PROPHECY UNDER THE NEW COVENANT
By Dr. Scott Lively
There are innumerable theories on Biblical prophecy and numerous well established camps totally convinced of their respective conclusions. I have charted my own course based on the premise that the Bible is intended to be one harmonious document in which all the diverse components interconnect naturally. That requires balancing the Old and New Testaments and I believe the key to that balance is found in Jeremiah’s prophecy about the New Covenant. It is cited in Hebrews 8 by way of explaining to the Hebrew people why the New Covenant was superior to the Old Covenant, but it also highlights two critical facts important to the study of prophecy generally.
“Jesus has received a much more excellent ministry, just as the covenant He mediates is better and is founded on better promises. For if that first covenant had been without fault, no place would have been sought for a second…. ‘Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers…I will put My laws in their minds, and inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will each one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.’ ”
Jeremiah is clearly describing Christianity, wherein God indwells those who accept Christ as Savior, Who specifically promised “when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come” John 16:13. That was a spiritual quantum leap of incalculable magnitude. The passage also makes clear that understanding prophecy is about listening to the Holy Spirit for yourself.
The purpose of prophecy under the New Covenant is to prepare the church for the Second Coming of Christ. We should therefore pay very close attention to how the New Covenant is defined by Jeremiah, and to the instructions of the mediator of the covenant, Jesus Christ, on the subject of prophecy. That means first, to recognize the centrality of the Two House theme in understanding the phenomenon of Christianity in prophecy – which almost no one with a large prophecy-themed following does – and second, to give far greater weight to Jesus on the timing and landmarks of prophecy than any other prophet.
To the first point, I refer you again to Hebrews 8:8 “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
Was the New Covenant primarily for the Gentiles? NO. In fact, Gentiles have to be “grafted in” before it will even apply to them (Romans 11). Was it for “the Jews” (the Biblical nickname for “Judeans” as distinct from “Israelites” – 2 Kings 16:5-6 )? NO. It was expressly promised to the two separate houses of the Hebrew sons of Jacob: the House of Leah and the House of Rachel, named (per patriarchal custom) for their sons Judah and Joseph (“Israel” per Jeremiah 31:9), respectively. Hebrews 8:8 is thus proof both that the two houses are still separate at the issuing of the New Covenant, and that the story of the New Covenant is intimately related to the past and future story of the two houses.
To the second point, I argue that the Olivet Discourse as presented in Matthew 24-25 is the ultimate foundation and guide to all prophecy study, because it was the instruction given by Jesus to His disciples in response to their direct question in Matthew 24:3, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” I contend His answer was a point by point chronological summary of end-time events which is repeated with only slight variation in the Gospels of Mark (Chapter 13) and Luke (Chapter 21) and reiterated by Jesus in an expanded and annotated fashion in the Book of Revelation, recorded by the Apostle John.
In my analysis of Matthew 24-25, I track twelve events in Matthew 24, starting with the “birth pains” and ending with the glorification of the Bride of Christ at the resurrection and rapture (“birth”). I then continue into Chapter 25 to track the three sequential post-rapture events (in three parables): the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Testing of the Works, and the Return of the King. Those fifteen events establish a timeline template to which all other prophecies can be naturally correlated and aligned.
I next aligned Revelation to the Matthew 24-25 timeline, then brought in God’s time-keeping systems: the seven feasts of Leviticus 23, and the broader cycles-of-sevens teaching in Leviticus 25 to further assist on aligning the Old Testament prophecies to the timeline. Some of this will be familiar to those who have heard teachings on the Biblical Feasts which have been gaining popularity over the past decade.
Importantly, in my analysis, the three events of Matthew 25 fall within the Ten Days of Awe that begin with Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets) on which I believe the resurrection and rapture will occur, and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), in which Christ will return with the Host of Heaven to take physical possession of the earth. While the Ten Days of Awe are a time of exceeding great joy for the Bride-become-Wife of God, they are simultaneously Ten Days of Wrath for those left behind on earth to suffer the bowl judgments, and finally, the Winepress of the Wrath of God.
I have designed a Scripture-citing graph that explains this last paragraph very simply and it will be included in the release this week in print and video, of my second installment of “The Prodigal Son Prophecy: God’s Amazing Plan for the Restoration of the Two Hebrew Houses and the Salvation of the Gentiles.”