QUESTION: Our current lesson is "The Second Coming of Christ." I asked the students (in the chronology of all end times events) when will the second coming take place. One student said, "After the temple is rebuilt." Maybe I'm forgetting something basic, but I can't think of a scripture that refers to the temple being rebuilt between now and the second coming. I understand what happened in 70 A.D. and the prophecy surrounding that event, but is there scripture relating to this student's answer?
RESPONSE: In the pre-millennial view the 7 year tribulation takes place. 1 Thes. 2:3-9 says the man-of-lawlessness will set him self up as God in God's temple and the Lord Jesus will overthrow him by the splendor of his coming. More details are given in Revelation and Daniel. This is the temple that will be rebuilt by the Jews for the tribulation. They will be allowed to offer sacrifices there for 3 1/2 years before the A.C. says he is God and takes over for the final 3 1/2 years. A sign of the times then would be the rebuilding of this temple. The Jews have already constructed the furniture (I saw some this summer in Jerusalem) and they have pre-cut, pre-formed walls to move in and set up the temple very quickly once the Muslim Dome of the Rock is removed (or, some other arrangement is made.) The Jews, of course, do not believe the end times will occur as the Christians do, but they are walking in the very steps of prophecy as they plan their own agenda. Many Christians that do not believe in either the rapture, or the tribulation, or even the millennium will say the temple in Revelation is the temple that was destroyed in 70 AD and these prophecies are already fulfilled. This is fine but we still have to work 1 Th. 2:4 and 8 into the equation which seems to put these events right before Jesus' second coming. Some say Jesus "coming" was in 70 AD when the temple of that time was destroyed. I also believe this was the Lord "coming in judgment" but not his second coming where he overthrows the anti-christ.
QUESTION: I think this is a light-hearted question, but another student asked me, "Why did God plan the Millennium." I understand where the Millennium fits into the eschatology, with Christians reigning with Christ, and Satan being bound (?), but I don't have any specific answer to why. To me it’s kind of like asking why God created flies (yes I know they digest waste and feed frogs, etc.), but if you have anything to offer, I'll pass it on.
ANSWER: The reason for the Millennium ties together many loose ends and incomplete parts of scripture and God's plans. First, man was to rule and have dominion. This ended quickly in the Garden. The Seed of the Woman, a man/Messiah, was promised who would crush the kingdom Satan and in Hebrews 2: 5-9 the writer quotes Psalm 8:4-6 where it says that God put everything under man's feet, but yet we do not know or see everything subject to man in our present condition. The writer goes on to say, "But we do see Jesus. . .now crowned with glory and honor." So mankind yet has to experience their fullness on earth, this will only be accomplished through the man Jesus Christ the savior and the king of the whole earth (Zechariah 14:9) Second, God chose Israel to fulfill certain parts of his plan. Many of these purposes and promises have not been fulfilled. They will be in the earthly kingdom of God where Jesus will reign as king. Third, there have been several phases in history where man has had to live and interact with God. The plan and means of salvation has always been the same, but God's way of dealing with man and testing man has been altered. The Millennium is the final phase of God's dealing with man. Mankind will live on the earth under the government and personal rulership of Jesus Christ. The apologetics of the millennium will not be like our apologetics. In our age we often have to try to prove the existence of God, or the deity of Jesus Christ. In the millennium the existence of God and the Lordship of Jesus will not be a hot topic of conversation for very long considering Jesus physically present and will be stationed in Jerusalem where people from all nations will travel to hear his explanations and teaching. Isaiah 2:2-5:
"In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established . . .all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. . .He will teach us his ways'. . . The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations." But, even in this environment multitudes will rebel and reject the Lord and his ways. Thus proving that man's problem is not that he wasn't sure if there was a God. Nor was man's problem his confusion about who God was or if Jesus really was the Lord. These things will all be obvious. Man's problem is his rebellious sin nature that must be recreated or born again. Man's problem is not God but himself. There are other reasons for the importance of the millennium but I have mentioned these three: the successful reign of man on earth, the fulfillment of Israel, and man's final test.
QUESTION: I am familiar with all the scriptures that deal with Church Leadership and being the man of one wife, and I lean toward believing that means that you are only married once and never divorced (to qualify to be a church leader), unless your spouse is deceased then re-marriage would qualify, but I know there are several other interpretations. So please briefly share your beliefs, because the kids' thoughts seemed to be all over the place.
ANSWER: This is one of those questions that I can give 2 or 3 answers for but I have not settled in my heart my convictions. For me it is kind of like women in the ministry or woman being silent in church. I can give an answer but that answer really doesn’t match my convictions or the way I operate. Why is this? I may be ignorant; I may be too liberal; I may be a product of my culture. I may be immature or need my mind renewed to the word of God. Maybe I am in rebellion to God and need to get saved. The same is true when I answer this question. Several years ago I pastored a church and I went to a district meeting with the district pastors. They asked me if I would ever to a wedding ceremony for a couple where one of them had been divorced. I replied that it depended on the circumstances. Why did the person get a divorce? Were they having an affair with the person they now wanted to marry? I’d say no, don’t marry them. Did their husband abandon them with two young children before she was saved? I’d say yes, if the young mother of two has found a responsible believer, marriage would be an answer to prayer. The self-righteous district pastors said “never”. I responded by asking them who officiated all the weddings of the people in our denomination who were remarried divorced people? Easily 1/3 of the congregation I inherited had been remarried after a divorce earlier in life and several were teaching Sunday school. I told them that they could play their little doctrinal game but clearly very few of them were following it. Now, concerning your question: Some scholars say the text could be saying “husband of one wife at a time” or “husband of one wife, ever”. If it means “husband of one wife, ever” are we supposed then start making assumption for the Law of Moses which allowed marriage after the death of a spouse. In that case the concept is “husband of one wife, ever, unless the wife dies” which is basically saying, “husband of one wife at a time.” I do not know the answer to this because I can not settle my convictions. In my mind there are just too many exceptions. Clearly, if a pastor has an affair, he has disqualified himself to lead people and present the truth. But, what about King David? (Two things, he was a king and not a pastor and he was not in the church age, but does that matter?) What about Moses? Zipporah left him or was sent away (Exodus 18:2, “After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah” – “sent away” is a Hebrew verb used later for divorce) and later Miriam got leprosy because she was critical of Moses and his Cushite wife (Num. 12:1). Some say “Cushite” was a term of contept for Zipporah his Midianite wife. It is also possible the Zipporah had died in Midian and Moses was free to marry. But, reading it for what it says, Zipporah left and went back to Midian and Moses had a wife from Cush (from the southern Nile valley.)
QUESTION: What was the actual mode of action for salvation in the Old Testament? We know that ultimately they are atoned by Christ's blood, justified by their faith, and reminded of sins (and maybe somewhat temporarily cleansed) by sacrifice and the law, with their hope in the covenants and the prophecy, but if salvation was by faith, did the Gentiles technically have just as much access to salvation (belief) in the old testament as the Jews? We know about the people of Ninevah, and a few other examples of God interacting with the gentiles in the Old Testament, but this only complicates the question. And assuming that there was eternal security in the Old Testament, how does this coincide with the temporary visitations of the Holy Spirit?
RESPONSE: A quick response to this very good question is that people of all ages (Old and New Testament) are saved the same way: Faith in Jesus Christ. We who live after the cross look back historically to the cross and believe the promise of God. We know historical facts like the name of the Christ, his mode of death, when he lived on the earth, etc. Those who lived before the cross looked forward historically and believed the same promise of God. They may have understood there was the “seed of the woman”, or, the one from the family of Abraham, or, the Son of David, or, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. They did not know his human name, how he would die or the exact date or location of his death but they did know he would be a man, that he would die and that the necessary events would take place according to God’s own promise sometime in the future. In summary, we believe the Christ (“anointed one) came; they believed Messiah (“anointed one”) would come.
In the church age we have Bible teaching. In the age of Israel they had the tabernacle rituals for teaching and the maintenance of truth. We are not saved by Bible teaching but by believing what is presented. They were not saved by sacrifices but by believing what the sacrifices presented or represented.
Yes, God commanded them to offer sacrifices just like God commanded us to teach his word. It is true that many Jews began to trust the rituals as means of salvation. It is also true that the church age is filled with people who believe that going to church puts them in right standing with God. It is painfully true that our nation is filled with people who have spent their whole lives sitting in church pews on Sunday morning but have no idea what they are doing there. Likewise the Jews who spent their entire lives offering up animals to God could live and die with no idea what the sacrifices meant. Many Jews did not understand the rituals. Many people in church do not understand the Bible.
QUESTION: What can you tell me about "Dual Covenant Theology", and about the doctrinal views of John Hagee, TV evangelist and pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX? I have read several opinions online about Dual Covenant Theology, but until I heard John Hagee preaching on TV, I was totally unaware of it. What is your opinion of this man's ministry?
ANSWER: I have always liked John Hagee and read some of his books. I have seen very little of him on TV. His view of "Dual Covenant Theology" is held by others also, but I think it is a corrupt view of the Old Testament covenant and poor interpretation of Paul's writings of the New Testament. I understand dual covenant theology to mean that the Jews are "saved" because they are God's chosen people through Abraham and the covenant from Mt. Sinai but all other people (the Gentiles) must come to God through Jesus and have faith in Christ. This is a completely wrong view of Jewish salvation, I think, with the simplest proof, besides the clear teaching of the New Testament, being that Paul, Peter and John had to place faith in Christ for salvation yet they were Jews. I do not know what Hagee is thinking when he teaches this or how he came to these conclusions (besides misinterpreting scripture) but I am sure he must have some pretty good evidence and also some scripture to prove his point. I have not really sat down to study it or to try to disprove it because I think it is so clearly off base.