Now is The Time of Salvation!

Short Shot: Now Is The Acceptable Time of Salvation!

We are constantly bombarded by evangelical ministers of all stripes who assure us that one of these days Christ will “appear again the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” That is supposed to be at the end of human history, when the earth is either totally burned up, or is fundamentally reconstructed and turned into a literal, material new earth. Dispensationalists have been telling us that the time of that salvation is right upon us, at any moment! Of course, that message has consistently failed – and such predictions will continue to fail. The reason is simple, but, challenging: the time of salvation came in the first century and believers today live in and rejoice in the fulfillment of the Day of Salvation.

Isaiah 49 is an incredible prophecy of the promised Day of Salvation:

Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” Thus says the Lord, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him whom man despises, To Him whom the nation abhors, To the Servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the Lord who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You.” Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; That You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

This prophecy of the work of Messiah contains the following elements of promise:

✿ The restoration / salvation of all twelve tribes. (Keep in mind that the salvation of Israel is described as the resurrection (Isaiah 25:8-9 / Romans 11:15).

✿ The calling of the Gentiles into Israel’s salvation: “I will also make you a light to the nations.”

✿ Messiah would be “the covenant to the people.”

✿ The restoration of “the earth” ( er’etz- land).

✿ Commensurate with point #1, Messiah would say to “those in darkness, show yourself!” In ancient Hebraic thought, darkness was a metaphor for death. The language is a depiction of resurrection.

✿ All of this would happen: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You.” The great question therefore is, when did, or when will that “Acceptable time” come? Is it still in our future– as all futurist paradigms insist, or is it already a reality?

It goes without saying that the differing views of eschatology look at the constituent elements of this text and come up with varying interpretations.

Amillennialists and Postmillennialists would agree that the first century was the time in view, since that is when Christ came to “gather together the children of Israel scattered abroad” (John 11:50f). Furthermore, the calling of the Gentiles into the body of Christ, to create the “one new man” (Ephesians 2:12-15) was in the first century as well, and particularly focused on Paul as the “minister to the Gentiles.” Both of these camps would likewise affirm that Christ became the “covenant to the people” at that time.

However, neither group would agree that the resurrection was in the first century, even though the calling forth of those “who sat in darkness” is a well known and common metaphor for death. Thus, Isaiah 49:9 which said Messiah would say to those in darkness “show yourselves” is nothing less than a prediction of the resurrection. (Let me say again that the promise of Israel’s salvation is nothing other than the promise of the resurrection).

Likewise, many in the two camps just mentioned affirm that we are still waiting for the “restoration of the earth” i.e. a literal new heaven and new earth (cf. Romans 8:18-23). And we are assured that this will only take place at the end of human history. Thus, this aspect of Isaiah 49 remains unfulfilled, we are told.

Then, the Dispensationalists would claim that while Jesus came to restore the kingdom, the Jews rejected that offer. Thus, God withdrew the kingdom offer and postponed the kingdom, establishing the church as an “interim measure” until the rapture. We are assured by the Dispensational camp that the “restoration of Israel in 1948 was the “super sign of the end.” (See my book, Israel 1948 Countdown to No Where for a thorough refutation of that claim). At that time, God resumes His dealings with Israel and the full restoration of the “tribes of Jacob” takes place.

So, what we have in the futurist camps is either a denial of the fulfillment of all of Isaiah 49 or the idea that some of it was fulfilled, but some wasn’t, or, that fulfillment of the prophecy was postponed until some time in our very near future. None of this fits Paul’s doctrine.

Let me simply say for this “Short Shot” that it does not matter what your view of the restoration of Israel might be. It does not matter what your idea of the “restoration of the earth” might look like. It does not matter what your concept of the kingdom might be. It does not matter what your concept of the resurrection might be. The indisputable fact is that Paul believed that the time for the fulfillment of Isaiah 49 – “the Acceptable Day, the time of Salvation” was present in the first century:

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Was Paul wrong in positing the time of the fulfillment of Isaiah in his generation and in and through his ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)? Was he deceived?

If, as the futurists insist, we are to take the OT prophecies as predictions of the literal restoration of Israel to the land, or, if we are to take passages like Isaiah 49 as predictive of the “redemption of creation” then Paul’s application of Isaiah is totally misguided!

Israel was in the land when he wrote, but, ironically, as William Bell recently stated on “Two Guys and A Bible” radio program, Jews– Christian Jews – were actually leaving Judea because of what Jesus taught in the Olivet Discourse! Thus, if Isaiah 49 foretold a literal, nationalistic restoration to the land and of the kingdom, why is it that the Jewish Christians were leaving the land? Why were the Christians in Jerusalem actually selling their land – something forbidden in the OT? And why is it that the nation was utterly destroyed in just a few years from the very time that Paul said Isaiah’s prophecy of the restoration of the people and the land was being fulfilled?

Furthermore, if Isaiah 49 foretold the “redemption of creation,” then since Paul said – 2000 years ago – that the time of the fulfillment of Isaiah 49 was present, why was the material creation not being restored when he wrote? Were the trees and grass getting better, greener, more luxuriant? As I like to ask, Were the bugs, slugs and mosquitoes getting better? Where, exactly, has history witnessed the redemption of flowers, trees, even rocks, rivers, elephants, giraffes, wolves, lions and tigers? Isn’t 2000 years sufficient time for us to begin seeing at least some sign of the redemption of “the body” and “creation”? If not, why not, and just how long should it take for Christ’s redemptive work to take effect?

It is not enough to claim that one day, by and by, at the end of human history earth and material creation will be restored and that the resurrection will take place. Why do we have to wait (so far for 2000 years) for the redemption work of Christ to take place at the end of human history, when Paul said that the time for the restoration was present 2000 years ago?

What Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6 is what he expressed in his first epistle to the Corinthians (10:11). He said that “the end of the ages has come upon us” The word “end” is from telos, and carries with it the idea of “the goal.” And that means that Paul was affirming, very powerfully, very undeniably, that the anticipated goal of all the previous ages had arrived in the first century. Yet, all three futurist eschatologies tell us that this is not true! We are still waiting for the arrival of the goal of the ages!

Something is clearly wrong here. If Paul was right – and he was – then the time of the restoration of all things – including the resurrection – had arrived in the first century. If Paul was right – and he was – then the goal of all the ages was arriving when he wrote, 2000 years ago. We are not still waiting for the goal to arrive. We are not still waiting for “the Acceptable Time, the Day of Salvation!”

It is high time for the modern church to put aside its failed eschatological message that we must continue to wait for the Day of Salvation (cf. Hebrews 9:28) and realize that Paul (not to mention the other NT writers) all declared that the time for the full revelation of that Salvation was upon them. It was coming soon, shortly, quickly and without delay. It is time to rejoice in the faithfulness of God, who kept ALL of His promises.