“Book Review: George Whitefield” by David Chilton

By David H. Chilton (1980?)

George Whitefield: The life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, by Arnold A. Dallimore (Cornerstone Books, 1980). Two volumes, $19.95 each.

Early in the eighteenth century, a high-society lady once joked that Parliament was “preparing a bill to have ‘not’ taken out of the Commandments and inserted into the Creed.” It was not far from the truth. By all descriptions of the period, it was characterized by rampant ungodliness and almost complete disregard for Christian standards in any area of life. J.C. Ryle wrote that “Christianity seemed to lie as one dead…There was…a gross, thick, religious and moral darkness” pervading England. The government and the courts were corrupt: open bribery was a continual practice, and the poor were flagrantly oppressed — which is not to say that the poor were any better.

Crime was abundant, and the attempt of the authorities to suppress it (by making 160 offenses punishable by death) was to no avail. Whole districts were sunk in abject heathenism, ignorant of the most basic principles of the gospel. And what were the churches doing? Says Ryle: “They existed, but they could hardly be said to have lived. They did nothing; they were sound asleep.” In short, England was well down the road which, for a nation just across the Channel, climaxed in the orgy of horror known as the French Revolution.

Yet within a few years, the situation for England had entirely changed. Thousands were converted to vital Christianity; the slave trade was abolished (in a matter vastly different from the Unitarian-inspired Abolitionist movement of America); widows, orphans and poor were cared for; hospitals were established; missionary and tract societies flourished. What made the difference? To a great extent the change can be traced to the labors of one of the most unworthily-neglected men in history — George Whitefield.

While Whitefield’s associates in the revival (John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards and others) have received much attention through the years, Whitefield has been thrust into the background — largely due to his reluctance to promote himself — and historians have tended to treat him as one of Wesley’s lieutenants. In fact, Whitefield was the evangelist of the revival, a fact undisputed by his contemporaries. He was the founder of Methodism (and even, indirectly, of the Presbyterian Church of Virginia). The extent of his ministry is staggering: he evangelized England, Scotland, Wales and the American colonies, preaching about 40,000 sermons in a thirty-year period.

With the publication of the long-awaited second volume of his biography by Arnold Dallimore, the record has at last been set straight. Dallimore’s treatment is both sympathetic and discriminating (although the work still falls into the typical Banner-of-Truth biographical style, i.e., there is a relative disregard of Biblical standards in law, economics and social relationships).

The story of Whitefield’s conversion bears a strong resemblance to that of Martin Luther. Like the Reformer, Whitefield went through an extended time of trying desperately to be justified by works, and he almost killed himself through severe punishment of his body. At last he discovered justification by faith; he wrote later in his Journals of the “joy unspeakable” that filled his soul “when the weight of sin went off, and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God, and a full assurance of faith, broke in upon my disconsolate soul!” He began preaching, and the crowds soon became so huge that he initiated the practice of preaching in open fields — a practice which soon became the trademark of the early Methodist movement, as John Wesley and others became convinced of its propriety and effectiveness (Wesley, in his own words, had “thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church”)

While at first they worked together, a serious split occurred between Whitefield and the Wesley’s. It began as a doctrinal dispute: as Whitefield became more committed to the doctrines of Calvinism, Wesley firmly adhered to the Arminianism of his Anglican upbringing. Whitefield constantly worked for peace (perhaps more than he should have), but Wesley was adamant and offensive in his handling of their differences, indulging in relentless personal attacks. In what is perhaps the single most shocking revelation in Dallimore’s work, he demonstrates irrefutably Wesley’s treachery in taking over the organization of the Methodist movement.

Whitefield sought simply to preach the gospel of Christ; Wesley schemed to build a structure around himself. He followed Whitefield around, denouncing him and trying to draw away his congregations. Whitefield established a school for children; when he returned from a trip, he found that Wesley had quite literally stolen it from him. These dishonest tactics were repeated again and again, with Whitefield never once publicly making any statement against Wesley or bringing charges against him. The result has been a massive misrepresentation of the facts in the controversy, to Whitefield’s damage and Wesley’s immense profit. Yet throughout his life, Whitefield continued, for the sake of his concept of “unity,” to support and aid Wesley in every way possible — often under extreme abuse from the very one he was helping.

This fact illustrates a continuing problem in the last two and one-half centuries of evangelicalism: the combination of neoplatonism and antinomianism. I can think of no outstanding 18th-century leader who was not deeply infected with these two errors. There is no doubt in my mind that God greatly used Whitefield and his associates for the extension of His kingdom; with me, at least, that is not the point at issue. But the presuppositions of their age were not called into question by these men — and one result has been that their followers, whether Wesleyan or Calvinist, have regarded their serious errors as evangelical orthodoxy.

Their working definition of “spirituality” — i.e., that salvation is fundamentally individualistic, internal, and immaterial — comes straight from the Apostle Plato. One example of this is Whitefield’s amusing, and very sad, experience of courtship and marriage (see esp. vol. I, pp. 468-472; vol. 2, pp. 101-113). He couldn’t bring himself to admit he actually loved the girl of his dreams —that would be too “carnal” — and his businesslike proposal (which she rejected) had a human tenderness matched only by that of frozen fish.

When he finally did marry, he became quickly disappointed, and in less than two months he was longing “for that blessed time when we shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but be as the angels of God!” Marriage, you see, was a hindrance to his ability to serve the Lord. As he phrased it: “What room can there be for God, when a rival hath taken possession of the heart?”

We may laugh (or cry) at this, but let us be careful that our ideas of God, man and salvation are not just as distorted. We need to keep men like Whitefield in the Biblical perspective: neither attaching ourselves to his unbiblical worldviews just because God used him, nor rejecting the validity of much of what he did simply because his views were repulsive. He did preach the gospel, and he preached it with a greater degree of purity than most of his contemporaries. One of my favorite passages in the book comes from the diary of an unlettered American farmer, converted through hearing Whitefield preach on justification:

…he looked as if he was Clothed with authority from ye great god and a sweet solemnity sat upon his brow and my hearing him preach gave me a heart wound & by god’s blessing my old foundation was broken up & i see my righteousness would not save me.

Thus, Whitefield’s preaching did often have the good effect of leading people to flee from their own filthy rags to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Whitefield’s neoplatonism was never fully rooted out. Neoplatonism is essentially an attempt to deny one’s creaturehood and humanity, the vain wish to be pure spirit and flee earthly cares and human relationships. Christian spirituality becomes defined in terms of transcending our creaturely limitations, rather than serving God in every sphere of life. We see the same thing today: someone wants to “serve the Lord,” to enter “full-time Christian service,” and so he abandons his trade and becomes a full-time preacher or missionary.

Now, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but why do we feel that a preacher is more consecrated or spiritual than a salesman or electrician? It is simply because the preacher’s work seems less tied to earth and creaturely activity. The laborer, who spends most of his time working with material reality, cannot be as spiritual as the preacher, who deals with immaterial things — “the things of the Lord” — a higher level of reality. But the Bible says that all things are the Lord’s. Unfortunately, what someone once observed of philosophy could also be said of modern theology and Christian activity: “a series of footnotes to Plato.”

When we look at the lives of the Revivalists, we can see the needless suffering they endured because of their unbiblical concepts of reality. John Wesley had a very unhappy marriage: his wife constantly opposed him in his work, physically assaulted him on occasion, and finally left him. She is usually condemned (or dismissed as insane) by his biographers, but we should approach this matter with care. Here was a woman who was often left alone while her husband was out evangelizing and organizing, doing “the Lord’s work.”

But notice what the Bible demands of a church officer: he must he a godly husband and father, governing his home faithfully, loving his wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. The Old Testament required that a newly married man. “shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken” (Deut. 24:5). Surely this reveals God’s major concern for the home and family. The wife is a helper, and marriage is an asset, not a liability. But the revivalists often considered marriage a hindrance, and they accorded to soul-saving a priority over the clear demands of Scripture.

In examining Wesley’s troubles, therefore, we must ask: Who deserted whom? We cannot excuse Wesley on the mere grounds that many were converted under his ministry. God used him, as He has used many who disobeyed Him. God’s sovereignty is no excuse for man’s irresponsibility. Wesley’s ministry was lawless: soul-saving does not take priority over a man’s duty to his wife.

Whitefield’s marriage was certainly not the stormy ordeal that was Wesley’s, but he held the same distorted view of its proper place. Elizabeth Whitefield was apparently able to cope with the loneliness that had broken Mrs. Wesley. Still, she came to see herself as “nothing but a load and burden to him.” He was engaged in spiritual work, and made no attempt to hide the fact that he “looked back longingly on the days when there had been no husbandly responsibilities to hinder his service for the Lord.”

Again, these men often felt it was their duty to live as close to poverty as possible, and much of their activity was spent in trying to take care of the debts they incurred. Their sermons and writings flow incessantly with longings to leave earth and go to heaven — a common theme in evangelical hymns since their time. The fact that the Bible tells us little about heaven, and a great deal about our duties on earth, seems not to have occurred to them.

As I noted, Whitefield was better than most. His meetings never approached the irrational fervor (e.g., spasms, fainting fits and glossolalia) that were common under the ministry of many of his contemporaries. His humility and willingness to be corrected were exemplary, and guarded him from the errors into which many of his colleagues fell. But in the course of bringing revival, he and the other preachers took the reigning philosophical ideas and presented them as Christian orthodoxy. Christianity became a mystical experience of the spirit, rather than the whole man submitting all his thought and activity to the covenantal demands of Jesus Christ.

This false spirituality has tainted virtually everything in the last two centuries of evangelicalism. Consider two ways in which it has affected Christian schools. First, in contradiction to Scripture, teachers are often paid the lowest wages possible. Why? Because, like preachers, they are doing “the Lord’s work”; it is a ministry, and they should therefore be satisfied with their heavenly reward. The laborer is worthy of his hire unless he’s in “full-time Christian service.” (Incidentally, when Paul said elders should be paid “double honor,” he meant double wages. I’m not sure how much “double wages” are, but I’ll bet my Social Security it’s more than minimum wage.)

Secondly, Christian schools are often seen as centers for evangelism: instruction and preparation of the children for godly dominion in every sphere of life takes second place. We want the kids to get saved, but we don’t bother much with things such as economics, law, labor principles, training in useful trades, preparing for family life, and so on. This is not a practice derived from Scripture. It derives from our view that man’s purpose on earth is to get saved. Period. (A variation might be that man’s purpose is to get saved, and then to get everybody else saved, but that’s about the extent of it.) But man’s purpose is godly dominion — salvation is necessary in restoring fallen man to the place where he can again serve God as ruler over the earth. This central Biblical teaching was neglected in the revivals, and that crucial omission was the deathblow for Christian dominion in the following generations. True, the face of England was remarkably changed — evidence that the revival was genuine — but the nation as a whole was not captured. Eventually, the good fruit of the movement was taken over by the humanists — and there, I think, is a lesson. Many in our day are praying for another Whitefield-type revival. But if it is not accompanied by Scriptural reformation and Christian reconstruction, it will fail

Prophecy Prognosticators are Part of the “Thought Collective”

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2020 BY GARY DEMAR

Like clockwork, when something bad happens in the world, Bible prophecy prognosticators start with their end-time claims. They are part of a “thought collective” where adherents share their beliefs in a closed system using the same language and shortcut responses to those who criticize their conclusions. When challenged with this question, “Where in the Bible does it say that?,” they avoid answering directly by offering a formula response that comes from the safety of the “thought collective” bubble.

It happens every time some new prophecy claim is made about current events and challenged. Here’s the latest since Joe Biden might be our nation’s next President:

It is amazing to see prophecy being fulfilled right before our eyes. 

How many times have you read something like the above? How many generations of failed prophetic predictions do we have to endure before Christians say “enough”?

Then I saw this:

There are only four passages in the Bible that use the word “antichrist.” You won’t find the word “antichrist” in the book of Revelation. The fact surprises a lot of prophecy enthusiasts. Not one of these passages mentions anything about the antichrist ruling anything. Read the passages for yourself from John’s epistles that were written before the temple was destroyed in AD 70:

  1. “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
  2. “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the ChristThis is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22)
  3. “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:2–3).
  4. “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the fleshThis is the deceiver and the antichrist” (2 John 7).

When I pointed out these biblical facts, I was dismissed with, “I respectfully disagree.” He didn’t tell me why he disagreed. It might be due to the fact that the passages are as clear as can be and do not fit today’s general understanding of the antichrist.

Notice that there were “now many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). “Now” refers to John’s day, a point made in again 1 John 4:3. In 1 John 2:22, we find, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichristthe one who denies the Father and the Son.” In 2 John 7, we find a definition that compliments what we read in 1 John 2:22: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

John’s definition of antichrist is exclusively theological. Nothing is said about a charismatic leader solving the Middle East conflict, promising to rid the world of terrorism, getting the Jewish nation and the Arab nations to sign a peace treaty that will pave the way for the long awaited Third Temple (of which the New Testament says nothing), a satanic superman, namely, “the most evil man that ever lived.”

John was describing antichrists (plural) in his day as evidence that “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). What did John mean by “the last hour”? It’s a reference to the prophecy Jesus made in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) and other places (Luke 11:46–5213:34–3517:22–3719:41–44) that a prophetic event was going to take place before their generation passed away. When John wrote his first epistle, the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was near, possibly only a few years away. “Last hour” is not being used to describe thousands of years of history.

Who were these antichrists? They were Jews who understood the claimed relationship between Jesus and His Father. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus said (John 10:30). The Jews objected “and took up stones again to stone Him” (10:31).

Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (10:32–33).

The unbelieving Jews understood the claim that Jesus was the Christ, that is, the promised Messiah. In John’s day, unbelieving Jews were the antichrists because they denied that Jesus was God incarnate (John 1:114) and that He was the promised Messiah. This is why Jesus was accused of blasphemy and the Jewish religious and civil rulers wanted to kill Him.

“If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple (John 8:55–59).

John described these unbelieving Jews as a “synagogue of Satan” (Rev. 2:93:9), a type of “thought collective” who denied the reality of God’s revealed Word and instead adopted a type of anti-Messianic group think.

While tens of thousands of Jews embraced Jesus as the promised Messiah (read the book of Acts), many Jews rejected Him. They held on to the tradition of the elders and chafed under the claim that the old covenant was temporary and was in the process of passing away (Heb. 8:13).

After answering some of the responses about the antichrists and how those defining the term were not following the biblical definition, the topic of the great tribulation came up. It is during this supposed future event that the antichrist is said to make his appearance. John does not say anything about this claim. Neither does Jesus in Matthew 24:21.

I responded with the following:

The great tribulation is a past event that took place before the generation to whom Jesus spoke passed away. See my book Last Days Madness. John described himself as a “fellow-partaker in the tribulation” (Rev. 1:10).

What was the response of the person who posted the meme?: “I respectfully disagree.”

I responded with: “Disagreeing is not a refutation.” His answer is typical of a “thought collective” response in that it must stay within the narrow confines of the prophetic paradigm. Any attempt to question it must be rebuffed even if it goes against what is specifically stated in Scripture or what’s not stated.

The tribulation that Jesus describes in Matthew 24:21 is now an event of history. It happened in the past. Jesus said in Matthew 24:34, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” “This generation always refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. It never refers to a future generation.

  • “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to the other children…” (Matt. 11:16).
  • “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matt. 12:41).
  • “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42).
  • “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation” (12:45).
  • “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:36).

F. F. Bruce wrote: “The phrase ‘this generation’ is found too often on Jesus’ lips in this literal sense for us to suppose that it suddenly takes on a different meaning in the saying we are now examining. Moreover, if the generation of the end-time had been intended, ‘that generation’ would have been a more natural way of referring to it than ‘this generation.’” ((F. F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983), 227.))

More biblical examples could be given regarding the definition of “this generation” (Mark 8:128:3813:30Luke 7:3111:2911:303132505117:2521:32), and many more statements by commentators could be referenced that support the claim that “this generation” meant the generation to whom Jesus and the NT writers had in view. See my book Wars and Rumors of Wars.

How is it possible that the tribulation leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 could be “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matt. 24:21). Because this was a covenantal judgment event. Jesus was not describing what would happen to the whole world. Jesus uses the same wording that’s found in Ezekiel 5:9 that describes Jerusalem’s desolation and judgment that took place in the 6th century BC:

“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her. ‘But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the nations and against My statutes more than the lands which surround her; for they have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes.’ “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the nations which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the nations which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. ‘And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again. ‘Therefore, fathers will eat their sons among you, and sons will eat their fathers; for I will execute judgments on you and scatter all your remnant to every wind. ‘So as I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, therefore I will also withdraw, and My eye will have no pity and I will not spare. ‘One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them (Ezek. 5:5–12).

This type of language is rhetorical hyperbole that’s used often in the Bible (e.g., Ex. 11:6Acts 2:5Col. 1:231 Kings 3:12 compare with Matt. 12:412 Kings 18:5 compare with 2 Kings 23:25). One of the commenters wrote that the “great tribulation is defined in Scripture as ‘a rut that cannot be escaped from.’” If this is the definition of the great tribulation, then it does not comport with what the Bible says about escaping it.

The great tribulation described by Jesus could be escaped on foot by fleeing “to the mountains” outside of Judea (Matt. 24:16). The conditions described by Jesus are indicative of first-century Israel: houses had flat roofs, the Sabbath was still operating, and a person’s cloak “is the one thing that is so precious and needful that it cannot be taken as a pledge during the nighttime hours, but has to be returned each night to its owner [Ex. 22:26-27].”

Luke’s version includes some of the same generation-defining elements of the prophecy and includes, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand” (21:20). This means that the great tribulation described by Jesus could be escaped and was escaped by those who listened to Jesus and headed for the hills like Lot did. Those who did not, ended up like Lot’s wife, caught in the fiery conflagration.

Is the Rapture Found in Matthew 24?

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2020 BY GARY DEMAR

Is the Rapture Found in Matthew 24?

Almost daily I get questions about prophetic topics. In most cases, I’ve already dealt with them in my books Last Days MadnessThe Early Church and the End of the WorldWhy the End of the World is Not in Your FutureWars and Rumors of Wars, 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered, The Rapture and the Fig Tree GenerationProphecy Wars, Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers, and Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction.

 When I point people to these books for my take on a particular passage, a number of them bristle at the suggestion. A few of them want a “yes” or “no” answer right then and there. It’s almost never that simple. What they’re really looking for is an excuse not to study the issue. “If Gary DeMar doesn’t believe like I do on _________________, son I don’t want to spend money on a whole book of his errors.”

Some of emailers think I push my books because I make money on them. I don’t receive a penny in royalties from anything I do at American Vision. My goal is to get Christians to study these issues for themselves. We need fewer “gutter sparrows” (Acts 17:18) and more “noble minded” Christians who “examine the Scriptures” (17:11).

Anyone who has read my books knows that I walk the reader through the process of how I came to a particular interpretation. Instead of just telling someone what I believe a particular text means, it’s important to know the process. Hopefully, the reader will follow a similar process with other texts and thereby become a better student of the Bible. One question that I get on a regular basis is the “left behind” passage in Matthew 24.

To help His listeners better understand the timing and circumstances of the events leading up to and including the destruction of the temple before their generation passed away, Jesus draws on a familiar Old Testament judgment event—the flood. Jesus, teaching by analogy, shows how the coming of the flood waters and His own coming in judgment against Jerusalem are similar.

In Noah’s time we read about “those days which were before the flood” and “the day that NOAH ENTERED THE ARK” (Matt. 24:38). Similarly, there were days before the coming of the Son of Man and the day of the coming of the Son of Man. The same people were involved in both the “days before” and “the day of” the Son of Man. Those who “were eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage” were the same people who were shut out on “the day that Noah entered the ark.”

Noah entered the ark on a single day similar to the way Jesus as the Son of Man came on the “clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (24:30), a day and hour known only to the Father (24:36). “Some shall be rescued from the destruction of Jerusalem, like Lot out of the burning of Sodom: while others, no ways perhaps different in outward circumstances, shall be left to perish in it.” ((Thomas Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies, Which Have Remarkably Been Fulfilled, and at This Time are Fulfilling in the World (London: J.F. Dove, 1754), 379.))

Jesus says that His coming “will be just like the days of Noah” (24:37). The people were doing normal things—“eating and drinking” and “marrying and giving in marriage.” Jesus told His audience that life will go on as usual when Jesus returns in judgment against the temple and city of Jerusalem. People had no thought of a coming judgment in Noah’s day since there were no signs. Noah was told to prepare for “things not yet seen” (Heb. 11:7). Jesus is not describing evil behavior like drunkenness and sexual sins like “‘exchanging mates’ or ‘wife swapping,’ contrary to what M. R. DeHaan and Jack Van Impe claim. ((Jack Van Impe, The Great Escape: Preparing for the Rapture, the Next Event on God’s Prophetic Clock (Nashville, TN: Word, 1998), 127.))

“Marrying and given in marriage” is a phrase to describe, well, “marrying and giving in marriage” (see Matt. 22:30). People do it every day. Men and women marry and parents give their daughters away in marriage. D. A. Carson’s comments are helpful:

[T]hat the coming of the Son of Man takes place at an unknown time can only be true if in fact life seems to be going on pretty much as usual—just as in the days before the flood (v. 37). People follow their ordinary pursuits (v. 38). Despite the distress, persecutions, and upheavals (vv. 4–28), life goes on: people eat, drink, and marry. There is no overt typological usage of the Flood as judgment here, nor any mention of the sin of that generation. ((D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, gen. ed., Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 8:509. Also see N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 365–366.))

Support for Carson’s interpretation can be found in Luke’s account of the time just before Sodom’s destruction: “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:28). Buying, selling, planting, and building describe life going on as usual without any regard to an impending judgment. Are dispensationalists willing to say that these activities “connote moral corruption”?

Darrell L. Bock attempts this interpretation even though he admits that the idea of “moral corruption . . . is not emphasized in Luke’s description.” ((Darrell L. Bock, Luke: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 2:1432–1433.)) No one disputes that Noah and Lot lived in a time of moral corruption that brought judgment. Jesus’ point is that the people in Noah and Lot’s day went on with their lives as if the promise of imminent judgment was a lie (see 2 Peter 3:3–4). Notice the audience reference: “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things” (2 Pet. 3:14). Peter is not describing a distant event but one that was soon to occur. The same is true of those who were told that Jesus would return in judgment within a generation (Matt. 24:34).

Many futurists claim that the phrase “took them all away” (Matt. 24:39) refers to a rapture that is still in our future. On the contrary. “In the context of 24:37–39, ‘taken’ presumably means ‘taken to judgment’ (cf. Jer. 6:11 NASB, NRSV).” ((Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 115.)) The phrase ties the judgment of the world in Noah’s day with the judgment of the Jews’ world in Israel’s day that took place with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

Who was taken away in the judgment of the flood? Not Noah and his family. They were “left behind” to carry on God’s work. John Gill writes in his commentary on this passage: “the whole world of the ungodly, every man, woman, and child, except eight persons only; Noah and his wife, and his three sons and their wives. . . .” were taken away in judgment. And what does Gill say about those in the field?: They shall be taken away “by the eagles, the Roman army, and either killed or carried captive by them.” The Bible gives its own commentary on the meaning of “took them all away” in Luke 17:2729: “Destroyed them all” is equivalent to “took them all away.”

A number of commentators (e.g., J. Marcellus Kik and Kenneth Gentry) argue that Matthew 24:35 is a “transition text.” It’s at this point, they argue, that Jesus is referring to a time period that is still in our future. Luke 17:22–37 describes five Olivet-Discourse prophetic events that are identical to those found in Matthew 24. The difference between Matthew 24 and Luke 17 is in the order of the events, a characteristic of the passages that few commentators can explain. Ray Summers writes:

This is a most difficult passage. The overall reference appears to be to the coming of the Son of Man—Christ—in judgment at the end of the age. Some small parts of it, however, are repeated in Luke 21 in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), and larger parts of it are in Matthew 24, also in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. The entire complex cautions one against dogmatism in interpreting. ((Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke: Jesus, the Universal Savior (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1972), 202.))

Taking Matthew 24 as the standard, Luke places the Noah’s ark analogy (Matt. 24:37–39) before the events of Matthew 24:17–18 (“let him who is on the housetop not go down”), verse 27 (“for just as the lightning comes from the east”), and verse 28 (“wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”). If the five prophetic events of Matthew 24 that are found in Luke 17:22–37 are numbered 1–2–3–4–5, Luke’s numbering of the same events would be 2–4–1–5–3. While this is not positive proof of an A.D. 70 fulfillment for chapters 24 and 25, it certainly adds credibility to the position.))

Comparing Luke 17 with Matthew 24

Another line of evidence offered by those who believe that events following Matthew 24:34 refer to a yet future personal and physical return of Jesus is the meaning given to “after a long time” (24:48; 25:19) and the “delay” by the bridegroom (25:5). On the surface these examples seem to indicate that two different events are in view, one near (the destruction of Jerusalem) and one distant (the second coming of Christ). This is the view of Stephen F. Hayhow.

Both parables, the parables of the virgins (vv. 1–13), and the parable of the talents (vv. 14–30), speak of the absence of the bridegroom/master, who is said to be “a long time in coming” (v. 5) and “After a long time the master of the servants returned” (v. 19). This suggests, not the events of A.D. 70 which were to occur in the near future, in fact within the space of a generation, but a distant event, the return of Christ. ((Stephen F. Hayhow, “Matthew 24, Luke 17 and the Destruction of Jerusalem,” Christianity and Society 4:2 (April 1994), 4.))

Notice that the evil slave says, “My master is not coming for a long time” (Matt. 24:48). The evil slave then proceeds to “beat his fellow-slaves and eat and drink with drunkards” (24:49). But to the surprise of the “evil slave” the master returned when he least expected him (24:50). The master did not return to cut the evil slave’s distant relatives in pieces (24:51); he cut him in pieces. The evil slave was alive when the master left, and he was alive when the master returned. In this context, a “long time” must be measured against a person’s lifetime. In context, two years could be a long time if the master usually returned within six months.

The same idea is expressed in the parable of the “talents.” A man entrusts his slaves with his possessions (25:14). The master then goes on a journey (25:15). While the master is gone, the slaves make investment decisions (25:16–18). We are then told that “after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them” (25:19). In this context “a long time” is no longer than an average lifetime. The settlement is made with the same slaves who received the talents. In every other New Testament context, “a long time” means nothing more than an extended period of time (Luke 8:2723:8John 5:6Acts 8:1114:32826:52927:2128:6). Nowhere does it mean centuries or multiple generations.

The delay of the bridegroom is no different from the “long time” of the two previous parables. The bridegroom returns to the same two groups of virgins (25:1–13). The duration of the delay must be measured by the audience.

This brief analysis helps us understand the “mockers” who ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:3–4). Peter was aware that Jesus’ coming was an event that would take place before the last apostle died (Matt. 16:27–28John 21:22–23). The doctrine of the soon return of Christ was common knowledge (Matt. 24:3426:64Phil. 4:5Heb. 10:251 John 2:18Rev. 1:13). It is not hard to imagine that the passage of several decades would lead some to doubt the reliability of the prophecy, especially as the promised generation was coming to a close. The horrendous events of A.D. 70 silenced the mockers.

For more information on the topic of Bible prophecy, check out the following books from American Vision:

The Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy
Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church
Is Jesus Coming Soon?
Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction
The Early Church and the End of the World
Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers
The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance
Prophecy Wars
The End Times and the Islamic Antichrist
The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Matthew 24 Fulfilled
Paradise Restored
The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation
Jesus v. Jerusalem

Who Is Defending Classic Dispensationalism Today?

Oct 27, 2020 by Gary DeMar

Eschatology is the study of the “last things.” The more popular terminology is “Bible prophecy.” There are numerous schools of thought on the subject. The most popular version—dispensational premillennialism—teaches that particular prophetic events are on the horizon, that a “rapture” of the Church precedes a seven-year period that includes the rise of an antichrist, a rebuilt temple, and a Great Tribulation.

One of the distinct features of this view is the belief that there is an Israel-Church distinction, and because of this distinction God has two redemptive programs. Over the years I have received numerous questions and not a few criticisms of my views. I have tried to answer all who have taken the time to write. Some have been gracious in their replies, and some have not. Many have abandoned their dispensational belief system after reading my published works, some have not. After being engaged in this type of work for more than 40 years, I find that there are people who are unwilling to put their prophetic system to the test. For example:   

[Gary DeMar] is a self-labeled non-dispensationalist. While that isn’t a crime or even a theological faux pax, it IS specious, considering that verse which describes ‘don’t boast against the branches, for they [Israel] support YOU’ and not vice versa. Included in that camp is Hank Hanegraaff, who can only be accused of believing one thing years ago and now believes the exact opposite today. Understanding the debate over Replacement Theology [that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s economy] is THE topic today and divides the Body like abortion did 20 yrs ago. [1]

Claiming that a debate over “Replacement Theology” is comparable to abortion is absurd, especially when my critic’s own prophetic system envisions “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.” [2]

Maybe the topic is like abortion since dispensationalists teach that after the “rapture,” “two-thirds of the Jewish people [living in Israel during the Great Tribulation] will be exterminated.” [3]

The idea of an Israel-Church distinction, which is a fundamental doctrine of dispensationalism, is built on an interpretive fiction. There is continuity between the covenants. There were Israelite believers prior to, during, and after Jesus’ earthly ministry. They were incorporated into the “great cloud of witnesses” from the Old Covenant age (Heb. 12:1). We are reminded of Zacharias (Luke 1:5–23), Elizabeth (1:24–25), John (1:57–63), Mary (1:39–56), Joseph (Matt. 1:18–25), Simeon (Luke 2:25–35), Anna (2:36–37), and others (Luke 19:8–9John 2:234:39507:318:3110:42). [4] Simeon quotes the Old Testament that links the believing remnant of Israel and the believing remnant from the nations (Gentiles):

For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples. “A light of Revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:31–32; see Isa. 42:649:6).

The “church” is not a new idea. The Greek word ekklesia is found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament and is best translated as “assembly” or “congregation.” It’s how William Tyndale Translated ekklesia in his English translation of the Bible.

Jews made up the New Testament ekklesia (Acts 5:118:1–3). Again, this wasn’t anything new. The ekklesia (the KJV translates it as “church”) was “in the wilderness” (7:38; Heb. 2:12). Gentiles were grafted into an already existing Jewish ekklesia.

God always intended that the promises made to Israel would extend to include the nations (Acts 10; 13:47–48; 26:23). This is not to assume that every Israelite and non-Israelite would be saved. It’s about the remnant (Rom. 9:6–82711:5) not natural descent (John 1:12–13). I deal with this and related topics extensively in my book 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered.


10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered

As a result of many failed predictions, many Christians are beginning to take a second look at a prophetic system that they were told is the only one that takes the literal interpretation of the Bible seriously. Gary DeMar has taken on the task of exposing some of the popular myths foisted upon the public by prophetic speculators: The Myth of the Israel-Church Distinction; The Myth that the Modern State of Israel is a Sign that the Rapture is Near; The Myth that Only Dispensationalists Have a Future for Israel; The Myth of the Postponed Abrahamic Covenant; The Myth of Replacement Theology; The Myth that Animal Sacrifices and Circumcision Are Everlasting Rites; The Myth that the Temple Needs to be Rebuilt; and more.Buy Now


Everyone prior to around 1830 was a non-dispensationalist when compared to the Darby-Scofield-Dallas Seminary definition, so I don’t see how being a “non-dispensationalist” today carries with it such negative connotations. And until the publication of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909, there was no agreed upon dispensational system among even a minority of Christians. [5] It’s rather surprising that the notes by one man who had no real theological training would end up creating a new prophetic movement where the notes more often than not supplant the text of Scripture.

Since its inception, dispensationalism has been considered biblically aberrational by a number of theological traditions. [6] R. B. Kuiper (1886–1966), who served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and President of Calvin Theological Seminary, wrote in 1936 that two grievous errors were “prevalent among American fundamentalists, Arminianism and the Dispensationalism of the Scofield Bible.” The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church went so far as to describe Arminianism and Dispensationalism as “anti-reformed heresies,” [7] that is, heretical in terms of the theology that came out of the Reformation.

Professor John Murray, who taught Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and wrote a commentary on Romans for the New International Commentary Series, wrote that the “‘Dispensationalism’ of which we speak as heterodox from the standpoint of the Reformed Faith is that form of interpretation, widely popular at the present time, which discovers in the several dispensations of God’s redemptive revelation distinct and even contrary principles of divine procedure and thus destroys the unity of God’s dealings with fallen mankind.” [8] Premillennialism of the covenantal or classical variety was not under attack by these men. [9] Kuiper again writes:

It is a matter of common knowledge that there is ever so much more to the dispensationalism of the Scofield Bible than the mere teaching of Premillennialism. Nor do the two stand and fall together. There are premillennarians who have never heard of Scofield’s dispensations. More important than that, there are serious students of God’s Word who hold to the Premillennial return of Christ and emphatically reject Scofield’s system of dispensations as fraught with grave error. [10]

This is not to say that advocates of dispensationalism are not heirs of the Reformation in most respects. Most hold orthodox positions on basic Christian doctrines, but dispensationalism as it was codified by Scofield and is taught and promoted today was unknown in the history of the church.

Dispensationalism has gone through numerous revisions since the publication of the New Scofield Reference Bible in 1967. Thomas Ice, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and former professor at Liberty University who serves as professor of Bible and theology and Calvary University, predicted, “By the year 2000 Dallas Theological Seminary will no longer be dispensational. [Professional] priorities are elsewhere than the defense of systematic dispensationalism from external criticism.” [11] DTS is still dispensational but students do not have to subscribe to the statement of faith of the professors.

Dispensationalism is being questioned by the more orthodox charismatics. Dr. Joseph Kickasola, who served as professor of international studies and Hebrew at Regent University observed that there has been a “‘diminishing of dispensationalism,’ especially among charismatics, who, he says, are coming to see that ‘charismatic dispensationalist’ is ‘a contradiction in terms.’” [12] The date-setting element of dispensationalism is losing its fascination with many of its adherents since the fortieth anniversary of Israel’s nationhood (1948–1988) passed without a rapture. Dave Hunt, a proponent of the national regathering of Israel as the time indicator for future prophetic events, writes: “Needless to say, January 1, 1982, saw the defection of large numbers from the pretrib position…. Many who were once excited about the prospects of being caught up to heaven at any moment have become confused and disillusioned by the apparent failure of a generally accepted biblical interpretation they once relied upon.” [13]

Hunt went on to assert: “[Gary] “North’s reference to specific dates is an attack upon the most persuasive factor supporting Lindsey’s rapture scenario: the rebirth of national Israel. This historic event, which is pivotal to dispensationalism’s timing of the rapture, as John F. Walvoord has pointed out, was long anticipated and when it at last occurred seemed to validate that prophetic interpretation.” [14]

Robert L. Saucy (1930–2015), who was professor of systematic theology at Talbot School of Theology, remarked, “Over the past several decades the system of theological interpretation commonly known as dispensationalism has undergone considerable development and refinement.” [15] Saucy gives a great deal away in his book The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, so much so that he calls it “the new dispensationalism” or “progressive [dispensationalism] … to distinguish the newer interpretations from the older version of dispensationalism.” [16]

Nothing even remotely associated with modern-day dispensationalism can be found in the creedal formulations of the church going back to the Council of Nicaea in AD. 325. Not even non-dispensational (classical) premillennialism was written into the basic Christian creeds. [17] Most of the finest Christian scholars the church has ever produced were not then and are not now dispensationalists. Of course, this does not mean dispensationalism is a false system, but it does mean that it needs to be evaluated in terms of how it compares with Scripture. If the Bible is the standard, then dispensationalism does not have an exegetical leg to stand on.

As far as I know, there has not been a scholarly defense of dispensationalism by a major Christian publishing company for many years. Most new prophecy books are being published by Harvest House written by just a few authors who have not broken any new ground. Their books repeat the same themes with only different book titles.

For more information on the topic of Bible prophecy, check out the following books from American Vision:

The Beginner’s Guide to Interpreting Bible Prophecy

Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church

Is Jesus Coming Soon?

Left Behind: Separating Fact from Fiction

The Early Church and the End of the World

Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers

The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance

Prophecy Wars

The End Times and the Islamic Antichrist

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Matthew 24 Fulfilled

Paradise Restored

The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation

Jesus v. Jerusalem

  1. I’ve corrected the author’s spelling in various places.[]
  2. Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86. Dispensationalist Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes something similar: “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.” (Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice [Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003], 262).[]
  3. Messianic Jewish spokesman Sid Roth in an interview with Pat Robertson on the September 18, 1991 edition of the “700 Club.”[]
  4. Howard A. Hanke, Christ and the Church in the Old Testament: A Survey of Redemptive Unity in the Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1957).[]
  5. Dispensationalists like to claim that the mere use of the word “dispensation” makes someone a dispensationalist. This is hardly the case. See Ronald M. Henzel, Darby, Dualism, and the Decline of Dispensationalism: Reassessing the Nineteenth-Century Roots of a Twentieth-Century Prophetic Movement for the Twenty-First Century (Tucson: Fenestra Books, 2003), 25–29.[]
  6. Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945); John Wick Bowman, “The Bible and Modern Religions: II. Dispensationalism,” Interpretation 10 (April 1956), 170–172; C. Norman Kraus, Dispensationalism in America (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1958); Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1960); Curtis I. Crenshaw and Grover E. Gunn, III, Dispensationalism: Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow, rev. ed. (Memphis: Footstool Publications, [1985], 1989. There are too many critiques of dispensationalism to list.[]
  7. R. B. Kuiper, The Presbyterian Guardian (September 12, 1936), 225–227. Quoted in Edwin H. Rian, The Presbyterian Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1940), 101.[]
  8. The Presbyterian Guardian (February 3, 1936), 143. Quoted in Rian, The Presbyterian Conflict, 236–237.[]
  9. Craig L. Blomberg and Sung Wook Chung, A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to “Left Behind” Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009).[]
  10. The Presbyterian Guardian (November 14, 1936), 54. Quoted in Rian, The Presbyterian Conflict, 31.[]
  11. Thomas Ice interview with Martin Selbrede, Counsel of Chalcedon (December 1989). Cited in Gary North, Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), 145. Traditionally, Pentecostalism has been dispensational.[]
  12. Randy Frame, “The Theonomic Urge,” Christianity Today, (April 21, 1989), 38.[]
  13. Dave Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988), 68.[]
  14. Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven, 64.[]
  15. Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensationalism and Non-Dispensational Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 8. Also see, Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism: An Up-to-Date Handbook of Contemporary Dispensational Thought (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993).[]
  16. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, 9.[]
  17. Gary DeMar and Francis X. Gumerlock, The Early Church and the End of the World (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2005), chap. 4.[]

How Would You Prefer to Spend Your Last Holiday Season?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola, November 12th 2020

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • COVID-19 has a survival rate of 99.99% for those under the age of 40. Even people over the age of 60 who aren’t residents of nursing homes have a survival rate of 98.29%, yet residents in many areas are now told, in great detail, how they can and cannot celebrate their holidays
  • Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness had reached epidemic levels. In 2018, 54% of American adults over the age of 18 reported feeling lonely. By January 2020, it was 61% and now, nine months into the pandemic, we’ve reached 66%
  • Loneliness isn’t relegated to the elderly. In the 18 to 34 age group, 75% report feeling socially isolated, compared to 61% of those over 50. Among those aged 18 to 34, 19% say they’ve gone as long as two to three months without interacting with another person
  • 10% of 35- to 49-year-olds, 9% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 7% of those over 50 say they’ve not interacted with anyone outside their household or workplace since the pandemic began
  • If safety requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save?

Depending on where you live, COVID-19 rules could be putting a damper on holiday festivities this year. California, for example, recently released a long list of killjoy rules for the holidays, which includes:1

At What Price Safety?

Should government be permitted to micromanage how and with whom you spend your holidays? As noted by A.J. Kay in a recent Medium article,2 “If safety requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save?”

That’s a question well worth asking. Just how great a price are you willing to pay for the illusion of safety? SARS-CoV-2 has a survival rate of 99.99% for those under the age of 40.3 Even people over the age of 60 who aren’t residents of nursing homes have a survival rate of 98.29%.4

Data5,6 also show the overall all-cause mortality has remained steady during 2020 and doesn’t veer from the norm — in other words, COVID-19 has not killed off more of the population than would have died in any given year anyway — yet residents in many areas are now told, in great detail, how they can and cannot celebrate their holidays. Is it worth it?

“This will be the final Thanksgiving for 2.8 million (the annual all-cause death toll) of our fellow Americans. It could be my last — or yours. That likelihood is significantly higher for our elderly loved ones, too many of whom will not have seen or hugged their family in nine months,” Kay writes.7

“The hard truth is that we do not know who will be around for Thanksgiving next November. What we do have is right now — this moment — today. We aren’t promised one second more …

We’ve already forgone countless once-in-a-lifetime events to mitigate a newly-minted definition of risk which takes only one variable into account. And have neglected to acknowledge that many of our seniors — the most vulnerable among us — don’t even want that kind of ‘safety’ because it costs precious moments with their families …

There’s only one ‘unsafe’ version of Thanksgiving for me and that’s failing to be present with my family, allowing weaponized shame and performative restrictions to keep us apart. God forbid one of us isn’t sitting at that table next year, I can’t imagine grappling with that regret. And if one (or all) of us get COVID, so be it.”

Isolation — A Fate Worse Than Death?

As reported by the Daily News,8 October 19, 2020, forced isolation due to COVID-19 concerns are hurting seniors who struggle with loneliness and depression at ever greater numbers.

The article features the story of Lezrette Hutchinson, a 64-year-old retiree in the West Bronx who in recent days is starting to find herself “heading to bed as early as 5 p.m., exhausted from a host of mounting frustrations,” such as “technological hurdles that came with virtual doctor visits” and “navigating the Social Security website.”

She’s also frustrated from “being alone in a one-bedroom apartment for the better part of seven months.” She’s grown sick and tired of talking to friends on the phone and feels demotivated to do much of anything, which is a hallmark sign of depression.

According to a report9,10 by the AARP and United Health Foundation, social distancing measures have led to an epidemic of loneliness, and this too has significant health and emotional risks. As noted in this report:11

“Defined as having few social relationships or infrequent social contact with others — social isolation is a public health crisis. Studies have found that social isolation can be worse for one’s health than obesity, and the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.12

For adults who have experienced social isolation during the current pandemic, half (50%) report this social isolation has caused them to lack motivation, slightly more than 4 in 10 (41%) say it has made them feel more anxious than usual and slightly more than a third (37%) report it has made them feel depressed.

Yet, only 11% of adults turned to a medical professional when feeling down or sad, and almost a third of adults 50+ reported that they did not look to anyone for support during the pandemic.

Among the 50+, almost a third of women (29%) report going as long as one to three months not interacting with others outside their home or workplace during the pandemic and are more likely to experience negative emotions than their male counterparts.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, women 50+ are more than twice as likely to report feeling overwhelmed (32% vs. 15% of men 50+), and more women than men 50+ report feeling anxious (46% vs. 36% of men 50+) and stressed (50% vs. 40% of men 50+).

Along with women 50+, the impact to low-income older adults (defined as those who have a household income less than $40K and are 50+) has also been greater compared to older adults with high incomes (defined as those who have a household income $75K+ and are 50+).

Four in 10 low-income adults 50+ report facing challenges accessing various resources during COVID-19, including a fifth who had challenges accessing food and a similar number who had challenges accessing healthcare services.”

No Life Without Human Connection

I wouldn’t be surprised if many people, regardless of their age, would choose companionship over safety from a virus. For argument’s sake, ponder this question.

Which would you choose: Live all alone on an island for the rest of your life, knowing there’s no one around to infect you with COVID-19, or live surrounded by friends and family, knowing you’re taking your chances every time you get near each other?

I know what I choose. As noted in the AARP’s report, “it’s connections, companionship, and a sense of belonging that we need as humans.” Social connection is even more impactful at earlier ages, with poor social connections being strongly associated with poor health and depression among youth.13

So, before you cancel holiday plans with aging parents and grandparents this season, make sure that’s what they really want. Remember, this may be their last Thanksgiving, or their last Christmas. How do you want to spend that time and what memories do you want to make?

Handing out edicts, demanding we eliminate all the things that make life worth living in order to prevent the spread of a survivable virus that most people don’t even know they have unless they get tested is unconscionable and inhuman. But so is following these kinds of unconstitutional government edicts.

I have to say I’m surprised at the sheer number of people willing to surrender their constitutional rights and liberties in return for absolutely nothing. None of the measures — 6-foot social distancing, mask wearingself-isolation and select business shut-downs — actually guarantee anyone’s safety. All we need is one infected person left in the world, and safety for all remains out of reach.

The Loneliness Epidemic Deepens

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness had reached epidemic levels. In 2018, 54% of American adults (age 18 and older) reported feeling lonely. By January 2020, it was 61%,14 and now, nine months into the pandemic, we’ve reached 66%.15

And loneliness isn’t relegated to the elderly. According to the AARP report, people between the ages of 18 and 34 actually report the highest rates of isolation.16 In the 18 to 34 age group, 75% report feeling socially isolated, compared to 61% of those over 50.

Among those aged 18 to 34, 19% say they’ve gone as long as two to three months without interacting with another person, compared to 16% among those over the age of 35. Ten percent of 35- to 49-year-olds, 9% of 18- to 34-year-olds and 7% of those over 50 say they’ve not interacted with anyone outside their household or workplace since the pandemic began!

The impact of loneliness and social isolation is significant, and will undoubtedly be found to be far greater than the death toll of COVID-19 by the time everything is tabulated.

According to a 2019 study17 by the American Cancer Society that looked at data from 580,182 Americans, social isolation increases mortality from every cause. In other words, social isolation is deadly. Commenting on her team’s findings, public health researcher Kassandra Alcaraz told the American Psychological Association:18

“Our research really shows that the magnitude of risk presented by social isolation is very similar in magnitude to that of obesity, smoking, lack of access to care and physical inactivity.”

Well-Known Effects of Solitary Confinement

While it’s been referred to as “self-isolation” and sold as “staying safe at home,” the lockdowns can rightfully be likened to house arrest, especially in areas where people have only been allowed outdoors for an hour or two a day.

That this kind of self-isolation can be harmful to mental health should come as no surprise, considering psychologists have long known the effects solitary confinement has on prisoners. Even among prisoners, solitary confinement is the worst and most extreme punishment there is. As reported by Endgadget:19

“Take Robert King for example, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement. King spoke at a 2018 neuroscience conference about his experience and how it impacted his cognitive function. He described that, upon his release from prison, he had severe difficulty recognizing faces and had to retrain himself to understand what faces even were and how they worked.

He also had difficulty navigating even simple routes through a city without assistance. Turns out that when your universe is a 6-foot by 9-foot room for nearly three decades, there’s not much need to keep your navigation skills sharp — or even much impetus to keep a firm grasp of reality.

‘For some prisoners … solitary confinement precipitates a descent into madness,’ Dr. Craig Haney, professor of psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights in 2012.

Prisoners may experience crushing bouts of anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. ‘The conditions of confinement are far too severe to serve any kind of penological purpose,’ he concluded.

The reason this happens is because prolonged social isolation physically changes the shape and function of your brain. The hippocampus, the region responsible for learning and memory not only shrinks in size in response to long-term isolation, it loses its plasticity and may eventually shut down altogether.

At the same time the amygdala, which regulates your fear and anxiety response, goes into overdrive. And the longer the confinement lasts, the more pronounced these changes become — even after the inmate’s eventual release.”

Don’t Let a Virus Steal Your Life

Risk is an inevitable part of life, and for all of human history, mankind has accepted this. Now all of a sudden, we’re told we have to give up life in order to prevent the spread of a virus that poses no risk to the vast majority of people. If safety requires us to indefinitely forfeit the most valuable parts of our lives, what exactly are we trying to save? ~ A.J. Kay

Is it worth it? Just how much are you willing to give up for this false sense of security? Are you willing to give up your family? Your friends? For how long? Are you willing to live in solitary confinement for the rest of your days? Because, believe me, the threat of infectious disease will never cease.

I believe the real threat right now is what we’re doing to sabotage the mental, emotional and physical health of people, especially our children, whose development is dependent on social interactions, physical contact and facial expressions. Between mask wearing and social distancing, I fear the impact on children in particular may be long-term, if not permanent.

But it’s clearly taking a cruel toll on the elderly as well, who are nearing the end of their lives anyway. If you knew your days were numbered, how would you want to spend them? Would your main concern be to prevent an infection that might speed up the inevitable, or would you want to spend whatever time you have left surrounded by those you love?

These are significant questions that will guide your choices and thus the course of your life, and they’re more pressing now than ever. So, choose wisely this holiday season, because whatever you choose, you’ll have to live with your choices.

Sources and References

The Best of Joseph Mercola

Copyright © Dr. Joseph Mercola

If I Caught COVID-19, I Would Do This

Gary North – November 07, 2020

I have a very smart friend who is maniacal about defending against COVID-19. He has done a lot of research. Here is what he said he is doing and would do.

*********************************************

a) Prophylactic – [Math+ Protocol: covid.us.org summary; covid19.us.org; criticalcare.com; evms.edu]

Take daily to minimize Covid-19 infection BEFORE infected:

1) Zinc 30-50 mg/day [mg means ‘milligram’]
2) Vitamin D3 (w/K2) 5,000 i.u./day [i.u. means ‘international units’]
3) Vitamin C 1,000 mg/day [or 500 mg BID, i.e.2 times/day]
4) EGCG 350+ mg/day
5) Quercetin 500 mg/day
6) Melatonin (optional)
7) Pepcid AC (optional)
8) Aspirin (Enteric) 75-90 mg/day
9) Ivermectin (Stromectol) 1 time 12 mg/80KG (Rx) (adult – optional) [day 1 only]

b) Early infection onslaught (best undertaken 48 hours from symptoms/blood test confirmation):

1) Zinc 220 mg/day
2) Vitamin D3 (w/K2) 5,000 i.u./day (initially 10,000 i.u. day 1)
3) Vitamin C 1,000 mg/day (or 500 mg BID)
4) EGCG 350 mg (or more)/day
5) Quercetin 500 mg/day
6) Melatonin (optional)
7) Pepcid AC (optional)
8) Aspirin (Enteric) 75-90 mg/day
9) Ivermectin (Stromectol) 1 time 12 mg/80KG adult (Rx)

and

10) Hydroxychloriquine (HCQ) 200 mg/day (5 days) (Rx)
11) Azrithromycin 500 mg/day (5 days) (Rx)

See papers at:

1) https://c19study.com/ [summary of 200+ papers worldwide with analysis and graphs]

2) https://www.preprints.org/manuscript/202007.0025/v1/download [original Zelenko Protocol]

Notes:

* Quercetin exhibits similar protein binding as HCQ/Ivermectin – and to different virus surface proteins.

* EGCG [green tea flavonoid extract] exhibits broad anti-covid virus properties and “anti-fibrotic effect and in the ability to simultaneously downregulate expression and signaling of many inflammatory mediators” (source: NIH)

* Vitamin D (5,000 i.u) is important
* Zinc (30-50 mg) is important
* Melatonin, Pepcid AC are optional
* Essentially, the HCQ and/or Ivermectin interact in several ways – they bind to multiple (different) proteins on the virus surface and:

1) weaken the virus shell to allow penetration as a Zincophore to allow Zinc to penetrate and destroy virus DNA binding
2) bind to the virus ‘spike’ to minimize the physical virus attachment/puncture of cell walls (the virus “spikes” get covered with ‘sticky stuff’)

* Azrithromycin is a broad-based antibiotic used to minimize opportunistic bacterial infections (such as pneumonia) with some Zincophore activity Goals: Collapse viral multiplication; suppress opportunistic bacterial infection of tract; stop potential Cytokine Storm; eliminate hospitalization requirement – in particular to avoid hospital intubation.

Mideast Peace Treaties and Preparation for the Antichrist?

Sep 18, 2020 by Gary DeMar

I knew it was going to happen. On September 16 I did an hour and forty-minute interview with Hank Hanegraaff for his “Hank Unplugged” podcast that is scheduled to air Tuesday, September 22nd. I mentioned that the various peace talks with Israel and Arab nations will be seen by some as an end-time event that will usher in the antichrist.

According to some prominent prophecy writers, the antichrist must be alive somewhere in the world today setting the stage for the rapture of the church and another Jewish holocaust. This was the theme of Dave Hunt’s 1983 book Peace Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust and his 1990 Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist. On the other hand, if there are “wars and rumors of wars,” these are signs that we are living in the last days. If there is peace in the world, this is also the antichrist’s agenda.

It was in 1970 that Hal Lindsey believed the antichrist was alive somewhere in the world. Lindsey repeated this in a 1977 interview when he stated that it was his “personal opinion” that “he’s alive somewhere now. But he’s not going to become this awesome figure that we nickname the Anti-Christ until Satan possesses him, and I don’t believe that will occur until there is this ‘mortal wound’ from which he’s raised up.” [1] Dave Hunt voiced a similar view in 1990: “Somewhere at this very moment, on planet Earth, the antichrist is almost certainly alive—biding his time, awaiting his cue.” [2]

According to this prophetic view, nothing can be done to stop an end-time slaughter of the Jews. This popular prophecy system claims God is going to redeem His chosen people only after another bloody holocaust. Don’t believe me? Here’s the evidence:

  • Mark Hitchcock writes in his book Could the Rapture Happen Today? (94) that the prophecy found in Zechariah 13:8–9 states that “two parts” of the Jews living in the land of Israel during the post-rapture tribulation period “will be cut off and perish.”
  • Prophecy writer Hal Lindsey describes the judgment against Israel in AD 70 as a “picnic” compared to a super-holocaust that will lead to the slaughter of two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel during the Great Tribulation. [3]
  • Jack Van Impe states in his book Israel’s Final Holocaust that when the prophecy clock starts ticking again after the “rapture,” it “will be traumatic days for Israel. Just when peace seems to have come, it will be taken from her and she will be plunged into another bloody persecution, … a devastating explosion of persecution and misery for Israel….” [4]
  • Thomas Ice writes “that before Israel enters into her time of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 30:5–9; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:14–18). Even though the horrors of the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bible teaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during the tribulation. Anti-Semitism will reach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of world Jewry will be killed (Zech. 13:7–9; Rev. 12).” [5]
  • In his book The Best is Yet to Come, Charles Ryrie writes that during this post-rapture period Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.” [6]
  • John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse anything that it has known in the past…. [T]he people of Israel … are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.” [7]
  • On the September 18, 1991, edition of the “700 Club,” Sid Roth, host of “Messianic Vision,” stated that “two-thirds of the Jewish people [living in Israel] will be exterminated” during a future Great Tribulation. He bases his view on Zechariah 13:8–9.
  • Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.” [8]
  • The authors of Are You Rapture Ready? continue with the Jewish holocaust theme describing it as “Holocaust II” when “66 percent of Israel is wiped out.” [9]

In his book When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really says About Israel in the Plan of God, Joel Richardson’s writes that in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) Jesus Himself “spoke of a time of unparalleled tribulation just before” His return that “would indicate that what was to come in Israel could even be worse than the Holocaust. While this certainly seems to be the case,” Richardson writes, “I would suggest that we should not try to quantify the suffering to come or calculate the lives that will be lost.” It will be a time “of such magnitude and horror” that it’s “a pit too deep and terrifying. I cannot bring myself to peer over the edge. The point is that something terrible is coming and we need to get ready.” [10]

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Wars and Rumors of Wars is a verse-by-verse study of Matthew 23 and 24. If you are looking for a study of these important and often misinterprted section of Scripture, this is the book for you.Buy Now

This means that after nearly 2000 years, God is about to redeem His chosen people but only after He lets someone called the antichrist kill millions of Jews. This makes no sense. It doesn’t help that that there were many antichrists in John’s day that served as evidence that “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). These antichrists were not political figures; they were religious, most likely unbelieving Jews who were persecuting Christians (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). They denied that Jesus had come in the flesh (2 John 7) by denying “the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22).

The prophecy in Zechariah 13:8–9 describes the period between around AD 30 and 70 when a division was evident between believing and unbelieving Jews. At the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans, more than one million Jews were killed. Jesus warned that this would happen and described how it could be escaped. All someone living in Judea had to do was “flee to the mountains” (Matt. 24:16). For the stragglers, there was one more warning: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). Near for that generation not some future generation (21:32: Matt. 24:34).

No such warning is being issued today to Jews living in Israel or planning to live there. In fact, Christians are encouraging Jews to return to the land often not realizing that according to their prophetic belief system that for every three Jews returning to Israel, two will be killed. In the end, however, as I mentioned above, Zechariah 13:8–9 is fulfilled prophecy as are most New Testament prophecies.

Dr. Michael Brown has weighed in on this topic in a recent article. He buys into an end-time scenario that includes an antichrist and prophecies related to Israel. In a debate I had with him, I asked about the Zechariah 13:8–9 prophecy. He did not have an answer. He told me that he would get back with me. He hasn’t.

He points out that “some prophecy-minded evangelicals … say, “Not so fast! After all, there will be no true peace in the Middle East until Jesus returns. Plus, there are prophetic scriptures that speak of a false peace orchestrated by the antichrist that will lull the world to sleep, leading to the slaughter of millions. Beware!”

There is no such “false peace orchestrated by the antichrist.” You will search the Bible in vain to find a verse to support this doctrine. Yes, I know how it’s manufactured, so don’t tell me it’s somewhere in Daniel 9:24–27 because it isn’t.

Dr. Brown uses the following as an example of how a distant future peace treaty with Israel is taught in the Bible. I’m not sure if he believes this or that he’s only presenting what others believe:

Scriptures that would come to mind include 1 Thessalonians 5:3, where Paul wrote, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

In 1 Thessalonians 2 we find the following:

For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Judea that are in Christ Jesus. You suffered from your own countrymen the very things they suffered from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and drove us out as well. They are displeasing to God and hostile to all men, hindering us from telling the Gentiles how they may be saved. As a result, they continue to heap up their sins to full capacity; the utmost wrath has come upon them (vv. 14–16).

Paul is describing events in his day. It was this group of Jews in Paul’s day who were declaring “peace and safety” all the way up until the hammer was dropped on Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed and those who did not heed Jesus’ warning were either killed or taken into captivity. They were the “scoffers/mockers” of 2 Peter 3:3–4 (also Jude 18).

Dr. Brown then turns to an Old Testament passage that he believes refers to a yet future event:

Also relevant is Ezekiel 38:11–12, where the hostile nations will say about Israel, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.”

The land at that time was “a land of unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Compare with Esther 9:19 where the phrase “the rural towns” is used instead of “unwalled villages” in the New American Standard Bible translation. The Hebrew word perazah is used in Esther 9:19 and Ezekiel 38:11. The KJV has “unwalled towns” (Esther 9:19) and “unwalled villages” (Ezek. 38:11). Israel today is a land of walls.

Walls in Israel

Why would today’s nations plunder and loot Israel for “livestock and goods”? Consider Ezekiel 38:13: “to seize plunder, to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to capture great spoil.” Israel doesn’t have an abundance of any of these. The prophecy is describing events surrounding the return of the Jews from captivity who brought back the following:

Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:4).

The Ezekiel 38–39 prophecy is fulfilled prophecy. See my book The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance for a detailed study of the prophecy.

The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance

The Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39 has been used for centuries to describe present geopolitical events in propheticv terms. Russia has been seen as the end-time bad buy throughout the 20th century. A study of the prophecy in its historical context shows that it is fulfilled prophecy when it is studied against the background of one the Bible’s most neglected books.Buy Now

Dr. Brown is not an end-time fanatic. He’s careful in his comments. Like me, he is cautious about any Mideast peace process, as we all should be. “What I do know is that it is better for Israel to have more friends than more enemies. That being said, if sudden and dramatic peace came to the Middle East, I would be both hopeful and cautious.”

  1. “The Late Great Cosmic Countdown: Hal Lindsey on the Future,” Eternity (January 1977), 80.[]
  2. Dave Hunt, Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1990.[]
  3. Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), 220.[]
  4. Jack Van Impe with Roger F. Campbell, Israel’s Final Holocaust (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979), 37.[]
  5. Thomas Ice, “What do you do with a future National Israel in the Bible?”[]
  6. Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86.[]
  7. John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113.[]
  8. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262.[]
  9. Todd Strandberg and Terry James, Are You Rapture Ready? Signs, Prophecies, Warnings, Threats, and Suspicions that the Endtime is Now (New York: Dutton, 2003), 77.[]
  10. Joel Richardson, When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really says About Israel in the Plan of God (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 234.[]

What Did Peter Mean by “The End of All Things is Near”?

Sep 15, 2020 by Gary DeMar

While there has been a dramatic shift in Bible prophecy teaching since I started writing, speaking, and debating the topic when I was in seminary in the mid-1970s, there are still a lot of people who continue to push the belief that we are living in the last days. The following meme caught my attention, especially when there were a lot of “Amens” in the responses:

What “end” was Peter referencing? Certainly not the end of the entire physical universe since dispensationalists and other futurists believe that 1 Peter 4:7 is dealing with events leading up to something called the rapture, and there’s a lot that follows after the rapture. Here’s what I wrote in response to the post:

Peter wrote this nearly 2000 years ago. “Near” (literally: “has drawn near”) in 1 Peter 4:7 does not mean 2000 years. What Peter was describing was the near end of the old covenant order that was in the process of passing away,  a point made by the writer of Hebrews: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready [lit. near: ἐγγὺς] to disappear” (Heb. 8:13). That old covenant fully passed away when the temple was destroyed in AD 70. That’s what was near (see Matt. 24:1–434).

Last Days Madness

Last Days Madness is a comprehensive study of Bible prophecy covering everything from time texts and end-time signs to the “rapture,” antichrist, the man of lawlessness, the Olivet Discourse, and much more. It will change they way you read the Bible. Eschatology changes everything. Buy Now

In an unrelated message to me, I was told that “near” to God can mean a very short time, so 2000 years is no problem for someone interpreting 1 Peter 4:7 and Hebrews 8:13 in such a way so that “near” can mean an undetermined amount of time. When someone makes this claim, for me, it’s the end of the discussion since it makes the Bible unintelligible.

“[T]he Greek adverb eggus … means to bring near, to draw nigh, be at hand’ (Liddell & Scott, Greek Lexicon, p. 189)” and “Greek language expert Dr. Joseph Thayer [who] says that when it used in reference to time it is ‘concerning things imminent and soon to come to pass’ (Greek-English Lexicon, p. 164).”

It doesn’t take a Greek scholar to learn that the use of the Greek word ἐγγὺς/engus describes events that are “near”: Matthew 24:323326:18Mark 13:29Luke 19:11John 2:133:236:419237:2Rom. 10:8; etc. Since John is told that the events revealed to him were to take place “soon” (1:1) “for the time is near” (1:3), Revelation is about events that were to happen soon for those living in John’s day, in particular, in events leading up to and including the end of the Old Covenant represented outwardly by the temple and Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem.

The Old Covenant was replaced with a better covenant in the person and work of Jesus Christ who embodies all that the Old Covenant could only represent in temporal (stones) and fallen elements (human priests). Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), the temple built without hands (John 2:13–22; see Mark 14:5815:29Acts 6:14), the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship (Acts 2:22–36), and “a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man” (Heb. 8:1–2).

There is another component to consider in the interpretive process: audience relevance. How would John’s audience have understood the prophecy? Even today, prophecy preachers turn to the time indicators in Revelation and argue that Jesus is coming soon. But if “soon” means near to the time when we hear a prophecy enthusiast say that Jesus’ coming is “soon,” then why didn’t “soon” mean what we understand “soon” to mean to Revelation’s first readers?

Dave Hunt’s book How Close Are We? includes the following subtitle: “Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ?” What did Mr. Hunt want his readers to understand by his use of the word “soon”? He certainly didn’t have in mind nearly 2000 years in the future from the time he wrote his book in 1993.

On the Brink is the title of a prophetic work written by Daymond R. Duck. In the introduction Duck tells his readers that his book has “300 Points of Light on the Soon Return of Jesus.” [1] Duck and Hunt want their readers to believe that Jesus’ coming is going to take place soon, and by soon, they mean near, and by near they mean in this generation, and by “this generation,” they mean this one here and now. Why didn’t “soon” and “near” mean “soon” and “near” to those who read these time words in the first century?

Wars and Rumors of Wars

If you are looking for a verse-by-verse study of Matthew 24, Wars and Rumors of Wars is the book you want. It is comprehensive and covers all the arguments by those who claim Jesus was describing some worldwide end-time event.Buy Now

Chuck Smith published The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist in 1976. What did Chuck Smith mean by “soon”? While he says we can’t know who the antichrist is, he does say “God is giving us many signs that we are nearing the last days—the stage is being set.” Smith also stated that “we are living in the last generation, which began with the rebirth if Israel in 1948 (see Matt. 24:32–34).” [2] We get some idea from these comments what Smith means by near.

What did these authors intend for their audience to understand with words like “at hand,” “soon,” and “close”? Does anybody think that these books would have sold well if they carried a title like “We Don’t Know When the Antichrist Will be Revealed So Quit Asking”? The authors purposely chose time words to put readers on the edge of their prophetic seats because they know that “soon,” “close,” and “at hand” mean soon, close, and at hand.

Chuck Smith used these easily understood time references to persuade his 1976 reading audience that they were “nearing the last days” and “this generation” is their generation. So why didn’t Jesus’ audience interpret these words and phrases in the same way and apply them to their time? They did, and that’s the point.

The Bible does not tell us that Jesus would come “at any moment” spread out over several millennia. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus’ coming was “near,” close at hand, for those living in the first century. Here are some examples:

  • “Be patient, therefore, brethren,until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts,for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:7–9).
  •  “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
  • “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond‑servants, the things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1).
  • “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” (Rev. 1:3).
  • “And he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to his bond‑servants the things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 22:6).
  • “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near’” (Rev. 22:10).

These verses, and others like them, clearly state that Jesus’ return was “near.” Dispensationalists like to claim that Jesus could come at “any moment” to “rapture” His church. There is no such doctrine in Scripture. “That James does not expect the period to be long is clear when he says the parousia of the Lord (cf. 5:7) is near.” [3]

In the closing chapter of Revelation John is told, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near” (Rev. 22:10). This contrasts with what was told to Daniel hundreds of years before: “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the time of the end; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase” (Dan. 12:4; also 8:26, 10:14).

The end that was revealed to Daniel was the end the New Testament describes in great detail without any equivocation that was near for those in Peter’s day.

The following books related to Bible prophecy are available at American Vision:

  1. Is Jesus Coming Soon?
  2. The Gog and Magog End-Time Alliance.
  3. 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered.
  4. The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation
  5. The Early Church and the End of the World
  6. Left Behind: Separating Fact From Fiction
  7. Identifying the Real Last Days Scoffers
  8. Prophecy Wars
  9. Jesus v. Jerusalem (McDurmon)
  10. Revelation in the First Century (Gumerlock)
  11. Matthew 24 Fulfilled (Bray)
  12. The Book of Revelation Made Easy (Gentry)
  1. Daymond R. Duck, On the Brink: East-Understand End-Time Bible Prophecy (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Publishers, 1995), 9.[]
  2. Chuck Smith, The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist (Costa Mesa, CA: Maranatha House Publishers, 1976), 3.[]
  3. Peter Davids, Commentary on James (NIGTC) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), 184.[]

Is There a Time to Stop Praying and Start Doing?

Sep 29, 2020 by Gary DeMar

For decades, Christians have been reluctant to get involved in politics. These Christians either don’t vote or when they do vote they do so in terms of what government can do for them. The government is seen as their earthly savior. They are more concerned about where their next flu shot is coming from rather than the appointment of judges who with one vote can turn the Constitution on its head.

There are many more Christians who had given up on politics after the election of Ronald Reagan didn’t bring in the millennium. And when Bill Clinton got elected twice, hopelessness set in. George W. Bush was a big disappointment. Barack Obama was a disaster.

All that work, and for what? Christians who are experiencing political remorse are suffering from a case of faulty theology. Life is hard … There’s evil in the world … We must be faithful … We must be diligent to overturn evil with good.

Here we are in 2020 about to re-elect Pres. Trump or elect Joe Biden who will empower a government that will bring devastation to the United States that could set our nation back decades from which we may not recover.

After reading one of my articles about the seriousness of this election, I received this well-intentioned response:

I am with your reasoning but are we focusing more on voting than praying? We know that God will decide about coming peace or riots or hanging chads or voter fraud. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:16–18).

Both are necessary. We can’t pray our way out of something that requires action on our part. A student can’t pray to do well on a test if he or she didn’t study for it. Praying is not going to help if you plan to do stupid stuff.

We can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) while we act on what we’re praying about. Prayer is not a substitute for action when something can and needs to be done.

Prayer and repentance are not to be dismissed. They are the first steps in a longer process. Before the events in Elijah’s day, Joshua went through an experience that resulted in a military defeat when he expected a victory. Israel won its first encounter with Jericho without a casualty. Why should the battle with Ai be any different? The spies thought Ai was weak enough that only “two or three thousand men need go up” (Josh. 7:3). Thirty-six Israelites were killed, and the rest were pursued and assaulted by the men of Ai with the result that “the hearts of the people melted and became as water” (7:5).

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths

Have you ever heard fellow-Christians say, “We can’t be inolved in politics because Jesus never got involved in politics, there’s a separation between church and state, our citizenship is in heaven, we can’t impose our morality on other people, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, we must be neutral, we’re not to judge,…?” Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths deals with these and many more misconceived arguments. Buy Now

You know what the Israelites were thinking. “Maybe we should have stayed out of this political thing. We were at least safe when we were ghettoized beyond the Jordan and could follow our privatized and quietist faith.” There was even fear that things would get a lot worse once the “Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land” heard about the defeat (7:9). Joshua, voicing these concerns to God, did what many Christians have concluded is the only action that should be taken. “Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell on the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, both he and the elders of Israel” (7:7). In a word, they prayed … hard.

What did God tell him to do? “So the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them’” (7:11). In effect, God told Joshua to stop praying and act on the evil that brought them the defeat!

Prayer is not a magical formula, an incantation that brings forth God like a genie from a bottle. Prayer is an admission of weakness. It is in weakness that God can best use us (2 Cor. 12:9–10). But true faith and trust are not exercised if we do not act on the belief that God will work for us even in our weakness. Prayer is not the end but the beginning of the work God has called us to do, and in many cases, it is not a substitute for action. J. I. Packer says it this way:

The Spirit does what he does. His supernaturalizing of our lives enables Christians, as a matter of fact, to do much for the Lord that they wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. That’s the whole doctrine of gifts and ministry. It’s my part to see what God calls me to do, to ask the Lord to enable me to do it, then to get up off my knees and go confidently into action, watching to see what help I shall be given, and finally to give thanks for what the Spirit did in and through me[1]

There is sin in the Christian camp. Entire denominations support abortion and homosexuality or remain silent which is the same as giving support. Politicians, many who claim to be Christians, maintain that abortion should be a protected right. They’re “personally opposed” to abortion, but they can’t impose their morality on others. Are they personally opposed to slavery and racial discrimination? Sure they are. Would they vote for laws to stop them? Sure they would. If someone is personally opposed to abortion because abortion takes a human life, then a law prohibiting abortion is a moral necessity.

The sins of Achan—“the mantle of Shinar” (humanism) and “silver and gold” (mammon)—are the sins of the church. Many pastors are afraid to lose members and their money if they teach what the Bible says about certain sins. Their sermons are humanistic in that they cater to fallen men and women and their needs rather than God and His laws. We will not change things at the top until we change things at the bottom.

Prayer is a good and necessary practice. But after we fall on our face, let’s be careful not to cover our ears, shut our eyes, and bind our feet. We might just hear God’s voice say, “Rise up! Get up and vote! Get your mother to vote! Get your pastor to vote and to tell the congregation to vote! Vote in terms of what the Bible says about these issues. Vote as a son of Issachar would vote: ‘Men who understood the times with knowledge of what Israel should do’” (1 Chron. 12:32). This means being an informed voter.

  1. J.I. Packer, “The Holy Spirit at Work,” Christianity Today (March 19, 1990). Emphasis added.[]

When Did Jesus ‘Come on the Clouds of Heaven’?

Aug 13, 2020 by Gary DeMar

This is the fourth and final installment in this series (Part 1Part 2Part 3).

In Luke 21:20 we find a similar audience reference: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that her desolation is at hand.” Many prophecy writers who claim that Matthew 24 is about a yet future coming argue that Luke 21:5–24 describes the judgment on Jerusalem that took place in AD 70. Darrell L. Bock, a premillennialist, is a good contemporary example of this position when he writes, Luke “focuses  on the nearer fulfillment in the judgment pattern described here, the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, rather than the end (which he will introduce directly in 21:25).” [1] Many of the people in Jesus’ audience would have been dead by AD 70 and yet Bock has no problem with Jesus using the second person plural. As we’ve seen, it’s a non-issue and does nothing to affect the near fulfillment (“this generation”) of the prophecy.

Dispensationalists in general take a similar position. For example, Arno C. Gaebelein: “This great prophecy was fulfilled in the year 70 A.D., when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and a million perished, besides 100,000 who were made slaves. It is one of the most awful pages in human history. So has Luke 21:24 been fulfilled.”

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I have not found anything that tells me how Hollett interprets Luke 21:20. I did find the following from Mike Coldagelli’s online article “Luke 21:20-24 Fulfilled or Future?,” an interpretation supported by the debate moderator Alan E. Kurschner or holds to a pre-wrath position:

“Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” This wording is identical in all three synoptic gospels. The command flows from a condition that can be seen and understood as a sign. Remember, the questions in all three gospels ask for a sign. All three gospels mention pregnant women, nursing infants, and great distress/tribulation. What is the possibility that these four ideas were applied equally in two different discourses to two different events separated by almost 2,000 years? These four parallels in themselves make a strong case that the discourses in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are the same.

Coldagelli’s position is not common among many premillennialists. For example, non-dispensational premillennialist J. Oliver Buswell, who held a mid-tribulation view of the rapture, taught that “the Olivet discourse predicts two destructions of Jerusalem: an immediate one which occurred in AD 70 by Titus (Luke 13:34–3519:43–4421:20), and a distant one which will usher in the parousia (cf. Zech 12:214:1–9; Revelation 19)…. [He] saw the prediction of the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem only in Luke, and not in Matthew and Mark” [2] as he makes clear in his systematic theology:

Luke’s statements that in connection with a particular future destruction of Jerusalem the enemy would surround it with armies (Luke 21:20) and would build a wall around it (Luke 19:43) were so very specifically fulfilled in the destruction of the city by Titus in A.D. 70 that double fulfillment is impossible. [3]

I and other preterists take the position that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are describing the same events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem before that generation passed away. The accounts are different in several ways similar to the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke and refer to the same period of time. “In all probability,” Craig Blomberg writes, “Jesus originally uttered one connected, coherent eschatological discourse from which the three Synoptists [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] have chosen to reproduce different portions in different places.” [4]

How does Hollett get around all of these arguments? Here’s his comment which does not answer any of the issues I’ve raised:

By the way, this force-fitting of Matthew 24:25 [sic] would require the apostles to have been in Jerusalem at the time of the final assault by Titus. Many of them had already died or were evangelizing from afar! Similarly, the elders of the Sanhedrin were dead before AD 70 but DeMar’s view requires them (“you”) to have been alive (cf. Matt. 26:64)!

The simplest answer to this argument is that the use of the second person plural refers to those of “this generation,” that is, the generation that would see the events described by Jesus, the “you” of Matthew 24:33, not only those who first heard Jesus’ response to the disciples’ questions. Some of those in His immediate audience were most likely alive (Matt. 16:27–28) and living in Jerusalem since Jesus was addressing His “disciples.” This could have included some of the 70 and even some among the “multitudes” who followed His ministry. This is a much better solution than reinterpreting “when you see” to mean “when they see,” requiring a temple to be rebuilt, redefining “this generation” to mean any number of things, from this race, this nation, to the generation that sees these signs (but see Matt. 24:33), this type of generation, this offspring, this spiritual generation, and who knows what else rather than what “this generation” means elsewhere in the gospels.

Hollett might object because in Mark’s version of the Olivet Discourse we learn that “Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately” (13:3). The questioning may have been in private but the discourse itself could easily have been given to a larger crowd. Jesus often taught in the temple and “would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him” (Luke 21:37–38). There may have been a contingent of believers who followed Him. This might explain the questions asked by the four apostles privately.

Luke’s version does not limit the audience to the four: “And while some were talking about the temple … Jesus said, ‘As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down’” (21:5–6). Jesus then makes His prophetic pronouncement that concludes with, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place” (21:32).

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What should we make of this comment from Hollett?: “the elders of the Sanhedrin were dead before AD 70 but DeMar’s view requires them (‘you’) to have been alive (cf. Matt. 26:64)!” Why would Jesus have used “you” if He did not mean them? Once again, Hollett doesn’t have a convincing argument for the generic use of the second person plural here. Caiaphas certainly understood what Jesus meant (26:65).

Who was present during Jesus’ interrogation by Caiaphas? The chief priests, scribes, and elders that made up “the whole council” (26:59). There were many people there who could have been alive nearly 40 years later. But 26:64 is not describing events of AD 70 but what was going to come to pass soon—“from now on.” R.T. France explains the timing factor in his commentary on Matthew 26:64:

Coming on the clouds of heaven (together with the phrase “the Son of man”) is a clear allusion to Daniel 7:13, already similarly alluded to in [Matt] 24:30…. We have seen that its natural application in terms of its Old Testament source is to the vindication and enthronement of the Son of man in heaven, not to a descent to earth. It is therefore in this verse a parallel expression to “seated at the right hand of Power”; the two phrases refer to the same exalted state, not to two successive situations or events. In this verse the appropriateness of this interpretation is underlined by the fact that this is to be true “from now on” (hereafter is a quite misleading rendering of the more specific phrase ap’ arti, which, as in 23:39 and 26:29, denotes a new period beginning from now). Indeed it is something which Jesus’ inquisitors themselves will see (an echo of Zc. 12:10, as in 24:30?), for it will quickly become apparent in the events of even the next few weeks (not to mention the subsequent growth of the church) that the “blasphemer” they thought they had disposed of is in fact now in the position of supreme authority. [5]

N.T. Wright offers a similar interpretation in his commentary on Matthew 26:64 that references Daniel 7:13: “The Daniel text … has nothing to do with a figure ‘coming’ from heaven to earth. Despite the widespread opinion that this is what it ‘must’ mean in the gospels, there is no reason to suppose that on the lips of Jesus, or in the understanding of the earliest traditions, it meant anything other than vindication.” Anyone familiar with Old Testament language would have understood what Jesus was saying. Jesus’ enemies certainly did.

Wright continues to explain that the passage “speaks of exaltation: of one who, representing ‘the people of the saints of the most high’, is raised up from suffering at the hands of the beasts and given a throne to sit on, exercising royal power… Jesus is not … suggesting that Caiaphas will witness the end of the space-time order. Nor will he look out of the window one day and observe a human figure flying downwards on a cloud. It is absurd to imagine either Jesus, or Mark, or anyone in between, supposing the words to mean that.” [6]

The following is found in the Expositor’s Commentary on Matthew 26:64: “[T]he time is coming,” Caiaphas and the Council, “when you and I shall change places; I then the Judge, you the prisoners at the bar.”

Summary

  1. The use of the second person plural in the Olivet Discourse is consistently used for the audience to whom Jesus was speaking.
  2. For Matthew 24:15 to be a prophecy about a distant future event, another temple would have to be built even though the NT does not say anything about a rebuilt temple. The only temple Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 is the temple that was standing in His day that would be torn down stone-by-stone. No other temple is in view.
  3. The judgment was local that could be escaped on foot.
  4. The living conditions were ancient with Sabbath observation still operating, houses with flat roofs used for gatherings, and items like cloaks being of value.
  5. The use of “this generation” determines the timing of the prophetic events outlined by Jesus.
  6. Matthew 26:64 refers to something that was on the immediate horizon, possibly AD 70 or earlier, but certainly not an event 2000 years in the future.
  1. Darrell L. Bock, Luke, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 2:1675.[]
  2. Jeffrey Khoo, “Dispensational Premillennialism in Reformed Theology: The Contribution of J. O. Buswell to the Millennial Debate,” JETS 44:4 (Dec 2001), 702.[]
  3. A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 2.363.[]
  4. Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 185.[]
  5. R. T. France, Matthew: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 381.[]
  6. N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 524–525. It’s possible that Caiaphas witnessed Jesus’ ascension “on the clouds of heaven” since it happened before “the men of Galilee” and was visible to anyone who cared to see (Acts 1:29–11Luke 24:51–52).”[]