Category Archives: Prophecy

Rare Lectures from David Chilton: “The Days of Vengeance” (An Exposition of the Book of Revelation)

Rev. David H. ChiltonHere is a real treat.  A series of lectures on the Book of Revelation given by Rev. David Chilton several years before he died.  He died in 1997.  I’m not exactly sure when these were recorded. Probably in the late 1980s.

The series is in eight parts.  In the first part, Chilton introduces the Book of Revelation.  He does it as only David Chilton can.  With his masterful understanding of biblical symbolism and prophetic themes from Genesis through Revelation, coupled with his manic, southern-California style and sense of humor–you haven’t heard a prophecy teacher like this before!

(Examples: Jonah’s prophecy to Nineveh: “Bambi Meets Godzilla.”  Disobedience to God’s commands meant that, of a surety, you were in deep guacamole; the New Jerusalem is NOT a “space station” hovering over planet earth; etc.)

The Revelation of. . . Jesus Christ

The main point Chilton makes in part 1 is this:  the prophecies of the Bible — including those in Revelation — are not pure prediction in the “Jeanne Dixon” sense of the word.  They’re not a display of God’s foretelling prowess. They are covenantal and they are ethical.  They’re God’s judgments pronounced infallibly through His prosecuting attorneys, His prophets. And the main thing that is revealed in the book is, . . . JESUS CHRIST.

Chilton advocates for reading the Book of Revelation as though it were a part of the Bible, and not, as many do, as a separate work of “science fiction.”

Let that sink in.  Read the Book of Revelation as though it were a part of the Bible.

In other words, let all of the rest of Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, be your guide to interpreting this last book of the Bible.  Stop decoupling it from the other 65 books!  That is the key to understanding it.  It will help you to avoid the trap of “headline hermeneutics.”

His commentary on Revelation, The Days of Vengeance, is probably the best expository work on that book.  I’ve written about it here.

I love these lectures.  The comedic confidence exuded by Chilton in this series will ensure that you will not fall asleep during his free-wheeling expository, exegetical and rhetorical bull ride.  Let the rodeo begin. Yee-haw!

Enjoy the lectures.

Here is Part One:

For a little bit more info on who David Chilton was, here is an article.

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A Refreshingly Optimistic Guide to Understanding Biblical Symbolism, Imagery and Prophecy (and Just READING the Bible): Paradise Restored

If you have never read anything by David Chilton, and you only wanted to buy and read one of his books, Paradise Restored would be the one to get.

Of course, after you’ve read Paradise Restored, you WILL want to buy and read his other books!

David Chilton was an extraordinarily gifted writer.  I say was because he passed away in 1997.  And I say extraordinarily gifted because his writing warrants that.  It is everything I would want my own writing to be–interesting, informative, innovative, insightful,… I ran out of “i” words.  Too much Reconstructionist writing is geared to the upper eschelons of Christian scholars and academics and intellectuals.  Not that that is a bad thing.  Except that this leaves the rest of us a little cold when we’re trying desperately to warm up to the incredibly powerful (interesting, informative, insightful, though not, in my opinion, biblically speaking, innovative) ideas of Christian Reconstruction.

Chilton never had that problem.  Gary North says this in his Foreword to the book:

If someone were to ask me, “What is the best presentation of biblical eschatology that you have ever read?” I would answer, “Chilton’s Paradise Restored.” If someone else were to ask me, “What is the best example of biblical expository style that you have ever read?” I would say, “Chilton’s Paradise Restored.”…

Paradise Restored is unique for its combining of clarity, precision of exposition, and text-connection. I do not recall reading any theological treatise that matches it for its combination of these three virtues….

Rare is a theological treatise that is a page-turner.  This one is.

To which Gary adds,

David Chilton (1951-1997) was the most gifted writer I have ever worked with.

Well.  Now that we’ve established that the man could write, let’s take a look at what he wrote in Paradise Restored.

I think what I will do first is give you a sort of “survey” of the book.  A bird’s eye view.  An initial fly-over.  And then, perhaps in another post, I will turn around, swoop down a little lower and take a closer look.   The edition I am working with is the 2007 hardcover edition published by Dominion Press (same pagination and formatting as the original 1985 and in subsequent printings).  It is a beautiful book, with a gorgeously designed cover, and 300+ pages of clear, very easy to read type. (“Very easy to read” because of the font and size and also because Chilton’s prose is as crystal clear as the water in the cover photo!)

PARADIGM RESTORED

Don’t let the title–or the subtitle–fool you.  This is not a dense, ponderous tome filled with obtuse, other-worldly or even utopian language.  It is a rock-solid, intellectually pulsating, tightly-focused, vibrant little book,   And it challenges probably every single evangelical Christian (and let’s not leave out Reformed, Protestant and even Roman Catholic!) myth and misconception that there is out there regarding Biblical symbolism, apocalyptic imagery, prophecy and eschatology.  But, again, these are not the wild, theological musings of a disconnected scholar.  This is an extremely down-to-earth, warm and affectionate, albeit unconventional treatment of the subject–which is why I think, perhaps, a better (or at least a more descriptive) title and subtitle would be, Paradigm Restored: Why Almost Everything You’ve Ever Been Taught About Biblical Symbolism, Eschatology and Prophecy is Just Plain WRONG!

Anyway, after a brief Foreword written by Gary North and an even more brief Preface by Chilton, we get down right away to brass tacks. (Not literal ones, of course.)  The contents of the book are as follows:

Part I presents The Hope–what Chilton calls, “An Eschatology of Dominion”–even answering the question, “What Difference Does  It Make?”

Part II is: “Paradise: the Pattern for Prophecy,” which lays the groundwork for the rest of the book, i.e., how we are to properly understand all the imagery, symbolism and various “word associations” that the Bible presents to us (which, I believe, are for our edification and practical and ethical instruction, and NOT for our idle speculations and mystery-loving-but-hermeneutically-lame interpretations.  But I digress!).

Part III presents “The Gospel of the Kingdom.”  This is the largest section of the book.  And rightly so.  This is where the lion’s share of prophetic, predominantly evangelical Christian myths about “the coming of the Kingdom”, the restoration of Israel, the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist, the Last Days, the Day of the Lord, etc., are lovingly and patiently debunked by Chilton.  He is like a kindly, country doctor dealing with a fevered, diseased patient who is highly misguided and misinformed about his condition and the true remedy that the Great Physician has designed for him.  Dr. Chilton has the cure (and it ain’t brain surgery)!

Part IV, “Studies in the Book of Revelation” tackles everybody’s favorite “apocalyptic” book of the Bible.  The trouble is, as Chilton points out, Revelation is not apocalyptic the way most people think of that word–i.e., unexplained, unintelligible, mysterious symbols.  The Apostle John wrote his book as prophecy, the purpose of which (as Chilton reminds us) is ethical, the same as all other biblical prophecy.  And it is to REVEAL something that God wants us to know, not conceal it.  It was not written to be speculative and it was certainly not intended by God to remain hidden from his readers.

Now, I don’t want to be a spoiler here, but on this point I absolutely HAVE to quote Chilton regarding John’s use of symbols in the book of Revelation, which is in stark contrast to the writings of the other, so-called “apocalyptic” writers of his day, whose writings were predominantly pessimistic and deliberately made obscure:

John’s approach in the Revelation is vastly different.  His symbols are not obscure ravings hatched from a fevered imagination; they are rooted firmly in the Old Testament (and the reason for their seeming obscurity is that very fact: we have trouble understanding them only because we don’t know our Bibles).

Ouch.  Scripturally sound chastisement administered by God via his Spirit-filled minister “hurts so good”!  We evangelical Christians–even self-professing Calvinist Christians–can sometimes be abysmally ignorant when it comes to understanding the plain teachings of Scripture.

Part V, “To the Ends of the Earth,” is very short and covers “Fulfilling the Great Commission.”  Here, Chilton emphasizes the comprehensive aspect of the Gospel message and its long-term transformational effects on the nations of the world.

Appendix A summarizes the eschatology (last days timetable of events) of Hope: it is postmillennial, and therefore much misunderstood by those who do not subscribe to it.

Appendix B, “Josephus on the Fall of Jerusalem,” at first doesn’t seem to belong in this upbeat, victorious-sounding book on the salvation of planet earth in history before the Lord returns.  But that horrendous, intensely evil and indescribably satanic and depraved event (or series of events) that Josephus very prudently and delicately describes plays such a fundamental role in prophecy and is so essential in helping Christians rightly understand and interpret Jesus’ words in the Gospels and John’s words in Revelation regarding Jerusalem and the Jews of the 1st Century A.D., that to leave it out would remove the entire historical basis for the biblical theology of Chilton’s book and thus leave it without any foundation or historical context for us to believe it.  Chilton was wise to include it.

Bibliography and indexes round out the remainder of the book.  Simply amazing reading!

There are so many “aha” moments and “duh” moments and “well, now, that makes perfect sense to me” moments throughout this entire book, that I am going to share a few of those with you.  As I said, I will come back with some choice selections and cover this marvelous book, Paradise Restored, a little more in depth in my next post.

Until then, I EXHORT you, get this book and read it for yourself!  It will disabuse you of a thousand misguided theological and eschatological notions that you have swirling around in your brain right now.

Get it for free here (1994 edition, PDF download from Gary North’s website): http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/21de_47e.htm

Or, order it brand new, hardcover, from American Vision here: http://www.americanvision.com/products/Paradise-Restored%3A-A-Biblical-Theology-of-Dominion.html

Israel and the Church: Two Sides of the Same Coin–or Two Different Coins?

Does the Bible teach an Israel-Church distinction?

Gary Demar says NO.

Back when I cut my spiritual teeth as a fairly new Christian in the mid-1980s (when I was in my early 20s), dispensationalism and premillennialism were all the rage. In fact, in my Pentecostal-Fundamentalist world, they were running at a fever pitch.  Books, tapes, prophetic conferences, radio, TV, evangelistic ministries, etc., were all talking about the “end times”, the “last days”, the coming Rapture, imminent return of Christ to the earth and the Great Tribulation.

One theme that kept cropping up was what the Bible had to say about Israel in “prophecy” as it relates to what it says about the Church in prophecy, and especially the (apparent) scriptural divide that exists between “the Church”–meaning God’s New Testament body of Christian believers–and “Israel”–meaning God’s Old Testament body of Jewish believers.

In standard dispensational-premillennial theology, these two entities are not the same, and they never will be.  The Church, since the day of Pentecost and the book of Acts, has been and always will be a New Testament phenomenon.  The nation of Israel has been and always will be an ethnically-genetically-geographically-defined group of Old Testament-centric folks who are the physical descendants of Abraham.  And ne’er the twain shall meet, except in heaven, and in the coming earthly, literal “millennial” kingdom (and, of course, in “heretical” Covenant/Reformed theology!)

The crux of the confusion surrounding this controversy involves what the Bible says about the Church and Israel, and hinges on its use of the word “church.”

Church (“ekklesia”) was not a new word invented in the 1st century A.D by Greek-speaking writers of the New Testament to describe believers in Christ in any exclusive sense.

Rather, Ekklesia was a word that had already been in common usage “for several hundred years before the Christian era” in a much more broad, inclusive sense.  Hence,…

There is no Church-Israel distinction in the Bible because the Greek word ekklēsia is not an invention of the New Testament writers. Ekklēsia is a common word that is used to describe an assembly or congregation. It is used this way in the Greek translation of the Old Testament — the Septuagint (LXX) — and the Greek New Testament. This common word is use by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel (the most Jewish of the gospels):

  • “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church [ekklēsia]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18).[3]
  • “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church [ekklēsia]; and if he refuses to listen even to the church [ekklēsia], let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17).

It was a very generically used word that could apply to both O.T. and N.T. assemblies of God’s people.  Moreover, “promises made to Old Testament Israel are said to be fulfilled in the so-called church age” to New Testament believers.

“For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, andthey shall be My people. . . . And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:16, 18). How can this be when Paul is citing a verse that originally applied to Israel? How can the church be the temple? The temple is strictly Jewish. Second Corinthians 6:18 is a direct citation of Exodus 29:45: “And I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.” Then there is the statement to the Corinthian ekklēsiato “come out from their midst and be separate.” This, too, is an Old Testament reference to Israel, as is the reference not to touch “what is unclean” (2 Cor. 6:17b; Isa. 52:11). Finally, Paul tells the Corinthians that God will be a Father to them, and they will be “sons and daughters” to Him (2 Cor. 6:18). Once again, Paul draws on passages that were first applied to Israel (Isa. 43:6; Hosea 1:10).

Demar’s point is that Scripture makes no distinction between Israel and the Church, they’re one and the same, but that dispensationalism MUST make this distinction in order to harmonize its teachings with the Bible.

To read the full article, click here.

http://americanvision.org/5637/does-the-bible-teach-an-israel-church-distinction/