ith this week’s study we begin to examine the relationship between Gabriel’s seventy weeks of years prophecy to Daniel and Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. In that discourse did Jesus affirm a disjointed seventieth week, or did He affirm the integrity of the prophecy’s sequential weeks? Did Jesus predict the hypothetical “secret rapture,” or did He predict something else, perhaps more than one “something else”?
gain this week I address the steady—and senseless—habit of those who advocate dispensational theology to arbitrarily inject hundreds or thousands of years into Bible verses where neither context nor grammar indicate such a time lapse. I offer one such example that clearly demonstrates the error of this habit.
ut Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:14-21)
he typical dispensational interpretation of this lesson builds on its preconceived views, imposing itself onto the lesson rather than drawing truth from the lesson. Based on its inconsistent claim of a near-wooden literalism of Biblical interpretation, the dispensational view reasons in this manner. Since we cannot find any event in history or in the text of Scripture in which the sun was darkened and the moon turned into blood, this part of Joel’s prophecy must refer to a yet-future event, so part of Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, and part of it remains to be fulfilled during the “Great Tribulation.” What is the problem with this interpretation? Simple—it contradicts the inspired text and Peter’s words. How could the inspired record be more straightforward and clear about the matter? “But this is that….” Peter didn’t say, “But this is part of that….” He rather attributed the whole of Joel’s prophecy to the Day of Pentecost, the very day in which he stood up and preached this incredible sermon. We have a rather simple choice. Do we agree with Peter who spoke these words, with Luke who wrote these words, and with the Holy Spirit who inspired and preserved them? Or do we disagree with all these witnesses and agree with the dispensational interpretation that contradicts them? Thank you; without apology I’ll agree with Peter, Luke, and the Holy Spirit, not disagree with them and attempt to superimpose an uninspired and contradictory view onto them and their simple and clear words.
n the particular warnings that Jesus spoke in the Olivet Discourse and that we examine below a simple and straightforward examination of the language will clearly indicate that Jesus was describing a specific, local event, an event that would endanger His disciples if they remained in the region in which that prophetic event was to occur. Jesus gave the disciples multiple and clear indications that would serve as a warning notice to them. When they saw these warning signs unfolding, they were immediately to leave that region for safety elsewhere. Such an interpretation of these signs is simple and sensible. Any attempt to reinterpret these signs as relating to the hypothetical “secret rapture” or to the Second Coming is unreasonable and nonsensical. Will it really matter where you are when the end occurs? Will you have sufficient notice to go into your home and pack a suitcase? Will you need a suitcase for that matter? What moral stretch of the mind can—or even attempts to—justify the absurd notion that pregnant women and nursing mothers shall miss out on the event? Yet all of these prophetic signs from Jesus are reasonable and sensible if in fact He was speaking in prophecy of a local event in prophetic history.
o be sure, Jesus did include prophecy regarding the Second Coming, though none regarding “secret rapture,” in the Olivet Discourse. Rather than indicating that His return would be “secret,” He described it in mirror-opposite terms. His coming would be like a bolt of lightning, visibly and noticeably streaking across the sky with such suddenness and with such visible dominance that all would see it and take notice.
e shall examine these and other questions more fully in coming studies.
Abomination and Desolation
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains…. (Matthew 24:15-16)
e find language similar to Jesus’ reference in four passages from Daniel. (Daniel 8:13; 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11) The Olivet Discourse, as this message from Jesus is termed, is one of the three longest “sermons” or messages recorded in the gospels from Jesus’ lips. The three are the Sermon on the Mount, the Olivet Discourse, and Jesus’ words to the disciples following His last Passover with them in John’s gospel, chapters fourteen through sixteen. Jesus spoke the Olivet Discourse during the week in Jerusalem prior to His arrest and crucifixion. Interestingly, just as we should logically view John chapters fourteen through sixteen as Jesus’ final word to the disciples prior to His crucifixion, we should view the Olivet Discourse as His last word to the unbelieving Jewish leaders prior to His crucifixion.
n our study of Gabriel’s seventy week prophecy we have necessarily examined the popular and errant interpretation of the dispensational school of theology regarding this prophecy. Once advocates of this school choose to arbitrarily interrupt Gabriel’s prophecy by dissecting the seventieth week from the first sixty-nine, they demonstrate a similar inclination to arbitrary injection of time throughout the Bible. The typical dispensational interpretation of the Olivet Discourse is that Jesus was predicting the horrors of the seventieth week, or as they refer to it, the Great Tribulation, that they believe shall occur between their “secret rapture” and the Second Coming and general resurrection.
y Jesus reference to Daniel’s “abomination of desolation” prophecies, there is no doubt that a prophetic corollary exists between those prophecies and the subject matter that Jesus addressed in the Olivet Discourse. The first question to be addressed is fundamental to our understanding of both these Bible lessons and of the events relating to the end of time and the Second Coming. Do the actual events that Jesus described in the Olivet Discourse accurately—or even reasonably for that matter—describe any sensible scenario of the Second Coming? Let’s examine a few specific events that Jesus addressed in this discourse to see if they logically match what we might expect to accompany the Second Coming—or even the dispensational view of a “secret rapture.”
- Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains…. (Matthew 24:16) Whether we view this verse in reference to the Second Coming or the hypothetical secret rapture, does anything in Scripture describe the event as so geographically localized that it would matter whether believers were in the mountains, the valleys, or the middle of a thriving metropolis? Nothing, absolutely nothing in Scripture indicates that the Second Coming shall be restricted to a certain geographic location, much less that it shall exclude people who reside in mountains at the time.
- Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house…. (Matthew 24:17) The localization question becomes even more absurd with this verse. Who can make a sensible case that anyone’s participation in the Second Coming—or even the hypothetical secret rapture—will be jeopardized if you happen to be repairing your roof when the time occurs?
- Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. (Matthew 24:18) Can any Bible teacher make a credible case that a farmer in the field will miss out on the event if he chooses to go to his home to pack a suitcase before departing? For that matter, who can make any kind of case that we’ll need a suitcase or our earthly wardrobe? If advocates of the dispensational view try to avoid these questions by simply saying there will not be enough time for people to do these things, it should be noted that Jesus specifically puts the choice onto the individual, “Let them…” “Let him…” or “Neither let him….” Jesus is not merely describing the immediacy of the event; He is clearly warning us about what to do and what not to do when the actual events He had in mind occur—or occurred.
- And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! (Matthew 24:19) The absurdity intensifies. Who is willing to defend the idea that pregnant women and nursing mothers will either go to hell at the Second Coming or miss out on their participation in the “secret rapture”?
- But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day…. (Matthew 24:20) Jesus clearly indicates in this verse—as if He hadn’t already done so—that He is describing a specific local event, not the Second Coming or the dispensationalist’s “secret rapture.” Travel, earth travel from Point A to Point B is involved, and at that time those who knew Jesus warnings would need to travel a distance far greater than they might need to travel during winter weather or the Mosaic distance described as a “Sabbath day’s journey,” a distances just short of a mile.
- Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:26-27) Here Jesus confronts and refutes any notion of a “secret” event relative either to the immediate events that He prophesied or of the Second Coming. In effect Jesus confronted and rejected any notion of a “secret rapture.” Rather than a rapture occurring privately or secretly so that some people mysteriously disappear while others standing by remain, Jesus announces that His actual coming shall be as public and as gripping of human attention as a bright flash of lightening.
thorough examination of the Olivet Discourse begins with the fact that the disciples asked Jesus three questions, not just one.
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:1-3)
Notice the three questions.
- …when shall these things be?
- …what shall be the sign of thy coming?
- …what shall be the sign of the end of the world?
o doubt the disciples were confused by Jesus’ answer to their observation of the magnificence of the temple, as well as likely confused by much of the prevailing Jewish beliefs of the day regarding the coming of Messiah. It appears that a dominant belief among first century Jews was that shortly, if not immediately, after Messiah came, the end of the world, the Second Coming as we term the event, would occur. This errant Jewish belief could well explain the Thessalonian error regarding the immediacy of the Second Coming. Through the Olivet Discourse, among several other objectives, Jesus addresses and refutes this errant belief. From the time the fig tree begins to shoot out buds in the spring till harvest season involves significant time, just as He indicated to the disciples a significant time would lapse from His coming and death till the Second Coming.
s we study the Olivet Discourse, do we focus our minds on one event, be it the Second Coming or the likely local, geo-political event of the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D., or be it the Second Coming? I offer that Jesus actually addressed both questions and events in this discourse and clearly separated them by both time and necessary gospel or “kingdom” events that He indicated would occur between His First Coming and His Second.
Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church
Worship service each Sunday 10:30 A. M.
Joseph R. Holder Pastor