Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not sparing the flock; the leaven of the Pharisees & the strong Delusion: Implications to ponder part I

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Before we look at some of the obvious implications of what we have covered this far in the blog, it is important to recap the following points. Instead of sharing this particular posting with you dear reader, referring to we/us, I would like to shift for the moment to me and what I have discussed. I have shown that the current evangelical and fundamental view of the scripture, i.e., referring to the bible as the word of God, is not what Jesus and his apostle’s taught. They taught that the word of God was Jesus and the gospel and that the scripture was the scripture. This changes the focus to redemption and therefore, the scripture is the source of understanding the gospel and not necessarily a handbook for faith and practice…It can be used that way sparingly but not to the extent that it is used today.

I have looked at a transition between covenants that began with John the Baptist and continued on to 70CE the destruction of the temple and, even on to 135CE and, the plowing under of Jerusalem. While it has not been developed that much yet, I have begun to look at the Jew-Gentile distinction that was present in the New Testament writings. Likewise, I have looked at the blending of covenants during this time of transition and how that has carried over into evangelical and fundamentalist doctrine and dogma.

Finally, I have looked at the imminent expectation of the fulfillment of prophecy, the actual grammatical expression of the beliefs surrounding the end of the age and the age to come. I have shown that this expectation was limited to the generation alive at the time of Jesus and that it is everywhere in the New Testament writings. I have suggested that the imminence is stated in such a way as to demand seeing first century fulfillment.

This leads me to conclude that there is a lot about current evangelical doctrine that is questionable to say the least. Let me state right here that I see clearly that the church through out the centuries did pass on enough of the gospel message, (at times with greater light and at times with the light shrouded more), but in any case…the gospel message, the work of Christ on behalf of humanity, has been handed down from generation to generation via the church. And thereby we owe gratitude to the church no matter what the status of light is. With this I think that the apostle Paul would agree (Philippians 1:15).

Let me state plainly that I have a very high Christological view. In my opinion and belief, Jesus is God and is the uniquely first born son, that while in him, I am like him, he is greater than me. I am comfortable with the apostle’s creed. The farther removed from the first century, the more skeptical I am of creeds in general. I thank you for the opportunity to state my beliefs lest some should conclude things about my beliefs that are erroneous.

This post is growing a little long but I want point out that in the next posts I will point out exactly what I think the implications are and what we can gather from these implications.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Not sparing the flock; the leaven of the Pharisees & the strong Delusion

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Shifting gears for a few posts, we will look at Paul’s and Jesus’ warnings in view of imminent expectation of the end of the age. So, in considering this we will look at Jesus’ warning concerning the leaven of the Pharisees, Paul’s warning about the pollution of the flock to the elders of Ephesus in Acts twenty and, the prophecy of the strong delusion in 2Thessalonians chapter two.

There is a record of Jesus’ warning about the leaven of the Pharisees in all three synoptic gospels (Mat 16:6-11; Mark 8:5; Luke 12:1). In the Matthew account he identified the leaven of the Pharisees as their teaching or doctrine and in Luke he warned that the leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy.

We can find places in the New Testament where the Pharisee believers questioned the inclusion of the Gentiles via the gospel. Acts fifteen and, Paul’s letter to the Galatians sheds light on the leaven of the Pharisees. It was a teaching that promoted Law righteousness which was explained as self righteousness in Romans 10:1-4. Paul went so far as to say that in establishing their own righteousness by the Law, the Jews did not submit to the righteousness of God.

It is important to emphasize that in the book of Acts, Paul who was expecting an imminent fulfillment of the end of the ages warned the Ephesians that after he left, wolves would come in not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Paul also warns Timothy that in the last days, the imminent first century last days I might add, that some will depart from the faith because of the doctrines of demons.

Finally, in 2 Thessalonians chapter two, Paul talks about an apostasy from the faith that would happen before the parousia, the coming of the Lord in judgment (2Thess 2:11-12). When one looks at the imminent expectation of the New Testament scriptures it is apparent that this strong delusion will influence the believers and that because they did not love the truth, God turned them over to a strong delusion so that they would actually believe what is false.

Two historical figures could possibly be seen as a fulfillment of this prophecy. The beast could well be Nero and, the false prophet could be John of Giscala, a false messianic figure that took refuge in the temple, killed the high priest and put another in his place. The high priest that John installed was not from the proper lineage to be a high priest. There are many historians and theologians that see 666 as Aramaic code for Nero. Certainly, Nero demanded that he be worshipped as lord and savior of the Roman Empire and its subjects. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

This Generation Part II

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Moving on with the discussion of verses in the synoptic gospels where Jesus referred to this generation we will take a look at a few more in context. Mat 11:16-19  "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,  (17)  "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'  (18)  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'  (19)  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds." In this passage the generation referred to are the people who were alive to witness the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus. Therefore, it would only be logical to consider that he meant the forty year generation that interacted with his ministry.

Next; Mark 8:38  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Here again in this verse, with the addition of the adulterous and sinful generation is a midrash reference to Deu 1;34-35. Now then, the only generation that could be ashamed of him is the generation he interacted with so, we have yet another verse with the Greek word genea in it in which Jesus is obviously speaking about the generation alive at the time of his ministry and definitely not referring to this class of people, i.e., Jews in general that could be postponed to a time two thousand years distant. He was obviously speaking of the current generation.

And; Luk 1:50  And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. In this verse, the idea of generation to generation demands that it be viewed as a generation of forty years.

In two posts we have looked at several passages from the gospels that the word generation (genea) is clearly meaning generation in the way in which it looks at a family that goes from parent to child and the child grows up to be able to have children.

Isn’t it very likely that Jesus meant generation in the same way in Matthew 24:34?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Generation Part I

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

The phrase, this generation or, this evil generation or, this evil and adulterous generation is found twenty-five times in the synoptic gospels. It is spoken by Jesus each of the times. There is great debate about what this generation means among theologians. Liberal theologians, who do not see Jesus as the Son of God, to a person, claim that generation means just that, the forty year period that it takes for children to grow up and have children of their own. Many evangelical theologians argue that it could mean a future generation and, some claim that it could mean this type of people meaning Jews and not a specific generation as we know it today.
The phrase this evil generation is found in the Old Testament in Deu 1:34-35 "And the LORD heard your words and was angered, and he swore,  (35)  'Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers,” In this passage it means generation, a forty year period. The Hebrew word is DOR which means generation, forty year period.

Theologians who understand Jewish midrash agree that Mat 12:39-42 is a reference by Jesus to Deu 1:34-35.  But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  (40)  For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  (41)  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.  (42)  The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here”.

In this passage, Jesus is speaking to and about the Pharisees that are questioning him and, accusing him of getting his power from Satan. In this passage he is speaking of a forty year generation… a specific forty year generation…the forty year generation that is alive right then with him. That is the generation that he was preaching to and this was the generation which saw one greater than Solomon.

Now look at Luke chapter seventeen. Luke 17:25  But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.This has to mean the generation that is alive during his ministry….a forty year generation. They are the generation that rejected him.

So, now we come to Luke chapter twenty-one. Luke 21:32  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. It does not make sense that he would be referring to this class of people, i.e., these Jews will not pass until all has taken place but, that the forty year generation… the one alive at the time of his earthly ministry would not pass until all ways fulfilled. He predicted that all would be fulfilled within forty years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Many evangelical theologians have tried to explain away the many this generation statements in the New Testament by questioning what was meant by next generation, and while we will take up Jesus use of this generation in another post, I want to deal with the statement that is the most difficult to push into a two thousand year plus future. He is speaking to the twelve disciples before he sends them out and, so it is not to a future group….it is to the twelve apostles; in fact they are named by name in passage.

Here it is:
Mat 10:23  When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

First, when Jesus uses the phrase son of man he is evoking the image of Daniel 7:13-14. While the phrase is used a great deal by Ezekiel referring to himself it gets its messianic meaning from Daniel. We can rest assured that when Jesus referred to himself as the son of man he was speaking in messianic terms.

Let’s look at the Daniel passage:
Dan 7:13-14  "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  (14)  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

When he speaks of the coming of the son of man he is speaking of coming with the clouds of heaven in dominion and power. He is speaking of an everlasting non-destructible kingdom  Therefore, when he states that… the twelve shall not go through all of the towns of Israel before the son of man comes…it becomes impossible to extend that prophecy beyond the first century.

If you are a believer in Jesus as I am….If you believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God as I do….If you believe in the kingdom of God as I do….If you believe in the New Covenant as I do –then- from my point of view, you must find a way in which this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century just like Jesus said it was.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Forty verses that show imminent expectation of the end of the age in the first century

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Below I have listed forty verses that show that the apostles and Jesus expected an imminent fulfillment of the incoming kingdom of God and the end of the age. This list is not exhaustive but it shows a preponderance of evidence for this view. In future posts we will examine some of the verses in their greater context. I realize that this post is longer than 500 – 600 words but I wanted to list these verses in one place.

Verses that show imminence:

  1. (Mat 3:2 ESV)  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
  2. (Mat 3:7 ESV)  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
  3. (Mat 3:10 ESV)  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  4. (Mat 3:12 ESV)  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
  5. (Mat 4:17 ESV)  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
  6. (Mat 10:7 ESV)  And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
  7. (Mat 10:23 ESV)  When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
  8. (Mat 12:32 ESV)  And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
  9. Mat 16:27-28 ESV  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.  (28)  Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
  10. Mat 21:40-45 ESV  When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?"  (41)  They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons."  (42)  Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?  (43)  Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.  (44)  And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him."  (45)  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.
  11. Mat 24:34 ESV  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
  12. Mat 26:63-64 ESV  But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God."  (64)  Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."
  13. Mar 12:9-12 ESV  What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.  (10)  Have you not read this Scripture: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;  (11)  this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"  (12)  And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.
  14. Mar 13:30 ESV  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
  15. Luk 3:7 ESV  He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
  16. Luk 3:9 ESV  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
  17. Luk 20:15-19 ESV  And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  (16)  He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Surely not!"  (17)  But he looked directly at them and said, "What then is this that is written: "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'?  (18)  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him."  (19)  The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.
  18. Luk 21:22 ESV  for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
  19. Joh 21:22 ESV  Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!"
  20. Rom 13:11-12 ESV  Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from 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.
  21. Rom 16:20 ESV  The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
  22. 1Co 7:29 ESV  This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none,
  23. 1Co 7:31 ESV  and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
  24. 1Co 10:11 ESV  Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
  25. 1Co 16:22 ESV  If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!
  26. Heb 1:1-2 ESV  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  (2)  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
  27. Heb 6:5 ESV  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
  28. Heb 9:26 ESV  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
  29. Jam 5:1-8 ESV  Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.  (2)  Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.  (3)  Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.  (4)  Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  (5)  You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  (6)  You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.  (7)  Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.  (8)  You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
  30. 1Pe 1:5 ESV  who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
  31. 1Pe 1:20 ESV  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake,
  32. 1Pe 4:7 ESV  The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
  33. 1Pe 4:17 ESV  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
  34. 1Pe 5:1 ESV  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
  35. 1Jo 2:8 ESV  At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
  36. 1Jo 2:18 ESV  Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
  37. Rev 1:1 ESV  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
  38. Rev 3:10-11 ESV  Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  (11)  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
  39. Rev 22:6 ESV  And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place."
  40. Rev 22:7 ESV  "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

Monday, January 25, 2010

On whom the end of the ages has come

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

We are in the middle of a discussion about the end of the age as it was meant by the New Testament authors. We have been looking at the idea that the end of the age was in 70CE at the destruction of the temple. And, that it was the end of the Old Covenant age and the beginning of the New Covenant age or, the age to come. There are a lot of verses that show imminent fulfillment. Here are a couple of them:

1Co 10:11, Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

Paul comes out and states that the end of the ages has come on him and his audience. He is speaking to a specific audience about a specific set of problems and he tells them in plain language that the end of the ages has come on them. The our in the verse ties it to the first century saints. Reading this verse any other way would ignore the audience that it was written to.

Heb 9:26  for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

In this verse, written to he Hebrew believers the author states that Jesus appeared at the end of the ages. The end of the ages cannot be a future event since it came at the time of Jesus sacrifice. Interestingly, Pentecost and the destruction of the temple also came at the same general time frame.

It seems that the preponderance of the evidence is mounting as we go along. It would really be helpful…not to mention that it would change the story greatly if we were living in the age to come and not an already/not yet phase of the covenants. It would be possible to declare that all is fulfilled. One could say that heaven and earth passed away and on and on.

We are then left with a choice, either the first century prophecy in the New Testament failed or, believers are the New Jerusalem, all things are new and judgment is passed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When will these things be?

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

In the synoptic gospels, Jesus told his followers of impending judgment, In each of the accounts, the disciples asked him when will these things be? The accounts all started with his prediction of the destruction of the temple. In two of them, Mark and Luke, they only asked about the destruction of the temple and, in Matthew they asked about the destruction of the temple and assumed that it would be the end of the age. Let’s look at the verses from each gospel.

Mar 13:4  "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?"

Luk 21:7  And they asked him, "Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?"

Mat 24:3  As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?"

Everyone of the above verses followed the statement…. "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."  It is clear that Jesus was only talking about the destruction of the temple. It is also important to realize that he did not correct them and tell them that the end of the age would be a much later time. The answers that he gave in the various gospel accounts would have led the apostles to believe that he was linking all of his comments to the end of the age.

Further, it is interesting that the phrase- end of the age - was only mentioned in Matthew, the gospel to the Jews. I think that it may be that the reason was that only the Jews were looking for the end of the age. They were looking for the end of the age and the age to come (Olam Ha Ba). Again, they were not looking for the end of the age to come much later; they were looking for an imminent end of the age. And, it is fascinating to me that he did not correct them. This points to the reality that Jesus expected the end of the age also. So, if this is the case…. Jesus expected the end of the age to be concurrent with the destruction of the temple…then, wouldn’t it make sense to look for a way in which it happened just that way?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Fresh Look at the Abomination of Desolation

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday. You can enlarge the diagram by clicking on it.

In the little apocalypse, Matthew 24, Jesus mentions the abomination of desolation. Many evangelical theologians link this reference with the Man of Lawlessness (2Thess 2) who will set himself up in the temple. But, is that the case? If you look at the biblical time line, you can see that in the long history of the bible, the window between Antiochus Epiphanes and 70CE is very small in relation to the entire time line. It is almost like a bulls eye on a target. Look at Daniel 9:27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator."  It is an interesting description. Notice it states that on the wings of abomination comes one who makes desolate. This could be interpreted that the abomination and desolation are not simultaneous events. This could describe a period of time beginning with the abomination and ending with the desolation.

At any rate, the seventy sevens, considered by all theologians (including Jewish) to be 490 years began when the decree went forth to rebuild Jerusalem. Using Artaxerxes decree in 457BCE as the beginning would bring the total time to 33-34CE. Interesting…the last seven year period would coincide with Jesus ministry. 27CE he was baptized and, three and one half years later he was crucified….in the middle of the last week. He was falsely accused by the Jews and then, three and one half years later (34CE) Stephen was stoned. Now then, forty years from the crucifixion the temple was desolated. John of Giscala took over the temple with a band of rebels, killed the high priest and set another as high priest. This answers the 2Thess 2 man of lawlessness.

The simple fact is that there is a way to look at the scripture that allows fulfillment in the first century. That is after all, the time when it was prophesied to be fulfilled. Jesus said that his generation would not pass until all was fulfilled. Theologians have done linguistic gymnastics with generation (genea Greek) but when you look in context with the other places that he used the word, it seems obvious to me that he meant the generation alive at his time (Matt 12:41).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stuck in the Sixties: The AD60’s

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Here is a post I wrote on a yahoo group discussion group in 2003:

“This old hippie can still remember taking over the ROTC building at Central Michigan University.  Some of my friends are locked or stuck in the sixties.  They are unable to move on past what they remember as the glory days.  They still smoke a joint daily, with long hair, bearded, in bib overalls.  They grow their own.  They listen to the Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and, the Grateful Dead.  You get the picture. . . . . Just up the street a town or two from my home is Berkeley and, if you drive through on any day, you can find the 60+ year old wearing an army field jacket with beard and long hair and, your mind is whisked back to the sixties.

The church is stuck in the 60's also; they are looking for the day of the Lord, the passing of the OC completely, the New Jerusalem and the New Heavens and the New Earth.  They are stuck in the AD 60's and the strong delusion of 2 Thess 2:11-12.  Scott, my brother, you have encouraged me to begin a series of posts to show how stuck the church is.  I'll try to make it no more than one a day.

This is the first and I may follow it with another today only;  If you feel that I have no business doing this then I hope you will delete the post.  When I'm done I'll quit.  I do love you all and I don't think that I am better or smarter.  I do think that dogma has a death grip on even the liberated.  Let's have a barbecue and roast some sacred cows”. (Joe Machuta, yahoo group posting 2003)

Here is a diagram that I made at that time to illustrate my understanding:
The above diagram is interesting to me. It illustrates the major events of the biblical story and the history of the church as well. The strong delusion and the new heaven and earth have progressed concurrently. Your view and belief will tell you if you are awaiting the fulfillment of the New Covenant or if you are living in the reality of it. 

Let’s look at one prophecy of Jesus that could clear up some confusion. 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).” Many are awaiting the abomination of desolation but should they be? If you look at the red rectangle above, you will see that Jesus was talking about the event of the abomination and desolation of the temple. It was abominated in 167 BCE by Antiochus Epiphanes and Desolated in 70CE by Titus of Rome. The Jews believed that Antiochus Epiphanes was the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. (1Maccn1:47-48). Could it be that Jesus was pointing out that while it had been abominated that it was not yet desolated? I personally think so.... if you look at the diagram, the abomination and desolation make up a very small target on the total time line.

We will use this diagram to make other points in subsequent posts. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This Book Will Change Your World; An introductory book review of Kevin Beck’s Free eBook: Part II

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

Kevin Beck has written a gem entitled This Book Will Change Your World. What’s more, you can get it as an eBook for free! It is an informative and enjoyable read…I couldn’t put it down. It deals with how we read and understand scripture and posits an eschatological point of view that brings forth the kingdom of God in its full glory. Below is a quote from the fourth chapter “The End of the World as We Know It.”

In a similar way, Jesus and the apostles announced the end of the world as they knew it. And the world they expected to end was not planet earth. Instead, they anticipated the end of one world-order characterized by a particular covenant between God and Israel and a new one typified by a new covenant. We can call each of these world-orders a “covenant world.”

It might surprise you to hear someone say that the Bible doesn’t discuss the end of the physical universe and the destruction of the planet—especially when so many preachers tell you that it could happen any moment now. --Hurry up! Get your life straightened out before the world comes to an end!-- But that’s exactly what I’m putting out there for your consideration: The end of the physical universe is never in view in the entire Hebrew-Christian Bible. (Kevin Beck page 64)

Much of the apocalyptic language used in the New Testament to describe the transition of covenants was symbolic – poetic language. Kevin underlines this in the book. In the following quote he is discussing Paul’s allegorical description of the two covenants in Galatians chapter four. Paul stated that two Jerusalem’s were symbolic of the two covenants. Hagar was the symbol for the old covenant and Sarah was the symbol for the new covenant, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.

Jerusalem and the temple served the focal point of what the entire first world-order was about. Separation. God’s presence veiled. Do and live. Its removal signified the end of one world and the beginning of another. The veil of the temple was torn, and humanity entered into the very presence of God through a new and living way into a New Creation. “As long as Herod’s Temple stood, the symbols of the Old Covenant system stood intact….the heavenly Jerusalem would come down only after the earthly Jerusalem was taken out of the way.”157 (Kevin Beck page 80)

Here is a Venn diagram from the book that graphically shows the transition and the importance of the Christ event; Notice that Beck includes the destruction of the temple in 70CE in the Christ event. I do too. The Christ event ran all the way from the forerunner, John the Baptist to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant.
Again, I encourage you to get a free copy of the eBook and read it for yourself. Actually, you can get a copy for your library at Amazon. I also encourage you to comment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Book Will Change Your World; An introductory book review of Kevin Beck’s Free eBook: Part I

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday. (Joe Machuta)

Kevin Beck has written a gem entitled This Book Will Change Your World. What’s more, you can get it as an eBook for free! It is an informative and enjoyable read…I couldn’t put it down. It deals with how we read and understand scripture and posits an eschatological point of view that brings forth the kingdom of God in its full glory. Below is a quote from the first chapter “The beginning of the end.”

“We live in amazing times. Education and communication have given people ready access to information. Today we can see that no one holds a monopoly on Scripture or the way it is read. Five hundred years ago you might have been tortured if you dared to propose an alternative to the accepted view. Three hundred years ago you might have been banished to Rhode Island. A generation ago, you might have been sent a letter of disfellowship.

But today we live in a pluralistic world. You have freedom of conscience to read the Biblical story in ways that resonate with your inner self. In fact, as someone who believes in loving God with heart, mind, soul, and strength I’m convinced that we’re at our best (even our most faithful) when we exercise our God-given gifts of questioning, thinking, and searching. We don’t do God or ourselves any favors when we let someone else think on our behalf.” (Kevin Beck, page 10-11)

We should be Bereans. I know, I say that all the time…but it is true. I am introducing this book in hopes that you will take the time to read it. It is only 137 pages and as I mentioned above, in eBook form, it’s free. It has an eschatological view that sees the fulfillment of all things in the first century and therefore, remains faithful to the original message of the New Testament writings. We have already begun looking at the imminence of the New Testament writings and, this little book explains it in a very thoughtful and easy to understand manner.

Kevin offers a new and fresh way to read the bible. It is a way that emphasizes the revelation that the apostle John relayed in his first epistle…the revelation that God is love/agape. He has developed a couple of new words that I like a lot, i.e., agapeology and agapetheism. He sees the bible as the source of understanding God’s purpose in love; love for God and, love for humanity.

Over the next few posts that deal with imminence and the significance of 70CE, I will refer to this book from time to time and will share a venn diagram that puts the covenantal transition into a very understandable graphic. My advise is take the time to get a copy and read it for yourself!


This post is written with the permission of Kevin Beck.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Imminent New Covenant with Immanently Better Promises

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

As we discussed in earlier posts, the New Testament writings show a transition between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. In looking at the expectation of the consummation of the New Covenant we will turn to Hebrews chapter eight.

Heb 8:13  In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The word translated as ready to vanish in this verse is the Greek word eggus. In the NIV it is translated as will soon disappear. The definition of eggus is at hand, nigh, ready or, near. There is no way that one could possibly postpone the fulfillment of this two thousand years and be truthful. If, the new covenant has not been consummated by now then the passage as written has failed. The audience to which this was written would expect that the Old Covenant would vanish within his or her generation. It is impossible that fulfillment could be put off two thousand years. We will see eggus quite often as we explore imminence in the New Testament.

For now though, we want to keep the focus on the New Covenant. The majority of evangelical theologians and denominations do not and would not embrace the idea that the New Covenant has been consummated in its intended fullness. They see the overlapping of covenants that was obvious in the New Testament writings. This is made manifest in the number of people who accept the already/not yet idea that is so apparent in the New Testament writings. They see the new covenant as already instituted but not yet consummated. This is precisely why it is important to look at the predominate theme of imminence in the New Testament. In the first century scriptures there is an expectation of imminent fulfillment. Once you become aware of it….it is everywhere.

In fact, not only were the first century Christians expecting imminent fulfillment of prophecy, the Jews too were expecting the end of the age and, the beginning of the age to come (olam ha ba.)  They were expecting the New Covenant to be brought in by the Messiah.

How would the first century Jewish believers view ready to vanish away? Well, they would have tied the vanishing to the destruction of the temple prophesied by Jesus. They were told that the Old Covenant would vanish when the temple was destroyed. This destruction would be the day of the Lord, the coming of the Son of Man, the final judgment of the Old Covenant economy and the consummation of the New Covenant.

Heb 9:8  The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Monday, January 18, 2010

What is the significance of 70AD when considering the Old and New Covenants: Essential question #5

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. However, the blog is meant to be a series and so if you find it interesting you can go back and read it or, if you would prefer you can download a PDF of the entire blog. This PDF will be updated every Saturday so that it will have the entire blog, from first post to last, through the latest Saturday.

In the last post we continued looking at obedience; both, obedience from the heart (the obedience of faith) and legal obedience. I want to reiterate that legal obedience or law obedience is not salvific. It does not save and, it does not keep one saved. In other words, while it is important in a saint’s life, it is not the deciding factor….grace, faith and, love are the prime forces.

It seems that before we can go on with the Obedience of Faith thread we have to spend some time answering another of the essential questions. These are essential questions that are necessary for uncovering the apostle’s teaching or doctrine. The need for essential questions to recover the apostle's doctrine of course, assumes that the necessity of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, suggested that it would be reasonable to look for the apostle’s teaching as opposed to the teaching of the early church fathers and church tradtion. Let’s look at question number five. Could it be that church doctrine and tradition was off the mark?
  1. What is the significance of the Cross – and what is the significance of 70AD when considering the New and Old Covenants?
The answer to the first part of the question is that the cross instituted the New Covenant Matt 26:28. The answer to the second question is that 70AD and the destruction of the temple was the consummation of the New Covenant. It was the passing of heaven and earth. The old heaven and earth was the Old Covenant and, the new heaven and earth was the New Covenant

There was an expectation of imminence in the first century writings. The New Testament is full of this imminent expectation. I want to be sure that I define imminent. It should not be confused with eminence nor, immanence….. Imminent means that it is likely to occur at any moment….eminence is a high station or rank….and, immanent is remaining within, indwelling. Inherent….so, Jesus is eminent, the Holy Spirit is immanent and the scripture has imminence…smile.

We will be looking at imminence in the next few posts as we explore the destruction of the temple in 70AD. I realize that the three words that sound so much alike are confusing but it is important to understand that for our purposes, imminent is the word that we will be using and let me repeat….it means that it is likely to occur at any time and, that it is expected soon. There is no way that one could postpone something that was imminent for two thousand years and still have it be imminent. In fact, waiting a generation for fulfillment is pushing the envelop for imminent which I think, is the reason behind 2Peter 3:9.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Obeying from the heart; The Obedience of Faith: Part II

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. The blog is meant to be a series however.

In the last post we began to look at obeying from the heart or, the obedience of faith. In this post we will look at Romans 6:17. But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, What does obedient from the heart mean? I am quite certain that it is the obedience of faith.

There are so many evangelicals that claim to believe in salvation by grace through faith but in the end, invariably, they tie law obedience to salvation. Furthermore, they have expanded the law to include everything written in the New Testament as well as the Mosaic code. This actually makes the burden of Christian obedience greater than the burden of Jewish obedience. Now again, do not get me wrong…I am not saying that the Christian should not obey but, what I am saying is that obedience and salvation are not tied together. Legal obedience is not salvific.

Lets take a look for example at Matt 5:17-20: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  (18)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.  (19)  Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  (20)  For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

It will take more than one post to deal with this verse but let’s begin here. First, Jesus audience is Jews under the Mosaic Covenant….remember the Jew – Gentile distinction.  The Gentile however is not under the Mosaic Covenant so; at the most, the above passage speaks of the jots and tittles of the Mosaic Law which would put the Jewish believer under all the jots and tittles of the Law. The iota and the dot (jot and tittle) are the smallest strokes of the Greek language. Jesus is therefore telling them that until heaven and earth pass and, all is fulfilled… not only will the Law not change or disappear… but, not even the smallest grammatical mark will either.

As I said, this cannot be addressed in one post but, for this post let’s look at verse 20 of the above passage.  ”For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Interesting…… Paul was a Pharisee, in fact in Philippians three, he says that he a Hebrew’s Hebrew and that when it came to the righteousness that is found in the Law he was blameless. Hmnnn………..  blameless, well what kind of righteousness could exceed blameless? Could it be the righteousness of God, imputed righteousness? Of course it is…it is the righteousness that comes from the obedience of faith!

Now then, we have not even discussed what all being fulfilled means. We have not yet discussed the passing of heaven and earth. These we will take up as time goes on if the Lord is willing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Obeying from the heart; The obedience of faith: Part I

The introductory post explains the purposes, goals and scope of this blog. If you have not read it, I suggest you start there and then, look through the posts to get a feeling for where I have gone and where I am going. But, if you don’t have the time, feel free to read this post alone. The blog is meant to be a series however.
 
It seems like the right place to inject the concept of the the obedience of faith and obeying from the heart. This will help us gain some insight into the purpose of the law in the transition between the covenants. The place to begin is with Paul’s concept of obedience. I am afraid that we will have to get a little nuanced and technical for this inquiry; so bear with me and if I don’t communicate the idea well enough don’t hesitate to contact me or comment. This is a very important part of my paradigm shift and so it will take a few posts to explain this in the detail necessary.
 
First, we will look at Romans 1:5 from two different versions of the bible:
Rom 1:5 ESV  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
Rom 1:5 KJV  By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
 
Do you notice the difference? In the ESV it says obedience of faith and in the KJV it says obedience to the faith. This makes a big difference. Obedience of faith is obedience that is brought about by faith and, obedience to the faith is obedience to a set of principals known as the faith. Which did Paul mean? Did he mean obedience to the faith, i.e., obedience to a set of principals or, did he mean the obedience of faith, an obedience that comes from faith? Would it surprise you to find out that he meant the obedience of faith? He did.
 
So how do we prove this? Well, if you look at Romans 16:26 in the KJV you will see that it was rendered as; But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: The Greek phrase is the same in both verses. The exact Greek phrase is hupakoen pisteos. Pisteos is the genitive case of the noun pistis and thereby, must be rendered as the obedience of faith.
This leaves us wondering why it was translated as obedience to the faith in the KJV. Especially when it was translated as obedience of faith in Romans 16:26 in the KJV. Was it a mistake or, was there a doctrinal ax to grind? In either case, it is a very big difference in meaning.
 
This concept will be key in explaining the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant and will help us look at obedience from a different perspective. In the next post we will look at Romans 6:17 in relation to this idea in that verse Paul speaks of obeying from the heart.

Majoring in Minor Things

Not too long ago I heard a sermon where a preacher said that the Lord had recently told him that the saints were majoring in minors. What he...