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Thread: A Look At The Olivet Discourse

  1. #41
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    Calling all angels.

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    What role will angels play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Once again, we have a verse that many futurists assume is about something in the future. After all, look at angels going out and this gathering together and the sounds of a trumpet. A trumpet sounds at the resurrection. Right? Surely that’s what’s going on here! Let’s look at the verse.

    “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

    This would be an incredibly vague reference to a resurrection and trumpets have many more uses in Scripture and in the Roman Empire at the time. They could be used for war and they could also be used as a royal proclamation. I would go for a mixture of both of these. The Kingdom of God wages war on the kingdoms of man and the proclamation is the gospel going forth.

    What about angels though? Angels are heavenly messengers aren’t they? Are they not the ones that are around the throne of God? If they’re going out, then surely that must mean something future is going on. Right?

    No. The Greek word is aggelos and it can refer to a member of the heavenly entourage, but it can also refer to a messenger. John the Baptists is referred to as an aggelos. The word describes more function than anything else.

    By the way, it’s worth noting the high Christology here. These are not the messengers of God, though they are that indeed, but in the text, they are the messengers of the Son. It’s one of those casual references easily missed.

    The gathering of the elect refers to those who are Christians. At this point, there is zero interest in whether this is meant in a Calvinistic, Arminian, or some other sense. I really avoid that debate as much as I can.

    And what about to the ends of the Earth? For the first-century Jews, this would not mean going all the way to North America or something, contrary to Mormon claims. This would mean going throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the book of Acts, we see that this has been done. Not a shock to a Preterist that shortly after that, the temple gets destroyed.

    We’re nearing the end of the first part. We will continue next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  2. #42
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    But God hates figs. Right?

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    What does a fig tree have to do with Israel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    These verses are ones dispensationalists point to. We’re supposed to look at Israel and see what’s going on God’s eschatological time clock by looking at them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold up and it can be seen just by looking at the discourse itself. Let’s look at verses 32-33.

    32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

    Now notice that Jesus singles out the fig tree. Since He’s doing that, He must be talking about Israel. After all, fig trees represent Israel. Right? Well, let’s see about that.

    First, look at Luke 21.

    29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

    Jesus says the fig tree and all the trees. What other trees are we supposed to look at here? Second, Jesus says what is near at that time is the Kingdom of God. Has the Kingdom of God come at all or not? We could be spending more time looking at the Kingdom later on.

    If you do a search for fig trees, there’s really nothing about them that show that they are meant to be a symbol of Israel. In a parable in Judges 9, the plant kingdom asks the fig tree to be their king. Now if the parable is about the people of Israel looking for a king, it’s saying Israel is going to Israel asking Israel to be their king. Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me either.

    Also, in Matthew 21, Jesus curses a fig tree that we are often told is meant to symbolize Israel, but if that is the case, and I think a strong case can be made for that, then dispensationalists have a problem. After all, the fig tree is cursed to never bear fruit again. If that’s the case, then we would expect Israel to never bear fruit again. I hold such an interpretation with hesitancy as I believe God could use national Israel in the future.

    Let’s also consider how many people made their predictions based on Israel. In 1948, Israel became a nation and people were making predictions based on that. After all, a generation is supposed to last forty years and this generation was supposed to not pass away until everything took place. Think such a thing seems far-fetched? Not at all. A few decades ago, a man named Edgar Whisenant rocked the Christian world with a book on 88 reasons the rapture will take place in 1988. As we can tell, he was wrong.

    To dispensationalists reading this, even though you disagree with me on Preterism, please at least try to get your camp to stop writing books like that. They only embarrass us further. There has been great harm done to the body of Christ by people trying to predict events from an eschatological perspective by what they see going on in the news.

    Some people then decided the six-day war was what started things. Nope. Wrong again. That was in 1967 and again, nothing happened 40 years later.

    Could it just be that maybe the nation of Israel being established doesn’t have eschatological meaning at all?

    Now some people might saying, “Are you saying we shouldn’t support Israel?” Not at all. Whether we do or not, it is not because the nation is supposedly that of God. It’s because if a nation is doing what is right, we should support it. One reason I personally think we should support Israel is they are a great buffer against Islam in the Middle East.

    So dispensationalists, there’s nothing here about the fig tree representing Israel. The passage doesn’t work. Now if you interpret it as referring to the signs within the passage and not about the establishment of Israel, then it works just fine.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  3. #43
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    What does this generation mean?

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    When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Here we have come to one of the key verses for Orthodox Preterism. When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Note that this is not talking about the return of Christ. For the orthodox Preterist, this is talking about the coming of Jesus to His throne. The return of Christ and the bodily resurrection with it are future events.

    Let’s look at the verse.

    “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

    This part is multi-faceted, so in this section I am going to only talk about the positive case for my position. I will be dealing with other interpretations in future posts. Let’s start with seeing how Matthew uses this generation in the rest of the Gospel.

    Matthew 11:16

    “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,”

    Matthew 12:38-45

    38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

    43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

    Matthew 23:36

    Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

    Now if you go and check all of these references, you’ll find that this generation in each case is the present generation that Jesus is talking with. The last one in Matthew 23 is especially fitting. In this one, Jesus is talking about the evil that the generation He is with has done and He says at the end that all the judgment He has spoken of will come upon this generation.

    Notice also that Jesus says “This generation.” He does not say “That generation.” What is being said by those denying this interpretation is that a future generation will be punished for killing the Messiah when it was the generation at the time of Jesus that was guilty of that crime. Only the generation of Jesus could be justly accused of personally rejecting the Messiah in His ministry.

    Jesus also told Caiaphas at the time of his trial that he would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of glory. This fits entirely with this happening in the lifetime of Caiaphas. It’s a stretch to say that Caiaphas would see this in death.

    Before the transfiguration, Jesus tells the people that some of them will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God coming in power. This is usually thought to refer to the transfiguration since that event occurs always right after that. The problem is that it’s not much of a stretch to say something like that. Even with this virus going around, I could post on the Facebook group of my apartment complex and say “Many of you will still be alive eight days from now.” If I come back correct and say, “You should all accept me as a prophet now” I will probably be thought to be crazy.

    Not only that, the transfiguration was not a public event. It involved only three other people who saw Jesus. How could these people be seeing the transfiguration and thinking that that is the kingdom of God coming in power? (Note also that this does not say they will see Jesus return. It says they will see the Kingdom of God come with power.)

    Also, historically, we know that the destruction of the temple happened in 70 A.D. That would be a sign that God had abandoned that temple and the people had abandoned the covenant. Jesus died between 29-33 A.D. 70 A.D. would easily fit within a generation. God is giving them as much time as possible to repent.

    For these reasons, I consider it best to interpret Matthew 24:34 in a very straightforward sense. It’s hard to think of a way Jesus could have been more clear about time. Matthew has used this generation consistently to refer to the generation of judgment and this is the great granddaddy of judgment. This is the judgment Matthew thinks Jesus is saying will come on the nation of Israel that rejected Him.

    Next time we cover this topic, we will look at other possible interpretations.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  4. #44
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    Does this generation mean that generation?

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    Could this passage refer to a future generation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    There are some people who see the language of this generation in Matthew 24:34 and think that it has to refer to a future generation. What Jesus is saying is that “This generation that sees the start of these things will also see the end.” Is this really a convincing way to look at the passage?

    Well, no. For one thing, if Jesus was referring to a future generation, He could have easily said “that generation.” He never did. As I shared last time, in Matthew, this generation always refers to the present generation that is with Jesus. Matthew 23 ends with a message of judgment for this generation and all the righteous blood that will come on them. Why? Because they committed the ultimate evil of murdering their Messiah.

    Now if the futurist reading is correct, it is not the generation that murdered the Messiah that will be punished for His murder. It is a future generation that had nothing to do with it. If my reading is correct, we could see both references to “this generation” as bookends.

    The text also says that “all these things” will take place.” It is not some. It is all of them. The generation that sees it start is the same one that sees it end. This would include the destruction of the temple which means that whatever generation it is that sees the destruction of the temple, that is the generation that is being talked about.

    Which one is it? It’s the one that saw it in 70 AD which would be the one responsible for the death of the Messiah. There is no reason to think that Jesus is talking about a third temple that will be built and then destroyed. When His disciples come to Him, they are asking about the temple that is before them and that is the one that He talks about.

    Not only that, but as I showed throughout this, much of this only makes sense in the first century. Today, a siege would not mean as much when it is much easier to airdrop food into a city and there are nations all around the world that are willing to do so. There is no need to try to argue a future fulfillment when a past one works just fine with the text.

    As a reminder at this point, this is about the coming of Jesus to His throne. This is not about the future resurrection of the dead. There are other passages that speak about the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns, but this is not one of them. The disciples did not even understand that He was going to die at this point, let alone leave and return sometime in the future, but they did understand that if He was the Messiah, that He would be king and that if He said the temple was being destroyed, that must mean the age of His reign had begun.

    But maybe generation doesn’t refer to a time frame. What if generation refers to a race? What if it means that the Jewish people will not pass away until this takes place? We’ll explore that next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

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