Old Testament Ears (Matthew 24:15-35)

Eschatologically I am an amillennialist and partial preterist. Is that clear enough? My point exactly. To understand, you have to know the language behind the language. Have you ever had a foreign exchange student give you a puzzled look when you say that something is cool? They know what cool means, but they don’t know what cool means. They don’t know the language behind the language.

This is why I feel many go awry when looking at Biblical prophecy. They read backwards from the 21st century instead of forwards from the 1st century. They listen with Left Behind ears more than Old Testament ears. Apocalyptic literature is drenched and dripping with imagery and metaphors from the ocean of the Old Testament. I’m afraid that we are reading the New Testament with the wrong code key.

Jasper Fforde has written a series of books about a British literary detective set in a futuristic 1980’s time period. Someone has made a means to enter your favorite books. A villain now posses this technology and is capturing beloved characters. If the character is captured from a first edition, he disappears from all subsequent editions. The books are fun, anyone can understand them, but they are much more enjoyable if you have read the books mentioned.

I don’t so much want to labor to convince you of my eschatological position (eschatology is the study of last things), as of my hermeneutic (hermeneutics is the science/art of interpreting texts) that brought me to that position. The first rule of hermeneutics is that Scripture interprets Scripture. This means that the best way to read your Bible, is to read your Bible—again, and again, and again, and again. When you do this, you are much more likely to hear phrases like, “the abomination of desolation (cf. Daniel 11:31),” and “the sun will be darkened (cf. Isaiah 13:9-10),” and “coming on the clouds, (Daniel 7:13-14),” the way the Bible intends you to. Superior to any longing for you to agree with my position, is that it be said of both of us what C.H. Spurgeon said of John Bunyan:

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord.

I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like the reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress—that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, ‘Why, this man is a living Bible!’ Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.

2 thoughts on “Old Testament Ears (Matthew 24:15-35)”

    1. Michael,

      Regarding his allegorical works, my favorite is The Holy War. If you are wanting something not allegorical I would recommend his autobiographical Grace Abounding to the Chiefest of Sinners. Honestly, Bunyan’s non-allegorical works can drive me bananas because of his allegorical interpretation of Scripture. What is amazing is that when he is off on the specific text he remains theologically orthodox, I believe, because he is so saturated with Scripture. He is an excellent case study for the benefits of the guardrails of the analogy of faith.


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