Where is the Promise of His Coming? - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8052
“And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe." John 14:29
About 125 years ago, a man named Theodore Herzl began an organized movement within Europe to start repatriating Jews back to their homeland. For the next 58 years, the dream of a Jewish homeland was just that, a dream.
We know today, looking back, that Israel in fact became a nation in a day, that day being May 14th, 1948. But that would only be the beginning of her problems, because as soon as she was birthed back into the table of nations, the world seemingly would turn against her. Imagine being an evangelical back in the 19th century. The whispers in the back rooms of Europe would soon gain traction and started to make headlines. Before long, the news of a ‘Zionist’ movement began reaching Christian’s over in the United States. Excitement and expectation from literalists, would come to meet disbelief and dismissal from those who allegorized bible prophecy.
I can imagine the leading liberal scholars of the day completely dismissing the very thought of Israel becoming a nation again. I can just imagine them mocking “dispensationalists” and others who took the bible literally. I can just imagine the endless teachings and preachings from these Ivy League seminary professors poo-pooing the very thought of a national Israel again, after 1,900 years of diaspora. They mocked men like C.I. Scofield, Clarence Larkin, and James Inglis, who were a just few that publically declared that Israel would become a nation again. Clarence Larkin, in his Magnus Opus “Dispensational Truth”, (written in 1918), not only foretold that Israel would be gathered together back as a nation, but that they would be gathered back in unbelief. Mr. Larkin didn’t come to that conclusion based on his own mental prowess, but because he took seriously the prophetic Scriptures in what they had to say about the subject.
Those that knew, according to Scripture, didn’t know that the future Israel would be called Israel, because at that time that whole region was simply known by the ancient Roman name, Palestine. But they did know Israel would come back together as a nation, and in their ancient homeland. John Nelson Darby, from the Niagara Bible Conference in 1878, issued the following proclamation…
"... that the Lord Jesus will come in person to introduce the millennial age, when Israel shall be restored to their own land, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord; and that this personal and premillennial advent is the blessed hope set before us in the Gospel for which we should be constantly looking." (Luke 12:35–40; 17:26–30; 18:8 Acts 15:14–17; 2 Thess. 2:3–8; 2 Tim. 3:1–5; Titus 1:11–15)
But it wasn’t only Dispensationalists that believed in a literal, physical, earthly return of the Jews to their national and ancient homeland. Charles H. Spurgeon had this to say this in his The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews. Ezekiel 37:1-10, June 16th, 1864…
We look forward, then, for these two things. I am not going to theorize upon which of them will come first — whether they shall be restored first, and converted afterwards — or converted first and then restored. They are to be restored and they are to be converted, too.
For centuries, believers in taking the bible literally, came to the same exact understanding as that of Dispensationalists, in that the Jewish nation must rise again.
Over the centuries, sects within and without the Christian faith have had a skewed view of Christian Eschatology. Even today, many Christians are pushing back against the study of Bible prophecy by saying, what purpose does studying that stuff have for me in the here and now? Well, if you belong to a denomination that teaches we are in the Kingdom now, or that we have to bring about the Kingdom, then, it has a lot of usefulness to you now.
Increasingly, we’ve seen a shift within even once solidly pro-Israel evangelical Christianity, to support the fallacious concept of a two-state solution. Clearly, these Christians either have not read Joel 3:1-3 or Zechariah 2:7-9, or do not take it seriously. They have taken on the satanically inspired world view that light and darkness can coexist peacefully. This is not a blanket statement to say that all that Israel does is right, or righteous. Many in Israel today are either atheistic and secular, or orthodox and anti-Christian. What is true, is that the Bible says that Israel would be regathered a second time, (Isaiah 11:11) (the first is after the Babylonian captivity), and that once regathered in their homeland, would never be uprooted again. (Amos 9:14-15). Again, if Christians want to take issue with Christian-Zionism, then they have to twist, distort, or outright reject what their own Bibles have to say about the subject.
I bring up the issue with the rebirth of the nation of Israel as a classic example of the same type of attitude people have today of the Rapture. The same type of liberal theologians and higher critics of Scripture who dismissed the possibility of Israel becoming a nation again, are of the same ilk that dismiss the certainty that Christ will one day return for His Church. Those that dismissed the possibility of Israel becoming a nation, either had to eat crow and repent for being naysayers, or they once again, twisted and distorted the truth of the reality, that Israel (national and ethnic) was after 1,900 years, and against all odds, a nation again.
Today many say Christ isn’t coming. They will say a variation of well, people have been saying that Christ is going to come for 2,000 years now, and He still hasn’t come. While dismissing the possibility that Christ could come for His Church at any moment, they in fact, fulfill prophecy.
…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4
Of course, they reject that since they either don’t take the Bible literally, or they choose to pick and choose which sections they do take literally. I’d assume that 2 Peter 3 was one they conveniently choose to overlook. I guess the real question is, why do they do it? Again, Peter answers the question for us;
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (Vs. 5-7)
Willfully forgetting, is akin to willfully rejecting. It is knowing what the text says, but rejecting it. Just like many have dismissed the idea of a literal, global, Noahic flood. They spend much of their time, trying to rationalize or sanitize what the text says, so that it appears more palatable to themselves, and to those who listen to them. The very idea of a Rapture event happening, seems beyond ludicrous to them. (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-56)
Another twist on this, is to deny the possibility of an any moment, imminent return of Christ for His Church, and assign the Church to endure part or all of the Tribulation. We are told repeatedly in Scripture, that we are not destined for wrath (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rev. 3:10). The only work around they have for that is muddy the waters on when the wrath actually starts. For some its half-way, for others its 3/4's of the way through, and for others, the wrath actually occurs at the end. I would just remind them that the Tribulation Period (i.e…Jacob’s troubles, or Daniel’s 70th Week), is not about the Church in any form or fashion, but ALL about God refining the nation of Israel, and destroying all the unbelieving nations on the earth at that time. IOW, the Church (the Body of Christ), plays no role in this period of time. IF Christ initiates the Tribulation period by opening the first Seal Judgment (He does), and by the sixth Seal, the people on the earth are calling it ‘the Wrath of the Lamb’, (they do), then Christ is not going to pour out His Wrath, on His Body, who is the Church in whom He purchased with His blood.
The Church has had tribulation since the first century, when Christ was crucified on the cross. All but one apostle died outside of martyrdom. The Church would endure from 100-300AD, ten periods of intense persecution. In fact, true Christians have been persecuted rather regularly for the better part of 2,000 years. Christ didn’t promise us an escape from that, in fact, He told us we would face hard times, because the world hated Him first. (John 15:18-21). In fact, we are persecuted again, not because we are so different, but because of His name’s sake. So on the one hand, Israel would be a nation again for His name’s sake, and we would face hatred from the world, trials and tribulations in this life, again, for His name’s sake. Apparently, God puts a lot on account of His name’s sake. (Hebrews 6:13-14)
So while it should sadden us that we have seen Christian’s playing the skeptic for all these years, it should also stir us to be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
Satan always seeks to divide and diminish, primarily when concerning God’s word. That is why it is so vital that we study all of God’s word. To always have a ready answer to those who would seek to sway us, or mock our faithfulness to the text, so that they may persuade us to follow them, rather than what the Scriptures state. Remember, that Christ called fools and even wept for those Pharisees (learned, studied, experts in the Hebrew Bible) and laypeople, because they couldn’t see or understand the time of their visitation. (Matthew 16:1-4; Luke 19:41-44)
If we hold to what the Bible says in its totality, then we would know we can’t know the day or hour in which Christ returns. But it also means, that it will not catch us off guard either. (2 Timothy 3; 1 Thess. 5:1-9; 2 Peter 3) We as believers would know that we were in the ‘season’ of His return. Even the pagan, unbelieving world sees that the world is amiss, and that something terrible is on the horizon. It is at this moment, we use prophecy as the tool it was designed to be used, and share the glorious Gospel with those around us so that we could demonstrate in this very moment of time, that Christ’s return is imminent. We could demonstrate very clearly, that our faith is not blind, but that the God we worship, has declared the end from the beginning, and has given us powerful tools for use at our disposal, so that none should perish, but that all come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:12
Even So, Maranatha!