FOUNDATIONS: Studies in Bible Theology  


 

Eight blows to Imminence

By R.g.Wallace

Blow #1
Peter must grow old and die.

John 21:18-19

"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to {go."} Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"

How imminent could the Lord's return be for Peter who was told by Jesus Himself that he would "grow old" and die a martyr's death?

Would Peter be expecting an "any moment" return of Jesus next year, the year after, in five years?

Did Jesus teach that He could come back at any moment and tell Peter at the same time, that he would grow old? I think not.

How can one justify the act of the Holy Spirit, communicating through the apostle John the fact of this "prophecy" that Peter would grow old, and at the same time communicate through others that Jesus could come back "at any moment?"

2 Peter 1:13-15

And I consider it right, as long as I am in this {earthly} dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my {earthly} dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.

Here is some imminence for us. Peter had grown old. The year is approximately 67 AD and Peter knows that any day now, he could be captured and led forth to die. What Peter also knows is that Jesus would NOT come back before that happens.

In fact, Peter even mentions the coming of the Lord as he remembers being an eyewitness to His "Majesty" that will be manifested at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, when He comes "in power and great glory."

But He does not mention imminence. Instead he tells them to keep in mind the basic truths of Christianity that they have learned so that AFTER he dies, they will be able to use them for their own comfort and encouragement as the expectantly look for the "future" coming of Jesus.

No, Peter does not teach imminence in chapter one.

In chapter two, Peter makes it clear that as the church age continues, there WILL ARISE false teachers who will introduce destructive heresies.

Yes, there will continue to be an advance of evil just as Paul said, "evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived," (2 Tim. 3:13). And through it all, Peter reminds them that God knows how to deliver the godly from temptation and encourages them to remember the words spoken previously by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles," (2 Pet. 3:2).

Peter does not teach imminence in chapter two. How could he? He was never taught imminence by Jesus.

In chapter three, Peter says an astonishing thing. He says that there will come a time that can be designated as "the last days." Days considerably distant from the initial promise given by Jesus and repeated by the apostles, that Jesus was coming back. Thus, as "time" has gone by, the mockers will be motivated to say, "where is the promise of His coming?" Yes, so much time will have gone by that the mockers will have a "hay day" of ridicule concerning the promise of Christ's return. So Peter reminds them that God's time table is not based on man's perceptions of days and years. He says that God is not "slow" as man views slowness, but that He is actually "patient," waiting so that mankind might have a maximum amount of time to come to a change of mind.

And then he repeats the well known warning, "the day of the Lord will come like a thief" to indicate that many will be unprepared for its arrival and the return of Jesus.

The phrase, "come like a thief," occurs only 5 times and always refers to the return of Jesus at the arrival of the Day of the Lord (1Thes. 5:2, 4; 2Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; Rev. 16:15). The use of this term originated based on the parable Jesus taught at Matt. 24:43-44

"But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect it."

This exhortation and warning follows upon His teaching that when you see the "signs" of the great tribulation, you will know that His coming is right at the door, just like we know that summer is near when we see leaves on the trees (Luke 21:29).

But He immediately tells us that no one knows the day or hour of His coming. In other words, we can know the "season" of His coming, when He will be "right at the door," but we cannot know the exact day of His coming. Thus the exhortation for watchfulness so we might be prepared when God brings that arrival of Jesus "in His own timing" (1 Tim. 6:15).

Jesus did not teach imminence here. He taught that the events of the tribulation would precede His coming and that once those events transpire, we should know that He is right at the door and we should "be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming," (Mat. 24:42).

But our watchfulness should not be out of fear or sorrow, but out of great joy and expectation, knowing that at His arrival He will take us to Himself so that then we shall ever be with the Lord. That is why Paul calls this "the blessed hope" (Lit: the HAPPY confidence, Titus 2:13)).

He will come like a thief, only to those who are unprepared. But for the believer, walking in fellowship with God (walking in the light) they "are not in darkness that the day should overtake you like a thief," (1 Thes. 5:5). Accordingly, Paul immediately follows that up with an exhortation to all believers including himself, to "not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and balanced," (2 Thes. 5:6).

The exhortation then is to watchfulness and preparedness, not in view of an "any moment" coming of Jesus, but in view of the DANGER of not being ready when "the signs" come on the scene.

All the words used to encourage our watchfulness communicate the attitude of "expectation" and the strong emotion of longing, in view of His promised arrival, not in view of an "any moment" arrival.

No, Jesus did not teach imminence at Matthew 24. Instead, He taught that specific events had to occur first. Peter knew and understood this. And he even knew that the Lord would not come during his lifetime.

Thus, he exhorts the recipients of his letter, to be diligent to maintain holy conduct and godliness (2 Pet. 3:11) and to be found in Him, in peace, spotless and blameless," (v.14) so that just like John warns, "we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming," (1 John 2:28).

2Pet. 3:17-18

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him {be} the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Peter did not teach imminence in chapter three. He taught the need for growth, preparation and watchfulness,

"looking for and promoting the coming of the day of God,"
(2Peter 3:12, BFT).

Blow #2
Paul must witness in Rome.

Acts 23:11

But on the night {immediately} following, the Lord stood at his side and said, "Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also."

Unless, He adds, I decide to come back FIRST - then, of course, you won't get to Rome - - -

Such a little idea packed into this verse. Paul is told that he IS going to witness at Rome. That means it is BEFORE the Lord returns.

Jesus did not say when this would come about, but the promise stands on its own merits and for any one who was looking for an "any moment" rapture, the promise would certainly destroy that idea.

Now while Paul is "waiting" to get to Rome, what does he teach others about the "imminent" return of Jesus? Maybe he will have to keep it "hush-hush" since now, he cannot depend on it himself. Maybe he never had that idea in the first place. After all, he is the one who wrote 2 Thes. 2:3, which says that the day of the Lord cannot come until the man of lawlessness is revealed.

The same basic promise is repeated at Acts 27:24 where we find -

Acts 27:23-26

"For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.' "Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island."

But of course, the rapture might occur while they are stuck on the island and make the "promise" of God a lie. And how long were they on the island? Acts 26:11, "And at the end of 3 months, we set sail on an Alexandrian ship."

Three months for Paul to be expecting an "any moment" rapture. Well, no, because God had told Paul that he had to go to Rome. What then of all the believers throughout the rest of the world? Where is the reality of their hope in an "any moment" rapture? Were they to still look for such a thing? Indeed, would God the Holy Spirit be communicating to others that they should be looking for an "any moment" rapture, while at the same time having revealed to Paul that there would not be one?

Of course not. God does not give conflicting information to His people.

Blow #3

John will have additional public ministry beyond writing the book of the Revelation.

Revelation 10:8-11,

And the voice which I heard from heaven, {I heard} again speaking with me, and saying, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land."
And I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, "Take it, and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey."
And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
And they said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."

Revelation chapter 10 is a parenthetical chapter that deals personally with John and specifically with His ministry beyond the writing of the book of The Revelation.

This is a personal promise to John that he will prophesy "again" which suggests a ministry beyond the scope of the present vision he is seeing.

Accordingly, the Lord's return could not be imminent to John, nor would the Holy Spirit teach Imminency through him.

He may not know exactly when and where his future ministry is, but he should know that the Lord will not be coming back first.

Blow #4

A specific departure from the faith and the revealing of the man of Lawlessness must precede the return of Jesus.

2Thes. 2:1-3

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction."

This blow connects only if one will recognize the proper correlation of terms established within the context.

The subject is "the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him."

It should be clear that Paul views these two events as taking place at the same time. He makes the same connection at 1 Thes. 4:15-17, where we find in v. 15, "we who remain until the COMING OF THE LORD" and at v. 17, "we shall be caught up together in the clouds for a MEETING with the Lord in the air."

In chapter 5, Paul then makes the connection of this "coming" and "meeting" (gathering) with the term "Day of the Lord" at verse 2.

In verses 3-11, Paul then clearly indicates that the believer who is "awake," "alert" and "sober" (balanced) will NOT be surprised by the arrival of the Day of the Lord which will catch others totally off guard.

But in so doing, he also makes it perfectly clear that the church will be present on the earth when the Day of the Lord arrives. In fact, he clearly makes this arrival of the Day of the Lord refer to the same event mentioned just a few verses before as "the coming of the Lord" and "a meeting with the Lord in the air."

At 2 Thes. 2:1-3, he makes the exact same correlation.

Here, he addresses the concern of the believers that they Day of the Lord has already arrived. Accordingly, they have been given the impression by false teachings, that not only has "the coming" arrived, but the "gathering" taught to them in Paul's first letter, has also occurred.

So, CONCERNING this "coming" and "gathering," Paul says that they should not be disturbed about the idea that the Day of the Lord has come and pay no attention to the false teachings they have heard. He then very clearly tells them that this "coming of the Lord" and "our gathering together to Him," known AS the Day of the Lord, WILL NOT come until the apostasy and the man of lawlessness is revealed. That means that the man of lawlessness, the "beast" of Revelation and the one so often designated as the antichrist, WILL come on the scene of human history and be revealed as the great rebel against God BEFORE the rapture of the church.

And since there is usually little dispute that the man of lawlessness is revealed as the oppressive beast of The Revelation, AT the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week and not before it, it should be clear that such a revealing will precede the "coming of the Lord."

This issue revolves around whether or not one has the personal honesty and objectivity to make the proper identification of the three terms involved as referring to the same event.

Blow #5
The Great Commission:
Jesus said that he church would accomplish a world-wide gospel proclamation before He comes back.

Matthew 28:18-20,

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

This is the general mandate for worldwide evangelism and probably in itself, does not really mitigate against imminence. However, in association with Acts 1:8, there appears to be another one of those "things" which MUST be carried out before Jesus can or will come back.

"but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Now we know that the "church" was scattered away from Judea as a result of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen (Acts 8:1) and began ministering throughout the regions of Samaria. This took place about 36 AD and certainly fulfills the words of Jesus at Acts 1:8.

But the question needs to be asked. Could Jesus have returned BEFORE that migration of the church to Samaria? And if so, what then is the purpose and reliability of the words of Jesus at Acts 1:8?

Furthermore, Jesus said, "and to the uttermost parts of the earth," which did not take place for several years later. Paul informs us that it did indeed, happen as he writes in about 59 AD concerning the Romans, "your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world," (Rom. 1:8).

And in about 63 AD, "the hope of the gospel . . which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven," (Col. 1:23). And at Col. 1:6, "the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world also."

And let us remember what was said of the apostles by the Jews of Thessalonica in about 54 AD, "these men who have upset the world, have come here also," (Acts 17:6).

But BEFORE these men took the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth,

(say, between 30 and 50 AD) if indeed the above passages indicate that to be the case, could Jesus have come back? And if those passages do not indicate such a spread of the gospel, has Acts 1:8 then, not been fulfilled till later, if indeed, at all? And if that be the case, could Jesus have come back "anytime" since His very own words would still be unfulfilled?

Then we have Matthew 10:16-23 with special focus on Verse 23,

"But whenever they persecute in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish with the cities of Israel UNTIL the Son of Man comes."

This is similar to Acts 1:8 in that it indicates a certain accomplishment BEFORE the return of Jesus. If at a certain point in time, they are only part way through reaching "the cities of Israel," are they to be looking for an "any moment" return of Jesus? I think not.

Let's back up to Verse 18,

"And you shall even be brought before governors and kings for my Name's sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles."

In view of this, can they have been looking for an "any moment" return of Jesus during the 6+ years when they were ministering in Judea?

No, there needs to be a "worldwide" ministry of the church BEFORE Jesus will come back.

Indeed, Jesus again tells us at Matthew 24:14,

"and this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."

Of course, once again, this requires having a certain understanding of the context.

The understanding that "the end" correlates with Matthew 10:23 where Jesus relates it to "the Son of Man comes," and with Matthew 24:29, "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

And the understanding that the "coming" of Jesus that is in view here is the ONLY coming of Jesus that He Himself taught about. But that is another subject. However, I suggest that all the passages in the New Testament refer to the one and only coming of Jesus when He will come in the clouds of the sky and gather His elect from the earth and NOT his "later" descent to the earth at Armageddon which is only referenced at Rev. 19:11.

Anyway, I trust that it can be seen to be unlikely, in view of the promises and commands for a worldwide evangelistic outreach, that the Christians of the early church did not believe in an "any moment" return of Jesus. Expectancy does not require imminence.

Blow #6

The predicted progress of historical trends which must take place, as the "beginning" of birth pains, militates against the idea of Imminency.

Mankind has always been preoccupied with the future, and of course, the disciples of Jesus were no exception. During the week prior to the crucifixion in 30 AD, Jesus frequented the temple in Jerusalem every day. And it was on one of these days, the 12th of the month Nisan, that it appears as though He actually baited the curiosity of the disciples by speaking of a future destruction of the temple with very strong language.

The occasion, according to Mt. 24:1 and Luke 21:5, was the disciple's enamorment with the temple structure. The "bait" then, appears to be recorded at Mt.24:2 and Luke 21:6.

Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, there shall surely not be left one stone upon another, which will not be torn down.

The disciples respond with several questions, one of which was, "when shall these things be." Ie, when will this destruction of the temple occur? Matthew chooses not to record Christ's answer to this question, but simply deals with the time period from the cross until that destruction in 70 AD, via verses 5-6.

Luke, on the other hand, records the answer that Jesus gave and also gives us a general time-frame for understanding it.

In addition, they asked what would be the sign of His coming, the very coming He had been teaching them about for 3 1/2 years.

The answers of Jesus, recorded for us in Mt. 24 and Luke 21, give us an outline for the history of the church up until the gathering of the elect (church age believers) out from this world at the arrival of the Day of the LORD which is the event that triggers the end of the age.

Matthew 24:4

The possibility of deception requires specific information so that the church might be oriented to the progress of history and not be distracted from her evangelistic purpose.

If the church, or more specifically, individual believers, get too distracted and discouraged at the progress of evil in the world, they will lose sight of the true objective for their continued sojourn here on the earth (1 Peter 2:9).

Thus, we have the Olivet Discourse, wherein Jesus orients us to the historical trends that will occur during the church age, leading up to His return at the Day of the LORD.

As this is studied, it is imperative to properly harmonize the three accounts that we have in the synoptic gospels. And as they unfold it will be clear that the progress is viewed from 30 AD, as an uninterrupted history of the church, until Matthew 24:29-31, when Jesus returns in association with the Day of the LORD signs and gathers His elect from the world.

Jesus breaks down the historical trends into three periods.

1. Those before 70 AD.
2. Those between 70 AD and the great tribulation.
3. And those during the great tribulation.

The very fact that He so presents this information indicates the intent to communicate watchfulness for the "signs" of His coming and not to advocate an "any moment" return. In fact, His wording DEMANDS a delay of that return until at least the fall of Jerusalem. CHURCH AGE TRENDS - General trends both before and after 70 AD:

Mt. 24:5, For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ,
(Lk. 21:8, I am He, and, The time is at hand) and will deceive many.
(do not go after them. LK)
(For the mystery of lawlessness is already working - 2 Th.2:7)

Verse 6

And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not disturbed, for it must happen, but it is not yet the end.

(Lk. 21:9 And when you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be alarmed; for these things must happen first, but the end is not immediate.)

These "wars and rumors" have been occurring since 30 AD, and are to be viewed as general trends without placing any specific significance upon them. In fact, Jesus calls them "the beginning of birth pains at verse 8. "Beginning birth pains" are those intermittent pushes and shoves which indicate that a pregnancy is moving toward its "end." However, before that "end" can occur, there must be the "breaking of the water" and the final birth pains which are the body's actions to bring that baby into the world and "end" the pregnancy.

Imminency is excluded by the fact that Jesus says these things MUST happen and yet that is not the end. Now, once the beginning birth pains occur, the idea of Imminency would in that regard be present. But that is the whole idea. There is no Imminency UNTIL the birth process begins with beginning birth pains.

The "pregnancy" is God's plan to establish the Messiah's reign on the earth via His return at the Day of the Lord.

The beginning birth pains are those historical trends which progress from Messiah's first advent until the revelation of the beast, the man of lawlessness at the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week.

The final birth pains take place during the oppressive reign of the beast which is called the tribulation, the great one.

The end of the "pregnancy" is when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord and administrates divine wrath upon the world in preparation for establishing His 1000 year earthly kingdom.

At verse 6, Jesus said, "the end is not yet." This clarifies that when the "wars and rumors" occur, the oriented Christian should not be deceived into thinking that it portends the end of the age. To explain why it is not yet the end, Jesus amplifies at Mat. 24:7 and Luke 21:10-11. Here, He describes trends that take place on a much larger scale than the ones just mentioned - -

For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom - - .

There are two things in this passage which tell us that these "larger scale" trends are those which will occur after AD 70.

1. The idea of "kingdom against kingdom" conflicts does not describe the conflicts that took place within the Roman Empire prior to 70 AD.

2. At Luke 21:12, the phrase, "but before all these things."
Here Jesus backs up in His discourse in order to describe the events leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

By saying, "before all these things," Jesus is placing the following information before the "larger scale" trends just described.
And so, chronologically, these events should be viewed first.

As we approach this study, a very important point needs to be recognized in order to properly correlate the language Jesus uses as He tells of the events that will take place. Jesus taught about two different times of persecution and two different times of crisis for Jerusalem. He uses similarity of language to describe both, and we must be careful to make the separation between the two situations or else we will miss the true intent of His teaching.

When Jesus talks about the persecution between 30-70 AD, he uses language that is very similar to what He uses to describe the persecution of the great tribulation. But by careful analysis, the distinction between the two periods can be preserved. The same principle applies to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the oppression by the beast in the great tribulation.

SPECIFIC PERSECUTION BETWEEN 30-70 AD
(based on Luke 21:12, "But before all these things")

Verses 12-19,

"they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors because of My name. It will provide you occasion for a testimony. Therefore establish in your hearts, not to practice to defend yourselves; for I will give you speech and wisdom which all of your opponents will be unable to resist or refute. But you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will kill some from among you, and you will be hated by all because of My name. Yet a hair from your head will not perish. By your endurance you will possess your lives."

Mark also records this information at Mark 13:9-13 and it is best to take that passage as paralleling Luke 21:12-19. It should further be recognized that Matthew records this same teaching much earlier than the Olivet discourse at Mat. 10:16-23.

But at Mat. 10:23, Jesus takes the persecution and the gospel proclamation beyond the immediate time frame of the apostolic era and applies it to the church age in general without making any reference to the fall of Jerusalem 40 years after His resurrection.

"You shall not finish with the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes."

This simply confirms the idea that there is no "interruption" of the historical progress of the church until Jesus returns at the Day of the LORD.

It also confirms that Jesus did not teach an "any moment" return, but expected there to be a "complete" ministry within Israel first.

Mark 13:9-10

Now keep yourselves alert; for they will deliver you to courts and you will be flogged in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations.

The world-wide proclamation of the gospel was fulfilled by the apostles (at least in the context of the Roman Empire) prior to 70 AD according to language that we find at Colossians 1:6, 23. But it also has great significance for the period of time prior to the Day of the LORD. For there shall be, indeed, needs to be a blanket of gospel truth announced to Israel both locally, in Palestine, as well as world-wide, in order to sow the seed that will sprout in the 144,000 Jews who are converted just after the Day of the LORD arrives, (Rev. 7:1-8).

There also needs to be a maximum gospel proclamation to the world as a whole, "before" the return of Jesus to provide a "final warning" as it were, to all peoples so that, whether before or after the Day of the Lord, "whoever calls upon the name of the LORD, shall be saved." Joel 2:32

Matthew 24:14,

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed
in the whole world for a witness to all the nations,
and then the end shall come.

Indeed, the ministry of "the church" will never be complete either to the world or to Israel until Jesus returns. Mat. 10:16-23

Verse 23,

". . . you shall not finish with the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes."

Blow #7
The prediction of a future destruction of Jerusalem denies the doctrine of imminence (Luke 21:8-24).

DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM - 70 AD

Having recognized the 30-70 AD time context of Luke 21:12-19, it should be clear that Jesus picks up at verses 20-24 with the siege of Jerusalem by the armies of Rome. This event actually becomes the point of contact and overlap between AD 70 and the future oppression of the beast during the great tribulation. However, that point of contact and overlap is NOT chronological

And once again, we must be very careful in recognizing the precision in the words of Jesus to distinguish between these two events, and at the same time realize that He used similarity of language to describe both. Luke 21:20-22,

Now when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and those who are in the country, do not enter it; because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

All things fulfilled does not refer to the "entire" plan of God for Jerusalem, but specifically, that which involves a world-wide dispersion. A world-wide dispersion is not what happens in the yet future oppression by the beast, nor what happens when the nations surround Jerusalem during the Armageddon campaign (Zechariah 12:1-5).

This prophecy of Jesus specifically fulfills OT passages that deal with the destruction of the city and the dispersion of the people. Leviticus 26:27; Deuteronomy 28:49-68

It deals with the national discipline that God will administer upon the Jewish people because of the rejection of their Messiah. Matthew 21:33-46; 23:37-39

That is why the term "days of vengeance" is used at Luke 21:22.

Luke 21:23-24,

Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babies in those days; for there will be great calamity upon the land, and wrath to THIS people, and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

This is exactly what Gabriel communicated to Daniel in the famous "70 weeks" prophecy. Daniel 9:26,

(And after the 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,) And the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; and to the end there will be war; (it is) a decree of desolations.

The Roman army under Titus besieged the city in 70 AD on the 14th of the month Nisan until its fall, 134 days later on the 8th of Elul. This was prophesied by Daniel as taking place after the cutting off of Messiah. The cutting off of Messiah must be understood from the context of Isaiah 53:8 -

He was cut off from the land of the living,
for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.

This of course refers to the provision of salvation through the sin sacrifice of the Messiah, the details of which do not come under the scope of this work.

The "prince who is to come" is the little horn of Daniel 7:7-22 and refers to the future dictator of a ten-nation confederacy with its political roots in ancient Rome. This man will make a 7 year covenant of peace and religious toleration (M.E.P.T.A.) with the peoples of Palestine (the many) and will then break it 3 1/2 years later (Daniel 9:27). But the people of that "end times" prince refers to the Romans, who in 70 AD destroyed the city and the sanctuary; the people from whom this prince descended, not to those who are associated with him when he comes on the scene.

Then after 70 AD, until the end (end times) there will be war, just as Jesus said at Matthew 24:6, and a decree of desolations which includes the famines and earthquakes of Matthew 24:7.

And the plagues mentioned at Luke 21:11.

It should be clear that there could not be any "any moment" rapture because this prophecy about the fall of Jerusalem had to take place first. And although the disciples did not know the year of that destruction, they certainly could understand that Jesus was not coming back first. However, we should understand that they were probably unaware of the details of His coming, even though He taught so extensively on it, simply because it needed clarification and the ministry of the Spirit to "bring to remembrance" what they had been taught (John 16:12). And although Jesus gave them the "empowering" of the Spirit before His ascension (20:22; Luke 24:45), it still did not provide them with the orientation they needed, for the ask the question of Acts 1:6,

"Lord, is it as this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"

Still disoriented, Jesus told them again (John 17:18) that they were to minister throughout the world and not be concerned about the times and the seasons (Acts 1:7-8). The time of the end would come according to the Father's own authority and they should concentrate now on servicing the "remotest part of the earth."

The expectation of the early church, prior to the fall of Jerusalem, concerned the events surrounding that fall and the events that would follow it. The events that Jesus described at Luke 21:12-24 had to occur before the fall of Jerusalem, and they could and indeed, would take place from the very beginning after the formal arrival of the Spirit at the Day of Pentecost. Accordingly, the fall of Jerusalem, which would be portended by the city being surrounded by armies, could happen any time after the persecution activity began. Furthermore, there is no specific time period allotted to the time after the fall of Jerusalem, so that technically, the Lord could return during that time. In other words, the "signs of summer," which are the events of the tribulation, could happen at any time after the fall of Jerusalem, but NOT prior to that fall. The Day of the Lord arrival of Jesus then, was NOT imminent before the fall of Jerusalem.

And as we have seen, His return could not be imminent after the fall of Jerusalem UNTIL the birth process characterized by BOTH the beginning birth pains and the final birth pains (tribulation) begins.

Blow #8:
Israel must be restored as a nation for Daniel 9:27 to be fulfilled.

Of course, this is predicated on the view that accepts Daniel 9:27 as referring to a covenant of peace with the nation of Israel that allows her to engage in her ancient sacrifices and tabernacle worship.

Based on Daniel 9:27 and the prophet's words, "He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week," pretribulationists have historically and continuously insisted that the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel to protect her for seven years (the seventieth week of the Book of Daniel). It is that event which triggers what is commonly referred to as the Tribulation Period. But from the defeat of the Jewish nation in A.D. 70 until the emergence of the modern State on May 14, 1948, no Jewish nation or representative government existed. Hal Lindsey has written:

"The events leading up to the coming of the Messiah Jesus are strewn throughout the Old and New Testament prophets like pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle. The key piece of the puzzle which was missing until our time was that Israel had to be back in her ancient homeland, reestablished as a nation.

When this occurred in May 1948, the whole prophetic scenario began to fall together with dizzying speed." 11

It would have been impossible for the Antichrist to sign a covenant of protection with a non-existent nation. An any-moment Rapture, therefore, was not possible before the modern State of Israel was resurrected out of the ashes of the Second World War. Israel could have become a nation during any generation -- but the Rapture could not have preceded that event.

Thus, I conclude these eight blows to imminence (unless and until I find some additional factors to apply) and suggest that in the same way that the 2nd coming was not and could not be imminent before 70 AD, it is not and can not be imminent after 70 AD UNTIL we see "the signs of summer;" the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place in Jerusalem.

 
 

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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

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