Sam Frost versus Sam Preston!

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Okay.  Due to an overwhelming flood of requests that I refute my own previously held position (known as, Full Preterism), I will now go ahead and grant the requests.  The book I wrote, which Full Preterist Leader and Teacher Don K. Preston still publishes, is called Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection (JaDon Publications, 2010).  If refute this book, which Preston hails as a “must read”, then I am, in fact, refuting Preston!

I don’t have to go through every page.  I can just take one section and refute it, thus toppling the main plank the rest is built on.  After watching the well over 100 videos on You Tube of Preston “explaining” a chapter that takes roughly ten minutes to read in the Bible (I Corinthians 15), I figure that this should be relatively simple.

RESPIX

Let us jump to the section in that chapter dealing with the resurrection body, 15.35-49.  For the sake of space, get your Bibles.  Let’s begin.  After my translation of the Greek, I wrote, “Note that so far, Paul has not mentioned ‘soma’ (Gr- ‘body’) until this point.  It is strange that if this is the major concern of Paul’s his lack of use is puzzling for the traditional view.”  RESPONSE: Not really.  I am using a negative fallacy (if it isn’t there, then it isn’t there argument).  For example, “I am going to take out the trash.”  Someone may respond, “you must be carrying it out piece by piece, because you did not mention a trash can.”  A trash can is assumed.  Fact of the matter is, Paul has been talking about resurrection bodies all through out because that’s what resurrection is.  It is only here that he gets to the point (as all commentators recognize).  The questions here tells me the subject matter: How are dead bodies raised?  What kind are they?

But, old Sam Frost continues, “The use of the question is telling.  The distinction between ‘they’ and ‘we’ is to be noticed.”  Well, again, not really.  “The dead” do not constitute “the living” (the one writing the letter and those listening to it being read), and thus, “they” is used.  Paul would not say, “we” because, well, he wasn’t dead!  Secondly, he states later that “we shall not all fall asleep”. The dead, they have fallen asleep, but we shall not all fall asleep.  So simple.

Now, in the previous pages of this book, I defended the idea that “the dead” were old covenant Israelites, the faithful of the Hebrew Bible (like, David, Moses, Ruth, Naomi and Zephaniah).  I wrote, “The deniers believed in their own resurrection, as well as those who fell asleep in Christ (those who accepted the gospel before seeing the parousia).  The ‘dead’ are those who lived and died before the gospel was announced.  This includes all of old covenant Israel.”  Thus, I attempted to make a case that the deniers has three distinct groups of people here: the dead, those fallen asleep, and the living. This is basically following Max King and Don Preston.  But, now, it is patently clear that the deniers that Paul has heard about among the larger Corinthian gatherings did not affirm their own resurrection.  There is no resurrection, they say.  This is plainly stated by Paul: “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?”  And, so plainly, Paul adduces, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised.”  There are two legitimate ways to take this: that Christ was possibly affirmed as an exception (since he was raised only in three days and his was promised not to see decay),or we have what later came to be affirmed as Docetism: Christ appeared in risen form, but not materially.  Since Jesus was raised in his self-same body (the tomb was empty), then the Full Preterists like King and Preston must affirm that he alone was the exception (and Preston goes even further, denying that the man Christ Jesus retains his earthly body in heaven.  This point alone is damning, since Jesus stated that his body would be raised in three days, and he called it “the temple.”  I guess Jesus got rid of the temple according to Don Preston!).

But, continuing, what indication is there that “the dead” here are exclusively Israelites.  This is the hardest sell that Preston’s view has.  Paul later quotes Isaiah 25.7-8: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that covereth all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He hath swallowed up death for ever; and the Lord Jehovah will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Jehovah hath spoken it.”  This promise is for “all peoples” and “all nations”, not just Israel.  Again, this is so plain for Paul because he had previously written, “in Adam all die”, and then quotes this verse from the Prophet.  All peoples, all nations die in Adam.  The dead, then, would be inclusive of all.  It is here that “the dead” in Preston’s view (and mine) is a code word for “old covenant Israel”.

Let me repeat this point: the deniers have reasoned among themselves that anyone before the hearing of the Gospel would not be raised.  That only they and those who had fallen asleep, but heard the Gospel, would be “raised from the dead.”  They denied, so Preston wants us to believe, that any Old Testament saint or faithful believer would be raised from the dead.  They did not deny that they themselves and those fallen asleep would be raised.

Allow me to say that this positing of what the deniers believed is totally and entirely made up.  It is an invented construction based on one thing and one thing alone: Full Preterists must locate resurrection of the dead in AD 70.  I Corinthians 15 is a huge obstacle for that case.  And, so, based upon the conviction that the resurrection of the dead did happen in AD 70, this passage must be re-defined, re-interpreted, re-invented, re-constructed and re-construed.  There has never been a more plainer example on my part when I wrote Exegetical Essays than ‘reading into the text’ than this.

But, since I swallowed this pill, I was enabled to write, “This “Holy Spirit of the promise” (Eph 1.13) was promised to OT Israel.”  Nope.  “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” – Joel 2.28.  The question, then, concerning ‘what kind of body‘ would the dead get when they were raised has the deniers asking, “since the dead Israelites that died before the Messiah came in our generation, they never knew Jesus and, thus, they are not a apart of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Since they are not part of that Body, what kind of Body are they raised with?  How could God make them apart of the Body of Christ?”  Folks, this makes these deniers look like a bunch of total idiots, and I doubt strongly that Paul would have engaged such nonsense.  The fact is, the very plain fact that virtually every scholar sees, past and present, is that some among the Corinthian believers, being Greeks, had a hard time with the concept entirely unique to Judaism and Christianity: God raising up material bodies.  The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead meant that God would raise up bodies that have been dead for thousands of years.  Paul was Jewish, and this is what Jews in his day discussed (as is and can be thoroughly documented).  This is the plain, ordinary reading of Paul and the plain ordinary understanding of the original audience.

But, in my former book I plod on: “Thus, this question is not asking, ‘how can dead people, long decomposed, be raised?  In what body are they coming since the body that was buried is long disintegrated?’  That this is not the question becomes perfectly clear in the analogy Paul gives.”  From this I go into 15.36-ff.  But, I want to make one thing clear here at this point, because I remember writing this part and what I was thinking.  I could not make a case solely from what I had already presented in the book.  And, in fact, it was this section that caused me to accept what King, and later Preston, was teaching.  This section, the so-called “seed analogy”, is what started it all when I “got it”.  I remember it so vividly (this was back in 1992).  Thus, I did not start with the convoluted idea of the deniers limiting resurrection to “the church” (that came later after I accepted this idea).  I did have the assumption that whatever Paul was talking about here, it must be fulfilled in AD 70 (which is false, too, and based upon my Dispensationalist background that prophecy is an “all or nothing” event).  I was wrestling with the idea presented by Ed Stevens (that there was a literal rapture of the saints, and the dead got “new bodies” – I remember sitting with John Anderson when Stevens came out with that one!  You could have heard a pin drop).  But, I rejected Stevens’ view because the Greek text (as noted by the vast majority of textual scholars) strongly states that the body that is corrupt is the body that is raised!  Dear readers, you must understand that this fact was entirely critical for me.  When I finally understood Max King’s view (after many chats), and saw that he strongly endorsed that the body that is corrupt is the same body that is raised, I knew I was on a firmer ground.  Listen to me here: the only thing that needed to change in my traditional understanding at that point was a reconsideration of what “body” means in this passage.  For Preston and King it is the “corporate body” of Christ, the Church, made up of the faithful from Adam to Paul’s day, who were “dying with” Christ and yet also “being raised” with Christ by the Spirit as they were transitioning from the old covenant to the new covenant.

Now, since there was much truth in the idea of the “corporate body” concept (neither King, nor Preston invented that one), then that was not so hard a pill to swallow.  And, since there certainly was a “transitioning” of sorts from covenant to covenant (old to new) that created a huge issue for the church (Acts 15), then that was not an issue as such, either.  They didn’t invent that.  What King did was combine these two ideas and then read them into Corinthians 15.  He did so by attempting to show that the “traditional view” could not possibly be sustained and involved huge contradictions.  It is now that we get to those “contradictions” and show that King, and later Preston, Jack Scott, Larry Siegle, William Bell and myself all went horribly down the wrong road.  I Corinthians 15 cannot sustain a Full Preterist paradigm.

Old Sam Frost wrote, “The ‘dead’ stand for the ‘seed.’”  I footnote this a few pages later, “The translation above says, ‘the body is sown’ for verse 42, but the word ‘body’ appears in italics, meaning it is not in the text.  It is just as possible to be ‘the dead’ here since ‘the dead’ occurs at the end of verse 45.”  This is a case of being so blind to the text because of my conviction that Full Preterism is true.  The translations in verse 42 are correct.  The literal Greek reads, “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.”  The verb is singular.  “The dead” is plural!  Therefore, the dead cannot be the subject of the verb (neuter plural nouns can take a singular verb, but not masculine plural nouns.  “The dead” is masculine plural)!  Rather, Paul, in response to the questions of “how” and “why” speaks about “flesh” and “bodies (masculine plural)” immediately in the answer!  He is clearly speaking about material creation.  Oblivious to this point, I wrote, “The question is not “how will their bodies be raised” but, “how will dead ones be raised?”  But, this completely ignores the plain fact that some may ask, “What kind of body” are the dead going to have?  Watch this:

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain — perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.”  All the words in bold are in the text. What kind of body are the dead to receive?  Well, Paul expounds on bodies of flesh – created bodies.  And, then he states “and so it is with the resurrection of the dead.  The body is sown in corruption, the body is raised in incorruption.”  The body that is sown is the body that is raised.  But, Paul is clearly, nowhere, mentioning that “body” here is the corporate concept of The Body of Christ, the Church!  He’s talking about human bodies, fish bodies and animal bodies of flesh.   He later defines this as the natural body, the flesh and blood body.

Now, here’s the whole kicker that got the ball rolling for me when I accepted King’s view.  I wrote, “Paul has set out four things in his analogy that follow a sequence: 1).  The existence of the seed, which stands for the ‘dead,’ in keeping with the question that was asked.  2).  The seed is then sown into the ground.  3).  The seed then dies.  4).  It is also, at the same time, being brought to life.  Let’s run the traditional view through this analogy.”  Further, “In the traditional view, the dead body stands for the individual ‘seed.’  The dead body/seed is then sown (buried in a casket) into the ground.  Then the dead body/seed begins to die, and is at the same time being made alive.  Does this fit?  Clearly, in the traditional view, the dead body/seed is already dead before it is sown!  In Paul’s analogy, death occurs after it is sown.  Also, how does the traditional view answer ‘being made alive’ as a process?  Are physical bodies currently undergoing a death/life process in the casket until the resurrection of the dead?”  Max King made the famous remark, “make sure I am dead before you bury me!”

First, point 1.  I have already dealt with that one.  The question that was asked is what kind of body are the dead going to receive?  I erroneously make the seed “stand for” the dead.  Point 2.  The seed is is simply sown.  Paul does not say, “first it is sown, then it dies.”  This is where very strange attempts are made to press Paul’s analogy into some biological lesson on carpology.  Some have said the seed is the soul, and the body is the shell, and the shell gives way so that the seed/soul “gets” a new body (tree).  Others have noted that Paul is wrong here on agricultural grounds because, technically, seeds don’t die.  Others have tried to link in seeds being planted with us being buried in caskets and lowered into a six foot hole (are any of these folks familiar with catacombs, and the fact that a great deal of human beings have never been buried at all in their demise?).  Paul is simply talking about a seed, like his Rabbinical counterparts did.  “‘Thou mayest deduce by an a fortiori argument [the answer] from a wheat grain: if a grain of wheat, which is buried naked, sprouteth forth in many robes, how much more so the righteous, who are buried in their raiment!  An emperor said to Rabban Gamaliel: ‘Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?‘ Thereupon his [the emperor’s] daughter said to him [the Rabbi]: ‘Let me answer him: In our town there are two potters; one fashions [his products] from water, and the other from clay: who is the more praiseworthy?’ ‘He who fashions them from water, he replied. ‘If he can fashion [man] from water,surely he can do so from clay!’ (Babylonian Tractate, Sanhedrin, Folio 90,91).  Sound familiar?  Paul was a Jew, arguing like a Jew and using Jewish phrases with Jewish definitions.  I do not even hint at this in my book.  Also, I Clement, written to the Corinthians as well, probably in the 90’s, states, “1Clem 24:5 The sower goeth forth and casteth into the earth each of the seeds; and these falling into the earth dry and bare decay: then out of their decay the mightiness of the Master’s providence raiseth them
up, and from being one they increase manifold and bear fruit.”  The point of both Paul and Clement is plain: a seed is sown, and from its decay comes something marvelous.  God’s Providence does this in nature.  “So it is with the resurrection of the dead.”  The appeal Full Preterists often make to “ordinary, plain meaning” goes entirely out the window when this chapter is read.

The fact is, the seed is sown and the seed, through corruption, also sprouts.  God does this and to each seed He actively is involved in their germination (this is so Jewish!).  God is a personally involved Creator.  Then, Paul, after speaking about seeds, moves on to human beings, animals and fish, and then quotes Genesis 2!  “And so the resurrection of the dead is like this.  The body is sown in corruption.  It is raised in incorruption.”  Nowhere does Paul say that the seed dies before it is sown.  He simply says, “the seed is not quickened unless it dies.”  God is not done with a seed even in its corrupt state, but recycles it after its own kind.  Corruption and deterioration is not the end of the matter (pun intended).

However, the Full Preterist Sam Frost would say, the point is the fact that the seed must die.  And, commenting from scholar Gordon Fee, “Fee realizes that if the necessity of physical death is what Paul has in mind, then he contradicts himself in vss. 50-53, where ‘we shall not all sleep’ (or physically die).  I find that Fee must devalue the seed analogy in vs. 36 and its point that ‘unless it dies’ because he cannot maintain his view and stay consistent.  He cannot maintain that physical bodies must die in order to be raised, for that would indeed bring Paul into a severe contradiction.”  And so it would.  Back in the day, this supposed contradiction, as I have already mentioned, is what got the ball rolling for me.

But, there is one problem.  And it’s glaring.  “Sleep” and “falling asleep” are common phrases found in the Bible, and used exclusively for those who have passed away and entombed.  ” R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead and knoweth the future? From, Behold, Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and … rise again etc.”  That is, the dead are those who have fallen asleep, and this speaks of the form of death before resurrection.  Notice what I did in my comment from my book above: “‘we shall not all sleep’ (or physically die).”  I do this throughout my book: “That Fee was correct to notice a contradiction has been noted.  If Paul means that the physical body must die in verse 36, then he contradicts himself when he says, ‘we will not all die’ in verse 51.  But, Fee is not entirely off the hook here.  If those in verse 51 do not die, then how in the world can they be ‘made alive?’  Is it not ‘the dead’ that are made alive?  Then how can Paul say, ‘we will not all die when he comes?’”  Note, please, my switch of the word “die” for the phrase, “fall asleep” or “sleep.”  Later on I wrote,  “The very fact that Paul says that some ‘will not sleep’ proves that physical death is not necessary for obtaining to the resurrection of the dead.  However, some kind of death is necessary, for without any death, resurrection is impossible.”  This is just a plain old example of switching definitions in mid-stream.  It’s sophistry.  “Sleep” and “die” are not the same thing as I made them out to be.

First, “in Adam, all are dying” (15.22).  All die.  However, Paul does not say, and is careful not to say, that ‘we shall not all die.’  Instead, he said, ‘we shall not all sleep.’  Sleep refers to the state of the body post-mortem (after death).  The eyes are closed.  It is ‘laid to rest’ (see Daniel 12.13).  This was the Rabbinical meaning.  Paul is not, then, contradicting himself at all.  If he said, “all die” and “all must die in order to be transformed” with “all shall not die, but all be transformed”, then, yes, we have a blatant, bona fide contradiction.  However, if Paul said, “all die”, but “we shall not all sleep“, then we have two different terms here.  In effect, all die, and all will die, but some will not undergo death in its usual manner with its accompanying funeral and being laid to rest (sleep).  “We who are alive, at the moment of his return will be changed.”  Sleep is bypassed.  Death is not.  The change from death to life is “in a nano-second, a twinkling of the eye.”  Paul’s use of the perfect tense for those “having fallen asleep” (and are still asleep), speaks to the state of their rest, the state of their body.  This specifically goes back to his statement that if the dead are not raised, then those who are now asleep have perished, because in Rabbinical thought the soul alone in heaven is not a resurrection nor a restoration.  It is a unnatural existence (contra the Greek idea that the soul is freed from its prison house of the body and can now come into its fullest expression).  All die, but not all will sleep is not a contradiction.

That removed the supposed “contradiction” set up by Max King.  King forced an arbitrary “analogy”.  He was not reading Paul as a rabbinical Jew, or a biblical Christian.

But, I am afraid, exposing myself, it gets worse.  Here’s what I wrote in the book, “It must be noted that not everyone will physically die.  Paul is clear on that.  But what does he mean here?  Will there be some who will ‘never see death?’  Is Paul getting this from Jesus (John 11.26)?  What did Jesus mean that ‘those who believe in me will not ever see death?’  Did he mean that they would never physically die?  That seems to be contradicted in 12.25: ‘he who believes in me will live, though he dies.’  Is it a spiritual meaning here?  Those who believe in Christ will never see ‘the death’ (sheol, hades) even though they physically die.  They will never go where the saints have been going since Adam onwards: the pit, sheol, hades, the grave.  They, in short, will not ‘sleep.’  Their physical demise does not mean that they will enter into the pit, but will come into the life forever.  They will never see the death.”  I simply shake my head here at this point.  In the book of Revelation, John sees “the death and Hades” hurled into the lake of fire.  For Full Preterists, this has been fulfilled in AD 70.  How, then, can “never die” mean “never see sheol” or “the death” when “the death” is destroyed in AD 70 for everyone?  In the Full Preterist scheme “the death and the hades (sheol)” is destroyed in AD 70!  Secondly, it cannot mean “spiritual death” (separation from God), because the fact of having faith in Jesus removes that issue.  It must mean, then, what John called, “the second death” – the lake if fire.  We do die (the first death), but we shall not see death (the second death).

Oh, it gets worse, because I follow this paragraph with this one: “When would these enemies, and the final ‘last enemy’ be vanquished?  Paul has already alluded to this in vv. 20-25.  The ‘end’ is when Christ comes.  That is when ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’  Death is again addressed here in a personified form with the article, ‘the death.’  The death is a specific death that ‘reigned through the sin’ (Ro 5.13).  The particular sin Paul has in mind is Adam’s.  Through Adam’s sin, the sin, the death came to reign ‘the day he ate’ (Gn 2.17).  Adam did not physically die the day he ate, however.  What did happen to Adam?  ‘So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden’ (Gn 3.23).  Adam was severed from God, alienated, estranged, separated, condemned, banished, exiled, humiliated, dishonored, and defeated.  Death ruled through his sin.  The death ruled through the sin.  That death was now ‘being destroyed’ by Christ’s reconciling, redeeming, recovering, honoring, exalting, restoring, justifying, adopting, and glorifying ministry.”  Now I turn around and make “the death” mean “severed from God” and not “sheol, hades, the grave”!  Was this death hurled into the lake of fire in AD 70?  Talk about switching definitions amidst confusion!  “[Adam] was condemned.  When he finally physically expired, he did not inherit eternal life.  He remained in the realm ruled by the Death, the Sin and the Torah: sheol.”  Here, “the realm ruled by the death” makes the realm (sheol) and the death (separation from God) two different things!  As a Full Preterist I have three definitions of death: physical death, sheolic death, and separation from God death!  sheolic death is destroyed in AD 70.  Physical death is not destroyed (obviously).  Yet, “separation from God” death still remains.

But, this is where it gets really bad for Full Preterists: the Death that is thrown into the lake of fire is the very ‘the death’ that is foretold of in Isaiah 25.8.  And, that ‘death’ is defined by Full Preterists as separation from God death!

“he will swallow up the death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.” – Isaiah 25.8

“When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “The Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – I Corinthians 15.54

“Then The Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20.14

“and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and the death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.” – Revelation 21.4

Please listen to this: the only death swallowed up and defeated in Revelation is the same death foretold of in Isaiah 25.  “The second death” is not ever mentioned to be swallowed up or destroyed.  This fact is the death-knell for Full Preterism.  My considerably confusion, as I have shown here, in the book that Preston still publishes as a must read demonstrates that I was literally all over the place in order to make my “case”.  I contradict myself, use false grammar, blur definitions, and redefine terms.  It’s not too many times when you see an author ripping his own work to shreds, but here it is.  I hope those of you that are following this will have your eyes opened to this egregious error.

 

 

 

Isaiah and the Highway (Response to Preston, Part 6).

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

The imagery as we discussed in my last article as it concerns Isaiah is that all nations will be called to gather together as God’s elect to the “Holy Mountain.”  This theme runs throughout Isaiah.  It also touches upon the theme of the New Heavens and New Earth (a phrase used only by Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible).  The nations are called (gathered together) to bring about the unification of the peoples of the world (think the opposite of God scattering the peoples at the Tower of Babel).  This gathering takes place as the “highway” is built upon which the peoples are seen to tread upon towards the Holy Mountain.  Saint Paul identifies this mountain as “Jerusalem Above” (which is also found in Rabbinical thought of his era).

The items marked in Isaiah 65.17-ff is a stark contrast between the futurity of God’s people with the circumstances of them in his day.  Israel was war torn with the threat of Assyria and Babylon.  Idolatry was rampant.  The Temple was scorned.  Famines, plagues, drought and economic insecurity abounded.  In Isaiah 65.17-ff we read this future hope:

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20 No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD” (ESV).

 

This, as the scholars rightly understand, is the culmination of the dominant themes that have already been encountered several times in the Prophet (as I mentioned in the previous article).  Of course, the language is human to describe the hope, but we must always recognize the fact that this is prophecy, and thus, as the syntax itself in its form tells us, is poetic.  Secondly, we must always keep in mind the previous material of Isaiah to which this passage is connected.  When we survey the entire corpus of this book (which is the context), and note the current situation, historically, of the Prophet, then we can see the stark contrast between this hope where Israel lives at total peace without any misfortune and then as she was.  Third, as already mentioned, God envisions through the Prophet not just a hope for Israel, but also through Israel the nations becoming Israel themselves!  This is the “mystery” Paul talked about in his letters, “the nations and Israel coming together” as one People.  For Paul, this coming together of the nations was a prelude to the hope being made manifest.  How were the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Assyrians and Chaldeans to be also called, “My People”?  In what manner was the fact of this prophecy, the unification of the world into a new world world peace would reign and death would be swallowed up in victory?

 

Paul called this a “mystery” because of the fact that it was plain in the Prophets that the nations would come in by the scores of an innumerable  multitude.  Not only that, but that they would also be counted as “My People” – a covenantal designation that some in Israel took for their own prestige, as if something belonged to them and not others.  As if something that belonged to them could not belong to others regardless of how they were assimilated into the covenant people.

 

Make no mistake about it: Peter, James, John and Paul regarded the mission to the nations (often called, “Gentiles”) as prophetic.  That is, what they were doing was according to the time Isaiah saw in the future of his day.  There were two things that settled this: the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, Son of David to the right hand of God, and the pouring out of the Spirit (events mentioned in Isaiah).

 

We must understand, though, that Jesus continually reminded his followers that “he must first suffer and be handed over and die” before the in-breaking of God to “restore the kingdom to Israel”.  They saw, at first, that Jesus, being recognized as the True Messiah, would at that time bring about the dawn of the Isaianic Kingdom.  But, there is an order here.  And we find it in Isaiah.

 

Frankly, I was going back over my lectures that I gave on Isaiah (I was writing a commentary on the book at the time) when I was Pastor of Christ Covenant Church (7-12-2005).  The points I am making now were pretty much the same I was making then.  However, when it got to other matters of the text I had to revert to a method of interpretation that was foreign to what got me there.  I had to spiritualize the text so that it “fit” with the notion that “all prophecy was fulfilled” by the time of AD 70 (the heresy of Full Preterism).  Be that as it may, and going back and reading Breuggemann and Watts, it is refreshing that to see that my start was good at that time.  My end was horrible!

 

Isaiah sees Israel under the threat of doom and the Assyrians and the Babylonians are coming to finish the job of YHWH’s wrath.  Equally, the nations are doomed and the Lord is ready to burn the entire thing up.  This is to be understood from the perspective of what ought to be, what should be if God acted entirely on the basis of righteous judgment.  However, as we are taught from the beginning, God did not wipe out “all flesh.”  He saved Noah and his family.  He did not wipe out all of Sodom and Gommorah, he saved Lot and his family.  He did not wipe out Esau’s birthright, but gave it to the lesser.  He did not wipe out Ninevah, but saved them instead, even though impending doom was over their heads.  And, so, we find with Isaiah that God will save Israel through a remnant.

 

From this remnant we have the Christ, who is named Cyrus (Isaiah 45.1-ff).  God is calling the nations (here, Cyrus) who has “not acknowledged me” (compare 65.1).  45.8 reflects the NHNE (new heavens new earth) motif.  45.11-ff is a creation reference to Adam and is now focus on the Messiah Cyrus who will rebuild the remnant.  We find this history recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah.  But, as I stated before, it doesn’t pan out that way.  Cyrus dies and another kingdom comes.

 

However, Isaiah mentions other factors to come like the “suffering servant” (50-53), who will die and be raised from the dead (53.8-12).  This “servant” is a “tender shoot” (53.2), and this maintains the “root” or “Branch” who is to come.  It’s not Cyrus.  In Isaiah 11.10-ff this “root” take a “remnant” and signals the nations to come and gather together as well to form “My People” (19.25) made from the remnant of Israel (who were flesh and blood descendents of Abraham) and the nations (who are called “My People” not according to flesh-birth).  These together will gather upon the Highway which is bound to the Holy Jerusalem, the Mount of Zion, the Temple of the Lord in heaven.

 

Isaiah, then, foresees something beyond Cyrus.  Israel will be decimated yet again after her regathering under Cyrus!  Let me quote from another Sermon I delivered on Isaiah while I was a Full Preterist: “But, as we have seen, Isaiah is not concerned with just that return.  A remnant (a tenth) returned to the land, but Isaiah sees another burning that will take place after that return.  It is in the days of that second burning that the restoration of the remnant into a powerful, enlarged nation will emerge.  However, Isaiah has placed the restoration vision, in many places throughout the book, in areas that have to do with his immediate context.  In our last lecture we saw that in 10-11 it appears that after the Assyrians are destroyed, then God would bring about “the Branch”, the “root of Jesse.”  This is how Isaiah places these passages.  A nation has fallen, restoration might ensue….but it does not.  Babylon falls and maybe now the restoration of God will ensue….but it does not pan out.  A remnant is regathered back into the land under Cyrus the Persian, so maybe here is when God will restore us…..and it does not happen.  Jerusalem is rebuilt and the offerings are once again offered….but here come the Syrians and Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  And then Rome….how long, O’ Lord?  It is as if Isaiah has deliberately placed these visions of hope after the destruction of these nations, one by one, to keep it in front of them that one day this will happen.  Isaiah states this: “I will wait on the Lord who is hiding his face from Jacob, I will put my trust in him” (8.17).  This waiting and having faith is rooted in the Hope of Israel, her restoration.  It is this kind of faith anchored in the hope that Isaiah has scattered throughout the texts.  He sprinkles visions of hope and glory in the midst of historical conflict, civil war, idolatry, exile, desolation, misery and despair.  Only a small, small portion of those under Moses’ covenant have this kind of faith.  Most among Israel and Judah do not.  They hear, but never understand.  They have eyes, but cannot see.”

That was preached in 2005!  The text I used was Isaiah 6.13, which, as many scholars understand, is a vision of a second destruction of the land.  And, here, the Branch will “reclaim a remnant a second time” (11.11).  That lands us in Paul’s day.  The remnant is regathered out of and together with the Nations to form one new people.  It is this people that is placed upon the Highway that leads to Mount Zion, where, “He shall swallow up The Death forever” (Isaiah 25.8) – the “shroud that covers over all the nations.”  In Adam, all die and “all the nations” came from him (Acts 17.11).  Jesus, the Branch, the Root, the Suffering Servant.  “Because that he exposed to The Death his soul, And with transgressors he was numbered, And he the sin of many hath borne, And for transgressors he intercedeth.”  Because he exposed himself in obedience to The Death, he abolished The Death in himself (2 Timothy 1.10), holding the keys of The Death (Revelation 1.18 – all verses are literally in Greek/Hebrew “the death”) he now leads all nations, My People, to the Mountain upon which he reigns and sits at the Right Hand of God on a Broad Highway where he will swallow up The Death forever.  That which has been done for Him will be done for His People; The Death will be swallowed up in victory.  The Gospel of the New Covenant is this: The Restoration has begun.  The Highway is here.  Good news, indeed.

It is in this imagery that John the Revelator sees “The Death” hurled into the eternal fiery lake, and explicitly alludes to Isaiah 65.17-ff (Revelation 21.1-ff).  And, Scripture interpreting Scripture, we are to understand Isaiah’s vision of the ultimate hope of Israel, the restoration of the kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven where it cannot ever be disrupted again.  Isaiah’s vision of a NHNE is Edenic and it is also the reversal of the curses of Israel found in the book of the Law (which, also, is upon any nation that serves not the Lord.  God does not have two different types of wrath.  There is not an “old covenant plague” versus a “natural plague” – a plague is a plague is a plague).  It is in this way that he sees a vision of My People in surroundings (heaven on earth) that are quite foreign to what we see presently (Hebrews 2.8, commenting on Psalm 8, which is Edenic before the Fall).  “But we see Jesus”!

Therefore, what we can now ascertain in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets is that Jesus, the Root, has come.  Jerusalem would be sacked one more time (70 AD).  Yet, from this a remnant would be gathered from Israel who were so by physical descent.  From this remnant, this root, this lump, and together with them “the Nations” would be called forming one new man.  These would be placed on the Broad Highway of Holiness that leads to Mount Zion, Jerusalem Above, “which is” also “coming down out of heaven” (Revelation 21.2).  The People of God, the Israel of God, are on a Highway going up, while the City they are going to is coming down!  “On earth as it is in heaven.”  This is the New Heavens and New Earth wherein The Death shall be no more once “all those” who have been given to the Son by the Father have been “raised on the last day.”

This understanding, shared so much from the early days of the Church to today is an amazing impetus for the faithful, the People of God, My People.  “Who hath wrought and done, Calling the generations from the first? I, Jehovah, the first, and with the last I am He” (Isaiah 41.4).  He is from the first generation to the last generation”.  He is speaking “to the nations” in this passage, revealing to them (who have not heard, nor seen) who He is.  He is the Span of Time from Beginning to End.  Isaiah’s message speaks to these generations, each one of them.  God has raised up a Banner to the Nations.  A Highway has been built.  God’s People are walking on it, heading to Zion where Death will be swallowed up for all the nations (resurrection).  Today is the Day of Salvation.  HEAR HIM who utters FROM HEAVEN!  Drink FREELY of the river that flows from the Heavenly City down to the corrupt world.  Grace is offered NOW to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the prostitute, the used, abused, tossed away and the afflicted.  Praise His Holy Name!  Maranatha!

 

Response to Preston Part 5; It’s Gettin’ Better!

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

At the risk of sounding redundant, Preston starts his 5th “response” with yet again, a confusion of key words and terms.  He writes, “This raises an interesting question: Does Frost now believe in the literal passing of material “heaven and earth” i.e. their disappearance? In his Why I Left Full Preterism (p. 47) he speaks of a recreated, restored earth! So, does the heaven and earth literally “pass away” cease to exist, or is it restored? Frost once again contradicts himself.”

Apparently, Preston, who accuses me of being a “literalist” does not understand what the word, ‘renew’ means.  Does a caterpillar “cease to exist” when it becomes a butterfly?  Again, “this generation shall not pass away” (same word).  Have they “ceased to exist”?  Well, on one hand, yes.  One the other, no.  I realize this logical solution may go over the heads of many, but that is not my problem.  Nonetheless, that deals with that.

Again, Preston: “However, he appeals to Psalms 102 as proof that the heaven and earth will pass away. Keep in mind that Frost says of the law, in Matthew 5:17-18, that it will not pass away– cease to exist on paper- until it is all fulfilled. But, that same language is applied to heaven and earth: “heaven and earth shall not pass.” So, if the law will cease to exist when it is finally fulfilled, then that same definition must apply to the heaven and earth, yet, Frost affirms a new heavens and earth! Disappear does not mean new! It means, well, disappear!”

I argue, consistently, that the Scriptures (the jots and tittle, which is their written form) will indeed “pass away” when all of the Scriptures (not just the old covenant) are fulfilled.  The Law is “written on the heart” .  When all is fulfilled, the texts, as they now stand, in their written forms (Bibles), will cease.  “But my word shall never pass away.”  Huh?  If it is a case of form, the problem is solved.  Heaven and earth, as we now understand them, will cease.  A new (kairos in Greek) heavens and new earth is ­re­-formed.  Kairos speaks of a new quality.  “New and improved” does not mean the basic stuff of the older Windex has “ceased to exist”.  It’s been tweeked.   One as smart as Preston should understand this.

It gets worse, though.  Preston writes, “Frost claims that Isaiah 65 predicts the end of time: “Isaiah 65 envisions a new heavens and earth, too. In it, fantastical, poetic hyperbole is used to denote that it is quite a different scene than what is “normally” seen and experienced.”

Now, here is he is quoting me accurately.  But, then he amazingly says this immediately after: “Notice once again Frost’s literalistic hermeneutic at work. But of course, he cannot in any sense be consistent in that hermeneutic, for it would then destroy his entire argument.”

How can I be “literalistic” when I said, “fantastical, poetic hyperbole”?  I digress.

Let’s take Preston’s view at a glance, then point out the obvious errors of his procedure.  First, he goes into Isaiah 65.1-3 and shows that Paul quotes this passage in Romans 10.20.  And so he does.  Therefore, he reasons, this entire chapter must be fulfilled!  Well, no, not so fast.  First off, Isaiah is clearly (even from the scholar H.C. Leupold  who Preston quotes, notes) talking to his own people.  Isaiah is not saying, “765 years from now, I will hold out my hands to an obstinate people.”  No.  He was holding out his hands in Isaiah’s day.  Israel was obstinate then, and exile was coming upon them (by the Assyrians and Babylonians).  Paul is quoting this passage to prove his point that what was happening in his day concerning Israel as a whole was nothing new at all.  Stephen’s indictment was the same: you and your forefathers have always been stiffnecked!

As far as their sins being piled up, the exact same language is used by the Prophets in their own times, and Israel, as a result of piled up sins, received “double” when Babylon came and destroyed their land.  Where did “audience relevance” go, Mr. Preston?

But, Isaiah does go on and speaks of a “remnant” to be gathered together and brought back to the Land.  And, indeed, they were, as Ezra says, “we are but a remnant!”  Paul’s point again is to show that “remnant” salvation concerning Israel is nothing new.  He has always saved his people through a remnant.  So, Paul reasons, it is in his day.  A remnant of Israel was being “saved” by the Gospel.

One of the threats of punishment for breaking covenant is that God would raise up nations to make Israel “jealous.”  As it was in Isaiah’s day, so it was in Paul’s (which is Paul’s point).  God signaled Cyrus the Persian, converted Nebuchadnezzar.  Nehemiah 9.32-33, written after Isaiah, states this as the case.  God called to nations not his own, to a people who do not know his name.   Paul, therefore, it using this passage to show that God is perfectly well within his rule to call the nations.  In fact, this becomes the very problem of Preston’s view, as I will show.

The calling of the nations, of which Paul had been made an Apostle, is thoroughly found in Isaiah.  As we continue to read this chapter, 65, we see that a “remnant” will come forth and blossom and “fill the whole world” (65.9; 27.6).  This is found in 27.6 (and other places).  From a remnant God continues to move ahead His Purpose.  Paul’s point in Romans 9-11 is exactly that: God, in Christ, is moving ahead with a Purpose that has always been the case: a remnant to nations, from Noah to the Table of Nations, from Abraham to the blessing of nations, from Israel to the nations, from a remnant to the whole world, the nations.  With Jesus Christ having been raised from the dead and abolishing the old covenant system, fulfilling it, the same Purpose can now be accomplished with such power and encompass such a magnitude that Israel, while under the Mosaic Covenant, could not “birth”.  They got up to the point of birth, and “gave birth to the wind” (Isaiah 26.18).  Isaiah 66 (continuing from 65).8,9 uses this “birth” motif.  Israel, while burdened with the laws of Moses, could not bring to birth “the salvation of the world.”  And, as we know, they were exiled, and regathered again  as a remnant.  It would seem that at this time Isaiah would be fulfilled!  But, such was not the case.  The nations  will come in with their “riches” (wealth – 66.12).  And, so comes Cyrus and the Persians.  In fact, as we have recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah, they favored Israel and fostered her to rebuild Jerusalem.  Was salvation brought the world?  Did the wealth of the nations come in?  No.

Now, Preston wants to make a big deal about the “remnant” in Romans 9-11, and his point about God doing a work in Paul’s generation is to be noted.  “So it is in the present time” Paul wrote, citing the past instances where God saved a remnant.  The promise was that from a few would come an innumerable multitude.  Israel, time and again, were left with a few, and yet, no multitude or riches if the nations resulted.  Here is where Paul differs from the past Prophets: the riches of the nations (Gentiles) has come because Jesus, the Son of Man, has accomplished what was purposed in him to accomplish.  Isaiah and the past remnants didn’t have one thing: the Cross and Resurrection of King Jesus, Son of David.  They had David.  They had the Son of David (Solomon).  They had Cyrus, the Anointed (the Christ).  But, “we have not given birth.”  Well, birth has come!  But, what Preston fails to see, the elephant in the room for his view, is that the riches of the nations (Romans 11.9-15) has come in terms of fulfillment.  The “wild olive shoot” of Paul’s analogy is the Nations (Gentiles).  Paul also adds another point: these Gentiles/Nations coming in are also Israel!  This is to fulfill Isaiah 61.5-9, 60.1-ff.  In my last article, Preston was commenting on Isaiah 24 but omits where the “islands, the ends of the earth, from the east to the west (24.14,15) rejoice”.  We find this in Isaiah 66.19-ff where the “survivors” (remnant) will go to islands “who have not seen my glory nor have heard my name.  They will bring your family from all the nations to my holy mountain.”  The nations will be called, “My People” (Isaiah 19.23-25).  This is “all Israel”.

Now, a major problem for Preston is, if this is all fulfilled by the time the city was destroyed, then so was the prophecy to all the nations.  But, we do not see this pattern at all.  Rather, under Isaiah, the city is captured (Babylon in 589 B.C.), a remnant is saved, the nations bring her back, the wealth of the nations come flooding in and Israel is the source of blessing (fulfilling Abraham’s promise) to the whole world.  This kind of happened under David/Solomon.  This sort of happened under Cyrus Christ.  This IS happening under Jesus Christ.  A remnant of Israel (according to the flesh – see footnote below) were being saved, and from that root the riches of the nations were coming in.  Yet, Israel persisted, as a whole, in rebellion and her city was sacked (AD 70), but a remnant was saved (144,000) and from that remnant wild olive branches were added, who are also “sons of Abraham.”  A highway is built.  Israel is flooding the earth, and has been for 2000 years in fulfillment of Isaiah.  This is entirely inescapable for Preston, but yet he wants it all fulfilled by AD 70.

This brings us to the New Heavens and New Earth which stands in entire contrast to Israel as she was in the day of Isaiah.  As all along Isaiah foresees a time when the nations will learn the Law of God, and he himself will be their teacher.  He will build a highway from the remnant and call the nations who have never heard of his fame or glory to be called, “My People.”  They will be invited to great feast, to God’s Holy Mountain itself, and the shroud that covers them all, Death (Isaiah 25.8) will be lifted.  Jerusalem will “never again” be uprooted.  But, we see a process here.  “There will be a highway for the remnant” (11.15).  This highway is but the beginning (remnant) of what will become a massive flow in what will become Israel’s purpose to begin with: salvation of the world.

In that day shall there be a path from Egypt to Asshur, and Asshur shall come into Egypt, and Egypt into Asshur: so the Egyptians shall worship with Asshur.

 

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

 

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.

 

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.

These verses from Isaiah shows us that a highway is first leveled.  A call then goes forth.  From a remnant of Israel, the riches of the nations shall come in (how long does that take?).  They are coming to the mountain (Jerusalem above, as Paul called it) where God will swallow up the shroud over all the nations: Death.  The Spirit, before such time, will be poured out, gathering together the clusters of grapes.  As a result, after all is said and done, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples- of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

This passage is remarkably like Isaiah 65.17-ff.  The earth has been made full of the knowledge of the Lord (remember to contrast that with the nations and islands “who do not know of my glory or have heard of my fame”).

Secondly, Paul quotes Isaiah 11.10 in Romans 15.12!  The “banner” is lifted on the highway which leads those called to the holy mountain where Death will be swallowed up in victory.  The call is to the nations, the islands, to the ends of the earth.  “All those who have been given to me I shall raise up at the last day.”  This is the New Heavens and New Earth.

I will continue this theme in my next blog, and on Preston’s Response #6 which he already has published (May 31st).  Stay Tuned!