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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Rethinking, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy

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 Rethinking, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy

I'm presently of the opinion that all of the prophecies regarding the nation of Israel have been literally fulfilled up until now so why should I expect that the remaining and outstanding prophecies yet to be fulfilled were only meant as allegories and metaphors that will be spiritually fulfilled etc. I'm also presently of the opinion that a plain reading of many of the prophecies have been set aside to further the goal of "reinterpreting" these prophecies supposedly in light of greater New Testament revelation etc. So the Old Testament prophets plainly said this but really they meant something else. It's interesting to track the historical development of interpreting prophecy in an allegorical or higher spiritual type of manner and then comparing it to some of the present teachings going forth in the church regarding fulfillment of prophecy. See below for a couple of examples.

(BEGIN)
“Throughout the New Testament, we see the first Christians wrestling with the relationship between the “new” thing God has now done in Christ, and the “old “ thing which he had done in Israel, and re-interpreting the latter in light of the former. If we are to be New Testament Christians, we must do the same…Distinctive Jewish Christianity finally died out…The first Christian set themselves the wonderful, exciting task of completely re-thinking their understanding of the Scriptures, in the light of Jesus Christ…The New Testament ‘re-reading’ of the Old Testament promises see their climax in Jesus, and makes him the ‘end’ of the story. The interpretation of Old Testament prophecy and other ‘Israel’ texts must be approached from the perspective of this basic New Testament teaching, and must follow the guidelines of New Testament interpretation….The New Testament writers are ‘normative’ for us, in showing us how to interpret Old Testament prophecy.” (S. Motyer, “Israel in God’s Plan,” Evangelical Alliance Consultation, June 2003.) (END)

Me: Who is against the greatness of the revelation found in Christ? Not me, but I didn't know that that should cause me to change the literal meaning of much of Old Testament prophecy regarding Israel and the land promises. How are we to be sure that the early church gave up on any land promises etc. because after Christ they rethought, reread and reinterpreted prophecy? The prophesied coming of Christ was literally fulfilled. Why did His coming make literal prophecy into something that could only be rightly interpreted in a spiritual sense? If so, that renders mute the plain language of the prophets.

(BEGIN
“Any transfer from the old covenant to the new covenant involved a movement from shadow to reality. The old covenant appealed to the human longing for a sure and settled land; yet it could not compare with the realities of new covenant fulfillment. This perspective is confirmed by a number of references in the new covenant documents. Abraham is declared t be heir, not of “the land” but of “the world” (Romans 4:13). But his comprehensive language the imagery of the lands as a picture of a restored paradise has finally come of age. No longer merely as portion of this earth, but now the whole of the cosmos partakes of the consummation of God’s redemptive work in our fallen world."

"This perspective provides insight into the return to the land described by Ezekiel and the other prophets. In the nature of things, these writers could only employ images with which they and their hearers were familiar. So they spoke of a geographical return to the land of Israel. Indeed there was a return to this land, though hardly on a scale prophesied by Ezekiel. But in the context of the realities of the new covenant, this land must be understood in terms of the newly recreated cosmos about which the apostle Paul speaks in Romans. The whole universe (which is “the land” from a new covenant perspective groans in travail, waiting for the redemption that will come with the resurrection of the bodies of the redeemed (Romans 8:22-23). The return to paradise in the framework of the new covenant does not involve merely a return to the shadowy forms of the old covenant. It means the rejuvenation of the entire earth. By this renewal of the entire creation, the old covenant’s promise of land finds its new covenant realization.” (O.P. Robertson, "The Israel of God" (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2000), 25-26) (END)

Me: So the writers of the Old Testament, working under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could only "employ images with which thier hearers were familiar." Oh, I see. Fancy all those Christians of the ages all this time thinking that under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they wrote down what they clearly meant to covey. I guess they missed out on the wonderful and exciting task of completely rethinking and reinterpreting the writings of the prophets that the early church supposedly began doing for us. I'm being a little sarcastic of course and who is fighting against the total greatness of the revelation of God found in Christ. But does this revelation necessarily and inevitably lead to the inescapable conclusion propogated in so many quarters that prophecy and especially prophecy regarding the land promises have to be completely rethought and reread and changed from their original meaning? Many of the traditions and church communions that have advocated this approach of reinterpretation over the centuries are also among those who said the Jewish people would never make a physical return to the holy "land." Unbelieving Israel today is not what it's going to be but focusing on their present unbelief ONLY seems to be denying the literalness of the prophecies that one day they will be converted and dwelling "safely in the land." All has been fulfilled literally up until now so can we be excused if we should stil look for a future literal fulfillment? Including land in the promises is seen as despiritualizing the kingdom when it really is not but hey now, if the clear promises regarding land can't really mean what they plainly say then we need to rethink, reread and reinterpret them. I'm not so sure that task should be so wonderful and exciting.














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David Winter

 2012/4/25 10:23Profile









 Re: Rethink, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy

So you think the temple as shown by Ezekiel is not literal? That prophesy hasn't been fulfilled yet. Do you think it will be?

I'm not sure if we should reinterpret prophecy. Interesting post.

 2012/4/25 12:23
Lordsknight
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Joined: 2012/4/25
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 Re: Rethinking, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy

In Matthew 24, it says,
Mt 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Jesus was speaking of that temple right in front of them and it happened just as he said. To take that discussion and try to apply it in our time is inaccurate to me. Couple that with the idea that many "Christians" are helping and urging the Jews to build a 3rd temple in order to offer animal sacrifices for sin is an abomination in itself.

I am convinced that all of the New Testament was finished before 70 AD. Other wise why didn't any of the canonized scriptures reference the destruction of the temple and the massacres that took place? Not even a passing mention of one the most devastating events in Jewish life and history.


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Mike Richardson

 2012/4/25 22:57Profile
Lordsknight
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Joined: 2012/4/25
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 Re:

I think we have to reinterpret prophecy for the fact that the current pop prophecy was not even a thought until the late 1860's. The early church believed that the second coming was the end of the age. There was never a teaching of a secret rapture then a 7 year tribulation period and then another appearing. That the 1,000 year millennium was simply an immeasurable time not exactly 1,000 years, no more, no less.

When you place Revelation's writings around 68 AD it pulls the foundation out of the novels and movies that have indoctrinated the generations since the 1960's to now.

We need to bring prophecy back where it belongs, founded on the word of God not the fancies of a man who put the notes in his personal Bible (Scofield). Today we have more Christians seeking to find out who the Anti-Christ is rather than seeking the True and Living Christ! That is the danger of this mis-doctrine.


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Mike Richardson

 2012/4/25 23:10Profile
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 Re: Rethinking, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy - reply to Lordsknight

Thank you for your reply and comments. I’ll try and reply although I am under some time restraints on this end.

You said,

I think we have to reinterpret prophecy for the fact that the current pop prophecy was not even a thought until the late 1860's. The early church believed that the second coming was the end of the age. There was never a teaching of a secret rapture then a 7 year tribulation period and then another appearing. That the 1,000 year millennium was simply an immeasurable time not exactly 1,000 years, no more, no less.

When you place Revelation's writings around 68 AD it pulls the foundation out of the novels and movies that have indoctrinated the generations since the 1960's to now.

We need to bring prophecy back where it belongs, founded on the word of God not the fancies of a man who put the notes in his personal Bible (Scofield). Today we have more Christians seeking to find out who the Anti-Christ is rather than seeking the True and Living Christ! That is the danger of this mis-doctrine. (END)

Me: I am also dismayed about much of the current “pop” eschatology and the industry that has grown up the past few decades. I started to add in my comments that I don’t believe in a pre-tribulation rapture and didn’t but I can state that now. I don’t believe in that as it was taught and that movement in the 1830s and later popularized even more extensively by Scofield and his Bible and its notes. I’ve done a little study on this branch of truth and what is not widely known is how many changes this system of truth has had to make after its success and popularity became widespread. Major and significant changes had to be made in their doctrines later that are not widely known by I would guess even many of its proponents today. And in spite of all that, there has always have been and still are today millions and millions of Christian who don’t believe in a early and secret rapture before the second coming itself. although these doctrines have had success with the early rapture emphasis they haven’t had sway and influence everywhere. Thank the Lord for that.

I don’t agree with the notion that there will be no period of tribulation at the end of the age. Daniel 12:1-2, Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14 speak of this with specificity and clarity from my point of view.

Regarding the thousand years. That first appears in Rev 20:1-5 and is portrayed as occurring after the second coming of Christ. Applying the hermeneutic of reinterpretation, that period of time has now come to mean simply an immeasurable time etc. that mainly symbolizes the time of the present church age. I think a legitimate question would be how can it pertain to the present church age if it occurs in scripture after the second coming? Those applying it to the present church age have interrupted the chronology and sequence of Revelation and placed it before the second coming. It may be fair to say that when one interrupts the chronological sequence of a prophecy that they have interrupted and changed the prophecy itself which the hermeneutic of turning clear prophecies into spiritual allegories and reinterpreting their original meaning has done has done.

You also wrote,

In Matthew 24, it says,
Mt 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Jesus was speaking of that temple right in front of them and it happened just as he said. To take that discussion and try to apply it in our time is inaccurate to me. Couple that with the idea that many "Christians" are helping and urging the Jews to build a 3rd temple in order to offer animal sacrifices for sin is an abomination in itself.

I am convinced that all of the New Testament was finished before 70 AD. Other wise why didn't any of the canonized scriptures reference the destruction of the temple and the massacres that took place? Not even a passing mention of one the most devastating events in Jewish life and history. (END)

Me: I agree that Jesus was speaking of the temple right there in front of him but still the question asked of him was, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” So Jesus spoke to them of the destruction of that present temple and he went on until he ended with His second coming at the end of the age. So looking at the totality of Matthew 24 it’s not wrong to read into it the end of the age which was also part of the original question to Jesus. I’m pretty sure those who are supporting any effort to rebuild a temple and start sacrifices again are a very small minority in the body of Christ. If some are doing it can’t be that many at all. That still leaves open the question though are such scriptures as II Thessalonians 2:1-8, especially verse 2:4 was to be reinterpreted from what the early church placed on its meaning.

I appreciate all that you have said and brought up for discussion. But I still see a question that is left outstanding. What of the prophecies to be fulfilled that pertain to the blessings to come to Israel after a final time of tribulation and the return of their Messiah who they will then recognize? Not all of the blessings of the messianic age are being fulfilled now and many of the blessings of that day are portrayed as happening after a time of final trial and tribulation. What of the prophecies that pertain to Israel and the nations after that final tribulation? Part of the reason that this rethinking, rereading and reinterpretation of prophecy came about was because of the belief that Israel had been disenfranchised because of its disbelief. So a literal Israel had to be gotten out of the picture (especially since Israel was exiled in 70 A.D.) when it came to biblical prophecy regarding their future destiny. If present Israel is still in unbelief then that doesn’t mean God’s hand is so short that He can’t remedy that when His set time comes. After all, we claim that God can do anything! The church is right to claim the promises made to Israel but one day the remaining natural branches that God is intent on gathering will be part of the church also. But when outstanding land promises are brought into the picture then it is said that is a mistake because all that “land” stuff was meant allegorically in the first place anyway. My question is, “Really?”

Quote:
“Because the logic of Paul’s understanding of Abraham and his personalization of the fulfillment of the promise “in Christ” demanded the deterritorializing of the promise, salvation was not now bound to the Jewish people centered in the land and living according to the Law: it was “located” not in a place, but in persons in whom grace and faith had their writ. By personalizing the promise ‘in Christ” Paul universalized it. For Paul, Christ had gathered up the promise intro the singularity of his person. In this way, “the territory” promised was transformed and fulfilled by the life “in Christ.” All this is not made explicit, because Paul did not directly apply himself to the question of the land, but it is implied [emphasis added]. In the Christological logic of Paul, the land, like the Law, particular and provisional, had become irrelevant.” (W.D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land (Sheffield: JSOT, 1994), 179.

Being in Christ “demanded the deterritorializing of the promise of the land.”

The land has become “irrelevant” because we are now in Christ.

After I have rethought, reread and reinterpreted prophecy is that what I am supposed to believe? Really?


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David Winter

 2012/4/27 20:13Profile
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Joined: 2006/7/5
Posts: 640
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 Re:

Quote:
When you place Revelation's writings around 68 AD it pulls the foundation out of the novels and movies that have indoctrinated the generations since the 1960's to now.



The weight of early church history does not support this. The testimony of Church fathers who were discipled by John put the writing of Revelation around A.D.95. Historical analysis puts the writing of the book around the same date. For example, there is no evidence of an organized Church in Smyrna before A.D.80, the Roman emperor (his name escapes me right now) who ruled in the 90's A.D. had a habit of making prisoners of enemies real or perceived. The following emperor released the political prisoners of the previous one trying to court favor with the populace. This lends credence to the testimony of 1st generation Christian leaders as to the date of the writing of the book of revelation.


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SI Moderator - Jeremy Hulsey

 2012/4/27 20:45Profile









 Re: Rethinking, rereading and reinterpreting prophecy

Today I was reading the book of Acts about the very images to which these thoughts are being presented here in this thread. For example,

Acts 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:

14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.

15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

*Now notice this, this is what we pass over all the time and we miss these important pieces. James is referring to the Gentiles as being the tabernacle of David which is fallen down. He is making a distinct prophetic fulfillment here.

16, as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

17 That the remnant of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

I had to reread that. I could very well remain blind and allow my senses to continue to be dull and believe that this is some future installment of a temple that is to be built, but that is not what James was saying.

The imagery there about "building again the ruins thereof" is talking about people in that day and it continues to be that way to this day.

My senses have been dull regarding this subject, thank you for starting this thread, I hope it remains calm and collective.

 2012/4/27 21:29
Lordsknight
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Joined: 2012/4/25
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 Re:

Those who hold to the "late date," have Revelation written during the time of Domitian Caesar (AD 95-96). This date is determined by the following statement by Irenaeus (AD 130 to AD 202), as quoted by Eusebius, the church historian, in AD 325: "We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign."

There are things about this statement that need to be noted. First, Irenaeus did not witness this. He referred to Polycarp (who supposedly knew the apostle John). Secondly, the key part — "it is not long since it was seen" — is ambiguous. According to Irenaeus recollection, Polycarp saw "it" sometime in AD 95-96, during the last part Domitian's reign. Thirdly, we do not know if the "it" Polycarp was referring to was John, the visions he saw, the name of anti-christ, or the book itself and we do not know if he meant that the book was written at that time or not. Furthermore, it comes to us through three people separated by three centuries. Simply put, this is hear-say.

This statement, even with all of this uncertainty, is the only evidence used to support the "late date" theory.

Another statement by Irenaeus seems to indicate the earlier date also. In his fifth book, he speaks as follows concerning the Apocalypse of John and the number of the name of the Antichrist: "As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ancient copies." Domitian's reign was almost in his own day, but now he speaks of the Revelation being written in ancient copies. His statement at least gives some doubt as to the "vision" being seen in 95 AD which was almost in his day, and even suggests a time somewhat removed from his own day for him to consider the copies available to him as ancient.


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Mike Richardson

 2012/4/28 16:26Profile
Lordsknight
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Joined: 2012/4/25
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 Re:

Where can we find evidence for the dating of Revelation? Within the book itself! It will be shown, from internal evidence, that Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

The first point to consider in favor of the early date is the fact that John was told that he "must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" in Revelation 10:11. Now, if Revelation was written in AD 95-96, John would have been over 90 years old and it would have been very difficult for him to travel to the various "nations and…many kings" and preach. However, with Revelation written earlier, John would have been in his mid 60's and at that age, his traveling would have been more feasible.

Another point is that John wrote Revelation to a specific group of churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). The importance of this statement cannot be overlooked (even though it has been by many scholars). There is only one small window of time in which there were only seven churches in Asia. The early AD 60's. The apostle Paul established nine churches in that area, but only seven were addressed in Revelation. The reason for this is that the cities of Colosse, Hierapolis, and Laodicea, were all destroyed by an earthquake around AD 61. Laodicea was rebuilt soon afterwards, but the other two cities were not. This left only seven churches in Asia during the five years just prior to the beginning of the Roman/Jewish war.


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Mike Richardson

 2012/4/28 16:29Profile
Lordsknight
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Joined: 2012/4/25
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 Re:

Of particular importance is the message to the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13). In verse's 10 and 11, Christ told John to inform them that an "hour of temptation" was "about to come upon all the world," i.e., the Roman Empire. Christ then told them that He was coming quickly and that they should hold fast. The reason this is important (besides the fact that this was directed to an actual church in the first century) is that the first persecution of Christians took place under Nero Caesar in AD 64. Therefore, Revelation must have been written before that time.

One of the most compelling proofs that Revelation was written before Jerusalem was destroyed is the fact that the Jewish temple was still standing!
Revelation 11:1-2, "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
How do we know that this was the temple of the first century and not some future one? First, there is not one verse in the entire Bible that speaks of a "rebuilt" Jewish Temple. Not one. That alone should be proof enough.
However, this passage is very similar to Luke 21:20-24. Notice that Jesus told the disciples that they would see this event. They had asked Him about their temple (verse 5), and Jesus told them it would be destroyed before their generation passed away (verse 32). Notice again what Jesus said in verse 24, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles." This is the same thing Christ told John in Revelation 11:2. Therefore, since the disciples' generation has long since passed away, Revelation must have been written before the nations trampled Jerusalem under foot in AD 70.


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Mike Richardson

 2012/4/28 16:32Profile





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