Minutes With Messiah Logo

They Get It Backwards

by Tim O'Hearn

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Iím not sure, but I think Genesis 1 implies that the chicken came first. That is why it is so surprising to me that when it comes to prophecy, many try to make the egg come first. They get things backwards.

From what many people say, and some authors write, you would think that the Revelation of (or to) John would be the first book of the Bible and not the last. In fact, to listen to some, it seems to be the only book of the Bible. Many people make the mistake of interpreting Old Testament prophecy by the book of the Revelation. They have it backwards.

Two books of the Bible that are very similar are Ezekiel and the Revelation. When Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, contrary to some opinion he did not have the book of Revelation as a model. In fact, John was more familiar with Ezekiel than Ezekiel could possibly be with John. There was an almost seven hundred year gap between the two, and Ezekiel came first. Yet many people interpret Ezekiel by the Revelation. They have it backwards. The Revelation can, and should, be interpreted using the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel. But the Old Testament prophecies donít always or often talk of the same time period as the Revelation. The one was written to Jews in captivity, before the coming of Messiah. The other was written to Christians under Rome, after the coming of Messiah.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel promised a restoration of the nation of Israel to the land. They promised a rebuilding of the Temple. They promised the salvation of a remnant of Israel until the coming of Messiah. What many people seem to forget is that these promises, these prophesies, were fulfilled. Most of them were fulfilled centuries before the coming of the promised Messiah. The Jews returned to the land already. They rebuilt the Temple, and it was still standing until about forty years after the crucifixion of Jesus. A remnant was saved until the coming of Messiah. Those promises are completed, and need no further fulfillment. Yet many people see the restoration of a secular Jewish state on the land in Palestine as a sign of the coming of Messiah. They see the problems in the Middle East as the build-up to Armageddon, even though the Revelation doesnít speak of a battle at that location. In interpreting the promises of Ezekiel and Daniel by the Revelation, they get things backward.

It is true that there is still a remnant of the Jews. It is important, perhaps, that there be a remnant. Paulís whole argument in Romans 9-11 is that a remnant of Israel must be kept so that both Jews and non-Jews may be saved. One implication is that the world will not end until at least a portion of the Jews come to believe in Jesus as Messiah. Yes, there is a remnant still. But the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel are fulfilled. We donít need a restoration of Israel to the land to restore Israel to the faith in Messiah they once held.

The Revelation was written to first century Christians to tell them to keep the faith. It foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the persecution of Christians. To that extent, even its prophecies are fulfilled. It tells of a Messiah that is coming again, this time in judgement. He doesnít need a land, since he wonít be spending time on earth again. He wonít need a Temple, because his people are his temple (1 Cor 3:16; 2 Cor 6:16). Even when some people get it backwards, he wonít.