Seeking a Sign? PI

Jesus dealt with this in Matthew 16, let’s take a look what this means and how it applies to eschatology.  

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. Matthew 16:1-4 

The Pharisees were hounding Jesus for more miracles to prove who He was. Just like many Christians today, who are so focused on fads and new teachings, they totally ignore Who and What Christ is. Even though Jesus gave them miracles that were greater than even Moses had shown, their faith was absent and their focus was skewed.

The leaders were so concerned with appearances and their made-up doctrine they could not, nor wanted to see the real Truth. Sound familiar? They interpreted and applied their ideas and judgments from the Law, but did not understand God’s plain truth as revealed in the Scriptures. So, they focused on trivial matters and burdened the people with silly laws that were not scriptural. Just like false teachers do today! They became obstacles to the truth and facilitators of confusion. They literally believed, with passion, the weather report based on superstitions, but not God’s Word based on fact! They could see the sky and predict tomorrow’s errands, but were unwilling to see God at work or His plan.

A sign from heavenhea. Literally means, point to the sky and show us! This did not refer to a sign from God; Jesus already gave them that. This was an astrological proclamation. Often the leaders would use astrologers and star predictions for understanding the signs of the times and the future, even though God did directly forbid it (2 Kings 20:8-9; 2 Chron. 32:24; Isa. 38:7).

They relied on superstitions and not spiritual maturity. Superstitions were rooted in Jewish custom; Josephus wrote that the heavens, as shown to men, had a special portion to predict future events (Judges 6:17; Isa. 7:11-14; 8:18; 19:20; 20:3; 37:30; 38:7; 66:19; Ezek. 4:3; 12:11; 24:24-27; Matt. 24:29).

Elijah countered the astrologers by making a sign on the spot (1 Kings 18:38).

They were looking for proof from fables, and refused to see the real proof as predicted by the prophets. Thus, it can be said the leaders were looking for a sign from God, but that is unlikely due to the fact that Jesus already gave them many.

The best sign in eschatology is the buildup of our faith and the deployment of our spiritual formation into the lives of others. We pave the way for His Second Coming by our faith development and deployment, not by our feeble theories and the chasing of signs!

Their problem was not the lack of signs, but the refusal to adhere to them. God had given them the signs, but they refused to read or obey them (Duet. 32:5-20). The ultimate sign would be the resurrection (Matt. 12: 39-40).

We need to understand our Lord’s worth; He is Worthy, He sees us as worthy to be saved. We need to see that worthy means honorable and precious, so we need to empty ourselves of pride and concerns so as to be worthy to worship Him. The this becomes the beacon sign to the unbeliever.

 

The Problem of Eisegesis

The predicament that motivated this twenty year research project is the systemic breakdown of Biblical true-Truth from the continual progressive lack of good honest teaching in Revelation and Eschatology in general. In most American Churches and ministries, there is a decreasing sense of a focus on what God’ really said, a lack of spiritual maturity as demonstrated by a lack of character, involvement and interest of deeper spiritual things. This is occurring at an epidemic rate while bad fads and dangerous trends are replacing solid Bible teaching and discipleship. 

There is too much sloppy exegesis and fraudulent Bible study and grandstanding and in conjunction too much reading in “Eisegesis” to glean what people want out of God’s Word. Thus, God’s people are attacking, even raping God’s word to create their own word and in the process distract His children away from perusing a deep spiritual formation with Christ by chasing nonsense and trivialities of man’s ideas are trivialities not following God’s (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 4:2; and 2 Timothy 2:15; Revelation 22:18-19)!

As serious students of God’s Word the Bible we must know this great axiom, that to engage in honest and effectual Bible exposition, context, context and…one more…context, the historical, genre, textual…what does that term mean not just in the original language, but by the context of the language structure, what did it mean to the person who penned under God’s inspiration and who originally heard and read it…what does it mean elsewhere in Scripture… and so on…. Not what a madman in a suit is screaming on TV, thus we are relaying the research on this for your examination…

Our M.O. “modus operandi” is simply to seek out what the Bible has to say on Eschatology.  We have no ax to grind, no view to prove, we engage the Bible as humble learners. Thus, we seek the most honest and effectual approach is to engage the Bible without a preconceived view, to carefully research what is being said in context, word meaning, genre… Thus, an inductive exegetical approach is undertook, along side of deductive research to see what did that mean to the original writers and hearers and readers of it, not what we may think today. In this way, we can get a better picture of End Times and better embrace God’s most precious Word! 

Our focus primarily a critical and scholarly evaluation on the text and its context from the view of how it was understood in the time and culture from rigorous and sustained exegetical analysis (that is why this took 20 years). 

We will also consider the diachronic approach (i.e. the text’s phenomena interpretive history with its change through time, i.e. all the various views). The Inductive method that is employed is logical induction arising from inductance reactance of word meaning and context, and sentence structure proceeding from particular facts to a general conclusion. It is our attempt to take the principle inductive questions and seek what does the text plainly say, what does it mean and how does it apply today and weave it into a conversational presentation annotations and built points. Then, this induction is compared to logical deduction; “deductive reasoning” inferences from general principles from historicity, compared to others research evidence. We will also explore both the salient as well as the convergent and divergent views. I do not believe anyone has seriously done this; layout all the main views side by side next to the inductive and deductive research for each passage and then you can then make your own determinations.

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=67933&columnid=4624

http://70030.netministry.com/articles_view.asp?articleid=43884&columnid=3801 

Do you read from the Bible or read into the Bible? Do you know the difference? 

 

Did the early Church Fathers teach a rapture or a particular position of it?

 

This has been a common source to prove one’s position regarding end-time scenarios. See what the early church taught and assume it must be fact since they were closer to the original source, Christ, and were not convoluted by centuries of theology. This is actually a good way to see what a theological position is and how it can be measured. The problem is, many do not actually read the early writings, and when one does, he/she does not always understand the language and word meanings and thus may make assumptions that are not there.

Concerning articles and pre-tribulation-ism claiming proof from early church sources. My goal is not to mock these ministry, but to point out a common error. I assume their hearts are in the right place, but may be misguided by faulty thinking and unsound research. This is the typical, sloppy scholarship that has penetrated the Church at large and deceived (or better put, “distracted”) and preoccupied many people with the wrong things.

This is what is called EisegesisIsogesis, which means “to lead in” or “reading into” the sentence; in the Scriptures, it is inserting an opinion that is not there. An example would be to introduce into the text one’s own presuppositions, ideas, and thoughts…where the reader or Bible teacher seeks an answer to his opinion or position to be varied. Thus he/she looks for verification and finds a vague reference, then does not bother to do his/her homework to truly determine what is actually being said…

The question is, did the early Church Fathers teach rapture? The answer is a clear no! I diligently studied their writings trying to prove a rapture theory and I never found it. Did they teach that all Christians will escape the Tribulation through a gathering to the Lord, or that they would go through it? Either position is possible, but highly unlikely, as the context and subject of these quotes and others is off issue or on a different subject than the position being inserted into the text. Also, the terms used then are not the same as what we use today and thus we make assumptions that are not based on fact. In other words, we assume and do not check out the facts, and thus make a dogma out of speculations and nonsense; in so doing, we miss the main point of it all.

This is the classic quote that is often used for both positions:

The Shepherd of Hermas.

You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly.

Is this evidence of pre-tribulation-ism and/or a rapture, or is it a pre-tribulation escape from the Tribulation? First, one needs to learn how to read, not a quip, but when we read, ask the question, what is it? What did that term or name mean then to the original author and audience, not what does it mean to me nearly two thousand years later, filtered with preconceived theological bias or a desire to prove some theory. We also need to look at the context and word usages. The same is with the other quotes like Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren statements. They are not saying a rapture, but speculating what might happen with a view that is not in Scripture, but may have some distant semblance to modern speculations that are also not based on Scripture. And, if one did some basic research, they would find that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren were quickly refuted by scholars who did their homework. (By the way, these issues are so minor it is absurd we argue about them. By doing so, we disservice our Lord and take the attention off what He has for us.)

The real issue in Revelation and what this quote in Hermas alludes to is all about loyalty. The author tells us what is important, to not doubt in the presence of such a beast (meaning to not lose faith or doubt because one’s circumstances are tough. Beast refers to your opposition by political force or personal sin or persecution). Then, he states: prepare yourselves (meaning grow in faith), and repent (escape false thinking and embrace Christ as LORD) with all your heart, (make Christ first and foremost in one’s life) and turn to the Lord (lead your life as what Christ would have me do). This is about the continuing theme of our faith and allegiance, and about the contest and contrast of the mark of loyalty versus disloyalty. It refers to the loyalty of the faithful contrasting with the disloyalty of those who desire evil over the Way of God. If we try to read into this an end-time scenario, we miss the main point and delude ourselves. Further, if we teach this nonsense, we distract people from what is really important. We become the false teacher so refuted by 2 Peter. Read Matthew 24 and see what our Lord said about this. The point here is that God sees and protects those who are His (Rev. 3:12; 7:3-8; 13:16; 14:1-1; 22:4).

The true question to us all is not what esoteric theory best suits us; rather, will our loyalty and faith be to ourselves and/or evil, being easily led by manipulations, or will our allegiance be to the Lord and marked by Christ? Will our faith be about Christ as LORD or will our time and energies be spent on gibberish, distracting us and others away from faith, obedience, spiritual maturity, character, and Fruit?

Our trust in Christ (salvation) is what delivers us and daily life with the choices we make. This is not about esoteric whims; rather, it is about the practice of faith and trust and obedience in harsh times while still being loyal to Christ. This is what the Revelation was telling those seven churches and what it is telling us now.

How would you contrast loyalty versus disloyalty in your faith? What about how your church is run? How do you display loyalty to God and others?

These are the real issues; when we make up these foolish inconsequential theories, we take our eyes off Christ and place them on ourselves or something worse….we end up serving Satan or becoming a false teacher and flutter for our redactors and opponents while we forget about our Living LORD!