Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
by Gerald R. Thompson
Before diving into the topic of end times prophecy, or eschatology, you should ask the question, “What on earth is God doing?” So many people get caught up in timelines and prophecy charts that they never see what the big picture looks like – meaning, the totality of God’s prophetic plan. The reality is that prophecy is just God’s way of telling us a story. The story has a beginning, a middle, an ending, and a consistent plot line.
The closest any scripture text comes to giving us the overall purpose of the story is Dan. 9:24: “to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.” Certainly, if you consider everything that is yet to come – including the new heaven and new earth – these are the things God is going to accomplish for His people.
In other words, the goal of this inquiry is not to produce a new or innovative master timeline of the end times – although, admittedly, I have prepared one for you at the end of this book. What I am trying to do here is determine the purposes God will accomplish in the end times, not necessarily when they will occur. We will of course consider a number of timing and sequence issues, but the reasons why things will happen always take priority over the question of when. That is why, optimally, you should look at my timeline last – after you have read the analysis behind it.
Furthermore, I am not going to attempt to show how any long past or recent events have already fulfilled end times prophecies. I am not going to link any end times prophecies with historical chronologies. I will not attempt to identify who the Antichrist was or will be. I will not claim that end times prophecy is literally being fulfilled as we watch. My own belief is that the end times are not far off, as far as world history goes, but as of this writing, we are not there yet. Predicting when the end times will arrive is not why I have undertaken this task, either. Although, again, I will offer a possibility for your consideration – but no, I am not setting any dates.
I have tried very hard to examine the textual evidence multiple times over the years so as to discern what God intends to do free from any hidden agendas. I will fully disclose my assumptions as I go along. I’m not promoting the views of any particular church or ministry, I didn’t come up with my basic thesis (next paragraph) until after I researched the material and started putting my findings in writing, and I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I think I have arrived at some conclusions worth considering.
Looking at the textual evidence as objectively as I can, I believe God has four primary objectives in mind whenever He gets around to wrapping up history. This book is therefore organized in keeping with these purposes, and not primarily in chronological order or for the purpose of making predictions. I will explain these four purposes more in the next section. These four purposes are:
1) judging and punishing the disobedient nations of the world (especially those which have waged war against Israel, both in ancient and modern times) [Part 2];
2) restoring the land, safety, wealth and hearts of the Jewish people as a nation [Part 3];
3) letting Satan and his agents bring sin to its full fruition in the world, so that Jesus can come and conquer them [Part 4]; and
4) establishing both a preliminary and a final kingdom of Christ so He can rule the present and future world in righteousness forever [Part 5].
Before examining these purposes, I will lay a general foundation for understanding prophecy in this Introduction and in Part 1. This Part 1 may seem tedious to go through, but mastering the information there will help you in processing everything else that is to come.
Additionally, what very few commentators (if any) have addressed about the end times is what the political landscape will look like immediately before, and then following on the heels of, the Second Coming. To say the world is headed for tremendous political upheaval is an understatement. By God’s design, world politics will first be hijacked, and then transformed, by the Antichrist. Globalization efforts will reach their peak and then collapse. Then all of that will be erased to make way for a new world political order that will succeed where the Third Reich failed – to last a thousand years.
Forget all about “top-down, bottom-up and inside-out” models of political change during the end times. This is not going to be a people’s revolution. It’s all going to be top-down when we get to the end. In fact, it’s going to be a colossal clash of kingdoms with more collateral damage in human lives than you have ever imagined. Neither side will be taking any prisoners.
You may not think it wise for me to mix religion and politics, but to me they are the same thing. Welcome to the world of biblical prophecy through a lawyer’s eyes.
For the vast majority of authors and commentators examining the subject of biblical end times prophecy, the organizing principle is a time line of some kind. Some of these can be quite intricate, predicting the exact sequence and timing of events for which scriptures give either vague or no time descriptions. For example, many of these time lines are based on a seven year tribulation period divided in half, when there simply are no scriptures describing which half of the tribulation the seven seals, seven trumpets or seven bowls will occur in, and the scriptural basis even for the existence of a seven year period is dubious at best.
But the mere reliance on a master time line as a means of understanding the end times is, I suggest, greatly flawed – no matter what the time line looks like. Rather, understanding the end times comes from an appreciation of the purposes of God that He intends to accomplish.
There are four such key purposes: 1) the judgment of the nations – mostly directed at those which are historical enemies of Israel, but Israel is also among the nations which are judged; 2) the restoration of Israel – in which Israel becomes preeminent among the nations, is the center of world government, peace and prosperity are overflowing, and all Israel remaining when the restoration comes will be saved; 3) the conquest of evil – including the punishment or confinement of the Satanic trinity and the demon hordes and the utter destruction of the beast kingdom; and 4) the establishment of the earthly kingdom of Christ – otherwise known as the Millennium, when Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem and the saints will reign as part of His government.
If you think of prophecy as a jigsaw puzzle, with many pieces all over the place but ultimately interlocking and being part of a single large picture, the question is how to go about solving the puzzle, i.e., finding the correct place where each piece goes. The best way to solve the puzzle is to start with the corner pieces to define the edges of the picture, and then to work your way to the center of the puzzle. Every piece you place correctly ultimately reduces the number of possible places other pieces can fit, and eventually the picture becomes clear.
The four purposes of God as outlined above are the four corners of the puzzle – this is where we must start. If we get these wrong, nothing else will fit right. These four purposes are all connected to each other – giving us the edges of the puzzle. Thus, the judgment of the nations is connected to the restoration of Israel by the fact that the Gentile nations must be brought low (defeated, in any case, and for some, utterly eliminated) before Israel can be raised up. It wouldn’t do much good for Israel to be raised up if the possibility existed for other nations to overthrow it afterward. That possibility must be eliminated.
The restoration of Israel is connected to the conquest of evil by the fact that the people of God will know true peace only when the forces of evil are destroyed. You see, it isn’t just the governments of men that threaten God’s people, but also the powers and principalities of the air – Satan and his human agents (Antichrist and False Prophet) and his angelic forces (the demon horde). And since the principal dominion of Satan relates to the governments of this world, his kingdom must be completely overthrown as well as the kingdoms of men before the people of God can be secure.
The conquest of evil is connected to the establishment of the earthly kingdom of Christ by the fact that Satan’s kingdom must be destroyed before righteousness can reign. Unlike the present, when Christ sits at the right hand of God in heaven, when He returns His rule will be absolute and unlimited – meaning that all inconsistent claims to sovereignty must be eliminated. As long as Satan is free to roam about the world, he will claim an inconsistent sovereignty, so he must be unquestionably restrained during the entirety of Christ’s rule.
The establishment of the earthly kingdom of Christ is connected to the judgment of the nations by the fact that before Christ can rule the world, all other rulers must be subjugated. One of the key attributes of the kingdom of Christ is that all of His enemies will be made a footstool for his feet and His dominion will be worldwide. There will not be any pockets of resistance allowed to exist in some far corner of the globe – all the nations will bow to Christ and acknowledge His kingship. Thus, it is necessary for the nations to be judged before Christ sits on His throne. This, then, defines the edges of the prophetic picture.
Moving to the interior of the puzzle, the four corners are connected in other ways as well. Thus, the judgment of the nations is connected to the conquest of evil by the fact that both the world’s kingdoms and the demonic forces must be defeated together to fully conquer evil. It would hardly do to defeat one and not the other and expect to achieve the desired result of world peace.
Similarly, the restoration of Israel and the earthly kingdom of Christ are connected in many ways. Christ’s kingdom will be headquartered in Jerusalem where Israel will be preeminent among the nations. The Golden Age or Messianic Era of Israel will exactly coincide with the Millennial kingdom of Christ. The Church will begin its reign and all Israel will be saved within probably 24 hours of each other, and both will last for the same amount of time. However, Israel and the Church will never merge institutionally – they will each exist somewhat separately, but cooperate in complimentary fashion for both political and religious purposes.
At the center of everything is Jerusalem: the nations will be judged just outside its walls (i.e., Armageddon), when Israel is restored Jerusalem will be its capital, Satan will be defeated when his agent the Antichrist attempts to destroy Jerusalem, the Third Temple will be built in Jerusalem, and the earthly kingdom of Christ will be headquartered (where else?) in Jerusalem.
With this framework in place, we can begin to place other pieces of the puzzle (as indicated on the chart in red). Thus, when all the pieces are placed, they interlock with each other and form a unified picture of the future. With this understanding we can then go back and look at the timing and sequence issues and try to make some sense of them. But keep your priorities straight – God’s purposes are more important than time lines.
See the attached chart of biblical prophecy illustrating these four purposes in Appendix A.
Next: Interpretive Context