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Hindsight Is 20/20 by John Miltenberger, December 2, 2017

hindsight-is-20-20.jpgRef: Matthew 24: (all); Acts 1:11

One of our God-given “rights” is the authority to have our own opinions, but difficulties sometimes arise when we fail to identify our opinions as such, and not necessarily facts. The written word of God is not opinion when it sets forth God’s thoughts. All of God’s opinions are facts, and unless human opinions coincide with His words, they fall short of being 100% factual.

With regard to biblical interpretations, there are many schools of…you guessed it, opinions. Bible commentaries, no matter how impressive they may seem, are educated attempts by well-educated men at making clear God’s words, while necessarily subject to human limits, human understanding and human opinions about what indeed, God meant when He said what He said.

I’ve tried to stay on firm ground so far in this piece, but now it gets diverse, and interesting. Enter the human mind, and every simple thing becomes complex. Often, such is the case with the interpretation of Scripture. Some years ago, a pastor friend of mine who valued biblical prophecy and taught on it frequently, came out with a blanket statement summing up all his learning by saying in so many words, “You will always understand biblical prophecy in hindsight.”

Some of my friends teach and write biblical interpretive opinions that I respectfully disagree with. I can say ‘respectfully’ because their opinions have not yet been necessarily tested by clear hindsight, and more importantly, they don’t alter or deep-six my salvation. As long as we can agree on who saved us, and what salvation is according to biblical standards, what they opine about the Book of Revelation frankly doesn’t bear much on my day. We are both in God’s family through our common covenant ratified by Jesus, and as far as I’m currently concerned, everything else, though interesting to debate, is to some extent, biblical background noise.

However, even though to me someone’s peripheral opinion about how to correctly interpret Holy Scripture may be of some intellectual interest, and often contains nuggets of truth I may benefit from, the expressed teachings may unnecessarily shake the faith of some new babes, who may not be as well-grounded as the person with the teaching. There is a very clear warning about how we should not create stumbling blocks for God’s kids, and sometimes (in my opinion), we track a bit too close to that line. We need to be careful that our freedoms don't become someone else’s bondages.

For me, one such ‘peripheral opinion’ is officially known as Preterism. Here is an interesting link that sheds light on what that is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterism. It is worth the read…all the way to the bottom. For the record, I am as yet, no Preterist, but as I haven’t seen the end of my journey I can't say for certain I never will be. But today, I definitely am not a Preterist.

In Matthew 24, according to the NASB Bible text, Jesus is asked three questions. He just told His disciples that the temple complex they so admired will be torn apart, and afterwards they ask Him, 1) when will these things (the destruction of the temple complex) happen, 2) what will be the sign of His return (second coming), and 3) what will be the sign of the ‘end of the age’? Some translations seem to break this discourse into two, not three questions, but in any event, there are more than one part to this seemingly simple question.

A very careful review of Jesus’ answer not only hints at a 70 A.D. fulfillment, but also a second advent considerably later than that date. It is obvious to me that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. does not fully satisfy Jesus’ answer to His disciples.

Acts 1:11 makes it pretty clear, I think, that when Jesus returns at His second coming, it will be a physical return, and puts a big hole in the bottom of the Preterist’s boat that His second coming happened in spirit in 70 A.D. Yes, judgment happened to Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and it was a horrible time for the Jews, but I can’t realistically think it fulfills the qualifications of the Great Tribulation described in the book of Revelation. Nor do I think that Nero was The Antichrist, although he certainly fell into that general classification – like Hitler, and others of note. Nero might have been depraved and demon-inspired, but he did not exterminate over six million Jews, and others like Hitler, Stalin for instance, far exceeded six million murders.

Yes, I think Jesus’ answer to His disciples prophetically addressed the destruction of that specific temple complex, but like many other prophets, He also went far beyond 70 A.D. with the rest of His answer. In fact, He answered the complex questions in great detail.

If I read Scripture to find justification for my favorite opinions, I can become blinded to any other options outside of them. Sure, like everyone else, I have my “pet” doctrines, but I know what I think I understand today may look vastly different tomorrow, and I often find that in several years, and with a little more spiritual maturity, my understanding may also mature, and change. It is after all, the Word of the living God.

In fact, the better I know God, and draw close to His heart, He gets bigger and better, and so does His Word, and I’ve learned to be wary of setting my peripheral beliefs in stone; it is stone I may have to later break up.

Prophetically, hindsight is 20/20, and all great men are – just men, and to anyone reading this I can say with certainty, in less than one hundred years we will all know all of the Truth.

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