Section 2 .. Reasons To Believe/
Biblical Prophecy and Typology


003whiteSection 2.... Reasons To Believe         >       Prophecy In The Bible       >        Prophecy And Typology             


Prophecy and Typology

Carol Brooks

The inspiration for this article came from a piece written by Jacob Prasch entitled Future History of the Church.

Please note that this article is far from complete. I add to it as I have time.


What is Typology - Scriptural Patterns Or Christian Imagination?

Broad Classification of Biblical Types
Ritual Types
The Priesthood and The Sacrifice For Sin
The Seven Feasts of Israel

Personal Types
Isaac and Rebecca

Historical Types
The Virgin Shall Conceive
Out of Egypt

Examples of Biblical Patterns that May Not Have Been Types
Moses and Joshua
Tisha B'Av and The Destruction of The Temple

Partially Fulfilled Prophecies - The Final Fulfillment Is Yet To Come
Elijah and John The Baptist
Peter and Joel's Prophecy
Joshua and The Seven Trumpets
The Abomination of Desolation
Matthew 24 - The Destruction Of Jerusalem And Future Catastrophic Events
Jesus' Partially Fulfilled Prophecy In Matthew 10

The Prophecies of Revelation - Past or Future?


What is Typology?
In Christian theology typology is the study of types - prefigurative symbols in Scripture. They can be

    1) An actual historical thing or event which, at the time it occurred, was a rough draft or glimpse, of one or more actual events yet to come, although the significance may not have been apparent at the original occurrence.

    2) A type can also be a person who prefigured the Messiah in some way. These 'personal' types were in addition to the many specific Old Testament Messianic prophecies.

In other words, a type was one or more event or person that foreshadowed, pointed to, and culminated in one final and very important event (or person) called the antitype

Scriptural Patterns Or Christian Imagination?
When it comes to typology, opinions range quite widely. On the one hand, there are those that categorically deny that any such thing exists in the Bible. At the other end of the scale are those who see a type in every little detail in the Old Testament.

Situated somewhere between those two extremes are those who believe that even the strongest resemblance between one person and another or one event and another, cannot be called a type unless Scripture specifically says it is. For example, although Joseph's life and Christ's life were parallel is so many ways, they do not consider Joseph as a type of Christ, because the Bible does not explicitly say he is. Only express Biblical validation - such as when Paul confirmed Adam as "a type of Him (Christ) who was to come" (Romans 5:14) -  is acceptable.

The problem here is that types are but another form of prophecy and, if we were to follow this line of reasoning, we would have to throw out all Old Testament prophecy, except the prophecies that are specifically mentioned in the New Testament as being prophecy. This would be ludicrous.

However, there is no question that a mere resemblance between two persons or events does not automatically make something a type. One has to very carefully distinguish between what is merely incidental and what God designed as a preview - something that is not always easy. Not only does a Biblical event or person have to clearly serve as a pattern for another person or event, but there is always a graduation from type to antitype - from the lesser to the greater. For example, when in Romans 5:14 Paul said that Adam "is a type (tupos) of Him (Christ) that was to come", Adam was obviously the lesser type and Jesus Christ the greater antitype.

However, there are also some very interesting repeated patterns in Scripture that aren't necessarily types inasmuch as (to the best of my knowledge) they neither pointed to the Messiah, nor did they seem to indicate some important future event. However, they were undeniable repeated patterns and far too similar or corresponding to be considered merely coincidental. See Biblical Patterns that May Not Have Been Types (below)

And for those who completely deny the existence of types and claim that they are simply the invention of over fertile minds, one has to remind them that Scripture itself used typology in numerous places. For example, in Exodus 20:8, the creation week was said to be a pattern for the Sabbath.

    "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 NASB)

In the New Testament Jesus Himself cited Jonah as a type...

    But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40 NASB)

As Jonah was miraculously rescued from the belly of the fish after three days, Jesus resurrected from the dead after three days. Additionally in the second chapter of his book (Vs. 2) Jonah called the belly of the fish "Sheol" - the land of the dead.

Note: The Old Testament Sheol and the New Testament Hades are the same place. Details

Broad Classification of Biblical Types
Biblical types tend to be fluid - fitting into more than one category. However they can be loosely classified under three headings... Ritual, Personal and Historical

Ritual Types
All the tangible aspects of the Temple and worship in the Old Testament, ie. the Altar, the Offerings, the Tabernacle etc. existed for a reason, to prepare the way for the New and more perfect New Covenant.

While everything was important, to my mind the two most significant examples of ritual types are

    a) the Priesthood and the animal sacrifices for sin.

    b) the Seven Feasts that the nation of Israel was commanded to observe..

The Sacrifice For Sin
Romans 6:23 clearly states that the consequences of sin is death, while Hebrews 9:22 says

    "..all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

In the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, the animal functioned as a substitute for the offender and bore the punishment of the person who had sinned. The Jewish feast of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) was observed once a year. On this, the most solemn and important holy day on the Jewish calendar, the High Priest offered an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people, which brought reconciliation between them and God. 

    "On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord" (Leviticus 16:30).

However, since "it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4), the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were but a 'type' - a temporary measure put in place in anticipation of a future event - the death of the coming Messiah "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). See Salvation

In chapters 9 and 10, Hebrews compares the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrifices with the perfection and permanence of Christ's sacrifice in the New Testament. Because the Levitical system only prefigured Christ's one time sacrifice for sin, there was no longer any need of the Old Testament sanctuary and its rituals after He died.

    Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance... But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:6-7, 11-14 NASB)

The Seven Feasts of Israel
The Seven Feasts of Israel are called the feasts of the Lord because God Himself instituted them- a fact that made these days hugely important in the Israeli calendar. They were holy convocations that took place at "appointed times". The historic and prophetic significance of the Feasts is one of the most fascinating of all Biblical studies. Although believers are not required to keep them (See Jesus and The Law) , every Christian should be very familiar with the Feasts, as they not only celebrate a historical event in Israel's past but are also a prophecy of future events that concern us all.

At the time they were given, every single one of the feasts pointed to something incomprehensibly bigger that was yet to come. They were types - symbols of - the first and second coming of the promised Messiah. In fact, and quite fascinatingly, God's entire plan of salvation for mankind from start to finish, is outlined by these feasts, which were also related to Israel's agricultural seasons.

The first four feasts have already been fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the actual feast days according to the Hebrew calendar. He was sacrificed on Passover, buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. While we certainly do not know exactly how the other three feasts will be fulfilled, it is reasonable to surmise that they will be fulfilled in the same manner - on the actual feast day. (See The Seven Feasts of Israel)

Personal Types
The lives and experiences of certain people in the Bible most often reflected some aspect of Christ and His mission. For example, Aaron was a type of the Lord Jesus as High Priest. Joseph's life paralleled that of Jesus in many ways- he was betrayed for money, falsely accused of a crime but eventually became Pharaoh's right hand man. He was placed over all Egypt without whose permission no one in the country could do anything. Similarly, Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father and will rule the coming kingdom.

Moses: Perhaps one of the most fascinating and compelling of the prophecies is when Moses specifically declared that God would raise up another Jewish prophet in the future whose life would closely resemble his own. In other words, he would be a 'type/pattern' for another prophet to come. Not only does Christianity recognize this prophecy as a clear reference to the Messiah, but the Jews did so as well - After Jesus instructed Phillip to follow Him, Phillip told Nathanael that they had found the one of whom Moses wrote (John 1:43-45).

A close look at the lives of Moses and Jesus of Nazareth reveals numerous  parallels, most of which were well beyond the control of any human. For example, Moses rescued the people from slavery and led them to Canaan. In doing so, he played the role of savior, leader and mediator between God and the nation. In a much more exalted and universal capacity the Lord Jesus does exactly the same - He is savior, leader and mediator between God and us, and is leading us out of bondage to the promised land.

Some of the parallels between Jesus and Moses are

    * In Moses' time, Pharaoh, fearing the numbers of the Hebrew slaves, ordered the death of all new born male babies. Similarly, just after Jesus was born, Herod, fearing the rise of another ruler, ordered the death of all male children under the age of two.

    * Both Moses and Jesus spent their early years in Egypt, miraculously protected from those who sought their lives. (Since Luke says nothing about Jesus, Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, and Matthew is silent about their trip to Nazareth soon after Jesus' birth, does one of them have their facts wrong? DETAILS

    * Both Moses and Jesus authenticated their mission and teachings with signs and miracles.

    * Both Moses and Jesus were mediators of blood covenants: Moses was the mediator of the first covenant, while Jesus was the mediator of the new covenant.

    * Moses stretched his hand over the Red Sea causing it to part, Jesus calmed a storm by rebuking the winds and the sea (possibly the Sea of Tiberias).

    * Both fasted for 40 days and faced spiritual crises on mountain tops.

    * Moses appointed 70 elders to help him deal with the people. Jesus appointed 70 disciples to go into the villages and towns.

    * Moses' brother Aaron became the first high priest of the temple. Jesus' brother James became the head of the Jerusalem church.

    * Moses promised that another Prophet would come; Jesus promised believers that His Father would send them the Holy Spirit.

    * Neither Moses' nor Jesus' body remained where it was interred. (See Moses' Great Messianic Prophecy

With the exception of Moses, Isaac was perhaps more a type of Christ than any other person in the Old Testament with remarkable similarities between the two births.

    1. Both births were announced beforehand (Genesis 18:10. Luke 1:30-31), and both were miraculous — Isaac was born to a woman who was not only barren but well past the child bearing age (Genesis 17:15-18; 18:11-14) and Jesus was born to a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25).

    2. Both were named before their birth (Genesis 17:19. Luke 1:31). The announcement of the births to Sarah and Mary raised questions in the minds of both women. Sarah laughed and said, "This thing cannot be. It is beyond belief." And Mary asked, "How can this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34).

    3. Isaac was Abraham's son, through whom God promised to make a great nation. However, when God said His promises were made to Abraham and to his seed He did not say "seeds," but used the singular "seed" - that is, Christ.  (Galatians 3:16)

    4. Both Jesus and Isaac were obedient to their Fathers to the point of death. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrificial altar up the mount (Genesis 22:6) and Christ carried the wooden cross to Calvary (John 19:17). Additionally, God resurrected Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4) and when He stopped Abraham from slaying his son, Abraham considered that Isaac had been raised from the dead (Hebrews 11:19).

Rebekah: The typology is carried over to the relationship between Isaac and his wife Rebekah, who is clearly a type of the ekklesia or "called out" virgin bride of Christ. Compare Genesis 24:16 with 2 Corinthians 11:2

    The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. (Genesis 24:16 NASB)

    For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.  (2 Corinthians 11:2 NASB)

Isaac was a type of the bridegroom who goes out to meet and receive His bride

    Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?" And the servant said, "He is my master." Then she took her veil and covered herself. (Genesis 24:63-65 NASB)

    For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB)

Rebekah, who was from a distant land, accepted Isaac to be her husband without ever laying eyes on him, just as the church has never laid eyes on Christ. Rebekah was given jewelry as a token sent by a man of wealth and position, just as the Holy Spirit is given as an earnest of our inheritance. (See Guarantee or Earnest).  Rebekah had to follow this servant who safely guided her steps to her new home and only after arriving there did she get to see and marry Isaac. Christians are faced with an almost identical situation - each of us has to allow the Holy Spirit to be their guide to our eternal home, after which we will get to see Jesus.

Historical Types
The call of Abraham, the deliverance of the nation of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, the wilderness journey, and the conquest of Canaan are all examples of historical types.

The Virgin Shall Conceive
The ancient prophet Isaiah was directed to tell Ahaz, king of the southern kingdom of Judah, that the Lord Himself would give him a sign,

    Behold, a virgin (Heb. ha·‘al·mah) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Sadly, not only have some versions of the Bible translated the original Hebrew, but they have taken it upon themselves to provide us with an interpretation as well.  This they have done by way of capitalizing the words "Son" and "His" (the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel). By doing this they have implied that the child spoken of was the Messiah.

Personal assumptions, regardless of whether they are correct, or not, should never be imposed upon Biblical text by those whose only job was to translate the actual words.

However, Jesus was not born until some seven centuries later. Isaiah's words were not directed at Christ, but at Ahaz himself.. Additionally, the definite article present in the original Hebrew seems to have been ignored by many translators.  By writing ha·‘al·mah (the virgin) Isaiah clearly showed that he had a specific person in mind. Note, ha·‘al·mah is used in two other places in the Old Testament where the definite article was used.

    behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden (Heb. ha·‘al·mah) who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar";  (Genesis 24:43 NASB)

    Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl (Heb. ha·‘al·mah) went and called the child's mother.  (Exodus 2:8 NASB)

In both cases a very specific young woman was in mind.

It is impossible to go into much detail here but if you read the entire article (link below) it becomes clear that this woman was Isaiah's wife. Although their son was not literally named "Immanuel," his given name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz meant 'Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey', which probably refers to the fact that Assyria would soon carry away the spoil of Damascus and Samaria. In other words God was on their side which is exactly what Immanuel means.

Fast forward many centuries to the time of Jesus' birth and what Matthew wrote in his Gospel

    But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:20-23 NASB)

Thus, there is a clear Messianic fulfillment to the passage. Like many other prophecies, Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled more than once. The first was deliverance from Syria, the second to the spiritual Deliverer of the world he virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:22-23). See The Virgin Shall Conceive.

Out of Egypt
When Matthew said that God has called His Son out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15), he was quoting Hosea 11:1 - "When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son" - a verse that clearly refers to the Exodus.

Yet Matthew took this verse, seemingly out of all context, and applied it to Jesus. However, the problem is not that Matthew arbitrarily used the passage nor, as some have charged, that he was manipulating the Scriptures to suit his purpose, but that he saw way more than we usually do.

He knew that the Lord had instructed Moses to tell the Pharaoh that "Israel is My son, My firstborn. And that Jesus was called God's "only begotten Son" (John 3:16). And at different times God called each of them out of Egypt.

It is also very likely that Matthew was fully aware that a concrete historical event could very well be a foreshadowing of another event. Israel being called out of Egypt was the type, and Jesus' return from Egypt was the antitype.

Examples of Biblical Patterns that May Not Have Been Types

In the Bible, there is often a clear resemblance between events in the life of two different people. Take for example,

Moses and Joshua
Both Joshua and Moses were told exactly the same thing by God or one of His angels

     Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."  (Exodus 3:5 NASB)

    The captain of the Lord's host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:15 NASB)

Both were exalted by the Lord

    Now the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.  (Joshua 3:7 NASB). Also See Joshua 4:14

How Moses crossed the Red Sea on his way out of Egypt bears marked similarities to how Joshua crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. Both the waters of the Jordan and the waters of the Sea of Reeds split and stood up in a 'heap', i.e. piled up

    "At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a  heap (Heb. nęd); The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. (Exodus 15:8 NASB)

    "It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap (Heb. nęd)."  (Joshua 3:13 NASB)

As a by the way, there is absolutely no reason the Lord shouldn't have used 'natural' forces to part the waters in both instances. After all who created these 'natural forces'?

During hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay residents experienced a bizarre and rather eerie phenomenon. "As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Tampa Bay suddenly went dry. People hopped down onto the bay bottom, now a vast sandy expanse, and walked around, stunned. There are different terms for what happened: "a negative surge," "a blowout tide," a "water level set-down.  [01]

According to software engineer Carl Drews,

    a 'wind setdown,' in which strong winds -- a little over 60 miles per hour -- create a "push" on coastal water which, in one location, creates a storm surge. But in the location from which the wind pushes -- in this case, the east -- the water moves away. Such occurrences have been observed in the past in Lake Erie, among other places -- and, note Drews and Han, also in the Nile Delta itself in the year 1882. [02]

Another example of a repeating pattern is the..

Tisha B'Av and The Destruction of The Temple
is the fifth month of the Jewish year, that occurs sometime in July or August. Tisha B'Av (the Ninth of Av) is a day of mourning that commemorates various tragedies that have befallen the Jews.

For example, it is believed that it was on this day that, after the people balked at invading the land of Canaan after hearing frightening reports from the spies, God banished them to wander in the desert for 40 more years. It is also said that after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 133 A.D. ended in defeat "The Jews of Betar were butchered on the 9th of Av and the Temple Mount was plowed one year later on the same date". [03]

Other tragedies were also said to have occurred on this date. For example, the Jews were driven out of England in 1290, and from Spain in 1492

However, Tisha B'Av primarily commemorates the fact that both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on this date.

    The First Temple built by King Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. which resulted in the Babylonian exile. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the same date in 70 A.D. This led to the Jews being scattered all over the world and stateless, they became the victims of numerous other crimes perpetuated against them.

I have absolutely no idea whether the temple being twice destroyed on the exact same date has any future significance. All we can do is keep this date in mind and watch..

Partially Fulfilled Prophecies - The Final Fulfillment Is Yet To Come

Elijah and John The Baptist
Some 400 years before John the Baptist was born, Malachi made the following prophecy (Emphasis Added)

    "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1 NASB)

Based on Malachi's words, the Jews expected (and continue to expect) the Old Testament Prophet Elijah to literally and physically return to announce the appearance of the Messiah, who would free them from Roman domination and exalt Israel over all the nations of the earth. Jews around the world still set out a cup of wine for Elijah at Passover while the smallest boy in the family is delegated to open a door to invite Elijah to join the Passover Seder.

Since the prophecy explicitly said that Elijah himself was going to return they concluded that anyone who claimed to be the Messiah before Elijah visibly returned from heaven had to be an impostor, which was one of the reasons the Jews largely rejected Jesus' claim to be the Messiah.

    Note: According to the Old Testament book of II Kings, the Prophet Elijah was whisked off to 'heaven' in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire carried along by a whirlwind, a spectacular event that was witnessed by his protégé Elisha. Quite obviously, since Jesus Himself said " No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man". (John 3:13 NASB) it is impossible that Elijah was actually taken into God's dwelling place, which the Bible often refers to as "the highest heaven". So what does the Bible mean when it says "Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven". (2 Kings 2:11) (DETAILS)

The whole Elijah subject even confused the disciples who took their question to Jesus. In His reply, our Lord first affirmed the prophecy was true and that Elijah did have to precede the Savior. However, His next words... that Elijah had already come unrecognized must have surprised the disciples, especially since they were probably expecting Elijah to return in as impressive a fashion as he left

    And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:10-13 NASB)

There were certainly some very distinct similarities between Elijah and John the Baptist.  Both appeared on the scene very abruptly, dressed alike (garments of camel hair and a leather belt - 2 Kings 1:8 and Mark 1:6 NASB) and both sought to turn people back to God.

This was not lost on the priests and Levites from Jerusalem who were sent to ask John whether he was the promised figure of Elijah the Prophet. (John 1:20-21). They, apparently expecting a real life Elijah, did not seem to understand that Malachi did not necessarily mean the literal, historical Elijah, but simply someone who would come in the spirit and power of the ancient prophet. In other words, Elijah himself would not physically return, but the same spirit and power that God had given the ancient prophet, would be given to a completely different prophet.

Malachi's words began to come to life on the day an angel told Zacharias (a righteous, elderly, and childless first century priest) that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son who would be filled with the Holy Spirit and have a great role to play. They were to name him John.

    It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:16-17 NASB)

Jesus also verified that Malachi 3:1 was speaking about John the Baptist,

    "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. "This is the one about whom it is written, 'behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.' (Matthew 11:9-10 NASB)

2) However, Malachi's prophecy did not just predict Elijah being sent to prepare the way for Jesus' first advent. In chapter 4, he also foretold that Elijah' would once again be sent before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.

    "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the Lord of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. "You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing," says the Lord of hosts. "Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. (Malachi 4:1-5 NASB)

In this very short chapter, Malachi clearly stated that the arrogant and evildoer would become like chaff that would be set ablaze, and all the Messiah's enemies would be ashes under the soles of His feet. John the Baptist almost echoed Malachi, when he said

    "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. "His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12 NASB)

Since Christ did not burn anyone up during the time He spent on earth, the words of both the prophets leave little room for doubt that they were both looking forward into the distant future when Christ would return to destroy His enemies and set up His kingdom. Kingdom? What Kingdom? (See What and Where is Heaven?)

It is entirely possible that, as many commentators believe, one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3 might be 'Elijah'. Again, this does not necessarily mean the literal, historical Elijah, but simply someone who comes in the spirit and power of Elijah and performs a similar function. See The Two Witnesses of Revelation

This is an almost identical situation to the day of Pentecost, when Peter quoted a prophecy by Joel.

This is an almost identical situation to the day of Pentecost, when Peter quoted a prophecy by Joel.

Peter and Joel's Prophecy

In addressing the crowd on Pentecost, Peter quoted from Joel chapter 2, saying,

    For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: '

    'And it shall be in the last days, God says, "that I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams: Yea even on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days Will I pour forth of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above, And signs on the earth beneath; Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable day. (Acts 2:17-20)

Peter's words have led many to erroneously assume that Joel's prophecy was fulfilled on Pentecost. However a simple comparison of the prophecy and the events on Pentecost makes it quite clear that not everything spoken of by the prophet came to pass. While the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was accompanied by some remarkable signs and wonders - no prophecies were made, no one dreamed dreams or saw visions. The promised awesome displays of celestial phenomena were conspicuous by their absence. There was no blood, fire, or pillars of smoke, The sun did not turn to darkness nor the moon to blood.

The day of Pentecost was quite simply not the day of the Lord that Joel predicted.

The events of that day were only a partial fulfillment of the prophecy made by Joel. The rest is yet to come. It is not until the breaking of the Sixth Seal that thesun and moon will be darkened,

    I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. (Revelation 6:12-13 NASB)

In the foretold events of the End of Days, the breaking of the Sixth Seal is the first time that the wrath of God is mentioned. Nothing that went before had anything to do with His judgment.. A straightforward reading of the text indicates that God uses heavenly phenomena to herald the momentous events to come. In other words, the phenomena of the Sixth Seal, as terrible as they will be, are only the first indication that God is about to make His presence and anger known on earth in a terrifying way. See The End Of The Age Part II... The Seven Seals. (See The Seven Seals and Matthew 24)

The early church experienced a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, corresponding to the spring rains, but Acts 2:16-21 predicts that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Last Days will also be accompanied by signs and wonders, by prophecy and visions. There was a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church, and there will be again on the church of the last days. The latter rain is yet to come. (See End Time Revival Or End Time Apostasy?

Joshua and The Seven Trumpets
Joshua 6 and Revelation 10 and 11 both contain the same numerical pattern. In Joshua 6:8, seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns marched around Jericho once every day for six days, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant followed them. On the seventh day they marched around the city as before, except they marched around the city not once, but seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city". When the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they shouted with a great shout, and the walls fell down flat.

    "You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. "Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. "It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead." (Joshua 6:3-5 NASB)

This same numerical pattern is repeated in Revelation. Jesus opened the book of seven seals (5:1), the seventh seal starts the process of the seven Trumpets (8:1-2). The Seventh Trumpet introduces the Seven Bowls or the end of all things - the cities of the nations fall, and the islands and mountains 'disappear'. See The End of The Age

The Abomination of Desolation

In Matthew 24:15-33 Jesus told His disciples that when they saw the Abomination of Desolations spoken of by the prophet Daniel, then they would know the end is near.

    "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),  (Matthew 24:15 NASB)

Jesus spoke about the Abomination of Desolation as something they were to to look out for in the future. However, it had already occurred some 200 years before He mentioned it..

    a) Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who reigned from 175 BC until 164 BC is known for his brutal persecution of the Jews, which spurred the Maccabean revolt. Antiochus went as far as to invade Jerusalem and defile the Temple by placing an image of Zeus inside and offering a pig on the altar. The Jews eventually recaptured Jerusalem, and immediately set about cleansing the Temple. Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabees triumphed over the powerful Greek armies in 165 B.C and the subsequent miracle of a one day supply of oil lasting eight days. It was observed by Christ in the New Testament. See John 10:22-23.

Jesus took that past event and spoke about it in the future tense, thus prophesying it would happen again. Since Jesus spoke, there have been other Abominations of Desolation, all of which are part of an escalating pattern. One even continues into the present day...

    b) The Christians who were in Jerusalem at the time recognized Cestius Gallus' assault upon the city in A.D. 66 as the fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy. The mere presence of the Roman army in the "holy city" was an abomination, standing where it ought not.

    c) After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the town was still mostly a heap of ruins when sixty years later, Hadrian built a new city on the ancient ground. Called Aelia Capitolina, it was crowned by a temple of Jupiter, on the site of the ruined Temple.

d) The Dome of the Rock was constructed over the site of the Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. A band encircling the inner side of the octagonal arcade, is inscribed with various prayers and citations from the Qur'an. Between the north and west sides is found a verse from the Qur'an part of which reads

    "Bless your envoy and your servant Jesus son of Mary and peace upon him on the day of birth and on the day of death and on the day he is raised up again. It is a word of truth in which they doubt. It is not for God to take a son. Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says be, and it is." [04]

All of these preceding Abominations of Desolation lead up to the final one that is yet in the future. This will in all likelihood come about under the Antichrist whose actions are likely to mirror those of Antiochus Epiphanes in some way.

Matthew 24 - The Destruction Of Jerusalem And Future Catastrophic Events
Matthew 24 has always been considered one of the most difficult chapters to understand. Some have concluded that there is a fairly straightforward division of the chapter. Verses 4-34 have to do with the "generation" that was contemporary with the Lord and the destruction of Jerusalem, while verses 35-51 allude to the end of days.

However this is not true.

Much of the confusion has arisen from our failure to see Jesus differentiated between the 'tribulation' He spoke of in verse 9, and the 'Great Tribulation' of verse 21. Although He used the same Greek word in both verses, He qualifies the second usage by the word "great" (verse 21), translated from the Greek megas (which is where we get the English word 'mega').

    Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. "At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 NASB)

    For then there will be a great (Gk. megas) tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21-22 NASB)

If we consider that Jesus was referring to two separate and distinct tribulations, the chapter falls into perfect chronological order. In fact, fascinatingly, verses 5-29 of the Olivet Discourse exactly parallel the Seven Seals. Jesus' description of the "beginning of sorrows," the "great tribulation," and His post-tribulation coming, are fulfilled in the same sequence in Revelation 6.

(See The Seven Seals and Matthew 24)

Therefore Jesus was not merely referring to the terrible destruction of Jerusalem which took place a few years later, but was also warning about catastrophic events much further away. This is further reinforced by the fact that Luke 23:30 and Revelation 6:16 (written after Jerusalem was almost completely destroyed), describe people's reaction to the terrors around them in almost identical language.

    But Jesus turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. "For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' "Then they will begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.' (Luke 23:28-30 NASB)

    and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; (Revelation 6:16 NASB)

Jesus' Partially Fulfilled Prophecy In Matthew 10

In Matthew 10, Jesus sends the apostles out in pairs, warning them about certain perils that they would face.

    "But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. "But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. "For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. "You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. "But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:17-23a NASB)

However, none of the events that Jesus described came to pass.. at least not immediately. At the time Jesus sent them out in pairs, they were not brought before governors and kings for His name's sake and, as far as we know, the Holy Spirit did not give them utterance when they were on trial. But much of what Jesus told the apostles would happen to them, happened to Him first.

    Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor. (Matthew 27:1-2 NASB)

The pattern is again repeated in the early chapters of Acts, when in a partial fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy, the apostles were brought before the authorities and scourged in the synagogue.

    They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:40-41 NASB)

However, in neither case did brother deliver up brother, parents deliver up their children, and the children rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. Why was not all of Jesus' prophecy fulfilled in what happened to Him or to the apostles.

The answer lies in the fact that all Hebrew prophecy is a recurring pattern with an ultimate fulfillment. Therefore not all of Jesus' prophecy necessarily applied to Him or the apostles. Luke 21:12 is essentially a repeat of the Matthew 10 prophecy - with one notable addition that gives us a clue as to the timing of the final fulfillment. Luke quotes Jesus as prefacing His words with 'before all these things"…

    "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. "So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. "But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. "Yet not a hair of your head will perish. (Luke 21:12-18 NASB)

The "things" that Jesus was speaking about are found in the preceding verse and clearly refer to end time conditions...

    and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:11 NASB)

In other words, Jesus prophecy was partially fulfilled by what happened to Him and was again partially fulfilled by what happened to the apostles. However, the ultimate fulfillment is slated to happen sometime before the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is when we shall see "terrors and great signs from heaven".

The Prophecies of Revelation - Past or Future?

As previously mentioned, preterists believe that most or all of the prophecies were fulfilled in the first century when Jerusalem  was destroyed along with the Temple. There is little question that, in both the beginning and the end of Revelation there are statements that seem to indicate impending fulfillment.

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, (Revelation 1:1 NASB)

    And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.  (Revelation 22:6 NASB)

However, there are several factors to take into account - the first being when John says these things must 'soon' take place, can we possibly place a definite time limit on the word? 'Soon' is a relative term - what is soon to one person may seem like an eon to another. In any case, this is God's timetable we are talking about and I very much doubt His definition of words is the same as ours.

And there is extremely strong evidence that Revelation was written close to the end of the first century - in fact on or close to the traditional date of  A.D. 96 - more than two decades after the fall of Jerusalem. Unfortunately there is those who believe that Revelation was written much earlier - before Titus destroyed the Temple. One of the reasons is given by the Christian Research Institute and presumably written by Hank Hanegraaff is, frankly, just plain silly. It says in part,

    First, if the apostle John were indeed writing in AD 95—long after the destruction of the temple - it seems incredible that he would make no mention whatsoever of the most apocalyptic event in Jewish history - the demolition of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple at the hands of Titus. Imagine writing a history of New York today and making no mention of the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center at the hands of terrorists on September 11, 2001. Or, more directly, imagine writing a thesis on the future of terrorism in America and failing to mention the Manhattan Massacre. Consider another parallel.

     Imagine that you are reading a history concerning Jewish struggles in Nazi Germany and find no mention whatsoever of the Holocaust. Would it not be reasonable to suppose that this history was written prior to the outbreak of World War II? The answer is self-evident. Just as it stretches credulity to suggest that a history of the Jews in Germany would be written in the aftermath of World War II and yet make no mention of the Holocaust, so too it is unreasonable to think that Revelation was written twenty-five years after the destruction of Jerusalem and yet makes no mention of the most apocalyptic event in Jewish history. [05]

Here is the problem. While this argument can be applied to the Gospels to show they were written before AD 70 (See Dating The New Testament) they were writing a completely different kind of account - one that focused on the life of Christ and made numerous references to the Temple, the priests, the Pharisees etc.

John was doing no such thing. He was neither writing about the life and mission of Christ, a history of Jerusalem, a thesis on the future of Roman occupation, nor a history concerning Jewish struggles with various invaders - the Romans in particular. In fact, other than the spiritual issues with various churches, John did not even address current affairs.

Much to the contrary, the very first verse reads   "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John".

Immediately after the message to the Seven Churches, John was told

    After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things." (Revelation 4:1 NASB)

The book is prophecy - Future events that John was shown. It did not mention Jerusalem at all except in it's future role. For example, as a "holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband". (Revelation 21:2).

John never spoke about the earthly temple at all, only the Heavenly one - "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (Revelation 7:15 NASB)

Nor did he mention the church except for those who will be resurrected (Chapter 20) and the martyrs who were given white robes and "... told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.  (Revelation 6:11 NASB)

The argument is specious - superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

In any case, it is impossible for all Revelation's prophecies to have come to pass in 70 AD. Among other factors, Revelation 3:10 tells us that a time of trial will come upon all the world. (Also See Revelation 13:7,8,12,14,16)

    Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  (Revelation 3:10 NASB)

The Jewish war was a time of great trouble for Israel, but did not particularly affect other nations and, terrible as it was, does not even come close to the description of the horrors of the Great Tribulation. The Bible repeatedly warns us that the Great Tribulation is a unique time of trouble the likes of which have never ever been seen. Consider what God said about the last days...

    Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.  (Daniel 12:1 NASB)

    For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:21-22 NASB)

Additionally Revelation 13 tells us about a political leader so powerful that no one can make war with him (v.4), the worship of this man by all those who dwell on the earth (v.8), a required mark received on the right hand or in the forehead (v.16), those not having this mark unable to buy and sell. None of these things have yet been fulfilled. (See The Antichrist and The Mark of The Beast

End Notes

[01] Why Irma Drained The Water from Tampa Bay. Monday November 27th 2017.

[02] Chris Mooney. No, really: There is a scientific explanation for the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus. December 8, 2014.

[03] What Is Tisha B'Av? Chabad.org  http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/144575/jewish/What-Is-Tisha-BAv.htm

[04] The Arabic Islamic Inscriptions On The Dome Of The Rock In Jerusalem.

[05] Christian Research Institute. Was Revelation written before or after the destruction of the temple in AD 70?.


To Old Testament and Messianic Prophecy