Eschatology in the Law and the Prophets
Identifying the right source for end times teaching is important to ensure proper understanding. Perhaps no greater injustice is done to New Testament interpretation than that of severing it from it’s Old Testament roots.
In this study, “Eschatology – What the Do the Law and the Prophets Have to Do With It?, we show the root and source of the eschatology we read about in the New Testament.
The apostles used the Old Testament Scriptures as the source for their eschatology. Keep in mind, they had no CNN, Modern Day
prophecy channels, or local cable stations from which to get their doctrine. Their source was the Old Testament. We suggest the same source as invaluable to understanding the end times.
When Peter spoke of the last days to the Jews on Pentecost, he continued his theme from that morning regarding the last days. Speaking of Christ’s return he began with the words of Moses, and ended saying, “Yes and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.” (Acts 3:22-24).
He therefore cites the Law and the Prophets as the source-code for eschatological doctrine.
Prophets and the Law Prophesied
Christ taught that all prophets and the law prophesied, (Matt. 11:13. Thus, eschatology is found in the law of Moses and throughout the prophets. In fact, the Prophets and Psalms are themselves called the law.
Jesus taught the law could not pass till all were fulfilled, linking that to the passing of heaven and earth. Without the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, it could not pass. Thus, a future return of Christ, means that the law of Moses is yet in force.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you , till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:17-18).
Above when Peter begins with Moses, he quotes from Deuteronomy, 18:15f. Jesus also quoted from the, chapter 32, to vv. 35–43, to speak of God’s judgment of vengeance upon in the last days.
These are the days of vengeance referenced in Luke 21:22. There, Christ said at Jerusalem’s fall, all things written would be fulfilled. Thus the very law of Moses prophesied the end time.
The idea of separating the law and the prophets so as to make a distinction between prophecy and the civil state of Israel is foreign to both Christ and the Apostles. They all spoke of Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms and Isaiah, as the Law. Compare:
John 10:34 and Psalms 82:6
John 15:25; Psalms 35:19
John 12:34 and Psalms 89:4
Romans 3:10–19 and Isaiah 59:7–8
1 Cor. 14:21–22 and Isa. 28:11–12
1 Cor. 14:35 and Gen. 3:16
Thus, from the texts above, it is clear that no such distinction is made by the inspired writers. Isaiah and Psalms are the Law. Thus, the law could not pass nor could all be fulfilled, until all written within them was fulfilled.
Resurrection and Hope of Israel – The Goal of Eschatology
Resurrection is certainly viewed by futurists of all colors to be yet future. In other words, it is argued that it belongs to a time future to those of us living today. However, Paul taught that the resurrection he hoped for equated with that to in which the Jews hoped.
The Pharisees sought to accuse him of preaching a different gospel by saying that his eschatology differed from that found in the law of Moses. To which Paul responded, they could not prove such charges against him.
Eschatology – What Do the Law and the Prophets Have to Do With It?
Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. (Acts 24:13–15).
Therefore, no difference existed between the source of Paul’s resurrection hope and that of the Jews. It was the law. How then can a futurist claim the law is fulfilled while yet holding that the resurrection of the dead is future?
The same holds true for the time of judgment. Isa. 2:3–4, (which we have shown above to be the law) is quoted by Christ in Luke 24:44–47, as the prophecy about to be fulfilled in the mission of evangelizing the church.
The fulfillment of the law was the time of judgment upon Israel in AD 70. It equaled the time of resurrection, the Parousia and the end of heaven and earth. For more studies in eschatology check out the my book The Reexamination.