The final book of Old Testament prophesy prepares the covenant people for the blistering reality that most of them will be treated as chaff, violently removed from the root, set ablaze as a withered shrub, and punished for their unfaithfulness to the law of Moses (4:4) and their hardened hearts towards the prophets (4:5). Some will be saved if they repent, as we see in the New Testament. But, most of the Jews will have the fury of God poured out upon them in a sudden and horrifying display of God’s power and purity.
Eschatological Turkey Shootin
As a boy, some of my fondest memories came when my grandfather and I would steal away from the house, with a couple of 20 gauge shotguns in his rusted-out old Ford pickup truck, and go down to the turkey shoot at the nearby moose lodge. In those days, a “turkey shoot” was not about traipsing through the North Carolina woods to nab a herd of unsuspecting foul, but to gather around a fire with a group of like-minded southern boys, all shooting competitively at paper targets lined up methodically in the distance. The reward for cutting out the cross-hair in a particular round was a corresponding cut of delectable meat. In fact, some of the best bacon I’ve ever tasted came from winning one of the many turkey shoots that I have been a part of.
Although my weapon of choice – a modest Remington 1100 with a standard choke, was not all that much to look at – it consistently delivered a tight pattern of buck shots through the paper target before me and netted me plenty of victories. Even while all the competitors’ targets contained hundreds of small holes, the winner simply needed one strategically placed hole, right in the very center, to cut out the crosshairs and win the round. This reminds me of the current debacle that we are facing in eschatology.
These days, there are hundreds of stray positions spread out across the riddled canvas of modern end times studies. And yet, no matter how many holes there are in our thinking, almost none of them have brought us nearer to the Biblical center and to the point of Christ’s amazing victory. My aim in this series, is to narrow our focus onto the heart of the matter, focusing on (what I believe to be) the single buckshot of Biblical truth, that will open up this field of study for us and help us understand everything the Bible has to say on the matter. When we do that, eschatology will bring us hope, peace, and great joy as we await our savior’s return. Think about it this way, if a single buckshot at the center of a paper target will gain a man the most joyful and bacon-infused victory, how much more will a single concept, aimed right at the center of Biblical eschatology, not only expose us to the kind of victory and Kingdom that Jesus has purchased for us, but will make us leap like calves! But, let us not get ahead of ourselves.
The Buckshot of Biblical Eschatology
That concept, which we spoke about last time, is that there are two kinds of “second comings” described in the Bible. There is a past tense, spiritual and covenantal, non-bodily coming of Jesus, when He raises up the Romans to rain down judgment upon apostate Jerusalem in AD 70. And there is the future tense, physical, and bodily coming of Jesus at the end of human history, where He will come and separate all people according to their election and will deliver the saints to the never-ending Kingdom of heaven. One coming has already happened to national Israel. One coming will happen in the future to spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16). And, knowing the difference between these two events could be the difference between eschatological defeat or victory, confusion or clarity, despair or abiding delight.
So, with that in mind, my goal over the next several weeks will be to focus on the judgment coming of Christ against Jerusalem in AD 70 (The first kind of “coming” in the Bible). In doing that, I want to show you all of the various passages that deal with that harrowing event, expose their meaning in proper Biblical context, and to extricate them forever from the stranglehold of dogmatic eschatological futurism and put them firmly back in their place as fulfilled prophetic events. Then, after we have spent several weeks looking at the past, we will do well to end this series on eschatology by looking at the grand and glorious future Christ has won for us.
The Judgment of Christ in Malachi
In our modern Bibles, the last book of the Old Testament section is called Malachi (which in Hebrew means “My messenger”).