Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 1 – The Big Picture
by Gerald R. Thompson
THE OVERARCHING NARRATIVE
The kingdom is coming, the kingdom is coming.
Gen. 3:14-19 (summary) –
v. 14 Curse of the serpent
v. 15 “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
v. 16 Bearing children will be painful, husbands and wives will struggle for power
v. 17-18 The curse of the ground
v. 19 The introduction of death into the world
I said before that prophecy is just God’s way of telling us a story. Well, this is the beginning of the story. We have in these few verses of Gen. 3 not merely the results of the Fall of mankind, but several of the major themes of the Bible inaugurated, including the key to all end-times prophecy.
You probably already know these verses first introduce the theme of redemption in the Bible. Mankind sins, becomes separated from God, and lives under a curse he cannot remove. But in verse 15, the seed of the woman (referring to Jesus Christ) is predicted to overcome Satan (the serpent). Satan will nip at Jesus’ heels, but ultimately Jesus will step on Satan’s head and crush him. Thus, the theme of redemption and salvation is introduced.
What is oftentimes missed is that this epic battle between Jesus and Satan has two main parts, that is, the spiritual side (the Gospel of spiritual salvation) and the temporal/political side (the conquest of evil in the physical world). The Jews living at the time of Christ were familiar with Gen. 3 and knew that the Messiah would conquer evil, so they assumed he would bring salvation and destroy his enemies in the same way at the same time. They never guessed that these would be done separately, by different means, and with a lot of time in between – but neither would I have guessed it.
What I’m saying is that all prophecies of the end times, all prophecies of God’s judgment of the nations, and all prophecies of the conquest of evil are in fact parts of a single narrative, namely, the conquest of Satan by Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. These prophecies come at different times through different messengers, and often use different terminology and/or names of the major players, but they are all parts of the same puzzle piecing together the same picture. You’ve heard of the scarlet thread of redemption that runs through the whole Bible, well here is the golden thread of the kingdom of Christ that also runs through the whole Bible.
It is like a series of novels by the same author which fit together as a unit. Each book tells its own story, has its own characters, and involves numerous subplots, but each book in the series is part of a larger narrative – the coming conflict between good and evil which will result in a final climactic battle in which the forces of evil are destroyed to make way for the kingdom of Christ. The theme is introduced at the beginning, and all kinds of things happen along the way, but with each book the overarching narrative becomes more clear and more imminent.
Biblical prophecy is like that. There is one story God is telling. Everything that happens along the way somehow fits into that story. We learn more as time goes by and the more each book of the Bible is read together with the others. Many different characters are introduced along the way, but instead of telling different stories, they are merely the same story looked at another way, in a different context, or from a different point of view, but all pointing to the same ending.
This pattern as used between separate books of the Bible is also repeated within the book of Revelation. The various prophecies of Revelation, especially chap. 6-18, overlap each other and are not all separate. They often cover the same events from different perspectives and are not meant to be read as wholly separate occurrences. Nor are they meant to be understood as happening in the same chronological order corresponding with when they are mentioned in Revelation.
Thus, the red dragon with seven heads and ten horns of Rev. 12 is not necessarily different from the scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns in Rev. 17. One does not necessarily follow the other in time. They are likely the same thing looked at in two contexts, the first with respect to Israel, and the second regarding historic world empires. The same entity is described in different contexts both for emphasis and for giving a fuller picture. Which is to say, each account gives us some new information the other account does not, but they both relate to the same thing.
This same principle applies to separate books of the Bible. Events described in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation and elsewhere may use different imagery and character names, but they may also relate to the same foretold event, character or entity. Or, as is often the case, they focus on different parts of the same event, character or entity. Once you see the thread that ties them all together, it starts to make a whole lot more sense.
One of the toughest things for people to grasp, for example, is that the First Resurrection (“Rapture”), the great earthquake, the battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming, the conversion of Israel, and the beginning of the Millennium all occur almost simultaneously – if not all on the same calendar day, then surely within a 24 hour period. But when prophecies describe these events, some will focus on what is happening in heaven, what is happening to the physical earth, what is happening to Christ’s enemies, or what is happening to God’s people, depending on the context. Adding to the confusion are multiple scriptures in both testaments referring to these same things from different angles. You have to put them all together like a jigsaw puzzle to make sense of them.
The first key to understanding the big story is to understand who the major players are, and what names they go by – realizing that each of them go by several names. Thus, God goes by several names in the Bible: Elohim (Creator, God), Yahweh (Jehovah, I AM, Lord), Adonai (Master, Lord), El Shaddai (the Almighty), etc.
The same is true for Jesus, who is also known as Yeshua, Emmanuel, Messiah, Christ, etc. Many of these names are actually descriptions or titles rather than a personal name as such. Thus, Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Son of God, Son of Man, Son of David, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, the Christ or Messiah, the Branch or the root of Jesse, the morning star, etc.
If you actually thought all these names and descriptions referred to different persons, you would be terribly confused reading the Bible. You would conclude that the Bible has multiple gods and multiple saviors. A key to understanding is to realize that God has many names and descriptions but they all refer to the same God. Similarly, Jesus goes by many names and titles, but they all refer to only one Son of God, and one Savior.
Well, the same is true for Satan and the Antichrist, each of whom goes by many names. When you see the various names, if you take them all as different persons, you will be confused. When you realize who they really are, clarity will result.
We have seen the story of the Fall (Gen. 3) introducing the character of the serpent. Other portions of the Bible identify the serpent as Satan. See, Rev. 20:2. But the Bible shows us that Satan has many names and descriptions, including Lucifer, serpent, devil, fallen angel, a roaring lion, dragon, father of lies, god of this world, prince of the power of the air, angel of light, etc.
Some other names and descriptions of Satan are less well known because they are allegorical, or symbolic, but these are the ones used in prophecy so you need to know them: son of the dawn, Gog, Beelzebul or Beelzebub (“Lord of the Flies”), Baal, Belial, Abaddon, Apollyon, King of Babylon, etc.
Similarly, the Antichrist has many names and descriptions: man of sin, little horn, the Assyrian, Nimrod, man of lawlessness or the lawless one, son of perdition, the beast, the prince that shall come, the bloody and deceitful man, man of the earth, the mighty man, etc.
So you see, there are all these names and descriptions, but there are only four principal players: God, Jesus, Satan and the Antichrist. The main story is how these four play out in the battle of good vs. evil. Everyone else is secondary. These secondary players each have a unique part to play, but they all contribute to the overall narrative. The trick is not to get sidetracked with all the subplots and lose sight of the overall narrative.