I recently read the book "The Apocalypse Code" by Hank Hanegraaff. I have been listening to Hank's show "The Bible Answer Man" for years off and on, and I do disagree with quite a bit of the stuff he says, but one thing I agree with him on is Eschatology.
A little background: When I was a kid, my father was Seventh-Day Adventist. Being the kind of guy he was, we got kicked around quite a few churches, most of which were what you might call Historic Adventists, the prophecy pundits. Now when you are in 5th grade and you hear that the world is going to start ending in February of 1997, it's gonna loosen your stool. So as a kid, I was afraid of eschatology, and rightly so. Kids need security and love, not threat of impending world ending doom. In a way, it chased me away from the faith, though I never completely let go of it. When I used to get into trouble in middle school and early high school, my dad would make me memorize sections of scripture, and not the good stuff either, he was a prophecy buff, so I had to memorize prophecy. Woo. I ended up memorizing the entirety of Daniel 8, 12, and Matthew 24. When I got back into the faith, which was partly due to listening the Bible Answer Man radio show, I started reading the Bible again. I read through the New Testament four times before reading Revelation. I hated prophecy that much. So when I heard Hank talking about a far future upcoming book entitled Exegetical Eschatology or E squared, I was intrigued even though he consistently refused to lay all of his beliefs out on the table on the radio show. But the idea that much of prophecy in the Bible had already happened loosened my fear of it, and my fear of the future.
Fast forward a few years, I am married now with a kid on the way, and Hank's book is released. Now titled The Apocalypse Code because people have no idea what Exegetical Eschatology means, the book is an in depth look at the true meaning of scripture as deciphered by scripture, and a special focus on the shortcomings of the dispensationalist point of view, specifically those of Tim LaHaye.
The book is in typical Hanegraaff memory mnemonic acrostic style is laid out using the acrostic LIGHTS.
L is the Literal Principle, and the only one I'll focus on here. Hank has spent alot of time on this subject both on his show and in the book. He shows how the dispensationalist point of view becomes absurd when too many things are taken in a wooden literal sense. Then at other times, they change the literal words of even Jesus to match their eschatalogical model, specifically in Matthew 24 when he says (paraphrased) I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away till all these things have happened. Why cant we just listen to what Jesus says? The futurist point of view holds that when Jesus says "this" he really means "that" and when he says" generation," he means "race" and by "these" he really means "those." This makes no sense, why would he preach these things to people who would have no flaming clue what he was talking about if those things were to be taking place in the far future?
But the truth is that what Jesus and Daniel and John were speaking about was as they said it was, literally. The beginning of Revelation states that the prophesy of Jesus "will soon take place" not thousands of years in the future. By saying that he would be "coming on clouds with power and glory" Jesus was speaking of judgment on Israel, just as it had meant in the Old Testament. And that's exactly what happened. After the Jews had Jesus murdered, he sat at the right hand of the Ancient of Days and judged them, and Jerusalem fell not 40 years after He died.
So if I don't have the pre-tribulational rapture to look forward to, what do I have? I have exactly what Jesus said I did. He said no one knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man comes. He will take all his followers home with him, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth for the old earth has passed away, and there will be no more crying or pain. So I can live just as Jesus said to live, expecting that he will return today or tomorrow, but knowing that it may be many years until he comes. And so I care for the earth he has given me as if it must sustain my descendants for thousands of generations, but fully expecting him to return today.
And that's the hope that I have.