Jesus, God’s Prophet: His Teaching about the Coming Surprise By Zane C. Hodges. Mesquite, TX: Kerugma, Inc., 2006. 64 pp. Paper, $4.95.
Though short in length, this book makes a profound point. Zane’s point is that the prophetic teaching we find in the NT epistles does not come via the Spirit revealing new truths to the apostles. Rather, it comes from the apostles proclaiming what the Lord Jesus Christ taught. Jesus is God’s prophet. Many give lip service to this. Hodges proclaims it.
But this book implies an even more profound claim: All of the teachings found in the NT epistles find their source in the teachings of the Lord Jesus, including soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, pneumatology, Christology, and theology proper.
The Olivet Discourse is analyzed in this work. Zane focuses on the discourse as it is recorded in Matthew 24–25. He makes the point that this discourse “is the longest uninterrupted prophetic discussion found anywhere in the New Testament outside the book of Revelation” (p. 15).
While most NT scholars do not believe the Rapture is found in the Olivet Discourse, Zane argues persuasively that it is. The Lord’s reference to His coming “as a thief in the night” is shown in this book to be the basis for the use of that expression by Peter (2 Pet 3:10) and Paul (1 Thess 5:4-8). And while there are signs that indicate that the Tribulation is underway (e.g., the abomination of desolation at the midpoint) and that it is ending (seeing the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, Matt 24:30), “‘the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man’ starts without a sign” (p. 25, italics his). While many prophetic teachers point to a myriad of things that they believe prove the Lord will return in our generation, if not in the next year or two, Zane was clear to point out that the Lord made the opposite claim. His coming would start when “when uninterrupted human life is continuing as usual, just as it was before the flood” (p. 24). This is an especially remarkable break from tradition since Zane thought it quite likely, in light of the events surrounding Israel, that the Lord would return in his lifetime. Yet Zane distinguished between what was likely and what was certain due to signs.
Another unique teaching in this book is that the Second Coming takes place over the course of seven years. Many Bible teachers see the Rapture and His setting foot on the Mount of Olives to defeat the armies arrayed against Israel essentially as two Second Comings. Zane sees those as two parts of the same coming: “The term for coming [parousia] does not simply refer to an arrival. It clearly covers a span of time” (p. 25, italics his).
As those of us familiar with his writings have become accustomed, Zane’s discussion of the Parable of the Just and Unjust Servant (Matt 24:45-51) and of the ten virgins (Matt 25:1-13) leaves no important observation left unstated. His discussion is masterful. It is exceeding practical in terms of our daily living until Jesus returns. The notion that Free Grace theology promotes spiritual indolence is laughable for anyone who reads this book (and the other books by Zane Hodges as well).
After challenging the reader to reader to believe in Jesus for everlasting life (p. 63), Hodges writes, “And if you have believed, then stay awake and be fully alert. Don’t allow sinful conduct or spiritual neglect rob you of your readiness to meet Him face to face. You have a splendid promotion ahead of you if you are faithful” (p. 63, italics his).
I highly recommend this book.
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society