Eschatology is not simply a question of “what is going to happen?” The deeper question at stake in eschatology is “what is God like?” The drama of the end of the age is primarily about the revelation of God’s character and the culmination of His mission. A distorted interpretation of eschatology is, therefore, reciprocally intertwined with a distorted view of the knowledge of God. This is why those in biblical scholarship who interpret the statements of God’s future judgments symbolically are increasingly looking backward and attempting to reinterpret the accounts of God’s historic judgments as described in the Old Testament. A denial of the severity of God’s future wrath ultimately proves too asymmetrical with belief in the historicity of His wrath upon 99.9% of the earth’s population in a global flood (and many other events in the OT). The brazen bias of the latter serves to reveal the crux of the issue in the former.
While there are legitimate exegetical questions involved, the real question is theological. What is God really like? Can we can accept a Jesus who is going to personally execute the leaders of the earth and give their flesh as a feast for the birds of the air (Rev. 19:11-21). He looks upon the sons of men with His eyes of fire and asks, “who do you say that I am?” Will we grapple with a glorious and terrible Creator who has every right to execute fierce retribution for sin? Or will we tame and domesticate the truth in order make Him more palatable to our understanding and more unconditionally accepting of humanity?
As you study the scriptures, engage your mind with rigor. This is a righteous and wise thing. Yet do not allow intellectual abstractions like “hermeneutics” and “literary genre” to obscure the plain intent of the text. If God had clearly detailed ahead of time the events of the exodus and Mt. Sinai, nearly every biblical scholar today would have called it “apocalyptic literature”. The language of destruction, death, and deliverance would be interpreted as a literary device. The sound of the trumpet, the thunder of God’s voice, and the fire of His descent to the top of the mountain would all be considered symbolic of “spiritual” realities the prophet was trying to communicate through understood categories of hyperbole. The problem is that is it all actually happened, as narrated in a genre academia terms “historical narrative”. There is no question of hermeneutic at Mt. Sinai, only one of unbelief or faith. Is Scripture myth or fact? Is God really like that or not? Faith is above all else a matter of the heart, and when it comes to eschatology we must not miss the heart of the matter.