Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is Dispenationalism Anti-Semitic?

From "Anti-Semitism and Dispensationalism"
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Dispensationalists have a strong commitment to Israel at all costs. Their commitment to Israel is so all-controlling that they even posit a millennial age in which Israel will dominate all other nations—reducing even to the lowest level those nations committed to Christ during that time. Herman Hoyt, past president of Grace Theological Seminary writes:
“The redeemed living nation of Israel, regenerated and regathered to the land will be head over all the nations of the earth. . . . So he exalts them above the Gentile nations. . . . On the lowest level there are the saved, living, Gentile nations.” (Herman Hoyt, “Dispensational Premillennialism,” in Robert G. Clouse, The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views [Downer’s Grove, Ill: Inter-varsity Press, 1977], 81).
This is, of course, a form of racism (race determines priority) and even could be described as “anti-Gentilism” (race determines exclusion).

Yet, they deem as anti-Semitic any eschatological view that applies Israel’s covenant promises to the church and sees the church as the final phase in God’s redemptive dealings with man. Hal Lindsey even wrote a whole book on the subject titled, The Road to Holocaust. In their view non-Dispensational theology is not only biblically deficient but morally corrupt.

For instance, Tim LaHaye associate, Thomas Ice, has written that “historically replacement theology (the church replaces the Jews as the new or true Israel, and Israel has no future as a distinct nation within God’s plan) has been the theological foundation upon which anti-Semitism has been built within the confines of Christianity. (Ice, “Hal Lindsey, Dominion Theology, and Anti-Semitism,” Biblical Perspectives, 5:1 [Jan.-Feb., 1992], p. 2).

Their moral charges against non-Dispensational theological systems fail miserably for two significant reasons (among several dozen more):

First, Dispensationalism inadvertently involves the New Testament itself in anti-Semitism. How so?

They frequently cite the standard academic works on anti-Semitism that link “replacement theology,” “supersessionism,” or “church fulfillment theology” with this sinful form of racism in history. Sadly, they do not carefully read those academic works which they so excitedly quote. These books invariably trace anti-Semitism back to the New Testament itself! We see this in the following titles of books and academic articles:
  • Gregory Baum, Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic? A Re-examination of the New Testament. Rev. ed. Glen Rock, N.J.: Deus, 1965.
  • Norman A. Beck, Mature Christianity in the 21st Century: The Recognition and Repudiation of the Anti-Jewish Polemic of the New Testament (Rev. ed.: New York: Crossroad, 1994).
  • John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti -Semitism in the Gospel Story (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).
  • Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew: Twenty Centuries of Anti-Semitism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992).
  • T. A. Burkill, “Anti-Semitism in St. Mark’s Gospel,” New Testament 3 (1959): 34–52.
  • W. R. Farmer, Anti-Judaism and the Gospels (Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity, 1999).
  • Riemund Bieringer, Didier Pollefeyt, and Frederique Vandecasteele, eds., Anti–Judaism and the Fourth Gospel (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox, 2001).
  • L. T. Johnson, “The New Testament’s Anti-Jewish Slander and the Conventions of Ancient Polemic,” Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989): 419–41.
  • R. R. Ruether, Is the New Testament AntiSemitic? (2d. ed.: Glen Rock: N. J.: Paulist, 1965).
Such works argue that Christianity’s claim that Christ is the only way of salvation—and even that he is the Jewish Messiah, are anti-Semitic and must be removed from Scripture!

Second, to make matters worse: Dispensationalism ends up encouraging current-day actions that will (they admit!) lead to a wholesale slaughter of the Jews. What do I mean?

Dispensationalists delight in Israel’s 1948 re-establishment as a nation. They rejoice in the great number of Jews who have already and will yet return to Israel. They gladly encourage modern Israeli policies that draw Jews back into the Land. They excitedly look for the rebuilding of the Jewish temple—by Jews who have returned to the land of Israel.

For instance, The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible exults: “the regathering of a people once scattered among the nations of the world is evidenced that God is at work in fulfilling His prophetic word” (p. 1080). On the same page it continues: “the most exciting, documented evidence that the Lord’s return could be close at hand is the activity surrounding preparations for the rebuilding of the temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”

Another book focusing on the rebuilding of the temple does the same. Don Stewart and Chuck Missler dedicate their book, The Coming Temple (1991): “To our wonderful friends in Israel this book is lovingly dedicated.” In still another work Ready to Rebuild (1992) on p. 25 we read: “Today many Christians are excited about the very real potential for the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem.”

But even while encouraging Jews to return to Israel, Dispensationalists teach that “Zechariah predicts that two-thirds of the Jewish people in the land will perish during the Tribulation period.” (LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, 1101). John Walvoord, in his Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (1990, p. 332) states of Zechariah 14:8–9: “This prophecy will be fulfilled in the Great Tribulation when two out of three of the Jews in the land attempt to flee their persecutor, the future world leader, will perish, and only one-third will escape.”

Should they not be warning Jews not to return to Israel? Would not it be more wise and compassionate to warn Jews what will befall them after they return?

Dispensationalism is trapped in a Catch-22: On their theological view of Israel and their eschatological view of history, they must encourage Jews to return to Israel. But on their exegetical understanding of prophecy, they know that after they have returned, fully two-thirds of them will be destroyed. This should be deemed a form of anti-Semitism!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 6

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Dispensationalism’s Manifest Error
Paul will have nothing of this. His words in Ephesians 3 are being distorted so greatly that they are made to state the very opposite of what he intended. Let us see how this is so. Let us see how this Ephesians road leads the thinking Christian out of Dispensationalism.

Paul’s full statement in Ephesians 3:1–10 reads as follows:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Paul certainly states that “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery.” We are clearly dealing with a biblical mystery, and one that was especially revealed to Paul. But notice what he actually says:
  1. The “sons of men.” Paul states that “in other generations [it] was not made known to the sons of men” (Eph 3:5a). By “sons of men [Gk.: huiois ton anthropon]” Paul is referring broadly to all men, especially those outside of Israel, the Gentiles. He uses the phrase that often appears in the Old Testament to refer to men generically, the wider human race.

    David uses this phrase in Psalm 14:2 in speaking of the fool who says there is no God and who works wickedness in order to “eat up my people” (Psa 14:4). We see this generic usage also in Psalm 21:10; 31:19; etc. Indeed, the psalmist declares that “the Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men” (Psa 33:19; cp. 53:2; Jer 32:19). Even when he uses the term inclusively as including Israel, it is because Israel is a part of the whole human race. Ecclesiastes frequently employs the phrase generically (Eccl 1:13; 2:3; 3:10, 18–19; 8:11; 9:3, 12). Daniel 2:38 agrees.

    Thus, Paul is teaching that the human race outside of Israel as such did not know the blessings God had in store for them. Paul has been commissioned to take this news to them: “of which I was made a minister’ according to the gift of God’s grace” (Eph 3:7). We must remember that he was appointed as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 1:5; 11:13; Gal 2:8; Eph 3:5–6; 1 Tim 2:7).
  2. As it has now been revealed.” Paul continues by adding: “as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Eph 3:5b). The word “as” (hos) is a comparative. That is, this revelation was not revealed during the Old Testament era to the greater degree as it is now revealed in the New Testament. He is comparing the revelation of the mystery in the Old Testament to its fuller revelation in the New Testament. Thus, the earlier revelation was not to the same degree as that which “has now been revealed to his Holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.” We must not overlook the comparative.
  3. Paul’s statement elsewhere. In fact, we know he is speaking comparatively, not only because he uses the word hos, but because of what he states at the end of Romans. In Romans 16:25–27 we read:
    Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
Note that in this passage he clearly declares that this mystery “now is manifested,” but then immediately adds: “and by the Scriptures of the prophets.” Here he speaks of the Old Testament Scripture for he opens Romans by a similar expression. At Romans 1:2 he speaks of the promise “beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,”, which definitely refers to the Old Testament Scriptures. Indeed, all through Romans he refers to the Old Testament as “the Scripture[s]” (Rom 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; 15:4), just as he does elsewhere (1 Cor 15:3–4; Gal 3:8, 22; 4:30; 1 Tim 5:18).

Thus, this “mystery” is a revelation of God that cannot be accessed by man’s unaided wisdom. But it appeared before in the Old Testament Scriptures, though it is now made more central and clear in the New Testament. In fact, Paul even adds in Romans 16:26b that this “has been made known to all the nations.” So then, this mystery is no longer confined to Israel in her covenantal Scriptures, but is now being proclaimed to all the nations.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 5

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The Rebuilt Temple and Ephesians
We have been seeing that Paul is not a Dispensationalist. What is more, we have noted that his letter to the Ephesians serves as a blatant, point-for-point rebuttal to Dispensationalism. Let us now consider Paul’s understanding of the rebuilt temple.

Paul is a blatant spiritualizer, according to the Dispensational system. For in Ephesians 2:19–22 he states:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The Apostle certainly believes in a rebuilt temple, but not one built of stone. He sees “the whole building” as currently in his day already “being fitted together” and “growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” He allows this despite the fact that the earthly temple is still standing as he writes. And despite the fact that the millennium still lies off in the distance (already almost 2000 years distant, at least). Remember: the prophecies of the glorious, rebuilt temple refer to the millennial temple, not the tribulation temple because “the tribulation temple will be built by unbelieving Jews . . . [whereas] the millennial temple will be built by the Messiah (Zech. 6:12–13) and redeemed Jews” (Dictionary of Premillenial Theology, p.404).

To make matters worse, Paul sees the rebuilt temple in spiritual terms because it is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” with “Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.” And the current and ongoing building process involves Christians themselves as the building stones for “you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” This is why Jesus could inform the Samaritan woman: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. . . But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:21, 23). And Jesus presents this “coming” hour as a permanent, final reality not to be withdrawn as a new order of localized, physical temple worship is re-instituted.

This is no stray statement by Paul: he returns to this theme time-and-again. We read of his conception of the spiritual temple in the following verses:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Cor 3:16–17)
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will Dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (2 Cor 6:16).
The third sample in 2 Corinthians 6:16 is important because it specially applies Old Testament prophecy to the New Testament spiritual temple. Notice how Paul argues: “We are the temple of the living; just as God said, ‘I will Dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” The Old Testament backdrop to this “just as God said” statement is Ezekiel 37:27: “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

What is remarkable about all of this is that Paul takes this statement from Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s dry bones coming back to life. Thus, Paul commits two hermeneutic sins: (1) he applies a prophecy regarding Israel to the church and (2) he spiritualizes God’s prophetic dwelling, applying it to God’s spiritual indwelling of his people, rather than God’s building a new temple.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 4

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Israel’s Promises and Jesus’ Church
Now let us move on in our study of Paul’s anti-Dispensational polemic. Actually, let us back up. In my last blog I worked my way through Ephesians 2:19. I will now return to Ephesians 2:11–12 to demonstrate the unthinkable: Paul applies to the new covenant church the old covenant promises given to Israel. This single theological truth absolutely destroys Dispensationalism.

In the Dispensational view, Paul failed to “rightly divide the word of truth.” He foolishly read the Old Testament in the light of the interpretive teaching of Jesus and his divinely-inspired apostles. He should have continued reading the Old Testament as if Jesus had never come and had never rebuked the Jews for misinterpreting Scripture (Matt 22:29; Mark 12:24; Luke 25–27; John 5:39). He should have not depended on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to assist him in understanding the Scriptures. Dispensationalists even argue that he committed a hermeneutic stumble when he wrote in Ephesians “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17; cp. John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 2:16–18; Rom 7:6; 8:5; 1 Cor 2:10–15; 2 Cor 3:6; Col 1:9; 2 Pet 1:21).

One of the classic problems Dispensationalism has created for itself revolves around the new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31–34 speaks of a new covenant that will supersede (uh oh!) the old covenant: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord.

Unfortunately for Dispensationalism and their flawed hermeneutic, Jeremiah’s prophecy states that this new covenant will be made “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Given their random, only-when-needed-to-save-the-system literalism, the Dispensational system forbids the establishing of the new covenant with any other people group than Israel. This has generated intense debate within Dispensationalism, leading to their proposing four different approaches to Jeremiah’s rather simple prophecy. Apparently, this is their favored way of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Indeed, they actually read that text as: “rightly dividing over the word of truth,” that is, they divide themselves up into warring camps while deconstructing biblical texts.

The problem for Dispensationalism arises from Jesus’ own teaching. The Lord clearly establishes this new covenant when he ordains the Lord’s Supper as one of the two sacraments for his new covenant church: “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’” (Luke 22:20; cp. 1 Cor 11:25). What Jesus is effectively doing is declaring a “new Israel”: the new covenant church.

In my last blog I noted that Paul saw Jew and Gentile merged — permanently — in one body, the church (Eph 2:11–19). Now I would note that in the early part of that text he teaches that this new, merged body — the church — receives the Old Testament promises given to Israel. Consider Paul’s statement to these Gentile Christians: “remember that you were at that time [before your conversion] separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).

What is happening here? Paul is speaking of matters involving “the commonwealth of Israel.” He is declaring that before these Gentiles came to Christ they were “strangers to the covenants of promise.” This necessarily means that now that they have come to Christ they are no longer strangers to the covenants of promise. That is, they are now recipients of “the covenants of promise,” which include the distinctive Abrahamic Covenant with Israel (Gal 3:16–18). After all, he goes on to say that though they were “at that time” (Eph 2:12) excluded and strangers they now “have been brought bear by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13) and that Christ “broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” that separated Jew and Gentile (Eph 2:14).

Thus, if Gentiles are no longer “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel,” if Gentiles are no longer “strangers to the covenants of promise,” if Gentiles “have been brought near,” if Jew and Gentile are merged into one body , and if that which distinguishes Jew and Gentile has been “broken down” (the “dividing wall”), then by parity of reasoning: the Gentiles receive the promises given to Israel. How can it be otherwise? The two are now one, so that the promises to the old covenant people belong to the new covenant people who have been merged with them.

Is this not demanded by Christ’s own establishing of the Lord’s Supper as the new covenant sacrament for his church? Was not Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom 1:5; 11:13; Gal 2:8; 1 Tim 2:7), a promoter of the new covenant, calling himself a “servant of the new covenant” (2 Cor 3:6)? Did he not explain the new covenant sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to the church at Corinth (1 Cor 11:23–25ff) — which he received from the Lord himself (1 Cor 11:23a)?

Of course, the application of Jewish promises and prophecies is abundantly taught throughout the New Testament (which is why Dispensationalists want to interpret the Old Testament alone, as if Christ had not come). But our interest is here in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. This apostle to the Gentiles includes Christian Gentiles among the members of “the commonwealth of Israel” and under “the covenants of promise.” Thus, he sees the church as the recipient of the old covenant promises and prophecies.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 3

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The Jew and Gentile Merger
The leading classic Dispensationalist scholar of the last fifty years is Charles C. Ryrie. On p. 39 in his important 1995 work Dispensationalism he reiterates his 1966 observation from the book’s first edition: “A Dispensationalist keeps Israel and the church distinct.” According to Ryrie: “A. C. Gaebelein stated it in terms of the difference between the Jews, the Gentiles, and the church of God.” He then states rather dogmatically (and self-destructively): “This is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a person is a Dispensationalist.”

In introducing the sine qua non of Dispensationalism (p. 38) he discounts three issues that some might consider essential. He notes that “distinguishably different economies [in God’s] governing the affairs of the world” is not distinctive — despite the system’s name “Dispensationalism.” He then points out more narrowly that even “the number of dispensations” is not a fundamental issue — despite the dominant affirmation among Dispensationalists of seven distinct dispensations. He finally denies that “the issue of premillennialism” is determinative of Dispensationalism.

When he finally comes to stating the sine qua non he begins with the Israel / church distinction. This is a fatal admission, for it contradicts the clear New Testament revelation and destroys the flow of redemptive history. Let us see how this is so.

We must note two aspects of the matter that come back to haunt the system. In Dispensationalism’s two-peoples-of-God theology they must hold that God (1) distinguishes Jew and Gentile and (2) that he does so permanently (at least in history, though many carry the distinction into eternity). How are these observations fatal to the system? And in light of our study in Ephesians, how do we see that problem in Paul’s epistle?

We must first ask the question regarding the Dispensationalist’s assumption: Who makes up the people known as “Israel”? The obvious answer is “Jews,” the genetic offspring of Abraham. But then the question arises in the debate: Does God establish a new entity in redemptive-history which also includes Jews? The answer is: Yes. The church of Jesus Christ. In fact, it was established in the very context and on the foundation of Israel.

Indeed, Paul notes very clearly and forcefully that God merges Jew and Gentile into one body, which we now call the church. He even encourages the Gentiles with the knowledge that they are now included among God’s people and are partakers of their blessings. They are not separate and distinct from Israel but are adopted into her. Note Ephesians 2:11–19:
Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.
Note very carefully what Paul states and how it contradicts the notion of a distinction between Jew and Gentile, between Israel and the church:
  1. Paul states that the Gentiles were “formerly . . . at that time . . . excluded from the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph 2:12). This is an observation about their past condition.
  2. He argues that the Gentiles were “formerly . . . at that time . . . strangers to the covenants of promise” (plural covenants / singular promise). This is an observation about their past condition.
  3. He reiterates the Gentiles’ former condition that has now been changed: “But now in Christ you who formerly were far off have been brought near” (Eph 2:19). This is their new experience and condition.
  4. He resolutely declares that Christ has effected “peace” in that he “made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Eph 2:14). This is their new experience and condition.
  5. He restates this once again by noting that Christ made “the two into one new man, thus establishing peace” (Eph 2:15). This is their new experience and condition.
  6. He will not leave the matter alone, for he recasts this very thought noting that Christ determined to “reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” This is their new experience and condition.
  7. He refuses to cave to the Jews and dispensationalists of his day by insisting that Christ “came and preached peace to you [Gentiles] who were far away” (Eph 2:17). This is their new experience and condition.
  8. He comes dangerously close to becoming a classic bore when he states still again that “through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph 2:18). This is their new experience and condition.
  9. He risks never being able to enroll in Dallas Theological Seminary by absolutely and positively refusing to cease and desist as he becomes stuck in a groove like a broken record (Or to update this cliche: like a CD with a child’s candy-sticky fingerprint on it. I don’t think this will ever catch on though. We are stuck with the older cliche. But as a writer I hold the rule: “Avoid cliches like the plague.” So let’s forget this whole cliche enterprise and move on): “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens” (Eph 2:19). This is their new experience and condition.
  10. He risks becoming an absolute and detestable bore at rapture parties by droning interminably: “but you are fellow citizens with the saints [obviously the Jews], and are of God’s [singular] household” (Eph 2:19). This is their new experience and condition.
  11. When will it all end? Can we never rapture out of this endless loop-cycle? Paul states once again that the Gentiles are a part of “the [singular] whole building, being fitted together” and “are being built together” (Eph 2:21). This is their new experience and condition.
How many different ways can the denial of a distinction between Jew and Gentile be stated? I am exhausted in laboring through this repetitive passage. Paul’s theology has absolutely no place for the first sine qua non of Dispensationalism. And remember: sine qua non means “without which [there is] nothing.” That is, “without this element there is no system.” Though it is an essential definitive precondition for Dispensationalism, Paul will not allow it to stand.

Elsewhere Paul claims to be a “master builder” who is intent on laying “a foundation” (1 Cor 3:10). But here he becomes a one man wrecking crew. He has removed Dispensationalism’s chief cornerstone. Like Jesus commanding Lazarus’ friends to “remove the stone” (John 11:39), Paul single-handedly removes this foundation stone. It is almost as if Paul were demanding: “raze it, raze it, to its very foundation” (Psa 137:7). Dispensationalism is not built upon a rock but upon sand. But “if the foundations are destroyed what can the rapturists do"?

But this represents only my first complaint about the matter before us. There is still another. If you read the passage carefully (I dare say you could even read the passage recklessly — even left-handedly — and come to the same conclusion) you will note that the whole tenor of Paul’s theological observation is that: Jew and Gentile have been merged into one body forever. There is absolutely nothing in the passage that hints at or even will allow that this union into one new body is temporary. Everything about the passage demands that this merger be permanent.

Read it again and try to find any intimation that this merger of Jew and Gentile is just temporary until the Rapture or the millennium or whatever. You will find nothing that leads to that conclusion and everything that militates against it:
Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s [singular] household.
Christ did not preach a temporary “truce” between Jew and Gentile, but a permanent “peace.” He did not suspend the enmity between Jew and Gentile for awhile but “put to death the enmity.” He did not bring the two peoples together for a time (nor even for a time, times, and half a time) but he permanently created a new man. Dispensationalism’s theology requires that ultimately we must separate what God has joined together. It allows the rebuilding of the dividing wall.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 2

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

We Presently Rule with Christ
To add insult to injury, Paul continues his anti-Dispensational diatribe in his little missive. His next step transforms Ephesians into Dispensationalism’s right strawy epistle. The heck with James! Dispensationalists find Ephesians quite a bit more strawy because immediately after affirming Christ’s first-century enthronement he takes the next logical step. He declares that all those who believe in Christ (beginning in the first century) are enthroned with Christ! All the hopes of ruling over cities during a future millennium are destroyed in this maneuver. How dare he! But alas, there it is in black and white (unless you have a red-letter edition of the Bible, in which case it would appear in black and white and red).

Note once again the clarity of Paul’s theology:
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6).

And where had Paul just stated that Christ was seated? According to Ephesians 1:20–21 God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.” He is at God’s right hand ruling over all.

Say it ain’t so! According to the plain-and-simple method of literal interpretation our enthronement must wait until after the second coming of Christ in the rapture, the resurrection of believers, the conversion of the Jews, the building of the temple in Jerusalem, the unveiling of Antichrist, the outbreak of the Great Tribulation, the destruction of two-thirds of the Jewish race, the arising of the beast, the formulation of the revived Roman Empire, the imposing of the mark of the beast for buying and selling, the third coming of Christ at the second advent, the battle of Armageddon, the sanctification of temple for millennial use, and the establishment of the global Department of Redundancy Department.

Why does Paul speak in the past tense by using the aorist verbal forms of “raised” and “seated”? Ah! Perhaps these are aorist futures which really mean he will in the future raise us and seat us! Why does he teach that Christians in the first century are already enthroned with Christ, that is, that they are already ruling and reigning with him in his kingdom? Paul is surely not rightly dividing the word of truth. He has mixed dispensations. He is not interpreting literally. He has strayed from Scofield’s notes. Perhaps this is proof for a late-date for Revelation! Paul obviously did not have verse 4 of Revelation 20 to guide him in his entire eschatological and theological understanding.

Or has Paul missed the mark? Maybe it is the late-blooming (1830) Dispensational construct that is mistaken. Maybe Paul knew exactly what he was talking about. Maybe we as Christians are already enthroned with Christ.

Indeed, may I be so bold as to suggest that maybe he, Peter, and John actually know the truth? After all, Peter calls first-century Christians a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet 2:9), i.e., a kingdom of priests. And even John, long before he speaks of the millennium (which occurs in only one chapter in all of the Bible, which happens also to be its most difficult book) and our reigning with Christ as kings and priests (Rev 20:6), states in the past tense: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (Rev 1:6).

To make matters worse, Paul even mentions the celebration of Christ’s enthronement in Ephesians 4. He speaks of his enthronement in terms reflecting a formal Roman triumph where the conquering ruler returns to his capital and divides the spoil with his jubilant citizens. In Ephesians 4:8 Paul states regarding the heavenly-enthroned Christ: “When He ascended on high, / He led captive a host of captives, / And He gave gifts to men.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Ephesians Road, Part 1

aka The Ephesians Road Out of Dispensationalism
by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Christ is Now King
Dispensationalism holds that Christ came in the first century to offer an earthly-political kingdom to Israel, but that she rejected it. Consequently, Christ withdrew his kingdom offer, postponed his kingdom, and then established the Church as a stop-gap until the Jews are converted later. At that time they will be ready to accept him as king so that the millennium may be established. Dispensationalists argue vehemently that Christ is not now reigning as king.

However, Paul contradicts this (unusual) Dispensational doctrine. In Ephesians 1:20–23 he declares: “He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

Several enormous problems present themselves to Dispensationalism’s postponed kingdom view, showing that Christ is as a matter of fact now enthroned as king.

First, we see quite clearly that Jesus in fact has already been seated at God’s right hand in heaven. This being “seated” (aorist participle signifying a past reality) at “God’s right hand” obviously speaks of his being seated at God’s throne in heaven. After all, Jesus himself declares elsewhere that he “sat down with My Father on his throne” (cp. Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Heb 8:1; 1 Pet 3:22).

In fact, when he was being tried by the rulers of Israel they asked him if he was the Christ. He chastised them for not believing him in this regard (Luke 22:66–78). He then warned them that he was soon to be seated with God in heaven: “But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). No postponement theory here: in the very context of Israel’s formal, official, and final rejection of him he declared that he would be “seated at the right hand of the power of God” despite their rejection.

Second, we further learn that his throne is in heaven and not on the earth. This contradicts a fundamental of Dispensationalism’s premillennial scheme. The Messianic throne is not a literal throne on earth, it is a spiritual reality in heaven. Thus, his reign does not involve political and bureaucratic rule. Rather, it is a spiritual-redemptive reality. The earthly kingship of Christ is absolutely denied by Paul.

Third, this enthronement in Ephesians gives Christ authority “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.” Indeed, God “put all things in subjection under His feet.” This is as high an authority as is possible. What would be the point of his coming to the earth to rule in a literal millennium? He is the ruler of all things now. Why would he come to rule in Jerusalem in a millennium? Why would he leave his heavenly throne where he rules universally to return to his earthly footstool to rule locally (Isa 66:1; Matt 5:35; Acts 7:49)?

Fourth, in fact, Paul says that Christ’s rule continues “not only in this age [right now!], but also in the one to come.” If Dispensationalists claim that Christ is not now ruling, then what is Paul talking about? Paul sees Christ’s current function at the right hand of God as not only present now, but as continuing into the future age which lies beyond the present age. Put in the best possible light for Dispensationalism, they should argue that his kingship takes a new form in the millennium. But their peculiar system construct will not allow this. In their view, Christ’s kingdom was presented, rejected, and postponed. He is not now in any way reigning as king. According to their system requirements Paul is simply mistaken.

Fifth, this kingly rule of Christ is related “to the church.” And this church is “His body.” But the church is the very redemptive-historical institution that Dispensationalism distinguishes from Israel — and therefore from the millennial kingdom. In fact, in their dispensational structuring of history, the present age is the Church Age, which is to be followed by (and distinguished from) the Kingdom Age (the millennium). Indeed, one of Dispensationalism’s sine qua non is the permanent distinction between Israel and the church.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Events of the 'Last Day'

When is the "last day"? What happens on this day? Does the Bible give us any information with regard to it? It sure does! Let us begin by first looking at several passages that speak of the "last day." Then we will move into some other information to help round out our study on the "last day."

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day. … No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. … He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37-40, 44, 54).

Whenever the “last day” is, four times in this passage Jesus states that He will raise the righteous to life on that day. Could this be the day in which the "Rapture" takes place? We will soon find out. In John 11:24, Martha acknowledges that Lazarus would be raised up on the “last day.” So we definitely know that there is a resurrection that takes place at this point in time.

John 12:44-50 says, “And Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me. I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.’” According to this passage, judgment also takes place on the “last day.” Resurrection unto eternal life for the righteous, and condemning judgment for the wicked. The “last day” also seems to include blessings and curses. Sounds an awful lot like Matthew 25:31-46:
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ … Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’”
Job 14:12 says that man will be resurrected when “the heavens be no more.” Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away…but of that day…no one knows…but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:25-26, emphasis supplied). In 2 Peter 3:10-12, Peter states that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (emphasis supplied). This is exciting, brothers and sisters. We learned above that the resurrection takes place on the “last day,” but we were not sure when that day was. Here, we are told that man will be resurrected when the heavens and Earth pass away. Further, we are told that “the day of the Lord” brings the passing of the heavens and Earth. Are you starting to see the picture clearly? I am!

The day of the Lord is a singular event referred to as “that day” and the “last day.” The day of the Lord is that day wherein Jesus Christ returns like a thief (Matt. 24:37-44; Luke 12:36-40; 1 Thess. 5:1-4; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 16:15), both the righteous and wicked dead are raised (Job 14:12; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; 6:38-40, 44-45, 54; 11:24; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:22-24), all men and nations are judged (Matt. 25:31-46; John 12:44-50), receiving blessings (Isa. 4:2-6; 30:26; Hos. 2:18-23; Joel 3:9-21; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:6-8; Zeph. 2:7; Zech. 14:6-9; 2 Tim. 1:12, 16-18; 4:7-8) or curses (Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zech. 1:14-15; Matt. 7:21-23; 24:35-39; Luke 10:8-12; 2 Thess. 1:9-10; John 12:44-50), and the heavens and Earth are destroyed (Job 14:12; Matt. 24:25-26; 2 Pet. 3:10-12).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Was the Kingdom Postponed?

Was Jesus a failure? According to Dispensationalists, He was. They claim that because the Jews rejected Him He had to postpone the kingdom until a later date. But is this what Scripture teaches us?

At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, He announced, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). What time is He referring to? For the good student of the Word the answer is simple. Daniel had predicted four empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then, "in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom" (Dan. 2:44). In the days of which kings? In the days of the Roman kings. Jesus later said, "There are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of god after it has come with power" (Mark 9:1). When the Pharisees asked Jesus about this kingdom, He stated clearly to them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed" and "behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst" (Luke 17:20-21). He said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).

John MacArthur deliberately makes a big deal out of the use of the word "immediately" in Matthew 24:29, but he fails to make a big deal out of the words spoken in Mark 9:1 and Matthew 24:34 (among others). If these things are yet future, as Dispensationalists teach, then there must be a group of first century individuals still walking around today waiting for the fulfillment thereof. MacArthur makes a big deal out of the word "immediately" because it lends to his preferred beliefs. Every other passage that is clear on what it says, such as the two listed above, he will deliberately try to obscure or overlook entirely. This is poor treatment of the Scriptures, despite his claim to expositorily teach the Bible verse by verse.

Clearly, God's kingdom was set up during the first century, and it was not set up the way that Pharisees and Dispensationalists were thinking. It was a spiritual kingdom--not a physical kingdom. Daniel pretty much put the nail in the coffin on that issue when he said, "a kingdom which will never be destroyed" (Dan. 2:44). A physical kingdom can be destroyed, and that is precisely what Pre-Millennialism does by claiming a future millennium wherein those redeemed by God rebel against Him once more. Such teachings find no place in Scripture, let alone any support. Dispensationalists would do well to read and study their Bibles very carefully, rather than chewing on previously regurgitated nonsense that they've been spoon-fed to believe from their favourite ear-tickling false teachers.

If Jesus' plan was to set up an earthly kingdom like David's, He would have had armies of mighty men helping to make it a reality. But He clearly told Pilate, "If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36). Clearly, it was from the spiritual realm. Paul tells the Colossians that God has "transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13). This kingdom was set up during the first century and we are part of that kingdom today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Matthew 24

Jesus' Eschatological Warnings To His Followers
  1. Jesus' description of what would happen to "these things"—the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. along with the destruction of the Jewish nation, which it implies (Matthew 24:1-2).
  2. The disciples' questions to Jesus with regard to "when will these things (the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. along with the Jewish nation) happen" and "what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age" (Matthew 24:3).
  3. Jesus' response to the disciples (Matthew 24:4-51), which actually continues through chapter 25 with warnings through parables of how we ought to live in light of the fact that we do not know when the "end of the age" will be.
    1. Jesus' answer to their second question—"what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"—consisting of a description of the trials, tribulations, and deceptions from the present time (the First Advent) to the "end of the age" marked by Jesus' return (the Second Advent) (Matthew 24:4-31). The trials, tribulations, and deceptions are all a sign of Jesus' eventual return, for Jesus must return to right these wrongs and injustices and to clean up what is rightfully His. In addition, they are a sign because events actually come to pass as Jesus prophesied, proving that He should be trusted when he says He will return.
      1. Jesus' description of the trials, tribulations, and deceptions—along with the spread of the gospel—from the present time (the First Advent) to the end of the age (the Second Advent), and His warnings to His people in light of the dangers of false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:4-14).
      2. Jesus' parenthetical description of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the pronounced tribulations which will accompany it (Matthew 24:15-22). This would suggest that even the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. should be regarded as a sign to Jesus' people that He will eventually return and render justice, just as judgment was herein rendered upon the Jewish nation that had rejected Him. It may also serve as a pre-figurement of Satan's "last stand" around the beloved city described in Revelation 20:9.
      3. Jesus' warnings resumed with regard to deceivers and false Christs and false prophets that will arise from the time of the First Advent up until the time of Jesus' Second Advent (Matthew 24:23-28). Jesus' description of His actual coming and of the end of the age (Matthew 29-31). The end of the age is marked by Jesus' literal return. The form of the disciples' question implies they understood the end to be marked by Jesus' coming, and Jesus confirms by His response that the end of the age will be marked by His coming.
    2. Jesus' answer to their first question—"when will these things happen?" (the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.) (Matthew 24:32-35). "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." By this expression Jesus confirms the truth of what he had said, showing that the truth of what he said will not fail.
    3. Jesus' clarification that we should not confound "that day" (i.e., the end of the age marked by Jesus' coming) with the "these things" referred to in verse 34 (see 2 Thess. 2:2). We can know that these things (the destruction of the Temple) shall be in the Apostle's generation, but of "that day" (the end of the age marked by Jesus' coming) no man knows when it shall be, so men must always be ready and live in preparation for it (Matthew 24:36-51). Verses 34 through 41 are clear as to what Jesus' coming will be like. It will not be like the days of Enoch or the days of Elijah, but like the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jacob's Trouble

We mentioned the fact that “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer. 30:7) refers to the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. Dispensationalists claim Jacob’s Trouble is the 7-year Great Tribulation. Note the vast difference here: 7 years versus 70 years. So, brothers and sisters, let us look at the evidence provided by Scripture. “‘And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation’” (Jer. 25:11-12, emphasis supplied). Which land is Jeremiah referring to here? That is right; Israel. “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place’” (Jer. 29:10, emphasis supplied). Which place will they be brought back to? That is right; Israel.

For he has sent to us in Babylon, saying, ‘The exile will be long; build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat their produce’” (Jer. 29:28, emphasis supplied). What is the setting of this verse? For those who are honest and do not feel a compelling need to twist the words of Scripture, the setting here has to do with the Babylonian captivity. “Send to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite, “Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, although I did not send him, and he has made you trust in a lie”’” (Jer. 29:31, emphasis supplied). With this verse, there is no denying that it, as well as verse 28, refers to the Babylonian captivity. Are we to believe that between this verse and the first seven verses of chapter 30 there exists a substantial gap in time? I do not be thinking so.
The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,” Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. For, behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will restore the [captivity] of My people Israel and Judah.’ The LORD says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’” Now these are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, “For thus says the LORD, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, of dread, and there is no peace. Ask now, and see, if a male can give birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob's distress, But he will be saved from it. And it shall come about on that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds; and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them’”
(Jeremiah 30:1-9, emphasis supplied.)
The word “behold” means “to pay attention.” My Dispensationalist friend, you would do well to do precisely that. Notice very carefully that verse 3 says He will restore the captivity of His people and bring them back to the land. They are in captivity. The setting has not changed. Notice verse 8. Whose yoke shall He break from off their necks? Nebuchadnezzar’s: “‘And it will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence,’ declares the LORD, ‘until I have destroyed it by his hand’” (Jer. 27:8, emphasis supplied). Notice also what verse 10 of chapter 30 says, “‘And fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the LORD, ‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, And no one shall make him afraid’” (emphasis supplied). The time of Jacob’s Trouble is the 70 years of Babylonian captivity—not this imaginary 7-year “Great Tribulation” the Dispensationalists have dreamed up. “The time of Jacob’s Trouble” is not something in the future; it is something already fulfilled. It was speaking of the Babylonian captivity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 'Great' Tribulation, Part 2

Continued from last...
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” … And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?” And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 7:9-10, 13-14, emphasis supplied)
The NASB adds “the” before “great tribulation,” which is unwarranted by a literal rendering of the text: “These are those coming out of great affliction/tribulation”. In this passage, you will notice that it is not dealing with the unbelieving Jews, but with believers “from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” (7:9). Dispensationalists attempt to unite this passage and Matthew 24, but the two are contradictory rather than complimentary. In Matthew 24, unbelieving Jews who did not heed Jesus’ words suffered tribulation. In this passage, those who believed in Jesus Christ and had their sins cleansed in the blood of the Lamb suffer tribulation.

The question must be asked, “Which tribulation?” Dispensationalists will tell you that this is the “Great Tribulation” of Matthew 24, but this is unwarranted and without support. In order to answer our question, we need to work backwards. Since chapter 7 contains nothing in regard to tribulation, we need to go back to chapter 6 and see if we cannot find anything that indicates tribulation. Concerning the sixth seal, we can see that there is definitely some sort of tribulation taking place, but there is no indication of repentance and faith in regard to salvation. Concerning the fifth seal, we read of “those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (6:9), which cannot be denied as evidence in regard to tribulation. In 6:11 we are told “there was given to each of them a white robe,” which accords to what we read in 7:13-14: “These who are clothed in the white robes… are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The classical historic interpretation saw the fulfillment of the fifth seal in the persecution of the early church by the Roman Empire, which concluded with Diocletian’s attempt to blot out Christianity between 303 and 311 A.D. Philip Schaff writes, “All former persecutions of the faith were forgotten in the horror with which men looked back upon the last and greatest [Diocletian’s] ... Christian churches were to be destroyed; all copies of the Bible were to be burned; all Christians were to be deprived of public office and civil rights; and at last all, without exception, were to sacrifice to the gods upon pain of death. ... All the pains, which iron and steel, fire and sword, rack and cross, wild beasts and beastly men could inflict, were employed.”1 However, I see this not only as a fulfillment of the persecution and tribulation the early church received, but also that which the church in general receives during this current age until the return of our blessed Saviour. If we examine the rest of the world around us, persecution and tribulation are occurring almost as severely as back then.

These passages teach a clearly different picture of “great tribulation” from that of Matthew 24; one that is focused on the persecution of the saints rather than the destruction of Jerusalem. Whether or not you accept this as a fulfillment of this passage, the fact remains that it is contrasted against the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24. The two are completely unrelated, other than the fact they share the same terminology. Uniting them together as one in order to try and teach a doctrine is committing “collapsing context.” Context must always be our guide, brothers and sisters. Pay careful attention to what Scripture wants to reveal to you in its details.
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them--I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, To him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received [authority] from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
(Revelation 2:18-29, emphasis supplied)
In this third passage that speaks of “great tribulation,” you will notice that it is spoken as a warning of punishment against those who follow the woman symbolically referred to as “Jezebel” if they will not repent. We are not told whether they repented or not, and there appears to be no historical record as to whether this “great tribulation” took place or not. If it took place, it most likely occurred in the late first century or early second century, just as the fulfillment of Revelation 3:7-13 did under the rule of Trajan. It is clear by the context that it is not associated with either that “great tribulation” of Matthew 24 or that “great tribulation” of Revelation 7.

Apart from all of this, in John 16:33, Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” In Acts 14:22, Paul said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, he tells them they had “received the word in much tribulation,” and in 1 Thessalonians 3:3-7 that they would suffer tribulation for the faith. In 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, he writes to encourage them in the “persecutions and [tribulations]” they were suffering for the kingdom. There are several other passages that speak of the tribulation that believers should endure for the sake of Christ. There is no shortage of these persecutions and tribulations for believers; they were occurring back then and they continue to occur today. In North America, we are largely ignorant of these persecutions which are happening the world round, but ours is coming. Jesus promised us that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).

1 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 2:64-68.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The 'Great' Tribulation, Part 1

As you can see from the evidence in the last post, there is no gap in Daniel’s 70 Weeks. All of them are accounted for, which means that there is no such thing as the 7 years of peril called “The Great Tribulation.” The term occurs thrice in the New Testament and not one of those times is it a proper name. Not one of those times is it preceded by “the.” It is a description. Matthew 24:21 says, “For there will be great affliction/tribulation” (Literal translation, emphasis supplied); Revelation 2:22 says, “…those committing adultery with her into great affiction/tribulation” (Literal translation, emphasis supplied); Revelation 7:14 says, “These are those coming out of great affliction/tribulation” (Literal translation, emphasis supplied). It is Dispensationalists who capitalize the description, thereby turning it into a proper name. Scripture does no such thing, and we should not either.

In speaking of the fact that “great tribulation” is mentioned thrice in the New Testament, what the believer is probably unaware of is that these are three different “great tribulations” that are in no way related to each other. With that said, let us look at each of them in turn.
“Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”
(Matthew 24:15-22, emphasis supplied)
This is without a doubt the most famous of the three passages regarding “great tribulation.” What you are probably unaware of is the truth concerning this passage. In order to get this right, we need to back up to the beginning of the chapter. In verse 1, the disciples point out the magnificent buildings of the temple. Mark 13:1 records them saying, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” Luke 21:5 says they were speaking of how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts. To this, Jesus declared to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” The disciples then asked Him, “When will these things be?” Jesus then proceeds to answer their question. Luke 21:20-22 records, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Forty years later, in 70 A.D., these words came to life with vivid accuracy.

Brothers and sisters, you cannot read Matthew 24 without reading the parallel passages in Mark 13 and Luke 17 and 21 in order to harmonize them correctly. If you try to isolate Matthew 24 from the rest of Scripture bearing on the subject, you are going to end up with deviously erroneous theology. Remember what we learned in The Rapture In the Synoptic Gospels? Within the synoptic gospels, the parallel passages will often contain more or less detail of the same account. In order to do the subject justice, we must consider it all together. When we include Luke’s account of the event, we are provided with greater detail that helps us to interpret Jesus’ explanation more accurately. The armies that would surround Jerusalem were there to bring her desolation. History bears record that this occurred in 70 A.D. under Titus (the prince of Dan. 9:26). For those who hold doubt in their heart because of what they have been raised with or taught, I will let history convince you.

In 66 A.D., under the rule of Nero, extreme violence erupted between the Romans and the Jews. So Nero dispatched Vespasian to conduct all-out war against the Jewish nation. Nero died in 68 A.D., and in 69 A.D. Vespasian was proclaimed emperor in his place. During Vespasian’s conquest, he had conquered all of Galilee and Judea, with exception of the capital. When he was proclaimed emperor, Vespasian went to Alexandria and left Titus in charge to end the Jewish rebellion and conquer Jerusalem. Prior to Titus and his armies arriving, multitudes of Jews had entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The irony here is that, because the Jews crucified Jesus during the Passover, God would take vengeance on the Jews during the Passover. While Titus laid siege to them from without, three rival factions fought amongst themselves within. Josephus records that two of these factions fought each other and “set on fire those houses that were full of corn, and all other provisions. ... destroying what the city had laid up against the siege ... almost all the corn was burnt, which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years (5.1.4).
“And now, as the city was engaged in a war on all sides, from these treacherous crowds of wicked men [the three factions within], the people of the city, between them, were like a great body torn in pieces. The aged men and the women were in such distress by their internal calamities, that they wished for the Romans, and earnestly hoped for an external war, in order to their delivery from their domestic miseries (5.1.5).
“Now, while these factions fought one against another, the people were their prey on both sides ... Simon held the upper city, and the great wall as far as Cedron... But John held the temple... and fought it out, and did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do; for they never suffered any thing that was worse from the Romans than they made each other suffer... those that took [Jerusalem] did it a greater kindness; for I venture to affirm, that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed the sedition (5.6.1).
“But the famine was too hard for all other passions... insomuch that children pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their very mouths... but the seditious every where came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they broke open the doors, and ran in, and took pieces of what they were eating almost up out of their very throats, and this by force: the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten (5.10.3).
“I shall, therefore, speak my mind here at once briefly:—That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world (5.10.5).”1

The Romans caught 500 or more Jews a day trying to escape and crucified them before the walls of the city. They crucified 500 a day! The region outside the walls had become overflowing with crosses, so much so that “their multitude was so great that room was wanting for the crosses, and crosses wanting for the bodies (5.11.1).
“The upper rooms were full of women and children that were dying by famine; and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged (5.12.3).
“There was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews’ bellies; for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold... So the multitude of the Arabians, with the Syrians, cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies (5.13.4).
“No fewer than six hundred thousand were thrown out at the gates... when they were no longer able to carry out the dead bodies of the poor, they laid their corpses on heaps in very large houses, and shut them up therein… some persons were driven to that terrible distress as to search the common sewers and old dunghills of cattle, and to eat the dung which they got there (5.13.7).
“I am going to relate a matter of fact, the like to which no history relates, either among the Greeks or Barbarians! It is horrible to speak of it, and incredible when heard. ... There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan—her name was Mary; her father was Eleazar... and it was now become impossible for her any way to find any more food... she slew her son; and then roasted him, and ate the one half of him [see Deut. 28:52-57], and kept the other half by her concealed. Upon this the seditious came in presently, and smelling the horrid scent of this food, they threatened her that they would cut her throat immediately if she did not show them what food she had gotten ready. She replied that she had saved a very fine portion of it for them; and withal uncovered what was left of her son. Hereupon they were seized with a horror... and those already dead were esteemed happy, because they had not lived long enough either to hear or to see such miseries (6.3.3-4).
“As for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines [see Deut. 28:68; Luke 21:24]. Titus also sent a great number into the provinces, as a present to them, that they might be destroyed upon their theatres, by the sword and by the wild beasts; but those that were under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves. ... Now the number of those that were carried captive during this whole war was collected to be ninety-seven thousand; as was the number of those that perished during the whole siege eleven hundred thousand [1,100,000], the greater part of whom were indeed of the same nation [with the citizens of Jerusalem], but not belonging to the city itself; for they were come up from all the country to the feast of unleavened bread, and were on a sudden shut up by an army... Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceed all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world... And now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city, and burnt them down, and entirely demolished its walls (6.9.2-4).”2

Are you convinced yet, brothers and sisters? The evidence has spoken. The great tribulation spoken of by Jesus has already taken place. It is an accomplished historical fact—not something in the future. It took place in 70 A.D. For anyone who is skeptical, go read Josephus’ The War of the Jews and compare what is written to what Jesus said in Scripture (Matt. 24:2, 21-22; Mark 13:19-20; Luke 19:43-44; 21:20-24; cf Dan. 12:1). Josephus lived during those times and accounts the calamities that came upon the city of Jerusalem and the Jews. Jesus said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short” (Matt. 24:21-22). When the Romans invaded, they killed thousands of Jews. Many of the survivors committed suicide. If those days had not been cut short, every Jew would have died. The Holocaust was nothing compared to what took place in 70 A.D. True to Jesus’ words, those days were great tribulation such as never was and never would be again. To deny these facts is to deny the Word of God and to deny the inspiration of the Scriptures in favour of man-made myths and fairytales. Please notice carefully that the passage says nothing about a world war, but only about the destruction of a sole city—Jerusalem. This “great tribulation” had to do with the Jews because of their unbelief and rejection of the Messiah. Jesus called these days the “days of vengeance” (Luke 21:22), and said it was “in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (emphasis supplied). In Daniel chapter 9 verses 26 to 27 we read, “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; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined” (v.26), “and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate” (v.27). So that ends our look at the first “great tribulation.”

To be continued...

1 Flavius Josephus, War of the Jews, 5.1.1—5.10.5.
2 Ibid, 5.11.1—6.9.4.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What Comes After 69?

Chapter 9 begins with Daniel realizing that Jeremiah’s prophecy about the 70 years of Babylonian captivity (Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10), called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer. 30:1-7), was coming to an end (v.2). So Daniel prays to God on behalf of his people for deliverance. During their captivity, the land enjoyed its Sabbaths (Lev. 26:34). Now they would be in the land for seven times as long as they were in captivity. In verses 24-27, God gives Daniel the time period as to the coming of David’s seed, the Messiah. Here is that vision:
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two 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; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
In English, the word “weeks” is a poor translation. In the Hebrew it is שׁבוּעַ שׁבְעִים—seventy sevens. In translating verse 24’s “seventy sevens,” we come up with 490 years—a year for a day (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6). Daniel is told that 490 years are decreed upon his people and the holy city to accomplish everything that is mentioned in verse 24. Every one of those items has been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Ergo, the 70 weeks are finished. “The great affairs that are yet to come concerning the people of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem, will lie within the compass of these years.”1 Dispensationalists will argue the fact, but I will prove it to you.

Dispensationalists say that the 483 years expired when Jesus died on the cross. John MacArthur believes “This was fulfilled at the triumphal entry.”2 If this is so, we have a severe problem on our hands because the text literally says that “from the going out of a word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, to Messiah the Prince, shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks” (emphasis supplied). That is 69 weeks, which is 483 years. Many people believe that this is the birth of Christ. Maybe they are right. But I do not think so, and I will show you why. If this refers to the birth of Christ, it obviously, and logically, cannot refer to the triumphal entry or the death of Christ. Someone is not reading their Bible literally—again.

Based on the text, the 483 years cannot possibly refer to the death of Christ, or the triumphal entry, so we can scrap those concepts in the garbage. If the 483 years bring us to the birth of Christ, where do the next 30 years of Jesus’ life fall under before His public ministry? Now, the Dispensationalist might say, had he not already said that the 483 years bring us to the death of Christ, that the next 30 years, plus Jesus’ public ministry, fall into their “parenthetical gap” that they have created.

The word translated “Messiah” can also be translated as “anointed,” referring to a consecrated person. The idea that 483 years brings us to the birth of Christ presents a real problem for me. Not only is there no accounting for the first 30 years of Jesus’ life, but He also was not revealed to the world as Messiah until John the Baptist said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). This was when He was acknowledged as the Messiah. Now, being that the word could be translated as “anointed,” could it be possible that this is speaking of Jesus’ baptism by John? He was anointed by the Holy Spirit at this time. I believe that this is the case. I will show you yet still why I believe this to be so.

We are told by Dispensationalists that there exists a gap in Daniel’s 70 weeks, but is this true? Mr. Ryrie writes, “There is an interval of undetermined length between the first sixty-nine weeks of seven years each and the last or seventieth week of seven years.”3 Henrietta Mears agrees, “Scripture divides these seventy sevens into three divisions with a parenthetic time lapse for the present ‘Gentile rule.’”4 Really!? Where? Where in the text does it say there is a “parenthetic gap” or an “undetermined length” of time in the 490 years? It does not! Dispensationalists must add it. If Scripture can be understood of by even a child, then it should be easy enough to discern what is taught and what is not merely by reading the passage as it stands.

In verse 26, the phrase translated “be cut off” is the Hebrew word karath (כָּרַת), which means “to cut off, cut down; to make (a covenant, agreement); to be cut off, broken off; to be cut off, be destroyed; ‘to cut a covenant’ is ‘make a covenant,’ a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant.”5 The implication is that of cutting flesh and passing between the pieces. Sound familiar? It should! Read Genesis 15. We read in verse 18, “On that day the LORD made (karath) a covenant with Abram…

For your consideration, here are the first 17 occurrences (of 280) of the use of the word karath in the Bible:
Gen. 9:11 – “…all flesh shall never again be karath by the water of the flood…
Gen. 15:18 – “On that day the LORD karath a covenant…
Gen. 17:14 – “…that person shall be karath from his people…
Gen. 21:27 – “…and the two of them karath a covenant.
Gen. 21:32 – “So they karath a covenant at Beersheba…
Gen. 26:28 – “…and let us karath a covenant with you.
Gen. 31:44 – “So now come, let us karath a covenant, you and I…
Gen. 41:36 – “…so that the land may not karath during the famine.
Ex. 4:25 – “Then Zipporah took a flint and karath her son's foreskin…
Ex. 8:9 – “… that the frogs be karath from you and your houses…
Ex. 12:15 – “…that person shall be karath from Israel.
Ex. 12:19 – “…that person shall be karath from the congregation of Israel…
Ex. 23:32 – “You shall karath no covenant with them or with their gods.
Ex. 24:8 – “…Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has karath with you in accordance with all these words.
Ex. 30:33 – “…shall be karath from his people.
Ex. 30: 38 – “…shall be karath from his people.
Ex. 31:14 – “…that person shall be karath from among his people.
As we noted, verse 24 informs us there will be 70 weeks (490 years). Verse 25 gives us 7 weeks (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years), which is a total of 69 weeks (483 years). In verse 26, it states, “Then after the sixty-two weeks…” (emphasis supplied; those 62 weeks that followed the 7 weeks). After 69 comes what, brothers and sisters? 70! In the 70th week the Messiah, or Anointed One, would be “cut off but not for Himself” (Literal translation). Matthew Poole writes regarding karath, “It is used for cutting off by capital punishment, Exod. xii. 15; xxx. 33, 38; whether this be by the signal hand of God, or by the magistrate, for some heinous offence, Lev. xviii. 29; xx. 17; Psal. xxxvii. 34.”6

In verse 27, it states that in the midst of the week He will cause sacrifice and offerings to cease, which happened the moment Christ was crucified and the 18-inch-thick veil was torn in two. The high priest could no longer go in and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. While some Jews apparently still kept trying to offer sacrifices, it was to no avail. Acceptable sacrifices and offerings were no longer valid. They were done. So if Jesus causes the sacrifices and offerings to cease in the midst of the 70th week when He is crucified, three and a half years earlier brings us to the start of His ministry when He was baptized by John the Baptist, which would be the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. Thus why I believe verse 25 is speaking of Jesus’ baptism. All of what we have just looked at derived from a simple reading of the text.

Now, whether you believe Jesus’ ministry was for three years or three and a half years makes little difference. It still brings you to the midst of the week. If you try and divide it exactly, and deny that three years could not possibly be the midst of the week, all you are doing is splitting hairs. Stop it!

Charles Ryrie writes, “When this last period of seven years begins, ‘He will make a firm covenant with the many for one week’ (v.27).”7 Do you see what the Dispensationalist does here? He adds the word “make.” In verse 27, there is no word used for the making of a covenant. The literal translation is “He shall confirm a covenant with the many for one week” (emphasis supplied). One would think the English word “confirm” was self-evident, or the fact it says “confirm the covenant” (KJV), but apparently not. The word translated “confirm” is the Hebrew word gabar (גָּבַר), which means “to confirm, to strengthen, to cause to prevail.” So, in verse 27, a new covenant is not being made, but the text explicitly declares that He is strengthening or causing to prevail an already existing covenant. Which covenant would that be? The covenant of grace that Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke of (Jer. 31:31-34; Isa. 59:21), and Jesus Christ fulfilled. “He: this he is not Titus making truce with the Jews, which he did not, though he endeavoured to persuade them that he might spare them. I say then with Graser, Mede, and others, that this he is the Messiah, and the covenant he confirms is the new testament or covenant, called therefore the covenant of the people, Isa. xlii. 6; xlix. 9; and the Angel of the covenant, Mal. iii. 1; and the Surety of the covenant, Heb. vii. 22; and the ancient rabbins called the Messias אישניגים a middle man, or middle man between two. Quest. How did Christ confirm the covenant? Answ. 1. By testimony, (1.) Of angels, Luke ii. 10; Matt. xxviii.; (2.) John Baptist; (3.) Of the wise men; (4.) By the saints then living, Luke i. 2; (5.) Moses and Elias, Matt. xvii. 3; (6.) Pharisees, as Nicodemus, John iii. 2; (7.) The devils that confessed him. 2. By his preaching. 3. By signs and wonders. 4. By his holy life. 5. By his resurrection and ascension. 6. By his death and blood shed. Shall confirm the covenant; הגביִר he shall corroborate it, as if it began before his coming to fail and be invalid.”8

Mr. MacArthur states, “The leader in this covenant is the ‘little horn’ of 7:7-8, 20-21, 24-26, and the evil leader of NT prophecy.”9 Jesus Christ is an “evil leader”? Shame on you, Mr. MacArthur! Church history agrees that the first half of verse 27 is Jesus, which the Dispensationalists have swapped for their Antichrist. Mr. Ryrie claims this is the Antichrist because “nothing in the record of Christ’s life in any way connects Him with the making (and later breaking) of a seven-year covenant with the Jewish people.”10 This is subjective opinion, my friends. First, where does he get this concept of “breaking” a covenant? It is nowhere to be found in Scripture. It is an imaginary concept derived from a wrongly distorted reading of Scripture. Second, Mr. Ryrie is confused and thinks Daniel 9:24-27 is ultimately about Israel, rather than about Jesus, of Whom it is about. (Actually, Dispensationalists think the entire Bible is about Israel, rather than about Christ.) Third, apparently Mr. Ryrie has never read Jeremiah 31:31-34; Isaiah 59:21; or the book of Hebrews. There is much in the life of Christ that connects Him to the “making” of a covenant: only it is not “making,” it is confirming; and it is not merely with the Jewish people, it is with His people—Jew and Gentile alike. The Christian is under and partaker of the New Covenant, which is through Jesus’ blood.

To show you that Dispensationalists are wrong by interpreting the text to be “making” a covenant, I have compiled all the verses from Scripture that use the same word. For your consideration, you tell me if the verse means what they try to force it to mean:
Gen. 7:18 – “And the water  gabar
Gen. 7:19 – “And the water gabar
Gen. 7:20 – “The water gabar fifteen cubits higher…
Gen. 7:24 – “And the water gabar
Ex. 17:11 – “So it came about when Moses held his hand up, Israel gabar
1 Sam. 2:9 – “… For not by might shall a man gabar.
2 Sam. 1:23 – “… They were gabar than lions.
2 Sam. 11:23 – “The men gabar against us…
1 Chr. 5:2 – “Though Judah gabar over his brothers…
Job 15:25 – “…and gabar himself against the Almighty.
Job 21:7 – “Why do the wicked…gabar very powerful?
Job 36:9 – “…and their transgressions, that they have gabar themselves.
Ps. 12:4 – “…With our tongue we will gabar
Ps. 65:3 – “Iniquities gabar against me…
Ps. 103:11 – “…So gabar is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
Ps. 117:2 – “For His lovingkindness is gabar toward us…
Ecc. 10:10 – “…then he must gabar more strength…
Is. 42:13 – “…He will gabar against His enemies.
Jer. 9:3 – “Lies and not truth gabar in the land…
Lam. 1:16 – “…My children are desolate because the enemy has gabar.
Zech. 10:6 – “And I shall gabar the house of Judah…
Zech. 10:12 – “And I shall gabar them in the LORD…
That should be sufficient enough evidence to prove without a doubt that the making of a covenant is not in view in Daniel 9:27, nor can it be. It is the strengthening and prevailing of the New Covenant. As Hebrews tells us, a testament or will cannot be put into effect until the death of the testator (Heb. 9:16-17). With Jesus’ death, He made the first one (the Old Covenant) obsolete (Heb. 8:13) and abolished it in order to establish the second (Heb. 10:9). The New Covenant was inaugurated with and by Jesus’ blood (Heb. 9:18-22). We are under it now. Do not believe the Dispensationalist who tells you that the New Covenant is for Israel only. That is a bold-faced lie in the light of Scripture and the Christian reality.

What about the last three and a half years? Good question! After Jesus’ resurrection, His disciples preached the gospel for the next three and a half years mostly to Jews (see Acts 1-6). The 490 years officially came to an end with the Jewish leaders’ final rejection of the gospel of the Messiah by their stoning of Stephen in 37 A.D. After Stephen was martyred, the door was flung open to make way for the Gentile inclusion, just as the prophets had predicted beforehand. In Acts 10, Peter was given a vision by God revealing that it was now time to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (vv.1-28).

1 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, 4:857.
2 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1213.
3Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, 541.
4 Henrietta Mears, What the Bible Is All About, 288.
5 James Strong, Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 1517-1518.
6 Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, 2:839.
7 Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, 541.
8 Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, 2:839.
9 John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, 1213.
10 Ibid.