Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD



Enjoy!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Great Olivet Discourse of Jesus (Matthew 24)

The Great Olivet Discourse of Jesus (Matthew 24)

This article represents generally what would be called a "classical futurist understanding" of Jesus' and Daniel's prophecies. The main point is that the Great Tribulation has not yet occurred but that it will,
immediately preceding (Matt. 24:29) the Second Coming of Jesus.

The proof that the prophecy in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 does not refer ultimately to events in AD 70 is simply that we know that Jesus did not return immediately after the terrible time of great tribulation (Matt. 24:29) precipitated by the events of AD 70.

Here the reader is tested. We are to believe Jesus and his claims to be the true spokesman for God. Or was he wrong? This would render his teachings invalid. Christianity involves believing all the words of Jesus, not just the ones we judge to be important!

He predicted cosmic signs and his return immediately after (Matt. 24:29) the end of the one, unique great tribulation, placed by him just before his return, and by Daniel at the end of Daniel's final vision (12:1). The great tribulation as Daniel predicted it was to be followed by the resurrection of the faithful dead (Dan. 12:1-2). Jesus, basing himself on Daniel, taught the same truth about the final time of trouble, which is short and unrepeatable. What follows this final burst of trial and tribulation is the return of Jesus and the resurrection of all the faithful of all the ages
(1 Cor. 15:23, etc.).

The New Testament calls this the "first resurrection" (Rev. 20:6).

There can logically be only one unique Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21 quoting Dan. 12:1) —
just as there is only one unique God, the Father (1 Cor. 8:4-6)
and only one uniquely begotten Son of God (Luke 1:32-35; 1 Tim. 2:5), Jesus.

The great tribulation (Dan. 12:1), the death of a final King of the North in the land (Dan. 11:45), the resurrection of the faithful dead to glory (Dan. 12:2) — these are the events of the end-time in which the disciples were intensely interested. They too knew Daniel's prophecies. Jesus speaks often of the future resurrection of the dead and actually quotes Daniel 12:3 (in Matt. 13:43) as proof of that end-time event. Jesus loved those predictions of Daniel and we should too. We should be prepared to explain them to others, whenever opportunity arises and whenever we create such opportunities!

Jesus refers in exactly the same way as Daniel to the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21) and the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15) which triggers it. These are events which Daniel had written about 600 years before the birth of Jesus. Jesus affirms them as prophecies in the same way that he affirms his own identity as the Son of Man (based on Dan. 7:13). He also affirms the Messianic Kingdom predicted by Daniel (Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 18, 22, 27). None of this simple material is affected by the "abomination of desolation" (Jews referred that term to the activity of Antiochus Epiphanes) occurring in the second century BC. One can say that those events and the ones in AD 70 have things in common, but they are not the ultimate fulfillments of the events predicted by Daniel and Jesus in Matthew 24. Jesus was talking about the "end of the age," not about AD 70 — and certainly not about the second century BC!

Once we challenge the right of Jesus to see prediction in Daniel, we challenge his right to base the Gospel on Daniel's predictions of the coming Kingdom on earth. We challenge likewise Jesus' confirmation of Daniel's prediction of the future resurrection, which has never yet happened. Jesus is to be believed, not challenged! Jesus is our master teacher, when it comes to understanding Daniel and the future. Believing in Jesus means listening to his teachings and helping others with those teachings too.

Doing Away with the Future

An attempt is being made in our time to abolish the prophecies of Daniel and of Jesus. It has long been maintained by a school of scholarly endeavor that Daniel did not write the book which has his name. It was written, they say, by some unknown person living at the time of the events associated with the persecutor of the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes of the second century BC.

There are more subtle ways of assaulting the prophecies of Jesus. One way is to try to detach Jesus' words from their base in Daniel. But Jesus insists on the link to Daniel. He speaks of the words of Daniel which were faithfully recorded, and Jesus expects them to happen as predicted. "Read the book of Daniel and understand" is the gist of Matthew 24:15. Define the Abomination not just by your history book but by the actual words of Daniel.

Jesus said nothing about Daniel's prophecies not being real predictions. If we take that skeptical approach we undermine the certainty of those prophecies, cited from Daniel and affirmed by Jesus, of the resurrection, the Kingdom and the existence of the Messiah, the Son of Man (Dan. 7). There is also of course in Daniel a prediction of the first coming of the Messiah prince (Dan. 9:24-27). And in the same prophecy we have a forecast of "one who comes desolating [m'shomem] on the wing of abominations" (Dan. 9:27). The Hebrew text gives us "he comes desolating." This wicked person is a single individual. That same wicked prince is said to come "to his end" (9:26b, cp. 11:45) in a future flood of judgment. As Jesus said, these prophecies were of the highest relevance to his followers. They were to know "in advance" (Matt. 24:25).

After dealing with the events which would be signs of his future arrival Jesus said:
"This generation will not pass until all these things have taken place" (Mark 13:30).
"All these things" of course refers to the full account he had just given, including the great tribulation, the cosmic signs and the second coming.

Yes, some clergy even gave up believing in Jesus on this text. They resigned their position as church leaders. They were intelligent enough to see that "all these things" did not happen within 40 years, i.e. in AD 70. It was a pity that they did not carefully examine the word translated "generation," especially in the light of its Hebrew background. Jesus could not have meant what English speakers today might understand by "generation." When Jesus was later asked in Acts 1:6 about the time of the coming Kingdom, all he needed to say would have been, "I told you: It is all going to happen within the next 40 years"! That is, if Jesus meant by genea, 40 or 70 years at the most. But he did not.

What Jesus did in fact say was that no one was to know the length of time which would elapse before his return. Therefore he could not have said earlier, "It will all happen within 40 years." And so it is today. No one knows when Jesus will return. Church history is littered with failed date-setting. This ought to teach us to be cautious and to avoid the relentless "hype" which may sell books but disturbs the public.

"Then know that the Kingdom of God is near"

The words "near" and "approaching" are used in the Bible in connection with the apocalyptic coming of the future Kingdom. "Apocalyptic" describes the spectacular intervention of God in Christ. This will happen at what the Bible calls the "end-time" and the return of the Son of Man. Luke in particular is eager to teach us about that future of the all-embracing Kingdom of God, as it supersedes present nation-states and brings into existence the peace on earth we so desperately need (Rev. 11:15-18). The Kingdom of God as it will develop worldwide under the supervision of Jesus and the faithful believers will bring about an idyllic world in which now hostile nations will beat their "swords into plowshares," their tanks into tractors. War and all the present senseless and mindless killing and sexual license will be a thing of the past. People will learn to live as they should. "For only when You come to judge the earth will people turn from wickedness and do what is right" (Isa. 26:9). That is not true of today. At present the Devil has a large measure of control over world affairs (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19) and the human race has chosen not to pay careful attention to God. The results are obvious.

It was the prospect of the future Kingdom of God which moved the crowds to a fever of excitement. They saw Jesus approaching Jerusalem and they cried out "Blessed be," or "God's blessings on the coming Kingdom of our father David" (Mark 11:10). That is the hope of all believers. This is the principal theme of the saving Christian Gospel. We know this because Jesus said so, over and over again. His saving Gospel announcement had the Kingdom as its central topic.
(Mark 1:14-15 says it so clearly.)

The Kingdom of God is the world empire foreseen by all the prophets and notably by Daniel in chapter 7, verses 14, 18, 22, 27. These passages in Daniel should be at the forefront of all Christian conversation about the Kingdom, indeed about the Gospel itself. Why?
Because the Christian Gospel is about the Kingdom of God
(Luke 4:43; Mark 1:14-15, etc.).

Looking at instruction on "how to get saved" on the internet (thousands of sites), one hears almost nothing about believing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Confusion over the Gospel is inevitable if there is confusion over the Kingdom of God. You cannot have the Gospel without a clear definition of the Kingdom. Thus Jesus in Mark 4:11-12 makes an intelligent reception of the Gospel/word of the Kingdom (Matt. 13:19) a condition for repentance and forgiveness. This point is of startling interest to us. It is worth repeating: Mark 4:11-12 records Jesus as stating the key to proper repentance and thus forgiveness.
"He answered them, 'The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: "They see what I do, but they don’t perceive its meaning."
They hear my words, but they don't understand. So they will not turn from their sins and be forgiven' "
(Mark 4:11-12; see NLT for verse 12).
If they did understand the Kingdom Gospel they would repent and be forgiven.

In the mind of Jesus an acceptance of his Kingdom of God Gospel is the prerequisite and condition for genuine forgiveness. Many think that the Gospel is just about accepting the atoning death of Jesus and his resurrection. But that is only a part (and a vital part) of the Gospel. Jesus in Mark 4:11-12 makes it clear that understanding and accepting the Kingdom of God Gospel is necessary so that we can "repent and be forgiven." If we do not receive intelligently the Kingdom of God, we cannot repent and we will not be forgiven. Mark understood this well, as did all the NT writers. Mark puts this caption over the whole of his writing: He introduces Jesus with the announcement — Jesus' first and fundamental command: "Repent and believe the Gospel about the Kingdom of God" (Mark 1:14-15). Readers are invited to ask themselves if they have repented of failure to understand the Kingdom of God, and now intend to embrace the Kingdom message as a basis for forgiveness.

The teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom includes of course a long discourse about events which will precede that coming of the Kingdom in power and glory at the return of Jesus. This information is found three times over, in Matt. 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Jesus focuses on trouble in the Middle East and especially in Israel.

As standard commentaries and Bible dictionaries report: "The desolation of Judea and cosmic catastrophes [darkening of the sun, etc.] will announce the dawn of the end of the age (Luke 21:20ff)." [1] Then come these tremendous words of Jesus, as he reaches the climax of his amazing final discourse on the Second Coming: "So when you see these things happening know that the Kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:31). "When these things begin to take place ... your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28). "The events referred to in Mark 13:30, par. Matt. 24:34 and Luke 21:32 have generally been taken to refer to cosmic events associated with the second coming of Christ" [2].

Parousia is the Greek word for the future coming of Jesus in glory to establish his Kingdom on earth. The view taken "generally" (cited above) is the obvious one required by the ordinary and natural use of words. Jesus had been asked in Matthew 24:3 about the end of the age and his Parousia. The important fact to note here is that the Parousia and the end of the age are the same event. This is easily understood in English versions, but the Greek text emphasizes even more the close connection of the coming and the end of the age.

The end of the age and the Parousia did not happen in AD 70. A completely misleading view of the Second Coming is now being widely promoted in preterist websites and books. Preterism ("past-ism") is the name of the teaching which proposes that the second coming and thus the resurrection of the faithful happened in AD 70.

If one believes that Jesus returned in AD 70, this would mean that the marvelous resurrection of the faithful dead (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19; 1 Cor. 15:43) is already past history! It would mean that the Kingdom of God has already appeared worldwide. It would mean that the last trumpet signaling the resurrection (Rev. 11:15-18) has already been blown!

The New Testament constantly tells us that the Kingdom of God will be inaugurated worldwide only when Jesus comes back. To imagine that the Kingdom of God came when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 is to demonstrate a tragic misunderstanding of the word Kingdom of God and thus of the Gospel itself. The Kingdom of God is defined by the book of Daniel and other OT prophets, and Jesus thought of the Kingdom as the great event of his future coming (Parousia).

This timetable of events is established with complete certainty by Daniel's visions of the future history of the world. It is only when the last of the four great Gentile kingdoms are defeated and destroyed that the Kingdom of God will take their place (Dan. 2:44). The Kingdom will come at a specific time: "the time came when the saints possessed the Kingdom" (Dan. 7:22). It is when the little horn, the final antichrist figure, is put out of commission by being destroyed (7:11) that the Kingdom of God will be given to the saints of the Most High and "all nations will serve and obey them," that is, those saints
(see Dan. 7:27 in the NLT, JPS, RSV and NRSV translations).

It should be perfectly obvious that this is not the situation now. The Christian saints are mostly dead and buried and are thus not ruling the world! It is only at the future resurrection, at the time of the future coming of Jesus, that the saints of all the ages will be brought to life, made alive again by resurrection (John 5:28-29). Then they will be given the privilege as immortalized human beings of ruling and reigning with Jesus in that first stage (the millennium) of the Kingdom of God.

Luke 21:31 reports Jesus as stating: "When you see these things happening, then know that the Kingdom of God is near." It is clear that until you "see these things happening" the Kingdom of God is not near. If you have not seen these things happen, then keep waiting until you (or your children) do see them, and then we can say with Jesus "the Kingdom of God is near," in the sense he intended in Luke 21:31.

What are "these things" or as Matthew reports (24:33) "all these things which are to be witnessed" as sure signs of the impending Second Coming and Kingdom? The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology gives us the facts: "The desolation of Judea and cosmic catastrophes will announce the dawn of the end of the age." …

How can we be certain of this important fact? The close association of trouble in Jerusalem and the end of the age is shown by the form of the question in Matthew 24:3: "Tell us, when will this happen [the ruin of the temple] and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" It is shown also, says the Dictionary rightly,
"with particular clarity by Matthew's expression 'immediately’ after in 24:29."

This is the verse which deserves careful scrutiny by Bible readers wanting to share Jesus' view of the future. Jesus' account of future events associated with his return is straightforward and clear. The time markers (in bold below) emphasize the connection between the events and are easily understood (or should be!). Jesus was responding, we remember, to the question "What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?"
Jesus stated that the end of the age (v. 14) would occur "when you see the Abomination of the Desolation spoken of by Daniel standing in a holy place [Mark 13:14 says "where he ought not to"]. Then flee ... for then there will be great tribulation [Dan. 12:1] such has never been since the beginning of the world and never again will be …
Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24:15-31).

We suggest that this plain narrative of events is unmistakably clear. This has not prevented however an endless variety of "interpretations," which are often nothing less than an avoidance of the ordinary meaning of words.
The phrase "immediately after" could not be clearer. Jesus' language is tightly constructed, allowing for no possibility of ambiguity. It is extraordinary to read in some commentary how hard these words are for some. It was suggested to me recently by a good friend that the words "immediately after the tribulation of those days" really mean "immediately after the beginning of the tribulation" or "some 90 years into the time of the great tribulation." But no one else could extract that meaning from the words! Does "immediately after lunch" mean "immediately after the beginning or middle of lunch"? If it did words have ceased to have coherence. The only hope of unity is around plain words, understood in a natural fashion (allowing of course for some Hebrew idioms and word usage).

Having announced the future as involving trouble in Jerusalem and the temple, Jesus said, "When you see all these things know that he is near, at the gates. Truly I tell you that this generation will not pass away before all these things happen" (Matt. 24:33-34). Enormous struggle has arisen from this verse. If "generation" is taken to mean within 40 or 70 years, then clearly Jesus was quite wrong. The skeptics charge him with false prophecy. But they fail to take into consideration that later, in Acts 1:7 Jesus deliberately told the disciples,
"It is not for you to know the time [fixed points of time] and seasons" in regard to his return. Imagine now how strange that would be if Jesus had earlier said to them, "I am coming back within one generation." The two concepts would be in direct contradiction. How then are we to explain "this generation will not pass" before the Kingdom comes?

Two suggestions should be ruled out as unnatural. Jesus did not say "this nation (the Jews) will not pass away." The word genea (pronounced in modern Greek yennayah) does not mean nation which is genos (yennos) in Greek. Even less likely is the suggestion that Jesus meant "that (future) generation will not pass away."
Jesus said "this generation," not "that generation."

The key here lies in the very Hebrew meaning of the word "generation." It is always a fatal mistake to disregard the Hebrew environment of the words of Jesus. It is wooden and unskilled just to hear words in our 21st-century English sense, at least in the cases of technical terms like "generation." In Psalm 12:7 David wrote these comforting words:
"You, O YAHWEH, will watch us; You will guard us from this generation forever. On every side the wicked prowl" (translation following the Word Biblical Commentary on Psalms, p. 136). The New International Dictionary senses the meaning of "generation" in its Hebrew sense: "In these passages the demonstrative 'this generation' has a pejorative character, that is the reference is to a class of people who stand over against the children of light and are further described [by Jesus] as faithless (Mark 9:19) and 'faithless and perverse' (Matt. 17:17), adulterous (Mark 8:38), evil and adulterous (Matt. 12:39) and evil (Luke 11:29) and crooked (Acts 2:40)."

When Peter urged his audience to rescue themselves from "this crooked generation" (Acts 2:40) his message extends to us who are living far beyond his time. The word "generation" carries the sense of "faithless brood," class, kind, or society. A leading German commentator translates as "this sort." "Generation" denotes a class of people bound in this case by a common evil disposition.

Jesus referred to the people of the present generation and age as "adulterous" and "sinful." Britain's leading professor of New Testament at Cambridge caught the sense of "generation" when he wrote: "It is best taken in the sense of 'age,' period of time, which is the primary meaning of Hebrew [equivalent word] dor. 'This generation' is contrasted by Jesus with the time 'when the Son of Man comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels' and is roughly equivalent to 'in this time' (Mark 10:30) which is contrasted with 'in the coming age.' The time meant by generation is ... The thought of men living in it and of their character is also present and prominent" (Moule in his commentary on the Greek text of Mark).

This meaning of genea is found equally in Proverbs 30:11: "There is a generation that curses their father and does not bless their mother." The sense, as other translations capture it, is "group of people," "kind." "A wicked generation judge themselves to be just." "There is a group which is pure in its own eyes." "There is a kind — how lofty are their eyes!" "There is a generation whose teeth are as swords" (30:12-14). Jesus used the same word in this sense in Luke 16:8: "The people of this age are more shrewd in dealing with the people of their own kind [= generation] than the people of light." "Their own kind" here translates the word "generation." This does not mean a group restricted to 40 or 70 years. It has to do with the character of people taken as a whole. Society is fundamentally flawed and evil until the return of Jesus. Then "the god of this age" (Satan, 2 Cor. 4:4) will be put out of office and a very different quality of life will characterize society.

It is possible to make Jesus contradict himself! We are very unwise if we imagine such a thing. If we understand him to have set a limit on the Second Coming of one period of 40 or 70 years, we make him contradict his later statement that he, the Son of God, did not know when he was coming back (Mark 13:32). This confession of ignorance of course alerts the reader to the fact that Jesus was not the omniscient God! God does not say "I do not know." But Jesus did. The tangled arguments of some to avoid this simple and obvious fact about the Son's ignorance are exhausting and confused.

But Jesus in Acts 1:7 expressly set no limit at all on the date of his future coming. It is not for us to know "the times and seasons" which God the Father has set within His own authority. That is crystal clear and means that Jesus had not earlier said, "I am coming back within 40 or 70 years."

It is much wiser to stay grounded in the actual words of Jesus, when he announced, in answer to the question about the Parousia and the end of the age (Matt. 24:3), "When you see the abomination of desolation standing in a holy place as prophesied earlier by Daniel..." Mark clarifies the same words by giving us "When you see the Abomination of Desolation standing where he ought not to." Mark's he defines the Abomination as a single person. This should put to rest speculations about series of religious leaders spanning centuries. Certainly there have been evil leaders, but the abomination of desolation is a single figure. Jesus will destroy an individual Man of Sin at his Parousia, not a series of figures spanning the centuries (2 Thess. 2:8).

It was John who wrote "You have heard that Antichrist is coming" (1 John 2:18). He went on to warn that there were already many antichrists on the scene. However he did not retract his own statement that "you have heard that Antichrist is coming." Mickelsen says wisely in his classic book on Bible Interpretation: "The interpreter must be careful not to distort the meaning of Scripture. Timothy was commanded to exercise great care in handing the authoritative message: 'Make every effort to present yourself approved [by test] to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed rightly handling the message of truth'...The passage urges a careful handling of the various elements of the message of truth as one puts them together and proclaims that message" (p. 4). "In 1 John 2:18 some might assume that 'many antichrists' implies there is to be no personal, individual Antichrist. But this was not John's thought. His readers had been taught that the antichrist is coming. This is what they heard. To show that this was no vague generality, John adds 'even now many antichrists have come.' He looks at the plurality of antichrists — those who deny that Jesus is the Messiah and therefore put themselves unequivocally against Christ — as proof of the eventual emergence of one supreme foe of Christ. The antichrist who was already present and who was the liar was in his day much like the later model except that the latter will have greater power and destructiveness. In attitude they share the same outlook and make the same response" (p. 373).
Indeed the pervasive lie is the one which denies the status and identity of
Jesus as the human Messiah.
On the rock understanding of Peter
that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God

(Matt. 16:16-18, not "God the Son"!), the Church was founded.

[1] New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 2, p. 54.

[2] Ibid, p. 38.


Taken from:
July, 2009 edition of Focus on the Kingdom magazine
Editor: Anthony Buzzard

www.focusonthekingdom.org

Slightly edited

The Parousia (Second Coming)

The Parousia (Second Coming)

The reason I think that the second coming of Jesus has not happened is that he is not here!

You can go to Jerusalem and look for him and you will not find him there, nor the throne of David on which he has never sat. The 12 Apostles are not there either, and yet Jesus promised them royal office when he returned (Matt. 19:28).

The internet is full of what is called "preterism." This word means "past-ism" and it assures Christians that the second coming of Jesus happened in AD 70 within 40 years of Jesus' time on earth. Preterism informs its adherents that the Messiah came back at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Here is my reason for thinking that this is an enormous falsehood: I understand the Kingdom of God, which Jesus made the center of the saving Gospel, to include the reestablishment of David's throne in Jerusalem. If that view of the Kingdom of God is wrong, vast amounts of Scripture would have to be dumped. Jesus promised his close followers that their reward for being Christians would be to sit on 12 thrones administering the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:28-30). Later, based on this information, the Apostles very reasonable inquired just before Jesus left them: "Has the time now come for you to restore the Kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). This would of course be the question. The arrival of Jesus would put an end to the trials, troubles and tragedies of our present experience. It would mean sound government on earth and the end of international strife.

Jesus had told them that "when the Son of Man comes in his glory...then he will sit on the throne of his glory" (Matt. 25:31). His coming will mean the restoration of the presently non-existent throne of David. The Apostles will bless the world on a grand scale as they assist Jesus in the huge task of reorganizing society under a sound government. If Jesus is to sit on his throne when he comes in glory, he is not now sitting on that throne. [1] Moreover since the Apostles are to rule in a restored Israel "when the Son of Man comes," that is, "in the regeneration, when the world is reborn," it follows that this event has not happened. Jesus cannot have come back. If he had, then the Apostles would be here on 12 thrones ruling and administering with Jesus.

If you believe that this is the state of affairs in our world today, you must not be watching the news! Where is the good evidence that Jesus is now on the throne of David in Jerusalem (where it has to be located as much as the throne of the queen of England is in London) and that the Apostles are ruling with him?

Traditional Christianity has not only abandoned Jesus' very Jewish view of God as a single Person, it has abandoned his [Jesus’] Gospel of the Kingdom, which promises that he and all the saints of all the ages will rule together on a renewed earth. Preterism tries to tell you that next week is really this week. It teaches that the coming of Jesus and thus his co-administrative activity with the saints began in AD 70. On this view, the visible second coming is a thing of the past. There never will be a restored Davidic throne.

John Calvin, one of history's most brutal exponents of Christianity as he misunderstood it, was naturally unhappy with the disciples' perceptive question about the Kingdom of God in Acts 1:6: "Is this the time when you are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?" With characteristic and inflexible dogmatism, he declared,
"There are more errors in that question than words."

Calvin, who was personally responsible for the judicial murder of fellow theologian Michael Servetus (because the latter supported Jesus' view of God in Mark 12:28-34), did not like the idea of a restored Kingdom involving Israel and the Apostles. He ruled it out by accusing the Apostles of blindness. But Jesus did not correct his own students as Calvin would have liked. Jesus had taught them about that restored Kingdom and their place in it.
He merely informed his followers that the time-frame of the coming of the Kingdom was not to be known. The Father kept that fact within His own authority. The Son, being a human being, did not know, despite his unique authority under God.

In Acts 1:5-7 the coming of the spirit in power to mark the Apostles as Jesus' accredited agents on earth, when he had ascended to heaven, was to be within a few days. But the coming of the Kingdom was to be at a time totally unknown. This simple fact needs to be emphasized: The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is not the coming of the Kingdom of God. The coming of the Kingdom of God is to be expected at the future second coming of Jesus: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, then he will sit on his throne of glory" (Matt. 25:31). The timing is quite clear as it is in masses of other passages of both Testaments, especially Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27. Jesus in Luke 19 gave the memorable parable of the departing and returning nobleman, to instruct us that the Kingdom of God will arrive only after the return of Jesus in glory to defeat his enemies:
"Bring them before me and slay them" (Luke 19:27).

The public in Jesus’ day knew that the Kingdom of God was destined to arrive in Jerusalem. They needed further light on the stages of God's plan and Jesus opened their minds to know that the Kingdom had to await his future return as the "nobleman," the Messiah.

The prophets of Israel announced the future day of the Lord in a way which attracted maximum attention. They said that the day of God's intervention was "near" and "coming very quickly." This is important background to the study of the New Testament view of the future. I want to quote some translations of Zephaniah 1:14 to make the point clear. I start with the LXX, the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, often used by the New Testament writers:

Zeph. 1:14: "Near is the great day of YAHWEH, near and very swiftly coming. Hark, the day of YAHWEH! Bitter, then, the warrior's cry."

"Near is the great day of YAHWEH, near and coming very quickly. Listen, the day of YAHWEH! In it the warrior cries out bitterly."

The reader is invited to ponder this prophecy with care and examine its context. What event does the prophet have in mind? Here are the obvious clues to the prophet's meaning: "Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of YAHWEH'S wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth'' (Zeph. 1:18).

"Therefore wait for Me," declares YAHWEH, "for the day when I rise up as a witness. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out on them My indignation, all My burning anger; for all the earth will be devoured by the fire of My zeal. For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of YAHWEH, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, My dispersed ones, will bring My offerings" (Zeph. 3:8-10).

The event in question affects the earth and it will result in a purifying of languages. There is no historical fulfillment of this prophecy. Yet the event is predicted as near and coming quickly. Zephaniah penned his words in the seventh century BC.

John, to whom the book of Revelation was given, announced the coming of Jesus with these urgent words: No less than four times in Revelation Jesus says "I am coming quickly."
John announced the events of his prophecy as "coming shortly and quickly" (1:1) "for the time is near" (1:3). The prophecies of John as we all know include the day of the Lord and the establishment of the Kingdom and the thousand-year reign initiated by the resurrection of dead saints. They include the binding of Satan, who is currently "deceiving the whole world" (12:9). Starting with the prophesied millennium, introduced by the resurrection of the faithful dead, Satan will be bound so that "he can no longer deceive the nations" (Rev. 20:2-3)

All this Jesus and John wrote is "near and coming quickly." That is exactly what Zephaniah had said about the Day of YAHWEH 650 years earlier and over 2500 years ago! He said that the Day of YAHWEH was near and coming quickly. And the Day of YAHWEH has not yet happened.

The data provided by the prophets and by Jesus and John have given the skeptics, as they think, an easy attack on the genuineness of the whole Christian faith. How could these so-called spokesmen for God, Jesus and the prophets, have been so wrong? How could they have spoken of the ultimate intervention of God as "near and coming quickly"?

From this so-called problem Christians have not been in general (there are notable exceptions) persuaded to give up belief in Christ and the Bible. They have pointed out that if  "coming quickly" always means that God must intervene within a chosen (by our reckoning) short span of time, then clearly the prophets were wrong. But Peter tackled the issue when he pointed out that God is able to reckon a thousand years as a day. In this way the urgency of our response to the Day of God's intervention is maintained. Any of us can die at any time, and the next second of our consciousness we face the Lord at his future coming. The Day of the Lord has never been more than about 90 years ahead of any of us living now.
Yet thousands of years of world history have elapsed since the prophets of Israel and finally Jesus spoke of the Day of the Lord as coming quickly.

We need to be very clear here that one cannot escape any perceived problem by saying that the Second Coming of Jesus is all over — past, fulfilled in AD 70. This would just cancel the Kingdom of God and the resurrection. Nor can any theory of cancellation be proposed, since there is no evidence for this in the prophets who prophesied the Day of the Lord. If God has changed His mind about the Second Coming or perhaps cancelled it altogether, He has certainly not told us this in the Bible. Jesus echoes the prophecies of Daniel specifically and adding further detail to them expounds them as certain to be fulfilled.

What then did Jesus announce? The answer is simple. He was asked about his "coming [Parousia] and the end of the age" (Matt 24:3). The end of the age he had already defined in Matthew 13:43 as the time of the harvest and the resurrection when the saints will "shine like the sun its strength in the Kingdom of their Father."

Jesus was quoting Daniel 12:3. Daniel's prophecies spoke also of the "time of the end" and the end in question was marked by the resurrection of the dead (Dan. 12:2). By speaking of the glory of the saints in their Father's Kingdom in connection with the harvest, Jesus obviously took Daniel as accurate and inspired.

There will be a resurrection of the dead and there will be glorified saints in the Kingdom which begins at the resurrection.

Back to Jesus' account of the future. "The end is not yet," he replies to the question about his "coming and the end of the age" (Matt. 24:3). And only a few verses later, "then the end will come." The end will come, Jesus said, when the Christian Gospel of the Kingdom will have been preached worldwide as a fair warning to the inhabitants of the earth, all nations (24:14). Following his statement about the end, he immediately gives more detail. With this end of the age in mind, he warns of the Abomination of Desolation standing where he [2] ought not to (Mark 13:14). It is at this point that some unfortunately indulge in a grasshopper method of reading simple words. They say that Jesus is no longer speaking of the end of the age, the only end available so far in the discourse, but that Jesus must have introduced without warning a completely different "end" in AD 70!

Language and communication fail when words are so treated. We are able to follow each other (most of the time!) when the ordinary rules of sense prevail. Jesus is answering a question about the end of the age and the Parousia, which he describes as a visible event "like lightning flashing from east to west."

This did not happen in AD 70. There was no "harvest" resurrection of the dead then, and Jesus did not come back. He did not sit on his throne in Jerusalem, and he is now not there. This means that he did not come back! He is still in heaven.

The Christian Gospel itself is destroyed if it is maintained that the coming and Kingdom of God happened in AD 70. The Gospel would be falsified, since no Kingdom came then and no Jesus returned. And no dead were raised. Since the inheritance of the Kingdom is the Christian hope, the Christian hope is reduced to nothing on the premise that Jesus has already come back!

The Olivet Discourse is based on the outline provided by Daniel. Scholars have shown how hugely indebted Jesus was to the book of Daniel. He saw there a prophecy of himself as Son of Man, destined to rule with the saints in the Kingdom to be established "under the whole heaven" (Dan. 7:27) and destined to crush with a single shattering blow all other nation-states.

Jesus took the prophecy of the resurrection of the dead as literal prophecy. Daniel spoke of the Great Tribulation as an event associated with the death of the final King of the North. The Great Tribulation (of which there can only be one, since it has no equal) is to occur, says Daniel, in close connection with the King of the North who is to come to his end in Israel.
"At that time" the dead will be raised. Jesus said exactly the same thing. He quotes the very words of Daniel about the righteous shining in the Kingdom at the time of the harvest (Matt. 13:41-43; Dan. 12:2-3). Jesus reads Daniel in the only way it can be read as prediction of the great events in God's plan.

Jesus' view of the future is not hard. The end will come when the Kingdom of God Gospel has been preached internationally. The end of the age will come when we see the Abomination of Desolation standing where he ought not to. The chronological sequence is precise: "When you see...then there will be a great tribulation such as has never happened and never will happen...Those days will be days of distress for pregnant women...Unless those days were shortened no flesh would remain alive...Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened...and they will see the Son of Man coming in power and glory, and he will gather his elect from the four corners of the world" (Matt. 24:15-30).

This account matches Daniel's exactly. The final events are closely linked and connected by precise and unambiguous time markers:
"and then...immediately after..."
Jesus will return immediately after the end of the Great Tribulation
— a post-tribulational coming!

[1] Note the deceptive mistranslation of Matt. 25:31 in the NIV which speaks of "heavenly" glory, trying to divert us from Jesus' presence on earth when he comes back. Note also the mischievous mis-rendering of Jesus' words in John 13:3, 16:28 and 20:17 which makes Jesus say what he did not say! Check the Greek and other translations.
[That is, the words in the Greek text of these verses, say nothing about Jesus returning or going back!]

[2] See some translations and good modern commentary for the masculine participle in the Greek here, estekota, indicating in this case a person, not a thing.


Taken from:
June, 2009 edition of Focus on the Kingdom magazine
Editor: Anthony Buzzard

www.focusonthekingdom.org

Slightly edited