A dramatic upheaval is beginning to boil in the church about ESCHATOLOGY, that is, the study of the “last things” or “end times.”
After years of skeptical study, I became persuaded that Jesus was telling the truth when He said that ALL prophesied “last-things” events would be fulfilled in his generation (Luke 21:22, 32; etc.). This is the preterist view of eschatology. Preterism teaches that most, if not all prophetic events happened with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Indeed, there are 19 mentions of the LAST DAYS or END TIMES and the writers of the New Testament spoke with one voice that they were living the last days! Thus, the “last days” are not about the end of the world, but rather, about the end of the Old Covenant Age. It appears to be the fastest growing view of eschatology as other systems are being discredited.
If you are willing to consider a different viewpoint from the one you may now hold, below are some of the questions I could not honestly answer as a futurist, but make perfect sense from the preterist perspective. You are welcome to respond:
1. Why have Christians made failed predictions about the end of the world for 2000 years?
2. If time means nothing to God, why does God constantly use time-restricted statements about the fulfillment of prophecy—such as: must shortly take place, at hand, near, quickly, soon, last times, last hour, last days, this generation, etc.?
3. If “no one knows the day or the hour,” why did Jesus frequently insist that his PAROUSIA (Second Coming)—and indeed the fulfillment of all prophecy—would be fulfilled while those living in the first century were still alive (Matthew 10:23; Matthew 16:27-28; Mathew 26:64; Luke 21:22, 28, 32; Hebrews 10:37; Revelation 1:1-3; Revelation 22:6, 12, 20)? Was Jesus simply wrong? If so, can we trust Him on other things He said?
4. If “soon” (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-2-) means thousands of years later, does that mean it was going to take Timothy thousands of years to be sent to the Philippians by Paul (Philippians 2:19)? If “soon” means thousands of years later, why do we see it qualified with “must shortly take place” in the same passages?
5. If the teaching that one day is a 1000 years, and a 1000 years is as a day to the Lord, DOES THAT MEAN?—1000 years in Revelation are a single 24 hour day (2 Peter 3; Revelation 20)?
6. If any of the New Testament was written after AD 70, why is there no mention anywhere in the New Testament IN THE PAST TENSE about the incredible events surrounding the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in that year? If Revelation was written after AD 70, why is the temple mentioned in Revelation 11:1 as still standing? If Revelation was written after AD 70, why does Revelation 17:10 say it was being written during the reign of the sixth king, who was Nero (who reigned from AD 54 to 68)?
7. If the Great Tribulation is still future to us, why did Jesus tell the first century Christians that they could avoid it by fleeing to the mountains (Matthew 24:16; 21)? And why did the Apostle John tell his readers a few years later that THEY were in the tribulation (Revelation 1:9)?
8. If the book of Revelation is for us today, why would John write to the seven churches if it had nothing to do with them? Why would John torture these first-century Christians with impossible and intricate symbolic labyrinths that applied only to people 2,000 years later? Why does Revelation say some 30 times that the events MUST be fulfilled SOON or “about to happen” or “shortly take place?” (Examples: Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6, 12, 20)
9. Why does Hebrews 10:37 say that in a VERY VERY (“very” is there twice in the Greek) LITTLE WHILE Jesus would return and not delay? Were the writer of Hebrews and the other biblical writers that expressed the same thing FALSE PROPHETS?
10. If the biblical “last days” are in the 21st century, why does Peter and the writer of Hebrews both say the last days were in their time (Acts 2:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:20)?
11. If the biblical “last days” started in the first century, but continue to this day, why did Peter say the end of all things was at hand, and the judgment was about to begin when he was writing (1 Peter 4:7, 17)? Given Jesus’ condemnation of the Jews of his day, which He said would be in their generation (Matthew 23:29-24:2), isn’t it logical that this is the Great Judgment of which the New Testament speaks?
12. John said it was the “last hour” (1 John 2:18) when he was writing. Does that mean that its fulfillment is now 17 million hours late?
13. If the GREAT COMMISSION is not yet fulfilled, why did Paul say it had been fulfilled when he was writing (Roman 1:8; 10:18; Colossians 1:5-6, 23)?
14. If “heaven and earth” have not yet passed away, does that mean that every jot and tittle of the law is still in effect (Matthew 5:17-18)?
15. If the NEW JERUSALEM is a future physical location, how is it possible that the Hebrews in the first century were already there (Hebrews 12:22)?
16. If Jesus was going to return literally and physically (Acts 1:11), why do we read that his ascension was hidden from view by a cloud? If Jesus is going to return LITERALLY “in like manner” (Acts 1:11), does that also mean that He will return riding a white horse (Revelation 19:11)?
17. If Jesus was to return in a physical, visible appearance to the whole world, why did He tell his first-century disciples (John 14:19) that the world would never see him again?
18. If the King James Version of the Bible really speaks of an end to the physical universe, why is “end of the world” found in the King James Version consistently translated as “end of the AGE” in modern translations and literal translations (like Young’s Literal Translation)?
19. If the last-days events are still future to us, why does every writer of the 19 mentions of the last days/end times declare that THEY were living in the last days/end times?
20. If the prophetic passages were fulfilled once in the first century, and then again thousands of years later, why is there no hint of this by Jesus and the biblical writers?
(Mr. Meek is the author of the book Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy.)