In Dispensationalism Does “At Hand” Mean
“Not At Hand”? When the Lord spoke of his
kingdom, he said the time was fulfilled, and
the kingdom had drawn near. (Mark 1:14, 15).
Christ came to make good on the promise of the restoration of the
kingdom to Israel. For this reason the disciples preached announcing the kingdom as at hand. Christ sent them neither to the Gentiles or Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matt. 10:5,6)
Christ sent the disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel with a false message. What do we mean? They did so, in complete obedience to Christ, rejoicing at their success.
However, they should have waited. According to those who believe Israel’s destiny lies in the future, that message was 2000 years too early. Jesus was too “hyper” and so were his apostles concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.
At the close of his ministry and prior to his ascension, the apostles, with the Olivet discourse fresh on their minds, remembered that Christ spoke again saying that when they saw the events described coming to pass, the kingdom of God would be near, (Luke 21:31).
So far, the Lord was consisent from the beginning, during and at the close of his ministry saying that the kingdom was at hand, though not immediately so, meaning it would not come while he was on earth, but would arrive before all then living died, (Matt. 16:28).
Thus, they asked, “Lord will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6, 7) Now, since this kingdom is connected to the Olivet discourse and the time of Christ’s coming, we can see why he said it was not for the apostles to know the “times and the seasons” which the Father had put in his own power.
They went forth preaching that the kingdom was at hand. In fact, they published the message as a witness to all the nations, in view of the coming end of the age, Matt. 24:3, 14, Lk. 21:31.
The Restoration of the Kingdom and Christ’s Second Coming
Is there a doubt that the restoration of the kingdom prophecy consummates at the time of Christ’s return? Is there a doubt that the message focused on Israel’s retoration? Is there a doubt that first century apostles declared it had drawn near in the first century?
The question is not whether they said it was near. The question is whether they meant what they said or were they truthful in saying it?
After a lengthy discussion in Romans 11 about the future of Israel, Paul was careful to record in a quote directly related to Israel’s end time hope from Daniel chapter 12, that Israel’s future was nearer than when they first believed; the night was far spent and the hour had drawn near, (Rom. 13:11, 12).
Now the “er” in near-er, means that the kingdom was even nearer than near. Otherwise, why would Paul use the word?
So whatever debates we may have over who Israel is or isn’t, her time of salvation had arrived. Her restoration had drawn near-er, than when it was announced at the beginning. That is, unless of course one redefines “near-er” to mean “not near-er.”
Others see the future of Israel not yet completed even to this day. However, a kingdom, clearly future to Pentecost of Acts 2, is promised to Israel after Pentecost at Christ’s coming and was said to be at hand per Luke 21:31.
The same disciples who were told “they” would see Christ return in like manner, were also told “they” would see and know when the kingdom was near.
Does Near Mean Near or “Not Near”? In Dispensationalism Does At Hand Mean Not At Hand?
Today we have new human Bible dictionaries who tell us “near” does not mean “near” but it means “not near.” This is not a hard rule. It is very flexible. It means that if “near” is taken from a first century audience viewpoint, it means “not near.”
But, it is the “current human dictionaries” who were “not near” to the first century in the times those words were spoken who tell us that they were “not near” to the people to and by whom they were spoken!
Then, those same human dictionaries of today report that when they feel the time is right, in the “near” future, then near which means “not near” to them in the first century, will mean “near” to them in the 21st century. Proof? Simply because they say so and anyone who disagrees with them is hyper-what-ever!
As far as the accuracy of their predictions are concerned on the “signs of the times,” they are at ground zero every time they’re at bat. Their rapture-mobile has no wings. It cannot fly. They are 100 per cent wrong on a yet future imminent coming of Christ 100 per cent of the time. We are so not impressed!
“Not Near” in the Scriptures
Claiming events were not near when they were near is not new. God experienced this in the past with the first destruction of Jerusalem in Ezekiel’s time.
Now the word of the Lord cam to me, saying: ‘Son of Man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.’” (Ezk. 12:1–2)
Now why did God speak of these pre-first destruction temple Israelites as rebellious? They were saying that “near” means “not near,” and that “at hand” means “out of hand” or “postponed.”
“Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged, and every vision fails?’”
“Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God:‘ “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision.”
For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel.
For I am the Lord, I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it,” says the Lord God.’”
“Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’
Therefore say to them, thus says the Lord God; “None of My words will be postponed any more, but he word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God.’” (Ezk. 12:22–28)
Now what was God’s assessment of those who said “near” means “not near” and “at hand” means “postponed?”
He said that they prophesied out of their own heart, followed their own spirit and have seen nothing! You see, Ezekiel’s prophetic visions were considered “hyper” by the rebellious in Israel.
They scoffed at it, created their own dispense-with-God’s-sensationalism end time program and claimed the end was far off in the future, only to realize that none of their “far off” visions were ever realized. [Hold on a moment…I’m having Hagee, Lindsey, Whisenant, Lahaye and Van Impe flashbacks].
Okay, now I’m recovered. Whew, all that end-time prophesying really makes me dizzy!
Balaam and “Not Now”
Balaam, the covetous prophet spoke of the last days in the time of Moses, just before Israel entered the land of Canaan, (Num. 24:14–17). He prophesied that the last days end time appearance of Christ was “not near.”
I see Him, but now now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. (v. 17)
Balaam said the last days, from the time frame of the Exodus from Egypt, was not near. Again, we ask, if “near” for end times prophecy means “not near” then why doesn’t “not near” mean near, or do they both mean the same?
The Deuteronomy Delusion
To support the “not near,” “not at hand” definition of “near” and “at hand” in last days prophecy, an appeal is made to Deuteronomy. Now this prophecy is dated about the same time as that from Balaam, shortly before Israel crossed the Jordan into Canaan.
The “near-not-near/at-hand-is-not-at-hand, view of Bible prophecy argues that Moses spoke of Israel’s last days and said they were at hand. But, they say, that the end has not yet come, so they claim to be disciples of Moses’ eschatology. Not! Such is the view of both futurist camps of Dispensationalism and Amillennialism.
Moses nor Deuteronomy will have anything to do with such reasoning. Moses never said the last days were at hand at the time of the Exodus.
Moses spoke of the last days, (31:29) but he also gave very clear instructions on the time of application for his prophecy. Here is what he said:
The events would occur after his death, 31:29
At a time far enough in the future when Israel could remember the days of “old.” (32:7) How could the time of pre-Canaan entry be days of old?
When the descendants could ask their fathers. [Remember, all the fathers of the generation of Moses died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb, and Moses would shortly join the deceased. Thus, his generation had no fathers to ask]
When Israel could recall the years of many generations.
After God divided the inheritance according to the number of the children of Israel. This is post Canaan.
When Israel provoked God to jealousy by what is not God. Compare Rom. 10:19.
When they could compare their latter end with their beginning, v. 29. See also Matt. 12:45; 2 Pet. 2:20.
When God would take vengeance upon Israel in judgment, v. 35 (Compare Lk. 21:22; Heb. 10:30). When the Gentiles rejoice with his people, v. 43. (Compare Rom. 15:10)
Therefore, when Moses spoke of Israel’s latter days, he spoke of the times in the first century, and the quotes above from Christ and the apostles confirm it.
Like Balaam, Moses taught those events were “not at hand” in his day, but would be “at hand” in the latter days, in the times of the apostles. (Deut. 32:34).
Check out The Last Days Identified by Don K. Preston for a simple easy to follow guide on the time of the end. It avoids the speculative theories and nails the subject with solid evidence and clear reasoning. The Book is 138 pages and contains a significantly worthy section on Deuteronomy 32.