On March 13, 2004, I was in Indianapolis, Indiana engaging in an all-day formal debate. My opponent, Thomas Thrasher of Decatur, Alabama, insisted that Christ’s coming is yet future and has to be a literal, visible event. He appealed to NT passages that speak of Christ coming on the clouds, with the angels, etc. and said, “What does that sound like? I did not see that, did you see that?”
My response was that the promise of the resurrection, Christ’s coming and the kingdom, are all promises made to Old Covenant Israel — not the church divorced from Israel. If those promises have not been fulfilled, then Israel remains God’s chosen people today. God is faithful. He would not fail to keep His promises to Israel (Romans 11:25-29).
My friend kept insisting on the literal nature of the promises. Because his eyes did not see Christ coming on the clouds means it did not happen. I responded that Isaiah said that in the kingdom, “they shall learn war no more,” and, “they will beat their swords into plowshares.” (Isaiah 2:4f). The wolf would lie down with the lamb, the children would play on the hole of the poisonous snakes (Isaiah 11). I asked him, “What does that sound like? Do you see that today?” My friend believes, as I do, that all of this is currently fulfilled spiritually in Christ, by the way! I pressed the point that my eyes do not see the literal fulfillment of these promises, and that our dispensational friends insist that since their eyes do not see what their ears are hearing, that these promises are unfulfilled.
Mr. Thrasher then said, “Israel misunderstood the nature of her promises. She thought they were literal, but in fact, they were spiritual!” Actually, this is true, but is totally destructive to Mr. Thrasher’s view of things. Mr. Thrasher is an amillennialist, as I once was, until I discovered it is fatally flawed.
If Israel misunderstood the nature of her kingdom promises, then she misunderstood her resurrection promises. The coming of the kingdom is the coming of the resurrection! Jesus said he was coming in the judgment (which is resurrection), of all men, before all of his generation died (Matthew 16:27-28). The coming of the kingdom and resurrection are synchronous (same time) events (2 Timothy 4:1). Now, since the judgment, kingdom, and resurrection are all synchronous events, consider that Jesus said, “The kingdom does not come with observation” (Luke 17:20f).
If the kingdom and the resurrection are same time events, and if the coming of the kingdom was an unseen event, that means that the resurrection was an unseen event! Paul said, when discussing the resurrection: “We do not look on the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:16f).
The Jews offered Jesus the kind of kingdom they wanted, but he turned them down (John 6:15). They then rejected the kingdom he was offering. They rejected it because, “their eyes were not seeing what their ears were hearing.” That same mistake is being repeated today by those who refuse to believe that Christ came. Like Mr. Thrasher, they insist, “My eyes are not seeing what my ears are hearing” when all the time, they are refusing to see what he did do. Perhaps it is time to open the eyes of faith!
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