Moving Into Part 2 of the Olivet Discourse.

Where do we go from here? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Verse 34 wraps up the first part of the Olivet Discourse. From there on, the terminology shifts. We go from “this generation” to “that day.” There is debate among Preterists even about whether this is still first-century or if it refers to later events. Thus, for this brief interlude, I want to speak more about other matters.

I really want to finish other statements in the Gospels. For instance, there is the saying that some here will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God coming in power. This is often taken by skeptics of the New Testament as a failed prophecy of the return of Christ, which is odd since it nowhere says anything about a return, and it is taken by most Christians to refer to the transfiguration, which is not much of a prophecy because saying some people hearing Jesus would still be alive a week later isn’t too awe-inspiring. There are also passages such as not finishing going through all of Israel until the Son of Man comes or Jesus’s words before Caiaphas and others. I really want to finish as much of the Gospels as I can before moving elsewhere.

There are also a few places in Acts to cover. I am thinking of the disciples’ asking if Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Not only that, believe it or not, there is some important eschatology to cover in Stephen’s stoning.

Some Old Testament verses will have to be covered. The most important one is Psalm 110:1. If you do not understand this verse, you will not understand eschatology. If you think this verse is not important to the New Testament, then you will have a major problem because this is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament.

A good friend of Deeper Waters has asked about Paul and James, naturally. After all, Paul pretty much had his PhD in the Old Testament so how did he supposedly miss what Jesus was saying? This is important to consider so we will look at passages about the resurrection to say what is being talked about and when and where Paul got His information from.

Finally, we will do some looking at Revelation, though to be extensive with that one would be difficult. We will discuss some matters such as the antichrist (Who is never specifically mentioned in the book. Consider that.) and the Beast and 666. We will also discuss how apocalyptic works should be read.

I hope this will be further informative for me as well. There are many secondary areas of Christianity I don’t care to discuss, but for some reason, I thoroughly enjoy eschatology and orthodox Preterism. I hope even if you disagree with my view, you have come to see how it is that someone can hold to it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:32-33

What does a fig tree have to do with Israel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

These verses are ones dispensationalists point to. We’re supposed to look at Israel and see what’s going on God’s eschatological time clock by looking at them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold up and it can be seen just by looking at the discourse itself. Let’s look at verses 32-33.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

Now notice that Jesus singles out the fig tree. Since He’s doing that, He must be talking about Israel. After all, fig trees represent Israel. Right? Well, let’s see about that.

First, look at Luke 21.

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Jesus says the fig tree and all the trees. What other trees are we supposed to look at here? Second, Jesus says what is near at that time is the Kingdom of God. Has the Kingdom of God come at all or not? We could be spending more time looking at the Kingdom later on.

If you do a search for fig trees, there’s really nothing about them that show that they are meant to be a symbol of Israel. In a parable in Judges 9, the plant kingdom asks the fig tree to be their king. Now if the parable is about the people of Israel looking for a king, it’s saying Israel is going to Israel asking Israel to be their king. Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me either.

Also, in Matthew 21, Jesus curses a fig tree that we are often told is meant to symbolize Israel, but if that is the case, and I think a strong case can be made for that, then dispensationalists have a problem. After all, the fig tree is cursed to never bear fruit again. If that’s the case, then we would expect Israel to never bear fruit again. I hold such an interpretation with hesitancy as I believe God could use national Israel in the future.

Let’s also consider how many people made their predictions based on Israel. In 1948, Israel became a nation and people were making predictions based on that. After all, a generation is supposed to last forty years and this generation was supposed to not pass away until everything took place. Think such a thing seems far-fetched? Not at all. A few decades ago, a man named Edgar Whisenant rocked the Christian world with a book on 88 reasons the rapture will take place in 1988. As we can tell, he was wrong.

To dispensationalists reading this, even though you disagree with me on Preterism, please at least try to get your camp to stop writing books like that. They only embarrass us further. There has been great harm done to the body of Christ by people trying to predict events from an eschatological perspective by what they see going on in the news.

Some people then decided the six-day war was what started things. Nope. Wrong again. That was in 1967 and again, nothing happened 40 years later.

Could it just be that maybe the nation of Israel being established doesn’t have eschatological meaning at all?

Now some people might saying, “Are you saying we shouldn’t support Israel?” Not at all. Whether we do or not, it is not because the nation is supposedly that of God. It’s because if a nation is doing what is right, we should support it. One reason I personally think we should support Israel is they are a great buffer against Islam in the Middle East.

So dispensationalists, there’s nothing here about the fig tree representing Israel. The passage doesn’t work. Now if you interpret it as referring to the signs within the passage and not about the establishment of Israel, then it works just fine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:31

What role will angels play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Once again, we have a verse that many futurists assume is about something in the future. After all, look at angels going out and this gathering together and the sounds of a trumpet. A trumpet sounds at the resurrection. Right? Surely that’s what’s going on here! Let’s look at the verse.

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

This would be an incredibly vague reference to a resurrection and trumpets have many more uses in Scripture and in the Roman Empire at the time. They could be used for war and they could also be used as a royal proclamation. I would go for a mixture of both of these. The Kingdom of God wages war on the kingdoms of man and the proclamation is the gospel going forth.

What about angels though? Angels are heavenly messengers aren’t they? Are they not the ones that are around the throne of God? If they’re going out, then surely that must mean something future is going on. Right?

No. The Greek word is aggelos and it can refer to a member of the heavenly entourage, but it can also refer to a messenger. John the Baptists is referred to as an aggelos. The word describes more function than anything else.

By the way, it’s worth noting the high Christology here. These are not the messengers of God, though they are that indeed, but in the text, they are the messengers of the Son. It’s one of those casual references easily missed.

The gathering of the elect refers to those who are Christians. At this point, there is zero interest in whether this is meant in a Calvinistic, Arminian, or some other sense. I really avoid that debate as much as I can.

And what about to the ends of the Earth? For the first-century Jews, this would not mean going all the way to North America or something, contrary to Mormon claims. This would mean going throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the book of Acts, we see that this has been done. Not a shock to a Preterist that shortly after that, the temple gets destroyed.

We’re nearing the end of the first part. We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:29

What in the Heavens is going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ah. Now we’re getting into stuff that definitely sounds like it’s more in line with futurism. After all, surely none of this stuff happened in the 1st century. Right? What kind of stuff? Let’s look at Matthew 24:29

” Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Years ago, Neil Degrasse Tyson sadly gave a more common reading of this passage.

“You know, one of the signs that the second coming, is that the stars will fall out of the sky and land on Earth. To even write that means you don’t know what those things are. You have no concept of what the actual universe is. So everybody who tried to make proclamations about the physical universe based on Bible passages got the wrong answer.

Sadly, most churches today would accept this reading as well. After all, there’s supposed to be something sacred in taking the text literally. I prefer to take the text as I think Jesus really intended it. Jesus was more than a prophet of course, but he was at least that. How did prophets speak? We go to the Old Testament to find out.

2 Samuel 22 is one of my favorite passages to go to. Look at this song David sings about his lifetime.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry came to his ears.

“Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations of the heavens trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
10 He bowed the heavens and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
11 He rode on a cherub and flew;
    he was seen on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness around him his canopy,
    thick clouds, a gathering of water.
13 Out of the brightness before him
    coals of fire flamed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven,
    and the Most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows and scattered them;
    lightning, and routed them.
16 Then the channels of the sea were seen;
    the foundations of the world were laid bare,
at the rebuke of the Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

Search all you want through the life of David and you will not find this. You will not find YHWH hitching a ride on Gabriel and Michael and coming down Green Arrow style blasting the bad guys. You will not find the channels of the sea being seen and the foundations of the world laid bare. So either we believe that the writer of this text had to leave out one of the most amazing events in the life of David, or else that we are misunderstanding the way Jews speak if we take this literally.

Isaiah 13 is another such case.

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
    cruel, with wrath and fierce anger,
to make the land a desolation
    and to destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
    will not give their light;
the sun will be dark at its rising,
    and the moon will not shed its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
    and the wicked for their iniquity;
I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
    and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people more rare than fine gold,
    and mankind than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble,
    and the earth will be shaken out of its place,
at the wrath of the Lord of hosts
    in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle,
    or like sheep with none to gather them,
each will turn to his own people,
    and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through,
    and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed in pieces
    before their eyes;
their houses will be plundered
    and their wives ravished.

Now some of you might be tempted to think this is future, but wait. God says in the next verse that he is raising up the Medes against them. The Medes did eventually come and conquer Babylon. However, none of the stuff if taken literally happened as described.

Ezekiel 32

“You consider yourself a lion of the nations,
    but you are like a dragon in the seas;
you burst forth in your rivers,
    trouble the waters with your feet,
    and foul their rivers.
Thus says the Lord God:
    I will throw my net over you
    with a host of many peoples,
    and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
And I will cast you on the ground;
    on the open field I will fling you,
and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you,
    and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.
I will strew your flesh upon the mountains
    and fill the valleys with your carcass.
I will drench the land even to the mountains
    with your flowing blood,
    and the ravines will be full of you.
When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens
    and make their stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
    and the moon shall not give its light.
All the bright lights of heaven
    will I make dark over you,
    and put darkness on your land,
declares the Lord God.

This describes God’s judgment on Israel in the past. Again, the language is eerily similar to what we find in the Olivet Discourse. Once again, either we need to take it all literally or we need to try to understand the way ancient Jews spoke.

Ezekiel 39 has the following:

“Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years, 10 so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord God.

This kind of passage shows us that many prophecies were indeed for the near future. Many futurists interpret this as a great future battle. It will be an interesting one if we are using bows and arrows and shields and bucklers again. True, some prophecies had a long range far ahead into the future, but to read many dispensationalists today, you’d think the only times worth talking about were the time of Jesus and what is supposedly our time today.

So what is going on?

When the Jews spoke of intense political events, they often used cosmic language. War would be such an event. This kind of language was not meant to be literal. It was meant to indicate chaos on the realm of Earth as kings and others went to battle. The disciples would have understood that war was coming.

Don’t read the text like Tyson. Read it like a first-century Jew. If you do that and you read it as the language of warfare and judgment, then again, Jesus is still spot on. You are also being consistent with the prior first-century milleu found in the text.

But that’s one verse. What about others?

We’ll see when we get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:23

Is there a Messiah in the house? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our next verse does fit well with our own times. After all, we have several people claiming to be Jesus. I’m not just talking about people in insane asylums either. Let’s look at the verse and see what it says about such a thing.

“Someone might say to you at that time, ‘Look, there is the Messiah!’ Or someone else might say, ‘There he is!’ But don’t believe them.”

Actually this fits in better with a first-century climate. For one thing, note that it doesn’ say that people will say “Look! There’s Jesus!” They will say, “Look! It’s the Messiah!” Why does this matter? The Jews for the most part did not embrace Jesus as the Messiah since He didn’t put a stop to Rome. They were looking for another savior.

In the midst of the destruction of Jerusalem, it would be easy to look at someone else and say that someone is the Messiah who could stop the Romans. It would also be Jews that were saying that. Most Gentiles were not going around claiming someone was the Messiah.

This would be a hope to Jewish people who were under attack in Jerusalem and would be convinced that God was not going to let anything happen to His chosen people. After all, they were the ones who were faithful to the covenant. The hope for a coming Messiah was definitely there with the Romans in the land and the attack on Jerusalem would be a time for YHWH to show up.

Now in our own times, we should discount anyone who claims to be a Messiah figure or Jesus or have a new final revelation. I would say the same goes for many of our modern prophecy experts. Once again, this has a just fine first-century fulfillment and there’s no need to look beyond for more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:22

Do the days being cut short point to a worldwide calamity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue, I must remind you all again that we are asking if the text fits with a first-century fulfillment or not. Last time, I pointed out that there is a lot of hyperbole in the description. If you take it as literal, then Jesus is not the wisest king of all and the writers of Scripture forgot Hezekiah when they got to Josiah. So what is today’s verse?

“And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

Wow. This sounds like the end of the world. No human being will be saved. What do you make of that?

Well, if you think this describes Revelation, when we get to the end of the book and we see the battle of Armageddon, maybe it’s just me, but it looks like if there’s a war going on, there must be a lot of people to fight it. Could it be that maybe this is more hyperbolic language?

Not only that, if this is the case, why flee to the mountains once again? Are the mountains going to somehow be this safe place that human beings can survive at when the world comes to an end? Now if you read this as local, there aren’t any difficulties. It refers to Jerusalem and Judea. God will see to it that not everyone is killed.

And who are the elect? It could be some Jews who did not head to the hills and were part of the covenant anyway. The elect generally refers to those who are in the covenant. It’s not a word that Arminians and others need to shy away from.

So again, this fits in with a first-century fulfillment. Going through so far, we have come to no major problem verses. I hope that you will see the same follows as we continue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:21

Is this the worst possible thing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For the past five verses, I think some dispensationalist readers could even look and see that it makes sense in an Orthodox Preterist viewpoint, but now there’s a shift. When we get to verse 21, it looks like we’re entering something of epic proportions. Let’s look and see what the verse says at the start.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”

Okay. So I think the passage here is about the destruction of Jerusalem and that’s supposed to be the greatest disaster of all? That can hold a candle to 6 million Jews dying in the Holocaust? Doesn’t this just seal the deal against a first-century interpretation?

Not quite, because if you have that view throughout Scripture, you run into problems. This normally happens with a modern literalistic hermeneutic that doesn’t take into account Jewish idioms. What kinds of things am I talking about? Let’s look. We’ll start with 2 Kings looking at Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:5.

“He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.”

You go, Hezekiah! Awesome! No one like you!

But what about this Jesus guy? Wasn’t He a king who trusted in God more?

Now some might think that’s not the most valid way to look, but if you’re one of those, we don’t need to go to Jesus. We can just go to the same book in the Old Testament. Let’s look at Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25

“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”

Wow. So either the author of Kings totally forgot about Hezekiah in a few chapters, or else we’re looking at a Jewish way of speaking. Is this the only instance of this? Hardly. Look at Exodus 11:6

” There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.”

People of Egypt can rejoice. Nothing will ever be worse than the Hebrew Exodus. Of course, this will be odd for my dispensationalist friends who think the whole Earth is going to go through something far worse. Who knows? Maybe Egypt will be the exception that’s spared! How about Daniel 9:12?

“He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem.”

But Babylon was laying siege to several cities and starving them out and destroying them. What makes Jerusalem the one exception? You could say their temple was destroyed, but that’s not too unusual in a siege. Let’s also return to 1 Kings 3 and look at verse 12.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again.”

But Jesus said that one greater than Solomon is here. Was He wrong? Was Solomon wiser than Jesus? If you use my hermeneutic to just picture this as a way of describing something intense, you don’t have a problem. Go with a literalist one and you do.

Not only that, if you look at the parallel in Luke 21:24, what do you see?

“Some will be killed by the sword, and others will be taken as prisoners to all countries; and the heathen will trample over Jerusalem until their time is up.”

Luke centralizes all of this to Jerusalem. So again, this fits with a first-century paradigm.

Now if someone doesn’t think what happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. counts as great suffering, just go read about it. See what you think then. If it does count, then my hermeneutic is entirely consistent and I would contend more consistent than a dispensationalist one.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:20

Why does it matter when the end comes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re looking at the Olivet Discourse and seeing what timeframe it best fits into. This time, we’re going to be looking at verse 20. I have been contending that this whole passage fits best into a first-century format. The next verse after this will have some people thinking back to a futurist mindset, but we will get to that next time. For now, let’s look at verse 20.

“Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.”

Note that this is talking about a flight. It’s an escape. It doesn’t make sense to say “Pray that the rapture doesn’t take place in a winter or a Sabbath.” Why would that be? Would winter be by because if Jesus zaps you off and your clothes are Left Behind, per the movie, then you will be freezing in the weather?

Yet if we look at this in the first-century and think it describes an escape to the mountains, once again, it’s a great fit. Winter travel is harder period. Not only is the cold painful, but it is also harder to find food to eat as animals can be hibernating and plants are rare. You didn’t exactly have suitcases and thermoses and other ways you could carry food long term and keep it from spoiling.

What about the Sabbath? What difference does it make if you are traveling to the mountains if it’s the Sabbath? Note that this is talking about one time in particular when you are to run. In Jerusalem, and this is specific for Jerusalem, the gates would be closed on a Sabbath day as in Nehemiah. Business was not to be done on those days. While that could still be going on today, it would be much easier to escape Jerusalem today than it would be back then.

In the first century, if you needed to escape, you would not be able to get through the gates. It would be that much more difficult to get out and survive. One would have to work around and find other means and if time is of the essence such that you can’t even get into your house and Roman soldiers could be coming around at any moment as well as Jewish agitators who might attack you, then you’re in trouble.

Now as I said, these recent verses do easily fit, but next time, we’re going to have a very extreme statement from Jesus that convinces many readers we are talking about a futuristic scenario. I will be showing from the case of Scripture why I do not think Jesus’s words are to be understood that way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:19

What are the struggles of a mother when the world comes to an end? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes. That opening statement is a bit tongue in cheek. I do not think that this passage is at all about the end of the world, but some do. Today, we are looking at verse 19 and the focus is entirely on women. (Though keep in mind, Jesus is supposedly a misogynist so many times and never cares about women so this verse must be an anomaly or something.)

So what does verse 19 say?

“And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!”

Pregnancy today is much easier than it was back then. If a woman gets pregnant today, she assumes generally all things being equal that she’s going to give birth and have a normal pregnancy. I do realize some women have miscarriages today and tragedies like that happen, but very few times is a woman scared that when she goes to the delivery room, she won’t come out alive.

Instead, a woman typically has a plethora of doctors around here. Even if she can’t make it to the hospital, there’s usually good care and good medication available that she can use. Pregnancy is still difficult and can still be very painful, but it is nowhere near the health risk it used to be.

Same with raising infants today. Mothers have every good in the world. They have cars to drive and car seats for babies. They have strollers and now even things you can use to carry your baby on your chest with you so your hands are free. There are bottles of formula and everything else a baby needs.

Not so in the ancient world.

In that world, you could die quite often in childbirth. It was a risk. You didn’t have the special items we have today for taking care of a child once they were born. You would have to nurse them the old-fashioned way every time.

So now imagine a woman having to flee Jerusalem who is pregnant. She has no pain killers like we have today and has to go and walk several miles a day, maybe ride an animal if she’s lucky which will have its own hurdles for her.

Imagine going on a trip like this then either pregnant or dealing with an infant who will be crying and waking you up in the middle of the night every time you try to stop and sleep. Will that help you on your journey or hinder you? I am not at all saying that a mother shouldn’t love her children that way, but love can be hard sometimes even for children. The mother will not leave her child behind, but the child will be hard to have on the trip.

Again, all of this makes sense in the first century. Today, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Back in that day, it would be extremely difficult. Again, we have to ask which scenario makes the most sense of this? If you read this in a futuristic way, it’s hard to make sense of it. Read it as if it’s happening in the ancient world and it fits perfectly.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:18

Should you run out on the job? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re continuing our look at the Olivet Discourse. In this section, most of what is written does easily lead to a first-century fulfillment. Let’s see if the next verse does. We’re on verse 18 which reads:

” Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.”

In most of the ancient world, a lot of people would be out working in the fields. This would be the way you would get your daily bread. Today, in America at least, about 2% of the population I understand consists of farmers. Despite what certain politicians might think, it’s also a job that requires a vast array of knowledge. Being a farmer is not simplistic or easy work.

Again, we have to ask that if the world is coming to an end, why is it that one would be tempted to go back and get their clothes? Is having a full ensemble going to help somehow with the apocalypse? If we’re describing something more akin to an invasion by Roman armies, we have a situation where running does make more sense.

What Jesus is saying is that when you see this happening, get out of town and get out immediately. Running has to be the main pathway. One would not want to even going back to bother getting extra clothing for the situation. You had to leave immediately. This would mean also even interrupting whatever you were doing, if that meant making food even. Time is of the essence. You have a long journey ahead of you if you’re heading to the mountains and that can be difficult work.

Again, all of this fits better in the first-century. When we get to the parts that seem more cosmic, we’ll have to ask if we can still get a first-century fulfillment. After looking at the discourse, I also plan to look at the idea of maybe there’s a dual fulfillment where there’s one fulfillment in 70 AD and a future in another apocalyptic scenario, maybe even with another temple.

In Christ,
Nick Peters