God,” but rather prophecy that concerns Israel’s coming Messianic kingdom on earth. That prophetic program concerning Israel is currently in abeyance. The Messianic kingdom on earth is yet to come… only after “the Rapture” of the Gentile Church of “the body of Christ”
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25 (KJV)
According to Pauline right division of “the word of truth” (2Tim. 2:15) we are not drinking from that prophetic cup at all. We are looking up where our “life is hid with Christ” according to “the revelation of the mystery.”
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3 (KJV)
How We View the Future:
While students of prophecy argue back and forth about which current event was God sent, we understand that God is not today fulfilling prophecy in our present circumstances.
What will happen in Israel’s prophetic program in the future has no effect upon our present ministry, circumstances, or salvation.
The greatest eschatological division is not where you put yourself relative to the Millennium, or when you think the Rapture will happen. The greatest division to make about the end times is between Prophecy and the Mystery (God’s ‘secret plan’ which now revealed and operating).
- When prophecy speaks of the kingdom to come, we know according to the mystery of Christ that it is not our duty to bring in God’s kingdom to the earth.
- When prophecy speaks of the trouble to come before the end, we know, according to “the revelation of the mystery” of Christ that we have no divine instruction for us to run to the hills.
Our view of the future is not driven by prophecy, but by the instructions of “Jesus Christ according to the revelation of The Mystery.”
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of The Mystery, which was Kept Secret since the world began,” (Romans 16:25)
“Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil (Gk. pleroo, complete) the word of God;
26 Even The Mystery which Hath Been Hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ In You, The Hope Of Glory:” (Colossians 1:25-27)
Our hope does not come from the current events of post-millennialism, nor do we need to see prophetic disasters to give us warning. We have families to feed, souls to save, and jobs to perform. We respond to the future with the Bible rightly divided, faithfully doing these tasks as long as God’s grace age of today will last.
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;” (1 Thes. 4:11)
Determining our Eschatology (End-times Interpretation):
Often people start with an eschatological (end times) position and then form there build their doctrines of the church, salvation, and ministry. This is exactly backwards.
It should be our doctrine of the church, salvation, and ministry that determines our view of the end times. When we rightly divide Prophecy (concerning Israel) from the Mystery (concerning the body of Christ today) … there is only one relationship to prophecy we can take… that is prophecy does not describe the present time in which we live, whether it be for the better or the worse.
The Millennium, Tribulation, restoration of Israel are all parts of God’s prophetic program and purpose for his chosen nation and not for “the church, the body of Christ.” The Millennium, Tribulation, restoration of Israel, describe the end times as spoken about in prophecy concerning Israel.
A failure to rightly divide Prophecy from Mystery will end up with a failed end times interpretation.
Not in the End Times:
We are not living in the times of prophecy, but in God’s long-planned but unprophesied ‘mystery’ dispensation. Therefore, we are not living in the end times… until the Rapture.
We will not go through the Tribulation or the Millennium; we are not looking for Israel’s tribulation; nor are we looking for Israel’s restoration.
Instead we operate according to “the mystery of Christ,” doing our ministry as Christ’s ambassadors on earth, waiting for the mystery coming of the Lord to remove the church… so He can the get on with fulfilling all His prophecy and promises concerning Israel.
These are not the ‘prophetic last days.’ For us today, every day is a new day of opportunity to be God’s grace ambassadors in a world that has rejected him. For the sake of ministering Paul’s “the gospel of the grace of God,” we should hope there are a million more days.
Our hope is in His appearing at the Rapture sometime in the future, unknown to us. Until then, we have work to do.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13)