Articles time-warp

Published on February 18th, 2011 | by Dr. Joel McDurmon

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The Time Is Short

After a substantial private discussion with His disciples emphasizing how committed and ready they must be for the coming division, Jesus finally turns back with a message for the larger audience (Luke 12:54). Remember, back in Luke 12:1, this is a massive crowd: they had grown so large they began to trample each other. This is just the type of mob that politicians pump up with great swelling promises of good times to come. Not Jesus. So far He had not said anything too radical, but He was about to start getting really personal.

Forecasting Hypocrites

To this thronging crowd, Jesus delivered a startlingly frank criticism: “hypocrites!” But this judgment came upon good evidence, on at least two counts.

First, they could not discern the time (v. 56). Consider the setting. Here was a vast multitude pressing and gawking at Jesus. What will he say next? We’ve heard rumors of healings. I want to see one! Do a sign! Do a sign! Shhh! You’re going to make Him mad! Is this the Messiah? Surely not a Galilean. A prophet? Maybe. What will he say?

This unruly mess revealed a terrible lack of faith and discernment. Jesus exposed this with a parable:

When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, “A shower is coming.” And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat,” and it happens (Luke 12:54–5).

Based on this common and accurate power of discernment found among each of these people, Jesus goes on to pronounce them hypocrites. Why? Because, “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (v. 56).

The language here is particularly fitting as a rebuke of Hebrew people. The phrase “earth and sky” has a peculiar resemblance to the first verse of Scripture: “God created the heavens and the earth.” These hypocrites new all about God’s creation, but were clueless as to the Creator. Not only were they judging the heavens and the earth, they themselves were under observation, and the time had come. They had forgotten this

Oh ye that be so skilled in discerning what shall come by observing the horizons, why have ye not yet discerned the greatest storm yet to come? It’s on the horizon now. Know ye not the time?

The Time

The phrase “the present time” is an obvious eschatological/prophetic reference. To what particular “time” did Jesus refer? And what was so special about it?

Note first, that Jesus specifically refers to this time—that is, His and His audience’s time—not some time of judgment in the future. Whatever He’s talking about, it refers to the people he was talking to.

Second, this “time” is compared to a discernable event. Whatever they should have been aware of, it was as clear as storm clouds gathering in the west. When people see something like that, they react—take action—accordingly.

Third, this “time” was imminent. When weather changes are visible on the proper horizon, it means something is going to happen soon. Jesus is not speaking of something with the likelihood of a 1000-year storm. This “time” requires His audience to act now.

Fourth, this “time” was inevitable. It was, in fact, already there, for it was this time as opposed to that or another as we already noted. But also, signs in the weather are discerned to bring predictable changes, rain or heat: the sign is discerned, Jesus says, and “so it happens” (vv. 54, 55). The forecast comes to pass. So this “time” Jesus speaks of was something from which these hypocrites would have no choice but to face.

We have some indication of what Jesus meant in a later use of the word “time” as a technical indicator. This comes during the triumphal entry celebrated on so-called Palm Sunday. When the people begin to worship Jesus as the liberator and savior, the Pharisees demand Jesus rebuke them. He declined. During that entry to Jerusalem, Jesus wept over the city and forecast her doom:

Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 19:42–44; emphasis mine).

Notice that Jesus says a dreadful destruction and desolation was coming upon Jerusalem because of its faithless ignorance of “this day” and “the time.” This “time” shares all the same elements here as it does in the weather forecasting parable: contemporaneousness, imminence, inevitability. And Jesus says that this time is specifically “the time of your visitation.”

“Visitation” may connote friendliness and care to the modern ear, but biblically it refers almost universally to judgment. The judgment may turn out either favorably or not, but the idea is one of God inspecting His people and pronouncing a judgment based on His findings. The Greek word is from episkope, from which we get our word “episcopal”; it means “overseer.” The idea is that God, the overseer of His covenant people, will come to inspect and judge those people.

This understanding appears many places in Scripture. For example, when the leaders of Israel caused the people to sin (Isa. 9:8–21), God promised judgment upon them. The warning was in this form: “what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?” (Isa. 10:3 KJV). (The ESV and NAS improperly translate the Hebrew pequddah here as “punishment” instead of “visitation.”) Jeremiah likewise ridicules idols: “They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment [visitation] they shall perish (Jer. 10:15). Jeremiah is particularly keen on the use of this the visitation idea (8:12; 10:15; 11:23; 23:12; 46:21; 48:44; 50:27;  51:18). (See also Hos. 9:7; Mic. 7:4.)

This understanding of the word also finds historical expression very close to Jesus’ times. The Jewish apocryphal literature which was written around the second century BC includes very clear usages of this phrase: Sirach 18:20 says, “Examine yourself before judgement comes, and on the day of visitation you will be acquitted” (NJB), and The Book of Wisdom sees the righteous passing with flying colors: “At their time of visitation, they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they. They will judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever. (Wis. 3:7–8).” Of course, these are not inspired texts and should not be considered as authoritative guides to interpretation. Nevertheless, they give us examples of how Jews relatively contemporary to Jesus used particular words and ideas in theological context.

Returning to Scripture, a very revealing reference is found in the renewing of the covenant in Deuteronomy. During the rehearsal of Israel’s history at the time and God’s law, Moses specifically refers to the land of Israel as, “a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year” (Deut 11:12). The Greek Septuagint has a verb form of episkope for “cares for,” which is faithful to the Hebrew word for frequenting or visiting a place. The idea is that God keeps constant oversight of His people.

This idea of being constantly before God’s face was represented in the tabernacle and temple in the twelve loaves of “shewbread” (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:5–9; 2 Chron. 2:4). The Hebrew phrase is literally “bread of faces.” It was to be set in the tabernacle, God ordered, “before me [lit. “my face”] regularly” (Ex. 25:30). The Hebrew literally reads, “And you shall put upon the table bread of faces before my face continually.” Thus God would continually inspect the twelve symbolically.

In Deuteronomy 11, the “oversee . . . continually” passage is followed by typical promises of blessing if those overseen tribes obey, and threats of judgment should they rebel. It seems that visitation/oversight brings with it serious consequences in the event of apostasy.

Remember, this long travelling narrative of Jesus’ lawsuit against Israel, begins with Him setting his face toward Jerusalem. He has that representative city before His face always during this whole trip. He is incarnating that temple presence, that Deuteronomy 11 covenant promise. The passage concerning the triumphal entry is the culmination of God’s incarnate visitation upon that city. His face, His presence, has literally come to inspect those twelve tribes.

And the city is so faithless, rebellious, and stubborn she cannot, will not even realize the time of her visitation. It should have been as clear to them as the weather changing on the western sky, and indeed with Jesus’ miracles and teaching it was clear. But the people continued to waffle, and the leaders demanded signs, etc. So, judgment was coming to these hypocrites.

Judgment it Shall Be

The primary issue of the “time,” therefore, was a coming judgment. This develops into the second count of the people’s hypocrisy: lack of individual judgment. The lack here would result in judgment from God. This is seen in the next parable Jesus teaches, which follows directly upon the forecasting parable:

And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny (Luke 12:57–59).

It may have been news to these people that they even had an accuser. Perhaps they had never been in the position of being sued before a judge. But Jesus has sure gotten their attention calling them hypocrites, and now criminally delinquent debtors. He informs them they are in a serious legal strait. (This is God’s covenant lawsuit, remember?) It is their duty to settle out of court before the offended party (who also happens to be the judge, and the officer) takes you before the judge and the officer.

The meaning for these Jewish debtors is simple. They had not lived up to their end of the covenant with God. They had taken advantage of His blessings and mercies. They had racked up huge piles of debt, and now the bills had come due. Of course, all it would have taken to pay in full would have been to repent and believe in Him; they could easily have settled in the way. And indeed, there was still time. But the time was coming, soon, when these people would be called to account. If they had not settled out of court beforehand while they had the chance, they would face the full sanctions of a court trial, and the legal remedy would fall against them. They would be punished, and punished to the last penny of the eternal debt they owed.

God’s Agents Foreshadowed

The people then immediately prove that they have eyes but see not, and ears but hear not. They do this by pretending they have indeed discerned the times: “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices” (Luke 13:1). These people were up on current events. They knew the times! They knew that the evil Roman Empire was murdering innocent Jews—and defiling their religious rituals, too! Surely, to have deserved something so terrible, these hapless Galileans were the debtors Christ was talking about.

Jesus responded by leveling their playing field:

And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (13:2–5).

Now we have reached one of the most interesting passages in the entire travelling narrative which began in Luke 9:51. Here we do not have a parable providing the substance of the lesson, but rather actual historical events.

Too many commentaries and preachers miss the point of Luke 13:1–5. They too often see this as Jesus’ unique response to the problem of evil (why do bad things happen to innocent people?). Is this Jesus’ theodicy? “Forget about the events, repentance is all that matters.” Is this the main point?

I admit, I saw the verse this way for many years until something finally clicked. In fact, it was this passage that inspired me to begin the exegetical project. Once I realized the eschatological meaning here, the whole section and all the parables immediately begged for preterist analysis. Considering the context in which this passage appears, its inclusion here does not have much at all to do with theodicy or the problem of evil. It has everything to do with Jesus’ lawsuit against Jerusalem.

Were Pilate’s Galilean victims worse sinners to deserve such a fate? Pointless question, except as rhetorical (the way Jesus used it). Hypocrites! You can’t discern the time—the time of your visitation. You are all idolatrous, rebellious, faithless sinners. The time is now for repentance. If you don’t repent (soon), you’re all going to perish likewise.

The “likewise” here I believe should be taken very strongly—almost literally. Even if not, the interpretation is strong anyway. It’s almost as if Jesus is saying “just like them—in the same way” you will perish. These people had no idea what they were setting themselves up for in bringing up Pilate and his ritual-defying murder. These very unbelieving Jews would indeed perish like those Galileans—having their blood spilled by agents of Rome, having their temple rituals defiled. While I don’t think Jesus by any means meant this as a specific revelation that Rome would be the factor in the coming judgment, it is certainly providentially foreshadowed—and I am almost certain that His audience would have assumed as much, had they expected destruction at the hands of a foreign enemy (as in times past).

The second half of Jesus’ teaching here refers to another disaster, this time the falling of the tower of Siloam which killed eighteen people. There is no historical record of this except here, but that’s irrelevant to the point. There are two additional foreshadowings in Jesus’ addition of this to the account of Pilate: 1) it would be an act of God, and 2) it would involve the toppling of buildings in Jerusalem.

First, it would be an act of God. The first story involved an evil human agent—Pilate. But no one is mentioned in connection with the Siloam tower tragedy. It was not attacked or knocked down—it fell down. This was God’s hand. And while Pilate (Rome) would be involved in the coming judgment, it would ultimately be an act of God destroying those who did not repent.

Second, the judgment would involve the toppling of stones from upon stones in Jerusalem. Jesus will say this later in a now-famous passage concerning the temple: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). Here this was only typified by God toppling the tower of Siloam.

The overall message, then, is clear. It was reckoning time for Jerusalem the Great Whore, mystery Babylon. She’s coming down. And many seemingly innocent people are about to be suddenly and violently destroyed in the visitation. Rome, by God’s hand, will slaughter the Jews and topple the city. Jesus’ audience thinks that such things happen only in rare and odd circumstances, and probably to people who deserve it for secret sins. But in fact, they all deserve it themselves, and they would all get it soon.

Jesus’ audience could not have been expected to detect all of these foreshadowed details, but the general message was clear. Time was short for repentance, else there would be a violent perishing.

Indeed, therefore, this passage has everything to do with Jesus’ prosecution against Israel, and it is a very accurate and graphic depiction of all that would take place.

The Parable of the Fruitless Fig Tree

The eschatological nature of the preceding passage comes clear, as I said, due to its context. The overall context, of course, is the whole journey toward Jerusalem. But the immediate context is even more explicit. The parables about the forecast are obvious; they pertain to discerning the time. Now we come to the other bracket-end of that context: the parable of a fig tree that is given multiple chances to bear fruit, before at last it is threatened with being uprooted. It reads,

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6–9).

This is clearly a reference to Jerusalem which had heretofore brought forth no fruit for God. As far as the kingdom of God, she was barren. Instead of bearing godly fruit, she had filled herself with all kinds of delicacies through fornication with the kingdom of earth (Rev. 17–18).

The vineyard owner had enough. He wanted the worthless weed cut down. His case rested on two arguments: It has not borne fruit for three years, and the ground is too valuable to risk on a non-producing tree.

This is almost persuasive enough to act immediately. Yes, the ground—the land—is too valuable to commit to essentially dead wood. This is a bad investment. Israel had been a bad investment indeed. God had given her position, wealth, knowledge, revelation. But she had refused to expand to the nations the way she was supposed to, and instead was sapping nutrients from the rest of the world to sate her lusts. Given a final test case, this would indeed be part of the final reason for Israel’s removal from the land.

But, in the parable, the tree had only gone fruitless for three years. While this seems like a consistent enough failure to earn condemnation, it is nevertheless normal for saplings to grow their first three years before bearing fruit. So we should give it one more season.

And for this last year it would get special attention. The vinedresser would be sure to till the soil and fertilize it. And what was Jesus’ presence among His people but that last great work? It was God preparing good soil and fertilizing it with the Word. But at last, so much of that soil is rocky, shallow and thorn-filled (Luke 8:4–15). But this is the last chance. If that tree bears fruit after Jesus’ efforts, then well and good, but if not, you can cut it down—you can raze the city to the ground.

Conclusion

This entire section from Luke 12:54 to 13:9 has one theme: “the time is short.” And put in Jesus’ immediate situation, that theme was specific to His audience: “the time is short for you.” Notice that for the whole section, Jesus is speaking to the people of that vast multitude. These warnings of “the time,” of the foreclosing judge, of the violent tragedy coming, of this being the last chance—all of them were directed at and meant for Jesus’ immediate audience. For them, indeed, the time was short, and none would escape the great decision.

In just a few verses further, we will see Jesus saying that as none would escape the decision, few would escape the judgment. These very people Jesus said would perish if they did not repent, He will now inform that they will indeed not repent. The tree will be removed; and who shall fill that empty plot of garden?

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About the Author

Dr. Joel McDurmon

Joel McDurmon, Ph.D. in Theology from Pretoria University, is the Director of Research for American Vision. He has authored seven books and also serves as a lecturer and regular contributor to the American Vision website. He joined American Vision's staff in the June of 2008. Joel and his wife and four sons live in Dallas, Georgia.



14 Responses to The Time Is Short

  1. Good stuff Joel…. Can you compile all of this into a short book or something. This way I can give it out to people in my church who have questions about eschatology? That would be great! Let me know if you can if it’s not too burdensome. I would just print them out at my job but you I can’t be doing that on my company’s dollar you know…LOL… But I will pay for it.

    Grace and Peace,
    seal

    • Joel McDurmon Joel McDurmon says:

      A book will be ready in time for the conference.

      • Aw man…. My wife is Due May 25th and the conference is right by that. There’s no way she will let me come up there while I’m suppose to be out for the Baby…LOL…. Maybe I can come if I bring my kids….LOL…

  2. Bill Trip says:

    Dear Ed, why not make one powerful point and move on. There is no way most people including myself will read a novel length comment. Start your own blog and post a link with your one powerful comment.
    I don’t care if you have 1,000 verses backing up your point of view. Trust me, no one is reading your book length comments with the exception of Gary or Joel and I am sure even they grow weary of your 1,000 page diatribe.

    • E Harris says:

      Thanks, Bill! I was just thinking the same thing. I mistook the freedom to do replies, for a freedom to do a free-for-all type of dialogue. Which it is not. This is obviously a place for a more respectful and brief dialogue than what I’ve done. (I don’t see that many people posting to this website, anyway. So I figured what is the harm in driving myself crazy, right?)

      I have learned a lot on this page, nonetheless – both by reading and writing. No doubt, Gary and Joel are probably very thankful that you said what was on everyone’s mind!

      There is only one thing that I was (impatiently) trying to bring to the discussion, and that was a variety of ideas. This is needed. Everyone has their own outlet, their own website…their own church building… but (especially in eschatological circles) there are very few forums that have multiple viewpoints. I would say that we do need to strive for better unity, and I guess I should begin by being more brief.

      I am someone who is still very associated with the belief-background that is regularly misunderstood and caricatured on this website, almost ad neuseum… I am one of the “revivalists” (just not old school). I hang with futurists, and they aren’t that dumb. I see great value in the intelligence and actions of futurists: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are among them (or at least closely tied to them). There has got to be a way to find a higher unity, than the fractured presentation that we now give the world.

      In Christ, we ARE one. I just wish that more of our dialogue reflected that fact. So that we may see. So that the world may see. We are the church.

  3. E Harris says:

    Matthew 21:43
    Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

    1 Peter 2:9
    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

    John 15:1
    [ I Am the True Vine ] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

    John 15:5
    I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

    Romans 11:23
    And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.

    1 Peter 2:5
    you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    Psalm 79:1
    [ How Long, O LORD? ] A Psalm of Asaph. O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;they have defiled your holy temple;they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

    …The more I read scripture (and I am not all that well versed), the more I see double. I am not saying this to be contrarian, but it DOES appear to me that the Old Covenant has physical things (and consequently, physical EVENTS) that represent spiritual realities that the disciple was/is supposed to walk in. It’s not always and either/or situation in prophecy. Sometimes it’s a layering: one tangible fulfillment to deal with the physical props, to manifest what has occurred in the invisible Reality. Many events in Revelation may not require a specific fulfillment (but a general one). General fulfillments are possible: when you consider what 20th century marketing (Edward Burney’s) discovered, that the appetites and attitudes of entire groups and societies can be shifted and manipulated toward desired ends. The end goal in propaganda isn’t usually a specific fulfillment (though it doesn’t negate one): the end goal is a conditioning, an attitude, even a state of mind toward a people or product.

    Often, in the wilder symbols, we are given a story of pictures that isn’t even MEANT to be taken physically or even literally, even in a spiritual sense. They depict eternal truths as they intersect with personal beings and masses of personal beings. Some beings relate very well to the truth, and handle it well. Others abuse it, and become warped (depending on the way they abuse the truth). It is a visual STORY describing things that are happening RELATIONALLY between the world, God, and God’s People.

    Many so-called “Israelites” refused to be made into TRUE Israel. They refused to embrace the New (the inner reality of relationship to God: that David, Abraham, and so many old testament prophets enjoyed). Many Old Covenant people were unwilling to see the light and walk with the Lord as they were supposed to (even as, when Jesus came, it meant sacrificing and trading the SYMBOL for the REALITY). So the shadow, the symbol, was even taken from them.

    And the kingdom (peace, joy, and love in the Holy Ghost) was given to people, strangers, who were not of a physical circumcision, but who allowed themselves to be circumcized (nevertheless) in their heart. God’s unified Kingdom, on this earth – was once mediated through true Israel in a physical sense…and will be again. But the first time around, those who considered themselves Israelites took too much comfort in their physical buildings, traditional culture, and all of their symbolic “accessories”. This time around: God’s kingdom is taught through the unity (love) of His People, their trusting faith in their mediator Jesus who saves them from their sin (who is the one who fulfilled the forshadowing elements of the OLD physical kingdom). We do not have a physical temple, as that was a foreshadowing. We are the temple of the living God.

    The whitewashed tombs were done away with, paving the way for greater clarity for those true Israelites who had already embraced the New. And when the physical props were taken away, those of the Old Covenant had to adapt at least some of the concepts of a New Covenant paradigm in order to remain viable as a generational people. But even today, for those who do not believe Jesus, the Old Covenant is emptied of meaning, without the New sustaining it.

    The New was present all along (the Vine, the Logos) it just hadn’t been explained and revealed in HISTORY yet. But when the new came, the old foreshadowing (much of it) was allowed to transform. (This is NOT to say that the intent, meaning, and morality of the law changed one bit. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it.)

    It truly does appear, many times over, that the layering of symbology in scripture is very rich. And mankind needed VISUAL AIDS to help them come up to God’s understanding of history, relationship, eternity, etc. These visual aids persist (in physical, and literary form) throughout scripture. Remember, it was visuals that helped lead to the fall. We placed too much value on the visual, and the (mostly) empty significance of being able to know good and evil. So we fell away into lies and darkness, and God is using (in part) a sequential story (of REAL events!) explaining layers of deep eternal realities to help bring us out of our darkness. First the natural then the spiritual.

    God speaks of judgement with the intent that people would COME UP to a relational understanding, and out of an understanding that sees physical comforts, props, and power as the end-goal. God wants us to treasure relationship to Him (for His sake), as He treasures His relationship to US. He is always schooling us toward these ends. This is also the source of much of His apparent “frustration” when his would-be bride (people) does not understand, and turns away to tradition, idols, empty symbolism (while denying the power thereof), or anything BUT humility before a very REAL and PRESENT God.

    It is God’s Story that He is telling us, because sometimes we need a story to help us understand deep truths, and our place in relation to these deep truths. We need pictures, allegories, even (sometimes) physical props to touch and see. But we should never mistake the earthly glory and grandeur of what we see for the ESSENCE of the heavenly glory and grandeur that comes from a Living God. He is not a God of the dead, but of the living. He changes us as we learn about Him, and He makes all things new.

    • E Harris says:

      There are an abundance of scriptures, in the Old and the New, that declare God’s Loving Intentions for His people. He “speaks from the heart” in narrative and story fashion…to grab our attention. This is not to negate reality. Reality has a HEART that often goes unnoticed by unbelieving people (who believe only physical externals, and don’t understand eternal realities). In these scriptures, it is the HEART that shines through them, far more than the literal fulfillments. It speaks of the heart of God and men.
      The story, in large part, can be described as a God who desires to reveal Himself to His People, and simply desires that His people understand Him and relate to Him as He is. Many people could only relate to God in the most rudimentary ways, having grown up in a culture that was fallen and hiding from the truth.

      Genesis 3:8-10 (English Standard Version)
      8And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

      Exodus 16:32
      Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”

      Deuteronomy 9:29 (English Standard Version)
      29(A) For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’

      Psalm 33:12
      Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

      1 Peter 2:9
      But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

      Joshua 13:33
      But to the tribe of Levi Moses gave no inheritance; the LORD God of Israel is their inheritance, just as he said to them.

      Jeremiah 31
      31(BR) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make(BS) a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when(BT) I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke,(BU) though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33(BV) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD:(BW) I will put my law within them, and I will write it(BX) on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’(BY) for they shall all know me,(BZ) from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For(CA) I will forgive their iniquity, and(CB) I will remember their sin no more.”

      Ezekiel 34:30
      And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD.

      Exodus 3:14
      God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

      Exodus 3:15
      God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

      Leviticus 18:2
      “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God.

      Jeremiah 13:10
      This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing.

      Ezekiel 14:11
      that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord GOD.”

      Ezekiel 37
      15The word of the LORD came to me: 16(AB) “Son of man,(AC) take a stick[d] and write on it, ‘For(AD) Judah, and(AE) the people of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For(AF) Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ 17And(AG) join them one to another into one stick, that(AH) they may become(AI) one in your hand. 18And when(AJ) your people say to you,(AK) ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ 19say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take(AL) the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the(AM) stick of Judah,[e] and(AN) make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand. 20When the sticks on which you write are in your hand(AO) before their eyes, 21then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold,(AP) I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22And(AQ) I will make them one nation in the land, on(AR) the mountains of Israel. And(AS) one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer(AT) two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23(AU) They shall not(AV) defile themselves anymore(AW) with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But(AX) I will save them from all the backslidings[f] in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and(AY) they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
      24″My servant(AZ) David(BA) shall be king over them, and they shall all have(BB) one shepherd.(BC) They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25(BD) They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there(BE) forever, and David my servant shall be their prince(BF) forever. 26(BG) I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be(BH) an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land[g] and(BI) multiply them, and will(BJ) set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27(BK) My dwelling place shall be with them,(BL) and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then(BM) the nations will know that(BN) I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when(BO) my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

      1 Peter 2:5
      you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

      2 Corinthians 6:16
      What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,and I will be their God,and they shall be my people.

      1 Timothy 6:5
      and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

      Jude 1:4
      For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

      James 4:4
      You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

      1 Corinthians 3:16
      Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
      1 Corinthians 3:17
      If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

      1 Corinthians 6:19
      Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

      Matthew 20:25-26 (English Standard Version)
      25But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

      2 Corinthians 6:14
      [ The Temple of the Living God ] Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

      2 Thessalonians 2:3
      Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God,(K) proclaiming himself to be God.

      Matthew 24:12
      And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

      Zechariah 13:9
      And I will put this third into the fire,and refine them as one refines silver,and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name,and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’;and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”

      Revelation 3:12
      The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

      1 Timothy 4:10
      For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

      Rev 14
      12(AH) Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who(AI) keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.[b] 13And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this:(AJ) Blessed are the dead(AK) who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit,(AL) “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

      Romans 8:19
      For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

      Romans 8:14
      For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

      Galatians 3:26
      for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

      Acts 17:30
      The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

      Revelation 21:3
      And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

      Galatians 4:6
      And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

      Hebrews 12:7
      It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

      1 John 3:2
      Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

      Revelation 21:2
      And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

      Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, and he told us that his Father’s house (temple?) had many mansions or rooms. (There is a trend in house architecture toward having “great rooms” that are like the hub of the house. Much activity can branch off of the ‘great’ room, that unifies the house.) The temple is compared to a body with many members. A wife’s body is the body of her husband. And a husband’s body is the body of his wife. There is a headship pattern in the Scripture, of Father-Son-Bride (who together beget sons of God? Individual people. This birthing process is painful, in this present world…because it is not easy for people to beget after the Fall. But with God, all things are possible. Things that are hard or difficult, that we must labor and travail for… are well worth it in the end.)

      As I have said before, I am an historicist (of some kind). I see great value in picturing the Church as the temple of God in the New Covenant. Jesus and His Bride.

      The struggle between the City of God and the City of Man: is predominantly a struggle between selfless, Christ-like, godly government – and political beasts that men allow themselves to become & yield to. Revelation talks about the Humble One being victorious.

  4. Samuel Frost says:

    Joel,

    Good article. I footnoted your last article in my treatment of I Cor. 13. But, unlike the previous comment, seeing these things in their proper context lets us know that it is “all about us”, the church, and I suspect this is where you are heading when you leave us with the ending question: “The tree will be removed; and who shall fill that empty plot of garden?” I wonder who……

    • Micah Martin says:

      Sam,

      I know you know exactly what I meant by my comments.

      “The Bible was not written too us, but it was written for us” is a popular foundational principal for many, even outside the preterist world. (See John Walton’s “Lost World of Genesis One”)

      Even Joel starts out his now famous “Wheat and Tares” article with this phrase:

      “Most people don’t realize that many if not most of Jesus’ parables were intended not as general morality tales, but as particular pronouncements of coming judgment and change. Jesus was warning Jerusalem to repent and to accept its new King (Jesus) or else fall under ultimate condemnation of God. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels pertains primarily to that pre-AD 70 crowd, and without reading it in this light, we misunderstand it. And when we misunderstand it, we misapply it.”
      (end quote)

      Powerful stuff, especially those last few lines.

      As for where Joel goes from here, I am also very interested in where he will end up. I hope he reads your “Essays on the Resurrection”. I think the case you made in those essays would be an appropriate end for Joel’s “tree and garden” analogy. The old tree that was removed was the Old Covenant, Fleshly Corporate Body of Adam and was replaced by the Resurrected SEED (that Hosea speaks about), the New Covenant Corporate Body of Christ raised immortal and imperishable.

      I also wonder if Joel is going to continue with his “garden” analogy. If the church replaces the old tree (or more appropriately is it’s resurrected counterpart) does that mean we, who are in Christ, are back in God’s Garden? Now when I try to tell people that, I am called a heretic, but as I have found out, that is not the worst thing to be called.

      Blessings,
      Micah Martin

      • E Harris says:

        I haven’t actually heard of Joel’s “garden analogy”. Sounds interesting. I’m not sure I understand your statement “does that mean we, who are in Christ, are back in God’s Garden?” But this is my initial reaction to that interesting idea.

        Romans 8:1
        [ Life in the Spirit ] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

        James 5:12
        But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

        …so does this mean that we can actually STEP OUT of Christ, when we do these things?

        Romans 3:8
        And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

        Philippians 2:12
        [ Lights in the World ] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

        That maybe our salvation isn’t as “eternal security” as some think of it, but something that is progressive and works within us? Maybe it’s more about HOW MUCH you are saved. For some people, they may lose what they have… if they refuse to forgive, or are fearful and hide what treasure they have in the ground, for fear…

        It is not “once saved, always saved”. Nobody ELSE and nothing ELSE can pluck us out of God’s Hand, and come between us and our Savior. But that does not mean that we cannot be lukewarm after that point, or willfully slide away out of His walls (salvation). I believe that rebellion is always possible, in any personal being. But God wants to make it far less LIKELY, by building a society of people that will make it supremely ATTRACTIVE to stay in the light. “And the Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come’.” (Not attractive with earthly carnal things, but attractive because of the living testimony of the redeemed who remember (dimly) the distasteful darkness and the loveliness of their Savior and Creator.

        • Micah Martin says:

          Ed,

          You really have put a lot of thought into this. I think we would agree on many points. I also see the entire Biblical narrative as one connected story. Adam’s fall in the Garden (presence/relationship with God) forced him out. The rest of the Bible is the story of God fixing that and through Christ, we enter back into the Garden (relationship with God).

          I think that you are just a bit off when you say “first the natural and then the spiritual”. That is correct but the “natural” is not physical (i.e. the physical universe or matter) but living by the “flesh and blood” that was the Old Covenant (Body of Adam). Contrast that to the Spiritual which is the New Covenant (Body of Christ).

          I am a full-preterist, so I believe that we, the Church, are not just the bride of Christ but actually his wife. The marriage happened when the Old Covenant system of types and shadows was done away with in AD 70.

          As far as God using this physical existence to mature us and grow us in our relationship to him, I am in total agreement. I just don’t see our present world (physical universe) as being any different than the physical universe that Adam experienced before the fall. “The Death” was not biological death. It was a “Fellowship Death”.

          There is much we could talk about. If you are interested send me an email. I would be happy to send you a complimentary copy of “Beyond Creation Science” which is a basic primer on Covenant Theology from Genesis to Revelation. It touches on just about all of the points you mentioned above. I think you will enjoy it, even if you don’t agree with all of it.

          Blessings,

          Micah Martin
          micahmartin5@gmail.com

        • E Harris says:

          Hello Micah,

          I would be very much interested in your book!

          For a full-preterist, you don’t seem so bad! I used to think of full-preterism as “the bad guy on the block”… That is probably because I think of preterists as cessationists (when it comes to miracles and such), materialists, and possibly statists. I mean, what else is there, if Revelation and everything biblical is already fulfilled? Where are we? (I mean, sin, imperfection, discontent, violence, death, etc… “all has continued as it was, since our father’s fell asleep”… I know that statement marks me as a devil’s advocate, right there.)

          Then again, Jesus said, on the cross: “It is finished.” That was before the Revelation of Jesus Christ was even written for a contemporary and future audience. (It was written for a future audience as well, as the writers in the NT knew that their writings were being treated as scripture. And they knew, from experience, that scripture sticks around for a long time when it is treated with care. They knew that their writings would be read and treasured for years to come… they just probably didn’t envision 2000 years. Still, I find comfort in that they wrote for contemporary audience, because it shows their warmth, humanity, and Christ-likeness.)

          In Dembski’s new book “The End of Christianity”… he details two important and different types of logic: chronological logic (of cause-effect, in continuity), and kairological logic (that is eternal, and does not follow a time-continuity). We all understand chronological logic, since time/space operates that way. But most people have not explored kairological logic, all that much. Ok, maybe “calvinists” have! Kairological logic deals with matters of priority, morality, timelessness – in the Eternal and never-changing heart of Reality (God). That’s how I understand it, anyway. The tension between the Kairological and Chronological would actually help settle the debate between Calvinist and Armenian, if/when it is understood properly. Kairological deals with how sin and salvation can affect things both “forward” in time and “backward” in time…because the primary relationship isn’t with time, but with an Eternal God Who Is the foundation of everything.

          God is higher than time (outside of time, beyond it). Time exists IN HIM as a thin thread would exist in a room. Things that He creates (by their structure) to relate to HIM, essentially affect THE root of Being, on a level much larger than time itself. And GOD (the timeless, eternal, and Personal One, Heb 1:3) must address/allow/cement/establish things that occur on that level. Essentially He empowers lesser beings with a measure of reality, allows lesser beings to CHOOSE their place/relationship to Him, and then He respects their choice.

          This is also the level that adoption takes place, I believe. Predestination takes place on a level beyond time. (God knows what your choices are, even the future ones.) And somehow, freedom to choose (within time) is still preserved. So things that ARE TRUE outside of time, may not resemble things that are/appear inside of time. It’s almost as if time itself was a birth-chamber.

          So… to the Full Preterist, my initial response is: You are right: it was done at the cross. But you are wrong, in that the struggles of TIME have not resolved themselves yet. God is allowing the struggles of time to proceed as they always have. But things ARE different now: because His Plan is still progressively (chronologically) being revealed and unfolding. All of the key factors were written down 2000 years ago, as a testimony (witness) to man that God is God: He operates outside of time itself, He is Sovereign. There is no controlling Him. Kairological trumps chronological every time it is used. It’s like time travel in a science fiction movie, only God doesn’t have to travel anywhere: He already IS. He is everywhere, sees everything, and IS (Kairologically, in priority and power) BEFORE everything. (A common example, for those who are used to seeing “coincidental” miracles: a believer who serves God, runs out of money and prays, and it appears in his mailbox, having been shipped a week before. This is not chronological interaction. It is kairological, and initiated by God, based upon chronological conditions that “haven’t occurred yet.” It’s almost like a time-travel paradox. But being is being, whenever it is. And God sustains and relates, in some way, to all being. He is what ties all of Reality and Being together, giving it a common morality.)

          I not only see the Bible as one narrative (and “reconstructionists” are aiding with this), but I also see all of history as one narrative that unfolds from the principles declared in scripture. These principles are never-changing, and are always interacted with by all beings, in all times and eras. Historicism has helped me to see this (I went from futurist to historicist). History is One Story, that focuses PRIMARILY upon God and His People. The people’s vision of themselves (and of their relation to God) changes, but it is the same people. And history contains a mixed multitude of those who are perishing along with those who are living eternally.

          Aren’t preterists cessationists? How, then can a preterist say that it is all fulfilled, and we are “in paradise”? Miracles are perceived as interruptions precisely because the world is still damaged. And if you happen not to believe in miracles, and you are a full-preterist, then you must accept the state of things (in time) just as it is right now!

          No preterist that I have actually spoken to is a cessationist. (I only know one preterist.) I travel in circles that regularly experience various kinds of miracles and prophetic experiences, and we also speak in tongues, so the idea of cessationism is a massive turn-off that is both not biblical and is a sign of ignorance.

          But here is a point… Paul said that prophecy and tongues would cease, when what is FULL comes into view. But… I know, FOR A FACT, that prophecy and tongues have not ceased yet, and that we are still looking through shady glass with dim eyes. Do you see angels? Do you understand God’s plan? Most of us don’t even understand ourselves or each other! So how can we be in that place that is “beyond”? God, through Jesus, has predestined us to rule with him (those who, with His empowerment, continue to choose Him). And we are seated with Him in heavenly places, even now.

          But how do we reconcile the realities of our spiritual wholeness with Him, with our incomplete reality (as it appears right now) in the earth?

        • E Harris says:

          One major point:

          For many people, the objective is to get back to the Garden. But New Jerusalem and Paradise are depicted as both garden and city.

          Adam’s “state” in the garden wasn’t permanent. Sooner or later, he would have had to choose: Tree of Life, or Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Statistically, sooner or later, Adam would have wondered about one tree or the other.)

          I find it interesting that Adam had no children until AFTER he ate of one of those two trees. So all children were born into the effects of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

          The Tree of Life would have done something different. What it would have done, we do not know. (Or at least I do not know.) Though, I do believe that Jesus may possibly be a human incarnation of the same thing that the original Tree of Life is an incarnation of (or represents).

          In either case, we are grafted in to a cultivated tree that is NOT wild. Jesus is called the Word, and it is understanding, relating, and obeying the Word (with Spirit empowerment) that brings us into right relationship with God. We cannot do it ourselves (as history also demonstrates), so Jesus came and accomplished it. And now we live in a grace that we did not buy, and that grace empowers us to love and obey God our Father.

          Even though we may sin or fall away… the Seed (Spirit of Christ) that is inside of us cannot sin. We may reject him and be condemned. But if we do not reject Him (personally, in spirit, as our savior and God) then I have to believe that something of us, that remains in right relationship to God, is saved and preserved.

  5. Micah Martin says:

    Great article Joel! Keep them coming. It’s amazing how the Bible comes to life when we get over our nihilistic tendencies and realize that it is not all about us. Only when we understand it first, through the original audiences’ eyes, will we be able to grasp the full and complete message.

    Thanks for another great article.

    Blessings,
    Micah

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