The key to understanding New Testament passages is the Old Testament, especially, the prophetic texts. The apostles, inspired of the Holy Spirit, often quoted the Ancient prophetic scriptures to illuminate the meanings. In this manner, they followed the pattern of Christ. This is not more true than for the question, When is the acceptable time for salvation?
Having learned from experiences of “ragman” evangelists I became acquainted with a need for urgency in preaching. Ragman is a term of endearment for preachers in the pre-computer days who used bed sheets for versus PowerPoint charts. They were neatly done, very effective, large enough for everyone to see and man could those guys pack some wisdom and doctrine in those bed sheets!
As a matter of fact, I have two that I used in a public oral debate that are still in excellent shape. These were done by friends who resided in Ohio. So, I have a great deal of respect for the old ragman preachers, having shared that role for four nights myself. But, back to the subject at hand, the matter of urgency. One of the texts shared during those evangelistic meetings was 2 Corinthians 6:2.
“For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Soteriology, (the study of salvation), is on the one hand very simple, and on the other, a bit more challenging. It also cannot be excluded from the discussion of eschatology, the kingdom or Israel. They are all connected as you may notice below. While the text above makes a nice call to urgency in an invitation for a evangelistic sermon, it rather expresses a much more comprehensive subject. An appeal to the Old Testament background for this text makes this abundantly clear.
2 Corinthians 6:2 Is God’s Land Promise to Israel, Per Isaiah 49:8
This has serious implications for modern Zionism and Dispensationalism from a Biblical perspective. This text, proves that neither of those views has any Scriptural justification or merit. Isaiah 49:8, from which 2 Corinthians 6:2, is quoted addressed Christ being given as a covenant to Israel. Paul confirms this in Romans 15:8. “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”
Therefore, Christ was given to Israel by God as a covenant to confirm the promises made to the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now the promise God made was a promise to give them the land. See the post on “Blessed Are the Meek for they Shall Inherit the Earth.” Now it stands to reason that if God gave Christ to Israel within the time of the first century, then Israel’s land promises were imminent or about to occur.
Per Isaiah, God would restore the “earth” better tranlated the land, to cause them to “inherit the desolate heritages.” In other words, the “acceptable time for salvation” cannot be separated from the time of the giving of the Messiah as a covenant to Israel and of their inheriting the desolate heritages.” Nor, is it received apart from Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, but only through him.
Yet, modern interpreters separate the fulfillment of the land promise from the the apostolic declaration that “now” is the acceptable time. What we are saying here is that Paul’s use of “now” to describe the time of salvation applied to his day, as stated to the Corinthians. In so doing, he affirmed the time of fulfillment of Isaiah 49:8, the land promises to Israel and the confirmation of the promises made to the Fathers.
Dispensationalism is out of step to the Apostolic marching band and out of tune with the trumpets of the Old Testament prophets.
The Harmony of Isaiah 49:8-10 and Revelation Chapter 7
Isaiah 49:10, addresses the new land of Israel as one in which they neither hunger nor thirst. The beatitudes once again come to mind. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6). What is not obvious to futurists and especially to those focused on physical dirt promises in Palestine, is that the feeding along the roads and pastures in the desolate heights per the text where hunger and thirst is absent is Old Testament poetic imagery for the spiritual salvation in Christ.
It is God’s graphic way of describing righteousness in the kingdom of God. Note also that in this land (salvation) neither heat nor sun strikes the inhabitants. Does any modern day Zionist expect to live in Palestine without the sun or heat? Will the Dispensationalists seek to literalize this verse and affirm that Palestine freeze over without sun or heat? This is the absurdity of that doctrine. How will Palestine exist without sun or heat? With such conditions, it won’t be two thirds of the population wiped out but all!
Revelation 7 and the Great Tribulation
Isaiah 49, not only forms the backdrop for 2 Corinthians 6:2, and the “now” time of salvation, it is also the backdrop of Revelation chapter 7. John quotes Isaiah 49:10, applying it to the time of the great tribulation, the 144,000, and the kingdom of God.
“Then one of the elders answered saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, Sir,” you know. ” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And he who sits on the throne will dwell among them.
They shall neither hunger any more nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to the living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:13-17).
To cover this thoroughly requires several blog posts, but suffice it to say that these have come out of the great tribulation. They are before the throne (kingdom) of God. They serve God in the temple. They neither hunger nor thirst, nor does the sun or any heat strike them. Sound familiar? Can you say, Isaiah 49:10?
The point? Isaiah 49:8-10, also affirms that the Book of Revelation belongs to Pauls’ “now time” for the day of salvation which he affirmed for disciples in the first century. Yet, how many evangelists and prophecy teachers today could sing in unison with Paul in the first century and say, “now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation?” We won’t hold our breath.
Is it at the end of the sermon when the invitation is given? While well meaning on the part of many, the answer is no. Is it our present or some future time when Zionist take over modern day Palestine? Again, the answer is no. The day of salvation and fulfillment of Israel’s land promise occurred in Christ in the first century as affirmed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2. Paul saw the day approaching, and coming in a little while at the very soon return of Christ, (Hebrews 10:25, 37).
Hence, he wrote (in the first century and pre-70 AD), the night was far spent, the day is at hand, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed, (Romans 13:1-12). That is the salvation Christ would bring at his second presence, (Hebrews 9:28) when he would appear without sin for salvation. This was his covenant to Israel when the Deliverer would come out of Zion and turn ungodliness from Jacob for this “is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans’ 11:26-27). Israel’s true land is salvation from sin and death through Christ.
If only the ragmen had understood this, the church would be much farther along than it is today.