Second Coming: Literature Survey
The idea of the end times is enough to terrify anyone, and the conversation of it is even worse. We all want to know what will happen when Jesus returns. Those who believe premillennial dispensationalism have a distinct view of the times to come, but the question to ask is what exactly is premillennial dispensationalism, and what is it that they believe? Premillennialism is based off of the idea that Christ will return to earth to rule over all for a second time. This way of thinking takes a literal view of the Bible where things in the Bible will happen just as said in the text, no metaphors or hypotheticals. This leaves no room for error when interpreting parables, visions or dreams. There are two types of premillennial dispensationalists, the first are the historic premillennialists and the second being the dispensational premillennialists. The primary difference between the two is not too drastic, as their thoughts do not differ too much apart from each other.
As implied in the name Historic premillennialists focus more on the symbolic history of the Church, as the name suggests. Scripture is a very important part of their thinking as they make sure to study “prophetic fulfillment”(“What is dispensational premillennialism?”) and where they stand according to these prophecies. “Historic premillennialists believe that scriptural prophecy, especially the passages in Daniel and Revelation, give the entire history of the Church in symbolic form”(“What is dispensational premillennialism?”). They don’t give any special priority to the Nation of Israel when Jesus comes back. On the other side, we have dispensational premillennialism which believes that Christ’s Resurrection and reign on earth will be followed by a seven-year period of tribulation. They, unlike historic premillennialist, believe that Israel will be revived and will have an important role in the second reign of Christ. Dispensational premillennialism clearly separates the body of Christ (the Church) from Israel.
The Thief in the Night films were some of the first of its kind, like Rapture in 1941 the movie that came before it, both touched on the rapture and the second coming of Christ. These apocalyptic movies both take grim looks on the rapture and how it will all go down. Both of these films are a way to bring to light the idea of Christianity, rapture and even deeper, premillennial dispensationalism. These movies help popularize these ideas for both the Christian church and for those who might not know anything about the Bible altogether. To popularize the idea of premillennial dispensationalism to the public they show the more detailed side of the rapture. They show the descriptive parts of the scriptures. Things like the tribulation, mark of the beast as mentioned in verses like Revelation 14:9-11 and disappearance of most Christians in the sudden blink of an eye really helped set an image for the rapture. The scene set by the movie also helps push the message through, once the rapture started havoc flooded the earth.
Premillennial dispensationalism is viewed differently in both the book of Daniel and Revelation. They both have different visions and seeings to tell and they take different approaches to both but they also connect their thoughts and help us better understand what will happen when Jesus returns. In the book of Daniel, they mention the idea of the future kingdom. These three verses, Daniel2:31-45, 7:1-27 and 9:24-27 show us a look at the future kingdoms to come in the new age and what they look like. The first is Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of a “great image” mentioned in Daniel 2:31. This tells the prophecies of the Kingdoms to come. It is described as being bright and whose head was made of fine gold, had arms of silver and a belly of brass. He describes the kingdoms that are divided and that may never be destroyed. In these verses, Kingdom resembles a body, and a body made up of materials that are strong and sturdy and that would not wear out easily if at all. Showing that the kingdoms will be the same, they will be too strong to conquer and will have power for the time to come. This dream is then followed by its interpretation showing that all of these kingdoms from before will be nothing compared to the Kingdom God will bring. The second verse brings to light Daniel’s two-part vision, which starts with the arrival of four beast coming up from the seas. These beasts were all said to be given dominion and be very frightening then after this “one like the son of man” comes to from the clouds and he was given dominion and all worshipped him. His dominion is everlasting and his kingdom and reign will never fade away, he will overpower the beasts. The interpretation of this vision leads to the beasts speaking against the most high and losing, their dominion will be taken. After this the most high will be worshipped by all. The third was a prophecy of the 70 weeks that touches on the return of Christ. In this vision Christ will make an end to all sins and replace it with never ending righteousness, this will fulfill the prophecy.
In the book of Revelation the author goes over the events and happenings of the rapture. This book sees the events of the apocalypse in the future. These are very literal views of the Rapture and everything in it will happen word for word. From the beast to the return of the messiah all of these things will come to happen according to Revelation.
In the Thief in the Night and A Distant Thunder the symbolism of the Bible is shown clearly. These ideas are both depicted differently in both movies but point the viewers in the same direction. The rapture begins in the thief in the night and this is where all true followers of Christ are taken up with him. Then rest are left behind and are left to find out where they all went. Then the remaining time of both of the movies is a showing of the tribulation which is a time of great suffering for those who were left by Christ. Those left behind are persecuted because earth has turned into a place without the presence of God. This is going to be a time of misery, just as Revelation 6:17 states “for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”(Rev6:17,TPT). The movies have also placed a focus on the mark of the beast as mentioned in chapter 20 verse 4 of Revelation.
Then I saw thrones, and those who sat on them were given the authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and for the Word of God. They had refused to worship the wild beast or its image and did not have their foreheads or hands marked by the wild beast. They lived and reigned with Christ for one thousand years”(Rev 20:4, TPT).
The main character, Patty, is met with a commercial telling all Americans to receive the mark to be able to survive and to pledge to their country. All those who don’t will be seen as an enemy to the state. She is met with the dilemma to go get the mark but never goes through with it. There are many that receive the mark to have access to necessities like food and health services. Along with these , the overall idea of Jesus coming, taking his followers and leaving behind a world full of pain and anguish is clearly shown. The message is made clear to both Christians and non-believers.
In the film Christians were taken by Christ without warning to the world, the nonbelievers were left on earth, like Patty. If I had a friend in her situation and that was going through this they most likely would come out with question after question. Questions like what’s happening, why is it happening, who did this, and lastly how can I be saved by the end of all of this? To the questions of what is happening , I would answer by telling and explaining to them that this is the rapture, Jesus Christ has come back to take all of his followers and all others were left behind. Then I would probably show them the Left behind film series. The next question of why, I would show them scripture like for example “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”(1 Thessalonians 4:16). This would also answer the question of who is doing this. To escape this this new world they have been left in I would tell them to claim Jesus Christ as the Son of God and to let him dwell in their heart. Ask for forgiveness of your sins and follow his footsteps and his scripture. This is sort of the route the movie takes it and for the most part is correct, I would tell them this knowing that some people believe that those who are left behind are left behind for good.
Differences in daniel historical setting?
Differences in revelation historical setting?
Use Maccabees 1 to describe daniel’s historical setting?
Use Maccabees 2 to describe daniel’s historical setting?
The date of when the book of Daniel was written as said in its first verse, verse 1:1, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah”(NIV). But there are slight problems with this according to scholars. Some things don’t add up. Some scholars say the book of Daniel was written during the second century and they call it “pious fiction” as Bill Pratt writes. Pratt uses the fact that Belshazzar was named “king” of Babylon in chapter five of Daniel while at the time the true kings was Nabonidus. Another piece of evidence used by Pratt is the fact that some of the book Daniel was in Aramaic also further on into Daniel the text includes some Greek showing that Daniel had been written after Greek culture entered their culture and living.
In the book of Daniel there are two main genres that shape the text. The first of these two genres is the prophetic genre. Prophetic writing is just that, writings of prophecies told by prophets of the Bible, both minor and major prophets. The second literary genre to appear in the Book of Daniel is the apocalyptic genre. The apocalyptic genre is much more poetic than the prophetic writings. In prophetic writings the books are often written about the stories of prophets, and there are many in the bible, prophets like Malachi, Hosea, Isaiah , Jeremiah, and Daniel to name a few. These are often about a single prophet receiving a vision from God and coming to the people and giving this prophecy, and are much shorter in comparison. Apocalyptic literature comes into the Bible mainly through the books of Daniel and Revelation. They both closely follow certain patterns, and these patterns help us study their narratives. Prophetic writings are usually accounts of things to happen, things that are happening in the moment or events that have happened already. These focus on the past, present and future and use these events to help give the people a warning and get them in order, or help them change their ways. In apocalyptic literature there are visions that paint very vivid and graphic images. This helps paint a much stronger picture of the prophecy or warning to be told. With this, the imagery shown is full of hidden codes and symbolism so images painted might be harder to understand for our modern day.
The purpose of these books are very similar as they both tell of future events and help warn us about prophecy God has told. Apocalyptic literature helps warn us of the future , events such as the rapture like in verse 1:3 of Revelation “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near”(NIV). The poetic writing of apocalyptic literature helps us see and feel the promises told in the text, the highly symbolic and poetic writing helps bring out emotion. An example like when Daniel saw four beasts come out of the sea, this is meant to put you in Daniel’s eyes as you imagine these fearsome beasts standing in front of you, these images are the main pattern throughout the writings. In prophetic writing the main pattern starts with a prophet receiving a vision or dream and then it is followed by its interpretation. This happens all throughout the book of Daniel, a clear example is Daniel chapter ten where the dream is introduced in verse one, “ In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.”(NIV). From verses 2-14 the vision is described and then verses 15-27 the visions interpretation is given.
In chapter 7 of the book of Daniel, Daniel receives a vision of four mighty beasts. They arose from the sea, one after the other. They were said to be unlike each other. The first beast was similar to a lion but had wings of an eagle , the second was a bear holding three ribs in its mouth. The third like a leopard with four wings and heads and the last beast was the strongest having ten horns and three horns were torn off and in its place were eyes like of a man which had a “mouth speaking great things”. Then soon after the Lord , who sat on a throne that “was like a fiery flame”, came and defeated the beast until all dominion was given to him. The interpretation of this dream came to be that the beast were kingdoms and that God will come to overthrow them and set up an everlasting kingdom that will reign forever and ever.
John F. Walvrood believes this dream connects directly to the great empires at the time. He states “Daniel traces the course of four great world empires, namely, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, concluding in the climax of world history in the second coming of Jesus Christ and the inauguration of the eternal kingdom of God”(Daniel’s Vision Of World History).