Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Sign of Jonah

The Sign of Jonah
By Richard P. Joseph



During Jesus’ ministry on earth he performed unbelievable miracles in the sight
of the multitudes and yet the Jews had the gall to come up to him and demand
that he show them a sign of his authority.  Jesus had a few things to say about
their unbelief and ignorance.
Luke 11:29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to
say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.[f] 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the
Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of
the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and
condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of
Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh
will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they
repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
I have been hearing sermons on this my entire life and the only sign my futurist
pastors ever talked about was the three days and three nights in the belly of the
fish.  However, as my preterist knowledge increases, I become strangely aware
of things that never crossed the minds of those stuck in the faulty theology of
futurism. Missing pieces of the puzzle seem to just drop into place once your
theology is rectified by a proper historical understanding.  Let’s see if we can
add a few of those missing pieces in the story of Jonah and the whale.
First of all we see that Jonah was called by God to preach to a Great City
called Nineveh.  It is obvious that Jonah did not want to warn the Ninevites
because he wanted them to be wiped out.  This reminds me of how the Father
sent Jesus to warn a different Great City, Jerusalem. The difference is that
Jesus always sought to do the father’s will and he agreed to go whereas Jonah
dodged his mission by taking a ship to Tarshish.  God therefore had to do a little
prompting and sent a severe storm upon the sea which caused the sailors to
panic and begin to throw cargo overboard. They finally went below and found
Jonah fast asleep. The captain, scolding Jonah, said “What do you mean,
sleeper?  Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that
we may not perish.”    Oddly enough this same scenario played out when Jesus
was found fast asleep when him and the disciples were crossing the sea of
Galilee.  
Matthew 8:25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord,
save us! We are perishing!”
The only way Jonah’s ship would be saved is if he were thrown overboard
which caused a great calm on the sea.  Of course Jesus calmed the sea by his
word alone. Jonah was then swallowed by a great sea creature only to be
released three days later.  Jonah cried out in the belly of the fish a momentous
prayer that is reminiscent of Isaiah’s messianic prophecy and of the portrayal of
Jesus who was cast into the tomb for three days and three nights, apparently
went to sheol and was brought back up from the pit.  Here is Jonah’s prayer:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
3 For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.
7 “When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”
This prayer contains too much to even comment on.  I think a book needs to
be written on it. As for this short article I see Jesus sweeting great drops of
blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and then crying out in a loud voice on the
cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”   The parallels are too numerous and close
to ignore.  But that’s not the end of it.
Jonah took the message to the king of Nineveh that yet 40 days they will be
overthrown.  Ironically, the king and his subjects covered themselves in
sackcloth and ashes and repented much to Jonah’s chagrin.   The city was
saved and Jonah pouted. Jonah was vexed also that a plant that came up
quickly to shade him, wilted just as fast.  My take on this is that the 40 days
of Jonah could easily represent the 40 year generation between AD 30-70.
The plant that came up by the will of God was about to also wilt.  When Jesus
said that the men of Nineveh would judge the current generation of the Great
City of Jerusalem he was not using allegory, he was speaking in a matter of
fact. Nineveh repented but Jerusalem would take another course.  Instead
they murdered the messiah, tortured the apostles, and rejected the plan of
God. They would indeed be judged by the the men of Nineveh in AD 70.

This is yet another confirmation of fulfilled theology.  There are no weird
explanations or loopholes. There is a simple and direct connection to
what Jesus said and what would actually happen.  For all of you who are
still trying to figure out how Jesus is still going to come in the future, you
are on a futile mission. Verse after verse confirm that Jesus fulfilled his
mission, including his second coming in the first century.  There are no
double meanings or hidden mysteries. He plainly spoke and it was
fulfilled exactly when and how he said it would be proving that Jesus was
a true prophet and of a divine nature. And for my futurist pastor friends
out there, once you come to the truth you will no longer be puzzled by
eschatology.  It will finally make sense.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shooting Stars!

Shooting Stars!
By Richard P. Joseph

astronomy, comet, constellation
I remember when I was a kid and looking up into the night sky I noticed a streak
of light zipping by and asked what it was.  I was told it was a “shooting star”.
Recently my wife and I were watching tv in the evening and all of the sudden the
sky light up.  Since it was not raining we thought maybe there was a storm
approaching. However, about 30 seconds later the house shook. We saw in the
news later that it was a meteorite that struck the earth about 40 miles away.  I
was shocked when recently I heard an adult talking about “shooting stars” as if
they were really stars shooting across the sky.
As any educated person knows, a meteor is not a real star but rather a small
rock or other extraterrestrial debris that enters into the earth’s atmosphere and
burns up (thankfully) due to the friction.  Of course there is evidence that quite
large meteorites have struck the earth in times past and have left craters on our
planet. I obviously had to explain this to my friend that real stars are not striking
the earth!
But don’t tell that to most Christians or you’ll get an ear full.  They will start
quoting scriptures like Matthew 24:29
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and
the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of
the heavens will be shaken.


Most Christians are still waiting for Jesus to return in the sky and the sun will
turn off, the moon will not reflect and the stars will fall down.  If you are someone
who believes that in a literal sense can you please tell me which way the stars
will fall? Do they fall up, down, to the side, which way is up, which way is down?
Where do they fall to? These articles are mostly written for those that have
been taught faulty theology their entire life. My short articles are to introduce
you to the proper way to interpret scripture.  I certainly do not know everything
but I can lead you to real scholars that do. What I do here is what most pastors
ask us to do; they say “check my sermon out in scripture”. So I do and many
times they are mistaken.  To not understand the blatant theme that the “second
coming” of Christ was an event that was to occur in the first century is a huge
miscalculation. So, back to the stars falling down.
The 19th century scholar, James Stuart Russell says this in his book (page 289)
The Parousia:
“The key to the interpretation of this passage is to be found in the prophecy of
Haggai.  On comparing the prophetic symbols in that book it will be seen that
‘shaking heaven and earth’ is evidently emblematic of, and synonymous with,
‘overthrowing thrones, destroying kingdoms,’ and similar social and political
revolutions (Haggai ii.21,22).  Such tropes and metaphors are the very elements
of prophetic description, and it would be absurd to insist upon the literal
fulfilment of such figures.”
When Jesus and the apostles used such dramatic language, the people of that
day understood it.  Nobody who was listening to Jesus on the Mount of Olives
thought the stars were going to fall down.  It is only “us” that think that. They
would have understood that he meant that kings and thrones and eras were
coming to an end.  Jesus assured them that the end of their way of life under
the Mosaic law was coming to a close and that a new order was at hand. All of
the New Testament writers understood it that way as they all preached an
imminent close to the current age they were in.  They were expecting to
experience Christ at his appearing and rejoice in it. Not one writer ever
expressed a long and protracted wait for this to happen.
It is only us in these days that have misinterpreted apocalyptic language and
have made it mean something that no one in the first century ever dreamed it
would mean.  The prediction Jesus made is an interesting story that most
church goers ever even heard of. If you want to learn more about it ask and I
can suggest where to go. So don’t worry, the stars are not going to fall to the
earth, they already did 2,000 years ago!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Full or Partial Preterism?

Full or Partial Preterism?
By Richard P. Joseph

I just read a short article by Dr. Ron Rhodes.  HIs article shows his unfamiliarity
with preterism, scripture, hermeneutics and history.   I will try to give a short
critique of his article.
Rhodes starts out with this statement; There are two forms of preterism:
moderate (partial) preterism, and extreme (full) preterism.”
I would like to make a correction to all who believe that there are really two
forms of preterism by showing you that there is really one form.  Full preterism
believes the bible at its word without inserting ridiculous semantic
interpretations to what the disciples really heard. In other words if John used
words like soon, shortly, at hand etc in the book of revelation and never used
any long term denotations, then the full preterist believes that John was correct
that those events would take place shortly after they were written, not millenia
later.  There is no reason to believe that anyone who first read that book would
interpret it to mean thousands of years later; period. So a full preterist believes
the bible as it is interpreted from its own context, not the context of someone
living in the United States 2,000 years later. Those that interpret the bible from
a modern time frame and different culture are called futurists.
Futurists are people who insert their own presuppositions into scripture to make
it fit their modern day paradigm.  This is an extremely dangerous thing to do as
there is no limit to what any one person from any particular culture at any given
time in history can come up with.  Scripture should always be interpreted in
context of when it was written, to whom it was written, of which culture it was
written and what purpose it was written. That is how full preterists interpret
scripture (at least the conservative Individual Body View Rapture Preterists do).  
I will not get into the cultish preterists who lean toward universalism called the
corporate body view preterists. So what do futurists and partial preterists have
in common?
Any studious futurist cannot deny that Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem but
they interpret that as a separate event as the second coming of Christ.  They
use fanciful hermeneutics in order to come up with something that I have yet to
find in scripture. They put time splits in all of scripture especially in the Olivet
discourse and in the book of Revelation that the apostles never found or
commented on.  The apostles always interpreted it as to occur within their
lifetime. There is not one verse in the entire New Testament that shows the
disciples thinking that the parousia would occur thousands of years later. If
there is I would like to see it. So how does this relate to partial preterists?
Partial preterism is really full futurism.  I personally cannot find any
delineation between the two.  They both believe that Jesus did in fact
predict the fall of Jerusalem and they both believe it was not associated
with the second coming of Christ.    Any difference is really semantical.
Jesus smoothly placed all of the events in one sermon on the mount.
Futurists/partial preterists believe Jesus slipped in tricky and mystical time
splits that none of his disciples were ever able to unravel.  This turns
Jesus into the Wizard of Oz by promising them something that he would
never be able to provide even two thousand years later! It is beyond this
article, but history proves that Jesus really did mean soon. So how does
Rhodes deal with real history and real scripture?
After listing several statements that Jesus and the apostles made
concerning the quick return of Jesus, his answer is; “Many evangelicals
believe...."     Who cares what anyone believes? I am interested in the
proper interpretation of a historical document, not what someone feels it
means to fit their own paradigm.   Since all of the New Testament writers
fully believed that the end was coming in their personal generation of time
then why would I “feel” that a theologian today knows more than Jesus,
Peter, Paul, John, Stephen etc?  In other words, Rhodes believes that the
seminarians are the inspired writers of scripture and the apostles were not.
Stop and process that for a moment!
In conclusion I would like to restate that there is always only one truth and
it is our duty to find it, not create it.  I believe that Jesus and the apostles
did not make any mistakes and that the parousia did occur between
AD 66-70. We are to now live in the everlasting kingdom that Jesus gave
his blood for and to, not only spread the gospel, but to utilize it in a
functional way to produce a better world and to lead many to Christ and
his eternal heavenly kingdom.     

Sunday, March 25, 2018

"Someday"

“Someday”
Image from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a7/34/33/a7343309bc724f207fed95d881305b4f.jpg.
By Richard P. Joseph
I remember reading a children's book about a kid who wanted his grandpa to take him fishing.
Each time he saw his grandpa he would ask about the fishing trip and the response was
always “someday” I will take you fishing.  Finally the kid checked the calendar and found that
it had Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday, Friday and Saturday but he couldn’t
find Someday.  He finally asked his mom why he couldn’t find Someday on the calendar and
she told him that it was not on the calendar. She had to explain to the poor kid that Someday
is really never.
Unfortunately, we have all been told by our preachers that Jesus is going to return “Someday”.
I have the difficult task of explaining to you that Someday is really never.
The preachers are convinced that Jesus told his disciples that he is going to return on
Someday and the disciples were somehow satisfied knowing that he is never going to
return.  So I searched the scriptures over and found out that Jesus never did say he would
return someday, he said he would appear within the lifetime of his audience. How our
preachers got Someday out of that is still beyond my comprehension. They have even
created a mode where Jesus meant for us to be perpetually ready for his return even if it is
thousands of years away.  That would be like telling your kids they can have lunch someday
far and unknown in the future. The kid would actually starve to death just like the church is
doing. We finally have to admit that, like grampa, they just don’t want to accept the truth.
The lie is more exciting somehow and brings in the dollars. Jesus was never ambiguous
about his parousia. He gave straightforward time statements that all of his disciples
understood and could count on.  The apostles must have understood it because they
preached an imminent end of the present world and a soon approaching new heavens and
earth. History makes it clear that Jesus made no mistake. Someday had no part in it.

This is the same thing that evolutionist do when they teach of millions of years for evolution
to take place.  That is the same thing as saying “Someday”. It is a diversion because they
have no real answer. Every New Testament writer promoted an imminent return in power to
judge and to consummate the everlasting kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Please stop waiting for
Someday and get busy today. The life of the church depends on it.