PRETERISM: Rebuttal to Gary DeMar’s End Times Fiction
REBUTTAL OF GARY DEMAR’S
END TIMES FICTION
by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD.
This 215 page book spends the last 5 pages telling us what Gary DeMar thinks is correct and 210 explaining why Tim LaHaye’s theology is “fiction.” Since it is good to know where a particular writer is coming from, I want to begin with what Gary DeMar believes concerning Bible prophecy for our future.
Although he well knows the answers to the questions he poses after debating this for years, he gives the reader the impression that LaHaye’s arguments are childish and easily refuted.
WHAT DEMAR BELIEVES: (P211-215)
DEMAR: Satan was active in opposing God from the Creation — until AD70. After AD70 Satan is no longer around to influence anybody to sin. “The Bible says that Satan is defeated, disarmed (Rev 12:7-17) and spoiled (Col 2:15; Mark 3:27), fallen (Luke 10:18) and thrown down (Rev 12:9). He was crushed under the feet of the early Christians (Rom 16:20). He has lost authority over Christians (Col 1:13) and has been judged (John 16:11). He cannot touch a Christian (1 John 5:18). His works have been destroyed (1 John 3:8). He has nothing (John 14:30). He flees when resisted (James 4:7) and is bound (Mark 3:7; Luke 11:20; Rev 20:2). … And what of the evil of the world? Can it all be attributed to the Devil?” Quotes James 1:14-15 (p212).
REPLY: First, while Jesus was healing and working miracles, He was pointing out that He was able to do these things because He was stronger than Satan. He could “bind” Satan (Mk 3:27), “cast out devils” (Lk 11:20) and “bruise Satan under foot” (Rom 16:20). This speaks of Jesus’ authority rather than an invalid Satan!
Second, when Satan’s treatment of the holy sinless Jesus exposed his true nature, Satan was “judged” (John 16:11), “cast out” and “fell” from the gates of heaven as legitimate ruler of Earth (Job 1:7; Luke 10:18; John 12:31).
Third, although they can still be ‘indirectly’ influenced by Satan,
born again Christians who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit cannot be directly controlled by Satan. Christians have already “been delivered from the power of darkness” (Col 1:13) refers more to justification by faith and salvation than it does to life’s daily struggle of sanctification (1 Jn 5:18). When believers resist the Devil, he flees from them (Js 4:7). However, since sin still exists after AD70, this does not mean that unbelievers are not much influenced by satanic forces. First John 3:8 does not say that Jesus has already destroyed the works of the devil in unbelievers. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
Fourth, even after Satan had been judged, humiliated and cast out of heaven, he still had much power. Jesus said that he had ‘nothing’ in me –in Himself. He did not say that he had ‘nothing’ to provoke others with (Jn 14:30).
Fifth, DeMar refers to Revelation 12:7-17; 12:9 and 20:2 to prove that Satan ALREADY had no power and ALREADY had been defeated. Yet DeMar says that the events of Revelation occur between AD67 and AD70 – many years after the afore-mentioned texts from Matthew to First John. There is a very serious disconnect here. DeMar very conveniently omits the actual context of Revelation 12:7-17 and 20:2 where Satan had been far from defeated.
According to DeMar, 12:6 describes Christians who fled Jerusalem and hid for 3 and ½ years from AD67 to AD70 (P86). Yet it seems that, after all the diminishing of Satan from Matthew to First John, Revelation 12:12 still says “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” If, according to DeMar, 12:12 ended in AD70, then 12:17 must occur AFTER AD70 and still applies to Christians of all ages (P108). “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” I conclude that, although Satan has been judged, defeated and kicked out of heaven, he is still alive and well manipulating the lost and enticing the righteous to sin.
THE NEXT PROPHETIC EVENT
DEMAR: “What’s on the horizon for the individual? With “Odds are, knowing what we know about the span of centuries, the next prophetic event in our life is probably going to be death” (p211).
REPLY: In other words, DeMar does not answer his own question. Hebrews 9:27 is the first part of a two part statement (Greek men..de..; just as … even so…) which ends with Christians (who have already died once in Christ) eagerly looking forward to the literal second coming of Christ. Heb 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” DeMar applies this verse to AD70 and makes it irrelevant today.
DEMAR: “What’s on the Prophetic Horizon for the World? His answer? Matthew 28:19 – discipleship, not prophecy. “Even with the passage of two millennia, evangelism and discipleship efforts have only just begun. … It was this kind of biblical thinking that changed the world throughout the centuries. Until whole nations come under the sway of the gospel and are truly discipled, we should not expect the coming of the Lord” (p211-212).
REPLY: In other words he does not answer his own question about prophecy a second time.
DeMar is living in the same Christian utopian delusion as Christians of the 17th and 18th centuries who thought that the world would by evangelized and keep getting better and better until almost everybody will eventually be saved.
DeMar is living in a fictitious fantasy world of his own! He charges that Dispensationalists have no “super” texts while offering none himself. This kind of optimism was lost in most of Christianity with World War One. The earth is not getting better and better. There is no Utopian removal of sin on earth because of the preaching of the Gospel.
DEMAR: Third try. “What’s on the prophetic horizon for the universe? … The Nicean Creed and 1 Corinthians 15:23-26. “This [Nicean Creed] coming refers to Jesus’ return to judge, not to reign, on earth” (P213).
“Scripture clearly teaches (1) the nearness of the kingdom in Jesus’ day, (2) a definitive or present manifestation of the kingdom through Jesus’ work, (3) the continuing coming of the kingdom, (4) the progressive advance of the kingdom and (5) and the consummation of the kingdom (p213-214).”
“The only signs that are yet to be fulfilled are the discipleship of the nations and Jesus putting all his enemies under his feet” (p214).
REPLY: Nicean Creed? Nice “super text” – and DeMar criticizes LaHaye for no super texts! Then he follows up “not to reign” by quoting in the same paragraph he quotes 1 Cor 15 “For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet.” This cannot refer to heaven because there are no enemies in heaven.
According to DeMar, the only prophetic future depends on churches getting busy evangelizing and thoroughly indoctrinating believers. Only after “whole nations” have become ardent Christians will Christ return.
FOREWORD BY R C SPROUL
SPROUL critiques an unnamed Harry Ironside book which discussed 2nd Thessalonians 2:5-10. He applauds DeMar for pointing out that LaHaye has ignored literal interpretation (vii-ix).
REPLY: Preterists like Sproul and DeMar do not even pretend to literally interpret almost all texts except for their favorites as will be seen in Matthew 24. They attempt to interpret 2nd Thessalonians 2 in the context of the events of AD70 but are forced to interpret the following portions of this chapter spiritually instead of literally. This is poor hermeneutics since there is no indication that Paul meant his words in 2nd Thessalonians to be interpreted any way other than literally.
2 Thess 2:3 … that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
Sproul objects to modern Christians using the word Antichrist but does not comment on the words man of sin or son of perdition. He teaches that all of these terms ended in AD70 with respect to prophecy.
2 Thess 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Sproul vacillates between this referring to Nero or a Jewish Zealot from AD70. Neither explanation fits literally. Nero did not literally sit in the Most Holy Place in the Jerusalem Temple and the Zealot was not worshipped by the masses of Jews in Jerusalem in AD70.
2 Thes 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
Sproul vacillates over who or what this literally refers to. The only thing he knows for sure is that it is NOT the one Dispensationalists suggest.
2 Thess 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The text literally says that the removal of the rstrainer will allow the man of sin to intensify his power. This was not fulfilled in AD70 by Nero or the Zealot.
2 Thess 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
The removal of the restrainer will reveal the true motives of the man of sin and end with the man of sin’s destruction at the coming of Christ. Again, this was not fulfilled in AD70. Nero died before that date and there is not record of a brightness from heaven destroying the wicked in AD70.
2 Thess 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
This was not literally fulfilled in AD70. A “man of sin” did not appear with ALL power and signs and lying wonders. The only way for this to happen is for God to remove the restraining power of the Holy Spirit and allow wrath unmixed with grace to totally control the man of sin. This is the Dispensational interpretation.
2 Thess 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
The Preterists’ favorite, Roman Caesar Nero, died before AD70 and no other historical person fulfilled this literal description.
2 Thess 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
This literally says that those who have previously heard the gospel and rejected it will not be saved after this event. That did not literally occur after AD70.
Sproul and DeMar want to poise themselves as the ones letting the Bible explain itself but fail when they so often replace literal non-apocalyptic texts with a spiritual interpretations.
DEMAR: “When Christians witness to non-Christians they often appeal to fulfilled prophecy as to a way to show the reliability and accuracy of the Bible. For example Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1 … Of course this is just one of many Messianic prophecies that have been fulfilled. Floyd Hamilton estimates that there are ‘in the OT 332 distinct predictions which are literally fulfilled in Christ.’ The fulfillment of prophecy can be ascertained by an appeal to the Bible and history. But this is not the case when it comes to LaHaye’s approach” (page xxiii).
REPLY: And neither is it “the case” when it comes to the Preterists’ approach because they cannot prove that literal prophecies must be fulfilled figuratively or spiritually. If those 332 “distinct predictions which are literally fulfilled in Christ” prove that the Bible is inspired so well, why do not you include scores more of literal unconditional earthly kingdom prophecies made to national Israel? What gives you the authority to interpret the literal prophecies about Christ’s first coming literally and then interpret the ones about his second coming spiritually or figuratively?
It seems to me that, of all denominations, “Calvinist” “Reformed” “Presbyterian” churches should be the foremost teachers of the Dispensational doctrine about national Israel. It is clear that God “pre-ordained” an “elect” “nation” to be blessed above all other nations to reveal His Messiah and His Kingdom to the world. They teach the security of the believer because of election and predestination but they fail to apply that very same logic to the scores of UNCONDITIONAL literal promises made to OT national Israel by almost all of the prophets.
CHAPTER 1: THE RUSSIAN PEARL HARBOR
DEMAR: “Establishing the immediate historical and theological context for Ezekiel is important to make the case that the battle [of Ezekiel 36-37] has already taken place” (12).
REPLY: How can the prophecies of Christ’s first coming be interpreted literally but the prophecies about the last-day events of Israel be interpreted spiritually? No amount of “historical and theological context” and justify this twisting of Scripture.
DEMAR: “In Ezekiel 34 God promises Israel that he will bring them back into their land and make a new covenant with them (Eze 36). In Ezekiel 37 … restoration of God’s people back to their land … people from all over the world attack God’s people who are pictured dwelling at peace in the land. …. God’s people will completely destroy them … the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord from that time onward” (Eze 39:21-23. “Chronologically this all fits very nicely” (12).
“Ezekiel 39:1-6 fits with Esther 9:10-16. … In Esther 9:19 we see that Jews were living peacefully in unwalled villages” (cf Eze 38:11) (p13).
“The above interpretation has two things going for it over the invasion theory of modern-day Russia. First, the narrative can be read whereby every word can be taken ‘at its primary literal meaning’ without resorting to allegorizing. … Second the Bible itself gives the interpretation” (14-15).
REPLY: DeMar mocks LaHaye for violating his own principle of literal interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39. To a great extent, LaHaye is often guilty of gross exaggeration throughout the admittedly fictional Left Behind Series of books. Nevertheless LaHaye’s exaggeration of the Biblical texts does not mean that the basic prophecy behind the texts is wrong.
However DeMar’s so-called primary literal interpretation of Ezekiel’s chapters is infinitely more ridiculous than LaHaye’s.
His attempted fulfillment in Esther leaves any normal reader of the Bible screaming for sanity. Rather than simply assign the final chapters of Ezekiel to conditional prophecy like most of his contemporary Amillennialists do, DeMar makes a buffoon out of himself by teaching them as literally fulfilled during Esther’s time.
The following portions of Ezekiel’s last chapters were NOT fulfilled during Esther’s time and are yet to be fulfilled because these are not worded as conditional prophecies.
- The Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah are to be rejoined as one kingdom (Ezekiel 36 onward).
- The “land” is the “land of Israel” and NOT the land of Persia where the events of Esther’s time occurred (Eze 36 onward).
- David is to be restored as unified Israel’s king (37:24).
- Ezek 37:26 “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”
- Ezekiel’s Temple is very superior to the Temple built under Zerubbabel, Zedekiah and Haggai in 515BC. The elders who had seen the first Temple of Solomon cried in shame at the comparison.
Ezek 36:21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Ezek 36:22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
DeMar’s error concerning Ezekiel 38 and 39 is far greater than LaHaye’s exaggeration. This unconditional prophecy must be fulfilled in the future in order to guarantee the integrity of God’s name per Ezekiel 36:21-22.
CHAPTER 2: THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
DEMAR: “There is no mention of a tribulation period following being caught up [in 1 Thess 4:16-17]. A careful reader will note that there is no mention of the reign of Antichrist, a rebuilt temple, or Armageddon – all the elements that assume a pre-trib Rapture” (p17). …There is no single verse or group of verses that specifically describes any of the Rapture positions” (p18). … All attempts to find a pre-trib Raptrue prior to 1830 do not stand up to historical scrutiny (p19). … The reason for the omission of any pre-trib Rapture texts is clear. There are none” (p21).
REPLY: This is a favorite debate ploy. Repeat something over and over in as many different ways as is imaginable to convince the judges that you are correct. Remarks such as the above abound on almost every page, every chapter and every summary of DeMar’s book. The effect is similar to mesmerism. They want you to hear it so often that you do not question it.
It is true that there is “no single verse” which teaches any doctrine completely. However it is not true that “there is no group of verses that specifically describes any of the Rapture positions.” The Bible student is encouraged to read First and Second Thessalonians in one sitting and in order to see the cohesiveness of the Dispensational argument about the coming of Christ to rapture His church before the emergence of the last-day Antichrist.
1 Thess 3:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
First, the Thessalonian church was suffering persecution (1 Th 3:4).
1 Thess 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Matt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Second, Paul had previously assured the Church that it would not suffer the “wrath” of God which (we believe) includes future “Great Tribulation” unmixed with grace after the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence has been removed. If the Church was intended to go through the Great Tribulation, then why did Paul make these statements of 1:10 and 5:9?
1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
Third, they evidently thought that, if they missed the Second Coming and resurrection from the dead and would not see their loved ones again. Paul assured them not to worry in 4:13.
1 Thess 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Fourth, Paul said that God [Jesus] would bring (the souls) of the sleeping dead back (to earth) with Him when He returns per 4:14.
1 Thess 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.
Fifth, the living will not meet Christ first when He returns per 4:15.
1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Sixth, the dead in Christ will rise to meet Christ before the living per 4:16.
1 Thess 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [Latin: rapturo] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
Seventh, after the dead saints will be resurrected to meet Christ in the air, the living will be raptured to meet them in the air. Notice the “we” of 1 Thess 4:17 and 1 Cor 15:51. Paul expected to be alive when Jesus returned for the Church. Paul believed that Jesus’ return was “imminent” – at any moment –with no preceding events to be fulfilled.
1 Thess 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Eighth, it is significant (to Dispensationalists at least) that Paul said nothing about the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation coming first. If Paul had expected the church to experience the wrath of God BEFORE the catching up of the Church saints, surely he would have included it in the sequence of events.
2 Thess 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand [NKJ: had come; NAS: has come]
Ninth, the first letter did not fully satisfy the Thessalonians. They thought they had somehow missed the Second Coming because they were interpreting their current suffering and tribulation as the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation. Again, I ask, if the Church were destined to go through the Great Tribulation, then why did not Paul say “Your suffering is not that of the Great Tribulation but you should anticipate going through that also”?
2 Thess 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
Tenth, “that day” when the wrath of God arrives, will only come AFTER certain events have already occurred – the events of 2:3-11.
Conclusion: The pre-Great Tribulation rapture of the church is found in these verses in their inclusion of the doctrine of “imminence.” There are absolutely no events which must take place before the rapture of the church; it is an imminent event. On the other hand, there are many events which must first occur before the wrath of the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ in great glory.
FIRST CORINTHIANS 15:51-57
DEMAR: “This passage makes no mention of a secret rapture or Jesus coming for his church before a future Great Tribulation and then later returning with His church after the Great Tribulation” (P27).
REPLY: The passage also makes no mention of any other view of the return of Christ such as Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13 and the fulfillment of all second coming prophecy in AD70 as DeMar teaches throughout his book. Just because a text (in or out of context) does not discuss a series of other doctrines does not make that text true or false concerning those other doctrines.
On one hand, the church in Thessalonica was experiencing severe persecution and the timing of the Great Tribulation was utmost on its mind (2 Thess 2:3). Therefore Paul wrote to them about the differences between the sufferings of the Church and the wrath of God to come.
On the other hand, the church in Corinth was not suffering persecution. It was suffering divisions over leadership and false doctrine. However its false doctrine did not concern the wrath of God and the Great Tribulation.
The church of Corinth required correction concerning the nature of the resurrection itself. Therefore DeMar is correct when he says that Paul did not mention the rapture of the Church while discussing the resurrection; neither did he discuss the Great Tribulation.
The church in Corinth was confused about (1) the reality of Christ’s resurrection from the dead (15:1-8), (2) the literalness of the resurrection (15:12), the vanity of the gospel if Christ had not risen (15:13-16), (3) what happens to the dead in Christ (15:17-20), (4) the order of resurrection and culmination of all things (15:23-28) and (5) the error of being baptized for the dead (15:29).
1 Cor 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
First, the “mystery” was not about the difference between the rapture and the second coming in glory. The “mystery” was that not everybody would die. Those alive when Christ returns will not suffer physical death.
Second, exactly like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, Paul includes himself (“we”) among those alive when Christ returns. He believed that Christ could indeed return at any time without any need for intervening prophetic fulfillment.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
DEMAR: “Where is the Tribulation period that –supposedly- immediately follows the Rapture? (P33). “There is no mention of returning with Jesus to the earth, something that is required of a pre-trib Rapture.” (P34)
REPLY: As DeMar already very well knows how Dave Hunt has replied to these remarks over many debates, he is simply playing games with those who are not familiar with Dispensationalism.
Jesus was not giving a theological discussion of end-time prophecy for national Israel in John 14. He was telling his disciples, the base and core of His Church, that their destiny was NOT the same as the destiny of national Israel.
God told Abram in Genesis 12:2 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” God said “go” in 12:1 “and I will” 3 times in 12:2-3 and “Abram departed” in 12:4. Since the only condition had been fulfilled (“go”), therefore the fulfillment of the promise was now unconditional on God’s part.
Again in Genesis 15 God proved that the promise of the land was unconditional by placing Abram in a sleep and walking through the cut covenant alone. Many point to texts like Joshua 23:14 and say that God once kept his promise of the land and is no longer required to keep that promise forever. They blatantly ignore the fact that every Old Testament prophet to Israel and Judah reminded both the Hebrew people and God Himself that the covenant was unconditional.
Even after severely rebuking the Hebrew people for their sins, these prophets all ended their inspired prophetic utterances with restoration and an unconditional vision of a united Israel ruled by a Messianic figure. The theology which disregards the scores of plain unconditional promises made to national Israel calls God a liar, incompetent and incapable to upholding His own name as He promised in Ezekiel 36:21-22.
What does all this have to do with John 14:2? Everything! While God promised national Israel that He would faithfully establish them ON EARTH, in John 14:2 Jesus promises His mysterious body called the Church that THEY would dwell IN HEAVEN. This is a paradigm or world view change. It is a drastic change. It is an extremely important change from that seen throughout the Old Testament concerning national Israel.
John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeer 31:35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
Jer 31:36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
Jer 31:37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
Those who dare to cast off Israel as God’s elect nation must rip out Jeremiah 31:31-37, its counterpart in Hebrews 8:8-13 and scores of other unconditional texts from God’s Word. While the New Testament does teach that Israel had been temporarily set aside as God’s favored people, such was not permanent and such did not void the scores of Old Covenant unconditional prophecies. Romans 2:28-29 says that true circumcised Israelites WITHIN Israel are those who have been spiritually circumcised. Romans 9:1-8 says that the true Israelites WITIHIN Israel are believers. When Romans 11:25-26 says that “all Israel shall be saved” it is referring to believing Israelites WITHIN Israel. This is true because Romans 11:29 reminds us that “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” – God cannot disannul His unconditional promises made to national Israel.
The fundamental disagreements with Preterists can be found in the following statements.
KEY: Israel ceased to be a nation in AD135 under the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The Zionist Movement of the late 1800s culminated in Palestine being restored from the Ottoman Empire after WWI. Israel literally became a nation again in 1948.
KEY: From AD135 until 1948 every modern Church came into existence with its current characteristic doctrines (including the Roman Catholic Church). Since Israel did not exist as a nation, all commentaries written between AD135 and 1948 were written with the FALSE ASSUMPTION that national Israel would never exist again and that the Church had replaced national Israel and assumed its prophecies in a much spiritualized manner.
DEMAR: “This heavenly army is said to be according to LaHaye, the angelic hosts, the Old Testaments saints, the Church and the Tribulation saints. This is highly unlikely. At this point in Revelation if would have been the perfect place to see the word church appear again if LaHaye is right about his contention that the absence of the word church after chapter 3 means the church has been raptured” (P35).
REPLY: According to the literal sequence of events, chapter 19 follows and is the culmination of the Great Tribulation following 3 and ½ years, 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 plagues. It is immediately followed by chapter 20 in which God will reign for 1000 years on earth.
Matt 19:28 Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Question to Preterists: “When will Jesus’ promise in Matthew 19:28 (Luke 22:30) literally be fulfilled? Was Jesus mistaken? If this not the perfect time for the Church, the OT saints and the Tribulation saints to return to Earth with Jesus? When do you think they should return to fulfill Jesus’ promise? Or was this merely another “conditional” unfulfilled promise? Since you dismiss the 6 repetitions of the 1000 years as wild exaggeration by Jesus when He gave the Revelation to John, is this how we are to understand Matthew 19:28 also?”
The Church is very much present in Revelation 19. Read the cheaper: “much people” 19:1; “24 elders” “4 beasts” 19:3; “all ye servants both small and great” 19:5; “great multitude” 19:6; “the marriage of the Lamb” “his wife” 19:7; “arrayed in fine linen” “the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” 19:8; “blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” 19:8. Whether the “armies” of 19:14 refers only to angels or includes the saints is totally irrelevant because it is absolutely clear that Jesus is also bringing his saints back with him to the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” It is beyond comprehension how DeMar can focus on the word army and completely ignore 19:1-8 which describes the saints of God and not angels.
CHAPTER 3: FINDING SEVEN YEARS OF TRIBULATION
Daniel 9:24-27 Plus
DEMAR: “The seven-years of tribulation period is based is based on a single verse in the book of Daniel – 9:27” “If there is a link with Daniel 9:27 one would expect Revelation to make some reference to seven years as well.” “As was the case with the pretrib Rapture, here is another key doctrine that has no verse supporting it in the most important prophetic book in the Bible” (P39).
REPLY: The seven-year tribulation is based on: (1) its necessity through scores of unfulfilled unconditional prophecies made to Israel, (2) the unfulfilled prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, (3) the unfulfilled 70th week of Daniel 9:27, (4) the 70th week of Daniel 9:27 is divided into 2 periods of 3 ½ years, 42 months or 1260 days, (5) the same time prophecies of the 1260 days, 42 months and 3 ½ times are repeated in Daniel 3 times and Revelation 5 times and (6) the very evident similarities between Daniel’s prophecies and Revelation’s prophecies. Since the Great Tribulation is the last 3 ½ years of Daniel 9:27, it is evident that there is a seven-year period which begins the book of Revelation.
Preterists like DeMar teach that the entire book of Revelation referred to the events preceding and immediately following the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 (P71).
REPLY: If this were true then John would be guilty of extreme exaggeration and would have written Revelation before AD70.
However the events of Revelation hardly fit any historical fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70. The world-wide earthquakes, hail, famine and plague of Revelation that kill over 1/3rd of earth’s population did not occur between AD67-70. The Roman Empire was not destroyed in AD70. Christ did not come literally according to Matthew 24:29-31 in AD70. All unbelievers did not die in AD70 per Matthew 24:37-39. The 1000 years mentioned 6 times in Revelation 20 did not occur in AD70. The final Great White Throne Judgment and Eternity did not occur in AD70.
DANIEL’S SEVENTIETH WEEK
DEMAR: “LaHaye separates the final seven years from the other 483 years of the prophecy and inserts and indeterminate period called the ‘church age’ between the two time periods” (p43). “John Nelson Darby, C. I. Scofield and others changed the very straightforward interpretation by placing an unspecified period of time between the first 69 weeks and the final week of Daniel’s 70 weeks” (P46).
Dan 9:26a [Ends in AD30]
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:
GAP BETWEEN AD30 AND AD70
Dan 9:26b [ENDS IN AD70]
… and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
GAP BETWEEN AD70 AND 70TH WEEK
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [7 years]: and in the midst of the week [after the first 3 ½ years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
REPLY: God, not LaHaye, separates the final week of years from the other 483 years! Anybody who bothers to actually read the texts will see that the 69th week ends in the first part of verse 26 at the death of the Messiah and the 70th week picks up again in verse 27 following the very obvious gap in the last part of verse 26.
DeMar: “In addition to a gap in time, LaHaye finds the Antichrist in these verses which he ties to the Beast of Revelation 13” (P43). “Neither Daniel 9:24-27 nor Revelation uses the word Antichrist” (p44).
REPLY: There is simply too much similarity between Daniel 9:26b-27 and Revelation to ignore. Jesus Himself connected the “abomination of desolation” of Daniel to the events preceding His second coming in Matthew 24:15.
DeMar: “The prince of Daniel 9:26 is not described as evil” (P44).
REPLY: Read the texts again.
Dan 9:26b … and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Not evil? He destroys Jerusalem and the Temple.
DEMAR: “There is no record in Revelation or Daniel 9:27 of the Antichrist making and then breaking a covenant with Israel” (p44). “Where in Scripture does it say that?” (P46-47).
REPLY: Read the text:
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined [NAS; RSV: decreed] upon thy people and upon thy holy city…
The prophecy did not begin with God “renewing” or “confirming” His often-repeated promises to exalt Israel. Rather it began with God telling Daniel in the form of a “decree” WHEN He would fulfill His promises.
The nearest antecedent to the pronoun “he” in 9:27 is “prince” from 9:26b. It is the “prince” which destroys Jerusalem and the Temple who confirms a covenant for seven years – it is not the Messiah from 9:26a. Verses 26b-27 occur after Messiah had been cut off and not before the event.
DEMAR: “There is no mention of a rebuilt Temple anywhere in the New Testament, including Revelation” (P44).
REPLY: Since Jesus applied Daniel’s “abomination of desolation” (Dan 11:31) to the future, all must admit to a two-fold application.
Dispensationalists see a three-fold application of Daniel 9:26b-27: (1) Antiochus IV in 168BC, (2) Rome in AD70 and (3) a future Antichrist. We also believe that Jesus inspired the Revelation over 25 years after the Temple had been destroyed in AD70. Therefore the Temple in Revelation 11:2 must be a rebuilt Temple. There have been many news articles over the years that Jews have already cut the stones for a new Temple.
DEMAR: Quoting J. Barton Payne: “[Jesus] would bring to an end the Old Testament economy by his death. There could hardly be a more accurate prediction than was this! The 490 years then conclude with the 3 ½ years that remained, during which period the testament was to be confirmed to Israel” (P45).
REPLY: There is no record of Jesus making a 7 year covenant with Israel. There was no need for such a new covenant the present one had been confirmed many times. And there is no record of Jesus annulling scores of unconditional literal prophetic promises that God would protect His own name by establishing Israel with a literal reign on earth. According to Hebrews 8:10 even the New Covenant is primarily FOR “the house of Israel.” God’s covenant with Israel is fundamental to the promises given to Abraham and David over and beyond the Old Covenant.
DEMAR: “According to Payne and contrary to LaHaye, the remaining seven years follow immediately after the 483 years and encompass three and one-years of Jesus’ ministry to the Jews and three and one-half years of the early church’s ministry to the Jews (Acts 1-9)” (p45).
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
REPLY: As previously pointed out, according to God’s Word, the remaining seven years (9:27) are in the context of a time-gap because they follow the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 9:26b.
The New Covenant began at Calvary when Jesus shed His blood of the New Covenant. It did not begin 3 1/2 years later when Paul turned to the Gentiles. According to Daniel 9:24 the 490 years would end, not with the desolation of the Temple, but with the “anointing of the Most Holy.”
The Church Age fills the gap between the end of Daniel 9:26 inAD70 and the rise in power of the “prince” in 9:27. However, although the Jewish nation was no longer in God’s attention, the Gospel never ceased going to the Jews first. Paul never stopped going to the Jews first; his priority was always to take the Gospel first to the Jews because they deserved the first opportunity to hear the Gospel. The “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16) are believing Hebrews.
DEMAR: “Those who separate the 70th week from the 69 weeks maintain that sacrifices and grain offerings did not stop when Jesus was crucified as required by the language of Daniel 9:27. From God’s covenantal and judicial perspective they did stop” (P46).
REPLY: We agree that, from God’s covenantal and judicial perspective, they did stop. They even literally stopped in AD70. However, we maintain that, contrary to what many churches teach, God was not through with Israel by any means because of His name’s sake (Eze 36:21-22).
The argument is “Since the Dispensational view of the 70th week has future sacrifices and follows the Church Age, that must mean that Jesus did not abolish animal sacrifices at Calvary.” Yet we agree that, in the mind of God, from God’s covenantal and judicial perspective they did stop.
However, just because the sacrifices stopped in the mind of God does not mean that they literally stopped. As far as God was concerned they stopped at Calvary in AD30 yet they did not literally stop until AD70.
The assumption of non-Dispensationalists is wrong. First, the 69th week did not end with every Jew believing in Christ and ceasing to sacrifice. Second, the 70th week picks up where the 69th week ended with the vast majority of Tribulation Jews in unbelief – yes, in unbelief. It is the unbelieving Tribulation Jews who rebuild the Temple just as modern Jews are already planning such construction.
Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Non-Dispensational theology admits that the 490 year prophecy only concerned the Jews but they err by ending it with God’s abandonment of the Jews. However, the entire 490 year period was to end –not with God forsaking Israel—but with Israel being uplifted and its Messiah being anointed. The 490 years was (1) to finish the transgression, (2) to make an end of sins, (3) to make reconciliation for iniquity, (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness (5) to seal up the vision and prophecy, and (6) to anoint the most Holy. Both the NAS and RSV read “Most Holy Place.” And, since Daniel nowhere speaks of the heavenly sanctuary, this must refer to the sanctuary on earth.
The following is from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary: (edited)
(1) To finish means “to complete,” not “to atone,” as is sometimes asserted. The kind of transgressions Daniel had been confessing for his people were to come to an end. That has not yet, two and a half millenniums later, occurred.
(2) To make an end of sins. Literally, to seal up, to bring under full restraint.
(3) To make reconciliation for iniquity. Calvary’s reconciliation will become effective for Daniel’s people when again, “in that Day” of Messiah’s second advent, they look on Him “whom they have pierced” (Zech 12:10; cf. Rev 1:7) and shall in repentance believe on Him (Jer 50:4-5,17-20).
(4) To bring in everlasting righteousness. This will be effected by inward moral transformation (Jer 31:33-34). (5) To seal up the vision and prophecy.
(6) To anoint the most Holy (most holy place). Most commentators, even many amillennialists (e.g., Keil and Leupold), to whom this passage is somewhat of an embarrassment, feel that this refers to a renewed Temple, anointed like the Tabernacle of old, following the results enumerated in the five promises preceding (see Ezek 40:1-7; Isa 4:2-6). The nature of worship in such a temple is problematical in view of the end of the ritual system. But this problem should not interfere with acceptance of this prediction.
Dan 9:17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.
Dan 9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.”
Daniel’s prayer for the restoration of the sanctuary and Jerusalem in 9:1-23 was not answered by God telling him that they would both would be forever forgotten by Him.
Dan 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Dan 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: [AD30]
GAP: AD30 TO AD70
and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.[AD70]
GAP: AD70 TO REIGN ON EARTH
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
DEMAR: “LaHaye’s argument hinges on the identity of the “prince” in Daniel 9:26 and the “he” in verse 27. LaHaye assumes that the “prince” in 9:26 is the Antichrist. This is impossible. The Messiah is identified as the “Prince” in verse 25” (P47).
REPLY: Again it is important to read the entire text at one time. There is not “a gap” – there are really “two gaps” – one gap between the 69th week and the destruction of Jerusalem (AD30-70) and a second gap between AD70 and the beginning of the 70th week.
When reading verses 25-27 together it is evident that there are two princes –Messiah the Prince from verse 25 and the prince who destroys the city in verse 26b. The argument is over to whom the pronoun “he” in verse 27 refers. Its nearest antecedent is the “prince” who destroys the city from 26b.
DEMAR: “We’ve seen so far that there is no seven-year span of time mentioned in Revelation and no suggestion of an Antichrist in Daniel 9:27. Now we see that there is no gap in time between the first 483 years and the final 7 years of Daniel 9:27“ (P48).
REPLY: Again DeMar uses the tactic “Repeat something often enough and people will automatically believe it.” My quotations of DeMar’s repetitions are a very small sample of how often he repeats his conclusions ad nausea.
Dan 9:27 … even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
DEMAR: “A careful reading of Daniel 9:27 will show that the destruction of Jerusalem does not take place within the 70th week. After 62 weeks … desolations are determined [i.e. 7 + 62 weeks]” (P50). .. Sometime within the 70th week desolations will be determined for the city and the temple” … it did not happen until AD70” (P51).
REPLY: It is determined (by the prince that shall come and destroy the city) that the destruction will not cease until he has completely consumed the city and sanctuary. The text does not say that such does not take place in the 70th week.
CHAPTER 4: TIMING THE TRIBULATION
DEMAR: “A quick reading of the book of Revelation will show that there is no mention of a seven-year Tribulation period, a rebuilt temple or a signed treaty” (P55).
REPLY: A quick reading of Revelation will show that it could not possibly refer to the events of AD70. Judgments of the seals, trumpets and vials destroy over one third (1/3) of all life and vegetation on earth; there are 150 days of demonic persecution; there is Great Tribulation by a Dragon and False Prophet powers for 3 ½ years; Christ returns in chapter 19 and kills all unbelievers; 1000 years of God’s reign on earth follows the Second Coming; this is followed by the Great White Throne Judgment of all mankind which is followed by eternity.
DEMAR: “The most important factor in determining when a prophecy will be fulfilled is the time element.”
KELLY: No. The most important factor is to determine whether such prophecy is conditional or unconditional. While the timing can be delayed by disobedience, all Old Testament prophecies about God’s kingdom on earth for national Israel are unconditional. This fact is totally ignored by all but Dispensational theology today.
DEMAR: Revelation 1:1 says “the things which must shortly come to pass” and 1:3 says “for the time is near” [P55].
REPLY: Revelation 1:1 and 1:3 must be interpreted in the context of 1:19 “Write the things which thou hast seen [chapter 1], and the things which are [chapters 2-3], and the things which shall be hereafter [chapters 4-22].” The time of warning the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3 is that part of the “time” which must be obeyed immediately. “The word soon means that the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately. Once the end-time events begin, they will occur in rapid succession.” Bible Knowledge Commentary.
DEMAR: “There is nothing to indicate a distant future interpretation” (P55).
REPLY: The 1000 years reign in chapter 20, the Great White Throne Judgment in chapter 20 and the eternal state in chapters 21-22 demand that Revelation indicates a distant future fulfillment. None of Revelation literally occurred between AD67-70.
DEMAR: “In the final chapter of the Revelation we read that the events described in the previous chapters are to happen ‘shortly’ (22:6), ‘for the time is near’ for those who first received the prophecy” (P55).
REPLY: Those who are living in the generation which literally experiences the events beginning in Revelation 6 are being forewarned. The events of chapters 20-22 cannot possibly be included in the warning since they are over a thousand years away.
THE TEMPLE AND TIME
DEMAR: “(Rev 11:2) How could John measure what no longer existed if Revelation were written twenty five years after the Temple’s destruction?” (P60) “If John was told to measure the temple and the temple was destroyed in AD70, then John must have been told to measure the temple before it was destroyed. … Second, the late date argument hinges on a single ambiguous sentence written by Irenaeus around AD180” (P62).
REPLY: This is the main argument used to support the pre-AD70 date for Revelation. It is odd that almost everything in Revelation is interpreted spiritually except John’s command to measure the Temple in 11:2 is literal! And, since it was (the only thing from 4:1 onward which is literal, then the literal interpretation of 11:2 proves that Revelation was written before AD70. Ridiculous.
Matt 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:).
Matt 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains …
Rev 11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
Rev 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
This is NOT what literally occurred in AD70! However, this is exactly what occurred in 168BC when Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple (Dan 8:13; 11:31). Therefore, this is evidence that Matthew 24:15 refers to a future desecration of a rebuilt Temple.
You might say “What? That is ridiculous!”
Look at the evidence. In 168BC Ahtiochus already occupied and ruled the city itself. He did not need to besiege the city. When he desecrated the Temple (not surrounded the city) the righteous worshippers fled. Revelation 11:2 reflects the same situation as in 168BC were the Gentiles already controlled the city itself.
That which occurred in AD70 is NOT the same as that seen in 168BC and in Revelation 11:1-2. In AD70 the Gentile armies did NOT have control of the city already; they were not already “treading down” the city. The signal was NOT “when the Temple is desecrated”; rather the signal was given when the Roman army temporarily lifted its siege long before the Temple had been desecrated. Therefore the historical facts of AD70 do not agree with Jesus’ statement of Matthew 24:15. Jesus was speaking of a future desecration of a future Temple.
For the purpose of honesty, these are the statements from the Church Fathers which have no authority for Preterists:
- Irenaeus (150-200): “For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” Against Heresies, 5.30.3 Note: Some think that Irenaeus was quoting Papias around AD130.
- Clement of Alexander:, “For when on the tyrant’s death he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos…” Who was This Rich Man?, XLII
- Victorinas of Pettau (D304): “… in the isle of Patmos condemned by Caesar Domitian.” Commentary on the Apocalypse, 10:11
- Eusebius agreed with Irenaeus: John was imprisoned in the 15th year of Domitian (AD95-96) and returned during the reign of Nerva, Eccleastical History, 3.18 and 3.20
- Jerome (d420): Agreed with the Domitian date, Lives of Illustrious Men (ch 9)
DEMAR: LaHaye’s arguments [for the AD95] date cannot survive serious scrutiny and investigation (P65).
REPLY: LaHaye is not alone with his AD95 date. The great majority of Bible authorities agree with him. The following arguments need to be added from An Introduction to the New Testament, D. Edmond Hiebert, Moody Press, 1977, pages 253-257.
- Making the transliterated name of Nero equal 666 requires misspelling the transliterated name by adding a second letter “n.”
- The Nicolaitan party was not present in Paul’s letters of the AD60s but was very strong in the AD90s (Rev 2:6, 15).
- John seems to have a long intimate knowledge of the churches. This was not possible for the AD60s because he only went to Asia in AD67. The AD96 date best explains this.
- The expression “synagogue of Satan” would have been inappropriate for the AD60s but not for the AD90s.
- The phrase “the Lord’s day” (1:9) as a reference to Sunday had replaced “the first day of the week” in the AD90s but not in the AD60s.
- Live emperor worship to which Preterists portray Revelation and especially in chapter 13 does not fit Nero because Domitian was the first Emperor who demanded worship of a living emperor.
- Polycarp implies that there was no church in Smyrna as of AD63. Therefore AD96 better fits the description.
- If Revelation were written in Nero’s age, why did the early church have such a strong tradition that it had been written under Domitian?
Matt 24:3 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
DEMAR: “If he [LaHaye] admits that the time texts should be interpreted literally, that the Temple in Revelation was still standing and that there is no gap between Revelation 3 and 4, the entire bases for the Left Behind story line ends up being a work of fiction in every sense” (P65).
REPLY: DeMar expects his reader to interpret only the time texts “literally” as he understands them. However, however, however – a great big huge “but, but, but” – BUT almost everything else in the same chapter after verse 13 must be interpreted “spiritually” in order to be squeezed into the context of AD70 as the second coming of Christ in glory!
Dispensationalists say that Jesus was not speaking apocalyptically, that the words “you” and “generation” refer to the generation which will literally see the literal events occur.
DEMAR: “To make the Olivet Discourse match the Revelation, LaHaye inserts a time gap between Matthew 24:3 and the verses that follow” (P65).
REPLY: And what do Preterists do? While trying to explain all of Revelation as being fulfilled in the events of AD70, Preterists radically spiritualize 24:27-41 and even more radically spiritualize all of Revelation. They totally ignore the impossibility of 24:27-41 fitting into the events of AD70.
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
Isa 61:2a To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD …
TIME GAP; COMPARE LUKE 4
Isa 61:2b … and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.
Matt 24:3 Tell us, when shall these things be? ..
TIME GAP POSSIBLE
Matt 24:3b … and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Just as there is an evident time gap between the first and second coming of Christ, so also there is a time gap between the destruction of the temple and the second coming of Christ.
Dispensationalists insert a time gap after the first segment of verse 3 and the next two segments. While the disciples may have thought that all three segments followed upon each other immediately, such is not necessary in Jesus’ answers.
“When shall these things be” (verse 3a) refers to “these” events Jesus had just been discussing from chapter 23 up to the destruction of the Temple by Rome in AD70. “These”
cannot refer to things Jesus has not yet discussed.
“What shall be the sign of thy coming” (verse 3b) does not force the conclusion that Jesus’ coming would coincide with the destruction of the Temple in AD70. Therefore the answer given by Jesus applies to the generation living when He literally does return in glory as described in verses 29-51.
“(And what shall be the sign) of the end of the world (age) (verse 3c)” forces the assumption that the second coming of Christ in glory will also end the age (or generation) of sinful and wicked men just as did Noah’s flood end his age (or generation) (24:37-42).
THE USE OF “YOU” IN MATTHEW 24 AND LITERAL FULFILLMENT
DEMAR: “Matthew 24 doesn’t indicate that ‘you’ refers to anyone else other than the audience to whom Jesus was speaking. If Jesus had a future audience in mind, he could have eliminated all confusion by using ‘them’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘you’ throughout the chapter” (P66). “There is no indication that Jesus switched audiences from his first-century disciples in verse 2 to a distant future ‘Jewish nation’ audience in verses 4 through 34” (P67).
REPLY: From 23:13-36 “you” refers to the scribes and Pharisees in the multitude of 23:1. Jesus called them a ‘generation of vipers’ in 23:34. Upon them will ‘come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias’ in 23:35. ‘Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation’ (24:36).
From 23:37-39 “you” refers to Jerusalem personified –both its leaders and people — Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets.’ ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate’ (23:37). ‘For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (23:38).
Matt 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
Matt 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Matt 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
REPLY: At first glance of the first texts in Matthew 24 it appears that DeMar may be correct in saying that “you” in Matthew 24 always only refers to the private group of disciples from 24:3. Mark 13:3 says this group only consisted of Peter, James, John and Andrew.
However, a closer look compels the reader to conclude that Jesus is referring to Jews in general. For the following reasons Jesus could not possibly be referring to the 4 disciples who heard his speech. In context he must be using “you” to refer to those who would literally see the fulfillment of all the prophecy in the generation living at the time of the second coming.
(1) “You” in 24:4 cannot even refer to all 12 disciples. Peter, James and Judas died before AD70 and were not included among those who literally saw the events. Tradition tells us that all of the disciples except John died as martyrs –many before AD70.
(2) 24:9 did not literally occur in AD70. Peter, James and Judas died before AD70.
(3) 24:14 A literal interpretation of 24:14 makes no sense in the context of AD70 because the greatest evangelism of the world and even the Roman Empire was future.
(5) 24:15 Many of the disciples living in AD30 did not see the fulfillment of 24:15 and Mark 13:14 in AD70 for two reasons: a) they had died before AD70 and b) AD70 did not follow the same sequence of events as seen in 168BC. Antiochus in 168BC and Antichrist in Revelation 11:2 already control the city itself.
DEMAR: “The event was local and visible to those living in Jerusalem in the first century. But how could anyone escape after Jerusalem was surrounded? Cestius Gallus, the Roman general in charge of the siege suddenly retreated. In doing so his actions provided a way of escape for God’s people to flee to the mountains” (P82). Emphasis is DeMar’s.
DeMar knows that difficulty exists in his interpretation. On pages 82-83 he totally ignores Matthew 24:15 and its corresponding text in Mark 13:14 and gives all his attention to Luke 21:20-21. This is somewhat diabolical.
DEMAR: “The Romans did in fact tread under foot the Holy City for three and one half years” (P85).
REPLY: No, they did not! The siege may have lasted for three and one half years but they did not have control of the city as did Antiochus. Luke 21:20 does not obliterate Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. In AD70 the sequence of events was: First, the Romans surround the city. Second, the Romans withdraw. Third, the Christians flee. Fourth, the Romans destroy the city, Temple and everybody inside.
DEMAR: “In these verses Jesus told his disciples that when the temple’s approaching desolation became evident to them, it would be time to head for the hills” (P86).
REPLY: Again DeMar is focusing on what he thinks Luke 21:20-21 is saying and is completely ignoring what Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 literally say. The signal was the actual desolation of the Temple and not the surrounding of the city.
The “surrounding” or “approaching” signal WAS NOT the sequence of events in 168BC and will not be the sequence of
events in the future as described in Matthew and Mark. First, the Antichrist already controls and rules in the city. The surrounding is merely reinforcements. Second, the Antichrist (as did Antiochus) desecrates the Temple. Third, the believers flee the city. Antiochus IV did not massacre everybody inside the city and 168BC and Antichrist will not massacre everybody in the city in the future. Christ Himself will kill all unbelievers at his coming per Matthew 24:27-41; 2 Thess 2:10-12 and Revelation 18-19.
Matt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
(6) 24:21 did not occur literally in AD70 and Jesus disciples did not witness the slaughter of 13 million Jews by Nazi Germany in WWII.
Matt 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
(7) 24:22 did not occur literally in AD70 and Jesus’ disciples did not witness all unbelievers being killed as they will be in Revelation 18 and 19 at Jesus second coming in glory.
Matt 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Acts 1:11 “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
(8) 24:27 did not occur literally in AD70. The most noticeable thing about lightning is its high visibility. There are no reports that any of the Church Fathers saw Jesus visibly return in AD70 as he promised in Acts 1:11.
DEMAR: In 24:34 Jesus told his first-century audience that “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” That is, the generation that was in existence when Jesus addressed his disciples would not pass away until all the events that preceded verse 34 came to pass” (P67-68).
REPLY: To him at least, this is DeMar’s strongest and most emphatic argument in the entire book! Again, it is utter hypocrisy to insist that Jesus’ promise of “this generation” in 24:34 be literally interpreted while NOT literally interpreting the fulfillment of that same verse.
While in 23:36 Jesus clearly meant the generation of vipers which would literally see the destruction of the Temple in AD70, 24:34 must refer to the generation which will literally see the events of Christ’s second coming in great glory as is paralleled in Revelation 19. Since the first event literally occurred and was literally seen, then the second event should also literally occur and also be literally seen.
Mt 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Mt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
(9) 24:29-30 certainly did not occur literally in AD70. Preterists can only justify verses like this by extremely spiritualizing them or watering them down to the point that are not recognizable from a plain reading of the non-apocalyptic context. There is absolutely no historical record of anybody in AD70 literally SEEING Jesus Christ literally return to Earth in AD70 in great glory. Yet Preterists say this is the same event described in Revelation 19! Note: the pronoun does change to “they” in this text.
“To ‘see with there eyes’ refers to spiritual understanding that takes place with the heart” (P107).
Mt 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“Jesus was telling his disciples that after the judgment of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple his messengers [not angels] would preach the gospel of the New Covenant and that gospel would go forth in great power ‘from one end of the sky to the other.’ This verse is telling us that the gospel would have a worldwide impact far beyond the confines of the land of Israel and that it would include all the elect” (P108).
(10) 24:31 certainly did not occur in AD70. Preterists do not pretend to interpret any texts other than their favorites literally. They twist this text completely out of context and link it to the gospel commission of Matthew 28:19-20. Yet no plain ordinary reading of the text would yield such interpretation. The text clearly says that, at Jesus’ second coming in glory (previous verse) all of the righteous living will be gathered into safety.
Mt 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
(11) 24:31 Again, while “this generation” in 23:36 referred to the generation which would literally see Jesus’ curse on Jerusalem fulfilled in AD70, “this generation” in 24:34 refers to the generation which would literally see “these things” discussed in (at least) 24:14-31. Nothing else makes sense in the context of a plain reading of the chapter.
Mt 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mt 24:38 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.
(12) 24:37-38 did not literally occur in AD70. When Jesus returns to earth in great glory with all his holy ones, all the righteous will be gathered in safety and all the wicked will be killed. That is exactly what happened in Noah’s flood and that did not happen at all in AD70.
This is an extremely weak point in the Preterist argument. All the wicked will die when Jesus returns per Revelation 18-19. yet all the wicked did not die in AD70.
24:28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
(12) 24:40-42 did not literally occur in AD70 because all of the unbelievers were not killed as they were in the days of Noah.
The Dispensational argument in Matthew 24 is strongest in verses 14-42 and the Preterist argument is weakest in those texts.
This rebuttal of DeMar’s book has only covered the first half of the book. It has inspired me to start all over and write an complete book on Dispensational Prophecy beginning at Abraham.
Suffice it to say, DeMar believes that Jesus was speaking with apocalyptic exaggeration in Matthew 24 and did not intend for his remarks to be understood literally. This is a travesty and abuse of Jesus literal words. With his spiritualizing abandon DeMar does away with any future appearance of Satan, Antichrist, a future Great Tribulation, a literal Second Coming of Christ, a literal Millennial kingdom on Earth and every thing else in the book of Revelation (except the literal Temple of 11:2). When one takes the clear literal meaning out of God’s Word, the interpretation can become anything one desires. May God help us.