Blogging elsewhere

For all those who haven’t gotten the memo, I am doing all of my blogging at the link below.

I am transitioning this blog to the back burner.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman


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Evidence from Revelation 20

The 13th chapter of The Coming Millennial Kingdom is titled Evidence from Revelation 20, penned by Harold W. Hoehner.  Overall this was a very good chapter.  But here is the primary mention of the millennial kingdom in the entire scriptures.  If this chapter didn’t have solid content, the entire reliability of this book could be called into question.  The author did a very thorough job covering the subject of the millennium as a whole.  This is appropriate for this chapter since it is here that the battleground for premillennialism is fought.

Eight pages are spent documenting the historical interpretation of Revelation 20 within the church.  It is an interesting read when you understand that the early church held to a literal interpretation of the thousand years.  Only when a misunderstanding of what this thousand years consisted of was there resistance in the church.  Some set forth the idea that this thousand years consisted of a period of gluttonous feasting here on the earth.  Of course this was met with resistance from godly Christians.  Instead of correcting the teaching of the millennium, it was discarded.  That’s the short version, so in purchasing the book, you can get the fuller version along with the church fathers which are quoted.

Our understanding of Revelation 20 should not necessarily be determined by a historical teaching which has been passed down.  So Hoehner turns to the scriptures themselves to unfold what the proper view should be.  He explains the entire context of the destruction of the beast, but no mention of Satan’s destruction is contained in Revelation 19.  The question remains, what of Satan’s final judgment?  Revelation 20 is the answer.  Satan’s destruction comes at least one thousand years after the destruction of the beast at the battle of Armageddon.

To me, his explanation of the passage is an over explanation, but such is necessary when there are so many interpretations which lead many to an allegorical stance.  So he covers nearly every angle that I can think of, and some that I hadn’t thought of until I read them.  I had ran into the recapitulation view, so I was familiar with it.  This is the view that the destruction of Satan (along with Gog/Magog) at the end of the thousand years, is simply a re-explanation of what had been previously described at the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:11-21.  He comes to the same conclusion that I have, it can’t be because of the clear time markers that put the destruction of the beast before the thousand years and the destruction of Satan after the thousand years.  So if you have dialogued with someone about this and can’t quite grasp what they are getting at, this chapter will help you to understand the issue and how you can deal with the argumentation that is being set forth.  Again, this is the short version, so read it yourself as he interacts with several A-Millennialists in a hands-on sort of way.

Of course when one gets into the finer points of detail in Revelation, I’m going to have something to say about it.  Some of the conclusions that he makes are lacking.  For instance, he points out differences between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:7-9 to show that these cannot be the same events.  Those who have been reading my blog for some time know my position.  Ezekiel 38-39 must be divided into two distinct sections.  Ezekiel 38:1-7 and all of chapter 39 are pre-millennial while Ezekiel 38:8-23 is post-millennial lining up flawlessly with Revelation 20:7-9 occurring “after many days” which is the millennium, see Ezekiel 38:8.  Demonstrating differences in a passage does not always prove them to be completely different, but sometimes complementary.  Concerning the physical coming of Christ, he places this after the bowls rather than before (see Revelation 14:14-16) because of the reference in Revelation 16:15 that Christ comes like a thief.  This is completely lacking in substance since Revelation 16:15 is not a time indicator, but a warning that Christ will come like a thief.  Similar warnings are given at Revelation 22:12, 20 significantly after Christ has physically returned.  Finally, he separates the onset of the millennium from the new heavens and new earth placing them after the millennium.  He doesn’t articulate his reasons for this view, but simply sets them forth.  Readers here understand my view that Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21 to be speaking of a new heavens and new earth which occur in conjunction with the millennial kingdom.

Overall though, this chapter is beneficial for one to understand the arguments that are set forth in favor of an A-Millennial understanding of Revelation 20.  I personally don’t think it’s a question of orthodoxy.  I have amillennarian brothers in Christ.  But I will defend the pre-millennial view since I feel it is the biblically correct view.  The problem for me is getting an a-millennialist to engage with me on the issues.  I just can’t one of them to tell me what they do with the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4-6.  This chapter was somewhat helpful, but still left me with questions on how they defend their view.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Out with the new, in with the old

Just to let everyone know who reads my blog, I have shifted back to my old blog.  I have been actively posting there and leaving this blog by the wayside.  The reason is that the old blog has so much more history.  When I started this blog I wanted to switch to WordPress because my Windows Spaces was such a hassle.  That gave me a good experience with WordPress, so when I had the opportunity to upgrade (emphasis on the up) my old blog to WordPress, I took advantage of it.

Now with my old blog being WordPress, this blog became redundant.  My old blog gets so many more hits because of the searches which lead to it.  I still get lots of hits for my “gates of hell” post from years ago.  I will post a few more things here to finish out a couple of series that I started here, just because I’m so particular that way.  After that, I’m not quite sure what I will do here.  So for those who want to keep reading what I’m cranking out, check it out at my old blog.  “The Future House of…” series is pretty fair.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Evidence From I Corinthians 15

The 12th chapter in The Coming Millennial Kingdom is titled Evidence from I Corinthians 15 written by D. Edmond Hiebert.  This is one of the shortest chapters in the book.  The author sets forth a pretty convincing case based on the language of verses 20-28 of I Cor. 15.  What the author sets out to do is prove that the reign of Christ is positioned in between the coming of Christ and the end, which must occur after the reign of Christ.  I think he proves his case and I have only one disappointment.  I believe that verses 50-55 of the same chapter could be brought into the discussion since they cite two OT prophecies which could help us see the timing of Christ’s reign.  But let us look briefly at the author’s argumentation without being overly critical.

The author spends time looking at the resurrection of Christ since this is the theme of the chapter.  Since Christ is only the firstfruits of the resurrection, this ensures that His people will also be resurrected.  But when does the passage state that Christ’s people will be resurrected?  This is at the coming of Christ in the future, so already there is a gap between the firstfruits and the next stage in the resurrection.  Then comes the question of the millennial reign.  Hiebert sets forth the principle of Christ’s reign including a series of conquests, of which death is the last in that series.  Christ comes, He begins to reign, He destroys enemies including death, then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom up to the Father.  This shows another stage to the resurrection at the end because this is set forth in just such terms along side the firstfruits and those that belong to Christ at His coming.  Of all places to turn in the NT to support his claim, Hiebert goes to Hebrews 1-2.  He shows how the author to the Hebrews and Paul in I Corinthians 15 both quote from Psalm  8 and Psalm 110.  It’s a brilliant thought, although he is reiterating a work by Wilber Wallis.  His point is that both passages are united that the reign of Christ is future, so positioning the reign of Christ now is dismantled by two different passages saying the same thing.  The points he makes are short and sweet which is the style that I prefer reading.  His ten pages of argumentation are better than most who write twenty pages in this same book.

Let me turn back for just a minute at my dismay of the omission of verses 50-55 of the same chapter.  The reign of the Messiah is evident throughout Isaiah, especially in chapters 24-27.  We should be able to see the Premillennial reign of Christ especially in Isaiah 24:21-23.  Notice in verse 22 how the wicked rulers in the heavenly places are imprisoned in a pit, but ultimate judgment is held in abeyance until “after many days”.  It should be clear that this “after many days” is the reign which is spoken of in verse 23.  This same passage contains the resurrection of the righteous in Isaiah 25:8, 26:19-21, one of these is quoted in I Corinthians 15:54.  This is also the time when Israel will be regathered back into her land, Isaiah 27:12-13.  So the righteous are resurrected, the wicked are imprisoned in a pit, Israel is regathered into her land, the LORD begins to reign in Zion, yet the wicked do not receive their final sentence until “after many days” implied “after many days of the reign of the Messiah”.  Couldn’t someone set the author’s argumentation side by side with these principles to bolster the case for Premillennialism more effectively?  Well, maybe I just did.  But couldn’t someone do it in print?

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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The Views of Dr. Alan Hultberg

With the release of Three Views on the Rapture, Alan Hultberg has been thrust to the forefront of the PreWrath position.  For some time, I think many have wondered how the PreWrath position stacks up in relation to the PreTrib and PostTrib position.  Now the questions have been answered.  The latest version of this book by Zondervan includes the pretribulational rapture position, the posttribulational rapture position, and the prewrath rapture position.  Hultberg has done double duty with this book in serving as the general editor and in representing the PreWrath position.  He does not write as one who has a case to prove on the rapture, but as a well versed student of the scriptures who can illuminate most any passage of the Bible that he turns to.  Yet he is also able to engage his colleagues with opposing views and defend his own positions when they are questioned.  With this in mind, it is with great care that I present to you, students of eschatology, the content of this post.

Alan Hultberg represents PreWrath, but in his presentation he differs with other prewrathers who have taught, promoted, and even risked careers for the PreWrath position over the course of many years.  This post is to document where Hultberg differs from the classic PreWrath position, where he differs from my viewpoint, and where I believe he could defend PreWrath better in the future.  Those representing the classic PreWrath position are Marvin Rosenthal, Robert Van Kampen, and Charles Cooper.  Van Kampen has two books which speak to his views on the rapture and eschatology, The Sign and The Rapture Question Answered.  Rosenthal has published The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church and a series of articles in the publication Zion’s Fire which serve as a commentary for the book of Revelation.  Charles Cooper has published God’s Elect and the Great Tribulation along with many articles in a newsletter titled Parousia.  Rosenthal and Cooper continue to publish material on the end times and may be persuaded of some of the views that Hultberg has presented, but Van Kampen is now with the LORD.

Foremost, Hultberg believes that the rapture will occur during the events of Matthew 24:29-31, included under the gathering of the elect.  After discussing how Paul derives his framework for the coming of Christ in the Thessalonians epistles directly from the Olivet Discourse, he makes this comment.  “This evidence indicates that, though no “rapture” is explicitly mentioned in Matthew 24:31, it is precisely there in the tradition that Paul places the rapture.”  He also believes that the rapture occurs at the sixth seal in Revelation and identifies the multitude in Revelation 7:9-17 as the church.  “In Revelation 7:9 the innumerable multitude is said to come from “every nation, tribe, people and language” and in 7:14 to have washed their robes “in the blood of the Lamb.”  This is language that John already applied to the church in Revelation 5:9…  John clearly intends to describe the church there…” So Hultberg agrees with classic PreWrath that the church will enter the great tribulation and be raptured at the sixth seal.  He also believes that the church will be spared the wrath of God that the Son of Man brings with him in accordance with I Thessalonians 5:9 and II Thessalonians 1:7-8.  “We conclude then from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:12 that Paul understands two events to occur in relation to the parousia.  Jesus will pour out his wrath on unbelievers, and he will rapture his church to allow them to escape that wrath.  This complex of events Paul refers to as the day of the Lord.” Further, Hultberg believes from the Revelation chronology, that the church will be spared the wrath of God as contained in the trumpets which follows the great tribulation.  “The trumpets that will effect God’s wrath are then given to seven angels, and fire from the altar, mixed with the prayers of the saints (cf. 6:9-10) is cast to earth.  Thereafter the trumpets are blown and supernatural cataclysms embroil the earth.  Between the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-17 and the seventh seal in 8:1-5, however, comes an interlude in the action….  Though God’s wrath will not be administered until the blowing of the trumpets, it is with the opening of the sixth seal that God’s wrath is said to arrive, immediately upon the directive to the martyrs to wait.  The implication is that by the time the sixth seal is opened, the full complement of martyrs has been achieved.  A better solution is to understand the appearance of the innumerable multitude in heaven to be a picture of the rapture of the church.”  This is all in accord with the classic prewrath position, and of course with me as well.

Now let’s turn to the subject of Revelation 14:14-16 as the rapture.  Hultberg does an excellent job setting the sequence in Revelaton 12-16 as a parallel to the PreWrath rapture in Revelation 6-8.  “Thus it is certain that Revelation 7:9-17, introduced by the cosmic disturbances of the sixth seal and parallel to the scene of the victors harvested by the Son of Man in 14:14-16, is a picture of the raptured church.”  Later he writes, “We have seen above that Revelation 6-8 and 14-16 present the rapture immediately prior to the outpouring of God’s wrath.  Thus in Revelation 14:14-20, following an announcement of the arrival of the hour of God’s judgment (14:7) and yet prior to the grape harvest (14:17-20) in which all who worship the Beast will be forced to “drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger” (14:10, 18-20 NASB), John sees Christ harvest the earth at his parousia.  Once the victorious church is in heaven (15:2-4), the seven bowls full of the wrath of God (15:1, 7; 16:1) are poured onto the kingdom of the Beast (16:21).”  But in this instance Hultberg departs from the understanding that other PreWrathers express concerning this passage.  Charles Cooper writes in Parousia newsletter that “Revelation 14:14-17 narrates the wrath of God against the wicked depicted in the bowl judgments to follow”.  Taking a bit different approach, in Zion’s Fire, Rosenthal has expressed that Revelation 14:14-16 is a rapture type event occurring after the rapture, gathering those who come to faith after the actual rapture into the kingdom of God.  Read about his views here.  So this is clearly new territory for a published PreWrath author to venture into.  Alas, I do not know if Van Kampen would have agreed or not.  I checked the scripture references in The Sign to find that it skipped from Revelation 14:12 to Revelation 14:20.  My guess is that he would disagree with Hultberg because of his chronological view of the bowls being located in the 30 days that follow Daniel’s 70th week.  I agree completely with Hultberg on this matter.  He has this well laid foundation, “Revelation 12-16 forms a literary unit in the book.”

Since Hultberg is not writing his thesis to distinguish himself from classic PreWrath, it is sometimes difficult to understand if he agrees with the classic chronology.  That chronology is that the seven seals occur first (at least the fifth and sixth seals are during the great tribulation which follows the abomination of desolation at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week), followed by the seven trumpets which occur during the Day of the LORD taking us to the end of the 1260 days, then in the 30 days that follow is when the seven bowls are poured out.  This is why the classic PreWrath structure does not seem to be able to accommodate Revelation 14:14-16 as the rapture because of its placement in proximity to the bowls.  However, it seems that Hultberg may agree with the classic timeline because in a footnote he writes:  “The literary connection among the three “judgment” series in Revelation indicate that the seventh seal encompasses the seven trumpets and the seventh trumpet encompasses the seven bowls.  Thus the trumpets are given upon the opening of the seventh seal (8:1-2), and the trumpets end and bowls begin with the opening of the temple in heaven (11:19; 15:5).  Each series then ends with the same theophanic phenomena, indicating the coming of God and his kingdom (11:15-18; cf. 16:17).”  But he also writes this which may lean toward an understanding of the trumpets and bowls being parallel: “Seals 1-6 bring us to the arrival of the day of God’s wrath, and seal 7 (incorporating the  trumpets and bowls) is the outpouring of God’s wrath.  The seven bowls represent a final, intense period of judgment against the Beast and his worshipers during which repentance is impossible.” While his chronology could go either way, he probably agrees with the classic PreWrath view, which places the bowls in the 30 days which follow the 1260 days.  His scripture reference above points to a popular view that Revelation 15:5 picks up at the precise point where the chronology ended at Revelation 11:19.  Later he will write in a response to Moo that “the seventh trumpet is expanded in the seven bowls of wrath…”  As I have stated before, the idea of the bowls occurring in the 30 days that follow the 1260 days contradicts Revelation 13:5 which shows the beast only has 42 months of authority, not 43 months.  The bowls should picture the demise of the beast within that 42 month period.  This makes the trumpets and bowls occur in a chronologically parallel fashion, even if we don’t completely understand.

Later in Hultberg’s response to Moo, he gets even further into the issue of chronology with a startling viewpoint concerning the two witnesses.  Hultberg surprisingly agrees with Moo that the two witnesses prophesy during the first half of Daniel’s 70th week.  He allows this because during Revelation 10:1-11:2 it seems that the chronological action is put on pause temporarily.  Hultberg is responding to Moo’s assertion that the two witnesses ascend into heaven at the time of the rapture, and further that the great earthquake of Revelation 6:12, 11:13, and 16:18 all describe the same event, causing the time of these three verses to converge.  Hultberg cleaves the timing of the earthquakes of Revelation 6:12 and 16:18 by showing that the sixth seal signals the arrival of God’s wrath while the seventh bowl signals the conclusion of God’s wrath and the arrival of the kingdom of God.  He also emphasizes a chronological progression from sixth seal to seventh seal and into the seven trumpets.  His ultimate conclusion is that since the sequence of the two witnesses falls outside the scope of the trumpet sequence therefore the ascension of the two witnesses will occur in the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, most likely at the rapture.  Hultberg winds up agreeing that the great earthquake of Revelation 11:13 when the two witnesses ascend into heaven is most likely the great earthquake of the sixth seal.  His timing seems to be that the two witnesses have the time of their testimony in the first half of Daniel’s 70th week, then sometime after that time they are no longer supernaturally protected, they are killed during the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, then they are resurrected (for how long?) and then ascend at the sixth seal rapture.  Van Kampen disagrees with this in The Sign as he has written, “…the literal sequence of the book of Revelation unequivocally shows that the death of the two witnesses will bring the seventieth week to an end.”  As prolific a writer as Rosenthal is, he has surprisingly little to say about the two witnesses in his Revelation commentary.  However, he does affirm his agreement with Van Kampen in writing, “When their time of witness is concluded at the end of the Seventieth Week, the Antichrist will murder them…”  Cooper has a little more interaction with other positions in Parousia issue #15 by examining the three woes.  He writes, “The completion of the second woe is pronounced just after the death and resurrection of the two witnesses.”  To briefly cut to the chase, Cooper states, “The only logical conclusion is that the two witnesses must prophesy during the second three and a half-year period.”  So it seems that Hultberg diverges from the classic PreWrath position here as well.  As for my position, I am open to examining what Hultberg has to say here.  But I have written here on my blog that the two witnesses prophesy during the final three and one half years of Daniel’s 70th week.  My proof is that Revelation 11:1-3 is united, with the final 42 months of Jerusalem being trampled down occurring chronologically parallel with the ministry of the two witnesses.  After that 42 months has expired, Jesus now holds sovereignty over Jerusalem with no more Gentile occupation, see Luke 21:24 for more details.  But I have also conceded that perhaps the entire time of their testimony is 1260 days, including the death, resurrection, and an undetermined amount of time to show themselves alive.  This would still place the ascension at the end of the 1260 days.  I think this divergence of opinion demonstrates two points.  First, it is important to read the responses that one has to the positions of others since we can glean even more knowledge of the positions they hold.  Reading Hultberg’s responses to Blaising and Moo were extremely insightful for me.  Second, we should be open to supporting Hultberg in his defense of the PreWrath position even if we don’t agree with every little detail of chronology.  Surely there is room for disagreement without banishing him from the PreWrath camp altogether.

Concerning Revelation 20:4 and how the first resurrection relates to the rapture is where I feel Hultberg really could have done better.  He admits up front that this is Moo’s strongest point, but is this because he doesn’t have a good response?  In his response Hultberg speculates about some very interesting possibilities.  Hultberg takes another point of Moo’s and tries to answer both at once.  Moo had previously asserted that I Corinthians 15:51-52 should be considered posttribulational because of the quotation of Isaiah 25:8.  The point Moo makes is that church saints are included in this OT resurrection passage.  So Hultberg is attempting to address Revelation 20:4 which is described as the first resurrection.  He has two good points.  First, he mentions as a possibility that although this passage is mentioned “post-parousia” that it is probably misplaced.  Second, the idea of the trumpet on the Day of the LORD (I Cor. 15:52) is likened to the Day of the LORD in that it is not a single event but more of an eschatological period of time when God accomplishes certain things.  (I’m really summarizing poorly here.)  But then I feel Hultberg makes an error.  He points to passages in the OT which seem to have “conflated” the first resurrection and the second resurrection (his term).  So instead of clarifying, Hultberg clouds the issue stating that there is no reason that the passages could not be post-millennial after the manner of some of these OT passages.  My solution is quite simple.  Hultberg was more on track when he initially suggested the reference was temporally misplaced.  Look at Revelation 20:4-6 and tell me what you see.  You should see the righteous dead already sitting on thrones and ruling in the millennial kingdom.  It is stated that “they came to life”, but this is aorist referring to the entire action, not necessarily intimating anything about the time.  The two chronological time markers are #1 – it must be after the great tribulation because tribulation martyrs came to life and #2 – it must be before [or at the very latest at the onset of] the millennium since they reigned for 1000 years.  Very simply, John saw the martyrs sitting on thrones at this time ruling for 1000 years with Christ, note how it states that the authority to judge had been committed to them.  This timing is in complete agreement with PreWrath.

There are some other minor issues that are worth mentioning.  It seems that Hultberg agrees with other PreWrathers in seeing a parallel between the birthpangs mentioned in Matthew 24:8 and the seals of Revelation 6.  Others have examined this and found it to be lacking, myself included.  But Hultberg doesn’t present his view quite the way others have, and even acknowledges in a footnote that the fourth seal has no particular correspondence to the Olivet Discourse.  He also sees a certain Roman emperor to be at the center of the Revelation prophecies in some way.  He writes, “The fact that the beast-king is ridden by a woman representing Rome probably indicates the Beast is a Roman emperor, most likely Domitian, the eighth emperor from Augustus, who is predicted to “reincarnate” Nero as an antichrist.” This comment should not be taken out of context.  Hultberg points out the deception of the false prophet (cf. Matthew 24:24, II Thess. 2:9-10) showing that John has two perspectives in mind, which he terms a dualist perspective in a footnote giving more explanation, one near (first century) and one far (eschatological).  So warning the church of an upcoming tribulation in the first century should not be problematic for us who still wait for future fulfillments.  Finally, there is always the debate as to whether the woman of Revelation 12:1 is either Israel or the church.  I like what Hultberg writes in a footnote: “The woman in Revelation 12 seems to be a symbol of the messianic community.  Her war with the dragon extends from the garden of Eden (12:9) to the final period of history (12:14 and the rest of the book, which is dependent on this episode).  Thus, as Eve, she gives birth to a messianic child whose life is sought by the ancient serpent (12:4; Gen. 3:15).  As Israel, she bears the attributes of Joseph’s dream (12:1; Gen. 37:9) and brings forth the Messiah (12:5; Ps. 2:9).  Though she herself is protected by God, the rest of her children are exposed to the wrath of the dragon in the work of the beast (12:17; 13:7).”  Not bad.  I lean toward seeing the woman as the church (which includes the believing remnant of Israel), but here is a view which centers around Eve and Israel which I really like.

If I have one hope for Hultberg’s presentation of PreWrath to accomplish, it is that within the PreWrath community it will be accepted and even promoted that Revelation 14:14-16 pictures the PreWrath rapture.  The passage is clearly parallel with Revelation 6-8.  I have debated online with other PreWrathers and the verdict for me is clearly in.  There is no evidence that this cannot be the PreWrath rapture, and believe me, I have had a lot thrown at me.  We are indebted to Dr. Hultberg for his work now available in this recent publication.  What are you waiting for students of eschatology?  This book is a landmark.  It’s time to purchase it.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Three Views on the Rapture ~ Summary

With the recent rerelease of Zondervan’s latest edition of Three Views on the Rapture, people are bound to ask the big question, “So who won the debate?”  After any debate, critics from all sides will appear out of the woodwork to throw in their two cents offering critiques as to who appeared victorious and who just appeared.  After reviewing every section of the book, including the critiques, I now offer you my orange review of who the winners are in this round of debates.

If the contest concerned graciousness and charity, Douglas Moo would undoubtedly be the winner.  His conversation was worded so as to cause little hurt even though the disagreement was at times great.  He sincerely complimented those who he was critiquing.  In this category, Craig Blaising would be the loser.  His accusations many times crossed the line into areas that were not even being debated.  One example was whether or not one could call themself a Progressive Dispensationalist if they did not agree with him on one particular matter.  Another example is in calling a foundation “shallow”, which is a less than flattering term, rather than debate the foundation from scripture with a superior point of view.  Let others decide if the foundation is shallow.

Concerning the rapture debate proper, I believe the PreWrath Rapture was presented as the most scripturally sound position.  Hultberg did a fantastic job of keeping his thesis on the subject matter.  While Blaising may have done better in presenting the Olivet Discourse in such a way as to deal with Preterist objections more adequately, that was not the point of this debate.  In three clear passages, Matthew 24, Revelation 6-8, and Revelation 14-16, Hultberg outlined how the rapture would take place after the great tribulation, before God’s wrath, at the sixth seal/cosmic signs, at the coming of Christ, and beginning the Day of the LORD.  Blaising could only insist that he had previously proven that Daniel’s 70th week, the Day of the LORD, and the great tribulation were all interchangeable terms, something which he had not clearly done.  Moo had to rely on presenting the second coming as one simple event which takes place rather quickly, not allowing for an extended period of time.  When Moo conceded that Revelation could portray the rapture in the passages that Hultberg had suggested, he undermined his own position which stated that the rapture does not result in believers going to heaven, but instead are brought into the presence of Christ.  The passages [which Moo conceded could be the rapture] picture believers in heaven after the great tribulation and just before the wrath of God.

In second place would be the PostTrib position.  Moo presented clearly that the rapture occurs after the great tribulation.  He also showed that other positions make the end times more complex than they need to be by trying to separate Christ’s coming into different phases.  Scripture is united on the timing for Christ’s coming, each passage being complimentary to the other.  Where Moo lacked was in specifics concerning Revelation chronology, although he admitted upfront that Hultberg knew the subject better than he.  He also was vague when it came to how the Historicist viewpoint jived with other passages.  Sometimes the passage being quoted was Historicist in nature (having an ongoing fulfillment until the end of the age), but other times a passage in particular was not Historicist and Moo brought in an outside element.

In third place would be the PreTrib position.  Blaising has presented a better PreTrib outline than most others have.  He has evidence to support the Day of the LORD being an extended event, but when it came to proving that this extended event lasts seven years and is coextensive with Daniel’s 70th week, he could not make a clear case.  His detractors clearly showed that he was subtly presenting two second comings in order to have one line up with the scriptures and the other line up with his definition of imminence which leads to the PreTrib Rapture position.  Further, in Blaising’s critique of Moo, he suggests that there are two Day of the LORD complexes.  When faced with evidence that the Day of the LORD cannot begin until certain signs are fulfilled (i.e. Elijah, cosmic signs), his essential response was that the Day of the LORD complex would begin before the Day of the LORD begins.

Overall though, readers will be the ultimate winners.  Every rapture position shone forth that scripture was united on the second coming of Christ.  The Olivet Discourse passages, the Thessalonian letters, and the book of Revelation all were unanimously quoted, dissected, and presented as referring to the same second coming of Christ.  There was no attempt whatsoever on the part of any position to say that a certain book was speaking of a different second coming.  With all positions presenting such a united front, this will encourage every student of the end times to study, not just one or two end times passages, but every end times passage in the scriptures in order to be obedient to Christ’s teachings.  No matter what your rapture position, or who you believe won the debate, the result will be the same, increased study of the Word of God.  So what are we waiting for?  Let’s study God’s Word.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Evidence from Romans 9-11

The eleventh chapter in The Coming Millennial Kingdom is entitled Evidence from Romans 9-11 and is authored by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.  There were some good points in this essay, but overall I was disappointed.  I kept thinking to myself as I trudged through it, that writing like this is the reason why so many would rather read an end-times novel than actually study the Word of God and the positions that are held on eschatology.  There were a couple of times where the author stated something like, “Dr. X holds this position, Dr. Y holds this position, and Dr. Z holds this position.  So obviously Dr. Y has the correct viewpoint.”  Let me try to be upbeat about presenting how the chapter is laid out.

The author states upfront that there is no mention of the millennial kingdom in Romans 9-11.  However, these three chapters bear great weight on the issue of premillennialism.  The reason being is in order to reach an A-Millennial point of view, one has to hold a position whereby the LORD is done with the physical nation of Israel.  Johnson begins by easily proving that the use of the term “Israel”  in these chapters is the ethnic nation of Israel, not a spiritualized nation including both Jews and Gentiles.  Then there is a lengthy discussion as to exactly why Paul quotes Hosea 1:10, 2:23.  It seems that if Gentile inclusion is mentioned here, that the author feels Pre-Millennialism has lost ground.

As a Historic Premillennialist, I wonder what the big concern is.  If Paul quotes Hosea and states that Hosea wrote of Gentile salvation, is premillennialism undermined?  That’s the assumption of Johnson who wants at all costs to avoid Paul stating that Hosea was writing about the Gentiles in Romans 9:24-26.  Instead Johnson suggests that Paul was using an analogy.  Hosea is stating that the northern kingdom would one day be restored to being the people of God, so Israelites disowned and brought back is the original subject matter.  Paul is saying that Gentiles are saved just like those Israelites because of God’s sovereign purposes.  Perhaps with more acuity, Johnson further suggests that Paul’s main point is why the mass of Israelites are currently missing from God’s current plan of salvation, meaning the mention of Gentiles is only incidental.  The problem is that all of this takes eight pages of discussion as he probes differing theories amongst leading theologians. 

In the discussion, Ladd is quoted and interacted with to some extent.  I point out that while Ladd is also a Historic Premillennialist, I disagree that the new testament scriptures reinterpreted the old testament scriptures.  This is one point that many mistake that I hold when I mention my position since they know that Ladd held the same position.

The next section focuses on Romans 11:25-27 which concerns Israel’s future.  His question is a good one.  “If ethnic Israel has a future in biblical teaching, then how is it possible to deny to her a certain preeminence in the kingdom of God?”  Remember that question carefully.  He points out that Israel’s failure (that’s ethnic Israel) is not total or final.  He turns to the language of “all Israel shall be saved.”  Again, Johnson downplays the significance of Gentile inclusion into the people of God when examining the identity of Israel, as if that would undermine the identity of Israel as ethnic Israel instead of the church.  He examines the view of John Calvin who believed that the Israel of God is both Jew and Gentile, with the Jews having a place of prominence in the family of God.  But notice Johnson’s above question.  How does Calvin’s view depart from what he sets out to prove?  The only departure is that Gentiles are a part of Israel in some way, which Romans 11 clearly indicates.  Johnson wants to distance himself from Calvin’s view, even though they are not far apart. 

The main view that he adequately addresses is that of Anthony Hoekema, who believes that “all Israel” is simply the Jewish remnant saved by Gentile provocation throughout the centuries until the coming of the Lord.  So Johnson seeks to disprove that no conversion of ethnic Israel is necessary in the passage, which he does by showing that the context has consistently shown that Israel as a people group have fallen away and therefore the restoration will be a collective one, that of Israel as a people group.  This section is good and to the point, even though it is only one page out of twenty-five.

Overall, I feel that Johnson specifically downplays the significance of current Gentile salvation.  He so focuses on the term Israel as exclusively for ethnic Israelites, that he fails to see the plan of God to bless the Gentiles through Israel, although this is mentioned briefly.  If only we could concede the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s sovereign plan as being visible from the OT, then we could more clearly see how Gentile and Israelite continue together in God’s covenant plan into the age to come.  Romans 15:8-12 would have a much fuller, richer meaning for all of us.  There are other points that could be addressed, but I leave this review as it is to show how I disagree with amillennialists, but I am dissatisfied with the way most premillennialists handle certain texts.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

Posted in A-Millennialism, Eschatology, PreMillennialism | Leave a comment

Will There Be an End-Time Revival?

The quarterly publication, Watching and Waiting, put out by Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony, primarily focuses on the end times.  Sometimes there are other points of focus.  For instance, in this past issue, there was an article titled Prayer and Revival by Edwin Colley.  However, this seems to go in tandem to his other article which does focus on the end times.  With all of the speculation about whether God’s Spirit will cause a massive revival just before Christ’s second coming, it was refreshing to read a point of view that came straight from the scriptures.

Colley’s other article is titled Will There Be an End-Time Revival?  His opening comments point out that revivals may occur at any time and the end time is no exception.  Revival is the work of the Holy Spirit and we cannot be dogmatic in insisting that God will not grant revival between now and His return.  His simple answer to the question is “it may be”.

Then he examines two passages which have been used to suggest that there will be an end times revival.  Revelation 14:6-7 describes a vision that John has of an angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto the nations.  Joel 2:28-32 describes a pouring out of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with heavenly signs which portend the coming of the LORD.  Colley points out that using these to support the idea of an end time revival presupposes certain some things.  Firstly, in order for Revelation 14:6-7 to be used as support, the proclamation of the gospel must result in its acceptance by those who hear it (which the passage does not say that).  To use the Joel passage one must assume that the passage applies universally.  He will come back to this later.

His next two sections outline what the scriptures say on the state of mankind upon the Lord’s return.  He cites II Timothy 3:1-5 to show that rather than mankind becoming more holy, there will be a downgrade in behaviour.  Then there will be a worldwide falling away.  He sets forth passages from Daniel, II Thessalonians, and Revelation to show that mankind is on its way toward a world wide system of worship which will be antichrist, an antichrist person and an antichristian system.

Now he gets specific.  Will There Be a Revival Precisely When the Lord Returns?  His answer is a resounding “yes”, but he defines who is revived and when.  Colley points out that scripture shows that it is the nation of Israel that is revived.  Romans 11:15, Isaiah 66:8, Zechariah 12:10, and Zechariah 8:23 are all examined to show that the focal point of revival is the nation of Israel.  So Joel 2:28-32 should be read in the context of how it was fulfilled in the New Testament, upon believing Israelites.  He concludes by commenting that while revival is to be hoped and prayed for, we must remember that the great expectation for the saints is the personal return of the LORD Jesus Christ in glory.  Pray for revival, but watch and wait for the Son of God.

I want to add one thing to this excellent little article.  It seems in the book of Acts that the way of salvation being opened up to the Gentiles caught many Israelite believers by surprise.  They had missed the scriptures which included the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation.  We too must not miss the fact that God’s plan for the future includes the nations of the world, not just the nation of Israel.  Romans 11:15 shows that while ethnic Israel will turn back to the LORD, Israel’s decision also results in so much more for the Gentiles.  The subsequent passage then describes how the entire olive tree is holy, even branches that were grafted in later.  The point is that while national Israel is the focal point of “all Israel will be delivered”, Israel was meant to be a blessing to the Gentile nations.  So while Joel 2:28-32 initially was fulfilled amongst believing Israelites, Gentiles were later included.  Let’s not miss the fact that the coming Millennial kingdom will result in the salvation of Israel and result in blessing for the Gentile nations as well.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Where are my hands?

Brewster Rockit

I take the comics way too seriously.  One of my up and coming favorites is Brewster Rockit.  This guy is the unlikely captain of the spaceship R.U.Sirius.  He has had so many mind wipes by aliens that there’s really not a whole lot of common sense left in his brain.  I bought three copies of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind for Christmas presents.  One was for my dad (from whom I inherited my weird sense of humor), one for PN8 (also weird), and of course one for me.  I laugh hysterically at this comic.

But, sometimes I laugh hysterically when I read the Bible too.  I was reading the latest issue of Watching and Waiting, put out by Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony.  There is an article titled A Study in Psalm 76 by David Park.  I hadn’t seriously (Siriusly?) thought about Psalm 76 as it relates to the end times.  So this article led me to just read through Psalm 76 in a new light.  As I read verse 5 in the KJV, I laughed out loud.  Here it is describing how God brings judgment upon the wicked.

The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep:

and none of the men of might have found their hands.

As I read this verse there flashed in my mind an image of mighty men of war, ready to march across the world in unison, suddenly all  falling asleep just because the LORD took away their ability to stay awake.  As they woke up, they couldn’t find their hands.  They looked at each other in terror.  “Where are my hands?  I can’t find them!”  The ability to hold a gun, push a button, or use a fork was instantaneously stripped from their reservoir of knowledge all due to a failure to locate their hands.  It made me think about the sovereignty of God over such a simple piece of information such as “where are my hands”.

Other translations have rendered this along the lines of “all the men of war were unable to use their hands”, ESV.  But the word in the Hebrew literally means to find.  Perhaps what was meant was that they could not find them in order to use them for war, sort of like the phrase “find your feet”.  Even with this translation it is still very funny.  Imagine a whole group of soldiers ready to march into battle and suddenly they are unable to use their hands.  When you think about the great battle of the end, how the kings of the earth will make war against God, you have to wonder how God is going to hold back laughing out loud.  Is he going to have a little fun with them?  As they face the Creator, Messiah Jesus, is He going to make them forget where their hands are?

I just read Psalm 76:5 again.  I’m still laughing.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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Sin and Finite don’t mix

I usually do not address things like this since there are a plethora of blogs out there that do.  I want to give my perspective on hell because I feel there is one fundamental issue that many people are overlooking.  With the release of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins, there has been an explosion of reactions ranging from praise, to criticism, to cautious defence.  Many of these reactions center around the work of Christ on the cross, God’s holiness, or speculation on how exactly hell will be experienced.  These are all worthy subjects to turn to in light of the subject matter of whether all will ultimately be saved, or whether God will sentence some to eternal torment in hell or the lake of fire.

My point of view is going to come from how we view sin, including our own sinfulness.  I have not read the book and will not dignify buying it.  I have read a quote of a question he asks upon which he builds his doubts about hell.  He asks, “Does God punish people for thousands of years with infinite, eternal torment for things they did in their few finite years of life?”  What Bell is doing by phrasing the question this way is attempting to make our sin seem finite in nature and God’s punishment infinite in nature making God out to be unfair or unjust if he sentences people to hell for eternity for their sin.

The problem is that this is an unbiblical view of our sin nature.  The scriptures lay out condemnation as resulting from mankind loving darkness more than light, John 3:19.  The human race is content in darkness, in sin.  We love being in this darkness and not exposed to God’s holy light.  The reason is, if we are exposed by His light, it shows how sinful, rotten, and depraved we really are, see also Ephesians 5:13.  We don’t come to God because we don’t want to see our sin, we don’t want others to see our sin, and most of all we don’t want God to see our sin.  So all of these people living in sin, they don’t want to come to God and they don’t want God to come to them.  Will that change just because they die?

Sin is not to be viewed as certain finite actions confined to this life.  Sin is so pervasive like the ripple effects of a stone thrown into the middle of a pond.  Sexual sins bring into existence people with living souls.  Our sinful choices have results that simply cannot be confined to this life alone.  Sinful choices that I made years ago continue to produce evil fruit.  I have lied to people, stolen from them, and hurt them.  These wrongs have resulted in scars which remain to this day.  The LORD proclaimed His name to Moses in Exodus 34:5-7 showing His reaction to the ongoing consequences of sinfulness from generation to generation.  A man’s sins are not confined to his own generation, but passed on to his children, his grandchildren, and even his great grandchildren.  That’s quite a ripple effect.  Notice how Romans 5:12-14 shows that death reigns over all sin beginning from one sin at the beginning of creation.  Adam’s sin began the ripple effect for the human race in the garden of Eden.  Haggai 2:11-14 demonstrates the nature of sin by showing that everything we touch becomes defiled.

Do sinners stop sinning when they die?  Old Testament imagery for the afterlife has two graphic metaphors.  One pictures death like a gated city.  Upon death, one would enter the city with the gates locking behind never to come out again.  This metaphor is seen in Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38:10, and I would include Job 38:17, Psalm 9:13, and Psalm 107:18 in this as well.  Death is also pictured as a giant pit.  When one dies, they fall into this giant pit being completely unable to crawl out again.  Psalm 88:3-12 is probably the most graphic illustration of one personally experiencing death as a pit.  Isaiah 38:18 (Hezekiah’s prayer again), Psalm 30:2-3, 28:1, 143:7, but especially Ezekiel 32 can all be examined as well.  Ezekiel 26:19-21 contains the phrase, “I will make you to dwell in the world below… with those who go down to the pit.”

When Jesus proclaimed over and over again, Matthew 8:10-13, 13:41-42, 49-50, 22:13, 24:48-31, 25:30, 41-46, that many would be cast into the outer darkness (or fiery furnace or eternal fire) where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth, he was further explaining the nature of life after death.  This was not the cessation of human existence, but the beginning of their eternal destiny.  Weeping and gnashing of teeth shows a conscious, ongoing existence whereby they would spend their time apart from God weeping over and over again.  In Mark 9:42-50 Jesus is echoing Isaiah 66:24 to show an ongoing existence whereby sinners will receive ongoing punishment in flames that will not be extinguished and where life would not cease.  The eternal nature of our sinfulness demands an eternal punishment.

A failure to see our sinfulness as God sees it will result in views like those of Rob Bell.  How does God view our sins?  Jesus told a parable in Matthew 18:23-35.  The debt accrued was ten thousand talents.  A talent was a year’s wage.  This servant had amassed a debt so great that it could not be paid back in 100 lifetimes.  His cry for mercy was, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”  How laughable!  There was no way the king would believe this wicked servant.  The servant’s only hope was that the king would be merciful and simply forgive the debt.  It was impossible that this man could pay the debt.  In the absence of mercy, the debt would have to be paid with the very life of the individual.

Our view of our own sin will lead to either a small love for the Saviour or a great love for the Saviour.  If you view your sin as some finite thing confined to this life only, your love for Christ will be small.  If you see your sin as something so deplorable that will go on for all eternity, then you will begin to understand the great price that Jesus paid on Calvary.  Luke 7:36-50 tells of two people who encountered Christ.  The sinful woman understood her sinful condition.  The Pharisee had a limited view to his sin, therefore his love for Jesus was quite small.  When we really understand how unpayable the debt, how unfathomable the depth of depravity, how eternal the sin nature within, then we begin to experience a great love for our Saviour.

In case you missed it, Rob Bell has a false premise.  The false premise is trying to depict sin as something finite and confined to this life.  It doesn’t stop at death.  Sin goes on for eternity.  Eternal consequences demand eternal punishment.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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