Bible Prophecy And The Spiral Staircase
Applying Bible Prophecy
At one point when Jesus was departing the Temple in Jerusalem, His disciples pointed out the massive building with its impressive stonework. No doubt they did so with some amount of pride; for after all, this was the focal point of all Judaism. Jesus took the opportunity to impress upon them the seriousness of the time in which they lived. Christ informed them that not one of these impressive stones would be left standing upon another; but, all would be thrown down.
This statement shocked the disciples for they knew that the destruction of the Temple of Judaism implied the destruction of Judaism as well. So with great consternation they proceeded to ask the question, "Tell us, when shall these things be?" Matthew chapter 24 records for us the signs that Christ instructed the disciples to look for: there would be false Christ, Jesus said, and wars and rumors of wars. Nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There were to be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in many different places. Then Jesus said that these were the beginning of birth pangs.
I have always thought that that was an interesting statement: "the beginning of birth pangs." One, of course, thinks of a woman having birth pangs just before delivering her baby. Jesus is saying that all of this trouble is going to come upon the earth (geological, sociological, and political upheaval -- which Jesus called birth pangs) to announce the end for the Jewish economy. Of course the end of one thing is most generally the beginning of another. And so it was with the destruction of the Temple: it was the end of Judaism and the beginning of the kingdom of the Messiah in the form of the Lord's Church
Some would point out that the church began in A.D. 30 and the temple was not destroyed until A.D. 70: How then could the destruction of the Temple signal the beginning of the Church? I believe the answer is, quite probably, found in the number forty being the number of generation. Throughout the Bible, the number forty is also the number of testing and proving. Therefore, though the church was born on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30 she did not prove herself, or "come of age," until A.D. 70. It was at this time, with the total destruction of the Temple, and (by extrapolation} Judaism, that the Church transitioned into maturity by leaving the trappings of Judaism behind and bursting forth onto the landscape of the Gentile world.
The signs that Jesus gave to look for were signs that announced, not only the end of one age, but, the birthing of another. Many point to the geological, sociological, and political upheavals of our present time and announce that these are the "signs of the times" that Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24. Others say that this cannot be the case since all those signs, according to Jesus, were fulfilled in the generation that was contemporaneous to Christ. It could be that the answer to this disagreement can be found in the very nature of prophecy. Prophecy has, what I like to call, a high and low application; or, an immediate and future relevance.
In the case of the "signs of the end times"(of Matthew chapter 24) it is quite likely that one should think in terms of a spiral staircase. There are two philosophical world-views in play in the western mind: one is circular, which is primarily eastern, and sees life as a great circle repeating itself in cycles; the other is linear, which is primarily western, and sees life as having a beginning and a termination point. It may be best to interpret Jesus's words concerning the birth pains with both philosophical world-views in play. Therefore, a spiral staircase would be a very apt illustration. While the staircase has a beginning and an end there are still many cycles that one goes through between the two points.
Therefore, if we consider history as the circular cycle of life and also incorporate the linear view, than, we would place our self on the spiral staircase of time. Let us say that we opened our Bibles to the book of Matthew chapter 24; we lay that upon the floor at the foot of the staircase and begin our ascent to where the staircase terminates at the top. Each time we complete the cycle of the staircase, we would look and see the prophecy concerning the birth pangs (Matthew ch 24). Each time the same prophecy is viewed from a different position in time. Each time it is viewed, it is applicable to that time and circumstance. One only views the prophecy from a certain position of the staircase, but that position comes back time and time again. Each time the prophecy details the birthing of a new age and each time a new age is birthed.
So, here we are, again, in that time when Matthew 24 seems to speak to us of the birthing of a new age. And so it is: the earth groans to be delivered. What will this new age be like? Could it be the thousand years of peace looked for, anticipated, preached about for so long in so many pulpits across the great expanse of the earth? And what form will it take? Will Jesus, as the King of Kings, come personally in a physical body and ascend a throne in Jerusalem to rule the earth from a central geographical location? Or, will the Lord's Church, His body, permit Him to have free course in its members? And, will that body excel to the place where Christ brings in the age of peace through His wisdom living and breathing in His church? If the prophet Daniel is a dependable witness, it is the latter that is about to take place.
☩ Jerry Hayes
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After spending over forty years in the dispensational doctrine, and having raise my children in that theological framework, I became a convinced adherent to a "kingdom" theology that recognizes the Church as the Israel of God, and that the first century actually saw the fulfillment of most of Matthew chapter 24. "Letters to My Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology" is a compilation of twenty four letters written to my children explaining my journey, and showing how we were led astray from the apostolic teaching of Scripture to embrace a view recently come into the Lord's church, of which the apostles knew nothing. These "Letters" provide a systematic approach to Apostolic Eschatological study of Scripture. It is sure to interest all students of Scriptures.