To the editor:
The Dec. 14 edition of The Sentinel had an article in the "Professions of Faith" column entitled "The New World is Coming." The article referred to several scriptures including Matthew 24, 2 Peter 3:5, Daniel 11 and Revelation 13. I believe that "everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4) However I also believe that these scriptures were written for the times of the readers and not for our time.
The context of Matthew 24 is Jesus' defense of His authority to cleanse the temple area following His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As Jesus and His disciples leave the temple one day the disciples are admiring the building and Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another." The disciples respond with the question, "When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" Jesus then describes events that will take place leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. Jesus said to His disciples, "This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." In the parallel passage in Luke 21 Jesus says, "Be always on the watch and pray that you may be able to escape all this is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
The "last days" scoffers of 2 Peter 3 are living in Peter's day. It is believed Peter wrote this epistle between 65 and 68 A.D. The "last days" are the last days prior to the complete destruction of the Old Covenant age 70A.D. that allowed the New Covenant era to come to full fruition.
Daniel 11 refers to the first year of Darius the Mede, as Daniel, during the Medo-Persian Empire, looks forward to the Grecian and Roman empires to come. Both Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2 and Daniel's dream in Daniel 7 culminate with the Roman Empire. Daniel's vision concludes this way: "In my vision at night I looked, and here before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13, 14) (Jesus' favorite title for Himself in the gospels is "son of man.")
Much of Revelation, including Revelation 13, is an expanded version of the events of Matthew 24. John introduces his book by saying, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servant what must soon take place." (Revelation 1:1) Later in verse 7 of the chapter he says, "Behold I am coming soon." Christ repeats that admonition in 22:12. And between those two passages John is told, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because time is near." (Revelation 22:10)
Bottom line, I believe Scripture does not teach that the king is coming, but that the king has come. "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said, 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" (Mark 1:14, 15) Two thousand years ago, Christ established the Kingdom of God with His death and resurrection sometime around 30 A.D. "For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance -now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." (Hebrews 9:15)
Previously in Hebrews 8:13 we read, "By calling this covenant 'new' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear." That is exactly what happened in 70A.D. when God used the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and its temple.
I believe our mission is not to anticipate a "New World" that is coming because it has already come. Thus our mission becomes to "seek his first kingdom and his righteousness," (Matthew 6:33) to pray "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," (Matthew 6:10) and in our going "make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19)
(Should anyone desire to discuss these issues I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org.)