American presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and George Bush have believed that we are living in the last days before Christ’s Second Coming, and that modern Israel plays a vital role in bringing about the end of the age. The successful Left Behind books have convinced millions that ours is the terminal generation. Christ’s Second Coming, the technical Greek term is parousia, is near. Immediately prior to that event the world will supposedly experience the “Great Tribulation” a time of unparalleled catastrophes. Noted theologian Charles Dyer, Moody Bible Institute, claims that modern Iraq is the end times “Babylon” described by John in the book of Revelation.
Are we living in the last days? Will our generation experience the end of human history? Is the restoration of Israel a “Super Sign of the Last Days,” as claimed by the dispensational world? Is Saddam Hussein’s attempt to rebuild ancient Babylon a sign that the end is near? Is the Great Tribulation imminent? It may shock you, but it should comfort you to know that we are not in the last days. The end of the age is in the past.
One of the greatest theological tragedies — with socio-political implications — is the belief that Jesus will return to earth physically and restore the kingdom of Israel. The belief in a physical return of Jesus violates scripture. Here are some facts.
- Jesus said he would come and establish the kingdom before his contemporary generation died (Matthew 16:27-28). He said his coming would occur, without fail, in his generation (Matthew 24:29-34). This language of imminence permeates the New Testament.
- Jesus said his coming, in the kingdom, would not be a visible event (Luke 17:20-21: “The kingdom does not come with observation.” He said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
- Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples, “In a little while, the world will see me no more” (John 14:19). Just how long is, “No more”? However, he told his disciples he would manifest himself to them. Judas asked how he would manifest himself to them, but not the world. Jesus said he would manifest himself through a personal relationship with those who believe in him (John 14:23).
- Jesus said his coming would be, “In the glory of the Father” (Matthew 16:27). This means his Coming would be in the same manner as his father had come many times. The Father committed all judgment to the Son, and the Son would act as the Father had acted in judgment (John 5:19-23).
- God had come many times. He used Babylon to judge Judah in B. C. 586. It was called the Day of the Lord (Ezekiel 7). Assyria destroyed Egypt and Isaiah said Jehovah rode a cloud into Egypt in judgment (Isaiah 19-20). When the Medes destroyed Babylon, “heaven and earth” was destroyed (Isaiah 13:9f), but the language was not fulfilled literally. Anytime God acted in history, to judge a people, it was His parousia! He came by means of armies or “natural” disasters, to demonstrate His Deity. Jesus was to come in the glory of the Father. For Jesus to come in the glory of the Father meant he was not coming literally, visibly.
- Jesus’ coming — as the Father had come — occurred when Jesus used the Romans to destroy the Old Covenant World of Israel, at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:2-3, 29-34). “Every eye” saw him when he came in judgment of those who pierced him (Revelation 1:7).
- The end of the age came when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed (Matthew 24:2-3). What age did the Temple represent? Not the church age. It represented the Old Covenant Age. That age ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The present Church Age, is unending (Ephesians 3:20-21). Any suggestion that the current age is about to end is false.
- Jesus was offered the literal kingship over Israel, but he rejected that offer. Only when Jesus rejected Israel did Israel then reject Jesus (John 6:15). Jesus rejected that literal kingdom because from the beginning, a literal kingship was a symbol of rebellion against Jehovah (1 Samuel 8:8f).
- The restoration of national Israel in 1948 is not a sign of the end. It has nothing to do with prophecy. My book, Israel: 1948, Countdown to Nowhere, proves this beyond doubt. Israel was in unbelief in 1948. God never promised to restore Israel in unbelief.
- Jesus said the Gospel would be preached into all the world before his coming. The New Testament writers say the Gospel was preached into all the world in the first century (Romans 16:25-26, Colossians 1:5-7, 23).
- “Babylon” of Revelation had killed the prophets, Jesus and his apostles (Revelation 16:6f; 11:8; 18:20, 24). Jesus said old Jerusalem killed the prophets. Jerusalem killed Jesus and his apostles (Matthew 21-23). Jerusalem, not Iraq, was Babylon, and “Babylon” fell in A.D. 70.
The end of the age is not near. It is past.
Christ kept his word and came in the glory of the Father, in the termination of the Old Covenant Age of Israel in A.D. 70. There is no need to fear the future. There is a brighter, more confident day ahead if we will reject the “end times” paranoia, and rethink the misguided notion that Israel remains the key to a future end time drama.