This review appeared in the Apr-Jun 2014 vol. 171 no. 2 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of DaysTyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL July 6, 2012
The End primarily deals with the Book of Revelation, though it is not a commentary limited to the text of the last book of the New Testament. The subtitle’s use of “complete” is probably overstated, but Hitchcock addresses a variety of issues surrounding the culmination of prophecy in Revelation. Chapters 1 to 3 admonish the reader to stop worrying about the future, they define “prophet,” and they explain why prophecy is important (over one-fourth of the Bible is prophecy). Chapter 4, “It’s All a Matter of Interpretation,” clearly reveals Hitchcock’s dispensational, futurist, pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, and literal approach to prophecy. He graciously confronts other views with a combination of humility and scholarship, stating, “Healthy, constructive discussion, debate, and give-and-take are helpful and should be encouraged” (p. 59).
Chapter 5 deals with three sections of the Bible vital to understanding prophecy: the book of Daniel, the Olivet discourse (Matt. 24), and the book of Revelation. Chapter 6 relates end times to the biblical covenants: the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3; 15:18–21), the Land Covenant (Deut. 10:1–10), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12–16), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31–34). Hitchcock is not a “date-setter,” nor is he attempting to read contemporary history into biblical prophecy when chapter 7 answers the question, “Are we living in the end times?”
“What to Look For” when discerning the “signs of the times” (p. 105) comes next. Building on chapter 7, chapter 8 gives the five biblical signs that point to the last days: the regathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, surging apostasy, the coming Middle East peace, the reuniting of the Roman Empire, and globalism. Hitchcock does not say that things happening in the world today are necessarily the fulfillment of these days but instead that these are signs given in Scripture that point to “the end.”
Chapters 9 to 17 deal first with the Rapture, five major views as to its timing, seven reasons to believe in a pretribulation rapture, a history of the pretribulation view, false claims surrounding this view, and its meaning for everyday life. Hitchcock then discusses the Judgment Seat of Christ, where believers’ works will be evaluated, and he clarifies the timing and place of the marriage of the Lamb.
The chapters grouped as parts 6 to 9 deal with the tribulation period and the events associated with this seven-year period, answering such questions as “What is the tribulation?” “Who is the antichrist and false prophet?” “Who are the 144,000?” “What is the battle of Gog and Magog?” “What is the difference between the first and second parts of the tribulation?” “What is the mark of the beast?” “Who are the two witnesses?” and “What is the battle of Armageddon?” These discussions are especially helpful and clarifying.
The chapters in part 10 discuss “The Second Coming” of Christ. Hitchcock maintains that this is the “cornerstone of Bible prophecy,” as both the Old and New Testaments have numerous references to Christ’s return, over three hundred in the New Testament alone (p. 384). “Human history culminates with the second coming of Jesus Christ” (p. 385). Hitchcock finds four important points about the second coming. The first is the place: “Jesus will return to the earth from the place where He left—the Mt. of Olives” (p. 385). The second is the people who will accompany Jesus at the second coming—“He will be accompanied by a great crowd . . . of both angels and redeemed human beings” (p. 386). The third point of interest is the purpose of the second coming—to fulfill Jesus’ promise (Matt. 25:31; Acts 1:9–11), to defeat the antichrist and his armies (Rev 19:19–21), to regather and restore faithful Israel (Isa. 43:5–6; Ezek. 36 and 37), to judge the living at the end of the tribulation (Matt. 25:31–46), to resurrect the Old Testament and tribulation believers to reign with Him (Rev. 20:4–6; Dan. 12:1–4), to bind the devil (Rev. 20:1–3), and to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (19:16). The fourth point of interest is the pattern of His coming—it is personal, literal, visible, sudden, dramatic, glorious, triumphant, and certain. Hitchcock writes, “He [Jesus] will come in power and great glory. Every creature will bow before Him and be subject to His authority (Philippians 2:11). Only those who have accepted by faith what He accomplished at His first coming are ready for His second coming” (p. 392). Chapter 33 clarifies the issue of the extra 75 days mentioned in Daniel 12:11–12, after the last three and one-half years (1,290 days) of the tribulation, and after the Lord’s second coming.
Part 11 examines the millennium, Christ’s one-thousand-year reign (chaps. 34–35). Part 12 and 13 deal with the last stand of Satan, the final judgment day, and “the great white throne” (chaps. 37–38). And, finally, part 14 discusses, too briefly, the eternal state, the new heaven and new earth (chap. 39). Appendix 1 offers a “Proposed Chronology of the End Times” and is well done. Appendix 2 consists of “Recommended Books for Further Study.”
The End is recommended as a resource for those interested in a dispensational view of eschatology. It is beneficial not only for serious laity but also for college and seminary students. Hitchcock’s style is clear and concise, easily understood and well organized. It is replete with helpful charts, lists, and comparative material. He covers difficult subjects without overwhelming the reader. This book would serve as an excellent textbook for a course on Revelation or eschatology, both in the church and in the classroom.
—Larry J. Waters