In the first centuries following the time of the Apostles, the early Church was expecting and looking for the eminent Return of Jesus. As time passed, they became discouraged and sought to understand the Scripture that told of the promised Return. Eventually, Christians rationalized the fact that Jesus had not returned and came up with the theory that the promise of His Return was not literal, but figurative. They reasoned that the Return of Jesus would not be a literal return. Therefore, it followed that if this promise was not literal, then all the promises of the Word were not literal, but figurative. Because Israel had long since ceased to exist, it was “logical” that the promises in the Bible applied to the Church and not Israel.
This theory has resided in the Church through the centuries. When Martin Luther initiated what became known as the Reformation in 1517, he did not address this issue of figurative interpretation and it continued in the churches that protested against Catholic dogma and policies, or the Protestants. Today, an estimated eighty-five percent of all churches still follow this ancient theory of figurative or spiritual fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
I call this a theory because I find no scriptural evidence to indicate that the Lord is going to or has changed his prophetic methodology. The result of this theological theory is the belief and preaching that there is no “rapture,” no millennial kingdom and the many promises made by the Lord to Israel now accrue to the Church.
I have difficulty with this theory because all prophecy that has been fulfilled has been fulfilled literally. Jesus was literally born of a virgin. He literally suffered and died. And in our own era, the people Israel are literally back in the land of Israel, the Promised Land. I believe He will literally return for His Church.
Here is one of the promises made to Israel:
“Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.’ – Jeremiah 31:35-37The Lord repeats this concept in Jeremiah 33:20 and 33:25. Notice the big “IF” stated twice. “If these ordinances depart”, and “if heaven above can be measured,” then the Lord will forget His promises to Israel. This has not happened.
This may be simple, but I am a simple person. I believe that the Lord says what He means and means what He says. So far, the ordinances of day and night and God’s control of the seas have not ceased. Believe the Word!! Trust in the Lord!! The Lord is sovereign.
I look forward to His literal Return. Praise His name for being in command.