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DOES REVELATION PROVE REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY?

DOES REVELATION PROVE REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY?

PRELIMINARY MATTERS  

Without a doubt, the book of Revelation is one of the most difficult, yet intriguing, books in the Bible. The apostle Peter said that some of the things Paul had written “in all His epistles” were “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). Certainly, what Peter said of Paul may also be applied to the book of Revelation. There is no doubt, due to the symbolic nature of John’s writing, that the book of Revelation, especially between chapters four and twenty-two, is indeed challenging. Of course, at the very outset of the book John prepares his readers for how his message would be revealed. He says it was going to “signified” (1:1). When something was said to be “signified” it was to be represented with “signs” – symbolized. The “sign” is insignificant compared to that which it represents. What it represents is most significant. Essentially, the “sign” does not matter, but what it communicates does. Being a representation of existing reality, a “sign” always points to something else. This symbolized message would be imbedded in the book’s literary form which consists of three genres:  

Virtually all interpreters recognize that Revelation comprises three genres: letter (epistle); prophecy; and apocalyptic. The genres have been merged or mixed together. Therefore, as Beale puts it, ‘the most preferable view is that Revelation is a prophecy cast in an apocalyptic mold, and written down in a letter form in order to motivate the audience to change their behavior in the light of the transcendent reality of the book’s message (Menn, 182).  

Revelation is prophetic in nature because it points to events soon to be fulfilled. It is apocalyptic which, of course, is also a Jewish genre of literature, using symbols to convey Divine Truth. However, like all the other New Testament writings, Revelation was a circular letter to be shared and copied with other churches in the first century. While it may be “hard to understand,” the book of Revelation, like Paul’s writings, is not impossible to understand! In providing the verbally inspired (and authoritative) Scriptures, God revealed His mind and Will. The implication is that Scripture is to be understood alike by all, because it is God’s revelation to mankind. John says what he was writing was “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1), a phrase that should be identified as Genitive of Source, meaning Jesus is the source from which John received the revelation. Some, on the other hand, suggest the phrase is a Plenary Genitive, meaning both the Subjective and Objective Genitives are used simultaneously, creating an intentional ambiguity, in order to convey a deeper meaning.

However, John is not revealing the Person of Christ so much as he is revealing the things which much shortly take place” (Rev.1:1), which is further qualified by: “Blessed is he who READS and those who HEAR the WORDS of this PROPHECY, and keep those THINGS which are WRITTEN in it” (1:3, emph., DP). Therefore, the phrase “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is objective genitive – the message or revelation that was from (derived from) Christ, consisting of: (1) of a prophecy (2) containing words both to read and hear and (3) things needing to be kept which were written down. While the book is replete with “deeper meaning” due to its symbolic representations, the phrase “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to the Genitive of Source or Objective Genitive – the message John was told to write down. Unquestionably, however, the most common interpretive error in reading the symbolism of Revelation is to confuse the symbols of the book with its message.  The symbols are not the message; they carry and embody the message.

John was writing to be understood. He was convinced his readers would understand and be blessed for having doing so. Contrary to popular opinion, the book of Revelation is not a secret book with hidden mysteries waiting to be revealed by some modern-day prophet with a calculator. It has already been revealed!  There are no more secrets in God’s plan of salvation!  Revelation is just that – a revealing or unveiling of God’s plan. The English word “revelation” translates the Greek apokalupsis, which is a compound word consisting of apo, meaning “off of” or “away from,” and kalupto, meaning “to cover” or “to hide.” Therefore, the word picture we have before us is that of removing a cover off of something. In this case, “revelation” means an uncovering or unveiling that which was previously hidden or unknown. It is the revealing of Christ’s will or as John wrote, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” In fact, John tells us that he is going to reveal “things which must shortly take place” (1:1).

PERIOD AND PURPOSE OF REVELATION

The occasion and purpose of the book of Revelation is not only to reveal those “things” that will shortly occur, but also to encourage the Christians to stand fast in the faith. Poythress provides a good summary for the purpose of the book: 

Revelation is addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, which is today part of western Turkey. Each church receives rebukes and encouragement, in according with its condition. Persecution has fallen on some Christians, and more is coming. Roman officials would try to force Christians to worship the emperor. Heretical teachings and declining fervor would tempt Christians to compromise with pagan society. Revelation assures Christians that Christ knows their condition. He calls them to stand fast against all temptation. Their victory has been secured through the blood of the Lamb. Christ will come soon to defeat Satan and all his agents, and his people will enjoy everlasting peace in his presence (Poythress, The Returning King, 55).    

John is told to write seven letters to seven churches who find themselves in the epicenter of a Caesar cult in Asia Minor, which began with Jupiter Julius (Julius Caesar) the father of the Roman Empire in 46 B.C., to Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus) in A.D. 68. Julius Caesar (Jupiter) was voted into the hierarchy of the gods by the Roman senate, calling him “divine Julius.” His successor, Octavius, took on the title “Augustus,” meaning “venerable, worthy of reverence and worship.” Tiberius was worshiped, when the Roman senate voted to build a temple for him in the city Smyrna. Caligula, so convinced of his divinity, erected a colossal image of himself in the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem. Claudius believed the spiritual supremacy of the state was paramount, being summed up in the phrase, “Caesar is Lord” (NT in Antiquity, 36-446).  This philosophical pretense was common among the people, including the Jews. When Pilate wanted to release Jesus the Jews cried out, “Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” and when Pilate responded, “Shall I crucify your king?” the Jews answered, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:12, 15). A generation later Nero succeeds Claudius and is worshiped not only as “Lord” but as “Savior.” It is within this milieu John admonishes the seven churches to stand firm in the conviction that Christ, NOT Caesar, is both Savior and Lord! John writes:   

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” … “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 2:10, 13:15).

It should be noted that the Jews are equating the title of “king” with the title of Caesar, making them synonymous, a concept which Suetonius, Josephus, Dio Cassius, and the Sibylline Oracles all refer to. “Caesar” was the family name of Julius, making him the first Caesar, which was also applied to subsequent Roman emperors or kings (cf. Rev.17:9-11).

Revelation discloses things that "must shortly take place," or things that were "at hand" or things that must “soon take place” (Rev. 1:1, 3, 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20). When Jesus says things will happen “shortly” He must mean “shortly.” When He says something is “at hand” it must certainly be near. And when He says “soon” He must mean “soon.” Jesus is not linguistically challenged. He is not referring to thousands of years into the future or some other disproportionate time frame. Rather, He is using the language of the Old Testament prophets and is speaking to a crisis looming on the horizon, associating vindication for His people along with it. In fact, when Jesus uses the word “near” with reference to the fig tree and its “putting forth leaves” He specifically says “you know that summer is near” (Matthew 24:32). In like manner, with regards to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, Jesus says: “So you also, when you see all these things, you know that it is near – at the doors” (24:33). In a manner of a generation this prophecy would take place, not in hundreds or thousands of years later. The book of Revelation is replete with Old Testament Scripture, demonstrating that the audience to whom John is writing was familiar with the Old Testament. In fact, “[o]f the 404 verses in the book of Revelation, seemingly 278 of them make some allusion to the Old Testament. That is 68.8% of the verses! And some of these verses contain two, or even three, allusions to the Old Testament” (Lyons, Apologetics Press). The book of Revelation is a recapitulation of Old Testament, Jewish history, ranging from the Garden of Eden to Babylon, with the many references coming from Genesis, Leviticus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.

This brings us to the controversial dating of the book of Revelation, which I humbly accept as being prior to AD 70. Since this is not a discussion about the dating of the book of Revelation, and since there is too much information to include here, I will simply offer one “theo-philosophical” reason why, not only the book of Revelation, but all the books of the New Testament were written prior to AD 70.

As mentioned previously, Revelation is replete with Jewish history and with graphic Jewish imagery. Why, then, would John (and Jesus) not mention anything concerning the fulfillment of the greatest prophetic statement made concerning the Jews? Why is there nothing written concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the end of the Jewish nation? Why does John write so much about Jewish history, yet does mention anything concerning the greatest moment in Jewish history? Geisler asks it this way:

If you and your fellow followers write accounts of Jesus after the temple and city were destroyed in A.D. 70, aren’t you at least going to mention that unprecedented national, human, economic, and religious tragedy somewhere in your writings, especially this risen Jesus had predicted it?  Of course! (Hanegraaff, 156).  

Clement of Alexandria speaks to the end of inspiration and the close of the New Testament canon prior to AD 70: “For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, end with Nero" (Miscellanies 7:17). The Gospel Accounts retell the detailed story of Jesus, His teachings, and His prophetic statements, including the destruction of the temple. Certainly the fulfillment of such a prophecy as that of the destruction of the temple, one which the deity of Christ relies upon for its fulfillment, would have been retold as well. The omission of the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy of the destruction of the temple, seemingly provides overwhelming evidence, internal or otherwise, that the entire New Testament had been completed and written down before AD 70. If the book of Revelation was written prior to AD 70, then the view which has as its central theme the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, would fit the best. However, this view does not necessarily imply that ALL future events have been fulfilled. It is my studied conviction, that most of the book of Revelation can be outlined with Matthew 24 (the Olivet Discourse), including Matthew 23:31-39 as well. Jesus answered His disciple’s questions: (1) “Tell us, when will these things be? (2) And what will be the sign of your Coming and the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). He answers the first part of their question, referring to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (24:4-34), then the second part, which deals with His Second Coming ((24:36-51). The book of Revelation simply unfolds and expands upon these events and questions of Matthew 24.  

PRETERISM – REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY

A person claiming the entire New Testament was written prior to AD 70 is sometimes referred to as a “preterist,” but that is not necessarily true. The entire New Testament was written before AD 70 has no connection to claiming ALL Bible prophecy has been fulfilled. The word “preterist” has come to be defined as a person who maintains that the prophecies in the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled, which I believe is a poor definition. The Latin word “preter” means “past, bygone, or former,” referring to one who believes any specific or given prophecy to have been fulfilled (occurred in the past). Just about anyone can be labeled a preterist who believes some prophecy has already been fulfilled. For instance, if one believes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ has already occurred, then they are viewing that event from a “preterist” viewpoint – it occurred in the past. Therefore, it is imperative to understand there are varying degrees of preterism concerning just how much of Biblical prophecy is to be considered "preterate" or past. Anyone claiming that ALL Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, including the Resurrection of the dead, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Judgment are “full preterists” or “hyper-preterists.” Anyone claiming that some or most Bible prophecies have been fulfilled are “partial preterists.”  

            Associated with Full-Preterism or Hyper-Preterism (as opposed to Partial-Preterism) is Realized Eschatology (Herein RE).  For our purposes, anything that has been “realized” has already taken place. Having been fulfilled it has been realized. The word “eschatology” is “the study of last or end time things.” It is comprised of two Greek words: eschato meaning “last,” and logos meaning “word” or “study” Therefore, Realized Eschatology is the study of already fulfilled end time things, such as the Resurrection, the Second Coming, and the Judgment. Therefore, Full Preterists or Realized Eschatologists believe ALL prophecies in the Bible, and specifically in the book of Revelation, have been fulfilled.  The question now is, does Revelation prove Realized Eschatology?

Preterists advocating the dogma of Realized Eschatology affirm that ALL end time events were fulfilled. When the Roman armies destroyed the temple and Jerusalem the Second Coming of Christ, the Resurrection of the dead, and Judgment are said to have occurred in AD 70. Therefore, RE claim the Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the Judgment are all past are now past, having been fulfilled (“Realized”). These preterists are Realized Eschatologists or “Hyper” or “Full-preterists.”

It cannot be stressed enough that Partial-Preterists, such as myself, reject the fanciful and absurd doctrine of RE. Those of us believing much or most (not all) of Bible prophecy has been fulfilled, and who still yearn for the Second Coming of Christ, are not so much preterists as we are “exegeticalists” – students of the Bible. Realized Eschatology, on the other hand, consist of “hyper-eisegeticalists” in the line of Hymenaeus and Philetus “who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:18). Students of the Bible respect God’s Word enough to know that the Second Coming did NOT occur in AD 70. In fact, God had several, unique "judgment comings" throughout the Old Testament, in which God "came" and destroyed a wicked nation by using another nation as his tool or agent of judgment.

MATTHEW 24 – FIIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

The Bible is replete with the use of figurative language, therefore it is imperative to recognize it. The most common figures of speech in the Bible involve idioms, metaphors, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, simile, locution, parallelism or synonymy, rhetoric, personification, sarcasm, ellipsis, etc. Since I have stated that Matthew 24 is, essentially, an outline of the book of Revelation, I must address the figurative language found in it. The expression “the coming of the Son of Man” and “the Son of Man coming on the clouds” (Matthew 24:27, 30), referring to the same thing, are both figures referring to Christ's "judgment coming" in AD 70, in which He "came" and destroyed apostate Israel by using the Roman nation as his tool or agent of judgment. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the sign that the Son of Man was in heaven orchestrating His judgment upon His people. The wording of this passage refers us back to the expression, "The Son of Man," found in Daniel 7:13, which Jesus used concerning Himself when referring to His coming (Matthew 24:27). The judgment of Jerusalem was a sign that the Son of Man was in heaven in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14. Here we see Jesus, the Son of Man, coming to the Ancient of days and receiving His everlasting kingdom. This prophecy was fulfilled at the Ascension (Acts 2:30-36). The kingdom received from the Ancient of days is no other than the kingdom symbolized by the stone cut out of the mountain (Daniel 2:34-35), His church (2:44-45). The kingdom of Christ was made manifest to all Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Jerusalem's destruction was a sign that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God, having all authority (Matthew 28:18).  

In Matthew 26:63-64, Caiaphas, the high priest, asks Jesus if He is the Son of God, the Messiah. Notice the similarities between Jesus' answer to Caiaphas with what He said in Matthew 24:30: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, 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." Jesus told Caiaphas, "You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power." He said to His disciples, "They would see the sign that the son of man was in heaven." He told Caiaphas, "You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven." He told His disciples, "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." Matthew is speaking of the same event in both passages.

It is significant to note Caiaphas' response to Jesus in Matthew 26:65. He understood the implication Jesus made, because only God is the One who can be said to be “coming in the clouds.” Similarly, in Mark 14:62 it says they would see Him “coming with the clouds of heaven" while He is "sitting at the right hand of the Power." Jesus’ coming with the clouds was proof of His authority and reign, sitting on the right hand of power. Caiaphas knew the symbolic language Jesus used was the same language the prophets used concerning God, which was symbolic of His judgment. For instance, God's coming in the clouds revealed His judgment upon His enemies. In Isaiah 20, we see God coming in the clouds as a figure for God using the Assyrians as instruments of His wrath upon Egypt: "The LORD rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; the idols of Egypt will totter at His presence" (Isaiah 19:1). God came to Egypt in judgment in 480BC. His presence was made known in judgment. But it was the Assyrians who were literally present. Similar language is used of Nineveh's fall (Nahum 1:3, 5-6). God, Himself, did not literally destroy Nineveh. He did not literally come out of heaven riding on the clouds like some cartoon might picture it. Instead “coming on the clouds” referred to the Chaldeans and Medes capturing the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 B.C (Spielvogel, 46). In using the symbolic or apocalyptic phrase “coming on the clouds” Jesus was demonstrating His authority as both Messiah and Judge. After all, not only was He the heir of the language used by the prophets, but He supplied it to them.

The prophetic language of the Old Testament clearly shows that the Lord coming on a cloud symbolizes His coming in judgment, and this very same symbolism is carried over to the New Testament when it speaks of Christ coming on clouds. Jesus came in judgment, not literally, not physically, and not visibly. The Jews witnessed His judgment but saw Him not, but Jesus did, come in the clouds” (judged). Jesus came on the clouds using Rome to carry out His judgment upon the Jews. A similar metaphor is found in the subsequent verse: “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:31).

We know the “coming on clouds” is figurative based on the usage noted previously, but we also know it is figurative because the “coming on the clouds” precedes Matthew 24:36-51, wherein Jesus answers the second part of His disciples’ question. It is here Jesus speaks of His Second Coming. Moreover, when Jesus told His disciples that He would “come again” to bring them with Him (John 14:1-2), He mentioned “again” only one time. He did not say again and again. So, the “coming” mentioned in Matthew 24:27 -31, must be figurative. This proves that the doctrine of RE is false. Any one aspect of this multifaceted monster shown to be false, brings down the entire heretical eschatological system.

When we consider the use of the “trumpet,” we know that it was used to call the people of Israel together (Numbers 10:2) and on the Day of Atonement in the year of Jubilee in releasing slaves and debts. It should be noted here that AD 70 was a year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9). The trumpet was used to call the perishing and the outcasts to worship God together (Isaiah 27:12-13), which is same gathering the prophet mentions earlier (11:1-12). This is the idea we draw when read of the gathering from the four corners of the earth.

These "judgment comings" of God in the Old Testament consisted of God using one nation as a tool of his judgment, in order to destroy the apostate Jewish nation. In the same manner, the "coming of the Son of Man" in Matthew 24 is symbolic language for Christ’s punishment and Roman army was his tool of judgment.

ALL PROPHECY NOT “REALIZED” IN REVELATION

I believe most of us would agree that the book of Revelation would not be our primary reference book to turn to in order to teach someone how to be saved and to understand the fundamentals of the faith. It would not be the primary book to prove faith, repentance, confession, or baptism. It would not be the book to turn to learn about the one church, the one Spirit, the one hope, the one Lord, the one faith or gospel, the one baptism, or the one God and Father (Ephesians 4:4-6). For all of these, we would consult other books of the Bible. Even if we were to going to teach a class on Eschatology, Revelation would be the last book we turn to, no pun intended.

While the concept of RE has been around for a long while, many of the arguments have not. In fact, Like Deaverism (and other false and heretical systems), many of the arguments of RE have evolved and are continuing to evolve. In fact, I will be so bold as to claim that there really is no such thing as formal system of RE, because it is simply a group of men having many unsound ideas, with a constant effort of forcing their ideas into a particular text. For instance, in RE disagree among themselves over various matters, to the point of division. In fact, some today disagree with Max King who is one of the major pioneers and influences on RE. Some present day advocates of RE might even call him a false teacher. Some have gone so far as to publicly declare that those denying the necessity of baptism in denominations are saved and are their brethren, as RE evolves into universalism.

However, some of the strongest arguments for a preterist interpretation of the book of Revelation come from within the book itself. The first would be the imminent time of fulfillment statements found in the beginning and end of the book (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20). The second, is the statement found in Revelation 11:8: “And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” These were the bodies of the two witnesses which would lay in the streets of the Harlot City, Babylon, which is Jerusalem. I will address these two points later.

Of course, some preterists have evolved their view into RE, teaching that not only were ALL the prophecies of the book of Revelation made prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70, but ALL were fulfilled by AD 70. Let us see if Revelation teaches such a thing. According to RE advocates, the Kingdom of Christ was not “Realized” and/or not fulfilled until AD 70. Accordingly, King writes:

The fall of Judaism (and its far reaching consequences) is, therefore, a major subject of the Bible. The greater portion of prophecy found its fulfillment in that event, including also the types and shadows of the law. It was the coming of Christ in glory that closely followed his coming in suffering (1 Pet. 1:11), when all things written by the prophets were fulfilled (Luke 21:22: Acts 3:21). It corresponded to the perfection of the saints (1 Cor. 13:10) when they reached adulthood in Christ, receiving their adoption, redemption, and inheritance. The eternal kingdom was possessed (Heb. 12:28) and the new heaven and earth inherited (Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1, 7 (King, 239).

While some in the RE camp teach the kingdom fully came in AD 70, others teach that the kingdom “began” on Pentecost, but did not reach its fullness until it came with “power and glory” (Mark 9:1; Matthew 24:30) when Christ’s judgment and wrath was poured out upon Jerusalem. Either way, the Bible does not teach that the kingdom was either fully established in AD 70, nor does it teach a progressive establishment of the kingdom, reaching its fullness in AD 70. First, we note what John says about the kingdom in his writing: “I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the Island of Patmos for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).

While I hold to the “early date” (preterist view) of the book of Revelation, having been written prior to AD 70, RE goes much farther teaching that the kingdom, itself, did not come until AD 70. Of course, John was unaware of that, since he said he was actually in the kingdom prior to AD 70 when he penned Revelation. Note what John did not claim. He did not claim to be in a partial kingdom or incomplete kingdom, neither did he claim to be in only some sense or aspect of the kingdom of Christ, or that the Coming of Christ made the kingdom made more complete or full. On the contrary, John simply said that he was in the kingdom, and did so prior to AD 70. The first century Christians were also in the very same kingdom with John (Colossians 1:13). The apostle  Paul says, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24). Please note that coming of “the end” implies the end of all things, including prophecies. Paul is saying that at the end Jesus will deliver the kingdom to the Father. Paul does not say that the kingdom will be made more complete or “Realized”. He simply said when Christ comes again, He will return the already established kingdom. It is here we find some similarities between RE and Premillennialism, where both erroneous systems suggest Christ’s kingdom would come at a later time.

Regarding the coming kingdom, Isaiah wrote:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3).

            We can read of the fulfillment of this prophecy in Acts 2, when the kingdom had come with power (Mark 9:1) We know the church is synonymous with the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19), and that those who were added to the church (Acts 2:47) were also translated into the kingdom (Colossians.1:13; cf. 1:2, 18). In the New Testament, we know Paul equates the “house of God” with the church (1 Timothy 3:15). Moreover, the prophet Micah prophesied the establishment of Jehovah’s mountain (Micah. 4:1-3). This passage uses “kingdom language.” Old Testament prophecies typically use the phrase or idiom “mountain” to symbolize that which is a kingdom (c.f. Daniel. 2:35, 44-45; Isaiah 13:4; 41:11-16; Jeremiah 51:24-26).  Therefore, according to both Isaiah and Micah, when the “mountain” of the house of God will be established and exalted, all the nations will flow into it and the word or law of the Lord will go forth out of Zion (Jerusalem). Both of these prophecies were fulfilled before AD 70.

The very fact that the church and the kingdom may be used synonymously, as well as the fact that both are connected with the descriptions “house of God” and “mountains,” demonstrates that if there is only one church or body (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22-23), then there cannot be “churches. And, if there is only one church, then there can be only one kingdom, not kingdoms (Daniel 2:44, 7:14). Moreover, Daniel said the kingdom would be given to the Son of Man when He ascended to the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13-14). When did that occur? Jesus ascended back to the Father in heaven ten days before Pentecost (Acts 1:3, 9-11, 2:1). Again, this is some forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.

As noted previously, some within the RE persuasion teach that the kingdom “began” to be established (one part or aspect) on Pentecost, and progressively developed over the forty year period, until it reached its fullness when it came with “power and glory” in AD 70. Of course RE advocates take Mark 9:1 However, the apostle Paul refutes that silly notion. Paul says “glory” was in the church/kingdom and was to be “forever and ever” (Eph.3:20-21). Paul also says power existed in the church/kingdom before AD 70 saying, “For the kingdom of God is not word but in power” (Eph.4:20). Since there is only one kingdom, then there is absolutely no difference in meaning between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of God, especially since Paul makes no distinction between the two. The kingdom, then, whether described as the “kingdom of Christ” or the “kingdom of God,” was in existence when Paul penned the book of Ephesians and, specifically, Ephesians 5:5.

No inspired writer of the New Testament speaks of a partial kingdom. No inspired writer of the New Testament speaks of an incomplete kingdom. The kingdom is not spoken of as having any missing parts. The kingdom is not spoken of as being anything less than whole. On the contrary, the kingdom, all of it, every aspect of it, was fully and completely established on the Day of Pentecost 40 years before AD 70. Therefore, RE and its false doctrine of the kingdom, is refuted by the book of Revelation as penned by John.

            Associated with the kingdom is the reigning of its King. Whoever heard of a kingdom without a king? In his Pentecost sermon, Peter declared that God had raised Jesus from the dead, exalting Him to the right hand of the Father , making Him both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-35). Zechariah prophesied:

Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12-13).      

Christ was to build His temple, which Paul says is the church (1 Cor.3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16), which was also bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; cf. Acts 20:28).  Just as the kingdom had fully come on Pentecost, so Christ began to fully reign as King on His throne. However, if we are to believe RE, then if the kingdom did not fully come on Pentecost, then Christ was not fully ruling and reigning as King on Pentecost. If He was not fully ruling and reigning as King on Pentecost, then He did not have all authority. Who could believe it in light of these Scripture? However, RE wants us to believe that both the kingdom and the King became such in some sense on Pentecost, but the kingdom and the King were not fully the kingdom and King until AD 70. Again King writes:

The second stage of the resurrection takes place in conjunction with the Messianic reign of Christ, which we have placed in the period of time between His ascension and His parousia in the A.D. 70 consummation of the age. This means that Christ’s reign was an age-ending reign, a transition to ‘the age to come (The Cross and Parousia of Christ, 415).

Where do the words of Zechariah and Peter even hint at the progressive fullness of both the King and His kingdom from Pentecost until AD 70? That both Christ’s kingdom and Kingship would evolve in stages? Not only is the Scriptural evidence missing, the logic is as well.

Another aspect that must be considered is Christ’s Priesthood. According to Zechariah’s prophecy, when Christ began ruling as King after building His temple, He would also become “priest on His throne.” The Hebrews writer points out that Christ began serving as Priest “when He had by Himself purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3). Now the purging of sin as Priest and His ruling as King are simultaneous, but just when did His Kingship rule and His Priestly duty of purging sin begin? The Hebrews writer explains that all of this began when Christ “sat down at the right hand of Majesty on high” (1:3). His sitting down is representative of His ruling and reigning as all ruling Kings sit on the throne of authority and majesty. The writer of Hebrews was not finished. He goes on to say, “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). The inspired writer declares at the time of his writing that that Christ was serving as High Priest at that very moment and was seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty, at that very moment, which is well before AD 70. According to Max King and all Realized Eschatology, however, Christ was not King, He did not have a kingdom, and He was not High Priest, until AD 70.In claiming the end of all things occurred on AD 70, then not only does RE reject the aforementioned Scriptures, but it also rejects the fact that Christ is presently serving as our King, that His kingdom presently continues, and that He is presently serving, not only as a Priest, but as our High Priest. The pathetic view of RE is that there is no hope for anyone living after AD 70. There is no answer to the problem of sin and death, because all things have ended. Physical life just winds down. Again we note Max King:

When the temple is destroyed, the world ends. The ending of the world is the coming of Christ. The coming of Christ is the fall of Jerusalem, or the destruction of the temple, etc….ALL would come to pass before that generation passed into history, and that included the coming of Christ, as well as the passing of heaven and earth.” (The Spirit of Prophecy, 39)

In quoting Psalm 2:9, John writes: “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ as I also have received from My Father” (Rev.2:27). Again, John if John is writing Revelation prior to AD 70, then at the time of the writing, Christ received from the Father (past tense) His ruling authority, then Christ was ruling, not in part or in some measured sense, but as fully King having full rule. To buttress this point, John records the Words of Jesus, declaring: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).  

Zechariah said Christ would rule from His throne upon the completion of His temple, the church, which was established on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It was on this very day that Peter declared Christ to have been raised from the dead, and exalted by God, sitting at the right hand of the Father (2:32-35). John in His Revelation tells us, plainly, that Christ had already “sat down” with the Father. When did Jesus sit down with the Father? When He was exalted by the Father being made to sit at His right hand on His throne. When did that occur? When God raised Him up. All of this occurred forty years before AD 70, when Christ was ruling as both Priest and King, purging sin through His atoning blood. Revelation in no way proves a partial or incomplete Kingdom, Kingship, or Priesthood. Instead it clearly demonstrates that Christ was indeed ruling from His throne, just as John said, long before AD 70.

CONCLUSION – ACTS 1:11 AND REVELATION 19:19 -20:15

It is not in the scope of this presentation to discuss any particular approach to the book of Revelation, or give a defense to any one particular view. We all need to be independent thinkers, providing what best explains this wonderful book based upon reasoned evidence. However, as I said at the outset, we can understand this book. We may not understand every detail completely, but we can certainly understand what the book is about and be confident that we know it. Most importantly, we must recognize that the “sum of thy word is truth” (Psalm 119: 160), as a guiding principle, will help us in our understanding. Whatever conclusions one might reach about this book, cannot contradict what is so plainly stated in the other twenty-six books of the New Testament. Any view of Revelation, which contradicts even one passage from any other New Testament book, is the wrong view, and needs to be abandoned.

For instance, in speaking of Christ’s ascension and Second Coming, Luke writes: “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). It is a very simple and straightforward statement of fact. The apostles witnessed Christ ascend INTO HEAVEN and in like manner Christ will be witnessed when He comes again. Yet, in spite of this straightforward passage, RE advocates tell us Christ’s ascension was not seen, implying His Second Coming, could not be seen either, because their argument rests on their denial of the bodily resurrection, which implies that Christ’s resurrection was not bodily: 

While this verse [Acts 1:11] is generally cited to prove that the glorified Jesus will himself be personally visible at his second coming, it is in fact the case that the glorified Jesus cannot be seen by any man because his glorified person is veiled, hidden, and enveloped within the cloud of God’s presence…. Just as the disciples had not seen Christ going up to heaven, but rather the cloud which veiled him and his Divine Glory, so in the same manner, i.e., hidden within the cloud, he would return. It cannot be stated too strongly: the glorified Jesus himself will not be visible in his second coming for he was not visible in his ascension, but rather hidden (Otto, 257,258). 

Here we see the plain statement of Acts 1:11. Concerning Christ’s ascension, two men in white, presumably angels, specifically say, “as you saw Him go into heaven,” yet the RE advocate tells us that the Lord’s “disciples had not seen Christ going up to heaven.” It is amazing how someone could distort the straightforward language of this text. To reject such plain language demonstrates the desperate measures some will take to sustain their false doctrine. Of course, the point here is that. Just as Christ’s body was raised from the dead, so will ours. Concerning the resurrection, Paul writes: “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). Moreover, John tells us that when Christ is revealed (known by seeing), “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Whatever is true of Christ’s resurrection and His resurrection, will be true for us. As Christ’s resurrection was an individual resurrection, so will ours. This all demonstrates that the resurrection of the dead is bodily, as opposed to some invisible, corporate style symbolic resurrection put forth RE:

There is nothing in Paul’s corporate language of the ‘body’ of Christ that forces us to assume that the resurrection to come (in their day) would involve the literal process of individual corpses coming out of their graves. Instead, the expected eschatological resurrection was the translation of the children of God from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:18). The death from which we are corporately raised is from sin-death, or alienation from God (Spirit of Prophecy, 309).

 Here we see that RE teaches against, an individual, bodily resurrection, being viewed. King states, “out of the decay of Judaism arose the spiritual body of Christianity” (IBID, 200). The resurrection is defined as Israel being “spiritually raised from the grave of sin,” rather than an individual, bodily resurrection of the dead. A clear denial of the general resurrection. 

 Since the “sum of thy word is truth” (Psalm 119:160) is a divinely established exegetical principle, and since Luke provides us with the foundational principle of the individual, bodily resurrection of the dead, and of the visible Second Coming of Christ by virtue of Christ’s example (Acts 1:11), then any view of the highly symbolic book of Revelation must not contradict the plain teaching of other passages dealing with the same subject, including Acts 1:11. In other words, the more difficult passages should be interpreted in the light of the simpler and more direct statements in Scripture. This is a universal hermeneutical principle for all Bible students. Why should we abandon that principle now? Since RE teaches the Second Coming has already occurred (AD 70), as well as the alleged non-bodily resurrection, which is allegedly the spiritual resurrection of Israel, then the straightforward and factual statement of Acts 1:11 must be consulted when this subject is discussed. This is especially valid when interpreting the book of Revelation.

One of the more controversial chapters in the book of Revelation is chapter twenty, where John mentions one thousand years six times (20:3-8). Of course, “one thousand years” is referred to as a “millennium,” or in this case “The Millennium,” because those subscribing to the faulty view of premillennialism hold to the idea that Christ is going to return to the earth, establish His kingdom, and reign on earth for “one thousand years.” Of course, this topic will be discussed at length by others during this lectureship, however, one of the main reasons this doctrine is wrong is because the Bible plainly tells us that Christ will not set foot again on this earth – ever (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and when He does appear again, He is not going to establish a kingdom as is supposed, but, rather, He will deliver His already established kingdom back to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24).

While Premillennialism erroneously teaches that this one thousand years is to be taken literally, RE, teaches that it is a figurative, and rightly so. Whenever we come across the term one thousand years in Scripture it is to be taken in the figurative sense (Deut. 1:11, 7:9; Josh. 23:10; 1 Chr. 16:15; Job 9:3, 33:23; Psa. 50:10, 84:10, 90:4, 105:8; Eccl. 6:6, 7:28; Isa. 7:23, 30:17, 60:22; 2 Pet. 3:8; Rev. 20:2-7). The term is always used symbolically with reference to either “many people” or “many things.” In this case the figure stands for “many years” or simply to an indefinite amount of time. However, RE advocates also use this term to refer their alleged incomplete reign of Christ, which, again, is said to have been finally made complete at AD 70. While the one thousand years is correctly seen as figurative, it is erroneously deemed to be for some forty or so years, between the beginning of Christ’s ministry and the destruction of Jerusalem. Don K. Preston writes:  

“Our purpose is to demonstrate two things: 1.) That the millennium of Revelation 20 began with the ministry / passion / resurrection of Christ, 2.) That the millennium terminated forty years later at the resurrection and termination of the Old Covenant age in AD 70” … “The time of the end (1 Corinthians 15:24) is when Messiah finalized his triumph over his enemies, not the time when he would begin to put down his enemies. Revelation depicts that final victory, “when the thousand years are finished” (20:7). So, in Revelation, the beginning of the millennium is the beginning of Messiah’s conquering work. The millennium reign is the consolidation of Messiah’s rule. The end of the millennium is when that work was perfected” (Preston, Eschatology.org).

While Preston correctly views one thousand years as figurative, nowhere in Scripture do we find one thousand years being anything less than a very long period time, or seen as an indefinite period of time, i.e., an innumerable or immeasurable period of time. It is an absolute impossibility for the term to be arbitrarily forced into representing such a brief period of time as forty ears. The term is never used to describe anything less than an over-extended duration, and is consistently used throughout the Bible representing a vast amount of time. Herein lies another blow to Hyper-preterism.?

The approach one takes to the book of Revelation dramatically affects one’s exegetical conclusions. I believe that the book itself demands a basically preterist approach, but this does not mean that all of the prophecies in the book have been fulfilled. For instance, while partial or semi–preterists believe nearly all the prophecies in the book of Revelation have been fulfilled, there are differences of opinion where that takes place. It is safe to say that differences will be found between chapter twenty and chapter twenty-two – the end of the book. Just here, Brother Daniel Denham has proposed two significant syllogisms entitled, Revelation Falsifies Preterism:  

First Syllogism:

Major Premise: If it is the case that Revelation 21-22 prophesied of an ongoing state of things that is still in effect, then it must be the case that the prophecy in Revelation 21-22 was not completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Minor Premise: It is the case that Revelation 21-22 prophesied of an ongoing state of things that is still in effect. (Steve Baisden’s own statements to that effect!)

Conclusion: It therefore must be the case that the prophecy in Revelation 21-22 was not completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Second Syllogism:

Major Premise: If it is the case that the prophecy in Revelation 21-22 was not completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem, then it must be the case that Full Preterism teaching that all prophecy was completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 is a false doctrine.

Minor Premise: It is the case that the prophecy in Revelation 21-22 was not completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Conclusion: It therefore must be the case that Full Preterism teaching that all prophecy was completely fulfilled in A.D. 70 is a false doctrine (Denham, Facebook Notes). 

WORKS CITED

All Scripture quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise indicated.

Burge, Gary M., and Gene L. Green. The New Testament in Antiquity. Grand Rapids,

            Mich.: Zondervan, 2009.

Randall E. Otto, Coming in the Clouds: An Evangelical Case for the Invisibility of Christ

            at His Second Coming (Lanham: University Press of America, 1994).

Hanegraaff, Hank. The Apocalypse Code: Find out What the Bible Really Says about

            the End Times– and Why It Matters Today. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

King, Max R. The Spirit of Prophecy. Warren, OH: M.R. King, 1971.

King, Max R. The Cross and the Parousia of Christ: The Two Dimensions of One Age-

changing Eschaton. Warren, Ohio (4705 Parkman Rd., Warren): Parkman Road Church of Christ, 1987.

Lyons, Eric. http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=886.

Menn, Jonathan. Biblical Eschatology. Eugene, Oregon. Resource Publications. 2013

Clement: Miscellanies 7:17. http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/c/clement-of-alexandria.html

Preson, Don K.: http://www.eschatology.org/index.php?option=com_content&view =article&id=877:a-forty-year-millennium-is-that-possible&catid=40&Itemid=211

Poythress, Vern S. The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg,

            N.J.: P & R, 2000.

Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization. 7th ed. Minneapolis/St. Paul: West, 1994.

 

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The Grave of Judaism

“THE GRAVE OF JUDAISM”

When it comes to Realized Eschatology I am reminded of Pilate’s question to Jesus: “What is truth?” Whether his question was asked in sarcasm or not, Pilate was still questioning Truth and its existence. When a person questions truth it is because they either have not diligently searched for it, or while searching for it they, at the same time, suppress it. Paul speaks of this sort describing them as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Jesus says, “If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). How is it possible for Christians to arrive at such divergent and diametrically opposed views concerning Eschatology? While there are many reasons, there are two that stand out. The first is the failure to love the Truth enough to handle it correctly (2 Tim.2:15; cf. 2Thess. 2:10). Realized Eschatology is a system which forces symbolism into that which is literal, i.e., it makes that which is clearly literal, figurative. The second reason is the unwillingness to account for the significant principle that the “entirety (sum) of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160).

“REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY IS “REALIZED REDEFINOLOGY”

What Realized Eschatology amounts to is some new “Bizzarro World” where up is down and down is up, where in is out and out is in, and where a paradigm shift becomes an alternate universe of thought. The apostle Paul may have “turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) but Realized Eschatology turns the Bible upside down and inside out. For instance, when it comes to understanding death and resurrection Realized Eschatology applies an entirely different definition. One proponent writes:

Paul’s preaching on the resurrection was based squarely on nothing but the teaching of Moses and the prophets. Moses and the prophets knew nothing about a resurrection of physical bodies out of holes in the ground, yet Paul said he preached just like them, and that the Corinthians received that same teaching” (Dawson, 132).

Regarding the apostle Paul’s teaching on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Dawson writes, “[N]o one on earth interprets those Old Testament prophecies as of a resurrection of physical bodies out of holes in the ground.” (133). While continuing to reject a literal resurrection, Dawson opines:

Paul never used ‘bodies’ in this chapter. He spoke of the resurrection of one body, the Old Covenant faithful who were being transformed into the body of Christ. The question had to do with how Jewish and Gentile saints were going to be in that one body, along with Old Covenant saints who didn’t even see or obey Christ (181-182).

            The “father” of modern day Realized Eschatology writes:

Judaism was the metaphorical grave of the spiritual dead out of which this resurrection took place. The fall of Judaism was the defeat of the ‘ministration of death’ and the opening of the graves. Those who had previously heard and obeyed Christ were found worthy of eternal life in the new heaven and earth. The disobedient were raised to eternal hell or separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) (King, 220).

And again,

Thus, out of the decay of Judaism arose the spiritual body of Christianity that became fully developed or resurrected by the end-time. Hence, this is the primary meaning of Paul’s statement ‘It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body (200).

            Here we see how Realized Eschatology simply redefines every aspect related to our traditional understanding of Eschatology. From the above quotes we learn Realized Eschatology teaches that the resurrection of the dead occurs at Jesus’ Coming, and His coming was in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which was His judgment upon Israel. Therefore, the literal death of the body is redefined as a spiritual death, and the resurrection is no longer defined as the raising of the body from the grave, but is redefined as a the resurrection of Old Testament saints from the dead. The term “body” in (1 Cor. 15:35) is redefined as a corporate body that is raised, not human bodies (plural). Then, the church is the body that was raised in AD 70. Therefore, even the term “redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23) must be redefined as the “redemption of the church,” which is said to have been resurrected or raised in AD 70. After AD 70 it is claimed that there remains no bodily resurrection but at the moment of death the righteous dead go directly to heaven and the unrighteous dead go to hell.

            Therefore, according to Realized Eschatology, when Paul speaks of the “corruptible” body (1 Cor.15:50-54), it is not the dead human corpse, but the fleshly system of Judaism. Moreover, the resurrection which Paul addresses is not that of the human body, but is representative Christianity arising out of the figurative grave. Other words such as “flesh,” “fleshly,” and “world” must also be redefined as synonyms for the Judaism, while the term "spiritual" must be redefined as “Christianity.” In making that which is literal, figurative or “spiritual” dishonors the religion of Christ, especially when it is suggested that the Christianity is the merely the resurrection of dead Judaism.

The apostle Paul informs us that the purpose of the Law of Moses was to bring the Jews to Christ, serving as their “tutor" or “schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:23), which was for the purpose of human redemption. There is nothing in the entire Bible which describes redemption as the resurrection of the Law of Moses and Judaism, nor is there anything which teaches that human redemption springs forth out the death of the Law of Moses and Judaism. The Law was simply a necessary vehicle in paving the way for human redemption to be provided through a new avenue or system. This was God’s plan in eternity long before the Law of Moses and the Creation of the world (Ephesians 3:10-11; cf. Acts 2:23).

REFUTING “REALIZED REDEFINOLOGY” AND THE “GRAVE OF JUDAISM   

In this section we will address two primary passages which are fundamental to the Realized Eschatology and its erroneous concept of the “Grave of Judaism.”

(1 Corinthians 15)

As stated previously, Realized Eschatology arbitrarily turns the literal into the figurative, an approach that allegorizes and or spiritualizes literal words and events. This approach is reminiscent of one radical scholar, John Shelby Sponge, who believes God is not a person but is rather an “essence” or a feeling “deep within us” (Jackson). In much the same, Realized Eschatology arrives at tis conclusions because of its opposition to the literalism of the Bible.

Any cursory reading of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, will show that the apostle Paul is speaking about the facts undergirding the gospel, namely the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also quite evident Paul is speaking about Christ’s physical body, rather than to an alleged representation of the burying of the Jewish system and the raising of the Christian system. This is fundamental to the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. Therefore the question we must ask ourselves as we examine various parts of this chapter is: How does a literal, bodily resurrection of Christ compare in any manner to a figurative representation of the resurrection of a class of people?

Paul begins the chapter by discussing the resurrection of Christ’s body an d of the chronological events which follow, telling us of those who personally saw His resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Paul is indeed referring to a literal, human body. The apostle then proceeds to tell us that some in Corinth were guilty of denying the bodily resurrection of others, not just Christ’s resurrection (15:12). We know their denial was of a" bodily resurrection" because Paul begins by saying, "Now if Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Not only is Paul establishing his case that the general resurrection of the dead is founded upon the Christ’s own bodily resurrection. Paul’s point is that if they believed in Christ’s bodily resurrection, then how is it possible to make the claim that Christians are not raised in the same manner as He? To deny one is to deny the other

Notice what Paul says, "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen” (15:16). Paul is telling them that if they do not believe dead bodies come out of graves, then they will have to deny that Christ’s dead body came out of the grave. This is the significance of denying the bodily resurrection. It should be underscored that the word “dead” is plural, and literal means “dead ones.” It is referring to a plurality of bodies, not to a singular body representative of a concept or to a particular class. In fact, Paul goes on to us the word “those,” which suggests individuals and not a singular religious system (15:18, 20, 23, 48). How in the world could a rational person come along and demand that when Paul speaks of that which is “dead” that he is referring to Judaism (the Jewish system), and when he speaks of that which is being “raised” he is referring to the church or the Christian system? Amazingly, amazing! But such is the fanciful notion of those touting Realized Eschatology. A “spiritualized” view destroys any connection Paul is making between Christ’s literal bodily, resurrection, and to the general resurrection of the "dead ones” (plural). Paul is making an “apples to apples” comparison, i.e., he is connecting Christ’s literal, bodily resurrection with the literal resurrection of the bodies of the “dead ones.” On the other hand, Realized Eschatology takes Paul’s comparison and turns it into a “apples to oranges” comparison, i.e., the literal resurrection of Christ is compared to the figurative “body” of Christianity out of Judaism. The absurdity of such an interpretation clearly demonstrated.

The word “body is found numerous times in thirty-five verses in 1 Corinthians (5:3, 6:12-20, 7:4, 34, 9:27, 10:16-17, 11:24-29, 12:12-27, 13:3, 15:35-44). When the word “body” refers to the church (6:19-20; 10:17, 12:12-27) it is clearly self-evident. The context will clearly indicate that the word “body” is referring to the church. However, every other time the word “body” is found it is referring to the physical body, including Christ’s body as it relates to the Communion. There simply is no guess work involved in making these determinations.

Within in the chronological unfolding of the context, Paul correlates the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ’s physical body, with the resurrection of other physical bodies we call the general resurrection of the “dead ones”. Paul then makes mention of Christ being the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20). Again, Paul ties together Christ’s resurrection from the dead to the resurrection of the “dead ones.” In other words, Paul is saying that the resurrection which occurred with Christ will be the same resurrection that will occur with the Corinthians (and all of us). Again, we must note Paul’s use of the word “those” (15:20, 23). The word speaks of the plurality of individuals, not to a singular thing, concept, or to the singular Christian system. Tehn there is the meaning of “firstfruits.” Just what does that imply? We understand from the Old Testament that the meaning of “firstfruits” was always the choicest part of the crop (Numbers 18:12), and it guaranteed the rest of the crop to follow. The “firstfruits” were of the very same nature as the rest of the crop which would follow (Deuteronomy 18:4; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 0:35-37). Therefore, if Christ’s bodily resurrection was the “firstfruits,” and it was the literal resurrection of His human body, then the fruit which follows the “firstfruits” must be of the same nature, being the resurrection of the literal human body (cf. Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Jn. 3:2). This is indeed the context and the connection Paul makes with Christ’s resurrection and the general resurrection of the dead. Along the same line, one writer observers:  

The resurrection of the dead endorsed by 1 Corinthians 15 is a future, bodily resurrection of mankind, based upon the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection. If, however, the body to be raised in 1 Corinthians 15 is ‘Christianity out of Judaism,’ why must we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? If the later fruit is not the bodily resurrection of mankind, there is no reason to believe that the ‘firstfruits’ was the bodily resurrection of Jesus (Price).

Continuing through the chapter, Paul addresses the question that would naturally arise, "But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” (15:35). In other words, if my body is going to be raised from the dead, what will it look like?  In explaining what the resurrected body looks like, Paul provides the illustration involving seed. When it is sown or planted it produces something that is based upon itself. What comes forth may not be identical to what was sown, but what was sown still comes forth nonetheless (15:42-44). Again, Paul says there is a correlation between what is sown and was raised. Then he says that, in like manner, literal human bodies are sown or planted in the ground and from them will come forth something that is connected. In this passage, Paul makes significant use of the word “IT”:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (15:42-44).

What is obvious in the passage is that very same “IT” that goes down is the very same “IT” that comes back up. Whatever dies is what is resurrected. In this case, the “seed” that is sown and is dead (1 Cor. 15:36) has a definite correlation and connection with the “seed” (15:37-38). We must not press the illustration beyond its intended meaning. Quite simply, the body that died is the body that will be raised (1 Cor. 15:35-38, 42-44). That means nothing is left behind in the grave, because what was placed in the grave is the very thing that comes out of the grave but is changed, fashioned for a heavenly dwelling (15:51-52).

The corruptible flesh (IT) will have put on the incorruptible (IT), which means the body (IT) that comes froth is then changed. The natural body (IT) is changed into a spiritual body (IT), and the mortal body (IT) becomes the immortal body (IT). In other words, the “IT” that dies is the very “IT” that is raised, and the very “IT” that is raised will certainly change, taking on new look for the heavenly realm, but the “IT” comes forth just the same and is not separated from that which comes froth. Therefore, the question we must ask is: just what is it that dies and is raised (resurrected)? Is it just the human spirit that is being raised, which necessarily rejects the bodily resurrection? Is it Judaism being raised, which means Judaism had never died even though Paul said it did (Romans 7:1-6). It also means that the obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) has once again been made to have relevance, but for what? Is it the church and or Christianity? Or is the human body the thing being raised? In noting all of this, Wayne Jackson writes:

“In the burial/resurrection analogy, whatever is buried is raised; whatever dies, comes to life. If it is Judaism that dies, then it is Judaism that comes back to life. If it is Christianity that is ‘raised,’ then it was Christianity that was buried. The King theory has Judaism being buried, and the kingdom of Christ being raised.” (Jackson, 72)

Herein lies the dilemma for Realized Eschatology. If the church and Christianity is said to be that which is resurrected, then it is implied that the church and Christianity was dead prior to AD 70, which is an absolute absurdity. If it is Judaism that is resurrected, then this contradicts Realized Eschatology which teaches that there was an overlapping of the Covenants, in which the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ (existed at the same time between Pentecost and AD 70 (King, Spirit of prophecy, 239).

In closing out the chapter, Paul says, “We shall not all sleep but we all shall be changed” (15:51). He then says the “dead will be raised incorruptible” which he then equates with “and we shall be changed” (15:52). Here, the “dead” is plural, not singular. The “we” are individuals who Paul is addressing, and they are living human beings, not some representation of concept or a system. Nowhere in this chapter is there even a hint that Paul has in mind at from out of the “Grave of Judaism” will Christianity be resurrected. Paul is discussing that which is connected to the bodily resurrection of Christ, the general bodily resurrection of the dead.

(John 5:28-29)

This is one of the clearest passages in all the bible regarding the resurrection of the dead. Jesus says: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

However, as stated previously, Realized Eschatology “spiritualizes” the many passages dealing with end times in general, and the resurrection in particular. Instead of taken this passage literally, it is viewed figuratively or spiritually. Note the following:

“In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”  As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection.  The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost. 

“The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel.  Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected.  They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected.  They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”)

“Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol” (Sullivan, fullpreterism.com).

            Here we see the gross spiritualization of the passage. All the dead are seen as only those who are spiritually dead – “dead in sin.” In this passage, however, Jesus does indeed speak of death in two ways. First there are the spiritually dead where these can pass out of death into life through hearing Jesus’ words and believing them. The time for this kind of resurrection, Jesus says, is at the very moment He is speaking. "The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (5:25). Even as He spoke, those who heard and obeyed would be able to enter the new kingdom in a very short time. But it should also be noted that 5:24-25 is completely divorced from 5:28-29. When Jesus says, “he who hears My word and believes” … “has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life,” also implied is that they will be a part of the resurrection which He will discuss in verses 28-29.   

Jesus then speaks of the dead who are "in the graves." It is to this resurrection which Jesus says, "The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth …” (5:28). There is nothing within the context which demands the fulfillment of this resurrection to be at that time, because Jesus knew it was still in the future. It is from this resurrection, where the righteous saved “come forth” … “to the resurrection of life,” while those having done evil “to the resurrection of condemnation.” (5:29). It is within this resurrection that Jesus is referring to the resurrection of those “in the graves.” There is absolutely nothing in the context showing that Jesus, Himself, changes the literal understanding of the concepts of “death” and the “graves” into something figurative. In other words, Jesus nowhere spiritualizes the literal meaning of the words of this text. The resurrection Jesus speaks of in John 5:28-29 is not some figurative pronouncement of the death of Judaism and the rise of Christianity, but is rather a presentation of the literal resurrection of the dead. And of this, Jesus says it will occur at the final hour, when the dead will come forth out of the graves and stand before the judgment seat of God.

There is a resurrection wherein all the dead will come forth from out of all the graves (5:28-29). However, what proponents of Realized Eschatology willingly overlook is the significant contrast between what Jesus says in 5:24-25 with what He says in 5:28-29. Moreover, there is no accounting for the resurrection of the evil (John 5:29). Where did they go? Paul declares, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). We know that the righteous will be raised (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24) and those who have done evil will be judged on the “last day” (John 12:48).

WORKS CITED

All Scripture quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise indicated.

Dawson, Samuel G. Essays on Eschatology: An Introductory Overview to the Study of Last Things. Amarillo, Tex.: SGD Press, 2009.

Jackson, Wayne: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/735-john-shelby-spong-anglican-nightmare#fn3

Jackson, Wayne. The A.D. 70 Theory: A Review of Max King Doctrine. 2nd ed. Stockton, CA: Courier Publications, 2005.

King, Max R. The Spirit of Prophecy. Warren, OH: M.R. King, 1971.

Price, Joe: Part 3 http://www.bibleanswer.com/ad70_3.htm

Sullivan, Michael: http://fullpreterism.com/the-resurrection-from-the-graves-of-john-528-29-was-fulfilled-spiritually-in-ad-70-a-continued-challenge-to-partial-preterism/

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The Holy Spirit Has Left Israel

The Holy Spirit Has Left Israel

The rabbis of old taught that “[S]ince the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit has left Israel.”[1]

At the close of the Old Testament and the penning of the last Old Testament book, all prophecy ceased. The revelation of the Old Testament was complete. No further prophetic messages were forthcoming, because inspiration ended. The Revelatory process, whereby the Holy Spirit supernaturally revealed God’s message to the prophets, inspiring them with the exact words to speak in revealing the Will of God to His people, had ceased.

With the end of prophecy came the abrupt end of Scripture. Since the Holy Spirit stopped revealing God’s Will to the prophets, the prophets had nothing more to speak and nothing more to write. Scripture ceased because the Holy Spirit stopped working through men, guiding them to write down God’s Will. Communication between God and man ceased! Prophetic silence would last some 400 years until the next prophet, John the Baptizer would come preparing the way of the Lord (Isa.40:2-3; Matt.3:3). The Holy Spirit, indeed, left Israel.

However, at the dawning of the New Covenant and the preaching of John, who began his work in preparing the people for the coming Messiah, the Spirit once again began working in revealing God’s Will to the people. John the Baptizer was God’s new prophet to the people. As the first century progressed, other inspired men, including the apostles, would proclaim God’s Will as the prophets of old once did. The Holy Spirit, working through these men, delivered the gospel to the world. Just as the prophets of old, these inspired men were supernaturally guided by the Holy Spirit, in writing down Scripture, ensuring that the Truth of the New Testament would be preserved for mankind.

However, with the penning of the last inspired book of the New Covenant, revelation and inspiration came to end. The gospel of Jesus Christ was complete. The work of the apostles, prophets, and other inspired men, had ceased. The Old Covenant message pointed the Jews to Christ (Gal.3:19-24), living under the Old Covenant law, while the New Covenant grants access for BOTH Jew and Gentile (the world) to Christ (Matt.28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:44-49), while living under the New Covenant law.   

With the completion of the New Covenant or Gospel, communication between God and man has once again ceased. No further revelations and/or messages are forthcoming from God. God’s plan for human redemption has been fulfilled and recorded in Scripture. The design of Scripture is to lead and direct man to Christ and salvation. The resulting product of the supernatural and prophetic era, during the development of the New Covenant, are the New Covenant Scriptures themselves. While God is silent, in that He is no longer directly communicating with man through chosen, inspired men, He does continue communicating with mankind, so to speak, only through the Scriptures. God’s New Covenant message has been once for all delivered to His people (Jude 3), and within it, we have all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet.1:3). There are no further messages because there is no more revelation and inspiration. There is no more revelation and inspiration because there are no longer apostles, prophets, and other inspired men:

The Holy Spirit, Himself, tells us that the Scriptures make us complete and thoroughly equipped. They are all sufficient, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim.3:16-17), that is absolutely comprehensive in scope. The Bible meets our every need .The word of His grace strengthens us (Acts 20:32) and the Scriptures comfort us (Rom.15:4). In a good and honest heart, the word of God (i.e., the –seed, the Gospel – Luke 8:11; Rom.1:16) produces fruit (i.e., fruit of the Spirit – Luke 8:15).  The Holy Spirit, through Scripture, reveals Christ to mankind. Along with other providential actions operating in the world, it is specifically Scripture that makes us complete in procuring and maintaining salvation. It is not the Bible and something directly affecting our personal will, either in motivation or in action. It is not Scripture plus a direct supernatural infusion from the Holy Spirit (illuminations, revelations, messages, promptings, prodding, and signs from God). This false, denominational concept circumvents the Scriptures – the very source which the Holy Spirit says makes us complete.

Psalm 19 is a miniature of Psalm 119. In the first six verses God reveals Himself in nature (i.e., General Revelation), but in verses seven through fourteen God reveals Himself through Scripture (I.e., Special Revelation), and it is in this particular passage where the all-sufficiency of Scripture is underscored. The God-breathed Word is called several names and is synonymous with, the law of the Lord, the testimony of the Lord, the statutes of the Lord, the commandment of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, and the judgments, or ordinances of the Lord. From this passage, there are at least ten things the Word of God can do for the individual: 1. It is complete in converting the soul (v.7) 2. It makes the simple, wise (v.7) 3. It causes the heart to rejoice (v.8) 4. It enlightens the eyes (v.8) 5. It causes one to fear and respect (v.9) 6. It offers completeness (9) 7. It warns or protects (v.11) 8. It offers great reward (v.11) 9. It purifies the heart (v.12) 10. It restrains one from sin and apostasy (v.13).           

The Bible is the place where we can go to find joy, relief, and happiness. Jeremiah, in the midst of tremendous stress and rejection, gave great testimony to the joy that comes through the Word of God saying, "Thy words were found and I did eat them and Thy word was in me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jer.15:16). John writes, “These things are written that your joy might be full” (1 John 1:4). God gives testimony to the fact that His Word is the source and definition of joy.[2]

However, making such a bold statement in saying the “Spirit has left,” might cause some to feel uncomfortable or angry. Some might exclaim, “How can you say such a thing? Did not God promise to be with us, after all doesn’t the name of Jesus mean “God with us? And what about the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t the Bible tell us that He lives inside us?” Many other such things might be asked.

First, the Spirit has stopped providing messages to men – Divinely selected men, supernaturally empowered by the Spirit, in order to preach God’s Will and Word to the rest of the people. Such direct supernatural revelation has ceased (1 Cor.13:8-13; Eph.4:11-15). Since there is no longer inspiration and revelation, there are no longer inspired men (prophets, apostles, etc.), and since there are no longer supernaturally guided men, there are no longer on going inspired writings, or Scripture.

Second, did Deity (Holy Spirit) really abandon God’s people simply because supernatural activity, including inspiration and revelation ceased? For instance, does the phrase “the Holy Spirit left Israel” imply that God abandoned His people? No. Simply because one aspect ended does not mean all aspects ended. While God was no longer guiding them through inspired prophets (those who supernaturally spoke for God by foretelling and forth-telling, preaching) they still had His message, His Will, in the form of Scripture. Folks that is a Divine gift of God’s grace.

The end of inspiration and revelation meant the end of the Old Covenant, which meant the end of its Divine purpose, which was to point the Jews (not mankind) to Christ (Gal.3:19-24). The idea of pointing them to Christ was not just about pointing them to the Person of Christ, but to the New Covenant He would usher in with His blood (Matt.26:28). Christ’s blood was shed for more than sins, it was shed for the establishment of the New Covenant, a covenant with far better promises (Heb.8:6, 10:9-10, 19-20; cf. 9:15-22).  

The fact that the people still had Scripture to consult showed, quite clearly, God was still with them, for Scripture contained His Will, His concern, and His love for His people. Why some today doubt that is beyond me. Therefore, the Spirit had not abandoned them simply because inspiration and revelation had ceased. Moreover, when the rabbis stated that “the Holy Spirit has left Israel,” they used that metonymically. To say the Spirit left is simply to say that the source of inspiration and revelation ended. To say inspiration and revelation ended is to say the Spirit metaphorically left. I believe it is just here, that the inability, for some, to discern figurative and metaphorical language, is that which causes misconceptions, consternation, and knee jerk reactions, leading folks to unnecessary anger toward such statements. 

The same scenario applies to God’s people living under the New Covenant. The supernatural process involving the Holy Spirit ended: the Spirit no longer empowers selected men to speak on His behalf; the Holy Spirit is no longer guiding selected men in writing down that which was spoken by inspired men, creating Scripture (sacred writings); there is no Scripture being written because God’s message to mankind is complete … since there is no modern day sacred writings being created today, there is no modern day supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit in leading men to write; since there is no modern day supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no modern day inspiration and revelation; since there is no modern day inspiration and revelation, there are no modern day inspired men, including prophets and apostles; since there are no such modern day people, then there is no modern day working of the Holy Spirit in inspiration and revelation.

The Will of God for mankind has been revealed and captured in sacred writing. Scripture is complete, therefore, the Will of God for mankind is complete. The only form of the revealed Will of God we have today is found in Scripture, only! His complete Will for us today is the New Covenant, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Having access to God’s revealed Will is identical to having access to the mind of Christ, which we have today through Christ’s Word, the Scriptures (1 Cor.2:16).

Abiding in His Word means we are walking in the light (John 8:31; 1 John 1:7), which is the same as continuing in the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42); which is equal to walking in the Spirit (Rom.8:14; Gal.5:18), which is the same thing as walking in and according to the law of the Spirit (Rom.8:1-2). The Spirit does not DIRECTLY lead anyone, which is the common misnomer. Many remove the metonymical nature of the phrase “led by the Spirit”, running ahead of God, assuming that a DIRECT supernatural leading is meant. It is, therefore, supposed that to be  “led by the Spirit” means a direct, supernatural manipulation of the mind, in which the Spirit does something to the individual, moving the individually mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (perhaps even physically) to a level they could not otherwise reach or attain through their own cognitive functioning God gave them.

This, of course, is the appeal to a miraculous or supernatural working of the Spirit upon the mind or heart of the Christian (the Bible “heart” is the “mind”), something the Bible does not so teach. A miracle, is the setting aside nature, the natural. In this case is would be setting aside the natural cognitive processes – that somehow God sets aside a Christian’s natural human faculties of the mind: cognition, recognition, reasoning, thinking, and comprehending.

This doctrine places the work and the responsibility upon the Holy Spirit. He is now responsible for setting aside the natural process, affecting the human being with supernatural enhancement. That the Spirit is said to supernaturally infuse energy – directly expanding and enhancing the mind with wisdom, thoughts, words, so that the Christian can arrive at the right conclusion, think the right things, and say and do the right things. For some this also means that the Spirit is responsible for creating within them certain physical or emotional sensations that otherwise would not occur through the natural human processes. This is mind control. It is nothing more than the supernatural manipulation of the human mind and human free will. It is supernatural interference. It is not allowing the free course of human functioning, eliminating the Free Will of the Christian.

Attributing such a work to Deity, where the Bible does not, is based upon the premise that Romans 8:14 is a “direct” leading, separate and apart from the Word of God. That is a gross misapprehension of the passage through eisegesis. Note that this is a promise – an automatic blessing – because one cannot be a child of God without being “directly” led by the Spirit. If that is what is meant, the Spirit MUST lead an individual every moment, every time, no matter the circumstance or situation, in order to remain a “son of God.” There are no limitations intimated here. However, since each individual sometimes thinks the wrong things; says the wrong things; makes the wrong choices; does the wrong things, not understanding, is unsure and in doubt, then the text cannot be speaking about a “DIRECT” (Holy Spirit upon human spirit),  leading of the Spirit. Rather, the text is still speaking about the law of the Spirit of life (Rom.8:2), and it is through this law or gospel (Rom.1:16-17; 2 Cor.3) that the Spirit INDIRECTLY leads. This coincides with man’s Free Will in following the Spirit. To follow or walk in the Spirit is simply to abiding in the Christ’s Word (John 8:31). It is simply walking in the light (1 John 1:7). It is submitting to the law of the Spirit or gospel (Rom.8:2; cf Rom. 1:16-17). When one, through his own thinking, reasoning, and will (whosoever will), sets his or her own mind on spiritual things (Rom.8:5-6; Col.3:1-2), or is simply minding the things of the Spirit’s law, then one is being led by the Spirit. I would also add that the person is being led by the God the Father, God the Son, the apostles, and other inspired writers of the New Testament.  

So, the promise of the leading of the Spirit in Romans 8:14 is contingent upon the individual Christian’s thinking process and the willingness to submit. This is true since God requires and demands “faith” to be exhibited by the individual, not by the Holy Spirit!  A little later, Paul says, “but be transformed by the renewing of YOUR MIND” (Rom.12:2). The “renewing” is the “setting of one’s mind” on things above (things of the Spirit). This is a command for the individual Christian to carry out, not the Holy Spirit.  

The Bereans searched the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11). They literally "sifted, scrutinized, examined, judged, determined, distinguished, appraised, and assessed” with their own mind, their own thinking. The Holy Spirit did not come along and enhance their minds so they could discern truth and error, right and wrong. This was something they did, according to the thinking and reasoning abilities God gave them. There is not a hint or intimation that the Holy Spirit was interfering or tampering with their minds.

David said: "When I consider your law," he was saying what he does. When David says that he meditates on His Word" he is saying (actually the Spirit is saying this through David) that those are David’s own thoughts, his own contemplations, his own mind working. Passages such as a 1 John 2:27, 1 Cor.2:13-16, and John 14:26 are also shown to be taken out of context, and proven NOT to be proof-texts for some direct operation of the Spirit.

Is it possible that some have fought so hard against the phrase, “the Holy Spirit left Israel,” that they are guilty of leaving the Holy Spirit? I believe that is the case.

Miraculous means something that is undeniable; that which is absolutely identifiable, it is that which is separate and distinct from the natural, it's visible and knowable. A body of water does not divide itself and fly up in the air. Fire does not come from the sky. The dead are not raised. Body parts are not restored, and should these things occur it would not only be unnatural it would be supernatural – above and beyond the natural occurrences of life and nature. Miraculous interferes with the natural, setting aside its laws, making it supernatural. God still works today, but the age of the miraculous is over. He works through providence: something which is not distinguishable, discernable, could be denied or could not be denied at the same time. With a miracle, no one could say "perhaps" or maybe", it either was a miracle or it was not. With providence, God is working behind the scenes working with nature, working with natural order, working with the natural processes, not disturbing them, not interfering with them, not manipulating them. And this would be true with the human body and mind. If God is working directly, it would be a miracle, the setting aside of laws of nature.

As for being "sealed" with the "Spirit" that too is a misnomer – an "old wives tale." One was sealed with the Spirit with power from the Spirit. Acts 19:1-6 took place in Ephesus and serves as Divine commentary for Eph.1:13-14 with regards to "sealing." They were sealed when Paul laid his hands upon them and they received power from the Spirit. The church in Ephesus had miraculous power in people (Eph.4:8-11). They, too were "sealed" with power. A "seal" means something visible, something distinguishable, it authenticates a thing. An invisible seal does not fit the meaning of the word. To say you are "sealed" with the Spirit and then if asked how do you know? And you respond by saying "Because the bible tells me so," does not fit the definition of "seal." On the other hand, those who were truly "sealed" with the Spirit had POWER and people saw it, and people recognized it, and people could tell that they were of God, and that their message was from God … that's a seal, not what is currently being defined by some today.

It needs to be understood that when some affirm the Spirit works directly upon them in leading and guiding them, they are in effect declaring that the Scriptures are not all sufficient as the Holy Spirit declares them to be (2 Tim.3:16-17). If there were a for a direct supernatural working, in order to affect the natural processes of man, ultimately enhancing the human mind, then such an occurrence would make void human free will. If the natural cognitive processes of the human being must somehow be enhanced by the Holy Spirit (Divine Illumination) in order to understand Scripture, then that would setting aside the natural faculties of man. If accountable human beings cannot understand the Holy Spirit’s revelation in Scripture, then it cannot be said to be a revelation. If an accountable human being cannot understand the Holy Spirit’s revelation in Scripture, then what makes a person think he will be able to understand an additional revelation from the Holy Spirit? Will the individual need another direct revelation (illumination) to understand the additional revelation, which was allegedly necessary to understand the original revelation? The Holy Spirit has, indeed, left “Israel.”   

 


[1] Rodkinson, Michael Levi. New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud Original Text Edited, Corrected, Formulated, and Translated into English. 2d ed. Boston: Talmud Society, 1918. Xii.

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“Guilt by Association” – Manchester Church of Christ

“Guilt by Association” – Manchester Church of Christ

The concept of guilt by association carries a definite negative connotation. Whether rightly or wrongly, a person is judged to be guilty based upon his association with others. As a result, and for all practical purposes, a person is either found to be a victim or a “criminal” (guilty of sin). On the other hand, the person making the charges may be the one guilty of improperly judging (Matt.7:1-6), or guilty of evil suspicions/surmising’s/presumptions (1 Tim.6:4). On the other hand, the person making the charges may appropriately judging, doing so with a righteous judgment (John 7:24). Therefore, for our purposes, guilt by association may be viewed two ways:  

  1. When a person is presumed guilty for associating with a person who is guilty.
  2. When a person is guilty for associating with a person who is guilty.

 

When a person is presumed guilty for associating with a person who is guilty

Jesus was accused of being a sinner simply because He associated with sinners. The scribes and Pharisees held in Him in contempt for eating with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:16). In fact they called Him the “friend of sinners”, accusing Him of being a drunkard (Luke 7:34). Of course, Jesus was not guilty of anything, especially sin (Heb.4:15). The mission of Christ was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Jesus associated with sinners, but not for the reasons the scribes and Pharisees presumed. Jesus came to teach them, offering them the hope of salvation from sin (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus associated with sinners to help change and turn their lives around, because He had compassion on them. Contrary to the song, Just As I Am, Jesus never accepted people as they were. Rather, He demanded them to change their sinful lifestyles. Jesus had compassion for the woman caught in adultery, but He still told her to go and sin no more (John 8: 11).  

When the Pharisees saw how Jesus responded to the woman who came and washed His feet with her tears, wiping them with her hair (Luke 7:37-50) they turned to Him and said: “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). They accused Him of not being a prophet and not knowing what He was doing, simply because of His association with a sinner. They did not understand His compassion toward those lost in sin. He had compassion upon them because they were sin sick, and spiritually dead. The Pharisees did not understand that this was Christ’s motive for associating Himself with sinners. No wonder Jesus told the Pharisees: “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (Matt.21:31).

While Jesus associated with immoral and lost people, in order to get them to repent and live, He did not seek the association of those who were in error, like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. However, Jesus never ran from His religious enemies. If there was an opportunity, especially a public opportunity for debate, involving teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction, Jesus would happily engage them. Again, not for mere association, but in order to present the truth and expose error (cf.Eph.5:11).  In fact, Jesus made it clear that the His religious enemies and false teachers, were hypocrites (Matt.23) because they perverted the Word of God (Matt.15:1-9). Jesus warned His disciples of their false doctrine (Matt.16:6, 12).

Therefore, while some may be falsely charged of sinful fellowship practices, being wrongly charged with sinful fellowship practices, the association that is acceptable is that which is incidental, for the purpose of teaching. Here, Jesus is our example. However, association which involves participation, sharing, and approval of immorality or false doctrine is wrong. Spiritual Growth Workshop) which consistently brings in false teachers because doing so would show approval.  Just as we would not announce gambling trips to casinos in Las Vegas, we will not advocate any meeting or activity which would put the souls of brethren at risk.  There are many earnest efforts we can be involved in, in which we can be free from guilt by association.

When a person is guilty for associating with a person who is guilty

            Obviously, we cannot avoid all “association” with the world, which is comprised of all kinds of sinners who are outside of Christ. We are in the world, which means we share space on this globe with people who immoral, corrupt, dead in their trespasses and sins because they are outside of Christ (Eph.2:1-2). We work with them, go to school with them, and engage in relationships with them. However, we are not of the world, which means we do not participate in their sins, nor do we condone their sins. Again, we are not to be “unequally yoked” or influenced by these people. The apostle Paul tells us that we cannot avoid contact with these people, nor can we avoid association with them. The only way for us to avoid the world altogether would be leave the world ourselves, which cannot be done (1 Cor. 5:9–10). Merely being in the company of sinners and maintaining a level of association with them does not imply complicity with their sins.

However, the Bible clearly teaches that there are times when a Child of God is actually guilty for his or associations.  In fact God’s Word warns us about having fellowship with evil men and companions (friends) (Prov.1:10-19; 13:20; 1 Cor.15:33). The apostle Paul warns against forming bonds of friendship with those who are not concerned for our souls, because they are not concerned for their own. He calls this being “unequally yoked.” Paul writes:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Cor.6:14-16).

 

Paul then goes on to say:

“Therefore, Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty” (6:17-18).

 

Paul provides us a New Testament application from an Old Testament passage. Christians are not to have relationships with unbelievers that are unequal in influence. When there is such an imbalance, Paul tells us to separate from such alliances. To continue in such a relationship is, therefore, to continue in an illicit relationship.  This is what it means to be guilty by association!

Paul wrote to Timothy: “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). This comment pertains to the appointing of elders, which was accompanied by the laying on of hands. Timothy would not want to appoint someone hastily who might then need to be rebuked for sins (vv. 17-20).  Prejudice for or against someone should not enter in the decision of ordaining or appointing men to the task of overseeing the church.  To appoint someone who is not qualified (which is obvious to most) would be to share in his sins.  A preacher must remain guiltless. In appointing an unqualified person folks, while avoiding God’s righteous qualifications (characteristics) makes one guilty by association

      After listing several evil deeds in Ephesians 5:1-6, Paul cautions the church: “Therefore, do not be partakers with them” (v. 7). Paul then explains that Christians once walked in darkness but now are light in the Lord (vv. 8-10); therefore, they should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (v. 11). If Christians have association with the ungodly behavior of those in the world, how will anyone know they are Christians? We are not to participate or associate with them! To do so means we are guilty by association.

Like Jesus, the apostle John gave a warning: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).  

1. The doctrine of Christ refers to all of the teachings of the New Testament.  To imagine that this phrase refers to only one doctrine out of them all is preposterous.  Would it be all right for a man to teach that it was all right to live with his father’s wife or that one could abide in the doctrine of Christ if he taught that the resurrection was already past?  Christians must do all that Christ taught (Matt. 7:21-27; Luke 6:46). Remember, the “sum of thy word is truth” (Psa.119:160).  

2. One either abides in (subscribes fully to) the doctrine of Christ, or he does not.  Whether he departs on a moral issue such as fornication or a doctrinal issue such as premillennialism; he has still departed.

3. Brethren have the responsibility to reject rather than to receive the false teacher.  The instruction is given not even to wish the person well.

4. Bidding him God speed (encouraging him in any way) makes a Christian guilty by association.  We must be, therefore, careful whom we fellowship.

 

What about our associations with brethren within a local congregation? Paul did not expect Christians to have fellowship with impenitent brethren, even eating with them: “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (1 Cor.5:11). This discipline is necessary so that the impenitent child of God may become ashamed of his or her sin, and repent. It is also to prevent any further encouragement or endorsement of the person’s sin. Evidently, the Corinthian brethren seemed to have been endorsing such activity by their association with the fellow (vv.2-6). The Scriptural proscription of association with the sinful brother is not absolute, however. Concerning those from whom the church must withdraw its fellowship, Paul instructed the Thessalonian church: “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” … “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him that he may be ashamed, yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess.3:6, 14, 15). The prescribed treatment of the sinful person in verse 15 implies at least some communication, if not association, in order to admonish (i.e., to warn or encourage) the erring brother or sister to repent. From the foregoing material, it is clear that such association is not sinful. It will be determined by one’s intent.

What about associating with brethren outside the local congregation? May one attend a religious assembly to hear for oneself a false teacher (whether or not he is a brother), so that he can perhaps learn better the way to expose and refute

his errors? Certainly. The intent here is to gather information and learn more of his

false teaching in order to study, expose, and refute it. I attended a local Pentecostal

church simply to understand more about their worship services. My intent was not

to worship, not to share in their worship (fellowship) by endorsing or encouraging

their practices. 

May a preacher accept an invitation to preach in a Gospel meeting or lectureship in order to confront error in the congregation or in one or more of the speakers? Let us remember that, in principle, both the Lord and Paul did this very thing, as earlier noted.  (If one denies that one can do so without engaging in fellowship with error, one must oppose the participation of faithful brethren in religious debates.) Does one sin who speaks on a lectureship with one who is a false teacher or who may be a fornicator or a crook without correcting or exposing him, not knowing he was such?  Although there was “association” with those in sin and in error, in each of the aforementioned cases, there certainly was no participation in said errors or sins.

While we may associate with someone who is in error without becoming culpable with their sins (error), as noted above, the Bible still teaches the principle of guilt by association. Through one’s associations, a Christian can become guilty of sin, even if he or she is not personally teaching or practicing the errors of those whom he or she associates with. If one’s association is of an approving nature, and they are fully aware of their error and/or sin, then the Christian becomes guilty of sin – is guilty by association! To knowingly participate with one who is in error, without offering correction, is by implication an endorsement and encouragement of their sin. Such behavior simply reinforces contentment of those caught in their doctrinal errors. The Christian is guilty because, at this point, becomes a partaker with them in their errors and practices. Such a Christian is now culpable because they have become an accessory, an accomplice, and a collaborator. The Christian is aiding and abetting those who are in error and sin.

Numbers 16 records that Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led a rebellion against the Moses. In response, Moses warned those still associated with them: “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins” (16:26). Those who did not heed Moses’ warning, continuing their association with them, would be guilty of the same sins. Even if these associates had not personally cried out against Moses, it is clear that to remain amicably associated with them would have made them partakers in the guilt. We cannot be friends to error. David said: “through thy precepts I get understanding, therefore, I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa.119:104-105).

Paul wrote: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph.5:6). First, we see that each individual Christian is obligated not to be deceived. Second we see that those who deceive are those who do with “empty words,” which are words that are devoid of truth and spiritual value. Third we see that these deceiving, false teachers are worthy of God’s wrath. Earlier, in the same context, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (4:14).  These are the very “sons of disobedience” upon whom God would send His wrath. They were tricksters and “deceitful plotters” and like the serpent of old, “cunning.” False teachers truly deceive with words devoid of truth! The reason Paul is admonishing the Ephesians not to be “deceived with empty words” is found in the very next verse: “Therefore, do not be partakers with them” (5:7). The “empty words” of deceivers often influence many. When folks are not aware of their deception, they naturally accept them, extend fellowship to them, and even defend them should they be spoken against. That is a dangerous predicament. Moreover, Paul goes on to say, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them” (5:11). In extending fellowship to such false teachers, otherwise good, intentioned Christians become partakers of their guilt and the judgment against their sins. Such fellowship, without rebuke (“to expose”) results in their guilt by association on two counts: (1) Fellowship with (i.e., partaking in, sharing in, and communing with) their errors and (2) failure to rebuke the one in error. To willingly associate with false teachers, knowing of their errors but offering no rebuke or correction, is indeed what the Bible teaches as it relates to guilt by association.

 

            John declared the reality of guilt by association explicitly: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 9–11).

The phrase “he who greets him” (bidding him God speed, KJV) is from a word that means to rejoice with or wish one well. Thus the one who does so, actually encourages the false teacher who is teaching contrary to “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), and becomes culpable for his errors. This associating encourager becomes guilty of the false teacher’s sins. It’s as if he or she becomes guilty of teaching error, even if they are not personally doing so. The driver of the get-away-car is just as guilty as the one who robbed the bank at gunpoint. An association/relationship that encourages or implies endorsement of a heretic renders one complicit in the person’s heresy. If no other passage relative to this subject existed, this one is quite sufficient to make the case. The honest student of the Bible cannot escape the conclusion that one who willingly, knowingly, consciously associates with individuals, congregations, or institutions so as, whether implicitly or explicitly, to encourage, endorse, or otherwise bid them Godspeed is guilty of the error himself by said amicable association. It is deplorable to be found guilty of such association, because of the influence and impact it has on innocent people who fall into the same trap. Here the words of Jesus, Himself: “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt.15:14).

            For example, a church invites a well-known false teacher to preach for them. The church that has invited the false teacher, is guilty of extending fellowship to him, neglecting to rebuke or expose his error(s), making no attempt to restore the sinful brother (Gal.6:1-2). The church that has invited the false teacher has become guilty by association!

Despite the fact that one must, as he observes another, ask what is the reason for a questionable association, and while we do not want to be self-righteous, lacking in compassion, or guilty of jumping to conclusions, nevertheless the Scriptures do contain commandments on the subject of association that we must take as seriously as any other commandment.

Jesus, for example, taught: “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).  Below are several considerations regarding this verse’s meaning:  

1. Jesus assumes that we know the Word well enough to know when someone departs from it and is a false prophet.

2. False prophets always look good and sound good; in fact, maybe they appear more spiritually-minded than others.

3. However, their high-sounding words and feigned piety will cause people to be devoured by Satan.

4. Beware means—what?  Invite them in?  Give them speaking opportunities in which they can influence brethren and devour the flock?  Beware must mean that we cannot have association with them, just as Jesus would not (unless it would be for the purpose of debating or opposing them).

     The apostle Paul likewise said to mark those who cause divisions and offenses “contrary to the doctrine” which Christians had learned, “and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).  Following are some considerations.

1. The way we know that a person is a false teacher is that his doctrine is not the same as that taught by Jesus and the apostles.  These errors contradict plain Bible teaching.  No matter what the rationale for committing immoral acts is, for example, such acts are wrong because the Scriptures are plain as to what constitutes holiness and what constitutes sin (2 Peter 2).

2. Doctrine is important.  Too many people (some in the church) are acting today as though it does not matter what a person believes, which is an insult to both God and His Word (not to mention to our own powers of reason that He gave us).  If we are not familiar with truth (sound doctrine), we will not be able to recognize anything contrary to it.

3. Division is the result of the introduction of error into the minds of men.  Those who oppose false doctrine are not the creators of division.  The divisive person is the troubler of spiritual Israel (1 Kings 18:17-18).

  1. These men are to be avoided.  In other words, brethren ought to have no association with them at all, unless it would be to get them to repent.

The Manchester Church of Christ has once again invited a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Another deceiver of words devoid of truth.  In years past they have invited a well-documented heretic, Jeff Walling, to come and hold a youth rally for them. Since the early 1990’s, from events ranging from the now defunct Jubilee in Nashville and the Tulsa Workshop, to Lectureships at Pepperdine, ACU, and Lipscomb, and various Youth Rally’s, and certainly various publications such as Wineskins, etc., Walling has been attested to be a heretic. However, that did not stop the leadership in Manchester from inviting him. Perhaps there is a connection these false teachers have with Harding University? Perhaps some of the leadership at Manchester attended Harding themselves, so they figure any person who attended Harding must be deemed “likeable.” Note, I did not say “sound”, but “likeable.” While there are many likeable people in the world, they does not mean they are sound. What this means is that the quality of “friendship” is superior to the divine quality of fellowship. That is, God has boundaries for fellowship, as has been addressed above. Walling continues teaching that churches of Christ are nothing but another denomination among denominations; instrumental music is acceptable to God; women should be in leadership roles, especially as preachers and teachers. To summarize; anything Walling considers orthodox or traditional he speaks against – he speaks the church of our Lord, and Manchester welcomed him with open arms. Now, you do not do that, unless you maintain some agreement with him.

Then there is the Tulsa Workshop, which, sadly, has been in existence for almost 40 years. Of course, I have known of various individuals from Manchester who have attended this function over the years. It is nothing more than a cesspool of error and false teachers. It’s a venue where these deceivers can go to get affirmation for they are and what they teach. Every stripe of false teacher speaks there, including denominational preachers like the recent Francis Chan, whom the Un-Christian Chronicle called the “California Pastor.” Workshop continues to feature and fellowship well known false teachers such a Rubel Shelly and Walling. Of course, others include Rick Atchley who, along with his elders, introduced instrumental music in their worship and the serving of communion on Saturdays back in 2006. Rick publicly announced that the Holy Spirit directly spoke to him, while he was preaching, telling him to announce the “need” for the then “Richland Hills congregation to worship with mechanical instruments of music. Rick is not the only one who claims the Holy Spirit speaks to him or that the Holy Spirit directly and supernaturally influences his mind to say things (so much for free will), Terry Rush, Buddy Bell, Patrick Meade, and Marvin Phillips all do, too, and they are frequent speakers at the Tulsa (devil’s) Workshop. Then there is Edward Fudge who, among many other things, denies the existence of Hell and eternal punishment. Also part of this spectacle is Al Maxey, a liberal’s liberal! Here is a man who despises churches of Christ and everything we stand for. In his book Down But Not Out, which is basically written to denounce the teaching of Christ in Matthew 19:9 by countering with the false view that the “guilty party” (the one who committed fornication against his spouse) is free to remarry, Maxey was found to have falsified his research by dishonestly misquoting and misrepresenting the sources he cited. In fact, there are over forty pages of misquoting, misrepresentation, and butchering of various Greek grammarians. Yes, “scholarship” is well represented at this “Devil’s Workshop. Moreover, Al Maxey does not believe that baptism is for, i.e., in order to the remission of sins. Instead, he teaches what is called “available light”:

“The light available to this caveman, or some primitive living beyond the parameters of civilization, may well only be that of Nature. That then becomes his available light "coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17). This man is therefore responsible for seeking to understand that revelation to the best of his ability, and also for ordering his life according to the truths perceived therein. Those who perceive GOD in this revelation, and who seek to live as He would have them to live, have responded to that revelation of the Creator, and God will judge their hearts and actions accordingly. Those who REJECT this light from above, and choose to continue living for self, will be rejected by the One who provided them that guidance in that revelation. Thus, regardless of the brightness or dimness of the light made available, all men have a choice; they will either seek and accept, or ignore and reject …. and God will judge accordingly, dispensing either life or death based on their choice” (Maxey, Reflections, #158).

Therefore, according to Maxey, a person can be saved long before he is immersed for, i.e., in order to the remission of his sins. Of course, liberals agree with Al on this point because they, too, teach baptism is not essential for salvation, even though God says that it is necessary (cf. Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21)!  

This is all very easy to document. All one has to do is go to the Tulsa Workshop website, and witness the myriad of speakers they have had since 2008. And, should one take the time to do their research, they would find that Don McLaughlin, who spoke at Manchester last year, has been a constant participant at the Tulsa Workshop. He obviously finds nothing wrong with the speakers and their messages. He certainly has not addressed any of the error that has been taught there. Why? Simply because he endorses it, and he endorses it continuing to fellowship the people and the program. This leads us to another Manchester invitee. Mitch Wilburn is this year’s speaker for the upcoming 2014 Youth Rally. Mitch, himself, has been a constant participant at this cesspool or error. Why? Surely he knows the teaching and views of the many speakers who gather there. Brethren, this is, indeed, guilt by association

While many at Manchester are blind to the background of their speakers, the same is not true for the congregation’s leadership. In fact, I am sure some of them actually agree with the views taught in Tulsa each year. Brethren it is sinful to associate with those who willingly fellowship false teachers. 

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Some “Hard” Questions from Leviticus (4)

Devin Dean

Corner, Alabama

 

Can Clothing or a House Contract Leprosy (Lev. 13:47-59; 14:33-53)?1

 

While we might be attempted to explain this away as old myths in this age of scientific knowledge, we need to look closer at the passage. It is understood that many infectious diseases can be latently transferred through clothing or even the walls, doorknobs, etc. of a house – take the common cold and why we are encouraged to wash our hands so often during that time of the year. These passages however, clearly indicate that this disease is something the clothes and house were subject to. The laws and examinations of these items are as rigorous as that for a leprous person, and for obvious reasons.2 The only way to prevent the spread of the disease (either to other clothes and buildings, or to the occupants of those clothes and buildings) was to isolate and expunge the disease. Even today we still have some diseases that the only effective way to contain some infectious outbreaks is by destroying clothing, and even habitations in some cases, by fire.

 

In the case of the clothing, the disease might be that of microscopic insects. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown record the following:

 

…as the Hebrews were living in the desert where they had not the convenience of frequent changes and washing, the clothes they wore and the skin mats on which they lay, would be apt to breed infectious vermin, which, being settled in the stuff, would imperceptibly gnaw it and leave stains similar to those described by Moses. It is well known that the wool of sheep dying of disease, if it had not been shorn from the animal while living, and also skins, if not thoroughly prepared by scouring, are liable to the effects described in this passage.3

 

It also fits the descriptions as offered here:

 

The whole account, however, as Dr. A. Clarke observes, seems to intimate that the garment was fretted by the contagion of the real leprosy; which it is probable was occasioned by a species of animacula, or vermin, burrowing in the skin, which we know to be the cause of the itch; these, by breeding in the garments, must necessarily multiply their kind, and fret the garments, i.e., corrode a portion of the finer parts, after the manner of moths, for their nourishment.4

 

There therefore is no question that is some disease, fitting the name leprosy that can clearly inhabit and affect the clothing. It should be well and abundantly clear also that the only true way to prevent its spread was by burning. Adam Clarke offers a clear reason for God’s injunction to man on this issue:

 

There being scarcely any means of radically curing the infection. It is well known that the garments infected by the psora, or itch animal, have been known to communicate the disease even six or seven years after the first infection. This has been also experienced by the sorters of rags at some paper mills.5

 

The case of the house follows the same process. The houses of that day were more mortar and stone than the wood construction to which we are accustomed. As such, the Scriptures indicate that the owner should “…break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place” (Lev. 14:45). We can understand this need. Think of the precautions we take. We know that while dirt and rock may be inanimate, they are still organic. We again take note that the disease was said to affect the house (just as the clothing was affected) and as such it was treated much as it was for humans. If the house could not be cleaned, then it like man was cut off from the “camp” for the sake of others and its occupants. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown comment:

 

Some have supposed that the name of leprosy was analogically applied to it by the Hebrews, as we speak of cancer in trees when they exhibit corrosive effects similar to what the disease so named produces on the human body; while others have pronounced it a mural efflorescence or species of mildew on the wall apt to be produced in very damp situations, and which was followed by effects so injurious to health as well as to the stability of a house, particularly in warm countries, as to demand the attention of a legislator. Moses enjoined the priests to follow the same course and during the same period of time for ascertaining the true character of this disease as in human leprosy. If found leprous, the infected parts were to be removed. If afterwards there appeared a risk of the contagion spreading, the house was to be destroyed altogether and the materials removed to a distance.6

 

CONCLUSION

 

The benefits to us of studying these hard passages are worth the effort and time it takes to complete the study. Applying sound reasoning and proper study techniques allows us to fulfill the commands we find within the Scriptures: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We should be as the Bereans were, receiving “…the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). May we all find the time and willingness to study God’s Word more and more – we should have the attitude of the Israelites from Nehemiah:

 

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading (Neh 8:5-8).

 

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

2 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

3 Ibid.

4 R.A. Torrey, Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

5 Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

6 Jamieson, Fausset and Brown.

 

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Some “Hard” Questions from Leviticus (3)

Devin Dean

 

Corner, Alabama

 

What is the Scapegoat (Lev. 16:8)?

 

It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these (Heb. 9:23 – emphasis mine, DWD).1

 

Leviticus 16 records the instructions concerning the Day of Atonement – the yearly “covering” of sins (Lev. 16:29-30) until such time as the offering and atonement of Christ, once “…to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26). The issue in this question seems to be the use of the term Azazel (as found in the ASV). Barnes notes concerning this term, “Azazel is the pre-Mosaic name of an evil personal being placed in opposition to Yahweh.”2 Commentators have many opinions on this term as seen in the following:

 

Commentators have differed widely in their opinions about the character and purpose of this part of the ceremonial; some considering the word “Azazel,” with the Septuagint and our translators, to mean, “the scapegoat”; others, “a lofty, precipitous rock” [Bochart]; others, “a thing separated to God” [Ewald, Tholuck]; while others think it designates Satan [Gesenius, Hengstenberg].3

 

Compounding the confusion around this term is the fact that the term Azazel occurs only three times in the Scriptures – Leviticus 16:8, 10, and 26.4 It is imperative then that we use only Leviticus 16 and those passages within the Scriptures that comment to us from God on Leviticus 16 to understand the term “scapegoat.”

 

The Two Goats: A Type of Christ

 

This material is taken in a grateful manner from the book Types and Shadows, by W. Gaddys Roy. The following eight points are set forth concerning the two goats:

  1. GOAT TO BE SACRIFICED, DECIDED BY LOT THUS CONSIDERED THE CHOICE OF GOD (Lev. 16:7-10)

  2. THE BLOOD OF THE GOAT WAS SPRINKLED ON MERCY-SEAT FOR ATONEMENT OF SINS OF THE PEOPLE (Lev. 16:15, 16)

  3. NO MAN WAS TO IN TENT OF MEETING. HIGH PRIEST WENT IN WITH THE BLOOD TO MAKE ATONEMENT (Lev. 16:17)

  4. PRIEST SPRINKLED BLOOD WITH FINGER SEVEN TIMES (NUMBER SIGNIFYING COMPLETENESS) FOR CLEANSING OF ISRAEL (Lev. 16:19)

  5. OVER HEAD OF LIVE GOAT, SINS OF PEOPLE WERE CONFESSED (Lev. 16:20-22)

  6. PRIEST LAYING BOTH HANDS ON HEAD OF SCAPEGOAT AND CONFESSING SINS OF THE PEOPLE SHOWED FAITH AND CONFIDENCE (Lev. 16:20-22)

  7. THIS WAS DONE ONCE A YEAR (Lev. 16:31; Heb. 10:1-4)

  8. THE TWO GOATS WERE ISRAEL’S SUBSTITUTE5

 

The following eight points concerning Christ are offered and provided for a comparison and contrast of the type to the antitype.

 

  1. JESUS CHOICE OF GOD FOR A SACRIFICE FOR SIN (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 6:23; Acts 2:23)

  2. JESUS MADE ATONEMENT WITH HIS BLOOD (I Pet. 1:18, 19; Heb. 9:12; Rom. 5:9-11; Matt. 26:28)

  3. JESUS MADE ATONEMENT WITH HIS BLOOD BEFORE CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED (Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4)

  4. JESUS MADE COMPLETE ATONEMENT FOR US (Heb. 10:9, 10)

  5. JESUS HAS BORNE OUR SINS (Isa. 53:4-6; Matt. 27:46; II Cor. 5:21)

  6. WE MUST HAVE IMPLICIT FAITH THAT THROUGH SACRIFICE OF JESUS ALL OUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN FAITH AND OBEDIENCE (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:16-18; Heb. 5:9; Rev. 22:14)

  7. JESUS MADE ONE ETERNAL SACRIFICE FOR US (Heb. 10:10)

  8. JESUS IS THE CHRISTIAN’S SUBSTITUTE (Jn. 10:17; Rom. 6:23; Gal. 2:20)6

 

What Then is the Scapegoat?

 

The scapegoat was representative (a type), in conjunction with the slain goat, of that perfect sacrifice that only Christ (the antitype) could make in completeness. Notice how the two goats (and the high priest) correlate to Christ and His sacrifice: the high priest was to present the sacrifice to the Lord – Christ as the High Priest presented Himself; the one to be slain was offered – Christ was crucified on the cross, by His own choice (John 10:17-18); the live goat had the people’s sin confessed over its head by the high priest – the High Priest confessed (Luke 23:34) for the people; the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness – Christ was forsaken and sent to paradise apart from God (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:43).

 

Christ is still the only one capable of carrying out the needed function of both offering blood (the slain goat) and removing sin (the scapegoat) in true perfection by His resurrection and ascension into heaven to present His own blood as atonement for our sins (John 10:17-18; Heb. 9:14, 26).

 

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (Heb. 9:6-7).

 

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; (Heb. 9:9).

 

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:12-14).

 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

 

Which Day was the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29-30; 23:27-32)?

 

The clear indication from both passages is that the Day of Atonement fell on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (Lev. 16:29; 23:27). The question at hand seems to come from verse 32 of the 27th chapter of Leviticus where it states: “…in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even….” Is the Day of Atonement the ninth day or as Leviticus 16:29 and 23:27 indicate, the tenth day?

 

The answer to this confusion lies in a proper understanding of Jewish time telling. For the Jews the measurement of time was in the day and lunar month. The term “day” (Hebrew yo?m) is first found, and in fact the Jewish concept of the day falls into agreement with, in Genesis 1. In this grand chapter of creation God uses the phrase “the evening and the morning were the … day” (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). So, in the beginning of time God counted the day from sunset to sunset. The Jewish concept of the day was based on this same principle. The Jewish day started at sunset and continued until the next sunset.7

 

This leads us to the conclusion that Leviticus 23:32 indicates that the day of atonement was to begin at sunset (end) of the ninth day (the equivalent of our “midnight” – to which day does “midnight” belong?), which is the start of the tenth day, and lasted until sunset of the tenth day (the end of the tenth day and beginning of the eleventh day). As such it is evident that the Day of Atonement was the tenth day of the seventh month.

 

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

2 Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

3 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

4 M.G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

5 W. Gaddys Roy, Types and Shadows, (Deatsville, AL: W. Gaddys Roy, 1992), p. 85.

6 Ibid, p. 86.

7 International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (ISBE), Taken from e-Sword computer program.

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Some “Hard” Questions from Leviticus (2)

Devin Dean

Corner, Alabama

 

In What Sense was it Feasible, or not Feasible, to Assemble the Whole Congregation Before the Door of the Tent of Meeting (Lev. 8:4)?

 

When this question is asked we may need first to go into its validity. A question as this should have a simple answer to one of God’s children. We should look at the passage and have the attitude and action of Moses: “And the LORD spake … And gather thou all the congregation together … And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; …” (Lev. 8:1-4).1 God spoke, Moses obeyed – and so the simple answer is found. We, as Moses did, should answer that it is always feasible (and required) to do as God commands.

God has commanded Moses to bring “all the congregation” together at “the door of the tabernacle.” Now we have found the bone of contention that many skeptics have – how is it feasible to gather the entire congregation of Israel at the door of the tabernacle. Let us look at the argument they place forward.

First the population of Israel was in excess of 600,000 men of war (those men age 20 and over). This number did not include women, children, or the tribe of Levi. Statistics show this would have produced a total male population in excess of 1,000,000. Once females are added, the population would have easily reached 2,000,000.2

Second, the size of the tabernacle was not large enough. We know from the activities and commands of God that the activities of Leviticus 8 took place in the courtyard of the tabernacle (though Moses did have to enter the holy place to anoint the contents per command). The activities consisted of washing, anointing and sacrifice in order to sanctify and consecrate the priests for service unto God. Even if one were to allocate the entirety of the courtyard (some 16,200 square feet of space) it would not be enough space to accommodate the 600,000 men – much less the 2,000,000 that would make up the Israelite nation at this point.3

The door of the tabernacle (taken as the gate of the courtyard) would likewise be no better. Under the argument the congregation if fully assembled would stretch a minimum of 4 miles back, to a maximum of 20 miles back from the tabernacle.4 Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown give an effective answer to this argument and its full reading is encouraged. Some excerpts are given here to assist in defining where events are taking place:

 

These extraordinary conclusions are grounded on two false assumptions in relation both to the door of the tabernacle and to the actual scene of the inauguration service. It is assumed that the service was to be performed within the tabernacle… None but the priests and some of the Levites on certain occasions were admitted into any part of the sanctuary, while all others designated “strangers” were prohibited under penalty of death (Num. iii. 10; iv. 18, 19). It is especially observable that Aaron and his sons could not enter on the day of consecration without washing their feet (Exod. xi. 30-32);… It is said (ch. ix. 5) that they stood “before the Lord,” … is evidently to be taken in the widest sense, as denoting not the sanctuary merely, but also the court belonging to it – as in Exod. xxxi. 7-9 the altar of burnt offering and the laver, neither of which were stationed in the sanctuary, are included amongst the contents of the tabernacle.5

 

As we see the action taking place within the courtyard, then the most likely place for the observers (the congregation) would have been the gate of the courtyard. This is acceptable within the language of the Scriptures, as the tabernacle was not just the sanctuary (containing the holy Place and most holy place), but rather the entire structure – courtyard and its implements as well as the sanctuary and its implements. This lends itself to agreement with the thought of many commentators that the congregation was gathered representatively in the elders.6, 7, 8, 9

Constable provides some additional notes on the meaning of “congregation” within his commentary:

 

The meaning of “congregation” is somewhat obscure. Sometimes the whole nation seems to be in view (e.g., Exod. 12:3, 6; 17:1; Num. 20:1-2). If this is the meaning in verses 13-21, as seems to be the case, the “congregation” is synonymous with the “assembly.” However in other passages “congregation” seems to describe a representative group within the nation (e.g., Exod. 16:1-2, 9; Num. 8:20; 15:33-36; 27:2: 35:12, 24-25). The context helps determine the meaning.10

 

Evidently a representative group of the Israelite congregation, likely the elders, responded to Moses’ summons to witness Aaron’s ordination in the tabernacle courtyard.11

 

The natural conclusion is that it would not have been feasible for the entire nation of Israel, some two million in number, to attend the event directly. In fact even today, without it being a long parade or use of mass communication, we still do not have a facility large enough to have such a large group gather in one place. However, it is feasible and acceptable within the Scriptures and practice to have a representative population, as in Exodus 24, come before the Lord as the nation.

 

Conclusion

 

The benefits to us of studying these hard passages are worth the effort and time it takes to complete the study. Applying sound reasoning and proper study techniques allows us to fulfill the commands we find within the Scriptures: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We should be as the Bereans were, receiving “…the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). May we all find the time and willingness to study God’s Word.

_______________

1 All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

2 Keil and Delitzsch, Kiel and Delitzsch Commentaryon the Old Testament, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

3 Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Keil and Delitzsch, Kiel and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

7 J. F. Walvoord, R. B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary an Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985). 1:186.

8 W. W. Wiersbe, Be Holy (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1994). Le 8:1.

9 M. Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991). Le 8:1.

10 Thomas Constable, Notes on Leviticus: 2003 Edition (Sonic Light Publisher, 2003), p. 17.

11 Ibid, p. 27.

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Some “Hard” Questions from Leviticus (1)

Devin Dean

Corner, Alabama

 

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Pet. 3:15-16)i

 

God makes clear to us that we can expect to find things that are hard to understand within the Scriptures. Beyond the fact that there will be things that are hard to understand we must realize that man continues to compound the confusion with his own precepts. The following list of ten items is a partial list of issues man makes to compound the difficult passages of the Bible:

 

  1. Presuming the Bible guilty until proven innocent.

  2. Failing to understand the context of a passage.

  3. Assuming the unexplained is not explainable.

  4. Denying that the Bible uses non-technical, everyday language.

  5. Neglecting to note that the Bible uses different literary devices.

  6. Confusing our fallible interpretations/translations with God’s infallible revelation.

  7. Confusing general statements with universal statements.

  8. Forgetting that later revelation supersedes previous revelation.

  9. Forgetting that only the original text, not every copy of Scripture, is without error.

  10. Assuming that divergent accounts are false accounts.

 

The book of Leviticus was addressed to God’s people, all of Israel, for the purpose of instructing them in how to come into fellowship and maintain that fellowship with God. The central theme of Leviticus can be summed up by, “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev. 20:26). As we look at these questions we should concentrate on the answers as making us more holy and acceptable to God, which is the purpose of this great book for all time.

Here are two questions with which many will charge the Bible with scientific error. The purpose of the charge is to find the Bible errant (when it claims inerrancy) and ineffective as a guide for man. There are many who will do this and will not accept any plausible explanations. It must be remembered that the Bible is not a scientific text book (though it is scientifically accurate), but a revelation from God to lead man to salvation. In the Old Testament (and even within the New Testament – see Acts 15:20) those things that man consumed as food were linked to salvation.

 

Is the Bat a Bird or Mammal (Lev. 11:19)?

While in today’s terms the bat is classified a mammal, we must in addition to allowing the use of the descriptive language, also remember that the system we use for classification did not come into widespread use until the publication of Systema Naturae by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758. We should then look back in the context and meaning of the original language to understand its usage in this passage. If we look at the most obvious “grouping” question, “does the bat fly?,” we see that it is rhetorical in nature. In the broadest sense there is no issue with classifying the bat with birds as it is a winged creature that does fly. It is not uncommon nor untenable for us to accept this supposed contradiction as a practical, rather than the scientific, grouping in order to identify to the Israelites that it was unclean.

 

Does the Rabbit Chew the Cud (Lev. 11:5-6)?

As with the previous question, God is describing that which is unclean by its appearance rather than the true scientific methods. God brings forth animals now that under the modern taxonomy are not ruminants (cud-chewers) – the “coney” and “hare.” We should not look at the modern usage of these terms as they, and the term “rabbit” are used interchangeably. Barnes gives us a good description of the coney:

 

The coney – The Old English name for a rabbit. The animal meant is the Hyrax Syriacus. It bears some resemblance to the guinea-pig or the marmot, and in its general appearance and habits Pro. 30:26; Psa. 104:18, it might easily be taken for a rodent. But Cuvier discovered that it is, in its anatomy, a true pachyderm, allied to the rhinoceros and the tapir, inferior to them as it is in size.ii

 

The hare found in verse 6 is actually a rabbit.

Neither the coney nor the hare are ruminants (cud-chewers), which is where those that are determined to find error in the Scriptures find their fill. The key again is in the appearance these animals have. It must again be pointed out that the modern taxonomies did not come to use until 1758 – as such, to which taxonomy would Moses have referred under inspiration? While it would have been easy for God to have given Moses our modern scientific classification, even in English to save translation, God was not concerned with the modern needs, but rather the immediate need to describe to His chosen people the identifying characteristics of clean and unclean animals. How is it then that God classified these animals through Moses? It was natural and easily understood to classify the animals by appearance. We do the same with whale and dolphin by calling them “fish” because they swim. The animals in question here have the habit “of moving its jaws when it is at rest as if it were masticating.”iii

The appearance of this chewing motion, to the ordinary observer speaking simply and understandably, would lead us to assume they were chewers of the cud as sure as the cow. Arndt makes a good closing observation on these passages:

 

We must remember that Moses is here giving to the children of Israel some practical rules which are to guide them in their choice of food. For that reason their own terms and their own descriptions are employed in designating clean and unclean animals. When all this is considered, the difficulty which people have found in these verses must vanish.iv

 

Conclusion

 

The benefits to us of studying these hard passages are worth the effort and time it takes to complete the study. Applying sound reasoning and proper study techniques allows us to fulfill the commands we find within the Scriptures: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We should be as the Bereans were, receiving “…the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). May we all find the time and willingness to study God’s Word.

i All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

ii Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Taken from e-Sword computer program.

iii Ibid.

iv W. Arndt, Bible Difficulties (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, rep. 1962), p. 120.

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