Is Jesus promise to “come quickly” in Revelation a “Failed Prophecy?”

coming_again.jpg The Apocalypse or Revelation is written in apocalyptic language which is purposely unclear. We can gain some “large picture” information (in the context of the Roman Empire, God’s people and God’s way will be triumphant and, by extension, under any repressive regime) but, historically, the rest is guesswork. Do I understand Revelation? Not very well, but I’m working on it.

As for “the end of the world,” what Jesus seems to emphasize is that any coming (in judgment or otherwise) will be very quick, like a flash of lightning (Matthew 24:27).

Revelation 3:11 22:7, 12, 20 all use the Greek word, tachu which means “quickly, speedily (without delay)”. The tenor of Revelation is judgment that is soon to come (1:1; 22:6). It is correct to say that “soon” would not be thousands of years later. The judgment upon Jerusalem (Matthew 24 et al.) was going to happen soon. The judgment upon Rome (the apparent target) was going to happen soon and did. It would not make sense then to apply passages in Revelation to thousands of years hence. A good portion of the religious world seeks to make Revelation refer to sometime in the future and the second coming of Christ and the end of time. The context does not seem to support such a view.

There are, however, other passages that teach the return of Christ and the end of the world (2 Peter 3) and emphasize the fact that it may be a long time coming. Peter is saying that God, dwelling in eternity, is not held hostage to time.

In Psalm 110:1 the Messiah is exalted to the Father’s right hand UNTIL all his enemies have been conquered, the last of which is death (see 1 Corinthians 15:23-27 which quotes Psalm 110). Early Christian preaching/writing explained what even believing Jews did not, at first, understand. As Edward Fudge pointed out to me, “Peter explains in the end of his remarks found at the close of Acts 3, that according to God’s plan, heaven has received Jesus the Messiah UNTIL the time for the restoration of all things.”

To sum up, there is a sense in which Jesus will quickly come in judgment against His enemies and a sense in which He will come when His enemies have been conquered. We’d best be ready for any eventuality.

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10 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Jesus Christ, Prophecy, Rapture, Religion

10 responses to “Is Jesus promise to “come quickly” in Revelation a “Failed Prophecy?”

  1. Yeah we just came across this in a Wednesday Bible class. I think it is so interesting how so many Christians use Matthew 24 as proof that we are close to the end times (“Revelation”ary speaking), yet Jesus is very clear at the beginning and end of his dialogue that what he is talking about is coming very soon.

    Matt. 24:34-35
    “I tell you the truth, THIS GENERATION will not pass away until ALL these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will NEVER pass away.”

    When we hang on to the idea that Jesus was talking about his thousand year reign, thousands of years into the future, I think we are trying to make his words “pass away.”

  2. Terry Pickles

    An interesting article.
    Didn’t Jesus defeat death when he rose from the grave? If so, why are we still waiting for him to defeat death? How many times does he have to defeat death?

  3. Hey Dwight. Why would the writer of Revelation write something that was “purposely unclear”? What was the purpose of the lack of clarity? Obfuscation? Is so, why obfuscate? So that we peons, 2000 years later, could have something to disagree about? Makes no sense to me. Why not write clerarly and lucidly, if you are trying to impart knowledge to the reader. Is it something about biblical writers that they like to be confusing?

    An inquiring atheist would like to know.

  4. dwhitsett

    Hispanic Inquisitor,

    Obfuscation was indeed the object but not to the extent that the message would be completely hidden. John, exiled to Patmos, was conveying the encouragement of Christ to the beleaguered disciples suffering under the rule of Rome. His revelation of Jesus’ words would be viewed as seditious to say the least. Clear and lucid language might stop the dispersal of this message dead in its tracks. So, it was written in a kind of code: apocalyptic language. It was a code that anyone, particularly the Jews, in a given congregation could translate since they were familiar with books of prophecy such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Joel. These writings were, all or in part, written at a time of oppression.

    Ray Summers explained as follows: “The personal safety of both writer and reader was endangered if the persecutors understood the true meaning of the book. For this reason the message of the apocalypse was written so as to conceal and to reveal—to conceal the message from the outsider but to reveal its message to the initiated” (Summers, Ray. 1951. Worthy Is The Lamb, Nashville: Broadman, p. 5).

  5. dwhitsett

    Terry,
    I Corinthians 15:20-26.

  6. Sonia Vasquez

    Dear sir,

    I had you marked as a proclaimed christian I could who I could read as the loyal opposition. I could learn to be more tolerant and to understand “decent” christians.

    In light of several recent(?) posts specifically, “rise up and fight?” (You want to /fight/ me? How so? Do you just want me to shut up… or maybe, just be gone? Forever? Like, what… dead? Dead and vanished into the your fiery pits of hell for eternity?) I certainly don’t want to fight you, I think you’re wrong, but I think that about my neighbor and his mint “plants” (weeds!). Still, violence begets violence, and you don’t seem to want to talk anymore.

    Fair enough. I guess I’m woman enough to admit I was wrong about you, your site, and apparently, your intentions. It makes me feel a bit sad, which I why I am writing this.

    I wish you well.

    Sonia Vasquez, atheist.

  7. dwhitsett

    Dear Ms. Vasquez,
    Either I did a lousy job of making my point or you have missed my point. I don’t want to physically fight anybody or engage in any kind of violence. I was simply trying to say, however poorly, that Christians need to engage atheism in civil debate. The “fight” is purely rhetorical in that we are engaged in a contest. I have several atheist friends that understand that.
    I think if you’ll read that particular post again you will see that I am talking mainly to Christians who are content to hide in their church buildings instead of engaging in the defense of their faith. I think I am far softer in my approach than Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Hitchens in theirs.
    I do want to talk, and if you would like to contribute to the conversation then please feel free. I lead a busy life but will try to respond as time permits.
    Respectfully yours,
    Dwight

  8. Sonia Vasquez

    Dear Sir.

    I understood. I can grasp metaphor. I exaggerated to make a point, as I perceived you had. And my point was, at a glance, it only looks like more -beg pardon- shit stirring. Words picked for no other purpose than a rallying cry “To arms! To battle!” Why these and no others if the purpose is an exchange of words or ideas?

    However, for me, there was and is nothing to debate. What would we “discuss” after all? My wrongness or yours? I don’t wish conversation or conversion. I think what I think and I believe I am through with argument for argument’s sake.

    Because, I am weary, sir. Weary of the barrage of certain presumptuous persons who take it upon themselves to tell me the will of their god and the nature of my so-called soul. I am done with the “fight” for whatever the “fight” is for.

    Nonetheless, for venting my frustration upon you, I apologize. Offending you was not my intent.

    I wish you well.

    Sonia Vasquez

  9. dwhitsett

    Dear Ms. Vasquez,
    No apology needed. You have certainly not offended me. At the same time, I hope you are not including me among the “certain presumptuous persons,” since you came to my blog of your own accord. Certainly if our mind is closed to further thinking, discussion is fruitless. Thank you for wishing me well and I wish the same for you. If I can be of service to you in future, please feel free to contact me.

  10. Hi

    Please don’t mind. This might interest you.

    The SecondComing of Jesus has already happened in the form of the PromisedMessiah 1835-1908 fullfilling the signs as prophesised by Jesus and Muhammad. In my opinion, the Christians, Muslims and Jews should accept him.

    Kindly visit my blog for interesting posts in this connection for your peaceful comments and or discussions on the pages/posts there. Differing opnion are also welcome.

    Thanks

    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

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