Apocalypse When?
 
I. Apocalyptic: Images of the End
The rise of apocalyptic literature
Old Testament Images: New Testament Images:
Sun, moon, and stars tell the times (Joel 2) The heavens darken (Luke 23:44-45)
The king delivers Israel from Babylon (Zech. 9) The Son of Man comes to judge the world (Matt. 24:29-31, 25:31-46, Rev. 8-11? Rev. 15-18, Rev. 19, Rev. 20:11-15)
The fourth beast rises and falls (Dan. 7); a ram and a goat (Dan. 8, esp. 8:19) The dragon, beast, false prophet rise and fall (Rev. 12-13)
Seventy weeks left (Dan. 9) The day and the hour (Mark 13:32-36)
Israel is persecuted: the Abomination of Desolation (Dan. 10-11) Tribulation (Matt. 24:1-28, Rev. 6, cf. Rev. 7:14); the rise of the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess. 2:1-12)
Resurrection and rescue (Dan. 12) "Rapture" (1 Thess. 4:13-5:11, cf. Ascension)
Messiah restores Israel (Zech. 13-14) Jesus reigns in the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-6), then in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-22:5)
Summary: God will deliver Israel through its present trials Summary: Jesus will deliver the Church through its present trials
 
II. Flying Horses, or Helicopters? (Mis)reading Apocalyptic Literature
apocalypsis: revelation / unveiling (not catastrophe)
Not reporting, secret messages, or mere prediction ("The Omega Code") ...
... Instead, a literary genre, using specific literary devices
... Intertextual, borrowing images from earlier apocalyptic
... Offering words of comfort to persecuted believers
... Addressed to present audiences, not just future ones ("Pale Rider")
 
III. Adding It Up: Visions of God's Endgame
Christians disagree on whether and how to harmonize and interpret texts
Interpretation can be literal, figurative, or allegorical
Premillennialism: Jesus' coming (parousia) brings the Millennium
Ancient and modern premillennialisms
Dispensational timelines (J.N. Darby, illustrated by Clarence Larkin): Rapture/Tribulation, Return, Millennium, Apostasy, Judgment, New Jerusalem
Postmillennialism: The Millennium precedes the parousia
The world improves as the Church spreads
Smooth transition to the Millennium, Jesus makes a "soft landing"
Ancient and modern postmillennialisms (Joachim of Fiore, R.J. Rushdoony)
Amillennialism: No literal Millennium
Augustine: Millennium and Tribulation are the whole Church age
Reformers: The medieval papacy is the final apostasy (Rev. 20:7)
Problems:
Allegory de-Judaizes apocalyptic literature
Harmony ignores Jesus' transformation of apocalyptic
Apocalyptic intertextuality resists synchronization
 
IV. What Do The Texts Do?
The Bible doesn't just "mean things"; it works
Apocalyptic changes its readers
Apocalyptic brings God's future judgment into the present (Dan. 5:26-28)
Apocalyptic unites God's judgments eschatologically
Apocalyptic offers an ethic: "Watch" (Mark 13:32-37)