This danger was discussed in the previous section (#7), as we considered how Reformed men have abandoned the literal and normal understanding of God’s Word, especially as it relates to the prophetic portions of the Bible.
Use your imagination, and suppose you were an Israelite living in the days of Esther during the time of the Persian empire (about 470 B.C.). One day you come across several Hebrew scrolls which happen to include the books of Isaiah and Micah (both written approximately 700 years before Christ’s birth). As you read through these sacred books, you discover some amazing prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6).
Now suppose a Jewish friend of yours comes along and you share with him your excitement: “Isn’t it wonderful that God promised to someday send the Messiah into the world?” But to your amazement, your friend does not share your same expectation. He says this:
My friend, I’m sad to say that you have misunderstood these prophecies. These prophesies are not predictions about what is going to happen in the FUTURE, but these are predictions that have already been FULFILLED in the past. You see, those of us who have great insight into the real message of the Bible understand that these predictions were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It was at this time that the Messiah came in judgment. These prophecies are all about the Messiah’s coming in judgment during the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Even though it’s true that no one saw the Messiah at that time, yet nevertheless, that is when He came. You should not expect Him to come in the future because He has already come. In fact, Isaiah told us that His coming would soon take place: “Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty” (Isaiah 13:6). Obviously this was referring to the soon coming event of the Babylonian destruction, not to some far off future happening. Anyone living today who is living in the expectancy of a far off, future coming of the Messiah is sadly misguided and has totally failed to understand the Bible.
Hopefully everyone reading the above would recognize the folly of understanding prophecy in such a way. Yet, today there are many people in the Reformed camp who have embraced preterism and are telling us much the same thing as in our imaginary story. The great prophecies of our Lord’s second coming, we are told, have already been fulfilled in the past, in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Even though no one saw Christ return at that time, yet this is when He returned in judgment!
The great truths of prophetic Scripture: the coming of the Lord for His saints (1 Thess. 4:13-18), the great tribulation (Revelation 4-19), the second coming of Christ, the kingdom reign of the Messiah (described in great detail by all the prophets)—all these are denied by those who relegate all prophecies to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Hundreds of prophecies are cancelled out by this method under the bewildering supposition that they have already been fulfilled.