Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
In any current discussion about the Lords Day or the “day of the Lord” the inevitability of Old Testament passages arises as an objection to preterist eschatology. In Don Preston’s series on Zechariah he begins his discussion with parallels to Mathew 24 and the Olivet discourse and the Book of Revelations. Frankly this is a no brainer as we know scriptures do not contradict and are harmoniously linked together about the “last days”.
It is understood the differences of “dispensational” eschatology from preterism but from this “voice” dispensationalism fails in many ways. The least of which is their view on the raptures and the temple. While Don has not finished his series the goal here was not to give critic to his work but to establish beforehand so that the mistakes he makes will be glaring.
By way of introduction Don asks the question, “If the Old Testament was apocalyptic/spiritual in its predictions of eschatology then upon what principle does one “literalize” that language when it is quoted in the New Testament?
The destruction of Jerusalem was spoken of in figurative language in the Old Testament and very real literal language by Christ “not one stone will left upon another” as these words never appears in the Old Testament and was physically fulfilled. The destruction of Jerusalem was not “spiritual” but a “spiritual” element as it ended the Jewish system of worship with the literal destruction of the temple by which the means of its spiritual purposes were attained. This same principle is understood in the flood. The world of the ungodly were spiritual dead to God, the judgment against the “apostasy” was enacted by a flood that killed the world of the ungodly.
To circle the wagons sort of to speak, and head him off at the pass Old Testament prophecy is all concerning real events as real things that happen. The description then of these events is where figurative language is used. To say Prophecy is all spiritual and does not speak to literal things and of literal events becomes the “sham”.
In the example of Zechariah 14 the argument will come that the “prophecy of 70 AD is real in verses 2-3 but what follows is “just a story” like a parable to convey a truth but what is describe in real words is just “metaphor” as “Jerusalem” is replaced with meaning the church and not the literal city.. Then the glazing over the specifics begins, “on that day the inhabitants will be protected”. If the events described in detail do not happen in 70 AD then fulfillment has not come no matter what claims are made.
“One of the most interesting and significant studies within Zechariah is the term “in that day.” Appearing some seventeen times, this term almost invariably refers to Jesus’ work and his generation. To this writer’s knowledge not one reference to “in that day” extends beyond Jesus’ generation. I encourage the reader to investigate this fascinating study.”
In the way Zechariah describes “that day” in no way can we find fulfillment of “that day” in 70 AD.
Further we stick to the principle of determining what is metaphorical language and what is literal.
“A metaphor is figure of speech in which two "essentially unlike things" are shown to have a type of resemblance or create a new image the similarities between the objects being compared may be implied rather than directly stated. Example: “being born again” is the experience of receiving salvation.” Within scriptures the subject and context must remain consistent for the metaphor to be applied, meaning the metaphor can not violate the intending meaning of the word used.
1The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus declares the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: -The Lord who created the heaven and the earth as they were “founded” from nothing, (ex-nihlo) while the spirit of man was “fashioned” from the breath of God.
2“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. Or “I will make” as this was not accomplished “soon” yet the (English) language implies “imminence” as suggested by the translators. Then literally the people of Jerusalem or of Israel proper will become a “cup of staggering” (reeling) a metaphor for a “confusion” that will affect the nations of people around her. (70 AD did not happen for another 600 years or so)
So the context is established; God is talking about Israel and more specifically the people of Jerusalem. It is NOT the New Testament church, meaning “Jerusalem” is not a metaphor for the New Testament church, as “the body of Christ” does not replace Jews who are being spoken of in context. The application of a metaphor or even the claim “Jerusalem” is now a metaphor, changes the people from Jew to Christian, who are not the same people, the subject of the verse. Jerusalem has to remain Jerusalem throughout the entire word of prophecy as no Old Testament prophet would have understood the New Testament concept of the body of Christ, which is to say they DID understand the heart of what they spoke was to be applied to the real people of Israel.
The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. Real armies will lay siege to Jerusalem and will affect the people and lands of Israel that surround Jerusalem. (as the church was never surrounded by armies)
3On that day... can refer to one specific day or a specific time when an event takes place over many days.
I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves An image is created here of a man who finds a heavy stone in his field and needs to remove it yet everyone who tries to move the stone end up only hurting themselves and are unable to remove the rock. The rock remains as it is, unmovable. (we can apply a second spiritual application that Christ is the rock, which would not detract from the intended meaning)
And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. – This identifies the people who are trying to remove the rock that is Jerusalem, but in effect hurt themselves in the process. This is real armies that gather. (In Hebrew sentence structures the “cause and effect” are usually in reverse order, this will happen because of this” –Because the nations of the earth gather against her I will make Jerusalem to be a heavy stone that they will hurt themselves with.)
4On that day, (the same time frame) declares the LORD, I will strike every horse with panic, -bewilderment, fear and confusion and its rider with madness. Literal of wild and helpless panic a complete sense of loss of focus and understanding of what is happening.
But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness… The horses are blinded, unable to see and they run in panic yet God will defend the people of Judah. This is an image of Gideon army that attacked the Midian army at night with trumpets and lights (Judges 7.22Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) God protects the people who are outside of Jerusalem, the people of Judah.
5Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God… those Israelites outside of Jerusalem recognizes the hand of God at work - The hand, strength of God is working in favor of Jerusalem.
6“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves… These people then become courageous emboldened when they discover “God is on their side”, as days of Old when they knew God was on their side they could not lose.
And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples… these panic riders and people then are slaughtered by “Judah”. (Judah becomes significant in that the house of David was of the tribe of Judah; Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah”
While Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem… the double us of the word Jerusalem goes back to the imagery of the rock that can’t be moved. Jerusalem remains as she is inhabited by its people.
7“And the LORD will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah. … It is the people outside of Jerusalem who win the day, first Judah that wins the glory as the King of Glory, Christ is the defender and leader.
the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem… speaks to their triumph over their enemies, the pride in defeating the enemy. And more importantly the glory of the “messiah” who has come.
8On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem... that glory comes from knowing the Lord protected the people of Jerusalem on that day. (of His return)
So that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, The image painted here is of the day David brought back the ark of the covenant with dancing and song. The Lord was back among his people.
and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, going before them… it is Christ the returning King of the house of David who rejoices in the glory and splendor as David danced before the Lord as his presence through the Ark returned to Jerusalem.
9And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem... God defends Jerusalem and the people of Israel on “That Day”, and actively pursues their enemies for justice.
10“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, The spirit of Grace is not sending or giving them what they deserve but instead giving them mercy…
So that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, the only begotten son of God and weep bitterly over him,… the weeping becomes one of repentance, In this way all of Israel will be saved. The awareness that “every tribe” will now be faced with the truth the messiah has come but it is the same Jesus they rejected.
as one weeps over a firstborn… Up until now, two times in history were the “firstborn” killed When Mosses was born, and when the angel of death passed over Egypt. The Third was when Herod sought to end the life of Jesus in Bethlehem. Also the image of a mother who look on her first born as he died on a cross.
Rev 1.7Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen… Identifies what day this is- The day of his second coming.
On That day God will defend the inhabitant of Jerusalem and protect them as Revelation 19 tells us the nations gather and fight against the rider on the white horse. Jerusalem is not destroyed on that day but protected.
11On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon (two gods of Egypt) in the plain of Megiddo. 12The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves. A universal and an individual mourning at once.
This whole passage is speaking of a day, the day Christ returns when the nations gather against Israel and Jerusalem specifically God will defend her against the nations who seek to destroy her again and they will recognize the hand of God is upon Israel once more. (Rev 19 confirms there is no destruction of Jerusalem.) The contrast is being presented of once she was judged and condemned but not forever.
IN 70 AD there was no defending of the inhabitants of Jerusalem as the army was sent by God to destroy, yet we see Christ returns in defense of Jerusalem.
The preterist counter will be simple; the whole story is a metaphor for God sparing the Christians of Jerusalem in their warning to flee before the destruction. “as Israel and Judah” are metaphors for “the church” who replaces Israel. There is no justification of replacing Israel with Christians in any Old Testament passage or prophecy. The small details are ignored as if its “just a parable” yet we know the nations gathered for real against Jerusalem in 70 AD, so this must speaking of the real event. The dishonesty then is about the inhabitant as all
Preterist agree the Christian fled to Pella long before the siege was in full bloom. The downfall of their argument will be but one simple note of understanding; when all the nations gathered against it – Jerusalem- the real city there are no Christians there; Jerusalem cannot be a metaphor for the “church” Because the nations did not gather against “the Church” in 70 AD. “on that day God will protect the inhabitant and fights for them” – If the Roman army is sent by God to judge Israel why is God now saying he is defending Jerusalem? As it was, the armies that gathered were against the city and not the church. The destruction of 70 AD was against the Jewish system that rejected Christ.
“ 19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet…. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
And so we demonstrate the largest fabrication of truth by preterists.
We know from past history when Babylon was used to destroy Israel God later destroyed Babylon also for her sin.
“the army was not literally defeated but spiritual defeated” – Why would God ‘spiritual defeat” and army that in reality was sent by him to destroy Jerusalem and not be defeated by Christ, literally when Rev 19 tell us the birds gorge on the flesh of men and horses, of the Roman army but 70 AD was of the inhabitant of Jerusalem literally who were gorged on as Josephus confirms. This contradiction cannot be overlooked and swept under the rug. The answer from Preterist is “you cannot understand the truth because the truth is spiritual discerned, you don’t have the spirit so you cannot understand. As if this explains adequately the contradictions.
We know the inhabitant of Jerusalem and the people around the city were not protected. They did not weep and mourn in repentance in 70 AD. Knowing this was not fulfilled in 70 AD places the events yet for our future.