Back to Article 130) Eschatology – An Introduction 1
This article was first published in the German language, December 2018.
Before proceeding with the study of eschatology from a Full-Preterist perspective, Biblical history speaks repeatedly of how the people of Israel rebelled against God and fell into idolatry. Essentially, they broke the Sinaitic Covenant time and time again. It wasn’t just about committing a sin, but it was about the fact that sin broke the covenant.
This ultimately caused the split between the North (Israel) and the South (Judea). It led to the invasion of the Assyrians and Babylonians and ultimately to the first destruction of Jerusalem’s first temple build by Salomon.
By the time Jesus came on the scene, many of the religious leadership had fallen into a state of apostasy. In many places throughout the four Gospels, Jesus reaffirms this point, which John the Baptist said about the Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s, and Teacher’s of the Law, when they were addressed as serpents, and a generation of vipers. (Matthew 23:33) This is a clear indicator that among the sincere and upright Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s, and teacher’s of the Law there were some who had turned to Satan through an idolatrous system of worship. They were the descendants of those whose genealogy reaches back beyond Cain, directly to the Serpent in the garden of Eden. Do I mean they were biological descendants of the serpent? No. The emphasis is more on the believe system they adopted. They were the left over descendants of those who worshiped the golden calf and rose up to play (which is a discrete way of saying they were having sex orgies in honor of their pagan gods), whilst Moses was in the mountain talking to Yahweh. They were the ones who formed a secret Cabal to maintain control of the Temple with their dark secretive occult influence within the Sanhedrin, which were the assemblies of either twenty-three or seventy-one elders, who were appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Land of Israel.
Their political power and corruption were prevalent, and the priesthood was often used as a disguise to manipulate the people for their wealth and control over them. Throughout the people of Israel’s both glorious and abominable history, many prophets were given the Word of God to call the Hebrew people to repentance. At times there would be national repentance, they would renew the Sinaitic Covenant, and God would heal their country and restore them to their former glory. For a time, their prosperity would increase, and the fear of God would fall upon the surrounding nations. From the passing of one king to the next it was either a return to God with a renewal of the covenant and the destruction of altars to pagan gods, then the next king would be even more evil than any of his predecessor’s and would lead the people back to the worship of Baal and Moloch.
The international definition of antisemitism
Here’s something we need to understand. The Tanakh (Although there are differences between the Tanakh and the “Christian” Old Testament, such as the canonical order of the two. For purposes of this study, we can say that the Tanakh is the Jewish Bible, which Christians refer to as the Old Testament), was written by Hebrews for the Hebrews about the Hebrew people. It follows the story from creation to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and how they eventually became a people chosen by God. That is why we read about their rise and fall, their great victories and their sufferings. The Tanakh is not the story of a pagan people. They are of course mentioned in passing, but the focus is not on them. It is the story of how God called out a people from among the Gentiles and made them His chosen people. Remember, Abram was a Gentile until God called him.
So please avoid condemning the Jewish people when you read about some of their cruel acts of violence or their fall into paganism. Especially when we get to the four New Testament Gospels and read of their rejection of Christ and for many their irreversible attitude up until the final destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
It is important to address this because some people who have engaged in the study of eschatology have taken it as license to blame the Jews for fundamental problems in today’s society and to propose anti-Semitic ideas. This is totally inappropriate as the world owes the Jews for the rich heritage of redemption in Christ for all both Jew and Gentile. Through them we have an amazing insight into who God is. They were once chosen to bring us the Savior of the world. It is an extremely ignorant mentality for modern generations of Jews to be blamed for the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s and for the people of Jerusalem who conspired against Jesus 2,100 years ago. Moreover, Christ’s death was preordained by God Himself.
Remember when Jesus said:
John 10:18 King James Version
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
So the Jews or the Romans could not kill Jesus unless He Himself determined that this was part of the great plan to redeem mankind.
*Statement: I agree with the international definition of antisemitism, according to The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and the UK Government website. It is the aim that all material published on this website remains congruent with the preservation and the value of life and the rights of every human being, Jews and non-Jews alike. Notwithstanding the fact that theological studies and interpretations here remain honest, non-compromising, and true to its scriptural source.
Now, as we proceed with this study of eschatology, I will present my view of Bible prophecy, which I did not arrive at overnight, or by going to the most recent popular Christian conference. I hope you find this material helpful, or at least challenging enough to revisit the subject for yourself.
We will look at the end-time mysteries that have always bothered researchers of Bible prophecy. I believe this perspective makes the book of Revelation much easier to understand. We will determine when the New Testament canon of Scripture was completed. We will tear down the liberal attack on New Testament inspiration and question conservative and traditional views. We will not sacrifice Biblical truth about any of the tenets of the supposed Christian faith, but only affirm and strengthen those Christian beliefs that are indeed Biblically sound.
The key to understanding any scripture has always been a good understanding of the historical setting in which it was originally written (audience relevance). In two thousand years our history, culture, politics, and language will have changed dramatically. Imagine that 2000 years from now someone has to learn the English language in order to read and correctly understand our current online headlines!
How would they understand many cultural, religious and local slangs? They would not only have to learn the language, but also our culture, history, politics and economy. The same applies to Bible study. If we are to truly understand what all the beasts, whores, and dragons, etc., in the book of Revelation symbolize, we must seriously and carefully study the language, history, culture, and politics of the first century.
When the foundation is wrong
There has also been a great deal of confusion as to the use of the word; “Redemption” or “Salvation”. In my opinion, this has been the cause of much theological misapplication.
Today’s mainstream Christianity seems to have projected only one usage and understanding of this word, automatically assuming it to only refer to eternal salvation and eternal bliss in heaven each time it is read. But this is clearly not the case.
Suffice it to say that there are generally two different uses of the word salvation.
The Greek words, soteria or sozo, are mainly used to refer to;
1) Eternal Salvation (Spiritual)
2) Deliverance or rescue from danger or destruction (physical)
If we know what meaning is being referred to in any of the relevant scriptures, the context becomes much easier to understand. Note that the word redemption can sometimes be used to simultaneously imply both meanings at the same time.
If we don’t practice this and don’t apply the above guidelines, the numerous scriptures in the Bible that are “difficult to understand” and the Bible’s prophecies will appear confusing and thus open to personal interpretation. The study of eschatology must also be based on the original historical and cultural context (target group relevance or audience relevance).
A full – preterist view of eschatology gives a closer look into the historical framework of the New Testament. Many have found it helpful to put aside (at least temporarily) the legion of speculative opinions about the Book of Revelation and seek a more historical alternative, namely that the Book of Revelation was written to, and was primarily relevant to, the first-century believers. The book warned of events that would come to pass in their time and prepared them for the tribulation and other events connected with the end of the Jewish Age.
Bible Critics and Futurist Eschatology
Atheists, skeptics, Jews, Muslims, and liberal critics of the Bible use the apparent failure of these end-time events (the presumed non-occurrence only due to lack of knowledge of Scripture and historical evidence) in the first century to undermine the integrity of Christ and the inspired New Testament Scriptures. Some non-Christian Jews laugh at this alleged inaction and use it as proof that Jesus is not the Messiah.
Those Jewish ancestors who rejected Jesus, did not accept Him because He did not fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament in the materialistic and physical form, they imagined He would. Even though Jesus told them that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and that it would be in them instead (Luke 17:21).
It seems as if Christians with a futuristic eschatological perspective also hope for a similar material and physical kingdom on earth. It seems that they are expecting Jesus to come and establish a physical kingdom on earth, just as the Jews expected their Messiah to do 2100 years ago. This expectation of a physical kingdom is also typical of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists.
Are they making the same mistake about the Second Coming that those Jews made about His First Coming? Jesus repeatedly said that His kingdom “is not of this world” and that “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20). It’s a spiritual reality and did arrive. We live in it. Those with a Futurist eschatology will have to recognize this simple fact. Many Christians are finally beginning to look for alternatives to the fatally flawed Futurist interpretations of Eschatology.
“Preterism” simply means fulfilled past
This means that Christ has already fulfilled His promise to accomplish redemption in and through Himself. Please note that I have also studied many critics of preterism. To date I have not found anyone who could come up with a reasonable argument that could disprove this approach to eschatology. In fact, many of the arguments presented by critics demonstrate their ignorance of preterism, and they do a dishonour to themselves by not studying that theology before voicing criticism. There are also those who claim to be a preterist, but who completely misrepresent the study and therefore do nothing to encourage believers to the truth.
True or False Prophet
Deuteronomy 18:22 King James Version
22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
If Christ did not return in judgment 40 years after His resurrection, as Jesus and the apostles clearly said He would; If the judgment of Israel, Judea and Jerusalem, of both the apostate Jews and the Gentiles who persecuted the Christians, did not take place in the first century as claimed by Jesus and the apostles; If the resurrection of the dead in Hades and the rapture of the Christians who were still alive at His coming, did not happen as Jesus and the Apostles said it would; then it would clearly make Jesus a false prophet and the apostles false teachers. This would lend strong credence to the arguments of all atheists, skeptics, Jews, Muslims, and liberal critics of the Bible. It would also mean that the Old Sinaitic Covenant would still be active, that we are still living under the Law of Moses, the Levitical Priesthood, and a foreseeable future judgment. The Millenialist, Dispensationalist, and Futurist eschatological views are a feeble attempt to circumvent this dilemma. This only lends more discredit to the pure Christian faith when critics can prove out-of-context theological acrobatic interpretations being carried out by popular Christian preachers and teachers. Especially when many strive to ignore historically proven facts and documents supporting the events of the first century Jewish War.
Without further ado, let’s look at some scriptures.
Daniel 9:26-27 King James Version
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
These two verses are packed with a lot of good stuff which deserves our attention. For now, I just want to focus on the bold printed reference – the desolation which Daniel said was determined.
Jesus is really referring very much to a specific time when the prophesied desolation would come.
Matthew 24:15 King James Version
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Matthew 12:25-26 King James Version
25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
Matthew 12:25-26 speaks of the destructive power of division and can be applied here. The religious Jewish Sanhedrin consisted of Pharisee’s, Sadducee’s, and Scribes. They were conflicted and corrupt. They conflicted with each other. The main problem was that they did not agree with the law of Moses, which they claimed to be obeying. In fact, if they had truly obeyed the law and the prophets, they would realize that Jesus was the one the law and the prophets were pointing at.
Matthew 23:37-38 King James Version
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
At Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, before entering the temple, he looked out over the city and made the above statement just before His crucifixion. Notice when Jesus says, “Your house.” He speaks of the temple, which in the years growing up as a young lad He called the temple “His Father’s house.”
In many verses Jesus refers to the law of Moses as, “Your Law”. It is as if God is already showing his dissatisfaction with the contract of the Sinaitic Covenant.
The apostasy had reached the point of no return
Just like when the Babylonian armies first destroyed the temple some 600 years prior when God’s presence left the temple, now God wanted to leave this temple again. Only this time forever. The religious heresy of the Jewish people had evolved into worship of their temple, their law, and religious artifacts instead of God Himself. Just like in the days of Ezekiel some had secretly turned to the worship of Baal and committing atrocious abominable acts of sin inside the House of God.
Here Jesus explicitly acknowledges that a shift has taken place and speaks of the temple that was once his Father’s house but which had now become a den of robbers.
1 Peter 4:17-18 King James Version
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Side note: The few who were barely saved were the Jewish and Gentile Christians who fled Jerusalem and were delivered from the Roman armies’ physical attack on Jerusalem. These Christians were rapture’d by Christ and taken to heaven. Those who rejected Christ and stayed in the city were killed around 70 AD.
Here we also see that the house of God, the temple in Jerusalem, decades after Christ’s resurrection, still standing at that time, drew God’s judgment upon itself. They had broken the Sinaitic Covenant. The apostasy of the people, the killing of the prophets, ultimately the rejection of Christ and a conspiracy to suppress the truth about His resurrection and the persecution of Christians made the Temple practices hollow and dead. It had become like a rotten corpse attracting the vultures.
Matthew 24:28 King James Version
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
After the cross, animal sacrifices continued to be vigorously practiced until around AD 64, when the Neronian persecution broke out. The Sinaitic Covenant with its Law of Moses prophetically foretold of the coming of Christ. When he came, it’s purpose was fulfilled. By rejecting Christ as Messiah, many Jews rejected the very purpose of the Sinaitic Covenant and its law, and thus by default had broken the same Sinaitic Covenant they claimed to keep. The same animal sacrifices that were a foreshadow of Christ the Lamb of God had now become a symbol of rebellion. The entire religious system had essentially become idolatrous in the eyes of God.
Did you know that in Jesus’ day, at Herod’s Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was not even in the Holy of Holies? The last time the Ark of the Covenant was seen was just before the Babylonian invasion of about 600 BC. Apparently, no one knew where the Ark of the Covenant was after that. The Apocrypha states that the Ark could not be found when the Jewish people rebuilt the Temple at the time of Ezra and Zechariah. The explanation in the Apocrypha was that Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant in a cave on Mount Nebo prior to the Babylonian invasion, and that its location would not be revealed until God revealed to man where it could be found. According to the legend, after the Temple was rebuilt, the Jews placed a rock in the Holy of Holies. Imagine the high priest going behind the veil and spattering blood on a rock. The priesthood had upheld a facade for a very long time. The priesthood had become so corrupt in conducting their temple services that it had become the abomination that caused desolation.
1 Kings 2:44 King James Version
44 The king said moreover to Shimei, Thou knowest all the wickedness which thine heart is privy to, that thou didst to David my father: therefore the Lord shall return thy wickedness upon thine own head;
The wickedness of those who had become apostate Jews, who had participated in the persecution of Christians and made active attempts to suppress the truth of the gospel, had returned upon their own heads.
Luke 11:49-51 King James Version
49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 King James Version
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
A Big question
If Christ’s death and resurrection provided forgiveness for sin and the redemption of the whole world, why would Jesus warn the Jews of the wrath of God that was to come upon that generation nearly 40 years after the cross?
Answer: Because the law of Moses was still in place and active along the New Covenant in Christ until 70 A.D. when the Law was abolished at the destruction of the Temple.
The Law of Moses, also known as the Sinaitic Covenant, was a covenant made between God and the people of Israel. It was a covenant with strict conditions. This meant that this blood contract came with benefits that could be obtained by keeping the covenant. If the covenant was broken, there would be punishment. The benefits and penalties were defined under a long list of blessings and curses.
Now, before a contract between the parties involved is abolished, certain things must happen first. Either one or all parties involved must die first, or all parties involved must agree to the cancellation of the contract. Therefore, when Jesus, who was a Jew born under the law of Moses of the Sinaitic Covenant, only became free from the law when he died on the cross. This is also the reason the Jews who believed in Christ, in their (water) baptism, expressed their identification with the death of Jesus as a vicarious atonement and thus their deliverance from the contract of the Sinaitic covenant. (Romans 7:1-4)
Similarly, before you can introduce a new contract to replace an old contract, the same two things must first happen. Either all parties agree to replace the old with the new, or one or all the parties involved had to die first. The Jews, who rejected Christ and kept the law of Moses and all attributes of the Sinaitic covenant, and who did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, were clearly the party that did not agree with the dissolution of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New Covenant.
From a legal point of view, God could not simply dissolve the Sinaitic Covenant while the other party still maintained its legal validity. God had to uphold his end of the contract. However, this meant that these Jews also had to be judged according to their own Law (of Moses).
None of the Jews or Gentiles had to physically perish with the destruction of Jerusalem, if everyone of them believed in Jesus as their Messiah. You could say that if everyone believed Noah, nobody would have to die in the flood. The Old Sinaitic Covenant had to be abolished. It had served its purpose. It was a sinking ship. Those who clung to it died in the destruction of Jerusalem.
By the way, the New Covenant was not established between God and us. It is a covenant between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, sealed forever with the blood of Christ. The only one who can break the New Covenant is Jesus, and he never will.
The Old had to make room for the New
Although the Law of Moses had a very distinct purpose, that purpose was fulfilled in Christ. The Law was not a means to earn right standing with God. It could not make anyone righteous. The New Covenant made everyone righteous through Christ.
The Apostle Paul said;
Romans 7:12-13 King James Version
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
But the Jews mistakenly assumed that they were righteous because they had the Law and partially kept it. The Law, however, required complete obedience, and if one should fail in one point of the Law, it would mean that they had broken the whole Law (including the Sinaitic Covenant).
Deuteronomy 27:26 King James Version
26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
The consequence would be the judgment of law. The same law of Moses that they held onto, condemned them to death. It was that generation alive at the time Jesus travelled between Jerusalem and Galilee, who were exhorted by Him to believe on Him and so to be delivered from the wrath of God. The judgment of the law was executed on the same generation that Jesus preached to, who were still alive when the temple was finally destroyed for the last time in 70 A.D.
Once that generation died and the priesthood and temple of Jerusalem were destroyed, the old Sinaitic Covenant with the law of Moses could forever legally be done away with, making way for the New Covenant of grace that had come into effect 40 years earlier.
Hebrews 8:13 King James Version
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
The book of Hebrews was written just before the destruction of Jerusalem. At the time of writing the temple was still standing and the law was still legally active. However, it was going vanish very soon. The time of the Sinaitic Covenant was coming to a close.
Hebrews 1:1 King James Version
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,…
Roughly, the entire 1500 years of the Sinaitic Covenant and the glory of the ancient Sinaitic religious system were in their last days. The Old Covenant had arrived at the time of its end.
This is where so many futurists make the mistake when they talk about the “end times.”
It’s like this refers to the end of all times. However, phrases like “the last days” and “time of the end” do not refer to the end of time, but to the time of the end of an Era, the end of an Age, the end of the Law of Moses, the end of the Sinaitic Covenant!
Luke 13:35 King James Version
35 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.