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How can Bible prophecy be interpreted in light of modern events? What are the ‘last days’ and how does Scripture describe them? How does the book of Daniel, written millennia ago, factor into expecting the world as we know it to end in the future? Is time running out? What is the purpose of the Tribulation?
What does the Bible mean when it speaks of “the age” and how does it foretell of its ending?
John Hagee: Dispensationalism is a series of defined periods, or ages, in history where God’s purpose and assigned stewardship for mankind is found. There are references to “ages” and “dispensations” in Scripture and each word carries a different meaning. Whereas “age” has to do with a period of time, “dispensation” refers to an assigned stewardship occurring inside a time or age; either within an age, a complete age, or even a sequence of ages.
The seven dispensations distinguishing God’s work on earth are as follows:
- The first age is called the Dispensation of Innocence, which began with the creation of Adam and Eve and ends with their fall and eviction from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:26; 2:16–17; 3:6; and 3:22–24).
- The second age is known as the Dispensation of Conscience. It began with the expulsion from the Garden and lasted through the Antediluvian Flood (Genesis 3:7,22; 6:5, 11–12; and 7:11–12, 23).
- The Dispensation of Human Government is the third age, and it began with Noah and his family after the flood and lasted through the Tower of Babel with the establishment of various world nations and cultures (Genesis 9:1–2 and 11:1–8).
- The fourth age is called the Dispensation of Promise. It opened with God’s covenant call of Abraham and closed with Moses receiving God’s Law at Mount Sinai (Genesis 12:1–3; 15:5; 26:3; 28:12–13; 13:14–17 and Exodus 1:13–14).
- The Dispensation of Law is the fifth age, and it started with the Exodus until the death of Jesus Christ in CE 30–33 (Exodus 19:1–8; Romans 3:19–20 and 10:5; Acts 2:22–23 and 7:51–52; Galatians 3:10, and 2 Kings 25:1–11).
- The sixth age is called the Dispensation of Grace, or the Church Age, and it began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) and ends with the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4). It is the present age, and it occurs between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s vision (Daniel 9:24).
- The end of the Dispensation of Grace is unknown—but will end with the Rapture of the Church and will be followed by the seventh and final age; the Millennial Reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4). This age of perfect peace will last a thousand years and will end with the Great White Throne Judgment of the wicked (Revelation 20:1–15). The Almighty will then destroy the heavens and the earth by fire, creating a new heaven and new earth. Afterward, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will establish his Final Throne in the city of Jerusalem (Revelation 21).
Why have you fashioned your book’s chapter titles to be time stamps beginning with “11:50 PM” leading minute-by-minute to midnight?
John Hagee: In part, the book’s chapters are aligned with the minutes before midnight to show the reader how close we are to the End of the Age.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists created a clock, not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle, but a timepiece to reflect basic changes in the level of the continuous danger in which mankind lives in the present nuclear age.
In 1947, when the clock first appeared, the hands were set at seven minutes to midnight, with midnight being the moment of ultimate doom. As mankind alternated between hostility and peace in the succeeding years, the hands of the Doomsday Clock have moved back and forth, constantly reminding us that, if left unchecked, we are nearing a nuclear annihilation.
God has a similar clock; however, its hands never move backward—only forward. In designing the layout of this book, I’ve taken a cue from the inventors of the Doomsday Clock. The hands on the clock pictured at the beginning of each chapter do not represent an actual moment, of course, but rather the order in which a predetermined event will come to pass. God’s prophetic timepiece is currently approaching the stroke of midnight when the world as we know it will end.
How does the book of Daniel, written millennia ago, factor into expecting the world as we know it to end in the future?
John Hagee: No other prophet’s writing is as significant as Daniel’s. His book portrays several visions in which the future of the world is revealed, and many of these insights have been fulfilled with 100% accuracy.
Daniel, known as the Prince of Prophets, was a great influencer. Jesus quoted from the book of Daniel in his Mount Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). The book of Revelation becomes clearer when studied alongside the book of Daniel, and Paul’s “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the Antichrist, is seen as a flesh-and-blood being when viewed in the light of Daniel’s insight.
God gave the prophet Daniel a glimpse into the future, and one of those prophetic visions shook Daniel so profoundly that he fainted and took to his bed for several days (Daniel 8:27). Daniel saw what was coming, he accepted it as the work of a sovereign and just God, yet still he was taken aback by the sight of future events.
How should Christians approach the subject of biblical prophecy?
John Hagee: Believers need to know what God has planned for the end of the age. Through the study of biblical prophecy, we attain wisdom and understanding and come to accept God’s perfect plan (Proverbs 19:8). It is in this knowing that we gain confidence, strength, peace, and hope for the future.
However, many have turned away from the study of Bible prophecy to place their confidence in false teachers and counterfeit prophets. Our trust should be in God Almighty—the creator of Heaven and Earth. God’s children should not be carried away on the winds of false doctrine. Our loving Father desires for us to understand his Word, and a large portion of that Word is prophetic. The Almighty’s plan existed from the foundations of the Earth—and just as God himself does not change—his plans for the world will not change either.
All Scripture, to include prophecy, attests to the divine inspiration of the architect of the ages. The Bible is different from all other books that form the foundation for other major religions. Those writings only interpret the present or deal with the past. In contrast, the Bible was 25% prophecy when written. From Genesis to Revelation, countless prophecies were given, and most have been exactly fulfilled. This confirms the revelation, validity, and authority of Scripture.
The apostle Peter wrote that Bible prophecy would be of benefit to the church until the end of the age, “Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). The “morning star” is none other than Jesus Christ: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16).
As we contemplate the future, we’ll discover that prophecy produces peace and hope in the heart of every believer. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). The Savior comforted his disciples’ hearts—and our own—with a prophetic promise: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3).
As we witness daily news reports predicting a global economic collapse, the dangerous increase of Iran’s nuclear power capabilities, China’s quest for world dominance, the skyrocketing rate of suicide, the rising threat of socialism, the anarchy spilling into the streets, the attack on our nation’s capital, and the mounting death toll due to the coronavirus, we can still be comforted in the prophetic Scriptures, which confirm that God is still on his throne and will reign in power and glory in the age to come.
How was Jesus entering Jerusalem for the Passover Feast a fulfillment of prophecy?
John Hagee: To better understand the significance of Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the City of David, we must look again to Daniel’s prophecies in chapter 9, verses 24-27.
What was the length of the period intervening between the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the public advent of “Messiah the Prince”—between the 14th of March BC 445 and the 6th of April AD 32? The interval contained exactly and to the very day, 173,880 days, or seven times 69 prophetic years of 360 days, the first 69 weeks of Gabriel’s prophecy.
After Jesus entered Jerusalem, Luke 19:47 states that Jesus taught daily in the temple. He was a recognized rabbi—he was at home in the temple—it was his place. Jesus worshiped there and offered sacrifices as commanded by the law of Moses. But the chief priests were threatened by this popular rabbi’s presence, and believed the rumors that Jesus was in Jerusalem to establish the throne of David.
That false claim appeared to become fact when Jesus drove the moneychangers and vendors out of the temple. Could Herod the “fox” (Luke 13:32) and his personally appointed Sanhedrin, Pilate, and the apostate priests (Matthew 26:59) be the next to be driven from the temple? Fearing that their own well-established dynasty, although corrupt, was in jeopardy, they sought to destroy Jesus.
Four days after Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, the Messiah was “cut off,” just as Daniel’s prophecy predicted.
And the Prophetic Clock ticks on.
Are Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah vague enough that any number of Jewish males could claim to fulfill them after rising to prominence as spiritual leaders?
John Hagee: Think of each of the Messianic prophecies as a filter that strains out individuals who don’t meet its requirements, and you’ll realize how unlikely it is that anyone but Jesus of Nazareth could pass through the rigorous standards. If you try to calculate the odds of someone accidentally satisfying more than 300 separate, personal attributes, you end up with one out of a number with 125 zeroes after it—a virtual impossibility.
How is our Information Age a factor in biblical prophecy?
John Hagee: The literal translation of Daniel 12:4 indicates that at the end of the age, an explosion of knowledge will occur. We’re living in that generation.
From the Garden of Eden until the beginning of the 20th century, men walked or rode horses just as King David and Julius Caesar. In the span of a few generations, however, mankind invented the automobile, the jet plane, and the space shuttle. Today you can fly from New York to Paris in six or seven hours. Before the supersonic transport was grounded, it made the trip in three hours.
Today’s technology has increased exponentially. While we’re not necessarily advancing our personal knowledge, technology has made fathomless depths of data available to us at the click of a button. With just a single device that fits easily in the palm of our hand, we can explore endless resources of information.
All this knowledge ought to be a good thing, but still, we’re heading to a day of reckoning. Our knowledge has not produced utopia; instead, it has created a generation of people who know more about rock stars than history. Our “enlightened” society seeks freedom, self-expression, and safe places, but it is actually enslaved by perversion, narcissism, addictions, lawlessness, and hedonism.
We’ve built a society upon the pillars of technology, a capitalistic economy, and human government. Just like in the times of Babel, we have conveniently forgotten or deliberately ignored God’s precepts and warnings in order to go our own way. But as the clock nears midnight, my friend, the birth pangs of the coming end of the age are sending shock waves throughout civilization. The pillars of our society are teetering, and soon they will fall.
What do you say to Christians who have anxiety over the yet-to-come troubles prophesied in Scripture?
John Hagee: Those who know and follow Christ need not fear for their future, no matter how dark things may seem. Chastising his frantic disciples in the midst of a storm, Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20). From Genesis to Revelation, from Abraham to John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos, God tells believers over and over again not to fear.
But faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Faith believes God will take care of his people.
Faith compelled Abraham to look for a city whose builder and architect was God. And by faith, we’ll one day live in that city—the New Jerusalem.
Faith drove Moses into Pharaoh’s court and gave him the courage to demand, “Let my people go!” (Exodus 5:1). Faith parted the waters of the Red Sea and the rushing Jordan River and it also crumbled the walls of Jericho.
Faith urged David to face Goliath while 40,000 cowards watched the battle of the ages from the hillside. “You come to me with a sword, with a spear,” David shouted, with his faith like a rock of determination inside him. “I come to you in the name of the LORD!” (1 Samuel 17:45).
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
John Hagee: Bible Gateway is a great tool to inform our generation that Almighty God, the Architect of the Ages, lives, and reigns and has a specific plan for mankind. That plan is reflected in the Word of God which is a source of encouragement to all who study its precepts. Bible Gateway not only enables believers everywhere to find specific Bible passages, but it also allows the student to dig deeper into the meaning behind each verse which leads to the continued edification of the body of Christ.
The End of the Age is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: John Hagee, author of the bestsellers Jerusalem Countdown, The Battle for Jerusalem, Life Lessons to Live By, and Financial Armageddon, is the founder and pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, and president of Global Evangelism Television.
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