Connections: Letting Scripture Interpret Scripturre
Growing up in an Amillennial religious environment I seldom (read that “never”) heard sermons on the Old Covenant background and source of New Testament eschatology. The idea that the NT writers were anticipating the imminent fulfillment of Old Covenant promises– after the Cross, and after Pentecost – was a foreign concept, and one to be rejected. The reason was simple. It was, and still is, considered a fundamental, irrefutable truth that God was through with the Old Covenant and with Old Covenant Israel at the cross.
When I graduated from “preacher school” (Seminary) and began to do my own independent study and research, however. I was shocked to learn that this supposedly “irrefutable” truth was in fact, seriously flawed and erroneous. The fact is that all NT eschatology is based squarely on, and drawn from the Old Covenant promises made to Israel. In one of my early books I made that statement. In fact, I stated that there are no new eschatological promises found in the NT. ALL NT eschatology is based on and drawn from the OT promises made to Old Covenant Israel.
Subsequently, in a formal public debate with a church of Christ minister, he got up and quoted that statement, and literally scoffed and ridiculed it: “Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?” Of course, he was playing to his audience. However, when I responded by presenting some charts with numerous quotes from the NT writers about the OT source of their eschatological hope, he never mentioned my quote again!
Now, I love “connections” in scripture, connections that tie passages together in such a way that the timing and nature of fulfillment is established. I call this “connecting the dots.” Another, bit more technical term is Analogia Scriptura, which simply means using Scripture to interpret scripture.
In this Short Shot, I want to share some very powerful “Connections” between important NT eschatological texts and their OT source. We begin with Isaiah 40:1-12:
Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.
Obviously, a full discussion of this prophecy would nullify the concept of a Short Shot. So, let’s just look at some of the key tenets.
➔ This is the prediction of the taking away of Israel’s sin. Isaiah serves as the fountain for Daniel 9:24f, where, “seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, to take away sin.” I will not discuss Daniel 9 here except to note that if / since Isaiah 40 serves as the inspiration for
Daniel 9, this means that the fulfillment of Isaiah 40 cannot be extrapolated beyond the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” of Daniel 9:26-27 – which occurred in AD 70.
➔ We have the prediction of the coming of the Lord in glory (v. 1-2).
➔ Not only is it the coming of the Lord in glory but “all flesh shall see it together.” This is directly parallel with Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he comes with the clouds and every eye shall see him.”
➔ The coming of the Lord in glory is a time of judgment and reward: “his reward is with him”
(v. 10-12). Thus, this is not a prophecy of the Incarnation of Christ. This passage, along with Isaiah 62:10f, serves as the fountain from which Matthew 16:27-28 – and another very significant passage that we will get to momentarily, flows
➔ The coming of the Lord is his coming in the kingdom: “his arm shall rule for him” (v. 10).
It is critical to honor the fact that this coming of the Lord predicted here was to be heralded by “The Voice of one crying in the wilderness!” Who was that, or who will that be?
Scripture is clear, The Voice was none other than John the Immerser! In John 1:19-23, John emphatically said, “I am the Voice…”. That means that John was the herald of the coming of the Lord, in judgment, in glory, in the kingdom. In addition, In Mark 1:1-3 the inspired writer quoted from Isaiah 40 directly and applied the prophecy to John:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’”
Notice how Mark not only identifies John as The Voice who was to proclaim the coming of the Lord, he also identifies him as The Messenger, of Malachi 3:1f. In Malachi, that coming of the Lord would be the Lord’s coming in application of the covenantal provisions (i.e. Deuteronomy 28-30) of wrath against Israel for violating Torah! It would be a national judgment, not an end of time judgment. It was to be God / Christ’s coming in application of the provisions of the Law of Blessings and Cursing, God’s covenant with Israel. It had nothing to do with the end of the Christian age, or the end of the current age.
And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien.
The laws from Torah mentioned here are found in Exodus 22:18-24 and Deuteronomy 27:19f. In Exodus 22:22, the judgment is clearly identified as a national judgment, when the Lord would come against Israel with the sword.
So, Isaiah 40 and Malachi 3 predicted the coming of the Lord in glory, in national judgment of Israel, in reward, his coming to rule in the kingdom, and John the Baptizer was the Voice and the Messenger proclaiming that coming Day, affirming that it was coming soon! With all of this in mind, look now at Isaiah 62:10-12:
Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the Lord has proclaimed To the end of the world: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.’” And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.
This chapter is echoing and repeating the promise of the coming of the Lord for the salvation of Israel found in chapter 40. Every element of Isaiah 40 is found here. And the Messianic theme is confirmed by the fact that this coming of the Lord is the time when the Lord would remarry Israel. In Hosea, he had divorced her (Hosea 2:1f) but promised that in the last days, He would remarry her, under the New Covenant (Hosea 2:18-23), Isaiah is echoing that promise of the last days restoration / remarriage. It would be at the coming of the Lord in judgment, salvation, the kingdom– “your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him.”
Can there be any doubt that this passage, along with Isaiah 40, is the source for Matthew 16:27-28? Both passages foretold the coming of the Lord in glory, the time of judgment and reward, the coming of the kingdom. Of course, in Matthew 16:27-28:
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
Jesus said in the clearest of terms that his coming, to reward every man, was to be in the lifetime of that living, first century generation: “Verily I say unto you, there are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see the son of man coming his kingdom.” The theological gymnastics engaged in by commentators to escape the force of Jesus’ words are sad to behold.
When we acknowledge that Isaiah 62 is drawing directly on Isaiah 40, this means that in reality, the coming of the Lord of Isaiah 62– the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 16:27-28 – was also the Day of the Lord heralded by John the Baptizer as Elijah, the Voice and the Messenger – and he said that judgment was at hand: “Who has warned you to flee from the wrath that is about to come?” (Matthew 3:7).
These connections in turn mean that the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 25:31f is the same coming of the Son spoken of by Jesus – to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 62. This logically follows since it is admitted that the coming of the Lord of Matthew 25:31f is Christ’s parousia for the Wedding, as set forth in Matthew 25:1-13.
Christ’s coming in Matthew 25:31f is the Lord’s coming for the Wedding.
The coming of the Lord for the Wedding was foretold by Isaiah 62, which foretold the coming of the Lord in judgment “and his reward is with him.”
But, the coming of the Lord for the Wedding, in fulfillment of Isaiah 62, was the coming of the Lord of Matthew 16:27-28, which was to be in the first century generation.
Therefore, the coming of the Lord of Matthew 25:31f for the Wedding was to be in the first century generation.
A slightly modified argument based on Isaiah 40 can be offered:
The coming of the Lord of Matthew 25:31f is the coming of the Lord in judgment, reward, the kingdom and the Wedding.
Isaiah 40 is a prediction of the coming of the Lord in judgment, reward and the kingdom – (“his reward is with him”; “his arm shall rule for him”).
The coming of the Lord in judgment, reward and the kingdom was to be heralded by John the Baptizer as The Voice of one crying in the wilderness.
John, as the Voice, said the coming of the Lord in judgment, reward and the kingdom was near.
Therefore, the coming of the Lord of Matthew 25:31f, the coming of the Lord in judgment, reward and the kingdom was the coming of the Lord heralded by John the Baptizer and was imminent in the first century.
Thus, the temporal delimitation of John, as The Voice and the Messenger (and Elijah), in positing the kingdom and the judgment as coming soon, conflated with Jesus’ statement that the anticipated judgment and kingdom was to be in that first century generation serve as definitive and irrefutable proof that the Day of the Lord, the coming of the Lord in the judgment and the kingdom – the coming of the Lord of Matthew 25:31f – was to be in the first century.
Finally, notice the connections of all of these passages to Revelation. In the Apocalypse, Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me.” As with Matthew 16:27f, this is a direct echo of Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 62 and the promise of the coming of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom and “his reward is with him.” Significantly, the only two OT Messianic prophecies of the coming of the Lord “and his reward is with him” are Isaiah 40 & 62. And the only two NT prophecies of the coming of the Lord “and his reward is with him” are Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12, both of which contain emphatic declarations of the nearness of that coming. (Clearly, other passages speak of Christ coming in judgment, but the terminology of “My reward is with me” / “his reward is with him,” etc. is distinctive).
Is this coming of the Lord and his reward with him in Revelation 22 a different coming of the Lord from that which Jesus predicted in Matthew 16:27-28? Is this coming of the Lord with his reward of Revelation a totally different coming of the Lord in judgment, in the kingdom, from that foretold in Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 62? We have already established that the coming of the Lord in Matthew 16:27 is the coming of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom of Isaiah 62 – the coming of the Lord for the Wedding. Since the coming of the Lord in Revelation is his coming in judgment, reward, and for the Wedding, this serves as all but irrefutable proof that the coming of the Lord of Revelation was to be in the first century. (This is established by the fact that in Matthew 22:1f and Revelation 19, the Wedding is posited at the time of the judgment of Jerusalem / Babylon).
We find then the connections of Isaiah 62 –> Matthew 16:27-28 and Revelation. In Isaiah 62, the coming of the Lord in judgment, his coming with his reward, is the time of the Wedding. Likewise, in Revelation, the imminent coming of the Lord with his reward – and in judgment -was the time of the Wedding (Revelation 19:6). Were there to be two totally different Weddings of the Lord at his coming in judgment and the kingdom? That is patently a novel and untenable idea. Thus, these “connections” stand firm.
Now, all of this means that the end of the Millennium came in the first century! How so? Consider:
Where does Revelation posit the time of salvation?
Answer: At the coming of the Lord in judgment of Babylon, the city “where the Lord was crucified” (19:1-3).
Where does Revelation posit the time of the kingdom?
Answer: At the same time (Revelation 11:15-19).
Where does Revelation posit the time of the Wedding?
Answer: At the coming of the Lord in the judgment of Babylon (Revelation 19:6).
Where does Revelation posit the time of the judgment, and thus, the parousia and the Wedding?
Answer: At the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:10-21f).
To state this succinctly:
The time of the judgment, the resurrection, the Wedding and the Kingdom is at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:10f / 21:1-3).
But the coming of the Lord in judgment was at hand, coming soon, shortly and quickly when John wrote Revelation (Revelation 22:, 10-12).
Therefore, time of the judgment, the resurrection, the Wedding and the Kingdom at the end of the Millennium, was at hand, coming soon, shortly and quickly, when John wrote Revelation.
And one further closing thought on this:
The time of the resurrection, the rewarding of the dead, and the destruction of the enemies of God is the end of the millennium- Revelation 20.
But, time of the resurrection, the rewarding of the dead, and the destruction of the enemies of God occurs at the judgment of the city where the Lord was slain– Revelation 11:15f.
Therefore, the end of the millennium occurred at the judgment of the city where the Lord was slain.
Of course, detractors and objectors tell us that God does not tell time like man does, so all of these connections with their time indicators cannot be taken at face value. But such claims make a mockery of language and God’s desire and ability to communicate truthfully to His creation. The fact is that God can tell time perfectly and has always communicated truthfully to man when he spoke of the timing of events. When He said something was near, it was near as man sees “near.” When He said something was “not near” that meant is was “not near” as man sees nearness. All attempts to ignore, mitigate and deny God’s temporal statements are a denial of His Truth, therefore. And it is the heighth of arrogance when we witness former preterists literally mocking, in derision, any appeal to these times statements!
I think the reader can see how powerful these “connections” really are. We have shown how two key OT prophecies of the coming of the Lord in judgment, reward and the kingdom serve as the source for the ministry of John the Baptizer, for Jesus’ prediction of his coming in the kingdom, for the time of the Lord’s coming for the Wedding, and the end of the Millennium. The “connections” are clear, and they are undeniable. And these “connections” confirm the truth of Covenant Eschatology.
(See my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution for Romans 11:25-27, in which I discuss the incredible significance of John as The Voice, the Messenger and Elijah. In short, apart from Jesus and Paul, John the Baptizer is the most significant eschatological figure in the NT. His ministry and message is prima facie proof of full preterism. Unfortunately, he is one of the most overlooked or ignored figures in the NT).