top of page

That's a Good Question

End Times Unveiled: Exploring Eschatology and the Second Coming of Christ

February 12, 2024

Jon Delger


Nate Harney


So, Hey everyone, welcome to That's a Good Question, a podcast of Peace Church and part of

Resound Media. You can find more great content for the Christian life and church leaders at That's a Good Question's a place where we answer questions about the Christian

faith in plain language. I'm Jon, I can serve as a pastor as well as the weekly host of this show, and

you can always ask questions at I'm here today with producer Mitchell.


Hey, everyone.


And Pastor Nate.


Hello there.


And today we're going to tackle some questions about the end of the world. Should be fun. Yeah. Producer Mitchell, you have some questions for us?


Yeah, here's our first one. What is the rapture? And maybe, yeah, just a brief definition would be

helpful here for those of us who may not have heard that word before.

Questions #1: What is the rapture?


Yeah, well I feel like probably people's biggest depiction of the rapture is from the Left Behind series

that really popularized it and I even remember a story about a childhood friend who his older

brothers left their clothes out on the couch and tried to trick him into believing the rapture had

happened. He didn't fall for it, but it was a good attempt.


When I was a kid, I actually, the left behind so popularized this idea that I remember as, I don't

know, maybe a middle schooler or something like that. I remember there would be times where I'd

be in my house and the whole family had left and I hadn't realized it and I'd walk around and be like,

well, shoot, did I miss it? Jesus came back, he took everybody, and I'm the only one who got left.

This stinks.


Maybe I'm the minority here, but I've actually never seen the Left Behind series. Just kind of just



Well, I tell you what, I actually, I don't think I've read any of the books. I think I read like the, I

probably read like half of the first one or something like that. I don't think I've seen any of the

movies, but I think just because of, and maybe that's me and Pastor Nate's generation thing, it was

so popular at that time that you didn't have to read the books, you didn't have to watch the movies, you just knew the concepts and the ideas.


Yeah, and so I actually read the books, but I went to Moody Bible Institute, and they are very closely

associated with some of the authors. Jerry B. Jenkins is one of the co-authors of that book series,

and they hold to what is called dispensational premillennialism, and they have a pre-Trib view. We

can maybe talk about what all those words mean. But the rapture, as is generally thought of and

defined by most people, the primary scripture references you'd be looking at would be from 1

Thessalonians chapter 4. If you read verses 13 through 18 you'll hear about the sound of the

trumpet and the dead in Christ rise where the Lord himself is descending from heaven and then it says we'll be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so that this picture you'll see it depicted in artwork as the Christians and Jesus meeting in the middle of the sky is the picture that a lot of people paint of it. What exactly that looks like and what else is going on at that time really gets into more of your view on the millennium and your view on the tribulation. And that's all the big topics of eschatology, the study of end time. So, Jon, I know I'll sell you out right now. I know you're not a pre-millennial. You hold the Ah-mill

position. We can talk about that. But, so what would an Ah-mill guy say, what is the rapture?


Yeah, that's an interesting question. So, just to process some of what you just shared. So, from 1 Thessalonians chapter four, that passage about being caught up in the air, that's where that word rapture comes from, right? So that's the idea, is that the rapture is when we get taken up to Jesus in some way, shape, or form. Yeah, the debate is about how exactly that happens, but that's what the rapture is. So, yeah, so to kind of zoom out and try to give a little bit of a big picture perspective, this is one of those topics where there's so much that could be said, but big picture perspective, there's a lot of different views on how the endof all things is going to happen as you might imagine.

The book of Revelation is a book that is complex, that is, I would say, full of lots of symbolism. We'll talk more about that.

But there's a lot of different ways you could take some of the things said in Revelation. And so one

of the things I want to say to start is just that I think Christians can have various perspectives on how the end of all things is going to happen and still be faithful interpreters of the Bible. You know, the joke has been made, well, I'm a pan-millennial, which means I don't know what's going to happen,

but I'm sure it'll all pan out in the end. That's kind of the joke. So I think the key things for Christians

is we need to believe Jesus is coming back, there's going to be a judgment, you know, God's

people, those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, are going to be with Jesus for all eternity,

having eternal life.

Those who don't trust in Jesus haven't had their sins forgiven, and so they unfortunately spend

eternity in hell apart from Christ and suffering justice and wrath. Jesus is ruling and reigning on the

throne right now, and he will for all eternity. So those are some of the core things that we've got to

believe. So when you look at Revelation chapter 20, that passage talks about a thousand-year reign

of Christ. And a lot of the debate about when the rapture happens, when the tribulation, which just

means like suffering period, happens, and when the millennial, the thousand-year reign of Jesus

happens, that all gets pretty tricky.

So there's usually thought of like there's a premill, which means that... So premillennial means that

people get caught up in the air to Jesus before the thousand-year reign of Christ. Postmill means it

happens after. And then Amill, which is kind of the traditional Reformed view, and the view that I

would hold, is it's often characterized as we don't believe in a millennium, but that's not the case. It

means that we believe that we're in the millennium right now. So to give you, I'm going to give you

the short take of that. Yeah, I'd love that. So here's the short take, and then you guys can pick it

apart. So what I would say is kind of a majority Reformed view of the end times is that right now

Jesus is reigning, he's ruling and reigning.

He has been since he defeated sin and death and hell and Satan on the cross and then ascended.

So he's ruling and reigning right now. We're in that thousand year period. We think that that's more

metaphorical not a literal thousand years But it's a long period of time that Jesus is on the throne

and is is ruling and reigning And that God's people the church are living in the world then we're

going to go through periods of tribulation or suffering between now and the end and one day Jesus

is going to return and it's not that we don't believe in that there's going to be this period of time when the saints disappear and leave their clothes behind and then everybody else is living on the earth.

We believe that there's going to be just an end, a moment at which the judgment comes and those who trust in Jesus go to be with Him for eternity and those who don't, that's when they

face justice.


And it's associated with our view at peace of having a view of covenantal theology, that's one of the

things that on my journey trying to figure out where I land with eschatology, I would say I would

generally fall into the Ah-Mill camp. There's still a part of me that is hard to see the Millennium as

fully symbolic. My gut of wanting to interpret as much of the Bible literally as possible makes me

sometimes open and attracted to the post-mill view in small ways just because they kind of hold to a literal thousand-year reign, very different than a pre-millennial position. But generally, I'd fall in the



And as long as you brought up the word literal, so we might as well talk about that real quick. So

one of the things that people will accuse other positions, so the pre-millennial camp will accuse

others of not taking Revelation literally, which I would be quick to say, well, how do you take a

metaphor or symbolism literally? So I think the best way toif you say, we want to interpret the Bible

literally, yes, but what that means is you want to interpret the Bible the way the original author

intended you to interpret it. And I would say that the way that it's intended by the author to be

interpreted is not as literal pictures, but as symbolic pictures of what the end is going to look like.


Yeah, that's a great distinction, and whatever your eschatology is, or your view of that, I think it's

worth saying that every conservative Bible-believing Christian interprets different parts of the Bible

symbolically because that's where they're meant to be. There's no question of, is everything literal?

There's genre, there's clearly I mean, the easiest thing to look at is just the poetic books. There's

some clear things where it's not saying that if you read Song of Songs or if you read Psalms, it's

very clear that there's metaphorical, figurative, symbolic language used and the best way to interpret that properly is to interpret it the way the genre would have you interpret it. So with this apocalyptic literature, that's kind of the language we use to talk about revelation, but also Jesus gets apocalyptic in some of his teachings.

And then if you look back at Daniel, chapter 9, where there's prophecies about 70 weeks, and you

get into some of the numerical stuff that can get interesting. A lot of the pre-mill guys will get really

into the charts and graphs and all that stuff. I do think one of the reasons why I love being on-mill is you don't have to figure out every single chart and graph to interpret what's gonna happen on which year and what times and there's a lot less of that.


I got to teach a class on this. Well, I was invited as part of a series of teaching on each of these

positions and I got to be the guy to represent my position and that was my main argument was I

said, if you want the least complex position, it's this one. Oh yeah. You just do the least amount of

math and stuff like that.


Absolutely, and that simplicity, there's a beauty to that. Actually, when I used to be more

pre-millennial and would have believed in kind of the more left-behind picture of how things were

going to play out, in the end, I still remember one of the things that kind of put a question in my mind and made me start looking more and more at covenant theology versus dispensationalism, not just in regard to Revelation or End Times, but in regard to how we interpret all of Scripture, was learning that in the pre-mill, pre-trib position, that they believe during that thousand-year reign that for Israel the sacrificial system will come back. And something about that for me was not sitting right with thinking about Jesus as the final sacrifice. And I realized when I just kind of read the Bible plainly.

I didn't see those distinctions between Israel and the church. And so for me to learn that the

dispensational position and the pre-mill position believed that not only was there this distinction in

the past and in the present, but that there would be this future distinction as well. I just, that's not

what I was reading in the scriptures. And so, I should clarify that we have tons of brothers and

sisters who hold that position, and we wouldn't articulate that we think that they don't believe the

Gospel or that they're playing fast and loose with the Bible. We fundamentally don't agree on the

interpretive lens they use to get to their end position.

And so we here at Peace would land more in the all-mill camp. And I know that there's, I've talked to

post-mill people who are around Peace, and I'm sure given a lot of the growth that we've had and

people coming from different backgrounds, I'm sure there'll be some people listening right now

surprised that we're not just pre-mill by a default, because that might be the only thing that they've

ever known.

But it's really interesting stuff to look into if you haven't done some research on it even though it can

seem like, oh, why don't we just take that, you made the joke about the pan-millennial thing, hey,

Jesus is going to return, why do we even need to think any more about this? But there's a whole

genre of scripture that is worth looking into and is worth studying and figuring out where you land on.


Right, I joke about taking the simplest road, and that's what it is for me. It's a joke, because we want

to take Scripture seriously. We want to hear whatever God has to say to us. We need to wrestle with

that, understand it. It's meant for our good. And so the book of Revelation is not like a wasted book.

God gave it to us to encourage us, to give us hope, especially in the hard times and as we think

about the end coming.

So we do need to wrestle hard with Revelation and try to figure out what it means. Now again, I

think the best approach is that God intended it, that the Apostle John intended it to be sort of a

symbolic picture of the end, that he's not intending for us to really see some of these symbolic

figures. Even for example, you think of some of the multi-headed beasts and things like that that

come in Daniel and in Revelation and places like that But yeah, I don't think those are literal pictures

I think those are metaphorical pictures of things that are gonna happen between now and the end


Yeah, that's a it's a good point because when I was learning and being trained in that position They

also believe that some of those creatures and some of those pictures are metaphorical So they don't they don't think that everything is literal. In fact, I remember sitting in classes and trying to track exactly. They were saying that we think the locusts are Apache helicopters, and we think Gog and Magog might be Russia and China. So they definitely believe that a lot of the apocalyptic literature is symbolic. So it's not too far-fetched to believe that a thousand-year reference could also be a symbolic reference. And that's where you and I would ultimately land.


But their symbolism would be only for people in our era of time. If this was Apache helicopters, the

initial people who were reading Revelation wouldn't have been reading that going, Oh yeah, Apache



Right, for sure. So I mean, an important point is to say that we take the Bible seriously. Don't hear

us minimizing that. I think that's the argument of some, is that we're not taking it seriously. Like you,

you made an interesting point that some people might be shocked to find out that there are these

other positions. And that was my initial feeling. I think, I'm trying to think, I think in Bible college is

when I started to encounter some other positions, because up to that point, left behind was kind of all I had heard. Man, and I just thought, that must be what everybody thinks. That must be what every Christian thinks.


Yeah, I mean, so much so, John and I, we got to be interns for a short season together at Peace

Church a long, long time ago, but I remember in our library, those were some of the most popular

checked out books in our reformed library, and it did not align in any way. Now, they are works of

fiction, but a lot of people have formed their general eschatology kind of around those books or later the movies that came out following them. So, even in our church history, that was one of our most popular things in our library. So, it shouldn't surprise us that for a lot of people, that's kind of their default position.


They just picture a rapture of some sort, some sort of a tribulation period, and then followed by

Jesus on a throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and what that all looks like. They probably

don't know the details, but popular stuff that pops up is who is the Antichrist, and in whatever

position you have, there's still categories and interpretations of what those things mean. They just look different based on how you view the millennium and then how you kind of work backwards from there.


Yeah. All right. So for those of us younger potentially listeners All right 18 year olds, I guess What was the left behind series? What was the theology that was taught there in terms of rapture?

Question #2: What was the left behind series? What was the theology that was taught there in terms of rapture?


And yeah, well Vesternate lived with the guy who wrote it. That's true. We were ten floors apart he was in the penthouse and I never saw him but No, basically what they do is they take what is a relatively new?


That was the other thing that made me start to doubt some of my pre millennial teachings as I found out that it They wouldn't say this but it kind of came about in the 19th century right there not pre millennialism altogether There's position historic pre millennialism, but like the

new modern dispensational form of it was at least popularized in the 19th century. They would say it

was a return to the original biblical teachings that got lost for a long season.

But then what I found out about it was that, yeah, it was just more of a recent thing that The

language I still remember them using all the time is when you hold the Bible in one hand and a

newspaper in the other, which in itself isn't necessarily a bad picture of how to look at the world, but

what they would really try to do is make as many connections as they could. What I saw happening

is that it shouldn't surprise us that it became a popular book series and a popular movie series

because it's very dramatic, it's very interesting and engaging. I mean it's it's the stuff that would work

great for Hollywood or work great for a best selling series of books similar to how Harry Potter or Hunger Games would work. Now they would they would probably take offense to that because they weren't saying that they were true works but they kind of did use it as a tool to help try to educate people on eschatology but all that to say the book series what it did is it followed a group of people from an initial rapture then all through a seven-year tribulation eventually an Antichrist showing up and I'm trying to figure out who this Antichrist was and eventually the books wrapped with Christ's return and Millennial reign, but it was just a dramatic picture of what could happen if the pre-trib,

pre-millennial, dispensational view actually played out. And the reason why it's it's got some cool

allure to it is, you know, there's planes flying and a Christian pilot disappears into the air and

someone else has to figure out how to fly the plane.


And the stars were teenagers.


Yeah, teenagers at the beginning. And then I think Nick Cage came in and took over the series.


There ended up being like 20, 30 books, right?


Well, there was a youth series and then there was an adult series. I think the adult had like a dozen

books and the youth series, yeah, 30, 40 something. But you can know when Nick Cage is coming

into your franchise, it's probably starting to go downhill fast. I know you're a big National Treasure

guy, Jon.


I love National Treasure. I think those are great movies.


But you know, those aren't true either. He didn't really steal the Declaration of Independence. But

that's a whole other thing. I know, Mitch, you probably don't know what that movie is either, right? Or

have you heard of


No, I saw that one.


So Mitch, have you ever heard of the U.S. Constitution? I'm just kidding. Way before your time. So

speaking of some of these questions about who is the Antichrist, what is the Rapture, all that kind of

stuff, Nate, how do youif somebody comes up to you in the church lobby on Sunday and says, who

is Magog and Gog and who is the Antichrist? How do you answer this question?


We'll be right back after this break.


Hi, I'm Elizabeth, one of the co-hosts of MomGuilt, a podcast with new episodes every Monday. MomGuilt is a podcast about the daily struggles of motherhood. Stephanie and I share real experiences of MomGuilt and how we have found freedom from that guilt through the gospel. Listen to us on or wherever you find podcasts.


Well, in all honesty, the first thing I usually do is point them to you, John. But if I'm actually going to

do my job, I'll talk to them. I kind of have the neat thing of being able to get into the details with them a little bit more because I studied that and was tested on it, but I What I try to point them to I'd say the first thing is I'd say You know the important thing and this isn't the only important thing but the important thing is that we believe Christ is going to return a Bodily return and which leads to a bodily resurrection if you look at the Apostles' Creed, there are actually people who have heretical views of how end-time stuff will work. There's a whole sub-category of eschatology, preterism, and there's full preterism and partial, and some of the guys on the extreme end of full preterism might not believe in a bodily resurrection, and you start to get in the Gnosticism, and so there's stuff that's out of bounds for sure.

We've got lots of fancy words to talk about this. Do you want to get into Preterism, Jon? No, I don't

think so. That's the belief that all of this was fully fulfilled in the first century. Some people think that's the Amil position. That's not. We think the millennium, or that period of time of Christ's rule and reign was ushered in when Jesus came in and said The kingdom is here and that's you've probably heard someone say the when you talk about the kingdom already and not yet

There's an emphasis on the on mill side. I would say on the already of Jesus ruling and reigning here

and now versus the pre mill side They would say already and not yet in a different way. Their heavy,

heavy emphasis is on the not yet, because Jesus isn't sitting on an actual physical throne in the

geographical precise location of Jerusalem. But ultimately, I do think, you know, we've talked about lots of distinctions, thrown out lots of words, but I do think for Christians, there's more that unites us than that separates us, because we all believe that Jesus is going to return. We all believe that Jesus wins. Peace Church had a bumper sticker that said, Jesus wins at one point. And there's a cool simplicity to that, to know that we can all agree. But yeah, I think ultimately the thing that I would emphasize with a person coming up and asking that question is I'd start by emphasizing the thing we can all agree on, that Jesus is going to return, Jesus wins, and that there's going to be a new heavens and new earth, and we're going to live with him and get to worship him and enjoy him for all of eternity.

But then I would, personally, I would start to point them towards figuring out some of the aspects of

Scripture that they can, that are very, very clear. I think all Scripture is clear, but there is a reason

why you can have Christians at a table who will all agree on the Gospel, that all agree on what I

would call the primary tenets of theology. I don't think that the return of Christ and the core doctrines of eschatology of end things are secondary, but I do think where you land on the Millennium, the Rapture, the Tribulation, I would consider those ones that you can agree to disagree and partner hand-in-hand and minister together. So, if somebody was really sold on the pre-mill position, I think there's a total place for you at Peace Church, but I also would probably try to point them in what I think is a more faithful direction to Scripture, which I would land more in the alms milk

camp. What would you say? Is there something you would add onto that?


Yeah, so I do have the experience sometimes when somebody comes up to me on a Sunday

morning or sometime and says, Pastor John, is China and Russia? Yeah. And my typical answer is

to say, maybe. We'll see. I don't know. Yeah, we're gonna find out. I have no idea. And that's kind of

typical of the way that I look at those passages of Scripture, and that's what I try to encourage is I

say, maybe. I don't know. I don't think it's really our job to speculate on that. I think the best thing

you can do is read scripture and pray about that, and maybe just realize, hey, you know what? I'm

not the President of the United States. I'm not in Congress. I'm not having to make policy decisions

in relationship to some of these things.

So I get to take a little bit of an easier perspective, even if I was in that situation. We just don't know.

Yeah. Jesus is coming back. There are going to be some hard times between now and the end. We

want to try to be faithful. We want to try to be godly, we want to share the gospel so that as many

people as possible can trust Jesus and go to heaven.


Those are the things to focus on. And that's so good. And what you just made me think of is that

Jesus was so clear when he's returning, part of his emphasis was on our readiness, how we live in

light of knowing he's going to return and that we don't know the day or the time. We don't know the

hour. And so to live in obedience, to live following the gospel, to live in the love of Christ and the

truth of Christ, knowing that He's going to come back and we better be ready. And we better be, not because we need to earn our salvation or anything like that, but because God has given so much to us through the cross, through the empty grave, how can we not give everything back to Him in obedience as we wait for His glorious second appearance.


Yeah, there's a Martin Luther quote about this that says, someone asked Martin Luther, what would

you do if you knew next week Jesus was coming back? And he said, I would plant a tree and pay

my taxes. Kind of the idea of like living out the same faith that we're called to live out regardless of knowing when Jesus is coming back. Right. And my answer would be more like, I'd tell as many

people as I can about Jesus, but then what somebody should say in return to me is, well, Pastor

John, that's what you should be doing anyways. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's the point is that like,

man, we don't need to know when the end is coming. Jesus said he's gonna come like a thief in the

night. We're not supposed to know. We can't know when the end is coming. We just need to live

every day as if it's tomorrow.


Yeah, and I like the point, but if I knew for sure Jesus was coming back in a week, I probably

wouldn't go to my tax appointment.


Totally, yeah, right.


So I'm just not smarter than Marbury.


It's a bummer answer for sure. Nate, you had said something earlier about our position as all

millennials that we believe that this was ushered in when Jesus came during his earthly, his reign

came during his time on earth. Just as someone who isn't all millennial, but maybe is trying to look

at this through some other perspectives, it seems like a counter argument, or an argument against

that would be, well, doesn't millennium mean a thousand years, and hasn't it been a little bit late to that? Like, are we, have we missed it? Does that prove that we're wrong in some way?


No, that's fair, because we know it's been more than a thousand years, double that, since Jesus

showed up on the earth and started bringing the gospel message and proclaiming that the kingdom

was here and the kingdom was coming. Yeah, I think that's a great question, and again, it would go

back to that a thousand years as a symbolic number, and throughout Scripture there are certain

things that are treated as symbolism, especially with numbers. There are, you'll oftentimes hear

some higher critics will try to pinpoint some exact thing where they go, wait, really, you know, in the

book of Numbers where a number of, a count of people, all of them end in whole numbers, and they go, wait, is there no way that they would all end in these perfect numbers? And you go, well, there could have been a rounding up of count when you're trying to count thousands that you can round. And they go, well, then the Bible's not true then. And you go, well, hold on a sec. If that wasn't the intention of how they were doing it, of what they were trying to report, then it's not an error. error in the same way we, I mean, we could use examples all the time where if you say, you know, my wife will say, she makes fun of me of this, and she'll say, hey, can you bring the trash out or whatever, and I'll say, yeah, I'll do it in a minute. It's not going to be, she says in the Midwest, we say in a minute for all things. I didn't ever realize that. She's from Seattle. But I don't mean in, I'm going to wait 60 seconds. Sometimes in a minute means in 10 seconds. Sometimes, more times than it should be, it means in 10 minutes, and not in a minute.


For me, it usually means like tomorrow. Yeah, yeah. I was just thinking of the Super Bowl last night.

They were talking about the attendance there, and it was 100,000 or more, and even in reporting,

we don't use that hyper-literalism as saying, well, obviously that was all made up. and saw that there were people there.


Yeah, so we know how language works. And so for us, we would say, no, we don't mean a literal in

the sense of 1000 years. And what does a year mean? How many times is the earth going around

the sun? What we mean, as John said earlier, 1000 years means a really long time. It's not

happening tomorrow.




All right. As we wind down, I want to just get these questions a little bit more solid. We had some

really great conversation about this, but let's give some snapshots of these answers to these

questions. So, what is the rapture?


All right. We said the rapture is when God's people ascend to meet with Jesus and be in heaven. Is

that what we said?




All right, second question. Do we believe that we are currently in the Millennium reign?


My answer is yes.


My answer is I think so, but I wouldn't be absolutely shocked if there's some form of a 1,000-year

Millennium to come.


That's fair.


Awesome. All right, last question. Do you believe future prophecies about the tribulation and Christ's

second coming will be fulfilled literally like how the prophecies were fulfilled about the first advent?


This would go back for me. This is I would say literally Meaning how the author intended yes, but

literally in the sense that everything will happen in a very sort of strictly literal


My answer is kind of a no. Yeah, I would say I I don't think there's going to be a seven-year season

of intense tribulation. I do believe that there's going to be apostasy as there has been now, and I

think the way I read apocalyptic literature, I do think there'll be some sort of a larger apostasy to

come. Some people I've read all millennial guys who say you need to look no further than the

entrance of 19th-century liberalism as you know a forefront philosophy in modern Western culture

that praises unbelief over belief and you go What's more apostasy than that? And so but yeah,

there's there's tribulations in general. There's going to be apostasy But do I think it's going to be a

seven-year period? I don't.


Right. When I look at Revelation, what you see is, if you look at the sort of the big picture, the outline

of the book of Revelation, what you see is a series of these like, you know, there's bowls and there's

just these different images of pain and suffering kind of being poured out. And that's what I would

say we're experiencing. We're experiencing a series of suffering kind of comes and goes in the

world and for the saints until Jesus returns.


All right. And stay tuned for Pastor Jon's incoming series of books, an amillennial version of The

Left Behind. It's going to be short and a lot less dramatic, but we're just going to be his diary.


There'll be people living their everyday life, telling people about Jesus.


Paying taxes and planting trees, apparently.


At the end it's going to say, and Jesus came back and it was awesome. Praise God. Thanks

everybody. Thanks for listening. Some complicated stuff, but hopefully it's been beneficial to you as

you think about this complicated stuff of the end of all things. Have an awesome week. Have an

awesome week.

You can find That's a Good Question at or wherever you listen to podcasts.

bottom of page