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Copyright Michael J. Sullivan 2008-2009 The idea and plot for this movie is Michael J. Sullivan’s of which he would expect fair and honest compensation for the use thereof.
Dear Mr. Ron Howard, Tom Hanks & Nicholas Cage, May 17, 2009 (revised 6/1/09)
Ron, I watched your movie “Angels & Demons” the other night and would like to present to you some ideas for a plot and theme for a third movie that would be a fitting conclusion to your series. I am also suggesting a merger with Hank’s character with that of Nicholas Cage’s from the “National Treasure” series which will tap into some more of the children’s audience.
This movie is based in the factual and growing concern of our citizens electing a Presidential candidate that has an ear to radical Evangelical Pastors and TV Evangelists and their bad theology. We saw this in our last election with Republicans being concerned with Obama and his associations with the radical socialist and black libiterian theology of Jeremiah Wright. And from the other side, liberals (and some conservatives of which I am), fired back with, “What about McCain’s association with the Christian Zionist TV Evangelist John Hagee and Sara Palin’s charismatic Zionist belief system?” Democrats and left extremists have also had concerns that our motives in the Middle East are more bore out of greed for oil than democracy. CNN didn’t want to discuss Obama’s problems with Wright as much as conservatives wanted, and FOX virtually ignored the bad theology and associations with Hagee and Palin’s bad Zionist Middle East views. This movie addresses the later scenario.
There are several factors that made your two movies a success, but the chief being that it stirred up…
In the Da Vinci Code you (indirectly) challenged the deity of Christ. This created a buzz in the media and offered free advertising for your movie. The criticism from Christian viewers, was that the movie was based on bad theology and bad history and left a question up in the air that shouldn’t have been. My plot and theme offers a solution to this. It will: a). give you the “controversy” that is needed for a good film, b). be grounded in good and accurate theology and history, and c). defend the deity of Christ. This will solve all the previous problems.
I want to now go over (as briefly as possible) a historically and theologically accurate conflict/controversy that challenges the modern Evangelical and Roman Catholic tradition, while at the same time defends the deity of Christ and serves as the foundation to the movie.
The Preterist View of Bible Prophecy
In short, the preterist view of Bible prophecy teaches that most or all of the prophecies concerning the Second Coming, Judgment, and Resurrection, were fulfilled in Jesus’ “this generation” and thus “shortly” from the time John wrote the book of Revelation (Matt. 24:27-34; Rev. 1:1, 3:11, 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20). Jesus inseparably connects His return with the coming of the Roman armies which would surround and desolate the temple and city (Luke 21:20-32). This historically took place in the events surrounding the war between the Jews and Rome between AD 66-70. The reason many have missed this, is because most have literalized apocalyptic language such as God coming on the clouds, stars falling from the heavens, moon turning to blood, etc. The inspired NT authors correctly understood Jesus’ teaching (cf. also Matt. 10:22-23, Matt. 16:27-28) and likewise taught that Jesus would return in their generation and thus in an imminent time frame (Acts 2:40; Romans 13:11-12, 16:20; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 4:5-7, 17- to list just a few examples). For a more detailed exposition of these texts and defense of the preterist view against its critics, please see my co-authored book, HOUSE DIVIDED: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?
Because the Church has historically literalized language it shouldn’t have in Matthew 24 and in the book of Revelation, and ignored what “this generation” and “shortly” mean, it continues to promote a myth that Jesus is still coming someday in our future, when in fact neither Jesus nor the writers of the NT teach this. Charismatic and Dispensational Zionists such as Hal Lindsey and John Hagee have sought to persuade the professing and Christian public along with U.S. politicians, that Jesus indeed is coming in our generation and therefore we need to support Israel. They contend that a war with Iraq “Babylon” is inevitable and that this war is the fulfillment of prophecies such as can be found in (Ezek. 38-39 & in the book of Revelation). But do these texts really teach this?
Herein lies the controversy/conflict of the movie (both in and outside of it). Now let’s move on to the plot, theme, and characters of the movie itself.
Let me first begin with the “bad guys” or villains.
The Villains and Their Influence
T.V. Evangelist and Prophet: The main villain is a Charismatic or Pentecostal worldwide TV “Evangelist” that convinces his world wide audience that he has received a vision whereby he claims that Jesus is going to return in our generation and that Armageddon is imminent. Because of the Charismatic influence within the Roman Catholic Church with some ecumenical ties to Protestant Charismatics, the Roman Catholic Church and even the Pope get sucked into thinking this is truly a divine revelation for our day. This TV “Evangelist” also has close ties to the US President and convinces him that a US war with Russia and Iraq is in our best interest. He convinces the President that God himself has mandated him to act. He seeks to do this by explaining that the name of the leader of Iraq comes out to 666 and that he is the beast of Revelation that must be stopped.
Politicians and Oil Companies: The second side to the villain in this movie are greedy oil companies and politicians who do not necessarily agree with this prophetic revelation, but see how they can use it to begin a war with Iraq and control the world’s oil reserves.
Tom Hank’s character: Has already been skeptical of the church and senses a problem as he watches the news. Like in the previous movie “Angels & Demons” Hank’s character can’t shake the feeling that God may be using Him (as previously suggested by a RC Bishop in A&D) to get involved and is sovereignly granting him the gift of faith and is revealing a call that has been placed upon his life before he was ever even born (Ephs. 1; 2:8-10; Romans 9:10-23; cf. Cyrus Isa. 44-45). Hank’s roles in this series and in other movies as a “hit-man” (characters name being Mike Sullivan – nice name bty) results with Hank’s character being an unknown hit man for God resulting in world peace in the Middle East. Instead of “Harvey’s War,” Hank’s character is used for establishing peace through theological and historical education to Protestants, Jews, and Palestinians/Muslims.
He is led to a group of preterist theologians who explain from the Scriptures that Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation was written in symbolic language and that these religious fanatics are twisting the scriptures, which if not corrected will evolve into a self fulfilling prophetic situation resulting in a nuclear war in the Middle East. They also point out that prophecies that the Zionists and the RCC church are using to support a war with Russia and Iraq based on Ezekiel 38-39 and the book of Revelation have nothing to do with these modern day countries but rather Haman’s opposition to the Jews in the book of Ester as the “Gogite” and was the “prince-in-chief” of a multi-national force that headed up 127 provinces (with the authority of king Ahasuerus backing him) in order to wipe out the Jews. God delivered the Jews from their enemies and turned Haman’s plot against himself. ANCIENT Israel was indeed delivered from this historic and great battle and plot from their enemies and it is referenced in the book of Revelation as an historical anti-type fulfillment to depict God rescuing Christians from Rome’s wrath which will be poured out upon apostate Jerusalem in the years AD 66-70 in the place which in Hebrew is called “Armageddon” (Luke 21:20-32; Revelation 12; 16; 19). The Romans armies were made up of the “nations” of the known world at that time that surrounded and desolated Jerusalem in AD 70. See the book by Gary DeMar, IDENTIFYING THE GOG-MAGOG ALLIANCE WHY THE END OF THE WORLD IS NOT IN YOUR FUTURE (American Vision Publishing,2008).
Hank’s character begins to appreciate the REAL accuracy of Biblical prophecy which corresponds nicely with his educational background in the studies of history and symbolic non-literal apocalyptic literature. He senses the urgency to tell the President of his findings. But getting to the President will not be easy. There are religious fanatics and greedy politicians standing in his way. This involves most of the “action” aspect of the movie. But in the end he (with Cage’s character) reaches the President in time to stop a nuclear war.
Preterist Theologian and Historian: Liam Neeson also stars in this movie as a hero. He can play a leading preterist theologian/debator that Hank ‘s character is led to and eventually becomes Hank’s right hand man. I don’t know if Mr. Neeson is a Christian or not, but I would like to see him back in the saddle after his wife’s death (Job 2:10) and producing movies that will actually make a difference in the real world. Neeson’s character has a sister who is also a theological and historical academic professor and who aids in the necessary education of Hank’s character. This relationship will eventually lead to Hank’s character becoming converted to Christianity and will be the woman he marries (got to throw in some romance).
Who after watching the new conclusion to “The Incredible Hulk” didn’t get excited! In that movie Marvel fans were excited to see that Iron man was forming a “team” – the Avengers. Shoot I’m 41 and I was excited (but shhh… don’t tell my kids). I am suggesting a merger between the Howard/Hanks series and the Turteltaub/Cage “Nation Treasure” series.
Nicolas Cage: Has played characters that deal with a knowledge of symbols and numerology. Cage’s charater is also led to preterist theologians who teach him that Nero was the beast of Revelation and that John was using a common practice in his day called a cryptogram to describe Nero’s persecution of the Church in the book of Revelation. Cage’s character soon learns that Neor’s name came out to 666 and that he was the sixth king that was in existence during the time John was writing the book of Revelation. (see Kenneth Gentry’s book, The Beast of Revelation).
Cage’s character discovers that the ultimate “National Treasure” of the gold and jems of the New Jerusalem (cf. Rev. 21:15ff.) that the Puritans and our founding founders put their hope in has not been delayed, but is actually a hope that has been realized (Prov. 13:12). God’s people who through faith in Christ have a purged conscience from their sin are the Kingdom of God or the New Jerusalem that came down from heaven to earth and now resides “within” (Lk. 17:20-21). As Ridley Scott tried to portray in his movie, “The Kingdom of Heaven” – The New Jerusalem/Kingdom of Heaven, is a “Kingdom of Conscience” that resides in the heart and mind of man. Although Cage’s character has become wealthy, a void has taken place in his life and a realization that he cannot take his material wealth with him (cf. the book of Ecclesiastes 6:1-2; Luke 12:15-21). He too converts to Christ at the end of the movie.
Again, the exposing of the modern day mythical eschatological expectations of the Second Coming in our day, and yet the antithesis of both of these characters coming to Christ and holding to the deity of Christ, creates all kinds of conflict/controversy within the Holywood and Evangelical worldviews. No one is going to know what to think – is this a skepical liberal movie written from Holywood, or a right wing conservative Christian movie? But in the end, all will love the conclusion and healthy dialog and debate the movie will generate – religion, politics, foreign policy, etc… If this movie is well written and directed, it will generate controversy on and off the set which provides a movie which will stand the test of time.
I am suggesting that just as the two villans progressively merge together in the movie (TV Evangelist & Politicians/oil companies) to form a resistence, that Hank and Cage’s characters progressively merge in the movie to stop a Middle East nuclear war.
Hank’s and Cage’s characters along with preterist theologians (Neeson’s character) form a debate team that reach out to Rabbinical Jews and Moslim theologians to educate them (along with the Evangelical church in the U.S.), that peace and the Abrahamic covenant does not reside “in the [sacred land] land” and in literal “holy sites,” but rather resides in a person – “In Christ.” The issue being having a purged heart and conscience from the bondage of sin. In spite of death threats from all of these radical religious views, and greedy politicians and oil companies, the debate team answer their calling from God and engage in national and worldwide televised debates which eventually leads to peace in the Middle East. Everyone realizes that peace in the Middle East will not be ultimately won by military battles. This is a theological battle for the hearts and minds of men. Christ turned the world of the Roman Empire “upside down,” and continues to do so today. The power of debate cannot be underestimated, and if I’m not mistaken, will be depicted with Denzel Washington’s movie “Out of Time.” We take that power of debate, suspense, knowledge of history and theology to a high and practical level in this movie.
Evangelicals, the RCC, and various Rabbinical Jews will of course come out before the movie makes its debut claiming that the movie depicting Christ’s return in AD 70 is “heretical” and allegedly “anti-Semitic.” And many conservative polititians (of which I am as well), will accuse the movie as having a “liberal” agenda. The movies conclusion will stun and silence most of these objections.
The “controversy” only serves as free advertising as in your previous movies and in Gibson’s “The Passion.” The movie actually concludes the trilogy with Hank’s character being converted to Christianity and that Jesus is indeed God (while the previous two movies left this question up in the air). This appeals to the Christian audience and is a realistic conclusion and outcome to your previous two movies.
If done correctly, this movie will make more money than your previous two movies in this series combined! It will also result in REAL LIFE peace in the Middle East and educate Christians on the reliability of the Word of God and inform them to stop listening to those who are bent on turning Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation into a science fiction novel for our generation.
As in my letter to Ridley Scott, my only request is to have a small part in the movie. I would love to head up a preterist board that would work closely with you two and the writers. In the real world, I would also like to help bring together preterist debaters/Evangelists to take into the Middle East when the time is right. Such a movie might open such doors. I am not asking to become a millionaire, but if I could just earn some money to support the raising of my children and sustain the writing of preterist books – that would be great. I have no desire to get in your way. You men do what you do best, and let me form a preterist advisory team to work with the writers and we will do what we do best. Please honor my idea for this movie and pay me a modest amount for the plot and theme.
Thank you for your time.
PS – Through God’s good providence if the reader may know Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, or Nicolas Cage, please print and give this and the following letters and articles to them.
A.D. 70 MOVIE AND OPEN LETTER TO:
MR. RIDLEY SCOTT AND WILLIAM MONAHAN
BY: MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN 9/16/08
Copyright 2008-2009 Please honor plot and themes suggested by Michael J. Sullivan
Dear Mr. Scott and Mr. Monahan, ,
After watching your movie The Kingdom of Heaven in 2005 it became clear to me at that time that you had a better grasp of where and what the land and city of “Jerusalem” is than about 95% of Evangelicals do. Post A.D. 70 it resides in the heart and mind and is a new-covenant “kingdom of conscience.” I think you two have a passion to see peace in the Middle East between the Muslim world, Christians and Israel when it comes to understanding what and where Jerusalem is. As a truly conservative Christian and Preterist theologian, I share that same passion. I would enjoy working on a movie with you that I believe will greatly aid in this endeavor. Let me share with you my thoughts for a movie and why it will be a theological and financial success while at the same time bring peace and healing to these regions of the world.
Jesus identifies His second coming and reception of His kingdom “within” the heart and conscience of His people (along with the arrival of the heavenly Jerusalem to earth) within a “soon” “at hand” “near” and “shortly” time period–when the Roman armies surround Jerusalem (ie. by A.D. 70) Matthew 10:22-23; Matthew 16:27-28; Luke 17:20-21ff./Luke 21:20-32; Revelation 1:1 – 22:6-7, 10-12, 20. Jesus and the NT authors make it abundantly clear that the Church is the Temple/New Jerusalem/New Creation predicted by the prophets (cf. Isaiah 65-66/2Corinthians 5:17; Ezekiel 37:27/2Corinthians 5-6:16. The core and fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant has nothing to do with the literal land of Jerusalem but rather a “heavenly country” that was “about to be” received in A.D. 70 with Christ’s return judging the old-covenant Jerusalem (cf. Hebrews 10:25, 37; 11:14-16; 13:14YLT – “for we are looking for a city that is about to come”).
The Financial Success of the Movie
Controversy, Free Advertising and a Christian Market
We of course know why movies like The Passion and The Divinci Code were financially successful. They stirred up controversy such as the crucifixion of Jesus being allegedly “anti-Semitic.” Well, according to Jesus and the Apostle Peter, the covenantal responsibility for the crucifixion lay at the feet of the first century Jews and it would be their generation that would witness the judgment and wrath of Christ’s return for crucifying Him and His first century prophets (through the means of the Roman armies – cf. Isaiah 2:19-21/Luke 23:30/Revelation 6:10-11, 15; Matthew 23:29-38 – Matthew 24:27-34; Matthew 26:63-64; Acts 2:14-40/Deuteronomy 32:5, 43; Acts 3:14-23). My rebuttal to the claims that this movie would be anti-Semitic are: 1) There is nothing “anti-Semitic” about making a movie that is both theologically and historically accurate. 2) However, it is the current beliefs of Dispensational Evangelicals that are “anti-Semitic” to Jews today, with their attempts to get Jews to return to Israel in order to speed up the Great Tribulation and the “Holy Battle” of Armageddon, in which allegedly many Jews will perish.
The Da Vinci Code was controversial because of its lack of integrity of history and Biblical theology. Christians were offended because the movie challenged the deity of Christ. Our movie does not challenge the deity of Christ, but upholds it, for only God came on the clouds of heaven in the OT and this is why the High Priest claimed Jesus was guilty of “blasphemy” (cf. Matthew 26:63-65). Jewish debaters and Islamic debaters along with liberal theologians, have sought to discredit the claims of Christ and the integrity of the NT by claiming Jesus couldn’t have been God because he did not return in the lifetime and generation of the first century as he claimed he would. Therefore, he was just a fallible man with some good moral teachings. The NT and historical record does not support this conclusion. Our movie will educate Christians not only on where and when the New Jerusalem is (“within”), but it will also give them another apologetic for the deity of Christ. The Christian market is very large and we want to see Biblically based movies that are high quality and uphold the teachings of the Bible. This movie will tap into that market along with the traditional Hollywood movie goers. Over time, this movie will be the most financially successful and will stand the test of time reaching a worldwide audience.
The Characters and Actors
The Main Characters: A Christian gladiator, the Apostle John, Nero, Titus, Vespasian, Josephus, John Levi, Ananus (the High Priest).
This is a fictitious and symbolic character that is simply announced to the blood thirsty gladiator arenas as “Christian” (cf. Pilgrim’s Progress). He is a Roman soldier who marries a Jewish woman in Jerusalem. He is taken from his family to fight in the arenas. In the end he is re-united to his family just before the Romans surround Jerusalem.
Many Christians were martyred between the years of A.D. 62-66 at the hands of the Jews and by the Romans in the arenas. However, it should be noted that Christianity does not translate into pacifist theology. When Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” when struck and insulted in Matthew 5:39, the Greek word here for strike is rhapizo and simply means to be slapped with the palm – it is not a punch. Christians are expected to fight in order to defend themselves and their families (cf. Luke 22:36). Christ’s death and many martyred Christians did not always involve the time to pick up the sword because it was God’s plan that through their blood His judgment would come upon Jerusalem (ex. John 18:10-11; Matthew 23:29-38).
The true victory and how the early church “turned the [Roman] world upside down,” were through the sword of the Spirit or the preaching of the gospel. This was accompanied with the miraculous aid of the Holy Spirit performing miracles (cf. the book of Acts). Since the miraculous gifts were present for the church until Christ returned in A.D. 70 to bring an end to the old-covenant age (cf. Acts 2:16-20; 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Mark 16:16-18/Matthew 28:18-20); and apart of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the OT entailed a supernatural strength and ability to fight and slay larger and numerous opponents along with wild beasts (ex. Sampson and King David) – there will be a Christian gladiator who is put into the Roman areas who conquers man and beast. He is the exception to the rule. God has put His Spirit upon him uniquely to send a message to the Jewish and Roman “beasts” that are responsible for killing so many of the Christians. This brings another element of action and special affects to the movie.
Since the political leaders of Rome have a fascination for the miraculous (cf. Luke 9:7-9) and blood in the arenas, “Christian’s” witness in this environment plays a key role. At first the Roman Empire throws their best and strongest warriors at him. Some are even indwelt and empowered with supernatural strength through demonic activity (cf. Luke 8:29-30). They hurl insults at him and try and bring doubt and despair to his soul in the midst of battle (cf. the character “Giant Despair” in Pilgrims Progress).
After the end of each battle Christian briefly preaches and witnesses to the Roman blood thirsty crowds. He reiterates Jesus’ declaration that judgment is coming upon Jerusalem and that Rome will be an instrument to this because Jerusalem had killed His Son and the prophets He has sent to them. He states that just as Rome is using him for entertainment, God will use Rome to accomplish His means as an instrument of judgment against Jerusalem. And just as he is a prisoner to Rome, he is a sign that they are in actuality the real slaves - to their sin (cf. John 8:32-36) and that faith in Christ is what brings victory over the world. He exclaims God alone is the one in control (cf. Daniel 4:34-35) and not Nero or the Roman gods. He also predicts that the Roman Jewish war will severely weaken Rome (which historically is accurate) which will eventually lead to its downfall. Everyone knows that Christian has the power to escape, but God had told him in a dream that this was his calling and witness to Rome.
Christian prays consistently to know from God if He will ever let him go so that he can be reunited to his family back in Jerusalem, but God remains silent.
Because no man can defeat Christian, Rome eventually sends wild beasts filled with demonic powers (ex. Luke 8:30-33) to destroy him. He and a demonically filled villain are thrown in the area together with these wild beasts for one grand finale. Christian had been witnessing to this man for many years in prison and does so one last time in the arena. In the midst of battle this villain bows before the Lordship of Jesus. As wild beast is about to kill him Christian dies saving his life (cf. 1 John 3:16).
A day before, a Christian is told in a dream that this fate will befall Christian and is told where his body will be (ex. Acts 9:10-19). He is told to lay his hands on him and God will raise him from the dead. Christian now journeys to Jerusalem where he is united to His family just in time to witness the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. He exhorts the Christians to flee to Pella for safety as Jesus had warned them (cf. Matthew 24:16-18).
There will be breaks from Christian’s role from time to time as the other characters are introduced leading up to the war. They play major roles in the second half of the movie:
Plays a major role. In Revelation Nero is most likely the 6th King or the one that John says “now is” in Revelation 17:10. Tradition tells us that he was responsible for killing the Apostle Paul and blaming the Christians for the fires in Rome. The land beast in Revelation that persecutes the Church is the apostate Jews and the sea beast is the Roman Empire which joined in this persecution. Nero’s wife was Jewish and since there were Jews sent from Jerusalem to sentence Paul to death, they could have planted a bug in Nero’s ear to blame the Christians for the fires in Rome.
The Apostle John
The Apostle John wrote of the fact that Jesus’ kingdom was in the spiritual realm and so a “flash back” of (cf. John 3-6; 18:36) should be made. Both the internal evidence of Revelation and Church tradition validates that the book of Revelation was written prior to A.D. 70 and so a segment depicting John being banished to the Island of Patmos by Rome and beginning to write Revelation in the early or mid A.D. 60’s should probably be depicted.
These men play major roles in the war along with various leaders of the three Jewish factions and the struggle that took place within Jerusalem for 3 ½ years for control of the city and temple such as:
John Levi of Gischala
One of the leaders of the Jewish revolt against Rome whom some considered a possible candidate for the “Man of Sin” in Thessalonians along with Nero.
Ananus (the High Priest)
Various Zealots and Idumean warriors
Is a Jewish defector and historian for the Roman Army who documented and witnessed this war for us. He documents the sightings of angelic beings in the clouds during the war. This is another element of action and special affects in the movie.
The Actors: I believe the following actors serve as a good foundation – Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Liam Neeson and Randy Couture for starters.
Objection: “How are we going to have a budget to pay these kind of actors?” Usually, when Hollywood sees a bigger picture and cause at work, they are able to somewhat humble themselves and arise to meet the challenge. Peace in the Middle East for Evangelical, Jewish and Islamic eschatology is probably the greatest cause our generation faces today. Also the exposing of the current day Hal Lindsey John Hagee “prophecy experts” agenda through giving a Biblical portrayal of the Second Coming is also very important in order to validate the credibility of the gospel which will begin making its way into Iraq and Israel over the next 10-30 years. Also keep in mind that if written and produced well, this movie should generate the kind of money to pay these men many times over. It is also “redemption” time for some of these actors. Let me explain.
Mel Gibson – in The Passion cut out the line of Jesus in (Luke 23:26-31) for fear of offending modern Jews. He also did not quote Jesus’ words of Him being the “I am” and the Roman soldiers falling back in John 18:5-6 (cf. John 8:58/Exodus 3:14). This is an opportunity for Mr. Gibson to redeem himself and correct some of what I believe to be some bad theology on his part springing from the fear of men. This movie is a strong declaration of the deity of Christ and can serve as a fitting sequel to The Passion. Therefore, Gibson should consider it an “honor” to be apart of it.
I enjoyed Gibson’s movies Brave Heart and Conspiracy Theory. Everyone is interested in investigating controversial conspiracy theories. No one likes to find out that what they had been taught all there life is false. Christians and non-Christians will be drawn to the controversy of this movie and will delve into a study of Bible prophecy to see if they have been incorrectly educated by the church concerning the second coming. Have these prophetic events been fulfilled during the Roman Jewish War in A.D. 66-70 or not?
Tom Hanks – It will also be redemption time for Mr. Tom Hank’s character in The Divinci Code. His character didn’t know if Jesus was God and divine or not. In this movie of NT and historical accuracy, it will not leave the audiences or Tom Hank’s character (or Tom in real life?) guessing.
Liam Neeson – enjoys giving documentaries of the Christians during this time frame (ex – The History Channel) and in the past he caught on to your vision of Jerusalem being in the heart and mind in The Kingdom of Heaven. So he is also a good candidate.
Randy Couture – I realize Randy might be an odd pick here in the midst of these seasoned actors. But let me briefly explain. I participate in mixed martial arts training and have followed Randy’s success in the early days of the UFC up until now. The UFC and the world of mixed martial arts continue to be a trend that is exploding in the U.S. and around the world. Randy’s success should be attributed to the natural gifts God has given him and the humble spirit in which he conducts himself as champion. God resists the proud (ex – Tito Ortiz) and gives grace and opens doors to the humble. He is recognized as a modern day real life “gladiator.” He has played in the Scorpion King II and Red Belt. I believe this is a role for Randy and he will take the acting challenge seriously. It is my feeling that he would consider it an honor to act along side these men and they would enjoy training Randy in their trades as accomplished actors. Randy should also participate in helping with the fight scenes (ex. Roman wrestling submissions / realistic fight scenes). I’m not sure Randy is at the level of taking the role of the Christian gladiator role, but he could play the villain who ends of bowing in submission to Christ.
For this movie I am suggesting that the writers, producers, and the actors are required to read: The NT, Josephus, Pilgrims Progress, and various preterist articles and books.
When someone first comes to the Preterist view of Bible prophecy he has a strong desire to do 2 things: 1) write a book and 2) see Hollywood produce a movie depicting the second coming of Jesus during the years of AD 66-70. I have finished writing my first book which has been co-authored by David Green and Ed Hassertt entitled, HOUSE DIVIDED: BRIDGING THE GAP IN REFORMED ESCHATOLOGY. This book will be published within a few months from now. From the movie side, although this has been kicking around in my head for well over 15 years, I understand John Noe has written a manuscript and sent it to Hollywood. But like I said, I have had this idea for a movie many years ago (not with these exact actors in mind) before learning of Noe’s manuscript. Over the years after seeing Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, my desires for this project became all the stronger. My article critiquing Dispensational Zionism and a Conservative Peace Proposal For the Middle East on my web site, pretty much pushed me over into writing you. I am not sure if a idea for a movie of an historical event can be copyrighted, but I want to assure you and Mr. Noe that what I have outlined above came from my own meditations long before knowing of Noe submitting a manuscript.
Also, I have one small request. I am a single Father raising three children at home pretty much by my self on a waiter’s income. I have been repeatedly told weekly by the thousands of customers I work with over 10 years now, that I look like Liam Neeson. I have joked with my customers telling them that I will give them an autograph later or that, “you know I need to figure out how to make some money off of that someday.” But the facts are, that I am very athletic in good shape and a quick student. If I could play some extremely small role in the movie (perhaps related to Liam), or serve on or head up a theological board for the movie – I would greatly appreciate it. I’m not looking to become a millionaire, I just want to challenge and push myself and make enough money that I can continue raising my children and write.
Thank you so much for your time and please circulate this letter to the above actors to see if they see the overall goal of defending the deity of Christ, achieving a real peace in the Middle East, exposing the false views of Evangelical Dispensational Zionism and their influence upon our politicians all the while developing a high quality movie that will stand the test of time and will gross more money worldwide than any other.
Michael J. Sullivan
51 Harding Lane
Cherokee, NC 28719
Hm. (828) 497-9594
Cell (828) 507-5263
Dear Senator McCain,
As a Christian citizen I wanted to write you a letter voicing my concern over your friendship and association with John Hagee and the Dispensational Zionist movement. As you know you and most Americans were very concerned over Senator Obama’s association with Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s theology in connection with his socialist “change” agenda. Well, I am concerned with politian’s who associate with or have an ear to bad theology and theologians. John Hagee is a classic example of a man who has terrible theology which affects Americans and causes the Church in America to be viewed negatively in the rest of the world. My point of concern in drafting this letter is Hagee’s bad eschatology (study of Bible prophecy) which has and can influence our foreign policy in the Middle East in a negative way while at the same time conditioning Americans that – and I quote, “WORLD WAR III HAS BEGUN” (back cover of his book JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN).
Unfortunately Hagee and a lot of Evangelicals believe that 1948 was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and that our generation which has witnessed this “super sign” is the terminal generation mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:34 and therefore will witness the “rapture” of the Church before the Great Tribulation and battle of Armageddon begins. This brand of eschatology conditions the church to want to bring conflict into the Middle East in hopes of hastening their “rapture” off of planet earth – so the theory goes. It also conditions the church that the world is just going to get worse and worse while adopting a defeatist mentality, “Well, you don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” Here is my fourfold plan to reverse this theological problem in the U.S. and establish peace in the Middle East. This plan entails an educational agenda given through public debate and the development of a high quality and action pack film that can be viewed globally.
First, it is important to demonstrate that the prophetic material Hagee claims is “near” and future to us was genuinely “near” and fulfilled to the first century church. This fulfillment was reached when Christ returned through the instrumentality of the Roman armies which surrounded and desolated Jerusalem and the temple in the years A.D. 66-70 (cf. Luke 21:20-32; 1 Peter 1:10-12, 4:7; James 5:7-9; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Revelation 1:1; 22:6-7, 10-12, 20).
Secondly, the focus of NT prophecy is to be gathered “In Christ” and is not fulfilled by national Israel being gathered “in the [sacred] land.” As long as Evangelicals, Israel and Islamic eschatological views see redemption and salvation as being “in the [sacred] land” mixed with an end time “holy war,” true peace will not come to the region. The true battle and “holy war” is theological in nature and addresses that only the true and Living God can give true and lasting inward peace reconciling the sinner to a holy and just God. I will establish a preterist debate team that will challenge the Hagee, LaHaye and the Hal Lindsey crowd and defeat them. Then this debate team will take on the Middle East and their false gods. This will lay the ground work for missionaries to come in and continue preaching the gospel to this region of the world that desparately needs it. However, we need to first begin in exposing the Dispensational Zionist agenda. Thus far the only thing these men are good at are “ducking” us in public debate and constantly “revising” their failed predictions with more contemporary newspaper eschatology. I would appreciate it if you encouraged your friend to step into the ring in order to “give an answer” and “defense” of his views.
Thirdly, a production of a high quality film depicting the events of A.D. 66-70 which educates the Christian and general public that this was the time period of which the return of Jesus took place and that the “land” and “kingdom” promises were realized in the heavenly realm or a time in which a “heavenly country” came “within” the hearts of the Church (cf. Luke 17:20-21/Luke 21:31-32; Hebrews 11:15-16; 10:25, 37; 13:14YLT; John 14:2-3, 23). I am in the process of contacting writers and producers of such films as the Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven, William Mohahan and Ridley Scott to produce such a film. This film will stir up more constructive debate over these issues which will produce healthy results.
And lastly, after the U.S. Church has been educated in this area and what the sovereign and free grace of God is, it will then be equipped to preach a gospel in the Middle East that is focused on being “in Christ” and not “in the [sacred] land.” After the gospel penetrates these cultures, the rest of the social and economic transformations that the West wants to see take place will occur.
I was hoping you could briefly write me and tell me what your particular eschatological beliefs are and if they are associated with the Dispensational Zionist movement of John Hagee. Following this letter is a more detailed article explaining my concern over the false views of John Hagee and the Dispensational Zionist movement in general. Thank you for your time.
Michael J. Sullivan
THE CHARISMATIC DISPENSATIONAL ZIONIST MOVEMENT
THE MACCAIN PALIN TICKET
A BIBLICAL AND CONSERVATIVE PEACE PROPOSAL FOR THE MDDLE EAST
BY: MICHAEL J. SULLIVAN
From the outset let me state that I am writing this article from a Christian worldview and that I am a registered Republican. Having said this, I need to point out that as Christians we are called to pray for our leaders salvation and that they and the leaders of the church, should continue in sound doctrine so that we can live peaceful lives knowing that God holds accountable those He puts in places of authority 1 Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:1-6; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 3:1. Recently within this presidential campaign, the liberal media has tried to make an issue of Senator McCain’s friendship and associations with Dispensational Zionist teacher John Hagee. McCain having lost to now President Bush for his lack of support of the Evangelicals in the past, has now decided he wants to reach out more to them through John Hagee.
John Hagee has built a foreign policy advocacy organization called Christians United for Israel (CUFI) which is pushing for a pre-emptive war with Iran. In 2006 while lobbying in Washington Hagee was clear in his agenda, “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West,” he said. This was supposed to be a step in the right direction as allegedly mapped out in the Bible, “a biblically prophesied End Time confrontation…which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation…and the Second Coming of Christ.” Hagee not only uses guilt manipulation techniques on the members of his church and T.V. audiences to tithe to his “ministries” through his false “prosperity gospel,” but also uses guilt manipulation to push his false Dispensational Zionism doctrine. Hagee clearly insists that if you are not on board with him and his alleged Holy Spirit led agenda of believing 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy, and that God has a literal real estate “forever” in the literal city of Jerusalem today, any other view is “sin.”[i] Political speaking engagements and responses to alter calls associated with Hagee’s teachings among mostly Republicans, have been criticized by Democrats and the Christian right whom know their Bibles better than these folks.
These concerns of McCain’s associations with Hagee have been opened back up with the recent criticism of Republican concerns over Senator Obama’s 20 year associations and theology of Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s Black Libertarian doctrine. And it has resurfaced once again with the nominee for Vice President Governor Palin and her church membership and associations with the Charismatic Dispensational Zionist doctrine and agenda. Unfortunately, thus far in ABC’s interview with Palin, Charlie Gibson (having no doctrinal background) doesn’t know what kind of questions to ask Palin about what God’s will or “plan” is in the Middle East according to Palin’s theology. We will look at God’s eschatological plan in Matthew 24 and Revelation and see if it is the same as the Dispensational Zionist plan. But are these concerns coming from both sides of the isle for our presidential candidate’s theological convictions and associations legitimate? I believe they are.
Although me and my 11 year old son watch Fox News practically every night and usually enjoy and agree with most of the commentary of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Rielly, I have not been satisfied with the lack of coverage of the Republican candidates in their associations and doctrinal views when it comes to the Dispensational Zionist movement and its tangled web it seeks to weave in our foreign policy in the Middle East. Unfortunately, I haven’t found my favorite News program “fair and balanced” on this issue. As much as I like Hannity’s views and objectivity in most areas, I just don’t see him addressing Charismatic Dispensational Zionism the way he has Obama’s associations with Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s Black Libertarian theology. One would think that having ties to a theology that is bent on ushering in Armageddon (world war III) and having thousands of Jews slaughtered in an alleged future Great Tribulation, is as dangerous if not more dangerous of an agenda for the U.S. than the small influence of Wright’s theology within the black community.
In this article I will briefly examine the history of Dispensational Zionism and some distinct features of its teachings in the light of the Bible. It is one thing to have Israel as a political ally due to trade or common interests in democratic principles of government, but it is an entirely different thing to be politically interested in Israel because one believes that 1948 was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and that the U.S. will be “blessed” if we support her real estate agendas which perpetuate conflict in the region. Does the Bible support these beliefs and others such as the Church and the U.S. need to support the importation of Jews back into the land of Israel so as to usher in the pre-tribulation “rapture”, the battle of Armageddon and the Great Tribulation in our generation? Or were these events that took place between the years A.D. 66 – A.D. 70? I will give an exegetical answer to these questions and allow the reader to draw his or her on conclusion as to whether or not this movement is Biblically based and potentially dangerous to U.S. foreign policy. I also want to make it clear that I am writing this as a former Dispensational Charismatic having attended and graduated from 3 of their colleges. And lastly I will propose a better peace proposal for the Middle East than the Zionist’s self fulfilling agenda for Armageddon to take place in our generation!
A Brief History, Main Teachers and Major Tenants of Dispensational Zionism
The modern day Christian Zionist movement is a consistent outgrowth and byproduct of Dispensationalism. This eschatological view of Bible prophecy has only been around for about 150 years. It was founded and systematized by the teachings of John Nelson Darby, and then picked up and popularized through Cyrus Scofield (The Scofield Reference Bible), D.L. Moody and Donald Barnhouse. It’s largest boost has come through the radio and television airwaves. Unfortunately when most Americans turn on their televisions or radios, he or she is bombarded and brainwashed into thinking that Charismatic Dispensationalism is the real face of Christianity and through the alleged Holy Spirit led teachings of Jerry Falwell, Jim Baker, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Chuck Smith, John Hagee, and Billy Graham no one should dare be “noble” enough to “search the Scriptures” whether these prophetic speculations are so (Acts 17:11).
Popular “prophecy expert” authors that liter the contemporary Christian book store shelves are Charles Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible), John Walvoord, Tim LaHaye, Thomas Ice, Grant Jeffrey, John Hagee, Chuck Smith and Hal Lindsey. Religious institutions peddling this false view of Bible prophecy are the Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, Assembly of God Bible Colleges, Calvary Chapel Bible College, The Master’s Bible College and Seminary, etc.
U.S. presidents that have embraced the system have been Jimmie Carter and Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan being so influenced, that he was convinced that his generation would see Armageddon and that Russia would be apart of it. This caused red flags to be sent up not just among the liberal left, but among conservative Christians that understood their Bibles better than Reagan and the “prophecy experts” he had been influenced by.
The ICEJ (The International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem) was founded in 1980 with the goal to “comfort” Israel by educating Jews on their national heritage and convince them to leave other countries and come back into the land of Israel. I say “comfort” in quotations because it is the ICEJ’s agenda to usher in the “rapture” of the church which would involve in their theology – a 2/3’s death of the Jewish population during the Great Tribulation. This is ironic since they claim Preterists or those that don’t support their cause are anti-Semitic and yet their theology is the most insulting and dangerous view of the modern “Jew” today! The organization has joined up with the already entrenched and powerful Jewish lobbyists to support the Israeli land and policy agendas to the U.S. and other foreign nations.
Dispensational distinctions associated with the inclusion of the Christian Zionist movement include: The separation of Israel from the Church in Bible prophecy. A “literal hermeneutic” is drilled into the students and congregations of interpreting Bible prophecy – without ample training in studying the kind of genre being studied or finding the literal meaning of the text. The “gathering” in 1948 of Israel becoming a nation was allegedly the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The context and desolation of the first century temple Jesus and the disciples are talking about in Matthew 24 is ignored or double-fulfilled away in order for its theology to be forced into the text claiming that our generation will see another literal re-built temple to appear that will be desolated by the Anti-Christ who is allegedly “Alive and Well on Planet Earth.” Our generation is supposed to also witness the genuinely “near” (to us not the first century Christians) “rapture.” Our generation is also allegedly seeing prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes in the news, which is allegedly leading up to a global Great Tribulation attended with a world wide Armageddon which has Russia and China as alleged players. All of this is followed by a literal coming of Jesus on a literal cloud to earth. Once on earth, Jesus is allegedly going to reign on a literal throne in the literal city of Jerusalem for a literal 1,000 years in the land of Israel – as promised by God to Abraham. Allegedly another temple is going to be built with animal sacrifices taking place while Jesus allegedly smells the stench of these sacrifices as he sits and reigns on a literal throne in Jerusalem. This system is known for the belief that whenever there is a war in the Middle East, a famine, earthquake, false teaching, etc. that prophecy is allegedly being fulfilled before our very eyes in the News. These events are supposed to indicate that the rapture of the Church followed by the second coming 7 years later is genuinely near in our generation. Let’s begin here with a study of when the signs and coming of the Lord would take place as instructed by Jesus in Matthew 24. Are these past or future events?
In Matthew 24:34 Jesus clearly identifies that the “this generation” of the “you” (first century Jews not 21st. century ones) of whom He is addressing would not pass away before “all these things” (the signs, end of the age and His coming) would be fulfilled. The Greek word for “generation” here is genea and is used over 30 times in the N.T. and in each context it is never used as anything other than to address a 40 year generation or in particularly, the first century contemporary generation of Jesus, the disciples or their contemporary enemies. However, some of the Dispensational Zionists and their alleged “scholars” have admitted to this but claim Matthew 24:34 is the exception to the rule and thus they feel they have the liberty to make up their own definitions of the word to fit their theology. Let’s go over a couple of them.
One such view to avoid the clear and straightforward meaning of “this generation” is to say the Greek word genea means that “the race Jews will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” There is simply no solid exegetical or lexical evidence for this use of genea in the NT. If the race of Jews was intended by Jesus or Matthew, they would have used the Greek word genos.
Another view which was popularized by Hal Lindsey, teaches that the generation which witnessed 1948 would be the “this generation” that Jesus said would witness all of the signs and His return in the discourse. So the dates of 1981 and 1988 were set (1988 – 7 years for the pre-tribulation “rapture”). Lindsey began by admitting that a generation “was something like forty years.” Since 40 years have passed, instead of throwing in the towel on his theory, Lindsey now claims a generation could be 60-80 years. If this doesn’t sound new, it’s because it isn’t. The “expanding” of a generation is exactly what the Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses have done with their false predictions concerning “this generation.”
This interpretation has Jesus saying in effect, “the generation that begins to see the fulfillment of these signs will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.” John Hagee writes,
“There are ten prophetic signs in Scripture that describe the world in the last days. When these ten prophetic signs occur in one generation, that generation will see the end of the age.”[ii]
And of course according to Hagee our generation has seen all ten of these. Again, genea in the gospels and especially the phrase “this generation” is never used in directing the reader to a future generation but always the contemporary one of Jesus and His first century audience. Had this been the intension of Jesus, He could have simply said, “that generation…” instead of “this generation…” So much for taking “this generation” “literally” and how it is used everywhere else in the Bible! The fact remains that all of the signs Jesus gives here in Matthew 24 were seen and fulfilled before the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70.
These “prophecy experts” along with the Dispensational Zionists, allege that the Olivet Discourse is a prediction of the end of the world or the end of the Christian “age.” However, the context (beginning in Matthew 23:31-38) makes it clear that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 (40 years later) and the end of the Mosaic old-covenant age is in view here and not a prediction of the end of planet earth. The new-covenant age and kingdom arriving at Jesus’ return is described by Him to be in the spiritual realm and “within” a person – eternal and having no end (cf. Luke 17:20-37/21:27-32; John 18:36; Daniel 2:44; Ephesians 20-21).
ALL OF THE SIGNS FULFILLED BY A.D. 70
Jesus predicted that false messiahs would come in the generation of the first century disciples and they did: Theudas (Acts 5:36; 13:6), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), and Simon (Acts 8:9-11) to name a few. In the epistles of John, John writes (as that generation was ending) informs the first century church that they knew it was “the last hour” because the Antichrist’s had arrived (1 John 2:17-18). For those who understand the “Antichrist” and “Man of Sin” to be the same person, we should point out that this individual was alive and “already at work” during the time of Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). Contrary to the popular science fiction writings of Dispensational Zionist Hal Lindsay, this individual is not “alive and well on planet earth” in the form of some political leader of Russia, Iran, Iraq, etc.
The Jewish historian Josephus writes of a false prophet during the destruction of Jerusalem which deceived the Jews to stay and fight the Romans:
“Of so great a multitude, not one escaped. Their destruction was caused by a false prophet, who had on that day proclaimed to those remaining in the city, that “God commanded them to go up to the temple, there to receive the signs of their deliverance.” There were at this time many prophets suborned by the tyrants to delude the people, by bidding them wait for help from God, in order that there might be less desertion, and that those who were above fear and control might be encouraged by hope. Under calamities man readily yields to persuasion but when the deceiver pictures to him deliverance from pressing evils, then the sufferer is wholly influenced by hope. Thus it was that the impostors and pretended messengers of heaven at that time beguiled the wretched people.” (Josephus, Wars, 6.3.6.).
“In AD 40 there was a disturbance at Mesopotamia which (Josephus says) caused the deaths of more than 50,000 people. In AD 49, a tumult at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover resulted in 10,000 to 20,000 deaths. At Caesarea, contentions between Jewish people and other inhabitants resulted in over 20,000 Jews being killed. As Jews moved elsewhere, over 20,000 were destroyed by Syrians. At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed. Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time.” (John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, p. 28)
“The Annals of Tacitus, covering the period from AD 14 to the death of Nero in AD 68, describes the tumult of the period with phrases such as “disturbances in Germany”, “commotions in Africa”, commotions in Thrace”, “insurrections in Gaul”, “intrigues among the Parthians”, “the war in Britain”, and “the war in Armenia”. Wars were fought from one end of the empire to the other. With this description we can see further fulfillment: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7)[iii]
When Jesus was addressing wars and rumors of wars, He was not referring to what is going on in modern day Russia, China, Israel, Iraq, United States, or Europe today. To reach into Matthew 24 and back into the O.T. and twist these passages and prophecies by asserting that they are referring to these modern day countries and to us today is irresponsible exegesis to say the least.
Again, the Bible and history record famine and pestilences during “the last days” (AD 30 – AD 70) of the Mosaic old-covenant age and generation (Acts 11:27-29). In AD 40 and AD 60 there were pestilences in Babylon and Rome where Jews and Gentiles alike suffered.
The book of Acts records for us an earthquake occurring in the Apostolic generation (Acts 16:26). “… just previous to 70 AD there were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea.” (DeMar, Gary, ibid., 64)
The first century Christians were to expect tribulation, to be brought before kings and rulers , imprisonment, beatings, for the sake of Jesus. Please read the book of Acts 4:3,17; Acts 5:40; Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 14:19 to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:12. In fulfillment of our Lord’s words, Paul and Silas were beaten (Acts 26:23) and Paul was brought before rulers and kings – Gallio, (Acts 28:12), Felix (Acts 24), Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25). Peter and Paul were put to death in the persecution of Nero.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
The reader at this point says, “I got you. How are you going to be able to prove the gospel was preached throughout the entire globe before A.D. 70?!?” Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, this is not difficult to prove at all:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)”
“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world(Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)
“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world(Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).
And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Greek kitisis) ” (Mark 16:15)
“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).
“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18)
Jesus nor the Apostle Paul meant nor understood these phrases for “into all the world,” “all nations,” “every creature,” or “end of the earth,” to be global terms. These are describing the nations of the Roman Empire or the world as they knew it.
In Luke’s account of the abomination that causes desolation, the fulfillment of this prophecy is identified with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem and laying it waste in the years of A.D. 66-A.D. 70, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” (Luke 21:20-22). History records for us that the early Christians were not deceived by the Jewish false prophets and fled to Pella and were safe.
Hagee ignoring that all of these signs were fulfilled in the first century and how “this generation” is used in the gospel’s, decides he wants to add a couple more. He claims the number one sign is that there will be a “knowledge explosion—Daniel 12:4.”[iv] The portion Hagee is addressing states, “Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” This is usually interpreted by these “prophecy experts,” to mean something like this, “just look at the age and generation we live in with the expanding knowledge computers and the Internet has given us. And what about the inventions of the car and plain? The increase of knowledge in the area of transportation has caused us to be able to go “here and there” globally.” Is this what the passage has in view?
All this text is teaching, is that as time progresses nearing the “time of the end” (note not the end of time!), knowledge and understanding of Daniel’s prophecy and the Messiah’s salvation (cf. Daniel 9:25-27) will be given. People came from all over to hear the teachings of Jesus explain the meaning of the OT prophets and how they spoke of Him. Through the teachings of Jesus and the NT writers, along with the Great Commission being preached and fulfilled throughout the then know world, knowledge of Daniel’s prophecy increased and Jesus said its fulfillment would be in their “this generation.” Paul speaks much about the “mystery” that had been given through the OT prophets, but was now made known to the Church—in regard to how all prophecy is fulfilled “in Christ” and through the Church consisting of the Jew and Gentile union into one body (cf. Colossians 1:25-27, 2:3; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Ephesians 2:11-3:4). Jesus and Peter clearly teach that all OT prophecy was given to the first century generation to understand and see the fulfillment of (Luke 21:22, 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7). Knowledge of Christ and the Church as the fulfillment of ALL OT prophetic fulfillment increased within the first century Church before Christ returned and put an end to the old-covenant age by A.D. 70. In the context of Daniel’s prophecy it is a knowledge of Christ and the Church that is the purpose and climax of all OT prophecy not the inventions and speed of cars, computers and space ships! Besides hasn’t each generation considered itself as having increased in knowledge? Hasn’t each generation improved transportation? Hagee as usual is way off!
Another bizarre “sign” Hagee gives is, “International instant communication—Revelation 11:3, 7-10.”[v] Of course Hagee takes the testimony of the two witnesses “literally” and if the entire globe or “the inhabitants of the earth” witnesses their death, then according to this kind of thinking it must imply the invention of the television. The two witnesses whom have the characteristics of Moses and Elijah, have to do with the testimony of the OT (the Law and prophets) and the people of the Land (not the globe–Rome and apostate Israel) seeking to silence this testimony. The number three and a half is a broken seven and represents a time of sorrow and pain. So this has reference to the rejoicing and coming together (of these at one time enemies – Rome and apostate Jerusalem) in a united cause to silence and put Christ and the testimony of the Church to death (cf. Matthew 24:9; Colossians 1:24). A global televised production of this alleged event, is so far removed from the context of the prophecy which was to be fulfilled “shortly” (cf. Revelation 1:1), that it is just scary and desperate speculation on the part of Hagee and other modern day prophecy guru’s.
Any Bible College or seminary class on hermeneutics would tell us that we need to follow a grammatical historical hermeneutic. One of the steps involved in interpreting how language and terms are used is to honor the way language is used during the time it was written in. Josephus who was a close contemporary of Jesus’ time describes the destruction of Jerusalem in practically the identical language:
“Now this vast multitude is indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world;”[vi]
The words “For then shall be great tribulation…” are words linking the tribulation period with the preceding fleeing of the disciples from Jerusalem in the previous context (vs.17-20, cf. also Lk.21:20-23). The great “wrath” and “distress” upon “this people” in the “land” in (Lk. 21:23) is parallel to Matthew’s tribulation period described for us in Matthew 24:21.
Those claiming that A.D. 70 couldn’t have fulfilled what Jesus states here because, “after all look at what Hitler did to the Jews” are arguing using false premises and using circular reasoning. This statement assumes what it needs to prove. In other words it assumes that after A.D.70 God still has covenantal dealings with what is today called modern Israel. Jesus taught that in A.D.70 the kingdom would be taken from Israel and given to a nation bearing the fruits thereof – the church (cf. Matthew 21:33-45; 1 Peter 2:9). The covenantal promises made to Israel under the Mosaic Torah had not been completely fulfilled by the cross but were still in the process of “growing old” and were “ready to vanish” in a “very little while” (Hebrews 8:13-10:37 cf. Romans 9:4-5; 11:15-27; 13:11-12). Post A.D. 70, there is no covenantal “Israel” in Scripture, let alone an Israel awaiting a prophetic fulfillment of the Great Tribulation and “rapture” of the Church.
“The stars shall fall from heaven” and “the Son of Man coming on the clouds”
God’s coming on the clouds and stars falling from heaven, as used elsewhere in the Bible, are metaphors referring to the judgment of nations, not the destruction of the physical planet. This can be seen in such O.T. passages referring to the fall of Babylon, Egypt, Edom, and Israel (Isa. 13:9-10; 19:1; 34:4-5; Ezk. 32:7-8; Amos 5:21-22; Psalm 18; Psalm 104; Hab. 1:2ff.). In Matthew 24, the context is the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. The sun, moon, and stars represented the universe of Israel and her rulers which would fall from her covenantal significance by A.D. 70 for rejecting Christ and His Apostles and prophets (cf. Matthew 23:31-36). Reformed and Puritan theologian John Owen had this to say of this text,
“And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. And our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by ‘heavens’ and ‘earth’, the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood” (John Owen, Works, Banner of Truth Pub., Vol. 9, 134).
Did God come on a literal cloud when he judged Egypt by means of the Assyrian’s in 670 B.C.:
“Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isa. 19:1)?
Even Dispendationalist’s admit this language in Isaiah 19 is not literal but figurative.[vii] Was the literal heaven “dissolved” and rolled back like a scroll and did literal stars fall down from heaven when National Idumea (or Edom) was judged by God in the OT?
“And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.” (Isa. 34:4-5)
This is not the first place in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus predicted that His return would occur within the lifetime and generation of those who were listening to Him (cf. Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 26:64). Jesus in the book of Revelation (through John) likewise addresses His return and the fulfillment of these prophetic events to ocurr in an “at hand” “near” and “soon” time frame (cf. Revelation 1:1, 3; 3:11; 10:6-7; 22:6-7; 10-12, 20). The inspiration and integrity of the rest of the N.T. bears witness that Jesus would return imminently in their generation (cf. James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:4-12; 4:5-7; 1 John 2:17-18; Hebrews 10:25, 37; 13:14YLT; 1 Corinthians 10:11; to list just a few examples). For Hagee and these folks the “rapture” of the church and the second coming are literally “near” to take place in our generation, but for the first century Christians, “this generation” and “near” meant thousands of years. This is no way to interpret the Bible!
“One will be taken and the other left”
Matthew 24-25 and the rest of the N.T. is addressing only one second coming and judgment to occur at the end of the old-covenant age. There are not two different comings mentioned in the N.T. – 1) a secret “rapture” and then 7 years later 2) the second “visible” coming. In context, this passage is addressing the taking away of the Jews into captivity by the Roman armies and those left would be slaughtered and left to rot like a dead carcass (cf. vs. 28).
ISRAEL’S LAND AND TEMPLE PROMISES
Dispensationalism argues that Israel under the Abrahamic covenant has not yet inherited all of the land promised by God, in spite of God clearly saying otherwise (Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:20-21; Joshua 11:23; 21:41-45; Nehemiah 9:21-25). The objection from Dispensationalists is that Israel has not inherited the land “forever.” Sometimes in Scripture “forever” means forever and other times it simply means a long time. Under the old-covenant God’s promises made to Israel concerning the land had not failed to come to pass. In type and shadow form, through the 40 year reigns of David and in particularly Solomon, Israel received peace “in the land” as promised by God. All the blessings under the old-covenant were realized “in the land.” However, in the N.T. we discover that the anti-type of the Abrahamic promise is found in the gradual 40 year “this generation” pre-parousia reign of Jesus’ and the reception of a “heavenly country” that was “about to come” in the first century (Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14YLT). The N.T. emphasis is not “in the land” but rather in a person – “in Christ” through faith. For “in Christ” are all the promises of God realized (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). The life within the seed and core of the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in the “seed” of Jesus Christ and all those who believe in Him (Jew or Gentile) and become the true new covenant Jew or Jerusalem of God (Galatians 3:6-29; 4:21-31; Romans 2:28-29). Dispensational Zionism teaches that the millennium temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy is a literal temple with animal sacrifices to be performed while Jesus is literally reigning in Jerusalem for a literal thousand years. However, according to the Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians along with the writer to Hebrews, Christ’s sacrifice is a once and for all atonement which perfects God’s people and the animal sacrifices pointed in type and shadow form to Christ’s sacrifice! Again, the Apostle Paul quotes Ezekiel’s millennial temple prophecy and clearly says that it is the Church that fulfills Ezekiel 37:27/2Corinthians 6:16 (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus says that “according to the Scriptures” (cf. ex: Ezekiel 47), from out of a Christian’s heart will come “living waters” (cf. John 7:37-39). Christians are the New Jerusalem, New Creation and Bride which came down from heaven when the old-covenant Jerusalem/Adulterous Bride was destroyed “shortly” and “soon” in Revelation 17-22:6-7, 10-12, 20. This heavenly City that comes down from heaven is NOT a “literal” city! The purpose of the establishment and maturity of the New Jerusalem (the Church) in A.D. 70 is that the Church is now prepared to bring the Nations of the world “healing” through the gospel. The reason there is evangelism and “sinners” being born and converted in the New Creation is because it is a description of what is taking place in the New- Covenant age today – Ezekiel 47; Isaiah 65-66/2 Corinthians 5:17; John 8:38; Revelation 22:1-17. Imposing a sensationalist “literal hermeneutic” within the genre of a vision and apocalyptic literature, is a disaster of great proportions for the Church and one that does have political ripples and consequences in how we as a country founded upon Biblical principles understand our foreign policy!
JESUS OFFERED A LITERAL KINGDOM BUT
IT ALLEGEDLY GOT “POSTPONED”?
Dispensational Zionism teaches that Jesus allegedly had taught the Jews a literal nationalistic kingdom but since they rejected His offer, Jesus postponed His plans of setting up a literal 1,000 year millennial kingdom in Jerusalem and had to the settle for plan B – the “sad” reality of the cross. What kind of non-sense is this dear reader?!? Jesus NEVER taught anything resembling the literal nationalistic expectations the Jews of Jesus’ day had or the kind of Messianic kingdom Dispensational Zionists are holding out for! Jesus did nothing but explain that His kingdom was “not of this world” and “within” the believer in the terms of spiritual birth, water, bread, freedom from bondage, death, and life, the Jews thought carnally and interpreted these concepts physically and biologically (cf. John 3-6; 7:38; 8:31-58; 18:36-37; Luke 17:20-21). When the Jews came offering Him a physical nationalistic kingdom (the false eschatological expectation of the day), Jesus flat out rejected their concept of the kingdom (cf. John 6:14-15). There is not a single verse in any of the gospels where Jesus describes His kingdom in literal nationalist terms as the unbelieving Jews and the Dispensationalist Zionist teaches. Nor is there a single N.T. verse that states or even infers that Jesus offered a literal kingdom but due to Israel’s rejection it got postponed for thousands of years. Surely such a major element in the Dispensational teaching has some support in the Gospels and Pauline literature doesn’t it? No, not even close folks. The truth of the matter is that Jesus began reigning and establishing the Messianic Davidic kingdom promises through the cross and ascension hardly postponing it (cf. Hebrews 1-2; Acts 2)!
“We are on a countdown to crisis. The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty. The war of Ezekiel 38-39 could begin before this book gets published (MJS- don’t worry it won’t and it will get “revised” once again). Israel and America must confront Iran’s nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons.”[viii]
“No prophetic scripture is more crystal clear than Ezekiel’s vivid and specific description of the coming massive war in the Middle East that will sweep the world toward Armageddon. Ezekiel’s war as described in chapters 38 and 39 will consist of an Arab coalition of nations led by Russia for the purpose of exterminating the Jews of Israel and controlling the city of Jerusalem.”[ix]
Of the battle of Armageddon as described in Revelation 16, Wal-Mart sensation Tim LaHaye writes of China’s alleged involvement,
“…China is already moving in the political direction that will make it possible for her to do what Revelation indicates she will during the Tribulation: march over the Euphrates River to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. Such an action would have been considered imposible just sixty years ago. Today it is not only feasible, but with her Communist-inspired obsession to take over all of Asia and perhaps even the entire world, it may be feasible. Just another suggestion that “the time is near.”[x]
Revelation 16:16 is simply a historic reference and symbol of war that is directed to a place – the mount of Megiddo or the city of Megiddo where famous battles of Israel had been fought (Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29) and is thus used as we might use the term “Waterloo” or someone “Meeting your Waterloo.” Gary DeMar captures the intent of the text well when he writes,
“Israel remembered Megiddo as a place where God vented His divine wrath against rebellion, whether exhibited by Israel or a foreign power. God brought the nations of the world against first-century Jerusalem as he had promised (Matthew 22:7; 24:34). Rome, as an “empire of nations” (Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, Gaul, Egypt, Britain, and others) representing all the nations of the world (see Luke 2:1),came up against Jerusalem and destroyed her.” “There were those in Israel who actually attempted to fight against this world empire and, met their “Waterloo.” “It no more takes place in Megiddo than Jerusalem is Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon”[xi] (MJS – These cities in Revelation describe apostate old-covenant Jerusalem 11:8; 18:24/Matthew 23:31-36).
As John writes towards the end of his “this generation,” the prophetic things of Revelation that include this battle, were to be fulfilled “shortly” not 2,000+ years away.
THE BATTLE OF GOG AND MAGOG – UH, WHERE’S RUSSIA AGAIN?
Like the other eisegetical embarrassing elements to Dispensational Zionism, is the belief that Russia will invade Israel because Ezkiel 38:2 and 39:1 use the Hebrew words rosh (which sounds like Russia) and Meshech (which sounds like Moscow). The other reasons are that Russia has some ancient cities residing in its domain that were ancient cities recorded in Ezekiel. But none of these other cities “sound like” their modern counterparts like rosh (Russia) and Mesech (Moscow) allegedly do. Obviously this sound alike word game of “hermeneutics” is a “make up the interpretive rules as you go” game that is being plaid fast and loose with God’s Word. Again DeMar writes,
“The most damaging piece of evidence to the theory that Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to modern Russia’s invasion of Israel during the Great Tribulation is that there is no mention of Gog and Magog or Meshech and Tubal in Revelation 4-19, yet this passage is where dispensationalists tell us the Great Tribulation is described. Revelation 20:8 describes the battle of Gog and Magog as coming after the thousand years. Moreover, its characteristics are quite different from the Ezekiel battle. This means, like “Jezebel” (Revelation 2:20), “Sodom and Egypt” 11:8), and “Babylon” (14:8), the Battle of Gog and Magog is characteristic of an Old Testament event, but it is not the same event! One is past (Ezekiel 38-39); the other is future – after the “thousand years” (Revelation 20:8).”[xii]
WAS 1948’s “GATHERING” A FULFILLMENT OF O.T. PROPHECY?
Dispensationalist’s insist these chapters in Ezekiel are describing the “last days” battle post A.D. 70. This and Ezekiel 6:6-9; 12:15; and Jeremiah 29 are allegedly descriptions of Israel being “scattered” among the nations in A.D. 70 and then “gathered” back from among the nations in 1948 to face this battle with Russia in Ezekiel 38-39 – so the theory goes. Hagee writes,
“MORE THAN 2,600 years ago the prophet Ezekiel prophesied the resurrection of Israel from the Gentile graves in the lands to which she had been scattered, predicting the rebirth of Israel, whih took place May 14, 1948. Ezekiel also prophesied about the Holy War that will take place in Israel some time after Israel’s restoration to independence.”[xiii]
“The dry bones in Ezekiel’s vision represent the nation of Israel during the Dispora, beginning in A.D. 70 (Ezkek. 37:11). Gradually the bones came together, and the sinews and flesh came upon them.” (ibid., 130-131).
Hagee doesn’t address that a requirement according the old-covenant law of Moses was that Israel had to repent and establish their covenantal faithfulness in Jehovah with “all their heart” before they could be gathered/resurrected back into the Land (cf. Deuteronomy 32:2-4). Where was this “with all of your heart” repentance and faith in Jesus Christ from the “Jewish Nation” in 1948?!? These were and remain a people professing Atheism more than a nation embracing Christianity let alone Biblical Judaism! Some Dispensationalists disagree with Hagee’s interpretation of Ezekiel 37 for this reason,
“The Israelites residing in Palestine today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy.”[xiv]
John Hagee and Dispensational Zionists believe that the OT prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel such as Isaiah 11, 35, 43, 44, 61; Ezekiel 11, 28, 34, 37; and Jeremiah 30-31 were made only to national Israel and do not apply or can be fulfilled in the Church. These are allegedly “proof texts” for Jews around the world to re-inhabit Israel today and are necessary to be fulfilled before Christ can return. However, the context of these passages and how they are understood by the NT authors, make it clear that they are fulfilled when national Israel was restored and gathered back into Her land under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah (in type and shadow form – read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah), or spiritually applied and fulfilled in Christ and through the Church (God’s new-covenant Israel “an elect and holy nation” in anti-type substance form).
It simply is a false premise given by Hagee and Dispensational Zionists to claim OT promises made to Israel cannot be applied to or fulfilled in the Church as God’s restored and transformed Israel/Temple. Peter and the writer to the Hebrews applies the “last days” promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the arrival of the new covenant salvation and the imminent first century second coming of the Lord in Joel 2 and Jeremiah 31 to the Church. The first century Church clearly was promised to experience the fulfillment of these OT promises in their first century “this generation” and in a “very little while” (cf. Acts 2:16-20, 40, Acts 10; Hebrews 1:1; 8:8-13, 9:26-28, 10:25, 37). In Acts 15 the Jerusalem Church understands that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Gentiles coming to faith in Christ, is the fulfillment of Amos 9 which is the rebuilding of David’s tent. The Apostle Paul also claims that the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s temple prophecy in Ezekiel 37:27 is fulfilled by the Church being the temple of the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 6:16. The Apostle Paul also applies the new-covenant promises made to OT Israel in Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 45 and 59 concerning the arrival of the new covenant salvation, to be fulfilled and realized for the Church with the arrival of Christ’s imminent second coming from Zion in Romans 11:26-27; 13:11-12. There is absolutely not one passage where an inspired Apostle or writer claims these OT passages are not or kind of sort fulfilled through the Church but they will ultimately be fulfilled by the generation that witnesses Israel becoming a nation some 2000+ years and counting (ie. 1948-to the present).
Again, anyone interested in the context of such OT passages that are allegedly dealing with 1948, can see these texts are dealing with the scattering of Israel and Judah under the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and the gathering among the nations of Israel back into her land happened during the times of Nehemiah and Ezra. A gathering back into the land of Israel is described as a coming out the “graves” and being resurrected (cf. Ezekiel 37). These were one of the past national scatterings/death and gatherings/resurrections of Israel but the anti-type or true fulfillment of these passages and the eschatological “gathering” as described in Matthew 24:30-31 for example, is describing the gathering/resurrection of the elect (the Church) into Her new-covenant spiritual Kingdom when the old one was destroyed and judged in A.D. 70. (cf. Matthew 21:33-45/1Peter 1:4-9). In A.D. 70 the remnant of Jews and Gentiles (the Church/the Restored Israel) was gathered/resurrected out of the graves and bondage of spiritual sin and death and given eternal life (John 5-11).
The final reason that all OT prophecy (including the restoration of land promises) cannot apply to 1948 and our generation, is that Jesus and Peter specifically say that ALL OT prophecy will be fulfilled in their “this generation” and were given for their day to see the fulfillment (cf. Luke 21:22-32; Acts 2:20-40; 1Peter 1:4-12/4:5-7).
THE CHARISMATIC / PENTECOSTAL FACTOR
When bad eschatology (the study of Bible prophecy) is mixed with bad Pentecostal and Charismatic doctrine, it is a recipe for disaster especially if it is held by our political leaders or these people have their ear. Because these alleged modern day “prophets” who have been conditioned to believe that our generation will witness Armageddon have divine “revelations” about “things to come” in the Middle East. “Divine revelations” for Christ coming in our contemporary generation is not something that just takes place within Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witness cults. Sara Palin not only has some bad eschatology, but she comes out of an Assembly of God Church, where there are alleged “prophets” and “prophecies” still taking place. I too was once a Charismatic having graduated Calvary Chapel Bible College so I know the kind of thinking and justifications that take place within these movements. Allow me to briefly address Pentecostal and Charismatic doctrine exegetically.
The traditional Baptist and Reformed sectors of Christianity do not sufficiently deal with an educated Charismatic. The Charismatic doctrine is accurate when they claim that if the Church is still in the “last days” (cf. Acts 2) then the sign gifts of speaking in tongues, prophesying, healings, etc. remain for the church today. They are also correct to teach that if Christ has not returned and we are not beholding Him “face to face” then these revelatory gifts remain (1 Corinthians 13:8-12/Revelation 22:4). And they are also correct to say that if the Great Commission is still unfulfilled and we have not reached the “end of the age,” then these sign gifts remain for the church (cf. Mark 16:15-18/Matthew 28:18-20).
The problem for the Charismatic or the futurist trying to persuade the Charismatic that he or she is in error, is that all these groups share some faulty presuppositions. The “last days” was a period marking the end to the old-covenant age not a period of some 2,000 + years covering the end to the new-covenant age. The “Great and Terrible Day of the Lord” and judgment of Acts 2 – 3 would fall upon their apostate “this perverse and crooked generation” that had crucified their Messiah (cf. Acts 2:20, 40).
It is untenable to interpret 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 as the completion of the Bible. When Scripture is allowed to interpret Scripture, this passage is clearly referring to the Second Coming, but as we have seen, Jesus promised that He would return in their “this generation” (Matthew 24:27-34) not some future one. So the “face to face” is not a literal biological face to face seeing of God, any more than the beholding of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ and the transformation into His image in 2 Corinthians 3-4 is meant to be an ongoing biological transformation. The context is the contrasting of the old-covenant glory which was in the process of passing away, to new-covenant glory which was in the process of being received. “That which is perfect” (the goal or the end reached), is correctly identified with the consummative “the end” in Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 15:24. However, “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15 is associated with the destruction of and victory over “the sin,” “the death” and “the law” in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. The phrase “the law” everywhere in Pauline theology has reference to the Mosaic Torah, which was all fulfilled and done away with in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple. This event clearly marked the end to that old-covenant age and the ushering in and maturing of the new.
Since I have already demonstrated that the Great Commission has been fulfilled according to the Apostle Paul, I will not belabor that point again here.
Being a former Charismatic, I sincerely understand the frustration that exists for Charismatic “tongue speakers.” What they perform is learned behaviour and has nothing to do with speaking known foreign languages which is what we see happening in the miracle of Acts 2. Many non-tongue speaking denominations claim that the tongue speaking that takes place in Mormon, Catholic, and Pentecostal/ Charismatic churhes is “from the Devil.” This is also false – it is simply learned behaviour and there is no element of the miraculous in any of it. The purpose of speaking in other languages and the charismata (the miraculous gifts) was that they served as signs to unbelievers and the early church of an imminent judgment/salvation coming upon Jerusalem for rejecting their Messiah (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 14:21-22). They were given to the maturing and growing first century church and now that He has matured into manhood, there is no longer a need for them. They have “ceased” according to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.
SHOULD WE HOLD OUR POLITICIANS ACCOUTABLE IN THEIR THEOLOGY AND ASSOCIATIONS?
Just as my co-Republican friends wish to hold Obama accountable to his ties to Black Libertarian Theology, so we need to hold MaCain and Palin accountable to their associations with the Christian Charismatic Zionist movement. Palin having attended a Dispensational Charismatic church needs to be closest looked at on the Republican side. Recently the conservative side feels the liberal media’s look at Palin’s charismatic and Zionists eschatology is uncalled for and not fair. I totally disagree. The Liberal’s were rightly concerned in the 80’s with Ronald Reagan convinced certainty from reading these “prophecy experts,” that Russia was going to get involved in the battle of Armageddon and also said to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, “You know, I turn back to your ancient prophecies in the Old Testament and the signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we’re the generation that’s going to see that come about. I don’t know if you’ve noted any of those prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we’re going through.”[xv]
No one wants someone in control of our army and nuclear weapons who has the potential to be swayed from a divine revelation or prophecy in his or her church mixed with a bogus eschatology. God ended up rebuking Reagan, and using him in the direct opposite direction leading to the events of the Cold War and the dismantling of Russia. However, Russia is back in the News and so are the “prophecy experts.” I have no problem getting militarily tuff with Russia or the Musslim world in order to defend our freedoms. But the Church ought not to mix bad eschatology with politics. There are levels of extremists within the circles and associations that Obama, MacCain, and Palin have. It is our job as Christians and our civic duty as U.S. citizens to press them from the Scriptures for answers to these very important questions. I for one, am “ready to give an answer” for the “hope” that has been realized within me and will “not blink” when called upon to defend that Christ as our Tree of Life has come and is currently healing the nations and will continue to do so. My “hope” is realized and does not leave the church “sick” (cf. Proverbs 13:12; 1 Peter 3:15/Luke 17:20-21). Since there is an association problem with MacCain and Hagee’s eschatology, and Christians are called to “always be ready” to defend their positions, I publically challenge John Hagee to a debate over these issues on Fox News. Hagee, you have “ducked” us long enough. You are a coward.
WHERE WILL TRUE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST COME FROM?
Peace in the Middle East for Israel and the Arab and Muslim world will NOT come from an eschatology that thinks the literal land of Palestine is the focus and climax of Bible prophecy or paradise on earth! Unfortunately this faulty premise is what unites and consistently divides Dispensational Evangelicals, Israel, and the Muslim world. Peace will be achieved first and foremost with the REAL gospel being preached in the West which should be centered on being “in Christ” through faith and not “in the [sacred] land.” Having said this, I should point out that I am not a liberal pacifist in any way shape or form, and believe in a just war. But in the long run, there can be no social change at all levels unless the gospel penetrates these Eastern countries. It only took a handful of uneducated men to turn the Roman Empire or the “world upside down” within one generation. The same can be true of accurate debating and evangelism to the Middle East today.
Unfortunately, to be as honest as I can and as frank as possible, the Arminian (salvation by works), Charismatic, Dispensational Zionist does not understand nor have the gospel message to take that will transform our culture let alone one that will bring healing to these areas of the world. In the end, this is not a military fight, it is a doctrinal one that will first be won here in the U.S. and then one that will overcome Israel and the Muslim world.
The gospel to the U.S. and Muslim world is not found within our bumper sticker theological society – “Jesus loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life, won’t you please accept Him today.” It is rather “repent” and turn from your false gods or “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Isaiah 2:12). God does not redemptively love all men and women (cf. Psalm 5:5-6; Romans 9:9-13). God is not some mamby pamby sweating deity up in heaven looking down wanting to save all of mankind but is constantly getting His will overridden by those who reject Him. This is a humanistic Jesus, not the God of the Bible.
Within the liberal “scholarly” world and even within Judaism and the Muslim communities, is found the offensive argument in seeking to refute the claims of Christ and Christianity – that being, Jesus failed to return in the life time and generation of His first century followers as promised (Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 24:34). Most Evangelicals simply stick their head in the sand and hope these arguments and texts go away. But it is only the position argued here that can truly embrace a Christ who didn’t fail and that His words can be trusted. It is only the position taken by this writer that can truly bring healing to the Middle East. For its only hope is not to be found “in the land,” but rather in a person “in Christ” through faith. Until this is realized for the Church in its evangelism, not much will be accomplished. I support and continue to support the war, but I see a larger doctrinal one that needs to be fought here in the U.S. and then carried to the Middle East between Israel and the Arab world – TRUE abiding “peace” is found “in Christ” not “in the [sacred] land.” This will ultimately be a battle waged with the Christian soldier swinging of the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) not the military one. I support our troops and pray that our Christian Politicians and soldiers will study the Word with us and support us in our fight.
I realize of course this doesn’t sound as exciting and sensationalistic as what the Charismatic Dispensational Zionist’s are peddling as they turn Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation into a modern day science fiction novel for our generation. Their eschatological hopes are carnal and are things which can be seen and not on the things which cannot be seen (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18; Luke 17:20-21). These people can’t help but thinking of themselves as the center of attention within world history. Contrary to their teachings, the end of the world is not around the corner and we have a long way to go yet (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:4). I’ll put up my Middle East Peace Plan (as emphasized above) over the Dispensational Zionist’s any day and any time! The true gospel really does speak peace and comfort to Israel (the Church) whose gates are open to all the nations of the world Revelation 22:17. For more articles by Michael J. Sullivan please visit www.treeoflifeministries.info
[i] John Hagee, IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL THE BIBLE’S MANDATE FOR SUPPORTING THE JEWISH STATE, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2007,) 4-5. It is true that Christians are called to continue in doctrine and in the teachings of Jesus and Apostles, but since Hagee’s teaching is not Biblical, his exhortations are purely manipulative.
[iii] Gary DeMar,Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Day Church, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1994), 62-63, (emphasis MJS).
[vi] Josephus, Works of Josephus, War of the Jews, 6-9-4.
[vii] John A. Martin, Ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty OLD TESTAMENT, Ezekiel, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: COOK COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRIES, 2004,) 1065-1066.
[viii] Hagee, Ibid., 53 (parentheses added by MJS)
[x] Tim LaHaye, REVELATION UNVEILED, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan 1999), 256.
[xi] DeMar, Ibid. 224-225.
[xii] DeMar, Ibid., 269.
[xiii] John Hagee, JERUSALEM COUNTDOWN A PRELUDE TO WAR, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2007) 129.
[xiv] Charles H. Dyer, Ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty OLD TESTAMENT, Ezekiel, (Colorado Springs, Colorado: COOK COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRIES, 2004,) 1298-1299 (bold emphasis MJS).
[xv] DeMar, Ibid. 220.