Paul Benson – A Bottomless Bucket (Part 6)
Paul Benson’s Elect
In my previous article (Part 5 in the series) I ended with a quote and a short history of its origin.
There Are None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See:
According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’). In 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’. The full saying is: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.’
The full maxim seems to be saying that delusion is potently more dangerous than deception because it alludes to the fact that the person is wilfully ignorant of the things he already knows. Paul Benson knows and acknowledges that Calvinism is a false doctrine. Nevertheless, he comes very close to their false salvific doctrine, encapsulated in the acronym TULIP, when he too attributes eternal salvific properties to the word “election.” Yes, of course, election, in most cases in the New Testament, refers to believers. But, what about Judas Iscariot? Was he not chosen to follow Jesus as one of his disciples?
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luke 6:12-16).
Notwithstanding Jesus having known beforehand that Judas would betray Him, He chose (eklegomai) Him to be one of his disciples and gifted Him with all the same divine attributes He gave to the other disciples, that is, to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils. (Matthew 10:1-4; 7-8). Is there an Old Testament figure whom God chose and gifted with divine attributes to do his holy biddings? Despite his unbelief, King Cyrus was chosen to assist Israel in their return to Israel and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem in circa 539 BC. Bear in mind, that Antichrist is going to do the very same “good deed,” if you will, when he is going to make a seven-year covenant with Israel and assist them in the rebuilding of their temple in Jerusalem.
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. (Isaiah 44:28).
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. (Isaiah 45:1-4).
Was King Cyrus a saved believer in the God of the Bible? Some would probably answer in the affirmative and use the words “my shepherd” and “anointed” as key words to prove their point. However, the Bible contradicts their affirmations. Note the end of the quote from Isaiah 45, “though thou hast not known me.” At first glance, the latter phrase seems to be referring to Israel who was elected despite her unbelief and idolatrous ways. The “thou” refers to an individual and it is very clear from the above quote that it is King Cyrus to whom God says, “though thou hast not known me.” The only inference to be made, is that God chose, anointed and called King Cyrus to be a shepherd to his people so that He may accomplish his sovereign will with them, despite King Cyrus’ unbelief. In fact, he worshiped pagan gods. But Cyrus did not only do this for Israel. A standard Persian policy in the time of King Cyrus was that subjects of the Persian Empire were often allowed to return to their homelands to build their temples which was a standard Persian policy in the time of King Cyrus.
The Cyrus Cylinder which was discovered in 1879 confirms this. It is a clay cylinder, giving a Babylonian account of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BC, of his restoration to various temples of statues removed by Nabonidus, the previous king of Babylon, and of his own work at Babylon. The cylindrical form is typical of royal inscriptions of the Late Babylonian period, and the text shows that the cylinder was written to be buried in the foundations of the city wall of Babylon. It was deposited there after the capture of the city by Cyrus in 539 BC, and presumably written on his orders. One of the things recorded on the cylinder is that Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon and called “the king of the gods” in the text, “took the hand of Cyrus . . . and called him by his name, proclaiming him aloud for the kingship over all of everything.” It is evident that the honour given to Marduk is one of Satan’s clever devices to replace the sovereign God of Israel with Marduk. In the Bible it is Yahweh the only true God of Israel who takes the credit, and so He should because He is the only true and living God, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isaiah 46: 10).
God’s good pleasure as we’ve seen from the previous article (part 5) in this series is to restore Israel to her homeland in the latter days and to fulfil all the covenants He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to his elect people. The elect or chosen, as seen from the above two examples, is and never was an election unto salvation but always to serve God’s counsels (purposes). As soon as you attach salvation to election, you will have no other choice but to tag along with the Calvinist view that God, whose counsel shall stand and who will do all his pleasure, chose and predestined some to salvation and others to everlasting perdition in hell before the foundation of the world. Paul Benson has a slightly different take on election which tends to lean heavily toward the anti-once saved always saved doctrine. His own election setup hovers between “in Christ” and/or “in the Olive Tree.”
“In Christ” equals “In the Olive Tree” or “Olive Tree” minus “In Christ” = “Damnation”
Paul Benson uses the terms “in Christ” 45 times and “in the Olive Tree“ 15 times in his book, and the apex of his argument is that both are equal to election = salvation.
Now Paul brings in the illustration of the Olive tree; and also begins a rebuke of those who totally reject Israel as a part of God’s future plan; He compares the unbelieving majority of national Israel to branches who were broken off the natural Olive tree (election) by their unbelief (rejecting of Christ); and the Gentile believers as branches of a ‘wild’ Olive tree which were grafted into the natural Olive tree (election) through faith in Christ. (Page 27).
We merely skimmed the truths presented us in Romans 11; but any with an open mind, and a hunger for the truth, should now see the true concept of election is not given by either Dispensational or Replacement Theory. God gave this illustration of the Olive tree as a simple pattern to show us the truth on election. I hope you would study this out in a thorough fashion, and solidify this truth in your heart. It will safe-guard you against the wayward and high-minded theories of those whose education has gotten in the way of their learning of God’s truth. (Page 28).
If you were going to say any tree in the Bible is used to represent Israel it would probably have to be the Olive Tree; and yes, Wikipedia does say the national tree of Israel is the Olive Tree.
When we leave behind the prideful high-minded theories of man, and prayerfully seek for a Spirit-led interpretation of the Scriptures (which involves different forms of interpretation applied at the proper time and in a proper manner) we arrive at a third theory on election: Remnant Theology! The elect of God who will inherit his promises are a remnant of called out and chosen ones. This remnant is comprised of both a segment of Israel (messianic Jews) as well as the Gentile believers in Christ joined to form what the Bible calls ‘one new man in Christ’ (Ephesians 2:11-19). (Page 27).
This merger of the Church being added into the ranks of God’s elect remnant by faith in Christ is at the heart of the true biblical understanding of election.
SIDE NOTE: It is important to note the messianic Jews do not join us in our election; we join them in theirs. We are grafted into their election, not vice-versa. We do not replace them as Replacement (Covenant) Theology demands; or stand apart from them as a separate work God is doing, as Separation (Dispensational) Theology demands. We are joined to the Jewish Remnant as one entity in Christ.) (Page 27).
God still has a call and a future for those of national Israel who will heed that call and return unto him. But it will not be a promise fulfilled through lineage or national citizenship. The only door open to them is the same door we all must enter through; The Cross of Christ and the Blood which was shed to wash away our sin. There is no election outside of Christ! And all of the Covenant promises God made will be fulfilled in Christ. ALL of them! (Page 28).
Please allow me to present some simple truth any believer should be able to grasp. Jesus Christ himself was prophesied to become God’s elect. He is the fulfillment of the ‘seed’ of Abraham the promise was given to. And if we are in Christ we too are that promised ‘seed’! (see Galatians ch. 3) Therefore if Jesus is God’s elect, we who are in Christ are also the elect of God! (Page 29).
The pre-trib theory rests firmly upon the notion of God dealing with national Israel as his chosen elect apart from his dealings with the Church. Proving God’s true elect are a Remnant body composed of a blending of Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ means God deals with them in a singular manner and at the same time. This sets aside any notion of God removing the Church before the tribulation so he can concentrate on his ‘Jewish elect’. He has been concentrating on them for 2000 years in Christ! (Pages 29-30).
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Is God going to split the ‘one new man in Christ’ he created in half, and subject half to the (supposed) ‘wrath of God’ during the tribulation; but take the other half off to a wedding feast that only half the Bride is in attendance of? This is the kind of unreasonable conclusions Dispensational theology presents. When confronted with the Biblical truth of election the pre-trib theory becomes quite nonsensical. Many other aspects of this folly could be highlighted but I think you get the point. (Page 30).
If we are going to get to the truth here first we should establish one thing. Israel was Gods elect; chosen and favored. But the Bible teaches us they (unbelieving Israel rejecting Christ) were cut off, and the believing Gentiles (Christians) were grafted in to join all the believing Jews (also now Christians) as one elect body in a New Covenant with God. And when the day comes where a Jewish remnant turns their hearts to embrace faith in Jesus they (as Christians) will be grafted back in. God does not have two elections, or two Brides as some mistakenly say; just one elect body in Christ sanctified by his Sacrifice. (Page 51).
If these things are not clear to you please prayerfully study Romans 11. It’s stated there pretty plainly. And those of you rapture theorists who try to twist verse 28 and say, ‘See they are God’s elect it says so right here.’ I suggest you back up to verse 7 and read it all in context for a change. This chapter in context plainly states national Israel is not currently in a state of election, but definitely called to repent and regain that status IN CHRIST! (Page 51).
Something that I did to clear this matter up for me was to do a search and study on the usage of the word ‘elect’ in the New Testament. It left no doubt in my mind those in Christ are the elect of God; and Matthew 24:30-31 is our resurrection / catching away! (Page 51).
The word elect is used 16 times in the N.T. (KJV). The underlying Greek word eklektos is used 23 times and is always translated ‘elect’ or ‘chosen’. It is also enlightening to search the word ‘election’. A thorough look at all the N.T. usages of these words (elect, chosen, election etc.) shows not one reference to national Israel now being the elect. NOT ONE! The fact the believer is now the elect of God is undeniable as you look through the verses in question. Examine each verse and ask yourself if this is a reference to national Israel or those in Christ. (Page 52).
The Word of God clearly teaches we the followers of Christ are ‘the elect’ of God; and therefore we are the ones being gathered unto Christ in Matthew 24:30-31. If you are still up in the air on this I suggest you take time to study this out completely; reading each verse that uses these terms in its context. If you can find one verse teaching that national Israel is at this time the elect of God and those in Christ are not please let me know, will ya?
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1
If you want to look at this spiritually we are God’s elect because we are in Christ, and Christ is God’s elect. It’s all about our identification with him. He in us, us in him; making us the elect. Should we think the Head (Christ) would be God’s elect, but not us the Body of Christ? The subject of election is one of the many places dispensation / pre-trib theology seriously parts way with the Word of God. I’ll stick with Romans 11! (Pages 52-53).
We are all made one in Christ! The way that a lot of people preach the plan of God for mankind they make the absurd claim God has one plan for the O.T. Saints and another for the Church. Many actually teach the Church was plan B. That is falsehood. There is only one plan. God’s plan to redeem mankind from the fall was preached as early as the Garden of Eden when God provided a covering for the naked man and his mate. Those animals didn’t just slip out of their skins and say, ‘Here ya go!’. There was bloodshed and a loss of life to provide that covering. The Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice was God’s plan to ‘cover’ us with His Righteousness from the beginning and has never changed or needed upgraded. (Page 96).
The promise to inherit the kingdom was given to Abraham and his seed. This promise is fulfilled in Christ; and because we are in Christ we also are Abraham’s seed, so it is the same promise to us. One promise to all. There is no inheritance outside of Christ. (Page 96).
This Separation Theology is so evidently contrary to what is plainly taught in the Bible I marvel that anyone could embrace it as truth. The Bible teaches the Jew and Gentile believers are one new man in Christ joined together in one body! Ephesians 2:11-16 distinctly says so! Read it and believe it! When anyone turns to faith in Jesus and his work on the Cross, and are born again, they become a member of the Body of Christ! To state those of national Israel who turn to Christ in the last days will be a separate entity from the Body of Christ flies in the face of what the Bible teaches about election. (Page 167). (Emphasis added throughout)
It is abundantly evident from these quotes that Paul Benson has no clue what the difference is between “in an outside of the Olive Tree” and “in and outside of Jesus Christ.” In addition, it also proves that he does not know what the difference is between the Old Testament and New Testament saints. In his estimate the Old Testament saints in the ranks of national Israel were all “in Christ” (“in the Olive Tree”). In one of my comments under the first part of this series I asked Paul Benson,
You seem to be the one who embraces two different kinds of salvation when you suggest that sinners need to be grafted into the “Olive Tree (election),” in order to be saved. As far as I know, sinners (Jews and Gentiles alike) only need to be baptized into Jesus Christ, and by definition, into his death. There is not a single verse in Scripture that likens salvation to a grafting into the Olive Tree. Is Jesus Christ the Olive Tree? If so, then every single Jew who had been grafted into the Olive Tree (the entire nation of Israel was grafted into the Olive Tree), was saved, but lost their salvation when they were cut off from the Olive Tree. Yet, they can be grafted in again. What kind of see-saw salvation is that? First, they are saved (in the Olive Tree) and then lost (out of the Olive Tree), and then again saved (grafted into the Olive Tree). Once again, I must ask, is Jesus Christ the Olive Tree?
According to your reading of Romans 11:24, He must be because He is the ONLY WAY to be saved – both for Jew and Gentile. And by the way, as I have shown in my article, you have an unbiblical view of identifying oneself with Christ’s death.
What do you mean by “Olive Tree (Election)”? Therefore, Your “Olive Tree (election)” kind of salvation is heresy.
I am still waiting for an answer from him. I doubt whether he ever will answer because, if he does, he will have to admit that he believes in two kinds of salvation — one, he calls the “in the Olive Tree salvation,” and two, the “in the Jesus Christ salvation,” unless, of course, he makes the Olive Tree equal to Jesus Christ. As he himself says on page 51, “God does not have two elections”
(redemptions). This is the kind of confusing and deceptive conclusions one must come to when you despise dispensationalism. You end up in a maelstrom of contradictions from which it is impossible to escape (pun intended). To illustrate, I thought it may be a good idea to play the little “if”-game with Paul Benson, our Bottomless Bucket friend who despises God’s doctrine of a Pre-tribulation Rapture.
- If, as he says, national Israel is no longer God’s elect because the unbelieving portion has been cut off from the Olive Tree (election), and if only Messianic Jews and redeemed Gentiles are the elect because they are ONE man in Christ, then, where are they in reality — in Christ or in the Olive Tree (ONE Person, Jesus Christ)?
- If the Olive Tree equals election (redeemed Messianic Jews + redeemed Gentiles = ONE man in Christ) how did the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles manage to get into the Olive Tree? Paul distinctly says that most of the Jews were cut off from the Olive Tree because of their unbelief (their unredeemed status), and that the Gentiles who had been grafted in should not boast against the branches lest they too be cut off from the Olive Tree (election) (= from out of Christ) because of unbelief (their unredeemed status). Certainly, if God grafted the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles into the Olive Tree (election)(= election in Christ), then the Holy Spirit should be charged with redemption-tinkering. It would mean that the entire Bible should be rewritten to accommodate the brand-new doctrine of the baptism of unbelievers into the death of Christ. For instance: “Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of the unbelievers who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). As you can see, and hopefully those who think Benson is the cat’s whiskers do, Paul Benson has built an entire new “cognitive scaffolding” on how to circumvent the strait gate and the narrow way so that unbelievers may gain entrance into the Olive Tree (election) (= election in Christ). Hence his “winged words like arrows sped” in the preface to his book, “A love for the truth is not an option for the believer! If you are taking the time to read this book it is obvious you have a desire to get to the truth of the matter under discussion. I commend you for that. And I pray your understanding would be greatly increased through this effort. Please proceed prayerfully. Words of truth only truly become words of life when the wind of the Spirit blows upon them.”
Well, the spirit who blew on Paul Benson’s winged words cannot possibly be the Holy Spirit. We cannot blame Him with redemption-tinkering. It must be another spirit, a spirit of lies and death (Yee-Hah, Montana Redneck).
- If, as Paul Benson says, dispensationalism is a curse, how does his “cognitive scaffolding” and “speculative thinking” help him to figure out how the believers in the Old Testament were “in Christ” when the Holy Spirit hadn’t been poured out yet? To be “in Christ” or “in the Body of Christ” the Holy Spirit must be “in you.” The Old Testament saints were saved through faith in the yet to come one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, notwithstanding the fact that the Spirit had yet not been poured out. The Holy Spirit came upon believers in the Old Testament and could also depart from them (Judges 3:10; 1 Samuel 10:10; 16:14; Psalm 51:11), whereas Jesus promised that He would be in the New Testament believers, and never leave them (John 14:17).
- If, as Paul Benson says, “The Word of God clearly teaches we the followers of Christ are ‘the elect’ of God; and therefore we are the ones being gathered unto Christ in Matthew 24:30-31 . . . If you can find one verse teaching that national Israel is at this time the elect of God and those in Christ are not please let me know, will ya?” what then happened to God’s promises to Israel about their land of inheritance? Benson should know that all promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:10). So, if He wants to do away with or supersede God’s promises to the Jews, He will have to get rid of Jesus Christ in some or other way, because that’s the only way to get rid of God’s covenants with national Israel. In Matthew 24 Jesus warns that even the elect could be deceived by false prophets’ signs and wonders. It gives us a very good clue to whom He was referring. According to 1 Corinthians 1:22 the Jews are forever seeking a sign as the means to help them believe. They even tempted Him to come down from the cross to prove that He is their Messiah (Matthew 27:42). The present-day saints (prior to the Rapture), on the other hand, are commanded to live by faith and not by sight. This is precisely why Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” (Matthew 16:4). Real faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (contrary to signs and wonders that are seen). Moreover, genuinely saved Christians (his sheep) know his voice and will never listen to strangers (false teachers and their false signs and wonders) (John 10:1-5). Either Jesus was a little confused or He was deliberately trying to mislead his sheep when He said this. The word “ou mē” (“not”) is a double negative strengthening the denial and means “not at all,” “by no means,” “never,” and “nor ever.” That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? So why would Jesus warn “the ONE man in Christ” (the elect in the Olive Tree which to Benson is equal to Jesus) to beware of being deceived and misled by false prophets and their false signs and wonders when He categorically stated that they will never listen to strangers (false prophets and their false doctrines)? It proves beyond any doubt that He was not referring to the present-day saints who are ONE man in Christ Jesus, but to the Jews, his elect people.
- If, and let’s assume He referred to the ONE man in Christ and not the Jews as his elect, why did He use Jewish observances (laws) as a means to warn the elect to pray for when they will have to flee the persecution of the Antichrist? Benson should know that the ONE man in Christ no longer needs to observe any Jewish practises such as the Sabbath. Unless, of course, Paul Benson is a Seventh Day Adventist or anything else of sorts. Benson’s reference to Matthew 24:30-31 to validate his view of the rapture and gathering unto Christ, flies in the face of Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy and Jesus Christ’s reference to it in Matthew 24: 15, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand (Matthew 24:15). Evidently, Paul Benson does not understand because the entire gamut of the seventy weeks pertains to national Israel and not to the ONE man in Christ. Daniel 9:24-27 contains too many genuine and unique Jewish characteristics to make it fit the ONE man in Christ elect in any which way possible. “Thy people,” “the holy city,” the temple,” “the sanctuary,” “the prince that shall come” (Antichrist), his “covenant with many,” and “he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” are all things that relate uniquely to national Israel, God’s, elect and not the ONE man in Christ.
- If, as Paul Benson asserts, saints (the ONE man in Christ; Bride of Christ) need to endure persecution and suffering during the seven-year tribulation to purify and prepare her for Christ’s Second Coming, why would Jesus exhort them to flee Antichrist’s wrath? Escaping Antichrist’s wrath will rob them of a wonderful opportunity to be purified and prepared for his Second Coming of Christ. Never fear when Benson-“Let’s Get it Right” guru is near because he always has a “cognitive scaffolding” solution in hand when we need “to get things right” as his blog boasts. But does he . . .? Hardly. He has a bone to pick with those who allegedly split the ONE man in Christ in two, causing one group to suffer persecution during the tribulation and the other more fortunate portion to escape suffering and persecution. The one split section, he says, will bring persecution and suffering upon themselves (i.e. a kind of masochistic persecution and suffering) because of their disregard of God’s Word, and the more fortunate split section who will escape persecution and suffering in the midst of severe tribulation (pages 179-181). On the one had he despises the so-called escapism of the Pre-tribulation Rapture but is quite comfortable to espouse a similar sort of escapism with one difference. His escapism takes place here on earth in the same way Israel escaped God’s wrath in the days when they were slaves in the land of Egypt. Then, as usual, he steals Old Testament passages out of their context to apply them to the ONE man in Christ instead of to Israel (Daniel 11:32, 35; 12:10). A messenger who was sent to Daniel to reveal to him God’s plans for Israel, was supported by Michael the archangel who, according to Daniel 12:1 has a special relationship to Israel. The messenger was about to reveal to Daniel God’s plans for Israel (not the ONE man in Christ) under the Persians and Greece (11:2-35) and later in the tribulation (verses 36-45) and the Millennium Kingdom of Christ on earth (12:1-4). It all boils down to one thing: Paul Benson is a clandestine Replacement Theologian and apparently doesn’t even know it.
Paul Benson’s Distraction Theology (Clandestine Replacement Theology)
Benson says in his dissertation on the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-34) that he had discarded his belief in a Pre-tribulation Rapture long ago, but it took him thirty years to shake off the remaining snippets of error when at last he understood the real meaning of the parable. It was the Lord’s prompting, he claims, that finally freed him from that distraction (pages 53-58). How sure is he that it was the Lord’s promptings and not another spirit who led him to finally quit his distraction? I should think the Lord was giving him a thirty year of reprise to recap his intended self-deception and repent of his evil before God gave him over to his delusion. That’s what God usually does when people stubbornly cling to their own self-imputed delusions. “OK, if you don’t want to listen to my serious warnings, go ahead and believe your deluded “cognitive scaffolding. I’m done with you,” God seems to have said to Paul Benson when he decisively cursed the Pretribulation Rapture. (Matthew 24:48-51).
In summary, Paul Benson extrapolates the following from the parable of the fig tree.
- The fig tree is not an allegory of Israel.
- The fig tree is not an allegory of the rebirth and restoration to their divinely allotted land in 1948.
- The fig tree cannot be an allegory of Israel because God will never curse Israel.
The context in which the parable of the fig tree appears proves that it cannot be anything else but an allegory of Israel. Jesus already denounced Israel in Matthew 23:38, declaring that He would leave their house (temple) desolate. His departure from the temple in Matthew 24:1-2 was symbolic of his final loh-ammi (curse, Hosea 1:9-10) on Israel when He predicted the utter destruction of Solomon’s Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD, subsequent to the seven woes He pronounced on the Pharisees and Sadducees.
It cannot possibly have anything to do with the Church (ONE man in Christ) because He promised to build and NOT destroy it (Matthew 16:18). The desolation of Israel’s temple will reach its peak when Antichrist sets up his own centre of worship in the most holy sanctuary and the false prophet forces everyone to worship him as God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). The parable of the fig tree must be seen in the context of Christ’s predicted desolation of the temple and Jerusalem. The fact that the fig tree sported leaves and no fruit alludes to the outward hypocritical appearance of Israel’s self-righteous religiosity. There was a lot of ritualistic showmanship and no depth of heart in it (Matthew 12:7). They were merely perpetuating Adam and Eve’s pathetic effort to cover-up their nakedness (sin) with aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).
Paul Benson admits that the Olive Tree is an allegory of Israel, and also the palm, the pomegranate, and the vine, but immediately says that the fig tree’s appearance among them in the same verse is “no excuse for stretching that out into the lie we have been told all these years.” To which verse is he referring? Wikipedia seems to be Benson’s source of research instead of the Bible whenever he deals with Israel. He says,
Ponder this: If the fig tree represented Israel would Jesus have cursed the fig tree and condemned it to never bear fruit again? It withered up from the root and died. How does that fit the picture of Israel’s prophetic rebirth? Not a match; and I don’t think Jesus would have given us an image so out of sync like that if Israel was typified by the fig tree. He’s sharper than that.
If you were going to say any tree in the Bible is used to represent Israel it would probably have to be the Olive Tree; and yes, Wikipedia does say the national tree of Israel is the Olive Tree.
Finding a fig tree and the nation of Israel in the same verse (Oh look, here’s a ‘proof text’!) is no excuse for stretching that out into the lie we have been told all these years. There is just as much support for the Palm, the Pomegranate, the Olive tree, or the Vine; all are used to speak in regard to Israel in one fashion or another. If the Scriptures do not portray the fig tree as the symbol of Israel, and there is no historical usage of it as such, where did this false idea come from? I guess maybe someone desperate for doctrinal support saw some similarity in new tree growth and the rebirth of Israel; and thought it was a straw worth grasping at.
Although he does not quote or refer to Haggai 2:19, it seems to be the verse he had in mind to expose the lie of God’s promise to restore his people to their own land.
Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you. (Haggai2:16-19)
Bible prophecies often have a double fulfilment, the one being a prefigured prediction of the final one in the end-time. As such, the complete destruction of the temple and Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies under King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, foreshadowed the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD under the Roman general Titus, the reason being that God’s people did not bring forth the fruits of repentance and He had to bring to pass his curse in Malachi 4:6. To understand the significance of “all the trees” in Luke 21:29, which Benson says is an allegory of all the nations, we must go back to Haggai 2:19 where the fig tree is mentioned together with the vine, the pomegranate, and the olive tree failing to bring forth fruit. Verse 17 unequivocally states that God addressed Israel and no other nation or nations, as Paul Benson suggests.
I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. (Haggai 2:17).
Note the words, “from this day I will bless you” In verse 19. The “you” cannot be the Gentile nations because God never made a covenant with any of them to restore them to their land or rebirth them (Genesis 12:1; 13:14-15, 17). Paul Benson’s argument that “all the trees” in Luke 21:29 is another one of his wilful disparagements of God’s promises as if He is a liar and not Satan. God will never, never rescind or back down on his promises to Israel, come hell or high water. Get that through your head, Mr. Paul Benson, the “cognitive scaffolding” master. The trees (plural) are not symptomatic of all the nations; they are allegories of one and the same nation, Israel, and each represents one or more religious attributes of Israel.
- Godly Israelites used fig trees as places of prayer. They were called “proseuches.” (John 1:47-49).
- Effigies of pomegranates were sown on the High Priests garment together with golden bells (Exodus 28:31-35). The blood of a sacrificial animal was smeared on the High Priest, for it was the only way he could enter into the holiest of holes unscathed once a year. The slightest diversion from God’s instructions could lead to his death. The priests who waited outside the holiest of holies usually tied a rope around him. Should the bells stop ringing they would pull him out without entering the holiest of holies, lest they too expose them to God’s wrath.
- The olive tree is God’s commonwealth for Israel, contained in the Law, the covenants, the adoption, the glory (shekinah), and the service of God (Romans 9:4)
- The palm tree and its leaves are symbols of peace, particularly in the realm of God’s peace during Christ’s Millennial age of peace on earth (John 12:13) when He will in triumph set up his Kingdom on earth to rule Israel as their eternal King.
Unlike Paul Benson whose scaffolding is false and very shaky, that of the prophet Haggai was spiritually sturdy as a rock and unshakeable. Whilst the Israelite under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest, who were sent back to Jerusalem at the command of King Cyrus (± 50 000 Jews) to rebuild their temple, were still busy raising the scaffolding, they were continually harassed by the Samaritans and only managed to finish the foundation. They grew very despondent and fell into a hole of physical and spiritual lethargy. God raised up Haggai and prompted him (certainly not like the prompting of another spirit as with Benson) to encourage the Israelite to continue working on the temple with their eyes fixed on God’s eternal and inflexible promises. These promises are restated in Haggai 2:20-23 and is reminiscent of the destruction of Gentile powers represented by Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image in Daniel 2.
Whenever the bible speaks of blessings in terms of Israel, it almost always relates to their restoration to their promised land. There are no less than 23 passages in Scripture about Israel’s permanent restoration to her land. Consider carefully these passages from Scripture.
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. (Deuteronomy 30:5).
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12)
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:6)
And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. (Ezekiel 37:21-25)
Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:18-21)
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. (Jeremiah 24:5-6)
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. (Jeremiah 30:18)
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. (Jeremiah 32:37-40)
Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it. (Jeremiah 33:6-9)
Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God. (Ezekiel 28:25-26)
For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. [obviously Daniel’s Seventieh Week) (Ezekiel 34:11-12)
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:24-26)
Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. (Ezekiel 39:28)
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:4-5)
And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God. (Amos 9:14-15)
I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. (Micah 2:12)
In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 4:6-7)
Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD. (Zephaniah 3:19-20)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. (Zechariah 8:7-8)
And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. (Zechariah 13:8-9)
Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: (Isaiah 66:8-10).
The website “This Day in History” wrote:
On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. In an afternoon ceremony at the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Ben-Gurion pronounced the words “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel,” prompting applause and tears from the crowd gathered at the museum. Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first premier.
In the distance, the rumble of guns could be heard from fighting that broke out between Jews and Arabs immediately following the British army withdrawal earlier that day. Egypt launched an air assault against Israel that evening. Despite a blackout in Tel Aviv–and the expected Arab invasion–Jews joyously celebrated the birth of their new nation, especially after word was received that the United States had recognized the Jewish state. At midnight, the State of Israel officially came into being upon termination of the British mandate in Palestine.
This was the fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 66, “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD.”
The above verse lynches high on Benson’s own “cognitive scaffolding” the statement he makes on page 58.
Jesus gave us distinct indicators to watch for that clue us in to the season of his Return, and the rebirth of Israel is not on that list. Let’s leave the rebirth of Israel (as wonderful as it is) out of the Parable of the Fig Tree and accept what is clearly taught there
….when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke-21:28
First: The signs Jesus exhorted his people to watch out for during the Seventieth Week of Daniel, which was clearly decreed upon Daniel’s people, the Jews, and their holy city (Daniel 9:24), was NOT given to the church (the ONE man in Christ). No signs are given to watch out for before the Pretribulation Rapture.
Second: Paul Benson says on page 58, “If we are told by Jesus to watch for events which transpire during the final three and a half years that would mean the Church would have to still be here, and then their pre-trib rapture myth is also gunned down. (R.I.P.)” Paul Benson has no confidence in the tribulation saints’ (Gentiles and Jews who are going to be saved during Daniel’s Seventieth Week) abilities to discern the signs before his Second Coming, and henceforth watch out for and prepare themselves for his Parousia at the end of the seven-year tribulation. Only the saints who now comprise of Jews and Gentiles to form the ONE man in Christ has this ability, according to Paul Benson. His argument is not only puerile but downright wishy-washy (R.I.P.).
If, as Paul Benson said, God will never curse Israel, which nation or nations could He have cursed? Was it one of the Gentile nations He cursed? Had it been a Gentile nation, He would have been unrighteous in doing so for several reasons. The first reason is that He could not have cursed one particular Gentile nation without doing the same with all the other Gentile nations. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and will never show favouritism. The second reason is that the cursing of the fig tree took place before his death, burial and resurrection, and of course Pentecost. It follows that He could not have cursed any of the Gentile nations because they had of yet not been given the means and opportunity to produce the fruit God requires for a fruitful life. Was Israel in a position to bring forth the fruit prior to Pentecost? Paul of Tarsus provides the answer in Romans 9 where he speaks about the Olive Tree as an allegory of Israel. It represents the fatness (blessings) Israel enjoyed while they were in the Olive Tree (Romans 9:4-5). Incumbent on Israel’s obedience to the requirements of these blessings, Israel was for centuries in a position to bring forth the fruit, but sadly failed so miserably that God had to curse them. Benson denies that God would curse Israel. What, may we ask then, is this?
Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. (Isaiah 29:9-10).
And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. (Romans 11:9-10).
It reminds of the curse in 2 Thessalonians.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).
These are divinely decreed curses with an intent to prevent them from being saved because the majority of Jews will ultimately choose to follow a false Christ (Antichrist) instead of Jesus Christ, their true and only Messiah (John 5:43). Hence the distinctive and conclusive indictment, “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12). He already forewarned Israel by the mouth of his prophet Malachi that He would curse the land of Israel if they did not repent (Malachi 4:5-6). The King James Bible translates “erets” as “earth. The correct translation is “the land of Canaan, Israel.” Verse 4 supports the latter translation with a reference to Moses’ Law which is thoroughly Jewish, “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements” (Malachi 4:4).
Perhaps you have noticed throughout this series that the best way to refute Paul Benson’s arguments against the Pre-tribulation Rapture is to use his own modus operandi against him. One of the methods he uses in his book is his so-called “ratio of emphasis” theology. On pages 9 and 11 he writes:
I can’t help but notice a trend in today’s preaching that does not mirror a ratio of emphasis we see in the Bible. What I mean by that is: How many times do the Scriptures mention the ‘catching away’ of the Church? Not many. One clear description we find in 1Thessalonians 4 and a few not so clear references to it elsewhere. But the coming Resurrection of the Dead and the transformation of the living Saints, which is going to be such an indescribably awesome phenomenon, is either vividly described or plainly referred to dozens of times in the Bible. It is a theme thoroughly woven into the fabric of Scripture.
So I ask again, why all this modern day focus on the ‘caught up to meet him’ aspect of Christ’s Coming? Does the Bible put the emphasis there? If you stop and think about it the ‘caught away’ part of what we experience that day is relatively minor compared to what we will experience in the Resurrection! How did things get so turned around to the point where a brief journey upwards overshadows what transpires in the Resurrection?
Paul Benson gauges truth and error in terms of how many times or in how many verses or passages a doctrine or teaching appears in comparison to another doctrine or teaching that may not appear so frequently in Scripture. The one sporting the most verses or passages wins the day, whilst the doctrine that appears in lesser verses or passages is set aside and often scorned at for its meagre appearances in God’s Word. Apart from the fact that it is an unbiblical methodology to discern truth from error, it leads one to think, “Why should I believe anything Paul Benson says in his book when he applies a puerile modus operandi to arrive at his fallacious conclusions?” More people are going to hell than heaven. Does that make hell more acceptable than heaven? Has Paul Benson forgotten that we are not supposed to live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, no matter how infrequent it appears in the Bible (Deuteronomy 8:3).
You may recall that in the first part of this series we explored Paul Benson’s belief that Michael the archangel is probably the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 and not the Holy Spirit. What is the most viable possibility if we were to apply Paul Benson’s “ratio of emphasis” tomfooleries? Lo and behold, Benson’s biblical “ratio” mathematics favours the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) as the Restrainer and not Michael the archangel. Michael appears in only five Bible verses whilst the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) graces a whopping 97 verses in Scripture, a whopping 92 times more than Michael the archangel. That says it all, doesn’t it, Mr. Bucket full of holes? (“Montana Redneck”). “Sorry, I could not resist the jab . . . DO you get the significance of that? I mean SERIOUSLY! . . . What a joke that is! Excuse me but I find that quite laughable!” as our anti-Pretribulation, anti-dispensational, anti-truth, anti-just-about-everything-about-the-Pretribulation-Rapture” friend would say.
AND STILL THERE IS NO END TO PAUL BENSON’S TOMFOOLERIES, AS WE SHALL SEE FROM THE REST OF THE ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES. SO, KEEP TUNED AND ENJOY THE PAUL BBB.
Also of your own selves shall men arise [“raptured,” according to Paul Benson’s interpretation of the word “arise” in the Song of songs 2:10-13), speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30).