Why we misunderstand the end times:
1. We interpret scriptures without taking cognizance it was written by Jews and interpret it as if it was speaking to us.
For example. We forget it is a Jewish concept at the time the gospels were written that God lived in a house call the Temple was Jesus is alive. Hence that place is call “heaven” and the priest served him in a place call “earth”. Hence the temple was called “heaven and earth”.
Hence when the Bible speaks about the end of heavens and earth, it speaks about the destruction of the temple. Not the end of the world.
2. Total disregard of the Old Testament.
I was told when I was young that the locusts that appeared in Revelation was helicopters.
I was also told that the sun will turn dark and the moon will turn red.
And a trumpet shall sound.
The truth is that Jesus is quoting Joel’s prophecy in Joel 2.
Joel 2 starts with a trumpet blast shall sound. It is a warning about an army which resembles the locusts. It is Rome.
The sun, moon and the stars is also mention there. It is simple Israel not the actual solar system. In Joseph’s dream Jacob was the sun, Leah the moon and the 11 stars his brothers. It simply means Israel was about to end. That happen in AD70.
3. A failure to understand the language of Scripture.
The Bible does not speak about the end of the world. This is a mistranslation by the King James Version.
The NIV gets it correct. It is the end of the age. To be more precise, it is the end of the age of the old covenant.
God is called the king of the ages and lives from Age to age.
Hebrews in chapter 6 speaks about an age to come. It does not speak about the end of the world. It is the mad preachers that speak about doom and gloom who tells you that.
After all how are you going to inherit the earth when the earth is destroyed?
4. Bad media.
Really is the world becoming a more evil place?
Seriously we have advanced to be globally more civilised world haven’t we?
In the days of the past, people will just kill you for speaking bad about them.
In Jesus’s days women are considered outcasts of their husbands died. Remember how they treated the woman who was caught in adultery. Today we are much more decent.
Seriously if you feel that the world has become a more evil place, would you like to lived in the age of Abraham where people just take your wife as they like?
The problem is the media and the preachers. Every time something bad happens we attach an “end time” verse to it without care of context to it.
5. No idea of audience relevance.
One of the bad habits that Christians have is always taking a verse out of its context. One of the reasons the book of Acts is placed before the epistles is because Jerome wanted all of us to know what happened to the apostles first before you know why they wrote those letters.
Hence the letters there must be interpreted in accordance to the events which were happened in the book of Acts.
So the question here is this. What is the “judgement that was eating the enemies of God” and “fiery indignation” referred in Hebrews 10?
Why did he ask the Jews to go outside Jerusalem? Why did he speak about the saints in the past looking for a city in the sky?
Who did he speak of as “together with us?” It was the believing Jews. They were told to leave the earthily Jerusalem then.
This runs well with Jesus’s warning to the Jews to leave Jerusalem as Jerusalem is about to end its reign as the holy city of God.
The reason for this is that Rome was about to invade Jerusalem. This line of understanding fits like a glove towards what is spoken in Revelation.
Jesus spoke about his coming as imminent. In fact be said “it was about to take place”.
Revelation in fact centers a theme of how the old Jerusalem is being replaced and that they were waiting for a new Jerusalem. This too is the theme of the book of Hebrews.
It is also the theme of the 4 gospels as well. So Revelation in fact was written to tell the Jews to leave Jerusalem. 144,000 did.
6. Refusal to use outside sources to interpret scriptures.
The were documents which had described what had happened in AD70. One of the best books to use is Josephus’ work on the Jewish wars.
Language is a funny thing, it evolves through time. Today a mouse is a computer pointer. In the past it is a rodent. Tell them about a tiger they would think it plays golf.
In fact if you are an Englishman, you would tell me to love with my heart. If you are a Malay man you would tell to love with my liver.
Hence the customs and cultural background of peoples at that time is important to interpreting the Bible.
7. They can’t wait for answer before asking another question.
Having dealt with this issue for some time, I had realized the intention is not to learn but to mock.
I had a person asked me “if Jesus had returned where is he? I would like to meet him”.
He seems to forget that Jesus told Philip that “my father and I will make our home in you”. That he says its soon too.
I became a partial Preterist, not by compulsion but by revelation. It took me a whole year before I realized what was prophesied has come true.
Hence you can’t expect to know everything in hours or even in days.
8. A failure to consider the writings of Josephus.
Josephus was a Jewish historian who witnessed the execution of the Jews by the Roman onslaught.
I have been telling people that ” heaven and earth” is the Old Temple and that we are the new. Yet many will still chose to consider the words “heaven and earth” to be a literal Heaven and literal earth.
Hence when the book of Revelation tells us that there is no more sea, they would chose to understand as no more sea.
It does not mean that. Let’s look at what he wrote.
“However, this proportion of the measures of the tabernacle proved to be an imitation of the system of the world: for that third part thereof which was within the four pillars, to which the priests were not admitted, is, as it were, a Heaven peculiar to God…” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 123).
“When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests as a place accessible to the common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men” Josephus, Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 7, Paragraph 7, Section 181).
Josephus is portraying the first century Jewish understanding of “heaven and earth” in these writings.
He is describing how the Jews looked upon their place of worship in the Mosaic Tabernacle and later in the Temple as “a heaven and earth.”
They believed that their Temple was at the very center of the earth, and saw it as the place where heaven and earth came together, and where God met man. In the quotes just made from Josephus, he calls the outer part of the tabernacle “an imitation of the system of the world” and the “sea and land, on which men live.”
By contrast, the inner Holy of Holies he terms “heaven peculiar to God.” There was a fabric veil that separated these two compartments in the Tabernacle and the Temple, which he describes as being “very ornamental, and embroidered with all sorts of flowers which the earth produces.” This last quote is found in Antiquities, Book 3, Chapter 6, Paragraph 4, Section 126.
C.H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) in a message he once delivered (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 37, Page 354), made the following statement about “heaven and earth” as used in the Scriptures: “Did you ever regret the absence of the burnt-offering, or the red heifer, of any one of the sacrifices and rites of the Jews?
Did you ever pine for the feast of tabernacle, or the dedication? No, because, though these were like the old heavens and earth to the Jewish believers, they have passed away, and now we live under the new heavens and a new earth, so far as the dispensation of divine teaching is concerned. The substance is come, and the shadow has gone: and we do not remember it.”
Jessie E. Mills, Jr., Ph.D., writes in his work entitled, Revelation Survey and Research, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away,” Matt. 24:35. Thus the heaven and earth here represented the fall of Jewish power, so also in Matt. 24:29, where the symbols of the sun, moon, and stars is used to denote the rulers of Israel. Note this fall would occur at the advent of Christ.”
Hence when the Bible speaks about there being “no more sea” it is actually saying there is no more “outer court” for the common people to come. This is because we all have been made royal priests.
This is because we are now the new Temple. We are the “new heaven and new earth”.
9. A failure to understand apocalyptic language.
We don’t interpret poetry the way we interpret factual statements. Similarly imagine putting a statue or a piece of legislation in music form.
Because poetry is the language of the heart and factual statements is the language of the mind.
Hence when you read the prophecy of the “end days” there is a need to understand there are pictures and codes involved.
When people read Peter’s account of how the heavens will be consumed by fire they think that the world will be destroyed by fire.
Then after this God will restore a new heaven and earth. Like a reset button.
That’s not true. I found this interesting note. This clearly shows us what it really is talking about.
“Continuing our study of the 2 Peter 3:10–13 passage, verse twelve reads, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”
Aside from this being a great example of “prophetic language,” we must pay close attention to the Greek words that Peter uses as they are of utmost importance in understanding what it is he is saying.
“Looking” is the word “prosdokao” which means fervent, expecting and anticipating, while the word “hasting” is “speudo” meaning speeding, or eagerness.
Both of these words apply to the coming of the day of God (the Parousia or so-called Second Coming or advent of Christ) which is the Greek word “parousia” meaning presence, coming or advent. Peter uses “prosdokao” three times in this chapter in verses twelve, thirteen and fourteen.
Peter is declaring that the believers to whom he was writing were looking (expecting) and hastening the day of the Lord in their lifetime, for the end of all Jewish things (the Old Covenant) was at hand! “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
In 2 Peter 3:13 (part of our passage under consideration), Peter writes, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
Many of you who are reading this verse are more than likely thinking, O.K. explain your way out of that statement! There are two keys to understanding this verse. Peter is stating that the Christians to whom he is writing expected a new heaven and a new earth. But let us look closely at the Greek word he uses which is translated “new.”
There are two words translated “new” in the New Testament. Those words are “neos” and “kainos.” “Neos” means new in time, something that has never been before, or that which has recently come into existence/what has only just now arisen or appeared.
“Kainos” means new in quality/nature, not in time, different from what is old/distinctive as compared with other things different from the usual, better than the old, superior in value or attraction. The word Peter uses in this verse is “kainos.”
If Peter meant that God was going to physically destroy the physical heavens and earth and create a replacement, Peter would have used the word “neos!”
The new heavens and new earth Peter writes about are an echo from Isaiah sixty-five and sixty-six. In those chapters we read where God will pour out His wrath on Jerusalem (which fact happened in AD 70) and on His rebellious people before He creates (spiritually, not physically) the new heavens and new earth.
In the New Jerusalem of the new heavens and new earth, physical death will remain (Isa.65:20; 66:24) home building and agriculture will continue (Isa.65:21–22) there will be descendants (Isa.65:23; 66:22), there will be a new priestly group (Isa.65:24 which is describing the believer church – which we believing Christians are! (see 1 Peter 2:9).
10. We think there is hence nothing to look forward to.
This is usually the reaction of believers when you tell them the “end times” are behind you.
They will say then “what is there to look forward to?”
My answer is simple. The rapture is not the hope of glory. Christ is and you are his new abode. He came back in AD70 and he never left. He is in you.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live."
"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
"But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And WE ARE HIS HOUSE, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory."
1 Peter 2:4-5
"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into A SPIRITUAL HOUSE to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
You are his house.
It is because we think it’s all in the future. So we waste our lives looking for a better future that is to come. We do not live out our full potential of what we have been given or exercise the gifts we have been given.
God brought heaven down to us so that we can bring heaven to others. Yet we become beings who wait for that to happen. Isn’t it sad when we are swans wanting to be ducks?
I hope that changes the way you think about yourself and what you have been missing.
by Simon Yap
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