The Passing of the Law of Moses – Sam Frost’s Growing Desperation – #4

passing of the law of moses- Don K. Preston's book is a powerful discussion!
The Passing of the Law of Moses is revealed as the time of the passing of Israel’s “heaven and earth.”

The Passing of the Law of Moses – Sam Frost’s Growing Desperation #4

What About Isaiah 24-25?

In his most recent attempt to negate the truth of Covenant Eschatology, Sam Frost wrote an article on Matthew 5:17-18, seeking to mitigate the force of the text. Frost argued that Jesus did in fact say that until every jot and every tittle of the Old Covenant is fulfilled, it will not pass away. He said that every jot and every tittle will be fulfilled at the passing of the literal, material heaven and earth. Thus, the Old Covenant will not pass away– and we will share Frost’s idiosyncratic view on what not “passing away” means in a later article– the Old Law will remain. He claimed, without so much as offering a syllable of proof, that the Old Testament predicts the passing of material creation. Since this is clearly a foundational element of Frost’s claim, I am examining the key OT prophecies of the passing of “heaven and earth” to show that they simply do not support Frost’s claims.

In our previous article we examined Psalms 102, which in my personal experience is the text most often appealed to by futurists for proof of a yet future end of time OT prediction. The reason it is the most often cited OT prophecy for the passing of heaven and earth is because it is quoted in Hebrews 1:10. But, as that article shows, Psalms says not one word about the passing of the literal creation!
The fact is that there are no OT prophecies that can be construed as predictive of the passing of heaven and earth, without completely ignoring or distorting the context of those prophecies. The next prophecy for us to examine is proof of that.

Isaiah 24:3-5; 19-21:

“The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, For the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, The world languishes and fades away; The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants,… “The earth is violently broken, The earth is split open, The earth is shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again.”

The language is graphic and powerful! Surely it is talking about the end of time, right? No, not at all. For brevity, I will make just a few bullet points.

1. This judgment / destruction would come because Israel “violated the everlasting covenant.” The parallel to this text, Hosea 6:7f
“But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me. Gilead is a city of evildoers And defiled with blood. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they commit lewdness. I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled.” (Some translations render “Adam” as “man” but, I suggest that “Adam” is more appropriate).

The point here is that the everlasting covenant is the Law of Moses, and the judgment that was coming on “the earth” in utter destruction was the covenantal judgment from YHVH for Israel’s sin. 2. This is confirmed in verses 10-13 where we find that the judgment would be focused on “the city” in the midst of “the land” and against “the people.”

“The city of confusion is broken down; Every house is shut up, so that none may go in. There is a cry for wine in the streets, All joy is darkened, The mirth of the land is gone. In the city desolation is left, And the gate is stricken with destruction. When it shall be thus in the midst of the land among the people, It shall be like the shaking of an olive tree, Like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done.” In Isaiah 29 this “city of confusion” is identified as Ariel, i.e. Jerusalem!

Ask yourself the question: In a Hebraic book, addressed to Israel, and in which the terminology of “the city,” “the land, and “the people” is used, if there is not a really strong set of contextual pointers otherwise, who would the readers think that the Lord was talking about?

For Israel, there was but one “the land.” They were “the people.” And, “the city” was none other than Jerusalem.

3. This assessment is confirmed in Isaiah 25:1-3, where the prophet continues his discussion of the announced judgment. In these verses, there can be no doubt that the context of the judgment on “heaven and earth” is the judgment on Jerusalem and the Temple.

“O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. For You have made a city a ruin, A fortified city a ruin, A palace of foreigners to be a city no more; It will never be rebuilt.”

Notice back in chapter 24:19-20 that “the earth” would fall and not rise again. Now, in these verses, the city and the temple are doomed to destruction and “will never be rebuilt.” I suggest that this is not to be taken in a woodenly literal manner, as Frost tends toward these days. Rather, it is speaking of the permanent removal of “the land,” the people,” “the city” as a covenant entity! It is talking about the permanent, final dissolution of Israel’s distinctive, covenantal existence. She would fall and never rise again as a covenant people as she existed for 1500 years! (This is confirmed in Isaiah 65 which we will examine in this series).

So, what we find in Isaiah 24-25– and there is sooo much more that could be observed in this great text, but this will suffice– is that it simply cannot refer to an “end of time” scenario. It predicted covenantal judgment on Israel, her land, the city, the temple and the people, for violating the Law of Moses. That raises a critical question for which I have never received an answer.

If one takes Isaiah 24-25 as a prediction of the destruction of literal creation then it raises the question: Does your view of the destruction of the literal creation include in it, as the reason for the destruction of the heaven and the earth, Israel’s violation of the Law of Moses?

The text of Isaiah 24 is emphatic: the destruction of creation being foretold would be as a direct result of Israel’s violation of the Law of Moses. So, if one wants to argue that Isaiah 24 does predict the end of time and earth, that of necessity means- contextually– that earth will one day be destroyed as a result of Israel’s violation of the Law of Moses! To say this is problematic is a huge understatement!

I am unaware of any commentator, of any eschatological paradigm, that says literal heaven and earth will perish as a result of Israel’s violation of the Law! Not one! Not in the entire history of commentary! To say the least, therefore, if you take the view that Isaiah 24 is predictive of the future destruction of the earth– and thus, the passing of the Law of Moses– you have a severe problem.

The problem can be magnified and exposed like this: Virtually futurists claim that the Law of Moses has been done away. Frost’s friends in the Dominionist movement, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, Joel McDurmon, etc., all believe that the Law of Moses “passed away” in the first century, i.e. even in AD 70! I can’t help but wonder if these men are now embarrassed by Frost’s completely novel definition of what Jesus meant when he talked about the passing away of the Law.

Mind you, Frost now claims to believe that much of the Law of Moses is no longer binding, having been replaced, but, that the Law of Moses still “remains.” What does he mean by replaced but remains? He means that since the Law of Moses is still in books, in Bibles, literally on paper, that this is what Jesus meant by not passing away until the proposed end of time.

In a blog post of 5-16-17, Frost said his proof that the Law of Moses has not passed away is because “it is right there in your Bible!” So, Frost claims that in Matthew 5:17-18 the Jews and Jesus were not at all concerned with the abiding authority of the Law of Moses, as mandates to be obeyed and fulfilled. All they were concerned about was that books with the Law of Moses printed in them will not be destroyed until the end of time! More on this later.

But, back to Isaiah 24. What we have is this:

1. Isaiah 24 predicted the destruction of creation, as a direct result of Israel’s violation of the Law of Moses. There is no futurist paradigm that posits this scenario! This fact falsifies Mr. Frost’s new doctrine.

2. If one takes this language literally, then of necessity, since heaven and earth is destroyed as a direct consequence of Israel’s violation of the Law, this means that the Law must remain valid, as God’s law for Israel until that proposed end of time. Clearly, Mr. Frost cannot adopt this fact, for once again, if the Law remains valid until the “end of time” then this is “covenant eschatology” and he rejects this.

3. Point # 2 is, to say the least, not only not Biblical, it is simply not historical, not creedal, not traditional. It is unknown. Thus, Frost cannot appeal to Isaiah 24 as a proof text for his claim that the Tanakh predicts the end of literal heaven and earth. Isaiah 24 predicted the passing of creation at the time of the Messianic Banquet / Resurrection, and posits it at the time of the judgment of Old Covenant Israel / Jerusalem.

By the way, in a “response” to my earlier article refuting the idea that Psalms 102 predicts the “end of time” Mr. Frost claimed that I never proved that Psalms is about God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. This is just stunningly bad.

I challenge the reader to read that article again. Note how I shared with the reader, the text of the chapter that proves it is about the time of the redemption of Zion, the time of the salvation of Israel, the time of the creation of a new people! Did Frost respond to any of these textual facts? Not so much as a keystroke! Instead, he fabricated the claim that I had not proven that Psalms is about Israel and her promises, and that the Psalms would be at the day of her salvation.

Now, I want the reader to catch the power of Frost’s denial that Psalms is an Old Covenant promise, made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. This surely one of the greatest examples of what I call “argumentum ad desperatum” (This a Latin expression that I invented, meaning argument from desperation)! The claim that Psalms 102 was not written to Israel, about her salvation, is surely one of the most revealing bits of Frost’s desperation that one can imagine.

Instead of offering a single syllable of exegetical work, Frost makes his false claims, and insists– again, without a key stroke of proof- that Psalms does predict the end of material creation.

Frost’s “response” is just another example of his increasing tendency and willingness to fabricate his theology “on the fly” and a lamentable willingness to make blatantly false claims, all the while claiming to have countered the truth of Covenant Eschatology. Not only that, his increasing reliance on a woodenly literalistic hermeneutic is leading him straight down the path of Premillennialism. He has no logical way out of that if he continues. Let me illustrate.

He claims that Psalms 102 predicts the end of literal heaven and earth. Psalms posits that at the coming of the Lord in glory. Frost takes these as literal, physical events. But, watch this:

1. Frost has written that the OT language of the Day of the Lord, the language of the dissolution of creation, is (quoting from my books) “metaphoric language to describe Jehovah’s powerful intervention into history.” And he says “I wholeheartedly agree.” (Why I Left Full Preterism, p. 30). So there you have it: Frost agrees that in the OT the language of the passing of creation is not literal, not predictive of an end of time. But, what does he do now, in Psalms 102? He says that the language that he “wholeheartedly agrees” is used metaphorically, must now be taken literally. And what proof did he offer us in his article? Not a syllable, just his claim that it is so. Hardly convincing.

2. Now, if we are to take the language of the passing of “heaven and earth” literally, why do we not take the language of the “redemption of Zion” i.e. Old Covenant Israel, just as literally? Frost never tells us, not so much as a word of exegetical proof.

3. And, did Frost type one syllable about the indisputable fact that the passing of the heaven and earth in Psalms is tied directly to the creation of a new people? He did not grace us with one word of response. Revealing. Reader, if Psalms 102 is about a future, end of time event, then at that time YHVH will create a brand new people– thus demanding the destruction of the “old people.” The church is the people of God, so, in Frost’s newly created paradigm, if he takes Psalms 102 literally, that means that one day, God will destroy the church and create a new people! To say this is a horrid, un-Biblical doctrine is an understatement of epic proportions.

4. Did Frost say a single word about the relationship between Psalms 102, the coming of the Lord in Glory, and Matthew 24:30f? In that text Jesus posited his coming in Glory– which incidentally would be for the salvation of Israel, the redemption of Zion– for his generation (v. 34). What was Frost’s response? It was the sound of silence.

This is more than sufficient to refute Frost’s disingenuous claims about Psalms 102.

In summation: Nothing about Isaiah 24 supports Mr. Frost’s claims. And we have more proof of that, so stay tuned!

The Passing of the Law of Moses and Sam Frost’s Increasing Desperation #1

law of moses

The Passing of The Law of Moses and Sam Frost’s Growing Desperation

Was it Mark Twain that said, “It is amazing what a man will believe when he won’t believe the Bible” or something to that effect? Well, we can amend that statement to something like, It is amazing what a man will say when he has abandoned the truth!” That later statement fits Mr. Sam Frost to the “T.”

Frost once taught the truth of Covenant Eschatology, but abandoned it, claiming that he had discovered major logical and scriptural flaws in the system. In reality, the problem was that Frost could not bring himself to jettison church history and the creeds. He chose the works of men over the Word of God. Frost has produced several articles and videos seeking to justify his return to futurism and his rejection of true preterism. But, few rival his latest production entitled “Another Full Preterist Fallacy Faulted” in regard to their utter illogic and specious nature. It really is a stunning example of desperation.

The article is Frost’s attempt to explain– explain away- Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-18:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

Frost well knows that it is impossible to refute Covenant Eschatology without negating the force of Jesus’ emphatic words. Simply stated:

Not one jot or one tittle of the Law of Moses could pass until it was all fulfilled, brought to pass, fully accomplished.

The Law of Moses contained prophecies of the resurrection, the judgment, the end of the age and the coming of Christ.

Therefore, until the resurrection, the judgment, the end of the age and the coming of Christ took place, not one jot or one tittle of the Law of Moses could pass.

Since Frost believes that the Law of Moses (at the very least, the ceremonial, sacrificial mandates) has passed as a binding covenant, and since he believes that the resurrection, the judgment, the end of the age and the coming of Christ have not yet taken place, he absolutely must find a solution to this conundrum. You cannot have the passing of the law of Moses without the fulfillment of the resurrection, the judgment, the end of the age and the coming of Christ. If the resurrection, the judgment, the end of the age and the coming of Christ have not taken place, every jot and every tittle of the Law of Moses remains valid and binding. See my book Torah To Telos: The End of the Law of Moses, for an extended discussion of when the Law of Moses did indeed pass away.

Mr. Frost has invented a novel, new, unprecedented explanation of Matthew 5. More on that in upcoming installments. But, let me proceed to an examination of Mr. Frost’s attempt to explain away Matthew 5:17-18. I will offer some of the salient points that he makes and then examine his conclusions and claims as we proceed.

I agree with Frost when he says that Jesus was saying that every jot and every tittle of the Law of Moses had to be fulfilled for any part of the Law to pass away. He said, “The least stroke of the pen of the Law and Prophets remains until all things concerning them are ‘accomplished.’” (p. 2 of 13). In other words, every single stroke of the pen of the Law and the prophets would remain valid until every thing in the Law and the prophets would be accomplished.

I agree with Frost when he observes that Jesus’ words, of necessity, mean that what had to be fulfilled, in the future from when Jesus spoke, were the prophecies and elements of the Law that had not yet been fulfilled when he spoke. After all, when Jesus spoke these words, some prophecies of the Law had already been fulfilled, i.e. his Virgin birth among others.

I agree with Frost that Jesus was clear that “heaven and earth” and the passing of the Law of Moses would be synchronous and related events. But, I offer this major caveat: Frost claims that “heaven and earth” refers to material, physical universe! I absolutely reject that claim. It is my view that the “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5 is referent to Israel’s covenantal heaven and earth, not the material creation. Frost calls my view “pernicious.”

Frost now takes the position that “The Law and the Prophets contain within them the fact that the heavens and earth will disappear” (3 of 13). So, when we combine that concept with his view that Torah will not pass until it is all fulfilled, this logically means that not one jot or one tittle would / will pass from Torah until heaven and earth passes away. And what Mr. Frost means by “heaven and earth” as just noted, is that it is material creation. It is the literal, physical earth and the heavenly bodies that must perish for Torah to pass. So, the Law of Moses and the prophetic corpus will stand valid until the dissolution of material heaven and earth, per Mr. Frost’s article. The word “valid” is a sticking point. Frost would reject the idea that the entirety of Torah would remain valid, binding, until the end of time / space. By “remaining” he means that the Law of Moses will continue — on paper – until the end of time. But, as we shall see, this is untenable and un-Biblical.

Notice that Jesus said, “until heaven and earth passes away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, until it is all fulfilled.” Frost says that, “when the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled, then the heavens and earth will disappear.” So, to reiterated, the passing of the Law and Prophets and the passing of heaven and earth are synchronous events.

Now, those familiar with Covenant Eschatology might read these claims by Frost and think that he has returned to the truth. After all, he is affirming quite clearly that not one jot or one tittle of the Law of Moses (hereafter, Torah) would pass until it was all totally fulfilled. Every promise fulfilled, every prophecy fulfilled. Thus, if every jot and every tittle has not been fully accomplished, completely fulfilled, then every jot and every tittle remains valid. But, although his words logically lead to that conclusion, that is not what Mr. Frost is now teaching.

Frost well realizes that if he follows the logic of his own words, and the words of the text of Matthew 5, that Torah remains valid today– every single jot and tittle. So, Mr. Frost gets “creative” in his desperation.

First of all, as noted, Mr. Frost defines the heaven and earth as material creation. He rejects as “pernicious” the idea that the term could have had a well established vernacular, metaphoric meaning that heaven and earth referred to Israel covenant world. He simply claims that anyone hearing Jesus would have known immediately that he had material creation in mind. That claim is incredibly presumptive and without merit. As I show in my book, The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, there was a well established, well accepted use of the term to refer to Israel, to her Temple, to her covenantal world. I document this from scripture, from history and from scholarship.

The passing of the Law of Moses is the passing of heaven and earth!
This book gives a wealth of documentation that Peter’s prediction of the passing of “heaven and earth” had nothing to do with the end of time or the material creation!

 

Notice what noted scholar Crispin H. T. Fletcher-Lewis says in regard to Matthew 5:17-18 and Matthew 24:35: “Within the broader sweep of the temple reference throughout this eschatological chapter and the specific time reference in the preceding verse (Mark 13:30; Matthew 24:34), Jesus’ promise that ‘heaven and earth’ will pass away makes the best sense, not as a collapse of the space-time universe, as has been so often understood, but as a collapse of a mythical space-time universe embodied in the Jerusalem temple.” (Eschatology in Bible and Theology, (Downer’s Grove; InterVarsity, 1997), 162).

Thus, contra Frost’s simplistic and naive claim that no one hearing Jesus would have thought that he had anything but the material creation in mind, scholarship understands that the Hebraic mind of the day would well have not even thought of Frost’s view of the end of material creation! Frost is guilty of imposing a Grecian and modern cosmology onto ancient Hebraic texts. This is poor hermeneutic to say the least. In fact, as Ecclesiastes 1:4 says, and the Jews believed: “Generations come and generations go, but the earth abides forever.”

Although there is some debate, there is widespread belief in scholarship today that the Jews never contemplated the end of time or the end of the material universe! For instance, N. T. Wright notes:  “The close of the age for which they (the disciples in Matthew 24:3, DKP) longed was not the end of the space order, but the end of the present evil age” (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, (Minneapolis, Fortress, 1996), 361-362). See also his extensive comments on this very issue in his 2013, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Vol. I, (Minneapolis, Fortress, 2013), 163f).

Likewise, R. T. France observes, “OT eschatology is not concerned with the end of the world. but with the decisive action of God that will end the existing order of things and inaugurate a new era of blessing”  (R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, (Regent College Publishing, 1971), 84).

Frost knows this – or should – if he is the scholar that he claims to be. Yet, in his article he never mentions what the Hebrews of the day actually thought. I document this in my Elements book). He makes no mention of rabbinic thought. He ignores what Josephus had to say about the Temple as “heaven and earth.” (More on this later). He makes no mention of the OT predictions of the passing of “heaven and earth” none of which predicted the passing of material creation!! He makes no mention of modern scholarship.  We will explore some of this in upcoming installments of our review and refutation of Frost’s article.

In the meantime, I should observe that Frost’s every increasing literalizing of scripture may well lead him into the Dispensational camp. His stunning woodenly literalistic interpretations all but demand this.

So, from the outset, Frost’s presuppositional approach is highly questionable and subject to challenge – and rejection. In our upcoming installments, I will show that Frost’s claims that the OT predicted the passing of material creation are false, and, I will show that his claims about the Law of Moses remaining until the dissolution of the kosmos are specious in the extreme. Stay tuned!

Up Coming Formal Debates

I want to remind our visitors of two important up coming formal debates.

May 10– I will be debating Dr. Himie Pickett, a Progressive Dispensationalist. Dr. Pickett is a member of the Pre-Tribulation group founded by Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, but, rejects the standard Dispensational Premillennial view. That means that he ostensibly rejects the idea that Jesus came to establish the kingdom, but due to Jewish unbelief, the kingdom offer was postponed, and the church, which had never been predicted, was established.

Dr. Pickett nonetheless holds to the idea that at the future Second Coming of Christ, that will occur after the Rapture supposedly removes the church from the earth, that God will save Israel at the worst moment of the Great Tribulation. The Millennial kingdom, wherein ethnic Israel is restored, will then follow.

Romans 11:25-27 and Paul’s famous prediction that “all Israel shall be saved” will be the focus of this formal debate that will be carried live on YouTube, on May 10, 2017.

Contra Dr. Pickett, I will be affirming that Romans 11:25-27 was fulfilled in AD 70 in Christ’s coming in judgment of the Old Covenant world of Israel, sweeping away that Old Covenant creation, and saving the righteous remnant.

I will post the details and the link as soon as possible. In addition to being live streamed on YouTube, this formal debate will be carried on FaceBook, and, will also be archived on www.fulfilledradio.com. Be sure to tune into this formal Internet debate!

 

The Second Formal Debate we want to remind you about is my second formal public debate with Dr. David Hester, professor at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. This debate will be held at Dr. Hester’s home church, the Eastern Meadows church of Christ, 8464 Vaughn Road, Montgomery, AL 36117;    Phone:(334) 273-0001.  Dr. Hester and I had our first formal debate at the 2016 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, July of 2016. DVDs and Mp3s of that first debate are now available from me.

As in the first debate, Dr. Hester will affirm that the resurrection of the just and the unjust is yet future and will occur at the end of time. I will affirm that the resurrection of the just and the unjust occured at the time of the fall of Jerusalem- the end of the Old Covenant Age of Israel – in AD 70.

This follow up debate promises to be lively and contain a wealth of information for research and study. You don’t want to miss it, so make your plans to be with us!

The Calling of the Gentiles – God’s Eternal Plan- Guest Article by Terry Cropper #2

calling of the gentiles
It was always God’s plan to call the nations other than Israel into His blessings!

The Calling of the Gentiles – God’s Eternal Plan – by Terry Cropper

Be sure to read the first installment of this fine article by Terry Cropper.

God always had a desire to save the “gentiles nations.” Isaiah 49:6 (NKJV) “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles.

Once we understand that Jesus is the Servant spoken of in Isaiah 49; we understand that Jesus’ ministry brings deliverance to the gentile nations. Now, my reading of the text, in Isaiah 49:6 certainly seems to indicate that in addition to the restoration of Israel, that God would then extend salvation to the nations. However, there are some who claim that this is false, and in fact, the text only predicted the salvation of the all twelve tribes, i.e. restored Israel.

Notice that the claim violates what the text specifically says. God said it would not be enough to restore Israel, the tribes of Jacob. With that in mind then, notice that God said. ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the nations of Gentiles.

Here is a statement to make a bigger point. God’s servant is certainly able to do far greater things than to save only one small nation. God’s servant would be the light to the Gentiles as well. God said that was not enough for the Messiah to save Israel / the tribes of Jacob! In addition to restoring Israel which would be too small a work for him, he would also offer life to the Gentiles!

“It would have been insufficient for the `God’s Servant’ to have received only the conversion of Jews as a result of his labors; therefore, God gave him the gathering in of the Gentles also, and made him the means of salvation even to the uttermost parts of the earth.” It is undeniable that God here predicts the calling of the Gentiles.

During the New Testament times the Apostle Paul alludes to this basic fundamental principles in Ephesians 2:11-13 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

In this passage the apostle is dealing with the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. He identifies the Gentiles for us. He says they are the ones who are called “uncircumcised” by those who are circumcised, i.e., by Jewish people. He indicates the distinguishing mark of the Jews, and he has a good reason for doing so. He says, “You Gentiles are uncircumcised. The Jews are the circumcised people.” In being circumcised they were recognizing the fact that they were a people, belonging to God in a unique sense. The mark of circumcision was what indicated this distinction. So when Paul said the Jews were circumcised, he was symbolizing by that fact the advantages the Jew had over the Gentile. But he was also highlighting the fact that the Gentiles, the pagans, did not have these advantages.

Circumcision is made a great deal of in the Scriptures. It is referred to all through the Old Testament and the New. It began, you remember, with Abraham, who circumcised his son Isaac at the request of God. And it always indicated that here was a people who had a special access to God, a special relationship to him. This circumcision also applied to the proselytes converts living among Israel.

Exodus 12:48-49 An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the (mails in his household circumcised); them he may take part, like one born in the land… The same law applies to the native-born And to the alien living among you.” (Emphasis mine) The Gentiles/proselytes that were living among the Israelites had to undergo circumcision as well. The pagan Gentile world was without this. This is why the Gentile, pagan world was called “uncircumcised”

Then Paul states the one thing which can be said of all the uncircumcised, no matter what their background one great fact remains: you are separated from Christ. Paul goes on to describe: “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” Paul use of “alienated from here in the Greek is ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι meaning an alien alienated living outside the covenant relationship with God.

These gentiles that Paul is addressing in Ephesians 2:11-13 were not proselytes converts from early times. (Isaiah 56:3 ; Nehemiah 10:28; Esther 8:17 ). The name “proselyte” occurs in the New Testament only in Matthew 23:15 ; Acts 13:43 Acts 6:5 Acts 2:10. The name by which they are commonly designated is that of “devout men,” or men “fearing God” or “worshipping God.”

Paul goes on, and says the final condition of the “uncircumcised” gentiles was: “having no hope, and without God in the world.” Paul goes on now to show what has happened, Verse 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Paul goes on to develop some more fantastic truth, the blood of Christ brought them near. Paul asserts that Christ “has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us, referring to Gentiles and Jews who are believers in Christ.

The interesting fact that many Christians are unaware of, is that there was a physical barrier (a middle wall) that separated gentiles and Jews in the days of Paul, at the Temple in Jerusalem. Known as the “soreg”, this partition prohibited gentiles from entering into the temple courts. The soreg was a low wall surrounding the Temple in Jerusalem, which served as a boundary/partition wall. Beyond this point, entry was permitted only to Jews who were not impure through exposure to death.

The soreg featured signs, in a number of languages that warned these unauthorized people against entering the area of the Holy Temple. Some of the signs which were placed on the “soreg” have been discovered. The inscription says “No outsider shall enter the protective enclosure around the sanctuary. And whoever is caught will only have himself to blame for the ensuing death.”

Considering all of the above facts, it is safe to say, that Paul was referring to this “partitioning wall” in his letter to the Ephesians, as it was a prominent feature of the Jerusalem Temple at that time, which restrained gentiles non proselytes from entering in. It is also important to note that this wall was not part of the design God had given, but was a later addition made by the Jews in authority, to keep gentiles from entering the temple precinct. However, nowhere in the Old Testament would you be able to find such a structure that separates the proselytes from the native-born Jews. Gentile proselyte who had a desire to worship God were always welcome and assimilated by faith into the Israel of God. The calling of the Gentiles was always God’s plan!

Blood Atonement and the Last Days – #3

Blood Atonement and the Last Days – #3

Be sure to go back and read the first two installments in this series of articles on Blood Atonement. Number 1 hereNumber 2 Here.

The third text I want to look at is Isaiah, chapters 24-27, known as the Little Apocalypse. Beginning with verse 7 in chapter 25, the Lord said, “He will destroy on this mountain” – that’s Zion. I would like to have a lot to say about that, but I can’t – “the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all of the faces…and it will be said in that day, behold this is our God; we have waited for Him; He will save us…. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” This is very clearly the end-of-the-millennium resurrection. It’s the very verse that Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when he said “this mortal has put on immortality… the corruptible has put on incorruption, then shall be brought to pass the saying, death is swallowed up in victory.” That’s Isaiah. Therefore, Isaiah is the end-of-the-millennium resurrection.

This is patently the salvation hope of Israel. But let’s look a little closer at the Little Apocalypse, let’s move into chapter 26. Now by the way, most of these men agree that the Little Apocalypse is speaking of the eschatological consummation, not a typological consummation. Isaiah predicted the end-of-the-millennium resurrection (Isaiah 25:8). Likewise chapter 26:19f, the earth shall give up its dead. But notice, it would be in the day in which the Lord shall descend out of the heavens and tread on the tops of the mountains (26:20).

But notice this. It is also the time of the vindication of the martyrs – the earth shall disclose its blood. Meredith Kline wrote a great article demonstrating this not too long ago. (Meredith G. Kline, “Death, Leviathan and Martyrs: Isaiah 24:1-27:1″ A Tribute to Gleason Archer, ed. by Walter C. Kaiser Jr. And Ronald Youngblood, Chicago; Moody Press, 1986), 229-249). But notice this. “In that day”; in what day? The day of the vindication of the martyrs, the day of the coming of the Lord, the day of the end-of-the-millennium resurrection. In that day, Leviathan shall be destroyed (27:1).

Note that in 27:10-11, it is at the time of the salvation of Israel which Isaiah 25:8-9 told us the resurrection is the salvation of Israel. Significantly, it is likewise, the time of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel, because in that day would be the time when He turns the stones of the altar into chalk stone, He destroys the fortified city, and, “the one who made them will no longer have mercy on them.” And why? Well, it tells us. Because, “this is a people of no understanding,” a direct citation or allusion to Deuteronomy 32:28. Deuteronomy 32:28 that said in Israel’s last days, here is what will happen: They will become like Sodom; I will destroy them. So, in Isaiah 24-27, we have Israel’s last days, the vindication of the martyrs at the destruction of Old Covenant Israel.

Passage number 4 – Isaiah 59. As universally acknowledged, Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 serve as Paul’s source for his prediction of the salvation hope of Israel in Romans 11:25-27. Just like Deuteronomy 32, just like Isaiah 2-4, just like Isaiah 26-27, Isaiah 59 predicted the vindication of the martyrs at the Day of the Lord and also at the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. Isaiah 59 breaks itself down easily into three headings:

Number one – Accusation – four times in verses 3-7 God accuses Israel of shedding innocent blood, of being quick to violence, and that leads to point #2.

Point #2 – Israel Acknowledges her guilt. Notice what she says, “our transgressions are multiplied before you.” This is Deuteronomy 31:29: You will fill up the measure of your sin. So Israel even admits her transgression, “our transgressions are multiplied before you.”

And so, Point #3 – Yahweh decides to take Action in verses 16f: “He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, he was clad with zeal as a cloak, according to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies…so shall they fear the name of the Lord…the redeemer will come to Zion and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord. As for me, says the Lord, this is my covenant with them.”

Now, Romans 11:25-27 anticipated the parousia for the salvation of Israel in fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59; that is more abundantly clear.

However, Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 foretold the coming of the Lord, and to be sure, for the salvation of Israel, i.e., the salvation of the remnant. And, that would be at the end-of-the-millennium resurrection (Isaiah 25-26).

Remember it would be at the destruction of Leviathan, Satan. When does the destruction of Leviathan take place? All you have to do is read Revelation 20:10-12 – at the end of the millennium. When would that be, however? According to Isaiah 26:21 and Isaiah 59:16, it would be at the coming of the Lord for the vindication of the martyrs. But that is not all. It would be when the fortified city would be destroyed, the altar crushed and the people whom Yahweh had created would be forsaken. That is not the church.

Thus, Romans 11, being the anticipation of the fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and 59 would be fulfilled at the end of the millennium, at the avenging of the blood of the martyrs, at the time of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel. But, we want to look a little closer.

I suggest that there is no futurist eschatology that properly honors what Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59 actually says.

Amillennialists redefine Israel in Romans 11, as somehow the church, or they posit the salvation of ethnic Jews throughout the entire span of the Christian age. Greg Beale does this. (Greg Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, (Grand Rapids; Baker, 2011), 706+). But these positions ignore the vindication of the martyr motif and the judgment of Israel motif explicitly found in Isaiah 27 and 59.

Post-millennialists likewise ignore the judgment of Israel and the martyr vindication (The law of Blood Atonement) specifically and explicitly found in Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59, as does Kenneth Gentry. While Gentry spends time discussing Romans 11 in his massive He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA, Apologetics Group, 2009)254) he ignores the prophetic background and does not so much as mention the themes found in Isaiah 27 / 59. He posits the traditional Postmillennial view that Romans 11:25f speaks of a yet future “massive, world-wide conversion.”

Pre-millennialists posit unbelieving Israel as the victim of a foreign persecuting power, not the persecutor as Isaiah clearly says. I would suggest, therefore, that none of these truly honors what Isaiah says. I have not found a single Dispensational author who honors the prophetic source of Romans 11:25f and the proper identification of Israel as the persecutor. Invariably, Premillennialists posit Romans 11 as predictive of a future time when Israel, being persecuted by the anti-christ, cries out to the Lord and is saved at the parousia.

This raises a very serious hermeneutical question. Isaiah 26 and 27 predicted the end-of-the-millennium resurrection, the Day of the Lord, the destruction of Satan, the vindication of the martyrs at the time of the salvation of the righteous remnant, as well as the judgment on Old Covenant Israel, not the church.

Isaiah 59 likewise foretold the Day of Lord, the vindication of martyrs, the salvation of the remnant, the judgment on Old Covenant Israel as the persecuting power. Now Romans 11 anticipated the fulfillment of Isaiah 27 and Isaiah 59. What then, is the hermeneutical principle for saying Romans 11 anticipates a future salvation of the church or deliverance of Israel from a foreign persecuting power divorced from the context of judgment on Old Covenant Israel for her blood guilt for shedding innocent blood? More on Blood Atonement and the Last Days in our next installment.

For an extensive discussion of the doctrine of Blood Atonement and its relationship to eschatology, see my book The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Future or Fulfilled?

Blood Atonement and the Resurrection are inter-related subjects!
For a rich, persuasive look at the relationship between eschatology and Blood Atonement, get a copy of this major work.

2 Thessalonians 2:2 – Whose WaterLoo Is It Really? A Response to Howard Denham

 2 Thessalonians 2:2- Whose WaterLoo Is It?      A Response to Howard
The acerbic and caustic Howard Denham recently wrote an article on Paul’s statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2:

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come” (NKJV)

Denham calls this text “Preston’s Waterloo” Denham claims that:
1.) I have abused the text in my book How Is This Possible?, and that,
2. The proper translation should be, as the KJV renders it, “not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ is just at hand.”
Denham is absolutely desperate to negate the NKJV rendering of “had come.” (It should be noted of course, that the NKJV was for the specific purpose of correcting some of the errors in the original KJV. So, when the NKJV renders the text as “has come” this is significant).
Denham knows that no one could convince anyone that his concept of the Day of the Lord, i.e. an earth burning, time ending event, had already come. The idea is ridiculous.
In addition, Denham seeks to create a “false contradiction.” His goal is to show that Paul was denying the imminence of the parousia as early as AD 52. This would- in Denham’s mind – somehow negate the other (and later) NT declarations that the Day of the Lord was at hand.
So, in his attempt to negate the NKJV rendering of “had come,” Denham cites different commentaries and lexicons, among them A. T. Robertson, Vincent, Perschbacher, Mounce, Thayer, Bloomfield, Lightfoot. After citing those sources, Denham then says:
“These and a myriad of other sources show that the construction is not referring, as Don Preston, has claimed to something that had already occurred – is in the past in the sense that Christ had already come, but rather it is impending and present, that it stands in the state of being upon them, so that Christ may appear at any moment!” The fact is that Denham has done nothing but reveal his willingness to ignore– even distort- the text, and the scholars, to maintain his futurist eschatology.
What Denham fails to share with the reader is that often, the motivation of these sources for rejecting the “has come’ rendering is due to the theological bias of the sources! This is found in many cases.
The Pulpit Commentary says that enesteken means  “literally is present,” although they confess they find it, “difficult to conceive how the Thessalonians could think that the day of the Lord was actually present. We cannot imagine that they thought that Christ had already come for judgment.” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol 21 (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1977), 24).
Similarly, the late F. F. Bruce, a world class Greek scholar, rendered the text as “present.” In his commentary he says, “It cannot be seriously disputed that ‘is present’ is the natural sense of enesteken.” He says there is, “considerable support for the sense of imminence,” but admits enesteken “will not bear” this. In similar fashion, Now, note Bruce’s reason for wanting to reject the indisputably correct rendering of “present”: “it cannot be supposed that the Thessalonians could have been misled that the events of I Thessalonians had taken place.”  (Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 45,(Dallas; Word Incorporated, 1982), in loc).  In my book, How Is This Possible? I document this kind of attitude even more.
Do you see what is going on here? These commentators- like Denham- believed in a literal, physical coming of the Lord at the end of time –- and because of that theological bias wanted to reject what they admitted was the undeniably correct linguistic translation, but, could not bring themselves as a scholar to do it.
Denham, thinking he has rendered the translation of “has come” as untenable, then tries to make his point:
“Remember, Don Preston has affirmed that mello with the infinitive means “about to be, at the point of” occurring relative to the coming of Christ a few years before this passage was ever written! A text that speaks of it in the present tense is not one that helps him. He needs this text to read “that the day of the Lord had come in the past,” and not “is come,” “is present,” “is at hand,” “is upon” etc.]”
As usual, Denham either misses the point, or abuses it.
First of all, Jesus had affirmed, unequivocally, that he was coming in the first century. He was “about to come”- Matthew 16:27-28- which is defined as in the generation of his audience.
Second, since Jesus had affirmed is first century parousia in judgment (Matthew 24:29-34 / 26:64f), then Paul could not have been denying that in Thessalonians, since he said he got his gospel message from Jesus!
With these preliminaries in mind, I want to offer a few brief observations that reveal the untenable and specious nature of Denham’s argument.
1. The irony of Howard Denham’s article cannot be overlooked. In on-line discussions with Denham in the past, between me and with others, Denham has absolutely – and harshly – condemned us for not honoring the Greek tenses in any text that he appealed to. He has called anyone that dared challenge his application of Greek tenses in a given text a “liar,” a “snake in the grass,” and other hateful terms. But, what has now happened in 2 Thessalonians 2? Denham rejects, categorically, the Greek tense of the Greek (the word is enesteken).
This word, is in the perfect active indicative. The perfect active indicative indicates the continuation and present state of a past action. Thus, the meaning, in a proper, accurate translation of 2 Thessalonians 2 would be “has come and is now present.” (Many translations render it just that way).

So, we have in Denham’s article, an overt self contradiction. On the one hand he has called anyone that dares not accept the Greek tenses in other texts a “heretic.” But, when we come to 2 Thessalonians 2, which, properly translated falsifies his eschatology– he says “No, No! Don’t pay attention to the Greek tenses!” Such irony! Such self-contradiction!

2. It is also revealing that Denham refused to share with his readers what the translations have to say about 2 Thessalonians 2:2. I have been studying the issue of 2 Thessalonians 2:2 for many years now, and am constantly examining the translational evidence. I have now examined well over 50 translations. To this date, I have found a total of nine translations (some of them rather obscure ones) that render the text as “at hand.” By far the vast majority of the translations render the text as “has come.”
So, we have the preponderant testimony of the translations arrayed against Denham. We have the acknowledged theological bias stated, by at least some noted scholars, as the only reason for their rejection of the indisputable linguistic translation. But, this is by no means all.
3. Could Paul– if one accepted the “at hand” rendering of 2 Thessalonians 2– have condemned the teaching that the Day of the Lord was imminent? Not without contradicting himself – and other NT writers –  for make no mistake, Paul affirmed the nearness of the Day of the Lord!
Take a look at Romans 12:11f, from Paul’s pen:
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” Observe just a point or two.
✔ Paul said that they “knew the time” (eidontes ton kairon). They fully understood what the appointed (kairos) time was!
✔ He even said that the “hour” (from hora) had arrived for them to rise out of their sleep. This is  resurrection language , and an echo of Daniel 12:2.

✔ He said their salvation– which would come at the Day of the Lord (Romans 11:25-27) was “nearer now than when we first believed.” Now, Denham would have us believe that this “nearer” simply means nothing! He would say that we today are even nearer than they were, thus destroying the time element.

✔ Paul “the Day has drawn near” (there is that pesky- for Denham –  perfect active indicative!).
So, what we have in Romans 13– and a host of other texts – is the clear cut affirmation by Paul that the Day of the Lord, the appointed time of the resurrection, had drawn near. Was he now contradicting what he said in Thessalonians? No, he was declaring the consistent message of the NT- the end of the age, Christ’s coming and the resurrection was truly imminent.
4.  Follow me here closely on this next and final point, for it is definitive.
In the past, Denham has – and continues to – appeal to 2 Timothy 2:17-18 as a condemnation of  preterists. Here is what Paul wrote to Timothy at Ephesus:
“And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.”
Denham says preterists are guilty of the Hymenaean Heresy, i.e. of saying that the resurrection is past, over, done! Do you see a train coming? If not, look closer! But, before proceeding to that, let me ask the reader to consider:
If the resurrection is a time ending, earth burning event, in which every human that has ever lived is raised out of the dirt, (as Howard Denham affirms)– ask yourself: How could anyone, convince anyone, that time had ended already, that the earth had burned up already, that the literal graves of every human who had ever died, was now empty? If you cannot explain how anyone could possibly believe that Howard Denham’s view of the resurrection was already past, then you have a serious problem with your eschatology! Now, to an exposure of Denham’s desperation.
To my knowledge, Denham, nor anyone on his side of the eschatological controversy, has ever suggested that Hymenaeaus and company were saying that the resurrection as “at hand.” (BTW, the Greek of 2 Timothy 2:18 is in the perfect infinitive indicative (“to have taken place, and stands).  The invariable appeal to 2 Timothy 2 is to say, “Hymenaeaus said the resurrection was already past. He was a heretic. Preterists say the resurrection is past. They are therefore, guilty of the same heresy as Hymenaeaus!”
Oh, my goodness! What a quandary for Denham! Let me state this as succinctly as possible.
The resurrection occurs at the Day of the Lord.
Hymenaeaus said the resurrection was past.
Therefore, Hymenaeanus said the Day of the Lord was past!
Would Denham deny that the resurrection occurs at the Day of the Lord? Well, he basically affirmed that the two events are synchronous in his 2016 debate with Holger Neubaur! And, make no mistake, in the church of Christ fellowship to which Denham belongs, there has never, ever been a suggestion otherwise. There is no doubt, not a hint of a clue of a suggestion, that Denham would deny the connection between the Day of the Lord and the resurrection. It is unthinkable for them.
Well, would – Will? – Denham now claim– in a drastic, 180% change of position –  that Hymenaeaus simply said that the resurrection was “at hand”?  Believe me, Denham and his followers are so desperate to counter preterism, that it is possible that they would now make such an incredible, unprecedented claim! I guess we shall see!!
So, again, if Denham admits – and make no mistake, he does – that Hymenaeus taught that the resurrection was PAST (not “at hand,” or “near”) then he was saying that the parousia of Christ had already taken place! This is indisputably true.
I should note that to my knowledge, there has never been a commentator that has ever suggested that Hymenaeaus was saying the resurrection was “near,” or “at hand.” There is not so much as a hint in any of the literature that this was the problem with Hymenaeaus! And I can assure you that Denham would never make that argument!
So, unless Howard Denham now wants to create a brand new, unprecedented claim that Hymenaeaus was simply claiming that the resurrection was near, then Denham has met his Waterloo.
Unless Denham now wants to say that the resurrection and the Day of the Lord occur at different times, he has met his Waterloo.
Unless Denham wants to say  that in Thessalonians 2 Paul was dealing with a totally different issue from that in 2 Timothy 2, then he has met his Waterloo. I can assure you that this is not Denham’s argument. His little article proves beyond any doubt that he believes that the false teachers in Thessalonica were saying that the “final” Day of the Lord – the resurrection day of 2 Timothy 2 – was at hand.
So, Denham’s “argument” that the false teachers in Thessalonica were saying that the parousia was “at hand” shatters in pieces in the light of 2 Timothy 2. He has never taught, and does not believe, that Hymenaeaus was saying that the resurrection / Day of the Lord was at hand / imminent. So, to reiterate, since Hymenaeaus was saying that the resurrection was past, then he was saying the Day of the Lord had already come.  To say that this is devastating to Denham is a huge understatement.
This is fatal. “Napoleon Denham” – Not Preston – has met his Waterloo!

Guest Article on John the Baptizer and The End- by Terry Cropper

John the Baptizer and The End

John the Baptist ministry was to condemn Israel of her sins and to warm them of the impending judgment of God. Speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees of God’s wrath John said. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:13).

Later after John was put in imprison and did not see the impending judgment on the Pharisees and Sadducees he conclude that Jesus might not be the Messiah. So John sent some of his disciples to Jesus asking if he was the ONE the Old Testament prophets wrote about concerning the wrath of God or should they look for another? (Luke 7:18)

There Jesus sent word back to John the Baptist by his disciples that he was fulfilling the prophecies. Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.'” (Luke 7:21-23)

Jesus was quoting from Old Testament Scripture from the book of Isaiah 35:4-6 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come (with vengeance). With the recompense of God; He will (come and save you).” Then the (eyes of the blind shall be opened), And the (ears of the deaf shall be unstopped). Then the (lame shall leap like a deer), And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. (Emphasis, mine)

Notice here the “vengeance” of God and His “recompense” come and save you (salvation) are to happen synonymously. John fully understood the prophecies of Isaiah 35:4-6 about the comings of the Messiah which included the blind seeing, the lame walking, the deaf shall hear the judgment or vengeance of God and salvation.

John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostle Paul warned of impending wrath to come on that generation. But where did John the Baptist get the idea of using a winnowing fan and threshing floors as a metaphor to warn the Pharisees and Sadducees of God’s impending wrath to come?

John and the Message of Impending Judgment

John know what is written in the Old Testament a lot batter then most of us today. Jeremiah 15:5-7 “For who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem? Or who will bemoan you? Or who will turn aside to ask how you are doing? You have forsaken Me,” says the LORD, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting! And I WILL WINNOW THEM WITH A WINNOWING FAN in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children; I will destroy My people, Since they do not return from their ways.

Winnowing fan and threshing floors, were long a part of the historical setting and culture, of Israel. So the Israelites’ familiarity with the winnowing fan and threshing floors, made it ideal for illusion for the purposes of God’s wrath.

Winnowing was accomplished by the use of either a broad shovel or a wooden fork which had bent prongs. With this instrument, the mass of chaff, straw, and grain was thrown against the wind. Because there was generally a breeze blowing in the evening, this was the time when it was normally done. So Naomi said to Ruth concerning Boaz: “Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:2).

When the Bible speaks of winnowing fan the shovel or wooden fork was used when unseparated grain and straw that was thrown against the wind. When the grain and straw, are not yet separated, they are thrown into the air, and the wind causes the mass of material to fall to the threshing floor.

Since the grain is the heaviest, it naturally falls beneath the fan to the threshing floor. The straw and the chaff are the lighter and are blown to the side into a heap. The chaff is later burned as Scripture often indicates. “And the flame consumeth the chaff” (Isaiah 5:24). David was also familiar with this concept. The Psalmist writes, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away” (Psalm 1:4).

When you think of a threshing floor what do you think of? Threshing floors were used to separate grain from the chaff at harvest time. This was usually a two-step process. First, the cut stalks of grain were spread on the threshing floor and a threshing sledge was pulled over the stalks by oxen. The sledge was a simple wooden sled or heavy board with stone or metal spikes on the bottom that would break the heads of grain from the stalks.

Isaiah 41:15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. The same thing could be accomplished by having the oxen trample the stalks (Deuteronomy 25:4) or by beating them with heavy sticks (Judges 6:11).

The second step was to toss the broken stalks into the air. The wind would blow the lighter chaff to one side, while the heavier grain would fall back onto the floor, the grain could then be gathered into the barn. Jesus also used this illustration about the “end of the Old Covenant age” in Matthew 13:30 ‘Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, BUT GATHER THE WHEAT INTO MY BARN.” ‘ ”

So Winnowing is this process of separating grain from chaff or tares by wind (Ruth 3:2, Isaiah 30:24). Because of the need for wind, threshing floors were normally located on hilltops or in large open fields, and were often used as landmarks (Genesis 50:10, 2 Samuel 6:6) or meeting places (1 Kings 22:10).

Threshing floors were critical to the harvest and to the life of the people of Israel, and they were highly valued. John the Baptist was familiar with the winnowing process and the burning of the chaff. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17).

Threshing and winnowing are common metaphors for judgment (Daniel 2:35; Isaiah 21:9-10; Jeremiah 15:7, 51:2, 33; Hosea 13:3. The good fruit is gathered and saved, in the barn the bad is burned with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:11-12; Luke 3:17). The separation of “wheat” and “chaff” could only occurred with the destruction of Jerusalem since John the Baptist applied the things of their historical setting and culture to THEM. Matthew 3: 7 But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, (he said to them), “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from (the wrath to come)?

For more on the significance of John the Baptizer– As Elijah – see Don K. Preston’s book Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27. This book effective proves, with a huge amount of evidence, that the ministry of John the Baptizer, as Elijah, lies behind Paul’s expected salvation of “all Israel.”

Elijah Has Come
John the Baptizer was the promised Elijah, and this gives incredible insight into one of Paul’s most enigmatic writings- Romans 11:25-27.

Time of the End, or The End of Time? – #4

Did Jesus Predict the End of Time, or The Time of the End?

First of all, let me apologize for the site issues. We were hacked– majorly!– and it has taken an inordinate amount of time to get the site restored. Thanks for coming back and visiting us again!

Be sure to read installment #1, #2, #3 of this series to grasp the context and the importance of what we are sharing.

Jesus told the parable of the sower and the harvest. The harvest when the Son of Man would send forth the angels to gather the harvest, would occur at the end of the age (Matthew 13:39-40). Notice what Jesus said in verses 39-43. He would send forth his angels to gather the elect and judge the wicked. When this was done, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). This is a direct echo of Daniel 12:3! Let me reiterate the argument I made in an earlier installment:

The coming of the Lord at the harvest / resurrection at the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 is the end of the age resurrection foretold by Daniel 12:2-3. (The distinctive Greek term rendered “end of the age” sunteleia aionos in Matthew 13:40 is the same term the disciples used when they inquired of the end of the age in Matthew 24:3. See my Into All the World Then Comes The End for a full discussion of this distinctive term).

This book details at length what “the end of the age” truly means in scripture, and it is not what you think!!

But, the end of the age resurrection foretold by Daniel 12:2-3 would take place “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered” (Daniel 12:7).

Therefore, the coming of the Lord at the harvest / resurrection at the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 would take place, “When the power of the holy people is completely shattered.”
So, what we have is that Jesus told a parable about the kingdom, the judgment, the end of the age. His parable is based squarely on Daniel 12 which foretold the fulfillment of these things when Israel would be completely shattered.

Notice now, that Jesus continued to discuss the end of the age, i.e. the time of the end, with the disciples. He then posed an important question to them, a question that is virtually ignored in the discussions of Matthew 24:3 and whether the disciples were confused in their questions. In Matthew 13:51 Jesus asked his disciples: “Have you understood all of these things?”

Do you grasp how significant this question and this context is? This is a critical question for it has a direct bearing on our understanding of the eschatology of Jesus and particularly Matthew 24.

Remember, Matthew 13 and Matthew 24 are about the end of the age. The identical distinctive Greek term is used in both texts. Both passages speak of the gathering (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 24:31).

Both passages are dealing with God’s promises to Israel and the fate of Israel. Daniel 12 emphatically and irrefutably posits the kingdom, the gathering, the resurrection / harvest at the time of Israel’s destruction. Jesus directly alludes (some say he is loosely quoting Daniel 12:3, and in the normal custom of citations in the first century, this is true). Jesus then asked the disciples if they understood what he had said, and they affirmed that they did!

Now, did the disciples know that Daniel 12 foretold the time of the end, the end of the age? Who can deny that? Did they understand that Daniel foretold the resurrection? It can hardly be missed. Did they comprehend that there was a direct connection between the end of the age, the kingdom, the resurrection, and the destruction of Israel, as Daniel so clearly states? Well, they said they understood what Jesus was saying! And Jesus was citing Daniel’s prophecy of the end, the resurrection and the destruction of Israel.

If the end of the age in Matthew 13 is the end of the age in Daniel 12, then the end of the age in Matthew 13 would be when Israel was shattered.

If the end of the age in Matthew 13 is the end of the age in Matthew 24, then the end of the age of Matthew 24 would be when Israel was shattered.

The disciples said they understood what Jesus said about the end of the age in Matthew 13.
But Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 13 is drawn from Daniel 12 which predicted the end of the age when Israel was shattered.

Therefore, unless the disciples lied about understanding Jesus’ discourse about the end of the age in Matthew 13– and its undeniable connection to Daniel 12– then unless it can be definitively proven that they did in fact not understand what Jesus said in Matthew 13, it is prima facie evident that the disciples were not confused to connect the destruction of the Temple with the end of the age!

Did the disciples lie in Matthew 13 when they said they understood Jesus’ appeal to Daniel about the end of the age?

Did the disciples forget what Jesus said in Matthew 13 when they asked their questions in Matthew 24? Even if they had somehow forgotten it, that does not invalidate the actual connection between the end of the age and the destruction of Israel found in Daniel / Matthew 13!

Did the disciples misapply Jesus’ application of Daniel, in Matthew 13? What is the proof of that? Daniel and Matthew 13 are predictive of the end of Israel’s age at the time of her destruction. The end of that age at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is what prompted the disciples’ questions in Matthew 24. So, where would the misapplication and misunderstanding be?

Did the disciples not understand what Jesus said in Matthew 16:27-28? Was the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ teaching worse than that of the Pharisees in Matthew 21, so much so that although the Pharisees understood that Jesus was speaking of their impending judgment at the coming of the Lord, the disciples just did not get it? Did the disciples not comprehend Jesus’ emphatic declaration of the coming judgment of the city that had killed the prophets? Just how dense were Jesus’ disciples, if the modern day assumptions are correct? The undeniable fact is that neither Daniel, or Jesus spoke of the end of time. They spoke of the time of the end, the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel, that arrived in AD 70.

The Great Apostasy – #7 – Final Considerations

the great apostasy
Our study has proven beyond doubt that the Great Apostasy occurred in the first century!

The Great Apostasy: Final Considerations

As we bring our study of the Great Apostasy to a close, I want to present two final thoughts somewhat unrelated to each other.

The Great Apostasy and the Dating of Revelation

Proper understanding of the time-frame for the fulfillment of the Great Apostasy provides a strong answer to an objection against the early date of Revelation. It is argued that the church at Ephesus “left her first love,” but this could not have been the case so soon after the complimentary epistle of Paul. Therefore, it is argued, more time was required from 62-64 AD, the proposed time for the Ephesian epistle, to 68 AD, the proposed time of Revelation.

Since Jesus said the Great Apostasy would certainly occur in his generation before Jerusalem’s fall we must either accept that as fact or fiction. Coupled with how quickly the Galatians, Galatians 1:6ff, departed from the faith, and Paul’s warnings to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29f) the objection to the early date is untenable.

For more on the Great Apostasy and the Dating of Revelation see my Who Is This Babylon? There is a wealth of information in this book.

Who is This Babylon

The Great Apostasy and the “Great Silence” of the Early Writings

The second point to consider is how the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction of the Great Apostasy accounts for the “silence” in church writings from about 70 AD to the second century. If, as we contend, Jesus’ words of an apostasy so widespread that “most people’s love will grow cold” were fulfilled before Jerusalem’s fall, then who was left with the courage or inclination to record those events? Their lack of courage caused them to forsake Christ when persecuted; why would they suddenly take heart after the event? In addition, the cessation of the miraculous in 70 would of preclude the writing of any inspired records after the event. We believe the Great Apostasy is to large extent responsible for the period of silence.

Summary and Conclusion
I have sought to demonstrate the fulfillment of Jesus’ words predicting the Great Apostasy. I have shown that Jesus did indeed predict one great apostasy — not two. I have examined the language and seen that he predicted the falling away for his generation. We have seen the magnitude of the event was predicted to be almost universal and seen the confirmation of that in the epistles.

The ramifications of accepting the postulate of this article are tremendous for both amillennial and premillennial schools. The amillennialist contention of two apostasies is false and therefore applications of the Pauline predictions to the future are not proper. The premillennial posit that Matthew 24 was not applicable to the first century is untenable on linguistic and contextual grounds. The millennial structure therefore falls as well — there is no predicted future Great Apostasy.

When it is acknowledged that Jesus predicted the Great Apostasy to occur in his generation, prior to his return, and when it is realized that apostasy did occur in the first century, one must also conclude that Christ came at the height of that apostasy just as predicted. The fulfillment of the prediction of the Great Apostasy demands fulfillment of the prediction of Christ’s parousia. The apostasy came — Christ also came.

The Law of Blood Atonement and Eschatology

law of blood atonement
The Law of Blood Atonement is a commonly overlooked tenet of the Law of Moses and yet, I propose that it is critical for understanding Biblical eschatology!

The Law of Blood Atonement and Eschatology

Deuteronomy 32:43
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”

This intriguing prophecy from Deuteronomy is commonly overlooked in discussions of eschatology. In fact, among Amillennialists, the significance of the Song is widely unknown. In 2016, I had a formal public debate with Dr. David Hester, professor at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Al.. As one of my major points, I noted that the salvation of Israel, to come at the parousia of Christ (Romans 11:26-27) , would be in fulfillment of Isaiah 27, which is a direct echo of the Song of Moses (32:28f). To understand the power of this argument, in relationship to Dr. Hester’s position, you must understand his theology.

The Law of Blood Atonement and Amillennialism

Allow me to note a few of the fundamental aspects of Dr. Hester’s eschatology:
1. Hester, along with the great majority of his fellowship of the churches of Christ, holds as a fundamental tenet, the idea that God was through with Israel at the cross.

2. As a direct corollary to this, Dr. Hester stated repeatedly that the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross. (Even though he never went to a single text and tried to demonstrate that exegetically).

These two related concepts are so foundational to Dr. Hester’s theology, and that of many Amillennialists, that they seem almost

unable to grasp the significance of something so vital as the Song of Moses to the story of eschatology. Even though Jesus and the NT writers cite the Song over and over again, as being fulfilled, or about to be fulfilled in the impending judgment, the implications of this are unseen, rejected or ignored.

In the aforementioned debate, I repeatedly noted that the coming of the Lord in Romans 11 would be in fulfillment of Isaiah (an Old Covenant promise to Old Covenant Israel) which in turn would be the fulfillment of the Song of Moses– which is about Israel and her last end. I observed and pressed the point that the Law of Moses could not pass until it was all – including the Song – fulfilled. But, that means that since the Song would be fulfilled at the coming of the Lord of Romans 11 (which Dr. Hester posited at the so-called “end of time”, that this demands that the Law of Moses remains valid until the end of time! This is, needless to say, fatal to Dr. Hester’s eschatology. If the Law of Moses would stand valid until the coming of the Lord, then to posit the coming of the Lord in the future is to impose the Law of Moses until that time. That is why in the debate, Dr. Hester said not one word – literally not one word – in response to this point and this issue.

If, as I suggest is undeniable, the Song of Moses and the Law of Blood Atonement lies behind much of the NT discussion of the vindication of the martyrs, then I suggest that it has a tremendous bearing on our understanding of the entire subject of eschatology. And this motif is devastating, not only for the Amillennialism of Dr. Hester, but, to all futurist views of eschatology.

The theme of the avenging of the martyrs of God is one that runs throughout scripture. From Genesis 4 where the blood of righteous Abel cries out from the ground, to Revelation, there is a constant thread, of the suffering of God’s saints and the promised vindication and glorification. Almost invariably that vindication is posited as taking place at the Day of the Lord (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-12 / Revelation 6:9-17). More on this momentarily.

For brevity, I will only make a few points about this great text of Deuteronomy 32 and how the New Testament writers utilized it.

First of all, this chapter is known as the Song of Moses, and foretold the events concerning Israel and her last days. The prophecy has nothing to do with any so-called “end of time” or the end of the Christian age (32:20; 29). The Song did not deal with Moses’ day either, as some have claimed. The Song foretold events far removed from Moses’ day, “many generations” to come.

Second, as a prophecy, the Song deals with the fate of Israel in her last days. Twice, the Song tells us that it is about Israel’s last end, her last time. It is not about the end of time, or the end of the Christian age.

Third, it is to be noted that Jesus appeared in the last days, the time foretold by the Song.

Fourth, it is critical to see that the NT writers tell us that they were living in the days foretold by the Old Covenant prophets (Acts 3:23f).

Fifth, the promise of the avenging of the martyrs – the Law of Blood Atonement – is one of Jesus’ favorite and most important eschatological topics. Furthermore, in Matthew 23:29f, Jesus emphatically and positively said that “all of the blood, of all the righteous, from righteous Abel (remember Genesis 4?) unto Zecharias, son of Berechais, whom you killed between the temple and the altar” would be avenged and judged in his generation in the judgment of Jerusalem.

So, Jesus appeared in the time foretold by the Song and promised what the Song foretold. And he said it would be fulfilled in his first century generation in the judgment of Jerusalem. This is irrefutable and inescapable.

Sixth, notice that YHVH said He would make atonement for the land and for the people. (Note: several translations render this “for the land, the people” which is more than a little intriguing and important, but we will not discuss that here).

Now, it is widely assumed that the atonement promised here is the death of Jesus. However – please pay careful attention here, and do not misunderstand what I am about to say – this ignores what the Law of Moses had to say about the Law of Blood Atonement and the atoning for blood guilt, which is what verse 43 is undeniably about.

The Law of Blood Atonement – No Sacrifice For Murder!

In Numbers 35, God made provision for the atonement of the land / people when murder had been committed.

“Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty. Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the priest. So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.’” (verse 30f)

Simply stated: the only atonement that could be made for murder was the death of the murderer! There was no call for repentance offered. No “saving sacrifice” could be given to spare the guilty from their fate. This means that the Atoning sacrifice of Christ would not be applied to his willful murderers! There could be no escape.

Here is a critical point: Throughout Israel’s history, she is depicted as the willful murderer of the prophets. For instance, notice that in Jeremiah 6, in the midst of accusations against Jerusalem for shedding innocent blood (Jeremiah 2) the Lord told the prophet to not even pray for the city! Nothing else could be done. They could not escape the impending judgment.

When we examine the rejection and killing of Jesus we find the same kind of hard heartedness. When Jesus was on trial, and Pilate found no fault in him, the crowd demanded his death, and cried out, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25f). The leaders of the people understood what they were doing. Note that when Judas brought the “blood money” back to the high priest, and said, “I have betrayed innocent blood,” the high priest responded, “What is that to us?” (Matthew 27:4f). Instead of being aghast at their crimes, the Sanhedrin simply shrugged their shoulders in indifference at their own guilt.

Interestingly, in stark contrast, Peter offered the (common) people an “out” declaring that they did not know what they were doing when the called for Jesus’ blood. He even said the leaders did not know what they were doing! (Acts 3:14f). However, Peter’ declaration must be tempered by the fact that Jesus said the leaders did have the greatest guilt, and that they basically admitted that they had purposefully killed an innocent man (Matthew 27:3-4; John 19:11). Peter was, essentially, seeking to offer “amazing grace” in his remarks, for without that offer only judgment remained.

With all of this in mind, let’s go back to Deuteronomy 32. In that text Moses foretold the time– Israel’s last days– when God would avenge the blood of His martyrs. Thus, there is no doubt that the killing of the innocents is in the forefront. What was the provision for making atonement for such killings? Well, in the case of those who “innocently” i.e accidentally or in ignorance, killed someone, there was a way of escape. They could flee to a city of refuge per Numbers 35.

Consider then that as Peter noted, the people killed Jesus in ignorance (Acts 3). Were they then to flee to a literal city of refuge, one of the six cities designated in Numbers and Deuteronomy? No. As the Hebrews writer said, he and his readers had, “fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18) by turning to Jesus, the one that had been slain.

On the other hand, for the guilty, the nation that had in effect purposely killed its Messiah, what remained for those who refused to repent, was death by the sword, per the Law of Blood Atonement in Numbers 35!

The Law of Blood Atonement in the New Testament

In Acts 2:22f Peter affirmed that Israel was without excuse for not recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus was, “approved of God by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” He continued, “You have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” this One that they should have recognized as their Savior. In verse 36, he reiterated their guilt in crucifying Christ. He then called on them to repent.

What is so remarkable is that under Torah, there was no repentance, no deliverance for what they had done. There was only the Law of Blood Atonement under the Law. So, Peter was essentially- radically– calling them to leave Torah behind. To remain in that system was to remain in a system that offered them only death and destruction. They could die to the Law by entering Jesus, their Christ, or, they could remain under Torah, and die by Torah.

The choice was dramatic, “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus (the) Christ, for the remission of sins” or, face certain death and judgment from God for shedding innocent blood. Thus, Peter called on his audience, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40.)

It is significant that Peter’s words echo Deuteronomy 32:5f, which called the generation of Israel’s last days “a crooked and perverse generation.” Peter was telling them that the fulfillment of the Song was upon them! They were in fact the “terminal generation” in which God would, “avenge the blood of His saints, and make atonement for the land, the people.”

When we couple the Song of Moses, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23 with Peter’s sermon, with the rest of the NT testimony the evidence is overwhelming. I suggest, in fact, that lying behind much of John’s Gospel is the Law of Blood Atonement, as the apostle chronicled the recalcitrance of the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.

Likewise, in Hebrews 6, the reference to fleeing for refuge to Jesus is a direct echo of the Law of Blood Atonement. The author urged his readers to flee to Jesus. He recalled the crucifixion of Jesus and warned them that to return to the folds of Torah, and not go onto the perfection in Christ was to willfully join in with those who crucified the Lord. To a Jewish reader, this could mean only one thing: Judgment would fall on them. Thus, in Hebrews to “sin willfully” (by returning to the fold of Judaism) was to “crucify Christ afresh” as chapter 6 said. But, it was also to bring “a fearful expectation of judgment” (10:26).

Jesus’ generation was the generation foretold by Moses in the Song. Just as the Song foretold, in Israel’s final generation, God would both avenge the blood of His saints, and bring judgment on their killers. In that same generation, He would call the Gentiles to be His people, due to the rebellious disobedience of Israel.

Deuteronomy 32 thus challenges our concepts of Atonement. We mostly think of it exclusively in terms of Jesus’ High Priestly functions. But as we have seen, this overlooks the issue of martyrdom, the Law of Blood Atonement and the application of Mosaic Covenant sanctions for shedding innocent blood. It is a tragedy of exegesis that this motif is so commonly overlooked.

There is no denying the efficacy of Jesus’ death and High Priestly praxis in making the Atonement. This is fundamental the very work of Christ as High Priest. That work, however, was for the repentant, for those of faith. It was for those who fled to him – and to the New Jerusalem, if you please– the true city of refuge. All of this is clearly true.

It is simply wrong however, to deny the aforementioned elements as they relate to martyrdom and the avenging of the blood of the saints. God decreed that there was no escape, no city of refuge for the unrepentant killers of His saints and of His Son. They met their fate in His awful judgment in AD 70. The Law of Blood Atonement – still fully in effect. It was applied to those guilty of killing the prophets, the Lord and his apostles and prophets. This is when the Song of Moses – and the Law of Blood Atonement – was fulfilled in the judgment of Babylon, and the angels sang: “He has avenged the blood of His saints!” (Revelation 19:1-2).