Month 8:4, Week 1:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:204 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 30 October 2011
The Mystery of the Lost Generation
For the Preterist (from the Latin, meaning 'past'), these contentious passages of Scripture - along with most if not all biblical prophecy - is proof that all futuristic sayings, along with the Second Coming, were fulfilled by the end of the first century AD, if not AD 70 itself. Thus to the Preterist we are now living in that much sought-for Kingdom Age and that it will essentially go on for ever (something the Catholics would agree with). Like the Jehovah's Witnesses who believe Yah'shua (Jesus) returned invisibly in 1914, so Preterists believe He returned the same way in AD 70. And like the Jehovah's Witnesses, they deny a literal physical resurrection too, claiming it was all spiritual.
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom" (Matt.16:27-28, NKJV)
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation (genea) will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (; 24:32-35, NKJV).
Though there are different kinds of Preterism, the 'fundamentalist' variety teaches that Nero was the end-time antimessiah (antichrist), the tribulation occurred AD 66-70 (the 5-year siege of Jerusalem), Yah'shua (Jesus) returned invisibly in the clouds in AD 70 to witness the destruction of Jerusalem, Yahweh replace Israel with the 'Church' (replacement theology), Armageddon happened in AD 70 (the fall of Babylon is the fall of Jerusalem), Satan and his demons are already bound in the pit (Rom.20 has been fulfilled), we are in the Millennium now (the 1,000 years are just figurative), and that all of this proves that Yah'shua (Jesus) returned "quickly".
It is not difficult to disprove most of Preterism's absurd claims. For one, Peter's statement that the devil is wandering around devouring people still (1 Pet.5:8) contradicts the idea that he is bound and impotent. Deliverance ministers like myself, who encounter demons all thne time, know this is absurd. And if the 1,000 year millennium is figurative, and will go on forever, what does it mean that Satan is to be released a short season at millennium's end? Paul declares that Satan is still prince of the air (Eph.2:2) which of course makes no sense if he is in the abyss. As one commentator noted, Preterists would have a difficult time convincing Peter and Paul that Satan was already bound by the power of the cross. If Satan is bound today, why are the nations still deceived? And if this is the millennium, why is there still war? And if the millennium is just symbolic, then is His reign only symbolic too?
If Yahweh is finished with Israel, why did Paul ask: "Has Elohim (God) cast away his people?" And why did he respond so emphatically, "Elohim (God) forbid!" (Rom.11:1)? Why did Paul ask of Israel, "Have they stumbled that they should fall?" And why did he respond again: "Elohim (God) forbid!" (Rom.11:11)? Why did Paul state that "blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes" (Rom.11:25)? Why did he believe, "all Israel shall be saved" (Rom.11:26) if Yahweh is already finished with Israel? If the 'Church' replaces Israel and becomes the Kingdom of Yahweh on earth, why did the talmidim (disciples) ask Yah'shua (Jesus) at the ascension: "Master, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Ac.1:6). That was the perfect opportunity for Him to tell the talmidim (disciples) that He was finished with Israel and that they were now 'the Church'.' But He did not! He simply told them it was not for them to know that time which the Father has predetermined for Israel to have the kingdom (Ac.1:7).
Dr. Edward Hindson identifies five major heresies of preterism:
All excellent and true observations. But Dr.Hindson and other apologists like him fail to explain the meaning of our two main passages today. Indeed, they tend to dodge them and so re-inforce presterist belief. And for the atheist, they are 'proof' to them that biblical prophecy was not fulfilled at all, that Yah'shua (Jesus) - historical or made-up - simply got it wrong. It is therefore important that we carefully address the honest concerns that they raise.
1. Destroys the Literal Meaning of the Bible. Once you start arguing that the language of prophecy cannot be taken literally, you are not that far removed from not taking the rest of the Bible literally either. Preterists are following the dangerous path of liberalism which began denying predictive prophecy and soon rejected the literal interpretation of creation, the flood, the virgin birth of Messiah, His vicarious death and bodily resurrection;
2. Distorts the Promise of the Second Coming. Placing the return of Messiah in the past robs the Messianic Community (Church) of a confident expectation about the future. We are left on earth trying to 'make the best of it' without any real hope of divine intervention. It leaves the Messianic Community (Church) trying to 'bring in the Kingdom' without the King;
3. Diminishes the Hope of the Believer. Preterism negates the biblical commands to 'watch' and 'be ready' for the coming of Messiah. It limits those injunctions to the first century believers prior to AD 70. In fact, it limits every biblical command related to the return of Messiah. The phrase "until He comes" would have to be limited to AD 70. How can we "build the messianic community (church)" (Mt.16:18) or "occupy until He comes"? In fact, how do we celebrate Pesach and the Lord's Supper to "show forth the Masterís death until He comes" (1 Cor.11:26)? Should we stop celebrating His death because He already came in AD 70?
4. Deprives Israel of Her Future. Preterists insist that Yahweh is finished with Israel. Many of them teach that it is actually Yah'shua (Jesus) who breaks the covenant with Israel in Daniel 9:26-27. In essence, Preterism pits Yah'shua (Jesus) against Israel. Preterists actually teach that the "Babylon" of Revelation 17-18 is Jerusalem! Therefore, the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 represents Yah'shua's (Jesus') ultimate triumph over unbelief.
5. Denies the Power of Messiah. While most preterists would insist they are defending the power of Messiah, they are actually denying it. They are trying to "bring in the Kingdom" without the King. And might I add, they are fighting a losing battle! Christianity/Messianism is under attack like never before. We are not winning the battle for world dominion and we never will. Yes, the messianic community (church) will continue to grow (Mt.16:18), but so will the resistance of Satan (1 Timothy 4:1). Yahweh will continue to do marvelous things in this world. But the Messianic Community (Church) will never bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth until the King of Heaven returns in person.
Recently someone of the latter disposition asked me to explain one of these passages and then scoffed at my answer. Since a false understanding of this passage of Scripture has made shipwreck of the faith of many a soul, today I thought I would make a public statement and set the facts out.
When Preterists accuse those who myself who believe that the Second Comming and the Millennium have not come - and you would have thought that that was obvious given the description of what that glorious age will be like - they expose their Achillee's Hell. With Satan and his host described as being bound in the pit and Yah'shua (Jesus) sitting as regent in Jerusalem, with perfect concord and shalom (peace) worldwide, it is fairly obvious that we are not at all in that Golden Age. Indeed, we are on the verge of a world dictatorship. Rather, it is fairly obvious that hell-on-earth is nearly everywhere evident still, thus lending support to the atheist position.
First of all it is important that we not engage in what Preterists claim to be 'hermaneutical gymnastics' by denying the p'shat or plain sense of what Yah'shua (Jesus) said. We can't go endlessly stretching "this generation" into meaning hundreds of generations if that indeed is actually what He said.
Second, as we know full well from prophetic books like Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation, the events described are not necessarily arranged chronologically. Whether this is to confound those who do not have the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) for for some other reason, I cannot say, only that this is a well-known characteristic of prophecy. Remember also that Scripture is full of chiasms, a poetic device to enable the ancients to memorise vast amounts of Scripture, some of it quite complex. Thus a sequence of concepts A-B-C-D-E is mirrored or repeated in reverse order, E-D-C-B-A, which can result in chronological events appearing to occur in reverse too. Some chiastic structures are quite complex, with chiasms within chiasms.
To illustrate, let us take our first passage of Scripture. Preterists claim that this cannot be referring to the Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared with Yah'shua (Jesus), before Peter, James and John who, you will recall, wanted to build these esteemed visitors a sukkah or tent because this manifestation occurred during Sukkot, on two counts:
One could argue that Moses and Elijah were angels (malakim) for in its broadest sense an angel is a messenger (human or supernatural - see the seven human angels of Rev.2-3), but we do not need to do that. There are two separate sentences here:
- 1. There were no angels present at the Transfiguration (which took place a few days after Yah'shua/Jesus made this statement); and
- 2. No rewards were given according to men's works.
and they do not necessarily have to be referring to the same period of time, or even be in natural chronological order. Indeed, the second sentence could well be referring to a period of time before the first. One thing is very clear is that the "some" who were listening to Yah'shua (Jesus) make this statement, most definitely did see Yah'shua (Jesus) coming in all His Kingdom glory. And these were Peter, James and John. In other words, Matthew 16:27-28 could very well have been fulfilled in a matter of days after the Messiah spoke them.
- 1. For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works; and
- 2. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
The second passage is more interesting and its meaning rather harder to pin down. As we read the material before and after it, it becomes immediately clear that what is being described is the Great Tribulation that occurs immediately prior to the Second Coming. Preterists are then forced, by their own hermeneutical gymnastics, to try and force the events that took place before the sacking of Jerusalem in AD 70 into a short span of history and arrive at the erroneous conclusion that we are actually in the Millennium, and have been for nearly 2,000 years.
We must now make a third observation. A single prophecy may contain mutliple layers and refer to multiple events that are different, yet similar or related, and be separated by large periods of time. This layering again demands that the reader be possessed of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to discern them.
And fourth, we must remember that though most of the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) have been passed down to us in the Greek language, Yah'shua (Jesus) and the pre-Pauline apostles were Hebrews who spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, and likely very little Greek (the apostle Philip evidently spoke Greek as he was the interpreter for Greek believers), which was a despised language to both nationalists and pious Judahites owing to the persecution and dilution of their faith violently imposed before the Hasmonean period by Antiochus Epiphanes and other Hellenists. So it is a matter of considerable interest to read in the most widely known Aramaic version of the New Testament, the Peshitta, an entirely different rendering of this passage, viz.:
In other words, if the Peshitta is closer to the orginal saying of Yah'shua (Jesus), our Messiah was not talking about a generation but the set-apart race known as the children of Israel. Since this is now a spiritual race in the New Covenant consisting of genetic Messianic Israelites and grafted-in gentiles from every race under the sun, then Yah'shua (Jesus) is, in fact, saying that there will be some authentic born-again, Torah-obedient believers when He returns even if they are only a few:
"Assuredly, I say to you, this [Israelite] RACE will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matt 24:34-35, Peshitta).
Of course, more saw the Kingdom glory who were alive while Yah'shua (Jesus) was on earth than Peter, James and John, though not so spectacularly as on the Mount of Transfiguration. Thousands saw Him after His resurrection as well as His ascension into Heaven. More importantly, for those who have been tripped up by these passages and waivered or even lost faith because of them, we understand the importance to getting back to Scripture's Hebrew roots for accuracy of translation.
"Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find emunah (faith) on the earth?" (Luke 18:8, NKJV).
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt.24:37, NKJV).
Our second passage is not the only one to lose its meaning in translation from Hebrew to Greek - other more serious ones include putting in Yah'shua's (Jesus') mouth approval of castration (Mt.19:12) when Torah expressly forbids it, when we now know that the Greek translators of this passage faced a connundrum in rendering an Aramaic word (anmyhm) which could either mean "eunuchs" or "faithful ones" (i.e., true believers), and is so correctly rendered in the latter sense in the HRV (Hebraic-Roots Version of the Bible). Why has the eunuch error thus been perpetuated so totally in Western versions? Because of what the Western Messianic Community (Church) evolved into - Roman Catholicism with its pagan penchant for aberrant practices such as (formerly) castrating boys (castrati) for permanent membership in the Vatican choir. So we are not surprised to find translator bias anciently as today, requiring us to be very careful in our research for scriptural emet (truth).
It has taken many generations to unwrap the deeper meaning of some passages of Scripture precisely because these understandings were sovereignly reserved for later generations. Scripture has passed from Hebrew into Greek and into Latin and from thence to modern languages like English, losing much of its substance in the process and thus obscuring the meaning of important passages. The resurgence of interest in the Hebrew roots of our faith therefore comes at a providential time, and passages that once baffled us, and have led many to doubt, are seen after all to be harmonious and truthful, as we should expect of them.
In these matters as well as others, we are to live by emunah (faith), resting not on the word of fallible (and often biased, unbelieving) scholars but on the witness of the Ruach (Spirit) that brought us to salvation in the first place. The study of the Bible is a lifetime's endeavour for the faithful, and it will not yield all its secrets except to those who are its diligent students holding on to the faith once delivered to the apostles. Willful atheists, however brilliant intellectually, will always miss its hidden truths because the Bible was designed to keep saving truths concealed from them. Yahweh hides His emet (truth) in ways that the flesh cannot fathom. Ultimately, it must be brought out by careful study, personal revelation and an encounter with the Divine. To those who thus approach this treasure house, it will yield both its meat and dainties in abundance and in due season.
May you find shalom (peace) in the knowledge that not only did Yah'shua (Jesus) reveal His Kingdom glory to many in the first generation but that He has preserved authentic Messianic Israelites to this time, and will do so until the end of the dispensation, even though they be few in number. Amen.
Comments from Readers
"Also look at Revelation. Then about seven thunders, I did ask them if Preterism have record what are seven thunders that John was supposed to prophecy, guess what! They can't answer it which means nothing happen in past history" (GR, USA, 30 October 2011)
 Dr. Edward Hindson, The New Last Days Scoffers