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How could they get it so wrong?

by Robert Randle  
1/28/2011 / Devotionals

One of the most fascinating studies in the Bible is pertaining to the Latter Times and End of Days. There are those who thought the world would end during the First Century A.D., only to be followed by the year 1000 A.D., then in 1843 by William Miller, and subsequently the Y2K Millennium worldwide computer virus scare amid gloom and doom. Now, according to the Mayan Calendar, the world is going to end in 2012. Adding to that is that, there will be 70 Jubilee celebrations before the LORD Jesus returns, making the time around the year 2017. The thing is, even those who received the Holy Spirit in a measure that those in modern times have not experienced did not have the same understanding on not just the time, but rather the circumstances in which the LORD would return; as most, if not all of them, expected His return in their lifetime or the next generation, at the very most. In the following below are some of the prerequisites, in the chronological order in which the narratives are dated or written, where the narrator or source believed the event would happen, and under what circumstances. Although the LORD Jesus Himself said that only the Father knows the time of the End, yet He seems to have pointed to a time that was closer to His own for the culmination of all things.

1 Thessalonians 4: 13-17
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus [Yeshua] died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the LORD, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the LORD will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ [Moshiach] will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And thus we shall always be with the LORD.

NOTE: The apostle Paul clearly seems to be looking for the LORD Jesus to return in his lifetime because of the inclusive use of "we." This appears to happen when death is finally destroyed (Cp. Revelation 20: 14).

2 Thessalonians 1: 1, 3-4, 6-10
Now, brethren, concerning the coming [advent] of our LORD Jesus Christ[Yeshua Moshiach] and our gathering together to Him. . . Let no one deceive you by any means, for the Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself to be God. And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time [dispensation??]. For the "mystery of lawlessness" is already at work; only the one who now restrains will do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene (NAB). And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the LORD will render powerless [consume] by the manifestation of His coming [brightness of His coming] (NAB). The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with mighty deeds, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be save.

COMMENTARY: There is quite a bit in Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, including some new theology, in a manner of speaking. Before getting to that, the term "son of perdition' is only applied to one other person in the entire Bible, namely Judas Iscariot (Cp. John 17: 12), where it says the Scripture is fulfilled; except there is no Scripture [in the Old Testament] referring to such a person. Also, the theme in First Thessalonians seems to revolve around persecution or suffering (Cp. 1 Thessalonians 1: 14; 3: 4) as the precursor to the LORD'S return (Cp. 1 Thessalonians 2: 19; 3: 13b; 5: 4, 23), and 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10 continues with the same theme, too. Now the emphasis in the latter book shifts to, it seems, a remote time in the near future when a wicked and satanically-empowered person profanes the Jewish Temple by enthroning himself there only to be finally destroyed by the LORD'S advent. This accords well with Daniel 9: 26b-27 and 11: 29-37 because these passages can find fulfillment in a past historical event or in one that is yet unfilled.

1 Corinthians 15: 51-52
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead [in the LORD Jesus] shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

2 Timothy 2: 17-18
And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaus and Philetus are of this sort, who has strayed from the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

NOTE: There were some who began to doubt that the resurrection from the dead was going to ever take place as they had been taught and believed, were now beginning to have some serious doubts that it was true.

2 Peter 3: 3a-4, 8
Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in these last days . . . saying, "Where is the promise [signs] of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation?" But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the LORD one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.

NOTE: Peter's epistle was written or dated around Paul's epistle to Timothy and again, there were some who had began to lose hope in the LORD'S appearance in their lifetime and everything associated with this glorious event and began to be scornful and mock the teachings and belief of others.

2 Peter 3: 10-13
But the day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

NOTE: Perhaps Peter had Isaiah 34: 4 in mind as the "End" will be accompanied by a deafening noise [explosion??] and everything will suddenly be burning with the heat of cosmic [supernatural] fire intense enough to melt the very atomic elements that give substance to matter. This very terrible picture is again contrasted with a different image in the First letter where trials and suffering is an example of what Jesus went through and serves as an example of faith until He returns (Cp. 1 Peter 1: 6-7; 3: 13-14; 4; 12-13).

Matthew 24: 34, 42, 44.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all these things take place (Cp. Matthew 24: 3-31, 36-44; 25: 31-46). Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your LORD is coming. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Luke 21: 28, 31-32
Now when you see these things begin to happen, look up and lift your heads, because your redemption draws near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom [government] of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away until all things take place (Cp. 21: 7-33).

NOTE: A generation could be as many as 100 years (Cp. Genesis 15: 13, 16), so taking this in to account, and Jesus being between 30 something and under fifty years of age, the time period for all the tribulation, wars, false messiahs, and end of the world could include up to the final Jewish revolt led by Shimon Bar Kochba, whom was seen by many Jews as their messiah, which was ultimately crushed by the Romans in 135BC.

1 John 1: 18
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist [false Messiah] is coming, even now many antichrists [false messiahs] have come, by which we know it is the last hour. They [the antichrists or false messiahs] went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out [from us] that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus [Yeshua] is the Christ [Moshiach]?" He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.

NOTE: At this writing the Temple had been destroyed for twenty years, and doubtless, this was a national catastrophe and caused a significant effect on the psyche of the Jewish people, probably even more so among those who believed Jesus was the Messiah. What is quite revealing in this epistle is that the appearance of not only an Antichrist, but numerous antichrists who appear on the scene before the Last Day. These false messiahs were not just former believers, but came from the group which the writer belonged, perhaps one of the initial founders of the faith, including, even some of the Apostles themselves (Cp. Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20; Acts 1: 12-17, 21-25). The false messiahs is interesting because there were some contemporary revolutionaries or deliverers who rose up among the Jewish people, such as Theudas and Judas of Galilee (Cp. Acts 5: 34-38). Even the apostle Paul was thought to be some kind of a insurrectionist or having a messiah complex (Cp. Acts 4: 26-39). Jesus warned there would be false christ's among the people which serve as one of the many signs before His imminent return (Cp. Matthew 24: 23, 26; Luke 21: 8).

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
January 28, 2011

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