Five years ago, a brother hinted that if I wanted to know what was going on in the ‘real world’, I should read the business pages less, and follow politics more. My lifelong interest has always been theology; I am interested in connecting general and specific revelation, and how the end is declared from the beginning. And so, despite some concerns about the lingo and vocabulary of the laws of the various lands, I took my brother’s advice. I was immediately intrigued by this new-found interest, and to my surprise, I soon found out that the concepts I ran across were quite familiar.
What is the mystery which Revelation 17:5 and 7 reveal? Does the mystery refer to the title of the woman (“Mystery Babylon the Great”; NKJV) or is the name of the woman “Babylon the Great”, about which Revelation 17 reveals a mystery (cf. NASB)? And if so, what is the mystery?
A common argument against the doctrine of the rapture is that it is a new teaching and, so the argument goes, because it is new, it cannot be true (cf. Ladd 1956:31). Du Rand (2007:317) writes that teaching about the rapture only gained momentum after 1830 when the dreams of a certain Margaret MacDonald were revealed. But is teaching about the rapture new, or is it rather old? Is something true or false because it is old or new?
The rapture is neither a secret nor something mysterious, but rather a New Testament mystery that God revealed almost 2000 years ago. South African theologians such as Snyman (1940:83-87), Oosthuizen (1963) and Malan (2014:251-266) did not think that the rapture was a secret. However, if people think that the Church is Israel or some other group of Old Testament saints, then teaching about the rapture may remain, ironically, a mysterious secret to them.
Augustine, the father of amillennialism, was influenced by the philosophy of Plato. What did Plato teach? How does this Greek philosophy compare with God’s Word, specifically regarding the doctrine of the kingdom? Is the kingdom of God only spiritual?
Will believers one day float on a cloud, play the harp and basically be bored? This secular depiction of the “kingdom” is popular, but of course, it is utterly false. This is not the kingdom that Christ says we must seek first (cf. Mat 6:33). Teaching about the doctrine of the kingdom is important; it was the central theme of Christ’s ministry during his first coming (cf. Mat 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:5-7). Jesus did not refer to an abstract, over-spiritualized kingdom. So important is the doctrine of the kingdom, that Jesus again taught his apostles ‘about the things of the kingdom of God’ during the 40 days before his ascension (Acts 1:3). How can the kingdom of God be understood, and to which kingdom did Jesus refer to in the Gospels?
In Luke’s second book, the apostles asked the Lord when He will restore the kingdom to Israel, thereby implying that the kingdom had not yet been restored to Israel at that time (cf. Acts 1:6). Jesus answered his apostles, saying it is ‘not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority’ (Acts 1:7; NASB). In Luke’s first book, the Pharisees asked Jesus something quite similar, namely when the kingdom of God was coming. Jesus answered the Pharisees, saying that the ‘kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luk 17:20-21; NASB; cf. HCSB, ESV). How can Luke 17:20-21 be understood?
During the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). On the day of ascension, the apostles asked Jesus, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6; NJKV; cf. also NASB, ESV). Jesus said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). What can be deduced from this question and answer?
As part of a civil trial, and in reply to the question whether he is the King of the Jews, Jesus answered Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (Jn 18:36; NKJV). Many replacement theologians, especially a-millennialists, use this text to argue that the kingdom is entirely spiritual, and that Jesus never meant to establish a literal kingdom on the earth. This misunderstanding must be addressed.
Matthew 21:43 does not teach that God has ripped the kingdom of God from Israel and given it to the Church. Bluntly put, I am convinced that is false teaching. In fact, Matthew 21:43 teaches the exact opposite: Jesus guarantees a future blessing for Israel in the millennium (cf. Decker 2010:43). The kingdom of God will be given to a future generation of Jewish leaders and Jewish people who will bear the fruits of it. When that kingdom is restored on the earth, all who believe in Christ will participate in it, whether of Jewish or non-Jewish ethnicity.
If Elon Musk and his SpaceX company’s website is to be believed – if ¬– their goal is to build a ‘Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilization on Mars’. Apparently, the idea is to ‘make life multiplanetary’, because becoming ‘a multi-planet species beats the hell out of being a single planet species’ (Musk 2017:8). How do these dreams square with God’s order, and with God’s mediatorial kingdom on earth?
What will the “seventy sevens” of Daniel 9:24-27 achieve? When did this period begin, and when will the 70th seven end? What does this prophecy have to do with Christ’s first and second coming? The prophecy of the seventy sevens, or 490 years, is very important. This prophecy not only covers the time to Christ’s first coming, but it also covers the 70th seven – and immediately after this 7-year Tribulation Period, Christ will return to the earth. This time He will come as the king to establish the Messianic kingdom.