In my post titled The "Mark Dilemma" for Futurists, I highlighted what I termed "Prophetic Tension" stating that prophets sometimes used more of a "cause and effect" rather than a timeline in their prophecies. Now I read something very similar at the blog titled While It Is Day.
Matt Hartke is doing a series entitled Problems with PreMillennialism. At first I thought he was from another millennial persuasion attempting to prove another millennial position as superior to PreMillennialism. But upon examining his series, he is responding to someone else who has problems with PreMillennialism and is defending the position. In this post here, he touches on the truth of cause and effect. Here is what Matt has to say:
John the Baptist does a similar thing with his audience in Matthew 3. He urges the religious leadership of the day to repent on the basis that the Messiah was coming and the final judgment was at hand.
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize… with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor… the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." (Matt 3:11-12)
John is clearly speaking of Christ’s end-time harvest of the wicked at His coming, yet, oddly, he doesn’t mention that it will be death, resurrection, ascension, a couple thousand years and a second coming later. One reason could be that he did not know of this gap, but the real fact of the matter is that he’s not even thinking about timing, he is thinking of the cause/effect relationship between Jesus’ coming and the destruction of the wicked. He was preaching to motivate his listeners to repentance and holiness, not to make a timeline. Just like Peter, John sought to "stir up" His hearers by speaking of the sudden fiery judgment that Christ will bring.
Peter was speaking of the second coming in 2 Peter 3, but he saw the second coming and the end of the millennium as one reality – in the same manner that John the Baptist understood the coming of the Messiah and the fire of cleansing to be one reality – though there is a 2,000 year gap between the two. Peter, just like John, isn’t really concerned about the climactic nature of the final judgment, but just the fact that it will come and that it will come through Christ.
This is precisely what I was getting at in my post, and then to read it just a month or so later in someone else’s post with a great example like John the Baptist’s preaching is encouraging. I will mildly critique and say that Matt could bring about the point that the new heavens and new earth as prophesied in the OT (specifically Isaiah 65:17-25, 66:22-24) shows us new heavens and a new earth which is still an earthly kingdom where people will live, grow old, and die. So as Peter foretells of new heavens and a new earth, we would do well to assume that Peter knew of Isaiah’s writings and was in agreement with them. Overall though, it is a very well written post by Matt. If you are interested in the subject of prophetic tension, or cause and effect, Matt’s post is a great place to start.
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