THE ESCHATOLOGICAL TIME TEXTS IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW PART #2
By: Michael J. Sullivan
The Olivet Discourse
12) “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Mt.24:34)
Mathison claims that “this generation” can possibly mean “the Jewish people” or a future generic generation that will see the sign events begin to unfold (WSTTB?, p.179). This is more than puzzling since in his books in defending Postmillennialim and refuting Dispensationalism, he tells his readers they can “know” from how genea is used throughout Matthew and the rest of the new testament, that “this generation” is addressing the contemporary 40 year generation leading to Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D.70!
On top of this embarrassment, he offers no real exegesis of the Olive Discourse in an attempt to refute our position. Even in his other two eschatological works refuting Dispensationalism and seeking to defend Postmillennialism, his exegesis is “shallow” and in typical postmillennial partial preterist fashion does not offer much past Mt.24:34. As a partial postmillennial preterist I always found this frustrating. I wanted to know why when Christ came as a thief in Revelation that was an A.D. 70 coming but when He came as a thief in Mt.24:43 that just had to be the second and final coming because it was in the alleged “second section” of the discourse. I wanted to know why the coming of Christ in power and great glory with angels to gather the elect and bring the kingdom got turned into two completely different comings spread out over thousands of years in (Mt.24:30-31/Lk.21:27-31/Mt.16:27:28 with Mt.25:31-34). But since you don’t really find partial preterists discussing much past verse 34 in their writings your questions never get answered. Authors such as Kik, Bahnsen, Gentry, and Mathison are only interested in being preteristic in Mt.24:4-34 so they can get the Great Tribulation behind the church in order to promote their understanding of an “eschatology of victory” or a coming golden age of postimillennialism. That is why they always want to debate “The Tribulation Past or Future” with dispensationalists and get frustrated when their opponents push for consistency in their hermeneutics like I am pressing and will continue to do so.
Mathison understands all of these verses in Mt.24:24:4-34 to all be fulfilled by A.D. 70. I will not be giving an in-depth exegesis of the Olivet Discourse here since I agree with a lot (not all) of what Mathison has to say of the discourse up through vs.34. Therefore, I will focus my attention on issues he ignores or I disagree with which are:
a) “The end of the age” (Mt.24:1-3). Mathison affirms that the end of the age is referring to the end of the new-covenant or Church age. I affirm the contextual setting is the end of the old-covenant age with the destruction of its temple in A.D. 70. The temples destruction is the focal event of the end of the Mosaic age not the new covenant or the destruction of the planet!
b) “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Lk.21:22). Mathison affirms that Jesus was NOT teaching that all old testament prophecy concerning His second coming, judgment, and resurrection would occur in His “this generation.” I affirm that Jesus was indeed saying that all the eschatological promises made to Israel contained in the law and the prophets would find their fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem Mt.24:15/Dan.12:1-7 – “all these things.”
c) Mathison affirms that the Son of Man coming on the clouds is the ascension (Mt.24:30/Dan.7:13-14) and that Christ sending angels to gather the elect refers to the great commission of the disciples and Christians today preaching the gospel pre and post A.D. 70. He affirms the “trumpet” to be – well he doesn’t tell us. I affirm that Christ coming on the clouds in glory and power with the angels to gather the elect with the sound of the trumpet to redeem – to all be referring to the second and final eschatological coming of Jesus and the resurrection occurring at the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70 (Mt.24:30-31/Lk.21:27-28 – Dan.7:9-27; Isa.27:12-13; Mt.13:39-43; 16:27-28; Rms.8:18-23; 1Cor.15:51-52; 1Thess.4:2, 16-17; Rev.10-11).
d) Mathison affirms that the Olivet Discourse teaches two judgments and two comings of Christ separated by thousands of years. I affirm the discourse is united in teaching one second coming but laid out in the prophetic form of recapitulation as is the book of Revelation.
A) The “end of the age” Mt.24:1-3.
Mathison does not offer any significant discussion of the disciples question on the “end of the age” in association with Christ’s return and the destruction of the temple which is the context of the discussion as a whole Mt.23:38-24:1-3. He does not seek to harmonize Matthew’s account with Mark and Luke’s where the phrase is missing Mrk.13:4;Lk.21:7. This is odd because he seeks to harmonize the abomination of desolation differences in Matthew and Luke’s accounts as referring to one subject. In other words Mathison sees the two writers describing the same event but differently. The same is true of the addition of “and the end of the age” in Matthew’s account along with the parables which are not included in the other gospel accounts. Matthew’s gospel is flavored more with a Jewish texture and tone and adds some things that Mark and Luke do not, but this in no way can be seen as teaching two different comings or that the end of the planet was ever the topic because of Mathew recording “the end of the age.” Matthew’s account is in harmony with Mark and Luke’s in understanding the temples destruction is when Jesus would return. Contextually the discussion of the temples destruction marks the end of the old- covenant age not the new-covenant age!
Mathison instead of following sound hermeneutics merely assumes the disciples asked questions that contained “erroneous assumptions” (Postmillennialism, p.1113). At this point eschatological schizophrenia has set in for all of the authors of WSTTB?. For example Gentry in his debate with Thomas Ice on the Tribulation, out of the preterist side of his personality acknowledges that the phrase “end of the age” refers to the time when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But then realizing that he may be becoming a “hyper-preterist” with these comments or leading others down that path, somehow at the same time wants to claim the disciples were confused about the term “end of the age” thus proving(?) the discourse should be divided into two prophetic subject matters:“In these questions we sense once again the bewilderment among the disciples at Jesus’ teaching—a bewilderment such as is seen elsewhere in Matthew, as in their confusion about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (16:6-12), Christ’s death (vv. 21-23), the purpose of the Transfiguration (17:4-5), Christ’s interest in children (19:13-15), and the nature of kingdom service (20:20-25). Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer: (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”
It is important for Gentry and Mathison to introduce this “confusion” on the part of the disciples in order for them to slip in a subject matter such as the end of the planet and another coming of Christ post A.D.70 of which the disciples never asked about or Jesus answered or gave instruction on. Gentry ends up proving our case because in every one of the examples he cites to “prove” the disciples were confused, Matthew as a responsible narrator or Jesus as a teacher, knowing the hearts of all men, makes it clear they were confused and a correction ensues in those very texts! If the disciples were confused in associating the end of the age and Jesus’ second coming with the fall of the temple and Jerusalem, Matthew as a narrator or Jesus would have pointed out the confusion as is the case everywhere else in the gospel! Of course Mathison nor Gentry mention that the disciples clearly said they understood Jesus’ teaching about the end of their old-covenant “this age” in (Mt.13:51). Heaven forbid that they appeal to such a straightforward text on what the disciples knew about the end of their “this age.”
Interestingly Mathison does not mention some of his postmillennial partial preterist colleagues making very “hyper-preterist” statements here on the “end of the age” as being the end of the old-covenant age. They clearly claim this has nothing to do with the destruction of the planet or the end of history:
“The “woes” of Matthew 23 and the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem were a result of all that John the Baptist and Jesus had been warning the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests regarding the judgment that would come upon them if they did not repent. “All these things,” Jesus cautioned, “shall come upon this generation” (23:36). It is after hearing about the desolation of their “house” – the temple – that the disciples ask about the “temple buildings” (24:1). Jesus answered the disciples’ questions relating to the time and signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, always with the background of Matthew 23 in view, since His comments in that chapter had precipitated the questions (24:3). The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of Jerusalem. This would be the “sign” of the “end of the age,” the end of the Old Covenant, and the consummation of the New Covenant.”
Clearly Gary has identified the topic and fulfillment of the discourse to be referring to the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70 and not the end of world history or the end of the new-covenant age. In fact he says that when the old age ended is when the new age was “consummated” not “inaugurated.” The term “end of the age” in the gospels is a unique term only found in Mathew’s gospel (Mt.13:39-40; 24:3; Mt.28:20). Earlier in Matthew, Jesus posited the resurrection and judgment of Daniel’s prophecy in Dan.12, to be fulfilled within His Mosaic old-covenant “this age.” Therefore, hermeneutically there is no reason to see why Jesus or Matthew would use the phrase any differently here. And vice versa, for those postmillennial or evangelical “partial preterists” that admit “the end of the age” in Mt.24:3 is addressing the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70, they need to demonstrate why Matthew or Jesus used “the end of this age” differently in Mt.13:39-43 to be referring to the end of the new-covenant age which hadn’t even been inaugurated in the blood of Christ yet Mt.26:28; Heb.8-10.
Mathison correctly says of interpreting the Olivet Discourse, “The interpretation of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse will have profound effects upon any study of eschatology. Many erroneous eschatological theories are based upon a fundamentally flawed approach to this portion of God’s word.” (Postmillennialism, p.111). Mathison offers NO exegesis of “the end of the age” and instead assumes and inserts his “erroneous theory” that it refers to the end of the planet or Church age in the critical texts without exegetical evidence!
B) “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Lk.21:22).
In a desperate attempt to refute our position Mathison throws out the possibility Jesus and the new testament authors taught their predictions could be double fulfilled or partially fulfilled like some old testament prophecies had been, “If the Bible provides us with our basic hermeneutical standard, then the fact that several Old Testament prophecies had multiple fulfillments means that we cannot rule out the possibility that New Testament prophecies may also have multiple fulfillments.” (WSTTB?, p.168, 180). There is no dispute from us that old testament prophecy contained typology or partial fulfillments, but where Mathison and his co-authors loose this debate is: 1) Jesus and the new-testament authors specifically teach their predictions are those of the old-testament prophets. 2) Peter moved by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Jn.14:26; 16:13; 2Pet.1:16-21) taught the old-testament prophets were predicting things that would be fulfilled in the lifetimes of his first century audience and not any other period. Reiterating the words of Jesus, Peter instructed “the church in Babylon / Jerusalem” (1Pet.5:13) that the second coming of Jesus and the consummation of “all things” the old-testament prophets predicted was “at hand” (1Pet.1:4-12; 4:5, 7, 17; Acts 2:5-40; 3:19-23). This included the judgment and thus the resurrection of the “living and the dead.”
When Paul boldly proclaimed the gospel or offered an apologetic to his accusers and brethren according to the flesh, to whom pertained all the covenant promises of God Rms.9:3; 15:8-11, he assured them he was ONLY teaching things that were found in their own Scriptures – the Law and the Prophets. Paul’s apologetic was that the judgment and resurrection (“the hope of Israel”) which was “about to come,” in his preaching was the fulfillment of the promises found in the Law and the Prophets Acts 17, 24, 26, 28; 1Cor.10:11! “The new testament is the old testament revealed” not only in the spiritual nature of that fulfillment for the Church, but also in an imminent A.D. 70 time frame for fulfilling those old testament promises! The N.T. is not predicting a different second coming, a different judgment, and a different general resurrection than the old-testament prophets predicted were coming. Jesus and the new-testament authors are very CLEAR that their predictions are not more types or more partial fulfillments, but the very substance/anti-types of what the old-testament prophets foretold was coming.
In seeking to muddy Jesus’ clear words here, Mathison appeals to Lk.18:31 where “all things” being fulfilled about the Son of Man does not refer to the second coming, but clearly His passion. Mathison reasons then that “all things” to be fulfilled in Lk.21:22 is allegedly not addressing His second coming but only those prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (WSTTB?, p.171-172). Of course the context of the Lk.18:31 passage is Jesus instructing the disciples that He is about to go to Jerusalem to be crucified so the prophetic “all things” refer to Him going as the Passover Lamb in fulfillment of those passion prophecies! Whereas the context of Lk.21:22 is Jesus’ second coming in which He will come on the clouds of heaven (as His Father had in judgment in the old testament – WSTTB?, p.162-163) to Jerusalem through invading armies—verses 20-27. This time not as the Lamb coming to Jerusalem to be slaughtered but as the triumphant King/Lion in judgment upon those who had slain Him and His Apostles and Prophets! Mathison assumes what he needs to prove in that the Olivet Discourse is allegedly predicting two different comings of Christ separated by thousands of years, so he assumes “all things which are written may be fulfilled” only applies to Christ coming in the fall of Jerusalem. You know what they say when you assume things. Since Mathison is so desparate to find arguments against us, he is now pawning off the multiple fulfillment of theory of New Testament prophecy along side of dispensationalists. Based upon this “possibility,” is there any reason he shouldn’t believe that the Olivet Discourse has in view the destruction of another literal rebuilt temple in Israel’s near future other than the one Jesus and the disciples were talking about? After all the destruction and judgment of the literal temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was just a foretaste of the “real” fulfillment to come in Israel’s “last days” right? Why not double fulfill the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation as well? The postmillennial system would surely fall apart and anyone could and has made up fallacious doctrines with Mathison’s double fulfillment hermeneutic and he knows it!
To further my case that the Olivet Discourse includes ALL the eschatological events to occur in Jesus’ contemporary generation I will appeal to Daniel 12:1-7. This debate is easily won in appealing to this passage which has conveniently gone without exegesis by Mathison or any of his co-authors in his allegedly “meticulous” “scholarly” and “devastating” refutation of us. The only thing that is mentioned of this text is Mathison’s unsubstantiated claim that this is an example of a “nonspecific time frame” prophecy (WSTTB?, p.164). But Jesus makes the time frame of Daniel’s prophecy very specific! Mathison and I agree that the armies surrounding Jerusalem and their desolating the City in Lk.21:20-22 is equivalent to Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation being fulfilled in Mt.24:15 (Postmillennialism, p.113). Therefore, Daniel’s prophecy of the abomination of desolation Mt.24:15 EQUALS the “all things which are written may be fulfilled” Lk.21:22. If I can prove from Daniel’s prophecy that the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation is the time when the tribulation, judgment, and resurrection of the dead occur, then I will have proven that “ALL (the eschatological promises) THINGS” foretold in the old testament occurred in A.D. 70.
|Daniel 12:1-12||Olivet Discourse|
|1) Tribulation and Abomination that causes Desolation (vss.1 & 12)||1) Tribulation and Abomination that causes desolation (Mt.24:15, 21/Lk.21:20-23).|
|2) Judgment & Deliverance (v.1)||2) Judgment & Deliverance(Lk.21:18-22, 28; Mt.24:13)|
|3) Resurrection (vss.2-3)||3) Resurrection (Mt.24:30-31/Mt.13:40-43/Lk.21:27-28|
|4) The End (vss.4, 6, 8-9, 13||4) The End (Mt.24:13-14)|
|5) When? “…when the power [The Law] of the holy people [Israel] has been completely shattered [the temple], all these things [including the judgment and resurrection] shall be finished. “But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (vss.7, 13)||5) When? “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things [judgment & resurrection] be fulfilled.” (Mt.24:1, 34)|
I find it very interesting that when Jesus says “all these things” will be fulfilled in His contemporary generation, Mathison admits “all (the eschatological) things” or events preceding this statement were fulfilled by A.D.70. How is it then, Mathison cannot equally admit that “all these things” in Dan.12:7 refers to the judgment and resurrection that were under discussion and that Daniel specifically asked about??? The text does not say “some” or “most” things (so as to isolate the tribulation or abomination of desolation from the judgment & resurrection), that had been discussed and revealed but “all things.” Then there is the “common sense” observation that Jesus’ “all things” includes Daniel’s which supports our interpretation of Jesus’ comments in Lk.21:22 that all old testament prophecy would be fulfilled in His generation. Which leads me to my next area of disagreement with Mathison, being his insistence that the coming of Christ in Mt.24:30-31 and Lk.21:27-28 is not the final second coming and resurrection or redemption of the Body event. C) Mt.24:30-31; Lk.21:27-32: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth/(land MJS) will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. “When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” Mathison once again takes the passage out of its context, but instead of projecting the prophecy with the “end of the age” as thousands of years past A.D. 70, unassociated with the temples destruction, he now wants to say Christ coming on the clouds here is allegedly referring to Jesus coming/going on the clouds away from Jerusalem “up” to the Father at the ascension Dan.7:13-14 (WSTTB?, p.185). These texts and the “analogy of Scripture” hermeneutic is where the crack within the “House Divided” is most seen. Most evangelicals and reformed believers understand these references to Christ’s coming to involve his final coming associated with the judgment and resurrection. They are correct on this point! In fact using the “analogy of Scripture” John Murray makes these connections but oddly when we parallel the same passages we are falsely accused of using a cryptic or cultish code. On the other side you have men like Owen, Lightfoot, Mathison, Gentry, Sproul, and DeMar who understand the prophetic and non-literal language of God coming on the clouds and the necessity to see “all these things” prior to verse 34 to be all fulfilled in the “this generation” of A.D.70. And they are correct on this point! When we combine the truth or the main propositions from both sides we get our position. We correctly apply the “analogy of the new testament teaching” to (Mt.24:27-31/Lk.21:27-32 with Acts 1:11; Roms.8; 1Cor.15; 1Thess.4-5, 2Thess.1-2, and Rev.1:7). BUT when their own theologians make the same parallels they can just “agree to disagree.” This is not acseptible.
But what of Mathison teaching the coming of Christ in Mt.24:30 is both:1) the ascension “going” and 2) “a” “coming” to Jerusalem in A.D.70? Is it justifiable for Mathison and others to claim Mt.24:30 is not the second coming but the ascension using Dan.7:13-14 as their proof text? Is this passage in Daniel referring to the ascension or second coming?
1). Daniel 7:9-27 – The Son of Man coming on the clouds is contextually filled with the judgment and second coming themes not the ascension. In fact most of the commentators see a connection between (Dan.7:13-14 & Mt.24:30) not to the Son of Man coming on the clouds “up” to the Father at the ascension, but to Jesus coming on the clouds at His second coming. Of the 18 different translations I looked at only 3 translates the text with Jesus coming “up.” This is because Jesus is described as the Ancient of Days in Daniel’s vision (Dan.7:9/Rev.1:14). Indeed, “In the LXX version of Daniel 7:13 the translator has interpreted ‘he came to the Ancient of Days’ as ‘he came as the Ancient of Days’.
2). Zechariah 12-14 The Tribes of the Land mourning. Mathison in his work on Postmillennialism says of verse 30, “The “tribes of the earth” who mourn are either the Jewish tribes in the “land” (ge in Greek) or the Jewish tribes scattered throughout the Empire. The “coming” of the Son of Man is His coming in judgment upon Jerusalem (see vv.23-28), which is intimately connected with His ascension to the right hand of God (cf. Dan. 7:13-14).” (Postmillennialism, p.114). Well, which is it? Is Christ coming on the clouds in verse 30 in judgment upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70, or is it Him “coming up” at the ascension? Amazingly the reformed Hyper-Creedalists see Mt.24:30 as teaching three comings of Christ: 1) A coming in the ascension, 2) A coming of Christ in judgment upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and 3) The “unmistakable last coming of the Son of Man” (WSTTB?, pp.71-72). “Common sense” says the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds in Mt.24:30 is referring to the second coming to occur in Jesus’ “this generation” to put an “end” to the old-covenant age. There is no need to redefine the coming here as an ascension “going”!
3) Isaiah 27:12-13 Virtually any good cross reference system or commentary on Mt.24:30-31 or 1Cor.15 and 1Thess.4 concerning the gathering or trumpet call in these passages, will have Isa.27 or the block of “Isaiah’s little apocalypse” Isa.24-27, as the old testament fulfillment or echo that Jesus and Paul are referring to. I found it interesting when Gary DeMar was debating Thomas Ice on the kind of language (literal or figurative) Jesus was referring to in the de-creation of Mt.24:29, DeMar said he knew it was figurative because of Jesus appealing to and echoing the language in Isa.13. Well, Gary, Mathison, and Gentry, this is why I know Jesus nor Paul has in view physical bodies being raised at the end of time, because Jesus and Paul are echoing the eschatological context of Isa.24-27 which has nothing to do with a corpse resurrection associated with the de-creation of planet earth. The context of these chapters is that Israel has violated her old-covenant law and was corporately and spiritually killed and would return (gathered with a trumpet call) and be raised back to life corporately into her land under Ezra and Nehemiah (cf.Ezk.37). Therefore, the gathering and resurrection in Mt.24:30-31 and 1Cor.15 is also a corporate and spiritual gathering into the new covenant kingdom in A.D. 70 when the old would die and would never rise again in its covenantal standing before God.
4). Revelation 1:7 Is a parallel passage to Mt.24:30 and both are taken from Zech.12:10. In the Rev.1:7 text it is even clearer that the “mourning” involved here is coming from a judgment scene in which Christ is judging those Jews that were responsible for “piercing” Him. They would “see” “understand’ or “perceive” Mrk.1:44; Lk.17:22; Jn.3:36 through the sign of the troops surrounding Jerusalem and its destruction that Christ had indeed come just as He had promised. The church would now be able to spiritually perceive and understand that the scepter had departed from Judah and that Christ had glorified Himself in and through His people. Since: 1) all agree that the coming of Jesus on the clouds associated with the tribes of the earth/land being judged or mourning in Mt.24:30/Rev.1:7 are referring to the same event, and 2) Mathison and Gentry agree the texts are fulfilled in A.D. 70, then 3) there should be no doubt that the coming of the Son of Man in these texts is referring to the period of A.D. 66 – A.D. 70 exclusively. I must ask, “Which of Jesus’ enemies were mourning let alone saw Him ascend?” Throughout the book of Revelation Christ coming on the clouds in (Rev.1:7) was something that would take place “shortly” and would be “near” or “soon” not some cloud coming/going that had taken place some 30 years earlier at the ascension!
D) Mathison’s two sections / two second comings theory refuted
Mathison’s division theory is based on the following points:
“1. Verse 34 is a concluding statement. If everything in chapters 24 and 25 was fulfilled in the first century, it would make more sense to place verse 34 at the very end. Everything after verse 34 is not a prophecy about “this generation.”
2. There is a distinct contrast between what is near in verse 34 and far in verse 36—“this generation verses “that day.”
3. Before verse 34, the plural “days” is used. After verse 34, the singular “day is used.2. There are a multitude of signs of the coming in judgement before verse 34. There are no signs after verse 34. Before verse 34 fase christs, earthquakes, famines, wars, and other such signs enable observers to know for certain that judgment is near (vv.32-33). After verse 34, no one can know (v.36). It will be a complete surprise (vv.39, 42, 44, 50).3. Jesus claims He doesn’t know the time of His second coming (v.36). But He knows the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (24:6, 25, 29, 30, 34).
4. Before verse 34, there is a short time frame of forty years (v.34). After verse 34, the time frame is long (24:48; 25:5, 19).” (Mathison, Dispensationalism ibid., pp.143-144.)
1) “This generation” and recapitulation.
Mathison argues that if Jesus wanted to say all of the discourse would be fulfilled in Jesus’ generation it would have made more sense for Him to say it at the end of Mt.25. John Murray was at least more correct than Mathison in seeing the structure of Mt.24-25 as involving “to some extent recapitulation” similar to how the book of Revelation is laid out. “1. The discourse, as to structure, is recapitulatory to a considerable extent. It is not, therefore, continuously progressive. We are repeatedly brought to the advent and informed of its various features, concomitants, and consequences (vss. 14, 29-31, 37-41, 25:31-46). We should expect, for this reason, that revelation respecting the future would in other cases follow this pattern.” Murray has identified 4 consumations/conclusions within the discourse while at the same time maintaining the discourse is addressing ONE second coming throughout. Murray for example was more correct than Mathison, in understanding verses 4-14 as describing the “interadventual history” in which the great commission of verse 14 would bring about the “consumation” to the “end of the age” the disciples asked about in verse 3. This section forms its own “conclusion” in that one of the main signs which will function as an imminent precursor to His return is the fulfillment of the great commission. Now in verses 15-34, more recapitulation is involved in that the sign of the abomination of desolation will mark an imminent end or consumation of Christ’s return in “this generation.” So at the very outset Mathison’s outline of the discourse of Jesus teaching only two “conclusions” or sections with two totally different comings of Christ and judgments is erroneous. It is his view that “doesn’t make sense.” Jesus’ statements and His recapitulation in the Olivet Discourse and in the book of Revelation “make sense” as they are. Jesus placing “this generation” at verse 34 instead of at the end of Mt.25 “doesn’t make sense” to Mathison because of his biased partial preterist presupositions he reads into the discourse and his failure to see recapitulation being used. This is even further brought out with a harmony of Luke 17:20-37 thrown into the picture.
2) The “those days” (plural) vs. “that day” (singular) “argument.”
The “last day” or “that day” (singular), is simply the last day of the “last days” or those days (plural). Peter uses the terms “last time” (singular) and “last times” (plural) to be saying the same thing Jesus was – ALL the prophecies in the old testament concerning the Messiah’s judgment and salvation would be accomplished in an “at hand” “last time” “last days” or “this generation” time period 1Pet.1:5-20, 4:5, 7, 17; Acts 2:40/Lk.21:22-32. One does not have to be a rocket scientist or have a Masters degree in theology to see this. As we have seen Mathison to some extent, and Gentry most definitely, understands the de-creation and “last hour” of the Anti-Christ’s in 1Jn.2:17-18 to be the fuffillment of the “signs” section and an A.D.70 coming of the Lord in Mt.24:23-34. Are we to believe that the “last hour” applies to the “days” (plural) of the Olivet Discourse but the “last hour” (singular) does not apply to the “last day” (singular)? No one is buying this and if they have they need to ask for a refund based on “common sense”! In Luke 17’s account of the second coming, both “days” and “day” are used interchangably together describing the same event:
a). “For the Son of Man in His DAY will be like the lightening,…” (vs.24).
b). “…so also will it be in the DAYS of the Son of Man” (vs.26).
c). “It will be just like this on the DAY the Son of Man is revealed” (vs.30).
d). “On that DAY…” (vs.31). Jesus uses “days” (plural) and “day” (singular) in refering to the judgments of Noah and the destruction of Sodom as an example of His second coming.
Of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17 Mathison says, “Which coming Christ is refering to here is open to serious debate.” (Postmillennialism, p.213). There is NO “serious debate” about it! It’s only a debate if one accepts the premise of Mathison and Gentry that Jesus taught two second comings of which most reformed and evangelicals find exegetically untenable as we do! The context of the second coming passage in Luke 17 is brought on by the question of the Pharisees as to WHEN the Kingdom would come Lk.17:20. Jesus anwers the question of when – by explaining that when it does come it will not be something anyone will be able to see with their eyes and will be directly synonomous with the time of His return—verses 21-37. The context of WHEN the kindom comes is the foundation to the Olivet Discourse as well. The disciples and Jesus understood from the law and the prophets that with the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven, is when entrance and inheritance into the kingdom would be granted (Dan.7, 9, 12; Lk.21:6-7, 27, 31-32).
To further lay waist this eschatological schizophrenia of two second comings proposed by Mathison all we need to do is further harmonizing Matthew 24’s alleged two sections or comings of Christ with Luke 17. Please note that someone forgot to tell Luke to organize his material in a partial preterist “section A” coming and a “section B” coming chronology. Partial preterists have wrongly divided and twisted Matthew 24-25. Please pay careful attention to the numbering of the eschatological events tied to an alleged section “A” coming and section “B” coming with how they are described to the disciples and for us in Luke 17 as mixed events:
Alleged section “A” (“a” coming of Christ in A.D.70 before vs. 34)
1) vss. 17,18 – “Let him which is on the housetop not come down…”
2) vs. 26-27 – “For just as the lightning comes from the east…”
3) vs.28 – “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Section B (“The” second – third(?) coming of Christ vs. 36ff.)
4) vss. 37-39 – “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.”
5) vss. 40.41 – “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.”
Luke 17 One section describing one second coming (events mixed and nonsensical if Matheson’s division theory of Mt.24 is correct)
2) vss. 23, 24 – “For just as the lightning, when it flashes…”
4) vss.26,27 – “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man” 1) vs. 31- “On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop…”
1) vss.31 – “On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop…”
5) vss. 35,36 – “There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left.
3) vs. 37 – “…Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered.”
The Matthew 24 and Luke 17 parallels present problems for all futurist eschatologies, but they effectively destroy the postmillennial partial preteris position of Marcellous Kik, Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, and Keith Matheson as well. If Mt. 24 deals with two different parousias of Christ with events leading up to two different time periods, then Luke’s account is incorrect. Either Luke was wrong in mixing up these events or “creedal preterists” are wrong in dividing up Mt.24 into two sections with two comings of Christ. Both Matthew 24 and Luke 17 speak of the same “days” time period that were leading up to Christ’s revelation “DAY.”
John Lightfoot accurately said of Mrk.13:32, “Of what day and hour? That the discourse is of the day of the destruction of Jerusalem is so evident, both by the disciples’ question, and by the whole thread of Christ’s discourse, that it is a wonder any should understand these words of the day and hour of the last judgment.” (Lightfoot, Vol.2 p.442, ibid).
Signs vs. no signs and Christ coming as a “thief”
In Mathison’s argument #4 he reasons that since there are specific signs that are mentioned before verse 34 and there are none mentioned after this verse, that this somehow proves there are two sections with two different comings of Christ involved. Hmm. I think a more “common sense” approach might be that Jesus has finished answering the disciple’s questions as far as what specific signs to look for and not to look for in indicating His imminent return and is now going to give some further teaching and exhortations on being ready and watchful for these events! But doesn’t the fact Jesus exhorts the disciples after verse 34 to “watch,” “pray,” and “be ready” have some connection with being discerning of the signs He had just mentioned? Jesus has just finished answering the disciples question regarding the signs of His return and is now going to illustrate through the use of various parables the necessity of being ready and watching for the same events the disciples asked about and that He had just answered in verses 4-34. This is not difficult folks.
Day and Hour Unknown and Signs and No Signs cont…
Obviously there is no contradiction to Christ saying His second coming would occur within His generation and the Father not revealing the 24 hour day. Where did any of the new testament writers predict Christ would return on any specific 24 hour day? There were signs given that would narrow the imminence down from a “this generation” time period to a “we see the Day approaching” and “the end of all things are at hand,” but they would still not know the exact day and hour of His coming.
I have labored primarily in 1 & 2 Thessalonians demonstrating that Matheson’s “this generation” A.D.70 signs were present in these epistles proving1 Thess.4-5 follows Mt.24 in teaching a united first century coming of Christ to raise the dead, judge, and give salvation to His elect. Signs are present everywhere in the new testament in areas Mathison and Gentry don’t want them. This will be clear as we develop the time texts throughout the new testament.
“This generation” vs. “A long time”
“Before verse 34, there is a short time frame of forty years (v.34). After verse 34, the time frame is long (24:48; 25:5, 19).” (Mathison, Dispensationalism ibid., pp.143-144.)
To be thorough, I will also cover Lk.19 since many appeal to this text as well. In Luke 19:11 many having listened to John the Baptist and Jesus’ declarations of the “kingdom being at hand” thought they were teaching the kingdom would come “immediately” or “at once” (Greek eggus). In response to that “immediate” mindset, Jesus gives the parable of the “Ten Minas” where He describes Himself as one going away into a far country to receive the rights to be King over Israel and then traveling back, as going into a “distant country” or taking a long journey (Lk.19:12ff.) Jesus’ listeners would not gather from Jesus’ parable of the man going to a “distant country” as taking thousands of years! Jesus also understood that many false prophets would arise making premature statements that the kingdom was again “immediately” (Greek eutheos) going to appear when in fact it was not (Lk.21:19). Jesus’ teaching of His coming and kingdom arriving in “this generation” Lk.21:27-32 was some 40 years removed from the false concept that He was teaching an “immediate” arrival or that general wars and earthquakes marked the nearness of His parousia and kingdom. There were certain events that needed to transpire first such as the great commission throughout the Jewish and Roman world.
Mathison’s first appeal is to the wicked servant who interprets His master being gone as a “long time” and beats his fellow servants and drinks with other drunkards Mt.24:48-49. Obviously the servant was punished within his own lifetime so where is the thousand year delay of Christ taught here? Since Mathison takes 1Thess.5 as Christ coming in A.D.70, isn’t the real question here, “why doesn’t Mathison see a connection between this servant getting drunk with Christ coming “suddenly” in the A.D. 70 judgment that he sees taking place in 1Thess.5:3-7? Another of Mathison’s proof texts for a 2,000+ year “delay” of Christ’s return is found in Jesus’ teaching of the ten virgins in Mt.25:5 where He says, “the bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Jesus’ first century audience were aware of the Jewish wedding scene of a man being betrothed to a woman up to a year while he prepared a home for them. He could come at any time to “snatch” 1Thess.4:17 her from her life and existence under her father to himself. Because of this she needed to be excited and ready not sluggish and doubtful of his love. The foolish virgins considered this a “long time” and were not ready and fell asleep. Because they viewed this as taking to long and were “foolish,” they did not make preparations of buying oil for His surprise arrival. No one listening to Jesus’ words here would consider this parable as teaching a 2,000 + years “long time” as Mathison has interpreted it to mean. They would interpret “long time” in the context of a persons lifetime along with the other parables and would consider it being consistent with Jesus’ 30 – 40 year “this generation” teaching. But once again, the real question here for Mathison is “why doesn’t he see the 5 foolish virgins “falling asleep” as corresponding to Christ coming “suddenly” in the A.D.70 judgment upon those who were of the darkness and were not “alert” but “asleep” as in 1Thess.5:4-7?
The other point once again is the time of the wedding is when the city was burned in A.D. 70 Mt.22:7. The wedding marks the “consummation” and Mathison needs to be pressed on this! How many weddings, judgments, and consumations are there in the gospels and the new testament Mr. Mathison?
The last reference is to the parable of the talents in Mt.25:19. Again all the points I made above apply here as well. The servant was not “alert” (cf. 1Thess.5:6) but “lazy”-verse 26 and “worthless”-verse 30! What he had was given to the faithful servants in verses 28-29 as the kingdom would be taken from the faithless apostates and given to the Church – the true Israel/Nation of God Mt.21:33-45. Mathison also assumes that 40 years is a “short time.” Relatively speaking in the world and Israel waiting thousands of years for salvation of the Messiah – this could be true. But if one is 20-30 years old or older during the time Jesus utters His “this generation” statement, 40 years is making one nearing the end of his life 60-70 or older. Therefore, in viewing from Israel’s redemptive history, fulfillment within 40 years could easily be considered “at hand,” but for a person’s lifetime 40 years was enough time to be tempted to think it may not occur and say in effect, “just look around man! Jesus promised He was going to come in our generation and we are all old grandpa’s about to keel over. Face the music, all things are going on in the temple just as they always have and Jesus hasn’t come back to do squat in our generation.” Oh thou foolish and unwise mocker!
“this generation”–the new exodus–& a 40 year millennium
Mathison and I agree that the term 1,000 years in Rev.20 is a symbolic number but he argues the number is symbolic of a long period and I argue it is simply symbolic for a complete and perfect pre-parousia reign of Christ between the two covenant ages. Therefore, “this generation” is the literal time frame for the millennium before Christ returned.
It may help to further strengthen my exegesis by examining the broader historical context of many in Jesus’ day that understood when Messiah came He would reign for forty years from “this age” (old covenant) to the “age to come” (new covenant). This belief was rooted in an understanding that Messiah would recapitulate Israel’s 40 year generation wilderness wandering period by rewarding them with gladness according to the years they had been afflicted (Ps.90:15-17; Ps.95:7-10). Speaking of the transition period of Messiah’s reign, Schoeps says some Rabbi’s considered it a “… short interval for the interim period, namely, forty years (R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus; Bar. In Sanh. 99a; R. Aqiba: Midr. Teh on Ps. 90:15; Tanch. Eqeb 7b, Pes. Rabb. 4a). The two Tannaites, commenting on Ps. 95:7, derive this time indication from the Messianically understood v. 10 (“forty years I loathed that generation” and from Deut. 8:2 by a parallelization with the forty years in the desert.” Now in a lengthy footnote Mathison concedes, “There may have been rabbis who used the term “millennium” to mean forty years. I am not an expert on the Midrash and Talmudic writings, so I cannot rule out such a possibility.” (WSTTB?p.210 n.71). Reformed writer G.K. Beale also concedes this point in his section on the millennium in Revelaiton, “There are numerous Jewish traditions about the nature and length of the future messianic reign. Some speculated that there would be no messianic reign at all, while others proposed periods of an intermediate reign from 40 to 365,000 years.”“see the surveys of rabbinic views in b. Sanhedrin 97a-b, 99a; Midr. Ps. 90:17; Pesikta Rabbati 1…”
Please note in my quotes above that one of the texts Rabbi’s derived a forty-year millennium from was Ps. 90:15, the very same Psalm Peter derives his thousand year statement in Ps. 90:4/2Pet.3:8. I will have more to say on that when we get in (2Pet.3). Here is one of the texts Jews used for a 40 year millennium, “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. Let the work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:15-17). It was understood that the work of their hands had reference to them building the tabernacle in the wilderness before entering the land. Rabbinical tradition saw this prayer of Moses “establish the work or our hands” and the preceding one in verse 16, as first prayed as a blessing on the work of the Tabernacle and its ornaments. Likewise, whenever God was going to do something new in Israel, this prayer would be recited. Well, God was definitely doing something “new” as the prophets had predicted and the time of the new covenant had come. The time for the child to mature into One New Man (both Jew & Gentile) had come and the new covenant temple was about to be built up.
The prayer begins with “Make us glad…for as many years (40 years) as we have seen trouble.” Moses and his generation wanted something better for their descendants. Even though their descendants lived to enter the land, the writer to the Hebrews tells us that “another day” and time period was ultimately spoken of by the prophets Heb.3-4. That “day” (singular) consistently traced through Hebrews would come at the end of the old-covenant age and in a “very little while” (Heb.9-10).
The Jews understood when Messiah would come in their “last days,” that He would recapitulate Israel’s history into a “new Passover” and “new exodus.” We discussed the significance of Jesus being tempted 40 days in the wilderness and Him coming into the land and taking possession of it by gathering 12 disciples and casting out demons. I see a new exodus inclusio beginning in chapter 4 and continuing all the way through Matthew’s gospel climaxing with the great commission being fulfilled by the end of the old-covenant age in A.D.70 Mt.28:19-20.
“Be glad” “this generation”
Continuing with the new exodus theme, Matthew 5 describes Jesus as the new Moses in giving a new law on a mountain – the Sermon on the Mount. The beatitudes of the new covenant Kingdom/Temple are announced and all begin with “blessed are the…” or “oh how happy are the…” and “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,…” Mt.5:1-12. Moses prayer that his descendants would know “gladness” for 40 years is being answered In Christ, the true tabernacle of God, and that unlike Moses grace and truth came from Him (Jn.1:4, 17) and his commandments are not burdensome (Jn.1:4, 17; Mt.11:25-28; 1Jn.5:3). Christ brought the remnant of Israel “gladness” and peace in Him through His millennial reign over their first century Jewish enemies prior to A.D.70. Even in the midst of persecution towards the end they experienced joy and peace that surpassed understanding and inner qualities that the old-covenant world could not give.
“Establish the works of our hands” “this generation”
God “established the works of the Apostles hands” as they laid their hands upon the believers and they received the Spirit – thus building up the new Temple/Church/Body and brining it to maturity. As the miraculous aid of the Holy Spirit was given in the building up of the old-covenant Tabernacle in the old testament, so too was He given in full measure to perform signs and wonders in “establishing the works of their hands” in building up the new covenant Temple/Body (Acts 2; 15). The foundation of this “work” would not be found as wood, hay, and straw, in the judgment, but rather gold, silver, and precious stones 1Cor.3:10–17; 2Cor.6:16; 1Pet.2:4-10; Ephs.2:14-22; Rev.21:10f.. This new covenant Temple/City according to the book of Revelation would be completed and descend out of heaven to earth in an “at hand” and “soon” time frame – not thousands of years. In a very “little while” their “works,” “labor,” and vindication approaching A.D.70 and following, would follow them into the very Holy of Holies Rev.6/Rev.14:13. The “beauty of the Lord” rested upon the first fruits Christians through the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and in A.D.70 God’s beauty and glory would be “within” His new creation Temple Jn.14:2-3, 23/Rev.21/22.
Here are some recapitulated “new exodus” parallels and themes accomplished by Christ and the early church during the millennial period:
1) An edict was sent out to kill the male children during the time of Moses Ex 1:22 and an edict was issued by Herod to kill the male children in hopes of killing Jesus Matt 2:16.
2) After killing the Egyptian Moses fled to Midian until the wrath of the king passed Ex 2:15. Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus to Egypt until the wrath of the king passed Matt 2:14.
3) God called Moses back to his country to be his people’s deliverer Ex 3:10 just as Jesus was called back to His country Matt 2:20 to be their deliverer.
4) God kept Moses 40 days in the wilderness before giving the law on a mountain Deut. 9:11; Ex.19. God kept Jesus 40 days in the wilderness before placing Him on a mount to give the new covenant law and thus the true interpretation of the old Mt. 4-5. Both received glory on top of a mountain. After fasting for 40 days, and tempted of the devil, Jesus quotes three scriptures found in the Exodus wilderness testing: Mt. 4:4/Deut 8:3; Mt. 4:7/Deut 6:16; Mt. 4:10/Deut 6:13 & Deut 10:20. After Jesus’ resurrection, He instructs the disciples concerning the kingdom for 40 days Acts 1:3.
5) Old-covenant Israel consisted of 12 tribes and Jesus is now going to restore Israel with an inner core of 12 disciples. The nations of the world consisted of a table of 70 nations Gen.10-11. Through Jacob came 70 descendants Ex.1:5. God through Moses appointed 70 elders Num 11:16 and they functioned early on as God’s high preists having the priviledge of being gathered to the holy place section of God’s temple/Moun Sinai Ex.24. Moses served as the High Priest and he alone could enter the Holy of Holies presence of God on top of the mountain. Later the 70 elders would consist of 120 ruling members of Jerusalem – the Sanhedrin. Jesus appointed 70 disciples Luke 10:1 to rule and conquer over the powers of darkness through the preaching of His kingdom. At Pentecost God gathered 120 disciples to wait and pray for power on high Acts 1:15. This would be God’s new Sanhedrin to rule over Israel through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the preaching of the gospel in Jerusalem, in all Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth/land Acts 1:3-8. At Pentecost “there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” Acts 2:5. The early church accomplished the great commission within Jesus’ “this generation” (Mt.24:14/Rms.10:18; Mk.13:10/Rms.16:25-26; Mk.16:15/Cols.1:23; Acts 1:8/Rms.10:18). The great commission is seen in the millennium in Revelation 20 with Satan being bound so that he could not deceive the “nations.” The great commission of the early church was successful and Christ came at the end of that period. We are Biblical postmillennialists unlike Mathison.
6) God’s old-covenant people were delivered from His judgment upon Egypt through the first Passover. This deliverance was substitutional in nature and was brought about through the shedding of a lamb’s blood. God’s new-covenant people were delivered from the wrath (“His blood be upon us and our children”) that would be poured out upon Jerusalem/Egypt/Rev.11:8 through the new covenant Passover blood of Jesus–the Lamb of God. In the first exodus death of the “first born” of humans and animals were to appease God’s wrath or a lamb’s blood. In the new covenant exodus Jesus is both the “first born” and the “Lamb.”
7) God forming old-covenant Israel during this time was a creating of the heavens and earth Isa.51:15-16. Through the cross and parousia of Jesus a new-covenant heavens and earth were being created and prepared by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of His people and they would take the place of the former old covenant one (Isa.65, Mt.5:17-18, Mt.24:35, 2Pet. 3, & Rev.21).
8) In the formation of old-covenant Israel, God was bringing about deliverance from the physical bondage and slavery of Egypt. In the new covenant transitionary period, God was creating and delivering a remnant of a new Israel out from the spiritual bondage and slavery of the old-covenant “elements of the world” which was the “bondage” of the law.
9) Fifty days after the first Passover and the giving of the law (Ex.19) 3,000 died for idolatry Ex.32:28. Fifty days after the Passover in Jesus’ blood 3,000 are saved and filled with the Spirit Acts 2.
10) There was a miraculous outpouring of the Spirits work in building the old-covenant physical tabernacle Ex.31:1-11. The A.D. 30 – 70 generation also saw the miraculous work of God in profound ways. There was a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s work in the “last days” in which the building and erecting of the spiritual new-covenant tabernacle/temple of God was taking place. The first was a physical building with the hands and the later was a spiritual building by the laying on of hands of the Apostles. The Church was and is clearly the new-covenant kingdom tabernacle or temple that was predicted by the prophets, Jesus being the corner stone (Acts 15/Amos 9; Mrk.12:10-11, Acts 4:11/Ps.118, Ephs 2:20, 1Pet.2:4-10/Ps.118, Isa.28:16; 1Cor.6:16/Ezk.37:26-27). Just as Mic.7:15 predicted miracles would occur in this new exodus under Messiah – so miracles lasted until He returned to end the old-covenant age (Mrk.16:15-18/Mt.28:19-20, 1Cor.13:8-12).
11) God was grieved with the unbelieving generation and did not allow them to enter the promised land Heb.3:10. God was grieved with the adulterous and wicked generation of His day and did not allow them to inherit His heavenly rest in His kingdom – “In Christ” Mk.8:31-9:1, Mt.23:34-46, Hebs.3-4.
12) The wilderness wandering generation were baptized into Moses by passing through the red sea whereby they had received a physical salvation from their persecutors. The water which did not touch them did destroy their enemies 1Cor.10:1-2. They would undergo a baptism of fire and persecution in which the first century Church underwent a separation of the gold (true believers) from the wood (professing believers) and would eventually burn up the persecutors (Mt.3:11; Lk.8:13-14; 1Cor.3:13; 1Pet.4:12; 1Thess.2 & 3; 2Thess.1:4-12). The children or remnant of Moses generation that went through the red sea would enter the Promised Land. Likewise, the remnant of spiritual Israel would inherit and enter the heavenly country “In Christ.” Peter describes spiritual new covenant salvation and entrance into the kingdom at Christ’s return as “the salvation of your souls.” (1Pet.1).
Deuteronomy 32’s Terminal Generation Please note Deuteronomy 32:20-22 and the new testament fulfillment texts in parenthesis: “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end (Mt. 10:22-23, Mt. 24:3, Mt. 13:39-40, 49) shall be: for they are a very perverse generation (Mt.23:36, Mt.24:34, Mk. 8:38, Acts 2:40-Peter quotes this passage), children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people (Roms. 10:19, Rms.11:11); I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (Mt.21:43, 1Pet.2/Ephs.2). For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire (2Pet.3) the foundations of the mountains.” (Deut. 32:20-22).
It was this “perverse” and “adulterous” “generation” Jesus and the new testament authors were living in of which Deut.32 and the rest of the old-testament prophets predicted would reject Christ and be destroyed by Him at His return (Lk.17:25, 21:20-32; Mk.8:38-9:1; Acts 2:40). As a result, by A.D.70, a “new thing” had sprung up and blossomed – the glorified Body of Christ.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away”
Before leaving the Olivet Discourse I hear an objection – “But didn’t Jesus discuss a separate topic from the destruction of the temple when He said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mt.24:35). Could this be another argument to support Matheson’s theory that past verse 34 is another coming of Christ of which will destroy and renew the planet at the end of world history?”
In the Jewish mind, God’s creation of the heavens and earth/land in (Gen.1-2) and (Isa.51:15-16) were not completed until God had created the “heavens and earth/land” of the tabernacle and God’s presence rested in the midst of them, “When, however, the Tabernacle was set up and the Holy One, blessed be He, caused the Shecinah to rest within it, He said, “Let it be written that on this day the world was created”’ (Num. R. x111. 6). The implication seems to be that until the Shechinah took up its abode among men through the erection of the Sanctuary, the world could not really be said to exist in the full sense of the term.” In the “creation of the world” of the tabernacle, God creatively says in fiat language seven times: “The Lord said,”
Genesis 1 Creation of the
“Heavens and Earth/Land”
“God said…” 7 times
Exodus 25, 30, 31 Creation of Tabernacle
“Heavens and Earth/Land”
“The Lord said…” 7 times
7) Gen.1:26 cf. vv. 11, 28, 29
|Day 1||Heavens are stretched out like a curtain (Ps. 104:2)||Tent (Exod.26:7)|
|Day 2||Firmament (Gen. 1:2)||Temple veil (Exod.26:33)|
|Day 3||Waters below firmament||Laver or bronze sea (Exod. 30:18)|
|Day 4||Lights (Gen.1:14)||Light stand (Exod. 25:31)|
|Day 5||Birds (Gen. 1:20)||Winged cherubim (Exod. 25:20)|
|Day 6||Man (Gen. 1:27)||Aaron the high priest (Exod. 28:1)|
|Day 7||Cessation (Gen. 2:1)Blessing (Gen. 2:3)Completion (Gen.2:2)||Cessation (Exod. 39:32)Mosaic blessing (Exod. 39:43Completion (Exod. 39:43)|
Unlike Mathison, Jesus and the new-testament authors did not have two separate eschatons – one for Israel in A.D. 70 and one at the end of the Church age that reverts to a literal re-creation of (Gen.1-2). The Jews such as Josephus whom lived during the times of Jesus & the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, understood the temple as referring to the heavens and earth and the temples destruction was the context of Jesus’ teaching in the Olivet Discourse (Mt.24:1-35 –Mt.25). Reformed theologians such as Amillennialist G.K. Beale admit the old-testament “heavens and earth” can be referring to the physical Temple and the City, “…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.” Some evangelical theologians agree, “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 (H.T. Fletcher-Louis, ibid. p.157).
So exactly how did the old-covenant tabernacle/temple and her city represent the “heavens and earth/land”?
1) The Inner Courtyard.
The bronze basin or laver was described as the “sea” (1Kings 7:23-26). The altar which was on a little hill in the courtyard, in a proper Hebrew translation means and symbolized “from the bosom of the earth” or “the mountain of God” (Ezk.43:14-16). These two items in the inner-courtyard represented the waters and seas and of Mount Sinai or Mount Zion associated with the known land that the Hebrew nation was familiar with throughout her redemptive history. The common Israelite was permitted within the gate of the inner courtyard only on certain occasions. Thus Israel in the Promised Land represented redeemed humanity/a redeemed cosmos or “kingdom of priests” to the surrounding Nations (Ex.19:6).
2) The Holy Place.
The golden lamp stand of 7 lights represented the seven visible light sources of ancient man and the Hebrew Nation – sun, moon, and 5 planets. The Hebrew word “lights” meorot, in Gen.1 and throughout the Pentateuch is used of the “lights” of the tabernacle lampstand. These were given to serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” for Israel (Gen.1:4):
- 7th. Day of the week is the Sabbath.
- 7th. Month of the year – is the month corresponding to the Day of Atonement. (Lev.16:29)
- 7th. Year is for the release of debts and slavery (Deut.15)
- 7th. Of the seven year cycle would be the year of jubilee (Lev.25).
The Second coming or Day of the Lord has arrived and there is no more darkness in this eternal day of the kingdom. There are no more holy days for everyday is a Sabbath and celebration in God’s Kingdom under the new creation.
3) The Most Holy Place.
The Ark represents heaven, the unseen realm where God dwells and is where God’s presence dwelt in the earthly Tabernacle with His “footstool” touching their land. The two golden cherubim guarding and looking down into the ark with no visible image of God between them, represents God’s presence among the angels in heaven and His invisible presence among His people on earth. The items of the law, Aaron’s rod, and manna, represent the two trees in the garden and man being in Adam or Christ – under the curse of the law or under grace in Christ. In the book of Revelation when Jerusalem or the “Great City,” “Babylon” “the City” or the once “Holy City” is destroyed, access into the Most Holy Place presence of God is described as seeing the Ark of God (Rev.11:19).
Fletcher shows the temples make up with the “elements,” “Both Josephus and Philo explore at some length the cosmic symbolism of the tabernacle / temple and its paraphernalia (Philo Mos. 2:71-145; Josephus Ant. 3:123, 179-187). Both agree that the woven work of the tabernacle and the temple veil are made from four materials symbolizing the four elements – earth, water, air and fire (War 5:212-213; Ant. 3:138-134; Quaestiones in Exodum 2:85, cf. Mos. 2:88).”  These were the “elements” of the old-covenant creation of the law that were burned up in (2Pet.3). The veil being ripped in two at Christ’s crucifixion (Mrk.15:28; Mrk.14:24) was understood by the Jews to be an omen or sign of things to come. The Jews heard Jesus prophecy of the destruction of the temple, and the end Israel’s old-covenant age within their generation. Complete access to God for the new-covenant community would be achieved when these “elements” (2Pet.3:10) of the old-covenant veil/world, would be completely taken out of the way and the new stood complete and mature in a “soon” “at hand” “in a very little while” A.D. 70 time frame (Heb.8:13; Heb.9:6-10; Heb.10:25-37). The reason there is no temple in the new creation of (Rev.21-22) and the New Jerusalem is in a perfect cube is because God and His people are the Most Holy Place whereby God is in His people and we are in Him (Rev.21:16; Jn.14:2-3, 23).
13) “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Mt. 28:18-20)
Mathison and Gentry wander off from the majority of Reformed and Evangelical scholars in deciding the new testament not only teaches two second comings, but also two great commissions. They argue that the great commission in (Mt.24:14) was fulfilled by A.D.70 in citing Paul’s declaration of (Cols.1:5-6, 23; Rms. 10:18). We of course agree, but find the new testament only addressing one “end of the age” consistently and it is referring to the end of the old-covenant age which brings this great commission passage into harmony with the “end of the age” great commission of (Mt.24:3, 14, 34) being fulfilled by A.D.70.
We should remind Mathison that if the great commission of (Mt.28:18-20) has not be fulfilled yet, then the charismata that aids in its fulfillment in (Mk.16:15-18) is still for the church today.
 Mathison, Postmillennialism, p.111-112, ibid. emphasis added–“Jesus declares that his prophecy wil be fulfilled before the generation to whom He is speaking passes away. In other words, the events of which he speaks in this passage will be fulfilled by A.D. 70, one generation from the date He made the pronouncement. We know that the phrase “this generation” refers to the generation of Jews to whom Jesus was speaking for these reasons…”
 Mathison, Dispensationalism, ibid., pp.138-144; Postmillennialism, ibid., pp.111-115.
 Kenneth Gentry, ibid., p.58. Bold emphasis added–“Christ’s teaching here is extremely important to redemptive history He is responding to the question of His disciples regarding when the end of the “age” (Gk., aion) will occur (24:3). In essence, His full answer is: when the Romans lay waste the temple (vv.6 and 15 anticipate this).”
 Kenneth Gentry & Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation Past or Future? p. 26, Kregel pub. 1999, emphasis added.
 DeMar, Gary, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, p.41, American Vision pub. 1994, bold emphasis MJS
 John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2: Systematic Theology, p.389, Banner of Truth Pub., 1977. “Verse 30, for several reasons to be adduced later, surely refers to the advent in glory, and the sign of the Son of man to the sign of the coming of Christ and of the consummation of the age in the disciples’ question (vs.3).” And, “3. There is another index for the identification of the event specified in verse 30. Luke 21:25-28 is parallel to Matthew 24:29-31. Now in Luke 21:28 we read: ‘When these things begin to come to pass, brace yourselves up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is night at hand’. This word ‘redemption’ (apolutrwsiv), when used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation, the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive process (cf. Rms. 8:23; 1Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). Hence analogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events. 4. There is ample allusion to the sound of the trumpet and to the ministry of angels elsewhere in the New Testament, in connection with Christ’s advent (cf. cf. 1Cor.15:52; 1Thess.4:16). Hence verse 31 can most readily be taken to refer to the gather of the elect at the resurrection.” Unfortunately for Murray he did not submit to Jesus’ teaching that “all things” in the discourse would be fulfilled in Jesus’ “this generation” (vs.34). Had he really been concerned with the “analogy of Scripture” hermeneutic, he would have seen that Christ coming on the clouds and the de-creation language in the discourse was metamorphic language describing the fall of religious and civil powers as John Owen and other reformed theologians have. The analogy of Scripture hermeneutic should have also directed Murray to see that the coming of Christ and the redemption/resurrection/judgment of the N.T. authors also pointed to the same time period of a glory and redemption that was “about to” take place within Jesus’ “this generation” (Rms.8:18-23; Acts 17:31, 24:15 YLT WEY). Only our position truly uses the “analogy of Scripture” hermeneutic consistently throughout the discourse with all of Scripture both O.T. and the N.T.
 N.T. Wright, JESUS AND THE VICTORY OF GOD, p.625, Fortress Press Pub., 1996.
 John Murray, ibid., p.398-399, emphasis added.
 H.J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History, pp. 100, The Westminster Press, 1966, emphasis MJS.
 G.K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary The Book of Revelation, p. 1018 -19, Eerdmans pub. 1999, emphasis MJS
 C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol.II Psalms 58-110, pp. 84-85, MACDONALD PUB.,
 A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, p.43, Dutton pub. 1949, emphasis added.
 Beale, ibid., p.61. Beale also quotes a Rabbi who says, “the Tabernacle is equal to the creation of the world” and then substantiates the claim by comparing the various things created on each day of creation to the seven similar items created in the tabernacle (Tanhuma Yelammedenu Exodus 11:2
 J.V. Fesko, Last Things First Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, p.70, Mentor Imprint Christian Focus Publications, 2007. I would agree with the premise of the book, “…one must interpret Genesis 1-3 in the light of Christ and Eschatology.”
 Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, The Works of Josephus, p.87, Book 3, Chapter 6, Par. 4, Section 123, Hendrickson pub. 1987. Josephus, ibid, p.90, Book 3, Chapter 7, Par.7, Section 181. “However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…” “When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men”
 Beale, ibid., p.25. On the John Anderson radio show I challenged Beale’s thesis in reverse stating that the context and de-creation language of (Mt.24:1-3, 35) was the judgment upon Jerusalem and her temple in A.D. 70. Beale HAD NO ANSWER TO THAT.
 Vern Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, pp. 18-19, P&R pub., 1991.
 H.T. Fletcher-Louis, ibid., pp.145, 152, 160-161. Emphasis added