Dave Hunt continues to ask questions about a preterist interpretation of Scripture. They’re true by definition because they support dispensationalism. Mr. Hunt knows that he no longer has to defend his position because there is a willing audience that will believe any listing of them because they are dispensationalists and their belief system is dependent on the system. To breech any part of it means a collapse of their worldview. The position must be defended at all costs. Here are the questions. Notice that they presuppose dispensationalism with no sustained argument to back them up.
Was Israel established in AD 70 in her land, never to be removed again? Can we seriously believe that Zechariah 12, 13, 14; Jeremiah 30:6–12; 31:27–40, 32:37–44; Ezekiel 37–40, and scores of other like prophecies, were all fulfilled in AD 70?
Operating from Dave Hunt’s starting point, I would like to ask him when will Israel be established in her land never to be removed again? It certainly isn’t going on now since Israel is threatened on all sides. It won’t be after the so-called rapture since two-thirds of the Jews living in Israel during the Great Tribulation are going to be killed. This hardly supports a time of peace and tranquility for Israel. It’s in Zechariah 13:8 that we read, “‘And it will come about in all the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it.’”
The only period that’s left is Revelation 20 which says nothing about Israel living in tranquility in their land. In fact, those who are reigning with Jesus are those who had been martyred for their faith. Unless only dead Israelites are living in Israel during this thousand year period the facts don’t fit. The burden of proof is on Mr. Hunt and his fellow dispensationalists to demonstrate how the above passages refer to Revelation 20.
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Mr. Hunt mentions Zechariah 12, 13, and 14. I’ve dealt with Zechariah 12 in my book Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future, so I’m not going to rehearse the arguments here. As we’ve seen, Zechariah 13:8 describes a period of hardship for the Jews. Dispensationalist Charles Ryrie writes in his book The Best is Yet to Come that after the “rapture” takes place, based on Zechariah 13:8, Israel will undergo “the worst bloodbath in Jewish history.”1 The book’s title doesn’t seem to be very appropriate considering that during this time millions of the Jews will die! John Walvoord follows a similar line of argument: “Israel is destined to have a particular time of suffering which will eclipse anything that it has known in the past. . . . [T]he people of Israel . . . are placing themselves within the vortex of this future whirlwind which will destroy the majority of those living in the land of Palestine.”2 Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that during the Great Tribulation “Israel will suffer tremendous persecution (Matthew 24:15–28; Revelation 12:1–17). As a result of this persecution of the Jewish people, two-thirds are going to be killed.”3
Like his fellow dispensationalists, when Mr. Hunt can’t find a relevant contextual interpretation for a passage, he relegates its interpretation to a post-rapture era that is interpretively out of context. In fact, in Mr. Hunt’s view nearly every seemingly unfulfilled OT and NT prophecy makes up the events that occur after the supposed “rapture of the church.” This is because dispensationalism teaches a two-people-of-God theology. For some bizarre reason that I still cannot understand, God can’t deal with Israel and the “church” at the same time and in the same place. Israel is said to be God’s “earthly people” while the church is God’s “heavenly people.”
For just one example of biblical context meaning everything, let’s take a look at Zechariah 14 to see how there is a better messianic, New Covenant, Jesus-centered context instead of relegating its fulfillment to a post-rapture world. “On the last day of the great day of the feast [the Feast of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living waters.”’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37–39). Jesus connects the outpouring of the Spirit with the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16–21). The comments by non-preterist commentator D.A. Carson are especially significant:
Thus, although the words If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink inevitably call to mind Isaiah 55:1 (cf. also Rev. 22:1–2; Jn. 4:10–14; 6:35), the particular association of the water rite with the Feast demands that we seek more focused significance. It is clear that this Feast was associated with adequate rainfall (cf. Zc. 14:16–17 — and interestingly enough, this chapter from Zechariah was read on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the liturgy prescribed in B. Megilla 31a), not surprisingly in light of the harvest connections. . . . The water-pouring ceremony is interpreted in these traditions as a foretaste of the eschatological rivers of living water foreseen by Ezekiel (47:1–9) and Zechariah (13:1). In these traditions the water miracle in the wilderness (Ex. 17:1–7; Nu. 20:8–13; cf. Ps. 78:16–20) is in turn a forerunner of the water rite of the Feast of Tabernacles.
In general terms, then, Jesus’ pronouncement is clear: he is the fulfillment of all the Feast of Tabernacles anticipated. If Isaiah could invite the thirsty to drink from the waters (Is. 55:1), Jesus announces that he is the one who can provide the waters.4
Carson shows that Jesus is the focal point of redemptive history not Israel. There is no waiting for the reality of this truth. Jesus provided the water then and now!
The New Testament describes Jesus as the fulfillment of every element of the Old Covenant shadows, feasts included (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost): “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to [His disciples] the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. . . . That all the things which are written about [Jesus] in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (24:27, 44). Earlier in Luke’s Gospel we read “that all things which are written” about the end of the Old Covenant were “fulfilled” (21:22). Jesus is the “lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36), the temple (2:29), the bread from heaven (6:48), the high priest (Heb. 5:10), and the Rock (1 Cor. 10:4). Willem VanGemeren’s comments on the shadow nature of the feasts are to the point:
Since Jesus’ coming the relevance of the Jewish religious calendar has been reduced to a shadow of things to come. Jesus is portrayed as the passover lamb (I Cor. 5:7–8). Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper instead of the passover. With the destruction of the temple, pilgrimages and special offerings have come to an end. The death of Christ, particularly, is portrayed in the NT as the final sacrifice by which man can be reconciled to God (Heb. 7:27; cf. Ch. 8).5
Are we really to expect that the nations of the world — several billion people — will go up to Jerusalem to live in booths “from year to year”? Is this what God is saying through Zechariah? The Feast of Booths commemorated the ingathering of the harvest, Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness, God’s divine protection, and the entrance of the Jews into the Promised Land. Dispensationalists are waiting for things to happen that are not going to happen. Jesus is the fulfillment.
Mr. Hunt either has not studied what preterists have written or is mis-representing their views. For example, he implies that preterists teach that every prophecy is fulfilled in A.D. 70. This is a caricature of the position. As I’ve pointed out, many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the history of the Old Testament. For example, Mr. Hunt cites Jeremiah 32:37–44 as yet to be fulfilled. Notice that the historical context places these events in a time when there was a divided kingdom (Israel and Judah) with kings, princes, priests, and prophets (v. 32). The land had been “given into the hand of the Chaldeans” (v. 43). It’s obvious that this passage is describing events after the Babylonian (Chaldean) captivity.
Jeremiah’s purchase of land just before an invasion would be a running joke down through the centuries if the fulfillment had not come to pass after the captivity (vv. 6–15, 25). The books of Ezra and Nehemiah show that the promises made to Jeremiah were real and the fulfillment was realized after the predicted 70-year exile. The people of the captivity returned to their land. The editors of Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible follow a predictable interpretive path: “This passage [32:36–44] speaks of millennial blessings.” This is not a prophecy about the so-called millennium of Revelation 20.
Many other prophecies were fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Prophecies fulfilled in A.D. 70 are found in the New Testament (e.g., Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Thess. 2; 1 John 2:18; etc.), not the Old Testament. This is not to say that no Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70. There are some, but not many.
Mr. Hunt mentions Ezekiel 37–44. Ezekiel 37 was fulfilled when nation of Israel returned to their land after the captivity and rebuilt the city and temple. Ezekiel 38–39 is a prophecy of events outlined in the book of Esther. See my book Why the End of the World is Not in Your Future.
What about Ezekiel’s temple? Ezekiel saw “a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze . . . who measured the thickness of the wall” (Ezek. 40:3, 5). Ezekiel sees this man doing the measuring. Ezekiel is a bystander. Being a visionary temple, Ezekiel did not have access to it because it existed only in a vision, and there is no indication that it was ever designed to be built. Ezekiel is told that the altar will be built: “These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built, to offer burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it” (Ezek. 43:18). We know that a new temple and altar were built, animals sacrificed, and Levitical priests attended to their priestly duties after the exile (Neh. 11:11). We know from the New Testament that Jesus is the temple and by extension the New Testament people of God.
- Charles C. Ryrie, The Best is Yet to Come (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981), 86. [↩]
- John F. Walvoord, Israel in Prophecy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1962), 107, 113. Emphasis added. [↩]
- Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “The Little Apocalypse of Zechariah,” The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming Under Attack, eds. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003), 262. [↩]
- D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991), 322–323. [↩]
- Willem VanGemeren, “Old Testament Feasts and Festivals,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 412. [↩]