Email Exchange: A Question About Acts 1

Those who study Covenant Eschatology will always need information about Acts 1:9 and the promise of the angel that Jesus would return “in like manner.” What does this mean? Does it demand a visible, literal, physical return of Christ? That is the view of all futurists. However, that is not at all true!
A regular viewer of my YouTube videos has asked that I comment on Acts 1, as well as the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and its bearing on our understanding of eschatology. These are natural questions, so I want to share my thoughts with visitors to this site.

<<Clint, thanks so much for posting to me, and thanks for watching my YouTube videos!  I will put a few thoughts below in the appropriate places.

Don K>>

From: Clint ****
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9:37 PM
To: Don Preston
Subject: a few questions

Hi Mr. Preston,

Let me start off by saying I am really enjoying your Youtube videos and have now totally looked at the bible in a different light.  It’s like reading a totally new book.  Everything you’ve said just makes so much sense and I feel like I can strongly defend the faith when asked questions about the bible.  I have been studying my bible for a good two months straight now and I have come across some passages that I’m not clear on.  Excuse me If my email doesn’t sound grammatically correct, I usually don’t type many emails.

Now to my understanding what you explain is that Jesus did not come back “visually” but instead “in the glory of the father.” That is that he came like the father had come in judgement in the past.  Two questions. I was reading Acts 1: 9-11 When Jesus showed himself to the Apostles to prove he had been resurrected and then he ascended into heaven.  As the Apostles watched him ascend two angels told them “…this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Now to me it sounds like the Apostles literally watched him ascend into heaven.  So if they were told he will come back “in like manner,” isn’t that saying he will come back visually? Am I missing something here?

My Response: Let me just give some food for thought. There are several longer articles on this site that go into detail and offer a lot of excellent information on Acts 1. Just do a search for “In Like Manner” or “Acts 1” Let me give a bullet point or two however.
1.)    Christ ascended on a cloud, and to the Hebraic mind, clouds signified far more than those white things floating in the air! They signified deity, glory, power, etc.. See Psalms 104 for instance. Also, in my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, I have an extended discussion of this motif in relationship to Acts 1.

2.)    There is an alliterative pattern in Acts 1, that is taken directly from the Olivet Discourse! This is tremendously important, yet virtually ignored in the literature. Here is what I mean (I must be brief)
In Matthew 24 Jesus to his disciples to go Preach into all the world (24:14f). He told them they would be Persecuted as they preached (Mark 13:9f). However, he offered them Power (Mark 13:9f) to fulfill their task, and then, he promised his Parousia, as vindication for their suffering (v. 29f). So, we have the Preaching, Persecution, Power and Parousia. Now, what is so interesting is that everyone except the dispensationalists agree that Matthew 24:4-34 speaks of the events leading up to and consummating in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
What this means is that the pattern above, the four “Ps” refer to that time period and to those events. But now, watch!

In Acts 1 Jesus told those first century disciples that they were going to Preach the gospel  into all the world—just like Matthew 24:14 said. He said they would be his “witnesses” and in the NT this most often indicated Persecution. However, he promised them Power (“go into the city and wait until you be endued with power…”—just like in Matthew and Mark. And then, they were promised that Jesus was going to return—his Parousia, just like in the Discourse!
Now, if the pattern of P-P-P-P in the Olivet Discourse refers to the events consummating in AD 70, then why does not the same precise pattern in Acts 1 refer to the same time and same event?
BTW, I develop this pattern extensively in my book Into All the World, Then Comes The End, showing that this precise pattern is found in almost every NT epistle! I have not found this material in any other literature, but to me, it is profound.

Second Question:
Also I was talking to a friend the other day and I was explaining how I believed Jesus returned in AD 70 like the father had returned in judgement in the past.  He made a point that I had not thought about which was the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah.  When God rained fire and brimstone out of heaven onto Sodom and Gomorrah, was this also metaphoric language? If so, is there any scripture or proof that it was destroyed by some other means i.e. an army?

Response: I think it is important to realize that in all Days of the Lord, there were visible, earthly events! Sometimes, those natural events could involve earthquakes, locust plagues (cf. Joel 1-2), and other ‘natural events” that YHVH utilized to bring judgment.

Notice that Jesus, in Matthew 24:30-31 said that in the events of AD 70 they would see the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. The Greek of the text does not mean they would see something in the sky. It meant that the visible events of the War would prove that the Son of Man was enthroned in the heavens! So, just like the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah certainly was a visible event, what had to be “seen” was the presence of YHVH acting in judgment.
What we have then is a literal destruction that signified a spiritual reality.

I hope these brief comments help a bit. Keep watching YouTube! I may use these questions for some segments as well, since they are good questions, commonly asked.

Make your plans to be with us this  July 19-21, 2012, for our Preterist Pilgrim Weekend!
Instead of a conference– actually, in addition to the conference– there will be a formal public debate between Don K. Preston and Joel McDurmon of American Vision (Gary DeMar’s organization) This promises to be a landmark debate, so make your plans to be with us!

Don K. Preston