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Featured Assorted Postmillennialism, articles, sermons.

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Iconoclast, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    We are not looking for your novel theories here.
    You are invited to read and interact to what is offered in the links, thank you in advance!


    LITERALISM AND POSTMILLENNIALISM

    Reader question:

    I have a question for you. I recently heard a postmill/amill debate. The amill gave a criticism against postmill that I am really stuck on. Maybe you can help.

    He said that postmills apply the restoration Psalms and prophecies like dispensationalists do, in a literalistic, types and shadows fashion. For example, regarding Psalm 2:8 the amill said that postmills apply the terms “nations” and “earth” in a way that Jesus and the apostles never intended (political entities, etc.). From his perspective, the NT teaches that for Christ to make the nations and earth His footstool refers to the salvation of the Gentiles from every tribe tongue and nation, not Christ’s influence on political structures, etc.

    I think this is a good argument and I am a bit stumped. Can you help me?


    J.B.

    My reply:

    Thanks for your question. I don’t see where the problem is in this critique of postmillennialism. I would note the following:

    1. We must be careful not to throw out all literalism just because dispensationalists wrongly use it. Clearly many prophecies are to be interpreted literally. Perhaps the virgin birth is the best example of a literal prophecy — in that it involves one of the fundamentals of the faith by impacting the pre-existence and deity of Christ.
    He Shall Have Dominion
    (paperback by Kenneth Gentry)

    A classic, thorough explanation and defense of postmillennialism (600+ pages). Complete with several chapters answering specific objections.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    The Scriptures are not one-dimensional. They employ a variety of communicative forms and cover a broad range of literary types. We must check each text according to its context and its intended meaning.




      • Of course, the particular matter you bring up, does involve a particular text and context. You specifically mention Psalm 2:8. So here we have a concrete example, which is much better than an abstract principle.
    I don’t see the problem with using Psa 2:8 as evidence for postmillennialism. That is, I don’t understand what the issue of “political entities”/ “political structures” has to do with the amill/postmill debate here. Even setting aside the idea that particular political entities are in view here, the fact remains that the Psalm declares that Christ will make “the nations” (whatever they are) and “the very ends of the earth” his possession. He is not speaking merely of converts selected out from the nations, but the nations and the very ends of the earth themselves. The psalm appears to be speaking of some sort of global dominance. And of course this is expected in postmillennialism.




      • In addition, I would note that David calls upon the kings and judges of the earth to do homage to the Son (Psa 2:10-12). It seems he goes to great lengths to speak of not only people in general (nations and ends of the earth) but even their political rulers and judges. This leads me to believe that he does have nations as such in view. We surely do not believe that God has no interest in political structures and kingdoms.Navigating the Book of Revelation: Special Studies on Important Issues is the first book produced from Dr. Gentry’s Revelation Commentary Project’s research. In it the student of Revelation will find fifteen special studies on key issues for working his way through John’s mysterious book. Some of the studies are technical studies; some are more general. All offer important insights into the preterist interpretation of Revelation.

        In this work you will see how John put on the mantle of the Old Testament prophet to confront Israel in her rebellion. You will understand his anger with Israel, paralleling John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel

        You will learn how he denounces Israel for her persecuting Christians and how he “excommunicates” the temple as an idol for Israel. You will learn much about Israel’s involvement with Rome against young Christianity. You will also find answers to perplexing questions, such as: “Why did John send such a Hebraic book to Asian Christians?”
    Navigating the Book of Revelation (by Ken Gentry)

    Technical studies on key issues in Revelation, including the seven-sealed scroll, the cast out temple, Jewish persecution of Christianity, the Babylonian Harlot, and more.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com




      • Besides all of this, reducing the significance of Psa 2 would not affect the broader argument for postmillennialism. Postmillennialism is not a “one text” eschatological system (as premillennialism tends to be with Rev 20). We have a great number of texts from Genesis through Revelation that promote an optimistic view of the unfolding of history.
    For instance, my book He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology presents, defends, and promotes postmillennialism. It is over 600 pages long and covers texts from both testaments. Indeed, it employs scores of biblical texts. It would be greatly reduced in size if it were only dealing with verses that speak of national entities.
     
    #1 Iconoclast, Nov 29, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
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  2. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    REVELATION AND LITERALISM (1)

    REVELATION AND LITERALISM (1)
    Interpretation, Revelation June 2, 2020 Comments: 8
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-043 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    By all accounts, Revelation is a difficult book. But naive Christians make it even more difficult than it needs be. A serious problem tripping up the modern would-be interpreter is the assumption of literalism when approaching Revelation. Too many contemporary prophecy students resist the symbolic approach to John’s glorious prophecy. “Literalism!” becomes the rally cry for those who believe Revelation lies in our approaching future.

    I would point out that despite the popular claim of literalism: no one takes Revelation literally. We take it as God’s truth, to be sure. And it certainly deals with factual historical events. But we cannot take it as God’s truth in literal form. Let us see how this is so.

    When interpreting any literary work, we should always listen carefully to the author himself. Especially if he provides information affecting the proper approach to interpreting his work. Certainly Revelation is considered the most difficult New Testament book to interpret. Given the widespread interest in Revelation, this exacerbates the difficulties in presenting John’s message in the modern context. Consequently, hermeneutic methodology becomes a paramount concern for the would-be interpreter. Interestingly, in his Gospel John shows the problem of literalism among Christ’s early hearers: by thinking literalistically they misconstrue Jesus’ teaching regarding the temple (John 2:19–22), being born again (3:3–10), drinking water (4:10–14), eating his flesh (6:51–56), being free (8:31–36), being blind (9:39–40), falling asleep (11:11–14), and his being king (18:33–37). This problem is exacerbated in Revelation with its rich imagery field.[​IMG]

    Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD by Ken Gentry)

    A biblical and historical argument for Nero being the beast of Revelation. Professionally recorded and edited with Question and Answers session.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    In the very first chapter of Revelation we find the first clues to John’s presentational method. He specifically informs his readers of the symbolic nature of his visions, and provides insights into how the reader should transpose his visions to understand his point.

    John’s Opening Announcement

    John wastes no time in alerting his readers to his symbolic approach. In the very opening sentence he declares:

    “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.” (Rev. 1:1)

    Here he informs us that Revelation is given “to show” (Gk.: deixai) the message being “signified” (Gk.: esemanen) by His angel (Rev. 1:1, NKJV). As Friedrich Düsterdieck notes: “The deixai occurs in the way peculiar to semainein, i.e., the indication of what is meant by significative figures.” In fact, forty-one times John says he “sees” these prophecies (e.g., Rev. 1:12, 20; 5:6; 9:1; 20:1).

    Premillennial commentator Robert Mounce observes in this regard: “The revelation is said to be signified to John. The Greek verb carries the idea of figurative representation. Strictly speaking it means to make known by some sort of sign (Hort, p. 6). Thus it is admirably suited to the symbolic character of the book. This should warn the reader not to expect a literal presentation of future history, but a symbolic portrayal of that which must yet come to pass.” John encourages his readers to expect figurative symbols rather than literal events.

    John’s Opening Vision

    In fact, John’s first vision sets the pattern for later symbolic interpretation by presenting a vision then interpreting its key elements in a non-literal way. In Revelation 1:12–20 he records a vision of Christ walking among lampstands. On the literalist assumption the vision should be teaching that the Lord walks among candles in heaven. However, John will not allow that.
    n verse 20 Jesus interprets the vision for us: “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20). So then, even though John himself actually saw seven stars and seven lampstands, the stars represent “the angels of the seven churches” and the lampstands represent “the seven churches.” This is what John himself teaches; we cannot dismiss this important clue to symbolic interpretation.

    John’s Continuing Practice

    What is more, John does not simply provide us one sample of his symbolic method. Several times in Revelation he stops to provide interpretive insights into the visions.

    In Revelation 5 John sees a lamb with seven eyes. Even the most naive literalist recognizes this Lamb represents Christ the Lord, for he is called (not literally!) “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5:5). After all, the angels of heaven sing his praise as the Redeemer of God’s people (5:9–10) and as glorious because of his work (5:12). In the next verse he is praised equally with God the Father (5:13). In Revelation 14 the Lamb’s name is associated with God’s name on the elect of God (14:1).

    John also provides interpretive directives on one of the more unusual features of the vision of the Lamb. He explains the “seven eyes”: “And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). The vision’s seven eyes do not mean that the Lamb literally has seven eyeballs in his head. John tells us so himself.

    Despite John’s speaking of “incense” in the angelic bowls in heaven, he re-directs our understanding. He clearly states that the incense which John actually saw really represented the “prayers of the saints”: “And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8).

    In Revelation 17:7, 9–10 the interpreting angel clears John’s confusion by noting that one image really represents two altogether different realities: “And the angel said to me, ‘Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. . . . Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while” (Rev. 17:9–10). So then, not only do the seven heads not portray seven literal heads on one actual beast, but they symbolize two other realities: seven mountains and seven kings.

    And what shall we say of the horns on the beast? They are not horns at all — even though certain mammals do actually possess horns made up of a bony core covered with a sheath of keratinous material. The interpreting angel interprets this for John and for us: “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev. 17:12).

    Even the water John sees should not be understood as referring to H2O. Rather, the angel explains: “And he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues’” (Rev. 17:15).

    As we can see, John provides us with enough explanatory samples for interpreting Revelation that we should be able categorically to declare that the book should not be interpreted according to the principles of literalism.
     
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  3. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    REVELATION AND LITERALISM? (2)

    REVELATION AND LITERALISM? (2)
    Interpretation, Revelation June 5, 2020 Comments: 4
    [​IMG]PMT 2016-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This is part two of a two-part study on the question of literalism in Revelation. Despite televangelists and rapture-predictors, Revelation is not to be interpreted literalistically. I examined three reasons why this is so in the previous article. I now would like to present one final argument against literalism:

    Even if we set aside John’s own opening announcement regarding the symbolic nature of his prophecy, and his explanation of his very first vision, and his interpretive practice elsewhere in Revelation, we should avoid literalism on the basis of common sense. Consider the following absurdities that would arise on the literalist approach.

    Revelation 4—7

    We should expect bizarre and rather grotesque angels in heaven: “Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back” (Rev. 4:6). And this is despite the fact that when men actually see angels on the earth, they can be confused with humans (e.g., Gen 19:1, 5; Dan 9:21).

    Though John actually sees a lamb in some of his visions, we know that he is not literally teaching us about the actions of a mammal of the genus Ovis in the family Bovidae. “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). I noted previously in this chapter that this “Lamb” is actually worshiped and praised as the Redeemer of God’s people.[​IMG]

    The Climax of the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)

    Six lectures on six DVDs that introduce Revelation as a whole, then focuses on its glorious conclusion. Provides an important, lengthy Introduction to Revelation also.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    Nor should we expect a time in the future wherein the world witnesses a global assault by four literal horsemen, each riding upon an Equus caballus:

    “I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword. When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’ When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth” (Rev. 6:1-8).

    Elsewhere in Revelation John speaks of men actually washing robes in blood in order to make them white: “And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:14).

    Revelation 9—16

    And what shall we say of the locusts he sees? “And the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men” (Rev. 9:7). Or of the horses and their riders? “And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone” (Rev. 9:17).[​IMG]

    Keys to the Book of Revelation
    (DVDs by Ken Gentry)

    Provides the necessary keys for opening Revelation to a deeper and clearer understanding.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    Do we really expect a literal multi-headed dragon to pull down one-third of the trillions of stars in the Universe, throwing them upon the earth? “Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born” (Rev. 12:3-4).

    On the literalist approach, who is the winged woman who stands on the moon? And the serpent that vomits out a river of water? “The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent” (Rev. 12:14-15).

    Will John’s dreaded beast literally look like a compound of three representatives of the mammalian order Carnivora? “The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion” (Rev. 13:2a).

    Is the second beast John sees literal? “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon” (Rev. 13:11). Is the angel of God actually going to reap the earth with a literal sickle? “Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe’” (Rev. 14:15). Do demon spirits literally appear in history in the form of frogs coming from the mouths of evil beings? “Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet” (Rev. 16:13).

    Revelation 17—21

    Is the Great Harlot really a vampire who drinks blood to the point of intoxication? “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 17:6). Will Jesus physically ride out of heaven and through the sky on horse, while clamping a sword in his teeth? “Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations” (Rev. 19:15a).

    Do we expect a literal city (complete with plumbing and electricity?) to descend to the earth from heaven? “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:10). And will it be so gigantic that it will extend from the earth’s surface upwards of 1500 miles, about 1200 miles higher than the Space Shuttle orbits? “And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal” (Rev. 21:16).

    Surely no one would interpret Revelation in this way. And as we have seen, Revelation confronts the literalist with one problem after another. To paraphrase Mark Twain, we might say of Revelation’s absurdities if taken literally: “Revelation is just one darned thing after another.”
     
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  4. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (1)

    DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (1)
    Dispensationalism, Interpretation May 12, 2020 Comments: 7
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-037 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    Dispensationalists pride themselves in being consistent literalists. Not only so, but they warn that taking a non-literal approach in Scripture involves one in “encroaching liberalism. For instance, Charles Ryrie writes:

    Although it could not be said that all amillennialists deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, yet, as it will be shown later, it seems to be the first step in that direction. The system of spiritualizing Scripture is a tacit denial of the doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. . . . Thus the allegorical method of amillennialism is a step toward modernism. [Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, 34, 35, 46.]

    Alleged literalism is probably one of the most important arguments for keeping dispensationalism alive and well on Planet Earth. It seems so obvious; it takes so little effort to understand. We need to lovingly confront our dispensational friends with a reality check. In this and the next article I will be focusing on dispensationalism’s literlism errors.

    The problem of naivete
    This argument is simply not at all persuasive and is embarrassingly naive. We must note that literalism does not necessarily protect orthodoxy. We may easily point out that many cults approach Scripture literalistically — and erroneously.

    [​IMG]

    Dispensational Distortions
    Three Lectures by Kenneth Gentry. Reformed introduction to classic dispensationalism, with analysis of leading flaws regarding the Church, kingdom, redemptive history, and Christ. Helpful for demonstrating errors to dispensationalists.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    Consider the premillennial cult of Mormonism. They teach that God has a literal, tangible body. After citing Genesis 1:26–27 regarding Adam’s creation “in the image and likeness of God,” LeGrand Richards, a former Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints, writes:

    “Attempts have been made to explain that this creation was only in the spiritual image and likeness of God. . . . Joseph Smith found that he was as literally in the image and likeness of God and Jesus Christ, as Seth was in the likeness and image of his father Adam.” [LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and Wonder, 16].

    This is blatantly false as well as enormously heretical. Yet it is the produce of an attempted literalism. Dispensationalist friends: Rather than being warmed and filled, you need to be warned and chill!

    The problem of consistency
    Besides being naive, the dispensational claim to “consistent literalism” is frustrating due to its inconsistent employment — despite contrary claims. For instance, some dispensationalists do not interpret certain Old Testament prophecies about David’s millennial reign literally. H. A. Ironside writes: “I do not understand this to mean that David himself should be raised and caused to dwell on the earth as king. . . . The implication is that He who was David’s Son, the Lord Christ Himself is to be the King.” [Harry A. Ironside, Expository Notes on Ezekiel the Prophet, 262. Cf. Ryrie, Basis of the Premillennial Faith, 88. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 60.] On what basis can a consistent literalist allow this view?

    Neither is it necessary that we understand literally Elijah’s coming which Malachi prophesies in Malachi 4:5–6: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.“ And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” Pentecost writes: “The prophecy is interpreted by the Lord as being fulfilled, not in literal Elijah, but in one who comes in Elijah’s spirit and power.” [Pentecost, Things to Come, 311–313]

    Walvoord recognizes the problem but hesitates: “It was clear that Elijah was a type of John and to some extent that John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s role. But, predictively, it is difficult to determine whether the future one will come in the spirit and power of Elijah or be Elijah himself.” [Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook, 339–40.]

    [​IMG]
    House Divided: The Break-up of Dispensational Theology
    By Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This book demonstrates that dispensational theology has been shattered by its own defenders. They are no longer willing to defend the original system, and their drastic modifications have left it a broken shell.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    On their “consistent” literal hermeneutic, why should this be difficult? Does not Walvoord himself open this very book with these words: “Unmistakably, the evidence is overwhelming that God means exactly what He says as prophecy after prophecy has already been literally fulfilled”? [ Walvoord, PKH, 7.] Thus, this leading, scholarly advocate of the literalistic approach to Scripture breaches his own declared principle of literalism — and in a book that opens with his expressly stated declaration that we must interpret Scripture literally.

    I hope you will join me again in my next installment. Dispensational literalism is a canard. And it needs to be exposed as such.

    OLIVET IN CONTEXT: A Commentary on Matthew 21–25[​IMG]
    I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.

    If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!



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  5. 1689Dave

    1689Dave Well-Known Member

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    Postmillennialism? Jesus asks if he shall find faith on earth when he returns.

    “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?Luke 18:8 (KJV 1900)
     
  6. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (2)

    DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (2)
    Uncategorized May 15, 2020 Comments: 6
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    In my last posting, I began a studying exposing the error of dispensationalism claimed literalism. Since this is such a big feature in the system and such a drawing card for it, it is important that Reformed Christians be able to refute it. I hope these two articles will be helpful to that end. The more recent form of dispensationalism, known as Progressive Dispensationalism, has largely recognized the problem and made important changes to the system. However, pew-sitting believers are still enamored with dispensationalism and its claim to literalism.

    So, let us continue exposing the error.

    Ezekiel and Literalism

    In The New Scofield Reference Bible at Ezekiel 43:19 we read: “The reference to sacrifices is not to be taken literally.” How can this be? Indeed, on the opposite side of the issue we should note the dispensationalist treatment of Isaiah 52:15, which reads: “So shall he sprinkle many nations.” The New Scofield Reference Bible comments: “Compare the literal fulfillment of this prediction in 1 Pet. 1:1–2, where people of many nations are described as having been sprinkled with the blood of Christ.” Is this literal? When was Jesus’ blood literally sprinkled on the nations? This sounds more like “spiritualizing” than “consistent literalism.”

    Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond[​IMG]
    (ed. by Darrell Bock)

    Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Ken Gentry provides the postmillennial contribution.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    But when it supports their eschatological system, dispensationalists vigorously argue for literalism. For instance, of Isaiah 9:7 the New Scofield Reference Bible explains: “‘The throne of David’ is an expression as definite, historically, as ‘the throne of the Caesars,’ and does not admit of spiritualizing.” [NSRB, 721] Yet dispensationalist Gordon H. Johnston writes: “God will fulfill His promises in the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:8–16) to establish the eternal Davidic dynasty over Israel through a single ideal Davidic King who will reign eternally (Ps. 89:20–37).” [Gordon H. Johnston, “Millennium: Old Testament Descriptions of,” in Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, 269.] But when we read this passage we discover it expressly mentions David himself, not a “Davidic King”: “I have found David My servant; / With My holy oil I have anointed him, / With whom My hand will be established; / My arm also will strengthen him” (Ps 89:20–21).

    Johnston continues: “The Davidic King will rule as the co-regent, Prince (Ezek. 34:24), under the divine kingship of YHWH (Ps. 72:19; Isa. 40:4–5).” [Johnston in DPT, 269] Pentecost states that “the promises in the Davidic covenant concerning the king, the throne, and the royal house are fulfilled by Messiah in the millennial age,” then lists Ezekiel 34:23–25 and Hosea 3:5 as evidence. [Pentecost, Things to Come, 476.] But Ezekiel actually states: “And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken” (Eze 34:24). Hosea’s reference reads: “Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king.”

    Yet again Johnston declares: “Judah and Israel will serve the Davidic King.” [ Johnston, DPT, 269.] But the verse actually states: “But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (Jer 30:9). Literally it seems that David himself should be resurrected to rule. How can references to “David” actually mean Christ — in a strictly literalistic system?

    Emmaus Disciples and Literalism

    The Emmaus disciples, holding to the then-prevailing, literalistic Jewish conceptions of the Messianic kingdom (Luke 24:21), need Christ to open the Scriptures to them to show them their error (Luke 24:25–27, 32, 45). Christ rejects the Jews’ literalistic political Messianism (Matt 23:37–38; Luke 19:41–42; 24:21–27; John 6:15; 18:36).

    The Jewish rejection of their Messiah is at least partially due to the problem that “the prevailing method of interpretation among the Jews at the time of Christ was certainly the literal method of interpretation.” [Pentecost] After all, when Christ confronts Nicodemus, he points to this very matter: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? . . . If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?’ “ (John 3:10, 12). Literalism plagued the Jews throughout Jesus’ ministry.

    The Apostle John and Literalism

    John’s Gospel presents almost a case study in the error of literalism.

    In John 2:19–21 Jesus is speaking of his body-temple being destroyed and rising again, but the Jews think he is talking about the literal “temple.”

    The Beast of Revelation[​IMG]
    by Ken Gentry

    A popularly written antidote to dispensational sensationalism and newspaper exegesis. Convincing biblical and historical evidence showing that the Beast was the Roman Emperor Nero Caesar, the first civil persecutor of the Church. The second half of the book shows Revelation’s date of writing, proving its composition as prior to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A thought-provoking treatment of a fascinating and confusing topic.

    For more study materials, go to: KennethGentry.com

    In John 3:5–7 Nicodemus thinks Jesus’ reference to being “born again” requires that a man literally re-enter his mother’s womb.

    In John 4:10–15 is speaking to the woman at the well about spiritual water, whereas the woman thinks he is referring to literal water.

    In John 4:31–38 Jesus says he has food to eat, which makes his disciples think he is referring to physical food, not spiritual sustenance.

    In John 6:31–35, 51–58 Jesus calls himself “bread” that men must eat and refers to drinking his blood, which his audience thinks are calls to cannibalism.

    In John 8:32–36 Jesus talks about being spiritually “free,” but his audience think he is speaking of breaking from physical slavery.

    In John 8:51–53 promises that those who keep his word will never die, which his hearers interpret to mean they will never physically die.

    In John 9:39–40 Jesus speaks of being “blind,” which makes the Pharisees think he is speaking about physical blindness. In John 11:11–14 Jesus states that Lazarus is “sleeping,” but “Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought He was speaking of literal sleep.”

    In John 13:33–37 Jesus informs his disciples that he will soon be leaving (by which he means “dying”), but Peter thinks he is physically traveling somewhere else.

    Literalism is literally a fraud. It has no form nor comeliness that we should desire it. To say the least.
     
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  7. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    I AM NOT A PRETERIST (REVISITED)!

    I AM NOT A PRETERIST (REVISITED)!
    Interpretation, Preterism, Theology November 6, 2020 Comments: 22
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-097 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    Much of this article repeats an earlier article which I think might be helpful once again. I am bringing it up-to-date due to some recent observations I have gathered in the eschatological debate.

    As previously noted, I often have people ask me if I am a “preterist.” This is generally asked by someone who does not know what “preterism” means. They are usually fearful of the term because they do not understand what all is involved in the preterist idea. In fact, at a theological exam when entering a new presbytery, I was challenged as being an agent of the Hyper-preterist movement because of my orthodox preterist views. Fortunately, I was able to demonstrate that I am fully orthodox. But this experience showed me the danger of accidental false associations.

    This will surprise some of my readers, but I would like to state categorically and unequivocally: I am NOT a preterist. To believe that I am a preterist is quite mistaken.

    But: have I changed my understanding of biblical eschatology? The answer to this question is a resolute “Yes” and “No!” How can this be? What is going on here? Am I running for political office (though the official election date just passed)? Perhaps I am looking forward to receiving a lot of mail-in votes to be counted over the next few years! I admit I was tempted to run for office so that I could make myself fabulously wealthy on funds taken from the hard work of others. But, no, that is not the answer. Or am I striving to be Dr. Sic et Non? Let me explain.

    Until the recent arising of the aberrant theology that calls itself “Full Preterism” or “Covenant Eschatology,” it was fine for someone like me to call himself “a preterist.” In fact, I have done that quite often myself. And probably will still do so — due to long-standing, historical use of this word. But in a technical sense, such a descriptive label for someone like me is mistaken . . . in our current theological context. This is due to the arising of unorthodox preterism, which is causing some believers to be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

    Have We Missed the Second Coming:[​IMG]
    A Critique of the Hyper-preterist Error
    by Ken Gentry

    This book offers a brief introduction, summary, and critique of Hyper-preterism. Don’t let your church and Christian friends be blindfolded to this new error. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

    For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com

    So what do I mean?

    As is often the case in the history of theology, words take on fresh connotations and even alatogether new meanings. And if we are not careful, we might use a familiar, long-held word to describe an issue, but which is no longer accurate . . . in our current setting.

    For instance, until the creation of the word “amillennial” in the early 20th Century, non-premillennial theologians who held to a pessimistic view of history called themselves “postmillennial.” They did this to set themselves over against those who were “premillennial.” They held that Christ would not return in his Second Advent until the “millennium” was completed. Hence they were “post-millennial.” But there were two categories of “postmillennials.” Many were optimistic regarding the flow of history, while many others were historically pessimistic. Today we distinguish the two by the terms “postmillennial” (an optimistic eschatology regarding the outworking of history) and “amillennial” (a pessimistic eschatology regarding the outworking of history). See my article: “Amillennial Pessimism” for further discussion of this matter.

    Similarly, it may be that one day the word “preterist” will be so widely used in a way much different from its historical meaning that it will suffer from what scholars call “semantic obsolescence.” That is, “preterist” may in the wider discussion come to mean something other than it did in earlier times. It may no longer function properly within the living, semantic range of the word in that day. This would be like the KJV word “prevent” in 1 Thess. 4:15. There the seventeenth-century word “prevent” meant “to vent beforehand,” i.e., “to precede.” But it later came to mean “to prohibit, preclude.” Those are radically different concepts.

    This could well be the case with the word “preterist.” Historically, the word “preterist” was used (and is still used) by those who understand certain New Testament prophetic passages as having already been fulfilled. This understanding sets them over against other Christians who believe that those passages remain to be fulfilled in our future ( “futurism” is the virtual opposite of “preterism”). Two key passages that are greatly impacted by the preterist approach are: the Olivet Discourse and the whole Book of Revelation. (However, these are not the only passages impacted by the debate.)

    Today, however, we must distinguish the enormous differences existing among “preterist” interpreters. The preterism to which I hold is a hermeneutic tool, which is useful for better understanding part of one locus of systematic theology, i.e., eschatology. The preterism promoted by some unorthodox Christians (they call their view “full preterism”) is not simply a hermeneutic tool helpful for fleshing out biblical eschatology, but a wholesale, new, free-standing theology.

    Orthodox Christians call “full preterism” by the term “Hyper-preterism.” This is much like the situation with “hyper-Calvinism.” Calvinism is a theological system emphasizing the sovereignty of God. But hyper-Calvinism goes beyond Calvinism, hence it is hyper. Hyper-Calvinists believe that we do not need to evangelize or to send out missionaries, because God will sovereignly convert sinners. In fact, they even hold that it is not the obligation of sinners to trust in Christ in order to be saved — because God effects their salvation wholly apart from anything they do.

    Similarly, “hyper-preterism” goes beyond historic “preterism,” in that it adds to preterism. That is, Hyper-preterism declares the historic, corporate, public, universal, systematic Christian faith held over the many centuries of Christianity’s existence to be mistaken. It does so by declaring that the future bodily Second Coming of Christ, the future physical resurrection of all men, the future Final Judgment of all men, and the conclusion of history that gives rise to the consummate order have already occurred (in AD 70). As Hyper-preterist Don Preston summarily states it in one of his books: “Preterism is the view that all prophecy of the end times, the Judgment, Second Coming, and Resurrection were fulfilled in the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.” They therefore go beyond orthodox Christian doctrine.
     
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  8. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & ZECHARIAH 14 (1)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & ZECHARIAH 14 (1)
    Dispensationalism, Objections May 7, 2021 1 Comment
    [​IMG]PMW 2021-037 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    In Zechariah’s great prophecy we read one verse that is used by dispensational literalists to overthrow the prophet’s postmillennial hope. That verse reads:

    “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.” (Zech 14:14)

    ZECHARIAH ESCHATOLOGICAL DEBATE

    Zechariah has been called “the most messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological of all the writings of the Old Testament” (ISBE1, 4:3136.) And surely it is. But Zechariah is greatly misunderstood in dispensationalism. Dispensationalists hold that Zechariah 14 undermines non-dispensational views such as postmillennialism. I will summarize the view from Dallas Seminary’s Bible Knowledge Commentary and then give a brief postmillennial interpretation of the passage.

    That dispensationalists believe this prophecy undermines postmillennialism is evident in the following comment:

    Zechariah 14 progresses from the initial plundering of Jerusalem near the end of the future Tribulation, through the catastrophic judgment on the Gentile armies at Messiah’s Second Advent and the establishment of His millennial reign, to a description of the worship in Jerusalem during the Millennium. The fact that these events have not yet occurred points to a premillennial return of Christ, that is, His return before the Millennium.”

    THE DISPENSATIONAL VIEW

    Dispensationalists apply verse 1 to a great tribulation still in our future, which introduces the earthly millennial reign of Christ and comprises “the day of the Lord.” They see this verse as portraying the “military intervention of the Messiah,” with verse 4 detailing its accomplishment as the Lord descends upon the Mount of Olives (BKC 1:1570). Then he will establish his political kingdom over the earth, accompanied by “changes in illumination, climate, and topography which God will bring on Jerusalem, Palestine, and no doubt the whole earth during the Millennium” (1:1570). All of this arises from a literalistic reading of verses 6–11.

    Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond[​IMG]
    (ed. by Darrell Bock)

    Presents three views on the millennium: progressive dispensationalist, amillennialist, and reconstructionist postmillennialist viewpoints. Includes separate responses to each view. Ken Gentry provides the postmillennial contribution.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    Zechariah 14:12–15 supposedly is a “parenthetical flashback” describing “the second phase of the invasion of Jerusalem by the confederated Gentile armies.” After this, “the survivors from all the nations will worship annually in Jerusalem. ‘The survivors’ are not the Jewish remnant. . . [but are those] from nonmilitary personnel of those nations whose armies were destroyed by Messiah” (BKC 1:1570, 1571).

    Verses 16–17 speak of “a newly instituted worldwide religious order embracing both Jews and Gentiles” that will be established and “will center in Jerusalem and will incorporate some features identical with or similar to certain aspects of Old Testament worship.” Thus, “worshiping annually in Jerusalem will be necessary for the people to enjoy the fertility of crops” (BKC 1:1570, 1571).

    This entire dispensational scheme is wholly out of accord with the flow of redemptive history, so much so that it has been called an “evangelical heresy” by Meredith G. Kline. Indeed, “A. A. Hodge, B. B. Warfield, and J. G Machen . . . were outspoken opponents of dispensationalism, which they considered close to heresy.” Non-premillennial evangelicals vigorously denounce this interpretation. As redemptive history progresses to “the last days” (Isa 2:2–4; 1Co 10:11; Heb 9:26), which Christ institutes in the first century as the “fullness of time” (Mk 1:14–15; Gal 4:4; Heb 1:1–2), the entire temple order and sacrificial system is forever done away with (Mt 24:1–34; Heb 8:13; Rev 11). Accompanying the physical temple’s removal, divine worship is forever de-centralized and universalized (Jn 4:21–23; Mt 28:18–20). In addition, God merges the redeemed of all nations into one kingdom without ethnic distinction (Ro 11:13–24; Eph 2:12–21; Gal 6:12–16; Rev 7:9–10). This very much contradicts dispensationalism’s reversing the divine economy back to an old covenant-like order, complete with the elevating of the Jewish race over all peoples

    Four Views on the Book of Revelation[​IMG]
    (ed. by Marvin Pate)

    Helpful presentation of four approaches to Revelation. Ken Gentry writes the chapter on the preterist approach to Revelation, which provides a 50 page survey of Revelation .

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    Of course, a major problem with the dispensational viewpoint here in Zechariah 14 is it’s a priori interpretive literalism. The postmillennialist would interpret the passage in a much different light. The whole passage — as often with prophecy — is a mingling of literal and figurative prophetic allusions, as we shall see. In my next posting.
     
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  9. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    ZECHARIAH 14 IN POSTMILLENNIALISM (2)

    ZECHARIAH 14 IN POSTMILLENNIALISM (2)
    Dispensationalism, Objections, Old Testament May 11, 2021 Comments: 4
    [​IMG]PMW 2021-038 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    In my last article I began a two-part study on Zechariah 14. Having presented the dispensational view, I will now present a postmillennial interpretation of this famous passage.

    The Siege of Jerusalem

    The siege of Jerusalem described in Zechariah 14:1–2 points to the AD 70 judgment upon Jerusalem. J. Dwight Pentecost admits that the disciples who hear the Olivet Discourse would naturally apply Zechariah 14 to that event. But then, he says, such requires the confusing of God’s program for the church with that for Israel. So, he and other dispen-sationalists interpret the passage literalistically, with all the topographical and redemptive historical absurdities this creates. As they do this they totally omit any reference to the destruction of the very city and temple being rebuilt in Zechariah’s day. Yet this literal temple (the second temple) is destroyed in AD 70, as all agree.

    Zechariah 14:1–2 pictures the Roman imperial forces joining the various client kings who engage the Jewish War AD 67–70. This war is conducted by an empire of “nations” (v 2), consisting not only of the Romans but the lands of Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, and others. Client kings, such as Antiochus, Agrippa, Sohemus, Malchus, and Alexander, provide auxiliary forces for Rome during the Jewish War (J.W. 2:18:9; 3:4:2; 5:1:6). The consequences are disastrous: much of Israel’s population is either killed or led captive. D. A. Carson observes that never was “so high a percentage of a great city so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the Fall of Jerusalem.” Yet the Lord defends those who are truly his people, insuring their escape from the besieged city (vv 3–4).

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    The Lord will fight for his true people “as when he fought in the day of battle” (v 4). The Lord’s feet standing on the Mount of Olives and his fighting for his people need be no more literal than other references regarding the Lord’s fighting for Israel in the Old Testament. The language is similar to that in Joshua 10:14, 42 and 23:3, where the Lord “fought for Israel.” In Joshua these references indicate his providential favor in Israel’s victory and deliverance, not his corporeal presence. Prophecy often mentions God’s feet when his and Israel’s enemies are thwarted and are given success against all odds (Ps 18:9; Isa 60:13; Nah 1:3; Hab 3:5).

    The Cleaving of Olivet

    The cleaving of the Mount of Olives under him employs the common imagery of God’s conquering and restraining power in Old Testament prophecy. In Micah 1:3–4 we read that “the LORD is coming out of His place; He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.” Even dispensationalists admit this speaks of the Old Testament subjugation of Israel under heathen nations for her sin. Mentioning the direction of the cleft “indicates the direction of their flight,” i.e., the Christians who flee Jerusalem when God judges it. They ultimately flee to all points of the compass, taking the gospel with them (cf. vv 8–9).

    In the latter part of verse 5 the coming judgment upon Jerusalem, which disperses the Christians over the Roman Empire, is ultimately God’s coming in angelic judgment (“holy ones” are angels). Jerusalem’s destruction by Rome is providential destruction by “his armies” (Mt 22:7). It leads to darkness and woe upon Israel (Zec 14:6–7; cf. Ac 2:20, 22; Mt 24:29). Yet, as Jerusalem collapses and Christianity separates from her Jewish constraints, the waters of life begin flowing out into all the world (v 8; cp. Mt 24:14; Ac 1:8; 9:15). The Lord’s kingdom overflows Israel’s limited borders so that the he becomes the King of all the earth (v 9; Mt 28:18–19; Eph 1:20–21).

    The subsequent topographical and liturgical references figuratively portray the ethical and spiritual changes that occur under Christ’s spir-itual administration as his worship spreads through the earth (vv 10ff). Even Jerusalem and the Jews shall be nourished by the waters of life eventually (vv 10–11; cf. Eze 47:1ff; Jn 7:38–39). The enemies of God’s people will either be vanquished (vv 12–13, 14), converted (vv 16, 20–21), or reduced to insignificance (vv 14, 17–19).[​IMG]

    Getting the Message
    (by Daniel Doriani)
    Presents solid principles and clear examples of biblical interpretation.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned, not as a literal reinstitution of the Old Testament feast, but as the ultimate hope pre-figured in that feast: the time of the full evangelical harvest (cf. Jn 4:35–38). Those who do not convert will be reduced to servile labors, lacking the blessing of God (vv 17–19).

    Overall, however, the kingdom of God (represented here by a reju-venated Jerusalem, cp. Gal 4:25–26; Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2) will be spread throughout the earth. All areas of life will be consecrated to the Lord: even the horses’ bells will contain the inscription written on the High Priest’s miter (vv 20–21).
     
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  10. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    BABYLON IS JERUSALEM (Part 1)

    BABYLON IS JERUSALEM (Part 1)
    Israel, Revelation January 29, 2014 Comments: 9
    [​IMG]PMT 2014-013 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    In Revelation John uses Babylon as a metaphor of Jerusalem. Before I can demonstrate this, I must rehearse two important interpretive keys to the Book of Revelation:

    (1) Revelation is dealing with events “which must soon take place” (Rev 1:1; cp. 1:3; 22:6, 10). It is not prophesying events thousands of years distant from John’s original audience.

    (2) John is reflecting on Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and has his stated theme the judgment of Israel in AD 70. Note that the only two verses in the Bible that merge Dan 7:13 and Zech 12:10 are Matt 24:30 and Rev 1:7. In Matt 24:30 Jesus is clearly dealing with the destruction of the temple (Matt 24:2, 16) in the first century (Matt 24:34). John’s theme in Rev 1:7 states that Jesus is coming in a cloud-judgment against those who crucified him (in the NT the Jews are blamed for Christ’s crucifixion (Matt 26:59, 66; 27:1; Mark 14:64; Luke 23:22–23; 24:20; Acts 2:22–23, 36; 3:13–15a; 4:10; 5:28, 30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27–29; 1 Thess 2:14–15). As a consequence, all the tribes of “the Land” (the Greek ge is usually translated “earth,” but can and should be translated “Land,” i.e., the Promised Land).

    Before Jerusalem Fell (by Ken Gentry)
    My doctoral dissertation defending a pre-AD 70 date for Revelation’s writing
    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    In Revelation 17:3–6 John views a horrifying sight. Seated upon the dreadful beast is the sinful Harlot:

    “He carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.”

    Since she sits on the seven-headed beast, some believe she represents the city of Rome.

    This is because she is resting on Rome’s seven hills and is called “Babylon,” which often applies to Rome in antiquity. But since the beast itself represents Rome, it seems redundant to have the woman representing the same. Also, the name “Babylon” does not historically belong either to Rome or Jerusalem, and thus cannot prove that the city is Rome. I am convinced beyond any doubt that this harlot is first-century Jerusalem. The evidence for so identifying Jerusalem is based on the following considerations.

    First, Revelation 14:8 calls Babylon “the great city.” But in the first mention of “the great city” in Revelation 11:8, this indisputably refers to Jerusalem, “where also our Lord was crucified” (cf. Lk 9:31; 13:33–34; 18:31; 24:18–20). Her greatness especially highlights her covenantal status in the Old Testament (Jer 22:8; Lam 1:1).

    But even pagan writers speak highly of Jerusalem as a significant contemporary city. Tacitus calls it “a famous city.” Pliny the Elder comments that it is “by far the most famous city of the ancient Orient.” Appian, a Roman lawyer and writer (ca. AD 160) called it “the great city Jerusalem” (Tacitus, Histories 5:2; Fragments of the Histories 1; Pliny, Natural History 5:14:70; Appian, The Syrian Wars 50). The Sibylline Oracles, Josephus, and the Talmud concur in calling Jerusalem “a great city” (Sibylline Oracles 5:150–154, 408–413; Josephus, J.W. 7:1:1; 7:8:7. For Talmudic references, see: Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, 82). Thus, the first interpretive clue to Babylon’s identity points to Jerusalem.

    Second, the harlot is filled with the blood of the saints (Rev 16:6; 17:6; 18:21, 24). Of course, with the outbreak of Nero’s persecution, which commences just prior to John’s writing Revelation, Rome is stained with the saints’ blood. But Rome has only recently entered the persecuting ranks of God’s enemies.

    Throughout Acts Jerusalem is appears as the persecutor and Rome as the protector of Christianity (Acts 4:3; 5:18–33; 6:12; 7:54–60; 8:1ff; 9:1–4, 13, 23; 11:19; 12:1–3; 13:45–50; 14:2–5, 19; 16:23; 17:5–13; 18:12; 20:3, 19; 21:11, 27; 22:30; 23:12, 20, 27, 30; 24:5–9; 25:2–15; 25:24; 26:21. See also: 2 Co 11:24; 2Th 2:14–15; Heb 10:32–34).

    Interestingly, in the Olivet Discourse context Jesus reproaches Jerusalem: “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. . . . Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Mt 23:34–35, 37).

    efore his stoning Stephen rebukes Jerusalem: “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who showed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Ac 7:51–52).

    Paul warns of Jewish persecution: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (1Th 2:14–16).

    Third, the harlot’s dress reflects the Jewish priestly colors of scarlet, purple, and gold (cp. Rev 17:4–5 with Ex 25:2, 4; 26:1, 31, 36; 27:16; 28:1–2, 5–12, 15, 17–23, 33). In fact, she even has a blasphemous tiara on her forehead, which reads: “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” (Rev 17:5). This negatively portrays the holy tiara that the Jewish high priest wore, which declares “Holy to the Lord” (Ex 28:36–38). Still further, the harlot has a gold cup in her hand, reflecting the high priest on the Day of Atonement, according to the Jewish Talmud.[1]

    Fourth, Rome cannot commit adultery against God, for she had never been God’s wife. But Jerusalem was God’s wife (Isa 1:21; 57:8; Jer 2:2, 20; 3:1–20; 4:30; 11:15; 13:27; Eze 16; Hos 2:5; 3:3; 4:15), and Scripture often charges her with committing adultery against him (Isa 1:21; 57:8; Jer 2:2, 20; 3:1–20; 4:30; 11:15; 13:27; Eze 16; Hos 2:5; 3:3; 4:15). The harlot imagery better suits an adulterous wife, such as Jerusalem.

    I will conclude this study in my next blog article.

    Footnote

    1. Golden vessels are common on the Day of Atonement. The fire-pan for scooping cinders was gold (Yoma 4:4). “The High Priest always sanctified his hands and his feet from a golden jug” (Yoma 4:5).
     
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  11. Iconoclast

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    BABYLON IS JERUSALEM (Part 2)

    BABYLON IS JERUSALEM (Part 2)
    Israel, Revelation January 31, 2014 Comments: 12
    PMT 2014-014 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    [​IMG]In my last blog article I began a brief argument for John’s Babylon being a metaphor for first-century Jerusalem. In this study I will bring the argument to a conclusion. Though I welcome questions!

    John clearly engages in a literary contrast between the harlot and the chaste bride, suggesting that he is counterposing the Jerusalem below with the Jerusalem above (Rev 21:2; cf. Gal 4:24ff.; Heb 12:18ff.). In Revelation 17:2–5 and Revelation 21:1ff the contrast is remarkable and detailed. We must remember that Revelation specifically designates the bride as the “New Jerusalem” from heaven. We see at least five contrasts:

    (1) Notice how John is introduced to the harlot: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters’ ” (Rev 17:1). This is identical to the way he sees the bride: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife’ ” (Rev 21:9).

    Navigating the Book of Revelation (by Ken Gentry)
    Technical studies on key issues in Revelation, including the seven-sealed scroll, the cast out temple, Jewish persecution of Christianity, the Babylonian Harlot, and more.
    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    (2) The two women have a contrasting character: “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Rev 17:1). “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev 21:9).

    (3) The two women appear in contrasting environments: “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast” (Rev 17:3). “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Rev 21:10).

    (4) John focuses on the contrasting dress of each woman: “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication” (Rev 17:4). “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints . . . having the glory of God. And her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Rev 19:8; 21:11).

    (5) John contrasts their names. Earlier in Revelation Johns calls earthly Jerusalem by pagan names quite compatible with the designation “Babylon.” In Revelation 11:8 he describes here as “spiritually Sodom and Egypt.” In an earlier day Isaiah identifies Jerusalem as Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa 1). The idea is that rather than conducting herself as the wife of God, she has become one of God’s enemies, like Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon.

    The fact that the harlot sits on the seven-headed beast (which represents Rome) indicates not her identity with Rome, but her alliance with Rome against Christianity. The Jews demand Christ’s crucifixion (Mt 27:24–25; Jn 19:12–15; Ac 2:23) and constantly either directly persecute Christians (Mt 23:37ff; Ac 8:1; 1Th 2:14–17) or stir up the Romans to do so (Ac 12:1–3; 17:5–7).

    The evidence proves that the harlot is Jerusalem (for more detailed discussion see my book The Book of Revelation Made Easy). John’s Revelation contrasts the Jerusalem below with the Jerusalem above, as in Hebrews 12:22 and Galatians 4:25–26. The Jerusalem below has forsaken her husband in denying the Messiah.

    I believe it to be supremely clear that John is dealing with Jerusalem under the image of Babylon. She is the new enemy of God, even being called “a synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9) and “Egypt” (Rev 11:8). This is much like Isaiah calling Israel Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa 1:10) and Ezekiel calling her the sister of Sodom (Eze 16:49).
     
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  12. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (7)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (7)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 July 7, 2020 Comments: 5
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-053 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This is my final installment in this series on the great tribulation as understood within postmillennialism. We come now to a few more difficult texts.

    Christ’s coming

    In Matthew 24:27 Jesus states: “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” This is the sort of language we expect regarding the second coming of Christ, when he comes publicly and gloriously to conclude world history. Did Christ come like lightning in AD 70: How can this sort of language apply to AD 70?

    We must understand this declaration in terms of the context. The Lord had just cautioned his disciples: “If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them” (Matt 24:26). We must recall Josephus’ report in Jewish Wars 2:13:5 [261–62] cited above that records an episode in which an Egyptian false prophet arose in the wilderness claiming a great deliverance.

    Jesus dismisses such by stating that when he physically comes again to the earth, it will be an unmistakable event: “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt 24:27). The “for” (gar) here shows that he is giving the reason why his disciples should not think he is off in some wilderness or in an inner room somewhere. When he does return in his second coming, it will be as visible and dramatic as a lightning flashing.

    So again, we see how the prophecies of Matthew 24 find fulfillment in the first century. In that these prophecies are for that era (Matt 24:34), why should we opt for a futurist approach to the matter?

    The stars will fall

    As the Lord continues in detailing the dramatic events, he states in Matthew 24:29: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” This sounds like the universe is collapsing. Did such literally occur in AD 70?

    Once again we are facing apocalyptic, hyperbolic language. Consider Isaiah 13:10–13 which as instructive for this point:

    “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the Lord of hosts in the day of His burning anger.”

    Despite the initial appearance, Isaiah is not referring to the end of history. In the context he clearly identifies historical, Old Testament Babylon as the object of this judgment: “The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw” (Isa 13:1). In verse 17 he also mentions the Medes as an element of God’s judgment against them: “Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them.” Not only are the Medes an Old Testament era people who no longer exist, but they would be meaningless if the preceding language speaks of some sort of cosmic catastrophe. Indeed, they themselves would fall under such catastrophic events.

    This prophecy refers to Old Testament Babylon’s overthrow, with the Median invasion securing that overthrow. The God of the universe is acting by his providential superintendence; metaphorically he is darkening the light of heaven on this might nation. The same imagery applies to the collapse of Jerusalem in AD 70 — which will occur “in this generation” (Matt 24:34) as the temple is destroyed (Matt 24:2).

    Coming on the clouds

    In Matthew 24:30 the Lord makes a remarkable statement. Unfortunately, the NASB, which I have been using throughout this series, is poorly translated here. So we will cite both the King James Version and the English Standard Version to better capture the meaning of the text.

    In this verse we read a statement that sounds very much like the second coming of Christ. The KJV reads: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The ESV reads: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Did Christ come on the clouds in AD 70?



    This language certainly could be used of the second advent. But once again, just three verses later Jesus states very clearly and forcefully: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34). Thus, we must recognize this as referring to the AD 70 event. A similarity of language between AD 70 and the second advent should not surprise us. After all, AD 70 is a distant reflection of that future, literal coming. Therefore the same dramatic language can apply to it, as well.

    According to Jesus’ prophecy there will be a “sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” He is speaking of some sort of sign that he is at the right hand of God rather than in the cold hard ground. They will learn by some judgment sign that he is high and exalted, the one causing their judgment and anguish. This sign is (apparently) the smoke of the temple being destroyed. This will be the sign to the Jews that the Son of Man is no longer dead but in heaven at God’s throne, where he will moves against them in judgment. He warned the Jews that this would happen (Matt 26:64). After all, he promised his disciples: “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1).

    Gathering the elect

    Another confusing feature of Christ’s prophecy is found in Matthew 24:31: “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Is this speaking of the rapture? Did it occur in AD 70? Whatever this verse means, we must recall once again that Jesus affirms only three verses later that “all these things” will take place in “this generation” (Matt 24:34).

    Actually it is important to understand that the word “angel” (Gk.: aggelos) can be (and often is) translated: “messenger.” In Scripture it frequently refers to human messengers. We find this usage in Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:10; Luke 7:24 and 27. For instance, Jesus cites Malachi 3:1 as referring to John the Baptist: “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger [aggelos] ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you’” (Matt 11:10).

    Here Jesus is speaking of sending forth his messengers to trumpet the gospel of salvation. The collapse of the old covenant economy in the destruction of the temple is the sign that the gospel of God’s saving grace is spreading to all the world. The messengers are overflowing the boundaries of Old Testament Israel (cp. Psa 147:19–20; Amos 3:2; Eph 2:11–12). God is finished with sacrifices and human priests (Heb 8:13); he will no longer confine his grace to a single nation (John 4:20–24). Now the gospel will go to all nations (Matt 28:18–20).

    When the messengers go forth and declare the gospel, they go “from one end of the sky to the other,” which means from one horizon (where the sky “touches” the ground) to the other, that is, in all directions (cp. Deut 4:32). They call people and gather them into a new body, the new covenant church of Christ. In fact, this “gathering” language appears in a very significant passage in Hebrews 10:25, where the Jews are commanded to “gather together” as Christians, and not to fall back into Judaism: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

    Conclusion

    As we have seen in this analysis of Jesus’ teaching on the great tribulation, a strong case can be made that the tribulation is already past in that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 is that great tribulation. The great tribulation ends the old covenant economy and establishes the new covenant order. As the writer of Hebrews expresses it: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear” (Heb 8:13).

    Therefore, the great tribulation lies in our past, not in our future. Postmillennialism does have a place for the great tribulation — at the beginning of Christian history, not at the end. The postmillennial outlook is not undermined by Christ’s teaching on this time of terrible judgment.
     
  13. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (1)
    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (1)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 June 16, 2020 Comments: 6
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-047 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    With this article, I am beginning a series on how contemporary postmillennialism deals with the great tribulation. This will basically be a survey of much of Matthew 24. This series ought to provide the interested reader with a basic understanding of how postmillennialism answers the complaint that Jesus’ prophecy of “the great tribulation” undermines our historical hope. As such, I am hoping postmillennial readers might share these studies with their non-postmillennial friends — especially if they really don’t need friends anymore.

    This series is significant in that American evangelical Christians are intensely interested in what the New Testament calls “the great tribulation.” Many enormously popular, best-selling books have been written on this phenomenon, including The Late Great Planet Earth (30 million copies sold) and the Left Behind series (65 million copies).

    The great tribulation is significant and merits careful consideration. This is not only because of its influence on contemporary evangelical thought, but (more importantly) because of its large presence in Scripture. The Bible touches on this theme in many contexts in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, it seems to contradict postmillennialism’s historical optimism. Consequently, it will be crucial for us to study it in light of our presentation of the postmillennial hope.

    The two most significant portions of Scripture treating the great tribulation are found in Jesus’ teaching and John’s Revelation. It appears prominently in one of Christ’s major recorded discourses: the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24–25 (cp. Mark 13; Luke 21:5–36). The first thirty-four verses of Matthew 24 focus on the great tribulation, even employing the phrase in verse 21.

    [​IMG]

    Olivet Discourse Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)

    Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Shows the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70, and is distinct from the Second Advent at the end of history.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    As pessimistic systems, the non-postmillennial eschatological positions see our future in the bleakest terms. And this largely due to the biblical teaching on the great tribulation. For instance, amillennial theologian Herman Hanko notes that postmillennialism “stands in sharp contrast with that whole body of biblical data which describes the days prior to the coming of Christ as days in which lawlessness abounds (Matthew 24:12)” and “Matthew 24 itself is strong proof of all this.” Premillennialist Wayne Grudem agrees: “Matthew 24 is such a difficult passage from the postmillennialist perspective.”

    Any biblical eschatological system must be able to explain the great tribulation if it is to gain a hearing. But this is an especially important matter for postmillennialism due to its long-term, historical optimism. How can the postmillennialist propose an optimistic outlook for history if Christ, John, and other biblical writers warn of a time of great tribulation? The very idea of a great tribulation seems to conflict with the victorious outlook of postmillennialism.

    In this series I will engage a brief overview of the Olivet Discourse. This overview will serve two purposes: (1) It will interpret this large and important issue in biblical prophecy. (2) It will demonstrate how the great tribulation fits within the optimistic outlook of postmillennialism.

    The long-standing debate over Matthew 24 is unfortunate. When we look carefully at the prophecy it is not so difficult to comprehend it within a postmillennial scheme. One problem that modern evangelical laymen face is that Jesus’ discourse is solidly rooted in the Old Testament. Unfortunately, they tend to be so New Testament oriented that they do not properly understand the Old Testament backdrop. We must remember that Jesus was speaking to a first-century Jewish audience steeped in the old covenant revelation (the Old Testament itself).

    For our purposes in this series I will focus on the portion of the Olivet Discourse that relates to “the great tribulation.” Undoubtedly, in our modern evangelical context of popular apocalypticism and interest in all things eschatological, this passage comes to people’s mind as they ask: “Are we living in the last days?” “Is our day about to witness the fulfillment of these prophecies?”

    This passage is familiar to most Christians. Who has not heard the dreadful prophecy of “wars and rumors of wars”? Or of “earthquakes in various places”? Or the alarming prospect of the “abomination of desolation”? Who has not feared the sound of “the great tribulation” reverberating from the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ? Unfortunately, though Matthew 24 is familiar to most, it is understood by few.

    Most Christians in our generation and especially within modern evangelicalism, believe that we have just recently entered into the “last days.” They often point to Matthew 24 as a signal to the beginning of the last days. They believe this text even offers signs indicating the great tribulation is about to explode on the scene, punctuating the end of the Church Age.
     
  14. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (2)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (2)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 June 19, 2020 Comments: 2
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-048 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This is my second in a multi-part series explaining how we can believe in postmillennialism, even though Jesus teaches about “the great tribulation” that is to come. In this series of articles we will learn a remarkable fact: The great tribulation is past. Indeed, it occurred long ago in the first century and was concerned with the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

    Obviously, if this is so, then the great tribulation punctuated the beginning of Christianity (as the new covenant-phase of God’s kingdom) and has no direct bearing on the end of the Church Age (supposedly lying in our near future). Thus, it does not contradict postmillennialism’s historical optimism. Let us consider the evidence.

    Most evangelicals focus on the remarkable judgments in the Matthew 24. And they do so to such an extent that they overlook important contextual clues that go against the popular conception of the great tribulation. And they do this despite the fact that these clues are quite clear and compelling.

    These clues revolve around Matthew 24:34 which involves the key observation for a proper understanding of the great tribulation. This is the text we must focus upon; it will be our guiding star shedding light on our pathway through this dark and frightening passage. Let us note:

    Literary setting

    First, this verse links the great tribulation to the first century. Indeed, Christ specifically declares that the great tribulation will occur within the lifetime of his original audience. He clearly establishes the time frame in which it will come to pass: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34).

    [​IMG]

    Matthew 24 Debate: Past or Future?
    (DVD by Ken Gentry and Thomas Ice)

    Two hour public debate between Ken Gentry and Thomas Ice on the Olivet Discourse.

    See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

    We find important interpretive evidence in the historical and contextual setting of Matthew 24 that helps us understand this statement. We must analyze Jesus’ statement in its own historical and literary setting. That is, we must look back to Matthew 23 as the lead-in to Matthew 24. Let us see how this context helps our understanding.

    In Matthew 23 Jesus calls down woes upon the scribes and Pharisees of his generation (Matt 23:13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29). They are his antagonists; they are the backdrop against which his prophecy must be understood. As he concludes his woes section, he solemnly prophesies in Matthew 23:32: “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.” In other words, they are guilty; now they will fill up their final guilt.

    An important reason motivates Jesus’ denunciation of the Pharisees: they would be filling up the measure of the guilt of their fathers by attacking Christians. Notice Matthew 23:34–36:

    “Behold, I am sending you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on the earth. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

    The very setting in which Christ is delivering the Olivet Discourse is one of impending judgment upon first-century Jerusalem.

    We must understand that the scribes and Pharisees live in a very important generation. Theirs was the time in which the Messiah comes. Tragically, “he came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). First-century Israel lived in “the fullness of time” (Mark 1:15), but they missed its opportunity. They experienced the very era that “many prophets and righteous men desired to see” (Matt 13:17; cp. John 8:36), but were blind to it. They lived through “the time of your visitation,” but “did not recognize” it (Luke 19:44). Indeed, Jesus “wanted to gather” them together in his care, but they “were unwilling” (Matt 23:37).

    Thus, in Matthew 24:34, Jesus warns: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The ones to whom he is speaking (his first-century disciples, Matt 24:1–2) will recognize the judgments in the Lord’s great tribulation proclamation. This is a very clear and dogmatic statement.

    We must note that he states here that this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. That includes the great tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24:21. Matthew 24:34 employs virtually identical language to the Matthew 23:36 statement regarding the soon-coming persecution of Christians: “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.”

    Historical setting

    Second, this prophecy specifically focuses on the first-century temple toward which Jesus is physically facing. Let us notice what prompted the Olivet Discourse. In Matthew 23:37, 38, we read of a broken-hearted Savior lamenting:

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her, how often I wanted to gather her children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate.”

    [​IMG]An Eschatology of Victory
    by J. Marcellus Kik
    This book presents a strong, succinct case for both optimistic postmillennialism and for orthodox preterism. An early proponent in the late Twentieth-century revival of postmillennialism. One of the better non-technical studies of Matt. 24. It even includes a strong argument for a division between AD 70 and the Second Advent beginning at Matt. 24:36.

    For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com

    The very Jerusalem sprawling before him (Matt 23:37a), the land where the prophets were killed while openly defying God (Matt 23:31), those people who had rejected his loving overtures (Matt 23:37b), that temple now being left desolate (Matt 23:38) — these are in Jesus’ mind and upon his heart as he prophesies the great tribulation.

    Notice his own disciples’ response to his solemn declaration against the temple. Moments after his warning that their holy house was being left desolate, we read: “Jesus came out from the temple” (Matt 24:1). That was the very temple he had just declared is being left desolate (Matt 23:38). Then as he “was going away” from that first-century temple, his disciples “came up to point out the temple buildings to him” (Matt 24:1b). Then we read in Matthew 24:2:

    “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say unto you, not one stone here shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down. And as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately saying, ‘Tell us when shall these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

    As a matter of historical and archaeological fact, that temple to which Jesus refers is destroyed in AD 70. No temple has existed in Jerusalem since that time. The Lord’s prophecy relates to a temple that was actually destroyed just forty years later — a “generation” later (forty years = a generation; Num 32:13; Psa 95:10).

    Specific command

    Third, Jesus commands those particular people before him to do something. In Matthew 24:15 he discusses the “abomination of desolation” preparing his disciples for “the great tribulation” (Matt 24:21): “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” Clearly this is not a worldwide phenomenon for he limits it to Jerusalem and Judea — because that is where the temple is located.

    We know from history that the Jerusalem church heeded Christ’s warning. They fled Jerusalem and went to Pella as the Jewish War with Rome broke out. The early church historian Eusebius (ca. AD 263–339) records this historical event:

    “The people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” (Ecclesiastical History 3:5:3)

    In these three major lines of evidence we see that the focus of the great tribulation prophecy is on first-century Jerusalem and the temple. Regardless of contemporary “prophecy experts,” the Lord locates the time of the great tribulation in a first-century event. Thus, in this one major argument we see that “the great tribulation” lies in our past. But there is more.

    But there is more! So I hope you will join me by reading my third article in this series.
     
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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (3)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (3)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 June 23, 2020 1 Comment
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-049 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    The great tribulation is deemed by many to destroy an possibility of a long-range hope for history, such as is in postmillennialism. In this ongoing series I am explaining how the postmillennialist can explain the great tribulation, while maintaining his historical hope for the long run. This is the third article in this series. So, let’s get to work.

    As per my last article, Jesus forthrightly declares that the great tribulation events will occur in the first century. That being the case, we should expect to find evidence that they did in fact occur then. And we do! Let us survey a few of these. We will see the first-century historical fulfillment of several of his statements in Matthew 24.

    False prophets

    In Matthew 24:5 and 11 Jesus warns about false christs and prophets. That is, he is warning about the danger of false religious enthusiasts who will arise in an attempt to distract and disturb his disciples.

    False religious leaders are an abundant problem in that day, as we see in the examples of Theudas (Acts 5:36), Simon (Acts 8:9, 10), and Paul’s general warning to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29–30). For instance, Paul expresses his fear for the Ephesian church: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30).

    The historical record of the first-century Jewish historian and priest Josephus (ca. AD 37–101) also documents false religious leaders who operated during the Jewish War with Rome which brought about the destruction of the temple: “such men deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration” (Jewish Wars 2:13:4 §259). He speaks of others as “impostors and deceivers [who] persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs” (Antiquities 20:8:6 §167–68).

    Clearly, Scripture and contemporary historical records testify of the very real danger of false religious teachers leading the Jews astray shortly after Christ dies.

    Wars and rumors of wars

    Matthew 24:6 and 7 speaks of “wars and rumors of wars.” This is a sign that we constantly hear about today in eschatological discussions. Since there have always been wars, to which ones is Jesus referring? How is this rather broad sign helpful?

    To understand the significance of this sign we must consider an important political fact of first-century history. When the Lord gave this sign to his audience they were experiencing the famous pax Romana (Latin for “the peace of Rome”). But what is this “peace of Rome”? And how is it significant for understanding Jesus’ prophecy?

    By military conquests and political savvy, the Emperor Augustus Caesar established this period of remarkable peace shortly before Christ was born (he was the reigning emperor when Jesus was born, Luke 2:1). This was an impressive time of widespread peace that enjoyed freedom from war. The first-century Jewish philosopher Philo (ca. 29 BC–AD 50) speaks of the Roman empire being “free from all sedition, and regulated by and obedient to admirable laws” (Embassy to Gaius 2:8). Roman naturalist and writer Pliny the Elder (who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79) describes “the immeasurable majesty of the Roman peace” (Natural History 27:3). The third-century church father Origen (ca. 182– 254) mentions the “abundance of peace that began at the birth of Christ” (Against Celsus 2:30).

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    New Testament scholar, Bo Reicke, notes that “in the Roman Empire proper, the period of peace remains comparably undisturbed until the time of Nero.” The emperor Nero breached the pax Romana by engaging the Jewish War that resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. Consequently, the Lord’s prophecy offers a significant sign that warns Christians that despite the pax Romana, they will hear of “wars and rumors of wars” when “nation would rise up against nation.”

    When the Jewish War erupted in the late AD 60s, it broke the famous pax Romana. In this important war, Rome victoriously marched across Israel and mercilessly crushed that restive state. Though the Jewish Revolt initially flares up in late AD 66, the resulting formal war began in the Spring of AD 67. That was when Nero formally commissioned his general Vespasian to crush the revolt. As Josephus puts it: “Nero upon Cestius’s defeat, was in fear of the entire event of the war, and thereupon made Vespasian general in this war” (Jewish War Pref., 8 §21; cp. 3:1:1–3 §1–8).

    In that war Syria, Arabia, Egypt, and other nations aligned themselves against Israel. Josephus notes that Vespasian secured “a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood” (Jewish War 3:1:3 §8). He later writes:

    “there were also a considerable number of auxiliaries got together, that came from the kings Antiochus, and Agrippa, and Sohemus, each of them contributing one thousand footmen that were archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of which were archers; so that the whole army, including the auxiliaries sent by the kings, as well horsemen as footmen.” (Jewish War 3:4:2 §68)

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    When Vespasian’s son Titus took over the fight, Josephus mentions the greatly increased number of foreign national troops engaged in the siege of Jerusalem: “those auxiliaries that came from the kings, being now more in number than before, together with a considerable number that came to his assistance from Syria” (Josephus, Jewish War 5:1:6 §42).

    But not only does this era experience the Jewish War, but it also resulted in a great and destructive civil war in Rome itself. In June of AD 68 Nero committed suicide as Rome erupts into civil upheaval and military strife (Josephus, Jewish War Pref., 9 §23). Britain, Germany, and Gaul revolt against Rome and seek to break out of the empire. Rome feared that the Parthians from the East would mobilize because of the Empire’s disarray during that time.

    Roman historian Tacitus (AD 56–117) writes: “The history on which I am entering is that of a period rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, horrible even in peace. Four emperors failed by the sword; there were three civil wars, more foreign wars and often both at the same time” (Histories 1:2). He laments that “Rome and Italy are thoroughly wasted by intestine war” (Hist. 4:75). Josephus reports similarly that: “all was in disorder after the death of Nero” (Jewish War Pref. 1:2 §5).

    Thus, both Jerusalem and Rome were experiencing nation arising against nation (Matt 24:7). These “wars and rumors of wars” (Matt 24:6) were truly signs for that first-century generation.

    The historical facts are fitting our exegetical understanding of the Olivet Discourse and its emphasis on the great tribulation. But there is more. Much more. Please join my in my next article.
     
  16. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (4)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (4)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 June 26, 2020 Comments: 2
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-050 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This is our fourth installment on the great tribulation in postmillennial eschatology. We are currently surveying Matthew 24 and its prepartory signs to the great tribulation, showing that these signs occurred historically in the first century.

    We come now to Matthew 24:7b where he declares that “in various places there will be famines.” Famines are easy to document in biblical world of the first century where they were particularly devastating. For instance, in Acts 11:28 we read of Agabus’ prophecy of a “great famine” that occurs during the reign of Claudius (AD 50s): “There stood up one of them named Agabus and signified by the Spirit that there should be great famine throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.” This is probably the famine Josephus mentions as striking Jerusalem: “A famine did oppress them at that time, and many people died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal” (Antiquities 20:2:5 §51).

    Classical writers testify to the widespread, recurring famines in the AD 50s and into the 60s. We discover these in the works of Suetonius, Dio Cassius, Eusebius, and Orosius. For instance, speaking of Rome in AD 51 Tacitus writes: “This year witnessed many prodigies . . . . Further portents were seen in a shortage of corn, resulting in famine. . . . It was established that there was no more than fifteen days’ supply of food in the city.” (Annals 12:43)

    As noted above Josephus speaks of the famine in Jerusalem (Antiquities 20:2:5) which he later calls “the great famine” (Antiquities 20:5:2 §101). He mentions others (Antiquities 20:5:2 §101; Jewish War 3:7:11 §180; 4:1:9 §62; 6:3:3).

    Matthew 24:7c adds: “in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” A particularly dreadful quake shakes Jerusalem in AD 67. Josephus records this frightful catastrophe: “There broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, and continual lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake” (Jewish War 4:4:5 §286).

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    Tacitus mentions earthquakes in Crete, Rome, Apamea, Phrygia, Campania, Laodicea (of Revelation fame) and Pompeii during the time just before Jerusalem’s destruction. Severe earthquakes plague the reigns of the Emperors Caligula (AD 37–41) and Claudius (AD 41–54). According to Seneca (ca. 4 BC—AD 65), others occur in Asia, Achaia, Syria, and Macedonia. Of this era, Ellicott’s commentary observes: “Perhaps no period in the world’s history has ever been so marked by these convulsions as that which intervenes between the Crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem.”

    Persecution and apostasy

    In Matthew 24:9 and 10 Jesus warns of persecution and apostasy:

    “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one
    another.”

    Almost every chapter of Acts details the persecutions the church endures in those early years: “And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1; cp. Acts 4:27; 16:20; 17:7; 18:12; 21:11; 24:1–9; 25:1–2).
    In this book I provide careful exegetical studies of five key judgment passages that are so crucial for understanding biblical prophecy and rebutting dispensationalists: Dan 9:24-27; Matt 24:1-34; 2 Thess 2:1-9; Rev 13; and Rev 17.

    This book defends a redemptive-historical preterist view of these famous prophecies, showing, among other things, that Nero is the Man of Sin and the Beast; the Great Tribulation occurred in A.D. 70; the Harlot is first century Jerusalem.


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    Quite naturally a result of severe persecution is apostasy. John writes of apostasy in the first century: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19; cp. 2 and 3 John). The Epistle to the Hebrews indicates a sizeable apostasy from among Jewish converts to Christianity (cf. Heb 2:1–4; 6:1–6; 10:26–31). Tacitus even alludes to apostasy during the Neronic persecution: “First, Nero had self-acknowledged Christians arrested. Then, on their information, large numbers of others were condemned” (Tacitus, Annals 15).

    Conclusion

    Thus, a quick survey of the biblical and the historical records show that many of the prophecies in Matthew 24 come to pass in the first century. This fits perfectly with the time-frame of Matthew 24:34 where our Lord asserts: “this generation shall not pass until all these things take place.” Therefore, we see that postmillennialism is not negatively impacted by the great tribulation passage — thus far.

    But problems arise in other texts within Matthew 24. So next we must consider the difficulties facing this first-century interpretation. These seem to be quite a bit more difficult to apply to the first century, and are often used to counter the preterist analysis made thus far. So, see you next time!
     
  17. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (5)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (5)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 June 30, 2020 Comments: 4
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-051 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    As I offer my fifth contribution in this series on the role of the great tribulation in postmillennialism, we come now to consider several interpretive difficulties. At least, verses that seem difficult to apply in the first century.

    Jesus expressly states that all these things shall occur in “this generation” (Matt 24:34). Regardless of how difficult a first-century fulfillment may seem for some of Jesus’ statements, his clear time frame statement control our interpretation of the passage. Let us consider the troublesome issues that arise in the remaining prophecies.

    Gospel proclamation

    Many opponents of the first-century analysis point first of all to Jesus’ statement regarding the preaching of the gospel: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (Matt 24:14). How can we explain this statement? The “whole world” heard the gospel? This looks like a formidable objection against a first-century fulfillment. But looks are deceiving.

    Actually, the meaning of the Greek word oikumene (“world”) here does not necessarily refer to the entire planet. We may glean many examples of a more restricted meaning from various Scriptures. For instance, in Acts 24:5 Luke records the Jewish opposition against Paul in that they charge him with causing dissension among the Jews “throughout the whole world.” Surely this means their world, the world of their experience, the Roman empire.

    But even more significantly the New Testament informs us that the gospel is preached throughout the entire known world of that day: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Rom 1:8). Paul even writes that “the gospel . . . has come to you, just as in all the world” (Col 1:6, cp. v 23). Interestingly, in this statement he uses the word kosmos which can and often does speak of the entire world. Yet he declares that the gospel has come “in all the world.”

    Thus, in the Matthew 24:14 Jesus simply states that the gospel will be preached in the entire known world of that day before these events reach their climax. That is, it will not be limited to Israel, as was his ministry (Matt 10:6; 15:24).

    Abomination of desolation

    What are we to make of his statement regarding the dreaded “abomination of desolation?” In Matthew 24:15 the Lord states: “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place.” This prophecy is often associated with a world-ruling Antichrist in the future.

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    Contrary to popular opinion, though, this must also occur in the first century. We see this from the following evidence: (1) This “abomination” stands in the “holy place,” i.e., the temple standing immediately before them (cp. Matt 23:38—24:2). (2) His audience could imagine no other locality, for Jerusalem is the “holy city” (Neh 11:1, 18; Isa 48:2; 52:1; Dan 9:24; Matt 4:5; 27:53) (3) Christ is responding to questions pertaining to that very temple (cf. Matt 24:1). He even points to the temple as he answers (Matt 24:2). That holy place will be dismantled by the Roman soldiers within forty years, a generation.

    The “abomination of desolation” is the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by pagan Roman armies. Luke’s parallel account makes this clear. He takes Matthew’s Hebraic language and interprets it for his Gentile audience: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand” (Luke 21:20). He tells us what the abomination is: Jerusalem being surrounded by Roman armies for the purpose of decimating her temple.

    The Romans encircle Jerusalem on at least two occasions: under Vespasian in the initial siege and later under Titus not long before the Temple’s final destruction. Of Vespasian’s siege Josephus comments:

    “And now the war having gone through all the mountainous country, and all the plain country also, those that were at Jerusalem were deprived of the liberty of going out of the city; for as to such as had a mind to desert, they were watched by the zealots; and as to such as were not yet on the side of the Romans, their army kept them in, by encompassing the city round about on all sides.” (Jewish War 4:9:1 §490)

    He writes that later Titus builds “a wall round about the whole city” (Jewish War 5:12:1 §499).

    After the first surrounding, the Christians are to flee from Judea. In God’s providence, Vespasian withdraws from the siege when Nero dies; the Christians then had the opportunity to escape. The early church father Eusebius notes that:

    “The people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” (Ecclesiastical History 3:5:3; cp. Matt 24:16; Epiphanius, Of Weights and Measures, 15)

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    When the Roman soldiers finally obtain the upper hand in the temple, Josephus records how they raise their ensigns in the temple, bow to their to pagan deity, and offer incense to Caesar:

    “The Romans upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings lying round about it, brought their ensigns to the Temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator, with the greatest acclamations of joy.” (Jewish War 6:6:1 §316)

    Thus, we see what the Lord means by “the abomination of desolation.” We are now ready to focus on the direct statement mentioning “the great tribulation.” But I am weary. So I will offer that study next
     
  18. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (6)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (6)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 July 3, 2020 Comments: 2
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-052 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    We are nearing the end of our series on the great tribulation in postmillennialism. if you endure to the end, you surely must be saved! Let us know consider the verse that directly mentions “the great tribulation.”

    In Matthew 24:21 the Lord states that

    “then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”

    Was AD 70 the worst catastrophe ever? What about World Wars I and II? Surely they were much worse than the first-century Jewish War with Rome. How can we explain this statement of Jesus while maintaining our first-century interpretation?

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    When we consider this in its biblical context, however, ample information supports my conclusion that A. D. 70 is in view. Note the following points.

    First, Matthew 24:34 states that “all these things” shall occur in “this generation.” We must notice that verse 34 appears just thirteen verses after verse 21. Therefore, “the great tribulation” must be one of “these things” to occur in “this generation.”

    Second, more catastrophic than our recent World Wars was Noah’s Flood. And it must even be worse than the supposed future great tribulation. For in Noah’s Flood the entire human population perished, except for one family (1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:5). And yet Jesus mentions Noah’s Flood in his context (Matt 24:37–39). So something else must be going on here.

    Third, to interpret Jesus properly we must understand the use of hyperbole in Old Testament prophetic language. Very often we find that judgment language in prophecy is formulaic, stock-in-trade, highly stylized, poetic language. For instance, in Exodus 11:6 we read these words regarding the tenth plague on Egypt: “’Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.” Which is it? Is the great tribulation the worst judgment, as per Matthew 24:21? Or is the tenth plague upon Egypt the worst, as per Exodus 11:6?

    In Ezekiel 5:9 we read of the Old Testament destruction of the temple by the Babylonians: “Because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again.” But in Matthew 24 it happens again. This is apocalyptic, poetic, dramatic imagery.

    In fact, Josephus evaluates the Jewish War similarly to Christ:

    “Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans has been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our time, but, in a manner, of those that ever were hear of, both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations” (Jewish Wars, Preface 1 §1).

    “The misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not considerable as they were” (Jewish Wars, Preface, 4 §12).

    “Neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries. . . from the beginning of the world” (Jewish Wars 5:10:5 §442).

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    Such comparative language is even used in more mundane, less dramatic circumstances in Scripture. Consider the sterling, high praise of both Hezekiah and Josiah — from the same book! Both are declared to be the best ever:

    2 Kings 18:5 (regarding Hezekiah):
    “He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.”

    2 Kings 23:25 (regarding Josiah):
    “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.”

    We even tend to use language in a similar, boldly exaggerated manner. This is like our saying to our child: “Haven’t I told you a million times not to do this?” Or: “I have a ton of work to do.” Or: “This will take me forever to straighten out.”

    Thus, Jesus’ declaration in verse 21 is dramatic speech emphasizing the remarkable nature of this event. It is not meant to be literally understood.

    Just one more article to go! Please join me next time.
     
  19. Iconoclast

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    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (7)

    POSTMILLENNIALISM & THE GREAT TRIBULATION (7)
    AD 70, Matthew 24 July 7, 2020 Comments: 5
    [​IMG]PMW 2020-053 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

    This is my final installment in this series on the great tribulation as understood within postmillennialism. We come now to a few more difficult texts.

    Christ’s coming

    In Matthew 24:27 Jesus states: “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” This is the sort of language we expect regarding the second coming of Christ, when he comes publicly and gloriously to conclude world history. Did Christ come like lightning in AD 70: How can this sort of language apply to AD 70?

    We must understand this declaration in terms of the context. The Lord had just cautioned his disciples: “If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them” (Matt 24:26). We must recall Josephus’ report in Jewish Wars 2:13:5 [261–62] cited above that records an episode in which an Egyptian false prophet arose in the wilderness claiming a great deliverance.

    Jesus dismisses such by stating that when he physically comes again to the earth, it will be an unmistakable event: “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt 24:27). The “for” (gar) here shows that he is giving the reason why his disciples should not think he is off in some wilderness or in an inner room somewhere. When he does return in his second coming, it will be as visible and dramatic as a lightning flashing.


    So again, we see how the prophecies of Matthew 24 find fulfillment in the first century. In that these prophecies are for that era (Matt 24:34), why should we opt for a futurist approach to the matter?

    The stars will fall

    As the Lord continues in detailing the dramatic events, he states in Matthew 24:29: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” This sounds like the universe is collapsing. Did such literally occur in AD 70?

    Once again we are facing apocalyptic, hyperbolic language. Consider Isaiah 13:10–13 which as instructive for this point:

    “For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, and abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken from its place at the fury of the Lord of hosts in the day of His burning anger.”

    Despite the initial appearance, Isaiah is not referring to the end of history. In the context he clearly identifies historical, Old Testament Babylon as the object of this judgment: “The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw” (Isa 13:1). In verse 17 he also mentions the Medes as an element of God’s judgment against them: “Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them.” Not only are the Medes an Old Testament era people who no longer exist, but they would be meaningless if the preceding language speaks of some sort of cosmic catastrophe. Indeed, they themselves would fall under such catastrophic events.

    This prophecy refers to Old Testament Babylon’s overthrow, with the Median invasion securing that overthrow. The God of the universe is acting by his providential superintendence; metaphorically he is darkening the light of heaven on this might nation. The same imagery applies to the collapse of Jerusalem in AD 70 — which will occur “in this generation” (Matt 24:34) as the temple is destroyed (Matt 24:2).

    Coming on the clouds

    In Matthew 24:30 the Lord makes a remarkable statement. Unfortunately, the NASB, which I have been using throughout this series, is poorly translated here. So we will cite both the King James Version and the English Standard Version to better capture the meaning of the text.

    In this verse we read a statement that sounds very much like the second coming of Christ. The KJV reads: “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” The ESV reads: “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Did Christ come on the clouds in AD 70?
    This language certainly could be used of the second advent. But once again, just three verses later Jesus states very clearly and forcefully: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34). Thus, we must recognize this as referring to the AD 70 event. A similarity of language between AD 70 and the second advent should not surprise us. After all, AD 70 is a distant reflection of that future, literal coming. Therefore the same dramatic language can apply to it, as well.

    According to Jesus’ prophecy there will be a “sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” He is speaking of some sort of sign that he is at the right hand of God rather than in the cold hard ground. They will learn by some judgment sign that he is high and exalted, the one causing their judgment and anguish. This sign is (apparently) the smoke of the temple being destroyed. This will be the sign to the Jews that the Son of Man is no longer dead but in heaven at God’s throne, where he will moves against them in judgment. He warned the Jews that this would happen (Matt 26:64). After all, he promised his disciples: “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 9:1).

    Gathering the elect

    Another confusing feature of Christ’s prophecy is found in Matthew 24:31: “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Is this speaking of the rapture? Did it occur in AD 70? Whatever this verse means, we must recall once again that Jesus affirms only three verses later that “all these things” will take place in “this generation” (Matt 24:34).

    Actually it is important to understand that the word “angel” (Gk.: aggelos) can be (and often is) translated: “messenger.” In Scripture it frequently refers to human messengers. We find this usage in Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:10; Luke 7:24 and 27. For instance, Jesus cites Malachi 3:1 as referring to John the Baptist: “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger [aggelos] ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you’” (Matt 11:10).

    Here Jesus is speaking of sending forth his messengers to trumpet the gospel of salvation. The collapse of the old covenant economy in the destruction of the temple is the sign that the gospel of God’s saving grace is spreading to all the world. The messengers are overflowing the boundaries of Old Testament Israel (cp. Psa 147:19–20; Amos 3:2; Eph 2:11–12). God is finished with sacrifices and human priests (Heb 8:13); he will no longer confine his grace to a single nation (John 4:20–24). Now the gospel will go to all nations (Matt 28:18–20).

    When the messengers go forth and declare the gospel, they go “from one end of the sky to the other,” which means from one horizon (where the sky “touches” the ground) to the other, that is, in all directions (cp. Deut 4:32). They call people and gather them into a new body, the new covenant church of Christ. In fact, this “gathering” language appears in a very significant passage in Hebrews 10:25, where the Jews are commanded to “gather together” as Christians, and not to fall back into Judaism: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

    Conclusion

    As we have seen in this analysis of Jesus’ teaching on the great tribulation, a strong case can be made that the tribulation is already past in that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70 is that great tribulation. The great tribulation ends the old covenant economy and establishes the new covenant order. As the writer of Hebrews expresses it: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear” (Heb 8:13).

    Therefore, the great tribulation lies in our past, not in our future. Postmillennialism does have a place for the great tribulation — at the beginning of Christian history, not at the end. The postmillennial outlook is not undermined by Christ’s teaching on this time of terrible judgment.
     
  20. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Well-Known Member
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    God's Kingdom: Now or Later? - The American Vision

    Many modern Christians believe that God’s kingdom will be manifested solely in the future. This means that we are living in a purely secular kingdom with purely secular laws cut off from the governance of heaven. This is the worldview of deism! If this is the view of any part of the church, then the secularists are right in condemning the mixing of any of God’s laws with the State. How can God as a future King have any say in the affairs of a present kingdom under the rule of another king?

    In the Parable of the Landowner, Jesus indicts the chief priests and Pharisees for their rejection of His Messiahship. He predicts that as the Heir of the Landowner, He will be cast out of the vineyard and be killed (Matt. 21:38). Jesus relates this to the kingdom in several ways. First, Israel had the kingdom, an extension of the Old Covenant kingdom, therefore, it was a present reality: “The kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (21:43). Jesus could not take from them what they did not have.

    Second, there is no mention of a postponement or a parenthesis. Jesus does not say, “The coming of the kingdom will be delayed for another time.” Third, the kingdom will “be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” The “deed” to the kingdom is transferred to a new “nation.” Fourth, it is obvious from the apostles’ question in Acts 1:6 that they believed the kingdom had been taken from Israel, because they ask, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel.”

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    Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
    Christianity's failure to show itself practical in the past 150 years has guaranteed the success of secularism and militant Islam, both of which are doing incalculable harm at home and abroad. The rejection of any type of ‘this-worldly’ application of the Bible has resulted in the proliferation of man-centered worldviews that have steadily drained the life out of our world and left behind a spiritual vacuum. Will the church of Jesus Christ be prepared with biblical answers for the millions who will be ready to follow the light of the gospel as the folly of humanism and Islam is made manifest? (2 Tim. 3:9).

    BUY NOW
    In today’s podcast, Gary deals with God’s Kingdom in time and space. Is this world controlled by God or the Devil? Is God’s Kingdom a current reality, or does it need to wait? In Chapter 13 of Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths, Gary discusses the present reality of God’s Kingdom.
     
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