Let’s be honest. We’ve all likely gone through that period of our Christian lives (or are still there) when we thought about little else, biblically speaking, than what the Bible said about end times. I recall how, shortly after I became a Christian as a high school student, the timetable for the tribulation period and the rapture became an obsession. To date myself, it was right around the time when Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth was made into a movie. While I know some people who came to the Lord because of that film and its end-times trajectory, my path toward becoming a biblical scholar showed me that discerning exact end-times details wasn’t a fruitful use of my time.
Now having taught eschatology at a Bible college many times, I know that not only was Jesus unsure of precisely when he would return (Matt 24:36), but we aren’t going to figure that out any time soon either. No end-times scheme is self-evident (or “biblical” as adherents like to say). There are intentional ambiguities in the biblical text when it comes to prophecy. And by intentional I mean that prophecy is deliberately cryptic. There were very good reasons why, even after the resurrection, the disciples had a hard time understanding what was going on (Luke 24:44-45).