I didn't arrive here overnight, of course. It was a long and quite-wrenching journey. My mind, like all human minds, sought to cling to what it *thought* it knew ... anything new, or different, is at first perceived as a direct-threat (truth is most-always first perceived to be a blasphemy ... take Jesus' teachings as a case in point), and thus resisted, if not outright attacked.
We, as human beings, seem to prefer the "security" of the familiar, rather than the risk of the Truth-adventure.
I fully understand that ... I've lost half my hair, much sleep, and most of my friends, in this Truth-adventure ...!
(& I notice that Jesus said this would happen ...)
Anywho, I came to the place where I had to question "what the hell is hell" about 2+ years ago ... and it was INtense! Much agony in the process. I had come to a place where I believed it in my heart, more than I believed the traditional story of "hell" ... and yet, when I read the last chapter of Isaiah, wherein it was the "new heavens and new earth", and there were all those bodies being viewed with much shame ... this did NOT fit my understanding of this being the "utopia" I'd been taught was coming (the Reign of Christ on the earth), and my understanding that all would be saved...!
This appeared to be a case for annihilation, more than for the salvation of all.
And so, I was perplexed, and I cried out to God for His understanding ... I wanted Truth.
Enter my friend, who had been checking into a concept called "Preterism" ... the belief that "all is past." I'd never heard of it. But, at her urging, I purchased a book called "Beyond Creation Science", and read it ... it was new to me, and yet it made sense ... fitting the scriptures together in a way that the traditional view never did. In order to believe the traditional view, it requires that we suspend our thinking, that we overlook inconsistencies and incompatibilities that a literal-rendering causes ... and that we assume a "we can't know truth here and now - we just have to go on faith, and truth that God will make sense of this after we die."
Well, that flies in the face of "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" ... "the Spirit will lead you into all truth" ... "[God] desires all men to be saved [from their own dark/erroneous thinking] and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
It seems to me that God *wants* us to know Truth, to know and experience His perspective, to operate in the Mind of Christ -- which we have.
So, what's in the way of knowing this Truth ...? The lies we believe ... the stories of man we've received and believed ... the traditions of man which continue to nullify the word of God (that which the Spirit within is showing us).
So, about 18 months ago (not long ago!), I found myself delving into this understanding of "all is fulfilled" ... wanting nothing but truth ... here's what I wrote then, in May of 2008 (I'll put updated-thoughts in brackets, along the way):
I've been reading "Beyond Creation Science":
They talked about the "coming in the clouds" ... "coming in the clouds" = judgment, I can see that, biblically -- it makes sense, given how the metaphor is throughout
the OT, and the Jews who were watching Him ascend, would've understood the beyond-the-surface meaning.
(we do seem rather stuck on the surface, in our day and age...)
[When I read this account, in the first chapter of Acts ... I notice that they saw Jesus being lifted up ... and then being obscured by clouds ... and the angels said that HE would return the same way, i.e., obscured by clouds, or "out of their sight" ... this speaks of Him being discerned only spiritually, not literally/physically ... and I recall that Jesus said the Kingdom does not come by observation ... we can't SEE it with physical eyes. The expectation that Jesus would return in a way that would be seen by everyone on earth, is a tradition of man, not aligned with what Jesus actually taught.]
As I continue to read, what REALLY strikes me, is how the war between the Romans and the Jews (AD 70), when the Temple was destroyed, has been just swept aside, in our modern teachings...! I mean, this was a HUGE war! Two million Jews died in Jerusalem -- half were slaughtered (horrendously), and another half died, slowly, from starvation and atrocities committed against them, as the city was
surrounded. Two million! That's enormous in today's population, but can you imagine the enormity of it THEN?
[I've heard people argue that this cannot be true, as Jerusalem didn't then have 2 million occupants ... however, the siege by Rome occurred during a Jewish festival ... when Jews gathered from the whole "world" (known, occupied-by-Jews world) ... in that case, 2 million was then conceivable.]
I've never been taught this! The destruction of the Temple in 70AD has always been a mere blip in history -- just barely mentioned.
It was an incredibly destructive war -- Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, bringing an end to the age of the Old Covenant (& some say, judgment against the city that rejected and killed the Messiah, just as Jesus predicted).
Josephus, a Jewish (non-Christian) historian was one of the few to survive this war (because he defected to Rome, and is considered by Jews to be a traitor, thus not believed), and wrote about it extensively -- his reports eerily echo the predictions of Jesus, the apostles, and even Revelation.
Here's a link to Josephus's "The Wars of the Jews" (scroll down a bit): http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/JOSEPHUS.HTM
Here are some things that stood out to me, in reading "Beyond Creation Science":
- The Bible has nothing to say about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple as *past* history. The Bible speaks about it only as prophecy. This should suggest that the NT books were already written before this event took place. It seems inconceivable for the NT writers to remain completely silent about the Jewish War and
destruction of Jerusalem with its temple, if these events lay in their past as they wrote the NT.
- Eusebius [known as the "Father of Church History", and, incidentally, an admirer of Origen who was a Christian Universalist] claimed that the early Christians were warned by "approved men" (apostles?) and that they listened, and left Jerusalem and Judea. Eusebius then endorsed the history of Josephus, a Jewish general and
prisoner of war who witnessed the entire siege.
(and then, Eusebius himself is quoted):
"The number of calamities which everywhere fell upon the nation at that time; the extreme misfortunes to which the inhabitants of Judea were especially subjected, the thousands of men, as well as women and children, that perished by the sword, by famine, and by other forms of death innumerable -- of these things, as well as the great many sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets [Dan 9:27], stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire -- all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history of Josephus."
- The difficulty is that most Christians do not know about the Jewish-Roman war. Even those who do know vaguely about this war cannot imagine that anything as horrible as what Jesus predicted could have ever happened in the past. What if Josephus confirms that it did?
- When Rome invaded and destroyed Judea and Jerusalem some 1-2 million people died and 100,000 were taken away into slavery. Yet apparently not one Christian was lost... Jesus had warned His followers and they listened.
- Jesus warned, "For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now -- and never to be equaled again (Matt 24:21)."
And, Josephus wrote: "It appears to me that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, are not so considerable as those of the Jews ... This makes it impossible for me to contain my lamentations (The Wars of the Jews, Preface, Para 4)."
- Josephus writes of the false prophets and deceptive leaders who rose up, fooling vast numbers of the people in Judea: "These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like
madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty... An Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives ..."
- Josephus goes on to talk of wars, and rumors of wars (numerous ones!), and a great flood, and earthquakes, and famines, persecutions and tribulations, and Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke 11:20), and lightning "as from the east to the west": "There broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one
would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming (Josephus, Wars, Book 4, Chapter 4, Para 5)." Sounds a lot like what Jesus foretold, including, "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfil ed." (Luke 21:21-23)
- Josephus also wrote, "...neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. (Josephus, Wars, Book 5, Chapter 10, Para 5)."
- Jesus warned about signs in the heavens, including the sign of the Son of Man, when He came in power and great glory (i.e., judgment/vengeance). Josephus writes of what happened just before the calamity began: "... they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future
desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the 8th day of the month Nisan, and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour... At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple... [and don't miss this part!]... a certain prodigious and
incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals, for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. (Josephus, Wars, Book 6, Chapter 5, Para 3)."
- Others in history confirmed the following: the fire in the temple melted the gold so that it ran down into the cracks in the floors. Not only did the Romans tear down the temple, stone by stone ... After the ruins cooled, the Roman soldiers pried up every stone in order to retrieve the gold. The temple was destroyed. Not one stone
was left on another.
- For 1800 years, these historical events were common knowledge among Christians, Yet for reasons unknown, the implications were never systematically explored. Since the rise of modern futurist views of prophecy in the 19th and 20th centuries, this history has largely been forgotten.
[I have since read through some of the writings of the early church "fathers" ... and discovered that many of them did believe that Jesus had "returned", albeit spiritually, as HE had said, and not literally/physically, as the traditions of man teach ... I've written extensively about that elsewhere ... I'll provide a link.]
Ok, folks, this has me stunned. Why is this not common knowledge among the Church? I mean, it happened -- it's verified by secular, eye-witness historians. Why have we not been taught how horrendous that war was, and of the things that happened -- which sound SO much like what Jesus and the apostles wrote about?!? And WHY, if the epistles and Revelation were written AFTER the war, and the destruction of the Temple, why is it not mentioned...? And why is John, during his vision on Patmos, supposedly in ~95AD, told by the angel to measure the Temple, if it were already destroyed (would John not object, if this were being commanded 25 years after it's cataclysmic destruction)?
This puts a whole new understanding on the words of Jesus, when He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away 'til all these things take place (Matt: 24:34)."
Here's how the Amplifed Bible puts it: "34Truly I tell you, this generation ([a]the whole multitude of people living at the same time, [b]in a definite, [c]given period) will not pass away till all these things [d]taken together take place."
And He also said, 27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Mt. 16:27, 28)
[Note: this cannot refer to the Transfiguration, which occurred 6 days later ... for there were no angels, no judgment, no manifestation of the Kingdom. Besides, how absurd for Jesus to note that "some of them" would still be alive in 6 days, when they *all* were...! However, forty years from then, while most of them had been martyred, some of them were indeed still alive, when the events of 70AD unfolded. This also does not pertain to Pentecost, which was also devoid of judgment and angels ...]
I also notice that Jesus told Caiaphas, the High Priest in Jerusalem, that he would witness the Son of Man coming into His Kingdom ... according to historians, Caiaphas was alive, and in Jerusalem, in 70AD.
[BTW, about those dead bodies in the new heavens and new earth, prophesied in Isaiah ... as Jesus had also predicted, after Rome had destroyed Jerusalem, the bodies of the Jews were indeed dumped, uncermoniously, into the dreaded and unclean garbage pit of Gehenna ... (erroneously translated as "hell") ... viewed with others in great shame. The "new heavens and new earth is synonymous with the new covenant, and New Jerusalem ... spiritually entered and experienced ... here and now.]
Ok, I'm intrigued ... I'll continue reading about this.
If I've misunderstood what was written in the Bible, due to erroneous teachings of man, I want to know. I want truth. At all cost.
[It has indeed cost me quite a bit ...]
At this point, I still have more questions than understanding --
still can't figure out how 1,000 years of peaceful reign = 40 years
of non-peace, but I'll keep reading and studying this.
[I've come to see the "millennium" or 1,000 years, more symbolically than literally -- I further believe it was never intended to be read literally (Revelation is a symbolic writing ... as apocalyptic literature always is intended). Christianity has done the world a grave disservice in reading the text as literal, rather than as symbolic! The number one thousand means "Divine Completeness" ... what God had designed to show us, through the historic-unfolding of the covenantal-story, had indeed been fulfilled, completed. It was never about a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ ... it was always about the fulfillment and completion of Him being all in all, for those who have eyes to see this ... for those who let go of the Adamic consciousness of darkness/blindness, and who realize that they are (& always have been!) In Christ, in the Christ consciousness of being "born again" to the Abundant Life. It was always about seeing what had always been done, from the foundation of the world, who we had always been, In Him ... and God used the panoply/stage/screen of history to *show* us, allowing the micro-story of our own journey(s) to be writ-large in the out-playing if the macro-story of history -- HIS-story...! Do you see...?]
Yes, there have been those throughout history who have seen this (most have been maligned and killed by the establishment of the institutional church...!). Barnabus, Eusebius, Origen, Athanasius, Bede, and scores of others, were seeing this in full, or in part. It's all there, written down in history, for all to see ... and, apparently, for most to ignore.
THAT is the power of the traditions of man ... the power of group-think ... the power of propaganda ... to believe what we've been told, by humans, over and over, denying/grieving/squelching the Voice of God (i.e., the Word of God within us), enforced by the fear of trusting our own hearts, getting it wrong, and being sitting ducks for the "wrath of God". The God that we've (all, collectively) created has besmirched the true nature, character, and plan of the One True God ... we have "graven images" of a false god in our (collective and individual) minds, which have blinded us to the real God.
But, God wants His reputation, plan, and utter *Victory* over the darkness of man's thoughts, BACK...! He IS awakening us, we ARE awakening, we ARE responding, we ARE coming to see the truth ... and it IS contagious...!
Go and be infectious...! Let your Light so shine...!
P.S. For those who want to *really* dig into this, I had an extensive conversation with some folks on a site called SimpleChurch ... most were opposed, even violently-so, to what I was sharing, but others affirmed that this is what they are seeing, too. It's long, but for those who are being led, it could be a good place to start:
For those who would like to read only the excerpts from "church fathers", start here (begin with the 9th post down):
P.P.S. There is an organization that BEAUTIFULLY melds together, all of these seemingly diverse views ... all "saved", all fulfilled, all as One in God ... Presence Internaitonal. While their website is undergoing a complete overhaul, the discussion forum can still be acceessed here: www.presence.tv
Tim King, the CEO, has a new blog as well, about the "Post-Christian" understanding (HIGHLY recommended!): http://postchristianblog.com/