The 'Plain Sense' Interpretation

Peshat (פשט)

by Mark E. Mountjoy

 

Scripture reading: "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:18-19).

Growing up believing Premillennialism meant that I was taught to believe all New Testament prophecies which came from Old Testament sources had to be fulfilled "literally." "The plain sense! The plain sense!" was the confident mantra I heard many times as a lad. It was our justification for our belief that the Second Coming, seven year tribulation and thousand year reign of Christ had to be point by point true--just as prophecies had foretold Christ would be born of a Virgin1, ride on a donkey2, have his hands and feet pierced3 and die4 and rise again.5

Like Randall Price, the author of the above quote and prolific writer, who believes that the prophecies must all be understood literally, we were taught, there was no possible way any Amillennarian arguments against Premillennialism's plausible; questionable; extreme and embarrassing interpretations about Israel; the Church,; the future; the millennium; the throne of David, the Land Promises, the literal or the spiritual; the nationalist or non-nationalist nature of the kingdom of God could— all of these ideas have to come under the Lordship of Jesus of Nazareth and the authority, teachings and interpretive expectations of the Apostles and the first Christians (Romans 15:25-26; Hebrews 11:40; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 John 4:5-6 and Revelation 19:10).

A Teachable Frame of Mind

We must always remain curious and hungry for God’s word and all through life be careful to maintain a teachable frame of mind. We must assume this is true of all Christians who truly want the nourishment of God’s living bread, his Word. Long ago, along life’s journey, I took a peek at some Amillennial arguments. What a shock it was then, to learn that those Christians are not wrong but indeed 100% correct on many of their observations of the Word of God! When I listened to what they had to say and sat down to pray and study and reflect, I had to admit there was substance to many of their claims! Then I could understand their sense of grief about the blanket but untrue notion that 'all prophecies from the Old Testament are treated literally in the New.'

Pesher is the designation for an interpretation that contemporizes or explains a person, place or events and circumstances in a way that elucidates a deeper and non-obvious meaning.6  But 'Peshat' is the Jewish appellation for prophecies which are treated literally. There are as many examples of Peshat in the New Testament as there are Pesher. You will be quite surprised!7

Throughout the New Testament examples of Peshat and Pesher (along with other Semitic interpretive methods) are numerous. I believe that our upcoming study of Premillennialism will be more edifying and spiritually rewarding if we have in mind some of the complexities that often are unknown8 to modern-day Christians, consequently these aspects get neglected in the comparison of different paradigms, assumptions and conclusions.

God's Word is a Blessing to Christ for Truth and Guidance

It is my prayer that all Christians (whether they be Premillennial or Amillennial) will be able to benefit from my writing ministry. I am not here to scold, bash or condemn. My charge is to dispense what God has shown me in my many studies and observations. It is for you to grapple with if you wish. It is for you to pray about. It is for you to settle in your own heart what it means and how it will impact your life, your leadership, your teaching ministry, your walk with God. My job is not to convince but to present. I do this with joy and a strong sense of responsibility.

God bless you in your endeavors to understand and serve our blessed Lord and Christ. I feel constrained to believe every one of us wants very much to represent our Lord Jesus to the world as he has revealed himself through the pages of Holy Writ.

The following comment is a true and interesting quote:

"Even a superficial reading of the New Testament reveals how frequently its authors and those about whom they write quote from the Old Testament. This should come as a surprise to no one familiar with the authoritative role that "the scriptures" played in Jewish religious life. What may come as a surprise, at least to the modern reader, however, is the variety of ways in which scripture is interpreted and used by Jesus and the early church. In their hands, the meaning of the Old Testament is not restricted to its so-called literal and historical meaning, but has other dimensions of meaning. Moreover, with one exception, the interpretive methods adopted by Jesus and the early church are identical with those adopted by other Jewish interpreters of the second-Temple and early rabbinic periods."

(http://www.abu.nb.ca/courses/NewTestament/Hebrews/OTinNT.htm).


The above quote by the unnamed author of that website invites us to think about the variety of ways the New Testament employs in its treatment of Old Testament texts. There are a variety of ways, but Peshat is prominent, though not used exclusively.

Peshat

We know only too well how many prophecies in the Old Testament were literally fulfilled in the New. Among them Micah 5:1-2 and Matthew 2:5-6, the birthplace of our Lord in the town of Bethlehem, about 5 miles from Jerusalem. Of Jesus' life it was foretold that he would be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). The knowledge that his life was sought when he was a helpless babe could have evoked much sadness; the realization that so many young toddlers lost their lives behind his birth would have been agonizing all by itself. Furthermore, that the rulers of the fourth kingdom sought to kill Jesus and succeeded (Daniel 9:26 cf. Matthew 16:21). Jesus was also keenly aware that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed and wept over it: Luke 19:41-44.

Plain sense examples include Hosea 6:6 (see Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-32). Here the rule that mercy trumps sacrifices is literally upheld and Jesus condemned the Pharisees for believing that God's commandments should lead to hardship. In another example, Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 21:17 and Leviticus 20:9 are used by Jesus to literally mean that one should always honor one's mother and father and the Pharisaic Law about Temple donations stood in direct violation to this requirement (See Mark 7:1-3).

But there are other literal ways Isaiah 53:3's prophecy would have been realized in Jesus' life: certainly the knowledge that he was born to die on the Cross (John 18:37) impinges on the idea that the kingdom of God could have been set up in the first century without the crucifixion happening at all. Contrary to the Premillennial claim, the Cross and crucifixion was no surprise nor was it an example of anything going awry in God's prophetic plans. On numerous occasions (well before his arrest) Jesus foretold this very thing and made it clear that that was the goal and imperative of his first advent: Matthew 26:54; Luke 9:21-22; 9:30-31 cf. John 18:37.

Moreover, even in the Parable of the Vineyard Jesus plainly foretold that he, as the Son of the vineyard owner, would be caught and cast out of the vineyard and slain (Matthew 21:37-39). Premillennialists, then, are incorrect when they say that somehow Jesus should have or could have avoided the Cross, the Bible teaches no such thing (Matthew 26:50-56 cf. Daniel 9:24; Isaiah 53)!

Peshat and the Destruction of Jerusalem

There is a tendency among us all to conceitedly believe that all we have been taught is all that we really need to know. As a youngster in High School I remember just how arrogantly sure I was that Roman Catholics were exactly Babylon the Great of John's Revelation. And living in a Catholic neighborhood I was able to terrify my Catholic school-mates with prophecies about 20th century end of the world. I was successful because their knowledge mainly came from the Catechism and not the Bible. However, one day in 1976 one of my class-mates went home and told her parents what I had said about their church and what role it would play in the Great Tribulation. The girl's name was Mary. When she came in the next day she informed me that I was invited to dinner with them. (To say I was shocked is to put it mildly!!). So I agreed. What did I have to lose?


I went with Mary to her home with all the self-assurance that there was no possible way they could tell me anything. When I got there her mom confronted me, saying something like, "Mary's been telling me you believe some tribulation is getting ready to happen. Where do you find this in the Bible?" I snapped, "It's in Matthew 24, don't you read the Bible!?" After dinner she went and got her Catholic Bible and handed it to me and said, "Show us where it says that." I flipped through it in awe and wonder because I had never seen a Catholic Bible before. I remember coming across Tobit and some other books I had never seen or heard of. I asked her what kind of Bible it was and she said it was the Bible the Church had had from the beginning with the Apostles.

(My confidence was also shaken just by the fact that I did not know the first thing about this larger canon or the reasons for the differences!).

Anyway, I turned to Matthew 24 and handed it back to her. She looked at it, read it silently and then I saw a look of sadness and disappointment spread across her face.  It that moment, before she spoke, it seemed that time stood still and everyone in the room held their breath.  And then, with all the meekness that was appropriate for the occasion she said, "Mark, this is talking about the Destruction of Jerusalem. . ." I said, "Destruction of Jerusalem!? Did that happen?" She said, "Yes, it happened in 70 A.D." Now that was a curve ball that landed directly in the middle of my forehead! It is not that I believed her—I didn't know what to believe—and I had never heard of the Destruction of Jerusalem or 70 A.D. and I was, therefore, completely disarmed. I had nothing else to say and, frankly I went home baffled because they didn't have a lot to say about what the Destruction of Jerusalem involved, either.

Little did I know at the time that within five years my own studies would lead me right back to what she told me at that dinner-table.

Now, I told that story to say that Premillennialists jump ship from their literal interpretation mantra when it comes to the Destruction of Jerusalem. I mean, it is clear when you read Matthew and Mark and Luke that Jesus believes that the Jerusalem of his own times is going to be destroyed within some reasonable distance from the time of the Apostles (Matthew 24:29-34 cf. Mark 13:24-29) Premillennialists, however, are not having any 'plain sense' interpretation here and do not accept this. Instead, Luke 19:42 is taken to mean first century Jerusalem but the Olivet Discourse passages (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13 and Luke 21) are taken to mean some other future Jerusalem than the one immediately suggested in the text and the context. Premillennialists also take the liberty to say that the coming promised in those passages were not meant to be taken at face value by the first Christians, but history tells us that is exactly how they understood them and exactly what they expected.

That these passages are treated as yet future has absolutely NO justification in the Scriptures whatsoever. In fact, Premillennialists who argue that the founding of the Israeli State in 1948 somehow represents the beginning of the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse have to jump through a number of hoops to force their interpretation upon the words of the Lord. This is definitely not right, brothers and sisters!

I know this may come as some surprise to many Christians hearing it for the first time. However, I do not say "It is not right" out of self-righteousness or to belittle anyone or any group. I say it to challenge you to take a good second look at what you believe. You believe what you were told to believe (we all do—at first). Look at the chapter and verses and the texts and the context again. If you maintain that you only go by the literal reading of Matthew 24 then audience relevance and the idea that those events would happen in the lifetime of at least some of the Apostles would have to be a part of the picture. If not, then your claims are wildly inconsistent. Ask the Holy Spirit for his help in your studies.

Refrain from studying just to prove yourself right.  Veer away from trying to confirm your own biases or protect your Christian church from doctrinal scrutiny.  Study to inhance and deepen your personal relationship with God.  Study to gain a true understanding of God's intentions for saying what was said.

If one claims to believe in imminence that means that one also claims believe the Second Coming prophecies as they stand in the New Testament.  The New Testament indicates and repeatedly declare that it would be 'soon.' You, however, probably do not believe 'soon' means two thousand years from now (I am assuming). And so, I think it is fair to say, that if you do not believe 'soon' means another two thousand years from now, then your present conviction that the Second Coming promised in "soon" passages in the New Testament cannot bear the weight of meaning the Second Coming has not happened and is an unfulfilled prophecy of the New Testament even as we speak. In other words, going by the "Plain Sense" or "Peshat" method championed by Fundamentalists, there is no justification to believe that imminence means an event will take anywhere like two thousand years to finally happen.

On 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 5:1-4, 23-24

Christians who believe in the tenets of Premillennialism and Dispensationalism will be quick to point out that history says not a word about Christ coming back in the clouds of heaven. However, this objection is based more on unfamiliarity with the strange history of the Jewish people then on the truth. The facts of the matter in the case of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, is that if you continue reading through 1 Thessalonians 5, it becomes crystal clear that Paul believes those things would certainly happen within the lifetime of the Christians at Thessalonica:

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief"

And, then in verses 23 and 24 Paul continues,

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."

These passages do not leave a whole lot of room for excuses and rationalizations. Either Christ fulfilled these promises or they failed. There is no two ways about it! Now, I realize that some who believe in a past Second Coming do not believe it was a literal event, but I do not share their convictions.

Is There Historical Any Evidence of a First Century Visible Return?

Did the Lord come back literally or not? Of course this is an important question! The evidence of history that I read suggests, "Yes he did!" However, the demand for explicit proof is to maintain that the corroboration has to say, "THIS IS THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST." This requirement will come up empty, however, because history will not yield this kind of statement within the vicinity of the lifetime of the first Christians. The pursuit of this kind of confirmation is precisely what tends to make Christians (generally speaking) "Partial Preterist." In other words, it is believed that some aspects of the fulfillment of the Second Coming may have been fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem but the real actual and final event awaits the world in an unknown future. 

However, the beliefs of the Apostles (as they are stated and preserved in the New Testament) do not lend credit to this idea at all. If you examine Romans 13:11-12 cf. 1 John 2:18; 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31; 15:51; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; Hebrews 10:25, 27 and 37; 1 Peter 4:7 and Revelation 1:1, 3 and 7 it becomes clear that the Apostle Paul and the others clearly awaited an event they believed was primary in every sense of the word. In these references the time statements along with audience relevance and the tense of the original Greek deny the Partial Preterist theory that the Apostles and early Christians expected and awaited a secondary event.

Implicit Evidence

The second way to look for proof is to seek and admit evidence that suggests "THIS IS THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST"--this is implicit evidence related to recorded information about visible signs and wonders that are, by any measure, extraordinary.

Now, this kind of evidence does appear in the records. What you will read below is word for word excerpts from Josephus. The only thing that has been added are my headers, all caps and underlines to emphasis certain points. Implicit evidence reads as follows:

A False Prophet Leads the People to Doom

"A false prophet was the occasion of these people's destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that commanded them to get up upon the Temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: AND THIS WAS IN ORDER TO KEEP THEM FROM DESERTING, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.

Now, a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from these miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such deliverance.

Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend , nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them.


A Mysterious Star Shaped Like a Sword, a Comet and a Strange Light

Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth of hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright daytime; which light lasted for half an hour.

A Cow Gives Birth to a Lamb!

This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the Temple.

The Temple's Security Compromised

Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] Temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night.

Now, those that kept watch in the Temple came hereupon running to the captain of the Temple, and told him of it: who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty, was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness.

But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their Holy House was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them.

*Chariots of Soldiers in Clouds

Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain and prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signal; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding cities.

Quaking and the Voice of a Great Multitude in the Temple

Moreover, at the feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] Temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence."

The Terrible Herald of Jesus Ben-Ananus

But, what is still more terrible there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the Temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud,

"A voice from the east, a voice from the west,

a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House,

a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides,

and a voice against this whole people!"

This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say anything for himself, or anything peculiar to those who chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before.

Hereupon our rulers supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was some kind of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator; where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet did he not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was,

"Woe, woe to Jerusalem!"

And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him who he was, and whence he came, and why he uttered such words; he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.

Now during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow,

"Woe, woe to Jerusalem!"

Nor did he give ill words to any of those who beat him every day, nor good words to those who gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force,

"Woe, woe, to the city again,
and to the people,
and to the Holy House!"

And as he added at the last,-

"Woe, woe, to myself also!"

There came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages, he gave up the ghost."

The Jews Expected a Victorious Messiah to Conquer Rome

Now, if anyone consider these things, he will find that God takes care of mankind, and by all ways possible foreshows to our race what is for their preservation; but that men perish by those miseries which they madly and voluntarily bring upon themselves; for the Jews by demolishing the Tower of Antonia, had made their Temple foursquare, while at the same time they had it written in their sacred oracles, --
"That then should their city be taken, as well as their Holy House, when once their Temple should become foursquare."

But now, what did most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, "about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth." The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination.

Josephus' Interpretation of those Prophecies

Now, this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judaea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure; and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city, and their own destruction" (Wars of the Jews 6.5.3:285-315).

It is interesting to note that Josephus' observations of what happened in the seven years leading up to the destruction are according the Peshat prophecies of the New Testament: a false prophet, visible signs in the heavens and wonders on the earth, along with angelic troops in the skies (Revelation 13:11; 16:13; Luke 21:25-32 cf. Acts 2:19-20; 13:40-41; Jude 14). However, Josephus does not say he or anyone else saw Jesus in the clouds, but we must ask ourselves what it means when troops of soldiers are riding up and down the skies of Judaea? Jesus did not promise to be seen alone in the sky or the clouds but to be with his angels. That the people saw the troops above seems to suggest that the angel's God and Captain would be leading them (Matthew 16:27 cf. Jude 14).


Now, Josephus' interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel 7 (that they denoted Vespasian's government) should not be accepted as valid by any serious person. In fact, where the Zealots and the Sicarii felt that the Romans were a "doomed fourth kingdom" Josephus goes the other way and says that the Romans were the new everlasting kingdom that the prophecies foretold. Of course the end of Vespasian's reign in a mere ten years and the demise of the Roman Empire in A.D.1453 proves Daniel certainly did not foresee Vespasian or his empire as God's glorious everlasting king and kingdom. The truth of the matter is this: At the destruction of Jerusalem the Christians were raised and presented to Jesus, the Ancient of Days "and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" (Daniel 7:22, 27 cf. Luke 12:31-32; Hebrews 12:28; James 2:5; Revelation 12:10).

So we can see that taking the signs of the end of the age and audience relevance and the time statements, according to the rubric of Peshat, (the literal interpretation) means there is no justification to believe the days of the very first Christians went out without the unusual events they had been taught to expect happening. What they expected certainly came to pass. See?

The Unconditional Land Promises

Before I close I would also like to suggest to my Christian friends that at some point the Land Promise to Abraham fails even under the Premillennial system. Of course God made such a promise to Abraham; however, the oldest Christian interpretation of those vows is that they were abrogated because of Israel's disobedience and rejection of Christ as Lord. Zealous Premillennialists struggle with Amillennialists about the land promise being "unconditional." But if it is unconditional how can you believe God will literally and completely detonate the entire planet after the millennium and create an entirely new planet (as per Revelation 21:1ff)? Would not the obliteration of earth instantly annul the so-called unconditional and everlasting land promises? It seems it would! Think about that and reflect on it. By doing so you may come to realize that it is entirely possible for all of us Christians to come back to the earliest Biblical understanding and see eye to eye.

So there we have it: a small but important number of examples of literal or "Peshat" prophecies in the New Testament; these examples clearly treat some Old and New Testament prophecies at face value. We cited these but they are only a fraction of the material that is in the Scriptures to be dealt with. This article is not an attempt to even deal exhaustively with a subject so extensive, it is only a signal that some of the things we believe are "cut-and-dried" really have a level of complexity that only diligent study and prayer and reflection can bring to the surface.

Summary

We have briefly examined Peshat and how it is used in the New Testament. It can been seen in the case of our Lord's Virgin birth and the place of his birth. It can be seen in his triumphal entry on a donkey. It can be seen in the idea that he would be a man of sorrows, grieving over a wayward people and a city doomed to destruction. Neither that or his being the sacrifice for the sins of the entire human race was anything trivial to anticipate. We also saw that the Peshat sense of prophecy held good in the method and manner of Jesus' death and the fact that he would rise again.
However, we noted that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming belong in the Peshat category as well. This is because of time statements, audience relevance the tense of Greek words fix those events into a late Second Temple framework and, therefore, will not allow those prophecies to become moving targets. Moreover, even a casual inspection of the New Testament will show that the Apostles Paul and John and Peter and James and the Hebrew writer all understood the coming of the Lord to be a primary rather than secondary or typical event. The history of those times implicitly gives credit to the validity of their claims:

 

(1) A false prophet was the cause of the doom of the Jerusalemites and multitudes of pilgrims.
(2) A mysterious star shaped like a sword appeared over Jerusalem along with a comet that continued for a whole year.
(3) A strange light appeared in the Temple in the middle of the night and it was like daytime for thirty minutes.
(4) A cow being led to the slaughter gave birth to a baby lamb.
(5) The heavy gates of the Temple opened apparently on their own, compromising Temple security.
(6) Battalions of soldiers were seen in the skies all over Judaea.
(7) The voices of an unseen multitude were heard speaking in the Temple.
(8) The woeful herald of Jesus B. Ananus against Jerusalem and the Jewish people.
(9) The Jews expected a warrior messiah but were doomed because they rejected Jesus of Nazareth who went unrecognized by them.

(10) Josephus says Vespasian and the Romans fulfilled the kingdom prophecies but the death of Vespasian in A.D.79 and the end of the Roman Empire 1,384 years later proves Josephus was not correct. In reality the kingdom prophecies belonged to Jesus Christ and the up and coming Christians who took the kingdom in the midst of Jacob's Trouble.

The chart prepared above offers a handful of Peshat and Pesher references to demonstrate the differences between the two. However, it must be understood that there are other methods of interpretation used far more frequently by the Holy Spirit. With them he wove the New Testament together as an inspired commentary on Old Testament prophecies. Understanding what he did in this or that case is truly fascinating if for no other reason than the fact that we cannot fathom why.

Finally, we noted that, even under the Premillennial timetable, the alleged everlasting land promise given to Abraham collapses if the prophecies of a new heaven and earth are to be understood literally. At any rate, the New Testament does not see the fate of the Jewish people as being unconditional in a good way or in a bad way. There are just too many passages and verses that come out and say that glory and honor belong to them based on choices made. On the other hand, the New Testament certainly teaches that misery, and tribulation, and destruction waited in the wings for any of Abraham's carnal seed who chose disobedience and death over truth and life--and the history related to the outcome of that period is a poignant witness that God's threats against the leaders and citizens of the Second Jewish Commonwealth proved to be both literal and true.

Notes

1 Isaiah 7:14 LXX.
2 Zechariah 9:9
3 Zechariah 12:10
4 Daniel 9:26
5 Psalms 16:10 and 49:15.

6 Some Pesher Scriptures in the New Testament include: "Out of Egypt have I called my Son" Matthew 2:14-15 which comes from Hosea 11:1; "The voice of crying in Rama" Matthew 2:17-18 which comes from Jeremiah 31:15; "After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down," Acts 15:15-17 which comes from Amos 9:11. This last Pesher is a classic because the situation being addressed in Acts chapters 10 and 15 no mortar, wood, nails or hammers are involved only the conversion of Gentiles to Christ.

7 One will discover (amazingly) that Premillennialists tend to believe all prophecies should be treated under the rubric of Peshat and Amillennialists lean more towards Pesher—many times contrary to the concerns, contextual and historical intent to the original audience.

8 If you want to do your own research first hand and add some very valuable books to your library, Jewish professor, Lawrence Schiffman's Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls (subtitled "The History of Judaism, the Background of Christianity, the Lost Library of Qumran) ISBN 0-8276-0530-7 and Roman Catholic scholar, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.'s, The Semitic Background of the New Testament ISBN 0-8028-4344-1 are two very good books I own and highly recommend.