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The End of All Things
The End of The World
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3.
When the time of those events drew closer, around 60 A.D., the apostle Peter began to prepare the church for them, saying: “...the end of all things is at hand” 1 Peter 4:7, and again six years later, four years before it came to pass. In his second letter, he said that the Lord would be coming as a thief in the night, and this coming would cause the heavens to be set on fire and pass away, and the elements to melt with fervent heat, the earth as well and the works therein would be burned up 2 Peter 3:10-12. The beginning of the end of all things was not far off.
The End, of course, is Jesus, as we noted previously, as Revelation 22:13 makes this clear: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” and He was at hand then, and He is still at hand. Jesus was at hand when Peter wrote that the end of all things was at hand 1 Peter 4:7, He has been at hand throughout the past two thousand years, and He has been bringing an end to many things. Jesus is both the Beginning and the End with everything and everyone having their beginning in Him. This fact permeates the scriptures throughout the Bible; however, we can see that the end of the world, and the end of all things speaks more than Jesus being the ongoing end to all things pertaining to the realm of death. It also speaks of the judgment that would be sweeping over the world of Jerusalem. Both, He and Peter were making reference to this judgment in these verses, and that is what we want to notice today.
We can draw out metaphorical and spiritual truths from verses like these; but we need to know that Peter was speaking very plainly. He was warning the people of an approaching danger. He was not alluding to something that would take a rocket scientist to grasp. He was speaking plainly enough for children to understand.
Very often scriptures have hidden messages that speak of spiritual things that will go unnoticed by the majority, such as those things we discussed in our three previous articles in this series. We may see spiritual aspects in what Peter wrote that did not apply to that generation; however, when Peter said that the end is at hand, he meant exactly what he said. Since he was first addressing his generation, he truly meant that the end of everything of that age was at hand. It was near. It would be coming to an end soon. It was close by. The hour was swiftly approaching. The end was on their doorstep, and there would be no time to pack or call Allied Van Lines when the signs began to appear.
Jesus said that when they saw the sign of the son of man in the clouds of the heavens: “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.” Matthew 24:16-18.
Various beliefs have contributed to the misunderstanding of what was meant concerning “the end.” One of the most popular beliefs has been that the world and everything in it will eventually be destroyed at least two thousand years from the time of the warning. One factor for this belief is the idea of the “world” (cosmos) being the same as the planet called “Earth.” This has presented some problems; for instance, the earth was not destroyed shortly after those words were declared, and it has yet to be destroyed . Therefore, by misunderstanding the scriptures and historical events, it was assumed that everything was yet future. It was either that, or the apostle simply missed it. And quite a number of scholars, both of the world and of the church, have said that the apostle misunderstood what Jesus had taught, and he did not have a clear picture of God’s plan for the ages. Consequently, the truth concerning the end is seldom told, the error continues on as fact, and the false scenarios of Jesus coming soon and the heavens and earth being destroyed are never fulfilled, and they never will be as they suspect.
As long as I can remember we have heard that “Jesus is Coming Soon!” During my 60 plus years, I fail to recall Jesus ever having come in the manner they speak. So many people have repeatedly said that He would be coming soon; but Jesus never came soon! That proclamation has been going throughout the world for a long time, for hundreds of years, and the soon coming Jesus has not made one of those appointments. He skipped them all; but the word continues to resound all over the world with as much fervor and excitement, I am sure, as the first time it was declared. I do not doubt that the majority mean well; but well-meaning people who are void of the truth do not produce fruit. Even so, once a belief takes root it becomes a tradition, and traditions are harder to break free from than a maximum security federal prison. With scriptures so plain that a child would not err therein, it is amazing to see the number is ever increasing who believe that Jesus is coming soon, and He certainly may. We don’t discount that; but it will not be in the manner they imagine. And I am sure they will continue imposing Maier’s Law even when clear truth is presented to them. Maier’s Law says: “If facts do not conform to theory, they must be disposed of.”
Jesus very often used symbols when foretelling things that would be taking place and were not easily understood; but some things He said were very plain. This, however, did not stop people from failing to see what He was saying. Without a clear vision dates would then be set for the return of Jesus and the end of the world, with every one of them, of course, failing. Jesus just won’t keep a date! Therefore, after being stood-up again, like always, it’s back to the drawing boards for new charts and dates.
If you should delve into eschatology (the study of: end things/times, the end of the world or of humankind), you will find that the teaching of “Jesus coming soon” has been universally going on since the early days of the church. As time elapsed, there were seasons in which certain church factions did not major on the subject continually. However, it would not be long before someone would pick it up again. After so many past failures you would think they would discard the thought altogether; but instead, they would only set it on a shelf for a time, or bury it in shallow archives only to be dug up and propagated again, and again. There was always someone who would come along and revive it. Even when their predictions failed, which was every time, they kept on preaching, professing, predicting, and prophesying new dates. The same thing would be repeated time and again. Over and over the same people said the same thing with nothing changing but the dates, and the gullible kept believing them.
There is a pastor of a church here in Alamogordo who has been preaching every year since 1988 that Jesus is coming in September or October to rapture them. This began in that church with the pastor being consumed by the book “Eighty-Eight Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in Eighty-eight” by Edgar Whisenant (5 million sold, almost all prior to 1989). The book was revised because the author missed it by a year. He realized that when Jesus didn't come in 1988, he meant to say 1989, and here we are in the latter part of 2005 without one word having been fulfilled. Here are a few samples of other books predicting the return of Jesus and the end of the world: Watch and Be Ready! 1992 Millions Disappear (D. A. Miller); 1994? (Harold Camping); I Predict 2000, (Lester Sumrall); and B. J. Opreza’s rebuttal to such predictions, 99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return.
Some have said that Jesus appeared to them in person and told them that they would not die before he came again to rapture them away; but to the dismay of those who believed them, many are presently laying dead in their graves, and Jesus did not come as “He told them.” Apparently, they either lied, they had a dream that was influenced by their beliefs, or they were visited by a lying spirit posing as angel of light.
Every one of the date-setters of a soon coming of Jesus Christ have been wrong. Every last one of them! Not one has been right. They have all been wrong! Period! You would think that after a lifetime of failure upon failure, and failure following fast on the heals of another failure that they and their followers would have learned better by now. But the spirit of religion is a strange thing. It is a hard adversary to overcome; for it has a way of blinding people to the obvious by making a lie believable, black seem white, good to appear evil and evil good, and this excites them. It seems that they truly don’t want to overcome such an entertaining enemy. It is like a drug, making them feel good for a little while, but always letting them down.
And there is no reason to believe things will change, at least not until truth comes from on high like crashing thunder and shatters every false image of Baal. It is then we will see, as it was with Israel, that: “...they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day 2 Kings 10:27. The Amplified Bible says, “...([forever unclean] a privy to this day” i.e. an outhouse. I mention this verse for one reason — for us to see the real worthlessness of doctrines that have a lot of hype and distract from the truth. They merit no more then being receptacles for waste. Perhaps we can now understand why it grates so grievous against us when people make such statements as: “Jesus is coming soon! The rapture will be any day now!” And, “The end of the world is at hand!” Words like this are nothing more than building materials for draught houses. They are wasted thoughts, useless beliefs that will never be fulfilled.
On occasion people ask me when do I think Jesus is coming. I generally say, “He has already come. He came to me in 1971, He came at Pentecost in the upper room to the handful who tarried there, and He has continued to come to millions ever since.” The common response is, “Oh, yeah, I know that; but when do you think He is really coming? When is He coming back to earth?” My answers vary, depending on the direction of the Spirit in the matter. (Sorry I can’t give you a pat word on how to answer such questions. If this was prior to the end of the world, I might be able to give you a law that would be black or white on the subject; but this is 2005 and is after the end of the world of the Law in 70 A.D. We must now be led by the Spirit, which fulfills the Law.)
The coming of the Lord in 70 A.D. was entirely different than His coming at Pentecost. His coming in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in 70 A.D., while that which Jesus told the twelve in the 14th chapter of John was fulfilled at Pentecost. That coming has been flowing since that wonderful day, a day that so many have failed to see as one of His comings. It is a mystery that the words of the two men in white apparel have been so routinely misunderstood, even though it is plainly stated how He would come again after He ascended:
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" Acts 1:9-11.
We question why Bible scholars of most all of the world’s churches have not noticed the meaning of this term, in like manner. Terry Crisp has done the ground work that the university professors, seminary teachers, and other learned Bible scholars have failed to do:
“The main obstacle many have had with this approach presents itself in the words spoken in Acts 1:11. ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.’ To those who are inclined to reading the scriptures with natural understanding, this disallows for any variance in the way we see Christ's appearing. But when we read that Jesus would return in like manner as He was seen going away, we find it necessary to ask the question, what is meant by ‘in like manner’? Does it mean in the exact manner? Or does it mean in a similar manner? There is a big difference, you know. We would draw your attention to the fact that this phrase ‘in like manner’ comes from the Greek word tropos, and is also used by Jesus in Matthew 23:37... ‘O Jerusalem...how often I would have gathered thy children together, even as (tropos) a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings....’ No one in their right mind would assume that Jesus wanted everyone in Jerusalem to actually come under His outstretched arms, in exactly the same way that chicks seek refuge under a mother hen. That would be ridiculous. We understand that He was speaking figuratively here. In similar fashion, we could say that during His incarnation, Jesus came in like manner as the spotless lamb that was sacrificed at the Feast of Passover. It was similar to, but not an exact duplication of the prototype. After His crucifixion, we could say that He was in the heart of the earth three days and three nights in like manner as Jonah's experience in the belly of the whale (Matthew 12:40). We could also say that He carried out His duties behind the veil in like manner as the Great High Priest, not in an earthly tabernacle, as did the priests who came before Him, but into heaven itself, in order to make atonement for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-12, 24). Many examples like this could be mentioned, but this should adequately demonstrate the fact that in like manner does not necessarily mean in exact manner.
“...We could point out that in every instance where the coming of the Lord is mentioned in Scripture, and see it is not possible that they could all refer to the same event. The fact of the matter is, there are many different comings of the Lord, and six different Greek words which are used in the New Testament to describe those comings or appearings. A careful study of the original text will prove that this is so. Among these references to His return, some of them are applicable to a future event or events. Some of them have present-day applications, describing ways in which the Lord routinely comes to, with, and in His people. And some even refer to comings which have already occurred, such as His coming on the Day of Pentecost, and His coming in judgment to Jerusalem in 70 A.D.” — End quote
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" Acts 2:1-4.
A cloud received Him out of their sight. Did this not happen in like manner ten days later? In like manner, but not exactly the same way, a cloud of a few received Him in the upper room. And is it not the same today? Hasn't a cloud of people in like manner received Him out of the sight of the world? We, the cloud that resides in the heavens, have received Him; but He is not in sight of those of the world, and it is the same with those of whom we have been humbly speaking. Are they not gazing stedfastly toward heaven, looking into the heavens, into the sky, for His coming?
But the clouds of the sky are not where He is found nor from where He comes. I don’t think Jesus was seen as a flaming tongue of fire falling from the sky on the day of Pentecost, and streaming on through the open windows before baptizing the 120 with His Spirit. But He did, however, descend (was manifested) from the heavens of the Spirit and suddenly appeared as cloven tongues of fire, and His cloud of witnesses received Him.
Remember? The two men in white apparel said: "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
Again — in what manner was Jesus taken? Was it not by a cloud and into heaven? And was it not in like manner that a cloud of 120 witnesses received Him from heaven when Pentecost had fully come? He went up and came again in like manner. It was HEAVEN that He was taken into, and it was HEAVEN from where He came in like manner to fill the 120 in the upper room. A small cloud of about 120 first received Him, then 3,000, later on it was 5,000, and finally the receiving cloud grew that could not be numbered.
Even though the two men said this same Jesus shall come in like manner, it is not easy for some to equate the ascended Jesus as the same as the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Nevertheless, the two are the same, and Paul confirmed it: "Now the Lord is that Spirit..." 2 Corinthians 3:17. Moreover, let us not forget that Jesus said: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also....He dwelleth with you, and shall be IN you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” John 14:3, 17-18, and He came as promised to those He was talking to, as well as the others in the upper room when Pentecost had fully come.
Jesus was speaking of something entirely different in John 14 (“I will come to you”) than Matthew 24 (“the end of all things” and “the end of the world”). He was letting them know that after leaving, He would return and become one with them; but the end of all things being at hand, and the end of the world had to do with the end of Jerusalem and the Temple. In John 14, Jesus spoke of coming to His own in the power of holiness; but in Matthew 24 He spoke of coming in fiery judgment.
Scholars have viewed certain scriptures as presenting irreconcilable problems. Such as, “...The end of all things is at hand 1 Peter 4:7,” “...The Lord is at hand Philippians 4:5; “...the coming of the Lord draweth nigh... the judge standeth at the door James 5:8,9, etc. They assume that these verses speak of the final judgment of mankind, for which there has been no evidence; yet each one of those citations indicate it would take place during that generation’s day.
These verses have been a challenge for ages, with some saying that the apostles were wrong, while others illogically reason that after they penned those prophetic words there was a break in time, a 2000 year fracture, and now they say that the coming of Jesus is really at hand, He is finally near, He is, now, truly at the door. Frankly, there is no justification to be found anywhere in the scriptures that God takes a prophecy and chops it up into segments of time; however, this is the only way some can make the scriptures fit their end-time beliefs and predictions. This has been an ongoing problem, and it will continue being a problem for them; for all the predictions and dates will fail, and the flow of events will never correspond to the misinterpreted scriptures that speak of our Lord’s coming. The problem dissolves, however, when we understand that the time factor of His coming in Matthew 24 was for that generation and not ours. It was for that generation alone, and not for a generation 2000 years later. When the time-line of “this” generation is understood, mountains of eschatological illusions crumble, and men’s paper castles go up in smoke as the fiery word of truth sets them ablaze. Those who have a love for the truth will shout praises unto God, while those who love their own kingdoms more than God’s will call the truth a lie and die in theirs. So be it!
To be continued...
Elwin R. Roach
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