Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:35

How sure are the words of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jesus here has a contrast. He is clear that this generation will not pass away, but He says Heaven and Earth will pass. He also says that His words will not pass away. While that could be a pointer to an inerrancy of His words, which I would accept even though this is not necessarily I think the best text for it, it’s more the idea of the certainty of the judgment. Of course, it would be. In Matthew 23 he had just lambasted the Pharisees and shared the certainty of judgment to them.

Some could think that this verse could indicate the destruction of Earth. I do not think that anymore than God needs to destroy the Heaven that He dwells in, as if it’s somehow impure. The same would refer to the sky. If anything, I think this would indicate more of a purification. The way the universe is today will pass away. God has always been about redeeming the Earth just as He has been about redeeming the human body, hence the incarnation.

At this point also, I think there is a decided shift in the discourse. Jesus is now wrapping up talking about an event that is coming on the first-century audience. Now, He will shift towards later judgment. At the same time, it is a present judgment. These are immediate calls to repentance for the people, which would also make sense since he has told the people now that judgment is coming on them soon, or at least His disciples who will bring this message to the people.

This also should be our message when it comes to judgment. Repentance. We need to be teaching that constantly. Is it foolish to say something like Covid-19 is a direct judgment of God? I think so. Does it mean we shouldn’t tell people to repent? Absolutely not. If anything, disasters should always show us the things that we take for granted.

Jesus’s audience was indeed living on borrowed time. Who else is? You and I are. None of us is guaranteed another day, let alone another minute. That generation did not pass away before the judgment came, but we know some passed away before that judgment and faced their own personal judgment then. The same could happen to you and I. Odds are you won’t die of Corona. Seriously. You likely won’t, all things being equal. Still, you could die in a car accident today. Anytime you hear a story on the radio of someone dying in a car accident, unless it was a suicide attempt, most of them had no plans to die that day and yet it happened.

As we go forward, we will see warnings of judgment and how we could be judged at any time. Be watchful. You don’t know when your time is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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

The Deeper Waters Apologetics YouTube Channel

What is our new resource? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since we’re all under quarantine and I finally figured out again how to use my webcam, I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and had spent some time talking to David Wood about, and that’s making a new YouTube channel. I have one just for fun videos I make and I have one for the podcast, but now I have one for short apologetics videos.

So what kinds of things do I plan to put up there?

Naturally, I started with a video about affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and last night I did a video book review. I could make some short vids responding to current events in the world of apologetics. However, I do have a few ideas in mind for projects.

Tonight, for example, I plan to start a series for Autism Awareness Month, which is this month, on life on the spectrum. I will be tying this in to Christian apologetics and my personal recommendations on reaching people on the spectrum. I hope a video series like this will be more personal than written works on the topic. I plan on working to see how to incorporate images and other such things into my videos instead of just watching me talking.

I also plan on doing series on video games and apologetics. What theological themes can I find in games? I’m not saying no one else is doing this, but I really have not found it being done. I have been told to put up videos of my own gameplay so I do plan on doing that.

I also plan on doing a series on orthodox preterism. In addition, I want to deal with some of what I call the rapture brigade. These are people that make videos on YouTube about all the signs that the rapture is about to take place. They are always proven wrong, but they never seem to learn and keep making predictions.

Ultimately, I expect a lot of trial and error at the start, but I do hope that this will become something more mainstream in my own work. Social media is being more and more the place to go to make statements and with cable TV about to fade out of existence, people will be watching YouTube more for their information. Sadly also, many people don’t read books so I hope that this will fill in the gap.

As of this posting, there are just two videos up, but we have to start somewhere. Why not go and subscribe and share? With quarantine going on, I definitely plan on doing more of this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 3

Does generation really refer to race? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One possible way that some people look at Matthew 24:34 and explain it is by saying that generation refers to a specific people and race, namely the Jewish people. It’s saying that the Jewish people will not pass away until all of these things take place. This might possibly avoid the timing aspect as you can say that things started in the first century and will continue until things predicted in the later verses of the passage covered happen in a literalistic way. That can sound plausible, but it doesn’t really work.

For one thing, if you do a word search of the word genea which is translated as generation, every time it is used in the New Testament it refers to people of a specific time. If anything, just doing that will show how important it was to not be a part of this generation. This doesn’t mean in the sense of a people group, but of a mindset. After all, consider what Peter says in Acts to the Jews from all over the world in attendance. Let’s look at 2:40.

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Is Peter telling them to cease being a part of the Jewish race? Not at all. Peter is telling them to separate from the wickedness of the people of the time. We could say he’s telling them to be part of the remnant well-known from the time of Elijah, a righteous minority that has always existed in Israel.

Further, if this generation will not pass away until all these things happen, does that mean that this generation, the Jewish race, could pass away after that? If so, then that presents a problem for Jews being there at the end of the millennium and any possibility that the covenant could come to an end.

But let’s return to the remnant. Consider near the end of Matthew 23.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

The “you” here is quite pointed. Jesus is pointing to the Pharisees and scribes and others. They are the ones who will be judged. If you make it a race, then someone is saying that Jews of all time are guilty of the death of the Messiah and all Jews are going to be receiving this judgment.

There is an easy way to avoid this. Just simply embrace Orthodox Preterism and accept that Jesus is talking about the generation that He was with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 2

Could this passage refer to a future generation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are some people who see the language of this generation in Matthew 24:34 and think that it has to refer to a future generation. What Jesus is saying is that “This generation that sees the start of these things will also see the end.” Is this really a convincing way to look at the passage?

Well, no. For one thing, if Jesus was referring to a future generation, He could have easily said “that generation.” He never did. As I shared last time, in Matthew, this generation always refers to the present generation that is with Jesus. Matthew 23 ends with a message of judgment for this generation and all the righteous blood that will come on them. Why? Because they committed the ultimate evil of murdering their Messiah.

Now if the futurist reading is correct, it is not the generation that murdered the Messiah that will be punished for His murder. It is a future generation that had nothing to do with it. If my reading is correct, we could see both references to “this generation” as bookends.

The text also says that “all these things” will take place.” It is not some. It is all of them. The generation that sees it start is the same one that sees it end. This would include the destruction of the temple which means that whatever generation it is that sees the destruction of the temple, that is the generation that is being talked about.

Which one is it? It’s the one that saw it in 70 AD which would be the one responsible for the death of the Messiah. There is no reason to think that Jesus is talking about a third temple that will be built and then destroyed. When His disciples come to Him, they are asking about the temple that is before them and that is the one that He talks about.

Not only that, but as I showed throughout this, much of this only makes sense in the first century. Today, a siege would not mean as much when it is much easier to airdrop food into a city and there are nations all around the world that are willing to do so. There is no need to try to argue a future fulfillment when a past one works just fine with the text.

As a reminder at this point, this is about the coming of Jesus to His throne. This is not about the future resurrection of the dead. There are other passages that speak about the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns, but this is not one of them. The disciples did not even understand that He was going to die at this point, let alone leave and return sometime in the future, but they did understand that if He was the Messiah, that He would be king and that if He said the temple was being destroyed, that must mean the age of His reign had begun.

But maybe generation doesn’t refer to a time frame. What if generation refers to a race? What if it means that the Jewish people will not pass away until this takes place? We’ll explore that next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 1

When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Here we have come to one of the key verses for Orthodox Preterism. When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Note that this is not talking about the return of Christ. For the orthodox Preterist, this is talking about the coming of Jesus to His throne. The return of Christ and the bodily resurrection with it are future events.

Let’s look at the verse.

“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

This part is multi-faceted, so in this section I am going to only talk about the positive case for my position. I will be dealing with other interpretations in future posts. Let’s start with seeing how Matthew uses this generation in the rest of the Gospel.

Matthew 11:16

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,”

Matthew 12:38-45

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Matthew 23:36

Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Now if you go and check all of these references, you’ll find that this generation in each case is the present generation that Jesus is talking with. The last one in Matthew 23 is especially fitting. In this one, Jesus is talking about the evil that the generation He is with has done and He says at the end that all the judgment He has spoken of will come upon this generation.

Notice also that Jesus says “This generation.” He does not say “That generation.” What is being said by those denying this interpretation is that a future generation will be punished for killing the Messiah when it was the generation at the time of Jesus that was guilty of that crime. Only the generation of Jesus could be justly accused of personally rejecting the Messiah in His ministry.

Jesus also told Caiaphas at the time of his trial that he would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of glory. This fits entirely with this happening in the lifetime of Caiaphas. It’s a stretch to say that Caiaphas would see this in death.

Before the transfiguration, Jesus tells the people that some of them will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God coming in power. This is usually thought to refer to the transfiguration since that event occurs always right after that. The problem is that it’s not much of a stretch to say something like that. Even with this virus going around, I could post on the Facebook group of my apartment complex and say “Many of you will still be alive eight days from now.” If I come back correct and say, “You should all accept me as a prophet now” I will probably be thought to be crazy.

Not only that, the transfiguration was not a public event. It involved only three other people who saw Jesus. How could these people be seeing the transfiguration and thinking that that is the kingdom of God coming in power? (Note also that this does not say they will see Jesus return. It says they will see the Kingdom of God come with power.)

Also, historically, we know that the destruction of the temple happened in 70 A.D. That would be a sign that God had abandoned that temple and the people had abandoned the covenant. Jesus died between 29-33 A.D. 70 A.D. would easily fit within a generation. God is giving them as much time as possible to repent.

For these reasons, I consider it best to interpret Matthew 24:34 in a very straightforward sense. It’s hard to think of a way Jesus could have been more clear about time. Matthew has used this generation consistently to refer to the generation of judgment and this is the great granddaddy of judgment. This is the judgment Matthew thinks Jesus is saying will come on the nation of Israel that rejected Him.

Next time we cover this topic, we will look at other possible interpretations.

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 24:30

Is everybody looking for a sign? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So this next verse is again one that many futurists will jump at and say “See! This has to be future!” No. It doesn’t. I will again here be explaining why it is that I think the context better fits a first-century milleu described in typical apocalyptic language of the time. Let’s look at the verse.

“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

What we have to ask is what is being seen. Does it mean that the sign will be seen in Heaven or that the sign is of something in Heaven? I have traditionally been using the ESV, but let’s point out other translations renders this differently.

NIV:

“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”

Berean Literal Bible: And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

Berean Study Bible: At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

NASB: “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

NKJV: Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

I could go on, but you get the point. Notice something about these other translations. Heaven comes after Son of Man each time. I personally think the NIV has it most accurately. However, if you think I’m being arbitrary….

καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς·

Go to a site like Blueletterbible.com and look up the verse in Greek and see that Heaven follows AFTER the Son of Man each time. Note also this fits with other passages. In Matthew 26, Jesus tells Caiaphas that he will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of glory. I plan to look at this verse in greater depth later, but note what it says. Sitting and coming both. It doesn’t mean Caiaphas will look out his window one day and see Jesus riding on a cloud like Goku on his Nimbus. Also, Caiaphas certainly won’t see Jesus at the right hand of the Father literally since no one can see God and live.

Coming refers to judgment and sitting refers to ruling. Jesus sitting means that He is ruling and Jesus coming means that He is judging. What Jesus is saying is that Caiaphas will see that Jesus is ruling from the right hand of God and judging. This is quite the turnaround! The Sanhedrin is trying to judge Jesus, and Jesus is promising that He will judge them instead.

So what is Jesus promising that will be seen? The destruction of the temple as the location of the sign is not specified. Note that only at the beginning do we hear about the temple being destroyed explicitly. This is where Jesus is saying this is happening. The temple being destroyed means something new is being set up or at least an old way of doing things is ended. The system of Judaism at the time is ended. The new temple has been built. It is the temple of the church with the Spirit living in believers.

Why will the tribes mourn? Because the mourning means that judgment has come and Jerusalem will be no more. Also, I think Jerusalem is the Babylon that is pointed to in Revelation. We will spend more time on Revelation later in looking at eschatology and touching other passages like 1 Cor. 15, Psalm 110, and 2 Peter.

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