God’s PAST Judgement: Affirming Preterism

On Friday, July 20th, 2018 – Pastor Michael Miano offered a lecture and affirmation of the Preterist view of God’s judgement.  You can listen to that lecture at the following link, https://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/757151-god-s-past-judgement

  • Also below you will find the handout to accompany that lecture, as well as excepts and notes.

“When did those under God’s wrath experience God’s wrath on the day of wrath (Rom. 2:5)? When did all unbelievers (not just in Judea) but all over the empire, experience the wrath to come upon all ungodly men and unbelievers (Rom. 1:18)”. – Joel Sexton

GAINING AN UNDERSTANDING OF JUDGEMENT
Prayerfully we can agree that we are not at liberty to develop mental images and concepts of our own that are foreign to the text of Scripture and how the original audience would have understood the details. Surely, we understand that 2000 years has a way of entirely changing and reshaping a perspective and or a culture. Placing emphasis on understanding the details from the original audiences perspective is called “audience relevance”.

If and when we are honest with ourselves, we can plainly admit that much of perspectives on spirituality and theology have been influenced by, fantasized by, and given over to Hollywood. I would assert that rather than having a healthy conceptual spirituality shaped by God’s truth, we have welcomed and accepted a perspective of Judgement Day that would make a great movie and/or book. Peter at the golden gates, everyone standing before a rathe larger throne, everyone being forced to bow to King Jesus…. All of that makes things exciting but are not necessarily true.

Understanding Context; thematic patterns; time texts = healthy understanding of God’s PAST Judgement

When we come to identify the 1st century generation as the “terminal generation”, the generation in which all things that were written found their fulfillment (cf. Luke 21:22 ), we realize that there is so much to study about and to say about the destruction of Jerusalem and how it applies to our lives in Christ. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:14 was the destruction of Jerusalam – the natural judgement as would be revealed on earth and the spiritual judgement of vengeance and rewards.

Spending some time understanding HOW God has made His judgements known throughout the Scriptures is advantageous to this study. I would assert that God made His judgments known from heaven, usually through earthly happenings (be they plagues or invading armies). Let’s take a look at what Jesus said in Luke 21:20-24:

“20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

When it comes to the judgement, that’s the image we must have in our head, not what we have conjured up, or what Hollywood has produced. Matter a fact, please allow me to share some other Biblical insights and some historical remarks regarding God’s PAST Judgement, that I am studying through regarding the details of the Final Judgement as made clear in Revelation chapter 14:14-20:

“In our reading of Revelation chapter 14:14-20 this “coming” speaks to God’s judgement and wrath as noted in v. 10 of the same chapter and alluding to judgement prophesied by Ezekiel (chapter 38) and spoke by Jesus and recorded in Matthew chapter 23. Sure enough, following Pentecost of AD 66, it is recorded by first century Jewish historian, Josephus, in his writing, Wars of the Jews “At that feast which we call Pentecost [of A.D. 66], as the priests were going by night into the inner temple…they felt a quaking and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence’”. This correlates to Ezekiel 1:24, “And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host”. This was also recorded by Roman historian Tacitus who speaking about this historical event wrote, “A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.  The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.”  This would seem to be a declaration that God’s presence was leaving the Temple before its destruction. “

 

John 3:18- 21:

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

However, Christ came to fulfill the prophecies, not defer or put them off. Judgement, “at that Day” was required to bring vengeance upon those who persecuted God’s people, especially those who killed His Son. Not only is this spoken about in the “according to their works” language, also “every knee shall bow” language – Romans 14:11 and Phippians 2:10. This is a citation of Isaiah 42:23. It’s important that we read, starting a verse 17 and ending at verse 25 to gain context).

Read Isaiah 42:17-25. Those who bow are the people of God, Israel.

The destruction of Jerusalem fulfilled and revealed the judgement of God!
“I would argue: first, the covenantal significance of the loss of the temple stands as the most dramatic redemptive-historical outcome of the Jewish War.” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Draper, VA; Apologetics Group, 2009), 347).

“The whole of the story, of judgement for those who had not followed Jesus and the vindication for those who had, is summed up in the cryptic but frequently repeated saying “the first shall be last, the last fist. In other words, when the great tribulation came on Israel, those who had followed Jesus would be delivered; and that would be the sign that Jesus had been in the right, and that in consequence they had been in the right in following him. The destruction of Jerusalem on the one hand, and the rescue of the disciples on the other, would be the vindication of what Jesus had been saying throughout his ministry.” (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Minneapolis, Fortress, 1996), 338).

This has brought about what the late Dr. Kelly Nelson Birks called “The Eternal Now of God”. In some of his teachings on this topic, Dr. Don K. Preston has referred to this as “Representative judgement”, which he said “…is a common concept because it is related to the Hebraic concept of corporate identity. It’s an exegetically confirmed concept”. Ultimately, as Dr. Preston noted, it is in failing “to grasp these fundamental Hebraic ideas that leads to an over-emphasis on saying things like “I did not see Rome, or Armenia, or Syria, or whatever judged. This is misguided”.

Unfortunately many have allowed a “misplaced hope” to lead them forward on the topic of judgement. Not only a Hollywood style, leaning upon thy own misunderstanding approaching, but a desire to put trust in the historic creeds of the church. “Misplaced hope” should remind many of the book Sam Frost had written a few years back about exactly that – a misplaced trust in creeds and councils. Yes, the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Augsburg Confession (article 17), and the Westminster Confession (33:1-3) – and a host of others – assert a yet future judgement and resurrection. However, how all the details are put together by so many different camps in such different ways is not only depressing, but should redirect any honest Bible student back to Scriptures and the concept of “audience relevance”. I do however, look to publish a resource to accompany some of the others that are out there which speak to historic church error on the last things (including but not limited to judgement of the living and the dead).

So…in response to Joel Sexton on judgement, I would assert, as I have said before “…it seems he completely misses thematic expressions of judgement as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. The Exodus typology found all throughout the New Testament and the teachings of Christ, regarding what He was  doing in and through His “called out ones” gives us the beautiful pattern of the manifested judgement of God. Full Preterism, even more specifically the Corporate Body View, not only seems to give us the most contextually and Scripturally supported view of God’s judgement, it also lends to establishing and understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

 

CONCLUSION: REVELATION & APPLICATION
What I have offered up tonight – contextual view of God’s judgement, Preterist understanding of the past final judgement (bolstered by the Hebraic understanding as offered up through the Law and the Prophets), the problems with a future deferred hope, and now we will end with some points regarding how we internalize and apply God’s PAST Judgement.

I rather appreciate Dr. Don K. Preston’s article series regarding the Gospel and the destruction of Jerusalalem. In one of the articles he notes;

What was Peter doing in Acts 3:22-23?  He was identifying the True Israel – the true “the people” as those who accepted Jesus! But notice that he warned his audience that those who refused to accept Jesus: “And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” The language here is graphic– “utter destruction” awaited those who rejected Jesus as Messiah!

Those rejecting Jesus would be “utterly destroyed” – which of course happened in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 – but, on the other side of the coin, it meant that with the destruction of the Old People, the True People of God were revealed. The ‘sons of God were manifested” just as Paul predicted in Romans 8:19: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

What was “creation” longing for? It was waiting for “the manifestation (apocalypsis- the revealing) of the sons of God.” In the mind-set of the ancient world, nothing could have more clearly manifested the identity of the True Israel than the destruction of the very symbol of the Old World, the City and the Temple.

Here is the manifestation of the sons of God! Here is the vindication of the saints!

A future judgement is not needed in the life of a Christian. We, as Israel was supposed, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ carry God’s judgments with us. As the Apostle remarked, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (cf. Romans 8:1). Those who believe an accomplished judgement leads to deism, universalism, and/or antinomianism need to go back and understand what it means to be “in Christ”, not to mention how all throughout Scripture the judgements of God were historically known and contemporarily applied. As for those who are outside Christ – they are condemned, they don’t have the victory, don’t walk in life and Godliness that has been marked out, and suffer loss. As 1 Corinthians 5:13 cites, “as to those outside, God judges”.

As Dr. Preston said very well, “I suggest that is high time- and past- to recover the power of the gospel of the kingdom of the end of the Old Covenant world. That event was the manifestation of the sons of God, and irrefutable, undeniable vindication of Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus himself pointed to that event as the sign of his presence– the sign that he is King of kings and Lord of lords (Matthew 24:30). It is time that the modern church begins once again to proclaim that message of victory, of vindication, of identification, of glorification.”

Amen and Amen.

cf. ‘Remember Pella’ by Nathan DuBois. Read the article at the following link, https://www.preteristarchive.com/Idealism/2005_dubois_pella.html

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