In part 4, we will conclude this study by validating assumption #3, thus affirming that our key interpretive paradigm – “the transitional paradigm” – is a valid and powerful lens through which we must interpret the scriptures.
In assumption #3 we said “the “last days” in the scriptures refer to the last days of the old covenant age, and the final redemptive period (30-70AD) when all of God’s promises (blessings) were being fulfilled to the faithful remnant of old covenant Israel in the body of Christ, and all of God’s judgment-wrath (curses) was being filled up in order to be poured out upon the unfaithful of old covenant Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70.
Let’s validate this assumption.
First, recall that we have already established above that the first century generation was living at the “end” (the close) of the old covenant age. (1 Corinthians 10:11, Hebrews 9:26)
So, let’s now establish that the “last days” existed in the first century and at the same time as the “end of the age”. If we can, we have powerful evidence that the last days were in fact the last days of the old covenant age and the last days of the first century transition period.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
Notice what the Hebrew writer said, “God…. in these last days has spoken to us in his Son…”. This means that the last days in which they were living were present when Yahweh was speaking to Israel in the person of Jesus Christ, during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Said another way, the last days existed under the old covenant Mosaic-age prior to Pentecost and the cross, yet extended into the early to mid 60’s AD.
Peter is also emphatic he was living in the “last days” and that what was happening on the day of Pentecost was in fulfillment of what the prophet Joel said would happen in Israel’s last days.
But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “And it shall be in the last days…”
Thus, we have powerful apostolic testimony that the last days began under Israel’s old covenant age and had extended into the first century of the new covenant age.
But, that entire period of time was what the apostle Paul called the “end (consummation) of the ages” (Hebrews 9:26, 1 Corinthians 10:11).
Therefore, the “last days” and the “end of the age” both existed at the same time in the first century. But that’s not all. Both the last days and the end of the age existed under the old covenant age prior to the cross, and under the new covenant age, decades after the cross.
It would be strange indeed for the new testament writers to refer to the “last days” as the “end” of the Christian age (since the last days existed prior to the Christian age), and not to the “end” of the old covenant age which was at that time in the process of ending, and did end within their generation. That would be strange indeed, especially since the bible teaches that the Christian/kingdom age has no end-Isaiah 9:6-7, Ephesians 3:21, yet this is the position of many bible teachers today. Thus, we have powerful and logical evidence the “last days” were the last days of the old covenant age which ended in AD70.
Next, we will demonstrate that the faithful remnant of old covenant Israel were in those last days receiving the promises made to their fathers through the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers.
Jesus was sent to the Jews (the circumcision) for the sake of the truth, to “confirm” (establish, make firm) their old covenant promises. Jesus did not come as simply another prophet to Israel to confirm their promises by telling them that “one day your promises will be fulfilled”; they already knew that from Moses and the prophets. Jesus came to confirm by miracles and wonders (John 6:14-15, Mark 16:15-20), and by the sign of his resurrection (Mathew 12:39-40, Luke 2:34) that Israel’s promises were being at that time being fulfilled, not postponed.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
Through his passion and ascension, Jesus as the Seed of Abraham and the Seed of David had already received that the all the promises of God, and in him were those promises to be fulfilled. The baptism of the Spirit was the “pledge” to the body of Christ that they too would soon receive all of God’s promises.
The word pledge is the Greek word “arrabon”, and means “a price or payment given which guarantees the full amount”. The pledge of the Spirit was given to the first century generation to guarantee them that they would soon receive their full inheritance.
The assumption by many teachers that the Spirit was given to the first century generation as a “pledge” (down payment) of their inheritance, yet they died without receiving that inheritance, completely overlooks the idea of a pledge. But what’s worse, is that according to these teachers Christians have been receiving this “pledge” for the past fifty generations, yet each generation has died without receiving the full payment. This is a terrible error and a total misunderstanding of the purpose of the pledge (arrabon) of the Spirit.
Consider the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38:1-26. When Judah gave Tamar his seal, cord, and staff, as the “pledge” of the goat from his flock, did Tamar expect that she would die without the receiving the goat, and fifty generations later someone else would receive the goat from a distant descendant of Judah? This is indeed a laughable scenario, yet many teachers and commentators today apply this exact scenario to the Church and the pledge of the Spirit, and somehow, they don’t see it.
The “pledge” and the full payment cannot be separated by thousands of years and hundreds of generations. The full payment is to be given to “make good” on the pledge while the one who received the pledge is still alive, and still has the pledge. If the person (generation) who received the pledge dies without receiving the full payment, then the pledge (the down payment which guarantees the full payment) failed – the guarantee was broken. Ironically, millions of Christians praise the Lord for his faithfulness, yet unwittingly call him unfaithful when they say that we are still awaiting our full inheritance.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians elaborates on what he had taught the Corinthians concerning the pledge.
Also, we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
The Holy Spirit was given to those who had believed as the “pledge” (arrabon) of their inheritance, which was their redemption (Romans 8:23, Luke 21:28,32). The purpose of this pledge was to guarantee that “those who first hoped in Christ” (the first century generation) would bring praise to His glory by receiving from the Lord their full inheritance. The Lord gets no glory if redemption is yet unfinished.
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened.
Paul said that “those who were chosen” (the elect) had obtained what Israel was seeking for. Regardless of our concept of what Israel was “seeking”, that fact is, the elect of Israel were at that time receiving it. This rules out any idea that the promises made to Israel are to be fulfilled “physically” and “geographically”. The elect were receiving the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20) spiritually, through the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
Finally, let’s look at Peter’s first epistle.
1 Peter 1:3-5,10-13,20
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look. Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ…. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.
Peter tells the diaspora of Israel who had been “scattered” that their salvation-inheritance was “ready to be revealed” in the “last time”, which Peter said they were living in (v.20 “these last times”).
He also tells them that the prophets who prophesied of this salvation, did not fully understand either the time or the people to whom their prophesies referred (v.10-11).
Peter then tells his readers by apostolic authority that the “sufferings of Christ” and the “glories to follow” which the prophets had foretold (yet had not fully understood) were for their days and their generation, and were now being announced through the gospel.
And, to drive his point hope (that his contemporary generation was about to receive these “glories”), Peter tells them to “prepare their minds” to receive the “grace” (the salvation-inheritance) that would be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
There really is no shortage of texts to demonstrate that the faithful of old covenant Israel were receiving the fulfilment of all God’s promises in the first century. In fact, it was the giving of the baptism of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the “pouring out of the Spirit from on high” that initiated the restoration and salvation of Israel in the body of Christ (Isaiah 32:15f, Ezekiel 37).
Next, in order to completely validate assumption #3, we shall demonstrate that the judgment-wrath of God was being filled up in order to be poured out upon the unfaithful of old covenant Israel in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. This was Yahweh’s “avenging” of His Son, and His apostles and prophets.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Notice John’s message of warning to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” What “wrath” does John refer to? Well, seeing that John was a prophet to Israel, and the voice of the messenger of Malachi 3-4, it’s safe to say that John’s “wrath to come” was the judgment-coming of Yahweh on Israel at the great and terrible day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).
Jesus affirms that the Jews of his generation would be judged for the sins of their fathers due to their murder of the old testament prophets, himself (Mathew 21:33f) and his new covenant apostles and prophets.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous… Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
What’s fascinating is that in Mathew 23 Jesus is alluding to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32, a prophecy if Israel’s final “last days” judgment.
For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them. Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future (last end). How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up?… Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.’ For the Lord will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free…. If I sharpen My flashing sword, and My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me. ‘I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword will devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired leaders of the enemy.’ “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.”
Jesus said the “guilt of all the righteous blood” was to come upon the Jews of his generation for filling up the “measure of their father’s sins”, and would be the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 32, when the Lord would “render vengeance on his adversaries” and would “vindicate his people” by “avenging the blood of his servants”. This judgment would come in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, when their “house was left to them a desolation (Mathew 23:38). This would be when the Lord had “given them up” (Deuteronomy 32:30)
The apostle Paul who preached nothing but what the law and prophets said should come, reiterated the prophecy of the Lord and applied it to the Jews of his generation.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
In fulfilment of the words of Jesus, the first century generation of Jews had now killed the Lord, his prophets, were persecuting his apostles, and were being “hostile to all men”. As a result, they were filling (accomplishing, completing) the measure of their sins, and God’s wrath was about to be poured out upon them “to the utmost”.
As is evident, Jesus and Paul were on the same page. Now let’s hear the apostle John.
In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the apostle John sees the climactic judgment of the old covenant world and the full establishment of the new covenant world in all its glory. In other words, he sees the fulfilment of the “wrath of God upon His enemies” and the “avenging of the blood of his saints” as was promised and anticipated from the garden (Genesis 3:15).
In chapter 6 of the Revelation, John sees the faithful of all ages crying out for vengeance from the Lord upon those who had shed their blood.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?
Later in the same chapter, John sees the answer to their cry drawing near as the “wrath of the Lamb” prepares to be poured out in the “great day of wrath”.
Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
What’s amazing is that just before Jesus was crucified, he applied Revelation 6:16-17 (which is a quotation from Hosea 10:8 and Isaiah 2:19 concerning Israel’s last day’s judgment for shedding innocent blood – Hosea 6:8, Isaiah 1:15,21,4:4), to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 which would befall “them and their children”.
But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains “fall on us”, and to the hills, “cover us”.
What this means is that the great day of the “Lamb’s wrath” of Revelation 6:17-18 is the judgment of old covenant Israel in AD70 when the Lord avenged the blood of his saints who cried for vengeance in Revelation 6:9-10). This will become clearer, let’s go on…
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters… and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth”. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.
John saw the harlot-woman who was drunk with the “blood of the “saints” who were the “witnesses of Jesus”. We have already seen that it was old covenant Israel who would be judged for shedding the blood of the saints (Mathew 23:29f), thus Babylon the great must be old covenant Israel.
Another important point here is the word “witnesses” (maryts). Doctor Luke is clear that a “witnesses of Jesus” was one who had been with the apostles “beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us” (Acts 1:21-22). Therefore, the witnesses of Jesus whom Babylon the great had killed were first century saints, therefore Babylon the great must have been a first century harlot. Let’s continue….
Revelation 18:20,24, 19:2
“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.”… And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”… Because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of his bondservants on her.”
It is hard to imagine a more perfect correllation.
Jesus said that old covenant Jerusalem was guilty and would be judged for shedding “all the righteous blood shed on the earth” in his generation.
Paul said that old covenant Jerusalem (the Jews) had killed the prophets, the Lord, and were persecuting the saints of his generation, and the Lord’s wrath had come upon them to the “uttermost”.
John said that Babylon the great had killed the saints and the “witnesses of Jesus”, and in her was found “the blood of prophets and saints and of all who have been slain on the earth”, and God had “avenged the blood of his bondservants” on her.
Therefore, we must conclude that Babylon the great of Revelation is old covenant Jerusalem, who was judged in the day of the Lord’s wrath in AD70 for shedding all the blood of the righteous of all ages. The judgment of old covenant Jerusalem marked the dissolution of the age of Law and the old covenant “world” of Judaism. That same judgment also accomplished the avenging of Jesus and his saints, and became the revelation of the kingdom age and the new covenant “world” in Jesus Christ.
As we have demonstrated, assumption #3 has been validated.
In closing this study, we will repeat a statement which we made when we began.
“If the above assumptions prove true, then the “transitional paradigm” also holds true as a sound interpretive paradigm which does in fact hold the power to unlock truth in the sacred writings”.
As we have set out to do, so we have done. Through an examination of the scriptures, each of our 3 assumptions which form the core framework of our “key interpretive paradigm” have been proven sound and biblical. Therefore, since our assumptions are true, then by necessity our “transitional paradigm” also holds true, which is this:
Between 30-70AD (one generation) there was a covenantal transition taking place known as the “last days”, in which the entire old covenant “shadow-world” of national Israel was coming to its end and the new covenant “kingdom-world” was being fully established. In these age-ending last days, the faithful of old covenant Israel were being restored in Christ, and the unfaithful majority were sealing their judgment and expulsion as a covenant people through their rejection of the gospel of the kingdom.
We believe that as you look through this lens and interpret the scriptures through the paradigm of “covenant transition”, that the door of revelation and understanding will be opened to you. Through this “key interpretive paradigm”, you now possess one of the “keys of the kingdom” by which one can enter the gates of heaven.