In my last blog post, I analyzed the various sermons entitled “The New Israel” that were given at different times and by various leaders from David Jang’s community. In this post, I’ll be walking through another set of documents from the “History Lessons” his community used to give to new members, these with the title “Genealogy of Christ”. In the process, I’m going to need to do a deep dive into some weird corners of eschatology and Biblical numerology, so I have to ask you to bear with me. I really am heading somewhere, and (I think) somewhere important.
To start off, let me briefly describe the six instances of the lesson that I have. They range from 2001 to 2005. Two of them are in German; one is a rough set of Japanese notes, with an English translation; the rest are in English. I received these lessons over two years from four independent sources, sometimes including the same document from different sources.
As befits messages delivered by at least four different speakers, in at least three different locations, times and languages, there are differences between the various documents. But the similarities significantly outweigh the differences, and there is no doubt that they all share a common, well, genealogy. To take just a few examples, they all focus their attention on Matthew’s genealogy of Christ and entirely ignore Luke’s; they all see Matthew’s 14/14/14 generational pattern as critical; they all compare the resulting 42 generations to the 42 months/1260 days of the prophecy in Daniel 12; all but the oldest (critically) describe Jesus’ ministry as fulfilling 1293 of the 1335 “days” mention in Daniel 12:12; and they all strongly imply that the remaining 42 days which Jesus’ ministry left undone will be completed by Jang’s community, if not by Jang himself.
I’m bothering to point all this out to drive home my conviction that the documents taken as a whole genuinely represent a consistent teaching of the community, at least over the years in question.
Obviously, the best way to get a sense of what these documents teach is to go read them yourself, and I encourage every interested reader to do so. But I thought I’d summarize what they have to say, and highlight some of the more, well, interesting theological moves that they make.
Despite their names, the documents that comprise this lesson don’t really focus on the genealogy of Christ in any normal sense, though they do use the 14/14/14 generational scheme of Matthew’s genealogy as a way to introduce the Messianic number 42 (i.e., 14+14+14=42). This is important, because it’s how they connect Matthew’s genealogy to the “1260 days” – i.e., 42 months - of Daniel 12. As 2005b puts it:
Let’s say I am waiting for someone, when is he going to come. When is that time? So Daniel 12, there is this saying, when is Christ going to come. There is an answer to this. It says after 42. The number 42 comes out. When number 42 is all fulfilled, Christ would come. Then, as soon as they read Matthew 1, they are really amazed.
Jesus came after 42 generations. This is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel.
The idea being there, of course, that Daniel 12:7 says the end will come after “a time, times and half a time”, which is widely understood to mean three and a half years, i.e., 42 months. Nor is Jang’s group the first to point out the connection between Matthew’s 14/14/14 schema and Daniel 12:7.
I suspect - though I’m no expert - that Jang’s group is also not the first to make the second theological move: that of connecting the second number of the Daniel 12 prophecy, namely, the “1290” days of 12:11, to Jesus’ life and ministry. If Jesus was born after “1260 days”, and was 30 years old when he began his ministry, then that makes for “1290 days”. As 2004b says:
*1260 - it was Jesus coming to this earth (baby Jesus) and 1260 was fulfilled by his coming
*1290 - was the number (1260 + 30 years later) when Jesus started public ministry – fulfillment of 1290
Moving on, all four documents say that since Jesus’ public ministry lasted for three years, then “1290+3” actually gets us to 1293 days. And that’s important, because it means that Jesus’ ministry actually left another 42 “days” unfulfilled out of the 1335 total days mentioned in Daniel 12:12 (e.g., 1335-1293=42). The Japanese notes (2004a) very helpfully include a diagram:
2005b doesn’t have a diagram, but is working with the same ideas:
1335 days. When was Jesus born? He was born in 1260.
Do you understand? Daniel prophecied that Daniel would come after a time a time and a half. 42. HE came finally. Then how long do you have to go for the temple to be recovered completely.
1335. This was the prophecy of Daniel. If you go up to here then you will be blessed. Don’t you want to be blessed like this. Christ finally came. He lived for 30 years. 30 years of Private life, he lived 33 years. So then what remains is 42.
Their math is as impeccable as their interpretation is implausible, but it’s their next theological move that’s critical.
After introducing this problem of the “missing” 42 years, the 42 years that Jesus was unable to finish, the lessons then make a startling suggestion. Perhaps those 42 years are supposed to be fulfilled by someone else, or some other group. Or maybe even their group.
2005b makes the connection explicit. Although it doesn’t quite say, “We’re the ones that are going to fulfill the missing 42 years,” it leaves no room for doubt as to how it’s going to play out:
The time has come. Actually going around the big circle came back. The time that we have been waiting for has come. We must make this remaining History. What remains? The 42 remains.
The ones who go up to this. Now we have got to look at the History of our Church. It started in 1992. It was a historical time. How old were you. You lived with no thoughts. At that time, it was our spiritual conversion. Really, there were so many spiritual things that happened.
2004b follows the same pattern, but starts by asking a question:
Everyone, who will fulfill the remaining 42 years of history?
And then immediately answers:
This time, right now, this is the time to fulfill this remaining history.
Pastor, taught us what the true life of Jesus Christ was. He taught us that his cross was great victory and not failure. He was the one who testified amazing obedience, sacrifice and love inside of Jesus Christ. And he was the one who let us know that this is the time of emergency. And that there is the history that remains. And the time has come to fulfill this.
I don’t see any way to read those paragraphs except: “Who will fulfill Jesus’ unfinished ministry? Pastor David will!”
This interpretation is confirmed by numerous passages later in the documents, which describe the group’s own (past and future) history in terms of precisely those “missing” 42 years. 2005b says that the “42” self-understanding was revealed over time:
Riught now we are speaking of the 42 year History.
The first 7 years. 1992-2000, for the first seven years, Pastor never spoke of 42, no one would have come. At that time, he only spoke of 7 years. Just go seven more years.
And during those initial seven years, it was the members’ close connection to David Jang that made the difference:
There is this Grace of the HS. Because they were all close to Pastsor. When we are close, when we are away, we lose all our strength.
In 2004b, “Pastor Deborah” described their community’s current status with a reference to the “first 14 years”:
So following Pastor, people who wanted to follow the will of God started to increase, so now our church has become 12 years. So first 14 years is almost over. 2 years remain.
And 2005b uses a typology found commonly amongst the lessons, that of dividing up the 14 years into “stalk, head and fruit”:
Now, among the 42 years, we are going in the 1st of the 14 years. We are going on the 1st of the 14 years. It is stalk head and fruit. Right now, we are going on stage of stalk. We are thankful that we came right now within the first 14 years. Those who go until the 1335 will be blessed. It will be thirty years from now.
So what does all this mean? And what is its significance? Anybody who’s actually made it this far has to know that there are few areas where there is more disagreement amongst Christians, or more creativity and diversity of interpretation, than eschatology. So let’s grant that David Jang’s group has a weird eschatology, and thinks that some obscure apocalyptic numbering scheme refers to them. David Jang himself has said repeatedly that the only real difference between his group and most Christians is in their different understandings of what the end times mean. There are lots of Christian groups with weird eschatologies whose fundamental orthodoxy has never been impugned. Who cares?
Well, for starters, most Christian denominations don’t believe that they are the specific group that is being called upon to initiate the end times; nor am I aware of any that have dated the initiation of said end times to their pastor’s birthday. Against a shifting backdrop of weird eschatologies, that one stands out as particularly notable. And more than that, particularly dangerous. If you want to manipulate impressionable young people, that’s a pretty good way to start.
But even putting that aside for the moment, it’s critical to understand that for Jang’s group, at least in these lessons, eschatology is Christology; and nobody thinks that Christology is a secondary issue. You can get a sense of this just from the great emphasis these lessons place on David Jang, and on his 43rd birthday (October 30, 1992) being the turning point which initiated the final 42 years. But it’s also critical to note that in the group’s reading, the number “42” is inherently Christological. It was 42 generations that have brought about Christ; and it is new 42 years that will anoint a second Christ. 2005a calls this figure the “second coming Jesus”:
What was JS supposed to accomplished? He was supposed to accomplish 1260, 1290 and 1335. all this prophesies in numbers were supposed to be accomplished.
We must know about the second coming Jesus. The 2nd coming son in the continuation of Christ. it is like running a relay.
We first need to know how far the first runner went up to. The second one continues from the point and finishes the race. We need to know how far Jesus went.
If Jesus finished his running, the second son does not need to come. However, he will come to finish what Jesus did not accomplish.
2005c says that “the second Christ” – “der zweite Christus” - will pick up where the first left off:
Wir müssen die Geschichte verstehen.
Es war eine Prophezeihung, aber im bestimmten Punkt dieser Prophezeihung endete Jesus, weil Er umgebracht wurde.
Also in diesem Punkt, in dem Er aufgehört hat, wird der zweite Christus anfangen.
We need to understand the history.
It was a prophecy, but at some point this prophecy stopped referring to Jesus because He was killed.
So at this point where he left off, the second Christ will begin.
This “Christ”, 2005c goes on to say, will emerge from the “New Israel”, which in this context is clearly code for Jang’s community:
Jeder fragt über das zweite Kommen von Christus.
Wie wird es sein?
Wird Er ein Mensch mit langem Bart sein.
Nein, der zweite ist ein Mensch, der das fortführen wird, was Jesus angefangen hat.
Ein Mensch, der die neue Welt öffnet.
Ein Mensch, der mit Neuem Israel ist, der ist Christus.
Der Neue Israel.
Von dort kam Christus.
Everyone asks about the second coming of Christ.
What will it be ?
Will He be a man with a long beard?
No, the second is a man, one who will continue what Jesus started.
A man who opens the new world.
A man who is with the New Israel, this is the Christ.
The New Israel.
From there came Christ.
It is worth pointing out that this is also the fundamental message of other important documents, such as the “Two Stone Tablets” lesson from Borah Lin, which collapses Christology not just into eschatology but also into ecclesiology. This second Christ is the head and center of the renewed Church (i.e., David Jang’s community), which is also the Second Coming.
The first Messiah God sends. God sent him. That is Jesus. He has come. But his own people did not receive him. They rejected him. He will come again. Messiah will come again. This is prophesized. How will the second Messiah come? We need to carve it out like the first one. The second Messiah needs to be made on this earth… The Kingdom of God and the great body of Christ needs to be established and from their Christ will come out. . . Who is that one Christ? The one who started this body of Christ, the one who becomes the center of that body of Christ, becomes the Christ.. . The body that makes the Kingdom of God is the body of Christ. That becomes Christ. That is why we need to make and establish it.
That we need to establish the Kingdom of God is pretty close to heretical, in and of itself. To say that in doing so, we somehow create a “second Messiah” is not pretty close to heresy. It’s heresy, straight up, no shaker. It’s not a pedantic debate over some obscure detail of timing, like those interminable pre- or post-trib debates that haunted my youth. No, this is as fundamental as it gets. In Christianity, there only gets to be one Christ, and that job is already taken.