What is preterism? R C Sproul defines preterism as: “Preterism: An eschatological viewpoint that places many or all eschatological events in the past, especially during the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. (R C Sproul, The Last Days according to Jesus, p 228)”
As is true of most theological views, not every preterist agrees on every point. I have chosen for discussion what I thought were the most widely held views by preterists.
This paper will discuss the following:
The Basic Flaw
Is The Kingdom Of God Literal?
Is The Thousand Years Literal Or Figurative?
Was The Prophecy Of Matthew 24 Fulfilled?
“This Generation shall Not Pass…..”.
Contradictions in the Preterist View of Of Daniel’s Prophecies
The New Heaven And New Earth
Appendix: A Question About Ezek. 5:9
THE BASIC FLAW
There is a very basic problem with preterism that should be addressed. In point of fact, this problem is not limited to preterists, but they do carry the problem further than most. That problem centers on how we are to interpret the Bible prophecies of the end times? In fact, let us broaden that question and consider briefly how we are to study the Word of God? Luke, through the Holy Spirit tells us exactly how to study the Word of God when he wrote in Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scripture daily, whether those things were so”. The phrase I would like us to consider is that which tells us that they “searched the scripture“. In other words, in order to determine the truth of Scripture, they did not search out man’s historical records, they searched the Scriptures.
My point is that preterism, by definition, does not base their views on the fulfillment of prophecy on Scripture, they look to man’s historical record which may or may not be accurate. When end time prophecy is finally fulfilled, it will be clear to the generation that sees its fulfillment, that those prophecies are being fulfilled, and they will not rely on man’s records of past events, they will rely on what they see.
But there is another, even more important issue that is at stake here. It is the issue of Satan’s involvement in history in order to promote his own interests. As an example of that I would like to draw the reader’s attention to Dan. 11:1-20. As far as I know, all Bible teachers see this prophecy as having been fulfilled because it “fits” certain historical events. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the prophecies of Dan. 11:1-20 do fit the events of history. But are those events the fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word or are they Satan’s counterfeit of God’s prophecies? Let us consider this passage.
We read in Dan. 10:5, “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphas; His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes are lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude”. Who was this “man”? Let us compare this passage with Rev. 1:13-18 which speaks of “the Son of Man” in verse 13. Note the phrase in Rev. “girt about the papas with a golden girdle” and compare it with Dan. 10:5, “loins were girded with fine gold of Uphas“. Compare also Rev. 1:14 “His eyes were as a flame of fire” with Dan. 10, “his eyes are lamps of fire”. Also compare Rev. 1:15, “His feet like unto the fine brass”, with Dan. 10, “his feet like in colour to polished brass”. And let us also compare Rev. 1:15, “His voice as the sound of many waters” with Dan. 10, ” voice of his words like the voice of a multitude”.
The reader will see that the “Man” who appeared to Daniel, as recorded in Dan. chapter 10 is the same “Man” Who appeared to John as recorded in Rev. 1. If there should be any doubt as to Who this “Son of man” is, Rev. 1:18 puts that doubt to rest, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death”. That Man is, of course, Jesus Christ.
So chapter 10 records Christ speaking to Daniel. We read in verse 13 where Christ said to Daniel, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood Me one and twenty days: but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes came to help Me; and I remained there with the king of Persia”. Michael is of course, the archangel, i.e. a spirit being as opposed to a human being. So this battle was between Christ with His angels, and spirit beings who were His enemies.
Why was this battle fought? We read in verse 14, “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy People in the latter days….”. The battle was fought for three weeks in an attempt to prevent Christ from declaring unto Daniel what shall happen in the latter days. Those events which Christ fought so hard to bring to Daniel are obviously those events recorded in the last two chapters of Daniel, i.e. Chapters 11 and 12.
What is in those chapters that someone fought for three weeks to prevent them from being recorded by Daniel? Verses 1-20 of Dan. 11 are the only prophecies in God ‘s Word that record the events of the 30-40 years leading up to the seventieth week, the middle of which would be the tribulation.
In other words, someone was trying to prevent Daniel from recording the prophecy which would warn an entire generation of the impending tribulation 30-40 years before it will happen. Who is served by this? The antichrist is served. That is to say, the entire generation who will live at the time of the antichrist is warned of his coming to power in the first 20 verses of Dan. 11. But if that generation believes those prophecies have already been fulfilled (which is what is being taught by almost all Bible teachers) they will not be warned. (My paper on Dan.11 proves from Scripture that the first 20 verses are end time prophecies and by definition will be fulfilled at the very end.)
In short, the prophecies of Dan. 11:1-20 may very well fit man’s record of history, but who is served by this? Satan is served by it. Therefore, it is quite possible that Satan arranged counterfeit fulfillments of those prophecies. That is to say, they looked like fulfilled prophecies, but they were not.
The point of this section is, I suppose less about preterism and more about how to study prophecy. If we are seeking God’s truth as written in God’s Word, we must interpret Scripture with Scripture, not by man’s fallible record of history,.
IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LITERAL?
One preterist had this to say about the kingdom, “Christ’s kingdom is here now. Paradise has been restored in Christ (spiritually-speaking).” In other words, because Christ’s kingdom is “spiritual” we need not look for a literal kingdom. This is a key element to the preterist view, and therefore should be considered carefully. Is the kingdom of God spiritual, or is it literal?
We read in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Obviously, this is a spiritual kingdom. That is to say, it has no literal geographic limitations. It is a kingdom in which believers enjoy the spiritual blessings of peace and joy, i.e. it is a spiritual kingdom.
Geographic Limitations Of The Literal Kingdom of God
But as we continue in this study, the reader will see that while it is true that the kingdom of God is indeed spoken of in terms of a spiritual kingdom, that is only half the truth concerning the kingdom of God. And as we all know, half the truth is not truth. So let us continue with a consideration of God’s promise to Israel of a literal land.
We read in Gen. 15:18 of God’s covenant with Abraham and his seed. That verse reads, “In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates'”. Many preterists go to some lengths to prove that this covenant has been fulfilled. I do not believe that they would do that if they did not see this as a literal promise of a literal portion of land. Also, I must conclude that, at least in the minds of some preterists, the land promised is what would be the kingdom of God, if the kingdom were a literal geographic kingdom. The preterist view is that because this covenant has already been fulfilled, there is no reason to conclude that the kingdom of God is a literal geographic area to be seen at some time in the future.
I agree that the covenant of Gen. 15:18 has been fulfilled. Joshua 21:43, reads, “And the Lord gave unto Israel all the Land which He sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein”. That is as clear a statement as one can find in the Bible, i.e. Israel had possessed and dwelled in the land. I Chron. 16:15-18 reads, “Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which He made with Abraham, and of His oath unto Isaac; and hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance'”. The term “a thousand generations” is obviously a figure of speech because even in the millennium there will not be a thousand generations. Further, if we take Dr. E. W. Bullinger’s assessment of the time between which Israel occupied the land (1451 BC) and the time She was carried away captive by the Babylonians (489 BC) there is not much difference between that time and the millennium. In short, I agree that the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled.
But the Abrahamic covenant is not the only promise of land that God made to Israel. That is to say, after the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant of land, God gave a prophecy to Ezekiel concerning the area that Israel will occupy. In fact, this prophecy is even more explicit than the Abrahamic covenant in that it gives not only the boundaries of the land, but it also gives the boundaries of the portion of land that each tribe will occupy. This is not a repeat of the Abrahamic covenant, it was given after the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled. The passage to which I am referring is Ezek. 47.
We read in Ezek. 47:15, “And this shall be the border of the land toward the north side, from the great sea, the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad“. We even have in this verse the added description of the border being “as men go to Zedad”. If literal men (and there is absolutely no reason to assume that they are not literal) go to a literal area, i.e. Zedad (again, there is absolutely no reason to assume that Zedad is not a literal area), obviously the boundaries are literal boundaries. Verses 16-20 describe the borders as literal cities, and literal bodies of water. Therefore, there is every reason, i.e. logical and Scriptural, to conclude that Ezek. 47 records God’s promise of a literal geographic location just as Gen. 15 described a literal land.
Some have argued that the land God promised Israel is a type of heaven, i.e. a metaphor. Let us examine that thought. A metaphor is, of course, a figure of speech. Let me quote from Dr. E. W. Bullinger’s critically acclaimed treatise of figures of speech. He wrote in the introduction, “All language is governed by law: but, in order to increase the power of a word, or the force of an expression, these laws are designedly departed from, and word, and sentences are thrown into and used in new forms, or figures”. Note especially that figures of speech are used to increase the power or force of what is expressed. With that in mind, we must ask, how does the description of boundaries “increase the power or force” of the concept of heaven? In point of fact, the mere mention of boundaries decreases the concept of heaven. Figures of speech are used to enhance a truth, not diminish it. Therefore, logic does not permit the suggestion that the land promised to Israel is a type of heaven. Also, If preterists take Gen. 15:18 literally, why should they not take Ezek. 47 literally?
My point is that the geographic boundaries of Ezek. 47 are literal, and proves that there are geographic constraints, thus proving that while it is true that in one sense the kingdom of God is spiritual, in another sense it is quite literal.
Cast Out Of the Kingdom
We read in Luke 13:28 reads, “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast out“. This verse refers, of course to unbelievers being cast out of the kingdom of God. If they were cast out, obviously they must have, at some time, been in the kingdom of God or they could not have been cast out of it. But the kingdom of God, when used in its spiritual sense has never, and will never, have unbelievers in it and believers cannot be cast out. The only way this makes any sense at all is if one sees the kingdom of God as also referring to a literal geographical area, out of which an unbeliever will be cast.
IS THE 1,000 YEARS LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE?
The term “thousand years” is used six times in Revelation 20. I would like to address first the verses that speak of Satan being bound and then loosed. Rev. 20:2-3, “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season”. Verse 7, “And when the thousand years are expired Satan will be loosed out of his prison”.
Does the Holy Spirit intend for this thousand years to be understood literally or figuratively? The two verses quoted above from Rev. 20 are obviously prophecies of what God will do. Let us consider the reason God would tell us in advance that Satan would be bound and then released. Prophecy is given, in large part, so that when it is fulfilled everyone would know that God determined it to be so. Consider for example, Ezek 20:33-38. This passage tells us that God will gather Israel to be judged as to who will enter the land. But my point is proved in verse 38, “……that ye may know that I am the Lord“. The note in the Companion Bible tells us that this phrase is used 23 times. Let us also consider I Kings 20:28, “And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thy hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord”. My point again, is that prophecy is given and fulfilled so that we might know that the Lord is God.
If God had not told us in advance that Satan would be loosed after a literal thousand years, those living at the time may very well be deceived into believing that Satan had escaped, i.e. that God was powerless to hold him. But if one understands that Satan will be loosed, according to the Word of God, after a specific period of time, i.e. “a thousand years” they will know that his release proves the veracity of the Word and of God Who gave it, and some may not be deceived by Satan.
If, however, we take the term “thousand years” as figurative, i.e. it could be any number of years, then the prophecy has no purpose and no meaning, and Satan will be at an advantage. Figures of speech are used to increase the power or force of what is being expressed. If we take this term as a figure of speech we do just the opposite, i.e. we diminish the power or force of what is being expressed to the point that it becomes meaningless.
I have tried to show that in regard to the two verses that speak of Satan being bound and then loosed for a thousand years, the thousand years must be taken literally. Now let us consider the other four verses that speak of the thousand years.
Verse :4, “……they (those who had not worshipped the beast) lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
Verse:5, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”.
Verse 6, “……they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years”.
Let us consider verse 5, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”. In verse 7 we read that Satan was loosed “when the thousand years are expired”. In verses 8-9 we read what Satan will do after he was loosed, i.e. bring together any army against Jerusalem. Then in verse 10 we read that Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. It is not coincidental, in my opinion, that some of those who will be judged at the great white throne will also be cast into the lake of fire. That is to say, when Satan is finally and eternally conquered by being cast into the lake of fire, so too will those who worshipped the beast be cast into the lake of fire. As I tried to show above, Satan will be cast into it at the end of a literal 1,000 years. The most logical conclusion is that those who worshipped the beast will be cast into the lake of fire at the same time. So we have both Satan and his followers being cast into the lake of fire at the end of a literal thousand years.
We have considered four of the six verses that speak of the thousand years. We have seen that the reason that prophecy is given (so that we might know when it is fulfilled that it was God’s doing) and that reason demands that the thousand years must be understood literally. We have also seen that logic suggests that in verse 5 the thousand years should also be understood as a literal thousand years.
To say that the thousand years in verses 2, 3, 5 and 7 should be understood literally, and interpret the thousand years of verses 4 and 6 as figurative is illogical. In short, the context does not suggest a figurative interpretation of verses 4 and 6.
WAS THE PROPHECY RECORDED IN MATTHEW 24 FULFILLED?
Preterists believe that the prophetic events of Matt. 24 were fulfilled in 70 AD. But the events of 70 AD were not recorded in the Bible. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen, but as will proved in the paragraphs below, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD could not have been from God. That is to say, as mentioned above, Dan. 11:1-20 speak of events not recorded in the Bible but, most insist, fit man’s historic record. But the fact that they fit (assuming that they do), does not prove whether the fulfillments were of Satan or of God. In point of fact, as the paper on this web-site on Daniel 11 proves, the events of verses 1-20 are end time prophecies and therefore the seeming fulfillment in an earlier period cannot be of God. My point is that just because the prophecies seem to have been fulfilled in 70 AD does not prove that 70 AD was not Satan’s counterfeit fulfillments.
The Destruction of Jerusalem
Let me quote from a preterist offering on the inter-net, “…… partial preterism says that Christ came in judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70″. That the destruction of 70 AD was God’s judgment is a widely held preterist view, so let us consider Ezek. 5:9 which will disprove that view. That verse reads, “And I will do in thee (Jerusalem) that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations”. This is a God given promise that He will never again destroy Jerusalem as He had done at the time of the Babylonian destruction. In short, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD could not have been a judgment from God because God had promised that He would never destroy Jerusalem again.
Let us also consider Matt. 24:2 in order to determine if that prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD. “….Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down”. But as we all know, the western wall, also called “the wailing wall” is indeed still standing.
Some have suggested that the western wall was not part of the temple. Strictly speaking that is true, the western wall was part of the retaining wall that surrounded the temple. But I believe a careful study of the phrase in Matt. 24:1 is called for. That phrase is, “for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. The Greek word translated “buildings” in this phrase is “kubia”. It is indeed a very interesting word. It is used eighteen times and is translated “building(s)” six times and “edify” or “edification” twelve times. It is clear that the basic meaning of the word is “edification”. The archaic definition of the English words “edify” and “edification” means “build or construct“. The noun form then is “structure”
In fact, if we look again at Matt. 24:1 I think we may see that definition more clearly. “…..His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the temple”. Note that we do not read that they showed Christ “the temple” but the “buildings of the temple”. In my opinion, because the Greek word is so often translated “edify” or “edification” this indicates the structures of the temple as that is what “edify” means. (I never cease to marvel at how God used the exact word so that we might know exactly what He intended us to understand.)
Let us continue with this phrase “the buildings of the temple” with a consideration of the word “of”. In my opinion it is the Genitive of Relation which the Companion Bible defines as “equivalent to ‘pertaining to’”. In other words, the phrase “the buildings of the Temple” may be understood as ”the structures pertaining to the temple”.
So the Greek word does not tell us that it means a building as we think of a building, but it means a structure. In that case, I believe that, as used in Matt. 24:1, the word includes the retaining wall. And because the retaining wall is still standing, the prophecy of Matt. 24:2 (“there shall not be left here one stone upon another”) was not fulfilled in 70 A.D.
It should be noted however that some archeologists and scholars believe that the wall was not part of the temple, but rather part of a Roman fortress. But as stated above, others believe that the wall was part of the temple. In other words, we have conflicting views of the scholars. That being the case one would need to decide if the prophecy of Matt. 24 was fulfilled in 70 A. D. by Scripture alone, i.e. without the aid of disagreeing archeologists, which I believe is the best way this question should be addressed anyway. What can we learn from the passage in question that would help us determine if it was fulfilled in 70 A. D.?
The scene recorded in Matt. 24 begins with the disciples bringing Christ to the buildings of the temple. As He sat there Christ told the disciples, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down”. And it was that comment that led to the question recorded in Matt. 24:3, “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world (Gr. “aion”, age)?’”
My point is that the question, “what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the age” did not come out of thin air. It came rather from the statement that the temple would be destroyed. What was it about the statement of destruction that led to the question of the end of the age? It was, of course, the prophecy of the destruction of the temple in the end times recorded in Dan. 9:26. That verse reads, “….and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof shall be with a flood”.
So the disciples understood that Christ’s statement of destruction of the temple came from an end time prophecy. And that is what led them to ask about the end times. In short, both the disciples’ question and Christ’s answer concerned the end times. And the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D. was not recorded, but it is a prophecy of the end times.
So again, we have the choice of basing our conclusion as to whether Matt. 24 was fulfilled in 70 A. D. on Scripture which does describe the destruction of the temple, or on an event that is not mentioned in the Word of God. The former is based on what, as believers, we know to be truth, i.e. the Word of God, and the latter is based on the writings of man which we know as human beings to be flawed.
“This Generation Shall Not Pass”
We read in Matthew 24:34, “Verily I say unto you, ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled'”. To what does the phrase “these things” refer? It refers to such things as stated in verse 2, i.e. that the temple buildings will be destroyed. And it also includes the signs of Christ’s coming, i.e. “the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (vs. 29).
The preterist position is that these things were fulfilled in 70 AD, and that that generation did not pass until those things were fulfilled. But, as we have seen in the section above, the prophecy of Matt. 24:2, i.e.,”There shall not be left here one stone upon another”, was not fulfilled in 70 AD, or any other year.
But what about our Lord’s statement that that “generation shall not pass until those things be fulfilled”? Actually, there are a number of statements made by Christ that fall into the same category. That is to say, some of the prophecies our Lord pronounced were not fulfilled at the time given or implied. For example, we read in Matt. 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand‘”. What does it mean to be “at hand”. The Greek word translated “at hand” in Matt. 4:17 is usually translated “draw nigh”, “at hand”, “approacheth”, came near”. This was not fulfilled in the time implied.
If we are to find the answer to the question as to why these prophecies were not fulfilled from Scripture, we must consider Eph. 3:9 which reads, “the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ”. As the paper on this web-site on the dispensation of the mystery will prove from Scripture, that mystery is, in part, that nations will be “together bodies”. What does that mean? It means that instead of Israel being separated from all other nations unto God, all nations are now the same in God’s sight. We read in I King 8:53, “For Thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be Thine inheritance….”. And in Lev. 20:24, “……I am the Lord your God Which hath separated you from the people”. In other words, part of the mystery hid in God was that Israel was no longer a separated nation, all nations were “together bodies”, i.e. the same. Obviously, in order for all nations to be the same in God’s sight, Israel must be set aside as His chosen nation. I believe this is exactly what happened at Acts 28. (Please see the paper on this web-site When Did The Church Begin? for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.)
So Israel was set aside as God’s chosen people. And when that happened the prophecies concerning Israel temporarily ceased, until Israel will be taken back.
Let us consider this intervening dispensation in terms of Matt. 24:34, i.e. “This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled”. If Israel had not rejected Her risen Messiah during the Acts period, She would not have been set aside. If she had not been set aside the prophecies concerning Her would not have been put in abeyance. If the prophecies had not been put in abeyance, that generation to which Christ spoke those words would indeed have seen the fulfillment of the prophecies of Matt. 24 and all other end time prophecies. But Israel was put aside and the prophetic clock did stop and the prophecy of Matt. 24:34 cannot be fulfilled during the life of those to whom Christ spoke..
But why did Christ say what He did? I suggest that our Lord chose to not know of the dispensation of the mystery. That is to say, except for the intervening dispensation of the mystery that was hid in God at the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, the kingdom was at hand and the generation that lived at that time would not have passed before the things of Matt. 24 had been fulfilled.
Some might object that Christ is God and therefore knew everything. It is true that Christ is God, but we read of other things that God chooses to forget, or not know. We read in Is. 43:25, “I, even I am He That blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” And Jer. 31:34, “……for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”. Surely, if God can choose to forget sins He can choose to not know other things. And we read in Mark 13:32, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”. This is Christ’s own words telling us that He did not know the day or the hour of His return. Here again, Christ chose to not know.
I believe that far from demeaning the deity of Christ it helps to prove it. That is to say, as God, Christ knew and knows everything. But only God can choose to not know something. Man may not recall something, but he cannot choose to not know something he knew at one time.
CONTRADICTIONS IN THE PRETERIST VIEW OF DANIEL’S PROPHECIES
Before we consider the preterist view of Dan. 7 let us review a little of what the preterist view is. Preterists believe that end time prophecy, including the tribulation, was fulfilled in the first century, primarily in 70 AD. They believe that the kingdom of God is spiritual and not literal.
Let me quote preterist Mark Coleman. He wrote, that the “everlasting kingdom” (i.e., the church”) was “established in the days of the Roman empire” (and) “began when Jesus ascended to heaven”.
Now let us come back to Daniel 7. Mr. Coleman suggests (and I believe this is a widely held view by preterists) that the little horn, i.e. the antichrist, is Rome, and that Dan. 7:9-10 describes the destruction of Rome. Most historians put the destruction of Rome in the fourth century AD. That means that Rome, believed to be the antichrist and active during the tribulation, was active after the establishment of the “everlasting kingdom”, i.e. the church. But we read in Scripture that the antichrist will make war against “the saints”.Consider for example, Dan. 7:21, “I beheld and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them”. And we read in verse 25, “and he …….shall wear out the saints of the Most High….”. The “saints” are, of course believers, and as such are/will be, part of the everlasting kingdom, i.e. the church. wherein there is “peace” (see Rom. 14:17). There is a contradiction here. That is to say, there is no peace in the everlasting kingdom while the antichrist, i.e. Rome is making war against those in the kingdom. Let me put this in other terms.
Rome, according to preterists, was the antichrist, but Rome was not destroyed until some three hundred years after the “everlasting kingdom, i.e. the church, began at the ascension of Christ. We know from Scripture that the antichrist will persecute saints. That means that saints who are supposed to be blessed with “peace and joy” in the kingdom of God (Rom. 14:17) will be persecuted. There is a contradiction here. That is to say, if the “everlasting kingdom, i.e. the church” is spiritual only, (i.e. not literal also) you have the antichrist persecuting saints in the everlasting kingdom making “peace and joy” impossible.
I will, once again, quote preterist Mark Copeland who wrote in regard to Dan. 8, That “the time of the end refers to the closing days of God’s dealings with Israel as His covenant nation”. Preterists believe that the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was from God, i.e. that it was God’s judgment of Israel, and that destruction ended God’s “dealing with Israel”. But, as quoted above, Ezek. 5:9 records God’s promise that He would never again destroy Jerusalem. In other words, the destruction of 70 AD was not from God, and therefore cannot be God’s judgment.
But let us continue with Dan. 8. We are told in verse 17 that, “at the time of the end shall be the vision”. In other words, this is an end time prophecy. Preterists believe that the end times were completed in the first century AD. Now let us consider Dan. 8:7 and 22 which speak of a broken horn. Mr. Coleman wrote that “The broken horn likely refers to Alexander the Great”. And therein lies another error in the preterist view.
The preterist view is that the end times were completed in the first century AD. But Alexander the Great lived in the fourth century BC, which means that the end times began about three hundred years before the first century. Could the term “end times” include a period of several hundred years? The answer to that question is found in how the Holy Spirit uses the terms “end times” and “latter days”.
The term “end times” is used in a much different way than is the term “latter days”. The term “latter days” is sometimes used to refer to a very long period of time, but the term “end times” is always used to refer to the very end of something. For example we read in Gen. 49:1 of Jacob blessing his twelve sons, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. In regard to Simeon and Levi, we read “I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel” (verse 7). This prophecy was fulfilled in Josh.19:1. (See also I Chron. 4:39-43.) But in verses 9-12 we read of Judah’s blessing which concerns the millennial reign of Christ, or in the preterist view in the first century AD (either way, it is centuries after what is recorded in Josh. 19:1). Note verse 10, “the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be”. It is because of these two prophecies which cover the Old Testament history of Israel and beyond, that I agree with the note in the Companion Bible which reads, “A study of these (the blessings of this chapter) will show that the prophecy and blessings extend to, and embrace the days of Messiah and His first and second advents“.
My point is that the term “latter days” can, and sometimes does, refer to a very long period of time.
But the term “end times” is always used of the very end of something. As we consider the Hebrew word used in the term “end times” we will see that this is how the word is used by the Holy Spirit.
Gen. 8:6, “at the end of 40 days…” of rain.
Ex. 12:41, “at the end of 420 years….all the hosts of the Lord went out of Egypt.
Deut. 9:11, “at the end of 40 days…”.
Deut. 15:1 and 31:10 we read, “at the end of every seven years…”.
Skipping now to the prophets who use this Hebrew word, we read in Is. 23:15, “after the end of 70 years…”
Jer. 34:17, “at the end of 7 years…”
Ezek. 29:13, “at the end of 40 years…”.
It is clear from how it is used that the word translated “end” can only mean the very end of a specific period. It is never used of a prolonged period of time, as is the term “latter days”.
My point is that Daniel 8 cannot include the several hundred years from Alexander the Great to the first century AD because that is not how the term “end times” is used in God’s Word.
THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH
I will quote from Edward Stevens, who wrote, “Old Heavens and Earth Have Passed Away and the New Heavens and Earth Are Here ( Matt. 5:17-20) – Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Have “heaven and earth” passed away? If not, are we still observing every jot and tittle of the Law? If the “heaven and earth” Jesus spoke of in this text still exists, then we are under obligation to both keep and teach it. But if the old heavens and earth have passed away, then the Law is no longer binding. ……….But, the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 swept away the binding aspects of the old covenant (the old heavens and earth). A new heavens and earth (the kingdom) replaced those things (see Heb. 12:27,28). The priesthood, temple, sacrifices and law were changed into their spiritual counterparts (Heb. 7:12). We don’t live under the Law now, because the better spiritual things of the new heavens and earth are here”.
Let us consider this sentence from Mr. Stevens, “the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 swept away the binding aspects of the old covenant (the old heavens and earth). A new heavens and earth (the kingdom) replaced those things….”. As mentioned several times in this paper, the destruction of 70 AD was not from God because God had promised in Ezek. 5:9 that He would never again destroy Jerusalem after the destruction by the Babylonians. Only God could have “swept away the binding aspects of the old covenant”, and because we know that God did not destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD we must conclude that that destruction had nothing to do with sweeping away the old covenant. Because the old covenant was not swept away in 70 AD, the new heavens and new earth did not replace the present heavens and earth, or come into existence, at 70 AD.
In the interest of being thorough in our search for the truth in this matter let us consider the passage (i.e. Heb. 12:27-28) that Mr. Stevens gave to prove his point that the old covenant had been removed.
Heb. 12:27-28 reads, “And this word, ‘Yet once more’, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”.
What are “those things that are shaken” which is the subject of this passage. The Greek word translated “shaken” in this passage is also found in Matt. 27:51 and 28:2. The phrase that uses the Greek word translated “shaken” in Matt. 27:51 reads, “and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent”. And in Matt. 28:2 the word is used in the phrase, “and there was a great earthquake“. Verses 25-26 are also helpful, “See that ye refuse not Him That speaketh. for if they escaped not who refused Him That spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him That speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth; but now He hath promised saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven”.
Let me try to bring this together. The passage Mr. Stevens suggested to prove that the old covenant had been swept away in 70 AD could not refer to the old covenant because only God could “sweep away” the old covenant, and God did not destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD. Heb. 12 refers to the literal earth that will be replaced.
APPENDIX: A QUESTION ABOUT EZEKIEL 5:9
Ezek. 5:9 reads, “And I will do in thee (Jerusalem) that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of the abominations”. The NASB has, “….I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again”. This comes in the context of God explaining that He is going to use the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem. Note the phrase “the like of which I will never do again”. “Like” is a comparative. We must ask, therefore, if God is saying that He will not destroy Jerusalem again, i.e. “the like of which” He will never do again, or is He saying He will not destroy Jerusalem again to the extent that the Babylonians will destroy it?
This is a difficult question to answer. It is, of course, tempting for the preterist to conclude one thing based on his preexisting views, and the dispensationalist to conclude another based on his preexisting views. But my prayer is that we might approach this question with an eye to discovering God’s truth. How then can we determine what this verse in Ezekiel is telling us?
I believe that we must have a full understand of God’s attitude, if you will, about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. I believe that will help us determined if Ezekiel 5:9 is meant as a comfort to Israel, or as a warning of a future disaster beyond the Babylonian destruction?
As mentioned in the body of this paper, the note in the Companion Bible tells us of 23 times that prophecy will be fulfilled in order that Israel will know that Jehovah is God. So yes, this was a terrible judgment on a nation that had sinned grievously. But it was also a message to the nation that God loved that He is their God and as the warnings come to fruition when Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians, they will see that and hopefully turn to Him. In other words, it is a punishment, but it is also an attempt to bring Israel back to Him, because He loves them.
I would like to quote several passages that give an account of God’s coming judgment of Jerusalem and is immediately followed by God’s comfort to Israel. Let us consider, for example, Ezek. 16:59-63 which reads, “For thus saith the Lord God; ‘I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant. Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant……”.
This is a truly poignant passage. It tells us that God will punish Israel, but it also comforts Israel by reminding them that they are God’s covenant people and He will not abandon them forever.
There is another such comforting passage in Ezek. 36:3-11, “Therefore prophecy and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord God; ‘Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen…….Surely in the fire of My jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen….which have appointed My land into their possession……. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; ‘I have lifted up Mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches. and yield your fruit to My People Israel….for behold I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings, and ye shall know that I am the Lord”.
In this passage God comforts His People that He is about to visit catastrophe upon with the promise that He will be “for” them as He was before, and that they will prosper again.
Let us also consider Ezek. chapter 11. Verses 5-11 record the prophecy of doom and destruction, but let us also consider verses 16-17, “Therefore say, ‘Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come'”.
In this passage God promised to be a “little sanctuary” for Israel even while they are in captivity. That must have been a true comfort for the people at the time.
Ezek. 14 is yet another passage wherein is recorded God’s punishment of Israel for their sins, immediately followed by His comfort to them. We read in Ezek. 14:21-23, “For thus saith the Lord God, ‘How much more when I send My four sore judgments upon Jerusalem…..Yet, behold therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold they shall come forth unto you……. and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem..…And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings……”.
Ezek. 16:55 is another passage of encouragement and comfort, “When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughter shall return to your former estate”.
Because there are no passages in Ezekiel that warn of a future destruction and/or punishment of Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction, and there are several passages with which God comforted Israel, I suggest that Ezekiel 5:9 also falls under the existing category of comfort and encouragement, rather than the non-existing category of warning of future punishments only.
Therefore, we must, in my opinion, conclude that Ezek. 5:9 is not a warning that God will destroy Jerusalem in a different manner or to a different degree than the Babylonian destruction. It is a promise of comfort that God will never again destroy Jerusalem.
Some will say that God warned Israel in Matt. 24:3, the parable of the wedding supper of the king’s son recorded in Matt. 25, and in Luke 21 that He would destroy Jerusalem. But the paper on those passages called The Nonevents Of 70 AD presents the Scriptural evidence that the destruction of 70 AD was not in fulfillment of any of those prophecies, but are end time prophecies and, as such, have not been fulfilled.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at:firstname.lastname@example.org