PRI Articles

A Dominionist Hermeneutic that Leads To Covenant Eschatology!

We often encounter comments and writings by futurists that, when applied consistently, those comments lead inexorably to the full preterist view of eschatology. This is extremely common, especially when one reads the writings of the popular postmillennialists (Dominionists) of the day. Whether one reads Gentry, Mathison, Sandlin, Leithart, McDurmon or DeMar, you will find such comments. I personally hear from people on a frequent basis who tell me that it is the writings of these men, and the hermeneutic that they espouse, that has led them to become advocates of Covenant Eschatology. Of course, the authors cited above object to such comments, but the facts are undeniable. Let me give an example of these comments from one of the leading Dominionists of the day, a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, Gary DeMar.

Read more: A Dominionist Hermeneutic that Leads To Covenant Eschatology!

An Open Response to Sam Frost's Open Letter to Don K. Preston

An Open Response to Sam Frost

Sam Frost posted “An Open Letter to Don K. Preston” on his “Reign of Christ” website, and that letter has been posted on FaceBook. When I saw it, it reminded me that I had, unfortunately, forgotten to respond to Sam’s last email. Sometimes my email correspondence is all but overwhelming. My apologies to Sam for that oversight.

In his letter he shared with his readers that he and I had corresponded concerning a debate, which is true.

Sam left out of his letter how he had initially said that due to his own academic pursuit that he could not do the debate anytime soon, and that was fine. Scheduling is a killer. I told Sam that due to my own scheduling, I probably could not do a debate this year.

Sam notes that I demanded an honorarium to do the debate, noting of course, that he will do it free. Well, Sam has a job that pays his bills. My ministry is my job. I also noted that Joel McDurmon demanded a sizable honorarium, and Sam had no problem with that. In fact, the partial preterist world seemed to boast of Joel’s demands! But when it came to me, I am supposedly unreasonable to do the same. I have repeatedly asked Sam to explain why it was proper for Joel to demand an honorarium but, it is somehow unreasonable for Preston to do so. Sam says the question was not relevant to my demands, but of course, it is. This is a thorny issue of consistency and part of the reason I made the demand in the first place– to expose that inconsistency.

All that aside, as just noted, I had told Sam that we could not do a debate this year (2013) because I already have a debate scheduled with Steve Gregg, to be held in Denver, Co. in September. In addition, I have some other major projects in the works, and they have been in the works for a good long while. So, just like Sam could not initially do the debate due to being “too busy” I likewise cannot do the debate this year for the same reason. Yet, Sam tries to make it appear that I was simply making excuse of being too busy. This is unbecoming. (Jason Bradfield in his usual caustic manner, posted a response to Sam’s open letter saying: “Don Preston is a goat, who is also a chicken.” This kind of rhetoric is reprehensible, un-Christian and unscholarly, but is, unfortunately fully tolerated on RoC).

I want to let everyone know that I have just posted and email to Sam stating that I am keeping my schedule for 2014 open for a debate with him, and we can proceed with negotiations.

In the meantime, John Noe has boasted of his debate prowess as far superior to mine, and has stepped forward seeking to debate Sam. So, that should be interesting, to say the least.

We will, of course, keep everyone posted on my debate with Sam, as far as scheduling, venue, etc.. So, stay tuned!

For His Truth, and In His Grace,


Don K. Preston

A Three Fold Response to Thomas Ice-- Guest Article by Frank Speer

I have had four debates with Thomas Ice, one formal, and three radio. Ice has likewise debated Gary DeMar, but, it seems that Mr. Ice is no longer willing to engage in formal debate. Instead, he chooses to stand far off, and lob stones at the preterist camp, and claim that preterists cannot answer his "arguments." Well, I have repeatedly challenged Mr. Ice to debate me again, to give the Christian community the opportunity to see if he has truly answered what we have to say. He adamantly refuses to debate me again. Anyway, my friend Frank Speer has written an excellent review and response to some of Ice's claims about Zechariah 12-14. Be sure also to get a copy of Rod MacArthur's presentations at the Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, 2012. Rod did a fantastic job on Zechariah.

Enjoy Frank's article!

Don K. Preston

****************

 

A TRIPLE RESPONSE TO THOMAS ICE’S...

"Preterism and Zechariah 12-14”

By Frank Speer

http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/biblical prophecy/BP0700W5.htm

Mr. Ice writes…

“During a time of questions I asked Mr. Gentry about Zechariah 12—14 and preterism. I first asked him if he believed, as a preterist, that Zechariah 12—14 was a parallel passage to the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24—25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36). He answered, "Yes." I agree! I then noted that Zechariah speaks of "all the peoples" (12:2), "all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Jerusalem)" (12:3), and "I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle" (14:2). "This does not sound like the Romans in AD 70," I said.”

Mr. Frank Speer (WWW.lightshine.me) writes…

“The first thing I must say is that one passage of Scripture does not FULL Preterism make! A fulfilled view of eschatology is not singularly dependent upon Zech 12-14. Mr. Ice writes as if Preterism stands or falls upon Zech. 12-14. It does not, as there is a mass of scriptural evidence on the side of fulfilled eschatology.

Next, Mr. Ice does not deal with a single argument from a single FULL Preterist!! There is so much FP material available concerning Zech 12-14 and Mr. Ice cites NOT ONE WORD OF IT. He quotes only 2 men - both PARTIAL Preterists, who could not answer to Mr. Ice’s satisfaction…not very FAIR AND BALANCED.

Next, notice that Mr. Ice does not deal with A SHRED of the heap of difficulties that arise from taking a yet future approach to Zechariah chapters 12-14.

For one – if Zech 12-14 is all still to take place in the future - how does Mr. Ice justify the modern use of ancient warfare?

• The battle described in these chapters is waged on HORSEBACK (12:4) with SWORDS! (13:7) Is that how the COMING 21st century Great Tribulation is to be fought?

• Modern Jews do not and will not live in “TENTS” (12:7)

• Modern Jewish people CAN NO LONGER BE divided by their 12 ancestral tribes (12:6-14) since those tribes have long since been genetically diluted – the Jewish peoples of today simply CANNOT be equated with ancient, biblical Israel.

• Zech 13:1 is clearly speaking of "The Cross of Christ" (i.e. a first century event). Has there been no Messianic “fountain” of forgiveness available to the Jewish people since the cross?? Have they been made to wait all this time and then some (until Messiah's STILL FUTURE RETURN) to have access to divine forgiveness of sin?

• The modern Jews do not and will not worship then "many Idols" mentioned in (13:2) – today’s Jews are mostly atheistic.

• There are no modern Jewish “prophets” (13:2) - nor will there be

• (13:4) - Will false Hebrew prophets wearing “HAIRY ROBES” soon appear in modern day Palestine in order to deceive a mass of Jewish peoples!!

• "Unclean spirits" were evicted from Palestine by Jesus in the first century (Mt 12:28ff, 8:29 – “before the time?” = i.e. before the time of the end of apostate Judaism 70 AD)

• (13:3) – The modern Jewish peoples do not obey these ancient "Mosaic Laws" (parents killing children for false predictions etc)!

• (13:4-5) - Will “SLAVERY & AGRICULTURE” once again become COMMON PRACTICE for 21st century Palestinians and ALL NATIONS OF THR WORLD??

• Is the modern Palestinian Economy (as well as “ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD” – 14:14) based on GOLD, SILVER, FABRIC, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, DONKEYS AND CATTLE?? (14:14-15)

• Notice that the “ALL NATIONS” of 14:1 are QUALIFIED later by the “all the SURROUNDING nations” in 14:14. There is no mention here of ALL THE MODERN NATIONS OF THE 21st CENTURY WORLD! These ancient "Middle Eastern nations" surrounding ancient Israel’s were the same constant thorns Israel dealt with thru their entire history!!

• (14:16) Will the modern Jewish peoples, under Messiah, be keeping all of the Old Covenant "feasts" when the N.T. writers (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) clearly state that such things were merely TEMPORARY TYPOLOGICAL TUTORS intended to lead Israel to Christ??

Will Christ then, in the future, lead the “modern Jewish Christians” and ALL THE NATIONS OF THE MODERN WORLD backwards – to those ancient and “rudimentary things” ( Gk: "stoicheion" - Col 2:8, 20; 2 Pet 3:10) that only served to point to Messiah, the cross, the resurrection etc.???

The N.T. writers tell us that a RETURN to the Mosaic Economy (the OLD covenant system) would be to apostatize from Christ and to INVALIDATE the cross of Christ!!

• (14:16) – Will “all the nations” [of the entire modern world] soon be “GOING UP” to the modern city of Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Jewish feasts?? How will we all FIT??

Will ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD soon, SUDDENLY become AGRARIAN BASED in order to begin THE ANNUAL PLANTING AND HARVESTING CYCLE necessary to keep the feast of booths (tabernacles) yearly? Because, if we do not - God is going to bring PLAGUES upon all those wicked nations and destroy their crops by withholding rain on their crops. (14:17-20)

• Is modern Israel under Messiah going to return to bloody ANIMAL SACRIFICES (the NT says that would be nothing short of "blasphemous" - (study the Book of Hebrews). Will they also be cooking these sacrificial animals in ancient cauldrons with sacred inscriptions carved into these utensils (14:21) See the Heb word – “ciyr” = “cooking cauldron”????? NO MODERN STOVES OR OVENS??

• Will the “CANAANITE” peoples (an extinct race of ancient Arabs) somehow re-appear in this 21st century world and soon be meeting side by side with modern Jews in a future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem - only to be 'kicked-out' when Jesus returns (14:21)????

So…what does Mr. Ice SAY to ALL OF THIS in his article??

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Like the Book of Revelation - the context here in Zech 12-14 absolutely screams "ANCIENT MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURE" that it hardly seems worthy of debate.”

Mr. Ice Continues…

“Further, Zechariah goes on to say, "In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (12:8) and "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle" (14:3). I concluded that this does not fit with what happened to Jerusalem in AD 70 when the Romans conquered Israel.

Finally, it says that the Lord will rescue Israel, in that day (14:3), whereas, in AD 70 the Lord judged Israel as Luke 21:20-24 notes. "How does a preterist say that Zechariah speaks of AD 70 when the Lord is rescuing His people in that passage?

Now keep in mind that Dr. Gentry is one of foremost preterist spokesmen on the planet. His answer, in essence, was to say that the Church had replaced Israel. This is similar to what the late David Chilton had said in his preterist commentary on Revelation:

Another passage parallel to this is Zechariah 12, which pictures Jerusalem as a cup of drunkenness to the nations (Zech. 12:2; cf. Rev. 14:8–9), a laver of fire that will consume the heathen (Zech. 12:6; Rev. 15:2). The irony of Revelation, as we have seen repeatedly, is that first-century Israel herself has taken the place of the heathen nations in the prophecies: She is consumed in the fiery laver—the Lake of Fire—while the Church, having passed through the holocaust, inherits salvation. 1

A preterist cannot give a textual interpretation of Zechariah 12—14 because they believe it is to be equated with God’s judgment at the hands of the Romans in AD 70 upon Israel—error number one. Greg Beale notes that, "Zechariah 12 does not prophesy Israel’s judgment but Israel’s redemption."2 Zechariah 12—14 clearly speaks of a time when Israel is rescued by the Lord from an attack by "all the nations of the earth," not just the Romans—error number two.

In this context, Israel must refer to Israel. Since that it true, then the event of Zechariah 12—14 has not yet happened in history. This means that it is a future event. Dr. Beale makes a comment about Daniel that applies to Zechariah as well:

…the burden of proof rests on these preterists to provide an exegetical rationale both for exchanging a pagan nation with Israel as the primary object of Daniel’s final judgment and for limiting the last judgment mainly to Israel and not applying it universally.3

Preterists and Futurists, like myself, both agree that Luke 21:20-24 prophesied the AD 70 Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Using Luke 21:20-24 as a baseline, notice the contrasts between it and Zechariah 12—14, as observed by Randall Price.

Because of the differences between the above contrasted passages, it is impossible to harmonize with events that have already taken place. Impossible as long as two plus two continues to equal four. But some of the best minds that preterism has to offer attempt to place round pegs into square holes.

Conclusion

The only way that preterists can attempt to deal with Zechariah 12—14 is not by taking the words and phrases of the passage in its literary context, but by simply declaring that the church replaces Israel.

The text of Scripture is supposed to be the basis upon which we develop sound theology. Instead, preterists have to impose their false theological beliefs upon God’s inerrant Word. Walt Kaiser is on the mark in commenting on this passage the following:

In no other chapter of the Bible is the interpretation of the name "Israel" more important than in Zechariah 14. To say that "Israel" means the "Church," as many have done, would lead to a most confusing picture in this chapter and in the end of chapter 13. For example, 13:8-9 affirms that two-thirds of the land (Israel) will die, but few would be willing to say two-thirds of the Church will be slaughtered in the final day. Clearly "Israel" refers to that geo-political unit known today as the nation of Israel.7

God’s Word wants His Church to be forward looking to a secure and certain future of victory. Such a perspective enables a believer to live faithfully in the present because of the future. The past is equally important. However, a false view of the past will rob a believer in the present of the hope needed to live boldly for our Lord. Maranatha!

A Response from Mr. Ed Stevens…

Mr. Ice is playing the old "straw-man" tactic. Notice he does not quote the REAL "preterists" (i.e., Full Prets). He only picks on the partial (inconsistent) preterists who have no consistent answer. Several presuppositional problems and oversights here, on Tommy Ice's part:

He assumes that ALL preterists (partials and fulls) are guilty of "replacement" theology (when in fact, almost all full preterists, as far as I know, are teaching "remnant" theology). We believe that God did not cut off ALL Israel from his Olive Tree. There was a righteous remnant left who did accept Jesus as their Messiah. Into that righteous remnant of True Israel (the Spiritual Israel) the Gentiles were grafted, in order to make the Jews jealous and entice them to be grafted back into their native Olive Tree and save some of them. Together with the engrafted Gentiles and the re-grafted Israelites, this righteous remnant became the ALL ISRAEL that inherited the promises.

He assumes that the Jerusalem mentioned in Zech is the physical city of Jerusalem (when in fact it is talking about the New Heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in Hebrew 12 and Revelation21-22). 

He assumes that the references to "Israel" in Zech are the physical nation of Israel (when in fact it is talking about the New True Spiritual Israel that Paul refers to in the book of

Romans 2, and chs. 9-11, as well as the allegory in Gal. 4).

He forgets about the Neronic persecution (AD 64) when both Rome and the Jews combined forces against the Church to destroy her and wipe her off the map. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that unless those days had been cut short, they would have succeeded. Sure enough, two years later (AD 66) the Jewish War broke out and Rome turned its attention away from hunting Christians, to attacking the Jews.

He forgets that by the first century the Hebrew people had become a melting pot of ALL NATIONS, especially in the Diaspora (Persia, India, Africa, Turkey, Greece, Rome, France, Spain, Britain, Germania, Scythia, Armenia, etc.). Just look at the description in Acts 2 of all the nations where "Jews" came from. There were Jewish communities scattered all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. When the Neronic persecution broke out, every Jewish community in the Diaspora (among "all the nations") took advantage of the opportunity to wipe out the Christians, and used Roman authority to do it. They  were just like the wicked Haman of the book of Esther who plotted to wipe out all the Jews. That was when "all the nations" (Diaspora Jews) came against God's people (the Christians, the New Jerusalem, the true Spiritual Israel) in the Neronic persecution (AD 64). But God turned the tables on the Hamanites. Less than two years later (AD 66) the Jews revolted, and God brought the Romans to wipe out "all the nations" (Diaspora Jews) who had come up against His true spiritual people.

Because Tommy Ice does not know his history nor understand prophetic language, he does not realize that "all the nations" which came against the True Israel and the New Jerusalem, really were destroyed by the Romans. In AD 66, when the war broke out, Diaspora Jews were forced to flee from "all the nations" where they had been scattered and take refuge in Israel. When they got back to the land, they joined the revolt and ended up being killed and enslaved afterwards.

Lastly, Tommy does not realize that God's true people (the New Jerusalem, the True Spiritual Israel) actually WERE saved in that day when "all the nations" that came against them were destroyed. The small band of elect saints (the True Israel) that survived the Neronic persecution ("all the nations" who came against them) were caught up to be with Christ just as the Zealots were beginning the revolt (Pentecost, AD 66). This was when the Priests doing the evening offering in the Temple heard a large crowd of people (in the unseen realm) departing saying, "Let us go from this place." [Josephus Wars 6:297-300 (6.5.3)]

Also, see my book, “First Century Events”, for much more documentation on all of this.

*For Mr. Don Preston’s insights follow the links below…

http://www.eschatology.org/all-articles-articles-211/113-old-testament-prophecies/953-zechariah-14-fulfilled-or-future

http://www.eschatology.org/all-articles-articles-211/91-study-by-passage/809-was-zechariah-123-fulfilled-in-ad-70

The Dispensational View of Double Fulfillment of Prophecy-- and Joel McDurmon- #1

At the 2011 Prophecy Conference sponsored by American Vision, of Powder Springs, GA., Joel McDurmon presented a speech entitled “Double Fulfillment: Double Cross.” In that presentation he examined the Dispensational practice and claim that Bible prophecy must be fulfilled twice. Thus, while many OT prophecies did have “audience relevance” for the ancient audiences to whom they were addressed, those prophecies will be fulfilled again in the last days. McDurmon categorically rejected this hermemeutic.

In his book, Jesus –V- Jerusalem, which is truly excellent in many ways, McDurmon continued his attack of the Dispensational “double fulfillment” practice, especially as it relates to the anti-christ.  Millennialists claim that the first century “anti-christ” that John spoke of as already present—in fulfillment of prophecy, by the way, “pre-figure” the final, greater” end times anti-christ.  McDurmon said this double fulfillment practice “distorts the scripture”  (Jesus -v-Jerusalem, Powder Springs, GA., 2011)185).

It is worth while to note that McDurmon is not alone in (ostensibly) rejecting the “double fulfillment” practice. Kenneth Gentry likewise attacks and rejects that practice, at least when addressing Dispensational theology. Responding to C. M. Pate, who claimed that the mark of the beast (Jewish) was a type of the future events, Gentry says: “Pate specifically notes that the mark of the beast ‘can be understood as pointing a guilty finger at those Jews in the first century.’  Why, then, should we look for further fulfillments beyond this most relevant first century one?” (Four Views of Revelation, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998, Stanley Gundry, Series Editor)45).

So, McDurmon and Gentry (and we could add DeMar and other postmillennialists to the list) are on record as rejecting the Dispensational “double fulfillment” view of prophecy.

Now, fast forward to July, 2012, Ardmore, Oklahoma, and the McDurmon –V- Preston formal debate.  (DVDs and MP3s of that debate are now available, and I urge you to get a copy and listen and watch it carefully, with your Bible and note book handy).

One of McDurmon’s key points, indeed one might say one of the points critical to his entire eschatology, is in fact, the concept of “Double fulfillment”…no, scratch that, “multiple fulfillments” of Bible prophecy! Joel and the Dominionists are not, in truth, satisfied with Double Fulfillment. They are on record as affirming many, many fulfillments of Bible prophecy! Here are just two quotes from Joel during the debate itself.

“We hear a lot about this one hope and I was ‑‑ this was thrown at me that I apparently ‑‑ because of all these variegated, multiple fulfillments that I have…” (My emphasis).

“You don't have to say, oh, well, where does it say this will be done twice? It doesn't have to say it will be done twice. The nature of Biblical prophecy is variations upon the theme until you reach that vast final conclusion.”

So after rejecting and condemning the Dispensationalists for positing the Double Fulfillment of prophecy, McDurmon not only affirmed Double Fulfillment, he affirmed Many Fulfillments!

McDurmon’s multiple—at least double—fulfillment view was illustrated in stunning fashion, when, after being pressed repeatedly to show how he could divorce 1 Corinthians 15 from the consummation of Israel’s Old Covenant age, McDurmon said, “My belief system allows me to believe that there could have been a fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20, but, that there will yet be a final fulfillment.” araphrase of his words).

In response, I challenged Joel to produce for us, and show how that was possible. If the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20 was fulfilled, in anyway, this demands that there was a resurrection to eternal life, a White Throne Judgment, and the destruction of death—all in AD 70! I challenged Joel to explain, exegetically, how this could be, and what the difference would be, between the resurrection to eternal life, and destruction of death in AD 70 and that which he says is still future? I received not a word of explanation.

I should also note that I pointed out, repeatedly, that according to Gentry, DeMar, McDurmon, and a host of other postmillennialists, that the New Creation of Revelation 21-22 arrived in AD 70. I showed that in that New Creation, which again, these men affirm arrived in AD 70—the text of Revelation 21 and 22 emphatically says there is “no more (the) death” and “there is no more curse no more” (22:3-4). I repeatedly asked, that if, in AD 70, death was destroyed, and “there is no more curse no more” then how in the name of reason and logic are we still waiting for the world in which there is no more (the) death and the removal of “the curse”? Again, not a word of response.

Do you catch the power of that?

Now, it is incredibly disengenuous to say that AD 70 brought the “no more death” and “no more curse no more” state, and then turn around and claim that we are waiting on the world of “no more death” and “no more curse no more”! There is not one word of textual support for such a position, and to simply say “My belief system allows me to hold to such a doctrine” is nothing more than sophistry.  What does “no more curse no more” mean, anyway?

It is simply illogical for the Dominionists to say that Dispensationalists are wrong to affirm Double Fulfillment and then turn around and affirm multiple fulfillments. Is it wrong to posit double fulfillment, but scriptural to affirm many—as long as it is not double?

The Postmillennial, Dominionist, paradigm of multiple fulfillments is to say the least, self contradictory in its attack of Dispensationalism. How can Dominionists condemn the millennial insistence on Double Fulfillment, and then turn around and posit, not just double, but, multiple fulfillments, and maintain any hermeneutical or logical credibility?

The Dominionists have patently surrendered their ground to the Dispensationalists, all the while claiming to eschew that doctrine.

 

Don K. Preston

More to come

Does Prophecy Demand Literal Fulfillment?

AN OBJECTION CONSIDERED– AND ANSWERED

 

Don K. Preston D. Div.

The following objection is lodged against Covenant Eschatology:

"All of the prophecies that Christ fulfilled in His first coming were fulfilled in a literal, physical manner; therefore, we should expect Him to fulfill prophecies regarding His Second Coming in a literal, physical manner."

This objection is common among dispensationalists especially. Grant Jeffrey goes so far as to say: "There is not one example in the Bible of a prophecy that was fulfilled in an allegorical, non-historical manner." (Triumphant Return, (Toronto, Frontier Research Publications, 2001, 100).

Like some other objections against preterism, this objection has the initial semblance of credibility, until one takes a closer look. In fact, it is easily demonstrated that Jeffrey’s claim is brash and specious.

Hebrews 2:9-14 tells us that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, and, "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."

This passage establishes the necessity for Jesus’ physical appearance and work: "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among men" (John 1:14). In His own ministry, Jesus spoke often of the necessity of giving Israel the sufficient signs that she needed to know that He was truly Messiah. His physical resurrection is distinctly given as a sign of the greater spiritual reality of his Sonship (Matt 16). The physical bore witness to the spiritual.

In fact, John’s Gospel chronicles seven signs—all physical events—each of which pointed not to greater physical events, but to spiritual realities. Notice that, in chapter 20:30-31, John ends his Gospel with the chronicle of Jesus’ physical resurrection. He then says, "Many other signs did Jesus in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book, but, these are written that you might believe." Again, Jesus’ physical resurrection pointed to a greater spiritual reality, not another physical reality. Thus, the need for initial physical, visible realities to point to the greater spiritual realities. Let us now revisit Jeffrey’s rather bold statement.

Consider John the Immerser

John the Baptizer was indisputably "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare the Way of the Lord’" (Mark 1:1-3). Consider the details of the voice’s ministry:

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the LORD;

Make straight in the desert

A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted

And every mountain and hill brought low;

The crooked places shall be made straight

And the rough places smooth;

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

And all flesh shall see it together’" (Isaiah 40:3-5).

So, according to Isaiah, the voice, i.e. John the Baptizer, would be a master road builder, the ultimate landscaper! Do you see the problem here for our objection?

John was unequivocally the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. As such, he was supposed to fill the valleys, lower the hills, and straighten out the crooked highways! Jeffrey, and the objection under consideration, states no Old Testament prophecy was ever fulfilled spiritually. The objection is clearly proven false, however, when one considers John the Baptizer. John was totally unconcerned with physical highways, lowering literal hills, and filling up the valleys with dirt. The Old Covenant prophecy of the voice was patently fulfilled spiritually.

Consider Jesus’ Ministry as Well

The Old Covenant contains many prophecies of the building of the Messianic Temple. In fact, this is a hugely important topic.

Our dispensational friends insist on a yet future building of a physical temple located in the city of Jerusalem. Furthermore, they tell us that the Old Covenant never predicted the establishment of the Church as the Messianic Temple. With this in mind, consider Jesus and the Messianic Temple.

"The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:22-24)

This prophecy foretold the rejection of the chief cornerstone of the foundation of the Messianic Temple. It would be rejected by the builders but, after being rejected would become the chief cornerstone.

Are we dealing with a literal massive stone that at some point in the future will be initially rejected by the builders of the millennial temple but, after closer inspection, will then become the literal, physical master cornerstone? Let’s allow the New Testament writers to answer that.

"Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:10-12)

Consider these critical issues:

1.) Peter stated that the Old Testament prophets did not know either the time or the manner of the fulfillment of their prophecies (1 Peter 1:10-12). Now, if the Old Testament prophets did not know the time or the manner (nature) of the fulfillment of their prophecies, this falsifies the claim that we must interpret the Old Testament in a woodenly literal way. After all, the Old Testament prophets knew what a stone was, did they not? They knew, from a literalistic perspective, what the Temple of the Lord was, did they not? So, according to the objection under consideration, when Psalm 118 foretold the rejection of the chief cornerstone becoming the foundation of the Messianic Temple, then the Psalmist knew precisely what he was predicting, right? Not according to Peter!

2.) Consider how Peter, inspired by the Spirit, interpreted the prophecy of the rejected Stone becoming the foundation of the Messianic Temple. (For an in-depth study of the Rejected Stone motif see my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, available from my website: www.eschatology.org). Peter stated that the rejected Stone was none other than the living Christ, rejected by "you the builders!" (cf. Matt 21:42, where Jesus likewise applied the Psalm to himself).

Consider also Isaiah 28:16: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily."

This is patently a prediction of the Messianic Temple which, our premillennial friends tell us, can be nothing but a literal temple made of physical stone. And remember that they also tell us that the Church cannot be the Temple of Messiah predicted in the Old Covenant. But how do the New Testament writers interpret this prophecy? Just as in Psalm 118:22, they say that Jesus is the living foundation stone of the Messianic Temple.

In Romans 9:33 Paul cites Isaiah 28 (and Isaiah 8:14, another prediction of the Messianic Temple) and applies the prophecy to Jesus’ rejection by the Jews and the fact that Jesus was the sure foundation stone that would save those who trust in him.

Likewise, in 1 Peter 2:6f the apostle cites almost every Old Testament prophecy of the foundation stone and applies them directly to Jesus, His rejection, and ensuing exaltation. Peter likewise stated that his audience consisted of "living stones," and were "being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ" (2:5).

So Christ was the precious chosen foundation stone, and the living people were living stones built on that spiritual living foundation stone of Jesus the Messiah, and they were offering up spiritual sacrifices in that spiritual house!

How then did Peter, inspired by the Spirit, interpret the Old Covenant promises and prophecies of the Messianic Temple? He interpreted them as spiritually fulfilled in Christ the living foundation stone!

It is undeniably true therefore, that we have here the spiritual fulfillment of Old Covenant prophecies, and they were fulfilled in Christ’s body, the Church. On this point alone the objection is falsified, but of course, there is much more.

The Son of Man Shall Come In the Glory of the Father

"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matt 16:27-28 NKJV)

The emphatic time element of the text demands that we re-examine our concepts of the nature of the parousia. Jesus said He was coming in judgment in the lifetime of His audience. And, He said He was coming "in the glory of the Father." This highly significant term is commonly overlooked, but is vital to a proper understanding of the nature of Christ’s coming.

Jesus was saying that He was coming in the same way the Father had come! In John 5:19f Jesus basically reiterates this claim by saying that the Father had given Him the judgment prerogative and that He would judge as He had seen the Father judge.

The question of course, is how had the Father come before—how had Jesus seen the Father act in judgment? The answer is that the Father had come many times in the past, and, He had never come literally, visibly, or bodily. Let’s take a look at just one verse that has a direct bearing on our understanding of the nature of Christ’s parousia, and His promise to come as the Father had come.

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!

That You would come down!

That the mountains might shake at Your presence—

As fire burns brushwood,

As fire causes water to boil—

To make Your name known to Your adversaries,

That the nations may tremble at Your presence!

When You did awesome things for which we did not look,

You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence (Isaiah 64:1-3).

For brevity I will make the following observations:

Isaiah (Israel) prays for YHVH to come, to come down out of heaven.

The coming of the Lord here is the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Heaven and Earth of 65:17f.

Isaiah asks for God to rend the heaven and earth, to essentially destroy creation. He wants God to make His presence (LXX, prosopon) known to the nations.

Now, notice the key to understanding the text

Isaiah is asking YHVH to come, as He had come in the past: "When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence."

So, God had come in the past. He had come down out of heaven. He had shaken the earth. He had manifested His name to the nations. And, this is the kind of coming that would take place in order to bring in the New Heaven and Earth!

What Isaiah is describing is a historical Day of the Lord. It had been, and it would be, a time in which YHVH exercised His sovereignty by utilizing one nation to judge another. Clearly, the language is challenging to anyone unwilling to allow the biblical writers to express themselves metaphorically and spiritually. However, the fact that Isaiah says that God had come in the past, that He had shaken the earth in the past, demands that we submit to this metaphoric use of language.

So, what we have here is clear-cut, undeniable biblical teaching that the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Creation—the New Creation of 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21—was not to be a literal physical coming of Jesus out of heaven to physically shake the earth and destroy the cosmos.

Now, were there to be physical events accompanying that coming of the Lord? Undoubtedly! This is not the issue. What we are affirming, however, is that the physical events of the Day symbolized and signified a greater spiritual reality. The physical events appeared to be normal events of human experience, i.e. war! But on the spiritual level, since the prophets had foretold it, and since YHVH was directing the matter, it is called the Day of the Lord.

This is what Jesus said of His coming in Matthew 24:29-31, when He said that the first-century generation would see the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens and they would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory.

It is often claimed that AD 70 could not have been the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, because all the tribes of the earth did not see him, every eye did not see him. However, this misconstrues the linguistic meaning of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. As Gibbs, and a host of Greek commentators, demonstrates "‘the sign of the Son of Man in heaven’ is not a sign in the sky, but, that the fall of Jerusalem was the sign of Christ’s enthronement in the heavens" (Jeffrey A. Gibbs, Jerusalem and Parousia, St. Louis, MO, Concordia Academic Press, 2000, 198f). This is precisely what Isaiah 64 foretold! So, what have we seen?

We have demonstrated the claim that all of the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus’ ministry were fulfilled in a literalistic, physical, literal manner is false. John the Baptist was not a literal road-builder. Jesus was not a literal, physical foundation stone of a material temple.

We have shown that the Old Testament foretold that the coming of the Lord to establish the New Creation would be of the same nature as God’s previous Old Testament comings. Yet God had never come literally, visibly, bodily. Thus, the coming of the Lord to bring in the New Creation would not be literally, visibly, or bodily.

In perfect harmony with this, we have shown that Jesus defined his parousia as a coming like the Father had come in the past, and that the Father had never come literally, visibly or bodily.

We have, in other words, shown that the objection is based on faulty claims, and conflicts with the express statements of Scripture about the nature of the parousia. The claim also directly conflicts with the very emphatic statements as to when Christ was coming—the first century. The objection is, therefore, Overruled!

For a more in-depth analysis of this entire issue see my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory. This book, available on my websites, has been called one of the most comprehensive and definitive works on the nature of the parousia that has been produced.


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