Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Family: God's Weapon for Victory

I just wanted to post this. God knows I have been meaning to put it up to make some aware of it. The Apologetics Group Conference this year is on the family. The following is a little blip about speakers and sessions for this year's conference and pricing. BTW, next year's conference will be on Bible Prophecy, so those of you interested in the subject may want to make plans to attend, Lord willing. If you are interested in attending just click the title of this post to register.

The 2006 Apologetics Group

Conference on Reformed Theology

We would like to invite you to attend The 2006 Apologetics Group Conference on Reformed Theology to be held October 6-7, 2006 ,
in Draper, VA. Where is Draper? Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia , Draper is just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway . Come and hear inspiring teaching, enjoy great fellowship and experience the spectacular scenery. The registration fee is $30 for singles and $45 per couple. Child care will be provided. Seating is limited, please register early.

"The Family: God's Weapon for Victory"


  • Dr. Thomas Nettles
  • Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot
  • Dr. E. Calvin Beisner
  • Pastor Robert Andrews
  • Eric Holmberg
  • Jerry Johnson

Sessions include

  • The Two Shall Become One: A Theology of Marriage
  • You May Now Kiss the Bride: Preparing for Marriage
  • Romance to Death: The War Against Marriage
  • Aiming our Arrows: Training Covenant Children
  • The Family: God's Weapon for Victory
  • Family Worship: Sharpening our Arrows
  • Laying Down Our Lives: A Husband's Call
  • America 's War against Manhood: A Biblical Response
  • Reforming Entertainment: Retreat is not the Answer
  • Evangelizing our Children: The Do's and Don'ts

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Matthew 24 Part 3

Let me make note that in the last Matthew 24 post, I failed to reference the particular phrase that the Lord makes mention of and that is in verse six. Jesus clearly states that these wars and things that follow are not the end. He merely makes mention of them in relation to the fact that these things will be happening, but that they themselves are not the end, but He does not want the disciples to be troubled by these things.

One thing I want to make mention of. Sometimes we will disagree. I recognize that. Sometimes we might miss something. I recognize that as well. In either case I have always found each of those who comment on my site to be very gracious with our words, even in our passion. If something is stated in the post, but doesn’t wholeheartedly go along with the post (that is it is not the main substance of the post), I don’t mind conversation that takes that issue on. I think it is helpful. So please don’t hesitate to bring it up and let’s dialogue on it.

With that in mind we pick up the next few verses from Matthew 24.

7 "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

8 "All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Obviously, these verses go in line with the previous ones concerning “wars and rumors of wars”. Notice what is foretold. Nation will rise against nation. The term here for nation is ethnos. It is often translated as Gentiles or nations. All over the know Roman Empire, which spanned many nations and even outside of the Empire such was true. Many ethnic groups were opposed to one another. A Roman historian by the name of Tacitus (A. D. 56-117) writes in his history of the period between Christ’s words and 70 A.D. that there were “disturbances in Germany”, “commotions in Africa,” “commotions in Thrace,” “insurrections in Gaul,” “intrigues among the Parthians,” a “war in Britain,” and a “war in Armenia.” This also began to happen in Jerusalem as well, both from within the ranks of the Jews and outwardly towards the Romans.

What is amazing is that these things were going on during a time of supposed peace. I made note of the fact that this was a time of the famous Pax Romana. However, let us note that this peace was actually an enforced peace. As a matter of fact, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote that there were so many civil wars within the Empire and so common that there was no need to write about them in any great detail stating, “I have omitted to give an exact account of them, because they are well known by all, and they are described by a great number of Greek and Roman authors.”

The fact that there are so many “dooms day” prophets that abound who are pointing to all sorts of wars and rumors of wars today as signs of Christ’s coming is indeed amazing since these things have already happened. They were merely the “beginning of sorrows”. However, these things were not alone and let us once again note that they were not “signs” of Christ’s coming, but rather merely things that would be taking place in the near future and even up until His coming.

What about the other things that Christ spoke of in verse 7? He specifically mentions, “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes”. Did these things take place as Jesus foretold? First we will note that a major famine hit the Roman Empire “in the days of Claudius Caesar”. This was prophesied by Agabus in Acts 11:28. Claudius ruled from A.D. 41 to A.D. 54. Luke uses the phrase “throughout all the world” to describe the reach of the famine. The word used for “world” in this text is not the word kosmos, but is the word oikoumene. This term means “inhabited earth” or “inhabited land”. It is the same word Luke chose to use in his gospel when he said, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered (Luke 2:1).” The NASB translates it correctly as inhabited earth. This is a clear reference to the Roman Empire. It certainly didn’t apply to the “whole” world. The Chinese weren’t included, nor were the Americas.

Other historians document for us famines that engulfed the land. Here are a couple of citations:

The very famine spoken of in Acts 11 seems to be centered upon Jerusalem and Josephus, calling it “the great famine”[1], said, “a famine did oppress them at that time, and many people died for want of what was necessary to procure food withal.”[2] Josephus mentions many other famines in various places in his writings, both in Antiquities and Wars.[3]

Each of the following quotes comes from the pen of Josephus in writing concerning the Great Tribulation that the Jews endured under the siege by the Romans.

"...others advised to let the banks alone, but to lie still before the city, to guard against the coming out of the Jews, and against their carrying provisions into the city, and so to leave the enemy to the famine, and this without direct fighting with them..."[4]

"But the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it is destructive to nothing so much as to modesty; for what was otherwise worthy of reverence was in this case despised; insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths, and, what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do as to their infants, and when those that were most dear were perishing under their hands, they were not ashamed to take from them the very last drops that might preserve their lives..."[5]

"Now of those that perished by famine in the city, the number was prodigious, and the miseries they underwent were unspeakable; for if so much as the shadow of any kind of food did anywhere appear, a war was commenced presently, and the dearest friends fell a fighting one with another about it, snatching from each other the most miserable supports of life."[6]

"...Now when they were slaying him, he made this imprecation upon them, that they might undergo both famine and pestilence in this war, and besides all that, they might come to the mutual slaughter of one another; all which imprecations God confirmed against these impious men..."[7]

Tacitus, the Roman historian who wrote around 109 A.D. said in book 12 of his Annals,

“Several prodigies occurred in that year. Birds of evil omen perched on the Capitol; houses were thrown down by frequent shocks of earthquake, and as the panic spread, all the weak were trodden down in the hurry and confusion of the crowd. Scanty crops too, and consequent famine were regarded as a token of calamity. Nor were there merely whispered complaints; while Claudius was administering justice, the populace crowded round him with a boisterous clamour and drove him to a corner of the forum, where they violently pressed on him till he broke through the furious mob with a body of soldiers. It was ascertained that Rome had provisions for no more than fifteen days, and it was through the signal bounty of heaven and the mildness of the winter that its desperate plight was relieved. And yet in past days Italy used to send supplies for the legions into distant provinces, and even now it is not a barren soil which causes distress. But we prefer to cultivate Africa and Egypt, and trust the life of the Roman people to ships and all their risks.”

As for the term pestilences, many of the most reliable manuscripts do not contain the word. However, even if it were present it would not be a problem at all, but would be closely tied to both earthquakes and famines, for it is a reference to plagues. They would clearly follow such disasters.

Therefore, our next word that is used picks up from Jesus’ words and also from those of Tacitus. The word is earthquakes. The term is seismos. This term is used in the gospel of Matthew 8:24 in reference to a storm or tempest that arose on the water, but we find that from the historian’s writings that indeed many earthquakes did abound prior to A.D. 70. For instance we just read previously of Tacitus’ account of an earthquake during a time of famine.

Earthquakes not only went on prior to Christ's words in the gospels, but followed later. Again, the term can include storms, tempests, and literal earthquakes. Probably the most well known earthquake of the New Testament is found in Acts 16. There we read:

25 ¶ But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Let's not also forget the earthquakes that accompanied both the Lord's death (Matt. 27:54) and His resurrection (Matt. 28:2).

Tacitus also cites, “Apamea, too, which had been shaken by an earthquake, had its tribute remitted for five years.”

Several earthquakes also took place during the reigns of both Caligula (AD 37-41) and Claudius (AD 41-54). Seneca also recorded that several earthquakes took place in Asia, Achaia, Syria, and Macedonia.[8]

John Ellicott in his commentary states, “Perhaps no period in the world’s history has ever been so marked by these convulsions as that which intervenes between the Crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem.”[9]

Josephus in referencing earthquakes during the period of the Jewish War records, “for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.”[10]

Interestingly enough, an earthquake is one of the issues that John MacArthur brings up in his commentary for why the book of Revelation cannot have an early date. He cites an earthquake that happened in 60 AD in the city of Laodicea. H says, “Laodicea, one of the seven churches, was devastated by an earthquake about A.D. 60. For the rest of Nero’s reign, the city was involved in reconstruction, and could hardly be considered “rich… wealthy” and having “need of nothing (3:17). A date during Domitian’s reign would allow time for Laodicea to regain its wealth.”[11]

All I can say is, “John, John, John”, of course with a smile. The historical record contradicts Dr. MacArthur. Some disagree about the timing of this particular earthquake. Some have put it as late as A.D. 66, though most agree with Dr. MacArthur that this did occur in A.D. 60. I have no problem with either. The important thing is to point out the problem with his presupposition and that is because Laodicea was devastated by an earthquake she could not be considered “rich, wealthy, or in need of nothing”.

Tacitus informs us that Laodicea was indeed affected by an earthquake, but refused Roman funding to rebuild and did so through their own resources. He says, “One of the famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was that same year overthrown by an earthquake, and, without any relief from us, recovered itself by its own resources.”[12] In other words, even after being devastated by an earthquake the city did not rise up like New Orleans and demand federal aid. Rather it took it upon itself as a free city to provide for its own reconstruction. As a matter of fact, a letter from a Laodicean says, “I am happy. I have fortune and I am not in need of anything.”[13]

I know that is a bit off topic, but should enter our thinking in how these two things are tied together (Matthew 24 and Revelation). As I will post shortly, it is this authors conviction that all of the New Testament was written prior to 70AD.

All of these things happened just as Christ said. Not one of the things we have seen, nor the things that follow in the passage failed to come to pass in that generation.

Finally we will note that these are the beginnings of birth pangs. Now, this could be taken in two different ways. First, it could be a reference to the fact that these things are simply the beginning of judgment. Second, they could be the beginning of the end of the Old system, which would be judgment, but also the birth of the kingdom as it comes in power and glory. I think that there is some indication in what follows that the latter is in view. There is both the judgment that is to be poured out according to the Old covenant stipulations laid down by God towards the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy and Leviticus 26 and there is the development of the Messianic kingdom as the old system is done away with. This is not a still birth we are talking about, but one which brings life.

As a father of seven I understand what birth pangs are. Though I cannot and probably never will clearly identify with women in regards to the pain. I can attest to the fact that the farther along the contractions come the more pain it produces, but once the mother is delivered, then the pain is no where near as it was, but rather there is joy in her deliverance and the new child is born. I think this is what is in view here as well. The judgments that fall are like the birth pangs with the deliverance of the kingdom to follow shortly. This seems also to be consistent with Christ's own words towards the Jews, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it." (Matt. 21:43)

[1] Antiquities 20:5:2

[2] Antiquities 20:2:5

[3] Antiquities 20:2:6; 20:4:2; Wars 6:3:3

[4] Wars 5:12:1

[5] Wars 5:10:3

[6] Wars 6:3:4

[7] Wars 4:6:1

[8] Epistles 91

[9] Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 8 vols., Charles John Ellicott, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 6:146

[10] Wars 4:4:5

[11] MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Revelation 1-11, pgs. 8-9, 1999 Moody Press

[12] Annals 14:27

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denizli_Province

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blog...........You're it!

Ok, Nathan has tagged me and explained the rules of engagement. So I'll take up the challenge. I just posted on a few recommendations from the past few months, but I understand that this particular post is to be about specific books in my life. So here they are:

One book that changed your life:
The Fulfilled Family by John MacArthur

One book that you’ve read more than once:
Grace Unknown by R. C. Sproul, Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Scriptures

One book that made you laugh:
Ten Peas in a Pod, Arnold Pent III. This book made me do a lot of things:)

One book that made you cry:
The Highland Chairman & Hans the Crucified. Yes this is one book put out by Lamplighter publishers. I might also add the third in the series of Crown and Covenant books, Rebel's Keep. I was so choked up that I honestly couldn't read for 5 minutes and so was Denise and a couple of kids.

One book that you wish had been written:
I would love to have a compilation of what early church fathers understood collectively on the subject of eschatology. I think it would be helpful not only in eschatology, but also pertaining to the cessationism discussion. Maybe if I had the time............:)

One book that you wish had never been written:
Chosen But Free. Dr. Geisler is in our immediate local, an is immensely gifted in many areas, but this has to be one of the worst books put out on the subject of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility I have ever read. If he had only written the first chapter and stopped, it would simply be a very, very fine booklet that would glorify God. Sadly, his word processor continued to function and the result was the utter demolishment of any foundation for the first chapter. Talk about a confusing book. I honestly got a headache (which I very rarely get) just trying to understand it, sort of like reading Dave Hunt's responses in Debating Calvinism.

One book you’re currently reading:
The Church Effeminate, various authors (Calvin, Lloyd-Jones, Luther, Spurgeon). Days of Vengeance, David Chilton. Kingdom Prologue, Meredith Kline. A Journey in God's Sovereignty, Richard Belcher

One book you've been meaning to read:
The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife

Now tag four people:
I would love to hear Hank's lines on this, but since he doesn't actually blog, I thought I might tag Gordan.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Matthew 24 Part 2

4 ¶ And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.

5 "For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

6 "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

Since I think I have already proven the case from the context that Matthew 24 will be dealing with the judgment that would come upon the Jewish people, I think the best route is to simply document it and show how some will look to a “literal” interpretation of certain aspects of Matthew 24 and take it to mean that it couldn’t have happened. I will attempt to demonstrate the biblical hermeneutic in interpreting apocalyptic language. We will also take a look at just how these verses parallel the Book of Revelation, which I don’t think is a problem for too many people, even the dispensationalists.

First thing is first. We must honestly affirm that the disciples’ questions seem to be clear and concise: When are these things (destruction of the temple) going to take place? All three gospels tend to confirm this. Many have written, including one blogger who showed up at the end of our discussions concerning some preliminary thoughts on the millennium, who argued the view of Dr. Thomas Ice concerning a difference between Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Now Dr. Ice is clearly a dispensationalist, so it would definitely fit his framework to distinguish between Luke 21 and Matthew 24. However, I think an honest assessment of the texts bear out that in both accounts it is the same conversation with the same Lord Jesus, the same disciples, and the same subject matter. Indeed Mark 13 is also a parallel to this discussion.

The only gospel writer to not address the issue in his gospel is John. This could be the very reason that he documents the details in the Book of the Revelation. I am already seeing this in regards to my previous study through Daniel and our current study of the gospel of Matthew, which as our able teacher Pastor Davis is taking us through. Actually it is pretty much a synoptic gospel study with Matthew being the focusJ Some of this Revelation parallel will come out in the comments of this post.

Although the question is clear and concise, we must allow for Jesus to answer in any way He sees fit. However, given that Christ has, in fact, set the stage for this discussion with his pronounced judgments against the Pharisees and scribes and immediately left the temple, declaring it to be desolate, and spoke directly to the disciples concerning its destruction, then I think it a fair evaluation to see that Jesus is directly answering the obvious question which would result from all of this.

Let us begin with the first thing that Christ warns of: false Christs. Jesus starts of with the words “Take heed that no one deceives you”. We will note that there were many during the time after the resurrection until the time of the judgment upon Jerusalem that many came claiming to be the Christ and drew many after them. This has significant meaning for Jesus’ audience. For we read that these things are going to come upon “this generation”.

Interestingly enough we find that John warns, in his first epistle, of antichrists. He says that many antichrists have come (1 Jn. 2:18). He speaks primarily of the spirit of antichrist and the doctrine of antichrist (1 Jn. 4:3). This was prevailing during the time up until the destruction of Jerusalem.

Also, the biblical accounts start the ball rolling in the documentation of such things coming to pass. First we will note the first century Pharisee Gamaliel as he addressed the council in Acts 5.

35 And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

36 "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

37 "After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

We also read the account of Simon in Acts 8.

9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great,

10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the great power of God."

11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

Let us note some of the comments of the Jewish historian Josephus.

In Judea matters were constantly going from bad to worse. For the country was again infested with bands of brigands and impostors who deceived the mob[i]

Moreover, impostors and deceivers called upon the mob to follow them into the desert. For they said that they would show them unmistakable marvels and signs that would be wrought in harmony with God’s design.[ii]

Deceivers and impostors, under the pretense of divine inspiration fostering revolutionary changes, they persuaded the multitude to act like madmen, and led them out into the desert under the belief that God would there give them tokens of deliverance.[iii]

It seems very apparent from Scripture and from the historical account of Josephus that Christ’s words did in fact come to pass just as He foretold concerning false Christs.

Second we will note that Jesus spoke of wars and rumors of wars. I will not take on all of the dispensationalists claims of increased “stuff”, including wars and rumors of wars as signs of the end. The reason for that is clear from verse 6: See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Wars are often seen throughout Scripture as God’s judgment upon the nations (Deut. 28:15, 25; Isa. 13:9; 14:30; 19:2; Jer. 4:27; Mic. 3:8-12). Yet Jesus specifically informs the disciples that these things are not to concern them. They should not be troubled by them. Rather they should expect them as part of the time that they live in.

Let’s recount the fact that when Christ came on the scene that the ruling Caesar was Augustus. He took the throne following Julius and was the one who instituted the Pax Romana (peace of Rome). This peace was an enforced peace that began in 17 B.C. Historians tell us that “the peace of the Roman Empire that Augustus established was purchased by monarchy, but it was a real and enduring peace. It embraced the entire Mediterranean world as no constitutional dispensations had ever done before.”[iv]

Interestingly enough, we are told, “in the Roman Empire proper, this period of peace remained comparatively undisturbed until the time of Nero.”[v] It is during his reign that he sends Vespasian into the area of Galilee and the surrounding territories and eventually into Jerusalem, though it would be Titus who would complete the holy city’s destruction. The revolt against the Romans by the Jews was a centerpiece of the breaking of the great Pax Romana, but Rome was already in the midst of civil war at the time. However, it is interesting to note the timing of these events in light of 2 Thessalonians 2 which states,

3 ¶ Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

This “falling away” is the apostasia. Interestingly the term means, “a falling away, defection, apostasy” and can even refer to a political revolt or simply a rebellion (Note: Many translations render this word in English as “rebellion”. Surely, this applies to a departure from the truth. This was true in Jesus’ day. The Jews had departed from Moses and they were evidencing it by departing from the Truth Himself: Christ. But there is much more to go on as we look back in history, for the departure from the truth leads to a departure against authority.

There is not only a religious apostasy, but there arose a political one as well. We will recall that by the time of Christ tensions were high between Rome and the Jews. The pagans against the people of Israel, who at that time, were God’s people in name only. This was part of the issue that you see coming out as Jesus is to be tried and executed. You see the despising of the Jews by the Romans and vice versa. Eventually this leads many of the Jews to seek to break free of Rome entirely within a generation. As a matter of fact, Josephus even uses the term apostasia (translated revolt) in his autobiography.[vi]

So we seem to have a good picture here. There will be false christs who deceive many and lead them astray. A departure from the truth will give way to a departure from authority. Obviously, this will bring with it wars, which I will save some of the details for some notes from Revelation in the futureJ These wars will then bring on the next things that Jesus prophecies.

[i] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities, 20:5:5

[ii] Ibid, 20:5:6

[iii] Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2:13:4

[iv] G. W. Bowersock, Fiction as History: Nero to Julian, pg. 29

[v] Bo Reicke, The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to 100 AD, pg. 110

[vi] Falvius Josephus, The Life of Flavius Josephus, 4

Response to Tim LaHaye Interview

So Nathan has pointed us to a recent article by Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind money maker project.  For years now, LaHaye has been viewed as a Bible prophecy expert, even putting out his own Prophecy Study Bible.  Along with Jerry Jenkins, LaHaye has sold millions of copies of the Left Behind series and finally completed the series about a year ago.  Now they have pressed on with a new series along the same lines.  My first question is:  Is there any balance of biblical theology in this man’s life.  Some might ask me the same thing, since in recent days I have been preoccupied with biblical eschatology.  The difference is this:  I am trying to exegete books of the Bible, not try to cut and paste them together.  I am doing it in order that I might properly understand what the issues are and thereby be able to refute those who err, not make money off of biblical fiction (if there is such a thing).

With that in mind, it looks like we are in for another round of “Pin the tail on the Anti-christ”.  A recent interview with LaHaye with Newsweek’s Brian Braiker is online as of right now.  I just wanted to make a few comments in regards to this.  The first one will be very blunt:  When are we going to call men like LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Jimmy Deyoung, Jack van Impe and others on their teachings?  At what point in the future can we say they are false prophets or teachers?  I say the time came many years ago and continues till today and if the Lord should tarry and the world continues another 100 or 1000 years, then they would clearly be seen as such.

I will note that there is absolutely no Scripture that is referenced in the entire interview.  Also, the gospel is simply whittled down to “Call upon the name of the Lord”.   There is no clear point to the eschatology, except the Jesus returns, which I do think is significant, but I am trying to understand, why is there a 7 year Tribulation?  What is an Anti-christ?  What is a rapture?  All of these things and more are what someone who might not be familiar with Left Behind or had run ins with Dispensationalists might have, not to mention the “why” of calling upon the name of the LORD (the gospel).  This may or may not be LaHaye’s fault.  It could simply be the editor’s choice, but I tend to see that LaHaye is more preoccupied with eschatology, than in the gospel that drives the eschatology, which is the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must see how eschatology fits with the gospel, for it is extremely important to see Jesus as the Christ.  I am in the process of doing that now in some of my posts on Matthew and soon to follow Revelation, so I will not deal with that here.

The intro of the interview

The introduction to the interview starts out with this line:

The controversial books (referring to the Left Behind series), which have sold more than 60 million copies, depict the biblical end of the world, the Christian eschatology of the upheaval that precedes the second coming of Jesus Christ, known also as the “end times.” (emphasis mine)

I have a huge problem with LaHaye’s views on eschatology being defined as “the biblical” end of the world and “the Christian” eschatology.  This is simply not the case.  Simply because there are plenty of people who buy his books doesn’t make these things so.  Neither does the fact that many people across denominational lines holding to such views make them biblical or Christian.  That is simply faulty.  It should be stated as what it is:  The Dispensational view of eschatology, not the biblical one.

One should remember that for the Dispensationalist they don’t see any signs concerning a “secret” rapture, but instead see signs for the return of Christ.  Again, I don’t see this as biblical.  There is nothing in Scripture that would lead us to believe that the rapture and the Second Coming are separated by a gap of 7 years, nor are there signs of the Second Advent.

When asked if he sees the things going on in the Middle East as evidence of the end of days, LaHaye responds, “Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy—and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days—are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now.  That may be one of the reasons there’s a sudden interest in bible prophecy because all of a sudden they realize end-time events could possibly take place and break forth right now” (emphasis mine).  Again, notice what is said.  Theses tensions among the same people have been going on for over 2,500 years according to LaHaye.  Actually they have been going on from before that.  Clearly Sarah and Hagar had tensions.  Isaac and Ishmael had tensions.  Israel and the nations around here had tensions.  There were tensions between Egypt and Israel.  On and on we could go even before that between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent we could reference, indicating the conflict between the people of God and the people against God.  As a caveat LaHaye throws in the words “could possibly”.  However, he definitely believes this is the way things will pan out ultimately.  Also, this is far from sudden interest.  How many times will unbelievers listen to you cry “Wolf”, until they finally say, “This guy obviously doesn’t know what he is talking about”?

He is then has a statement delivered to him, “But first century Christians believed that the end of the world could come during their lifetime.”

LaHaye completely sidesteps the issue by launching into a statement about imminency.  This totally misses the point.  It is an exegetical and hermeneutical fallacy on the part of LaHaye.  The generation that lived at the time of Christ was expecting the “world to come to an end”.  This was biblical imagery for the culture setting, nationality, and religious system of the Old Testament.  It was to be done away with just as Jesus said in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.  In fact immanency was not a particular part of the early church’s expectation for a number of reasons.  First, they knew that the Lord Jesus had told Peter how he would die in John 21.  Also we know that through Jesus’ own words in the gospels concerning his judgment upon Jerusalem and the specific words of Christ to Paul in Acts that the “imminent” return of Christ was not held by the church in the generation living at the time of Christ.  What Dispensationalists miss is that Christ is IMMINANT.  We live Coram Deo (before the face of God).  

The question logically follows from the interviewer:  “Couldn’t almost anything then be taken as a clue that any point in history might be the end times?”

LaHaye responds, “Down through the years that’s true.  But never the accumulation of events as we have today.  I have often said that no one knows the day nor the hour that Christ will come, but no generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation.  We have more reason to believe that Christ could come in our lifetime than any generation before us (emphasis mine).

And what signs are those Mr. LaHaye?  Are you going to point to Matthew 24 for those signs?  If so, then you have just shown that problem in your exegesis.  If you are going to point to Revelation, I believe you will have shown problems in your hermeneutic and exegesis.  There is no more reason to expect Christ’s coming today than there was 100 years ago, because quite frankly, Christ was clear and so were His apostles that we simply be ready, praying, and watching.  If there is any sign, it is the sign of mass apostasy, and remember that is not just in America, it is throughout the world among those in the visible church.

The interviewer then brings this up, “But my understanding is that current biblical scholarship reads some of the apocalyptic scenes in the Bible as metaphorically addressing events that were taking place as the Bible was being written.”

Sad to say, but LaHaye plays uses the “L” word.  No he wasn’t talking about a show on Showtime.  He said this belonged to liberal theologians.  “These are usually liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally.”  That is simply nonsense.  I could point to a number of theologians past and present who would take this position (R. C. Sproul, Ken Gentry, Gary Demar, Gene Cook Jr., Tim Brown(, etc.).  Are these to be considered liberal??  Please.  Mr. LaHaye simply does not understand the biblical hermeneutic that is applied and he does not understand the position or he would not say such things.

But, he continues in with a “we” “they” statement concerning how it was written against Rome.  I think the interviewer should have been a little more guided in this statement.  For many of us who read Revelation do so understanding what is said concerning Rome and also see it as judgment against the nation of Israel.  He says, “We believe the Bible should be understood literally whenever possible (emphasis mine).”  I wonder if he considers Revelation 1:1-3 to be literal and I wonder what he specifically means by "whenever possible"?  I take Revelation literally.  However, I understand that it is using Old Testament imagery language to communicate a literal message, just as the prophets of old did.

He then states this incredible contradiction.  “The next big event is the second coming of Christ”, but then follows it in the very next sentence with it being preceded by a number of signs and then says just a few sentences before that that the Antichrist comes and sits in his kingdom and also that the Rapture occurs before that.  He then follows with a one world economy, one world government, and a one world religion.  Come now.  That seems like much more than the next big event.  However, we must point out that the Dispensationalist has two comings in the Second Coming (the rapture and the Second Coming (I don’t know what they would call that)).  So, the next big event is not the Second Coming, it’s, I guess, the rapture, or a number of other signs.

The interviewer then states, “Really?  It seems we’re a ways off from a one world religion.”  LaHaye responds, “That’s the least developed”.  What??!!  The least developed?  Hold on there partner, I’ve rode that horse before.  There are only two religions in this world:  The one grace of God atonement religion and the one world religion of man’s attainment.  So no matter if you are Muslim, Buddhist, Confusionist, Roman Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Seventh-Day Adventist, Arminian or any other man centered religion, you are a part of the one world religion and it has not waited till the end of earth’s history to be developed.  It was developed back in the Garden of Eden when Adam thought he could make it own his own apart from God and God’s Law.  This is the distinction between the gospel of the grace of God and the works righteousness that man tries to attain through various things (baptism, good works, confession, etc.).  The world is truly divided between those whom God saves and saves by the work of Jesus Christ alone and those who are attempting to save themselves by their own thinking, wills and efforts.

LaHaye is then asked about the threat of secular humanism.  He says, “Part of the opposition to our position is from the secular humanists, but part of it is from the liberal people of theology that reject the Bible.  I don’t see a great difference between them.  Their basic conclusions are often the same (emphasis mine).”  It appears that he leaves no room for those who are faithful exegetes of Scripture who are against his position other than liberals or secular humanists.  Again, that simply is not true.  If you hold to Dispensational theology, in my opinion, I think you are far from biblical theology, which also means you are farther from a biblical eschatology.


LaHaye then goes on about millions being saved during the Tribulation, through 144,000 Jewish converts.  Now how these Jews become Christian is a mystery.  After all he states that the church is gone before this happens.  Who will preach to these and bring them to Christ?  How will they be saved?

Ro 10:14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Then as a result of these Jewish “evangelists”, millions will come to Christ.  Again, am I missing something or has Christ not torn down a wall of partition between Jew and Gentile in Christ?  
Ga 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Let me make one thing clear.  There are only one people of God.  There is only one Israel.  Israel is made up in the Old Testament of primarily Jews, but in the New Testament, unbelieving Jews are referred to by Paul in Romans 11 as those branches that are cut of from Israel and now Israel (the ecclesia, the church, the people of God) is composed of believers from both Jews and Gentiles (predominantly Gentiles).  God has not forsaken His people.  If there are believing ethnic Jews, which honestly I question, then they come into the Church the same way a Gentile does and that is through Jesus Christ.  But Dispensationalism does not believe that those saved during the Tribulation are of the church.  Rather they view them outside the Church and refer to them as Tribulation saints.  There is a huge glaring disconnect with the rest of Scripture.

Here is where we will see one portion of how our eschatology impacts politics and life.  The interviewer asks, “Does this explain how living right with God, in a Christian sense, would entail supporting the Israeli state right now?”  LaHaye’s response is classic Dispensationalism.  “I think those two things are related.  Christians who take the Bible literally are generally supportive of Israel because God promises to bless those nations that are a blessing to Israel and curse those nations that are not.  And the history of America bears that out. (emphasis mine)”

Where Mr. LaHaye does the history of America bear this out??  Not only that, but the New Testament says that we are the children of Abraham

Gal. 3:7  Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Paul goes on to show that the Church is Israel.

Gal. 6:16  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

He states that those who are of faith are the true circumcision and are the true Jews.

Romans 9:6 ¶  But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
7  nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."
8  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

National Israel, as it exists today is a geo-political entity.  It is not the fulfillment of prophecy.  It is the result of faulty dispensational-backed eschatology.  I certainly don’t say this without supporting the nation itself.  They are a sovereign nation and have every right to defend their borders and no other nation should tell them otherwise, but our government has no business putting its nose in their business.  As Michael Peroutka once said, referencing a proverb, “A man who puts his nose in another’s business is like a man who picks up a dog by his ears.”  It’s time to let go of the dog(

When asked whether or not the state of Israel is just what I stated LaHaye responded with, “No, that’s just a third of the number of Jews in the world.”  The interviewer was trying to understand the disconnect between “Jews” spread across the world and the state of Israel.  He was asking a good question.  However, LaHaye really misses the point and if he were to give his eschatology in full, he would also state that he believes 2/3’s of the Jews will be slaughtered during the Tribulation.  It doesn’t sound like a bright future if you are Jewish.  Also, it tends to not take such passages as Romans11:26  “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob”, as literal does it?

Later he shows his inconsistency in this understanding by stating, “…during the Tribulation period, there’ll be a sea change, and many Jews will accept Christ.  Not all.  Again, it’s an individual decision (emphasis mine).  From his commentary, you would think it would be a God decision.  He said all Israel would be saved.  Does that not imply all without exception?  In the reformed view, which he opposes, we clearly see that all Israel refers to all of God’s elect people, which is consistent with our theology.

They then got into some silly stuff about a hockey rink at Liberty University.  I wonder if Dr. Caner will be involved in that.  Maybe he can teach his hockey team how to smash those nasty Calvinists(  Dr. Caner definitely might even put on some pads and skates and get into a little scuffle on the ice.  I would love to see that.  He’s definitely built for it and seems to have the adrenaline and passion for it.  Pardon me……we are on hockey…..Go Canes!!!

He was asked about his investment in the rink since he believes the way he does.  I must admit it seems odd.  If you are so serious about these things that are soon to take place why waste time with games and gimmicks.  Why not let your preaching be serious and present a gospel that can save and bring life to sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins?

In any case, I want to say that Mr. LaHaye may be a brilliant man in other areas.  He may be personably likeable.  He may even have good intentions (the road to Hell……well you know).  I am not questioning his motives.  I seriously don’t know if he writes all those books for money or not.  But he is in desperate need of repentance in this area and correction.  I truly hope that God would bring someone into his life to help him see his error and that God would grant repentance, so that he might boldly shine forth the truth and give God the glory.