Monday, October 24, 2005

Eschatology.....past, present, future?


I know Steve Camp is thinking of blogging on eschatology and I may do more of it in the future, but I thought I would put down some thoughts concerning materials I have been going over the past year or so. Let me say at the outset, that I may have some mixed views of the subject, but one thing I am not is a dispensationalist. I have recently become acquainted with the preterist view. The preterist view believes that those things found in Daniel, Matthew 24, and Revelation, as well as, many other Scriptures have already been fulfilled by 70 A.D. I come from a SBC church and we were taught the whole Tim LaHaye kind of stuff, which was a premillenial dispensationalist type of eschatology. I no longer hold to such a view. However, my studies seemed to follow the path of the reformers in what might be called a historicist view.

While a historicist and preterist do cross over one another they are distinct. Let me note that not all preterists are full preterists. Some preterists are partial preterists. They are those who believe the majority of things found in the above passages are fulfilled with still some future events to take place, while full preterists believe that all things are fulfilled and even Christ's return is not yet future. This I believe is heretical (full preterism). However, much of the preterists arguments answer a lot of questions, though they pose some as well. I have long held that Matthew 24 was mostly about the destruction of Jerusalem, but also felt there was a gap as Jesus answered the question concerning the end of the age and His coming. Most partial preterists, like Ken Gentry, will think like that as well. However, many will say that the return spoken of in Matt 24 is pertaining to Christ's coming in judgment and that the end of the age is indeed that of dealing with national Israel. In fact Gentry goes on to say that it is pictured as God "stoning her" for her adulteries and therefore taking to Himself His bride the church.

I am convinced more than ever that our eschatology does guide our thinking in the present. While I don't believe it is something I would withhold fellowship over, it is important. I welcome anyone's comments that might add to my understanding.

16 comments:

DOGpreacher said...

WOW!!...Tim, I thought I was in the middle of a 'controversial' post!

It's late, right now, but I definitely will comment later. You surprised me with this one!

graced,
The DOGpreacher

Ephraim said...

What would you consider to be "national Israel" at the time of the end?

A collection of Jews only? A gathering of Christians and believing Jews? Israelites from all the tribes + Christians?

All those "in Christ"?

Since the judgement of believers takes place before the second resurrection, how shall this first judgement have anything to do with unbelievers?

Who do you suppose Israel is...today and at the end of the age?

Shalom

Nathan White said...

Yes Tim, you definitely will ruffle some feathers with this one! I like it though; it shows that you are truly concerned about the issues surrounding eschatology and that you’re not willing to pragmatically conform to the popular beliefs (Tim LaHaye).

As for myself, I am still searching with my eschatology compass. There are many good arguments on both sides, but at this time I certainly disagree with the preterist view. My good friend Andrew Lindsey recently bought me Sproul’s book on the subject (The Last Days According to Jesus). Although I have not gotten to it yet, I have read bits and pieces and Sproul does make some good points. However, the bottom line for me right now is that preterist are way too symbolic with their hermeneutics. I like to stick with the Bible, and a literal interpretation of it.

A similar discussion can be found here, and I must say that I agree with most of what Jason states here.

SDG

Tim said...

Well, I can see that this might be helpful to me with three other minds here. However, I am off to work. DP's blog has kept me busy:) I am not a preterist either. However, I think Dr. Gentry's book, "before the fall of Jerusalem" (available online in pdf for free), is a better book than sproul's. I read sproul's several years ago. I was not overly impressed with it. However, I do think the majority of Matthew 24 was accomplished in the past. Maybe we can discuss this later and sharpen one another.

Nathan,

I too am looking for that compass. Know where I can get one? Mine is supposed to point north, but keeps going of course a bit:)

Ephraim said...

OK, I'll try to confine myself to Matt 24.

Tim said...

Nathan,

One more thing. I agree with literal interpretation, but when something is metaphoric, poetic, historic, or apocolyptic, we must interpret in light of the type of literature. Therefore, I do think there is much symbolism. Clearly, Daniel has much symbolism in it as does Revelation.

ephraim,

I would understand national israel to speak to those who a part of the nation of israel who rejected Christ and called down a curse upon their heads when they spoke to Pilate and called for Christ's crucifixion. Jesus said that His judgment would fall on those who pierced him and that they (those of the Sanhedrin) would see him (the Son of Man) coming in power on the clouds of heaven. He warned His followers in Matthew 24 to flee the city when they saw the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place that Daniel spoke of. It appears (through a harmony of the gospel), that Luke indicates that this abomination is the armies of Rome coming against Jerusalem.

Paul spoke in Romans 9 about who the true Israel of God. The true Israel are those who are the descendants of Abraham by faith, not by the flesh.

Jason E. Robertson said...

So, you believe this is the Millinium?

Tim said...

Jason,

I don't know to be honest. I am still working on that.

Ephraim said...

Tim,

Ok, I can go with that for now. Could we expand on it later? I don't have all the answers, but I am fascinated by the lesson. Thanks.

It's funny that Jason asked if you thought this might be the millenium period. My wife and I were talking about this the other day. It doesn't seem to fit when we look history, but it does make sense when thought of in the light of Revelation chapter 20, where the dragon is bound and then released for a season. At that time he deceives the nations into coming up against the saints of YHWH in Jerusalem. Not knowing what a "little season" consists of, it may take longer than we imagine, and it fits the pattern of what is taking place, and soon to take place, in the world today. It's just that missing 1000 years of peace that throws me. I have always pictured it to be much more tangible and recognizable than what history records.

All this hinges, of course, on the time of Messiah's return. There are multiple scenarios depicted in scripture.

My understanding has been this: Yeshua returns, but does not touch the earth, and gathers up His people. They then, after some stuff happens in the heavenly realms, return to the earth with Him to rule alongside Him for a thousand years. Yeshua and His redeemed saints rule from Jerusalem for that time period. It is after that the dragon is loosed for a season and the nations (whoever they may be) are deceived because they have not established faith in the ruling Messiah. In other words, it is a thousand years of "enforced" peace. He rules the nations with a rod of iron. And they, for what ever reason, do not accept His rule. Somewhat like folks today who do not accept His rule.

Then the big battle. All Israel is saved. The second ressurrection takes place, final judgement, and, it's over. New heaven, new earth.

What could be simpler? :-)

Shalom

DOGpreacher said...

Concerning Matthew 24, I believe there are 3 different questions asked, which Jesus proceeds to answer. I think a common mistake is to lump these questions (and the subsequent answers)together. ALL future, or All fulfilled. I do not believe these 3 questions are concerning the same time-frame (although the ones asking it did not know that), thus making this a forever debated passage.

I think one should take their presuppositions concerning this passage, hold them at arms length, and see if they stand the scrutiny of exegetically sound scriptural interpretation.

Suffice it to say, that I do think PART of this passage is fulfilled, and yet PART is future.

I look forward to hearing from you Tim, as well as comments from Jason, Ephraim, and Nathan!

In His Hand,
The DOGpreacher

Tim said...

Ephraim,

I am with you on this one. Again, I am still learning. I realized that my post would gain some controversy. What teaching doesn't? However, my blog is mainly for me. This post was actually to help me remember some of the things I have read and tried to understand so that I have a complete view of the preterist view (at least a partial preterist view). In all honesty, the term millenium is only used in Revelation. It is astounding to me that so many build a huge doctrine on a word used only twice in the Scriptures. I have a book in my library that is several hundred pages called, "The Thousand Year Reign of Christ". Anyway, I can see why post-millenialists come to their conclusions. I could almost be persuaded (let's play another stanza:).

Gregg,

I agree with your points. That's what I tend to see. I do believe the Great Tribulation was at 70AD. I believe Jesus was answering 3 questions. I believe, at least for the moment, that those questions are divided up a bit. However, I am not dogmatic on it just yet.

When I hear someone like Jimmy DeYoung say that Christ didn't even address the issue of the temple but jumps right to the issue of Christ's coming, I am left saying, "Uh, eh.....hmmm. what?" Jesus answered each of those questions. For those who don't think He was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, the immediate context is about that. Matthew 23 is a scalding rebuke of the Jewish leaders and a declaration of the destruction of the temple. This rebuke is what brings about the disciples questions in 24.

Some will question me on this concerning the Great Tribulation (GT). Jesus spoke these things to his disciples and He referenced the then standing temple, not some future one. He also gave instruction to them as to when they should not stay in the city. This was when they saw the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel. That same passage that speaks of the abomination of desolation in Daniel also speaks about the Messiah. The time frame is in close proximity. Luke 21 tells us that the abomination of desolation is that of the armies surrounding Jerusalem, in which they destroy it and leave it desolate.

This is at least how i view it. I welcome correction if it is there. These are some of the greatest arguments for the preterist view of the book of Revelation as well: The fact that the temple is not referenced as having been destroyed, the letter must have some bearing upon the 7 churches in Asia Minor at the time of the writing, and the fact that the temple is actually referenced and measured.

I will share some of the things I taught on concerning Daniel 9:24-27 this past Sunday tonight.

DOGpreacher said...

Hey Ephraim, you said: "...all Israel is saved..."! You really believe that? #:~)

OK, who is the "Israel" you are referencing? And then there's that picky little word 'all'!

Just trying to goad you on a little bit!:-)

Graced,
The DOGpreacher

ajlin said...

"It is astounding to me that so many build a huge doctrine on a word used only twice in the Scriptures."

Tim,
I honestly don't think that the reasoning in this statement is sound as the Virgin birth is also recorded "only twice in the Scriptures" and the word "trinity" is never found in the Scriptures.

Your brother in Christ,
-Andrew

Tim said...

Andrew,

Thanks for your post. I've been away for a while. Let me address your comments.

I believe the use of your analogies is not apples to apples. For instance. Matthew and Luke go to great extents to inform us of the virginity of Mary. Anyone reading the text can see that she was a virgin. That is clear and it is historical. Remember Revelation is largely symbolic, because it is apocolyptic literature. Therefore, if virgin was used in Revelation it might be taken figuratively, but that is not the case with Matthew or Luke. Also, The virgin birth is also spoken of in the Old Testament (Gen. 3:15;Isa. 7:14; cf.9:6).

The Trinity, likewise, is not analogous. While I agree with you that the word is not there. The concept of the Trinity is found throughout the pages of the Old and New Testament, just as the church is.

Now, let me try to be more plain about what I meant when I made that statement. In writing, I am not as gifted as you and Nathan. You are both very good at communicating in writing. I am not:) What I meant was that many take these two occurences of the term 1000 years (Rev. 20:4, 6) to be literally 1000 years. I realize there are two other occurences of the use 1000 years in the text (vss. 2, 4). However, for one's "millenial" view, I am referencing only the term when it is used in conjunction with Christ reigning. Obviously, this is tied to the end of the 1000 years with the binding of Satan and with the resurrection of the "rest of the dead". My point being this: many will take this as literal, rather that symbolic or figurative. I would ask the question, "What is the purpose of a literal 1000 year reign of Christ?" "Is His kingdom not forever and ever?" Are His people not to reign also forever with Him (Rev. 22:5)? It merely seems more plausible to hold to a more firgurative use of the term in light of the kind of literature Revelation is. While it contains things about history (I have no doubt), it is not meant as historical narrative as Matthew and Luke are. It is apocolyptic.

I would also like to further ask some questions regarding the understanding of 1000 years as literal or symbolic. We note in the Scriptures that God is the owner of the cattle on 1000 hills (Ps. 50:10). Does that mean that the cattle on the 1001st are not His? Of course not. In Ps. 90:4 it says that a thousand years are like a watch in the night to God. Does that means that 1001 years are different than that? I could go on with several references in the Old Testament to make the point. I am simply stating that it boggles my mind that someone would hold to a "literal" 1000 year reign (365000 days or 360000 going by the OT). Doea that make sense?

ajlin said...

Tim,
Good response! That was very helpful.
I'd appreciate any further insight that you have in the area of eschatology.

-Andrew

Dave Bussard said...

Good discussion, guys. I enjoy seeing the end times discussed without name calling! Kind of rare.

I would love it if some of you with a preterist leaning would read an article (about 15 pages) I wrote that compares Matthew 24 with Luke 21. I believe it completely proves that one is speaking of 70 AD while one is speaking of the future. I would love feedback from preterists.

I'd be willing to bet that most have never heard or considered the points I make. Please give it a read when you get time. If the link below doesn't work, just go to my blog and see "Are Matthew 24 And Luke 21 The Same Teaching?"

http://thepre-wrathtribune.blogspot.com/2006/01/are-matthew-24-and-luke-21-same.html

Dave