The Eschatology Wars:  David Allen  


The Eschatology Wars
By Dr. David Allen Lewis
1993 conference, Pre-Trib Study Group

In this article against “date-setting” the author makes some serious blunders.

David Allen: Secondly, why select 1948 for the year when the "fig tree," Israel, began to put forth its leaves? The text does not say when Israel becomes a nation. Perhaps the fig tree began to put forth leaves at the time of the first aliyah (return) of the Jews in the late 1800's? Why not the founding of modern Zionism by Theodore Herzl in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897? Why not the founding of TelAviv, the first all-Jewish city in modern times, established in 1909? All these points of time were pointed out by prophecy teachers as the beginning of the final generation.

He has totally missed the point of Jesus’ message at Matthew 24:32-34. He is not alone in this error, for it is repeated by the vast majority of Bible interpreters regardless of their eschatological viewpoint.
The parable that Jesus relates has absolutely nothing to do with the nation of Israel. Not only is it un-provable that the “fig tree” is designed to be a symbol for the nation of Israel, but what Jesus actually taught was that the appearance of leaves on trees was a sign that summer was near. The fig tree is only ONE of the trees. This is established by comparing with Luke 21:29.
”And He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree AND ALL THE TREES; as soon as THEY put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is no near. Even so you, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is at hand.”

The focus is NOT on one tree (fig tree) but on ALL THE TREES. Thus, the intent is to communicate knowledge of the SEASON for the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
And the signs of the season are the events of the tribulation, as Jesus clarified in Matthew 24: 9-26.
It is AFTER the tribulation of those days has been CUT SHORT (that is, interrupted from its expected duration) by the sovereign decree of God, that Jesus will return to rescue His saints from the earth.

The next serious error, which admittedly is not held by all pretribbers, is the application of verse 36 to the rapture, but interprets the COMING at verse 30 as Christ’s arrival at Armageddon.

David Allen: May we suggest that it was not our Lord's intention in this passage to provide a means of fixing the time of His return since He immediately says that would bean impossibility.[24] (Mat. 24:36).

The context DEMANDS that there is only ONE SECOND COMING in view in this passage. It is the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of  the sky to gather together His saints, just as He promised at John 14:1-3 and as Paul taught at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.
The pretribber CANNOT use verses 36-44 for the rapture and separate them from verses 29-31.
However, such ones are correct in applying verses 36-44 to the rapture, because that is exactly what Jesus was talking about at verses 29-31. And this coming IN THE CLOUDS is perfectly consistent with what Paul taught at 2 Thes. 1:6-10, when the church age believers will be delivered out from the tribulation and be given rest “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”

Some pretribbers use this passage in an attempt to prove imminency. However, the rapture is only imminent within the context of verse 33, “even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”
In other words, the rapture is only imminent after the season of the tribulation begins; that is, the MID-70th week tribulation. And this teaching by Jesus is the basis for the apostles use of the phrase, “like a thief in the night.”
1. He comes like a thief in the night, at an unknown day and hour AFTER the tribulation has begun.
2. And although the day and hour will remain unknown to believers during that time, to those who are watching and waiting, He will NOT come like a thief (1 Thes. 5:4-8).

 David Allen:
Against Date Setting

The Scripture clearly says that no man can know the day or hour of the Lord's coming, and in Mark 13:33 we read, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is," thus indicating that date-setting serves no good purpose. And date- setting of the rapture or Second Coming has historically always proven to be false prophecy which is damaging to the cause of Christ.
We are living in the last days and nothing must be allowed to detract from the nobility and power of the message of end-time Bible prophecy.
Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby respectfully demand that all date-setting and date-suggesting cease immediately. Let abstinence from this type of speculation prevail until the Lord comes.
We absolutely must stop this type of activity or there will be few who will take the message of prophecy seriously. If Jesus does not return by or during the year 2000, we envision that by 2001 the message of Bible prophecy will be scorned, attacked, and possibly outlawed by legal means, thus giving the New Age movement a clear field for the introduction of their occult humanist messiah.

This manifesto has been signed by hundreds of church leaders, denominational officers, pastors, evangelists, seminary professors, teachers, etc. If you want your name added to the list please write David A. Lewis, P.O. Box 11115,Springfield, MO 65808.

How lovely! And they are all missing the clear intent of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.
The second coming that Jesus taught about is in fact His coming for the church, immediately after the tribulation has been directly cut short by God the Father.
Now some pretribbers are consistent in keeping the entire context as applicable to the arrival of Jesus at Armageddon – what they call “the second advent.” But they are still wrong in failing to see the connection of Christ’s words here with His words elsewhere (John 14:1-3) and with the words of the apostles.
But to do as David Allen has done in this article, and as many, many others have done in their writings, is totally destroying the contextual intent of what Jesus was teaching.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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