Join us for a conversation with Todd Hampson about why Bible Prophecy gives us hope to see our babies again in Heaven. Todd is the co-host of the Prophecy Pros' Podcast and a grieving father to two babies in Heaven.
Todd shares about the unexpected death of his son, Ethan, and how his faith proved to be real as he trusted in God to carry him through. His love for Scripture and Bible Prophecy allowed him to find hope in the midst of his grief. Todd encourages us to focus on our glorious future and spend the short amount of time we have on earth to reach people for Christ.
In this episode, we discussed:
The apologetic of fulfilled prophecy and how it led to Todd's salvation
Grieving differently than your spouse from a father's perspective
Faith becoming a matter of life and death and moving from theory to reality
The urgency in reaching people for Christ now
Why people aren't talking about Bible prophecy
Systems of theology within eschatology (the study of the End Times)
Interpreting the Bible literally and taking God's Word at face value
What Heaven will be like
Looking forward to the Rapture as a reunion with our babies
What will we do during the 7-Year Tribulation and the Millennial Kingdom?
What is the Bema Seat of Christ?
How old will our babies be in Heaven?
Where is the hope for grieving parents in these dark times?
Full transcript below.
Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!
Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)
Todd shares that death forces you to think about eternity and whether or not you really believe the Bible. For him, losing his son was a pivotal moment where his faith moved from theory to reality. How do you feel your faith has been affected after the loss of your baby?
Todd talks about having vision and staying focused on our glorious future in Heaven with our babies. When we have a clear vision of our future, we should spend our lives reaching people for Christ. How does the loss of your baby and perspective change give you an urgency to tell others about Jesus? What could you do to live out your faith more boldly?
In this episode, we talk a lot about interpreting the Bible literally and taking God's Word at face value, including when we read about future prophecy. What did you learn in this episode about the End Times? What questions do you still have? Write in a journal or notepad the areas you want to learn more about and make an action plan to study Scripture.
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MEET OUR GUEST
Todd is an author, speaker, illustrator, and animation producer. He and his wife, Tracey, live in Georgia and are the parents of three living children and two babies in Heaven.
Todd has a love for theology, apologetics, prophecy, and eschatology. He is the co-host of the Prophecy Pros Podcast with Jeff Kinley and also the author of many prophecy-related books.
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MEET OUR HOST
Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,250 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.
Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.
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Episode 26: Why Prophecy Gives Us Hope to Be Reunited with Our Babies in Heaven with Todd Hampson
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.
Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.
Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.
Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:51] Hi friends, and welcome back. A few episodes ago, we had Jessica Speas on the podcast to talk about Bible prophecy for the grieving mother. This was actually our most popular and most listened-to episode of our podcast so far. This was Episode 22, if you want to go back and listen to that episode.
Many moms expressed interest in learning more about Bible prophecy, so I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Todd Hampson, the co-host of the Prophecy Pros Podcast. I am excited to have our first bereaved father on the podcast aside from my husband.
Todd is a grieving father and will be sharing his story of losing his son, Ethan, with you and he will also talk about why Bible prophecy gives us hope to see our babies again in Heaven.
Todd is also an author, speaker, illustrator, and animation producer. He and his wife, Tracey, live in Georgia and are the parents of three living children and two babies in Heaven. Todd has a love for theology, apologetics, and prophecy, specifically eschatology, or the study of the Last Things.
While these topics can either be sensationalized or marginalized, they are key elements of Biblical Christianity. Now more than ever, people are asking the big questions of life and Todd’s goal is to help people understand the Bible in our times in order to apply God's Word to their lives. We are so excited to welcome Todd to Cradled in Hope today. You will be so blessed by the message of hope he shares.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:19] Welcome Todd. It's so wonderful to have you on the Cradled in Hope Podcast today.
Todd Hampson: [00:02:23] Oh, it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:26] Well, I have just been blown away at your podcast. It's called the Prophecy Pros Podcast, and I have been binge-listening to the episodes. You have a wealth of wisdom and information to share about Scripture and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so I would love for you to share who you are, what you do and your story of losing your sweet baby, Ethan.
Todd Hampson: [00:02:51] Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, Todd Hampson and I'm by trade for the long haul I've been an animation producer. We produce cartoons for ministry, and homeschool, and children's ministry, and family-friendly entertainment.
But also five or six years ago, the Lord also used my art background and made it collide with my writing ability. And so I started writing books on Bible prophecy, eschatology, other tough topics like spiritual warfare, things that Christians tend to see as too complex or too scary to touch, and then basically package it systematically in a way that people can understand.
And so I have a series of books called the Non-Prophet. He's the Non-Prophet, P-R-O-P-H-E-T. And then through the books, I connected with another author, Jeff Kinley, and we just were cut from the same cloth. We both love prophecy. We both grew up completely unchurched and God tracked us down and saved us.
And for both of us, what impacted us and helped lead us to Christ was the apologetic of fulfilled Bible prophecy. So in other words, everything that God said was going to happen when it happened exactly like it said hundreds, some cases, even thousands of years apart. So that was a compelling apologetic. So that naturally led me to love future prophecy or eschatology.
And then we'll talk more about that in the interview about how that coincides and helped me grieve and helped me get through everything with Ethan. And my wife and I, we had our first two, Daniel and Natalie, in healthy pregnancies. Everything went great. And then we had a miscarriage maybe just a few weeks in, and then about six months later, we got pregnant again and little Ethan was, everything was going great.
And we were about five months in and one day she just said, “He's really still today. He's not moving. I don't feel anything.” So we went to the doctor and we had a sweet doctor from Argentina. We lived up in Maryland at the time, I live in Georgia now, but he had a great, fantastic bedside manner. He was a doctor to the hilt, but he knew how to be compassionate.
And he said in his accent, I won't even try to do his accent. I won't do it justice. But he said, “This is a very quiet baby.” So we kind of knew what we were looking at. He said, “Let me send you for a sonogram just to confirm. But yeah, this baby is really quiet.” So got the sonogram, of course, heartbreak. And it threw us for a loop, woke up that day not expecting it at all, and then no complications, everything was going great. Then all of a sudden it just hit us.
And so of course, unexpectedly, the same day we go in to deliver. And I talked to my wife before this and I said, “Hey, is there anything you want me to not share or to share? I want to make sure I honor your feelings and how you grieve through this.”
And she said, “No, share as the Lord leads. He saw us through it and I know He's going to get the glory” But long story short, had to deliver little Ethan and he had some birth defects that looked like–we don't know what the reason was, of course, but the Lord took him early and it was a tough thing.
But my wife and I grieved in different ways in the moment. And then even as we processed it. And I had some elderly relatives pass before that, but that was the first time I dealt one-on-one with death suddenly like that. And yeah, that was a tough thing.
Ashley Opliger: [00:06:05] Yeah. I’m so sorry, first of all, for both of you and losing your precious Ethan and also your baby early in miscarriage. It's a pain that no parent should have to walk through and it's a really difficult time.
And it's also very common for men and women to grieve differently. And that's why there's so much value in hearing from men and from the father's perspective, because so often in our support groups of women, a lot of the women will talk about how they're feeling distant from their husband or feeling tension or miscommunications because their husband’s grieving differently than them.
And whenever we do couples groups and we get the men in here and they share their perspective in grieving, it's amazing because then the women are listening, thinking, “Wow, my husband is actually grieving the same way as all of these other husbands.”
And of course, there are personality differences and what not, but on the whole, it's been so helpful for the women to learn from the men and the men to learn from the other women, because then it makes you not feel so alone that your husband is not this outlier or doesn't care, because a lot of times I think that's the perception and that women grieve heavier than men.
And so would you share from your perspective what your grieving looked like and also how it differed from your wife?
Todd Hampson: [00:07:25] Yeah, definitely. She was much more in the moment, like crying through it and also taking in the moment when Ethan was delivered, counting his little fingers and holding him and looking at him.
And I did all that as well. But I don't know if it's a guy thing or a personality thing, but in my mind, this is what it is: “We’ve got to get through it.” I saw it like–I'm very goal- oriented, so in me, it was like, “Okay, we’ve got to get to the hospital. What's the next thing in front of me? We’ve got to deliver the baby.” But not knowing some of the other steps really threw me for a loop. How do you grieve after that?
Also, I think I felt like I had to be strong for her in the moment, but when it hit me the hardest, I can't remember why, but we actually took two different vehicles to the hospital. I think I had to go do something or she had to go get something and then we met up at the hospital.
And so the first time I was alone was driving home from the hospital and it hit me like a ton of bricks, like just totally unexpected, sudden grief, like somebody just gut-punched me because I was alone. I didn't have to be strong. It was done.
And the other thing that was really hard was, whew. [pause due to emotions]
Ashley Opliger: [00:08:36] It’s okay…
Todd Hampson: [00:08:40] But leaving the hospital without Ethan. Our other two kids were born, we got to go home with them. So leaving his little body there was, that's what just really got me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:08:51] It’s so heartbreaking, that moment of separation. For me, I feel like when we left the hospital, that was harder than holding her and seeing her-
Todd Hampson: [00:09:01] Yes.
Ashley Opliger: [00:09:01] … because it was the separation. And in human terms, it feels like such a long separation, but obviously, as Christians, we know it's not the end. But it feels like the end until for the rest of our lifetime.
And so when you got home after having this time in the car by yourself and allowing yourself to feel the weight of your loss. I do think it's very common for men to feel like they need to be strong for their wife and for their family. And so it's sometimes hard to really allow yourself to feel it and sit in the sadness.
So when you got home and you were processing the grief together in the weeks and months that followed, what did that look like at home? And how did you learn to support each other through your grief, even though you were grieving differently?
Todd Hampson: [00:09:50] Yeah, that's a great question. It was definitely a process. We had a couple of good mentors actually that mentored us even before we got married, so they were there for us. So we had a great support group. We were plugged into a church. We had good mentors, good friends, and we talked openly with each other.
But I wouldn't bring it up. I didn't want to make her more sad than she was, but anytime I knew she was grieving or feeling it, we would just have a conversation, and same with me. And I remember too, there are moments when you read the description of grief, we hit all those: Anger. There are moments. I remember we had him cremated, and in even that there was confusion.
Do we have a funeral? Do we? All these questions that you've never thought you'd even had to think about before you're suddenly faced with. And you're having to make these split decisions on the fly and then hoping you made the right one and wondering.
But I remember going to pick up Ethan's ashes, just being angry, not angry at God, not angry at, just angry, just mad. Like, “This just ain't right.” It was just raw emotion and it didn't stick around and we processed it.
And I'll tell you, I don't know how people who don't know the Lord go through something like that, because our grieving process, honestly, I think it was pretty healthy. It was hard. Definitely the hardest, if not one of the hardest things we've gone through, but the whole time I had hope. The whole time I knew God was in control.
Matter of fact, there was one quiet moment after we got checked into the hospital and I went back to the elevator to go get her bag out of her car, my wife, Tracey, I had like 30 seconds on the elevator of silence. And I was just like, “Lord, what is going on?” And I just had this sense, not an audible voice, but I sensed Him say, “You're a warrior.”
And I don't know why, but that helped prepare me for what was coming, and it helped me. Maybe it's because of dealing with death, that death is a real thing. Christians aren't immune to it. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, so we're going to experience that as well.
So in some senses, it was maybe God telling me, “Look, your Christian faith is real. This is what it's all about right here. Anybody can say they trust Me when things are going great. But if you can trust me now and, whew, then you’re a warrior.”
Ashley Opliger: [00:12:09] Absolutely. I think when your faith becomes a matter of life or death, especially when your own flesh and blood, your own child has passed away, it really forces you to think about, “What do I really believe about Heaven and about God? And is my faith really real?”
I think you have this, at least I did, a crisis of faith of having to decide, “Does everything that I believe and I've believed my whole life, do I really believe what the Bible says? And if I'm going to cling to the hope that Bridget’s in Heaven, then I want to cling to every single word that He's spoken, and everything that He says is true.” And that really led me to surrender and start the ministry.
But for you, how do you feel like your faith was impacted? I know you said you were grieving with hope, but did it strengthen your faith over time? And what did you learn about God during that season?
Todd Hampson: [00:13:00] It definitely strengthened my faith over time. And I think that moment when I felt like God said, “You're a warrior,” I think it was part of that. I think at that moment, a large part of my faith moved from theory to reality.
It's just a maturing process. It's something you can discuss and talk about, but until you experience it in real time, you can't really explain it. And it becomes part of you. And I think in a large part, Ethan's death is very much like that as well. In terms of my faith. It moved it from, “Okay, you say you believe these things,” what you were just saying, “but do you really believe them?”
And I did, thankfully. Like I said, I had some anger and some grief, but I didn't question God. I knew where Ethan was. I knew we'd see him again, and that brought great hope. And I remember thinking, “How does anybody who doesn't know the Lord, who thinks we're here by accident [handle it]?”
And part of it is because that was how I grew up unchurched. I believed in evolution. I didn't believe in God. So that mindset was very acute to me in terms of: How do people deal with, well, and a lot of times they don't, how do people deal with death if they don't have an eternal hope, if they don't know where they're going, if they don't know the answers to the big questions? So we are blessed to have those answers.
Ashley Opliger: [00:14:17] Absolutely. You said something before we hit record. You said, “Death forces you to think about our glorious future.” I can’t agree with that any more. And I think that's a perfect segue to talk about your interest in Bible prophecy and why you believe that it's important, and how that merges with Ethan’s story.
Todd Hampson: [00:14:38] Yeah. I shared a little bit earlier about what got me interested in it, but honestly, dealing with death and those real things I think added to that. God put in our heart eternity, we want to know about these things. So yeah, death forces you to think about eternity, forces you to think about, “Does what the Bible says about our future, is that really going to happen? Do I really believe it?”
And there are some amazing things we have to look forward to: the Rapture, that Bema Seat of Christ, returning with Christ, Millennial Kingdom, Eternal State. I mean, it literally just gets better and better!
And the one pet peeve of mine. I hear a lot of people who don't teach Bible prophecy or scoff at it say, “Well, it's not really practical for how to live life right now.” And the old adage is, “You can be so Heavenly-minded you're no earthly good.” I disagree wholeheartedly.
I think yeah, there are some people who know a lot of Bible but don't live a lot of Bible, and obviously that could turn people off. I think the more we think about our glorious future and the more we realize life is short, we only have a short time to reach people for Christ, to live for Him, to sacrifice for Him, we have a short time to do that. Why not focus on our glorious future? Because that's the anchor that's going to pull us through.
My daughter, actually my oldest son, and my daughter are both in college. My son just graduated, my daughter's in her second year. And for her first year-and-a-half, she knew she wanted to do something in the medical field, but she wasn't quite sure, and she struggled in a couple of her classes.
And part of it was that freshman year and getting adjusted and all that. But a lot of it was she didn't have clarity on where she was going. Well, now she knows she wants to be a pediatric respiratory therapist. So now all of a sudden this semester, she got straight A’s, and she's like, “Yeah, I feel like I'm getting in the groove.”
And I was sharing with her. “Well, part of that is because it's easier to work hard towards something when you have a vision for where you're going.” And it's the same thing with our eternity.
It's easier to work hard for the Lord, it's easier to persevere through death and grieving when we have a vision for the future that we're working towards. And the clear vision we have about Heaven and everything we have in front of us, the more capable we're going to be to live out the Christian life right where our feet hit the pavement.
Ashley Opliger: [00:16:55] Yes. And I'm always just so amazed at how many people, even Christians, that we’re given this playbook from God, a play-by-play of exactly what's going to happen and what our future's going to look like and the timeline of everything.
Obviously, we don't know the exact time or what year or day these things are going to happen, but a general timeline of the events that will unfold. And yet so many Christians are either unaware or apathetic about it.
When I've started to talk more about Bible prophecy with people, some of the responses that I've gotten recently, and I feel like this is very common, and I want you to speak to why you think this is happening, but a lot of times I hear people say, “Well, Jesus is coming back at some point and so it doesn't really matter how it's all going to happen.”
Or they'll say, “Well, Revelation and all of the prophecies are really difficult to interpret and maybe they're not meant to be interpreted or they're confusing, so how can anyone really know what any of this means?”
I also hear people say that history is cyclical, about the fact that, “Well, yeah, things are getting bad right now, but they've been bad in the past and we'll bounce back. And history is going to repeat itself over and over.” And I'm just so shocked that so many people are willing to carve out huge chunks of the Bible and not talk about it.
Whether it happens in our lifetime or not, we should be talking about this and passing it down through the generations.
Todd Hampson: [00:18:26] Yes.
Ashley Opliger: [00:18:26] And it even says that things will be like the days of Noah, where people are oblivious to the fact that the end is coming and up until the moment that the Lord shut Noah into the ark, it says people were eating and drinking and marrying and oblivious to the fact that this coming judgment was going to happen.
And I feel like that's the state of our culture right now is people are just so consumed with their selves. Like it says in the Bible, they'll be lovers of themselves. And we talked about in our episode with Jessica more about what the signs of the times are, but would you speak to why we're not talking about Bible prophecy?
Todd Hampson: [00:19:03] Yeah, absolutely. And there are a lot of mini-answers to it, including everything you just mentioned, for sure. That's the attitude people have that I hear a lot of people say, “I'm a pan-millennialist I believe it's all going to pan out in the end.”
And while yeah, that's true, I mean, we as believers, we can disagree about our particular End Time view and still be unified and brothers and sisters in Christ. But God put it in the Bible for a reason.
We don't treat any other area of theology like that. We don't say, “Oh, well, there's a couple of different views on Who the Holy Spirit is.” So He is who He is, but we don't have to figure it out. No, we study Who the Holy Spirit is.
Or Jesus and His purpose on the cross, “Well, we know He died for our sins, so that's good enough.” No, we study the details of how He died, how He was tempted in the wilderness, how it tied back to Genesis 3:15, the first prophecy of a coming Messiah who would crush the head of the serpent, and all this stuff.
But for some reason, when it comes to prophecy and particularly eschatology. There's been a little bit of Chicken Little Syndrome with people writing books and picking dates. The one guy had the 88 reasons why Jesus is coming in 1988, and then that didn't happen. And he wrote another one, 89 reasons why Jesus is coming in 1989.
So they hear that over and over, and that does turn people off. And that turns me off. That makes our job that much harder, to just say what the Bible says, but those are mini-answers. The big answer is I think it's spiritual warfare. I think the enemy has done a fantastic job of getting people's eyes off of the End Times.
And think about it. The two books that are most attacked from scholars or scoffers are Genesis and Revelation. They don't want us to believe in a literal six-day Creation and that sin entered the world exactly like Genesis 1-3 says. They don't want us to believe that Jesus is going to return.
So even thinking of it in context of a child, every child wants to know their origins and their destiny. “Who are my parents? Where did I come from? And where am I going? What is my purpose?”
So I think it's a lot of spiritual warfare. The two things that I think are absolute game changers, if anybody is listening to this and is like, “Well, yeah, I believe in Bible prophecy. Okay, Jesus' coming, but that could be a thousand years from now,” I don't think so. I think it's closer than people realize.
Number one, we have Israel, which is the super-sign. May 14th, 1948, we just celebrated their birthday, it became a nation again. Every Old Testament prophet except for Jonah predicted Israel would become a nation again, and many of those state it in an End Times context.
So that doesn't mean Jesus is coming tomorrow, but it means that's a clear sign that the stage is being set for all other End Time events. And that brings us to the other powerful thing is convergence. Right now, things are happening globally. I mean, look at COVID. It's the first time something has affected the world in such a global manner.
Even World War II, the whole world knew about it, but it really didn't affect the whole world as much as some of the global events now, but we're so connected now. And I could go through a litany of things of the signs that are converging.
But I think, again, if they can get people not to look at eschatology or study prophecy, they're not going to recognize that when it's right in front of our face. So I think that's what's happening, is much of the Church has not studied it for so long that they don't see what's literally happening right in front of us.
Ashley Opliger: [00:22:22] We hope you are enjoying this episode so far. We want to take a quick break to tell you about some resources our ministry provides to grieving moms.
On our website, bridgetscradles.com, you can find hope-filled resources on grieving and healing including memorial ideas, quotes & Scripture, featured stories, and recommended books and other organizations. We share ideas on how to navigate difficult days such as due dates, Heaven Days, and holidays.
In addition, every month I lead Christ-centered support groups for bereaved moms called Hope Gatherings, both in-person and online. You can find a list of upcoming dates and sign up for our next support group on our website.
Lastly, we would love for you to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can find us on these three pages: @bridgetscradles, @cradledinhope, and my personal page @ashleyopliger. You can also join our private Cradled in Hope Facebook group for grieving moms to find community. We would be honored to hear your baby’s story and be praying for you by name. Now let’s get back to our episode.
Ashley Opliger: [00:23:32] You made a really good point about Genesis and Revelation, because if you think about it from Satan's perspective if he can confuse the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, who God is as Creator, and we're seeing so much confusion in today's world, that there was a Creator that created the world, that it wasn't some cosmic blast that all of a sudden created such intricate humans and people and plants and all of those things, I just don't have enough faith to be an atheist, to be honest-
Todd Hampson: [00:24:01] For real.
Ashley Opliger: [00:24:01] … because it takes so much faith to believe that all of this was happenstance.
I use this example: If you were to go into a field and see something constructed, maybe a little house or some sort of building, you wouldn't look at that house and think like, “Oh, that randomly got there.” And even if the person who built the house wasn't there, you would think, “Someone must have built that house.”
And I don't remember where I read it, but they were talking about an airplane hangar with a 737 inside. And they said, “If you were to throw all of the pieces and parts, the nuts and the bolts and all of the parts that make up a 737, and you were to put it in the hangar and shake the hangar, you could shake it billions and billions and billions of times, but it would never create an airplane.
And that's what people are wanting to believe about our universe, that somehow some sort of cosmic blast or burst or bang ended up creating everything that we see. And so I think Satan is really good about twisting our origins, like you said, but then wanting to confuse what the future will be like, because I'm seeing a growing trend in Christians that are solid Bible-believing Christians believing in the amillennial viewpoint.
The belief then is that Jesus comes back and immediately there's going to be the New Earth and the New Heaven. And so we skip over the Seven-Year Tribulation, we're skipping over the Anti-Christ, we're skipping over the Thousand-Year Reign of Christ on earth. And if I were Satan, I guess I would want Christians to not believe that all of these things are going to happen. What would you say about that and that viewpoint?
Todd Hampson: [00:25:41] Yeah, the simplest way. I can describe it is there are two systems of theology when it comes to eschatology. One is more the reformed systematic theology, and then what I hold to is more dispensational theology.
And basically, dispensational really just means the Bible literally means what it says and says what it means. Unless it doesn't make plain sense, take it at face value. The reformed camp and those are brothers and sisters of mine. I'm not belittling them at all. One of my favorite examples I used is old John MacArthur and then RC Sproul, both great theologians but on completely different sides of that aisle.
MacArthur is more of the dispensational literalist and RC Sproul was the reformed, but they were great friends. They still had fellowship. They didn't part ways. They even joked with each other and always tried to convince each other of their view.
But on the reformed side, and here's why as much as I love my brothers and sisters who are in that camp, here's why I disagree with that view. And that view is that the Church has replaced Israel, that all the Old Testament promises to Israel are now conferred onto the Church. So anywhere in the Old Testament you read Israel, you can just fill in the blank with Church. Well, that doesn't work contextually at all and it doesn't answer any of the questions.
And going back a little further, Martin Luther, who all that comes out of, he did a great job in the 1500s of returning the Church to an understanding of salvation by grace alone, through faith. You didn't need the Church. You didn't need priests and all that kind of stuff. So he nailed that part and that's what the reformed theology comes out of.
But he never wrote a commentary on Revelation. He never took that literal interpretation about our salvation and used that systematically throughout the Bible, so he didn't go far enough, so to speak.
But then you had Puritans and other groups of people in the 16 and 1700s, who returned to a more literal view of the entire Bible, including eschatology. And they started saying, “One day, the nation of Israel will become a nation again.” And everybody was telling them they were absolutely crazy, but 1948 it happened. So to me, that's a gigantic flashing neon sign saying that's a proper interpretation method.
Also, we can't switch interpretation methods depending on which part of the Bible we're using. If we're going to use a literal interpretation about literal Creation, literal Abraham, literal Israel, then why all of a sudden do we switch to this allegorical symbolic method?
So in large part, people who are otherwise great theologians are clinging to their system because that's what they've grown up with or that's what their church teaches. But I would even challenge them. “Hey, forget what I'm saying. Just read the Word for yourself. Let it speak for itself.”
Every Old Testament prophet, like I said, except for Jonah, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah, and also a lot of the Psalms, talk specifically about a future golden era on earth where a descendant of David will literally rule on a throne from Jerusalem.
So if you start picking and choosing what you spiritualize or what you allegorize, then the entire Scripture loses its meaning. How do you know anything means what it says? God means what He says and says what He means. We can take Him at face value.
Ashley Opliger: [00:28:53] Yes, and we should be going to Scripture to study eschatology because sometimes in some of these other viewpoints, people are studying Church history and what was believed at certain times in the Church.
And I know that's a big reason a lot of people don't believe in a pre-Trib Rapture, because of when it came on the scene in church history. And I think it's always important to go back to the Word. What does God say about this?
And so we won't continue on with the theology behind it. There are so many resources. And I do want to say please go and check out Todd and Jeff's podcast called Prophecy Pros because they dive so deep into all of these topics and have so many great resources.
They have a seven-part series on the Book of Revelation going through all the chapters and explaining it. And so in this podcast, we can't go through all of it, but I really encourage everyone to go and listen, if they're interested in this.
Todd Hampson: [00:29:53] *Podcast Promo* Hey, Todd Hampson here from the Prophecy Pros Podcast. If you enjoy the Cradled in Hope Podcast., I believe you'll love the Prophecy Pros Podcast as well. If you've listened to this podcast for very long, you know that one of the main sources of hope that Ashley shares with her listeners is the amazing future that we have in Christ. As believers we know that one day we'll be reunited with those we lost too soon.
Jeff Kinley and I do our best to explain Bible prophecy in a way that every believer can appreciate and apply to their everyday lives. Every fulfilled prophecy happened just as God said it would, so we can have confidence that all of the amazing things that God has promised for our future will come to pass as well, including being reunited with those who have gone before us.
Nothing brings more hope, joy, confidence, and faith than knowing that God keeps His promises and that we have a beautiful future to look forward to as believers. To check out our podcast or to find out more information, visit prophecyprospodcast.com.
Ashley Opliger: [00:30:55] And so Todd, I want to switch gears now and talk about all of this that we're talking about, the End Times and Bible prophecy. For a grieving parent, where do we find hope in the Rapture and in the coming Thousand-Year Reign and the future Kingdom that will never end? Can you talk about how we find hope in all of this?
Todd Hampson: [00:31:15] Yeah, absolutely. For the most part, broadly speaking, we know God is ultimately righteous. Everything He does is full of wisdom, is better than we can imagine.
I've heard some people say, “Oh, Heaven's going to be boring. We're just going to be sitting on clouds and playing harps.” That sounds more like Hell to me. I want no part of that, but that's not what Bible teaches. That's what has been caricaturized about Heaven.
So, yeah, we have amazing things to look forward to: the Rapture, and there's a debate on babies when they pass. Do they go straight to Heaven? I believe they do. I believe we have a precedent for that.
And when David's son died, “he can't come back to me, but I will go to him,” I believe that's some indication there, and just knowing God's character, that He protects the innocent, that He does not punish those who are not guilty. And obviously, babies are innocent. They haven’t had the ability to make a choice one way or the other. So I think it lines up with God's character.
One of the beautiful things about the Rapture, when you read about it in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and actually 1 Corinthians 15 as well, it's a moment. It's a twinkling of the eye. It happens in an instant. And part of it is a reunion.
If you've ever been to a family reunion or a wedding or something like that, my oldest son's getting married in two weeks, so we have a bunch of family coming into town and we're looking forward to it. Well, it's going to be like that. But can you imagine seeing my mom's there, my grandma's there, Ethan's there. A lot of our friends are there.
I mean, that's just another additional layer of the beauty, the fact that we get to even go to Heaven when we don't deserve it, Jesus paid it all. But the fact that it's also a reunion and that we’ll be with them in eternity and that our relationships will be better than they've ever been here on earth, we can't even imagine how perfect our relationships are going to be. No tension, no drama, just all glorifying God, living in a sinless state, and enjoying Him for eternity.
Ashley Opliger: [00:33:07] Yes, I cannot wait for that. And so we talked about in our episode with Jessica about the fact that if we die right now, before the Rapture were to happen, we would be instantly in Heaven with our babies in Heaven.
But right now the current Heaven, we are not in our resurrected bodies yet so our soul would be with our baby's soul. But at the moment of the Rapture is when we would have our resurrected bodies and get to see and hold our babies, like you said, in the reunion.
And if the Rapture happens before we die, then that's an instantaneous getting to see and hold them in our glorified bodies, which is just amazing to think about!
Will you walk us through, then, what that looks like after the Rapture and we're reunited with our babies? Whether it's in our lifetime or not, that moment is going to happen eventually. We just don't know if we'll have already died or not. It says that the dead in Christ will rise first.
Todd Hampson: [00:34:01] That’s right.
Ashley Opliger: [00:34:01] And so that would be us as Christians. So would you talk about then what will we be doing during the Seven Years of the Tribulation on earth and what that will look like for our time with our babies?
Todd Hampson: [00:34:12] Yeah, that'll be amazing. There are two main events in Heaven for the believer after we’re reunited with Christ and we have that reunion with our loved ones who have gone before us.
We get to take part in what's called the Bema Seat of Christ or the Judgment Seat of Christ. And there's some misunderstanding about that. I've heard some people say, “Oh, Jesus is going to play a movie on my life and critique it in front of everybody.”
No, that's not what it's about. We’ve already paid for our sins. The context of it is like the medal ceremony at the Olympics or graduation. Think of it like that. It's a huge graduation where we get to stand and there'll be a sense of loss for opportunities we missed, but it says he'll wipe the tears from our eyes. But the main part of it is us receiving our rewards.
And again, we can't work for our salvation. Salvation is free. Jesus paid it all. But we can work for eternal rewards. And a second event. I'll get back to that in a second, the second event that takes place after the Bema Seat of Christ, and how He processes billions of Christians in less than seven years, I don't know. But time is not like it is to us when we're in Heaven, so somehow God gets it all done.
But the next thing is the Marriage Supper, the Wedding, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Basically, God's consummating the marriage. He longs to be with us right now, as much as we long to be with Him. We’re the Bride of Christ. We're waiting for the Groom to come and get us and all that takes place in Heaven.
And we know that because when Revelation, I believe it's chapter 20, talks about the return of Christ, when He returns, it says He’s with the armies of Heaven, plural, so the angelic army and us. And the armies are robed in pure white, so we get our new wedding garments, so to speak.
So there, one thing about Bible prophecy, it is a bit like a puzzle. You’ve got to pull different pieces from Old Testament and New Testament and then merge them together. But that's the beauty of it, is they all link up and paint a picture for you.
But anyway, then we get to return with Christ. So I imagine that Bema Seat, our kids are going to see us getting our rewards. We don't understand this, but they're going to get rewards too. We don't understand how or why, but we will get to enjoy all of that with the babies that we have had that have gone on before us. And they will return with us.
And I've heard some people debate, “Well, are they going to be grown-ups or are they going to be little babies?” The Bible doesn't really say, although I've heard some people make the argument that Adam and Eve were created in adult form. They didn't have to grow up. So perhaps we'll see them [at an adult age] …
And Jesus started His ministry around 30 years of age, so perhaps they'll look like they're healthy but youthful, full-grown adults. God knows our heart too. Maybe there's a time or maybe always they're babies and we get to hold them. And so it's a mystery.
I think that's one key thing too, especially with Bible prophecy, we have to allow room for mystery. God hasn't given us all the answers, so we've got to be careful not to speculate too much. But we can take confidence in the fact that whatever, however it is going to happen, it's way better than we can even imagine.
We will not be wondering, “Oh, I wish this could have been better,” or wondering why God didn't do it a certain way. He's going to blow our minds. And then we get to come back to earth and then rule and reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.
And there are a lot of verses that talk about what that looks like, but it will be a time where we rule and reign with Christ and it's a time of perfect Paradise. No war, no devil. Satan will be bound for a thousand years. At the end of that thousand years, he’s released for a time and gets squashed really quick.
And even that shows God's grace, because I've heard some people say that whether it's just to check off a legal box or if He's really allowing Satan time to repent, that thousand years is like a thousand-year time out.
God loves all his created beings and wants all of them to repent, wants everyone to see His patience, and how He wants everyone to repent, but not everyone will. But He gives every opportunity. So anyway, then He recreates the Heavens and the earth and we get to rule and reign with Him forever.
And I heard Dr. Jeremiah is doing a series right now, and this is probably the best explanation I've ever heard of, the Millennial Kingdom versus the Eternal State. He said the Millennial Kingdom is like the overture. He said if you go to a symphony, they do a short overture that has parts of all the songs that they're going to play in the full symphony, so you can get a taste for what's to come and it whets your appetite.
So going to Heaven, it's not going to be a let-down. The Millennial Kingdom is just the overture for something even better that's coming. So that's why I say in all my books, when I'm talking about Heaven, is it literally gets better and better for the believer.
So that's another reason, like we talked about, we need to be anchored to that. We need to work hard now. We need to reach people for Christ now because for eternity, we won't be able to do that. Now is the time for us as believers to rise up.
And I commend you for your ministry. You turned your misery into ministry and you are reaching people that nobody else could reach. So I think that's encouraging because every person out here listening to this, they might be wondering, “Oh, I can't do a podcast,” or, “I can't write books.” You have a purpose. You just need to, “Lord show me my calling. Use me however You see fit.” And I promise you He'll do it.
Ashley Opliger: [00:39:12] I love that you said that for Christians as believers, things get better and better, because I think a lot of times when we study the End Times, it's scary because there are a lot of bad things that are going to happen.
And we know that the world and the people, it's going to get darker and things are going to get worse and worse before it does get better. And so it can be scary to think about that. But for us, the End Times are really just the beginning for us to go into Heaven with God and then back to earth for a thousand years, and then the ultimate eternity in the forever New Earth and New Heaven.
And like you mentioned, the Millennial Kingdom, that time, it's going to be good but it's not going to be perfect yet because sin will still exist and death will still exist. But because Jesus is going to be ruling, He will have swift justice and things will be much better than they are now, being ruled by corrupted leaders and evil people. Things are going to be so much better.
My favorite verse in all of the Bible is in Revelation 21, and I'm going to read it here. This is when the New Jerusalem is coming down. It says, “I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth for the first Heaven, and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men and He will live with them. They will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”
This is my favorite verse. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”
And that to me is just the ultimate hope, and getting to that point when finally death can no longer separate us from our loved ones and we will be with God Himself.
I think it was Jeff, your colleague, that said Heaven is not as much about the place as it is who we're going to be with. We're going to be with God, most importantly, and then with our fellow believers and with our babies who have gone on to Heaven. And it says, ”I'm making everything new,” and to “write these words down because they are trustworthy and true.” And as Christians, that's our hope is to focus on that.
And you brought up a good point about not knowing if our babies are going to be babies or if they'll be children or grown-up. But because we can trust in God's good character and His perfect, sovereign plan, we are going to be so happy and content with however it's going to be.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about my little girl, Bridget. She was only 13 ounces when she was born. And I wonder, will she be resurrected as a 13-ounce baby? Or will she be a full-term baby? Or will she be a little four-year-old child? But the most important thing to me is that I just get to be with her and get to know her and spend forever with her with God.
And sometimes I think we lose perspective of that as knowing that we get to be with God and we get to be in Paradise with Him and with our loved ones. We are not going to be wanting or lacking anything. So I love that you shared that.
And so we've talked a lot about theology and eschatology and the hope that we have. And you actually wrote a book about tough questions about the End Times, and you're going to be giving away a copy of that book. So would you share a little bit about that? And then we'll post details on our social media how people can get that signed copy of your book.
Todd Hampson: [00:42:48] Yeah, definitely. So it's called The Prophecy Pros’ Illustrated Guide to Tough Questions About the End Times. We tried to come up with the longest possible title, but it really does capture what's in it.
But it's basically the top 100 questions that most people have about Bible prophecy. And it's categorized into 10 different sections that are logical and chronological. So in other words, we tried to make it very flexible to where somebody could just literally read it cover to cover if they're just eating it up.
Or if they had, “Oh, I have some questions about the Millennial Kingdom,” they can go to that section; “I have questions about the Rapture,” they can just go to that section.
So it's topical. You can use it as reference, but you can also literally read straight through it. And of course, it also has lots of illustrations and charts and stuff like that. It’s easy to understand because that's what we're trying to do is we see the beauty of Bible prophecy and eschatology and how relevant it is for our walk right now.
So the more we can simplify it, take the rough edges off of it, so to speak, and give people something that whets their appetite for them to do their own study, then that's what we're all about.
Ashley Opliger: [00:43:52] I love that. Well, thank you so much for writing that and having that resource available. We will post it on our social media on how you can enter that giveaway.
Todd, would you share with our listeners, how they can get connected to you and listen to your podcast?
Todd Hampson: [00:44:06] Absolutely, yeah. If they just go to prophecyprospodcast.com, there's a list of all the back seasons. We're recording season seven now, so it's about two years’ worth of podcasts on there.
And also you can link to Jeff’s ministry and my ministry as well. And if you just want to go to mine, it's toddhampson.com and Jeff's is just jeffkinley.com. But again, there are links to all of that in the Prophecy Pros Podcast website as well.
Ashley Opliger: [00:44:33] Perfect. Well, would you mind closing us in prayer?
Todd Hampson: [00:44:35] I'd be glad to, yeah, Lord God, I thank You so much. Lord, what an opportunity, even the painful one, Lord, to share about Your goodness and Your glory.
And Lord, I know there's a lot of people listening to this podcast right now who are grieving, whether it's recent or whether it's been a while, that the pain is real and it's there. And I pray, Lord, that You just comfort them right now. I pray that something that we said today would just really comfort them and give them a sense of purpose and hope and joy for the future.
Lord, give people hope. Let them know that You have it all under control, that Your character is perfect, that Your mysteries will be revealed, and that we will be glorifying in You in Your presence for eternity as believers.
Lord, I thank You for Ashley and her heart, and her willingness to do this ministry. I know it's impacting a lot of lives and I pray that it expands and grows and reaches a lot more people to point them to Jesus, to give them hope in the pain, and to point them to their beautiful, glorious future. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [00:45:37] Amen. Thank you so much, Todd, for being here.
Todd Hampson: [00:45:41] You bet. My pleasure.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes when they release on the 1st and 15th of every month. You can also find this episode’s show notes and a full transcript on our website at bridgetscradles.com/podcast.
There you can also download a free PDF for each episode, called the Hope Guide, which is filled with notes, Scripture, links, discussion questions, and so much more. Be sure to leave your email address so that we can keep you updated on podcast episodes, upcoming support groups, and other hope-filled resources.
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Thank you so much for listening and sharing. Until next time, we will be praying for you. And remember, as Jesus cradles our babies in Heaven, He cradles us in hope. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope.
Cradled in Hope is part of the Edifi Podcast Network, a collection of faith-inspiring podcasts on Edifi, the world’s most powerful Christian podcasting app. To listen to Cradled in Hope and find other podcasts by leading Christian voices, download the Edifi app in the Apple and Google Play stores or online at edifi.app. Thank you so much for listening.
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