Rider on the White Horse, Gerard Jullain (1670)
Critics of Christianity try to undermine the integrety of the Lord Jesus Christ, declaring Him a false prophet because they cannot reconcile the ‘imminent’ factor of His ‘end times’ predictions.
Most Christians are also unable to account for the simple statements Jesus made concerning His impending return.
In my opinion, Dispensationalism’s emphasis on empirical evidence and imaginative narrative has blinded the eyes of many believers.
According to Deuteronomy 18, if the words uttered by a prophet failed to come to pass that person was considered a false prophet.
Deu 18:20-22 KJV But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
If the words of Jesus failed, He too would be a false prophet and Christianity discredited as a result.
Deu 18:18-19 KJV I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
However, Moses prophesied God would raise up a Prophet, both Peter and Stephen proclaimed Jesus was that Prophet… Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 ‘…In fact, in the words before us, Moses gives promise both of a prophetic order, and of the Messiah in particular as its chief; of a line of prophets culminating in one eminent individual. And in proportion as we see in our Lord the characteristics of the prophet most perfectly exhibited, so must we regard the promise of Moses as in Him most completely accomplished.’ — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible
The Prophetic Credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus is ‘That Prophet’
Joh 1:21 KJV And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
When John the Baptist was asked if he was ‘that prophet’, he succinctly answered, no.
Joh 5:45-47 KJV Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Most importantly, Jesus declared to the Jews He was ‘that Prophet’. Nevertheless, they refused to believe Him and were held accountable in AD 70.
The Scriptures clearly present the credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ, is it likely that He could ever get it wrong? Of course He couldn’t.
Luk 21:32 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
Jesus kept all His promises and is true to His word, having returned to His generation exactly when He said He would.
Phrases that Clearly Implied an Imminent Second Coming
Did Jesus fail to keep His promise regarding His imminent return? Of course He didn’t! The following selection of Scriptures contain phrases of imminence, such as ‘at hand’, ‘the time is short’, and ‘it is the last time’.
‘At hand’ means in the near future not the far and distant future as taught by many scholars today.
A Quote from Dictionary.Com
‘at hand a. within reach; nearby; close by. b. near in time; soon.’
It is not difficult to understand the meaning of the phrase ‘at hand’ in the following Scriptures, the term simply means the events mentioned were about to happen and subsequently did.
If we accept the aforementioned came to pass after a short time, surely we must remain consistent when interpreting the following:
Mat 3:2 KJV And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mat 4:17 KJV From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mat 10:7 KJV And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Does ‘at hand’ still mean imminent in these Scriptures? If yes, then the Kingdom of Heaven arrived during the lifetime of Christ’s generation.
Of course, God has always been Sovereign over His creation; hence, Jesus came at the appointed time to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men.
A phrase like ‘at hand’ does not fit Dispensationalism’s view of eschatology, and it is not uncommon to be told that ‘at hand’ cannot mean what it says it does, even although the claim of Dispensationalism is to take the Scriptures literally.
An unwillingness to address the consequences of Jesus’ statements is common throughout the Church teaching fraternity. Nevertheless, the Scriptures clearly proclaim Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets exactly as He promised.
How else can we account for the following Scriptures that unequivocally state an impending return?
Paul constantly taught the imminent return of the Lord, was he guessing, or did the Holy Spirit inspire him? The answer should be obvious to believers.
Jesus and the Imminent Second Coming
It is important to consider audience relevance when interpreting the Scriptures. Jesus was speaking specifically to His disciples, not to believers 2000 years in the future.
Mat 16:27 KJV ‘For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father’
Mat 16:27 YLT ‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father’
In his literal translation, Robert Young indisputably asserted Christ’s impending return when he correctly translated the Greek word ‘mello’ as ‘about to come’ rather than ‘shall come’ in the KJV.
Joh 5:25 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
‘and now is’ What have we to make of such assertive statements from the inspired Word of God? Not only was the parousia imminent but also the resurrection and the judgement!
Dispensationalism has corrupted the meaning of ‘imminent’, interpreting it as something that can happen at anytime in the future. It actually means something about to happen, impending.
A Quote from Dictionary.com
‘Imminent adjective 1. likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent.’
Paul and the Imminent Second Coming
Rom 13:12 KJV The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Rom 16:20 KJV And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
1Co 7:29 KJV But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
Phi 4:5 KJV Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
1Th 4:15 KJV For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Paul said ‘we which are alive’, he did not say ‘those’!
Why did Paul constantly teach the imminent return of the Lord, was he guessing, or inspired by the Holy Spirit? Of course He was inspired.
The Writer to the Hebrews and the Imminent Second Coming
Heb 10:37 KJV For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
The only major historic event ‘at hand’ after the Day of Pentecost was the ‘great and the notable day of the Lord’. The historical evidence of the judgement was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70… Acts 2:20
James and the Imminent Second Coming
Jas 5:8-9 KJV Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Peter and the Imminent Second Coming
1Pe 4:7 KJV But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
Both James and Peter referred to the judgement about to take place when Jesus returned.
John and the Imminent Second Coming
1Jo 2:18 KJV Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
Rev 1:1 KJV The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
A Quote from the Pulpit Commentary
Revelation1:1 ‘It does not follow, because St. John had events near to his own day in his mind, that his words are limited to those events for us.’
Really! John neither plucked the Revelation out of thin air, nor was it a figment of his imagination. John obediently wrote what was revealed to him concerning impending events. Some incredulous scholars misinterpret the simplest statements to accommodate their presuppositions.
The fundamental message of the Revelation was the approaching parousia with the accompanying judgement on the guilty nation of Old Covenant Israel.
Did the Apostles Join the Ranks of the False Prophets of Their Day?
Mat 24:26 KJV Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
Jesus warned His disciples that false prophets would arise in ‘the last days’ saying the Messiah was here or there. Did the Apostles join their ranks by proclaiming the imminent return of Christ? Of course not, they preached by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Is it at all possible that Jesus and the Apostles were wrong in their predictions? Of course they weren’t!
Did they give false hope to the persecuted Church of the 1st century by encouraging them to believe the second coming was about to happen? Of course they didn’t!
Were they guilty of deception? Of course they weren’t!
It is contrary to the divine nature to lie or to deceive; everything Jesus said was truth.
A Quote from Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea c 265-340 ‘Theophania’
’…I need now only say, all these things have been done : the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem–all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth ; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations ; God’s holy arm has been made bare in their sight: His judgments have prevailed, and they remain for an everlasting testimony to the whole world. His kingdom has come, as it was foretold it should, and His will has, so far, been done; His purposes have been finished; and, from that day to the extreme end of time, it will be the duty, as indeed it will be the great privilege of the Church, to gather into its bosom the Jew, the Greek, the Scythian, the Barbarian, bond and free; and to do this as the Apostles did in their days–in obedience, faith and hope…’
Dispensationalism claims prophecy is still unfulfilled even although the time ‘was near’ 2000 years ago. It appears that most Christians do not believe Jesus when He said ‘I come quickly’.
Will believers continue to be entertained by TV evangelists who take their ‘end times’ theology from the daily newspaper, or accept the Word of God and come to terms with the inevitable repercussions?
The language Jesus and the Apostles used was clear, simple, and concise. Yes, the time is ‘at hand’, the time is at hand for a paradigm shift in our approach to the subject of eschatology!
What do you think?
Dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Plymouth Brethren Movement.
The concept consists of a distinctive eschatological ‘end times’ perspective. All proponents hold to Premillennialism and the majority to a Pretribulation Rapture.
Dispensationalism teaches the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church, and that God has yet to fulfil His promises to national Israel. These include the land promise and a future Millennium kingdom, whereupon Christ will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years.
Preterism teaches that all ‘end times’ prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70.