QUESTIONS FROM A PRETERIST

preterists

There is a huge gap between the eschatological teachings of a preterist and those who hold to a dispensational premillennialist view, and building a bridge is all but easy.
Sadly, these two camps are often almost at “war” instead of discussing their differences in an edifying manner. Well, a preterist friend sent me a list of specific questions about my beliefs in dispensational premillennialism, that I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge and ability.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6)

1. Is there a single verse that explicitly teaches that the antichrist will make a covenant with the Jews and then break it?

Daniel 9:27 – “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

This is the same abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.
Although many say the “he” in Daniel 9:27 represents Jesus Christ, we can scripturally prove that it refers to the Antichrist. The last masculine noun in Daniel 9:26 is “the prince that shall come,” not the Messiah. The prince that shall come is the “he” of Daniel 9:27 and refers to the Antichrist. This becomes clearer when we read what this “he” does. We read that he causes the sacrifice to cease and the abomination of desolation. Jesus did not cause sacrifices to cease but rather He was the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus’ death took away God’s acceptance of animal sacrifices; it did not decree that animal sacrifices could no longer be made. Jesus also did not commit the abomination of desolation. We have conclusive proof that the Antichrist does both of these things in Daniel 8:11-13 and Daniel 11:31. So it is conclusive that the “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the Antichrist.

2. Is there a single verse that explicitly teaches that Jesus will reign on earth for a literal thousand years, or that Jesus will sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem during the millennium?

In Revelation 20:1-6 the millennial reign of Christ is explicitly mentioned six times. When the Lord Jesus comes back to earth it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will set up a government for the whole world with Jerusalem as capital:
“Then the seventh angel sounded. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

In a major end-time prophecy Daniel likened Christ’s Second Coming to a great rock which will smite the kingdoms of the world, grind them to powder, then become a great mountain filling the whole earth as He reigns in their place (Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45). Zechariah says: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9).

The same promise about His reigning as King on earth was made to Mary before the birth of Jesus:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:31-32).

The throne of David is not in heaven but on earth. Jesus does not now reign in a spiritual sense from the throne of David as this throne has, since the Babylonian captivity, been temporarily in suspension. Christ will restore this throne at His Second Coming and then reign from it:
“After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

The elders in heaven (the glorified church) know that they will return with Jesus to the earth and will reign here with Him in His kingdom. They explicitly say: “You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10; also see 2 Tim. 2:12).

3. Is there any explicit teaching that animal sacrifices and circumcision will be reinstated during the millennium of Revelation 20?

There are several passages in the Old Testament that clearly indicate animal sacrifice will be re-instituted during the millennial kingdom. Some passages mention it in passing as the topic of the millennial kingdom is discussed, passages like Isaiah 56:6-8; Zechariah 14:16; and Jeremiah 33:15-18.

The passage that is the most extensive, giving the greatest detail, is Ezekiel 43:18-46:24. It should be noted that this is part of a greater passage dealing with the millennial kingdom, a passage that begins with Ezekiel 40.

The primary objection made to the idea of animal sacrifices returning during the millennial kingdom is that Christ has come and offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and there is therefore no need to sacrifice animals for sin. However, it must be remembered that animal sacrifice never removed the sin that spiritually separated a person from the Lord. Most premillennial scholars agree that the purpose of animal sacrifice during the millennial kingdom is memorial in nature –”but in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year” (Hebrews 10:3).

4. How can the New Heaven and New Earth be a utopia when there is still sin therein (Isaiah 65:20; Revelation 21:8; 22:15)?

Scripture also says that this new heaven and a new earth will occur after the thousand year reign of Christ. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1). The new heavens and earth are different from the period of the Millennium. They will replace the old cursed creation. “Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him” (Revelation 22:3).

5. Is the New Jerusalem really to be taken literally, as a literal city sitting just above the earth, 1500 miles square, with one street, etc.? Isn’t the New Jerusalem better understood as the church, since it is described as having the twelve apostles as the foundation stones (Revelation 21:14) and is the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2; ref. Matthew 22:1-14; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27)?

Scripture nowhere says that the New Jerusalem is the church. Heaven is called a city. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). The New Jerusalem is the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s promises. The New Jerusalem is God’s goodness made fully manifest.

The Father and the Lamb are there (Revelation 21:22). Angels are at the gates (verse 12).
The gates of the New Jerusalem are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was chosen by God to be a light to all nations (Isaiah 49:5–7; Romans 9:23–25), and God will never revoke Israel’s status as His chosen people (see Romans 11:29). The New Jerusalem thus contains a tribute to the patriarchs of Israel. It also contains a tribute to the apostles (Revelation 21:14), so both Old Testament and New Testament are represented in the city—the New Jerusalem is filled with the elect of God from all eras.

6. Dispensationalists say that you interpret the Bible literally, but do you do so appropriately and consistently? For example, when Isaiah (Isaiah 55:12) describes the mountains and the hills breaking into song and the trees clapping their hands, is this to be taken this literally? When Isaiah (Isaiah 13:9-13) describes God shaking the earth from its place and making the stars not show their light (predicting doom on Babylon, which all scholars was fulfilled in the past), wasn’t this intended to be taken seriously but non-literally?

When we read any piece of literature, but especially the Bible, we must determine what the author intended to communicate, without guessing. One reason we should take the Bible literally is because the Lord Jesus Christ took it literally. Whenever He quoted from the Old Testament, it was always clear that He believed in its literal interpretation.

Although we take the Bible literally, there are still figures of speech within its pages. An example of a figure of speech would be that if someone said “it is raining cats and dogs outside,” you would know that they did not really mean that cats and dogs were falling from the sky. They would mean it is raining really hard. There are figures of speech in the Bible which are not to be taken literally, but those are obvious.

The Bible is God’s Word to us and He meant it to be believed—literally and completely. Can anybody really say that he or she read some so-called deeper “spiritual meaning” into the text and for certainty knows whether it’s from God or not? It would almost boil down to extra-biblical revelation, which is dangerous. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

7. If the Bible is to be interpreted 100% literally, why are the terms like “must shortly take place,” “at hand,” “quickly,” etc. not read literally?

The question is, from whose perspective? God’s or man’s? Peter told us in 2 Peter 3 that God does not count time as we count time. He makes this statement concerning the supposed “slackness” of the Lord’s coming. It is particularly with the Lord’s return in view that Peter comments on the difference between God’s perception of “soon” and our perception of “soon” which appears to be causing the confusion. For God, a thousand years are a short amount of time.

Also, the word translated as “soon” or “shortly” is the Greek word “tachei” [Strong’s #5034]. Notice how this word is defined:
Strong’s — quickness, speed; hastily, immediately
HELPS — swiftness (speed), i.e. done as quickly (speedily) as is appropriate to the particular situation (HELPS Word-studies, The Discovery Bible New Testament, Gary Hill).
It’s important to notice that the primary meaning of this word refers to the speed by which an event approaches rather than the duration of time before it arrives.

8. If “soon” means “2000 years or longer,” does that mean it was going to take Timothy 2000 years to be sent to the Philippians (or to us) by Paul (Philippians 2:19)?

Please refer to my answer to question 7.

9. If the Bible is to be interpreted 100% literally, why do some dispensationalists say the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1-3) are “church ages” and not “literal” churches?

Others may differ, but personally, I believe that though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. The first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time. The second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth. I disagree with the view that these churches foreshadow seven different periods in the history of the Church as each of the seven churches describes issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history.

10. When Colossians 1:23 states, “This is the gospel you heard and that has been proclaimed [past tense] to every living creature under heaven.” —do you interpret this literally? Had the gospel been declared to the American Indians?

The last half of this verse notes an important concept. Paul refers to the wide spread of the gospel message even in his time. Obviously, Paul does not mean—nor does he think—that every person in the world had heard the gospel when he wrote these words. Instead, as in Colossians 1:6, Paul is poetically referring to the quick spread of the gospel across many parts of the world.

11. In such passages as Matthew 13:39-40; 13:49; 24:3; 28:20; etc., isn’t Jesus referring to the end of an age (Greek aion) rather than the end of the world (Greek kosmos)? In other words, if the author was talking about the end of the world, wouldn’t he have used kosmos when he actually used aion?

The King James Bible is not wrong nor in error for translating the Greek phrase found in Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3, and 28:20 as “the end of the world”

Matthew 13:39, 40, 49 – “the harvest is the end of the world”; “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world”; “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.”

Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Not only does the King James Bible translate Matthew 24:3 as “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the WORLD”, but so also do the following Bible versions both old and modern:
Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Bishops’ Bible 1568, Geneva Bible 1599, John Wesley 1755, Webster’s 1833 translation, the Revised Version 1881, American Standard Version 1901, Spanish Reina Valera 1909 (el fin del mundo), Italian Diodati (fin del mondo), Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Alford’s translation, Bible in Basic English 1960, Phillips translation, Douay Version 1950, New Life Bible 1969, New American Bible 1970, Living Bible 1981, New Jerusalem Bible 1985, New Century Version 1988, Contemporary English Version 1991, World English Bible, Hebrew Names Version, God’s Word Translation 1995, New Living Bible 1998, Third Millenium Bible 1998, KJV 21st Century, and the Easy to Read Version 2001.

The first major English translation to be widely accepted that changed “the end of the world” to “the end of the AGE” was the liberal RSV, followed by such versions as the NRSV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV and the Holman Christian Standard.

Obviously not all scholars agree on the meaning of the word aion.

Even the modern versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV and Holman ALL at times translate this same Greek word as WORLD. The NIV does this four times – Luke 16:8 “the children of this world”; Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world”; 1 Timothy 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world…”; and 2 Timothy 4:10 “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

The NASB translates this same Greek word as “world” 7 times, including twice as “worlds” in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the WORLDS were framed by the word of God.” and “whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the WORLDS” – Hebrews 1:2. The NASB likewise has “the care of this world” Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19; and “the god of this world” 2 Corinthians 4:4, as well as agreeing with the NIV in 1 and 2 Timothy. The Holman and the NKJV also translate this word as “world” in several verses in the New Testament.

12. Since the thrust of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/25; Mark 13; Luke 21) is the destruction of the temple, isn’t it reasonable to believe that the age in question was the age of the Jewish dispensation, thus the Old Covenant order—especially since the ancient Jewish system of temple sacrifices for sin ended with the destruction of the temple in AD 70?

Gospel of Matthew was indeed written for the Jews but in the Olivet Discourse, two separate questions were clearly posed: (1) “When will the temple be destroyed?” and (2) “What is the sign of YOUR COMING at the end of this age / world?” In these prophecies, a clear distinction must be made between first generation and last generation events as they relate to the two questions asked to Jesus.

When Jesus refers to the last generation, it is done in the context of a restored Jerusalem which is in the midst of the great tribulation with its unprecedented distress, wars and natural disasters that will culminate in His Second Coming. This generation would start after the long period of the trampling of Jerusalem has come to an end. More can be read about Jerusalem in the end times in Zechariah 12 (“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH (not only Rome) be gathered together against it.” 12:3)

13. The “time of the end” mentioned in Daniel 12:1-13 was to be when the burnt offering was taken away. Since burnt offerings ended in AD 70, must not this be the timeline, thus the “last days” of which the Bible speaks?

To build an entire eschatology around one aspect (burnt offerings) you need to ignore large parts of holy Scripture. A few that come to mind – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 dealing with the perilous times we are currently witnessing, 2 Peter 3:3-4 dealing with those who scoff about His coming, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 speaking about those who will depart from faith, Zechariah 12-14 dealing with the redemption of the remnant of Israel, as Paul also addressed in Romans 11.

14. Doesn’t every mention of the last days in the New Testament refer to the first century (Matthew 24:3, 14, 34; Acts 2:14-20; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 10:11; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Hebrews 1:2; 9:26; James 5:3-9; 1 Peter 1:5, 20; 4:7; 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18).
Definitely not – The beginning of sorrows is mentioned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:4-8 (Mark 13:5-8). It is a period of time characterized by specific signs that indicate His return is near. These signs also cause an increase in pain and sorrow that the Bible likens to a woman as she goes through her pregnancy and is about to give birth.
The analogy of a pregnant woman to the end times is drawn from Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 13:6-8 that describe the Day of the Lord. Isn’t it clear how churches are falling away, how the LGBTQ enforces their unbiblical ways onto us, how statistics for abortions keep on rising, etc?

15. Is there anywhere in the New Testament a trace of evidence for a secret, invisible, instantaneous rapture of the church?

This is actually an entire subject on its own. In short, the word rapture does not occur in the Bible, as doesn’t the word “Trinity.” The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture. It is described primarily in John 14:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54.

The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).

16. If Jesus is going to rapture the church out of the world, why does Jesus pray for the exact opposite thing to happen—that the church would NOT be taken out of the world—in John 17:15?

As previously mentioned, it is dangerous to take one single verse and build or reject an entire doctrine on it. Context is always very important. John 17 begins with Jesus by praying for Himself (v. 1-5) and then for His Disciples (v. 6-19). And of course, He’s not asking the Father to take them out of the world because He’s entrusting them with the task of building His Church. Then, in verses 20-26 the prayer is for all believers in the Church Age. In verse 24 he prays, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

He was certainly not praying that all believers of the Church Age would join Him in the Upper Room on the night He was praying. To see Him and His Glory requires that we go where He is now. This is consistent with His promise of John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

To say that Jesus prayed that the Father would not take us out of the world contradicts his promise in John 14:2-3, made the same night, and violates the intent of John 17:24 as well.

17. Is eschatology so confusing that God would have us bounce around between somewhere (hades/”temporary abode”), heaven, earth, new heaven and new earth? Wouldn’t you want to stay in heaven when you get there?

It’s not about what I want but what God’s will is for me – and if that is how He planned it, as clearly stated in His Word, then so be it.

18. Is there any verse in the Bible that teaches a “seven-year tribulation?”

Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is referred to by other names such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2); trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Zephaniah 1:1); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); time or day of trouble (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:15); time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).

Sadly, those apply Replacement theology will never understand the main purposes of the tribulation. An understanding of the 70 weeks of Daniel, and especially Daniel 9:24-27, is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation.

For further references about the tribulation, see Revelation 11:2-3, which speaks of 1260 days and 42 months, and Daniel 12:11-12, which speaks of 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

19. Doesn’t the Jewish War of 66-70 AD qualify as a great tribulation, given that that over a million Jews were killed, their nation was dissolved, their temple decimated, and along with it went their whole world order and the centerpiece of their religion—the centuries old system of animal sacrifices for sin?

I am always amazed by the fact how preterists and amillennialists choose to blindly ignore Matthew 24:21 – “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Much worse things happened in the history of mankind than 70AD, which only affected the Jewish people.

20. DIDN’T JESUS SPECIFICALLY SAY THE TRIBULATION WOULD HAPPEN IN HIS GENERATION (Matthew 24:9, 21, 29, 34)? Isn’t every time the phrase “this generation” used in the New Testament outside of the Oliver Discourse, the meaning is clearly those living in the first century (Matthew 11:16; 12:38-45; 23:36; Mark 8:12; 8:38-9:1; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 49-51; 17:25).

It is common sense that all other references to “generation” referred to those who lived during the time of Christ’s first coming when He preached. On the other hand, context is needed and the reference to “generation” in Matthew 24 clearly deals with the generation who will live during the tribulation.

21. If the great tribulation (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21) is global, why did Jesus tell those living in Judea to flee to the mountains to avoid the tribulation (Matthew 24:16)? If the great tribulation is global, why did Daniel only refer to it occurring to those who were the “children of my people”?

As previously mentioned, Matthew was written to a Jewish audience and also, one needs to understand God’s plan with the Jewish nation to really understand the Jewish context. But end time prophecy does not start and end with Matthew 24 and Daniel 12. A proper study of the book of Revelation makes it very clear that the wrath of God will be poured onto the entire world. In Revelation 6:1-8 we read that the first four seals broken unleash four riders on the earth to conquer and spread war, famine, and death. Revelation 17 and 18 clearly deals with the entire world, etc.

22. If the Great Tribulation was to be global, why does Jesus compare it to Sodom and Gomorrah which was clearly local (Luke 17:25-32), also Peter (2 Peter 2:5-9)?

Once again, look at the context. As in the days of Noah and Lot (before the Jews!), people will live their worldly lives, not even considering that Jesus can come at any time. It is really not difficult to see how evil today, does not differ much from the evil of those days. If God didn’t spare them from His wrath, why will He spare the current evil world.

23. Doesn’t Daniel tell us exactly when the time of distress (12:1), the resurrection (12:2), the time of the end (12:9), and the abomination of desolation (12:11)—all occur when the power of the holy people has finally been broken (12:7) and the burnt offering taken away (12:11)? Can there be ANY doubt that this was AD 70?

This question has been answered in the answers above.

To conclude, it is very clear from these questions that preterists do not pay much attention to context. For them, it is only a matter of covering all prophecies under one blanket – 70 AD.

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” REVELATION 22:18-19

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!

entertainment

Our society offers so much. If I am lonely or depressed, if I feel empty and unfulfilled, there are film shows, television programmes, DVDs, music, stories, plots, drama, action, thrillers, romance, whodunits, adventure, you name it, we’ve got it. Slow music, rock, classic, pop, rap, hip hop, rave, metal, or underground? Perhaps you need to go to a disco, or night club, or a trance party. Lights, noise, laughter, rhythm, music, people… yes, people. But why are there so many empty and artificial people around? They seem so false. They also look lonely. Why?

Try some magazines, the newspaper, or the Internet. Wars, political intrigue, crime, inflation, scandals, skip that… what’s on at the movies? I wonder why I feel so empty inside? I feel nothing as I read of the starving millions, of war victims, terrorism and murders. Why do I care so little about other people? It could’ve been me… Let’s see what DSTV has to offer. Try binging another Netflix series, that might work.

I feel I’m getting more and more empty and frustrated inside. I think so much less than I used to. I do so little. Visit our relatives? Goodness no, we’ll miss that T.V. programme and besides, what is there to talk about? Pour another drink, put on another CD for background music. Light up a cigarette, yes, I know it is unhealthy, I know my lungs are being corroded away and I cough so much. I will try to kick the habit next week.

Why am I so restless, so ill at ease? Let’s try the amusement park, circus or gambling. Bright lights, beautiful colours, noise, music, laughter, crowds… yes, people! But, why does life seem so meaningless and pointless? I feel like a merry-go-round. I’m not getting anywhere. Let’s go to the casino. Try the one-armed bandits and Lotto. Some lose, some gain, but I come away feeling empty. Could I be wasting my time?

PlayStation 3! Xbox 1! Computer games are fun… but why do I feel like I’m wasting my time? My life seems to lack direction. There is no real purpose in life. Gambling seems to be a tax on those who cannot do maths. Cards, racehorses, games! Life seems to be one big game. Have you heard the latest joke? Why am I afraid of silence? I’m afraid to be alone. Where’s my cell phone? Who can I SMS or WhatsApp?

The T.V. can help me kill time. The radio, iPhone, MP3 player, iPod and cell phone must crowd out those restless thoughts within me. Who am I? What am I doing here? Where am I going? Try some make-believe: put on another series. Let’s “google” something on the Internet. What am I so afraid of? Why do I need so much noise and so many gadgets and amusements to keep me occupied? Why am I so empty inside? My life seems to be controlled and manipulated by this pleasure-mad, entertainment-orientated world. Advertising offers so much; it all sounds so good, but it is so disappointing. I feel like my soul’s been ransacked and all the meaning and identity has been robbed from my life. Life is so plastic and artificial.

God, is this the way it’s meant to be? You never made the world this way, did You? Why do I feel so dead inside? Is it because I’ve tried to live without You? I know I haven’t paid much attention to the Bible – would that have helped? I suppose I should get into nature more. Would prayer help? I feel like I’ve been missing out on what life is really meant to be. It’s like I’ve let this synthetic society rape me of all reality and peace of mind. Can You forgive me for all these wasted, misused years? Will You show me a better way to live? Please fill this empty void in my life with reality and love.

I’ve been existing when I should have been living. I’ve been playing when I should have been praying. I’ve been reading the newspaper and surfing the Internet when I should have been reading the Bible, I’ve listened to the radio and my iPod instead of to You. Oh God, forgive me, I have spent more time watching T.V. than helping your creatures. No wonder my life has been so empty and frustrating. I have wasted my time and money on worthless man-made make-believe. My life and talents have rotted away while I have endured electronic mass-production entertainment and digital distractions.

Thank You for showing me life as it really is in the Bible.

Thank You for showing me what it can be. Thank You, Jesus, for showing me the way: what an example You are! Help me to live an unselfish life serving You and Your creation. Thank You for the beautiful forests and mountains! Thank You for clean country air and live animals in the game parks. I enjoy being alone now. You are there. I am different now, You have changed me. Since I surrendered my life to You, You have shown me how much You love me. You even came as a human being to die the death I deserve. Thank You for taking my punishment in order to free me from this selfish, sinful life I have been wasting my life on.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for giving my life meaning, purpose and direction. I find that I do not need artificial stimulation from entertainment and make-believe anymore. I like people now; they do not threaten me anymore. I want to help them. Things are so different already. I feel like I have been freed from slavery.

You have given me a New Start in life and a New Life to start.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

SOURCE:
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THE RAPTURE SERIES 10: THE COMING OF THE LORD (PART B)

0 RAPTURE

Who Are The Two Witnesses?

It is our understanding that Moses and Elijah, two great men of Israel, will fulfill the office of the “two olive trees” and “two candlesticks” spoken of in Revelation 11.

Elijah was a servant of God who shut the heavens so that it would not rain. Moses raised his rod and turned the waters into blood. Revelation 11:5-6 reads, “…if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” By supernatural power, these two witnesses will be in Jerusalem testifying the truth of God to the world.

During that time, the Church of Jesus Christ, the light of this world, will be in the presence of the Lord. Israel will remain blind, having accepted the Antichrist as her redeemer. As a result, God will supernaturally interfere, to leave a testimony on earth by sending Moses and Elijah as His witnesses.

Prophets Must Be Killed In Jerusalem

However, we read that these two prophets will be killed by the beast who rises up out of the sea. Their bodies will openly lay in the streets of Jerusalem as a testimony against the world. Revelation 11:8 confirms this by reporting, “… their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

Jerusalem, the most glorified city, will have experienced a negative transformation. No longer will she be considered the city of the peace and joy of the Lord, but she will be called “Sodom and Egypt.” Sodom was the epitome of sin against the Lord because of the Sodomites—or in today’s vernacular, homosexuals—who ruled that city with their publically exhibited practice, which is an abomination to the Lord.

Romans 1:24 testifies, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”

To be called “Egypt” would remind Jerusalem of the land of bondage, which prophetically shows that Israel will come into the bondage of the Gentile nations. This time, however, it will not be by force, but voluntarily, for Jesus prophesied that when another shall come in His name, they will receive him.

The fact that these two great prophets will die in Jerusalem reminds us of the words of the Lord “…for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). Elijah did not see death but was raptured into Heaven, therefore he did not die in Jerusalem. He crossed the Jordan River and then ascended into Heaven outside the borders of the Promised Land. Neither Moses nor Elijah have fulfilled Luke 13:33 in that they did not die in Jerusalem or in the Promised Land.

These two great prophets will return to Jerusalem, the center of the world, where they die, but will resurrect after 3 1/2 days and ascend into Heaven. Again, we see the Rapture demonstrated right in the city of Jerusalem.

When these two prophets are resurrected after 3 1/2 days, they will be raptured into the clouds of Heaven in view of all the people. As a result, a great earthquake will occur and, “… the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). Subsequently, the Rapture of the true prophets will result in a revival among “the remnant” which undoubtedly refers to Israel, and they will give God the glory.

On the other hand, when the Rapture of the Church takes place, we find no indication in the Bible that it will result in repentance or the glorification of God. However, we believe that the “remnant “of Gentiles left behind, whose family members have been raptured, will indeed be very afraid and many will give God the glory and be converted.

The effect of the testimony of these two witnesses in Jerusalem points to Israel’s preparation for the outpouring of the Spirit of grace and supplication at the coming of Jesus.

Non Believers-Non Repentance

Let’s look at the different reactions to God’s supernatural interference as outlined for us in the book of Revelation. At the opening of the sixth seal we see that man is totally unrepentant. Beginning in Revelation 6:15-16 we read, “…the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Instead of repenting they try to hide from the wrath of the Lamb!

After one-third of the world’s population is killed, we read in Revelation 9:20-21, “…the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

When the fourth and fifth angel pour out their vials, we hear this shocking testimony, “… the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Revelation 16:8-11). Instead of repentance there is blasphemy! This should have been enough to bring everyone to their knees. Verses such as this leave no room for the mocking attitude of those who say, “Well, I only believe what I see.” The people referred to in Revelation 16 see the indisputable evidence of the God of Creation with their own eyes, yet they still find no room for repentance, or space to believe.

Michael The Archangel

The book of Daniel specifically identifies Michael the archangel as being on Israel’s side, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). This verse is referring to the Great Tribulation. Michael the archangel is standing for the defense of Israel. We can well imagine that when the Rapture takes place, the “shout” that is heard will be the voice of Michael, for he will come in defense of Israel.

With the Church gone, there will be no more prayers for Israel, resulting in total darkness for her. For the first time in history, the Jews will be in danger of totally losing their identity. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that Michael come into action for this people because the Church is gone.

It is significant to note that Michael’s action on behalf of Israel will not be evident from the beginning. When the Church is raptured, the Jews’ trouble will have only just begun. After Israel has accepted the Antichrist as her Messiah, they must go through to the end of the seven-year tribulation. . .only then will Israel experience salvation.

The Meeting Place

Jesus is not coming to earth at the time of the Rapture. That will only happen when Jesus’ feet literally stand upon the Mount of Olives. This event will be fulfilled only after the Rapture takes place. In the very same manner He left Israel, He must return for Israel.

According to the Acts of the Apostles, when Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples looked up toward Heaven. Two unidentified men dressed in white gave this message, “…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus will physically come back to the Mount of Olives for Israel just as the prophets declared, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).

The meeting place for the Church with her Lord is described very clearly, “… in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air….” This first phase of the Second Coming, which we call the Rapture, is not for Israel or the world; it is only for His blood-bought believers, Jews and Gentiles!

Two Rapture Categories

The Rapture involves two categories of believers: those who have already died in the Lord and those who are still alive at that moment. It is this great hope that the Church of Jesus Christ has had for many centuries: the sudden removal and translation of our bodies which leads us into the presence of the Lord.

The apostle Paul’s prayer and deep yearning gave him the comfort, “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life”‘(2nd Corinthians 5:4). He had a living hope of the reality of the Rapture!

The apostle Paul also accepted the possibility that he would have to die and be separated from his physical body which he reveals in 2nd Corinthians 5:6, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” In verse 8 he confesses, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” This is a demonstration of genuine faith, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” From the beginning, his hope, and by association, the hope of the Church, was the coming of the Lord in the clouds of Heaven. The early

Christians were waiting for the Rapture to take place at any moment, just as we are today. Nevertheless, they fully accepted the possibility that they might have to die first.

The Glorified Body

What is the difference between dying now and being in the presence of the Lord, or not dying and being raptured into the presence of the Lord? We have already seen the desire expressed by Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:4 to be “…clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” In other words, to have their body instantaneously translated into the likeness of His glorious body, which believers are to receive the moment of the Rapture. Read Paul’s words: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked” (2nd Corinthians 5:2-3).

To understand this better, let us take a look at one of the mysteries that the Bible reveals in relation to the Rapture, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53). This will take place instantaneously. A Dutch translation says “…in an inseparable moment of time…” In simple words, this means that the bodies in which we now dwell have no promise or future on earth.

Knowledge Of Death Brings Wisdom

May we urge you, dear reader, to recognize that day by day, we are getting older. You may have more aches and pains and some parts of your body may not function like they used to. If you are physically fit, you can rest assure that it won’t last. As impossible as it may sound, do not despair-but rejoice, for the end of this very short earthly life is the beginning of eternity. We do well to heed the admonition found in Psalm 90:12, “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When our hope and faith is anchored securely in Jesus and not in our own works, we can rejoice with the full assurance that the best is yet to come!

Glory Without The Body

For this reason, we should not spend too much time or energy promoting the healing of the body, as many prosperity preachers and healing ministries try to do. The Bible says “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” While the body is important, as we have seen in Moses’ case, we must understand that our flesh and blood are only part of the outer shell which contains the new person. All who have died in the Lord Jesus are already in His presence without their glorified bodies. This means they are not “made perfect.” They are saved for all eternity, are secure forever and are already experiencing the glory of the Lord. Yet they must wait until they receive their glorified body which will take place at the Rapture.

Receiving our glorified bodies also includes the Old Testament saints. Hebrews 11 is the chapter of faith that begins with its definition: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Followed by the definition is the testimony of a great host of saints who claimed the victory because they believed.

Verse 35 reveals the difference between physical resurrection unto life and the better resurrection unto eternal life, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” The last two verses summarize their reason for waiting, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, recieved not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39- 40). In simple terms, the saints cannot be translated until the Bridegroom receives His Bride: The Church.

The Best Is Yet To Come

To further clarify this matter, we read again from 1st Thessalonians 4:15, “For we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” What does it mean to “not prevent them which are asleep”? Luther translated it this way, “We shall not advance (or be ahead) of those who sleep.” Verse 16 concludes with the following statement, “… the dead in Christ shall rise first.” They have been waiting longer than us and will be the first to receive their glorified bodies.

A Warning

At this point we must express to you a strong warning. When the Rapture does take place, it will be too late for you to belong to the Church. If you are not born again at that time you will definitely be left behind! The Rapture is the perfecting of the Bride of Christ. If you are left behind it will be too late to belong to the Church.

Dr. Wim Malgo used this example: “This change, the sudden renewal, will take place as quickly as the response of an electric lightbulb to the operation of a switch that is turned on. Suddenly, it is light! Only a moment before, the bulb looked grey and dismal but because it is connected to the power supply and the switch is operated, it is instantly transformed. This can be seen every evening in towns and cities everywhere, as thousands upon thousands of little glass bulbs are transformed in an instant when the switch is operated. This is a wonderful illustration of the transformation of God’s children when Jesus comes.”

Everything you have done for the Kingdom of God up until that point will count for eternity. In the same way, everything you have neglected to do or postponed will be a loss for all eternity!

No Endtime Signs For The Rapture

No signs will precede the coming Rapture. How vain is the attempt of man to think that he can pick the mind of the Almighty God by using mathematical theories to calculate the day of the Lord’s return? Many have been put to shame in the past and great damage has been done to the Church of Jesus Christ because some have tried to “figure out” the exact date of the Rapture. We may no the season that we are in, but none of us will know the exact date.

Waiting For Him Alone

Virtually all Bible-believing Christians agree that the Word of God warns us to be ready at any time. That being the case, any statement regarding the timing of the Rapture is contrary to Scripture. If someone tells us that the Rapture will take place at the beginning, middle, or even after the Great Tribulation, then we logically wouldn’t have to wait for the Lord today. If we are told to wait for something else to happen, such as the tribulation or the appearance of the Antichrist, our priority will shift: we do not need to wait for Jesus because something else is to take place first.

When we transfer this to the event of the Rapture, it becomes extremely dangerous because now we would have to change Titus 2:13 from, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” to, “Looking for the coming of the Great Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.” If that were true, we would have to wait for the beginning of the tribulation, or as recently popularized, the beginning of the Pre-wrath period.

Such an idea is extremely dangerous and diametrically opposes the teaching of the Holy Scripture.

Someone may object to this and say, “Hasn’t the Lord given us many signs that we should take notice of preceding His coming?” Yes, that is true. However, these signs were given for His physical coming to earth, or to be more precise, for Israel when He comes to the Mount of Olives. He was specifically addressing the people of Israel and gave them signs to notice. When He sent out His disciples, Jesus told them not to go to the Gentiles but only to the house of Israel because a promise was given to them that the kingdom of God would come on earth. In general, the signs of the Bible are given to the Jewish people, but the Jews themselves are a sign to us!

The fact that Israel became a nation in 1948, and is being established today as one of the power centers of the Middle East, indicates that the time is drawing near. We must heed the Lord’s words more than ever, “… when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (18)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

8. Christ’s Companions on Second Preaching Tour Reference: Lk. 8:1-3

While Jesus did not appoint any women apostles or place women in places of leadership, He did lift the status of women and recognize their place of ministry. On this preaching tour through Galilee He took with Him, not only the Twelve, but three women whose names are mentioned, along with many others who ministered to Him and His apostles of their means. Susanna is mentioned only this once in the N.T. Joanna is mentioned here and in Lk. 3:27 and 24:10. Mary Magdalene is mentioned twelve times: Matt. 27:56,61; 28:1; Mk. 15:40,47; 16:1,9; Lk. 8:2; 24:10; John 19:25; 20:1,18). We have no record of how or when these women became disciples. Nothing is said to identify Susanna. We do know that Joanna was the wife of King Herod’s steward, which is an interesting sidelight. But Mary Magdalene is described as a demon possessed woman out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons. These women seem to have had more spiritual insight than did the apostles.

The two Marys are mentioned together at the sepulchre of Christ watching as Joseph wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and laid it in the tomb and then rolled a great stone over the door. These same two Marys were the first at the tomb, at daybreak on Sunday morning, and they were the first human beings to see the risen Christ (Mk. 16:9). And when these women told the Apostles Jesus had arisen from the dead, they believed not. God has honored and rewarded these women by placing their names in Holy Writ for hundreds of generations to further honor them for their love and devotion to Christ.

9. The Unpardonable Sin
References: Matt. 12:22-45; Mk. 3:19-30, cf. Lk. 11:14-23; 6:43-45; 11:29-32

The references in this section are quite fragmented, especially in Luke.
First, Mark tells us that the multitudes surrounded Jesus to the extent that no one could so much as eat bread. The friends of Jesus thought He was crazy and went to take charge of Him. (It is not clear whether His friends said He was crazy, or the people who were gathered.) On this occasion Jesus was casting out a demon from a blind and dumb man. When the man spoke and saw, the multitudes marveled, but the Jewish leaders accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons. Jesus showed the impossibility of their charge, for if Satan was divided against himself, his power would be destroyed. But if Jesus was casting out demons by the Spirit of God it was evident that the Kingdom of God was manifesting itself.

Then follows what has been called the unpardonable sin, which has been so misinterpreted as to cause many people deep spiritual harm, for fear they have committed it. The character of the sin is said to be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin could not be any sin against Jesus Christ, for Christ plainly stated that sins against Himself were forgivable, but this sin against the Holy Spirit was not forgivable. What is this sin? Do we read anywhere of men thus blaspheming the Holy Spirit?
We believe first that this sin could not be committed until the Holy Spirit was given, and that was after the death and resurrection of Christ. Next, we believe that Israel’s sin against the Son of Man in crucifying Him was forgiven, for Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given, and one of the functions of the Spirit was to enlighten and reprove of sin, because they believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ.

After Pentecost the rulers of Israel were no longer acting in ignorance. In rejecting Christ now, they were sinning against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we read Stephen’s indictment in Acts 7:51: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did so do ye.” They were resisting the Holy Spirit, but when Paul was raised up as the new apostle of the Gentiles, Paul still had dealings with the people of Israel in the dispersion. On his first missionary journey when he was in Antioch of Pisidia and the Jews opposed him, it is said, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Again the same thing happened at Corinth: “And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles” (Acts 18:6). And finally the same thing happened when Paul reached Rome as a prisoner and preached to the Jews (Acts 28:25-28). Paul says that he himself was formerly a blasphemer, but he acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim. 1: 13), and in his hatred of Jesus he forced others to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).

Therefore, we believe that this sin against the Holy Spirit was committed by Israel during the book of Acts period. There are many warnings against sin of any kind in Paul’s epistles, but interesting enough, nowhere does he speak of an unforgivable sin in this dispensation of grace.

After this Jesus gave some similitudes of good and bad men bringing forth good and bad fruit, even as good and bad trees do. The importance of spoken words is emphasized. Men will have to give account of every idle or careless word they speak. Men will be justified or condemned by their words.

The next paragraph deals with signs. God has always dealt in signs with Israel. Paul tells us that the Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22). Here the Jews demanded a sign from Jesus to accredit His claims. The only sign He will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. It goes without saying that Jesus knew and believed the story of Jonah to be a true historic event. Those who call this story a myth impugns the testimony of Christ. While the story of Jonah is historically true it is also a parable or illustration of the nation of Israel. Israel had a commission from God to make His name known to the Gentile nations, but like Jonah they refused. As a result God dispersed them among the Gentiles, even as Jonah fled to Tarshish. On board the ship a great storm arose and Jonah was cast overboard into the sea, which is often a figure for the Gentile nations, where Jonah was miraculously preserved, even as Israel has been preserved as a distinct ethnic group over the centuries. As Jonah was vomited up out of the sea, so Israel will again be restored as a nation upon her own land. And finally as Jonah then went to Nineveh and preached and the whole city repented, so Israel, when they are restored, will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations; the so-called Great Commission will be carried out, and the nations of the earth will be converted. But in the present context Jesus makes the experience of Jonah in the belly of the sea-monster to be typical of His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus claimed to be greater than Jonah and greater than Solomon: hence the greater the condemnation which would come upon those who had the greater enlightenment and yet did not repent.

The final paragraph in this section is the record of a demon who is evicted and later returns with seven other demons worse than himself, so that the latter end of the one possessed is worse than the first. This is the story of the nation of Israel. They had reformed and evicted the demon of idolatry with which they had been possessed in the days before the dispersion, and now they refuse to be filled with the Spirit of God. When the demon returns he finds Israel “empty, swept, and garnished.” He enters in with even worse companions and takes possession of Israel again. This describes their condition in the time of great tribulation (cf. Rev. 12:13).

10. The True Kindred of Christ
References: Matt. 12:46-50; Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21

We do not think that Jesus showed disrespect for His mother and brothers according to the flesh by apparently denying them and turning to His true disciples and calling the ones who did the will of the Father in heaven, his mother and brethren. Rather Jesus was making it plain that His mother and brothers in the flesh did not have any unique or favored relationship with Himself. As we have seen, Jesus placed Himself in subjection to His earthly parents until He became of age, and even as He was dying on the cross He made provision for His mother (John 19:26,27).

Spiritual ties can bind people more closely together than physical ties. In fact, many times believers find their natural relations antagonistic to spiritual things. Jesus Himself experienced this, for we read: “Neither did His brethren believe in Him.” In fact, Jesus predicted that because of His being rejected by Israel, instead of bringing peace to the world, He would bring division: father divided against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law (Lk. 12:49-53).

11. The Parables of the Mysteries of the Kingdom
References: Matt. 13:1-53; Mk. 4:1-34; Lk. 8:4-18

A. Why Parables? Matt. 13:10-17; Mk. 4:10-12; Lk. 8:9.10. The Greek word “parable” means “something thrown alongside.” The parable places a truth from nature alongside a spiritual one. Since parables are figures of speech used to illustrate spiritual truth, Christ’s answer to the disciples’ question may seem paradoxical: “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Also He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” Thus, parables were used by Christ to reveal truth to His disciples, and to conceal truth from the unbelieving Jews.

While various spiritual applications may be drawn from the parables, it is most important to understand their primary interpretation. The parables deal with either the subjects of the Kingdom or with the chief Character of the Kingdom, who is depicted under such figures as Nobleman, King, Bridegroom, Builder, Master, Judge, Sower, Husbandman, Shepherd, Physician, Creditor, Rock and Cornerstone. After we understand the primary meaning of the parables, we may make secondary applications to ourselves in this Church age, for the simple reason that there are certain moral and spiritual truths which are unchangeable and apply to mankind in every age.

The parables in this section concern “the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of heaven in Matthew is synonymous with the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke. This Kingdom is not to be thought of either as God’s general sovereignty over the universe, or as a purely spiritual kingdom which consists of all holy and righteous beings. Both of these aspects of the Kingdom of God have always existed whereas that aspect of the Kingdom which is before us in the Gospels is something that was near at hand at that time, but its establishment was yet future. Therefore, it seems evident that the Kingdom of which Christ spoke was the Davidic, Messianic, earthly Millennial Kingdom which is the subject of Old Testament prophecy.

The word “mystery” in Scripture is not something mysterious, but rather something which had been kept secret but is now revealed. There was nothing secret about God’s purpose to establish the Messianic Kingdom upon the earth. This was one of the main burdens of Old Testament prophecy. What then is the secret about the Kingdom which these parables reveal? As we understand it, the secret is that the Kingdom was not to be established at the first coming of the Messiah, but at His second coming. The Jews expected that the Kingdom would appear immediately (Lk. 19:11). Instead, Christ taught that the Messiah must first die, and then there must be the worldwide sowing of the Gospel of the Kingdom, during which good and evil would grow up together until the end of the age, at which time He would return, judge the nations, and establish His Kingdom. Old Testament prophecy does not distinguish between the two comings of Christ and the interval in between. Isa. 61:1 is an example. Thus far a period of 2000 years has intervened between. the first and last clauses of this verse. The same is true concerning the 70 heptads of years which Daniel prophesied unto the establishment of the Kingdom. There is no intimation that 2000 years would intervene between the 69th and the 70th heptad. It is therefore not exactly correct to state that Christ came the first time to offer the Kingdom to Israel. He did preach that the Kingdom was near, but He came to present Himself to Israel as the Messiah, to be rejected, and to die a sacrificial death. It was only after this that the Kingdom could be offered to Israel, as indeed it was in the early chapters of the Acts. Those who fail to understand the meaning of the mysteries of the Kingdom teach that Christ came the first time to offer and establish the Kingdom, and that since Israel rejected the offer, God began something entirely new and different on the Day of Pentecost.

Before looking at the parables themselves, we might ask: Why would Christ adopt a method of teaching which would keep certain people from understanding the truth? To answer this, we must understand something about what is called “judicial blindness.” This means that when people harden their hearts toward God and close their eyes to the light, He confirms their action and keeps them in the dark. Christ quoted Isa. 6:9,10; read Matt. 13:13-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; John 12:39-41; Acts 28:25-27; and Rom. 11:7-12. All of these passages speak of the judicial blindness which God pronounced upon the people of Israel, first in Isaiah’s day, then in Christ’s day, and finally in Paul’s day. In all three cases Israel closed their eyes to the light which God gave them, and as a judgment God sealed their eyes shut. This blindness of Israel was not total, that is, not all Israelites were blinded, for some did believe. Paul states that “blindness in part has happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and then all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25,26).

It should be noted that while Matthew records seven “mystery” parables, Mark and Luke record only the first one, about the Sower. Mark then relates the parable of the candle and the parable of the unconscious growth, before giving another of the mystery parables, that of the Mustard Seed. Luke also mentions the Mustard Seed and the Leaven in a different context (13:18-21).

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCE OF THE KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

0 KINGS

INTRODUCTION

The period of the kings and writing prophets spanned from 1050-432 BC. The kings only ruled from 1050-586 BC whereas the prophets continued to preach and write to the needs of the nation of Israel.

Beginning with the settlement of Canaan, and through the period of the judges, Israel was merely a group of scattered, unorganized tribes. They had little connection with each other, almost living as separate peoples.

Samuel was the bridge between this original, isolated condition of the people, and the period when the kingdom was united under its first king. This prophet—priest ushered in a period of transition and radical changes in Hebrew life, which molded Israel into a united nation.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KINGS AND CHRONICLES?

It is clear to even the casual reader that the books of 1 and 2 Kings share a great deal of similarities with the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. So much so, in fact, that some wonder why it is that we have both of these accounts of Israel’s history in our Bibles.

At first glance it can seem as though the same information is being repeated but from a slightly different angle. And this is, to some extent, true. Roughly 50% of the material in Chronicles is covered elsewhere in the Old Testament.

So why do we have both Kings and Chronicles in our Bibles? The answer lies in understanding the differences between these two histories of Israel.

In order to account for these differences, we must first understand the date and setting of each of these books.

Together with the books of Samuel, Kings was written around 550-560 BC during the Babylonian exile, while Chronicles was written after the exile was over, around 450-440 BC. Whereas Samuel/Kings addressed the hardhearted Jews experiencing exile and captivity, Chronicles seeks to inspire hope and faith in God among those who are hurting after this spiritually devastating ordeal.

The fact that these two accounts of Israel’s history are given to different audiences accounts for the contrasts between the two. While Samuel/Kings needed to show the people that the nation’s troubles were the result of their sinful disobedience rather than God’s abandonment of His people, Chronicles wanted to encourage the Israelites and help them turn back to worshiping Yahweh as the one true God.

Three distinctives in Chronicles help show how it is different than Samuel/Kings.

A Focus on David and Solomon

The Chronicler focuses heavily on David and Solomon, to the tune of 29 chapters. When discussing these rulers, the spotlight is on their triumphs rather than their respective failures of adultery and idolatry.

Though Chronicles does not whitewash history, it does deal more favorably with many of the kings of Israel. For instance, the wicked King Manasseh is described as an evil king in both 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 33, but only Chronicles mentions his repentance and return to God.

A Focus on Judah

A second distinctive is that the Chronicler focuses primarily on the kings of Judah, the house of David, rather than the kings of Israel (remember, the kingdoms were divided after the death of Solomon). When the kings of Israel (the northern kingdom) are mentioned, it is because it has a direct connection to the narrative related to the exploits of Judah in the south.

While it does not ignore the northern kingdom and the complex issues associated with it, the book of Chronicles sees Judah as the center of God’s work among His people.

A Focus on Restoration

Lastly, whereas Samuel/Kings acknowledges that God dealt with the wickedness of Israel’s kings by punishing even their descendents, Chronicles focuses on God’s dealing with obedient and disobedient kings within their own lifetime.

The overall purpose of Chronicles was not to browbeat an already dejected Israel, but to lift them up and point them back to God. This is why it is fitting that the book of Chronicles is the final book in the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh). By demonstrating for them how God is in control, the author of Chronicles seeks to inspire a return to proper worship and reverence for Yahweh, the God of Israel.

While there is more that can be said about the difference between the books of Kings and Chronicles, the above distinctives reveal that the latter book is not redundant. When we read Scripture – particularly the Old Testament – we must remember that while these books were written for us they were not originally written to us.

The original readers of these books would have been much better attuned to the differences in their content and in their purpose. As we read through the Bible we will always benefit by trying to first understand what the text meant to the original audience before we try to understand how it applies to us today.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Reading the Bible chronologically can be a refreshing way to see it through new eyes. We might think that because the Bible starts with creation and ends with Revelation it’s already laid out sequentially, but it’s not. Reading it in the order that events occurred can equip us to understand its narrative more clearly and see it from a fresh perspective.

Studying the time of the Israeli kings and the prophets in the Old Testament can often be a little confusing, especially when taking into consideration that we not only dealing with a single book or two, but with the second book of Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, the 4 major and 12 minor prophetic books.

The main purpose of this article is to provide you with a chronological list of references to Scripture to assist you in your studies. Although such a chronological list may never be 100% accurate, we trust that it would at least provide some guidance.

Please click on the link below to open the downloadable pdf list:

CHRONOLOGY OF ISRAEL’S KINGS, PROPHETS AND THE CHRONICLES

AMILLENNIALISM VERSUS DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

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As things are getting worse and world is becoming more wicked, the wider the gap is becoming between the believers in Amillennialism and those who believe in Dispensational Pre-millennialism. Let’s have a look on some of the core issues causing these eschatological differences:

ORIGINS OF AMILLENNIALISM AND DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

Amillennialists often claim that Dispensational Pre-millennialism was a “new invention” by John Nelson Darby in 1830. This is a lie. It seems that the historical argument is on the side of premillennialism since people close to the Apostle John held premillennial views, and because premillennialism was the overwhelming view of those in Asia Minor and the church of the second century. As an example, Papias (A.D. 60–130) was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, Asia Minor. He was a contemporary of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. He held on to a chiliastic [premillennial] view.

Amillennialism on the other hand, has its origin with Augustine who, to a large extent, laid the foundations for Roman Catholic eschatology in the fourth century and was later adopted by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many other teachings of Augustine. Prior to Augustine, Amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed Pre-millennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Protestant leaders such as Calvin, Luther, and Melanchthon are properly classed as Amillennial. Although these men made great contributions with regards to the doctrines of salvation, the completely failed on eschatological issues. Sadly, to many they have become idols  and whatever they believed and preached are blindly followed without a willingness to search the Scriptures for themselves.

INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECIES

In Dispensational Pre-millennialism, a literal interpretation of the Bible is applied. The literal interpretation gives each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Allowances are however being made for symbols, figures of speech, and types, of course. It is understood that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. So, for example, when the Bible speaks of “a thousand years” in Revelation 20, dispensationalists interpret it as a literal period of 1,000 years (the dispensation of the Kingdom), since there is no compelling reason to interpret it otherwise. They believe that the Word of God says what it means and means what it says.

In Amillennialism, an “allegorical” method of interpretation of prophecy is being used. Allegorical interpretation looks for a so-called deeper, spiritual meaning within the text. It becomes easy to read one’s own beliefs into the allegory and then think that they have scriptural support. They are also very inconsistent in their approach. For instance, they believe in the literal creation in Genesis but deny the literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth in the book of Revelation. Also, in general, they agree that all prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, but to those that relate to His second coming, they apply allegory.

VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND OTHER PROPHECIES

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that Revelation is a futuristic prophetic book. They also interpret the prophecies in Matthew 24 and in many other pieces of Scripture as related to the Second coming of Christ. There is no historical evidence that these prophecies have already been all been fully fulfilled – not in 70AD or any other time in history. The Bible tells us to watch for the signs of His coming and we are currently seeing many of these prophecies playing off before our very eyes.

The majority of the Amillennialists, including the Roman Catholic Church, hold to the believe that Revelation is a historic book, merely depicting the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second. Although most of the prophecies in other books of the Bible are spiritualizes by Amillennialists, they often also defend their eschatological view by saying that all prophecies were fulfilled during the first coming of Jesus Christ.

VIEWS OF THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN

Dispensational Pre-millennialists hold to the believe that Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, as clearly stated six times in Revelation 20. The millennial reign is also being described at great length in various passages in the prophetic books in the Old Testament.  It will be a time unlike any in history and it will also be unlike the conditions in the eternal state described in Revelation 21 and 22.

Amillennialists however do not hold to the believe that Jesus Christ will physically reign on the earth for exactly a 1,000 years. The’”y believe that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and that He is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

VIEWS ON THE BINDING OF SATAN

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Satan will be bound at the second coming, after the seven year tribulation and before the thousand year reign of Christ, as clearly mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3. They believe that he currently “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Although Satan is revealed in Scripture as a created being of great power, wickedness, and cleverness, Amillennialists ignore or minimize his power and activity. Because they believe that we are already in the Millennium, they also believe that He is already bound. They identify the binding of Satan as an act subsequent to the victory of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.  This interpretation has no basis in the text of Revelation 20:1-3 itself, but that it is superimposed upon the text. No one reading Revelation would possibly arrive at such a conclusion unless determined to make it harmonize with a preconceived idea, namely their view on the 1,000 year reign.

VIEWS ON THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that there will be a tribulation for a period of seven years, divided in to 3 ½ years each, as mainly described in the books of Daniel and Revelation as well as in Matthew 24 and 25.

Most Amillennialists believe that the Tribulation is not a future event, but it intensifies right at the end. Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as fulfilled in the papacy. Some also confuse the fact that Christians have to go through tests, trials and tribulations as part of the process of sanctification, with the seven year tribulation. They tend to forget, or rather ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

VIEWS ON ISRAEL

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that there is a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church. They believe that the church age will draw to an end and that God’s focus will return to the Jews during the seven- year tribulation. This is clear throughout prophecy, but especially in Zechariah 12-14. Romans 11 can also not be read in any other way.

Amillennialists believe that God is done with the Jews and that all blessings to Israel have now been given to the church in a spiritual sense. This view is generally being referred to as Replacement theology. As they do not understand that God still needs to honour his promises to Israel, they also do not understand the actual reason why there need to be a rapture, a seven-year tribulation (the “Time of Jacob’s trouble”) and a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (to honour the land covenant).

VIEWS ON THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

The majority of Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe in the doctrine of the rapture. This believe is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, John 14:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Luke 21:36 tells us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” In Revelation 3:10 we read, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” In a mocking way, we are often being called “escapists.” Maybe we are, but one thing is for sure – we understand the coming time of tribulation and the wrath of God that will be poured our on this evil world.

Amillennialists do not believe in the rapture. In fact, there is no place to fit in a rapture in their broader Amillennial eschatological view.

Sadly, most Amillennialists hardly ever reflect any excitement about the Second coming of the Lord. To them it is an event somewhere in the far future. Even worse, many of them are fulfilling the prophecy in 2 Peter 3:3-4  without even realizing, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

THE SEVEN FEASTS OF THE LORD & PROPHECY

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These are the set times of the LORD, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time. – Leviticus 23:4

LEVITICUS 23 is the single chapter of the entire Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) that sums God’s eternal plan through the nature and timing of the Seven annual Feasts of the LORD. The entire human race now exists between two of these feasts.

In Jewish eschatology, the term mashiach, or “Messiah”, refers specifically to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who is expected to save the Jewish nation, and will be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age.

Sacrifice is the major feature of the feasts. Believers in Mashiach are not responsible to keep these feasts, but knowledge of them enhances our faith. Our Lord kept every one of them without fail, even celebrating Pesach on His last earthly night.

It was on Mount Sinai that God gave Moses the dates and observances of the eight major feasts for the Jewish people to observe. Here are their names:
1. Passover (Pesach) – Nisan 14
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi) – Nisan 15-22
3. First Fruits (Yom habikkurim) – Nisan 16
4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot) – Sivan 6
5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah) – Tishri 1
6. Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Tishri 10
7. Tabernacles (Sukkot) – Tishri 15
8. The Sabbath Day (i.e., Shabbat, a weekly feast)

For the purpose of this article, we only focus on the first seven.

God’s calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Each month in a lunar calendar begins with a new moon. Pesach falls on the first full moon of Spring. The first three feasts fall in March and April. The fourth one marked the summer harvest and occurs in late May or early June. The last three feasts happen in September and October.

The Spring Feasts

1. Passover (Pesach). Leviticus 23:5 specifies that the festival year begins with Passover on “the fourteenth day of the first month” (Nisan 15). Passover is the Feast of Salvation. In both testaments, the blood of the Lamb delivers from slavery – the Jew from Egypt, the Christian from sin. Think about the tenth plague in Exodus 12:5 when Egypt’s first born sons died while the angel of death “passed over” the Jewish homes with the blood of the lamb on their door posts. In the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Jesus serves as the sacrificial Lamb. It is no coincidence that our Lord Himself was sacrificed on Passover. In Egypt the Jew marked his house with the blood of the lamb. Today the Christian marks his house – his body, “the house of the spirit” with the blood of Christ. Passover, then, represents our salvation.

2. Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMotzi). Leviticus 23:6 puts the second feast on the next night: “On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Lord; seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.” Leaven or yeast in the Bible symbolized sin and evil. Unleavened bread, eaten over a period of time, symbolized a holy walk, as with the Lord. Unleavened bread, in the New Testament is, of course, the body of our Lord. He is described as “the Bread of Life” (Lechem haChayim). He was born in Bethlehem, which, in Hebrew, means, “House of Bread” (Bet Lechem).

Look at the matzah and see that it is striped: “By His stripes we are healed”; pierced: “They shall look upon me whom they’ve pierced,” and pure, without any leaven, as His body was without any sin.

3. First Fruits (Yom Habikkurim). “On the morrow after the Sabbath” following Unleavened Bread, Leviticus 23:11 schedules First Fruits, the feast for acknowledging the fertility of the land He gave the Israelites. They were to bring the early crops of their spring planting and “wave the sheaf before the Lord.” The modern church has come to call this feast “Easter,” named after Ishtar, the pagan goddess of fertility. We continue to revere objects of fertility such as the rabbit and the egg, but the First Fruits celebration was to be over God’s replanting of the earth in the spring. Today this feasts celebrates the resurrection of the Lord on First Fruits, which indeed occurred (plus, eventually, the resurrection of the entire Church!)

4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Leviticus 23:16 says, “Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shell ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.” In late May or early June, Shavu’ot marked the summer harvest. Leviticus 23:17 requires an offering of two loaves of bread, baked with leaven. These loaves symbolize the church being comprised of both Jew and Gentile.

A review of the first four feasts reveals that Jesus (Yeshua) was crucified on Pesach, buried on Unleavened Bread, raised on First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit (Ruach Hakkodesh) on Shavu’ot. Because we have not yet seen the fulfillment of feast number five – Trumpets – we remain under the orders of Shavu’ot.

The Fall Feasts

5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah). Ever since Isaac was spared by virtue of the ram being caught in the thicket by its horn, God seems to have enjoyed the trumpet. He used it when Joshua conquered Jericho. In Leviticus 25:8-10, he specified its use in having trumpets “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (that quotation appears today on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, assuring us that America was founded by Bible readers). Leviticus 23:24 requires that, “in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets.”
The Feast of Trumpets occurs in September. This jump in time from the Feast of Pentecost in May or June seems to represent the Church Age in God’s planning, since the trumpet unquestionably represents the Rapture of the Church. The trumpet was the signal for the field workers to come into the Temple. The high priest actually blew the trumpet so that the faithful would stop harvesting to worship. Now, when the trumpet sounds in accordance with 1 Corinthians 15:51- 3, living believers will cease their harvest and rise from the earth. The Church will be taken out of the world.

6. Atonement (Yom Kippur). Leviticus 23:27 provides a day of confession, the highest of holy days. “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” This is the one feast that is not fulfilled by the church, because the Church owes no atonement. The Church is not innocent, of course, but it is exonerated. The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled in a wonderful way when the Lord returns at His Second Coming.

7. Tabernacles (Sukkot). Leviticus 23:34 says, “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.” God wanted to celebrate the fact that He provided shelter for the Israelites in the wilderness. Each year on Tabernacles, devout Jews build little shelters or “booths” (sukkot) outside their houses and worshipped in them. Tabernacles represents the Lord’s shelter in the world to come (olam habah), His great Tabernacle to exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age. The Lord will establish His Tabernacle in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:26), and the world will come every year to appear before the King and worship Him (Zechariah 14:16-17).

Chanukah, by the way, was not given by God on Mount Sinai, but was prophesied in Daniel 8:9-14 and took place in 165 BCE when the Temple was rededicated.

Now you probably agree that Christianity’s Jewish roots offer an eye to the future as well as the past. The next time someone mentions “The Seven Feasts of Israel,” you’ll realize they’re really talking about the Seven Feasts of all time!
(Source https://hebrew4christians.com/ )