Off Target: 18 bull's-eye exposésThis book asks readers to
ponder this tough and challenging question: Have we Christians been led
astray by our own leaders; dumbed down in our theology by ideas,
interpretations, teachings, doctrines of men, and traditions that will
not stand up to an honest and sincere test of Scripture
Hell Yes / Hell No
- "It presents a balanced and scholarly re-exploration of "one of
Christianity's most offensive doctrines"-Hell and the greater issue of
the extent of God's grace (mercy, love, compassion, justice) and wrath
in the eternal, afterlife destiny for all people. Inside, conflicting
views are re-evaluated, their strengths and weaknesses re-assessed, and
all the demands of Scripture are reconciled into one coherent and
consistent synthesized view. "
The Perfect Ending for the World (2011)
'End-of-the-world' ranting and ravings are, once again, parading across
our paths. All humankind has and is paying a horrendous price for their
ages-old trail of failed predictions. Nonetheless, many are wondering if
this time could really be it. And the answer is, NO!
An Exegetical Basis for a Preterist-Idealist Understanding of the Book
of Revelation (2007)
“The revelation of Jesus
Christ” (Rev 1:1) has a fuller significance and deeper character beyond its
AD 70 eschatological
fulfillment. Consequently, the preterist notion that it only applies
to AD 70 when Christ
supposedly came in “finality” is a weakness to be amended.
And in a preterist-idealist synthesis, the strength of idealism remains that
it “secures its relevance for all periods of the church’s history.” But its
major weakness—i.e. “its refusal to see a firm historical anchorage”—
is removed. That missing anchorage is supplied by Revelation’s A.D-70
Idealism is the other symbolic form
of interpreting the book of Revelation that is most often associated with
the amillennialist position. In its pure form, idealism does not tie the
prophecies to any particular post-New Testament event. Instead, it sees them
as “basic principles on which God acts throughout history.” Thus, these
principles relate to people of every generation.
Erickson describes it this way, “the idealist or symbolic interpretation
dehistoricizes these events, making them purely symbolic of truths that are
timeless in character.” They are “timeless . . . truths about the nature
of reality or human existence that either are continuously present or
Hence, Idealist G. K. Beale characterizes Revelation as “a symbolic
portrayal of the conflict between good and evil, between the forces of God
and of Satan. . . . a timeless depiction of this struggle.” But he also
disclaims that “the problem with this alternative is that . . . [it] does
not depict any final consummation to history . . . . [and] it identifies
none of the book’s symbols with particular historical events.” This is the
opposite of the problem faced by the preterist and historicist views. Beale
advocates what he calls an “eclecticism” approach coupling idealism’s
“transtemporal” applicability with “a final consummation” and “an
Antichrist who comes at the end of history.”
Like historicists, however, amillennialists also “differ on the relationship
of the visions to what they symbolize and to each other.” Johnson, for one,
believes that these visions symbolize “abstract trends or forces that may
find expression in a variety of historical particulars without being limited
to one.” These particulars include insights into both “behind-the-scenes
heavenly sources and at other times . . . of their visible, earthly
outworking in the experience of churches, countries, and cultures.”
Hence, idealism agrees with preterism in that John’s visions revealed
“dynamics and developments . . . of the first-century.” It also agrees with
historicism that “the visions symbolized the conditions confronting the
church throughout the entire church age.” And, it agrees with futurism in
that the forces of evil are “far from defeated.” Idealism’s
all-encompassing embrace is possible because this interpretative approach
does not limit itself to only one historical reality, as do the other views.
Therefore, Johnson concludes that Revelation speaks of “forces and trends
that would long outlive and far transcend ancient Rome, issues that confront
twenty-first-century Christians just as they confronted our first-century
Ladd seems to characterize idealism in a positive light as “the assurance to
suffering saints of God’s final triumph without the prediction of concrete
events either in the past or future.” Yet he objects in that “the genre
of apocalyptic literature always used apocalyptic symbolism to describe
events in history; and we must expect the Apocalypse to share at least this
feature with other books of its character.”
Morris acknowledges that idealism’s strength is that it “secures its
[Revelation’s] relevance for all periods of the church’s history.” But he
flags as a major liability “its refusal to see a firm historical
anchorage.” Amillennialist Merrill C. Tenney contends that while
idealism “does contain much that is true. Its flaw is not so much in what it
affirms as in what it denies.”
But dispensationalist Jeffrey strongly disagrees with this timelessness
approach. He blasts its interpretation of Revelation’s visions and
prophecies “as mere allegories and figures of speech” which does “not expect
any . . . to be literally fulfilled.” This is done, he assumes, “to avoid
the clear predictions of Christ coming . . . .”
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Christianity Today "In the and-now-for-something-a-little-different category, there is
Beyond the End Times: The Rest of the Greatest Story Ever Told, by John Noe (Preterist Resources, 314 pp., $17.95, paper). While Bock and company debate the future Second Coming, John Noe argues that Jesus has already returned, as have the "last days" and "the judgment"—in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in
A.D. 70. This view—preterism—has a small following though; the likes of R. C. Sproul admit to being at least a "partial preterist." Be that as it may, Noe, president of the Prophecy Reformation Institute, argues, with no little energy, against traditional views. He is finally unconvincing (at least to this amillennialist), but preterism does have an internal logic that makes for exegetically interesting reading."
Dr M D Magee Contents Updated:
Wednesday, November 10, 1999
The Return of Jesus
scholars deny that every New Testament writer and the members of
the first century Church expected Christ to return within their
lifetime. For nearly 2000 years, the Church has continued eagerly
expecting and proclaiming the return of Jesus Christ, "soon!"
If the first
Christians expected the Parousia "soon" and 2000 years later Christians
are still expecting it "soon," does "soon" mean anything that we
understand? Well, yes it does. It means that the Christians have been
wrong all along. If Christians were misguided or wrong on such a crucial
issue as Christ's return, how can anyone believe anything they say? Can
they be trusted to tell us the truth about salvation and immortality?
They have turned
to their old habit. They make excuses. Conservative scholarship
postulates that Jesus' coming again has been delayed or postponed.
Liberal scholarship reckons Jesus and the New Testament writers
were simply mistaken or deluded. Other liberals think Jesus never made
statements implying imminence. These words were altered or added later
by his followers. Informed critics of Christianity have no trouble
seeing right through the strained attempts of Church leaders to explain
away why Jesus did not return as promised, and to protect Jesus'
credibility and divinity. Such weak attempts open the door to
questioning the authenticity of many other sayings of Christ and the
infallible guidance of the Holy Ghost.
blind to the implications of "non-return"? Most Christians do not
realize the predicament they are in. Christianity is hardly credible if
the firmest, clearest prophecy of the son remains unfulfilled.
John Noe, an
evangelic theologian, having struggled with the problem of the absent
Parousia and its implications, has decided Christians have struggled
unnecessarily. There is no escaping the truth. Christians were wrong to
wait for 2000 years for a Parousia while trying to uphold Biblical
inerrancy, Papal infallibity, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and
other hard acts the Christian sects impose upon themselves.
answer is that Jesus did return within the generation which was
alive during his earthly ministry, just as and when he said he would. He
seems to think this answer is a frightening new discovery. Yet, if Jesus
has returned already, why was the event so insignificant that most of
the world did not notice any profound influence on the world since,
unless it is that cruelty, torture and weaponry have expanded along with
theft, skullduggery and destruction of the world until the world is for
billions of people unbearable? Is this the impact of the return?
For us, Noe gives
from a fundamentalist Christian viewpoint all the good evidence why
Jesus was wrong (though he argues Jesus was not). Here we gratefully use
some of the arguments of this Christian in support of the view that
Jesus indeed expected the miracle of God to renew the world… then!
Critics note the
dilemma Christians face and the impossibility of escaping it without
being disloyal to Christ:
Bertrand Russell, in his book, Why I Am Not A Christian,
discredits the inspiration of the New Testament:
thought that his second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the
death of all the people who were living at the time. There are a great
many texts that prove it… where it is quite clear that he believed that
his coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That
was the belief of his earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good
deal of his moral teaching.
of the Historical Jesus Albert Schweitzer, the Christian doctor,
summarized it this way:
The whole history of
Christianity down to the present day… is based on the delay of the
Parousia, the non-occurrence of the Parousia, the abandonment of
eschatology, the process and completion of the "de-eschatologizing" of
religion which has been connected therewith.
contend Jesus did not do what the Messiah was supposed to
do—introduce the kingdom
That is why he is not the Messiah of the Jews, merely the Messiah of
the gentiles, and since there was never ever any prophecy of a
Messiah of the gentiles, gentiles can draw their own conclusion, but
the inference is plain!
acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, but seek to discredit him as a god
and destroy the credibility of Christianity by pointing out his
failure to return. Either the apostles lied, or Jesus was wrong
about his imminent return and the inauguration of the kingdom
If the latter, he was a prophet all right, but a false one.
Even in the
New Testament people with a brain scoffed (2 Peter 3:3, 4; Jude
16-19) that nothing had happened, nothing changed: "Where is this
coming he promised?" as they say in 2 Peter. These scoffers doubted
the sureness of Christ's promise, viewed Christianity as a
perversion of Israel's
future, and the Christian reaction to them was to call them the
ungodly who, according to Jude would be purged by 10,000 holy ones.
The mortal sin was already not accepting the Christian god, not any
of the awful things that could have been coted like slavery or
crucifixion itself, not banned until the time of Constantine, and
then because of its holy connotation not its cruelty as a
punishment. In the times of 2 Peter and Jude the delay of the
Parousia was only about a century. History has proven the scoffers
right—2000 years later Christians are still saying, "soon."
inadvertently join their own critics because the standard Christian
answer to the non-happening Parousia has been to insist Jesus will come again, someday! But this proves the critics' point:
Jesus was incorrect in his prophecies of returning soon and cannot
be the Messiah. In fact, Noe himself falls into a similar category
because he openly admits the criticisms. That he thinks he has the
answer does not matter because neither Christian nor critic of
Christianity will believe him.
Jesus' Clear Prophecies of the End
statements on the matter left no doubts. In frequent statements, he
confirmed the certainty of the eschatological coming and when. At face
value, these words of Jesus are some of the clearest in the New
Testament. Otherwise, they are puzzling or meaningless. The only
doubt in them to a non-Christian is who was supposed to come. No
Christian will consider anyone but the man himself, but this aspect is
less than clear.
from the prophet Daniel, Jesus responded to and forewarned the high
priest and the Sanhedrin saying:
In the future you
shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming
on the clouds of heaven.
Jesus' "you" meant
his audience not twenty-first century fundamentalists. He was speaking
in the first-person, directly to them, the audience. Caiaphas, the high
priest, and all present were familiar with this biblical language. They
were the ones who would "see" his return in catastrophic judgment and
his glory displayed in the destruction of their religious institutions.
How could Jesus possibly have been describing an event some 2000 years
in the future? The text demands immediate impact and fulfillment in
talking with his disciples, Jesus declared,
But whenever they
persecute you in this city, flee to the next: for truly, I say to you,
you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel,
before the Son of man comes.
meaning of Jesus' words was not to deceive his disciples, but to assure
them that during the persecution which was too soon to come upon "them,"
they would not run out of places to flee for safety before he returned.
This was another failed prophecy for they returned from their missionary
tour and the son of man had not arrived meanwhile.
informed his disciples:
For truly, I say to
you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the
son of man coming in his kingdom.
Here, Jesus is
describing the same event. A 40-year period was to transpire between the
time he ascended to heaven and the son of man came back in the
post-crucifixion revision of Nazarene eschatological hopes. During that
time some of his disciples would have died, but others remained alive.
repeats his promise in the mini-apocalypse:
At that time the sign
of the son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the
earth will mourn. They will see the son of man coming on the clouds of
the sky, with power and great glory… I tell you the truth; this
generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have
Jesus here uses
the very same phrase his disciples had just heard him speak to the
scribes and Pharisees when he told them the guilt of the blood of the
righteous would fall upon "this generation" (Mt -36).
Jesus' "this generation," in every New Testament usage, always
means the contemporaries of Jesus alive at that time.
Luke 21:6, 22,
27, 32. In
the parallel passages in Luke's gospel, the message is repeated again.
If Jesus did not mean the words to say he would return within a
generation, why did he plainly make it sound as if he did, so plainly
that the gospel writers write it down even when they knew it was already
untrue? If it happened at all it happened in the first century, and
could not have been omitted from the gospels because Christians had been
taught it for half a century at the minimum. It was included because it
could not be left out and, ever since, Christians have had to excuse it.
If Jesus was
wrong, he was a false prophet, not a prophet of God (Deut -22),
nor the Messiah. There is no honest way to escape it. The texts demand
it and Christians find themselves in an impossible bind—though it has
never bothered most of them one whit. He will come "soon," is their
mindless mantra. In a sort of defense they appeal to "of that day and
hour knoweth no man" (Mt 24:36; 25:13). The period of gestation of an
animal is known quite precisely but no one knows exactly when a birth
will happen. This is Jesus' point in this statement, not that Christians
might still be waiting 2000 years later. That he is telling his
disciples to be ever watchful because nobody knows exactly when the
moment will be, actually adds to the immediacy of the message. It does
not preclude nor override its urgency or the imminence of the appearance
of one like unto the son of man on the clouds of heaven.
Expectations of Jesus' Followers
All of the
following quotations highlight the immanency of the coming, but do not
forget that at the time of Jesus there was only one Lord—God! The
"coming of the Lord" was the coming of God—God's visitation at the End
Time. Only by promoting their crucified leader to the level of God did
the Christians change the coming from that of God to that of Jesus:
James told the
first century followers of Christ to be patient until the coming of
the Lord. "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh," and "the judge
standeth before the door" (James 5:8-9). The Greek translated "nigh"
is literally "within grasp," sometimes translated as "at hand."
Jesus used "at hand" too, denoting readiness or availability (Mt
10:7; also 26:18, 45, 46; John )
with the same obvious meaning. Were James's readers to interpret his
use of this adverbial phrase to mean 2000 years? James's "at hand"
has the same immediacy as Jesus'.
If those Christians are correct that claim God's timescale is much
longer than ours (2 Pet 3:8), then there is no getting away from the
truth that God or His prophets are fooling Christians, for God's
words become devoid of meaning to mankind or mean the opposite to
our understanding. The ernest evangelical Noe says that for God to
inspire men to write words that meant nearness and imminence to man,
but in reality meant a long time is deceitful double-talk. Meanings
stretched a thousand years or to protect a theological bias are
The Writer of
In just a very little
while, he who is coming will come and will not delay (Heb ).
He also wrote: "As
you see the day approaching" (Heb. ).
2000 years is longer than the covenant nation of Israel
even existed in myth, let alone history, so is this what the author
meant when he spoke to these people of "a very little while"? None of
Jesus' parables depicting the Lord's coming suggest a potentially "long"
It was the evil
servant who says "My Lord delayeth his coming" (Mt 24:48).
led his contemporaries to believe that some of them would survive
and still be "alive and left" on planet earth and urged that their
bodies (soma not sema) should be "kept blameless" until the coming
of the Lord (1 Thessalonians ;
If they all died without receiving Paul's promise and their bodies
were not kept but decayed in graves, then has the inspiration of the
Holy Ghost not failed, too? Paul further told Timothy to "keep the
commandment… until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim
In all of Paul's writings including 1 Corinthians 15, he evidently
had no need to clarify that he was referring to the nearness of any
other coming or end different from that taught by Jesus. Paul
clearly anticipated the imminent return of Christ in his lifetime
and in the lifetime of his hearers. The plain grammatical meaning of
Paul's often-used "we" (1 Thessalonians -17),
and the saturation of his epistles with nearness expectations and
exhortations, allow no other conclusion (Rom ;
Phil 4:5; Gal 4:4; 1 Corinthians ,
The two epistles
attributed to Peter also exhort their readers to holy living and to
hang in there for "a little while" (1 Pet 1:6; ).
This was to be "unto a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the
last time (1 Pet 1:5) of "these last times" (1 Pet
Peter is referring to the same identical, first century time frame
as all the other New Testament writers. That is why
throughout, Peter employs the personal pronoun "you." Peter's "you"
in its normal, face-to-face, customary context means his
contemporary audience, not an abstract reader anywhere, anytime.
Here, and elsewhere, whenever modern-day Christian interpreters have
to stray away from the normal meaning of words or create new
definitions of familiar and natural words apart from their customary
usage, they are admitting, whilst trying to disguise it, that
something is dreadfully wrong with their religious foundation. We
are invited to believe that the New Testament writers were
addressing whoever would experience these eschatological events
living in or beyond the twenty-first century, and that all earlier
Christians have been admittedly deluded to imagine it might mean
them. They were addressed to people alive then and there. In no
stretch of the imagination could 2000 years be Peter's "a little
while," or justify his sense of urgency for his target audience.
Jesus' coming was
often compared to "like a thief" (Mt 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2;
2 Pet ;
Rev 3:3; ).
The reason for the thief comparison was that no one could know the
precise time when they would be burgled. Jesus' followers would not be caught off guard (1 Thessalonians 5:4). His disciples
could watch and see "the day" approaching by discerning the signs.
Others "slept" and did not discern the signs (Heb ;
1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).
Moreover, Paul wrote and admonished first century believers that
that day should not overtake "them" as a thief (1 Thessalonians
5:4). No one is bothered about a thief coming in the distant future.
A warning about a thief has to apply to "now" or a time that will
soon become "now," not a time 2000 years or more hence. A 2000-year
delay violates both the imagery, sense of urgency and contemporary
significance of this simile.
generation" immanency of the coming of the son of man was the central
motif of New Testament teaching and the uniform expectation of
the early Church. Just how many times, in how many ways, and using how
many inspired words and phrases must the New Testament express
this first century immanency before Christians cease persisting in their
lies? This language of nearness is very significant and plainly forbids
the passing of a protracted period of time.
Behold he cometh with
the clouds (Rev 1:7).
"Coming on the
clouds" is used of Old Testament portrayals of God descending
from heaven and coming in power and glory to act in deliverance of his
people or to execute judgment on wicked nations and cities. God
habitually came on a cloud because the Hebrew god, Yehouah, was
originally a sky and storm god like Baal of the Canaanites. Sky gods
always, naturally, have a sun aspect and normally it is the sun that
becomes dominant. All of the descriptions of the god of the Hebrews and
Christians are descriptions of the sun. But sun gods, sky gods and storm
gods, manifest themselves in the heavens through the clouds and when
they do, they "come on the clouds."
The nature of the
Hebrew god is plainly given in Genesis where he leaves his bow in the
clouds as a token of His covenant with His people. What is a bow in the
clouds? The rainbow is a manifestation of the sun and sky and storm god.
God is found in clouds in many places in the scriptures (Gen 9:13,14,16;
Ex 13:21,22; 14:19,24; 16:10; 19:9,16; 24:15,16,18; 34:5; 40:34-38; Lev
16:2; Numbers 9:15-22; 10:34; 11:25; 12:5; 14:14; 16:42; Deut 5:22;
Judges 5:4; 2 Sam 22:12; 23:4; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chr 5:13-14; Job
22:13-14; 26:9; 36:32; 37:15; Psalms 18:11;69:34; 77:17; 104:3; 147:8;
Isaiah 14: 14:19:1; Lam 3:44; Ezek 1:28; 10:4; Dan 7:13; Nahum 1:3; Zeph
1:15; Zech 10:1).
There are many
more references to clouds in the scriptures and the same nimbic
metaphors are applied in the New Testament, often in the same sense as
in the Old, referring to God, but usually interpreted by Christians to
mean Jesus and sometimes explicitly so. The popular one for Christians,
though, is that from Daniel. With this nimbic chariot imagery of "coming
on the clouds," the son of man was prophesied by Daniel to come (Dan
I saw in the night
visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of
heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near
If this is not
proof that the one prophesied in Daniel is not God, considered as the
sun in the sky, then what is? Not Jesus but the later Christians, who
had already taken him as a manifestation of God, put into Jesus' mouth
the image of him "coming on the clouds" at the end of the age in his
bothers that this "prophecy" speaks of "one like" the son of man, not
the Son of Man. It is the traditional way in which dreams were described
and the verse quoted says it was a "vision." It means simply that Daniel
had a dream of a figure that looked like a man. A son of man could not
be a cow or an angel. A "son of man" was a fashionable way of saying a
man. Americans today have a similar but insulting expression that means
a man is a dog.
"Son of Man" was
the expression that Jesus used to mean a "man," but Christians prefer to
convince themselves it was Jesus' self awareness of godhood. If this
were the case, in logic, Jesus might have called himself a son of God,
though he never did. But his habit of using a polite faddish expression
as a circumlocution—his, perhaps Essene, view of derekh eretz
(good manners)—was seen as his equating himself with Daniel's vision.
In fact, Daniel
explicitly tells us, someone in the appearance of a man he saw in
another vision was Gabriel. How then is Gabriel the same as Jesus? In
fact, in the pseudepigraph called Daniel, the "prince" (of Dan
21; 12:1) most closely matches the one who would have a kingdom in
The prince was called Michael, not Jesus. Fundamentalists will have to
explain all these aliases that Jesus used, if this is him as well.
Jesus was a law
abiding Jew who would not have blasphemed God by saying he was
God. Even if Jesus were God in disguise, he could not have broken the
law already given by himself, as God, to Moses face to face. How could
God encourage the Jews to stick rigidly to his laws, cruelly punish them
when they stumbled, yet appear himself on earth in the form of a man to
tell them to break them, and then, though men were not allowed to claim
to be God, go around, still in the form of a man, saying he was God?
Even if he was,
how could the Jews do anything other than say he was blaspheming, since
any man saying he was God was blaspheming (even if he was God in
disguise), and blasphemy was against God's own law? Since men were not
supposed to speak like this, can any Christian blame the Jews for not
believing a man who did, and can they explain how they themselves could
distinguish God in the form of an ordinary man from a faker making the
same claims? The law itself forbids any just God from playing such silly
all the biblical comings of God in the Old Testament, God was
apparently never visible, but manifested himself in other ways, through
His Presence or Glory and various symbols. The Jewish concept of a
theophany seems not to be based on the way modern Christians have been
conditioned to think of Christ's "coming on the clouds." But every
biblical instance of coming on a cloud is God coming! If Jesus, and not
merely the authors of the New Testament, used this "cloud" language in
his prophecies—he was prophesying the coming of God, not his own return.
This is proved by the meaning of the word "Parousia," which is a
theophany of God, not a return of some man saying he will.
The writers of the
New Testament also used other apocalyptic language from the Old Testament prophets to describe the coming "day of the Lord". Noe
tries to pretend that the "day of the coming of the Lord" or the "day of
the vengeance of the Lord" are just expressions meaning any of the
calamitous punishments God meted upon his Chosen
or their enemies. He tries to make out that this apocalyptic language is
used to describe real events caused by the direct intervention of God
which cannot be fully comprehended in human language. But it is
specifically the event that the Christians are supposed to be waiting
for—the Day of Judgment. Examples he gives are examples of apocalyptic
prophecies by such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Joel and so on.
Noe has begun his
own apology, which is that such language just meant pretty awful events
but not the end of the present imperfect world. In this way he prepares
the reader for his thesis that the "Day of the Lord" happened when the
temple was destroyed by the Romans. The universe did not end and God did
not appear visibly, on a cloud or otherwise, but that is what it was—the
Parousia! And no one even noticed!
Noe adds that only
understood in this way, could the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
have been confused that that "the day of the Lord" had already come.
Yet, the Christian gospels, particularly Matthew, try to give the
illusion that some of these cosmic occurrences actually happened at the
crucifixion, and even Noe agrees that a forty year period was involved
in the final period of settlement, so why should the Thessalonians have
not been confused, if they had been told such things?
expected the Day of the Lord's Vengeance in the garden
It never happened and Jesus was crucified instead. But when the corpse
apparently rose from the dead by disappearing, they thought that the
risen Jesus had initiated the coming of the kingdom as the first fruits
of the dead. So, it is quite conceivable that early Christians thought
the "Day of God's Vengeance" had come with the rising of Jesus but yet
had to be completed after forty years of cosmic battle. They would have
been happy as many modern Christians are that God has a different
concept of a "day" from us, after all 2 Peter said so.
Noe urges us to
think like First century Jewish believers, who were much more
apocalyptic-oriented than we are. They knew that behind every
descriptive symbol, image or figure of speech was a literal reality.
When the "day of the Lord" came, they would recognize it. Inadvertently,
Noe is describing one sect, the sect of apocalyptic Jews who would
indeed think in this way—the Essenes. We must think like Essenes, we are
urged, to understand the earliest Christians. That is because Jesus
himself was one.
writers confirmed they were then living in those "last days" (Heb 1:2;
Acts 2:17; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1; James 5:3; 2 Pet 3:3; Jude 18; 1 John
2:18), when Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come robed "with
the garments of vengeance" (Isaiah 59:17), and he would proclaim not
only salvation but, "the day of vengeance of our God" (Isaiah 61:2).
Jesus' statement in Luke's Olivet Discourse contains this very wording,
"When you see Jerusalem
surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near… flee…
For these be the days of vengeance in which all things that are written
must be fulfilled" (Luke -22).
Noe is losing the thread here because he has just convinced us that the
"day" was immediate, in the words of Jesus and his contemporaries (see
above) yet now is saying "immediate" is forty years in the future. He
takes this to be 66-70 AD, the Jewish War and the destruction of the
70 AD, for Noe,
epitomises everything Jesus promised. As this historical time
approached, James said, "The Judge is standing at the door." And, "The
coming of the Lord is at hand" (James 5:9, 8). How long in our
traditional view are we going to leave Judge Jesus standing at the door?
Paul reminded his readers, "the time is short" (1 Corinthians
How long is short, anyway? Peter in perfect, first century harmony
proclaimed, "The end of all things is at hand" (1 Pet 4:7), and warned,
"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (1 Pet
Urgency permeates Peter's sense of expectation. He is emphatic, "the
time has come"! John wrote in his day: "it is the last hour!" (1 John
The issue that is
missed is that Jesus died expecting the "Day of the Vengeance of God" in
after the Lord's Supper. He expected and clearly says he would not drink
new wine until he was in the kingdom
He expected the kingdom
that very night. It did not arrive and the followers had to revise their
ideas quickly. It would arrive within a generation of the disappearance
of Jesus' corpse—the cosmic battle of the heavenly hosts led by the
prince of Israel,
Michael, against the prince of darkness, Satan, would take forty years.
It is all clear,
if we are not looking through the distorting glass that Christians have
put between the events then and now. There is no need to explain away
any of the above scriptures. For forty years after the crucifixion, all
early Christians, Paul included, expected a Parousia, but Jesus was
substituted for Michael. Michael might always have been seen, for
Essenes, as the heavenly double (fravashi) of Jesus, so when Michael
came with the heavenly hosts, it was Jesus returning.
believers watched, waited and eagerly expected in vain (1 Pet 1:5-9;
2:12; Heb 9:28; 10:25; Luke 21:28; Phil 3:20; Gal 5:5; Rom 13:11-13;
1 Corinthians 1:7; Tit 2:11-13).
The technical word
most often used in the New Testament to speak of his
coming/return is the Greek word, Parousia. Although it is most
often translated "coming," its primary meaning is "presence," it being
the presence of God in a theophany. Noe wants to assure us that Jesus is
with us because he returned in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed. That
was his sign. Nobody noticed because God is invisible, but every
Christian declares "Jesus lives," so he must have returned sometime.
theories are all because, no Christian can face the obvious, though the
evangelical Noe gets close to it in his curious arguments—Jesus was a
false prophet according to scripture. All the Jews know it. Jesus
himself knew it. Only his followers do not know it, and their priests
and preachers have been agitatedly obfuscating the truth for 2000 years.
The have to be congratulated on their success in so doing. They are the
word's best ever liars—they'll meet all their best friends when they
die, but in a warmer place than they expect.
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