Pro and Con 156, Uploaded 7-19-98

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PRETERISM
Thank you for a thought provoking response. I think I would like to talk with a friend of mine about the feast days that you state are as of yet unfulfilled. He is more studied and more knowledgeable than I in these matters.

I would tend to disagree with you on the Sabbath issue, although your statement that the whole of the Bible is a Jewish books gave me great thought. The whole basis of what is called "covenant theology" rests on the premise that the church is NOT a different entity under a different covenant, but the New Covenant is merely an upgrade of the old. As such, Paul calls believers in the New Covenant "spiritual jews" and "the seed of Abraham". It is probably the worst thing that happened to the body of believers that we were called "Christians" rather than just believers. But--Paul's statement ties in nicely with your contention that the whole Bible is a Jewish book.

However, if we are using a Jewish calander, the issue must become whether or not all of the feasts have been fulfilled in Christ by the end of the first century. If not, it would seem that we are bound to still keep these ceremonies until their fulfilment. Am I right?

There is a strain of thought in eschtology that teaches that our Lord returned in 70AD in judgement upon Jerusalem. As such, there is a beautiful shadow/type teaching on His cloud return:

FROM THE BOOK PARADISE RESTORED BY DAVID CHILTON: The Clouds of Heaven

That. appropriately, brings us to the next element in Jesus' prophecy of Jerusalem's destruction: "and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory". The word tribes here has primary reference to the tribes of the land of Israel; and the "mourning" is probably meant in two senses. First, they would mourn in sorrow over their suffering and the loss of their land; second, they would ultimately mourn in repentance for their sins, when they are converted form their apostasy (see chapter 14).

But how is it that they would see Christ coming on the clouds? Those who have read Chapters 7 & 8 of this book should have little trouble answering that question. In the first place, all through the Old Testament god was coming "on clouds", in salvation of His people and destruction of His enemies: "He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3). When Isaiah prophesied God's judgement on Egypt, he wrote: Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud, and is about to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence" (Isa. 19:1). The prophet Nahum spoke similarly of God's destrucion of Nineveh: "In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet" (Nah. 1:3). God's "coming on the clouds of heaven" is an almost commonplace Scriptural SYMBOL FOR HIS PRESENCE, JUDGEMENT, AND SALVATION. (caps mine).

More than this, however, is the fact that Jesus is referring to a specific event connected with the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant. ge spoke of it again at His trial, when the High Priest asked Him if He was the Christ, and Jesus replied:

I AM; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62 cf. Matt. 26:64).

Obviously, Jesus was not referring to an event thousands of years in the future. He was speaking of something that His contemporaries---"this generation"--would see in their lifetime. The Bible tells us exacly when Jesus came with the clouds of heaven:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud recieved Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).

We noted in Chapter 8 that it was this event, the Ascension to the right hand of God, which Daniel had foreseen:
I kept looking in thenight visions, And behold, WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN One like a Son of Man was coming And He came up to the Ancient of Days AND WAS PRESENTED BEFORE HIM. AND TO HIM WAS GIVEN DOMINION, GLORY AND A KINGDOM, That all the proples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His Kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Dan. 7: 13-14).

The destruction of Jerusalem was the sign that the Son of Man, the Second Adam, was in heaven, ruling over the world and disposing it for His own purposes. At His ascension, he had come on the clouds of heaven to receive the Kingdom from His Father; the destruction of Jerusalem was the revelation of this fact. In matthew 24, therefore, Jesus was not prophesying that He would literally come on the clouds in A.D. 70 (although it was figuratively true). His literal "coming on the clouds," in fulfillment of Daniel 7, had taken place about 40 years earlier. But in A.D. 70 the tribes of Israel would see the destruction of the nation as the result fo His having ascended to the throne of heaven, to receive His Kingdom.

FROM ED STEVENS BOOK: STEVENS ANSWERS GENTRY

There is more than just a cloud connection between the comings mentioned in Rev. 1:7 and Acts 1:11. An oft-overlooked motif in Acts 1 is the High Priestly language. The words "ascend" and "descend" were commonly used in connection with the priests' ascent into the Temple to perform the sacrifices, especially in relation to the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) solemnities. It would not have been difficult for the first century Jewish saints to understand that Jesus, our High Priest, was "ascending" into the Heavenly Temple to perfom His Yom Kippur service and the "descend" afterwards to announce that the atonement had been completed. The Yom Kippur typology had to be fulfilled in the heavenly temple, since the earthly temple was only a replica and type of the heavenly one (cf Heb 9, 10 esp 9:23ff). The book of Hebrews goes into significant detail describing Jesus' High Priesthood, and it is in this context that we have the only NT mention of a "second appearance" of Christ (Heb. 9:28). When did Jesus "ascend" into the heavenly Holy of Holies to perform His Yom Kippur work? Would Gentry deny that Acts 1: 9-11 was that "ascent" of the High Priest? When was He to "descend" out of that Holy of Holies? Would Gentry deny that Heb 9:28's description of the High Priest's second appearance from the heavenly temple was the "descent" of Christ at 70 AD? Based on his statements in his book, it seems that he does in fact apply Heb9:28 to AD 70, especially since he admits there are TIME INDICATORS in the context (Heb 10: 25, 370. If Gentry believes the descent (Heb 9:28) of the High Priest out of the Heavenly Temple was in AD 70, when was the ascent into it? Since Acts 1: 9-11 contains this high priestly "ascension" concept, it forces Acts 1:11 into association with the AD 70 coming. It points directly to Jesus' disappearance into the heavenly cloud-filled temple to perform the rest of His High Priestly work.

And Hebrews is not the only place in the NT where this High Priestly language and temple typology is used. The book of Revelation is full of it, a book which Gentry labors to connect closely with AD 70, especially in those typological sections which have so much "covenantal language" in them. This ascent/descent idea more than suggests that the coming back mentioned in Acts 1:9-11 is the same "second appearance" as the one spoken of in Heb. 9:28 and 10:37. There is not only a "cloud-coming" connection in Acts 1, but a High Priestly "ascent-descent" connection as well. Both of these connections demand an AD 70 application. The very use of the cloud motif teaches that the ascent and descent would be Theophanies inseparably related to the plan of REDEMPTION. If AD 70 had a "cloud-coming" (which Gentry has affirmed in his books), then it must have been a very significant Theophany closely related to the plan of redemption.

In further developement of the cloud-connection in Acts 1:9-11, it is interesting to read Alfred Edersheim's account of the High Priest's ministry on the Day of Atonement (THE TEMPLE, ITS MINISTRY AND ITS SERVICES, pp 302-329). The Most Holy Place was filled with incense smoke before he ascended into it to perform the Yom Kippur atonement services. He disappeared into that cloud of incense smoke (which symbolized the presence of God), and reappeared from the cloud of incense smoke after the Yom Kippur services were finished. All of his work had to be done while the smoke still filled the Temple. Both his ascent and descent were into and out of a cloud of incense smoke. This typology puts even more focus on the tight connection between Christ's ascension and His High Priestly return mentioned in Heb. 9:28. Since Gentry seems to connect Heb 9: 28 with AD 70, it seem necessary for him to also connect the return mentioned in Acts 1:11 with AD 70. So Acts 1:11 is not talking about a return of Christ still in our future. It is talking about our High Priest's descent back out of the heavenly sanctuary after fulfilling His once-for-all atonement work.

In other words, my dear brother, the common idea that the Lord went up seen by all eyes until He was too high to be seen is erroneous. He ascended unseen in a glory cloud. I would believe that this glory cloud was present at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But isn't the typology BEAUTIFUL. Think of the comfort of seeing our High Priest ascend to finish His redemptive work on our behalf in the heavenly Holy of Holies!! Think of the comfort that His descent (signified by the destruction of Jerusalem) gave to the Christians of that day. In the OT, if the sacrifice was not accepted, the High Priest was struck dead while in the Holy of Holies. That is why the Jews tied a rope around his ankles, in case his body needed to be pulled out. Only when the High Priest "descended" were the Jews sure that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur had been accepted and their sins were forgiven. Do you see the fulfillment of the OT type here?

Every eye saw Him in what He did to the rebellious Jewish nation in fulfillment of Matthew 21: 41. When the people of that day saw the ruins of the Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem, they knew that God had come in judgement upon the nation. There are numerous OT passages that talk about people seeing God coming in judgement, yet it was not actually God whom they saw, it was what He did that was called seeing Him.

I realize that this is not only a new idea, but PLENTY SCARY!!! It is so because some people have preached that if you don't believe in the soon coming rapture of the church, you are a damned soul. That is reprehensible behavior, for I read nowhere in the Scriptures that our eschatological understandings are a measure of our salvation or orthodoxy.

What difference does it make, you may ask. Well, it seems that the church was on the verge of really establishing the rule of the kingdom on earth when this premil eschatology came to be preached. All of a sudden, Christians started looking up instead of out. They started to have an "escapist" mentality instead of a mindset that said that we have been sent forth to take dominion in the same way that our father Adam was told to. The effect of the church has been negated, after all, who wants to polish brass on a sinking ship? And in premil eschatology, the defeat of the church in history is considered to be God's will. Christians have refused to run for office, to get involved in operation rescue and many other things that could change to moral landscape of our nation and our world. Why? Because Jesus is coming---why bother?...

Marily--this is part of a letter that I sent to another believer questioning me about the "cloud coming" of the Lord. Obviously, the last couple of paragraphs are my comments. For me as a believer, to mediatate upon our Lord fulfilling the great sacrifice in the true heavenly Temple, and then descending in judgement/blessing in 70 AD is such a lovely and blessed comfort.

Would you be so kind as to give me a little more information on the nature of the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles? Perhaps you have something already written on your Web site. If so, I would appreciate your directing me to it.

I have been studying eschatology for two or three years now, but am not as deep into it as you are. Your communication with me is appreciated. Your servant for God's glory,

My reply

> The whole basis of what is called "covenant theology" rests on
> the premise that the church is NOT a different entity under a different
> covenant, but the New Covenant is merely an upgrade of the old.

But the church is a different entity operating under a different covenant. When the death of the testator, Jesus, came, his new Last Will and Testament became effective.

Israel is literal Israel, descended from Abraham, and will never disappear from the scene. At Sinai, the Lord was married to Israel. Because of her iniquity, she was refused, but will be taken back in the Millennium. In the meantime, the Lord is taking another Bride, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, but mainly Gentiles. The two brides are portrayed in the book of Esther. Queen Vashti would not come when the king called her. Therefore, she was refused. He gave "her royal estate unto another that is better than she" (Esth. 1:19). The king then gathered together a group of "virgins" (Esth. 2:19) and then chose Esther as his bride out of that group of virgins. Later, he remembered Vashti, and she was reinstated.

Isa. 54:4-8 says, "thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy WIDOWHOOD any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman FORSAKEN and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast REFUSED, saith thy God. For a small moment have I FORSAKEN thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath (70 AD) I HID MY FACE FROM THEE for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer." The little wrath was against Israel in 70 AD. He did not return then. Instead, he hid his face from them. The great Day of God's Wrath is at the end of the coming shortened Tribulation. In that day, the Lord will not allow Israel to be taken. He will fight for her that day.

Jer. 31:31-34 explains the Millennial covenant with Israel: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THERE FATHERS in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they BRAKE, although I was an HUSBAND unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them."

The Lord will not cast off Israel for good. He said "If those ordinances (sun, moon and stars) depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever" (Jer. 31:36). The sun, moon and stars will stay, and Israel will stay.

Under the Law, Israel was pictured as being saved by offering a lamb unto the Lord. She was really saved by believing in the coming Messiah that was symbolized by that lamb. When the reality had come, the old Law was no longer needed. It was nailed to the cross. Law observances were abolished. Col. 2:14 says, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

Heb. 9:16-22 helps us understand the first covenant and the Last Will and Testament: "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood...Moses...sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you...and without shedding of blood is no remission."

I hope you can see that the New Covenant is NOT merely an upgrade of the old.

People were no longer saved by keeping the law. Sin was totally taken out of the way as an issue in salvation. It is now "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?" (Mt. 22:42).

After the Crucifixion in 30 AD, Israel was given 40 years of probation. When they did not accept Christ, but kept to the old law, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. The new covenant that came into effect at the death of Christ became more effective after the Jews were dispersed in 70 AD. The disciples of Christ were sent out into the world to take out of the Gentiles a different bride, the Bride of Christ. Just as Esther was, this Bride, the wise virgins, will be chosen out of a group of virgins.

> However, if we are using a Jewish calander, the issue must become > whether or not all of the feasts have been fulfilled in Christ by the end > of the first century. If not, it would seem that we are bound to still > keep these ceremonies until their fulfilment. Am I right?

Only Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits and Pentecost were fulfilled in 30 AD. The feasts still remaining to be fulfilled in the Millennium are Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles. We do not have to keep these feasts, the pattern has already been set, but we may if we so desire. Col. 2:16 says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of THINGS TO COME; but the body is of Christ."

On the first day of the millennial Day of the Lord, I think the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled on Jesus' birthday. It will be Coronation Day in Heaven. Jesus will receive his golden crown and be given his earthly kingdom. The Marriage of the Lamb will take place. Then will come the Judgment Seat of Christ. It will be followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Rev. 11:15-18 says, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders (which represent "us [the Bride of Christ]...out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," Rev. 3:9), which sat before God on their seats (thrones), fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come (the Second Advent is still 7 months future, Ezek. 39:12); because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and they wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest GIVE REWARD unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; AND shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth."

Rewards are given the believers in Heaven on the same day as unbelievers receive their just rewards for their unbelief on Earth. Probably that day and also after the Second Advent, the saints will be associated with Christ is executing punishments on unbelievers. Psa. 149:5-9 says, "Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron: To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints." "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked" (Psa. 91:8). "Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him ON HIGH, because he hath known my name" (Psa. 91:14).

That day, Israel will be saved in a day (Isa. 66:5). They will afflict their souls during the Days of Awe and be accepted by the Lord on the following Day of Atonement.

The Feast of Tabernacles will be kept through the Millennium. Zech 14:16,17 says, "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem (on the Feast of Trumpets) shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain."

> There is a strain of thought in eschtology that teaches that our Lord
> returned in 70AD in judgement upon Jerusalem. As such, there is a
> beautiful shadow/type teaching on His cloud return

Beautiful nor not, don't believe in such shadows. That is not reality. When the Lord returns, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM, and they also which pierced him: and ALL kindreds of the EARTH shall wail because of him" (Rev. 1:7). They will hide themselves in the rocks of the mountains and say, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Rev. 6:16,17).

Anyone that reads Revelation carefully should be able to see that "a great mountain burning with fire" (Rev. 8:8) has not yet been cast into the Mediterranean Sea (Zech. 2:4,5). The "great star (aster, asteroid) from heaven, burning as it were a lamp," (Rev. 8:10) the "stone like a great millstone" that will destroy Babylon on the Euphrates (Rev. 18:21), has not yet been cast down to Earth. These things are reserved for God's Day of Wrath. The piece of the asteroid that will hit the Mediterranean is what will stop Gog's army that is attacking Israel on that Feast of Trumpets that begins the Millennium. The larger piece of what probably is a binary asteroid like Toutatis, will destroy the headquarters of the world church and world government that are still to be moved to Babylon on the Euphrates River. Right now the former is in Rome and the latter is in New York.

They will be moved to Babylon after the Rapture of the Church. All these things are to come "hereafter" the Rapture of the Bride of Christ (Rev. 4:1), and that has not happened yet.

> I kept looking in thenight visions, And behold, WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN One like a Son
> of Man was coming And He came up to the Ancient of Days AND WAS PRESENTED BEFORE HIM. AN
> TO HIM WAS GIVEN DOMINION, GLORY AND A KINGDOM, That all the proples, nations, and men
> of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will
> not pass away; And His Kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed. (Dan. 7: 13-14).

This has not happened yet. When Jesus ascended, he sat on the right hand of his Father. Here, he is "presented BEFORE HIM. AND TO HIM WAS GIVEN DOMINION, GLORY AND A KINGDOM." These are two separate events. The former took place in 30 AD. The later will take place, I think, on the Feast of Trumpets in 2007, 40 years from the Sign of the End of the Age, when "Jerusalem, built as a city, in ONE UNITED WHOLE" became "A SIGN" to the tribes of Israel (Psa. 122:3,4, New Jerusalem Bible).

> In matthew 24, therefore, Jesus was not
> prophesying that He would literally come on the clouds in A.D. 70
> (although it was figuratively true). His literal "coming on the clouds,"
> in fulfillment of Daniel 7, had taken place about 40 years earlier.

There is no prophecy that he would come in 70 AD.

> There is not only a "cloud-coming" connection
> in Acts 1, but a High Priestly "ascent-descent" connection as well. Both
> of these connections demand an AD 70 application.

Jesus fulfilled his High Priestly duties on Resurrection Day. He did not want to be touched right after he came out of the tomb (Jn. 20:17). He went to Heaven, took the Old Testament saints to heaven with him (Eph. 4:8), returned that same day, and then could be touched (Lu. 24:39). This was in 30 AD and had nothing whatsoever to do with 70 AD.

> I would believe that this glory cloud was present at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
> But isn't the typology BEAUTIFUL.

It may be beautiful, but it is not true. He believes it without scripture to back him up. It is in his head.

> Every eye saw Him in what He did to the rebellious Jewish nation in
> fulfillment of Matthew 21:41

Not EVERY eye. The whole world cannot SEE Jerusalem. And "as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mt. 24:27).

The Bride of Christ is not to go through the Tribulation. She is "caught up" (from "harpazo in Greek," from "raptus" in Latin, "Raptured" in English) (I Thess. 4:17) before the Tribulation. She is to be kept "FROM the hour of temptation ("pierasmos," trial), which shall come upon ALL THE WORLD, to try tham that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). She loves the Lord. Before her, He has set the "OPEN DOOR" of HEAVEN (Rev. 3:8; 4:1). This is why there are no instructions given her to store food, etc, to endure the Tribulation. "At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts (Beast and False Prophet, Rev. 13) of the earth....thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and THOU SHALT VISIT THY HABITATION (in Heaven), and shalt not sin" (Job 5:24).

"He is so near, He is at the door" (Mt. 24:33, Berkeley Version).

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Heb. 10:35-38).

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Updated 7-19-98