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2. Copyright 2002 by Review and Herald Publishing Association All rights reserved The author assumes full responsibility for the accuracy of all facts and quotations as cited in this book. Unless otherwise noted, Bible texts are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1994 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Bible texts credited to RSV are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1946, 1952, 1971, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. This book was Edited by Gerald Wheeler Copyedited by Lori Halvorsen and James Cavil Designed by Tina Ivany Electronic makeup by Shirley M. Bolivar Cover: Photographer: Garry Black/Masterfile Typeset: 11/13 Cambria PRINTED IN U.S.A. 060504030254321 R&H Cataloging Service Rodrguez, Angel Manuel, 1945- Future glory: the 8 greatest end-time prophecies in the Bible. 1. BibleProphecies.2. Bible. O.T. DanielStudy and Teaching. 3. Bible. N.T. RevelationStudy and Teaching.I. Title. 220.15 ISBN 0-8280-1630-5 Lovingly Dedicated to Dixil Lisbeth May the blessed hope continue always to enrich your life.
3. Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.Interpreting Apocalyptic Prophecies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 2.Daniel 2 and 7: The ABCs of Apocalyptic Prophecies22 3.The Son of Man and the Final Judgment33 4.Daniel 8: The Prince of the Heavenly Host46 5.Daniel 9: The Coming of the Messiah57 6.The Eschatological Day of Atonement69 7.Matthew 24: Jesus Sermon on Apocalyptic Prophecy 81 8.The Child, the Woman, and the Dragon: Revelation 12 91 9.Instruments of the Dragon Against the RemnantI: The Beast From the Sea 103 10.Instruments of the Dragon Against the RemnantII: The Beast From the Earth 114 11.The Three Angels Messages: Revelation 14:1-12125 12.The Climax of Apocalyptic Expectation: The Blessed Hope137 13.Preparing for the Apocalyptic Consummation145
4. 9 Introduction The uncertainty of the future often produces fear and disorientation in many lives. The ancients attempted to deal with such existential anguish by developing methods to predict the future or to avert suspected future evils. They sought to find ways to control the unknown in order to enjoy the present. Yet the future has remained elusive. We debate whether history has a particular purpose or notwhether it is heading toward a specific goal (what the Greeks called telos, or end). But even those who tend to believe that human history has purpose are still not clear about the nature of that telos. Probably the best known theory of the future is a form of the theory of evolution that holds that we come from the womb of nature heading to- ward fullness of being. But even here the nature of that perfect development remains unknown to us. The Bible provides a vision of the future that has filled the lives of millions with inexpressible hope and expecta- tion. The God who created and who acted on our behalf in human history through the ministry of Jesus and His saving death on the cross is about to consummate His work of salvation in a way and magnitude that the most fertile imagination cannot begin to fathom. It is particularly through apocalyptic prophecies that God has revealed to us some details of His loving plan for the human race. Characteristics of Apocalyptic Prophecies The term apocalyptic comes from the name of the book of Revelation (apokalupsis, disclosure, revelation) and des- ignates prophetic writings written in the same style as Revelation or that convey a similar message or theology. We find in the Bible different types of literature, all of them in- spired by God. Some biblical writers used stories or narrated the way the Lord led His people in the past in order to
5. Future Glory 10 strengthen the faith of their contemporaries (e.g., 1, 2 Kings). Others communicated their messages through ser- mons in the form of poetry (e.g., Isaiah 40-66), songs (e.g., Psalms), wisdom sayings (e.g., Proverbs), or letters (e.g., Romans). But Daniel and Revelation stand apart from those in the complexity of the images and language used to re- ceive and communicate the divine revelation. Let us ex- plore some of the basic characteristics of apocalyptic prophecies. 1. Use of Visions and Dreams: God used visions and dreams to reveal His message to His prophets (Gen. 28:12- 21; 1 Kings 22:19), but more often they simply heard His voice speaking to them (Jer. 1:4). In the books of Daniel and Revelation, though, visions, and in a few cases dreams, took central stage as the primary means of divine revelation. The Holy Spirit took the two prophets beyond the common world to a reality that escaped their full comprehension. This mode of revelation emphasized the fact that what the prophets received was of a transcendental nature not accessible to any other individual. The stress on visions also indicated that the communication was a private one between God and those of His servants empowered by the Spirit to receive it. They were Gods chosen agencies to function as mediators of a divine message. Since at times supernatural manifestations accompanied the vision, it validated the revelations divine origin in the eyes of those around the prophets, sometimes even instilling fear in them (e.g., Dan. 10:7). 2. Abundant Use of Symbolic Language and Images: This is obviously one of the most basic differences between prophecy in general and apocalyptic prophecy in particular. Almost every scene in a vision contains strange symbolic images and language: a winged lion, a flying goat with a prominent horn, a dragon with 10 horns and seven heads, the seal of God, etc. In some cases the images are almost bizarre and difficult to understand (e.g., And out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword [Rev. 1:16; cf. Introduction 11 Rev. 8:3-5]). It prompts us to explore the reason for such widespread use of symbolism in apocalyptic prophecies. God probably employed them for several possible reasons. First, verbal, visual, and many other types of symbols are part of our daily life as we seek to communicate with each other. For instance, a sound is a symbol whose meaning is usually determined by its connection with other sounds. The sound dr is meaningless by itself, but when we add another sound to it, such as ess, we immediately find significance in it because it conveys a particular ideanamely dress. Symbols surround us, and we use them almost uncon- sciously. The Lord was using a human structure of communi- cation in order to reach us with His message. Second, a symbol challenges us to think. The more promi- nent or dramatic the symbol is the more curious we tend to become as we feel our need to understand it. Therefore, a symbol stimulates us to search for the meaning being com- municated through it. God used apocalyptic symbolism to challenge us to spend time with His Word, to explore its meaning, and to understand the message that He placed there for us. Third, symbols sometimes emphasize the importance of the message they try to communicate. It seems that the more unusual the symbol is the more vital the message it seeks to express. What He intended to say was so impor- tant that He did not want us to overlook it and, therefore, underlined it by using a variety of symbols. Apocalyptic symbols have as their purpose emphasizing the signifi- cance and urgency of what God presented through them. Fourth, symbols not only reveal something, but also con- ceal meaning. It is necessary for the reader to decode the symbol in order to understand the message. In English- speaking countries the word dress is meaningful because the community or culture associates a particular idea with it. But for a French-speaking person dress is just a sound. For those outside the group the symbol could be meaningless or could even express a different idea (e.g., red in English des-
6. Future Glory 12 ignates a color, while red in Spanish designates a fishing tool [English, net]). God used many symbols that were com- mon in the time of the biblical writers but in some cases in- vested them with meanings known only to the community of believers. In this way He protected them from attack by ene- mies whose identity was concealed within the symbols. Because symbols could reveal and conceal at the same time, it is important to interpret them in light of the biblical text. It is there that we find the meaning that God Himself attached to them. 3. Unconditional Nature of Apocalyptic Prophecy: Many biblical prophecies have a conditional nature.* That is to say, their fulfillment depended to a large extent on the human re- spon