Sunday, June 5, 2011

The "Parousia of Christ."

The Jewish rabbis have taunted Christians throughout church history saying Jesus can't be their Messiah, since the Messiah would accomplish redemption, and judgment, in one generation with no gaps, delays, parentheses or postponements.

Notice how various well know the Jewish writer has expressed this. The Jew refused to accept the excuse that the major prophecies concerning the Messiah will only be fulfilled in a "second coming." (He expects the Messiah to complete his mission in his first attempt.) [The Real Messiah Reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973 page 15.]

The full establishment of the Kingdom could not be delayed. (The Real Messiah. Reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973. Page 15).

Since Jesus did not fulfill the most important Messianic prophecies, they expected Him to return to complete this task in a "second coming." At first, Christians expected that this (second coming) would come very shortly... In their lifetime. When their prayer was not answered they began to hope that it would come a thousand years after Jesus' death. This was the millennium or thousand years kingdom.

Finally, after a thousand years passed and Jesus still had not returned, (they postponed his second coming to an indefinite time). We therefore see that the (early Christians were forced to radically alter the Jewish concept of the Messiah in order to explain Jesus’ failure). This compounded by the pagan influence on the (early church, gave birth to a Messianic concept totally alien to Judaism. [Pinchas Stolper, ed. Pages 32, 33)

You will discover that whenever any really strong question [such as why Jesus hasn't fulfilled all Messianic prophecies]… is asked [of the Christians], the (standard answer is that it refers to the second coming). It therefore becomes extremely important to ascertain the validity of this claim. The success of the Christian claim or its failure (rests to a very large extent on the theory of the second coming). It is clearly an answer born of desperation. [Samuel Levin. You Take Jesus, I Will Take God. Los Angeles 1980. Page 15]

A vital point, totally ignored today, is that the Jewish prophecy never implied two comings divided by centuries. That kind of language is not used by the i.e, Jewish Old Testament prophets. A good book of the Bible that both Jews and Christians accept as highly Messianic is the book of Isaiah. It should become apparent very quickly that Isaiah did not know of any “second coming.” For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance. The year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 34:8) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me. Because the Lord has anointed Me to (preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives. And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the (day of vengeance) of our God. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world, "Say to the daughter of Zion. Surely your (salvation is coming) Behold, His (reward is with Him) And His work before Him." (Isaiah 62:11)

For the (day of vengeance) is in My heart. And the year of My (redeemed has come). (Isaiah 63:4) These are just some of the Old Testament scriptures and there is not one distinction between "a coming in redemption and a coming in vengeance.”

Nowhere do the Old Testament prophets teach a "second coming" to fulfill the rest of the things He was unable to fulfill the first time. They saw one short fulfillment period with two phases to it; a suffering humiliation phase and a victorious consummation phase. They expected the consummation of all these things during one short fulfillment period, according to God's prophets (see Isa. 35:4-6, 40:10, 61:1-2, 62:11, 63:1-6, Zech. 14; and Mal.4:1-6) Reader, God's Jewish prophets who wrote the Old Testament had no such distinction.

Before anyone in our day can make such a distinction that the Lord’s coming was to be separated by a thousand years, they must first show from the Old Testament where God’s inspired prophets taught such an idea. After all, it was Israel’s Jewish prophets who first taught the notion of the Messiah in the first place. And it seems quite reasonable to respect their inspired opinion more than anyone’s opinion today.

If we approach the New Testament apocalyptic language about the Parousia of Christ with a 20th century understanding and not recognize it for what it meant to the Jews living in the first century who knew the Old Testament prophecies, our ability to comprehend it will be doomed to what has become traditional confusion. We must keep in mind that Jesus was Jewish and was familiar with the Jewish prophetic thought.

When God used the means of a nation or people to carry out His judgment, His “presence or parousia” was said to have come in the clouds. "This type of apocalyptic language was well known to all in the Jewish communities. This language was studied by all the congregation of Israel on the Sabbath and in the synagogue. It was passed down and spoken in homes, from generation to generation. That is why Jesus chose to use apocalyptic language as He described His soon return in judgment upon the people of His day.

In Matthew 26:63-65 we read where Jesus promised the High Priest, Caiaphas, that he would "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” This prophecy is cut from the same cloth as those in the Old Testament that speak of an "appearing" of God. By this statement Jesus was claiming to be divine, Israel's Messiah, and the Son of God as stated by the prophet Daniel.

"I was watching in the night visions, And, behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel.7:13-14).

Caiaphas knew Jesus was quoting Daniel; that is why Caiaphas accused Him of blasphemy. (Matthew 26:65) Jesus' claim to come on the clouds elicited an immediate response "He has spoken blasphemy!" Why did this instigate such a vehement response? Only the God of Israel could ride the clouds of heaven in judgment (Psa. 104:1-3; Isa. 19:1-3; Joel 2:1-2; Nah. 1-3). The inspired apostle John stated that the Jews sought the more to kill Jesus because He was making himself equal to God (John 5:18, 8:58).

As a ruler and High Priest of Israel, a fleshly seed of Abraham, who rejected his Messiah, he would see Jesus return in judgment. A fleshly concept of Jesus coming on the clouds was contrary to the nature of Caiaphas' understanding of the Old Testament prophets.

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