Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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July 27, 2016
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July 27, 2016
Deliverance In Mount Zion And Jerusalem, Jesus Brought The Deliverance, A Called Remnant, Jesus' Warning To Flee From Jerusalem, The Great And The Terrible Day Of The Lord, Paul Peter And Other Apostles Believed That The Day Was At Hand, Paul's Epistles Were Directed To First Century Christians And Not To Us, The Time Is At Hand, The Kingdom Of God Is At Hand, Misinterpretation Of The Phrase "This Generation", The Arrogance Of Some Modern Christians, Sketchy First Century Historical Record In Israel, Jewish Suppression Of The Truth, Christ's Return: The World's Best-Kept Secret?, A Mysterious Dearth Of Christian Writings, Perversion Of Other Phrases
Another key point regarding Joel's prophecy concerns when these celestial signs were going to occur. What events would precede them? Joel informs us that there would be deliverance in Mount Zion and Jerusalem. As it turns out, deliverance did in fact come from Mount Zion and Jerusalem; not only because Jesus preached in the very Temple itself, but also because it was there where He was crucified. In addition, it was also from Jerusalem that the Apostles began to spread the Gospel message. Regarding this Divine Mission of Deliverance, Jesus spoke of it in the Gospel of Luke when He first began His public Ministry. This occurred in the synagogue of Nazareth when He quoted the following from the Prophet Isaiah:
"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Luke 4:16-19, KJV
There is another possible way in which we can understand part of Joel's prophecy. Please notice that he speaks of a remnant which will be called and delivered. This remnant may be a reference to those Jews who in obedience to Jesus' own warning, escaped to the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, prior to that city's destruction by General Titus and the Roman legions in 70 AD. As Jesus had said:
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Matthew 24:15-22, KJV
"But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days."
Mark 13:14-20, KJV
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
Luke 21:20-24, KJV
I will be discussing some of the aforementioned events in more detail later on in this series, as well as in a future series regarding the Abomination of Desolation. But for now, suffice it to say that these great celestial events were to be preceded by the city of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and ultimately being destroyed, along with Herod's Temple. What follows the destruction of Jerusalem and these celestial signs is made plain in Joel's prophecy. He refers to it as "the great and the terrible day of the LORD." As we discussed earlier, it was in fact that day which was greatly anticipated by the Apostles and other Disciples of the First Century. It makes absolutely no sense that they would even entertain such anticipation and expectation, if Jesus had told them that He wasn't going to return for another two thousand years, as modern Futurists believe.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Apostle Paul was one person who was fully convinced that Jesus would return during his lifetime. Consider a few of the things which he wrote in his many Epistles where he states that "the Lord is at hand" and "the day is at hand":
"The night is far spent, THE DAY IS AT HAND: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light."
Romans 13:12, KJV
"Let your moderation be known unto all men. THE LORD IS AT HAND."
Philippians 4:5, KJV
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, KJV
Please carefully notice how Paul uses the pronoun "we". Not only is he including himself, but contrary to how these same verses have been erroneously interpreted in our modern day -- including by yours truly during the years of my personal deception -- he is talking directly to his readers of the First Century. That is who the "we" is, and most certainly not us modern Believers. It is also very striking that Paul very specifically writes "by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord". In other words, just as we saw in part two of this series, Paul fully understood that some First Century Christians would still be alive on the day that Jesus returned to the Earth. Why does Paul know this to be true? Because it was the word of the Lord. It was the same words that Jesus had shared with His followers in the Gospels.
Was Paul deceived? Obviously not, because he clearly informs us that he was directly taught by Christ Himself, as we see by the following verses. Furthermore, at some point, the other Apostles who had actually lived with Jesus during those three years, must have confirmed to Paul what he already knew to be true concerning Jesus' Return:
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
Galatians 1:11-17, KJV
As we saw earlier, the Apostle Peter likewise believed that the day of Christ's Return was close at hand. Aside from his speech in the Book of Acts, this fact is also made plainly evident by verses such as the following one, where he writes that the time is at hand, just like the Apostle Paul:
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
1 Peter 4:7, KJV
Why did Peter, Paul and the other Apostles believe this? Quite simply, because aside from the fact that Jesus told them so, this is the very same public message that John the Baptist and Jesus preached as well, as we see by the following verses. Furthermore, we see the very same thing being stated in the Book of Revelation:
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND."
Revelation 1:3, KJV
"And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: FOR THE TIME IS AT HAND."
Revelation 22:10, KJV
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND."
Matthew 3:1-2, KJV
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND."
Matthew 4:17, KJV
"And as ye go, preach, saying, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND."
Matthew 10:7, KJV
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, THE TIME IS FULFILLED, and THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Mark 1:14-15, KJV
"And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NIGH AT HAND. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."
Luke 21:29-32, KJV
In my view, it simply does not make any sense whatsoever to say and write such things regarding the imminence of Jesus Christ's Return, and the coming Kingdom of God, if these events were not going to happen for another two thousand years until our current time, as Futurists believe. After all, if this were the case, such events would have little effect on Christian Believers of the First Century. So why even tell them such things? What good purpose would it serve? In fact, it would probably discourage them and give them false hope if Jesus truly wasn't going to return for another two thousand years.
At this point in our discussion, I am going to expose one of the biggest false doctrines which has been intentionally -- or in some cases, ignorantly -- promoted by modern Futurists. It concerns the phrase "this generation", as we see in the previous verses from the Gospel of Luke. The interpretation of this phrase by many modern Bible teachers and preachers is a very clear example of how the meanings of some verses have been terribly twisted and perverted, in order to find support for a particular doctrine. Following is a group of verses -- all of which are found in the Gospels -- where the phrase "this generation" is used. As you read them one by one, I am hopeful that you will realize that in every case, the phrase is referring to Jesus' actual listeners, and to the people who were alive during the First Century:
"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children."
Matthew 11:16-19, KJV
"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here."
Matthew 12:38-42, KJV
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Matthew 23:33-39, KJV
"And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation."
Mark 8:11-12, KJV
"And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."
Luke 7:31-35, KJV
"And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here . . . Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation."
Luke 11:29-32, 47-51, KJV
"For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
Luke 17:24-25, KJV
There should be no doubt that all of the previous verses are referring to a generation of people who lived two thousand years ago. Isn't it rather plain to see once we read all of the verses together as a group, that the phrase refers to people who were actually listening to the Lord speak, and to that generation of people as a whole?
Now here comes the clincher. Are you ready for it? If in all of the previous verses we understand that the phrase "this generation" is referring to the generation which was alive at the time that Jesus walked the Earth in the flesh, why do some Christians -- meaning the Futurists -- suddenly change course, violate the continuity of the Holy Scriptures, and totally change the meaning of "this generation" by claiming that this very same phrase now means a far future generation -- meaning our generation -- in the following set of verses? It is like properly identifying twenty red cars as being red, but then when car number twenty-one comes along, we claim that it is blue, even though it is also really red:
"And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? . . . Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
Matthew 24:1-3, 32-34, KJV
"And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? . . . Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done."
Mark 13:1-4, 28-30, KJV
"And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? . . . For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled . . . And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled."
Luke 21:5-7, 22, 29-32, KJV
Please note that the Disciples specifically asked Jesus when the Temple would be destroyed, when He would return, and when the end of the "world" would occur. Jesus proceeded to respond by describing all of the many signs with which many of you will already be familiar. He then concluded with the very famous sentence "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." And as I said, that is where modern deception enters the picture. Many Christians cannot accept what that sentence really means, so they have allowed themselves to be deceived by individuals who promote the Futurist point of view. Or perhaps it isn't that they are necessarily unable to accept the truth regarding that verse, but rather that they were never given an opportunity to hear the truth concerning it. Maybe like myself, they did not have a strong foundation in the Word of God, and so they naively accepted whatever interpretation was offered to them.
Believe me; I fully understand how the thinking goes when it comes to the misguided interpretation of that verse, because I was deceived by it for over four decades. The reasoning simply goes something like the following: "The phrase 'this generation' must be referring to our current generation, or to some future generation, because some of those things that Jesus predicted have not happened yet. The world hasn't come to an end, and Jesus most certainly has not returned to the Earth in the clouds of heaven yet."
My dear friends, that is exactly how I thought as well. I was convinced that there was no way that Jesus could have already returned to the Earth and set up His Kingdom, as He had promised to His Apostles and Disciples. But you see, by taking that position, not only was I suddenly changing the meaning of the phrase "this generation" as it is used in all of the other verses, but I was directly contradicting what Jesus himself had stated regarding His Return. To add to that, I was also contradicting the attitude of anticipation and expectation which was expressed by the New Testament writers, and their belief that Jesus would return at some point during their lifetimes. Although not intentionally, I was indirectly saying that I was right, and they were all wrong. Can you see it? If you embrace the Futurist point of view, is it possible that you are doing the very same thing?
I came to recognize that many modern Christians suffer from arrogance; particularly when it comes to the previous verses where the phrase "this generation" is used. We seem to have this attitude that if we are not aware of something, or if we did not personally witness something, then it must not have happened yet. This attitude leads us to the erroneous conclusion that "this generation" must be referring to our generation, because as far as we know, none of those major events that Jesus describes in Matthew 24 and elsewhere have occurred yet.
But let me ask you something. How do we know with absolute certainty that this is truly the case? As I noted earlier, the historical record for the latter half of the First Century AD in Israel is rather sketchy. Some very important works concerning the specific happenings of that era were lost many centuries ago. In fact, there are even some doubts regarding the accuracy of the ancient texts which we still do have. One case in point is Flavius Josephus. While he has been lauded as a great Jewish historian by some people, at the same time, others view him as questionable, due to the fact that similar to the Herods, he lived in luxury in Rome, following the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple Mount in 70 AD. So is it possible that his writings were purposely slanted to favor the Romans? Furthermore, as a non-believer, could he have possibly chosen to conceal certain facts and events regarding Christ and the First Century Church?
There is likewise the issue I discussed earlier concerning how the unbelieving Jews did everything within their power to destroy any evidence regarding Jesus' existence. So let me ask you another very surprising question. If Jesus told His followers that He would return during their lifetimes, and if the First Century Apostles expected that very thing to happen, is it possible that it really did happen, and that we Christians today are simply not aware of it because all of the evidence has been thoroughly destroyed, buried or locked away somewhere in someone's hidden vault? I have even often wondered if the Vatican Library might contain such earth-shaking evidence. However, this idea is merely my personal speculation at best. I have no grounds to prove it.
At any rate, is Jesus' Return during the latter half of the First Century possibly the best-kept secret the world has ever known, or should I say, not known? Seriously, if the unbelieving Jews tried to discredit Jesus' Resurrection from the dead, doesn't it at least seem possible that they would also attempt to conceal the fact that He returned during that same century, exactly as He said He would do?
Obviously, I really don't know what happened so long ago. I wasn't there, and there is no public historical record of said events. Thus, all I can do is share with you what Jesus said and taught concerning His Return, as well as what His followers said, wrote and expected during the First Century. Thus far, all of the Scriptural evidence points to the fact that Jesus was supposed to return during the First Century, and not two thousand years later in our modern times. So how do we reconcile what the Scriptures actually state, with what Futurist Christians believe today regarding Christ's Return?
There is another issue which may be directly related to this topic. For many years now, I have been mystified by the fact that following the creation of the Gospels, the Epistles and the Book of Revelation -- which I personally believe were all written well before the closing of the First Century -- there appears to be a period of silence, during which time very few, if any, Christian writings were authored. Then, at least a century or more later, we suddenly have the writings of the so-called "church fathers", who were the progenitors of what would eventually become the Roman Catholic Church, which in my view, is a false church.
Some individuals have embraced the view that this period of silence resulted from the fact that the Christian Church was being heavily persecuted by both the Romans and the Jews. However, in light of everything we have been discussing in this series, allow me to offer a more amazing possibility. What if, in accordance with what Jesus and the Apostles all taught and expected, Jesus returned and raptured the Church about three quarters of the way through the First Century; that is, around 70 to 73 AD? If that's what really happened, it would certainly explain the dearth of Christian writings after said event, wouldn't it?
Now, before you outright reject this possibility, or accuse me of being crazy, a heretic, or a misguided false prophet, let us move on to our next piece of Scriptural evidence. As we have already discussed, in order to try to give validity to their misguided views, some Futurists have taken the original meaning of the phrase "this generation" as it is used in the Gospels, and given it a more modern meaning, so that it now supposedly applies to our current generation. But what if there are other words and phrases in the New Testament, the meanings of which have likewise been changed and corrupted, so that they can be used to support a future Return of Jesus Christ? This is something we will examine as we continue our discussion in the next part of this series. I trust that you will join me.
Please go to part four for the continuation of this series.
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