WHEN POPULAR CONSENSUS TRUMPS BIBLE INSPIRATION
AND THE HARD FACTS OF JEWISH SALVATION HISTORY
Mark E. Mountjoy
Theme Scripture: “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
Ordinary futurist churches and ordinary Christians are understandably alarmed when they hear, for the very first time, that there are actually people who call themselves "Christians" who believe Jesus came back the second time during the destruction of Jerusalem between A.D.66 and 70. This idea, this concept and this news is shocking, upsetting and a matter of no little concern to leaders and laymen alike across practically all denominational boundary lines.
When it is first heard a natural response is, Surely it was not heard right! Certainly, Jesus did NOT come back personally! Certainly, they must mean as a judgment "only." But when it is clarified that, No, Jesus descended from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel and the dead in Christ arose, etc, etc. the gravity of these claims sinks in really fast. In little time, what may have begun as a friendly sharing of ideas can result in fear, panic and heavy perspiration and a fight or flight response.
Christians Futurists are generally prepared with their “proof-texts” and are often unprepared to explain why Jesus should or would show up tonight, without any of the prerequisites of context in place, as in, for example, there is no Temple, there is no real reason why the so-called "toes" of a belated Roman Empire should be still around waiting to be crushed over five hundred-sixty years after the empire fell.
Furthermore, there is no Tribulation going on right now and there is nothing happening that even comes anywhere close to fitting the end-time scenario described and spelt out in the Bible. Nothing on this entire planet (let alone in Israel) is going on at this very moment that could lead a really critical thinker to believe Jesus would just show up out of the clear blue sky right now.
But the news is out anyway and people are talking; some are ignoring what they hear; some are hiding; some are taking sides and some are pondering the implications of it.
Challenging the Status Quo—and People's Cherished Certainties
What I would like to discuss in this short piece is the idea that the futurist Second Coming is a tacit social contract. I want to explain why it is an idea without a foundation and has no support in the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, or Jesus or any of the Apostles. Since every effort will be made to remain realistic it must be realized that any Christian leaders are going resist this news and automatically toe the line and uphold the future Second Coming. This is in keeping with the Second Coming as a notional "contract" that every true Christian must believe and sign his or her name in blood in order to be considered "orthodox" (whether it is really Scripturally or hermeneutically valid or not).
For these kinds of leaders and many of their followers, it does not make a difference what the Bible really says so long as it is agreed that certain parts of it SEEM to suggest their view. Of course, they may be open to amending this, but again, the chances are very great that they may not.
A Multifaceted Preterist View that Brings Bible Prophecy Down to Earth
We are challenging the status quo with a multi-faceted preterist view of Bible prophecy and it is a viewpoint that rejects the modern, Medieval and Roman worlds as totally inadequate to explain the intent and nuances of Old and New Testament prophecy. This is a viewpoint we've nominated "Atavist" to declare that Christianity's earliest self-understanding and apocalyptic hope can best be understood with a Jewish history time-line, Maccabean fourth kingdom, first century audience relevance, scrupulous attention to time statements, stress on the State Temple apparatus, Jerusalem's crimes and Zealot conduct betraying the good and the right. In this view we maintain a sharp distinction between Jewish salvation history and Roman Imperial history and declare that the outcome of these serious commotions puts every church-group and all Christians are in the Great Mountain period, etc, etc.
Of course, this reading of Jewish history and this reinterpretation of the New Testament in light of it can provoke a serious misgivings! An “us vs. them” dynamic can quickly and insidiously hinder efforts to relate and communicate effectively and charges and accusations (some fed by fear) assumptions, misunderstandings and sometimes even anger, or confusion can push the Second Coming of Christ to the forefront, not as a Biblical doctrine best understood in the light of its original intent and milieu, but purely as a social idea that needs to be clung to no matter what the Bible says.
Now, can we all agree that it would be a shame to fight over these matters regardless of what Jesus said? Should we fight to be right in spite of contextual considerations, without reference to genuine word studies, and regardless of the known fact that the trade of both ideas, books and money in the twentieth century alone has shown the present apocalyptic expectations to be terribly unreliable, and also a source of great embarrassment, humiliation and disappointment. What is it really? Depending on how one may look at the subject, conventional ideas about Jesus' return (whether vague or specific) are unreliable and could be seen as a big ugly black cloud hanging over the world-wide brotherhood of Christians.
Strategies for Justification
It needs to be remembered that most Christians are told Jesus will come back "soon" on average a month of Sundays every year. In an average lifetime, believers are told this thousands upon thousands of times. The constant repetition of this same misleading idea—never challenged even once—means that the first challenger to step up to the proverbial plate will have a very hard way to go. A believer in futurism who knows his Bible can easily justify his position without changing it one wit! He can do so by mounting a justification campaign that allows him to make one-liners, platitudes and use proof-texts without really having to expend the time or the energy to earnestly pray and study in order to deal with its original intent or any of the deeper and more difficult issues of early Christian expectations.
So what were those expectations? The Apostles understood the 'last days' to be in process then; that those days had to do with an age or era that was dying and on its way out; and that eschatology was going to be fulfilled very early on in Christian history. That was a time when the Jewish people had inflated hopes that some special person was going to show up and beat the Roman Empire with pure Zeal for the Law and for the Temple and the customs and the willingness to fight and beat the Romans with brutal military might.
On the other hand, the Christians had completely different expectations (Hebrews 10:37; James 5:1-9). Just one good look at 2 Peter chapters 2 and 3 in their entirety shows that the Apostle Peter and the Christians expected Christ to come back in a personal intervention to destroy the Jewish revolutionary Zealots and their lying charlatans. The theme of these two main groups of opposers of the Gospel and the kingdom of God permeate practically the entire New Testament and no attention is diverted toward any Roman or Catholic threats at all.
Sleight of Hand Strategy: Disagree With the New Testament But Do Not Accuse it of Being "Wrong" or "False"
The idea that the entire first Christian Church was wrong about an early Second Coming would likely smother the justification strategy in its cradle; however, an appeal to secondary sources and confessional proofs of Christians of later years is an excellent way to deal, point blank, with the claims of the New Testament. Just the New Testament for what it says, after all, would be like grabbing both horns of a dilemma at once! It is easy to boast about believing the Bible 'no matter what', but when it comes time to concede a cherished future Second Coming from a foggy futurity to a certain antiquity, well, that may not seem to be such an attractive proposition.
Here are some study Scriptures we believe are in order:
1 John 3:2-3
2 Peter 3:1-8
James 4:17; 2 John 9
The above Scriptures assist the justification strategy because they seem to suggest that only a yet future Second Coming provides the spiritual power to make a Christian clean. In other words, without the Second Coming to look forward to, there is no purity, or, anybody who believes it already happened is certainly unholy. We have to gently remind people that the truth has to be true and books that declare Third Temple will be built and Russia will do this and Islam will do that—and then nothing happens, what then? These old wives tales are really just a bunch of baseless rumors that alarm and excite people to heightened expectations and, ultimately, ends in cruel disappointment, embarrassment and apathy.
If the Apostle John or any of the Apostles were in the same kind of business of trying to scare the citizens of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, we owe neither them nor their writings any respect; they are not holy people if their epistles came from their own hearts; they are not men of God if they pretended something was going to be soon that was not going to happen anywhere near anyone's lifetime. Those are the facts. Something had to happen or all bets are off!
Now, 2 Peter 3:1-8 tells the untrained student that the last days are here now and anyone who denies that Jesus is yet to come back fits the description of the scoffers to a “T.” Scoffers, of course, also denied the world-wide flood and the very fact that there are so-called Christians who deny Jesus is yet to come only proves that we are in the last days—and Jesus is coming not only soon, but real soon! Really? But without a contextual examination of 2 Peter 3 and Peter's overall message in both his epistles, this kind of idea would be what they call "truth by proclamation."
Some hardcore believers believe the good must be done and fellowship with anyone who is making these claims is against the commands of the Bible. Deep-seated assumptions make certain ones inadvertently believe they can't afford to give anyone the benefit of the doubt; consequently, they refuse to fellowship with those who they deem have departed from the doctrine of Christ. Since the creeds affirm it and nearly all Christians believe Jesus is yet to fulfill his Second Coming promises, this small minority of miscreants must not be right and must be avoided at all costs! But this must be seen as a smoke-screen for willing or willful ignorance and self-deception. A keen and wise intellect must pierce it like the balloon that it is. Why is it a balloon? It is a balloon because it has no substance, no weight. It has no weight in light of what the New Testament everywhere advocates for itself and about itself.
It is the New Testament that says the Second Coming was going to be soon! It is the New Testament that treats a soon-Second Coming like a "doctrine of Christ"(here). It is self-deception for a Premillennialist or an Amillennialist or a Postmillennialist, or Historicists to seriously think 2 Peter 3:4 has Jewish men denying the Four Views—nothing could be any further from the truth! What the Apostles taught about the Second Coming is easily accessible to anyone who wants to know what that is; they do not have to have any book but the Bible. They do not have to have higher education or be exceptionally bright either.
All they need to do is compare what Christ said about his Second Coming (Matthew 10:23; Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24 and 25; Luke 23:27-31 and John 21:20-23) with what the Apostles said about Christ's Second Coming (Acts 2:16-20; 3:19-24; 13:40-41; 17:30-31; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 7:26, 29-31; 1Thessalonians 5:1-4 and 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 10:25 and 37; James 5:1-9; 1 Peter 4:17 and 5:1; 2 Peter 2:1 and 2 and 3:11-14; 1 John 2:17-19; Jude 4-14; Revelation 1:3, 7; 2:24-25; 3:10-11; 16:15-19 and 22:10, 20.
And, since both the testimony of Jesus and the testimony of the Apostles agree that the 'doctrine of Christ (in respect to the Second Coming of Christ)' is an expected event within the parameters of Second Commonwealth history and the lifetime of the people who lived in Jesus' day and Jewish history confirms that everything came true—the soldiers appeared in the clouds, wonders were seen in the heavens above and signs were seen on the earth beneath, the saints departed from the Holy House, the revolutionaries elected their ten rulers, Judaea was divided into seven regions, Jerusalem was bombarded with one hundred pound stones and then burnt to cinders, the Christians were the only Jewish group that truly benefited from the catastrophe—these facts really mean something quite astounding and tremendous: that all teachings that contravene these New Testament hopes are departures from the ACTUAL doctrine of Christ and true Christians should not let such in their home nor eat with them. The only escape from these conclusions is to lean and depend on Church legislation and creeds as a means of authority to detour around the New Testament as the supreme and ultimate guide for Christian belief. We can believe the New Testament or we can go along with the creeds. People have a choice.
Finally, depending on the relationship, it is always possible to dissuade this belief, if not immediately, then over time. Now, the logic of Futurist convictions is something to behold:
(1) Jesus said he would but did not do it; follow Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life—BUT DO NOT BELIEVE FOR A MINUTE THAT ANYTHING THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT REPEATS REALLY WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN A LONG TIME AGO!
(2) Jesus did not say, specifically, that he would do it then, and he did not do it; he only intended the Church of all generations to “be ye also ready.”
(3) We know for sure that the organized Church has never confessed that the Lord did any such thing and so, of course, he did not do anything of the kind.
(4) If he did do it, what has changed? If he had done it we would not be here, therefore he did not do it! And finally,
(5)The world is an awful place. Jesus' Second Coming was to turn this place into a Utopian Paradise, so no, he did not do what YOU say he said he would do.
This series of reasonings, as you can plainly see, never directly engages any of the written promises in the New Testament, nor does it ask for any historical verification that would provide circumstantial evidence to suggest that Jesus was faithful to his promises. In the end it leaves Christians and their churches dangling by a thread in hopes of something that should have happened years and years ago!
A Cacophony of Conflicting and Embarrassing Excuses
The above reasoning and musings are representative of what can be found in one congregation alone. It is not unheard of to approach a minister and have him flat out to announce that he already knows Jesus said he would come back in the lifetime of the first Christians; "So what?" He can then turn around and say, "Eschatology is a very complex subject and why bother with its details? Why upset the applecart? Why rock the boat? Why make trouble for us when you can get involved with Church ministry and help us with things that make a practical difference in people's lives? He can say things like, "As far as we know those prophecies let everybody down, but that doesn't have to mean Jesus is a false prophet or anything like that." The idea here is to shame and make people shut up and behave; "Just get with the program and quit asking questions that point to alarming possibilities."
He Never Said He Would
Another strategy designed to avoid the New Testament Second Coming is to face the facts head on and deflect and prevaricate (knowingly or unknowingly). This can easily be done by simply stating: Jesus said, "No man knows the day or the hour" (Matthew 24:36); therefore, it is impossible that he would have known he was coming back in anyone's lifetime in antiquity! Jesus statement is used as an entreaty to convince the gullible that Jesus' Incarnational ignorance of the time of the Second Coming is an all-time reality—during the Incarnation and ever-afterwards. It is to say that God has been out of communication with his Son and the Holy Spirit for the past two thousand years!
It is surprising how many Christians fall for this clever trick! However, ignored is the fact that, sometime, long after A.D.33, on a Sunday, sometime in the years or months before the onset of the Eve of the Destruction of Jerusalem, God the Father told Jesus his revelation would be "soon" and "shortly" and "at hand" in Revelation 1:1, 3 and 7!
But, of course, if the future Second Coming is to survive, Revelation 1:1, 3 and 7 must also be knocked down. How to do it? Ignore it! Or, throw in a decoy and claim that the Book of Revelation was written 25 years after the Destruction of Jerusalem (after all, Bishop Polycarp said so!). Are we obliged to take the bishop's word for it?
Are we evildoers if we demand proof from internal evidence and any historical corroboration? Some think we are! But if we take the Bishop's word for it, then nothing happened soon after the Book of Revelation (unless it was the disastrous Bar Kokhba Revolt—an interesting alternative, indeed, IF it could be proven Revelation really was written after A.D.70, but we think not!). But nobody hardly knows who Bar Kokhba is or what he did. So how could a big second-century event matter when the Second Coming is about us not being here?
The way around the relevant milieu is to assert that all the Scriptures where he says the Second Coming would be soon are in light of the Church "as a whole", not any one generation. See? The Seven Churches of Revelation are seven church ages. The final plea is not to pay any serious attention to the New Testament but instead insist on the mantra: "Jesus could come this year, he could come within a thousand years, or it could be later, who knows!?" Sadly, we often get this advice: If I where you, I would not read the Scriptures about the Second Coming and put too fine a point on it; wait on the Lord; when you least expect it, he'll be back.
More Rationalizations: The Church Never Said He Did It Already
As far back as the 90's of the first century, we know Christians looked forward (not backward) to the Second Coming. This is clear in the writings of St. Clement of Rome. And so, whoever that Person is who gave you the idea that Jesus was going to appear in the clouds of heaven immediately after the Destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:29; Revelation 16:15)—well, I'd be careful of it! While it is certainly true that the Apostle Paul said some embarrassing things to the Romans(Romans 13:11-12) to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7:29; 15:51-52) and Jesus said some regrettable things to Christians in Asia Minor (Revelation 2:24-25; 3:1-3; 3:10-11) it only appears that he is talking to specific churches about specific events. In reality, he is talking to the whole church down through the ages. Don't forget to remember that Revelation was written 25 years after Jerusalem fell. And besides, if the Second Coming happened, why wasn't it reported?
We Would Not Still Be Here
The idea that we would not still be here is surmised by misconstruing what Paul said to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. From this, and a handful of other passages, it is believed that the Lord must come back and 'Rapture' all Christians off this planet in the blink of an eye. It does not occur to people that an event that could happen in the twinkling of an eye (as the Bible puts it) could not be witnessed by anyone even if it happened just yesterday—let alone in the confusion of a Jewish civil war! That is the time and those are the circumstances we believe something happened that was definitely promised. Something happened, but not all the related texts support the idea of a total evacuation of Christians off the face of the earth.
In fact, a look at Revelation 12:1-14 shows that the Church (the crowned woman) was given a place of safety in the wilderness (not heaven). And she is not an "evil" church that did not get to go to heaven because the Scriptures speak of her in glowing terms-Revelation 12:1. Yet her "son" was caught up to the throne of God. Who is this son? It appears that this son was not a single person but a group of people--perhaps the one and forty-four thousand Christians from the Twelve Tribes of Israel. At any rate, unlike this son this holy church that does not get caught up to heaven but what is more she even had other seed who were neither with her son in heaven, nor with her in the wilderness (Revelation 12:17).
And so, the Scriptures do not teach a total Rapture of Christians at any time. So the question, "If Jesus came back in the A.D.66-70 war, why are we still here?" Has no real force because it is based on deep and fundamental misconceptions and fabrications. People ask, "Didn't he promise to take us to a prepared place?" No, God promised the Apostles he would prepare a place for them. His return was to be to them in their lifetime or shortly after some were martyred. This is not to say that we have no eternal home to expect; it is to say that they were the first to enter it and we must wait till our earthly time is up to join them there.
Some ask, "Didn't he promise to take us in the clouds to “ever be with the Lord." Why are we here still? After his return, the world as we know it will not exist. These statements are errors that would be gradually dissolved after much Bible reading, prayer and reflection; there is no magic pill to take to clear everything up overnight! Just concentrating on Luke 21:24 would tell a Christian that the world as we know it would have to exist if any surviving Jews would be "carried away captive into all nations." Simply put, it would be impossible for slavery of the Jews to happen if the world as we know it was to vanish after the events of Luke 21. Now, the Bible defines itself and it is a living book that will teach you what you need to know if it is in your heart to spend time with it in front of God; otherwise not. Nobody can force feed you; you have to want the truth for yourself.
Having said all this, it needs to be realized, first of all, that questions of this nature must of necessity involve a lot of time; you cannot discuss topics like this standing in a foyer for five or ten minutes with people walking by and greeting and shaking hands and hugging and expect to really resolve anything. If someone is really serious they, first of all, need to have a Bible a pen and a notebook and be ready to sit down, pray, be prepared to talk, but also be prepared to listen. Deep and patient study in the Bible and in relevant historical sources is also a must. But, threats and imprecations and power games need to be shunned and avoided at all costs! A spirit of sincere and devoted inquiry and research needs to prevail. Nothing is going to be learned or perceived by skewed presuppositions and snap-judgments; a lot will be learned by prayer, study and patient review and reflection. Therefore, under God's guidance, by his Holy Spirit, not by anyone's pushiness or human imperatives, misconceptions about what the new heaven and new earth are, and the meaning of the expression "no more seas" and the cessation of sorrow, suffering and pain will come to light. The conventional belief that "Obviously God has decided to wait; this is his prerogative" is categorically false when the New Testament directly attests that he decided not to wait (Hebrews 10:37 cf. Revelation 22:7, 10, 12, 20).
It is wrong and sinful to tell people "For God two thousand years is just a drop in the bucket. We need to wait on the Lord. He probably is coming soon—in fact, he definitely is!" That is certainly not true because Daniel 12:9 and Revelation 22:10 let us know that anything greater than six centuries away would not be considered "soon" by God's own standards. And so, if God did not consider prophecies "soon" six hundred years before Christ, why would he turn around and tell the Apostles and the first Christians something was "soon" two thousand or more years before they happened in the first century? What kind of sense does that really make? People may not at first like or agree with what we are saying, but at least they will hopefully understand where we are coming from.
"The World is a Bad Place"
Jesus promises to make all things new. He has not done that yet. Yes, we are made new creatures when we are in Christ and yes we go to a heavenly city when we die, but the planet has to be redeemed. All the creation is groaning and travailing in pain waiting for the Welcome Day. At that time, all the saints in heaven will be brought back to earth, put back in their bodies and resurrected. After that, they will be judged and time as we know it will end.
This litany of excuses we too often hear, but they do not even scratch the surface of the many issues involved in a genuine discussion of what the Bible says. There is so much more than first meets the eye on just this one Biblical topic from a late Second Commonwealth standpoint! But, the conventional belief in a future Second Coming is not so much driven by what the Bible says as it is assured by the continual recitation of the Nicene Creed and fanned into a bright burning flame by continuing daily news and the crisis and fears generated by world events and atrocities. These sources of fuel for futurism, if set aside, would almost immediately weaken and then destroy futurism and cause Christians to shift their focus back to what inspiration said about the end of the world in the framework of events happening in the Bible days of the Second Temple, and Jewish efforts to obtain the promised kingdom of God through the force of arms and occult means.
So where do we go from here? I believe we need to make inquiries to deeply penetrate long-held assumptions and ask questions that are designed to bring this subject back down to earth; below are some of that immediately come to mind.
When Was Revelation Written?
As you know, most scholars date the Book of Revelation from the time of Domitian's reign. According to these authorities that were either the early or mid-90s of the first century. Notice that it was given twenty-five years after the fact of the Destruction of Jerusalem? Now, even though this claim is made, it does not necessarily stand if the evidence against it is brought to bear. In other words, if we let the late date claim go unchallenged, we who claim Jesus came back in the first century can automatically be dismissed as liars and deceivers. We can be accused of saying these things to make money or just trying to get attention or be different, or, maybe we're trying to appease skeptics—who knows?
The chart below visualizes one of the main ideas connecting the different chapters in Revelation: the Great City. The first three chapters of the book are obviously addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor. The next two chapters deal with events and determinations happening in heaven, and then Revelation chapter 6 launches into an orchestration of events that carry on all the way to Revelation chapter 19. But from chapter 6, and then from chapters 11-19 we recognize the Great City to be (not Rome) but Jerusalem. In 6:12-17 we recognized the fulfillment of Jesus' words to the daughters of Jerusalem and their children (Luke 23:27-31). It is not, then, unjustified to think Revelation 6:12-17 was happening in the lifetime of people who saw Jesus carry his cross to Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.
Christians who understand the sense and nuances of New Testament prophecy claims should not underestimate the power of skilful argument in pinning down the identity of the Great City in the Book of Revelation. There is no need to be rude or obnoxious when insisting that judgmental people face the facts and admit that the Romans and the Roman Catholic Church are not being accused by Moses, Elijah or Jesus or the Apostles of anything at all - Matthew 23:29-39; Luke 9:28-31; Luke 23:27-31; Revelation 6:12-16; 11:8; 18:20, 24. All this talk about Romans and Roman Catholics and Popes are pure fabrications and a total waste of time, energy and paper! It is also much more: false accusations (i.e., bearing false witness); something Christians should be chary and steer clear of. It is not our job to force Christians to believe the New Testament and stop scaring the world with scare tactics; it is our vocation to speak to truth in meekness and love and we must be ever aware that all Christians will be judged by the New Testament and transgressions and intransigence against what the Holy Spirit revealed will surely be condemned by a righteous and holy God. After we have told them the truth it is up to them to do what they want with it; however, they cannot stand up there and tell God they never heard of it and were never told.
Not Allowed to Question the "Contract"
The tacit social contract of a yet future Second Coming is a fragile agreement; it cannot stand any amount of pressure nor can it stick to specifics: time statements, audience relevance, the Jewish social context of the New Testament, declarations, promises and vows—vows made by John the Baptist, vows made by Jesus, what was attested by the Apostles and what was advocated by the holy Scribes. It cannot deal with the archaeological facts seen in the present ruins of the Second Temple and the civilization of the Second Jewish Commonwealth, nor can it account for the fact that the Christian world is ballooning to an incredible size without any real rivalry from Jewish sectarianism that it had to compete with until the time of Simon Bar Kokhba. On each and every point that supposedly holds this shaky futurist agreement together, what has happened already has to be disregarded and bested with the lame idea that Christ did not even bother to fulfill them (or worse) perhaps he never even said what the New Testament alleges he said! Perhaps (some say) redactors and interpolators put words in Christ's mouth? Whatever the case, the Church Fathers never knew of a past fulfillment; therefore a past Second Coming cannot be endorsed.
Because of confusion about the dating of Revelation, and because the city of the central focus of Revelation is designated to be something it obviously is not, this subject needs urgent attention. It needs to seriously re-addressed in light of a legitimate Biblical perspective. This can only happen when people are willing to connect discuss these things without fear of reprisals.
Delving into Eschatology is a "No-No"
Since the overall sense of what is going on is that it is believed that Christians are sinning badly if they confess that Jesus came back when it is known that the entire first century Church believed he would—in their lifetime—the disbelief, suspicion and hubris of the conventional Church is made all the more ironic and obvious. In the mid to late 20th century alone, the Second Coming as a concept, a hope, and an aspiration was egregiously and shamelessly used as a carrot—bait, an instrument of fear and a way to make obscene amounts of money from unsuspecting people without any regard to damage to God's reputation among those who already despise him as a make-believe Being. Nor were the authors and perpetrators of those fables in the least bit worried that the claims of their false teachings delivered not one iota of its promises! When the roof fell in and the bottom dropped out that simply wrote new books!
And now, these same authors and experts (and some of their champions) have the audacity to be offended when anyone wants to look more closely at the how's, the why's and the wherefore's of the early expectation of Christ's Visitation! You can say almost anything you want about the Second Coming as a future possibility, but it is an implicit (and sometimes explicit) no-no to seriously entertain for a moment a Second Coming as it was originally conceived in the framework and shadow of the late Second Temple period.
So the bottom line is this: with an awareness of the problems at issue, we are seeking to understand root causes and forgotten premises at a level far deeper than the superficial skimming of the surface and haggling over secondary considerations, presumptions and straw man arguments. With focus and dedication, a wealth of information, like, for example, time statements, audience relevance, historical and cultural contexts and so on—a Christian can arrive at a surprising set of conclusions. However, if this endeavour becomes known his or her social standing, usefulness and reputation as a Christian and as a believer, in a conventional church environment, is (in all probability) in peril and endangered.
In the final analysis, it must be understood by interested persons that the futurist Second Coming is a social contract that is valid whether or not it strictly reflects what the Bible says or forever disappoints; its validity is dependent on neither.
Recommended reading. . .
A History of the Jewish People
Edited by Professor Hayim Hillel Ben-Sasson
A History of the Jewish People presents a total vision of Jewish experiences and achievements--religious, political, social, and economic--in both the land of Israel and the diaspora throughout the ages. It has been acclaimed as the most comprehensive and penetrating work yet to have appeared in its field.
Six distinguished scholars at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, have set forth here for the first time the authentic story of the Jewish past that is relevant to the Jewish present. Special attention is paid to the significant historical sources that have come to light in the past decades, to the findings of archaeological research, and to source materials in Jewish studies such as Talmudic literature--sources that have too often been ignored by historians.
N.B. I strongly encourage all Christians who believe in my leadership to obtain these recommended reading materials; they are not expensive; often the postage costs more than the book itself! You need them so you can be grounded in the truth of the history that supports the narrative of the New Testament; you need them in order to combat Christian myths about the Roman Empire and prophecy fables that destroy our understanding of Bible truth and the spectacular history of Christianity. You need to be able to distinguish between educated guesses and the consensus of Jewish history written by men and women reporting the facts with little emotional bias or agenda. These books are where I found the obscure secrets of what Christians used to believe and say; unfortunately, I could not find these facts in Christian books. May God bless you in your efforts to serve Christ and speak of his wonderful works of righteousness and judgment with honesty, integrity and boldness.