Today I want to answer a question that was on the comment section of the last blog post “Repaying with affliction those who afflict you” I think that this is a very important question and, if we are ever to get our theology right this question must be answered.
Melanie asks this question“just finished reading the unraveling of revelation by Patrick Stone. Have you read it? It's along this same line. If we are past revelation, then where does that leave us?”
I am a preterist. What I mean by that is that I believe that the prophecy of the New Testament writers was written to the intended readers of that day. I believe that Jesus and his apostles expected an imminent fulfillment of prophecy during the generation of the first century believers that was contemporary with Jesus. I believe that the book of Revelation and the so called “little apocalypses” in the gospels were written about events that would be fulfilled within the generation that was contemporary with Jesus and his followers. Further, I believe that the day of the Lord was a prophecy about events that would happen to the unbelieving Jews that rejected and crucified Jesus.
So, Melanie’s question is about these beliefs and the ramifications they pose. If these prophecies happened contemporaneously with the first century believers, what does that mean to us? What about the heaven’s melting? … heaven and earth passing? … the new heavens and earth coming? These are all valid questions. There is one problem however; answering these questions demands that one sees nuance. That has been the prime mission of this blog thus far. I have tried to offer an alternative that squares better with what is written in scripture; One that is equally as valid as the current accepted norm of doctrine and dogma. In fact, I have suggested quite strongly that we must see that the current accepted doctrine is just absolutely wrong; wrong about the definition of the word of God… wrong about purpose of the scripture… wrong about the use of the law… wrong about the transition that took place in the New Testament writings, and wrong about the timing and fulfillment of New Testament prophecy.
What is the significance of the destruction of the temple and the dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem? This is indeed a very important question. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist Church… that I was there every time the doors opened from infancy to my early twenties, I really never was made aware that the temple and Jerusalem was destroyed or that Jesus prophesied that it would be. It had no place in the doctrine that I was taught. Further, for much of my adult life it has never been addressed in any of the churches I have attended. Yet, it was addressed time and time again in the New Testament.
The New Testament writings show a time of transition; a time between two covenants, two ages. While the Old Covenant was limping back in the first century it still had some efficacy. There were two side by side groups that claimed to be God’s chosen people; one was the unbelieving Jews with their temple and worship, and the other was made up of believers who saw themselves as a temple growing, made up of living stones, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone. One group was persecuting the other. To an outsider it would appear confusing. As long as the temple stood the Jews were obligated to temple worship. It was an important part of their spiritual lives. Paul participated in temple sacrifices when he returned to Jerusalem (Acts 21:26.) This was in his final years. He would soon be taken to Rome as a prisoner, and yet he still sacrificed in the temple. The reason was simple. Paul was in a transition between the end of the Mosaic age and the age to come… the new covenant age.
It should be clear that the destruction of the temple would mark the end of the old covenant. By destroying the temple and fulfilling Jesus prophesied words God was putting the final stamp on the New Covenant and the age to come, the kingdom age. With the destruction of the temple, God would vindicate the followers of Jesus. He would vindicate the new temple made up of people. He would usher in completely the New Covenant. With the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, God would make Jesus enemies his foot stool.
So back to Melanie’s question; where does that leave us? It leaves us strictly in the New Covenant. It puts us in the age to come. It makes us, who are the believers, the New Jerusalem. It is the restoration of all things. Humanity has once again been restored to God in the last Adam. There is but one covenant. It is the New Covenant. God is not remembering sin. We have the ability to bring forth the kingdom of God. That is precisely what we should be doing but unfortunately we are settling for the kingdom of church. That was a transitional structure while they were awaiting the judgment of Jesus enemies in the first century.
I have a lot more to say about this. Melanie’s question needs a more specific answer but this will have to do for today. This blog post is nearly twice as long as usual and I like to present this in small bite size chunks that can be digested slowly.