Skip to comments.Christís Second Coming (1)
Posted on 04/07/2005 8:31:12 AM PDT by TheTruthess
Doug Focht, Jr.
On the freeway, hundreds of cars are going in all directions without drivers; in the middle of a football gamezap!suddenly, the quarterback disappears; the UN is in turmoil; millions of people have vanished from the earth with no trace, no warning!1 Thus Hal Lindsay, in his book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, describes an event called the rapture in which millions of people will be taken from earth and transported to heaven. Maybe you've heard talk of this and wonder what it's all about.
Although there are some variations within the premillenial theology of Christ's return, the current popular theory among many fundamental evangelicals regarding Christ's second coming goes something like this:
Before Christ's actual visible coming, He will remove His faithful from the earth. The faithful dead will also be raised to meet them in the air. This is the event which they call the rapture, the event covered in chapter 11 of Lindsay's book. A 7-year period of tribulation follows.
With the removal of the faithful, the world will be free to do it's own thing. Sin will abound. Some believe that thousands of Jews will be converted to Christ during this period and begin to evangelize the world144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams, as Mr. Lindsay refers to them in his sequel, There's a New World Coming.
A world leader will emerge who will promise peace, and at first seem to deliver. After 3 ½ years, though, all hell will break loose, literally, with Satan having his way on the earth by way of the Anti-Christ now ruling the globe. This second 3 ½ - year period is called the Great Tribulation. Some refer to the entire 7-year period as the tribulation.
The armies of the earth will array themselves against the nation of Israel in the northern plain of Megiddo. This is known as the battle of Armegeddon. Most believe this will be a nuclear battle and that many cities of the earth will also be destroyed during this time.
At the end of this period, Christ will return to Israel, set His foot on the mount of Olives, and begin to force His rule on the earth. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years during the period of Christ's reign on the earth (Rev. 20:16). Those righteous people martyred during the Great Tribulation will be raised and His faithful will rule the earth with Him from Jerusalem in a new temple, presumably rebuilt sometime before or during the 7-year tribulation period.
After Christ's 1,000-year reign is over, Satan will be released from his prison and go forth to gather his forces for the final battle. Before this battle can get started, Christ will end it with a bang. The entire earth as we know will be destroyed by fire. God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
This popular view is known as premillenialism, because Christ's return precedes (hence, pre) the 1,000-year reign (a millenium=1,000 years). A few folks believe that the church ushers in a 1,000-year period of peace after which Christ returns to claim His kingdom already set up by the church. That position is called postmillenialism. The third position poses that the 1,000-year reign is not a literal, fixed period of time, nor is it on earth, but it is symbolic of Christ's complete reign from heaven. This is the amillennial position.
Premillenialism is a rather involved theology and it requires much reading and studying to understand. Its complexity on the one hand and the attractive appeal of its signs and predictions on the other draw many Bible-believers into it. The reason for bringing this up here is to demonstrate some basic principles of Bible interpretation. Those of our readers who may be new to or unfamiliar with Scripture, will doubtless ask the question: Where do these ideas come from?
You will notice that except for the passage cited in Rev. 20, I have not listed any of the passages that premillenialists use to support their theory. The reason for this is that they tend to interpret visionary Scriptures literally and literal Scriptures figuratively. To list all of their reasons would go beyond the scope of our short articles. But a few examples here and in our next article should suffice to demonstrate a common-sense approach to biblical interpretation.
Most of the premillenial theology is based upon the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and most significantly, the book of Revelation. Most of the prophecies in these books are visionary and apocalyptic in nature. That is, they use symbols and visions to predict calamities inflicted by God against the unrighteous, while offering steadfast hope to the faithful that no matter how bad things get, God and His kingdom will be victorious. Visions include horses of different colors, multi-headed beasts with horns on their heads, bowls of wrath, trumpets, scorpions, animals that are part bull, part man, part eagle, part bear, and so forth. They all mean something, but what? How are they to be interpreted?
Most of Scripture, including prophecies, are not visionary at all, but are plainly and simply stated. When both a plain-spoken passage and a visionary passage deal with the same subject, common sense would dictate that the visionary passage be interpreted in the light of the plain-spoken passage. For example, when Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, He said, The days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down (Luke 21:6). A few verses later, He gave an indication of what to look for prior to that time when He said, When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand (vs 20). As a matter of history, Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., some 40 years after Jesus predicted it. In this same discourse as it is recorded in Matt. 24, Jesus also referred to a passage in the book of Daniel that has a bearing on His prediction. He referred to something Daniel called the abomination of desolation. Modern premillenialists interpret this passage in Daniel to apply to some world-ruler in the 20th or early 21st century. Some refer to him as the Anti-Christ. But if you take the time to compare Luke 21:2021 with Matthew 24:1516, you will see that the abomination of desolation spoken of in the book of Daniel is associated with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. Notice:
When you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains etc.
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her destruction is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains etc.
Putting these two plain-spoken accounts together, we have a concrete interpretation from Jesus Himself of the abomination of desolation mentioned by the prophet Daniel. It was the destruction of the Jewish temple by the hated Roman Gentiles. Jesus says nothing of an anti-Christ or world-ruler, yet many ignore simple statements like this and prefer to interpret Daniel in a way that goes far beyond Jesus' own interpretation.
It stands to reason that people can be easily misled by using visionary prophecy as the basis for a theology. Yet the theology of premillenialism depends upon reverse interpretation; that is, the plain-spoken is interpreted in the light of the visionary rather than vice-versa.
Here is another example from Revelation 20, the keystone of premillenial theology. There is no question that a thousand-year reign is mentioned here, but is it a literal thousand years? Premillenialists will accuse a critter like me of not taking the Bible literally because I don't believe this to be a literal 1,000 years. Well, let's see now: In verses 12, does the angel bind Satan with a literal chain? Is Satan actually a dragon? Are Gog and Magog in verse 8 actual nations that will arise to be called by that literal name? If all these things are to be interpreted figuratively why should someone bristle if the thousand years are also figurative? Besides, we have biblical precedent for this in plain-spoken passages:
It is said in Deut. 7:9 that God keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him Does this mean He quits in the 1001st generation?
Psalm 50:10 says Every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. Does this mean that God owns only the cattle on 1,000 hills?
Here's something else: if Revelation 20 is to be taken literally then,
Only souls come alive and reign with Christ (vs 4). The text doesn't say dead people were raised, it says souls came to life.
Only those souls who had been martyred for Christ reign with Him, not all the faithful (vs 4), and if the point be pressed to its fullest, only those who had been beheaded reign with Him.
Besides these things, there is no specific verse that says this particular reign is upon the earth. So important is this missing link to the premillenial view that Hal Lindsay, in his book, There's A New World Coming actually inserts the words on earth in his quotation of Rev. 20:4. He quotes, and they lived and reigned on earth with Christ a thousand years.2 The title page of Lindsay's book indicates he uses the Living Bible, but the words on earth are not in the copy of the Living Bible that I read, nor have I been able to find any English Bible that has them. More importantly, no ancient Greek text has these words added to them. I wonder if Mr. Lindsay has taken to heart the words of Revelation 22:18: I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book
It is not sufficient to point out deficiencies and inconsistencies in another's position without offering an alternative point of view. In our next article, we will look at the non-visionary Scriptures that deal with Christ's second coming and will see that if you interpret the symbolic passages using the plain-spoken passages, the theology of premillenialism will not stand. There will be no world-ruler; there will be no 7-year tribulation, there will be no literal battle of Armageddon fought in the northern plains of Israel, and there will be no literal reign of Christ on the earth. For as we shall see in succeeding articles, Christ is a king now; he rules the earth now from His throne in heaven, and for those who may be wondering: His kingdom has already come and now is!
Lindsay, Hal. The Late Great Planet Earth, (paper back) Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1970.
Lindsay, Hal. There's a New World Coming: A Prophetic Odyssey, Vision House Publishers (paper back). Santa Ana, CA:1973. The quote is from page 272
From Growing in Grace Vol. 1 #15, October 26, 1996
Heb 8.4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; (NASB)
I don't see any textual evidence in this passage that supports your position that His kingdom is not of this earth. It does clearly imply that He is not physically on the earth right now. But the passage doesnt really address what you are claiming.
I would go back to the Davidic covenant and claim that that covenant is not fulfilled as of yet because the eternal earthly kingdom has not been initiated as of yet.
In fact, the Abrahamic covenant has not been totally fulfilled. If you look at the promised land boundaries that God promised to Abrahams descendents, not all that area mentioned has ever been possessed by the Jewish nation. Therefore, the full land boundaries that God promised Abrahams descendents will be realized sometime in the future.
Now some may say that the advent of the NT has nullified the need for the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. But if you read Psalm 89, you cannot claim that God has replaced the Davidic covenant with something else.
The Davidic Covenant: From 2 Samuel 7 (NASB)
In this passage, Nathan the prophet is instructed by God what to say to David ...
8 "Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.
9 "I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.
10 "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,
11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.
12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; When he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16 "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"
17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Some would say that the kingdom here is referring to some "kingdom in the heart" type of kingdom as a result of the coming of Christ. But the passage is crystal clear that Christ is not subject of this covenant. Since the Jewish nation was already established at the time, there is no good reason from this passage to think that the coming kingdom will not be an Earthly kingdom. Daniel highlights the same concept. His prophecy deals with earthly kingdoms and he states that there is an earthly forever kingdom coming ...
That kingdom on earth will be forever, its what the Jews are expecting, its what they are waiting for, its what the OT predicts, and its what we as Christians will be a part of ...
Let me get this straight. The Jews denied the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They hang onto the Old Law and customs, even though they were just a shadow of what came into being through Christ. And yet, there is an earthly kingdom coming, which is exactly what the Jews are expecting and waiting for, and they will be able to enjoy it along with Christians? That makes absolutely no sense. You are saying that those who deny Christ and those who accept Him are on even ground, and that is totally against the teaching of Scripture.
38But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
44Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. All the Law and the Prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ.
Sorry, but Erasmus wasn't first, 2nd or 3rd century. Desiderius Erasmus was 16th century.
As Paul wrote, by Jesus being crucified, He was "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14).
This means that the New Testament fulfilled the Old, just as you say, so I don't think we disagree on this. All I was pointing out by saying you need to read the first half to understand the rest, is that from reading the Old Testament, you gain valuable insight in order to fully understand the New Testament.
You were perfect up until the last sentence. God still has a plan for the Jews, and it involves the fulfillment of the promises in the OT to David, through Daniel, and the other prophets. So its not that Jews will be able to enjoy something with Christians, but rather we as Christians will be able to enjoy something God has promised the Jews.
Now, concerning the last sentence. No, non one who denies or rejects Christ will be part of the coming kingdom. But the nation of Israel will return (in the future) to God as a result of the events in the book of Revelation. One of Gods main purposes for those 7 years is to bring the Jews to repentance through the terrible events that will take place. The Jews that have lived and died since Christ, and who have rejected Christ ... are lost, just as anyone else since the time of Christ.
That the repentance of the Jews will take place in the future is foretold by Paul in Romans 11. Please read that chapter very carefully. You will understand. Especially when you read all the way down to verse 25 and 26.
What does it say ? ... It says that all of Israel will be saved ... Does that mean that those Jews who have already died rejecting Christ are saved ... NO ! ...
It means that sometime in the future, the entire nation of Israel will receive Christ. When will that happen? ...
I think it happens at the moment of the second coming of Christ ... Matt 24 talks about Christ coming in the clouds of heaven (just like in Daniel 7!) and that all the tribes of the earth shall mourn. Why will the tribes (and tribes refers to Israel) mourn? Because they will look upon him whom they have peirced and realize that He is and has always been their expected Messiah. Have you ever seen a Jew mourn? It will make any conversion we have experienced seem like Romper Room. The entire nation of Israel saved at that moment.
Now you see how we are enjoying the benefits of the Jews rejection, but when they finally receive Christ, it will be even better. Then we as Christians will enjoy the kingdom with them as His bride. The church will still enjoy a special relationship as His bride, but we will also share in the coming earthly eternal kingdom in which Christ will rule.
"The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. All the Law and the Prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ."
But not all the OT has been fulfilled to this day. While it is true that the coming of Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law and did away with it, there is still plenty of OT prophecies which have not come to pass yet.
What is left of prophecy to be fulfilled is the Second Coming, what the Prophets called, "the terrible Day of the Lord".
If what you are saying about Matthew 24 is true, then we have some nearly 2,000 year old people roaming this earth. Verse 34 says "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Matthew 24:1-34 is not in reference to the second coming of Christ. They are in reference to the desctruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Starting in verse 35, and until the end of the chatper, Jesus discusses His second coming. The fact that there are two distinct events discussed in this chapter is evident with careful study.
The Israel mentioned in Romans 11:26 is referring to the spiritual Israel, or Christians. Jews will be saved just like anyone else, by believing in Christ and obeying the Gospel. There is no mention of a mass national salvation in this passage, or any others.
And what of the land boundaries in the Abrahamic covenant, are you saying that God promised something to Abraham that he has no intention of fulfilling?
No, Matt 24:1-34 is not a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. There are some similarities, but it cannot be a reference to 70 AD. There are so many reasons why your interpretation if this important passage is wrong, but let me key on only one aspect.
Verse 21. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
This period of time must be a reference to "The time of Jacobs trouble", "the great and terrible day of the Lord", the "great tribulation period". Since there can be only one time when tribulation is as bad as it can ever be, a study of the OT will show that all these terms are references to the same event. The great tribulation.
If that time of great tribulation happened in 70 AD, then the text in verse 29-31 makes it absolutely crystal clear that the second coming must have already happened. And there is no doubt that verse 30 is a reference to the 2nd coming. Notice the "coming in the clouds of heaven" ... just like in Daniel 7! ... In fact, the ancient Jewish rabbis correctly believed that only absolute diety could come in the clouds of heaven. This is why the high priest tore his clothes off his body in Matt 26.63-65. The high priest immediately recognized what Jesus was claiming when He told the high priest that He would come in the clouds of heaven.
Matt 24 is a reference to the 2nd coming ... no doubt about it. And since the second coming hasnt happened yet, Matt 24 is future fulfillment.
Verse 34 says "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
Since you are sure that all of Matthew 24 is in reference to the second coming of Christ, then where are these over 2000 year old people?
The generation that Jesus was referencing was not the generation that included the disciples, otherwise, the second coming would have happened already. He was referencing the generation that would be alive when all these events take place ... sometime in the future.
Uh... weren't they floated away in step one?
"He will remove His faithful from the earth"
Perhaps if you explain how Matt. 24:29-31 was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, I could understand where you are coming from.
That does not fit the context. You are really reaching to come to that conclusion.
How about verse 36, which says "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." This is in reference to the second coming of Christ. Christ Himself says that no one will know the day and the hour. However, in the earlier part of the chapter, there are a lot of signs that Jesus talks about. How can these be in reference to the same event?
I am not a great Biblical scholar, but from what I have read, these verses deal with the idea that the Lord is orchestrating the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Verse 29 especially seems to be very symbolic. The bottom line is that the two sections of Matthew 24 are clearly talking about two separate events.
It fits the context perfectly, since Jesus was answering the questions "When will these things take place ... What will be the sign of your coming" ... since He has not come yet, which we both would agree on that, He has to be talking about a future generation.
The context of the entire chapter clearly shows that two events are being talked about.