Monday, November 29, 2010
Mat 24:15 "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” This is Jesus’ warning about the abomination that makes desolate. He makes an interesting statement. He says, let the reader understand... which calls the readers... Matthew’s original audience (not us today), to realize that they must understand the prophecy of Daniel.
So the question that I would like to ask is this; does the abomination of desolation have to be one event or, could it be a series of events that begins with abomination and ends in desolation? Further, could Matthew 24:15 find its fulfillment in the time frame of the original audience of Matthews’s gospel? I think that the answer to both questions is a resounding yes indeed!
In order to see this more clearly it is necessary to look at a bible timeline. The bible timeline will show very clearly that God’s intervention into the timeline comes in very short bursts of activity relatively speaking. That is, when one looks at the time line in terms of thousands of years the activity takes place in a relatively short time. For example all of the Prophets prophesied in a time period that began in approximately 765BC and ended in 433BC which is a period of roughly 330 years. All of the prophecies for the day of the Lord came within this period.
According to Maccabees, (1Macc 1:57), Antiochus Epiphanes set up the abomination of desolation in the temple in 167BC. Then, history teaches us that Titus of Rome desolated the temple in 70AD. In other words, the prophecies of the 330 year period were completely fulfilled in a 237 year period from Antiochus to Titus; Antiochus was the abominator and Titus was the desolator. Daniel puts it this way: “And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator." On the wing of abominations suggest that it is a prolonged period of time. There were indeed many abominations to the temple over this time period
This is no doubt why Jesus said let the reader understand. It was not going to be as obvious as the verbiage would suggest. No, it would take understanding on the part of the reader.... that is... the intended reader of Matthew’s gospel. This means it was targeted specifically to the Jewish believers. This explains why it is only found in Matthew’s account of the little apocalypse. It would only be understandable to the Jewish community that was expecting the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in their time. It was to the group of Jewish believers that accepted Jesus as the Messiah and were fully aware of the time table of Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy.... that were expecting the end of the age and the age to come imminently. We have shown time after time on this blog that the imminent expectation of the fulfillment of all prophecy is everywhere in every book of the New Testament.
Monday, November 8, 2010
As we explore the possibility that current Christianity is in fact the result of the fulfillment of the Prophecy by Paul in 2Thess 2:11 forecasting a great falling away and, the strong delusion that would follow. It is beneficial to consider one of the early documents of the church... late first century or early second century... it is the a document known as the didache or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations (Gentiles.) If you read the document you will readily see that it appears to be a concise statement of church doctrine. In fact, I think that the doctrine of most evangelical churches would fall well within this document. There was a time in the early church that it was part of the scripture and a form of it is still canonical for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
However, when you examine it on a deeper level... while I admit that it is certainly an admirable standard of behavior and quite biblical at first blush... it is a written code set up for belief. This does not square with the New Covenant promises of Jeremiah 31:33-34 or Ezekiel 36:27. Likewise, it does not lend itself to the Spiritual transformation that is promised in the gospel. The main reason is that, while it states that love of God and neighbor are of first importance, it does not spend any time explaining the catalyst for producing this supernaturally, spiritually in the saint. This makes the didache no different than the Ten Commandments or the Torah. It merely becomes a written code that must be followed and does not provide the catalyst for obeying it.
We have suggested through out this blog that the catalyst for obedience is faith in God’s mercy, love and, grace. That is the first order of business and will produce love for God and each other when completely believed. This requires the obedience of faith. This requires a cleansed conscience. This requires one to be at peace with God by resting in his provision. This focuses on the importance of Hebrews, chapters three and four and, an understanding of the Sabbath Rest. In other words, one must be at peace with God from resting in his finished work. The didache does not even approach this concept. It is akin to the Sermon on the Mount which was spoken to Jews who were under the Law of Moses and served as an amplifier of the Law.
I am not suggesting that the SOTM is not a worthwhile goal. I am saying that if it was impossible for the Jews to be righteous under the law of Moses... how much more is it impossible for a Christian to be righteous under an even higher standard. Remember Jesus said that one should have a better righteousness than that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 5:20.) Paul stated that as a Pharisee, in the righteousness that was from the Law he was blameless (Phil 3:6.) I ask then... what righteousness can exceed blameless? The righteousness of God imputed for faith of course!
Look at the promises again; “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezek 36:26-27 And... “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jeremiah 31:33b-34.
The bottom line is that the transformation comes from believing the last part of Jeremiah 31:34, I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more. Grace and faith alone are the catalyst for the transformation. The didache can be informative in what the new creation will act like but, it will not create it. Only the gospel of grace and the finished work of Jesus can do that!
Monday, November 1, 2010
We looked at the concept of the “gospel but” in a recent post... it goes like this... Jesus paid it all “but” you must do this. The “do this” varies from person to person but, essentially it is the same concept with the same disastrous results. The “but” is always a fleshly action that can be accomplished by the believer. The person who is presenting the Jesus paid it all “but” message always tells the people that it is because Jesus paid it all and did it all that we are enabled to do whatever the “but” is. What is never explained is how Jesus does it for us exactly or, what the result of his enabling will be. In other words, the catalyst for our enabling is never explained. The person hearing the message is always left with a question as to how this can be done. Unfortunately for most, when they are unable to perform whatever the “but” is they merely think that it is just them...wrong, let me let you in on a secret; the person giving the “gospel but” sermon doesn’t have a clue as to how Jesus will do it for him or her and they always feel inadequate also.... never satisfied.... never secure.... always presenting the gospel “but,”
There are over nineteen volumes of the Talmud containing thousands of pages of writings. This was written down to explain the operation of obeying the Law of Moses. It took thousands of pages and at the end of the day there is no one way of interpretation.... that’s right, the rabbis simply do not agree. This by the way is likely what Jesus referred to when he spoke to the Pharisees about their traditions and the traditions of the fathers. Jesus on the other hand was able to explain this in just a few words. He spoke those in Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 22:38-40.
So then, what is it that the gospel is supposed to produce in the saint? The answer is love (the fruit of the Spirit.) It is not the “gospel but” this or that. It is simply the gospel and love. Oddly, the “gospel but” preaching does the opposite of producing love. It produces anger, fear, anxiety, despondency and resentment. This is precisely why the people of God, the saints are so doggone mean. This is the source of their angry judgmental attitudes. This is the source of their fear of never being quite acceptable... always thinking.... God did all that for me, how can I commit myself to him? So sad.
This all stems from a constitutional, legal reading of the scripture. The constitutional reading is forced by seeing the bible as the word of God and not just the Holy Scriptures. This is precisely why Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase word of God to mean the gospel or Jesus,the living gospel. Yet the constructional reading reigns. This is unfortunate because we have established many times in this blog that Jesus taught a redemptive focus to the scripture. He taught that the scripture was a narrative of redemption and God’s grace. He taught that God was abba (papa).
The truth is that faith in the gospel alone... without the “buts” produces in us a love for God and what’s more, peace with God. This is so important. This is reconciliation. Being reconciled to God is realizing that he is not mad at us... not expecting anything from us and, only desiring that we love him with all our heart, mind and, strength. We can only do this from resting in the peace he has provided; a peace that passes all understanding. We will NEVER see the true transformation of this world until we totally embrace the gospel without the “buts.”
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