Wednesday, August 10, 2011
CHRIST'S KINGDOM WAS NOT POSTPONED!
The Kingdom of Christ came 2000 years ago, quietly, peacefully, without fanfare - and without fail. There were no parades down Main Street, no fireworks marking the event, no great political speeches. Only a few men saw it, and even they didn't realize what was going on. The Jews of that day expected more, as do Bible scholars today; they continually scan the prophetic horizons for the unusual and the spectacular, and overlook one of the most significant events since Creation. The Bible doesn't give us the story in big, blue, letters. We have to step back and dig a little.
V5 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." V6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. V7. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. V23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
The Second Coming has been preached for years, to the exclusion of almost anything else, until any Scriptural mention of Christ coming or going almost anywhere automatically generates a picture in our minds of the Second Coming. "Till the Son of man be come" obviously is no exception. So when Bible commentators see that, they focus only on the future, and read no further. But between the First Advent and the Second Coming there were a number of Christ's comings. These Scriptures deal with Christ coming into His kingdom. This is not a future event; it won't happen after that mythical seven year "Great Tribulation," or after the "rapture" of the Church, or after 144000 fantastic Jewish witnesses surpass the Church in bringing souls to Christ; it happened 2000 years ago.
Jesus sent the twelve Israelites out over the nation, and said that they, not their descendants, will not have gone over all the cities till the Son of man comes. And He didn't say that their mission would be interrupted, and placed in suspended animation for the duration of the Church. It would happen when some of the disciples were still alive, but after the remainder had tasted of death.
There are other Scripture verses pointing to the coming of the kingdom before His Second Coming in glory. The first one is in Matthew. "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt 16:28). Here Jesus said that some of the disciples, though not all, would live to see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. If we interpret literally, and consider all relevant Scriptures, we will not see the Transfiguration as a "miniature preview" of the coming kingdom.
Mark, on the same event, writes, "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1). The word to remember here is power.
And Luke says this: "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27).
Without question these three Gospel passages affirm that the disciples would actually see Jesus coming, He would be in His kingdom and they would see Him. He would have power, great power. In fact, He would have all the power in the whole universe. But it all happened too quietly. There weren't any fireworks or marching bands when it happened, so most Bible scholars suspect that Jesus made a wrong guess about the time. Liberals, with dulled conscience, don't mind saying it, others couch their unbelief in pious sounding gibberish. The Wycliff Bible commentators align themselves with Scofield and dispensational futurism, who could think only in terms of the Second Coming: "These words seemingly require the return of Christ within the lifetime of the apostles, but He did not come. The most logical explanation is that Jesus was speaking of the Transfiguration as a sample of the coming of the Kingdom." (p. 1044,1045). (that's that "miniature preview" we mentioned earlier)
Another was Dr. A.C. Gaebelein, close friend of Scofield. He was so sure that the Lord Jesus Christ goofed that he gives the Holy Spirit credit for his and Scofield's wild interpretation. He writes: "We can learn...that the transfiguration as interpreted not by men but by the Holy Spirit, is the pattern of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...Some of those standing there did not taste death until they saw Him coming, for after six days Peter, James and John beheld Him in His power and Glory, a pattern of the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Gospel of Matthew, p 361). Such is the most common interpretation of Matthew 16:28 in the Church today, but it's far from literal, and far from biblical. First of all, Jesus said that they would see Him in His Kingdom, not in some kind of "pattern." In the second place the Transfiguration happened only about six days later while all the apostles were still alive. And Jesus said that not all of them would be alive. Scholars didn't check the Scriptures to see whether Jesus was right or wrong, they simply assumed that He was wrong, and went about to "cover up His mistake" as best they could.
The obvious step would have been to search the Scriptures for a time when one or more of the apostles tasted death before the others did. And as we all know, one apostle, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus and then hanged himself. He tasted death. The time was after the Transfiguration, and shortly before Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried - all that happened almost 2000 years ago, and the Second Coming hasn't taken place yet. Jesus, after His resurrection, came to the eleven disciples: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt 28:18). "All power" is a great deal of power. When was this power given to Him? "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4): Many scholars refuse to accept the fact that Jesus received power at His resurrection, preferring the perverse view offered by the NIV, and other modern translations, which turn the verse around, and say that "with power He was declared to be the Son of God." That's a mistranslation, and it's devious. He wasn't declared with power to be the Son of God, He was declared to be the Son of God with power, or possessing power. And it happened at His resurrection.
Ephesians 1 is almost a repeat of Romans 1:4. V19: "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all"
By a literal interpretation, and using the God-given principle of searching the Bible for relevant passages ("Here a little and there a little" - Isaiah 28:9-13), all the facts fall neatly into place. Jesus was in possession of all power in all the universe, and every kingdom on earth, and everything in heaven, at the time of His resurrection. Eleven disciples (one had tasted of death) saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom shortly thereafter (Matthew 28:18). The kingdom was set up right on schedule; it was not postponed. And yet, most of Israel had no part in the Kingdom.
All agree that Christ came to offer the kingdom to Israel. And all agree that, because Israel rejected the King and the kingdom, the nation did not receive it. But scholars cannot accept the obvious, that all the promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament came to nought. Believing the promises to be without condition, yet seeing that the kingdom was not delivered as promised, they invented the "postponed kingdom" theory. To make that seem plausible, many Scriptures needed to have been muddied. And so we have a future scenario, a coming Antichrist, a seven year "Great Tribulation," the great gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel, and so forth.
The big problem with this theory is that, if the promise had been unconditional, God, being a God of integrity, could neither have cancelled nor postponed the kingdom. "Unconditional" means that, no matter what Israel did or didn't do, she would have received the promise right on schedule. Today Israel, a nation of unbelievers, would have been the top spiritual nation in the world. What a frightful scenario! But God is not as dumb as some dispensationalists would like to believe. He knows man inside out, and made no unconditional covenants with him. He would not trap Himself into agreements with unstable, unpredictable, sinful man which would have wreaked havoc upon the whole world. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man (John 2:24).
Because the promise was NOT unconditional, and because Israel betrayed and crucified Him, the kingdom was taken from them, and given to another nation (Matthew 21:43). That's us. Are we doing all we can to propagate God's truth?