PRI Articles

One Day Is With the Lord As A Thousand Years-- Again!!

ONE DAY IS WITH THE LORD AS A THOUSAND YEARS, OR, CAN GOD TELL TIME?

 

Don K. Preston


One of the most common objections lodged against Covenant Eschatology is this: “Since Peter’s statement ‘a day with the Lord is as a thousand years’ is in reference to the timing of Christ’s return, we should not expect Second Coming time statements such as ‘near, at hand,’ or ‘shortly’ to be interpreted by man’s understanding, but by God’s. Thus, from His perspective, only two days have passed since the NT claimed that the return of Christ was ‘at hand.’”

Historically, 2 Peter 3:8-9 have been the basis for a great deal of speculation on the end times. The text has been distorted badly. Just recently (October, 2010) Harold Camping of California– he of multiple failed predictions of the end– sat a date for the rapture of May 21, 2011, based on his claim that “one day with the Lord is a thousand years” (not that he distorts Peter’s words. Peter said a thousand years is AS a day” not “a thousand years is a day.” See our challenge to Camping on this site.
Without doubt, though, 2 Peter 3 is the most common objection offered to mitigate the multitudinous N. T. statements that Christ’s coming was to occur in the first century. We have had a bit to say in response to Wayne Jackson for instance, in another article on this site. Jackson has, like so many others, appealled to 2 Peter 3 in a vain attempt to negate Covenant Eschatololgy.

Based on Peter’s statement, all futurists claim that prophetic times statements are supposedly “elastic,” “ambiguous” and “relative.” However, an appeal to 2 Peter 3, in an attempt to mitigate the time statements of the nearness of the end is misguided and false. Let me make several observations.
We do not have the space to consider all that might be said in response to this objection. However, I have addressed the objection in-depth in my Can God Tell Time?, as well as in my Who Is This Babylon? The Babylon book has one of the most extensive discussions of the time statements of scripture to be found anywhere. Also, in my book on 1 Thessalonians 4, (We Shall Meet Him In The Air, The Wedding of the King of kings,  I have an even more extensive, and additional, discussion of the time statements. My books are available from this website. Now, to an examination of the objection.

☛ The objection is a tacit admission that the words of the N. T., taken at face value, do indicate imminence. We have a right therefore to ask, if God had wanted to indicate that the parousia truly was near, what other words could He have used, other than, “Behold, I come quickly”?
☛ It is because of a presuppositional concept of the nature of the parousia that an attempt is made to negate the “when” of the parousia. In other words, the objectors believe in a visible, bodily coming of Christ on cumulus clouds. The N. T. writers said Christ’s coming was near. That literal event did not occur within a “soon” time span, therefore, “at hand” cannot mean soon! This presuppositional approach is invalid.
☛ The words “at hand” “quickly” etc., are not the only terms of imminence that are used, and the other language cannot be turned into theological silly putty. For instance, Paul said, “the end of the ages has come upon us” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Peter said, “the (appointed) time has come for (the) judgment to begin.” (1 Peter 4:17). John said, “It is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). These statements are of a different nature from “at hand.” They are expressions of a then present reality, not ambiguity.
☛ Did you know that the Bible gives examples of “prophets” making false time statements, and God condemning them for it? He actually killed one prophet for making a false time prediction (Jeremiah 27-28)! Doesn’t that indicate that God can tell time pretty well, and that He expects man to honor His time statements? (See especially Ezekiel 7-12 also, where God said the judgment on Jerusalem was at hand, nigh, and coming soon. The false prophets said it was far off. God condemned them and said that when He said something was near, it would occur in that generation! God can not only tell time, He communicated truthfully about time.)

Peter’s second epistle was written to refute the scoffers (2 Peter 1:16f).
Peter says that in the second epistle, he was reminding his readers of what the Old Covenant prophets said, of what Jesus and the other apostles said, and, of what he had written in his first epistle (2 Peter 3:1-2). Consider then the following:
The Old Covenant prophets said that when the last days arrived, the Day of the Lord would be near (Joel 3:1-14; Isaiah 60:22). Peter said he was living in the predicted last days (1 Peter 1:20), and the end had drawn near.
Jesus said that his coming in judgment would be in the first century “there are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28). (See my book Can You Believe Jesus Said This? for an in-depth analysis of Matthew 16:27-28) He likewise said it would, without fail, be in his generation (Matthew 24:34). There is no way to turn “some standing here” and “this generation” into a timeless, elastic, ambiguousness.
In his first epistle, Peter affirmed that Christ was “ready” (from hetoimos, a strong word of imminence) to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). He said “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7), and, again, “the time has come the judgment to begin” (1 Peter 4:17). Furthermore, Peter said that the Old Prophets were told that fulfillment was not near in their day, but, was near in his day (1 Peter 1:10f). The attempt to make time language elastic nullifies this temporal contrast between the Old Prophets and Peter’s day. Peter is emphatic that the Old Covenant prophets spoke of his “these days” (Acts 3:24f).
Notice now: Peter said, “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7). The scoffers said “all things continue as they were” (3 Peter 3:4). The scoffers were denying what Peter affirmed! Are we to suppose that the point of 2 Peter 3 was for Peter to say, “I know that I have said the end has drawn near, but, you have to understand that I did not mean that! After all, time statements don’t mean anything!” The offered objection to the time statements actually makes the scoffers out to be the ones who had it right!
Also, if the preaching of the nearness of the end by Jesus’ disciples included the (supposed) fact that “at hand” did not mean soon, then the scoffers were making an empty objection. They clearly thought that the language meant something! Only if the message of the nearness of the end was being taken seriously of a limited time for fulfillment could that objection have any merit.
How would Peter’s (supposed) appeal to the meaninglessness of language refute the scoffers? In other words, if Peter was affirming that in reality the parousia might be delayed indefinitely, as Leithart suggests: “Indefinite delay of the Parousia would be a feeble response to false teachers who are teaching that the Parousia will be delayed indefinitely!” (Peter Leithart, The Promise of His Coming, (Moscow, ID, Canon Press, 2004)67). Was Peter actually telling his audience that the scoffers were right, and that his own predictions of the nearness of the end meant nothing, that the parousia might, after all, be delayed for thousands of years?
Consider 2 Peter 3 in light of the Olivet Discourse. In Matthew 24:32 after giving a list of the signs of the end, Jesus told his apostles, “When you see all of these things know that it (his parousia and kingdom) is nigh, even at the door.” So, the appearance of the signs would indicate the nearness of the end. But, what did Jesus mean by “nigh” and, “at the door”?
Compare Jesus’ words with James’ declaration “the judge is standing right at the door” immediately after declaring “the parousia has drawn near” (James 5:8-9). James’ words are a direct echo of Jesus’ Discourse.  Was James guilty of making premature declarations of the nearness of the end?

If time statements mean nothing, then the signs would mean nothing! How could they know, “it is near, even at the door,” via the appearance of signs, if near means nothing!  Now watch.
In Luke 21:8, Jesus warned those same apostles, “Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he’ and, ‘the end has drawn near.’ Do not go after them.” Please catch the power of what Jesus said!
✦ Jesus said the appearance of the signs would prove that the end was near.
✦ Jesus said not to believe– and thus, not to make, premature declarations of the nearness of the end.
✦ Peter was one of the disciples present who heard Jesus’ warnings.
✦ Peter said “the end of all things has drawn near”! (John likewise affirmed the nearness of the end (1 John 2:18)!
Those who offer the objection above have a severe problem in light of Luke 21. Did Peter see the signs of the end or not? Well, one of the signs was the completion of the world mission, and Paul most assuredly affirmed the fulfillment of that “sign” (Colossians 1:5f; 23). (See my Into All the World, Then Comes The End, for an in-depth demonstration of the fulfillment of the Great Commission in the first century).
Peter used almost the precise words that Jesus said the false prophets would use! Was Peter’s declaration of the nearness of the end premature? If so, then Peter became one of the very false prophets that Jesus had warned him about!
Question: do those who offer the objection above believe that the appearance of the signs would be proof of the objective nearness of the end? Yes, they do!
As an example of this kind of inconsistency, see my written debate with dispensationalist Lloyd Olsen. He argued vehemently that the time statements of the nearness of the end in the N. T. are meaningless, but, that we are seeing the signs around us everywhere today that prove the end is actually near! My question to him– never answered– was why we should accept his statements that the end is near now, when the Biblical, inspired writers said it was near in the first century? Why does “at hand” mean soon, now, but, it meant nothing when Paul, Peter and John said it? The debate is on this website.
So, on the one hand we are told that the very disciples that Jesus warned of making premature declarations of the end, actually made false declarations of the end. Or, we are told that their time statements don’t really mean “at hand.” On the other hand, we are told that the signs are present today, and that the signs do mean the end is actually now “at hand.” Time statements mean something now, but not from the pen of the inspired apostles! This is a severe problem for those offering the objection from 2 Peter 3.
Now, if the objection under consideration is valid, Jesus could not have warned against premature declarations of the nearness of the end, because time statements were not to be believed anyway! In other words, if it was understood that time statements of the end meant nothing, why would Jesus warn against anyone making time statements about the end? Let them say what they wanted! The problem of course, is that Jesus did condemn false predictions of the nearness of the end!
John said to test the spirits (1 John 4:1f), whether they be of God. But, if time statements do not mean anything, then there could be no testing of the prophets, for their time statements would not be subject to testing.
History provides prima facie proof of false prophets and their premature declarations of the nearness of the end. Edgar Whisenant said the end would be in 1988, and, that failing, 1989. Hal Lindsay said the rapture and end would be in 1988. Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, are all on record as saying that the restoration of Israel in 1948 is the singular greatest sign of the end, and that the generation to see the signs must be the generation of the end. I watched Grant Jeffrey on TBN, (1-14-09), say that our’s is the generation that will witness the coming of the Lord, based on the restoration of Israel in 1948. Of course, from 1948 to the present is stretching “this generation” to its limit, and these men join the ranks of those guilty of making false predictions. As noted just above, Harold Camping has said that there is now “infallible proof” that the rapture and final judgment will be May 21, 2011. His website (accessed 10-21-10) claims the date is  “absolute truth.”  
You see, if time statements of the end mean nothing objective, then Jesus’ warnings to reject false predictions concerning the end are empty words. They mean nothing.
But of course, Jesus’s words do mean something. They mean that only his personal disciples were the ones best qualified (inspired) to make objective true statements about the nearness of the end. Since Jesus told his apostles to reject premature declarations of the end, that means that those making such predictions prior to the apostles were, by the very nature of the case, false.
This likewise means that anyone centuries after the apostles, making predictions of the end, would (are!) false, since Jesus said they would see the signs, and they would know when the end was truly near. Thus, they would truly declare the nearness of the end. And of course, this is precisely what happened!
Paul condemned Hymenaeus for making statements that the end had come– in fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24:26. And, as already seen, Peter said the end had drawn near. James said the judge was right at the door. Paul said the end of the ages had arrived. John said it was the last hour, and, the Father revealed to him that Christ’s parousia was coming quickly (Revelation 22).
The bottom line is that when Peter made his statement in 2 Peter 3, he was not saying that the scoffers were right, and that the parousia had been delayed indefinitely. He was not discounting his own statements of the nearness of the end! He was affirming the faithfulness of God, to keep His promises. The passing of time, whether a long time, or short, did not cause Him to fail. It meant that if He said something was near, it was near. If He said something was not near, it was not near. Peter was affirming that the passing of time did not prevent God from keeping His promises on time!
Incidentally, it seems not to have dawned on those offering the objection to ask: If “at hand” can (virtually must) mean a long time, then what does “not at hand” mean when God said something was not near? There are many examples (See my Can God Tell Time?), in which God said something was not near! Does this mean that He actually meant it was near? Do we really want to turn language on its head by this approach to 2 Peter 3?
Finally, I have a more in-depth discussion of 2 Peter 3:9 in my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat. I note that Peter was reminding his audience of God’s faithfulness to keep His Old Testament promises to Israel. This is why he quotes from Psalms 90 in the first place. I have yet to encounter anyone who offered the objection above who had considered this crucial fact.

So much more could be said about 2 Peter 3:9, but, we have seen enough here to definitively say that the objection based on 2 Peter 3, against True Preterism is not a valid objection!  









What About the Imminence Statements In The OT?

What About The Nearness of the Day of the Lord In the OT?


Don K. Preston

 

Those who believe in Covenant Eschatology emphasize the indisputable fact that the NT says repeatedly that the coming of Christ, the end of the age and the resurrection were near in the first century. Futurists are constantly seeking to mitigate this language. or to avoid the power of the language. One of the "escape valve" arguments sometimes offered is the fact that several OT prophets claimed that the “Day of the Lord” was “near, at hand, etc.,” in their day (e.g., Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15, 3:14; Obadiah 14). Yet the Second Coming was further away from them than for the NT apostles. Why, then, must we take NT usages of terms like "at hand, near, shortly, etc.," at face-value, but not these OT passages?

Response: On the surface, this sounds like a solid objection to Covenant Eschatology. However, when we actually look at scripture we soon realize that the objection is based on some false assumptions. Furthermore, it overlooks the emphatic words of scripture!

The first assumption is that “the Day of the Lord” is always referent to the “Second Coming.”
Secondly, it is also assumed that the Day of the Lord must be a literal, visible, bodily coming of the Lord.
Thirdly, this objection overlooks the fact that the O.T. itself draws a distinction between Days of the Lord that were imminent in the OT, and the Day of the Lord that was not near!

The Old Covenant did predict the “Day of the Lord.” However, what is not proven by the objection is that the Day being predicted was to be a bodily, visible appearance of the Lord, or, that it is the Day of the Lord predicted in the New Testament! In fact, it is not! Let’s consider a text.

Isaiah 34 is one of the most graphic descriptions of the Day of the Lord in the O. T.. Taken literally, it would describe the dissolution of the cosmos. However, take note of several facts:
1.) The prediction is against Edom (v. 8f), and the nations.
2.) It is the Day of the Lord.
3.) The dust of the earth, even the streams would be turned to pitch and burn day and night forever and ever (v. 9f).
4.) The wild animals would dwell there, and the weeds would take over!

One has to wonder how the earth could burn perpetually, while animals and weeds would take over! Are we to believe in asbestos animals?

When we examine Isaiah 34 in light of other prophecies concerning Edom, and the progression of history, certain things become apparent.
1.) The destruction of Edom was to occur at the same time as the destruction of the other nations (Jeremiah 25/ Ezekiel 25).
2.) The destruction of Edom was to occur at the hands of the Babylonians (Jeremiah 25:9ff)–when the Lord would roar from heaven (Jeremiah 25:30f).
3.) The Day of the Lord was not near in Isaiah, but, it was near when Obadiah wrote (Obadiah 15f).
4.) Malachi the prophet looked back on the destruction of Edom as a fulfilled reality, and even uses the language of Isaiah 34 to describe that destruction (Malachi 1:2f)!
5.) The Babylonians destroyed Edom, in B. C. 583, just as predicted! ( New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Revised, (Grand Rapids, Eerdman, 1988) idem Edom).

So, Edom was to be destroyed in the Day of the Lord. That Day was near when Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Obadiah wrote, and Malachi says Edom had been destroyed! Prophecy fulfilled! Yet, patently, YHVH did not come out of heaven, the cosmos was not melted. Earth did not catch on fire, and is not still burning.
If we are going to be good students of the Bible, we must honor its use of different kinds of literature, including apocalyptic, metaphoric language! What right do we today have to deny the Biblical writers the right to write metaphorically? Notice now Joel 2-3.

Joel 2-3
The objection above offers Joel as proof that the O.T. writers predicted the Day of the Lord to occur imminently. What is missed in Joel is the reality that he predicted two Days of the Lord! In chapter 1 and 2, down through v. 27 Joel addresses the Day that was near. However, in V. 28, he says, “It shall come to pass afterward.” After what? After the Day that was near!

Notice also that in 3:1 he then says, “It shall come to pass in those days, and at that time...” He is addressing now the “afterward” Day, the Day that would come in the last days. This is, for lack of better terminology,  “projected imminence.” (My term)
This is common in the O. T.. It is when the writer speaks of events that are far off from his perspective, but, he says that when the anticipated time arrived, the predicted events will be near. Look at Deuteronomy 4:25f for instance, “When you have dwelt in the land a long time... and you sin... then you will perish quickly.” See also Isaiah 60:22. The prophecy projects to the time of the New Jerusalem: “I the Lord will hasten it in its time.” Note the statement that in its time, the Lord would hasten it! Thus, just like Joel, when the last days arrived, the Day of the Lord would be near!

This contrast between a near Day of the Lord, along with the projection into the last days, when the Day of the Lord would be near, forces us to realize several things:
1.) The Day of the Lord language of the O.T. was being used metaphorically, since the near Days were fulfilled.
2.) The time statements of imminence, in other words, were objective.
3.) The O.T. authors were anticipating another, consummative Day, which they emphatically say was not near in their time!

Significantly the N. T. writers never project imminence! Instead, they always say that they were living in the last days foretold by the O.T. prophets (cf. Matthew 13:17,  Acts 3:21-24; Hebrews 1:1f, 2 Peter 3:1-2, etc.). This is critical!

Furthermore, both the O.T. and the New teaches that the Second Coming would be of the same nature as the Day of the Lord in the OT. For a full discussion of this vital point, see my Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory. (available at Amazon or this website). Jesus said he was going to come “in the glory of the Father” (Matthew 16:27), which means he was going to come as the Father had come! YHVH had never come literally, visibly, bodily!)

For brevity, let me make this argument:
The coming of Christ to establish the New Heaven and Earth was the Day foretold by Isaiah 64-66 (2 Peter 3:1-2, 13).
The coming of the Christ foretold by Isaiah 64-66 was to be a Day of the Lord like previous Days of the Lord–a non-literal, non-visible, historical Day of the Lord (Isaiah 64:1-3).
Therefore, the Coming of the Christ of 2 Peter 3-- was to be a non-literal, non-visible, historical Day of the Lord.

Let me establish the minor premise: “Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence 2 As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil––To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! 3  When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence.” (Isaiah 64:1-3)

Isaiah prayed for YHVH to come, to destroy creation! He wanted the Lord to come and manifest Himself to the nations. Take particular note: he wanted YHVH to come as He had come in the past: “When you did things for which we did not look, You came down!” Do you catch that?

Patently, YHVH had never came out of heaven literally, visibly, bodily! He had never descended and destroyed Creation before! Yet, the prophet said He had! This is undeniably metaphoric, hyperbolic language to describe God’s intervention in history. Thus, the O.T. describes and defines the Second Coming as a Day like past Days of the Lord.

But, to drive the point home, the New Testament writers tell us, emphatically, that the O.T. writers did not, as our objector claims, say that Christ’s consummative parousia was near! Read 1 Peter 1:10-12: “Of this salvation (Salvation at Christ’s parousia, v. 5-9, DKP), the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11  searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12  To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven––things which angels desire to look into.”

Notice that the O.T. prophets foretold the coming of Messiah for eternal salvation. But, those O.T. prophets were told that Messiah’s salvation coming was not for their day! Please see Daniel 12:1-13 where Daniel foresaw the time of the resurrection. And, he was told that the end time events were not for his day! This is precisely Peter’s point!

Summary:
The O.T. writers did say the Day of the Lord was near. And, what they predicted as near truly was near! The nearness language was objective, true, and fulfilled!
The descriptive language of the Day of the Lord was not fulfilled literally, but, metaphorically, as God Sovereignly intervened in history.
However, the O.T. prophets did not say that Christ’s consummative parousia was near.
The consummative Day of the Lord–Christ’s Second Coming– was to be of the same nature as the previous Days of the Lord.
The New Testament writers affirmed in the clearest of language that the last days parousia foretold by the O.T. prophets had now, in the first century, drawn near.

Thus, the objection has been demonstrated to be based on false assumptions, and makes false claims.  







Guest Article: Understanding the Different Views of Eschatology

We sometimes hear from visitors to our site asking about the differences between the various views of eschatology, i.e. the end times. To be sure, there are a lot of different views! One of our regular visitors has compiled the following material to demonstrate the differences between the different views, to give a bit of their history, and some of the leading authorities within the respective views. We find this material to be very helpful, and appreciate receiving permission from its author, Mike Morrill, to post this material for your benefit.

View Mike Presentation End Time Synopsis.pdf

Guest Article: The End of The Age

We are pleased to share with our visitors a fine article submitted by one of our other visitors. This article strikes at the core of modern eschatological confusion and offers a solid Biblical answer.

Don K 

A TIME FRAME REPLACEMENT

OF THE OLD COVENANT END TIME GOSPEL

BY GERALD A ARNOLD

"Go your way, Daniel, Because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end" Da.12:9

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place" Rev.1:1

"Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near" Rev.22:10

 

Are we living in the end times today? Looking around at world conditions, as they exist at present, has led many to claim we are. They even use various scripture verses on prophecy taken from the Jewish/Christian Bible, i.e., the Old and New Testament, to prove it. Many will say, "I believe the Bible teaches an end time and we are living in it today.

 

While it is true that the Bible teaches an end time, and a casual reading of the Old and New Testament reveals this plainly, it must be wondered how the time frame of the Old Covenant end time ever got transplanted to our present day situation. Were there two end times taught and expected by the first century church? One for the Old Covenant and one for the end of time or end of the literal biological world. Many would affirm this to be true, but the question remains, is that what the Bible actually teaches? A displacement of the Old Covenant- time of the end- time frame, has led to the chaos and confusion that exists in the church and the world at our present time.

 

For century's hawkers of "end times" or "end of the world" scenarios have risen up to give voice about the nearness of this alleged present day event, especially during times of severe economical downturns; or in times of war, when people who are dazed, confused, even terrified by what is going on around them and to them, are most apt to think "these people may be right, we are living in the end times." Ironically these hawkers quote exclusively from the Jewish/Christian Bible, from places such as Daniel, Revelation, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Thessalonians, and they all seem to have one thing in common, i.e., their misplacement of the Old Covenant end time context,meaning, they make what was applicable to the time of the end of the Old Covenant world(age), and apply it to some alleged future end of time, or world, for our present time.

 

Every generation since AD70, when the prophesied events in the New Testament, concerning the "time of the end" actually took place, as signified by the destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple, voices have risen up claiming that their generation was the end time and that the world was going to end soon. The only generation that claimed this, and truly had it happen, was the first century generation in which Jesus and his disciples lived and taught. Yes, a world actually did come to an end and pass away in the first century. The date was AD70, and it had to do with the Old Covenant world.(Age)(1Peter 4:7; Heb 13:8).

 

It should be noted that New Testament scripture passages that express a note of imminence concerning end time events, is in general, overlooked, watered down, or changed to another meaning by the vast majority of theologians, scholars, commentators and preachers, especially in modern times. An example of this is when passages like Matthew 24:34 are read and expounded. That particular passage reads, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.' The "you" in this passage, was the disciples living during the time Jesus was telling his message, and "this generation" was the actual existing generation when Jesus lived and spoke.

 

In spite of this obvious truth, theologians and scholars have made "this generation" mean some generation in the remote future, now, two thousand years in the future, when they believe "all these things" Jesus spoke of, will come to fruition. They say "it's that generation", and they usually mean their own particular generation, that Jesus really meant when all those things would happen. That basically disregards plain language, and makes words mean anything they want them to mean. The problem is, Jesus did not say "that generation" but "this generation" meaning the generation that was in existence at that time. The misunderstanding, however, is not with Jesus or other first century writers, and their perception of how or when all these things would be fulfilled, but with future generations of theologians and scholars.

 

In general, many theologians, scholars, and preachers, especially in our own day, recognize that serious problems exist with the eschatology of the New Testament. However, again, the problems do not exist with the New Testament writers, as has been so often assumed, but with the theologians and scholars. Take prophetic fulfillment out of its first century time frame context, and try to apply it to some remote future generation, and the result is chaos and confusion, as evidenced by what exists within the institutional church today. Is it any wonder that many people dispute the authority and validity of the Bible. If our perception of how first century prophecy was to be fulfilled doesn't match the perception of those living and teaching in that first century setting, or history in general, it is claimed those prophecies weren't fulfilled. So we set about to manufacture our own perceptions of how and when they should be fulfilled, and when we make some kind of a match with something that has happened in our own time, we claim fulfillment, in spite of the fact that it doesn't even have anything to do with how prophecy was actually fulfilled in the first century time frame. As one prominent scholar once put it, "Every school boy knows the world didn't come to an end in the first century, and history has continued.' This statement reflects an ignorance as to the first century writers understanding of the end, and what was actually coming to an end.

 

But it wasn't the literal created biological world that the New Testament writers believed and taught was ending- in spite of the real world language they used- but the Old Covenant world(age), that literally did come to an end in AD70. Since that event, the Jewish religion, in terms of the Old Covenant mode of existence, changed forever. There are many theologians, scholars, and preachers today who would have the modern Jews returning to the daily grind of animal sacrifices for their "sins" and constantly living out every moment of their lives under the fear of death, even as the Old Covenant Jews lived. There are those within the dispensational premillennial camp, who believe this will take place when an alleged third temple is built sometime in our immediate future in Jerusalem. But if that is true, then the "world" won't be coming to an end any time soon. At least not for a thousand years anyway.

 

In spite of all this, many, in present times, still think we may be living in the end times and that the world is going to end soon. It's always "soon"! This starts a thinking process on many issues, including an alleged "one world order" led by some evil tyrannical ruler claimed to be the anti-Christ. We hear certain phrases often like "Daniel and Revelation focus more on the establishment of a one world order, a unified world government that will rule the people; this world order will be the instrument that makes the way for the anti-Christ, a figure of pure evil, to rule." Statements like this flow from a teaching known as dispensational premillennialism, which has displaced the Old Covenant end time Gospel time frame for another end time in our immediate future or present time. This system of eschatology is in actuality nothing more than a fabrication of prophetic texts scattered throughout the Old and New Testament. Many, especially in America, have been indoctrinated into those teachings and beliefs, and in spite of proof to the contrary, are unwilling or unable to give them up.

 

There have been many hot debates recently about some alleged present day anti-Christ, and if that person might not be President Barrack Obama? As much as I personally have to wonder about Obama's actual role in world history, this one thing I can say with a surety, he is by no means the anti-Christ. Nor is there any such person predicted for the present time or future. The anti-Christ was never taught by New Testament scripture writers to be a singular person, but a plurality of persons that actually existed within the first century church, and who John, alone, wrote about in his first and second letters. They were mostly Old Covenant Jews who were denying that Jesus was their Messiah. The anti-Christ issue had a particular and specific application in the first century time frame during the transition period between the Old and New Covenant age. ( 1 John 2:18,19,22;4:3; 2 John 7), and does not have any application to modern day Jews or us today. It should be noted that the first and second letters of John are the only place in the Bible where the actual term anti-Christ is used. The idea of a singular person as a dominating evil world ruler noted as the anti-Christ, flows out of a misinterpretation of Daniel, Revelation, and Paul's statement in Thessalonians, concerning the alleged future "man of sin'. I say alleged, meaning relative to our future. His revealing was still future to Paul and the first century church, but there is nothing to indicate outside the perimeters of that existing generation.

 

Many theologians, scholars, and preachers quote passages from the Old Testament, and from Revelation in support of their present day one world order and anti-Christ theories. You may find it interesting, if you haven't already noticed, that Revelations begins and ends with a note of imminence that is generally overlooked or explained away, especially today. That note of imminence is the key to a proper interpretation of the prophecy, and once understood and accepted, actually allows the fulfillment of events written of in Revelation, to remain in their proper time frame, namely, the first century.

 

Revelation is a highly descriptive, symbolical, expanded version of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, which prophesied events, as is generally known ,and accepted, were to occur before the passing of the first century generation. And so in Revelation we should expect to see the very same time limitations, and we do. For example, in the very first verse we read, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place" (Rev.1:1), and then in a following verse we read, "blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." (Rev.1:3) In the event that we are inclined to think that the time limitations apply to only a part of Revelation, we need to go to the last chapter of the book and read, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near." (Rev.22:10). Notice the words "this book" and "the time is near" in that verse? That means all the prophecies in this book (Revelation), not just part of them were about to be fulfilled.

 

In Jesus Mount of Olives prophetic discourse, events mentioned, like, world plagues, severe natural disasters, family members turning against one another, wars and rumors of wars, had a time limitation set on them as well, namely, the existing generation of the first century, and Jesus clarified this when he emphatically stated, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (Mt.24:34, Mk.13:30, Lk.21:32). All "these things" had a particular and specific application within a particular and specific time frame, namely, before the passing of that first century generation, and in spite of there having been many events-similar to those that occurred in the first century- happen even in our time, does in no way negate this truth, nor does it leave prophecy unfulfilled and extended into our time.

 

The prophecies that John indicated were soon to occur, and the prophetical Mount of Olives discourse that Jesus put a time limitation on, were written over two thousand years ago, and if all those prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, the implications are; that Jesus was a false prophet, that John was a liar and God did not really give Jesus a revelation to give to him about events that were soon to occur. And so, we need to stop at this point and ask, who was right and who has been wrong? The destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70, signifies the fulfillment of those prophecies, whether we are willing to accept that fact or not, and therefore, by implication, the theologians, scholars, and preachers who claim non-fulfillment in future generations, including our own, have been wrong!

 

I have already shown above that John was told not to seal up the words of the prophecy of his book because the time for their fulfillment was near. In contrast, we read in Daniel, "But you, Daniel, close up the words of the scroll until the time of the end." (Da.12:4). Daniel was to seal up the words of his scroll because the time for their fulfillment was in the remote future, the "time of the end", meaning, the end of the Old Covenant age, which the New Testament period fulfilled between AD30 and AD70.

 

The implications for prophetic fulfillment nearness in Revelation, pertaining to AD70, are very strong, but they have been obscured by a late dating given to Revelation by many theologians and scholars. Internal evidence indicates that Revelation was actually written prior to that date, namely, around AD68. The internal evidence indicating a pre-AD70 date, has, in general, been rejected by many, because once accepted, it is much harder, if not impossible, to project the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation, to a remote future time frame, without a great deal of manipulation.

 

Normally in a discussion concerning end times in connection with past prophetic fulfillment, the question eventually arises, "what does the New Testament teach concerning the new world order, or the new heavens and earth, etc. That question is usually asked within the context of an unrecognized displaced end time gospel mind-set, which has projected these events into our present times, or immediate future, in terms of prophetic fulfillment. Eyebrows rise when the response is that, according to the New Testament, we are already living in the "new heavens and earth",i.e., the new world order, today. Whew! The reaction, understandably, is a hard pill to swallow, after all, isn't the world we are living in today, the same that existed in the first century? Of course, that fact, in and of itself, is undeniable, that is, if one is only talking, and most are, about the literal biological created world we have been living in for centuries.

 

But here again, the assumption is, that was also what the New Testament writers meant when they used those terms, which, in spite of the real world language they used, is basically an incorrect assumption. The implications are, that when Peter wrote "the end of all things is near" (1Peter 4:7), he meant the end of the created biological world he was living in at the time. But if that was the case, he obviously made a serious time error judgment, because that world is still very much around today.

 

So what did Peter mean when he wrote "the end of all things is near" and what did John mean when he wrote "then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Rev.21:1)? I am asking, what did Peter and John mean from the words they wrote to their first century audience, not from what they have come to allegedly mean. Before jumping to any rash conclusions, based on what you have been taught, stop and remember that this statement was made within the context of some very stiff time limitations, and so, however we are to understand the meaning of the terms, we need to keep in mind the imminent time frame context set by the writers themselves.

 

It is very clear and obvious, when observing the imminency texts in the New Testament, that there was something very significant that was about to pass away in the first century time frame. John wrote "for the old order of things has passed away"(Rev.21:4). He saw this in advance for the near future. In that same connection, the writer of Hebrews, writing around AD68, stated, "by calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging, will soon disappear." (Heb. 8:13). Take note that the Old Covenant age was soon to disappear, not already had disappeared, as so many today have assumed. Paul also realized this when he wrote, "for this world in its present form is passing away' (1Cor.7:31), and also when he wrote, "do this understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over the day is almost here" (Ro.13:11,12). Written over two thousand years ago!

The New World Order, i.e., New Heavens and New Earth, New Covenant Age, etc., was prophesied to occur, and I believe did occur, after the old order of things passed away in AD70, as signified by the destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple. John wrote, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said "I am making everything new." (Rev.21:3-5). Remember the statements, "what must soon take place" (Rev.1:1), and "for the time is near" (Rev.22:10).

 

Many will say at this point, surely, you can't believe all prophecy has been fulfilled, because-after all-there are still tears, and death, and mourning, and crying, and pain today. But was it John's intention, really, to indicate the non-existence of physical tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain under the new order of things. Or could he have had a much higher spiritual emphasis in mind when he wrote those things.

 

Death, in the New Testament context, must be understood in terms of soteriological death, i.e., sin death (1Cor.15:56). This is the death Christ came to destroy. (1 Tim. 1:10), because this death, not mere physical death, was what separated man from God. So if the emphasis is not on physical death, why should we think of the tears, mourning, crying, and pain in mere physical terms either? John's statement was simply a contrast, and what a contrast it was, between the Old Covenant world as it existed then, and the New Covenant world that would come into existence after the old order of things passes away, which the writer of Hebrews also stated was about to occur when he wrote around AD68. In other words, John's use of those terms was a highly descriptive way of describing "life" in the Kingdom of God in the soon coming New Age which had already come, in part, prior to the passing of the Old Covenant World (Heb.6:5).

 

There are many today who claim the old order of things never really passed away and that the fulfillment of these events were postponed for an indefinite period of time, because the Messiah went and got himself crucified. Other's claim that it passed away at the cross, or at Pentecost, and now we have a new "old order of things" i.e., the Christian church age, that is to pass away at some alleged future end time. Others claim that the old order of things passed away in AD70, but those events were only a partial fulfillment, with the complete fulfillment coming at the end of the world. The problem here, is that there are no legitimate Scriptural basis for any of these assumptions.

 

Most people you talk to today, claim that their beliefs about the end times are based on the Bible, especially the New Testament. But what most people don't realize when it comes to their understanding, or misunderstanding of end times is that the problem is not their interpretation of the Bible. The phrase, "We need to get back to the Bible," as important as that might be, is still inadequate for correcting the errors of our day. The crying need of our day, is for people to understand the Biblical first century Old Covenant time frame context, in which the end times were taught and expected to occur. We need to see the "eager expectation" of the first century believers and why they were so eagerly awaiting an actual end of something. Why would they be so eager to see the end of the biological world in which they lived? The answers that have been fabricated to explain this have been insufficient, and so the existence of chaos and confusion that runs rampant in our churches today. Once we understand the true time frame for the end times being the "time of the end' of the Old Covenant world (age), and stop looking for some alleged future end time of the age Christ died to establish, and is eternal (Ephesian 3:21), then we can go on and ask the question, which so many often will ask, "what then, if all prophecy is fulfilled, does that mean for us today"? GOOD QUESTION!

 

Assuming we believe the Bible to be an authoritative, factual, true and reliable historical document, it means all the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled. It means we are living in what the New Testament writers described as the "coming new age" where there is no longer "sin death" and which is characterized by "life eternal". Don't mistake that to mean, however, that in this age, there is no longer physical death. It means we are living today in the new heavens and new earth that the New Testament described, but we have to understand what was meant when those terms were used, or we will continue to think that there are still prophecies to be fulfilled, when they have already been fulfilled.

 

It means all nations are considered equally in God's eyes-where he is all in all-and there are no particular nations, not even Israel, who should consider themselves superior.

It means we can stop looking at events today, through blind misconceptions, and move on, together, as a world of human beings, focusing on solving the vast amount of problems that these misconceptions have created for us from the past.

 

It means we can stop looking at worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations, as evil, bent on joining forces, to bring about our ultimate destruction, instead of seeing them as working together to bring about a peaceful, united, world.

 

It means we should stop living and using our world's natural resources as if the world was actually going to end tomorrow, and start focusing instead, on future preservation.

 

It means America is not the so called "great Babylon", which rips that term completely out of its historical time frame context. If understood correctly, it is evident from the New Testament documents, that the "great Babylon" was Old Covenant Jerusalem, which existed prior to, and was destroyed in, AD70. The "great Babylon" should not be equated with modern day Jerusalem by any means.

 

Confusion about the New Testament's eschatology, which is actually the fulfillment of the Old Testament's futuristic "time of the end", has often led to many stupid and embarrassing conclusions, such as, "hot debates" about President Barrack Abomey being the alleged anti-Christ. There is a very strong possibility that the Abomey Administration could be used of God as an instrument in unifying the nations. I certainly hope this will be the case, because it, in actuality, could prove to be a very good thing in terms of healing world conditions as they exist today.

 

If America wants to continue to be a strong nation, and be able to work and live in peaceful conjunction with the rest of the world, American people will have to get beyond their misplaced "end of the world" mentality, and focus instead on the world we are living in today. This may require major alterations on the part of the institutional churches, and the teachings she has subscribed to for centuries concerning the alleged end times relative to our time. It is good to look back and learn from the past, but we must not continue to dwell there. We must move on and grow into the future with a focus on how we can make our world a better place to live, not only for our present time, but for future posterity as well.

 

There is hope for our world today, and we need to embrace it, and let go of these dismal, negative, and pessimistic feelings of expecting the world to come to an end at any moment. This world will be around for a long time to come-much longer than we have assumed-because we are not living in the "end time" today. We only missed it by about two thousand years.

 

In conclusion, the Old Covenant end time framework that the New Testament fulfilled completely between AD30 and AD70 in the sense the New Testament writers meant and understood by fulfillment, included the Parousia, the Resurrection and the Final Judgement of that period. We are living today in the New Testament's "Age to Come", the eternal age (Eph.3:21), where it is now God and the Lamb seated upon the throne, and where God is all in all, and that is true whether uninspired man believes it, accepts it, or understand's it.

 

Man is a curious creature, and it seems he always feels the need to know every detail of something, fine tuned to the highest degree. Thus, the endless questions and arguments of "how these things happened"? "in what manner did they happen"? "do we have any proof they happened"?, and "what actually happened at the time"? The fact that the Scriptures say they were to happen, and when, seems insufficient to the minds of most people today. We always seem to think there must be more. And so there is. Heaven now awaits our individual arrivals. Gerald Arnold

 

"Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" Ephesians 3:21.

 

"By Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen".

Knowing the Time...The Day Is At Hand!

Romans 13:11f

 

“Besides this, you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake out of sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then, let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. 13  Let us walk properly, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its desires.” (ESV)

 

Read more: Knowing the Time...The Day Is At Hand!


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