Why Left Behind Should Be Left Behind

Why Left Behind Should Be Left Behind

Why "Left Behind" Should Be Left Behind!

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He’s considered to be one of the twenty greatest preachers of all time…

For LEFT BEHIND to be true it has to invent it’s own set of rules for Bible interpretation. What most LEFT BEHIND fans may be shocked to discover is that the pivotal sections of Matthew and Revelation upon which LEFT BEHIND is based was fulfilled by 70AD! And it had to be since that’s what Christ said!

“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
Matthew 24:34 (NKJV)

The highly aclaimed atheist, Bertrand Russell, said this verse alone was enough to discredit both the Bible and Jesus Christ!

Like many evangelical Christians I was raised on a diet of End Times Prophecy. I was told that those who didn’t repent and accept Christ could find themselves in the most gruesome Great Tribulation where people would be randomly executed daily for not accepting “the silicon chip [mark] of the Beast”. The motivation for such a message was to encourage people to accept Christ before the highly imminent “rapture”.

But an examination of what the Bible says about the end times may surprise those who hold to the Dispensational view that God must remove the Church via a secret rapture, then allow a period of tribulation to commence to introduce an “Anti-Christ” who will set himself up in the Third Temple in Jerusalem and then start annihilating Jews and defy the true Christ. But this is heresy! And it this scenario upon which the LEFT BEHIND series is based. But in order for this fanciful interpretation to be true it requires the acceptance of some patently unacceptable hermeneutics (principles of Bible interpretation).

THE LAW OF “DOUBLE REFERENCE”?

With very little effort it can be shown that all of Matthew 24 has been fulfilled. The LEFT BEHIND scholars accept that most of Matthew 24 may have been fulfilled but that the Law of Double Reference demands that it must be fulfilled again. Therefore, although the temple was unquestionably destroyed in AD70, it will be rebuilt and then destroyed again under the rule of the Anti-Christ. This is accepted by dispensationalists even though there is no reference to an Anti-Christ in Matthew 24 or the entire Book of Revelation!

Secondly, there is no reference or indication in Matthew 24 that the events which Jesus foretold would have two fulfilments. In fact, there is no where in Scripture where it teaches a dual fulfilment of any prophecy!

THE DELIBERATE CHANGING OF KEY WORDS!

The Dispensational system requires the changing of key words in Matthew 24 in order to make its highly implausible interpretations have any possibility of acceptance. For example, the use of the word “you” in Matthew 24. Who is “you”? The clear meaning of Matthew 24 is the present disciples. To suggest anyone else is absurd.

Secondly, the meaning of Matthew 24:30-31 is taught as the culminating return of Christ when in fact the text makes no mention of Christ’s return down to earth. In fact, it is a direct quote from Daniel 7 which refers to Christ ascending into the presence of His Father (the Ancient of Days) and receiving the decree to judge Jerusalem. The Matthew 24 text clearly describes the event as the appearing of the Son of Man in the heavens. This is not the final, all culminating return of Christ to Judge all the dead (as described in Revelation 20).

Thirdly, the end of the Age is not the end of the World but the end of the Old Covenant. While it is true that the Cross marks the legal end to the Old Covenant, it wasn’t until the integral elements of the Old Covenant (the Temple, the Sacrifices, and the Priesthood) were done away with in AD70 that the Old Covenant was finally abolished (note Hebrews 8:13).

Fourthly, the term this generation is changed by Dispensationalists to read that generation. Perhaps these people have been singing the Pentecostal song “This is that” and they’ve carried over into their Bible reading! This means “this”. When Jesus said in Matthew 24:34 that “this” generation would not pass away before all these things happened, He didn’t mean “that” generation as Tim LaHaye and other Dispensational advocates teach. If we say that this means that then where do we stop with the rest of the Bible?

Fifthly, the word “world” in Matthew 24:14 is the Greek word for the Roman Empire (Gr. = “oikoumene“), not the whole earth (Gr. = “ge“). When we consider Colossians 1:5-6, 23 we see that Matthew 24 was fulfiled within the lifetime of the generation which Christ was addressing.

THE RAPTURE IS RUBBISH!

The references in Matthew 24 to one being taken and one left, has nothing to do with rapture but refers to the indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the Roman catapault attacks. Josephus describes this. The passage in First Thessalonians 4 has nothing to do with rapture – it is entirely about resurrection! Consider the context of that passage and this will be immediately seen. Once these two key passages are correctly understood, the Dispensational concept of a rapture vaporises.

When Christ does finally return to culminate time (Eph. 1:10) and judge the world (Matt. 25) after the Great and General resurrection (Rev. 20) there will be no Anti-Christ figure challenging Him from a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple situated in a reclaimed Judeo-Palestine at the end of Great Tribulation period. All of this fanciful drama might sell books and form the basis for movies and radio plays, but it has nothing to do with Scripture.

You may like to read my unfolding commentary on the Book of Revelation which explains some of these things in more detail. The first 4 chapters are available online now and the entire audio series is also available for free in our audio section.

THE MOST EMBARRASSING VERSE IN THE BIBLE expounds the entire chapter of Matthew 24 and shows why we can know that it is entirely fulfilled!


READ DR. CORBETT’S MOST EMBARRASSING VERSE eBOOK FOR JUST $AU3.95!

© 2003, Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Rapture Has Ruptured!

Understanding the Book of Revelation

The Difference Between Hyper-Preterism and Preterism

Matthew 24 Exposition – MP3

This, and other such issues, is dealt with more fully in my downloadable ebook on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

I’m on a mission to counter this discrediting of Scripture. It is my mission to help reverse Biblical illiteracy rates and produce resources to help readers understand what they are reading and how to correctly interpret the Scriptures. I opened this article by saying that the issue of eschatology is secondary to how we read and interpret the Scriptures (Hermeneutics). That’s why I’ve made my eBook- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible available for an immediate download. Thousands of people around the world have now read this eBook and many have written to me thanking me and others for promoting a more sound method for reading and interpretting the Bible. I encourage you to download this eBook and read for yourself an alternate view to End Times than the one presented by many of these pop-preachers. When I first released this eBook several years ago I was a bit of a lone voice. But now some big ministries are beginning to say the same things. Most notably is Hank Hanegraaff’s latest book, Unlocking The Apocalypse Code, where he now makes the same assertions. I predict that in the days, weeks, months, years to come, Jesus Christ will be Lord and His Word will be found true and reliable.

Download Dr Corbett’s eBook explaining the Book of Revelation. Thousands have!

Download Dr Corbett’s eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

Amen.

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Is Preterism Biblical?

Is Preterism Biblical?

Is Preterism Biblical?

IS PRETERISM BIBLICAL?
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible

IS PRETERISM BIBLICAL?

Preterism comes the Latin word “praeter” which means “past”. When it comes to understanding Bible prophecy all Christians are Preterists to one degree or another. It is only logical and reasonable to examine the past to see if a prophecy has already been fulfilled. Most Christians would acknowledge that Isaiah 7:14 describing a virgin giving birth has been fulfilled in the past. But not all Christians would agree about the nature of prophecies relating to Christ’s “second coming”. Preterists argue that all of the prophecies relating to Christ’s return (as described in Matthew 24) have already been fulfilled. This contrasts with two other schools of prophecy interpretation.

Essentially there are then three general schools of eschatology:

  • Futurism – the contents of Revelation pertain to the very end of time on earth.

  • Historicism – that the contents of Revelation have unfolded throughout history from the time of its writing to the present day (and beyond).

  • Preterism – before assuming that prophecy is unfulfilled, it is evaluated in the light of the past. That is, how did the original audience understand what was written to them- and what was the original intention of the text.

Within Preterism there are two streams. Both streams identify themselves as “Preterist”. To distinguish between them, two perjorative terms are often employed: Hyper-Preterism, and Partial-Preterism. Full Preterists, also referred to as Hyper-Preterists, or Pantelogists, regard all Bible prophecy fulfilled by 70AD. Those who regard that most prophecy was fulfilled by 70AD (including the Parousia of Christ’s Vindication, the commencement of the Kingdom of Christ, the First Resurrection, but not including the Final Judgment, the banishment of Satan to eternal torment, or the General Resurrection) are referred to as Partial-Preterists or more correctly: Classical Preterists. The proceeding table of comparison between Full-Preterism and Partial Preterism will highight the differences.
 

Criticism of Preterism can be summarised as-

Futurists – claim that Preterism “spiritualises” Bible prophecy rather than taking it literally.
To which Preterists counter that they are actually more literal in their interpretation of Bible prophecy because they strive for the original intention of a passage rather than impose fanciful modern understandings onto an ancient text.
 
Historicists – claim that Preterism was developed by Jesuits in the seventeenth century to counter the growing the Reformation claims that the Papacy was the Anti-Christ.
This is actually one of the weakest methods of debate: attack with innuendo and name calling and ignore the content of the proposition. The roots of Preterism go back to the First Century AD when people clearly saw the events foretold by Christ as having been fulfilled up until the destruction of Jerusalem and Judea in 70AD. The sticking point between Full-Preterists and Partial Preterists is the nature of the Resurrection. Resolve this issue Biblically and you will conclude that one of these two positions is thoroughly Biblical and (while Creeds are not authoritative) in agreement with the earliest Creeds of the Church.
 

A COMPARISON BETWEEN
FULL-PRETERISM (PANTELISM)
&
PARTIAL-PRETERISM (PRETERISM)

FULL PRETERIST
PARTIAL PRETERIST
  • All Bible prophecy is fulfilled (Dan. 9:24)
  • Matthew 24, Revelation 1-19 is fulfilled
  • Matthew 25, Revelation 20-22 unfulfilled
  • The Millennium is a past event which occurred between 26AD and 66AD (40 years from the date of the crucifixion)
  • We are in the “millennium” (Kingdom) now as Christ’s Kingdom is being extended through the preaching of His Gospel
  • The Devil was cast into the Lake of Fire in AD70
  • The Devil is bound now, will seek to deceive the nations and be condemned to the Lake of Fire at the culmination of time
  • The Resurrection is purely spiritual
  • The resurrection is both spiritual and will be physical at the culmination of time
  • All Gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased (1Cor. 13:10)
  • The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are available until the Final Resurrection at the culmination of time.
  • Disagrees with the accepted Creeds of the Church
  • Agrees with the accepted Creeds of the Church
  • Revelation 20 is a reiteration of Revelation 6 – 19
  • Revelation 20 is a continuation, not a reiteration
  • Leads to Universalism
  • Leads to evangelism
 
Why I am not a Full Preterist…
  • There are reasonable grounds for regarding Matthew 24 as being entirely fulfilled, but Matthew 25 as current-and-yet-to-come.
  • There is enough evidence to make a case for Satanic/Demonic activity still today which torpedoes any possibility of Full Preterism being correct. This demands that the “1000 years” of Revelation 20 commences after AD70.
  • All through Revelation up to chapter 19 the Full Preterist rightly argues that the locus foci of God’s judgment was Jerusalem (the seat of wicked Judaism) which is referred to as ”Sodom, Egypt, Bablyon, the Harlot”. But in Rev. 20.9 the locus foci shifts to “the camp of saints” also called “the beloved city”. This contrasts sharply with how the rest of Revelation has described Jerusalem. It is therefore unreasonable to consider Rev. 20:9 as referring to earthly Jerusalem. This demands that Revelation 20 continues on from chapter 19 rather than a reiteration of the vision commenced from chapter 6.
  • Scholars disagree about the exact point in Revelation of Christ’s coming. Some appeal to Revelation 19 which describes the Rider of the White Horse coming in judgment as the coming of Christ to consummate time. Curiously there is no mention of fire in this passage (note 2Thess. 1:8). It is therefore very reasonable to equate the revelation of Christ from Heaven with Rev. 20:9 which describes fire coming down from Heaven.
  • If Full Preterism was obvious to the First Century Christians, most especially the author of the Book of Revelation, John the Apostle, there would reasonably be some written record of this interpretation by them. However, we have no such interpretation promoted by First or Second Century Church Fathers. Yet, we have the record of both Polycarp and Irenaeus who have direct and second degree indirect connection with the Apostle John. What we do find is references from the Ante-Nicean Church Fathers to the expectation that Christ would return, and the God would culminate time with a Judgment Day. We also find supporting references from several Ante-Nicean and Post-Nicean Fathers supporting the Partial (Classical) Preterist position whereby they acknowledge that the destruction of Jerusalem was the fulfilment of Matthew 24.

My views are more fully explained in my eBook, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, where I go through the Book of Revelation and explain it chapter by chapter.

Andrew Corbett

Dating the Authorship of Revelation

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My Third Biggest Pastoral Paradigm Shift

My Third Biggest Pastoral Paradigm Shift

My Third Biggest Pastoral Paradigm Shift

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
First Corinthians 10:11

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As I reflect on my recent 20th pastoral anniversary of Legana Christian Church, I’ve had cause to reflect on three of my most significant pastoral paradigm shifts. I think I was about 17 years of age when I approached my then pastor, Joseph Bowes, to talk about the growing sense of God’s call on my life to pastor. I had assumed that all young men about that age felt a similar call. Pastor Bowes informed me that this was not the case. It was around this time in the 1980s that I first met Pastor Trevor Chandler who had become an annual visitor to our Geelong church (as he came down from Queensland to Victoria for INTERMIN). But this time (the 1980s) was a bizarre time for Bible Prophecy pundits. It was Trevor Chandler who first sowed the seeds into my soul to investigate rather than blindly accept Dispensational Futurism (which was the predominant view in most Evangelical and Pentecostal churches at the time). And I did.

Pastor Trevor ChandlerPastor Trevor ChandlerPastor Trevor Chandler

My investigation has been shaped by a commitment to the four classic principles of hermeneutics and my interactions with a family member involved in a cult. It was these two factors which led me to write two books about Bible Prophecy (the first one published in 2004 and now has sold over 20,000 copies) and hundreds of articles published on my website which have so far received over 1.13 million views. My conclusions about eschatology is the third of my pastoral paradigm-shifts and has greatly enhanced my pastoring. Here’s how.

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 
Hebrews 1:2

I undertook a College course in Eschatology (from the Greek word, eschaton meaning ‘last things’) in 1991. Even though the course was delivered by a ‘Futurist’ College, the course coordinator exposed his students to various views about Bible prophecy. Futurism (refer to the graphic below for a description of these terms) did not fair well under rigorous scrutiny in this course. We were required to read Options In Eschatology by Prof. Millard J. Erickson, and The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Dr. John F. Walvoord. The first book dismantled ‘Pre-Millennial Futurism’ and showed why it lacked Biblical credibility. The second book was about Pre-Millennial Futurism, including a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The course coordinator showed the irreparable problems with Dispensational Pre-Millennial Futurism, but the College required that Dr. Walvoord’s book be read and understood as the position we were required to accept.

After completing this formal study in Eschatology, I had a clearer view of what I didn’t believe than what I did. My doctoral research was largely in Church History. This exposed me to the progress of Christian thought down through the centuries. It became increasingly obvious that what most Christians held to today regarding Bible prophecy, the ancient Christians had never heard of!

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,  and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Revelation 20:2-3 

Dispensationalism is a way of looking at the Bible. It divides the Bible in a series of dispensations of time and attributes a different means of salvation within each dispensation. Under the Dispensation of Law, a person was saved by keeping the Law. Under the Dispensation of Grace, a person is saved by faith in the finished work of Christ. The idea of Dispensationalism at first sounds reasonable. But as I became increasingly familiar with Church History and the art and science of Hermeneutics (how we interpret the Bible), I found Dispensationalism (which most Pentecostals hold to) untennable. On both counts, I found that Dispensationalism appealed to Church History by reinterpretting it. For example, Jerome (347 – 420 A.D.) used a Latin word that sounds like ‘rapture’ in English, and this was used to justify the Rapture doctrine. Biblically Ezekiel refers to a people which in Hebrew sounds like ‘Rosh’ which Dispensationalists claim refers to modern day ‘Russia’.

A graphic taken from one Dispensational website

When I began to dig a little deeper I found that even the verses used to support the idea of a ‘rapture’ were generally about either the Roman bombardment of Jerusalem where random people would be killed (and the Jewish Historian, Josephus, describes) or the final resurrection. But the most disturbing aspect of Dispensationalism was its dependence on its new ways of interpretting the Bible. For its interpretation to work, it had to invent some new ‘laws’ of interpretation including, The Law of Double Reference also called, The Rule of Dual Fulfilment. One proof-text is offered in support of this: Isaiah 7:14 “Behold the virgin shall conceive”. It is claimed that this was first fulfilled with Isaiah the Prophet’s wife, then again with the Virgin Mary. But there are some serious problems with this idea. Firstly, there is no hint in Scripture that Isaiah’s wife was the intended fulfilment of this prophecy (and I strongly doubt that she was a virgin!) and there is a plain statement in Matthew 1:21 that Mary of Nazareth was the (not “a”) fulfilment of the Isaiah prophecy. But this novel rule/law of Bible interpretation is the foundational principle for the belief that God has merely suspended His Old Covenant with Israel and temporarily instigated a New Covenant with the Church. Dispensationalism claims that God has two existing covenants with two groups of people- (i) Israel, and (ii) The Church.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29 

While I was grappling with all this, my father inlaw died suddenly. I was asked to take the funeral. I had had many conversations with my Hungarian father-inlaw about spiritual things and had met with deep resistance. After the funeral, my mother-inlaw, who I deeply appreciate, expressed her hope that my father-inlaw would be given a second chance to turn to Christ in the Millennial Kingdom on Earth. She had long been persuaded by the teachings of Charles Taze Russell (the founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society). This led to me trying to have a genial written conversation with her about this aspect of Eschatology. Every time I tried to discuss the applicable Scriptures with her, I met with a novel way of interpreting the Scriptures which seemed to take the plain meaning of the text and twist it into an entirely different meaning. This led me to appeal to the classic principles of Bible interpretation.

It was at this point in the ongoing discussions with the my mother-inlaw as we were discussing the finer aspects of Matthew 24, that I realised I was doing the very thing that I was accusing my mother-inlaw of doing: I was reading into the text of Scripture rather than listening to what the text was intending to give out.

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Matthew 24:34

It was Matthew 24:34 which drove this error home to me. I had been taught to read this verse as if it was saying “that” generation, rather than what it actually says – “this” generation. The ramifications of this straight-forward reading are immense and were not lost on the most vocal atheist of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell, when he was debating C.S. Lewis about Christianity. It was this verse which he used to describe Jesus as either a mere mortal who was deluded, or as a manipulative con-artist who was deceptive. This led C.S. Lewis to essentially concede the debate and later comment about this verse-

I find this the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.
C.S. Lewis

I spent a lot of time researching this verse and trying to reconcile how Jesus could be God in the flesh yet so wrong in His prophecy recorded in this verse. Coincidentally, I also began my series on the Book of Revelation (around 2002). I was determined to only take out of these Scriptures what God had intended to be taken out. I would use the first four principles of hermeneutics and try keep my preconceived ideas out of the text. And while I was working through this huge problem with Matthew 24:34 I was discovering a whole set of new problems with the Book of Revelation if we merely apply the principles of sound hermeneutics to it.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Revelation 1:3

Exactly the same “problem” occurs in reading the Book of Revelation as occurs in Matthew 24. I had been taught that when Revelation used language like, “soon”, “near”, “at hand”, “now”, “this hour”, it actually didn’t mean it. In fact, what it actually meant was exactly the opposite to these words mean! The only reason plausible for doing this was that a plain reading of the text didn’t fit the Dispensational (Futurist) paradigm! I was resolute to research Biblical eschatology exegetically (taking out of the text only what was originally put into it) rather than eisegetically(reading things into the text). Here’s what I discovered, and why it became my biggest pradigm-shift.

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MATTHEW 24

Matthew 24 was a conversation between Jesus and His disciples on the Mount of Olives. Hence, it is referred to as The Olivet Discourse. The discples point out the Temple to Jesus and how impressive it was. But Jesus dismisses this and declares that it will be dismantled stone by stone. In utter dismay, the disciples ask three questions: (i) When will this happen? (ii) What will be the sign of Your ‘coming’ (Greek word, parousia)? (iii) When will this age (Greek word, aionos) end? Understanding these three questions is essential to understanding this chapter. Jesus proceeds to answer to each question. Consider that. He answered, in detail, each of the three questions. If I was preaching this point right now, I would labour it! And the reason I would do so is because there are some who suggest that after Jesus has answered their questions He then declared that He didn’t really know the answers because He was speaking out of His humanity, not His divinity! I find this opinion of Christ in Matthew 24 nearly blasphemous. (I explain why in this YouTube video.) I would also point out what the disciples asked, not what we think the disciples asked.

¶ As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

1. When will these things be? Jesus gives detailed descriptions of what was about to happen and then plainly stated the answer to this question: this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place (Matt. 24:34). A Biblical ‘generation’ is 40 years. If we consider that Jesus spoke these words in 30AD, He has just plainly stated all these things would be fulfilled by 70AD.

2. What will be the sign of Your coming? Note that the disciples did not ask- When will You return? The Greek word hupostrepho is the word they would have used if they had asked, “When will You return?” But instead, they asked When will You ‘parousia’? This word means, reveal, appear, come, but specifically in this context it means, to come in judgment. The disciples had good reason to ask When will You come to judge? because the destruction of the Temple was the pinnacle of God’s judgment on Israel in the Old Testament. This is the climax of the Book of Jeremiah.

3. What will be the sign of the end of the age? Despite the King James Version translating this word as “world”, the disciples did not ask Jesus When will the end of the world be? Jesus has just said that the Temple would be destroyed and the immediate question from the disciples was, When will this (Temple) age end? 

A part of Christ’s answer was that the sun would be darkened, the moon will not give forth its light, and the stars would fall from the sky (Matt. 24:29). Using the hermeneutical principles of Scripture interpretting Scripture we note that in Genesis 37:9 Joseph dreamed a dream about the sun, moon and stars bowing down to him and this was immediately interpretted as the Israel and his family. Later the prophet Isaiah in describing Israel’s rebellion would say that the sun, moon, and stars no longer shine their light (Isaiah 13:10), and Ezekiel would describe rebellious Israel as having their light “blotted out” so God says –

“I will cover the heavens
and make their stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
and the moon shall not give its light.”

Ezekiel 32:7

And Joel says-

The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.

Joel 3:15 

What many may not realise is that when Jesus says, Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the Heavens (Matt. 24:30), that He was referring to Daniel 7:13, where it foretells of the Son of Man coming “up” on the clouds of Heaven (not “down”). The expression “the Lord is coming”, often associated with His glory depicted as “clouds” was used throughout the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 19:1-

¶ An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

 

The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible, eBookThus, Jesus was not talking about His return to resurrect and judge the world (described in Matthew 25), but was describing His judgment on Jerusalem and the abolishing of the Old Covenant (the Temple, the Priesthood, and the sacrifices), which were indeed done away with in 70AD when the Romans destroyed Temple stone by stone just as Jesus had said. If you’re interesting in learning more about this, I wrote a book about it! It’s available either as an eBook, or as a paperback.

 

READING THE BIBLE LITERALLY

One of the most obvious problems with Dispensational Futurism is that its predictions based on its interpretations have consistently been wrong. This undermines the credibility of the Bible in the minds of some. As a pastor, I want those whom God has charged me to shepherd to have good reasons to have confidence in the Bible so that when life’s storms and difficulties come, they will find the comfort and peace of God in the words of Scripture. To achieve this I need to help my congregation to understand how to read the Bible. The goal is to read the Bible literally. But there are two types of literal reading. The first is  wooden literal where no allowance is made for metaphors, synedoches, idioms, allegories, parables, poetry, apocalyptic symbolism, perspectives, hyperboles, or narratives. The other type of literal is intended literal. This is where allowance is made for these types of literature and the goal is to discover what the author intended – not what the words the author used could mean.

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBookA few years after my Understanding The Book of Revelation had been released, one interested reader in it (The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible) flew from Brisbane to Launceston to discuss it with me. For him, its contents were not merely theoretical. As I explained in The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible what the future holds for the believer according to the Book of Revelation, especially in the life to come, he shared with just why this was so important to him. He was dying! He had drawn great comfort from discovering that everything in the first 19 chapters of Revelation had been fulfilled whichgave him confidence that the remaining chapters would similarly be fulfilled. But, as this book had been out for a few years, he wanted to personally check if I still stood by its contents. I did and I do. This illustrates the immediate pastoral application of sound eschatology grounded in equally sound hermeneutics. This view is known as Preterism (as distinct from Full-Preterism which regards allprophecy as being fulfilled).

But this paradigm-shift came at a price. I was no longer able to hold ordination with the denomination I was serving in due to their emphatic Futurist Eschatological stance. However, it has been more than compensated for with untold dividends as many people have come to see why we have good reasons to believe what the God of the Bible has said in His Word. As I reflect on each of my three biggest pastoral paradigm-shifts, they have each arisen from a deep desire to faithfully serve God and His people by being faithful to His Word.

¶ I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Second Timothy 4:1-4

 Andrew Corbett

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New Heavens And New Earth

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He’s considered to be one of the twenty greatest preachers of all time…

New Heavens And New Earth

An Explanation of what the Bible means by, ‘A New Heaven And New Earth’ by Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Bible’s Prophetic Program Culminates With “A New Heaven and A New Earth”. What might this mean? What are the implications of this? Does it have bearing on how we live today?

The Bible culminates its pages with the announcement that there will one day be a “new heaven and a new earth”.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Revelation 21:1

But what does this mean? The implications of how we understand this Bible prophecy are slightly enormous. I was recently discussing with another pastor some issue of concern we shared about a potential environmental hazzard. I ventured that we needed to take some action. He responded by expressing doubts that a pastor could achieve any change. Then he said, “…besides, this earth will soon pass away soon since the Bible says a ‘new earth’ is coming, so ultimately it doesn’t really matter!” How we understand what the Bible means when it refers to a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ may well determine how we treat our ‘existing’ earth and the type of legacy we will leave for generations to come.

 

THE BIBLICAL EXPRESSION OF ‘HEAVEN & EARTH’…

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”
Isaiah 65:17

New Heaven and EarthThe context of the latter portion of Isaiah is the coming new covenant. Within this context the Lord speaks of creating a new heaven and a new earth. The expression heavens and earth seems to speak of God’s relationship with mankind. He is the God of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 14:19; Ezra 5:11). Actually he is the God of the entire cosmos- but the expression heaven and earth emphasises His connection to mankind. And the expression heaven and earth may well refer to the covenant God has with mankind. When the Lord speaks of a new heaven and a new earth there may be some merit in regarding this as Biblical language for a new covenant.

This suspicion is increased when we consider how Christ used this expression as well.

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matthew 5:18

Since Christ fulfilled the Law, was He right in stating that heaven and earth passed away? If we regard the expression ‘heaven and earth’ as referring to God’s covenant with mankind, then this statement makes perfect sense. It seems that Christ was therefore saying that Once the Old Covenant is fulfilled it will be done away with and replaced by a new covenant.

Hebrews 8:13 says that the Old Covenant became obsolete at the Cross, but it was still to be done away with. Since we now know that the Book of Revelation was written around 64AD (just after the Epistle to the Hebrews, which referred to the Old Covenant as still being in existence – note Hebrews 8:13) Revelation’s announcement of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ was perhaps announcing that a change in covenant-order was pending.

 

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS…

New JerusalemThe closing announcement of the Bible of a coming new heaven and new earth does have some future implications. But if we are conditioned into thinking only in terms of geography we may completely miss the point of what being in covenant with God is all about. “Heaven” is not so much about a location as it is about a relationship! Dieing and going to heaven is not merely about a change in location but a blessing due to a covenant relationship with God. The most important thing you could do with your life now is not merely to prepare for heaven, but to ensure that you have entered into a relationship with God. It is a misrepresentation of Christianity to think that Christ died so that people could go to heaven- He died so that people could be forgiven of their sin and enter into a covenant relationship with God!

Could the picture of a new heaven and a new earth in the Book of Revelation be describing a coming new physical reality? Perhaps. But we have some Biblical precendent for regarding it as an expression of God’s covenant relationship with mankind. Reading this closing passage of the Bible reveals that a time is coming for God’s elect when nothing will hinder their relationship with God.

Therefore, while there may be future physical implications of this Biblical prophecy, there might not be. This is why those who regard other verses, such as Psalm 78:69, as speaking of God having creating the earth to last-

He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.

Psalm 78:69

If God has created the earth to last ‘forever’ we might need to abandon our ‘disposable earth’ theology and have a rethink about how Christians can be stewards not just exploiters of our environment. That’s why our interpretation of this prophetic passage has such dire consequences if we get it wrong.

This, and other such issues, is dealt with more fully in my downloadable ebook on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

© Dr. Andrew Corbett, 2014, Legana, Tasmania

 

Could we be in the ‘End Times’?

Could We Be In The Biblical End Times?

Wars, earthquakes, floods, and famines have long been considered the traits of what many believe to be the Biblical description of the “end times”. Added to this is what many understand to be the predictions of increased apostasy, the rise in persecution, the deterioration of society’s morals, and the increased compromise and lukewarmness of the Church. And surely, if these are the characteristics of what the Bible describes as the last days, we must be in the last days, right? But are we? And if we are, so what? And if we aren’t, then what? But are we in what the Bible describes as the ‘end times’? 

¶ But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”
Second Timothy 3:1

WHAT ARE THE “END TIMES”?

End TimesThe expression “end times” is used by Christians to describe a brief period immediately preceding the return of Christ to earth. The expression, however, does not actually occur in the Bible. Rather, expressions such as “the last days”, “end of the age” are regarded as synonyms for “end times”. The Bible presents a picture of our world as being subject to God’s redemptive plan which climaxed in the coming to earth of the eternal Son of God as one of us and will culminate one day when He returns to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 20:12).

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Second Peter 3:3

 

SIGNS OF THE “END TIMES”

NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural Distasters a sign of the end times?The Bible describes the last days as having turbulent natural disasters such as earthquakes (Matt. 24:7). Some assume that this is a category header for floods, storms, cyclones, and droughts. Strange weather patterns are regarded as a sign of the end times by some.

 

SCOFFERS

Jude 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
Jude 18

Many end-times Bible teachers believe that the rise of scoffers – those who mock Christianity and Christian values is a sign of the end times. They then interpret the rise of “deconstructionism” (the term used by social engineers to describe the deconstructional of Christian values from a culture’s social norms) to be a sure sign that we are in the last days.

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Second Peter 3:3

Thus, the push for such non-life policy agendas such as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex-marriage, man-boy love, eugenics, gendercide, are regarded as more or less being inevitable because they are supposedly prophesied in the Bible as being a last days push against God’s laws.

 

APOSTASY

¶ Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
1Tim. 4:1 

Apostasy is when believers forsake the faith. Many “end times” preachers interpret the New Testament as predicting that in the last days before the return of Christ that the Church will dwindle and decline. In some extreme cases, this understanding is used to justify a lack of evangelism or any attempt to grow the Church.

 

COULD WE BE IN THE END TIMES NOW?

Based on the above criteria it would seem so. But there are some serious problems with these assertions. The immediate problem is a hermeneutical. None of the Scriptures behind any of these assertions prophesy the end of the world, or the conditions of the last days before Christ returns. The expression “last days” in the New Testament referred to the last days of the Old Covenant. I have already stated that the expression “end times” does not occur in the Bible. When we understand that Christ made the Old Covenant obsolete when He established the New Covenant from the Cross, we can appreciate that the obsolete Old Covenant was in its last days when the New Testament was being written.

¶ In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13 

The Old Covenant involved a priesthood, sacrifices, temple ceremonies, and ritual laws. In Matthew 24 Jesus revealed what would happen leading up to the end of the Old Covenant. It involved the destruction of the Temple which necessarily meant the end of the sacrifices, the end of the priesthood, and obviously the end of temple rituals.

The next problem with these assertions that we must be in the end times before Christ returns) is an exegetical one. That is, how each of these verses are interpretted in light of their context. For example, the prophecy in First Timothy 4:1 regarding “some” falling away from the faith is more likely to pertain to Jewish Christians who lost confidence in Jesus as the Christ and returned to Judaism. Afterall, this is the very reason why the Epistle to the Hebrews was written!

And the most alarming problem with these assertions is the damage to the credibility of Christianity and our Gospel. I have written an article listing some of the end-times claims made throughout history which have been proven wrong each time. These faulty prophetic assertions undermine the credibility of the Gospel in the minds of people. Added to this damage is the apathy it creates in those who should be living salt and light in a society to the end that more people come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Christ will one day return. But in the meantime we shouldn’t be preoccupied with whenthis might be since what we are commanded to do before He returns is so obvious. I speak more about this in my book The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible and discuss how we might best understand the Book of Revelation in my eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

 

Was Jesus Ignorant?

Was Jesus Ignorant?

Was Jesus Ignorant? It is argued that Jesus as God Incarnate sometimes only operated out of limited human knowledge! Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, December 29th 2011

Was Jesus Ignorant?

Take a Bible College Course on Jesus Christ (called “Christology”) and eventually you will study the incarnation of Christ and explore how His Divine and Human natures formed a union. The mystery of how God became man is further magnified when it is supposed that although Christ possessed all of the Divine attributes (immutability, eternality, omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence) He was at times not utilizing His Divine nature and instead speaking from His limited Human nature. In this way, it is argued, Christ was actually ignorant of certain things. The most common proof-text to support this doctrine is Matthew 24:36-

¶ “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Matthew 24:36

This verse is similarly stated in the Gospel of Mark (13:32). On the surface it appears that Christ is pleading ignorant about the timing of His parousia (“coming”). If so, how could an omniscient Being be ignorant of anything? This apparent conundrum is resolved by appealing to Christ’s two natures (Divine and Human) and reasoning that there this is an instance when Christ spoke from His human nature (limited in knowledge) rather than His Divine nature (omniscient). But this explanation creates more problems than it attempts to solve. Respected Bible Commentator, Adam Clarke, who published his commentary on the Bible between 1810-1826, recognized the weakness of this “two natures” explanation-

This clause is not found either in Matthew or Luke; and Ambrose says it was wanting in some Greek copies in his time. To me it is utterly unaccountable, how Jesus, who knew so correctly all the particulars which he here lays down, and which were to a jot and tittle verified by the event-how he who knew that not one stone should be left on another, should be ignorant of the day and hour when this should be done, though Daniel, Dan. ix. 24, &c., could fix the very year, not less than five hundred years before it happened: how he in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, should not know this small matter, I cannot comprehend, but on this ground, that the Deity which dwelt in the man Christ Jesus might, at one time, communicate less of the knowledge of futurity to him than at another. However, I strongly suspect that the clause was not originally in this Gospel. Its not being found in the parallel places in the other evangelists is, in my opinion, a strong presumption against it.
Adam Clarke

Adam Clarke makes an astute exegetical observation that is too frequently overlooked or ignored by others. It is supposed that Christ has just spent the better part of Matthew 24 describing the events leading up to His parousia and in particular when it would happen – then He sweeps it all away with verse 36 and says that He doesn’t really know when it would happen! It should be obvious that there are more problems createdthan solved by claiming that Christ switched between His Human and Divine consciousnesses. It is an unnecessary and clumsy attempt to make sense of this statement, “nor the Son”.

 

CHRIST’S DIVINE NATURE

When the Second Person of the Trinity became man (John 1:14), He laid aside His glory but not His divinity. This is called the kenosis (“the emptying” Philippians 2:7). Thus, even in Christ’s Incarnation He could exercise Divine prerogatives (such as- control over nature, reading the thoughts of others, multiplying food) and receive Divine honour such as worship and prayerful petitions.

As Christ pre-Incarnate, He was not only omniscient and omnipotent, but also omnipresent. As Christ Incarnate He obviously retained the former two traits but His human body was not omnipresent (although arguably Christ, the Logos mysteriously maintained this during His incarnation). Christ’s humanity meant that Christ experienced human limitations while maintaining His divinity. He could thirst, hunger, and tire (John 19:28; Matt. 4:2; John 4:6).

Similarly, it is reasoned that the omniscient Christ could be “ignorant” if He chose to be – by only using His human consciousness. This idea is largely based on these dubious “nor the Son” passages (Matt. 24:36; Mark 13:32). But Luke 2:52 (¶ And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and with people) is also cited to support the idea that Jesus alternated between His Divine and Human natures when it came to knowing or not knowing certain things. But this verse should not be used to support this theory because it simply refers to Christ growing in a normal human fashion, not that He was ignorant.

This apparent tension between Christ’s Divine and Human natures was the basis of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) which determined that Christ had one unique nature that did not diminish either His divine or human nature. They admitted that this was a mystery and called it the Hyperstatic Union of Christ. This Council’s Creedal Statement has generally been accepted by all sectors of the Church. But the implications of this Statement rule out the notion that Christ had some kind of split-personality.

 

ONLY THE FATHER “KNOWS”

Adam Clarke’s simple explanation that “nor the Son” does not appear in any the ancient Gospel accounts lends itself most naturally to conform to orthodox, Biblical theology about Christ. Some have realised that even if this variant text was accepted as part of the original Canon, it creates an additional Pneumatological (the study of the Holy Spirit) problem since it must not only be conceded that the Son was ignorant of certain things, because of the statement “only the Father knows”, the Holy Spirit must similarly be ignorant. While Christ’s apparent ignorance could be clumsily explained away by appealing to His two ‘minds’ (human or divine), the same trick cannot be applied to the Holy Spirit.

Once again, Adam Clarke offers a very natural and simple solution to this conundrum. He cites the work of Dr. Macknight. The word “know” in this verse is not the usual “ginosko” (such as Mark 13:29; Luke 19:44), rather it is the word, “eido”.

But Dr. Macknight, and others, solve this difficulty in the following manner. They suppose the verb oiden to have the force of the Hebrew conjugation Hiphel, in which verbs are taken in a causative, declarative, or permissive sense; and that it means here, make known, or promulge, as it is to be understood in 1 Cor. ii. 2. This intimates that this secret was not to be made known, either by men or angels, no, not even by the Son of man himself; but it should be made known by the Father only, in the execution of the purposes of his justice. I am afraid this only cuts the knot, but does not untie it.

What Dr. Macknight is pointing out is that the word ginosko tends to be used of know by general knowledge and the word eido is used of know because you’ve been authorized to be told. That is, in Matthew 24:36 and Luke 13:33, Christ is saying that He is not authorised to be more specific. It must be acknowledged that what Christ foretold in Matthew 24 and recorded similarly in Mark 13 was fulfilled in precise detail at precisely the time Christ said it would be.

The ApocalypseIt seems that Christ is saying that future eschatological events are determinedby the Father and that Christ is authorized to tell this much and no more. By understanding the text in this light there are no hermeneutical problems created, no Christological undermining, no unintended Pneumatological problems created, and everything we know about God, His Son, His Mission, and divine omniscience is preserved with integrity.

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