MORE HERMENEUTICAL ISSUES IN OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY

HOW DID THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS PREDICT JESUS?

When Jesus confronted two of His disciples upon the Road to Emmaus, we read that, beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). This points out the fact that all the Scriptures bear witness to Jesus as the coming Messiah.

  1. The Meaning of Fulfillment
  2. The way in which the Jews of Christ's day spoke of fulfillment is quite different than our normal use of the term. They would often take a passage from the Scriptures and apply it to their day (we do much the same thing today). In rabbinic discussion, this was known as a midrash -- literally, a "seeking out."

    It was considered normative to have multiple "fulfillments" of such passages. These could range everywhere from straight literal-historically predictive prophecy all the way to esoteric mystical interpretations.

  3. Categories of Fulfillment

Hosea 11:1

Matthew 2:14-15

When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.

And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "Out of Egypt did I call My Son."

It is very evident from even a cursory reading of Hosea that the context of his prophecy was speaking of Israel being called out of Egypt in the Exodus. How then does Matthew consider Hosea's words to be fulfilled in the person of Christ? It is because Israel is seen to be a type of Christ. Jesus fulfilled that which was true of Israel.

Isaiah 7:14

Matthew 1:22-23

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel

Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us."

Once again, a reading of the context of the Old Testament prophecy indicates a more immediate application. In this case, it is not typology that is in view as much as that the prophecy has both an immediate application as well as an ultimate fulfillment.

Jeremiah 31:15

Matthew 2:17-18

Thus says the LORD, "A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more."

Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she refused to be comforted, Because they were no more."

The context of this prophecy is the returning exiles to the land. In this context, we are drawn to apply these words to those who had suffered loss due to the captivity. Yet Jeremiah is not specific to tell us the details of how this is to be fulfilled and therefore it is only through hindsight that we are able to see that the immediate fulfillment was only partial.

Isaiah 9:1-2

Matthew 4:14-16

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, 15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles -- 16 The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, And to those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a light dawned."

The promise of Isaiah was directed to those living in Galilee who were in the path of the Assyrian onslaught. To them is given the promise that they would be given a great light. This was fulfilled in the Galilean ministry of Jesus. In this case, we have to conclude that the only fulfillment to take place was that which was seen in Christ. There was no earlier light that came to this region.

The same can be said of the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9). There is no other fulfillment to which this prophecy can be applied. It is seen to be fulfilled in Jesus or it is not seen to be fulfilled at all.

In conclusion, we can see that the prophets painted a picture that has universal and complete fulfillment only in light of the completed scope of Messiah's first and second coming.

 Babylonian Exile

Messiah's First Coming

Messiah's Second Coming

Perspective of the Hebrew Prophets

The restoration from captivity of the Jews

The era of Pentecost and the Gospel

The New Earth and the Age to Come

Partial Fulfillment

Spiritual Fulfillment

Universal Fulfillment

The nations oppress the people of God

Nations are free to hear the witness of Christ

The nations serve the King forever

It has often been observed that the prophecies that we know from our perspective to refer to the first coming of Messiah as opposed to the second coming are given without obvious distinction.

This has been likened to looking at a mountain range from a distance and being unable to view the valleys that lay hidden between the various peaks.

For example, in Luke 4:16-21 Jesus read a passage from the book of Isaiah and stated that it had been fulfilled in Him. An examination of Isaiah 61:1-2 will reveal that the remainder of this passage deals with the Day of God's Judgment which presumably shall take place at the Second Coming of the Lord.

  1. Types of Fulfillments.
  2. Prophetic Fulfillment can be Literal, Figurative, or Spiritual.

    a. Literal fulfillments.

    Some fulfillments of prophecy take place in a very literal manner.

    Example: Ezekiel 26:1-14 gives a very detailed account of the several falls of the city of Tyre. The prophecy took place very literally, the city being actually thrown into the sea.

    Example: Compare Zechariah 9:9 with Matthew 21:5 where the Messiah rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. The fulfillment is seen in a very literal manner.

    Example: Compare Psalm 22:18 (They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots) with John 19:23-24 where the soldiers divide the garments of Jesus by casting lots for them.

    b. Figurative fulfillments.

    There are times when the language of a prophecy is clearly figurative and not meant to be taken literally.

    Example: In John 2:19 Jesus stands in the Temple in Jerusalem and says, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." However, verse 21 says that "He spoke of the temple of His body."

    Example: Compare Psalm 118:22 with Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7 where Jesus is the stone which the builders rejected. We are not meant to understand literal sticks and stones.

    Example: Compare Isaiah 22:22 with Revelation 3:7 where the key is a representation of the authority of Jesus.

    Isaiah 22:22. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open.

    Example: Compare Zechariah 13:7 with Matthew 26:31 where Jesus is seen to be the shepherd that was smitten. "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones." (Zechariah 13:7).

    c. Spiritual fulfillments.

    In these cases, what seemed to be a literal prophecy is later seen to have a spiritual fulfillment.

    Example: Isaiah 2:2-3 speaks of the mountain of the house of the Lord being established and raised above the hills. This passage is alluded to in Hebrews 12:22 which shows that this is a picture of people turning to Christ in THIS age.

    Example: Amos 9:11-12 tells how God will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old. James used this same passage to refer to the Gentiles coming into the New Testament Church (Acts 15:13-18).

  3. The Purpose of Prophecy.

Prophecy has been described as "history written beforehand." But this is incorrect. If this is the sole purpose of prophecy, then the prophets have done a miserable job. They could have written a much more concise and understandable history.

The prophets gave their prophecies so that their listeners would live differently. Their prophecies were not so much that their listeners would be INFORMED of the future as much as that their listeners would FORM the future.

From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. (John 13:19).

And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe. (John 14:29).

 

COMMON KEYS TO UNLOCKING PROPHECY

1. The New Testament is Necessary to Interpreting the Old Testament.

Many of the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament - specifically those prophecies of the initial coming of the Messiah.

A study of these fulfillments will help us to understand how other prophecies could be fulfilled.

Other Old Testament prophecies are further expounded in the New Testament so that we can more fully understand them.

Example: The promise of the resurrection in Daniel 12:1-2 is further explained in the resurrection promises of 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4.

2. The Old Testament is Necessary to Interpreting the New Testament.

The writers of the New Testament usually assume a prior knowledge of the Old Testament, going so far as to quote and allude to Old Testament prophetic symbols.

Example: Revelation 11:3 introduces two witnesses of the Lord. Verse 4 goes on to identify them as "the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." This is an allusion to Zechariah 4:3-11.

3. The Bible is to Interpret our Current Events, not the Reverse.

We must be careful not to try to force Biblical prophecies into the mold of modern events.

Example: I can remember the extremes that Biblical students have gone to prove that Henry Kissinger was the antichrist, even going so far as to develop a numbering system to derive 666 from his name.

This is nothing new. Many world leaders in the past have been accused of being the antichrist.

m Adolf Hitler.

m Benito Mussolini.

m Napoleon Boneparte.

m Diocletian.

m Nero

m Saddam Hussein

All of these attempted identifications ignored the fact that the New Testament writers described "antichrist" as something that was active in THEIR day.

4. The Symbolic Nature of Dreams and Visions.

There are throughout the Old Testament and especially in the books of Daniel, Zechariah and Revelation a host of dreams and visions.

We need to remember that dreams and visions are exactly that - symbolic representations of both past, present, and future truths.

Thus, when we read of a symbolic event or character, we should not necessarily seek for a physical fulfillment, but rather what that symbol represents.

 

ARE WE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS?

  1. Popular Ideas

Page 17, "We're the generation that saw the fig tree bud forth, as Israel became a nation again in 1948. As a rule, a generation in the Bible lasts 40 years. The children of Israel journeyed in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation died. Forty years after 1948 would bring us to 1988."

Ibid, page 20, "From my understanding of biblical prophecies, I'm convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981. I could be wrong but it's a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief.

Ibid, page 21, The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right.

In discussing who is the generation that shall see the return of Christ, LaHaye taught that it was the people who saw the First World War (Pg 165). It would be foolhardy to say exactly, but perhaps somewhere between five years and fourteen years of age in 1914. I believe it is the last generation which our Lord said "will not pass away till all those things be fulfilled (Pg 166).

All of us know gray-haired members of the generation that experienced the events of World War I. I know several who have already gone to be with the Lord, so the people of that generation do not have much more time on this earth. I refuse to set any date limits, for the Lord didn't, but he did specify a generation's experiences and said that he would return during that period. We are in the twilight of that generation -- that I firmly believe. (Pg 168).

  1. The "Latter Days" according to Moses -- Deut. 4:28-30; 28:1-30:10; Lev. 26
  2. Moses pictured the history of Israel as a cycle. When Israel was obedient to the Lord, she enjoyed blessings from the Lord in material produce and in military victory. On the other hand, when Israel was disobedient, she suffered economic and agricultural hardship and military defeat.

    When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you shall surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but shall be utterly destroyed. 27 And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you shall be left few in number among the nations, where the LORD shall drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.

    29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice (Deuteronomy 4:25-30).

    We have already taken note of the cursings and blessings that are found in Deuteronomy 28. These conclude with a warning that if Israel is disobedient to the covenant they shall be taken back to their former chains in Egypt.

    By contrast, Leviticus 26 ends upon a positive note as it concludes that, after having been disciplined by the Lord, if Israel shall repent and return to the Lord, He will remember the covenant and will deliver them.

    The same promise is seen here in Deuteronomy 4:30. When Moses mentions the "latter days," it describes that time when Israel shall return to the Lord and hear His voice.

  3. "The Latter Days" in the Early Prophets -- Am. 4:1-3; Isa. 5:8-30 cf. Am. 9:11-15; Isa. 2:2-5

The Early Prophets refer to those who lived prior to the Babylonian Captivity. Their view of eschatology was the same general view as that held by Moses. It consisted of three parts:

The following three passages illustrate the prophets and their teachings on these three points:

The Lord God has sworn by His holiness,

"Behold, the days are coming upon you

When they will take you away with meat hooks,

And the last of you with fish hooks. (Amos 4:2).

In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David,

And wall up its breaches;

I will also raise up its ruins,

And rebuild it as in the days of old;

12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom

And all the nations who are called by My name,"

Declares the LORD who does this. (Amos 9:11-12).

This passage was quoted in Acts 15 as having an application to THAT day. The scene was when Gentiles were being permitted to come into the church. It was viewed as the means by which the Lord was raising up His people to their former glory.

Although the general pattern of eschatology held by Moses was also held by the early prophets, there were some distinct additions.

The three of these new aspects came about because of distinct turning points in Israel's history.

The Lord entered into a covenant with David. This covenant promised that David would have a son who would rule over an eternal kingdom. The initial fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant was seen in Solomon. But the ultimate fulfillment is seen is Jesus, the Son of David.

Exile

Restoration

David's descendants to be taken into exile.

A glorious throne will be established

'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD.

'And some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall be taken away; and they shall become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon." (Isaiah 39:6-7)

"At that time they shall call Jerusalem 'The Throne of the LORD,' and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor shall they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart." (Jeremiah 3:17).

Worship during the days of Moses had been in the Tabernacle. This changed during the reign of Solomon when the Tabernacle was replaced by a permanent dwelling -- the Temple.

Just as the prophets foretold the captivity of the throne of David, so they also foretold of the destruction of the Temple.

Exile

Restoration

Temple to be Destroyed

A glorious Temple will be established

Therefore, on account of you, Zion will be plowed as a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of ruins, And the mountain of the temple will become high places of a forest (Micah 3:12)

Now it will come about that In the last days,

The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains,

And will be raised above the hills;

And all the nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

The promised exile was to be at the hands of the Gentiles. But the promised restoration would point to a Gentile defeat.

Exile

Restoration

Gentiles victorious over Israel

Gentiles punished for plundering Israel

There was also a promise that the Gentiles would ultimately be drawn to the Lord in faith.

Now it will come about that In the last days,

The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains,

And will be raised above the hills;

And all the nations will stream to it.

3 And many peoples will come and say,

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

To the house of the God of Jacob;

That He may teach us concerning His ways,

And that we may walk in His paths."

For the law will go forth from Zion,

And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

4 And He will judge between the nations,

And will render decisions for many peoples;

And they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not lift up sword against nation,

And never again will they learn war. (Isaiah 2:2-4).

This passage is also quoted nearly word for word in Micah 4:1-3. The two prophets were contemporary, so we do not know who copied from whom. The prophecy points to a time when Jerusalem would be lifted up as the center of learning for all of the world, thus bringing in a time of peace.

  1. "The Latter Days" in the Later Prophets -- Jer. 29:10; Dan. 2:28; 9; Hag. 2:20-23; Mal. 4

For thus says the LORD, "When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place." (Jeremiah 29:10).

However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. (Daniel 2:28).

As we go on to read the rest of the prophecy of Daniel 2, we see that it points ultimately to Christ and the eternal kingdom that he would establish.

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44).

As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth. (Daniel 9:13).

The promise to Moses had always been that restoration would take place only when the people repented. There was never a restoration promised apart from repentance. Instead there remains only a promise of further judgment.

If also after these things, you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins (Leviticus 26:18).

As a result, Daniel is told that there will be a lengthening of the time of judgment. Instead of being only 70 years in duration, it will now be over a period of seventy sevens.

There remains a promise of future restoration and judgment.

Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah saying, "I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. 23 On that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,' declares the LORD, 'and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,'" declares the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:21-23).

The book of Malachi closes with a promise of the eventual coming of the Lord.

  1. "The Latter Days" in the New Testament Act. 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:5, 20; Heb. 1:2 (Inauguration, Continuation, Consummation of Christ's Kingdom)

At the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, we see Him going into the synagogue at Nazareth and reading from the Old Testament Scriptures.

And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, 19 to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:17-19).

When read against the background of the Old Testament prophets, we can understand that Jesus was promising nothing less than the return and restoration from the spiritual captivity that was promised by those prophets.

In Acts 2 we see Peter standing up following the Pentecost Event and addressing those who had gathered:

But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words.15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 And I will grant wonders in the sky above, And signs on the earth beneath, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' (Acts 2:14-21).

Peter points to the events that had taken place in his day and he identifies them as that which was spoken through the prophet Joel. Verse 17 clearly says that this was a prophecy of the last days.

Twenty years later, Peter again attested to the proximity of the Last Days when he described how Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you (1 Peter 1:20).

At the same time, there are also references in the New Testament to the last days that are yet in the future.

2 Timothy 3:1 begins with a call to realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. The implications is that there were still last days to be viewed in the future.

This means that New Testament Eschatology can be understood in three parts:

John the Baptist made it very clear that the Kingdom was coming with the King. Jesus said much the same thing in Luke 17:20-21. Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst."

Today we live in the age of the Continuation of the Kingdom. Jesus illustrated this graphically in His parables. In the parables of the leaven and of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33), Jesus tells how the kingdom is likened to that which has slow and gradual growth over a period of time.

Ultimately we look to the return of Christ and the advent of His eternal kingdom. 1 Peter 1:5 speaks of how we are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS ESCHATOLOGICAL VIEWS?

  1. Dispensational Premillennialism

A complex series of comings of Christ that mandate God having two separate and distinct programs for history; one involving the nation of Israel and the other involving the church.

This view is or fairly recent origin, having been construed and brought to popularity through the Plymouth Brethren in the 1800's.

At the heart of this view is the contention that there are two future comings of Christ. The problem is that the Scriptures which are used to try to present such a distinction to not lend themselves to it.

"Rapture"

Second Coming

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven... (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

They will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky... (Matthew 24:30).

With the trumpet of God...(1 Thessalonians 4:16).

He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet (Matthew 24:31).

We who are alive shall be caught up together... (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

And they will gather together His elect from the four winds... (Matthew 24:31).

We... shall be caught up together with them in CLOUDS (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

They will see the Son of Man coming on the CLOUDS of the sky... (Matthew 24:30).

...if you will not wake up, I will come like a thief (Revelations 3:3).

The Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will (Matthew 24:44; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 and 2 Peter 3:10).

...the coming of our Lord Jesus WITH all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

...the Lord came WITH many thousands of His holy ones (Jude 14).

It seems as though the writers of the New Testament went out of their way to correlate the events of the Lord's return, even going so far as to deliberately use the same vocabulary and terms. There is no hint in the Scriptures that we are to understand these as separate and distinct events from one another.

Unfortunately, this prophetic view has been recently popularized in the guise of a series of books of "Christian fiction."

  1. Historical Premillennialism
  2. Similar to the Dispensational scheme as outlined above, but without the separate "rapture" (this event is seen to be the same as the 2nd coming). Unlike its Dispensational counterpart, it does not hinge upon an acceptance of Dispensationalism nor does it mandate a separation between Israel and the church.

    The problem that this view faces is in understanding the Kingdom to be limited only to a thousand years when 2 Peter 1:11 speaks of the "eternal kingdom." This problem is solved by maintaining that the 1000-year millennium is only the first phase of the eternal kingdom.

  3. Amillennialism
  4. Views the prophecies of tribulation and the kingdom as being fulfilled throughout this present age. Christ returns at the end of this age to usher in the eternal state.

    This view looks at Revelation 20 and sees it as symbolic language for the present continuing kingdom today. Satan is seen to be bound with reference to his ability to deceive the nations. It is for this reason that the gospel has gone out to all of the nations and there are today believers to be found in every nation.

    This view answers the previous dilemma about the kingdom being an everlasting kingdom. Furthermore, it can view a passage like 2 Peter 3:10-12 at face value instead of insisting that this is an event taking place at the close of a 1000 year kingdom in which Jesus has ruled; a description that hardly sounds like "a thief."

  5. Postmillennialism
  6. This view sees the church spreading throughout the world and the Lord eventually establishing His kingdom through the preaching of the gospel. Christ returns at the end of the age to find a church victorious.

    Much of modern Postmillennialism is seen hand-in-hand with a 5th view known as Preterism.

  7. Preterism

The word "preterist" is taken from the Latin word meaning "past." This view denies any future fulfillment of the book of Revelation and sees the events it describes as already having been fulfilled within the first century after Christ.

There are several different forms of Preterism. Full Preterism views all of the prophecies of the Bible as having already been fulfilled in their entirety since the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Full Preterism is a very recent innovation that has no adherents in any of the writings of the early church.

Partial Preterism maintains a future return of Christ, but views His "coming in the clouds" as described in Matthew 24:29-31 as having been fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the fall of Jerusalem.

With regards to Preterism, I am reminded of the words of Jesus when He said to the disciples, "The days shall come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Look there! Look here!' Do not go away, and do not run after them. For just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day." (Luke 17:22-24).

It seems to me that the Preterist is one who is pointing to the A.D. 70 event and saying, "Look there! Look here!" But there is going to be no mistaking the coming of the Son of Man when He finally returns.

It is clear from a reading of the apostolic and church fathers that ALL of them expected a future return of Jesus Christ. It would be strange indeed if the entire church failed to understand the fulfillment of so many of the New Testament prophecies on such a major point.

Fundamental to full Preterism is the idea that there is no future physical resurrection of the dead. But the pattern for our resurrection is that of Jesus. The big idea presented in 1 Corinthians 15 is that Jesus arose from the dead. This was not merely some sort of spiritual resurrection. His resurrection was bodily and physical. Furthermore we are told that His resurrection serves as the paradigm for our own resurrection. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). He is the firstfruits and we are the "later fruits."

When Paul came to Athens, he was mocked by the Greeks for believing in a physical resurrection. Such mockery would not have been forthcoming had he held that the resurrection was only going to be of a spiritual or mystical nature. But he went out of his way to side himself with the Pharisees who believed in a physical resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6-8).

One wonders whether the Full Preterist is completely consistent in his views. After all, most Full Preterists continue to partake of the Lord's Supper in spite of the fact that Paul said that the eating and drinking serves to "proclaim the Lord's death UNTIL HE COMES" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Postmillennialism

Amillennialism

Historic Premillennialism

Dispensational Premillennialism

Hermeneutics

Context and genre are important interpretive considerations

Strong inclination toward literalism

Second Coming

Christ's 2nd coming takes place after the millennium. This coming initiates a general resurrection, the judgment of al men, and the eternal state for believers and unbelievers

Christ's 2nd coming takes place before the millennium

Christ comes in a rapture and then again after a 7-year tribulation to establish an earthly kingdom

Timing of the Kingdom

God's kingdom is a present earthly reality that started with Christ's first advent

There is a present reality to the kingdom, but this will give way to a future fulfillment of 1000 years

An earthly kingdom lasting 1000 years will be established by Christ after His 2nd coming

Nature of the Kingdom

The kingdom is spiritual in nature. It will grow to fill the whole earth

The kingdom is spiritual in nature.

The 2nd coming will establish a literal 1000 year kingdom on earth

The literal 1000 year kingdom on earth will be primarily Jewish in nature

Millennium Description

We are in the millennium now. It will slowly and progressively become a "golden age."

We are in the millennium now. The millennium is the church age.

The millennium is future. Christ will reign with absolute control.

The millennium is future. The Old Testament Jewish economy will be restored.

Millennium Duration

A prolonged period of time greater than a 1000 year period. The 2nd coming follows the millennium.

Exactly 1000 years. The 2nd coming precedes the millennium

Satan's Binding and Current Status

At Christ's death and resurrection Satan was bound with respect to his ability to deceive the nations and prevent them from hearing the truth about God.

The future 2nd coming of Christ will cause Satan to be bound 1000 years. He is not bound now, but rules the kingdom of this present world.

Tribulation

Took place in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

The church is in tribulation in this age.

A future 7 year tribulation will precede the 2nd Coming. The church will go through this tribulation

A future 7 year tribulation will precede the 2nd Coming. The church will escape this tribulation by being "raptured."

Rapture

The Rapture and the 2nd coming take place at the same time.

The Rapture precedes the 2nd Coming by 7 years.


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