By Nathan Jones
Was the book of Revelation fulfilled in 70 AD and therefore has nothing to do with the end times?
To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Gary Fisher of the Bible prophecy ministry Lion of Judah Ministries from Franklin, Tennessee and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.
Dating Incorrectly With Preterism
Dr. Reagan: Let's talk about one of the popular theories today and that's what's called Preterism. It's kind of a strange name, and certainly one of the strangest interpretations of the book of Revelation that anybody has ever come up with, but it is growing in popularity. This is the idea that the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and therefore was fulfilled in whole, or in part as some argue, in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Revelation it teaches is a book of prophecies fulfilled in 70 AD and not about the end times. What about it?
Nathan Jones: That would mean that Jesus would have had to come back in 70 AD. No historian has recorded the return of Jesus in 70 AD.
Dr. Reagan: They argue that He came back spiritually.
Nathan Jones: True, but that would then mean that we are living in the Millennial Kingdom. I don't know about you, but when I read the Bible about the Millennial Kingdom it talks about the curse being partially lifted, that Jesus is ruling from Jerusalem, that Jerusalem is the capital city of the world, and Israel is the main country over the world. During the Millennial Kingdom the curse is partially lifted. It is a time of peace and harmony. With 38 wars going on right now, it's pretty obvious to me that we are not living in the Millennial Kingdom.
Dr. Reagan: Also, when you talk about Jesus coming back spiritually, you would then deny what the angels said to His disciples on the Mount of Olives when He ascended into heaven: "He will return as He ascended." That return then is bodily; that is visibly.
Gary Fisher: The whole Preterism argument is based on two issues. One, if you are bent on an allegorical interpretation of the Bible, then you can get away with saying that Jesus has already returned and all the Revelation plagues and all that stuff has already occurred. But, if you insist on the literal interpretation of the Bible, then you cannot get away with making those claims.
Dr. Reagan: In fact, if you don't have a literal interpretation, there's no way really to ever determine whether a prophecy has been fulfilled.
Gary Fisher: Not only that, but the whole Bible becomes almost meaningless due to an allegorical interpretation of the Bible. The Bible can then mean anything you want. How do we know there was even a real Jesus?
Dr. Reagan: Dennis, was the book of Revelation written before 70 AD?
Dennis Pollock: No, it was written afterwards, so that should settle it right there. Beyond that, have you ever been to an event that was really built up as something great and it turned out to just fizzle?
Dr. Reagan: Oh, yes.
Dennis Pollock: I went to one meeting that was supposed to be the latest, greatest revival meetings ever. After it was over, I was really disappointed. I thought, "Lord, is the best you can do?"
When you read about the coming of Christ at the end of Revelation, riding the white horse and coming as this mighty warrior to take control of the earth, then you find out it is this wimpy little spiritual coming that really didn't mean much of anything it's like, "Is that really what's being described in Revelation?" And the answer obviously is no. The Tribulation is leading up to something. It's not all by itself in Revelation. It's leading up to Christ coming back to rule and reign.
Dr. Reagan: What hope is there about the future if you think it was all fulfilled in 70 AD? Come on!
Dennis Pollock: Yes, it makes the whole book meaningless.
Dr. Reagan: Preterism reminds me of that statement by the Apostle Paul where he said, "I want you to avoid two fellas" and he named them because he said, "They teach that the resurrection has already occurred." Well, these Preterists are teaching that the Second Coming has already occurred. What hope is there in such an interpretation? It's really a very sad kind of interpretation.
Gary Fisher: I am with Nathan's point. If we are living now in the Millennium, we are in a big mess, because if this is God's best... We have some of the highest crime rates in the world and all the other horrible stuff that's going with that. This is supposed to be the Millennium?!
Nathan Jones: Satan is supposed to be reined in during the Millennium. He's supposed to be put into a pit during the Millennial Kingdom. Obviously, he is working very hard right now here on earth.
Gary Fisher: Satan's not in a pit in Tennessee. He's roaming about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
In the second segment of our forum on the book of Revelation, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts to provide some keys to interpreting and understanding the book.