Is It This or That?

November 2, 2018 at 11:57 AM 2 comments

I find it fascinating when I talk with Preterists or Covenant/Reformed theologians who generally interpret Scripture literally (not literalistically), until they come to prophetic portions of Scripture. For some reason, they choose to allegorize the text. There’s no reason to do that other than their likes and dislikes.

More often than not, Scripture normally tends to explain itself, whether in that particular passage where prophetic discourse occurs, or someplace else within the pages of Holy Writ. What people tend to forget if they are on the Preterist side of the aisle is that God wrote the entirety of the Bible. Though He chose to use roughly 40 human authors and did so over a period of 1600 to 2000 years, it is still all of God’s Word. God used individual personalities to express His own thoughts, doctrine, theology and prophecy.

It is no different from an author who sets about to write a huge book. Though there are likely many chapters and each chapter focusing on a different aspect, all of the chapters work together to support the whole and the whole book was ultimately written by one author even when there are many characters throughout the book.

Is God capable of using various people to express His thoughts, His theology, His prophetic discourse? Some question it. Some point to the human councils made up of finite men, who decided to explore the Scriptures and it is argued that they came up with things like the Trinity, or the Second Coming or something else. When I hear these arguments, all I can say is that their faith in God’s ability is woefully bereft. Could not God have guided these councils – possibly even unknowingly to those involved – to have arrived at His conclusions? The answer is absolutely.

Consider the conquering of the Medo-Persian Empire by Alexander the Great, whose Grecian Empire overtook and replaced it. Did God have a hand in that? Absolutely. It was because of Alexander that Koine Greek became a very well-known language throughout his empire and because of that, we have the New Testament today, written primarily in Koine Greek. It was the every man’s language of the day and most people spoke it and understood it.

But one of the arguments that Preterists have regarding the End Times and the coming Tribulation (they don’t believe it is coming because they believe it’s already in the past), is based on Jesus’ use of the word “this” in the Olivet Discourse.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34 ESV)

Reading this, Preterists generally state that as we look back to the time of Jesus, they say He was speaking of a time that would occur during the time of that particular generation to which He ministered and attempted to bring to the Gospel. Because of this, these same Preterists state that when Jerusalem was surrounded and destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, that represented the fulfillment of Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse. They believe this because they say that the word “this” must be applied to the generation living at the time of Jesus.

There are many problems with this because Preterists are then forced to allegorize the remaining passages of the Olivet Discourse that discuss the physical, bodily return of Jesus and the fact that every eye will see Him return. To get around this difficulty, Preterists (as well as numerous cults like Christian Science), believe that in AD 70, Jesus returned spiritually. The “eyes” that saw Him do so were the spiritual eyes of His followers.

But clearly, this doesn’t hold up under even the lightest scrutiny. Preterists say Jesus “returned” but did so invisibly. Unfortunately for them, the plain meaning of the verses that describe Jesus’ return are set aside in favor of something that is essentially metaphorical.

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31 ESV)

Here, Jesus makes it plainly clear that when He physically returns to this earth, the world will “mourn” because they will have realized what they had rejected. To make matters even more clear, Jesus had previously said in Matthew 24:27 the following:

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (ESV)

When lightning flashes, it tends to light up the entire sky depending upon the severity of the lightning. Even if a person closes their eyes, they will see flashes of light through their closed eyelids. It’s unavoidable.

Jesus is saying that His physical return will be seen by the entire world. Not only will it not go unnoticed, but the world will react to His upcoming return. Immediately following His return, people will be gathered for judgment. None of this occurred in AD 70. None of it.

We have perfect validation of this in Acts 1:11, where after Jesus physically ascends to heaven, while the men stood there watching Him disappear into the clouds, heard the voice of several angelic messengers.

Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. (ESV)

Notice they state that this same Jesus who went up into heaven physically and the men actively saw it, would return in the exact same way – physically and all eyes would see Him return. It couldn’t be more plain…unless a person simply decides to interpret Scripture metaphorically when it should be taken literally (again, not literalistically). See also Luke 24:50-53.

Another example of Jesus’ use of the word “this” is found in John 2, where He was having a disagreement with the Jews over Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. He had just thrown out the money changers and overturned their tables. The Jews were upset because they had a nice arrangement with these money changers to extort large sums of money from the average Jewish person who came to the Temple to offer sacrifices. Often, the priests would tell them that the animals they brought were not good enough so they had to purchase something from the money changers in the Temple Court.

Jesus saw the duplicity and usury and became indignant. This resulted in Him chasing the merchants out of the Temple area. The Jews questioned Him by insisting that they provide to them a “sign” that would verify His authority to do what He had just done (John 2:10). Jesus responded in this way:

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19 ESV; emphasis added)

The use of the word “this” caused the Jews to believe Jesus was referring to the physical Jewish Temple that stood on the top of the Temple Mount. That’s the way they took it, but they were wrong. As the text clearly explains in John 2:21, Jesus was actually referring to His own Body, not the Temple built with stones by men.

The Jews could not grasp what Jesus said. In Matthew 24, He used the word “this” to reference a generation and it seems clear enough (though there is plenty of disagreement), that He ultimately was referring to the generation that would be alive during the coming Tribulation, which would end as He returned. However, there is also a near/far view because things certainly started with the generation living at the time of Jesus, didn’t it?

Dr. Thomas Constable notes on this particular verse in Matthew the following:

‘This generation’ then ‘represents an evil class of people who will oppose Jesus’ disciples until the day He returns.’ [1]

Moreover, the same word in John 2 represents Christ’s physical Body in spite of how the Jews misinterpreted it.

Whatever you tend to hold true regarding portions of the Olivet Discourse and the use of the word “this,” it is incumbent upon each and every reader to know why you believe as you believe. It is not good enough to take anyone’s word for anything – including mine. You are responsible for what you believe and it is as simple as that. Do not make the mistake of resting on your laurels and pointing to other people who believe the same as you do. They won’t be standing with you when you stand before the Lord while He sits on His Bema Seat. You and you alone will need to address why you believe as you do.

In a nutshell – as far as I’m concerned – Preterists and others who believe that Jesus “returned” to this earth spiritually and invisibly, unfortunately tend to make Jesus a liar. I’m not saying they do this intentionally or even realize they are doing that. I’m simply saying that the full body of Scripture points to a physical return of Messiah to this earth. He came to this earth physically the first time and will do so the second time as well. Scripture is very clear on this point. Anything else is misinterpreting Scripture and those who do, do so to their own spiritual detriment.

Know what you believe. Be able to accurately prove it from Scripture. Be open to changing opinions as you gain more knowledge of Scripture. We are all “immature” in the faith to some degree. We need to use tremendous grace when dealing with one another as God extends such grace to us in spite of our failures.

 

[1] https://planobiblechapel.org/constable-notes-html/

 

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Eastern Mysticism, Emotional virtue, eternity, Global Elite, Judaism, Life in America, new age movement, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming. Tags: , , , .

Don’t Be Conformed but Be Transformed Personal Request for Prayer

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robert  |  November 2, 2018 at 4:47 PM

    I am so grateful I found your blog. I really enjoy your writing and hold the same literal/dispensational approach to interpreting the scriptures.

    Reply
    • 2. modres  |  November 2, 2018 at 5:10 PM

      Hi Robert,

      Thank you. I’m glad you did too. We’re a dying breed😎

      Reply

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