Olivet Discourse—Matthew 24:7

Have there been more earthquakes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I remember being in a Bible study group for men in high school and sometimes we would talk about end times. Our leader told us that there was an increase in earthquakes. This was seen as a sign of the end times. Why would anyone think that? Look at verse 7.

” Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. “

We covered wars last time, so let’s look at famines and earthquakes. Note that the text doesn’t say there will be an increase in earthquakes. Even if we went with that, the truth is that there hasn’t been an increase in earthquakes at all. We just have a better means of detecting earthquakes and we hear reports of them from all over the world, something that wasn’t possible in the first century. See here for details.

Yet even in Scripture, we see earthquakes. There is one at the crucifixion of Jesus and there is another around the time of the resurrection. When Paul and Silas are in prison, there is an earthquake.

Various writers also wrote of earthquakes. You’ll find them in Tacitus and in Josephus. There was an earthquake before the eruption of Vesuvius. Earthquakes were happening. Thus, if we are looking for earthquakes as a sign, this can still fit in to the first century very easily.

How about famines? Yep. We have those too. The big one was the one Agabus talked about in the book of Acts. This is also likely the situation going on in 1 Corinthians 7 and the present situation where Paul said it might not be good to marry. After all, if you can’t provide for yourself, providing for a wife also will be much harder.

If anything, we have far more means to battle famine today. When they happen, it is likely because of evil governments ruling over innocent people. After all, we could airlift food anywhere in the world that we really wanted to.

So for those who are thinking what we see today could be a sign that Jesus is coming, don’t be too sure. We’re still well within a first-century context here. Some might be thinking later verses will sink this theory, but we’ll see when we get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Rumors of Wars

Do we live in the time Christ talked about with wars being talked about? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, the Babylon Bee shared a story with a man wishing all these natural disasters and rumors of wars were predicted in the Bible somewhere. It’s something to think about that every generation is convinced that their generation is the generation. We’ll get into wars today in our discussion. We’re looking at verse 6 of Matthew 24.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

So hasn’t there always been wars going on? How is this a prediction? Skeptics look at this and say something like “Wow. Earthquakes and wars! You never hear about those going on anywhere!”

Well, you didn’t hear about wars going on much in the time Jesus was speaking. However, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, things started becoming more chaotic. It was the shattering of the Pax Romana.

Notice also that Jesus tells us not to be alarmed by this. It happens. The end is still to come. This is interesting because so many people will say that wars are happening and therefore there is war. Jesus is saying there has to be more than just that.

Still, if you read the writings of Tacitus and Josephus and others, you will see the wars and battles being talked about. This is going on also in Jerusalem. Caligula tries to set up a statue and there’s a resistance. This is eventually what leads to the breaking point that brought about 70 A.D.

Now if we think this applies to our generation, then we have to deal with the rest of history because there have pretty much always been wars going on. This is nothing new. What makes it new for Jesus’s followers is they lived in a time that had had more peace and it was starting to be undone. We will see if the same applies to other judgments that take place as we go on.

So not much today. It’s a short verse after all. We’ll save the rest for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:3

What were the disciples asking about? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the great mistakes we make in interpreting the Olivet Discourse is we interpert it from our place and time. We live in a time after the death, resurrection, and ascension. If we look at the Gospels, the disciples had a tendency to be clueless about this stuff. Jesus had told them He would die and rise again repeatedly and they still never got it.

So now let’s look at the verse and realize the timeframe they are in.

“As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Okay. Let’s tackle the last part first. If you read this in the KJV, you will be told it asks about the end of the world. That is actually a poor translation. There is a word for world that would fit better, but this isn’t it. Besides, suppose the world is ending. Why would you flee to the mountains as Jesus advises later? Do the mountains get a free pass from total destruction somehow?

No. What is ending is the age. God is moving to a new system. It will no longer be a system of the Law. It will be the age of the Messiah and hence, the disciples ask Jesus about “your” coming. They know who will be the Messiah and if the temple is gone and Jesus is the Messiah, then Jesus must be ruling.

Now notice also that they ask about the sign of His coming. Isn’t it fascinating so many people think this passage is about the return of Christ? But here’s why it isn’t. Think to what was said earlier. The disciples didn’t even understand Jesus dying and rising again. They had no concept of Him ascending and going away to return later. For them, this was one straight linear path. Go to Jerusalem, become king, age of Messiah begins. The idea of any of the other stuff happening was foreign to them.

But what is Jesus coming to? One obvious answer. His throne. Jesus is going to begin His rule. Notice the disciples connected the destruction of the temple to all of this. Now they want to know how they will know that this will happen. So as we go into the teaching portion of the discourse, we have these questions.

When are you taking your throne?

When does the age of your rule begin?

What signs will tell us that this is happening?

These are all good questions. Jesus, as usual, will answer them. We are going to be looking in-depth because many times today, like the people of the past, we do not understand what Jesus said properly. In John, people often misunderstand Jesus because they read Him in a literalistic way. Let’s hope that we don’t do the same this time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Matthew 24:1-2

What does it mean to lose the temple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going to be looking at the Olivet Discourse. The first verse is very basic and I am tying it in with the second. If you don’t have your Bible there with you and don’t want to look it up online, I will post the verses here.

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

We really need to think about what this means. The temple was not just a nice place to go and worship. For many of us, if our church buildings burnt down, that would be a tragedy, but we could eventually build new ones. No. The temple was the place that symbolized the covenant between God and Israel. If the temple was standing, then all was good between God and Israel. When the exiles returned from Babylon, the first thing they started building was the temple. They had to be encouraged to return to that building, but building it was essential.

The closest parallel I can name for us today that we can relate to is 9-11. It is possible to rebuild and make even better than before, but when those towers were hit, it was as if our country was hit as the towers were a symbol of the success of our country especially on an economic level. Those were towering bastions that reminded New Yorkers and any tourists coming through of the success of America.

You can picture what other catastrophes would be like. What if England lost Big Ben? What if France lost the Eiffel Tower? What if Egypt lost the Sphinx and/or Pyramids? What if India lost the Taj Mahal? Each of these would represent a great loss to the people.

Yet none of those could compare to the temple being lost. Losing the temple is not just losing a great tourist site or a pretty building. Losing the temple is losing the presence and the favor of God Himself.

Why am I stressing this so much? Because if we want to get into what is going on in the Olivet Discourse, we need to have it stated clearly what is going on in the culture. This would be a massive loss to the people. It would mean a massive upheaval has taken place. This temple was destroyed in 70 AD and Judaism hasn’t been the same since. Even many dispensationalists recognize the importance of the temple since they want to do all they can to build a temple.

So when the disciples hear this, they know something big is happening. To use another example, it would be like if we heard the White House would be destroyed and we believed it. Even without knowing the cause, we would know something drastic had happened.

So as we prepare to go into the Discourse, I want you to really try to put yourself in the mindset of the disciples. For the time being also, please try to remember you do not understand the resurrection or anything like that. All you know is Jesus going to Jerusalem. They are guys who know about the Old Testament and the prophecies of Messiah and still have hopes this guy they have been following is Him.

What they ask and what Jesus says will start to be covered next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Look At The Olivet Discourse

What do we make of this passage of Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I would like to begin two kinds of series now. For one, I just recently began reading this book called The Case Against Miracles by some guy named John….John….John….What was it…..Loftus! That’s right. Don’t blame yourself if you’ve never heard of him.

The other is a look at the Olivet Discourse. This is for multiple reasons. First off, a question people often come to me about is orthodox Preterism. When I really get my YouTube channel going, I plan to do videos on the topic, including looking at what I call the Rapture Brigade, people who regularly make videos predicting when the “rapture” will take place.

Second, because I do debate dispensationalists quite often and I want to have a constant reference to rather than have to write things out. I also make it a point to never make it that one’s Christianity depends on their eschatology save for dealing with the ones that call themselves “Full Preterists” which I consider to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. My own wife was of the dispensationalist position when I married her.

Third, this is an apologetics issue. One of the most common challenges given is how can we believe Jesus when He was wrong about the time of His return? How many times do I see someone say “2,000 years and we’re still waiting!” I hope to give an answer to that.

My view is known as Orthodox Preterism. In this, it is my belief that while the events described were future to the time of the apostles when they heard it, they are now past for us. My main reference for this will be Matthew 24. Of course, I will go to other passages including the parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

I hope there will also be a lot of good questions on this one. Many people I meet are not familiar with this viewpoint. It is also one I came to on my own as my seminary was very much pre-trib, pre-mill, and my Bible College I don’t remember taking a stance one way or the other. I also am one who used to hold to the position of the rapture and later abandoned it because I could not square it with biblical teachings.

So as I finish a chapter in Loftus’s book, I will write on that, and sometimes I will interject with what’s coming on the podcast, but expect this look at end times to be a focus for now. There aren’t many secondary issues I really get into for discussion, but this is one of them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/28/2018: Brian Godawa

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Around the year 70 A.D. an event happened that forever shaped the spread of Christianity. Before this, it had been seen as a sect of Judaism by some. Now, it could not be. The event was the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the city itself by the Romans. It’s also a tragedy that few Christians today seem to know anything about this event.

It also wasn’t just an instant of destruction, like dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. It was a long and drawn out event where the city would also be starved out. People would do anything to get some food to eat. This would often include cannibalism. To be specific, parents would often wind up eating their own children.

The Christians had already known about what was coming. They were ready when Rome showed up, not to fight, but to flee. They knew what Jesus was talking about in passages such as Matthew 24. Israel chose to fight Rome thinking that God would vindicate them in this hour much like other great miracles in their own past. Instead, as the Christians knew, this generation had rejected their Messiah and thus God had rejected them.

My guest has written the third in a series describing the events here. It is a work of historical fiction combining the rise of the beast and the destruction of the temple with the idea of Watchers as well from the Old Testament. It is a series with political intrigue and spiritual action as well. His name is Brian Godawa. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that blows your mind while inspiring your soul. And he’s not exaggerating.

We’ll be talking about what it would mean to be a Christian in the time of Jerusalem putting up its resistance to Rome, especially since the book is called Resistant. We’ll discuss the conditions there and what that means to Christians today. We’ll discuss the way prophecy was seen by the people. We could look at how all the factions worked together and against each other including Qumran and Jerusalem and all the people involved there. It’s hard to believe, but even while the Romans were coming against the people of Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem were still actively fighting against one another.

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We’re working on making the show better and better for you. It would also mean a lot to me if you would go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to see how much you guys like the show and to hear what you would like to see done on the show and any possible guests you’d like to have on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles Creed: From There He Will Come

What does it mean to say that Jesus will come? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I hold to an eschatology that is preterist. That means that I believe a lot of fulfillment of prophecy is in the past. In fact, if you’re a Christian, so do you. You believe the Messianic prophecies have been for the most part fulfilled in Christ. I also hold that much of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse is also past.

So when it comes to the coming of Christ as it is stated in the Olivet Discourse, I don’t think this means coming to Earth, but rather coming to the throne of God and sitting at the right hand. Yet when it talks about coming from the throne, then I believe we are talking about a coming to Earth.

There is a viewpoint out there that is known often as full preterism or hyper-preterism. I prefer to call it Neohymenaeanism. Some people have asked me why I don’t call myself a partial preterist. The reason is because I believe the teaching of Neohymenaeanism is actually a heresy and if that’s what you call full preterism, I will not be considered a partial heretic.

I think the ultimate problem with the Neohymenaean position is not what it says about eschatology so much as what it says about Christ. Much of your study of the end times will revolve around the question of who you think Jesus is. We are told that our resurrection body will be like that of Jesus. If the resurrection is something spiritual, then that would mean that Jesus’s resurrection is just a spiritual resurrection as well. We’re into the territory of the Jehovah’s Witnesses with this one.

We can be told that Jesus is the exception, but that is not what I see in Scripture. I see instead that we shall be like Him and we shall be like Him when He comes. Since I hold to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, I hold also to the bodily transformation of those who are His when He returns.

Some of you might think that my holding an event to happen in the future makes me a partial-futurist. It does not. It makes me a Christian. The return of Christ has been a part of the Christian creeds, such as the one that we see here in the Apostles’ Creed. It is part of orthodoxy to believe in the return of Christ to put an ultimate end to the problem of evil.

Let’s also all be wary of one really foolish tendency that seems to exist among Christians. Do not attempt to date when the return of Christ will happen and if you believe in the rapture, don’t attempt to date that either. If you do so, you run the risk of embarrassing not just yourself, but the Christian faith.

Too many Christians have tried to find loopholes in what Jesus said. “Oh we won’t know the day or hour, but we can know the year!” This is just trying to do what Christ would not want us to do and this kind of energy could be better spent in other ways, such as fulfilling the Great Commission.

To which, if you ask me, that is how we speed the return of Christ. I find this based on the end of 2 Peter 3 that we live godly lives so we may speed His coming. Besides that, even if I’m wrong, we have our marching orders to do the Great Commission anyway so there’s no reason not to. Sounds like a good deal. We do what we’re supposed to do and if I’m right, well then we have the ultimate end of evil all the sooner.

Go out and be looking for the return of Christ, but don’t just look. Work also. You have your marching orders regardless of your eschatology. Do them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sense and Goodness Without God: Part 11

Can a compelling case be made for prophecy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m not a fan of prophecy ministries.

Really. I’m not.

My position as I have said is a Preterist of the orthodox variety which I have defended here and my reasons for Preterism itself can be found here.

So when I see many prophecy ministries that focus on what is going on in Israel today and who is the next target to be the antichrist, I really can’t take them seriously at all. So many prophecy books will be gathering dust in the back of Christian bookstores soon, but their writers have already cashed in and will write again on the next topic.

For all these prophecy experts, it’d be nice to see them get something right.

So when Carrier critiques prophecy, in many cases, I agree. Yet not in all. I do admit the Bible contains prophecy, though I don’t think it necessarily had the distant distant future in mind. I do think the coming of Christ was prophesied and Jesus is a fulfillment of the Scriptures. Yet I try to be very conservative with that.

One point Carrier brings out I find quite odd is the idea of selection bias. Maybe the Jews just chose those books that happened to have fulfilled prophecies in them and threw away the ones that didn’t.

This is a proposition without evidence. If Carrier wants to say this is a possibility, well that’s fine, but do we have any evidence this possibility took place? Besides, if the Jews were wanting to improve their image, they could do any number of things, such as write a detailed prophecy after the fact. (And to be fair, many think that happened in a book like Daniel) They could also clean up their own image in their sacred books. Why would someone have sacred books that regularly recorded their own failures if they were trying to make themselves look good?

Now Carrier says one of the best cited prophecies is the destruction of Tyre prophesied in Ezekiel. Now it could be, but I honestly rarely see this one used. I suppose most Christians would instead look at prophecy fulfillment in the life of Jesus.

Carrier tells us Ezekiel was likely producing propaganda to get on the good side of Nebuchadnezzar. Does he have evidence of this? Does he really think King Nebby was going to be paying attention to a lone priest out in the area preaching to the people? Carrier also tells us that Ezekiel could likely have intelligence about the king’s plans to attack Tyre. These are a lot of coulds, but there is no evidence given for them.

Note also that in Ezekiel 26:3 we are told that many nations will rise up against Tyre. Babylon is just one nation and is just the start. Babylon wore Tyre down a good deal, but did not conquer, hence Ezekiel 29:18. Babylon did a lot of work, but got no reward. The final victory would not be theirs. (And by the way, if this prophecy was shown to be wrong supposedly in the book, wouldn’t this one have been retracted per Carrier’s theory?)

Instead, who did destroy the city? Alexander the Great, and did so with the people of many nations in his army. Of course, Tyre did become something again later on, but did not reach its past glory that it had. The prophecy has language of hyperbole to be sure, and part of the problem with many people reading texts like this, atheists and Christians both, is a wooden literalism. The irony is that atheists often condemn Christians for this and then do the exact same thing.

Now if I was to point to a prophecy, I’d point to Daniel 9 and Matthew 24. For those interested in those prophecies, I highly recommend The Preterist Podcast by my good friend DeeDee Warren. You will find the most extensive look at Matthew 24 there and Daniel 9 is her next project.

Next time we discuss matters, it will be Carrier’s case for atheism.

In Christ,
Nick Peters