Introduction “The War of Ideas”
Everyone looking at the conflict in the Middle East (and U.S. policy affecting that area) realizes that while engaging militarily at times is necessary, the ultimate solution will have to come from another area. Therefore, many see the various conflicting religious theologies/eschatologies fueling these areas as being solved ultimately through a “war of ideas.” What they mean by this, is really a “war of theology/eschatology” that needs to change in order for peace to emerge. The Problem Summarized Unfortunately these three futurist eschatologies all share common errors that perpetuate conflict in the Middle East and the U.S. such as:
· God allegedly has predicted end time “signs” that are being fulfilled right before our eyes today such as natural disasters, wars, and an imminent arrival of an evil ruler or “antichrist” “man of lawlessness” etc….
· God allegedly will cause its religious system to overcome others or inherit certain local “holy land” areas and ultimately the earth.
· There is an alleged future “end time” “great war” (ex. the battle of Gog and Magog).
· God allegedly will send Jesus or Messiah to save Israel (or condemn Israel ie. Islam), bring global peace, defeat the antichrist and infidels – thus ushering in paradise on earth.
But what if it can be proven that these Biblical “end time” “signs” and “holy war” scenarios have already been fulfilled? And what if the OT prophetic material concerning Israel being saved or gathered “in the land” have been fulfilled through the Church and “in Christ” under the New Covenant? Does the God of the Bible really support or recognize modern day Israel as His beloved people connected to a holy land? Is modern day Israel and the events of 1948 a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Are Christians in the U.S. supposed to support modern day Israel because God will bless any Nation that blesses Israel? Or is modern day Israel just another unbelieving nation among many others that needs the gospel? And what if it can be proven according to Allah’s “revelations” that Muhammad was a false prophet, and thus the Quran is not a revelation from God? These are all very important questions when analyzing these three “end time” religious systems and trying to find an affective “war of ideas” that can bring as much peace as is possible among them. Therefore, let me answer some of these questions and give the reader my propositions from the outset:
· Jesus predicted that His coming, the end (of the old covenant) age, and all of the signs described in Matthew 24-25 would be fulfilled within His contemporary “this generation” and were fulfilled by that time (Matthew 24:34).
· While under the Old Covenant there was a literal “in the land” militaristic kingdom or theology, but it served as prophetic literal types and shadows of Jesus’ spiritual kingdom or being “in Christ” under the New Covenant.
· The “time of the end” and “the great war,” battle of “Gog and Magog,” or “Armageddon” has already taken place.
· The events of 1948 have nothing to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
· Modern day Judaism nor Islam have any religious right to “holy land” in the Middle East or the planet earth today.
Outline and Approach to the Solution
My approach in this article is twofold:
1. Summarize the erroneous overlapping eschatological material that each of these systems hold to and…
2. Demonstrate how these overlapping prophetic concepts have either been proven to be false and failed predictions or have already been fulfilled when the Old Covenant age (“the end of the age” “the end” “time of the end”) vanished in AD 70 and the New was matured and established.
1. Islamic Eschatology
Introduction: There are two religious sources within Islam which teach the “time of the end” eschatology. The first is the Koran which is viewed as inspired and infallible allegedly describing God giving the prophet Mohammad revelation from the angel Gabriel and compiling the doctrine which resulted from those revelations. Not much eschatology is found in the Koran except affirmations of a future coming “hour” in which Allah will resurrect men and judge the world. The second source is the Hadith and is not considered as infallible as the Koran because it contains teachings and stories about Mohammad’s life that were not considered direct revelation from Allah. These teachings were compiled some 200 years after Mohammad’s death. As we will readily see, Mohammad and Islam borrows OT and NT Scriptures and joins them and their concepts with other “revelations” from angels or prophets giving them the “true” meaning (similar to Jehovah’s Wittnesses or the Mormons etc…). “We are living in the final era of the last days” mentality: Islamic Jihadist groups justify their wars and actions as simply fulfilling Allah’s teachings and that they are living in the final era which will usher in the Second Coming of Jesus and the appearance of Mahadi. There are three main or significant periods of time for the Muslim before the final judgment comes and there is much debate as to if some of them overlap. They are: 1. the time which followed the death of Muhammad, 2. the period in which his contemporaries passed extending to and ended a 1,000 years later. It is taught today that Muslims are now living toward the end of this second period and that the appearance of Mahdi will bring them into the third which is the “end of days” era. General and Specific Signs: Like the three time periods discussed above, there is much debate on where these signs belong within their eschatological timeline among Islamic adherents. So I will list many of them and place in bold those that may overlap or concepts that were borrowed from Jesus and the NT. General Signs: · Earthquakes and natural disturbances. There will be three landslides and smoke will appear darkening the planet. · The taking away of knowledge and increase of ignorance (of Allah’s teachings). Seeking false and unknowledgeable teachers. · The increase in sexual sins (having sex in the streets as donkeys do), drinking alcohol and high interest rates. · Increase in secular music. · Increase of wars including civil wars and Jews fighting Muslims. · Women’s population increases while man’s decreases (probably due to wars). · The Romans/Christians will become the majority. · A desire to die will increase due to the natural disturbances and the wickedness of man which will run rampant. Specific Signs: · Mahdi will appear which will be the first sign of the third eschatological period of the end of days. · The second sign is the arrival of the False Messiah or Antichrist Dajjal who will appear having miraculous powers, blind in one eye, and he will deceive many but true believers in Allah will not be led astray. It is believed that he will be a Jew and muster up a mass army of 140,000 (70,000 being Jews). He rules most of the world for a period of 40 years · Jesus’ second coming is the third major sign marking the last days and when he comes he destroys the antichrist. · The fourth sign of the end time scene will be that the wall which imprisons the nations of Gog and Magog will break and they will surge forth. When the great battle of Gog and Magog occurs there will be two massive armies attacking Jesus and his followers followed by Jesus crying out to Allah whom will deliver them. · The fifth sign is that Medinah (an Islamic holy city in Saudi Arabia) will be deserted because the righteous follow the Madi and the unrighteous will follow the antichrist.
- The sixth sign is that a thin ruler with short legs from Ethiopia will attack Mecca and destroy the Kabah.
- The seventh sign is the appearance of the Beast of the Earth, who will populate the entire world and judge the wicked.
· The eighth sign is a peaceful breeze which kills Jesus and all the righteous. · The ninth sign will be the rising of the sun in the west. · The great battle of Gog and Magog occurs which consists of two massive armies attacking Jesus and his followers followed by Jesus crying out to Allah and Allah delivers them. · Jesus’ earthly reign also lasts 40 years during which time he establishes the one true religion of Islam in the hearts and minds of men. During his reign people turn their weapons of war into farm tools, and animals are domesticated. Jesus eventually marries and has children and then dies awaiting a literal resurrection with all men. A wind will blow from the south which will cause Jesus and believers to die peacefully. · Three eschatological trumpets are blown. The first causes all men to fear. The second causes everything to die. Allah creates the new heavens and earth during this time. Then the third and final trumpet causes the resurrection to take place. As one who is familiar with the Old and New Testaments can plainly see, Islam stole and pieced together its eschatology from the Christian Bible (particularly from places within Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew 24, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, and the book of Revelation). Although Islam teaches that the Bible is a revelation from Allah, Muslims believe it allegedly got corrupted therefore Allah had to send the angel Gabriel to give revelations of divine truth to Muhammad concerning these and other issues. This begs the obvious question – If Allah divinely gave the OT and NT, and they got corrupted, why is anyone supposed to believe that Allah got it right with the Koran and has kept the Koran from being corrupted?!? Islam’s version of newspaper eschatology Unlike Jesus’ teachings on general and specific signs in the Olivet discourse and His coming to take place within His contemporary AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (cf. Matthew 24 / Luke 21), there is a lot of disorganization concerning these end time signs within Islamic eschatology. But either way, our point is to demonstrate that the current wars we are viewing in the Middle East among the various players (including ISIS) is driven by their hopes that these wars are a fulfillment to usher in the arrival of their end time eschatological characters and events. Consider this current news article and how all sides of Islam feels their wars are fulfillments of an imminent eschatological hope: “If the scenario sounds familiar to an anxious world watching Syria’s devastating civil war, it resonates even more with Sunni and Shi’ite fighters on the frontlines – who believe it was all foretold in 7th Century prophecies. From the first outbreak of the crisis in the southern city of Deraa to apocalyptic forecasts of a Middle East soaked in blood, many combatants on both sides of the conflict say its path was set 1,400 years ago in the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers. Among those many thousands of sayings, or hadith, are accounts which refer to the confrontation of two huge Islamic armies in Syria, a great battle near Damascus, and intervention from the north and west of the country. The power of those prophecies for many fighters on the ground means that the three-year-old conflict is more deeply rooted – and far tougher to resolve – than a simple power struggle between President Bashar al-Assad and his rebel foes. Syria’s war has killed more than 140,000 people, driven millions from their homes and left many more dependent on aid. Diplomatic efforts, focused on the political rather than religious factors driving the conflict, have made no headway. “If you think all these mujahideen came from across the world to fight Assad, you’re mistaken,” said a Sunni Muslim jihadi who uses the name Abu Omar and fights in one of the many anti-Assad Islamist brigades in Aleppo. “They are all here as promised by the Prophet. This is the war he promised – it is the Grand Battle,” he told Reuters, using a word which can also be translated as slaughter.” On the other side, many Shi’ites from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran are drawn to the war because they believe it paves the way for the return of Imam Mahdi – a descendent of the Prophet who vanished 1,000 years ago and who will re-emerge at a time of war to establish global Islamic rule before the end of the world. According to Shi’ite tradition, an early sign of his return came with the 1979 Iranian revolution, which set up an Islamic state to provide fighters for an army led by the Mahdi to wage war in Syria after sweeping through the Middle East. “This Islamic Revolution, based on the narratives that we have received from the prophet and imams, is the prelude to the appearance of the Mahdi,” Iranian cleric and parliamentarian Ruhollah Hosseinian said last year. He cited comments by an eighth century Shi’ite imam who said another sign of the Mahdi’s return would be a battle involving warriors fighting under a yellow banner – the color associated with Lebanon’s pro-Assad Hezbollah militia. “As Imam Sadeq has stated, when the (forces) with yellow flags fight anti-Shi’ites in Damascus and Iranian forces join them, this is a prelude and a sign of the coming of his holiness,” Hosseinian was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. The historical texts have become a powerful recruitment tool, quoted across the region from religious festivals in Iraq’s Shi’ite shrine city of Kerbala to videos released by Sunni preachers in the Gulf, and beyond. “We have here mujahideen from Russia, America, the Philippines, China, Germany, Belgium, Sudan, India and Yemen and other places,” said Sami, a Sunni rebel fighter in northern Syria. “They are here because this is what the Prophet said and promised, the Grand Battle is happening.” Both sides emphasize the ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic state which will rule the world before total chaos. Although some Sunni and Shi’ite clerics are privately skeptical of the religious justifications for the war, few in the region express such reservations in public for fear of being misinterpreted as doubters of the prophecies. “Yes some of the signs are similar but these signs could apply at any time after the fall of the Islamic state (1,000 years ago),” one Sunni Muslim scholar in Lebanon said, asking that he not be identified. “There is no way to confirm we are living those times. We have to wait and see.” For the faithful, the hadith chart the course of Syria’s conflict from its beginning in March 2011, when protests erupted over the alleged torture of students and schoolboys who wrote anti-Assad graffiti on a school wall in Deraa. “There will be a strife in Sham (Syria) that begins with children playing, after which nothing can be fixed,” according to one hadith. “When it calms down from one side, it ignites from the other.” Hadith on both sides mention Syria as a main battlefield, naming cities and towns where blood will be spilled. Syria’s civil war grew out of the “Arab Spring” of pro-democracy revolts in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 after Assad’s forces cracked down hard on peaceful protests. But because Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shii’ism, and most of his opponents are Sunni Muslims, the fighting quickly took on a sectarian character, which has largely overwhelmed the political issues. “These hadith are what the Mujahideen are guided by to come to Syria, we are fighting for this. With every passing day we know that we are living the days that the Prophet talked about,” said Mussab, a fighter from the Nusra Front, a Sunni hardline group linked to al Qaeda, speaking from Syria. Murtada, a 27-year-old Lebanese Shi’ite who regularly goes to Syria to battle against the rebels, says he is not fighting for Assad, but for the Mahdi, also known as the Imam. Abbas, a 24-year-old Iraqi Shi’ite fighter, said he knew he was living in the era of the Mahdi’s return when the United States and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003. “That was the first sign and then everything else followed,” he told Reuters from Baghdad, where he said was resting before heading to Syria for a fourth time. “I was waiting for the day when I will fight in Syria. Thank God he chose me to be one of the Imam’s soldiers.” Abu Hsaasan, a 65 year old pensioner from south Lebanon, said he once thought the prophecies of the end of days would take centuries to come about. “Things are moving fast. I never thought that I would be living the days of the Imam. Now, with every passing day I am more and more convinced that it is only a matter of few years before he appears.”” One would think they are listening to something that is passed off in the name of “Christianity Today” from the likes of Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, or Tim LaHaye and their non-Berean “spirit led” blind disciples. In fact Islam does have its version of TV “prophecy experts” such as Adnan Oktar, a prolific author and TV personality with millions of Muslim followers. He claims the Mahdi and Jesus are currently living among us ready to emerge and fulfill Islamic end time prophecies. “Yes. We believe that Hazrat Mahdi has come and is busy carrying on his activities,” “We believe that he appeared in Istanbul, as that is how it is related in the Judaic accounts. This is how it is related in the Islamic accounts as well.” Oktar, is Sunni, but points out that even prominent Shiite leaders in Iran have said they expect the Mahdi to appear in Istanbul. “There is no other time for this,” “He should appear in a date between the years 1400 to 1500 according to Hijri calendar (the current Islamic year is 1435).” “After World War II, a lifetime has passed as well and consequently we are exactly in the time the prophet Jesus mentioned in the Gospel,” “A lifetime has now passed (since the war), or is about to pass. This is one of the biggest proofs of the fact that Jesus Christ is now among us.” ISIS – An Apocalyptic End Time Cult It’s nice to see CNN get something right for a change when it comes to ISIS, “… its (ISIS) ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS’ actions are hastening the moment when this will happen. The name of the Dabiq magazine itself helps us understand ISIS’ worldview. The Syrian town of Dabiq is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and “Rome” would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam. In the recent issue of Dabiq it states: “As the world progresses towards al-Malhamah al-Kubrā, (‘the Great Battle’ to be held at Dabiq) the option to stand on the sidelines as a mere observer is being lost.” In other words, in its logic, you are either on the side of ISIS or you are on the side of the Crusaders and infidels. When American aid worker Peter Kassig was murdered by ISIS in November, “Jihadi John” — the masked British murderer who has appeared in so many ISIS videos — said of Kassig: “We bury the first crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the rest of your armies to arrive.” In other words, ISIS wants a Western ground force to invade Syria, as that will confirm the prophecy about Dabiq.” Iran’s Imminent End Time Statements: Statements made by Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “a gathering of Holocaust deniers in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said: “Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is [headed] downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want. The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” “Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime (Israel) must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.” Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. in 2012 said the world would “soon” see new “global management” by the Twelfth Imam (or the Mahdi) and his sidekick Jesus. One of the differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam is that the latter, who dominate Iran and form the majority in Iraq, believe that Allah shielded or hid Muhammad al-Mahadi as the Twelth Imam until the end of time. Shi’ites expect the Twelfth Imam, to be accepted by Jews and Christians as a messiah returning to save the world after it has descended into chaos. Shi’ite orthodoxy has it that humans are powerless to encourage the Twelfth Imam to return. However, in Iran another group called the Hojjatieh believe that they can instigate havoc prompting his return. Ahmadinejad claims that the Twelfth Imam’s reign will come without war, but the Shia “prophecy experts” say the opposite. Their belief is that Muslim political leaders are to initiate the destruction of the Jewish and Christian civilizations which will create an atmosphere of chaos speeding up the arrival of the Twelfth Imam. This seems to be the political policies driving Iran today and should cause us concern when they are seeking nuclear weapons. Failed Islamic end time prophecies Apparently Islam is willing to forget its rich history of alleged “inspired” and yet failed eschatological predictions (space forbids to address all of them, but here are a few): 1. Muhammad predicted the “Last Hour” would come within the lifetime and generation of his contemporaries: “Anas reported: A young boy of Mughira b. Shu’ba happened to pass by (the Holy Prophet) and he was of my age. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: If he lives long he would not grow very old till the Last Hour would come (to the old People of this generation).” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 7053). 2. Muhammad predicted that everyone would die on the earth within a hundred years (thus predicting the end time/last hour events of the judgment and resurrection): “Once the Prophet led us in the ‘Isha’ prayer during the last days of his life and after finishing it (the prayer) (with Taslim) he said: “Do you realize (the importance of) this night? Nobody present on the surface of the earth tonight will be living after the completion of one hundred years from this night.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1 Book 3, Number 116). 3. Muhammad predicted the great war, the coming of the Antichrist and thus the end of the world would take place after the conquests of Jerusalem (636 AD) and Constantinople (1453 AD): “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The flourishing state of Jerusalem will be when Yathrib is in ruins, the ruined state of Yathrib will be when the great war comes, the outbreak of the great war will be at the conquest of Constantinople and the conquest of Constantinople when the Dajjal (Antichrist) comes forth. He (the Prophet) struck his thigh or his shoulder with his hand and said: This is as true as you are here or as you are sitting (meaning Mu’adh ibn Jabal).” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 37, Number 4281). Other but more complex views would be Muhammad’s belief that the world was roughly 6,500 years old during his lifetime and that all of the prophecies would be fulfilled when the earth reached her 7,000th year (Btw, many Jewish and even Christians have tried this approach as well in predicting the end of the world – always ending in failure as well). Obviously, the “last hour” (a world-wide literal resurrection and judgment of the dead and literal transformation of the planet earth, etc…) did not happen 500 years from Muhammad’s death. Since Islam teaches that Allah inspired the OT, then according to Allah, the “prophet” Muhammad was a false prophet and should have been stoned to death (Deut. 18:20-22). Futurist Christian apologetics (Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Reformed) do not have a sufficient answer to Islamic apologists (who regurgitate skeptics of the Bible) whom fire back on two fronts: 1. trying to claim Muhammad wasn’t saying what he was saying and then 2. claim that the NT Jesus was a false prophet by predicting that the end of the age/world would occur in the lifetime and generation of his contemporary audience (ex. Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:1-34; Revelation 3:11 etc…). This is alleged “proof” that the Christian NT has been corrupted as the angel Gabriel told Muhammad. It is only the Christian Full Preterist who has a Biblical and sufficient “defense” against the skeptic which is simply, “Yes Jesus did predict that “the end of [the old covenant not the planet or Christian] age,” and His second coming would take place within that first century generation and He was faithful and true to that prediction/promise – unlike the “prophet” Muhammad’s failed predictions!” I will elaborate on this more towards the end of this article. Islam’s Jihad “Holy War”/“Surrender” Theology Before leaving the theological/eschatological views and implications of Islam perhaps we should briefly address some alleged differences that have been propagated in the news as of late. We are being told that Radical Islam is the minority view and that Moderate Islam is the majority with the majority being a peaceful religion. Or we have a lot of Moderate Muslims on TV telling us that the Islam of I.S.I.S and other Radicals doesn’t truly represent the teachings of Muhammad or Islam and they are in the process of “reforming” them. I propose a different and common sense approach and that is – we evaluate a religious system based upon the beliefs, teachings and examples of its founder. In fact Islam refers to Muhammad as “the ideal man” and their holy books describe “the way of the prophet (Muhammad).” 13 Doctrines of Radical Islam and ISIS:
- You can rape, marry and divorce pre-pubescent girls: Qur’an 65:4
- You can enslave for sex and work: Qur’an 4:3; 4:24; 5:89; 33:50; 58:3; 70:30
- You can beat sex slaves, work slaves, and wives: Qur’an 4:34
- You will need 4 Muslim male witnesses to prove a rape; Qur’an 24:4
- Kill Jews and Christians if they do not convert or pay Jizya tax: Qur’an 9:29
- Crucify and amputate non-Muslims: Qur’an 8:12; 47:4
- You will kill non-Muslims to receive 72 virgins in heaven: Qur’an 9:111
- You will kill anyone who leaves Islam: Qur’an 2:217; 4:89
- You will behead non-Muslims: Qur’an 8:12; 47:4
- You will kill and be killed for Al’llah; (verse of the sword): Qur’an 9:5
- You will terrorize non-Muslims: Qur’an 8:12; 8:60
- Steal from non-Muslims: Qur’an chapter 8 (booty/spoils of war)
- Lie to strengthen Islam: Qur’an 3:26; 3:54; 9:3; 16:106; 40:28
Clearly Radical Islam is just following the teachings and examples of Muhammad and the “revelations” of Allah in the Quran. According to the teachings of Islam, after 12 years of preaching Muhammad didn’t have many followers until he began revealing these extreme views! Once Arab’s saw a way to justify stealing, raping and killing in order to get things they didn’t have to work for, it became a rather popular “religion.” Some may speak of an “inner jihad” or submission of the heart, but that does not take away the other very clear political and military definitions of jihad as set forth in the Quran and exemplified or fleshed out in the life of Muhammad himself (battles or conquests of Badr, Uhud, Medina, and of Mecca, etc…). It is important to emphasize the unity on what jihad means among various Muslim groups or sects: “One of the common elements to all Islamic schools of thought is jihad, understood as the obligation of the Ummah to conquer and subdue the world in the name of Allah and rule it under Sharia law. The four Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh [Islamic religious jurisprudence]) — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali — all agree that there is a collective obligation on Muslims to make war on the rest of the world. Furthermore, even the schools of thought outside Sunni orthodoxy, including Sufism and the Jafari (Shia) school, agree on the necessity of jihad. When it comes to matters of jihad, the different schools disagree on such questions as whether infidels must first be asked to convert to Islam before hostilities may begin (Osama bin Laden asked America to convert before Al-Qaeda’s attacks); how plunder should be distributed among victorious jihadists; whether a long-term Fabian strategy against dar al-harb is preferable to an all-out frontal attack; etc.” Even as I have been writing this article the alleged “peaceful” group “CAIR” has finally been exposed by the U.A.E. and classified by them as a “terrorist” front group alongside I.S.I.S., Al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc…, for supporting these groups secretly and sometimes openly. Again, when one understands Islam’s doctrine of practicing deceit to its enemies, we can readily understand how this group can portray themselves as a “peaceful” organization condemning a minor amount of terrorism while at the same time supporting them! One Internet group has summarized The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) with these 10 points and ushered them a good challenge with an additional 10 points: “10 Facts about CAIR:
- CAIR was created by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic supremacist organization that pioneered 20th century Islamic terrorism and sanctions violence against civilians.
- CAIR only has about 5,000 members, despite a membership fee of just $10.
- CAIR represents the opinions of only 12% of Muslim-Americans according to Gallup.
- CAIR receives financial support from foreign powers who have also provided direct support to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and Hamas.
- CAIR has solicited money from sponsors of terror and received financial support from convicted terrorists.
- CAIR founders have praised terrorists to Muslim audiences and said that suicide bombers are acting on behalf of Islam.
- CAIR has raised funds for terrorists under the guise of helping 9/11 victims.
- CAIR board members have called for the overthrow of the United States and the imposition of Islamic law. CAIR has suggested applying Sharia punishment (ie. the death penalty) to users who criticize Islam on the Internet.
- At least 15 high-level CAIR staff members have been under federal investigation for ties to Islamic terror.
- CAIR has discouraged Muslim-Americans from cooperating with law enforcement and has spent more time and money advocating on behalf of convicted terrorists than for their victims.
The CAIR Challenge: We have a standing offer to CAIR that we will take down our entire website if this self-proclaimed “civil rights” group will simply answer the following questions having to do with the most basic of human rights: discrimination, profiling, religious freedom, gender equality and terrorism.
- Do you want to see Islamic law eventually in America? If not, then why not?
- What is your position on religious profiling? Do you denounce Saudi Arabia for profiling non-Muslims and preventing them from traveling to Mecca?
- Why do you refuse to condemn the killing of Americans in uniform? *
- Do you believe that it is wrong for Muslims to force members of another religion to pay money to Islam in the form of a jizya tax?
- Are non-Muslims who reject Muhammad and resist Islamic rule considered to be “innocent persons” in Islam?
- Do you believe women should have the same rights as men? Should Muslim women be free to marry whomever they choose and wear what they want?
- Hamas has deliberately murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children, and left hundreds more with physical disability, mental impairment (from brain damage) and crippling physical pain. They have also killed Americans. Do you condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization?
- Do you believe in equal rights for all religions? Should religious minorities be as free to promote their faith in Muslim countries as CAIR and other Muslims do here in the West?
- Do you believe that the punishment for adultery should be death? If not, then why not?
- Why have you refused to condemn the Islamic Republic of Sudan for the deaths of over 200,000 Africans in the name of racial cleansing and Jihad? Would you be just as apathetic if this were a non-Muslim government killing Muslims instead?”
Can Islam be “Reformed”? A somewhat prominent guest on FOX News Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) believes that Islam can be “reformed” to “separate Mosque from State” and coexist in democratic societies. But anyone that knows anything about Islam knows that his view here goes against the foundations of its theology. In fact Jasser would be considered a “hypocrite” under Sharia and put to death for trying to undermine such a foundational pillar of its theology. Perhaps this is why Jasser has no following among Muslims and doesn’t represent any Islamic tradition! In a FrontPage symposium with Robert Spencer (who destroyed Jasser in a debate) Spencer said, “Interpretations of Islam such as Dr. Jasser’s are personal, idiosyncratic, and non-traditional – a fact that is all too often glossed over by his enthusiastic and well-heeled non-Muslim backers, who would prefer to pretend that he represents the dominant mainstream.” I guess this is why FOX News has Jasser on even though he has no following! I suppose we all want to believe that Islam can be reformed from a non-violent religion which doesn’t want Sharia law to be the law of the land in the U.S. or in any country, but this is just a myth and we know what mainstream Islam believes based upon its official doctrine in the Quran and elsewhere. But when one sees Jasser on FOX News, the uninformed would think he does have a following and that he represents at the very least some form of Islam – when in fact he doesn’t. In my opinion FOX does a disservice to us by giving the impression that Jasser has a following or can “reform” Islam. Jasser in the debate tried to give some historical precedence of what he is doing (trying to reform Islam separating “Mosque and State”) throughout history. Spencer’s counter was that the historical times Jasser referenced were actually times where in fact Jews and Christians were suppressed and persecuted by Muslims or were during periods Islam wasn’t the military force it had been (thus not being able to impose Sharia the way Muslims wanted to). The other example Jasser gave, was that of Muslim Alija Izetbegović who had been imprisoned and claimed that he felt like he was practicing more of Islam in private than he ever had. Here, Jasser was trying to imply that Sharia law could be individual and private and not imposed upon a particular secular government. But Spencer’s counter was in my opinion the best portion of the debate in saying that he wished Izethbegovic had in fact stayed in prison (as Jasser referenced) and practiced his private Islam, because when he got out, he sought to try and establish an Islamic state in the Balkans imposing his beliefs upon others. In fact Izethbegovic’s writing and influence did nothing but promote the suppression and persecutions of Christians that we see in Muhamad himself as the supreme example and within Islam in general. It is a farce to propose that one can internalize and privatize Sharia Law, when in fact by definition Sharia Law is corporate and national dictating taxes for citizens, morality for society, corporate punishments etc… Here are just a few examples of what Jasser is saying which demonstrates he doesn’t understand the teachings of Islam or that he has no shot at “reforming” it into something it never was to begin with: Zuhdi Jasser: “Nowhere in the Quran does God tell Muslims how to establish and run their governments,” The Truth: Just a couple examples – in the Quran 2:82; 9:29; and 5:38 are details on how to conduct court witnesses and Muslims are told how to deal (thus civil and corporate law) with thieves by amputating limbs etc… Zuhdi Jasser: “Nowhere in the Quran does God tell Muslims that they must repeat and thus emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s role and actions as a military or governmental leader…” The Truth: In the Quran 33:21 “Verily there is for you a good example (read iswa or uswa) in the Messenger of God, to emulate in combat and in holding one’s ground [therein], for whoever (li-man substitutes for lakum, ‘for you’) hopes for [the encounter with] God, fears Him, and the Last Day, and remembers God often, in contrast to those who do not.” Zuhdi Jasser: “Nowhere in the Quran does God tell Muslims that they must impose their beliefs, practices and rituals upon others…” The Truth: In the Quran 2:193 it reads, “Fight them till there is no sedition, no idolatry, and the religion, all worship, is for God, alone and none are worshipped apart from Him;…” And in the famous passage in Quran 9:29 it clearly reads, (MUHSIN KHAN translation): “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Zuhdi Jasser: “And most certainly, (4) nowhere in the Quran does God tell myopic automatons to instigate murderous, terrorist actions against civilians and other noncombatants who, by definition, are incapable of causing them harm.” The Truth: In the Quran 4:89 it reads, “They long, they wish, that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, so then you, and they, would be equal, in unbelief; therefore do not take friends from among them, associating with them, even if they should [outwardly] manifest belief, until they emigrate in the way of God, a proper emigration that would confirm their belief; then, if they turn away, and remain upon their ways, take them, as captives, and slay them wherever you find them; and do not take any of them as a patron, to associate with, or as a helper, to assist you against your enemy.” Again, Jasser’s undermining premise that he and other Muslims can “separate mosque and state” goes against basic Islam 101 and what is contained and taught in it’s “holy” books and revelations concerning Sharia Law: “Unlike many religions, Islam includes a mandatory and highly specific legal and political plan for society called Sharia, which translates approximately as “way” or “path.” The precepts of Sharia are derived from the commandments of the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and precedents of Muhammad as found in the reliable hadiths and the Sira). Together, the Quran and the Sunnah establish the dictates of Sharia, which is the blueprint for the good Islamic society. Because Sharia originates with the Quran and the Sunnah, it is not optional. Sharia is the legal code ordained by Allah for all mankind. To violate Sharia or not to accept its authority is to commit rebellion against Allah, which Allah’s faithful are required to combat. There is no separation between the religious and the political in Islam; rather Islam and Sharia constitute a comprehensive means of ordering society at every level. While it is in theory possible for an Islamic society to have different outward forms — an elective system of government, a hereditary monarchy, etc. — whatever the outward structure of the government, Sharia is the prescribed content. It is this fact that puts Sharia into conflict with forms of government based on anything other than the Quran and the Sunnah. The precepts of Sharia may be divided into two parts: 1. Acts of worship (al-ibadat), which includes:Ritual Purification (Wudu), Prayers (Salah) Fasts (Sawm and Ramadan), Charity (Zakat), Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). 2. Human interaction (al-muamalat), which includes: Financial transactions, Endowments, Laws of inheritance, Marriage, divorce, and child care, Food and drink (including ritual slaughtering and hunting), Penal punishments, War and peace, Judicial matters (including witnesses and forms of evidence) As one may see, there are few aspects of life that Sharia does not specifically govern. Everything from washing one’s hands to child-rearing to taxation to military policy fall under its dictates. Because Sharia is derivate of the Quran and the Sunnah, it affords some room for interpretation. But upon examination of the Islamic sources (see above), it is apparent that any meaningful application of Sharia is going to look very different from anything resembling a free or open society in the Western sense. The stoning of adulterers, execution of apostates and blasphemers, repression of other religions, and a mandatory hostility toward non-Islamic nations punctuated by regular warfare will be the norm. It seems fair then to classify Islam and its Sharia code as a form of totalitarianism.” When a sect within a particular religion seeks “reform” it requires going back to the teachings and life examples of its main prophet(s) to establish such. When one compares Islam’s Muhammad with Christianity’s Jesus there is no comparison! From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the end He described His kingdom in nothing but spiritual terms: living water, bread from heaven, a spiritual way, a spiritual life (“eternal life”) etc… Jesus clearly rejected the common Jewish literal/geo-political and militaristic views of the kingdom (cf. John 6). Jesus taught that His “kingdom is not of this world” and that when it would come (at His return in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation”) it would not be discerned by our physical eyes, because the realm of fulfillment would be “within” (Luke 17:20-21; Luke 21:27-32; John 18:36). The Father and Son made their home/abode “in” the Church when the heavenly Temple/New Jerusalem descended from heaven and clothed the Church while on and upon the earth (John 14:2-3, 23; 2 Cor. 4:18–5:1-10–6:16; Rev. 21:2ff.). The believer today has been raised from the dead and “the hope of glory” which is “Christ in you” is now a “hope realized” in the New Covenant age (Cols. 1:27; Prov. 13:12). Unlike Islam’s Muhammad, which on more than one occasion was found to be a false prophet predicting the end of the world, Jesus predicted the end of the world of the old covenant age connected to the destruction of the Temple in His “this generation” (Matthew 24:1-34). In AD 70, Christ and the NT inspired authors were found faithful and true witnesses with the old covenant kingdom passing and the new being realized “within in.” Zuhdi Jasser says he is seeking ways to pass on the faith of his fathers to his children and “reform” it – but unfortunately he is “reforming it” beyond recognition of what it actually teaches. I humbly suggest that he find a “Faithful and True” prophet (Jesus Christ) and simply follow His straightforward teachings on a personal, intimate, internal relationship within His kingdom, that can and does harmonize with Western democratic principles? Just a thought. I would be willing to have a symposium with Zuhdi Jasser and Robert Spencer and discuss and debate these topics:
- Did in fact Muhammad teach that the last hour and end of the world would take place within the lifetime of some of his living audience? “Anas reported: A young boy of Mughira b. Shu’ba happened to pass by (the Holy Prophet) and he was of my age. Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: If he lives long he would not grow very old till the Last Hour would come (to the old People of this generation).” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 7053). Did in fact Muhammad predict did everyone would die on planet earth within a hundred years (thus predicting the end time/last hour events of the judgment and resurrection): “Once the Prophet led us in the ‘Isha’ prayer during the last days of his life and after finishing it (the prayer) (with Taslim) he said: “Do you realize (the importance of) this night? Nobody present on the surface of the earth tonight will be living after the completion of one hundred years from this night.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1 Book 3, Number 116).
Michael Sullivan: Yes I affirm that Muhammad taught this and therefore was a false prophet and thus Islam a false religion. Robert Spencer: I assume would agree with me here. Zuhdi Jasser: Would deny that Muhammad taught this and remains a valid prophet. 2. Did in fact Jesus (and the NT) teach that the “last hour” and Christ’s return would take place within the lifetime of some of his living audience? “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28). “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:34-36). “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:17-18). Concerning the last “hour” of God’s judgment and Christ coming like a thief in the book of Revelation it is said that these events would be fulfilled “shortly, “soon,” “at hand,” “quickly,” “about to,” to a first century Christian audience (Revelation 1:1, 19YLT, 3:3, 11; 14:7; 22:6-7, 10-12, 22). Michael Sullivan: Yes, I affirm that Jesus taught that the “last hour” and His Second Coming would take place to close the old covenant age or the “world” and “heaven and earth” of the old covenant system in by AD 70. Therefore, I affirm Jesus is a “Faithful and True” witnesses and the NT is the inspired Word of God. Robert Spencer: Would deny that Jesus taught that the “last hour” would be fulfilled in the first century. Zuhdi Jasser: Would no doubt affirm that Jesus taught this and proves Allah’s revelation on Jesus was corrupted by the Christians and therefore the Bible cannot be reliable. Islam’s “Holy Land” Theology As already discussed Islam believes that the planet belongs to Allah and that they are to wage war with all countries that will not submit to Allah and his law. This logically leads to their belief that any land previously or once conquered in the name of Allah will ALWAYS remain Islamic holy land. So one can readily see that this religious system will never recognize Israel as a country today or her appeals throughout history that it belongs to them – is moot. One must also remember that inherent in Islamic theology is its exhortation to willfully deceive Allah’s enemies or unbelievers (and specifically Jews and Christians). This makes it very difficult to listen to “peaceful” “moderate” Muslims trying to separate themselves from “radicals” or take seriously any peace talks or political treaties coming from ANY of them. Even the alleged “moderate” “reformer” Zuhdi Jasser made a slip of the tongue in the last 5 minutes of an interview challenging his “reformed” views referring to Israel as “occupied territory.” So no matter how you slice it, even Jasser who is trying to practically form his own Islamism, subscribes to some form of religious and divine rights to “holy land” throwing more oil on an existing fire – not bringing a “peaceful” solution in any way shape or form. Before leaving the eschatology of Islam I wanted to point out that another end time apocalyptic cult founder and “Prophet” (Joseph Smith of Mormonism) saw Muhammad’s success and appears to have tried to pawn off his as a “Christian” spinoff or version of it. It appears to me that one con-man saw the “successes” of the other. Parallels between the “Prophet” Muhammad and the “Prophet” Joseph Smith: 1. Both founders were visited by an angel. Joseph Smith claimed to be visited by the angel Moroni. Muhammad claimed to be visited by the angel Gabriel. 2. Both men claimed to have had visions. 3. Both men were told that other religions were false and got perverted. 4. Therefore, both men were allegedly being called by God to restore the true religion. 5. Both men’s lives contributed towards or wrote a book said to be “inspired by God.” Islam – The Qur’an. Mormonism – The Book of Mormon. 6. Both men claimed to be illiterate or uneducated and ironically used this as proof that their revelations and or books were inspired. 7. Both men claimed that the Bible (as the Christians have it today) had been perverted, altered, or corrupted and was therefore unreliable and therefore in need of their “revelations.” 8. Both men and or religions would claim their holy book was the most correct and perfect book on earth. However, there are over 4,000 changes to the book of Mormon since the original 1830 version and there are over 1,000 variants in the first 83 Sura’s of the Qur’an. 9. Both men claimed that their holy book was based upon an original stored in heaven. The Qur’an on tablets and The Book of Mormon on golden plates. 10. Yet oddly (see #8) both “prophets” claimed that the version (Qur’an and Book of Mormon) that we have today are identical to what the prophet revealed and that parts are not altered, lost or corrupted as the Christian Bible allegedly has been. 11. Both men claimed to be the last and final prophet of God. 12. Both men claimed they were persecuted for their correct and pure faith. 13. Both men were polygamists who collected many wives. Joseph Smith had 33 documented wives. Muhammad had 11 wives (one was nine years old) – he also collected more wives than his “revelations” allowed! They also both have low views of women. In Islam women do not inherit eternal life and the seventy virgins they have sex with in “paradise” are spirit beings. In Mormonism women can only enter their husbands “paradise” if he grants them such. Both try and lure their disciples with promises of sex with virgins in “paradise.” 14. Both men borrowed from paganism and polytheism and incorporated these concepts into their new religions. 15. Both men were great story tellers – Joseph Smith was known to be a con-artist and Muhammad a traveling salesman (which is where he heard bits and pieces of the OT and NT and incorporated twisted and inaccurate versions of them into his “revelations”). 16. Both needed further “revelations” from God to correct issues with their previous “revelations” and or writings. Muhammad “abrogated” or retracted the “satanic verses” (Sura 53:19-23). Mormons retracted Smith’s divine order mandating polygamy (D&C 132 and Jacob 2:30) and the LDS has also back peddled on their views of African Americans. 17. Both religions need other religious books to bring understanding or further clarifications to their previous revelations and or writings. Muslims use the Hadith and Mormons have the Doctrine and Covenants. 18. Both are legalistic systems and promote a salvation by works. 19. Both deny the deity of Christ. 20. Both are very political in their eschatology. We all know that Islam believes in world dominance with ISIS vowing to raise its black flag over the Whitehouse. Joseph Smith claimed he received the full name of a secret organization (made up of the “Council of Fifty” Mormon men) in a revelation on April 7, 1842 called: The Kingdom of God and His Laws, with Keys and Power Thereof, and Judgment in. It vows to be a theocratic government (ruled by the “true [Mormon] church) which will overthrow the U.S. form of government and eventually be a one world government – paving the way for Christ’s Second Coming and millennial period. Both believe that at some point the world will be in such chaos that world leaders will beg for their religion to rule them. 21. Both have doctrines whereby they kill apostates which no longer want to embrace their religion (Mormons call it the doctrine of “Blood Atonement”). 22. Both “prophets” falsely predicted that Jesus’ Second Coming or last hour would take place within the lifetime of some of those that were listening to them and or in their generation (see documentation in the bulk of this article).
2. The Eschatology of Israel/Judaism/Zionism (Past and Present)
Using a hyper-literal interpretation of OT scriptures, Jewish eschatology has many similarities to what is being considered modern day Christian thought concerning supposed recently fulfilled prophecy and or alleged future to us fulfillment of such events as:
- Israel coming back into the land in 1948 after World War II was a fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 and Deuteronomy 28-32.
- A Temple is re-built in Jerusalem.
- Israel will be surrounded by the nations of the world in the battle of Gog and Magog Ezekiel 38-39.
- Some have affirmed that when Messiah comes His reign will be a transitional reign between the two ages 1. The old covenant age of the law and prophets to 2. Ushering in and establishing the Messianic age or new covenant age. Many have speculated that this will last anywhere between 40 years or a 1,000 or more (and anywhere in-between).
- Israel awaits their Messiah to usher in a literal kingdom on earth whereby He and Israel defeat unbelievers (or convince that its religion is true and others are false) and rule the world in peace.
- There is a physical/literal bodily resurrection and judgment at the end of the world.
- There will be a transformation of the planet earth and a literal new heaven and earth takes the place of the old.
The references for these beliefs are found primarily in the OT books of Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Zephaniah. Zionism versus Judaism / who is the real “Israel”? / 1948 – condemned or fulfillment of Torah? Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be considered representing humanistic Judaism, he does have some interesting views worth noting. Speaking on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland he declared that Israel becoming a state in 1948 was the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, “The Jewish people rose from ashes and destruction, from a terrible pain that can never be healed,” “Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet, as Ezekiel prophesized: “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.” The Prime Minister is very tight with the American Dispensational Zionist movement (often speaking with them when arriving in the U.S. before our Presidents) and shares their erroneous view that 1948 was a fulfillment of Ezekiel 37. This brings up the concern and question as to if he agrees with the Zionists that what’s next for Israel is an “end time” holy war allegedly found in Ezekiel 38-39? Since most modern Jews reject the notion of a Messiah that is divine and prefer the concept to be a King or President type which will lead through military action, the concern could be that Netanyahu and others might consider himself to be a messiah figure of sorts defending end time prophecies in the Torah? Before leaving the topic of the Prime Minister, it should be noteworthy that he and his political hero’s drove Palestinians out of their land whom have more in common with racial and ancient Israelites than himself (being a descendant of the European Jews). Of course not many here in the United States understand that there are those claiming to be Orthodox Jews and “Israel” who have always condemned the formation of the modern day nation of “Israel” in 1948. They claim the formation of a state in 1948 was a violation of Torah not the fulfillment of it! They believe what most would consider the “Israeli State” today should simply be referred to as the secular Zionist movement which they define as: “Zionism here, we are referring to the concept that Jews should rise up, emancipate themselves from exile without waiting for the messiah, and establish a Jewish government in the Holy Land. Using Jewish texts, we demonstrate that this concept is against the Torah and has been opposed by rabbis in all generations.” Their mission: “The relatively new concept of Zionism began only about one hundred years ago and since that time Torah-true Jewry has steadfastly opposed the Zionist ideology. This struggle is rooted in two convictions: 1. Zionism, by advocating a political and military end to the Jewish exile, denies the very essence of our Diaspora existence. We are in exile by Divine Decree and may emerge from exile solely via Divine Redemption. All human efforts to alter a metaphysical reality are doomed to end in failure and bloodshed. History has clearly borne out this teaching. 2. Zionism has not only denied our fundamental belief in Heavenly Redemption it has also created a pseudo-Judaism which views the essence of our identity to be a secular nationalism. Accordingly, Zionism and the Israeli state have consistently endeavored, via persuasion and coercion, to replace a Divine and Torah-centered understanding of our peoplehood with an armed materialism. True Torah Jews is dedicated to informing the world and in particular the American public and politicians that not all Jews support the ideology of the Zionist state called “Israel”. In fact, a great number of Orthodox Jews view the ideology of that state as diametrically opposed to the teachings of traditional Judaism. We are concerned that the widespread misconception that all Jews support the Zionist state and its actions endangers Jews worldwide. We are NOT politically motivated. We are motivated by our concern for the peace and safety of all people throughout the world including those living in the Zionist state. We support and pray for peace for the people of the Zionist state but have no interest in and do not support the Zionist government. We seek to disassociate Jews and traditional Judaism from the Zionist ideology by: 1. Providing historical and supporting documentation that Zionism is totally contrary to the teachings of traditional Judaism through the words of our Rabbis, Sages, and Holy Scriptures which oppose the creation of a state called Israel. 2. Providing historical documentation on the ideology and creation of Zionism, the supporters of Zionism and the negative impact of their actions on the Jewish people in the past hundred years, including their involvement in the Holocaust and their activities up to the present day. 3. Publicizing the efforts of traditional Jews to demonstrate their opposition to Zionism, efforts which are often ignored by the mainstream media. 4. Convincing the news media, politicians and the public to cease referring to the State of Israel as the “Jewish State” but to call it what it is: the “Zionist State”. We also aim to reach out to our Jewish brethren who have never studied the subject of Zionism from a Torah perspective, and have only been taught the Zionist side of the story. It is our hope that all of our fellow Jews will soon open their eyes, return to Torah and reject this ideology that replaces the Jew’s age-old hope for G-d’s redemption with a false redemption and a human-initiated state.” Torah and Politics Netanyahu allegedly made these statements to Yaakov Vider, a member of the Likud party’s haredi faction (the Times of Israel reported) about the Torah: “We will legally define the Talmud as the basis of the Israeli legal system,” And, “I will personally deal with the legislation for ‘Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.’ This is a very important law that will change how Israel looks in the future.…[the new bill] will be a Basic Law that [shows] the State of Israel rose [ex. His view of Ezekiel 37?] and exists on the basis of the Torah and the Jewish tradition,” (bold emphasis mine). Critics of Netanyahu believe this to be a Jewish form of Islamic Sharia Law. The Messianic Age Is Imminent As within Islam and Christianity, there is this erroneous belief that the end times will be ushered in before the planet earth reaches its 6,000th year. Allegedly the seven days of creation in the early chapters of Genesis represent 7,000 years with the 7th being the earths Sabbath rest or the reign of Messiah (some Christians thinking it’s the “millennium” period of Revelation 20) The Talmud teaches: R. Katina said, “Six thousand years the world will exist and one [thousand, the seventh], it shall be desolate (haruv), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’ (Isa. 2:11)… R. Katina also taught, “Just as the seventh year is the Shmita year, so too does the world have one thousand years out of seven that are fallow (mushmat), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’ (Isa. 2:11); and further it is written, ‘A psalm and song for the Shabbat day’ (Ps. 92:1) – meaning the day that is altogether Shabbat – and also it is said, ‘For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past’ (Ps.90:4) (Sanhedrin 97a).” The Midrash, comments: “Six eons for going in and coming out, for war and peace. The seventh eon is entirely Shabbat and rest for life everlasting”. The Zohar elaborates: “The redemption of Israel will come about through the mystic force of the letter “Vav” [which has the numerical value of six], namely, in the sixth millennium…. Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter the Shabbat, which is the seventh millennium; for that is a day set apart for the Holy One on which to effect the union of new souls with old souls in the world (Zohar, Vayera 119a).” End Time Battle of Gog and Magog Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism. He wrote of the end time battle of Gog and Magog within Judaism: “Gog and Magog are the peoples who will wage war against the Jews before the advent of the Messiah. These two names appear in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38, 39) where Gog is the ruler of the country of Magog. Gog will lead his people in war against the land of Israel but will be defeated and God alone will reign supreme. Since Ezekiel prophesied in exile about the return of the Jewish people to its land, it is possible that he was thinking of contemporary events. Attempts have been made to identify Gog and Magog with nations whom the prophet may have thought to pose a threat in the immediate future to the Jews who were to return to the land. On the other hand, as a number of biblical scholars understand it, the prophet himself may have had in mind events in the remote future as part of his apocalyptic vision. In subsequent Jewish eschatology, both Gog and Magog are understood to be persons and the “wars of Gog and Magog” become part of the whole eschatological scheme. As with regard to Jewish eschatology as a whole, there is a considerable degree of uncertainty about what is said to happen at the “end of days,” the picture is really an amalgam of various folk-beliefs, some of them contradictory. In the eschatological account given by Saadiah Gaon (Belief and Opinions, viii. 6) an attempt is made to accommodate the wars of Gog and Magog into the scheme. Interestingly enough, however, in Maimonides’ scheme at the end of his great code, the Mishneh Torah, in which messianism is interpreted in largely rationalistic terms, there is no reference to the wars of Gog and Magog only to the Messiah fighting “the battles of the Lord” in order to reconquer the land of Israel, rebuild the Temple, and establish God’s reign on earth. Even in Orthodox Judaism, the details of these terrible events are vague and wars of Gog and Magog do not feature at all prominently in Orthodox theology. Yet, at the time, World Wars I and II did tend to be seen as the wars of Gog and Magog, as the essential prelude to the coming of the Messiah. Some of the Hasidic masters saw the struggle between Napoleon and Russia as the wars of Gog and Magog.” This of course begs the question that if Jews (and Christians) viewed World War I and II as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and the end time battle of Gog and Magog, then they will just re-work the failed system to suit current events. Is the Israel and Judaism of the OT and NT the Same Modern Israel and Judaism Today? Some of my Preterist friends such as John L. Bray and David Curtis have correctly pointed out that post AD 70 there can’t be a “Jew” or “Israel” today as there was in Biblical times. David Curtis: “Many people today still consider the Jewish people as a race. Numerous verses identify Israel, in New Testament prophecy, in terms of their tribal associations; however, these associations do not extend beyond the first century (ex. Matthew 24:30 or Revelation 1:7 which discuss “the tribes of the (land) shall mourn” etc..). After the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the nation of Israel, after the flesh, was scattered throughout the earth, and lost all tribal relations. This scattering was made immutable due to the fact that all tribal genealogical records were destroyed with the Temple in A.D. 70.” The simple fact is that there is no existing Jewish race. Consider the following quotations: The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1973) “The Jews As A Race: The findings of physical anthropology show that, contrary to the popular view, there is no Jewish race. Anthropornetric measurements of Jewish groups in many parts of the world indicate that they differ greatly from one another with respect to all the important physical characteristics.” (vol. 12, page 1054) Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem (1971) “It is a common assumption, and one that sometimes seems ineradicable even in the face of evidence to the contrary, that the Jews of today constitute a race, a homogeneous entity easily recognizable. From the preceding discussion of the origin and early history of the Jews, it should be clear that in the course of their formation as a people and a nation they had already assimilated a variety of racial strains from people moving into the general area they occupied. This had taken place by interbreeding and then by conversion to Judaism of a considerable number of communities. . . .” “Thus, the diversity of the racial and genetic attributes of various Jewish colonies of today renders any unified racial classification of them a contradiction in terms. Despite this, many people readily accept the notion that they are a distinct race. This is probably reinforced by the fact that some Jews are recognizably different in appearance from the surrounding population. That many cannot be easily identified is overlooked and the stereotype for some is extended to all – a not uncommon phenomenon” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem, 1971, vol. 3, p. 50). Encyclopedia Americana (1986) “Racial and Ethnic Considerations. Some theorists have considered the Jews a distinct race, although this has no factual basis. In every country in which the Jews lived for a considerable time, their physical traits came to approximate those of the indigenous people. Hence the Jews belong to several distinct racial types, ranging, for example, from fair to dark. Among the reasons for this phenomenon are voluntary or involuntary miscegenation and the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1986, vol. 16, p. 71). Collier’s Encyclopedia (1977) “A common error and persistent modern myth is the designation of the Jews as a ‘race! This is scientifically fallacious, from the standpoint of both physical and historical tradition. Investigations by anthropologists have shown that Jews are by no means uniform in physical character and that they nearly always reflect the physical and mental characteristics of the people among whom they live” (Collier’s Encyclopedia, 1977, vol. 13, p. 573). Today, being a Jew simply means that one is of the Judaistic religion or a convert to it, or else in a “brotherhood” of those who are. Therefore, being a Jew has nothing to do with race. We are familiar with a number of notable figures, such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, and Tom Arnold, in fact, who became Jews by conversion to the religion of Judaism. Evangelist John Bray: “Many Christians do not know that the vast majority of so-called Jews in the world today are the Ashkenazim Jews, while the remainder of them are the Sephardim Jews. The Ashkenazim Jews have as their background not the nation of Israel but a country called Khazaria, which country at one time was the largest country in Europe. The settlers of Khazaria were Turks and Huns. In A.D. 740 King Bulan of Khazaria decided to adopt the Judaistic religion for his country. A number of Jews were already living there. So he converted to Judaism, along with all his officials, and whole nation ended up being known as a nation of Jews. In 970 Russia came in and dominated the situation, and the Khazars were scattered, many of them going down into Poland and Lithuania. Where at the dawn of our modern civilization the largest concentration of Jews were found. Today, the largest percentage of so-called Jews in the world have as their background this group of people.” (This information is fully documented in detail in John Bray’s book, Israel in Bible Prophecy) Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia (1970) “In 1970 the Israeli Knesset adopted legislation defining a Jew as one born of a Jewish mother or a convert.” (vol. 14, p. 214) H.G. Wells “There can be little doubt that the scattered Phoenicians in Spain and Africa and throughout the Mediterranean, speaking as they did a language closely akin to Hebrew and being deprived of their authentic political rights, became proselytes to Judaism. For phases of vigorous proselytism alternated with phases of exclusive jealousy in Jewish history. On one occasion the Idumeans, being conquered, were all forcibly made Jews. There were Arab tribes who were Jews in the time of Muhammad, and a Turkish people who were mainly Jews in South Russia in the ninth century. Judaism is indeed the reconstructed political ideal of many shattered peoples – mainly Semitic…. The main part of Jewry never was in Judea and had never come out of Judea” (The Outline of History,p. 505). Genesis 49:10: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” This is a known Messianic text for the Jewish people prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus/Shiloh (a descendant of Judah) has come gathering in His kingdom the nations (Jew and Gentile) whereby they give Him their obedience. This began roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 and at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 and well into the new covenant age. Jesus clearly foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and her old covenant age/system in Matthew 21:42-45; 22:7; 23-24. Since that time, there no longer remains any geo-political ruling “scepter” privilege for the literal tribe of Judah (any kind of national Israel) nor ever shall be. As one can clearly see there are no “twelve tribes” of Israel today, no real or pure Jewish race, and no old covenant (with animal sacrifices etc…) to identify modern day Israel with biblical or covenantal Israel. These facts are devastating to modern day Israel’s claims and “rights” to the land of Jerusalem and or their religion of “Judaism.” Deuteronomy 18:15-19: Moses in the Torah predicted that a greater prophet than himself would arise and that if the people would not heed him they would be destroyed (Deut. 18:15-19). Peter reminds his listeners that Jesus is the fulfillment of Moses prophecy and that if they did not heed Jesus’ warnings they would be cut off (Acts 3:22-23). Deuteronomy 32:5, 20: “They have acted corruptly toward him; to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation.” “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful.” Again Peter exhorts his fellow Jews that their generation is the “perverse and crooked” generation that Moses foretold (Acts 2:40). Thus Israel’s “end” was to take place in that particular generation and did. Moses states that within this terminal generation the Gentiles will rejoice with the remnant Jews, in that this will be the time whereby God “avenges the blood of his servants,” which Jesus identifies with his AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” tied to the destruction of their Temple in AD 70 (Deuteronomy 32:43/Matthew 23:32-38). (Deuteronomy 32:5, 20/Acts 2:40/Matthew 24:34/Luke 17:24/Mark 8:38-9:1). It was predicted that within this particular generation that they would not accurately “discern” what their “end would be” (Deuteronomy 32:28-29). Israel in the NT did not heed her Messiah’s warning that her kingdom would be “taken” from them and “given” to “another nation” (ie. the Church) in AD 70 (Matthew 21:42-45/1 Peter 1:4-9). Jesus from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry NEVER described His kingdom (that is the kingdom the OT prophets foretold) as anything but spiritual “not of this world” “if it were my servants would fight” etc… It was never designed to continue to be a geopolitical or militaristic literal “kingdom.” These facts are also devastating to Dispensational Zionists false theology as well. Modern Judaism and Zionist attacks on Jesus’ as a divine Messiah or rejection of Him as Messiah because of an alleged failed imminent Second Coming Modern Zionists and other Orthodox Rabbis claim Jesus couldn’t have been their Messiah because the Messiah (per their traditional and historical views) was not to be a divine individual but a mere man. Or Jesus is to be rejected as the Messiah because his prophecy to return in His generation was a failed prophecy. Or Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because didn’t fulfill the law and prophets the way they think they should have been fulfilled (using a hyper-literal interpretation). Let’s examine some of these claims. Is/was the Jewish Messiah to be divine or not? On one prominent “Jewish” web site we are told, “But above all, he (the Messiah) will be a human being, not a god, demi-god or other supernatural being.” And, “The term “mashiach” literally means “the anointed one,” and refers to the ancient practice of anointing kings with oil when they took the throne. The mashiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days.” Oddly no discussion is made on this allegedly modern “Jewish” web site of a commonly known Messianic text such as Daniel 7:13-14 where the “anointed one” is actually worshipped. That doesn’t sound like a mere man to me nor to many Jews before and during Jesus’ day (we will discuss this crucial text further below). And we should note that Jesus as Messiah did appear towards the “end of days” / Israel’s “last days” in His incarnation and second appearing – to bring an end of the old covenant age in an AD 70 “very little while” (Hebrews 1:2, 9:26-28/10:37). Jesus is the exalted and anointed Messiah/God/Davidic King fulfilling Psalm 45:6-7/Hebrews 1:8-9. Is/was the Jewish Messiah to be “Savior” or not? Here is the modern day false “Jewish” claim that Messiah was never thought to be a savior figure in the scriptures: “The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought.” Israel’s exodus from Egypt is by far the greatest example of “salvation” or “deliverance” which formed Israel’s view that God alone acts as Savior (cf. Ps 106:21; cf. Is 63:8-11; Hos 13:4). This salvation was brought about through the sacrifice of a lamb’s blood placed upon the doorframes of God’s people while the concept of the death a “firstborn” as an exchange for their salvation and deliverance was born (Exodus 12). This would pave the way for the foundation of Judaism itself – the Temple and sacrificial system necessary to atone for Israel’s sins (Leviticus 16). “Salvation” was connected to the Messiah’s (the “King’s” or “Anointed One’s) work in His coming lowly upon a donkey (Zechariah 9:9 – a passage known to be Messianic in Jewish literature). In (Zechariah 13:1) we learn that “On that day (the day of Messiah’s salvation) a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.” How would this come about? This was due to the Messianic Shepherd being “struck” and the sheep scattered (Zechariah 13:7-9 cf. also 11:4-14; 12:10; Matthew 26:31, 56). To learn more of the Messiah being “struck” or sacrificed “…to save Israel from the consequences of her sins” (which is being denied by our good “Jewish” friend) we must now turn to Isiah 53 and examine how some Rabbis understood it. Let’s quote the entire chapter: Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. “Messiah …what is his name? The Rabbis say,‘The leprous one’; those of the house of the Rabbi (Jehuda Hanassi, the author of the Mishna, 135-200) say: ‘Cholaja’ (The sickly), for it says, ‘Surely he has borne our sicknesses’ etc. (Isa.53,4).” “Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high, and increase, and be exceeding strong: as the house of Israel looked to him through many days, because their countenance was darkened among the peoples, and their complexion beyond the sons of men.” The Messiah as a suffering “servant” is also described for us in the previous immediate context (Isaiah 52:13-15, see also Psalm 22). In Isaiah, “Savior” is a consistent title for God, communicating His preeminence and His uniqueness over against foreign gods and idols: “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior, I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—I, and not some foreign god among you” (Is 43:11, 12). Isaiah further states that God would show himself as savior by the future blessing and restoration of Israel (Is 49:26; 60:16). The idea that Christians have somehow invented the idea that the Messiah is found in such passages as Isaiah 53 or that Messiah would not be a “Savior” – saving Israel (and the Gentile believing world) from their sins is simply not accurate. These concepts are truly Jewish to the core! When will Messiah come? The new exodus generation This same Jewish web site claims one of the orthodox views describing when Messiah will come: “…in a generation that is totally innocent or totally guilty;” Please note what is said of Israel’s last day’s terminal generation in Deuteronomy 32:20-22: “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end (Matthew 10:22-23, Matthew 24:3, Matthew 13:39-40, – end of the old covenant age) shall be: for they are a very perverse generation (Matthew 23:36, Matthew 24:34, Mark 8:38; Acts 2:40), children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people (Romans 10:19, 11:11); I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (Mt.21:42-43/ 1 Peter 2:9). For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire (2 Peter 3; Revelation 8:8) the foundations of the mountains.” (Deut. 32:20-22). This “perverse generation” mentioned here in “the Song of Moses” was prophesied to “not be wise” and “not discern” what their “end will/was to be” (Deut. 32:29). They rejected their true Rock/Christ and thus they would be destroyed. This “judgment” came upon those that rejected him, yet He was compassionate to the remnant and also brought joy to the Gentile nations at the same time (Deut. 32:36, 43). This is the generation Jesus addresses throughout His ministry and the one the NT authors confront and comfort in the first century concerning an imminent judgment and salvation. Judaism’s dilemma of a Messiah coming in a “totally guilty” or “totally innocent generation” is one and the same! Jesus as Messiah in the AD 30 – AD 70 generation was saving and making pure (“innocent”) and righteous the remnant while at the same time holding accountable the perverse, wicked and adulterous among that generation that had rejected Jesus and the prophets. The author fails to realize that his rejection of Jesus as Messiah is what made the last days AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” “guilty” and held accountable from all the blood of righteous going back to Abel going through to those NT prophet’s Jesus would send to her prior to her House/Temple being destroyed and Israel’s judgment in AD 70 (Deut. 32:5, 20/Acts 2:40/Luke 17:25/Mark 8:38-9:1/Matthew 23:30-38/24:34). Many of the Rabbis of Jesus’ and Peter’s day described the reign of Messiah to be a transition period between their Old Covenant “this age” and the Messianic or New Covenant “age to come.” They saw Messiah accomplishing redemption, salvation, and the new temple being built during this “millennial” period. What is interesting to note is that the millennial or transition period was thought of to last 40 years (a particular generation) . Their theological reason being – as long as Israel wandered in the dessert was the period in which the remnant of the Messianic generation would see gladness. Speaking of the transition period of Messiah Schoeps says some Rabbi’s considered it: “… a short interval for the interim period, namely, forty years (R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus; Bar. In Sanh. 99a; R. Aqiba: Midr. Teh on Ps. 90:15; Tanch. Eqeb 7b, Pes. Rabb. 4a). The two Tannaites, commenting on Ps. 95:7, derive this time indication from the Messianically understood v. 10 (“forty years I loathed that generation” and from Deut. 8:2 by a parallelization with the forty years in the desert.” G.K. Beale also points out the same, “There are numerous Jewish traditions about the nature and length of the future messianic reign. Some speculated that there would be no messianic reign at all, while others proposed periods of an intermediate reign from 40 to 365,000 years.” “see the surveys of rabbinic views in b. Sanhedrin 97a-b, 99a; Midr. Ps. 90:17; Pesikta Rabbati 1…” Please note above that one of the texts that Rabbi’s derived a forty-year transitional reign of Messiah from was Psalm 90:15-17: “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. Let the work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” Some commentators see the “establish the work of our hands” to be the rebuilding of the temple motif, or that generation needing to finish what they set out to do in order to inherit the land. If the Temple motif is meant, then the Messianic NT anti-type would be that through Christ, the true New Covenant Israel of God was brought “gladness” and peace through the out pouring and fruits of the Holy Spirit. God established the works of the Apostles hands as they laid their hands upon the believers and they received the Spirit – thus building up the Temple/Church/Body and bringing it to maturity by AD 70. As the miraculous aid of the Holy Spirit was given in the building up of the Old Covenant Tabernacle in the OT so too was His beauty and presence given to rest upon His people to perform signs and wonders in “establishing the works of their hands” in the building up of His New Covenant Temple/Body. In “a very little while” their “works,” “labor,” and vindication approaching AD 70 would follow them into the very Most Holy of Holies (Hebrews 3-4, 8-10; Revelation 6; 11:18-19; 14:13). The “beauty of the Lord” and His glory would reside “within” His glorious New Jerusalem/New Creation (Luke 17:20-21f./Luke 21; John 14:2-3, 23; Colossians 1:27; Revelation 21-22). This New Covenant Temple/City/Creation according to the book of Revelation would be completed and descend out of heaven to earth in an “at hand” and “soon” time frame – not thousands of years. If establishing the work of their hands has the Messianic goal of inheriting the land motif associated with it, then it is noted that they longed for a spiritual land and city which was “about to” be inherited at Christ’s “in a very little while” coming (Heb. 10:37, 11:13-16/13:14YLT). Recent scholarship has begun developing what Full Preterists have been for years now and that is, it is becoming undeniable that the OT prophets foretold a recapitulated “new exodus” that would be accomplished by Messiah/Jesus in the first century. This was the understanding of the Jews during Jesus’ ministry. “We find the Rabbinic literature repeated references to the Exodus as a model of final redemption.15 There was widespread expectation of a repetition of the signs of the Exodus16 and the expectation of once again being taken into the wilderness to meet with God.17 This would happen on the night of the Passover.18 It was believed that a new Moses would lead the people, a new Moses who was identified with the promised descendant of David.19 It was expected that once again the people would be fed miraculously with manna. Ben-Sira, in his extended prayer for deliverance, prays for a repetition of ‘signs and wonders’ in a final redemption constructed on Exodus categories.” Mr. Holland cites some OT passages (some we have already addressed) in support of the “New Exodus,” “…a descendant of David would be raised up (Isa.11:1). He would lead the people from their captivity back to the Promised Land (Isa.11:11). He would be anointed with the Spirit of the Lord for this task (Isa.61:1-2). He would lead the people through the wilderness (Hos.2:14); it would be just like when the Jews left Egypt, for it would be a Second Exodus. The pilgrimage through the desert would be under the protection of the Holy Spirit (Isa.44:3), just as the pilgrimage from Egypt had been. There would be miracles (Mic.7:15) like when they came out of Egypt, and the desert would be transformed as nature shared in the re-creation of the nation (Isa.55:13). The returning exiles would return telling of the salvation of God (Isa.52:7-10). There would be a new covenant established which would be centered on the Davidic prince (Isa.9:6-7) and, unlike when the people came out of Egypt when their flesh was circumcised, this time the hearts of the people would be circumcised (Jer.31:31-34). This return from exile would be their return to Eden (Isa.51:3). Once the people arrived back at Jerusalem they would build a magnificent temple that the descendant of David would dedicate (Ezk.44-45). Into this temple all the nations would come to worship Israel’s God (Isa.2:1-5). The Lord would come into his temple (Isa.4:2-6) and, finally, the wedding between God and his people would be celebrated with a great cosmic banquet (Isa.54:1-8).” The Father at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry states, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,’ thus the Servant that Isaiah predicted in which salvation or the “New Exodus” would be accomplished (Psalm 2:7; Isaaiah 42:1ff.) has arrived. Jesus is the “True” “Vine,” “Servant,” “Son,” “Witness,” etc. which communicates to the Jew that He is indeed the true Israel of God that could and would not fail as Israel had done under the Old Covenant. He is taken into the wilderness to be tested for forty days as Israel’s spies were tested for 40 days. John the Baptist and Jesus begin their ministries by quoting and appealing to “New Exodus” material in Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3-5/Luke 3:4-6; Isaiah 61:1-2/Luke 4:18-19). When John is confused in prison, Jesus assures him that the miracles of the “New Exodus” that Isaiah predicted were being fulfilled by Him (Luke 17:21-22), therefore He indeed is the Messianic new Moses verifying that a New Covenant redemption was here. At the transfiguration Jesus is speaking to Moses and Elijah about his “exodus” (not “departure” as some translations render it). This new covenant or “New Exodus” is established by taking His disciples into the upper room at Passover thus identifying Himself as the Paschal offering. Mr. Holland goes on to point out other traditional NT texts that support the “New Exodus” motif (Acts 26:17-18, Gals.1:3, Cols.1:12-14, and Rev.1:5-6). And clearly in the book of Revelation the Old Covenant Harlot City of Jerusalem is described as the enslaving power of Egypt along with other Gentile sinful powers as Babylon. In doing so, God is communicating that through Jesus and the Church, the two main redemptions and restorations of Israel’s history are be recapitulated and will be fulfilled shortly. Here are parallels of the New Exodus theme: 1) An edict was sent out to kill the male children during the time of Moses (Exodus1:22) and an edict was issued by Herod to kill the male children in hopes of killing Jesus (Matthew 2:16). 2) After killing the Egyptian Moses fled to Midian until the wrath of the king passed (Exodus 2:15) and Joseph and Mary, fled with Jesus to Egypt until the wrath of the king passed (Matthew 2:14). 3) God called Moses back to his country to be his people’s deliverer (Exodus 3:10) just as Jesus was called back to His country (Matthew 2:20) to be their deliverer. 4) God kept Moses 40 days in the wilderness before giving the law on a mountain (Deut. 9:11; Exodus19) and He likewise kept Jesus 40 days in the wilderness before placing Him on a mount to give the New Covenant law and thus the true interpretation of the old (Matthew 4:1-chapter 5). Both received glory on top of a mountain. While being tested by Satan for 40 days Jesus quotes three scriptures found in the Exodus wilderness testing: (Matthew 4:4/Deut. 8:3; Matthew 4:7/Deut. 6:16; Matthew 4:10/Deut. 6:13 & Deut 10:20). 6) God through Moses appointed 70 elders (Numbers 11:16) and Jesus appointed 70 disciples (Luke 10:1). Old Covenant Israel consisted of 12 tribes and Jesus forms the restored Israel with an inner core of 12 disciples. 7) God’s Old Covenant people were delivered from His judgment upon Egypt by the first Passover. This deliverance was substitutional in nature and was brought about through the shedding of a lamb’s blood. God’s New Covenant people were delivered from the wrath (“His blood be upon us and our children”) that would be poured out upon Jerusalem/Egypt/Revelation 11:8 through the New Covenant Passover blood of Jesus (the lamb of God). In the first exodus the death of “first born” of humans and animals were to appease God’s wrath. In the New Covenant exodus Jesus is both the “first born” and the “Lamb.” 8) In God forming Old Covenant Israel during this time it was a creating of the heavens and earth (Isa.51:15-16). Through the cross and parousia of Jesus a New Covenant heavens and earth were being created and would replace the former Old Covenant one “shortly” (Isaiah 65-66; Matthew 5:17-18; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3; and Revelation 21-22). 9) In the formation of Old Covenant Israel, God was bringing about deliverance from the physical bondage and slavery of Egypt. In the New Covenant transitionary period, God was creating and delivering a remnant of New Covenant Israel out from the spiritual bondage and slavery of the Old Covenant “elements of the world” which was the law. 10) Fifty days after the first Passover and the giving of the law (Exodus 19) 3,000 died for idolatry (Exodus 32:28). Fifty days after the Passover in Jesus’ blood 3,000 are saved and filled with the Spirit (Acts 2). 11) There was a miraculous outpouring of the Spirit’s work in building the Old Covenant tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-11). The AD 30 – 70 generation also saw the miraculous work of God in profound ways. There was a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s work in the “last days” in which the building and erecting of the spiritual New Covenant tabernacle/temple of God was taking place. The first was a physical building with the hands and the later was a spiritual building by the laying on of hands of the Apostles. The Church was and is clearly the New Covenant kingdom tabernacle or temple that was predicted by the prophets of which Jesus was the corner stone (Acts 15/Amos 9; Mark 12:10-11; Acts 4:11/Psalm118, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:4-10/Psalm 118, Isaiah 28:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16/Ezekiel 37:26-27). Just as Micah 7:15 predicted miracles would occur in this new exodus under Messiah – so the miracles lasted until He returned to end her age and fulfill Israel’s promises (Mark 16:15-18/Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12). 12) God was grieved with the unbelieving Old Covenant generation and did not allow them to enter the Promised Land (Heb. 3:10). God was grieved with the adulterous and wicked generation of His day and did not allow them to inherit His heavenly rest in His kingdom – “In Christ” (Mark 8:31-9:1, Matthew 23:34-46, Hebrews 3-4, 6, 9-10:37, 13:14YLT). 13) The wilderness wandering generation was baptized into Moses by passing through the red sea whereby they would receive a physical salvation from their persecutors. The water which did not touch them did destroy their enemies (1Corinthians 10:1-2). There likewise was a baptism of fire and persecution in which the first century Church underwent that was separating the gold (true believers) from the wood (professing believers) and would eventually burn up the persecutors (Matthew 3:11; Luke 8:13-14; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2- 3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-12). The children or remnant of Moses generation that went through the red sea would enter into the rest and salvation of the Promised Land. Likewise the remnant of spiritual Israel would inherit and enter the Heavenly Country “In Christ” (Hebrews 3-4, 12) with Peter describing the spiritual New Covenant salvation and entrance into the kingdom as the salvation of the “soul” (1 Peter 1:4-12). In examining the teachings of Jesus and that of the NT authors, we have found that the contemporary “this generation” of Jesus in (Matthew 24:34) is the one which witnessed His return and brought to maturity the New Covenant Exodus/Redemption predicted by the prophets. That New Covenant Temple/House/City/Creation was matured with the coming of Jesus in AD 70 and therefore, the Church today invites those who through the Holy Spirit’s work realize they are lost and thirsty sinners needing to come Home. The doors are always open and light is always on, so come home thou weary sinner come home (Revelation 21-22:17). Modern day “Jews” mock Second Coming of Jesus doctrine “The main task of the Messiah was to bring the world back to G-d, and to abolish all war, suffering and injustice from the world. Clearly, Jesus did not accomplish this. In order to get around this failure on the part of Jesus, Christians invented the doctrine of the “Second Coming.”. . . All the prophecies that Jesus did not fulfill the first time are supposed to be taken care of the second time around. However, the Jewish Bible offers absolutely no evidence to support the Christian doctrine of a “Second Coming.” “The idea of a second coming is a pure rationalization of Jesus’ failure to function in any way as a messiah, or to fulfill any of the prophecies of the Torah or the Prophets. The idea is purely a Christian invention, with no foundation in the Bible.” “This two-fold misapprehension of Jesus ¾ the nearness of the kingdom of heaven and his Messiahship perpetuated his memory and created Christianity. Had not the disciples expected his second coming Christianity could never have come into being: even as a Jewish sect. . . . The Jews as a whole could not, however, follow after a belief based on so slight a foundation. . . . Yet again, through the preaching of his messianic claims, after he had failed to manifest himself to the world again, in his power and glory, he became, in spite of himself, a “sacrifice,” a “ransom for many.” “The success of the Christian claim or its failure rests to a very large extent on the theory of the second coming. . . . The Jews never had the concept of a second coming, and since it was the Jews themselves who first taught the notion of a Messiah, via the Jewish prophets, it seems quite reasonable to respect their opinion more than anyone else’s. . . . the theory of the second coming is not based on Jewish tradition or sources, and is a theory born from desperation.” The Truth: Of course the Law and Prophets did foretell the coming of Messiah on the clouds of heaven to judge Israel and establish the Kingdom (the Christian view of the Second Coming). The (OG) LXX of (Daniel 7:13-14) (the “Bible” during Jesus’ day) states, that “one like the Son of Man” would “come on the clouds of heaven as the Ancient of Days.” Jesus appeals to this passage (and others) to form His doctrine of His return throughout Matthew’s gospel (ex. Matthew 16:27-28; 24-25; 26:64). And again, Jesus is depicted in the book of Revelation as coming on the clouds of heaven as the Ancient of Days (Revelation 1:7, 14-17). What is really being rejected here, is not that the Law and Prophets foretold a Second Coming (or Messiah coming on the clouds to usher in the kingdom), but rather that Jesus Himself (as very God “the Alpha and Omega”) would come on the clouds to fulfill this promise as the Messiah (Matthew 26:64/Revelation 1:7, 14-17). There was no “failure” for Christ in accomplishing what He set out to do in Israel’s AD 30 – AD 70 terminal generation concerning sacrifice and coming on the clouds in salvation and judgment to close the old covenant age. As the sacrifice (the Lamb of God) and functioning as the heavenly High Priest, He came a “second time” to the eagerly awaiting congregation to grant the forgiveness of sin to the remnant and close the “ready to vanish” old covenant age “in a very little while” to judge and put under His feet His first century enemies (Hebrews 8:13—9:26-28—10:37). History cannot be louder or mistaken in that Christ did in fact come with power and great glory in AD 70 taking the kingdom from Israel and giving it to the Church (Matthew 21:42-45). This is not only the testimony of the Law and Prophets, but the testimony of history – the consequences for the Jews rejecting their divine Messiah! Selah. Perhaps others have not seen the significance of the (OG) LXX of Daniel 7:13-14, but even Jewish scholars have admitted that the passage is dealing with a divine Messianic figure. In the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 98a (A.D. 400-600) we read: “R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee …] lowly, and riding upon an ass! — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass.” Jesus applies both of these OT passages to His redemptive work for Israel through His humility/rejection and suffering servant, to Him coming with salvation and judgment upon the clouds of heaven in AD 70. Jewish Scholar Alan Segal commenting on R. Akiba. Said and R. Yosi the Galilean disputing over the meaning of the passage said: “These two rabbis were perplexed by the seeming contradiction in the verses. In one place, more than one throne is indicated by the plural form of the noun. In another place “His (God’s) throne was fiery flames” implies only one throne. Does this mean that the ‘son of man’ in the next verse was enthroned next to God? Rabbi Akiba (110-135 C.E.) affirms the possibility, stating that the other throne was for David. Akiba must be identifying the ‘son of man’ with the Davidic messiah. Nor was R. Akiba alone in the rabbinic movement in identifying the figure in heaven as the messiah. There is some evidence that Judaism contained other traditions linking these verses in Daniel with the messiah.” Another Jewish scholar Jacob Neusner addresses the ‘older’ traditions which were: “We focus upon how the system laid out in the Mishnah takes up and disposes of those critical issues of theology worked out through messianic eschatology in other, earlier versions of Judaism. These earlier systems resorted to the myth of the Messiah as savior and redeemer of Israel, a supernatural figure engaged in political-historical tasks as king of the Jews,even a God-man facing the crucial historical questions of Israel’s life and resolving them: the Christ as king of the world, of the ages, of death itself.” Orthodox Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin writes on the characteristics of Daniel 7 and the development of Jewish and Christian thought: “What are these characteristics?
- He is divine.
- He is divine in human form.
- He may very well be portrayed as a younger-appearing divinity than the Ancient of Days.
- He will be enthroned on high.
- He is given power and dominion, even sovereignty on earth.
“All of these are characteristics of Jesus Christ as he will appear in the Gospels, and they appear in this text more than a century and a half [sic] before the birth of Jesus. Moreover, they have been further developed within Jewish traditions between the Book of Daniel and the Gospels. At a certain point these traditions became merged in Jewish minds with the expectation of a return of a Davidic king and the idea of a divine-human Messiah was born. This figure was then named ‘Son of Man,’ alluding to his origins in the divine figure named ‘one like a Son of Man/a human being’ in Daniel. In other words, a simile, a God who looks like a human being (literally Son of Man) has become the name for that God, who is now called ‘Son of Man,’ a reference to his human-appearing divinity…” And: “There are many variations of traditions about this figure in the Gospels themselves and in other early Jewish texts. Some Jews had been expecting this Redeemer to be a human exalted to the state of divinity, while others were expecting a divinity to come down to earth and take on human form; some believers in Jesus believed the Christ had been born as an ordinary human and then exalted to divine status, while others believed him to have been a divinity who came down to earth. Either way, we end up with a doubled godhead and a human-divine combination as the expected Redeemer.*…” Ancient Jews described the anticipated Messiah with the title “he of the clouds.” Boyarin referring to other scholars such as J.A. Emerton points out that any good Jew knew that only Yahwe himself rode upon the clouds of heaven in judgment, “Clouds–as well as riding on or with clouds–are a common attribute of biblical divine appearances, called theophanies (Greek for ‘God appearances’) by scholars. J.A. Emerton had made the point decisively: ‘The act of coming with clouds suggests a theophany of Yahwe himself. If Dan. vii. 13 does not refer to a divine being then it is the only exception out of about seventy passages in the Old Testament.’ “…As New Testament scholar Matthew Black puts it bluntly, ‘This, in effect, means that Dan. 7 knows of two divinities, the Head of Days and the Son of Man.’ Those two divinities, in the course of time, would end up being the first two persons of the Trinity.” “Ancient Jewish readers might well have reasoned, as the Church Father Aphrahat did, that since the theme of riding on the clouds indicates a divine being in every other instance in the Tanakh (the Jewish name for the Hebrew Bible), we should read this one too as the revelation of God, a second God, as it were. The implication is, of course, that there are two such divine figures in heaven, the old Ancient of Days and the young one like a son of man.” “The Messiah-Christ existed as a Jewish idea long before the baby Jesus was born in Nazareth. That is, the idea of a second God as a viceroy to God the Father is one of the oldest theological ideas in Israel. Daniel 7 brings into the present a fragment of what is perhaps the most ancient of religious visions of Israel that we can find…” (Ibid.). The presentation of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:13 is perhaps a reference to Christ in His Parousia delivering up the kingdom (“the saints”) to the Father (“the Ancient of Days”) in AD 70. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:24) Again my preferred interpretation is similar to that of F.F. Bruce. According to the Old Greek Septuagint translation of Daniel 7:13, the Son of Man came “as the Ancient of Days” on the clouds of heaven, not “to the Ancient of Days.” This translation is in harmony with verse 22, which says that it was the Ancient of Days Himself who came in judgment and gave the saints the kingdom. It is also important to point out that John in the book of Revelation alludes to Dan. 7:9, 13 in his description of Christ as being both the Son of Man who comes on the clouds to judge those whom had pierced Him (first century Jews) and as the eternal Ancient of Days in Rev. 1:7, 13-17. Again the context is developing Christ’s future “soon” (Rev. 1:1) Second Coming not His ascension. Unfortunately many Christians apply this cloud coming of Messiah/Jesus to the ascension. However, the New Testament does not develop or give the slightest hint that “the coming of the Son of Man” on the clouds of heaven would be fulfilled in the Ascension. I would agree with Keil and Delitzch comments that the direction is downward upon the enemies and is developed in the NT to the Second Coming (and nowhere to the ascension): “…it is manifest that he could only come from heaven to earth. If the reverse is to be understood, then it ought to have been so expressed, since the coming with the clouds of heaven in opposition to the rising up of the beasts out of the sea very distinctly indicates a coming down from heaven. The clouds are the veil or the “chariot” on which God comes from heaven to execute judgment against His enemies; cf. Ps. 18:10f., 97:2–4; 104:3, Isa. 19:1, Nah. 1:3. This passage forms the foundation for the declaration of Christ regarding His future coming, which is described after Dan. 7:13 as a coming of the Son of man with, in, on the clouds of heaven; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 18:26; Rev. 1:7; 14:14.” Is/Was Messiah to be “worshipped”? Before leaving Daniel 7:13-14 it should be noted that this one likened to the “Son of Man” and “Ancient of Days” coming on the clouds of heaven is “worshipped” (vs. 14 NIV the original Aramaic is pelach – some translations render the word to mean divine “service”). In establishing the meaning of a passage or word in a particular text we need to examine its usage elsewhere in the same book. Everywhere in Daniel pelach is used of divine service or worship. Of false gods in Daniel 3:12. In Daniel 3:17-18 we are told that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego only gave divine service and worship to the only living God and would not render divine service and worship to Nebuchadnezzar’s false gods. In Daniel 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar gives praise to their God and reinstates that they “yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.” In Daniel 6:16, 20 it describes Daniel’s divine service to the only living God continually which is given in hopes that God would and did deliver Daniel from the den of the lions. In Daniel 7:27 when the Ancient of Days came (cf. vss. 13-14, 22) to give possession of the Kingdom to the saints, “all rulers will worship and obey him.” The Seventy sevens of Daniel 9:24-27 Again, while here in Daniel we should probably (and briefly as possible) address another controversial passage in Daniel between Christians and modern day Judaism or Zionism – the seventy weeks (or better known literally as – the seventy sevens) of Daniel 9:24-27. First let’s review the main various Christian interpretations of this critical passage that have been offered over the years:
- Many of the early church fathers and exegetes today find the fulfillment in Christ’s appearance in the flesh, His death, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.
- Some modern interpreters see the whole passage to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
- Then other church fathers and even modern theologians have interpreted the prophecy from the Babylonian Exile to the kingdom’s arrival attended by the second coming of Christ – at the end of the days or end of the age.
As I will argue in this brief article the truth lies within views #1 & #3 with #2 possibly serving as a partial or typological fulfillment for an AD 70 full or anti-type fulfillment of the seventy sevens. Jesus indentifies the seventy sevens prophecy to reach its fulfillment in AD 70 with the judgment and destruction of the temple and city (Dan. 9:24a, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22) closing the old covenant age in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). But those that have traditionally taken a more preterist view throughout church history have erred in that they usually argue for a literal 490 years chronology of fulfillment and claim the seventy sevens are fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ (roughly in AD 26 – AD 30) and then reference the destruction of AD 70 as an addendum to what happened between those time periods. This does not work because exegetically the destruction of the temple and city are the crucial parts of the seventy sevens prophecy and in fact is its climax and brings the prophecy to an end! Some have suggested a 40 years “gap” in the chronology between AD 30 – AD 70, while at the same time criticizing premillennial dispensationalism for creating a “gap theory” of thousands of years between the 69th and 70th “week” to support their erroneous eschatological system. Neither approach is exegetical or accurate. View #3 is accurate in that the seventy sevens prophecy is not a literal 490 years chronological period, but rather a symbolic and prophetic period marked by sevens. Its other strength is that it sees some of the redemptive aspects contained in Daniel 9:24 to be referring to Christ’s second coming at the end of the age. It however errs in that it fails to acknowledge that Christ posits its redemptive end and unfolding of the kingdom to be fulfilled: 1. in the destruction of the temple and city (Dan. 9:24, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22), 2. the “end of the age” or “the end” in (Matt. 24:3, 14) is referring to the end of the old covenant age in AD 70 and not the end of world history or the end to the new covenant or Christian age, and 3. Jesus posits the fulfillment of redemption and the arrival of his kingdom and second coming to take place within the same AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time period (Luke 21:27-32). And although I agree that the seventy sevens prophecy of Daniel is a symbolic period of time, Daniel did predict that Jehovah’s kingdom would be established during the time of the Roman kingdom (Daniel 2). The view I will be arguing for acknowledges all of these key elements to Daniel’s prophetic material. And by way of introduction, we should also note that this passage was known to be messianic among some Jews: B. San 97a: “Our masters taught as follows of the particular seven-year period at whose end [Messiah] son of David will appear” (This seems to refer directly to the Danielic final week!) B. San 97b: “Rav said: All times set for redemption have passed, and the matter now depends only on repentance and good deeds” (All time calculations had been fulfilled). B. San 97b: “R. Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: Blaste be the bones of those who presume to calculate the time of redemption. For they are apt to say, ‘Since redemption has not come at the time expected, it will never come.’ Rather, one must wait for it…what then delays its coming? The measure of justice delays it…” I couldn’t agree more that these “Jews” did in fact miss and reject the redemptive work of their Messiah (Jesus the Christ) in Daniel’s last seven and “Judaism” hasn’t been the same since AD 70 – having reached her “end” during that terminal “crooked and perverse” generation (Deut. 32:5, 20/Acts 2:20-40/Luke 17:20-21, 25; 21:32). Moses predicted that many of them would not be able to “discern” their “end” (Deut. 32:29). When Israel disobeyed the covenant it is said, “The land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its Sabbaths while it is made desolate without them.” (Lev. 26:43). In Second Chronicles we read, “All the days of its desolation, it kept Sabbath to fulfill Sabbath to fulfill seventy years” (2 Chron. 36:21 NSAB). As those 70 years of captivity were ending and the land had received its Sabbath rest, Daniel prays for his people and is given a prophetic time explaining Israel’s imminent deliverance from the Babylonian captivity and yet at the same time, encompassing her coming Messiah within a period of 70 sevens in which there would be a greater rest and restoration for Israel. The Anointed/Prince/Ruler/Messiah Jesus is the anti-type of (or the new) Cyrus delivering Israel from her bondage of sin and raising her from the graves of sin-death. And this partial restoration back into the land typified through Nehemiah and Ezra pointed to an anti-typical eschatological fulfillment of being gathering “in Christ” at the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Matt. 13:39-43, 49; 24:30-31—25:31-46). I believe it is a mistake for Christians (both futurists and preterists) to take the 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 to be a literal 490 years. Jesus posits the end to the seventy sevens or weeks and redemption at the fall of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15/Dan. 9:27, Luke 21:27-32) in AD 70, and there is no way of having this working out to be a literal 490 years. Modern day Judaism and Zionists mock Christians for this very problem, but it is not a problem I have since I do not take the seventy seven’s prophecy to be a literal 490 years! Lee Irons and Meredith Kline are at least correct on this point: “The seventy “weeks” (literally “sevens”) comprise a definite period of time until the coming of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem…a period that is actually longer than a literal 490 years.” …the point of the seventy weeks is not to provide a precise chronological prediction but to make the profound theological point that the coming of Christ and the abrogation of the Old Covenant order will usher in the eschatological Sabbath rest for the people of God.” These authors also point out that this is not an unusual way of communicating within the Jewish mindset and give the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17 (whereby evidence is given that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah) as an example: “Similarly, in his genealogy of Christ, Matthew employs sabbatical theology to structure history. He purposely dropped at least four names and counted David twice to construct a sabbatical structure of the history of redemption from Abraham to the Messiah. He states that from Abraham to David is 14 generations; from David to the captivity is 14 generations; and from the captivity to Messiah, 14 generations (Matt.1:17). This was intentional: the author purposely wanted to stress this numerical system, primarily because of its sabbatical symbolism (3×14 = 6×7); the generations of the Messiah represents the seventh seven, thereby showing that it is He who inaugurates the ultimate Sabbath rest for the people of God, the eschatological age. Matthew employs sabbatical symbolism to underscore one of his major themes: the Messiah’s advent constitutes the apex and fulfillment of redemptive history.” The book of Hebrews not only tells us when the “old covenant order” would pass away – it was “ready (“soon”) to vanish” (Heb. 8:13), but in chapters 3-4 it tells us that Israel entering the land and sabbath rest were typological pointing to a remaining day or “another day” of sabbath rest coming. This is the second appearing or “the Day approaching” in (Heb. 10:25, 37) that was coming in a “very little while” and would “not be delayed” in which God’s raging fire was “about to” consume the enemies of God – “his people” (Heb. 10:27 YLT, 30). In Hebrews 9:26-28 we are told that Jesus appeared in Israel’s “last days” “at the end of [the OC] age” (this is in “the end” or “the end that is decreed” for the seventy sevens to be fulfilled) “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” “…sacrificed to take away the sins of many;” (cf. Dan. 9:27) and “bring salvation to those who are waiting” “a second time.” Hebrews 9:26-28 so accurately describes the work of Messiah in the last seven of the seventy sevens (his redemptive work in His first and second appearings). Simply put, the prophecy of the seventy sevens symbolizes a period between the imminent fall of Babylon in Daniel’s day (in 538 BC) to the imminent fall of “Babylon” (the old order or old covenant “Jerusalem” the apostate “Great City” or “Harlot” of Revelation) in John’s day (in AD 70) – a period covering roughly 608 literal years (not 490). The book of Revelation is outlined with the number 7 representing perfection, Sabbath rest and New Creation motifs (7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 angels with 7 plagues, 7 bowls of God’s wrath, etc… Revelation 22 depicts entering into this Sabbath or New Creation rest after Babylon’s/Jerusalem’s fall in an imminent AD 70 time frame (the same imminent time frame we see in the book of Hebrews): “…sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place,” “Behold I am coming soon,” “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near,” (cf. Rev. 22:6-7, 10-12, 20). Daniel 9:24 – Here are the main elements of the seventy sevens in Daniel 9:24-27 to be fulfilled for Israel and her city Jerusalem: 1. finish transgression, 2. put an end to sin, 3. to atone for wickedness, 4. to bring in everlasting righteousness, 5. to seal up vision and prophecy, and 6. to anoint the most holy. Jerusalem “filled up” or “finished transgressions” against God and His Messiah within Jesus’ “this generation” (Mt. 23:31-38; Dan. 9:24a). Christ put an “end to sin” at His imminent “in a very little while” Second Appearing as the Great High Priest fulfilling the NC promises made to Israel and to close the “last days” of the OC age in AD 70 (Heb. 9:26-28/10:37; Rom. 11:26-27/13:11-12; Dan. 9:24b.). At Christ’s return in AD 70, He brought in “everlasting righteousness” or a “world of righteousness” in 2 Peter 3 – the “end of all things” being “at hand” in Peter’s day (1 Peter 4:5-7). Christ anointed and consummated the New Covenant Church as His Most Holy Place and Bride in AD 70 (Ex. 20, 29-31, 40; cf. Hebrews 9:6-10; Revelation 11:18-19, 19-21:16). Therefore, all the eschatological promises made to Israel concerning vision and prophecy were fulfilled or sealed up by AD 70 in fulfillment of the seventy sevens prophecy. Daniel 9:25 – The “decree (of Cyrus) to restore and re-build Jerusalem” is found in 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:24, 26, 28; 45:13; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, xi, 6, 12. It’s rebuilding in the “difficult times” of Ezra and Nehemiah can be read in those OT books. The first 62 sevens represents a period from the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah and Ezra to the first coming of Jesus – the “Anointed One.” Jesus was anointed by the Father to preach the good news of the Gospel to Israel. Daniel 9:26 – The Anointed One/Prince/Ruler/Leader/Messiah (Jesus the Christ), would be “cut off” after the 62 sevens. This shouldn’t surprise us since we already learned in our section of Isaiah 53 that Messiah would be cut off as well and have nothing (with some Jews conceded this point). “The people (the Jews or Roman soldiers) of the Ruler (Jesus), will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end (of the seventy sevens) will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Between AD 66 – AD 70 not only did the Romans surround the city, but the Idumeans (Jewish Zealots) did as well and entered Jerusalem resulting in the city being divided into three warring sects – all shedding blood over the Temple area and for control of Jerusalem. War and blood shed took place within the Temple and thus it was subject to abominations. The Romans (who were also under the control of Christ) did very little except wait it out and let “the people” that rejected their Messiah to devour (sometimes literally) each other. Also through the imprecatory prayers of the Christians (people of the Prince), Jerusalem was destroyed and it’s mountain removed and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Matthew 21:18-22àRevelation 8:8). Daniel 9:27 – The “He” here is still the Messiah (not an alleged “Anti-Christ”) and through His sacrifice He established the New Covenant for the “many” (ie. the Church the new Israel of God). This last seven was from the anointing of Jesus in His first coming to His anointing the Church in His Second in AD 70. His Wife and or New Jerusalem is described as a perfect cube as the MHP place was (cf. Rev. 21:16 & “the first” [Holy Place] representing the OC community being removed in AD 70 and “the second” [the Most Holy Place] representing the NC community and its establishment during the time of the “new order” fully arriving at the end of the OC age in AD 70 in a “very little while” cf. Heb. 9:6-10, 26-28; 10:37). Christ came and overshadowed Jerusalem with desolation and determined wrath upon the desolate in AD 70 (cf. Matthew 24:15ff/Luke 21:20-24). So from the birth of Israel’s King and Messiah (Jesus the Christ) to His second appearing at the end of her OC age in AD 70 is roughly even a more redemptive significant 70 years for her coming out of bondage and slavery from “Babylon” into the freedom, rest and salvation found not “in the land” but “in Christ.” Selah. 3. The Eschatology of “Christian” Dispensational Zionism: Introduction: The modern day Christian Zionist movement is a consistent outgrowth and byproduct of Dispensationalism. This eschatological view of Bible prophecy has only been around for about 150 years. It was founded and systematized by the teachings of John Nelson Darby, and then picked up and popularized through Cyrus Scofield (The Scofield Reference Bible), D.L. Moody and Donald Barnhouse. Its largest boost has come through the radio and television airwaves. Popular so called “prophecy expert” authors that liter the contemporary Christian book store shelves are Charles Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible), John Walvoord, Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, Grant Jeffrey, John Hagee, Chuck Smith and Hal Lindsey. Religious institutions peddling this false view of Bible prophecy are the Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, Assembly of God Bible Colleges, Calvary Chapel Bible College, The Master’s Bible College and Seminary, etc. U.S. presidents that have embraced this system have been Jimmie Carter and Ronald Reagan. Reagan told Tom Dine, AIPAC’s executive director; “I turn back to your ancient prophets in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we’re the generation that is going to see that come about.” The remark was published by the Jerusalem Post and widely distributed by the Associated Press. This raised red flags not just among the liberal left, but among conservative Christians that understood their Bibles better than Reagan and the “prophecy experts” he had been influenced by. The ICEJ (The International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem) was founded in 1980 with the goal to “comfort” Israel by educating Jews on their national heritage and convince them to leave other countries and come back into the land of Israel. I say “comfort” in quotations because it is the ICEJ’s agenda to usher in the “rapture” of the church which would involve in their theology – a 2/3’s death of the Jewish population during the Great Tribulation. This is ironic since they claim Preterists or those that don’t support their cause are anti-Semitic and yet their theology is the most insulting and dangerous view of the modern “Jew” today! The organization has joined up with the already entrenched and powerful Jewish lobbyists to support the Israeli land and policy agendas to the U.S. and other foreign nations. Dispensational distinctions associated with the inclusion of the Christian Zionist movement include:
- The separation of Israel from the Church in Bible prophecy.
- A “literal hermeneutic” is drilled into the students and congregations of interpreting Bible prophecy – without ample training in studying the kind of genre (ex. apocalyptic figurative language) being studied or trying to find the literal meaning of the text.
- The “gathering” in 1948 of Israel becoming a nation was allegedly the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and is the “super sign” for our generation.
- The context and desolation of the first century temple Jesus and the disciples are talking about in Matthew 24 is ignored or double-fulfilled away in order for its theology to be forced into the text claiming that our generation will see another literal re-built temple to appear that will be desolated by the Anti-Christ who is allegedly “Alive and Well on Planet Earth.”
- This system is known for the belief that whenever there is a war in the Middle East, a famine, earthquake, false teaching, missionaries sent into a foreign country, etc. these “signs” are being fulfilled right before our very eyes in the News. These events are supposed to indicate that the rapture of the Church followed by the second coming 7 years later is genuinely near in our generation.
- Our generation is supposed to also witness a global Great Tribulation attended with a world-wide Armageddon war which has Russia and China as alleged players.
- All of this is followed by a literal coming of Jesus on a literal cloud to earth. Once on earth, Jesus is allegedly going to reign on a literal throne in the literal city of Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years in the land of Israel – as promised by God to Abraham.
- Then another temple is going to be built with animal sacrifices taking place while Jesus allegedly smells the stench of these sacrifices as he sits and reigns on a literal throne in Jerusalem.
Before we begin getting into the eschatological errors of this group, we should point out that one of their founders and most outspoken “theologians” doesn’t even know the gospel. Consider these comments given by John Hagee (One newspaper account puts it this way): Trying to convert Jews is a “waste of time,” he [Hagee] said. . . . Everyone else, whether Buddhist or Baha’i, needs to believe in Jesus, he says. But not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced with Christianity, he says. “The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses,” Hagee said. “I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption. “The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not,” said Hagee . . . These are extremely alarming statements that undermine the very gospel itself. Clearly the faulty dispensational system and Zionism, have become an idol to this man (and to so many of his and the systems followers) so much so, that he/they have distorted the fundamental gospel message. Jesus in the gospel of John chastised the Jews of his day for studying Moses (the law and the prophets) thinking that in that they would receive eternal life and yet Jesus says they testify of Him – “…and yet you (the Jews) refuse to come to me to have life” (cf. John 5:39-40). Jesus chastised his fellow Jews of his day for trusting that they were “Abraham’s descendants.” Yet Jesus informs them that they are no different than anyone else in that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” needing to be set free only by Him and His words – and if they did not believe in Him they would die in their sins (cf. John 8:24, 31-59). Peter quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 18 mentions that Moses predicted the coming “prophet” of Jesus and if they wouldn’t believe in him they would be “cut off” in the judgment of AD 70 and thus they needed to be “saved from that terminal “perverse and crooked generation” that Moses prophesied of and that they were living in (cf. Deut. 32:5, 20/Acts 2:20-40; Deut. 18:15-19/Acts 3:17-23). As I will demonstrate, they were judged and cut off at His coming in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70! If not believing in Jesus then didn’t work for the Jews, it is more than difficult to see how Hagee thinks things have changed since the arrival of the novel dispensational and Zionist movement! I point this out only to demonstrate that if this man doesn’t even understand the gospel because he is blinded by what he thinks the doctrinal implications of dispensational Zionism teaches, then it shouldn’t surprise us that he is wrong on virtually everything when it comes to eschatology. Let’s examine some of this views on us being the terminal generation allegedly witnessing the signs that mark Jesus’ return. Dispensational Zionist Signs Being Fulfilled In the News for Our Terminal Generation? Here are John Hagee’s 10 signs (taken from his book, Beginning of the End, pp. 85-100) in which he asserts are proof that our generation is the “terminal generation” that will see the soon return of Jesus: 1. An Increase in Knowledge: Based upon Daniel 12:4 our terminal generation is supposed to be seeing the fulfillment of this passage through “technology” such as, airplanes, the TV, life-support and the Internet etc…. The Truth: In context, the “knowledge” here is in reference to the work of Messiah and His coming salvation and judgment (previously discussed in Daniel 7; 9:24-27) which would be revealed in the prophetic “words of the scroll” concerning “the time of the end.” Roughly between AD 30 – AD 70 Jesus and the NT authors are describing how Jesus and the Church is fulfilling OT prophecies and such “knowledge” of Jesus’ salvation and imminent judgment was increasing. This has nothing to do with “technology”! Daniel was told to “seal up” the vision because its fulfillment was “far off” (concerning Israel’s coming salvation and judgment) (Daniel 8:26). John picks up where Daniel leaves off regarding the same prophetic material and was told “not to seal up” the vision, because the time was “at hand” (Revelation 22:10). For this false system of theology/eschatology to interpret “far off” literally as hundreds of years but then turn around and interpret “at hand” spiritually as meaning thousands of years, is unspeakable logic and pathetic or apply inconsistent hermeneutics! Obviously John Hagee and his Dispensational Zionist colleagues (similar to the unbelieving Jews during AD 30 – 70) have not paid attention to the increased knowledge on the time frame and spiritual nature of the salvation and kingdom that Jesus (as Messiah) and the NT writers were addressing. Sad but true. 2. Plague or Pestilence in the Middle East (Zech. 14:12-15): Hagee amazingly sees these passages being fulfilled via the Ebola virus and or modern day radiation resulting from nuclear wars etc… – lol. Wow. The Truth: It is true that plagues are described literally as in Exodus 7-12 and in the covenant curses and blessings say of Deuteronomy 28 or Leviticus 26 for example. But these kind of covenant curses and blessings can also be used symbolically in the Bible and that is what I believe we have here in Zechariah 14:12, 15. The NT informs us that prophetically there are two Jerusalem’s one earthly and literal representing the old covenant system, and the other spiritual and heavenly representing the new covenant system (Galatians 4:25-26). The earthly and old could be shaken and removed, while the other could not (cf. Hebrews 12). In Zechariah 14:2 the nations surround the earthly old covenant Jerusalem in the events surrounding AD 66 – 70. During this historic time frame, the Idumean Zealots surrounded Jerusalem as did the Roman armies (consisting of all the known conquered nations of that time) and attacked her from within and without. But in Zechariah 14 we also have a description of the spiritual new covenant Jerusalem and what would take place roughly during the same time period. Here we see new covenant Jerusalem “raised up,” “when evening comes, there will be light,” “living water” flows out from her, and she is fully inhabited “never again will it be destroyed,” with the new covenant Messianic Kingdom being established (vss. 7-11). We see a clear fulfillment of this in Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21-22. Christians living in the new covenant age/Kingdom/New Jerusalem experience these spiritual blessings of eternal life. But those outside the gates of the City are cursed living in spiritual darkness etc… Here in Zechariah 14:11-15 we find the spiritual condition and judgment that befalls those that came (and continue to come) against God’s people in the New Jerusalem. They are described as being cursed/plagued with all that they touch (ex. their animals) and having no water, while those within the New Jerusalem enjoy living water and all that they have (including their animals) are “HOLY TO THE LORD” (vss. 20-21). This is prophetic and symbolic language describing those blessed in the Messianic Kingdom or those opposed and are thus cursed outside of it. 3. The Re-birth of Israel in 1948: Allegedly our generation witnessing the “budding of the fig tree” in (Matthew 24:32-34) is supposed to be a fulfillment of Israel becoming a nation in 1948. Also since Isaiah 66:8-10 speaks of Israel being born in a day, this too is allegedly speaking of 1948. The Truth: Hagee miss-interprets Jesus’ teaching here in the Olivet Discourse and twists OT prophecies to support his self-fulfillment World War III agenda. If the budding of the fig tree is Israel becoming a nation in 1948, then what kind of fulfillment will Hagee give “…and all the trees” or “all the nations” in (Luke 21:29) happening in 1948?!? These men seem to want to avoid this parallel passage and for obvious reasons. Regarding Isaiah 66:8-10 Jesus taught that the covenantal status of Israel and her “kingdom” would be “taken” from her in AD 70 and be “given” to another “nation” “bearing the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43-45). Peter understands the Church being that “nation” (1 Peter 2:9). Isaiah 65-66 is a unit and when this nation is born and rejoicing takes place is when the New Jerusalem comes in her fullness according to chapter 65 and rejoicing takes place (cf. 65:18-19). The writer of Hebrews and Paul in Galatians 4 (and elsewhere in the NT) identifies the Church as “Zion” and or the “heavenly Jerusalem” “the Church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:22-23). The old covenant kingdom or Jerusalem would be “shaken” one more time (ie. in AD 70) with the new not being able to be shaken because she is spiritual or heavenly (Hebrews 12:27-29). The time of this nation being born or inheriting the New Jerusalem and her land was “about to” take place: “For here we do not have an ENDURING city (because it was about to be “taken” from OC Israel and “given” to NC Israel in AD 70) but we are looking for the city that is ABOUT TO COME” (Hebrews 13:14 YLT). This is when Christ was going to come in a “very little while” and “would not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). Israel or the New Jerusalem being born anew or again imminently is also found in the book of Revelation which tells us its content would be fulfilled “shortly” and not 2,000+ years away (Revelation 1:1; 21:2–22:6-7, 10-12, 22). Post AD 70 the nations are gathered into the New Jerusalem/Israel through the gospel (Revelation 22:17). 1948 has nothing to do with Isaiah’s restoration/birth of Israel motif in the Messianic or new covenant age – period! Jesus’ Born Again experience and Israel’s/the Churches In the book of Acts 13 we learn that Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was His born again experience: “Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent…. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings – that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” (Acts 13:26, 30-32 quoting Ps. 2:7). Jesus needed to undergo the process of being born again for His posterity and brethren – the Church (Heb. 2, 12:23). At Christ’s resurrection, He became the Churches “firstborn” or “firstfruit(s)” from among the dead ones (Cols. 1:15-18; 1 Cor. 15:20-21). But in what way was Christ’s resurrection the “first”? He surely was not the first to be biologically raised from the dead. His resurrection was the “first” in which Adamic (spiritual) death was overcome and would soon be overcome for the Church at His AD 70 return. Christ would conquer “the sin” of “the [Adamic] death” magnified through Israel’s Old Covenant “the Law” at His return to close and bring an “end” to the Old Covenant age in Jesus’ “this generation” (ie. AD 70–Mt. 24/1 Cor. 15). This process had begun with His resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The reference to Christ being the “firstborn” in Colossians is a new exodus theme. In the first exodus under Moses, God delivered Israel through the offering up of the blood of the firstborn lamb on the doorpost and through the sacrifice of Israel’s enemies – the first born among the Egyptians. This exodus and establishment of the Old Covenant at Mount Sinai resulted in God creating Israel as a heavens and earth (Isaiah 51:15-16). The soteriological and eschatological pattern in the NT is that Jesus recapitulates Israel’s redemptive history, and then the Church follows. So just as Christ needed to undergo severe persecution and death before He would be raised and established as the “firstborn” from among the dead, so too the Church (pre-AD 70) was in the process of filling up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Cols. 1:24-27). The Church was thus in the process of being united to Christ’s death in baptism and being raised into His resurrection image (Rms. 6:8ff.). She was a seed being sown into the ground and simultaneously dying and rising into this new image of the heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15: 43ff.). The Church had to undergo sever persecution (described as “birth pains”), to function as a general sign that the coming of Jesus to “gather” Her (or raise Her from the dead) into the Kingdom would take place in the first century “this generation” (Mt. 24:8, 30-34; Lk. 21:27-32). Under the Old Covenant, unfaithful Israel was in a perpetual state of child labor and in pain being unable to give birth or bring salvation to the Gentiles (Isa. 26:27-28). But the faithful remnant united to Christ’s death and resurrection would bring these soteriological and eschatological “groans” in “child birth” to the Gentiles, and thus “all Israel would be saved” or raised from the dead (cf. Romans 8:22-11:15, 26-27). The remnant would be faithful to give birth to a nation (the Church) in a day (Isaiah 66:8). I will be dealing with other OT texts Hagge twists to try and fit a 1948 fulfillment later in this article. 4. The Jews Are Continuing to Return Home to Israel from Russia and Other Countries: Supposedly Jeremiah 23:7-8 is the fulfillment of this modern day “sign.” The Truth: The Prophet Jeremiah deals with Israel coming back into her land under the spiritual leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra from the 70 years of Babylonian captivity (being in the North not modern day Russia). This gathering back in the land in repentance (which fulfills the re-gathering promises) has nothing to do with 1948 – a gathering in the land in unrepentance. This gathering in the land under Nehemiah and Ezra was typological of a gathering into the Messiah – the coming “righteous Branch” (vss. 5-6) in His kingdom, a heavenly land and New Jerusalem. I will discuss the NT’s shift of being “in Christ” fulfilling OT’s “in the land” promises in a bit. 5. Jerusalem is no longer under Gentile Rule: Hagee amazingly claims the Six Day War in 1967 fulfills Jesus’ teaching concerning the fulfillment of the “times of the Gentiles” in (Luke 21:24). The Truth: “There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:23-24). First off, Jesus tells us that this event would be fulfilled in His contemporary AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Luke 21:32). Secondly, this event is contextually and grammatically connected to the fall of the Temple in AD 70 and the questions asked by the disciples regarding its destruction in vss. 5-7 and Jesus’ exhortation to that generation to flee Jerusalem when they see the armies surrounding the City vss. 20-23 (which we know the Idumean’s and Roman armies did with the Christians fleeing the city per Jesus’ instruction). So the Gentiles trampling Jerusalem is clearly fulfilled in the events of AD 66 – AD 70 and the “times of the Gentiles” being fulfilled refers to the time prior to AD 70 when Gentile powers and nations (such as Rome) controlled the city. Post AD 70 there is spiritual New Jerusalem that cannot be “shaken” or trodden down by any Gentile nation (“times of the Gentiles”) today. This is the point and fulfillment of this passage and the events of 1967 have nothing whatsoever to do with it. 6. International Instant Communication: Hagge and others claim that without the technology of TV, the radio, satellites, etc… how could the entire planet earth view Jesus coming on a cloud in Revelation 1:7 and the two witnesses in Revelation 11? Surely since these passages couldn’t be fulfilled prior to our day, the fulfillment was for our generation and the end times is right before us right? Uh, not even close. The Truth: Hagee and other Dispensational Zionists think that the technology of TV is the only way Jesus could be literally seen by “every eye” of the “earth” at the same time (cf. Revelation 1:7). First, Revelation tells us that its content would be fulfilled “shortly” (not in our generation thousands of years away removed from its first century audience) and this includes verse 7 which is under discussion here (Revelation 1:1, 7). Secondly, “every eye” is qualified in the passage to be “those who pierced him” (first century Jews not all humanity) and “all the tribes of the land” (“tribes” being first century Jews with “land” being a better translation here than “earth”) would mourn at His coming. Thirdly, “see” in the Greek has the meaning of “perceive” or “understand” and we use it today in the same, “Do you see (understand) what I am saying?” Through the destruction of old covenant Jerusalem and her Temple in the historical events of AD 66 – AD 70, the Jews “understood” or “saw” that Christ had come through the Zealot Idumean and Roman armies. Let’s now turn our attention to the two witnesses of Revelation 11. Of course Hagee takes the testimony of the two witnesses “literally” and if the entire globe or “the inhabitants of the earth” witnesses their death, then according to this kind of thinking it must imply the invention of the television. The two witnesses whom have the characteristics of Moses and Elijah, have to do with the testimony of the OT (the Law/Moses and the prophets/Elijah) and the people of the Land (not the globe–Rome and apostate Israel) seeking to silence this testimony. The number three and a half is a broken seven and represents a time of sorrow and pain. So this has reference to the rejoicing and coming together (of these at one time enemies – Rome and apostate Jerusalem) in a united cause to silence and put Christ and the testimony of the Church to death (cf. Matthew 24:9; Colossians 1:24). A global televised production of this alleged event, is so far removed from the context of the prophecy that it is just scary and desperate speculation on the part of Hagee and other modern day prophecy guru’s. 7. Days of Deception (Jeremiah 9:5): According to Hagee, Jesus’s second coming is imminent for our generation because “deception” is so rampant today in the world. The Truth: First, this is not a global heightened level of deception taking place on planet earth in this passage, but rather Jeremiah is dealing with the gross sins or deception of his contemporaries and exhorting them on how they have broken the Mosaic covenant and therefore the covenant curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 would continue to follow them if they would not heed him. Those that were wicked and that would not heed his words would be carried off into captivity or fall by the sword (of the Chaldeans) (cf. Jeremiah 9:13-16). 8. Famines and Pestilence (Matthew 24:7-8): Hagee believes that the Ebola virus and AIDS fulfills this passage and thus World War III and Christ’s imminent return is near per Hagee’s view. The Truth: Again, Hagee ignores the context of what the Olivet Discourse is all about – “the end of the [old covenant] age” (not planet earth) with the destruction of its Temple that Christ and the disciples are talking about! Therefore, all of the signs mentioned here would be fulfilled in their contemporary “this generation” (AD 30 – AD 70) (Matthew 24:1-34). I will demonstrate how these signs were fulfilled prior to AD 70 later in this article. 9. Earthquakes (Amos 1:2; Zechariah 14): Per this passage, Hagee believes that the increasing earthquakes today are signs of an imminent return of Christ which will lead to one large earthquake predicted in Amos 1(?) which will get everyone’s attention. The Truth: The passage addresses a previous earthquake in Uzziah’s day but I don’t see anything in this text which suggests a future to us planet attention type earthquake predicted. Perhaps Hagee is also appealing to a hyper-literal interpretation of Zechariah 14 once again. Here the earthquake in Uzziah’s day is mentioned within the context of Jesus coming and the Mount of Olives splitting in two (Zechariah 14:4-5). As we noted earlier, Jesus says that according to the OT scriptures (John 7:37-39=Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 47; Joel 3:18) the living waters (of the Holy Spirit) which would flow from the Church (the Messianic Temple) is a spiritual fulfillment. Therefore, to literalize verses 4-7 does not flow with the context and how the NT authors understand the fulfillment of this passage. Likewise, the OT confirms a spiritual/apocalyptic/symbolic interpretation of God coming down upon the Mount of Olives, mountains and valleys being removed or spilt etc… (Isaiah 31:4; Micah 1:3-4; Habakkuk 3:6). A visual scene of Jerusalem shows that the Mount of Olives is an obstacle in the way to and from Jerusalem. Apocalyptic or symbolic language concerning this mountain splitting and a clear and level road being made simply means that God made a way of escape for the Christians in AD 66 by removing the apostate mountain of old covenant Jerusalem/Babylon. Their physical flight from Jerusalem during this time (cf. Matthew 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-24= Josephus, Jewish War 2:20:1; 4:6:1; 4:7:3) is also described for us one again in the book of Revelation chapter 12. The woman clothed with the sun and crowned with 12 stars having the moon underneath her feet is the church described as the faithful or New Israel. She is giving birth to a “male child” who is not Christ, but rather other members of the collective body of the church. In the Old Testament unbelieving Israel would be in labor groaning but could only give birth to “wind” and could not bear forth a child – or give birth and bring salvation to the peoples of the earth (cf. Isaiah 26:17-18). However, faithful Israel is able to bring forth the male child and salvation for the world in one day (as we saw in Isaiah 66:6-14). This is a reference to the time of the birth pains Jesus discussed in Matthew 24:8. Old covenant Israel after the flesh would groan in pain wanting what the church had and was about to give birth as well, but because of their rejection of Christ, their womb was cursed only to give birth to wind. The sufferings and groanings of the Church were momentary and would bring forth salvation to the world. Here in Isaiah “a male child” also represents “her children” plural. So we have Israel becoming born again and transformed through the metaphor of child birth. This is not referring to Mary giving birth to Jesus. That this male child is given a rod to rule the nations is the fulfillment of the promise given to the church in Revelation 2:27. The child being snatched up to heaven in verse 5 is but yet another description of what we saw of the two witnesses being raised up and called up to heaven in chapter 11. Resurrection and new birth are parallel concepts describing the transformation of the church as God’s new Israel and kingdom. The mother fleeing and being given wings to flee to the desert for 1,260 days or 3 ½ years represents the church fleeing for safety to Pella as Christ exhorted her to do in the Olivet Discourse. The Dragon represents Satan moving within his servants of the synagogue of Satan who persecuted the Christians and then sought to deceive them into staying within Jerusalem to fight the Romans. In verse 10ff. we reach the consummation once again. Satan and the apostate heavenly civil and religious rulers of Israel are cast to the earth (cf. Matthew 24:29). These were the accusers of the brethren – a scene played out for us in the book of Acts of which the church finally receives “relief” from at Christ’s parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:14-16). This is also the time of vindication in which they will rule over their enemies through the means of Christ coming to render upon their enemies “tribulation” and “wrath” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). A mountain(s) in apocalyptic literature such as we have here in Zechariah 14 and in the book of Revelation are not always literal. For example the persecuting apostate old covenant Israel is described as “Babylon” “Egypt” “Sodom” or “The Great City” in Revelation and the early Church was exhorted to “come out of Babylon, my people…” Through the imprecatory prayers of the church they had that mountain removed once and for all “shortly” in the events of AD 66 – AD 70 (Revelation 1:1; 8:8/Matthew 21:21-22; 11:8; 18:4). In Zechariah the mountain that was once an obstacle becomes a smooth valley and or a way of salvation/escape. Again this is the figurative language of the prophets and interpreted spiritually in the NT (Isaiah 40:34; Matthew 3:3; Luke 3:4-5). Through Christ “I am the way” and His word, the Church found salvation and deliverance from their first century persecutors – old covenant Jerusalem. 10. As in the Days of Noah (Matthew 24:36-39): Hagee and other Dispensational Zionists claim that our modern day wickedness such as murders, rapes, kidnappings, assaults, child abuse, parental abuse, etc… are signs that our terminal generation will see the Lord’s return. As the wickedness in Noah’s day resulted in the flood, so too Hagee reasons there is coming a worldwide Great Tribulation period. The Truth: Of course every generation throughout world history has been characterized with such wickedness and therefore could use Hagee’s reasoning that their generation was the “terminal” one. But the facts are that Jesus’ contemporary generation was described as “perverse” and “adulterous” not just for their wickedness but specifically for rejecting their Messiah (Acts 2:40/Deuteronomy 32:5, 20; Mark 8:38-9:1; Matthew 24:34). Jesus connects the wickedness of His contemporary generation for rejecting Him with the days of Noah in Luke 17:25-28. As far as comparing a global flood with a global Great Tribulation period coming in our generation I have only two brief points. First, I believe the Bible teaches a local flood and not a global flood (time and space restraints will not allow be to develop this). Secondly, the Great Tribulation is described in local terms – “There will be great distress/tribulation in the land and wrath against this people” (Luke 21:23). The Great Tribulation period is described from Jesus to take place against Israel (“the land” not the planet) and “against this people” (again the generation of Jews that rejected Him as their Messiah). And passages appealed to in the book of Revelation for a global Tribulation period quoting “earth” can and should be translated as “land” which is consistent with Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse. Having refuted Hagee’s signs let’s now turn our attention to Jesus’ and demonstrate how they were fulfilled in His contemporary “this generation” (Matthew 24:4-34). A Brief Exegesis of Matthew 24-25 “End of the age” – Were the disciples “confused?” Did they ask about the end of planet earth? All Dispensational Zionists begin with the disciples question in Matthew 24:3 and simply assume what they need to prove when they assume that the disciples were “confused” in associating Jesus’ coming and end of the age with the destruction of the temple. Since the Zionists theology separates these events by thousands of years, and the disciples linked them to be fulfilled altogether, they merely assume the disciples were mistaken and not them or their system. Here are some key hermeneutical steps the Zionist willfully skips:
- The Jews of Jesus’ day understood the phrase “this age” to be the old covenant age of Moses and the prophets and the “age to come” as the new covenant or Messianic age.
- In the book of Daniel the consummation of the major eschatological events can be found in chapters 7, 9 and 12. Daniel connected the eschatological “time of the end” events such as the desolation of the temple, the resurrection, the tribulation, the coming of the Son of man and the arrival of the kingdom, to take place when the city and temple would be destroyed – or “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” “all these things” (not some of them) would be fulfilled together (cf. see the consummation scenes in Dan. 12:1-7; Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 27; 9:24-27).
- In Matthew 13:39-43, 51 Jesus taught that the judgment and resurrection (“the time of the end” eschatological events) would take place at the end of their old covenant “this age.” Jesus specifically asks them if they understood His teaching on the time of this harvest at the end of their “this age” and they emphatically responded “Yes” (vs. 51).
- Jesus had previously taught that He would return in some of their lifetimes (Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1).
- Jesus previously taught them that all the blood from righteous Abel (from Genesis up to those He would send to them) would be avenged when the temple was destroyed in their “this generation” (Matthew 23:30-36, 38). Isaiah in his “little apocalypse” (Isiah 24-28) posits all of the eschatological events (judgment, de-creation, avenging the sin of blood guilt, the blowing of the trumpet, the resurrection, etc…) to take place together when the temple would be destroyed or “when he makes all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces” (Isaiah 27:9).
So before we even get to Matthew 24, the disciples could have discerned from such prophets as Daniel and Isaiah, that all of the eschatological events would be fulfilled when the temple was destroyed. The record clearly states that the disciples understood Jesus’ teaching on “the end of age” or the end of their “this age.” And lastly, Jesus had already taught them that some of them would live to witness His return and the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, they were NOT mistaken to associate and connect Jesus’ coming (to destroy the Temple [that they were looking at and discussing] in their generation) with His coming and the end of the age. Just because Matthew (as a responsible narrator) or Jesus have elsewhere shown us where the disciples were confused in Matthew’s gospel, does not mean that they were confused here in Matthew 24:3. In fact, when the disciples are confused or wrong about something they ask, Matthew’s gospel clearly teaches us, that this indeed is the case (ex. Matthew 16:6-12, 21-23; 17:4-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-25). Milton Terry was spot on when he wrote of Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in the Olivet discourse and elsewhere in the NT (such as Hebrews 9:26-28): “The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages that speak of ‘the end,’ ‘the end of the age,’ or ‘the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand.” “…the writer regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.” Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 441-442. After all the second appearing or coming of Christ to close the old covenant age is further described as Christ coming “…in a very little while” and “would not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). Therefore, since Matthew 24-25 is about Christ coming in judgment upon old covenant Jerusalem in AD 66 – AD 70 to bring an end to the old covenant age (not the planet earth or to end the Church age), the Dispensational Zionists are the ones confused in Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse and not the disciples. Having established that the discourse is about the end of the old covenant age and not world history or planet earth, we can readily see how all these things would be fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matthew 24:34). “This generation” In Matthew 24:34 Jesus clearly identifies that the “this generation” of the “you” (first century Jews not 21st. century ones) of whom He is addressing would not pass away before “all these things” (the signs, end of the age and His coming) would be fulfilled. The Greek word for “generation” here is genea and is used over 30 times in the N.T. and in each context it is never used as anything other than to address a 40 year generation or in particularly, the first century contemporary generation of Jesus, the disciples or their contemporary enemies. However, some of the Dispensational Zionists and their alleged “scholars” have admitted to this but claim Matthew 24:34 is the exception to the rule and thus they feel they have the liberty to make up their own definitions of the word to fit their theology. Let’s go over a couple of them. The first false view claims that “this generation” is interpreted to mean, “the Jewish race will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” There is simply no solid exegetical or lexical evidence for this use of genea in the NT. If the race of Jews was intended by Jesus or Matthew, they would have used the Greek word genos. The second main error popularized by Hal Lindsey, an alleged “prophecy expert” who, based on current events and not the Bible claimed, “WE are the generation that will see the end times… and return of Christ.” And “unmistakably… this generation is the one that will see the end of the present world and the return of Christ” And then this view was fueled from the pulpit from mega church Pastors such as Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel (one of my former Pastors) movement: “…that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).” In his book Future Survival (1978) Chuck wrote, “From my understanding of biblical prophecies, I’m convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981.” Lindsey began by admitting that a generation “was something like forty years.” Since 40 years have passed, instead of throwing in the towel on his theory, Lindsey now claims a generation could be 60-80 years. If this doesn’t sound new, it’s because it isn’t. The “expanding” of a generation is exactly what the Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses have done with their false predictions concerning “this generation.” John Hagee writes, “There are ten prophetic signs in Scripture that describe the world in the last days. When these ten prophetic signs occur in one generation, that generation will see the end of the age.” And of course according to Hagee, our generation allegedly has seen all ten of these (how convenient). Again, genea in the gospels and especially the phrase “this generation” is never used in directing the reader to a future generation but rather always to the contemporary one of Jesus’ and His first century audience. Had this been the intension of Jesus, He could have simply said, “that generation…” instead of “this generation…” So much for taking “this generation” “literally” and how it is used everywhere else in the Bible! The fact remains that all of the signs Jesus gives here in Matthew 24 were seen and fulfilled before the end of the old-covenant age in AD 70. “False Messiahs” Jesus predicted that false messiahs would come in the generation of the first century disciples and they did: Theudas (Acts 5:36; 13:6), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), and Simon (Acts 8:9-11) to name a few. In the epistles of John, John writes (as that generation was ending) informs the first century church that they knew it was “the last hour” because the Antichrist’s had arrived (1 John 2:17-18). For those who understand the “Antichrist” and “Man of Sin” to be the same person, we should point out that this individual was alive and “already at work” during the time of Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). Contrary to the popular science fiction writings of Dispensational Zionist Hal Lindsay, this individual is not “alive and well on planet earth” in the form of some political leader of Russia, Iran, Iraq, etc. The Jewish historian Josephus writes of a false prophet during the destruction of Jerusalem which deceived the Jews to stay and fight the Romans: “Of so great a multitude, not one escaped. Their destruction was caused by a false prophet, who had on that day proclaimed to those remaining in the city, that “God commanded them to go up to the temple, there to receive the signs of their deliverance.” There were at this time many prophets suborned by the tyrants to delude the people, by bidding them wait for help from God, in order that there might be less desertion, and that those who were above fear and control might be encouraged by hope. Under calamities man readily yields to persuasion but when the deceiver pictures to him deliverance from pressing evils, then the sufferer is wholly influenced by hope. Thus it was that the impostors and pretended messengers of heaven at that time beguiled the wretched people.” (Josephus, Wars, 6.3.6.). “Wars and Rumors of Wars” “In AD 40 there was a disturbance at Mesopotamia which (Josephus says) caused the deaths of more than 50,000 people. In AD 49, a tumult at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover resulted in 10,000 to 20,000 deaths. At Caesarea, contentions between Jewish people and other inhabitants resulted in over 20,000 Jews being killed. As Jews moved elsewhere, over 20,000 were destroyed by Syrians. At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed. Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time.” (John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, p. 28) “The Annals of Tacitus, covering the period from AD 14 to the death of Nero in AD 68, describes the tumult of the period with phrases such as “disturbances in Germany”, “commotions in Africa”, commotions in Thrace”, “insurrections in Gaul”, “intrigues among the Parthians”, “the war in Britain”, and “the war in Armenia”. Wars were fought from one end of the empire to the other. With this description we can see further fulfillment: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7)[iii] When Jesus was addressing wars and rumors of wars, He was not referring to what is going on in modern day Russia, China, Israel, Iraq, United States, or Europe today. To reach into Matthew 24 and back into the OT and twist these passages and prophecies by asserting that they are referring to these modern day countries and to us today is irresponsible exegesis to say the least. “Famines” Again, the Bible and history record famine and pestilences during “the last days” (AD 30 – AD 70) of the Mosaic old-covenant age and generation (Acts 11:27-29). In AD 40 and AD 60 there were pestilences in Babylon and Rome where Jews and Gentiles alike suffered. “Earthquakes” The book of Acts records for us an earthquake occurring in the Apostolic generation (Acts 16:26). “…just previous to 70 AD there were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea.” (DeMar, Gary, ibid., 64) “Put to Death” The first century Christians were to expect tribulation, to be brought before kings and rulers, imprisonment, beatings, for the sake of Jesus. Please read the book of Acts 4:3,17; Acts 5:40; Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 14:19 to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:12. In fulfillment of our Lord’s words, Paul and Silas were beaten (Acts 26:23) and Paul was brought before rulers and kings – Gallio, (Acts 28:12), Felix (Acts 24), Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25). Peter and Paul were put to death in the persecution of Nero. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) The reader at this point says, “I got you. How are you going to be able to prove the gospel was preached throughout the entire globe before A.D. 70?!?” Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, this is not difficult to prove at all:
|“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)||“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)|
|“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)”(Mark 13:10)||“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)|
|“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)||“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).|
|And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) ” (Mark 16:15)||“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)|
|“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).||“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18)|
Jesus nor the Apostle Paul meant nor understood these phrases of “into all the world,” “all nations,” “every creature,” or “end of the earth,” to be global terms. These are describing the nations of the Roman Empire or the world as they knew it. “Abomination that causes desolation” In Luke’s account of the abomination that causes desolation, the fulfillment of this prophecy is identified with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem and laying it waste in the years of AD 66 – AD 70, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Luke 21:20-22). History records for us that the early Christians were not deceived by the Jewish false prophets and fled to Pella and were safe. “Great Tribulation” Any Bible College or seminary class on hermeneutics would tell us that we need to follow a grammatical historical hermeneutic. One of the steps involved in interpreting how language and terms are used is to honor the way language is used during the time it was written in. Josephus who was a close contemporary of Jesus’ time describes the destruction of Jerusalem in practically the identical language: “Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world;”[vi] The words “For then shall be great tribulation…” are words linking the tribulation period with the preceding fleeing of the disciples from Jerusalem in the previous context (vs.17-20, cf. also Lk.21:20-23). The great “wrath” and “distress” upon “this people” in the “land” in (Lk. 21:23) is parallel to Matthew’s tribulation period described for us in Matthew 24:21. The Tribulation period is not a global event as the Dispensational Zionists have tried to portray it, but a local event that took place in Jesus’ contemporary AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation.” “The stars shall fall from heaven” and “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” God’s coming on the clouds and stars falling from heaven, as used elsewhere in the Bible, are metaphors referring to the judgment of nations, not the destruction of the physical planet. This can be seen in such O.T. passages referring to the fall of Babylon, Egypt, Edom, and Israel (Isa. 13:9-10; 19:1; 34:4-5; Ezk. 32:7-8; Amos 5:21-22; Psalm 18; Psalm 104; Hab. 1:2ff.). Did God come on a literal cloud when he judged Egypt by means of the Assyrian’s in 670 B.C.: “Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isa. 19:1)? Was the literal heaven “dissolved” and rolled back like a scroll and did literal stars fall down from heaven when National Idumea (or Edom) was judged by God in the OT: “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment” (Isa. 34:4-5)? In Matthew 24, the context is the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. The sun, moon, and stars represented the universe of Israel and her rulers which would fall from her covenantal significance by A.D. 70 for rejecting Christ and His Apostles and prophets (cf. Matthew 23:31-36). Reformed and Puritan theologian John Owen had this to say of this text, “And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. And our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’, the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood” (John Owen, Works, Banner of Truth Pub., Vol. 9, 134). John L. Bray correctly writes of the stars falling from the heavens of Matthew 24:29: “Jewish writers understood the light to mean the law; the moon, the Sanhedrin; and the stars, the Rabbis.” (John Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, p.125). “Heaven and earth will pass away” So far we have found contextual and grammatical reasons to interpret the “end of the age” as the old covenant age in vs. 3, the stars falling from the heavens in vs. 29 to be the religious and civil rulers falling from the places of power when Jerusalem and her Temple was destroyed in AD 70, but what of verse 35 which addresses the “heaven and earth” passing away? Surely that is referring to the end of planet earth? Once again there is contextual and a historical hermeneutic within the Christian church to also understand this to be referring to the old covenant heavens and earth and it’s temple. G.K. Beale’s research indicates, “…that ‘heaven and earth’ in the Old Testament may sometimes be a way of referring to Jerusalem or its temple, for which ‘Jerusalem’ is a metonymy.” (G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 25). J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70. Reformed theologian John Brown in identifying the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 writes: “But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and new heavens.” (John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 ), 1:170). Commentators are correct to identify the “heaven and earth” of (Matthew 5:18) as the “heaven and earth” of (Matthew 24:35), but the context of both point us to the old covenant system and not the planet earth. According to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:17-18 if heaven and earth have not passed away, then we are currently under all of the “jots and tittles” of the old covenant law. And now specifically of the passing of heaven and earth here in our text, Evangelical Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis makes the following comments on Mark 13:31/Matthew 24:35: “The temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality.” And “. . . [T]he principal reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm. Mark 13[:31] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. (Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis a contributing author in, ESCHATOLOGY in Bible & Theology Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 157). Jesus nor the NT writers ever predicted the end of the planet earth as is simply assumed by so many here in Matthew 24:3, 29, 35 and elsewhere in the NT. When we take a combined look at some of the best theologians within the Reformed and Evangelical communities, we find a preterist interpretation of virtually every eschatological de-creation prophecy in the Bible. Combined, John Owen, John Locke, John Lightfoot, John Brown, R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Keith Mathison, Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis, Hank Hanegraaff, and N.T. Wright teach that the passing away of heaven and earth (Matt. 5:17–18; 24:3, 29, 35; 1 Cor. 7:31; II Peter 3; I Jn. 2:17–18; Rev. 21:1) refers to the destruction of the temple or to the civil and religious worlds of men—either Jews or Gentiles; and that the rulers of the old covenant system or world, along with the temple, were the “sun, moon, and stars,” which made up the “heaven and earth” of the world that perished in AD 70. (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134–135. John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, 4 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, , 1989), 3:452, 454. John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,  1990), 1:170. John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume 2, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 617–618. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998). Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 363–365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs: GA, 1999), 68–74, 141–154, 191–192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1998), 269–279. Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology in Bible & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145–169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114, 157–158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 345–346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 84–86. C. Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2002). These interpretations are, individually considered, “orthodox.” Yet when full preterists consolidate the most defensible elements of Reformed and Evangelical eschatology, anti-preterists unite in opposition to even some of their own stated views. The full preterist combines the two competing “orthodox” views on the coming of the Lord and de-creation of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 to form a consistently exegetical and historical position: 1. CLASSIC AMILLENNIAL VIEW: The coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24-25 is the ONE second coming event as is the de-creation spoken of here. 2. PARTIAL PRETERIST VIEW: The coming of the Son of Man happened spiritually and the end of age, de-creation of verses 3, 29 and 35 are descriptive of the passing of the old covenant creation/age and establishing the new by AD 70. 3. FULL PRETERIST VIEW (Synthesis of 1-2 “Reformed and always reforming”): The coming of the Son of Man is the ONE second coming event (as is the de-creation spoken of in verses 3, 29, 35) whereby Christ came spiritually to the old covenant creation/age in the events of AD 66 – AD 70 and establish the new. Conclusion on Zionist “Signs” Theology: We have examined the Dispensational Zionist claims that our generation is the “terminal generation” experiencing the “last days” signs, and therefore expecting an imminent return of Jesus and have found that sound exegesis of these signs and end of the world type language points us to a first century AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” fulfillment. The Dispensational Zionist interpretation of Matthew 24-25 is using a sensationalistic newspaper approach and not a grammatical historical hermeneutic. We now turn our attention to the Dispensational Zionist “in the (Holy) Land” Theology. Dispensational Zionist “In the (Holy) Land” Theology Dispensationalism argues that Israel under the Abrahamic covenant has not yet inherited all of the land promised by God, in spite of God clearly saying otherwise (Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:20-21; Joshua 11:23; 21:41-45; Nehemiah 9:21-25). The objection from Dispensationalists is that Israel has not inherited the land “forever.” Sometimes in Scripture “forever” means forever and other times it simply means a long time. Under the old-covenant God’s promises made to Israel concerning the land had not failed to come to pass. In type and shadow form, through the 40 year reigns of David and in particularly Solomon, Israel received peace “in the land” as promised by God. All the blessings under the old-covenant were realized “in the land.” However, in the N.T. we discover that the anti-type of the Abrahamic promise is found in the gradual 40 year “this generation” pre-parousia reign of Jesus’ and the reception of a “heavenly country” that was “about to come” in the first century (Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14YLT). The N.T. emphasis is not “in the land” but rather in a person – “in Christ” through faith. For “in Christ” are all the promises of God realized (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). The life within the seed and core of the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in the “seed” of Jesus Christ and all those who believe in Him (Jew or Gentile) and become the true new covenant Jew or Jerusalem of God (Galatians 3:6-29; 4:21-31; Romans 2:28-29). Dispensational Zionism teaches that the millennium temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy is a literal temple with animal sacrifices to be performed while Jesus is literally reigning in Jerusalem for a literal thousand years. However, according to the Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians along with the writer to Hebrews, Christ’s sacrifice is a once and for all atonement which perfects God’s people and the animal sacrifices pointed in type and shadow form to Christ’s sacrifice! Again, the Apostle Paul quotes Ezekiel’s millennial temple prophecy and clearly says that it is the Church that fulfills Ezekiel 37:27/2Corinthians 6:16 (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus says that “according to the Scriptures” (cf. ex: Ezekiel 47), from out of a Christian’s heart will come “living waters” (cf. John 7:37-39). Christians are the New Jerusalem, New Creation and Bride which came down from heaven when the old-covenant Jerusalem/Adulterous Bride was destroyed “shortly” and “soon” in Revelation 17-22:6-7, 10-12, 20. This heavenly City that comes down from heaven is NOT a “literal” city! The purpose of the establishment and maturity of the New Jerusalem (the Church) in A.D. 70 is that the Church is now prepared to bring the Nations of the world “healing” through the gospel. The reason there is evangelism and “sinners” being born and converted in the New Creation is because it is a description of what is taking place in the New- Covenant age today – Ezekiel 47; Isaiah 65-66/2 Corinthians 5:17; John 8:38; Revelation 22:1-17. Imposing a sensationalist “literal hermeneutic” within the genre of a vision and apocalyptic literature, is a disaster of great proportions for the Church and one that does have political ripples and consequences in how we as a country founded upon Biblical principles understand our foreign policy! In this section I want to analyze the various “proof texts” that Dispensationalists use to support that 1948 was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. I will focus mainly on the writings of John Hagee and Thomas Ice. We also examine the empty claims of Dispensationalists that OT prophetic material made to Israel cannot be applied or fulfilled in the Church age. Now days most Dispensationalists are either abandoning the system or going further into it by embracing the “Christian Zionist Movement.” This movement seeks to try and persuade Jews from around the world to move back to Israel in order to usher in the Great Tribulation period and hasten the pre-tribulation “rapture” of the Church. Newspaper prophetic sensation John Hagee has built a foreign policy advocacy organization called Christians United for Israel (CUFI) around this false doctrine and false interpretation of Scripture. He is pushing for a pre-emptive war with Iran to quicken the “rapture.” In 2006 while lobbying in Washington Hagee was clear in his agenda, “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West,” he said. This was supposed to be a step in the right direction as allegedly mapped out in the Bible, “a biblically prophesied End Time confrontation…which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation…and the Second Coming of Christ.” Hagee not only uses guilt manipulation techniques on the members of his church and T.V. audiences to tithe to his “ministries” through his false “prosperity gospel,” but also uses guilt manipulation to push his false Dispensational Zionism doctrine. Hagee clearly insists that if you are not on board with him and his alleged Holy Spirit led agenda of believing 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy, and that God has a literal real estate “forever” in the literal city of Jerusalem today, any other view for a Christian to embrace “sin.” It is sad that this false doctrinal system/gospel of Hagee’s is tolerated among Evangelicals and it is more scary when he is allowed to lecture and manipulate our politicians and give them “altar calls” while pushing this agenda as part of his “gospel” of redemption etc… In Deuteronomy 4:25-31; 28 – 29; and Leviticus 26, God lays forth His covenant with Israel of blessings and cursings. If Israel obeyed God they would be blessed in the land and if they disobeyed, they would be “scattered” among the Nations. The condition for their re-gathering back into the land was repentance and faith. Even though this is clearly laid out in the texts above, Dispensational Premillennialists such as Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, and Arnold Fruchtenbaum assert (in order to defend their system that 1948 was a prophetic gathering), that Scripture actually addresses two re-gatherings of Israel in the land: 1) in un-belief, and 2) another re-gathering in belief. Thomas Ice quoting his favorite dispensationalist theologian states, “The re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 has not only thrown a wrench in amillennial thinking, but it has also thrown a chink in much of the premillennial thinking. Amazingly, some premillennialists have concluded that the present state of Israel has nothing to do with the fulfillment of prophecy. For some reason the present state somehow does not fit their scheme of things, and so the present state becomes merely an accident of history. On what grounds is the present state of Israel so dismissed? The issue that bothers so many premillennialists is the fact that not only have the Jews returned in unbelief with regard to Jesus, but the majority of the ones who have returned are not even Orthodox Jews. In fact the majority are atheists or agnostics. Certainly, then, Israel does not fit in with all those passages dealing with the return. For it is a regenerated nation that the Bible speaks of, and the present state of Israel hardly fits that picture. So on these grounds, the present state is dismissed as not being a fulfillment of prophecy. However, the real problem is the failure to see that the prophets spoke of two international returns. First there was to be a regathering in unbelief in preparation for judgment, namely the judgment of the Tribulation. This was to be followed by a second worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessing, namely the blessings of the messianic age. Once it is recognized that the Bible speaks of two such regatherings, it is easy to see how the present state of Israel fits into prophecy.” Ice then seeks to give us some proof texts for this position, “In 1948 when the modern state of Israel was born, it not only became an important stage-setting development but began an actual fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies about an international regathering of the Jews in unbelief before the judgment of the Tribulation. Such a prediction is found in the following Old Testament passages: Ezekiel 20:33-38; 22:17-22; 36:22-24; 38-39; Isaiah 11:11-12; Zephaniah 2:1-2 presupposes such a setting.” (Ice, Ibid.). Scripture simply does not teach a prophetic “re-gathering in unbelief” and that is why other dispensationalists are struggling with this position! Let’s briefly address some of these passages that Dispensationalists use as their “proof texts”: Ezekiel 20:33-38 The context of this passage is dealing with the Babylonian captivity and has nothing to do with Israel being re-gathered back into the land in 1948! The context is that Israel was being unfaithful to God and wanted to be like the heathen nations around them. Therefore, God would take Israel out of her land in the wilderness (symbolic of the Babylonian captivity) and “purge” the wicked there so that the unbelievers would perish as God had purged the unbelieving generation under Moses in the wilderness. So this text actually teaches the opposite of what Dispensationalists say, because it would be the unbelievers who would be purged and die outside the land and not enter it. How is this passage teaching us that unbelievers would be re-gathered in the land of Israel in 1948 “in unbelief” is baffling to say the least! Paul combines and applies both Isaiah 52:11 and Ezekiel 20:34 to the Church age in 2 Corinthians 6:17 which Dispensationalists claim cannot be done in any way. Ezekiel 22:18-22 Again, the context is the “near” (vs.3-4) judgment of Israel by means of the Babylonians in B.C. 586 for their sins of spilling innocent blood and idolatry. The unbelievers are “dross” and would “melt.” This prophecy has nothing to do with God gathering Israel in the land in 1948 as a covenant gathered blessing, and it definitely does not teach a gathering of Israel in unbelief in 1948 either! Ezekiel 36:22-24 The immediate context of this chapter is describing Israel’s sins of idolatry and her sins of blood guilt. For these reasons she was scattered into the Gentile nations and made slaves. As slaves they remained unfaithful to God and were thus a poor witness of Jehovah to the nations in which they were scattered. But God for His own great name sake would cleanse them from their sins and call them back into their land to rebuild the waste places. In type form, this prophecy (and chapter 37) was fulfilled under the restoration of Nehemiah and Ezra when the people came back into the land in repentance and began re-building the waste places of Jerusalem. There is NO contextual evidence whatsoever that there was a “re-gathering” of Israel in “unbelief” let alone any suggestion whatsoever that 1948 is the focus of this prophecy! Ezekiel 37, 40-48 John Hagee writes of this chapter, “MORE THAN 2,600 years ago the prophet Ezekiel prophesied the resurrection of Israel from the Gentile graves in the lands to which she had been scattered, predicting the rebirth of Israel, which took place May 14, 1948.” “I want to make it clear that I do not believe that Ezekiel’s vision has anything to do with the resurrection of the dead saints of the church.” (Ibid.). “The dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision represent the nation of Israel during the Dispora, beginning in A.D. 70 (Ezkek. 37:11). Gradually the bones came together, and the sinews and flesh came upon them.” (ibid. 130-131). And popular Calvary Chapel Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie has sought to get his piece of this sensationalistic money making pie as well, “On more than one occasion in Scripture, Israel is compared to a fig tree (see Judg. 9:11; Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:7-8). I believe that Mark 13:28-29, along with many other Scripture passages, such as Ezekiel 37-39, speak of the rebirth of Israel—the regathering of God’s people. When the nation of Israel comes back into the existence, Jesus was stating prophetically, it is a supersign that His coming is near.” Of course some Dispensationalists disagree with Lindsey, LaHaye, Smith, Laurie, Courson, Ice, etc., that Ezekiel 37 has anything to do with 1948, “The Israelites residing in Palestine today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy.” Everyone agrees that the resurrection depicted in Ezekiel 37 is a “national” resurrection. In other words Israel experienced national and covenantal “death” when she was scattered from her land and experiences a “resurrection” when she is restored back into the land. Again, like chapter 36, this prophecy was partially fulfilled through typology when the two houses of Israel came back into the land under the restoration and leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. However, both chapters contain elements of Messiah’s work of salvation (the anti-type) with the coming Messianic New Covenant. Ezekiel 37:22-28 discusses the coming New Covenant King/Shepherd who would cause: 1) His people to possess the land, 2) establish an everlasting covenant of peace with them, 3) multiply them, and 4) “sanctify” them by establishing His “sanctuary” and “tabernacle” in their midst forever. Oddly in seeking to idolatrize the Dispensational Zionist system, this group actually believes that promises made to OT Israel (such as these NC promises) cannot be fulfilled in and through the NT Church. These are amazing claims and anyone reading the NT can know without a shadow of doubt that they are false. Let’s examine them. Keith Mathison provides a helpful list of quotes from some of Dispensationalism’s leading theologians on this point: Lewis Sperry Chafer. “That the Christian now inherits the distinctive Jewish promises is not taught in Scripture.” J. Dwight Pentecost. “…it would be impossible for the church to fulfill God’s promises made to Israel.” Charles C. Ryrie. “The church is not fulfilling in any sense the promises to Israel.” Are these claims really true? OLD TESTAMENT TITLES AND ATTRIBUTES OF ISRAEL WHICH ARE, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, REFERRED TO THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (This section is taken from The Church Is Israel Now, By Charles D. Provan – special thanks to Michael Bennett for sharing this): THE BELOVED OF GOD A) Israel Is Beloved Of God: – Ex. 15:13, Deut. 33:3, Ezra 3:11 B) Disobedient Israel Is Not Beloved Of God: – Lev. 3:16, Jer. 12:8, Jer. 16:5, Hos. 9:15 C) Christians Are Beloved Of God: – Rom. 9:25, Eph. 5:1, Col. 3:12, 1 John 3:1 THE CHILDREN OF GOD A) Israel Are The Children Of God: – Ex. 4:22, Deut. 14:1, Isa. 1:2,4, Isa. 1:2,4, Isa. 63:8, Hos. 11:1 B) Disobedient Israel Are Not The Children Of God: – Deut. 32:5, John 8:39, 42, 44 C) Christians Are The Children Of God: – John 1:12, John 11:52, Rom. 8:14,16, 2 Cor. 6:18, Gal. 3:26, Gal. 4:5,6,7, Phil. 2:15, 1 John 3:1 THE FIELD OF GOD A) Israel Is The Field Of God: – Jer. 12:10 B) Christians Are The Field Of God: – 1 Cor. 3:9 THE FLOCK OF GOD AND OF THE MESSIAH A) Israel Is The Flock Of God And Of The Messiah: – Psa. 78:52, Psa. 80:1, Isa. 40:11, Jer. 23:1,2,3, Jer. 31:10, Eze. 34:12,15,16, Mic. 5:4, Zec. 10:3 B) Christians Are The Flock Of God And Of The Messiah: – John 10:14,16, Heb. 13:20, 1 Pet. 2:25, 1 Pet. 5:2,3 THE HOUSE OF GOD A) Israel Is The House Of God: – Num. 12:7 B) Christians Are The House Of God: – 1 Tim. 3:15, Heb. 3:2,5,6, Heb. 10:21, 1 Pet. 4:17 THE KINGDOM OF GOD A) Israel Is The Kingdom Of God: – Ex. 19:6, 1 Chr. 17:14, 1 Chr. 28:5 B) Disobedient Israel Is Not The Kingdom Of God: – Matt. 8:11,12, Matt. 21:43 C) Christians Are The Kingdom Of God: – Rom. 14:17, 1 Cor. 4:20, Col. 1:13, Col. 4:11, Rev. 1:6 THE PEOPLE OF GOD A) The Israelites Are The People Of God: – Ex. 6:7, Deut. 27:9, 2 Sam. 7:23, Jer. 11:4 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The People Of God: – Hos. 1:9, Jer. 5:10 C) The Christians Are The People Of God: – Rom. 9:25, 2 Cor. 6:16, Eph. 4:12, Eph. 5:3, 2 Th. 1:10, Tit. 2:14 THE PRIESTS OF GOD A) The Israelites Are The Priests Of God: – Ex. 19:6 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Priests Of God: – 1 Sam. 2:28,30, Lam. 4:13,16, Eze. 44:10,13, Hos. 4:6, Mal. 2:2,4,8,9 C) The Christians Are The Priests Of God: – 1 Pet. 2:5,9, Rev. 1:6, Rev. 5:10 THE VINEYARD OF GOD A) Israel Is The Vineyard Of God: – Isa. 5:3,4,5,7, Jer. 12:10 B) Christians Are The Vineyard Of God: – Luke 20:16 THE WIFE (OR BRIDE) OF GOD A) Israel Is The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: – Isa. 54:5,6, Jer. 2:2, Eze. 16:32, Hos. 1:2 B) Disobedient Israelites Is Not The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: – Jer. 3:8, Hos. 2:2 C) The Christians Are The Wife (Or Bride) Of God: – 2 Cor. 11:2, Eph. 5:31,32 THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM A) The Israelites Are The Children Of Abraham: – 2 Chr. 20:7, Psa. 105:6, Isa. 41:8 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Children Of Abraham: – John 8:39, Rom. 9:6,7, Gal. 4:25,30 C) The Christians Are The Children Of Abraham: – Rom. 4:11,16, Gal. 3:7,29, Gal. 4:23,28,31 THE CHOSEN PEOPLE A) The Israelites Are The Chosen People: – Deut. 7:7, Deut. 10:15, Deut. 14:2, Isa. 43:20,21 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Chosen People: – Deut. 31:17, 2 Ki. 17:20, 2 Chr. 25:7, Psa. 78:59, Jer. 6:30, Jer. 7:29, Jer. 14:10 C) The Christians Are The Chosen People: – Col. 3:12, 1 Pet. 2:9 THE CIRCUMCISED A) The Israelites Are The Circumcised: – Gen. 17:10, Jud. 15:18 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not The Circumcised: – Jer. 9:25,26, Rom. 2:25,28, Phil. 3:2 C) The Christians Are The Circumcised: – Rom. 2:29, Phil. 3:3, Col. 2:11 ISRAEL A) Israel is Israel B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not Israelites: – Num. 15:30,31, Deut. 18:19, Acts 3:23, Rom. 9:6 C) The Christians Are Israel: – John 11:50,51,52, 1 Cor. 10:1, Gal. 6:15,16, Eph. 2:12,19 JERUSALEM A) Jerusalem Is the City And Mother Of Israel: – Psa. 149:2, Isa. 12:6, Isa. 49:18,20,22, Isa. 51:18, Lam. 4:2 B) Jerusalem Is The City And Mother Of Christians: – Gal. 4:26, Heb. 12:22 THE JEWS A) Israelites Are Jews – Ezr. 5:1, Jer. 34:8,9, Zech. 8:22,23 B) Disobedient Israelites Are Not Jews: – Rom. 2:28, Rev. 2:9, Rev. 3:9 C) The Christians Are Jews: – Rom. 2:29 THE NEW COVENANT A) The New Covenant Is With Israel: – Jer. 31:31,33 B) The New Covenant Is With The Christians: – Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6,8,10 AN OLIVE TREE A) Israel Is An Olive Tree: – Jer. 11:16, Hos. 14:6 B) The Christians Are An Olive Tree: – Rom. 11:24 OLD TESTAMENT VERSES REFERRING TO ISRAEL WHICH ARE QUOTED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AS REFERRING TO THE CHRISTIANS QUOTE #1 – Lev. 26:11,12, Eze. 37:27, 2 Cor. 6:16 QUOTE #2 – Deut. 30:12-14, Rom. 10:6-8 QUOTE #3 – Deut. 31:6, Heb. 13:5 QUOTE #4 – Deut. 32:36, Psa. 135:14, Heb. 10:30 QUOTE #5 – Psa. 22:22, Heb. 2:12 QUOTE #6 – Psa. 44:22, Rom. 8:36 QUOTE #7 – Psa. 95:7-11, Heb. 3:7-11 QUOTE #8 – Psa. 130:8, Tit. 2:14 QUOTE #9 – Isa. 28:16, Rom. 10:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:6 QUOTE #10 – Isa. 49:8, 2 Cor. 6:2 QUOTE #11 – Isa. 52:7, Rom. 10:15 QUOTE #12 – Isa. 54:1, Gal. 4:27 QUOTE #13 – Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:8-12 QUOTE #14 – Hos. 1:10; 2:23, Rom. 9:25-26, 1 Pet. 2:10 QUOTE #15 – Hos. 13:14, 1 Cor. 15:55 QUOTE #16 – Joel. 2:32, Rom. 10:13 Dispensationalists believe that OT prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel in such passages as Isaiah 11, 35, 43, 44, 61; Ezekiel 11, 28, 34, 37; Jeremiah 16, 18, were made exclusively to Israel and therefore cannot be fulfilled in and through the Church “in any sense.” Dispensational Zionist John Hagee believes these passages motivate the Church to get Jews around the world to re-inhabit Israel today in order to hasten the “rapture” of the Church and usher in the last days World War III event. However, the context of these passages and how they are understood by the NT authors, make it clear that these “gathering in the land” promises were fulfilled 70 years after the Babylonian captivity under the restoration ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah (in type or partial fulfillment form), which pointed to them being ultimately fulfilled in Christ and through the Church (2 Corinthians 1:20). The New Covenant promises Since the gathering back into the land and New Covenant prophecies of Jeremiah 30-31parallel much of the same historical re-gathering and New Covenant material found in Ezekiel 37, we should probably examine the blatantly unbiblical comments of dispensationalists who claim that the New Covenant promises made to Israel are not being fulfilled in the Church. Dwight Pentecost writes, “the Church cannot be presently fulfilling the New Covenant.” John Walvoord agrees, saying that “the New Covenant is with Israel and awaits the second coming of Christ for its fulfillment.” (Mathison, Ibid. 28) Pentecost concedes that if the Church has been redeemed with the blood of Christ under the New Covenant, then the other covenants must also be applied to the Church and that would mean that the Bible does not teach an earthly millennium, “The whole covenant takes on importance, in addition, for amillennialism attempts to show that the church is fulfilling Israel’s covenants because the church today is redeemed by the blood. If the church fulfills this covenant, she may also fulfill the other covenants made with Israel and there is no need for an earthly millennium.” Charles Ryrie claims that the Bible condemns Dispensatinalism if the New Covenant is being fulfilled by the Church, “If the church is fulfilling Israel’s promises as contained in the new covenant or anywhere in the Scriptures, then [dispensational] premillennialism is condemned.” These are obviously startling statements to say the very least. How can any Christian claim that he or she has not been redeemed by the blood of Christ’s blood under the New Covenant when the Scriptures are so clear that we are? The answer is that these men have become so engrossed in defending their eschatological system, that this has forced them into rejecting foundational elements to the gospel and indeed the Christian faith. One King Jesus began fulfilling the Davidic Covenant or “One King” prophecies of (Ezek. 37:22; Jer. 30:9) at His ascension (Heb. 1-2). Every element that is required for a King to reign is given to Christ through the Church. He was seated on a throne and rules through a City and Nation—that is the Church (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 12; Gals. 4). The sending of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Davidic and New Covenant is the focus of attention in (37:24ff.). One Shepherd with one flock Jesus would be Israel’s “one shepherd” who’s sheep would walk in His judgments and observe His teachings and do them (Ezk. 37:24). This prophecy is clearly fulfilled in the words of Jesus in John 10 and 17. Obviously OT promises made to Israel are being applied to the Church–the New Covenant fold of God! In the striking and sacrifice of the True Shepherd, the everlasting New Covenant (v. 25) seals the sheep’s/Churches salvation (Mark 14:27; Mt. 26:28; Heb. 8, 12:24, 13:20). A New Covenant Temple, Peace and Sacrifices The New Covenant of peace and temple motif began with Christ sending the Holy Spirit within His people. It would be competed and matured when He returned in AD 70 for them. At this time God placed His glory and everlasting peace “within” the Church who is the ultimate New Covenant fulfillment of the Temple promises (Hag. 2:9/Jn. 14). Christ and the Church are the fulfillment of Israel’s New Covenant Tabernacle/Sanctuary/Temple promises with Christ being the chief corner stone (Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 118:22-23/“the builders rejected”/Acts 4 “YOU rejected”/Mt. 21:33-45/1Pet. 2:4 -10; Ezk. 37:27/2 Cor. 6:16; Ephs. 2:19-20; Amos 9:11-12/Acts 15:7-19). God’s New Covenant/Temple/Kingdom plans for Israel were not postponed because of Jesus’ rejection and sacrifice (per Dispensationalism), but rather this rejection of the nation and belief of the remnant and the Gentiles established and began fulfilling God’s Kingdom promises made to Israel with Christ’s return in AD 70 bringing them to full maturity. While here in Ezekiel 37 and on the temple motif alone, we see Paul quoting Ezekiel 37:27 in 2 Corinthians 6:16 and applying this prophecy to the Church! But Dispensationalists seem oblivious to the hermeneutics of Paul and remain adamant that this is somehow a prophetic description of a “literal” rebuilt temple in the millennial age, “These promises anticipate the detailed plans for God’s new sanctuary (chaps. 40-43). This literal structure will serve as a visual object lesson to Israel and the nations of God’s presence in the midst of His people.” (Walvoord & Zuck, Ibid., 1299). BUT Paul claims that the Church is the fulfillment of these temple/millennial promises and says nothing about a literal “rebuilt” temple in order to fulfill Israel’s millennial promises thousands of years off in the future! One of the most disturbing elements within Dispensationalism’s “literal hermeneutic,” is that within this literal rebuilt temple, animal sacrifices will be re-instituted. Some Dispensationalists such as Scofield gave the farm away by claiming that it is possible that the sacrifices in Ezekiel’s temple prophecy are not to be interpreted literally, “The references to sacrifices is not to be taken literally, in view of the putting away of such offerings, but is rather to be regarded as a presentation of the worship of redeemed Israel, in her own land and in the millennial temple, using the terms with which the Jews were familiar in Ezekiel’s day” But obviously it only stands to reason, that if the sacrifices are not to be interpreted literally, then neither should the altar or the entire temple structure itself (in which theses sacrifices are offered) to be interpreted literally! Unfortunately, most Dispensationalists seek to defend that these are literal animal sacrifices taking place after Christ has returned to Jerusalem and sits on his literal throne, “However no difficulty exists if one understands the proper function of these sacrifices. First, animal sacrifices never took away human sin; only the sacrifice of Christ can do that (Heb. 10:1-4, 10). In Old Testament times Israelites were saved by grace through faith, and the sacrifices helped restore a believer’s fellowship with God. Second, even after the church began, Jewish believers did not hesitate to take part in the temple worship (Acts 2:46; 3:1; 5:42) and even to offer sacrifices (Acts 21:26). They could do this because they viewed the sacrifices as memorials of Christ’s death.” (Walvoord & Zuck, Ibid., 1305). First of all, the writer of this statement (Charles H. Dyer) fails to acknowledge that the writer to the Hebrews applies the sacrifice of Christ’s blood of the New Covenant to the Church thus “condemning” (Ryrie’s term) Dispensationalism altogether (Heb. 7-10, 12). Secondly, I appreciate the admission by Mr. Dyer, that Jewish Christians were obeying the Old Covenant Mosaic Law, because this is what Jesus clearly taught they should do in Matthew 5:17-19 before He fulfilled it all. Here Jesus instructs that ALL the jots and tittles of the Mosaic Old Covenant Law are to be obeyed UNTIL: 1) heaven and earth passes away, which is equivalent to the time period of when 2) all the Law would be fulfilled. Dispensationalist Thomas Ice seems oblivious to what this text says and actually cites it to claim that the Mosaic Law was fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, “The Mosaic Covenant…” “…was fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus Christ during His first advent (Matthew 5:17). (Ice, Charting the End Times, Ibid., 79). But clearly the Old Covenant Law was not all fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, but was binding and should be obeyed until heaven and earth passes away or it is all fulfilled. But since the futurist interprets “heaven and earth” here as the planet having not yet vanished, this necessitates that the Church today should be obeying all of the Mosaic Law—including the animal sacrifices. However, the truth is that the Christian Jews did participate in temple worship and animal sacrifices during a particularly unique period (“this generation” roughly AD 30-70) in which the Old Covenant was still being fulfilled by Jesus and the New was reaching its full maturity. According to the writer to the Hebrews, the Old Covenant Law was still in the process of “aging” and would “soon vanish” at Christ’s “in a very little while” return in which the “about to” reception of the New Jerusalem/Creation would take place (Heb. 8:13-10:37-13:14YLT). This all took place “soon” when the Old Covenant Mosaic Temple was destroyed at Christ’s return in AD 70. Dispensationalists (and most futurists) concede that “soon” in (Hebrews 8:13) is a literal time statement that most likely applies to AD 70, “…the author’s words suggest that he recalled the prophecy of Jesus that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed (Matt. 24:1-2). Probably this prophecy was fulfilled soon after Hebrews was written. If so, it was a dramatic confirmation of the writer’s thesis about the Old Covenant.” But unfortunately once in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, the abomination and desolation of this same first century temple Jesus and the disciples are looking at and discussing, becomes an alleged rebuilt one thousands of years removed from them. How you might ask? Apparently all it takes is a wave from the eisegetical wand of Dispensational theology. And although the literally “soon” vanishing of the Old Covenant in (Hebrews 8:13) applies to the temple being destroyed in AD 70, Christ’s coming in a “very little while” in which He would “not delay” in (Hebrews 10:37) is spiritualized away by these “literalists” and finds no contextual harmony with their literal interpretation of “soon” in (Hebrews 8:13)! Once the Mosaic Law was all fulfilled and it “soon vanished” at Christ’s imminent return in AD 70, there is no Scriptural support for the statement that “The Old Covenant Is Not Dead.” (Hagee, In Defense, Ibid., 158). God indeed has kept His vows and has not altered His covenant promises, sending Jesus in a literally “some standing here,” “this generation,” “soon,” “in a very little while” time period in order to fulfill all of Israel’s promises by AD 70. For Dispensationalism to claim otherwise and return to the prophecies contained in the prophets and Old Covenant Law for support of another re-built temple with animal sacrifices, is a complete reversal of what the book of Hebrews teaches. The writer instructs us that redemption moves from physical Old Covenant types and shadows to their spiritual New Covenant substances and “true” fulfillments in Christ and through the Church. The writer says nothing about all of the Old Covenant Law being fulfilled in Christ’s earthly ministry, and neither does he teach that it is “not dead” and will somehow come back to life again thousands of years off in the future with another re-built temple for Israel! These concepts are literally READ INTO THE PAGES OF THE NT with millions of Evangelical Christians asleep and refusing to be Bereans and hold these men accountable! Dispensationalists claim that other OT passages such as Isaiah 66:20-23 teach the literal temple and sacrifice motif to take place in our future. And yet Paul references this passage in Romans 15:16 to demonstrate that he was a priest (in the temple predicted by Isaiah) offering up as a sacrifice the Gentiles (not literal animals). The prophecies in Isaiah that Dispensationalists reference as “proof texts” concerning the Jews and Gentiles coming to the “last days” Holy Mountain/Mount Zion/Temple, Jesus and the NT authors identify as being spiritual and fulfilled in the Church (John 4; Hebrews 12; Ephesians 2; 1 Peter 2).
Gog and Magog / Armageddon Now Theology
Dispensational Zionist John Hagee is known as “Dr. Armageddon” because many of his critics not only have discerned that he wants Armageddon to take place in his lifetime, but that he is willing to be a very active participate in bringing it about. At a July 19, 2006 CUFI event in Washington D.C., Hagee gives his prophetic scenario for Israel and the U.S.: “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West … a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation … and [the] Second Coming.” Hagee writes, “We are on a countdown to crisis. The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. The war of Ezekiel 38-39 could begin before this book gets published (MJS- don’t worry it won’t and it will get “revised” once again). Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.”[viii] And, “No prophetic scripture is more crystal clear than Ezekiel’s vivid and specific description of the coming massive war in the Middle East that will sweep the world toward Armageddon. Ezekiel’s war as described in chapters 38 and 39 will consist of an Arab coalition of nations led by Russia for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Israel and controlling the city of Jerusalem.”[ix] Of the battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 16, Wal-Mart sensation Tim LaHaye writes of China’s alleged involvement, “…China is already moving in the political direction that will make it possible for her to do what Revelation indicates she will during the Tribulation: march over the Euphrates River to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. Such an action would have been considered impossible just sixty years ago. Today it is not only feasible, but with her Communist-inspired obsession to take over all of Asia and perhaps even the entire world, it may be feasible. Just another suggestion that “the time is near.”[x] As John writes towards the end of his “this generation” (Matthew 24:34) the prophetic things of Revelation (which include this battle), were to be fulfilled “shortly” (Revelation 1:1) not 2,000+ years away. Sound alike “hermeneutics” Like the other imaginary and embarrassing elements to Dispensational Zionism, is the belief that Russia will invade Israel because Ezkiel 38:2 and 39:1 use the Hebrew words rosh (which sounds like Russia) and Meshech (which sounds like Moscow). The other reasons are that Russia has some ancient cities residing in its domain that were ancient cities recorded in Ezekiel. But none of these other cities “sound like” their modern counterparts like rosh (Russia) and Mesech (Moscow) allegedly do. Obviously this sound alike word game of “hermeneutics” is a “make up the interpretive rules as you go” game that is being plaid fast and loose with God’s Word. Ezekiel 38-39 Past Typological War / Revelation 20:7-9 Time of the End Anti-type War Men like James Jordan, Gary DeMar and David Lowman believe the battle of Gog and Magog was fulfilled during the time of Esther when Haman gathered the nations at that time to come and attack Israel but were defeated by God. In this view such parallels as these can be seen:
- “Ezra and Nehemiah both mention the large amounts of silver and gold that the Jews brought back from exile. These are the same items we are told the approaching armies were attacking to plunder.
- The battle with Haman’s armies takes place after Israel is returned to the land—during Darius’ reign. Ezekiel prophesied until just a few short decades before this time.
- Esther and Ezekiel’s enemies from the north both contain Persia and Ethiopia.
- In a very short battle [in Esther] the Israelites destroy Haman’s army killing nearly 100,000 despite being greatly out-manned.
- In fact, both passages state that the Jews were attacked by all of Persia’s provinces.”
- “DeMar argues well for parallel boundaries between the Persian Empire in Esther’s day and Gog/Magog and her allies in Ezekiel’s vision.
- In Ezekiel’s vision, the Jews were living in unwalled towns. DeMar notes that this was also the case in Esther’s day, which makes sense since they were part of the Persian Empire at that time, an empire known for its benevolence and for taking good care of its subjects.
- The Agag-Gog connection is very intriguing, where Haman (the enemy of Esther) is shown to be an “Agagite” and even a “Gogite” in some manuscripts. That the invaders in Ezekiel’s vision would be buried in the Valley of Hamon-Gog only adds to the intrigue.”
Another credible view which again sees this as a past historical yet symbolic and typological reference being used in Revelation is given by William Hendriksen, “The expression ‘God and Magog’ is borrowed from the book of Ezekiel, where the term undoubtedly indicates that power of the Seleucids especially as it was revealed in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the bitter enemy of the Jews. The centre of his kingdom was located in North Syria. Seleucus established his residence there in the city of Antioch on the Orontes. To the east his territory extended beyond the Tigris. To the north the domain over which the Seleucids ruled included Mesheck and Tubal, districts in Asia Minor. Accordingly, Gog was the prince of Magog, that is, Syria. Therefore the oppression of God’s people by ‘Gog and Magog’, refers, in Ezekiel, to the terrible persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of Syria. The book of Revelation uses this period of affliction and woe as a symbol of the final attack of Satan and his hordes upon the Church.” If this view is correct and the attack of Gog and Magog (Syria under Antiochus Epiphanes) was the last great oppression which Israel endured to close the OT, it stands to reason that John in the book of Revelation would use this in symbolical or type/anti-type fashion to describe the end time battle to close the old covenant age and liberation of the new covenant Israel of God. And it appears that Jesus is using the typological “abomination that causes desolation” and “tribulation” under Antiochus Epiphanes which was severe and brief, to describe the final anti-type fulfillment desolation, wrath, and tribulation that would be unleashed upon the land of the Jews during AD 66 – 70 (Matthew 24:15-34/Luke 21:20-32). In these two views, John is using the symbolism of a past battle of Gog and Magog to depict a future (but “shortly” “at hand” “soon” “about to be”) battle for John’s day. The use of ancient weapons to be burned I find it interesting that John Hagee was appealing to the end time war of Zechariah 14:12, 15 because this allegedly could ONLY be describing modern day nuclear war and the results of radiation etc… But now we see that Ezekiel is describing this same end time war using ancient weapons made out of wood and other materials that can be burned (Ezek. 38:4-5; 39:9). So much for consistency. John’s prophetic use of recapitulation – “The City” / “THE War” (Rev. 11; 16:14; 19:19; 20:7-8) I believe the classic Amillennial view (as presented by Simon Kistemaker) is correct to equate the timing of the judgment scene and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire in 20:10 is the “presumed place” where the great harlot is burned with fire in 17:16. Kistemaker also affirms that this takes place “at the same time” the beast and false prophet are cast into the fiery lake of 19:20. He also sees that there is only one final war or end time judgment in Revelation and it is consistently referred to in John’s use of the Greek phrase “to gather them for the war” in (Rev. 16:14; 19:19; 20:8) (244-245). Strimple in a debate with Gentry over the millennium makes the same point, “In 16:14 kings are called forth to the battle. In 19:19 the beast and the kings of the earth come forth to the battle. In 20:8 Satan leads his host up to the battle. It seems clear that these three texts describe not three battles but one.” And yet Partial Preterists such as Mathison and Gentry understand “the war” of (Rev. 16:14), the burning of the Harlot in (Rev. 17:6) and the judgment of the false prophet and beast being thrown into lake of fire in (Rev. 19:20) as being fulfilled by AD 70. We once again thank our opponents for forming our roughly 40 years millennium view and that Revelation 20:7-8 had to be fulfilled by AD 70. Consider the following:
- If – “THE war” and judgment scenes of Revelation 16 – 20 are depicting ONE end time event (through typical prophetic recapitulation – Simon Kistemaker / Robert Strimple -Classic Amillennialists)…
- AND – “THE war” and judgment scenes of Revelation 16-19 were fulfilled in and by AD 70, (Keith Mathison / Kenneth Gentry – Partial Preterists)
- THEN – “THE war” (which is ONE and the same) and judgment scenes of Revelation 16-20 were fulfilled in and by AD 70 (Michael Sullivan – Full Preterist).
Once again we can readily see how Full Preterism is the organic development of our opponent’s views and effectively “bridges the gap” between them. Let’s go ahead and compare what “the city” or “great city” is that is associated with this end time war throughout the book of Revelation. Revelation 11 “And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.”(Rev. 11:2) Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, we can readily connect Revelation 11:2b with Luke 21:24 (which was fulfilled in AD 70): [A]nd they [“the nations”] will trample under foot the holy city for forty-two months. (Rev. 11:2b) . . . Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the nations until the times of the nations [“forty-two months”] be fulfilled. (Lk. 21:24) In both of these verses, the nations trample Jerusalem for a period of time. There is more than similarity of language here. Jesus and John prophesied the same event —an event that was “near” and that took place in Christ’s “generation” (Lk. 21:32; Rev. 1:3; 22:10). Therefore, “forty-two months” signifies some months or years between AD 66 and 70, the years of the war that ended in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. That was the same period of time that the angel called “a time, times, and half a time” in Daniel 12:7 and which was consummated when the power of the Old Testament “holy people” was shattered in AD 70. Some futurists say that “the great city” (“Babylon”) in that verse was “not the earthly city of Jerusalem,” even though the verse specifically states that “the great city” was “where also their Lord was crucified.” The historical referent is clear enough in that the “great city” is “where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). It is Jerusalem that is guilty of the blood of the old covenant witnesses; she is, par excellence, the killer of prophets (Matt. 21:33–43; 23:34–38). In fact, Jesus said, ‘it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem’ (Luke 13:33).” Compare Revelation 18:24 with Matthew 23:35. It is also argued that “the holy city” in Revelation 11:2 cannot be Old Testament Jerusalem because that city was no longer holy after the veil was ripped in two in about AD 30. In this argument, it is implied that the holy covenant that was established with terrible and blazing fire, an earthquake, darkness, gloom, fear, trembling, whirlwind, and the staggering blast of a trumpet (Heb. 12:18–21) came to a final end in God’s sight with the tearing of the veil (which was later sewn back together). And therefore earthly Jerusalem ceased to be holy at that time. In contrast to this futurist myth, the author of Hebrews taught that the covenant that began with momentous signs was going to end with momentous signs in the near future: And His voice shook the earth then [at Mount Sinai], but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things [the old covenant world], in order that those things which cannot be shaken [the kingdom of Christ] may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:26–29) The old covenant did not vanish when Christ died on the Cross (Heb. 8:13). Therefore Jerusalem was still holy after Christ died because it was still the covenant city of God, even though it was being “shaken” and was being nullified (2 Cor. 3:7, 11–12) through the age-changing power of the Cross. It was still the holy city of God even though it had become “Babylon,” “Sodom,” and “Egypt” because of its sins. To the holy-yet-hardened Jewish nation belonged “the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises” (Rom. 3:2; 9:4). Those blessings were all still intact even after the Jews murdered the Lord and persecuted His church (1 Thess. 2:15). The unbelieving Jewish nation was still in the kingdom of God after the death and resurrection of Christ; but its days were numbered. It was soon to be cast out of the kingdom in the Parousia of Christ in the consummation of the ages (Matt. 8:12; 13:41; Gal. 4:21–31). The tearing of the veil was a sign of the coming judgment upon that generation and its temple and world. The biblical record is clear that the old covenant law remained in force for the Jews, both believing and nonbelieving, even after the Cross, until “heaven and earth” passed away in AD 70 (Heb. 8:13; 2 Cor. 3:7–18; Matt. 5:17–19; Acts 21:20–26; 24:17). Some also give the objection that “the great city” was called “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8), while old covenant Jerusalem/Israel was never described in Scripture as “Egypt” (226–227). But as David Chilton eloquently observed, this is to miss the forest for the trees: Commentators are generally unable to find Bible references comparing Israel (or Jerusalem) to Egypt, but this is the old problem of not being able to see the forest for the trees. For the proof is contained in the whole message of the New Testament. Jesus is constantly regarded as the new Moses (Acts 3:20–23; Heb. 3–4), the new Israel (Matt. 2:15), the new Temple (John 1:14; 2:19–21), and in fact a living recapitulation / transcendence of the entire history of the Exodus (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1–4). What about the two witnesses? There of course has been many different views as to who these two witnesses are: 1) Enoch and Elijah, 2) Moses and Elijah, 3) Jeremiah and Elijah, 4) Joshua and Caleb, 5) Peter and Paul, 6) John the Baptist and Jesus, 7) John and his brother James, 8) Stephen and James of Zebedee and 9) Peter and James and 10) representative of the Jewish and Gentile church. Commentators are divided on if this is referring to two individuals or the two witnesses are symbolic of the churches testimony. I prefer the view that the two witnesses represent the testimony of the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission through the images of Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) and then in 11:4 with the imagery of Zechariah’s two olive trees and a golden lampstand (Zech. 4:2-3) bring to bear the imagery of Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor – to be representative of the Church as a kingdom of Priests and Kings. Chapter 10 just finished issues pertaining to the mystery (Jew / Gentile union) and the Great Commission with there being no more “delay” because the time of fulfillment was “near” during the time John was writing. In 10 we have both the old-covenant prophets and the message of the new-covenant believers through the gospel coming together as a testimony against the old-covenant apostate City for rejecting her message. Just as the 24 elders previously represent the old-covenant 12 tribes and the new-covenant 12 apostles upon which the church is built represents the fulfillment of the message of the mystery of the Church; so we have here in 11 the imagery of the two witnesses coming together bearing testimony against Jerusalem. Jesus said that the Old Testament Scriptures and Moses himself, were sufficient to condemn them (cf. John 5:45). Jesus and Paul taught no other things except that which were written in the law and the prophets (Acts 26:22; 28:23). So it is the Church as the new-covenant Israel of God (of which the old-covenant Law and Prophets bore testimony of), now condemning the old-covenant Jerusalem through the message of the gospel. Fire comes out of their mouths consuming their enemies, because the Word of God is described as “fire” (Jeremiah 23:29). This is also why the sword (also depicting the word or testimony of God) comes forth from Jesus’ mouth and how He conquers (Revelation 19:15/Hebrews 4:12). A literal interpretation of these witnesses in the midst of a self-proclaimed symbolic book is totally misguided to say the least. These two witnesses are being described with hyperbole to represent the church in the first century as the persecuted martyrs of God first described for us in chapter 6. This same group will be consistently depicted throughout the book – even into chapter 20. Probably the best commentary on this section especially in light of the immediate context of chapter 10’s themes of the great commission, the mystery, and the message of the prophets, can be found in Colossians 1:23-29. Here we see the Apostle Paul filling up in his flesh what was still lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of the Church. And Paul and the Church were dying daily to the old-covenant age/law in hopes of further attaining the resurrection (Rms. 5-8; Phil. 3). The Church is now recapitulating the eschatological suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. G.K. Beale notes that the use of “body” and “bodies” still represent the church as a corporate body, “…(the body)” could be a collective singular.” “…But we must ask why singular forms of (“the body”) in vv 8a and 9a are followed by the plural (“the bodies”) in v 9b.” “…The likely reason for the change in number is to connote the corporate nature of the witnesses.” And what of the loud voice calling the two witnesses to “come up here” and their ascent into heaven in verse 12? Is this a proof text for the literal rapture or a defense for a literal biological resurrection of corpses at the end of history? I would agree in connecting the ascent of the two witnesses with God gathering the Church into His kingdom at His parousia/coming in Matthew 24:30-31/Luke 21:27-32/1 Thessalonians 4:16-17/1 Corinthians 15. After all, this is the time of the seventh and final trumpet Revelation 11:15-19 in which 1. The dead are judged, 2. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” and 3. Access into the Most Holy Place presence of God is fully granted. Clearly, this is the same end time trumpet being blown in these passages accomplishing these eschatological goals. The blowing of the trumpet had a lot of salvific and covenantal imagery connected with it. It was the blowing of the trumpet at which God gathered Israel at Mount Sinai. The anti-type being God now consummately gathering the new covenant Israel up to Mount Zion. The trumpet sounded at the Harvest time. The anti-type being this was the time of the consummative harvest and resurrection of Israel to take place at the end of the old covenant age. The trumpet would sound when the groom came for the bride. The anti-type being this was the consummation in which Christ was coming to gather His Bride the New Jerusalem. The trumpet would sound as a battle cry to bring down God’s enemies as the last and seventh trumpet brought down the walls of Jericho. The anti-type here being old covenant Jerusalem is now the enemy of God being destroyed for not heeding the churches message. However this “rapture” of the two witnesses is no more literal than fire coming out of their mouths. I will give a more detailed exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 later demonstrating that a literal interpretation of this passage is also not accurate. The corporate testimony and resurrection of the two witnesses symbolically represent the resurrection and transformation of the new Israel of God – the church from the glory of the old-covenant economy to the new. This was brought about with Christ’s imminent return by AD 70. Revelation 16 “And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” (Rev. 16:4-6). Here we have the old exodus being used as the imagery for the coming judgments upon old covenant Jerusalem in AD 70. Again the city that is guilty of shedding the blood of the saints and prophets would be old covenant Jerusalem to be judged in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation” when her house/temple would be left completely desolate (Matthew 23:30-36, 38). Only old covenant Jerusalem persecuted the OT “prophets” – obviously the Roman Catholic Church didn’t, modern day Iran or Iraq hasn’t, or any of the other imaginative theories that have evolved over the years. It is not just the blood of the OT prophets that this city and Babylon are guilty of shedding, but that of the “Apostles” or NT “prophets” Jesus would send (cf. Rev. 18:20; Matt. 23:34ff.). Since there are no more apostles (nor can be Acts 1:21ff.), and we know that although apostles such as Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Romans, it was the apostate Jews (prior to AD 70) that instigated them to do so (as it was for Christ), we once again see a pre-AD 70 fulfillment of this persecution and judgment in view. The blood of these martyrs would be vindicating in an AD 70 “a very little while” time frame (Rev. 6:10-11). “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (Rev. 16:14-16). Here the nations are gathered for the eschatological end time “THE war/battle.” The Gentile Roman Empire and its vast army consisted of the nations of the world that they had conquered (Asia Minor, Syria, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, Palestine, etc…) so when they surrounded Jerusalem in AD 66, they were surrounded by the Gentile powers/military might of the world at that time (Matthew 24:15-34/Luke 21:20-32). Revelation 16:16 is simply a historic reference and symbol of war that is directed to a place – the mount of Megiddo or the city of Megiddo where famous battles of Israel had been fought (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29) and is thus used as we might use the term “Waterloo” or someone “Meeting your Waterloo.” Again, we have another reference to AD 70 and the Olivet Discourse in that the coming of the Son of Man as a “thief” would occur in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” or in an AD 70 “quickly” time frame in the book of Revelation (Matthew 24-27, 30-34, 43; Rev. 3:3, 11). Revelation 19 “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make [THE] war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” (Rev. 19:19) Chapters 18-19 are contextually tied to the defeat of “Babylon” which 11:8 (and Matthew 23) has identified as the city where Jesus was crucified (ie. old covenant Jerusalem) the persecutor excel lance of the OT prophets and apostles Jesus would send to her. Revelation 19:11-21 is simply another recapitulation of the same end time battle and judgment we have seen previously – except described differently with different imagery etc…. Amazingly the Dispensational “prophecy experts” claim the rider of the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is the “antichrist,” but there is absolutely no exegetical evidence for this. Here in chapter 19 once again the rider of the White horse is described as Jesus Christ. In chapter 6 Christ comes on the white horse (His second coming) conquering – thus vindicating the martyrs “in a very little while” in the “great day of His wrath” pouring out the covenant curses upon the land of Israel which Jesus also identified to take place in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matthew 24/Luke 21[Lev. 26/Deut. 28]/Hebrews 9:26-28/10:37). Revelation 20 Here in Revelation once again God’s enemies (“Gog and Magog” gathering the nations) surround “the camp of God’s people, the city he loves.” (Rev. 20:9). As we saw in Revelation 11 “the holy city” is actually old covenant Jerusalem and since the old covenant had not yet passed, she could still be described as “holy” or here a city He loves – although adulterous and having rejected His Son at the same time. Even if one were to see this as the new covenant Jerusalem it still poses no problem as far as an AD 70 time frame of fulfillment. As we have discussed in Galatians 4 and in Zechariah, there are two Jerusalem’s – or a Jerusalem within a Jerusalem. When the Idumean Zealot and Roman armies surrounded earthly old covenant Jerusalem in the events leading up to AD 66 – AD 70 seeking harm upon the Christian Church (the righteous remnant – new covenant Jerusalem) and those within the city, the Christians fled to Pella and were safe. When one Jerusalem was destroyed is the time in which the other is saved and delivered. We can know that this “time of the end” end of the millennium war was fulfilled by AD 70 because the NT posits the other constitute elements that take place at the end of the millennium to be fulfilled by AD 70 as well. The First Resurrection and the Resurrection of the “Rest of the Dead” Those participating in the “first resurrection” is a subject that has been previously addressed in chapters 7 and 14 – these being the first century Jewish “first fruits” or 144,000 that were the first to believe in Christ and continued enduring through the great tribulation until the end. Therefore, they would partake in the harvest/resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant age. These are those who were coming out of their “graves” through the preaching of the gospel (John 5:24-27) and would soon participate and be joined with the rest of the dead in the consummative resurrection event. Many compare and understand John’s end of the millennium resurrection in Revelation 20 with John’s and Jesus’ “last hour” or “coming hour” harvest and resurrection teaching in John 5 and assume that both are discussing a biological resurrection of corpses at the end of time. Let’s take a closer look. “In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection. The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost. “The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected. They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”). Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol. What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.” As we know from verse 25, that “voice” is the gospel. The physically dead therefore were going to hear the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel, going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades). This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living, spiritually dead. And this inescapably means that both the physically living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God. One resurrection in two main stages: First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5). Note the parallels between John 4:21, 23 and John 5:25, 28:
- . . . [T]he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)
- . . . [T]he hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (Jn. 4:21)
1. . . . [T]he hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (Jn. 5:25) 2. . . . [T]he hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice. . . . (Jn. 5:28) These two sets of prophecies are parallel. They speak of the same timeframes, which were these: Pentecost (AD 30) 1. The true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
- The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
- God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.
2. All who were in the graves would hear His voice. After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic graves (Hades) in the end of the age. And those among them who believed the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God. But those who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” / “the second death” (Matt. 25:46; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).” Jesus is discussing the coming “hour” of tribulation and resurrection as is described in Daniel 12:1-2 (OG) LXX. AD 30
|Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”||John 5:25: “…an hour is coming and now is…”|
|Daniel 12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”||John 5:24: “…he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”|
|Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”||John 5:28: “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,|
|Daniel 12:2: “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”||John 5:29: “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.”1 John 2:18: “Dear children it is the last hour…”Revelation 14:7: “…the hour of His judgment has come.”|
Daniel is told that the resurrection takes place when the time of the tribulation will be fulfilled (ie. when “all these things” would be fulfilled) or when Jerusalem is destroyed – “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (Dan. 12:7). Jesus posits the fulfillment of Daniel’s time of the end tribulation or resurrection to be fulfilled at the end of the old covenant “this age” “gathering” in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matt. 13:39-43; Matt. 24:3-34). The analogy of Scripture confirms this imminent AD 70 end to the millennium period by describing the same imminent resurrection of all the dead: “…there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; (Acts 24:15 YLT WEY). The resurrection from the “graves” of John 5:28-29 is no more of a literal biological resurrection than from the “graves” of Ezekiel 37:12. Righteous souls such as Daniel’s was raised (Dan. 12:2, 13) out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 to inherit eternal life in God’s presence. There is no mention of a literal biological resurrection in Revelation 20 – only that of “souls.” The NT teaching on the resurrection is this:
- There was an evangelistic resurrection or salvation of the soul taking people out of death and darkness into life and light of eternal life.
- There was a corporate and covenantal resurrection by which the old covenant Israel/body was being changed/transformed/being raised into the new covenant Israel/body roughly during AD 30 – AD 70.
- There was a resurrection of souls out from among Hades/Abraham’s Bosom to inherit eternal life in God’s presence.
- This resurrection was from (and an overcoming of) “the [spiritual] death” that came from Adam the very same day he sinned against God.
Martyr Vindication, Satan’s Imminent Judgment “After” the end of the thousand year’s period, Satan is released for a “short” or “little while” (Rev. 20:3). In chapter 6 we are told that the martyrs are to wait a “short” or “little while” until the rest of their fellow brethren have been martyred (Rev. 6:10-11). This would be followed with God avenging and judging those who participated in their persecutions – “For the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:17). In Revelation 12:5-12 we see the same motifs to what we have seen in Revelation 6 and 20 — previous suffering followed by a “short” or “little while” of more to come, and then an imminent judgment upon their enemies. The analogy of Scripture confirms this. This “little while” time frame of Satan’s last persecution (through the Jews and Romans) and thus the martyrs having to wait “a little while” longer before justice is wielded out upon their persecutors is (as we have seen) consistent with Jesus’ teaching that all of the blood of the martyrs of the prophets and those Jesus would send to Jerusalem would be avenged in a first century “this generation” with her “house/temple” being left “desolate” (Matt. 23:31-38). Pauline eschatology weighs in as well describing the same first century Jewish persecution and the Thessalonians being promised “relief” from God through Him giving their enemies the same kind of “trouble” they were giving them through Christ coming down from heaven in “blazing fire” “punishing” them with “everlasting destruction” along with the Man of Lawlessness (1 Thess. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 1:5—2:12). Mathison believes this coming of the Lord and “everlasting destruction” and “punishment” of “fire” in (2 Thess. 1-2) was fulfilled in AD 70 paralleling much of this material with Matthew 24 for exegetical evidence. And yet all of the same elements that are present in Revelation 6, 12, 16 and 20 are present in 1 and 2 Thessalonians! The first century persecuted church wouldn’t have to wait much longer because the Man of Lawlessness was “already” present through the work of Satan himself – awaiting “the rebellion” and then his judgment (2 Thess. 2:3-10). The paralleling of 1 and 2 Thessalonians with Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation, gives us the same time frame for the end of the millennium in Revelation 20: * The Thessalonians were already in the millennium. * They were being persecuted. * They were promised relief in their lifetimes. * The Lord came to close the millennium by destroying The Beast/Man of Sin whom was already present and active in their day — with everlasting destruction and punishment. * He came to raise the dead. There are four main enemies of God and His saints in the book of Revelation and they are introduced in chapter 12 and onward in the order of Satan, the sea beast, the land beast and or false prophet and Babylon. As Revelation progresses their defeat in judgment is pictured in reverse order. These are different scenes of the same end time persecution and judgment of God’s enemies. Earth and Sky Fled / Arrival of New Creation The de-creation of the old covenant system is described in Revelation 6:14, 16:20, here in 20:11 and will pick back up in 21:1. As we learned in our study Matthew 24 on the end of the age, stars falling from the heavens, and “heaven and earth” passing – these terms were rich in apocalyptic language and referring to the old covenant system of Israel passing away in AD 70 and not references to literal stars falling or the planet earth passing away etc…. The same kind of language is being used here in the book of Revelation which virtually everyone acknowledges is John’s version of Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse. In verse 11 we read, “Earth and sky fled from his presence,..” For Full Preterists and Amillennialists such as Simon Kistemaker, this same de-creation event has already been recapitulated in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus in (Rev. 6:14 and Rev. 16:20) and will re-surface shortly in the next chapter (Rev. 21:1). But for Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison and Kenneth Gentry, the de-creation events depicted in (Rev. 6:14; Rev. 16:20 and Rev. 21:21) were “non-literally” fulfilled or are the removal of “Israel’s world” or the Old Covenant world in AD 70 being “parallel” to the AD 70 fulfillments found in Matthew 24:15-31. The question begging to be answered of course is, why can’t Gentry’s comments of an imminent de-creation non-literal fulfillment of Revelation 21:1 be applied to Revelation 20:11? “The description of the new creation and New Jerusalem bride-city extends from Revelation 21:1 to 22:5. Following immediately upon that, we read: “The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, The God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things which must soon take place’” (22:6 italics added). And for good measure, four verses later John adds: “Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near’” (22:10, italics added). A delay of several thousand years would override sound exegesis of these clear temporal statements.” Again, we must ask – How does Revelation 20:1-15 get separated from “the prophecy of this book” of which was said to be fulfilled “soon” and “near”?!? The truth of course once again lies in the middle of the two views – the de-creation of Revelation 6:14; 16:20; 20:11 and 21:1 are all depictions of the same events and were fulfilled “non-literally” and referring to the passing of “Israel’s world” or the Old Covenant world in AD 70 at Christ’s Second Coming. Obviously “the earth and sky flee” in Revelation 20:11 to be replaced with the imminent and spiritual new creation of 21:1ff. where there are no more death, tears and pain. Many literalists such as John Hagee and others reason that because death, tears, mourning, crying, and pain still exist today, Revelation 21:4 must not be fulfilled. Of course I’m not sure how the reconcile their literal hermeneutic of the new creation as described for us in Isaiah 65:17-23 where infants are being born (procreation and pain), there is biological death (death and pain), physical labor and toil (sweat etc…) are present? In Revelation 21:4 (YLT) we read that “the death shall not be any more.” Every Reformed commentator agrees that this verse, along with 1 Corinthians 15:54–55, is describing a future-to-us end of “the death,” and that “the death” refers to the death that came through Adam in Genesis 2:17. The Douay-Rheims translation renders that verse: “But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day so ever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.” The Good News Translation makes it clear when “the death” would take place: “. . . except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.” “The death” that came through Adam the very day he sinned was spiritual and not biological. The abolition of biological death was never the purpose of Christ’s redemptive work. In 1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (YLT) we read, “Where, O Death, thy sting? Where, O Hades, thy victory?’ And the sting of the death is the sin, and the power of the sin the law; and to God—thanks, to Him who is giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Whenever Paul uses the definite article “the” in front of “law,” he is referring to Israel’s old covenant Torah. As 1 Corinthians 15:57 indicates, the Law was not abolished at the cross; but it was “soon” to disappear, through the power of the Cross, at Christ’s Parousia in the end of the old covenant age (Heb. 8:13–10:37). Because “the death” is spiritual death (alienation from God) realized through the commandment-breaker Adam and amplified or increased under the Law of Moses (the old covenant), we can see how God gave His elect the victory over “the death” in the end of the old covenant age of condemnation. The fact that men die physically is in no way evidence that the “spiritual conflict” of “the death” continues for the church throughout the new covenant age. God’s people under the old covenant, unlike God’s people today, experienced covenantal and spiritual death (cf. Hosea 13:1–14; Isa. 25–27; Eze. 37). What made physical death dreaded for the saints under the old covenant was that they died with the awareness that their sins had not yet been taken away. In the new covenant creation, Jesus promises that whether we biologically die in Him or biologically live in Him, we “never die” (John 11:25–26). This was not the case before Christ. Thus under the old covenant, the residents of Jerusalem wept because they did not have a lasting atonement or eternal redemption. They longed and groaned for the day of Messiah’s salvation. Until that day would come, they knew their sins were not put away (Heb. 9:26–28; 10:4, 11). The promise that there would be no more mourning or crying or pain does not refer to any and every kind of mourning, crying, and pain. It refers to mourning, crying, and pain concerning God’s people being dead in sin under the condemnation, curse, and slavery of God’s law. That sad Adamic state is no more. In the Son, God’s people are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). As Athanasius wrote in his Festal Letters, iv. 3, “For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.” Under the old covenant, when David or the nation was exiled from Zion and God’s city and temple, there was much inner pain, weeping, and bondage that followed (2 Sam. 15:30; Ps. 137; Isa. 14:3; Isa. 22:4–5; Jer. 9:1; 13:17; Jer. 22:9–10; Lam. 1:16; Joel 2:17). Under the new covenant, the heavenly country and Jerusalem are not subject to being made desolate or shaken by invading armies as was the old (Isa. 62:4; Heb. 12:27–28). The concept of the gates of the New Jerusalem always being open, even at night (Isa. 60:11; Rev. 21:25), is not merely a picture of evangelism; it is also a picture of security for the residents of God’s City. The believer, through faith in Christ, is the new covenant creation and it is impossible for him to be exiled from the City (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 3:12; 22:12). The new covenant believer is characterized as one whose weeping has ended, because God has forever taken away his sin and united Himself with him (Isa. 60:20; 65:14, 18–19; Jn. 17:21–23). Christians in the new covenant world do not shed tears in agony and cry out to God to save them from the Adamic Death of Sin, as Jesus Himself did on our behalf (Heb. 5:7). “The sting [pain] of the Death” cannot harm us anymore (1 Cor. 15:56) because the power of Sin has been removed through Jesus, the Law-Fulfiller who clothes us and indwells us. Now we live and reign with Christ in the new covenant world, wherein dwells the Righteousness of God. But literal futurists would challenge us with the empirical reality that Death and Satan could not have met their ultimate demise in AD 70 because, after all, just look around and you will clearly see that people still physically die and that there are wars and murders taking place all over the world today. Are these clear evidence that Satan and his demonic hordes are active in our world? There were certainly times that Satan moved men, such as Judas, to commit sins. But the Bible does not teach us that this was ever the norm. James tells us that wars and fights come from within men (Jms. 4:1) instead of from Satan and demons. Satan’s primary purpose has come to an end: He can no longer function as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), because Christ came out of Zion a second time at the end of the old covenant age to put away Sin once and for all for His church (Acts 20:28; Rom. 11:26–27; 13:11–12; Heb. 9:26–28). The dead were “about to be” judged They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” “…But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:5, 7). And in the same context Peter in verse 17 uses the definite article to emphasize he is referring to “THE time” of “THE judgment,” not just “a” minor one in AD 70, “For the time has come for the judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17). “…because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead” (Acts 17:31 YLT, WEY). “I solemnly implore you, in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is about to judge the living and the dead, and by His Appearing and His Kingship:” (2 Tim. 4:1 WEY, YLT). Concluding Dispensational Zionist end time war theology We agree with all of the scholars which tell us John’s version of Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse can be found in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the coming of Christ, the judgment and resurrection of the dead, the destruction of Satan, tribulation, de-creation etc… that would take place in Jesus’ AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Matthew 24:1-34—chapter 25) is said to be fulfilled “shortly” as that generation was ending throughout the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1—-22:6-7, 10-12, 22). Contrary to Premillennial Dispensational Zionism, the millennium is not a literal thousand year’s period that we await for in our future in which these events will be fulfilled in a hyper-literal manner. The Apostle John was already in the millennium – “what is now” (Rev. 1:19). Thus the “binding” of Satan here began with the earthly ministry of Jesus (Matt. 12:22-29). Therefore, Christians were already being raised, reigning on thrones, and were already a kingdom of priests (Matt. 12:25-29; Eph. 2:5-7; John 5:24; 1 Pet. 2:5). J. Marcellus Kik makes a good case that Revelation 20:4 is describing the lives of the saints while upon the earth (preferring the ARV translation of the text), “In the King James version the verbs sat, was given, lived, reigned, are in one tense; while the verbs had worshipped, had received, are in another. But in the Greek the same tense is used for all—the aorist. Since they are all in the same tense they must refer to the same time. That is, the time of not worshipping the beast and not receiving his mark is the same time as that of sitting on thrones and living and reigning with Christ. He translates “psuchai” in verse 4 as, “And I beheld the lives of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus” indicating that they were already reigning and living victorious lives upon the earth through the work of Christ on the cross and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit before they were martyred. While John is living during the time of the millennium, the inspired time frame for Revelation’s fulfillment demands that he is now standing towards the end or consummation of it–the things which John was told would “shortly” or “about to” take place “later” (Rev. 1:1, 19YLT). John was told that no part of the vision was to be sealed up, because it was all to be fulfilled shortly and nowhere are we told that the millennium is not a part of that vision. If the millennium was not a part of the vision to be fulfilled shortly, we would expect John to be given instruction to seal at least that portion of the vision since it’s time of fulfillment would be “far off” – as Daniel was instructed. Jesus taught that the Roman Jewish war along with His Second Coming and end of the old covenant age “was the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written” (Luke 21:20-22). The battle of Gog (Ezek. 38-39) falls within “all that has been written.” The book of Revelation confirms this same time frame for this war. The Dispensational Zionist View of the “Rapture” So if the second coming isn’t about Jesus riding around on a literal horse or cloud in the sky coming to destroy and renew the planet earth at the end of world history, then what about the “catching away” of the living members of His Church in the clouds at His coming? How could this have been fulfilled in AD 70? And to this subject we now turn our attention. First, I would like to briefly demonstrate that Matthew 24:30-31/1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 is one and the same event thus dismissing the two coming(s) views of Pre-Tribulational Dispensational Zionism and Partial Preterism. Secondly, I will demonstrate how Christ “gathered up” His living Church in His “kingdom,” or in the “clouds”/”air” and how this was an “within” a person event – not a physical disappearing of people off of planet earth event. We need to briefly cover this because the Pre-Tribulation rapture Zionist theory (and even that of the Reformed Partial Preterist) position(s) teach in essence TWO second comings: 1. Dispensational Zionist Pre-tribulation view – One coming of Jesus for the Church 7 years before His actual second coming with the Church, and… 2. Partial Preterist – A coming of Jesus in AD 70 and then the second coming thousands of years later. Both of these views have been proven false by Amillennialists, Premillennial Post-Tribulationalists and Full Preterists using the analogy of Scripture. Analogy of Scripture: Virtually all views agree that whatever your view of Matthew 24-25 is, it’s going to dictate your interpretation of the rest of the NT’s teaching on eschatology. And I couldn’t agree more. Jesus’ eschatology in Matthew 24-25 is Pauline eschatology. And perhaps an illustration from mathematics and logic will help us understand the analogy of scripture principle of interpretation between Jesus’ eschatology in Matthew 24-25 and Pauline eschatology in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (and 1 Corinthians 15). In mathematics and logic: If A bears some relation to B and B bears the same relation to C, then A bears it to C. Or the property of equality is transitive – for if A = B and B = C, then A = C. Therefore, things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal. A = (Matt. 24:27-31, 34) B = (1 Thess. 4:15-17) C = (1 Cor. 15) A (Matt. 24:27-31) was fulfilled in AD 70, and if A (Matt. 24:27-31) is equal to both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15), then both B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) and C (1 Cor. 15) were fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70. In other words, “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another. If equals be added to equals, the wholes are equal.” “If A (Matt. 24:27-43) bears some relation to B (1 Thess. 4:15 – 1 Thess. 5)” or “A=B”: Matthew 24 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Parallels: Christ returns from heaven Matt. 24:30 = 1 Thess. 4:16 With archangelic voice Matt. 24:31 = 1 Thess. 4:16 With God’s trumpet Matt. 24:31 = 1 Thess. 4:16 Gathered/caught up with Christ Matt. 24:31 = 1 Thess. 4:17 “Meet” Christ in clouds Matt. 24:30; 25:6 = 1 Thess. 4:17 Exact time unknown Matt. 24:36 = 1 Thess. 5:1-2 Christ comes like a thief Matt. 24:43 = 1 Thess. 5:2 Unbelievers caught unaware Matt. 24:37-39 = 1 Thess. 5:3 Birth pains Matt. 24:8 = 1 Thess. 5:3 Believers are not deceived Matt. 24:43 = 1 Thess. 5:4-5 Believers told to be watchful Matt. 24:42 = 1 Thess. 5:6 Exhortation against drunkenness Matt. 24:49 = 1 Thess. 5:7 The Day/Sons of day Matt. 24:27, 36-38 = 1Thess. 5:4-8 First Century “you” “we” Matt. 24:2-34 = 1 Thess. 4:15-17 “And …B (1 Thess. 4-5) bears the same relation to C (1 Cor. 15)…” or “B=C”: All agree that B (1 Thess. 4:15-17) bears the same relation to C (1 Cor. 15) or “B=C” and is referring to the second coming and resurrection events: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels: Those asleep will be raised 1 Thess. 4:13-14 = 1 Cor. 15:12-18 Living caught up/changed 1 Thess. 4:15-17 = 1 Cor. 15:51-52 At the sound of a trumpet 1 Thess. 4:16 = 1 Cor. 15:52 Christ’s coming (Gk. parousia) 1 Thess. 4:15 = 1 Cor. 15:23 “Encourage” “Stand firm” 1 Thess. 4:18 = 1 Cor. 15:58 Same contemporary “we” 1 Thess. 4:15-17 = 1 Cor. 15:51-52 “Then A (Matt. 24) bears it to C (1 Cor. 15)” or “A=C”: Matthew 24/Luke 21 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels: Christ comes (Gk. parousia) Matt. 24:27 = 1 Cor. 15:23 Gather or change His people Matt. 24:31 = 1 Cor. 15:52 With a trumpet Matt. 24:31 = 1 Cor. 15:52 The end (Gk. telos) Matt. 24:3, 14 = 1 Cor. 15:24 Consummation to kingdom Luke 21:30-32 = 1 Cor. 15:24 Fulfillment of all OT prophecy Luke 21:22 = 1 Cor. 15:54-55 Temple /victory over “The Law” Matt. 24:1 = 1 Cor. 15:55-56 Same contemporary “you” “we” Matt. 24:2ff = 1Cor. 15:51-52 PREMISE #1: The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 took place in AD 70 (according to partial preterists and Biblical preterists) PREMISE #2: The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 is the same coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 (according to traditional amillennialists and Biblical preterists) CONCLUSION: The parousia/coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 took place in AD 70. Having quickly eliminated the two coming(s) theories of the Dispensational Zionist Pre-Tribulation view and the Reformed Partial Preterist views, we can now move on to developing more of the time and nature of fulfillment issues found in our texts Matthew 24:30-31/1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Audience Relevancy Jesus’ “you” and Paul’s “we”: If I were to say, “We who live long enough to see the year 2030,” there is no reason to think that I would be assuming that I myself would be among the living in 2030. My only assumption would be that some of us today would be alive in 2030. In the same way, Paul’s words imply only that he knew that some of his contemporaries would still be alive when Christ returned, as Christ Himself promised would be the case in Matthew 16:27–28; 24:34. A day was approaching when Christ would deliver first century believers in the Thessalonian Church from their first century Jewish persecutors by giving them the same kind of trouble they were giving them (1Thess. 1:10; cf. 2 Thess. 1:6–7). Are members of the first century church and their Jewish persecutors alive today? Uh, no they are not. When that day came, the Lord descended from heaven with a word of command (or “a shout”), with archangelic voice, and with a trumpet call of God; and the dead in Christ rose. Then the living in Christ and the dead in Christ were simultaneously “caught up” in “clouds” to “a meeting of the Lord in the air.” We can know that Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17 are not to be interpreted literally (a literal trumpet, etc.) because the Scriptures tell us elsewhere not to interpret them literally. In Exodus 19 and 20, the Lord came down in a cloud over Mount Sinai. He spoke with a loud voice. There was the sound of a loud trumpet. And Moses met the Lord on Mount Sinai. Then God established His covenant with His people. The writer of Hebrews tells us that though the trumpet and the voice of the old covenant were literal, the “trumpet” and the “voice” of the new covenant are not literal (Heb. 12:18–19). Neither is the mountain (Mount Zion) literal in the new covenant (Heb. 12:18, 22). Therefore, neither is the cloud (which descended to cover the ountain) literal in the new covenant. Since the cloud-covered mountain is not literal, but is heavenly, neither then is the meeting that takes place in the heavenly mountain (i.e., in the clouds in the air) literal. Therefore the shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are all spiritual antitypes of the literal shout, voice, trumpet, mountain, cloud, and meeting of Exodus 19 and 20 (Heb. 12:18–22). What we have then in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 is the “rapturously” metaphorical language of a prophet who is speaking of antitypical, spiritual realities —the transcendent profundities of Christological glory in and among the saints in the consummation of the ages. If this sounds like an over-spiritualization, it shouldn’t. The Lord Jesus Himself was opposed to a literal removal of the church out of the world: I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15) The “rapture” passage is no more literal than the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:4–14. In that passage, God caused a valley full of dry bones to come together. He attached tendons to them and put skin on them. Then He caused the bodies to breathe and they stood on their feet as a vast army. The bones represented the house of Israel. They were hopelessly cut off from the land, and were said to be in “graves.” As God had done for the dry bones, He was going to do for the house of Israel. In the same way, in 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17, God raised up His church —the first fruits of the resurrection-harvest— which was anxiously longing for the consummation of redemption and atonement. As a mighty warrior, the Lord issued forth his shout of command and sounded the trumpet of God. Then His spiritual army arose by His power. They met Him on His way to His temple to judge the enemies in His kingdom (Mal. 3:1). That is when God afflicted the persecutors of His church, when He gave His people relief and glorified Himself in them (2 Thess. 1:8–10). Being revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4) and becoming like Him and seeing Him in His Parousia (1 Jn 3:2) had nothing to do with escaping physical death or with being literally caught up into the literal sky or with being biologically changed. It had to do with God’s people, living and dead, being “gathered together” to become His eternal Tabernacle, His spiritual Body, the New Man, the heavenly Mount Zion, the New Jerusalem in the Spirit. “This mystery is great” (Eph. 5:32), and is therefore communicated in the accommodative “sign language” of prophetic metaphor. Since our Lord came “with His saints” and destroyed the earthly temple in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8), the church of all ages lives and reigns in glory with Him forever (Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:4; 2 Tim. 2:11–12). Now whether we are alive or asleep, we “live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). This was not the case in the Old Testament, when to die was to be cut off from the people of God. As Paul says in Romans 14:8–9, “ . . . whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” “Gathered up” The NCV translates harpazo as “gathered up” thus giving a theological connection to the eschatological gathering of (Mt.13:39-43; Mt.24:30-31 & 2 Thess. 2:1). Other translations render it “snatched away” or “will be seized.” The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament renders a good definition of harazo as, “of an ecstatic vision or experience catch up or away (2C 12.2).” (Friberg, Timothy ; Friberg, Barbara ; Miller, Neva F.: Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 2000 (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library 4), S. 75, emphasis added). Thus one could be “caught up” with visions or “caught up” in having a joyful “experience” associated with Christ’s return that did not necessitate a physical removal from the planet! The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament gives the meaning to a word related to harpazo–harpagmos, “…c. “to take up an attitude to something as one does to what presents itself as a prey to be grasped, a chance discovery, or a gift of fate, i.e., appropriating and using it, treating it as something desired and won.” “The figurative element in the expression still remains, and a οἷον or ὥσπερ is often put before it.” (Kittel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (Hrsg.) ; Friedrich, Gerhard (Hrsg.): Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, S. 1:473). The Liddell and Scott Lexicon render harpazo as “…5. grasp with the senses, 6. captivate, ravish.” As I pointed out earlier, Jesus said when the kingdom would come at His return, that it would be an experience to occur “within” an individual and not something that could be seen with the physical eyes—Luke 17:20-37; Mark 9:1. The realm of the “snatching away” was an “experience” and “attitude” “within” Christians. They “grasped” and were “captivated” and had “seen” and “perceived” in their hearts and minds what Christ had done for them physically and most importantly “in” them in purifying their conscience and taking away their sins. The inward realm of redemption or catching away is further evident from a study of the next two words “clouds” and “air.” “…in the clouds…” In Revelation one of the descriptions of the Churches “rapture” or “resurrection” is described by the two witnesses (described as Moses–the law & Elijah–the prophets) being received up into a cloud Rev.11:12. This is the consummation and the Church being raised and caught up into the presence of God is the fulfillment and climax of everything taught in the Law and the Prophets. Those that did not heed her message, were assured of imminent destruction. The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament gives the concept of the cloud as referring to a Theological “revelation,” “Mark 9:7a, b par. Matt 17:5a, b / Luke 9:34a, b, 35 contain the idea of the cloud of revelation, or the theophany motif, in the account of the transfiguration. (Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 2:464). The transformation was a “vision.” The transfiguration event is what we are to “see/understand” the parousia being all about – the passing glory and fulfilling of the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) with Christ’s words of the new covenant age continuing. For Peter to want to desire Moses and Elijah to abide with Christ is to get a rebuke from the Father, because the age of the law and prophets would soon pass away and their was no need for new wine to be contained in old wineskins. The only other two place in the NT where this Greek word is used (metamorphosis or transformation) is in 2 Corinthians 3 and Romans 12 and it had to do with a spiritual transformation of the mind and heart from old covenant glory to new covenant glory and its application. Unlike the Judaizers whom were “waterless clouds” (Jude 12) and could not give doctrine or revelation resulting in the salvation of the soul, the Christians were and remain a heavenly people full of living water ready to rain down the righteousness of Christ upon thirsty souls through the preaching of the gospel (Isa. 45:8/Jn. 7:38/Ezk. 47/Rev. 22:17). A “cloud” can include the revelation or testimony of people such as the OT saints (Heb. 12:1). To meet the Lord in “the air” But what of this meeting the Lord in the “air” (Greek eros)? This word is defined as, “space inhabited and controlled by powers (Eph 2:2; 1Th 4:17; Rev 16:17). (Swanson, James: Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament). electronic ed. Oak Harbor : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, S. GGK113). Another reference works says of Ephesians 2 – “This ruler appears as the aeon of this world, or, one might say, his atmosphere (air) allows the world to appear as Aeon, the god of eternity, whose false claim brings death to humankind (H. Schlier, Der Brief an der Epheser  102f.). From the perspective of the history of religion this represents a combination of the Empedoclean and Pythagorean worldview, according to which the air is full of souls which cannot yet rise to the ethereal world (E. Schweizer, The Letter to the Colossians  128–34), and Jewish conceptions, according to which, among other things, the air is the abode of demons (Billerbeck IV, 516). (Balz, Horst Robert ; Schneider, Gerhard: Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Eerdmans, 1990-c1993, S. 1:34). Prior to A.D. 70, demon’s “possessed” individuals within the realm of their minds and the spiritual realm of their being. This is consistent with the word harpazo as meaning “seizing” or “possessing” one inwardly. Satan used the old-covenant Mosaic law to blind the hearts and minds of people in the realm of the “air”—within their souls, hearts, and minds in producing an arrogant and zealous self righteousness which apart from Christ could only lead to utter despair (2 Cor. 3; Gal. 4:17-18; Rms.7). Christ “bound the strong man” and was raising and delivering Christians from the darkness and death of this spiritual kingdom realm into His Ephs.2:1-10. Christ snatched away His beloved and spoke peace and joy into the “air” of her heart, soul, and mind, when He said, “It is finished” Rev.16:17/Heb.9-10/1Cor.15! The powers of Satan, demons, the condemnation of the law, and the spiritual death Adam brought upon men, have all been conquered by Christ at His parousia in A.D.70. The early church did ecstatically experience the joys of this event while on earth, and as Mathison admits, our “numbers keep growing!” “The Day of the Lord has ‘already come.’” (2 Thess. 2:2) Before leaving 1 Thessalonians 4-5, let’s take a quick look at some of the reasoning that Partial Preterists use against a futurist interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 5 and then apply it to the “rapture” and or resurrection texts of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 2 Timothy 2. 1. “As in the case of 1 Thessalonians 5, no commentator who approaches this text under the assumption that it refers to the events surrounding the Second Coming has ever been able to offer an even remotely plausible explanation for the belief of the Thessalonian Christians that the day of the Lord had already come. If we grant the assumptions of these commentators, then Paul has already told them in his first epistle that this event would involve the bodily resurrection of the dead and the “catching up” in the air of those who would still be alive to be with the Lord forever. Unless one concludes that the Thessalonians were profoundly oblivious to reality, there is no explanation for why they would have believed that this had already taken place. 2. Futurists interpreters have also failed to offer a plausible explanation of Paul’s argumentation in 2 Thessalonians 2. If the “coming” of Christ, our “gathering” to Him, and the day of the Lord in this chapter refer to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, then it is necessary to explain Paul’s method of proving that these things had not yet occurred. Why would Paul have tried to convince a group of believers that the Rapture and the bodily resurrection of all believers had not yet occurred by arguing that the apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness must coming first? If this chapter is referring to the Second Advent, the Rapture, and the bodily resurrection of the dead, the proof that these things had not yet happened would have been far more simple and obvious. The entire argument of 2 Thessalonians 2 could have been reduced to the single question, “Are you still here?” (Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism, 229). Since I have already demonstrated that the coming of Christ in BOTH 1 Thessalonians 4-5 took place in AD 70, the question needs to include 1 Thessalonian 4 and 2 Timothy 2 and ask concerning all of these texts: – “If Paul’s doctrine among the churches was a literal “rapture” of the bodies of the living and a literal resurrection of dead corpses, then why wouldn’t his apologetic against these false teachers be something as simple as this, “How can you believe the coming of the Lord, our gathering to Him and resurrection of the dead has ‘already’ taken place, we are obviously still here and the graves still contain rotten corpses do they not?”” Some Partial Preterists have now come around to admit that the coming of Christ in BOTH 1 Thessalonians 4 – 5 are the same coming and therefore have proposed the idea that there was a literal rapture of the Church by AD 70. This position as well does not address the exegesis I have provided here let alone the question I have proposed above. Nor does it account for Jesus’ teaching that the first century Christians would witness the destruction of the city and Temple and God’s kingdom come in power while remaining on the earth post AD 70: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” (Mark 8:38-9:1). Partial Preterist Kenneth Gentry quoting Alexander, correctly points out of Mark 9:1, “Here the root word erchomai, which is translated “come” is “not, as the English words may seems to mean, in the act of coming (till they see it come), but actually or ALREADY COME, the only sense that can be put upon the perfect participle here employed.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion A Postmillennial Eschatology, Third Edition, 219-220). Jesus clearly taught that some of His first century audience would live to witness His second coming and experience His kingdom and discern from the events of AD 66 AD 70 that He and His kingdom “already” had come spiritually “within” them (Luke 17:20-21/21:30-32). Conclusion: We have examined the “gathering up” or “catching away” “rapture” passages and have proven exegetically the following: 1. Analogy of Scripture: Matthew 24:30-31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 are addressing the same coming of Christ and resurrection/rapture event. 2. Audience Relevancy & Timing: Jesus taught that Matthew 24:30-31, 34 would be fulfilled in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” while further addressing His contemporary “you” audience. The Apostle Paul’s doctrine is consistent with Jesus’ in that towards the end of that generation he taught an imminent second coming event and resurrection/catching away of his first century audience “we…” 3. Spiritual Nature of Fulfillment: Jesus taught that His new covenant Kingdom would not come with physical observation but would be realized “within” His people at His return (Luke 17:20-21ff., 21:30-32). We examined the terms “snatch,” “clouds,” and “air” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and found that there is exegetical evidence that this passage would be fulfilled within the person without taking him or her off planet earth. 4. Powerful Argument From Silence: If Jesus’ second coming event attended with the resurrection and rapture of the living was to be a physical event whereby rotting corpses were raised and the living would disappear off of planet earth, then why didn’t Paul in Thessalonians and 2 Timothy argue against those that believed these events had “already” happened – “How can you believe this? You are still here and the dead are still in their graves right?” 5. Jesus’ teaching in John 17 and Mark 8:38-9:1 teach us that it was/is not God’s will to take the Church off of planet earth (through a secret “rapture”) and even goes as far to teach that some living in the first century would live to witness Christ’s coming and kingdom and know that it had “already come” in and post AD 70. For more buy my/our book, “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology a Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?” Or go to my web site www.fullpreterism.com to learn more. For more on the resurrection see David Green’s chapter on the resurrection and his exposition of 1 Corinthians 15 in our book or on my site.
CONCLUSION TO THE THREE “END TIME” “HOLY LAND” “HOLY WAR” ESCHATOLOGIES
Virtually every sect within Islam in the Middle East today believes they are seeing their end time prophecies being fulfilled right before their eyes. ISIS is willing to provoke the rest of the world to come and attack them in order to self-fulfill Muhammad’s prophecies concerning an apocalyptic end time war which will lead to the “fulfillment” of other “prophecies.” They are willing to ignore the fact that their founding “prophet” taught that the “last hour” was going to take place within a 100 years of those living in his day, and would rather perpetuate their founders errors on a failed “imminent” “end of the world” type eschatology. Modern day Judaism has no right to the OT Promised Land – even orthodox Zionist see this – which is a view that also escalates tension in the region and among these religions. Since these two forms of modern day “Jews” reject Christ as their Messiah, they are clueless on what being “in the land” pointed to “in Christ.” Like Dispensational Zionists, they are willing to twist such passages as Ezekiel 37 to fit their agenda. And since they have in interpreted end time battle scenes as Ezekiel 38-39 to WWI and WWII, they now doubt will once again begin to fit these texts into an end time holy war — as Islam and Dispensationalists have (is my prediction). Unfortunately it is easier to criticize ISIS as an end time cult and not realize we have had one growing here within the U.S. for the last 150 years in the face of Dispensational Zionism. We simply cannot ignore this groups false teachings and its influence upon our Politian’s and desires to form foreign policy in the Middle East. It is just as eager and willing to twist the OT and NT Scriptures to self-fulfill what they want to take place in the Middle East in order to usher in the “rapture” or Second Coming as is ISIS and other Islamic groups. The group may claim to be “Christian,” but it follows the same Christ-rejecting theology of the Jews in Jesus’ day in denying the spiritual nature of Jesus’ kingdom and trying to usher in their own kingdom expectations. I have successfully demonstrated that the prophecies of Christ in Matthew 24 were in fact fulfilled within the time frame Jesus established and that His disciples continue living peacefully in His Kingdom post AD 70 – in the NC age. Christ confronts man’s depravity while eschatological systems and “revelations” from alleged end time “prophets” such Muhammad feed mans depravity (revelations that they can rape, steal, and kill their enemies as their “prophet” exemplified). Amazingly Obama’s administration feels that one solution to stopping ISIS is to get them better jobs! That’s amazing since he can’t even create jobs for our country! But since Obama enjoys 1. ruining our country by letting anyone and everyone in, 2. is already trying to develop a welfare state – (stealing from the rich and giving to the poor – something ISIS knows something about), then 3. perhaps Obama wants to let these folks in our country and give them welfare benefits and hope that will make this problem go away?!? Perhaps he thinks he can reform ISIS Islam into Obamaism? Obama is in la la land when he denies that ISIS is not Islamic – even the liberal media isn’t buying it! The FACT of the matter is that ISIS’ eschatology and beliefs are pure and consistent Islamic theology! Others think the answer is in trying to “reform” a false religion or reform and modernize the teachings of a failed prophet. I have a better idea – confront and refute its false teachings and failed “prophecies” and then point them to the REAL Jesus of the Bible and not what is being presented on TV coming from the alleged “Christian” “prophecy experts.” If “moderate” Islamic groups are truly interested in the teachings of Jesus and want real peace that comes from an “inward Jihad,” then they will bow before the Jesus of the Bible that alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life — denying self, picking up ones cross and following Him daily. Surrender and lose your life – that you may truly find life “in Christ.”
 (Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: Israel will ‘soon be wiped out’. Haaretz, 12 December 2006. Retrieved 13 December 2006 and 20 December 2009).
 What is Zionism?, http://www.truetorahjews.org/, see also: WHY ORTHODOX JEWS ARE OPPOSED TO A ZIONIST STATE, http://www.nkusa.org/AboutUs/Zionism/opposition.cfm  Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashana 31a and Sanhedrin 97a  Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer, Gerald Friedlander, Sepher-Hermon Press, New York, 1981, p. 141.  Zohar (1:117a) and Zohar Vayera 119a  Louis Jacobs, Gog and Magog, http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/Afterlife_and_Messiah/Messianism/The_Messianic_Age/Gog_and_Magog.shtml  Zohar in Gen. fol. 32. 4. & in Exod. fol. 4. 1. & in Numb. fol. 101. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 98. sect. 85. 3. Jarchi & Baal Hatturim, in loc. Nachmanidis Disputat. cum Paulo, p. 53. Abarbinel. Mashmiah Jesbuah, fol. 10. 1. R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 36. 4. & 62. 2.((q) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 2.((r) Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.  The Messianic Idea in Judaism, http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm  Ibid.  Both Zechariah 9:9 and Daniel 7:13-14 (of which we will get into more) are Messianic texts: “R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee …] lowly, and riding upon an ass! — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass.” Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin Folio 98a  The New King James Version. (1982). (Is 53:1–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.  Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b).  Targum Johnathan on Isaiah 53.  The Messianic Idea in Judaism, http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm  H.J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of theApostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History, pp. 100, The WestminsterPress, 1966, emphasis MJS.  G.K. Beale, The New International Greek TestamentCommentary The Book of Revelation, (Eerdmans pub. 1999), 1018-19, (emphasis added).  Tom Holland, CONTOURS OF PAULINE THEOLOGY A RADICAL NEWSURVEY OF THE INFLUENCE ON PAUL’S BIBLICALWRITINGS, (Scotland, UK, Mentor Imprint, Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 26.  Ibid., 21.  Aryeh Kaplan (orthodox rabbi), “Jesus and the Bible,” in The Real Messiah (reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973, Tammuz 5733, No. 40), 57.   Pinchas Stolper (orthodox rabbi), “Was Jesus the Messiah Let’s Examine the Facts,” in The Real Messiah (reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973, Tammuz 5733, No. 40), 46-47.  Joseph Klausner (scholar), Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times, and Teaching (New York: Macmillen, 1925), 405.  Samuel Levine (educator and debater). You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God: How To Refute Christian Missionaries (Los Angeles: Hamoroh Press, 1980), 15, 23, 49.  Alan Segal, Part Two. The Early Rabbinic Evidence, Chapter Two. Conflicting Appearances of God, pp. 47-48. In footnote 21 – 21. b. Hag. 14a Tr. Epstein. Cf. also b. Sanhedrin 38a where other rabbis are said to oppose R. Akiba… (Ibid., 47). And “… R. Hiyya b. Abba answers in Aramaic, rather than in Hebrew, that if a heretic says that there are ‘two gods’ based on Dan. 7:9f., one is to remind him that God stated that He is the same at the Sea and at Sina…” (Ibid., 42)
 Judaisms and Their Messiahs at the Turn of the Christian Era, edited by Jacob Neusner, William Scott Green & Ernest S. Frerichs [Cambridge University Press, 1987], 275.
 Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ [The New Press, New York, NY 2012], pp. 31-33. These and the following quotes are taken from Sam Shamoun, Jesus as the Divine Son of God – A Markan Perspective Pt. 2 http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/shamoun/divine_son_mark2.html
 Ibid., 34, In a footnote, “In these ideas lie the seed that would eventually grow into doctrines of the Trinity and incarnation in all of their later variations, variations that are inflected as well by Greek philosophical thinking; the seeds, however, were sown by Jewish apocalyptic writings.”  Ibid, 39-40.  Ibid, 44.  Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), (Daniel 7:13-14), bold emphasis MJS.  Lee Irons, Meredith Kline, J. Ligon Duncan, David W. Hall, Hugh Ross, Gleason L. Archer, THE GENESIS DEBATE Three Views on the Days of Creation, (Mission Viejo, CA: Crux Press, Inc., 2001), 227. I would also agree with Keil and Delitzsch on the point that this is not a reference to a literal 490 years of chronology: “That by this word common years are to be understood, is indeed taken for granted by many interpreters, but a satisfactory proof of such a meaning has not been adduced. Moreover, in favour of year-weeks (periods of seven years) it has been argued that such an interpretation was very natural, since they hold so prominent a place in the law of Moses; and the Exile had brought them anew very distinctly into remembrance, inasmuch as the seventy years’ desolation of the land was viewed as a punishment for the interrupted festival of the sabbatical years: 2 Chron. 36:21 (Hgstb., Kran., and others). But since these periods of seven years, as Hengstenberg himself confesses, are not called in the law שָׁבֻעִים or שָׁבֻעֹות, therefore, from the repeated designation of the seventh year as that of the great Sabbath merely (Lev. 25:2, 4, 5; 26:34, 35, 43; 2 Chron. 36:21), the idea of year-weeks in no way follows. The law makes mention not only of the Sabbath-year, but also of periods of seven times seven years, after the expiry of which a year of jubilee was always to be celebrated (Lev. 25:8ff.). These, as well as the Sabbath-years, might be called שָׁבֻעִים. Thus the idea of year-weeks has no exegetical foundation. Hofmann and Kliefoth are in the right when they remark that שָׁבֻעִים does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven, whose chronological duration must be determined on other grounds.” (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 9, pp. 717–718). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson). See also David Green’s comments as to why Daniel 9:24-27 can’t be a literal 490 years – see his Q & A #’s 96-97http://www.preteristcosmos.com/question5.html#note97  Ibid. 227.  Julia Duin, “San Antonio Fundamentalist Battles Anti-Semitism,” The Houston Chronicle, 30 April 1988, 1., Pastor John Hagee, CRI Statement, http://www.equip.org/article/pastor-john-hagee/#christian-books-3  Hal Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, back-cover, p.144, New York: Bantam, 1980.  Chuck Smith, End Times, The Word for Today, 1978, 35.  Gary DeMar, IDENTIFYING THE GOG-MAGOG ALLIANCE WHY THE END OF THE WORLD IS NOT IN YOUR FUTURE, (Powder Springs, GA, American Vision Press, 2008), 23  Gary DeMar, IDENTIFYING THE GOG-MAGOG ALLIANCE WHY THE END OF THE WORLD IS NOT IN YOUR FUTURE, (Powder Springs, GA, American Vision Press, 2008).  Adam Maarschalk, Revelation 20: Four Views of Gog and Magog,: April 5, 2010, http://kloposmasm.com/2010/04/05/revelation-20-four-views-of-gog-and-magog/  Ibid.  William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors, (Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Book House, 7th reprint 1990), 193.  . David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 281.
 . Chilton, The Days of Vengeance, 281 (emphasis added).
 David Green, Michael Sullivan Edward Hassertt, House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, (Ramona, CA, Second Edition, 2014), 179-180.