The resurrected Jesus could have walked down the main streets of Jerusalem and right into the temple, removing any doubt as to His true identity and nature. But that would have upset the delicate balance between the virtue of faith and the freedom to remain in unbelief. It would be giving away too much information. The finely balanced spiritual equation of repentance, faith, and righteousness within the context of this broken world…does not always include a full revelation of all pertinent information upfront (Ex. 4:1-17; 1 Cor. 13:12).
Absolutely no one ahead of time understood the upcoming resurrection of Jesus which was to occur three days after His crucifixion.
Luke 22:49 records the disciples asking Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane whether they should “smite with the sword” to defend Him.
Peter weeps bitterly after failing to stand by Jesus at His trial.
The disciples scatter for their lives after the arrest of Jesus, not realizing their temporary situation was secure until the disposition of Jesus of Nazareth was finally decided.
The religious leaders think that by killing Jesus they will be rid of Him and His movement.
Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus wrap the dead body of Jesus in linen strips according to the Jewish custom for permanent internment.
The women come to the tomb early Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus with spices for permanent internment.
The disciples initially reject the first reports of the resurrection of Jesus.
The two men walking with the resurrected Jesus toward the town of Emmaus are sad, because they still do not have any idea that Jesus through the cross and the resurrection has purchased for them their eternal salvation that very day.
All of this, even though Jesus told people ahead of time that He would rise from the dead (Mk. 9:31-32; Mt. 27:63).
People at the time missed the upcoming resurrection of Jesus because they were stuck in horizontally conventional thinking.
Consider the Apostle Paul as he travels toward Jerusalem for the last time.
Paul is surrounded by Spirit-filled men, even the well-known Jerusalem prophet Agabus, all beseeching Paul not to proceed forward into the personal threat he faces at Jerusalem.
After the tumult in Jerusalem, as Paul sits in the prison at Caesarea, these same Spirit-filled Christian companions could have said to Paul in hindsight “we told you so.”
Yet only God could see that He was changing the ministry of Paul from a church planting evangelist to a writer of the final four “prison” epistles, within a quiet time for reflection and under the physical protection afforded a prisoner of the Roman Empire.
Everyone missed this ahead of time as God worked-out His higher purposes in the midst of incredibly tight circumstances…that characterize the narrow gate for a person following Jesus Christ in faith…and without care for their own personal safety (Acts 21:13).
The contention made by pretribulation proponents today that because the Bible is rich in prophetic content we should therefore be readily capable of accurately interpreting end-times prophecy ahead of time…is in my opinion an over-reach of horizontally conventional thinking.
The notion that we can piece together all of end-times prophesies in a highly detailed sequential chain of events, fundamental to the pretribulation program, should at the very least be approached with some amount of healthy questioning based upon the brief arguments made above.
The best current projection of upcoming events can only be partially accurate…because all of the end-times information is not in yet.
Human intellect combined with an assessment of current events can only take us so far at this point in time.
As frustrating as this may be to human intellectual pride and hubris, we still need to exercise faith regarding our full understanding of upcoming biblical end-times prophecies.
We will need Holy Spirit revelation according to the Joel 2:28-29 verses to illuminate more fully the whole end-times picture. We will need Spirit-filled Christians having the gift of prophecy to contribute additional details according to God’s will and timing, with a “thus sayeth the Lord” quality of authority to back up their pronouncements, over and above mere human intellectual, scholarly opinion.