Archive for September, 2018


Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3 Falls

A Response to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 3: Ron Rhodes asks, “What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?

(My response is also to Rhodes’ teachings in his book, “The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy”.)

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In this post I answer the 2nd of the following questions put forward by Rhodes:

  1. Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?
  2. Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  3. Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur?

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Is America in Bible Prophecy?

Rhodes and other futurists interpret several prophecies in the Bible in relation to Israel’s current existence. Because of that, Rhodes admits surprise at America not being mentioned in the Bible considering the role that they have and continue to play in Israel’s existence.

Given that the Bible typically mentions the nations that are allied to or who are against Israel, it should surprise dispensationalists that America isn’t mentioned in any of them. Needless to say, instead of this notable omission being a red flag to Rhodes’ futurist theology, he chooses to explain it away. He goes against his own good reason that expects a nation of such significance as America to Israel to have been mentioned, and against the precedent found in the Bible to do just that, and instead waxes eloquent with all sorts of probable reasons as to why America isn’t mentioned.

The omission of America is an obvious red flag that should have directed Rhodes and other dispensationalists to reconsider how the texts that they subscribe to Israel today might have already been fulfilled centuries ago. Sadly, though, he and other dispensationalists plunder forward investing way too much time and speculation around modern Israel and beyond using a false prophetic narrative.

Instead of focusing on the central message of the Bible that concerns what Christ has already done for Israel and the Gentiles, dispensationalists consume people’s time and money speculating about the future using prophecies that have already been fulfilled.

Rob Morley

Other posts in this series so far:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
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Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3 Falls

I’m Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 3: Ron Rhodes asks, “What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?

(My response is also to Rhodes’ teachings that are found in his other “end-time” dispensationalist literature.)

 ***********

 In this post I continue to answer, with PART 3, the 1st of the following 3 questions put forward by Rhodes:

  1. Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?
  2. Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  3. Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur?

***********

The Craving for Peace in the Middle East

This is another issue speculated on by Rhodes. He links this with the idea of ‘a revived Roman Empire’ from which supposedly the anti-Christ will come with peace solutions for the Middle East.

A Revived Roman Empire

This is another contrived notion from the misinterpretation of texts in the books of Daniel and Revelation. For example, regarding visions in Daniel 2 and 7, Rhodes says that ‘many modern biblical interpreters see the European Union as a primary prospect for the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy.’

Rhodes comments on Daniel 7:24-25 saying that ‘Rome never consisted of a-ten nation confederacy with ten co-rulers.’ But, is that even what the imagery is representing?

The text reads,

‘Thus he said: “As for the fourth beast,

there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth,
which shall be different from all the kingdoms,
and it shall devour the whole earth,
and trample it down, and break it to pieces.
As for the ten horns,
out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise,
and another shall arise after them;
he shall be different from the former ones,
and shall put down three kings.”’

What is this passage really about? Has it already been fulfilled?

Firstly, the context of this passage is of four beasts that represent four empires that follow on the heels of one another, each having an impact on the people of God. It is a parallel vision with the one in chapter two of a statue representing these same kingdoms. The kingdoms are generally understood to be Babylon followed by the Medo-Persians, Greece and finally Rome.

Furthermore, these kingdoms are each pictured as a single unit and therefore each have a single period of time. Therefore we ought to expect the fulfillments of the visions in the same way as they are structured. The four kingdoms follow consecutively. Also, when it comes to the detailed description of the fourth beast, we expect the horns to be immediately related to that beasts’ period of time.

Any idea of a great separation of time between the kingdoms or within a kingdom would be disingenuous to the imagery. Yet, this is precisely what dispensationalists would have us do with the text. They suggest that part of the imagery points to an end-time future. However, in order for that to be possible, the image of the statue would have been pictured with severed toes and the image of the fourth beast would have had the horns somehow disconnected from it, floating at a distance, but they aren’t.

The ‘ten horns’ and the ‘little one’ or ‘another horn’, represent a series of 10 emperors and a significant emperor that reigned after the establishment of the Roman Empire. ‘Another horn, a little one’ that ‘came up among’ the others speaks of the period that Domitian was stand-in Emperor. As the child of the Emperor, he fits with the term ‘little’ and, as the stand in Emperor, he fits with the term ‘horn’ (see Daniel 7:8 that parallels 7:24).

Furthermore, there is a ‘king’ that follows the ‘ten kings’. This would be Domitian who he later becomes Emperor in his own right. The ‘little’ ‘horn’ thus later became a ‘horn’. To ‘the saints’ he ‘seemed greater than his companions’ because he, in particular, ‘made war with the saints’, i.e. the people of God (see Daniel 7:21). In his time, ‘the saints’ were the Jewish and Gentile Christians who he severely persecuted.

He is the ‘another’ who is said to ‘put down three kings’. Domitian reigned in his father’s stead while his father was on a campaign, however, immediately before his stand-in reign, three other emperors followed in quick succession. They are referenced in Daniel 7:8, 20 and 24.

Interestingly, a case has been made for Domitian’s father Vespasian or his brother Titus being the horn; nevertheless, I believe Domitian fits best. Regardless of which one it is, these options are a far better than what Rhodes and other dispensational premillennialists speculate. Their idea is that these visions refer to a future outcome through a resurrected Roman Empire in the form of a European Union. This disjoins the vision, which is otherwise a single sequence of events, by almost 2 thousand years. Not only is this interpretively implausible, it’s laughable!

Globalism

Here Rhodes speculates around Rev 13:3-13 and the idea of a single world government under a single leader. However, the prophecy in Revelation is speaking about the Roman Empire that was just such a controlling government. Also, through the use of numerology, Emperor Nero is clearly linked with the number 666. At the time of the prophecy he was dead, however, the ‘beast, whose fatal wound had been healed’ meant that someone like Nero would reappear. Domitian was like Nero. He brutally persecuted the church just as Nero had. (Incidentally, it is clear that the ‘beast, whose fatal wound had been healed’ of Revelation and the ‘little’ ‘horn’ in Daniel are the same person. I personally believe that Domitian fits best.)

I have shown over several posts that the prophecies that dispensationalists place in the end-times have actually been adequately fulfilled in the past. Therefore, the burden of proof lies with them. However, according to Rhodes, this would be impossible for them to do because, according to him no signs precede the Second Coming and so the best that he can give as evidence are shadows of signs. And, shadows, as I have shown, are unauthorized speculations at best.

It comes down to using standard rules of interpretation and clear corresponding historical evidence vs. dispensationalist eisegesis that sees ‘shadows of signs’ in a future speculated using prophecy that has already been fulfilled.

Rob Morley

Other posts in this series so far:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3 Falls

I’m Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 3: Ron Rhodes asks, “What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?”

(My response is also to Rhodes’ teachings found in his other “end-time” dispensationalist literature.)

***********

In this post I continue to answer, with PART 2, the 1st of the following 3 questions put forward by Rhodes:

  1. Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?
  2. Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  3. Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur?

***********

The Rebirth of Israel

Before I begin, let me point out that according to dispensationalist Ron Rhodes, no signs precede the Second Coming. Therefore, by this reasoning the modern rebirth of Israel cannot be a sign, but only a shadow of a sign, which is how he describes something that resembles a sign in this ‘dispensation’. However, surely such a phenomenal contemporary happening in our time constitutes much more than just a shadow of a sign, but the sign itself.

So, is the modern rebirth of Israel a prophesied sign, or even a shadow of a prophesied sign? And, as significant as the modern rebirth of Israel is, to what extent does it match the prophecies concerning Israel being gathered again? Also, is there any evidence that these prophecies have already been fulfilled?

Firstly, the modern rebirth of Israel cannot possibly be a shadow of a sign. It’s far too dramatic an event for that. Therefore, it is either a sign, which messes up Rhodes’ dispensationalist theology, or it’s a phenomenal occurrence like many others that have happened and weren’t prophesied about. Take for instance the Holocaust where 6 million Jews lost their lives. This awful tragedy to the Jews, astonishingly wasn’t prophesied about.

Gathered to Christ

I believe the modern rebirth of Israel that we are witnessing is a sign. However, it’s not a sign in relation to some or other end-time event, but of God’s faithfulness to the promise of the land of Israel to Abraham’s natural posterity. Abraham was promised this land for his descendant s. Later, under Moses, they were brought into a covenant with God and were given the land. Subsequently, according to the covenant, they punished for their idolatry by being ejected from the land. Nevertheless, prophecies concerning their return to the land were given. Significantly, along with such prophecies, the prophets also spoke of a promise of another regathering too. However, this isn’t related to the modern regathering of Jews to their land. Instead, it relates to the Jews regathering in Christ, regardless of where they are found.

When Christ came, the Jews for the most part rejected Him. In fact, before His crucifixion He said, ‘I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.’ Yet, it did not remain all doom and gloom, because after Pentecost thousands received Christ. Nevertheless, because Israel on the whole would reject Christ, He prophesied that they would once again be ejected from the land, which happened in AD70. Note, that by this time the second gathering had begun to take place, only this time Jews were being gathered to Christ rather than to the land.

Jewish Salvation

Ezekiel was a prophet who prophesied concerning the salvation of the house of Israel and the gift of the Spirit saying, ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules’ (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Oddly, Rhodes cites this prophecy in relation to the ‘international regathering of Jews in unbelief’ since 1948. Yet, though the previous verse reads, ‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land,’ in context, Ezekiel was prophesying to the ten northern tribes known as the ‘house of Israel’.

The house of Israel was scattered over the then known world by the Assyrians. Afterward, some of these providentially returned on the wake of Judah’s return from Babylon. Centuries later, at Pentecost, the Spirit was given to many of them who turned to Christ and has continued to be given to those who repent, regardless of where they are.

Gathered Again

Consider Acts 2:5 where Luke writes ‘Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.’ Here the term “dwelling” is more than just visiting. Centuries before Christ came, Judah had returned from captivity in Babylon. However, Acts 2:5 clearly indicates that a significant number of Israelites from the ten tribes had returned too. This is corroborated further in Acts 2:36 when Peter said, “let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” By using the terms “all” and “Israel” together, Peter clearly addressed those of Judah along with those of the ten tribes that had previously been scattered over the known world by the Assyrians.

There are a number of Old Testament prophecies that are aligned to a second regathering and which are clearly fulfilled in Christ. He came to gather, to Himself, the remnant of Judah and Israel regardless of whether they were in the Land or not, along with people from all nations. For example, Isaiah 11:10-12 reads: ‘In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.’ The second recovery is not to a land, but to the root of Jesse, who is Christ, the ‘signal for the nations’.

Israel Gathered to Christ

Dispensationalists like Rhodes believe that God’s purposes for Israel and the Church are separate. They thereby detract from the union that Jews and Gentiles, who have come to faith in Christ, have in Him. They believe that the Jews missed their moment and, as a result, a delay has set in before God will work with them again. However, did they miss their moment?

Clearly Peter’s message to “all the House of Israel” (Acts 2:36) was that, though they had crucified Jesus by handing Him over to the Gentiles, they could repent and be part of their Messiah’s Church. After all, it was to Israel that the promises had been given, especially the promise of their Messiah. The result of Peter’s message was that ‘three thousand souls’ were added to the church. These were all Jews who believed and who were given the promise of the Holy Spirit, which had long before been prophesied to them. Clearly, God’s purposes for Israel and the Church are not separate. In fact, those of “all the House of Israel” who believed comprised the very early church!

Furthermore, in order to explain the outpouring of God’s Spirit that was evidenced in the disciples speaking in other languages, Peter quoted Joel 2:28 saying, ‘And afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.’ Sadly, Rhodes places this prophecy for future fulfillment thereby missing the obvious application that Peter was making to his own day and beyond.

Besides those three thousand Jews who were saved, the text goes on to say, ‘And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved’ (Acts 2:47). Then, thousands more were seen to be added in Acts 4:4 where it says, ‘But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.’

A careful examination of Scripture shows that many Jews came to faith. Consider also these texts that speak of Jews being saved in the early church: ‘Yet more and more believers were brought to the Lord–large numbers of both men and women’ (Acts 5:14). ‘In those days when the disciples were increasing in number’ (Acts 6:1). ‘So the word of God continued to spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem grew rapidly, and a great number of priests became obedient to the faith’ (Acts 6:7). ‘Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced a time of peace. It grew in strength and numbers, living in the fear of the Lord and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 9:31).

This church growth by Jews who had returned to their land was phenomenal by any standards. Even on Paul’s missionary journeys, though many Jews rejected the message, countless came to faith too. In fact, percentage wise, the number of Jews who have come to Christ even up to our era is comparable to many other nations.

The Scriptures and the last 2000 years are clear testimony that God’s purposes for Israel and the Church are not separate. Many Jews are being gathered into the Church, just as many Gentiles are. If anything, the nature of Israel’s regathering into Christ is a sign that not all will be saved and that God resists the proud, regardless of nationality.

In John 11:51-52, the high priest ‘prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.’ God’s plan for the Jews is clearly to gather them to Christ.

Rob Morley

Other posts in this series so far:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
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