End Times Questions for the Left-Behinders, Part 1

Posted By on May 27, 2008

Okay, I admit it — I’ve worded this post for the search engines.

Many of you know that I don’t like ANY of the contemporary views of eschatology (end times); they all cheat. The only reason that they appear coherent is that their articulators make certain presuppositional decisions on key ideas and questions and then follow the resulting trajectories.

Naturally, I have my own thoughts about eschatology.  That said, I sufficiently dislike eschatology enough that I won’t be laying out my thoughts on it on this blog (at least for some time – please let me enjoy it for a while).  But, in a prefatory way, I want to lay out some questions every view needs to think about. I want to challenge your own presuppositions and lay out the key questions. My goal is that we’ll all realize how simplistic the answers so often are, and that we’d develop a healthy skepticism toward any view that claims to have it all figure out. That, and to annoy Tim LaHaye.

Here’s the First Installment: Why do so many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times when believers and the church are referred to as the temple?

Here are the more obvious instances where Christians or the whole body of Christ (the Church) are referred to this way:

1 Cor 3:16

16 Do you not know that you (plural – the church) are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you (plural) are that temple.

1 Cor 6:19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Ephesians 2:13-22

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

I’m sure you’ve all read these verses before, but why is it that we don’t think eschatologically when we read them? Perhaps we’ve been conditioned.

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63 Responses to “End Times Questions for the Left-Behinders, Part 1”

  1. danzac says:

    the answer to your question “Why do so many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times when believers and the church are referred to as the temple?” is simple:

    those people don’t really understand how to read the bible. The anti-Christ according to Daniel (and the olivet discourse) is supposed to set up the abomination of desolation in the temple in the future. Thus, there needs to be a temple that he can desecrate. Consider also this verse from Paul:
    “He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.” (2 Thess 2:4)

    The temple needs to be in place for these things to happen.

    Now— trying to explain that to Left Behind theologians is pretty difficult, but not impossible— and Paul made it even more difficult in 2Thess. How would you explain these things?

  2. drew says:

    My goal is that we’ll all realize how simplistic the answers so often are, and that we’d develop a healthy skepticism toward any view that claims to have it all figure out.

    Why do so many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times when believers and the church are referred to as the temple?

    Could it be that we wont be here? That plus the Word says so.

  3. cwmyers007 says:

    Dr. Heiser,

    I also have the same qualms you do. I actually really dislike dispensationalists and their pop-eschatology. Right now, and I am still pliable, I am pre-millenial post-tribulational, which is Historic Premillenial. You say you do not fit into any of the systems? Then what would you call yourself? Agnostic? What is the system you agree the most with, amillenial?

  4. Phil Gons says:

    Now here’s a post that I can give a hearty Amen to. :)

  5. Rebekah says:

    Being raised JW ( A hard incoctrination to overcome) I have been very familiar with these verses and always saw them as Escotology. however I read somewhere at one time a very compelling teaching for a physical temple but never really spent time on it and can’t remembr where I read it. Some things I put off because I have found that the closer I have grown to God that I tend to leave some things alone as the Spirit has told me many times that the time for me was not right and when it was He would give understanding. Maybe the time is right, ha ha The only ecotology I have been interested in lately is the book Daniel and the 10 kingdoms and the four horns and the little horn and habbakuk which I believe bring perfect view of present day and this president. I believe that habbakuk 2 describes GW to a tee. but don’t mean to get off your subject of the temple. looking forward to more on this. there is an end time blog out there that I also believe holds much truth and the interpretation is true as God led me to it. I wont post it though cause its not about the temple.

  6. Rebekah says:

    oh yeah, whats a left behinder?

  7. MSH says:

    Danzac is correct — these passages (among others in the OT) are frequently appealed to as an argument for a literal temple being rebuilt. Danny didn’t comment on the church=temple verses, though.

    The validity (in terms of a temple being REBUILT) with respect to the Matthew passage depends on whether it was fulfilled in the Roman era, which is related to another one of those presuppositional questions: Was the book of Revelation written before or after 70 AD?

    Regarding the 2 Thessalonians passage, someone who insisted that the church = the temple based on the Corinthians texts could easily argue that the verses have the antichrist wanting to be worshipped (and that’s all). If the believer (1 Cor 6:19) and the body of Christ/church (1 Cor 3:16) = the temple, then the words of Paul could be construed as the Antichrist demanding to be worshipped in the place of God/Jesus, and no physical temple is needed.

    This is a good start for showing how one particular (though popular) view of eschatology isn’t self-evident.

  8. MSH says:

    Chris – I can’t pick any of the labels and feel completely comfortable with them. I can only tell you that I believe there will be a literal (taking place in real space and time) kingdom of God on earth after Christ returns bodily. I don’t like “millennial” language for this because it’s too limiting–I don’t think this will be restricted to 1000 years. I also believe that the kingdom is already present. I think the “already, not yet” approach to eschatology is the most biblically rooted, but theologians seem to all tend to pick one side or the other and make it the predominant theme in their eschatology. I think the kingdom was meant to be both “spiritual” and “physical” simultaneously from the beginning, and neither side will give way to the other.

  9. MSH says:

    Rebekah – a “left-behinder” is my term for someone who gets their eschatology from the Left Behind novels.

  10. cwmyers007 says:

    Dr. Heiser,

    I wish I had you for OBST 592 too because there were lots of questions I would have asked you. I was really confused about Ezekiel’s revelation of the new temple. Do you believe that to be eschatological? Dr. Yates said that he believed Ezekiel’s temple to be a literal temple. Amillenialists will say that it is a spiritual temple he explains. But then why all of the details! It would make it like wasted scroll to put all of those details there if it wasn’t going to be literal.

    Looking forward to your perspective,
    Chris

  11. cwmyers007 says:

    Dr. Heiser,
    You ask:***Why do so many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times when believers and the church are referred to as the temple?

    It has been explained to me before that Paul does refer to the whole church as the temple of God, but notice that Christ is the cornerstone and we are the stones; this means that the whole temple will not be completely built until Christ’s return when all of the stones are in place! It also seems that the anti-Christ would have to set himself up within the church in order for 2 Thess. to come to pass. I think a future literal temple can also be established with OT prophecies which were not fulfilled with Zerrubabel and Herod’s temple. Romans 11 also points to the fact that the Jews will see a future time of restoration (by embracing Christ), which points to a good possibility of another temple, where Christ can be worshipped in a similar fashion as YHWH was in the OT.

    Now I am very moldable on this issue. So I look forward to toying around with these ideas using ONLY the NAKED BIBLE.

    Grace be with you,

    Chris

  12. cwmyers007 says:

    Dr Heiser: Check this out–he makes some great points in favor of your view of no literal temple, http://giannina.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/the-future-temple-of-dispensationalism/#comment-3263

  13. revgreg88030 says:

    I am amillenial in my views and would agree very much with the “already, not yet”. I believe it was Ladd that called it “unrealized eschatology”. I’ll have to refresh myself. My seminary M.Div paper dealt with a comparison of Post-millenialism and whether it could be compatible with some form of Amillenialism. Too long ago to remember clearly.

    The temple was rebuilt by Ezra/Nehemiah [post-Daniel], remodeled by Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and His judgment upon the continued Jewish faith and rejection of Christ’s 1st coming in the Incarnation.

    I have had some thoughts as whether John the Apostle wrote Revelation or whether it was indeed written before 70 AD and not in the late 90′s. I know that is the premise of the book, THE AWFUL TRUTH by Patrick Conway. A very interesting read.

    I also see the “Rapture” as “Judgment Day” and the destruction of heaven and earth, and the Lord’s creation of a new heaven and earth as Peter proclaims.

    On this MSH we are pretty close together in our views I believe. Look forward to yours and others views.

  14. eweiss says:

    You and your readers might enjoy reading “A Night With The Family”:

    http://www.hiselectinggrace.org/anightwiththefamily.html

  15. MSH says:

    Chris; Regrading Ezekiel’s temple, it is interesting to note something: in the previous descriptions of the tabernacle and the temple, these structures are described with height, depth, and width (measurements given). There is no height in the Ezekiel temple, which suggests to me that it is symbolic – the omission can’t be accidental or careless. When the eschatological temple descends at the book of Revelation, it is a perfect cube. The only other perfect cube in the Bible is the holy of holies. I think the point may well be NOT a literal temple then, but God’s direct presence on earth (as it was in the beginning).

  16. MSH says:

    Chris: You wrote “It has been explained to me before that Paul does refer to the whole church as the temple of God, but notice that Christ is the cornerstone and we are the stones; this means that the whole temple will not be completely built until Christ’s return when all of the stones are in place!”

    Well, it could simply refer to the end, when all the elect have been gathered, without regard to any physical temple. The phrasing hardly requires a literal temple, though that may be the case. Your reference to Romans would go with an amill view (the point is being grafted back into the one people of God, not a literal temple). Regarding Zerubbabel, if the point of the temple restoration language is indeed the church, then these examples would go in that category. Again, nothing compelling about any of them to mean a literal temple. IN this regard the quotation of James in Acts 15 (of Amos 9) is critical. James (an apostle and under inspiration) seems to believe that the point of restoring David’s house (his line and – perhaps- the temple he proposed to build) was the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Church. If that was the point, then all such OT language points to the church.

    These are good examples, since it should be clear how they can be over-read — read purely according to prior assumptions.

  17. MSH says:

    Chris: don’t assume my view is no literal temple. I’m not taking a position, just pointing out how the Tim LaHaye / Left Behind eschatology assumes a lot and is not self evident.

  18. MSH says:

    revGreg: You are correct about Ladd. As I noted to Chris, don’t assume I am putting out a position. I truly don’t like any of the eschatological positions because they all cheat.

  19. Steve7 says:

    The Pastor I study with has always taught us that Christians are “The Temple”, and he does refer to 1 Cor 3: 16 for documentation. It seems pretty clear from the text, even in the futurist sense[ up to Christ's return]. As I read the text, I see it as well.

    Interesting subject to consider.

  20. MSH says:

    Steve7: agreed, and I’ll bring up a few more “crux” presuppositions.

  21. Debra says:

    Greetings MSH– would you please clarify what you mean by “they all cheat” regarding proponents of current eschatological views? I think I understand but that’s still not getting your exact gist. Thank you and blessings.
    Debra

  22. david.w.lowe says:

    Michael,

    David Lowe here. I’m definitely not one of the Left Behinder’s, although I used to be.

    To answer your question, look at the context of II Thess. chapter 2. The “man of sin” is said to sit in the temple of God and show that he is God.

    According to your argument, we are to believe that this man of sin of the future, whom the Lord will destroy with the brightness of his coming, doesn’t really sit in a physical temple, but rather he will set up shop within the body of Christ…the temple of God or the Holy Ghost, according to Paul.

    Two objections to this:
    1. The Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian body, the temple of God. What you are saying is that the man of lawlessness will be dwelling in the true Christian body, the temple of God. This is impossible! How can the Holy Spirit and the man of lawlessness both dwell in the same body?

    2. Paul’s descriptions throughout the rest of the chapter become very confusing if this man of lawlessness sitting in the temple of God is really some kind of spiritual entity setting up shop in the temple of God, the body of Christ:

    a. 2:3 says the man of sin is “the one destined for destruction” (son of perdition in KJV).
    b. 2:6 says he is being held back
    c. 2:6 says he will be revealed in his own time.
    d. 2:7 someone or something is holding him back, but when removed, he will not be held back.
    e. 2:8 calls him the “lawless one”…ONE, not a spiritual entity or force.
    f. 2:8 says the Lord will destroy this lawless one when he comes in the future with the brightness of his coming. This hasn’t happened yet, so this will be a future destruction of a lawless one.
    g. 2:9 the lawless “one” will have power from Satan to do miracles, signs and false wonders.

    These all seem to be concrete, literal descriptions of what a future man will do and how he will meet his demise.

    For these reasons, and for their equation of the abomination of desolation with the desecration of the temple/Rev. chapter 13, dispensationalists must see a future third temple as being the “temple of God”.

    I don’t agree with this, but I’m pointing out why they think this way.

    In Christ,
    David

  23. MSH says:

    Hi David

    You’ve over-read my post. I’m not taking a position, so the phrase “according to your argument” is misapplied. I’m not taking a position or making an argument about MY views. I’m merely putting forth responses that I imagine (or have actually heard) other views would say. The other view(s) would not say the antichrist WILL dwell in the Christian, only that that’s what he will demand (which is how I worded my post – “demanding to be worshipped in the place of Jesus”). And so, even if someone holds that the antichrist is a person, that in and of itself does not require a literal temple. This act–demanding to be worshipped instead of Jesus–could also be viewed as the abomination, since the point of the abomination appears to be desecration of the sacrifice and thus of the true worship of God.

    I’ll add another detail (see my previous comment about the kingdom) for you (and other readers) as to my own views: I do believe that the antichrist will be a man (as opposed to a “force” or just “evil”).

  24. MSH says:

    Debra: How do theologians cheat on eschatology? Let me count the ways…

    See my latest post for the rest of my response.

  25. Steve7 says:

    If the whole world is going to “wonder” [worship?] after the [1st] beast of Rev ch 13 v 4, and the [2nd] beast of Rev 13 v 4, 12… who looked like a “lamb”[pretending to be Christ?] is the “anti or “instead of” Christ. Wouldn’t this mean that he IS “in the Temple”?

    I mean, if the body of Christ is the “Temple” as Paul says in 1st Cor 3 v 16, and they are “wondering” after him along with the rest of the world. Then the “anti- Christ” is, in a sense, “sitting in the Temple”, no ? If this was the case ,

    would this then be the “Apostasy” [ turning from one's professed belief] of 2nd Thess, ch 2 v4? If the world thinks he is Jesus Christ and then they “turn away” from the real Messiah, through mistakenly “wondering” after this fake one, isn’t that “Apostasy”, and “desolation” right in the Temple? The Temple being the minds of the people of the Church?

    Of course, this scenario, means no “rapture”.

    Full disclosure: I don’t see the “rapture” in the scriptures. I don’t believe in it. I think its man’s idea, not actual scripture. Just my opinion.

  26. MSH says:

    Steve7: Yes, in my experience, this is basically the way all that would be approached by a non-rapture position.

  27. Cognus says:

    Finally… figgered out a place to post comment: whew…
    Michael, I’m an “old timer” re: your academic and professional careers and work. I’d like to transparently “bait” you into a couple of books or …..:
    - An examination of Old Testament imagery at work in the Revelation to John: The Beings that are seen, the difficulties with Trinitarian thought, the Names of God the Father and Son, the role of Angels, the confusion of Armageddon, Har-Magedon, etc, “Who is sitting on which Throne?”, the internal evidence pro/con a pre-70AD authorship, and a few other rather simplistic topicettes that are probably beneath your capabilities.

    Further, I can see a book with your Name on it: “Dictionary of Biblican non-human Sentient Beings” or “Everything You Thought You Knew About Angels Is Dead Wrong” – Seriously, an Encyclopedic work defining the various types and sects of ‘celestial Beings’ found in Canonical [and maybe extra-Canonical] writings is Nowhere to be found to my knowledge.
    I have tried hard several times to categorize and otherwise organize the varioud Beings that are seen [implicit, explicitly] in Ezekiel, Daniel, et al, and end in total frustration due to my severely limited grasp of the original texts.

    Finally – a Paper perhaps? The Name of God the Father? or …. “Does the Father of Jesus Have a Name Yet?” – At issue is whether ‘YHWH’ identified to the ancients ONLY the Incarnate or physically-manifest aspect of the Deity [thus, Christophany's ONLY] or whether YHWH became a Dynastic Name which for the first time [and maybe last] was Duplicated and Bestowed upon the Christ – the Unique Son of God – the one among Men who demonstrated to the Race of Men the incomparability of YHWH relative to the “other/lesser Gods”. A thorough sifting of these themes in the Letter to the Hebrews would be most valuable.

    I have more but fear the length frustrating to the reader…

  28. MSH says:

    Cognus – on #1: been done, several times, by scholars who specialize in the use of the OT in Revelation; #2 – I’ll settle for divine council research that tries to map out biblical theology (more interesting than dictionary entries); #3 – as I’ve noted in my “Myth That is True” manuscript (are you a newsletter archive subscriber?), there were two Yahwehs in the OT – one visible, the other invisible. That addresses what you’re angling for here (so got that one covered!).

  29. Jor-el says:

    Well, let me throw a spanner into the works, so to speak. I actually haver two questions for you Mike, regarding this issue of eschatology, any input would be greatly appreciated.

    The 1st question requires a premise of sorts, that you yourself have addressed in you manuscript, stating that the church for too long has demythologized the bible until it is almost a bland reproduction of what it actually says, almost like rewriting the text for young children but leaving out all the really juicy parts (paraphrased).

    As such I have recently been exposed to a view of eschatology that reads alot into your own work of the Divine Council, especially in the time of the Babel incident and what resulted therof.

    You yourself have stated that there are 70 nations listed in the table of nations but one has to remove Nimrod from the listing.

    It has come to my attention that it may actually be the actual figure of Nimrod that is the Anti-christ. An apparent miracle of his ressurection would be synonymous with his return.

    Full details can be found at Peter Goodgames site, redmoonrising.com

    In my opinion, this view is unique in that it does not follow any of the traditional aspects you pointed out in your Post.

    It also conforms to Davis Lowes list of prerequisites that Paul gave:

    a. 2:3 says the man of sin is “the one destined for destruction” (son of perdition in KJV).
    b. 2:6 says he is being held back
    c. 2:6 says he will be revealed in his own time.
    d. 2:7 someone or something is holding him back, but when removed, he will not be held back.
    e. 2:8 calls him the “lawless one”…ONE, not a spiritual entity or force.
    f. 2:8 says the Lord will destroy this lawless one when he comes in the future with the brightness of his coming. This hasn’t happened yet, so this will be a future destruction of a lawless one.
    g. 2:9 the lawless “one” will have power from Satan to do miracles, signs and false wonders.

    So, question 1 is, are his views regarding the figure of Assur / Nimrod / Osiris legitimate? In other words can the very 1st antichrist figure actually be the literal anti-christ?
    _____________________

    The 2nd point has to do with something I learned recently regarding the Olivert discourse. It seems that many scholars state that this is a later addition to Luke and not part of the original Gospel. This is due to the contents found in the actual discourse, like the use of the word “Generation” and the reversal of Jesus affirmation that he didn’t know the time or the hour of his own coming…

    I’m sure you are aware of these debates, what is your opinion on the matter. Is this or is it not an original part of the Gospel of Luke?

    God Bless,

    Jor-el

  30. Jor-el says:

    Addendum – According to most scholars, the versions of the discourse in Matthew and Luke are based on the version in Mark and are thus later insertions to the original manuscripts of both Mathew and Luke.

  31. MSH says:

    Jor-el: My opinion is that none of the Nimrod stuff works. There are lots of problems with most of what everyone on the web says about Nimrod for a very simple reason: the Bible says next to nothing about him (Read: Most of this stuff is made up). I could plug a number of other biblical villains into the same categories and I wouldn’t be any better or worse as far as accuracy. The antichrist is a rebel? No kidding. Here’s a question: How many statements in the list above are actually said of Nimrod in the OT? Answer: zero.

  32. keving78 says:

    As for the rebuilding of the temple prophecies…from what Ive researched myself that the Jewish government is currently trying accomplish a temple rebuilding as of right now. The only thing stopping this is the Dome of the Rock Conflict. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this since the evidence of all this all over the internet. In fact the temple furnishings and ornaments have already been made as with the reestablishment of the Jewish Sendehdrin. Also there is the push torward the breeding of the pure red hiefer needed in the Levitical atonement sacrifices. The information on this stuff is astonishing.

    This very issue of the rebuilding of this temple is what I believe will spark a major upheavel in the Middle East and possibley the world conflict involving the armies from the north(NATO/UN???) and the east Iran/Russia/Iraq/Pakistan/etc.

    Just a thought.

  33. MSH says:

    @keving78: Can you send me a link to an official source / article / paper from the Israeli government that says this? I hear this every year. It would be nice to have something real and official for my files.

  34. MSH says:

    @keving78: Incidentally, just because the Israeli government *might* want this doesn’t mean it has anything to do with biblical prophecy (though it could). The Jews get a lot wrong about biblical prophecy (like the messiahship of Jesus).

  35. keving78 says:

    I made a mistake in saying the isreali government is completely involved in this ‘possible ” temple rebuilding. Though the information Ive read implies such movement torward such a temple rebuilding project. I know its dangerous to state possible prophetic fulliment as fact quite yet. Maybe it’s my christian/zionist up bringing…haha.

    As for the Jews getting the messiahship of Jesus wrong…your talking about a very small group Jews that wanted Jesus’s head. Jews started the Christian church remember.

  36. MSH says:

    @keving78: Jews didn’t start the church. Jews who had accepted the messiahship of Christ started the church (Jews who were Jesus followers and Jesus worshippers). I think if you read the crucifixion accounts you’ll see it was not a small group that side against Jesus.

  37. Dave Rymenave says:

    Chris is right: there will be a physical temple.

    But we (Christians) should also be careful not to give our enemy any access to the throne of our hearts (a metaphorical temple).

    Let’s not make the same mistake the first century Jewish leaders did. They were looking for a certain type of messiah and did not recognize the real one. We (pre-trib, pre-mil) Christians are looking for a specific set of endtimes criteria which may be different than we’ve been taught.

    Ezekiel makes crystal-clear there will be another physical temple — one which does not fit the description of any previous temples. It also appears there will be NO physical temple in the New Jerusalem. This provides us with a huge clue that there WILL be some sort of millenium.

    Does it matter exactly when? Does it matter exactly where? Does it matter in which (parallel) universe it happens?

    The important part for us is to keep our focus on Christ. Live according to His words in the Sermon on the Mount. Pray He will make clear the opportunities (talents) he gives us to serve him every day in this life.

    -Dave Rymenave

  38. MSH says:

    @Dave Rymenave: Why is the temple of Ezekiel not described in three dimensional way the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple are (as an actual building would be)?

  39. StephenPatrick says:

    quote: Why is the temple of Ezekiel not described in three dimensional way the tabernacle and Solomons temple are (as an actual building would be)?

    Because it is spiritual, not material. Those who continue to read Paul’s letters as applying to us forget he was writing to real people in the first century. He continually said the time was at hand, or soon. John wrote before the fall of Jerusalem and said this is the last hour. Jesus did in fact return exactly as He said He would to the very people He said He would return to in the very generation He was talking to.

  40. Dave Rymenave says:

    Heiser: Why isn’t the temple described in exacting three-dimensional terms?

    I’m embarrased to admit I never noticed the lack of vertical measurements before.

    Looking back at the Ezekiel description I notice this:

    1. there are SOME vertical measurements: 42:3,6 mention “three stories” which may have been a standard set in those days; other measurements could be implied (like door heights) or taken from tabernacle dimensions or a general cubical construction philosophy

    2. it’s possible that God’s intention was to include some amount of human participation in its design

    3. the measurements left out simply were not that important

    Even with all the specificities in Leviticus SOME details were left out, like the spacing and redundancy of the stitches, the thickness of gilding, etcetera.

    Perhaps that means God is not a “micro-manager.” But truly, I do not know why certain things are left out. Without evidence to the contrary (that the Ezekiel temple and its dimensions are spiritual) I am forced to conclude that it WILL be built: the when, where, and why questions are still before us.

    -Dave Rymenave

  41. Dave Rymenave says:

    Further points.

    Re. “1,000-years”
    Though I’m not a big fan of such a round number being literal, it IS stated six times (in Rev.20) as the duration of Satan’s bondage. That’s hard to ignore.
    Additionally, though certain things are happening during this time, the clock is running for the clock’s sake. What I mean is this: “Now when the thousand years have expired…” (20:7) doesn’t imply anything but a time-frame set by God. What is the time frame? 1,000-years.
    Seems odd to me that this would be figurative or would stand for an as-yet-undetermined-large-amount-of-time. If that was so, the Revelation could have read: “Now when God determined the time was right…” -or- “When the mystery of Satan’s bondage had ceased…”

    Re. An equation between “The Beast” and “The Antichrist”
    There is, however, much to ponder regarding the complicated nature of our adversary/adversaries. If it were to happen soon I think it much more likely that a Controlling World Authority could be a council or an economic leader – persuasive enough to limit commerce (Rev.13:16-17) and exacerbate life on earth for God-followers.

    Re. A new physical Jewish Temple
    Many argue that it goes along with the Millenium. If one is figurative then the other must be figurative (and visa-versa). I cannot make any reason out of such a physical blue print alluding to something which is only spiritual. The movement throughout the Book of Ezekiel is BACK to Jerusalem (from their exile) and FORWARD to an “idealized” and “victorious” physical Israeli state.

    Re. A spiritual temple
    Wasn’t Christ referring to his own body when he claimed he would raise up the temple in three days? If being “in Christ” is being “in the temple” then perhaps the violation of the temple is the same as the violation of one “putting hand to plow” and looking back. By that argument the “antichrist” could be an ex-Christian who turns so completely away from the path of Christ that he wars against Christianity.

    -Dave Rymenave

    [I can be contacted at: rymenave@gmail.com]
    [I also have a blog at: daverymenave.blogspot.com]

  42. MSH says:

    @StephenPatrick: This is my point, so nice comment! Keep in mind, though, that while this is good evidence against a literal eschatological temple, I don’t view it as conclusive. At the least, though, it means we ought not to base any such argument on Ezekiel 40-48.

  43. MSH says:

    @Dave Rymenave: Perhaps it means that we shouldn’t make the passage “mean” certain things. See my note to the other comments.

  44. Dave Rymenave says:

    <>

    Absolutely. If it’s not obvious that it means something else the most obvious meaning should be assumed.

    I’m still pondering the phrase: “It cannot mean to us what it did not mean to them.”

    I wonder then, in the case of the Ezekiel-design Temple if the people were not quite disappointed with Herod-the-Great’s efforts.

    -Dave Rymenave

  45. MSH says:

    @Dave Rymenave: In ancient Jewish literature preceding and contemporary with the New Testament, the idea of a thousand year reign was seen as literal by some, and figurative by others. There was no consistent view, and so one cannot say the original hearers/ readers would have been specifically expecting either.

    I prefer to say only what the text says and avoid speculation. I don’t mind the ambiguity or lack or clarity in the text. It is what it is.

  46. Shiloh says:

    Her is a short article on the the II Thess. Passage by Daniel B. Wallace

    http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1479

  47. Areadymind says:

    Wow, I always thought I was weird for refusing to take any serious position on eschatology. I have said I am pre-mill beyond any shadow of a doubt, but am an ignoramus about how it is all going to work out exactly. I found myself incredibly frustrated with pop-eschatology (which is a term I also have used LOL) when I had to teach through the book of Revelation recently and when I got to studying about the 144,000, I was writing down notes about my observations. I caught myself calling them “Evangelists” in my notes, then I looked back at the passage and found my blood starting to simmer a bit when there was not a single indication anywhere in any portion of Revelation that indicated they were Evangelists. I then concluded that to call them such is to completely distract from what they actually are, which in many ways is far better than being Evangelists. They follow Jesus wherever he goes, They also are stated to have a voice of “many waters.” In Revelation 14:2. Which seemed to me to indicate that 144000 people of the tribes of Israel whom sing praise to the lamb with one voice end up having a voice that is synonymous with the voice of the Lamb himself (Revelation 1:15.) But I guess it is a lot more fun to see them as Evangela-Rambos for Jesus, and not die hard, whole hearted, united worshipers, because that would just be sooooo incredibly boooooring.

  48. MSH says:

    @Areadymind: I like the rambo-term!

  49. Areadymind says:

    Feel free to swipe it :)

  50. Jim says:

    Hi Mike,

    You have engaged in a bit of sleight of hand here (not intentionally, I believe). You posit your question in light of the Corinthians correspondence and, as such, you already are choosing one understanding of temple over against other possibilities and asking others to justify their choice of another reading over against the noted Corinthian readings.

    Clearly the term temple (naos) is frequently used in the Gospels to denote the physical Jewish Temple (but Christ can apply it figuratively to speak of his body as respects his death and resurrection).

    Paul uses naos in his sermon in Acts 17.24 (admittedly written by Luke but I assume Luke faithfully represents what Paul said, sans evidence to the contrary) and this usage clearly refers to a physical temple. Even if Paul hadn’t used naos in Acts 17.24 to refer to a physical temple, this would not prevent such an understanding of that term in 2 Thess 2.4. One still has to assume that it must mean in 2 Thess 2.4 what it means in the Corinthian correspondence.

    In light of the quite frequent NT use of naos to refer to a physical temple (and some Pauline usage), you could just as readily begun with the question of why certain adherents of miscellaneous eschatological camps so often opt to read naos in 2 Thess 2.4 as referring to the whole body of Christ (i.e. the Church) and, thus, do not insist upon the notion that a third temple must be built! In short, your framing of the matter has already assumed the Naos = Church readingbut I’m not suggesting that this is/was your intention here.

    I myself am not a dispensationalist (and think the whole left-behinder phenomenon sorely misguided); I am quite close to Ladd’s view.

    My own position is that naos in 2 Thess 2.4 may well refer to a third temple or, perhaps, the temple mount. It seems clear that Paul has Daniel 11.36ff. in mind as the background for much of this section of 2 Thess.

    In the end, I don’t think one can demonstrate any of these two readings (i.e. Church vs. non-Church entity = naos) with finality (of course that critique applies to much of the exegetical task); indeed, adopting either of these interpretations will necessarily require one to make some assumptions. If one opts for the naos = body of Christ/Church, one has to assume that the Anti-Christ will somehow be able to ensconce himself in the genuine body of Christ. If one opts for naos as referring to a physical temple, then one has to assume that a third temple will have to be constructed (in part, if not in whole).

    I myself construe Luke 21.20 as providing for enough wiggle room in these matters so as to allow for the surrounding of the temple mount (or even the city of Jerusalem, more generally) by invading armies as qualifying for the fulfillment of the abomination of desolation. That is, I prefer to non-dogmatically read Paul, in 2 Thess 2.4, as referring to a rebuilt physical temple but if this does not obtain, the teachings of Christ are still intact and thereby one can understand Paul’s teaching in the light of Christ’s (the Anti-Christ’s self-installment in the temple of God would then be understood in such a sense as to refer to his future stationing of his armies around the temple mount).

    Blessings,

    Jim

    • MSH says:

      When Paul calls people (corporate and individual – 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19) the temple, it’s clear he isn’t speaking of a literal temple, regardless of the term he uses. No sleight of hand. It’s transparent. CHristians are where God dwells, and where the “reasonable service” of offering occurs (Rom. 12:1-2).

  51. Jim says:

    Or to put it another way (by redacting your lead query sentence), why do so many Christians (e.g., Luther and other Reformers and their followers) say the temple in which the anti-Christ will ensconce himself is the body of Christ/Church when a literal physical temple is referred to as the temple?

    • MSH says:

      The question doesn’t make any sense to me since both physical non physical (people – individual and corporate) temples get references with the same terms in the NT. Plus, I really don’t care what the reformers said about the matter. Often with them it’s the allegorism of the week sort of approach.

  52. Jim says:

    Mike,

    You are making my points for me. I think you misunderstand what I am trying to say.

    The textual facts of the NT are that temple (naos) can be used of 1) the church and 2) the literal temple (your second response to me is cognizant of this). However, your blog post’s lead question assumes (and I’m still not sure why) that the sense of “church” (in Corinthians) somehow precludes (or ought to preclude) the sense of the “literal temple” for some in their eschatology (and with this assumption, you shift the burden of rebuttal to others when it applies equally to your position).

    This is a false dichotomy; it is not a matter of “either/or” but of “both/and.” That is, if one supposes that 2 Thess 2.4 does refer to a literal temple (and there are sound NT grounds for so supposing, as shown in my previous posts) and, thus, that Paul is saying that the Man of Lawlessness will ensconce himself in this literal temple (as per 2 Thess 2.3-4), then one ought to expect a literal temple to be built at some point prior to this ensconcing–regardless of the known Pauline usage of “temple” as referring to the church in other places.

    In short, the answer to your question, “Why do so many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times when believers and the church are referred to as the temple?,” is as follows: Many Christians say the temple will be rebuilt in the end times because some of these Christians understand Paul to be referring to a literal temple in 2 Thess 2.4 irrespective of the known Pauline usages of “temple” (naos) in other places (but they [at least, I] say this not only based upon 2 Thess but upon other texts which can be readily read as suggesting a literal temple). Your lead blog question appears to assume that the only truly viable sense for “temple” in the context of Eschatology is the “church sense.” But, if one begins with the understanding that “temple” means “literal temple” in 2 Thess 2.4, one could just as easily ask why so many Christians assume that a rebuilt temple ought not be expected.

    I will make one final attempt to state this as clearly as possible: If both X and Y are possible, then to assume X over Y without introducing some reason which requires X at the exclusion of Y is just to engage in an assumption–even if this assumption goes on to imply that others are making an assumption which requires justification. Both readings of “temple” are possible and to assume the “church reading” over against the “literal temple” reading, simply because the “church reading” exists as a possibility, is an unjustified assumption–one must justify this assumption with recourse to other reasons/data (which each of us would need to do to exit the arena of assumption). You say the question I ask in my last (previous) post doesn’t make sense since both senses obtain for the same terms in the NT. Exactlythis is my point concerning your lead question. My question is your question but in reverse.

    I too care little for what the Reformers said on these matters. My only reason for mentioning the Reformers was to provide evidence for my claim that many Christians (both historical and contemporary) do take the position of the Reformers on these matters (viz., many do understand “temple” to refer to the Church and, thus, do not expect a future literal temple). I value some of the Reformer’s theology but think them deeply misguided with respect to certain issues.

    I have an unrelated question for you: all of my own research suggests to me that the Anti-Christ may be some type of hybrid or chimeric being (quasi human but also including other genetic and/or technological material in terms of his constitution).

    If Nimrod is a type of Antichrist, then his status as Giborim becomes relevant to this issue. What are your thoughts on this thesis that the Anti-Christ may be some type of hybrid or chimera?

  53. Jim says:

    Brother Mike,

    Something tells me that you may still not see my point, despite all my efforts. So, I offer the following concise question: Why do many Christians, including Mike Heiser, think that a literal temple will not be rebuilt since Paul uses the term temple (naos) to refer to a literal temple in his sermon of Acts 17 (the same term he uses in 2 Thess 2.4 to refer to the temple in which Anti-Christ will ensconce himself)?

    Now if you reply with the (legitimate) critique that the question does not make all that much sense because both senses of temple are possible (as per your note regarding the Corinthian correspondence), I agree with you. However, I ask you to recognize that this is exactly the kind of question (and assumption) you posit in and with your lead blog question at top and that this very same critique equally applies.

    Please note that I am not seeking to be uncharitable towards you (I have read some of your papers and admire your work in Hebrew and OT studies) but am only seeking to rigorously defend my own position by rejecting attempts (conscious or no) by others to get me to assume a burden of rebuttal which is really not extant (at least on the terms of your lead query question).

    Blessings,

    Jim

    • MSH says:

      This is fine — both and. I think it’s quite fair to say that the “Left Behinder” crowd has not been willing to acknowledge the non-literal option (at least when it comes to popular writers. That the term is used “both-and” also provides no interpretive edge toward one or the other. This issue is simply one of a list (mine could have been longer) that require presuppositional decisions before you ever get to specific prophetic passages. That we have a “both-and” here just means that the all the other issues would have to align one way for any view to be “right”. And of course, one can answer all the questions so that the ducks all line up — but that would be my point. Deliberate choices on these issues are what lead to the beautiful coherence of X view of prophecy, not the text itself. If one view of prophecy were so self evidence in the text, we wouldn’t have beautifully coherent alternatives based on a different alignment of the answers. NONE of the prophetic viewpoints are self evident. My beef is with those who pretend otherwise.

  54. Jim says:

    Mike,

    I wholly concur with the burden of your last paragraph, especially with your statement that “none of the prophetic viewpoints are self-evident.”

    Indeed, all of them, as quasi-systems, are supra-textual constructs and this means, for me, that dogmatism must be avoided at all turns. I’m only interested in hearing the text speak to me (as much as is possible) from its own horizon and on its own terms (even when those terms explode various necessary, but not sufficient, methodologies [historical-critical, grammatico-historical, etc.]).

    Can you point me in the direction of any papers or other writings which discuss (pro and/or con) the notion of the Anti-Christ as a chimera or hybrid or sorts?

    Blessings,

    James

  55. Mark says:

    I think the dinosaurs were byproducts of Sons of God tampering with the animal genome. I don’t have a clue whether it was reproductive coupling or in vitro. Who knows. What matters is that all these perverted creatures would be abominations to God and would have to be destroyed. The dinosaurs can be found in the fossil record. Fossils must be buried rapidly (like in a flood). Hmmmm.

    Men were accused of sinning constantly yet ALL FLESH had to die – this included every breathing animal. Why? They had been polluted. But how?

    After the flood, God made the animals fear man. Something had happened between men and animals that God wanted stopped!

    The demoniac in Mark wanted to enter into swine. (If a pre-flood demon were to enter an eagle, we’ll say, and then under the control of the demon, would the demon be able to get the eagle to mount a horse? If this were done frequently, might a perverted offspring be born eventually? Could Pegasus have been an antediluvian chimera? No. This is all just unjustifiable guesswork. :) )

    Did the Cherubim satan look at himself (parts of 3 animals and a human combined) and use himself as an template for what he could do to pervert God’s creation, or is the description of the cherubim strictly astral?

    Now, the satan is referred to as having some sort of reptilian aspect in Gen 3. In Revelation he is called a beast.

    What does satan know about being part animal that we don’t? I can guarantee one thing – God hates cross species breeding.

    Where are the bipedal reptiles today? (T-Rex, raptors, etc) Being bipedal would have to be the pinnacle of reptilian evolution. I guess either evolution works backwards, or God wiped out what should have never been.

    Anyone?

  56. Jim says:

    The more I look at the Prophets, the more I see typological material, which appears to pre-figure Antichrist, that is of a Chimaric (or, perhaps more accurately, Liminal) nature. My own position is that the Antichrist will be some type of Liminal being (probably a trifecta of human, animal and technological elements).

  57. Mike Wright says:

    Mike, you said a couple of years back to one of your commenters: “Can you send me a link to an official source / article / paper from the Israeli government that says this? I hear this every year. It would be nice to have something real and official for my files.”

    This is not anything related to the Israeli government, but interesting nevertheless:

    http://www.templeinstitute.org/

  58. cj says:

    could it be, if literal “temple” …a real man empowered by satan, sets himself up in the literal temple and desecrates it? and if a figurative/spiritual/the body of believers as a whole “temple” …a real man empowered by satan, sets himself up in an apostate “church” to even if possible fool the elect and in turn desecrate it? not the true believers but the perceived “church”.

    just a thought that represents both/and/or.

    cj

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