Eschatology 101: Prophetic Language (Part 1)
*Note: this article is polished & re-posted*
Throughout this "Eschatology 101" series I have been addressing the major issues and themes of eschatology. I've been particularly focused on eschatology from the preterist perspective. I'd like to step away from that for a moment and do a slower passage by passage look at prophetic language in the Old Testament. This isn't really meant to convince people as much as it is to help explain some of my thinking and hermeneutic.
This series will look at Leviticus 18:24-30, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 104:1-4, Isaiah 13:9-11, Isaiah 19:1-4 and Micah 1:1-4 (Note that this list could change as the series increases).
Understanding the normative use of prophetic language can be freeing and invigorating for the believer who has previously discarded these as "difficult passages". Instead I'll be working from the simplistic paradigm that God reveals Himself in His word to be understood by His people. And when we return to understanding how His people understood this language, we will be excited by our new found depth in understanding God's word. Of course, then we'll be responsible for it. But we'll cross that bridge when we get there since many of ya'll will remain in disagreement with me! :-)
There are a couple things that can be stated generally about these Old Testament passages before getting into the gritty details. First they are intentionally and explicitly personal. This actually is meant in two ways. The more important way is that God Himself is the individual interacting in much of this language. These are the descriptive actions of God against specific people. This is Him revealing Himself as He interacts in history.
The second important element to the idea of "personal" is the recognition that God is moving against a very select people. In many cases it is His covenant people. In some cases He is moving against those who oppose His covenant people. But in almost no case is God declaring judgment against an unnamed recipient.
The second general thing that can be stated is that these passages are definitively historical. this is probably one of the places where there will be significant disagreement. But I will contend that all these events and passages were revealed to a specific historical audience that had the means to understand them. Building upon that many (I would argue all) of these passages describe historical events that have already occurred. Far from symbolically wishing these passages away, I'm going to use Biblical symbolism to show that they are historically valid and sure.
The final general thing to be stated is that theses passages are judgmental. These personal and historical acts of God are focused on bringing judgment against the people who have rejected Him. These are not casual works of God. Nor are they generic. But they are repeatable actions that are demonstrated as God brings judgment on faithless people. They demonstrate God's character and point us forward to the final judgment.
So sit back and enjoy the walk through important texts that provide insight into the prophetic texts of the New Testament.