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Second Quarter 2018 April • May • June
COMMENTARY—PREPARATION FOR THE END TIME
Week 13: June 23–29
COMMENTARY ON "The Return of Our Lord Jesus"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Let’s first examine the Bible verses for this week’s lesson—but not with the Adventist method they claim to have learned from Isaiah 28:10:
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
Instead, we will use the Isaiah 28:13 method:
And the word of the Lord will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
The texts for this week’s study are: Isa. 13:6, 9; Matt. 24:30, 31; Dan. 2:34, 35; 2 Tim. 4:6–8; 2 Thess. 1:7–10. We will look closely at these passages in context to determine what they meant to the original audience when the writers recorded them.
First, the lesson asks what Isaiah 13:6, 9 teach about the second coming of Jesus. But this chapter is not primarily about the end of time. Instead, its context is the certain future judgment coming on the nation of Babylon. Look at verses 19–20, for example:
Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents; there no shepherds will rest their flocks. But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.
Next, let’s look at Matthew 24. It tells us Jesus’ teaching about the destruction of the temple and signs of theeEnd times. Let’s begin with verses 1–3:
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.
“Do you see all these things?” He asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.
“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
In this chapter Jesus is telling the disciples of events which will occur in their lifetimes. See verses 9–16:
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. “So when you see standing in the holy place ’the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
With our own historical knowledge it is not difficult to see the accuracy of Jesus’s words regarding this event when the homeland of the Jews was destroyed.
Virtually all Christian interpretations of biblical prophecy agree that several prophecies were fulfilled in or before AD 70. Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple (Luke 21:6; Matthew 24:2) and, some would argue, the Jewish genocide at the hands of Rome (Luke 23:27-31). Historically, these events align extremely well with Jesus’ statements.
There is broad agreement within most Christian interpretations that these prophecies were literally fulfilled in AD 70.
While some of the events Jesus mentioned in Matthew 24 may yet be fulfilled in the future, this chapter is not a source of proof-texts to support Adventist eschatology.
What about Daniel 2?
Daniel 2 is one of the prophecies which Jesus says began its fulfillment when He came and brought with Him His kingdom during His life on earth.
Daniel says this in chapter 2 verses 44–45:
“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
Jesus says this about His kingdom:
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed. Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
Jesus makes sure we understand that the issue is not eschatology but recognizing and receiving His kingdom. He emphasizes this fact in several other places in Matthew:
I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 8:11).
But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8:12).
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness (Mt. 9:35).
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Mt. 10:7).
In 2 Timothy Paul explains that he witnessed Jesus and His kingdom during his lifetime. In verses 1–5 he writes this to his protege Timothy:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Only after he exhorted Timothy to keep on doing the kingdom work God gave the church to do, did he write about his own nearness to death. He wasn’t primarily teaching eschatology; he was reflecting on his life of sacrifice for the sake of Jesus, and in the context of encouraging Timothy to be consistent in teaching the word and delivering sound doctrine to his flock, Paul wrote the verses the lesson asks us to read: 2 Timothy 4:6–8:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Finally, in 2 Thessalonians 1 we receive a promise that through all the troubles the early Christians were having with persecution by the Jews and also by the Romans, Jesus would take care of them. The lesson asks us to read verses 7–10, but we will read them in the context of the chapter. Following is 2 Thessalonians 1:3–12:
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[b] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In context, this passage is a reassurance and a great statement of hope for believers. Adventists see the certainty of final judgment and include these words in their eschatology which is part of their “salvation package”. In context, however, these fearsome events will not touch believers. Paul is reassuring the Thessalonians that God sees them and has not forsaken them as they endure persecution for the sake of His name. God comforts them with the certainty that He will personally deal with their enemies.
Although evil may appear to win at the moment, in the big picture God will judge those who hurt His children who believe in Him.
What’s going on in this lesson?
Because we are not snared by a faulty hermeneutic that uses the Bible improperly, we can look at the preceding passages and find contextual answers to some questions: what time periods have these verses examined and explained?
Isaiah 13 told us about the time of Babylon and God’s judgment on it. Those prophecies came true.
Matthew 24 revealed events that would occur in AD 70. Those also came to pass.
Daniel 2 foretold the coming of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom. That has also been established, and even though there is a future fulfillment for His kingdom, it is already in place.
2 Thessalonians 1 will continue to come true again and again as people preach the gospel of Jesus and meet opposition and persecution. God’s people will struggle until He finally judges the enemies of God Himself!
In this last Sabbath School lesson of this quarter, the authors have used the Isaiah 28:10 method of Bible reading (and in context, that passage is condemning the Israelite’s use of radnom, non-contextual study of God’s word). Because they have yanked passages out of their context, they have given a message which God has never intended.
In fact, Adventism has confused two theological terms essentially teach that these terms are synonymous. They have confused eschatology (the study of end times) for soteriology (the study of salvation). For Adventists, the details of eschatology comprise the essence of their idea of salvation
Here is the truth.
The Gospel was established long before John’s vision on the island of Patmos. If you believe that Revelation or Daniel CHANGED the Gospel, then you have bought into a massive misinterpretation of prophecies.
Notice that every one of the following Scripture passages was written DECADES before John penned The Revelation of Jesus Christ:
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Pet. 1:3-4).
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9).
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Cor. 11:2-15).
Here is the thing we need to understand. The Bible reveals God’s plan to save mankind. It reveals the love of God and His kindness to us in His giving His Son as the propitiation for our sin.
The Bible is not a book of warnings and guilt-producing reminders to toe the mark and be good. Instead, it is a revelation of reality. The Bible reveals how we are saved, and how we KNOW we are saved.
Adventism says salvation is about knowing that the Sabbath will be the final test to prove whether or not people are saved. Scripture, on the other hand reveals that we have to know the Son and be known by Him. Jesus ONLY is the way we are saved.
By taking texts out of context, Adventism wields a reign of terror, holding Adventists in bondage to the fear that they have some unconfessed sin, or some sin that they have not overcome. Adventists live in fear of not being ready for Jesus to come.
The Bible, however, tells us that God holds us securely. When we have trusted Jesus and His finished work of death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, we are saved. Moreover, God gives us the Holy Spirit to guarantee that we are saved!
Jesus’ first coming ushered in the kingdom of God within the body of born-again believers; His second coming will establish it upon the earth, and every knee will bow to Him.
Salvation is not about knowing the right secret doctrines. Salvation is ours when we trust Jesus and are born of His Spirit.
Knowing Jesus alone will prepare us for His second coming!