Fair Trade Coffee or speaking in tounges?

When growing up I belonged to an evangelical stream that had a spiritual focus, I got saved thanks to them, but most of its focus was on social justice.

I remember I was told not to buy petrol from Shell that had a lot of its refinery in South Africa, and due to the apartheid system we should not support them. I was told what coffee that should be bought, Fair Trade, nothing else and of course not to buy fruit from Israel due to their oppression of the Palestines.

Then in the mid 80-ties we as a family got touched by a spiritual renewal, and the spiritual realm opened up in a total new way. It was such a blessing and we studied the bible, got filled with the spirit, prayed in tongues, prophesied and had visions. We saw healings, deliverance, other spiritual manifestation and learned to understand how the gifts of the Spirit together with the anointing worked. The focus then was mostly on the spiritual and not on social justice.

But as the years went buy I started to understand that for God, there are not such a thing as separation between, it comes as a package. Therefore the authors of the Gospels emphasized “Jesus in the flesh”, see Gnosticism.

In the beginning God put man in Eden to both rule, develop and take care of the creation. But it was not a mandate separated from being together with God, have fellowship with God, – it walked together.

When Jesus was coming to earth as both God and human, his message was back to basic. Relation with the Father and extending his Kingdom on earth, that was what Jesus talked by far most about. Then the Atonement- His salvation on the cross, was not mainly for our souls to be saved but to put everything back on track with us and with the creation.

Mankind had lost his mandate both to rule, develop and care for the creation, but also to fellowship with God as in a family relation. Everything had become religious. Jesus emphasized both God as the father and not a religious God like the Gods mankind then prayed to and the Kingdom mandate to rule, develop and manage the whole creation.

His message was, we are a royal family with a royal mission to extend his Kingdom on earth.

The back to basic message is ever so important today as back then. Kingdom activity needs to go hand in hand with a relation with the Father. You cannot choose being “spiritual” and not take care of this creation and the people on it. You cannot on the other hand work only with social justice and not serve Jesus as King in your life.

Kingdom of God is amongst you only when Jesus is King in your life, when you and I live for Christ and in Christ. This is our values, our fuel to save the world.

Therefor work for Fair Trade Coffee should walk hand in hand with the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. That is Kingdom in its core.

How you understand “Olivet Discourse” determines your Kingdom view

In my previous posts about Antichrist, I and II, I argued how I understand the scriptures in its context to not talk about a future Antichrist figure being a political leader, that is the common belief in the Futuristic view, see my post about the different views of eschatology.

In this post, I will try to outline a different view, but not new, how to understand Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13 (Olivet Discourse) especially in relation to how I understand Daniel 9, as Matthew 24 is referring back to Daniel 9.

Again, these scriptures are not easily understood reason why we all should hold a humble attitude to each others interpretations, for there are several.

For me this is something I have been working with for a couple of years now, so these posts are like a closing for me, putting words to my own understanding and belief.

The preteristic view refers to Matthew 24 as something already taken place in AD70 – Jerusalem´s destruction. The futuristic view on the other hand mostly means it to be about the future. Partial Preteristic view means it is both and, and that is also one of the most common understanding amongst scholars today, even though not all agree from what verse. E.g in most of the Swedish Bible translations, you would find in the notes, that it refers to AD70.

The keys to understand Matthew 24 is to:

I. put it into the context of chapter 21-23, what/who is Jesus adressing?

II. define what the disciples were asking, according to there understanding back then;

III. understand the meaning of the greek words used? some words have different meaning, but are translated the same in English bibles.

First of all in Matthew 21 to 23 you will see if you read them quickly through that Jesus is starting by cleaning the temple, cursing the fig three and then rebuking the pharisees with several woes, leading to the wrap up in Matthew 23. 

33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. …38 See, your house is left to you desolate.

Jesus was proclaiming judgement to come over the Pharisees, their generation and their house (meaning the temple as he was standing there when proclaiming these words), using the righteous blood of Abel to Zechariah, meaning first book to last book in their bible, back then.

John Chrysostom: “So now a punishment is appointed, one that brings exeeding dread and implies the overthrow of the entire city.”
(The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 74.3)

1 Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  – Matthew 24

Eusebius: “All this occured in this manner in the second year of Vespasian (AD70), according to the predictions of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Ecclesiastical History, III:7)

John Wesley: “This was most punctually fullfilled: for after the temple was burned, Titus the Roman general, ordered the very foundations of it to be dug up; after which the ground on which it stood was ploughed by Turnus Rufus…this generation of men now living shall not pass till all these things be done – The expression implies that a great part of the generation would be passed away, but not the whole. Just so it was; for the city and temple were destroyed thirthy-nine or forty years after.” (The works of John Wesley, 1985)

Keeping this in mind, when Jesus and the disciples sit down and look at the temple they are asking 3 questions:

  1. Tell us, when will these things happen? – Asking, when will the temple be destroyed as you Jesus is talking about? Jesus is describing the future with a scary exactness what happened in verse 4-28.
  2. What will be the sign of your coming? A question asked from their horizon, not for us 2000 years later.
  3. What about the end of the age (world) when will you Jesus come back in glory and execute the final judgment.

Charles Spurgeon: “The disciples enquired first about the time of the destruction of the temple…” (The Gospel of the Kingdom, 1974, p212)

As it would be too much go through verse by verse, let me just take a few famous verses below.

But did this happen? Many claiming to be Christ, wars of and rumors of war, famines, earthquakes, birth pangs, persecution, apostasy and false prophets, warnings of destructions, a great tribulation, false Christs appear? Yes, it all happened then and if you read more about the destruction of Jerusalem you will learn that more than 1 miljon Jews was murdered.

Charles Spurgeon: “The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God. Truly, the blood of the martyrs slain in Jerusalem was amply avenged when the whole city became a veritable Aceldama, or field of blood.” (Spurgeon’s Popular Exposition of Matthew, 1979, p211)

Abomination of desolationSo when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24:15‬ So is this then the Antichrist? According to the epistles of John, we saw that it was a person coming from the church; not believing Jesus to be the son of God, come as a human. So what was this then? Well if we read Daniel 9 we see that the context is about Jesus the prince. Daniel is using this phrase “abomination of desolation” three times, but in Daniel 11 all scholars agree it to be the Greek ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies that lived in 167 B.C. and that set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation. But what did Jesus then mean using same phrase, 200 years later? If we read Luke 21:20But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.” What armies? The Roman armies that executed the destruction of Jerusalem.

John Chrysostom: “For this it seems to me that the abomination of desolation means the army by which the holy city of Jerusalem was made desolate.”

Augustine: “Luke, to show that the same abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then you know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). 23″

It is interesting to note that Jesus then gives practical advice to his followers how to survive: ”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.” It does not say those that live in Europe but Judea, clearly talking to them as this is a geographical description it can hardly be interpreted symbolic.

Within a generation34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” 

Is this figuratively speaking or literally? Futurists claim this is all to happen +2000 years later, somewhere in the future, and many attempts have been made to connect it with “one generation” (40 years in the bible) to certain events happened to the Nation of Israel, reason why many believed Jesus to come back 1988, (a generation after the nations of Israel was born 1948) but when that did not come true, they changed their interpretation to be “Race” instead of generation, meaning the Jew as a race.

But I would argue in good company with many Church Fathers in the history, that Jesus predictions or prophecy really happend within a generation, AD 30 plus a generation (40 years) = AD70.

Origen of Alexandria “I challenge anyone to prove my statement untrue if I say that they entire Jewish nation was destroyed less than one whole generation later on account of these sufferings which they inflicted on Jesus.” (Origen Against Celcius, IV:XXII)

The Lesson of the Fig Tree – 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” This verse has been used by futurists to explain that when the nation of Israel was born, all things predicted by Jesus would soon happen within a generation, see above. But, Israel is never used figuratively as a Fig Three in the bible, instead always as an Olive three.

Preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world 14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” When growing up, I was trained this verse meant that we need to preach the gospel to all nations and tribes and then the end will come. But when studying other views of the end-time, I came to understand this verse in a different light.First of all, it has to be read in the context of the other verses when Jesus is predicting what will happen AD70. Secondly, difficult verses has to be read in the light of other passages in the bible, e.g. Roman 1:“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” , Roman 10:18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Roman 16:25 – 26 “… according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ… has been made known to all the nations.” 

Another important remark is that different greek words for the “world” are used in these scriptures. Kosmos=whole physical world and Oikoumene=civilized world. Oikoumene is used in Matthew 24, meaning for the disciples their known world and not some unknown tribe in Africa, that we have been taught,

I am sorry, but we should preach the gospel not to get Jesus back, but to change the world by extending his Kingdom, that is the Kingdom understanding.

For the Jews the destruction of Jerusalem and their temple was such a catastroph, their identity, hope and heritage were all gone.

The writer of Hebrew put it like this: “When he said, “a new covenant”, He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” Hebrew 8:13

Back now to the questions of the disciples:
2. What will be the sign of your coming?

The meaning of the question for them vs us might be of very different ones, as the disciples were asking when Jesus would be presented to the world as the awaited Messiah, the King in Israel. Note that the disciples back then did not even understand that Jesus was about to leave them, so they did not ask of when Jesus might return. Futurists claim this verse is about Jesus return and full preterists means Jesus coming to judge Israel physically with the judge that came AD70. Partial preterists believe different, they believe it had to do with Jesus go public as Messiah into the world, according to what Jesus just told them in chapter 16 of Matthew.

28 “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Mark 9:1 “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” 

Jesus connects the disciples with his coming in power. For me it is after the resurection when all is fullfilled, and he now has handed the Kingdom over to us.

I do believe in a second coming of Jesus, (Acts 2:10) so do not missread me. However I do not believe in any rapture as I have written about in another post. Maybe I will write in the future a more detailed post about these verses , but I leave this for now.

Then the last remaining question of the disciples:
3. What about the end of the age (world)?

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

If you do not believe anything of what I have argued above, you should at least be troubled now? In verse 35, Jesus says all these things described will happen within a generation, (which they also did, as described), how come he now suddenly do not know?

The only reasonable understanding is that Jesus now is answering the disciples question nr 3 that is about the future. Until verse 35 it referred to the desctruction of Israel, AD 70. But from verse 36, Jesus is talking about his return, the final judgement, and that will come as a suprise, like a Thief in the night etc.

If you look at Mark 13 and Luke 21, you will see that this the third question is not asked by the disciples, only in Matthew 24. And it is also only in Matthew 25 Jesus is talking about his final coming, his return, which you do not find neither in Luke or Mark.

For me, this understanding in combination with the prophecies about the Kingdom that will fill the entire world from Daniel, Isaiah, Zecharaia, (see my other posts about the advancing Kingdom), has helped me look at the future in an optimistic victorious way.

My focus is not about a globalist agenda led by an Antichrist figure that will rule the earth during 3,5 years, and then 3,5 years of terror. My view is about a King extending his Kingdom through us until he comes back!

And believe me, he will come back and be met by a strong, beautiful spotless bride.

Maranatha!

Stanley Jones – Ambassador of the Kingdom of God

My father Simon Tofters turned 27 on February 14, 1935. By his brother Petrus, he got the book STANLEY JONES – “Who he is and what he wants”, written by the Dane H. Saermark.

Petrus had been a missionary in Congo, but illness broke him down. He had to return home to Sweden and never became healthy. Simon was a printer and bookbinder, and very involved in the Christian work in the mission church in Östervåla, Sweden.

Simon made a fine band of the book with gold print on its back and read about Stanley Jones. For Simon, all his life was in the Kingdom of God service in the congregation, business, society and family. In particular, he was engaged in music.

Unlike my uncle Petrus, who was briefly on the mission field, Stanley Jones stayed 66 years as a missionary in India. And his field of activity extended to all continents through 29 books, many revival campaigns, counseling, and political leader talks (US, India, China, Japan).

As Paul preached the Kingdom of God and taught with great boldness the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31), Stanley Jones did.

By Stanley Jones, Simon learned that God’s kingdom is the rebuilding of all human life. And that was what Simon did in practice. In his father’s print shop, Simon as a 10-year-old had begun working with his brother Petrus. Simon continued in the same company for 75 years, then finally in his children’s printing business. The vision of God’s kingdom here and now makes us work, being faithful and enduring.

What the whole world needs

During the 1930s, communism grew, Stanley Jones studied it and wrote the book Christ’s Alternative to Communism. Stanley Jones became critical of both communism, fascism/nazism and capitalism. And to President Roosevelt’s attempt to bring America out of the great material crisis of the early 1930s with the aid of a plan society and plan-management.

Father Simon read in his book that Stanley Jones wrote: “I am convinced that what the whole world needs, and through all the various trials, is the kingdom of God on earth . . . With this as the basis, the ultimate social order should and must be built. I am convinced that communism will make us rediscover Christian faith, it will force us to create an alternative to purely material communism. What ultimately saves us all from a material and spiritual downfall is the Kingdom of God on earth.”

Stanley Jones traveled a lot and visited Sweden several times. The first time in 1934 he was welcomed to the university town of Lund by the professor and the dean Yngve Brilioth. Brilioth presented Jones as a prophet and an evangelist. “We have the pleasure of greeting one of the men of the present, who, in front of others, deserves the name of the evangelist, or perhaps more correctly, who is endowed with the high mission of an evangelist. Stanley Jones has opened more gospel doors as few others in our time. The only solution to the world’s common problems is the gospel, unshaven, in full, radical – it is our Lord and Savior Himself.” Yngve Brilioth then became Archbishop of the Church of Sweden in 1950 – 1958.

Open gospel doors

20 years after his first book on Stanley Jones, my father Simon bought the book “E. STANLEY JONES – A Modern Ambassador of the Kingdom of God” – by Karl Jäder (published in 1954).

During those 20 years, Stanley Jones had deepened and widened his Kingdom work. The book is a fascinating description of his life, but Stanley Jones had another 20 years in the service of the kingdom of God.

Stanley Jones also tells of the deep crises with broken health he went through, which led to a higher life plan. Strangely, Stanley Jones on many occasions spoke to Hindus and Muhammadans in conversation and collaboration, which also led to conversion to Christian faith. He had in India a close friendship and cooperation with Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru. Swedish mission expert Professor Bengt Sundkler wrote: “Dr. Jones has, as Archbishop Brilioth a few years ago pointed out, as no other ability to open doors for the gospel.”

Stanley Jones was very clear in his life and work. One of his last books was “The Unshakeable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” (1972).

The reason Stanley Jones was a missionary he could sum up in a single word: CHRIST!I am determined not to know anything except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My position became firm when I made Christ both the starting point and the goal of my ministry.” For Stanley Jones, the Person Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God were the same. He was Christ centered in his proclamation and engaged by the message of the kingdom of God.

Stanley Jones attended the International Mission Conference in Tambaram-Madras in 1938, where he pointed out that the conference claimed the Church idea too strong, while the Kingdom thought was pushed into the background. Instead, Stanley Jones emphasized that they should have taken God’s kingdom as priority to conference work.

It was Jesus’ starting point and goal. The kingdom of God is God’s absolute order, which meets people’s needs. Jesus used the phrase hundreds of times, while only twice using the phrase congregation or church. To him, the kingdom of God was the concept, which in itself gathered everything, something absolute, which could be set up as the goal. The Church is only a means of achieving this goal. Admittedly, the best means but only one means. For God also uses other means to promote his kingdom.

The churches have limited tasks. But the kingdom of God extends its demands to life – personal life, edification, economic, social, international – everything comes under its control. The kingdom of God is both present and coming . . . We both work for it and await its coming.”

However, the Church was important to Stanley Jones. One of his last books was “The Reconstruction of the Church – On what Pattern?” He wanted the Church to renew itself and proposed a nine-point program based on the Church in Antioch (Acts 13: 1-3). Important is Peter’s confession: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This confession (not the person Peter) is the rock, foundation on which Jesus builds his church. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Stanley Jones was grateful that the church was not built on the man Peter, each time he falters we should falter with him.

An ambassador of the Kingdom of God

In the book about Stanley Jones, which my father bought and read, Stanley Jones told about a coincidence with a French diplomat, who haughty presented himself: “I am a diplomat“. Stanley Jones was able to tell afterwards: I was the ambassador of God, and I got my dignity and rank of the one I represented. The Frenchman received his dignity from the country he represented. Mine was a universal kingdom, his fell apart. The kingdom of God remains forever.” This was Stanley Jones’ life duty and ministry. “We are therefore ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20).

As a missionary, Stanley Jones learned that even people’s external conditions should be improved, not just the interior. Individual Christianity is intimately connected to social Christianity, radically aimed at the transformation of society as a whole. And the kingdom of God is both now and then. The Kingdom extends beyond time, and yet it seems in time. Our task is to help prepare the kingdom of God now, and to give all our strength for this purpose.

Stanley Jones’ Kingdom Thought had its strong foundation in the Gospels and especially the Sermon on the Mount.

In the Sermon on the Mount, he does not see the basic drawing of the ethics of the coming kingdom, but rather principles of the solution of the complexity of time, and shows us out of the chaos of time and into the sphere and order of the kingdom of God.”

1932 Stanley Jones wrote the book “Christ of the Mount”. Before printing he used the manuscript in an Ashram in Sat Tal at Himalaya. During 20 days the participants could discuss the writings. Stanley Jones shows in his book that Christ´s message on the mount is Kingdom living. “We are created to the life affirmative and freedom-loving message of the mount.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

Jesus principle program for the new kingdom he served for is in Luke 4: 18-21:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the message of joy to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and sight to the blind, to give the oppressed freedom and preach a year of grace of the Lord.”

Holistic

It was not a “social gospel” Stanley Jones promoted, but “the Gospel of the Kingdom”. A social gospel deals only with social issues, while the gospel of the kingdom of God depicts Jesus Christ, sin and grace, salvation, and life transformation – individually and socially – a new order for the individual, for society, for interpersonal community. Jesus came to the earth and proclaimed that the kingdom of God had come. He showed that we should discover the fullness of life when we organize our lives around the Kingdom. Stanley Jones points out that during the centuries, we have lost the Kingdom, as a clearly defined and functioning system of order and influence in our daily lives. We have reduced the Kingdom to placing it in narrow frames, a sanctuary now, a current security, a future hope. Everything but Jesus preached: God’s total response to man’s total needs now! It is high time to regain the message of God’s Kingdom. 

All this Stanley Jones develops in the book “The Unshakeable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” (1972). “Stanley Jones shows us how to claim our spiritual heritage and the abundant life promised by embracing the Kingdom and Person of Jesus. He suggests how our experience with God and His Kingdom should be taught and shared in the life of the individual, in the life of the church and in the nations of the world.” (Amazon).

Kiell Tofters

This obsession about Antichrist – II

 This is post II in a serie about the belief system of a coming Antichrist, where I try to argue for a different view than the Futuristic view, common in the western world Pentecost/Charismatic streams. My intention is to change focus from a negative to an optimistic future with an advancing Kingdom of God in focus.

In my last post I did try to outline the epistles of John and 2 Thessalonians 2, famous Antichrist verses with an alternative exegesis.

In this post I will try to outline some famous verses in Daniel 9 that also is a common chapter used by Dispensationalists claimed to in connection with Matthew 24 describe the so called Antichrist. I am doing this with a very humble attitude as it contains several difficult portions of scripture.

Without lose ourselves in the history behind the book of Daniel, lets just say it is divided in three parts.

1. Chapter one, written in Hebrew, story about Daniel and his friends in Babylon.

2. Chapter 2-7, written in Aramaic due to its message to gentiles – The Times of the Gentiles.

3. Chapter 8-12 in Hebrew again – Israel in Relation to the Gentiles.

Daniels book is like, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Revelation classed as apocalyptic litterateur, due to its many dreams and visions.

In chapter 9 we find Daniel praying for his people, the Jews, that still was in Babylon and their holy city Jerusalem destroyed.

You can imagine a broken people. But still Daniel knew they gonna be set free after 70 years of bondage, due to the many prophecies and especially the prophecy by Jeremiah of the desolation of Jerusalem (Jer 25, Esra 1).

In this context when Daniel is praying for his people and confessing their sins – Daniel 9:2-19, Michael the angel shows up with a message of hope and insight about the future to Daniel (Daniel 9:20-23).

24 Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.

Instead of the 70 years that Daniel was waiting for, Michael starts to talk about 70 weeks. (year weeks=490 years), and with that finish transgressions, put an end to sin, atone for iniquity. Who is he talking about? Jesus of course.

 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.

From the word of restoring Jerusalem. That was 457 B.C, the king of Persia decreed to the Jews they were free to return to Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 7:12-26). If we add, 7 plus 62 weeks, (483 years), we come to A.D 27, that most probably is the time when Jesus enters his public ministry being baptized. “Coming of an anointed one, a prince… “

Prince you can only be in a Kingdom! Isn’t that fantastic? Again the heavenly message is about a Kingdom.

This exact prediction, has been questioned by schoolars, that argue for Daniel being a history book instead of a prophetic book, but I believe it was really prophetic insight from the Angel to Daniel.

To this understanding about the 69 weeks both Preterists and Futurists agree. It is the last week – week 70, that the insight and understanding goes in different directions.

 What is the futuristic view then?

The futurists believe that this last week of favour has not yet been given to the Jews, and that it is a +2000 year paus of Gods clock until it will happen in the future. We now live in a parenthesis defined as “Church-age”. During this time the Jews will rebuild their Temple and reinstate their religious sacrificial system. In the middle of these 7 years, Antichrist* will first make a covenant with the Jews and then after 3,5 years stop their sacrifical system, reason unclear, but according to how they understand the following passage. This understanding is linked to Matthew 24 where the author refers back to these verses when talking about the end of the world in their view, (where instead most would agree it is both about the destruction about Jerusalem and the future).  *They believe that the pronoun “He” in verse 27 refers to Antichrist. 

  26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

Before I would argue for the Partly Preteristic view, I would like to ask four questions that contradicts with New Testament teaching.

  1. Why should God allow Jews to reinstate their religious sacrifical system that Jesus once and for all paid the price for, and that he time again and again spoke will come to an end. Matt 22-24
  2. Why should God allow the Jews to rebuild the Temple, when NT clearly states we are the New temple. John 2:19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” referring us to be the new temple.
  3. Why should we add a paus of +2000 years when nothing in the message from Michael points to that, instead he is very precise in his prediction. Why suddenly insert this uncertain time period of +2000 year?

Partial-Preteristic view

In this view there is no adding of a parenthesis or a certain Antichrist, instead week 70 simply follows week 69 in a flow.

This understanding is not a new idea but shared by the historical church: 

“For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel’s weeks was interfered with…or that they were not complete, but had to be completed afterward in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testified that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when Jerusalem was overthrown.” Augustine (Epistle of Augustine, 199:31)

“Now the whole period of our Saviour’s teaching and working of miracles is said to have been three and a half years, wich is half a week. John the evangelist, in his Gospels makes this clear to the attentive.” Eusebius (The proof of the Gospel, 1920, VIII:I).

a. an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing refers to Jesus having nothing, becoming poor for us to become rich 2 Cor 8:9 see also Phil 2.

b. the coming people of the Princeshall destroy the city and the sanctuary refers to how Jerusalem A.D 70 was destroyed, see Matthew 24 outlined in coming post.

c. he shall make a strong covenant with many..refers to Jesus establishing a new covenant in that time period 

d. and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering…refers to Jesus death and resurrection on the cross, putting an end to the religious sacrifical system. At the end of his 3,5 years in public ministry he took the bread and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood” (1 Cor 11:24-25)

e. the remaining 3,5 years are believed to be closed when Stephen proclaims Jesus as the risen one now at the right side of God (Acts 7:59-60). from this point the favour ends for the Jews*, they starts to reject this message, Paul gets his vision from Jesus to go to the gentiles and Peter clearly gets the instruction to “Kill and eat…” from now on everything is clean, no more sacramental rules. the favour is no more only for the Jews but for everyone. Now all people are now invited into the Kingdom by the Gospel. (Acts 10: 28, 34-35). *with this I do not say I favour the Replacement theology, I still believe in…first the Jew then the gentile…

If we now quickly wrap up what we have learned so far about Antichrist. From the epistles of John are referring to a person from the Church back then that did not believe Jesus to be the son of God coming in the flesh.

Then the Lawless man in 2 Thessalonians, most probably referring to a special person in that time as it states.

And now trying to read the text of Daniel 9 in a flow, contextual of whom Michael is referring to as Jesus putting an end to the offering has convinced me that my previous view – the futuristic – no longer for me is logical, reason why I have changed my view to the Partly-Preteristic also in connection of how I understands Matthew 24, Luke 21 and the book of Revelation, but that in i coming post. 

I understand this might be new thoughts for you, but for me it has come as a release resulting in a more optimistic view of an Advancing Kingdom right here and right now  and forever according to Isa 9, and not something in the future.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

This obsession about Antichrist – I

Why is it so that this guy, the so called Antichrist often occupy Christians?

Over the years this subject over whom he might be, could easily fill an ocean with movies, books, articles, teachings, sermons and speculations. This was now again the case when UN had its latest conference, and speculations that Antichrist is pulling the threads in the background to establish his global government came up amongst Christians, questioned by Stefan Swärd in his blog, rightfully so, after he wrote an article about it in Världen idag. But also same week a friend asked me about a new Indian prophet that claims God has told him who Antichrist is, 4 years back!

Martin Luther meant it was the pope that lived during his lifetime, and then people have appointed him out to be Muhammed, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and even Obama. I asked in a FB thread, whom it might be, and not a single one could agree on the same person, why I asked them to make up their mind and decide now who it was 🙂

It is not wrong to search the scripture, trying to understand what might happen in the future based on a sincere longing for Gods Kingdom to be established, but all these speculations is taking the focus from our mission to share the gospel of the Kingdom with all people, and is a result, as I have posted earlier, of an eschatology that is born out of the Futuristic view of the book of Revelation, that can lead to an escapism away from our mission, to fill this earth with His Glory.

Again, the way to approach difficult texts in the bible, is to ask the questions: what did it mean “there and then” and to “whom did the text adress”. Basically what is the exegetic understanding?

Did you know that Antichrist as a definition is only mentioned in 4 verses in the epistles of John. He is not mentioned, in the old testament, nor by Jesus and not in the book of Revelation.However, Futuristic interpretations claim that Antichrist is the man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:3“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction…”and the beast in Revelation 13“And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads…” and the one that stops the offerings in Daniel 9:27“And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” And finally referred to in Matthew 24:15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place let the reader understand”. 

Let´s try to exegete each text, if we can come to another understanding or not. Let´s start with the letters of John.

1 John 2 – 18 “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already”.

2 John 17 “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

  1. It is the last hour – back then, not now!
  2. Many antichrists have come – Plurals.
  3. Went out from us – members of the church.
  4. He who denies the Father and Son as God.
  5. Every spirit that denies Jesus coming in the flesh – Gnosticism.
  6. Now is in the world already – back then.
  7. Such a one – Meaning everyone holding that position.

Just based on these verses, we understand that it is one or more persons, coming out from the church there and then, believing in a different gospel, Jesus not being God and not coming in the flesh. But at the same time it is also a spirit.

This is the reason why John in his gospel starts with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” As you can see, it relates not at all to any beast or the man of Lawlessness.

Lets then look at 2 Thessalonians 2 – “3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

Important when we read this scripture is to understand as per “When” this man of lawlessness should enter the scene.

  1. what is restraining him now – not our time, but their time;
  2. already at work – their time;
  3. he who now restrains him – again, then in their time.

Paul also told the Thessalonians “you know what restrains him…” meaning, this was not some odd person far away in the future, but someone that they have talked about, happening around them in their time. Note that Paul died about year 68 AD, so it had to be someone close to that time period.

So who was this man of lawlessness then?

Both John Chrysostom and Augustine believed it was Nero the emperor. Others claim he was John Lewi a Zealot leader who was trying to overthrow the Roman government. Another interesting explanation claims it is the carnal man within us all. I would not be suprised if it was Nero, but I do not really know. My point though is that it most probably was someone living back then, that the Thessalonians knew who it was, and that it is neither Antichrist or the beast that John is talking about in his writings.

I understand that this view does not fit with today’s need of a conspiracy amongst Christians in the west to have a common enemy, but my sincere longing is that we need to have a correct exegesis as our today understanding will determine how we see the Advancing Kingdom as something now that we work for or something to come that we wait for.

I will further try to outline Daniel 9 and Revelation 13 in next part of this post. Until then Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere!

Four different views of end times

When trying to understand eschatology, (biblical teaching of the end times) we need to be aware of the four main views.

First of all understanding it is not only one view will hopefully help us be a bit more humble addressing this subject.

As Christians we all have some kind of relation to eschatology as it is a crucial building brick to the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Some of us afraid even approach the subject, some of us confused not knowing what to believe and then other of us totally confident in what we believe.

Many of us in Pentecostal/charismatic Nordic and American streams have been taught a special form of futuristic view called Dispensationalism, see further explained below.

I myself was growing up with that particular view watching movies like “A thief in the night” and reading books like “Left behind”. It is not unfair to claim that this view has brought a lot of fear into young believers of being just left behind, me included. 15-20 years back when studying theology my mind opened up that there where more big views than the one I was taught. That helped me to position myself in a much more open approach of eschatology. For many years I have not even touched the subject as it tends to be very emotional. But as our view of eschatology will determine how we live our lives on earth I have decided to be much more clear sharing with where I have come to believe and understand this subject.

Let’s look at these four views, to make a brief overview of the landscape of eschatology. (It is much more to this subject, but trying to simplify this as much as possible in this post though).

Before that let me just note that the book of Revelation needs to be read as an apocalyptic literature. E.g. watching a Star War movie or the Lord of the rings and then try to explain what it means. The Book of Revelation is filled with expressions, numbers, codes, symbols that was common in these days, so people of that time knew what the writer meant. But let´s leave it there.

To this four views you can also add Premillennialism, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism that is either or part of below views in mixed ways. E.g some Partial preterists believe in a future millennium and some do not. More in a later post.

The Four views

a. Idealistic View (spiritual view) – uses the allegorical method to interpret the Book of Revelation. The allegorical approach to Revelation was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420). According to this view, the events of Revelation are not tied to specific historical events. The imagery of the book symbolically presents the ongoing struggle throughout the ages of God against Satan and good against evil. In this struggle, the saints are persecuted and martyred by the forces of evil but will one day receive their vindication. In the end, God is victorious, and His sovereignty is displayed throughout ages. Robert Mounce summarizes the idealistic view stating, “Revelation is a theological poem presenting the ageless struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It is a philosophy of history wherein Christian forces are continuously meeting and conquering the demonic forces of evil.”

b. Preteristic View – Preter, which means “past,” is derived from the Latin. There are two major views among preterists: full preterism and partial preterism. Both views believe that the prophecies of the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 (Little Apocalypse) and Revelation were fulfilled in the first century with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and/or the fall of the Roman Empire. Chapters 1-3 (Book of Revelation) describe the conditions in the seven churches of Asia Minor prior to the Jewish war (AD 66-70). The remaining chapters of Revelation and Jesus’ Olivet Discourse describe the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans. Full preterists believe that all the prophecies found in Revelation were fulfilled in AD 70* and that we are now living in the eternal state, or the new heavens and the new earth. Partial preterists believe that most of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and/or Roman Empire, but that chapters 20-22 point to future events such as a future resurrection of believers and return of Christ to the earth. Partial preterists view full preterism as heretical since it denies the second coming of Christ and teaches an unorthodox view of the resurrection. The preterist view, particularly the partial preterist view, is a prominent position held by such notable scholars as R. C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, Kenneth Gentry etc. For preterists it is crucial that the book of Revelation is written before AD70. Partial preterism has been growing in popularity lately thanks to the teaching of Victorious Eschatology, by Harold R. Eberle and Martin Trench but also by Bethel Church and other in the same streams.

c. Historical View – teaches that Revelation is a symbolic representation that presents the course of history from the apostle’s life through the end of the age. The symbols in the apocalypse correspond to events in the history of Western Europe, including various popes, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and rulers such as Charlemagne. Most interpreters place the events of their day in the later chapters of Revelation. Many adherents of this position view chapters 1-3 as seven periods in church history. The breaking of the seals in chapters 4-7 symbolizes the fall of the Roman Empire. The Trumpet judgments in chapters 8-10 represent the invasions of the Roman Empire by the Vandals, Huns, Saracens, and Turks. Among Protestant historicists of the Reformation, the antichrist in Revelation was believed to be the papacy. Chapters 11-13 in Revelation represent the true church in its struggle against Roman Catholicism. The bowl judgments of Revelation 14-16 represent God’s judgment on the Catholic Church, culminating in the future overthrow of Catholicism depicted in chapters 17-19. Prominent scholars who held this view include John Wycliffe, John Knox, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Charles Finney, C. H. Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry. This view rose to popularity during the Protestant Reformation because of its identification of the pope and the papacy with the beasts of Revelation 13. However, since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has declined in popularity and influence.

d. Futuristic View – teaches that the events of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation chapters 4-22 will occur in the future. Futurists divide the book of Revelation into three sections as indicated in 1:19: “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Chapter 1 describes the past (“what you have seen”), chapters 2-3 describe the present (“what is now”), and the rest of the book describes future events (“what will take place later”). Futurists apply a literal approach to interpreting Revelation. Chapters 4-19 refer to a period known as the seven-year tribulation (Dan. 9:27). During this time, God’s judgments are actually poured out upon mankind as they are revealed in the seals, trumpets, and bowls. Chapter 13 describes a literal future world empire headed by a political and religious leader represented by the two beasts. Chapter 17 pictures a harlot who represents the church in apostasy. Chapter 19 refers to Christ’s second coming and the battle of Armageddon followed by a literal thousand-year rule of Christ upon the earth in chapter 20. Chapters 21-22 are events that follow the millennium: the creation of a new heaven and a new earth and the arrival of the heavenly city upon the earth.

Futurists contend that the literal interpretation of Revelation finds its roots in the ancient church fathers. Elements of this teaching, such as a future millennial kingdom, are found in the writings of Clement of Rome (AD 96), Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), Irenaeus (AD 115-202), Tertullian (AD 150-225) and others. Futurists hold that the church fathers taught a literal interpretation of Revelation until Origen (AD 185-254) introduced allegorical interpretation. This then became the popular form of interpretation when taught by Augustine (AD 354-430). Literal interpretation of Revelation remained throughout the history of the church and rose again to prominence in the modern era.

Dispensationalism (special futuristic view) developed as a system from the teachings of John Nelson Darby(1800–82), who strongly influenced the Plymouth Brethren of the 1830s in Ireland and England. The original concept came when Darby considered the implications of Isaiah 32 for Israel. He saw that prophecy required a future fulfillment and realization of Israel’s kingdom. The New Testament church was seen as a separate program not related to that kingdom. Thus arose a prophetic earthly kingdom program for Israel and a separate “Mystery” heavenly program for the church. In order to not conflate the two programs, the prophetic program had to be put on hold to allow for the church to come into existence. Then it is necessary for the church to be raptured away before prophecy can resume its earthly program for Israel.

From this, we have got the teaching that what happens physically in Israel happens spiritual with the Church and vice verse.

In this teaching we have learned that we are now in a “Paranthesis” or Time-Out sessions when the Church has its Grace period. Then we will be raptured and the church allowing the prophetic clock for Israel to start up again. Then the Jewish remnant becomes manifest through the Great Tribulation that will bring them to Christ.

A personal reflection is that many today are afraid that Antichrist will raise up and a global kingdom will control all people reason, why the vote for more Populistic Nationalists partyn to protect against the Globalism that is the so called Antichrist agenda. I am not one of those though.

Despite the various views, there are some common threads upon which Christians agree.

Agreed views – All views believe that God is sovereign and in charge of all that occurs in history and its ultimate conclusion. Except for full preterism and some forms of idealism, all believe in the physical second coming of Christ. All views believe in the resurrection from the dead. All believe there will be a future judgment. All believe in an eternal state in which believers will be with God, and unbelievers will be separated from Him. All agree upon the importance of the study of prophecy and its edification for the body of Christ.

My personal view

As mentioned earlier I have personally moved away from a futuristic pessimistic view to an optimistic view of an Advancing Kingdom on earth until Jesus comes back to a spotless bride of Christ when all knees will bow (not because they have to but most of them willingly). I see myself as a historical or partial preterist, but more of that in a coming post.

That is how I understand the future. You may not agree, but I have now landed in this view and it has given me great boldness and optimism of a Kingdom without end filling the whole earth with its glory. It is here and it is growing! See my previous posts.

Yes, we might always end up in difficult times during the road that could be times of tribulation, but I do not await a certain time of tribulation, I await a Kingdom that will shake the world back to Christ.

Restoration vs. rapture

https://youtu.be/PNaf8WjAB44

Alright, this blogg might shake you a little bit but put your seat belts on and enjoy the ride. If you do not agree, no problem as long as you dig further into what might be right and ask yourself, could Andreas be right here?

During the years, I have seen a form of escapism growing strong in the body of Christ that I believe is a fruit of the Fly away (Rapture) theology, dispensationalism and the common attitude that the world does not really matter and its going to be really bad, but we are going to fly away anyway.

I believe this to be in contrast with the Restoration plan of Gods creation God has given us through Jesus Christ – Let thy Kingdom come, on earth as in heaven, through us.

This Rapture teaching can in some ways be defined as a form of Gnosticism, being one of the big heresies during the first century Church.

If you study the epistles,  you will find the writers fighting against this heresy, over and over again, putting strong emphasizes in writing like; “Jesus coming in the flesh”. 

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” – 2 John 7 

It is interesting to note that Antichrist described here, is not a potential future evil political leader, instead someone in their time that promoted gnosticism. More about that in a coming post.

When you study the bible it is a must to do your exegesis correct . Poor exegesis will lead to wrong Hermeneutics.

Unfortunately this is very common among Christians that wants to be loyal to the bible and read it literal, as they have heard from the pulpit, is a good thing to do.

Another thing that is important when you study your bible is to put higher trust/value in what is the common theme or summary in several books in the bible together, instead of a theology based on a few verses. Psalm 119:160 – The sum of your word is truth…”

E.g. from the theme in NT we see that In Christ, circumcision, or any other physical actions, counts for nothing anymore. So when you hear theology built on your salvation lost if you get a mark on your hand or forehead, it should raise some red flags.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal 5:6

What is the Rapture theology?

Basically a teaching being very popular in the Western World, saying Jesus is going to come on the clouds, not touching earth, to suck up all Christian meanwhile God will judge Israel and the world under 7 terrible years. This teaching has it roots from 1850 and the Plymouth Brothers and then a man called Darby. The teaching differs as per when the rapture are going to take place, but they all agree on that all Christians are going to be saved from this terrible season of 7 years.

A fruit of Rapture Theology is that we are going to fly away from this mess, so we do not really have to care. That is what I mean with escapism. 

As I understands it, it narrows down to what exegesis you are using:

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” 1 Tess 4:17

In Acts 17:1-9 – Luke is describing the situation in Thessaloniki with the Ceasar Cult that Paul and Silas was facing together with the first believers. One exegetic model to understand the background to why Paul is using this wordings, coming in the air, or in the clouds (parousia)  to describe Jesus return, see (Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke, Seyoon Kim) is that when Ceasar had built his temple, he was to come and inspect it.

When the emperor arrived, they blew a trumpet and the entire city came out to welcome him and show him what they had managed to built and also rebuild due to common earthquakes.

Paul is using this as a picture of Jesus return, everyone will come out and welcome him and the many followers of Christ will then show him what they have built. This to comfort the new believers under persecution in a city built on the Caesar Cult.

Secondly, if we look at what Paul is writing about Jesus return some years later, in 1 Corinth 15, “51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”

You do not find any rapture in these verses, when Paul is describing the return of Jesus. Did he forget it or had he changed his mind? No, the most natural answer is what I just described about Caesar coming in the clouds.

We know one thing for sure and that is that Jesus will come back, but not to rapture some first away on the clouds, instead Jesus is coming back as promised in Acts 1:11 Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  

Then the other scripture used to promote the rapture is: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1

This is believed to be a metaphor of the church being sucked up, as the Church is not mentioned anymore after chapter 4, it is interpreted to mean, church has been taken away.

This can as I understands it simply not be the case, as this is describing something that happened to John in his vision. I think it is very vague to interpret anything else out from this verse.

There are a few more verses that is being used to confirm the Rapture, but I leave them for now as these two are the major ones. 

Restoration – back to Eden

If you see through the history you will find out that Christians in all times has worked to improve the world, based on the understanding from the bible to restore the creation, to be salt and light to this world. 

In Genesis 1:27-28 – We saw that God was giving mankind the mission to take care of the earth, rule over it, multiply to be a great family of God on earth. 

Then the fall came and with that followed the curse.

When man-kind fell, he lost his Kingdom, not his religion.

Immediately God is announcing his plan of restoration. 

Gen 2:15  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Paul put it like this in Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

When Jesus is coming into the scene, he is not focusing on his death and resurrection as could be expected. I do not say it is not of importance, but instead the first years, he is constantly talking about the Kingdom.

His focus was to restore man-kind back to its original mission, as in Eden, to walk in royalty again, being Kings and Priests again, on this earth, (see my previous posts).

As we then understands the miracle of the death and resurrection, it is not primarily to pay the price for our sins, but to regain the authority back from Satan, (Christus Victor) and give it to us to again restore the earth back to Eden, the original plan. See Matthew 16:19.

NT Wright puts it like this: “Jesus died for our sins, not so that we could sort out abstract ideas, but so that we, having been put right, could become part of God´s plan to put this whole world right.”The day Revolution began, NT Wright

When Israel was to return back from the exil, Isaiah was using a picture to describe what they should come back to. 

Isaiah 55:1-2 – “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food”.

The word Isaiah used for “delight” was the Hebrew word Eden. Its a reference to restoration. So when Isaiah in verse 12-13 is outlining the future vision, not only for the Jews but also for us he puts it like: 

12  “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13  Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Do you see the references to Eden and the fall?

In Genesis 3 :17-18 – “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…”

I am also thinking of Pauls word in Romans 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 

Later in Isaiah, chapter 65:17-23 – 17  “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18  But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19  I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20  No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21  They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22  They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoyHebrew shall wear out” id=”fb3-3″ href=”https://www.esv.org/Isaiah+65/#f3-“>3 the work of their hands. 23  They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them.

This is not only a word to the exils, but also a future vision to us, what God is thinking with universe, in the new heavens and new earth, people will live and work, but no longer in vain.

This is back to Eden, this is what the bible is talking about from the first book to the last book of the bible

Revelation 1:5b-6 “…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”

Revelation 5:10  “…and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

From the beginning, creation was not evil, it was God given, and the original plan putting man-kind in Eden giving us mandate to guard it, rule and multiply was to be co-partners or co-creators together with God.

For many of us the Church is just about “sin-management”, when it should be about full “Restoration management” – Reestablish the Kingdom of God on earth and in all people to prepare for the King to come back – not to fly away in glory.

In Christ we are to restore the whole creation, with everything in it and on it, until one day Jesus is coming back and every knee shall bend.

We are not to be raptured and leave the earth to its own future, we are the “guardians of the planet” why should we then leave it – it does not make sense.

Heavenly colonies on earth

When we discuss Gods Kingdom on earth, it somewhat get a bit blurry when we try to understand in what way the Kingdom will be materialized.

In the world today, we are used with several ruling or governmental system such as, dictatorship, communism, socialism, capitalism, islamism (sharia), feudalism and finally democracy. Neither of these system are what God had in mind when creating the world and mankind.

The Kingdom concept is not invented on earth, it is a heavenly concept.

If you are like me, I would think democracy to be the best system. But actually, that is not really a solid system. One major problem with democracy is that “majority rules”, and when majority moves away from the ethics and righteousness of God, for example in a liberal and secular direction as today in the west, it will become a challenge to stick to Christian ethics and belief system. Utilitarianism is typical a result of such idea systems.

I do not say we then should escape from society, instead we should be there and fight for our freedom, and work for the majority to move in Godlike direction.

However democracy is not God´s final solution to restore this world back to what God intended it to be, instead it is Kingdom in its best and divine form, compared to nothing yet seen in the world.

If we return back to the original plan, we see that God intended to colonize earth from heaven, to extend his influence on earth through us.

All Kingdoms need to possess land. And colonies need land to be owned.

The earth is the Lord ‘s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Psalms‬ ‭24:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And he has asked us to steward the Earth.

The heavens are the Lord ‘s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” Psalms‬ ‭115:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If you look up in a dictionary what a colony means, it says:

“A group of people who leave their native country to form in a new land a settlement subject to, or connected with, the parent nation.

After Adam, Jesus was the first heavenly colonizer that came to show mankind how God intended it to be and what his purpose was. We are then his followers subjected to the same purpose extending his Kingdom on earth.

For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah‬ ‭45:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If we understand God´s purpose with earth and us, we will understand what he is doing in our time.

For me it is important to clarify that our purpose is not to go home to heaven, but instead to multiply and rule earth as God intended from the very beginning. Yes heaven is our home and where we come from, but not our destiny.

As stated in the dictionary, we are a foreign people from a native country sent to form a new land.

The concept of colonization is the most important component of a Kingdom that we must understand or else it will be impossible to fully grasp the essence of the message of the Bible, the prophets, and the focus and priority of Jesus Christ.” – Myles Munroe

So how do we do it practically then?

We work together with God to bring his Kingdom Culture down to earth.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans‬ ‭14:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul states clearly, it has nothing to do with religious rules to be full filled, More of a divine and heavenly culture.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As Jesus is our example and he by his life showed us how God´s will was done on earth, we understand the Kingdom of God will not come by force, instead with love. Agape love that gives without expecting anything in return.

Agape love is best described by one man that dies for all mankind on a cross.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When we teach that we are a royal family that should walk in dominion, it can only be exercised the same way as Jesus did, through love.

We know how we are, why we are here and our future, therefore we can give our lives, without fear, sacrifice our egos and instead invest in the Kingdom like Jesus did – by investing in people – bible call it discipleship!

This will influence the world with His Kingdom Culture. One by one. This will change this world into the restored plan God has for earth – one by one!

The Song about the Kingdom

The year was 1970, 48 years ago, and I got Eli Stanley Jones autobiography written 1968. Stanley Jones was born 1884 in Maryland, USA, and called to missionary service in India 1907.  

He was called “the world´s greatest missionary evangelist” by TIME magazine in 1938. E. Stanley Jones had a great impact on the millions of people throughout the world who heard him speak or read his many books including presidents, politicians, scientists, students, businessmen, ministers.

Amazon presents him: “Jones spent 70 years traveling throughout the world. His approach to evangelism presented Christ as the universal Son of Man without the trappings of Western culture.”

I like to read and many nights I read this book about the Kingdom very thoroughly and used my pencil to mark. The Swedish book title is “Sången om Riket” (The Song about the Kingdom), the English title is “A Song of Ascents”. I was captured by the message about the Kingdom. Still after 48 years it is burning inside me. E. Stanley Jones theology and teaching was:

• The Kingdom of God is the ultimate order and God´s answer to man´s total need.

• The Kingdom of God is to be taken seriously as a present reality.

• Jesus believed in life and in its redemption.

• The Kingdom of God is the collective redemption of all mankind.

E. Stanley Jones went to Soviet during the 1930-ies to study how an atheistic communistic kingdom functioned and could be successful. During this long journey he recognized that pagan or worldly or political ideologies as communism, nationalism, fascism, capitalism, etc. could not stand. They will not create peace, life, freedom or success in the long run. Just one Kingdom is unshakeable because of its unshakeable King! “We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken” (Hebr. 12:28).

Jesus is Lord, and if we have any doubt, we can simply recall the resurrection on the third day. Put out the candles, the sun is up. Jesus is alive now and Jesus is Lord”. Since then E. Stanley Jones made known the Kingdom of God.

In 1963 E. Stanley Jones received the Gandhi Peace Award. Jones had been a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi and wrote a biography on his life. This book inspired Martin Luther King to “non-violence” in the Civil Rights Movement. This was Kingdom life.

E. Stanley Jones is also the founder of the Christian Ashram movement. “Christian Ashrams seek to help all people deepen their experience of the dynamic reality of God in daily living. The word “ashram” – meaning “retreat” – is a word that comes from Sanskrit.” (United Christian Ashrams).

In the summer 1971 I participated in an Ashram in Sjövik, Dalecarlia, Sweden. E. Stanley Jones was there and he was teaching sitting in a wheel chair. Jones was 87 years of age but had strength and power to teach about the Kingdom. He was mentally and spiritually alive. I asked him to write a greeting in my bible, and he did. “Jesus is Lord! E. Stanley Jones.”

From Sweden E. Stanley Jones went to USA, then Israel and finally India, where he died in January 1973. The legacy after E. Stanley Jones is great.

Amazon presents E. Stanley Jones´ book “The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person” in this way:

• Jesus swept onto the scene declaring that the Kingdom of God had arrived! He proclaimed that we would experience life at its fullest only when we organize our lives around the Kingdom.

• E. Stanley Jones suggests that life in any other way is a muddled, maddening, and impossible way to live.

• Throughout the centuries we have lost the Kingdom as a clearly defined and workable system for order and influence in our daily lives. We have reduced the Kingdom by putting it into narrower molds, a refuge now, a present security, a future hope, anything but the Kingdom as Jesus preached it – God’s total answer to man’s total need now.”

• Dr. Jones shows us how to claim our spiritual heritage and the abundant life promised us by embracing the Kingdom and Person of Jesus. He suggests how our experience with God and His Kingdom should be taught and shared in the life of the individual, in the life of the church and in the nations of the world.

I am grateful I met this ambassador of God´s Kingdom! 

I am inspired by E. Stanley Jones to work even when you are old, “while it is day: the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

God´s Kingdom is at hand! When we have put our hand to the plow, we are not fit for the kingdom of God, if we are looking back or quit (Luke 9:62).

Jesus has promised we will do greater works on earth, because He has gone to His Father (Joh. 14:12).

This is life at its fullest when we organize our lives around the Kingdom.

Kiell Tofters