There is only one verse in the Bible that carries the word "scoffers" and it is found in II Peter 3:3. This is an interesting section of Scripture that provides the remnant believer with some crucial information concerning how to combat the false doctrines that are `flooding the temple' even as I write these words. This often cited passage refers to people living in the last days that will scoff at the expectation of an impending return of Jesus Christ:
"....there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up." (II Peter 3:3, 4, 10)
These extraordinary verses wreak havoc on two of the primary false doctrines that are presently leavening the church in these perilous times. Indeed, this chapter from the famous fisherman contradicts the two-sided coin of false prophetic expectation that is found in preterism and it's theological cousin the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine.
Although preterists (those that teach the tribulation happened in 70 AD) chafe at the idea of any relationship between their doctrine and the rapturists (and vice versa), the two doctrines are actually closely related. They both agree that the church misses the tribulation, they both characterize the final empire as the Roman (the original and the so-called "revived" Roman empire respectively) and they are both inextricably committed to a union with the state through licensing and a politically expedient symbiotic relationship with the beast government.
The truth is, the "gospel" that is found in these two fraternal twins is thoroughly false - and Peter destroys them both in this single chapter. Both systems inexorably lead to the Antichrist order, and both are the epitome of the dialectically inspired system of managed spiritual opposition. In the end, they will meet in the middle and embrace the Beast of Babylon.
While the preterists love to quote verses that seem to show the New Testament writers taught that they were in the last days at that time, they almost universally avoid verse 3 of chapter 3 in II Peter. The reason is obvious, for the tense "there shall come" plainly demonstrates that Peter projects this `scoffing' to occur in the future - at a time he bluntly states will be "the last days."
This point cannot be understated. While it is readily apparent that scoffers have existed since the time of Noah, the specific taunt that is provided here is unique to preterism. Peter tells us they will say "where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (II Peter 3:4) The fact that the scoffers refer to "the fathers" is indicative of their awareness of the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
While it may be argued that Peter actually foresaw the Christian era church "fathers" in his prophetic utterance, the point is academic for it is clear the scoffers are religious. Atheists don't speak about the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel - so-called "believers" do. Furthermore, the verse then states these scoffers will assert that things have never changed since the time of "the creation." Again, Darwinists never refer to the creation - religious people do. When the verse says "all things continue," we recognize the core of amillennialism and other forms of non-literal exegesis of prophecy. The fascinating thing is how poignantly Peter provides us with the antidote for the poison of preterism. In response to the concept that all the known prophecy concerning universal devastation in the last days must somehow be a just a way of expressing an inner reality, he immediately globalizes the issue and equates it with a Biblical catastrophism that is described in the most physical terminology possible.
Peter succinctly refers to Noah and reminds his reader how "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." ( II Peter 3:6) Thus, if we believe the Genesis account, "...all flesh died that moved upon the earth...all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died." (Genesis 7:21, 22) Although many try to turn numerous passages of this nature into a local event, these verses are coherent and compelling: the flood killed the whole world.
Peter then goes on to warn that the entire world is scheduled to be destroyed again "by the same word" (II Peter 3:7) that brought about the previous devastation. With this pointed statement, the Apostle is categorically predicting that since the Lord destroyed the entire world previously, it is not inconsistent to believe that he will keep his word and do it again - but this time it will be brought about by "fire" that God has "reserved" for the day of judgment. In fact, the entire point of the statement is that "in the last days" wicked religionists will scoff at the idea of tribulational events that are destined to culminate in a final global reckoning of "fire...in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat...." (II Peter 3:7, 10)
The incredible thing here is that the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Peter, is telling the remnant that the primary defense against the preterist apostasy is in recognizing the truth of Biblical catastrophism. In my previous work on the subject, I noted how preterists commonly conceal the fact that they must treat even Old Testament accounts of cataclysms in a symbolic fashion. Indeed, because Jesus compared the events of His second advent to the global flood of Noah as well as what appears to be the hemispheric devastation associated with the incineration of the cities of the plains (most notably Sodom and Gommorah), preterists are usually forced to relegate Noah's flood to a mere local event.
As a case in point, a prominent preterist named John L Bray refers to the Sodom and Gommorah passage where the Lord Himself says "I will go down now, and see whether they have dome altogether according to the cry of it." (Genesis 18:21. The reader will remember this is the famous passage where Abraham sees "three men" that are apparently a manifestation of "the angel of the Lord" on their way to Sodom to destroy the place.
Yet Bray (and other preterists) goes on to say that this action where the Lord says He will be directly involved in such things is not to be taken literally - as he assumes this to be "highly symbolic language." (Matthew 24 fulfilled, J L Bray, page 176) Continuing this line of reasoning, Bray goes on to say that when the prophet Micah refers to the Lord saying "...the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire..." that such Old Testament scripture must be just a figure of speech.
Yet I am aware of a mountain in the Middle East called Jabal Al-Laws that archaeologists say is the mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments, and that mountain is completely (and inexplicably) burned - just as the text says it was. I am also aware of a massive geological formation known as "the great rift" - an enormous intercontinental rupture in the ground evidencing an ancient devastation of incomprehensible power that runs right through the place where Sodom and Gommorah once practiced their insidious iniquity.
Bray and the apostates called preterists can't seem to muster enough faith to believe that God actually does what he says. Like all the others caught in the same web of intellectual deceit, John L Bray continually seeks to allegorize Old Testament accounts of the Lord's direct intervention as a way to show why they believe that Jesus does the same thing whenever He predicts spectacular events - catastrophic future events such as the time when "the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light." (Matthew 24:29)
A good example of this attempted scriptural distortion is found in a preterist book called Matthew 24 Fulfilled. In this undiscerning work, Baptist pastor Bray coolly informs us that when God promises to Moses concerning the Israelites "I am come down to deliver them" (Exodus 3:8), He doesn't mean that He will literally be present. Yet my Bible has convinced me that God said "I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn...." (Exodus 12:11) The whole episode is in the first person, for to Israel, God says that "...when I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Exodus 12:13)
Is not this pattern of questioning the Lord's clear and concise statements very reminiscent of the tactic of the serpent in the garden when he asked the unsuspecting Eve "yea, hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)
Just like his spiritual father with the age old questioning of the veracity of the word of God, preterist Bray also asks "Why should Jesus not have used symbolical language like this from the Old Testament to describe events at the destruction of Jerusalem, etc?" (Matt 24 Fulfilled, page 176)
And virtually all of the preterists commit the same offense. To put this issue into proper focus, let me re-iterate. Because the preterists do not believe in the literal catastrophic intervention of the Lord in the Old Testament accounts, they seek to use that assumption as a precedent for allegorizing similar prophecies in the New Testament. Once again, to put this into the framework of the statements in II Peter, a paraphrased preterist may be heard to say `if God didn't literally (and personally) drown the whole earth in the time of Noah, why should we believe he will literally burn up the whole earth in the modern era?'
This is precisely what Peter is addressing when he says "in the last days scoffers" will seek to deny the truth of God's intervention in the affairs of men - instead seeking to claim that the accounts recorded for us speak of some inner truth that cannot be taken as evidence that the end of the world will ever arrive.
The truth is, Peter prophesied that God will indeed intervene, and thus condemn those that wrest the scriptures "unto their own destruction." (II Peter 3:16. He concludes his defense of the inevitability of these prophesied things when he cautions the remnant believers that "seeing ye know these things before, [again showing the futuricity of the last days and the arrival of the scoffers] beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." (II Peter 3:17)
September 2, 2002 - James Lloyd
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