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The Olivet Prophecy is fulfilled (1st half)


“this generation” – in our future?

There is ample evidence that the Olivet Prophecy is fulfilled – the first half that is. There is ample evidence both exegetical and historical to establish Matt 24 verses 4 thru 34 are already fulfilled. In our Bible study a couple questions came up about “this generation” in Mark 13 or also in Matt 24. Here is an explanation that combines a couple of discussion questions that came up.  

How is the word “this” used in Mark 13 when referring to “this generation”? Does the use of “this” instead of “that” in the original Greek have any special meaning not apparent in English? The short answer that “this” is used in similar ways as in English (though not always exactly the same).   So when Jesus said, “this generation” in the Olivet Prophecy was he referring exclusively to the 1st century? What if he had said, “that generation” would it have indicated a future generation instead of the 1st century generation? I believe that when Jesus said “this generation” his words cannot be understood any other way than to be referring to the generation to which he was speaking, the generation in which he was living.  

An example is helpful. Here is one in Peter’s sermon that shows us “this” and “that” used side by side. Peter said in Acts 2:16, “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” The word “this” is referring to the events happening in front of Peter in the 1st century. The word “this” to Peter means his here and his now, the now of the 1st century.   For Peter the word “that” is referring to the pronouncement of the prophet centuries earlier. So then, the word “this” refers to what is near and the word “that” is used to refer to what is at a distance, in this case in the past.  

Back to the Olivet Prophecy.

Context helps us a great deal. Flow of context is just as important. Pastor Mazak mentioned this morning about the unfortunate placement of the chapter division between Mark 11 and 12. I agree. This is also the case between Matthew 23 and 24. Notice what Jesus said at the end of Matthew 23. He opined that “all these things will come upon this generation” (the 1st century, see v36).

Then just 5 verses later the discussion about the Temple (not a future one) and its corruption continues into Matt 24. Jesus continues to talk about “these things,” the things that will come about on “this generation” (the 1st century, see Matt 24:1 through Matt 24: 34.   Then in Matt 24:35 and following Jesus goes on to talk about his Second Coming.   Another thing that helps us is to see that in the Gospels every time the phrase “this generation” appears it refers to the 1st century, the era in which Jesus and his disciples were living. Josephus, a 1st century historian is very helpful on this.  

I am currently going through Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blindness to Better Understand the Bible. The authors do a great job in calling out the tip of the iceberg of our Western America modern lens. This WAM often clouds our interpretation of Scripture because we are immersed in WAM. We travel very little to non-Western cultures. We have imbedded in our culture a negative bias against non-Western cultures. We tend to read the Bible through popular theological lenses of the day (which tend to be mostly Futuristic).  

The authors of Misreading Scripture write that “…reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience. To open the Word of God is to step into a strange world where things are very unlike our own” (KL, 74). Compounding the strangeness we take a modern system of interpretation such as Dispensationalism (originating around 1830) and layer it over the text of Scripture.  

By taking a Futurist view of the Olivet we remove the ancient 1st century historical context in order to make its predictive value more relevant to our own Western American modern context. In this way “this generation” in its native context ceases to be moored to its original proclamation as it was from the lips of Jesus.  

The simplest and plainest reading of “this generation” in the Gospels refers to the time in which Jesus lived and taught, the 1st century.

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Is there a gap in the 70 Weeks of Daniel? NO


The seventy weeks is as single block of time

The Gap View (Dispensational, Pre-Tribulation interpretation) requires a growing gap between the 69th Week and the 70th Week. Certainly there are several obvious reasons why this is not possible. Is there a sinkhole in this Messianic prophecy?

File:Sinkhole.jpg

Gerhard Hasel gives us a linguistic proof as to why it is not possible to split the 70th Week away from the other 69 Weeks. He demonstrates that in Daniel 9 the Hebrew phrase “seventy weeks” functions as a collective noun. This means that “seventy weeks” must be understood as a whole unit, a complete set of time, a unified sequence without a gap.

Even in English we cannot use the word ‘week’ to mean 6 days in succession and the 7th day of that same week floating out in the future at some unknown point. That is not customary speech for us and it isn’t in Hebrew either.

To go outside the plain sense of “week” is to allegorize it. Hasel explains in great detail why Hebrew linguistics will not allow for placing a gap in the expression “seventy weeks.” See his article, The Hebrew Masculine Plural for ‘Weeks’ in the Expression ‘Seventy Weeks’ in Daniel, Andrews University, 1993.

Another problem with putting a gap between 69 and 70 is that it alters the “decreed” time frame. It is a definite time frame, not open ended, subject to completion in the future. In other words, this set of years is a determined unit of time. It’s not an indefinite period. Peter preached that “this Jesus, [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

The 490 years is the unit of time “determined” as the KJV translates it. This passage is not written in an allegorical mode.

Gabriel is not telling Daniel,

“You may think it’s 490 years, but really it’s 490 years plus 2000 years with no end in sight as far you can see. God may be saying 490 years, but His doesn’t mean it. You have to re-interpret His words correctly as an indeterminate period of years overall – proly, 2400 years, but you still can’t be sure.”

The Gap View pushes pause within a unified set of time. The Gap View requires an awkward cessation before the unit is complete. It’s like sitting down to watch a play and being told by the cast that we the audience need to leave and come back in 2 or 3 decades to see the conclusion, the final act of the play. The 70 Weeks of Daniel 9 is not like a stop action film.

The Gap View misunderstands that the 6 blessings promised (Dan 9:24) are “decreed” to come within that set period of years, the 490 years (more on these blessings in note B). The Gap View has the most blessed event in history – the Cross and Resurrection – happening outside the 70 Weeks in an ambiguous gap.

Daniel is appealing to Yahweh for assurance of covenant renewal after the Babylonian Captivity. God does not build up Daniel’s faith by doing a bait and switch. God does not give a definite period and then expect him to use a method of interpretation that re-configures His divine decree into an indefinite period (483 + growing gap + 7 = ?).

In fact, some interpreters see the 490 years leading to the ultimate Jubilee in the person of Christ at his 1st Advent. As we see in Leviticus 25 the period leading up a jubilee doesn’t allow for a gap. In fact, was deemed a sin to postpone a jubilee set for the 49th year. In Christ we are now enjoying the progression of the Ultimate Jubilee as it heads to it consummation.

It is also incongruous to argue, as many do, for literal days continuously running in the Creation account and then to argue, as they also do, that in Daniel 9 a literal unit of years does not literally run in succession. If one holds to a literal interpretation of Scripture, then that should be applied consistently.

The plain sense reading of Gabriel’s words speak of a definite and continuous period without amputation of its tail portion to be held in reserve for an indeterminate future moment.

The idea of an end time 7 Year Tribulation Period rests on the 70th week being future. Dispensational views on the Olivet or parts of the Apocalypse are not possible if the 70th week is already complete.

Both Scripture and history show the 70th week is past.

These differences notwithstanding we should continue working alongside each other WHILE giving time and space to work out these areas of eschatology. The subject of Last Things can be complex at times. As we  seek truth we can cultivate grace and love.


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Will there be sacrifices in the Millennium?


File:Lovis Corinth 006.jpgIn the Slaughter House by Lovis Corinth, 1893

*

Those who believe there will be blood sacrifices after the Cross of Christ (supposedly yet in the future) usually conclude this from their interpretation of the prophet Ezekiel (note: There may be other passages in OT used for this idea, but such conclusions still come in a round about way).
Ezekiel gives a very vivid explanation of a revived sacrificial, temple based worship although there is no explicit evidence that this will happen in our future. No mention of Jerusalem, the Millennium or a thousand years, the Second Coming or other explicit information in Ezekiel that would confirm a futurist interpretation.

Here is a basic sacrifice list (the ones that require killing an animal) compiled from Ezekiel chapters 40 thru 48.

It’s quite a bloody mess.

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Dedication of the Altar

Burnt offerings (43.18)

Splattering blood (43:18)

Sin offering (43:19,21)

Blood on the altar (43:20)

Another sin offering (43:22)

Another burnt offering (43:24)

7 days of sacrificing a male goat (43:25)

7 days of sacrificing a bull

7 days of sacrificing a ram

*

Continued sacrifices thereafter (43:27)

Result: “I will accept you,” declares the Lord God. (43:27)

Levites punished by having to slaughter the burnt offerings (44:11)

Priest of Zadok favored to serve the Lord by presenting animal fat & blood (44:15)

Zadokites will eat the grain offering (44:29)

…the sin offering

…and the guilt offering

*

Sacrifice of 1 sheep from every 200 sheep to make atonement (45:15)

And Grain offering, Burnt offering and Peace offering

“All the people of land” will be obliged to give this offering

thus, the total sheep offered will depend on how many people are in the land.*

* 2011 population of Israel was estimated at around 7,765,700

If we suppose that conservatively 50% of that number will populate Israel in the Millennium, then this could be…

3,882,850 killings per year for 1,ooo years.

That would be 3 billion, 882 million, 850 thousand bloody sacrifices in the Millennium for this requirement alone.

+ 3,882,850,000

bloody animal sacrifices

almost 4 BILLION more bloody sacrifices in the name of religion.

can this be?

*

Prince’s offerings – burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings (45:17)

At every feast

At every new moon

At every Sabbath

At all the appointed feast of the house ofIsraelhe will provide

Sin offerings

Grain offerings

Burnt offerings

Peace offerings to make atonement forIsrael

*

The Passover – bull offerings and sin offerings (45:21)

Spread blood on the door posts of theTemple, altar & gate

Prince’s offering of 1 young bull as a sin offering (45:22-24)

7 days he provides burnt offerings – 7 bulls + 7 rams x 7 days = 98 killings

Provide grain offerings for each bull, each ram and oil for each

Total for this bloody sacrifice in the Millennium = 99,000

+ ninety nine THOUSAND more

*

In the 7th month the Prince is to repeat the above for 7 more days (45:25)

99 more killings

Same round of sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings and oil

Total for this bloody sacrifice in the Millennium = 99,000

+ ninety nine THOUSAND more

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On Sabbath days and on new moons

priests will offer burnt offerings, peace offerings at the gate (46:2-8)

Burnt offering on Sabbaths of 6 lambs + 1 ram

7 killings per Sabbath would equal 364 killings per year

+ 364,000 blood sacrifices

(plus Grain offerings and oil offerings for each)

*

At new moons offer 1 bull + 6 lambs + 1 ram = 8 more killings

plus grain offerings and oil offerings for each

on feast days (46:11)

kill a bull, a ram and a lamb plus grain offerings for each with oil

Prince’s freewill offering of either a burnt offering or peace offering

Daily burnt offering

Provide a 1 year old lamb every morning = 365,000 more killings (46:13)

add 365,000 more

Plus grain offering and oil with it

Designated places (kitchens) to boil the guilt offerings (46:20)

And sin offerings

And to bake the grain offerings

*

The above list is only a rough estimate, but my, oh, my…

I’m not even gonna try adding it up to a grand total.

What a carnage it would be if it were true!

I am grateful that the Cross of Christ is all we need to be reminded of the beauty and full sufficient of our redemption. No more blood sacrifices are needed to remind us that Jesus Paid It All.

For me the question of this post is answered forever on the Cross as the Convict from Nazareth was dying the Death of Death. He cried out,

“It is finished” ?

*

 

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a scouting report on Eschatology


Eschatology can be confusing. So many ideas, so many variations, opinions, opinions. Some take a stance on their view of Eschatology as if they were staging the Battle of Gondor. No need to load your trebuchet. Let’s talk.

Click on the graphic below to see a bird’s eye view of the 3 major systems on Last Things:

– the Premillennial view

– the Amillennial view and

– the Postmillennial view.

Hope this basic graphic will fuel conversation rather than verbal boxing. All the views I have noted on are within the conservative main stream of Protestantism (expect the RCC view which is on the far right column). Can you think of questions that foster conversation rather than debate?  

Have a look.

note: I heard recently about another system that has entered the room – “Futuristic Premillennialism” it’s called. Can’t keep track of them all. This view is not on the chart, but if I understand it correctly you can put it somewhere between Classic Dispensationalism and Progressive Dispensationalism.

PDF of this graphic HERE if you like – free, free, free


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what does a pre-Kingdom Eternal eschatology look like?


An optimistic view of the future (both near and distant) most certainly should keep a primary focus on the New Heavens & Earth – shouldn’t it?

Here is what a timeline leading up to our ultimate Home might look like:

(to see click on PDF below)

Amillennial chart 

“why is it called pre-Kingdom Eternal?”  {you ask}

…because in the NT the Doctrine of the 2nd Advent of Christ is the major event which inaugurates the eternal, perfect kingdom of the New Heavens & Earth. The Second Coming of Messiah is so glorious, so victorious, so powerful, that He does not arrive again to rule within fallen human history where sin, disease and death still reign. He comes again to conquer and restore all things once and done – full victory and full restoration leading into the New Heavens & Earth.

Amen! – may it be so.


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Where is the Devil’s armour?


File:Armure-p1000681.jpg

“The Devil’s armour? What in the world are you talking about?” you ask.

In our Sunday Bible class we are going through the Gospel according to Mark. I wasn’t expecting this but there seems to be quite an interest in the class about the Kingdom of God. That’s a good thing and I am willing to go there, even if it means slowing down before we move deeper into the Gospel of Mark. 

Instead of trying to answer what the precise nature of the Kingdom is – what it exactly looks like or should look like – I am first pursuing the question,

“Is the Kingdom of God here or not?”

My reading of the large Narrative of Redemption shows me that the Kingdom of God was a genuine reality before Jesus arrived. The OT prophets (Isaiah thru Malachi) were repeatedly affirming the kingly position, the full sovereignty, of Yahweh. The Kingdom of God was already a reality before Jesus arrived. It was weak. Its influence was faint. The KoG is there in the OT, though it looks like skin n bones. It needs a B12 shot.

BUT

in the arrival of Jesus the Kingdom of God re-emerges with concentrated power.

“What does this have to do with the Devil’s armour?” you ask.

Doug Wilson puts it this way in his post ‘What Jesus Keeps in His Tent’:

* * * *

In Luke 11, Jesus has an encounter with some who were saying that He had cast out a devil through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils. Throughout the exchange that follows there are clear echos of the Goliath story. Those saying this about Jesus thought, in effect, that the slaying of Goliath must have been a Philistine trick, orchestrated by the Trilateral Commission. Without developing all these themes in detail, let’s just note them

…And so of course, Jesus actually defeated Beelzebub (Luke 11:20). The Israelites pursued the Philistines as far as Ekron (1 Sam. 17:52), the god of which . . . was Baalzebub (2 Kings 1:2).

So if you ever want to go see the devil’s armor, Jesus is keeping it in His tent.

* * * *

We see the same concentrated Sovereign Power of Jesus in Mark chapter 1. The power and authority of the Kingdom of God starts to flare up when Jesus arrives in a little synagogue in Capernium. He banishes a clique of evil spirits as He is teaching in that synagogue.

Then the King’s power rolls on through the region as He casts out one evil spirit after another, after another, after another…

AND

He is STILL pushing back the borders of the kingdom of darkness with the Gospel.

He has your heart, doesn’t He?

That’s one more victory for the King.

Yes, the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

Read it for yourself and you’ll see the Kingdom of God re-emerging in Jesus, the Messiah.


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When does Eschatology begin?


Sipping a double shot espresso he ponders about when Eschatology (the sequence of last things or the unraveling of history) is to begin?

So he asks around.

*   *   *   *

Some want to say it done and over.

Others want to say it is still off in the future. It hasn’t begun yet. It could at any moment, but it hasn’t yet (not as of the writing of this blog post, they would say).

Yet, in Jesus Christ are we not seeing the true and glorious finale of human History even if it takes another 10,000 years to unwind?