(The following commentary is a reprint of the chapter Bible Basics 101: Last Days/End Times and The Second Coming in its entirety from the book ‘REBOOTING CHRISTIANITY’. Used with permission of the author)
The last days. End times. These terms generally conjure up images of a seven year period called the great tribulation, presided over by a world dictator known as the Anti-Christ. This diabolical figure initially emerges onto the world scene amidst great turmoil on the earth, ratifying a covenant with the Jewish state of Israel, guaranteeing their security for a period of seven years. In the midst of the seven years, this Anti-Christ breaks the covenant with the Jews, and enters a rebuilt Jewish temple, proclaiming himself to be god. He then institutes a global tracking system where every human being is required to take a mark in their right hand or forehead in order to participate in a one-world economic system. Plagues, pestilence and widespread warfare become the order of the day as the Anti-Christ unleashes his fury upon the earth, and as God pours out the wrath of His judgment upon an unrepentant world. This period of hell on the earth culminates in a worldwide conflagration that is only brought to an end by the triumphant return of Christ, to establish His Millennial Reign. Afterwards, the universe is wholly consumed in fiery destruction and a new heaven and a new earth will emerge. Time will cease, and all creation will be restored to a Garden of Eden-like utopian state, perfectly reconciled to God.
Last days/end time prophecies and the Second Coming of Christ are major topics of discussion on the internet, in books and videos and in our churches. Christians look to signs that the Master and the Apostles said would occur prior to His coming, and point to the occurrence of these events in our present time as proof that the Second Coming is imminent and that we are indeed living in the last days/end times.
Many today would claim that the Bible plainly states that the world will end. However, as will be made clear, the destructive language used by the prophets refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Old Covenant temple and priesthood that had been corrupted.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, his disciples came unto him apart, saying, Tell us when these things shall be, and what sign shall be of thy coming, and of the end of the world. MATTHEW 24:3
The Greek word translated WORLD here (Strong’s G165) simply refers to an era or age. The age or era known to be coming to an end was the Old Covenant. The earth is not destined to fiery destruction.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. ECCLESISASTES 1:4
The new heavens and the new earth is language denoting the New Covenant relationship between God and Israel.
But we look for new heavens, and a new earth, according to his promise, wherein dwelleth righteousness. II PETER 3:13
Modern day dispensationalist Christians that hold to a future Second Coming are eagerly anticipating it. First, the day of the Lord is NOT something to be desired:
Woe unto you, that desire the day of the Lord: what have you to do with it? the day of the Lord is darkness and not light. AMOS 5:18
Is our current generation facing an imminent day of the Lord? Eschatology is the study of last days/end time events. It is absolutely imperative that we – as believers – get our eschatology straight, as there are many important events that are incidentally timed to Christ’s return.
Before we can accurately study and understand these last days prophecies, we need to ask ourselves, last days of what? A careful examination of scripture reveals that the Master and His Apostles spoke of the last days of the Old Covenant system.
The Bible tells us that the purpose of His Second Coming was several-fold: Judgment was to be leveled against Judah, and the corrupt Pharisaical priesthood and Temple were to be destroyed. Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and the remarriage of Christ to His Bride were incidental to His coming, resulting in the redemption and salvation of Israel. The New Covenant would be ushered in and the new Temple put in place.
The Bible is clear that the Old Covenant made with Moses and the Israelite elders at Mount Sinai was rendered null and void with Christ’s death upon the cross.
And putting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, he even took it out of the way, and fastened it upon the cross. COLOSSIANS 2:14
For Christ is the end of the Law…ROMANS 10:4
The Law referenced in the scripture above was the Old Mosaic Law Covenant. The Old Covenant was a conditional contract between God and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. This contract was a law unto itself, and was abrogated when Christ shed His blood upon the cross.
This is my blood of that new Testament which is shed for many. MARK 14:24
For where a Testament is, there must be the death of him that made the Testament. For the Testament is confirmed when men are dead: for it is yet of no force as long as he that made it, is alive. HEBREWS 9:16-17
Jesus’ death upon the cross put an end to the Old Covenant, and simultaneously “sealed the deal” - so to speak - for the New Covenant. However – and it is extremely important that Christians understand this – there was not a knife-edge cutover from the Old to the New.
In that he saith a new Testament, he hath abrogated the old: now that which is disannulled and waxed old, is ready to vanish away. HEBREWS 8:13
As prophesied, the Old Covenant would be rendered obsolete and replaced with a New Covenant. The time from the Cross to Christ’s coming could be thought of as a transition period. Why was it necessary for a transition period? Simply put, to preach the Gospel to the diaspora of the House of Israel.
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. MATTHEW 10:6
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that shall believe and be baptized, shall be saved: but he that will not believe, shall be damned. MARK 16:15-16
Jesus Himself told His disciples that the Gospel was to be preached throughout all the world. The world in this verse does not refer to every human being on the face of the earth, but rather the millions of kinsmen from the House of Israel, who had been scattered at the time of the Assyrian captivity nearly three quarters of a millennium prior. These scattered Israelites that had been divorced from God were to receive the good news that Jesus the Messiah had appeared to fulfill the prophecies of redemption and restoration of the House of Israel with the House of Judah. A portion of these scattered Israelites had retained some knowledge of their identity, while many others had gradually forgotten their history, having been assimilated into the heathen populations they encountered in their dispersion. These scattered Israelites were the “lost sheep” that the disciples were commissioned to reach.
To properly examine and understand what the Bible has to say regarding what we today call the Second Coming and end time/last days events, we must consider who were the authors of these prophecies, and to whom they were originally written. End time prophecies can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. The authors of these prophecies lived thousands of years ago, and were addressing Israelite audiences, writing in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The authors of these Biblical books – especially in the Revelation – were using highly figurative, metaphorical, symbolic and even hyperbolic language, easily understandable to the original recipients of the message. Just as we today pepper our conversations with metaphors, the prophets also used idioms and colloquialisms popular at that time in Hebrew society. These prophecies were written FOR us, but they weren’t written TO us.
Here we are in the 21st century, looking at prophesied events through our modern eyes. It is absolutely imperative that we try to view the last days scriptures through the eyes of the people that our Lord said would have front row seats to the events contained therein.
The term Second Coming isn’t even found in the Bible. Prophecies simply refer to His coming, as in the verses below. The Greek word for coming is Parousia (Strong’s G3952), which also means ‘presence’.
his disciples came unto him apart, saying, Tell us when these things shall be, and what sign shall be of thy coming…MATTHEW 24:3
For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and is seen into the West, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. MATTHEW 24:27
But as the days of Noah were, so likewise shall the coming of the Son of man be. MATTHEW 24:37
Every modern day Christian that believes we are currently in the last days and that we are experiencing end time events needs to understand that ample scriptures exist to demonstrate that the original Israelite recipients of these prophecies understood them to be the end of the Old Covenant, not a worldwide cataclysm that engulfs the whole earth. The first century Israelites that walked, talked and broke bread with our Savior Himself, plus all those alive during His ministry not only knew the last days referred to the end of the Old Covenant system, they also knew that this would entail the judgment of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. No Israelite was under the illusion that the last days would involve the whole world, nor that these events would transpire two millennia hence. Not a single one! Israel had transgressed the Old Covenant, which – according to the terms and conditions – invoked the judgment of God; the prophet Jeremiah writes that God would make a new covenant to replace the old.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, the which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. JEREMIAH 31:31-33
There are two main overarching reasons why Judah was to be judged; shedding innocent blood and playing the harlot. Judah had killed the prophets that God had sent to them, and they even killed their own children, offered as human sacrifices to the false idols of the surrounding heathen nations. Judah had violated – repeatedly – God’s commandment not to worship other gods. This was spiritual adultery and made Judah a harlot.
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, his soul abhorreth seven: and the hands that shed innocent blood. PROVERBS 6:16-17
And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons, and of their daughters whom they offered unto the idols of Canaan, and the land was defiled with blood. PSALMS 106:38
And for the innocent blood that he shed, (for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood) therefore the Lord would not pardon it. II KINGS 24:4
Their feet turn to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are wicked thoughts: desolation and destruction is in their paths. ISAIAH 59:7
How is the faithful city become an harlot? it was full of judgment, and justice lodged therein, but now they are murderers. ISAIAH 1:21
They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return again unto her? shall not this land be polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers: yet turn again to me, saith the Lord.
Lift up thine eyes unto the high places, and behold, where thou hast not played the harlot: thou hast sat waiting for them in the ways, as the Arabian in the wilderness: and thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms, and with thy malice. JEREMIAH 3:1-2
When I saw, how that by all occasions rebellious Israel had played the harlot, I cast her away, and gave her a bill of divorcement: yet her rebellious sister Judah was not afraid, but she went also and played the harlot. JEREMIAH 3:8
And I will judge thee after the manner of them that are harlots, and of them that shed blood, and I will give thee the blood of wrath, and jealousy. EZEKIEL 16:38
Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line: and thou shalt die in a polluted land, and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. AMOS 7:17
The two separated nations of the House of Israel and the House of Judah had each transgressed the Old Covenant and sinned against God by worshipping heathen gods and idols. Despite repeated pleadings and warnings to repent and turn once again to their God, the House of Israel paid a dear price when God rendered judgment upon them, moving the nation of Assyria to deport them from Palestine, and eventually being scattered amongst the nations. This judgment was dear because God divorced the House of Israel, and was thus no longer under the covenant blessings and protections of their God. They were no longer His people, and were no different than the heathen nations amongst whom they would be scattered. Please note the verse below:
And the Lord said unto me, The rebellious Israel hath justified herself more than the rebellious Judah. JEREMIAH 3:11
The House of Israel had transgressed the terms of the Old Covenant sufficiently enough for Him to divorce them; yet, the verse above tells us that the House of Judah had actually sinned more egregiously than the House of Israel. This begs the question, why did God stay His judgment upon the House of Judah? The answer is: Judah was to bring forth the Messiah; God remained married to the House of Judah so that our Savior and the Redeemer would not be born illegitimately. Once Jesus had completed His assigned mission with His ministry, death, burial and resurrection, Judah was to face her long promised judgment.
Jesus Himself wept over the pending judgment of Judah and destruction of Jerusalem, which was to leave it desolate.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as the hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your habitation shall be left unto you desolate. MATTHEW 23:36-38
A very important prophecy regarding the judgment of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem was given by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived during the time leading up to the Babylonian captivity. He was instructed by God to buy a clay bottle from a potter. In the sight of his countrymen, he was to list all the things that God said would come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem for their shedding of innocent blood and worshipping other gods. Then he was to smash the clay bottle onto the ground, breaking it into dozens of pieces, rendering it forever unusable for service. This was to symbolize the completeness of judgment and destruction that was to befall Judah and Jerusalem in the last days.
Thus saith the Lord, Go, and buy an earthen bottle of a potter, and take of the ancients for the people, and of the ancients of the Priests, And go forth unto the valley of Ben-Hinnom, which is by the entry of the East gate: and thou shalt preach there the words, that I shall tell thee,
And shalt say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O Kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring a plague upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and profaned this place, and have burnt incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they, nor their fathers have known, nor the Kings of Judah (they have filled this place also with the blood of innocents,
And they have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind). Therefore behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Topheth, nor the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter.
And I will bring the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem to nought in this place, and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their lives: and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the field. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing, so that everyone that passeth thereby, shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.
And I will feed them with the flesh of their sons, and with the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies that seek their lives, shall hold them strait. Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,
And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again, and they shall bury them in Topheth till there be no place to bury. JEREMIAH 19:1-11
For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house, whereupon my Name is called to pollute it. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate. JEREMIAH 7:30,34
And shalt say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O Kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring a plague upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.
And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, If ye will not hear me to walk in my Laws, which I have set before you, And to hear the words of my servants the Prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, and will not obey them, Then will I make this House like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all nations of the earth. JEREMIAH 26:4-6
Because of mainstream Christianity’s errant eschatology, we spend many countless, unproductive hours speculating as to who the harlot and Mystery Babylon of Revelation might be. Does the Bible itself have any clues that might help us identify these two entities? Absolutely! Jerusalem itself is identified by the Apostle Peter as Babylon. The city had become so wicked that it had earned the moniker of the long-defunct empire of Babylon.
The Church that is at Babylon elected together with you, saluteth you, and Mark my son. I PETER 5:13
And there followed another Angel, saying, Babylon that great city is fallen, it is fallen: for she made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. REVELATION 14:8
And in her was found the blood of the Prophets and of the Saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. REVELATION 18:24
Now that Babylon of Revelation is identified by scripture, can we also find who the harlot of Revelation is, once again, by using scripture? Yes. The Old Testament pages contain a plethora of verses that tell us that Judah is the sister that played the harlot. Keep in mind that the Bible tells the story of Israel – the nation that was entrusted with the Kingdom by God. God Himself referred to Judah as a harlot, for whoring after the gods worshipped by the heathen nations. God promised judgment against Judah for their sins, and Revelation details the rendering of judgment. You can’t change horses midstream; if Judah was labeled a harlot and prophesied to judgment in the Old Testament, it would be a mistake to apply the harlot language to another entity in the New Testament.
The disciples came to Jesus and asked Him what they should be looking for prior to His return.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, his disciples came unto him apart, saying, Tell us when these things shall be, and what sign shall be of thy coming, and of the end of the world. MATTHEW 24:3
Then Jesus answered and said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat on the mount of Olives, over against the Temple, Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew asked him secretly, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? MARK 13:2-4
Jesus gave them a list of events that would occur leading up to His return and the leveling of judgment, with the siege of Jerusalem being the sign that the desolation is near.
And when ye see Jerusalem besieged with soldiers, then understand that the desolation thereof is near. For these be the days of vengeance, to fulfill all things that are written. LUKE 21:20, 22
Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of poison unto all the people round about: and also with Judah will he be in the siege against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem an heavy stone for all people: all that lift it up, shall be torn, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. ZECHARIAH 12:2-3
It has been previously mentioned that first century Israelites knew and understood that scriptures depicting last days prophecies were in reference to the last days of the Old Covenant system. Furthermore, Jesus’ disciples were told by the Master Himself that the events associated with the end of the age would happen during THEIR lifetimes. Let’s stop for a moment to contemplate this; if you were a disciple who ministered to first century Israelites from Judah alongside Jesus, watched as He performed miracles of raising the dead and healing the sick, and He looked you in the eyes and said that you would be alive to witness His coming, would you have any reason whatsoever to believe that He was addressing an audience 2,000 years from then?
Verily I say unto you, there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Son of man come in his kingdom. MATTHEW 16:28
Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation. MATTHEW 23:36
Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. MARK 13:30
The Old Testament prophet Joel gives a last days prophecy about God pouring out His Spirit upon all flesh, and people having dreams and visions.
And afterward will I pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. JOEL 2:28
Peter confirms for us that the last days were indeed in the first century, with fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. On the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in tongues. Totally bewildered witnesses looked upon these men who had just received the Holy Spirit and surmised that they must be drunk.
But Peter standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and ye all that inhabit Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken unto my words. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, since it is but the third hour of the day. ACTS 2:14-15
Peter explained that the Apostles had just received the Holy Spirit, as promised by God, and were not intoxicated. Peter appealed to the last days prophecy by Joel:
But this is that, which was spoken by the Prophet Joel, And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons, and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. ACTS 2:16-17
The author of the Book of Hebrews confirms the first century context of the last days.
At sundry times and in divers manners God spake in the old time to our fathers by the Prophets: in these last days he hath spoken unto us by his Son. HEBREWS 1:1
The Apostle James addressed the scattered Israelites of the diaspora, informing them of the imminence of the Lord’s return:
Be ye also patient therefore, and settle your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth near. JAMES 5:8
The first century authors and recipients of the Books of Jude and II Timothy understood that they were living in the last days as well.
But, ye beloved, remember the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: How that they told you that there should be mockers in the last time, which should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These are they that separate themselves from others, natural, having not the Spirit. JUDE 1:17-19
This know also, that in the last days shall come perilous times. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, cursed speakers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, intemperate, fierce, no lovers at all of them which are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, Having a show of godliness, but have denied the power thereof: turn away therefore from such. II TIMOTHY 3:1-5
The Apostle Paul is exhorting first century Israelites living in Thessalonica to be sanctified and remain blameless before the coming of the Lord. The coming of the Lord was something these scattered Israelites anticipated in their lifetimes.
Now the very God of peace sanctify you throughout: and I pray God that your whole spirit and soul and body, may be kept blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I THESSALONIANS 5:23
In the following verse, Paul is addressing the dispersed Israelites living in Thessalonica, who at that time were experiencing heavy persecution from their kinsman from the House of Judah. The leadership of the House of Judah desperately clung to the Old Covenant system, because their corrupted version of it provided their source of power. Hence, they began heavy persecution of the early recipients of the Gospel. Here Paul is telling living, breathing Israelite kinsmen to remain faithful, because their suffering was to come to an end soon, when Christ’s coming would render vengeance unto their persecutors. Of what comfort would these words be to first century Thessalonians, if Paul was writing to Christians two thousand years from then?
So that we ourselves rejoice of you in the Churches of God, because of your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye suffer. Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for the which ye also suffer.
For it is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, And to you which are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall show himself from heaven with his mighty Angels,
In flaming fire, rendering vengeance unto them, that do not know God, and which obey not unto the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which shall be punished with everlasting perdition from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,
When he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and to be made marvelous in all them that believe (because our testimony toward you was believed) in that day. II THESSALONIANS 1:4-10
As the Bible reader makes their way through the epistles of the New Testament leading up to the Book of the Revelation, they will notice an increasing sense of imminence and urgency regarding Christs’ return. This lends credence to prophecies of the judgment of Judah and destruction of Jerusalem as the coming of Christ ushers in the New Covenant. In Revelation, there are five instances that state Christ will come shortly. The Greek word translated shortly is tachos (Strong’s G5034), which means quickly or speedily. Given these definitions, it is preposterous to believe that shortly can be stretched out to cover a period of two thousand years, yet that is exactly what today’s dispensationalists espouse. Shortly is not relative in meaning.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly be done. REVELATION 1:1
Behold, I come shortly: hold that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. REVELATION 3:11
And he said unto me, These words are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy Prophets sent his Angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be fulfilled. Behold, I come shortly. Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophecy of this book. REVELATION 22:6-7
And behold, I come shortly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be. REVELATION 22:12
Modern day dispensationalists anticipating a future coming of Christ point to His words in Matthew 24 as proof. Jesus’ appearing must be imminent as modern communications have made it possible to reach all people in all nations.
And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. MATTHEW 24:14
The Apostle Paul gives us confirmation in the verse below that the Gospel had indeed been preached in his lifetime, in the first century AD. Taking the Gospel only to whom the promises of restoration were given, it was entirely possible to have it preached in the first few decades following Christ’s resurrection.
If ye continue, grounded and established in the faith, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, whereof ye have heard, and which hath been preached to every creature, which is under heaven, whereof I Paul am a minister. COLOSSIANS 1:23
God’s Covenant People had His solemn promise that He would dwell amongst them. He dwelt in the Tabernacle when the Israelites first came out of Egyptian bondage, which is detailed in Exodus. Once Israel was established in Palestine, God dwelt in the Temple built and dedicated during King Solomon’s reign.
I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. EXODUS 29:45
And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel. I KINGS 6:13
In the last days of the Old Covenant, God promised He would destroy the Temple when He judged Jerusalem – not one stone would be left standing. God also promised that He would raise up a new Temple. The prophecy of the new Temple in Amos is confirmed in the Book of Acts.
Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it clean out of the earth. But all the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not come, nor hasten for us. In that day will I raise up the Tabernacle of David, that is fallen down, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it, as in the days of old. AMOS 9:8, 10-11
After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down, and the ruins thereof will I build again, and I will set it up. ACTS 15:16
So far, so good. This is where it becomes problematic for anyone who believes in a mythical Anti-Christ entering a rebuilt Jewish temple in our modern times; the new Temple promised in Amos was not to be a free-standing, brick and mortar dwelling place for our God. There are at least three verses that confirm the new Temple would not be built with human hands.
But Christ being come an high Priest of good things to come, by a greater and a more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this building. HEBREWS 9:11
For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens... II CORINTHIANS 5:1
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. HEBREWS 8:2
Ezekiel and Jeremiah provide Old Testament verification that in the New Covenant with Israel, He would put His Law in our hearts and dwell amongst us.
Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them: it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the heathen shall know, that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my Sanctuary shall be among them forevermore. EZEKIEL 37:26-28
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. JEREMIAH 31:31, 33
Hebrews 9 confirms that the New Covenant promise of a new Temple – one not made with hands – could not be put into place while the Old Covenant Temple was still standing. Hence, the necessity for the utter level of destruction laid upon the Temple. God’s Israelite People would become the new Temple, and He would dwell amongst us.
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing... HEBREWS 9:8
Neither will I hide my face anymore from them: for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God. EZEKIEL 39:29
for ye are the Temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell among them, and walk there: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. II CORINTHIANS 6:16
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. REVELATION 21:3
Christ’s Parousia was to reunite the long separated House of Israel with the House of Judah in Covenant relationship, restore to them the Kingdom, provide their salvation and render judgment upon Jerusalem. It was to sweep away any and all vestiges of the Old Covenant, including the Temple and the corrupt Pharisaical priesthood. Please note the figurative, metaphorical and even hyperbolic language utilized to denote His coming. The verses referencing clouds and power and great glory reflect idioms prevalent in the language and culture at that time. They are not to be taken literally.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of compassion, and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced, and they shall lament for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and be sorry for him as one is sorry for his firstborn. ZECHARIAH 12:10
Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him: yea, even they which pierced him through. REVELATION 1:7
And then shall they see the Son of man come in a cloud, with power and great glory. LUKE 21:27
We see multiple examples of cloud language throughout the Bible, referring to the presence of God.
And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. EXODUS 34:5
And the Lord appeared in the Tabernacle in the pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the Tabernacle. DEUTERONOMY 31:15
Christ’s Parousia was manifested in the invading Roman armies of Titus, which besieged Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The destruction was so complete as to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would be left standing.
Verily I say unto you, there shall not be here left a stone upon a stone, that shall not be cast down. MATTHEW 24:2
With the Old Covenant Temple and corrupt priesthood swept away, the New Covenant was ushered in, restoring the Kingdom to the two Houses of Israel in order to fulfill their divinely ordained roles as kings and priests.
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, because thou wast killed, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God Kings, and Priests, and we shall reign on the earth. REVELATION 5:9-10
Ye shall be unto me also a kingdom of Priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. EXODUS 19:6
The prophets Isaiah and Hosea spoke of the last days when the Kingdom would be restored to the reunited Houses of Israel. The long-scattered Israelites from the House of Israel would hear the Gospel, and would naturally respond by seeking their King and flowing into the Kingdom.
It shall be in the last days, that the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be prepared in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the Law of the Lord. ISAIAH 2:2,5
Afterward shall the children of Israel convert and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. HOSEA 3:5
Jesus shed His blood to take away the sins of the Israelites, then was promised to return to provide salvation to His People.
So Christ was once offered to take away the sins of many, and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. HEBREWS 9:28
all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, The deliverer shall come out of Zion, and shall turn away the ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant to them, When I shall take away their sins. ROMANS 11:26-27
By taking away the sins of Israel, God could now remarry His Bride, just as He promised He would in the Old Testament.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. REVELATION 19:7
Contrary to popular doctrine, Christ’s Parousia does not return the world to a pre-fall Garden of Eden utopian state. There will still be sin and evil that exists in the world.
Blessed are they, that do his Commandments, that their right may be in the tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the City. For without shall be dogs and enchanters, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth or maketh lies. REVELATION 22:14-15
Fantastic tales of the last days of planet earth enthrall Christian and non-Christian alike; they help to sell prophecy books, videos and fill the pews of dispensational churches, but have absolutely zero basis in scripture. Single verses are excerpted and twisted to manufacture a doctrine of an imminent return of Jesus in OUR time. The prophecies of redemption, national restoration and salvation belong to Israel, and Israel alone. No amount of twisting can be done to extend the Covenant promises to any other people but Israel.
The so-called ‘Second Coming’ is a done deal; a fait accompli. The long-foretold judgment of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Old Covenant Temple system, the redemption, restoration and salvation of Israel, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the coronation of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, the Resurrection and the ushering in of the New Covenant – complete with the new Temple not made with hands - ALL saw their fulfillment in 70 AD. The New Covenant has been in effect since that time. God now tabernacles with His people.
Our Master looked His disciples in the eyes, and in plain, unambiguous language, told them He would return before the last one of them died. Was Jesus wrong, or do we err in our knowledge of Bible Scriptures due to lack of serious Christian scholarship? Our weakness in eschatology has induced a sense of resignation amongst God’s People. We look at the state of the world today and conclude that there is no use trying to fix things, as Jesus said it would be like this prior to His return.
Christians today are concerned about current world events – and rightfully so. However, believing that Christ’s return to be a future event has led many of us to just sit back and relinquish our Kingdom mandate.
Todd R. Carpenter is the author of REBOOTING CHRISTIANITY, released July 2016. His website is www.rebootingchristianity.com.
The author is a retired United States Naval Officer, and veteran of Operations Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He holds an FAA private pilot certificate, currently working towards an instrument rating, and is a bladder cancer survivor.