eschatology, Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, Responding to the Critics

Seal Vision and Prophecy and the Manifest Desperation of Sam Frost – #4- “It is Not For You To Know The Times and Seasons” Acts 1:6- Part 1

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Seal Up Vision and Prophecy – The Manifest Desperation of Sam Frost- #4
It is Not For You to Know The Times and the Seasons – Acts 1:6f – Part 1

According to Sam Frost’s newly found and ever changing theology, when the disciples asked Jesus “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”, and Jesus responded, “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father has put under His own authority”, this supposedly means that Jesus was telling them that they could not know anything about the time for the establishment of the kingdom. That knowledge was sealed up, says Frost, and will not be known until the actual end comes. And of course, Frost denies the multitudinous NT statements by those very apostles, who received the Holy Spirit from the Father – who knew the Day and the Hour of the coming of the Kingdom, the parousia and the judgment– who inspired them to say “The end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7). Be sure to read our previous installment on the Revelatory Spirit and the NT times statements.

Does actual exegesis support Frost’s claim, or is he guilty of just “proof-texting” i.e. taking Biblical comments out of their proper holistic context? It is easily demonstrated that Frost’s appeal to Acts 1:6 is a glaring example of proof-texting. Dispensationalists appeal to Acts 1 to prove that the disciples were expecting the restoration of national Israel. Frost is trying to prove that Jesus was saying that knowledge of the time of the establishment of the kingdom was now locked up, unknown and unknowable. The truth is that Acts 1 proves that the kingdom was on the cusp of being almost immediately established (born if you please); this is undeniable.

To establish my point, we need to look closer at Acts 1:4-8 and what Jesus said:

 

Seal Up Vision and Prophecy – A Look at What Acts 1:6 Actually Says

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Pay particular attention to what Jesus said: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” This is where Frost begins and ends for all practical purposes. But, that is lifting Jesus’ words out of their context and ignoring the significance of what he said before and after those words.

In verses 1-4 we are told that Jesus showed himself alive for forty days, “speaking to them (his disciples) of the kingdom.” So, the backdrop for the disciples’ question is actually the discussion of the kingdom that had been going on for forty days and now, they ask when it will take place. But, it was not just that earlier discussion of the kingdom that led to their question. No, it was Jesus’ promise that in just a few days they were to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit as promised by John the Baptizer.

Verse 5 contains that promise of the Spirit, and verse 6 begins with “therefore, when they were come together” and the disciples then ask about when the kingdom was to be established. That “therefore” lets us know that the disciples’ question is directly related to Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit.

There is no disconnect here from his previous teaching about the kingdom. No, it is a direct connection between Jesus’ promise of the Spirit and the disciple’s question about the kingdom.

Why is this so important? It is significant because in OT prophecy, the out pouring of the Spirit would be in the last days before the Day of the Lord, and, it would be for the purpose of establishing the kingdom! So, while a non-critical “proof-text” reading of the text might seem to lend some credence to the idea that Jesus was telling the disciples that they could not know the time for the establishment of the kingdom, the truth is that he was telling them that the time for the kingdom – the time foretold by the OT prophets and the time known by the Father – had come! They were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in just a few days, and that could mean only one thing – the time for the kingdom to be established was truly near. It was at hand!

Seal Up Vision and Prophecy – The Last Days Work of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom

Let me demonstrate then that the promise of the out pouring of the Spirit was the promise of the establishment of the kingdom.

Isaiah 32:1f:

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, And princes will rule with justice. A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, And a cover from the tempest, As rivers of water in a dry place, As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The eyes of those who see will not be dim, And the ears of those who hear will listen. Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge, And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.

Then, in verses 12-18 we find this:

“People shall mourn upon their breasts For the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city; Because the palaces will be forsaken, The bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks— Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,”

Two quick points:

1. This passage is directly parallel with Hosea 3:4-5:

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.”

Hosea and Isaiah both foretold the restoration of Israel, the establishment of the kingdom in the last days when the Spirit out be poured out and “David” would sit on the throne (cf. Isaiah 32:1-2). On this last point, note that in Acts 2:29f Peter unequivocally affirmed that Christ had been raised from the dead to sit on the throne of David. Thus, Peter was affirming that the “times and the seasons” for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel had arrived! He was not – as Frost would have us believe – saying that the time for the rule of Messiah was unknown and unknowable!

Hosea also promised the restoration of the “ephod.” The ephod was the means by which YHVH communicated with the people through the priests. It was His means of revelation to the people. To put it another way, the restoration of the “ephod” was the restoration of the revelatory Holy Spirit! That ephod – the revelatory Spirit – (we might say the prophetic Spirit) would be restored in the last days. To fully appreciate what Hosea, Isaiah and Jesus were promising, we must understand the significance of Jesus’ promise of the imminent out pouring of the Spirit.

In Hebraic thought, for literally hundreds of years, evidently shortly after the writing of Malachi, the Jews believed that the Spirit had departed from Israel. The prophetic office had ended and would not return until the last days. When He would return and through the restoration of the prophetic office, beginning with Elijah, the Kingdom would be restored. This is recognized among the scholars.

Seal Vision and Prophecy- The Return of The Holy Spirit in the Last Days

David Aune said the Rabbis believed that “when the last prophets died,–(Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)–the holy spirit ceased in Israel” (David Aune, Prophecy in Early Christianity, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1983), 103).

Samuel Waldron, citing Josephus, The Talmud, and the book of Maccabees. documents how the Jews believed that inspiration of the Spirit had ceased with Malachi. (Sam Waldron, To Be Continued, (New York; Calvary Press Publications, 2005), 55f).

D. S. Russell says the Jews believed the spirit of prophecy had ceased during the inter-testamental period. “Prophecy had ceased in Israel.” (D. S. Russell, Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, Westminster Press, 1964), 78f).

George Eldon Ladd says, “Israel had a sense that the Spirit had departed after Malachi”, “Inter-testamental literature bears witness to a consciousness of the loss of the Spirit.” (George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans , 1974), 343).

C. Marvin Pate adds, “From the post exilic period on, Judaism complained about the cessation of the Spirit and prophecy, eagerly awaiting their return in the age to come (Ps. 74:9; Lam. 2:9; Zech. 13:4-5; Mal. 4:5).” (Marvin Pate, The End of the Ages Has Come, (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1995), 150).

Finally, although we could multiple this kind of quote, Donald Hagner offers:
“John (The Baptizer, DKP) symbolizes the breaking of centuries of prophetic silence recognized by the Jews themselves (cf. Macc 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). Here then is a new thing: a voice from God out of the silence, self-authenticating by its power and message, as well as by its unusual mediator. Prophecy appears again in the midst of Israel, the people of God.” (Donald Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary on Matthew 11:14, Vol. 33, (Dallas; Word Publishers, 1993), 49).

So, Israel believed that the prophetic Spirit had departed from Israel after the writing of Malachi, but, that the Spirit would return in the last days to usher in the kingdom and the resurrection. We can begin to see how important Acts 1- and actually, the ministry of John as Elijah – and his promise of the out pouring of the Spirit – truly was!

2. Another point to be noted, specifically about Isaiah 32, is Paul’s application of it. We find this in Galatians 5:22f:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Paul had just warned that those who live after the flesh would not “inherit the kingdom.” In contrast, he said that those in Christ would manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and that fruit is a direct echo of Isaiah 32. But remember that Isaiah spoke of the work of the Spirit in the days of the restoration of the kingdom when the king would reign in righteousness – in the kingdom!

Was Paul confused? How could he know that the the kingdom was present – witnessed by the miraculous gifts of the Spirit to establish, confirm and perfect the kingdom (Galatians 3:1-4) – if knowledge of when the kingdom was to be established was sealed up, locked up and unknowable? The presence of the Spirit was an indisputable sign and proof that “the times and the seasons” of the kingdom had arrived!

Paul was living in the very days foretold by Isaiah 32. He knew that the kingdom had been established (Colossians 1:13) even if he realized it had not yet been perfected (Ephesians 4:8-16). He knew – if he wrote Hebrews – that the first century saints were, “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). As we saw in the last installment, he and the first century saints “knew” that the hour had come for the resurrection, awaking out of sleep (Romans 13:11f). They knew “The Day has drawn near” – they knew that the Day of Salvation was at hand!

In other words, the early disciples knew when the kingdom began, and they knew that “the end,” the consummation was near– “The time has come for the judgment” i.e. the judgment of the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5-17). Of course, Frost tells us that they did not and could not know that time. That simply proves that Frost is wrong.

So, while Frost claims that Jesus’ words about the times and the seasons of the establishment of the kingdom was a statement that the time was unknown and unknowable, Jesus’ allusion to the ministry and message of John, who was Elijah representing the return of the prophetic Spirit, and his promise that the Spirit would be poured out on them in just a few days, was tantamount to telling them that they were living in the last days. They were living in the days for the establishment of the kingdom. The time had come! In fact, it was to begin “not many days hence.” Likewise, Paul’s affirmation that the kingdom had been born, that the Spirit was empowering the church until the parousia (1Corinthians 1:4-8) – which of course he taught was to be in the lifetime of the Corinthians – all go to utterly falsify Frost’s claims. Contra Frost, Paul never expressed, either explicitly or implicitly that he was in the dark about the timing of the end, the time of the full arrival of the kingdom in power and great glory.

Only by ignoring the direct relationship between the ministry and message of John as Elijah, the prophecies of the last days out pouring of the Spirit to establish the kingdom and restore Israel, and Jesus’ promise of the imminent fulfillment of those promises, can one even remotely begin to claim that Acts 1 was a statement about the “unknowability” of the time for the establishment of the kingdom. The return of the Spirit – in John as Elijah – meant that the time foretold by the OT prophets for the “restoration of the kingdom” was near! And Jesus’ words about the disciples receiving the Spirit in Jerusalem in just a few days was likewise an incredibly powerful and irrefutable statement that the “times and the seasons” that the Father knew, were now on the cusp of realization.

Seal Vision and Prophecy: Sam Frost in Denial of the Biblical Testimony

It is painfully but undeniably clear that Frost has ignored this entire context.

He has ignored the fact that the entire context of Acts 1 is about the kingdom, the establishment of the kingdom, the preaching of the kingdom, the empowerment of the kingdom! In my book, Into All The World, Then Comes The End, I document that the pattern of motifs found in Acts 1 match perfectly with the pattern in the Olivet Discourse, in the “section” that Frost would now (it seems) apply to the time and events leading up to AD 70.

In Matthew 24:4-34, we find the Preaching (v. 14- see Acts 1:8), the Power (the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, Mark 13:9– Acts 1:5f), the Persecution (24:9f; Mark 13:9f- see Acts 1:8) and the Parousia (24:30-31- Acts 1:9). Each of those tenets in Matthew 24 would occur in that first century generation consummating in the coming of Christ in AD 70. We find this same pattern in Acts 1, which demands that the parousia of Acts 1 was to be in that first century generation.

Frost has ignored the OT prophecies that link the out pouring of the Spirit and the restoration of the kingdom.

He has ignored the identity of John as Elijah and his role in “the restoration of all things.”( For an in-depth study of the incredible importance of John as Elijah, see my book Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27).

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He has ignored the direct connection between Jesus’ promise of the Spirit- in fulfillment of John’s promise – and the disciples’ question.

He has ignored virtually every word of the context of Acts 1:6- i.e. the words before and after that verse – and lifted out a few words that he thinks support his new, ever evolving theology. He is guilty of the worst sort of proof-texting.

He has ignored what Paul said about the presence of the kingdom, the temporary operation of the charismatic gifts until the Day of the Lord, and that the consummation was near.

He has ignored the indisputable fact that the NT writers said, repeatedly and emphatically that they knew what time it was – and that the end was near.

This will become increasingly clear as we proceed in our examination of Acts 1 in which we will examine Jesus’ reference to the promise of John the Baptizer regarding the kingdom. Simply stated, what John said about the kingdom falsifies Sam Frost!

Stay tuned.