Did you know this? Jesus prophesied to his disciples many awesome, enormous, life-changing events would take place within the lifetime of his Jewish contemporaries: Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mat 24:34) ‘All these things’ included:
the once ever, terrible great tribulation
the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, judgment on the very heart of Judaism
the awesome appearing of the sign of the Son of Man (Jesus) in the sky
the mourning and distress of the tribes (i.e., the Jews) of the land (i.e., Judea)
the unimaginable sight of the Messiah coming on the clouds with power and great glory. (24:30)
What then did those apostles expect from those words of Jesus spoken on the Mount of Olives that day?
The letters of the NT bear consistent statements showing that they believed Jesus’ return was close, coming within the lifetime of many, just as he promised. Dozens of statements by these authors demand a change in our thinking. Here are just a few: Acts 2:14-20; 1 Cor 10:11; Heb 1:2, 9:26, 1 Pet 1:20. All these texts limit them to the first century. Peter wrote “the end of all things was at hand” for him and his readers (1 Pet 4:7). John insisted that it was the “last hour” (1 John 2:18).
I have some questions to ask you if you are still waiting for Jesus’ return.
First. If his coming was close for them, how can it be close for you, 2000 years later on? That’s nonsense!
Second. Were Jesus and the writers of the New Testament mistaken? Yes? No?
Third. Just what are you expecting to experience at the return of Jesus? The end of the world, history, time?
Look. That is a man-made idea. The ‘end’ or ‘last days’ in the NT refers to the end of an era, an age, not the end of time or the end of the world! This is a terrible stumbling block to people reading and understanding the meaning of Jesus’ words. The original text is not confusing or unclear about the meaning of ‘end’. The Jews thought in terms of ‘this age’ and the ‘age to come’ (e,g., Mat 12:32).
Fourth. Just what do you expect to see at the return of Jesus? A physical Jesus coming on the clouds?
The NT teaches that He forever sits at the right hand of power, masked by dark clouds of glory and “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16). Seeing him, John fell ‘like a dead man’ (Rev 1:17). Many assume he would be seen by human eyes and so then imagine he has not yet come. Deception! That’s another man-made idea. Now, we hear this absurd idea that at the end of the age, the earth /universe will undergo a radical renovation and the righteous of the ages, physically resurrected from the dead, will live on this “restored” earth. Is that what you believe? Where is the Biblical evidence?
History tells us what was actually seen by people in the first century, AD66:
A star resembling a sword; a comet for a whole year; At the feast of unleavened bread, during the night, a bright light shone round the altar and the temple, so that it seemed to be bright day, for half an hour; a few days after that feast “Before sunset chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.” Josephus, Jewish Wars, b.6, 9, 3.
The Roman historian Tacitus reported “There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure.”
Now, I hear from people who just long to leave this planet, and to be free of bodies that are sick and broken. The mainstream news depresses people and news of loss, tragedy and WW3 threats can be overwhelming. Many are discouraged by the delayed Rapture. It’s 50 years since ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’ was published. Keeping the faith becomes more challenging for them each day. They cry ‘will Jesus EVER rescue us from this dreadful world gone haywire?”
That’s why many believers have a negative mindset. That doesn’t help anyone. That’s why so many are so darkened in the mind focusing on the bad all the time, mocking those that see Jesus ruling for ever. All they do is proclaim the inevitable victory of evil. There is a dark veil over their mind. Their focus is on the evil in this world, and not on the glorious gospel and Kingdom of God which triumphs and is eternal.
Do you reject scripture if it goes against your denomination? or have you been programmed to see things by “group think” within your evangelical tradition? Cognisant dissonance? Are you reading the NT as if it were spoken TO you and not the original readers in context? No. We must understand how the original audience would have understood the texts. But the purveyors of error insist that it was written to us, arguing that prophecies and events from the 1st century are to be fast-forwarded to our day! That’s nonsense, right?
We need to change our thinking from bad teachings and this deadly escape theology, these ‘get me outta here’ attitudes. Doom and gloom. This may be difficult for many, I get it. Everyone needs to realise that we have been lied to—the greatest deception being about Jesus’ return. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1). That’s where He is right now and that’s where our victory lies! (Rev 1:5) Let’s start living joyously in the Kingdom of God!
It certainly is a mouthful Ian, so contrary to what has been taught. It throws up many questions as well. If Jesus has come, why is it such a struggle to win the battle? We can assume, that like other civilisations before us, God will not contend with our wickedness forever. While it’s always dangerous to say we are the worst, in the words of Billy Graham, if God doesn’t do something about our immorality, then he owes Sodom & Gomorrah. Sobering for us. For those who believe when that happens?
More than anything it should scream at us, obey Jesus in his calling on us to go and make disciples before it is too late. We have already seen “too late” too many times, and it is sobering. God showing us the door to eternal solitary confinement. Pray Jesus, send more workers for the task before it is too late.
Thanks Michael. Your good question “If Jesus has come, why is it such a struggle to win the battle?” OK. As you know, Jesus poured out the promised Holy Spirit to his disciples, promising this is better than his physical presence and that applies to us now. He has equipped us to proclaim the kingdom and to make disciples! Yes it is a struggle (Ephesians 6:12). Paul’s letters all talk about the power upon believers and demonstrated this in his own life spreading the gospel of the kingdom many years before the “coming (Greek parousia) of the Son of Man.
We learn that this parousia was a coming in judgment upon Israel and the Jews who rejected him –‘this wicked and adulterous generation’ resulting in the total destruction of Jerusalem and its sacred temple—the very heart of Judaism—“for these are the days of vengeance order that all things written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:22). This is about the “day of the Lord”, mentioned dozens of times in both the Old and New Testament, and is about judgment upon a disobedient people and not about the Pentecostal visitation which had preceded it by decades.
Your comment “If God doesn’t do something about our immorality . . “ OK, so perhaps He will and I ask Him to intervene. But that’s about His judgment on people today. The Parousia was about the end of Israel being the “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1Peter 2:9), now applied to the first disciple and on to us under the New Covenant for us to enjoy.
One more thing. You wrote “Jesus in his calling on us to go and make disciples before it is too late.” I ask you “too late for what? Certainly not too late before his return! That’s past long ago, as I have shown. OK, we could say ‘too late before we get too old, die or are otherwise prevented from being obedient. Yes it still stands: ‘Jesus, send more workers for the task’. Amen.
An interesting essay, well written. Well presented, Ian. (Hope that you are coping with the present heat better than I am. 31/01/23)
Thanks Kevin, much appreciated. Yes heat affects old guys especially humidity.