A Quick View of Revelation Through a Christian Lens

trumpets-on-the-lords-dayI was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 1:10-16 (NASB)

Tales of the Messianic Era series

The previous entry is Trouble Breaking into Church with Messianic Prophesy.

Last Wednesday, Pastor and I talked about (among other things) a summary of his understanding of the Book of Revelation, that really confusing, mystic experience of the apostle John, the vision he experienced during his exile on Patmos.

In one of my previous blog posts, I had tried to sketch out my understanding of Pastor’s conceptualization of Revelation but missed the mark. This is my attempt to correct my mistake, but it’s also part of my investigation into “the end times,” that part of Christian/Hebrew Roots/Messianic Jewish doctrine I’ve been avoiding for so very long.

The following (and this time, I took notes) is my summary of Pastor’s summary of Revelation. Basically, I’m just laying a little groundwork for what follows. No conclusions, just the fundamentalist Christian mapping to the return of Jesus, the rapture, the tribulation, and the Messianic Era.

Here goes.

According to Pastor, in Revelation 1, we see the resurrected Jesus. As you might imagine, he’s not quite the way John remembered him during their time together in Israel.

In Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we see the churches, but according to Pastor, after this point in the book, the Church (big C), the entire body of Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus Christ everywhere, disappears, to be taken up to Heaven with Jesus for the seven years of tribulation. For those seven years, there are no Christians on Earth at all.

Chapters 4 and 5 show us the Church in Heaven.

Chapters 6 through 19 show us the tribulation period, God’s judgment and wrath on the unsaved of the Earth. Since there is no mention of the Church in these chapters, Pastor believes the “argument by silence” here supports the Church being absent from the Earth during this time. Those people who come to faith in Jesus during the tribulation are saved, but they are not part of the Church. Those ancient Israelites who lived and died before Jesus are resurrected (Pastor says he’s not quite sure on the timing of this event) and are saved, but they too are not part of the Church.

Chapter 19 says something important.

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

Revelation 19:14 (NASB)

Depending on which Bible translation you use, the phrase could be rendered “armies in heaven” or “armies of heaven.” If it’s of heaven, then it’s most likely talking about angels. But according to Pastor, if it’s in heaven, then it’s likely talking about the Church, the group of Jewish and Gentile believers who were raptured up to Heaven with Jesus but who now follows Jesus back down to Earth. Their being “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” indicates their righteousness and purity. There’s a further implication that in Jesus striking “down the nations,” that as his army, the Church, will also “strike” (Pastor didn’t mention that last part, but seems to make sense, given the context).

Chapter 20 of Revelation is the Messianic reign. I mentioned to Pastor that one chapter being devoted to such an important time period seemed a little skimpy, but he reminded me that there are many prophesies in the Old Testament (Tanakh) that speak at length about the Messianic reign. I can’t wait to map them to the fundamentalist Christian interpretation of events to see how (or if) it all connects.

final_battleRevelation chapters 21-22 are the final battle, the new Heaven and new Earth and progressing into Eternity.

We spent some time covering a little theoretical ground on the rapture before tribulation (which is Pastor’s viewpoint), rapture after tribulation (which Pastor says most churches go with), and rapture in the middle of the tribulation. Pastor believes the following is the critical portion of scripture that supports his perspective and that all other perspectives must somehow explain it in order to be considered valid.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)

Pastor also mentioned there are differences of opinion about when the Messianic Era will occur, but my current opinion is that the wars (all but the final one) must all occur and all of Israel’s enemies must be defeated before we experience a thousand years (or a long but undefined period of time) of peace under the reign of the King.

This all leads back to who and what is the church, the fate of ethnic Israel (Romans 11:26), and what I consider the “splitting” of “saved Israel” (the righteous Israelites such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and so forth) vs. the Jewish people who believed in Jesus and are part of the Church. It still bothers me that Israel has two separate expressions in the Millennial Kingdom, one as saved Israel and one as Israel in the Church (occupying the body of Messiah with the Gentile Christians).

The prophesies in the Tanakh don’t presuppose a divided Jewish people unless you consider those that mention Israel and Judah, such as the following:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:31-32 (NASB)

I don’t want to go too far down that road right now. Like I said, I’m just laying the groundwork for what follows, but if you have any ideas about how the Christian and Jewish points of view about the coming (or return) of Messiah are supposed to fit together, let me know.

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45 thoughts on “A Quick View of Revelation Through a Christian Lens”

  1. Tell your Pastor this: In Zechariah 14 you read “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.” (verse 1), “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (verse 4) [See also Acts 1:11-12 as Yeshua will return upon the mount of Olives, so here Zechariah is talking about the return of Yeshua], “But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” (verse 7) [See also Mark 13:32 when Yeshua tells that only the Father knows that day.] So here it is… this is the LAST DAY of this era, of this world, the Olam HaZeh, the second coming of Yeshua… Your Pastor will agree with this… Then, go to the passage that he mentions as critical to support his perspective and READ WITH HIM that “the dead in Christ will rise FIRST. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the CLOUDS”… so your Pastor will agree that the dead have to rise FIRST and then the “rapture”… Now, he will tell you that this event happens 7 years before the FINAL DAY… Then TELL HIM to go to John 6, verses 39, 40, 44 and 54, and your Pastor will read by himself that Yeshua will rise the dead in the LAST DAY, when He returns and His feet stand on the mount of Olives… not 7 years before…

  2. Well, you cited 1Thes.4:13-18. You might also consider 1Cor.15:51-52, which cites a “last trumpet” (final shofar sounding?). If these are considered in the context of Revelation’s seven trumpets cited in Rev.8, the last of which is finally sounded in Rev.11, and the reference to a first resurrection in Rev.20:5-6 that precedes the thousand-year reign, then it would appear that this “catching away” (“rapture”) is to occur sometime during the second half of the “tribulation” (not before it). Since this “rapture” is preceded by the resurrection of those who have been “asleep” in Messiah, who will certainly be among those mentioned in Rev.20:6 who will be priests and rulers who reign with the Messiah for a thousand years, it would seem that this “rapture” must coincide with the “first resurrection”. The only other resurrection mentioned is the final one after the thousand years for the “rest of the dead” in Rev.20:5. Now, curiosity alone should raise some question about which of these two resurrections applies to the Jewish people who have been waiting to participate in the messianic era. If they must wait for the second one, then they will miss the thousand years of messianic reign. On the other hand, if they are to be resurrected by Messiah ben-David to experience the promised kingdom, are they somehow included in that first resurrection along with Messiah’s deceased disciples? Maybe there is something to be investigated in connection with the doctrine about the “hidden Messiah” who is among his people even if not explicitly recognized or acknowledged by them? As the famed fabled Alice remarked: “Curiouser and curiouser!”

  3. You’re welcome James. I forgot to mention that I have been dealing with this issue for a long time, even before knowing or getting into the correct Jewish context of reading the scriptures. One thing I have found: All those who believe that the “secret rapture” will occur before the great tribulation (7 years before the second coming of Yeshua), use the very same verses and even though they have an unusual interpretation, they won’t read them as they should. I mean, that no matter what you tell them the verses say, they will stick to their interpretation, and their ears will be shut to your explanations. That is why I use the sequence mentioned, because those verses just hit the weak side of their perspective : The resurrection occurs on the last day, not 7 years before, as Yeshua tells us not once but four times !!! BTW, Sorry about using upper case letters in my first comment, I was not shouting 🙂 just wanted to make emphasis in those words… Shalom !

  4. I have to admit to having a problem with “the rapture” as the Church understands it. I also have a problem with Pastor saying that just “the Church,” those people who came to faith in Jesus after Acts 2, are resurrected and raptured with him into Heaven, leaving the pre-Acts 2 Israelites to be resurrected at some later time.

    Why wouldn’t all the faithful of Israel and among the Gentiles be raised? After all, in Matthew 27:51-53, immediately after Jesus dies, many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. These most assuredly were Jews but we have no indication that they were people who had recently died. They could have been “saints” who were dead hundreds or even thousands of years.

    I don’t understand why all of the faithful in God would not be raised up at the same time and why the death and resurrection of Jesus or Acts 2 should form the demarcation lines? After all, Messiah is the culmination of Jewish history, not the deviation from it. All of the ancient Israelite people who awaited Messiah faithfully and followed the commandments of God should not be treated as second-class citizens in the Kingdom just because Christian doctrine teaches such a thing.

  5. “All of the ancient Israelite people who awaited Messiah faithfully and followed the commandments of God should not be treated as second-class citizens in the Kingdom just because Christian doctrine teaches such a thing.”

    Lol James, don’t worry, Christian doctrine and dogma, just like Jewish doctrine and dogma, isn’t “the boss of” God. He’s graciously given us a glimpse into His plan but He will carry it out without being bound to by the His creation puts Him into, thankfully.

  6. There are other “issues” with the “Church” understanding of the “rapture” before the great tribulation… for example, they say that the “Church” cannot go through the great tribulation, because at that time, HaSatan will have power over everybody, and the Holy Spirit cannot be placed under HaSatan dominion. (Yes… that’s what they say…) And they use these verses “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8) So they say that the “he” be taken out of the way is the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in the “Church”. But… here comes the problem of this perspective: If the Holy Spirit cannot be present at the great tribulation, then how will the ones “left behind” will ever convert, be born again, be saved, be convinced of sin in order to make Teshuvah ??? “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” (John 16:7-8)

  7. Actually Alfredo, one of the episodes of the FFOZ TV show briefly mentioned that believers would be raptured with Jesus to Jerusalem rather than to Heaven, thus stating that we would all be here through all of the tribulation and so forth. I think fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity is going to have a tough time with this one.

  8. It’s very interesting that evangelical Christianity always complain that there are many dogmas that the catholic church has invented lately… but they don’t seem to know that this pre-tribulation “rapture” and the so called dispensational doctrine was invented back in 1830 by John Nelson Darby. Before that, nobody ever taught such a thing.

  9. I’ve always found that strange as well, Alfredo. To the best of my understanding, Peter, Paul, James, and the other apostles shouldn’t have expected a “rapture” in the way the Church does today.

  10. If you keep in mind that Rav Yeshua will be returning with the hosts (i.e., armies) of heaven, in order to wage the battles that are required to depose the anti-messiah and to establish the messianic kingdom, then it is not hard to envision the “rapture” as akin to a military “call up” to join up with those hosts, which are headed for earth. The administrative jobs that will be needing people in Jerusalem will mostly be filled only after the battles have been won, I suspect. So the “call up” will occur shortly before the end of the “trib”, such that those who have been thus drafted will spend the duration of the remaining “wrath” period assisting with these battles and the subsequent “mopping up’ operations. I really don’t see any description anywhere of anyone sitting on the sidelines in heaven, waiting for the messianic era to begin. I suspect that most folks who have been taught about the “rapture” have never been encouraged to think about it practically.

  11. I tend to agree, PL. I think a lot of believers are in for quite a shock when all the “action” begins and they’re not sitting pretty in Heaven, so to speak.

  12. Another issue: evangelical Christianity uses the following verses in order to declare a “secret rapture” before Yeshua’s second coming : “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and they say “See??? Jesus will come as a thief in the night, so no one will have any clue when He is coming for His Church”… but they clearly and deliberately omit reading the following verses : “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
    Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3-5) So how about that? Being children of light keeps us from being overtaken by that day as a thief… Yeshua clearly said : “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (Matthew 24:30-33) So what are those signs? Our Father’s appointed times, our Father’s Moedim !!! The more you know about Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, the more you will know the signs when things begin to happen !!!

  13. @James: You say “I think a lot of believers are in for quite a shock when all the “action” begins and they’re not sitting pretty in Heaven”

    Where do you think the “falling away” comes from?
    “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3)

    Sadly, many believers that “believed” that they would be sitting in Heaven… will no longer have Emunah…

    “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

  14. You say “I think a lot of believers are in for quite a shock when all the “action” begins and they’re not sitting pretty in Heaven”

    Where do you think the “falling away” comes from?

    That’s what I’m afraid of…for large numbers of my fellow believers.

  15. That is why is so important to get things right… and explain them to as many as we can… it’s not about showing off being right… it’s about speaking out loud things that are very important… but it is also true, that when people have been taught something “too good to be true” such as a “rapture” before tribulation, it is very difficult for them to hear our words… that is why I use Zechariah 14, John 6, and those other verses, because those verses are not used in their preconceived perspective, and they show clearly that the resurrection of the dead happen on the last day of this era, just when Yeshua returns and begins the Millennial Kingdom and the first of the Moedim that is celebrated by all nations is Sukkot. There’s not a chance for a 7 year period between the “secret rapture” and the second coming of Yeshua.

  16. We have to be careful using the word “right” because we could easily set ourselves up as a bunch of “Mr. Know-It-Alls”. Also, presenting an alternate viewpoint would have to be done delicately, since lots and lots of Christians have their emotions totally wrapped up in “being raptured to Heaven with Jesus.”

    I do agree however, that not informing believers that their dreams may not come true would result in many/most of them being in danger of losing their faith when the rapture as they understand it doesn’t happen.

  17. James, fun topic… I had to join.

    I don’t understand why all of the faithful in God would not be raised up at the same time and why the death and resurrection of Jesus or Acts 2 should form the demarcation lines? After all, Messiah is the culmination of Jewish history, not the deviation from it. All of the ancient Israelite people who awaited Messiah faithfully and followed the commandments of God should not be treated as second-class citizens in the Kingdom just because Christian doctrine teaches such a thing.

    Agreed, that would absolutely absurd. The scriptures are clear, everyone will be raised together, no one will put on the resurrection(immortality) without each other, this is a corporate ordeal, not an individual here or there. The scriptures describe two resurrections, one for the righteous and one for the wicked. The first Resurrection is for the righteous, which occurs at the beginning of the Messianic Age, the second Resurrection occurs at the end of the Messianic Age. This right here eliminates the suggestion of different resurrections for different people, if Abraham is righteous, and the scriptures are clear that he was, by his Faith, then he will participate in the resurrection of the righteous, and this would go for anyone before Yeshua. Or we have to stuff him in the wicked resurrection and I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to do that. Also, if we read about the Messianic Kingdom in the Gospel’s, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are there and many will come to dine with them.

    On a different note, Revelation speaks of the Body of Messiah in Chapter 12, which the Pastor says is gone, the reason the Pastor most likely does not acknowledge the the believers in Chapter 12 as the Church, is because the Women is described as Israel and the believers are described as those who “hold the testimony of Yeshua and keep God’s commandments.” This is also a problem for Bilateral Ecclesiologist, because calling the “Church” Israel, is a big, no no. For me as a One Law, this dilemma does not exist. The “Church”, as is given the term today, that being a gentile body of believers for BE groups and for Christianity that being the “New Israel”, “old Israel” gone, does not fit in this chapter, the idea that the Church/Body of Messiah is something separate of Israel is a form of replacement theology in itself, it is part of Israel, as Yeshua is the King of Israel, and his body is not separated from his kingdom. Those who are in him are part of his Kingdom and thus his people. So the reverse replacement theology offered by BE and the regular replacement theology taught by Christianity, do not jive with this chapter or any aspect of the Apostolic writings… as you said, where does the “Church” fit in any of the Tanakh’s view on the Messianic Age. Even in Revelation, when all is said in done, we have a memorial to Israel, the Church I guess never made it or at least they were not honorable enough to be mentioned or to have a memorial… 😛

  18. I’ll reserve judgment on all this for the time being, mainly because I don’t know enough about it to render an opinion. I certainly didn’t start this series of blog posts to open up an MJ/OL/HR debate. I just want to look at the scriptures and see if I can reconcile the Jewish and Christian interpretations of the coming/return of Messiah. Today’s blog is just pouring the concrete for the foundation and taking the opinions of commenters such as yourself, Zion.

  19. Pardon, Zion, but clearly you do not understand the definition of bilateral ecclesiology (“BE”, as you called it). BE simply means that there are two segments in the “ecclesia” (i.e., the “called out” ones), one Jewish and one not Jewish. Any mentions of the ecclesia in Yohanan’s Revelation (or anywhere else in the apostolic writings) would refer to both except where Israel is singled out explicitly. And Israel is indeed singled out explicitly, just as non-Jews are singled out for specific attention in the discussion of Acts 15. Your reference to a “reverse replacement theology” cannot be levied as an accusation against the BE perspective, because no one is being replaced or superseded in such a view. References to “One Law” (or even one Torah), where Torah is to be applied equally and justly to all participants in the Jewish community where non-Jews also “sojourn”, do not ever eliminate the distinctive roles in Torah that differentiate between Jews and non-Jews, just as Torah defines also distinctions between the roles of Cohens, Levites, and the rest of Israel, and defines also distinctions between the roles of men and women. “The Church” may indeed serve in a modern sense as a term referring to the non-Jewish segment, but only if it is severed from the original more inclusive term “ecclesia”.

  20. PL, my reference was in relation to what most consider the “Church”… If a gentile segment of believers exist outside/distinct from Israel, as both Christianity and BE claim, then both are a form of replacement theology. If BE, claims gentiles are part of Israel, then they contradict their own teachings. If Yeshua has two body’s then that also is a contradiction in and of itself. My point is not to say gentiles lose their distinction, and Jews lose theirs, as that clearly does not happen, just as a women and men do not lose their distinction, yet they are both part of the same Ecclesia, not a separate entity as BE suggest, my point is that there is only one Ecclesia as scripture teaches and there is only one Body. To say there are two ecclesia, is to say there are two body’s of Messiah. This is a dilemma that scripture does not suggest, and yet it shapes our view of the scriptures, with conclusions such as: “the Church will be in heaven eating a nice ham dinner, while Israel is on the earth suffering through the tribulation…”

    Per James, the reason I brought this up, is because the status of how the events work in Revelation, at least for most, including the Pastor, is to focus on the identity of those who are there. The Pastor made the point that the “Church” is not mentioned after a certain period of chapters, and my point was that the Church is not mentioned again anyways, they must disappear into the ethereal heaven, because it all shifts to Israel and her offspring, and those who testify of Yeshua and keep God’s commandments.

  21. Alright, Zion, let’s try this one more time. Bilateral means “two-sided”, which is a description of the two segments of the single ecclesia. Non-Jews are not part of Israel — they never become part of Israel or its identity — they are privileged to share in the “nourishment” that belongs to Israel. Where previously only Israel was the ecclesia (i.e., called out for HaShem’s special purpose as a light to the nations and a blessing to the whole earth), now some non-Jews may participate as those who are called out for yet another distinctive purpose relating to HaShem’s goal of redemption for the whole of humanity. The BE perspective is not saying there are two separate ecclesias, but two sets of purposes for each side of a single ecclesia. If you wish a body analogy, think of a right hand and a left hand, not two separate bodies. Is this now clear to you? The fact that non-Jews remain distinct from Israel just as they have always been is not replacing anything. Replacement theology in its simplest terms is a view that Yeshua-believers replace the Jews as HaShem’s chosen people and become some sort of new “Israel” in their place, thereby usurping all the scriptural references to Israel for themselves. You cannot logically associate this notion with a BE perspective in any way. Your attempt to do so indicates that you did not understand the definition of replacement theology any better than you understood the definition of bilateral ecclesiology.

    As for what becomes of “the church” if it is not mentioned as such after some point in the revelation, it does not require anyone to disappear into some remote heaven for this to be so; it could be merely that the distinction becomes irrelevant to the focus of attention on where the action is taking place, which is with Jews and in Israel.

  22. PL, your explanation supports something I’ve been trying to nurture in my thoughts. If we define all people faithful toward God as part of the ecclesia, or body of believers, and that body began very early in Biblical history, say with Abraham, then that body advanced forward in time across the pages of the Tanakh and entered the world of the New Testament, where a new mechanism allows Gentiles to join the ecclesia without converting to Judaism.

    That supports there always being only one body of believers across human history. We don’t have “the Church” and “Israel” being separated in Acts 2. We continue to have a believing ecclesia and the rest of the non-believing world, which can include Jews and Gentiles. I still must say that non-believing Jews inherit promises from God because they are part of Israel, but it is the ecclesia which began with Abraham that will inherit the blessings of Messiah, though as you say, that body is like a single unified coin with two sides, Jewish and Gentile.

    Still thinking out loud.

  23. PL, the idea of a body analogy fails the definition of bilateral, as a hand and hand are the same, despite being two different hands, they still have the same abilities and goals, they even look the same, BE does not consider Jews and gentiles the same or to even have the same rules or callings, which would in turn create two bodies, because they have different instructions, second, to be honest to the body analogy, BE should be hexalateral ecclesiology, being that the distinction is not just jews and gentiles, but men and women, slaves and free, etc. However that does not speak to the body as whole, they are all responsible to each other. From the perspective you offer, gentiles exist outside of Israel, and thus do not need Israel, but then you say they are nourished by “something” that belongs only to Israel, it would seem you can’t make up your mind?

    The other side of replacement theology is that gentiles in Messiah do not need Israel for anything, gentiles are a separate entity that can exist without Israel, this in essence is exactly at the core of most replacement theology, and BE, at least in your description, which promotes this to a certain extant.

    As for what becomes of “the church” if it is not mentioned as such after some point in the revelation, it does not require anyone to disappear into some remote heaven for this to be so; it could be merely that the distinction becomes irrelevant to the focus of attention on where the action is taking place, which is with Jews and in Israel.

    Are there no Jews in the “Church”? So if Jews and Gentiles make up the Church, and Jews are Israel, then who is Israel apart from the Jews in the Church? The identity overlaps, it cannot be separated or again it distorts the message. I also don’t see how your view answers the dilemma suggested by Messianic Jews and non-Messianic Jews, one being part of the Body of Messiah and the other not being part of the Body of Messiah…

  24. James

    That supports there always being only one body of believers across human history. We don’t have “the Church” and “Israel” being separated in Acts 2. We continue to have a believing ecclesia and the rest of the non-believing world, which can include Jews and Gentiles. I still must say that non-believing Jews inherit promises from God because they are part of Israel, but it is the ecclesia which began with Abraham that will inherit the blessings of Messiah, though as you say, that body is like a single unified coin with two sides, Jewish and Gentile.

    Agreed, obviously we would disagree on the finer details, especially concerning what defines distinctions, but in the most general terms, this is how I view it.

  25. The view your pastor believes is the dispensationalist view, not THE Christian view.

    It’s a view I held myself during my early Christian life – it was the view my church taught, and it was the view expressed in popular writings of the time. My view changed when I studied the issue for myself through scripture alone – turning to see what the bible actually said rather than listening to how others were interpreting and teaching the subject of end times.

    I came to realise that most end time teaching is passed from one generation of teachers to the next, mostly by-passing scripture. At “best” the teaching takes a few choice verses out of context as “proof” of its truth.

    Overall I have found that the broad view, big picture of end times is NOT a hard thing to understand. The main problems arise when we try to draw up detailed time tables: something that scripture was never intended to be used for.

  26. James said: “,… thus stating that we would all be here through all of the tribulation and so forth. I think fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity is going to have a tough time with this one.”

    Maybe one reason for a falling away?

    2 Thessalonians 2:3
    Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition

    and

    Matt 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…”

  27. @Onesimus: I think Alfredo said something similar a few bajillion comments ago.

    @Zion: Remember, I did say that the Gentiles and Jews form two sides of the same coin. The Jewish side is “believing Israel while the Gentile side reaps the blessings of the promises God made with Israel. We are one in Messiah, and yet we are not identical. Like “heads” and “tails” of a coin. They’re different sides but part of the same coin.

    I know the metaphor is imperfect, but it’s the best I can come up with off the top of my head.

    And saying all that, remember this blog post is about examining the end times and trying to view the scriptures from a Jewish perspective.

  28. And saying all that, remember this blog post is about examining the end times and trying to view the scriptures from a Jewish perspective.

    James, I understand, I find who the players are to be a very important part to understanding end times prophecy, if we can’t identify who is who, then we will not have a correct perspective. I realize looking at what I stated seems like a derailment, but again it is very important to proper perspective. Just as the Pastor based much of his understanding on where the Church is during the tribulation, based on the Church’s identity.

  29. In the end Zion, that means there are going to be different groups of believers traveling forward to make different identifications. I’m not sure how the differences between your viewpoint and mine will play out. Although I don’t think I’m Israel, I am part of the ancient ecclesia, allowed to enter without converting to Judaism and the benefactor of the blessings that are the consequence of God’s covenant with Abraham. When that ecclesia is called to join Messiah, the Jewish and non-Jewish people in that body will go with him.

  30. James, you just LOVE dancing on the third rail… and now you jump into eschatology?? LOL!! Oh my! You only thought you had a bumpy ride before… At least most Messianics are of the late-trib, pre-wrath, or post-trib persuasion. Christendom in general is WAY more messy…

    I agree with Alfredo on most points… A great book that tackles all of the positions and collates Scripture with an eye toward ‘making all the pieces fit’ is Robert Van Kampen’s ‘The Rapture Question Answered: Plain and Simple.’ Highly recommend it!

    From a purely Hebraic perspective, when has God ever taken His people out of tribulation? He always preserved them in the midst of it…. Noah, Israel in Egypt, Jews in Susa, etc… All Scripture seems to point in that directions. (I believe we are here until Yeshua’s return, then, like PL says, we’ll be called into service and meet our King as He comes in the clouds to land in Jerusalem.)

    Another phrase to pay close attention to: ‘Day of the Lord.’ What is the Biblical definition, not Christendom’s definition… They are different.

    Peace, and have fun. Keep it light!

  31. @Zion — Rav Shaul answered your protest about one body containing both Jews and non-Jews in an analogy only a bit more elaborate than mine, in 1Cor.12:12-27. Right and left hands are not identical, though they are similar mirror-images of each other, and they tend to be used for different purposes. For example, only one side is preferred when writing. Would you have been happier about two sides and different functions if I had suggested right hand and left foot? Nonetheless, clearly we are describing two sides of a single “bilateral” body. My choice of the term “nourishment” was borrowed from the olive tree analogy in Romans, where the grafted branches share the nourishment of the Jewish tree. Regardless, analogies are merely illustrations and are not exact representations of the entity that they are used to describe. The point of these analogies, however, is to assert that two distinctly different groups may nonetheless participate in a single enterprise. Jews and non-Jews are not the same and they do not have the same calling, though some of what they do as each pursues HaShem’s righteousness will be similar.

  32. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 seems to be a key verse in understanding both the unity and diversity within the body of Messiah, although Paul doesn’t seem to stop at being “bilateral.” Even within the Jewish members of the body, there’d be distinctions (male, female, cohen, prophet, teacher, and so on) as well as within the Gentile membership (male, female prophet, teacher, and so on). But verse 13 specifically states “Jews and Gentiles,” so the distinction between them remains, even though they were (and are) all “baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body.”

  33. Rav Shaul answered your protest about one body containing both Jews and non-Jews in an analogy only a bit more elaborate than mine, in 1Cor.12:12-27. Right and left hands are not identical, though they are similar mirror-images of each other, and they tend to be used for different purposes.

    The problem with BE and Paul’s analogy here, is that Paul has the body still connected, while a BE perspective has the hand going to work, while the foot stays at home. Having different sets of rules in the case of lifestyle, such as gentiles not being required to keep the dietary laws and jews being required, would never work in a community setting, in reality making two body’s or two ecclesia… So while from Paul’s analogy, slaves and free do not lose their distinction, or Jews and gentiles, or men and women, they are none the less still part of the same community/body. So despite having different ministerial callings in the body, they are not distinct to the extant that they are separated. But the point to make here, is where does all this play in prophecy, concerning the ecclesia existing as one Body, not two, and how and what Jews and Gentiles of this ecclesia will be doing while also acknowledging those who are not part of the body of Messiah, that being the non-believing Jews and non-believing Gentiles.

  34. Slaves and freemen are a good example. Imagine a slave and his master both being part of the ecclesia. As far as salvation and both belong to Messiah through the Spirit, they are absolutely equal. Nevertheless, the slave is the slave and serves the master. I’m not sure how it would work within a religious community (at worship, for instance). Would the slave, though free in Messiah, still serve the master as he would when outside the immediate religious community? It seems difficult to imagine that in the master’s home, the slave would serve, but suddenly in the synagogue or worship setting, they’d be bosom chums.

    Now translate that to Jews and Gentiles. How would the differences manifest. That’s one of the important questions asked in the Rudolph and Willitts book Introduction to Messianic Judaism, and the book didn’t provide a definite answer. It’s still one being wrestled about within the various MJ communities. It may have also been handled differently in different communities within the ancient body of Messiah. In “mixed congregations,” its likely that both Jews and Gentiles ate the same “kosher” food. Just because Gentiles aren’t obligated doesn’t mean they are forbidden. Obviously in a synagogue setting, they’d be worshiping on Shabbat, so it’s not like Shabbat was forbidden the Gentiles either (although it may have been a problem if the Gentiles were slaves, servants, shopkeepers, or others who would have demands made on their time on Shabbat).

    Also keep in mind that Judaism was a legal religion in the Roman empire, but since the Gentiles weren’t Jewish, the empire wouldn’t consider them part of Judaism, thus they could be charged with “atheism” for worshiping within an unauthorized religious sect.

    I know we’d all like a nice, neat solution to this matter, but it doesn’t exist. The Book of Acts is a perfect record of the continual struggle Paul had in forging a Jewish/Gentile community within the Way, and many believing Jews never were able to reconcile non-converted Gentiles into their ranks.

  35. The slave and free analogy within BE would only work if the slave remained in his distinct congregation and the free in his distinct congregation, also there would need to be distinct congregations for women and men. Meaning, if we are consistent with BE theology, we have to conclude the following.

    In “mixed congregations,” its likely that both Jews and Gentiles ate the same “kosher” food.

    Exactly, it is the only way an ecclesia could work, without creating a separate ecclesia, which then is two ecclesia…

    Just because Gentiles aren’t obligated doesn’t mean they are forbidden.

    This is assuming the context, if a gentile is in a mixed congregation (Jew and Gentile), he would be obligated to the rules of the community, he does not have a choice, other than to form his own community, effectively creating two different ecclesia.

    I know we’d all like a nice, neat solution to this matter, but it doesn’t exist.

    Despite both sides (Jew and Gentile) being “anti” something… I think their is a solution, but it requires both sides setting aside their pride. But I am sure we both can agree, that is not going to happen any time soon.

    Anyways, back to how this concerns the book of Revelation, I don’t think we can have a proper understanding of eschatology unless we understand who these groups represent… Will you be writing a series of blogs from your perspective on the book of Revelation? I am interested to hear who you think all the players are from a BE perspective.

  36. The slave and free analogy within BE would only work if the slave remained in his distinct congregation and the free in his distinct congregation, also there would need to be distinct congregations for women and men. Meaning, if we are consistent with BE theology, we have to conclude the following

    I’m not even sure what you’re talking about, Zion. I’m not attempting to fulfill some sort of philosophy but to understand how the Bible describes a Jewish religious stream composed of both Jewish and non-Jewish members who have a unity and yet retain distinctions. There would likely be some synagogues that had mostly Jewish members and some groups of mostly Gentiles. Then there would be groups with both. My guess is that, over time, Gentile practice varied somewhat from the Jewish or mixed groups. Among Jewish believers, Gentiles likely maintained the same sorts of behaviors, but apart from them, they either would have maintained a “Jewish” practice or relaxed their practice somewhat. There’s no way to tell from the Biblical record however, we do have a clue.

    Exactly, it is the only way an ecclesia could work, without creating a separate ecclesia, which then is two ecclesia…

    In his letter to the Romans, he warned both Jewish and Gentile members in the congregation not to become arrogant. Some of the Jews were trying to be “heavy handed” in imposing Jewish practice on Gentiles, and Gentiles were getting a little “cocky” in their freedom (and in their rapidly growing numbers). I think Paul saw a time when the Gentiles in the ecclesia did just what you said…formed their (our) own ecclesia and over time increasingly separated themselves from Jewish religious practice and theology.

    In our discussions we sometimes cast the Messianic Jews as those who won’t let the Gentiles “into the club” so to speak, but in ancient days, the Gentiles couldn’t wait to get out. If the Temple hadn’t been destroyed and the Jewish believers scattered, forcing a greater “administrative” role by the Gentiles over “the Way,” I think the Gentiles, by sheer weight of numbers, would have “taken over” eventually, to the point where Jews would no longer feel welcome in their own Jewish faith communities. They would have no choice to do what history said they did…eventually fall away from faith in Yeshua as Messiah and return to the synagogue that was completely apart from the rapidly growing Christian church in the first several centuries of the common era.

    To answer your last question, I’ll be writing a series of blogs about the coming/return of the Messiah and the end times. It won’t exclusively be on the Book of Revelation, since most of the information we have about the Messianic Era is contained in the prophesies in the Tanakh. The next one is scheduled to be published on Sunday morning. I hope you’ll consider following the series and adding your input.

    As far as a “BE perspective” goes, the only person I’m representing is me.

  37. Amen, James, about not trying to represent some perspective labeled “BE”.

    @Zion — I would like to recommend to you that you stop demonizing whatever it is you think “BE” is, because your comments clearly indicate that you seriously misunderstand what the perspective is and what its implications are. If you wish to disagree with someone’s view, you must first understand what actually constitutes that view. You can’t simply set up a straw man, call it by a label, and then think that by arguing with your straw man you can demolish the real view which corresponds with your label. You’re simply way off target.

  38. PL, my argument was based on “BE” in a real life application, I know what “BE” theoretically believes, which does not involve two ecclesia, I was only pointing out the problems of “BE” theory, if applied in a real life scenario…

  39. Real life scenario: one people made up of distinctly different but equally valued members of various sizes, shapes colours and function. Distinctions that God created and God maintains – even if we try to make them conform to a theological image of our own creation.

    But all of this is moving a long way from the topic of James’s article.

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