Prophecy and the End-Times

What is Premillennial Dispensationalism?

Beliefs about the end of the world come out of a complex system of biblical interpretation known as dispensationalism, which is a version of premillennialism (the belief that Christ will return before setting up his millennial kingdom). Dispensationalism divides up the Bible and human history into various eras or dispensations, based on how God deals with humanity. The system detected two distinct divine plans, one for an "earthly" people (Israel) and the other for a "heavenly" people (the church). The key to this entire prophetic plan is the refounding of Israel as a nation state in Palestine.





There is no consensus in the Evangelical community on eschatology, the theology of the "last things." There are many Evangelicals, however, that do not accept Premillennial Dispensationalism.

Books like Daniel and Revelation were written in times of persecution and were purposely opaque to those outside of the communities that generated them. Much of their imagery and theology is connected more to ancient texts left outside the biblical canon than the books contained in the Bible. Second, followers of PD seem never to be satisfied with Christ's own warning that "No one knows the day or hour." Hal Lindsey has been embarrassed by the need to "adjust" his Last Day predictions made in The Late Great Planet Earth. In his book, he predicted that the end would come within a generation (usually 40 years) of the founding of Israel: 1948. Now prophecy proponents begin the timetable at the Israeli capture of east Jerusalem in 1967.

For a hundred and fifty years, some Christian dispensationalists have been predicting the following:

After the the Jews are regathered in the Holy Land, human civilization will begin to unravel. Morals will decline, families will break apart, crime and anarchy will increase. Wars, political and economic unrest, natural disasters, unstoppable epidemics, shifts in weather patterns, and other calamities will increase suffering and despair. Organized Christianity will experience apostasy; religious leaders will abandon historic beliefs and behavioral standards and openly embrace heresy and immorality. Despite massive efforts to stop civilization's demise, nothing can stop its downward slide.

After the rapture of the church, a charismatic leader will gain a following by promising peace and security. This Antichrist heads up a ten-nation confederacy in western Europe. Unaware of Antichrist's true identity, Israel will sign a treaty with him to guarantee its security, then rebuild its temple in Jerusalem. After three and a half years, Antichrist will break the treaty, declare himself to be God, and persecute all who refuse to worship him and receive his mark on their foreheads. Antichrist will be helped by a False Prophet, a seductive religious leader, who will use miraculous powers and repressive measures to force compliance. For three and a half years, a remnant of God's people who were converted after the Rapture (Rev. 7:4) will suffer horrible persecution in the Great Tribulation.

Despite Antichrist's power, other nations will rise in opposition. Some time after Antichrist betrays Israel, a northern confederation of nations under Russian control will join with a southern confederacy to launch a devastating double attack against Israel. This move will prompt the intervention of Antichrist's armies from the west and a 200-million-man army under the "kings of the east." As armies from east and west converge on Israel, the Russian confederates will try to destroy Israel; but God will intervene to destroy them.

With the northern confederacy annihilated, the forces of Antichrist and the "kings of the east" will do battle at Armageddon, a valley northwest of Jerusalem. While the battle rages, Jesus will return, wipe out the surviving armies, subdue Antichrist, and set up his millennial kingdom. Finally, the surviving Jews will accept Jesus as their Messiah. For a thousand years, King Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem, while Jewish priests perform sacrifices in the restored temple. In the end, God will fulfill all the promises to Israel. The redemptive plan will be complete.