Old Testament, Jesus, Second Coming

(system) #1

Since this is the last Sabbath of the quarter dealing with the “Teachings of Jesus,” I am going to break some polite rules governing this column – mostly unwritten and some of them of my own making – because this particular lesson provides a wonderful opportunity for us to discover things in Scripture we had forgotten or never knew before. And let me be extraordinarily candid about the situation facing Adventism right now. A great fear is stalking the land, a fear that if we don’t reinforce what we have always said, and with greater emphasis, the church will disintegrate.

In my view, such an approach risks producing the very disintegration that the fearful have wanted to prevent. It’s like a drowning person desperately clinging to the rescuer in a way that puts both at risk. Given the fears haunting the church, can the independent press in Adventism – primarily Spectrum and Adventist Today – rise to the occasion and serve a positive, constructive role, not simply a negative, critical one? I would hope so.

Now if you follow this Spectrum commentary regularly, you may have noticed that in recent months my by-line has appeared a disproportionate number of times. Why? For a variety of reasons Spectrum has had difficulty finding the right mix of willing volunteers to write the commentary column. Under the circumstances, I granted permission to Spectrum to duplicate the study guide from the Good Word, the on-line Sabbath School commentary prepared by the Walla Walla University School of Theology. Sometimes the fit has been awkward since the Good Word study guide accompanies a 13-minute, three-person dialogue discussing the lesson. Our goal has been to meet the needs of those who like to stay in touch with the “official” Sabbath School lessons, but who want more substantial material than is available through the regular study guide. So here is a shameless plug for Good Word. Check us out at this web site for our audio dialogue and downloadable study guide: www.wallawalla.edu/goodword . We’re on every week. And a lot of what we say is true!

Another concern I would like to register here is the tendency for those responding to the Spectrum commentary simply to use it as a springboard for quite unrelated matters rather than using it to grapple with the biblical material. Given the changes in our world since the early years of Adventism, we have lots of reasons to engage Scripture seriously. But a deeply-rooted conservatism works against us, leaving both Sabbath School and Scripture as unhappy orphans. The phenomenon is not unique to Adventism. The other day I came across a 1970 book in my library by James Smart, a left-of-center biblical scholar at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His title and his narrative are remarkably relevant to Adventism today: The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church (Westminster Press). Now if you simply want lots of references from the Bible, visit the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Typically they are devout and faithful and quote the Bible a lot. But they are rarely drawn by the kinds of exploratory questions that drive thoughtful Adventists.

As we turn to this week’s topic, “The Second Coming,” I want to note the procedural method I adopted in preparing the Good Word study guide for this quarter. The overall theme has been, “The Teachings of Jesus.” But to my surprise, I discovered that the official study guide did not focus on the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels as I had expected. Instead, each lesson simply addressed a doctrine of the church, with key texts from throughout Scripture and occasional references to the Gospels. The impression given is that wherever you dip your finger into Scripture you get the same result. I believe such leveling of Scripture can be misleading. The Old Testament often says a great deal less than Jesus did on key doctrines, and sometimes in quite a different way. Furthermore, while Jesus should always be our touchstone, our ideal, the New Testament writers often did not fully grasp the far-reaching implications of his life and teachings. His treatment of non-Jews and women, for example, was revolutionary, so revolutionary that it is still not grasped by many today. So throughout this entire quarter, we have sought to make Jesus’ life and teachings the primary focal point of each lesson.

So what does the Bible say abut the Second Coming. Surprise! While Jesus’ return is the dominant teaching in the New Testament, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to be present in the Old Testament at all, at least not under the usual labels. Nave’s Topical Bible, for example, a thoroughly traditional source, lists only one Old Testament passage under “Jesus Christ, Second Coming of”: Job 19:25, “I know that my Redeemer liveth....” But even that one verse needs to be qualified, for in an Old Testament context, the application of Job 19:25 to the second coming is secondary. The first application would see the goel (KJV “Redeemer”) as the near kinsman who would come to defend Job’s integrity, just as Boaz was the goel (KJV “Redeemer”) who came to defend Ruth’s rights (see Ruth 4:4-6).

In that very connection, however, I have a painful personal memory. In probably the most challenging class I teach, Research and Writing in Religion, our goal is to introduce our students to the full spectrum of religious perspectives so that their faith and their conversations about faith will be accurately informed. But it was in that class that one of our very bright students exclaimed in dismay to my comment about Job 19:25 (essentially what I said in the paragraph above): “The size of our preachable Bible gets smaller and smaller and smaller!” She simply put into vivid words the deeply-rooted feelings of many devout people: “If God said it, it really should apply to all people, at all times, and in all places.” The unsettling implication for classroom and church is that when we seek to do “exegesis,” that is, interpreting a passage in time and place, we are unintentionally but subtly undermining convictions about the authority of the Bible, at least in the minds of many.

So where did the idea of a “Second Coming” originate? One could hardly expect the “Second Coming” to be clear in the Old Testament when Jesus’ listeners, relying on their Bible, the Old Testament, scarcely understood key aspects of his first coming. In Jesus’ day, everyone expected a deliverer (see Sigmund Mowinckel, He That Cometh [Abingdon, 1954; Eerdmans, 2005]). But the crucial question that Jesus raised was: “What kind of Deliverer?” As C. S. Lewis put it, the incarnation “leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins” – A Grief Observed, IV.15 (see chapter 7, “The best story in the Old Testament: the Messiah,” in the author’s Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?).

But if one does not find the explicit teaching of the “Second Coming” in the Old Testament, what one does find is the hope of restoration. Isaiah 65:17-25 speaks of new heavens and a new earth, one in which the wolf and lamb would feed together and the lion would eat straw like the ox. Yet Isaiah 65:20 clearly states that death still reigns in that new heavens and new earth. There would be no premature death; but death still comes to those who have lived a full life. Isaiah 66:22-24 also speaks of the new heavens and new earth; but again the marks of evil remain vivid in the form of the dead bodies of the rebels. Modern dispensationalists use all these passages to describe their idea of an earthly millennium which includes childbirth, death, and animal sacrifice (see Zechariah 14). Our Adventist heritage offers another, far more “biblical” alternative (see “The Role of Israel in Old Testament Prophecy,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary 4:25-38).

The vision of a vegetarian kingdom in Isaiah 11 uses some of the same imagery as Isaiah 65, envisioning a world no one had ever seen, a hope for restoration at the end of history, a sharp contrast with the prevailing Canaanite idea of unending natural cycles.

Another phrase that becomes important for the idea of restoration is “day of the Lord,” always a local judgment in the Old Testament, but a local judgment that points to a final and ultimate “Day of the Lord.” Note how the key references to the “day of the Lord” are scattered through the prophetic books:

Isaiah 2:12; 13:6, 9

Jeremiah 46:10

Ezekiel 30:3, 18

Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14

Amos 5:18-20

Obadiah 15

Zephaniah 1:7, 14-15

Zechariah 14:1

Malachi 4:5

From an Adventist perspective the passages in Joel are particularly interesting because the first application is clearly to a grasshopper plague in Joel’s own day. But that wasn’t the end of it. This local “day of the Lord” already began to point to the ultimate Day of the Lord and the return of Yahweh.

Joel 2:31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved;

And here one can see a clear illustration of the idea of multiple applications. The celestial signs marking this event were signs of a local “day” which were re-applied to later events in expectation of the final “Day.” In Acts 2, Peter applied Joel’s prophecy to the events surrounding the death of Jesus:

Acts 2:16 (NRSV): No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams.

18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

in those days I will pour out my Spirit;

and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show portents in the heaven above

and signs on the earth below,

blood, and fire, and smoky mist.

20 The sun shall be turned to darkness

and the moon to blood,

before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.

21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Our Adventist pioneers applied these same signs to events in the 18th and 19th centuries, i.e. to events in their day: Lisbon earthquake (1755), dark day (1780), and falling of the stars (1833). Finally, in Revelation 6, the same celestial signs are applied to the second coming:

Revelation 6:12 (NRSV) When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.

Adventist pioneer, Uriah Smith, was so focused on a strict, monolithic historicist interpretation that he could only see the traditional historicist applications. But in the Bible, these signs in the natural world are all repeatable. In Revelation 6 they clearly refer to the second coming (see the author’s Beyond Common Ground, 186-220, for the development of idea of “applied historicism,” a both/and approach preserving the traditional historicist framework while allowing for later applications).

In the Old Testament, the “heavenly signs” involving sun, moon, and stars were almost always linked with the idea a local and imminent “day of the Lord.” Here is a succinct list of both OT and NT passages with their applications and objects of judgment as indicated by the context:

Isaiah 13:10 (Babylon) 24:23 (earth)

Jeremiah 15:9 (Jerusalem)

Ezekiel 32:7 (Egypt)

Joel 2:10, 31 (Zion) 3:15 (all nations)

Amos 8:9-10 (Israel)

Habakkuk 3:10-11 (earth)

Matthew 24:29-30 (Jerusalem/Advent)

Mark 13:24 (Jerusalem/Advent)

Luke 21:25-28 (Jerusalem/Advent)

Acts 2:20 (Pentecost)

Revelation 6:12 (Advent)

Given the tantalizing nature of the Old Testament evidence for a “second coming,” it is remarkable that the doctrine is so clear and emphatic in the New Testament. The traditional passages are all clear:

Acts 1:10 (NRSV) While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

1 Thess. 4:16 (NRSV): For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.

From the Gospels, one thinks immediately of this passage from John:

John 14:2 (NRSV): In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

But there is another lesson from Jesus that believers have often overlooked: You can’t know when he is coming! That is especially true of Matthew 24-25 which first lists the signs of the end, then proceeds to say that the coming will be a surprise. Here are the key texts, including one from Acts and one from 1 Thessalonians, all of which state that the day will come as a surprise:

Matthew 24:36-39: But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:42-44: Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Matthew 24:48-50:But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know.

Matthew 25:5-12:As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Acts 1:6-11:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

The practical application of these passages from Scripture is spelled out with clarity by C. S. Lewis in his essay, “The World’s Last Night”:

“We must never speak to simple, excitable people about ‘the day’ without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that the impossibility is an essential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe our Lord’s words, why do you believe in his return at all? And if you do believe them must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return? His teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions. (1) That he will certainly return. (2) That we cannot possibly find out when. (3) And that therefore we must always be ready for him.” – C. S. Lewis, “The World’s Last Night” in The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, 107

Should one be fearful of the coming “Day”? Perhaps. As Lewis put it in the same essay:

“Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several others things – ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.” – WLN, 109

The practical value of being prepared is also seen in this quote from Thomas Merton who was asked how the Shakers, who believed the world would end at any moment, could still build such marvelous furniture. Merton said: “When you expect the world to end at any moment, you know there is no need to hurry. You take your time, you do your work well.” – from Rodney Clapp, “Overdosing on the Apocalypse,” Christianity Today, October 28, 1991.

The message for our day is clear. Be prepared. You don’t need any end-time charts. Jesus could come today.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6275

(Elaine Nelson) #2

How very seldom is the coming of the “Day of the Lord” used with the actual meaning that for each of us living: that the day will be when we breathe our last breath? It doesn’t matter whether He is coming tomorrow or a thousand years from now, at our death, there is no more waiting or watching. If we thought of it in that most realistic way, would there still be such a warning often accompanying evangelists of the “soon coming of the Lord” as an apocalyptic event in the near future?

(Sirje) #3

First of all - kudos to you Alden Thompson, for drawing the focus to a totally Biblical look at this subject. Tradition has a way of piling up details out of thin air in order to enhance a subject so near and dear to the heart of the remnant church.

Secondly, while I am as guilty as anyone for responding to respondents rather than the subject at hand, I applaud you drawing attention to a more Biblical study, warning against derailment. It’s about time we took a critical look at the Bible, and its study, without assuming we know what the outcome of that study will be.

One of the biggest problems of any church teaching is getting caught up in cliches. People talk in generalities that have been around for a long time without digging into meaning of words and how they relate from different parts of the Bible. Compartmentalizing is a problem, as is the authority we give “The Spirit of Prophesy” - It’s an odd mixture of Bible hopping without regard to context; and compartmentalizing.

Now to the subject at hand. First and foremost, we have to determine if Christianity matters. Often when Adventism tackles a subject, they might as well forget about the New Testament altogether. By trying to emulate the Berriens, we have taken the job to a new level. So maybe we need to ask the question again - “does one have to become a Jew, with all its attending authority and ritual (even if only in symbol), to accept the Gospel and inherit the kingdom?”

Undoubtedly the first Christians were Jews, and had a hard time shaking that off their belief system and lifestyle. But we have gone beyond that and purposely included most all the Jewishness that the Jews were trying to abandon (outlined in the book of Hebrew).

The “second coming” depends on the first coming, which includes the life and teachings of Jesus (not the book by the same name). I’m assuming the ten and twelve year-olds we baptize understand nothing of the Old Testament time lines we have constructed; and are reacting solely to “who-soever come”. It seems that when a large number of SDA membership is made up of these children, grown up in the church, it should be sufficient for the rest of us. This, in turn, extends to the portions of the Bible that supports our faith and hope. We have made every jot and tittle of equal importance within the remnant construct.

The Old Testament knew nothing of a new earth. We dig up Isaiah 66 to support our Sabbath, but ignore the Jewish new moon from the same text and its promise. We jump around the OT only when it’s an advantage to our doctrines.

Since C.S. Lewis was mentioned, he has an unqualified view of the resurrection and Christ’s ascension as well. Looking at the subject in the 20th century, he attributed the whole thing to quantum physics and different dimension it makes possible. The average person knows nothing of these kinds of explanations, and so maybe it would suffice to admit we can’t know and must have total faith in God’s goodness and Christ’s redemption - whatever it’s outcome.

(Elaine Nelson) #4

Sirje, never truer words said than: “The Old Testament knew NOTHING of a new earth.” The also never believed in an afterlife until being introduced to this during their exile and gradually became incorporated in Judaism. The Jews were describing how they hoped their lives would be when their present position would be so much better than it was when many of these hopes were expressed. This began with the Gospel writers who interpreted many OT prophecies as predicting Christ, when they were in fact, writing of very present events of their own time. They took great liberties with many of their well-known writings and used them to equate the birth of Jesus which was very similar to the contemporary pagan gods with divine intervention. As the Roman rulers before Christ were believed to be divinely born of a virgin and resurrected, just so they wrote of Jesus, although his disciples never believed in his divinity. This became a later belief, reaching fruition more than three centuries later.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

to most of us, the return of Jesus will be much like Jesus returning to Bethany to raise Lazarus. He will appear only a breath away. Assurance is timeless. Having recently undergone three hours of General anesthesia, I gives me a reasonable fax of that experience.So we live In faith, hope,and love. Tom Z

(Sirje) #6

You having said that, and I agreeing for the most part, we still have Jesus referring continually to the OT when speaking of the “new”; and, in fact quoting it all along the way up to the very end. In fact, it could be said he purposefully orchestrated some of his activities as to timing etc. to “fulfill” the OT prophesies and descriptions of what he was about. You could say, some of that was added with time, but some was an integral part of Jesus. It could be that his life and message was as rudimentary as to appeal through the ages just like the description of creation - to be understood; but not understood in its core.

I guess we have to ask what the ultimate purpose of the Jewish Messiah and the second coming of Jesus were to accomplish. The Jews were looking for relief from their enemies which surrounded them on all sides (obviously, that didn’t happen); and we…what are we supposed to be looking for - surely not streets of gold and gates of pearls.; but immortality for sure. This puts a very secular emphasis on something that’s supposed to be spiritual. If all we want out of it is “to build a house and inhabit it”; and to be singing like the angels - without our physical infirmities, then that makes even our religious life based on secular values - which is something I have suspected for a long time.

(Elaine Nelson) #7

Never forget that the Gospel writers were NOT contemporary with Jesus but wrote at least a generation later and with the agenda of reinforcing within the Jewish and Christian community the divinity of Jesus and how he fulfilled OT prophecies. This is how we today use those same prophecies, both in the Old And New Testaments: as always relevant to our lives today. Thousands of years later (if there are still believing Christians) they will similarly be appropriating those same prophecies to themselves. If we accept the Bible as timeless and universal, we must eliminate any time-setting.

(Ron Corson) #8

It seems to me that there is really no reason to be overly concerned about what the OT says about a Second Coming or day of the Lord. After all there was practically nothing in the OT about life after death as well. The problem is the assumption that God has been saying the same thing to people from all time. Rather then accepting that God has to build upon what knowledge people have. So everything is a step by step process. Thus many of us say that this is progressive revelation.

Our other problem may be that we have thought that progressive revelation has to stop because the Biblical canon is closed. Not realizing that our interpretations can and do change as we grow and learn more and ultimately understand things differently. To think things don’t change would be to say that the New Testament was really just saying what the Old Testament said. But it is radically different. Do these radical differences continue or are they just a one time thing. History shows us that they change and they change radically, compare Puritans to Christians today or even middle age Christians to Puritans. The end of this journey may be nothing like we have expected, but our expectations and traditions may be one of the biggest problems of Christianity.

(Elaine Nelson) #9

“Freezing” interpretation of the Bible at the closing of the canon is to limit the Holy Spirit and claim that there is nothing more to learn than what was written in both Testaments. That is what has been done, and Christians are still refusing to accept that the Bible was written long ago by people who had an entirely different world view that cannot be changed regardless of how drastically the world has changed.

(Aage Rendalen) #10

As a person without faith, I’m constantly chagrined to see people even on this blog stay away from exegetical issues in favor of letting the creed determine what the Bible says. I don’t believe that God infused his ‘spirit’ in the 66 texts that make up the Bible, but it’s a fascinating collection of writings and worthy of study.

A couple of things. First of all, Jesus appears on the scene as an amplifier of John the Baptist’s message that the Day of the Lord is at hand. What we call the second coming, to Jesus was a “first” coming of the Lord, and I wonder what exegetical support you have for thinking that Jesus (as opposed to Luke in Acts) thought that the coming champion of Judaism, the son of man, was talking about him? That’s an assumption we make. What evidence is there that Jesus shared it?

Secondly, the concept of the Day of the Lord seems to focus on one of the key differences between Judaism and Christianity. While Christianity has a Savior from sin, Judaism has a champion who’ll restore Jewish fortunes. Judaism has no doctrine of the Fall, and any observant Jew can call on God in his own name. The crisis in 1st century Judaism was not a sense of unresolved sin, but of lost fortunes, of temple and people being trampled on by the ‘little horn’ of Daniel (to which Jesus makes reference).

(Yoyo7th) #11


You covered several points here. Good for you!
I saw the same thing about the problem with the lessons being doctrinal damage control measures. and agree with Sirje on the clichés and superficiality of contemporary teaching approaches. We had LAW to counter the antinomians who stigmatize SDA as legalists, Sabbath to counter the SUNday/Lord’s Day crowd, Annihilation to counter the eternal hell, resurrection to counter the beam me up Jesus when I die, and now the 2nd coming to counter the rapture.

.I wonder how many SDA would suffer from adrenaline withdrawals if they kicked the death decree/time of trouble paranoia focus/emphasis.

(Steve Mga) #12

Aage – Are you thinking of the statements of Jesus when He says “the kingdom is here”, “the kingdom is near you”, “the kingdom is in you”? And, “Your Will be done on Earth as Your Will is done in Heaven”?

The other Friday night I had a new thought about Mount Sinai as I was reading at Synagogue. God was in Mt Sinai until the Tabernacle was constructed. THEN Mt Sinai moved to the Tabernacle and the Israelites carried Mt Sinai around with them for 40 years. Mt Sinai was deposited in the new land when they found its permanent home. Later, King David MOVED Mt Sinai to Jerusalem [recall his “horrid” dancing event]. When the Babylonians came Jeremiah Hid Mt Sinai.
WAS Jesus the now, living and breathing Mt Sinai? As one reads the “day of the Lord” is IT literal?, figuratively Spiritual?, perhaps both? AND, is it BOTH present AND future at the same time?
IS the “day of the Lord” relational, or some glorious thing we have to wait for in the future? OR, is IT Both?

(Aage Rendalen) #13

Steve, what I was referring to is that the Synoptic Jesus does not say that his ministry is the First Coming of the Messiah. What Christians call the Second Coming–the return of Jesus in glory as an avenger and a restorer, Jesus would have called the First Coming. At least, that’s my take on the synoptic gospels. Jesus talks about a character called The Son of Man (from Dan 7) to be sent by God to restore the fallen house of David. My question to the revered doc was, what evidence is there that Jesus was talking about himself rather than another person entirely. The Son of Man character, the Avenger of all things Jewish, is featured in both Daniel and the Book of Enoch and must have been familiar to most Jews caught up in the eschatologicial movements of the 1st century. We take it for granted that Jesus was talking about himself, a thing I find very unlikely. In context, Jesus never says that you people, you just wait until I’m dead and resurrected, then I’ll come back and exact revenge on the enemies of God. He speaks as if the Day of Lord is at hand and that his role is, like that of John the Baptist, to prepare the people for this event by a revival of ‘primitive godliness.’ What his role would be, beyond this, he seems to have left undefined.

It’s clear that Christians, writing about the life of Jesus a couple of generations later, and against the backdrop of his unexpected death, did develop the concept of the Second Coming. We have disciples asking him if he is the Messiah–the Avenger–and we hear them bickering about their prominence in the kingdom to come, but to me these are anachronisms, the beliefs of later generations being retrofitted to the gospel narrative. This process of morphing Jesus of Nazareth into the Christ of theology reached its apex in the Gospel of John, where Jesus no longer is either a man or a Jew, but God come to Earth disguised that way.

So what I’m looking for are direct quotes from Jesus in which he says that the Messiah, the Son of Man, the celestial Avenger is indeed him.

As for your theory of God already among us, that is what John’s gospel (chapter 1:14) says: he ‘tabernackled’ among us ( ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν). And John is the only Gospel that says that his presence will abide among men through his invisible replacement, the Comforter.

(Rheticus) #14

It is refreshing to see an well-respected Adventist theologian point out the changes in detail and interpretation in this space as one goes from the older parts of the OT, to the newer, and on into the NT.

There is no reason to suppose this need to move away from earlier thoughts suddenly stopped with the Canon. The Canon was frozen to stop people writing it to suit themselves, but that doesn’t mean that the current interpretation was correct.

(Steve Mga) #15

I took a Jewish friend to Rosh Hashanah services this morning at the Synagogue.
Perhaps a portion of reading would explain the Old Testament view, or thought about a 'New Earth".
It printed an old Hasidic Tale.
Once the Baal Shem Tou became so depressed that he thought, “I have no share in the world to come.” And then he said to himself, “If I love God, what need have I of Paradise?”

So perhaps this is REALLY the theme of the Old Testament — If I love God, what need have I of Paradise?

(Elaine Nelson) #16

The Hebrew Bible makes no direct reference to a postmortem heaven for the righteous; heaven was Yahweh’s home and never open to humans.

Not until later in Judaism was there ever a belief in an afterlife or some place for them after death. During the postexile period Jewish devotional literature posits a clear dualism: “the world to come” and “this world.” From this beginning, heaven took shape for Christians. The Jewish martyrs during the war of the Maccabees developed the concept of the resurrection of the righteous.

Interpreting and misusing the Hebrew prophets as foretelling later Christian doctrine has become too common and misleads believers.

(Heimo Ernst Weiss) #17

“The message for our day is clear. Be prepared. You don’t need any end-time charts. Jesus could come today”

It’s not to long that I understood that Jesus (most probably) emphasized the fact that he will come “suddenly” and not “soon”. Most if not all his parables concerning the second coming are easy to understand in this way. And it’s a warning that despite all “signs” he will surprise even (most if not all of) his followers…

Thanks for your article.

(SurprisedByGrace) #18

For years now I have seen what Alden speaks of about the sun, moon and stars, especially in the context of a global affected event just at the time of Jesus’ return. The glory of His coming, I would suggest, cause the great earthquake, Sun going dark, moon turning to blood, and the stars start falling. I thought we were stuck between verses 13 & 14 in Revelation 6, but now feel we have not entered that seal at all, but are still in seal five.

(Tomasz Ostrowski) #19


I understand that you are looking for confirmation of Jesus authenticity in synoptic gospels…

You were asking for texts about Jesus confirms His authenticity: Mat 16, 13-23. There is talk about who Jesus is, and Jesus confirms what Peter said. Also he confirms His death (3 days) and resurrection. You find this story in other gospels

Second coming: Mat 24 (especially verse 39, where Jesus refers to His coming. It’s obvious that he must talk about second coming if disciples were asking at Jesus’ present time about the future). Other synoptic gospels are talking about that as well.

In book of Acts angels confirms Jesus’ coming again.

So if we agree that Jesus is a Messiah, Son of Man, King of Jews - all these phrases Jesus confirmed, than we need to assume that when He was on Earth that was His first coming.

About His promise of second coming… Peter (His apostle) and Paul (also chosen one) were talking about this Jesus and His coming and reward for all humanity. The same Peter who believes that Jesus is the Messiah.

I don;t know whether this is what you were asking, but this is what I understood :wink:

(Frankmer7) #20


I would not divorce the crisis of 1st c. Judaism from a sense of unresolved sin, as you put it. The captivity that began in Babylon centuries earlier, was still viewed as ongoing, albeit in the homeland under Roman rule. Judah was still not free, still not the head of the nations. The reason was seen as her unfaithfulness to Torah, i.e., their sin. It was, as far as they were concerned, what got them into trouble to begin with, and what kept them there. Hence the rise of the hasidim, and the schools of codifying and applying the law to daily life.

In Jewish thought, it was the occupation with Torah that was the antidote to sin, personally and corporately. And this had national ramifications, hence the idea that if Israel were to keep the Torah perfectly for two Sabbaths running, then Messiah would come… the idea being that the fulfillment of the kingdom and all their nationalistic dreams would then be realized. A sense of unresolved sin was thus a corollary to their predicament.

This could also help somewhat explain the violent reaction to Jesus, and to his followers. Sin also took into account the association with, “sinners,” the undesirables in their midst that were keeping the nation hostage. Thus, the motley crew that Jesus freely associated with, along with his subversion of tradition and ritual, was seen as the condoning of sin…nothing less. Such would invite YHWH’s disfavor, if tolerated. This helps explain the murderous rampage of Saul of Tarsus, a religious terrorist bent on purifying the nation. Ramp that up to the later acceptance by the post resurrection church of uncircumcised Gentiles, led ironically by Paul, and one can understand how Judaism saw this as a moral threat that must be stopped.

This is why Paul says in Galatians, in response to the charge that Jesus the Messiah promoted sin, “If I rebuilt what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.” IOW, if I erect again the barriers between Jew and Gentile, man and woman, slave and free, my entire former way of seeing the world that I recited with the shema as necessary to my and my nation’s identity, then I am promoting sin. With this undersranding, the concept of sin was being turned on its head by the early Christians. The exclusiveness that was being practiced in the name of holiness was now being called anything but. Sin, through the followers of Jesus, was not being introduced as an unthought of concern into the Jewish landscape. It was now being radicalized and redefined. Hence, the idea of its universality through the fall, and its existence as a power that keeps people in bondage that even strict Torah observance could not resolve.

Christ Jesus, and being born to a new life in him, was now seen as the solution, with far wider, deeper, and longer lasting implications than the restoring of Judah’s national fortunes.