In the present endtime controversy, there are a large number of views regarding the “Great Tribulation.” Daniel 12 seems to be a key pivot on which much of the debate (at least insofar as the Old Testament ties in with Matthew 24) seems to turn. In Daniel 12: 7, Daniel heard the man clothed in linen say to one of the men by the bank of the river Hiddekel, that “when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” OK. The first question is, who is “he?” Then we ask, who are the “holy people?”
Unless we answer these two questions properly, we’ll be far at sea when it comes to getting at the timing of the Great Tribulation. I think it’s safe to say that the “he” is Antichrist, for the context involves the 1,290 days — or last half of Daniel’s 70th week, during which the beast (i.e., Antichrist) shall have power (see Rev. 13: 5). If this position is correct, then the “holy people” can be none other than the saints which are persecuted by Antichrist during the tribulation.
Now, Preterists would tell us that the Great Tribulation happened in A.D. 67-70, and that the “holy people” were the Jews, which were “scattered” when the temple was destroyed. But there are several difficulties in this view. First, everyone knows that the Jews retained their national existence long after A.D. 70. They even had enough “power” to foment another major rebellion under Bar-Cochebas in A.D. 135. So I cannot see in what sense their power was scattered in A.D. 70.
It also occurs to me that whatever power the Jews possessed had long been forfeited to Rome. Israel was subject to Roman rule when the temple was destroyed; and so in order to give Daniel 12 an A.D. 70 application, qualifications must be placed on the meaning of the word “power;” and this is unfeasible.
However, there is a graver concern. It is blatantly unscriptural to call the apostate and rebellious Jews of the first century the “holy people.” This, I think, is the crux of the whole issue. Preterists fail to see the Dispensational change which occurred on the Day of Pentecost.
When the church was conceived on Pentecost, the earthly Israel was made of none effect, and the heavenly came into play. No longer would circumcision according to the flesh, or the keeping of the letter of the law, avail. As Jesus Christ told the Jews: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6: 63). This looked forward to the coming Dispensational change, which took place in A.D. 30.
To say that the natural Jews who remained uncircumcised in heart and unrenewed by the power of the Holy Spirit were the “holy people” is to adopt a curious twist of reasoning which contradicts the very words of our Savior. If the Preterist thesis is correct, then Christ’s words are not true, and “the flesh profiteth something.”
Far from being the case, though, we mustn’t forget that after A.D. 30 it could be truly said that: “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2: 22-23).
Now, mark well that I am not endorsing any kind of “Replacement Theology.” What I am saying is that Israel has two aspects. There is the natural, which is as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13: 16); and the spiritual, which is as the stars of heaven (Genesis 15: 5). During the Mosaic economy the natural had predominance — but not to the exclusion of the spiritual. So in this present Dispensation, the spiritual has predominance — but not to the exclusion of the natural (see Romans 11: 1-12).
The promises of future blessing were made to Abraham, who (loosely speaking) was a “spiritual Jew,” but also a “natural Jew.” He was not only circumcised in the flesh, but also in the inward man. Now, to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. Christ is the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3: 16), Who unifies the two aspects of Israel.
Therefore, the promises will be fulfilled when the Heir returns, and the two seedlines of Israel — both natural and spiritual — converge once more. This is not Replacement Theology, but an affirmation that all of God’s promises will be fulfilled to the letter. What we have, then, in this Dispensation is a converse of what took place during the Mosaic Dispensation. We have an enforcement of spiritual principles and regulations, which correspond to the natural things of the Mosaic economy.
The Dispensational change that took place on the Day of Pentecost mustn’t be overlooked. Prior to the resurrection and ascension of Christ it could truly be said that the natural Jews were the “holy people.” However, when the promise of the Holy Spirit was given from above, and the apostles sent forth to preach the glad tidings of God’s grace, God’s principles of administration changed. No longer were the natural Jews reckoned as “holy people.” The only “holy people” that God recognizes during this Dispensation are those who have been sanctified by the blood of Christ, and washed in the spiritual waters of regeneration (Titus 3: 5).
This was the very principle that obtained during the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; and so it is incorrect to say that the rebellious (and in many cases apostate) Jews were the “holy people” whose power was scattered. I believe that the “holy people” will constitute Israel — but Israel during the last 7 years of the age, after the 144,000 saved Israelites are presented to God as a first-fruits offering of national repentance. Then will the signs and miracles re-commence, and the purging (i.e., refinement) of the nation be effected during that period of Great Tribulation.
Antichrist will scatter the power of the holy people when he slays the two witnesses in the middle of the Daniel’s 70th week (Rev. 11: 7), and then wars against the saints during the remaining 3 1/2 years of the age. This will be the true fulfillment of Daniel 12: 7. And in connection with this “time of trouble,” there will be a resurrection of many from the dust of the ground (Dan. 12: 1-2).
Now, it is clear that none of these things happened in A.D. 67-70. There is no evidence that 144,000 Israelites were saved and sealed before the investment of Jerusalem. Nor did the Emperor Nero (whom Preterists label the Antichrist) function until the temple was destroyed [Note: he actually committed suicide in A.D. 68]. Neither was there a resurrection; and to say that there was is to tamper with the Sacred text.
No, friends. The Preterist interpretation of Daniel 12 certainly doesn’t fit the bill. But only recognize the “he” of Dan. 12: 7 as Antichrist, and the scattering of the holy people as the persecution of the saints during the last half of Daniel’s 70th week, and all the facts will harmonize.