Be sure to read the first installment of this two part response. A critic of Covenant Eschatology claims that preterists ignore what the Bible actually says about time statements. It is claimed that the OT shows that when God used language of imminence that it could encompass hundreds of years. Of course, it needs to be clearly understood that those who make this objection would then turn around and appeal to texts that speak of events that were “far off” and say that we must understand those texts objectively! Thus, in the paradigm of the objector, “at hand” means a long time, or perhaps it means nothing, but, “far off” absolutely means a long time! Such inconsistency is a clear demonstration of not only the inconsistency, but the desperation of those who oppose Covenant Eschatology. Make no mistake, if (since) God communicated truthfully and objectively in the time statements of scripture then all futurist eschatologies are false. This is recognized by futurists, and so, they set out with the mission to nullify, mitigate, and explain away an entire Biblical vocabulary! (Be sure to read my Who Is This Babylon? for one of the most extensive studies of the Biblical time statements to be found anywhere. The special study in the book definitively refutes all attempts to negate the objective imminence of “at hand” “quickly” and “must shortly come to pass.” It is a must read if you want to understand Biblical times statements. In short, God Can Tell Time!
Space forbids examination of each of the other texts offered by the objector. However, let me remind the reader that all of the verses offered by the objector fall into the classifications that I noted in the first article. What we want to now is to present some other facts that the objector conveniently overlooked or ignored.
☛ We have numerous examples in the OT in which man tried to say that God’s time statements meant nothing objectively speaking, and God condemned them for doing so! See Ezekiel 12:21ff for just one example of many. God said Jerusalem’s end at the hands of Babylon was near, at hand, coming soon. The Judeans said the end was not near. God condemned them. See my Can God Tell Time for more examples.
☛ Jesus said the OT prophets had foretold events of his day, and those things were being fulfilled in his day (Matthew 13:17f). Now, if Jesus said the OT prophets foretold his day, then any attempt to negate the imminence of the NT language is specious.
☛ In Luke 21:8, Jesus warned of those who would say “the end has drawn near” prematurely. Now, if the objector is correct, Jesus could not condemn premature pronouncements of the end. After all, time means nothing. If the objector is right, then the OT texts that– per their claim— foretold distant events and described them as “at hand” were clearly premature, and thus false! But you see, according to Jesus, and as we will see momentarily, the OT prophets did not speak of the kingdom and the final end as at hand. They clearly knew that it was not for their day, but was far off!
Furthermore, Jesus’ own disciples declared, “The End of all things has drawn near.” and, per the objector, they were clearly premature, for the end has not yet come, 2000 years later. Thus, Jesus’ own disciples became some of the very false teachers Jesus warned them about!
☛ In Acts 2, Peter said Joel’s prophecy of the last days, and the events to transpire before, and as signs of, the Day of the Lord, were present, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Nothing could be more clear-cut, or undeniable. Peter’s exhortation to “save yourselves from this generation” cannot linguistically, grammatically, or contextually refer to a far distant generation.
☛ Peter also emphatically said that the OT prophets had foretold “these days” i.e. his first century generation, when they foretold the eschatological consummation (Acts 3:19-24).
☛ Peter said the OT prophets did not know the time or the manner of the parousia, but, that those things were being revealed to the apostles of the first century and “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 1:9-11; 4:7). So, while the objector says the OT prophets said the consummation was near– but, their time statements meant nothing– Peter flatly contradicts this, and says they knew the end was not for their day!
☛ Jesus said the Father knew the appointed “Day and the hour” of his parousia (Matthew 24:36). He also said the Father would send the Spirit to reveal “things to come” to the disciples (John 17:6-13). It was the Father, who revealed to the churches of Asia, “these things must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1-3). “The (divinely appointed) time is at hand” (ibid). Now, since it was the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour of Christ’s coming, and since the Father revealed that the time had arrived, then any and all objections to the objective imminence of the parousia when John and the NT writers wrote are falsified and overcome.
A final note: Is it not ironic that the objector speaks of “distant” events, and events far off, as objectively expressing long periods of time, but, he refuses to honor the “at hand” nature of the language? In other words, hundreds of years is actually, truly, a long time. But, we can distort “at hand” and “quickly” into well, a long time.
The indisputable fact is that God can tell time, and God has always communicated truthfully about time. He condemned men for “elasticizing” and stretching His time statements of imminence into nothingness and protraction.
While we have not been able to examine every single text offered by the objector, what we have done is to show how they ignored the wording of the texts they offered.
We have shown that those texts actually confirm the objective imminence of the language, properly understood.
We have shown how the objector ignored historical facts which confirm the language of imminence. We have shown how Jesus and the NT writers explicitly say the time foretold by the OT prophets– the last days– was present in the first century generation.
We have shown that the Father, who knew the Day and the Hour of the parousia, and who had promised to reveal those things through the Spirit, cause John (and the rest of the NT writers) to say and to write “in a very, very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37).
It is simply wrong therefore, to deny the objective imminence of the language found in both the OT and the New. When OT writers spoke of things that were at hand they were doing one of two things: One, they were projecting imminence. They spoke of a time many generations and a long time removed from their day, but said that when that time arrived, the consummation would be near (cf. Joel 2:28- Joel 3:1; Note that Joel speaks of events for the last days, and says (3:1) “in those days and at that time.” He thus projects himself to the last days, and then says “The Day of the Lord is near” (3:14). The Day was not near in Joel’s day, but “in those days, and at that time” i.e. when the last days arrived the Day would be near. And this is what we find in the NT, the predicted time had arrived (Acts 2:15f) and the Day was at hand (James 5:6-9).
Second, they spoke of events to be fulfilled soon, in their day, in their generation, and those things were fulfilled shortly, just as the language demanded.
The objector has therefore, failed to exercise proper exegesis and correct hermeneutic. He has failed to honor the actual words of the text, and engaged in eisegesis. The Objection is Over-Ruled!
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