Isaiah lamented the condition of Israel due to her sin "we wait for light but behold obscurity; for brightness but we walk in darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men" Isaiah 59:9-10. Compare Deuteronomy 28:29 – this darkness was caused by violation of the covenant.
This darkness was described earlier by Isaiah in chapter 8-9. The people had sinned. God was bringing the Assyrians to punish them. The people would "behold darkness, and dimness of anguish, and they shall be driven to darkness" 8:22. This punishment, their captivity, was likened to darkness.
In chapter 60 the same prophet spoke of the situation that would exist prior to the finished work of Messiah: "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people" vs. 2.
It is important to note the direct relationship between their physical bondage and their sin. God was trying to train Israel to see beyond the physical to the spiritual; beyond the seen to the unseen. Physical bondage was typical of spiritual bondage/death, see Ezekiel 37. Physical captivity typified spiritual darkness. Yet in the midst of all this darkness and gloom was a marvelous promise — the dawning of the Age of Messiah. It would be the dawning of a bright new day.
When Isaiah spoke of Israel’s sin darkness in chapter 8 he immediately followed it with a promise that the day was coming when "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" 9:2. In chapter 42:7 Jehovah promised Messiah whom he would appoint "as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations." In chapter 49 God promised he would eventually say "To those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’ To those in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’"
Whereas he had stated that darkness would cover the land, chapter 60, the prophet then promised the rising of the "sun" of Jehovah and the shining of his glory, vs. 2-3. The imagery of the rising of the sun in a new world of righteousness, where Gentiles could be saved, is quite graphic. This is nothing less than the promise of the establishment of the glorious kingdom of Messiah — the bright new world of righteousness where the "Sun" of God would shine.
The last book of the Old Covenant contains this promise: "To those who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings: and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall" Malachi 4:2. The imagery is one of new beginnings, of the early dawn when life is new and vigorous as the calves, once confined, now frolic in the early hours of a new day. A beautiful picture indeed.
It is worth noting that in the context the New Day would come in the day when God destroyed the wicked by the day of fire. This was the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, 4:5; the day John, as Elijah, warned his people was imminent, Matthew 3:7,10,11-12. It therefore follows the New Day was imminent also. Has that day come? Has that day fully come?
Our premillennial friends insist the day of the Kingdom has not yet come. This wonderful new day of the Messiah’s rule has been delayed until the coming of Jesus to initiate the Millennium. On the other hand, our amillennial friends insist that day fully came. It broke out in full power and full glory on Pentecost in 33 AD. From that day forward we bask in the full glory of the "Sun" of the kingdom. As a matter of fact, this issue of whether the kingdom came in full power and glory on Pentecost is one of the key points of controversy between preterists and amillennialists. It is insisted that if the kingdom did not come in full power and glory on Pentecost then it must not have come at all. We believe that both of these constructs to be in error. We believe the New Testament has much to say about the dawning of the Day of Messiah’s kingdom.
My purpose is to present some scriptures that demonstrate the fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophecies cited above and that also show the "Sun" did not fully rise at Pentecost. First, some preliminary considerations.
Christ Is the Light
Zacharias, father of John the Immerser, sang of his son who would prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord is depicted as giving his people salvation and forgiveness by his tender mercies "With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death." The image is that those in sin have the shadow of death hanging over them as a cloud-they sit in darkness. But the Sunrise will come and take away that darkness. This is a direct reference to Malachi 4:2 and Isaiah 9:2. Is this death that Zacharias mentions physical death? Did the Sunrise fully come on Pentecost? If so, then physical death was destroyed on Pentecost.
In John 1:4 Jesus says he is not only the life but the light of men. In chapter 3 he said "light is come into the world" vs. 19. Jesus’ claim in 8:12 must be seen as a direct claim by him to be the prophesied light: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (One should pay particular attention to the interchange of life and light. In the prophecies just noted, darkness and death were synonymous.) See also John 12:46.
It should be evident that the New Testament writers saw the New Day as imminent. They saw Jesus’ entrance into Galilee as fulfillment of the Isaiah 9. But they also anticipated the breaking of the full glory of the New Day, of the rising of the "Sun" of righteousness and the glory of the kingdom. We turn now to examine the evidence that demonstrates the Sun had not fully risen, the Day had not fully come at Pentecost; and to prove the dawning of that day is not in our far, or imminent, future.
The Day Is At Hand
When one considers Paul’s teaching about "time" and coming things in this book he is forced, I believe, to admit his reference to "the time" here is nothing less than reference to the "day of wrath," 2:5; the time for the "redemption of the body," 8:23; the consummation of the "short work will the Lord make on the earth," 9:28; and the same time when "God will bruise Satan under your feet shortly," 16:20.
Specifically, please note Paul says "for now is salvation nearer than when we first believed." Is Paul simply suggesting, as some would have us believe, the Romans were a little older than when they first obeyed the gospel? Shall we overlook the existence of the things they then possessed but were nonetheless awaiting, i.e. adoption Romans 8
Paul’s usage of the imagery of the dawning of the New Day cannot be arbitrarily dismissed on the "a priori" assumption that the Day dawned on Pentecost therefore Paul cannot be speaking of the Day dawning after Pentecost. If one can argue that Matthew’s citation of Isaiah 9 simply represents a transition period between then and Pentecost, he must concede the possibility of a transitional period leading to the full breaking of day after Pentecost. If there could be a transition from the "breaking of dawn" in Matthew 4 until "full day" on Pentecost, why could there not be a transitional period between Pentecost until the full day? Keep in mind that Paul, writing some 27 years after Pentecost, emphatically says the "night is far spent, the day is at hand"?
Paul said "The night is almost gone." What night was almost gone? If we can see that Paul was drawing on the Old Covenant imagery of the dawning of the Messianic Age when Messiah would fully reign in his kingdom, and that this New World would only come when the Old World was taken away, we can easily see that the night that was almost spent was the night of the Old Covenant World typified under the imagery of darkness.
All the Old Covenant prophets were just that — Old Covenant prophets who saw Israel living in darkness under the Old Covenant. The New World, the New Day they foresaw was not the dawning of a New Age after the passing of the Christian Era, but the dawning of the New Age at the passing of their Old World.
To substantiate the view that the full day broke on Pentecost, one must prove irrefutably that Paul’s reference to the passing of the night and dawning of the Day has no association with the Old Covenant prophecies of the coming of the New Day of Messiah. Given Paul’s intimate knowledge and love for citing the Old Testament corpus in all his writings this would be a daunting task indeed. The moment one concedes Paul is referencing the Old Covenant prophecies of the coming of the New Day of Messiah he thereby must immediately abandon the idea of the coming of the full Day on Pentecost. The premillennialist must also give up his futuristic concept of the kingdom because Paul clearly saw the dawning of the Day as imminent.
The Darkness Is Passing Away
In what context does John say the darkness is almost past? Read verse 17 where he says "the world is passing away." In fact, John knows "it is the last hour" because "even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know it is the last hour" vs. 18. To John it is clear the darkness that was passing away was the corrupt world with its lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life. But not only was the world/darkness passing away John says the true light — the light of God’s New World — was already shining.
John sees himself and his readers at the dawning of the New Day. The remnants of darkness are still present to be sure, but the beams of the New Day are streaming around him in splendor. Now if John was saying the daylight of eternity, when time will supposedly end, was already shining, this implies some very serious things.
If John was saying the true light of eternity was already shining does this not emphatically say the end of time was seen by John as at hand? Remember he says, "it is the last hour." More, If the "true light" is referent to eternity, since John says that light was already shining, does this not mean that time was already ended?
Second, if "the true light" that was shining was referent to timeless eternity then what does the "darkness" refer to? Does this not refer to the present Christian Age? Was John calling the present Christian Age, "darkness?" If so, how can it be taught that Jesus is the true light and that he is the light of the world?
Is Christ’s kingdom not a kingdom of light, I Peter 2:9?
The choices for identifying the darkness here are somewhat limited. John is assuredly not speaking of physical darkness. He is not talking about some subjective personal experience as if he were saying their lives were about to end. If John is speaking of material creation as darkness and eternity as light he is unequivocally stating the imminence of the end of time. Needless to say this posits a tremendous dilemma for the inspiration of scripture. If John, two thousand years ago, stated the "end of time" was near, the continuance of time has obviously proven him wrong.
On the other hand if we accept the fact John was foreseeing the imminent passing of the Old World, the same Old World of darkness Paul said was almost passed, a world whose emphasis was on carnal things, Hebrews 9, then John’s text makes wonderful sense and harmonizes with the rest of scripture. Further, inspiration is not impugned.
John was indeed standing at the dawn of the New Day of God. The Old World "is passing away" he said; John knew indeed that it was "the last hour." Why not accept John’s time statements about the passing of the darkness?
II Peter 1:19-21
Notice he says they should take heed to the scriptures "until the day dawn." If the "day" here is eternity, Peter is emphatically telling us the Old Covenant scriptures will stand in force until the end of time. What then becomes of the argument that the Old Law was nailed to the cross? Peter is writing years after that event saying his readers are to take heed to the Old Covenant Prophets.
Jesus said not one jot or one tittle would pass from the law until all was fulfilled. Futurists, both amillennial and premillennial, insist the Old Covenant prophets have yet to be fulfilled. But this means the Old Covenant cannot have passed. Interestingly, some are now saying Jesus did not say all the Old Law had to be fulfilled before it would pass.
One brother, in three days of speeches against Realized Eschatology, said Jesus did not fulfill all the law in his passion, only all the law necessary for the passing of the Old Law. In other words Jesus’ use of the term "all" in Matthew 5:17-18 did not mean all had to be fulfilled, it referred only to those parts that referred to his passion. When all those prophecies were fulfilled then all the law passed away. He cited Luke 24:44 as proof.
How sad when a person’s interpretation of scripture forces him to change the Lord’s words to mean the exact opposite of what he said.
Jesus said no part (not one jot or one tittle) would pass from the law until all was fulfilled. My brother says this meant all of the Law would pass when part (the passion predictions) was fulfilled. That is the direct opposite of what Jesus said. Any time a person changes the words of Jesus 180 degrees from what he said, something is wrong.
Next, Peter seems to be citing the very text used by Zacharias in Luke 1:78. The Old Covenant text most clearly predicting the dawning of the New Day is Malachi 4:2. The significant thing to see is that Peter is obviously writing several years after Pentecost, yet he is anticipating the full arrival of the New Day. The full day did not come on Pentecost. If so, how could Pet
If the Old Covenant scriptures, prior to Pentecost, were viewed as a light shining in darkness, cf Psalms 119:105, Romans 2:19, and the full light of day came on Pentecost, how could Peter, writing so long after Pentecost, continue to anticipate the coming of the full day and encourage his readers to heed the prophetic scriptures? If the full day came on Pentecost, then the Old Covenant scriptures were no longer shining in a dark place.
It should be evident that Peter has the Old Covenant predictions of the dawning of the New Day in mind. If those predictions have not been fulfilled one can only conclude Jesus was not the consummation of those predictions. He did not make the promises to the fathers sure, Romans 15:8ff.
This is especially significant since in his first letter Peter spoke of the salvation foretold by the prophets, 1:10. He said the Old Prophets knew they were not speaking of their times but of the times in which Peter was living. Peter’s generation was the time for the fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophets, cf. Acts 3:19ff. Peter further said the salvation of which they spoke was "ready to be revealed in the last times;" and he was living in the last times, I Peter 1:5-7,18-20.
Are we to delineate between the "salvation ready to be revealed" and the dawning of the day anticipated by Peter? Are these dichotomous events? Was "the end of all things" expected by Peter and stated categorically to be "at hand" not the passing of the Old World of Darkness? Was not the anticipated "day of visitation," I Peter 2:12, not when the Day would fully come? How indeed can the reader see Peter’s constant reference to the imminent judgment, resurrection, salvation, vindication, glory, (I Peter 1:5-7, 4:5,7; 5:4,10, etc), and not relate them to his reference to the dawning of the Day?
A final thought here. In Isaiah 60, Jehovah promised the coming of the Day of God. He said there would be no need of the sun for he would be the light, vss. 19ff. In Revelation 21:23 John saw the New Creation with its New Jerusalem "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Please remember that the things John saw were to "shortly take place" for "the time is at hand."
The Bright And Morning Star
It is essential to see Peter’s reference to the dawning of the Day and the rising of the Day Star in proper context. It is in the context of his discussion of the coming of the Lord, vs. 16.
Can one fail to see the imminence in Peter’s words? This may be especially seen in his reference to his imminent death, vs. 14. In John 21 Peter asked Jesus of John’s fate. Jesus responded "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" Now Jesus had just told Peter he would die a martyrs death — but John will not.
Here in II Peter the apostle knows his death is imminent, vs. 14. He discusses immediately the coming of the Lord and longs for the dawning of the Day although he will not personally see it. Surely it is not hard to see that Peter is reflecting on Jesus’ words about his death and the parousia in John’s lifetime as he wrote these words.
When we compare Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:27-28, his words just noted concerning John and Peter’s fate, and Peter’s words here, our case is very strong. In Matthew 16:27-28 Jesus promised to return in judgment before all his disciples died. When Peter penned his second epistle many of the others have died; he is to die soon. The promise of Jesus must be near. The Day must be at hand.
Further corroboration of this idea is to be found in Revelation 22. John, and remember the Lord’s words concerning him and the parousia, wrote just a very few years after the death of Peter. He records the Lord’s words "Behold, I come quickly" vs. 7, 12, 20.
John also recorded these words "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these thing for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." When one associates the words of Jesus about 1. Peter dying before he came; 2. John living until his return; 3. Peter’s reference to his impending death, II Peter 1:14; 4. That reference to his death in a context discussing the coming of Jesus as the bright morning star; 5. John’s record of Jesus saying he is the morning star and his coming was at hand, it seems undeniable to this writer that these writers presented as inspired fact that Jesus was to return very shortly as the bright Morning Star in the dawning of the New Day of Messiah.
We have seen that the New Testament writers, drawing on the prophetic imagery, yet writing years after Pentecost, said the Day was about to dawn. Not one writer says the day had fully come on Pentecost.
We have seen, contra the premillennial view, that the inspired writers saw the New Day, not as postponed, but imminent. Peter, speaking of his death immediately writes of the coming of the New Day.
We have seen the strong connection between the coming of the Day and the completion of salvation. The writers wrote of a "present yet future" aspect of salvation. They saw the "not yet" part as imminent; they were not seeing the end of time and salvation of the physical body from the grave. The dawning of the New Day and the coming of salvation is intertwined with the completion of the salvation foretold by the Old Testament prophets. If the New Day has not dawned, Jesus has not fulfilled those prophecies, salvation is still not a reality and we are still in darkness. What advantage then the New Covenant?
The New Day was to come when Jesus as Messenger of the Covenant fulfilled the punitive measures of the Old Covenant in destroying his enemies in the day of fire, Malachi 3:1-3; 4:1-6; the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Since John, as Elijah, knew that Great Day of Wrath was imminent it therefore follows that the New Day that was to follow that Day of Judgment was imminent also.
I believe the only scenario that satisfies the teaching of the Old and New Covenants concerning the Dawning of the New Day is when Christ returned in judgment, destroying the Old World of Darkness and Death, II Corinthians 3. This patently was not on Pentecost; the New Testament writers, writing after Pentecost saw the Day as still future, but imminent, I Peter 4:5,7; James 5:7-9.
When Christ returned in fire, II Thessalonians 1:4-10, he not only swept away the Old Jerusalem but the Old World, the Old Heavens and Earth, Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3, Revelation 21. He also established the New Heavens and New Earth, II Peter 3:13, in fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophecies, Isaiah 65-66. The New Day dawned on a completed New Creation, Romans 8:18-25.
The amillennial view has been demonstrated to be in error because it says the New Day fully came on Pentecost, or says it will not come until time ends. The New Testament writers spoke of the imminent coming of the New Day, yet they wrote after Pentecost. The premillennial view is wrong for it says the Day was postponed until our future. The New Testament writers spoke of no such postponement. They taught that the New Day was coming very soon.
The New Day fully
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