God has reigned over His creation since the genesis of the human family. His reign will never end. He has reigned throughout eternity, and he will continue to reign after time is no more. He reigned over His people Israel through a mediator, Moses, various judges, and kings.
God’s new Israel, the ekklesia or community of the saints, was not left without God’s rule. He continues to exercise His reign or rule over His people through His Son Jesus. When the New Way was opened or ushered in, He assigned His Son as acting King over His dominion. It was still God the Father who was—and is—reigning, but through His mediator, Jesus, just as He reigned over Old Israel through His mediator, Moses.
I’ll make this matter even clearer. “In the beginning God created the universe and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But in John 1:3, it is stated that creation came about through His Son Jesus. “Through him all things were made.” Yes, God created the universe, but through His Son.
Now the picture is clearer. God reigns over His domain, new Israel, through His Son Jesus. This is why the current kingdom is called the “kingdom of God” or the “kingdom of heaven” in numerous passages throughout the Gospels and other places. The congregation of believers is part of God’s overall rule or kingdom in the universe, and Jesus His Son has been assigned as King. Jesus’ kingship will continue until time is no more. It will be then that He delivers the kingdom of God back to its Owner. To make a distinction between Jesus’ current reign and God’s reign, as Preterists do, is a distinction heaven’s testimony does not endorse.
Let us not forget that Jesus did come in judgment upon the Jewish people in A. D. 67-70, but not visibly and personally. Even His new reign (Acts 2) did not come visibly, as we usually recognize the ushering in of reigns or kingdoms. People saw the results of Jesus’ reign and the results of His arrival when He came in His kingdom, just as they saw the results of His coming in judgment in A. D. 67-70.
Some in Jesus’ day did not taste death until they saw His reign and Him as King, in the sense I’ve described above. Throughout history, God has come or appeared in a diversity of ways, just as Jesus has. But His final, visible, personal advent is still future. The reality is that Jesus’ presence as King over His kingdom or reign occurred, and the results were observed, on Pentecost (Acts 2). But when He makes His final advent, it will be universally noted. No part of it will be hidden, and no part of it will be symbolized!
I have spent countless hours and days and weeks pursuing the A. D. 70 philosophy. I have examined and re-examined, analyzed and re-analyzed, searched and researched this eccentric teaching, and for the life of me I have not be able to adopt it—not because I have a closed mind, not because I’m bent on sitting others straight, not because my mind is set in concrete, but because I consider this persuasion to be biblically faulty, biblically contradictory, and highly defective.
Based upon my experiences with preterists, there is, and has been, a lingering trend among them. It is that every time a passage of scripture appears to conflict with their position, they will run to their jungle of symbolisms and figures of speech and claim, in essence, “the verse does not say what it seems to say!”
Hear me now, please. Preterists cannot harmonize their doctrinal persuasion with a host of scriptures without symbolizing and “spiritualizing” those scriptures! For to take them in their natural format is to toss their persuasion to the wind.
When deciphering scripture, we should design the simplest avenue of communicating our concepts. I’m afraid I cannot say this for the average Preterist. Tell me, did God intend to bewilder us with language essential to our salvation—the second coming, the resurrection, the judgment? I have always felt that in essential matters, God has spoken clearly enough to be understood. Have I been wrong? Must I now resort to many additional years of research to fathom the essentials and understand God’s will for me?
Two thousand years have passed since the new faith was revealed. Are we only now beginning to understand it? No, I cannot accept the idea that the early believers understood the fundamental embodiment of the faith as our 70 A. D. brothers teach today, as it relates to the resurrection and fulfillment of all things. I’m strongly convinced they have concocted and embraced a doctrinal podium that will never stand the test of heaven’s testimony, the scriptures.
In reference to Lazarus who had died, and contemplating the resurrection, Martha, Lazarus’ sister, said to Jesus, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:21-24). Did Martha have in mind the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish State when she spoke of the resurrection “at the last day”?
Although Martha was an intimate friend of Jesus, there’s no record that Jesus ever talked with her, as He did the Twelve, about the pending destruction of Jerusalem—although He might have. It seems Martha referred to a general resurrection at the end of all things, when time shall be no more. However, if Martha’s notion was off-center, would not Jesus have corrected her—in some manner or another?
I need to say an additional word about “temple” in II Thessalonians 2. The idea has been advanced, as noted in a previous feature, that the apostle alluded to the Jewish Temple when he spoke of the apostate system setting himself (itself) “up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (v.4).
Paul would never have referred to the Jewish Temple, for the Jewish Temple at this time was no longer an integral part of God’s new arrangement. The Temple was part of the old arrangement. Consequently, Paul would never have spoken of “temple” in the vein of indicating it was still a viable part of God’s overall plan. For, after all, it was the same Paul who said that Jesus broke down the old arrangement “by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations” (Eph. 2:14-15). The Jewish Temple was no longer part of God’s holy plan when Paul penned those words, so why in heaven’s name would he refer to a Jewish entity that was no longer considered holy by God?
I conclude, therefore, that “temple,”—which, in essence, means a dwelling place—in II Thessalonians 2 means nothing more than that the apostate system and it’s leaders would “set themselves up in God’s place.” Again, there was no widespread falling away from the faith (apostasy) until long after A. D. 70.
I have in my possession John Bray’s “The Man of Sin of Thessalonians 2” and have digested its contents. I’d like to point out what I feel to be John’s weakest points.
John admits there was an apostasy. Then he adds, “The ‘falling away’ could have been that of the Jews falling away from their own faith—the religion which God had given to them” (p. 23). On the same page, he writes, “Paul did not say the apostasy would involve Christians; they are not mentioned here.”
Nor did Paul say the apostasy would involve the Jewish community. This is where the bone rubs, and it is his weakest point in trying to establish that the apostasy occurred prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish State. Here is what we have:
1) The Jewish people had already apostatized, rebelled against God, and fallen from His favor, long before A. D. 67-70. Their apostasy is precisely the reason God brought judgment upon them in 70 A. D. For hundreds of years, they had been rebelling against God—long before the Roman/Jewish war.
2) This being the case, Paul’s message about this matter would have been illogical and senseless had he alluded to an apostasy within the Jewish community. Consequently, the apostasy he referred to must have had reference to the Christian community. But there was no general apostasy involving the Christian community until long after the Roman/Jewish war. When the Roman empire lost its grip upon the then known world, apostasy was quick in developing. That apostasy evolved into the wicked papacy. It exists today, and will continue prevailing until the Lord comes again and brings an end to it.
3) During the upheaval associated with the Jewish calamity, many Jewish criminals, including the wicked John Levi, caused havoc among the Jewish nation, particularly at Jerusalem. Matters all over were in an uproar. God’s terrible judgment was about to be poured out upon His favorite (past) people. But to ascribe all of this to the apostasy Paul foretold, would be missing Paul’s main thrusts.
4) Another weak point in John’s booklet is how he handles the “counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” (1 Thess. 2:9). In fact, he hardly deals—specifically—with these at all (pgs. 40-41). Even Josephus fails to mention anything about “miracles, signs and wonders” occurring with and among the Jewish insurrectionists. However, if I’m correct in believing the papacy is the “man of lawlessness” and the apostasy Paul wrote about, I’ll have no problem establishing “counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” within this satanic system.
For hundreds of years, the papacy has promoted counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders. Even their statues “bleed” and “shed tears!” The “Virgin Mary” has appeared to a number of “Catholic saints.” And I could go on and on about the papacy’s counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders. She is noted for this kind of deceit—all through the centuries.
Some time ago, I received the following question from brother Ed Stevens, a Preterist. He asked about two different returns of Jesus, separated by thousands of years.
The “separation” could be far longer than “thousands of years.” Jesus came in judgment upon the rebellious Jewish nation in A. D. 67-70, during the climax of the Roman/Jewish war. In describing the downfall of the Jewish nation in Matthew, chapter 24, Jesus says of Himself, “They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory” (v. 30).
Jesus here is using figurative or symbolic language to describe His coming in judgment upon the wayward Jews. He announces in the next breath that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things [mentioned in the 24th chapter] have happened” (v. 34). Jesus was not seen personally and literally during the destruction of Jerusalem. The Greek word for “see” is eido, and it means to be aware of, perceive, or have knowledge of. This was how Jesus was observed “coming in the clouds of the sky.”
As to His second personal advent, there are numerous scriptures that point to it. An example among many is when Paul wrote about the resurrection. “But each in his own turn—Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He [personally] comes, those who belong to him. Then the end [of all things temporal], when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power” (1 Cor. 15:23-24).
Obviously, not all dominion, authority, and power have been banished from the world scene, nor temporal things, which means that Jesus has not made His second personal advent yet.
The brother who asked the above question teaches that Jesus’ second, personal coming has already occurred (in 70 A. D.), the resurrection is over, all things have been fulfilled, and death has been abolished.
How do they explain 1 Corinthians 15, which deals extensively with the resurrection? They “spiritualize” it. According to them, Paul is not talking about resurrected physical bodies. The strange thing about this teaching is that it took almost 2,000 years to decipher what Paul was trying to describe! When scripture gets this complicated, look out, for something is moving behind the woodshed! I’m always appreciative of Paul’s remarks on this subject. He wrote, “Their teaching will spread like gangrene...They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17-18).
Preterists affirm that the Old Covenant or Old Age did not end until A. D. 70. However, their position does not seem to harmonize with the divine testimony.
1) When the priesthood changed, the covenants changed. “For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law” (Heb. 7:12).
2) The priesthood changed when Jesus shed His blood and was exalted above the heavens. “Such a high priest [Jesus] meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (v. 26). Jesus was “exalted to the right hand of God” after He was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father (Acts 2:32-33).
3) Jesus was High Priest when He sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1).
4) The disbelieving Jewish people considered the Old Covenant valid and binding long after it ended at the cross. The writer of Hebrews took this into consideration when he wrote that the old legalistic system was aging and “will soon disappear”—insofar as the disbelieving Jewish nation was concerned (Heb. 8:13). Consequently, in that vein and from the standpoint of the disbelieving Jews, there was an unofficial overlapping of the two covenants. But in the eyes of the informed, the old system formally ended at the cross.
5) The New Covenant was in the making when it was dedicated by the blood of Jesus. That was years before A. D. 70 and the destruction of the Jewish Temple. “Even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood” (Heb. 9:18). The shedding of Jesus’ blood ushered in the New Covenant.
The Preterist does not believe the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3 is speaking literally when he writes about our current earth and universe being consumed and destroyed by fire when Jesus returns. For if they were to explain these passages in their natural setting, they would be forced to admit that Jesus has not made His final personal appearance, for the earth and universe are still standing. Consequently, they are forced to explain his words symbolically and assert that Peter is speaking of something other than our natural earth and universe!
Let us not lose sight that Preterists allege that none of the earth’s living creatures will ever again be destroyed by a flood or by fire or by any other means. Consequently, to maintain their view that “the day of the Lord” came in A. D. 70, they must explain Peter’s words symbolically and not naturally. For them to explain his remarks in the natural tongue would be to surrender the nucleus of their doctrinal platform and admit that Jesus has not yet made His final glorious appearance.
According to them, Peter did not say the literal universe and earth will be destroyed, burned up, or laid bare. Instead, Peter spoke symbolically of the Old Law of Moses being dissolved. Yet this same Peter, in verses 5-6, as per Preterists, in speaking of “earth” and “water,” alludes to them in their natural setting! So, it strongly appears we have a “conflict of interest” within the Preterist camp.
So should the new universe and earth in verse 13 be understood literally as well? The verse reads, “But in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” Perhaps the question should be rephrased. If Peter is alluding to the Old Law of Moses in verse 10 instead of to a physical universe and earth being burned up, why would he not be directing his readers to a brand new Law of Moses in verse 13 instead of to a new universe and earth? Well, why not?
So, yes, we may literally believe that God will form a new universe and earth for the righteous. The current universe and earth will be consumed by fire when “the day of the Lord” arrives (v. 10). At that time, with the exception of the living elect, all living creatures will be destroyed. But the Preterist retorts, “Not so! For after the flood God promised, ‘And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done’ ” (Gen. 8:21).
However, 8:21 must be tied in with 9:11, where God says, “Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood.” I accept both statements, not just the one that caters to my conception. Will Preterists do the same? Will they accept 9:11 as strongly as they do 8:21?
Furthermore, in 8:22 the Lord says that “As long as the earth endures” certain things “will never cease.” “As long as the earth endures” does not sound like the earth will endure forever. The words themselves afford a strong presumption that the earth will not have an endless duration. Peter explains the climax in the passages we’ve been discussing. The day will arrive when our current earth and universe will be incinerated and disintegrated, but only when Jesus comes in His final glory.
I do not question the sincerity of most of those who have adopted this teaching. For some strange reason, they have gotten caught up in a philosophy that cannot be authenticated by heaven’s testimony.
Preterists allege that those of us who oppose their conception of “eschatology” lack spiritual discernment. Their opponents “cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Of course, you understand, the only ones who are spiritually enlightened are those who are knowledgeable of and comprehend this doctrine! Well, I say to them: Welcome to the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, for they, too, feel the same way about those who flout their spurious concepts!
Listen up. I have analyzed the 70 A. D. doctrine for years—inside-out, upside down, cross-ways, and straight through—and for the life of me, I cannot agree with it. It is faulty, filled with loopholes, contradictory, unclear, disorderly, and mystifying—to put it mildly.
It seems that in every generation another eerie doctrine surfaces to confuse and discourage believers and further mystify unbelievers. America is pregnant with religious parties in the form of churches, sects, cults, counterfeit philosophies, endless rituals, rigid formalities, and idolatry. And now comes a new “Gospel,” which is gorged with all of the outlandish trimmings that usually accompany bizarre concepts. It will not go away. It will have to be confronted and exposed for what it is—apostasy.