Eschatology is the study of end times, and it is a fascinating topic. Perhaps that is the best reason, or should I say the most common reason that people study it. We have a natural curiosity about the future and want to know what's going to happen. On the other hand, we should study eschatology because God has revealed many things in advance in the Bible. So, as a good student of God's word, Christians ought to study eschatology.
The word eschatology comes from the Greek "eschatos" (last, or final) and "logos" (word). So, it is the study of the things that happen at the end of the age around the time of Jesus return (Matt. 24:3-14; Mark 13:4; 1 Thess. 5:2). Topics included in the study of eschatology are the return of Christ, the rapture and whether or not it is before, during, or after the tribulation period, the resurrection of the dead, the second coming of Christ, the intermediate state, The Judgment, and the nation of Israel.
Then, there are differences of opinions on the nature of the millennium. Amillennialism is the position that the 1000 year reign of Christ is a figurative period of time. The 1000 year period is mentioned in Revelation 20 which is full of symbolism. Therefore, is the period literal or figurative? Then there's premillennialism which takes the 1000 year period to be literal and future. Therefore, we are presently "pre", or before the millennium; hence premillennialism. Then there is another view called postmillennialism which says that through the preaching and the teaching of the word of God, the majority of the world will become converted and we will usher in the kingdom of God.
A lot of books in the Bible speak of the end times but there are some that see more on it than others. Here's a partial list with Scripture references for your perusal.
- Isaiah 24:1-27:13
- Daniel 7:1-12:45
- Zechariah 9:1-14:21
- Joel 1:1-3:21
- Matthew 24:1-25:46
- Mark 13:1-37
- Luke 17:1-37
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- The entire book of Revelation
Eschatology as comfort
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians have divided over differing views about what will take place before the return of Christ. This is unfortunate since the Bible tells us not to pass judgment on debatable issues (Romans 14: 1-12). It also tells us that we are to take comfort in the knowledge that Christ will return (1 Thess. 4:18) and we should realize and be encouraged (1 Cor. 15:58), knowing that Christ will return.
So, let us not divide over our differences of opinion. Instead, let us find our common hope in the return of Christ and our redemption which is guaranteed by his sacrifice and resurrection.