Part 4 begins to discover the meaning behind the pivotal sign of Jesus, the Abomination of Desolation. Looking back, Jesus is answering the question phrased by Mark’s gospel as, “When will these things (desolation of the temple) take place? After he first warned them to observe the Beginning of Sorrows (part 2), Jesus told his followers:
Matthew 24:15 is nothing less than fulfilled prophecy. The subject, The Abomination of Desolation, is highly symbolic, obscure and apocalyptic in nature. It gets your attention. What in the world is Jesus talking about? Futurist have told us the horrors of a future Antichrist Man, sacrilegiously erecting an abdominal idol in an End Times rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps, maybe not. Let the Bible speak for itself. Jesus references the OT Prophet Daniel, who exclusively mentions abomination and desolation together 3 times (Dan 9:27, 11:31, 12:11) and indirectly in Dan 8:13 and 9:2. Truth is always confirmed in scripture by 2 or 3 witnesses. On this topic, we have Daniel and Jesus, validating an obscure phrase: “Abomination of Desolation” (AoD).
What is an Abomination? What is a Desolation?
The phrase AoD can be more accurately translated, “The Abomination (that causes) Desolation.” Both Daniel and Jesus use the AoD phrase with that intent. The word ‘Abomination’ is a common Biblical word with religious connotations.
The definition of ‘Abomination’ from Webster says: Something regarded with disgust or hatred.
In religious terms, an ‘Abomination’ to the Lord is manifested idolatry, sinful behavior or unbelief that causes Him disgust and anger. When abominations persist, the Lord takes action. In the OT, the Israel nation is often called out by the prophets for their abominations. What would be the source of such an abomination in Christ’s day and ours?
3 Old Testament Abominations and Desolations
In Daniel 9, the Lord reveals why Jerusalem and the temple was desolated in 586BC by Babylon. They had violated the sabbath rest every 7 years, for 490 years, or 70 times. Yahweh thus sends them into exile for 70 years, in addition to the idol worship of Canaan. The consequence was desolation and exile.
2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.
The fall of Jerusalem by the Babylonian empire was foretold by many prophets in Israel. The Judah nation had filled its cup. Was Jesus speaking about this AoD in Matthew 24:15? I don’t think so. Certainly, it was a clear example to the Jews of AD30, that the Lord will judge his people using pagan armies. But Jesus meant something else.
The second abomination that causes desolation in Daniel was from the Syrian tyrant Antiochus Epiphanies IV from 170-164BC. Antiochus Epiphanies IV (AE4) of Syria, came to Jerusalem, deceived the Jewish leaders, proudly tried to alienate Judaism, sacrificed a pig on the alter, and desecrated the Temple. (Reference : 1 Maccabees 1:21-24, and Josephus (Antiquities X:11:7).) He was put down by the Maccabees family and Jews today celebrate the overthrow with Hanukah. AE4 was prophesied as an Abomination that Causes Desolation in Daniel chapter 8:1-13 and 11:29-35. In context, and shown in history, AE4 was an Old Testament prophetic antichrist archetype, and did indeed cause abominations and desolation.
31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.
When Jesus spoke those words, every one of his disciples would have remembered 200 years earlier in Jewish history, and why Hanukah exists. Was Jesus speaking about this AoD in Matthew 24:15? I don’t think so. AE4 was a personified ‘Little Horn’ of Daniel 8, and while he was an OT archetype Antichrist, such a personality never revealed themselves in the AD 30-70 time frame of the OT age. Some might advocate for Nero Caesar, but he was Roman while AE4 was Syrian.
The third AoD in detailed in Daniel 9:25-27. Chapter 9, and these verses, are the climax to all of Daniel’s prophecies because it tells of the coming Messiah of Israel. However, the coming of Messiah would not destroy Israel’s enemies and establish His physical kingdom. Messiah would indeed come; make a covenant with His people, but then be cut off – crucified, half way into the prophetic 7 year week. The prophecy then concludes with a recognition of abundant abominations (On the wing of abominations) that cause horrors or desolation. From the text, the final half of the week ends up as judgement via the Roman-Jewish war of AD 66-70, the destruction of Herod’s temple (Note Matthew 23:37-39, 24:1-4), and the closing end of the OT age.
26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
There are two ways to interpret Dan 9:26-27. First, one has to divide the verses into 26a, 26b, 27a, 27b. A futurist reads it straight through as A, B, C, D. For myself, an evolving Historicist, I read it A, B, A, B. The ideas repeat the time frame.
Was Jesus speaking about this AoD in Matthew 24:15? YES! The Jews in that generation rejected their Messiah (Matthew 23) and the Father sent desolating judgement via the Roman general Vespasian in 67 AD, followed by his son, Titus, in 70 AD to end the Jewish rebellion and eliminate the OT temple and sacrificial system. Jesus, the Prince, is the better sacrifice, and puts an “end to sin”. Continuing, Dan 9:26-27 and Luke 20:21 say armies will surround Jerusalem before the impending desolating destruction. Daniel 9:24-27 says abominations will happen near/on the temple, and desolations are decreed. Bible commentators associate the Roman army marching through the land of Judah, occupying cities in the holy land, and the presence of Titus’ army in the Most Holy Place as the abomination (pagans in the holy land) that causes desolation (destruction of the Holy city). Other commentators consider the Jewish leadership and people of that generation, who killed their messiah, and continued to offer sacrifice in denial of his atonement, to be the abomination. To me, it seems to be a little of both.
The Preterist position that claims a fulfillment of Dan 9:24-27 and the parallel fulfillment of Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14 during the AD 66-70 Jewish War is a strong Biblical consistency.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
Daniel 12 is a summary conclusion of the 3 OT prophecies for the Jewish people, given in Ch 8, 9 and 10-12. Daniel 12:7 foretells the shattering of God’s people for 3.5 times> 42 mo > or 3.5 years. This was the 66-70 war.
11 From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days.
A Roman legion begins an assault on Jerusalem in AD 66. For unknown reason, Cestius Gallus retreats and emboldens the rebellious sects, who give chase and kill a few thousand soldiers and ramp up the war. After, the rebels insert an unqualified Jewish High Priest end the daily sacrifice for the gentile nations in 67 AD. 1290 days later, the Temple is gone. It then takes another 1335 days for the Jewish stronghold of Madrasa to fall to Rome in AD73.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus is referring to the 3rd desolation of Dan 9:26-27 and summarized in Dan 12. This was the end of the age (Jewish age), OT, old covenant. The judgment was a sign of his second appearing yet future.
Told to Flee From the Coming Destruction
When Cestius Gallus came into Judea and surrounded Jerusalem, the Christians knew this passage in Matthew and fled to Pella in Parea when he left.
Told to flee…. The historian Josephus records all this. Gallus surrounds the city and is about to attack when he suddenly retreats, 67AD. As he retreats, the Jews get emboldened and attack the Roman armies as they retreat. The Christians in the city flee, per verse 16-18 to Pella and don’t come back. Rome returns in AD 70 and desolates the city within 5 month. The desolation was terrible and there was great tribulation within the city.
3 New Testament Abominations and Desolations
What is the future Abomination that Causes Desolation that reflects that temple desecration and 70AD judgment? No one really knows, but many speculate. I believe Matthew 24 and the prophetic types given in Daniel to be key. When applying Matthew 24:15 to the Last Days or End Times, I would urge you to read the detail supplemental blog post called, “The Abomination of Desolation – A Chiastic Structure/ Timeline Graphic.
As spoken in this series, what Jesus is prophesying had a near term and far term fulfillment. In brief, the 3 NT AoDs would be:
The warning AoD Judgement was the OT end in AD70.
Like AE4 appearing 170 years before Messiah, A NT antichrist will come before the end. Read 2 Thess 2. In the NT age, there were 2 persecuting powers who reflected the AoD nature and specific details of Daniel 7, 8, 11. That is Islam and the Roman Papacy powers.
A final End Times AoD is yet to be realized. This will not bode well for believers, for we too will see great tribulation. The ONLY abomination mentioned in Revelation is in chapter 17, the woman – Mystery Babylon, full of abominations of the earth. She gets desolated by this Rev 17 beast. Again the pattern is seen of religious apostasy followed by political destruction.
And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”
In the Last Days, the final Abomination that causes Desolation is plainly said and identified to be Mystery Babylon. What about the Antichrist beast and a temple abomination? An astute student will clearly see the two different symbolic figures in play: Mystery Babylon and the Antichrist – the third version of the 7 head/10 horned beast of Rev 17. In chapter 17, the Woman RIDES on top of the beast, and is then killed by the beast – Antichrist. The logical interpretation is that the wayward woman represents a fully compromised, apostate church in the end times. The beast supports the deception of her that pulls down humanity from the real truth, and then destroys her. The Bible says to flee away from her as she emerges or else be caught in her destruction.
When Rome surrounded Jerusalem in AD 66, the Christians fled. When a persecuting rises up and in support by a New World Order power, it will then be time to flee that religious organization. If your church is going woke and following the wisdom of man rather than the truths of His Kingdom, beware, for it will get worse.
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. 3 For all nations have drunk[a] the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; 5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
What About the Mark of the Beast?
Many commentators lean towards a combining of world events where a religious power joins a political power to demand a one faith religion, one world government, and enforced allegiance and economic power by assigning a mark. (Rev 13) This is speculative stuff. Who really knows the future?
More About the Antichrist
Revelations 13 and Daniel 7 describes a 4 phased beast often called the NT Antichrist and linked to 2 Thess 2, Man of Lawlessness. I believe this was fulfilled in the Middle ages and began to be broken by the Reformation. Yet, Rome lived on, and it’s atrocities forgotten in time like the men of Gondor. But Revelation 17 speaks of a same beast in the final form of 7 heads and 10 horns. It is still very Roman by all symbology. In the Last Days, the scriptures point to a return of Antichrist as a secular power.
Unlike the preterist view, I do not leave Matthew 24:15 at 70AD. In context, I believe Jesus is saying a final Abomination of Desolation will occur not only at the end of the OT age, but before his second coming and end of the NT age. Players to watch:
Papal power can rise politically and religiously; Islam can rise and support religiously.
US as an economic and political power. The US church as an apostate church.
A one world religion where we are told to take the mark and tow the line.
This mark could be physical (stamp or chip) or symbolic (What was mentally ascent to in our minds and work to with our hands)
The future looks to be difficult. When the AoD appears, Christians will know, and flee to Christ first for protection. Leave the cities now. Believers will be under the wing of the father. Judgments will be all around, people won’t repent. They will say, “Peace and Safety”, and then blame believers for misfortunes. Endure to the end.
Pregnant women and children… Escaping the chaos of the Jewish-Roman war was not easy for women, especially with child. Trials are never fair or just for the vulnerable. Just as Christians prepared mentally back then, we will know too the need to slow down and help those in need.
Covid 19 Today
There are many narratives coming from those in power. When I started this blog, there were not vaccines or mandates. Being forced to take a jab or lose your job is starting to parallel Revelation 13b. The message is, “Follow our direction and we will keep you safe”, all the while we see inconsistent facts and data from our government. People who run to a political government for their Peace and Safety, will surely persecute those who resists, and preserve their power for personal gain. The Last Days are not about politics. However, it will be about persevering in faith.
The evolution of this chart came about as I was studying the meaning of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:15 in the attempt to discern Who? or What? is the Abomination of Desolation that many of us have heard about in scripture. I have been detailing the Matthew 24 passage: “Covid-19, End of the World?” by WordPress blog entries.
The most common and evolved interpretation we hear is a future Antichrist man who places some abominable thing/act in a future Jewish temple. You may be surprised to know there are better interpretations.
Jesus Christ is the LORD and will reign over everything! We don’t have to fear the future, and yet, he calls us to prepare and know his Word!
Jesus spoke about his return and establishing his kingdom and rule. We need to give his word deference over headlines, speculations and popular books. When we study the more symbolic prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, we can begin to see patterns of revelation, given to the people of God. Jesus specified a sign to his disciples, of abominations and desolation from the book of Daniel. Understand, this is a pivoting event to signal his “Coming”. Knowing the meaning within Daniel and how that reflects in Revelation brings the questions to His Coming into focus.
What is THIS Chiastic Structure?
A chiastic structure is a literary device which reflects symmetry in the content of a work, with a climax point revealed in the center of the work. As I studies the prophetic literature, and specifically Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17/21, I saw a chiastic structure formed by the Books of Daniel and Revelation, with parallel and repetitive themed structures. The central driving topic is The Abomination of Desolation (AoD). What am I talking about?
You can find a pattern of 3 different AoDs in the Old Testament book of Daniel, and 3 different AoDs in the New Testament Book of Revelation, which all mirror the other. The reflected pattern between the OT-NT gives understanding to what Jesus was telling them and us today.
A Chiastic Structure of Daniel-Matthew-Revelation
Why is the OT and NT Split with the Gospels in the middle?
In the NT teachings of Jesus about his 2nd coming, Jesus references The Abomination of (the causes) Desolation from Daniel. This is the key to understand the climax of the Old and New Testament prophecy and end of the ages. What Jesus speaks about in His Olivet Discourse teaching, is what Daniel and John speak about in their revelations. Each mention of AoD is a unique events of history.
About the AoD. The best translation of the term should be: “The abomination ‘that causes’ desolation.” It is important to get a Bible translation that is more word for word versus a paraphrased version which is essentially an interpretive translation. The popular phrase ‘Abomination of Desolation’ conjurers thoughts of a terrible, abominable person/organiztion full of destructive desolation. This is the double-dipper view. If read, ‘the abomination that causes’, the ideas can be separated into a cause and effect view, which is more accurate. Thus AoD means ‘an event of abomination causes other events or actors to desolate the ones causing the abomination.
Daniel is very difficult to interpret, let alone summarize it’s meaning in a few paragraphs. Let me try, and it is up to you to study and show something else.
First, I looked deep into the consistency of the Preterist view and concluded that the book of Daniel was predominately an OT prophecy for the latter years of the Jewish people. Beginning in Daniel’s time (605-539 BC), the small remnant of the Jews were subject to dominate powers, had lost the glory of the kingdom, and fell under the consequences of prophetic discipline. After 4 persecuting empires, the Jews hoped for a Messiah to deliver. It can be shown that Daniel’s vision foretold the future from ancient Babylon to Christ and shadowed the next NT age. At the time of Christ, the leaders all knew Daniel’s book, and messianic expectation was high.
Daniel’s words, prayers and prophecies are systematically detailing the final centuries of the Jews. From the remnant in Babylon and 70 years in exile, comes the promise to return to Jerusalem. We see the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires foretold. We see an Old Testament Antichrist in the Syrian leader, Antiochus Epiphanies 4 (AE4), who is an archetype of a NT antichrist. We see the central vision in the coming Messiah (Dan 9), his timing and effects. Within Daniel, the visions and commentary tell of 3 abominations and 3 desolation events. We are being told the prophetic end of the Jewish OT Age.
1st OT AoD
In the first abomination, we see Judah’s idolatry bringing judgement from Babylon. Babylon desolates Jerusalem and the first temple from 605-586 BC.
2nd OT AoD
Second, we see an abomination personified in ch 8 and ch 11 in the Syrian leader, AE4. He sacrificed a pig on the temple alter. AE4 set up a statue of Jupiter in the temple. He himself desolated the 2nd temple and the Jewish people, killing over 33,000 Jews from 170-164 BC.
3rd OT AoD
Third, we come to the first advent of Christ, where Jesus comes to his own (the Judah nation) and his own receives him not. They desire political power, rebel and kill their Messiah. They sow up the temple veil and continue to offer sacrifice, when sacrifice has been abolished once and for all. This is part of the “over spreading, or wing of abominations from Dan 9:27b. The Father also sends the Roman army in judgement. The pagan presence is also part of the abomination that desolates as prophesied in Dan 9:24-27, and thus the OT age comes to an end in AD 70.
24 “Seventy weeks[c] are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.[d]25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again[e] with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its[f] end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,[g] and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
Daniel 9:24-27 ESV
Daniel chapter 9 is the 70 weeks prophecy. I take this to be consecutive and historically fulfilled from 457 BC to AD 26 (69 weeks) when Jesus is baptized and begins his messianic ministry of the last week. He is “cut off” half way in AD 30. He is the prince and the one who makes the covenant in His blood.
What about Daniel and the Future End Times?
I understand and respect fellow believers who interpret the 70th week to be yet future. There is a problem with seeing all of Daniel in the future, a 2000+ year fulfillment. It is not good hermetics or fair to scripture. I do believe there is room for a dual fulfillment for Messianic prophecy. One may ask, Why only dual? Why not 3-4 meanings and fulfillment? Dual is ok because Jesus came once, and He said he would again a second time, not 3 or 4.
People will disagree with me, but I challenge you to first see a near term and complete fulfillment of Daniel chapters 7-12 by AD 70. Daniel ch 9 shows his heavy concern for his people. God loves his people and his prophet and answers his prayers with visions ABOUT THEM. This is the Preterist-Historicist interpretation. Once understood, one can look at the three visions with a secondary, far term Futurist fulfillment in the NT age. How is that done? By what hermanuetic? Thru the 1 day (prophetic) = 1 year (human) metric as applied in Daniel 9, 70 weeks, I apply the prophecies into the NT age, which are given more light in the Book of Revelation. This is not so much a dual fulfillment, but rather an archetype/anti-type fulfillment.
John and the New Testament
Futurist love to see all of the book of Revelation as future, and who is to blame them for some good fire and brimstone eschatology? This short blog will not do Revelation justice. I do not take a full futurist, or Preterist, or Idealist view of the book. I combine them all into a Comprehensive Historicist view.
Let me summarize:
The Seals repeat Daniel’s sealed vision and reveal. All of Daniel climaxes with the coming Messiah and Jerusalem’s judgement. The 7 seals repeat this account with an extended view of the gospel to all nations. Here, the rejection of Messiah was again the abomination and Rome desolated.
The Trumpets warn and cover the period of the middle-dark ages, where the church saw two persecuting “little horns” (Dan 7, 8) in the Papal tyranny and Islamic conquests. Rome and Islam are the two legs of Daniel 2. Like AE4, they both are an abomination and cause desolation. Initially, it is the Papacy who is the antichrist church-state power in the west, and Islam destroys the east. This period of time is often called 1260 days, 42 months, 3.5 years. In prophetic time into the NT age, that is 1260 years. During the dark ages, the Roman church exalted the Pope as the vicar of Christ, perverted the gospel with the mass and ritual, and began to kill and persecute saints for reading the scriptures and preaching the faith. Likewise, Islam gave a new form of religion, rose up against Christ, and killed with the sword. Rev 12-14 cover this period and the final beast of Rev 17, future.
The Bowls are the End Times judgement of the 3rd NT abomination in Rev 15-19. Mystery Babylon is literally called the Mother of all abominations. Why do we insist upon a future man in a future literal temple? Plainly before us we see a future apostate church leading the world in sin. That church will be “Desolated” by the healed, 10 horned beast of Rev 17, which is followed by Christ who comes in judgement. Islam and Rome will combine to be the two horned, religious Earth beast that supports the cause in the final latter days, or end times. Like religious Jerusalem in AD 70 and 586BC, the abominations will bring desolating judgements from Babylon-Rome, as the Antichrist Beast power of the 8th king of Rev 17.
Again, in the NT age there will be 3 abominations and 3 desolations. Like the OT archetypes, the 1st and 3rd are spiritual abominations resulting in political desolations. The 2nd are sacrilegious antichrist powers that desolate.
What about Matthew and the End Times?
So Which Abomination was Jesus Referring to in Matthew and Mark?
I see Jesus referring back to all THREE OT events as arch-typical of future NT events. In the NT age, there will be a Messiah and soon judgement upon that generation; there will be a man of sin who desolates; there will be a future Babylon.
The NT age reflects the OT age and 3 AoDs, but in a chiastic reversal. OT was Babylon, Antichrist figure, Jerusalem/Rome. The NT frame is Jerusalem/Rome, Antichrist figure, Babylon.
In Matthew 24, the disciples ask 4 questions:
When will these thing happen?
What will be the Sign when these things (Desolation of the temple) are about to take place?
What is the Sign of Coming and (What is the sign) of End of the Age?
The chiastic structure answers these questions for both ages. In the OT, from Daniel, Q1 was the AoD of Daniel 9 and Jerusalem in AD 70. Q2 was Antiochus E4, who was a monster to the Jews of 170-164BC, as told in Dan 8, 11. Q3 was Babylon’s judgement in 586 BC, as told in Dan 9, and a sign to the Jews of the second temple’s demise. These three OT AoDs have meaning in the NT, and application when Jesus applies these questions on the Mount of Olives.
1st NT AoD from Matthew
In the NT age, Jesus points to the 3 questions in reverse. Q3 is the AoD of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the 2nd temple’s desolation. AD 70 was the sign for the AoD and judgement of the 2nd coming. This is also the 7 seals of Rev 6-8:1. What Daniel seals, John reveals. The 4 horsemen, tribulation and judgement are a repeat of Daniel as a whole. After the conclusion, the 7th seals tells of silence in Heaven. Was this the moment of silence for the Fathers judgement upon his people in AD 70?
2nd NT AoD from Matthew
Q2 is the man of sin from 2Thess2 and Rev 13a revealed as the papal church state and desolating Islamic power during the middle ages. Rev 13a tell of an Antichrist power that arises, commits abominations, and desolated God’s people. Rev 13a is the same figure as a future Daniel 7 Little Horn Antichrist. In the Historicist frame, this AoD happens for 1260 days, or 1260 years of persecution from the Papal state powers. The little horn in Daniel 8 is called an AoD, and many interpret to be a future Islamic element of Ch13. Like AE4, Islam is the religious component to the NT AoD. Likewise, Rome continues in the NT into the Papal power, but Rome is not directly called an abomination, but more of a political beast desolater.
3rd NT AoD from Matthew
Q1 is the AoD of Mystery Babylon in the last days with all the birth pains from Matthew 24. The third AoD is a future apostate church which is desolated again by a third manifested Roman beast. The saints will not escape the great tribulation as Mystery Babylon persecuted the saints with the power of the state in the antichrist beast. This is prophesied more specifically in Rev 14-19. Mystery Babylon is specifically called the Harlot, full of the abominations of the earth. She is the final abomination that will cause desolation. She is distinct and separate from the Roman/Papal Beast Antichrist, that is hailed by the false prophet Islam and RCC together.
Summary of the Chart
Center white bar, AD26-70, the Gospels. This bar is the center of the chiastic chart, and the key to unlock the meaning of AoD with Jesus’ Gospel words primary, directive, and central. The context is the Olivet Discourse, and Jesus addressing the future Temple’s desolation that he predicts. He says the sign before the city is about to fall is the AoD. The beginning of the Roman-Jewish war from 66-70 started when Rome persecuted the Jews, surrounding the city. (sign from Luke 21) Then they leave, embolden the Jews who pursue and kill hundreds of soldiers. This starts the war, which already had rebellion and turmoil happening. Next, the sacrifice to gentiles is ended in the temple and the priesthood of Aaron ended. Assigning an AD 70 fulfillment to Matt 24 is a straight forward understanding in context. However, if one allows, one can see a future meaning as well. The gospel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the archetype AD 70 event, with hyperbolic language leading to a second future anti-type fulfillment. The white bar is the NT gospel prophetic fulfillment of AD 30-70.
Left Gold bar. The left bar is the OT scriptures from Daniel that predicted or symbolize the Jewish rebellion and Roman army as the AoD as being fulfilled at AD 70. When Daniel chapter 9:27 says “On wings of abominations shall come desolation”, I interpret that to be fulfilled when the Jewish rebels commit the abomination, in their quest for control and rejection of the Messiah Yeshua, they instill a fake high priest, end the daily sacrifice, and bear arms in the temple beginning in AD 66. The Roman-Jewish war begins, and the Roman army will level Jerusalem’s temple and the city, which is the desolation. Here, in AD 70, the AoD is an EVENT, not a PERSON or Antichrist.
Right Gold bar is the same event as the left Gold bar, but is NT prophecy of the AD 70 event is Revelation 6, the 7 seals. Why? Look at the parallel symbolic language used compared to Matthew 24. There is the same symbolic and specific progression of signs and tribulations. Where Daniel sealed his vision, John unsealed his first prophecy… which is Daniel’s prophecy. Revelations starts off saying 1:19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. Some of Revelation is in the past. I see the Rev 6-8:1 passage on the seals as NT passages speak to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the theme is salvation and judgment for the people.
Left Purple bar is the Roman empire’s rule in the OT upon the Jews. Dan 7 describes the 4th beast (Rome) with 10 horns. These are the 10 Caesars before Titus who eliminate the Judah Nation. The 3.5x mentioned in Dan 7 and 12 is the AD 66-70 years. The little horn is Nero or Titus and is Roman.
Right Purple bar is also Rome, but in Papal form. He is the boastful king of Rev 13a, Dan 7, Dan 11:36-40 and 2Thess2. The 3.5x of Rev 13 are the 1260 days- years of the Papal tyranny.
Left Blue bar is Greek-Syrian, manifested by Syrian AE4. Dan 8, 11 detail the ride of AE4 as an AoD Antichrist archetype. The little horn is Syrian.
Right Blue bar is also Syrian, but manifests as the Islamic empires. Dan 8 and 11 foretell of a future desolating power that cause abominations itself. In Rev 13b, the Earth beast (Islam) will honor the Sea beast (Rome). Together, they are the two little horns of Dan 7 and 8 and form the two horned earth beast of Rev 13b. This is a future merge of powers in the latter days.
Left Red bar is ancient Babylon who brought judgement in 586 BC.
Right Red bar is future Mystery Babylon, an apostate church lead by Rome, who will be desolated by a secular world Roman power. The end times falling away as Mystery Babylon is the abomination that causes desolation from the world powers.
The words of Christ in the gospel are the key to understand the end of the OT age and end of the NT age, resulting in salvation and judgement due to the abominations that cause the desolations.
What About Daniel 12 and the End?
Daniel has a near term (Historicist/Preterist) interpretation from the visions, as well as a far term (Futurist). Daniel 12 concludes the final vision of Daniel, ch 10-12:4, and summarizes Daniel’s question about when those things would happen to his people, the Jews. Chapter 12 is the final historical prophetic sequence for the Jews. Here is the sequence:
Starts with Persia and Greece (Ch 10).
Moves thru the Syrian/Egyptian dynasties (Ch 11)
Shows the historical OT Antichrist archetype and tyrant, Antiochus Epiphanies 4 @ Ch 11:31
Continues with the boastful King of the North and Herodian Dynasty (Ch 11:40+) over Jerusalem.
Ending in the tribulation of the Jews for 42 months from the Jewish-Roman Wars from AD 66-70 (Ch 12:5-13).
Daniel 12 and 1290 Days
The AoD phrase in Dan 12, and the 1290 days, is very perplexing and controversial, as it references the ending of the daily sacrifice. The daily sacrifice and offering were done for gentiles and Israelites. Passages 8:11-13, 11:32 and 12:11 all refer to the daily sacrifice, which is different than 9:27, which elevates the coming Messiah, who will bring to an end all sacrifice and offerings – the whole OT sacrificial system.
How does one parse out these nuances? Is 12:11 only about AE4, an archetype, antichrist man, from v. 8:11-13 and 11:31? Is it about a 42 month, time of the end, for the Jews at AD 70? Is it about a future Antichrist king of 11:36-40? If Jesus will come twice, and he refers to the AoD in the Gospels, then I am willing to entertain twice the meaning.
I believe chapter 12 wraps up the Daniel prophecy by affirming two previous truths:
The people of God will be desolated in tribulation. First was from 167-164 BC by AE4. The agreement on the daily sacrifice links 11:31 to 12:11. Second tribulation came to the Jews from the Judah nation being desolated by the Romans 9:26-27. The little horn of 7:25 says this, and 12:7 affirms, pointing to the Jewish-Roman war of AD 66-70. the Jews ended the daily sacrifice for the gentiles in AD 66 and three years later the Roman army desolated the rebellious Jews at the Temple. The time of the siege was 1290 days, and the 1335 days ended at Madrasa is AD 73.
For the verses, 12:11-12, I consider it a double prophecy with a near and far term fulfillment. Near term, , OT, we start with AE4 ending sacrifice and put up his own pig sacrifice in 167 BC. That was an AoD archetype. These verses (Ch 12:11-12) could have a future, symbolic meaning if a day=year metric is applied. As mentioned in the blue bars, the Syrian/Greece references in Dan 8 and 11 are parallel to the rise of an Islam horn lasting from AD 616-1922. The purple bar is about the rise of a Papal horn lasting AD 538-1798. I see Dan 12:5-13 to cover future history where the sanctuary of the temple area, Jerusalem, and the body of Christ are attacked and desolated. One commentator speculates a day-year starting in 586 bc when the sacrifice ended. Going 1290 years to AD 705, then Islam had dominated the Eastern Roman empire and Christianity. Going another 1335 years to 2040 and Who knows? It’s speculation.
The Abomination of Desolation had 3 realized events in Daniel, from 4 referenced scriptures. I do not see the scripture describing one AoD event, and there is clearly 3 independent events. Conversely, in the NT age, God’s people can expect an anti-type fulfillment of three AoD events. Second, the visions of Daniel point to two persecuting powers to arise during the NT age, two little horns. This is Papal Rome and Islam. The Roman empire appears in 3 forms (Rev 12, 13, 17) across the church age. The Islamic empire appears within the 3 woe trumpets (Rev 8-11). Both powers span about 1260 years. The chiastic structure is centered around the AoD identity, and within Daniel-Matthew-Revelation, is a frame to understand the texts and biblical prophecy of the scriptures.
Before I tackle Covid 19, The End of the World? Part 4 : What is The Abomination of Desolation?, I feel it is important to offer some foundational background with a bibliography record of my study sources. A while back, one of my sons came to be and said, “Dad, you write like you know a bunch of stuff about the topic, but you don’t reference anything, Why should people believe you?” He has a point. So here is: Covid-19, the End of the World? My Bibliography.
In part 1 of this series, I promised to revisit the eschatological frames of Idealism,Preterism, Futurism and Historicism. This post will document my study of each frame and includes the sources I have referenced over the years in my studies leading up to this blog.
My End-Times Journey
The revelation of God, Jesus Christ, in His coming, His people, His kingdom and His rule is what this blog is about. Who hasn’t had their interest peaked when the issue of Christ returning and the judgement of the world is discussed? The topics of prophecy, the prophetic, and prophets, all speak to the need of our inner self and the desire to know if we are in the right and on the right path forward. While scoffers mock Biblical prophecy as fear mongering and manipulative (yes, it has the risk to be used that way), I advocate a wonder for The Divine, who used his creatures, though flawed to the core, to bring a plan and reveal truths to guide the unfolding of history for his people and the world.
During my college years, I reunited with an old HS friend, Ron W., who was reading, The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Rod’s parents were instrumental in my Jr. High years to get me to attend a local church and youth group. I read Lindsey. It was futuristic and bombastic, and really didn’t make sense. The general idea was: Christians get raptured, the world is going to get bad, more crazy stuff happens and it gets worst, Christ comes back and judges, we get a kingdom that Christ will rule into eternity. That was a start, but didn’t satisfy.
I decided to start reading the scriptures more for myself. The first obvious difference to the Lindsey frame that I saw was about the secret rapture doctrine, followed by a 7 year great tribulation. The secret rapture proposes all true believing Christians get taken away and the wicked stay and get hammered. However, as I began to dig, scriptures seemed to nowhere speak of two 2nd returns of Jesus. The idea of a secret appearing is inferred and scriptures selectively divided. When the Bible speaks of Jesus coming to rescue (bring salvation) and also judge (bring consequence), it speak of a single final judgement day called the Day of the Lord. The metaphor for his coming suddenly says, “Like a thief”. Jesus and all NT Apostles link the idea of a surprised, sudden, coming or appearing to spiritual truths of preparedness, sudden destruction, total devastating fire, and salvation.
I Come Like A Thief In The Night
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Jesus on the Mount of Olives, Matthew 24:42-44
5 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
Paul to the Thessalonians, 1 Thess 5:1-3
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Peter about the Day of the Lord, 2 Peter 3:10
15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
John sees The 6th Bowl, Revelation 16:15
Secondly, the more I read about tribulation, the more I saw in scripture and also in history is that Christians have experienced tribulation throughout time. The Lindsey frame supposes the worst of all trials and tribulations to be experienced in the future last days, and that Christians somehow escape that experience. The Bible speaks of tribulation being connected to God’s people, not the world. The words, “The Great Tribulation” isn’t in the Word, but warns it is coming to believers. If we are raptured, we certainly can’t experience it. Isn’t it strange that God would reveal 21 chapters of NT prophecy, and the majority of the content is assertively meant for unbelieving people, who will never read the words anyway? No, the Apocalypse is for God’s people, to prepare them. I do agree that God’s people will not suffer the wrath of God because their sin is covered by the blood of Christ. However, the Book of Revelation is about, and given in advance for the people of the Lord.
I graduated college in 1988, married, widowed, re-married, and experienced career and children during the 1990-2000’s. We joined a reformed Presbyterian church. Around 1989-90, they gave a 6 week study on the return of Christ, led by elder Allan Bjerkaas. He is sincere, winsome and knowledgeable brother and challenged many of my core Futurist beliefs. A decade later, as Y2K neared, my interest in end times stirred and I did a deeper survey into eschatology (The study of End things), focusing mainly on Revelation and how it is interpreted. My main source was Steve Gregg’s book, Revelation Four Views, A Parallel Commentary. Gregg’s book was an excellent, comprehensive survey of the 4 frames of Revelation: Idealism, Preterism, Historicism, and Futurism. Several of my references in this blog were read during the 1998-2000 period. From the study, I ended up co-teaching an 8 week class with Allan. In parallel, my pastor, Allen Harris did a sermon series on eschatology around Y2K, and had an interesting dual application to Matthew 24, which I apply in measure during this blog series. By this time in my life, I did not have a firm view or end time position. I still kept to a limited Futurist frame. In 2000, my Futurism believed Christians would experience a turmoil at the end; there existed a purpose and plan for the Jews; an anti-Christ would appear; and then the return of Christ.
In the 2000-2015 time, my study was giving more sway to the Preterist frame of interpretation because of its apparent consistency, historical support from historian Josephus, and a straight play from the gospel writings. I would occasionally read or review Preterist writings. From the idealist frame, I was growing in the idea of the Kingdom of God existing now, but not 100% until the future. The “here, but not yet” idea of the Kingdom of God was a 20th century evangelical construct and promoted by George Ladd and other theologians. The concept was derived from the idea that the Stone kingdom in Daniel 2 began with the first coming of Christ, and the Kingdom of God has been growing ever since, but yet to be fully realized. All 4 frames can and do accept this idea of an expanding Kingdom of God in some measure. Preterist and Idealist, who are amillennial or postmillennial, are more vocal advocates towards a realized spiritual kingdom vs a realized physical kingdom. However, Historicist and Futurist accept a present spiritual kingdom reality, but affirm that the final kingdom will have a King ruling on an earthly throne.
“What is the Kingdom of God?” is a key question all Christians, and end times students in particular must grapple with to understand. Scripture speak of Christ reigning after putting all powers under his feet. (Ps 8:6, 1 Cor 15:25-27, Eph 1:22, Heb 2:8) and missiology has tied that idea to the expanding success of the church to reach the nations. Prophecy further transcends that Christ “will rule the nations with a rod of iron.” (Ps 2:9, Rev 2:27, 12:5, 19:15) which is the culmination of Christ as the King. We are currently in progress towards that end. The church has expanded to every nation in multiple paths, yet Satan still rules the nations for now.
For 27 years, the Idealist/Presbyterian influence led me to accept a nonlinear view of Revelation, in that the book has many visions that can be seen to cover and repeat events. Thus, the Return of Christ is envisioned in several passages of Revelation and the 1000 year millennium of Rev 20, while it appears to be at the end of the book, it can be another vision of a repeating present reality. For the Idealist frame: Christ is now reigning and ruling through his people, his body, the church. Yes…and no. From that perspective we get the terms Amillennial and Postmillennial as the two symbolic time frames of Christ’s 1000 year “millennial” reign. Most Futurists are Premillennial, believing Christ returns before/pre the millennium and will physically manifest his kingdom afterwards. So I openly, but lightly accepted an Amillennial position based mainly upon the idea of a stronger church-triumphant stance. The reading of Rev 20 could easily be premillenial. Today, the Charismatics and some Pentecostals, who are almost 100% premillennial, Futurist, do accept a church triumphant view called Dominionism, which has similar views of Postmillenialism.
Through the 2000-2015 years, I remained a sympathetic, Zionistic, Amillennial, partial-Preterist/Futurist. Around 2015, I re-read Gregg’s book and started to outline the 4 different frames to interpret Revelation and prophecy. It was difficult and confusing to keep it straight, even with an Excel spreadsheet! BUT, I started to learn the scriptures better and the strength and weaknesses of the frames. Around 2016, I discovered YouTube videos. In 2019, I took a class with my brother in law, D. Smith, who is Seventh Day Adventist.. The Adventists evolved from the 1800’s with their version of the Historicist-Futurist frame. From 2016 to present, I have been testing and comparing the differing Historicist frames (which started in the 1100’s), focusing on the details of interpretation, hermeneutics and consistency of beliefs. The SDAs version of Historicism is better know today thru their prophecy seminars, and specify a more futurist view than the classical Historicism, such as Robert Caringola.
Why would I entertain Historicism, which seems outdated, speculative and inconsistent? The unchanging thrust of all Historicist frames is the day==year metric for prophecy, and that the identity of the Papal church-state system of the middle ages was the predicted anti-Christ beast of Rev 13a. This idea was central to all Protestants for several hundred years. Every reformer from Luther, to Calvin, Wycliffe, Wesley, Huss, Jerome, down to Spurgeon had the same interpretation o Rev 13a. The reformers were all Historicist. I never knew that. This peaked my interest again. In addition, the Historicist believers experienced the prophecy of torment and persecution from pagan to Papal Rome and beyond. Why did the church move away from the Historicist frame and evolve into the Futurism we see today? There are answers.
The Four Frames of End Times Interpretation
Before I go down any further tangents, I would like to summarize the beliefs within each eschatology frame. I will not give a comprehensive detail of each, but an overview. To know the history as to the What and the Why of each is left to be found in the references.
Sometimes referred to the Spiritual view of the end times. The Idealism Frame resists interpreting Biblical prophecy to have specific historical fulfillment, but rather repeated general fulfillment. The roots of the idealist view traces back to church fathers Origen (AD 200’s) and Augustine (AD 375) and formed the basis of the universal Catholic doctrine that allegorizes the church and prophecy. As the church left their Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish roots, their doctrines were spiritualized, meaning Israel became the church, prophecy became the background of good vs evil. Allegory and metaphor became common as a hermeneutic for prophetic scriptures. Thus, when the Historicism frame came onto the scene from 1100-1500’s during the height of Papal abuses, and the reformers specified the Papacy and Papal system as the antichrist, that was a departure from the status quo. The spiritual view could not hold water to the tangible, hard experiences of history and the Catholic church, as part of the counter reformation, created Preterism and Futurism from their Jesuit priests Alcazar and Rebira. The deflection worked it’s way into academia. By the 20th century, many protestant seminaries abandoned Historicism and its critique of Catholic history to favor a Preterist or Futurist frame. Many like the Anglican, Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations now have an Idealist Frame for Revelation.
Strengths of this frame allow for applied theology to one’s life in an easier, simpler interpreted way. Revelations is about the good guys vs the bad guys. God’s way vs the World’s way. It can be compelling. The modern day “Bible Project” takes this position and explains Revelation in a spiritual frame.
The weaknesses of the frame include an inconsistency between the OT apocalypse of Daniel vs NT apocalypse of Revelation. Daniel is consistently interpreted within a historical context seeing Babylon, Persian, Greece and Rome as legit fulfillment without much question and yet all of the NT equivalent has zero historical fulfilled prophecy? Second, while spiritualizing Revelation is great for application, this hermeneutic is often used by liberal theologians to justify and advocate more of a social-political causes, rather than a sovereign LORD who will conclude history in resurrection and judgement. What do you conclude?
Preter, or sometimes spelled praeter, is the Latin word meaning past. Preterism is the end times frame that interprets the prophetic scriptures, especially Revelation, as fulfilled in the past, and specifically in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, or perhaps extending to the fall of Rome in AD 476.
There are two camps within Preterism: partial or full. A partial Preterist would see all or most of Revelation referring to Jerusalem in AD 70, but they still believe in a future physical resurrection/judgement at a time when Christ appears again. The full or hyper Preterist sees Revelation and all NT scripture supporting the idea that all prophecy is done and fulfilled, including the return of Christ, resurrection and judgement. We are in the new heavens and earth. The scriptural arguments for partial Preterism is weak compared to full because the full preterist frame says all prophecy and eternal significance is fulfilled by the first advent and subsequent coming kingdom . Once a person goes down that path, every verse looks like a nail to hammer. I would ask then, where are the songs of joy among the nations? Where is the peace in the streets and abundant joys? In this life, we see dimly and at time experience a piece of eternity, but the fullness is yet future. No, Preterism is an overreaching dream. The partial Preterist tends to be pragmatic, believing to have the insightful prophetic answers and still hold the orthodox respect of a future parousia.
The strength of the Preterist frame is the repetitive imagery of the scripture, specifically the symbols and 7’s in Revelation, the importance of the OT-NT covenant transition, the parallels of the Olivet Discourse and specifically the time references in Revelation to “soon” and the Matthew 24 reference to “this generation”.
The weaknesses of the frame start with the non-negotiable date of AD 65-66 for Revelation. Such a date implies an immediate and meager 4-5 years of prophetic fulfillment before it is spearheaded from Asian Minor to Jerusalem? Why did Jesus give it in Asia Minor and not to believers in Jerusalem if it was for them? Second, Jesus already gave an inspired word thru Matthew, Mark and Luke in the Olivet discourse. The Judean believers were well prepared for the Roman conquest (Along with Daniel) and didn’t need Revelation. No, Revelation is believed to be written near AD 95-96 by the majority of scholars and that alone destroys the preterist argument. Preterism ultimately takes the safe route with a tidy package of fulfilled prophecy.
I reference the works of Bruce Gore and Mike Rogers for a pro-preterist view. I reference Karl Tester and his 26 YouTube series as a legit presentation against Preterism.
Note: I do not fully agree or condone any specific teaching of my referenced sources. Use your brain and discern with the Spirit!
The Futurist frame is the predominant and most popular frame within evangelical Christians since the mid 1800’s. In the 1830’s, the Plymouth Brethren from Ireland and England started the modern Dispensational theological system. One of the core teachings is that the Bible has promises for modern day Jews, who are still elect in God’s eyes. This was a major change from reformed/replacement theology that identifies Israel as the spiritual remnant by faith, and nothing to do with DNA. The Dispy view was accelerated by the Scofield Reference Bible and became central in Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal churches. The Dispy view is a Futurist frame because they interpret all of Revelation, Matthew 24 and Daniel as yet to be fulfilled in history. Another movement in the 1800’s were the Millerites, who became the Seventh Day Adventists. They are Historicist, but have a broader Futurist take than typical Historicists. SDAs continue to offer popular prophecy conferences today.
The strength of the Futurist frame is the anticipation and hope of Christ coming as King, bringing full redemption and establishing his kingdom. Most sober believers would admit this is a future event in a large measure. Another strength is the call to be ready for Christs return.
The weaknesses are several. One is a disregard for good Biblical hermeneutics for prophecy, where scripture interprets scripture. Futurist make simple projection because a future projection can never be disproven. The scale of deflecting the majority of prophecy to the future is also unsettling, when history can confirm passages and reflect the sovereign hand of God thru history. Speculating into the future is easier than the work of interpretation of history and a consistent eschatological frame for God’s people. A final weakness is the Rapture doctrine that will scandalize believers under tribulation if incorrect.
In fairness, I have tried to circle back recently and consume more contemporary Futurist material, apart from the popular Dispensational view. I would note that the Pre-wrath rapture view offers a more consistent approach to the scriptures, and one I could possibly support. I have also found teacher Joel Richardson to be a Futurist who is more compelling in his arguments and honest in his Biblical studies.
The Historicist frame interprets Biblical prophecy as being fulfilled by actual historical events throughout the current 2000 year church period. Just as we can see the Lord’s care and hand with Israel over the OT millennia in the Prophets, so it is with Historicism and prophecy in the New Covenant era. Primarily in Revelation, but affirmed in other NT writing, the Historicist frame is rooted in the whole history of the church age.
Historicism was started back in the 1100’s in the church and popularized by Nicholas of Lyra in 1300. By the 1500’s, the reformers fully embraced the frame and asserted that the Papal power, who was killing believers, was antichrist. This view carried thru the 1800’s and was climaxed by Elliott’s renowned literary piece, The Horae Apocalypticae.
The strengths of the frame is a consistency from OT to NT in prophetic nature of scriptures. There is no spiritualizing. Many of the reformers who held the view were martyrs. This is not true for the content Preterist or speculative Futurist. The frame allows for a flexible view on the millennium, the Kingdom of God, and the people of God (physical/spiritual).
The weaknesses appear to the inconsistent interpretations of the Revelation symbols being applied into history. Who is to say one symbol is this king or that? I would note that Daniel 11 is a minutia of detail for fairly irrelevant inter-testament history, as commented by scholars. Why the weird detail? God has his ways, but the key task is to have a frame that is consistent, accurate, and believable. Historicist have a harder issue with believable.
Perhaps because it is my most recent study, but I am discovering that Historicism, and a comprehensive version of that idea to be the most and best possible frame to interpret OT and NT Biblical prophecy. As I go forward in the blog, I will be using all 4 frames to picture a comprehensive frame that is distinctively Historicist, but contains Preterism, Futurism and Idealism as well.
Next is a detail of my sources.
Comprehensive, History, Theology
Arnold, Eberhard. 1977.The Early Christians. Rifton : Plough Publishing House, 1977. p. 367. Early Christians.
Bock, Darrell L. 1999.Three Views on the Millenium and Beyond. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1999. p. 321. Theology, Millenium.
Gregg, Steve. 1997.Revelation Four Views, A Parallel Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1997. p. 505. Theology Revelation.
Grenz, Stanley J. 1992.The Millenial Maze. Downers Grove : Intervarsity Press, 1992. p. 239. Theology, Millenium.
My studies led me to three pre-emptive questions that play a big deal in the theology and emphasis of one’s eschatology (Study of End things). Those questions are:
What/Where is the kingdom of God? (addresses earlier)
How legitimate is the authority of Roman Catholic Church teaching today?
Who/Where is Israel today?
Christians mix and match over these questions, and few know the origins of their beliefs. Many Christians hold to the doctrines passed down from their denomination over hundreds of years, and never question otherwise. The answer to these three questions are the dividing paths of the theologians and teachers.
Cautiously to note, many, if not all fringe groups, cults, unorthodox teaching do originate when those questions are answered with their own interpretive meanings, for their own formative purposes. But if we never question, then the reformation itself was a false event, and even the most ardent Catholic can’t deny the benefits of the Open Bible upon the world since the 1500’s.
Here is a short list of comments and thoughts to help answer those formative questions.
Historicism is the only frame that specifically and historically challenges the punitive, immoral, and presumptuous church-state system of the dark ages.
Preterism and Futurism were created in the counter reformation by Catholic Jesuit monks Alcazar and Ribera to deflect the anti-Christ label away from the Pope.
Amillennialism, the Idealist frame, and spiritualizing scripture as allegory evolved in and through the church, and was formalized by Augustine (AD300’s), which further alienated Israeli descendants from the church, established a vertical and deep power structure of organization rather than a faithful local pastoral authority, awaiting his master’s instruction and return. Reform still happened within RCC and their orders of priests, but corruption also grew unchecked. Historicist see this era as the “falling away” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2.
The sexual immorality within the Catholic Priesthood due to celibacy and other factors has led to rampant unnatural homosexual relationships and a shearing of conscience. This is perhaps the loudest voice to reject the Papal order of church government.
In 2 Thess 2 , Paul says the Man of Sin cannot be revealed until a power holding him back is removed. Several early church fathers, including Jerome of the 400’s, identified imperial-pagan Rome as that power to be removed. Once the Roman empire declined, a power vacuum arose and the bishop of Rome, in the world’s capital, rose up. 10 states in Europe formed from the AD 476 decline. Three of the German states were of the Arian belief, and they were put down by Rome and the Papacy established. Take a look at Daniel 7. Throughout the centuries, the Papal office has fulfilled the boasting, deification, and persecution symbolized by Rev 13a. and Daniel 7.
No one is faulting Catholic people who may have a sincere saving faith. But the evolved doctrines have lead many to trust in works and merit.
History shows that many common Christians have died at the hands of either the Muslim sword or Catholic inquisition. Verses from Daniel: 7:25, 8:25, 9:27, 12:7 speak to events up to the end of the OT age, but reflect into the NT age. Thus, in Revelation 12-19 we see the NT prophecies of persecution continue pointing to Rome and Mecca, and Christ coming for rule and vindication.
The Israel/Jew discussion is very complex. I have heard the pro and anti Jewish positions. Most people think there are only two groups who can call themselves Israel: Spiritual Israel, by faith; and ethnic/DNA Israel, who are modern Jews. But really there are three, and the Historicist frame recognizes a physical Israel of two houses, and a remnant spiritual Israel, by faith.
The word for Jew arose during Babylonian and Persian dominance, 600-500 BC, and derived from the Hebrew people being associated with the tribe of Judah, along with Levites and Benjamin tribes. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not a “Jews”, but were Hebrews. Religiously, a Jew was associated with Judea, and followed Judaism. Jesus clearly rebuked the religion, not the truth in the OT law and prophets.
Israel was divided by the Lord into two houses, two kingdoms: North/South (1 Kings 12:24). The Northern kingdom was called House of Israel, or sometimes Ephraim or Joseph. The southern kingdom was called House of Judah. The northern 10 were 100% disobedient, rebellious and scattered to the gentile nations in 720’s BC and lost their identity. They are the younger brother, like Joseph to Judah. Judah was taken in captivity to Babylon for 70 years (605-535 BC). A small number of Jews, around 45,000 returned to Jerusalem after captivity. The Jews were scattered from AD 70 to AD 135 by Imperial Rome. Thus, there is Israeli DNA among the gentiles (nations) throughout the world from those 10 tribes, and the Israeli-Jewish-Judah DNA is among the Jewish people of today. The nation of Israel at the time of Christ were mainly Judah, because the northern kingdom had been divorced and the branch cut off. The Jews received the judgements given in Matthew 22-24 because they did not recognize their Messiah.
The New Covenant was with Israel, as was the old covenant at Sinai, and promised in Jeremiah 33:31-34 (To both houses), was confirmed in Hebrews 8:8-12 (to both houses). When did this new covenant become valid, if not the covenant at Calvary? (Dan 9:27) Salvation first came to the Jews, the House of Judah. Then believing gentiles had to be included from the House of Israel for the prophecy and fulfillment to be true. (See Rom 9:24-28, Genesis 48:19, 49:22-26, Hosea 1:10-11, 3:4) The redemption under the new covenant extends to ALL nations, just as the “foreigner” was able to join Israel in the Old Covenant.
Judaism evolved from the Jews in Babylon and followed writings of the Talmud and not strict Torah. Many writings of today reject Jesus as Messiah, and thus confirms the current state of hardening spoken of in Romans 11:25, but remain under the promises, Rom 9-11.
Israel means to struggle/wrestle (I like that) with God. Israel was chosen by God to be his people from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and given the blessings (Deed and Seed), and promises to reach all nations thru their posterity (populations) and faith. Other nations were not specifically chosen, elect, to fulfill his purposes, but all peoples/nations/gentiles/Jews can receive the free redemption of grace found in Christ by faith and become a son of God. In Christ, we all become remnant spiritual Israel, true Jews, fulfilled messianic Jews, or redeemed gentiles, and share in the spiritual callings and blessings. We see God work, his sovereign plan for the nations thru his chosen people.
The definition of God “Choosing” a people for a purpose to bring salvation to all nations is a stark contrast to the Augustinian and modern Calvinist definition where God, by grace, chooses salvation for individuals. In Calvinism, human volition, and purpose is given after being elect to salvation. The first, by grace, combines election and purpose, while the second, Calvinism, separates them. As the Un-reformed Disciple , I have been embracing more of the first as I seek to understand Why God chose Israel and Why he loved me.
In good humor, I summarize my view of the four frames:
I hope you can see the differences.
Hermeneutical History of Revelation
The diagram below shows progression of the four frames of eschatology thru church history and some of their modern manifestations.
Covid-19 has brought much loss and anguish upon mankind. We have lost loved ones, businesses, school experiences, our waistline, sanity. Sometimes we can’t rationalize what causes more pain; Is it the fear of being sick and dying, or the constant grind of cancelled events, zoom fatigue, and foggy-mask eye glasses? Most of us have heard the Bible phrase: The Gospel. The Gospel meaning has assumed many facets over the years. A common thought is likely the name given to any of the first four books in the New Testament Bible. Some call “The Gospel” a four point road map to get to heaven. Today’s progressive Christian would pass the idea of any good deed or word that establishes the Kingdom of God. In simplistic form, The Gospel means Good News. We could all use some of that these days.
In Part 2 of the series, we ended The Beginning of Sorrows with the expectation of false prophets and lawlessness during that time. Yes, right, it was a rough time for the followers of Jesus in the 34-66 AD years, and I projected there to be a tough go for those of us at the End. However, before all Hell is to break loose, or something close to it, we are given a word about the Good News. The Beginning of Sorrows did and will come, but before the climactic judgment from God upon rejecting Israel, Jesus prophecies that His message would go throughout the whole world. In like manner, during the final end, there will be a renewed advancement of The Gospel to all the nations, even while hearts grow cold, lawlessness increases and society begins to shake. The advancement of the kingdom of God, while many fall away, is a prophetic truth. One of the main themes of Matthew 24 and other end time passages is the pattern of salvation AND judgement that are repeated in precise time and history. The Beginning of Sorrows, in step with the gospel message reflects such a pattern.
How did The Gospel Start?
Jesus spent over three years preparing his disciples for the years ahead of them. Day after day he taught them truths of His kingdom, confirmed his message with miracles of healing, and defeated evil strongholds as he liberated souls. Their time would come. After he resurrected from death, he told them:
“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Jesus, Luke 24:46-49
The disciples first brought HOPE in the message of Joshua (Hebrew name) or Jesus (English name) as savior to their Jewish brethren in Jerusalem and the region of Judea. As persecutions came, many of the disciples were scattered from Jerusalem after the stoning to death of Stephen around 34 AD (Acts 7). Then Deacon, Philip, reaches out to the mixed race of the Samaritans (Acts 8). Tradition tells of Apostles going to the far regions of the Roman empire, from Paul to Briton and Apostle Thomas to India. Just before his ascension back to heaven, Jesus tells the disciples that his message would disperse from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the world. That progression happened exactly as Jesus foretold.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jesus, Acts 1:8
During the Beginning of Sorrows period, the first century Christians endured hardships for their faith. All the Apostles, except John, died as martyrs by 70 AD, including Paul. But the seed of the gospel went out to the whole civilized world BEFORE Jerusalem fell, just as Jesus prophesied that evening on the Mount of Olives.
The seeds of the Gospel were planted and the world was set on fire by their message. In 300 years, even the mighty Roman empire would be tamed by the faith of Christians, and not by the sword. History records the struggles of the early Christian believers. We see some of that during the OT-NT transition period when Jewish and Gentile believers were persecuted for the upheaval this new teaching brought. Much of this is in the NT scriptures. As time moved on, the Roman Empire became the agent of death for over two centuries, but the message could not be stopped. I have mentioned type/anti-type before. A minor event foreshadows a larger future event. The successful and rapid spread of the Gospel in the early years throughout the known world is a type of the End times, where the Gospel will again rapidly spread during a period of crisis. The figure below shows the first century spread. See figure 1.
A Good but Difficult Message
The Gospel is great news! It is the message of the eternal life and love given for mankind. The cost was tremendous for God, giving his Son, and we receive salvation as a free gift, by faith. This is the grace of God, unmerited favor, but with reflection.
But what did Jesus mean when he said, :“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matt 24:13? Quite simply, some will lose faith and give up on God. The parable of the sower is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is a parable that fully reflects the response of mankind to God’s Word. It is a difficult parable because 3 of the 4 scenarios speaks to people who do not end well with God.
During the 34-66AD time, the new believers of The Way faced rejection, betrayal, prison and death. Under the Roman Empire, there would be 10 waves of persecution toward Christians, including torture, confiscation of property, prison and death by crucifixion, burning at the stake, or given to the gladiator games for sport. Our forefathers of faith followed Christ to the end of their days, and the message became stronger and spread.
As believers today, How far are we willing to go for the name sake of Jesus Christ? The difficult times at the End will inflict upon the church a shaking and sifting effect. If you profess the name of Christ, you need to build up your faith and others and be satisfied in nothing but His love, His call, His mercy.
Must Be Born Again
Before the Messianic age, Old Testament people had a fear of God (as holy divine and judge) and a faith in the God of Israel (as creator and sovereign) which together established a living faith and a hope of salvation. The Biblical stories portray many of the saints conscience of their sin, and yet they worshiped YHWH in faith. Abraham believed God and faith was credited to him as if he was righteous. King David, a passionate warrior, fell badly into sin. Yet, he was a man after God’s own heart. It appears that people of the OT were able to have faith and a believing, living heart towards God.
The OT law itself compelled the Israelis to be circumcised in their hearts, which is a metaphor for cutting off their selfish and bad pursuits. This idea of a circumcised heart is the OT equivalent to being “Born Again” in the NT.
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
Moses, Deuteronomy 10:12-16
In a salvation condition, Old Testament Israelites and converts would have been born again, as portrayed in the NT context, except the Spirit was not given in power until the Messianic age as part of the mysteries and prophesies within the OT. As a whole, Israel was given the Law and entered into covenant with the LORD. But we see in the NT why they failed.
The Law of God is true and perfect, but unable to motivate our hearts. In fact, knowing the Law gives power to the desires of the sinful nature, which tempts people to sin more, and Israel did greatly sin and suffered loss. The Spirit would address that issue in the NT. However, OT saints died with faith and a hope of a realized kingdom and eternal home.
Jesus instructs the seeking Nicodemus to be “born again” (John 3:3-10). Regrettably, many of the Pharisees were into following the law to earn approval from God and missed the call to a circumcised heart change. As people in the Messianic age, we still need to fear God for His holiness (agree that we sin) and then believe and trust (for God to forgive). We are then “Born” by faith into God’s family, but now in the NT, we have the Holy Spirit changing our hearts and indwelling us. We become children of God who are to live according to His kingdom’s laws. (Romans 8:1-4) As NT people, we understand better the How’s? and Why’s? of our salvation. In essence, knowing Jesus is our salvation.
When the Good News is preached, the power of God is able to effect the cold, hard and dead consciences of man by giving a new life of faith to the hearer who believes. This is a mystery, but the way I see it is: God calls lovingly, sovereign, and effectually and man responds by free will with the measure of faith he has. In the gospel of John, we read:
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
In John 3:5, Jesus told Nicodemus, ” You must be born again of water (Human) and Spirit (supernatural) to enter the kingdom of God (to be a part of His family and live a life for that kingdom).” It is not enough to be born human from the water of our mothers. Race and ethnicity are nothing to actual faith. Some of us will be born supernaturally by the work of the Spirit.
A Power not their Own
How did these twelve men and their friends get the courage to revolutionize the world? The key factor in the success of the Apostles was the soul and heart filling of the Holy Spirit, who now gives spiritual power to NT believers. We read where some OT saints had great faith. They had the Spirit’s presence and sometimes were overcome in power as the Spirit came upon them. But OT saints did not have an indwelling Holy Spirit. I have concluded that nowhere in the OT did the LORD give knowledge or instruction that the saints would be in dwelled or have a Spirit circumcised heart. Some spoke to the Messianic age! The prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah both announce this NT truth of a new covenant with Israel. Life with a heart and the Law written on it, and an indwelling Spirit given to the House of Israel and House of Judah.
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Prophet Ezekiel 36:26-27
33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Prophet Jeremiah 31:33
As one reads the NT scriptures and the teachings of Jesus, the fulfillment of this change comes into focus.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus, John 14:16-18
Jesus did not leave them alone when he ascended to the Father. As believing Christians, we too can have that same presence of God within, a filling and power from God in order to fulfill His calling for our lives. The Holy Spirit will guide, give comfort, wisdom, spiritual gifts, transform our character, and give us boldness as Children of God.
When does one get the Spirit?
Jesus mentions two baptisms that his followers would need to experience in order to follow him and have a faithful and abundant life. One is water and the other is fire/Spirit.
There are two ideas for the word baptism. One means to “wash off the dirt”, to cleanse or dip in water. The other means to “transform the object” in the water. (Like a cucumber in brine becoming a pickle) Likewise, fire may warm you or often burn you, but that is different than cook you!
When a person comes to faith in a holy God and trust in the resurrection for eternal life, it is important that they get baptized in water. Why? Water baptism is an act of faith, and of obedience that brings a spiritual change. It is not salvation itself, but rather an important step of that process. Symbolically water baptism represents one who is buried with Christ (in water) and raised to a new life with Him. Effectually, the faith act is like the washing away of past guilt, and giving a clean conscience. The spiritual change of water baptism is a transformed mind/soul and a clean start in our relationship with Christ. It’s like a fresh shower and a new set of clothes, but spiritual. This is called the baptism of repentance for sins. Note that people still under the old covenant were able to believe, repent. Some were baptized by John the Baptist.
It is a contentious subject within Christian theology as to when the Holy Spirit is given, and What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (BotHS)? The options appear to be: 1. When you believe. 2. When you ask for Him. 3. Sometime after faith.
In Acts 18, Apollos is preaching in Ephesus. He is preaching salvation, winning souls, and baptizing with water, for repentance. He doesn’t know about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, only John’s baptism, until Priscilla and Aquila come along and instruct him, and he leave for Achaia. In Acts 19, Paul comes along and tells 12 people at Ephesus of the Holy Spirit, they are baptized in Jesus’ name and they receive the Holy Spirit as a gift and speak with tongues. It is pretty clear in Acts 18-19 there could be water baptized believers, who worshipped and received forgiveness thru repentance, but did not have this Spirit baptism
Yet, John 7:37-39 and John 20:22 show how the promised Spirit was given to the apostles after Jesus was glorified, and a few days later they then get this gift of the HS.
In my study, I believe we receive the Holy Spirit in faith-seed form when we first believe. It is a deposit. It gives us a mark, an inheritance. But we may still be in control, carnal, driven by the flesh and temptation, partially or mostly self seeking. We may be spiritually awake, knowing God, loving him at times, but the world at other times. I also see the need to make Christ LORD, by faith, of all areas of our lives, and then ask him to fill us with the Spirit. When we do, we allow the Law to be the delight of our hearts, the fruit to come forth, the gifts to flow. The baptism of the Spirit is not us getting more of the Spirit, but the Spirit getting more of us.
In Apostle Peter’s first sermon, he said:
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Apostle Peter, Acts 2:38-39
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God that has the on going, daily effect of a transformed new life and desire for God. As we mature in faith and confront the difficulties of life, the Holy Spirit will show us layers of our sins and vises to repent about and allow God to forgive and help overcome. The Spirit will transform and renew our bodies and minds like a cucumber to a pickle, and give us power to be agents of change. This is the work of the Holy Spirit and why we need Him and his gifts in order to stay strong in faith. Having the Spirit within and in control, enables a person to endure hardships and still worship God. The Spirit will witness to the believer’s spirit that they are children of God. This union is the foundation so we can endure in faith to the End.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
I John 4:13
Most significantly, it is the leading and power of the Spirit that compels and enables followers of Jesus to be true witnesses to the world.
SIDE BAR : Judgement and Salvation in OT
Figure 2 below expands the timeline for the Old Testament age. The book of Daniel covers this time period (And some beyond). There are two specific judgements mentioned in Daniel. The first is fall of Jerusalem in 605-537 BC to Babylon, and the second is the 66-70AD fall of Jerusalem to Rome. Each event had LOTS of WARNINGS from the prophets, while also including the promise of salvation. In the Babylon judgement, Israel was promised a restoration after 70 years. In the Roman judgement, Israel was promised their messiah, who would make an atonement for sin and bring salvation in righteousness. Several verses are included below.
The Latter Rain
During the first century, the fruit of the gospel was going out in seed form, through the preaching of the Apostles. The message was confirmed with miracles and the power of the Spirit in the breaking the grip of sin. The great mystery of God was spreading like wild fire; that being the Gentile nations were now gathered as the people of YHWH through a New Covenant. A new religion, a new movement, brought converts and resistance. As stated earlier, and true to Jesus words in Matt 24:14, the Gospel reached the known world at that time. True to the frame I am presenting here, a second outpouring of the Gospel thru the NT way of the Spirit, is expected at the Time of the End. Why do I say that? How do I support that?
Students who associate with Hebrew tradition know that the Hebrew calendar has established 7 feasts for worship. The feasts follow the agricultural cycles. There is an early spring harvest specifically bringing in the wheat. The first of the early harvest is called First Fruits. Then you have a dry summer season, followed by the greater fall harvest where multiple crops supply the abundance of food for winter. We can see the plan of salvation and the eschatological blueprint through the feasts pattern. Amazingly, the prophetic scripture foretell the initial spread of the gospel in the first century, symbolically called the Spring rain. The final End time harvest of the Fall, is called the Latter Rain.
The Spring feasts were:
Passover – A lamb is killed to Passover the angel of death when in Egypt. Symbolic: Jesus was the passover lamb, killed for our death.
Unleavened bread- yeast cleansed from the house. Symbolic: Jesus was a sinless sacrifice, we need to be sinless before God.
First Fruits – The best and first of grain offered, 3 days after Passover. Symbolic: Jesus is first-fruits of resurrection and rose 3 days after Passover.
New Grain – presented 7 Sabbaths+1 after first fruits. Symbolic: Holy Spirit given at Pentecost, 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is the early harvest of the church.
Jesus is the first fruits of resurrection. (I Cor 15:20). The day of Pentecost brought the Holy Spirit to his people and began the first harvest of souls from the Good News. On that Pentecost day, Peter quotes from the Prophet Joel 2:17-21 about the promise of the Spirit being “poured out” on Israel’s young and old men who will dream visions. It is the new order of spiritual life. Two verses down in Joel we read:
We can look back at church history and see this verse unfold. The Gospel spread in purity and power under Roman persecution from 30-313 AD. Constantine made Christianity the norm. As one would expect, the church began to syncretize with the pagan religions of the empire and nations. The ecclesiastic orders began to favor wealth and status ahead of faith. The joining of religion with the political grew into the Papacy and papal states, and brought a 1000 years of the middle and dark ages. The falling away saw missions dry up. Only Europe and England were reached in measure. When the reformation came in the 1500’s, the light grew, the Bible became Open, and the gospel message was revived. From the 1700’s to present, the Good News has thrived again.
The Hebrew fall feasts point to the time of the Latter Rains, or the end time harvest. While the early rains harvested the fewer numbered from Israel, the latter is the larger harvest of the gentile nations.
The Fall Feasts were:
Trumpets – Yom Teruah, the day to shout, blow the trumpet. Symbolic: Trumpets are to WARN us of the coming judgement and end harvest.
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement. Symbolic: Forgiveness is never too late, and is available to all who reflect and repent.
Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles. This is a strange custom where the people tent together for a week. They celebrate the harvest. Symbolic: There will be a great feast/supper in heaven with the Lamb of God/Jesus Christ once he returns. Until then, we tabernacle/tent together in anticipation.
Over the centuries, there has been much speculation about the stated condition of the Gospel preached to all nations (per v 14) before Christ returns. In the unprecedented mission movements of the 19th – 20th centuries, people believed they were compelling the return of Christ. Missionaries, Bible translators, pastors, laymen have labored for centuries to bring the Word of truth to all peoples, nations, tribes, and technology is multiplying the efforts and covering the airways. I believe what we have already seen the beginning of the Latter Rain of Joel. See figure 3.
Today, with the help of technology, language barriers and access to distant peoples and closed societies are being overcome. The church is still growing and reaching the nations. The kingdom of God, on earth, has expanded, and growing into that great mountain. (Daniel 2:44) There are still pockets of resistance, and major counter religions like Islam and Buddhism, and philosophies like communism and secularism that oppose the Gospel message. I think this Latter Rain will break up those hardened lands.
SIDE BAR : Judgement and Salvation in NT
Figure 4 below shows the NT age with two periods of judgement and salvation, which is what Matthew 24 is talking about. The first judgement is Jerusalem in 70 AD and reflects the final end of the OT age. The second judgement is upon Mystery Babylon at the end of the NT age. The book of Daniel and other OT prophets tell of the OT judgement. see figure 2. In figures 2 and 4, I show the Beginning of Sorrows (blog, part 2) and the early/latter rain (blog, part 3). The book of Revelation spans the two judgements and other prophetic events in the NT time period. Salvation is given in the atonement of Christ in his first coming. At his second coming, resurrection and rescue from the enemies of God will be our salvation. The LORD did not leave his people in the dark for 2000 years!
Mystery of the NT Kingdom
I mentioned earlier that one of the Mysteries of the first century was the Jew-Gentile changeover into the new covenant. What we see in the scriptures is that the Israel of Jerusalem (the Jews, Judah) had to be let go and judged for unbelief, so the Israel of the gentile nations could be gathered back under the new covenant. Peter says, “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9) It has always been God’s heart to reach the nations. OT Israel was chosen for that purpose, and not chosen only to be blessed. This is true for NT Israel as well.
We see the wise and sovereign plan of God to reach all peoples with his salvation. As the LORD brought the OT age to a close in 70 AD, the OT system faded, and the NT covenant life of the Spirit pursued. We see the ending of the Judah nation in the OT and the gathering of the Gentiles in the following verses.
The prophets Hosea (1:8-11, 2:23, 3:4-5), Isaiah (ch. 11, 50:1) and Jeremiah (3:8) speak of the divorce from the House of Israel, a scattering, and then a gathering and renewal. This is what happened to the House of Israel, who broke the covenant, and became Gentiles. They where then remarried and redeemed under the New Covenant.
Jesus specifically singles out the fall and scattering of Judah and the House of Israel regathering as gentiles in the Olivet Discourse.
24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Jesus, Luke 21:24
Paul gives further insight into the Jew-gentile mystery. In his 3 chapter dissertation about Israel and it’s future in Romans 9-11, he acknowledges the hardening/fall of the Jews, house of Judah, for the sake of the younger brother, Joseph, or house of Israel who became gentiles. He quotes Isaiah 59 and Jeremiah 31 to make the point.
25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
Paul, Romans 11:25-27
The book of Hosea, chapter 6, reads of God calling back Ephraim, the House of Israel, to himself under the New Covenant spring rains. We see the prophetic fulfillment in the ministry of apostle Paul to the Gentiles during the first century as the early/spring rains.
2After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
To top off the point, the NT book of James speaks of the coming of the Lord (Our topic, in case you forgot) and says to work and wait patiently for the fruit of the EARLY and LATE rains. The first centuries saw the early rain. We are seeing the latter rain, if one considers the missions movements, today’s digital reach, and we may yet see another move of revival in the nations.
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
James, the brother of Jesus, v. 5:7
The question before us remains. Is this time of COVID-19 the end of this age; the gathering and harvesting of many souls in the midst of trials? God is working. Not all people will turn cold. Will you receive his salvation? Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead, and he will bring his reward. Will you trust him and believe in him to save you in the Latter Rain?
In Parts 4 and 5, I will strive to answer the question, “What is the Abomination of Desolation”? The AoD, as I like to shorten it, will answer one of the 4 original question given to Jesus. “What is the sign these things are about to take place?”
In the first century, Judea was a hotbed of religious unrest and the region saw climatic distress. The Jewish community had false messiahs with political interest spring up often and were put down by Rome’s iron fist. The Roman Empire had waged war across the civilized world from Syria to Briton to bring about the Pax Romana (peace) and establish Caesar rule. Due to the taxation and occupation, there were always factions wanting to rebel within the non-Roman populus. In the generation after Jesus, the Roman-Jewish war erupted in 66AD in Judea when civil unrest reached a peak with religious motivations.
Judea had a famine during the years of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD). Secular historians such as Tacitus wrote that famine fell upon the entire Roman Empire. Pestilences, diseases and sicknesses are always common after a famine.
Earthquakes were regular in the area of Turkey and recorded to occur in Acts 16th chapter.
The years leading up to the Roman-Jewish wars were the beginning of sorrows foretold by the Messiah in Matthew 24:4-8. The Jewish converted church had been scattered from Jerusalem years before 66AD, and the message was spreading throughout the empire. Yet, many in the House of Judah were blessed to receive faith and be preserved in Jerusalem, right up till the end.
So here we are in 2020. Do we have similar signs? If we look back over the past 100 years of modern history, we can see some awakening stats.
Currently, we have the pestilence of Covid-19, attributed to have killed 879,000 world wide (as of 9/2/20). The numbers are still low compared to previous plagues, but there was never a concerted world effort to communicate and suppress the effects, with modern medical help as we have now. Who knows of the casualties without the advancements? Many epidemiologist are labeling Covid-19 as a hundred year plague, and certainly one that is potentially lethal and can spread vivaciously, independent of set conditions like malaria, AIDS, Cholera and Typhus.
Typhus (430 BC? – today): Killed 3 million people between 1918 and 1922 alone, and most of Napoleon’s soldiers on Russia
Before I leave the subject of sickness and disease, each of us has to wrestle with the concept that an all loving God can also allow or even cause calamity, and still be true to His personhood. The Bible says he sends trials to discipline and judge his people first. Those who claim to follow him, who have seen his blessings, and have been called by him are his people. Outside of faith, the scriptures say God will be patient and longsuffering with the unbeliever as the message of hope and salvation reaches out forbearing judgement. While some people question the existence of God or doubt a future return of Christ and Judgement, the Apostle Peter said otherwise.
2 Peter 3:8-10: 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Apostle Peter on the Patience of God
What of false teachers of today? Modern churches abound with teaching that minimizes the holiness of God to promote self-hope, self-reliance, self-indulgence. Our wealth has blinded us, compelling us to preserve and justify our self delusions. More on this issue later.
What about war? Millions have died from war in the past 100 years, more than anytime in history. The past century gave us the titles of two World Wars and the atomic age.
What about earthquakes? Below is a graph showing major earthquakes increasing in frequency over the past 20 years. Could this mean something? Maybe.
In the early church, Christians were first called people of “The Way”, and labeled a Jewish sect by the secularists. They worshiped YHWH on the Sabbath, and attended synagogue apart from the temple worship. We see throughout the epistles of Paul that opposition from Jewish authorities was strong in the first years. The phrase, “fall away” is also translated, “take offense”. The message of Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah was received by many as it was told in the synagogues. It was also an offense to some, even family. The first generation of Christians, The Way, were hated by their former Jewish brothers and many were betrayed! If one follows the life of Saul in the Book of Acts, you see the amazing story of a young Jewish Pharisee who killed Christians, and then became a believer himself.
This is the path for real believers in Christ in the last generation. In times when God acts more directly, there are greater results and consequences. The world’s system and powers will isolate, hates the values, and even kill Christians for their faith. Persecutions will come from society, and worst, lukewarm Christians will betray those who seek to live for Jesus in a sacrificial way, proclaiming His lordship over everything. Jesus told his disciples:
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
Within the Christian world are various teachings about “How it all ends”. What you believe is shaping you into a posture that will either rest in the provision and glory of Christ, or devolve into part of the world’s system.
As the hand of Rome grew heavier, the Jewish factions continued to grow and expanded, waiting to throw off Rome by force. The truth that their Messiah had come and brought a Kingdom of God was lost in the passion for power and freedom. In the generation after Christ, following the law of Moses, the Torah, was forsaken for nationalistic goals, with prophets who supported their message. The heart for and pursuit of God was forsaken for both a self righteous legalism and violent politics. As revolutionaries arose, religious sentiment of a delivering messiah would also bolster the message. All this build up and culminated in the Roman-Jewish War of 66-70AD. The believers of the 30-70 AD generation endured much persecution. We will see in part 4 how God saves them from the desolation of the city.
In our world of 7 billion people, we have instant news and communication, powerful economic and military resources, and claim the most advanced civilization. Yet, our modern politics are becoming more divisive and more antagonistic across the world. Our world is very small compared to modernity of 50 years ago. We have instant and shared communications. Our knowledge has grow so much and the ability to record every detail is exponential. Are we headed for a one world utopia between mankind? There are Christian end-times frames that expect mankind to “flourish” and the church to overtake the main societal structures. Yes, the Bible speaks of a church triumphant, with Jesus putting all authorities under his feet and rule. It is possible for the gospel to reach all nations and peoples, and still have the powers of the world to be hostile. More of that in Part 3.
In the last generation, expect violence to rise in the Name of God, Christ and other Idols. Religion will be leveraged for power. Lawlessness will arise against neighbor and love for God and fellow man will be less. Not to be over dramatic, but since Covid-19, are we not seeing a loss of love and increase of lawlessness? 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of a Man of Lawlessness. Who is that?!? I will cover that later, but rest assured He supports lawlessness at The End.
Coming back to false prophets and deception. This will happen to many religious people. Not only will there be false prophets with signs and wonders, they will preach a message of peace and safety, not a message to repent and be saved. The politically correct church has already compromised their doctrines and will support the use of force to conform the masses. They will support killing other Christians. Widespread cynicism will make the hearts of many grow cold.
Every Day is the Same
Are we at the Beginning of Sorrows that repeat the judgments of 70 AD? You might question fairly; Have we not seen earthquakes and wars over the past 2000 years? Why would our time be so unique? Will this virus really cause a food chain disruption and shortage, leading to world famines? Are you not hyper spiritualizing the text and overthinking it?
One can only work for the good, draw near to the LORD in prayer, study his Word, and wait. That is a difficult challenge, and that is the instruction Jesus gave to his disciples and for us at the end. He said “Observe the signs”. Keep watch. Those who are willing to give up all for the Kingdom of God will have the eyes to see the signs when they appear.
No one wants This to be the end. Young people want a future and a hope of a full, happy life with family, jobs, homes. People like myself want to retire, play with grandkids and enjoy life in peace. I want to encourage you that we can all have the peace of Christ in our hearts when we entrust ourselves to His loving care.
How will people respond who do not believe? *If* this is the beginning of the end, the common person will pass off the signs and only seek to their own self interests. They will accept the solutions and wisdom from man to accept and excuse a system oppressively against the ways of God. Jesus tells about the world’s thinking when He comes back:
Matthew 24: 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Wake up and seek the LORD! Even though a virus may have an impact on a world wide level, don’t seek what is temporal and physical. Man can find the cures, source his own food, rebuild from disaster, but don’t hope in a self serving gospel.
Time will tell if wars, famines and earthquakes begin to happen on a world scale. As this current COVID-19 mess drags on, people will get used to it and a return to God will be slow or stop altogether. We need to be as the parable of the wise virgins, prepared in advance for when things are not available to be purchased – like wisdom and illumination in our vessels.
Romans 13:11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
Whether Covid-19 is the end or not, now is the time to turn to Jesus the Christ, and watch for the Beginning of Sorrows.
In Part 3, I will look at the impact of the Gospel message in the first century, it’s growth, and possible impact towards the End. Will revival and growth happen?
Back in March 2020, as I rested one night in bed, my thoughts consumed me, that the whole civilized world was being directed by multiple communication outlets, coerced by culture, and enforced by institutions to stop life as we know it and remain at home. The world had stopped and it was surreal. The cause was a nasty, exotic, animal virus that mutated into a virulent human-human pathogen (Or is it a bio-weapon from Wuhan?) This created a world pandemic, threatening millions of lives, and catapulting the free world into panic of economic collapse and possibly worst. Since then, there has been a still voice in the back of my mind, which over the days became clearer: What is our creator, our all knowing and all powerful God trying to say to the world thru this event?
We Have to Save Grandpa
I have a dad, age 78, grandpa of 10, who lives in West Virginia and is hunkered down alone in his home. I’m so glad he is and staying away from contact. This has been the call to action; to save the grandmas and grandpas; to shut down, stay away, keep distant. The worst was yet to occur for the US and world. Sorrowfully, there has been loss. The national response went into high gear. Between the American spirit of triumph, and the driving fear of concern, the nation and mankind stepped up to the challenge before them. I remember hearing a lot of, “I cans and we wills”. Does man always want to be the hero and claim the glory? There is a lot at stake in the culture. This blog will not appeal to the ins and outs of the political debate. I applaud every act of service to save those at risk, but the Spirit of Christ within is blowing a trumpet at my soul of something much bigger.
Where am I going with this?
“Where is God in all this mess?”
You may be reading this and wondering if the world as we know it will ever be the same? You may be fearful of the reality of death. You may have a vague faith in a God, a creator, a higher power, and wonder, “Where is God in all this mess?” You may be thinking I am just another fearful voice of wearisome doom. That is a fair thought, lol. But I want to tell you, there are answers. World pandemics are eye candy for the religious zealots of all stripes, types, and gripes. Very few pastors are willing to wade into the realm of understanding the purpose and judgments of God. As the virus expands and weight of economic burden progresses, there will be more voices claiming to know the mind and will of God with respect to Covid-19. Our government is focused on cures and quarantines, and news media is obsessed with stirring political strife. Neither will utter a sliver of truth to the idea that God could possibly know about, allow, or have purpose for this virus pandemic. They will not ask, “Why, God? Where are you? Are we at the End of the Things?” But common people do. You may be asking.
If you tend to be a more pragmatic person, you may have the opinion that God has nothing to do with Covid-19. Your view and belief system just doesn’t see anything negative associated with the Divine being over us all. It is my position that the LORD can do, cause or allow, anything that aligns with the essence of his being. The scriptures in the Bible are full with examples of God allowing negative consequences upon the people who are called by His name. This blog is not going to defend that notion, but rather seek to find the truths and plans in the purposes of God.
Instead of speculating over a few choice Bible verses and amplifying with human interest stories in order to sell a point, I will attempt to present a clear and compelling teaching from Jesus himself.
Signs of His Coming and End of the Age
“Let’s find out about Covid-19 and the End of the World.”
I’m going to talk about the Bible. The truths and secrets of life are revealed in the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus was called the Word, and Jesus has revealed a few things about “the End” as recorded in the parallel Gospels passages of Matthew (24:1-43), Mark (13:1-36) and Luke (17:20-37; 21:5-36). I will reference Matthew as the primary source and call the other gospels to fill in the narrative teaching.
The date is 30 AD, when Jesus and his disciples walk out of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. The temple was a massive structure of wonder. As the sun glistened off massive white marble stone, the disciples give Jesus an elbow of Jewish pride, maybe hoping to bait him into a detail about his impending Messianic rule from Jerusalem. Jesus shocks them and rains on their hope of Messianic domination. He states, “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” The men are stunned. Towards evening, his group leaves the city, walks down the Kidron Valley, and up the hill to the Mount of Olives, which is now higher than the Temple mount, providing a full view in all its majesty. Jesus was sitting, and maybe watching the setting sun shining off the gold pinnacle of the Temple, when his disciples approach him privately. Something is not right. Something didn’t settle with their expectations. They had been taught that the Jewish Messiah would subdue all enemies and reign from Mount Zion, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Micah Ch. 4), and yet Jesus totally deflates their bubble with a declaration of a Temple desolation. Stunned by what Jesus said, the disciples begin to ask him questions. From the three narratives combined, we are told of four questions. They asked, “Tell us, when will this happen?” (Mark 13:4) “What will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7) What will be the sign of your coming?” and “[What will be the sign of] the End of the Age?” (24:1-3)
The Teacher begins a prolonged discourse to answer those four questions, with parables to emphasize and hyperbolic language to symbolize actual historical events. Jesus’ teaching is commonly called, “The Olivet Discourse Teaching”. His descriptive words will instruct his followers of the first century, when persecutions come and the world seems to fall apart as they know it. It is Rome, prophesied centuries before, who will destroy the temple in 70 AD. The fall of Jerusalem and leveling of the temple was the “End of the Age”, the Mosaic age (Old Testament age/aeon).
But there is more. The Anointed One, the Son of God, peered down the halls of time for generations who would read the Gospel of Matthew’s 51 verses in chapter 24, and 46 verses in chapter 25. He refocused the prophetic telescope, past 70 AD, to another time of salvation and judgment during the Messianic, or NT age. The events and signs of Matthew 24 are for the past age, and the present age, down to the last generation. The NT age prophecies will be similar (an anti-type) but much greater in scope.
How is this helpful to you? Bible prophecy is amazingly true and fearfully powerful. We don’t want untrue prophecy and bad interpretations. Many good believing scholars and antagonistic skeptics have laid their claims of success based upon prophecy. Let me help you consider the claims.
Bridging the Gap
They asked, “Tell us, when will this happen?” (Mark 13:4) “What will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7) What will be the sign of your coming?” and “[What will be the sign of] the End of the Age?” (24:1-3)
In Matthew 24, Jesus gives the disciples the longest and most detailed New Testament prophecy about a time of tribulation, an abomination, and a judgment. In my studies, I have found the Olivet Discourse Teachings of Jesus to be central, elevated, and comprehensive to the prophetic road map of the Lord in time and history. Jesus’ teaching in Matthew is the bridge between the OT Apocalypse, the prophetic Book of Daniel, and the NT apocalypse, the Book of Revelation.
Daniel, written in the 5th-6th century BC, prophecies the events of God’s people leading up to and including the coming of their Messiah (prince) and His generation of people. The Book of Daniel is the only OT book Jesus refers to in the Matthew 24/Mark 13 passages. Daniel is a prophetic Type to Revelation and Revelation in the prophetic Anti-type of Daniel. Revelation repeats the same prophetic structure of Daniel, but fulfills its own prophecies during the NT age.
Matthew 24 and the Olivet Teaching is the link, the bridge, to tell us the signs and events leading up to and including the last generation in each age. That is a semi-serious hermeneutical (interpretive method) approach. See chart 1 below, Parallel OT and NT Type/Anti-type.
Am I making this stuff up? The Books of Daniel and Revelation stand alone by themselves, but they also are part of a greater theatre of design for God’s people, the assembly, the church. I am presenting just one frame of interpretation, but believe me, it is well integrated across the Bible scriptures and common interpretations. If you feel overwhelmed by the technical words and details, be patient. Work and study to show yourself approved for understanding and comment.
The LORD fulfills spoken prophecy, and that is a calling sign to us to believe in his sovereign power and purposes. In the wisdom of God, Jesus, the Son of God, now comes to His people under a new covenant, foreshadowed by the law and the prophets. The new aeon would be a deeper life by His Spirit. The details of the Olivet Discourse prophecy, Jesus’ very own words, were amazingly fulfilled in the 40 year generation after his death, culminating in the destruction of the Judean Temple and fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. We have the witness of historian Josephus, and his volumes, as a secular source to confirm the events fortold by Daniel and Matthew 24 in the 30-70 AD generation. The Bible can be trusted because the God who made all things and has a determined end, has spoken thru the prophets of scripture and acted in history.
Note: Placing all prophecy in the future history is called Futurism. Placing all prophecy in the past history is called Preterism. Seeing End Times prophecy stretch from beginning to end is called Historicism. Today, Christian scholars will typically split over the Olivet Discourse as either ALL in the first century, or ALL at the end of time. What I want to communicate to you is that historical events are predicted to repeat in history as prophetic type/antitype events throughout the NT age and unto the End. I give a broader understanding of these theological end-time frames in the blog, “Covid-19 and The End of the World? My Bibliography.” blog post.
Bring it Back Around
After the prophecy, Jesus immediately tells a parable of a fig tree within Matthew 24:32-35.
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.33 So you also, when you see all these things, know thatit is near—at the doors!34 Assuredly, I say to you,this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
So the million dollar question remains, “Is the Covid virus a part of the prophetic end? How close are we, if at all? “
I won’t be foolish and tell you, YES, Covid is the beginning of the end. I cannot say for sure. Many have falsely claimed to be at the end of things in their lifetime, only to produce self promoted speculation. Jesus says to observe his words like the leaves of an olive tree near summer. The first century messianic believers observed the signs of their generation for the prophecy given to them. So can you and I.
Many of you may be in shock with the interpretation that Matthew 24 is not 100% a part of a future-only, end times prophecy. If you can bear with me, I will show you an effective case for the frame I am presenting, and assure you I let the Bible interpret the Bible, without a systematic overlay as best I can. I believe in historically fulfilled prophecy based upon the defined and determined symbols, and Bible given explanations. The LORD is willing to reveal his determined will. Some of it is clear, some is not. The remainder of this blog series will present the text of Matthew 24, discuss the fulfillment in 70 AD, and with an interpretive frame of type/anti-type repetition, project into the future similar fulfillment.
Next time, Part 2 of the blog will begin to breakdown Matthew 24, and you can be assured that pestilence will be addressed.
Over the past year, I have ventured into the battle royal arena of apologetic, theology, philosophy, psychology and sociology. I have been asking and seeking answers to the questions Why? and What? pertaining to Christian faith and practice. Within that search, I am discovering the expanse and extent to the building blocks of faith. Questions of free will, sovereignty, culture and biology all press upon the individual mind and world view. We are complex and yet unique within this vast universe. Consequently, my studies have exposed me to the darker side of faith towards God and a personal relationship: to the experience of doubt and unbelief.
Around 2006, four well know atheist gathered in a home for two hours to engage in free thought. The result was the New Atheism and the label “The Four Horsemen of Atheism.”(1) As such, it is weighty upon my heart to discover and highlight four men, who once embraced the gospel of Christ in their younger years, but have turned away in their prime of life. These four men are smart, influential, and well learned. This blog is my humble, layman’s bit to make sense of such unbelief, and to look to inside answers. These men have made strident claims against the existence of God and Jesus Christ, His son, the Spirit and how the Church is to influence society. To their merit, I have given them the name: The Four Horsemen of Unbelief. I apologize in advance if the reader feels I have misrepresented their person hood. Please reply as you see fit. I do not know them personally, and my analysis may be but a straw man’s view of their soul and beliefs. I am attempting to understand their journey in the knowledge of the truth as revealed in nature, scripture and the Holy Spirit.
Bart Campolo : The Dis-illusionioned Humanist
Bart Campolo is an American humanist speaker and writer. He is the son of Tony Campolo, and was a pastor before transitioning from Christianity to secular humanism.
In 1999, Campolo and his wife, Marty, founded Mission Year, an urban Christian ministry program. It was born out of the merger of their first organization, Kingdomworks, and Campolo’s father’s Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. Mission Year currently serves Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Members of the group “live, work, … and build intentional relationships in marginalized neighborhoods” in order to spread their message and work toward improving the lives of the poor. Mission Year offers short term (week-long) as well as year-long commitments. Bart Campolo sparked some controversy after publishing an article in The Journal of Student Ministries entitled The Limits of God’s Grace. This article, which argues that God is not currently in control of the universe and will eventually and utterly triumph over evil. This was perceived as heretical by many in the evangelical community, most notably by Christianity Today, who drew comparisons between Campolo and Ivan Karamazov.
Following a cycling accident during the summer of 2011, Campolo came to terms with his growing unbelief. He has since announced that he no longer believes in God and has transitioned to Secular humanism. Campolo decided that “He’d help [people] accept that we’re all going to die, that this life is all there is and that therefore we have to make the most of our brief, glorious time on earth.” Applying the tools of the trade that he refined during his Christian ministry, Campolo swapped his former beliefs for secular humanism and continued to help those in need. He became the first Humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California. In a 2014 motivational speech to students on campus, Campolo expounded on how to effectively persuade Christians and other religious people toward humanism as follows: “The question that we need to be asking is not, ‘How do we prove that they’re wrong?’ but it’s, ‘How do we offer people the same values that all people want, but how do we offer those values, not supported by ancient myths or by supernatural fairy tales, but how do we offer them love and goodness and purpose and mission, based on reason, based on common sense?'”(2)
The Un-Reformed Disciple’s Take:
Bart inherited the call to Christian compassion from his father, the popular Tony Campolo. Following our paternal heritage in any venue is a challenge to engage with equal passion. I believe Bart saw the beauty in helping mankind. Because the evangelical community has not been very committed to serving the poor, I can see how Bart may have been discouraged, especially when CT gave him the long-nosed look. Prayers were not answered. Supposed brothers were indifferent or hostile to the very work Jesus called us to: care for the poor. Eventually, he must have felt God didn’t care about why he served, and did not reward his efforts with recognition or life requests. Bart gave up on God making it right in the world, and in his life, and lost hope in eternity. Why spend the extra mental capital to impress God and man when going humanist is emotionally easier?
A humanist looks for the potential in man and in himself. Religion can be self-serving. When we are weak in faith and come into disbelief, we must remember it is not about US. God is first, others second, we are third. God calls us to trust in his LOVE when all looks bleak. Man will fail us.
If Bart reads this, I would admonish him that though his faith is weak and failing, his labors in love were not disregarded. May he take hope again in a loving God.
Psalm 61 1Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Matt Dillahunty : The Philosophical Atheist
Matt Dilluhunty says… I was raised in a loving, Southern Baptist home and was a fundamentalist Christian for over 20 years. After 8 years in the Navy and several years in the hi-tech game, I set out to re-affirm my faith with designs on attending seminary and continuing with a life in the ministry. What began as an attempt to bolster my faith became a continuing investigation into more topics than I ever suspected I’d enjoy.
After the first couple of years, reason forced me to acknowledge that my faith had not only been weakened by my studies – it had been utterly destroyed. The thoughts, writings and wisdom of people like; Robert Ingersoll, Voltaire, Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Farrell Till and many others, helped free my mind from the shackles of religion without a single moment of despair. I continue to study philosophy, religion, science, history and the many other topics which have helped me to understand reality and enjoy my life.
Having spent the majority of my life compartmentalized my religious beliefs to keep them safe from skepticism, it’s thrilling to leave the critical, investigative, hungry portion of my brain turned “on”. While my own pursuit of knowledge is a powerful driving force in my life, I’d also like to prevent others from wasting another day on irrational beliefs. Education is the key …and if my work manages to educate even one person, I’m satisfied.(3)
The Un-Reformed Disciple’s Take:
Matt was overcome by the wisdom of the age and philosophies of this world. He was also overcome by his flesh and the desire to cast off any restraint. Such is evident by the debates he and his wife give promoting sex and access to abortion. I am not sure what to make of his early faith experience and knowledge gained by his upbringing. Being raised in the South, it is ever so easy to slip through youth, riding on the ease of church culture and never face a real crisis of faith, contrast or tragedy to catalyze what we know into the heart. Matt certainly falls in line with the Heb 10:26 experience. What I see missing in him, and a beacon to us, is the Fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1. When we touch and handle the holy things of God is this life without a reverence of moral separation, we risk a hardening and repulsion away from God. Be warned not to take light the presence and holiness of God.
Michael Shermer : The Existential Skeptic
Shermer was once a fundamentalist Christian who sought to share his faith as an undergraduate, but ceased to believe in the existence of God during his graduate studies. He accepts the labels agnostic, nontheist, atheist and others. He has expressed reservations about such labels for his lack of belief in a God, however, as he sees them being used in the service of “pigeonholing”, and prefers to simply be called a skeptic. He also describes himself as an advocate for humanist philosophy as well as the science of morality.
Shermer’s master’s degree in experimental psychology at the California State University, Fullerton, led to many after-class discussions with professors Bayard Brattstrom and Meg White at a local pub—The 301 Club—that went late into the night. These discussions, along with his studies in cultural anthropology, led him to question his religious beliefs. He abandoned his devout religious views, fueled by what he perceived to be the intolerance generated by the absolute morality he was taught in his religious studies; the hypocrisy in what many believers preached and what they practiced; and his growing awareness of other religious beliefs, and how they were determined by the temporal, geographic, and cultural circumstances in which their adherents were born. From this, Shermer came to conclude it is “obvious that God was made in our likeness and not the reverse.” By midway through his graduate training, he removed the Christian silver ichthys medallion that he had been wearing around his neck for years. He completed his MA degree from the California State University in psychology in 1978.
The final step in Shermer’s abandoning religion came when his college sweetheart, Maureen, was in an automobile accident that broke her back and rendered her paralyzed from the waist down. Shermer relates:
When I saw her at the Long Beach Medical Center ER, the full implications of what this meant for her begin to dawn on me. There, in the ER, day after dreary day, night after sleepless night, I took a knee and bowed my head and asked God to heal Maureen’s broken back. I prayed with deepest sincerity. I cried out to God to overlook my doubts in the name of Maureen. I willingly suspended all disbelief. At that time and in that place, I was once again a believer. I believed because I wanted to believe that if there was any justice in the universe — any at all — this sweet, loving, smart, responsible, devoted, caring spirit did not deserve to be in a shattered body. A just and loving God who had the power to heal, would surely heal Maureen. He didn’t. He didn’t, I now believe, not because “God works in mysterious ways” or “He has a special plan for Maureen” — the nauseatingly banal comforts believers sometimes offer in such trying and ultimately futile times — but because there is no God. (4)
The Un-Reformed Disciple’s Take:
Michael wants to believe God exists because he wants the idea of a benevolent God to “Work”. Michael is practical, utilitarian, experiential and scientific. He could not figure out the formula for God, the cause and effect. The truths of sacrifice and forgiveness appealed to his guilty conscience and he desired the blessings of forgiveness. What seems to plague Michael is the ruthless, persistent, ugly tragedy life can bring without justice. Where is God in all that? When we have eyes of faith, God appears brightest in the tragedies. When something in us dies because of tragedy and we have no recourse, God raising us by faith to see ahead, trust and overcome. We get stronger. God is not our servant boy and we the curious scientist of life. Expect tragedy in life. Be grateful you have any blessings at all. Is that a God of love, you ask? Yes, it is, one who is graciously chipping away at our self-reliance, self-sufficiency and self-protection.
Rob Bell : The Radical Rebel
Rob Bell is the most difficult horseman to comment about. Unlike the previous three men, Rob has not abandoned his confession of faith in Christ, but rather by his actions and teaching, he has abandoned Christian orthodoxy in practice, social morals and structure, and elevating natural science. Bell has become a prophet for Christian Post Modernism.
Bell went to Wheaton College in the early 90’s, played in a garage band, and eventually found his calling to the pastorate, but not conventionally. Bell has a natural flair for radical thought to challenge stuffy tradition. He became a rock star pastor in academic, reformed central, Grand Rapids, Michigan leading a church of 11,000 until 2012. He was real, unique, passionate. He began the Love Wins campaign in Michigan and the fall out is one reason he stepped down from the pastorate to pursue a more secular motivational audience.
Bell has departed the historic, orthodox, literal, unique, created, holiness form of Christian Faith and has solidly planted his feet in a Post Modern world view. His Christianized post-modernism not only believes in the “good” of man, but refuses to outright deny universalism. Bell’s insights are yet amazing, connecting suffering to new birth and creativity. This is the metaphor of the Cross and resurrection. Bell claims to seek truth, originating from any religion, but he clearly rejects any dogma as an absolute. Is the Nicene Creed true? Will Jesus physically come back and judge the living and the dead? If there is no Hell, as he promotes, then why would Jesus bother? There is no fear of God because God is only Love, not a holy God to Bell’s world view.
I have listened to Bell give a 2 hour talk on our journey from the big bang to the maximized human potential realization to date. The universe is the creator. Cool and brilliant parallels into life, but no deity, except maybe man in his evolution. The overall PM narrative is man evolving into a one-love utopian society, if we just get the spiritual messages in the Bible and live it.
Bell means well. He supports LGBT rights and marriage. He appears to be bored with Christian assembly in a church, living his dreams to the fullest with no fear of regret. He has been called a top 100 Christian leader, and his influence is expansive. He regularly tours metro areas giving talks on secular applied living with Biblical referenced stories. He has written about a 1/2 dozen books.
The Un-Reformed Disciple’s Take:
Why is Rob Bell a horseman? I intrepidly write this fourth analysis, because it is a sin to cause disunity from a real, confessing brother when public accusation is given. Bell has produced fruit…. but of what kind? Of what fire is his spirit now burning spiritual incense? If Bell is right, and I grant him the possibility, then 2000 years of church doctrine and practice is wrong, culturally irrelevant and short-sighted. The church’s corruption shows the depravity and deserves the fall from the weight of its luxury as seen by the post modern view, yet it’s the bride of Christ and not forsaken. Bell rejects the value of church history except where convenient to draw a metaphor. Scripture is useful, not divinely inspired unto purity and holiness, only love. Bell is in a bubble. He lives in SoCo courting the Hollywood elite, like Oprah, and has flipped traditional sexual morals in its head for the sake of a happy heart, peace, and personal prosperity. Bell gave a preterist eschatology on part of Revelations at Willow Creek. The future judgement as seen in 2 Peter 3:8-9 is spiritualized to fit his world view.
I recently listened to the writings of Eusebius on-line. The struggle of the early church, the early fathers, their martyrdom, holiness, love, sacrifice, purity, is not a fairy tale. I have to reject Rob Bells teaching because I cannot comprehend Peter and Paul listening to Bell and affirming his spirit. Origen of Alexandria, maybe, but not the apostolic fathers and martyrs. I don’t know if Rob Bell has left the faith of Jesus Christ. I pray for him, but he doesn’t appear to be coming back, because he loves the praise of man. Loving the praise of man, their affirmation of one’s empathy and intellect, is the lubricant of the Post Modern view in rejecting a God who will judge. When you follow that world view and promote it, everyone loves you. Jesus said in John 15:
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’<sup class=”footnote” title=”See footnote b” data-link=”[b]”>[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
My brother Rob probably thinks evangelical Christians are the world and persecuting/hating him for living the way Jesus wants…..hummm. But he fails to see that HE has flipped the script. Rob is not preaching the full gospel, unless the gospel has changed from its beginning.
My blog is about becoming less reformed, and knowing why. Calvinism, as expressed in the reformed tradition, is really not able to deal with the four horsemen. A Calvinist would possibly conclude the men were NEVER chosen by God, or never really elected to be saved, and God in sovereignty hardened them for results to his glory. It takes a lot of chutzpa to speak with such certainty about the mind of God of individual salvation. The reality of these men’s experience is mocked by that thesis. Bell is especially difficult because be still professes Jesus, in his new way of sweeping politically correct thought and post modern values that are infiltrating education at all levels and the reformed schools are not exempt. It is the new way to do ministry, and being embraced by once conservative scholars, who are now liberalizing their doctrine. A post modern Calvinist doesn’t have to explain Bell falling away. They simply drink the Politically Correct/Post Modern cool aid and evolve their theology and application to support his views, meaning the truth has changed.
Back to the four. A non-calvinist world view allows for people to walk away from the faith, under the sovereign will of God, but not caused by him. These men were enlightened by the truth of the Word through scripture, and they have rejected the plain meaning where plain should be believed. They are not snatched out of Jesus’ hand, they want to be their own God after experiencing faith in the God of scripture and Spirit. Scripture is full of parables and exhortation to continue, endure, finish, work out, show yourself to be elect in the faith, with the help of the holy spirit, in grace. The experience of the four has no conflict with free will. The Calvinist, who deny the ability to fall away, if regenerated and given faith, after having a dead will, must now assume the post-profession, baptized life of these men to still be in a dead state of rebellion. Their expressions of free will faith were God controlled lies. This is conflicting and frankly irrational. My point is that the faith, heart and soul of these men, who experienced conversion, are a lot closer with the reality of a free will de-converting than a Calvinist view of faked deadness. I John speaks of anti-christ going away, showing they never belonged, but that begs the question for the Calvinist. If God wants you to NOT fall away, you do nothing, he will keep you and motivate you to action (of some kind). If God wants you to indeed fall away, you do nothing, he will bring that about too. Either way is a cop out to act in faith, which is what pleases God. (Heb 11:6) It makes a lot more sense to believe and accept the grace of salvation and commit yourself to persevere in faith unto holiness, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The early church, apostolic fathers, before Calvin never taught the extremes of limited atonement, total depravity, or perseverance in faith all without the consciousness of man and interaction of faith to God’s grace before and after new birth. Even Augustine had provision of the free will, albeit compromised. When the sword and stake of fire are against the church, and brothers are sent simply because they won’t deny Jesus as king and worship an idol to be saved, there is no time to generate such doctrines of privilege and ease to the believer. The interpretation of such “election” passages brought hope to endure personally, and a purposed calling as the corporate elect, not individual unconditional security that allowed denial and compromise.
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.Jude the brother of Jesus
I am in the process of being reprogrammed out of reformed theology. That is a difficult statement to make for I risk alienating myself from life long friends and incur the scathing glance from the attentive-eye and heresy radar detectors. As I re-examine the Bible in light of reformed doctrines, I am discovering a freedom of thought and sweet liberation of fellowship with the Holy Spirit once quenched by reformed practice. While I would agree to place doctrine before experience, for we act out what we believe; yet, if our doctrines cause us to overthink and not do and be, to draw near to God, then we are going backwards or stagnant. Christians need to step back and obverse if their beliefs/doctrines are drawing them closer to God or not. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” I Cor 8:1.
I agree with RC Sproul Sr who taught that the pivot point of reformed theology is not election, foreknowledge or predestination, but rather the question of regeneration before faith. The regeneration (born again/new life) vs. Faith (saving, trusting faith) issue is what drives monergism v synergism discussion; doctrines of an incapable dead conscience vs being called and having believing faith from hearing God’s word. One blog post will not do justice to this discussion, and I plan to address the theological issue of justification, sanctification and glorification in three future posts, relating specifically to conversion, endurance of faith and eschatology. Again, this blog is my journey from Calvinism to Un-reformed Disciple. I am not at a point to claim the reformed position on effectual call vs free will is correct or not. I want to believe in what the Bible shows to be most true, and it works for all people.
Such a discussion/debate can get HOT. A tongue in cheek simile I have heard is: The Christians preach the gospel to unbelievers to convert them to faith; The Reformed peach the gospel to Christians to convert them to Calvinism. The antonym to the gospel point would be : The enemy of the Christian is the devil, while the enemy to the Calvinist is the self-believing Christian. It is to this point that compels me to reconsider Calvinism, in all it’s consistency and complete systematic confidence; the focus is to keep the believer assured in their election, excused by grace for their sin, and complicit in action for theological preservation, or the action is done to contrast other’s theological depravation. Such rhetoric may be offensive, and I do stretch it here, but let God be true and every man a liar. (Romans 3:4)
I have linked videos from two previously reformed pastors who “de- converted” from reformed to traditionalism. Traditionalism is not the common assumed Arminianism associated with Wesleyan theology. (http://connect316.net/why-traditionalism/) It is a Southern Baptist definition. The pastors, Leighton Flowers and Brad Saab advocate a Biblical discussion to these questions, rather than emotion or philosophical rhetoric. here are the links.
All five of my children were baptized as children, before the age of a professing adult, as part of the teaching of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Christian tradition. On May 6, 2018, our middle daughter Emily, 19, invited us to Shelby, NC to witness her be a part of an adult baptism service at Hope Community church. As a father, I rejoiced with my wife to see and experience Emily’s testimony to the Holy Spirit’s seal of God’s working in her young adult life, and the sign of her public confession of Jesus. As a special blessing, the pastor allowed me to be a part of the baptism. See below.
Aiding my daughter in her re-baptizing made me think deep. As the family spiritual leader, I felt a weighty responsibility to adjudicate the spiritual significance of re-baptism, given the covenantal claims I committed to whence under the reformed doctrines. So I began an in-depth study between infant baptism (IB) , practiced by the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and others liturgical churches, and credo baptism (CB), practiced by Baptist, Anabaptists, Pentecostals and other more independent churches. IB is the decision of the parent(s) to water baptize their infants/children based upon the parent’s faith and the believed promises from God. CB is the decision of the individual to be water baptized based upon their own faith and believed promises of God. Which is more Biblically correct? Do the IB claims of Reformed Theology hold water, or just sprinkle?
I need to state a few facts I hope we agree with before I critique.
There are good, God-loving people on both sides of IB and CB debate.
Baptism in water does not effectively “save” anyone by itself. Most people hold IB or CB to be very integrated with the faith we express toward God, but would also say it is the faith itself that is effectual, and not the water.
I think we would agree it is good progress that people who get re-baptized are no longer executed by the RCC or Protestants as the Anabaptists experienced in the 16th century. Much of that persecution was political inspired, but the targets were the Anabaptist reformers.
Baptism in the Bible, John the Baptist
My study of Baptism in the Bible will quickly lead to John the Baptist (JTB). All three Synoptics and Apostle John capture John preaching repentance to Israel as their Elijah, preparing the way for Messiah. Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26. As a young believer, I use to think all denominational Baptists got their label and mode of action from John the Baptist, and that is true is some aspects. We can image JTB dunking Jewish converts in the Jordan River, and one day it was Jesus.
The story of JBT is less about the mode or validation of CB or IB, and more about the greater baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Mark 1:8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31, the revealed NT mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27, and the purification of the soul by fire unto power. When we discuss water baptism, our heads should not lead our hearts past the initial transforming work of the new life in us per 2 Cor 5:17.
So JTB came to reach the Jews. Whether he “poured” water or dunked, we do not know. His baptism imparted greater faith after the obedient action of confession and repentance from sin. It is interesting that JTB’s effect carried well past 20 years to Ephesus in Act 19:4-6, where Paul meets 12 men who have faith and received JTB baptism, but did not know the Holy Spirit existed. They were baptized again in Jesus’ name and immediately were baptized with the Holy Spirit.
What does that mean? This points to the idea that one can be baptized-again if the first was insufficient or wrong. These 12 men may have been baptized ahead of Paul’s time. Paul only knew to baptize people in Jesus’ name for unity sake (I Cor 1:13-17), and then see them get filled with the Spirit. Whether they needed another baptism to confirm their repentance or not, Paul though it was behooving to do so. Such an argument is a fair permission for a person to receive CB as an adult believer, especially if the received IB from un-believing parents. But what if the parent(s) were believing? The reformed camp may object, and I have yet to state their arguments from the Calvinist doctrine.
Why Do Calvinist Baptize Children?
In Summary: Inferred theology and tradition.
Reformed Theology (RT) began it’s roots in St. Augustine, continued through the RCC and brought distinction with the reformation. RT teaches a covenantal aspect to salvation and the transference from circumcision to baptism. God elects, and with that election are promises to our progeny. Abraham believed God, and was given the sign of circumcision- along with all the males of his household. Per RT, baptism is now the New Covenant sign of faith, because of no more shedding of blood. Several of the New Testament accounts in ACTS speak about ALL WHO HEARD receiving the HS and being water baptized. The INFERENCE is that children were included in the baptisms.
A key passage reformers use to replace circumcision with baptism is from Colossians 2: 8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsa of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authoritiesb and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.c
Reformers also stress the communal aspect of faith in the middle east vs a western individual idea. People did religion as a group, and they assert religious signs were given to groups, so whole families were baptized to give a sign of a Christian identity.
Baptism in the Bible Expanded and the Primitive Church in ACTS
It is duly noted that NOWHERE in scripture is IB clearly demonstrated or clearly taught by the apostles, while CB is pervasive to individuals and groups.
ACTS 2: Peter preaches on Pentecost, calling the Jewish listeners to repent and be baptized (CB), and get the Holy Spirit. But followed with , The promise (spirit) is for you and your children…those far off…all who the Lord calls.” That’s half (IB). 3000 received the word and were water baptized, families included. One for CB.
ACTS 8:36-38 : Philip baptizes the Ethiopian after he asks, “What prevents me from being baptized?” You may find it peculiar that many modern translation LEAVE OUT v37, “Then Philip said, if you believe with all your heart you may.” Babies can’t do that, one for CB.
ACTS 10: The gentile Cornelius and ALL who heard received a Spirit baptism and then a water baptism. The IB camp INFERS that children were listening and received water baptism. The CB counter is Peter promoting water for those who had the spirit. I have yet to hear a reformer advocate babies speaking in tongues like Cornelius’ household. Tie.
ACTS 15: Council at Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas go up to discuss the need for gentiles to be circumcized after they believe. All the leaders were there. Instead of clearly instructing them to baptize in place of circumcision, they gave guidelines for holiness. This is a big plus for CB because the Apostles could have settled the issue. Remember, Luke received this story from Paul (60’s AD) and experienced church life until it was written in the 80’s AD. If IB was in effect and taught by the apostles, would not the Holy Spirit have give revelation here?
ACTS 16: Paul and Silas preach to Philippian jailer and whole household who believe and all get baptized. The IB camp INFERS that children were listening and received water baptism. One for IB.
What about church tradition? We know that pretty much all churches were baptizing infants by the mid-3rd century. Hippolytus and Origen speak rather generally of infant baptism in the couple decades before 250. Before the time of Origen and Hippolytus, it’s much harder to know. No one speaks clearly of infant baptism in the 2nd century, for or against. However, Justin Martyr does give a reason for baptism that absolutely precludes infant baptism, and he says that the church in Rome received it from the apostles.
This quote is from approximately A.D. 155:
And for [water baptism] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed. (Justin, First Apology 61)
Here, Justin specifically contrasts water baptism with the lack of choice that we had as children, and he says that the apostles taught that this was the very reason for water baptism.
The Didache, or Teachings of the Apostles, dated 50-120AD says :
1) And concerning baptism, baptize this way: After reviewing all of this teaching, baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in living (running) water.
2) But if living water is not available, then baptize into other water; and cold is prefered, but if not available in warm.
3) But if neither is available, pour water three times upon the head in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
4) But before the baptism, let the overseer fast, and also the one being baptized, and all others who are able; Be sure to instruct the one being baptized to fast one or two days before.
In the Didache, nothing is mentioned about children, and directive 4, specifically calls for fasting of the overseer and disciple for 1-2 days. Not a good admonition for hungry children.
IB is less correct because the silence of scripture for IB is deafening.
IB is less correct because the council in ACTS 15 did not teach water baptism superseding the OT sign of circumcision for children.
IB is less correct because Col 2, in context, uses OT circumcision as a metaphor for NT new life, symbolized by water baptism and realized by spirit baptism. I think Paul is using a word picture and not giving a sacramental directive.
IB is less correct because the early church writings only advocated CB up through 180AD.
IB is less correct because it is the Parent’s faith that invokes the promises of the Father to our children. Therefore, we should gain assurance from OUR baptism as adults and not our children. It is misplaced. If you want a blessed covenantal family, baptize the adults and find hope in the work and seal of God in your lives.
IB is less correct because the doctrines of the church prohibits/discourages IB adults from being re-baptized, and participating in the church sacrament. Reformers balk at human testimony in baptism, saying with doctrinal piety that baptism is ALL ABOUT GOD and not man. It is suppose to represent what GOD has done/will do in bringing new life salvation, and they dismiss the witness of confessing identity before the world. This fear is the Calvinistic psychosis disease of Homo-Salvitic Trepidation or perhaps Psycho-Synergism Aversion. You pick.
IB could be correct because the early prophets, who followed the apostles to cities in the first-second century, may have promoted, allowed and established IB in support of the Apostles’ teaching. We do not have early writings to support that, but the role of a NT prophet was clarity of the truth, expanding upon the apostles teaching, and being lead by the Holy Spirit, until the scriptures were canonized.
IB is less correct because the institution that canonized IB as a sacrament in the 12th century or so, had maligned about every practice of faith unto holiness, to be a work of merit or a doctrine derived from within the church. How can such judgment of truth be trusted?
IB is less correct because because the reformation movement of the Baptists and Anabaptist tried to reform the RCC over IB and paid for it with their blood. It is not presumptive to believe that the reformation continued past sola fida/sola scriptura and the Westminister Confession.
IB is less correct because it is a tradition of man and human will, rather than a clear apostolic practice. As Christianity became popular in the 2nd-3rd centuries, many people came into the visible-but underground church, and brought error and their past cultures. Would it not behoove a young mother to want assurance of salvation for their newborns? This tradition, due to human need, became ecclesiastical , and now doctrinally absolves original sin in the RCC. How convenient for those worrying mothers! The church paid no attention to the first verse in that Colossians passage: 8See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spiritsa of the world, and not according to Christ.
A close Christian brother of mine at my office is a reluctant IB sympathizer. He kind of wishes he had a CB, but receives his sign of IB in faith. He gave me a great metaphor for baptism. Imagine a cucumber that is dipped in boiling water and removed. The dipping was a washing, a Baptizmo some would say in greek. However, if the cucumber is then placed in a vinegar solution and remains there, it transforms into a pickle! That is a baptism of transformation. A child of IB can never be a pickle because they are not transformed, even when completely dipped like the Eastern Orthodox tradition. However, a willing adult, can have the Holy Spirit baptism seal of new life and transformation, with the sign of water baptism. As such, a CB is a sign they are a pickle!
My spiritual journey as a Christian started around 14 years of age and has continued to grow, change and mold into a tapestry of personal depth and relationships I could never predict. While my journey is likely not uncommon, it is, nevertheless, my story.
My blog is a modern use of technology intended to capture the summaries, reductions, and surprises my life and knowledge has attained, and to quickly fledge it into words before age passes it by! My primary interest is theology and the practical out workings of ideas and application to me and the people of Yeshua, the Way, the Book, or commonly – the church.
I expect my initial posts will focus on topics related to my most recent change in religious life, that event being a change from an Orthodox Presbyterian Church of 27 years to now a smaller Assembly of God congregation. I am a man who does not like to make hasty decisions and quick changes. I like the comfort of my Hombre hole and its predictable spiritual comforts. For me to up-root my family from an established, stable, evangelical, well balanced church, where I raised my 5 kids and shared life experiences for the past 2.5 decades, would require a move from God. But around the fall of 2016, the mighty King of Heaven decided to shake my world of predictable theological stability, and take me back 30 years to reconsider my call in life. He began transforming a firm Reformed Calvinist into a humble Un-Reformed Disciple. So I start this blog to discuss, collect and share my thoughts and understandings aligned with this transformation.
23And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.Luke 9 : 23-26 ESV