Signs of the Times -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 03:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: Signs of the Times
Author: John F. Walvoord


Signs of the Times

John F. Walvoord

Chancellor, Dallas Theological Seminary
Dallas, Texas

As the twenty-first century begins, the expectation before its unfolding has stimulated prophetic discussion, some of it without scriptural grounds, but nevertheless focusing on the strategic character of our times.

The world situation today in many respects is similar to that of the time of Jesus Christ. According to Matthew 16 the Pharisees and the Sadducees had asked for a sign from heaven (Matt 16:1). Christ’s reply was, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (Matt 16:2–4). Christ was performing before the Pharisees and other observers all the signs that the Old Testament had predicted concerning the Messiah. But the religious leaders of Israel were blind, uninformed, and unconvinced by these tokens. In a similar way today there exists such unbelief regarding prophecy, often founded on ignorance and lack of investigation as well as prejudice. The problem arises because the absolute accuracy of prophetic Scriptures and their literal interpretation has been ignored.

There never has been more evident proof for the need of literal interpretation of prophecy than in the present scheme. It is strange that in orthodoxy where every creed, including the Apostles’ Creed, mentions a literal second coming of Christ to judge the world that there should be such confusion about the circumstances that surround us. The problem is evidently in the question of literal interpretation. Having interpreted the Second Coming literally as the orthodox churches have done, expositors have tended to take the prophecies of events leading up to the Second Coming in a non-literal sense, such as the Rapture, the tribulation, and related things. They have also done the same for events that are prophesied after the Second Coming, such as the

millennial kingdom. Practically every source of confusion in prophecy has stemmed from this lack of consistency in interpreting prophecy literally.

If the Second Coming is literal, the Rapture of the church occurring some years before is also literal. The troubled scene that follows the Rapture before the Second Com...

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