BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
David S. Clark -The Message From Patmos: A Postmillennial Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1921) "This early twentieth-century Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of Christian bookstores. "
By Kate Scot-Byron
The Disappointment of Preterism
Has anyone ever looked at you as if you suddenly grew an extra, rather peculiar-looking head? That's the look I often get when I tell some fellow Christians that most of the prophecies they so closely associate with the end of the world have already been fulfilled, in the 1st Century AD, culminating with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD. This position is known as partial preterism. * Partial preterists are almost invariably, by definition, either amillenial or postmillenial.
“I'm sorry,” I have to say; “I know it’s disappointing, but Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, most of Revelation and any number of others—have nothing to do with the Second Coming of Christ.” I'm prepared for the response—even that I'm somehow not a real, “born-again” Christian—and am not offended. I know how hard it is to accept; I've been there.
“But the Bible says... ‘What will be the sign of Your Coming, and of the end of the world?’ It says...” and so on. I know what it says. I know what my Lord said:“This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:32)
Far from being a member of some isolated far-out cult interpreting Scripture from an unknown, innovative preconceived perspective, I'm a Presbyterian, and as orthodox as any other evangelical Christian. Preterists are a large group within the Christian church, and have existed as long as Christianity. Many well-known, well-respected leaders and teachers of the Church have been amillenial or postmillenial, and many have been partial preterists as well.
The Tardy Fig Leaf
I was, as were a great many “evangelical” Christians, taught and convinced, when I was much younger, that since Matthew 24 and the other presumed “eschatological” passages must be about the Second Coming, that the generation Christ talked about was the “generation of the fig leaf,” a particularly premillenial interpretation of Matthew 24:32-33, Luke 21:29-30, and Mark 13:28-29. I was taught this as a fact: It must be the generation that saw the founding of the secular nation of Israel.
Needless to say, I no longer believe it. To those of you who may be incredulously wondering—yes, that means I don't believe in a future Great Tribulation, Antichrist, "Rapture," or even that Christians are going to have 666 tattooed on their foreheads.
A generation is about forty years, plus or minus... well, plus or minus what? It's now 1997. How long, I wonder, are Christians going to hold their breaths, refusing to “polish brass on a sinking ship?” It's become obvious that time has run out and the assumption made about “the fig leaf generation” was just plain wrong. Far from admitting something must be wrong with the interpretation, premillenial Christians still insist the events are future —and probably pretty close. It's understandable—those who love Christ are eager to see Him. It must be very hard—impossible, it seems, for some—after so long anticipating the fulfillment of Scripture, particularly when they have been so convinced of premillenialism that it's become part of their very identity.
The fact that almost every generation of those who take a premillenial position assume theirs is the “terminal generation” has never deterred them from pointing to this or that “sign of the end,” only to have to postpone their expectations every time. Then they remind each other that, after all, no one really knows when it’s coming. After all the excitement and expectation this time, with Israel becoming a nation and all—I bowed out of the system rather a long time ago, and missed most of it, thank God—it must be very disappointing. There was a lot hanging on that “fig leaf!”
The Terminal Generation
“Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” (Mark 13:30) Which generation was Jesus talking about? The obvious one would be: the one living at the time He said it.
The only reason I ever rejected the plain, evident teaching of Christ in these passages is because, as an impressionable young person dependent on my teachers, I was convinced it had to be about the end of the world—and so, it was easy enough to believe “this generation” was future. And if the “Olivet Discourse” is about the end of the world, it necessarily must be. To admit even to the possibility that it wasn't was made actually heretical—the strange fire of some cult, perhaps.
Writers of popular books on prophecy always made a point of sniffing contemptuously at the “outdated” notions of amillenialists and postmillenialists, and asserted off-handedly that real Christians didn't even consider such nonsense. Premillenial preachers, teachers and laymen echoed the sentiment. (So much for John Calvin, Lorraine Boettner, Benjamin Warfield, and scores of other careful scholars right down through the centuries.)
Young Christians were not—and in most cases still are not—even taught about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as if it is totally irrelevant to the Christian. It doesn’t, in their lights, after all have anything to do with the important stuff: the end of the world. I never once heard about the destruction of Jerusalem, one of the most cataclysmic events in world history, never mind prophecy, from any premillenial teacher. In mainstream premillenialism, it is not only discounted, but deliberately ignored.
The Crazy Quilt of Premillenialism
Well, I’m no smarter than anyone else, and clung to the system tooth and nail anyway, figuring it would all work out somehow—until I read a book written by a preterist. It only took one. All the writer had to say was something like, “You know why it sounds like Jesus was talking about His own generation? Because He was.” And I said, “Oh.”
After a good, hard look at Scripture and history, I did detect a whiff of strange fire—and I had been burning it, along with many who were taken in by a wayward, and historically new, epistemology known as dispensationalism—a contradiction not only to Reformed doctrine but to the Cross itself. I’m aware that many premillenial Christians have abandoned dispensationalism, or never fully subscribed to it. But most of the modern premillenial system was developed by dispensationalists, and it would do Christians well to take a new look at Scripture to see what’s actually there, and not simply accept others’ teaching.
To take a new look at Scripture and be willing to accept a different interpretation takes courage. But remember, the Scriptures will survive scrutiny, and God doesn't punish anyone who searches for His truth and is willing to change if it's found.
Our Lord's teaching being true, it was, of course, not enough for me to simply shake off the dust of dispensationalism, leaving an empty room for more demons to cook up doctrines. “That we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)
We're called to truth, even if that means giving up cherished doctrines—and my goal is not to condemn or condescend, but to plead with the brethren to seek for truth, no matter how much it hurts. And where is truth?
The Search for Truth
Of course, the key to open the door to truth is in our hands: the Scriptures themselves —all of them, as a whole. True Reformed Christians don't carry—or should be ashamed of themselves if they do—little pocket New Testaments or paraphrased translations. (When I became a Christian, at seventeen, I was given a slick new “cool” copy of a book called Come Alive! or some such. It turned out to be the Living New Testament, complete with “relevant” photographs and captions and little “tips” for new Christians. Considering that you could get a new, complete, real Bible with a concordance for maybe a dollar, it speaks volumes about the mind-set of the dispensationalist.) A really good idea for anyone interested in truth, including the truth of Biblical prophecy, is to read the Bible. Not the notes, but the Word Itself.
It's perfectly legitimate and desirable to use the scholarship of others when studying the Bible. Part of the dispensationalist, pietistic plague on this generation is an unbiblical anti-intellectualism and anti-creedalism—one of the very reasons that errors such as dispensationalism make such easy inroads (2 Peter 3:16). The tendency of intellectuals and theologians to be rigid or unloving is no excuse to denigrate scholarship, as I have heard so many Christians, who ought to know better, do. There is no greater virtue in being loving than in being doctrinally sound; the two are not mutually exclusive. The intellectual should be called to repent of being unloving, not to cease his study.
There is also no excuse for a Christian of normal intelligence to be deliberately ignorant. We have to be prepared to “search the Scriptures to see if these things be so.” This means more than looking up a text quoted and agreeing or disagreeing with the author that it fits a presumed system. It means knowing the entire Bible, rather than simply reciting the same verses, often taken out of context, to “prove” a system. (I mentioned the story of Ehud to an “evangelical” pastor once, and was met with a blank expression—he obviously had no idea what I was talking about; it was that “Old Testament stuff.”) Let’s make sure we’re believing Scripture itself rather than doctrines of men “proved” by Scripture.
The Legacy of Captain Midnight
How pathetically easy has it been for the pop-prophecy gurus—may they repent and bite off their tongues at the same time!—to take the symbols and poetry of Scripture and turn them into anything that suits their theme: killer bees, tanks, nuclear weapons, Russians and Chinese soldiers and 666 tattooed on everyone’s foreheads. The willingness of sincere Christians to continue to turn back to these men and their writings time and time again is simply tragic.
A word to the writers of popular apocalyptic trade-size books: Toss a Scripture verse into the air and use whatever comes down! Write a book, sell a few hundred thousand copies, then take the money to the bank, boys—and when the killer bees and Chinese troops don't come when they were supposed to, fade off into the distance; you can certainly afford to! Then leave the poor gullible Christians with egg on their faces, the name of Christ ridiculed to the world again—not because of His Word, which would be honorable mockery, but because of yours, which is only humiliating. A pox on you!
Ignorance of the Old Testament, particularly its consistent prophetic and poetic language and symbols, leaves Christians vulnerable to those who would offer to scratch their itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4), unable to interpret the New Testament rightly, especially prophecy. Locusts don't equal killer bees or jets loaded with nuclear bombs just because there are such things as killer bees and bombers and it fits with the premillenial assumption that the world is about to end. The Captain Midnights who deceive the Church with their prophecy decoder books and “prophecy clocks” ticking away at 11:59 run the risk of the same judgment as any false prophet. These men confidently twist and add to the word of Scripture without shame or a backward glance of apology at the travesty they leave behind them. I don’t want to be anywhere close to them at the Judgment!
The "Sin" of "Spiritualizing"
Too many “students” of prophecy pick and choose, capriciously, which passages they'll take figuratively (those that fit their system) and those they insist be taken literally (if it works better that way). Thus we have, for instance, those who turn the plain sense of Daniel's 70th week, clearly already fulfilled exactly on time, or Christ's words concerning “this generation”—again, fulfilled, right on the dot—into a mysterious, unprecedented “parenthesis in history” and “the generation of the fig leaf,” upon no other basis than that it fits the system of premillenial eschatology. Somebody made it up. There are no kinder words to use. At the same time these very same people look askance upon those who suggest that stars will not literally fall to the earth nor blood be up to horses necks, accusing us of “spiritualizing!” (As if spiritualizing something from the Bible is a sin!) If the invention of this "Church Age Parenthesis," simply because what they expect hasn't happened, isn't "spiritualizing," then I don't know what is.
In fact the preterist is far less likely to “spiritualize” than the premillenialist, much more willing to let Scripture say what it says. The “whole counsel of God” doesn’t mean taking isolated verses from the whole Bible and stringing them together to support preconceived interpretations. Is there a Biblical basis for thousands of years between the 69th and 70th week? Sorry, can’t think of a single one. Is there Biblical basis for the stars falling and the moon being darkened as figurative language for God’s judgment? Plenty. (Start with Joel 2:28, which Peter quoted in Acts 2:17-21 to show that the prophecy was being fulfilled as he spoke, at the time of Pentecost, not at the end of the world.)
The Translation Pool
Translators often bring their own bias into their interpretations, confusing the issue even further, as the non-intellectuals among us are dependent upon them. A caution: Investigate your translations not on beauty or easy readability but on accuracy!
A ready, and important, example is Matthew 24:30. Modern translations, because of the premillenial bias of the translators, invariably render it: “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.” Is that what it says in the original Greek? It does not, and there is no excuse for such sloppy scholarship. We ought all to be insulted, because the translators, who are supposed to be bringing us the Word of God as closely as they can to the original, change the entire meaning of the verse, because they make an assumption.
Say all you like against the King James, but they got it right: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” The Greek grammar says it is the Son of Man who is in heaven, not the sign. [Remember another Coming: “...and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days...” (Daniel 7:13) At the Ascension, Christ came with the clouds to Heaven, where He will sit at the right hand of the Father, until He makes His enemies a footstool for His feet, the last enemy being Death—not a thousand years before! ]
The sign that the Son of Man was sitting at the right hand of the Father and had begun His reign in heaven, the fulfillment of the Old and beginning of the New Covenant, was the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of the Temple sacrifices. [No matter how much you want to believe there will be a new Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus said, “Do you see all these things? ...Not one stone here will be left on another” (Matthew 24:2). Those stones were thrown down, not one standing upon another. The Temple Christ referred to in this chapter is gone. The very stones are gone. The Israelis can put up a dozen, but they can't rebuild that one to have it destroyed again.
"His Terrible, Swift Sword"
When I was, by God's grace only, able to see the fulfillment of the prophecies in history, and the orderly, logical progression of Scripture, Scripture suddenly started making more sense—and not just the so-called eschatological passages, but all of it. There is no thrill greater than seeing Scripture in a new light, seeing the true pieces naturally and rationally fall into place, rather than wedged in willy-nilly to fit human desire to have the story end the way they want. Knowing that most of the prophecies are fulfilled doesn’t make Scripture any less relevant to modern readers! Believe me, God's glory shines all the brighter as we see how He keeps not only His judgments but His promises.
In the “Olivet Discourse,” Christ warns His disciples not to be deceived if anyone said, “Here is Christ”—not to believe it. Why? Because He wasn't physically coming at that time. He was, and is, sitting at the right hand of the Father. He was coming in the clouds in judgment upon that generation, as God through the ages has come in the Glory-cloud in judgment or visitation upon men. (Gen. 15:17; Ex. 13:21-22; Ps. 18:8-14; Ezek. 32:7-8; etc.) There will be a Second Coming of Christ at the end of history, and the Resurrection and the Final Judgment. But that wasn't what Jesus was talking about in the “Olivet Discourse.” These last days were the last days of apostate Israel, the end of the age. The Scripture of the New Covenant was completed with the Book of Revelation, and it was time to pour the new wine into the new wineskin—and to tread on the grapes of wrath.
It IS Finished!
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. His redemptive work for His people—all of His people—was finished. He’s not coming again as a special favor to the Jews, or to personally lead the Jews in some way He won’t for the rest of us—He doesn’t have to. Any converted Jews have the same Scripture we have. The Jews aren’t going to reign over the rest of us as some kind of “super-Christians.”
The Jews will, yes, be grafted back into the Body (Romans 11), and will be a blessing to the Church, but as a nation they have to wait until the“fullness of the gentiles be come in.” The first will be last. They will be incorporated into the Church, the true Israel. They’ll be brought back to where they were supposed to be—with us.
The Jews do NOT practice "Old Testament religion;" they are NOT almost Christians, lacking only acceptance of the Messiah and the New Testament. They do NOT worship the true God, not even the “God of the Old Testament”—how can they, if they reject Christ? Jesus was quite adamant: If they had believed Moses, they would believe Him. (John 5:46-47) They don’t believe the Old Testament either. The religion of Judaism is a Talmudic faith, not Biblical. Those who support, as the majority of premillenialists do, the secular nation of Israel at this time, simply because they are Jews and the premillenial system relies on Israel as a pivotal aspect of itself, give succor to apostates and enemies of Christ, and actually encourage them in their unbelief.
It’s jealousy of the salvation of the Christians that will ultimately turn the Jews to Christ. (Romans 11:11) Israel shouldn’t be given support by the Church simply because it is a Jewish nation; it should be called to repentance along with the rest of the world.
65, 66, 67, 68, 69...69...69...69....
There is always a last-ditch effort by premillenialists who see the truth that prophecy was fulfilled historically: the "double-fulfillment." A bone in the throat of the “double- fulfillment” stratagem is Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9).
Daniel's 70th week, if taken in sensible, chronological order, ends in the first-century, with the generation alive at the time of the crucifixion of Christ until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It goes so far as to say, “...the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary...” Titus, the Roman general who commanded the army that destroyed the city and the sanctuary, was the son of the Emperor Vespasian, who not long afterward became Emperor himself. Could the Scripture be more painfully specific?
It's a wonder to me how people can give up the simple concept that the number immediately following 69 is 70, without any space between. I used to be staunchly premillenial, and I still don't understand how I was so willing to overlook this stunning fact. They disregard or minimize the cataclysmic events that happened at the time the 70th week would naturally and chronologically take place. Instead, in order to keep the system intact, they’re willing to believe in the very weird—and wholly speculative—proposition that, after everything else in Daniel’s detailed prophecy happened in precise, chronological order, right down to the naming of names, God stuck a parenthesis around thousands of years between the 69th and 70th weeks, and didn't even tell us He was doing it. They say that everything that already happened in such specific detail is all going to somehow happen again, for “real” this time!
If a woman's husband, whom she trusted, promised that seven weeks from this Sunday he was going to take her on a wonderful tropical vaction, and then on the Sunday of the seventh week instead of taking her to the airport took her into the back yard for a pretty good barbecue, leaving it to her to figure out that the “seventh week” wasn’t going to be until maybe their 75th anniversary, several things would happen, likely none of them good. But the worst thing would be that she would never again be able to trust that he meant what he actually said, and she probably wouldn’t enjoy backyard barbecues very much anymore either.
Is there going to be another man named Cyrus to give the order to restore Jerusalem? Another Cleopatra or Antiochus Epiphanes? Why not? If the 70th week, which happened just as clearly and specifically as the first 69, is going to repeat itself, or be “double-fulfilled,” why not the 67th or the 42nd?
Daniel was very clear that the events were to take place in the 70th week. Which 70th week did he mean? Are there two 70th weeks—one that occurred in the first century, and another to occur... sometime? Was one 70th week already fulfilled, while in another time continuum of some kind, only 69 weeks have passed? As I said, this is “spiritualizing” in its highest sense—and from those who insist Scripture always be taken literally!
When the chronological time for the 70th week to occur came, was it coincidental that someone came along and destroyed the city and the sanctuary? I could begin to understand it—maybe—if nothing had happened when the 70th week was supposed to come, but clearly a great many things did. Maybe the completion of Scripture, the destruction of the entire nation of Israel, the leveling of the Temple, the cessation of sacrifice, the preservation of the entire Christian community of Jerusalem from the desolation, the spread of the Gospel to the entire known world and the ushering in of the New Covenant, isn’t enough to qualify that 70th week as the “real thing!”
There are those that say the Scriptures were fulfilled back then, yes, but it was a "foreshadowing" of the future. Why? Why should there be a foreshadowing when the prophecy of the events at the time are the clear purpose of Scripture? I have many dear friends who are premillenial, but I have to say, it's an inability to give up premillenialism that leads to the necessity of parentheses, double-fulfillments and foreshadowings.
Once we accept that the 70th week happened at the 70th week, there's no reason to expect another fulfillment—except to satisfy the terms of premillenialism, because what didn’t happen was the end of the world. Therefore, the premillenialist will not believe the prophecy has been fulfilled, and must innovate. This belief in a historical “parenthesis” without any Scriptural justification is one of the shakiest defenses premillenialists ever developed. And if the temptation occurs not to accept logic as the argument against it, let’s not forget who the Author of logic is; God is not illogical.
In the case of the “Olivet Discourse,” there is no possibility of a “double-fulfillment,” unless Christians are secure enough in their own powers of prophecy to put words in the very mouth of Christ in order to keep their system alive. The words of Jesus are clear to those who will hear: “THIS generation will not till all these things be fulfilled."
This generation—not this one and another one later. All these things—not some now, some later, not a taste here but the “real thing” later. “All these things”cannot be made to mean anything else. Either He was speaking of the current generation or He was not. Either all these things were fulfilled by 70 AD or none of them were!
What About the Rapture?
There is another really, really important fact that most premillenial teachers neglect to tell young Christians, thus depriving them of the knowledge of one of the most wonderful deliverances of Christ’s people: The Christians at the time took Christ's words to “flee from the housetops” when they saw the“abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15-21, Mark 13:14-19, Luke 21:20-21) quite personally. They knew that, in the illustration of the fig leaf, our Lord was telling them—and to make it clear, He explained the parable to them—“When you see these things happen, keep your eyes open, because you'll know the time is near.” They didn't assume He was talking about some “fig leaf generation” of Jews who had made their way back into Palestine thousands of years in the future. They knew, “This means us!” and they knew from our Lord’s warning, “This means now!” Fortunate for them that they did!
How often would the book of Revelation have been read in the first-century churches if it had nothing to do with them, was a confusing, mystical foretelling of end-times thousands of years in the future? Actually, the book was read, because it had everything to do with them, and what’s more, they understood it. How could they, when so many of us don’t? They read the Scripture—all of it, and understood the symbolism and the times they lived in. They would know that the persecution they were undergoing was part of God’s plan for those “end-times,” and not despair.
They would know that King Jesus was reigning from His throne in Heaven, and that they must “occupy”—as an army “occupies”— until He comes. They had been told that the Gates of Hell could not prevail against the battering ram of the Church. The King doesn’t have to be present to send out His army. He has issued us Written Orders, and needs give us no others. He has not left us as orphans, but has sent the Holy Spirit—and will the Spirit be defeated? When the going gets tough, will the Christians get raptured?
The Cultural Irrevelance of Premillenialism
I don’t write these things because I want to argue, or be contentious. We don’t hold premillenialists in contempt, or think they’re stupid. But it’s important. The way we live is determined by what we believe the purpose of our lives is. If we believe the world is about to end, that the devil is winning, we are already defeated. We’ll spend our lives trying to gather in as many individual souls as we can before the end comes, leaving little time for careful discipleship, and no time to battle the sin in the world around us—indeed, we won’t even see the need to.
Christians are defeated because Christians have become irrelevant, with little or no impact on society, secluding themselves more and more into their own isolated world except to venture out to “witness.” But if we see salvation already beginning on earth and in history, a reality in our lives, ourselves as “citizens of heaven” and “ambassadors of Christ,” we are able to live victoriously, as servants of the enthroned King. The time was when Christians dominated the arts, the science, the morality of the Western world. That can—and will—happen again, and in the entire world. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17) We see the Great Commission in its highest sense: to disciple the nations.
The Mistaken Indentity
One of the criticisms premillenial scholars have of postmillenialists or “optimistic amillenialists” is that we think the entire world will be saved, by our own efforts, and that we believe in the inherent goodness of man. This is patently untrue, and we can’t but believe this is sometimes a deliberate misrepresentation.
Unregenerate mankind is utterly depraved, completely unable to accept the things of the Spirit. The tares will be among the wheat until the very end. But there will certainly be more wheat than tares! (How many is part of the debate between the postmillenialist and amillenialist.)
Charles Spurgeon said, “I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols be utterly abolished; but I expect the same power which turned the world upside once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.”
We become discouraged as we see sin, suffering and death in the world. It’s difficult to believe God’s Kingdom is here and now, and that Satan doesn’t control the world. The premillenialist believes the world is being overcome by forces of evil. But we walk by faith, not by sight. As Luther wrote, “The prince of darkness grim—we tremble not for him! His rage we can endure—for lo, his doom is sure!”
We shouldn’t quake because of newspaper reports and despair at television images, but, as our first-century brethren did, read the Word and be strengthened and bold, knowing that the Rider of the White Horse conquers! Fighting for the Crown-rights of King Jesus isn’t easy—but war isn’t supposed to be easy. We have to endure and continue the work, even knowing it could take hundreds or thousands of years more. This isn’t Satan’s world—it’s our Father’s world, and our inheritance, and our orders are to take it back! We are to have life, and have it abundantly, to rejoice in the Lord always!
But, sadly, some of us still think our orders are, “Retreat!” A retreatist, defeatist attitude leads to Christians who are intolerant, impatient, ineffective, dour and depressed. As someone put it, we have ceased being bold and have become merely nice.
The Grapes of Wrath
Space prevents detailing all the fulfillments of the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and there are many excellent studies of it available. But historically, each of the prophecies were fulfilled—in the space of time our Lord specified, within that generation.
And did the events foretold come to pass upon that generation? Oh, yes. Indeed, yes. They were “the tribes of the LAND” who would mourn at His coming in judgment, the generation who crucified the Lord of Glory.
As He was led to Calvary, Jesus told the women of Jerusalem to “weep not for Me, but for yourselves and your children,” knowing the terrible judgment to come upon them. The Jews who rejected Him cried, “We have no king but Caesar! His blood be on us, and on our children! Crucify him!” And so it was. His blood was upon them, and upon their children. The “lights went out” on the unfaithful people of Israel, who had killed the prophets and the Messiah. They saw a Great Tribulation that had not occurred before or ever after.
“Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them 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 Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matthew 23:32-38)
The curses of Deuteronomy 28 were heaped upon them. Trapped in the city of Jerusalem, swollen with Passover pilgrims and refugees, the apostate Jews slaughtered each other, for food and for simple wicked spite. The Temple flowed with the blood of 8500 cut throats when the Idumeans (the descendants of Esau) broke into the city.
Parents roasted and ate their own children; fathers literally snatched the food from their starving children's mouths. The Roman soldiers captured those trying to escape and crucified them, sometimes as many as 500 in a single day, until there wasn't wood enough for the crosses.
Escapees were disemboweled as rumor spread that they had swallowed gold. The Romans used their catapults against the city. As these missiles plunged into Jerusalem, the watchmen of these doomed people, arrogant, utterly depraved and entirely blasphemous even in the very face of the final judgment against them, shouted sarcastically, “The Son is coming!”
In the end, a million Jews died in Jerusalem; most of the rest were taken into slavery and dispersed to the ends of the earth. The Temple was looted as it was destroyed, its once-holy vessels and ornaments carried off in triumph to Rome, where a great arch was erected to Titus, the destroyer of Judea. The land of Israel was a bloody, stinking, smoking ruin, filled with rotting, bloated bodies—men, women and children without discretion.
Those who imagined themselves safe as the children of Abraham found themselves betrayed by their real father, the father of lies. No longer would the “synagogue of Satan” persecute God's people and falsely accuse them and murder them. No longer would the self-righteous Sadducee preside over the blasphemous sacrifices they had continued, daring to ask for the blessing of the Almighty, after murdering in cold blood the ultimate High Priest and scorning the perfect Sacrifice.
“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22)
The Great Escape
But the true Israel of that generation didn't fall with the destruction of Jerusalem. Seeing the “abomination of desolation,” in Luke 21:20 defined as “Jerusalem surrounded by armies,” the faithful remnant of Israel remembered the word of their Lord and fled the city—not “raptured” out of the world, but spared to go out into the world. Not a single Christian suffered in the judgment against apostate Israel. Of those who inherited the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not a hair of their heads perished. (Luke 21:18)
Freed from the persecutions and harrassments of false Israel, they went out from there as the new Temple, no longer confined to one nation or a building of stone, to begin the gathering from the four winds the rest of the true children of Abraham, an occupation passed on to us. No longer must the righteous of that generation conclude their Communion liturgy with, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Let this generation, then, no longer wait for a rescue out of the world, and follow our brothers out into the world, knowing that we have been rescued already, prepared to take up our crosses and follow Him.
©1996-97 Kate Scot-Bryson
hyperpreterism is the unorthodox position that all eschatological prophecies have been fulfilled, including the Second Coming of Christ. For further discussion and criticism of this position from various points of view, see A Brief Theological Analysis of Hyper-Preterism by Kenneth Gentry, Jr.;
The Reformed Church in the United States Takes Action to Condemn Hyper-Preterism as Heresy;
Critical Article Archive; or do a search on "hyper-preterism."
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Date: 07 Feb 2010
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