Biblical Reasons Why We Should
And Practical Suggestions on How We Can
Create Heaven on Earth
Preterists believe New Testament prophesies were fulfilled in the past.
Futurists believe New Testament prophesies will be fulfilled in the future.
Neither position is self-evident. Both sides have to engage in interpretation.
There are two questions: the WHAT and the WHEN:
Jesus was either mistaken about when, or we don't understand His prediction of what.
I am much more willing to say that 100 million Christians in the 20th century have misunderstood the nature of prophetic events than I am to say that Jesus was mistaken about their timing.
"You're just not interpreting the phrase 'this generation' correctly," the futurist says.
Theologians can quibble over the meaning of the Greek word for "generation," genea. Some say "generation" means "race," so either the Jewish race or the human race will not expire before Christ's Coming in power. But can we quibble over the equivalent phrase, "some of you standing here will not die before all these things take place"?
The preterist believes that it's easier to accept the "when" of Jesus and re-interpret the "what" than it is to escape the obvious meaning of the many New Testament statements concerning the timing of prophetic events.
"But how can you say that Matthew 24:29 -- 'the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken' -- has already been fulfilled?
The same way we can say that these prophecies have already been fulfilled:
• Prophesying the fall of Babylon to the Medes in 539 B. C., Isaiah wrote:
Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth with their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light (Isaiah 13:9-10).
• Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall of Edom in terms of de-creation:
And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree (Isaiah 34:4),
• Isaiah’s contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretold the doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much the same way:
“And it will come about in that day,” Declares the Lord GOD, “That I shall make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight” (Amos 8:9).
• Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel, who predicted the destruction of Egypt. God said this through Ezekiel:
“And when I extinguish you, I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, And the moon shall not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you And will set darkness on your land,” Declares the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 32:7-8).
It must be stressed that none of these events "literally" took place. God did not intend anyone to place a literalist construction on these statements. Poetically, however, [and politically] all these things did happen: as far as these wicked nations were concerned, "the lights went out." This is simply figurative language, which would not surprise us at all if we were more familiar with the Bible and appreciative of its literary character.
What Jesus is saying in Matthew 24, therefore, in prophetic [Old Testament] terminology immediately recognizable by his disciples, is that the light of Israel is going to be extinguished; the covenant nation will cease to exist. When the Tribulation is over, old Israel will be gone. (David Chilton, in The Great Tribulation, chapter 2)
Preterists are committed to re-examining all New Testament prophecies in a way that vindicates Christ and the Apostles, who repeatedly said these events were "at hand" and "must shortly come to pass." The way to re-examine them is in light of other Scriptures, particularly the dustier parts of the Old Testament. We must be like the Beareans.
All prophecies about "the Great Tribulation," the antichrist, the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world, and Christ coming in the clouds, already happened. They happened in "the last days" of the Old Covenant, which ended in 70AD when Jerusalem was destroyed.
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