Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The understanding of the Parousia by the first century saints.

 I would like to spend some time showing you why the first century saints really believed Jesus’  "Parousia, would happen in their lifetime.  There are many verses in the New Testament  that has been overlooked that show this.   Some of you have seen some of the things I will be posting  before and a lot of you have not. 

We as gentile members of the church, often read scripture, not know the historical background and culture behind what is being said.  We also have the tendency to read a verse or verses of scripture and completely overlook the important statements being made.    I would like to take some time to look at some of these verses and also explain to you the background behind what is being said.  We will never fully appreciate scripture until we understand how the people standing in the original audience understood the background and historical setting behind what was being said.

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul noted that many of the institutions and commands revealed under the Law of Moses were, “things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:17).   The same thrust is found in Hebrews 10:1 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things”.

The term “shadow” means, “A reflection, a phantom, a silhouette” (Barclay p. 88).  “A glimpse and shadow” (Rhm); “A mere outline and shadow” (Mof); “Only a pattern or reproduction” .  The words rendered “copy” and “shadow” are nearly synonymous and are like our English words “likeness, copy, and imitation”.

For example, the Levitical priesthood of Aaron in Leviticus 9 is obviously speaking of "the high priest in the Jewish religious system”.   The High Priest in the Jewish religion stood between a holy God and a sinful people and he was a “type and shadow” of Christ.   He represented the people before God.  "For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Hebrews 5:1).

Everyone of the Jewish High Priests sinned just like those whom they represented. They had to bring an offering for themselves and then for the people.   In Leviticus 9 7 we read, And Moses said to Aaron, "Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded."

By the sin offering did not end there.   The  congregation of Israel had “no idea” their sins had been forgiven until the High Priests came “out of the tabernacle” and blessed people by letting them know their sins had been forgiven for another year.    Leviticus 9: 1-22-23 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people blessed them, and came down from offering, the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people, Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.

Please note that the congregation of Israel had “no idea” their sins were forgiven until Aaron the High Priest came out of the tabernacle to bless the people.   No one dares to go into the tabernacle because they would surely die.   So they had to wait outside the tabernacle until the High Priests came “out of the tabernacle” and blessed them.

“Many of the Old Testament institutions were ‘types” or ‘previews of coming attractions’”  “A type is essentially a prefiguring of something future from itself.   It is a person, office, action, or event, by means of which some truth of the Gospel was divinely foreshadowed under the Old Testament dispensations.   There must be some notable point of resemblance between the type and antitype or the shadow and the substance.

The author of Hebrews introduced the Priesthood of Jesus Christ in Hebrews.  Now he begins his development of the central theme of Jesus' High Priesthood in detail.   Jesus is superior to Aaron and the Levitical priesthood.  The writer of Hebrews  tells his Jewish reader.   For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; (Hebrew 9:24)   

Just as Aaron appeared before the Shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence in the earthly tabernacle, so Christ appears before God himself in our behalf in heaven.       But now let go on to another verse were the author of Hebrews makes another interesting statement.  Hebrews 9:27-28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.     Just as Aaron had to “come out” of the tabernacle and bless the people so did Christ to those why were waiting for him.

The writer of Hebrews is telling the Jewish saint that Christ was fulfilling all the type and shadow of Leviticus 9. The High Priest offered a sin offering by going into the tabernacle. Then he reappeared out of the tabernacle, to let the people know their sins had been forgiven.

Every Jewish Christian understood the Priest Hood of Christ was simply a fulfillment of  the types and shadows if the earthly High Priesthood.   There is no distinction in Hebrews between  Christ first going into heaven to bear the sins of many and his reappearance with salvation.  The language used in Leviticus 9: 1-22-23 and Hebrew 9:24;28 closely connects the “ “shadow” and “substance” to gather.   Just as Aaron did not take over a thousand of years of coming out of the tabernacle neither did Christ.   That is not a biblical idea that can be supported by the author of Hebrews.

The saints never had a concept of a long distinction between appearing "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. (Hebrews 10:37)   They saw one short fulfillment period with two phases to it; a suffering humiliation phase to bear the sins of many and a victorious consummation phase apart from sin for salvation.