The Burden of Proof

SEPTEMBER 23, 2012

I ended last week’s sermon about the end times by explaining how I felt about the issue. I told Jesus that I was deeply sorry about the awful things that millions of evangelical Christians are unknowingly doing. Those people cause Him grief by the manner in which they are dealing with the so called end time’s issue. I also told Jesus how I grateful I am that the apostle John didn’t record everything He did during the 33 years He lived in this world. I would go nuts trying to refute all the stuff I’m sure they would come up with in order to continue believing all the gobbledygook they have been taught by other people. I ended the message by telling Jesus that I’m doing my best to convert these mistaken brothers and sisters.”

To help you folks get a better understanding of where I’m coming from I’ll share excerpts from a previous sermon I preached in August, 2007. The following is what I preached from this pulpit.

“The boy in my Charlie And The Angel story, ”The Search For Truth”, truly wanted to believe in Jesus and all the promises in the rest of the New Testament but the ones concerning Him returning in judgment and rescuing those Christians who were still alive at the time prevented him. Since everyone knew Jesus didn’t come back like He promised; how could the teen age boy believe in Him if he couldn’t even believe Him?

Compounding the boys dilemma were the two men who wrote the Study-Bibles who claimed that Jesus was speaking to those first Christians about an event which could occur in our own day and age. The boy discovered that although the word “generation” is used thirty three times in the New Testament, Scofield and Ryrie changed the plain meaning of the word “generation” in Matthew 24:36. From that point forward it became a piece of cake to change the meaning of other words in the Bible as well. “Truly, I say to you, this generation (the plain meaning of this word was changed so that it meant the nation or family of Israel) will not pass away until all these things take place,” Matthew 24:34 (ESV).

Now look at what Jesus said earlier about generation in Matthew’s gospel.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, Matthew 11:16 (ESV)

39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Matthew 12:39 (ESV)

4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. Matthew 16:4 (ESV)

17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” Matthew 17:17 (ESV)

36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Matthew 23:36 (ESV)

At this point I would like to quote from what is proving to be a very insightful book I’m currently reading entitled: “THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS ONE” by John H. Walton, a man whom you may recall I have quoted in the past. Please listen very carefully! “The Old Testament does communicate to us and it was written for us, and for all humankind. But it was not written to us. It was written to Israel, it is in a language that most of us do not understand, and therefore it requires translation. But the language is not the only aspect that needs to be translated. Language assumes a culture, serves a culture, and is designed to communicate into the framework of a culture. Consequently, when we read a text written in another language and addressed to another culture, we must translate the culture as well as the language if we hope to understand the text fully.” (A) I would like to add that it behooves you and me to apply that excellent advice when we are studying the New Testament as well.

Now let’s pretend that the boy and his parents have returned for the following week’s back-yard Bible study with the old teacher. As usual, the teacher had been hoping and praying throughout the previous week that the boy would find additional evidence to bolster the boy’s case concerning the so called end-times. He knew his prayers had been answered when the boy immediately blurted out: “Look at the stuff I found. Can I show it to everyone, teacher?” “Certainly you may. Go right ahead, young man.” “Great! Take a look at this verse.”

“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened,” Matthew 24:34 (NIV)

Now listen to this. Here’s what the note in my Study Bible says about the word generation in Matthew 24:34. “The word “generation” (Gr. Genea), though commonly used in Scripture of those living at one time, could not here mean those alive at the time of Christ, as none of these things”- i.e. the worldwide preaching of the kingdom, the tribulation, the return of the Lord in visible glory, and the regathering [i.e. the Rapture]of the elect-occurred then. The expression “this generation” here (1) may mean that the future generation which will endure the tribulation and sees the signs, will also see the consummation, the return of the Lord; or (2) it may be used in the sense of race or family, meaning that the nation or family of Israel will be preserved “until all these things have happened,” a promise wonderfully fulfilled to this day.”

“Now listen to what the other guy has to say.” “No one living when Jesus spoke these words lived to see “all these things” come to pass. However, the Greek word can mean “race” or “family,” which makes good sense here; i.e. the Jewish race will be preserved, in spite of terrible persecution, until the Lord comes.” (C)

“But when I read my Bible that doesn’t have those study notes it says nothing about any world-wide preaching of the kingdom. I’m glad it didn’t because that would make it even harder for me to believe in Jesus. I mean like, He’s supposed to be God and know everything; He had to know there’s no way they could have gone all over the whole-wide world preaching the Gospel. No Way! But this is what Jesus said:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, “Matthew 28:19 (ESV).

Let’s take another look at what the Bible says.”

“… if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister,” Colossians 1:23 (ESV).

“I tried to find out what those guys had to say in their notes about that particular verse. Guess what? Would you believe-zilch! Now look at this verse.

And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,” Acts 17:6 (ESV).

“Listen to what those guys had to say about that verse, folks. You guessed it, zilch! So what am I supposed to believe? Did those Study Bible guys know what they were talking about, and a kid like me doesn’t have the smarts to understand what the Bible is teaching? Should I believe what the Bible says or what those experts say? Did Jesus tell His disciples to do something they couldn’t do? If they didn’t accomplish the mission that Jesus assigned to them, then the Bible got it wrong, but if they did, then those guys who wrote those notes in my Study Bibles are out to lunch. If you ask me, I think those study notes are a lot of confused jargon. In other words, they’re a big bunch of what The Merriam Webster Dictionary says is gobbledygook!”

“Without those study notes to mess people up like they did to me, or anything or anyone else to influence them, there’s no way someone can possibly come up with that kind of end of the world stuff just from reading the actual Bible. No way! Unless they’re nuts! That kind of stuff has to be concocted. Do I have it right, teacher?” “If you don’t mind, I would rather wait and see what you are leading up to. Please continue, young man” “Cool! Here’s what the Gospel of Luke has to say about the same thing Jesus was telling them about in Matthew’s gospel. It had to do with the destruction of the temple and all of Jerusalem by the Roman general named Titus in A. D. 70.

”Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled,” Luke 21:10-24 (ESV).

I’m so happy I finally came to this Bible Study, teacher. And I’m glad I’m on summer vacation so I can spend lots of time studying about this kind of stuff instead of having to do any homework. Now listen to what I found while I was surfing the net over at my friend Rick’s home.”

“In April, A.D. 70, immediately after the Passover, when Jerusalem was filled with strangers, the siege began. The zealots rejected, with sneering defiance, the repeated proposals of Titus and the prayers of Josephus, who accompanied him as interpreter and mediator; and they struck down every one who spoke of surrender. They made sorties down the valley of the Kedron and up the mountain, and inflicted great loss on the Romans. As the difficulties multiplied their courage increased. The crucifixion of hundreds of prisoners (as many as five hundred a day) only enraged them the more. Even the famine which began to rage and sweep away thousands daily, and forced a woman to roast her own child, the cries of mothers and babes, the most pitiable scenes of misery around them, could not move the crazy fanatics. History records no other instance of such obstinate resistance, such desperate bravery and contempt of death. The Jews fought, not only for civil liberty, life, and their native land, but for that which constituted their national pride and glory, and gave their whole history its significance—for their religion, which, even in this state of horrible degeneracy, infused into them an almost superhuman power of endurance.”

“Titus (according to [the Jewish historian] Josephus) intended at first to save [the temple] that magnificent work of architecture, as a trophy of victory, and perhaps from some superstitious fear; and when the flames threatened to reach the Holy of Holies he forced his way through flame and smoke, over the dead and dying, to arrest the fire. But the destruction was determined by a higher decree. His own soldiers, roused to madness by the stubborn resistance, and greedy of the golden treasures, could not be restrained from the work of destruction. At first the halls around the temple were set on fire. Then a firebrand was hurled through the golden gate. When the flames arose the Jews raised a hideous yell and tried to put out the fire; while others, clinging with a last convulsive grasp to their Messianic hopes, rested in the declaration of a false prophet, that God in the midst of the conflagration of the Temple would give a signal for the deliverance of his people.”

“The legions vied with each other in feeding the flames, and made the unhappy people feel the full force of their unchained rage. Soon the whole prodigious structure was in a blaze and illuminated the skies. It was burned on the tenth of August, A.D. 70, the same day of the year on which, according to tradition, the first temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. “No one,” says Josephus, “can conceive a louder, more terrible shriek than arose from all sides during the burning of the temple. The shout of victory and the jubilee of the legions sounded through the wailings of the people, now surrounded with fire and sword, upon the mountain, and throughout the city. The echo from all the mountains around, even to Perea, increased the deafening roar. Yet the misery itself was more terrible than this disorder.”

“The hill on which the temple stood was seething hot, and seemed enveloped to its base in one sheet of flame. The blood was larger in quantity than the fire, and those that were slain more in number than those that slew them. The ground was nowhere visible. All was covered with corpses; over these heaps the soldiers pursued the fugitives.”

“The Romans planted their eagles on the shapeless ruins, over against the eastern gate, offered their sacrifices to them, and proclaimed Titus Imperator with the greatest acclamations of joy. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.”(D)

“Now listen to this other stuff I found, folks.” “Hold it right there, young man. We’ve run out of time.” “We did? Boy it really goes by quickly at this study.” “I’m very pleased to hear you say that, young man. Lord willing, we’ll all be back again next week.” “Lord willing, teacher.” “Lord willing,” his mother added, because she had just received another glimmer of hope. In her heart she somehow knew her boy was on to something that would prove Jesus did come back and keep His promise after all, and her boy would become a believer. Her husband Charlie just sat there with what was becoming an increasingly common blank facial expression. As usual, the teacher silently praised God for inclining the boy to really search through his Bible to see for himself if what preachers are teaching is indeed factual.

I haven’t rested my case yet, but after all the biblical, contextual, cultural, historical, and grammatical evidence I shared so far, it seems to me that those brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with me have the obligation to produce what is known as “THE BURDON OF PROOF.” In other words, I would want them to prove that Christ didn’t keep His promise to return.

Lord willing, Next week…


Page 9 “THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS ONE,” © By John H. Walton, Inter Varsity Press P. O. Box 1400 Downers Grove, Il. 60515-1426

OXFORD NIV SCOFIELD STUDY BIBLE, © 1967 Oxford University Press, Inc.

RYRIE STUDY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, © 1994 by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Citing the historian Flavius Josephus in his classic History of the Christian Church, (Chapter 6) Phillip Schaff provides a lot of insight on what was happening during The Great Tribulation. http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/1_ch06.htm

If any of you folks have the Scofield Study Bibles you may find it interesting to read what they have to say about the following passages. He was using the King James Version and so will I.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19 (KJV)

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. Luke 2:1 (KJV)

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