What a glorious opportunity has blown across the path of many expositors of eschatology, of interpreters of the Prophets of Scripture, to air their views about the near approach of the Battle of Armageddon and of the second coming of our Lord. Scripture after Scripture is quoted in support of some point or another of their views and, frequently, these are without any reference to the context or the fact that the interpretations put on these texts flatly contradict, not only other Scripture texts, but whole passages.
One of the essentials of proper understanding we used to hear a lot about, when a certain B.B.C. Programme was on and a particular Member of the panel was repeatedly saying, "It all depends what you mean by that word (sentence or expression)." In other words terms must be specifically defined and words must have a particular meaning. One cannot chop and change, and this is what happened in this sphere of exposition. Events have been labelled 'fulfilment of prophecy' with little regard for theirrelation to the whole plan of God and dates have frequently been added in sequence to lend veracity to the claims of these modern prophets.
An expositor will use a certain word or expression, which in his mind means something explicit; but he fails to define it and the hearer or reader goes away with an idea in his head that may be completely at variance with the preacher or author's intended import. In his repetition to others the hearer, or the reader, passes on (and really believes he is right in his quotation of the original exposition) something that is entirely at variance with the original. In fact, supposing the original to be true, the repetition is error, but if the original itself is the outcome of muddled thinking then confusion is worse confounded. How few there are who are able to define their terms. How many the less do really understand them? What is meant by the Battle of Armageddon? What does one understand by the expression "the coming of the Lord"? What is meant by the return of Christ? What is conveyed by the expression "the latter (or last) days"? What does anyone mean when he says Israel must first return to the land in unbelief (an expression so frequently heard and read)? What people does one indicate by the words Jew, Israel, Grecian, Greek (a word often translated Gentile in the A.V.)? What is understood by the word Proselyte? And so on, but that is sufficient to lead the reader to ask himself if he is absolutely certain that he knows the answers to these questions and can take his stand on the surety of them being Scriptural answers.
Very frequently one is addressed by somebody who says, "Why do you use those words like 'sanctification,' 'redemption,' 'justification,' 'atonement,' 'propitiation,' and the like, that just mean nothing to me and to many others?" Well, Scripture study is a science, just as mathematics is the study of number and space astronomy is the study of the stars, and so also with the study of engineering, electronics, medicine, biology and a host of others. Each has its own separate words and terminology in order to give specific meaning to speech on any of the several subjects, so that there can be no doubt in the minds of those taking part in the practice or study, as to what is meant by their use; The accepted terminology of Scripture is no less important, indeed it is more so, for in no other subject is there such tendency to prejudice, predilection to misunderstand and intent to misrepresent, apart, perhaps, from politics. Unless the preacher or teacher of the Scriptures is able to make full use of the scientific Scripture words and terms, he cannot put across properly the truth in the Bible, and unless the hearers take the trouble to learn what those words mean, when used, they will never be able to make head nor tail of the Word of God. They may learn a few texts or passages or stories by heart, but unless they get used to the philology of the Scriptures and know what it means, they will never know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, for the knowledge of truth, like love, when it is accepted and practiced, casts out error.
Let us return, now, to our opening sentence—"the near approach of the Battle of Armageddon and of the second coming of our Lord." Of the prophetic fact of the second coming of Christ there can be no doubt whatsoever. The words of Acts 1:10, 11 are unequivocal.
In the Greek all have different shades of meaning, if not great differences, which are only expressed in English by the use of different words. This is seldom recognized by readers of the A.V. or other Versions, but must be acknowledged and adhered to by the sincere student of the Word. A note on the word used in the above quotation from E.W.B's.. Critical Lexicon & Concordance:
Is the saying "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh" really understood? In the 'substance' of the Holy Spirit He comes to us when we believe; but that is not what is meant. What of the 'epiphaneia' or the 'apokalupsis' or the 'parousia'? Are there no distinctions to be drawn? Define your terms therefore. Make sure what you mean and then make sure that you have made those who read, or hear you, sure that they know. This subject is far too loosely dealt with and expositors should be more careful to be specific.
Now, to take up the first half of the sentence, "The near approach of the Battle of Armageddon." The name occurs in one place only, Rev. 16:16. The context starts at verse 13.
In view of what has just been said let us turn to the Prophet Zechariah, chapter 12 verse 2 (et seq.),
This is the SECOND COMING of Christ to earth and it will be to the mount of Olives.