That’s what someone on Facebook said about me after reading an article I posted. It may be true that I don’t understand biblical eschatology but regurgitating dispensational talking points will not prove the assertion. What will prove it is by searching the Scriptures daily to see if what I claim the Bible teaches is true (Acts 17:11).
Here’s how he started:
Christians are not looking forward to a Temple. The Temple will be rebuilt by national Israel. In order to get prophecy and Scripture right we must embrace God’s distinctions for the Church and national Israel.
• Daniel’s 70th week is future.
• We have not yet reached Revelation 4:1. • Biblical eschatology is Premillennial.
Millions of Christians are looking forward to a rebuilt temple by the Jews since it forms the basis of their end-time system. Dispensationalism requires a rebuilt temple so it can be occupied by the antichrist who will make and break a covenant with the Jews and usher in the Great Tribulation that will result in the slaughter of millions of Jews (Zech. 13:7–9) and billions of non-Jews. This is dispensationalism. While Jesus said, “It’s finished” (19:30), dispensationalists say “Nay, Nay,” even after reading the book of Hebrews.
Let’s not forget that dispensationalists believe there will be animal sacrifices for atonement during the 1000-year premillennial reign of Jesus on earth (Rev. 20). They are looking for a millennial temple where animal sacrifices will restart while the Lamb of God is present.
You can see from the above points he makes that he is making dispensational arguments and not biblical arguments. On “God’s distinctions for the Church and national Israel,” see my article “The Church is All Over the Old Testament.” I’m not going to rehearse my arguments here. The article will suffice as a rebuttal to his claim. By the way, if we follow his premise that “the problem” with me is I “refuse to acknowledge Almighty God’s distinctions for Israel and the Church,” then he has to say the same thing of every Bible commentator until around 1830. It’s possible that all these commentators were wrong, but it’s not likely.
Consider this from dispensational writer Harry A. Ironside (1876–1951):
Until [this parenthetical mystery called the church age was] brought to the fore through the writings and preaching and teaching of a distinguished ex-clergyman, Mr. J.N. Darby [1800–1882], in the early part of the last century [i.e., the 19th century], it is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon through the period of 1600 years! If any doubt this statement, let them search … the remarks of the so-called Fathers, both pre and post Nicene, the theological treatises of the scholastic divines, Roman Catholic writers of all shades of thought, the literature of the Reformation, the sermons and expositions of the Puritans, and the general theological works of the day. He will find the “mystery” [the church] conspicuous by its absence. ((Harry A. Ironside, The Mysteries of God (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1908), 50.))
Ironside also wrote the 120-page book The Great Parenthesis based on something the Bible does not say, that is, that the 70th week of Daniel’s 70-weeks-of-years prophecy (Dan. 9:24–27) is separated from the previous 69 weeks by something that is not mentioned anywhere in Scripture—a gap of nearly 2000 years that keeps getting longer.
Here’s how my critic describes it: “The gap between Daniel’s 69th and 70th weeks is self-evident.” Here was my response:
Self-evident? That’s not exegesis. It’s self-evident that there is no gap because there’s no mention of a gap in the same way there is no gap between the 69th and 70th year of the exile mentioned in the same chapter (Dan. 9:2). The burden of proof is on those who claim there is a gap to prove it and not read a modern-day manufactured system back into a very difficult portion of Scripture.
Then he writes that the reason I don’t see this gap is “because [I’m] a natural man who does not receive the things of the Spirit.” If the Holy Spirit wanted us to know that there is a gap, He would have told us there is a gap. When someone plays the Holy Spirit card, you know their system is in trouble. Following my critic’s logic, the Holy Spirit was absent in the lives of Bible commentators for more than 1800 years until Darby came along. Again, highly unlikely.
Let’s suppose there is a gap in the 70th week, as some non-dispensationalists propose. The gap would be the 40 years between Jesus’ earthly ministry and the judgment of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in AD 70.
My critic accuses me of “ranting about [my] private interpretations of Scripture.” He considers the following a rant and my “private interpretation of Scripture”:
Where in Daniel 9 does it say a second temple is going to be built after the temple that was built after Daniel’s prophecy and restored by Herod, the same temple where Jesus addressed the religious leaders (Luke 2:41–52), cleansed twice (John 2:13–22; Matt. 21:12–17), and declared its destruction (Matt. 23:38; 24:1–2)?
Where in Daniel 9:24-27 does it say that the 70th week is cut off from the 7+62 weeks? It doesn’t.
Where does Daniel 9:24–27 mention an anti-Messiah who makes a covenant with the Jews and then breaks it? It doesn’t.
Where in Revelation 4:1 does it say the church will be raptured? It doesn’t. I know the argument. The church is said to be mentioned x-number of times in chapters 1–3 but does not appear again in chapters 4–19, therefore it must have been raptured. Actually, the church as a universal body is not mentioned in these early chapters.
The first three chapters of Revelation deal with seven first-century historical churches, assemblies of believers, in Asia Minor: the church in Ephesus (2:1), the church in Smyrna (2:8), the church in Pergamum (2:12), the church in Thyatira (2:18), the church in Sardis (3:1), the church in Philadelphia (3:7), and the church in Laodicea (3:14). There is no mention of “the church” as a universal body of believers around the world in Revelation 1–3.
If Jesus meant the universal church at a time just before a so-called “rapture,” He could/would have used a phrase like “the whole church” (Rom. 16:23) or just “the church.” Instead, Jesus refers to actual congregations in a limited geographical area in the first century about events that were “near” (Rev. 1:3; 22:10).
If the number of times a word appears is important, and Revelation 4–19 is said to be about Israel, why does the word Israel only appear once after the supposed rapture of the Church, and not until Revelation 7:4? One would think that if the church is in view in the first three chapters because the words church and churches are used 19 times, then shouldn’t we expect to find the word Israel used more than once after chapter three if the entire seven-year period is about Israel? The word Israel does appear in 21:12 and the word churches appears in 22:16. Notice that it’s not the word “church” (singular) that’s found in Revelation 22:16 but “churches” (plural) (see 1:4, 11).
Did my critic offer a biblical response to any of what I wrote? No. He accused me of not being able to see what is “self-evident” because of my “erroneous presuppositions.”
What about my critic’s claim “biblical eschatology is premillennial”? It would be if there was a verse that said Jesus will reign on earth for 1000 years. I suppose like the 70th-week gap, premillennialism is “self-evident.” Moreover, the case can’t be made for the historicity of premillennialism. The early church was neither predominately premillennial nor did it “embrace God’s distinctions for the Church and national Israel.”
Frank Gumerlock and I wrote The Early Church and the End of World to answer the argument that the early church held to a premillennial view of eschatology based on the Bible.
For further historical support for my argument that premillennialism was not the view of the early church, see the very rare 165-page book The Apocalypse in the Ancient Church by Ned Stonehouse and “Chiliasm in the Writings of the Apostolic Fathers” by Albertus Pieters, a two-part article from 1938.
Also see Alan Patrick Boyd’s “A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers (Until the Death of Justin Martyr)”—submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Theology (May 1977).