For the Record
As a Christian that has come out of nominalism, legalism, Arminianism, mild anti-nomianism, premillennialism, and an anti-theonomic system, I can see the errors I have made, and how I wrongly treated those that disagreed with me. I see the same thing being done against those of us who would hold to post-millennialism, partial preterism, or theonomy. Hardly are we ever allowed to explain what we believe, since others feel the need to do so for us, nor are we ever quoted or done so in context. We are told that we are not exegetical, that we twist Scripture (even to our own destruction), and that we believe that the works of man bring about the kingdom of God. These three things are far from the truth about what I believe, and I would even propose that my position compared to all others is the closest to being exegetical, untwisting texts that most Christians today have twisted, and puts more emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of man and the world, than all other eschatological positions. This is my indictment against the church today: if we’re going to claim to be exegetical, then let’s be exegetical.
After reading A.W. Pink’s “Interpretation of the Scriptures”, I wrote a short essay explaining the importance of hermeneutics, giving several examples of it’s neglect today. For the record, we are exegetical, among so many that are not. Premillennialists so often pose to be exegetical, claiming that their position is the most biblical and crystal clear position. John MacArthur has stated,
We can take prophetic Scripture at face value. We can interpret it the way we interpret any other passage of Scripture with the same use of the normal, natural means of interpreting language. And we should. And it will yield for us as clear an understanding of the future as the Lord wants us to have. It’s not nearly as difficult as some people make it if you just take Scripture at face value.
Normal, natural, literal interpretation is the only way to stop abuse of Scripture. As soon as you abandon that, then it’s fair game for anybody’s craziness. If we’re going to change the rules then, may I suggest this…and this is what I told the pastors. If we’re going to change the rules, then we better have a Word from God. There should be a footnote in the chapter saying, “Please note, here comes a prophetic text, change the rules.” We really need a divine mandate because I think God cares that we get it right. Would you agree? I think He cares that we get it right, that’s why He wrote it and I think He understand that His glory is at stake and our hope and comfort is at stake and the evidence of God’s massive moving in history is at stake with regard to the future. He wants us to get it right, that’s why He put it in the Scripture and the Scripture is replete with it. So if we’re going to change the rules of interpretation to inject in to Scripture a preconceived idea or to avoid what is obvious, we better be sure that we have a word from God.
This is coming from a pre-millennialist. The issue is not whether we want to properly interpret Scripture, nor is it about not using natural language, instead it is about proper hermeneutics, something only partially applied by the church. When Calvinists explain the importance of letting Scripture define what “world” means, then hermeneutics is important. However, when it comes to letting Scripture define what “coming on the clouds of heaven” and “this generation will not pass” means, then this hermeneutical principle is taken off the table and locked in the “Thou shall not consider” box. Any other objection is not a literal interpretation, and therefore wrong.
Now, this essay is rather lengthy, and I apologize if it begins to bore. However, I believe lengthy discussion is something that partial preterists today would cherish in the realm of theological discussion.
“The proper interpretation of Scripture is a science that has been almost completely lost in America’s mainstream brand of Christianity. However, proper interpretation and the fear of misinterpreting Scripture is a growing movement today. With the rise of Calvinism, men have seen the history of improperly reading Scripture, and the importance of context and hermeneutical principles. The rise of Calvinism itself is due to the discovery of proper biblical interpretation. History and biblical interpretation are so closely linked that I would suggest that history is decided by the interpretation of Scripture that the church in a nation, family, and the world hold to. The Great Commission and the duty to be a light unto the world starts with biblical interpretation, thus magnifying the importance and danger of negating the need to be understood. If the church interprets the Great Commission as being fulfilled already and only being applicable to the disciples, then no evangelism will take place. If the church interprets homosexuality to be acceptable in the eyes of God, then God’s judgment will surely fall on a nation. If the church interprets the words of Christ as Him being an angel, not God, then how can the power, victory, substitution and dominion of Christ be real?
Pink makes so very important statements about biblical interpretation that the church could benefit from today. He points out the need to allow Scripture to define terms, how certain passages are abused and misinterpreted to prop up a false view of anthropology, and how comparing Scripture with the rest of Scripture being a long neglected principle, leading to doctrines such as dispensationalism.
One principle that must be on the front of biblical interpretation is how the Bible defines logic and reason. Many times we can try and cram a biblical passage that seems to suggest something illogical into a logical, linear framework. For example, the Bible teaches the absolute control of God in all things, but also that men make choices and decisions. God has predestined all things, those who would be saved from His wrath and those who would suffer His wrath in hell, but He also has declared that we have a responsibility to repent and He judges those who do not. It may seem contrary to our legal system in America that no man can be culpable if he has no say in what happens. However, the Scriptures present the doctrine that God has predetermined everything and that men do exactly what they want to do. This is one reason that Christians reject Calvinism and what it teaches about God’s eternal decrees. There is nothing illogical about men being judged and held accountable for their thoughts and actions. If God determines our thoughts and actions, who is to question Him otherwise? Who is the one to tell God that He cannot form our hearts and use us as vessels for destruction? The Creator and creation relationship must be recognized in order to understand this.
In Romans 9 Paul defends God actions to do what He wants, against those that would object to this predestination and absolute sovereignty. Many times Christians will object, verbatim, exactly what Paul says in Romans 9. R.J. Rushdoony points out the usurping of God as being the center issue of how one examines history.
“The only alternative to the doctrine of predestination is the assertion of the reign of total chance, of meaninglessness and brute factuality. The real issue is, what kind of predestination we shall have, predestination by God or predestination by man? Shall we accept God’s eternal decree, His total planning, or will we submit to man’s rule over all creation?”, R.J. Rushdoony, “The Biblical Philosophy of History”, pg. 6
Our worldview, or way in which we understand the world and history, must be based on God’s sovereignty. Not one bird falls if it wasn’t by His will (Matthew 10:29). Not one nation is judged unless the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6). There is no logical contradiction between man’s ability to choose and God’s absolute sovereignty and un-thwarted will. Scripture declares what is logical, while also dictating how man is held responsible.
A largely accepted error when interpreting the Scriptures is covenant discontinuity. This term is hardly used because it seems to suggest that something about God changed. Instead it is commonly expressed by stating, “That’s the Old Testament, so it doesn’t apply to us”. This is common of dispensationalism. The proof texts used by proponents of this discontinuity mention the law as being a guardian until Christ (Galatians 3:24), as if we no longer need the law for any reason whatsoever, abolished in Christ (Ephesians 2:15), and was no able to make anything perfect (Hebrews 7:19), then therefore is useless to us in the new covenant. All of these passages are true, but do not teach discontinuity. There are various passages that affirm the validity of God’s law today, even by Christ Himself (Matthew 5:17, Romans 2:13, 3:31, 7:12, 7:25, 8:7, 13:8,10, 1 Corinthians 13:34). Biblical passages do not have to state word for word a teaching. There is no passage that states, verbatim, “This is the Trinity….”, yet we know that the Trinity is the biblical teaching of the character of God. In Paul’s epistles he often quotes the law of God, from the Old Testament, as being applicable and valid still today.
“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.” 1 Corinthians 9:7-10
Paul calls on the authority and validity of God’s law in order to prove his God given right to be paid for his labor. If God’s law is no longer applicable to us today, since we are no longer under the law, then Paul would not have been correct in using God’s law to justify himself. This is the danger is not properly interpreting Scripture. The New Testament contains obvious, crystal clear passages that support the use and application of God’s law in the new covenant. The prophecy of the new covenant itself speaks of God’s people following His law.
“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:27
If the new covenant was not intended to have any rules, then Ezekiel’s prophecy was theologically incorrect.
Another important hermeneutic that is long forgotten is to let Scripture define and demonstrate how it uses words, phrases and concepts. For example, the word “world” is used in many different ways in the New Testament, often associated as a universal term to refer to all individuals on the planet. However, the word world is also used in reference to God’s enemies, or the system of the world that is opposed to God.
“”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
Here the word world is in reference to the current state of the creation; in rebellion to God. After the fall of man God cursed the creation, giving it over to the effects of sin, including rebellion and chaos. However, “world” is not always used the same way, as John demonstrates yet again another use of the word.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
Here the word refers to the Gentiles, not only because the context of this passage is that of Jesus correcting the Jews false understanding of the length of God’s redemption, but because John uses the word elsewhere in the same manner in reference to Greeks (John 12:19-20).
The word is again used in a way to describe the current system or nature of the creation. Christ describes the ruler of this world as being destroyed and usurped after His death (John 12:31). This use of the word, and the manner in which He uses the word, suggests that there will be a new world, a parallel to the new creation in which Christ will rule. The ruler of that world (a fallen one ruled by Satan) will be judged and destroyed to be replaced with a new world ruled by Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 15:25) This new world, or new creation, is the one we are in now. Christ is sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God, reigning in heaven and on earth, awaiting His enemies to be made His footstool. (Jude 1:25, Luke 1:33, Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 2:44)
Paul uses the same word (kosmos) to refer to the promise given to Abraham. Abraham was given a land promise to inherit the land of the Canaanites, and that he and his descendants would possess it forever. God also promised that his descendants would be numbered like the sands of the sea. Most scholars claim that this land promise was fulfilled, however the time span which Abraham’s descendants possess it and the statement made by Paul seem to suggest that this promise of land is much larger than what most Christian theologians postulate. Paul uses the word world in reference to this land.
“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” Romans 4:13
Paul does not use the traditional and normative word “land” that is used in relation to the promise given to Abraham. The very context and argument of Romans chapter 4 is arguing that the descendants of Abraham were still to inherit this promise, not having already received it. If notice is given to this passage of how Paul interprets the promise given to Abraham, simply by using the word “world” instead of “land” then there is a much deeper theological teaching that is to be discovered. For example Paul also speaks about the promise given to Abraham in his epistle to the Galatians.
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.” Galatians 3:16-19
The same doctrinal statement that Paul makes in Romans 4 is further explained and upheld in Galatians 3. Paul interprets the promise given to Abraham as being to Christ that we would share in being under the representation of the last Adam, and becoming His bride. Just as Adam and Eve were given the command to subdue the earth and have dominion, we as Christians are to do the same since Christ has brought the new heavens and earth, renewed by His blood. Because Christians often do not let Scripture define its own terms, this teaching has been often forgotten and neglected, while also remaining in ignorance of its implications to take dominion.
One hugely important hermeneutic that has led to so much discussion on eschatology, is the failure to let Scripture define Scripture. When we read in Matthew 24 of the coming of Christ, we must question whether or not this language of “coming” has been used elsewhere in Scripture. If the same language is used elsewhere, then we must go there to find the meaning that Jesus is portraying. If His audience has asked questions that seem to confirm and imply that they understand what He is talking about, then the same language is more than likely in the Old Testament, since the gospels give us many examples of His audience knowing exactly what Scripture He was speaking of. The Jews at that time knew the Old Testament much better than most Christians today do. The memorization of the Old Testament was an important and common thing in their culture.
There are several symbolic terms that are important to take notice of in Matthew 24. For example, coming, glory, sign, cloud, winds, and trumpet call. Premillennial dispensationalists are notorious for claiming that these things are to be taken literally. They claim that Christ will be on a literal cloud, visible descending in a physical body from the sky on clouds. However, as I have stated, before we take symbolic, apocalyptic language literally we must see if Scripture has spoken in this same way elsewhere.
The word “coming” is used dozens of times, most of them speaking of the coming of judgment or change. If I said, “I’m coming to your house” you would expect a physical appearance of me to be at your home. However, the Old Testament uses the word as being about metaphysical or changes of principle using symbolic language. For example, Jeremiah uses the word as describing days that are coming on earth.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” Jeremiah 31:31
However, Christ states that He (a person) would come, not a day. This use of the word is also present in Scripture.
“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.” Ezekiel 43:2
“For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.” Micah 1:3
“For thus the LORD said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the LORD of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill.” Isaiah 31:4
“”For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many.“ Isaiah 66:15-16
The word “coming” can be used in a way to not imply physical appearance, whether it be in blessing or judgment. The word cloud always represents the presence of God.
“And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.” Exodus 16:10
“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.” Exodus 34:5
The LORD’s coming on the clouds is not always a sign of judgment, but can also be of blessing. The cloud symbolism rather represents divine power and authority, thus when Jesus stated that He would appear on the clouds of heaven, He was claiming divine authority. The coming of Christ to bring a covenant lawsuit to Israel in AD 70 was indeed divine. The word “wind” is also used in the Old Testament.
“you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.” Isaiah 41:16
“Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors by the team at https://remnantkingcarpet.com/; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2:35
“Wind” tends to be used as representation of God’s wrath on His enemies, whether it is a literal wind, or a symbolic sign of destruction, such as in Daniel 2:35.
Finally, the word “trumpet” is also important to look at because it is another word that has connotations with the LORD. When the word is used it seems to represent a decree of God, or perhaps His presence, however it is also used in reference to war or military destruction. Exodus uses the word as being something that would cause the people to tremble in fear.
“God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.” Psalms 47:5
“All you inhabitants of the world, you who dwell on the earth, when a signal is raised on the mountains, look! When a trumpet is blown, hear!” Isaiah 18:4
“My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.” Jeremiah 4:19
The clearest passage of Scripture that uses “trumpet” as well as other words that seem to be verbatim Matthew 24 is Joel chapter 2. I strongly believe that Jesus uses Joel 2 as His outline for the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24), which should be noted that His entire audience knew exactly what He was talking about.
“Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. Fire devours before them, and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, and like war horses they run, like those assisting to Belmonth Racing. As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale. Like warriors they charge; like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way; they do not swerve from their paths. They do not jostle one another; each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted. They leap upon the city, they run upon the walls, they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it? “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”
Then the LORD became jealous for his land and had pity on his people. The LORD answered and said to his people, “Behold, I am sending to you grain, wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations. I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things. “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Fear not, you beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and vine give their full yield. “Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.”
Everything mentioned in this passage has occurred between the death of Christ and AD 70. The symbolism used to describe God’s judgment is also used in Matthew 24, which both represent military destruction. God used the Romans to siege Jerusalem, just as He used Cyrus (Isa 45). Peter quotes from Joel 2 on the day of Pentecost, proclaiming the fulfillment of this prophecy. The events recorded in Matthew 24 occurred after Pentecost, making Joel chapter 2 appear to be a chronological account.
This is the importance of properly interpreting Scripture with Scripture. As soon as we begin to let our own thoughts and opinions dictate the original intent of the author, we delve into error and possibly heresy. I also will like to give a last recommendation, I have been getting the best tips for free ingame skins from Proskins, and I think everyine should get their hands on them.