BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
Prophetic Apocalyptic Language
My good brethren, this little treatise concerns "Prophetic Apocalyptic Language" and the way that it should affect our interpretation of the "new testament" Scriptures. I would like to begin this enterprise by citing a Bible passage:
"For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light."
Sound familiar? Because there has been so much discussion for so long a time on a perceived "end of the world," it's quite probable that someone right now may be thinking: "Why sure, those are the words of Jesus in Mt. 24:29, where He described what's going to happen at the end of the world; that it will be the time when the sun and the moon are to cease shining, and the stars are all going to fall from the sky, and Jesus comes back to the earth riding on the clouds of heaven!" This may well have been your guess at the passage and also your understanding as well.
Well, beloved, if you had guessed that Mt. 24:29
was the passage that I cited, you would have been mistaken, because that
was a quote from Is. 13:10, 13, spoken some 750 years before
Jesus used this same kind of language. My point being, that when we
read this type of prophecy in the "new testament," whether by
Jesus, or by one of the inspired writers, I personally believe that it
is imperative that we go to the original source of such language if we
are to arrive at its true meaning! This is important, because, as we
just learned, Jesus' use of that awesome, colorful, celestial imagery in
Mt. 24:29 was not the first time that those words were
uttered in prophecy. As we have seen, it had its roots in the old
covenant Scriptures - the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Beloved,
I really believe that if we fail to educate ourselves in what that
language meant in its old testament genesis, then we are giving
our minds over to the mercy of our imagination. When that happens, it
spawns all sorts of wild speculations and interpretations, which
preclude us from ever really understanding the "true" message
that was being conveyed by our Creator. I have found Mt. 24:29
to be only one of many such "new testament" prophetic
utterances that had the "old testament" Scriptures as their
source. So, at this point, I would like to cite just a few of those “old testament” prophecies [and their fulfillments], which were
spoken by the prophets; all of which used the same kind of imagery that
was described above. And, I'd like to start with the one that was
quoted at the beginning of this article, and which was later used by
Jesus in Mt. 24:29, viz. Is. 13. Please examine this
prophecy with me and let's see what those words meant when God utilized
them for the first time. Because, if we can learn that, then we
can know with certainty what they would have meant when they were used
later in the "new testament."
Beloved, we should have no difficulty in recognizing that Isaiah's prophecy spoke of the judgment that God would bring upon Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian empire. That prophecy was fulfilled in 538 B.C., as Jehovah, through His use of the Medes, brought destruction upon that kingdom. Let's take note of some of the remarkable things that the Lord said would take place at that great judgment, including some awesome celestial phenomena, of which God spoke through His prophet Isaiah:
[A] God spoke of the Medes as "His mighty ones," "His consecrated ones," and "His proudly exulting ones." And, that it was He [Jehovah] who was "mustering the army" [vss. 3, 4b].
[B] God said that the Medes would "come from a distant land; from the end of the heavens" [v-5].
[C] Isaiah called that judgment a "destruction from the Almighty" and would take place on "the Day of The Lord" [v-6].
[D] God said that "every human heart will melt" and "their faces will be aflame" [vss. 7, 8]
[E] He also prophesied that "the stars, including all the constellations would not give their light" [v-10]
[F] “The sun would be dark at its rising.” ]v-10]
[G] ”The moon would not give its light.”
[I] "The heavens would tremble" [v-13]
[J] "The earth would be shaken from its place" [v-13]
As we consider the various elements of that judgment on Babylon, brethren, there's a lot that I can learn about how God effects His will. And, another very important thing that I can learn about is the highly charged, highly symbolic, colorful speech or language that He employed to express His judgments. Under A, B, and C, we get another lesson in how God used men, often times "evil" men to execute His judgments etc.. The Medes, of course, were not Jehovah's people. However, in that account, He called them His “consecrated ones,” His “mighty men,” and His “highly exulting ones.” In other words, God had “set apart” the Medes for His purpose. No, it was not uncommon for the Lord to speak of “evil’ men as His servants in a context such as this! In Jer. 25:9, as God was pronouncing judgment on His own people Judah, whom He was about to send into 70 years of Babylonian captivity, He spoke of this same king that He was about to judge [king of Babylon - Nebuchadnezzar] as “His servant.” Certainly God's reasons for applying such terms to the Medes was as He declared in v-3: "They would execute His anger." Yes, He used the Medes as He used Pharaoh to "show his power."
As we then consider the celestial phenomena that has been described in D-J, it won't be necessary to again cite all of these things, but let's just consider two or three of them. First, we will look at [D]. Do you think that we are to understand that men's hearts literally melted within their chests in this conflict? Are we to understand that men's faces were literally “on fire?” In [E-J], did God really intend for us to learn that the sun, moon, and the stars "literally" would not shine during the period of that great battle? Also, were we to understand that during that period, that "the earth" would literally be shaken from its place in orbit around the sun? Surely, any serious student of the Father's Word, realizes that those wonderful, super-charged phenomena did not "literally" take place. My dear friends, please think about this for a moment: If that marvelous display of celestial catastrophes literally took place back then, then the very fabric of our planet would be no more! However, that does not mean that those things did not have meaning or that we should just simply overlook them. Oh no! Those things are very important to us. Certainly there was indeed a purpose for them! Surely, we all understand that they were symbols, and because they were symbols, they had to have been symbolic of something or someone. But of what - or whom? Well, I believe that the Scriptures themselves have given us insight into exactly what those things symbolized.
The very first time that the sun, moon, and stars were used as symbols in the Scriptures, is found in Gen. 37:9-11. Do you recall the two dreams that Joseph had as a lad? The first was a dream of the sheaves of wheat [vss. 5-8], where the sheaves of his brothers bowed down to his sheaf. Upon telling his eleven brothers of the dream, they indicated that they understood its meaning, viz., that Joseph would actually rule over them one day. We are all familiar with the narrative and how that came to pass when Joseph later, through Divine providence, became ruler in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh in authority. But it's in the second dream of Joseph where we gain insight into the symbols of Isaiah's prophecy regarding Babylon. In his second dream [vss. 9-11], Joseph dreamed that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. He related the dream to his father, Jacob, and also to his brothers. If you will look at v-10, Jacob knew exactly what the dream meant, for he immediately asked Joseph: "Shall I and your mother, and your brothers actually bow down before you to the ground?" Verse 11 said that Joseph's brothers were jealous of him, but that Jacob kept the saying in his mind, or heart. Yes, Jacob knew exactly what the dream meant. However, it's also very clear from Jacob’s words that he understood that the sun, moon, and stars of the dream to be "symbols!" And beloved, isn't it interesting that we're not left to guess or speculate as to what the sun, moon and stars symbolized? It's quite obvious from the language, that the sun symbolized the #1 authority figure – Jacob - the head of the family. The moon, being the lesser of the two great lights because it reflected the light of the sun, symbolized the lesser or #2 authority figure –Rachael - Joseph's mother. And finally, we see that the eleven stars symbolized Joseph's brothers; those even lesser in rank and subjects under the higher authorities! So, brethren, I can't speak for anyone but myself, but this helps me immensely when I see that same imagery used in other prophetic judgments of God against a nation, a king, government, or dynasty; yea even His own people, Israel! However, in the text under discussion, it was Babylon. So, if I apply the model of what I learned from Jacob's interpretation of Joseph's dream to a kingdom or empire such as that of Nebuchadnezzar's, I understand then that the sun, moon, stars, and constellations etc. symbolized authorities: kings, governments, rulers, leaders, and their subjects.
So, then, what about v.11 in Isaiah's prophecy concerning Babylon? The verse said that God would "punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity." One might ask, "Does this mean that God punished the whole world at His judgment on Babylon?" Well, yes it certainly does, if we consider the "world" of which He spoke. I believe that we can gain some insight into that by considering another "world" - the world that God created for Israel when He brought them out of Egyptian bondage. That marvelous declaration is recorded in Is. 51:15, 16. The Scripture records that the Lord put His word [His law] in their mouth, took them [Israel, or Zion] as His people, and gave them His providential care, i.e., He covered them with the shadow of His hand. Doing all of those marvelous things for Israel constituted the Lord's "establishing their heavens, and founding their earth." Yes, God created their [Israel's] "world." Oh what a remarkable story that was! So, with an understanding of "Israel's world," I find help in determining what Jehovah meant when He made [v.11] the prophecy concerning Babylon. He was going to punish "their world for its evil." Yes, I now understand that He was talking about "Babylon's" world. Yes, beloved, God had determined that it was time for wicked Babylon's world to come to an end. As the prophet Daniel once declared: "God removes kings, and He sets up kings" [Dan. 2:21].
Dear friends, before proceeding further, please let us not forget that wonderful and very graphic imagery and language that was utilized by the "old testament" prophets to describe God's judgment on nations. Also, a very important thing for us to remember is, as noted in [C] above, almost invariably, the time and execution of God's judgments were characterized by the prophets as "The Day of The Lord!" That's so relevant when we come to the word "judgment" in the "new testament" prophecies!
At this time, let's consider God's judgment on Egypt, which was prophesied by Isaiah in Is., chapters 19 & 20. Beginning with 19:1,2, Jehovah said:
"An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt and the hearts of the Egyptians shall melt within them. And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight each against another, and each against his neighbor. [v-4] and I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord God of hosts. [20: 3, 4] Then the Lord said, 'As Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt.'"
Brothers and sisters, that prophecy was fulfilled about 480 B.C. when Egypt was defeated by the king of Assyria, who then led them away to captivity. The more important thing is that we find more of the colorful imagery and language employed.
[A] The Lord "comes to Egypt, riding on a swift cloud" [v-1].
[B] "The hearts of the Egyptians will melt within them" [v-1].
So, what do we learn about "prophetic language?" More importantly, what did "the children of Israel" learn from it? Here's why I ask that: Several centuries later, their Messiah would use that same language in His prophecies. And His apostles also used it as they wrote to 1st century believers. Therefore, having an understanding of prophetic apocalyptic language, was paramount in the minds of the old covenant children of Israel. Am I making sense here?
As we look at the things in Isaiah’s prophecy against Egypt, let's begin with [B] first. If you remember, in the prophecy concerning Babylon, we read about that same thing regarding those people. I think by now that we understand that "their hearts melting within them," conveyed a feeling of despair and hopelessness on the part of those in Egypt as God wielded the sword of His judgment [the Assyrians] against them. Indeed, all hope for them was gone. As in the case of Babylon, so it was for Egypt in the prophecy concerning their judgment.
Now let's consider [A]. What are we to think of
that visual of the God of heaven riding to Egypt on a swift cloud? Are we
to understand that the Egyptians got an awesome cineramic view of Jehovah
literally riding on a fast-moving cloud across the Egyptian skies at "His
coming?" Or, does that awesome sight “symbolize”
something else instead? Perhaps if we look at a few passages where
“clouds” were used in such manner, they may give us a little insight
into that awesome picture that Isaiah [and others] described.
"Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark, that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat."
Folks, I believe that this verse speaks for itself. The “cloud” clearly referred to the “presence” of the Lord. The "cloud" also consealed God; otherwise, Aaron would have been destroyed by His glory!
 Psa. 97:1-6: "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him: Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory."
In that Psalm, David spoke of "God's judgment on His enemies." David, not unlike the prophets, who spoke by the Spirit of God, used very similar colorful, yet frightful language to convey to Israel God's power as the Judge of all men and nations. It's also very interesting that David depicted God's throne as being encompassed by clouds to signify not only God's "presence," but also His majesty, glory, and power in judgment.
 Nah. 1:1-3 "The oracle of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way. And, clouds are the dust beneath His feet."
Dear brethren, if we pay close attention to detail in the "old testament" writings, we find that “clouds” were used extensively in prophecies concerning judgment and to also symbolize His “presence” or His “coming” in those judgments! We had just read of His coming to Egypt "riding on a swift cloud," and Nahum described His coming in judgment on Nineveh with clouds being the "dust beneath His feet." We have established that all of the marvelous, celestial imagery that was displayed in the various "old testament" prophecies of God's judgments, are not to be understood as literal heavenly calamities, but rather signs and symbols. And as we have seen, the meaning of the signs and symbols found in prophetic speech can most accurately be determined by what we see in the fulfillments of those prophecies. As it turns out, some of the things that we may think that we see, are really not there at all. I'm reminded of the story by a "Christian comedian" some years back, named Wendy Bagwell. He was the guest of a friend of his who was with a group of "snake handlers" somewhere in Tennessee. Well, it wasn't very far along into the service before they brought out the snakes and began what they considered "showing their faith" by engaging in all sorts of dancing maneuvers with the snakes, and soon they were even blocking the entrance door of the building. Well, Wendy, being more than just a little afraid at that point, was ready to change addresses, and asked his friend where the back door was - to which his friend replied, "They don't have a back door." Wendy said, "Well, where do you reckon they want one?" Well, the story goes that a while later, Wendy was a guest on some talk show and was asked by the host, "Now just why have you been going around telling folks this lie about you seeing a 47 foot rattlesnake; you know that there's no such thing as a 47 foot rattlesnake!" Wendy's response was, "Well, I didn't lie, because if you take the 6 feet that I saw, and you add to it the 41 feet that I thought I saw, then you've got a 47 foot rattlesnake!" Well, beloved, the same thing can happen to us when we read the prophecies in the "new testament" Scriptures, i.e., if we're not careful, and conduct our Bible study in a haphazard fashion, we can think that we see something, when in actuality, it really isn't there at all! That's why all of us need to study more in the old covenant Scriptures. I know that I do!
We noticed in our first three "old testament" prophecies, that the use of “the clouds was very conspicuous in those judgments of God. So, let's now continue our look at those prophecies.
 Joel 2 In that entire chapter, God, through the prophet Joel, pronounced judgments on His own people, the house of Judah, who had left the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and were playing the harlot. Their history was one of disobedience and idolatry, as was her sister, the house of Israel. In 721 B.C., Jehovah had given to Israel a writ of divorce, delivering them into the hands of the Assyrians, at which time, even though they continued to exist as the "house of Israel," they no longer existed as a “kingdom,” but were taken captive and dispersed among the nations. In effect, they became the nations [gentiles] themselves. However, Judah did not learn from all of this. As Yahweh said: she [Judah] "was more treacherous than her sister Israel" [Jer. 3:8-11].
In vss. 28-32 of Joel's prophecy, God said:
“And it will come about after this, that I will
pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will
prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions,
and even on the male and female servants, I will pour out My Spirit in those
days. And I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood,
fire, and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the
moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And
it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be
delivered; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who
escape [Mat. 24:16 - believers in Jesus - the remnant or
elect of Judah – JG], as the Lord has said, even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls [Mt.24:16] - the remnant or elect of Judah].”
"And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor (columns) of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
O beloved, look at all of the information in those words! First, we clearly see signs and symbols that were very similar to those that appeared in all of the other "old testament" prophetic passages that we examined. And, we found that all of those signs and symbols were indicative of "God's judgment" on a nation or people. So, I ask: "Why should it be any different in this case?" Surely, if we are shown what those signs and symbols meant in the "old testament," what possible reason would there be to assume that they would mean something entirely different in the "new testament?" Am I making sense here? Good people, if you will look in both Peter's quotation of Joel, and Joel's original prophecy in Joel 2:28-32, I believe that you will conclude that it was indeed a prophecy of God's judgment. In the case of Joel’s prophecy, the judgment began with God's own household [1 Pet. 4:17]. I believe that you will see that in the prophecy of Joel, there was both salvation and judgment prophesied, to be fulfilled in the same time-frame. Salvation was for the Israelites who would accept their Messiah, and judgment for those Israelites who would not. There was a time when I inserted a time gap of at least 2,000 years between Acts 2:16-18 and 19-20. I applied vss. 16-18 to Pentecost and vss. 19, 20 to a perceived future "end of the world." Then I would pick back up with v-21 and apply it to Pentecost also. Of course, neither Joel nor Peter did that. But I did. Not out of arrogance or irreverence for my Father, but only because judgment, in the same time-frame as the salvation, did not fit my then present understanding in those matters.
But beloved, please look again with me briefly at Joel's original prophecy from which Peter quoted, viz. Joel 2:31, 32. He said, "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and awesome Day of the Lord come. And, it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, there will be those who escape, and the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls." Please notice Joel's use of the phrases, "will be delivered," "those who escape," and "the survivors." Beloved, all of those things of which Joel spoke would take place "in those days." Yes, the same "those days" in which God would pour out His Spirit; the same "those days" in which He would display wonders in the sky and on the earth etc.. I find that very interesting; so interesting that it causes me to ask such questions as these:
 Who are those that "will be delivered?"
 From what will they "be delivered?"
 Who are "those who escape?"
 From what will "they escape?"
 Why are those that escape "in Jerusalem?"
 Who are the "survivors?"
] What did they "survive?"
Kind brethren, I would suggest that all of the Jews who accepted the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, from Pentecost to the "last days" judgment on the house of Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple in 70 A.D., were the ones in view in Joel‘s prophecy. Yes, it was they who were delivered and escaped and who were also the survivors that were mentioned by Joel. By the use of the words of our Master, I would like to demonstrate this.
For this demonstration, I would like to go to Matthew, chapter 23, where the Master spoke in the temple for the last time before His arrest. He verbally excoriated the unbelieving Jews, especially the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees! In that chapter, He charged them with, not only their gross hypocrisy, but also with the "murder of the prophets" [vss. 34, 37], and said that upon them [1st century Jews] would fall the guilt of all the righteous blood from Abel to one of God’s prophets who was named Zechariah [v-35]. He further said in v-36, "Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation [that then present, 1st century generation - JG]." Of their temple, He said, "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" Immediately following those words, Jesus and His apostles left the temple, which brings us to chapter 24. That is the chapter in which the Master, from a back-drop of "old testament imagery,” used the same language as the prophets, to describe the fall of Jerusalem, the temple, and the Jewish nation, which brought an and to the old covenant, or Mosaic age. As they departed from the temple, His disciples pointed out to Him all of the great and beautiful buildings that comprised the temple complex. In v-2, Jesus said 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." Being so perplexed by such a declaration from their Lord, they asked him in v-3: "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming (Greek - parousia), and of the end of the age [not world or planet]." Before telling them exactly what the "sign" of His coming would be, He first told them of things that would happen before "the sign" would appear, which would signal all of those things that were coming to pass. But then, in v-15, Jesus told them exactly what the sign would be. He said: "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 the believers were to recognize that Jerusalem’s desolation was at hand because those were "the days of vengeance in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled" [Lk. 21:20, 22]. Matthew records Jesus saying that when that happened, then would be, "a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall" [Mat. 24:21].
At this time, beloved, let us recall those words of Joel's prophecy. He said that there would be those that would escape from Judea [Joel 2:32]; those that would be delivered [v-32]; that there would be survivors [v-32]. In light of those statements, look at Jesus' words in Mt. 24:16; Lk. 21:20, 21. He warned His apostles that when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies [Roman armies - JG]: "Then let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains. Let him that is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house …" Yes, beloved, they would be the same armies of whom the angel told Daniel, would "finish shattering the power of the holy people" [Dan. 12:7]. And remember, in Lk. 21:22, Jesus said of that time that, "These are the days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled." My dear friends, to me it seems so clear, that as a result of Jesus' warning to His apostles [who would in turn teach all other disciples in Judea], to flee to the mountains when they saw the Roman armies and their allies surrounding the city … they would be delivered (saved); they escaped from Jerusalem; they were survivors because they did in fact flee to the mountains. Josephus recorded that the Christians fled Jerusalem, to the city of Pella in the hills of Perea, with no record of any of them perishing [this is also the source for our idiom "head for the hills"]. Dear believer, in light of those things, it makes a lot more sense to me now why Peter kept exhorting the Jews on Pentecost to … "be saved from this perverse generation" [Acts. 2:40]. The KJV renders it “save youreselves from this untoward generation!" Good folks, for many years, I understood that Peter, here, had reference to their "being saved from their sins." But, I can see now that I was mistaken. Peter had already given them instruction concerning salvation from sin back in v-38. Those 3,000 Jews who became Christians that day, were subsequently instructed by the apostles of Jesus, of the same imminent destruction spoken of by the prophets and Jesus. In my own mind, those particular words of Peter implied that their submission to Jesus and the gospel, would not only save them from their sins, but at the same time would save them from the great destruction that he quoted from Joel's prophecy that was soon to be fulfilled.
Let us now go back to that prophetic, apocalyptic language that Jesus used to describe exactly what would happen immediately after the great tribulation of Mt. 24:21. In vss. 29-31, He said: "...the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." In examining a number of "old testament" prophecies, we learned that the use of expressions involving the sun and moon not giving their light, and the stars either falling or not giving their light, were symbolic “judgment prophecies,” concerning the fall or collapse of kingdoms, governments, and authorities. Then we also found that the phrase “coming on the clouds” was also used frequently as a symbol or sign. For example, the picture of God coming in judgment on Egypt, "riding on a swift cloud" in Is. 19:1, or when He came in judgment on Nineveh in Nah. 1:3, with the clouds being the dust under His feet, or as David said in Psa. 104:3, "He makes the clouds His chariot." Then there was the cloud upon the mercy seat atop the ark of the covenant, which symbolized the very “presence” of God. So, it seems very clear that clouds were commonly used to symbolize God's presence in judgment on all His enemies.
So, dear brothers and sisters, if we understand what all of those various terms symbolized in the "old testament," what should we think when we then see the same terms used in the "new testament?" Wouldn't they still mean the same things? I would certainly think so! Just as the things that John saw on Patmos in The Apocalypse. John said, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants, things which must shortly come to pass and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John" [Rev. 1;1] W.E. Vine says that the word “signify” comes from the Greek “semaino“ [Strong's #4591]. He says, "… where perhaps the suggestion is that of expressing by signs." So, one might rightly say, that in the Apocalypse, Jesus [sign]-i-fied those things to John, i.e., He used signs and symbols that were descriptive of some thing and/or some one other than the signs and symbols themselves. Among scholars in theological circles, this is also known as ’apocalyptic language.” Dear ones, that's why I believe it to be so very important that we consider the relevance of John's 1st century reading audience when studying that marvelous epistle. Disciples in the 1st century [especially Jewish disciples] understood very clearly what those signs and symbols meant, because they were familiar with the "old testament" prophets' use of them. Concerning the prophecies that we are examining in this study, they all were well-indoctrinated in them; they were an integral part of their lives.
So, from such verses as Mt. 24:15 and Lk. 21:20-22, it becomes evident that all of those things in Mt. 24:29-31, 34, were in regard to the fall of Jerusalem, the temple, and the Jewish nation. Daniel had prophesied that this would be the time of the "shattering of the power of the Holy people" [Dan. 12:7]. The time of God's vengeance on Jerusalem [Lk. 21:20, 22 was also the time of the great harvest [Mt. 13:24-30; 36-43; Mt. 24:31]. As for when all of these things would transpire, the Master said very plainly to His apostles in v-34, "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."
Verse 30 spoke of another spectacular event as Jesus spoke of His coming (parousia):
"And then shall appear the sign of the son of man in heaven. And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great glory."
This is our first look at “new testament” usage of prophetic language involving Jesus' coming on the clouds. A short time later [Mt. 24:63-65], we find Jesus using it again. And folks, I believe that you will find Jesus' words and the High Priest's response to be oh so interesting and informative! Jesus was standing before Caiaphas the High Priest, after having been betrayed by Judas, who delivered Him into the hands of the Jewish authorities. In v-63, Caiaphas said:
"I adjure you by the living God, that You tell us whether You are The Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said to him, 'You have said it yourself, nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you [Caiaphas] shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest tore his robes saying, He has blasphemed; what further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy!"
Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever wondered why Caiaphas, upon hearing Jesus say that he [Caiaphas] would personally see Him sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds, would become so furious as to tear his robes and make the most serious charge of blasphemy against Jesus? Just what was it in those few words of Jesus that set him off like that? Well, I believe that if we would consider a few things here, we will get some insight into that! First of all, every Jew was very familiar with the "old testament" Scriptures, having been taught them from their childhood [2 Tim. 3:15; Acts 13:27; 15:21]. That should have been especially true of the high priest! So, when Jesus told Caiaphas that he was going to see Him coming on the clouds, this infuriated him because Caiaphas knew what coming on the clouds meant. Being very familiar with the "old testament" Scriptures, he knew all too well that only "deity" came on the clouds of heaven; hence the charge of blasphemy. Caiaphas also knew that every prophetic utterance that pictured God coming on the clouds was a symbol of God’s coming in judgment! Yes, beloved, he knew very well that it was God who "rode on a swift cloud" in judgment on Egypt [Is. 19:1], and he knew quite well that Nahum had spoken of the clouds as being "the dust under God's feet," when he foretold God’s judgment on Nineveh. And, he certainly knew of David's marvelous declaration that the clouds were God’s chariot [Psa. 104:3]. And Caiaphas was certainly familiar with Joel's prophecy of judgment that was to come upon that nation in the last days of that old covenant age; the same prophecy that Peter quoted on Pentecost!
And in that prophecy, Joel employed all of the catastrophic, celestial imagery in describing that great judgment! Did Caiaphas “physically” see Jesus coming on the clouds? Well, I don't say that he did, however, “to see” has more than just the meaning of "physical sight," for it also means “to perceive.” For example, Paul told the saints at Ephesus that he prayed for "the enlightening of the eyes of their understanding." Concerning Caiaphas, what I see here is the fact that when Caiaphas witnessed all of the awesome, terrible, and horrific things come upon Jerusalem, the temple, and the nation, come to pass just as Jesus had prophesied, then he would see [perceive] that as Jesus coming on the clouds as He had promised. In witnessing these things, he would see the sign of the son of man in heaven [Mt. 24:30], i.e., Caiaphas would see [perceive] Jesus "sitting on the right hand of power"; that the Son of Man was indeed at the right hand of the throne of heaven as Deity! Yes, dear friends, just as the Babylonians saw [perceived] God "riding on a swift cloud" into Babylon, The Master, with all judgment having been committed unto Him by His Father [Jn. 5:22], came riding on the clouds of judgment on Jerusalem and the Jewish nation in 70 A.D. Yes, I understand that to be the same "coming on the clouds" that was mentioned by John in Rev. 1:7, and the one of Acts 1:11, and yes, the same coming of which He had promised His apostles in Mt. 16:27, 28.
Beloved, I don't pretend to speak for anyone but myself here, but in light of all the "old testament" examples of God's judgment on His enemies, I am persuaded that all of the apocalyptic imagery of the sun and moon not shining, the stars and constellations either falling from the sky or not shining, were simply signs or symbols of something other than themselves, and thus those celestial calamities were to be taken figuratively and not literally, otherwise the material fabric of our universe would have been destroyed many times through the centuries!
My dear fellow believers, I will close simply by saying that my time will have been well spent if this little study accomplishes no more than to cause us to think and be more aware of the purpose of prophetic, apocalyptic speech. And I hope that when we see such imagery used by Jesus or His apostles in the "new testament" Scriptures, and especially in The Book of Revelation, that we use reason and consult our source for such language - the "old testament" Scriptures - so that our imaginations do not run wild, causing us to miss that message, which the language was designed to convey. May The Lord richly bless you with His grace and peace.
What do YOU think ?
Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis
(todd @ preteristarchive.com)
Opened in 1996