Friday, December 22, 2017

The Olivet Discourse: Dispensationalism

There is, in my view, an unmistakable dispensational quality in what the scriptures say about the last days (see this, this, and this). Gentiles are on one schedule for redemption, whereas Jews are on another. Don't take that to mean that I see a way to God other than Jesus Christ, I do not! Everyone who is ultimately saved will be so because he or she recognized Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the dead, and therefore put all his or her hope in him.

God merely has one agenda for bringing that salvation in Christ to the Gentiles, and another for bringing that same salvation to the Jews.

In the Olivet Discourse, this reality can be seen in what Jesus prophesied concerning the Abomination of Desolation. Notice how the context changes at the introduction of that sign in Matthew (it is more subtle in Mark and Luke but still discernible). Earlier in the discourse the emphasis was on the nations (Gentiles), but once the subject of the Abomination is broached, the emphasis shifts to the Jews. That change, it seems to me, is clear enough to be obvious and yet its import can be easily missed.

Notice, specifically, how instructions given to those who see the Abomination are given to those in Judea and to sabbath observers. The Jewishness of such a designation can scarcely be overlooked. Furthermore, tribulation is curtailed and relief provided 
for the elect, but that action is marked by the sign of the Son of Man which causes the tribes (phulai) of earth to mourn. That distinction contrasts the Jewishness of the sufferers against the "Gentileness" of the mourners.

If we consider the original context in Daniel for this sign, it becomes very clear that the Abomination of Desolation (and thus the Tribulation signified by it) is part of God's redemptive plan for the Jews. Nothing is offered to the Gentiles by it but mourning due to their unbelief. As for all those Gentiles who did believe in the gospel, they are not addressed, nor even mentioned. The inference, therefore, is that they're not around until they are gathered from one end of heaven to the other when Christ returns!

The Tribulation, redemptively, is for the Jews and Jerusalem. It brings nothing but wrath and the portent of ultimate judgment to the Gentiles who experience it. Believing Gentiles will be off the scene at that time and not return until after it is over. There is one redemptive track in history for the Gentiles, and another for the Jews.