Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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July 27, 2016
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July 27, 2016
Perversion Of The Word "Shortly", Corruption Of The Phrase "I Come Quickly", God Does Not Lie, God Is Consistent And Organized And Not The Author Of Confusion, Revelation And Gospel Warnings Were Addressed To First Century Christians, Visions And Prophecies Were Sealed Since The Time Of Daniel, Prophecies Were Opened During First Century, The Time Was At Hand, Daniel's Seventy Weeks Prophecy, Artaxerxes's Command, 70 AD General Titus And Romans Destroy Jerusalem And Temple, Christ's Return During The Late First Century, The Disciples' Three-Part Question, Why Modern Futurists Believe As They Do
As I concluded in part three, "this generation" is not the only phrase which has been corrupted by modern Futurists who wish to convince us that the Second Coming of Christ is a future or near-future event. The word "shortly" has likewise fallen victim to these schemers. We all know exactly what this word means when it concerns time. It means in a short time, whether it is a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, or perhaps a few months at best. It certainly does not mean years from now, or many centuries from now. It means in the near future. This proper meaning is exactly how the word "shortly" is used in the following Bible verses:
"But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither."
Acts 25:5, KJV
"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
Romans 16:20, KJV
"But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power."
1 Corinthians 4:19, KJV
"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state . . . But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."
Philippians 2:19, 24, KJV
"These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:"
1 Timothy 3:14, KJV
"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:"
2 Timothy 4:9, KJV
"Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you."
Hebrews 13:23, KJV
"Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me."
2 Peter 1:14, KJV
"But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."
3 John 1:14, KJV
So do you agree that in the previous verses, "shortly" is referring to a very short period of time; that is, in the foreseeable future? Great! So let's continue.
Sadly, the Futurists can't possibly accept the conventional meaning of the word "shortly" in the following two verses. After all, to do so would blow huge holes in their Futurist views regarding Christ's Return. Thus, despite the fact that in all of the previous verses we understand "shortly" to mean a short period of time, the Futurists suddenly change course, again violate the continuity of the Scriptures, and totally change the meaning of the word and take it out of context by now claiming that this same word refers to a span of several thousand years into the future in the following verses:
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"
Revelation 1:1, KJV
"And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY BE DONE."
Revelation 22:6, KJV
So exactly how do Futurists justify changing the meaning of the word "shortly" in the previous two verses? Well, the way I have heard it explained is that whereas in most verses the word "shortly" is used from an earthly, human perspective, in these two verses, it is supposedly used from a heavenly, divine perspective. In other words, because God, Jesus and other Heavenly Beings live in the Spiritual Realm outside of physical time, "shortly" can mean something very different. In this case, the Futurists would have us believe that it means two thousand years in the future.
Personally, I believe this reasoning is a load of nonsense, and I obviously do not agree with their interpretation. In my view, it is seriously flawed, and I will now explain why I feel this way.
When the previous two verses say "servants", I am convinced that they are referring to the Lord's servants who were alive during the First Century, and not to His servants who are living in the Twenty-First Century. The message of the Book of Revelation was addressed to First Century Christians to give them hope, and to inspire them to carry on, despite the odds, and despite the waves of persecution against them. In so many words, Jesus is telling them "Hang in there. I am coming soon. So don't let anyone steal your Crown of Life."
We see this very same kind of twisted perversion occurring with the term "I come quickly" as well. There is no way that we can possibly interpret the phrase to refer to events that will supposedly happen during the Twenty-First Century; yet that would seem to be what the Futurists believe, being as in their view, Jesus has not returned to the Earth yet. The Lord's Angel very clearly told John that the First Century Church of Philadelphia -- and obviously, the other First Century Churches in Asia Minor as well -- would witness the Return of Jesus Christ, because He was coming quickly, as we see by the following verse:
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
Revelation 3:11, KJV
Let's be honest here. Does it make any sense whatsoever that the Lord would tell the Seven Churches in Asia Minor that He was coming quickly, if He really wasn't intending to return for another two thousand years? Wouldn't it in fact be a bald-faced lie? But we know that God is not a liar, and the Lord Jesus is not a liar, so who does that leave? Only the misguided Futurists who twist the meaning of certain verses in order to support their wayward doctrines. Consider the following verses:
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"
Numbers 23:19, KJV
"God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."
Romans 3:4, KJV
"In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
Titus 1:2, KJV
If the verses that are found in Revelation chapter one -- where we are told that these things must shortly come to pass -- and Revelation chapter three -- where we are told that Jesus is coming quickly -- are referring to Jesus returning to the Earth during the First Century, then in order to be consistent, we are forced to conclude that the following verses that are also found in Revelation chapter twenty-two, must likewise be referring to Jesus returning during the First Century, and not during the Twenty-First Century:
"Behold, I COME QUICKLY: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book . . . And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I COME QUICKLY; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be . . . He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I COME QUICKLY. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Revelation 22:7, 10-12, 20, KJV
Please notice how John concludes those verses. He says "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Now, would John really write that if he thought that Jesus wasn't going to return for another two millennia? So once again we see an attitude of anticipation and expectation. John knew that Jesus would return during his lifetime, exactly as we saw in the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of John.
To reiterate the primary lesson which should be learned from these various Scriptural examples, we cannot say that a word or phrase means one thing in a certain group of verses, and then turn around and claim that it means something entirely different in another set of verses. To do so would cause major confusion for the reader, and I am convinced that God is not the author of confusion. He is in fact consistent and very organized in all of His thoughts. Furthermore, it is His desire that we understand His Word. That being the case, we must assume that "this generation" means exactly what it says; "shortly" means exactly what it says; and "I come quickly" means exactly what it says. I hope you agree.
As I said a minute ago, I am convinced that Jesus' warnings in the Gospels, as well as the warnings which are found in the Book of Revelation, were messages directed to the First Century Church. I find no evidence to suggest that they were messages addressed to Christians who are living two thousand years later today. It will no doubt interest you to know that this extremely vital information for First Century Christians had purposely been sealed up for hundreds of years since the time of the Prophet Daniel. In other words, their meaning was not understood. Why? Quite simply, because the time for the fulfillment of these prophecies and visions was not yet at hand during the time of the Prophet Daniel. This truth is made evident by the following verses:
"But thou, O Daniel, SHUT UP THE WORDS, AND SEAL THE BOOK, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
Daniel 12:4, KJV
"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
Isn't that amazing? In my opinion, that is clear proof that all of those warning messages, prophecies and visions were specifically designed for our Christian brethren who lived during the late First Century. It is clear to me that the purpose of that information was to prepare them for the Return of Jesus Christ during their lifetimes, and I have strong reason to believe that that is exactly what happened. The Scriptural proof can be found in this current series.
Thus far in this series, we have examined several examples where the meanings of certain words and phrases have been intentionally altered and taken out of context, in order to support the Futurist theological perspective. This amounts to forced interpretation of the Scriptures in order to promote a particular doctrine, even though that doctrine has no sound basis in the Scriptures. Sadly, the previous examples are not the only places where the meanings of some words have been twisted in order to promote the Futurist point of view.
As we saw a moment ago, many of the warnings, prophecies and visions from the Old Testament into the New Testament were like great highway signs which were pointing to a specific time, and to specific events, which would culminate in the Return of Jesus Christ during the late First Century. If my understanding is correct, the specific year may have been 70 AD -- when Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were destroyed -- or very close to it, as late as 73 AD. But why then, and not some other time? Why not today two thousand years later as the Futurists are inclined to believe?
Once again, a clear answer can be found by undertaking a deeper examination of the Scriptures. You see, it seems that the years 70 to 73 AD may have marked the end of a Prophetic Age. This particular Prophetic Age was clearly outlined by the amazing prophecies of Daniel, and was initiated when the "Seventy Weeks" prophecy was first activated. I am of course referring to the following prophecy:
"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
Daniel 9:24-27, KJV
As I explain in a few of my other articles, in the previous verses, the word "week" is derived from the Hebrew "shabuwa", or "shabua", which actually means "seven". In other words, in Hebrew, the verse actually means "seventy sevens", or a total of four hundred and ninety. But four hundred and ninety what? As it turns out, these "seventy weeks" are actually referring to seventy seven-year periods -- or a total of four hundred and ninety years -- and not to seventy seven-day periods.
In the course of studying the Scriptures over the years, I discovered that the symbolism of a day-for-a-year is used in various places in the Scriptures, such as in the following example where the Lord tells the Children of Israel that, just as the spies spent forty days spying on the land of Canaan, they will wander for forty years in the wilderness because of their constant complaining and murmuring against the Lord:
"After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise."
Numbers 14:34, KJV
Another clear example of the day-for-a-year symbolism can be found in the writings of the Prophet Ezekiel where we read the following:
"And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year."
Ezekiel 4:6, KJV
So what the Prophet Daniel is describing is a Prophetic Age which lasted for exactly four hundred and ninety years, and which was terminated somewhere between 70 and 73 AD, when Christ returned to establish His Kingdom. What signaled the beginning of that Prophetic Age? As you can see from the previous group of verses, Daniel plainly tells us when he writes the following:
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."
Daniel 9:25, KJV
As I point out in my series entitled "The Seven Heads", this commandment was ordered by King Artaxerxes, who is mentioned in the Book of Ezra. According to historical records, this particular Artaxerxes was probably Artaxerxes Longimanus, who was the son and successor of Xerxes I. This would make him the grandson of Darius. He ruled over the Medo-Persian Empire from about 465 B.C. to about 424 B.C. According to the Scriptures, it was in the twentieth year of his reign that Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the above commandment to Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem as Governor of Judah to rebuild the street and the retaining wall, as we see here:
"The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,"
Nehemiah 1:1-4, KJV
"And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time."
Nehemiah 2:1-6, KJV
Not only did Artaxerxes comply with Nehemiah's wishes, but he also granted him all of the materials that he would need in order to complete the job. Again, consider the following verses:
"Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me."
Nehemiah 2:7-8, KJV
Regarding the remainder of Daniel's Seventy Weeks prophecy, here it is again; but this time I have added a lot of words in brackets for the sake of clarity, because many Christians have a difficult time understanding what this means:
"And after threescore and two weeks [or 434 years] shall Messiah be cut off, [meaning Jesus is crucified] but not for himself [because He died for our sins]: and the people of the prince that shall come [meaning General Titus and the Roman legions] shall destroy the city and the sanctuary [meaning Jerusalem and the Temple]; and the end thereof shall be with a flood [not of water, but an army of men], and unto the end of the war [meaning the First Jewish-Roman War] desolations [destruction] are determined. And he [Titus] shall confirm the covenant [may be some kind of military or political deal] with many for one week [the 70th week]: and in the midst of the week [in the middle of the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [because he destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple compound in 70 AD], and for the overspreading of abominations [possibly refers to Roman standards which bore the image of an eagle, which is unclean and an abomination to the Jews, and the Roman legions and siege wall which surrounded Jerusalem] he shall make it desolate [destroy Jerusalem], even until the consummation [until the war is completed], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate [the people who were destroyed, meaning the Jews]."
Daniel 9:26-27, KJV
The tragedy here is that much of this death and destruction could have been avoided, had the Jews simply bowed to their Roman conquerors, and accepted it as God's chastisement, due to their cruel treatment, rejection and murder of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ, forty years earlier. There again is that famous Biblical number forty.
Despite God's clear warnings, while the Disciples obeyed the Lord's command and fled to the hills of Judaea, the majority of the unbelieving Jews in the city of Jerusalem did not. As some of you history buffs will know, in the year 66 AD, the First Jewish-Roman War began, in direct fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel.
Regarding the specifics, Roman general Vespasian was sent by Emperor Nero to quell rebellion in Judaea. Over the course of the first half of this seven-year war -- which I believe represented the seventieth week of Daniel's famous prophecy -- Vespasian slowly subdued Israel, beginning in Galilee, until all that remained was Judaea and Jerusalem itself. In fact, even King Herod Agrippa II -- who was the seventh and last king of the Herodian line, and a puppet-king of Rome -- fled from Jerusalem, and fully supported Vespasian in his campaign against Judaea. Following the war, Herod and his sister Berenice went to Rome where he served as a praetor, and lived in affluence.
At any rate, as a result of the suicide of Emperor Nero in 68 AD, and the political rivalries and civil war that ensued -- referred to as the "Year of the Four Emperors" -- and having gained much support in the provinces of the empire, Vespasian returned to Rome where he was crowned the new emperor. Thus, the task which had originally been assigned to Vespasian by Nero, was completed by his son, General Titus, who was his second-in-command during the campaign against Judaea, and who likewise eventually became a Roman emperor for a few years.
Titus had a siege wall built around the outer walls of the city of Jerusalem. A common tactic in its day, a siege wall meant that no one could get in or out; and neither could any other thing, including food, water, military supplies, etc. The end result was that the people who were the victims of a siege slowly starved to death, turned on each other, died from different diseases, etc. As an added bonus to all this misery, in the case of Jerusalem, General Titus added mass crucifixions to the mix as well. According to historians Tacitus and Flavius Josephus, somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 Jews were trapped inside Jerusalem. Why did they not flee from the wrath to come as they had been warned to do by Jesus himself?
By the middle of 70 AD -- which was also the middle of this seven-year war -- the three walls which surrounded Jerusalem were breached, resulting in most of the city being burned to the ground, and the Temple compound being utterly destroyed, in precise fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy about four decades earlier. According to Josephus, 1,100,000 Jews were killed during the siege. Furthermore, many thousands more were taken captive, and carried away as slaves to other Roman provinces. This was in fact the beginning of the Third Diaspora. While the fall of Jerusalem marked the end of the major part of the seven-year war, mop-up exercises continued for another three and a half years until 73 AD, because there were still some pockets of Jewish resistance, such as the famed fortress of Masada.
So these are the prophesied horrendous events which led up to the Lord's Return, which in my view, must have occurred somewhere between 70 and 73 AD, if my understanding is on target. Furthermore, just as Daniel had also predicted, these events marked the end of that 490-year Prophetic Age, or "Seventy Weeks" prophecy.
Now, what you may find interesting is the fact that while many Christians are familiar with the various signs that Jesus gave in three of the Gospels regarding this tragic period in Jewish history, which would culminate with His actual promised Return, they don't realize that the end of this Prophetic Age is also hinted at in a few other verses in the Gospels as well. The reason why a lot of people do not recognize it, is because these verses are a bit obscure due to the way in which they were translated. A primary example of this is a verse which I shared with you earlier in this series. Here it is again to refresh your memory:
"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?"
Matthew 24:3, KJV
Please note that Jesus had just informed His followers that the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, and that is when they asked Him this three-part question. The phrase "these things" is obviously referring to the destruction of Herod's Temple. The first thing I want you to see here is that the destruction of the Temple is directly related to the other two events; that is, Jesus' Return, and the end of the world. It is a three-part package, and it is the latter event which we need to address first.
You may recall that in part three where I first discussed this verse, I actually put the word "world" in quote marks. Perhaps you even wondered why I did that. Well, there is a very specific reason for my doing so. Some of the reasons why Futurists are convinced that the Lord has not returned yet, are because they do not see the new heavens or the New Earth, and they most certainly do not see a glistening Heavenly City; that is, New Jerusalem. Furthermore, they do not see everlasting righteousness, or Jesus reigning on the Earth. In addition, they have not witnessed the rise of the Beast and the False Prophet, or seen a third Temple raised in Jerusalem. Neither have they seen the Antichrist in the Temple, or heard any news about two Sackcloth Witnesses. The Battle of Armageddon likewise appears to be nowhere in sight. Thus, they conclude that Jesus has not returned yet.
As I explained earlier in this series, I fully understand why they believe as they do, because I was a Futurist for over four decades as well. As such, I was fully convinced that Jesus had not returned yet for the very same reasons. But another big reason why Futurists believe as they do is because they have not seen the end of the world, as per the previous verse.
Based on these points alone, at first glance it might seem that the Futurists are right, and that they have a strong case for believing that Jesus has not returned yet. However, that can only appear to be the case if we purposely choose to ignore all of the verses I have already shared with you where Jesus explicitly informed His First Century followers that He would be coming quickly, and would return while some of them were still alive. If that is not enough, what if I told you that the Disciples never even asked Jesus when the world would end? What if they actually asked Him something entirely different? I will address this question as we continue this series in part five. I hope you will join me.
Please go to part five for the continuation of this series.
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