Isaiah 66 and the Dispensational Theology of Postponement – #6
In our last article on Isaiah 66 and the Dispensational Theology of Postponement Doctrine, I took note that there is a direct, inseparable link between the Great Tribulation and the Resurrection. Thus, if it can be proven that the Great Tribulation was in the first century, this proves beyond doubt that A. The resurrection was in the first century, and 2, There was no postponement of the kingdom!
In light of these facts, consider then that Jesus and the New Testament writers undeniably posited the Great Tribulation– i.e. the birth pangs that would result in the New Creation of Isaiah 66 – for the first century generation. This is incredibly important, so in our next installment we will examine that motif.
In the Tanakh, in text after text, the end time Great Tribulation, is bound up with the resurrection, the New Creation, the kingdom. (See my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2, Future or Fulfilled? in which I document this from a host of scriptures). This reality is recognized by leading scholars.
Emile Schurer says that in ancient Jewish belief:
“Reference to the last things is almost always accompanied by the notion, recurring in various forms, that a period of special distress and affliction must precede the dawn of salvation…In Rabbinic teaching, the doctrine therefore developed of the birth pangs of Messiah which must precede His appearance (the expression is from Hosea 13:13; cf. Matthew 24:8).” (Emile Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Vol. II, (London; T and T Clark, 1979), 514).
Brant Pitre also calls our attention to the fact that in the Hebrew scriptures:
“According to the OT, the resurrection itself would be preceded by a period of great tribulation”… Daniel 12, which is the most explicit prophecy of resurrection in the Hebrew books of the Old Testament. Strikingly, this description of the resurrection is preceded by the Great Tribulation” (Brant Pitre, Jesus, Tribulation and the End of Exile (Grand Rapids; Baker Academic, 2005), 187).
Pitre then offers a summation of the Jewish eschatological narrative that he gleaned from many sources leading up to AD 30. What is so amazing – and significant – is that these tenets and principles listed below are used by Jesus and the apostles and expanded in NT. Jesus’ narrative followed the Jewish time line! Here is that time line and narrative that the Jews and Jesus shared:
1. Tribulation is tied to the restoration of Israel which requires an end to exile.
2. The righteous remnant would arise during the tribulation.
3. There will be a righteous Sufferer (individual); and the righteous collectively suffer and/or die during the Tribulation period.
4. The Tribulation is tied to the coming of the Messiah, sometimes referred to as the Son of Man.
5. There is a Tribulation that precedes the Final Judgment.
6. The Tribulation is depicted as the eschatological climax of the Israel’s exilic sufferings. (from Deuteronomy 28-30 the Law of Blessing and Curses).
7. The Tribulation has two stages: a preliminary stage and then a later greater tribulation.
8. The Tribulation precedes the coming of the eschatological kingdom.
9. An eschatological tyrant opponent or some anti-Messiah arises during the tribulation.
10. Typological images from the Old Testament are used to depict the tribulation (symbology, imagery).
11. The tribulation is tied to the ingathering and/or the conversion of the Gentiles.
12. The tribulation has some kind of an atoning or a redemptive function.
13. The Jerusalem temple is defiled and/or destroyed during the Tribulation.
14. The tribulation precedes the resurrection of the dead and a new creation.
To fail to see the direct link between the Tribulation and the resurrection is a massive over-sight. Dispensational Theology actually recognizes this, but fails to honor the timing of when these things were to happen.
Yet, we are witnessing today efforts to divorce those two concepts. Sam Frost recently made the claim that Daniel 12:1- Daniel’s prediction of the Great Tribulation- is not at the time of the resurrection of verse 2! He claimed that verse 1 was fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but verse 2 is not yet fulfilled and will not be fulfilled until the end of human history. To say the very least, there is not a word of textual support for this. Verse 2 is not a parenthetical insertion. There is no so far 2500 year gap between verse 1 and verse 2. When I challenged Frost, on Facebook, to prove his assertion, I never received a word of exegetical response. It was mere assertion, based on a presuppositional idea of resurrection.
In spite of such attempts, it is easy to document that among scholars, there is a recognition that there is a direct connection between the Great Tribulation and the resurrection. We will do that in our next- the final installment – of this series. When one sees the direct connection between the Great Tribulation and the resurrection, and accepts Jesus’ teaching on the Great Tribulation, then the Dispensational Theology of Postponement falls to the ground, as does any futurist view of the resurrection. Stay tuned!
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