The end times are a hot topic in terms of both its popularity in Christianity and the friction it can cause between believers who hold different viewpoints. If you’re like me and have been around Christianity for long you’ve likely had just the experience Dr. Michael Heiser describes when he says “You can go buy a book [on the end times], someone will present it canned to you. It’ll look beautiful. It’ll answer every question you have. Until you pick up the next one.”
In the series Why Are You Where You Are in Your End Times Beliefs? Dr. Michael Heiser aims to help Christians understand not just what the various end times positions are–pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, pre-millenial, amillennial, etc–but also get underneath those viewpoints to the different Biblical texts, assumptions, presuppositions, and “guesses” that lead to them. “[People] just think that they flip open their Bibles and–pop–out comes their eschatology.” But, Heiser says, “That is just not the case. You only think that because you’ve read a book or you’ve read a novel. And you just think that it’s that self evident. It’s not, there is a lot you are not being told.”
Heiser’s goal in this series is to pull the curtain back on those bits that are not so self evident and help us understand both our own and others end times views better. “You have to make choices [in Biblical interpretation], and that’s the point of my prophecy sessions. Just showing people, I don’t really care what position you take, but showing you why you take those positions. You know, what goes into them. ”
If you’re interested in a better understanding the roots of your own (and others) views of the end times I recommend you watch this series.
Session 1 – The Kingdom of God
The first session gives a general overview of the various end times position then gets into issues that influence one’s understanding of the Kingdom of God and the Millennium. He looks at many questions including:
- Is there a present or future Kingdom on Earth?
- Does the 2nd coming of Christ result in an earthly reign of Jesus for 1000 years?
- Did Israel ever possess all of the promised land? Is there yet a future promise for the land?
- Will a literal temple be rebuilt in the future?
Session 2 – Split or Join?
In session two Dr. Heiser addresses how those who come to different conclusions about the timing of Christ’s return tend to either join or harmonize all the verses addressing the second coming (resulting in a single return) or split those verses (resulting in a rapture then a later second coming). The final third of the class is discussing three different views of imminence in regard to the return of Christ: Jesus could return any moment, Jesus will return soon, Jesus will return unexpectedly.
Session 3 – The 70 Weeks of Daniel
The third session addresses the 70 weeks of Daniel from Daniel 9. Questions covered include:
- How should the 70 weeks be interpreted as periods of time?
- Is Daniel 9:24 about Jesus’ death or the end of the exile?
- Does the 70th week equal the 7 year tribulation?
Session 4 – Rapture Timing, Q&A
In the fourth class Dr. Heiser brings the material from the previous sessions together and recaps the various major end times positions and their presuppositions. He addresses several questions including:
- Is the church removed prior to God’s wrath?
- Is the church absent in Revelation 4-18?
- Is the book of Revelation linear?
Though he has, for the most part, avoided giving his personal positions, Dr. Heiser closes out the series sharing his list of strong suspicions, points of uncertainty, and “no prayer of being right” about eschatology.