Hashkama #54 - Food for Thought, or Food for Scoffers?

 There has been an increase in the flow of teaching, both good and bad, on the signs of the coming again of Jesus, and interest in the Second Coming has grown in recent times, particularly since the erroneous exposition of Joel 2 and the ‘Blood Red Moons’.

False teachers and false prophets have come and gone throughout the centuries. There have been many claiming to be Jesus, and others proclaiming that Jesus is coming on a certain date and to one obscure place or another, often on a mountain where ‘disciples’ gather together waiting for the event. Scripture implies that these particular false teachers and false prophets will not go away.

There is however another breed that Peter says we should be aware of; false teachers that are coming with a relatively new message, one that you have heard only occasionally but one that will increase. The apostle Peter mentions them in his Second Epistle (2 Peter 3:3-4). These people are wilfully forgetful. They deliberately forget that it was by God’s word that the heavens existed, and the earth was formed out of water and with water. They deliberately forget that the ancient world was destroyed by the Flood; and that by the same word the present heavens and earth will be put to fire. We have the evidence of the Creator in:

• Scripture

• Creation;

• Science

Professor Nathan Aviezer of Israel’s Bar Ilan University said very recently that “Without addressing who or what caused it, the mechanics of the creation process in the Big Bang match the Genesis story perfectly.” He further explained that “The universe had a definite starting point – a creation – as described in the Book of Genesis. To deny this now is to deny scientific fact.” Yet they do and will continue to deny God as Creator, even though the evidence of God’s eternal power and divine nature is clearly seen from what has been made. With darkened hearts those that deliberately choose to forget have enrolled in the evolutionist’s camp and are deniers of God as Creator. Their faith is in what has been made rather than the One who made them. They suppress the truth by their wickedness, and have the form of godliness while denying its power. They take up the Bible not for light and revelation, but to turn it into an object of ridicule.

Judgment and destruction is coming when ungodly men will stand before the God whom they have denied. The world was unaware when Jesus came as man, “He was in the world and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not.” The time before His Second Coming is reminiscent of the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39) when people were eating and drinking and doing their own thing and knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. These people thought Noah was a crazy man believing what he believed and building his huge wooden structure.

Genesis 7:15 speaks about all creatures coming to Noah and going into the Ark with him “by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life.” In Matthew 24:40-41 at the time of the coming of the Son of Man it mentions “twos” again, but with a difference. The “twos” in Genesis are animals and they entered the Ark. In Matthew they are people and one will be taken and the other will be left. Scripture gives us instances of both men (“…two men will be in a field…”) and women (“Two women will be grinding with a hand mill…”). The man is not superior to the woman or the woman to the man; and this separation will happen at the time of the coming of the Son of Man (v.39). We do not know when Jesus will come so we should watch and be ready (v.42). Whether one is “taken in judgment” or “taken to be gathered with the elect” (v.31) is not the emphasis here, but we could take note that the verb “took . . . away” (v.39) differs from “taken” in vv.40-41. It is the unexpectedness of the event by means of the sudden cleavage that is being brought to our attention. Beware of living at ease in Zion warned the prophet, Amos. We can be industrious physically but at ease spiritually and therefore not in a position of readiness for the Lord’s return. The people at the time of Amos were living under a false sense of security. Amos warned them, and the warning is there for us today, of impending doom.

In 2 Peter 3:3 there is something that Peter wants us to understand. He doesn’t want us to misunderstand or neglect anything of what he is saying. Peter says, “First of all.” This is the very first thing on his list before all the other things I have mentioned about the people in question. “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come…” This is not speaking of someone that doesn’t agree with you about God or about the teachings of the Bible and perhaps does a bit of sneering. This is talking about ‘aggressive’ scoffing. They will be outrageous in their scoffing of the things of God. These scoffers will come “scoffing and following their own evil desires.”

Teachers in the Church that speculate and conjecture about the signs and teach such are providing fuel for the fire of the scoffers. Expectation of Jesus Coming is raised by the speculators and then dashed when Jesus doesn’t come and the prophecies prove to be false. This develops an atmosphere where the scoffers can thrive and Christians begin to question the Bible and doubt creeps in, and is food for the scoffers who will say: “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4). They say this mocking the faith of believers and trying to build an argument to support their own position, a naturalistic argument—a kind of uniformitarianism that rules out any divine intervention in history. They are the false teachers of chapter 2. (See also Daniel 7:25; 11:36-39; Matthew 24:3-5, 11, 23-36; 1 Timothy 4:1ff; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Jude 17-18). The Greek word in Jude 18 and and 2 Peter 3:3 is the same Greek word “empaiktes.” The actual word used in the text is “empaiktai” and it is a plural noun which means “mocker, scoffer, deceiver,” and is used only in these two verses in the whole of the New Testament.

Next month people will be out watching for the coming tetrad moons to turn red. The term ‘Blood red moons’ has been taken out of context for effect and to make it fit the prophecy found in the Book of Joel (a rather bad fit!), and is not a designation that is used by astronomers. They rather speak of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes as the ‘hunter’s moon,’ and the ‘harvest moon.’ There is a possibility that none of the moons will change colour; they might, but they might not. If the one on April 15th fails to turn red there will be three more to come, so there will be three more chances, but these will not be visible in Europe anyway. The sun, which features in Joel’s prophecy and which is being quoted for the blood red moon theory, will not be turned to darkness, because this is not a fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy. It is the moon that will be completely blocked from the sun’s direct light by the earth’s umbral shadow.

A great emphasis is made about the moons being a warning to Israel. That begs the question: Why is it then that none of the moons in the tetrad will appear over Jerusalem or Israel? (Well, there might be a tiny, tiny glimpse)

Let us see what the NASA site actually says about where these moons will be visible:

• The total eclipse of the moon on 15th April will be visible only in North America and parts of South America.  The eclipse will be at its maximum at 3:45 am in Washington DC (If this is indeed a warning, it would appear to be a warning to the USA rather than Israel!) and at 11:45 pm in Anchorage, Alaska.

• You will be able to see the Feast of Tabernacles eclipse on 8 October—if you are floating about fishing on your dingy in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

• In 2015, the total eclipse of the moon that occurs at Passover will be visible only in Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Russia and Alaska.

• Now the really important one—Israel!  The Feast of Tabernacles, September 28th 2015.  The red moon (if indeed it is red) that everyone has been anxiously anticipating will just about be visible on the horizon as it will be sunset, and will not last more than a few minutes.  It is like the 3 minute warning!  Some warning!  Now you see it…now you don’t.

Lunar eclipses occur between 2 and 4 times per year, and quite often they have fallen together on the first days of Passover and Sukkot, the Festivals being spaced about six months apart on full moons. Most of these however pass through the earth’s outer shadow and simply dims the moon, and on the whole goes unnoticed. A total lunar eclipse is seen at its best as the moon passes completely into the earth’s ‘inner shadow’ and gives the appearance of it turning a dark red colour. The lunar eclipses for 2014 and 2015 form a tetrad, which are rare, but they do take place several times a century; the last one was in 2003. (For more on the moons see Hashkama #52).

In the commentary by FF Bruce on the Book of Acts, Bruce says,

“The ‘last days’ began with Christ’s first advent and will end with His second advent; they are the days during which the age to come overlaps the present age. Hence the assurance with which Peter could quote the words of Joel and declare ‘This is that.’”

We so often concentrate on what we think is in Scripture rather than take in what actually is in the text. Bruce continues in his commentary,

“The quotation in vv.17-21 is from Joel 2:28-32. Joel announces the coming of the day of the Lord, the day when He will act in righteousness and mercy. It is noteworthy that the context of Joel’s prophecy contains a call to repentance in hope of divine forgiveness (Joel 2:12-14)—a call which is echoed by Peter later on (v.38).”

“The wonders and signs to be revealed in the world of nature, as described in vv.19 and 20 may have more relevance in the present context than is sometimes realized: it was a little more than seven weeks since the people in Jerusalem had indeed seen the sun turned into darkness, during the early afternoon of the day of our Lord’s crucifixion. And on the same afternoon the paschal full moon may well have appeared blood-red in the sky in consequence of that preternatural gloom. These were to be understood as tokens of the advent of the day of the Lord, ‘that great and notable day,’ a day of judgment, to be sure, but more immediately the day of God’s salvation to all who invoked His name.”

Peter’s main theme was Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and it is this that he went on to proclaim in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He was preaching Jesus and salvation—not ‘we will be raptured out of the coming tribulation’ that has become the Gospel of present day evangelicals—‘we won’t be here when the great tribulation comes.’ That wasn’t on Peter’s mind at all. He wanted people to hear about and to know about Jesus. According to Peter the age of fulfilment has come. We do not have to speculate about signs. Everything will be fulfilled as the Prophets have declared, and those that are ready will recognise the signs of His Coming and will hear His voice.

In his second epistle Peter wrote in order to warn the church to be on guard against the seductions of false teachers, calling to remembrance the doctrines of the ancient prophets, and the teachings of the apostles. Scripture is our plumb-line and we should not stray from what God has spoken, but rather allow God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7; Proverbs 4:23). There will be scoffers in the Church and in the world. They will have no solid argument to produce against revelation and creation, but their hearts are set on following their own lusts. Those not doing the same will be ridiculed. Are we not seeing the development of this today?

“A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.” – Leonard Ravenhill

Blessings and shalom,

Malcolm

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