Tag Archives: Eschatology

The Men of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Someone should host a “Top Ten Most Misused Bible Verse” competition, ‘cause 1 Chronicles 12:32 would be right up there near the top!

 32 men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;

Humor aside (or attempts thereof) – I am tired of hear people quote 1 Chronicles 12:32 as an excuse to plot out an end of the world timeline. I mean, come on – have you read 1 Chronicles 12!!!! It has NOTHING to do with the end times or with creating timelines!

It is actually very simple – Israel is in a civil war and the men of Issachar want to be on the winning side. Period.

That’s it.

200 warlords recognized that David was going to be the next king of Israel – so they move their loyalties from Saul to David, most likely so that they could gain wealth, prestige or land when the war was over.  [@more@]

  38 All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel.

In other words, the whole “men of Issachar who understood the times” deal is nothing more then a political power play.  As such, please not quote it to me to justify your un-Biblical desire to map out the end times. Just be honest – you want know how much longer you have to put up with this crappy world before you can escape to the glory realm of heaven.

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you – but we are going to be on this planet a long time. Heaven is coming to earth; not the other way around. Granted, the earth will be renewed, death, sin, evil and all “crappiness” will be removed (Praise the Lord!) – but it will be this earth nonetheless.

As such, I pray that we will stop trying to create timelines and start doing the work of the Father. Sure it is ok to look up time to time and see what God is doing as Jesus himself said “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24: 42).

Note that “keep watch” means just that – keep watch. Not “here is a cryptic road map of the future, good luck at figuring it out”. Undecided

Why Must We Plan Out The “End Times”?

Grrrr… How’s that for a starting place? Tongue out

People through out history have tried to ‘plan’ out the ‘end of the world’ either through Biblical prophecy, Mayan calendars, scientific studies or pure random guesses. It seems that we NEED to know when the world is going to end so that we plan out our lives and make sure we accomplish our goals.

But do we really need to do that?

If one is a believer and a follower of the Lord Almighty, then why do you have to know when the world ends? Why do we spend hours upon hours, life times upon life times outlining Bible passages and creating end time timelines?

Shouldn’t we be focused on proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God as modeled by our Lord Jesus?

Yeah – I know the arguments. “Jesus said to be watchful.” “We need to be like the ‘men of Issachar, who understood the times…’”

I have a two word answer, if I may be so bold: Bull Crap   (that should get the comment field working overtime…)[@more@]

Seriously though, let us stop and look at these arguments used to plan out an end time calendar.

Matthew 24:42 – Jesus told his followers to “therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Ok. Seems pretty straight forward…yet if you look at the context of the statement, Jesus is telling his disciples not to be deceived when folks come to them saying that the end is near (vs4). Instead, the disciples are to be faithful in doing the things He commanded them to do (ie. preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc).

Yes – Jesus lists some “events” that will happen before the “end”. However, all these “events” have been going on since the time of Jesus! There has never been a time in history where there haven’t been wars, famines, earthquakes, and the like. Maybe these things happening with greater frequency – then again, how do we really know that? We only have records for the past hundred or two hundred years….

Besides, Jesus pretty clearly said that he could come back at ANY MOMENT!! (Matt 24:27, 36, 44). Meaning that he could have returned anytime in the last 2000 years. Again, the context of these verse as well as those of Paul in 1 Thessalonians, show the main point of the passage is not to create a timeline, but to encourage and strengthen the Church to do the work of the Lord while keeping them from being led astray by people claiming to know when the Second Coming is coming. That’s it. That’s the point.

Instead of listening to Jesus and Paul, we are doing the exact same thing the Pharisees did in the 1st Century. They looked at the Torah and they planned out when and how God was going to rescue them. What did God do? He showed up outside their paradigm and they missed him.

We, as the Church, need to learn from their mistakes and remember that God has everything under control and we do not need to have a timeline planned out and ready. ‘Cause if we do, we will miss Him as He does not follow anyone’s timeline but His own.

Wow! Talk about jumping into the viper’s den! Tongue out

Yet, I had to write. Feel free to leave comments or drop me an email – shoot, I’ll even post your emails if you have a counter argument!  I mean, why not? Lord knows I’m discussing this issue in my Bible Study – might as well talk about it here as well. Smile

Oh – before I sign off – note that I will we follow this post with some about “men of Issachar” (1 Chronicles 12:32) and Revelations. Just a fyi. Wink

The Last Things: An Eschatology For Laymen by George Ladd

George Ladd is one of my favorite theologians for a number of reasons. The main one however is his focus on the eschatological Jesus as oppose to the “legal” or “justification” Jesus of most evangelicals.

The Last Things: An Eschatology For Laymen is one of the last book written by Ladd before he died in the early ‘80’s. The date of the book – 1978 – is very important as it is a scholarly response to the rise of “Dispensationalism” in the late 1960s and 1970’s. Sadly enough (in my opinion) the ideas of dispensationalism has continued to grow over the past few decades to the point in which it is the primary eschatological view of evangelicalism.

You may ask “what is dispensationalism?”

Well, that is a very good question. Literally, “dispensationalism” means a “series of dispensations or time periods in which God deals in different ways with his people.” For example, cessationists use a twist on dispensationalism to “prove” that the gifts of the Spirit (healing, miracles, tongues, etc) have stopped.

Ladd doesn’t put a lot of focus on this aspect of dispensationalism as he sees no problems in having different time periods: the era of promise under Abraham, law under Moses, grace under Christ, and the Kingdom of God in the future. (Note that I personally disagree with Ladd on this point as I only see two Biblical time periods: this Present Evil Age and the Age to Come…but that’s another discussion.)

The main tenet of dispensationalism according to Ladd is “that there are two peoples of God for whom God has two different programs and destinies – theocratic and earthly for Israel, spiritual and heavenly for the church.”[@more@]

It is this tenet that Ladd is speaking out against as it affects the way one views prophecies. Instead, Ladd proposes that we “recognize progressive revelation” and “interpret the Old Testament by the New Testament.” More specifically, Ladd, who grew up under the umbrella of dispensationalism, states that the “Old Testament must be interpreted (and often reinterpreted) by the new revelation given in the person and mission of Jesus Christ.”

An example of this “reinterpretation” can be seen in Christology where Jesus reinterprets Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” as the coming Messiah and the “Son of Man”. It is worth noting that within the context of Isaiah 53, the “Suffering Servant” is never referred to as the “Messiah” – instead the “servant concept fluctuates between the corporate concept, Israel, and the individual who redeems Israel.”

Knowing that folks would naturally ask about the modern day nation of Israel and what happens to them, Ladd devotes an entire chapter looking at the issue. Knowing that this is a hot bed of emotion, I’m going to try to summarize Ladd’s work as it pertains to this book view…however, if you want to know more, check out the book. Smile

In a nutshell, Ladd looks at Romans 9-11 in which Paul tackles this very same question. Paul starts off by pointing out that “Israel” – that is the people of God – is not identical with the physical offspring of Abraham: “For not all who are descended from Israel [natural seed] belong to Israel [spiritual seed], and not all are children of Abraham became they are his descendants.” (Rom 9:6-7). Or in other words, true Israel is determined not by natural physical descent or DNA, but by the “divine election and promise of God.”

So what do we do with the present day “Israel”? Ladd proposes three things:

  1. Israel remains a “holy” people (Rom 11:16), set apart and destined to carry out the divine purpose
  2. All Israel is yet to be saved
  3. The salvation of Israel must be through the new covenant made in the blood of Christ Jesus already established with the church, not through a rebuild Jewish temple with a revival of the Mosaic sacrificial system.

After addressing the main tenet of dispensationalism and how that affects the modern day nation of Israel, Ladd moves on to discuss the Second Coming of Christ, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the Resurrection, Rapture, Judgment and the Kingdom of God. Throughout each selection, Ladd looks at how prophecy is interpret through the life and mission of Jesus Christ while combating the views of dispensationalism.

One thing I must point out, as doubtless some of you are wondering, is that Ladd does hold to a classic premillennial view of Revelations. Meaning that he thinks there is a literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth before the start of the New Age with the restored heaven and earth.

Classic premillennialism defers from dispensational premillennialism in that dispensationalist believe that the millennial kingdom is for the Jews in which the Mosaic sacrificial system is restored and the Old Testament prophecies about Israel as a nation are fulfilled literally. Again, even in this there is the core belief in dispensationalism that God has two separate people groups with whom He will deal with in two different ways.

If you are wondering, I tend to stick to the pan-millennialism view: everything is going to pan out and we win. However, if pushed, I would have to say that I lean towards either classic premillennialism or amillennialsim view as I don’t see much Biblical support for dispensational premillennialism or postmillennialism.Cool

Revelations – Come Again?

The weekly men’s group that I’m a part of has recently decided to study the book of Revelations…

This is very interesting as about half the group have only been following Jesus for about two years. Yet, they are willing and ready to tackle one of the “hardest” books of the Bible.

I say “hardest” as, well… let’s face it; Revelations isn’t the easiest book to understand. It is similar to Ezekiel in its visions – yet, it also has a bit of Daniel and the letters of John.

In a nutshell: no one really knows what John was writing about.

Sure, folks have ideas and thoughts – which makes it all the more confusing. Especially when those “folks” get so set in their ways that they run over or condemn all who don’t agree with them.

Sigh… as you can see, I’m not too excited about the prospect of studying this book. Undecided[@more@]

Of course, on the flip side – we have a really good group of men. If I was to study the book (which, just so you know, I have studied the book off and on through out the years in different academic settings), this would be the place to do so.

The group is set up where we read a chapter or a portion of a chapter out loud and then discuss it. Everyone is free to ask questions, comment about or general say whatever comes to mind. There are no wrong answers as we all are on the journey to know our Lord more and more.

It seems that the Lord is drawing the church into this study as the ladies have recently decided to do a similar study. Only they will be using some videos in addition to the Biblical text.

We shall see that the Lord is doing.

In the mean time, I better get to studying as there are some sharp guys in the group who know more then I do!! Cool

Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright

This has been the toughest books I have read over the past year. Tough – not because of the reading level – but tough because the content forces you to rethink and test what you have been taught about death, heaven, and live beyond the grave.

I first picked up this book a year ago at the recommendation of a good friend and pastor. However, it quickly got shelved as I was busy reading researching other topics.

Then a few months ago I begin to question the phrase “eternal life” and the concept of living forever. Looking around I noticed this book sitting on my shelf unread… talk about a God thing!

As I started reading Surprised by Hope, I quickly realized how influenced I was by popular culture and misconceptions within the church. For example:

  • Some folks believe that when we die our spirits will merge into God’s Spirit for eternity (This was the view that I was leaning towards before hand as it seemed good to give up this individual body and mind and join with the Holy One…)
  • Others believe that when they die, the soul of the Believer will leave this moral world and live forever with their Heavenly Father (I would agree with NT Wright in that this is the view held by the majority of Christians – and, yes, this is under the “misconceptions” selection!)[@more@]

After tearing down the misconceptions of the church, NT Wright dives into the orthodox and Biblical view of death, life afterwards and how that affects the church today. It is hard to fully explain all that Wright talks about within this short blog post – considering it fills several hundred pages of a book – however, I will mention a few items that really hit me hard.

  • Death

Over the years I had begin to treat ‘death’ as a friend. I mean, here we are “trapped” in this moral body in an evil age looking forward to the time when we will see God face to face. If all that separates us is death – then why not die sooner versus later?

I honestly asked that question more then once in high school. The answer that I came up with was that we, as believers, needed to stay on “earth” so that we could “rescue” others from hell. That, and I really love a good Reuben sandwich or a nice gravy covered chicken fried steak!!!

Yet, in Corinthians 15:26 Paul calls death the “last enemy to be destroyed” by Jesus Christ. If death is Jesus’ enemy, then it came NOT be the believers’ friend!!!

So what do we make of “death”?

The orthodox and Biblical view follows that of Paul in that death is our enemy and it will be, and has been, conquered. Christians will be physically and bodily resurrected in the Age To Come. We will NOT stay “dead”. We will be brought back to life on the renewed earth to live with God Almighty.

Wow… think about that for a moment. If that statement is true – if we are going to be physically and bodily resurrected – then that changes a LOT of stuff here and now!

  • Heaven

When we say that a believer has gone to heaven, what does that mean? Does that mean little white clouds and harps? Or perhaps to refers to the souls of man dwelling with a spiritual God in a non-physical location…

I would guess that the majority of Believers would lean towards the last comment. That was my view for many years and it is the one propagated by popular culture outside and within the church.  

Yet, as NT Wright brings up, in Revelation the Apostle John says that heaven was coming to earth – not that “earth” or its people were going to heaven.

This goes right alone with the previous selection about death. If we, as Christians, are going to be physically and bodily resurrected – then we will have to have a physical world in which to live. This is the new earth – or the redeemed earth that has been purged of sin and evil.

This is the dream and focus of the prophets – a time when God will rule all the people and nations of the world; a time when He will physically dwell among His People.

  • Kingdom of God

Towards to end of the book, NT Wright shifts gears a bit and talks about how the orthodox and Biblical view of death, heaven and the resurrection affects the lives of Christian Believers today in this world and time.  

One of the biggest points he makes is that God’s rule and reign is here today, right now. It broke into this present and evil age through the person of Jesus Christ.

Remember my comment in the death section about the “point” of life? Bring as many folks to heaven with you before you die? Well, the more I reflect on the Kingdom message of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and many others, the more I realize that that is NOT the point of this life.

The bigger plan of God is to redeem this world and all that within it – the people, animals and physical landscape. To that end, we are to live under His rule and reign – helping to transform all that we touch. Note that we – the church – do not build the “Kingdom of God”; nor are we the “kingdom”.  

We are co-workers with Jesus in His Kingdom – which is both here today and not yet. We are to a) introduce people to Christ, b) help them move from the rule of darkness into the Rule of Light, c) fight against injustice, and d) remember that this physical world is not evil, but simply corruptive and due for a resurrection.

Hmm…I might have caused more questions then answers… But that is alright cause there is a book that you can read that talks more about all these subjects in a ton more detail.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
by N.T. Wright is a tough and challenging book – but one that I think should be read Believers around the world.

The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology

Heaven is receiving a new book.  In this case, I just received a copy of Adrio Konig’s “The Eclipse of Christ in Eschatology”. This is a book I have been waiting to read ever since I heard Derek Morphew refer to it in his 2006 seminar on the Kingdom of God.

A bit about the author:

Adrio Konig is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa, Pretoria. (note that this bio was written in 1989 when the book was written…I don’t know what he is doing now)[@more@]

Since I have not read the book yet (it may be a while as my homework is pilling up…), here is a brief review by Ray S. Anderson of Fuller Theological Seminary:

Konig is persuasive and provocative. His bilibical and historical approach to systematic theology stays close to the pulse beat of the divine heart which we encounter in the Christ for us, in us, and with us. Eschatology has to do not with the last things but with the person of Christ, who is the first and last One.

With this book Konig has pointed the way forward for a whole new generation of theological studies. This book combines critical dogmatic inquiry with careful exegetical work in the finest of the tradition in biblical theology. The result is a book on eschatology which is irenic in tone, relevant to contemporary issues, and surprising in its simplicity. This book will inspire pastors to preach once again with conviction on the eschatological themes essential to Christian life and faith. It might also put eschatology back once again into the theological curriculum.

With a review like that, I can hardly wait to read it!!  Cool

The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity: A Book Review

This was an interesting book – to say the least. There was some great information in the first half where Albert Schweitzer focused on the Old Testament prophets. When he started focusing on the New Testament and Primitive Christianity (read early first century), he started getting off on a the whole critical search for a historical Jesus deal. The deal being that the Jesus of the Gospels is not the “real” Jesus, but a mixture of “real” information and “added” information. Schweitzer really liked Mark and Matthew – as they are the two oldest Gospel accounts – and, as such, focused his writings around those two books.


It’s a good read – however, I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. As I mentioned above, Schweitzer gets pretty critical when dealing with the New Testament – especial the Gospels. The problem being that you really can’t throw out parts of the Bible as “false” just because you don’t like it or think that it’s not true. The Gospels, for the most part, when eye witness accounts. The writers wrote what they saw – who are we, two thousand years later, to say that they did not see what they said they saw?

Schweitzer falls prey to the modern logical mind of discounting anything supernatural… we must remember that God is not to be contained within our little box. He is much bigger – and we will never, ever fully understand Him on this side of the mirror. One day perhaps, but for now, we must learn to live with the mystery. [@more@]


Schweitzer does a great job at explaining the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament – especial in the pre-exilic prophets (Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah). As the book progresses through the prophets, Schweitzer brings in some of the beliefs and thoughts of the Iranian Religion around 650 to 600 BC. The main focus being on Zarathustra and on how his views on the Kingdom of God influenced the Jewish people.

At first, I was quite put off on the fact that Schweitzer was suggesting that Biblical prophets where influenced by non-Biblical religions and leaders. Then I stopped myself – is God limited to only what is recorded in the Bible? No. He is bigger then the Bible – most likely He was working in and through Zarathustra to show the world His glory.

Schweitzer also made me question the dating of the book of Daniel. While I’ve been through Bible school, I didn’t remember that the date that Daniel was written was questioned… but it is. The two main schools of thought place the Book of Daniel either during the time of Nebuchadnezzar (ie. 605 BC – 562 BC) or some time after Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the altar (176 BC).

Of course, if it was written in the second century BC, that means that Daniel didn’t write it. The later date would also cause the “prophecies” contained therein to be commentary instead of future visions. After thinking and praying about, I decided it really didn’t matter. The book still tells us about the Lord and His working in the world through different means. The Kingdom of Heaven still wins – either way.

I also enjoyed the way Schweitzer brought some of the writings of late Judaism – mainly Enoch and the Apocalypses of Ezra and Baruch. For years I have been meaning to read the Apocryphal – now I have a greater desire to do so. (G – I borrowed your old Oxford Bible with the Apocryphal….)


Schweitzer denies the physical resurrection of Jesus – claiming instead that what the apostle’s saw was only a vision. He disregards the Biblical passages of Jesus eating and drinking with the apostles and disciples saying that they were added later to help ‘prove’ the myth of Jesus’ physical resurrection.

In addition, Schweitzer also places an almost unhealthy stress on the humanness of Jesus. Part of this was a reaction to the times when he lived as most theologians in the late 1800 to early 1900’s focused on the divine part of Jesus. This stress comes to light in Schweitzer’s comments about how Jesus did not knew who he was – but instead considered himself nothing more then an man who was following God. This view leaves out the claims of Jesus to BE God – of course, Schweitzer would say that those passages where added later. You can see how Schweitzer went from one extreme to the other.