An Introduction to Eschatology According to the CAGED Method:
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org ; Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. When THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Is used it is by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. None of the aforementioned translations are used in greater extent than that of which has been put forth by the publishers. No entire books are quoted, no more than 1000, 500 and 250 verses (which were never in the originals) are quoted, respectively and no more than 50 percent of any book is quoted.
But maybe I should; 1 Corinthians 6!
I love Irony because it is usually quite ironic. The forward of a book is always written after the composition of the book has ended. I have not deviated from that pattern. Also, the forward of a book is almost always written by someone other than the author but he blew his chance to get in his two cents. This gives me the opportunity to explain a few things, in hindsight, in a forward.
When friends and family find out that I have written a book, the most asked question isn’t “why” but “what made you want to write?” They want to know the trigger and the underlying and contributing factors which pushed me to sit down in this chair and type but not the purpose–I will give you both briefly in reverse order because the reason I write and the prompting are found in the book. The purpose in writing this book is to encourage a daily reading of Scripture using a good hermeneutic because the trigger to writing this book was listening to many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers preaching and teaching with a bad hermeneutic. I am afraid though that it is much worse than this.
I don’t want to ironically rewrite this book in the forward because I am already redundant enough within the body of the composition but the fact is I cannot keep up with the current, “last-days,” counter-productive, “christian” culture. I wanted to be fair and balanced with this book and gave pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers ample opportunity to get out in front of this book by asking for interviews so that they could explain their positions by providing me with context concerning that which they teach. Only one had a “helper” respond and no interview was granted. After I finished writing this book, the pastor to whom I reached out first and most wanted to interview, who had one of his associates respond to me without granting an interview, gave a sermon on the exact passage of which I wanted him to exegete for me as I asked questions. I see now why I was not allowed to ask questions– I would have exposed him, badly.
I prefer to write rather than speak, the reason will be revealed soon. I am a loser, a Bible school dropout, with less followers to my blog than this pastor has associate pastors. I have baptized no one but he has baptized thousands this year alone. Honestly I don’t know whether to rejoice or be sorrowful because I don’t know in whom or to what they were baptized because if he developed his theology in the same way he developed his eschatology, he did not do it properly. That is, when he quotes Jesus, he doesn’t actually quote Jesus but rather uses a few of the words Jesus used and then sneaks his own words in as if Jesus actually said them. This is why I prefer to write because the reader sees the quotation marks. If I quote Jesus without proper punctuation, indicating which are my words rather than the words of Jesus, it gives the completely wrong impression.
Let me quote him quoting Jesus from Matthew 24:3-5; “escalation.” Not only did this pastor add “escalation,” imposing it into the text, he kept repeating it over and over. It is utterly ironic to me because I actually emailed this pastor, asking him for an exegesis on Matthew 24 but a few weeks later he preaches an eisegeses on Matthew 24. That is, I wanted him to draw out that which Jesus spoke to his disciples but this pastor read into, and imposed on the text, his own narrative. I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s why I asked for an interview and why I wrote this book. Remember the “fall of man” which was actually the fall of woman? Eve added her own words to what God said when the devil asked her, “did God really say?” Yes, it is Ironic that I entitled this book after the words of Satan in the garden but it was the trigger to our fallen nature, we always impose our beliefs and understandings onto God’s words rather than let God’s words change our minds. This book began as an indictment against those who rip things out of context but what is worse is those who add to what was written…even though John warned against this in Revelation.
In Matthew 24 Jesus never used any word even close to escalation but said “you’ to his disciples over 15 times– it is not about us. Don’t let a false narrative steer the ship but draw out the author’s aspiration to his audience by a careful consideration of the context. I want you to read your Bible and to do it thoroughly– it’s worth the effort. It is the way to know God and know his plans. Again, I don’t want to rewrite this book but explain why I wrote and what influenced me to write– bad Biblical interpretation. We want to re engage the Bible with a good hermeneutic and good interpretation.
I don’t expect to change your mind but I hope God’s word will. Before you read think of all the religions of the world and even all the different denominations of Christianity which disagree with each other. Think about preaching the gospel to ISIS and remember we have all been brainwashed into something at some point. My friend Eric tells a story where he watched his two sisters vehemently argue over the Bible concerning a certain religious practice. After they argued for a good, long while, Eric realized that he might not know the answer but what he was absolutely sure of was that at least one of his sisters had to be wrong– probably both. We always think it’s the other person. The only way to settle it is to see what God actually said.
Unless you’re learning for yourself you only know what you have been taught.
Please pardon any typos or grammatical errors (which should be able to be overlooked by the context) and especially backwards quotation marks. To be sure, some are to keep me humble but others are to keep me really humble. I confess– after three years, I still struggle navigating the minutiae of this website. Their our sum thing eye just cant finger out. Eye no, eye no, ewe half Ben their two– eye here ewe.
I come up with compound-words and phrases that probably mean more in my mind than they do on the page. Nevertheless I believe that I should explain some of the words, terms and phrases I have coined along with other words we commonly use so that they are better understood and that the average reader doesn’t take offense to some of my quips and statements. My desire is unity but unity often comes with a cost. Many definitions have changed over time which probably shouldn’t have, I don’t attempt to change definitions but highlight them, using words in an attempt to better define words.
Apocalyptic address; a genre within certain compositions with which we are entirely unfamiliar. The definition will develop as the book is read; an unveiling utterance.
The CAGED method: Is a hermeneutical tool in which the Bible should examined. It’s an acronym for: Context, Aspirations of author to his audience, Genre, Examples and Divide rightly the word of truth. It will be developed and more thoroughly defined as you read.
Dogmatic dispensationalists (I was forced to coin this term because I don’t want to offend all dispensationalists but those on the outer fringe): Those who let a form of dispensationalism, which demands Israel returning as a nation restarted God’s prophetic clock, steer the ship of the Bible above and beyond some semblance of balance. They are not average dispensationalists but see the need for weekly prophecy updates and are rude and obnoxious to anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. Some are “date setters” others actually condemn date setters but still demand a “very soon” rapture of the church, based on Matthew’s account of the Olivet Discourse but not Luke’s. Most make much money peddling the product of a very soon rapture rescue that according to their dogma, should have happened years ago. Again, they are not average dispensationalists but on the outer fringe yet are extremely popular in social media– I don’t disparage the casual dispensationalists and give money monthly to some average dispensationalists but not to the dogmatic dispensationalists– their dubious dogma has been disproven. This also will be better defined as you read.
Ego-circular reasoning: egocentric + circular reasoning. Everything revolves around them because they see everything revolving around them. Again, it will be developed.
Sublime string; common themes woven throughout Scripture.
Living-dead; the real living dead, not zombies but Christians who have passed from this realm to be with Christ. As Jesus said concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God is not the God of the dead but living. Yes, Abraham was a Christian.
First-century phenomenon; Stuff we tend not to see but was seen in Acts ; foretelling of the future, speaking fluently in other languages unknown to the speaker, being healed simply by walking in the shadow of an apostle, apostles for that matter, the office that is, etc..
Prophecy pundits: One half step further on the ego-circular reasoning scale than the dogmatic dispensationalists. They have daily prophecy updates and many proclaim to be prophets themselves. They have millions of followers even though they all promised in Jesus’ name that Donald Trump would be reelected in a landslide– they were wrong, they are almost always wrong, they didn’t see Covid coming, they didn’t predict mask mandates, but what they have promised hasn’t happened. Still millions follow them. If we lived in Old Testament times, they would be stoned.
Church; a bad translation of both local ecclesiastical gatherings and the universal gathering of God’s people– However we are stuck with it. The reader will have to distinguish between church buildings and attendance to them, and God’s true called out assembly by considering the context. Ekklesia or ecclesia in Greek and Latin respectively. God’s people, kingdom, true Israel, both in whole and in part. The universal gathering in time and space but also the local gatherings.
I think everything else you will pick up as you go along if you consider the context.
Chapter One: Purposeful Persecution/ Dodging Dubious Dogma
“As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end.” -Bob Marley; and alluded to as the narrative pretty much throughout the entire Bible.
This book appeals to common sense and a common reading of the Bible. The New Testament was written in Koine (coy-nay) or common Greek, not Hebrew, by fishermen, a tax gatherer, a physician, carpenters and a former Pharisee. Koine Greek was a lingua franca, a bridge language, shared by many peoples and cultures in the first century. It should be read as such. Although the themes, stories, signs, sayings, miracles and parables are quite uncommon, the writers wrote simply so that they would be understood. They didn’t write in chapter or verse and had limited resources such as the length of scrolls. When reading Old Testament quotes therefore, the context of those quotes and their correlation to the current composition being read must be considered. The reader should not read anything into the content but draw out what was written. Often times this is simply a matter of turning the page. Psalm 22 juxtaposed to Jesus would be the greatest example of these things. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” One must compare and contrast Psalm 22 to not only Jesus on the cross but Jesus after the cross.
This book is written to be read over 21 days, on coffee breaks, lunch breaks or any other short break one has during the day. Each chapter is short enough to be read within 15 minutes. Some can be read in under 5 minutes. Approximately a third of this book is quoted or alluded to Scripture and much of the book is a paraphrasing of Scripture. The rest of the composition is an attempt to point out the Biblical narrative, especially in regards to eschatology; the study of last things. Most pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers agree to certain degree that the final state of humanity will be much like the first state– Paradise. What we argue about, and cannot come to an agreement over, is the narrative about what takes place between the cross of Christ to the full fruition of the paradise restored. I think every Christian believes that the Bible tells us the narrative, therefore it is essential to examine the Bible to understand the stated narrative. This sounds redundant and obvious but here we are.
In the beginning God placed man and woman in a garden of paradise. But then the woman and then the man sinned and that began a new beginning and an end, parenthetically. Many beginnings have begun but when Jesus died on the cross and God raised him from the dead, this was the ultimate of new beginnings. However, there is nothing parenthetical about God’s progressive plan. From before the beginning, God had it all mapped out. Many covenants came and many went, but the ones that endure, God made with himself. Nations come and nations go, but nothing stops the building of God’s kingdom. Let me repeat this; read the Bible and see that the only covenants which last are the ones God made with himself. That is when god says, “I will” he does but when man swears, man doesn’t.
“Why are the nations in an uproar, And the peoples devising a vain thing?”
The words of Psalm 2 reverberate in my mind as I look at the headlines. At the risk of the appearance of ripping this verse out of context; I write; hopefully with an equal number of asnswers as questions, though this book is full of questions. Most are meant to stimulate the mind as is the title. Nevertheless Psalm 2 and its context will be our sub-theme, constantly running as white noise in the background.
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain. I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” (NIV)
Why is this century the century of persecution? Is it because we are in the last days and because men and the world are getting worse and worse? Is it because we are in the last days or the very last days of the last days so that the love of people has grown cold? Or is it the exact opposite; persecution has ramped up against Christians because they are a threat to the world and even the gates of hell? Is persecution itself a sign of gospel growth and progress? Are the nations attempting a vain thing?
Let me rewind a bit so that you will understand where my mind is. The loudest Christians in the west proclaim an imminent (and by imminent they mean that it could happen and should happen before we take our next breath) rapture of the church. They have many “reasons” for this but one of the most prominent is that they see the world waxing worse and worse. They read the headlines, without considering the context of the Bible or the historical progression of the world, but rather their own ego-circular reasoning, and assume that Jesus is coming to rescue the church from this wicked world, based upon scenes and scenarios which have also happened throughout history. One hundred years ago there was war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes and persecution but here we are. For writing this, I am dubbed a mocker and a scoffer– more on this later.
The problem with this is that if persecution exists and is increasing, Christianity exists and is increasing– maybe not in our backyards but in every other landmass in the world, especially in Asia and Africa. One doesn’t persecute that which is dying, they simply let it die, laughing all the way. Persecution is performed on the growing organism that threatens the status quo. One doesn’t persecute something that is ready to disappear but that keeps getting in one’s way. We see this in the current cancel culture; the moment one backs down, goes quietly or apologizes and accepts their cancelation, the cancellors move on to the next target. Persecution against Christianity continues because of the bravery of brothers and sisters who will not back down but embrace Christ and his cross. These beloved brothers and sister of bravery are a threat because the truth is in them which is able to expose wicked people, bringing light into darkness.
We are not only in the century of persecution but in the century of Pentecost, metaphorically speaking– thousands a day are coming to Christ, according to many reports. Again, Christianity is growing globally even though it may be dying in the West, according to statistics. While I believe in science and data, more than most, I have never been polled as to the state of Christianity. How do the statistics really work? Because I left a church as a member and have not sought membership in another church, am I among the statistics of the dying church? Also, how can we count the underground church in Asia, the Middle East and Africa? While we are given great numbers of converts coming to Christ, would we not assume that these are under reported rather than inflated because of persecution? How many statistical, Christian bean-counters are there? How many actually reach the underground churches? What do we really know about gospel growth and can we use it to measure anything?
Where are we in God’s pre-recorded history? What does the Bible really say concerning the end of the world? For that matter, does the Bible actually say anything about the world ending? Does the Bible not tell us, in the words of Jesus, that Jesus came to save the world in John 3? Or is it possible that I am ripping John 3:17 out of context?
This brings us to the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions, taught traditions and presuppositions. We keep the Bible caged by what we think, feel and have been taught. We let others explain to us what the Bible says rather than reading it for ourselves, considering the context, aspirations of the author, genre, examples and dividing rightly the word of truth but most importantly we need to read the Bible to turn the page. Many contextual questions are answered by merely turning the proverbial page– simply by continuing to read. The truth is that a verse here and a verse there is no way to read the Bible or be taught about anything. It usually does more harm than good. Joel Osteen and the mega-church pastors are proof of this. Have you ever wondered why mega-church pastors are rich but our brothers and sisters in other countries are literally dying for the gospel? Perhaps we have a lot to learn from the Scriptures– perhaps a passage from the Lord’s brother; “Come now you rich, weep and howl…” Rip that out of context! I just did.
I know good, solid pastors, preachers of the word of God, who are honest– who know the true definition of persecution, and who readily admit that they have never experienced true persecution. But how can this be? Paul wrote to a young Timothy, “Indeed, all who want to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Therefore these pastors cannot be wanting to live godly lives. I hope your sarcasm tachometer is reading off the charts as I write keyboard in cheek. The question is, was Paul’s writing situational or an absolute, timeless truth, written in stone? Or are we ripping Paul’s letter to Timothy not only out of context but also out of time and space, opting for external optics rather than the contextual application? Do most Christians observe the Sabbath which was written on stone? We need to read the Bible as it was written and not little, tiny chunks at a time.
Nevertheless persecution is real and prevalent on this earth. Why? Is Paul’s penning a prescriptive package which pertains to the people of God everywhere for all time? One must consider the context, ascertain the author’s aspirations to his audience, jive with the genre, explore examples and then divide rightly the word of truth. Hopefully this will be done well enough in this book so that Paul’s intentions in writing to Timothy will be well understood.
Persecution does have a purpose and a result, a cause and effect. Persecution is caused by gospel growth and persecution’s effect is gospel growth– one paradox of many which we will see. Jesus came to transfer the world from darkness to light, to expose the world of its sins, to show the people of earth that they are sinful and wrong and need to change their minds. However people rarely change their minds and if they do, it is rarely without some, or much, pushback. And here I sit, writing in an attempt to change minds. That’s the beauty of this book, it’s meant to change the minds of those who have claimed to have had their minds changed– pushback is expected. I don’t expect persecution per se, I’m not that arrogant and believe persecution is truly life threatening and not merely a cancel culture, but I do expect shunning and to be cancelled by the counter cancel-culture. I expect to be mocked and called a mocker but that’s fine. I live like a king compared to those who suffer real persecution. Those who are persecuted and martyred will live like kings soon enough but maybe not as soon as we think or in the way in which we think.
The goal of this book is to encourage daily reading of the Bible in large chunks, 2 to 3 chapters at least, taking notes, while also examining other parts of the Bible with relevant words and themes, keeping everything in its context. The way in which this book will hopefully encourage this is by tackling many things we believe to be true but may not be. Most of our traditions are not timeless truths but man made premises based upon verses ripped from their context. If one is willing to read this relatively short book with somewhat short chapters, the hope is that the reader will see things never seen before, based on the CAGED method, seeing the themes and Old Testament imagery fulfilled in the New Testament, thus piquing the interest of the reader to examine these things more closely. If one were to feverishly flip through their Bible trying to prove me false; I’d even consider that a win. Best of luck to those. I write for free therefore my only motivation is as stated, for every Christian to read the Bible, considering the context in which it was written, letting the Bible interpret itself. I desire unity without being offensive but if that is not the case, so be it.
In these so called “last days” (of what I am not sure), I have heard many Christians say, or have seen them post on social media, “science doesn’t care about your feelings,” in reference to LGBTQ claims and some Covid19 claims. But what if I turned the table on them and said, “the Bible doesn’t care about your feelings?” I am sure I would offend them. Have you ever tried to preach the gospel to a Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon or an orthodox Jew? Have you tried to reason with a BLM activist or the utterly ironically named, “antifa?” In a similar way, Christians can be brainwashed too. Certainly some by pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers but many are more likely to be brainwashed by bad books, bad hymns and verses ripped out of context. After all, how much do we truly retain from a sermon? But we memorize the hymns because they have meter, rhythm, often rhyme and that’s what gets us into trouble. What rhymes with king? Sing rhymes with king therefore we get, “Hark the herald angels sing, ‘glory to the newborn King.'” Yet the Bible recorded the following: “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'”
Very admittedly, this is trite, trifling and trivial, and only a small example of how our traditions develop but it is an excellent example because of the reaction I always get when I say, “angels don’t sing.” Emphatically I’m told, “of course they do, they sang at the birth of Jesus!” According to a song or two they did but it is not what Scripture states. Again, it’s a very small thing but highlights our hypocrisy. We believe we know what the Bible says but rarely read what the Bible says. Unless you are learning for yourself you only know what you have been taught– whether by song, sermon, book, YouTubers or VeggieTales.
Why do I bring up the small and trifle rather than the essentials? It is because if we miss the small, simple stuff, written explicitly yet we gloss it over, how much more will we miss the larger narrative of the Bible? If we miss the minutiae and the minutiae develops the narrative, how can we understand the narrative? The narrative is important because it should frame our world view and sear the supremacy of Jesus in our minds. As you read I only ask one thing, repeatedly, put aside preconceived notions and presuppositions and have an open mind. I do not write to convert prophecy pundits to partial preterists but to those who have been promised an imminent rapture rescue for generations, one of which should have happened generations ago. There is no converting the prophecy pundits; Donald Trump is not the president as they promised yet they still feed us lies. They rely on other “inspiration” than the Bible and when they do occasionally use the Bible as a source, the texts they use are ripped from their context. They keep the Bible caged by their wild imaginations and interpretations. Also, they use ego-circular reasoning.
Enter the CAGED method: you can unlock the Bible from its cage by carefully considering the context. Context is king and all other hermeneutical principles follow the context. Who was writing or speaking to whom? What was the historical context? What was happening at the time? Look at time indicators, audience relevance, genre, other examples and then divide rightly the word of truth.
The only thing I continually ask of the reader is to have an open mind. Implore the Spirit for God-given discernment. Take off the shoes of taught traditions and leave them at the door. Enter the house having shed your presuppositions and preconceived notions. Let not I but the Bible steer the ship of understanding. This sounds like five things but it is one thing in essence; open your proverbial heart in order that the words of God and not Satan, Eve, Job’s stupid friends or the Joel Osteens of the world, will mold your mind.
Chapter Two: Pieces of a Puzzle on a Picnic Table in the Park.
Losing weight is simple– eat a lot less and exercise a lot more. I wrote that it was simple, I didn’t write that it was easy. In the same way the study of the Bible is simple but it is not easy. One must put in the time and avoid distractions. If missing the minutiae means deviating from the development, it is imperative to realize that one, as in fishing, learning a foreign language, putting together a large jigsaw puzzle or mastering a musical instrument, must be disciplined and put in the time it takes. While the word of God is certainly “living and active,” it is not understood a verse at a time because it wasn’t written a verse at a time (a verse a day would get one through Genesis in four and a half years and one would most likely die before getting to the New Testament). Another thing to remember is that chapter and verse breaks were added later for ease of reference, each book was meant to be read as a whole, or at least understood as a whole. Again, always remember the genre as well and look for subgenres. The apocalyptic address differs greatly from the historical narrative– we will come back to this. The Bible developed over a millennia yet we are the fortunate ones who have the completed and compiled Scriptures. We must take it as a whole, in its particular pieces and contexts, not missing the minutiae but seeing the sublime string.
Picture putting a puzzle together in the park on a picnic table without a picture of what the puzzle should look like. What one does have are various sketches of parts of the puzzle from different sources, a squirrel running across the table knocking pieces off, wind blowing leaves which are falling on the table. Also present is a man playing frisbee with his dog and the frisbee accidentally hits the table, knocking more pieces to the ground, which the dog then eats. This is how most people come up with what they believe about eschatology and the last days, from pieces scattered, missing, cloaked and veiled, forcing a fitting of pieces together which don’t go together. Worse yet, it is how many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers put together their sermons and Bible studies. They’re distracted by other pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers– by books written rather than the book written and zooming in on a particular passage or concept without zooming out to see what the rest of God’s word says about the concept. And all of this while trying to meet the needs of the congregation; at least the good ones. Others are too busy raising and counting money. The worst have so much money, they no longer have to count it. The study of the Bible and eschatology should be according to a hermeneutical tool such as the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics. It should take time and not be accompanied by extra Biblical sources, at least not at first. It takes time, without distractions, and it takes dedication. If one is not willing or even eager to put the time in, it is no wonder they fall for all kinds of dangerous dogmas. The Christian must set aside distractions and have a good chunk of time with the Lord and his story= HISTORY.
It’s why a great many people call self Bible study “quiet time” or “devotions.” Many mega-church pastors are preaching like they’re putting a puzzle together on a windy day in the park with 90 percent of the pieces missing. Even if they manage to find two or three pieces which fit together, they still are missing the big picture. More often than not, they force pieces of the puzzle together which don’t belong together, by ripping verses out of context, thusly creating a picture of which the Bible never intended. Take the time to see the context develop in your quiet time; turn the page: be devoted to learn the truth which is usually mind changing.
One of the most ripped out-of-context and misinterpreted passages in the Bible is nearly the entirety of 2 Timothy 3. Most evangelicals, by far, believe that the world waxes worse and worse because of a glossing over of this text, missing the minutiae, not being patient enough with Paul to let the minutiae develop into sound doctrine. I fully admit that Paul is long winded (something of which I am familiar) in his description of evil men and this makes us miss the minutiae and develop our own doctrines. The antidote to a mind which meanders, like mine, and is unable to stay focused (even Twitter tweets are taken out of context), is to temporarily remove that which causes one to stumble, the parenthetical, then reinsert it back into the context. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Watch:
Paul, writing to Timothy; “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money…And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth…But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, as also that of those two came to be…evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” Look again and notice the tense; parse the passage and notice Paul’s aspiration to Timothy. “And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose [present tense in the middle voice in Paul and Timothy’s time] the truth…But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, as also that of those two came to be.” Paul’s point to Timothy was that very evil men were about to come, ones like the two who opposed Moses but that they wouldn’t gain much traction or make much progress, like the two who opposed Moses. Paul is not telling Timothy about the end of the world but the end of the age– we will return to this.
Yes, we have put aside the important parenthetical periphery, the description of the decievers but not because it isn’t important but because it can distract, and we did so also to see the greater development. It’s nothing against Paul but our own short attention spans and taught traditions. Removing the deeds of those wicked men didn’t change the context but highlighted it. Paul was not telling Timothy about a far-future folly but what he could expect in the “last days.” This of course begs the question, “the last days of what?” We will get there but first notice that the last days also cannot go on in perpetuity because Paul uses a time indicator–“they will not make further progress.” Paul knows that these men are but a blip on the radar yet a noticeable blip. They will come to Timothy’s time, wreak some havoc and then they will soon be found false. But what do we think? We think that they made 2000 years of progress. We think that the world has gotten and will get worse and worse but that is not what Paul wrote. Paul wrote that evil men and imposters, like the two men who opposed Moses, will wax worse and worse, in the last days, which can neither be in perpetuity nor in the far future because of the situation presented as, and promised by, Paul to Timothy, that those evil men will not make further progress but will be found false. Set aside disbelief for now and see if this narrative develops by minding the minutiae. Prophecy pundits also love to rip Paul’s first letter to Timothy out of context and it will be examined soon (in case your mind is meandering there). But first, we have more ripped out-of-context verses in 2 Timothy 3 to examine.
Much of the following is the fault of the translators who actually did an incredible job with a very difficult task– Koine Greek can be cloudy and it is apparent that they did stumble a little bit here: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
For argument’s sake, let’s suppose that this is 100 percent true, at face value, that all the Scripture, every single word, is inspired by God and useful for teaching and rebuke. Let’s put that to test. Job 2:9b “Curse God and die!” Ah the inspired words of God! Yes, I am being very sarcastically sophomoric but for a good reason. How can I teach someone by quoting, “curse god and die?” I need the context but have given none. Many of our modern-day pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers approach the Bible in this way, ripping verses out of context and thus not considering the context, genre, aspirations of author and certainty don’t explore relevant examples. Joel Osteen sits on the mountain top of ripping verses out of context. He told millions of people that God has a sense of humor by quoting a tiny, itty-bitty morsel of Psalm 2 and ripped it completely out of context, making the passage actually antithetical to the context. God certainly has a sense of humor, that is not my argument. The objection I have is that in Psalm 2, God is not r.o.t.f.l.o.ling or even tee-heeing– it’s a mocking laughter at the vaingloriousness of the rebel nations. God is scoffing at the futility of those opposing him. It has very little to do with God’s sense of humor, especially as put forth by Mr. Osteen, who has created a proverbial cottage industry of ripping pieces of verses out of context to people-please. Prophecy pundits do the same. Psalm 2 keeps reverberating in my mind. Why are the nations devising a vain thing?
Job, while an epic, long poem (which is redundant my millennial, and whatever the next generation is called, friends), is also a historical narrative. Job’s wife did tell Job to curse God and die and her statement made it into the Bible. But did God inspire her to say it? What about all the stupid stuff that Job’s friends said, was that inspired? I know there are those who would want to argue with me that it was– because “All Scripture is inspired by God…” But was this Paul’s aspiration to Timothy in writing that? What was the context? Is our translation absolutely accurate? I can feel the pushback as I write but the Bible doesn’t care about my feelings on pushback, I must press on. Understandable then is the question– how can we trust the Bible if it is not inspired by God, or; God breathed? However this is the wrong question because it is neither what I am suggesting through this writing nor what Paul wrote– we miss the minutiae and therefore miss the meaning. Obviously the Lord had to dictate, in some form or fashion, the historical narrative to the writers who may or may not have been present during those days. Nevertheless, God did not breath the words of the devil in the historical narrative of the fall in the garden. The title of this book is a play on the words of Satan to Eve, remembering that she responded by adding her own understanding to God’s words. Personally, with my own feelings, all of this should go without saying. Paul was not telling Timothy about the historicity of Scripture which is accurate but the trustworthiness of the words of God and how they combat evil men and imposters. The men who opposed Moses are perfect examples of accurate, God-breathed historicity but not God-breathed deceptions from evil men. It’s why Paul used them as an example. Think about it, consider the context. Paul used two men as an example, the two men who opposed Moses and then disappeared into oblivion, only mentioned again as an example to Timothy. Moses made much progress but the other two didn’t. Paul told Timothy to rely on the inspired words of God to combat evil men and in so doing, Timothy would make progress, like Moses but the detractors and deceivers would not. And never forget that the first superstar, Moses, never even made it to he promised land alive in the flesh because rather than speak to the rock as instructed he struck it twice in anger and frustration. Moses didn’t regard the Lord as holy and was barred from entering the promised land. You are probably thinking, “Yes, I never quite understood that.” This is because we don’t let the Bible interpret itself. In 1 Corinthians 10 we are told that the rock was Christ. Christ was stricken once and the water of the Spirit flowed. Put that on the back burner for now but let it simmer as you read.
Think about the exchange of which we read between Jesus and Satan in Matthew chapter 4, where the devil tempted the son of God in the wilderness after Jesus went 40 days and nights without food. Satan misused and misconstrued the Scriptures, taking them out of context but Jesus countered with the context and the devil left him. Were the temptations of the devil inspired by God? They couldn’t be because Jesus (God in flesh) countered them. Rachel stole an idol, hid it and lied about it– was her lie God breathed? Of course not, “God cannot lie,” but the recording of the incident was given from God. Joseph’s brothers lied to Jacob about selling him into slavery, did God inspire the lie? He did not and yet, Joseph told his brothers that what they intended for evil God intended for good. We have to look at Matthew 4 because it is the crux of context considering if even in short bursts. But before we do, search your subconscious and admit to yourself your greatest weakness. Honestly, right now pause your reading and in your mind think about the sin most easily committed in your flesh. Don’t worry, the devil can’t read your thoughts– what would the devil tempt you with that’s a guaranteed victory on his part? (by the way, this is an exercise and not theology, the devil will never come to you in the same way he came to Jesus in the wilderness.) Admitting what the devil could offer you to get you to sin, read Matthew 4 with that in mind.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.”‘”
The devil is crafty but Jesus is God. Notice first that the devil went after the immediate need of Jesus; food. But also notice the context and allusions. Jesus, like Israel, spent 40 units of time wandering the wilderness. When Israel wandered and whined in the wilderness, God miraculously fed them bread from heaven and gave them water from the rock; apparently the devil was combining the two. Essentially the devil is not only tempting Jesus but teasing him. Jesus provided for them in the wilderness, surely he could provide for himself. But as always, Satan missed the point and Jesus, probably on the edge of death from starvation, tells him the point. This means, the devil misconstrued what he knew about Israel in the wilderness. Then the devil uses scripture applied wrongly to get Jesus to jump from the temple. Jesus responded with the correct application of Scripture. I don’t want to gloss over this but will move quickly for time’s sake; the devil dared Jesus to show him his power and authority by quoting scripture; “He will give his angels charge concerning you,” which not-so-ironically they did. Nevertheless this was very tempting but Jesus responded appropriately, considering that he waited a long time to deal the devil his death-blow. But the last temptation, which seemingly comes out of nowhere, is the greatest temptation of all but it comes with what would be the greatest sin of all.
“Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.”‘ Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
Remember the temptation of the devil which you would be unable to resist? Think about it; why would Satan offer to relinquish the nations to Jesus if Jesus would only fall down and worship him? This was the greatest temptation with which one could tempt Jesus because he came to buy back the nations of the world; Satan knew this. Jesus was at the point of falling down as it was and all he had to do to get the nations back from the devil was to let go and worship him. But Jesus knew the plan, knew the sacrifice which is eternal and the covenant between God and God and that God alone is worthy of worship. Keep this in mind because the nations are plotting a vain thing.
The better reading of 2 Timothy 3:16 would be, “Every Scripture that is God-breathed is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” This is even more evident when considering its context and the genre, which is a personal letter from Paul to Timothy concerning his life as an young elder to the elders, in the last days (it may sound ironic but it’s the truth). Yet we still wonder, the last days of what? Contextually speaking, when did Timothy live? What was the historical context? Were the Pharisees still treating the followers of Jesus as Jesus promised they would, with cruelty and contempt? Were they still worshipping in the temple and sacrificing animals? The narrative of the Bible is quite clear that while the New Covenant had come, the Old Covenant wouldn’t die until Jesus finally and fully intervened. Perhaps I am getting way ahead of myself. Yet if it could be managed to set aside preconceived notions and presuppositions and the Bible was left to interpret the Bible, one should be able to see that it’s plausible, if not probable, that the last days were the last days of the Old Covenant. Even logically this makes more sense than 2000 years of last days where things on earth have changed immensely and dramatically but slowly. More on this later.
Paul also wrote to Timothy in a prior letter; “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…” most prophecy pundits, dogmatic dispensationalists and every other of the eschatological arguments stop here and call everything that they don’t believe or disagree with a “doctrine of demons.” But look at the continuing context of the composition; “men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
I suspect that most Christians don’t know the qualifier of those falling away from the faith in the last days, namely; “men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” Historically we know from the book of Acts that the Judaizers forbade many foods based on the “oldness of the letter” of the Law, as Paul explained numerous times. In Colossians 2 Paul wrote; “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” Certainly there is application for today but this was a situational scenario in which people were persuaded to abstain from certain foods. It was particularly a first-century phenomenon. There had become a battle between orthodox, old-school, Jewish people and the converted Jews and Christian Greeks. Context is King! This was a specific, first-century phenomenon and not about the egocentric 21st century.
Sure, we have PETA, and veganism is quite popular– BLM leaders want to do away with the nuclear family but they do advocate marriage for anyone to anything. Yet look at the context, notice that Paul was very specific. Like we will see in many other passages, the author is extremely specific in the minutiae. Explore examples in Paul’s letter to Romans, to Ephesus, Galatia et al. especially including the context of 1 Timothy and it is clear that Paul is writing about the Judean and Pagan cultures of the mid first-century, as was the apostle John. Soon will be the looking at the introduction to the book of Revelation. That is, the looking at John’s introduction in Revelation is near, After all, this writing is about eschatology and the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics. Hopefully you will understand my dry humor later.
When the soon looking at Revelation begins in this book, which is near, it will become evident to the astute observer who has left their presuppositions at the door, that most people put together Revelation like a puzzle on a picnic table in the park, in the wind and in the rain. The vast majority are missing the picture on the front of the puzzle package. They operate without the basic facts– they start in the middle and not the border and corner pieces. Because of their lack of borders and firm corners, they don’t work within the parameters set forth by John. They must explain away John’s introduction and greeting because before they even begin to read Revelation their mind is already made up. They have already begun to assemble the puzzle with pieces that don’t fit. The entirety of the Bible is the picture on the cover of the puzzle box– Revelation is useless without the the rest of Scripture.
We want to walk away from the picnic table (a term I have heard is now considered racist– etymology people!), and not be like the rest of the world but carefully consider the context and let the Bible demonstrate how the pieces fit, inside, away from the wind and rain of our presuppositions and preconceived notions. Clear the tables of our minds and clear the table of the puzzle pieces, starting over, beginning with the corner pieces laid out explicitly in John’s opening statement. Methodically we want to piece together the puzzle while looking at the picture on the box. Interpret Revelation through the filter of Scripture, especially the Old Testament prophets but also the Law. Watch for the genre and take the common, straightforward writing literally but perhaps the symbolism and metaphors should be taken as such?
Putting a puzzle together is simple but again, it doesn’t mean it is easy, especially when we have been told how to place the pieces by the prophecy pundits. Put those pieces of pride aside and look at the prescriptive package with fresh eyes. Clear the table before you read the Bible and let the Bible speak by considering the context, not the prophecy pundits. Begin with borders and corner pieces and let the easy and straightforward passages develop the more difficult passages. Start with Genesis and not Revelation 20. Have a firm foundation of the narrative before you attempt to understand the apocalyptic address. Now let’s go against my advice and work backwards.
Chapter Three: Context of Coming on the Clouds
John begins Revelation; “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia…”
From the get-go, the jumping off, the beginning, we are given two enormous corner pieces as to how we should interpret the book of Revelation. First is what John saw and heard and wrote about would be taking place soon– we have time indicators. Better stated– they had time indicators; “John, to the seven churches that are in Asia… (author’s aspirations to his audience).” Unlike Daniel, who was told, according to the ESV, (the better translation of this text in my opinion), “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase;” John was told, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (ESV)
From Daniel’s day, which one can reasonably assume that at this point was towards the end of exile in Babylon, to the apostle John was at an absolute maximum of 700 years. Here we are, nearly 2000 years after John and now we think that the time is near– now, not then? It doesn’t make sense– its ego-circular reasoning. We believe that all the signs are here because we are living in the last days and we are living in the last days because all the signs are here. Are they? Here’s where we need to let go of the wheel of ego-circular reasoning and let the word of God steer the ship. Back to John’s letter to the seven, literal churches.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the land will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.”
We have much to consider and much to explore. However the steering wheel of the Biblical genre certainly seems to suggest that we start with one thread; one theme of which John developed–the Old Testament quote of coming on the clouds. We have already seen a difference between John’s vision and Daniel’s, as far as timing is concerned. Let’s now look at the stunning similarities, especially the phrase about coming on the clouds.
In Daniel 7 we read; “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
For a minute, notice Psalm 2, which has been on my mind recently and therefore is on in low volume in the background as I write and hopefully as you read. “Why are the nations in an uproar, And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed: [Or, Messiah] ‘Let us tear their fetters apart, And cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury: ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain’ I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.'”
The similarities are indeed interesting, such as the kingdoms and the dominion but we’ll come back to this– let’s stick to the “coming on the clouds.” Where else do we see this phrase– this theme? Let me ask a different question to narrow it down; according to Matthew, what did Jesus say that got him killed? Don’t get me wrong, they were going to kill Jesus despite his testimony. When reading Matthew’s account, it is clear that they sentenced Jesus to death before they charged him with a crime. Notice how they placed the proverbial cart before the horse: “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward.”
They sought to kill Jesus therefore they were trying to obtain false witness. I don’t know how many of the laws of Moses they broke that night but they broke the ten commandments more than Moses smashing them on the ground. It’s utterly ironic that they were in such a hurry to commit murder so that they wouldn’t break the Sabbath. Nevertheless, no false testimony could be found which would give them authority, under the Law of Moses, to put Jesus to death. Yet when Jesus spoke the truth, quoting Daniel 7, they had everything that they needed to put Jesus to death, according to their law and their minds but never on a Roman cross. Oh the hypocrisy of the high priest.
“And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ [or, Messiah; anointed one], the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.’ Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!'”
Even with all the false witnesses against Jesus, who like Eve in the Garden, twisted and distorted the words of the Lord– like Satan always did, it was the testimony of Jesus himself, on which they hung their hats for execution. Look again at those words.
“You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
Jesus was not promising that a far-future generation would see him coming on the clouds but that the Sanhedrin convened on that day would see him coming, soon on the clouds. Remember, this was rewarded with a death sentence. The aspiration of Jesus is obvious, one would never think that Jesus was talking about a far-future coming unless their mind was corrupted by presuppositions; the Sanhedrin didn’t. Coming doesn’t necessarily mean the second coming or final coming as it should be called. Notice Jesus threatened to come to churches; “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write…repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you” and; “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write…Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly.” We never want to assume facts not in evidence, such as, Jesus coming can only mean that his feet touch the ground. Ironically enough, most prophecy pundits would agree because they see Jesus meeting us in the sky but not coming all the way to earth during the alleged rapture. We will consider this in further detail soon, in the near future and not 2000 years from now.
Back to Daniel 7; “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened…I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
We’ve all heard, even from some of the most prominent pastors, phrases like, “what Jesus is trying to say here is” thus and such. Jesus didn’t try to say anything– he said– humans are the ones that don’t understand and some of this was by design– consider the parables. But when we consider the context, ascertain the author’s aspiration to his audience, jive with the genre, explore examples and then divide rightly, Jesus said to the Sanhedrin and the high priest that although they thought that they were judging Jesus, in an illegal trial, it was God who was judging them. This is not about a second coming of Christ but about the Christ coming to the courtroom of the Creator and to the throne room of the Ancient of Days. It’s the inauguration of a New Covenant and kingdom and the judgment against Judaism. With every blessing comes a curse.
Notice if you will the direction of the “coming on the clouds;” it’s up, to the ancient of days and not down to earth. Yet many insist that Jesus is referring to his second coming, physically that is, to earth on a cloud elevator. More troubling is that possibly even more believe that this is the rapture of the church. Maybe there is a rapture of the church and maybe not, we’re not there yet but clearly this passage is about the ascension of Jesus to the throne room of God, he goes up, in Acts 1, and subsequently judgment comes on apostate Jerusalem. This will be confirmed by sticking with the sublime string of “coming on the clouds.”
Notice Isaiah 19: “The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud, and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. ‘So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother, and each against his neighbor, City against city, and kingdom against kingdom.'”
The similarities are stunning, thus they are suggested as the sublime string.
Was the Lord going on the cloud to rapture Egypt? Was this the second coming? This is why we must let the Bible interpret the Bible and not the prophecy pundits. We mustn’t let others put pieces of the puzzle together for us. Obviously the Lord was coming to judge Egypt, the context is clear. Therefore as we let the Bible interpret itself, watch for the sublime string of similarities which are remarkable yet altogether ignored.
An examination of Matthew 24 is on the horizon but before Matthew 24 comes Matthew 23, and Matthew 22 and the whole book prior; a little context is needed in Matthew’s account as the minutiae develops divinely like no other book. Jesus was the son of David, the son of Abraham. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fled to Egypt, returned from Egypt, baptized by John who came preaching in the wilderness, tested in the wilderness for 40 days and never whined about food and drink, gave the true law on the mountain and followed Israel’s path, only perfectly. Upon entering Jerusalem and his temple, on a donkey as Zechariah prophesied, he found the temple to be a “den of robbers.”
Let’s see what the Bible says. “And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;” but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.'”
Jesus quoted Isaiah 56 and Jeremiah 7 but also alludes to Malachi. The context of these passages actually exclude dispensationalism. However I don’t want to go too far too fast. Nevertheless these passages need to be examined within the parameters of their context.
That was a quick parenthetical path from the theme of “coming on the clouds” so that we can build on the context a little bit (due to time restraints and information overload). However, the Old Testament quotes used by Jesus need their context explored to get the full picture– we will do that. Also, a question; Where else is seen a similar scenario of Jesus having a divine temper-tantrum? This one was at the end of his earthly ministry but John recorded a similar scene early in the ministry of Jesus in John chapter two, not long after Jesus changed worthless water into wonderful wine. Notice the similarities and the differences.
“And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.'”
I used to believe that John and Matthew were writing about the same situation but I also used to believe in a pretribulational rapture. After all, John and Matthew wrote more schematically and thematically than chronologically. However, using the CAGED method, it is obvious based on the time indicators contained in the context, John’s story was at least 2 Passovers before Matthew’s. Jesus didn’t come to his house once to cleanse it, he came a second time as well and used harsher language but it was on the third time that he destroyed it completely when the Sanhedrin and the generation of Jesus saw the one they had pierced coming on the clouds of heaven, like we saw against Egypt in Isaiah 19.
Let me back that up with the theme and then we’ll explore the why:
“And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.’ And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'”
Somehow, in some way, the coming on clouds, the toppling of the temple and the end of the age must be related, according to the disciples’ question, which was based upon the statement from Jesus; “Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left on another, which will not be torn down.” Notice also the time indicator in the disciples’ question, they want to know when these things will happen. But before we ask when, we want to ask why? Why did the disciples, who are yet to understand that Jesus will rise from the dead, not ask why but when? They may have been dirty fishermen and a tax collector but they were taught the Law and had been with Jesus now for three and a half years. What do we miss that they understood? Why did the temple have to topple, why did Jesus have to come on the clouds and why did the age have to end?
Because, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses shall everything be confirmed–” the Law and the prophets. From the curse of the flying scroll in Zechariah, written on the front and back, to the Ten commandments, written on the front and back, the Law and prophets both speak to this. In the next chapter we will explore one particular example of the “why?” Yet there are many. Especially in Isaiah, Zechariah and many minor prophets, the coming of the Messiah was twofold, a blessing and a curse. That theme is also found in Revelation. Revelation, as I have written in my blog, is a tale of two cities, the blessed and the cursed. But it’s also a tale of two women, the harlot bride and the virgin bride, the harlot being cursed but the virgin being blessed.
Remember that John began Revelation by writing that the time was near, to him and the seven churches, not us. Jesus was soon coming on the clouds to deal with the harlot bride, the cursed city, the old Jerusalem and the Old Covenant, the rotten house of which he came to twice before his crucifixion. Yet with every curse and every judgment there is a blessing and a rebuilding. Watch for this as you read.
Examine the Old Testament examples of coming on clouds and one will never see blessing alone but curses for some and blessings for others. Revelation is no different. The Law was no different. Way back in Genesis 3, it was no different– the curse came with a promise of a blessing and better clothes than fig leaves. More on this soon. First let’s break up the monotony and examine examples, types, shadows and allusions of Jesus coming but we will return to coming on the clouds.
Chapter Four: Determining a Rotten House
Let’s look at a little Levitical Law on Leprosy (say that three times fast– not so much because it’s a tongue twister but because it sounds really cool). You will have to bear with me because this sounds like a stretch and a manipulation of the manuscript, nevertheless we are given acute examples in The New Testament on how to interpret the Old Testament, such as, not muzzling an ox actually refers to paying wages to God’s workers. Not only this but the Old Testament also teaches us how to interpret both the Old Testament and the New Testament– let the Bible interpret the Bible. As an aside, I am not big on calling the Old Testament the Old Testament or calling the New Testament the New Testament. The Old Testament book of Malachi was written much closer in time to Mark and Matthew than it was to Genesis and Exodus and its themes are more closely related to the coming gospels even though it is about the law and priests. However Jesus came with a new covenant but this New Covenant was promised progressively throughout the Old Testament, even though the prophecy pundits proclaim otherwise. When we make the distinction between the Old Testament and the New, people tend to not see the continuity between the Testaments. Orthodox Jews don’t believe the New and many Christians ignore the Old. Nevertheless we’re stuck with it therefore we go with it, using it to our advantage but not making giant distinctions between Malachi and Matthew but as reference points– we want to take the Bible as the whole not two different and mutually exclusive Testaments. The Lord’s revelation throughout all Scripture and history is revealed by the continuity and not distinction. We want to let the whole of the Bible interpret the Bible– which it does, we simply have to read it, over and over. It’s very simple but it isn’t easy.
Therefore we look for the New Testament in the Old Testament books such as that of Leviticus and the Law of Leprosy. Not only in humans but also in houses and on walls. “The LORD further spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, ‘When you enter the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a mark of leprosy on a house in the land of your possession, then the one who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, “Something like a mark of leprosy has become visible to me in the house.”‘”
Notice two things; God put the mark and it’s like leprosy and not literally Hansen’s disease. This is further demonstrated by the color of the mark. Literal leprosy in humans was said to be bright and white; “The priest shall then look, and if there is a white swelling in the skin, and it has turned the hair white, and there is quick raw flesh in the swelling, it is a chronic leprosy on the skin of his body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; he shall not isolate him, for he is unclean.”
As for the house with leprosy we read; “he shall look at the mark, and if the mark on the walls of the house has greenish or reddish depressions, and appears deeper than the surface; then the priest shall come out of the house, to the doorway, and quarantine the house for seven days.”
“God’s not concerned with oxen, is he?” The dispensationalist declare that the bible is to be taken literally and by that they mean in a wooden, literalistic sense and not according to the literature’s genre. They say that this is true especially in prophecy. Problem; Paul didn’t even take the Law literally and neither did Jesus, the Author. Explore examples! While Joseph was literal, he was a metaphor. Isaac was literal but was also a metaphor; types and shadows.
Here is where it gets interesting; “And the priest shall return on the seventh day and make an inspection. If the mark has indeed spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall order them to tear out the stones with the mark in them and throw them away at an unclean place outside the city. And he shall have the house scraped all around inside, and they shall dump the plaster that they scrape off at an unclean place outside the city.Then they shall take other stones and replace those stones; and he shall take other plaster and replaster the house. If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house, after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place. Moreover, whoever goes into the house during the time that he has quarantined it, becomes unclean until evening. Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.”
For time’s sake we will forgo looking at metaphorical meanings of stones, outside the city, and the like but I would like to point out some points of interest. Simon Peter had his name changed to little stone by the chief cornerstone, Jesus. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees that God was able to raise up children to Abraham from “these stones.” Many more metaphorical meanings of stones exist in the Scripture. I only write to remind the reader that even Paul the former Pharisee didn’t take everything by the letter but by God’s intentions.
John 2 contains the following: “And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple [lit. house] those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘ZEAL FOR THY HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.’ The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple [lit. house], and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews therefore said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple [lit. house], and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple [lit. house] of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.”
Three Passovers later Matthew reports; “And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;” but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.’ And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant, and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF?”‘ And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and lodged there. Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, ‘No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.’ And at once the fig tree withered. And seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it shall happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.'”
Context is king! In speaking of the casting of a mountain into the sea, was Jesus being specific in an adjunct and abbreviated apocalyptic address with his disciples or alluding to struggles of the 21st century church? Was Jesus saying something explicitly specific to his disciples concerning their current situation or was he teaching a timeless truth to all believers about the metaphorical mountains in their lives, such as; debt, sickness or the bully at school? Notice the near demonstrative “this.” Jesus was speaking specifically about the mountain in front of them, the mountain on which the temple stood, of which he had now inspected twice, during the Passovers. We have read in Leviticus that if the house is found one more time to be leprous, it will be taken down stone by stone and thrown out of the city to an unclean place, perhaps a garbage dump called Gehenna. This description is almost identical to the testimony of Jesus about the temple toppling in Matthew 24. Yet it is also familiar with the testimony of Jesus concerning himself. In John’s gospel account we read that Jesus, as he was falsely accused of saying, didn’t tell them that he would destroy the temple and raise it up in 3 days but that they would destroy the true temple, himself but that he would be rebuilt in three days. It’s all a divine double entendre. Sin had to go, the temple had to go and Jesus was the only solution.
It’s more than a little ironic to me that following themes, or as I call them, the sublime strings of the Bible, reveal the verses of which we most take out of context. Jesus said to his disciples, “if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it shall happen.” Yet those who tell us that we need to take the Bible literally think Jesus said it to us concerning any metaphorical mountain. Watch as we continue to follow the sublime string and see what develops by minding the minutiae. Remember that Jesus has inspected his house twice and if he finds fault once more, according the Levitical Law, which Paul did not take in a wooden, literalistic way, he will tear the house down, stone by stone and cast the stones out of the city. Surely if the Law of Moses spoke of these things, the prophets did as well.
Malachi 3; “‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.'”
Notice the juxtaposition between the faithful and the unfaithful. Notice the good and the bad, the curse and the blessing and it all stems from Jesus coming to his house. It was prophesied in Malachi and found some fulfillment in Matthew. Jesus, our high priest, according to the book of Hebrews, has inspected his house twice, and things were not getting better but worse. On the first inspection Jesus called the house a house of merchandise but on his second visit he called it a robber’s den. The mark of leprosy was increasing. One more failed inspection and the house gets torn down. This means that Jesus must return soon to do the final inspection.
Notice Zechariah 5 for reinforcement; “Then I raised my eyes again and looked, and behold, there was a flying scroll. And he said to me, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.’ [about the size of a school bus; the point is it is enormous for a scroll] Then he said to me, ‘This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the entire land; everyone who steals certainly will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears falsely will be purged away according to the writing on the other side. I will make it go forth,’ declares the LORD of armies, ‘and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and destroy it with its timber and stones.'”
The house of the thief is the temple that was a den of robbers– it is sublimely simple.
There truly is a sublime string here; there always is. Little quips of pieces of passages were never God’s intentions. God wants his literate people to read the Bible to the illiterate, not to tune in to TBN. While it is true that the New Testament authors quoted small portions of the Old Testament, it was not to demonstrate how we are to read the Bible. They did this because the Old Testament was already written and there was no need to rewrite it but they used small portions to point back to particular passages. The New Testament writers were limited, not exactly like a tweet but they were limited by the length and cost of scrolls. Nevertheless they did not need to rewrite the Old Testament but enough to point the reader back to particular passages to develop the narrative. There is a narrative in the Bible and it all revolves around Jesus and not Israel or the temple but the true temple. Nevertheless the temple is in view. One temple is a leprous house and the other temple is Christ’s body, as John wrote in chapter 2 of his gospel account.
Notice the progressive, or, regressive narrative; Jesus, not a made up antichrist conglomerate, came to his house, as promised and found it to be lacking in its purpose and beginning to rot in John’s account. He then came to it a second time and found it to be absolutely abhorrent and a den of robbers rotting quickly, in Matthew’s account, as Malachi foresaw. But upon his ascension to the throne room and court of his father, Jesus saw the absolute wickedness of the house against his chosen ones. God doesn’t come to us in our strengths but in our weaknesses; ask Paul. It was in my weakest point that I realized that I could only find one compound word to describe the temple in 70 AD, after they killed the prophets and apostles sent by Jesus– rancidly-rotten. Read anything into this as you wish but search the scripture and it will be absolutely obvious. Everything happened exactly as Jesus said it would. Those attending the temple at that time personified Gehenna– dirty, rotten, rancid, stinking pile of refuse.
Chapter Five: Just Judgment against Jerusalem
In Matthew, Jesus entered his house, saw the rottenness and drove it out. “And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I will ask you one thing too, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?’ And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” He will say to us, “Then why did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From men,” we fear the multitude; for they all hold John to be a prophet.’ And answering Jesus, they said, ‘We do not know.’ He also said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things…But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.” And he answered and said, “I will, sir;” and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, “I will not;” yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The latter.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.'”
The last sentence is the summary and point of the parable which Jesus told them. Notice that it is the absolute aspiration of the author for his audience to see that the temple abusers, the audience, namely the chief priests and elders, received the following rebuke from Jesus: “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” As the context continues to develop, Jesus continues to clarify what’s coming (on the clouds).
“‘Listen to another parable. [Jesus said] There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.” And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?’ They said to Him, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES?” Therefore I say to you, [chief priests, Pharisees and other elders-‘ author’s aspiration to his audience] the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.’ And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. And when they sought to seize Him, they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet.”
Missing the minutiae means a misinterpretation of the manuscript. The word which Jesus used for “nation” is transliterated as “ethnos.” In most Bible translations, in most cases, the English word used for ethnos is “gentile.” However the context and grammar do promote the word “nation” being used. I would argue that nation or people-group is always the best translation of ethnos but the phrase gentile has teeth that bite and I believe that this is why it was used more often than not for the word ethnos. Let me boil it down quickly, the Jews thought that they were a superior nation to all other nations and many Christians today still agree with this thought but look at what Jesus said; “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a [people, a nation, a gentile folk,] producing the fruit of it.”
Here is where I must make a disclaimer that should go without saying; anti-Semitic attitudes are abhorrent. But the right-wing, conservative, Christian community, containing those in the dogmatic dispensationalists, pretribulational, premillennial camp, who have taught the alleged progressives what to do when losing an argument, insist that I am anti-Semitic. When people can’t stand on their own arguments, invariably they will try to shut down the discourse or debate by saying things such as, “shut up you’re lying” and “you’re a racist.” The left-wingers have perfected this but they learned it from the right-wing fringe. Let me rephrase and emphatically restate what should be obvious; antisemitism and all forms of racism are against God and the Bible, that was exactly the point Jesus was making. The Jewish leaders present thought that they had exclusive right to God and a bloodline inheritance to the kingdom of God. Wrong– Jesus had exclusivity and the bloodline; he was the seed of Abraham, according to Paul’s letter to the Galatians in chapter 3 and to the Romans in chapter 4. Not only this but Moses also made it clear that the Messiah would rule over the nations– “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.’ And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.”
We will come back to all of this but it had to be written in order that the reader would understand that I am not writing disparagingly against Jewish people, they were entrusted with the word of God– they were our fathers in faith, like Abraham. Yet Jesus spoke disparagingly against the Jewish leaders of his day, and the ones who came before them. Jesus was Jewish, all the apostles were Jewish, the entire church was Jewish for at least 3.5 years, as promised. Again, we will get back to all of this but because of some Christians wagging the finger, I have to get out in front of their “anti-Semitic” argument. Set aside any angst and look at what the Bible says. Because it gets worse for many of the Jews of that day and yet better for others. Curses come with blessings.
Continuing in Matthew, approaching the final Passover during the earthly ministry of Jesus; “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments. And they love the place of honor at banquets, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called by men, Rabbi. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.'”
Jesus continued to berate the scribes and Pharisees; “woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell [not son of Abraham] as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple [lit. house], that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full aof robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Jesus continues; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple [house] and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house [temple] is being left to you desolate!”
We may not understand all the charges Jesus makes against the Pharisees but the indictment is quite clear– Jesus is judging them according to their acts and not their words. He charged them with hypocrisy, conspiracy, robbery and murder, as prophesied in the minor prophets. They believed they kept the commandments but Jesus was clear, they did not. At this point one may remember Peter’s response to the council of Jerusalem that no one was ever able to keep to law– exactly right. Nevertheless the Pharisees and scribes believed that they did and Jesus didn’t. They were self-righteous but according to Jesus, that which they did was not righteous at all. We also notice the temple, or the house of Jesus, was discussed. As we continue to read the continuing context, remember that it is continuing context. Neither my words nor verse breaks or translators’ notes come between what we have just read and what we are about to read– follow the flow. I will help set it up by rewinding a bit.
“‘Therefore, behold, I am sending you [scribes and Pharisees] prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, “BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”‘ And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'”
The context continues as Jesus describes the soon judgment against Jerusalem but I pause here so that we take the time to digest all that has transpired in two days. Remember that Jesus came to his house for inspection the second time having found a mark or blemish the previous time, as he has this time, only now it has grown, even though he had cleansed it before. Now as he is leaving the temple after overturning the tables and confronting the Pharisees, his still-naïve disciples point out the temple and its surrounding buildings and direct Jesus to behold the beauty. But rather than agree with the disciples or disagree with the disciples Jesus says, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Remember the Levitical Law on a leprous house. The disciples acknowledge the aspirations of Jesus, the author to them, his audience, by their response. That is, they understood what Jesus was saying and simply wanted to know when the temple would topple and what would be the signs that indicated it would topple soon, thus ending the age of temple worship. And by that, the judgment coming against Jerusalem. Twice Jesus came to his house, on the Passover and twice he found merchants selling the sacrifices for profit, which is important to note because it was promised by the prophets (it would seem some things never change). And now Jesus is about to explain to his disciples the signs that will proceed his final coming of inspection (not his final coming) and ultimate destruction of the temple. Yet because of the awful translation of the KJV, where “eon” is transliterated to “world,” and because of translators notes, commentaries and because of prophecy pundits ripping verses completely out of context, not applying the author’s aspirations to his audience or exploring examples given in the Old Testament, we believe that Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the end of the world and not the coming judgment against Jerusalem and the temple and the end of the Old Covenant age. Unless you are learning for yourself you only know what you have been taught.
Oh tradition! It’s funny how traditions are only traditions if they fit one’s own narrative. It’s funny how we make the exact same mistakes the Pharisees did. We don’t draw out what the Bible states but read our own narrative into the Bible, much like the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes did. It is in our nature to put our presuppositions before the common reading of the Bible. We walk by sight not by faith. Keep watching as the context continues. Remember that Jesus has just left the temple, promising its toppling. Consider the context and watch for the time indicators and don’t read anything into the context, such as an increase of earthquake and famine activity because it is not found, but only that there would be earthquakes and famines, proved by the book of The Acts of the Apostles. Watch for specificity– Jesus was very specific with his language and did not paint with a broad brush all kinds of natural disasters or a deluge of deceptions. Notice also the language Jesus used when talking about the temple toppling. I love alliteration, which is obvious but don’t let my alliteration get in the way of understanding the truth. Temple toppling is poetic but does not do justice to the words Jesus spoke. Jesus was telling his disciples that not a single stone of his house, now their house, would be left in place. We’re seeing an utterly absolute destruction. So much so, that to this day, the exact location of the temple site is not known (in my opinion, they don’t even know the correct mountain). Also look for time indicators, see if you can discern a difference in times. Look to see if the things Jesus mentioned increase. Notice also that it is specifically a first-century, Jerusalem and Judea, regional event, easily escapable by simply leaving the region– or heading for the hills. Thus it can in no way be about a world-wide tribulation. See if you see the number seven. Draw out the context and don’t read anything into the context. Remember again the continuing context– The Lord has come to his house, as promised and found it to be leprous, casting out the money changers in his wrath. As he is walking away, the still somewhat naïve disciples point out the temple complex to him.
Jesus spoke to his disciples; “‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.’ And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
It took several revisions and rewrites of this book for me to stop here in the middle of the context, interrupting the flow. I was very hesitant to do this but I felt it necessary, eventually, to quickly point out that earthquakes and famines, wars and rumors of war, were the beginning of birth pangs. This in no way suggests an increase or an expounding of natural disasters. They were simply the beginning signs. The next set of signs is found in the continuing context. I will rewind a bit so that it is easily seen.
“In various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole [specific land area; not the world] for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, “Behold, here is the Christ,” or “There He is,” do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. If therefore they say to you, “Behold, He is in the wilderness,” do not go forth, or, “Behold, He is in the inner rooms,” do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place‘”
Notice no increase explicitly or implicitly is implied in the natural disasters. Notice it is a local event. Notice there is no number seven. Most importantly, explore examples! This generation cannot be the generation that sees the fig tree put forth its leaves, or Israel becoming a nation again as the dogmatic dispensational discourse teaches because in Luke’s account it is all of the trees. Luke also doesn’t include the abomination of desolation but says that Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. Admittedly we see some heavenly hyperbole here but it is nothing new to the New Testament. Our Old Testament tutor uses like language in its apocalyptic addresses. Many assume because the stars fall and whatnot that this could not have happened. However be realistic as you explore examples. These things have not literally happened because they cannot literally happen but are literary language borrowed from the Old Testament. They are metaphors as they were in the Old Testament against Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. Exploring examples is essential. We will come back to this and hit it hard in chapter 7.
Chapter Six: This or That?
As a lifelong but very part-time and a severely spurious student of Spanish, I have learned some of the ways in which Spanish is superior to English in its accuracy and some of the ways it is not. One of the ways, especially in Spain, it is superior is that Spanish has distinctions for the word “you,” as did ancient, Koine Greek. That is, Spanish distinguishes you, singular, between you, plural, as does Greek. Spanish, especially in Spain, takes it one step further and distinguishes between an informal and formal usage, i.e. Tú, Usted, Vosotros, y Ustedes. Spanish has more specific demonstratives and pronouns and degrees of nearness, while English essentially has this or that, these or those, here or there and I, you, he, she, we, they etc.. Nevertheless if in Greek, Spanish or English, the near demonstrative and the second person pronoun is the near demonstrative and the second person pronoun. For example; “all these [near demonstrative; plural] things shall come upon this [near demonstrative; singular] generation.” This is what Jesus said to that generation– his generation in the first century. “This” is the near demonstrative meaning the generation to whom Jesus spoke– it’s simple, literal grammar of which is ironically distorted by those who scream that we need to take the Bible literally. They insert their presuppositions onto the context and don’t take the common reading literally but rather use eisegesis, adding and imposing “the generation that sees the fig tree” into the context.
Back to the extremely sharp rebuke of the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 23; “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”
“You” is plural referring to his audience and this generation means the generation of Jesus, their generation. “This” is the near demonstrative and therefore cannot be a far-future generation. This is exegesis but the prophecy pundits proclaim that when Jesus said “this generation” in Matthew 24 it refers to the generation alive which sees the fig tree put forth its leaves– that is eisegesis. The prophecy pundits also proclaim that the “fig tree” is always Israel. Therefore, the prophecy pundits postulate, Jesus was speaking about a far-future generation– the one alive when Israel became a nation again. But that is also eisegesis and comes from a lack of exploration of examples. Not only this, but Jesus was answering that; his disciples’ question. It’s preposterous to think that Jesus answered them without mentioning a 2000 year hiatus on the generation which killed his messengers and scourged them in their synagogues. Look at the context. How can we be in the last days if Jewish leaders are not scourging disciples in synagogues? I would like to re-introduce you to the phrase: “first-century phenomenon.” Let’s see if it’s part of the sublime string. However, in the meantime, many misconceptions, misinformations and misinterpretations need to be exposed by an expository exegesis of examples.
Luke 21 reads; “And He told them a parable: ‘Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. Even so you, too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.'”
Always explore examples because they enlighten the reader to the truth. Also, when reading the Bible, begin reading at the beginning of a book and try to remember what you have read. Matthew 23 comes before Matthew 24 therefore the prophecy pundits, who claim that the present-day nation of Israel are God’s chosen people more than the Palestinian Christians, should have easily remembered that Jesus cursed the fig tree, promising fruit would no longer come from it again. Because of this, that doesn’t make sense. If Israel is the fig tree, she was cursed forever. They also neglect to notice essentially all of the parables of Jesus, especially the parable of the Vinegrower. So much so that a chapter of this book will be dedicated to the parables. Luke’s account doesn’t use only the fig tree but all the trees, therefore the puzzle piece of Israel becoming a nation again as a time indicator, based on unsubstantiated assumptions, is off the table. Again we see the specificity which Jesus used but the prophecy pundits illegitimately expound on this specificity. Earthquakes and famines, common to first-century Jerusalem, become hurricanes and tornadoes; did God really say? Deception of false prophets become any deceptions, ironically by false prophets. First-century Jerusalem is literally all over the page but the prophecy pundits are all over the page, metaphorically speaking.
Since Matthew 23 comes before Matthew 24, should we not let Jesus build on what he said in Matthew 23 in chapter 24, which was never intended to be a chapter but added later for ease of reference? Chapter and verse breaks are certainly helpful but they are also a stumbling block because they differentiate content that is actually continuing context. The context of Matthew 24 is that the Messiah, Jesus has entered his city and his temple and he has found it to have a mark and a blemish and not the mark of God on their right-hands and their foreheads even though they lengthened their tassels and broadened their phylacteries. Concerning righteous judgment, in Matthew 23, Jesus told the Pharisees “all these things shall fall on this generation.” Why then do we assume Jesus is saying something entirely different in just a few paragraphs time? We don’t know exactly how little time had transpired between the two statements of Jesus but given that the Mount of Olives was only a short walk from the temple, it could have been as little as an hour. I am almost positive that the two statements were on the same day. One could certainly say similar statements, moments apart, with different intended meanings– but this is Jesus, speaking of judgement. Should we or do we see any indication that Jesus jumped 2000 years into the future as he was speaking or should we stick to the grammar and understand that “this generation” means exactly that?
In writing this book I sought out popular pastors persuaded by dogmatic dispensationalism, asking for interviews on their attempts at an exegesis of Matthew 24. While one conversation was cordial and the rest nonexistent, so far I have not been granted any interviews but pointed to books written by dispensationalists. Therefore I bought books. I bought books so that you don’t have to. They cannot provide answers or an exegesis to Matthew 24 but explain away the continuing context. We explore examples. Each hermeneutical explanation of the dispensationalist authors is interrupted and corrupted by their presuppositions. They claim to be looking at the context but it is their presuppositions which actually steer the ship, as they place their presuppositions of the cart before the horse of the context.
The prophecy pundits also miss the use of the word “you.” A thousand examples come to mind of which I can use to prove to you that Jesus was speaking to them. That sentence itself was an example for you as is this sentence. You will get tired of me explaining what the word you means because you know what the word you means as they did. Most prophecy pundits ignore the grammar of Jesus and his use of the word “this” and “you.” Prophecy pundits who don’t ignore the personal, second-person pronoun try to explain away its use by Jesus by looking at its use in the Old Testament, claiming that God frequently used the second-person plural, to refer to future generations. However true this might be, there is usually a qualifier in those instances. In Matthew 24, there is no qualifier. He was speaking directly and specifically to a small group of disciples.
Exodus 12:14 “Now this day shall be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.” This is an easy example because the qualifier is found within the verse quoted– “throughout your generations” and a “permanent ordinance.” Is it not odd that this permanent ordinance wasn’t permanent?
Other examples are more difficult to discern but the context clarifies the qualifier. A cursory reading of Numbers 29 reveals the following: “Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets. And you shall offer a burnt offering as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, and seven male lambs one year old without defect; also their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. And offer one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you, besides the burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their libations, according to their ordinance, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD.”
Who is the “you” in this passage. Is it Moses, is it the sons of Israel, once and only once? Was this a one-time ordinance or an ordinance that went on in perpetuity? Context is king. There is no Numbers 29 without Numbers 28 and there is no Numbers 28 without Numbers 27 and so on and so forth. In the same way Numbers 30 and subsequent chapters are part of the context. Consider the context and the perpetuity in which God spoke– that’s the qualifier. Yes, the “you” included generations to come, in perpetuity. However that doesn’t work with Matthew 24, Daniel 9 or the book of Revelation– unless a gap of uncounted time is inserted. This is exactly what the prophecy pundits would have us believe.
Three unwarranted items are required to be true for the pretribulational rapture, premillennial return of Jesus, physically to almost earth: the first is that God has two distinct people with two distinct plans. The second is that the church (better called the “called out assembly” or simply, “congregation”) is a parenthetical people never part of prophecy. And the third is that when Jesus said to his disciples “you,” he really meant “they,” and when he said “this generation,” he actually meant “that generation.” Each one is more absurd than the previous.
A closer examination of the context clarifies who the “you” is in Matthew chapters 23 and 24– watch out for the irony in the dogmatic dispensationalist approach and also the hypocrisy. I have attempted to interview widely-popular, dispensationalist pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers for their opinions on eschatology for this book. The only response received was to point me to resources written on the subject, by dogmatic dispensationalists. In other words, I wasn’t allowed to ask questions (the beauty of this book is it will be posted online and comments and questions can be posted). I will not name names because some of the pptt’s have ministries which really get it right, despite dispensationalism. I would not want to disparage ministries which take a long view of gospel growth and plan for a future for the church in spite of their eschatology. Nevertheless the resources offered and the things they preach on eschatology don’t consider the context in its fullness, following the sublime string. Rather they cut the cord and string verses together out of context and weave a man-made thread without a shred of evidence of examples. Let me state it in a modern way; they just say stuff. We follow the sublime string.
To the Pharisees: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”
To the disciples Jesus said: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.” Is this all a revelation of a far-future fulfillment or do we see the unfolding of these things beginning in the book of Acts?
Where should we begin, with famine? In Acts 11 it is written; “Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.”
Notice the first-century phenomenon. Notice time indicators and the use of the word “world” when it should be “land” or at most, “Roman territories.” The translators did a great job but we need to be diligent about understanding that they were human and have their own presuppositions and preconceived notions. My wife always says to me, “which Bible?” My response is always the same, it doesn’t matter as long as one understands that none are perfect except the originals– seek to find the original meaning. This sounds overwhelming but we live in the best of days, so far. One doesn’t even need a vast library with Strong’s and lexicons filling their shelves, we have the interwebbing. It’s actually quite easy to search the Scripture nowadays. Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible and Bible Hub are just a few examples of websites at your fingertips in which the closest to the original manuscripts are available along with definitions and usages of words by Thayer and Strong. Again it sounds daunting but it is as easy as typing in a verse and clicking on the resources. Even to those who refuse to use the internet for Bible study, check the footnotes in your Bible, unless it is Scofield’s.
Back to the Bible, I usually use the NASB because it has Old Testament quotes in all caps, making exploring examples that much easier. Also, it is very accurate, don’t think I am attacking its accuracy. Even in modern vernacular we tend to interchange words like land, earth and world.
Perhaps we should look at the disciples being killed? “Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also.”
Let’s look at false messiahs and prophets. “But a certain Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, ‘Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody; and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. And he was slain; and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away some people after him, he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered.'”
Many more instances are listed in the book of Acts. It is actually a great book to restart one’s Biblical journey. Many promises of Jesus are fulfilled and clearly seen unfolding in the book of Acts of the Apostles. One thing we see is that Daniel 9 is fulfilled in Acts, that Jesus, the Messiah Prince, the Messiah, the Prince made a firm covenant with Israel and not the so-called antichrist. But I am getting way ahead of myself. We have other items to explore first.
Earthquakes? “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened.”
Remember that nowhere does Jesus say that the intensity or frequency of these signs would increase or that they would expand to hurricanes or tornadoes, only that they would exist during their generation. Read Matthew 21-25 and watch what Jesus said would happen unfold before your very eyes in the book of Acts. These things bring us to that which we don’t see.
Chapter Seven: The Apocalyptic Address
Let Scripture interpret Scripture and jive with the genre. In Matthew 24, Jesus uses apocalyptic language to describe what is about to befall Jerusalem and the temple. Let me give a pop quiz as I used to do to teenagers when I attempted to teach them. Who wrote the following and when? “Then the earth shook and quaked; And the foundations of the mountains were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up aout of His nostrils, And fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With thick darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub and flew; And He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, Hailstones and coals of fire. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Thy rebuke, O LORD, At the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils.”
Answer: “For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.”
This is Psalm 18. Notice the apocalyptic language. However, is this what happened according to the historical narrative found in 2 Samuel? No, it is not. Look at the words of 2 Samuel 31 and see the ultimate deliverance David from Saul. “Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul. And the battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and pierce me through and make sport of me.’ But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.”
David was freed from the threat of Saul because Israel was crushed in war by the Philistines– do not miss this. By Israel’s defeat, David was set free from the fear of Saul in order that David would be king. There’s a sublime string here. In the same way the Pharisees and Sadducees were removed and Israel defeated so that Jesus could be king. But notice also the curse that came with the blessing. David was now free from the threat of Saul but he lost his best friend Jonathan in the process.
One of my favorite stories in which David was delivered from the hands of Saul– actually the converse is the truth– it was actually Saul who was delivered from the sword of David, is as follows: “Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. And he came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. And the men of David said to him, ‘Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, “Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.”‘ Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. And it came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, ‘Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.’ And David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul.”
Literally David had caught Saul with his pants down as Saul sought to kill David. It’s a funny story and shows David’s reverence for the office of the The King, or God’s anointed, even if God’s anointed was one who sought to kill God’s next anointed one. When we read things that were written in the genre of a historical narrative it’s quite clear that even while there may be prophetic undertones and shadows of Jesus, the words are also meant to be taken at face value. Nevertheless the apocalyptic address in Psalm 18, which described the historical narrative in a symbolic and metaphorical way, reads completely differently than the historical narrative. What we are given is two different vantage points of the same events. We therefore have a model of how to interpret the apocalyptic address. We see what literally happened to David in his deliverance from Saul and all his enemies in 2 Samuel but we also have the symbolic, metaphorical meanings replete with imagery in Psalm 18. This helps the reader to understand the imagery in all other apocalyptic addresses in the Bible.
Revelation, or; apocalypse, means a revealing or a behind the scenes look, literally; an unveiling. It’s like pulling the curtain wide open on a play so that the audience sees all the working parts of the production. The stagehands, the producers, the director and the like are all seen doing what needs to be done behind the scenes but with imagery not a literal description. Similarly, the apocalyptic address shows by way of symbolic language, imagery and metaphor, what is happening in the heavenly realm juxtaposed to the earthly realm. However it is not to be taken in a literal fashion in the sense that fire flows out of God’s nostrils. But it is to be taken according to the literary genre. Through the apocalyptic address we are given a glimpse as to how God felt about certain scenarios and situations and his reaction to them. We must let Scripture interpret Scripture and utilize the example of Psalm 18 juxtaposed with David’s deliverance because it is a monumental puzzle piece which can teach us how to understand apocalyptic literature. 2 Samuel is a literal, earthly interpretation even though it contains prophetic undertones and messianic allusions but Psalm 18 reveals what happened in the heavenly realm, so to speak. However it is not to be taken in a wooden, literalistic manner. The earth didn’t literally shake and quake on the day David was delivered from Saul. Do we honestly believe that literal coal was kindled by the smoke of the Lord’s nostrils? How would that fit into the historical narrative? Psalm 18 is a great gift to those who seek to understand the apocalyptic address. Do not let modern interpretations of “apocalypse” cloud your mind. It doesn’t mean the end of human history but an unveiling of something. In the case of Revelation, God’s Judgement of his unfaithful bride versus the vindication of his beautifully faithful bride. More on this later. Ultimately though, it is all about the faithfulness of Jesus.
Story Time: Several years ago I was teaching teenagers at two local churches at the same time, which goes to the state of those local churches. I, a wretched sinner who couldn’t get out of his own way, was the only person available, willing and wanting to teach teenagers the truth about God’s word. Stretched thinly, I gave up one in favor of another; the one in which I saw the most need. I traveled throughout New England in a fairly vain attempt to balance work life and home life. During this time I taught teenagers on Wednesday nights how to study the Bible. After we made it through creation up to the promise to Abraham in Genesis, I decided to let the teenagers choose which book we would study next. Of course they chose Revelation. I told them that they made a great choice and a poor choice at the same time. The reason it was a poor choice was because one must understand the rest of the Bible to begin to understand Revelation. It was a good choice for the same reason. However I barely touched on Psalm 18 because it was not prophecy but a revelation of the historical narrative. I have learned my lesson.
It is like studying for the SAT’s, not all apocalyptic addresses are prophecy and not all prophecies are apocalyptic addresses. Some Biblical prophecies were fulfilled almost to the letter, such as Isaiah 53. Others were highly symbolic and written in the apocalyptic genre, such as the middle of Daniel 7. Psalm 18 was an apocalyptic address but it was not prophecy in regard to the future but written after the fact of actual, historical events which literally took place. This is extremely important to understand. Many, but certainly not all, believe that the book of Revelation, usually after chapter 3, is 100 percent prophecy but that is simply not the case. Much like Psalm 18, Revelation 12 is an apocalyptic address concerning the past, found in the historical narrative.
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
The word “world” in this text probably should not be “world–” we have seen this before and we will come back to this. More and more, prophecy pundits are coming back to the realization that this part of the apocalyptic address is about the historical narrative of Jesus, coming to earth as an infant and subsequent events. Nevertheless many still insist that none of Revelation beyond chapter 4 has happened yet. One particular pastor put it this way, “See the white, blank space between Revelation 3 and 4; that’s the rapture.” Meaning that everything in John’s letters to the 7 literal churches after chapter 3 was in the far-future, yet to happen. Please see the dubious dogma and the utter ridiculousness of this belief. I will be making the argument that all of Revelation, other than the ultimate culmination found in chapters 19-22, are in our past. However, the beginning of this culmination has begun. But that is not the point, yet. The point is that Revelation 12 is like Psalm 18 in that, it is an apocalyptic address overlaid upon the historical narrative. Therefore we have ample examples of how we are to interpret the apocalyptic address. This is also evidence that Revelation is not written chronologically but recapitulates.
The dogmatic dispensationalists dogma demands that all of Revelation is prophecy after chapter 3 Because John’s “rapture” to heaven in chapter 4 is actually the rapture of the church, according to their narrative. They see chapter 4 as the rapture of the church therefore the rest of Revelation is not written to the seven churches in Asia but a far future generation of Israelis. Therefore they also use the following as justification for their belief that all of Revelation after chapter 3 is prophetic and not yet fulfilled: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
They quickly and only point out that John calls the writing, prophecy. I would point out that which they don’t because it doesn’t fit their narrative, even though they say to take the Bible literally. John literally wrote that the time was close, concerning the countdown contended in the composition. The problem they fail to perceive is that prophecy doesn’t always mean a far-off foretelling but as Hank Hanegraaff would say, “forth-telling.” Much like the word “apocalypse,” prophecy has changed meanings over time. What good would prophecy be if the prophet said something was near but 2000 years hence it hasn’t come to fruition? It would be tantamount to Jesus predicting the toppling of the temple in Matthew 24 within a generation but then the temple not toppling. Therein the rub lies because it did topple, exactly as Jesus promised. Also, following the context of dispensationalism, most of the Old Testament prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. They claim Revelation 4-22 has yet to be fulfilled, therefore Matthew 24 and 25 have yet to be fulfilled, therefore Daniel 7 and 9 have yet to be fulfilled, therefore Ezekiel and Jeremiah and Zechariah have all gone almost entirely unfulfilled. Therefore a huge chunk of our Bible is about only seven years of which we will never know. Not only that but also this; they don’t see the church in the Old Testament. So then it is the Bride of Jesus, the church, who has almost no Scripture relevant to her. Furthermore, it means that John and Jesus were both liars and false prophets.
I digress– Revelation was a prophetic book but notice what Jesus said to John in the same context about it being prophetic. “Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.” To be sure, most of what John wrote was future to his generation but what are the odds that he was writing to our generation? Do not use ego-circular reasoning. Remember that he wrote that the time was near. Literally John wrote that Jesus was coming speedily and the time was at hand. Prophecy does not necessarily mean future and apocalypse certainly does not. As we have seen, an apocalyptic address can refer to the past. I hope I broke your brain. It’s why I begin with the trite and trifling things like angels not singing. It is so that you are prepared for the big stuff. The apocalypse doesn’t mean the end of the world but the unveiling of Jesus Christ to show his 7 churches in Asia, in the first century, what was about to happen.
Within the context of the words of Jesus to John are the past, the present and the future. Many miss the minutiae of the manuscript which is why we consider the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics and don’t rely on taught traditions, presuppositions and preconceived notions, putting all isms aside and letting the Bible interpret the Bible. We have Psalm 18 as a benchmark for apocalyptic interpretation but there are more examples of the apocalyptic address. Let’s go back to Daniel 7.
“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.”
Notice how it’s absolute nonsense without the context, yet to the astute observer it parallels Revelation perfectly. Notice also that as we fix the firm foundations of the corner pieces and borders of the puzzle, using the easier to understand passages to develop doctrine, we see an erosion and dissolvement of dogmatic dispensationalism. Having already read the surrounding context I will forgo the rewriting of it, for time’s sake. However, read the book of Daniel, read all the books, put your time in. By way of reminder this scene of the night vision is sandwiched between the ancient of days setting up his court and the son of man (the favorite name of Jesus for himself) coming on the clouds of heaven, which is the ascension of Jesus after the resurrection– this is the context and it is not disjointed. It may not be chronological but it is contextual, meaning that all the events in the apocalyptic address are congruent. There is a sublime string contained in Daniel’s vision– it is all tied together.
I write for free, actually I pay to write, which is probably unwise on my part because you’ll never get your money’s worth. Nevertheless it allows me to forgo telling you what horns represent in the apocalyptic address. I know what they represent but I would be doing you a disservice if I told you without letting you figure it out for yourselves because it is laid out plainly within the context. I write to promote and prepare for self-study. That’s one major problem with modern Christianity, rather than put their time in to the study of the Bible, most Christians want to be told what it means. Enter the prophecy pundits who charge $19.95 to purchase their books in which they will tell you everything that you want to hear. Not me, I’ll give you the tools for free but you will have to put the time in as well. The horns are simple to identify, but as always, simple doesn’t mean easy. Curious, you now open the Bible to Daniel…”As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. But the court will sit for judgment, and his dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.” The horns actually are easily identifiable.
The purpose of this chapter is not to interpret the apocalyptic address but to demonstrate how to interpret the apocalyptic address. As always the apocalyptic address is interpreted by the CAGED method coupled with the corner pieces of the easily understandable passages– context, aspirations of the author, genre (obviously), examples and then dividing rightly the word of truth. Despite the plea from the prophecy pundits, do not take the highly symbolic and metaphorical apocalyptic address in a literal, wooden way. They are like the Pharisees, for they themselves don’t read it literally. If they did, how could locusts be attack helicopters?
As we have seen in Psalm 18, the irony of the apocalyptic address is that things are not always as they seem at face value. The apocalyptic address is clearly not literal. Most importantly the apocalyptic address doesn’t always point to the far future. In fact, it rarely does. Yet the prominent proponents of prophecy have made a cottage industry of far-future fulfillment to the intended audience but ironically deals with our, exact generation. I’m not so cynical to think that they’re all in it to make quick cash, but it is ironic to me that prophecy pundits make a living on misinterpreted prophecy and prophecy updates. This all goes to the core of understanding the apocalyptic address– it’s not necessarily promises of the future. Some apocalyptic addresses are past tense, as we have seen. Some were present tense and the vast majority of those that were future to the author and his original audience have been fulfilled. We ascertain this by the CAGED method. John wrote to seven literal churches that the time was near and the things written would take place soon. I can’t get over the irony that to the dispensationalists the plain meanings are figurative but stars falling and the moon turning into blood are literal language. This is why the student of Scripture needs to know the historical narrative of David and the apocalyptic address David spoke concerning these things. They are two vastly different accounts, different angles, different vantage points, stating the exact same truths– it is a paradox but not hypocrisy. I suppose my argument would be to not let anyone explain apocalyptic literature to you if they don’t cover Psalm 18. This is because we have the exact historical narrative and the apocalyptic address of David’s deliverance which was not a foretelling of the future. And yet, we have much more than that. As we have seen and followed the thread of “coming on the clouds,” we can break it down even further.
Chapter Eight: A Day of Clouds
As stated previously, hymns, single verses, songs, tiny little pieces of verses (which were never intended to stand alone in the original writings) can all cloud our judgment. I have come to the point in my cynicism that I can do nothing but roll my eyes over the debate between “hymns” and “praise songs.” (Brethren, we’ve got bigger fish to fry!) Again the irony bites back, hymn literally means praise song. Some hymns are good, some not. Some contemporary songs are good, some not. Simply because something is old doesn’t mean it’s good and because something is new doesn’t mean it is bad– context is always king. There are praise songs and hymns about things of which the Bible doesn’t state and worse yet, things contrary to the Bible and its context. Clouds are completely misunderstood in many of our songs, old and new. When in doubt, don’t get your theology from hymns, praise songs and especially contemporary Christian music. This doesn’t mean we can’t sing them, they’re songs not Scripture. Let Scripture teach scripture. Are there songs that shouldn’t be sung in services? Absolutely– almost every Christmas song ever written. They are songs, not sermons, surely we can grant a little literary license and artistic expression. Or we can get rid of them all and only recite the Psalms? That would sure end the debate. The easiest way to settle the argument over songs is to eliminate songs altogether. Or could we be graceful and admit that no perfect songs exist but are expressions of their authors?
Many songwriters and average Christians think that Jesus comes to rapture his church on a cloud elevator. Others believe Jesus returns on a cloudless day. What does the Bible say about clouds other than the obvious? What do clouds represent in the apocalyptic address juxtaposed to the historical narrative? We have seen that Jesus ascended into the throne room of God on the clouds, but what does this mean? Historically, in the apocalyptic address, it is a double-edged sword. It’s judgment against one particular people and vindication for another people. Let’s follow the sublime string and explore examples. Keep in mind psalm 18 and the vindication of David and his deliverance, not a rapture, from his enemies and Saul, remembering that Saul met his own demise exactly as Nero did. Again, I went too far too fast.
Isaiah 19; “The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud, and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother, and each against his neighbor, City against city, and kingdom against kingdom.”
This should all sound very familiar to the student of Matthew 24.
The Lord didn’t literally ride on a swift cloud to Egypt in the sense that Jesus is not literally the bread of life which we literally chew on and swallow. Nevertheless Jesus is absolutely the bread of life but it’s a metaphorical meaning with an implicit application that the people rejected because they literally thought Jesus was telling them that they had to become cannibals. By telling the people present in John chapter 6 that he was the bread of life, Jesus was not saying that he was made from flour and baked in an oven but that he was spiritual sustenance because his body would be broken. In the same way the Lord uses traveling on clouds as a metaphor for judgment against the wicked but also vindication for the righteous. We ascertain this by letting Scripture interpret itself. The meaning of the metaphor of the Lord coming on the clouds to Egypt is clarified in the context. They are being judged and the Lord is coming to incite them against each other and cause them to fight one another, just like in Matthew 24. The list of disasters and calamities continue in the composition but we also see vindication amongst the judgement.
“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. And it will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day.”
Notice Ezekiel 30; “The word of the LORD came again to me saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy and say, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Wail, Alas for the day! For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, A time of doom for the nations…I will also make the multitude of Egypt cease By the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon…And I will pour out My wrath on Sin, The stronghold of Egypt; I will also cut off the multitude of Thebes. And I will set a fire in Egypt; Sin will writhe in anguish, Thebes will be breached, And Memphis will have distresses daily. The young men of On and of Pi-beseth Will fall by the sword, And the women will go into captivity. And in Tehaphnehes the day will be dark When I break there the yoke bars of Egypt. Then the pride of her power will cease in her; A cloud will cover her.”‘”
Notice Nebuchadnezzar is literally mentioned by name. He is the king who crushed Judah, Assyria, Egypt and pretty much the known world at the time. We see that it was called not only a day of clouds but “the day of Lord.” Notice also that reasons are given for the judgment and the most prevalent is almost always idols or false objects of worship–faith misplaced. There is a sublime string and theme concerning clouds and just judgment of Jesus, resulting in vindication for the righteous. We see this in Jeremiah in probably the single-most, ripped out-of-context passage. “Behold I know the plans I have for you…” But in the context, the good plans were for the ones carried away to captivity and the bad plans were for the ones who remained in Jerusalem. Again, always ascertain the author’s aspirations to his audience. I wonder how many Christians are even aware of the context of Jeremiah and the letter from the Lord and the Babylonian deportation. You keep quoting that verse; I don’t think it means what you think it means. Moving on.
Psalm 97; “The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him, And burns up His adversaries round about. His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols.” Notice the blessings and the curse concerning clouds.
Psalm 104; “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers. He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; The waters were standing above the mountains. At Thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which Thou didst establish for them.”
Clouds are often found within the apocalyptic address and the apocalyptic address is found throughout the Scripture. God uses metaphorical meanings, symbolism, imagery and all types of literary language to communicate his messages, intentions, justice, judgment and the like. It’s not always prophecy and prophecy in not always in an apocalyptic address. This is why the CAGED method is an important tool when reading the Scripture. This is why we cannot rip verses out of context but need to understand the continuing context and sublime string by exploring examples. When we do this, we better understand the aspirations of Jesus to the high priest and the council in Matthew 26.
“Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, ‘This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days…’
Wait, did God really say this? Nope. We will come back to this.
The context continues; “And the high priest stood up and said to Him, ‘Do You make no answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.’ Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, ‘He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!’
Did God really say? Notice what God really said in John 2 after he first inspected the temple and found it rotten; Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Notice the near demonstrative “this,” and the clarification from John that “He was speaking of the temple of His body” and that Jesus did not say he would destroy the temple but that they would. Notice that the metaphorical meaning was missed for a literal misinterpretation. Notice the false testimony, notice that no one agreed on the false testimonies and that while they had two or three witnesses, they didn’t tell the exact same stories. Again, they mangled the Law of Moses trying to use it as justification to kill Jesus, using this misinterpreted law against him, all the while breaking it themselves, but it was his statement about coming on the clouds which gave him the death sentence.
The high priest, who presided over the illegal court, heard false testimony and broke countless other laws of Moses, actually had the nerve and the audacity to tear his robes because of the statement of Jesus that they would see Jesus sitting on the righthand and coming on the clouds. The high priest should have torn his clothes over his own behavior (tearing his robe was forbidden by the Law) and the behavior of the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees and all the false witnesses they put forth. They brought Jesus to Annas first who was not the high priest (against the law of Moses). They held the court at night, in the house of the high priest, without a defense witness, bribed Judas and a least a dozen other illegal activities. If fact, the high priest should have torn his robe for tearing his robe. Everything that they did was beyond the scope of the law and traditions but what caused the high priest to grandstand by tearing his clothes was Jesus telling them that they would see him coming on the clouds. The high priest called it blasphemy. How then do we believe that Jesus was speaking about a rapture rescue of the church or his physical coming back to earth? Make no mistake about it, while they were illegally judging Jesus, Jesus was telling them that they were about to be judged by him. More than this, Jesus was also vindicating his disciples. Jesus used this statement of sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds to bring them back to the Old Testament, especially Daniel’s prophecy and they absolutely understood that Jesus was not claiming a rapture rescue or his final coming but that they would be witnesses to him ascending to his glorious throne, in heaven, where he sits as judge and reigns as king. “I have set my king on Zion.”
Let’s try to understand what the prophecy pundits proclaim about Jesus saying that the Sanhedrin would see him coming on the clouds. See the situation: In an illegal night court, in a capital case, in less than a day, with bribery and false testimony, in a residential home, the night before the day of preparation for the Passover, the high priest and the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus to death because, as the prophecy pundits proclaim, Jesus said that he was coming to rapture his church, or, perhaps that he was coming back physically. For this the high priest broke the rules of the tribunal and tore his clothes and screamed blasphemy? It does not make sense. Especially because they knew nothing of a coming “church.” Our minds meander– do not forget that the dogmatic dispensationalist declare that the church was never prophesied about and is a parenthetical plan. Therefore Jesus couldn’t be speaking of a rapture rescue of his church because it has yet to be revealed; according to the dogmatic dispensationalists. That is, the high priest wouldn’t scream “blasphemy” but “lunacy” at the statement of Jesus about coming on the clouds. It’s utterly ironic that the law-breaking high priest knew exactly what Jesus was saying but we don’t.
Picture this: “are you the Messiah?” “You said it but I’m telling you that hereafter in 2000 years or so, after a parenthetical church age, I will return on a cloud physically and your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren are going to see me and pay for your sins.” To which the high priest tore his robes, which again, was against their precious rules and regulations. For this they killed Jesus? For this they saw blasphemy? I would think that this would have given them enough evidence to have Jesus committed to a mental health facility and get him the help he needed. Pardon my sarcastic anachronism but perhaps that’s the point. The world waxes worse and worse after all, doesn’t it?
This is what the prophecy pundits would have us believe but it is not what Jesus said. He told them that they would see him at the right-hand and coming on the clouds. We have another thread, another sublime string to follow– the right hand of power. Does it not seem odd that the prophecy pundits believe sitting has a correlation with the final act of human history? Again, we tend to forget things. Remember that Jesus said he was coming on the clouds and sitting at the right-hand– Let’s explore the example.
“Sitting at the Righthand of Power.” I feel like it’s time for a pop quiz and since I hear no objections, let’s do it. Which Bible passage from the Old Testament is the most oft-quoted in the New Testament? Some go so far as to say that it is God’s favorite verse. If the Bible had been written in verse form and if God had a favorite, I would agree. The answer is, as alluded to; “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.'” This is Psalm 110:1. It reminds me of Psalm 2
Chapter Nine: Sitting Until Death is Defeated
Looking in our backyards, in our streets and on the headlines, reading tweets and the ever-changing CDC guidelines, the dogmatic dispensationalists are in a fury and at a fever pitch. I listen to them, daily– more than daily. Somedays I can listen to them as much as eight hours a day driving in my truck– I listen to them primarily. Occasionally I will listen to the late R.C. Sproul but for the most part, the scales of my listening are way out of balance with dispensationalists outweighing every other eschatological emcee by more than 6 to 1. I know what they are saying probably better than they do themselves. I take meticulous mental notes and on occasion pull over, thinking, “I have to write that one down!” (You’d be surprised about the amount of outrageous claims I have left out of this book.) Honestly, their hypocrisy is huge. Again, I am writing about the overzealous in unfounded facts, dogmatic dispensationalists and not the average dispensationalist– but they are cut from the same cloth. They wonder where Jesus is and why he has not raptured his church yet. I would wonder to, if I believed what they believe. The truth is I did believe what they believe. Not only was I a dispensationalists disciple, I was a leader, a promoter and a proponent. But then I began studying the parables of Jesus and I couldn’t reconcile “dispensationalism” with any of the parables. Dispensationalism as defined by the dispensationalists demands that which cannot be explained by anything Jesus said. At first I would attempt to explain away what I saw in the parables but after hearing some objections to dispensationalism from others it dawned on me that there is a huge difference between explaining things and explaining them away. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the verse that raptures most people out of the premillennial rapture position. It’s Paul partially quoting in an obvious allusion to, and expounding on, the most oft-quoted verse; “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.'”
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes; “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.”
Paul’s purpose in pointing back is for the church in Corinth to understand that Jesus will reign, sitting at the right hand of God, ruling the nations with a rod of iron until all his enemies are put in subjection to him. Nevertheless Paul addressed the resurrection also; “each in his own order: Christ the fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” Ironically enough, Paul was addressing the fact that some in Corinth claimed that there was no resurrection from the dead. It was within this context that Paul proclaimed that Jesus must reign from heaven until death is abolished.
In this context we see Paul’s summation of the resurrection– I, and you, see no rapture rescue before a literal millennial kingdom in Paul’s order of resurrection even if the prophecy pundits do. We don’t see it because it is not there– simple. That was the wide angle view, now zooming in on the end of God’s favorite verse alluded to by Paul and Paul’s expounding; “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
Yet the rapture, as described by the dogmatic dispensationalists, goes completely against Paul’s words and the words of David, not only with a telescopic lens zooming in but also the greater context, zooming out. Be wary of having to explain away why the pretribulational, premillennial rapture is omitted from Paul’s explanation of the order of resurrection– keep it simple– it’s not there because it’s a man made dogma stemming from verses ripped out of context. More than focusing on what Paul does not say but the prophecy pundits do, focus on Paul’s aspirations to his audience using the example proclaimed by David. I am baffled that somehow, the dogmatic dispensationalist seem to lubricate their dogma with oil and pry open Paul’s words and aspirations and force the rapture into this context when it is clearly not there. They do it as they always do it, by simply saying that “this is the rapture.” To which I now reply, “how, show me?” “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
Is it at his coming? That doesn’t make sense because then comes the end where the kingdom is delivered to the Father; their dubious doctrine is devoid of a seven year tribulation and a 1000 year millennial kingdom in this passage but they are at the core of their belief. Notice the simplicity of Paul’s summary but the incongruency and convoluted course of which the dogmatic dispensationalists claim. Their narrative simply doesn’t fit within the parameters put forth and penned by Paul.
Where else do we see this most oft-quoted verse? In Matthew 22 Jesus used the psalm to trip up the Pharisees, pointing out the grammar and showing them that David was not speaking of himself but Jesus. Peter preached it in Acts chapter 2, and we will certainly examine that example. It is quoted in the introduction to the letter to the Hebrews, which is also important and there it is mixed with other Old Testament material.
How does the sublime string weave all these passages together? How does the Bible use these scriptures? Don’t look through the lens of “isms” but through the author’s aspirations to his audience by considering the context. Let’s rewind and see what Paul says. Again, try to put aside past prejudices and presuppositions and see it through the lens with which Paul proclaimed it to his audience– read the words as they were written. Strap on your first-century sandals and engage the writings as if present, as much as possible, based on the context.
Paul is summarizing the Gospel to the people in Corinth–why? Because they were not orderly. They spoke in tongues without a translator and too often, not recognizing the purpose of tongues– judgment against apostate Israel, it was a first-century phenomenon. Some were getting drunk at the Lord’s supper while others went without. The women were pestering the men with questions, people prophesied out of order. Essentially the Corinthian church was in chaos and Paul was trying to establish order. That and it’s apparent, based on the context, that some were saying that the there was no resurrection. Paul is attempting to establish order in that church. In chapter 15 he retells what has happened to that point in order and then gives them the order of resurrection. First, he tells them, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
Deviating from the order parenthetically, taking a time out, Paul then goes on to describe himself but we shouldn’t let that make us lose track of the order given. After discussing his unworthiness to be an apostle, Paul continues to eleobarate on their situation. “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”
Paul then continues to follow this line of thought and since we are verse pickers and not page turners, we forget that about which Paul was writing. Remember that their church is out of order and that Paul gives them orderly instructions. Then he gives them the orderly sequence of the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, buried, raised and appearing to multiple people, including Paul himself– ironically enough, after he had taken his seat at the right hand of the father. That’s the beauty of omnipresence, Jesus can come and go as he pleases while remaining seated on his throne. Nevertheless Paul is obviously not writing about a coming but the coming.
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
And still the prophecy pundits proclaim that the world waxes worse and worse as Christ sits on his throne and therefore, since his enemies are not being subjected under his feet, the first enemy to be dealt with is death, in the acutely absent from this text, rapture rescue. My hope is that you will see why so many Christians flee dispensationalism because of this text. But as we have seen, these words of David, alluded to by Paul, are used over and over again. Remember, Jesus used these words of himself, sitting at the right hand in conjunction with coming on the clouds.
A reminder of Daniel 7; “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat…I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
Yet the dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the kingdom is on hold, on hiatus as Jesus eagerly awaits his kingdom. Yet we see that he came, born of a virgin, under the law, taught and trashed traditions, died, was buried but didn’t undergo decay and was raised on the third day, ascended to heaven and came in judgment on the clouds against Jerusalem by means of the Roman empire in 70 AD. Jesus reigns over his redeemed creation, his kingdom, until death is defeated.
Acts chapter 2, as Peter preached; “Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN UPON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT And they shall prophesy. AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE, AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BENEATH, BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. AND IT SHALL BE, THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.’ Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. For David says of Him, ‘I WAS ALWAYS BEHOLDING THE LORD IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN. THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL ABIDE IN HOPE; BECAUSE THOU WILT NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW THY HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. THOU HAST MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; THOU WILT MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH THY PRESENCE.’ Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS UPON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET.”‘ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Notice the Irony; The Jewish leaders used Rome to destroy the true temple, Jesus and then 40 years later, the true temple, Jesus, used Rome to destroy the rotten temple.
If dispensationalists were correct, shouldn’t this read something like, sit at my right hand while the world gets worse and worse and then in a couple thousand years I will send you back down there to get your church, you will bring bring them back here to paradise, then we’ll unleash hell on earth, slaughter two thirds of the poor Jewish people who have not suffered enough and then I’ll send you and your resurrected church back to reign over an earth where there is still sin and people still die, even though the last enemy to be put in subjugation is death? It doesn’t fit and I hope you see that it can’t fit. No doubt that any devoted dispensationalists who gets their hands on this book, will call me a mocker and a scoffer. My question to them would be, how is it mocking if it is what you believe but not what Peter or Paul said? The irony is that they would be quoting two different translations of what Peter wrote in his second epistle, ripping the two different translations out of context and then combining the two together to come up with one of their favorite phrases– “mockers and scoffers.” This sounds trite and trivial on my part but it’s an excellent example of how they come to conclusions. Also, they definitely do call people who believe what I believe “mockers and scoffers” (and I hope by now you see at least part of why we believe it); they call us this frequently. They literally mock Gary Demar and Hank Hanegraaff repeatedly, who share similar opinions on eschatology but aren’t on the exact same page, because they neither see a pre-anything rapture or the ridiculous doctrine that Jesus has two distinct people with two distinct plans. The irony interwoven with hypocrisy is stunning. We will come back and crush the notion that God has two distinct people with two distinct plans– and I mean crush it. I should probably have begun with this but I wanted to build to it by considering the context of coming on clouds and sitting at the right hand. However hypocrisy will be pointed out along the way. I can’t decide if I want to get a neck tattoo which reads “Mocker” or “Scoffer.”
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” (NIV)
NASB 1995 Edition: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts.”
Let’s look at a little more context to get the big picture as to why certain devout, dogmatic dispensationalist call those of us who disagree with them mockers and scoffers. Though as we’ve already seen, it should be one or the other, not both– as always, they manipulate the manuscript.
Peter writes; “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you [therefore he is writing to “those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” not the 21st century church– Author’s Aspirations To His Audience], in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day [Have you ever noticed that people only believe the latter part of this statement and not the former?] The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. [Shouldn’t they be looking for a rapture?], beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Why would Peter write to those scattered as aliens about Gary Demar, R.C. Sproul, Ken Gentry, Doug Wilson and Hank Hanegraaff?
By now you have noticed that I give copious amounts of context but the dogmatic dispensationalists talk for twenty minutes, then read a verse or two and say things like, “this is the Antichrist?” I’m sorry, I digress but we must come back to this because they completely corrupt the definition of antichrist. Look at the context of 2 Peter 3 and notice how I cannot be a mocker or a scoffer. I believe that God was not slow with his promise. I believe that from creation to the flood to David to Jesus to the apostles to our current state, things have changed immensely. I certainly don’t say, “where is the promise of his coming?” I know that God 100 percent keeps his promises. I believe in the new heavens and new earth. The irony of it all is that those who believe as I do are called mockers and scoffers, as we believe everything Peter said and wrote, by those who believe something of which Peter doesn’t write or say– “rapture.” Are you with me, am I making sense? Or, as Peter wrote to the aliens scattered in the first century, is my evilness and lustfulness for the supremacy of Christ reigning from heaven, sending his Spirit so that we wouldn’t be orphans, clouding my vision? We who believe in the promises of God through his Law, prophets and his only Son, are called mockers and scoffers by those who proclaim something of which Peter never mentions, namely, the rapture of the church. You have read the context, where is this alleged rapture which the prophecy pundits proclaim would happen within a generation of Israel becoming a nation again, from Scripture ripped from its context? I may sound harsh but their doubling down on dubious dogma is on the verge of becoming a cult. Harold Camping, anyone?
Peter wrote about the new heavens and the new earth but before we continue to dissect the dogma of dispensationalism we must explore examples of the new heavens and new earth. They are only found in two other places, Revelation and Isaiah. Always start with the first mention; let’s look at Isaiah. But before we do, we must prime the pump of our minds. Look first at the words of Jesus, combating those who loved to learn, allegedly, but never came to the knowledge of the truth. We’re going back to Matthew 22.
“On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses said, “IF A MAN DIES, HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP AN OFFSPRING TO HIS BROTHER.” Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. And last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her’ But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, “I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB?” He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’ And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”
Isaiah 65 reads: “”For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the cone who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.”
Notice that in the resurrection people obviously don’t die but are as Jesus said, “living.” Yet in the new heavens and new earth, people live long but they die. In the resurrection people are neither given in marriage nor married but in the new heavens and earth they raise children, plant vineyards, build houses, etc.. I’m afraid that we only know what we’ve been taught. I hope that the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics is opening your eyes to what God really said.
Chapter Ten: What did God Really Say?
Who is up for a pop quiz? How many “Wisemen” were present at the birth of Jesus? I suspect that by now most are not thinking “three,” despite our songs. Perhaps then some are thinking that the correct answer is; “we don’t know because we are not told.” That is incorrect, there were no “wisemen” or even shepherds at the birth of Jesus. The shepherds were not even notified until after Jesus was born and the “wisemen” came several months later. How many chickens were on Noah’s Ark? This is an easy one, we know the song, two; but that would be wrong. Chickens are clean birds therefore there would have been seven. Let’s try another. Who cut Samson’s hair? It wasn’t Delilah but a Philistine. How did the Lord bring Elijah to Heaven? Not in a chariot and not a rapture but in a whirlwind. Why were Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden? Not because they had sinned but so that they wouldn’t eat from the tree of life. Who did Abner and Israel anoint king after the death of Saul? Ishbaal, Saul’s fourth born son, not David. How did God respond to Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Do angels ever sing anywhere in the Bible? How many days was Noah in the ark?
Did God say; I will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel? Did God say; The Lion will lay down with the Lamb? Did God say; Pride comes before a fall? Did God say; money is the root of all evil? Did God really say; This too shall pass? Did God really say; I will rapture my church? I’m sure that you have discerned by now that the answer to all of these questions is no. Why then do we believe them? Bad songs, bad pastors but mostly bad hermeneutics. We’ve heard that God blesses those who bless Israel so much that we think it must be Scripture but it isn’t. Who is to have the greater blame though, the one who has heard it over and over again so that they think it is Scripture or the one presenting it over and over again as if it were Scripture. Jonathan Caan literally says, over and over that, “God says, ‘I will bless those that bless Israel.'” The problem is, he’s lying– he is bearing false witness. Nowhere in the Bible do we find this. Nevertheless he preaches it as if it was the gospel. Jonathan Caan is not alone– we hear it all the time.
My favorite profession from the prophecy pundits is that the “lion will lay down with the lamb in the millennial kingdom.” I’m sure you have heard that one, a lot. Problem: the only thing close to this concerns the new heavens and earth and it reads, “the wolf and the lamb shall graze together.” As we have seen, this is found in Isaiah– only John mentioned a millennial “kingdom” in Revelation and he didn’t write what we think he wrote. Why can’t we see that we have manipulated the manuscript, twisted the Scripture, to fit our man made narratives, just like the Pharisees? Praying little prayes at altar calls, asking Jesus into our hearts– is That what God said? It is very unfortunate what we have done with all of our “isms.” There are three primary isms of eschatology; premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism. The unfortunate part is that all of these ism come from Revelation 20, a chapter that doesn’t say what we think it says. Quickly: Just last week I heard a pastor preach that the “lion will lay down with the lamb, listen…” He said, then read the passage from Isaiah and semi-realizing his mistake he said, “we see the lion and the lamb laying down with each other in a different passage.” He was absolutely wrong but I don’t think he actually knows he is wrong: we hear it so much that we think it is the truth but it is not.
We are taught that Revelation 20 teaches us about a 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, where people live long lives, children die at 100, babies play with snakes but also that the lion lays down with the lamb and other things misquoted from the new heavens and new earth passage in Isaiah. Then the prophecy pundits expound in their own words what it will be like. The raptured church reigns with Christ in a world still capable of sin in their resurrected bodies. There is no more war, the grass is greener, the grapes are the size of grapefruits and so on and so forth. But what does Revelation 20 actually say and what Old Testament passages does John quote in Revelation 20? Do we see anything propagated by the prophecy pundits about the millennial kingdom in Revelation 20, other than the under-quoted binding of Satan, or by exploring the Old Testament quotes? The prophecy pundits love to say Satan is bound but rarely tell us what he is bound from doing.
Revelation 20; “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” Let me rewrite that in Christianeese– And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the Gentiles any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” Again, we have very short attention spans and cannot deal with the parenthetical but rather create it, watch; And he laid hold of Satan, and bound him for a thousand years so that he should not deceive the Gentiles. Every dispensationalist from the over-the-top dogmatic to the passive, argues that satan cannot possibly be bound. Ironically they also believe that Satan cannot posses the Christian. Watch the continuing context!
Even though John said it perfectly I will still point out that Satan is bound in order that he won’t be able to deceive the nations like he did in the Old Testament and Old Covenant. Moving on in Revelation 20, looking for greener grass and lions laying down with lambs, we read; “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
That’s it, that’s the good news of the millennial kingdom found in Revelation 20. After this it’s Gog and Magog, Satan released, gathering at Armageddon, Satan thrown into the lake of fire and judgement. Where are all the pink ponies and unicorns? Where are the Old Testament allusions? How can we be sure that the 1000 year binding of Satan is synonymous with what dispensationalists see as far-future new heavens and new earth mentioned in Isaiah? By the way, pop quiz? Who wins the battle of Armageddon? Answer; there is no battle of Armageddon. Search the Scripture and shut off TBN. I like the amillennialists, in name at least if not their actual eschatology, because the name has sharp edges that cut deeply. “A” is a negation, literally it means “no millennial.” What they are implying is that the binding of Satan against deceiving the gentiles is not for exactly one thousand years– I agree, I think. In the Old Testament, the number of one thousand was often used figuratively and Revelation is the most Old Testament like book in the New Testament. John writes in an Old Testament style with Hebrew rather than Greek grammar and quotes or obviously alludes to the Old Testament more than any other book, by far. Nevertheless I disagree with the amillennialists that Revelation is an analogy. Like studying for the SAT exam, Revelation is to Psalm 18 as Acts and the first century are to 2 Samuel and David’s deliverances.
Is a thousand literal or figurative, based upon hermeneutics and not ridiculous similes propagated by the prophecy pundits? Also, where is the word kingdom in Revelation 20?
Deuteronomy 7:9; “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” I am tempted to travel into a tangent but I do desire to keep this book relatively short. However I will point out that if taken literally, dispensationalism is mocked by this passage. If figuratively, it also does damage to dubious dispensationalist dogma because it is Deuteronomy– the retelling of the Law. Which would one take more figuratively, the Law or the apocalyptic address? Deuteronomy is a great book and should be read often in conjunction with the gospel accounts. Use the CAGED method and see for yourselves the development of the narrative.
Moving on; Psalm 84:10; “For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Is then one thousand and one days better?
Psalm 50; “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.” Everything then belongs to God except for the cows on the remaining hills after the 1000– if 1000 is taken literally.
Even those who believe that the thousand years reign is written in stone and taken literally, love part of what Peter wrote about 1000 years being like a day. Is 1001 years not also like a day? I agree with the amillennial position that the 1000 years should not be taken literally but symbolically, meaning a very long time. Nevertheless I don’t agree with them concerning the only spiritual and only heavily heavenly allegorical aspect– based on the context. I believe that Satan is figuratively bound with chains so that he literally cannot deceive the nations as he has in the past. I believe that this is evidence that the non-literal, millennial kingdom, is also earthly because Satan was cast out of heaven and is bound from deceiving the nations. Enough about a short chapter on 1000 years.
Let’s look again at Matthew 24 and what Jesus does not say.
What about the rapture, where is the Rapture in Matthew 24– what does the Law say about the rapture? What did the prophets say about the rapture? Picture this; according to the prophecy pundits, the entire church age is parenthetical so that we wouldn’t and don’t see it in the Old Testament (other than Enoch and Elijah, of course). Alright then, what did Jesus say about the rapture? What did John say about the rapture? What about Matthew, Mark, Luke or James? If the prophetic clock stopped at the cross, as some dispensationalists claim, why did Peter say that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled post-cross? If the prophetic clock stopped at Pentecost, why did Peter preach this at Pentecost? If the clock stopped, why did the author of Hebrews write, “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear?” There is only one text from which the dispensationalists can derive a “rapture” of the parenthetical church and zero verses that say the church is parenthetical. Concerning the alleged rapture, Paul uses the Greek word “harpazo,” pronounced har-pod-zo, which is then translated into Latin and then to English as “rapture.” Nevertheless no translations use the word rapture and the context is among the most cloudy in the Bible (double entendre of a pun). When writing to the Thessalonians Paul continually refers to things of which he told them in person, things we didn’t hear, which would obviously be more elaborate than what we read in his fairly short letter, even though he was only with them a few short weeks before being run out of town. Remember, Paul wrote to them not to you. Nevertheless we have the CAGED method– maybe we can figure it out.
To the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Paul contradicts himself (obviously he doesn’t); watch. God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
If God brings with him those who have fallen asleep why did Paul waste his time to write, those who are alive and remain don’t precede them? We’ll come back to this but it goes to motive– Paul’s aspirations to his audience, them, not us, meaning they had greater context. This cannot be what the dispensationalists’ discourse describes as a pre-tribulational, pre-millennial rapture of the church. It has to be the final coming of Christ. God comes with the living-dead, for lack of a better terminology. Paul uses “those who are asleep” as a euphemism and I should as well. Nevertheless to get the point across I will use the term living-dead. Their bodies are in the ground, in the sea, burnt to ashes and sitting above the fireplace etc.. However their souls are in paradise with the Lord, correct? Am I correct in essence if not an exact representation with my words? The dead bodies of Christians undergo decay but to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord– is this fair? Therefore the body is not with the Lord but the essence, the soul, the spirit of the Christian who has died is with the Lord. How then can those who have yet to die not proceed those coming with the Lord if the rapture is in the Uber-fast, twinkling of an eye? How can they not proceed if the meeting is the the air? The living dead descend with Jesus but the living ascend to Jesus and the living dead. But the dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the living and the living dead are raptured almost exactly together. If it seems confusing it is. I believe that this is exactly how they get away with it. Paul is using a metaphor which would be familiar to those in the Roman Empire of the First Century. Yet it really is not important because its a tiny passage, with context that contradicts what we think Paul’s aspiration to his audience was. In fact, it is clear that we don’t consider the audience at all because of our ego-circular reasoning. We’ll come back to this.
We have to consider the context, some of which we don’t have. Yet the book of Acts gives us a description of what happened when Paul was teaching in Thessalonica for three weeks. “But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: ‘These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.’ When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.” (NIV)
Paul left them in turmoil, abruptly, at night and all because he proclaimed a greater king than Caesar; Jesus. Point; Paul preached the Kingdom of Jesus to them in the present tense and not a future dispensation of a millennial kingdom in a few thousand years. Think about how irrelevant that would be to fledgling, first-century followers. We are back to ego-circular reasoning. Also we have some of the concerns of the Thessalonians in the Context of Paul’s letter to them. Rather than writing about an irrelevant rapture, Paul addresses what they had been taught by people other than apostles and the conflict with which they found themselves in. Beginning with the latter; “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” ESV
Who afflicted them? Look again at Acts 17; “But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.” (NIV)
Remember what Jesus said to the overzealous Pharisees and scribes. “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” Here is a passage written by Paul to the Thessalonians that the dogmatic dispensationalist won’t touch with a ten foot pole. I wonder if anyone actually even knows that this passage exists? “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!” ESV
As a reminder, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?”
Paul also wrote to them; “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification…But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (the living-dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” ESV
Paul told them that wrath has come but dogmatic dispensationalism and most other isms think that this particular wrath has yet to come. Context is King!
That is, that the dead in Christ will return with the Lord when the Lord returns. It is so sublimely simple, cut and dry, according to the continuing context, that the rapture as described by the dogmatic dispensationalists should be off the table. Jesus doesn’t bring with him the living dead to return to heaven but to meet the living, to return to earth as he destroys death. When context is considered of their premier passage it is actually antithetical to all of their premises, promises, preconceived notions and presuppositions; it’s time to move on. This is a perfect time to remind the reader to not only turn the page, but to also flip back and read the preceding paragraphs. That is to say, start at the beginning. We see then that Paul is comforting them with his words– the living dead go first and return with him. Like Jesus Paul doesn’t waste words but was very careful with them. Unfortunately it makes us want to insert thing into the context.
Chapter Eleven: Why We Wander With Words
Simply because certain words or phrases are used they shouldn’t make our minds wander but inspire us to explore examples. For example; every instance in which Jesus said, “I’m coming,” we should not deviate from the context and automatically assume that he was speaking about his final coming. We have seen Jesus rebuke the people in Ephesus and tell them that if they didn’t repent, he would come to them. Yes, Certain words and phrases are intrinsically linked, woven throughout all of the Scriptures. Word searches are a very valuable tool when studying the Bible but the overall use and context of the words must be observed and coupled to the author’s aspirations to his audience.
Look closely at the content of 1 Thessalonians and notice only what Paul wrote without reading anything into this composition. The reasoning behind Paul’s penning of the paragraph is so that the Thessalonians would not grieve over the dead. He points to Jesus bringing with him those who have died in Christ when he comes. This is where the trouble begins. The word Paul used for coming is transliterated as “parousia.” People have a field day with this word. This book will have a short chapter entitled “Perusing the Parousia.” The CAGED method is the solution. Like the Greek word harpazo, parousia is used in many different contexts. If we consider the context, aspirations of author, genre and examples it is then easy to divide rightly. Parousia means to come or be in one’s presence. It is used many times and in many different contexts and refers to many different people. Harpazo and parousia aren’t special words which automatically mean, The Rapture or The Second Coming, in fact, harpazo is a verb, it’s pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers who have changed the verb into a noun.
Nevertheless, in the context of 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul appears to be painting a picture to people who were not us, of the final Parousia of Jesus by describing it with the word harpazo. Context is king! Notice again that “God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” Yet the prophecy pundits proclaim the graves burst open in the twinkling of an eye, then go on to explain just how fast that is as if that matters, and those who are alive are changed in that twinkling of an eye. Parousia and harpazo are easily defined by the context but the prophecy pundits always miss the most important word which is not as easily defined, of which Paul deliberately used to the Thessalonians so that they would see the picture he painted.
Apantao; it is translated as “meet,” but this translation doesn’t do this word justice. In my opinion, the reason that the prophecy pundits focus on harpazo and not apantao is because apantao weakens their argument– all but destroys it actually. This is the single word pointed out by many Historical-Premillennial pastors as to why they don’t believe in a pretribulational rapture. Think about that for a second…go ahead, I’ll wait. The premier passage of proof for the pretribulational, premillennial prophecy from Paul is the exact same passage of which historical, premillennial pastors point to to prove there is no pretribulational rapture. Many people focus on Parousia, others on harpazo and still others on apantao. The CAGED method focuses on the picture Paul paints with his words. The CAGED method doesn’t deviate, omit, gloss over or rip words out of context but explores how the words were used elsewhere.
I want to start with my absolute favorite but before I do remember that the dogmatic dispensationalists declare the doctrine of The Harpazo (Rapture). Let me use the word rapture in place of harpazo as the prophecy pundits do. My guess is that you won’t have much fun with this as I do but I confess, it tickles me. John 6:15; “So Jesus, aware that they intended to come rapture him to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself, alone.” Context matters. My second favorite is John 10:29; “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to rapture them out of the Father’s hand.”
Harpazo is not a magic word, Parousia is not a magic word and apantao is not a magic word but it did have more meaning to the Thessalonians than it does to us– it was a linguistic and cultural thing. However we have the usage of apantao in the Bible to enlighten us to the word’s usage and meaning. Luckily it is only used a handful of times so that we won’t have to spend much time on it. This should help us as well because if it simply meant to meet, we would come across it much more. Also, remember the continuing context of the church in Thessalonica and the arrest of Jason and Paul’s nightly escape.
To be sure I knew what I was writing about, between writing that previous paragraph and this paragraph I looked up all the uses of apantao and I was wrong, it’s less than a handful. It’s only used two other times apart from 2 Thessalonians. But this is a good thing, we only need one example–“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to APANTAO him.’ Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, saying, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
When the five prudent apantao the groom, they didn’t return to the where the groom was in the ultra-fast, twinkling of an eye. Context is king. The meeting was not at the groom’s house or in the bride’s house but somewhere in between. Sort of like the people of earth meeting the king of heaven and earth in the air. Paul paints a masterful metaphor of the people of God meeting Jesus and welcoming him as the triumphant king, finally returning to his Holy habitation that he purchased with his own blood. I know there are questions and objections but these will be answered soon– the time is near. By that, I of course mean, the time is far off but when it happens, it will happen fast. (I’m not ashamed to tell how I not only used to believe that this is what John meant in his introduction in Revelation but promoted it as well. I explained away, rather than explain, how Revelation begins with things that are near and happening soon. I was wrong, it’s not that difficult to admit.) Getting back on track I want to get sidetracked with other ways in which I was wrong. I completely misinterpreted the parable of the ten virgins.
Many pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers teach that the oil in this parable represents the Holy Spirit. I used to think this myself but then I inserted the Holy Spirit into the text and came up with the ludicrousness of that.
Have you ever inserted into a parable that which pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers claim the inanimate object represents? It’s actually a great exercise in context considering. Too often we let our minds wander because of words and phrases. While it is apparently true that oil in Zechariah is the Holy Spirit, does that mean it is the same in the parable of ten virgins. Only consideration of the context, aspirations of author, genre (parable– be very careful), and exploring examples allows us to divide rightly. Always insert that which is taught into the inanimate object. It clarifies and is actually amazingly amusing. I can’t believe what the Joel Osteens of the world get away with.
Grain of salt, yet notice; “For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no Holy Spirit with them, but the prudent took Holy Spirit in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your Holy Spirit, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, saying, ‘No, there will not be enough (Holy Spirit) for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some (Holy Spirit) for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase (for Holy Spirit), the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.”
Yeah, I wrote that! Everyone places themselves in the midst of every Scripture. Everyone wants application to their lives. Everyone uses ego-circular reasoning, believing that every Scripture applies to them, as if the Bible was a owner’s manual to a 2015 Chevy Malibu. However the Bible is a literary masterpiece, written in multiple genres over multiple years with multiple authors. Audience application is apex. Continuing context clarifies and I don’t mind being a broken record. Notice my use of hyperbole, it used to be allowed but now everyone is literally so hungry that they could eat a horse. The Bible is all about Jesus and that which pertains to us, is still all about Jesus.
If the oil in this parable is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, half of all Christians lose their salvation. If you believe Christians can lose their salvation, you should probably start by reading a different book. In John’s gospel account Jesus claimed that part of his mission was to lose nothing of which the father gave him. This book is really all about the power of the cross. You can’t work your way in and certainly won’t work your way out. If one finds themselves working their way out, they must question if they were ever granted access. Nevertheless God is gracious– seek mercy and change your mind– slowly behavior will follow. With some of us, it will be very slowly. And there is the summation of this book.
Am I making any sense? Do the prophecy pundits make any sense or do they rip words out of context, time and space? Did God really say? The point Jesus made was not all about the oil but the prudent juxtaposed to the imprudent. Consider his audience which was not the 21st century church. Here is where it all comes together– my sarcasm, my banter, my cynicism, my rhetoric but ultimately the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics and the reason I took the time to write. What we believe about eschatology steers the ship, rather than letting the genre be the general, letting context continue, understanding the author’s aspirations to his audience, and exploring examples using exegesis rather than eisegesis lead the way. We read in our preconceived notions, presuppositions and taught traditions. Unless you are learning for yourself you only know what you have been taught.
The parable of the virgins is within the context of the Olivet Discourse. Don’t let chapter 25 interrupt what Jesus was speaking to his disciples. Jesus is still responding to his disciples concerning the question they asked about his statement that the temple would topple. Remember that the disciples wanted to know when because they understood the why– the Pharisees had set themselves in the chair of Moses, something of which belonged only to the Messiah. The Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation have nothing to do with the end of our world or the end of human history but the end of the world as they knew it– the Old Covenant. Revelation is the exact opposite of what we think; it is not the end for us but the beginning. Jesus was coming on the clouds of judgment against the proverbial virgins who did not bring oil in flasks. Search the Scripture and prove this wrong. Revelation is indeed a tale of two cities, a tale of two women. One city, the new Jerusalem, the New Covenant, comes down from heaven but the other city, the Old Covenant, the old Jerusalem suffers judgment and the toppling of her temple. The new bride, the wise and faithful bride is betrothed to the Messiah but the harlot bride, the unfaithful bride, is cast out from the marriage. Ultimately though, Revelation is exactly about its opening line, The unveiling of Jesus Christ; it is the culmination of the Bible and its narrative is that Jesus has won the day despite our sins and that self-righteousness has lost. Jesus divorces the old to establish the new, having bought the world back with his blood.
Heresy! proclaim the prophecy pundits. To them I respond, “read your Bible!” Jeremiah wrote; “The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: ‘Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me,” but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ declares the LORD.” ESV
I can hear them now; “that’s not literal!” And yet blood moons and stars falling are? We all say things, and I write them, that seem hypocritical. I tell the reader to not be dogmatic or legalistic but then write things such as; “this can’t be” and “that must be.” However I use hyperbole and am not being dogmatic but emphatic. Nevertheless the dogmatic dispensationalists can’t help themselves. Honestly it kills me to write this because the teacher speaking these following words is one of the reasons that the left-wing, atheists, satanists have been exposed: “every number written in revelation is to be taken literally.” Problem; he believes that the first mention of the number 7, the churches, is a metaphor for the churches over the ages. Also, the 7 “Spirits before his throne” is an obvious metaphor to the Holy Spirit and symbolic of completeness and not literally about 7 spirits. Watch out for hypocrisy and contradiction. Unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught.
Chapter Twelve: One People, One Nation, One Plan, One Faith From our Father
Genesis 12; “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'”
The Lord also said Abram, “‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. So shall your seed be.’ Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
God again spoke and said to Abram, “As for Me, behold,➡ My ⬅ covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.”
Consider the context because a pop quiz is near; right at the door. Why did God change Abram’s name from Abram to Abraham? Answer: Because Abraham was to be the father of many nations. God changed Abram’s name, his identity, his calling. Yet most evangelicals ignore this part, recorded later because it happened later, and go way back in Abraham’s life and what God said to Abram, then apply it to the current nation of Israel and no one else. They follow a bloodline and not God’s promised faith-line. Paul said this was a mistake. We will see this soon. Once again, those who claim to take the Bible literally, remove Abram and insert Israel into this text. There are only several problems with this– Isaac had yet to be promised, Jacob therefore isn’t in the picture at all. God spoke to Abram, before he was called Abraham, before Isaac and well before God called Jacob “Israel.” Abraham had yet to be circumcised or even called Abraham. The apostle Paul, the former Pharisee now converted, explains all of this, twice at least. First in Romans 4, but also in Galatians 3. We’ll forgo Romans 4 for the moment, simply for time’s sake, but please read it. Read all of the Bible, over and over.
Galatians 3; “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.’ Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’ However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, ‘HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE—’ in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Yet the dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the “church” was never promised. The prophecy pundits proclaim that the church is parenthetical in plan, people and period. How do we let them get away with this? Again, it’s because the presupposition takes prominence over what was written, the author’s aspirations to his audience, genre and examples, making dividing rightly all but impossible. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is clear, God always intended to be the father of many nations, to those who had the faith of Abraham.
John the Baptist spoke similarly to the Pharisees. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”
John the Baptist is a very unique character, in many ways. A book on how to interpret prophecy which does not include John the Baptist is not a book on interpretation of Prophecy. How many people in the Bible were not only prophets but were also prophesied about by the Old Testament prophets? Other than Jesus, I can think of none specifically spoken of as both a prophet and one of whom prophets promised, through both literal prophecy and brief bursts of an apocalyptic address. Of John the Baptist Jesus said, “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces. But why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'”
That’s from Malachi, we have already seen it earlier. Yet there’s a problem, for the dogmatic, Mark’s gospel account begins in the following way: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER BEFORE YOUR FACE, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.”‘ John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Mark should have written “Malachi and Isaiah” because he quoted both prophets, dogmatically speaking. Nevertheless the exact quote from Malachi builds off of and highlights what Isaiah prophesied previously. We can all learn a lesson from Mark. Don’t double down on dubious dogma but let the Bible interpret itself. Isaiah prophesied literally and figuratively concerning John the Baptist and Malachi made a brief but specific statement concerning John. Mark points us to both so that the big picture is seen but especially the context of Isaiah. This will re-appear shortly in the context as we put the puzzle pieces together. In the meantime we are looking at Abraham, the father of many nations and his seed. John, the prophesied about prophet, made it quite clear to the Pharisees and Sadducees that they couldn’t claim to be children of Abraham simply because of blood; that’s why John pointed out that stones could be true sons of Abraham in God’s hands.
It is not the children of the flesh but children of the promise who are descendants. One distinct people with one distinct plan– Jesus Christ, son of God, crucified, buried and raised on the third day. Don’t take my word for it, see what the former Pharisee wrote.
“The Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”
“Through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
“We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
“A renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”
“They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.”
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'”
“If the root be holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
Search the Scriptures; there are many more examples.
Paul makes it clear– believing gentiles are grafted into, adopted, to true Israel– those who have the faith of Abraham and there is absolutely no distinction.
Yet the prophecy pundits literally berate those who say that God does not have two distinct people with two distinct plans. Paul’s metaphorical picture of the olive tree is unmistakably against two distinct people but rather that God has made those who were not heirs, heirs and those who were of the bloodline were cut off if they didn’t share the same faith as Abraham. If you get nothing else from this book, and I sincerely hope that you do, understand that dispensationalists’ dogma is in need of the disproven dogma of God having two distinct people with two distinct plans. It’s the backbone, the cornerstone of their eschatological beliefs and we have seen how Paul doesn’t allow for this, multiple times. Again, this is where I must caution and alert you to the difference between explaining things and explaining them away. Dogmatic dispensationalism is a house of cards in a context tornado– easily knocked down but there is a reason I have dubbed it dogmatic dispensationalism—as they would be quite quick to point out concerning Islam, Marxism, LGBT+, The LDS and fascism, a lie told long enough becomes the truth. Is it not ironic that everyone is indoctrinated except those who agree with me? Sure, the dogmatic dispensationalists claim that they have Biblical support for their dubious dogma but we have seen 8 passages penned by Paul which say things like, “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised,” and yet the prophecy pundits proclaim that there is.
Maybe God agrees with the prophecy pundits; maybe not. Isaiah wrote way back in the Old Testament; “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will certainly separate me from His people.'” Read that again, it is absolutely antithetical to dispensationalist discourse.
Finally, after forgoing Romans 4 momentarily, let’s let Paul put the final nail in the coffin of the destroyed dogma that God has two distinct people with two plans. “For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU–” in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”
Chapter 13: The Coastline Paradox
Does a decline of doctrine in a certain society mean that the end of all things is near. Historically we have seen many ebbs and flows in discernment and doing of doctrine. I really write for the kids– the youth of our nation, as an apology. More importantly, I write as a warning. Your public school teachers, professors and the media lie to you, to be sure but more often than not, your pastors do also.
With pre-millennial, pre-tribulational, dispensationalism all but off of the picnic table in the park, as we begin to assess and assemble what the Bible really says, we must place the pieces of the puzzle, and nothing else, on the table, transferring the pieces from the transient table to the timeless table which is safe and secure. We could go on dismantling dispensationalism, and will, by highlighting more hypocrisy, such as their claim that the rapture is a sign-less event but the rapture is soon because all the signs are there. But disproving dispensationalism alone doesn’t fill the void left after one accepts that they have been taught wrongly. We will let Scripture interpret Scripture and fill the void left by the abandonment of dispensationalism, not necessarily with another ism or model but with a Biblical narrative and mode of understanding the Bible and prophecy based on the CAGED method.
How do we know what we know? Why do we believe what we believe? There is a link between one’s emotional state and what they allow to enter their brains. Like in the Superman comics, we are living in bizarro world. As The Temptations sang; “ball of confusion– that’s what the world is today.” Trust me, this is all by design. To be sure, unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught. However at some point the responsibility for truth lies on each person and what they allow to enter their brain. You have heard it said that you are what you eat. The new mantra is; you are what you eat eats. That is, if you eat a steak, you’re eating the grass that the cow ate. But as always, I take it to the next logical level and say, you are what you eat, eats, eats. You ate the cow, the cow ate the grass and the grass ate manure– meaning we’re all full of cow excrement. Don’t eat steak? Do you think you’re exempt from being full of excrement? How about mushrooms? At least those who eat steak have the filter of the cow whereas the vegans and vegetarians are eating more concentrated excrement.
It is similar with our spiritual food and how our minds are fed. Peter and Paul both wrote on this. Peter wrote to the aliens abroad;
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but, imperishable that is, through the living and abiding word of God. For, ‘ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ABIDES FOREVER.’ And this is the word which was preached to you. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘BEHOLD I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’ This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,’ and, ‘A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE;’ for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”
Isn’t the Scripture wonderful in its context, without chapter and verse breaks, editors’ footnotes, headings and the like? Congratulations are in order to those who have read even a chapter of this book a day because your Biblical intake has surpassed that of which most professing Christians read daily. It’s fairly unorthodox to quote a lot of context because the Bible is the Bible, it’s a bestseller but the real money is in opinion. The good money is in explaining what it means for the future and one’s health, wealth and happiness. Nevertheless the truth is the truth. Everyone can know the truth if they utilize the CAGED method. The unfortunate truth is that the truth is rarely preached, hence the decline in society. We don’t want the unadulterated milk of the word, much less the solid food of which Paul wrote, but rather desire what we want to hear. Is this not prophesied about by Paul to Timothy? It certainly was but to a specific time period in which Timothy lived. Nevertheless, history tends to repeat itself for those who refuse to learn from it.
Remember my analogy of losing weight compared to studying Scripture? Losing weight is simple but eating delicious cake is so much better. In the same way, learning what we want to hear is so much better than learning that which we do not want to hear, especially when we have to take the time to do it on our own. Suffering and persecution are the prime examples. The gospel is watered down so that our sins are covered by grace but the sins of the homosexual are a damnable offence. Don’t get me me wrong, they are, but is not the coveting you did today (don’t swear falsely because that is a damnable offence as well) equally as damning?
I am with the late Billy Graham, Doug Wilson and almost all pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers– on my absolute best day I would be condemned to death. Yet as always I take it one step further. With all of my studies of Scripture, with all my research, with all my God-given gifts and talents, with all my prayers and petitions, with the Holy Spirit at my side, with my baptism, with my confession of Christ, with my service, with my charitable giving, with my love for humanity and God’s creation– even as I write these things I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The problem is that I know better; the unsaved don’t. If I’ve been given free gifts from God, saved by God, reconciled to him and I still sin, how can the world not sin? How can I look into myself and see all my debts, trespasses, wanderings, lusts, covetousness, worldly desires, hate and everything else that still indwells me and then look at the world and call it wicked? How can I measure the world when I can hardly see my own sanctification?
Which has more coastline, Maine or California? The answer is, it depends on how you measure? It also depends on when one measures them. Is it measured at high tide, low tide, after a storm or during a drought? How far up the mouth of the rivers is considered coastline? If the coastlines of Maine and California were measured with a 10,000 mile long string marked in millimeters, which twisted around every rock and jagged, jutting edge of the shore, Maine would have the greatest coastline. However, if a ridged, straight edge were to be used marked in miles, California would have the greater claim to coastline.
In a similar way there is an absolute paradox when measuring the goodness of the world. How are we measuring it and how should we be measuring it? To beat the proverbial dead horse, the dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the world is getting worse because of passages ripped out of context and because we are seeing all the signs of the last days and we are in the last days therefore we are seeing the signs. My favorite now, in 2021, is Covid19. Covid19 is called Covid19 because it is a COronaVIrus Disease discovered in 2019. Go back 100 years to 1919. How were things then? The Spanish flu raged, killing more people than Covid19 by far, with no promise of a “vaccine.” The world was still reeling from “The war to end all wars,” especially a young soldier named Adolf Hitler. There were famines, earthquakes, floods and many people’s love had grown cold. Leon Trotsky and his troops trampled on all opposition and the Ottomans all but annihilated the Armenians. Teddy Roosevelt died. There were mail bombings, Wall Street bombings, race riots, labor riots, pestilence, infighting among the socialists party, deflation of the dollar, high unemployment, and no vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tuberculosis and many other diseases that ravaged the world at that time. One hundred years ago my grandfather walked this earth– who saw more death, depravity, destruction, hatred, spite, natural and man made disasters in their life, my grandfather or me? We’ll come back to this.
Go back another 100 years to 1819, after the war between the United States and France finally ended, economic panic ensued. The slaves states which legally and democratically enslaved Africans then born under the banner of the constitution because the ships had stopped, were only slightly outnumbered by the “free states” in the beginning of 1819. There were massacres, lynchings, kingdoms rising against kingdoms…should we go back another hundred years or move on? Who had a more difficult experience on this planet, me, my grandfather or my grandfather’s grandfather? We’ll come back to this.
Let’s look at the antithesis of doom gloom and destruction. How are we better off than 200 years ago? The first thing I would point out is how this book began. If persecution persists against Christians, Christianity is a threat to the world but not only the world but hell itself. Remember that the gates of hell won’t prevail against the “church” Jesus is building. Think: gates are not an offensive weapon but provide defense against those attempting entry. Therefore the church ends up crashing the gates of hell, infiltrates it, sieges it and takes possession of it– we’ll come back to this. One doesn’t kill one of which they are not scared, jealous, envious, threatened by, uncomfortable with or want to eat. Murder stems from hatred, hatred from jealousy and jealousy from fear. We covet what others have over fear that we will not have the same. Then we hate them because we are jealous and this can lead to murder. Christians are not killed for blasphemy against Allah but because they threaten the existence of Allah. We will come back to this.
Also, almost as important as persecution is the availability of the gospel. People throw around the term “unprecedented” far too flippantly these days. Nevertheless what is unprecedented is the availability of the gospel in almost every nation and in almost every language. Over a billion Bible apps have been downloaded and even this book will be free to anyone with a smartphone and it has the ability to be translated into dozens of languages. I was on a social media thread with missionaries from 16 different nations– that’s the good news but they really need to read this book.
Additionally the slave ships have stopped, medical advances have been incredible, travel, dentistry, safety, life expectancy, farming… you name it, most things are advancing away from medieval barbers bloodletting with leeches. Most people hate GMOS but not poor people in famine stricken regions. I enjoy my indoor plumbing, something of which we take for granted but was a new luxury to my grandfather. Missionaries can arrive to remote destinations in a matter of minutes instead of days. I have a greater library on my phone, with 5 or 6 Bible translations, than I do on my wall. Eye glasses are better but many don’t need them anymore because of laser surgery. While many of these things may seem materialistic and some are, they should all aid in gospel growth. I can text missionaries in Asia while on my phone because I don’t have typhoid. We’ll come back to this.
How do we measure society’s success or regress? Like the coastline paradox, which has ebbs and flows, we have a greater paradox in that it not only depends on our unit of measure but on our standard of measure. Should we use sin as a standard of measure? Most pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers would say “yes.” They would then quote one or both of Paul’s letters to Timothy but without covering all the context. Without hyperbole, I cannot count the number of times I have heard, “in the last days difficult times will come, for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money etc..” Rarely is it read and never is it emphasized that “they will not make further progress.” To see the world waxing worse and worse is not considering the context and certainly not noticing the author’s aspirations to his audience– Paul to Timothy. To emphasize this, that Paul was writing to Timothy, all one needs to do is read the first few verses and last few verses. Paul writes to Timothy about his family and at the end asks him to bring him his clothes and books. Yet we think that in the middle of this letter, Paul jumps 2000 years ahead to us, while still specifically instructing Timothy. The only explanation is ego-circular reasoning. We are the last days because we see these types of people and we see these types of people because we are in the last days– it is without foundation. Let’s therefore keep this puzzle piece on the table but off in a corner, that sin and greed and hate should be our standard of measure. Remember, the nations rage but they are plotting a vain thing.
Should goodness be our standard of measure? James, the Lord’s brother, wrote, “faith without works is dead.” In the past Christians got their hands dirty– building schools, hospitals and universities. Now we have it so easy that we email missionaries from our bathrooms– or is that only me? Compared to generations passed, or past generations, our good works are more than minutely minuscule. We’ve been on cruise control traveling up the highway our forefathers paved for us, filling our gas tanks with their blood, and like the 5 foolish virgins our tanks are on E. If I have yet to be called a heretic and have yet to be excommunicated from the global, universal ecclesia, perhaps I can push that envelope to its breaking point. Clearly we don’t study history but rely on the ego-circular reasoning of others because if we studied history, we would know that our church fathers were far from perfect. Most were abolitionist but some were not. Many were anti-Semitic, some burned “witches” at the stake, like Cotton Mather, the pre-dispensationalist. Tyndale was killed by alleged Christians for more accurately translating the Bible; they also wanted to kill Martin Luther. The list of the majority being good is much less over history than we want to believe. Nevertheless, if we watch the gospel growth over the ages, which was slow and methodical with periods of great growth and periods of great decline, ebbs and flows. like the coastline paradox; when did our modern decline begin? If generally speaking the United States was founded on Biblical principles and these principles grew so that slavery was eradicated, woman achieved the right to vote, universities were built and taught theology and hospitals were erected in the name of the Lord– where did are decline begin?
One usually hits that at which they aim. Jonathan Edwards didn’t preach that the world waxes worse and worse but that sinners needed to be converted. After the great awakening Edwards looked back and pointed to the great moral improvement in New England and knew it was because of the gospel. Nowadays the dogmatic dispensationalists look forward to a greater and greater moral decline which ironically, or perhaps not ironically at all, began when dispensationalism dug in its foothold. Most older dispensationalists argue that the church universal (ecclesia) was at its highest point, its apex, its zenith, when they were in their teens to early thirties. Not ironically this is when dispensationalism became the dominant, end-time philosophy. It’s also the age range everyone points to concerning the “glory days” of anything. “Music is terrible now! My generation had the best music.” “They don’t build it like we did.” I won’t go on– either you get it or you don’t. If you don’t, you could be part of the problem. It’s another acute example of ego-circular reasoning. Every generation thinks that they were smarter than the generation before but also believes that the next generation won’t follow this pattern, leaving their generation as the smartest generation. Only a completely egocentric generation believes everything revolves around them. The utterly ironic item is that the Pharisees thought that they were the greatest generation and Jesus came to them but in judgment, not because they were the greatest but because they were the worst. What was the standard of measure of Jesus? Same as it always was.
Micah recorded the following: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The Lord through Isaiah was pleading with Israel, Judah to be more precise, Jerusalem to be the most precise; “‘Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.’ Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken. How the faithful city has become a harlot, She who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, But now murderers.”
Therefore we have our standard of measure, correct? Not so fast, because in Isaiah we see a paradox– “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean?” How does one do this? The message of the gospel of Christ’s cross is that we cannot do this. We must be back to sin being our standard of measure then. The way in which we interpret our times must be based on the sins of the world.
But wait a minute; upon seeing Jesus did not John the Baptist proclaim, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world?” Did Jesus not specifically say that the world would be saved through him? John the apostle wrote; “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” We have to properly place these puzzle pieces on the table. Parenthetically, let’s look at the Tulip acronym for Calvinism; Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. Like any acronym it needs further explanation, much like the CAGED method. If you are unfamiliar with the five points, don’t worry, it will all work itself out.
Most Non-Calvinists would call me a Calvinist but most die-hard Calvinists would probably not. I have read much of Calvin’s commentary on the Epistle to the Romans; what I have read, I agree with, at least the parts I understand. When commenting on Romans 5, and I am paraphrasing, Calvin notes that the atonement of Christ while not effectual to all, is available to all or offered to all. I agree, the atonement, according to Calvin, is not necessarily limited but a better word would be “specific.” The atonement is unlimited in its power but only applied specifically. The Calvinists don’t want me, but if they did, all they would have to do is change TULIP to TUSIP. You can laugh, I did. My point is that God has decreed what will be saved, specifically and in his specificity or particularity, God chose to save the world. The application of the atonement is specific to God’s people, plan and ultimate end. Paul wrote; “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” No, Paul does not say everyone will be saved; he was not a universalist. Notice that the justification is of “life.” The atonement covers this earth– we cannot destroy the world with our nuclear weapons or our CO2, artificial intelligence or even UFO’s. Life now has a purpose on this planet because Jesus reversed the curse on the cross. I know this is confusing and we will come back to it, as always, but the point I am desperately attempting to make but seem to be falling short is that if you are a Calvinist, and believe that God chooses who and what he saves in his sovereignty, notice the overwhelming evidence that God chose to save the world. Not the Pharisees, not Stalin, not Hitler but the Kosmos or his creation.
To the Non-Calvinist I have a story. This story is about a former Pharisee named Saul. Saul was a Jerk. Saul was arrogant. Saul was a self-righteous bully and murderer. But God chose Saul to be his messenger to both the Jews and the Gentiles. I realize that anyone who has attended Sunday school or church more than 3 times knows theses things. I am also aware of the irony between my complicated and short explanation of Romans 5, the greatest chapter ever written, and my over-simplification of the former Pharisee, Saul. Bear with me because there is a link and a sublime string.
This jerk, Saul, was doing jerky things by persecuting fellow Jews who had believed in Jesus– It’s the VeggieTales version. We all know the story so that I will only hit enough highlights to get the big picture. Watch what happened: “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.'”
Jumping ahead a bit but remembering that Paul was persecuting fellow Jews who believed in Jesus and that Jesus said to him that he was persecuting Jesus; “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.‘ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.'” ESV
Ananias must have been a dispensationalists and a Calvinist because he couldn’t believe that Saul had switched sides. Ananias was like Moses who is a microcosm of us all. God; “Thus saith the Lord;” Me; “yeah but…” Like Moses, Ananias was told by the Lord to do something in a detailed description but Ananias argued with God. Essentially Ananias told God, “not him, no way, we all know about him and he is completely against us.” The Lord, praise the Lord, is patient with us. He was patient with Saul and with Ananias. Nevertheless he told Ananias to go because he had chosen Paul, the persecutor of his people to bring his name to Jews, gentiles and kings.
What happened next? Was Paul raptured to the third heaven? Did Paul confront Peter about his hypocrisy? Did Paul pen a letter to Timothy? Did Paul form a Church in Corinth? Eventually Paul went on to do all these things yet at that moment, when Ananias came to him, Paul was filled with the Spirit and received his sight. If Paul was filled with the Spirit, why did he waste time, shouldn’t he have sat down then and there to write to all the churches, teaching them about the rapture? We misinterpret the manuscripts by missing the minutiae. Saul being filled with the Spirit is not indicative that he now knew everything that there is to know about Jesus. Saul was saved, regenerated, born again by the Spirit, nevertheless he had to be sanctified as any other believer, perhaps at a greater rate but Saul was not a super apostle, yet. And according to him, he never became one. Paul was a paradox, chosen by God, rejected at first by a hesitant Ananias, an apostle to kings and Jews and Greeks but all he had at the moment he met Ananias was his sight restored and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
I highly doubt that anyone can see where I am going with this. Let me ask a question; why did Jesus choose Saul? Was it because he was a former Pharisee and knew the Old Testament and could easily be persuaded to understand the proper interpretation? It is an interesting theory but Saul, also known as Paul, refutes that line of thinking– we consider the continuing context and explore examples, ascertaining the author’s aspirations to his audience. Paul wrote that he considered his Jewishness, his self-righteousness, time and training as a Pharisee as loss and rubbish in his letter to the Philippians. What other reason could Jesus have had in choosing the former Pharisee Saul? Ironically enough Jesus told Ananias the reason he chose Paul: “to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” However that is more of the what than the “Why?”
To the church at Corinth Paul wrote; “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.” Again to the church in Corinth Paul wrote; “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.'” (NIV) He also wrote to them, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.” Why– couldn’t Jesus have snapped his fingers and made Saul the former Pharisee the super-apostle Paul– a first-century conglomerate of both Moses and Aaron? Of course he could have but that is not how Jesus works. Stuff takes time and while Paul’s growth in the gospel was exceptional and exponential, it didn’t happen overnight and he was never on the pedestal of which we place him; Jesus is. The point is that Paul is not only a microcosm of God’s election but of sanctification. Yet this doesn’t only apply to human beings but the world. Things don’t change overnight– Paul was paradox. Paul was not immediately the author of Romans. Paul didn’t immediately preach to the gentiles. Paul didn’t immediately go up to Jerusalem. I don’t find it difficult to understand that Jesus sanctified Paul slowly, do you? We understand our slowness of sanctification. New birth in the Lord is just that, new birth. Why then do we find it so difficult to acknowledge that the earth has been reborn and is being sanctified slowly?
Therefore our standard of measure should be in accordance with the gospel, by grace through faith. Has God not blessed the world with faithful followers who are willing to figuratively take up their cross daily? Yet here I sit, writing and not getting my hands dirty. Do I die daily? Am I in danger of robbers, danger at sea, danger from my countrymen? Despite my being a completely complacent Christian, the world is over 30 percent Christian. One may think to themselves that most aren’t “real Christians.” Looking at their difficulties, tribulation, persecution and patient endurance, I wonder if I am. Simply because America has hit the skids does not mean that the last days are here. Again, I am never shy about beating the proverbial dead horse, we misinterpret the last days and use ego-circular reasoning to ascribe the last days to our time and our backyards.
Chapter 14: A Title Transfer in Time, Times and Half a Time
The dogmatic dispensationalists’ discourse declares that the last days are the last days of the church age. They proclaim that the church is parenthetical and never part of or preached in prophecy. They also believe that God’s prophetic time clock stopped after the 69th week in Daniel. Furthermore they believe that we are in the very last of the last days because all the signs are here. Beyond this, they believe that the rapture of the parenthetical, prophecy-less church, is a signless event and that we are now in the last days of Daniel’s weeks and the signless rapture is about to happen in our generation. Put it all together and you’ll have my acute example of ego-circular reasoning. Also, attempt to understand the hypocrisy. If the prophetic clock stopped, why are we looking for prophesied signs of a signless event? Why do they give prophecy updates if prophecy isn’t associated with the rapture? It’s because they believe that prophecy cast shadows before fulfillment and that Israel becoming a nation again restarted God’s watch. Problem, if this was true, we’re out of weeks.
Let me attempt to explain the unexplainable, because they want to keep their cake and eat it too. The prophecy pundits say two different things concerning the restarting of God’s prophetic clock; frankly, I don’t know how they get away with it. As always, be weary of those who explain things away rather than explain them. Also be weary of those who avoid answering, ducking questions or attempting to shut down debate. The prophecy pundits are worse than politicians. At best they say things like, “it’s complicated” and then walk away. At worst they will call you a liar, a mocker and scoffer and anti-Semitic. It is not complicated, it’s simple, it may not be easy but it is sublimely simple. God’s prophetic time clock could not have restarted at the rebirth of Israel because we would be out of time. However the prophecy pundits will then argue that the time clock starts at the rapture. Actually, they’re forced to say it starts at the beginning of the tribulation which lasts for the final week or seven years of Daniel’s prophecy. They talk out of both sides of their faces. According to their dogma, only the seven years of future tribulation can restart the clock of prophecy. Therefore seeing signs now, seeing prophecy fulfilled now and giving weekly prophecy updates is against their dogma.
Hypocrisy! If God’s prophetic clock found in Daniel 9 did in fact stop, it cannot have restarted at the rebirth of Israel because that was over 70 years ago. Therefore we would be out of time because only 7 years, according to their math, are left. If then God’s prophetic clock has yet to be restarted, how can we see prophecy unfolding before our very eyes? The right-wing, dispensationalist fringe not only taught the left-wing how to shut down discourse but how to use mathing. In Daniel 9, where Ironically enough Daniel had just finished reading Jeremiah’s decree of 70 literal years, he is told that 70 units of 7 have been decreed. We begin with 70×7=490. Then Daniel is told that from the decree to rebuild to the Messiah, there will be “seven and sixty-two weeks.” 7+62=69 units of 7. 69×7=483. 490-483=7. No matter how one maths, there remain seven years after the Messiah is revealed. Nevertheless there is no gap indicated but if we assume there was a gap, seven years would remain and we would be in a parenthetical period. Problem; the prophecy pundits proclaim God’s watch restarted at the rebirth of the nation of Israel. We therefore have run out of years. Confused? That’s because they don’t make any sense– their numbers don’t add up. More important than solid, mathematical calculations is that there is absolutely no Biblical support for adding a gap in the 70 years or ascribing to an antichrist what belongs to the Christ.
My premise, which is based upon the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, is that there was an overlap between the old age and Old Covenant and the new age and the New Covenant. The New Testament Scriptures were written in this overlap. This is why we read things like, “in the latter days” and “the age to come.” Although the new age had come, the old age was still in effect. The perfect proof text is Matthew 12:32. “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” ESV We also notice what Paul wrote to the congregation in Ephesus; “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”
If the age to come is the tribulation, these things make no sense. This is because the Holy Spirit is allegedly removed and everyone mocks and curses God and the church is absent because of the alleged rapture rescue. It would be very strange if it were in the alleged millennial kingdom of the dispensationalists, because Jesus is said to be sitting at the right hand and not here on earth– context is king! We know how much I rely on feelings but I feel like this will get glossed over and that I am guilty of glossing it over.
Once again notice; God “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.” The age to come can neither be a literal millennial kingdom, as described by the prophecy pundits, nor the eternal state because Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God. We know that Jesus sits until all enemies are made to be subjected under his feet, the last being death.
Yet the dogmatic dispensationalists mock me for my parenthetical period of 40 years in an overlap of the ages of the covenants but have themselves an unbiblical, or; extra-Biblical, parenthetical age of nearly 2000 years. They themselves admit that the church age was never foretold. Nevertheless the overlap was not a parenthetical period, as the church age is presented as parenthetical by the prophecy pundits, in that it isn’t in prophecy. Also, it has less to do with Daniel’s 70 weeks and more to do with God’s patience and other promises in Daniel and the prophets. Daniel’s 70 weeks speak more about the covenant and initial exclusivity to Israel in the early church and in judgment.
Which is more Biblical by the way, 40 years or 1990 years? (Maybe now is not the time for serious jokes.) The book of Hebrews tells the reader of this overlap. James does also in his epistle, as does John. The pages penned by Paul and Peter are ever present with this theme. The problem is preachers preach and teachers teach with an agenda and not on the context, author’s aspirations to his audience, genre, expository exegesis of examples and then dividing rightly. The whole purpose of modern sermons is to tell people what to do and how to live but not how great God is even amidst our struggles, which pale in comparison to first-century followers.
This chapter will be long enough without exploring those examples but as always, I suggest searching the Scriptures for yourselves; we will only touch on these examples. The point is that the dogmatic dispensationalists argue against the overlap of the ages and that prophecy stopped until Israel became a nation again. Something of which I hope has been debunked. Nevertheless, let’s take a deeper look into God’s time clock. Most of this will be review but see the sublime string. Look for Jesus, not Israel.
“I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.”
“Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.”
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”
“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ A voice says, ‘Call out.’ Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’ All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”
“‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.'”
“Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, “PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!”‘”
“There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John.”
“He said, ‘I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, “MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,” as Isaiah the prophet said.'”
“‘Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the Prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he [The Messiah Prince; context!] will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
“And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
“These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.'”
There is your firm Covenant found in Daniel! Question: and I really would like an answer from the dispensationalists; where is the exact moment that the angel speaking to Daniel stops speaking about the Messiah Prince, the Messiah, the Prince and starts speaking about the far-future Antichrist? Another question; who makes firm, strong covenants with Israel? Another question; where do we find a passage that alters the straight forward structure of Daniel 9 so that we place a 2000 year gap in the 70 weeks? The dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the New Testament tells us to insert a parenthetical part into Daniel’s prophecy but I can’t find it and they can’t show me. It’s one of the thousands of reasons I walked away from dispensationalism. It is not found in Scripture but only in their model. Jesus came exactly on time and fulfilled his firm Covenant with Israel by sending the gospel to them first, for seven years.
Daniel 7 and Daniel 9 have been fulfilled, Jesus promised it would be in his generation, not the generation of the fig there– that’s eisegesis, reading things into the context. Prophecy didn’t cease at Pentecost but was fulfilled at Pentecost, Peter preached this. The church, which is a terrible translation of ecclesia, was not parenthetical but promised. Honestly, this is why I have dubbed them dogmatic dispensationalists, I don’t know how they miss this.
Hosea 2:23; “I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people;’ and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'” ESV
Zechariah 2:11; “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.” ESV
If only we could get rid of the word “church” and replace it with “congregation.” or perhaps, “kingdom.” God never promised a church because church comes from the German word Kirch and not the Greek, “ekklesia.” In the LXX, Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word ekklesia is found concerning the congregation of Israel. Jesus quoted the LXX. Therefore, if Jesus had quoted and translated it into christianeese, or modern, English, church vernacular, he could have quoted Exodus concerning the Passover and said; “all the church of Israel shall celebrate it.” I realize that this is difficult to follow but the same Greek word is used to describe Israel and the church. I don’t think that the LXX was inspired but Jesus and the New Testament writers quoted it. I know that “church” wasn’t inspired. The point: of course the church was never prophesied about because it is the wrong word. I should not even write this because it is our biggest tradition, it’s what we call ourselves and our meeting places but that doesn’t make it a good translation of eckkesia.
The greater point: if Israel and the church share synonymous, divine designations, such as, congregation, kingdom, Abraham’s sons, holy ones etc. and if Paul wrote over and over again that there was no distinction between Jew and Greek, is there a distinction between Jew and Greek?
The greatest point: There was a New Testament prophesied in the Old Testament, there was a New Covenant prophesied in the Old Covenant, and there was a new kingdom prophesied through the old kingdom and Jesus came to transfer ownership of the kingdom. Jesus bought the world back, redeemed it from the devil as promised in Genesis 3. In so doing, he transferred the title of the earth from the devil and his sons to himself and the sons of God, born of the Spirit and not of the flesh. John the Baptist prophesied this, as we have seen. Jesus made it his ministry to tell the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
To the religious, Jewish leaders Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ESV
We’ve already seen the parable of the vine-growers and its explanation: “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” The literal christianeese translation; “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to gentiles, producing the fruit of it.”
For three and a half years Jesus ministered to Israel all but exclusively. Then they killed him. Undaunted, as God tends to be, he sent apostles to them, all but exclusively for another three and a half years. There’s the seven years. The seven final years in Daniel have nothing to do with a far-future tribulation. Search the Scripture! Where have we seen seven years of tribulation? It is not found but added by a model of man-made eschatology, stringing verses together of which still never mention seven years of tribulation.
Once more, consider the context of Daniel 9; “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.”
70 weeks, or seventy sevens, not seventy weeks with a giant gap. These 490 successive years are decreed for the reason of finishing transgression, ending sin, making atonement for said sin, bringing in eternal righteousness, sealing up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. How is this anything but Jesus dying on the cross, laid in a tomb but rising on the third day and this good news going out to the Jew first then also to the Greek?
The dogmatic dispensationalists demand that this is the tribulation and that the temple and sacrifice will return and will once again be efficacious. Unfortunately for them, the author of Hebrews wrote, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” As an aside, the dogmatic dispensationalists argue to take Revelation and her plagues literally which I find humorous. In the midst of 100 pound hailstones, wormwood, blood instead of water, rotting corpses, stars falling to earth, attack helicopter locusts and all the other plagues, Jews are busy atoning for their sins by slaughtering bulls and goats. I hope you see that none of their dubious dogma makes any sense.
Jesus was cut off in the middle of the ministry to Israel. In the middle of the week, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for sin and did away with the blood and grain offerings– his body the grain or bread and his blood, the blood.
Just before Jesus swallowed up sin, made an eternal atonement, offered up the bread of his body and the wine of his blood, he told the Pharisees, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” Three and a half years later Jesus came to Peter in a vision.
“‘Arise, Peter, kill and eat!’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.’ And again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ And this happened three times; and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.”
Peter meets Cornelius, the God-fearing gentile on the third day, finally understanding the vision. “And opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
I haven’t read any books by Postmillennialists but have listened to a few podcasts and lectures on YouTube from Gary Demar, Ken Gentry and Doug Wilson. Amazingly we all see very similar things even if we don’t agree on every item. But Gary Demar saw something of which I never saw or put together before but he is absolutely right, and I will take it one step further. Here’s another pop quiz– what was Peter’s real, full name? Simon, very good but what was his last name? This I did know but never put the puzzle pieces together– and I can assure you that what we are about to see is not a coincidence. Everyone knows the verse but no one remembers what Peter’s last name was or the naming customs of their culture. Watch because you know the verse well, out of context, but well.
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'” Simon, son of Jonah– that was Peter’s name. What other Jonah do we see in the pages of Scripture? The one who was swallowed by a great fish. Why was he swallowed by a great fish? Follow along because this is where it gets very interesting and yet, it is something we all should have seen. The answer is two-fold– Jonah was disobedient– while he was supposed to go to the gentiles to preach repentance, he fled to Joppa, which is now located on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, to set sail on a ship going away from Nineveh and out to sea. But also we read in Matthew; “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment, and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” Jonah was a small but super significant sign and type of Jesus, not only the three days spent in the sea monster but in that Nineveh repented at his preaching. Jonah wasn’t happy about it and neither were the Pharisees. Jesus came to Israel in the firm covenant he made in Daniel, which was his covenant and not a covenant an alleged antichrist, and then went to the nations through his apostles, and like Nineveh, they will all eventually repent. What does this have to do with Simon, son of Jonah?
Where did Jonah flee to when God told him to go to the gentiles but Jonah couldn’t accept that? Joppa. Where was Peter when the Lord had to persuade him three times to go to the gentiles after the Lord fulfilled his covenant to Israel? Joppa. Did all of Nineveh repent at the words of Jonah? Yes. Is Jesus greater than Jonah? I hope you can figure the rest out for yourselves.
God made a prophetic promise to Israel and fulfilled it. Their King came to them and to his temple in the middle of the seven years but they slaughtered him like a lamb in the middle of the seven years. Despite this, his apostles went throughout Israel exclusively for another three and a half years before they went to the gentiles. God made a firm Covenant with Israel. God entered his house in the midst of the final seven years. Don’t let the dogmatic dispensationalists ascribe to the Antichrist what God did in his city.
Chapter 15: The Great City
Today, as every day, I was listening to dogmatic dispensationalist as I drove. The question was raised, “could America be Babylon in Revelation 17?” Remember to put aside presuppositions– before I bewilder the dogmatic dispensationalists and even the amillennialists with context– though I definitely do have a partially idealistic approach to Revelation– that is, if it happened once, it can happen again to a certain degree– strap on your sandals for some first-century flavor. Concerning an idealistic approach for Christians to Revelation– Paul said as much in 1 Corinthians 10, concerning repeating Israel’s mistakes. Nevertheless that has its own, first-century context. However, timeless truths exist and God has judged nations over and over throughout history. History repeats itself but we have been moving in the right direction, overall, though with many ebbs and flows. Perhaps we’re in the greatest ebb in the west since white folk wouldn’t let black folk ride on the front of the bus. Which is something I never understood. The back of the bus is a much more fun ride, especially over railroad tracks. My almost mocking of segregation is not mocking what some black people have been through in this country. Quite the opposite is true. I mock those white Christians who think that things were better back then. Those who claim that the glory days of the church were in the 50’s and 60’s. They should be ashamed of themselves.
America is not Babylon. America is not Sodom or Gomorrah or Egypt although at times we were very similar and we inch closer every day. In ivory tower, Christian debates, there is something called “the law of first mention.” I am not referring to that generalization in the following thoughts: but there is, and I do certainly see, a principle of first mention. We saw it in Daniel 9 even though the dispensationalists don’t. The angel introduced Jesus as the Messiah Prince, then the Messiah and finally the Prince. There is no contextual indication whatsoever that the Messiah Prince is neither the Messiah nor the Prince. The first mention is the Messiah prince, the second mention is the Messiah and the third is the Prince but they all refer to Jesus. In the book of Revelation we read of “the great city.” The “great city” is mentioned in Revelation multiple times but it’s the first time of which we should let define the subsequent mentions. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? As Christians we know that the chicken came first. Don’t look for the egg if the chicken is being discussed.
Watch: “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Where was the Lord crucified? Let’s rewind a bit.
If old Jerusalem could suffice, why would there be a need for a new Jerusalem? John “saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” Jesus said, “behold I am making all things new.” The writer of Hebrews stated to his first-century audience, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” Also: “if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.”
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” ESV Psalm 2 keeps ringing out in the background.
The dispensationalists believe that the first Covenant and the first Jerusalem were more than types and shadows and will return, substantially and effectively as an eternal promise to the Hebrews. But the author of Hebrews said the opposite– they were “ready to disappear.” We certainly see the overlap of the ages. The amillennialists see physical promises made to the Hebrews converted to spiritual promise which are fulfilled in the church. But the Bible portrays it differently than they describe. We’ll come back to this.
Jesus said, “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”
Two days later they killed him– in Jerusalem, the great city. Remember we read; “the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” We see that “the great city” is Jerusalem because that is where Jesus was crucified. We also notice that Jerusalem is called Sodom and Egypt, two nations judged by the Lord for their sins. Using the principle of first mention, which is only another way to highlight the context and explore examples, we should look for what else was written about “the great city” which we have seen, is Jerusalem. We should also be very familiar with the clothing and adornment of the priests found in the Law and with Matthew 21-25 as we read Revelation.
John recorded in Revelation; “And the kings of the earth, who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come’ And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more; cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet… and all things that were luxurious and splendid have passed away from you and men will no longer find them. The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste.’ And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’ Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her. And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer. And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and no craftsman of any craft will be found in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.’”
Because we have short memories and are taught something completely different, a reminder; “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell [lit Gehenna; a garbage dump]? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”
Of course everything mentioned in Revelation 18 is not found in its entirety in Matthew 23 alone but look at the allusions of Jesus to all the prophets– historical and the ones he said he would send. All the blood of the prophets was to fall on that generation. But what about the merchants and merchandise, the purple linen and the other things we see concerning the great city, especially the harlotry? We must remember the sublime string and all that we have seen and keep digging in the Bible to let it interpret itself. We remember that Jesus came to his house and found “in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.'”
Secondly he came a subsequent time “And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;” but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.'” Jesus first called them out for merchandising the sacrifice but on the second time he called them robbers– it’s an increasing indictment. In saying what Jesus said, the people present should have remembered Jeremiah and what God promised their ancestors: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.” ESV
Jesus is reminding them of the Babylonian deportation and the toppling of the first temple. That’s correct, Babylon– and the destruction of the temple and their society as well. Jesus told his generation that unless they changed, they would end up like their fathers only worse because he is now in their midst, physically inspecting their temple and has found the leprosy to be increasing. Don’t miss this; because in some ways it is subtle, as in the slight increase from a house of merchandise to a robbers den but the words of Jesus are not so subtle. “Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?”
Revelation 18 states, “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”
To the Pharisees Jesus said, “I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”
Revelation 18 reveals; “And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.'”
After Jesus cursed the fig tree, which the dogmatic dispensationalist demand is always Israel, to his disciples Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,‘ it will happen.
In Revelation 18 concerning the great city, Sodom and Egypt and Babylon; literally Jerusalem, We have read; “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”
Back to the woes against the Pharisees and scribes; “upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”
How is there any debate about what Babylon represents in Revelation 18? Look at the descriptions, especially the adornments of the priest found in Exodus and Leviticus and rehearsed in Revelation and Ezekiel. “They shall also make the ephod of gold, of violet, purple, and scarlet material, and fine twisted linen, the work of the skilled embroiderer. It shall have two shoulder pieces joined to its two ends, so that it may be joined. The skillfully woven band of its overlay, which is on it, shall be like its workmanship, of the same material: of gold, of violet and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.” Look at The harlotries of Israel in Ezekiel and the other prophets. I can’t understand how anyone misses these things concerning Jerusalem in the first century as Babylon. But then I remember, it cannot be, according to their dogma, it doesn’t fit the narrative.
Jerusalem had become Babylon. Jerusalem waxed worse and worse in her harlotries. Ezekiel 16: “Again the word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations…Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. ESV
The context continues; ““When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!” I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!” I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall, and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that you became Mine… Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals of porpoise skin on your feet; and I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands, and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dress was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil; so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you… But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. And you took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors, and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Also My bread which I gave you, fine flour, oil, and honey with which I fed you, you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened,” declares the Lord GOD. Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children, and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. And besides all your abominations and harlotries you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood. Then it came about after all your wickedness (“Woe, woe to you!” declares the Lord GOD), that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street, and made your beauty abominable; and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry. You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry. Behold now, I have stretched out My hand against you and diminished your rations. And I delivered you up to the desire of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who are ashamed of your lewd conduct. Moreover, you played the harlot with the Assyrians because you were not satisfied; you even played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. You also multiplied your harlotry with the land of merchants, Chaldea, yet even with this you were not satisfied.'”
Chaldea was Babylon, literally not figuratively. Jerusalem had become Babylon. Don’t forget that this was in Ezekiel’s day while Ezekiel was living as a captive in Babylon. Jesus finds the Pharisees to be more wicked than those of whom he sent into exile almost 600 years prior. My mind aches and my heart breaks over the fact that most Christians believe that God is going to pour out his wrath on Jewish people nearly 2000 years after the generation that killed him and his apostles and persecuted the early church. When I consider the context and let the Bible interpret itself, then I am in utter shock. Clearly Jerusalem was Babylon in Revelation 18. Clearly this was in the past. Clearly Jesus judged Jerusalem in his generation exactly as he promised after offering himself to them first in the firm covenant he made.
America is becoming like Babylon but we’re not there, yet. Jerusalem was also compared to Egypt, but we are not there, yet but we have been Egypt, have we not? If we could only ask Dred Scott; “how are we doing?” What we need is an honest examination and assessment according to the Word of God. I certainly see Babylon in myself. I see Babylon all around me. Nevertheless the Pharisees didn’t see the handwriting on the wall like Babylon. They thought they were righteous and justified in their illegal assassination of the Lord. At least I see and acknowledge my own wickedness and need for the righteousness of Jesus. Yet the cross also sets us free to be righteous. I have to better learn to walk according to the Spirit, to take the right steps in sanctification.
Honestly, if Lot was rescued from Sodom and Gomorra without a rapture, if Noah escaped the wicked world without a rapture, surely the bride of Christ can do the same and even crash the gates of hell as Jesus promised. If Israel escaped the plagues of Egypt without a rapture rescue, I am sure those of us post-cross, will have no problem. This doesn’t mean hard times are not on the horizon; they are, but it does mean that better times await. We are the chosen, the kingdom, true Israel and we need to understand this. We could have conquered the world by now if we only understood the Bible. Nevertheless, Jesus promised some slowness of growth.
Chapter 16: Promises in Parables
Jesus said; “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.”
First; the mustard seed isn’t even close to the smallest of seeds. Was the creator of the universe ignorant of his creation? I can never understand why we won’t grant a little literary license to the creator of literature and everything else. Don’t be dogmatic. Jesus is not stupid but actually genius in his use of hyperbole, not only here but elsewhere, especially in his apocalyptic address concerning the tribulation coming to the first century. The only problem is that hyperbole doesn’t fit dispensational discourse. Jesus literally said that the mustard seed is the smallest seed, but it isn’t; is he a liar? Notice also an exploration of examples which is completely contrary to dogmatic dispensationalism. They will be the first to tell you that the “birds of the air” represent those of the earth and the domain of Satan, as seen in the parable of the sower. Quite right; the evil ones eventually come to nest in the tree of God’s kingdom. Yet again, be weary of legalistic and dogmatic uses of words. One must exhaust exploring examples. We saw the use of clouds in the apocalyptic address. However, sometimes clouds are simply clouds– context clarifies, examples enlighten.
What was the aspiration of Jesus to his audience by teaching them this parable? What was Matthew’s aspiration to his audience by including it in his composition? Let’s boil the parable down to its basic elements. Something very small becomes something very large. Fair enough? We saw the life of the apostle Paul, not ironically, Paul means small. Paul was great amongst the self-righteous but was made small the day he met Jesus. Nevertheless he was built back up again, slowly, to become the most prolific writer of the New Testament. Paul is a parable of the kingdom, of sanctification.
Strap on your sandals and walk a mile in the shoes of a first-century follower of Jesus because our mustard plants are not necessarily the same. They had all seen a mustard seed, which is very small. They had also seen a mustard tree, which relatively speaking, is exponentially enormous compared to the seed. However which one of them present at the presenting of the parable had lived long enough to plant a mustard seed which was now a tree? We don’t know. It is not the point. The point Jesus made was that the kingdom was like a very small seed which grows into a very large plant. The amount of time isn’t necessarily the concern but it clearly doesn’t happen overnight or even in a week’s time. Therefore the kingdom does not come all at once but it starts small and grows very large at a particular yet somewhat undisclosed pace.
I also believe that Jesus used a tiny seed by design. Jesus could have used any number of illustrations to demonstrate how the kingdom starts small but gradually becomes very large. He could have played off the waters in Ezekiel as he does use water as a metaphor in John 4. He could have pointed to a tiny tributary of the Euphrates river that grows and grows until it reaches the sea. He could have used any number of objects that start small but gradually grow such as a baby becoming a man. Nevertheless he chose a seed. Jesus was the seed of Abraham. I believe Jesus to be pointing to himself and his death and resurrection as the tiny inauguration of the kingdom coming, small yet steadily growing thereafter. We certainly see Jesus as a seed throughout Scripture and even in the preceding parable. We’ll come back to this. Also notice the Scripture Jesus quoted and its obvious allusions. Psalm 104;
The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.” (NIV)
Read Psalm 104, its context is about how God sustains the earth and doesn’t destroy it. Nevertheless the dogmatic dispensationalists don’t disappoint with their doubling down on their disproven doctrines. After I finished writing this chapter I had to return because it was said on a radio program to which I was listening, “The Birds of the Air are always the wicked nations– in this parable, the birds come and infiltrate the church.” To which I first thought, “cool, you admit that the church is the kingdom.” However he clearly was not considering the context, ascertaining the author’s aspirations to his audience, jiving with the genre, exploring the many examples of birds of the air, but one example and didn’t divide rightly. Even if his one example were a timeless truth, they nest in the branches and don’t devour them. This would actually be perfect proof that the church crashes the gates of hell. As always, they let their presupposition of the rapture steer the ship rather than the continuing context or sublime string.
“He spoke another parable to them, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened.'”
Let’s look at a more easily understood translation.
“He told them still another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.'” (NIV)
Never be weary of looking up different translations to aid in your studies. It is not always helpful but often times it is. Admittedly I read “three packs of meal” and think that they’re 3 separate pecks and not one lump. However this is not the case, the 3 pecks are merely the unit of measurement of the lump of dough– which was a giant lump. Also word searches are usually helpful but in this case, not very much. Leaven is almost always a bad thing in the Bible. Nevertheless its use and even its negative connotations can help enlighten the reader if kept in its context.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention leaven and the Passover. Leaven bad, Passover good– done, moving on because Jesus was not talking to them about Passover but the action leaven takes in dough. That is it slowly rises. I guess it was about the Passover after all because the sons of Israel were in haste and couldn’t wait for their bread to leaven hence, unleavened bread.
Paul used leaven as a metaphor for sin. “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst…Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?”
To the Galatians Paul wrote; “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.”
The context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is at odds with the dogmatic dispensationalists. Paul called out the Judaiser in the Galatian assembly, even though he didn’t know who he was. Yet the dogmatic dispensationalists demand that the Law and sacrifice and that temporary temple that toppled will return. They might, they probably will but they will not be effectual and they will be an abomination.
Paul’s use of leaven as a metaphor is a simile to the simile of which Jesus uses. Yes, one is good and the others are wicked but the principle is the same. A little leaven works within to rise the dough. The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven are also like each other in they are slow (which is relative yet ambiguous but clearly implied).
In the parable of the seed, it is the seed that grows outwardly into a tree and then birds nest in it. But in the parable of the leaven, the already existing lump is large but then a little leaven is added to the existing lump and slowly (because Israel left in haste) the lump is all leavened. There are definitely similarities but also differences. The overall aspiration of Jesus to his audience is to see two ways in which the kingdom slowly grows. One starts from the tiny seed (again I believe this to be himself and his sacrifice) which when planted slowly and outwardly becomes a great kingdom. Whereas the leaven works within the already existing lump, which I see as the world, and internally the kingdom of the lump becomes the kingdom of God and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever, slowly but measurably.
The parable which first caused me to doubt dispensationalism was the following: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprang up and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ And the slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'”
Where’s the Rapture Rescue? Now, l have to get out in front of this because this parable, even though it is explained to the disciples, still is not about what we think it’s about. It’s about the kingdom which we know is like a mustard seed and a little leaven. Nevertheless I am going to play the devil’s advocate for a brief period.
Where’s the rapture? Where’s the rapture? If the premil, pretrib rapture was a thing, wouldn’t this have been the perfect opportunity for Jesus to present it clearly? We see the wicked and the good growing together but at the end it isn’t the righteous who are raptured first but it is the wicked. Shouldn’t this be like the days of Noah where the righteous are raptured? Both the days of Noah and this parable are completely ripped out of context and worse yet, the content of the composition is ignored. It’s the exact same thing that 99 percent of Christians do with 2 Timothy. My advice as always is to keep reading! In the days of Noah it is the wicked who are swept away. In 2 Timothy the evil impostors do not make further progress. In this parable it is the same; read the explanation Jesus gives to his first-century followers.
“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
I placed these parables out of order so that we would know that the kingdom is like a mustard seed and a little leaven, which both slowly grow. It was so that we would have a fair view of the kingdom which Jesus likened unto a barn as well. I believe Matthew composed his account in opposite order for the same reason. Matthew was building but I’m attempting to tear down and rebuild. We have so many presuppositions and preconceived notions that we have to understand certain things first before we can see the greater picture painted because our minds have been clouded by years of taught traditions. It’s much more difficult to get a Christian to change their mind than in any other religion. This parable is Matthew 24– this parable is Revelation. The end of the age is not the end of the world, as we have seen.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which grows into a big tree. The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven which slowly rises the large lump of dough. The kingdom is the barn. The barn is not a far-future millennial kingdom, because the barn is like a mustard seed. The barn is not the heavenly places because the barn is like leaven rising the dough. Therefore the parable of the wheat and tares is like Matthew 24 and Revelation; it is not about the far-future but begins in the near future to the first-century Judean.
Exploring examples is essential to enlighten. The bad seed (again it is no mistake that Jesus uses seeds) was planted by the devil, they are his sons. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father,” in John 8– check out that context. Again, John the Baptist, the frontrunner, said, “do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” (NIV)
Much like the Parables paint a portrait of prophecy, Revelation uses similar similes and other imagery to communicate the intentions of Jesus. Nevertheless, if we have seen many images, sayings, colors, numbers, metaphors and all sorts of literary devices repeated in Revelation, why don’t we see the alleged antichrist anywhere within its pages; originally one page, it was a scroll?
Chapter 17: An Annihilation of our Understanding of Antichrist
The Antichrist is neither of the beasts in Revelation 13– sea beast nor land beast. If you have read this far and still disagree with me–thank you, I appreciate it. You could be doing anything else with your time but you chose to keep reading. Let me make it clear; the antichrist is neither the beast from the land nor the beast from the sea in Revelation 13. The problem is that we hear “this is the antichrist” over and over and over again, so that we are brainwashed into thinking that this is some far-off to them, but near to us, one-world ruler coming soon, to us, not them. Actually there is a one-world ruler coming, his name is Yeshua Hamashiach, YHWH, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Almost everything that is ascribed to the the alleged antichrist by the dispensationalists and even many amillennialists is actually the Christ, except Revelation 13, but that isn’t the antichrist either. Don’t let me interpret Scripture for you and certainly don’t let the dogmatic dispensationalists interpret it either. Let the Bible interpret itself. This is especially true when it comes to the antichrist and Revelation’s beasts. This is because John the Apostle is the only Biblical author to use the moniker of antichrist. John is also the author of the book of Revelation. Therefore we can reasonably expect that if John wrote about an antichrist in Revelation, even without the moniker of antichrist, the definitions and characteristics of antichrist and beast would be very close if not essentially synonymous. They are not even close, in the sense that an apple and cabbage are not close.
Both apples and cabbage are used for food, have seeds, grow from the ground but is there really any similarities in flavor, consistency or how they grow– one hangs from a tree and one grows on the ground. However, if one compares cabbage with a Chrysler, then the apple and the cabbage become more alike than in a straight comparison only to each other (a little lesson in context considering). The same is true between the definition John gives of the antichrist and the beasts. Compared to Jesus, both are bad but compared to each other they are clearly different.
Of the antichrist John writes in his first letter: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be evident that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”
First thing, from the jumping off, from the get go, we see that the antichrists were from the fold, so to speak. Obviously John makes it clear that they truly were not from the fold but that they were in the fold at some point. Then we see that these antichrists deny the father and the son. We will come back to this.
Leaving the antichrists on the back burner, lets look ahead to Johns second epistle or letter. Like driving through a tiny hamlet, slowing down to see the sights, proceed slowly or you will miss the definition of the antichrist. “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not remain in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who remains in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
That’s it, that’s all he wrote about antichrist and I know you want more but we have been given more than enough. If ever the Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutic was needed, it is right here. Look again, the definition of antichrist is actually plural and happening as John wrote.
Notice that in John’s first letter antichrist was coming but in the second letter antichrist had come. Read it again, it is in the present tense. Also notice that the antichrist was going door to door teaching Docetism. Remember that John was not writing to us but that it was recorded for us– he was writing to the early church. Given the content, how would you describe antichrist? He came from the early congregation but didn’t adhere to the doctrine that Jesus came in the flesh, he denied not only the trinity but the father and the son, he taught his heresy as a anti-apostle and was alive and well during the first century. He was not a government official, he didn’t perform signs and wonders, he didn’t regulate currency or persecute people. Essentially he was a gnostic. The best, and only, definition of antichrist is given by John but somehow people miss it. Not only this but that he also came, as John said he would. He was from the flock but not of the flock and preached a gnostic mysticism and not a fleshly coming of Christ and a form of modalism. He was like heresy wrapped in blasphemy around false doctrine.
Now let’s look at a couple of beasts.
“I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne, and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been fatally wounded, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’ A mouth was given to him speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slaughtered.”
Don’t look at the Chrysler, look at John’s picture of the antichrist and the beast. While there are certain small similarities that could be perceived if one is also standing on one foot, squinting and looking at a Chrysler too– these are clearly not the same entity.
Let’s look at the other beast.
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who live on it worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of the sky to the earth in the presence of people. And he deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause all who do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
Is this the antichrist? What is the only similarity that we see between the land beast and the antichrist? Answer: deception. And the dogmatic dispensationalist take that and run with it. But they’re running with scissors and one shouldn’t run with scissors. They are cutting and pasting and making their own conglomeration of Christ-less characters into one Big antichrist, something of which was not John’s aspiration to his audience. Should we not use the principle of first mention to discover why there are glaring differences between the antichrist and the beasts with only one, slight similarity? Go back to the garden and see the first deception; “Did God Really say?” From the beginning the devil was a deceiver and he was the father of lies. He was also the father of the Pharisees, the antichrist, the beast from the sea and the beast from the land. Nevertheless, the Pharisees were not the beast, the beast was not the antichrist, the antichrists very well could have been a few Pharisees but I can’t prove it but they surely resembled one, more than one of the beasts. Context is King, not the single word “deceiver.” John said it himself, many deceivers went out.
The antichrist was a fairly irrelevant religious figure, going door to door, teaching Docetism but the beast from the sea is clearly a government figure and an extremely influential one at that; maybe like a Caesar or something? An argument could be made that the land beast was a religious figure and I would agree, actually I am sure of it. But I am sure that he wasn’t the antichrist even though he, better stated, it, was against Christ. Satan was against Christ, was he the antichrist? Judas was against Christ, was he the antichrist? The high priest was against Christ, was he the antichrist? We have the definitions from John and it is clear that the antichrist was not the beast from the sea. The beast from the land however is admittedly more cloudy but no one calls the beast from the land the antichrist, ironically. Do we honestly think that John would warn the first-century followers to not welcome the great beast, who controls the economy, if he came knocking at their door?
Did the antichrist come from within the early church? Yes. Did the beast come from the early church? No, he came from the sea, which is a metaphor but not usually for the church. Therefore they are separate entities. The question is, “why is this important?” Doubt the dubious dogma doctored by the dogmatic dispensationalists doubling down on defeated doctrine. They constantly and consistently use eisegesis and ego-circular reasoning.
I bet you want to know who the beast is from the sea. All it takes is wisdom to figure it out. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his bondservants the things which must soon take place…John, to the seven churches that are in Asia…Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” Jive with the genre, it is an apocalyptic epistle, written to mid first-century followers or alleged followers. The needle scratches off the record for most at what I just wrote. “No, Revelation was written at the end of the first century!” Says who– dogmatic dispensationalist with dubious doctrines or the prophecy pundits who placed president Trump back in the Whitehouse for four more years? Perhaps you are more level headed and studious and are thinking about what Irenaeus ambiguously wrote in Against Heresies. The same Irenaeus who also wrote that Jesus was about 50 years old when he died? Look at the internal evidence in Revelation and not the external. The temple still stood in Revelation as John was told to measure it. Even if this was imagery or a metaphor or a far-future temple; why was there no account or explanation for the destruction of the former temple? But wait, there’s more.
When reading Revelation one shouldn’t carry with them presuppositions or preconceived notions, such as when it was written. Nevertheless, after reading the first chapter the reader should carry with them the notion that the things to follow would happen soon and with haste. In addition, the reader should understand to whom John was writing; seven churches in Asia or, Asia Minor, not far, and forming circle of sorts, from Patmos. I beat my brow when the dogmatic dispensationalists’ discourse discusses why we don’t necessarily see America in the apocalyptic epistle of Revelation. You won’t, you can’t, because America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, who wasn’t born until 1400 years after Revelation was written to the seven churches in Asia, about what was soon to take place in their lives. Moving forward in Revelation, we begin to pick up other time indicators other than soon, especially when we understand the sublime string to the Old Testament and the words John uses.
If I said I was going to the “Big Apple” to watch a Broadway show, where would I be going? What if I said that I was about to board a plane to “the Windy City?” Perhaps I send you an email asking for money for a plane ticket home because I lost all my money in “Sin City.” I could text you an invite to come with me to celebrate Mardi Gras in the “Big Easy.” Most people would know exactly which cities to which I was referring. In the same way, John wrote to the seven churches “this calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.” Like I expect you to figure out that I lost all my money in Las Vegas, John expected the seven churches to figure out on which city the women sat, giving them great clues, which in turn, gives us great clues as to the timing.
Rome has been called “The City of Seven Hills,” as has Worcester, Massachusetts and Lynchburg, Virginia. Nevertheless context is king, Therefore we can rule out Worcester and Lynchburg because of the context and timing. Notice the seven kings and notice John’s description. “They are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.” We know that Revelation had to have been written sometime in the first century, this is all but unanimous in the church. However, do we see anything written here that is known to history which can help us zoom in on the approximate date of John’s penning of this apocalyptic epistle? Seven Roman kings, five have fallen, one is, the other has yet to come, in their day, and when he comes it is only for a little while. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, that’s five that had fallen. Nero was and Galba was about to come but ironically only reigned for a little while of seven months and seven days as the seventh. Joel Osteen is right, once in a great while, God does have a sense of humor. I could go on but the point has been made; Revelation fits perfectly into the time just before 68 AD, meaning that like Matthew 24, Revelation isn’t about the end of the world as we know it but the end of the world as the Pharisees and scribes knew it. We could go on exploring internal evidence and lack thereof but I want to leave plenty of material for you to explore.
Chapter 18: Wait, What?
John 14 is the crutch to the dogmatic dispensationalists’ rapture-rescue argument but it is so off base and out of context that I can only scratch my head and think, wait, what?
They claim that Jesus spoke to his disciples about the rapture and how he was going to build a wonderful place for us, even though he was talking to them, to dwell during the seven years of future tribulation which we have debunked.
“‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.'”
When I was young child and read this passage, not understanding the greater context, I thought that it was really cool that Jesus created the universe in 6 days but that he has been building heaven for 2000 years almost– what a marvelous place it must be going to be– when I was a child. Yet the dogmatic dispensationalists still make this claim. Look at the context, Jesus doesn’t go to build, it is already there, he says so. Also, he said prepare a place, as in maybe set the table and make the bed.
Jesus could have used the Greek word “architektōn” if he wanted to communicate more of a building aspect in his statement, specifically said to the twelve and not us. It’s where we get our word; architect. Paul uses this word, metaphorically as well, to describe to the church in Corinth, how he built on the metaphorical foundation of Jesus. Nevertheless when speaking to his disciples, days before, possibly even the day before the day of days, the day on which all of history hinges, the day Jesus reversed the curse on the cross– his aspiration to his audience had nothing to do with a rapture rescue or Jesus building mansions in heaven. Jesus was preparing to prepare the way. Watch how the sublime string ties it all together.
Continuing in the context of John 14, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.” Considering the continuing context clarifies; Jesus was not speaking to his disciples about heaven only but also earth, the Holy Spirit is the evidence. One more item in the continuing context of John. Jesus prays to his father; “But now I come to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy made full in themselves. “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
How could Jesus speak of a rapture rescue to his disciples then ask God to keep them in the world? How can prophecy not mention the church? How can Jesus be in heaven if Daniel 7 has yet to be fulfilled? The most difficult thing for a person to admit is when they are wrong. I get it, I feel for some of the dogmatic dispensationalists. I know someone who knew the man who invented a fire stoping form of asbestos. He thought he was saving the world from fire. He didn’t know the full ramifications of asbestos. He died in regret. He didn’t double down on his concoction but realized the truth yet couldn’t get over the harm he believed he had caused. Pardon the hyperbole but by the time he used asbestos for fire stoping, everyone was using it for everything. But when he learned the truth about the health hazards, he spent the rest of his days in sorrow. I imagine the pastor, preacher, theologian and teacher that has promised a soon rapture of the church who is confronted with the context, aspirations of author, genre, examples and division of the Scriptures rightly– their whole ministry comes into question. And this, rightfully so but it isn’t the end of the world, literally. Apollos didn’t have it all correct but God used him mightily.
I imagine that many readers have pastors or favorite media personalities who teach of a pre-tribulational rapture and now they are calling into question either my sanity or their pastor’s ministry. Everyone is wrong about something. Remember, your pastor didn’t invent asbestos but was taught the pre-tribulational rapture. If you fit this category read this book with your pastor and divide rightly whether I am insane or he needs to take a second look. But never forget that we were all wrong, we are still wrong and we will be wrong. Jesus is right and slowly sanctifies us. Don’t double down on the dubious but be open to gospel growth. Again, Apollos was an excellent example but Paul was also. Paul didn’t have it all down perfectly in Acts, did he? What about Peter and his hypocrisy? Read it again if you missed that part. The whole point of this book is the slowness of sanctification juxtaposed to a rapid rapture rescue. Nevertheless there are thousands of dispensationalist that will die doubling down on debunked doctrine.
What else makes me say to myself, “wait, what?” We have covered most of them, from the two distinct people with two distinct plans to the parenthetical partition placed in Daniel 9. Yet the dogmatic dispensationalist have many extra-biblical beliefs which boggle my mind. They use headlines to interpret the Bible and not the other way around. The latest are UFO’s, Microchips and Artificial intelligence; I guess they finally got bored with attack helicopters, nuclear weapons and barcodes.
The theory now, because it is the latest buzz which will fade away like all others, is that all these UFO sightings are demons, deceiving the world so that when all the Christians disappear in the rapture, it will be blamed on UFO’s and extra terrestrials. On one particular program bordering on being prophecy pundit placating, it was stated that not only are UFO’s demons (even though they actually more resemble God’s glory in Ezekiel) but that the man speaking to the host, spoke to another man about Roswell (isn’t that always the way– I know a guy who knows a guy). The man claimed to have been at Roswell and swore that it was real. Always question and always take it to the next logical level. If it was real, tangible and matter, how could it be demonic? Also, if the technology was so superior to maneuver at unbelievable speeds and agility, how did it crash? How did they get caught? Even in the old Mission: Impossible, the messages self destructed. I’m sorry, none of it adds up to anything but sensational Sasquatch seeking.
But what about AI? Artificial intelligence truly could disrupt the world in an enormous way. It absolutely could, and to a certain extent already does, monitor and control how we buy and sell. But that’s not what Revelation presents; we’ll come back to this. Truthfully, as it stands, I am not sure I can get the entirety of this book through WordPress due to algorithms. Ten years from now I am all but sure that it will be banned because of AI. Nevertheless follow this line of thought about controlling who buys or sells to the logical conclusion. We don’t know our Bible and we don’t remember history. Cui bono? Who stands to gain? Who benefits from this? It would be greatly short lived and no matter the entity, it only lasts so long as you feed it. Every oppressive system spawns a black market. Never underestimate criminals even against AI. However this is less about the AI than it is about our complete misunderstanding of Revelation. Will AI cause us pain? Probably, everything seems to at first. But Revelation and the mark of the beast is not about what we think it’s about, it is actually the opposite.The mark of the beast, first-century Rome, more specifically Nero, wasn’t about a cashless society, tattoos, barcodes or microchips but about cold, hard coinage. Whose inscription was on a denarius? Caesar’s. What was the root of all kinds of evil? Money. What did the Pharisees scream when Pilate asked them if they wanted him to kill their king? “We have no king but Caesar!” What does one need to buy and sell? Money. Was the mark of the Lord figurative or literal? They thought it was literal but it was not. Yet we think the mark of the beast is literal, yet it is no longer a mark but a microchip. We have lost our collective minds. When will we wake up and see that dogmatic dispensationalism not only is false teaching but has also taken its toll? The church’s greatest decline came not long after the adoption of the destructive dogma of dispensationalism, not because we’re in the last of the last days as they claim but because one usually hits that at which they aim. More importantly, Jesus didn’t rescue us in the form of a rapture within a generation of Israel returning as a nation. How many people have become disillusioned because of this? The problem is that they cannot look to the word of God for the truth because they were taught a bad hermeneutical approach. Therefore they walk away. One cannot expect many to hear “Jesus is coming soon” for 40 years and not begin to question his coming and rightfully so.
Chapter 19: Perusing the Parousia
If I write; The coming of Jesus…one wouldn’t know if I wrote about Jesus coming as an infant or coming to one of the seven churches or his final coming. All are Biblical but without giving the context the particular coming of which I began to write is not known. This is another simple exercise in context considering. “I am coming quickly,” Jesus said, but what is the surrounding context that makes 98 percent of Christians believe that Jesus was not coming quickly? To best understand we must pursue and peruse “parousia,” the Greek word often translated as “coming.” Much like every other word in the history of words, the context intimates its intended definition and use. Let’s explore examples.
2 Corinthians 10:10; For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence (“parousia”) is weak, and his speech of no account.” ESV The context is Paul writing to the Corinthians about his boldness in writing but not in his presence, from their vantage point.
Philippians 2:12; “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence (“parousia”) but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” ESV This is an excellent example of how the context confirms the author’s aspiration to his audience. Paul is obviously using antonyms concerning being with them or not with them. Our first two examples certainly seem to mean “presence,” chosen as the first for this reason, they don’t translate very well to “coming.” But others do.
1 Corinthians 16:17; “I rejoice over the coming (parousia) of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part.” Ouch! Leave it to Paul to be completely straightforward. I want to pause here to point my overarching point. Read 1 Corinthians and if your church is worse than their church, maybe I am wrong about eschatology. Look closely at the awesome advantages that the church in Corinth had juxtaposed to their behavior. Paul wrote; “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.'” Think about the advantages of actual apostles attending and teaching at their gatherings. Also notice other first-century phenomenon; they had prophets, speaking in tongues and translation of tongues. Yet they abused these gifts, divided over the apostles and until Paul wrote them this scathing letter, they only had the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Paul preached directly to them and wrote to them at least 3 times. How could they then have gotten drunk at communion while others went without? Remember that the kingdom is like a little leaven in a large lump of dough.
To Timothy Paul wrote: “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing (parousia) of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.”
Clearly Paul was writing about Jesus coming in the flesh and dying on the cross. Paul was writing to Timothy about historical facts as well as Spiritual truths. The context dictates how one is to best understand the use of “parousia.” The translators did well with this. However, things are still open to our own interpretations if we don’t consider the context ourselves.
1 Corinthians 15:23; “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (parousia)…” Is this his coming as a baby in a manger? Of course not, even a cursory reading of only this verse excludes that particular coming. Nevertheless we have seen his coming as a baby presented by “parousia.” As stated, it is not a magical word that means “rapture” or even the final coming. However, in certain contexts it does mean his final coming, which is also the alleged “rapture.” Yet it also refers to almost any number of his comings. However the word parousia does certainly have the sense of drawing near, coming close, appearing within one’s presence.
Notice again Malachi 3, this time verse 5: “‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of hosts.” What was the context? The messenger coming, who we know was John the Baptist, then Jesus coming to his temple, then offering an acceptable sacrifice and then Jesus draws near for judgment. We have seen how all the other pieces fit and parousia fits perfectly into the context of Matthew 24 and Revelation as Jesus coming in just judgement against Jerusalem.
Chapter 20: Highlighting my Hypocrisy, An Honest Explanation, Perceiving the Paradox
God is not racist and doesn’t choose people based on their bloodline. Yes, God can choose a tribe of people to go first and be all but exclusively interested in them but he never was. The Hebrews were chosen but they were not to be exclusive but set apart.
Extra Biblical sources were discouraged in this book but isn’t this book an extra Biblical source? In fact, this book denounced one extra Biblical source while embracing another. Before we search extra Biblical sources, we want to have a firm grip on the Biblical narrative. One man’s account, which is fairly ambiguous, does not hold up to “two or three witnesses.” Therefore I do not look to Irenaus, a single source but I can look at history. We can say anything we want about the future because the veracity of the future’s historicity cannot be confirmed until it happens. History however has been set in stone, despite tumbling monuments and statures, book burnings and censorship. The historical veracity of Rome and her emperors is commonly known. The Bible matches the historical account and this should excite Christians, emboldening them to preach the historicity of Jesus and his promises. Unfortunately we’d rather know the future and be players in the play of a rapture rescue rather than the Great Commission.
At the risk of going so far that I offend people so much that they finally stop reading this book at this point, let me ask, why do we treat the creator and redeemer of this world like he’s a sophomoric tyrant? History is what it was and it proves God is great, hugely all-powerful and honest beyond measure. Creation cries out for the world to look at the Lord. Jesus predicted that the temple would be destroyed in a generation and it happened but we think Jesus was speaking about our days? Let’s look at a paradox that is not found. We believe that God is going to destroy the world again, like a sadistic school-boy burning ants with a magnifying glass. But did God really say?
“Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, ‘Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.'”
We think God gave Noah a paradox or a catch 22. We believe God said, “I will never destroy the earth with water again,” then under his breath, kind of coughing, covering his mouth, subtly said, “but I will torch it with fire.” We have been taught this and actually believe it. But what did God also say?
“I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.” This is a covenant God made with himself, therefore it is unbreakable.
It’s the apostle Peter who painted a proverbial paradox which demands utilization of the CAGED method, placing the boarders and corner pieces first, not straying from the parameters put forth. Peter wrote after the flood and the post-diluvial covenant. Peter wrote post Abrahamic covenant, post old Covenant but prior to the fall of Jerusalem. In other words, Peter cannot contradict what was written but is most certainly expounding on what was written.
“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 1ooking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Peter, writing to the scattered aliens, specifically mentioned the flood. After the flood, the Lord swore to himself, because their was no one higher with which to swear or anyone higher to whom he could swear, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”
Peter knows this, Peter cannot contradict this. This is a Covenant God made with himself and not Noah, Abraham or Moses. This Covenant is like the New Covenant because it is not between God and man but God and God.
Exploring examples enlightens. If the New Testament writer writes about the Old Testament, one must make sure that they know what was written in the Old. Peter does it again by mentioning another Old Testament concept of which Peter can expound but not contradict. What was this concept?
The day of the Lord: We’ve already seen multiple days of the Lord. Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar went to sack Egypt and that was the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord refers to any number of days in which the Lord judges a nation and blesses a remnant. It is and was never an entire annihilation. What other Old Testament phrase does Peter use?
New heavens and new earth: One must read Genesis, Isaiah, Ezekiel, oh and Paul’s letters, to even begin to understand that which Peter presented in his penning to the first-century followers, scattered around Asia, the exiled elect in the province of Pontius, pushed by persecution to flee Jerusalem and Judea. It is no accident that Peter’s pennings are presented post-Paul’s pennings. Let go of ego-circular reasoning and egocentric attitudes. Peter wrote to them and it was recorded for us. Put away presuppositions and preconceived notions created by ego-circular reasoning. Strap on your sandals and see the first-century context. Set aside all the “isms” and read what the scattered read, not what Calvinism commends or what dispensationalism demands but draw out what Peter told the first-century exiles; literal exiles. At some point, someone has to stand up and scream, “this is not about you!”
I’m always disappointed when reading calvanistic commentaries on 2 Peter 3. They absolutely attempt to understand the author’s aspirations to his audience but only to explain away Peter’s aversion to Calvinism. They are always too quick to point out that Peter writes to the “elect.” Therefore when Peter wrote that, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” The “you” here is the elect, and therefore they claim that God does not wish all to come to repentance but only the elect. As always I take it to the next logical level. Doesn’t perseverance of the saints indicate, based upon Romans 8, that all the elect do come to repentance and are sanctified? Therefore Peter would be ridiculously redundant. Accept that the Bible is full of paradox but not hypocrisy. We always place the cart of our isms before the horse of the Scriptures. We need to accept that the Biblical narrative is replete with paradox but not hypocrisy.
Peter gives an apocalyptic address to those patiently waiting for the Lord to come and deal with the situation they find themselves in; exile. The best part is what Peter doesn’t say. Peter doesn’t speak about a rapture rescue but about the new heavens and new earth. One must examine Isaiah.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the cone who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain.”
We have seen it before and it hasn’t changed– people die and bear children in the new heavens and new earth. In the resurrection, Jesus said, they don’t marry but are like angels, meaning they don’t die either. Peter was not telling them about our eagerly awaiting but their eagerly awaiting. We must remove our egocentric attitudes and place ourselves in the first century.
Peter literally walked with Jesus. Peter literally walked with Jesus on the water. Peter saw the Lord glorified on the mountain. Peter was outrun by John to the empty tomb but Peter ran past John and into the empty tomb. Peter jumped out of the boat to swim to shore to meet with the risen Lord. Peter may have denied Jesus thrice but Peter knew Jesus. Peter was there during the Olivet Discourse. Peter knew the signs of Jesus coming on the clouds and was writing to a people who were part of the prophecy. Jesus said, let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” The Lord’s coming was easily escapable. Peter wrote to those scattered about these things. Peter knew that it was good for them to be scattered because of what was about to befall Jerusalem– Christ coming in his just judgment, where the old. elementary things of their world of worthless worship were about to be destroyed. That’s from John chapter 4 and we will come back to it in conclusion.
We know now that the last days were the last days of the Judean eon, we know that Jesus was about to come to Jerusalem in judgment, having drawn near to them and found their house, formerly his house, to be rotten. Peter, Like Isaiah, is not writing about the resurrection of the dead but the destruction of the old order to make way for the new, much like the days of Noah. Think about this: in the days of Noah it never rained until the day they entered the ark. For forty days it rained until the old world was destroyed. In a similar way, forty years passed between the resurrection of Jesus until the temple toppling in 70 AD. As the old world was undone in forty days, the next eon was undone in forty years. Think about how long it took for the Law to come in after Noah. Think about how long it took Jesus to come after the Law, think about the little leaven and a mustard seed. The new world has been inaugurated but it could be thousands of years before it finds ultimate fruition. Remember also, it is not the resurrection but ironically enough is a new dispensation. Jesus bought the world back from the devil, by a show of humble force but the kingdom doesn’t drop overnight. Jesus promised it would take time and Isaiah wrote that there would be no decrease of his government. We must take the long-view of both scripture and the new heavens and earth.
Again I may appear to be hypocritical and explaining things away rather than explaining them but look at the context and the sublime string. Begin with the corner pieces of the puzzle and the easily identifiable borders and then move on to the more difficult pieces, knowing that they have to fit within the borders of continuing context and the sublime string. Clearly people perish in the new heavens and new earth but they do not in the resurrection. People plant and rear children in the new heavens and new earth but do not do so in the resurrection but are like angels, as Jesus said. Peter presents an apocalyptic address where intense heat is a metaphor, it has to be, because Jesus came to save the world. Again I sound hypocritical in my dogma, but it springs from the consideration of the context and seeing the sublime string and not from a presumption of preterism, which I formerly mocked as absurd but cannot find anyway around it now.
Chapter 21; So, What Now?
Jesus was extremely patient; shouldn’t we follow suit? A rapture rescue admittedly sounds really good right now. I could list a thousand reasons why it would be beneficial for me to leave this wicked world and go to mansions prepared for me in heaven. So many in fact, that I don’t even know where to begin. Yet here’s the problem; God has not called us to escape this wicked world and even more importanty, he redeemed this wicked world. How dare we call wicked what God has redeemed? How dare we call evil that which the Lord is purifying? What gives us the authority to condemn that which Jesus reigns over from his heavenly throne?
Dogmatic dispensationalists declare that we are to “delay the decay.” Yet that is quite hypocritical coming from a group of people who proclaim that Jesus comes when things get really bad. Should we not then encourage the decay? Although they will never admit it, that is exactly what their dubious dogma does. Jesus made it clear through his teachings, the apostles teachings and through the Old Testament tutor, that we are in it for the long haul but God has set his King upon Zion and he will rule the nations with a rod of Iron, at God’s right hand, until all his enemies are placed in subjection under his feet, the last being death. Why are the nations in an uproar? Why do the people of earth attempt a vain thing? Jesus cannot lose. Jesus has already won. Yet as his people we are called to reciprocate the great commission given to the apostles. We are not called to be rapture ready but to make disciples as the disciples made disciples. We are not called to win people for Christ at all cost but to count the cost of a lifelong commitment to growing and maturing disciples and not only snatching souls from hell; that’s short sighted. 21 years later and I am right back where I started, seeing corruption at every level. It would be so much easier for me to believe that the world waxes worse and worse, judging by the sin I see in myself and the sin of all those who surround me. However the Scripture says what the Scripture says and for 21 years I didn’t fight for the widow, plead for the orphan, help the hungry, selflessly sacrifice to stop sex trafficking. Even now I am a hypocrite, writing about the future rather than working to build a better one. Like the prophecy pundits, I blah, blah, blah but don’t put my proverbial money where my mouth is. There is so much sin in this world that we don’t know where to begin– baby steps– Jesus paid the ransom– we can take chances. It started like a mustard seed but has grown and will grow but I think we have a long way to go. Also, it is like a little leaven in a large lump that internally grows– we can’t do it alone but need each other. I know it doesn’t sound like it but I am pleading for unity. This begins with self-study–search the Scripture.
After his resurrection Jesus gathered the remaining 11 of his 12 disciples and said to them; “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Look closely at the context, remembering the greater context that Jesus was raised from the dead after making an atonement for sin. Notice that all authority was given to him not only in heaven but also on earth. Notice that he told his followers to make more followers, teaching them all he commanded and not simply evangelism. Most importantly notice the “therefore.” Why could the disciples make more disciples? How could they teach all that Jesus commanded them? It is because of the conjunction “therefore.”
Jesus was given all authority on earth and in heaven because of his obedience– and because of this, therefore; so that; since; for this reason all authority was granted to him. His disciples could now go to the nations, including but not limited to Israel, and make reciprocating followers of Jesus. Do you see this? Jesus does not say that God has granted him a limited amount of time to try to make converts. Not at all! Jesus says that because all authority is his, the disciples can now go and make more disciples.
What now, what is left for us to do? This is the soul piercing part to me. I see it and preach it but my belief is still like a mustard seed. I could blame it all on the damage dogmatic dispensationalism did to me. Admittedly I still struggle with the thought in the back of my brain that the world waxes worse and worse and that all hope is gone except for a rapture rescue. But the truth is that I am the only one to blame for this. I live in fear even though the most common command from Jesus is “fear not.” Nevertheless the narrative is clear, Jesus reigns from heaven as king because he purchased the world back, not giving into the devil but suffering as a servant, taking the long, hard road. Let’s be honest, we don’t want to take the long, hard road. We didn’t count the cost but jumped on what we thought would be a walk in the park until Jesus rescued us. We need to get back to our roots and stop circling the wagons. It is time to go back on the offence and storm the gates of hell. One thing of which the dogmatic dispensationalist are correct is that we resemble the church in Laodicea. Even if we have fire for somethings, the main thing has been taken off the table and that is to overpower the gates of hell, subduing the earth and making true disciple not ones who want to escape a death sentence but are ready to die, go to prison and the like. Persecution persits because Jesus is winning, has won and will win.
Sometimes in war, a tactical retreat is necessary to regroup and reevaluate. Because I am writing online, I don’t have freedom of speech but assume that the reader will understand. We are in a beast-like system, I don’t deny that. Conscientious Christians have lost and will lose their livelihood. Sometimes it seems like there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide; proof that we don’t have a Matthew 24 situation, yet it may be time to run to the hills. Nevertheless if we run to the hills it better be to regroup and defend said hill and prepare to advance on another. The question is where do we start. I would like to say with the sanctity of human life but I think our retreat must go deeper and further back into the church. We have to clean house, thoroughly. We’ve got to get back to the basics and away from the fanciful. This all begins with understanding what the Bible really says.
I would like to tell you how much I loved reading Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict but it is a difficult book to follow in many ways. However it is a masterpiece as far as research papers go (I met Josh McDowell once, briefly, a long time ago, just after I made it about halfway through his book). I assume that most people will think that this book is difficult to follow as well and that is because we both cite many sources, especially in the Bible. I have given copious amounts of content as evidence and truly believe that it demands a verdict.
Therefore let me give one final, biblical thread, even though there are many more threads and sublime strings and many more questions of which you probably have; such as Gog and Magog, Armageddon, seven trumpet blasts and the like. However after this final example I believe that you will have enough border pieces and corner pieces to begin working on these parts of the puzzle yourself. But again, start with the simple and then look at the increasingly more difficult, remembering to utilize the CAGED method and remember that Psalm 18 is the apocalyptic address to Second Samuel’s Historical narrative. Remember Psalm 2, in which the nations rage vainly because God has set his King on Zion. Remember that in Daniel 7 the Messiah, or; anointed one; the prince, Goes up on the clouds, not down, to the courtroom and throne room of the ancient of days and is given an everlasting kingdom, physically seen by the disciples in Acts two and testified to by their detractors; “They serve another king but Caesar; Jesus.” Remember that the kingdom was described in Daniel 2, which was a stone not made with human hands but it grows into a great mountain that crushes all other kingdoms and is like a little leaven in a large lump of dough and a tiny mustard seed which grows into a large tree. Remember in Psalm 110 that Jesus must reign from heaven until he has made all his enemies a footstool for his feet and that Paul expounds on this to the Corinthians letting them know that the last enemy to be defeated is death. All of this is contrary to the claims of the prophecy pundits. We must have a Biblical retreat. We cannot trust half of American pastors and preachers, theologians and teachers and need to search the Scriptures for ourselves.
John chapter 4: “A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away to the city to buy food. So the Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that You, though You are a Jew, are asking me for a drink, though I am a Samaritan woman?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus replied to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ She said to Him, ‘Sir, You have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do You get this living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, and his sons and his cattle?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life…Believe Me, woman, that a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, “I am He, the One speaking to you.'”
Rather than as Oil, the Holy Spirit is presented to the Samaritan woman as water springing up. Where else do we see the same motif of water springing up? This is a difficult pop quiz because many pastors and preachers, theologians and teacher don’t teach on this passage.
Ezekiel 47: “Then he brought me back to the door of the house [temple]; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar. And he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate, by the way facing east. And behold, water was spurting out from the south side. When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the hips. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not wade across, because the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be crossed by wading. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen this?’ Then he brought me back to the bank of the river. Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then he said to me, ‘These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.'”
Notice the progression measured in increments of a thousand. Perhaps we have solved the coastline paradox? Notice also the direction, the banks and the trees and also that the sea, often a metaphor for the nations, it becomes fresh and all the fish live. Fishing is what the disciples did. No doubt many miracles and metaphors from Jesus come flooding to mind, much pun intended. You now have all the tools to search the scripture and see the sublime string but notice one last thing. We will go back to the beginning then the to the pivotal moment in history and then we will go to the end.
“The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused every tree to grow that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there as well. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already removed from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have put Him.’ So Peter and the other disciple left, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead, faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first; and he stooped to look in, and saw the linen wrappings lying there; however he did not go in. So Simon Peter also came, following him, and he entered the tomb; and he looked at the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings but folded up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb, weeping; so as she wept, she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they put Him.’ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and yet she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Thinking that He was the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means, Teacher).”
I would love to camp out here for a while and really dig into this text but I promised short chapters in a short book and we are almost at the end. Therefore we will only hit the highlights and I will encourage you to really dig and mine for gold, in not only the resurrection but all of Scripture. A few things to consider that really seem to almost leap off the page at me concerning creation and recreation, even though we haven’t dug deep into creation, we all know the story even if we miss the minutiae. According to John, who was there in part as an eyewitness to most of these things, Jesus appeared to a woman of alleged ill repute first, in the garden, and she didn’t recognize him at first until he called her name, thinking that he was in fact a gardener. Why would she think that Jesus was a gardener? Was he wearing denim overalls and a straw hat, or was it because he was in the garden, doing gardening things, working the soil and trimming the hedges, as man was supposed to do from the beginning? Jesus appeared to the woman first– could this be because of the curse that came with a blessing and a better sacrifice as we read about in Genesis 3? Had God crushed the head of Satan through the seed of a woman, not Ironically named Mary?
But here’s what really gets to me, deep down and I admit it is a tiny thing yet it does dictate much of my theology because it is a tiny thing; Jesus had risen but no one knew it. Jesus was right there and Mary was in his parousia or presence but did not recognize him, even though he promised to be raised up on the third day. John wrote that they believed but I am convinced that he did not intend to indicate that they believed God raised him from the dead at that particular point. I believe that John meant that he believed only that the tomb was empty; he believed Mary and Peter. After Peter ran in, then John, they both believed Mary, because they saw that Jesus was gone as well. Couple this to the fact that John told us that rather than go look for him, they went home. Quickly, let’s look at all the gospel accounts concerning the instant that Jesus was raised from the dead, which is the foundation of our faith otherwise, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians as he explained the resurrection, our faith is completely worthless and worthy of mocking.
Luke recorded; “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” ESV
Matthew wrote; “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.'” ESV
Mark tells the reader, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.'” ESV
“Do you see what I see”( a Christmas Carol) or better stated, do you see what I don’t see? We read about an earthquake in Matthew’s account but this happened when the stone was rolled away, not to let Jesus out but to reveal that Jesus wasn’t there– he had already risen. We read about angels but their message was that Jesus wasn’t there, he had already risen. John and Peter ran to the empty tomb but Jesus was gone and they went home. Mary assumed that the gardener might have taken Jesus away. I wonder if anyone is traveling down the same path as I am?
Let me take one final blow at the egocentricities of an alleged rapture rescue, where at the last and final trumpet, they proclaim, the church is whisked away to heaven for seven years as ironically and hypocritically, seven more trumpets blow.
Look again at the four gospel accounts of the resurrection; what is actually missing from all four accounts? Think about it, the most important part of history, the point in history on which everything turns, the culmination of all that Christ had done, the crushing of Satan’s head, the beginning of a new and greater covenant commenced, the greatest prophecy to ever be fulfilled, the most incredible miracle of all time where God acknowledge that Jesus had fully appeased his wrath. But at the instant of the resurrection, not one person saw it, not one person recorded how it happened, there was not even a short peep from a trumpet, an earthquake, a beautiful sunrise, a rainbow or any signs. The world was so much the same world that John and Peter went home after seeing the empty tomb. Jesus was raised from the dead but nobody knew it. Think about it; everything the prophets pointed to had been fulfilled and sin was defeated but in his victory, Jesus was all alone. Not a peep was heard nor a sight seen on the most import instant in history. But not long after, Jesus was found to be working in the Garden.
As Doug Wilson says, “the kingdom of heaven doesn’t drop like the 82nd Airborne.” But it started small, almost without any notice or trumpet blast but it slowly grows into a giant mountain. This is Daniel chapter 2. Remembering the beginning and seeing the middle, Let’s look at the end. Notice the similarities to the beginning and to Ezekiel and to the woman at the well and Isaiah and 2 Peter and the juxtaposition to the Resurrection and the metaphors and the apocalyptic address. Isn’t it possible then that trumpet blasts could be metaphorical?
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment…’ Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever…’And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book…’ Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” ESV
Remember people die and raise children in the new heavens and new earth. Remember we briefly saw the sublime string in Matthew 10? What did Jesus say to his disciples about his coming? “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” This isn’t a rapture rescue– consider the context. Jesus was coming in just judgment against Jerusalem and Judea. Keep everything in its context and you will do fine.
If John was describing the eternal state, why would tears need to be wiped away? If this is heaven, why would there be a need for the tree of of life? Remember that the tree of life was planted in the garden and that Adam and eve were kicked out so that they couldn’t eat from it, yet we have been granted access. Is the tree of life not a image of Jesus and a juxtaposition to the tree of death; the cross? If this is our ultimate end, why would we need the mark of God? So then and therefore, because of this and consequently, we now can be freed from sin and risk obedience because of one act of obedience nearly 2000 years ago.This world may still resemble the old world, as it looked exactly the same on the second Jesus rose from the dead. Nevertheless, the kingdom is growing and is, or was, perceptible. The only thing that threw a wrench into that recently was the invention of a rapture rescue– we lost our grip. The disciples were called to make disciples because Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth, and in his authority, his kingdom is like a little leaven in a large lump. There is reciprocity in discipleship. We are not called to merely make converts, especially saying that Jesus is coming soon, but to make disciples who will also make disciples– we’re in it with a longview for the long haul. We know that the kingdom increases, it’s time to work to that end. But don’t take my word for it, see what the Bible says.
I could go on and on and I actually want to but it is better for believers to search the Scriptures for themselves. I only write to encourage this and to prime the pump. If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section but please, utilize the CAGED method and study the Scriptures, turning the page because many questions are answered simply by continuing to read. Go back to the beginning and start from scratch, putting aside your taught traditions, presuppositions and preconceived notions, hymns, verses, VeggieTales, chapters, headings, commentaries and consider the context, aspirations of the author to his audience, genre, examples and divide rightly the word of truth. I do not write to divide but to unite, that we all may be one as was the prayer of Jesus concerning his disciples. But that is what Luther thought when he nailed his thesis to the door. We all need help at times, if you want more information on Partial-Preterist Eschatology, meaning much prophecy was fulfilled in the past, there are a handful of contemporary authors who have written better books than I have; at least I assume this, I haven’t actually read them– Gary Demar, Doug Wilson, Kenneth Gentry Jr. to name a few. Also, there was Jonathan Edwards. Nevertheless I may be crazy because I gave Bob Marley the first and last words: “As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end…There is no hiding place from the father of creation…one love”