Monday, August 18, 2008

To the One Who Overcomes

My brethren have pointed out, and I think rightly, that God’s tarrying in the fulfillment of his promises does not, generally speaking, indicate any slowness on his part, regardless of how long the delay may seem to man. I believe that II Peter 3:1-9 makes this particular conclusion of theirs inescapable.These friends go further than I am yet willing, however, and add that even when Jesus specifically tells the churches in Asia that the things he is revealing to them “must soon take place” and that “the time is near,” all he really means to say is that the fulfillment will be soon from his own perspective, not necessarily from theirs, though these churches, and every person born until the end of history, should nevertheless act like the things could possibly be fulfilled at any time.

As I’ve indicated, I do not yet find their explanation of Christ’s words here convincing, but I certainly haven’t budged them with mine. So perhaps, the best thing to do is to move on to my next point.Rather than lay all my cards out on the table right away, however, I think I’ll begin with a question, one I’ve discussed here a few times in the past. My noble adversaries will know right away where I’m going with it, but I’ll see if I can bait them therewith nonetheless. Here it is:

According to Revelation 20:4-6, the first resurrection, in which the saints will be raised to reign with Christ-- will that resurrection include anyone other than those saints who are martyred in the Great Tribulation?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Things that Must Soon Take Place

Probably most ignored in the book of Revelation are the words that appear at the very beginning and at the very end of the prophecy:

The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place…Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 1:1-3

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. 22:6

As I have pointed out before, the book of Revelation was written to seven churches that were in Asia at the time the prophecy was revealed. Jesus told those churches, the very churches that were in Asia at that very time, that the things he was revealing to them had to happen soon. He assured those same churches that the time was near.

Imagine someone in one of those churches at the time who, after reading these words, would have been so bold as to say that the things prophesied in the book were going to happen much later or saying that the time of their fulfillment was far off. Wouldn't such a person have been directly contradicting the words of Christ? Yet, somehow, the majority of today's evangelicals would say that such a person would have been correct.

It really is as simple as this: Jesus said that the prophecies were soon to come to pass; most of us say that they were not. How can this be?