This teaching will have more detail than the first post on this subject called “Biblical Eschatology” because that was a foundational post, this will have more information on this all important subject. Biblical Eschatology is defined as the study of the Messiah and the Redemption. If you do not understand Biblical Eschatology, you will not fully understand the Messiah and the Redemption. These concepts start in the book of Genesis and go all the way through to Revelation. Eschatology is seen from six reference points: historical; Messiah and his first coming; Messiah and his second coming; the Birth-pains; the Day of the Lord and the Olam Haba (World to come). This subject is studied within the context of the festivals and the Temple. The entire Tanach teaches the coming of the Messiah.
There are concepts that you need to understand when getting into this subject. You cannot look at the Scriptures on one level, but four. These levels are the Peshat (literal); Remez (hint/allegory); Drash (explore, ask , parabolic) and Sowd (hidden, mystical). A “contradiction” is not seen as such because something can be seen on several levels. History must be seen as unfulfilled prophecy, and prophecy as unfulfilled history (Ecc 1.9, 3.15; Rom 15.4). There is another concept called “here now, but not yet” and this concept comes from Num 14.17 and Isa 52-53 when you look at the tenses in these two chapters. We have a teaching on this website called “I see him, but not now” that deals with this concept. Another thing to remember is a prophecy is not limited in time, but can have numerous fulfillments.
Biblical Eschatology is referred to in three terms, and these terms can be found in the Scriptures. The first term we need to know and understand is the “Acharit Yamin” or the “Last Days” (Gen 49.1). You will see a similar phrase “in those days” or “in that day” and it is referring to the Day of the Lord (Isa 2.2; Micah 4.1). Another term is called the “Ik’vot Mashiach” which means the “footsteps of the Messiah” (Psa 89.50-51). This term refers to the eschatological suffering of the Messiah in a basic sense, or Mashiach Ben Joseph. This was an eschatological title for the Messiah, along with Mashiach Ben David. The Rabbi’s saw from the Scriptures that there may be two, possibly three “messiah’s” that would come because of what they were seeing. They saw a suffering servant (Isa 40-55) like Joseph, but they also saw a conquering king like David. There are also passages that refer to a “Mashiach Kohen” or priest messiah (Isa 63; Zech 6), and possibly a fourth messiah figure who is called the “Leper Messiah” by the rabbi’s. The third term is called the “Chevlai Shell Mashiach” or the “birth-pains of the Messiah” (Matt 24.8; Jer 30 6-8).
If you go to a Christian bookstore and ask for a book on eschatology, you will get a book on the second coming of Christ. There is a “disconnect” between what the Scriptures teach and what has happened in Christianity, and here’s why. In Acts 11.1-18 we can read about what Peter said about non-Jewish people becoming believers. In Acts 15.6 we see the Jewish believers getting together for a council. This would be the Sanhedrin, or beit din, of the believers. Each sect in the first century had their own courts. James (real name is Ya’akov, or Jacob) is the “nasi” or “Rosh Knesset” (president) of this court. Acts 21.15-18 we see another beit din gathered to discuss what Paul had been doing. This beit din consisted of a board of Zekenim (elders) and a Rosh Knesset (Nasi). He is the spokesman who does not rule over them, but with them. Acts 11.18 says that after hearing what Peter had to say about how the Lord saved Cornelius before he became a Jew, they changed their doctrine.
The prevailing view at the time was that a non-Jew had to embark on a path to becoming a Jew in order to have a place in the Kingdom of God. The Shaliachim (apostles, “sent ones”) believed this was true after Yeshua ascended into heaven. When he tells them to go out into the world and make talmudim out of the non-Jews, they thought that they had to go out and make a Jew out of the non-Jew. The story of Cornelius in Acts 10, and Peters explanation of what happened, changed all that (Acts 11.18). Now they had a major problem on their hands.
Cornelius was a Roman soldier stationed in Caesarea. He was a Phoubemenoi, or God-fearer, which is a designated term in the synagogue for a non-Jew who believed in the God of Israel and was on the path to becoming a Jew through ritual circumcision. He was being taught the Torah, the festivals, the clean and unclean and ate kosher. He had the tools for understanding the Ik’vot Mashiach, the Acharit Yamin and the Chevlai Shell Mashiach. However, he was not circumcised yet (become a Jew) but was on the track. Then something happened. Peter was sent by the Lord to talk to Cornelius, and he was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit before he became a Jew. This was against the halacha at the time for dealing with non-Jews. They believed that a non-Jew had to become Jewish (and properly taught) to have a place in the Kingdom of God. With Cornelius being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit just like Peter and the others were in Acts 2, this doctrine was clearly in error. After telling the story in Acts 11, the brethren realized they had to change in their doctrine (Acts 11.18).
Lydia in Acts 16 was also a phoubemenoi, but called a “sebemenoi” in Greek, which is the same thing. It means “devout.” She became a believer before she became a “Jew” just like Cornelius. Now that they know that pagan, non-Jewish, Hellenistic can become a believer “overnight” they realized this could cause a problem, and it became a major issue. Some would not have the full back-round to understand the Jewish mindset and what was going on. The phoubemenoi were being taught and would understand down the road, but that is not the case anymore. Jewish believers were going to have to send some people out to the non-Jew. The people that were going to be sent out needed to be “chachamim” or “wise men, sages” in the Scriptures. They needed to be knowledgeable in the Scriptures in every way, even more than a zekan (elder) in a synagogue, a real serious scholar. Paul was probably the best qualified man in the first century to do this. In actuality, he was probably the best scholar of all time. He was sent to the non-Jew because he was the best qualified. That was no mistake. The Lord had prepared him for this task all his life.
We would have a hard time having such a meeting that we see in Acts 11 and 15 these days. Back then, they could identify what was pagan and what wasn’t, but that is not the case today. But, the problems of the first century are the problems of the twenty-first century, but we don’t have the teaching. Replacement Theology has taken its place. In the first century, these non-Jews spoke Greek. When they read the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) they had different concepts in their Greek minds for Hebraic concepts. For instance, the Greek would come to the concept of salvation in the LXX. But the Greek concept of salvation was different than the Hebraic one, and if not corrected, this error would permeate his beliefs. John 4.21-22 talks about the Samaritan woman who is confronted by Yeshua. Yeshua says that “Salvation (or the understanding of it) is of the Jews (they had the right concept).” Now, the Samaritans had the word “salvation” but they obviously did not have the Jewish concept and had some misunderstanding about it. Question: The concept of salvation that Yeshua presented was unknown to the Jews? True or false? The correct answer is “false.” Many teach the wrong concept and you can find it in many books.
The men in this meeting in the first century had to get the correct concepts out to the new believers in Ephesus, for instance. They believers in Ephesus needed to have the same concept that the believers in Jerusalem had. How do they get all the pagan concepts out of their understanding and beliefs? The answer is that these non-Jews needed to become a “talmid” or a serious student. They must have an understanding of the Jewish concepts concerning what is found in Hebrews 6.1-2 (Teshuvah, Emunah, Tevilah, Semichah, Techiyah and Mishapt). Most believers today could not explain these foundational truths, or what they understood about them is incorrect. Rom 9.4 talks about the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the service, the promises and the fathers. All of these needed to be understood by the non-Jews and they needed to be taught by someone who knew what they were doing.
In Part 2 we will pick up here and give a basic definition for the above concepts in Heb 6 and Rom 9. Test yourself to see if you have the correct understanding. If you don’t, then ask yourself why. It will be a perfect example of not having the correct teachers who had the chachmah of God since you became a believer. Just like in Ephesus, the believer in the twenty-first century in Dallas, Texas or Chicago, Illinois need the same understanding of the concepts that the believer in Jerusalem had in the first century, and they need a teacher.
After we get done dealing with these definitions, we will begin to talk about the Hebraic concept of time in eschatology.