Michael J. Sullivan (Copyright 2014)
Part 1 Islam – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology: https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-1-islam/
Part 2 Judaism – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology:https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-of-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-2-judaism-the-article-facebook-doesnt-want-yo/
Part 3 “Christian” Dispensational Zionism – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology: https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-3-christian-dispensational-zionism/
We now close in refuting the third guilty party in propagating a false or unbiblical eschatology of an “end time,” “holy land,” “holy war” prophetic scheme perpetuating conflict in the Middle East and around the world today – Dispensational Zionism. Although I was once trained in this system at various Bible Colleges to become a Pastor, I now know it’s system to be completely false.
Let me give you a brief overview of what we will be covering here (in no particular order):
How did Dispensational Zionism come into existence and what does it teach?
Biblical “end time” “signs” are NOT being fulfilled in the news today right before our very eyes!
I will be giving you an accurate exegesis (interpretation) of such Second Coming / “rapture” and Armageddon type passages as Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and various parts of the book of Revelation, which prove these texts were actually fulfilled when Jesus and the NT authors said they would be (ie. in their AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and in an AD 70 soon,” “short,” “at hand” time frame). Or how the “last hour” resurrection of the dead of John 5 was fulfilled by AD 70. Since Dispensational Zionism is only about 150 years old, I will be appealing to some older traditional views of the Church (Classic Amillennialism and Partial Preterism) in demonstrating how they have formed the Biblical view – Full Preterism. This is the section you have all been waiting for – “How is he going to prove that Christ’s coming and all of the signs in Matthew 24 were fulfilled in AD 70? How is going to prove the “rapture” of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 was fulfilled in AD 70? How is he going to prove that Armageddon was fulfilled by AD 66-AD 70?” Well, hold on tight because I will prove my case – so be prepared for a radical paradigm shift.
And lastly, I will give my thoughts on bringing healing to these false eschatological systems and how we can pray and work towards bringing healing to the Nations and particularly to those in the Middle East (“the war of ideas”).
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.
Dispensational Zionist Signs Being Fulfilled In the News for Our Terminal Generation?
Here are John Hagee’s 10 signs (taken from his book, Beginningof 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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 (and time restraints will not allow me 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).
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.”
“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.”[ii]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”:
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.
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!
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 Hageewrites 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.”
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
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
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
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
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
– Lev. 26:11,12, Eze. 37:27, 2 Cor. 6:16
– Deut. 30:12-14, Rom. 10:6-8
– Deut. 31:6, Heb. 13:5
– Deut. 32:36, Psa. 135:14, Heb. 10:30
– Psa. 22:22, Heb. 2:12
– Psa. 44:22, Rom. 8:36
– Psa. 95:7-11, Heb. 3:7-11
– Psa. 130:8, Tit. 2:14
– Isa. 28:16, Rom. 10:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:6
– Isa. 49:8, 2 Cor. 6:2
– Isa. 52:7, Rom. 10:15
– Isa. 54:1, Gal. 4:27
– Jer. 31:31-34, Heb. 8:8-12
– Hos. 1:10; 2:23, Rom. 9:25-26, 1 Pet. 2:10
– Hos. 13:14, 1 Cor. 15:55
– 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).
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. In the passages listed above, God’s promises made to Israel concerning the land had not failed to come to pass. Indeed in type and shadow form, through the 40 year reigns of David and in particularly Solomon, Israel received peace in all the land that God had promised to give Israel. All the blessings under the Old Covenant were realized “in the land.” However, in the NT we discover that the anti-type and “true” fulfillments 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 writer to Hebrews (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) applies the New Covenant Promised Land, City, Tabernacle/Temple, Mount Zion, Sabbath/Rest/Inheritance and Kingdom promises made to Old Covenant Israel to the Church with the reception of these promises to be fulfilled at Christ’s “in a very little while” coming in which He would “not tarry” (Heb. 1-10:37). The NT emphasis is not “in the land” but rather in a person – “in Christ” through faith. For “in Christ” and through the Church, are all the OT promises of God realized and fulfilled (cf. 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.
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.”
“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]
“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.
“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.
“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).
“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).
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:
1. . . . [T]he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. . . . (Jn. 4:23)
2. . . . [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.
1. The dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and live.
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2. God’s worshipers would no longer worship Him in Jerusalem.
2. All who were in the graves would hear His voice.
Commentators have long understood that Daniel 12:2 is the source for Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection in John 5:28-29 because the only OT passage which mentions a resurrection for both the righteous and the wicked is Daniel 12:2 and the only OT passage addressing “eternal life” is Daniel 12:2. G.K. Beale points out an additional connection – in that Jesus is following the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:1-2, 4 when it comes to this coming resurrection “hour” of both believers and unbelievers (cf. G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of The Old Testament In The New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 131132).
That being the case, note these parallels:
Pentecost (AD 30)
1. Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”
1. John 5:25: “…an hour is coming and now is…”
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2. Daniel 12:1: “And at that hour…”
2. John 5:28: “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,”
Pentecost (AD 30)
1. 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.”
1. 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.”
Fall of Jerusalem (AD 70)
2. 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.”
2. 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.” (also related: 1 John 2:18: “Dear children it is the last hour…” and 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.”
|Since A (Mat. 24) = B (1 Thess. 4)|
|Christ Returns from Heaven||24:30||4:16|
|With Voice of Arch Angel||24:31||4:16|
|With Trumpet of God||24:31||4:16|
|Caught/Gathered Together with/to Christ||24:31||4:17|
|“Meet” the Lord in the Clouds||24:30 & 25:6||4:17|
|Exact Time Unknown||24:36||5:1-2|
|Christ Comes as a Thief||24:43||5:2|
|Unbelievers Caught Off Guard||24:37-39||5:3|
|Time of Birth Pangs||24:8||5:3|
|Believers Not Deceived||24:43||5:4-5|
|Believers to Be Watchful||24:42||5:6|
|Exhorted to Sobriety||24:49||5:7|
|Son/Sunlight Shinning From E. to W. / Sons of the Day||24:27, 36, & 38||5:4-8|
|And B (1 Thess. 4) = C (1 Cor. 15)|
|The Sleeping to Be Raised||4:13-14||15:12-18|
|The Living to Be aught/Changed||4:15-17||15:51-52|
|Christ’s Coming (Greek: Parousia)||4:15||15:23|
|At the Sound of the Trumpet||4:16||15:52|
|Encouraged to Stand Firm||4:18||15:58|
|Same Contemporary “We”||4:15-17||15:51-52|
|Then A (Matt. 24) = C (1 Cor. 15)|
|Christ to Come (Greek: Parousia)||24:27||15:23|
|His People to Be Gathered/Changed||24:31||15:52|
|To Come with the Sound of a Trumpet||24:31||15:52|
|To Be “The End” (Greek telos, the goal)||24:3, 14||15:24|
|Kingdom Consummation (goal reached)||Luke 21:30-32||15:24|
|All Prophecy Fulfilled at This Point||Luke 21:22||15:54-55|
|Victory over the Law/Temple||Mat. 24:1||15:55-56|
|Same Contemporary “We”||Mat. 24:2ff||15:51-52|
|Two or More Things that Are Equal to Another Thing Are Also Equal to Each Other.
Matthew 24 1 Thessalonians 4 1 Corinthians 15
|At His Coming (24:27-31)||=||At His Coming (4:16)||=||At His Coming (15:23)|
|At the Trumpet (24:31)||=||At the Trumpet (4:16)||=||At the Trumpet (15:52)|
|Dead Raised, All Gathered (24:31)||=||Dead Raised (4:16)||=||Dead Raised (15:35-44)|
|All Living Gathered
|=||Living Caught Together to Him (4:17)||=||Status of Living Changed (15:51)|
PREMISE #1: The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD 70 (according to Partial Preterists and Full Preterists)
PREMISE #2: The parousia/coming of Christ in Matthew 24 is the source material and descriptive of the same coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 1 Corinthians 15 (according to Classical Amillennialists and Full Preterists)
CONCLUSION: The ONE parousia/coming of Christ as described for us in Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4-5, and 1 Corinthians 15 was fulfilled 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 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.”
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).
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.
CONCLUDING 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.
Christ confronts man’s depravity while eschatological systems and “revelations” from alleged end time “prophets” such Muhammad feed man’s 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 Americans or even the black community! Obama is living in an alternate universe 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 (whom 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.”
Modern day Judaism has no divine right to the OT Promised Land either. As we have seen 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 – being in Messiah or “in Christ.” Like Dispensational Zionists, they are willing to twist such passages as Ezekiel 37 to fit their agenda. And since they have interpreted end time battle scenes such as Ezekiel 38-39 to WWI and WWII, they no doubt will once again begin fitting these texts into an end time holy war (when it will benefit them) — 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 as we have seen it’s “gospel” (ex. John Haggee’s) presentation to “Jews” is not the gospel, and it follows the same Christ-rejecting theology of the Jews in Jesus’ day in denying the spiritual nature of Jesus’ kingdom while trying to usher in their own (literal and carnal) kingdom expectations.
I am a Conservative Republican, but I should note that it is very hypocritical of FOX News (which I watch everyday) to go after Obama and the bad theology of his church and then BLINDLY ignore the horrendous bad theology/eschatology of Mormonism (Mitt Romney), “Evangelical” Dispensationalism (Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, etc..), and Seventh Day Adventism (Ben Carson). We don’t want leaders with bad theology/eschatology trying to form foreign policy in the Middle East that possibly think what is taking place is the “fulfillment of Bible prophecy” – and may be willing to give it a nudge in the WRONG DIRECTION. Selah.
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.
When the media claims this conflict will ultimately be won through a “war of ideas” what it really means is it will be won through a “war of eschatological debate” – played out over a long period of time. First, before seeking to take the speck out of others eyes, we need to take the forest growing in ours here in the U.S. by correcting these false views coming from “Bible prophecy experts” spewing forth their errors on the TV, radio, and Christian bookstore shelves – moving to a solid and Biblical view (ie. Full Preterism). Secondly, we ultimately know that a correct view of Jesus (as God) and His kingdom (spiritual and “within” – not earthly) will need to make its way into Judaism and Islam – converting them to Biblical Christianity before real healing can begin.
It has been my prayer and goal in writing these three articles to begin these debates and discussions in order to achieve the peace that is necessary and that I believe will eventually come over time. May God extend the borders and influence of these articles to reach as many as possible. Now that you have read them, you are now responsible in sharing them with others and being a positive and edifying voice in this discussion. Lord bless!
Part 1 Islam – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology: https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-1-islam/
Part 2 Judaism – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology:https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-of-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-2-judaism-the-article-facebook-doesnt-want-yo/
Part 3 “Christian” Dispensational Zionism – Refuting and Healing “Holy Land” “End Time” “Holy War” Eschatology: https://fullpreterism.com/a-full-preterist-response-to-holy-land-end-time-holy-war-eschatologies-part-3-christian-dispensational-zionism/
 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/
 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, (Ramona, CA, Second Edition, 2014), 179-180.