Friday, February 05, 2010

Jesus and His Kingdom part 2 Prophecy

In this post, I want to set some things right up front and on the table. Different Christians read prophecy differently because of certain presuppositions. Dispensationalism is probably the most dominant eschatological view within Evangelical churches today. Dispensationalism is a reaction to Liberal Theology and seeks to take the bible literally in a manner that could be considered strict literalism. It also sees National Israel as the center of Old Testament prophecy. Therefore there is a separation between Israel and the church and two distinct plans of salvation, one for gentiles and one for Jews.
It is quite obvious that Jesus never intended to start any type of church structure since he believed he would return very shortly to rule his kingdom in person. It is also quite obvious that Jesus was wrong about when he was coming back.
Now I have no idea if the author ever was influenced by the Dispensational understanding that Jesus plans to set up and continue an earthly national theocracy as in David's day, but regardless, this understanding is simply wrong.

On the other hand, I must be fair to my Dispensational friends. Many times in history, including the New England Puritans, non-Dispensationalists had an over realized eschatology. They saw the preaching of the Gospel would lead to a Golden Age of peace. The confusion of separation of church and state easily arises out of this thinking. This, again, misses Jesus' teaching on the nature of the Kingdom. We will look at that in another post.

Prophecy must be carefully read. We know from Old Testament prophecy that two different events can be recorded as if they were one event due to what has been called the "flattened perspective". We also know that symbolism may be used at times.

We also know that prophets did not always understand their own prophecy. We see for example that John the Baptist predicted judgment at Christ's coming. Yet when he finds Himself in Herod's prison, he begins to question his own understanding of the events that are taking place. This is explained by Peter's two statements quoted below. First from 2 Peter 1:
21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
And from 1 Peter 1:
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
The Kingdom of God must be considered in light of what the New Testament clearly teaches. The Apostles definitely had a different view from many today, including My own presupposition is that prophecy and the entire Hebrew Scriptures is about Christ. This starting point comes from Jesus Himself, as recorded in Luke 24:
25 And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
This is why, on the day of Pentecost, Peter was able to preach that Jesus is already seated on David's throne, ruling and reigning at the right hand of God (see Acts 2). The Kingdom in some sense had already come, and yet will come in its fullness at the consummation at the end of the age.

When we realize that the Kingdom surrounds the Person of Christ and how Christ is accomplishing His purposes, then we may view things in a different manner. Eventually we will get to an exposition of Matthew 24. I realize this has not answered the apparent contradiction yet, but without a proper understanding of the big picture, answering the the original question will be lost in our presuppositions.

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