Building up believers and the New Testament church

The End Times

A Whole Panorama of God's Plan

What did the old prophets see, and what did they not see? Prior to Christ, God selected servants and prophets who would be torches shining on the way of men. Part of the plan of God for future generations was revealed through them. The revelation of God to the ancient people before Christ was a "shadow of things to come" (Colossians 2:17). They did not see all the coming events, especially those related to the church of the Lord. "Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12). In order to give the most clear possible expression of what we are saying, let us consider the diagram of Figure 1 – The Prophetic Eye.

In this diagram each "peak" represents an important event that affected or will affect the earth and its inhabitants. The ancient prophets saw the peaks presented in this diagram, but did not see what we will call the "valley," and the short peak that represents the "catching up" (rapture) of the church. Let us mention some examples of events that the ancient prophets did see, which are represented by the peaks of the diagram in Figure 1.

  • The great flood, prophesied by Noah, was a prophecy to be fulfilled in the time of the prophet Noah.
  • The prophets saw the birth of Christ, His sufferings and death, His resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament contains many scriptures related to the birth of the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2), His sufferings and death (Isaiah 53:1-12, Numbers 9:12, Psalms 34:20), His resurrection (Psalms 16:10), and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29).
  • In the year 70 A.D., the prophecy of Daniel 9:26 was totally fulfilled, when the Roman Empire destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. This event was of great importance, since it was the last event to happen before the coming of the judgment, the Great Tribulation, over Israel and all other nations.
  • Another event that the prophets saw was the Great Tribulation. During approximately the last three and a half years of a period of seven years, all the earth and its inhabitants will experience events never seen before (Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 7:19-25, 9:24-27, 12:1, Zechariah 14:1-2).
  • The event that ends the Great Tribulation is the second visible coming of Christ to the earth. This event was also seen by the prophetic eye (Zechariah 12:10-14, 14:3-4, Matthew 24:30, Daniel 7:13-14, 26-27). For the Jewish people, this will be like the first coming of Christ, since they did not believe in Jesus the Messiah when He came for the first time.
  • The Millennium is another event prophesied by the ancient prophets (Zechariah 14:16-19, Micah 4:1-4). It consists of a period of one thousand years, which will come after the Great Tribulation.
  • The last two events that the ancient prophets saw were the final judgment and the creation of the new heaven and new earth: in other words, a new world (Isaiah 65:17-25, 66:22), which will be established after the Millennium.

God had a purpose in each event prophesied by the ancient prophets. It is very important to understand the place that the nation of Israel and the church occupy in the plan of God. The fulfillment of God's promises for Israel is not the same as those for the church; that is why the ancient prophets saw the future events in a limited way.

As you see in Figure 1 – The Prophetic Eye, the ancient prophet did not see what is represented by the "valley," the church, nor the peak of the rapture of the church. This valley represents the period between the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The ancient prophet did not have any idea what the church could be, according to the hidden purpose of God. He could see what was related to his nation Israel, even without much understanding; but could not see what was related to the new covenant in Christ Jesus, which is the church as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 3:5-6 speaks of the mystery "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." Colossians 1:26-27 tells of "the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." The church, as the body of Christ and the habitation of the Holy Spirit, was hidden from the forefathers in the time before Christ until the coming of the disciples and apostles of Jesus. From the Day of Pentecost, the purpose of God related to the design of His church has been available to those who love the Lord and live in obedience to His word. The church waits for her Lord and Husband; on the other hand, Israel awaits the Messiah and King.

Therefore, according to the old prophetic eye, the next event to be fulfilled for Israel is the Great Tribulation (see Figure 1). There are many scriptures that clearly show the skip from Jesus' death to the Great Tribulation events without going through the church time, because the people before Christ did not see the church. For example, Joel 2:28-32 mentions three events that according to the prophetic eye seem to occur in a continuous way:

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29)

"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days." (See also Acts 2:1-20)

Great Tribulation events (Joel 2:30-31)

"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord." (See also Mathew 24:29, Revelation 6:12)

Millennium events (Joel 2:32)

"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls." (See also Ezekiel 37:21-25, Zechariah 14:1-11)

What happened between the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (vss. 2:28-29) and the events of the Great Tribulation (vss. 2:30-31)? In this period of time the church arose, which, again, the old prophet did not see; this is why the prophets "jump over" that period of time. There are other passages (prophecies) that show this same message (Daniel 9:26-27, Luke 23:27-31, etc.).


Israel is the people of God which will be shepherded. God promised them a land from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates (Genesis 15:18). This will be the Christ's kingdom (the Millennium) on this earth.

The church is the bride of the Son of God, Jesus, and co-heir with Him in the Father's kingdom. God promised the New Jerusalem, the habitation of God the Father, to be established in the new earth (Revelation 21-22). The church is not the spiritual Israel.