End Times Hopscotch

Are we really reading the passages the way they were meant to be read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was asked to reply to a video found here. I think it is important to respond to such videos because frankly, the end times can be scary for a lot of people. When I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist, I found it frightening also. Yeah. It’s kind of neat thinking the rapture can happen at any time, but kind of frightening too, and what about all those people left behind? What about all the destruction to come on the Earth? What about the antichrist?

With movies like “Devil’s Due” coming out, we can be sure end times mania is not far from people’s minds. That and I understand that a remake of Left Behind is in the works. It can hardly be the case that a ruler in the Middle East will sneeze without prophecy experts showing up immediately. Unfortunately, these experts have a great track record of being wrong as J.P. Holding of Tektonics shows in this video and in this video.

This is also why I think it’s important that people get their bearings straight on eschatology. Even if you come from a different view than I, at least know what you believe. That way, you won’t be able to be blown around by everyone who comes along with a new interpretation.

So let’s look at this video that I’m writing about together.

The video starts early saying not many people know what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ and therefore, they are in danger of being deceived.

As an orthodox Preterist, I think too many already are unfortunately. A first century event has been turned into an event sometime to occur in the distant distant future. Now some people hearing me identify myself as a Preterist might wonder what I’m talking about. For that, I recommend that you go here and here. I’m sure the makers of this video will count me as one deceived. Oh well if they do. In order to do so, they will need to address my criticisms.

Next we are told that on the day Jesus returns, there will be a polar reversal. What I’m wondering immediately at this is not about the polar reversal (Although I am wondering what passage of Scripture says this), but rather about that word “return.” Are we talking about the second coming or return? Are these one and the same?

This is a problem I have with futurists often. What do the words mean? Does the rapture count as a coming? Is it maybe a half coming since Jesus never fully comes to Earth supposedly but just appears? If this is a return, then is it the event described in Matthew 24? If so, then that leads to even more concerns. Paul ties in the return of Jesus with a mass resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 and in 1 Cor. 15. Nowhere in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we read anything about a resurrection. Why would Jesus not mention that and that be the main event Paul mentions?

According to the video, Isaiah 24:20 says “the Earth will shatter and crack and split open. The earth will stagger like a drunk, and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins. It will collapse and never rise again.” Immediately after this, the speaker jumps to Revelation 6:12.

Shouldn’t we finish looking at Isaiah 24 first?

You see, this is what I call Biblical hopscotch. You take one passage here and then hop over to another passage and then hop to one more passage never staying in any book for long to get a real taste of it. Imagine going to a restaurant and going to a buffet line and just taking a little piece of so many foods but never really sitting down and enjoying a meal. That’s the kind of picture that is taking place here.

So the futurists I meet are all about taking the text “literally” (A term that is highly misunderstood and as I show here led to disaster for the opponents of Jesus. Most people don’t understand that literally really means “According to the intent of the author.”

The video wants to move past Isaiah 24. I don’t. If we take it literally, then what happens? The earth is split. The text says cracked and shattered as well. And yet, somehow, the Earth supposedly has remained in one piece. Well maybe it’s not that literal…..

It’s literal except for the times that it contradicts the theory apparently, and then it’s not literal.

What’s going on is that the prophet Isaiah is giving descriptions of judgments on the nations around Israel. The language is apocalyptic to describe in cosmic terms the political events that will take place. An example of this is Isaiah 13.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

This sounds to many people like the end of the world. It’s not. It’s judgment on Babylon. Some readers might be thinking “Well obviously, Isaiah is talking about a Babylon that will show up in the far far distant future.” Why think that? Israel was concerned about Babylon then and this can show a fulfillment.

In Isaiah 23 we start to hear about the destruction of Tyre. Why think the prophet will suddenly interrupt this to talk about the world being destroyed? Listening to many of these end-times experts, you’d think the only time on Earth that the prophets were concerned about was a distant time when followers of YHWH supposedly won’t even be on Earth! (Save for “tribulation saints.”)

And besides, if the Earth is never to rise again, then how can it be that Christ will rule on the Earth? Is Christ going to rule over ruins? I thought His Kingdom was supposed to be a glorious Kingdom!

Once again, if you read it in a wooden sense, it cannot be consistent.

So let’s go on to Revelation 6.

In the NIV, the passage cited reads “12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

We’re given a detailed scientific account of what’s supposed to happen. Okay. I’m not a scientist. I can’t comment on that. Savvy readers who are skilled in the sciences are welcome to leave a comment about the matter. I am sure of this point.

If one star were to fall and hit the Earth, we would be doomed. I’m also quite sure that if the sun turned black, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon at all to tell what color it is.

The speaker goes to Psalm 97:5 that says the mountains melted like wax before the presence of the Lord to illustrate this.

Little problem there. Psalm 97 has everything in present tense. It is describing realities going on right now. The point is not global upheaval. The point is that all creation is to submit to the ruler YHWH. If the way the video reads the Psalm is the way we are to read it, then Psalm 98:8 will be an exciting time when the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy.

Okay. That would be a cool video to see.

Now we jump to Revelation 16:20 which says that every island fled away and the mountains were not found. Then there’s an immediate jump back to Revelation 6:15.

Exactly how are we to read the book of Revelation? Can we just jump wherever we want to and apply it in whatever method we want to?

Interestingly, 6:15 speaks of evil people who go to the mountains and ask them to hide them from He who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.

You know, those mountains that the video just said had crumbled and the ones that Revelation 6 says were removed from their place prior….

Yeah. I don’t get it either.

The video then tells us that the global earthquake will cause every building to fall. Isaiah 30:25 calls it the day of the great slaughter.

Really?

What else does Isaiah 30 say?

Well actually, it’s not a prophecy of destruction at all!

“23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

Note that it says the land will be rich and plentiful. We are told streams will flow on every mountain (Those mountains that had either crumbled or been removed) and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun! (The moon that was supposed to be blood red and the sun that was supposed to be dark) and the sun will be seven times brighter. (Yes. That dark sun will be seven times brighter.)

And you know, if this was really a time of great blessing, it would not be a blessing for the sun to be seven times brighter in a wooden sense.

And what’s going to happen? God will heal his people. This is not judgment! Unfortunately, too many people will just hear what the vid says and not really look up the references. Understandable unfortunately, but a mistake.

Next, it’s back to Revelation 16:21 and hailstones about 100 pounds each falling.

So apparently in this time of great prosperity for God’s people, there will be giant hailstones falling on the Earth. Seriously. On what grounds does one have the right to jump from Isaiah 30 and suddenly go back to Revelation 16 like this?

Okay. Now we move on to Matthew 24:30 with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens. Every one will see him and He will come on the clouds. The video also goes to Revelation 1:7 saying everyone will see Him, even those who have pierced Him.

All of whom, by the way, are dead now….

And let’s talk a little bit about coming and clouds. These are words of judgment as well which show that the deity is acting. In 2 Samuel 22, David describes a past event and says

“7 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Notice that David is talking about a past event, but read through the books of Samuel and you will not find this literally taking place. You will not find God hitching up his angels to go on a ride and shoot arrows at the bad guys. What will you find? David’s enemies regularly got judged, and often through natural means. But for the ancients, the deity (or deities) were involved in everything. Notice also the language David uses. He speaks about the Earth shaking and the foundations of the heavens trembling. This is language of destruction, but we have no record of a great earthquake in the lifetime of David.

We see the language of coming in Exodus 3

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

God has come to rescue His people? But God Himself didn’t show up in Egypt. It was Moses who showed up and performed the works of God.

And in Matthew 26:64, Jesus says this to the high priest at his trial.

““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””

Note what Jesus says. From now on, Caiaphas will see this. This is not a one-time future event. This is going to be a continuous event. Note also that Jesus will be coming and at the same time, sitting at the right hand. How is this possible, unless coming is a way of saying that Jesus will be judging! This court that has convened to judge Jesus will actually be judged by Jesus. Caiaphas himself will see this.

So either, this has happened, or else Jesus gave a false prophecy. Your choice.

And in Revelation 2:5, we read this to the church in Ephesus.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

So if this church does not get its act right, the second coming will take place?

Now of course, the video goes to 1 Thess. 4 and we hear about the rapture. Therefore I am once again wondering about the viewpoint of the video. Are they post-tribulational? Are they mid-trib? Yet they say the Christians will be saved from this terrible wrath. How can that be if this wrath has already started and the Earth is reeling, which is necessary since they say this is how every eye will see Jesus? Again, I am confused.

And as for meeting him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord, does that mean we are always going to be remaining in the air? Once again, the text is to be taken literally, except for when it is not to be taken literally.

The video also goes to 1 Cor. 15 yet my question still remains, where in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we see this resurrection take place? Why did Jesus leave out such an important detail?

The video then says that we will all be gathered with the Lord to defend Israel. (Kind of odd that Jesus leaves out that bit too about defending Israel. Kind of odd especially since passages like Matthew 24 actually describe judgment on Israel and not a hint of deliverance. In fact, Christians are told to flee Israel at that time.) The text jumped to for this is Rev. 19 and Zech. 14:4.

We’re told Jesus and His army, notably us, go out to wage war against the many arab nations and the antichrist, that figure who has not been spoken about this time, but is apparently enjoying a successful career reigning where every building has been destroyed! Apparently, all these tanks of the enemy are going to fight just fine despite the sun being darkened.

We go to Joel 3:16 for this one.

“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

What is going on in Joel? Well, we’re not told. Joel is a difficult book to date. Some date it to the 6th century. Some date it to the 9th. It does describe present realities going on and an army that God will defend His people from. Note however what is said in verse 18.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.”

Those mountains again. They’ve been destroyed and they’ve been removed both, but now they’re going to drip wine. Let’s hope this doesn’t interrupt the singing they’re supposed to do in Psalm 98.

We go back to Rev. 19 long enough to hear we’re riding on white horses and dressed in some fine white linen. (Note that Rev. 19:8 says that fine linen stands for righteous acts of God’s people. I mean, yeah, the text explicitly tells you that the term it uses just a few verses later is symbolism but hey, details, who needs them?) From there we jump back AGAIN to Joel 2 and start at verse 4.

4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

Now some of you might have caught on to that I look at the whole context and figured “Aha! I have you now! Look at what is said in verse 2!

” a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.”

Never was in ancient times and never will be in ages to come! This must be a grand climatic final battle!

Well, no.

For one thing, the author assumes history will keep going because there is a time after when this will supposedly never be again.

But this is typical hyperbolic language. If you’re going this way, you have some problems. For one thing, consider 1 Kings 3:12 when this is said to Solomon.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

So realize what this means! By this interpretation, Solomon was wiser than Jesus was. Do you want to say that?

For another example, look at 2 Kings 18:5

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Wow. No king like him before or after. (Did Hezekiah trust in God more than Jesus did?)

Yet in 2 Kings 23:25 we read

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

So did the writer of Kings totally forget about Hezekiah who he wrote about just a few pages earlier, or is this just hyperbolic language used to describe a great event?

In 2 Chronicles 30:26 we read about Hezekiah’s Passover that

“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Yet in 2 Kings 23:22 we read about Josiah’s Passover that

“Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.”

The same situation is being described. It’s hyperbolic language.

So what about the rest of the passage?

Noteworthy is the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. Will they make up their minds what they’re going to do? If Isaiah 30 had been taken in its full context, the sun would be seven times brighter. Now it’s no longer shining. Did it burn itself out or something? The stars will no longer shine? I thought they had all fallen earlier! What’s going on?

And heck, I think it’d be pretty sweet to see armies of horses entering buildings through windows! Why can’t I see a vid of that?

The vid goes on to talk about the antichrist and his mark and false miracles and the Lake of Fire. (And apparently, this army is advancing just fine despite the sun being dark.) And hey, at least this video gives us a really cool fire-breathing Jesus!

So what’s the next passage in this vid? Ezekiel 39:6. It reads “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well isn’t that special?

Let’s see what else the text says!

Speaking to Gog, the villain in the passage, we hear that

“3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

So apparently, this army of the future will be fighting with bows and arrows. They will also fall on the mountains of Israel. (Will those mountains again decide what it is that they’re exactly doing? Are they crumbling? Are they being removed? Are they singing?) The animals and carrion birds will eat the armies as food. (Because those animals will surely survive well in a devastated wasteland where they can’t see because there are no lights in the sky shining.)

Then in verse 9 we read

“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. ”

So these wooden weapons will be burnt and used for fuel. Sure, the vid shows tanks and not shields and clubs and spears but hey, details. Who needs them?

Hopscotch continues with Revelation 20 and the binding of satan. So satan, a spiritual being, is being bound with a chain and locked up somewhere. Once again, the language is meant to be metaphorical and it’s important to note it doesn’t take the Son of God to defeat the devil. One angel can do it. The great power raised up against God can be dealt with by one angel. (Empowered by God of course)

Then we go to Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. The problem with a passage like this being used is that it leads to a works salvation when not understood properly. The reality is that these good deeds are not done to obtain salvation. They are done because one already has salvation. Such misuses have produced unnecessary fear in the hearts of Christians who simply want to know they are in the right with God.

I have seen a longer version of this vid where there is an ending with a message of salvation. That’s important to have, but still lacking. It ends with a “Sinner’s prayer” and then says go find a good born-again church. (If you’re a new Christian, how are you to know what that is?) Our churches today unfortunately stress highly the concept of having conversions. They do not stress discipleship.

And besides, I’m concerned that this focus of evangelism will only work if you already accept the premise that the Bible is true. If you don’t, it’s just fearmongering. The apostles went a different route. They said Jesus is the risen Lord and King of the universe. Caesar is not! Get in line!

How much better off we’d be if we got that message instead?

What can be learned from this. Always check the context! We’ve found a great game of hopscotch going on in the biblical text, but the interpretations just do not hold up. There has not been given a methodology whereby we are to know how one is to apply which text where and listening to this kind of material, you’d think the only time the prophets were interested in talking about was this time in the future.

I am increasingly concerned more and more with a church that is caught in Last Days Madness, but is not growing in the knowledge of who Christ is and learning what it means to say Jesus is the resurrected Lord or learning more about their Bibles and how they have been handed down. Christians today often cannot defend the resurrection of the Lord, the central foundation of the faith, but they can sure bring out their charts and graphs to explain the end times!

Unfortunately, videos like this just add to the hype and in my opinion, increase the biblical ignorance. The Bible is a rich literary work that needs to be read in its proper context. When we treat it like a document written in our way of speaking, we do it, and its divine author, a disservice.

Keep in mind that in this post, I have certainly not disproved a futurist or dispensational approach. I disagree with those, but that is not my intent here. My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense. Let us seek to return to treasuring the Bible as the rich work that it is and realize understanding it is not a simplistic approach, but a difficult one that will require our time and effort.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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3 Responses to “End Times Hopscotch”

  1. Dave Richards Says:

    Nick,

    “My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense.” Sloppy? Ryrie, Walvoord?

    I read your preterest book (Last Days Madness). The author (Demar) is critical or some of Dallas’s greatest and most respected theologians. You are out of the local mainstream as most in the Bible Belt are futurist. Its similar to being an Old Earth Creationist in an young earth locality (like ours). You are going to get a lot of opposition with your preterist views and will suffer for it like we OECs do at the hands of the YECs. You have not answered Zech 14 Objection where Christ physically stands on the Mr of Olives and slays his enemies. Christ will physically occupy the throne in Jerusalem and rule the World for the millennium.

    Like all theology stance takers, we tend to be stubborn and continue to buck the wind and suffer the consequences. But go ahead and beat your head against the wall and have fun.

    Dave Richards

  2. apologianick Says:

    The sloppy eisegesis was what I saw going on in the video. I think other defenses are mistaken, but they are not sloppy. They do not just arbitrarily pick and choose with the text.

    Yes. DeMar is critical of some of Dallas’s theologians. That’s the point of a critique. They should be critical of him. For Zechariah 14, DeMar comments on that here from the Preterist site. http://www.preteristsite.com/docs/demarzechthree.html

    For me, Preterism answers the biggest biggest questions in eschatology. If the only passage I have some question on is Zechariah 14, I’m fine with that. I would rather have a view with one passage that is difficult, than a view with numerous passages that are difficult.

    And let’s drop this idea about just being stubborn and beating my head against the wall. I hold my position because of the evidence and the more I debate with dispensationalists, the more I’m convinced of it.

  3. jjvors Says:

    I came here to read your Preterist views. You didn’t cover them, but you did show how you read scripture, looking at the context of each book and its applicability to the audience of the day. Thank you for that!

    I’m a post-trib, pre-millenialist (so you can classify me properly!). I’ll find some other post to comment on this versus Preterist views and the Biblical evidence for them. At a more fundamental level I want to ask some questions about your hermeneutics.

    I approve of what you do, but I ask: is it enough? Is it sufficient to understand the original intent of the prophecy and its audience? Is that all there is to every prophecy? What do you think of the idea of multiple fulfillments of a prophesied event? Understanding the context of the passage in a book is great, but what about the context of the passage with other books? With the entire Bible? What do you think about using clear passages to explain obscure passages? If a symbol is used and defined in one place, can we apply the same meaning in other places?

    I have my answers for all these questions, but I’d like to hear yours.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Jeff

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