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Methods of Interpreting Prophecy, Part 2: An Examination of Matthew Chapter 24
In our last presentation on this topic, I had said that none of the Preterists had produced an exegetical commentary proving their position. That is not entirely true. V. S. Herrell supposedly has produced such a commentary, titled “The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ”, a book said to number 300 pages. But I cannot find it anywhere. So my statement may as well stand. This is a man who, in one of his own articles titled What is White? had referred to himself as “God's anointed minister in this generation”. So God's anointed minister wrote a book on the Revelation that supposedly proves the preterist position, and it cannot be found. You would think that God's anointed minister would want to make his work available for anyone to read.
There are a lot of hare-brained preterist websites on the internet. One website announces that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, and it makes some rather extraordinary comparisons of the Revelation to peculiar tales from the history of Judaea up to 70 AD as proof of its assertions. But then it goes on to compare the thousand years that Satan was locked in the pit, found in Revelation chapter 20, to the period of time from 70 AD to the Crusades. So perhaps all prophecy was not fulfilled by 70 AD, where it is not convenient to their interpretation. They claim that Christ returned in the form of Jesus the son of Ananus, a man who was not a Christian, who is described in Book 6 of Flavius Josephus' Wars of the Judaeans. There it is said that he traveled about Jerusalem announcing woe to the city. According to Josephus, he did this for 7 years and 5 months, and “as he was going around upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, 'Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!' And just as he added at the last, 'Woe, woe to myself also!' there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.” So much for Jesus Christ being the immortal God, at least according to these people.
There is another website called Preterist Archive, but there they also include what they call “partial preterists”, a term which we would reject, and therefore they also have historicist material. Herrell and his book are mentioned there, but there is no link, and the book cannot otherwise be found. I would not use material from these other websites to address Herrell, since it cannot be imagined that their preterist views are common. I would rather address Herrell himself, but, unfortunately, that will have to wait. I would rather address Herrell himself, because even though he is not an Identity Christian, and even though his work is rather obscure, at one time, years ago, he was indeed associated with many Identity Christians – before he went his own way – and his profession concerning preterism has affected more Identity Christians than any of the other preterists, most of whom are also universalists.
V. S. Herrell is a Christian Separatist who rejects the phrase “Christian Identity”. I would not hate him for that alone, and I wouldn't even argue over such labels here. There are a lot of other things which he says that I would very much agree with. He rejects the “King James Only” crowd, he rejects the necessity for rituals such as water baptism, he rejects the idea that a bastard or any non-White (and the terms are synonymous to us) could possibly be a Christian. All of these things are good and agreeable to us.
Not everything Herrell said is agreeable to us, however. While he upholds God's laws when it comes to race-mixing and the position of women in society, he wrongly rejects God's laws when it comes to the eating of swine and certain other things. He considers the articulation of the Tetragrammaton to be a delusion, claiming it started with a 20th century Jew, but that is a lie since it can clearly be attested in historical writings over the first few Christian centuries. We have other points of disagreement, but we are not going to belabor them all here. Rather, our objective is to discuss preterism.
Speaking of the prophets, Herrell once wrote “Those of you who think that the Jews believe the Old Testament need to wake up to the truth.” That, of course, is also good. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul of Tarsus explained why the Old Testament was only for Christians, and why it is not a Jewish book at all, because those who reject Christ cannot possibly understand any of it. Of course, the Jews prove that to be true every time they open their mouths. On the other hand, they are not Israel so the Book was never for them in the first place.
But then Herrell drives off a cliff where he said “If they believed the Old Testament, they would believe in Jesus Christ, because all of the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled with His first coming, and all the prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in His second coming, which began on the Day of Pentecost and culminated in the destruction of the Jewish economy in 70 AD.”
However Christ Himself made it clear, that where He went the apostles could not immediately follow, and because of that He would pray the Father to send them another comforter, which was the Holy Spirit. While He said in that same chpater of John, “I shall not leave you fatherless, I will come to you”, the Holy Spirit is the promised Comforter, and not the Son of Man.
Now certainly many of the prophecies of the Old Testament were indeed fulfilled by the time of the first coming of Christ. But if all of those prophecies were fulfilled, then the Word of God has absolutely no efficacy in the real world, and we should all go about our business. That is because there are many other things promised in the Old Testament which certainly had not been fulfilled by that time. So if we can demonstrate in any particular way that Herrell's statement is not true in some degree, then none of it is true and it all needs to be reconsidered.
We do know, as we see it reflected here in Herrell's words. That he also believed the Second Coming of Christ to have happened in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem. With that, as Herrell also asserted, the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the apostle John was also all fulfilled. Herrell insists on an early date for the authoring of the Revelation, at least several years before 60 AD, so that he can claim that it was all fulfilled by 70 AD. From many historical witnesses it is shown to have been written by John near 95 AD.
So how do we address this issue of preterism in Christian Identity, if we cannot access the work of the man who seems to be most responsible for it? What we shall do is address the premise. If the premise can be shown to be wrong, then the entire hypothesis is wrong.
The premise is this, summed up from the correspondence of Christian Identity preterists: that because Peter said that “the end of all things is at hand”, and “the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God”, and also because Christ had said that “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished”, words found in Matthew 24:34, then the “coming of the Son of Man” mentioned several other times in that same discourse must be fulfilled, and for that reason must all Biblical prophecy be fulfilled. Starting with that premise, they insist on interpreting all Scripture in that manner.
Yet Christ was speaking in a limited context, as we shall demonstrate, and Peter was not referring to the temple in Jerusalem when he said “house of God”. Rather, he was writing from Babylon and speaking of the children of Israel in general, very few of whom were in Judaea or Jerusalem. Where Peter had then said “and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God”, only there could he possibly be referring to the enemies of Christ. But he fully inferred that judgment begins with the children of Israel, and not with the enemies of Christ in Jerusalem. Therefore Peter must have been speaking in regards to a judgment and to an end much greater than that which concerned Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Where Peter said that “the end of all things is at hand”, he was really only teaching the imminent return of Yahshua Christ, as Christ Himself told His disciples many times that they would not know at what hour He would return, and that therefore they must always expect Him. For that reason, Paul had also rather consistently taught that the day of the return of Christ and the day of the judgment and wrath of Yahweh were forthcoming immediately. As we had already explained in our presentation of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, many critics of Christianity claim that the apostles are at fault for teaching that the return of Christ was imminent, and since it has not yet happened that the apostles were somehow wrong, and Christianity is discredited. Foreseeing this very attitude the apostle Peter had written: “3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” So with this we see that while Peter taught that “the end of all things is at hand”, he nevertheless also held out the possibility that it could be quite some time before “the end of all things” actually happened.
Where Christ had said “this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished”, we interpret the word for generation as race. The Greek word is γενεά. Some of our critics attempt to make a distinction between γενεά and γένος, stating that γένος more properly means race, and γενεά more properly means generation. That distinction is only valid in their own imaginations. Perusing the Liddell & Scott definitions for γενεά and γένος one may see that both words primarily mean race, and either word was also used to describe the members of a race at any given time, which are a generation. However here we shall also examine more closely what Christ had said in the passage in question, and we hope to demonstrate that He certainly did not mean to indicate that all Biblical prophecy would be fulfilled by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem.
We had also explained in our recent Ephesians presentation that Christ had said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 21, “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled”, but that this does not mean that all prophecy, New Testament and Old, was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. Rather, Christ said that “these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” in reference to Jerusalem because if Jerusalem was not destroyed after the Messiah was “cut off”, as it is written in Daniel chapter 9, then all things written would never be fulfilled. But that does not mean that there were not other things written which concerned events apart from the advent of the Messiah or the destruction of Jerusalem prophesied by Daniel. If we examine all the words of the prophets, there are many things which are still not fulfilled, and other things which certainly seem to have been fulfilled since the destruction of Jerusalem.
We will repeat an analogy which we had made last week: When a man plans a 2,000 mile journey and gets halfway there, he may say “I must get on to the next stop, so that I can complete my journey.” Arriving at the next stop may not be the completion of the journey, but the journey could not be completed without arriving at the next stop. So we have the same situation with the Scripture. We have seen the advent of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem so that all things written in the prophets may be fulfilled, but there are other things which are written in the prophets which have obviously not yet happened, so these things must still await us.
We also explained that Paul of Tarsus had written to the Romans, in chapter 16 of his epistle to them, that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Paul wrote that epistle thirteen years before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions. Hundreds of thousands of Edomite Jews were destroyed. In fact, according to Josephus the total casualties of the war were 1.1 million people, although Tacitus cuts the figure in half. So Paul certainly understood Daniel chapter 9. But Paul, writing to the Ephesians around 61 AD, had warned them to “take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day”. Now, Ephesus was well out of the scope of the battles between the Judaeans and the Romans, so Paul must have been talking about some other evil day, rather than of the day in which Jerusalem was destroyed.
Furthermore, Paul had written to the Thessalonians, in what is assuredly the second earliest of his surviving epistles, in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1: “4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
So Paul spoke of a promised day of vengeance where Christ would “in flaming fire” take vengeance upon all of those who troubled the Christians at Thessalonica. Here Paul says that they would “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power”. Does this describe what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD? Because there were Jews spread throughout the empire who were not in Jerusalem in 70 AD, but whp had remained enemies of Christ. And if it does, then why are Christians still being persecuted afterwards? It is quite clear in history that there were many persecutions and martyrdoms of Christians long after 70 AD, and most of those persecutions occurred after 70 AD. Long after 70 AD, Christian writers such as Tertullian attributed those persecutions to the treachery of the Jews, who were instigating the Romans to persecute Christians.
In Revelation chapter 6 we read “ 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
If the vengeance described for the Thessalonians by Paul was completed by 70 AD, and if the vengeance awaited by the souls who were killed for Christ described in the Revelation was completed by 70 AD, then there should have been no Christian martyrs after 70 AD, or Paul's words to the Thessalonians that “you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed” are a lie, and the Revelation promises no further vengeance to all of those who died for Christ after 70 AD if all prophecy is fulfilled by 70 AD. Still being persecuted for Christ after 70 AD, they who are troubled by His enemies certainly have no such promise of rest as Paul had described. So why should we even be Christians, if those promises of God are finished in 70 AD? It can be established in recent history, that it is the same enemies of Christ, the Edomite Jews, who had persecuted White Christians most recently in the destruction of Imperial Russia, and again in the mass starvations in the Ukraine, and again in the decimation of Christian Germany. Today they rule over every Christian nation, and every bastard nation as well.
If all prophecy is fulfilled by 70 AD, the words of Obadiah must be a lie, where it says “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.” The truth is that the enemies of Christ, the Edomite Jews, were certainly not driven to extinction in 70 AD, and many more of them are among us today. Therefore we still await the fulfillment of those words of Obadiah, and we still await the punishment “with everlasting destruction” of the enemies of Christ once and for all. On that account, Identity Christians should not be fooled by the preterists.
We had also said in our last presentation of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians that it was the same Paul who in 57 AD had told the Romans that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” who had also told the Ephesians in 60 or 61 AD that “for us the struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against realms (plural), against authorities (plural), against the rulers of the order of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness among the heavenly places” and then he beckons them by saying “because of this take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day, even to stand, all things being accomplished.” With this it is clear that Paul had foreseen a long, ongoing process where Christians must struggle against evil until the coming of some other evil day, not related to what happened in Jerusalem in 70 AD, a day which was perceived to be well beyond 70 AD.
Likewise, the same Paul who in 57 AD had told the Romans that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” had also warned the Romans themselves, in chapter 2 of his epistle to them, that they would not escape the judgment of God, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds”. Writing to the Corinthians he said “6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then later, writing to the same Corinthians he said concerning a particular sinner, “5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” That same Paul admonished the Philippians likewise, “10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” The day of the Lord, or day of Christ of which Paul speaks in these passages, the evil day wherein he prays that the Ephesians are able to stand, and for which the Romans should not store up wrath against themselves, and for which the Corinthians must be blameless, could not have been in Jerusalem in 70 AD. There must be some other day of wrath which Paul had in mind, after 70 AD, for it to give rest to the Christian martyrs, and affect the Thessalonians, Romans, Corinthians and Philippians.
These are just examples. There are many other scriptures in both the Old Testament and New, which the imaginations of the preterists set at naught.
There is much confusion among the preterists, because they, like many Judaized Christians, do not seem to distinguish between the promises which are made to a restored Israel in this world under Christ, and to the Adamic race as a whole after the final day of Judgment at the end of the age. One of the places that is manifest is in their thinking concerning Isaiah chapter 65.
One preterist website (which I disdain to mention here for various reasons, but it calls itself “revelation revolution” and appears in paid advertising on Google) goes so far as to deny the resurrection of the dead and eternal life. It bases such a denial, at least in part, on Isaiah chapter 65 which says “20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.”
What they do not realize is that Isaiah chapter 65 is not prophesying a post-resurrection scenario. Rather, it is prophesying a “new heavens and a new earth” as an allegory for Christian governance under the laws of God. The child who dies at a hundred years old is not an infant. Rather, the child is an Israelite who is innocent-minded, as Paul had admonished in 1 Corinthians chapter 14: “20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” That is the same analogy which Christ used in Mark chapter 10 where He said “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” For that same reason, in his epistles the apostle John addressed his readers as children, for instance where he closes his second epistle by saying “28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” This is perfectly clear where in Isaiah, the child is contrasted to the sinner. So child is an allegory for one who is free from sin, or who at least has a contrite and humble heart towards God and His law.
So there is no conflict at all between a belief in a resurrection, and the state of a restored Israelite in the earthly kingdom of Christ. Preterists simply do not understand their scriptures as well as they think they understand them. In fact, Paul of Tarsus himself had scoffed at those who believed that the resurrection had already happened, when he wrote his second epistle to Timothy. Paul wrote that epistle while he was under arrest in Rome, ostensibly in 61 AD. We have established that this epistle was written shortly after Paul had written the epistle to the Ephesians, and also shortly after his first defense of Christianity before the emperor Nero in Rome. In chapter 2 of that epistle Paul had told Timothy: “16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” If the resurrection had not already happened by 61 AD, how can we imagine that it happened by 70 AD? In his epistle to the Philippians, written after 2 Timothy, Paul expressed his own hope, in chapter 3 where he said “11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
We have discussed the preterist premise concerning Peter's statement that “the end of all things is at hand”. Now we shall discuss another preterist premise, where they imagine all prophecy to be fulfilled by 70 AD chiefly because of the words of Yahshua Christ which are found in Matthew 24:34, where He had said “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished”, along with His having mentioned several times the “coming of the Son of Man”. This is the long discourse of Christ prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem, and parallel passages are found in Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21.
Some of what follows, we have already presented in our recent Ephesians presentation. We shall discuss it here again, and endeavor to discuss it more fully.
In Matthew chapter 24 we see that after Christ foretold of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the apostles had asked Him three questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” The first question was in reference to what Christ had said about the temple. The two other questions may have been related to the first in the minds of the apostles, but they were not necessarily related at all. The other apostles who recorded this exchange, Luke and Mark, only record two of the questions. However it is plainly evident that these three separate records of the discourse of Christ in the Mount of Olives (a fact omitted by Luke) predicting the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem do not conflict with one another. Rather, they augment one another, because since each of the different witnesses recorded things which they or their sources recalled from memory, each had slightly different recollections of the many things which were said. For that reason, we are fortunate to have three records, like three different pictures of the same object taken at different angles give us a much better understanding of the form of the object.
So Christ goes into a long discourse answering all three questions, but that does not mean that all three of the events inquired of would necessarily happen at the same time. As the answers are recorded, it is also evident that Christ did not sort them out for us. As it is written in Matthew chapter 13, “34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
The following two paragraphs were written for our November, 2012 presentation of Luke chapter 21, which contains a slightly different account of what Christ had said in Matthew chapter 24. We had presented Luke 21:7 where it says “7 Then they questioned Him, saying 'Teacher! So when shall these things be?' and 'What is the sign when these things are going to come?'” With this, we had explained the alternate reading of the passage as it is found in Matthew 24, and in part we said:
The question “Tell us, when shall these things be?” was in reference to the statements of Christ concerning the destruction of Jerusalem which He had just forewarned. The question “What is the sign of Your coming...?” was in reference to the ultimate return of the Christ, and the additional question not recorded by either Mark or Luke but recorded by Matthew, was “...and of the consummation of the age?” in reference to Christ's many statements which mention the end of the age, or world as the King James Version has it, such as at Matthew 13:40 and the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares where Christ says “Therefore just as the tares are gathered and burn in fire, thusly it shall be at the consummation of the age.” Mark received his gospel from Peter. Luke received his gospel from other eye-witnesses as he himself attested in its opening verses. It may well be that neither of their witnesses understood the full impact of the question nor felt it important enough to record it all, however Matthew did record it all. It may also be perceived that the meaning of the final two questions, concerning “the sign of [His] coming, and of the consummation of the age”, may have been considered one and the same in the eyes of the other witnesses, and therefore only Matthew took care to record it fully.
The apostles could not have known that the answers to these questions would describe separate events, which would occur many years apart from each other. They imagined the destruction of Jerusalem to mark the end of the age and the return of Christ. Many Christian Preterists hold that same errant conclusion today. In fact, so do many futurists, who esteem the contemporary sewer in Palestine to be the Jerusalem of prophecy when in fact Jeremiah told us that the old city would be forever destroyed, as a broken bottle could not be put back together, in Jeremiah chapter 19. Christ did not clarify the matter for us, by dividing His answers so that they may correspond to the different questions which were asked. Rather, He gave one long discourse in a single answer to all three questions. It is a challenge for us to sort it out, and it must be said that none of us are going to be able so do so with absolute clarity.
So as it is recorded in Matthew, Christ goes into a long discourse answering all three questions which the apostles had in response to His statement concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. He begins by saying: “Watch lest anyone should deceive you! For many shall come by My Name saying ‘I am the Christ’, and they shall deceive many. And you are going to hear of wars and reports of wars. See that you are not troubled. For it needs to happen, but not yet is the end. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in various places. And all these things are the beginning of travails.” Even if these things had happened between 32 and 70 AD, they are only the beginning of travails. However none of the historic events of the Roman empire fit these circumstances at all, so Christ must be referring to a more remote time.
We shall read the corresponding passage from Mark chapter 13: “7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. 8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. 9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. 10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” This passage indicates a much greater scope than anything which had happened up to 70 AD. The first historic record of any apostle of Christ appearing before a king was the defense of Paul before Herod Agrippa, and then before Nero, events which occurred in or around 59 AD and then 62 AD. The minor wars which Rome had in this period could not possibly qualify as “nation against nation” and “kingdom against kingdom”.
From Matthew chapter 24, Christ continues by saying: “9 Then they shall hand you over into tribulation and they shall kill you, and you shall be hated by all of the heathens on account of My Name. 10 And then many shall be entrapped and they shall betray one another and hate one another.” There were persecutions of Christians before 70 AD under Claudius and Nero, as well as those in Judaea. But there were many more and greater persecutions in the centuries to follow, and even long after that by the Roman Church in the Middle Ages.
Then we read: “11 And many false prophets shall arise and they shall deceive many, 12 and for reason that lawlessness is multiplied, the love of many shall grow cold. 13 But he who endures unto the end, he shall be preserved. 14 And this good message of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the Nations, and then shall the end come.” Now we can point to a few instances of false prophets in the Book of Acts. But the deception of later times is much greater than anything which happened in the first century, and the scope of “the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the Nations” is much greater than first century Judaea. In fact, the book of Daniel in chapter 2 and elsewhere defines the “whole earth” as “wheresoever the children of men dwell”. The phrase “all the Nations” must at least refer to all of the Nations descended from Israel, and there should be no doubt that only a very few of them had even heard the Gospel of Christ by 70 AD.
Reading from Matthew 24:15: “15 Therefore when you should see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place – he reading must understand – 16 then those who are in Judaea must flee into the mountains; 17 he upon the house-top must not go down to take his things from the house, 18 and he in the field must not turn back to take his garment. 19 But woe to those being pregnant and those with infants in those days! 20 And you must pray that your flight should not be in winter nor on the Sabbath. 21 For at that time there shall be great tribulation, such as has not happened from the beginning of Society until now, nor by any means should happen! 22 And unless those days would be shortened, there would not be any flesh saved. But on account of the elect shall those days be shortened.”
We are not going to absorb ourselves with a discussion of the “abomination of desolation”, except to say that it certainly can refer to what was happening in Jerusalem in its last days. But the phrase also has a meaning which transcends that interpretation. What we must imagine is whether the destruction which came upon Jerusalem in 70 AD actually exceeded every other war of antiquity, and that is quite arguable. But Christ also said “nor by any means should happen”, where the King James Version writes “nor ever shall be.” While the Roman war in Judaea cost perhaps a million or so lives, by the highest estimates, several recent wars in our own time have each cost tens of millions of lives.
Continuing from Matthew 24:23: “23 At that time if anyone should say to you ‘Look! Here is the Christ!’ or “There!’, do not believe it. 24 For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and they shall present great signs and wonders so as to deceive – if possible – even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you beforehand! 26 Therefore if they should say to you ‘Look! He is in the desert!’, you must not depart. ‘Look! In the treasury!’, do not believe it.
These verses inform us that the “Son of Man” is not a man walking the earth, although the preterists insist that this passage describes the coming of Titus to destroy Jerusalem. From Acts chapter 1 we see the following: “6 So then they who were gathered asked Him, saying 'Prince, then at this time shall You restore the Kingdom to Israel?' 7 And He said to them: 'It is not yours to know the times or the seasons which the Father has placed in His own authority. 8 Rather you shall receive power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you and you shall be My witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judaea and Samareia, and unto the end of the earth.' 9 And speaking these things, upon their watching He was lifted up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing into heaven upon His going, then behold, two men in white clothing stood by them. 11 And they said 'Men, Galilaians, why do you stand looking into the heaven? This Yahshua, who is taken up from you into the heaven, thusly shall He come in the manner which you have beheld Him going into the heaven.'”
So the Scripture teaches that the same Christ, when He does return, shall come in the same manner as when He departed after His resurrection in, ostensibly, the year 32 AD. Upon His return, there is a promise to gather His people, which has not yet happened. Many other promises are associated with this same event, and neither have they happened.
Here we also see that while the preterists insist that the Kingdom of Yahweh was restored to the children of Israel in 70 AD, in 32 AD Christ did not indicate that at all. If He had indicated that in His discourse which they had all heard a short time before, and which is recorded in three Gospels, why did He not have them recollect these words here? Why would He tell them that it was not theirs to know the time when that would happen? Preterism is actually in conflict with many of the words of Christ and the apostles.
Reading from Matthew 24:27: “27 For just as lightning comes out from the east and appears so far as the west, thusly shall be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse may be, there the eagles shall be gathered! 29 And immediately after the tribulation of those days ‘The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken!’ 30 And at that time the sign of the Son of Man shall appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth shall mourn and they shall see ‘The Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and much effulgence!’ 31 And He shall send His messengers with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from out of the four winds, from the ends of the heavens unto the extremities of them.”
Here we must ask if “all the tribes of the earth” mourned when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus. We must also ask whether by that same time Christ had gathered together “His elect from out of the four winds”. It took a thousand years to bring the Gospel to all of the tribes of Israel, and certainly none of them were mourning in 70 AD when the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem. Paul would have loved to see the day that Satan was crushed under the feet of the Romans, and the other apostles were accused by the Jews of wanting to see the temple destroyed, as we may read in Acts chapter 6. So evidently, Christians had no care for the temple or for Jerusalem.
While the order of the statements in Matthew 24 cannot be precisely correlated with the account as it was recorded in Luke chapter 21, we are about to see the reference to the fig tree here in Matthew, and it is at that point, just before the reference to the fig tree in Luke's version, that we see this following description of the destruction of Jerusalem which does not appear in either Matthew or in Mark: “20 But when you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, then you know that her desolation has come near. 21 Then those in Judaea must flee into the mountains, and those in her midst must leave the land, and those in the countryside must not enter into her! 22 Because these are the days of vengeance, by which all the things written are to be fulfilled! 23 Woe to those having conceived and to those with sucklings in those days! For there shall be great violence upon the earth, and wrath for this people!”
Now Luke's version makes it clear that much of Christ's original discourse does indeed pertain to the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. But that does not mean that it is limited to the destruction of Jerusalem. As we have previously stated, this vengeance against Jerusalem is prophesied in Daniel chapter 9, and if it did not happen as Daniel prophesied it, then all things written could not be fulfilled, even if there are other things written concerning other matters which had not yet been fulfilled. So we cannot interpret the passage which says “by which all the things written are to be fulfilled” to mean that when this event occurs, everything which was written in the prophets was fulfilled. In that same chapter of Luke, it speaks of the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem where it says in verse 24, the verse following the place where we just left off: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
So in 70 AD the “times of the Gentiles” are not fulfilled, but rather, the enemies of Christ would be led away captive into all nations until the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”. That alone proves that there is other prophecy awaiting fulfillment after these events of 70 AD. The word “Gentiles” is more properly “nations” since here in this passage it is the same Greek word which is translated as both nations and Gentiles in the King James Version. So we see Christ Himself speak of both the ongoing judgment of His enemies and the future fulfillment of the “times of the nations” following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. So it is foolish to think that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, seeing that there is a time for the fulfillment of the nations after the enemies of Christ are “led away captive into all nations”, and that those enemies still exist among those nations during that period of time. It should be quite clear to any Identity Christian, that these are the wheat and the tares, and we still await the removal of the tares.
There are several things in Old Testament prophecy which the phrase “times of the Gentiles” may refer to. Christ did not tell us explicitly. Perhaps one day we will treat this topic fully, however for now we shall cite Daniel chapter 12: “7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” Now this may not relate directly to the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles, but the Identity Christian should know that the promises to Abraham and the patriarchs, that they should become many nations, were accomplished after the children of Israel were scattered, and they are the Gentiles of the missions and epistles of the apostle Paul, although Paul himself had only reached a fraction of them. So the words of Christ as they were recorded by Luke demonstrate for us, that prophecy remains for the children of Israel after 70 AD.
Yet other prophecies, such as Obadiah, promise the eventual and complete and utter destruction of those same enemies and therefore once again. The words of Christ in the parables of the Wheat and the Tares, the Net, and the Sheep and the Goats also inform us to expect these things. Upon these events we are informed that the Son of Man would return. Therefore all prophecy could not have been fulfilled by 70 AD. All prophecy cannot be fulfilled until the enemies of Yahweh taken captive into all nations are ultimately rooted out and destroyed. Preterism denies these things, and many more.
Continuing with Matthew chapter 24: “32 Now learn from the parable of the fig tree, when already its branches should be tender and it would produce leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 Thusly also you, when you should see all these things, know that it is near by the doors. 34 Truly I say to you that by no means should this race escape until all these things should happen! 35 The heaven and the earth shall pass, but My words shall by no means pass! 36 But concerning that day and hour no one knows: not the messengers of the heavens nor the Son, except the Father only.”
In Numbers chapter 32, we see that the children of Israel were made to wander in the desert for forty years so that the people that sinned against God would not live to see the land of Canaan: “13 And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed.” Now, dating the Passion of the Christ to 32 AD, as we do, and with Jerusalem not being destroyed until 70 AD, the preterists expect us to interpret verse 34 as a guarantee that the people who rejected Christ would still be alive after 38 years. For that reason we prefer the term race here, in order to translate γενεά, believing that it refers to the fact that the enemies of God would indeed face His judgment.
So while the preterists think that the coming of the Son of Man refers to the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, at the end of the discourse in Matthew chapter 24 we see the contrary: “37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
As certain apocryphal literature informs us, the people of Noah's time scoffed at his building an ark, never expecting the sudden destruction to come upon them. That such is true is evident from the comparison here to the man of the house who would have watched if he knew the thief was coming. But this circumstance is nothing like the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and therefore cannot describe the coming to Jerusalem of Titus. As Luke relates it, in his version of this discourse, Jerusalem was surrounded by armies during the siege of Cestius Gallus in 66 AD, and then Cestius withdrew from the city for no apparent reason. Josephus attests that the city very nearly surrendered at that time. A couple of years later the Roman armies under Titus besieged and destroyed the city. In the interim, as Josephus attests, many of the better people fled the city for good. Josephus also attests to the vile nature of all those who remained behind, who were for the most part destroyed by Titus' armies. But all of this was only a part of a much broader war, where the Judaeans had already lost many battles in other places. So unlike the days of Noah, the people of Jerusalem had plenty of warning, and had indeed been anticipating the final Roman siege of the city.
Our final passage in Matthew 24: “42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Why, if the coming of the Son of Man was only for the destruction of Jerusalem and vengeance against His enemies, should Christians who had the sense not to be in Jerusalem be worried about how they should be found when the Son of Man comes? Why would Paul warn the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Philippians in this same manner? Paul of Tarsus, as well as the other apostles, taught the ever-imminent return of Christ because that was the exact teaching of Christ, “be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh”. Therefore we cannot imagine that when they saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, as it was in 66 and then again in 70 AD, that by itself was the fulfillment of all of the words of the prophets. Paul did not have that understanding, and neither did the other apostles, because that is not at all what Christ had said, and we still await the fulfillment of the “times of the Gentiles”, along with the destruction of the enemies of our God and the coming of the Son of Man.
As we also said when making our Ephesians presentation, many Christians miss the fact that in Scripture, there are different aspects of the judgment of Yahweh. While there is a final and great Judgment Day to look forward to, which is promised in many places in Scripture, there is also the ongoing judgment of God which occurs on any and every day. This is often referred to in Scripture as the “time of visitation”. The ultimate salvation of the children of Yahweh cannot happen until the promised final judgment when all things are accomplished: but that is not until after the “times of the nations be fulfilled”. Since we still have nations just as we had nations when Christ had spoken those words, those days are not yet fulfilled.
But as we see happening all around us today, all of the nations of Israel are surrounded after the same model which we see prophesied for us in Revelation chapter 20, which is the scenario of the Camp of the Saints. Preterism fails, because this very fact it cannot explain.