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Matt. xxiv. 29-31:
" Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the
sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and
the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the
heaven shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of
the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of
the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in
the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he
shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and
they shall gather together his elect from the four winds,
from one end of heaven to the other." (Compare Luke xxi.
That those words
point ultimately to the personal advent of Christ and the
final judgment, I have not the least doubt. But the first
question ought to be, What is the direct and primary sense
of the prophecy? Those who have not directed their attention
to prophetic language will be startled if I answer, The
coming of the Lord here announced is his coming in judgment
against Jerusalem—to destroy itself and its temple, and with
them the peculiar standing and privileges of the Jews as the
visible Church of God, and set up " the kingdom of heaven"
(or gospel kingdom) in a manner more palpable and free than
could be done while Jerusalem was yet standing. I say this
application of the words, as their direct and primary sense,
will probably startle those unacquainted with the prophetic
style. But all hesitation on the subject will cease if we
will but allow the Scripture to be its own interpreter. And,
1. Our Lord decides
the sense of his own words, when he says of this entire
prophecy, almost immediately after the words quoted, "
Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS AW AY
TILL ALL THESE THINGS BE FULFILLED."
It is unnecessary
to give references here, as every defence of the
premillennial theory contains this ar0uuient.Matt. xxiv.
34.) Does not this tell us as plainly as words could do it,
that the whole prophecy was meant to apply to the
destruction of Jerusalem? There is but one way of setting
this aside, but how forced it is, must, I think, appear to
every unbiased mind. It is by translating, not " this
generation", but "this nation shall not pass away;" in other
words, the Jewish nation shall survive all the things here
predicted! Nothing but some fancied necessity, arising out
of their view of the prophecy, could have led so many
sensible men to put this gloss upon our Lord's words. Try
the effect of it upon the perfectly parallel announcement in
the previous chapter: " Fill ye up then the measure of your
fathers Wherefore, behold, I send you prophets and wise men
and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and
some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and
persecute from city to city: that upon you may come all the
righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of
righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, whom ye slew
between the temple and the altar. Verily 1 say unto you, All
these things shall come upon this generation " Matt, xxiii.
32, 34-36.) Does not the Lord here mean the then existing
generation of the Israelites? Beyond all question he does;
and if so, what can be plainer than that this is his meaning
in the passage before us?* In this case, the coming of the
Lord here announced is just his figurative coming to "judge"
and destroy Jerusalem, with all the judicial consequences of
that coming. (pp. 434,435)
2. Language equally strong with that of this
prophecy is not only used in a figurative sense, and in a great
variety of cases -- showing that the figurative sense is a fixed and
recognized sense in the prophetic style -- but it is expressly applied
to this very event of the destruction of Jerusalem, where we have
inspired authority for so understanding it." (p. 435-6)
"I think it must now be allowed, that if it can be shown
that our Lord meant nothing else primarily or immediately
but the judicial overthrow of Jerusalem, there is nothing in th
emere grandeur and strength of his language to prevent us taking
that view of it. Now, I have shown, from our Lord's own solemn
declaration, that the generation then existing were to witness the
fulfilment of the whole ; and I have only now further to show that in
other prophecies, which we have inspired authority for applying to the
destruction of Jerusalem, the same prophetic style is employed as
in this prophecy." (p. 437)
"the great and dreadful day of the Lord" can be no other
than what Joel described in identical terms -- the day of Jerusalem's
judicial destruction. When it is said, "The Lord whom ye seek
shall suddenly come to his temple -- but who may abide the day of his
coming?" the prophet refers indeed to Christ's first coming, but
stretches it onwards till after his ascension, and the awful reckoning which he made with the Jewish nation and Church for
rejecting him, by the destruction of their whole state through the
instrumentality of the Romans."
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Review of Brown's Christ's Second Coming: Will it be Premillennial?
"This theory Mr. Brown undertakes to overthrow —that Christ’s second corning
will be for the purpose of closing the dispensation of grace by the final
judgment; and that this corning will not be till after the triumph of
Christianity in the earth by the present economy—the ministration of thie
Spirit, the truth, and the church, directed and controlled by Christ on his
Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Introduction to 1990 reprrint
"It is with great pleasure that I avail myself of the opportunity to write a forward to ....David Brown's "Christ's Second Coming: Will It Be Premillennial?"...this work is widely regarded as 'a classic'....
"Lest it be misunderstood by my endorsement of Brown, I would like to point out on major area of disagreement. This has very little to do with the millennial question, ironic as it may first appear. Brown's approach to Revelation is along the lines of historicism. That is, he sees the prophecies of Revelation as stretching out over the long ages of history. This, of course, helps explain his latter day view of the millennium mentioned above (in that Revelation 20 occurs after Revelation 6-19). My interpretive approach to Revelation, as is evident in each of my three most recent works is that of Preterism. That is, I believe that the judgment chapters of Revelation (Chs. 6- 19) focus almost exclusively on the events associated with the first imperial persecution of Christianity (AD. 64-68), the Roman Civil Wars (AD 68-69), and the destruction of the Temple and Israel (AD. 67- 70).
"Nevertheless, the differences between Brown's historicist approach to Revelation and my preteristic approach has absolutely no bearing on the postmillennial question. Either approach to Revelation could be rejected and postmillennialism would still remain. Postmillennialism is not dependent upon the book on Revelation, whereas premillennialism and dispensationalism very much are....
"Clearly Brown's historicism allows a postmillennial dominion for Christ in earth's history before His Second Advent. So does my preteristic view. Despite the confusion in the minds of some, the issues just mentioned are in two wholly different arenas of debate. The postmillennial question involves a locus of theology: eschatology; the preteristic verses the historicist approach to Revelation involves an interpretive methodology -- to one particular book of the Bible. In other words, I would have desired more access to preterism by Brown that he offers (he does approach a number of prophetic passages as preteristically relevant to the destruction of Jerusalem)."