I have made no secret about having a little different take on end-time Bible prophecy. And, I'm often asked to share it. So, here goes.
The study of end-time Bible prophecy is difficult. This has led to many unsound and divisive teachings. This fact, however, is not reason to ignore the subject. In fact, it may even be a good reason to study it more intently. Whether it is reason, or it isn't reason, for me it doesn't matter. I've always found Bible prophecy fascinating. So, what follows is not intended to be an academic argument. It's simply, in simple fashion, the way my simple mind has come to see a difficult subject.
However, in holding to their strict dispensational interpretations, some go on to believe that God won't deal with Israel and the church at the same time. They believe that, before God begins once again to deal with Israel in the final seven years before Jesus returns to set up His kingdom, the church will be removed from the earth in the rapture. Although I agree that God has dealt with humankind differently, in different dispensations, I don't believe it can be shown that God won't deal with Israel and the church at the same time. In fact, it's my opinion history suggests that He may.
A Quick Review
In the Old Testament book of Daniel we read:
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate (Daniel 9:27 New America Standard Bible).
In my religious circles, it is commonly believed the passage above foretells the rise of a new leader from out of a revived Roman Empire who will confirm, strengthen, or make strong, a covenant, agreement, or treaty, with many for a period of seven years. Israel will be included in this covenant. As far as Israel is concerned, the leader will terminate his covenant 3 1/2 years later. In other passages from Daniel, we learn that this leader will appear among a 10-nation alliance (Daniel 7:7-8). And, on his rise to power, the leader will subdue three kings from the 10-nation alliance (Daniel 7:24). And, in the New Testament book of Revelation we learn that this leader will somehow be identified with the number 666 (Revelation 13:18).
Where It Started
So far nothing appears out of order from strict dispensationalism. However, what comes next is. In the next verse we find the same throne room scene that we find in Revelation chapter four. And, in the following verses (Daniel 7: 9-11), we see some of the same things happen that occur in Revelation chapter four through chapter 19. For me, the implications were obvious. Although the dispensational view teaches that Revelation chapter four marks the beginning of Israel's final seven-year period, the book of Daniel appears to teach that Revelation chapter four marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which is only a 3 1/2 year period. You see, Daniel places the throne room scene of Revelation chapter four happening after the Antichrist is boasting great things. And, from other related passages, we know that this boasting occurs in the middle of the seven-year period -- when the Antichrist goes into the Temple and declares himself to be God.
At first I pretty much kept my new thinking to myself. Then, I ran across something that gave the idea further support. I read a piece by an expert on the original languages who pointed out that John in Revelation was making direct word connections back to the book of Daniel. As an example, he said that the book that was sealed in Daniel chapter 12 should be understood as the scroll with seven seals in Revelation chapter 5.
If that's truly the case, once again it suggests that the events unleashed by the breaking of the seven seals on the scroll could happen over a 3 1/2 year period, not seven. That's because, in Daniel 12 where the book is sealed, an angel asks how long until the end of these wonders. The reply is, time, times and a half time (3 1/2 years), until the power of the holy people is shattered.
I began finding other Scripture that supported the 3 1/2-year idea. For example, we read that the Antichrist and his 10 kings will be given authority to wage their war against the saints for 3 1/2 years. And, when the first seal on the scroll is broken, we read that the rider on a white horse is given a crown and then he goes fourth to conquer. Once again, the passage may suggest the beginning of the foretold 3 1/2 year period, not seven. You see, when the rider is given his crown, he may be receiving his authority to act -- or make war -- for forty-two months (3 1/2 years). And, in Revelation chapter 13, when the 10-horned beast rises from the sea, it has 10 crowns -- meaning the 10 kings now have their authority to act for 3 1/2 years too.
I now have more reasons why I believe the events that begin in Revelation chapter four may occur over a 3 1/2 year period. For example, with my new way of thinking, I can even see the Scripture that I quoted at the beginning suggesting a 3 1/2 year period for the scroll now too. Let's look at it again.
And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.
Notice the part I highlighted. In ancient times, a scroll in the hand of someone sitting on a throne represented a king issuing a decree. So, even here, in the passage that's referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, we can find it being suggested that the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation isn't opened, and it's judgments poured out, until after the Antichrist has been revealed in the Temple in the middle of the seven-year period.
As I said before, what I have presented above is not intended to be an academic argument. It's only my attempt, in simple fashion, to explain the how and why of what I have come to believe. Now, as many have requested, I will give my basic time line.
Quick Time Line
Keep in mind, parts of my time line may turn out to be right, parts may prove wrong. Like I said before, Bible prophecy is a difficult subject. That's why I say, if someone tells you that they have a 100% proof for what they teach about Bible prophecy, don't believe them. There are many things we won't know for sure until all the prophecies are fulfilled and our Lord returns from heaven.
So, stay tuned!