Sunday, February 28, 2010

The doom and gloom of "end times" theology.

For years I was a Dispensationalist. I attended Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell and almost attended Dallas Theological Seminary. Both schools are huge promoters of Dispensational eschatology. I eventually transferred and graduated from Columbia International University (Columbia Bible College at that time) in Columbia South Carolina. After teaching through the book of Revelation, and Daniel at my former church, I wrote the following paper on what scripure says about the "end times" or "last days." Hope it helps. I have more questions still but what I am clear on is covered in this paper. Your comments and questions are welcomed. 

Preterism vs Futurism
An Introductory Summary
1.      Introduction
2.     Key differences between Preterism and Futurism
3.     A closer look at scripture
4.     History behind Dispensationalism (The “Bankster” connection and Zionist influence)
5.     Two world views 

1. Introduction

The following is not intended to be an exhaustive discussion of the subject at hand but only an introduction and summary of key points in the hope that you will find enough here to spur you on to dig further. There are several well written books that discuss at length the points and passages raised in this paper which I am glad to recommend if interested. May God’s Spirit guide and direct us in all our seeking to know him better. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Most Christians have heard of the hugely popular and commercially successful “Left Behind” book series now being developed as a film series. Those of us a bit older are also familiar with Hal Lindsey’s 1970 best selling book “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” And some of us will even recall musician Larry Norman’s song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." If you haven’t heard of him, he is considered the “Father of Christian Rock” and his song was popular among the “Jesus People” in the late 60’s.

So what do all these have in common? They teach or promote a widely held eschatological system known as Dispensationalism. Generally speaking this is the teaching that the world will increasingly deteriorate morally until it gets so bad that God will have to judge and literally destroy it during the “Great Tribulation.” However right before he does, He will remove the church out of the world through an event called the “rapture;” hence the titles “Left Behind”, “The Late, Great Planet Earth” and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready."

If you are like I was you always assumed, due to the large number of adherents, that this teaching is squarely rooted in the bible. Certainly, we may think, the present downturn of morality in our country combined with the wide spread acceptance of this doctrine are proofs alone that this is taught by the bible. But could it be that this teaching is an example which falls under Christ’s warning that “broad is the way that lead’s to destruction…” If that statement seems a bit harsh or even crazy I encourage you to continue reading these next several pages to find out.

Before we dig in it is worth mentioning that Dispensationalism did not come on the scene within the Protestant church until just over 150 years ago. It was never taught in its current form prior to then. (Though what is sometimes referred to as “Historical Premillennialism” has been held by some from the earliest days of the church). 

Even though the church’s understanding of scripture has progressed over the years on many fronts (as well as regressed on others) it’s hard to image the church would have completely missed Dispensationalism for over 1850 years if it were as clearly taught in scripture as some suggest.

Did the church historically ever have any other views? There is actually another position held by many of the early church fathers as far back as the 2nd Century called Preterism. Though the label "Preterist" sounds somewhat ominous it comes from the Latin word praeter, which simply means "past."

There are generally two groups within the Preterist camp. Partial and Full Preterists. Partial Preterists believe most references to Christ’s coming refer to His coming in judgment on Israel for rejecting the Messiah during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD but not all references. They believe there will be a literal and physical return of Christ some day in the future (though not a secret rapture). This writer leans towards the partial Preterist position.

Full Preterists do not believe there will be a future physical and literal coming of Christ to earth but that ALL predictions of Christ return in the bible are past and were fulfilled when He came in judgment upon Israel in 70 AD. 

If this is the first you have heard of Preterism, no doubt this sounds odd to you. However even though the Preterist understanding of scripture may be new to you it is not new to the historical church but a position held within the church in some form from its earliest beginnings.

Though different in the one key aspect of the final return of Christ, both Partial and Full Preterists have the same focus and emphasis in one main area; to advance the Kingdom of God on earth here and now i.e. His spiritual rule as King in the hearts and minds of individual men and women (which in turn impacts society and culture around them) through calling them to personal salvation and submission to Christ as Savior, and King (Lord).

Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and (hastransferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

A broader grouping that includes Dispensationalists is referred to as Futurism. Though not all futurists are dispensationalists or believe in some kind of tribulational rapture (typically pre-tribulational) all futurists view most prophecies, particularly in the NT are yet to come in the future, hence the name “futurist.” Seventh Day Adventists would be an example of non dispensational futurists. 

This paper will focus more on the specific teaching of Dispensationalism since it is the most popular application of Futurism. Both however are similar in their general futuristic approach to prophecy i.e. the majority of New Testament as well as many OT prophesies are yet to be fulfilled. And both are therefore completely different then Preterism.

It is worth mentioning that many dispensationalists have modified their position in recent years in part due to the large amount of research, books and other material being put out by “Preterists” on passages like those that will be covered in this paper. “Progressive Dispensationalism” which surfaced around 1980 would be one example of this. 

Many of the passages that we will cover in this paper have been overlooked by all futurists due to the overwhelming influence of Dispensationalism within the evangelical church for over the last 100 years or so. But now through the efforts of many are being revisited. As a result more dispensationalists are talking about these passages and several (like me) have concluded Dispensationalism is not taught in the bible at all. In fact much of the research in this area is by former Dispensationalists.

2. Some key differences between the two positions

Further down we will be looking at specific verses regarding the subject at hand. At this time however I wish to point out some of the key differences between the two approaches.

One key difference is how these broad groups approach the Bible itself. The Preterist always seeks to understand a passage in the context of the entire book, as well as the context of the bible as a whole, Old and New Testament alike. In fact, most Preterist’s emphasis a proper understanding of the New Testament is heavily dependent on a sound understanding of the Old Testament. The Dispensationalist on the other hand may say the same thing but tend to interpret the bible, particularly the New Testament, according to pre-determined beliefs and/or current events instead of letting the bible interpret itself. (This is a serious assertion that I hope will be better established as we go on). As a result Dispensationalists and some futurists seek out those verses which appear to support there beliefs while avoiding those verses that clearly do not.

How these two positions approach the scriptures hermeneutically is the key to understanding the difference between Dispensationlism and Preterism.

As a result many passages are completely overlooked by dispensationalists. For example avoidance of certain significant passages is common within the Scofield Bible notes. This also happened to be the first study Bible ever published that took a Dispensational view, written by a businessman named C.I. Scofield. It has played a major role in the increased popularity of dispensationalism.

On many of the passages we will address in this paper there is no comment at all within Scofields notes. Scofield simply passes over them as if they aren’t there. When there is comment, it is often a very elaborate and complicated explanation necessary to explain away the plain meaning of the passage within its context. If these observations seem harsh, it’s worth pointing out that I held a Dispensational view a good part of my early Christian life and only in the last five years have I moved away from it. In fact the very FIRST bible I acquired some 45 years ago was the Scofield Reference Bible. I still have it!

I have also observed that though Dispensationalists claim to take a literal approach to understanding the Bible, with several passages they actually do just the opposite. They attempt to make these verses say something other then the plain, straight forward literal meaning called for in the context. This was the first hand experience of how I was taught and handled the Bible early in my Christian walk.

As an example a Dispensationalist will say that the words “soon” or “near” in several places in Revelation means soon or near from God’s perspective instead of from the perspective of the readers it was written to. However the Bible was not written for God but by Him and for the hearers at the time. In other words it literally means exactly what it is saying to the original readers it was written to. Of course we today still apply the truths and principles those hearers were given at the time. So in this sense all things in the bible are written for our understanding and benefit today as well as for the original hearers. However to properly apply those passages to ourselves today, we must first understand what God was saying to those hearers at that time in order to gain the benefit from them God intends for us now.

If you assume before you come to the book of Revelation (or any other passage such as Matt 24) that it is dealing only with things in the distant future it obscures the clear meaning of these passages. This is not unlike the evolutionist who presumes evolution is fact and seeks evidence to support this belief while ignoring evidence that does not. Shouldn’t we come to any passage with an open mind and blank slate and seek to understand by God’s Spirit what the passage says in its immediate and overall context instead of coming to it with pre determined conclusions?

3. When the bible does speak of future events. 

As a quick side note, if a passage is intended for a future audience it will often give an indication such as with Dan 12:4 when the prophet was instructed to seal up the vision for a later time.

Dan 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the bookuntil the time of the end…”

This passage in Daniel is very similar in structure and content to Rev 22:10 but different in application “And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” Both passages are given at the end of each prophecy.

The point being in Rev 22:10 is don’t put this book away… get the word out because the events I just covered are right around the corner. Whereas with Daniels prophecy those same events were years down the road yet, so seal them up until the time is right.

This is why it says in Rev 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” i.e. pay attention because things are getting ready to “go down.”

The time for the things I am telling you about is almost upon you, within the lifetime of the original hearers (the 7 churches). If you heed them and prepare accordingly you will benefit (be blessed).

The similarities and differences between the Daniel and Revelation passages are not insignificant when you consider both books are believed by Dispensationlists and Preterists alike to be dealing with the same subject matter.  

The main difference is Daniel was written hundreds of years prior to the predicted kingdom (Dan 2:35) and spiritual reign of Christ and Revelation was written a few years prior to the destruction of the nation of
Israel and his spiritual triumph and spiritual reign. 

For a discussion of why Revelation was written prior to the destruction of
Jerusalem in 70AD click here

This generation...

Dispensationalists also do not interpret scripture literally regarding the word “generation” (genea in the original Greek) in the passages below. This is important since the Olivet Discourse is the key passage called on to support Dispensationalism and also the passage where we get the phrase, “the great tribulation.” (the other is in Revelation 2:22 and 7:14. Whether you conclude the “great tribulation” is a past or future event, there is good reason to believe all 3 references are dealing with the same event)

Dispensationalist assert the word here used for “generation” does not literally mean generation but rather means “race” i.e. the Jewish race. Yet the word normally for “race” is genos; different then genea, used for “generation” in the below passages.

Mat 23:36   Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation (genea).

Mat 24:34  Truly, I say to you, this generation (geneawill not pass away until all these things take place.

Note, whatever Matthew is talking about sandwiched between these two references (one at the end of chap 23 and the other near the end of 24), it is going to happen to that generation not some off in the distant future.  This sandwiching of events is not unlike what we also see in Revelation 1:3 and 22:10 regarding things being near. We’ll come back to Revelation later. Back to the word generation.

Reference to “this generation” is also mentioned in Luke and Marks account of this same discourse of Jesus.

Luk21:32  Truly, I say to you, this generation (geneawill not pass away until all has taken place.

Mar13:30  Truly, I say to you, this generation (geneawill not pass away until all these things take place.

Unlike genea used above, genos and phusis are the only 2 words translated “race” in the entire NT and occur only a total of 4 times.  The primary word genos is used 3 times in Mar 7:26, Act 7:19, and 1Pe 2:9 and a third word, phusis only once in Jas 3:7.

Genea on the other hand is used 30 times and is always translated “generation” (as in the above passages from the Olivet Discourse). In the context it means generation exactly as you and I understand the meaning of that word.

In short, the word genea is always translated “generation” and genos is always translated “race” without exception

To say that genea (generation) means “race” here (which most dispensationalists assert) as the one exception when everywhere else it means generation is totally inconsistent. If the author intended to mean race in this instance would he not simply have used genos instead which is always translated “race?”

It should also be pointed out that though the two words, genea (generation) and genos (race), look similar and appear to have similar roots, you can see from Strong’s Greek Dictionary their primary meaning is different (which dictates our understanding of any secondary uses or meaning).  Even though both words actually mean generation, only genos allows for the idea of “kin” or race, where as genea does not.

γενεά, geneaghen-eh-ah'. From (a presumed derivative of) G1085generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons): - age, generation, nation, time.

γένος, genosghen'-os From G1096“kin” (abstractly or concretely, literally or figuratively, individually or collectively): - born, country (-man), diversity, generation, kind (-red), nation, offspring, stock.

The bottom line is whatever this passage is talking about, the events addressed are going to occur to the generation of the current audience that heard those cautions shared by Christ.

Though understanding the meaning of the original Greek is helpful this doesn’t prove or disprove what the passage means. However in this instance it does show the original meaning supports the meaning of these words as they are understood in their context. The understanding of a passage in its context is primary in determining the meaning of any passage.

Though these alternate explanations to the literal meaning of “generation” (and also “soon” “near” in Revelation we will look at shortly) are plausible they require one to come up with a meaning other then the plain meaning within the context. However I believe this approach is only necessary if one wishes to “explain away” the clear and literal meaning of those words in order to make these passages fit into a pre determined belief system.  If Dispensationalists claim and wish to handle scripture literally why assert that generation or soon and near mean anything other then their literal meaning. The fact is if try hard enough you can make the bible say pretty much anything you want it to. Just take the passage out of its context. This is not unlike what Jehovah Witnesses and Mormon’s do.

The Dispensationalist also attempts to apply a literal meaning to passages such as Matthew 24 or the book of Revelation that are clearly intended to be symbolic. So on the one hand they will avoid the literal meaning where they are clearly literal while on the other interpret passages that are symbolic as literal. A subtle and confusing approach to scripture at a minimum. 

For example a dispensationalist will say the sun, moon and star’s in Act 2:17-21 are literal when throughout the Old Testament they are repeatedly used symbolically unless clearly indicated otherwise. This certainly was Peter’s understanding when he quoted Joel in following passage and said in verse 16 that “this” (the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost) was what was spoken of by Joel and “those days” (verse 18) were upon them right now. Did any stars literally fall from the sky at Pentecost?

Act 2:5  Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven.
Act 2:6  And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language.
Act 2:7  They were amazed and astonished, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
Act 2:8  "And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?
Act 2:9  "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of MesopotamiaJudea and CappadociaPontus and Asia,
Act 2:10  Phrygia and PamphyliaEgypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Act 2:11  Cretans and Arabs--we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God."
Act 2:12  And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"
Act 2:13  But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine."
Act 2:14  But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.
Act 2:15  "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;
Act 2:16  but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:


Note when Peter quotes this passage from Joel; he does not leave out the reference to the “destruction” of the sun and moon. This was always puzzling to me as a “literal” Dispensationalist and I always wondered if this was a mistake by Peter. But to get it right, you have to know the Jewish understanding on this. The sun and moon as early as Genesis represented something that “rules” and is a symbol of authority. (see also Josephs vision in Gen 37:9-10).  As products of an Old Testament world view, this was clear and very much in keeping with the understanding of scripture by the Disciples of Christ and authors of the New Testament who were almost exclusively Jewish. The destruction referred to in Joel and quoted by Peter would be in perfect keeping with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the removal or the “turning into darkness” of the religious leaders of that day i.e. the Pharisees. The Joel passage is referring to the beginning of the New Covenant Church with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the beginning of the end of the Old Covenant as represented in the nation of Israel and OT sacrificial system. The former ruling authorities in God’s spiritual economy i.e. the nation of Israel and its leaders, were to be soon destroyed as the Joel passage indicate.

Contrary to the Dispensationalists assertion that they interpret the bible literally, their “literal” approach is actually very selective and not at all consistent. A literal approach is used when it supports their beliefs, such as with the Joel passage, but abandoned when it does not, such as with the words “generation” and “soon.”

To say it simply, instead of conforming their beliefs to the bible they seek to conform the bible to their beliefs. This is what is known as eisegesis. Exegesis seeks to extract from the text the original meaning intended by the writer. Eisegesis is to read one’s interpretation into a given passage or text. These are two very different approaches. I know because this is how I use to handle certain passages when I adhered to a Dispensational system. Whereas the Preterist seeks to let the context determine the meaning of a passage and whether we are to interpret it literally or figuratively. Even though a Dispensationalist would likely deny approaching scripture this way, the more closely you observe how they handle passages you will discover this is in fact what that they do. Because their whole approach to scripture is sensationalistic ("... the end is near!!! It's a sign of the times...!), this is overlooked by the adherents.

Certainly in some cases, in order to understand a passage we must dig deeply into the text, and context and search the scripture diligently to figure it out but this is not the same as substituting the plain meaning of a passage from its context to make it say something it clearly doesn’t say because it doesn’t fit our pre determined understanding.

At this point I feel it’s important to point out that it is not my desire to shame or criticize anyone. There is no doubt in my mind there are as many sincere believers among Dispensationalists as any other evangelical group. I know first hand because I was a Dispensationalist for many years and still have many friends who know and love our Lord within these circles today. My purpose in raising these issues is to help clarify how Dispensationalism handles the Bible so we can evaluate whether it is or is not valid.  As Paul exhorted in I Thes. 5:21 we are to “…test everything; hold fast what is good.”

Additional passages.

“End times” or “Last Days”

Often we will hear Dispensationlists say we are in the “last days” or the “end times” in reference to the end of the world right before Christ’s final return. But is this what the Bible teaches? Could the last days be referring to the ending of something other then the entire planet?

Preterists understand the bible to teach that the “Last Days” or “End Times” refer to the end of the Old Covenant/Testament predicted in the OT. (e.g. Jer 31:33) The “end of the age” was the end of the Old Covenant/Testament period and the beginning of the New Covenant/Testament. This end/new beginning was

1. Announced by John the Baptist when he called for Israel to “repent for the kingdom is at hand Mat 3:1,2

Mat 3:1  Now in those days John the Baptist *came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Mat 3:2  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mat 3:3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, "THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, 'MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!'"

2. Inaugurated with the death and resurrection of Christ Heb 1:2;9:26. Mat 27:50,51

3. Confirmed with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost Act 1:5,8; 2:17 and

4. Finalized with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD Mat23:36,38; 24:2,34; Lk 21:20

We will look at the above verses more closely soon (by “soon” I mean this in the common understanding of the word. Sorry, couldn’t resist but trust you appreciate the humor).

Both Dispensationalist and Preterist alike agree that the end of the OT age has come and gone for you and I. (This does not mean the OT no longer applies but we no longer practice animal sacrifice in a temple in anticipation of a future Messiah slain as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin). We now live under the New Covenant. (Read the book of Hebrews regarding this. Wrapping up the Old Covenant and implementing the new is a primary message of the entire book).

A closer look at references indicating that Christ already came at the end of the age, “last days” or “end times”

Heb 1:2 "...but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son..."

How long ago did the Son speak to us? In the last days, which were over 2000 years ago!

Heb 9:26 “for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

When did Christ put away our sins? At the end of the age which was over 2000 years ago!

1Co 10:11 “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instructionon whom the end of the ages has come.”

To whom and when were these things written down? To the believers of that day on whom the end of the ages had come, over 2000 years ago!

Act 2:12-20, specifically 16-17 "...But this is (referring to the falling of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost) what was uttered through the prophet Joel:" 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams...' "

When did this happen? In the last days, over 2000 years ago! Hope you are getting the point by now.

Dispensationalists assert these passages indicate the last days began with Christ’s first coming and continue on into today and then insert a gap between His first and second coming saying we are now at the end of those last days or the last days of the last days if you will. But this does not fit with the context of the rest of scripture which clearly indicates the end was referring to end of the Old Covenant which is past and not ongoing i.e. we are under the New Covenant today and have been since the resurrection of Christ. This is further evidenced by the total destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of Nation of Israel as predicted in several places in the Old Testament/Covenant (for a discussion on the role of Israels today click here). The Old Covenant has passed away and no longer applies hence the references to last days and end of the age.

Christ’s first coming was the beginning of the New Covenant or New Testament as the above scriptures indicate.  And to bring in the new you have to end the old. Christ’s coming was the “last days” of the Old Covenant and it’s “end time?” This is certainly in keeping with the above passages.

Was this anticipation of a soon return of Christ to wrap up the Old Covenant and finalize implementation of the new an isolated understanding? Was it something obscure or only hinted at by one of the disciples? No, it was also recorded by several key disciples (Peter, James, Paul, and John) to the churches. Since this widespread anticipation of the soon coming of Christ was addressed by several writers in addition to Christ Himself, we think it’s safe to say it was anticipated by the church at large and therefore the reason it was addressed on several occasions.

It is also important to point out that there is strong evidence that all NT books were completed before 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed; as well as the book of Revelation. 

(For a paper on the date of when Revelation was written, click here)  

1Pe 4:7 The end of all things is at hand (eggizō); therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Jas 5:7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (eggizō).

1Co 7:29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

By the way, why does Paul us the phrase “appointed time” here? This is because this ending of the Old Covenant via the death and resurrection of Christ was clearly predicted and anticipated by many places in the OT, particularly Daniel.

1Jn 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have comeTherefore we know that it is the last hour.

So what exactly is “the end”, the “last hour’, the “appointed time” that “is passing away” which will occur “soon” or “very shortly” which every one of these key disciples was anticipating to occur very soon, at any time? The dispensationlist focuses in on phrases such as "the world (literally) is passing away" or "the end of all things..." will occur and complete ignore repeated references to all these things happening soon and already beginning and therefore interpret these passages as talking about some future even yet to happen. But when you take in the entire context, this is referring to the world and all things as the Jewish nation and it's people knew it. The only event that fits not only scripturally but historically is the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel in A.D. 70. 

This was a future event to the readers of that day, but this is a past event for you and me. The “end” has already happened as far as it pertains to you and I! Its past, history, done!! These passages are not talking about the end of the world as we may have been taught by Dispensationlists, but rather the end of the Old Covenant age.

The meaning in the original of key words from above verses
  • “World” in I Cor 7:29 and Jn 2:17 is kosmos, kos'-mos. Which means orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]): - adorning, world.
The word commonly used for the literal planet earth would be oikoumenē (land, that is, the (terrene part of the) globe; specifically the Roman empire: - earth, world)̄.

Therefore it would make more sense that these passages are referring to the passing away of an orderly arrangement or order i.e. the Old Covenant and not planet earth as dispensationalists assert and would have us believe.

The more common word for the end of the world is αών or aiōn
From the same as G104; properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end).

·        “Near” γγύς, eggus, eng-goos'. From a primary verb γχω agchō (to squeeze or throttle; akin to the base of G43); near (literally or figuratively, of place or time): - from, at hand, near, nigh (at hand, unto), ready.

·        “At hand…” γγίζω, eggizō, eng-id'-zo. From G1451; to make near, that is, (reflexively) approach: - approach, be at hand, come (draw) near, be (come, draw) nigh.

·        “Short”- συστέλλω, sustellō, soos-tel'-lo, From G4862 and G4724; to send (drawtogether, that is, enwrap (enshroud a corpse for burial), contract (an interval): - short, wind up.

·        “Passing away”- παράγω, paragō, par-ag'-o. From G3844 and G71; to lead near, that is, (reflexively or intransitively) to go along or away: - depart, pass (away, by, forth).

·        “last” - ἔσχατος, eschatos , es'-khat-os. A superlative probably from G2192 (in the sense of contiguity); farthestfinal (of place or time): - ends of, last, latter end, lowest, uttermost. (This is where also get the word “eschatology” from which is a study of “last things”)

Who is Antichrist?

On a related note since John (the same author of Revelation) mentions “antichrist” and “antichrists” in his letters, it is worth pointing out that “antichrist” or “antichrists” is mentioned only in the 1st and 2nd letters of John. The word “antichrist” is mentioned no where else in the entire bible. It is not in Revelation, (which is even more curious considering this is the same John that God inspired to pen the 3 minor letters of John 1, 2, and 3). Antichrist is also not in the Olivet Discourse of Mat 24, Lk 21, Mk 13, or in Daniel or Ezekiel; key passages Dispensationalist use to reference future events when the “antichrist” is suppose to appear.

Unfortunately it is a common misunderstanding within and without the church that the word antichrist appears throughout the bible in several other places, particularly the book of Revelation. That simply is not the case. It is nowhere to be found other then the below passages in 1st and 2nd John.

This doesn’t in itself prove anything specifically about antichrist other then there is much misinformation, hearsay and misunderstanding within those who hold to dispensationalism or a futurist view of scripture (Revelation does speak of “the beast.” However who this is, is not who we are commonly told). But with all the talk about "The Antichrist" you get the impression it is far more commonly mentioned then in two very short NT letters by John. Especially when John wrote an entire book supposedly all about future events i.e. The Revelation of Jesus Christ (otherwise commonly referred to as the book of Revelation). This misunderstanding further stresses the importance of testing everything we might hear or read against the word of God and not base our beliefs just on what we are told. The bible is the final test of whether any teaching is valid, not common or popular beliefs.

You will also note below there are many deceivers referenced i.e. antichrists, not just one supposed character called "Antichrist." According to John, antichrist is anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ, who came in the flesh or denies the Father and the Son. Antichrist is a belief, attitude or spirit, not any particular person.

(2Jn 1:7 ESV)  For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the fleshSuch a one is the deceiver and the antichrist i.e. anyone who has such a spirit is against (anti) Christ.

(1Jn 2:18 ESV)  Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

(1Jn 2:22 ESV)  Who is the liar but he (not a particular he by any “he”) who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he (again any “he” who has this disposition) who denies the Father and the Son.

(1Jn 4:3 ESV) and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (antichrist was already present at the time John penned this passage)

The above verses are all the verses (4 in total) in the entire NT addressing antichrist.

What antichrists would you guess John is speaking of that had already come? Well, who were the biggest deniers that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, and was not from God in John’s day? Was it not the Scribes, Pharisees and most of the nation of Israel (except for the remnant of Christ's disciples who did accept Jesus as Messiah)?

And not just a passive denial but a denial so complete it lead to Christ’s rejection by the entire nation of Israel and His ultimate crucifixion. Can you think of any greater indication of the denial of Christ’s true status? And it is this denial resulting in the crucifixion of our Lord that was proof (i.e. “therefore” 1Jn 2:18) that they knew it was the last hour i.e. the wrapping up of the Old Covenant. God was getting ready to “close the book” on the Old Testament age along with the Nation of Israel. Look at 1Jn 2:17 -18 again. 

1Jn 2:17 -18 …And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, now many antichrists have comeTherefore we know that it is the last hour.

When Christ died that day the ripping in two of the curtain that separated the inner holy of holies from the rest of the temple was clearly a message from God and evidence that the Old Covenant system was being done away with. The final death knell would come within the generation of those who participated in His crucifixion by and through the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Christ and He alone was now our entrance into the presence of God. No longer did the OT sacrificial system apply and no longer was a location or a temple needed. Something Christ himself predicted early on in his ministry. The Old Covenant was done. The the New arrangement/Covenant which began at Christ's death, confirmed 3 days later at his resurrection, was culminated with Christ’s judgment of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These were the "last days" of the Old Covenant. 

The rejection of Christ by the nation of Israel i.e. “many antichrists” was indication that it was the last hour i.e. the wrapping up of the Old Covenant, and sealed Israel’s destruction and judgment which was also predicted by Christ at the end of Matt 23 and beginning of 24 mentioned further down and in Luke 21, the parallel passage to Matt 24. 

Luk 21:20  "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,  22  for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 

Mat 24:15  "So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16  then let those who are in Judea (clear indication of a local, not a world event) flee to the mountains. 17  Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house,  18  and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak.
19  And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20  Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath (clear indication of a Jewish, not an international event). 21  For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

The prediction and role of John the Baptist in preparing others for the coming kingdom

Is the kingdom of God some future 1000 year reign of Christ on earth or something else?  We are often told within Dispensational circles God’s real or formal rule on earth has not yet begun and will not begin until a future and literal 1000 year earthly reign. Again, let’s look at the Bible and see what it says?

Mal 4:5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Mat 11:10 This is he of whom it is written, "'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist… 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

Mat 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand(eggizō)."… 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you (personally, not some future generation) to flee from the wrath to come?

According to Christ himself, these references to John the Baptist indicate he was the Elijah spoken of in the O.T. that was to prepare the way before “the great and awesome day of the Lord” and “the wrath to come.” And what wrath would that be if not the wrath of God poured out on the nation of Israel for rejecting the Messiah. The only event that fit these criteria mentioned in these passages was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This is the only wrath that was at hand and occurred during the time of John and experienced by the hearers of Christ’s words.

The coming destruction of Jerusalem and establishment of God’s Kingdom

We are told by Dispensationalists that Christ’s prediction of His return in judgment is a physical return in some far off distant time in the future. However most of Christ’s predictions (to his hearers at that time, not to you and I) concerning his soon return were regarding his coming in judgment upon Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as further indicated in the following verses. You will want to read these in their full context to get the complete sense of them but this will give you an idea.

The context is Christ rebuking the Pharisee’s while He was in the temple, which is covered in Matt 23. After leaving the temple the disciples inquired “when would these things be…?” Christ shared with his disciples on the Mount of Olives his prediction of the coming judgment and destruction of the temple which he just predicted in Mat 23:38. He then covers this coming judgment in more detail in Matt 24.

Mat 23:36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation...

Mat 23:38 See, your house is left to you desolate. (“house” being the Temple as born out by the context)

Mat 24:2  ...Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." (in reference to the temples destruction)  

Mat 24:34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

And one of “these things” among many mentioned in this passage is the “great tribulation” vs 21

Luk 21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near (eggizō).

The Luke and Matthew passages above are each author’s version of the same Olivet discourse. This is also covered in the Gospel of Mark chapter 13.

The only event that occurred to “this generation” of the magnitude (great tribulation) Christ warned of was Jerusalem being surrounded by armies and destroyed in 70AD.

It’s worth noting that Christ’s prediction that these things would happen to “this generation” are sandwiched between verses Mat 23:36 and 24:34 not unlike the “soon” and “near” passages in the opening and closing verses of Revelation i.e. the events sandwiched between these verses were to happen to this generation in Matthew and soon in Revelation. (See further comments on Revelation below). The get a proper understanding of the sandwiches verses you must know who they were written to first i.e. to that generation, not someone in the distant future. 

This is a critical point since all the events in between are usually interpreted literally by Dispensationalists and assumed to not have happened yet e.g. according to Dispensationalists since there is no time in history that the sun and moon literally stopped shining as mentioned in both the Olivet Discourse, Peter's quote of Joel in Acts 2 or the book of Revelation etc. these passages must yet be future. This is based solely on a literal interpretation when everything points to sun and moon being figurative. However Christ himself said all these things would happen soon and to that generation. So did Christ have it wrong and we should believe the Dispensationalists over Christ’s words? Dispensationalists beliefs are so sure for them, that they apparently would have us to discard what Christ said himself?

3 additional passages rarely discussed by Dispensationalists on his coming soon
     1. Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'… 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Why would Christ say his disciples would not get to everyone with the message of the kingdom before the Son of Man comes. Comes? How is the Son of Man going to come before they are able to reach all the towns if he's already there? This is referring to a later coming. But how much later. Surely they would have plenty of time to reach all the towns if this was his coming at the end of the world at some far off future date. This is referring to His coming in judgment upon Israel in AD 70, before they are able to reach all the towns. 

This passage clearly implies the coming of Christ’s Kingdom is so near that according to Christ Himself the disciples would not have time to complete the assignment. Also the fact that the assignment dealt only with the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” suggests this coming had something to do with Israel exclusively and not with the entire world. The fact that this assignment is not addressed simply by the preaching of the gospel of salvation but deals with the coming of judgment and destruction upon Israel only makes sense (it also fits other passages covered in this paper that address the same issue) since later on in Acts Peter is clearly instructed in a vision from God to take the message of salvation to Cornelius the Gentile, Act 10:9-35. So the coming of the Son of Man in the above passage has to be something entirely different then simply preaching salvation offered later to both Jew and Gentile alike. Their assignment wasn’t about the salvation message but was to warn those of Israel of the soon coming destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the entire nation predicted in several passages in the OT. A scattering so complete Israel was not reestablished until 1948, over 1900 years later. 

It should be evident and pointed out that throughout the gospels the reference of his Kingdom coming was of a spiritual Kingdom, not a literal political or physical one as anticipated and assumed by the nation of Israel (as well as his own disciples at first). It was this misunderstanding that became the major obstacle to Israel as a whole hearing Christ’s true message of His Kingdom rule within the individual hearts and minds of those who believed in Him.
2. Mat 16:27 tells us, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 
If we were to stop here the above verse sounds like Christ it is addressing his coming at the end of the world. After all it is a coming “with his angels.” But then He adds the following…

28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Clearly this is not a reference to an event at the end of the world. This coming of His Kingdom had to occur within the lifetime of at least some of his listeners for them to see it before they died.

Since this passage mentions His coming with angels will occur within the lifetime of some of his hearers this also sheds a whole new light on what “coming with his angels” might mean in other passages referencing angels as well. These passages are not necessarily addressing Christ’s final coming merely because angels are mentioned. They could easily be referring to something other then the end of the world in the same way the Matthew 16 passage does above. Mat 13:39, Mat 13:41, Mat 13:49, Mat 16:27, Mat 24:31,Mat 25:31, Mar 8:38, Mar 13:27, Mar 13:32, Luk 9:262Th 1:7 Heb 12:22, 1Pe1:12.

     3.Mat 26:63 But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you (not some future generation) will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven."
The cloud is often the symbol of the terrible and of destruction. The day of Yahweh's reckoning is called the “day of clouds” (Eze 30:3) and a day of “clouds and thick darkness” (Zep 1:15). The invader is expected to “come up as clouds” (Jer 4:13). Joel (Joe 2:2) foretells the coming of locusts as “a day of clouds and thick darkness” which is both literal and figurative. Misfortune and old age are compared to “the cloudy and dark day” (Eze 34:12) and “the clouds returning after rain” (Ecc 12:2).
Why does Christ say “from now on…?” Because this hearing before the high priest was the sentencing of Christ’s death and it is by his death that the inauguration of his kingdom and the New Covenant began. This is also why John the Baptist said the kingdom of God the kingdom of God was “at hand.” Christ had not yet died and resurrected.

What is the significance of “the right hand of power…?” It is Christ’s declaration of His crowning as King of the kingdom that was initiated at His death and confirmed by His resurrection. His kingdom began at that time and not at some far off future date that runs for a 1000 years.

Some might argue the “you” above (as well as in Mat 3:1 earlier) means you as a representative of all Israelites for all generations of Israelites including those in the future. But is this not reading into the passage a certain meaning that actually isn’t present in the text or context itself, instead of just simply reading it? Why is such an elaborate explanation of an otherwise clear meaning needed, unless the explanation is necessary to make the passage fit a pre determined belief? Even if this dispensational explanation is plausible, you still have to address all the other passages that cannot be explained away in the same manner. As long as there is just one passage that does not fit a dispensational interpretation (and there is far more then just one), it requires we evaluate all passages interpreted this way. To interpret this particular passage in the way Dispensationalists suggest is to ignore the immediate context as well as the context of all the rest of scripture.

Now we will look at His coming covered in Revelation.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, (again a symbol of judgment) and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth (the Greek word for ‘earth’ throughout Revelation without exception is the word “ge” that literally means “soil” and usually refers to the land or a region, not the whole earth) will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

tribes - phule

Thayer (Greek dictionary) Definition:

1) a tribe
1a) in the NT all the persons descending from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch, Jacob

Tribe can also be translated clan. In either case this is likely not referring to all the various nations of the entire earth but to the 12 tribes i.e. the nation of Israel. 

(It is also worth noting the word “world” used throughout Revelation is not the word used for the entire planet but either the word oikoumenē which refers to the region i.e. to that area or region, typically the Roman Empire. OR the other word used is kosmos which means “orderly arrangement” such as the Old Covenant arrangement.)

On the above verse 7 most Futurists and Preterists both agreed this is the theme verse of Revelation. Preterists however would point out (among other things) that coming with clouds was typically a symbol of God coming in judgment throughout the OT and not with literal clouds.

His soon coming in Revelation

The following verses in Revelation indicate that whatever the nature of this coming is in Rev 1:7 above, along with the surrounding events covered throughout the rest of the book, the time for them to happen was near and soon

Not only does John emphasize that the things written in the book are to occur soon, (at least 9 times) but he mentions this both in the very beginning and end of the book (1:1 and 22:20) stressing not only the significance of when the things covered throughout the entire book were to occur but that everything sandwiched in between is to occur soon, or is near or at hand

If we set aside any preconceived notions of what we think Revelation is about and simply read the opening and next to last verse of the book (1:1 and 22:20) literally (as Dispensationlists say you should) what would we conclude? Here they are below. Try it.

1. (Rev 1:1)  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon (tachos) take place

2.  Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon (tachu)." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Just from the opening and closing verses alone wouldn’t we simply conclude that whatever is happening in this book will happen soon? Isn't this what is plainly stated in these verses? Yet because we come to the book with pre determined beliefs told to us by others we don’t even notice these time references but pass right over them. I know! I did for years before I saw this. Read these two verses again with no predetermined view and see if you can come up with any other meaning. Yet to make these verses fit an interpretation that doesn’t match a normal meaning for “soon” we must come up with some elaborate explanation of why they don’t mean simply what they are saying. This is certainly not the literal approach to scripture Dispensationlists claim to adhere to and advocate but rather a meaning read into scripture from a belief held on to and brought to scripture before they read it.

If you look at these same words in the original language, the meaning in the Greek for soon and near is very simple and straightforward and says nothing other then what the words mean.

Soon – τάχος, tachos,  takh'-os. From the same as G5036; a brief space (of time), that is, (with G1722 prefixed) in haste: - + quickly, + shortly, + speedily.

Near - γγύς, eggus,  eng-goos'. From a primary verb γχω agchō (to squeeze or throttle; akin to the base of G43); near (literally or figuratively, of place or time): - from, at hand, near, nigh (at hand, unto), ready.

Here are all of the time references in Revelation.

1.  (Rev 1:1)  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon (tachos) take place
2.     (Rev 1:3) … for the time is near (eggus).
3.    Rev 2:16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon (tachu) and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
4.     Rev 3:11 I am coming soon (tachu). Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
5.     Rev 22:6 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon (tachu) take place."
6.    Rev 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon (tachu). Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
7.   Rev 22:10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near (eggus)..

Again, contrast the last verse above with Dan 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the bookuntil the time of the end…” The events of that particular vision given to Daniel were far away and therefore to be sealed up until the time of its fulfillment was at hand. This is important considering both Dispensationalists and Preterists alike believe both books are dealing with the very same events. The instructions given to Daniel are very different then those give to John in Revelation. John was told, close to the very end of the book, not to seal it up “for the time is near” i.e. get the word out. Something important is about to happen! The chorus of that famous Temptations song of the 70’s “Get ready, cause here I come…” would be an appropriate contemporary example of what Revelation is saying.

In fact John stresses the benefits of reading the book now when he said in Rev 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Why are they blessed? Because in heeding what was written they will be warned of the soon coming events and have an opportunity to prepare and act accordingly before they happen. This fits with the warnings and promises Christ also gave in Mat 24:4, 6, and 13,16,25,44.

8.     Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon (tachu), bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

9.    Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon (tachu)." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Something that always puzzled me as a Dispensationalist is why John would address seven literal churches of his day and then jump into events that supposedly were to happen literally thousands of years later. The Dispensational explanation is John is either talking of seven church ages over time that come right up to our present time or he was addressing both historical churches and church ages. However doesn’t it make more sense that he is simply addressing 7 literal churches of his time because all the events covered throughout the rest of the book are to occur in or near this time as well? If you have a pre determined understanding that Revelation is dealing with the distant future, you’ll miss this very simple and clear understanding of the book. With a close look it becomes clear John is addressing 7 literal contemporary churches of his day. When you understand the whole book is dealing with events which were also going to affect these present day churches in Rev 2:16 and 3:11 there is no need to come up with an elaborate alternate explanation. Revelation is simply dealing with events that are to occur shortly after John penned The Revelation.

Certainly many passages require extra effort to be understood. But some passages are very simple and straight forward requiring little digging or explanation to understand. Especially when certain points are stated repeatedly in several different ways i.e. such as “coming soon”, “the time is near” “will soon take place…” as they are here in Revelation. When they are straightforward, why would one wish to bypass the obvious meaning and come up with some elaborate explanation completely different then what is plainly in front of them, unless they come to these with a pre determined belief. This uncovers what I believe is the most important issue in understanding why dispensationalists approach the bible as they do i.e. Dispensationlism is a doctrine that must be believed before one comes to the bible if it is to be adhered to. It is not actually extracted from the Bible itself.

The bottom line in understanding any passage is to find which interpretation best fits the immediate context first and then the overall context of scripture. If we always ask these questions whenever we approach any passage, we are far more likely to get it right and far less likely to get it wrong.

In concluding this section it was not my intent to provide an exhaustive look at whether or not Dispensationlism is scripturally valid. To be convinced will likely require considerably more study then I have offered here. Hopefully however I have raised serious enough questions that you will be stirred to dig in more to see if my assertions fit with the rest of scripture.

The passages and word studies I have touched on are key yet they are either ignored or explained away when raised. These passages do not fit into a Dispensational understanding of the bible. We must ask why. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, these are passages that one must seriously consider and address if you wish to continue holding to a Dispensational view of scripture.

4. History behind Dispensationalism

Up until now we have dealt almost exclusively with various scripture passages and how to interpret them. Now we will see if history can shine any light on this subject.

Concerning the history of Dispensationalism it should be pointed out that the promotion and expansion of Dispensationalism appears to have had considerably more to do with political views of Zionism, then with the teaching of scripture. A little known document called The Blackstone Petition or Blackstone Memorial called for the reestablishment of the State of Israel back 120 years ago in 1891. It was submitted by a lay minister/real estate developer named William Blackstone (not to be confused with the British attorney who wrote “Commentaries” on Common Law in the 1700’s).

Blackstone was a “student” of John Nelson Darby’s teachings, who was considered the “Father of Dispensationalism."

Even though most of us have likely never heard of this petition it was not an insignificant document at the time when you consider some of those who signed it. For example J.P. Morgan, John D. and William Rockefeller, who were signers also happened to be key “players” in forming the Federal Reserve System implemented in 1913 under which our country’s monetary system now operates. (For an excellent book on the issues regarding the Federal Reserve I highly recommend

If the involvement by these signers seems unimportant or irrelevant you may also wish to read which addresses our current monetary system. This will help tie this part together.

Is it merely a coincidence these particular gentlemen were signers of this petition? If you understand the destruction and deception of the Federal Reserve System as discussed in the links immediately above this simple fact alone makes the early support and promotion of the dispensational system by these men highly suspect. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If the connection is not apparent at this time I encourage you to do your own research. The links above will be a good starting place. If you really dig around it gets even more interesting from there. To understand why I say this, be sure to read the Christianity Today article at the first link in this section above.

It should be pointed out of the 413 signers of this Petition only a total of 15 were either Rabbi’s or of Jewish or Hebrew decent. That is less then 4%. Just as an example one of the Jewish signers happened to be a banker and President of a bank called “International Bank.” Yet this petition was suppose to be about bringing Jews back to their “homeland” not about politics or finance. To read this list of signers you would think this petition had more to do with some corporate venture instead of a spiritual/religious effort.

The rest of the signers were a mixture of Protestant clergymen, representatives of several major national news papers, politicians, government workers such as postmasters, judges, clerks and even some collectors of revenue along with a variety of businessmen. The whole list can be found at Considering the apparent nature of this petition this was a curious mix indeed, wouldn’t you agree?

The rabbit whole goes even deeper however when you consider that J.P. Morgan and interests also purchased every major newspaper of his time in order to control the information going to the public to protect “their interests.”

The banksters (the name I like to give to those who run the private banking system called the Federal Reserve) were smart enough when they pushed through the Federal Reserve Act that they knew to pull off the control of the newly implemented money system they would need to also control the information to the public via the news which is exactly what they did over 90 years ago.  

To the shock of anyone learning this for the first time the main stream media has actually been controlled by the "banksters" since that time. This is not conspiracy theory but documented in the Congressional Record of 1917 on page 2947. If you wish to see a photo copy and discussion of the Congressional record click here

As further indication of the influence and control of the media I offer you these additional quotes.  

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dare to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my' paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. 

-John Swinton, former chief of staff, The New York Times, in a 1953 speech before the New York Press Club 

"We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promise of discretion for almost forty years... It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practiced in past centuries".

-David Rockefeller, in an address given to Catherine Graham, publisher of The Washington Post and other media luminaries in attendance in Baden Baden, Germany at the June 1991 annual meeting of the world elite Bilderberg Group. 

"We are going to impose our agenda on the coverage by dealing with issues and subjects that we choose to deal with".

-Richard M. Cohen, former Senior Producer of CBS political news

 "Our job is to give people not what they want, but what we decide they ought to have" 

-Richard Salant, former President of CBS News

"Only the small secrets need to be protected. The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity"(i.e. disbelief)

-Marshall McLuhan, media 'guru'

Comments in (  )’s and or with emphasis mine.

Why take so much time on addressing the media in a paper on Dispensationalism? If you get nothing else from this article please understand this; the current political and monetary system has subtle but clear connections to a system that is far more encompassing then simply a theological view. And in order for this financial/political system to survive we must remain ignorant and apathetic to the true nature of events related to the banksters; thus the necessity of controlling the information outlets. Truth, caring and action by you and I are the banksters biggest fear. That’s why any exposure of this information is often aggressively attacked with considerable effort to discredit it.  If you have read this far you are apparently neither apathetic and you can certainly say you are no longer ignorant. But it is our fault as the church as much as anyone’s on why this monetary/political system has thrived and exists to this day.  And it is also our problem to solve. Politicians have proven they are not interested in truly addressing this banking system. In fact they helped to implement it either directly or by turning a blind eye.  

Am I saying the banksters actually created this system called Dispensationalism. Not at all. I do think however, they saw in dispensational teaching a perfect opportunity and vehicle to aid in their efforts to implement a one-world system. If the church can be convinced that the bible predicts the coming of a one-world system under some diabolical opponent to God Himself, then to resist it is futile. Why would any good Christian want to go against what the bible predicts is inevitable.

Though our understanding of the subject of this paper must be formed primarily from scripture the political/historical/financial roots of Dispensationalism play a far greater role to the promotion of this teaching to the church then many may realize. Since the focus of bible students including Preterists is mainly on understanding what scripture teaches regarding the “end times” this lack of awareness of its historical roots is understandable, however I believe knowing the history behind the promotion of this doctrine is of no small consequence and should be considered more closely by all students of the bible. Therefore I have taken the time to address this side of this rather involved subject of Dispensationalism.

I believe it is the intention of those who seek to rule us (whoever they may be) that buy into the pessimistic mindset fostered by Futurism as a whole and Dispensationalism particularly (we will address this pessimism immediately below in “Two World Views…”). The result is we unintentionally (by us but not them) look to our rulers for solutions to our problems and not to God. (I believe this also in part explains why Futurism and particularly Dispensationalism is such a wide spread and popular notion among many non Christians as well. No other teaching that is supposedly based on scripture is more widely received by the non Christian community then this “end time” doctrine. That in itself should raise a red flag as to the validity of this teaching. Are not the things of the gospel normally foolishness to the world? (Christ’s word’s “broad is the road that leads to destruction…” may be very appropriate here). I believe those who wish to rule over us count on us, the church as a whole, doing just what we are doing which is next to nothing when it comes to advancing the Kingdom of God here and now and speaking out against the corruption going on at all levels, especially within Government. (For those who wish to raise the question of obeying the authorities in Rom 13 at this point, keep in mind Christ’s most scathing criticisms were against the Pharisees who were the religious authorities in Israel during Christ’s time on earth. If you care to read more on this subject CLICK HERE). The pessimism created by the belief in futuristic Dispensationalism actually aids the advancement of one world government and plays right into their hands (after all, according to Dispensationalism a one world government headed by a political figured called “The Antichrist” is predicted in the Bible so why resist it). I think if the introduction of Dispensationalism was not expressly for the purpose of creating a passive church which indirectly aids the advance of one world government it has certainly been cleverly utilized toward that end.

I also think attempts to label Preterism as anti-Semitic (yes it’s true, believe it or not. This is the kind of attack I mentioned above) is being used to further these same ends. And if you understand that Satan is ultimately behind anything that neuters the church’s effectiveness in the world all of this is not beyond reason but in fact makes perfect sense. As you further study the history behind Dispensationalism, if it isn’t already apparent, it will become more apparent how all of this is connected. 

5. Two World Views = two totally different approaches to our world

So far I have addressed the more technical aspects of our understanding of key passages as well as the history of Dispensationalism. But are their any practical implications regarding this issue? Do these two systems have any effect on how we as the Church universal address our world today? I have already alluded to this in the last section but wish to take a closer look.

Let’s look at how each position deals with the moral decay in our system, the courts, and culture. Why do you think the Evangelical church by and large is so resigned to let things continue to deteriorate morally, politically, and economically virtually unchallenged? Whenever I have sent info to my futurist friends regarding current decay in our country there response is always, "it's a sign of the times and the imminent return of Christ" and then they go about their business as if there is nothing they should or can do about it. Why try and fight it. After all it is all part of God’s plan and has already been predicted and predetermined.

But how does a "Preterist" respond? When things grow more oppressive they pray even more earnestly and work even more diligently that God would reverse the trend in order to aid the advancement of His kingdom on earth. Reversal of moral corruption and the advancement of God’s kingdom is believed to not only be possible but is in fact God's desire and will. The "preterist" sees current events as an opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God instead of a reason to “through up our hands” and "hunker down" while we endure the decay until the Lord returns to rescue aka “rapture” us out of this current mess. The Preterist view is the complete opposite of the classical passive approach displayed by the vast majority of dispensationalists.

The futurist says, it's all planned out and to fight against the "signs of the times" is futile. This is the last days after all. It’s all planned. It’s all inevitable. Fighting this is the equivalent of “polishing the brass on a sinking ship” as one author suggested. Why bother! The ship is sinking.

The "Preterist" however says current events (whatever the deterioration is we are currently facing) are contrary to God's will (the advancement of His Kingdom on earth) and we must pray and work all the more earnestly for it's reversal. The worse it gets the greater the opportunities to do so, because we are in fact called by Christ himself to this end. If the economy continues to deteriorate, what a great opportunity to minister to people in need and point them to Christ as their comfort in time of trouble!!! A very different mindset's then shaking our heads at the downturn while we sit around gazing in the sky looking and hoping for our Lord’s return to physically remove us out of the world, wouldn’t you agree. 

Now consider how much greater an impact the church would have on our culture today if they all held a historical/preterist understanding of God's Word compared to a futurist view. Christians would be far more actively engaged in challenging and seeking to infuse God's influence into society today. And when we share Christ it would not be to share Him as an insurance policy to "rapture" them out of this doomed world and save their “skin,” but simply because they need Him and need for Him to change their lives and deliver them from MORAL decay of this present existence, not remove them physically from the earth. This in turn would advance His rule and reign on earth. Are you starting to see the difference? These are two VERY different views with two very different responses to our current world.

So there is no confusion I am not suggesting that we change our understanding of scripture in order to be more effective in the world today. What I am saying is by aligning our world view with scripture we will be more effective.

There is another very significant area these two views have an effect on. Would not the church be far more aggressive in seeking to point our fellow men and women of Jewish ancestry to Christ for salvation then we are today? Whenever Paul addressed the "Jew/Gentile" question did he not say "to the Jew first, then the Gentile?" Yet this is not the attitude of much of the “Gentile” church today. (Actually there should be no such distinction within the church. I am only speaking of our priority in advancing God's kingdom here on earth). How many converted Jews attend evangelical churches that you are aware of? How many converted Jews do you know personally? We know converted Hispanics, Asians, even Arabic/Moslems, etc. etc. don't we? Where are our fellow Jewish believers? Why are they not more incorporated into our evangelical churches? Why are their churches just made up of “messianic Jews?” According to Paul there is no longer a distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ. Rom 10:12, Gal 3:28, Col 3:11.

If we held a "Preterist" view our focus instead of seeking to support Israel financially and politically would be to reach them spiritually. Yet we “Gentile” believers somehow (actually it is clearly tied to futurist view of the nation of Israel) ignore their need spiritually and seek to advance them materially and politically instead. Was it not the focus of Christ while on earth to reach His fellow countrymen spiritually and was this also not the very same reason they missed the message of the Messiah, because they saw His message of salvation as earthly instead of spiritual? Their desire for "political/earthly salvation" caused them to miss the real message of Christ's all together. Are we as evangelicals making the very same mistake in seeking the political, earthly salvation of the state of Israel first instead of their spiritual salvation? What is the greatest need of all men, the Jew first and then the gentile. Is it not to find him as the Christ, the anointed one i.e. the Messiah and Savior first and foremost? Again, these are two very different approaches to this matter of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.

With this understanding how differently might we handle events in the Middle East? Instead of sending billions in cash over the years to Israel, to aid them in defending themselves militarily we should be using these huge amount of funds to send missionaries. And what best sustains "freedom and democracy" if not the gospel itself. No culture has ever advanced because "democracy" was the focus. The solution to man’s problems is not political but spiritual. When Christ is the focus i.e. the advancement of his Kingdom on earth through the conversation of individual men and women, has always resulted in a dramatic change for good in society. In every culture where God's kingdom was advanced through the conversion of peoples to Christ; liberty, order, truth and morality followed soon after and often for years to follow. 

I also wish to point out there is a clear distinction between conversion to Christ and the “Americanization” of a country. I am certainly not opposed to America. I love America for the freedom it historically has stood for and the creativity and generosity it still promotes. I love all aspects of America that recognize His word and grew out of a desire to honor Him. But what made America great was the humble submission of men and women to Christ and his rule/kingdom individually that in turn lead to our submission to His rule collectively. Somehow many in the church have confused conversion to Christ and “being American” as one and the same thing. That which is still good about American is only that which springs forth from a desire to honor Him. America historically has simply been one of the best examples of this but certainly is not the only example. Our loyalty should be to Christ first, and our country only to the extent it seeks and promotes Him and His rule over us. Everything wrong with America is exactly that which is opposite of this. We should not be saying “America, love it or leave it” or “might makes right” but instead be considering how America as a whole has strayed from it’s original commitment to God and His truth so we may pray with our eyes open and seek God to restore her original honor. When we as a nation begin to honor Him again, not with lip service but with our loyalties and actions, He will in turn honor us again as a nation. As long is we flippantly disregard honoring God, He will disregard us and continue to remove His hand of provision and protection.

Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

Jas 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

What is known as "The First Great Awakening" occurred in the north American Colonies in the 1730's and 40's. Do you think that played any role in the forming of our country in 1776? Look at every spiritual awakening in history. History is full of examples of this very truth. Do you think it was because we were set up as a Republic that we prospered as a nation or was it rather we prospered because we recognized God was the ultimate law giver to whom we must give an account and sought to design a form of government that best reflected this reality? Yet in today’s US of A we wish to transport "democracy" around the world. Democracy however is not the solution to man's needs, Christ is and Christ alone!!! "Advancing democracy" is like hanging plastic apples on a bush and saying, "see, it's now an apple tree" and then patting ourselves on the back for how good a job WE did!! Yet, the hearts of men must change first and that ONLY through the work of Christ, before any real and lasting change in culture can occur. We know this to not only be true from scripture but from history as well.

As one of the Pastors of my church pointed out, the difference between the Dispensational and Preterist camps is similar to the contrast between two armies - one planning to endure a siege, the other planning for an extended campaign of conquest. But in this instance we are speaking of spiritual conquest, not military conquest. Not only would the attitudes be different, their activities would reflect the needs they anticipate. In the army expecting siege (i.e. Dispensationalism), there would be little need for leadership development or generational transfer. With Dispensationalism everything is geared toward the immediate future not for the long term planning of building something that will help advance God’s kingdom for years to come.

This same pastor pointed out it was once overheard on a futurist website: “Actually, it's always darkest...just before it goes completely black.”!

However a historical understanding of scripture gives you a TOTALLY different attitude with huge implications on how we approach everything! With this understanding you seek the advancement of the kingdom and see the importance to share this with all who will hear it. As certain aspects of our world become more bankrupt, spiritually, morally, financially, the appeal of Christ and the need for HIS solutions only become more apparent and the opportunities only increase, not decrease.

The sad truth is in much of the evangelical church in America we have a pessimistic mindset about the advancement of God’s kingdom and it shows. The reality however is God is about advancing His kingdom. It’s just not happening to a great extent in America presently.

·        According to the author Jim Rutz’s book Megashift, until 1960, Western evangelicals outnumbered non-Western evangelicals – mostly Latinos, blacks and Asians – by two to oneAs of 2000, non-Western evangelicals outnumbered Westerners by four to one. He says in 2010, that ratio should be seven to one.
·        "There are now more missionaries sent from non-Western nations than Western nations," according to the the author.
·        Church growth outside of America is now breathtaking. Every morning, there are 175,000 more Christians in the world. And if current growth rates (8% a year) continue, there would be more Christians than the present world population by the autumn of 2032... about 8.2 billion.

Does the bible say anything about this?

Dan 2:34 As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Dan 2:35 …the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

The numbers above are no surprise because American is the strongest promoter of Dispensational theology.

It is worth noting that when Christ said "the gates of hell will not prevail" against the church, our English translations don't do justice to the full meaning. The sense in the original is the gates of hell will not withstand or stand up to the advancement of the church. (That was originally pointed out to me by a futurist interestingly; Dr. Ed Hindson who use to teach at Jerry Farwell's Liberty University). 

Talk about an optimistic mindset!!!! We are on the winning team, not just in eternity but here and now and we need to start acting like it if we are going to have any chance of significantly impacting our world for Christ! How desperately the church needs to get a hold of this (myself included). How sad and unfortunate it is that because of the futurist pessimism (“it’s a sign of the times. The end is near. Hold on! Jesus is coming soon!” etc. etc.) that has permeated much of the church we have disengaged to a large extent in speaking into our world and as a result have acquiesced to the government to turn things around instead of Christ. Where in the bible does it tell us to look to government as our Savior? No where!!! If we understood God has called us, you and me to be salt and light in this dark world and the decay of our culture and society falls on us to address by the power of His Spirit driving us and not our government we would be on our knees day and night until His Spirit got a hold of us first. And then through us He would get a hold of our fellow man and ultimately our culture and government as well. Desperate times call for desperate measures and desperate dependence on God and Spirit driven action for God. Instead of enduring all the garbage and deception in the world as we look to the sky hoping and waiting for Christ to come and rescue us from it all before it gets too bad, we should be speaking out on the bankruptcy of this world and unapologetically offering the hope and power of Christ in this life as well as the one to come. How exciting, positive and refreshing is that!?! May God give us the grace and understanding to see His heart on these things!

If you wish to discuss any of the points addressed in this paper or have any questions, please feel free to message me at Ask for Jim. God Speed

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Grace to you
Jim Deal