Dispensationalism’s ‘Battle’ of Armageddon is not Mentioned in the Bible

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Catapulta, Edward Poynter (1868) This is similar to the catapults used by the Romans. Source: Art Renewal Centre

Introduction

A great deal of speculation has been written about major events predicted in the Book of Revelation. Inevitably, the result is a misconstrued scenario of the ‘end times’.

It may surprise readers to learn that some of the most popular ‘end times’ topics taught today, do not actually appear in the Scriptures.

For example:

The Antichrist

The Thousand Years Reign of Christ

The Battle of Armageddon

My articles ‘Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is not Mentioned in the Bible’, and ‘Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Reign?’ explain my view in detail.

There is no doubt we are living in uncertain times; sadly, a world war is within the realm of possibility. Nevertheless, political leaders should not succumb to the promulgators of grossly exaggerated ‘end times’ theories. Dispensationalism’s ‘Battle of Armageddon’ has no bearing on the calamities that may befall our generation.

The purpose of this article is to examine whether Dispensationalism’s claim is justified that ‘the Battle of Armageddon’ is an impending, world ending event. I will attempt to explain what John meant by ‘Armageddon’, and affirm its AD 70 timeline.

The History of Armageddon

Adam Clarke (1760-1832) predicted future ‘self-inspired prophets’ would continue ‘Armageddon’ speculation whenever a warmongering dictator appears on the scene.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

‘Armageddon – The original of this word has been variously formed, and variously translated. It is הר־מגדון har-megiddon, “the mount of the assembly;” or חרמה גדהון chormah gedehon, “the destruction of their army;” or it is הר־מגדו har-megiddo, “Mount Megiddo,” the valley of which was remarkable for two great slaughters: one of the Israelites, 2 Kings 23:29, the other of the Canaanites, Judges 4:16; Judges 5:19. But Mount Megiddo, that is Carmel, is the place, according to some, where these armies should be collected. But what is the battle of Armageddon? How ridiculous have been the conjectures of men relative to this point! Within the last twenty years this battle has been fought at various places, according to our purblind seers and self-inspired prophets! At one time it was Austerlitz, at another Moscow, at another Leipsic, and now Waterloo! And thus they have gone on, and will go on, confounding and being confounded.’

Predictions continue to this day, the only difference is the greater degree of exaggeration. Some leading authors, preachers, and TV personalities, who insist on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, now claim John and the prophets described 21st century helicopters and nuclear bombs!

The ‘Battle’ or the ‘Gathering’ of Armageddon?

A Quote from raptureready.com

Revelation 16:16 ‘Armageddon comes from the Hebrew word meaning “the Mount of Megiddo.” This ancient fortress is located in northern Israel, across the Plain of Esdraelon from Nazareth. Armageddon will be the gathering place for the final great battle, which bears its name.’

It is important to understand the context of Revelation 16:16 because it is the only occasion Armageddon is mentioned in the New Testament. It is astounding the innumerable sermons, books, and movies inspired by one verse of Scripture.

Rev 16-16 KJV And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

John wrote they ‘gathered’ at Armageddon, the ‘battle’ of Armageddon is not mentioned at all. Nevertheless, it has not deterred imaginations from running wild.

The Gathering at Armageddon

Rev 16:1-2 KJV And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

In my opinion, the Armageddon timeline was during the 1st century AD when the wrath of God was unleashed upon unrepentant Old Covenant Israel. The religious leaders and their misguided flock were the recipients of God’s judgement. The first vial of judgement was poured out on those having accepted the mark of the beast. The final outcome was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the nation.

My article ‘Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is not Mentioned in the Bible’ explains my view on the beast and his mark.

200,000,000 Army of Horsemen

I agree with Frank Di Mori, the ‘Bible Prophecy Man’, that the gathering at Armageddon was not to battle, but to commence a campaign against Jerusalem.

Rev 9:16-17 KJV And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

However, I disagree with him that 200,000,000 horsemen from the East will literally gather in the near future.

A Quote from Frank Di Mori the Bible Prophecy Man

‘These nations include, Iran which at the present time has an army that numbers 954,000, Afghanistan has an army of 70,000, Pakistan has an army of 619,000 with a reserve of 528,000, Iraq has an army of 273,000, Kazakhstan has an army of 65,000 with a reserve of 237,000, India has an army of 1,414,000 with a reserve force of 1,155,000, and China has any army of 2,255,000 with a reserve force of 800,000. As you can see, if these nations want to attack together they won’t have any problem forming a huge military force of 200,000,000 men.’ http://endtimesresearchministry.com/200-million-man-army/

Seriously!

Frank Di Mori attempts statistically to support Dispensationalism’s view that a literal 200 million army could be formed by eastern nations, obviously, maths is not his forte. His statement accounts for 8,370,000, apparently the outstanding 191,630,000 have gone AWOL.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/armies.htm, makes interesting reading on this subject.

Is there any need for an army of 200,000,000 horsemen from China and eastern nations in this technological age? It is logistically unlikely, since there aren’t that many horses in the world. Surely, he doesn’t believe this army will literally travel and fight on horseback. On a positive note, it would be a good year for the roses.

John described figuratively an overwhelming demonically inspired army!

God’s Method of Judgement

I believe the campaign was the Roman/Jewish war of AD 66-AD 70.

The Roman Empire was God’s instrument of wrath during the final judgement upon Old Covenant Israel in AD 70. There are numerous examples in the Old Testament where God used neighbouring nations to fulfil His promised judgement on a wicked nation. For example, Isaiah 13.

My article ‘The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord Is History’ examines this subject in detail.

The Army of the Roman Empire

Rev 16:14 KJV For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘World G3625 οἰκουμένη oikoumenē oy-kou-men’-ay Feminine participle present passive of G3611 (as noun, by implication of G1093); land, that is, the (terrene part of the) globe; specifically the Roman empire: – earth, world.’

and of the whole world’ According to Strong’s translation, the armies of the Roman World/Empire gathered for the battle of that great day of God.

It was not unusual for the Romans to conscript the armies of subjugated nations to fight their wars. On this occasion, the Roman army mainly consisted of the nations surrounding Old Covenant Israel; all had a vested interest in its destruction, hence the extent of the devastation.

A Quote from Josephus ‘The Wars of the Jews’

‘So Vespasian sent his son Titus [who], came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood’.’ Book III, Chapter 1, Paragraph 3.

A Quote from Tacitus ‘The Annals & The Histories’

He (Titus) found in Judaea three legions, the 5th, the 10th, and the 15th, all old troops of Vespasian’s. To these he added the 12th from Syria, and some men belonging to the 18th and 3rd, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria. This force was accompanied by twenty cohorts of allied troops and eight squadrons of cavalry, by the two kings Agrippa and Sohemus, by the auxiliary forces of king Antiochus, by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbours, and, lastly, by many persons brought from the capital and from Italy by private hopes of securing the yet unengaged affections of the Prince. With this force Titus entered the enemy’s territory, preserving strict order on his march, reconnoitring every spot, and always ready to give battle. At last he encamped near Jerusalem.’ Book 5 (1)

The Timeline of the Great Tribulation

It is possible to ascertain the 1st century Armageddon timeline from Scripture, since it would be at the close of the ‘great tribulation’. Therefore, if we identify the timeline of the ‘great tribulation’, we will establish when the Armageddon gathering took place.

Mat 24:29-30 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days’ Most scholars object to the view that the ‘tribulation of those days’ and Christ’s return took place by AD 70, due to the lack of empirical evidence. However, if the stars were to literally fall from heaven, the earth would not survive the impact. Jesus used prophetic, figurative language commonly spoken by the Old Testament prophets.

For example:

Isa 13:10 KJV For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Isaiah used prophetic language to describe the downfall of the Babylonian Empire. This was similar to the language used by Jesus during the Olivet Discourse.

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

Isaiah’s prophecy was not fulfilled literally; he explained the Lord’s method of fulfilment was the invasion of the Medes.

Rev 1:9 KJV I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John and his generation lived during the great tribulation initiated by Caesar Nero. John encouraged the original recipients of the Revelation by aligning himself with them through the dreadful reign of the ‘man of sin’.

Jesus described the great tribulation about to unfold during His generation’s lifetime.

Mat 24:20-21 KJV But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

‘But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day’ If the great tribulation is a 21st century calamity involving the whole world, why would we pray that our flight not be on the sabbath day? It is obvious, the sabbath restrictions applied to Old Covenant Israel, not to the world 2000 years in the future. Jesus warned His generation of impending doom.

‘such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’ Some futurists contend that the tribulation during the 1st century foreshadowed a 21st century tribulation. If so, why did Jesus declare there would never be another like it?

Luk 21:12 KJV But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues’ Luke wrote that those persecuted would be delivered to the synagogues. If the great tribulation is in the 21st century, will believers be delivered up to the synagogues?

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

In Matthew 24, Jesus said all these things would be fulfilled during the lifetime of His generation. Many today insert a 2000 years gap in a vain attempt to negate the impact of the simplicity of Jesus’ statement.

The Timeline of the Blood of the Martyrs

Rev 16:6 KJV For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

Not only had Old Covenant Israel forsaken the Lord and the Law, the nation was guilty of shedding the blood of the martyrs.

Rev 7:14-15 KJV And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

The faithful who paid the ultimate price for their faith during the ‘great tribulation’, rejoiced in the presence of God.

Rev 17:5-6 KJV And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Who shed the blood of the saints and prophets? It was Jerusalem’s religious leaders. Mystery Babylon was not Rome; it was Jerusalem.

Mat 23:33-34 KJV Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for killing the prophets the Lord had sent.

Mat 23:35-36 KJV That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Jesus warned of impending judgement on all who refused to repent… Luke 11: 50-51

The Timeline of the Great Day of God Almighty

Rev 16:14 KJV For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

A Quote from Duncan W McKenzie ‘The Antichrist and the second Coming: A Preterist Examination’

‘Revelation 16:16 doesn’t say the battle on the great day of the Lord was fought at Armageddon, just that that is where the kings of the earth gathered their troops for the battle. The Mt. Carmel range (the closest mountain to Megiddo) was near to where Titus gathered the Roman armies for the final assault on Jerusalem on the ultimate day of the Lord. Ogden writes the following on this: Josephus [The Jewish War, 5, 1, 1] tells us that when Titus left Egypt with orders from his father to subdue the Jews that he returned “to Caesarea, having taken a resolution to gather all his other forces together at that place.” Bear in mind that Caesarea was within sight of Mt. Carmel, the mountain of Megiddo, and that those armed forces coming from the northern regions must pass through Megiddo before reaching the appointed place of gathering. Titus stayed in the regions around Caesarea until most of the forces from the north arrived, and then moved on to Jerusalem for the battle of the great day of God Almighty.’ Page 321

Zec 14:1-2 KJV Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Titus was about to fulfil Zechariah’s prophecy. The utter destruction of the temple and Jerusalem was accompanied by the death of an estimated 1,100,000 Jews and the enslavement of 97,000.

Titus refused the victory wreath, and reportedly said he had not won the victory, but was only the instrument of their God’s wrath upon them.

Zec 12:11 KJV In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.

The great mourning was reminiscent of the mourning for King Josiah, who was killed in battle against King Necho of Egypt, in the valley of Megiddon.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Zechariah 12:11 ‘As the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon – This was the greatest sorrow, which had fallen on Judah. Josiah was the last hope of its declining kingdom. His sons probably showed already their unlikeness to their father, whereby they precipitated their country’s fall. in Josiah’s death the last gleam of the sunset of Judah faded into night.’

Conclusion

Josephus described the visible collateral damage, but not the spiritual warfare. However, John also witnessed the war in the unseen world between Christ the King and Satan with the forces of darkness.

‘The Day of God Almighty’ brought an end to Old Covenant Israel, and the establishment of the New Covenant Age. Jesus defeated all His enemies, it is time those ‘in Christ’ lived in the victory.

Many appear to be continually swayed by every false prediction of Dispensationalism’s impending ‘Battle’ of Armageddon, with its doomsday scenario that is void of scriptural support.

Having examined Armageddon and its timeline, I am convinced the event is history.

What do you think?

 

 

Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is not Mentioned in the Bible!

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  Nero’s Torches, Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902) National Museum, Warsaw Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

‘The Antichrist’ has a prominent role in Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory. Endless speculation as to his identity, character, and power, has not only given credence to this doctrine, it has been a huge money-spinner for TV preachers, writers, and film producers.

The emphasis on the near future appearance of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ has struck fear in the hearts of believers and unbelievers alike, and has robbed many of the joy of their salvation, having replaced the victorious message of the Gospel with a pessimistic worldview.

By examining the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, we will understand what the Scriptures clearly teach on this subject.

THE TITLE

‘The Title ‘Antichrist’ and the Epistles of John

Just for the record, it may surprise readers to learn that Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is neither mentioned in John’s Epistles nor in the Book of Revelation. The only references to ‘antichrist’ (there is a difference) are found in the 1st and 2nd Epistles of John.

Since ‘The Antichrist’ is not mentioned in Scripture, where does our source of information come from? It is certainly not from God. To mention a few, outrageous ‘end times’ fiction novels, TV ‘evangelists’, and internet conspiracy theories.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘Antichrist’ G500 ἀντίχριστος antichristos an-tee’-khris-tos From G473 and G5547; an opponent of the Messiah: – antichrist.

1Jn 2:22 KJV Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

A characteristic of ‘antichrist’ is the denial of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

2Jn 1:7 KJV For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

The most resolute malefactors who denied Christ’s deity were Judaisers; many infiltrated the early church in an attempt to undermine the teaching of the Apostles by insisting on the inclusion of the Old Covenant Law… Galatians 2:4

1Jn 4:1-3 KJV Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

On examining the context of I John 4:1-3, John is not speaking about a particular man.

’believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world’ John wrote concerning the importance of discerning the spirits of false prophets.

’whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world’ Again, John gave the timeline ‘that it should come’; during his generation.

A Quote from Duncan Mackenzie, The Antichrist Chronicles Vol 2

‘It should be noted that John is mostly focusing on these “antichrists” in his epistles; his discussion of the “Antichrist” is not the primary focus in 1 and 2 John. John’s audience was already aware of the Antichrist (probably from the book of Daniel and Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians). John cites the fact that many antichrists had come as an indication that it was the “last hour” and the Antichrist was about to come. Again, however, John’s discussion in 1 and 2 John is mostly focused on the antichrists from his community not the Antichrist.’

I find it interesting that the only references in the Bible to ‘antichrist’ are found in John’s Epistles. Incredibly, John does not even mention Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ in the Book of Revelation! Duncan Mackenzie makes the case for a man called ‘The Antichrist’ in his book, yet admits that John mostly focused on ‘antichrists’ in his Epistles. He continues by assuming John’s audience were ‘probably’ aware of ‘The Antichrist’ from Daniel and Paul.

A few Bible versions introduced, without justification, a capital ‘A’ to antichrist , thereby creating an individual to support their ‘end times’ theory.

How did Dispensationalism compile a doctrine of such magnitude and influence without Scriptural support?

The Title ‘The Man of Sin’ and the Epistles of Paul

2Th 2:3-5 KJV Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, AD 52 (Halley), Paul reminded them that there would be a falling away before the Day of the Lord.

A man who was the ultimate personification of evil was about to be revealed. Paul called him the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’, not ‘The Antichrist’.

The ‘man of sin’ was the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy and John’s ‘little horn’ in the Book of Revelation.

The Title ‘The Little Horn’ and the Book of Daniel

Belshazzar’s Dream

It was during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar King of Babylon, c 555 BC, that his dream revealed more about the four kingdoms previously described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

The Book of Daniel

Dan 7:3-7 KJV And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

The Book of Revelation

Rev 13:1-2 KJV And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Without doubt, John saw Daniel’s Sea Beast; he even revealed its source of power, Satan the dragon.

Daniel and John shared the same timeline of prophetic fulfilment, the Roman Empire.

The Fourth Beast

Special attention was given to the fourth beast, the Roman Empire.

The Ten Horns

‘and it had ten horns’ These were the ten kings, the first ten emperors of the Roman Empire.

The Little Horn

Dan 7:8 KJV I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

another little horn’ The fourth beast was the Roman Empire; the little horn was Nero Caesar. He was the little horn among them and the sixth of the ten emperors.

‘before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots’ Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, were the three plucked up, all having met untimely deaths before the rule of Nero.

Rev 17:10 KJV And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

John provided more information when he described seven of the kings. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, had fallen, ‘Nero is’, followed by Galba.

‘the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space’ Incredibly, Galba only ruled a matter of months. He was the first of the ‘year of the four emperors’ in AD 69, which was a time ‘of wars and rumours of wars’… Matthew 24:6 Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian

Four Emperors ruled in remarkably quick succession, evidence of the turmoil in the Roman Empire leading to AD 70.

The Historian Suetonius’ Chronology of the Emperors

Some scholars claim that the Roman Empire began with Augustus Caesar and not Julius Caesar. Therefore, Julius cannot be included as one of the ten emperors. However, Suetonius specifically included Julius Caesar in his writing, the ‘Twelve Emperors’.

Suetonius c AD 69-AD 122, recorded the early period of the Roman Empire.

He concurred the Roman Empire’s first leaders were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.

In 45 BC, Julius Caesar reached the pinnacle of success when named ‘Dictator for Life’.

THE TIMELINE  

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to John

1Jn 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.

‘it is the last time’ John emphasised on two occasions in this verse that the timeline of ‘antichrists’ was his generation. Thereby, he eliminated the numerous candidates onerously proposed by teachers of Dispensationalism. The profusion of false predictions as to the identity of ‘The Antichrist’ is a constant embarrassment to the Body of Christ.

Mat 24:24-25 KJV For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before.

John recalled the Olivet discourse when he assured the 1st century Church that the appearance of ‘antichrist’ and many ‘antichrists’ was the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy. As a consequence, they were living in the ‘last hour’ of the ‘last days’ before Christ’s return. Persecution of believers was about to intensify before the great and terrible Day of the Lord in AD 70, when Christ would return in judgement on Old Covenant Israel.

If John was mistaken about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures. I believe the Holy Spirit inspired John when he wrote his Epistles.

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Paul

1Th 5:2-4 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Paul encouraged believers by assuring them he had taught and prepared them for the Day of the Lord. This presents Dispensationalism with a dilemma. If the ‘rapture theory’ were correct there would have been no need for Paul to prepare the Thessalonians for the Day of The Lord, after all, the ‘rapture’ is purportedly seven years before the Day of the Lord.

2Th 2:7-8 KJV For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Paul revealed that the ‘mystery of iniquity’ was already at work in their midst.

‘until he be taken out of the way’ Dispensationalism teaches that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. Apparently, the Holy Spirit will be removed with the Church at the ‘rapture’, allowing ‘The Antichrist’ to take control. Those left behind may still be saved by refusing the mark of the beast during the great tribulation, but how is it possible to be ‘born again’ without the Holy Spirit?

In my opinion, Paul alluded to the assassination of Emperor Claudius, the restraining influence until his murder in AD 54; arranged by Agrippina his wife and mother of Nero.

A Quote from Expositors Bible Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2:7 ‘…The apostasy was to take place among the Jews; and the Apostle saw that Rome and its Emperor were the grand restraint upon the violence of that stubborn race. The Jews had been his worst enemies, ever since he had embraced the cause of the Nazarene Messiah Jesus; and all that time the Romans had been his best friends. If injustice had been done him in their name, as at Philippi, atonement had been made; and, on the whole, he had owed to them his protection against Jewish persecution. He felt sure that his own experience was typical; the final development of hatred to God and all that was on God’s side could not but be restrained so long as the power of Rome stood firm. That power was a sufficient check upon anarchic violence. While it held its ground, the powers of evil could not organise themselves and work openly; they constituted a mystery of iniquity, working, as it were, underground. But when this great restraint was removed, all that had been labouring so long in secret would come suddenly to view, in its full dimensions; the lawless one would stand revealed.’

Nero’s reign seemed promising and peaceful during the first five years, the quinquennium, however, in due course the depth of his depravity was revealed.

1Ti 4:1 KJV Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

1Timothy 4:1 ‘in the latter times — in the times following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Act 20:29): these are the forerunners of “the last days” (2Ti 3:1).

2Ti 3:1 KJV This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

A Quote from Thayer’s Greek Definitions

‘shall come’ G1764 ἐνίστημι enistēmi 1) to place in or among, to put in 2) to be upon, impend, threaten 3) close at hand 4) present

‘This know also’ If the last days were thousands of years in the future and not during Timothy’s lifetime, why did Paul feel it important to warn him about perilous times?

1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

Paul told the Corinthians that the Scriptures were written that they might learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, because ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 10:11 “Thus, therefore,” says Dr. Lightfoot, “the apostle speaks in this place that those things, which were transacted in the beginning of the Jewish ages, are written for an example to you upon whom the ends of those ages are come; and the beginning is like to the end, and the end to the beginning. Both were forty years; both consisted of temptation and unbelief; and both ended in the destruction of the unbelievers – that, in the destruction of those who perished in the wilderness; this, in the destruction of those that believed not: viz. the destruction of their city and nation.”

If Paul was wrong about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.

The Four Kingdoms Before the Arrival of the Kingdom of God

Babylonian Empire… 606-536 BC… The head of gold

Persian Empire… 536-332 BC… The breast and arms of silver

Greek Empire with Four Divisions… 331-146 BC… The belly and thighs of brass

Roman Empire… 146 BC-AD 476 (the West) AD 610 (the East)… The legs of iron and feet part iron and part clay

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Daniel

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon became co-regent with his father Nabopolassar in 606 BC and sole ruler in 604 BC, his dream occurred two years later.

Daniel’s Interpretation of the King’s Dream

Dan 2:31-33 KJV Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

The Timeline and the Kingdom of God: AD 70-Everlasting

Dan 2:34-35 KJV Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

‘the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth’ The Kingdom of God was that stone.

‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord’ Although the Roman Empire continued to exist, it was subordinate to the Kingdom of God, which now rules the kingdoms of the world.

Dan 2:44 KJV And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

‘in the days of these kings’ Dispensationalism is compelled to promulgate the future revival of the Roman Empire to authenticate its teaching, but the Scriptures clearly declare the timeline of prophetic fulfilment was during ‘the days of these kings’!

The Diaspora

Mat 8:12 KJV But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Jews constantly rebelled against Roman subjugation. Hence, the Roman/Jewish war resulted in the destruction, and the dispersion of Old Covenant Israel. The reconstruction of Herod’s temple was completed in AD 63, but it remained for only seven years. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly within the prophetic timeline He predicted.

Mat 21:3 KJV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The prophetic timeline of the arrival of the Kingdom of God was during the Roman Empire. It was at that time the New Covenant Age was fully established.

If Daniel’s prophetic timeline of the ‘Sea Beast’ failed, having been collaborated by John’s Book of Revelation and the writings of Paul, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.

Prophetic Harmony

The Book of Daniel

Dan 7:27 KJV And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The Book of Revelation

Rev 11:15 KJV And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

THE TYRANT

The Tyrant Nero Caesar AD 37-AD 68

The Saviour of the World

Nero added ‘The Saviour of the World’ to Roman coinage and claimed to be deity; he was one of ‘many antichrists’. He gave a mark to all who obeyed his command to declare ‘Caesar is Lord’. Those who submitted were given a libellus, which allowed them to trade and buy necessities. By contrast, the Christians who confessed ‘Christ is Lord’ and refused to worship Nero suffered the most horrendous persecution and martyrdom.

Poppaea (AD 30-AD 65) Nero’s Second Wife

The Jewish representatives in Rome may have used Poppaea, a Jewish convert, to incite Nero to blame and persecute Christians for the burning of Rome. Thereby, the heat was taken of him (pardon the pun), the real perpetrator of the fire.

A Quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

‘This was a period when the city of Rome and the court of the Caesars swarmed with Asiatics, many of whom were Jews, and many of them would be in slavery, or in employment, in the imperial court. It cannot be forgotten that Poppea, Nero’s shameless consort, was a proselyte to Judaism and that she continued to advocate successfully the cause of the Jews before the emperor as occasion arose.’

Nero was responsible for the death of Poppaea in AD 65, kicking her during a fit of temper; she was pregnant at the time!

Persecution of Christians AD 64-AD 68

Nero relished the opportunity to vent his satanic zeal on Christians. History has recorded his numerous atrocities.

To name a few, Christians were wrapped in animal skins and torn to pieces by wild dogs. Alternatively, many were crucified and used as human torches to light Nero’s garden during evenings of debauchery.

The Tyrant and the Temple of God

He as God Sitteth in the Temple of God

2Th 2:4 KJV Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Many scholars contend that Nero was not ‘the man of sin’ because he didn’t physically sit in the temple at Jerusalem. However, this objection does not withstand examination.

Paul Referred to the Church as the Temple of God

Rev 13:6-7 KJV And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Some believe Paul referred to the Church; he called it the temple of God on five occasions in his Epistles.

‘to make war with the saints’ Nero made war on the Church and commanded the death penalty for any believer who refused to deny Christ as Lord and worship him instead.

A Quote from the Pulpit Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2:4 ‘But it appears more correct to refer the expression metaphorically to the Christian Church. It is a favourite metaphor of Paul to compare believers in particular, or the Church in general, to the temple of God. Showing—exhibiting—himself that he is God. His sitting in the temple of God was an assertion of his divinity; he claimed to be regarded and worshipped as God. This was the crowning act of his impiety; not only, like the Roman emperors, he demanded to be worshipped as one of many gods, but he claimed to himself the prerogative of the Godhead, not only to the exclusion of the false gods of heathenism, but even of the tree God.’

Additionally, the following is worthy of consideration:

Paul Spoke Figuratively About Sitting in the Temple of God

Paul chose the Greek ‘kathizō’ for ‘sitteth’ in the temple. It is interesting that Strong emphasised the figurative use of ‘kathizō’ in his definition.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘sitteth’ Strong’s G2523 καθίζω kathizō kath-id’-zo Another (active) form for G2516; to seat down, that is, set (figuratively appoint); intransitively to sit (down); figuratively to settle (hover, dwell): – continue, set, sit (down), tarry.

In the Scriptures, other men of evil reputation who were foreshadows of the ‘man of sin’ attempted to ‘sit in the seat of God’, figuratively speaking.

Isa 14:13-14 KJV For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

‘I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation’ Isaiah’s proverb described Nebuchadnezzar’s ambition to figuratively sit in God’s place.

Eze 28:2 KJV Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:

‘I sit in the seat of God’ The prince of Tyre also aspired to sit in the seat of God, again figuratively speaking.

The Tyrant and the Mark of the Beast 666/616

The Mark of the Beast

Rev 13:18 KJV Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

A lot has already been written online about the gematria of 666/616; it is a constant source of dissension.

I believe Nero Caesar was the ‘man of sin’ referred to by John’s 666, my view is not based solely on his number. The analysis of the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, reveals the harmony of the Scriptures in the writings of Daniel, Paul, and John.

Conclusion

The Roman Empire Under New Management

The Roman Empire (the Sea Beast) recovered from the death throes of civil war caused by Nero’s death, AD 68-AD 69. The Empire ‘resurrected’ to former glory by Vespasian, commenced the Flavian dynasty.

Vespasian was the tenth horn of the Sea Beast; he resumed Nero’s war with the rebellious Land Beast (Old Covenant Israel). His son Titus eventually entered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, Jerusalem, and dispersed the nation In AD 70.

The remnant of believers was delivered from judgement, Old Covenant Israel passed away, and the New Covenant was fully established.

Who is the next candidate for the vacancy of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’?

Or should the question really be who was the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’? In my opinion, Nero Caesar.

What do you think?

 

Ezekiel’s Temple will not be Built in a Future Millennium

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The Prophet Ezekiel, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Many years ago, I enthusiastically embraced and taught the theory of Dispensationalism, adamant that it was the correct interpretation of the ‘end times’. However, in my naiveté I did not make time to study all its implications.

I re-examined this teaching in recent years and my findings left me astonished. In particular, the alarm bells rang when I discovered the most shocking disclosure concerning Ezekiel’s temple… Ezekiel 40-48 To propagate a teaching that insists on Ezekiel’s temple being erected during a future millennium, complete with the re-introduction of animal sacrifices, is contrary to the teachings of Christ. I am convinced, if Christians viewed the bigger picture the result would be a mass exodus from the ranks of Dispensationalism.

There are many books and articles readily available as to why Ezekiel’s temple should be understood either literally or figuratively. I will simply explain my understanding of Ezekiel’s vision, based on the precept taught in Psalm 127:1.

Ezekiel the Prophet

Ezekiel was one of the most remarkable prophets of the Old Testament, he was a priest… Ezekiel 1:3 and ‘a watchman unto the house of Israel’… Ezekiel 3:17 He was captive in Babylon from 597 BC. The duration of the captivity was the 70 years between 606-536 BC. His contemporaries were Daniel and Jeremiah.

Many of his visions and prophecies were accompanied by demonstrative, symbolic actions to accentuate his message. For example, he remained dumb for periods of time… Ezekiel 3:26 lay on his side for a year…Ezekiel 4:4 ate unclean and disgusting food… Ezekiel 4:14-15 shaved his head and beard… Ezekiel 5:1

Ezekiel’s Temple and Ordinances

Eze 43:9-11 KJV Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. 10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. 11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

In my opinion, Ezekiel’s vision was to shame Old Covenant Israel by reminding them of the presence of the Lord they had previously enjoyed, but lost through idolatry. Restoration was possible by returning to the Lord, the vision portrayed the blessings that awaited a repentant Old Covenant Israel after the Babylonian captivity.

The Restoration of Animal Sacrificies

Eze 44:11 KJV Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.

Heb 10:11-12 KJV And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Hebrews 10:12 ‘for ever sat down on the right hand of God; as having done his work effectually, and that with acceptance; and therefore is placed as a token of honour at the right hand of God, where he sits enjoying rest, ease, and pleasure, and that for ever; all which is opposed to the priests rifice being effectual to take away sin, when theirs was not.’

On Animal Sacrifices

Dr Spargimino, SRM, wrote ‘These animal sacrifices are ritual—another kind of ritual—but ritual nevertheless. And there is still a place and function for ritual. In the Millennial Kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ will rule with a rod of iron. The New Covenant theocracy promised by God will retain its distinctive Jewish features. After all, the Millennial Kingdom is about Israel. There is a promised land in which Israel dwells in peace and security. The Millennial Age is not the Church Age. We shouldn’t seek to understand its features in terms of the Church Age. During the Millennium, the Church Age is no more. Even though outward submission to these outward ceremonies and rituals will not be proof of a new heart, such ceremonies will exhibit a spirit of submission to the government of the Millennial King, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Southwest Radio Ministry

I am astonished by this statement and embarrassed to admit I once encouraged Dispensationalism. For Christians to consent to such a teaching is beyond the pale. Alarm bells should be ringing in ears of every Christian who accedes to Dispensationalism’s doctrine. Consider this scenario, the Lord Jesus Christ (God the Son) the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, physically sitting in Jerusalem while thousands of animal sacrifices are offered by a Levitical priesthood, in a temple made with hands.

Restoration of the Levitical Priesthood

Eze 43:19 KJV And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.

Heb 7:15-17 KJV And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

According to Dispensationalism, at Christ’s return our great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, will step aside while the restored Levitical priesthood offer animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple.

Restoration of Circumcision

Eze 44:9 KJV Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Christ made all things new. However, it is proposed by Dispensationalism that circumcision is reinstated during a future millennium period. Judaisers, Paul’s great adversary, constantly undermined his teaching insisting circumcision should be incorporated into Christianity. Should born again believers endorse this doctrine? Certainly, not.

Except the LORD Build the House

Psa 127:1 KJV A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset, Brown

Psa 127:1-5 ‘The theme of this Psalm, that human enterprises only succeed by the divine blessing, was probably associated with the building of the temple by Solomon, its author. It may have been adopted in this view, as suited to this series especially, as appropriately expressing the sentiments of God’s worshippers in relation to the erection of the second temple.’

Moses was Chosen and Commanded

Exo 36:1 KJV Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

Moses, chosen of God… Psalm 106:23 received a detailed pattern and commandment to build the tabernacle. The Lord also imparted wisdom and understanding to the skilled workers assigned to the task… Exodus 25:9

Solomon was Chosen and Commanded

1Ch 28:6 KJV And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

Solomon built the temple because God chose and commanded him.

1Ch 28:10-12 KJV Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it. 11 Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, 12 And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:

Similar to Moses, the same criterion applied to David for the building of the temple with its treasures; in due course, he gave his son Solomon the pattern he had received from the Lord.

The Holy Spirit’s Involvement

It is reasonable to assume that the Holy Spirit would have inspired and guided Zerubbabel in the building of Ezekiel’s Temple, had it been God’s will.

Zerubbabel was Chosen and Commanded

Hag 2:23 KJV In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

God chose and commanded Zerrubabel to rebuild the temple.

Zerubbabel was to rebuild at the end of the Babylonian captivity. So why did he not build the temple Ezekiel saw in his vision, after all, he had the opportunity and the vacant site. The Lord neither commanded nor equipped him to build it.

It was in accordance with God’s plan and purpose that the second temple be of lesser stature in comparison to Solomon’s, to bring Israel to a place of humility and repentance.

Zec 4:6 KJV Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

The Holy Spirit was actively involved in the construction of each sanctuary.

Irrespective of his divine calling, Zerubbabel had many obstacles to overcome. However, the Word of the Lord to him was, ’Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts’.

Zec 4:9-10 KJV The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 4:10 ‘Who hath despised the day of small things? – The poverty, weakness, and unbefriended state of the Jews. It was said, “What do these feeble Jews?” “Will they build,” etc.? No. But God will build by them, and perfect his building too. And shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel – He is master builder under God, the grand architect. Those seven – are the eyes of the Lord – Either referring to his particular and especial providence; or to those ministering spirits, whom he has employed in behalf of the Jews, to dispense the blessings of that providence. See 2Ch_16:9 (note); Pro_15:3 (note); Zec_3:9 (note).’

Although it was smaller and less impressive, the Lord was pleased with the result.

Hag 2:3 KJV Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

A Quote from Josephus Antiquities of the Jews

Now the priests and Levites, and the elder part of the families, recollecting with themselves how much greater and more sumptuous the old temple had been, seeing that now made how much inferior it was, on account of their poverty, to that which had been built of old considered with themselves how much their happy state was sunk below what it had been of old, as well as their temple. Hereupon they were disconsolate, and not able to contain their grief, and proceeded so far as to lament and shed tears on those accounts; but the people in general were contented with their present condition; and because they were allowed to build them a temple, they desired no more, and neither regarded nor remembered, nor indeed at all tormented themselves with the comparison of that and the former temple, as if this were below their expectations; but the wailing of the old men and of the priests, on account of the deficiency of the temple, in their opinion, if compared with that which had been demolished, overcome the sounds of the trumpets and the rejoicing of the people.’

There were those who lamented over its inferiority because they remembered Solomon’s magnificent temple, which was their pride and joy. After all, what would the neighbours think of them now!

Although the second temple lacked the furnishings and splendour of the original, the Lord Jesus Christ graced it with His presence during His ministry.

Herod was not Chosen or Commanded!

Psa 127:1 KJV A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Joh 2:20 KJV Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

The Lord did not choose or command Herod; his labour was therefore in vain. This is a lesson for those who tamper with the things of God.

Herod’s motive was to win favour with the religious leaders, and strengthen his control over Judaea. However, the completion of his reconstructed temple was in AD 63, but it remained for only seven years!

Why Did Jesus Never Mention Ezekiel’s Temple?

During my research, I failed to find any direct quotes from the Book of Ezekiel in the Gospels.

Jesus came to the Jews preaching the Kingdom of God and taught constantly about the many aspects of the Kingdom, often quoting from numerous Old Testament books. If the building of Ezekiel’s temple was a major contributing factor in the overall plan and purpose of God, surely it is reasonable to expect Jesus to have quoted from Ezekiel.

Jesus and the Temple

Joh 4:21-23 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Whether Jew, Samaritan or Gentile, an imminent transformation was about to take place that would have a profound effect on all the nations. The temple in Jerusalem would no longer be the focal point of worship.

Notice how imminent this change was, Jesus said ‘the hour cometh’, followed by ‘the hour cometh, and now is’. The fulfilment of His prediction took place during the lifetime of His generation, initially on the Day of Pentecost and absolutely at the inauguration of the New Covenant in AD 70. Old Covenant Israel ceased when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed and the nation dispersed.

Joh 2:21-22 KJV But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

John 2:21 ‘temple of his body — in which was enshrined the glory of the eternal Word. (See on Joh_1:14). By its resurrection the true Temple of God upon earth was reared up, of which the stone one was but a shadow; so that the allusion is not quite exclusively to Himself, but takes in that Temple of which He is the foundation, and all believers are the “lively stones.” (1Pe_2:4, 1Pe_2:5).’ — Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Mat 5:18 KJV For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus fulfilled all the promises of the Law and the Prophets to Old Covenant Israel prior to it vanishing away… Hebrews 8:13 There is not ‘one jot or one tittle’ remaining to be fulfilled, including Ezekiel’s vision.

Conclusion

The Lord neither chose nor commanded anyone to construct Ezekiel’s temple.

It is not sound doctrinally for Dispensationalism to teach that because Ezekiel’s temple has never been built, it must therefore be built in a future millennium. The same criterion applies as it did to the tabernacle of Moses, the temple of Solomon, and the temple of Zerubbabel; ‘Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it’.

Heb 9:11 KJV But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

The Temple of the New Covenant Age is spiritual, not made with hands, in which worship in the Holy Spirit is an integral part.

Dispensationalism’s concept of temple worship during a millennium clearly contradicts and undermines the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you think?

 

Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Temple

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The Revelation of St John, 13. The Adoration of the Lamb and the Hymn of the Chosen, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528)
Source: Albrecht Durer the Complete Works

Introduction

I believe many have departed from their New Covenant vocation in Christ, having been vigorously beset and influenced by proponents of dubious ‘end times’ fiction. Today, our understanding of the ‘end times’ is invariably based on empirical evidence and current world affairs.

Rev 21:22 KJV And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

There is also an ill-founded fascination amongst many believers concerning the building of a temple in Jerusalem, whether a ‘tribulation period temple’ or ‘Ezekiel’s millennium temple’. An underlying misconception is ‘the sooner a temple is in Jerusalem, the sooner Christ will return’. By comparison, the importance of the New Covenant temple is virtually inconsequential. Surely, zeal for the spiritual temple would be more profitable than ‘end times’ speculation.

I will attempt to explain why I believe Ezekiel’s temple will never be built.

John 4:21

Joh 4:21 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb Are the Temple!

The New Covenant temple is ‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb’ and believers ‘in Christ’ offer the sacrifice of praise and worship through their induction into the Royal Priesthood… 1 Peter 2:9

I Make All Things New

Rev 21:5 KJV And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Dispensationalism’s promulgation of a literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s ‘millennium’ temple is bewildering, incidentally, it includes the re-introduction of animal sacrifices, circumcision, the restoration of the Levitical priesthood, and the separation of Jew and Gentile.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, He never mentioned a 1000 years reign on earth or Ezekiel’s temple. Why would members of the Royal Priesthood contemplate the proliferation of an ideology that supports the restoration of Old Covenant ordinances? It beggars belief that Christians would undermine all that Jesus made ‘new’ by advocating a thousand years of what was forever removed.

Christ has fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. He has made all things new.

The New Covenant

Jer 31:31-33 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah prophesied the establishment of the New Covenant, which would include a spiritual experience accessible to all who put their trust in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

Eze 37:26 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel prophesied that the New Covenant would be an everlasting covenant of peace, and according to Isaiah, the Prince of Peace is the Lord Jesus Christ… Isaiah 9:6

Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel!

The Tabernacle of God is With Men

Eze 37:27 KJV My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘By tabernacle – Jesus Christ, the true tabernacle, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’

Paul

2Co 6:16 KJV And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

‘the temple of the living God’ Paul taught the fulfilment of Ezekiel 37:27 when he wrote to the Church at Corinth.

Peter

1Pe 2:5 KJV Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

While Peter wrote that those ‘in Christ’ are an integral part of a spiritual house, they are not only ‘lively stones’ but also ‘an holy priesthood’ in the spiritual temple of the New Covenant Age.

John

Rev 21:3 KJV And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

John also alluded to Ezekiel 37:27 in the Revelation, and thereby confirmed the temple of the New Covenant was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

The Temple of His Body

Joh 2:20-21 KJV Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

John 2:21 ‘But he spoke of the temple of his body. Which was the anti-type of the material temple; and might well be called so, since the bodies of the saints are called temples, 1Co_3:16 2Co_6:16; and the human nature of Christ is called a tabernacle, Heb_8:2; and he himself, in prophecy, is said to be למקדש, “for a sanctuary”, or temple, Isa_8:14, and that because the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, the train of the divine perfections filled the temple of his human nature, Col_2:9. And because here, as in the temple, God grants his presence, and communes with his saints, accepts of their prayers and praises, and all their spiritual sacrifices through him; and who is the oracle, the true “Urim” and “Thummim”, by whom he delivers his whole mind and will to his people.’

Heb 8:1-2 KJV Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

The tabernacle in the wilderness with the pillar of cloud was evidence of God dwelling amongst His Old Covenant people. This glorious manifestation was but a type and foreshadow of the greater glory to come, the Lord Jesus Christ and His New Covenant people being the antitype.

The Hour Cometh, and Now Is

Joh 4:20-24 KJV Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

During His conversation with the woman of Samaria, Jesus revealed the time had come when God’s people would worship neither on Mount Gerizim nor in the temple at Jerusalem, but ‘in spirit and in truth’.

Surely, this nullifies Dispensationalism’s concept of a millennium temple.

‘the hour cometh, and now is’ This was a statement of imminence, not a prophetic word for those living thousands of years in the future.

John 4:21 ‘The hour cometh, etc. – The time was now at hand in which the spiritual worship of God was about to be established in the earth, and all the Jewish rites and ceremonies entirely abolished.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Adam Clarke’s comment is correct, but why did he not apply the same criterion to the Scriptures that declare an imminent return of Christ?

Statements of Imminence in Revelation 22

1. Revelation 22:6 ‘…must shortly be done…’
2. Revelation 22:7 ‘…Behold, I come quickly…’
3. Revelation 22:10 ‘…for the time is at hand…’
4. Revelation 22:12 ‘…And, behold, I come quickly…’
5. Revelation 22:20 ‘…Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus…’

Rev 22:6 KJV And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

‘the things which must shortly be done’ The timeline when worship in the temple would end was AD 70. The destruction of the temple symbolised the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of the New.

Despite the five statements of imminence in Revelation 22, Dispensationalism, the theory renown for taking the Scriptures literally, repudiates these.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 22:6 ‘These sayings are faithful and true – See the preceding chapter, Rev_21:5. From this verse to the end of the chapter is reckoned the epilogue of this book.

1. The angel affirms the truth of all that had been spoken, Rev_22:6-11.

2. Jesus Christ confirms what has been affirmed, and pledges himself for the fulfillment of all the prophecies contained in it, Rev_22:12-17.

3. John cautions his readers against adding or diminishing, and concludes with the apostolical blessing, Rev_22:18-21.

The things which must shortly be done – There are many sayings in this book which, if taken literally, would intimate that the prophecies delivered in the whole of the Apocalypse were to be fulfilled in a short time after their delivery to John; and this is a strong support for the scheme of Wetstein, and those who maintain that the prophecies of this book all referred to those times in which the apostle lived, and to the disturbances which then took place, not only among the Jews, but in the Roman empire. What they all mean, and when and how they are to be fulfilled, God in heaven alone knows.’

‘God in heaven alone knows’ Adam Clarke made an honest assessment of Revelation 22:6, but with a surprising ambivalence. His reticence to affirm the clearly defined imminent time statements of Jesus repeated on five occasions in chapter 22, is a further example of approaching Scripture from a futurist presupposition. It is interesting to note he had no hesitation in implementing the imminence factor in his comment on John 4:21 in the previous segment.

Conclusion

Our understanding of Eschatology is vitally important because it influences our whole outlook and approach to the things appertaining to the Kingdom of God.

‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it’ On the premise that Jesus has made all things new, why do many believers yield to Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory which entangles them in a system that postulates a return to the ‘old’ that has passed away?

What do you think?

Jesus Never Mentioned a Millennium Reign

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Saint John on Patmos, Van Limburg Brothers (1375-1416)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Act 1:3 KJV To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Jesus spoke ‘of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God’ during the forty days prior to His ascension. Yet, during His ministry, there is no record of Him ever mentioning a ‘thousand years reign on earth’. Surely, it is reasonable to assume Jesus would have mentioned it, if such an important doctrine existed in the plan and purpose of God.

Act 1:6 KJV When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Not only did Jesus never mention a thousand years reign on earth, He refrained from discussing the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.

Mat 21:43 KJV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Undeterred by Christ’s warning to the chief priests and the elders that ‘The kingdom of God shall be taken from you’, the disciples still felt the need to ask ‘wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel’. However, after the Day of Pentecost and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the question never arose again.

Peter Preached by the Power of the Holy Spirit that God had Fulfilled His Promise to Israel Acts 2:29-36

Acts 2:29-36 KJV Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne’ God promised David that from the fruit of his loins He would raise up the Messiah to sit on his throne over Israel.

received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost’ The outpouring of the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was evidence of the exalted Christ.

Heb 12:2 KJV Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote in the present tense Jesus ‘is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’. The King was already reigning from His heavenly throne before the epistle was written.

Rev 1:18-19 KJV I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

John said at the commencement of the Revelation that Jesus possessed the keys of Hades and Death. Jesus, having already been raised to the throne, was about to make manifest the Kingdom of God with power, the theme of the Revelation.

Jesus was not Waiting for a Future Millennium Kingdom

Luk 19:11-15 KJV He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

It is interesting to note, in this parable the nobleman ‘went into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return’, Jesus also received His Kingdom after His ascension, prior to His return… Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Matthew 26:64; Revelation 1:7

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Luke 19:12 ‘A certain nobleman – A prince; a man descended from kings, and having a title, therefore, to succeed in the kingdom. Went into a far country … – This expression is derived from the state of things in Judea in the time of the Saviour. Judea was subject to the Romans, having been conquered by Pompey about sixty years before Christ. It was, however, governed by “Jews,” who held the government “under” the Romans. It was necessary that the prince or king should receive a recognition of his right to the kingdom by the Roman emperor and, in order to this, that he should go to Rome; or, as it is said here, that he might receive to himself a kingdom. This actually occurred several times. Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, about the time of the birth of Jesus, went to Rome to obtain a confirmation of the title which his father had left him, and succeeded in doing it. Herod the Great, his father, had done the same thing before to secure the aid and countenance of Antony. Agrippa the younger, grandson of Herod the Great, went to Rome also to obtain the favor of Tiberius, and to be confirmed in his government. Such instances, having frequently occurred, would make this parable perfectly intelligible to those to whom it was addressed. By the nobleman, here, is undoubtedly represented the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ; by his going into a far country is denoted his going to heaven, to the right hand of his Father, “before” he should “fully” set up his kingdom and establish his reign among men.’

Did Jeremiah the Prophet get it Wrong? Of Course He Didn’t

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

The Kingdom of Judah had lapsed into apostasy again, God finally removed the ‘Kings’ by sending Coniah, also called ‘Jeconiah’, into captivity in Babylon. God decreed ‘no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’.

Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah… Matthew 1:11-16 and the rightful heir to David’s throne, but He will not physically reign in Judah.

Jesus Reigns on David’s Throne in the Heavenly Realm!

Nevertheless, Dispensationalism persists in teaching contrary to Scripture.

Why Did Paul Never Mention a Thousand Years Reign on Earth?

2Co 12:4 KJV How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Even after his ‘paradise’ experience, Paul still never mentioned such a doctrine.

Act 20:27 KJV For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Paul was convinced he had preached all the ‘council of God’, yet he never mentioned a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth.

John Never Mentioned a Thousand Years Reign of Christ!

Rev 20:4 KJV And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Neither the Old nor the New Testament mention a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth.

The ‘thousand years reign’ is not mentioned in Revelation 20:4, as many imagine. On the contrary, the Scriptures proclaim Christ’s reign is everlasting.

Revelation 20 is not about how long Jesus will reign, but about a specific period when the martyrs would reign with Him from His heavenly throne.

On closer examination we find ‘they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years’. John described the souls of the martyrs who paid the ultimate price for their loyalty to Christ. Many suffered during the great tribulation, having refused to deny the Lord and worship the beast.

Can this dubious interpretation of a ‘millennium’ be a major doctrine of the Faith? This teaching contains hidden ramifications rarely taught to unsuspecting believers in Christ.

Chilioi’ and ‘Chilias’ What Difference Does it Make?

John wrote the Greek word ‘chilioi’ in Revelation 20:4 ‘and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand (chilioi) years’, he did not write ‘and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand (chilias) years’. So what is the difference?

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary

‘G5507 ÷ßëéïé chilioi khil’-ee-oy Plural of uncertain affinity; a thousand: – thousand.’
‘G5505 ÷éëéÜò chilias khil-ee-as’ From G5507; one thousand (“chiliad”): – thousand.’
Chilioi’ is unique in its plurality, its etymology is not from any known numeric value, and it is unique in its usage of the word ‘thousand’.

In Revelation 20, ‘thousand’ was always ‘chilioi’, not the numerical 1000 ‘chilias’. John had good cause for using ‘chilioi’ in preference to ‘chilias’, because the Holy Spirit inspired him.

‘chilioi’ is an adjective whereas ‘chilias’ is a noun. As an adjective ‘chilioi’ is descriptive and therefore more suitable for figurative speech and described an undefined period.

Apocalyptic Figure of Speech

The term ‘a thousand (chilioi) years’ is an apocalyptic figure of speech with reference to the reign of Christ over Old Covenant Israel, and was the period between the ascension and glorification of Christ in AD 30 until His return in AD 70… Acts 2:29-36 Saul, David, and Solomon each reigned 40 years. Likewise, Christ reigned 40 years and was the final King of Old Covenant Israel.

A Quote from the Christian Courier Publications

Regarding the “thousand years” of Revelation 20, it should be observed that the opening of the book itself provides caution that this is a document characterized by symbols (see “signified” – 1:1). In addition, the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 is nestled in the midst of a number of other dramatic figures —a pit, a great chain, the dragon/serpent, thrones, a beast, a mysterious “mark,” resurrections, etc. Why should the pit, chain, dragon, etc., be viewed as figures, and yet the “thousand years” be singled out as literal? That defies common sense.’

The Reign of Christ has no End!

Heb 11:13-16 KJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

The Patriarchs

‘strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ Abraham continued to dwell in tents and never built a permanent home in the land. They desired ‘a better country, that is, a heavenly’. A millennium kingdom on earth was never in their thoughts.

Isa 9:7 KJV Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

2Sa 7:13 KJV He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

2 Samuel 7:13 ‘…The throne of his kingdom for ever – This is a reference to the government of the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of the Messiah, agreeably to the predictions of the prophet long after, and by which this passage is illustrated: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even For Ever.” Isa_9:7.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Conclusion

It is astonishing that the millennium doctrine is so highly regarded, considering it originates from one portion of Scripture.

The fulfilment of the Revelation was in AD 70. Therefore, the ‘thousand years’ was figurative speech and applied to Christ’s reign over Old Covenant Israel with a ‘rod of iron’.

Christ returned in judgement in AD 70, fulfilled the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel and fully established the Kingdom of God.

There is no scriptural evidence for a thousand years reign of Christ on Earth, as described by Dispensationalism.

What do you think?

ps Do you think it strange that Paul never mentioned a thousand years reign on earth?

 

Jesus Never Mentioned Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

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The Pilgrims of Emmaus on the Road, James Tissot (1836-1902) Source: Brooklyn Museum

Introduction

After considerable research and deliberation, my conclusion is there is no scriptural support for the ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’, as promulgated by Dispensationalism.

This misconception demands a second (or more) fulfilment of certain prophecy concerning the ‘end times’ and Christ’s return.

A major obstacle arises while attempting to catapult into the 21st century, so-called ‘unfulfilled’ Messianic prophecy contained in the Old and New Testaments. The ‘Law of Double Fulfillment of Prophecy’ was created to overcome this difficulty.

I will attempt to prove why I believe Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets during the lifetime of His generation, and why double fulfilment of prophecy is a misrepresentation of Scripture.

Has Interpretation of Scripture Really Become a Science?

A Quote from David L Cooper’s ‘The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures’

The Statement of the Law

‘The law of double reference is based upon one of the fundamental laws of psychology: the principle of the association of similar or related ideas. Similarities always suggest comparisons. Thus the prophets constantly depicted that which was as a rule in the immediate future or present. Since history repeats itself, as all admit, the prophets looked out into the future and saw similar situations arising like those which were confronting them or immediately in the future. Thus the transition from describing that which was immediately before them to that which was in the remote future was very easy, normal, and natural.’

‘The law of double reference is based upon one of the fundamental laws of psychology’ Is it necessary to study psychology to interpret the Scriptures, or to determine which prophecies have double fulfilment?

‘Since history repeats itself, as all admit’ David L Cooper assumed that all agree history repeats itself, but is that an accurate statement. It’s true there have been similar events in the past, but not to the extent suggested by the author. For example, God in His infinite wisdom permitted empires to rise, and He caused empires to fall. Nevertheless, these empires were never identical in rise and fall; therefore, history does not repeat itself.

History does not repeat itself, but history reveals that ‘man’ repeats mistakes.

Jesus is our Prophet

Deu 18:18 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.

Joh 12:49-50 KJV For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

‘and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him’ Jesus is the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 18:18, and the perfect example of the ministry of prophet. He spoke the mind of God and His prophecies are unequivocal. It is a serious matter to tamper with the words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is not the author of confusion!

‘The consequences of admitting such a principle should be well weighed. What book on earth has a double sense, unless it is a book of designed enigmas, And even this has but one real meaning. By what laws of interpretation is it to be judged? By none that belong to human language; for other books than the Bible have not a double sense -attached to them.’ — Canon Ryle on Double Fulfilment

The Complexity of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

The following is a list of phrases I discovered during my research, to name but a few:

The Law of Double Fulfilment
The Phenomenon of Double Fulfilment
The Principle of Double Fulfilment
Telescopic Prophecy
Bifocal Prophecy
Generic Prophecy
Gap Prophecy
Unforeseen Partial Prophecy
Dispensationalism’s Existence Depends on Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

Prophecies with a past ‘spiritual’ fulfilment don’t comply with Dispensationalism’s literal ‘end times’ theory, for example, Malachi 4:5. Hence, a future, literal fulfilment is mandatory. In my opinion, it was for this reason the ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’ was introduced.

Mal 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

(My article ‘Elijah the Prophet will not Return’ explains my understanding of Malachi 4.)

Leading futurist scholars created their own ‘law’ in an attempt to add a sense of authenticity to their ‘end times’ view. What authority endorsed this law? None, Dispensationalism is simply a law unto itself!

‘Far be it from us to make God speak with two tongues, or to attach a variety of senses to His Word, in which we ought rather to behold the simplicity of its divine author reflected as in a clear mirror (Ps. xii. 6 ; xix. 8.) Only one meaning of Scripture, therefore, is admissible: that is, the grammatical, in whatever terms, whether proper or tropical and figurative, it may be expressed.’ — Samuel Des Marets, in Latin Maresius (1599-1673) French Protestant Theologian

Why Did Jesus Never Mention Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

Personally, I believe there was no need! Jesus fulfilled all prophecy during the lifetime of His generation.

Christ Came to Fulfil the Law and the Prophets

Mat 5:17 KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’ If Jesus came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets, did He fail to accomplish what He set out to do. Of course He didn’t fail!

Yet many today believe Jesus only fulfilled prophecy concerning His first coming and all appertaining to His return is still unfulfilled, even although 2000 years have passed. However, Jesus did not predict or teach a parenthesis of 2000 years; therefore, double fulfilment was never an issue.

Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away

Luk 21:32-33 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Psa 104:5 KJV Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

The Lord declared on more than one occasion the earth shall not be removed… Psalm 93:1; Ecclesiastes 1:4

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away’ Did Jesus therefore contradict the Scriptures? If He referred to this physical heaven and earth, then yes He did.

So what did Jesus mean? He referred to the passing of the Old Covenant, with the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the Diaspora in AD 70.

The ‘heaven and earth’ that passed away during Christ’s generation was the Jewish polity, Old Covenant Israel. All the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel necessitated fulfilment before the Old Covenant Age ended.

Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

till all be fulfilled’ Logically speaking, if Jesus was referring to physical ‘heaven and earth’, which has not passed away, then the Old Covenant Law and the Offerings should still be in effect today. Obviously, this is not the case, the offerings ceased with the destruction of the temple and Christ ended the Old Covenant Age at His returned in judgement.

Mat 24:34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The fulfilment timeline was before Christ’s generation passed away.

A Quote from James Stuart Russell’s ‘The Parousia’

‘Are we to look for double, triple, and multiple meanings, for prophecies within prophecies, and mysteries wrapt in mysteries, where we might reasonably have expected a plain answer to a plain question? Can any one be sure of understanding the Scriptures if they are thus enigmatical and obscure? Is this the manner in which the Saviour taught His disciples, leaving them to grope their way through intricate labyrinths, irresistibly suggestive of the Ptolemaic astronomy – ‘Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb’? Surely so ambiguous and obscure a revelation can hardly be called a revelation at all, and seems far more befitting a Delphic Oracle, or a Cumaean Sibyl than the teaching of Him whom. the common people heard gladly.’
Do you believe in double fulfilment of prophecy?

The Road to Emmaus

The two despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus were traumatised and confused, even although there had been reports of Christ’s resurrection. The crucifixion had dashed their hopes.

When Jesus joined them, did He only expound the Scriptures concerning His first advent, or did He include all the Scriptures concerning Him? He expounded all the Scriptures!

Luk 24:27 KJV And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

‘Moses and all the prophets’ Luke included ‘all’ the prophets!

‘in all the scriptures the things concerning himself’ Jesus taught from ‘all’ the Scriptures!

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

‘the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me’ Once again, Luke unambiguously emphasised the importance of the fulfilment of all Scripture concerning Christ.

It is cause for concern to espouse the double fulfilment theory, since it contradicts the clear and concise words of the Lord.

Luk 24:21KJV But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

The disciples had two major issues on their minds, the redemption of Israel and the crucifixion. Consequently, I believe Jesus also taught the events leading to His imminent return and the great plan of redemption.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Luke 24:21 ‘that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; they thought, hoped, and believed, that he was the Messiah, spoken of under the character of the Redeemer of Israel; and they had been in expectation of redemption by him, though only of a temporal kind, from the Roman yoke and bondage; but now they could not tell what to think of it, since he was dead; indeed they were not altogether without hope, since there was a report of his being raised from the dead; but what credit was to be given to that, they could not say: but certain it is, that he was the true Messiah, and promised Redeemer; and who was to redeem, and has redeemed the whole Israel of God; even all the elect of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles, from the servitude and damning power of sin, from the slavery of Satan, and the bondage of the law, and from every enemy; and that by his precious blood, his sufferings and death, the very things which were the occasion of these disciples’ doubts about him, as the Redeemer:…’

Luk 24:32 KJV And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Jesus came alongside them, just as He does in times of trouble today, and before He left them their hearts did burn within. Now that’s my type of heartburn!

Would their hearts have continued to burn if Jesus had taught the psychology of interpreting Scripture, or the Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

I dread to think what their reaction might have been if Jesus ended his discourse by adding “By the way lads, when I said things like ‘at hand’, ‘this generation’, and ‘the hour cometh, and now is’, I meant in a couple of thousand years”. The shock would certainly have cured their heartburn!

‘Dr. Owen’s remark is full of good sense-” If the Scripture has more than one meaning, it has no meaning at all: “and it is just as applicable to the prophecies as to any other portion of Scripture.’ (Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah, p. 5, note.)  — John Brown, Double Fulfilment

Why Did Paul Never Mentioned Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

Paul elaborated on the theme of Old Covenant ‘types and shadows’ not double fulfilment of prophecy. He taught that Christ was the ultimate fulfilment of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets. The New Testament confirms Christ is the anti­type, the reality, and the absolute fulfilment of prophecy.

Conclusion

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma

The Scriptures consist of the Old and New Testaments, the inspired Word of God.

The New Testament is the key to understanding the fulfilment of Old Testament Law and the Prophets, and the types and shadows.

What other authority or testament can we now rely on as the key to understanding the fulfilment of so-called unfulfilled prophecy? There is none!

It’s for that reason I believe Dispensationalism has brought embarrassment and loss of credibility to Christendom. The infatuation with empirical evidence has become the norm and is a poor substitute for scriptural authority.

Newspaper headlines, world events, ’end times’ fiction, date setting, and personal interpretation of prophecy by TV preachers, nurture the insatiable appetite for sensationalism.

A Quote from James Stuart Russell’s ‘The Parousia’

‘There is not a scintilla of evidence that the apostles and primitive Christians had any suspicion of a twofold reference in the predictions of Jesus concerning the end.’

Jesus fulfilled all prophecy concerning Him; therefore, Dispensationalism’s ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’ is superfluous.

What do you think?

 

Daniel’s ’70 Weeks’ Prophecy was Fulfilled by AD 70

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The Prophet Daniel, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

A series on eschatology would be incomplete without Daniel’s ’70 Weeks’ Prophecy.

I will endeavour to explain why Daniel’s prophecy is the most fascinating and controversial in the Old Testament, and why I believe its fulfilment was AD 70.

Psalm 137:1-4

Psa 137:1-4 KJV By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?

Till there was no Remedy

2Ch 36:14-16 KJV Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

The Reasons for the 70 Years of Babylonian Captivity

The kingdom of Judah had forsaken the Lord; their transgressions had degenerated to such an extent ‘till there was no remedy’. Not only had they maltreated the prophets, they neglected their stewardship of the land.

Lev 25:4 KJV But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

To continue in the blessing of the Lord the Children of Israel had to obey the Old Covenant Law, which included allowing the land to rest for a year every seventh year.

2Ch 36:21 KJV To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

On at least 70 occasions, Old Covenant Israel worked the land on the Sabbath year with total disregard for the Law. The 70 years of Babylonian captivity was the result of their disobedience.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

2 Chronicles 36:21 ‘Sabbaths – …Many a time had they ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have rested: and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years. Yet even this might encourage them to hope, that they should in due time return to it again. Had others come and taken possession of it, they might have despaired of ever recovering it. But while it lay desolate, it, as it were, waited for them, and refused to acknowledge any other owners.’

2 Chronicles 36:21 ‘Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths – Between the time of Moses and the commencement of the captivity, there had been (about) 70 occasions on which the Law of the sabbatical year had been violated…Leviticus 25:4-7.’  — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

The Return from the Babylonian Captivity

Isa 44:28 KJV That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and proclaimed that a man by the name of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to their land.

This prophecy was approximately 150 years before Cyrus ascended to the throne.

Jer 25:11-12 KJV And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Jer 29:10 KJV For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Jeremiah lived approximately 100 years after Isaiah and prophesied from 626 BC, he predicted the captivity would last for 70 years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place during 606-586 BC and the first decree to return was in 536 BC.

Daniel’s ’70 Weeks Prophecy’

Dan 9:22 KJV And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

Daniel sought the Lord on behalf of his people and the angel Gabriel explained what the future held for them.

Dan 9:24 KJV Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

The 70 weeks was literally 70 sevens, generally understood to mean 490 years. The captivity had been 70 years, the period between the return from captivity and the time of the Messiah would be 70 times seven… Leviticus 26:18

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Daniel 9:24 ‘Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices…….Seventy weeks are determined -The Jews had Sabbatic years, Lev 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years…’

The Commission of the Messiah… Daniel 9:24

Jesus the Saviour Dealt With Sin

‘to finish the transgression’ The seventy years exile was punishment, but not full atonement for the sin of the people. Only the Messiah could pay that debt.

‘to make an end of sins’  Perhaps a reference to sin-offerings, Jesus accomplished this when He offered Himself on the cross.

‘to make reconciliation for iniquity’ Through His suffering and death the Law of God was fully satisfied and the sinner reconciled.

‘to bring in everlasting righteousness’ Christ brought everlasting righteousness whereby the saints of all the ages would be justified by faith.

Jesus the King is on His Throne

‘to seal up the vision and prophecy’ Christ fulfilled all prophecy.

‘to anoint the most Holy’ Christ was consecrated Prophet, Priest, and King.

The Messiah accomplished all required of Him by AD 70.

The Prince

Dan 10:14 KJV Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

Dan 9:25-27 KJV Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

‘Messiah the Prince’ In the KJV, it is interesting to note that the word ‘Prince’ in Daniel 9:25, which is emphasised by a capital ‘P’, is the same Hebrew word ‘nagid’ used in Daniel 9:26, but with a lowercase ‘p’.

Dispensationalism takes this opportunity to propose that the ‘inferior’ prince is the future ‘antichrist’. However, the KJV 1611 has a capital ‘P’ on both occasions, and in Young’s Literal Translation ‘Prince’ is translated ‘Leader’ with a capital ‘L’ on both occasions.

In my opinion, ‘the Prince’ in both verses referred to the Messiah, there was no justification for the substitution of a lower case ‘p’ in Daniel 9:26.

Numerous commentators agree the timeline was AD 70, although some believe ‘the prince’ was Titus.

A Quote from gotquestions.org

Daniel 9:26 ‘The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.’ This speaks of the Roman Empire destroying Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. It should be noted that the prince was yet to come; only the people of the prince were the ones who destroyed Jerusalem. This also tells us that the antichrist/beast will come from a future revived Roman Empire.’

There was a time when I would have accepted this answer. However, I never cease to be amazed at my naivety. ‘Got Questions’ dissected this verse and inserted a 2000 years gap without explanation or scriptural support.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown provides a balanced view of the text:

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Daniel 9:26 ‘the people of the prince — the Romans, led by Titus, the representative of the world power, ultimately to be transferred to Messiah, and so called by Messiah’s title, “the Prince”; as also because sent by Him, as His instrument of judgment (Matt 22:7).’

‘The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary’ The Messiah the Prince used the Roman Army commanded by Titus to carry out His judgement upon Jerusalem at His parousia. On certain occasions, the Lord used Gentile nations to fulfil His ‘Day of the Lord’ prophecies, for example:

Isa 13:10 KJV For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Isaiah prophesied God’s judgement on Babylon and described it metaphorically… Isaiah 13:10-16

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

He then explained how God would perform it ‘I will stir up the Medes against them’… Isaiah 13:17

The Fulfilment of Daniel’s ’70 Weeks Prophecy’

There were three decrees issued by the Persian kings, 536 BC, 457 BC, and 444 BC. Many scholars contend that the principle one was 457 BC.

The first 49 years (seven weeks) added to 457 BC equates to 408 BC when the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt.

The next 434 years (62 Weeks) added to 408 BC, brings the timeline to AD 26 when Jesus began His public ministry.

The final 7 years (one Week) added to AD 26, corresponds to AD 33.

Some scholars teach that the prophecy ended in AD 33 when the Gospel was extended to the Gentiles, and that does have merit.

In my opinion, Christ’s ministry ended at the cross half way through, and the final three and a half years of the 70th week was the duration of the Jewish/Roman war from AD 66 to AD 70. My premise is that Daniel’s prophecy included the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Christ reigned from heaven over Old Covenant Israel during the intervening 40 years, the transition period from the Old Covenant to the New. Subsequently, the elect was gathered and delivered from judgement prior to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.

It is interesting that Old Covenant Israel began with 40 years in the wilderness, while that unbelieving generation passed away, and ended with Christ reigning with a rod of iron for 40 years, until His unbelieving generation passed away.

Act 2:33-37 KJV Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Acts 2:36 ‘Both Lord and Christ – Not only the Messiah, but the supreme Governor of all things and all persons, Jews and Gentiles, angels and men. In the preceding discourse, Peter assumes a fact which none would attempt to deny, viz. that Jesus had been lately crucified by them. He then,
1. Proves his resurrection.
2. His ascension.
3. His exaltation to the right hand of God.
4. The effusion of the Holy Spirit, which was the fruit of his glorification, and which had not only been promised by himself, but foretold by their own prophets: in consequence of which,
5. It was indisputably proved that this same Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the promised Messiah; and if so,
6. The Governor of the universe, from whose power and justice they had every thing to dread, as they refused to receive his proffered mercy and kindness.’

Conclusion

All was fulfilled by AD 70, and Daniel’s ‘70 Weeks Prophecy’ was consigned to history! Jesus kept His promises, just as He said He would.

Luk 21:32 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

What do you think?

 

 

The Ascension of Christ and the ‘In Like Manner’ Question

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The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669) | Source: Source: Rembrandt the Complete Works

Introduction

The ‘In Like Manner’ Question

Most scholars today, especially the proponents of Dispensationalism, insist Christ will return in the future ‘in like manner’ to His ascension, with emphasis on Him returning with the same body in which He ascended.

By allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture I will seek to prove otherwise. In my opinion, ‘in like manner’ does not mean in ‘exact same’ manner.

Will Christ really return with the same body in which He ascended? Let us examine the implications of such a claim.

The Ascension and Christ’s Second Coming

Act 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The following comparisons reveal little similarity between these events:

Angels

2Th 1:7-8 KJV And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Mat 25:31 KJV When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Only two angels appeared at the ascension… Acts 1:10 but the Scriptures teach Christ would return with all the holy angels.

Trumpet

Mat 24:31 KJV And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus ascended silently, yet those who propose a future return believe He will come with the literal sound of a trumpet.

Every Eye

Rev 1:7 KJV Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Jesus ascended visibly in the presence of a handful of disciples; Dispensationalism teaches that literally every eye shall see Him at His return.

White Horse

Rev 19:11 KJV And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Jesus did not ascend on a white horse!

‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more…’

Joh 14:19 KJV Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

A major premise of Dispensationalism is that Jesus will return in the same body and physical appearance in which He ascended. Obviously, to accommodate the theory that He will literally sit on a throne in Jerusalem; even although He said ‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more’.

The Ascension and John’s Vision of Christ

Rev 1:13-16 KJV And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Jesus appeared to John on Patmos in His post-ascension form, and what he described was resplendently different to the Jesus he had known.

Although He is the same Jesus there can be no doubt His appearance now emphasises His glorification and deity.

Daniel’s Prophecy

Dan 7:13 KJV I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

John could only say that the One he saw was like the Son of Man described by Daniel in his Messianic prophecy.

1Jn 1:1 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

‘and our hands have handled’ John had seen and touched Jesus during His earthly ministry; he witnessed His transfiguration and was one of those taught by Him for forty days after His resurrection. If we also take into consideration the post resurrection appearances of Christ to 500 witnesses, we must conclude they already knew what Jesus looked like. Yet, clearly there was a significant difference between Christ prior to His ascension and Christ of the Revelation.

1Jn 3:2 KJV Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

‘for we shall see him as he is’ John wrote in his 1st Epistle ‘it doth not yet appear what we shall be’ then added ‘when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’. Why did John make this statement if he believed Jesus would return looking the same as at His ascension?

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3:2 ‘John had seen his glory on the mount when he was transfigured; and this we find was ineffably grand; but even this must have been partially obscured, in order to enable the disciples to bear the sight, for they were not then like him. But when they shall be like him, they shall see him as he is – in all the splendor of his infinite majesty.’

John was anticipating the imminent parousia of the glorified Christ, coming in His majesty and deity!

The Ascension and Christ at the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration Was a Vision of the Passing Away of the Old Covenant Age

Mat 17:2-5 KJV And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Peter did not fully understand the significance of the vision. By suggesting three tabernacles, he may have thought the three persons were of equal greatness and stature.

Luk 9:35-36 KJV And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

However, Peter was left in no doubt as to whom the greatest glory belonged when the voice of the Lord spoke out of the cloud.

Heb 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

The transfiguration was a vision of the passing away of the Old Covenant glory, symbolised by the departing of Moses and Elijah… Luke 9:33 Thereby making way for the greater New Covenant glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When did the Old Covenant vanish away? It ended at the time of the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Since Jesus promised to return during the lifetime of His generation, we must concur that the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant Age took place simultaneously.

The Transfiguration Was Also a Vision of the Glorified Christ of the Parousia

2Pe 1:16 KJV For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter in his 2nd Epistle was able to proclaim to the scoffers he was an eyewitness of ‘Christ’s majesty’. He had seen the glorified Christ and preached His imminent return with conviction.

Luk 19:15 KJV And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

‘having received the kingdom’ Although the ascension concluded Jesus’ earthly ministry as He entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies, it was the commencement of His heavenly priesthood and kingship.

The parousia was a glorious occasion when the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ returned having received His Kingdom.

The Conversion of St Paul

The Ascension and Paul’s Vision of Christ

Act 9:3-7 KJV And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Who art thou, Lord?’ No doubt Paul heard many first hand accounts and descriptions of Jesus, but he did not recognise this Jesus. The encounter left him trembling and astonished.

Once again, we have a vision of the glorified Christ. If Jesus was to return in His resurrection body, why do we constantly find manifestations of a transformed Christ after His ascension?

The Ascension and Christ at His Resurrection

Some scholars today teach that Jesus rose from the dead in His glorified body. In my opinion, Jesus rose from the dead in the same body placed in the tomb; His glorification took place after the ascension.

Others claim He received His glorified body having been taken up to heaven soon after the resurrection, but prior to His ascension. This is based on their interpretation of John 20:17.

Joh 20:17 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Touch me not’ Jesus did not restrain Mary from touching Him for any spiritual reason, He simply wanted Mary to go quickly and inform the dejected disciples of the good news of His resurrection.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

John 20:17 ‘Touch me not – Μη μου ἁπτου, Cling not to me. Ἁπτομαι has this sense in Job_31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the Hebrew דבק dabak, which signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Mat_28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. This probably Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: “Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven – you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage.’

Joh 20:27 KJV Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

‘Thomas, Reach hither thy finger’ It is assumed because Jesus discouraged Maryfrom touching Him, but later invited Thomas to thrust his hand into His side, that He had ascended to His Father during the intervening period.

Mat 28:9-10 KJV And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

However, in Matthew’s account of the resurrection, Jesus did not forbid the women from touching or worshipping Him! Therefore, the change in His appearance took place at His glorification after the ascension.

Jesus Walking on the Sea

Christ in the Midst v Walking on the Sea

Joh 20:26 KJV And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

‘the doors being shut’ It is also unsustainable to claim that Jesus’ resurrected body was His glorified body because He could appear in a room with all the doors closed.

Mat 14:26 KJV And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

The occasion when Jesus walked on the sea repudiates this; it was equally miraculous and occurred prior to the resurrection.

The motive behind this hypothesis is to support the eschatological position held by scholars who demand a less glorified Christ, to accommodate their theory that Christ in His resurrection form will sit in the temple in Jerusalem during the ‘millennium’.

Act 2:34-35 KJV For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Christ’s enthronement did not happen directly after His resurrection; Jesus spent forty days with His disciples before that glorious event.‘Sit thou on my right hand’

Jesus was to be King not only over Israel; He was to be King of Kings.

Peter declared Christ’s resurrection from the dead… Acts 2:22 and thereby Jesus was the recipient of the promise made to David that his descendant would sit on his throne… Acts 2:30-33

Where was the throne located?

Peter made it clear; the Messiah would sit on the throne of David in heaven, not on earth.

Christ now appears in all the glory of His deity, not as He was before or after the resurrection, but as He is since His ascension and glorification!

The Ascension and the Glorified Christ

Joh 17:5 KJV And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

After His ascension, Christ received the glory that was His before the foundation of the world. Once again adorned with the resplendent glory of the second person of the Trinity.

Php 2:9-11 KJV Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Father highly exalted Him in recognition of His triumph over sin and ‘the death’.

The Ascension and the Cloud of the Lord

The significance of the ‘cloud of the Lord’ is the only common denominator. The theophanic cloud of the Lord was the visible manifestation of the divine presence.

The Old Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

Exo 24:17-18 KJV And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

‘Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up unto the mount’ Here we find an Old Testament type and foreshadow of Christ and His ascension. Moses entered the cloud and returned after ‘forty’ days; a cloud also conveyed Christ into Heaven, and He returned after ‘forty’ years.

Exo 34:29 KJV And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

Moses not only ascended the mount, but while there he received the Old Covenant, likewise when Christ ascended to the Father, He received the New Covenant.

Exo 34:30 KJV And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Rev 1:16 KJV And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Moses’ appearance changed having been in the presence of the Lord, the appearance of Jesus at His return was even more glorious.

The New Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

2Co 3:7-11 KJV But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

‘much more that which remaineth is glorious’ The New Covenant glory eclipsed the glory of the Old Covenant.

The glorified Christ returned in majesty on the ‘cloud of the Lord’, having neither the identical appearance with which He ascended, nor with a mere cumulus cloud.

Act 1:9 KJV And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Rev 14:14 KJV And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

A Quote from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary

‘The Old Testament. The Literal Cloud. Natural phenomena involving clouds are depicted occasionally in the Old Testament, but far from being only “natural,” these are invariably linked with the direct activity of God…’‘The Theophanic/Eschatological Cloud. The remaining twenty-two New Testament occurrences of the word “cloud” appear in the context of theophany, and encompass six theologically crucial, eschatologically related events or visionary scenes in salvation history: (1) the pillar of cloud at the exodus, viewed as a type of Christian baptism in the time of eschatological fulfillment (1 Cor 10:1-2); (2) Jesus’ transfiguration, as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, during which the Father appears and speaks in a cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34); (3) Jesus’ ascension, explained by the angels as a paradigm for his return (Acts 1:9); (4) the “mighty angel” descending from heaven wrapped in a cloud, announcing (against the eschatological backdrop of (Dan 12:7) that time should be no longer (Rev 10:1); (5) the two resurrected witnesses ascending to heaven in a cloud, described in the context of the eschatological measuring of the temple of God (Rev11:12); and (6) Jesus’ parousia, against the backdrop of Daniel 7:13, as the Son of Man coming with/on/in a cloud/the clouds/the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26;14:62; Luke12:54; 21:27; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7; 14:14-16)’.

Conclusion

Mat 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

The effulgent glory of Christ’s deity shone through at His return; that was not evident at the ascension. The emphasis at the second coming was the glorified Christ, coming in the glory of the Father.

What do you think?

Jesus is King of Kings

IMG_3741

Source: gospeldrivendisciples.blogspot

Introduction

This may seem like a stupid question: Is Jesus reigning now?

Of course He is.

Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding among many believers regarding the kingship of Jesus. For example, although Dispensationalism is probably the most popular ‘end times’ theory and widely accepted by Christendom, there are mixed messages from its proponents regarding the question of whether Jesus is King at this present time. A familiar phrase from my own days in Dispensationalism was ‘Jesus is my Prophet, Priest, and coming King’.

To make my point, I have selected a few shocking statements from a prominent author and leading advocate of Dispensationalism:

Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the kingly prophecies in their day in addition to the ones regarding the suffering Messiah. But when the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ, the fulfilment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history.’

‘…even though Christ has the right to rule the earth, He isn’t exercising this authority over kings and kingdoms at this time.’ — Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming, Pages 30, 206.

Jesus is King and Reigning from Heaven

Jdg 8:23 KJV And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God was Israel’s King.

1Sa 8:5-7 KJV And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

The Lord ruled from Heaven by means of His revealed Law, but Israel wanted an earthly king like other nations. God assented after their remonstrance, but added they were rejecting Him as their King.

Hos13:11 KJV I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.

Dispensationalism would have us believe that God’s great plan and purpose was to have a king ruling from Jerusalem. Nonetheless, God had a far greater plan for the Messiah… Acts 2:30-33

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’ When the Kingdom of Judah ultimately descended into apostasy, God removed king Coniah, also called Jeconiah, sending him into captivity in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah the uncle of Jeconiah on the throne. Following a rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar imprisoned Zedekiah and after he witnessed the slaying of his sons, Zedekiah’s eyes were put out. He died in a Babylonian prison.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 22:30 ‘Childless – No child to sit on David’s throne. See 1Ch 3:17 note. Jeconiah was the last king of David’s line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah’s death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is “Yahweh our righteousness” Jer 23:5-6.’

Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah… Matthew 1:11-16 and the rightful heir to David’s throne, but according to Jeremiah He will not reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Yet, that is exactly what Dispensationalism teaches.

Jesus Avoided Becoming an Earthly King

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

If His Kingdom was of this world, why did Jesus circumvent those who could have brought it to pass?

Act 1:6 KJV When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Acts 1:6 ‘ Wilt thou at this time, etc.? They still held to their old ideas of a worldly restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Their only question was, “Wilt thou restore it now?” After the Holy Spirit was given, this delusion was dismissed, and they understood that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world.’ — People’s New Testament

Dispensationalism teaches that God has two separate peoples, national Israel and the Church. The Jews remain special heirs of Abraham and will rule over the Gentiles in a future millennium kingdom. This is contrary to the Scriptures and accentuates why it is important to have a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God and the Kingship of Jesus.

Jesus Reigns on David’s Throne in the Heavenly Realm

Act 2:30-33 YLT a prophet, therefore, being, and knowing that with an oath God did swear to him, out of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, to raise up the Christ, to sit upon his throne, 31 having foreseen, he did speak concerning the rising again of the Christ, that his soul was not left to hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 `This Jesus did God raise up, of which we are all witnesses; 33 at the right hand then of God having been exalted–also the promise of the Holy Spirit having received from the Father–he was shedding forth this, which now ye see and hear;

Peter proclaimed the fulfilment of God’s promise to raise up Christ upon David’s throne… Psalm 89:3-4 Therefore, Jesus was reigning over Israel during the lifetime of His generation.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

When Jesus answered ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, it was in keeping with His parable of ‘A certain nobleman’…Luke 19:12-27

A Certain Nobleman

Luk 19:12-15 KJV He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

In this parable, we see a clear reference to Christ going by way of His death, resurrection, and ascension, to receive His Kingdom from the Father and to return in judgement.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Luke 19:12-15 ‘A certain nobleman – The Lord Jesus, who was shortly to be crucified by the Jews. Went into a far country – Ascended to the right hand of the Divine Majesty. To receive a kingdom – To take possession of the mediatorial kingdom, the right to which, as Messiah, he had acquired by his sufferings: see Phi_2:8, Phi_2:9; Heb_1:3, Heb_1:8, Heb_1:9. In these words there is an allusion to the custom of those days, when they who had kingdoms or governments given unto them went to Rome to receive that dignity from the emperors. Bishop Pearce. In proof of this, see Josephus, Ant. l. xiv. c. xiv., where we find Herod went to Rome to receive the sanction and authority of the Roman emperor. And, from lib. xvii. c. 3, we learn that his successors acted in the same way. And to return – To judge and punish the rebellious Jews.’

The Church and the Kingdom

Mat 16:18-19 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus referred to the Church and the Kingdom in this portion of Scripture and His statement can only make sense if the titles are synonymous.

Heb 12:23 KJV To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Church and the Kingdom are interchangeable terms; to partake of one is to partake of the other.

Eph 2:12-15 KJV That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:19 KJV Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

To be in Christ is to be in the Church and in the Kingdom.

Conclusion

Hal Lindsey has written numerous successful, highly acclaimed books based on Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory.

In my opinion, he reveals the dubious nature of this doctrine by his failure to acknowledge the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luk 1:33 KJV And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Believers are citizens of the spiritual Kingdom of God, with King Jesus reigning in their hearts from His everlasting throne.

Rev 19:16 KJV And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

That is my King!

What do you think?

Footnote

Further to my comment on Jeremiah 22:30

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Chronology

Josiah was King of Judah 640-609 BC; he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD. He died in battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo.

Jehoahaz 608 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Necho II and imprisoned in Egypt.

Jehoiakim was King of Judah 608-597 BC; he was a wicked king.

Jehoiachin also called Jeconiah 597 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon. Although Zedekiah took his place on the throne, the exiled Jews acknowledged Jeconiah as their king…Ezekiel 1:2. Matthew recorded Jeconiah in Christ’s genealogy… Matthew 1

Zedekiah was King of Judah 597-586 BC; he was Jeconiah’s uncle and placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. After a rebellion, was imprisoned, his eyes were put out, and he died in Babylonian captivity.

There is no Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven

IMG_3740Christ Enthroned, Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) | Source: Pre Raphaelite Art

Introduction

There are scholars today who teach there is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Proponents of Dispensationalism are the main disseminators of this teaching, since it requires two kingdoms to make its ‘end times’ theory plausible.

Personally, I was taught the ‘Kingdom of God’ is spiritual and in the world today. The Kingdom of Heaven is a future millennium kingdom on earth. Jesus is not King at this present time, He is our Prophet, Priest, and coming King.

A Quote from Clarence Larkin’s Dispensational Truth (currently available on the Blue Letter Bible website)

‘The “Kingdom of God” is the “Reign of God” in the Universe over all His created creatures, and includes time and eternity, heaven and earth. It is spiritual and “cometh not with observation.” Luke 17:20,21. It is entered by the “New Birth,” (John 3:5); and is not “meat” and “drink,” but “Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”Rom. 14:17.
The “Kingdom of Heaven’,” is a New Testament term, and is found in Matthew’s Gospel only, where it is mentioned 32 times. Its character is described in the 12 “Kingdom of Heaven Parables” given in Matt. 13:1-50; 18:23-25; 20:1-16; 22:1-14; 25:1-30. From these Parables we see that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is limited as to its Time and its Sphere. Its Time is from the First to the Second Coming of Christ, and its Sphere is over that part of the world that we call Christendom. In the “Kingdom of Heaven” there is a mixture of good and evil, of “Wheat” and “Tares,” of “Good Fish” and “Bad Fish,” of “Wise Virgins” and “Foolish Virgins.”‘

In my opinion, the ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are synonymous titles appertaining to the universal Reign of God. There is one spiritual Kingdom.

In defence of my assertion of only one Kingdom, I have selected a few examples to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Dispensationalism

‘The Kingdom of GOD ‘cometh not with observation [outward show]’ (Luke 17:20), but is chiefly that which is inward and spiritual (Romans 14:17); while the Kingdom of Heaven is organic, and is to be manifested in glory on the earth.’  – Lewis Sperry Chafer – The Kingdom in History and Prophecy

The Kingdom Suffereth Violence

The Scriptures reveal the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ existed during the time of John the Baptist and Christ’s ministry.

Consider the following Scriptures:

Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 are two Gospel accounts of the same conversation.

Mat 11:12-13 KJV And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

‘kingdom of heaven’ For the Kingdom of Heaven to ‘suffereth violence’ it must have already existed during the ministry of John the Baptist. Therefore, it was not a title reserved specifically for a future millennium kingdom.

Luk 16:16 KJV The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

‘kingdom of God’ Luke recorded the same conversation and used the equivalent title ‘Kingdom of God’.

It is likely Matthew when writing to the Jews simply preferred to use ‘heaven’ rather than ‘God’.

Preach the Kingdom

Once again, we have two Gospel accounts of the same incident recorded by Matthew and Luke.

Mat 10:7-8 KJV And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

‘preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven’ This is another example of the Kingdom of Heaven being synonymous with the Kingdom of God.

Luk 9:1-2 KJV Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

‘preach the kingdom of God’ Jesus commanded the twelve disciples to preach and heal the sick, Matthew wrote ‘kingdom of heaven’ while Luke used ‘kingdom of God’.

Enter into the Kingdom

Mat 19:23-24 KJV Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

In Matthew’s Gospel both phrases are compatible, surely, Jesus would have expounded further if there were a need to differentiate between them.

Mar 10:24-25 KJV And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark applied ‘Kingdom of God’ on both occasions when he recorded the same conversation.

The Kingdom Is Synonymous with the New Covenant

Heb 12:24 KJV And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Covenant change was the theme of the Epistle to 1st century Hebrews during the ‘transition period’.

The Old Covenant was about to be removed, deferring to the full establishment of the New Covenant. The Church was about to enter fully into New Covenant.

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to 1st century Hebrews exhorted them to live ‘with reverence and godly fear’ because they were not only recipients of the New Covenant, they were about to receive the ‘Kingdom’.

Nevertheless, John MacArthur insists the Kingdom has been postponed for 2000 years and counting:

Dispensationalism’s Definition

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

A Quote from John MacArthur, Grace to You Website,

John MacArthur explained Dispensationalism’s interpretation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and began with the tenuous statement ‘Although the precise phrase is not found there, the kingdom of heaven is basically an Old Testament concept.’ He continued with the following:

‘Had God’s people Israel accepted their King when He first came to them, there would be no interim kingdom. The kingdom at hand would have become the kingdom of a thousand years, which, in turn, would have ushered in the eternal kingdom. But because they killed the forerunner of the King and then the King Himself, the millennial kingdom, and consequently the eternal kingdom, were sovereignly postponed. – John MacArthur

The Spiritual Kingdom

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

The Jews believed Gentile dominance would end by setting up Christ’s throne in Jerusalem. However, Jesus was about to end the Jewish polity completely, at His return in AD 70.

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

The Jews were willing to make Jesus king, but He avoided their intentions. If He had come to reign over a material kingdom from Jerusalem, the opportunity was there for the taking.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Jesus was born into the world that He might establish the spiritual Kingdom.

Isa 9:7 KJV Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Jesus returned in AD 70 and gathered His elect into the Kingdom and judged those who rejected Him. The Scriptures proclaim His Kingdom will continue to grow. The prophet said ‘Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end’.

The natural mind cannot perceive the progress of the Kingdom of God, its growth in the world is a process of pervasion in the spiritual realm… Matthew 13:31-32

1Pe 2:9 KJV But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Conclusion

The titles of the Kingdom are synonymous and describe one spiritual Kingdom.

Christ’s government is ever increasing.

Jesus is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!

What do you think?

 

Jerusalem was Babylon the Great, the Mystery is History

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The Destruction of Jerusalem, Titus Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805-1874) | Source: Preterist Archive

Introduction

Babylon the Great is not the rebuilt city of Babylon, pagan or Papal Rome, nor the apostate Church; the list of theories seems endless. New Yorkers can rest assured it is not their city either!

When attempting to understand the ‘end times’ our primary source of information should be the Scriptures, not the daily newspaper, international events, current affairs, or even the fictional ‘Left Behind’ paperbacks.

The Revelation

Rev 1:1-3 KJV The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass’ / ‘for the time is at hand’ The 1st century Church understood by these opening statements that the fulfilment of the vision was applicable to their generation.

keep those things which are written therein’ The saints had the capacity to understand the Revelation; otherwise, it would have been unreasonable to demand their obedience. Nevertheless, today it is considered the most enigmatic book in the New Testament. Taking into account context and audience relevance, 1st century fulfilment is a clear and obvious conclusion. In my opinion, our difficulty is our reluctance to believe the numerous impending time statements in the first and last chapters.

In search of Babylon the Great, I have selected a range of Scriptures to support my view Jerusalem was Babylon the Great.

Identifying the City Described as a Harlot

Rev 17:5-6 KJV And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Isa 1:21 KJV How is the faithful city become a harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

In the Scriptures, the only great city described as a harlot was Jerusalem.

Mat 12:39 KJV But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

How is the faithful city become a harlot!’ God’s covenant with Israel was like a marriage. Nevertheless, Israel was unfaithful, following after the idols of surrounding heathen nations. The sign of the prophet Jonah was an antitype of Christ’s resurrection.

Luk 19:41-44 KJV And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, 44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

Forty years later Christ’s prophecy was fulfilled to the letter.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible

Luke 19:43 ‘Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee around – All this was exactly performed by Titus, the Roman general.’

Identifying the City by a Major Event

Rev 11:8 KJV And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Many scholars believe the Revelation described Rome not Jerusalem, however, the clue is in the verse ‘where the Lord was crucified’.

Identifying the City by its Spiritual Names

Rev 11:8 KJV And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

What great city was ‘spiritually’ called Sodom? There was only one and it was Jerusalem.

Isa 1:8-10 KJV And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

Jer 23:14 KJV I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

Jerusalem was called ‘Sodom’ and ‘Gomorrah’ by prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Mat 17:17 KJV Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

The city ‘spiritually is called Sodom’ after the wickedness of its inhabitants.

What great city was ‘spiritually’ Egypt? There was only one, Jerusalem, for its persecution of God’s people. The plagues that devastated Egypt were about to come upon that city.

Identifying the City by its Apparel

Rev 18:16 KJV And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

What great city was clothed in fine linen? There was only one and it was Jerusalem.

Eze 16:10-12 KJV I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. 11 I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. 12 And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.

The prosperity and grandeur of Jerusalem reached its peak during the reign of David and his son Solomon.

I girded thee about with fine linen’ This was emblematic of Jerusalem during a period when God blessed the city.

Identifying the City by its Persecution of the Saints

Rev 18:20-21 KJV Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. 21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Mat 23:37 KJV O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.

Jesus warned 1st century Jerusalem of pending judgement and destruction because it was the city that killed the prophets.

Luk 11:50-51 KJV That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the altar and the temple. Yea I say to you: It shall be required of this generation.

The fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy was in AD 70, within the lifetime of His generation.

Luk 13:33 KJV Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Luke 13:33 ‘it cannot be that a prophet, etc. — “It would never do that,” etc. — awful severity of satire this upon “the bloody city!” “He seeks to kill me, does he? Ah! I must be out of Herod’s jurisdiction for that. Go tell him I neither fly from him nor fear him, but Jerusalem is the prophets’ slaughter-house.”’

Act 7:52 KJV Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Prior to his martyrdom Stephen condemned the religious leaders in Jerusalem for killing the prophets.

Rev 18:24 KJV And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

The Scriptures clearly ascertain Jerusalem was Babylon the Great.

Identifying the City by the Timeline of its Destruction

Dan 12:7 KJV And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

Daniel’s visions described the ‘last days’ of Old Covenant Israel, not the end of the world or the end of time. He prophesied that prior to the end of the Old Covenant Age there would be terrible tribulation for a period of 42 months, the outcome being the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish nation. This catastrophe took place in AD 70, when ‘the holy city’ was ‘tread under foot’ by the Roman army.

(‘a time’ = one year; ‘times’ = two years; ‘the dividing of time’ = half a year; forty-two months in total)

Luke 21:24 KJV And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Jesus not only endorsed Daniel’s prophecy in Luke 21:24, He continued by predicting the timeline of its fulfillment. The disciples asked Jesus ‘when shall these things be?’… Luke 21:6-7 and He told them ‘This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled’… Luke 21:32

Rev 11:2 KJV But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

Revelation 11:2 is in harmony with Daniel 12:7 and Luke 21:24. Jesus added the 42 months period to His previous predictions in the Olivet discourse.

Not only have we identified the timeline of Babylon the Great, we have also found Scriptural evidence that confirms the pre-AD 70 date for the writing of the Revelation!

Identifying the City by its Final and Tragic Demise

Rev 11:18 KJV And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

Rev 14:7-8 KJV Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Joh 5:25 YLT `Verily, verily, I say to you–There cometh an hour, and it now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those having heard shall live;

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.

John’s affirmation was consistent in his Gospel, Epistle, and the Revelation. Christ’s return, the resurrection, and the judgement, were about to be consummated at the imminent destruction of Jerusalem.

Luk 21:20 KJV And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

‘when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies’ Luke explained the meaning and timing of ‘the abomination of desolation’.

Mat 24:15-16 KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation’ Jesus warned the disciples to flee Jerusalem. The remnant left the city before it finally fell, and history records they fled to Pella in AD 70.

Zec 13:9 KJV And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

Rev 18:8 KJV Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Rev 18:10 KJV Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Rev 18:19 KJV And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

Zec 14:1-2 KJV Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Here we read a solemn yet vivid account of the wrath poured out upon Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman army.

The fulfilment of Zechariah’s prophecy was on the ‘Day of the Lord’ in AD 70.

Revelation 18:8 ‘Utterly burned with fire – Of what city is this spoken? Rome pagan has never been thus treated; Alaric and Totilas burnt only some parts with fire. Rome papal has not been thus treated; but this is true of Jerusalem, and yet Jerusalem is not generally thought to be intended.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible
The New Jerusalem

Identifying the City by its Antitype the New Jerusalem

John described the most beautiful city in the closing chapters of the Revelation, the New Jerusalem; earthly Jerusalem was it’s foreshadow.

Rev 21:1-2 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev 21:18 KJV And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Revelation 21:2 ‘…On the phrase “new Jerusalem,” see the Gal_4:26 note, and Heb_12:22 note. Here it refers to the residence of the redeemed, the heavenly world, of which Jerusalem was the type and symbol. It is here represented as “coming down from God out of heaven.” This, of course, does not mean that this great city was “literally” to descend upon the earth, and to occupy any one part of the renovated world; but it is a symbolical or figurative representation, designed to show that the abode of the righteous will be splendid and glorious. The idea of a city literally descending from heaven, and being set upon the earth with such proportions – three hundred and seventy miles high Rev_21:16, made of gold, and with single pearls for gates, and single gems for the foundations – is absurd. No man can suppose that this is literally true, and hence this must be regarded as a figurative or emblematic description. It is a representation of the heavenly state under the image of a beautiful city, of which Jerusalem was, in many respects, a natural and striking emblem.’

Conclusion

The destruction of earthly Jerusalem was an outward manifestation of spiritual change; the introduction of spiritual heavenly Jerusalem.

Joh 4:23-24 KJV But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

In New Jerusalem, true worship is not restricted to any one place or nation.

Rev 1:1 KJV The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

The Revelation was a vision of ‘things which must shortly come to pass’ and subsequently did.

The annals of history reveal the identity of Mystery Babylon!

Can we now identify the city called ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great’ in the Revelation? I am convinced we have done so, and it is none other than Jerusalem.

What do you think?

New Jerusalem will not Physically Descend from Heaven

IMG_3730The New Jerusalem, Paul Gustave Dore (1832-1883) | Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Introduction

A Quote from Dr David L Cooper, Biblical Research Society

‘Since God has the proper sense of proportion and since this New Jerusalem will be fifteen hundred miles in each direction, I conclude that the new earth to which it comes and upon which it rests forever will be an enormous one. It is impossible for us, with our limited comprehension, to understand these vast proportions.’

New Jerusalem will not descend literally from Heaven at some time in the future.

In my opinion, the emphasis on earthly Jerusalem and National Israel has had a detrimental effect on Christianity. Not only does Dispensationalism cause Christians to neglect the fact they are citizens of Heavenly Jerusalem, with its benefits and responsibilities, it has sidetracked the Body of Christ from its original focus, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I will seek to prove from the Scriptures that contrary to the teaching of Dispensationalism, New Jerusalem is a present day reality, a city inhabited spiritually, and to be enjoyed by all born again believers.

The Tabernacle of God is With Men

John alluded to Ezekiel 37:26-27 in Revelation 21:2-3. By doing so, he affirmed the New Covenant fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The New Covenant, established in AD 70, is synonymous with the ‘covenant of peace’ and the ‘everlasting covenant’.

God’s dwelling place is not a future temple made with hands, He tabernacles within the hearts of His people today.

Ezekiel 37 vs Revelation 21

Eze 37:26-27 KJV Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Rev 21:2-3 KJV And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘My tabernacle – The tabernacle wherein I will shew my presence among them. Their fathers had a tabernacle, but the Messiah shall bring with him a better, a spiritual, and an heavenly. They shall be my people – By my grace I will make them holy, as the people of a holy God; and I will make them happy, as the people of the ever blessed God.’ — John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments

Hagar and Sarah were Symbolic of Two Covenants and ‘Two Jerusalems’

Paul encouraged the Galatians to be faithful to the Gospel he had imparted to them, and to beware of Judaisers who had infiltrated the Church. These false teachers insisted on combining the Gospel of Grace with the Old Covenant Law.

Gal 4:22-26 KJV For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Paul explained that Hagar being a bondwoman represented the bondage of the Old Covenant and correlated to ‘earthly Jerusalem’, while Sarah a freewoman represented the freedom of the New Covenant and correlated to ‘heavenly Jerusalem’.

‘Jerusalem which now is’ In bondage to the Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai, whereas ‘Jerusalem which is above’ is New Covenant freedom in the Holy Spirit, through the death, resurrection and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gal 4:30 KJV Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.

In a spiritual sense, Hagar the bondwoman typified the casting out of the Old Covenant, while Sarah the freewoman typified the establishing of the New Covenant.

The Church at Galatia had freedom, but was in danger of being rescinded if entangled in the bondage of Judaism and the Old Covenant Law.

Therefore, New Jerusalem is not a material city to descend from Heaven in the future, but a spiritual city to enjoy now in the New Covenant Age.

Are Believers Really Living in ‘The New Jerusalem’? Yes, Although Many Do not Realise it!

Heb 12:22 KJV But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

Many scholars today teach Heavenly Jerusalem is still future and will materially descend to earth from heaven. Nonetheless, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly proclaimed Heavenly Jerusalem, also called New Jerusalem, was and is a present reality… Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2

There was no need for physical death and resurrection for 1st century believers to enter into the Heavenly City; they entered while still alive in their physical bodies!

A Quote from Alexander McLaren

Hebrews 12:22-23 ‘For, says my text, ‘Ye are come,’ not ‘Ye shall come.’ The humblest life may be in touch with the grandest realities in the universe, and need not wait for death to draw aside the separating curtain in order to be in the presence of God and in the heavenly Jerusalem.
How are these things brought to us? By the revelation of God in Christ. How are we brought to them? By faith in that revelation. So every believing life, howsoever encompassed by flesh and sense, can thrust, as it were, a hand through the veil, and grasp the realities beyond. The scene described in the first words of my text may verily be the platform on which our lives are lived, howsoever in outward form they may be passed on this low earth; and the companions, which the second part of our text discloses, may verily be our companions, though we ‘wander lonely as a cloud,’ or seem to be surrounded by far less noble society. By faith we are come to the unseen realities which are come to us by the revelation of God in Christ. ‘Ye are come unto Mount Zion.’

How can this be? They had come ‘To the general assembly and church of the firstborn’.

Jesus the Firstborn Among Many Brethren

Heb 12:23 KJV To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Christ is fully God and fully man; He was not a created being, as some falsely teach from this verse. In Scripture, firstborn often signified a well-beloved, or best-beloved son; one preferred to all the rest and distinguished by an exclusive right and privilege.

Exo 4:22 KJV And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

God called Israel his son and his firstborn.

Jer 31:9 KJV They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Ephraim was God’s firstborn.

Rom 8:29 KJV For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Paul said Jesus was the ‘firstborn among many brethren’ meaning that Christ was the Pre-eminent One, the Ultimate Model.

The General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn

Having already come to Heavenly Jerusalem and the church of the firstborn, citizenship of the 1st century Church did not rely on resurrection from physical death.

Rom 6:5 KJV For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

The 1st century believers had joined with Christ in His death and resurrection.

1Co 12:13 KJV For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

The Church was living in the Heavenly Jerusalem by the power of the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Heb 6:5 YLT and did taste the good saying of God, the powers also of the coming age,

During the transition period between the Old and New Covenant, the general assembly and church of the firstborn tasted of the powers of the New Covenant Age.

Conclusion

Heb 12:27-28 KJV And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 12:27 ‘The removing of those things that are shaken – The whole of the Jewish polity, which had been in a shaken state from the time that Judea had fallen under the power of the Romans.
As of things that are made – That is, subjects intended to last only for a time. God never designed that the Jewish religion should become general, nor be permanent.
Those things which cannot be shaken – The whole Gospel system, which cannot be moved by the power of man.
May remain – Be permanent; God designing that this shall be the last dispensation of his grace and mercy, and that it shall continue till the earth and the heavens are no more.’
Due to the constant bombardment of Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ pessimism, many Christians miss the present blessings our Heavenly Father has provided through His Son. ‘Blessed Assurance’ is quickly replaced by ‘Hold the Fort for I Am Coming’.

If New Jerusalem received the enthusiasm and resources given to earthly Jerusalem, the furtherance of the Gospel would benefit greatly.

Heavenly Jerusalem, the City of the Living God, is a present spiritual reality for those ‘in Christ’. It is not a literal, material city.

The question is, earthly or heavenly Jerusalem, which one is your capital?

What do you think?

Heaven and Earth will not be Destroyed by Fire

IMG_3725John at Patmos, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) | Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just S.J. Ph.D.

Introduction

Rev 21:1 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Catastrophic or Covenantal

Many scholars today teach the ‘new heaven and a new earth’ will literally replace the existing heaven and earth after its catastrophic destruction.

I will attempt to explain why the term does not refer to the end of time or the end of the world, but to the end of Old Covenant Israel at the great and terrible day of the Lord in AD 70.

Peter and the Day of the Lord

2Pe 3:10 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheion) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

‘the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night’ Peter described the second coming of Christ. Jesus and Paul also used ‘the thief’ illustration to describe this event… Matthew 24:43; 1Thessalonians 5:2

Apocalyptic Language

Isa 13:7 KJV Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

Isa 19:1 KJV The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Peter used apocalyptic language similar to Isaiah when he described the end of the ‘elements’ of the Old Covenant world. My article ‘The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord’ explains in detail.

‘the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheion) shall melt with fervent heat’ The visible evidence was the fiery destruction of the temple and Jerusalem at Christ’s return in judgement In AD 70. Covenantal change took place when the Old Covenant polity past away with the establishment of the New Covenant.

Mat 24-34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

At His return, Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the prophets concerning the establishment of the New Covenant, the Kingdom of God, the New Heavens and New Earth, and New Jerusalem. Consequently, sacrificial offerings for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of Old Covenant Israel came to a devastating end.

Mat 26:28 KJV For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.

In the New Covenant Age, only by faith in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross can mankind find atonement for sin, whether Jew or Gentile.

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma

According to Dispensationalism, the millennium reign begins at Christ’s second coming, the existing heavens and earth not being destroyed until the end of the 1000 years reign of Christ.

The following quote is a typical example of Dispensationalism’s interpretation of 2nd Peter 3:10-13.

A Quote from Got Questions.org

Question: “What does the Bible say about the end of the world?”

Answer: ‘The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium…The Bible tells us several things about this event. First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”’

Got Questions answered by promoting Dispensationalism’s view of the ‘end times’, the timeline being after the millennium, but then proceeded to misquote 2 Peter 3:12 in support. The dilemma is that the context of 2 Peter 3 is the second coming of Christ, not the end of the 1000 years.

A Quote from John Lightfoot’s Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations

‘That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt 24:29,30, The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the ’sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2Pet 3:10, The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut 32:22, Heb 12:26 and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Col 2:20 and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses” (vol. 3, p. 452).(March 29, 1602 – December 6, 1675)’

‘the Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat’

2Pe 3:12 KJV Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements ‘stoicheion’ shall melt with fervent heat?

The Greek ‘stoicheion’ means elements, rudiments and principles. It was translated ‘elements’ in 2nd Peter.

In 2nd Peter, most scholars interpret ‘stoicheion’ as this present, material and physical world. However, it is inconsistent to do so. Close examination reveals ‘stoicheion’ invariably referred to the Law of Moses and the elements, rudiments, principles of the Jewish religion and polity.

Galatians 4:3 and ‘stoicheion’

Gal 4:3 KJV Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements (stoicheion) of the world:

The Galatians were previously in bondage to the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:3 ‘The elements of the world – A mere Jewish phrase, éñåãé òåìí äæä yesodey olam hazzeh, “the principles of this world;” that is, the rudiments or principles of the Jewish religion.’

Galatians 4:9 and ‘stoicheion’

Gal 4:9 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheion) whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Paul warned the Galatians not to return to the elements, rudiments and principles of bondage.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:9 ‘Now, after that ye have known God – After having been brought to the knowledge of God as your Savior. Or rather are known of God – Are approved of him, having received the adoption of sons. To the weak and beggarly elements – After receiving all this, will ye turn again to the ineffectual rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law – rites too weak to counteract your sinful habits, and too poor to purchase pardon and eternal life for you? If the Galatians were turning again to them, it is evident that they had been once addicted to them. And this they might have been, allowing that they had become converts from heathenism to Judaism, and from Judaism to Christianity. This makes the sense consistent between the 8th and 9th verses.’

Colossians 2:8 and ‘stoicheion’

Col 2:8 KJV Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul warned the Colossians against those who ‘spoil’ by philosophy and vain deceit after the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

Colossians 2:20 and ‘stoicheion’

Col 2:20 KJV Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

The Colossians in Christ were dead to the elements, rudiments or principles of the world.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:20 ‘Wherefore. Ye died with Christ, died to the world, and to its rudiments, or fleshly ordinances. See note on Col_2:8 and Col_2:12. Why, then, as though belonging to the world, should you be subject to obsolete Jewish ordinances?’

Hebrews 5:12 and ‘stoicheion’

Heb 5:12 KJV For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles (stoicheion) of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The Hebrew writer admonished believers for their lack of maturity in the Scriptures. The solution was a return to the first elements, rudiments, or principles of the oracles of God.

A Quote from John Owen on the New Heavens and Earth 2 Peter 3:13

‘On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text:-

(1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffers and those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews, some of them believing, others opposing, the faith. Now there was no particular concernment of that generation, nor in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general ; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation ; and, besides, an ample testimony both to the one and the other of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was the thing in question between them.

(2.) Peter tells them, that after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of (vers. 7-13), ” We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God shall create these new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness? Saith Peter, ” It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi. 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of Gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of Gospel ordinances to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed Heb. xii. 26-28.
First, There is the foundation of the apostle’s inference and exhortation, seeing that all these things, however precious they seem, or what value soever any put upon them, shall be dissolved, that is, destroyed; and that in that dreadful and fearful manner before mentioned, in a day of judgment, wrath, and vengeance, by fire and sword; let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming: He will come- He will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God Himself planted, -the sun, moon, and stars of the Judaical polity and church, -the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinancy against the Lord Christ, shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed: this we know shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.’

Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Josephus was a Jewish historian who recorded his eyewitness account of the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

He also provided insight into the 1st century Jewish understanding of the phrase ‘heaven and earth’. The Jews considered the tabernacle and latterly the temple as heaven and earth.

Quotes from Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities

Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 123 ‘However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…’

Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181 ‘When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men.’

The temple was where heaven and earth came together; the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies was the most sacred place on earth, it was the symbol of God dwelling amongst His covenant people.

Isaiah and the New Heavens and a New Earth

Isa 65:17-18 KJV For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

Isaiah proclaimed the Lord would ‘create new heavens and a new earth’, when he described the New Covenant.

Paul

Isa 65:1 KJV I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.

Rom 10:20 KJV But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Romans 10:20 ‘But Esaias (the Greek orthography for Isaiah) is very bold – Speaks out in the fullest manner and plainest language, Isa_65:1, notwithstanding the danger to which such a declaration exposed him, among a crooked, perverse, and dangerous people: I was found of them that sought me not; I put my salvation in the way of those (the Gentiles) who were not seeking for it, and knew nothing of it: thus, the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to the law of righteousness, Rom_9:30, and they have found that redemption which the Jews have rejected.’

Paul wrote that the gospel he preached to the Gentiles was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 65.

Jeremiah and the New Covenant Age

Jer 31:31-33 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

A Quote from Alert Barnes Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 31:31 ‘A time is foretold which shall be to the nation as marked an epoch as was the Exodus. God at Sinai made a covenant with His people, of which the sanctions were material, or (where spiritual) materially understood. Necessarily therefore the Mosaic Church was temporary, but the sanctions of Jeremiah’s Church are spiritual – written in the heart – and therefore it must take the place of the former covenant Heb_8:13, and must last forever. The prophecy was fulfilled when those Jews who accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, expanded the Jewish into the Christian Church.’

The Writer to the Hebrews and the New Covenant Age

Heb 10:16-19 KJV This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews is covenantal change. By alluding to Jeremiah 31, the writer declared the fulfilment of prophecy in Christ the Mediator of the New Covenant.

Haggai and the Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth

Hag 2:5-7 KJV According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

The Lord shook the heavens and the earth when He gave Moses the Old Covenant Law at Mount Sinai… Exodus 19:18

Hag 2:21 KJV Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;

Haggai prophesied the Lord would shake the heavens and the earth when replacing the Old Covenant with the New.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Shaking Not the Earth Only, but also Heaven

Heb 12:26-28 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 12:26 ‘Whose voice then shook the earth – Namely, at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; and from this it seems that it was the voice of Jesus that then shook the earth, and that it was he who came down on the mount. But others refer this simply to God the Father giving the law. Not the earth only, but also heaven – Probably referring to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, and the total abolition of the political and ecclesiastical constitution of the Jews; the one being signified by the earth, the other by heaven; for the Jewish state and worship are frequently thus termed in the prophetic writings. And this seems to be the apostle’s meaning, as he evidently refers to Hag_2:6, where this event is predicted. It may also remotely refer to the final dissolution of all things.’

The writer to the Hebrews encouraged his readers by quoting from Haggai and declared there was only one more shaking after the time of Haggai, and it would be in their generation.

Mat 24:29 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Mat 24:34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The Scriptures are clear as to the timing of this event, Jesus’ generation!

Heb 8:13 YLT in the saying `new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old is nigh disappearing.

‘old is nigh disappearing’ This was a reference to the ministrations of the Old Covenant. Not only was it a material, but also a moral and spiritual event. This transition began at Christ’s advent and continued until His parousia in AD 70, with the removal of the ‘Old’ that was temporal, only Christ’s Eternal Kingdom remained.

Jesus and Till Heaven and Earth Pass

Mat 5:18 KJV For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

‘Till heaven and earth pass’ If Jesus referred to physical heaven and earth, which obviously has not passed away, then the Old Covenant Law of Moses would still be in effect. Consequently, New Covenant salvation would still be on hold. Fortunately, when Jesus said ‘Till heaven and earth pass’, He was talking about covenant change from Old Covenant to New. All was fulfilled when the Old Covenant passed away at Christ’s return. However, many scholars today teach that salvation is still incomplete until a future return of Christ.

‘Till all be fulfilled. “Till,” says Dr. Schaff, “implies that after the great events of Christ’s life, and the establishment of his kingdom, the old dispensation, as a dispensation of the letter and yoke of bondage, as a system of types and shadows, will pass away, and has passed away (Eph_2:15; Col_2:14; Heb_8:13); while the spirit and substance of the law, i. e., love to God and man, will last forever.’ — The People’s New Testament

The Revelation and the New Heaven and a New Earth

Rev 21:1-3 KJV And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

John alluded to Jeremiah 31:33.

‘and there was no more sea’ Personally, I believe this phrase referred to the end of separation between Jew and Gentile. All believers now enjoy fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The establishment of the ‘new heaven and a new earth’ is a past event and synonymous with the arrival of the New Covenant Age.

Conclusion

Joh 4:21-26 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

Jesus said 2000 years ago, ‘the hour cometh, and now is’, yet many scholars continue to project this time statement into the future. The new heavens and new earth is not a future material replacement for the present heaven and earth.

The new heavens and new earth is synonymous with the New Covenant and encompasses life in the Spirit, new principles, new ordinances, true worship, and of course, restoration and fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What do you think?

Jesus Never Mentioned a Physical Rapture of the Church

IMG_3701St Paul Preaching to the Thessalonians, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) Source: The Doré Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Introduction

In 1830, Margaret MacDonald from Port Glasgow, Scotland, prophesied the Church should not fear the great tribulation because the ‘rapture’ would take place prior to it. This prophecy became world-renowned, taken up (pardon the pun) by Edward Irving and endorsed by J N Darby of the Plymouth Brethren.

The doctrine demands two-second comings, the secret rapture of the Church, followed by Christ’s return seven years later. C I Scofield promulgated this theory by including notes in his ‘Scofield Bible’.

Jesus explained to the disciples the events leading to His return. Howbeit, He never mentioned a physical rapture of the Church seven years before the ‘day of the Lord’.

The Church never taught the rapture theory until the 19th century.

Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians

The purpose of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was to confirm what he had previously taught them concerning the ‘end times’… 2 Thessalonians 2:5

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

1 Thessalonians 4:13 ‘The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Act_17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare 1Th_5:10)…….’

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and the ‘Word of the Lord’

1Th 4:14-17 KJV For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 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. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This particular portion of Scripture is Dispensationalism’s ‘candy stick’ and used to support Margaret MacDonald’s ‘rapture’ prophecy. Nevertheless, the rapture doctrine necessitates a two-stage second coming of Christ not found in the Scriptures.

What exactly was ‘the word of the Lord’ to the Thessalonians?

Paul said he was speaking ‘by the word of the Lord’ like the phrase used by the Old Testament Prophets ‘thus saith the Lord’, meaning by direct revelation.

False teachers had caused doubt in the hearts of believers by proclaiming those who had recently died would miss the glorious return of the Lord. The Lord reassured the Thessalonians ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’.

‘we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord’ The Thessalonians clearly understood their generation would witness Christ’s return.

caught up’ This phrase was translated from the Greek word ‘harpazo’, more on this later.

If Paul received additional revelation from the Lord regarding His return, surely it would not contradict what He told the disciples in Matthew 24.

Paul did not reveal a new two-stage return; on the contrary, he alluded to Matthew 24:31.

Mat 24:31 KJV And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

‘they shall gather together his elect’ Jesus never taught rapture as described by Dispensationalism, but He did teach the gathering together of His elect.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 and the ‘Day of the Lord’

Can we learn from Scripture what the Church in Thessalonica actually believed regarding the events surrounding the return of the Lord? It may come as a surprise to some, but yes, we can.

1Th 5:2-6 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

A careful study of these verses will show that Paul had only one day and one single event in mind, the ‘day of the Lord’.

‘let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober’ If the Church was to be ‘rapture ready’ at the beginning of the seven years great tribulation before the ‘day of the Lord’, the second coming of Christ, why did Paul encourage the saints to be diligent and not to sleep, if they were not going to be around for the ‘day of the Lord’.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 and the ‘Day of the Lord’

2Th 2:1 YLT And we ask you, brethren, in regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him,

‘our gathering together unto him’ Once again, Paul alluded to Matthew 24:31.

2Th 2:2-3 YLT that ye be not quickly shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither through spirit, neither through word, neither through letters as through us, as that the day of Christ hath arrived; 3 let not any one deceive you in any manner, because—if the falling away may not come first, and the man of sin be revealed—the son of the destruction,

False teachers had convinced some believers that the ‘Day of the Lord’ had already taken place, but how could that have happened if Paul had taught them the popular 21st century ‘end times’ concept:

The physical rapture

The physical resurrection with open graves

Jesus physically descending on a cloud with the sound of the trumpet

Every eye beholding the physical and visible return of Jesus

Destruction on a cosmic level

All they had to do was look around, everything continued as before!

If a physical rapture had taken place, surely they would have noticed the disappearance of at least some believers. Not to mention the event was supposed to have happened seven years earlier.

Paul did not correct their understanding of the spiritual manner of the second coming of Christ; rather, he built on their knowledge and only corrected the timing issue… 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

Therefore their concept of the ‘day of the Lord’ and the spiritual manner of the coming of the Lord must have been the correct one.

Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:50-52 and ‘We Shall Be Changed’

1Co 15:50-52 KJV Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

During Paul’s exposition on the resurrection, he told the Corinthian Church ‘but we shall all be changed’ he did not say we shall all be physically ‘raptured’, nor did he mention a two-stage return.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 and Paul’s ‘Harpazo’ Rapture

2Co 12:1-4 KJV It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up (harpazo) to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up (harpazo) into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

‘caught up’ This was not a physical but a spiritual ascent; God took Paul into the realm of ‘the third heaven’.

Paul used the same Greek word ‘harpazo’ translated ‘caught up’ as he did in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In my opinion, his physical body did not leave the ground.

Paul’s spiritual ‘harpazo’ may shed light on the experience of the saints who were alive and remained at Christ’s Parousia … 1 Corinthians 15:52

The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 24:30-31 and the ‘Imminent Return of Christ’

Mat 24:30-31 KJV And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Mat 8:11-12 KJV And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The gathering of His elect was to take place concurrently as the children of the kingdom (Old Covenant Israel) were to be cast out. This took place at the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Mat 3:9 KJV And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

The Jews thought they had a natural right to the privileges of the Kingdom because they were Abraham’s descendants, but natural birth did not bring spiritual sonship.

Matthew 24:16 and ‘Flee into the Mountains’

Mat 24:16 KJV Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Again, Jesus did not teach a physical rapture. On the contrary, He told the disciples to ‘flee into the mountains’.

Believers in Jerusalem subsequently fled to Pella prior to the city’s destruction in AD 70. Pella was the site of one of Christianity’s earliest churches.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea it was a refuge for Christians fleeing from Jerusalem during the Roman/Jewish war.

The Trump of God

Rev 11:15 KJV And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

1Co 15:52 KJV In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The Scriptures we have considered so far, and in particular 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Matthew 24:31; and Revelation 11:15 have a common denominator; ‘the Trump of God’.

If there is to be a two-stage return with a seven-year gap in between, how can there be two last trumps? There can only be one ‘last trump’!

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture we will find that Christ’s return was a single and glorious one.

Only one last trumpet is mentioned in these Scriptures, Matthew 24 placed the sounding of that trumpet at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, before that generation passed away… Matthew 24:31-34

‘The Hour of the Trial’

Dispensationalism teaches, although the ‘rapture’ is never mentioned in the Scriptures, it is between Revelation chapters 3 and 4!

Compare King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation:

Rev 3:10 KJV Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Rev 3:10 YLT `Because thou didst keep the word of my endurance, I also will keep thee from the hour of the trial that is about to come upon all the world, to try those dwelling upon the earth.

This verse is taken out of context to endorse the theory the Church was promised a physical removal from the world prior to the great tribulation. The letter was addressed specifically to the Church at Philadelphia in Asia Minor during the 1st century.

The King James Version of the phrase ‘which shall come upon all the world’ should read ‘that is about to come upon all the world’ according to Young’s Literal Translation, this verse contains the Greek ‘mello’, which means ‘about to’.

It is interesting to note, ‘all the world’ is the Greek word ‘oikoumene’ meaning the Roman Empire, and ‘upon the earth’ is the Greek word ‘ge’ meaning region or land.

The time indicator renders impossible the idea that the promise was to saints 2000 years in the future.

Chronological Periods

Rev 1:20 KJV The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

C I Scofield, Clarence Larkin, and other writers of Dispensationalism, held the view that the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 represent seven consecutive chronological periods in Church history.

If true, then why is the so-called ‘rapture’ passage in the sixth Philadelphia period and not the seventh and last period?

‘Come up hither’

Rev 4:1-2 KJV After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

John was told to ‘Come up hither’, he didn’t bodily go to Heaven but ‘in the Spirit’.

Although Dispensationalism teaches this Scripture supports the rapture theory, one of their leading proponents John F Walfoord was not convinced.

‘The invitation to John to ‘come up hither’ is so similar to that which the Church anticipates at the Rapture that many have connected the two expressions. It is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the Church, as John was not actually translated; in fact he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos. He was translated into scenes of heaven only temporarily.’ — John F Walfoord

Enoch’s Rapture

Dispensationalism holds the view that Enoch and Elijah were examples of those who have already been ‘raptured’ to heaven.

A Quote from a Website Promoting Dispensationalism

‘Enoch and Elijah are two Old Testament examples of men taken live into heaven…
The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be…’ 
(Source available on request).

Gen 5:24 YLT And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.

Heb 11:5 YLT By faith Enoch was translated–not to see death, and was not found, because God did translate him; for before his translation he had been testified to–that he had pleased God well.

Heb 11:13 YLT In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from afar having seen them, and having been persuaded, and having saluted them, and having confessed that strangers and sojourners they are upon the earth.

‘In faith died all these’ The Scriptures do not actually state Enoch was translated alive to Heaven, according to Hebrews 11:13, Enoch was included with those who died, not having received the promises… Hebrews 11:5

Elijah’s ‘Rapture’

2Ki 2:1 YLT And it cometh to pass, at Jehovah’s taking up Elijah in a whirlwind to the heavens, that Elijah goeth, and Elisha, from Gilgal,

King Jehoram forsook the God of his fathers and did wickedly; consequently he received writing from Elijah the prophet… 2 Chronicles 21:12 Elijah wrote to Jehoram telling him the judgement of God would come upon him for his actions. However, Jehoram did not begin his reign until sometime after Elijah was physically caught up in the whirlwind! Did Elijah write his letter from heaven?

Philip’s Rapture

Act 8:39-40 KJV And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away (harpazo) Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

‘caught away’ Once again the Greek word ‘harpazo’ was used. In my opinion, Elijah was not caught up into ‘third heaven’ but simply physically caught away. Philip had a similar experience, he was found later at Azotus.

Conclusion

Eph 1:10 KJV That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

A Quote from Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ephesians 1:10 ‘The Father exhibited and gave Christ, who is the head of all the elect to the world, at that time which was convenient according as he most wisely disposed all times from everlasting. And Christ is he in whom all the elect from the beginning of the world (otherwise wandering and separated from God) are gathered together. And some of these elect were in heaven, when he came into the earth, that is, those who by faith in him to come, were gathered together. And others being found upon the earth were gathered together by him, and the rest are daily gathered together. The faithful are said to be gathered together in Christ, because they are joined together with him through faith, and become as it were one man.’

‘and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’…Matthew 24:31. When Jesus returned He gathered the elect of all the ages past and the 1st century remnant into His Kingdom. The final barrier between God and mankind was removed as He took away the last vestiges of the Law that held the power of sin. The gathering was in the heavenly places in Christ, the spiritual Kingdom of God.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that either the Trumpet of the Lord sounded during the 1st century generation or Jesus failed and mankind still has no escape from sin and separation from God.

The good news is the trumpet sounded and the faithful in Hades were ushered into God’s presence, those who were alive and remained were spiritually translated into the Kingdom of God.

Joh 5:24 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What do you think?

 

The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord

IMG_3696

The Prophet Isaiah, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

The Old Testament Prophets used metaphorical language on numerous occasions to describe divine judgement, also known as ‘The Day of the Lord’.

Jesus spoke with similar metaphorical language when He described His second coming in judgement, which was a spiritual not physical return. His audience was accustomed to this type of expression. Many understood the significance of His warning, while the majority rejected His call for repentance.

I have chosen a selection of prophecies where metaphorical language proclaimed God’s judgement on specific nations and Old Covenant Israel. The Lord always kept His Word, but used various practical methods to accomplish it.

In fact, it is misleading to apply a literal interpretation to the metaphorical language used to describe these events.

The Second Coming of Christ

Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ, however, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we will see a striking similarity in phraseology.

The LORD Thundered From Heaven… 2 Samuel 22:7-16

David

2Sa 22:7-11 KJV In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. 8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. 9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. 10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. 11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

A Quote from Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

2 Samuel 22:1 ‘This song, which is found with scarcely any material variation as Ps. 18, and with the words of this first verse for its title, belongs to the early part of David’s reign when he was recently established upon the throne of all Israel, and when his final triumph over the house of Saul, and over the pagan nations 2Sa_22:44-46, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, was still fresh 2 Sam. 21. For a commentary on the separate verses the reader is referred to the commentary on Ps. 18.’

David’s Psalm was one of thanksgiving for God’s powerful deliverance from all his enemies. This deliverance actually took place, but not in the way described, it is an excellent example of metaphorical language in Scripture.

Howl Ye; for the Day of the LORD is at Hand… Isaiah 13:6-13

Isaiah

Isa 13:10-13 KJV For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and described metaphorically the destruction of the Babylonian Empire, which existed from 606-536 BC.

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them’ Isaiah explained the method of judgement used by the Lord… Isaiah 13:17-19.

The Shaking of the Hand of the LORD of Hosts… Isaiah 19:1-16

Isaiah

Isa 19:1 KJV The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

The prophet proclaimed ‘the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt’, once again prophetic metaphorical language.

Isa 19:2-4 KJV And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 19:2 ‘I will set – Egypt was now one kingdom, but not many years after this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars.’

The Children of Israel had placed their confidence in the Egyptians who were their allies against Assyria at the time. To break their dependency on Egypt, it was important they should be aware of the destruction about to come upon that nation at the hands of the ‘fierce king’ Psammetichus.

Isaiah 19:16 KJV In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.’

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Isaiah 19:16 ‘like … women — timid and helpless (Jer 51:30; Nah 3:13).
shaking of … hand — His judgments by means of the invaders (Isa 10:5, Isa 10:32; Isa 11:15).’

The Indignation of the LORD… Isaiah 34:2-5

Isa 34:3-5 KJV Their slain also shall be cast out and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. 5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

Although fulfilled, the judgement on Edom was not in the manner described in the prophecy.

Eze 25:14 KJV And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Ezekiel 25:14 ‘by … my people Israel — namely, by Judas Maccabeus. The Idumeans were finally, by compulsory circumcision, incorporated with the Jewish state by John Hyrcanus (see Isa_34:5; Isa_63:1, etc.; 1 Maccabees 5:3). So complete was the amalgamation in Christ’s time, that the Herods of Idumean origin, as Jews, ruled over the two races as one people. Thus the ancient prophecy was fulfilled (Gen_25:23), “The elder shall serve the younger.”

The Fierce Anger of the LORD… Jeremiah 4:8-15

Jeremiah

Jer 4:13 KJV Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

This metaphorical language described the sudden appearance of unexpected clouds, which often rise quickly and overspread the whole face of the heavens; similarly with great swiftness Nebuchadnezzar invaded ‘as a whirlwind’.

To be Trodden underfoot… Daniel 8:9-13

Daniel

Dan 8:10-11 KJV And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

The Lord’s instrument of judgement on this occasion was Antiochus Epiphanes who was a foretaste of ‘that man of sin’, Nero Caesar… 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Daniel 8:10 ‘The host of heaven – The Jewish hierarchy. The stars, the priests and Levites. The powers or host of heaven are probably intended by our Lord, Mat 24:29, to signify the whole Jewish hierarchy.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

The Great and the Terrible Day of the LORD… Joel 2:28-31

Joel

Joe 2:28-31 KJV And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Act 2:20 KJV The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Peter preached the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost… Acts 2:17-21 Not only did Peter’s generation witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were given the opportunity to repent before the impending ‘great and the terrible day of the LORD’ at Christ’s return in AD 70. The Lord’s method of judgement was the Roman Army.

I Will Shake the Heavens and the Earth… Haggai 2:6-9

Haggai

Hag 2:6-7 KJV For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

Heb 12:26-28 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to the Hebrews quoted from Haggai 2:6-7, only one more shaking after the time of Haggai and it would be during their lifetime. Not only was it a material, but also a moral and spiritual event. It began with the advent of Christ and fulfilled at His return; among those things removed was the Old Covenant.

The Lord’s instrument was the Roman Army.

The Second Coming of Christ and Metaphorical Language

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Luke 17:20-21 ‘When the kingdom of God cometh. These Pharisees expected a visible, temporal kingdom. Cometh not with observation. As a visible, earthly monarchy, like that of David. Is within you. A kingdom that has its throne in the heart, on which Christ, the King, sits. It has to be formed by yielding our hearts to Christ.’

‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation’ Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ. However, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we find a striking similarity in figurative phraseology.

Matthew 24:29 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:29 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

Isaiah

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine’

‘And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down’

Daniel

‘even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them’

Joel

‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood’

Haggai

‘I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land’

Matthew 24:30 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:30 KJV And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Isaiah

‘Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt:’

Jeremiah

‘Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles’

David

‘And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind’

Conclusion

Dispensationalism insists on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. This may appear commendable on the surface, nevertheless, to have a full comprehension of the Word of God, we must have the Holy Spirit’s guidance to differentiate between literal and metaphorical language.

The Lord Jesus Christ described His return in judgement using the same figurative speech as the Old Testament prophets.

Joel’s prophecy concerning ‘the great and the terrible day of the Lord’ was fulfilled during the lifetime of Christ’s generation.

The second coming of Christ was neither the end of the world, nor the end of time. Instead, it was the end of the Old Covenant Age and the full establishment of the New Covenant Age.

What do you think?

 

Elijah the Prophet was not Taken up to Heaven

IMG_3695Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire, Giuseppe Angeli (1712-1798) | Source: Biblical Art on the WWW

Introduction

Dispensationalism appropriates the catching away of Elijah in support of the ‘rapture of the Church’ theory. This teaching assumes Elijah did not physically die, having been taken directly into God’s presence in Heaven. There he waits patiently to physically return prior to the second coming of Christ. In my opinion, Dispensationalism is a doctrine built upon speculation.

For Example:

A Quote from gracethrufaith.com

‘Enoch and Elijah are two Old Testament examples of men taken live into heaven. Neither of them died first. In Enoch’s case he is specifically described as “walking with God.” Elijah of course went in a chariot of fire that swooped down and picked him up in a whirlwind. The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be. If that’s the case, they were pushed forward in time and given perfected bodies allowing them to survive in the presence of God. Enoch has no further mission that we know of as far as Earth is concerned, but Elijah continues to be involved with mankind being anticipated at every Passover and present in spirit at circumcisions. He also appeared on the Mt. of transfiguration with Moses and will serve with him as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.’

‘The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be.’ Surely, doctrine cannot be built upon speculation. Let’s speak when the Scriptures speak and be silent when the Scriptures are silent.

‘they were pushed forward in time and given perfected bodies allowing them to survive in the presence of God.’ This statement is not only unscriptural, it contradicts the discussion Christ had with Nicodemus.

Joh 3:13 KJV And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Only Christ who is fully God and fully man can ascend to and descend from heaven.

Elijah’s Paradox

There is an interesting paradox in the Scriptures concerning Elijah’s location when he sent his ‘writing’ to Jehoram, king of Judah, after his ‘rapture to heaven’! Many scholars have pondered this problem without producing a convincing explanation. I am persuaded the most obvious answer is the most likely, although it might incite an adverse response, nevertheless, it is sufficient to eliminate the Elijah endorsement of the ‘rapture theory’.

Elijah’s ‘Writing’ to Jehoram King of Judah

Historical Background

Elijah prophesied the death of Ahaziah the King of Israel who reigned from 853-852 BC, therefore, he was still on the scene… 2 Kings1:1-18

2Ki 3:11 KJV But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

Jehoram, king of Israel, reigned after Ahaziah from 852-841 BC. He called on Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to do battle with the Moabites around 852-851 BC. Elijah was no longer around and Elisha prophesied the Word of the Lord to the kings in his place.

The timeline proves Elijah was taken by the Lord prior to the Moabite rebellion in 852-851 BC, before Jehoram, king of Judah, the son of Jehoshaphat, came to the throne in 848 BC. Elijah could not have sent a letter to Jehoram if physically taken up into heaven in 852-851 BC.

Elijah’s Writing

2Ch 21:12-15 KJV And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: 14 Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: 15 And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.

Elijah wrote to Jehoram King of Judah who reigned from 848-841 BC, declaring a terrible death awaited him for his evil ways. How did Elijah send this writing? Apparently, the Lord had taken him up in a whirlwind into heaven approximately 4 years earlier.

There are scholars who use this paradox to dispute the inspiration of the Scriptures. Others say it was a misunderstanding and Elisha sent the writing, or perhaps there was another prophet by the name of Elijah. Some claim Jehoram was co-regent with his father Jehoshaphat about 853 BC, there are no Scriptures to support this, but it is plausible. The conclusion drawn is Elijah may have been around during the early days of Jehoram’s co-regency.

2Ch 20:31-32 KJV And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.

‘doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD‘ It is unlikely Jehoshaphat would have allowed his son to act wickedly during a co-regency, since he was a good king.

2Ch 21:4 KJV Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.

Jehoram’s evil deeds occurred after he became king in his own right in 848 BC. Elijah’s writing contained a summary of the evil Jehoram had already done, not what he would do in the future. For example, it was after Jehoram became king he murdered his brothers.

The Heavens

2Ki 2:11 YLT And it cometh to pass, they are going, going on and speaking, and lo, a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and they separate between them both, and Elijah goeth up in a whirlwind, to the heavens.

The word ‘heavens’ is the Hebrew word ‘shamayim’ or ‘shameh’ meaning the sky, the area of the clouds, also the higher area of the stars and the planets.

The same word is used:

‘If I shut up heaven that there be no rain’… 2 Chronicles 7:13

‘And God called the firmament Heaven’… Genesis 1:8

Personally, I believe the ‘rapture’ of Elijah involved his removal to another location, not into God’s presence in Heaven.

Paul ‘Caught Up’ to Paradise

Why is it assumed that Elijah was taken alive in his physical body into God’s presence? God is Spirit and the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom, why would any saints be translated in their physical body into such a realm?

2Co 12:2-5 KJV I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

Paul was spiritually translated temporarily into God’s holy presence in ‘third heaven’.

Philip’s ‘Harpazo’ Caught Away to Azotus

Act 8:39-40 KJV And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

In my opinion, Philip had a similar physical experience to Elijah when ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ translated him to Azotus.

Enoch’s Rapture

Dispensationalism also holds the view that Enoch was ‘raptured’ to heaven, thereby giving credence to the dubious ‘rapture’ theory.

Gen 5:24 YLT And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.

translated–not to see death’ The Scriptures do not confirm Enoch was translated alive to Heaven.

Heb 11:5 YLT By faith Enoch was translated–not to see death, and was not found, because God did translate him; for before his translation he had been testified to–that he had pleased God well.

Heb 11:13 YLT In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from afar having seen them, and having been persuaded, and having saluted them, and having confessed that strangers and sojourners they are upon the earth.

‘In faith died all these’ Enoch was included with the faithful who died, not having received the promises… Hebrews 11:5

Conclusion

I believe Elijah was translated physically to another place where he remained until his death and sent his writing from there.

In my opinion, Dispensationalism has subtly tapped into the imagination of many believers through intriguing speculative theories that cannot be supported by Scripture.

What do you think?

 

Elijah the Prophet will not Return

IMG_3694Elijah Fed by the Ravens, Il Guercino, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, (1591-1666) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Due to the influence of Dispensationalism, with its strictly literal interpretation of the Scriptures, many Christians may feel it compromises their beliefs to consider a spiritual interpretation, even when appropriate.

For instance, Jesus’ discourse with His disciples in Matthew 17:10-13 is typical of the Scriptures being misunderstood by those who insist on a literal return of Elijah.

Mat 17:10-13 KJV And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The disciples believed Elijah would physically return; the Jewish people still set a place for him at the Passover table. Nevertheless, Jesus taught the disciples the spiritual significance of John the Baptist’s ministry and the fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy.

Let’s examine the misconstrued literal interpretation of ‘Elijah’s return’.

The Prophet Malachi

The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ and it is not difficult to understand why, since they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets to call Israel to repentance. There was a gap of 400 years between Malachi and John the Baptist.

Mal 3:1-2 KJV Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

Mal 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi proclaimed Elijah would prepare the way of the Messiah, prior to ‘the great and dreadful day of the LORD’.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Malachi 4:5 ‘The great and dreadful day of the Lord – This literally refers to the times of vengeance upon the Jews, from the death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and by accommodation, to the end of the world.’

Of all the commentaries at my disposal, John Wesley most clearly defined Malachi 4:5. Far be it from me to criticise such a wonderful man of God, but in my opinion, it is a great pity he felt it necessary to add ‘and by accommodation, to the end of the world’. There is in no mention of the end of the world in the Scriptures.

The Timeline of Elijah the Prophet’s Return

It is important to identify the timeline of Elijah’s coming; Malachi prophesied Elijah would prepare the way for two major events:

1) ‘I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me’ To prepare the way prior to Christ’s advent.

2) ‘before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’ To proclaim the great and terrible day of the Lord at the passing of Old Covenant Israel, which involved the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews.

John the Baptist warned of these events, and both were fulfilled during the lifetime of his generation.

Mat 17:12-13 KJV But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

According to Dispensationalism, John did not demonstrate the miracles of Elijah, and the great and terrible Day of the Lord has not occurred. Therefore, Malachi’s prophecy remains unfulfilled until a future appearance of Elijah. This assumption is despite the words of Jesus that Elijah had already come! There is neither any suggestion in the Scriptures of a 2000 years gap between the two events, nor the slightest hint of double fulfilment of prophecy as some scholars suggest. If the great and terrible day of the Lord is a future event in the 21st century, then why did Jesus emphatically state ‘Elijah’ returned in the 1st century AD?

The great and terrible day of the Lord is not an ‘end of the world’ event in the far and distant future. On the contrary, Malachi’s prophecy was written specifically to Old Covenant Israel, whose relationship with the Lord was about to end in judgement. The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ because they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

John the Baptist

According to the Scribes and their literal interpretation of Malachi 4:5, Elijah would return as a forerunner to the Messiah.

Jewish scholars anticipated the physical return of Elijah, descending from heaven in the chariot that had previously caught him away. Therefore, in their estimation, John the Baptist was not Elijah. Consequently, Jesus could not have been the long awaited Messiah.

Luk 1:15-17 KJV For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’, having been ‘filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb’. It was the same ‘spirit and power’ Elijah had been endued with 800 years earlier, but John was not Elijah in person.

Luk 7:27-28 KJV This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Luke 7:28 ‘He was, upon this account, so great, that really there was not a greater prophet than he. Prophets were the greatest that were born of women, more honourable than kings and princes, and John was the greatest of all the prophets. The country was not sensible what a valuable, what an invaluable, man it had in it, when John Baptist went about preaching and baptizing. And yet he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’

Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Some scholars insist John failed in his ministry. Such a suggestion contradicts the words of Jesus when He spoke of John being the greatest of the prophets. Not only by his character, preaching, faithfulness and martyrdom, John’s ministry was of the greatest importance in that he prepared the way for the Messiah and warned of impending judgement. John successfully completed his mission.

 A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Acts 13:25 ‘As John fulfilled his course – As John was fulfilling his race, he said, etc. It has been supposed that the word δρομον, course, or race, is used here to point out the short duration of the Baptist’s ministry, and the fervent zeal with which he performed it. It signifies properly his ministry, or life. A man’s work, employment, function, etc., is his race, course, or way of life. John had a ministry from God; and he discharged the duties of it with zeal and diligence; bore the fatigues of it with patience and resignation; and was gloriously successful in it, because the hand of the Lord was with him.’

Joh 1:20-21 KJV And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

‘Art thou Elias?’ John the Baptist made it clear, he was not Elijah in person!

‘Art thou that prophet?’ Meaning the prophet to whom Moses referred in Deuteronomy 18:15.

‘The Prophet’ Promised by Moses, was none other than the Messiah. Peter, while preaching Christ to the men of Israel on the day of Pentecost, referred to the prophecy of Moses, thus confirming its fulfilment in their generation… Acts 3:22

‘I am a voice’ John called the people to repentance, because the Jews to whom he preached were at that time in a spiritual wilderness and unfit to receive the King… Isaiah 40:3

Joh 1:23 YLT He said, `I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.’

Although John the Baptist was not Elijah in person, he was the fulfilment of prophecy.

‘If Ye Will Receive It’

Mat 11:14-15 KJV And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

‘if ye will receive it’ Jesus accentuated the importance of His statement, He was teaching a doctrine different to the prevalent view at the time. His proclamation varied from the current expectations of the Jews, and the disciples might be disposed to question it.

Matthew 11:15 ‘He that hath ears to hear …’ – This expression is frequently used by Christ. It is a proverbial expression, implying that the highest attention should be given to what was spoken. The doctrine about John he regarded as of the greatest importance. He among you, says he, that has the faculty of understanding this, or that will believe that this is the Elijah spoken of, let him attend to it and remember it.’ — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

Conclusion

The vast majority of John the Baptist’s generation was oblivious to the presence of the Messiah, and stubbornly ignored the warnings of impending doom. Consequently, except for the remnant, they suffered the judgement in AD 70.

Jesus taught the disciples an important lesson concerning Old Testament prophecy when He explained the spiritual fulfilment of ‘the second coming of Elijah’. Not all prophecy is to be interpreted literally, and certainly not by the theory of double fulfilment!

The Bible student has to be open minded and capable of differentiating between literal and spiritual fulfilment without presupposition or bias.

This is also a prerequisite when interpreting prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ!

The fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy was in the 1st century AD.

What do you think?

What Does the Bible Say About the End of the World?

IMG_3690

The Universe, Source: Softpedia

Introduction

Got Questions Website

I visited gotquestion.org recently and was reminded of a time when convinced by Dispensationalism’s view of the ‘end times’.

Got Questions promulgate Dispensationalism’s teaching that the millennium reign will begin at the Second Coming of Christ with Heaven and Earth being destroyed by fire or nuclear explosion at the end of the 1000 years.

The following question caught my attention, although I was dismayed by GQ’s answer.

‘What does the Bible say about the end of the world?’

Since I no longer hold GQ’s ‘end times’ view, I thought it unlikely I would agree with the answer. Considering GQ is a high profile website, in my opinion, the answer was stereotyped and inadequately thought through. Surely, when answering a question about mainstream Christian doctrine it would be wise to qualify the answer with ‘we at GQ believe’ rather than give the impression their answer is the only one.

A Quote from gotquestions.org

‘With over 4,900 answers to frequently asked Bible questions published online, approximately 75% of the questions we are asked already have answers available to you instantly.’

The emphasis on ‘available to you instantly’ highlights a desire to pander to a society that demands immediate results. For example, if someone is sincerely seeking Christianity’s answer to an important question, an ‘of the shelf’ answer is not always sufficient. I will attempt to explain why I believe it lacked substance.

The End of the Elements

G Q Answer (a): ‘The event usually referred to as “the end of the world” is described in 2 Peter 3:10: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Response: Many scholars assume Peter’s ‘elements’ [stoicheion] belong to this material and physical world, even although there is no precedent in the Scriptures for doing so. The Greek ‘stoicheion’ means ‘elements, rudiments, or principles’.

In the King James Translation, ‘stoicheion’ appears seven times and never implied the classical elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. Consistently, ‘stoicheion’ was associated with the political and ecclesiastical constitution of the Jews, the elements, rudiments, or principles of Old Covenant Israel.

A Quote From John Lightfoot (1602-1675) Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations

2Peter 3:10 ‘Then shall appear the ’sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2Pet 3:10, The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut 32:22, Heb 12:26 and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Col 2:20 and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses”’

‘Stoicheion’ in the Scriptures

1) 2Pe 3:10 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements [stoicheion] shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

2) 2Pe 3:12 KJV Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements [stoicheion] shall melt with fervent heat.

Peter did not describe the utter destruction of the classical elements of this world; he proclaimed the end of the Old Covenant Age. On closer examination, ‘stoicheion’ defined the elements, rudiments, or principles of the Jewish polity.

3) Gal 4:3 KJV Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements [stoicheion] of the world.

The Galatians were previously in bondage to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Judaism.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:3 ‘The elements of the world – A mere Jewish phrase, éñåãé òåìí äæä yesodey olam hazzeh, “the principles of this world;” that is, the rudiments or principles of the Jewish religion.’

4) Gal 4:9 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements [stoicheion] whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Paul warned the Galatians not to return to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Judaism’s bondage.

5) Col 2:8 KJV Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments [stoicheion] of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul warned the Colossians against those who spoil by philosophy and vain deceit after the elements, rudiments, or principles of the world, and not after Christ.

6) Col 2:20 KJV Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

The Colossian believers in Christ were dead to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Jewish ordinances.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:20 ‘Wherefore. Ye died with Christ, died to the world, and to its rudiments, or fleshly ordinances. See note on Col_2:8 and Col_2:12. Why, then, as though belonging to the world, should you be subject to obsolete Jewish ordinances?’

7) Heb 5:12 KJV For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles [stoicheion] of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The writer to Hebrews admonished believers for their lack of maturity in the Scriptures. The solution was a return to the first elements, rudiments, or principles of the oracles of God.

The Day of the Lord

G Q Answer (b): ‘This is the culmination of a series of events called “the day of the Lord,” the time when God will intervene in human history for the purpose of judgment. At that time, all that God has created, “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He will destroy.’

Response: It is an untenable statement to claim the Day of the Lord is a series of events. Dispensationalism promotes an imminent physical return of Christ in judgement, followed by a 1000 years reign also ending in judgement.

Act 2:17-20 KJV And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy within the lifetime of his generation… Joel 2:28-32  Initially fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in AD 30 and culminating in the great and notable Day of the Lord in AD 70.

‘it shall come to pass in the last days’ Peter confirmed his generation lived during the last days; we are not living in last days today.

‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh’ The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was evidence of Christ on His heavenly throne in the last days before the impending Day of the Lord.

‘before that great and notable day of the Lord come’ Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled by the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews, at the return of Christ in AD 70.

Act 2:40-41 KJV And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Not only did Peter’s generation witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were given the opportunity to repent before the imminent ‘great and notable day of the LORD’. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to preach repentance to his audience if the judgement didn’t apply to them?

The Timeline of the Day of the Lord

BG Q Answer (c): ‘The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium. During these 1000 years, Christ will reign on earth as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33) and ruling in peace but with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15).’

Response: 2Pe 3:10-12 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night’ Peter used the same metaphor as Jesus when He described His return to His generation… Matthew 24:34

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God’ Peter had Christ’s imminent return in mind when he encouraged believers to live accordingly. The coming day of God was the Second Coming of Christ.

1Pe 4:7 KJV But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Watch unto prayer’ Peter said the end of all things is at hand, meaning within his generation’s lifetime and called the saints to ‘watch’.

Paul’s Timeline

1Th 5:2-6 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.’ Paul also used Christ’s ‘thief’ analogy when he taught the events leading to the Second Coming of Christ in his Epistles to the Thessalonians. He encouraged them to remain alert and ‘watch’ for the Day for the Lord. Therefore, the Second Coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord are synonymous; thereby, the Day of the Lord is not a series of events extending to the end of the 1000 years. To add to Dispensationalism’s dilemma, if Paul taught the rapture theory, why did he insist they watch for the Day of the Lord, if the rapture was seven years earlier?

Mat 24:42 KJV Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come’ Christ used the ‘thief’ analogy when He described His return in judgement on Old Covenant Israel. During the same discourse He prophesied all these things would happen to His generation and advised them to ‘watch’.

Rev 16:14-15 KJV For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Behold, I come as a thief ‘ On this occasion, Jesus repeated the ‘thief’ metaphor and indicated His return at the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which was the siege of Jerusalem not the so called ‘Battle of Armageddon’… Revelation 16:19

Jesus, Paul, and Peter, described the Second Coming on the Day of the Lord. The context of the Epistles and the Olivet discourse provided encouragement and warnings about the signs leading to Christ’s return. Most importantly, the common denominator was the ‘thief’.

By identifying the timeline, it is apparent Peter’s destruction of Heaven and Earth was not literal. Peter did not describe the end of the universe he referred to the end of the principles of the Old Covenant world of Israel. The New Covenant Age was fully established when the Old Covenant passed away with the burning of the temple and Jerusalem.

Obliteration by a Nuclear or Atomic Reaction?

G Q Answer (d) First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Response: What magnitude of nuclear explosion would destroy the universe?

New Heaven and New Earth

G Q Answer (e): ‘Then God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), which will include the “New Jerusalem” (v. 2), the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness, which will come down from heaven to the new earth. This is the city where the saints—those whose names were written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 13:8)—will live forever. Peter refers to this new creation as “the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

Response: Rev 22:10 KJV And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

‘for the time is at hand’ If the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Book of Revelation was at hand 2000 years ago, the ‘New Heaven and New Earth’ and ‘New Jerusalem’ must also be fulfilled.

At Christ’s return in judgement, the New Covenant Age was fully inaugurated, and synonymous with the New Heaven and New Earth and Christ’s Everlasting Kingdom.

Conclusion

My Answer to the Question

Within mainstream Christianity there are sincerely held yet differing views concerning ‘the end of the world’, this is not unusual with ‘end times’ doctrine. However, regarding the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His wonderful salvation, agreement is crucial to fellowship and the Faith.

Some scholars teach the end will come after Christ’s future return and His 1000 years reign. Others including myself, believe the world will not end, because the translation from Greek to English does not mean this physical world, but the end of an Age.

For example:

Mat 24:3 [King James Version] And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mat 24:3 [Youngs Literal Translation] And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

It stands to reason that we should be good stewards of this beautiful world, but should Christians be perplexed over the end of the world? Absolutely not, Paul wrote the following about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Col 1:16-17 KJV For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they bethrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Heb 1:3 KJV Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

‘Hebrews 1:3 ‘And upholding all things by the word of his power – That is, by his powerful word, or command. The phrase “word of his power” is a Hebraism, and means his efficient command. There could not be a more distinct ascription of divinity to the Son of God than this. He upholds or sustains all things – that is, the universe. It is not merely the earth; not only its rocks, mountains, seas, animals and human beings, but it is the universe – all distant worlds. How can he do this who is not God? He does it by his word – his command. What a conception! That one simple command should do all this! So the world was made when God “spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast;” Psa 33:9. So the Lord Jesus commanded the waves and the winds, and they were still Mat 8:26-27; so he spoke to diseases and they departed, and to the dead land they arose; compare Gen 1:3. I do know how people can “explain away” this ascription of infinite power to the Redeemer. There can be no higher idea of omnipotence than to say that he upholds all things by his word; and assuredly he who can “hold up” this vast universe so that it does not sink into anarchy or into nothing, must be God. The same power Jesus claimed for himself; see Mat 28:18.’

We can rest assured that whatever the future holds, we know who holds the future.

What do you think?

The Last Days According to the Epistles

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Still Life with Bible, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) / Source: VG Gallery

Introduction

Recently, I received challenging comments from a visitor to my article ‘Jesus Fulfilled the Promise of His Second Coming’. The posts contained 41 verses of Scripture in opposition to my ‘end times’ view, with a significant number from the Epistles. Hence, I will attempt to support my view by quoting the writers of the Epistles.

Three important facets for consideration:

(a) Translation (b) Tribulation (c) Transition

Translations of the Bible

The King James Version

Translating the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into English has been a formidable task for translators. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the scholars who dedicated their lives to translating the Scriptures for our enlightenment.

Personally, I favour the King James Version, but I acknowledge there are inconsistencies that require careful scrutiny. My second choice is Young’s Literal Translation.

Robert Young’s Literal Translation

Robert Young was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1822 and died in 1888. He was a member of the Free Church of Scotland, formed in 1843. His printing company first published his Literal Translation of the Bible in 1862. Many scholars have paid tribute to his literary works.

Robert Young, by diligence and dedication, uncompromisingly highlighted discrepancies in previous translations that may have curtailed our understanding of the Scriptures relating to the ‘last days’.

The Greek ‘Mello’

A prime example of inconsistency in the King James, as well as other versions, is the translation of the Greek ‘mello’, which literally means ‘about to’. Fortunately, Young was articulate throughout his translation, thereby allowing us further insight for our deliberation.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘G3195 μέλλω mellō mel’-lo – A strengthened form of G3199 (through the idea of expectation); to intend, that is, be about to be, do, or suffer something (of persons or things, especially events; in the sense of purpose, duty, necessity, probability, possibility, or hesitation): – about, after that, be (almost), (that which is, things, + which was for) to come, intend, was to (be), mean, mind, be at the point, (be) ready, + return, shall (begin), (which, that) should (after, afterwards, hereafter) tarry, which was for, will, would, be yet.’

King James Concordance

‘Mello’ appears 82 times in the King James Concordance, translated five times only as ‘about to’ and never in verses associated with the ‘end times’.

It is of course essential to consider context, audience relevance, and prevailing circumstances when using a literal translation. Nevertheless, if the literal meaning of ‘mello’ (about to) was not applicable on 77 occasions out of 82, then surely the New Testament writers would have chosen an alternative Greek word to convey what they meant.

Providing we are willing to lay aside presupposition and take a fresh look at the Epistles, we will find an even greater level of expectation concerning the ‘about to’ return of Christ.

‘Mello’ the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles

Examine closely the following Scriptures and notice the sense of immediacy in Young’s translation. I use the word immediacy since Dispensationalism has sabotaged the meaning of imminency.

In Young’s version, Matthew wrote the Son of Man ‘is about to’ come in judgement. Similarly, Luke proclaimed the Olivet discourse prophecies ‘are about to come to pass’. Paul taught the resurrection was ‘about to’ take place!

A prolonged delay of 2000 years in Christ’s return was never on the agenda as far as Jesus and the Apostles were concerned. Did they get it wrong? Of course they didn’t.

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Mat 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Mat 16:27 YLT ‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work.

Luk 21:36 KJV Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Luk 21:36 YLT watch ye, then, in every season, praying that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Act 17:31 KJV Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Act 17:31 YLT because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead.’

Act 24:15 KJV And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Act 24:15 YLT having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous;

Act 24:25 KJV And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Act 24:25 YLT and he reasoning concerning righteousness, and temperance, and the judgment that is about to be, Felix, having become afraid, answered, ‘For the present be going, and having got time, I will call for thee;’

The Greek ‘Aion’

Another example relevant to understanding the Epistles is Young’s translation of the Greek ‘aion’, which literally means ‘age’, as in ‘period of time’.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘G165 αἰών aiōn ahee-ohn’ – From the same as G104; properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): – age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end). Compare G5550.’

King James Concordance

‘Aion’ appears 129 times in the King James Concordance, 72 times translated ‘ever’, 37 times ‘world’, but never ‘age’. This is extremely misleading.

In Matthew 13, Jesus endorsed John the Baptist’s warnings of pending judgement on Old Covenant Israel. During the parable of the sower Jesus revealed the timeline of the fiery judgement, not at the ‘end of the world’, but at the ‘full end of the age’ (aion). What ‘age’ was Jesus referring to? Many scholars contend Jesus taught the judgement was at the end of the world, while others the end of the so-called ‘Church’ Age. Taking into account the correct translation of ‘aion’, along with context, audience relevance, Old Testament prophecy, and the predictions of Jesus, the ‘age’ was obviously the Old Covenant Age.

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Mat 13:39-40 KJV The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Mat 13:39-40 YLT and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is a full end of the age, and the reapers are messengers. 40 `As, then, the darnel is gathered up, and is burned with bbfire, so shall it be in the full end of this age,

Mat 24:3 KJV And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?.

Mat 24:3 YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

Tribulation

The Apostles wrote the Epistles during a time of intense trials and hardship for believers ‘in Christ’. Not only persecution and martyrdom during the rule of Emperor Nero, the Church also suffered persecution instigated by Jewish religious leaders in a vain attempt to extirpate Christianity. Consequently, Judaisers infiltrated the Church to undermine the teachings established by the Apostles, hence the need for the Epistles. These letters were a source of encouragement, guidance, and teaching, while believers awaited the fulfillment of Christ’s ‘Olivet’ prophecy.

Considering the early Church was going through such tribulation, it is inconceivable to imagine the Holy Spirit would have inspired the Apostles to emphasise Christ was ‘about to’ return, knowing the event was 2000 years in the future.

Consider the following Scriptures:

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Rom 8:18 KJV For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Rom 8:18 YLT For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us;

Rom 8:39 KJV Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 8:39 YLT  nor things about to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of god, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Transition Period AD 30 ­- AD 70

A further aspect to take into consideration concerning the Epistles is the 1st century Church lived through a period of covenantal change, described by some scholars as the Transition Period, or the ‘already, but not yet’. This was a work in progress during Christ’s ministry on Earth until the judgement in AD 70.

The Day of the Lord

Destruction and Dispersion

The Old Covenant Age was about to come to a catastrophic end, culminating in the great tribulation and judgement at the return of Christ.

Old Covenant Israel began with a 40 years period of wandering in the wilderness, and about to end with a 40 years period of subjugation and suffering.

At the end of the transition period, the saints inherited the fulness of salvation and the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile, the Romans destroyed Old Covenant Israel and scattered abroad the survivors.

The Day of Redemption

Salvation

Heb 1:14 YLT are they not all spirits of service—for ministration being sent forth because of those about to inherit salvation.

Through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1st century believers were ‘heirs’ of salvation, the ‘already, but not yet’. Believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit who was their guarantee while they awaited with anticipation the fulness of their salvation.

Heb 9:28 YLT so also the Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many, a second time, apart from a sin-offering, shall appear, to those waiting for him—to salvation!

The Old Covenant high priest was a type and foreshadow of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest.

On the Day of Atonement, Old Covenant Israel did not celebrate the forgiveness of their sins for that year until the high priest returned to the congregation from the temple Holy of Holies. The Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype, returned from the heavenly Holy of Holies to complete the redemption of the saints. Hence, the Epistles encouraged the faithful to continue through trials and persecution until the Day of Redemption.

Many scholars take issue with this view, insisting that believers still await the consummation of their salvation, even after 2000 years and counting!

1Pe 1:4-6 YLT to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in the heavens for you, 5 who, in the power of God are being guarded, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, 6 in which ye are glad, a little now, if it be necessary, being made to sorrow in manifold trials,

In his Epistle, Peter wrote to believers their trials would strengthen their faith and build character, bringing praise, honour, and glory, to Christ at His return.

According to Peter the great and the terrible Day of the Lord was at hand… Acts 2:19-20

The Kingdom of God

Mat 21:42 YLT Jesus saith to them, `Did ye never read in the Writings, A stone that the builders disallowed, it became head of a corner; from the Lord hath this come to pass, and it is wonderful in our eyes. 43 `Because of this I say to you, that the reign of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth its fruit;

Jesus told the Scribes and the Pharisees, because of corruption, desecration of the temple offerings, and their rejection of the Messiah, they had forfeited the Kingdom.

To a certain extent the saints already reigned with Christ during the ‘already, but not yet’. However, during the transition period those ‘in Christ’ awaited patiently the casting out of all Christ’s enemies that they might inherit the fulness of the Kingdom of God.

Peter identified in his Epistle the nation to inherit the Kingdom, the elect remnant along with the Gentiles who were ‘graffed’ into the Israel of God.

Consider the following Scriptures:

King James Version vs Young’s Literal version

Heb 6:5 KJV And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Heb 6:5 YLT and did taste the good saying of God, the powers also of the coming age,

Heb 10:27 KJV But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Heb 10:27 YLT but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery zeal, about to devour the opposers;

Conclusion

Rev 21:3 and I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, ‘Lo, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them—their God,

In the New Covenant Age, ‘born again’ believers have received their inheritance, salvation, and the Kingdom. Today, those ‘in Christ’ have an abundant entrance into the Holy of Holies, and fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What do you think?

We are not Living in the Last Days

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The Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple, James Tissot (1836-1902) / Source: Brooklyn Museum

Introduction

Mat 24:3 YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

Christ’s return was to take place at the culmination of the last days of the age. It is therefore important not only to identify the timeline of ‘the last days’, but also ‘the age’ in question.

The last days neither referred to the end of time, nor to the end of the world. The last days were those prior to the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70. Allow me the opportunity to explain.

Old Testament Prophecy

Moses and the Last Days

Moses prophesied to the Children of Israel that in ‘the latter days’ of the Old Covenant Age ‘evil will befall you’. Old Covenant Israel would provoke the Lord to anger.

Daniel and the Last Days

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed the kingdoms that would rise before the appearance of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The final empire prior to Christ’s advent was the Roman Empire, and Daniel referred to that period as ‘the latter days’.

In my opinion, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’. The Church does not need to ‘hold the fort’ desperately awaiting rescue from the enemy’s horde. Christ defeated His enemies exactly as and when He said He would.

Joel and the Last Days

Joe 2:28-31 KJV And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Joel’s prophecy was to Old Covenant Israel about events ‘before the great and the terrible day of the LORD’, which took place in AD 70. His prophecy is irrelevant to Christians 2800 years later!

Did Jesus Live During ‘the Last Days’? Yes He did!

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Last Days

Heb 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

The Epistle to the Hebrews c AD 65 preceded the culmination of the Old Covenant. The waxing away of the Old Covenant reached its consummation with the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

The writer to the Hebrews said they were living at the ‘end of the world’ (King James Version), or ‘the full end of the ages’ (Young’s Literal Translation). Thereby, meaning the end of all the preceding ages.

For Example: Antediluvian, Postdiluvian, Patriarchal, and Old Covenant.

Obviously, he was not alluding to the end of this physical world, he was writing to Jewish believers who lived during the Old Covenant Age.

The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews consists of a series of comparisons between the Old Covenant passing away and the arrival of the New Covenant that will never pass away.

Paul and the Last Days

1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

Audience relevance is vitally important, Paul told the Corinthians ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.

Peter and the Last Days

1Pe 1:19-20 WNT but with the precious blood of Christ–as of an unblemished and spotless lamb. 20 He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him,

Peter wrote that Jesus shed His precious blood ‘in these last days’, further affirmation that Jesus lived during the last days!

John and the Last Days

1Jo 2:18 YLT Little youths, it is the last hour; and even as ye heard that the antichrist doth come, even now antichrists have become many–whence we know that it is the last hour;

This Scripture presents a considerable problem for Dispensationalism since there are no hours after ‘the last hour’, how can a millennium on earth follow after the last hour?

John narrowed the imminence factor to the last hour when he wrote 2000 years ago saying the last hour had come, yet there have been many hours since; he was actually referring to the last hour of the Old Covenant Age not to the end of time.

Fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy

The Acts of the Apostles and the Last Days

Act 2:16-20 KJV But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

‘this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel’ Peter quoted Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost to warn his fellow Jews that they were living in the last days prior to ‘the great and notable day of the Lord’.

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’ Even although Peter declared his generation was living in ‘the last days’ and witnessing the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, Dispensationalism insists this prophecy is still unfulfilled. To proclaim the Day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, and we are living in the last days of the so-called Church Age, is to fly in the face of Scripture. If Dispensationalism is correct, then the whole 2000 years of the ‘Church Age’ has consisted of the last days of the ‘Church Age’!

Consider also, since Jesus’ ministry was during ‘the last days’… Hebrews 1:2, then ‘the last days’ existed prior to the Day of Pentecost! Therefore, the last days clearly applied to the Old Covenant Age.

The Day of Pentecost was not the birthday of the Ekklesia; it was the empowerment thereof, by the coming of the promised Holy Spirit… Joel 2:28-32

Conclusion

The 1st century Church lived during a transition period called ‘the last days’. Not until that period ended would the saints enter into the fulness of the New Covenant Age.

Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;

Christ’s generation lived during the Mosaic Old Covenant Age and eagerly awaited the Messianic Age. The New Testament describes these two ages as ‘this age’ and ‘the coming one’.

Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension occurred during the last days of Old Covenant Israel, which ended at His return with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.

There is no doubt we live in troublesome times and war is not outwith the realm of possibility. However, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’ described in the Bible.

Jesus kept all His promises!

What do you think?

What Jesus Meant by ‘This Generation shall not Pass’

Christ Among the Doctors Albrecht Durer  (1506) 1471-1528 Source Olga's GalleryChrist Among the Doctors, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

Why is Matthew 24:34 difficult to understand?

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:34 NET I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

‘Verily I say unto you’ According to Thayer ‘verily’ in the KJV means ‘at the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth’.

Jesus used ‘verily’ to emphasise His statement. Having the attention of His audience, He continued with a simple declaration concerning His generation.

A Quote from the New English Translation Notes

Matthew 24:34 ‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.’

‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret’ Seriously, what an embarrassing admission. The New English Translation Notes provide an example of how far some commentators will go to defend their eschatological view. In my opinion, Matthew 24:34 is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to misinterpret!

There is an option the NETN failed to mention; Jesus meant exactly what He said! Did Jesus use ambiguous language? Of course He didn’t. The New Testament writers clearly understood Him; all anticipated His return within the lifetime of their generation.

‘This generation shall not pass’ Jesus spoke specifically to His generation. Surely, if He had a gap of 2000 years in mind, He would have said so.

Scholars have a dilemma, in particular, those who misrepresent ‘this generation’ to accommodate their futuristic ‘end times’ scenario. Many conveniently downplay this prophecy, however, by so doing they also discredit Jesus our Prophet. The repercussions of acknowledging the simple truth of this prophecy would cause the theological world insurmountable embarrassment.

A Quote from C S Lewis

‘But there is worse to come. “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”‘

It is a pity C S Lewis did not consider the Preterist view rather than conclude Jesus got it wrong!

Jesus’ Generation was ‘This Generation’. Let’s examine other portions of Scripture that include the phrase ‘this generation’

This Generation is Like Little Children

Mat 11:16-19 YLT `And to what shall I liken this generation?it is like little children in market-places, sitting and calling to their comrades, 17 and saying, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance, we lamented to you, and ye did not smite the breast. 18 `For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners, and wisdom was justified of her children.’

In this portion of Scripture Jesus admonished the Jews of His generation for their vacillation and fickleness… Luke 7:31-35 He said they were like ungrateful children because nothing pleased them. Was Jesus applying this statement to a future generation? Of course not.

A Faithless and Perverse Generation

Mat 17:17 KJV Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

It is obvious Jesus was speaking to His generation, He rebuked those in His midst… Mark 9:19

This Generation is Evil

Luk 11:29 YLT And the multitudes crowding together upon him, he began to say, This generation is evil, a sign it doth seek after, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah the prophet,

Without question, ‘this generation’ applied to Jesus’ generation, the ‘sign of Jonah’ was a type and foreshadow of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus was Rejected of This Generation

Luk 17:25 KJV But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary

Luke 17:25 ‘But first must he suffer many things – As the cup of the iniquity of this people shall not be full till they have finally rejected and crucified the Lord of life and glory, so this desolation cannot take place till after my death.’

This Untoward Generation

Act 2:40 KJV And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

In Acts 2:40 Peter’s audience was Jesus’ generation.

All These Things Shall Come Upon This Generation

In Matthew 23, Jesus condemned the Scribes and the Pharisees, obviously those of His day. He warned them the ‘judgement of gehenna’ was about to come upon them. He did not assign this judgement to a generation thousands of years in the future.

Required of This Generation

Jesus prophesied judgement on Old Covenant Israel. In AD 70, the Roman Army decimated His impenitent generation.

This or That Generation

Mat 24:34-35 KJV 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

‘This generation’ If Jesus had a future generation in mind, He would have said ‘that generation’ or ‘the generation’ instead of ‘this generation’.

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away’ Referred to the passing of Old Covenant Israel.

‘my words shall not pass away’ The words of Jesus concerning the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God will never pass away… Mark 13:30-31; Luke 21:32-33

If we take Jesus at His word, we must accept He categorically stated His return would be during the lifetime of His generation.

The aforementioned examples concerned Jesus’ generation, therefore, it is imperative we remain consistent when interpreting Matthew 24:34.

A Quote from Joseph Benson’s Commentary

Matthew 24:32-35 ‘…….”It is to me a wonder,” says Bishop Newton, “how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other distant event, when it is said so positively here in the conclusion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation. And it seems as if our Lord had been aware of some such misapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis to his affirmation, Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away — That is, heaven and earth shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words; the frame of the universe shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words shall not be fulfilled. In another place, (Matthew 16:28,) he says, There are some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see, the Son of man coming in his kingdom, intimating that the event would not take place immediately, and yet not at such a distance of time but that some then living would be spectators of the calamities coming upon the nation. In like manner, he says to the women who bewailed him as he was going to be crucified, Luke 23:28, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children; which words sufficiently implied that the days of distress and misery were coming, and would fall on them and their children. But at that time there was not any appearance of such an immediate ruin. The wisest politician could not have inferred any such thing from the then present state of affairs. Nothing less than divine prescience could have foreseen and foretold it.” ‘

Luke 11:50-51 ‘The blood of all shall be required of this generation – That is, shall be visibly and terribly punished upon it. And so it was within forty years, in a most astonishing manner, by the dreadful destruction of the temple, the city, and the whole nation…’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

The Parable of the Fig Tree

A Quote from Hal Lindsey

‘When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the ‘fig tree’ put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was ‘at the door,’ ready to return.’

The Mount of Olives was a source of figs as well as olives, summer was near when the leaves appeared on the fig trees; it was inevitable the trees were about to bear fruit. The signs prior to Christ’s return in judgement were as dependable as the leaves on the Fig tree.

Luk 21:29 KJV And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

The parable was not specifically about the fig tree, Luke included ‘all the trees’. Jesus emphasised the certainty of the signs leading to the end of the Old Covenant Age, not to the restoration of the Israel in 1948.

Mat 24:33 KJV So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know it is near, even at the doors.

Audience relevance – Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The timeline – ‘it is near, even at the doors’.

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

When Matthew 24:32-34 is read in context, it is patently clear Jesus had His generation in mind.

The phrase ‘This generation’ appears 16 times in the gospels, and always concerning Christ’s generation.

The Predictions of Jesus

When Jesus answered the questions asked by His disciples, He constantly responded:

‘and ye shall hear’

‘when ye shall see’

‘then shall they deliver you

‘and shall kill you

‘when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation’

Jesus spoke directly to His disciples when He prophesied the fulfilment of impending events.

The End of the Age

Dispensationalism teaches Matthew 24:3 is pertinent to our generation!

To understand the ‘end times’, it is crucial to identify the ‘age’ the disciples were anxious about. They lived during the Old Covenant Age, and the Prophets had foretold the judgement during its ‘latter days’… Deuteronomy 31:29; Daniel 12:6-13

Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;

What ‘age’ would have been of most interest to them? Surely, the one in which they were living. Their immediate concern was the end of the Old Covenant with its consequences… Hebrews 8:13 After all, why would they ask about the end of the glorious coming age?

It is inconsistent to accept all the Scriptures examined refer to Jesus’ generation except for one, Matthew 24:34.

Simply put, those who misrepresent the meaning of ‘this generation’ do so because their eschatology demands it.

Is there a 2000 years ‘gap’ or have scholars made a ‘gaffe’?

What do you think?