The Pattern Language Of Scripture
And Specifics Too
Jesus and Paul didn't even care about all our crazy modern theories regarding the end times. Their background was the Old Testament. They could see God's pattern language in Noah's fourty days and fourty nights, the Passover, and Jezebel's persecution. But the Jewish understanding of the end times really revolved around the prophesies in the book of Daniel.
Daniel, then, reinforces the clear pattern language of scripture - how God's people pass through persecution so that a Godly remnant may be purified and ultimately delivered. The idea of escaping the entire process is the exact opposite of what we see in the pattern language of scripture. Then, too, Jesus refers directly to specifics we see in Daniel - which he specifically commands us to take to heart so that we will know what to do. Some people feel they can safely ignore Jesus' teaching from Daniel. Needless to say, that is extremely unwise.
The First Religious Persecutions In History
There are three times, in the Old Testament, where evil forces try to completely destroy the Jewish Faith. The first occurred when Jezebel tried to replace the worship of Yahweh with idolatrous Baal worship. The second occurred when the Persians were in power. Haman, a descendent of Israel's ancient foe, the Amelekites, initiated the first Pogrom - the first effort to exterminate the Jewish race. God uses Esther to deliver them after they humble themselves in sackcloth and ashes. But now the Persians had been defeated by Alexander The Great. Alexander's empire was divided up among his generals. And the evil king of the Seleucids - the Syrian portion of the Greek empire - attempted to force Greek culture ("Hellenize") on the Jewish People. Had he succeeded, Jesus could never have come as the Messiah.
I began this writing on Hannukah - which is appropriate since Hannukah is a celebration of the Jewish victory over the Greeks. You might recall that Alexander The Great cut the Persian empire to pieces. The movie "300" shows how skilled the Greek soldiers were. A small Greek force could often defeat a vastly larger Persian force. But even though the Jews had no swords or armour, they defeated one Greek army after another. Only the divine power of God can explain how the Jews were able to do this.
The Greeks had totally defiled the temple. After the Greeks were soundly defeated, the Jews rededicated the temple. The myth of a miraculous provision of oil in the lamp at the dedication is a distraction. The real miracle is that God gave the Jews the ability to defeat the mightiest military force in the world - even though they had nothing with which to fight them. The Jewish/Roman historian Josephus gives us an excellant account of these events.
One thing we see is that God's people were tortured horrendously, or killed - unless they escaped to places of refuge in the caves and in the wilderness. (This is the SAME PICTURE we've seen before). Read Hebrews 11 as it recounts their heroism.
The Prophet Daniel
Daniel's prophesy foretells all these events in prophetic form. The apocraphal book 1 Macabbees tells the same events as a history. You can find this book in a Catholic Bible or online. When Daniel speaks of "The King Of The South" - that is the king of the Greek Ptolmaic kingdom of Egypt. When he refers to "The King Of The North" he is referring to the Greek Seleucid kingdom in Syria. And the evil "antichrist" king who tries to destroy the Jewish faith is Antiochus IV "Epiphanes" (pretentiously named "god manifest").
When the Greeks set up an idol in the temple of God in Jerusalem, this is "the abomination which causes desolation" which Jesus referred to.
So Daniel's prophesy has an immediate fulfillment in the Greek ******* on the Jewish faith. Then Jesus refers to it. And HIS words have an immediate fulfillment when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD. But there are distinctive elements in what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 which point to yet another fulfillment at the "end of the age" - during the "Great Tribulation" He predicts. It is in THAT context that Jesus refers to "the abomination which causes desolation" - and asks us specifically to ponder on this prophesy from the book of Daniel. This is no matter of "curiosity". This is a command to US since WE, the church, will need to know how to react when these things occur. The Jewish Christians obeyed what Jesus taught, in 70 AD, fled Jerusalem, and were preserved in a wilderness refuge.
This Familiar Pattern Is Repeated
This very familiar pattern is repeated yet again. God's people are confronted by an evil "antichrist" force. They are fiercely persecuted. They are preserved from God's wrath (IF they obey), and are eventually delivered. The enemy has his "fifteen minutes of fame", and God's Kingdom endures FOREVER.
The fact that Jesus, speaking to the apostolic leadership of the church says, "When YOU see the abomination which causes desolation . . " should, of course, make it plain that this is for us. But evil false teachers, parading as "conservatives", have rejected Jesus' teachings and claim, pathetically, that they are meant for a second group of believers which they call "Israel" - even though Paul specifically calls the church "The Israel Of God" (Galatians 6:15) while forcefully teaching that there is one gospel and one people of God - the Church.
Now what Jesus spoke is all spoken to the apostles during the church age. And Paul teaches that Jew and Gentile are ONE - in the CHURCH. There are NOT two gospels - but one only. And the apostles experienced these things, themselves, in THEIR day. Paul's life was a very literal fulfillment of the details Jesus taught. But because these false teachers, who call themselves "Dispensationalists", have gotten their teachings into the Schofield Bible, and in the seminaries, they actively persecute believers who take Jesus' words to heart. They don't just reject Jesus' "Mt Olivet" discourse, in Matthew 24. They also reject the "Sermon On The Mount", in Matthew 5-7. By actively persecuting those to desire to listen to, and obey, Jesus' words, they condemn themselves.
The One Who Holds Back The Antichrist
Since there's not one passage of scripture that plainly teaches what they teach, and there is a vast body of scripture that says there is one gospel and one people of God, they latch onto mysterious scriptures and read between the lines.
A favorite is in 2 Thessalonians where Paul says, "And you know what restrains" the antichrist. He reminds them that he taught on the topic, in detail, when he was there. So since we cannot know, for sure, exactly what Paul had previously said, they use this to launch off into la la land.
Though we cannot know for sure, it's very likely that the "restrainer" Paul taught on, as he taught on the end times through the prophet Daniel, is the same "restrainer" we see there. In Daniel 10 and 12 Daniel learns that the Archangel Michael, the defender of God's people, held back "The Prince Of Persia" - a demonic force behind the antichrist ********. There is no doubt that this would be an accurate teaching. And it would have been how the apostles applied it. So it is certainly biblical to see the POLITICAL events on earth as being reflective of how angelic forces restrain the demonic element on this earth - and hold it back until GOD should allow us to briefly suffer intense persecution.
One very good reason to focus on Daniel as the potential biblical source for Paul's teaching is that the book of Daniel gives us the ONLY DETAILED OLD TESTAMENT TEACHING ON THE LAST DAYS. Yes, you see the events of the last days in the Passover events, which we can read in the book of Exodus. We see details in Jezebel's persecution (especially concerning Elijah and being preserved during fierce persecution). All of these things clearly point to the church being tested and purified in fiery trials. But the events of which we read in the book of Daniel stand head and shoulders above all other biblical teaching in terms of the DETAILS of the end times. So it would almost be surprising if Paul would have looked elsewhere. And the nutty ideas they pull out of thin air, which flatly contradict scripture, are written between the lines of 2 Thes 2:6 - but only in their imagination. False teachers often reject plain biblical teaching for mysterious passages such as this - which they then twist for their purposes.
Hebrews 11 And The Book Of Daniel
Hebrews 11 expains how living faith in God is demonstrated as believers are fiercely persecuted on this earth. Since the Jews lived in caves and desolate places, during the era Daniel foretells, we see how strongly true apostolic teaching makes us strong for the end times.
The Jewish believers who stayed true to God, "of whom the world was not worthy" are lauded as heroic in their steadfast faith. Not only that but it talks about believers - like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - who passed through the flames BY FAITH. And when they came out, THEY DIDN'T EVEN SMELL LIKE SMOKE. They were fresh and pure as if they had romped in the fresh air of a meadow!
The last chapter of God's Great Story will be equally GLORIOUS, as mighty miracles are done BY THE CHURCH. God will miraculously preserve a people who he will "gather from the four winds of heaven" in a triumphant "rapture" (catching up) when we meet Jesus in the clouds of glory. This is the First Resurrection - when the dead in Christ will be raised and join those of us who remain. And the heroism of those who do suffer persecution and even martyrdom is not something to be dreaded, but to celebrate - as we see in Hebrews 11.
God's Pattern Language Is His Clearest Teaching
So all the amazing stories we read in the Old Testament show the SAME PATTERN, repeated over and over again. The thing about God's "pattern language" is that it is RICHLY REINFORCED by the basic teachings of Jesus and the apostles.
Paul says, "Through many TRIBULATIONS we enter the Kingdom Of God". He taught ALL NIGHT LONG on that topic - from Daniel, no doubt, and all the other stories of scripture. Jesus teaches us over and over again that we will be fiercely persecuted by the world. He tells us that unless we take up our crosses and follow Him we CANNOT BE HIS DISCIPLES.
And phony "conservative" teachers come along - feeding on the fears and cowardice of the worldly among us - and say: "Forget all that. Forget all the Old Testament stories. Even though everything you read in scripture says we will suffer persecution. We're telling you that you get to FLY AWAY before the bad stuff hits. So enjoy yourselves with the sweet comfort that the fat, cowardly church will not require the purification of persecution or tribulation. You'll be watching an NFL game and stuffing your face and - BAM - you'll be gone!"
I don't think so.
I trust Jesus and the apostles much, much more than these imaginative fellows and their movies.
It is God's pattern language that paints the picture. But it is the clear teaching of Jesus and the apostles which so strongly
reinforces it. Jesus plainly says there will not be a secret coming, but that "as the lightening shines from the east and unto the west, so will be the coming of the Son Of Man". When that LAST TRUMPET SOUNDS, the dead in Christ will be raised, and every knee on earth will be forced to bow. Because our "Blessed Hope" is the GLORIOUS APPEARING of our Great God and and Savior, Jesus. (Titus 2:12,13).
And that's a fact, no matter what TV preachers tell you as they try to raise money for their faltering ministries.
Focus On God's Glorious Truth
Watch how you treat other Christians as you discuss this. Most believers do not read the bible much - if at all. That's a "left brain" thing - and our left brains have shrunk to the size of a peanut.
Most believers watch TV and movies - or listen to preaching. That's a right brain thing, in practice, for most of them. So it will give them physical pain and discomfort to try to think about these things. You must speak to their hearts and help them to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit and a Baptism of Fire - in the Spirit - which will purify their hearts.
As they read the bible, they will also experience some discomfort - unless they have experience a "Baptism Of Fire" in the Holy Spirit. Not only is such study a "left brain" thing - and intensely uncomfortable for them. But what they do read will contradict most of what they believe and feel. So the first thing they will learn is that "everything they know is incorrect". Their spiritual teeth are rotten from all the candy the TV preachers have been feeding them. So they cannot feed on meat. They will need milk . . and . . uh . . . dentures.
So we must not haggle over the details of end time teaching. If a believer is willing to follow the pattern language of scripture, suffer patiently in persecution - as most of the church is doing even now - and endure to the end - PRAISE GOD.
The details of end time teaching must not be our primary focus, but the pattern language of scripture and the teaching of Jesus and the apostles must hold our undivided attention. If we are true to that, we will ENTER GLORY TOGETHER as the faithful beloved Bride Of Christ - his purified "remnant".
|by Kip Petzold|