Tag Archive: endtimes


Responses to ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’

Herewith are my responses to a series of debates put forward by Dispensationalist Ron Rhodes in his book, ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.’ I trust that my posts will help toward establishing God’s truth and dismantling the wayward doctrine of Dispensationalism.


Dominoes Falling (1)

Debate 1

Should Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Allegorically?

Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical

Toppling Dispensationalism


Dominoes Falling (2)

Debate 2

Are Israel and the Church Distinct in Bible Prophecy?

Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct


Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3

What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?

Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?

Israel

Middle East, European Union, Globalism?

Is America in Bible Prophecy?

Israel regathered from Many Nations

Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?


Dominoes Falling (4)

Debate 4

Which View of the Rapture Is Correct?

When Will The Rapture Occur?


Dominoes Falling (5)

Debate 5

How Are We to Understand the Book of Revelation?

Taking Issue with Futurism

Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation

Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses


Dominoes Falling (6)

Debate 6

How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?

The Antichrist – Conundrum and Distraction

Who is the Antichrist?

Who Restrains Him? What Nation is He from? What is the Mark of the Beast?

Timing of the Antichrist


Dominoes Falling (7)

Debate 7

Which View of the Millennium Is Correct?

The Millennium


Dominoes Falling (8)

Debate 8

Is It Okay to Set Dates on Prophetic Events?

Prophetic Events and Their Timing


Other posts referenced:

Numerology in Revelation

Jewish Salvation

Restoring the Kingdom to Israel – The Christian Researcher

Rob Morley

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Dominoes Falling (8)

Debate 8

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

Debate 8: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘Is It Okay to Set Dates on Prophetic Events?’

Dispensationalist, Ron Rhodes looks at both the case for ‘Yes, Set Dates’ and ‘No, Don’t Set Dates’. In response, I discuss interpreting the timing and dates of key prophecies in the Bible.

Timing of Prophetic Events

Firstly, ‘Is It Okay to Set Dates on Prophetic Events?’ is unfortunately a poorly constructed question, because we don’t set dates on prophetic events, God does. Secondly, it is evident that, when it comes to the prophetic events foretold in the Scriptures, details concerning their timing are not always given. For example, with regard to the Second Coming, Jesus made it clear that no one knew that date except the Father. On the other hand, there are many prophecies that were made by the prophets and Jesus Himself that include timing with their predictions.

Problems

Problems arise when timing has not been indicated and folk still try to determine it. In this regard, many have made fools of themselves by predicting dates for Christ’s return. Furthermore, problems occur when assumptions about the timing in other texts affect the texts at hand. In this regard, certain postmillennialists have tried to indicate the start of a literal 1000 year millennium. However, by having knowledge of the start of a literal millennium would mean that one could determine the timing of Christ’s return, which He said no one knows. So, not only do they waste their time with a literal understanding of the millennium, their view also clearly disproves itself.

In this regard, though Premillennialists (including Dispensationalists) have their own versions of a literal Millennium, they escape this problem because they believe that the second coming occurs before the Millennium. For more on this you can read my post, The Millennium.

Next, where timing has been indicated in the Scriptures, often incorrect assumptions and expectations that arise from false doctrine cause many to ascribe wrong or false eras to events in certain texts. This is a common mistake Dispensationalists make with several scriptures. For example, their misinterpretation of the timing of the events in Daniel’s prophecy concerning the 70th Week is the cause of, or results in, their false view of the timing of events in other Scriptures. I say more on this topic earlier in the series, see Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2.

As a result of their misinterpretation of the timing of the texts, they separate what God has joined in Christ, that is to say, the simultaneous salvation of both Jews and Gentiles into His Church. As a result, they sever the Scriptures and falsely align some to a supposed post rapture Jewish period beyond the Church era. Incidentally, another text that has its timing incorrectly assumed by Dispensationalists is Romans 11:25-27, which concerns Jewish Salvation.

Timing vs. Dating

Also of note is that often only general timing is given rather than exact dates. This is done by correlating certain persons and or events with other persons and or events. For example, the exact date of Jesus’ ministry wasn’t predicted in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, it is evident from the Scriptures that His ministry correlates with and follows John the Baptist’s. In this way the timing acts as one of the many proofs that Jesus is the Messiah.

Significant Prophetic Events

Here are examples of prophecies from Scripture with and without time frames:

  1. 70 Years Captivity

Jeremiah prophesied that Judah would be in captivity in Babylon for 70 years:

‘And this whole land will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for seventy years’ (Jer 25:11).

Clearly Daniel understood the timing in Jeremiah’s prophecy before it was fulfilled:

‘In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the sacred books, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years’ (Dan 9:2).

  1. Seventy Weeks

Daniel was given a detailed time frame concerning the times that Israel would go through after captivity until the destruction of the temple.

Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” (Dan 9:24-27).

Daniel was given other prophecies with details that fit within the seventy weeks. For example, specifics are prophesied concerning the ongoing conflict between the Seleucid and the Ptolemy kingdoms referred to by Daniel as the ‘the king of the north’ and ‘the king of the south’.

  1. Three Days And Three Nights In The Heart Of The Earth

Jesus clearly gave a time frame concerning His death and resurrection. Consider the following verses:

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).

‘From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matt. 16:21).

  1. Destruction of the Temple

Jesus told His disciples that the temple would be destroyed. This prompted His disciples to ask, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Bear in mind that the discussion was, initially, in relation to one event, namely the destruction of the temple. As such, it is not clear whether the disciples were referring to Jesus’ ‘coming’ with reference to Him destroying the temple or to His Second Coming, or whether they had conflated these. Similarly, ‘the end of the age’ could be with reference to the end of the Temple Age or the end of the Church Age and of the world at Christ’s Second Coming.

Nevertheless, Jesus gives clarity by answering the questions asked by the disciples in connection with the end of both ages. He separates what the disciples may have conflated, i.e. the end of the Temple Age and Christ’s return at the end of the world.

Here is how He answers the questions with regard to the temple:

Q: “When will this happen?” i.e. when will the temple be destroyed?

A: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

Q: “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” i.e. what sign will you give that you are coming to destroy the temple?

A: The sign he gives is “‘So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains …’ (Matt 24:15-16)

Bear in mind that Jesus also spoke of His imminent “coming on the clouds,” which clearly had to do with Him bringing judgment upon Israel. He said, “But I say to all of you, from now on you will see the Son of sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt 26:64).

  1. Christ’s Return and the End of the World

Though Jesus new in which generation the temple would be destroyed, He was not yet privy to the timing of His return at the very end. He avoids combining the end of the Temple Age with His return at the end of the world by answering the latter in this way:

Q: “When will this happen?” i.e. when will Jesus return to judge the world?

A: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left”(Matt. 24:36).

Having emptied Himself of His Divine ability and having not yet ascended, Jesus was at this point uninformed concerning the timing of His Second Coming.

Q: “…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” i.e. what sign will indicate that Jesus is going to return?

A: Jesus does not give a ‘sign’ for this event. Instead He answered them saying, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matt 23:4-8).

Having said, “concerning that day and hour no one knows”, Jesus said, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:36-44). In this case Jesus’ coming has to do with Him returning to judge the believers’ works, as their sins have already been judged at the cross, and unbelievers for their sin.

Furthermore, the idea that Jesus is referring to two distinct periods, i.e. the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, is evidenced by Jesus indicating that their generation would experience the temple being destroyed and by Him also speaking of prolonged troubles as “the beginning of the birth pains.”

  1. Restoring the Kingdom to Israel

“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority…” (Acts 1:6-7).

Concerning the timing of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). Jesus had willingly told them about the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple as it was already revealed in Daniel, but said nothing concerning the timing of restoring the kingdom to Israel and His Second Coming, because God had said nothing about the timing of these in Scripture.

The restoration of the kingdom to Israel had to do with the giving of the Holy Spirit to believing Israelites, which is Christ’s Church, initially comprising only believing Jews. In this way alone, Israel is restored to her role of being God’s kingdom of priests (see Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:5,9; Rev 1:6,10). Gentiles were only later engrafted as part of God’s restored Israel.

Paul said, not all Israel is Israel, therefore do not confuse God’s restoration of the kingdom to Israel, i.e. the Holy Spirit given to the Messiah’s Church, with Him providentially allowing for a modern state of Israel to exist. For more on this, may I recommend a PDF article that I discovered on the internet, Restoring the Kingdom to Israel – The Christian Researcher.

  1. Things That Were Soon To Take Place

‘The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place’ (Rev 1:1). The phrase ‘what must shortly (or soon) take place’ goes hand in hand with the phrase “for the time is near (at hand)” (Rev 1:3). These verses establish the very imminent nature of what was prophesied. For more on this please see my post Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1.

Conclusion

The main thing we need to know concerning timing is that we are to be about God’s business of reconciliation until Christ’s return, and that each day is a day closer to that incredible day. Until then, He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Hallelujah!

Finally, I would like to close with a link to my post Toppling Dispensationalism. In it I warn of the outcomes of this false doctrine that is taught and believed by thousands of my brothers and sisters in Christ. May God keep our eyes on Jesus as we proclaim His salvation for all in this the only ‘dispensation’ before His return and the final judgment.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  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?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Dominoes Falling (5)

Taking Down Debate 5

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

Debate 5: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Book of Revelation?’

Rhodes asks, ‘Which Interpretive Model Is Correct – Historicism, Idealism, Preterism, or Futurism?’

Spiritual Warfare

For starters, though Rhodes calls it a debate, he is not attempting to give you a fair representation of the various views. Instead, his intention is to lead you into his belief of Futurism. I am writing to counter his view and to warn you of what you can lose by believing futurism and, on the other hand, of the great gain in believing the truth.

Your Sword is at Stake

Chapter 4-22 of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave, is at stake. That’s 19 out of 22 chapters. That’s 86% of a book that was designed to strengthen you in times of trouble that futurists say doesn’t belong to you. They say it’s about another people; Jews who they believe will remain on earth after the rapture.

This futurist thinking is partly based on the gross misinterpretation of words, “Write those things which shall be hereafter.” The term “hereafter,” however, was not meant for some 2000 years hereafter, but hereafter to the day in which John was living. They were to be words of prediction and comfort for that generation as they faced their enemies, Babylon, the Beast and the 2nd Beast, under Satan. These words, in turn, have become a book to comfort countless generations as they have faced the same enemies.

Discovering the Interpretation Model

Firstly, the method of interpretation that one uses for a book is not an outside tool that unlocks the text, but is instead a tool that’s interpreted from the text. The ‘interpretive model’ is therefore something that is discovered by observation. With that in mind we can determine what method of interpretation that should be applied to the book of Revelation by observing the genre of the book, the intended audience and any evidence of timing related the audience or any predictions.

The Genre is Prophecy

In the opening lines of the book we read, ‘Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.’ This book is therefore no doubt a prophecy. But what is prophecy? Is it just a bunch of predictions?

Prophecy in the Old Testament and also here in The Revelation was primarily a form of feedback from God as to how well His people were doing in light of their covenant relationship with Him. Then, in light of His evaluation of His people, God sometimes predicted various judgments as warnings. These, however, were preventable through changed behavior.

Such prophecies often spoke of the enemies of His people Israel and how God was going to deal with them too. In the case of The Revelation, it speaks likewise of the enemies of His people the Church, and how God will deal with them. Based on their behavior, the prophecies often predicted their inevitable judgment.

So, prophecy dealt in part with behavior and in part with an associated prediction of judgment. In The Revelation, God begins judgment with His people to bring about repentance where needed. This is appropriate because judgment begins in the household of God. He then deals with their enemies, the world (Babylon), world power (the beast), false religion (the second beast), and Satan (the dragon).

The Genre is Apocalyptic

The book is filled with symbolic terms in phrases, names and numbers that need to be interpreted. The initial audience would have had the keys for the interpretation. Firstly was to note what John said concerning the symbols as he often interpreted his own writing.

Secondly, was recognizing the reuse of terms that had previously been used in Scripture. Here the original context lent meaning to the newer context, however, determining whether it was symbolic or literal required further consideration.

Once a pattern of figurative or literal interpretation is identified, barring clear internal changes, then that becomes the normative method for the whole text. This is because the author would not chop and change as this would be confusing to his audience.

In Revelation, John is most helpful by setting us off in the direction of figurative interpretation, interpreting his references to Old Testament images with figurative meaning. For example, ‘Gog and Magog’ (Rev 20:7), the traditional foes of the people of God, are interpreted by John as ‘the nations in the four corners of the earth’. That makes sense as this world is at enmity with the Church, God’s people; just as Gog and Magog had been with Israel.

Another example is where he interprets the image of ‘the ancient dragon’ as ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan’. Though he interprets for us in many cases, he also leaves the readers to interpret terms based on their knowledge of the Scriptures.

For some reason, many stubbornly hold on to a literal meaning when it comes to the numbers, even in the face of them clearly being used symbolically. Remember, however, that consistency is the key. Therefore, if in the case of numbers figurative language has been clearly and repeatedly used, we should assume that all the numbers are most likely figurative too.

With this in mind, consider how the Spirit of God is introduced to the Churches at the beginning of the letter as the 7 Spirits. We know it’s the Holy Spirit, but 7 is used do display the figurative meaning of omnipresence, i.e. that He is with each Church. This sets the scene for numbers having meaning.

Throughout Revelation distinct numbers are used that were previously used in God’s word, only now with figurative meaning. Revelation uses an apocalyptic style that embraces figurative language with clear evidence of symbolically represented numbers. (See Numerology in The Revelation).

Sometimes the numbers are used literally and figuratively, for example the 7 churches, but never only literally. However, even in the case of the churches, the selection of a literal seven out of many churches in Asia was intentional toward the figurative meaning behind the number 7. It was a comment on God’s church.

Often the numbers that are used are combinations of the distinct numbers of Scripture which adds to the meaning. With that in mind, any literal interpretation of the 144000 of the tribes of Israel or of the 1000 years in chapter 20 is nullified. This dismantles any Futurist notion of 144000 Jews after the Rapture or of a literal future 1000 year reign of Christ.

The Genre is a Letter

The book is a letter that was written to a specifically named audience. It had a purpose. It was prophetic, i.e. correctional and predictive. Like other New Testament letters it was instructional and encouraging. Be assured, all 22 Chapters were meaningful and relevant to the audience.

The Genre is a Drama

The structure of the book is a series of visions within a drama. This is to be expected as the main Church was Ephesus (where John was from) with a large amphitheater and they would have been used to this form of communicating. The scenes are repetitions of the same time frame only dealing with how Jesus is pictured and how the Church is seen in context to different opposition. This form of presentation emphasizes that it was a message firstly for the audience of that time and place.

Audience

Through interpretation we can see that the initial audience was very much in mind. For example, the audience is stated as ‘the seven churches in the province of Asia’. Yet, based on assumptions around the change of scenes between chapter 3 and 4 (or 5 and 6 in some cases), Futurists interpret chapters 4-22 as being applicable to an end-time audience. In so doing, they rob us of applying in our lives what is clearly interpreted for John’s generation.

Prediction

The phrase, ‘what must shortly/soon take place’, is stated as the reason for the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It forms part of the reason for the book. The alternative, ‘what must quickly take place’, i.e. whenever it happens it will be ‘quickly’, is debunked by the intended audience having been clearly identified. Unless, of course, “quickly” is used with regard to the initial audience and not some future audience. Furthermore, the phrase “for the time is near/at hand” (Rev 1:3) establishes the imminent nature of what is prophesied, especially that it is part of the introduction to the book as a whole.

The number of the mark of the beast, 666, clearly identifies as Nero, yet the beast ‘had the wound by a sword, and did live’. Therefore, though Nero had died, the beast was predicted to manifest through another leader as it had through Nero. History shows us that Domitian was the leader that was like Nero in his persecution of the Church, a reincarnation of the beast that they were being warned about.

Though they appeared in human form in John’s day as the world, false religion and ungodly governmental power (all under Satan), these enemies, including Satan, are written about in such a way that they are seen to transcend the generations. So, though they are definitely interpreted with a Preterist model, i.e. for the 1st century churches that were addressed, nevertheless, their longevity before their destruction lends to an intended Idealist model too, i.e. to the broader Church and the ongoing Church.

The end of these enemies who afflicted the churches that John wrote to (mainly Preterist), and who afflicted other churches then and many more throughout the Church age (also Idealist) will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire at the end of the Church age (briefly Futurist).

Preterist Model is Correct

In Conclusion, the Revelation is Preterist in the main with Idealist and Futurist parts. However, the evidence in the text points to a Preterist interpretation. This Preterist interpretation was intended for John’s audience, but as application for the Church throughout the ages. Preterism is the correct interpretive model. Preterism does not imply that there isn’t any mention of idealistic or futuristic elements.

Idealism for Application

Idealism is a great way to apply the Preterist truth for all generations. It was obviously not Idealist for the original audience, however, as evidence points to that audience being addressed along with certain specific issues of their time.

Historicist Error

As for Historicism, this is the view that the Revelation is of events that would unfold in history. The same objection exists as was given to the Idealist model. Parallels in history are better considered as application of Preterist interpretation rather than the text specifically predicting these latter events. Identifying the papal system in Revelation during the Reformation is an example of this. To the extent this was true, its only by way of application of the timeless truths and principles found in Preterist interpretation.

Futurist Deception

Don’t let the Futurists steal Chapter 4-22 from you. Beware of those who inadvertently make Israel more important than Jesus Himself. God became man and said He was going to build a Church and the Futurists make it a parenthesis. Some will dance with a blend of these beliefs, but, the extent to which the Church is diminished, they diminish the very purpose of Christ and therefore of God Himself.

Revelation 4-22 is for the Church

The Church has replaced Israel. Now, I do not mean by that that the Jews are forsaken. Rather, the Church is the fulfillment of the New Covenant that the Jews were promised. Their own Messiah is building His Church in which He includes any who believe. His is the blood of the New Covenant. The Apostles were among the first of multitudes of Jews who have believed. To the Jews belongs this covenant. It’s their New Covenant by which I, a Gentile, am grafted into their heritage of covenants and promises that are fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God.

Gentiles are grafted into the Jewish faith. The Church comprises Jewish believers in their Messiah (Christ) and Gentile believers in the same. It is the Jewish Messiah’s plan for Israel and the world. It’s the New Israel that God has established for any of Israel to participate in (through faith) and also for anyone else in the world.

New Covenant Replaced the Old

Concerning God’s promise to Israel, the book of Hebrews reads: “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: … For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:6-13).

The last generation to live under the old covenant still existed at the time of the author. Hence, it was vanishing until the destruction of the temple.

The Fig Tree

‘Seeing a fig tree by the road, he (Jesus) went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered’ (Matt 21:19).

What did the fig tree represent? Israel. What did he mean by ‘never’? Never.

The Kingdom Given to the Church

To the Jewish leaders Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (Matt 21:43). Compare that with God’s word says to His Church, comprising Jews and Gentiles, ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (1 Peter 2:9). How about to the Church in Revelation where it says ‘He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father’ (Rev 1:6)?

Conclusion

Besides robbing the Church of most of the book of Revelation, the Futurist lie is that the Jews have a future mapped out for them after the Rapture. They interpret a hope for Israel outside of their Messiah’s Church and the New Covenant in His blood being offered now. (Here’s my post on Jewish Salvation).

By teaching that Revelation 4-22 belongs to a future generation of peoples after the Rapture, Futurists lose the validity, purpose and impact that it was meant to have in our lives. It’s sadly a lie that my brothers and sisters believe, which Satan has brought into the Church in order to blunt the sword of the Word of God in the lives of believers and the Church as a whole.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  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?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3 Falls

This post is PART 1 to 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?

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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 dispensationalist literature.)

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Dispensationalist Double-talk

When it comes to signs, Rhodes has created his own dispensationalist double-talk. On the one hand he encourages the discernment of the signs of our times, which he says ‘Jesus desires us to do’, sadly misappropriating Jesus’ words in Matt 16:1-3 and Luke 21:29-33. (This I’ll let slide as Rhodes has bigger problems). Then, on the other hand he says that no signs precede the rapture and that they have to do with the Second Coming of Christ. This is obviously illogical, because how can one discern the signs of our times when none precede the rapture?

Chasing Shadows

His explanation around this is that what is seen as signs of our times are not signs, but are the shadows of the signs, or the stage being set for the signs that are only to appear after the rapture. Of course we are told nowhere in the Bible to look for shadows of signs or for the stage setting for signs and so he fosters Christians busying themselves with unauthorized speculation around supposed shadows. If, however, he says that the shadows are not speculation, then they must be signs. However, if they’re signs, he then refutes his own theology that doesn’t expect to see signs before the rapture.

Biblical Signs

Rhodes says ‘a sign of the times is a prophetic event that points to the end times’. Here he hijacks terminology used by Jesus in relation to His visitation (see Matt 16:3) and redefines it in relation to the “end-times”. So, he is clearly off to a bad start.

In the manner that he approaches some signs, Rhodes appears to, at times, go against his own ‘qualification’ that no signs precede the rapture. Related to these “end-time” signs, Rhodes goes on to say, ‘Scripture specifies quite a few signs (for example, see Matthew 24-25, 1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Timothy 4:3-4)’.

Now, before we consider these, it should be noted that signs in the Bible, whether seen or prophesied, are related to a context in space and time and are very clear evidences that point to an associated reality in the same or a later space and time context. Therefore, signs are clearly seen in their contexts and they are clear about what they are pointing to, which is in huge contrast to speculating around signs, let alone around shadows of signs.

Now, whether he considers them to be signs or shadows of signs, let’s first consider whether any clear evidence exists of these signs having already occurred. If they have, it will save a lot of time speculating about shadows of signs and we will have been kept from false end-time narratives.

To Which Generation Do These Prophecies Belong?

Within Matthew 24-25 Jesus says, “…when you see all these things, you know that he/it is near, at the very gates.” In context, Jesus immediately goes on to say, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Some futurists say that because “this generation” is in relation to “all these things”, i.e. the prophecies in Matthew 24, they cannot see how it is possible to ascribe this to the “generation” of the apostles. They suggest that Jesus is referring to an end-time “generation” in which “all these things” must take place. But is this true?

Note that the context has Jesus talking to his disciples and so when he says “when you see all these things, you know…” the pronoun “you” clearly indicates that his message was specifically for the disciples. This is immediately corroborated by Jesus saying to them “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” If Jesus meant otherwise, then “they” and “that generation” would have been used.

The Escalation of Apostasy

Rhodes fosters the typical futurist hype around terms like ‘latter times’ found in 1Timothy 4:1-2. But, does this refer to our days and beyond? When Paul writes, ‘Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils…’, the context is that he is instructing Timothy and the church on how they should behave in the household of God. He is therefore not dropping some random future “end times” prophecy, but he is instead writing to keep Timothy and the church from going astray at a time already considered ‘the latter times’.

Similarly, Rhodes misinterprets ‘for the time will come’ in 2 Tim 4:3-4. Here Paul says, ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.’ Context shows that he was referring to a time on their doorstep rather than some distant future. In fact, in Acts 20:29-30, Paul refers to this imminent falling away when he addresses the elders from this very church that Timothy was leading. He says, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Knock-on Effect

Misinterpretation of the events prophesied and of their timing has a knock-on effect on many other Scriptures. Exasperating this is the blind bias that gets formed around these beliefs. The result is that many passages are simply squeezed and accepted in mistaken contexts without alarm or question. The end result is a theology and eschatology based on dubious inferences from Scripture, insertions of ideas into Scripture and rhetoric full of holes to explain it all.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  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?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
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