Famed pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, recently reacted to denominations that have taken more liberal approaches to gay marriage, among other issues, telling The Blaze that “they have no allegiance to the Bible.”
MacArthur, author of “Being a Dad Who Leads,” said that these denominations — like Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which recently voted to allow same-sex nuptials — and their associated seminaries have been skirting scriptural tenets for decades.
He patently described them as “false churches” that fail to teach biblical truths.
‘They Are Satan’s Church’: Famed Pastor’s Tough Message for Christian Denominations Condoning Homosexuality, Jul. 14, 2014
I guess you could say that John MacArthur is at it again. Nearly a year ago, he held his infamous Strange Fire Conference where he and a group of like-minded Pastors took Charismatics and the Pentecostal Church to task for their various failings as MacArthur sees them.
Now, he’s come up with a new label: “Satan’s Church.”
In this case, that appellation is used to describe the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PCUSA) specifically because of their support of and advocacy for gay marriage in their churches. I wonder if there is another conference in MacArthur’s near future to be closely followed by another published book? I suppose he could save himself the trouble, since Michael Brown recently wrote his own book on gays and the church called Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality. Coincidentally, this book was released very soon after Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships which I reviewed a couple of months back. I have also addressed other commentaries on this topic including a brief article describing MacArthur’s advice to Christian parents with gay children.
But believe it or not, I’m not going to talk about gays in the church (or gays at all) in this “meditation.” I’m not super-duper concerned about some liberal churches offering inclusiveness and equality to disenfranchised populations such at the LBGTQ community. If I have anything against the PCUSA church at all, it has to do with their current strategy of disinvestment from Israel. You know, Israel, where there’s currently a war going on (I picked that story from Arutz Sheva just because it is the most recent one published as I write this)?
It seems as if MacArthur’s reputation, what I know of it anyway, is built upon who or what he is against rather than who or what he supports. This is a pretty common tactic and I run into it all the time in the religious blogosphere. Actually, some of the more “notorious” blogs within my awareness have been rather quiet lately. Maybe people are learning that continually engaging in controversy and fomenting “us vs. them” arguments within the community of faith doesn’t really serve the cause of Heaven (but then, what am I doing now?).
Seems MacArthur hasn’t gotten the memo on this yet.
Frankly, if I had to choose between being upset because a church advocates for marriage equality or a church advocates throwing national Israel and the Jewish people under a bus, I’d get upset over the latter. If MacArthur wants to impress me (and I’m sure he doesn’t since my existence would be less than nothing to him…thankfully), he can stand up in support of Israel’s struggle against terrorism.
So I became curious. What does MacArthur think…not of the final destiny of Israel in God’s plan, but of Israel as she exists today?
It wasn’t easy to find out, at least in text form. I finally found a short video (two minutes, eleven seconds) where “Mac” put his opinion in a nutshell.
Basically he says that national Israel today is vulnerable, in constant danger, and the Jews are an abused and beleaguered people. Why? Because of God’s Divine judgment against Israel for rejecting her Messiah.
I hate to sound snarky but I sometimes wonder if MacArthur ever reads the Bible. I know he must because MacArthur is a staunch advocate of reading and studying the Bible (though I have issues with some of his study recommendations). It’s one of his strengths and he encourages every Christian to read the Bible frequently:
Bible study begins with reading. Yet, quite frankly, a lot of people never get to that point. At best, they nibble at the text. They may read books about the Bible or devotional materials loosely based on it, but they don’t read the Bible itself. Good Christian books and magazines that supplement your Bible reading are fine, but there is no substitute for reading Scripture.
Which makes it all the more difficult for me to understand where MacArthur got the crazy idea that God would ever judge or punish Israel for rejecting the Messiah. The Torah is replete with the conditions Israel must meet to obey God and the consequences for disobedience. Over the many years I’ve been reading and studying the Torah and the rest of the Bible, I have never found even a single verse where God directly addresses Israel stating that they would be exiled, abused, punished, judged, beleaguered, or anything else, specifically for rejecting the Messiah.
In fact, the Torah, the whole Tanakh (Old Testament) really, barely addresses the Messiah, particularly in terms of Israel’s acceptance or rejection of him. There are no blessings for recognizing and welcoming the Messiah and no consequences for failing to recognize or rejecting the Messiah.
So Israel’s exile from her Land nearly two-thousand years ago, the destruction of the Temple, the razing of Jerusalem, had nothing to do with “rejecting Jesus.” Orthodox Judaism tends to believe the most recent exile was due to the baseless hatred of one Jew for another although there are other opinions. If you want a more Biblical approach, study Torah Portion Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8) and read a few commentaries for good measure. If you find anything in the curses about rejecting Jesus, please let me know.
While MacArthur’s opinion about the reason for Israel’s exile can’t be supported by the Bible, he also believes Israel continues to exist because God is going to save Israel. In the above-mentioned video, MacArthur states that just before all the nations of the Earth turn against Israel and go to war against her, God will save Israel by having them accept Jesus as the Messiah. Once they do and the worldwide attack against the Jewish nation begins, God will defend Israel:
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.
–Zechariah 12:10-14 (NASB)
In searching for material regarding MacArthur’s views on the modern state of Israel, I came across a 2009 commentary by Russell D. Moore called Should We Support Israel? which says in part:
Dispensationalists have served the church by pointing us to our responsibility to support the Jewish people and the nation of Israel through a century that has seen the most horrific anti-Semitic violence imaginable.
We need not hold to a dispensationalist view of the future restoration of Israel (and I don’t) to agree that such support is a necessary part of a Christian eschatology (and I do).
Novelist Walker Percy pointed to the continuing existence of Jewish people as a sign of God’s presence in the world. There are no Hittites walking about on the streets of New York, he remarked.
There does appear to be a promise of a future conversion of Jewish people to Christ (Rom 9-11). The current secular state of Israel is not the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham; Jesus is.
That seems to be more or less what MacArthur is saying. There’s nothing “special” about current, secular Israel and its only unique quality is that God made an eternal promise to that nation above all other nations and God will fulfill His promise by redeeming Israel in the eschatological future. He seems to miss that Israel’s existence at all is a miracle of God and the beginning of His fulfillment of His promises to restore national Israel and return the Jewish exiles to their Land. In fact, less than a week ago, 400 Jews made aliyah from France even in the face of the current hostilities with Hamas. Those French Jews returning to their homeland are a dramatic indication that God, even now, is making good on His prophetic Word to Israel.
But along with Moore, MacArthur appears to think that all of the Jewish people will turn to Jesus, that is, convert to Christianity (though they’ll remain ethnically Jewish) and only then God will save them from their enemies.
That’s hardly the way I’d put it since such a viewpoint devalues current Israel and all Jewish people living today, and also replaces the Jewish people as a distinct entity with “the Church”.
Based on MacArthur’s video, he likely sees the current battles between Israel and Hamas as just another expression of God’s Divine judgment against an unbelieving Jewish nation. That would make the vicious terrorist organization Hamas an instrument of God’s judgment against the Jews, the latest in a long, long list, according to how a lot of Evangelicals see Jewish history. The Church can be very hard on Israel. More’s the pity.
In Sunday school class recently, when Charlie was asking for prayer requests, I asked for prayer for Israel. Apparently citing Psalm 122:6, he said we (Christians) are commanded to pray for the peace of Israel. You don’t hear about Christians being commanded to do very much typically, particularly in a Church setting. It was refreshing.
Yes, we should pray for the peace of the only nation that has had God as their King, the world’s only fully functional theocracy, and the only nation that is the direct object of all of the New Covenant promises of God.
MacArthur needs another windmill to tilt at and this time he’s chosen the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because of their views on gay marriage. Will gays in the Church be a big focus of God’s as His redemptive plan for Israel and the rest of the world continues to move forward? How many prophecies are there regarding homosexuality within the covenant community vs. how many are there about the New Covenant, the Messianic Kingdom, and the redemption of national Israel? I’ll let you do the math.
For me, at the end of the day, it’s not that I’m against PCUSA, but rather that I stand with Israel because God stands with Israel…and He will take care of her.
“And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
–Genesis 12:2-3 (NASB)
26 thoughts on “John MacArthur: What’s the Biggest Danger to the Church?”
Hmmm… I wonder if MacArthur would include in his conceptualization of “Satan’s Church” a notion like your comment “The Church can be very hard on Israel. More’s the pity.” Certainly the PCUSA justifiably can be accused of this, given their recent affinity for BDS. Or might he lump together “Satan’s Church” along with his view of the “Synagogue of Satan”? Perhaps he would consign them both to a similarly fantastic notion of “h”, “e”, double hockey sticks.
Rather than having a simple litmus test- “Accept Gays therefore Hate Bible”- MacArthur could try a more nuanced approach. How is PCUSA Biblical?
NT Wright argues the Romans caused the diaspora because the Jews did not accept Jesus’ teaching: the Romans were a far more powerful nation, which would not tolerate Jewish desire for independence. Rather than God coming to liberate the Jews, the Romans came to expel them. Jesus’ way- go the extra mile with a soldier, etc- might have allowed survival.
@PL: I suspect MacArthur considers any church “Satan’s Church” that doesn’t follow his highly specific interpretation of the Bible. His views on modern Israel are disturbing because he seems to see the Jewish people as mere “placeholders” and that their existence is just for the sake of saving future Jews when they “convert to Christianity.” Thus modern Israel and present-day Jewish people have no intrinsic value.
@Clare: I have to disagree with Wright because the more direct cause of the exile was the Jewish revolts. I don’t think the fact that many Jews did not accept Jesus as Messiah had a great deal to do with that. Paul’s letter to the Romans seems to indicate that the exile into the diaspora and the schism between Jesus-believing Gentiles and non-believing Jews was/is part of God’s plan for the sake of the Gentile nations. Ultimately (Romans 11), all of Israel will be redeemed and elevated.
As far as MacArthur, I’m not sure his style includes being “nuanced”.
Emmm… In case you haven’t noticed, Claire, we Jews have, in fact, survived, despite many subsequent efforts to oppress and even annihilate us. And in this demonstration of HaShem’s mercy and faithfulness to His ancient promises, as well as our stubborn adherence to His Torah, He has also, in this the present fullness of time, restored our independence in the nation of Israel. Notwithstanding that this gift is only part of what will be fulfilled in the messianic kingdom restoration, we have had more than our share of being compelled by Romans and their successors to go the extra mile. We have done so and nonetheless continued to be hated. Even the symbolic sacrifice of burnt offerings represented in the Holocaust only mitigated this hatred temporarily, and only in a portion of the world. Contrary to NT Wright’s argument to explain the second exile, Rav Shaul suggested that HaShem allowed a partial callousness among Jews against Rav Yeshua to enable gentiles to develop faith and flourish in it, but not that they should boast against “the natural branches”. The second exile of Jews instigated by Rome and continued by Imperial Christianity represents exactly the failure to learn this lesson. Later rabbis noted that a similar callousness by Jews against fellow Jews at that time, resulting in “sinat ‘hinam” (baseless hatred) or factional separatism between them, was the cause of the Temple’s destruction (and the consequent exile). Could all of this have been prevented by a softer Jewish response to Rav Yeshua’s message? Perhaps, but only if there had been a comparably soft response among gentiles in acceptance of HaShem’s longstanding choice of Jews for the special role that He assigned us until there should come a new heavens and earth. The exile cannot be attributed solely to Jewish shortcomings, but must be attributed in even greater measure to the sins of non-Jews.
Christians like MacArthur might also benefit from a softer heart in their criticism of various faults among other Christians or among Jews, acknowledging the log in their own eye.
The jewish people have always defied the odds! The Jewish people will never be uprooted! Am Yisrael Chai!!
ANY ATTACK on the Jewish people is AN ATTACK against the Jewish Messiah Yeshua ben Elohim. And ANY “christian” who speaks as though they’re a disciple of the Jewish Messiah, would NEVER judge or lay blame on the people of H”.
We gentiles need to learn to love our freedom of following the G-d of Israel and teachings of the Messiah of Israel Yeshua.
As well as have a desire to keep Torah, and joyfully do the set time prayers and thankfully partake in Shabbat and the Festivals, and support and fellowship with our believing Jewish brethren and non jewish brethren.
Thats what Shaul said to do and He understood better then us.
Again ANY Anti-Semtisim is Anti-Semitisim against the G-d of Israel and His Son Yeshua and the Jewish People.
AM YISRAEL CHAI!
– Bruce (H” Gentile)
*non Jewish believing (of Yeshua) brothers & sisters
If JM claims Jews are treated badly because they have rejected Jesus, then how does he explain Jews and an Israel that has done well.
How many Neo-Calvinists hold Nobel Prizes? How many have made major contributions to the Arts or Sciences? John Calvin didn’t allow Jews to live in Geneva, and JM seems to be following in the footsteps of the one he calls himself by. It seems all the Neo-Calvinists: Sproul, Piper, etc., are closet antisemites, and now they will be coming out of the closet as this is becoming more socially acceptable.
I understand people who join his church are required to sign a multi-page doctrinal and behavioral agreement. Where the spirit of the Holy One is, there is liberty. Where they feel constrained to control and rule with an iron hand, it is because they are devoid of spirit, and he is the church of satan he is calling everyone else.
The church’s continued vocal obsession with homosexuality is:
1) a distraction from other important issues [such as overshadowing the PCUSA attitude to Israel]
2) a deflection of attention away from other matters of sin that are probably closer to home. It is easier for most christians to speak out against homosexuality, [something they probably don’t struggle with personally] than to address something like covetousness – which affects most of us at one time or another in various forms.
Sort of like how the mainstream news media will focus on Justin Bieber’s latest antics to distract the public from much more critical events.
I would agree that attacking those outside, which we have been warned not to do, is a deflection against the depths of corruption within, which we are admonished to root out. There is just as much, if not more, sin in the “church,” as in the world, and the reason I believe it is worse is that there are no checks and balances that one finds in a secular environment. There is probably just as much homosexuality in the church; just that it is closeted.
You apparently don’t accept either the words of Jesus as having any authority, nor the New Testament as being part of the Bible, when you say that you “can’t find anywhere in the Bible…”, because both indicate God’s judgment on ethnic Jews / Israel for rejecting Christ as Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.
The Old Testament is replete with warnings of God’s judgment for disobeying God: If Christ is God the Son, and God the Father appointed Christ as the only Lord, Saviour, and Judge, and the only Mediator between God and man; and the only expiation for man’s sins, then rejecting Christ is rejection of God, and apostasy.
Matthew 23:34-38 – “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,(35) so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. (36) Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (37) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (38) Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!”
Adding clarification to P.Mariah: Matthew 23:35 37 and 38 need more clarification especially 23:35 so our Masters words aren’t abused by those who may try to seek out a contradiction.
35 “Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
Here is one of those cases that causes a problem for those who insist that the “New Testament” texts, as we have them, are absolutely free from any scribal error. According to 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, it was another Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada that was slain as such, not Zacharias the son of Barchias. (See the comments on this verse in the, Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David Stern, for possible reasons for this error. Also see the footnote to this verse in the DuTillet Hebrew Matthew)
37 “even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings”
It is easy to overlook the fact that Yeshua uses a feminine analogy here. The “feminine” aspect of G-d. Yeshua’s sad words relate back to the previous parables, which though spoken more directly to the Pharisees, were also a condemnation of the people who blindly followed them.
It is interesting to note that Yeshua, who says he broods like a hen in this verse, was instrumental in creation. (John 1:3). The language of the Genesis account similarly states that the Spirit of God also “brooded” over the waters at creation. Bringing these two together, is the Talmud, that says this Spirit of G-d is the spirit of Messiah:
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis II:4 – AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD HOVERED: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. XI, 2).
38 “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
A final rebuke, tying back to the metaphor of the fig tree in 21:19.
Defend the Rebbe at all cost, Yeshua is The Jewish Messiah!
Am Yisrael Chai,
@P. Mariah: You have two arguments in support of your conclusion:
1. If the first century Jews rejected Jesus they rejected God based on their co-equality as Divine. In other words, if A = B and B = C, then A = C. The problem is that it’s unclear how common it was to grasp the Divinity of Jesus, both during his earthly ministry and in the days of Paul. Jewish people knew what the Bible of their time (what you would call the Old Testament) told them, and it’s not at all clear in the Old Testament that the Messiah must be co-equal to God. Also, the Old Testament barely even mentions the Messiah, especially relative to God (the Father).
2. Matthew 23:34-38 as you quoted it. Problem is, from verse 13 through 36, Jesus isn’t addressing Jewish people in general but a subset, some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law (scribes). And what is he chastising them for? Not recognizing that he is the Messiah? No. He’s angry at them for teaching one thing but not doing what they teach. That is, he’s criticizing them for being hypocrites. They are not being faithful to God and living out the practice of the Law as they teach it. They are not being obedient to God by observing the Torah commandments and statutes by being faithful.
Only in verses 37 through 39, does Jesus issue a general pronouncement, a lament really, about how he wanted to gather his people to him “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” but they were not willing. This isn’t saying they weren’t willing to recognize Jesus as Messiah, but they were not willing to repent of their sins (in general), for it they had, in my opinion, Jesus would have initiated the Messianic Kingdom right then and there (I realize that’s a radical thought, and I didn’t come to that conclusion lightly).
Since they didn’t repent, they were going to suffer exile and other terrible trials, just like their Israelite ancestors who went into the Babylonian exile. Did the Israelites of old go into the Babylonian exile for rejecting Jesus? No. Absolutely not. They went into exile for ignoring and killing the prophets who were trying to get them to repent and return to the ways of God.
Jesus’ central message was always “Repent, for the Kingdom of God/Heaven (meaning the Messianic Kingdom) is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). Plain and simple, if you take Jesus’ message and you factor it back into the context of the larger Bible, which at that time was the Old Testament, you see why the current exile (it’s not over yet) was started. I continue to conclude that John MacArthur is incorrect in his interpretation of the Bible that tells him the Jews went into exile and are currently have troubles with Hamas and other Muslim terrorist groups because they “rejected Jesus.”
Sorry if I seem oppositional and I realize this isn’t standard Evangelical doctrine, but I have to write about the Bible as I read it.
So how would JM explain that Christians are being ethnically cleansed from the Mideast? Is it because they, “rejected Jesus,” or are displeasing God in some way? The Christians of the Mideast and other lands that persecute Christians are certainly worse off than Jews, as they have no Israel to flee to.
I wonder if JM and his ilk will consider the destruction of their ministries and churches as evidence they are displeasing God? This is going to happen, as churches and ministries that have property and assets will be targeted, and they will either compromise or shut down. I won’t be shedding any tears for them.
I made this comment on Dr. Brown’ FB page, that the Jesus most Christians believe in is not the same person who walked the face of this earth 2,000 years ago. Interesting that he began a new status, not disproving my comment, but claiming it wasn’t nice to say these sorts of things.
James and the alike: The Kingdom Offer was an entirely Jewish concept for the Jewish people, Also Yeshua was already aware that He would suffer because of the current generations lack of faith in G-d and the Message He proclaimed “repent” (Meaning 1st century generation).
The Talmud affirms what I’m saying but you have to look to Isaiah 60 to get a better understanding of this.
In examining the text of Isaiah 60:22 the ancient Rabbis noticed what they called a “contradiction” in the phrase “I, the L-RD, will hasten it in its time.” The Talmud discusses this verse as follows:
R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written, “In its time [will the Messianic Kingdom come], whilst it is also written, “I [the L-RD] will hasten it!”– If they are worthy, I will hasten it; if not, [it will come] at the due time. [b.San. 98a]
Thus, the Rabbis understood this verse to mean that the L-RD would offer to hasten the Messianic Kingdom, if they were worthy but if not, the Kingdom would not come until its due time.
Tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud also tells us that the Rabbis believed that such an offer was to be made around the Hebrew year 4,000 (around the first Century). The Talmud relates this tradition which it accredits to the school of Elijah:
The school of Elijah teaches: The world is to exist six thousand years. In the first two thousand years was chaos; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years are the days of the Messiah, but through our many iniquities all these years have been lost. [b.San. 96a-97b]
The text goes on to discuss the delay of the Messianic Kingdom, and then says:
Rab said: All the predetermined dates [for the Messianic Kingdom] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds. [b.San. 97b]
This requirement for repentance prior to the Messianic Kingdom is taken directly from the Torah (in Deut. 30:1-6).
Isaiah 60:22 tells us that the L-RD will either “hasten” the Kingdom, or let it come about “in its [due] time”, all depending on the requirement of repentance (Deut. 30:1-6.) This Kingdom offer began in the days of Yochanan the immerser (John the Baptist), as we read in Mt. 11:12:
“Only from the days of Yochanan the immerser until now the Kingdom of Heaven is constricted and the forceful despoil it.” [Mt. 11:12 from the DuTillet Hebrew ms.]
And in Luke 16:16 we read:
“The Law and the prophets were until Yochanan henceforth the Kingdom of G-d is announced but everyone treats it with violence.” [Lk.16:16 from Old Syriac & Peshitta Aramaic]
Yochanan had been announcing, “Repent you of your lives, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near to come” (Mt. 3:2 DuTillet.) And as soon as his work began, Yeshua proclaimed, “Turn you, turn you, in repentance: for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”(Mt. 4:17 DuTillet = Mk. 1:14-15) Now the word for “near” here in the DuTillet and ShemTob Hebrew versions is, in the Aramaic of the Old Syriac and Peshitta the Aramaic equivalent appears. In their book Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, David Bivin and Roy Blizzard Jr. correctly point out that the Hebrew word “karav” means “to come up to and be with,” or “to be where something or someone else is.”; “It’s here! It has arrived!” (p. 88) An example of its usage may be seen in 2Kn. 16:12 where we read “…and the king drew near (karav) to the altar…” meaning he was right there at the altar.
Bivin and Blizzard, however, appear to have a millennial view of the Kingdom, writing “It [the Kingdom] is G-d ruling in the lives of men. Those who are ruled by G-d are the Kingdom of G-d.” (p. 90) In truth, the phrase “Kingdom of G-d” is a variation of the phrase in the Tanach (Old Testament) “Kingdom of H” ” (1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron. 13:8) a term used to describe the Kingdom of Israel. After studying the “Kingdom of G-d” with the Messiah for forty days (Acts 1:3) the emissaries wanted to know if the Kingdom would be restored to Israel “at this time”, Yeshua answers that it is not for them to know the time (Acts 1:6-7).
The truth is that the Kingdom of G-d/Heaven is the restored Kingdom of Israel (see Jer. 23:5-6; Is. 9:6-7; 11 with 1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron.13:8.) The Hebrew text of Mt. 3:2 & 4:17 = Mk. 1:14-15 does indicate that the Kingdom was right there, available, if they would just repent. The passage is a conditional statement with an implied “if” as we find in Jonah 3:4.
Yeshua continued to proclaim this Kingdom offer throughout his career (Mt. 12:28 = Lk. 11:20; Mk. 12:34; Lk.10:9, 11; 17:21) even sending out his emissaries with the same proclamation (Mt. 10:7.) This is the meaning of the passage, “…if you are willing to receive it [the Kingdom], he [Yochanan] is Elijah who is to come.” (Mt. 11:14 see 11:12).
A kingdom rejected. Despite the fact that the Kingdom was being offered as early as the service of Yochanan (John) the immerser, repentance was required for it to be realized (Mt. 3:2-3; Mt.4:17 = Mk. 1:14-15; Dt. 30:1-6). However, from the time of Yochanan forward, the Kingdom was being rejected, “plundered” and “treated with violence” (Mt. 11:12 DuTillet; Lk. 16:16 Old Syriac & Peshitta.) Yeshua compared this rejection to those who would not dance for flute players (Mt. 11:12, 16-19.)
Yeshua also mentions this rejection in Lk. 17 where we read “…the Kingdom of G-d is among you… But first he [Yeshua] must suffer many things and BE REJECTED BY THIS GENERATION.” (Lk. 17:21, 25.) Mt. 21:43 tells us that the Kingdom would be taken from those to whom Yeshua was speaking and given “to a nation” bearing its fruits (the fruits being repentance, see Mt. 3:2, 8) the words “to a nation” in the Aramaic is L’AM meaning “to a people” i.e. another generation (see Lk. 17:21,25; Jer. 31:35-37; Rom. 11) This is also the meaning of Mt.8:11-12 = Lk. 13:28.
It would seem that the Kingdom offer was extended beyond the crucifixion. In his discourse at the Temple in Acts 3:12-26 Kefa repeated the Kingdom offer saying:
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the L-rd, and that He may send Yeshua the Messiah, who was proclaimed to you before, whom heaven must receive until the time of restoration of all things, which G-d has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21)
Thus it would appear that if the people of Israel had entered a national repentance, even then, the Messiah would have returned to restore the Kingdom to Israel right then and there.
This Kingdom offer seems to have continued throughout the entire Acts period, until it expired at the end of the Book of Acts. In Acts 28 “Paul called the leaders of the Jews together… to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the Kingdom of G-d, persuading them concerning Yeshua…” (Acts 28:17, 23). Once again a corporate repentance did not occur “… some disbelieved. So they did not agree among themselves.” (Acts 28:24b-25a). At this time Paul made known that the Kingdom offer had ended saying “…the salvation of G-d has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts. 28:28) this parallels Romans 11:11 “…to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy, salvation has been sent to the Gentiles.” Which ties this concept to the Olive Tree Parable of Romans 11.
The Olive Tree Parable of Romans 11 , when viewed in light of the Kingdom offer, teaches that when the Kingdom offer expired in Acts 28:28 = Rom. 11:11, that wild branches (Gentiles) were grafted into the natural olive tree, but that at some point in the future, the natural branches would be grafted into their own olive tree. This concept of unity between Jews and Gentiles in the one body is echoed in Eph. 2-3 and Col. 1:19-26 a unity which Paul describes as a mystery “which was in the past concealed but now revealed” (Eph. 3:3-6 & Col. 1:26) This is because the time period of the wild branches in the olive tree following the Kingdom offer was in the past concealed. Daniel’s prophecy of weeks of years (Dan. 9:24-27) goes directly from the coming of the Messiah to the final seven year period commonly known as the tribulation. Daniel accounts for no space between the two. This is why there was such expectation that the Kingdom would come in the first century.
There was a mystery, a parenthetical period of time in Daniel’s prophecy which was in the past concealed but later revealed. Had the Kingdom offer been accepted in the first century, then Daniel’s last seven years would have run from 63 C.E. to 70 C.E. These Years seemed in many ways to fulfil endtime prophecies (so much so that post-millenialists claim that the events of Revelations and Mt. 24 occurred during these years). This is because these years WOULD have been Daniel’s final week, had the Kingdom offer been accepted.
It has already been discussed that the Kingdom offer expired in 63 C.E., but why? What happened in 63 C.E.? This year was the year of the death of James the Just. According to the ancient Nazarene writer Hegesippus, James the Just was very popular with the Jewish community in general, and many had come to be believers in Yeshua as the Messiah as a result of his charisma with the people. Certain of James’s enemies, fearing that all Israel would join the Nazarene movement, pressed him to stand on a wing of the Temple and deny Yeshua.
Instead, James repeated the same hybrid of Ps. 110:1 & Dan. 7:13 which Yeshua had recited at his trial. In response, James’ opponents cast him to the ground and stoned him to death (Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius in Eccl. Hist 2:23). Upon the death of James the Just, the Nazarene movement lost its steam. Even within the movement apostate elements began to arise. Furthermore, the Essene and Pharisaic elements of the movement began to polarize. There was no longer any chance that the Kingdom offer would receive national acceptance in time for the Messianic Kingdom to occur in the first century. This was the very year that Acts 28:28 took place.
Now despite the fact that the condition of repentance was not met in the first Century, G-d had still promised that if the Kingdom was not hastened, that it would still take place “in its [due] time.” (Is. 60:22). The emissaries understood, after studying the Kingdom of G-d with Y’shua for forty days, that the Kingdom would eventually be restored to Israel (Acts 1:3, 6-7). Prophecies regarding this Kingdom were yet to be fulfilled (Jer. 23:5-6; Is. 9:6-7; 11), and in the New Scriptures G-d reiterated this promise (Rev. 20:1-6).
Here is why we gentiles have to HELP IN USHERING THE KINGDOM OF G-D BY KEEPING TORAH and SUPPORTING OUR NON BELIEVING JEWISH BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO DO SO, they will then repent and come to the realization that YESHUA IS THERE MESSIAH BECAUSE WE GENTILES ARE KEEPING TORAH AND DOING THE COMMANDS OF H”.
GENTILES MYSELF INCLUDED NEED TO KEEP PRESSING BEYOND THE LETTER OF THE TORAH AND SHOWING THE JEWISH PEOPLE THAT WE GENTILES IN MESSIANIC JUDAISM ARE THE PEOPLE DESCRIBED BY THE PROPHETS!!
Am Yisrael Chai!!!
Also JM? Really? Why give him anymore air time then He needs? You’ll know them by their fruit (i.e.: the way they keep Torah in light of Yeshua)…. We need to be daily study Torah the words of Yeshua and the Hebrew language if we are to better stand against subtle Anti-Semitic jabs of the Nation of Israel overall…… Reading the Bible in HEBREW eliminates doubt and we can better defend the words of our Rebbe!
May His Name Be Blessed,
@Bruce, I’ve discovered many within these churches take like a duck to water to Jewish stuff; that is why the leaders are so afraid of, “Judaizers.” What we have is filled with beauty, meaning and freedom that they don’t have.
Three things to say:
Interesting that the apostles asked Jesus if the Kingdom was to be restored at that time; at THAT TIME… restored. This supports the view, and is a confirmation in my view, that the generation at that time was in exile even while in the Land (as we also know from the history of the Roman Empire), that the Jewish leaders in the province were not free of overlords. So there wasn’t a punishment of exile imposed at 70 CE. The rescue from the present exile, rather, didn’t occur. To recognize this is to break one’s heart, if you have the Spirit.
Bruce cited Eusebius. Eusebius’ “History” has some true recounting in it, but it also has falsehoods and misleading. We have to be careful about it. While I very much appreciate what Bruce wrote here, I have to add that the Church’s embracing of Eusebius from the time of Constantine is fraught with danger. And I don’t mean to imply that Bruce completely accepts Eusebius. For some help in understanding the complexity (and not taking that “History” as essentially part of the “Canon” or rule of “faith” as certain parts of the Church do), see the work of Daniel Gruber — elijahnet.net.
I agree with onesimus that it’s so much easier to continue the “vocal obsession with homosexuality” to try and get people on the Church’s side (as if). Even some of the most heinous people on the planet will get on your bandwagon against “f–gs” or whatever else they want to call them (or even if they don’t use such terminology). Remember that Paul said to expel someone from a local assembly for being MORE sinful than the surrounding (non-believing) Roman culture (which did clearly accept homosexual behavior). It seems to me homosexuality in our own cultural setting was already not accepted (but was tolerated as a hidden shame) when folks like the “Mortal Majority” started harping on it. All we got for this diversion of focus was push-back against hate and a devolving political/Christian situation.
I think I’d modify your statement, Marlene, about tolerating hidden homosexuality in our era to say rather that it was ignored (not tolerated) as long as it remained hidden. It was not tolerated at all when it failed to remain hidden, which later impelled homosexuals toward the current militancy about being accepted when “coming out of the closet”.
Mortal Majority — HAH!!! That should be Moral.
I heard a rabbi made a comment, and I don’t remember his name. He said on this issue, “If for some reason you are not able to keep all the mitzvot, then keep the ones you can.” I think this provides a balance of accepting a person and encouraging them in a godly direction, rather than shutting the door in their face, without compromising truth.
Bruce said: “Also JM? Really? Why give him anymore air time then He needs?”
I don’t really like giving him “air time” since as you probably know, there’s no such thing as “bad publicity,” there’s just publicity. On the other hand, he’s providing a “teachable moment” where I can use his position to illustrate how, from my point of view, he’s majoring in the minors.
@Marleen: The fact that Jesus’ own disciples asked he was going to restore the Kingdom right then and there tells me it was a common belief that when the Messiah came, that’s what he’d do. It was probably one of the things that other Jewish communities pointed to and said, “He can’t be the Messiah,” just as Jewish people do today. It was very difficult to understand why they’d missed their window of opportunity and would have to wait.
@Chaya: I’ve read Rabbi Boteach giving such advice.
This is from Rabbi Ruth Adar: That’s the tricky bit about a life of mitzvot: observant Jews are always on the brink of failure, if not sitting on our behinds in the middle of the broken plates. Perfection is not the point. The point is the pursuit of a better Jew, and a better world – holiness.
Christians are quick to jump on James 2:10 saying that keeping the Torah is only valid if you an keep it perfectly. If not, then don’t keep any of it and instead, rely on the grace of Jesus. The logical fallacy involved though is they assume the only reason a Jew attempts to observe the mitzvoth is for justification before God. That’s not true anymore than a Christian living a Christian lifestyle is justified before God. The faith of Abraham makes it clear what justifies us. Keeping the commandments is a matter of obedience, not trying to earn your way into Heaven. In that Christians and Jews have a lot in common. Both groups are trying their (our) best to obey God, knowing we’re all failing miserably because we are imperfect human beings, but nevertheless striving to become better than who we are, all for the sake of Heaven. It’s not so hard to understand when put that way.
I suspect that JM, his ilk and most Evangelicals have never had an open conversation with an observant Jew, with the purpose of understanding the point of view of the other. It is much easier to apply a belief system to another and shut off any discussion, because you have already made up your mind.
James said: @Marleen: The fact that Jesus’ own disciples asked he was going to restore the Kingdom right then and there tells me it was a common belief that when the Messiah came, that’s what he’d do. It was probably one of the things that other Jewish communities pointed to and said, “He can’t be the Messiah,” just as Jewish people do today. It was very difficult to understand why they’d missed their window of opportunity and would have to wait.
I think you’re right about that. This is another example, though, that Christian assumptions are wrong. They tend to think Israel HAD the Kingdom or was rightly keeping the Law (and THEREBY failing).
There might have been some or many people at that time a well, including Jews (or/additionally people counted as Jews where that say self-naming like in the case of Edomite and corrupt Herod is certainly questionable), who thought they indeed had the Kingdom.