We are pleased to share with our visitors a fine article submitted by one of our other visitors. This article strikes at the core of modern eschatological confusion and offers a solid Biblical answer.
A TIME FRAME REPLACEMENT
OF THE OLD COVENANT END TIME GOSPEL
BY GERALD A ARNOLD
“Go your way, Daniel, Because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end” Da.12:9
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place” Rev.1:1
“Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near” Rev.22:10
Are we living in the end times today? Looking around at world conditions, as they exist at present, has led many to claim we are. They even use various scripture verses on prophecy taken from the Jewish/Christian Bible, i.e., the Old and New Testament, to prove it. Many will say, “I believe the Bible teaches an end time and we are living in it today.
While it is true that the Bible teaches an end time, and a casual reading of the Old and New Testament reveals this plainly, it must be wondered how the time frame of the Old Covenant end time ever got transplanted to our present day situation. Were there two end times taught and expected by the first century church? One for the Old Covenant and one for the end of time or end of the literal biological world. Many would affirm this to be true, but the question remains, is that what the Bible actually teaches? A displacement of the Old Covenant- time of the end- time frame, has led to the chaos and confusion that exists in the church and the world at our present time.
For century’s hawkers of “end times” or “end of the world” scenarios have risen up to give voice about the nearness of this alleged present day event, especially during times of severe economical downturns; or in times of war, when people who are dazed, confused, even terrified by what is going on around them and to them, are most apt to think “these people may be right, we are living in the end times.” Ironically these hawkers quote exclusively from the Jewish/Christian Bible, from places such as Daniel, Revelation, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Thessalonians, and they all seem to have one thing in common, i.e., their misplacement of the Old Covenant end time context,meaning, they make what was applicable to the time of the end of the Old Covenant world(age), and apply it to some alleged future end of time, or world, for our present time.
Every generation since AD70, when the prophesied events in the New Testament, concerning the “time of the end” actually took place, as signified by the destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple, voices have risen up claiming that their generation was the end time and that the world was going to end soon. The only generation that claimed this, and truly had it happen, was the first century generation in which Jesus and his disciples lived and taught. Yes, a world actually did come to an end and pass away in the first century. The date was AD70, and it had to do with the Old Covenant world.(Age)(1Peter 4:7; Heb 13:8).
It should be noted that New Testament scripture passages that express a note of imminence concerning end time events, is in general, overlooked, watered down, or changed to another meaning by the vast majority of theologians, scholars, commentators and preachers, especially in modern times. An example of this is when passages like Matthew 24:34 are read and expounded. That particular passage reads, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.’ The “you” in this passage, was the disciples living during the time Jesus was telling his message, and “this generation” was the actual existing generation when Jesus lived and spoke.
In spite of this obvious truth, theologians and scholars have made “this generation” mean some generation in the remote future, now, two thousand years in the future, when they believe “all these things” Jesus spoke of, will come to fruition. They say “it’s that generation”, and they usually mean their own particular generation, that Jesus really meant when all those things would happen. That basically disregards plain language, and makes words mean anything they want them to mean. The problem is, Jesus did not say “that generation” but “this generation” meaning the generation that was in existence at that time. The misunderstanding, however, is not with Jesus or other first century writers, and their perception of how or when all these things would be fulfilled, but with future generations of theologians and scholars.
In general, many theologians, scholars, and preachers, especially in our own day, recognize that serious problems exist with the eschatology of the New Testament. However, again, the problems do not exist with the New Testament writers, as has been so often assumed, but with the theologians and scholars. Take prophetic fulfillment out of its first century time frame context, and try to apply it to some remote future generation, and the result is chaos and confusion, as evidenced by what exists within the institutional church today. Is it any wonder that many people dispute the authority and validity of the Bible. If our perception of how first century prophecy was to be fulfilled doesn’t match the perception of those living and teaching in that first century setting, or history in general, it is claimed those prophecies weren’t fulfilled. So we set about to manufacture our own perceptions of how and when they should be fulfilled, and when we make some kind of a match with something that has happened in our own time, we claim fulfillment, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t even have anything to do with how prophecy was actually fulfilled in the first century time frame. As one prominent scholar once put it, “Every school boy knows the world didn’t come to an end in the first century, and history has continued.’ This statement reflects an ignorance as to the first century writers understanding of the end, and what was actually coming to an end.
But it wasn’t the literal created biological world that the New Testament writers believed and taught was ending- in spite of the real world language they used- but the Old Covenant world(age), that literally did come to an end in AD70. Since that event, the Jewish religion, in terms of the Old Covenant mode of existence, changed forever. There are many theologians, scholars, and preachers today who would have the modern Jews returning to the daily grind of animal sacrifices for their “sins” and constantly living out every moment of their lives under the fear of death, even as the Old Covenant Jews lived. There are those within the dispensational premillennial camp, who believe this will take place when an alleged third temple is built sometime in our immediate future in Jerusalem. But if that is true, then the “world” won’t be coming to an end any time soon. At least not for a thousand years anyway.
In spite of all this, many, in present times, still think we may be living in the end times and that the world is going to end soon. It’s always “soon”! This starts a thinking process on many issues, including an alleged “one world order” led by some evil tyrannical ruler claimed to be the anti-Christ. We hear certain phrases often like “Daniel and Revelation f
ocus more on the establishment of a one world order, a unified world government that will rule the people; this world order will be the instrument that makes the way for the anti-Christ, a figure of pure evil, to rule.” Statements like this flow from a teaching known as dispensational premillennialism, which has displaced the Old Covenant end time Gospel time frame for another end time in our immediate future or present time. This system of eschatology is in actuality nothing more than a fabrication of prophetic texts scattered throughout the Old and New Testament. Many, especially in America, have been indoctrinated into those teachings and beliefs, and in spite of proof to the contrary, are unwilling or unable to give them up.
There have been many hot debates recently about some alleged present day anti-Christ, and if that person might not be President Barrack Obama? As much as I personally have to wonder about Obama’s actual role in world history, this one thing I can say with a surety, he is by no means the anti-Christ. Nor is there any such person predicted for the present time or future. The anti-Christ was never taught by New Testament scripture writers to be a singular person, but a plurality of persons that actually existed within the first century church, and who John, alone, wrote about in his first and second letters. They were mostly Old Covenant Jews who were denying that Jesus was their Messiah. The anti-Christ issue had a particular and specific application in the first century time frame during the transition period between the Old and New Covenant age. ( 1 John 2:18,19,22;4:3; 2 John 7), and does not have any application to modern day Jews or us today. It should be noted that the first and second letters of John are the only place in the Bible where the actual term anti-Christ is used. The idea of a singular person as a dominating evil world ruler noted as the anti-Christ, flows out of a misinterpretation of Daniel, Revelation, and Paul’s statement in Thessalonians, concerning the alleged future “man of sin’. I say alleged, meaning relative to our future. His revealing was still future to Paul and the first century church, but there is nothing to indicate outside the perimeters of that existing generation.
Many theologians, scholars, and preachers quote passages from the Old Testament, and from Revelation in support of their present day one world order and anti-Christ theories. You may find it interesting, if you haven’t already noticed, that Revelations begins and ends with a note of imminence that is generally overlooked or explained away, especially today. That note of imminence is the key to a proper interpretation of the prophecy, and once understood and accepted, actually allows the fulfillment of events written of in Revelation, to remain in their proper time frame, namely, the first century.
Revelation is a highly descriptive, symbolical, expanded version of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, which prophesied events, as is generally known ,and accepted, were to occur before the passing of the first century generation. And so in Revelation we should expect to see the very same time limitations, and we do. For example, in the very first verse we read, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev.1:1), and then in a following verse we read, “blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (Rev.1:3) In the event that we are inclined to think that the time limitations apply to only a part of Revelation, we need to go to the last chapter of the book and read, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book because the time is near.” (Rev.22:10). Notice the words “this book” and “the time is near” in that verse? That means all the prophecies in this book (Revelation), not just part of them were about to be fulfilled.
In Jesus Mount of Olives prophetic discourse, events mentioned, like, world plagues, severe natural disasters, family members turning against one another, wars and rumors of wars, had a time limitation set on them as well, namely, the existing generation of the first century, and Jesus clarified this when he emphatically stated, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Mt.24:34, Mk.13:30, Lk.21:32). All “these things” had a particular and specific application within a particular and specific time frame, namely, before the passing of that first century generation, and in spite of there having been many events-similar to those that occurred in the first century- happen even in our time, does in no way negate this truth, nor does it leave prophecy unfulfilled and extended into our time.
The prophecies that John indicated were soon to occur, and the prophetical Mount of Olives discourse that Jesus put a time limitation on, were written over two thousand years ago, and if all those prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, the implications are; that Jesus was a false prophet, that John was a liar and God did not really give Jesus a revelation to give to him about events that were soon to occur. And so, we need to stop at this point and ask, who was right and who has been wrong? The destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70, signifies the fulfillment of those prophecies, whether we are willing to accept that fact or not, and therefore, by implication, the theologians, scholars, and preachers who claim non-fulfillment in future generations, including our own, have been wrong!
I have already shown above that John was told not to seal up the words of the prophecy of his book because the time for their fulfillment was near. In contrast, we read in Daniel, “But you, Daniel, close up the words of the scroll until the time of the end.” (Da.12:4). Daniel was to seal up the words of his scroll because the time for their fulfillment was in the remote future, the “time of the end”, meaning, the end of the Old Covenant age, which the New Testament period fulfilled between AD30 and AD70.
The implications for prophetic fulfillment nearness in Revelation, pertaining to AD70, are very strong, but they have been obscured by a late dating given to Revelation by many theologians and scholars. Internal evidence indicates that Revelation was actually written prior to that date, namely, around AD68. The internal evidence indicating a pre-AD70 date, has, in general, been rejected by many, because once accepted, it is much harder, if not impossible, to project the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation, to a remote future time frame, without a great deal of manipulation.
Normally in a discussion concerning end times in connection with past prophetic fulfillment, the question eventually arises, “what does the New Testament teach concerning the new world order, or the new heavens and earth, etc. That question is usually asked within the context of an unrecognized displaced end time gospel mind-set, which has projected these events into our present times, or immediate future, in terms of prophetic fulfillment. Eyebrows rise when the response is that, according to the New Testament, we are already living in the “new heavens and earth”,i.e., the new world order, today. Whew! The reaction, understandably, is a hard pill to swallow, after all, isn’t the world we are living in today, the same that existed in the first century? Of course, that fact, in and of itself, is undeniable, that is, if one is only talking, and most are, about the literal biological created world we have been living in for centuries.
re again, the assumption is, that was also what the New Testament writers meant when they used those terms, which, in spite of the real world language they used, is basically an incorrect assumption. The implications are, that when Peter wrote “the end of all things is near” (1Peter 4:7), he meant the end of the created biological world he was living in at the time. But if that was the case, he obviously made a serious time error judgment, because that world is still very much around today.
So what did Peter mean when he wrote “the end of all things is near” and what did John mean when he wrote “then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev.21:1)? I am asking, what did Peter and John mean from the words they wrote to their first century audience, not from what they have come to allegedly mean. Before jumping to any rash conclusions, based on what you have been taught, stop and remember that this statement was made within the context of some very stiff time limitations, and so, however we are to understand the meaning of the terms, we need to keep in mind the imminent time frame context set by the writers themselves.
It is very clear and obvious, when observing the imminency texts in the New Testament, that there was something very significant that was about to pass away in the first century time frame. John wrote “for the old order of things has passed away”(Rev.21:4). He saw this in advance for the near future. In that same connection, the writer of Hebrews, writing around AD68, stated, “by calling this covenant new, he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging, will soon disappear.” (Heb. 8:13). Take note that the Old Covenant age was soon to disappear, not already had disappeared, as so many today have assumed. Paul also realized this when he wrote, “for this world in its present form is passing away’ (1Cor.7:31), and also when he wrote, “do this understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over the day is almost here” (Ro.13:11,12). Written over two thousand years ago!
The New World Order, i.e., New Heavens and New Earth, New Covenant Age, etc., was prophesied to occur, and I believe did occur, after the old order of things passed away in AD70, as signified by the destruction of Old Covenant Jerusalem and the Temple. John wrote, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said “I am making everything new.” (Rev.21:3-5). Remember the statements, “what must soon take place” (Rev.1:1), and “for the time is near” (Rev.22:10).
Many will say at this point, surely, you can’t believe all prophecy has been fulfilled, because-after all-there are still tears, and death, and mourning, and crying, and pain today. But was it John’s intention, really, to indicate the non-existence of physical tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain under the new order of things. Or could he have had a much higher spiritual emphasis in mind when he wrote those things.
Death, in the New Testament context, must be understood in terms of soteriological death, i.e., sin death (1Cor.15:56). This is the death Christ came to destroy. (1 Tim. 1:10), because this death, not mere physical death, was what separated man from God. So if the emphasis is not on physical death, why should we think of the tears, mourning, crying, and pain in mere physical terms either? John’s statement was simply a contrast, and what a contrast it was, between the Old Covenant world as it existed then, and the New Covenant world that would come into existence after the old order of things passes away, which the writer of Hebrews also stated was about to occur when he wrote around AD68. In other words, John’s use of those terms was a highly descriptive way of describing “life” in the Kingdom of God in the soon coming New Age which had already come, in part, prior to the passing of the Old Covenant World (Heb.6:5).
There are many today who claim the old order of things never really passed away and that the fulfillment of these events were postponed for an indefinite period of time, because the Messiah went and got himself crucified. Other’s claim that it passed away at the cross, or at Pentecost, and now we have a new “old order of things” i.e., the Christian church age, that is to pass away at some alleged future end time. Others claim that the old order of things passed away in AD70, but those events were only a partial fulfillment, with the complete fulfillment coming at the end of the world. The problem here, is that there are no legitimate Scriptural basis for any of these assumptions.
Most people you talk to today, claim that their beliefs about the end times are based on the Bible, especially the New Testament. But what most people don’t realize when it comes to their understanding, or misunderstanding of end times is that the problem is not their interpretation of the Bible. The phrase, “We need to get back to the Bible,” as important as that might be, is still inadequate for correcting the errors of our day. The crying need of our day, is for people to understand the Biblical first century Old Covenant time frame context, in which the end times were taught and expected to occur. We need to see the “eager expectation” of the first century believers and why they were so eagerly awaiting an actual end of something. Why would they be so eager to see the end of the biological world in which they lived? The answers that have been fabricated to explain this have been insufficient, and so the existence of chaos and confusion that runs rampant in our churches today. Once we understand the true time frame for the end times being the “time of the end’ of the Old Covenant world (age), and stop looking for some alleged future end time of the age Christ died to establish, and is eternal (Ephesian 3:21), then we can go on and ask the question, which so many often will ask, “what then, if all prophecy is fulfilled, does that mean for us today”? GOOD QUESTION!
Assuming we believe the Bible to be an authoritative, factual, true and reliable historical document, it means all the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled. It means we are living in what the New Testament writers described as the “coming new age” where there is no longer “sin death” and which is characterized by “life eternal”. Don’t mistake that to mean, however, that in this age, there is no longer physical death. It means we are living today in the new heavens and new earth that the New Testament described, but we have to understand what was meant when those terms were used, or we will continue to think that there are still prophecies to be fulfilled, when they have already been fulfilled.
It means all nations are considered equally in God’s eyes-where he is all in all-and there are no particular nations, not even Israel, who should consider themselves superior.
It means we can stop looking at events today, through blind misconceptions, and move on, together, as a world of human beings, focusing on solving the vast amount of problems that these misconceptions have created for us from the past.
It means we can stop looking at worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations, as evil, bent on joining forces, to bring a
bout our ultimate destruction, instead of seeing them as working together to bring about a peaceful, united, world.
It means we should stop living and using our world’s natural resources as if the world was actually going to end tomorrow, and start focusing instead, on future preservation.
It means America is not the so called “great Babylon”, which rips that term completely out of its historical time frame context. If understood correctly, it is evident from the New Testament documents, that the “great Babylon” was Old Covenant Jerusalem, which existed prior to, and was destroyed in, AD70. The “great Babylon” should not be equated with modern day Jerusalem by any means.
Confusion about the New Testament’s eschatology, which is actually the fulfillment of the Old Testament’s futuristic “time of the end”, has often led to many stupid and embarrassing conclusions, such as, “hot debates” about President Barrack Abomey being the alleged anti-Christ. There is a very strong possibility that the Abomey Administration could be used of God as an instrument in unifying the nations. I certainly hope this will be the case, because it, in actuality, could prove to be a very good thing in terms of healing world conditions as they exist today.
If America wants to continue to be a strong nation, and be able to work and live in peaceful conjunction with the rest of the world, American people will have to get beyond their misplaced “end of the world” mentality, and focus instead on the world we are living in today. This may require major alterations on the part of the institutional churches, and the teachings she has subscribed to for centuries concerning the alleged end times relative to our time. It is good to look back and learn from the past, but we must not continue to dwell there. We must move on and grow into the future with a focus on how we can make our world a better place to live, not only for our present time, but for future posterity as well.
There is hope for our world today, and we need to embrace it, and let go of these dismal, negative, and pessimistic feelings of expecting the world to come to an end at any moment. This world will be around for a long time to come-much longer than we have assumed-because we are not living in the “end time” today. We only missed it by about two thousand years.
In conclusion, the Old Covenant end time framework that the New Testament fulfilled completely between AD30 and AD70 in the sense the New Testament writers meant and understood by fulfillment, included the Parousia, the Resurrection and the Final Judgement of that period. We are living today in the New Testament’s “Age to Come”, the eternal age (Eph.3:21), where it is now God and the Lamb seated upon the throne, and where God is all in all, and that is true whether uninspired man believes it, accepts it, or understand’s it.
Man is a curious creature, and it seems he always feels the need to know every detail of something, fine tuned to the highest degree. Thus, the endless questions and arguments of “how these things happened”? “in what manner did they happen”? “do we have any proof they happened”?, and “what actually happened at the time”? The fact that the Scriptures say they were to happen, and when, seems insufficient to the minds of most people today. We always seem to think there must be more. And so there is. Heaven now awaits our individual arrivals. Gerald Arnold
“Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” Ephesians 3:21.
“By Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen”.