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”.)
In this post I answer, with PART 1, the 3rd of the following questions put forward by Rhodes:
- Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?
- Is America in Bible Prophecy?
- Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur?
Israel regathered from Many Nations
Firstly, Rhodes says that the re-gathering of Jews from “many nations” that precedes the invasion in Ezekiel hasn’t happened before. This, however, is not true. After Solomon’s sin, Israel had been divided into the two Kingdoms of Israel in the North, consisting of 10 tribes, and Judah in the South along with Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom, called the House of Israel, constantly displeased God and was eventually overrun by the Assyrians who spread the Israelites from the 10 tribes all over the Assyrian conquered territories. Mixing the various conquered tribes was the Assyrian way of keeping resistance in check.
Then, several generations later, Judah had their turn in experiencing God’s judgment as they too failed to keep the covenant wholeheartedly. By this time Babylon had overtaken the Assyrians as the world power and Judah was taken as a unit into Babylon. At the end of 70 years, as God had prophesied through Jeremiah and confirmed through Daniel, the people of Judah were allowed to return. By then Babylon had fallen to the Medes and Persians who granted Judah’s right to return.
Prophetic Return of Judah and Israel
Among the returnees were not only those of Judah, but also remnants of those from the Northern Israelite kingdom whose families had previously migrated to Judah because of their own kingdom’s apostasy. Also, God’s providence toward Judah had created opportunity for all Israelites to return. This is clear because in Acts 26:6-7 Paul refers to the existence of the 12 tribes in the land. He says, “And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day.”
Furthermore, in Acts 2:5-11 Luke says, ‘Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”’
Surely these texts are evidence of the re-gathering from many nations!
According to Barnes: ‘There were dwelling at Jerusalem – The word rendered “dwelling” – κατοικοῦντες katoikountes – properly means to have a fixed and permanent habitation, in distinction from another word – παροικοῦντες paroikeountes – which means to have a temporary and transient residence in a place. But it is not always confined to this signification; and it is not improbable that many wealthy foreign Jews had a permanent residence in Jerusalem for the convenience of being near the temple.’
Clarke says: ‘Devout men, out of every nation – Either by these we are simply to understand Jews who were born in different countries, and had now come up to Jerusalem to be present at the passover, and for purposes of traffic, or proselytes to Judaism, who had come up for the same purpose: for I cannot suppose that the term ανδρες ευλαβεις, devout men, can be applied to any other. At this time there was scarcely a commercial nation under heaven where the Jews had not been scattered for the purpose of trade, merchandize, etc., and from all these nations, it is said, there were persons now present at Jerusalem.’
Finally, Ellicott says : ‘There were dwelling at Jerusalem.—The phrase is one of frequent occurrence in St. Luke’s writings (Luke 13:4; Acts 1:19; Acts 4:16). As a word, it implied a more settled residence than the “sojourning” of Luke 24:18 (see Note), Hebrews 11:9, but was probably sufficiently wide in its range to include the worshippers who had come up to keep the feast.’
It is evident that Israel has already experienced the literal re-gathering referred to in the passages in Ezekiel 36-38. It is not something of the future. And, more significant are the references in these passages to a second and more significant regathering. This is their spiritual regathering into Christ that began at Pentecost.
To further dismantle dispensationalism as presented by Ron Rhodes, I will show in my next post that just as the regathering of Israel from ‘many nations’ is a past event, so too is the corresponding so-called ‘Ezekiel invasion’. Can you imagine Russians and Muslims fighting Israel in the future on horseback? Probably not! However, if not, the texts are either allegory, or history (and not with Russians), but certainly not an end-time event as Rhodes would have you believe.
Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:
- Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
- Toppling Dispensationalism
- Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
- The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
- The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
- The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
- When Will The Rapture Occur?
- Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
- Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
- Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
- The Millennium
- Prophetic Events and Their Timing