[Note: The following article was published a few months ago at Larry Siegle’s blog, “Kingdom Victory.” Since it correctly expresses my position on the futuricity of Daniel’s 70th week, and has never been refuted by Preterists, I am here re-publishing it, with some minor revisions. Essentially, my position is the same as when I wrote this article. Until I see something from The Bible proving that the events of Daniel’s 70th week happened in the first century, I will continue to hold to a Dispensational scheme of eschatology. The real issue, I think, involves who we believe more: Christ or Josephus.]
As a former Hyper-preterist, I can certainly appreciate the arguments put forth by members of the movement, as to the second coming being a past event. After all, if “all these things” mentioned in Matthew 24: 1-34 really took place in A.D. 70 (which would include the one parousia mentioned in v. 3), then one must accept the logical consequences of his/her view and afirm that the Hyper-Preterist view is correct.
Nevertheless, despite the evidence that I always see put forward by Preterists, there is no way I would ever return to preterism. And the reason is based on solid exegetical evidence. The evidence may not be apparent at first sight. But when one really gets down to studying the Old Testament prophets, a great number of truths crop up that make any kind of preterism an impossibility. Of course there is the claim made by Dispensationalists (to which I agree) that prophecies relating to the restoration of Israel remain, for the most part, unfulfilled. But these prophecies and predictions are too many to get into. To discuss them all would require the length, not of an article, but of a book. Therefore, in giving my reasons why I am a pre-millennialist, I will only focus on a few texts which tend to support the Pre-Millennial system of eschatology.
As this article is mainly addressed to Preterists, I’ll start with a text on which we share some common ground. That text is Daniel 12: 1-2: “And at that time shall Michael the stand up, the great prince whih standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
This obviously describes the Great Tribulation predicted by Christ Himself. Moreover, the passage unmistakably places resurrection in connection with this tribulation. Now Christ said that the tribulation would be set off by the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24: 14). What is meant by the term “abomination of desolation?” A comparison of Scripture with Scripture would inform us that it is none other than the image of the beast which will be erected in the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem. Its placement will take occur in the midst of Daniel’s 70th week, triggering that time of “Jacob’s Trouble” (Great Tribulation) out of which Israel will be saved (see Jeremiah 30: 6-7).
Notice that when Christ referenced the abomination of desolation, He said that it was the same one mentioned by Daniel the prophet. Appended to His words is the solemn injunction: “whoso readeth, let Him understand.” Whether Christ Himself said this, or it is an interpolation of Matthew, is not very important. However, I incline to the first view. Christ wanted us to understand that the Abomination of Desolation which He foresaw was the very subject of Daniel’s inspired predictions. This is the key element to understanding what the “abomination of desolation” really is. Keep it steadily in mind as we continue.
Going back to the book of Daniel, we find this “abomination of desolation” mentioned four times. As we’ll see, these passages are all intimately related, and point to the times of which Christ spoke in His Olivet Discourse . Therefore, any alleged “past fulfillment” must be viewed as anticipatory, and not final.
(Daniel 8: 11-14) “Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground, and it practiced and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saints which spake, How long shall the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
(Daniel 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.”
(Daniel 11: 31) “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”
(Daniel 12: 11) “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”
To understand these passages better, it is suggested that the reader study E.W. Bullinger’s two papers, “The Times and Numbered Days of Daniel” and “The Visions of Daniel Synchronous.” There is no doubt but that the four passages cited above speak of the same period of intense tribulation of which Christ prophesied. Therefore, when the Lord said that the tribulation would be set off by the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel; and when going back to Daniel we find that this would take place in the “midst of the week,” leaving a remaining period of three-and-a-half years, or a half-week, until the “time of the end,” we conclude that the preterist view of Daniel’s 70 weeks is mistaken, and that the Dispensational/Pre-Millennial view is correct.
We should keep in mind, of course, that the “2,300 days” of Daniel 8: 14 begin 220 days into the beginning of the 70th week; whereas the extra 75 days alluded to in Daniel 12: 11-12 extend beyond the close of the 70th week (see Bullinger’s papers). This leaves us a time-period of 42 months, or three-and-a-half years during which Antichrist (the little horn) will persecute the saints. This same period comes into play in John’s Apocalypse. In Revelation 11: 3, we read of the “two witnesses” bearing testimony during the 42 months. When their testimony is finished, “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome and kill them.” Then after three-and-a-half days, they are resurrected (as per Daniel 12: 2) and ascend to heaven in a cloud (Rev. 11: 11-12). It is at this point that the seventh angel (last trump) sounds and the “kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ.” Compare with Daniel 7: 25-27, which refers to the same “42 months” as a “time and times and the dividing of time.”
The inter-relation of these several texts is further confirmed when we see that the beast from the bottomless pit is described as functioning for exactly “42 months.” Nobody who compares Revelation 13 with the above Scriptures in Daniel will doubt that it is the same events of which both prophets are writing. “And there was given unto Him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue for forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13: 5-7).
When, we ask, does this persecution commence? It begins in the “midst of the week” when the daily sacrifice is taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate is erected in the holy place of the temple. Christ Himself said that this would mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24: 14-21). And Daniel, in ch. 12, references the same exact period of time. This period, moreover, ends in a resurrection of many from the dust of the earth. Let us not wrest words, but believe what the Holy Spirit has recorded for our edification. Did any such events as mentioned in the inspired prophecies of Daniel occur during the Jewish war?
The answer is a firm no. Although it is sometimes alleged that the “abomination of desolation” was fulfilled during the Roman campaign against Judea, a closer comparison of Scripture with Scripture makes such a scenario impossible. For we look in vain for any “prince” who made the daily sacrifice cease in A.D. 67, or for any persecution of the saints by this aforesaid “prince” (identified with the “beast” and “little horn“) which began at that time and ended in A.D. 70. These main ingredients are needed, however, to support a Preterist view.
But matters become more complicated. For Preterists believe that Christ was the “he” of Daniel 9: 27, and that after “confirming a covenant with many” for “one week,” He was “cut off” in the midst of the week, thus causing the temple sacrifices to cease as a divine appointment. This view, while cleverly framed, breaks apart under closer examination. For, in the first place, it is expressly declared that Messiah would be cut off “after the threescore and two weeks“–that is, upon the termination of 69 weeks–and not in the middle of the 70th.
Secondly, if Christ made a covenant with many for “one week,” the Scripture gives us no clue of what this covenant consisted or when it was made. Such an important fact would not have been left out of the record of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Christ came to confirm the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15: 8), and to offer Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world–not to make a one-week covenant.
On the other hand, Antichrist is described in Daniel as entering into a league with the Jewish people. “And after the league made with him, he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people” (Dan. 11: 22). This same “vile person” is depicted as having his heart set against the “holy covenant.” After a flurry of indignation, “arms will stand on his part,” and “they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength,” and “take away the daily sacrifice,” placing the “abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 11: 28-31). It is this very breaking of the covenant by Antichrist which Gabriel describes in Daniel 9: 27–and not the crucifixion of Christ.
Thirdly, as the taking away of the daily sacrifice is accompanied by the placement of the abomination of desolation, the Preterist view forces the student to do two things:– 1): argue for a fulfillment of the abomination of desolation in A.D. 30, when Christ was crucifed. And– 2): place a 36-year gap between the first and last halves of the week. But Christ declares the abomination as the event which begins the tribulation. Hence, His own interpretation links the first and last halves of the week together. Lest we be lost in confusion, we have only two choices. The first is to argue for a fulfillment of the 70th week in A.D. 33, which theory the Olivet Discourse, the prophecies of Daniel, and the Book of Revelation all make impossible. The second is to see the 70th week as still future. I’ll leave the reader to judge which view is in better alignment with common-sense, logical consistency, and the Word of God.
All Christians have for determining whether or not the 70th week was fulfilled in the first century is the inspired New Testament record. But where the Bible is silent, secular history affords no help. The main problem with the Preterist view is that it ignores the fact that the return of Christ was conditional on Jewish national repentance (Hosea 5: 15; Matthew 23: 39; Acts 3: 19-21). Since the nation rejected the kingdom in A.D. 63 (see Acts 28: 25-26), they rejected the coming of the King, and therefore all has been postponed. Incidentally, this is the only view which honors a consistent literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and one that relies on direct Scriptural support, and not clever theorizing. Therefore, it is to be accepted by all reverent students of God’s Word.
Before I close this article, allow me to say that it was Philip Mauro’s book on the Seventy Weeks that led me into Preterism. At that time I knew very little of prophecy, and was impressionable to his arguments. Now, however, I see that book as a very poor and disjointed study. Ironically, it was Dispensationalists like E.W. Bullinger and Clarence Larkin, as well as early church fathers like Irenaeus and Hippolytus, that led me ultimately away from the Preterist view, and toward a futuristic interpretation of the 70 weeks of Daniel. Because of the inconsistencies of the Preterist view, which cannot be reconciled except by ignoring the clear testimony of sacred Scripture and enforcing hypothetical views of fulfillment, I remain, and shall always remain, a died-in-the-wool Pre-Millennialist.