Purity by Expectation

He who has this hope in him, purifies himself just as He is pure.
1 John 3:3

It is essential to understand what biblical writers mean by the word “hope.” When we say, ‘I hope so” we usually mean, “I have no certainty about what will transpire, but I hope against hope that it will be like such and such.” For us today, hope is a hope-so hope.

The biblical meaning of the word is very different. The element of uncertainty has been removed from it—when you read the word “hope” think “expectation,” or ‘anticipation.” It is applies to something that is certain, but is a “hope” because it just hasn’t happened yet. The blessed hope isn’t the blessed “hope-so.” It’s the happy expectation—the joyous anticipation OF Christ’s coming in glory as the “great God and Savior.” What makes it a hope is not that it is uncertain, but that it is still in the future.

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Matthew 19:27 Revisited

In a recent blog I referred to this passage as predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD since Jesus said that some listening to Him would live to see the event occur.

The next section (20:ff) relates to the transfiguration. “See,” say some,” that’s what Jesus was talking about.”

Oh? How come? Why would He say that some standing there would remain alive until He came in His kingdom if He was speaking of the transfiguration?

If the coming referred to the transfiguration, He would be speaking foolishly (which, of course, He didn’t). Why say that “some” would remain alive until then when He knew that all would remain until the event of which He spoke?

Moreover, the transfiguration was only six days later, as the text points out, so why speak about a period so future that some would die before the event?

Just think!

Think!

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Coming In His Kingdom

To what do these words refer in Matthew 16:27?

The question must be answered in terms of the text itself—including its context. Many, whenever they hear the words “coming” think immediately of the Second Coming. However, that is the wrong thing to do. Since there are several “comings” predicted in Scripture, we must determine in each case to which “coming” any given passage refers.

“The answer is simple,” some say. Look at what is described–He comes along with His angels, with His Father’s glory, and is ready to reward men and women for their works. This has got to be the second coming.”

But in the context Jesus, Himself, makes it clear that this is not the coming to which He was referring. How do we know that? What did He say? Jesus told us (verse 28) that there were some alive at the time when He spoke who would not die before they saw the Son of Man coming.

Obviously, that to which He referred, then, was an event that He called a “coming,” that would take place in His generation. And there was such an event—forty years later (70AD) His kingdom replaced the Roman kingdom (that was the final phase of sinful world dominion) about which Daniel wrote (in chapters 2, 7). Daniel’s metallic man, predicting the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome by the various metals in each part, was to be destroyed by a kingdom that, like a stone not cut out by human hands, would bring down the entire image. This stone would strike the image in the days of Roman dominance—the same time as the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 70AD. That kingdom would grow, as it went into all of the earth (Cf. Colossians 1:6, 23), and would be an eternal kingdom, never to be replaced as the previous Satanic kingdoms had been. It was the kingdom of Christ—the subject of Matthew 16:27, 28.

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A Beginning to the Study of NT Prophecy

Begin your study by erasing the uninspired “Chapter 5” heading of 1 Thessalonians. Then, go back and notice that Chapter 4 is speaking of the second coming. Now, remember the many times you’ve heard that Christ must be coming soon because of the terrible state of things in the world. Now read on in chapter 5 which, since you’ve erased the misplaced heading, goes on telling you about the “times and seasons” of the second coming Paul has been discussing. What are they like? Not terrible times—filled with wars and rumors of wars, etc.—after all! Rather, it is when the world says “peace and safety” that “sudden destruction comes upon them.”

Something wrong with what you’ve been taught? When you understand that the predictions that you’ve heard are wrong, but that the words “wars and rumors of wars” is still in the Bible, you can’t wait to search the Scriptures to find out what they really refer to. When you finally locate them, using your handy pocket concordance, you’ll see that they are talking about a period of distress that took place a short time before the Destruction of Jerusalem. You will also discover that they are early signs—that the end is not yet—and that they are a beginning of sorrows. Then, you’ll want to know what the closer sign is. And you will discover that it has to do with the surrounding of Jerusalem with armies.

If you get this far without stumbling, you will be tempted to pursue the places to which these facts lead you. Best wishes on your travel.

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There Is No Other Way to View It

After all, that’s what the text says, doesn’t it? Read it for yourself:

The days will come when your enemies will throw up a bank around you and will surround you and will hem you in on all sides . . .            (Luke 19:43)

Then, Jesus goes on to speak of the horrors that will follow, and concludes by saying that these things will happen

Because you didn’t know the time of your visitation.

The Magi knew, Joseph of Aramathea knew—and a small number of other believers who studied their Bibles knew. But the populace, as a whole—enmeshed unbelief—did not. So, when the Romans came and destroyed the city, over 1 million residents and visitors perished!

That was in 70AD, as Daniel had clearly predicted (chs. 9, 2, 7)—that it had to happen in the days of Roman ascendency. Those were the “times” referred to.

Now what of the second coming? We are told that it will occur in times of anxiety, fear of wars, uncertainty in the world, etc. and those who have set dates on that basis have failed. Now no one should set dates—Jesus said we won’t know the day or hour.

But we, like those Jews, ought to know the times (season—kind of period) in which it will take place. Are they right in projecting wars and rumors of wars, etc.? Listen to what Paul says,

When they are saying ‘peace and safety’ sudden destruction will come upon them      (1 Thess. 5:3)

And this is, he says, what the “times and seasons” of what he has been speaking in chapter 4 will be like (there was no chapter heading between chapter 4-5 when Paul wrote—heading were added years later, and are uninspired.  He just went on speaking of the second coming).

So the times and seasons when Jesus will return will be times when the world thinks it “has it made” (saying peace and safety)—not in times of uncertainty, fear of war, etc. How wrong can people be when they don’t read their Bibles?

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Prophecy Fulfilled Exactly!

Teacher, when will this be? And what will be the sign that this will happen?

These questions of the disciples (Luke 21:7) were asked following the Lord’s declaration that “there won’t be one stone left upon another that won’t be thrown down” (v. 6). The discussion had to do with the future of the temple in Jerusalem (and the city of Jerusalem, where it was located). The words, as is obvious, can’t mean anything less than total destruction.

They asked Him, “when” will it happen? The answer to the first question, according to the facts (that we now are able to look back upon as history) it occurred in 70AD. The Romans not only burned the temple, but they literally did push one stone off another, and plowed up the ground to finish off what was left standing. The one western foundation wall, they left untouched (the so-called “wailing wall”) in order to demonstrate what a great feat it was to pull off the destruction of such a huge place. And when it took place, one of the greatest destructions of life was the result—well over a million. At the time when the siege began people all over the Mediterranean world had gathered for an annual feast—the city was filled beyond capacity—a fact that accounts for such loss of life. So, according to Christ’s prophecy, which He also predicted to occur in their lifetime (Matthew 24:34—the parallel account of the event), Jesus’ words were fulfilled to the letter– one of the greatest evidences of the truth of Scripture.

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Earth and Heaven

In facing the Sanhedrin, Jesus declared

But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.

In saying this, He made it clear that at His ascension, what had been predicted in Daniel 9 would become a reality.

“And that was . . .”

That as He ascended, He would come to the Father with the clouds that accompanied Him into the sky, to receive power and honor and glory as the God-man Who would be seated at the right hand of the Father—the place of power.

That was why, in giving the great commission to His disciples, Jesus prefaced His words with the declaration that all authority in heaven and in earth had been given to Him. He could say, “therefore” go. It was His prerogative to do so.

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The Temple

Zechariah has more references to the coming of Christ than any other OT book but Isaiah. It ought to be studied carefully. The golden age of approximately 300 years’ duration, in which one neighbor invites his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree refers to that period rather than to something yet future. It was part of the comforting message that God spoke through the angel who appeared in the vision. The horsemen in the vision brought news that the world was at rest—no wars, etc. It was a good time to build. And, in response to Haggai and Zechariah’s messages, the people finally got to work. For thirteen years, they had walked past a foundation that screamed, “Finish this building,” but they failed to do so. Now, after the “nagging prophet” (as Haggai was dubbed) and the “comforting prophet” (as Zechariah was considered) proclaimed their messages, the Jews began building once more and completed the work in 4 years! Just think that they would have had God’s blessings poured out on them, they would have had a place to gather and worship, the shekinah glory would have returned, and the 300 years of peace and tranquility would Have begun thirteen/fourteen years earlier!

How we put off the things that God commands!

The sinful pattern of postponing that which need not be postponed is prevalent among believers.

Is there something you know that God wants you to do, that you have neglected out of laziness, out of fear, or for some other reason? It’s time to listen to the message of these two prophets—one (rightly)condemns you for your inexcusable failure, the other encourages you by the promises of blessing that will follow. The two approaches, combined, ought to strongly ,move you to action. To dispel God’s anger while entering into His blessing ought to get you up off your duff right now, and, whether you feel like it or not, ought to move you to action.

The word of exhortation and the word of encouragement, come, alike, from the same reigning Savior, Who did not put off the horrible experience of the cross—so that you might be saved and enter into the blessings that await you.

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Two Mountains

Hebrews contrasts Mt. Sinai (described in Hebrews 12:18-21) with Mt. Zion, mentioned by name in Hebrews 12:22-24.

“How is that? I thought that God was through with that physical mountain on which the temple and the city of Jerusalem were built.”

You’re right, of course—and wrong!

“What kind of talk is that?”

Straight talk, as the biblical word parresia means.

“OK. Go ahead; explain—I’m not interested in Greek terms.”

Sure. There is a heavenly Mt. Zion as well as an earthly one. People who are looking for good times in a future, earthly, rebuilt Zion, miss the boat. They look for something far inferior. The good times have already begun, and in the future will get even better—for believers, of course.

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Coming?

The last book of the Old Testament ends with the word “curse.”

“Didn’t know that. Have you any idea of what that is all about?”

Sure. It’s looking forward to the judgment of His people if they don’t respond to John the Baptist’s coming in the future.

“Did it happen?”

Because of the total lethargy of the people about their faith, their disbelief, and their wickedness, God warned them of a great and terrible Day coming in the future in which He would strike the land with a curse. If they refused to return to the faith of their believing fathers, it was inevitable.”

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