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Thread: A Look At The Olivet Discourse

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    A Look At The Olivet Discourse

    Let's dive into eschatology.

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    What do we make of this passage of Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    I would like to begin two kinds of series now. For one, I just recently began reading this book called The Case Against Miracles by some guy named John….John….John….What was it…..Loftus! That’s right. Don’t blame yourself if you’ve never heard of him.

    The other is a look at the Olivet Discourse. This is for multiple reasons. First off, a question people often come to me about is orthodox Preterism. When I really get my YouTube channel going, I plan to do videos on the topic, including looking at what I call the Rapture Brigade, people who regularly make videos predicting when the “rapture” will take place.

    Second, because I do debate dispensationalists quite often and I want to have a constant reference to rather than have to write things out. I also make it a point to never make it that one’s Christianity depends on their eschatology save for dealing with the ones that call themselves “Full Preterists” which I consider to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. My own wife was of the dispensationalist position when I married her.

    Third, this is an apologetics issue. One of the most common challenges given is how can we believe Jesus when He was wrong about the time of His return? How many times do I see someone say “2,000 years and we’re still waiting!” I hope to give an answer to that.

    My view is known as Orthodox Preterism. In this, it is my belief that while the events described were future to the time of the apostles when they heard it, they are now past for us. My main reference for this will be Matthew 24. Of course, I will go to other passages including the parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

    I hope there will also be a lot of good questions on this one. Many people I meet are not familiar with this viewpoint. It is also one I came to on my own as my seminary was very much pre-trib, pre-mill, and my Bible College I don’t remember taking a stance one way or the other. I also am one who used to hold to the position of the rapture and later abandoned it because I could not square it with biblical teachings.

    So as I finish a chapter in Loftus’s book, I will write on that, and sometimes I will interject with what’s coming on the podcast, but expect this look at end times to be a focus for now. There aren’t many secondary issues I really get into for discussion, but this is one of them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    What did it mean about the temple?

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    What does it mean to lose the temple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    We’re going to be looking at the Olivet Discourse. The first verse is very basic and I am tying it in with the second. If you don’t have your Bible there with you and don’t want to look it up online, I will post the verses here.

    “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

    We really need to think about what this means. The temple was not just a nice place to go and worship. For many of us, if our church buildings burnt down, that would be a tragedy, but we could eventually build new ones. No. The temple was the place that symbolized the covenant between God and Israel. If the temple was standing, then all was good between God and Israel. When the exiles returned from Babylon, the first thing they started building was the temple. They had to be encouraged to return to that building, but building it was essential.

    The closest parallel I can name for us today that we can relate to is 9-11. It is possible to rebuild and make even better than before, but when those towers were hit, it was as if our country was hit as the towers were a symbol of the success of our country especially on an economic level. Those were towering bastions that reminded New Yorkers and any tourists coming through of the success of America.

    You can picture what other catastrophes would be like. What if England lost Big Ben? What if France lost the Eiffel Tower? What if Egypt lost the Sphinx and/or Pyramids? What if India lost the Taj Mahal? Each of these would represent a great loss to the people.

    Yet none of those could compare to the temple being lost. Losing the temple is not just losing a great tourist site or a pretty building. Losing the temple is losing the presence and the favor of God Himself.

    Why am I stressing this so much? Because if we want to get into what is going on in the Olivet Discourse, we need to have it stated clearly what is going on in the culture. This would be a massive loss to the people. It would mean a massive upheaval has taken place. This temple was destroyed in 70 AD and Judaism hasn’t been the same since. Even many dispensationalists recognize the importance of the temple since they want to do all they can to build a temple.

    So when the disciples hear this, they know something big is happening. To use another example, it would be like if we heard the White House would be destroyed and we believed it. Even without knowing the cause, we would know something drastic had happened.

    So as we prepare to go into the Discourse, I want you to really try to put yourself in the mindset of the disciples. For the time being also, please try to remember you do not understand the resurrection or anything like that. All you know is Jesus going to Jerusalem. They are guys who know about the Old Testament and the prophecies of Messiah and still have hopes this guy they have been following is Him.

    What they ask and what Jesus says will start to be covered next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    Is this about the return of Christ?

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    What were the disciples asking about? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    One of the great mistakes we make in interpreting the Olivet Discourse is we interpert it from our place and time. We live in a time after the death, resurrection, and ascension. If we look at the Gospels, the disciples had a tendency to be clueless about this stuff. Jesus had told them He would die and rise again repeatedly and they still never got it.

    So now let’s look at the verse and realize the timeframe they are in.

    “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

    Okay. Let’s tackle the last part first. If you read this in the KJV, you will be told it asks about the end of the world. That is actually a poor translation. There is a word for world that would fit better, but this isn’t it. Besides, suppose the world is ending. Why would you flee to the mountains as Jesus advises later? Do the mountains get a free pass from total destruction somehow?

    No. What is ending is the age. God is moving to a new system. It will no longer be a system of the Law. It will be the age of the Messiah and hence, the disciples ask Jesus about “your” coming. They know who will be the Messiah and if the temple is gone and Jesus is the Messiah, then Jesus must be ruling.

    Now notice also that they ask about the sign of His coming. Isn’t it fascinating so many people think this passage is about the return of Christ? But here’s why it isn’t. Think to what was said earlier. The disciples didn’t even understand Jesus dying and rising again. They had no concept of Him ascending and going away to return later. For them, this was one straight linear path. Go to Jerusalem, become king, age of Messiah begins. The idea of any of the other stuff happening was foreign to them.

    But what is Jesus coming to? One obvious answer. His throne. Jesus is going to begin His rule. Notice the disciples connected the destruction of the temple to all of this. Now they want to know how they will know that this will happen. So as we go into the teaching portion of the discourse, we have these questions.

    When are you taking your throne?

    When does the age of your rule begin?

    What signs will tell us that this is happening?

    These are all good questions. Jesus, as usual, will answer them. We are going to be looking in-depth because many times today, like the people of the past, we do not understand what Jesus said properly. In John, people often misunderstand Jesus because they read Him in a literalistic way. Let’s hope that we don’t do the same this time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    Matthew 24:4-5

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    What deception should we be watching for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Today we continue our look at the Olivet Discourse. The disciples have just asked for the sign of the coming of Jesus, which we discussed what that means, and the destruction of the temple. From here, Jesus will go into a judgment motif. There’s not going to be any rainbows and kittens in this chapter. Here comes the judge instead.

    4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

    There were plenty of Messianic claimants around the time of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Now for a lot of Muslims, the only way you can come forward and claim “I am the Messiah” is to go out and explicitly do just that. They say the same thing with the deity of Christ. Christ in the Gospels very rarely explicitly said He was the Messiah, but His actions were constantly speaking that that is how He saw Himself.

    We could easily say anyone willing to raise up an army and try to liberate Israel was claiming to be the Messiah. This could be the figures mentioned by Luke in Acts 5 or the unknown Egyptian referenced in the book. It could also include Simon Magus mentioned in Acts 8 who was later seen as a heretic who claimed to be the divine power.

    Today, we have a number of people who are claiming to be Jesus. This is not referring to people who are in insane asylums, although they certainly do qualify as people claiming to be Jesus. There are famous people who claim to be ministers and are claiming to be Jesus. Note that that can go on and it still doesn’t mean that this wasn’t fulfilled in the first century. All that’s required is many, and I have mentioned four and those are just the ones that we know about who are most prolific and make a statement by their actions.

    This doesn’t mean that these people will claim to be Jesus, but Jesus still warns His followers to be on guard. We should be as well. In our day and age, it’s quite easy to be fooled not just by Messianic claimants, but, well, most anyone. Too many in our churches do not have discernment on any of these sorts of matters.

    I am someone who is actively interested in politics, but let’s remember that no political figure today, as good as they might be, is the Messiah. A few years ago my father-in-law and I were out at a Subway together traveling and having some lunch. He asked me what I think it will take to turn our country around. I told him that we have to be sure that the Gospel doesn’t need America. It will last just fine if America goes down the drain. America does need the Gospel, however.

    The way to save your country if you live in the West, and if you live anywhere for that matter, is to be Jesus in your country. Of course, I am not saying to be the Messiah, but you are to be a representative of the Messiah. Live in such a way that people will see the work of the Messiah through you.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  6. Amen LostSheep amen'd this post.
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    What about rumors of wars

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    Do we live in the time Christ talked about with wars being talked about? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Yesterday, the Babylon Bee shared a story with a man wishing all these natural disasters and rumors of wars were predicted in the Bible somewhere. It’s something to think about that every generation is convinced that their generation is the generation. We’ll get into wars today in our discussion. We’re looking at verse 6 of Matthew 24.

    “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

    So hasn’t there always been wars going on? How is this a prediction? Skeptics look at this and say something like “Wow. Earthquakes and wars! You never hear about those going on anywhere!”

    Well, you didn’t hear about wars going on much in the time Jesus was speaking. However, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, things started becoming more chaotic. It was the shattering of the Pax Romana.

    Notice also that Jesus tells us not to be alarmed by this. It happens. The end is still to come. This is interesting because so many people will say that wars are happening and therefore there is war. Jesus is saying there has to be more than just that.

    Still, if you read the writings of Tacitus and Josephus and others, you will see the wars and battles being talked about. This is going on also in Jerusalem. Caligula tries to set up a statue and there’s a resistance. This is eventually what leads to the breaking point that brought about 70 A.D.

    Now if we think this applies to our generation, then we have to deal with the rest of history because there have pretty much always been wars going on. This is nothing new. What makes it new for Jesus’s followers is they lived in a time that had had more peace and it was starting to be undone. We will see if the same applies to other judgments that take place as we go on.

    So not much today. It’s a short verse after all. We’ll save the rest for next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    Verse 7

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    Have there been more earthquakes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    I remember being in a Bible study group for men in high school and sometimes we would talk about end times. Our leader told us that there was an increase in earthquakes. This was seen as a sign of the end times. Why would anyone think that? Look at verse 7.

    ” Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. “

    We covered wars last time, so let’s look at famines and earthquakes. Note that the text doesn’t say there will be an increase in earthquakes. Even if we went with that, the truth is that there hasn’t been an increase in earthquakes at all. We just have a better means of detecting earthquakes and we hear reports of them from all over the world, something that wasn’t possible in the first century. See here for details.

    Yet even in Scripture, we see earthquakes. There is one at the crucifixion of Jesus and there is another around the time of the resurrection. When Paul and Silas are in prison, there is an earthquake.

    Various writers also wrote of earthquakes. You’ll find them in Tacitus and in Josephus. There was an earthquake before the eruption of Vesuvius. Earthquakes were happening. Thus, if we are looking for earthquakes as a sign, this can still fit in to the first century very easily.

    How about famines? Yep. We have those too. The big one was the one Agabus talked about in the book of Acts. This is also likely the situation going on in 1 Corinthians 7 and the present situation where Paul said it might not be good to marry. After all, if you can’t provide for yourself, providing for a wife also will be much harder.

    If anything, we have far more means to battle famine today. When they happen, it is likely because of evil governments ruling over innocent people. After all, we could airlift food anywhere in the world that we really wanted to.

    So for those who are thinking what we see today could be a sign that Jesus is coming, don’t be too sure. We’re still well within a first-century context here. Some might be thinking later verses will sink this theory, but we’ll see when we get there.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  9. Amen KingsGambit amen'd this post.
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    Verse 8

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    What are all the earthquakes pointing to? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Giving birth is a painful thing from what I understand. If Allie and I ever have kids, I have thought about what it’s going to be like in the delivery room. It would be hard for all the doctors and nurses in there. There will be the sound of the crying, moaning, groaning, screaming, and yelling.

    I’m also sure Allie would be making some noises as well.

    Birth pains though are a sign that something else is coming. Something new is happening. For the woman having them, they’re the sign that a new life is coming into the world. Yet Jesus also refers to birth pains. What does He say?

    ” All these are the beginning of birth pains. “

    Okay. That’s short and sweet. What’s he talking about that is the beginning? The famines and earthquakes and rumors of war that came before. That means that so many of our modern rapture brigade people are getting this text wrong. These do not mean the end is upon us. These are precursors instead.

    Yet you also know my argument here has been that all of this best fits a first century context. After all, plenty of people have made predictions about the end of the world coming upon us and they have pointed to various disasters going on every time. To this day, they have always been wrong. If anyone does get it right one day, I contend it will not be because they are a brilliant exegete. It will be because they are a lucky guesser.

    Our danger today is paying too much attention to things like this and getting into panic mode. Either that, or we go into a mode that we can just coast for the time being because Jesus is coming. To this day, I remember being in a church small group and hearing a lady say, “I’m saved and my children are saved. I’m just going to sit back and wait for Jesus to come.”

    What a horrible attitude. What about everyone else’s children? What about the possibility your children could lose faith when they go to college? Nope. It was all about her.

    Don’t be like that.

    Don’t get so caught up in end times madness that you miss what is going on in the present time. Jesus wouldn’t want you to panic. Don’t do it.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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    This is certainly an appropriate time to look at this, in light of rumors (which I don't see any reason to believe) that a couple of Christians in government are intentionally trying to provoke a war in the Middle East in order to manipulate the time of Jesus's return (as if this is possible).
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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