A key issue in understanding the timing of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and His redemptive work in fulfilling the Everlasting Covenant is the Bibleís explicit use of time statements. The modern "evangelical" world has insisted upon taking Godís precise time declarations and distorting them to fit a fleshly hope ( "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Philippians 3:19). Most professing Christians are so engrossed in an eschatological outlook that will take them out of their miserable world that they misunderstand the nature of the kingdom of God. They are so consumed with a world that will give them perfect physical peace and health, that they totally disregard not only the abundance of Scripture that explains the nature of the kingdom but also the very clear time references that pertain to the imminence of the kingdom of God. Consequently, for many, their only hope is in a physically realized future kingdom and god and not in the present riches of the glory of Christ.
If you have gone through any eschatological battles concerning the kingdom of God, you probably have been confronted with the difficulty of what seem to be very definitive time statements. When I was a premillennial dispensationalist, I was confronted more than once by postmillennial moderate preterists (These are futurists who believe that all or most of the book of Revelation pertained to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, with the exception of the majority of chapter twenty. Many great Reformers, such as John Owen, were moderate preterists.) Those who affirmed the verity of the time statements kept bringing me back to the same passages:
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
James 5:7-9 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
God saw my heart. He alone knew of my neglect and misuse of certain Scriptures. Even the unknown deception that existed in my heart (Jeremiah 17:9) He was always seeing. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13 cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4. He shows such incredible mercy toward His children. He has been faithful in abasing and scourging this son whom He has received.
If you have gone through the same experience or a similar experience, know that you are not alone. Regardless of our past or our present, we are responsible for giving an answer to every man that asks a reason for the hope that is in us. Moderate preterists are gravely inconsistent. Even in my own ignorance, I could see their inconsistency. In spite of this inconsistency, God has called us to accept what is true and discard the rest. In other words, once God shows you His Truth, get the spoil (the Truth) and run for your Life (Romans 16:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Timothy 1:13)!
THE COMING OF THE LORD DRAWETH NIGH
There are several Greek words used in the N.T. for the phrase "at hand." We will focus on some of these words as they pertain to the nearness of the kingdom of God. First, however, there are some comparisons that need to be made with other passages that are not related.
We first see the phrase at hand in the ministry of John the Baptist. It is very interesting to note that the first proclamation of any warning or salvation message that John preached was, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2. The phrase used here for at hand is the Greek word eggiken (angiken) and has the essential meaning of drawing near.
The futurist, of course, would argue from 2 Peter 3:8:
Luke 22:1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
Acts 22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come
nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great
light round about me.
Acts 23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
The phrase at hand (eggizo) concerning the Day of the Lord should stand very clear in terms of intention and meaning as we see in these next passages.
Romans 13:11-12 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
James 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be YE therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
We also must consider the fact that the apostles were promised of God that He would lead them into all truth. Many professing Christians claim that the apostles really thought Jesus Christ was going to return in their generation, but that the apostles were mistaken. Would this not mean that Jesus lied to them?
Not only were the apostles certain that the Lord was returning in their generation, but they also were obeying a strict command of our Lord: