Part I of this series defined the spirits we are to test as the words of men, the teachings and doctrines of men. The only way to do this is to stand them against the word of God. The testing and proving process involves carefully examining God’s words.
As many of the English (and other) translations have read into the texts some of the biases and presuppositions of the translators, we need to double and triple check the verses in a few of the different translations . The best way I have found to do this is to begin with the KJV, and then go to Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) which is basically a dictionary translation of the Hebrew and Greek words. I may also check the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) as it reveals some of the Hebrew understanding of the OT, and still other times I have compared one verse against all of the available translations at Biblegateway.com.
The next step is to check the Interlinear for definitions of key words in the Hebrew and Greek. Some of our biases come from assuming today’s common meanings of words which may not be very common at all from the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures. People have a habit of changing how they use words over time, and many words have become twisted or distorted from the original usage of even 100 or 200 years ago, and much more from 2,000 years ago.
The final step of the testing and proving process is to keep the scripture in the context in which God is speaking. In other words, stay with the subject matter. Who was God speaking to, when was He speaking, and what was it about. This is the first audience perspective. So, we begin.
One of the presuppositions about the Bible that is very prevalently taught in today’s institutional churches is the concept that “the end” spoken of in the scriptures means the end of time, and the end of the physical cosmos. We need to test this idea by examining God’s word to see what He says about “the end.” From the beginning in Genesis –
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Gen. 6:13, KJV)
“And God said to Noah, `An end of all flesh hath come before Me, for the earth hath been full of violence from their presence; and lo, I am destroying them with the earth.” (Gen. 6:13, YLT)
“God said to Noach, “The end of all living beings has come before me, for because of them the earth is filled with violence. I will destroy them along with the earth.“ (Gen 6:13, CJB)
“And said God to Noah ‘the end of all flesh has come before Me for is filled the earth with violence through them – now behold I will destroy them with the earth” (Interlinear)
The word “end” is Strong’s Heb. 7093 “qets” and is defined in Brown-Driver-Briggs (BDB) as end of time, or end of space. It is translated as after, course, end, endless, farthest, farthest border, goal, highest peak, interval, later, and limit. (Source: https://biblehub.com/hebrew/7093.htm)
Now that we have the definition of “end,” we have to determine which end, “the” specific end. We have compared three of the translations, so we have still to put it in context – Noah’s flood.
The end of all flesh, as they had reached their limit of corruption and of God’s patience.
“ 12God saw the earth, and, yes, it was corrupt; for all living beings had corrupted their ways on the earth….
17 “Then I myself will bring the flood of water over the earth to destroy from under heaven every living thing that breathes; everything on earth will be destroyed. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; you will come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen. 6:12..17,18, CJB)
We know this account. The sins of the people had become so corrupt that God could only find one man worth saving – Noah.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:9, KJV)
“In his generation, Noach was a man righteous and wholehearted; Noach walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9, CJB)
In the context of this event, “the end” was the destruction of every living being that breathed, except Noah and his family. All the rest of the living died in the flood. It was the end of their natural lives, the limit of the time they were allowed on the earth. Not the end of all time, but the end of their time.
The destruction of the earth did not mean that God removed the earth, as Noah and his family still had an earth to walk upon once the flood waters had receded. So, destroying the earth was not an end of the physical earth, nor was it an end of time. The face of the earth changed as mountains were raised and valleys created. The waters receded into oceans and seas.
God made a covenant with Noah so that life and mankind would continue for His plan of salvation. Noah became “heir of the righteousness which is of faith” (Heb. 11:7) By his actions, through his faith Noah was a preacher of righteousness to the rest of mankind throughout the generations that have followed (2 Pet. 2:5).
The covenant God made with Noah was given a sign – the rainbow.
“Here is the sign of the covenant I am making between myself and you and every living creature with you, for all generations to come: 13 I am putting my rainbow in the cloud — it will be there as a sign of the covenant between myself and the earth.… 16 The rainbow will be in the cloud; so that when I look at it, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of any kind on the earth.” (Gen 9:12, 16, CJB)
“… “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, since the imaginings of a person’s heart are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy all living things, as I have done. 22 So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” (Gen. 8:21-22, CJB)
Thereafter, the judgments God pronounced for “the end” were all national judgments, national / tribal destructions of wicked people. And the rainbow was the sign, the reminder that He remembered His covenant with Noah.
Ezekiel’s prophesy concerning the first destruction of Jerusalem –
“I looked and saw a windy storm approaching from the north and a huge cloud with flashing fire… 28 This brilliance around him looked like a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day. This was how the appearance of the glory of Adonai looked. (Ezek 1:4, 28, CJB)
God rides in the clouds. They are His chariots (Job 22:14; Psa. 104:3). His strength is in the clouds (Psa. 68:34). The clouds are the dust of His feet (Nah. 1:3). His coming in the clouds was the judgment language of the prophesies, telling the people they would feel His presence and see His judgments.
That Ezekiel saw the rainbow in the cloud meant the vision was of a limited, regional, national judgment, and not pronounced upon the entire earth.
John’s vision of the second destruction of Jerusalem –
“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” (Rev. 4:3, KJV)
God’s word does not support the idea that there is an end of time destruction coming, nor an end to the physical cosmos He created for mankind. A search of the rest of the scriptures for “the end” finds such as these –
Ex. 12:41 – the end of 430 years
Ex. 23:16 – the end of the year
Ex. 37:8 – one cherub on the end on this side
Num. 6:5 – the end of the time for which he has consecrated himself
Num. 34:3 – the end of the dead sea
Deu. 8:16 – while humbling and testing you to do you good in the end
Deu. 11:12 – the end of the year
Deu. 14:28 – the end of three years
2 Sam. 15:7 – the end of forty years
Isa. 24:13 – the end of the harvest
Isa. 62:11 – the end of the earth
Jer. 5:31 – but what will you do at the end of it all
But, the judgments of the prophesies were upon a specific nation, or land region.
“And there is a word of Jehovah unto me, saying, `And thou, son of man, Thus said the Lord Jehovah to the ground of Israel: 2 An end, come hath the end on the four corners of the land.“ (Ezek. 7:2, YLT)
The four corners of the land was the borders of Israel, the ground and land of Israel also called at various times “the earth,” or “the pleasant land.” The national judgments pronounced destruction upon the “earth” of that land region. The word “earth” in the prophesies was directed at a specific nation, not the entire earth.
“…. The end is come upon my people of Israel; (Amos 8:2, KJV)
Setting each one of the prophesies in context we have to always ask, “the end of what?” And, each time the search back through the verses of each prophesy shows a specific nation or region of the earth is named.
The end spoken of throughout the prophesies of Daniel 9 – 12 is the end of the desolations of “thy people and thy holy city“, Daniel’s people and Daniel’s holy city – Jerusalem (Dan. 9:24).
The end spoken of in the gospels – the end of the age, sometimes mistranslated as “world” is again limited to the “earth” of the land region of Judea and the end of the Mosaic covenant.
The Olivet discourse in the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke ties “the end” to the fall of the temple.
“`Tell us, when shall these be? and what [is] the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?'” (Matt. 24:3, YLT)
The disciples knew that the fall of the temple was the end of that age. And, each “end” spoken of thereafter by Christ was linked to the events of that prophesy and referenced the fall of the temple in Jerusalem.
John’s Olivet discourse, which is the entire book of Revelation shows us again the rainbow which was the sign to them that the judgment was limited to a nation, and specifically the nation of Judea, and that great city Jerusalem where our Lord was crucified (Rev. 11:8).
Christ warned them throughout His ministry.
37 `Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that art killing the prophets, and stoning those sent unto thee, how often did I will to gather thy children together, as a hen doth gather her own chickens under the wings, and ye did not will. 38 Lo, left desolate to you is your house;” (Matt. 23:37-38, YLT)
Desolate, destruction, judgment. The end of the Mosaic covenant; the end of the sacrificial temple in Jerusalem; the end of the age.
Almost two thousand years have passed since that temple fell to the Romans in AD 70. Time has continued on. Life has continued on. People are born, and people die. The earth is still here. And, as Jesus’ kingdom is an everlasting kingdom without end (Eph. 3-21) then the Bible does not discuss an end to all time.
The presumption that the Bible teaches an end-of-time, world-wide destruction is false. It is not found anywhere in the scriptures.