Luke 21:22: “These be the days of vengeance in which all things are written must be fulfilled.”
In one of my earliest books, I made the comment: “There are no new eschatological prophecies in the NT. All NT eschatology was the expectation of the imminent fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.” Opponents of Covenant Eschatology literally laughed and scoffed at me for making such an “obviously wrong” claim.
In fact, in a formal public debate with Amillennial church of Christ minister, John Welch, in Indiana, Welch quoted that citation and claimed it was one of the most ridiculous things he had ever read! I immediately produced several charts with quotes from NT writers, to the effect that their doctrine of the restoration of all things, the resurrection, the Day of the Lord and destruction of “the earth and the elements therein” being destroyed, the judgment, etc. etc.. Welch never said another word about my claim. That debate, in MP3 format is available from me.
In April of 2023 I had a two and one half hour debate on YouTube with a former Christian turned atheist, named Mark Smith. The debate was aired on Myth Vision, a blog by Derek Lambert, himself a former believer now turned atheist. As part of his affirmative Smith literally mocked at the idea of Christ coming invisibly, in a historical judgment on Jerusalem. I responded by presenting several passages from the OT in which YHVH had come on the clouds, out of heaven, and was “seen” and yet, not once did he come literally, visibly. I showed from Scripture that Jesus said he was coming “in the glory of the Father” i.e. as the Father had come many times in the OT. Smith responded that the OT is “irrelevant” to the study of eschatology and that he was not going to even discuss it! That debate can be viewed in its entirety here.
That fact is that one of the most egregious errors in all of modern discussions of eschatology is how two of the major futurist views, the Amillennial and the Postmillennial, completely ignore this truth (Or overtly deny it), while the Dispensationalist has to postpone the fulfillment of those promises by so far 2000 years. When would be interpreters of the Bible completely ignore or deny that fountain from which NT eschatology flows, they are doomed to owning – and teaching – a false paradigm.
My purpose in a short series of articles is to demonstrate the validity of my comment above, by examining some of the foundational Old Testament eschatological passages. I will take note of the constituent elements found in those prophecies of “the last days,” “The Day of the Lord,” the resurrection, the kingdom, the New Creation, etc. I will prove that each and every constitiuent element of eschatology is posited in direct temporal relationship with the time of the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. The passages I will examine are texts that both Jesus and the NT writers appeal to, either directly or by allusion and “echo” in their predictions of the coming end.
At this juncture, it is appropriate to give honor to whom honor is due. In 1990, Max King, of Warren, Ohio, produced a small book (70 pages or so), entitled Old Testament Israel and New Testament Salvation. In my opinion, this short work was truly ground breaking and critically important. Yet, to my knowledge it was never widely accepted or distributed. It clearly did not receive the recognition it deserved and deserves.
In that work, King set forth the premise that I will advance in this series. Here are just a few comments from the early pages of his book: (I develop my premise in a manner different from King, but each work is complimentary of the other).
I am persuaded that the topic, ‘Old Testament Israel and New Testament salvation’ opens up a concept of divine purpose in scripture that provides a basic, fundamental guideline for interpreting scripture, particularly in matters pertaining to salvation.
A point often missed is that the apostles preached the whole gospel, its past, present and future, out of the Old Testament scriptures. ….The relationship of these two testaments is one of promise and fulfillment. The New testament was not intended to be more or less than the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies that were carried through Old Testament Israel. It is apparent, however, that what is being taught today is the reverse of this basic truth. The New Testament has been turned into more promises of a greater salvation to be fulfilled in a non-Jewish future at the end of a non-Jewish age by a non-Jewish parousia of Christ. (Max King, OT Israel NT Salvation, (Warren, Ohio; Eschatology Publications, 1990) 1, 2. (The book has long been out of print and is currently virtually impossible to find, per my attempts on Google, Amazon, Ebay, etc.).
When I first read King’s book, I must confess that I did not yet “Catch the power” of what he was saying. Subsequently, however, I have indeed caught the power of what he wrote – and it is profound. While I do not agree at all with many positions that King took later in life, (he is now deceased), nonetheless, his short book is an incredible work that has the potential to correct the errors of modern day futurism in all of its forms.
It is interesting that some scholars, for instance N. T. Wright, in his The New Testament and the People of God, as well as his Jesus and the Victory of God, ostensibly recognizes what King stated so succinctly. Yet, Wright has never followed through with the logic of his own comments. Here is one example of his comments:
In many strands of Jewish expectation, demonstrably current in the first century, the fate of the Gentiles would hinge on the fate of Israel. What YHWH intended to do for the Gentiles, he would do in some sense or other through Israel. (N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, Minneapolis; Fortress, 1992), 68).
Very clearly, were Wright to follow the logic of his own comments, it would destroy his own futurist eschatology.
As a lead in to my examination of some key eschatological texts, let me state my case again, as succinctly as possible. I am, in reality, simply re-phrasing King’s sentiments:
Every constituent element of Biblical eschatology, i.e. the coming of the Lord, the Judgment, the resurrection, the New Creation, the kingdom, salvation, etc., are inextricably bound up with the Old Testament prophecies of the time of the Judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem and Israel.
Let me follow up with this:
If it is true that in the Old Testament, all constituent elements of eschatology are temporally connected with prophecies of the judgment of Jerusalem,
If it is true that in the Old Testament, the time of the judgment of Jerusalem that is connected to those constituent elements of eschatology was the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem,
It must be true that every constituent element of eschatology, i.e. the coming of the Lord, the Judgment, the resurrection, the New Creation, the kingdom, salvation, etc., was fulfilled in the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem.
Of course, to fully establish my case it has to be proven that the judgment of Jerusalem that is connected to those constituent elements of eschatology was in fact the A. D. 70 judgment of Jerusalem. This series will show that the constituent elements of eschatology are indeed linked with prophecies of the A. D. 70 judgment and destruction of Jerusalem. There is no temporal disconnect between that judgment and the eschatological elements.
(The dilemma for the Amillennialist and Postmillennialist is that if they posit these eschatological elements in the future – as they do – then of necessity, they are positing that prophesied destruction of Jerusalem into the future as well. But that is something they are loathe to do. There is no place in either of these views for such a prophesied judgment).
Notice now, before actually examining some of those OT prophecies, the words of Jesus in Luke 21:22:
“These be the days of vengeance in which all things are written must be fulfilled.”
Keep in mind that proponents of all three futurist eschatologies agree that in Luke 21:20-24, Jesus was speaking of the impending horrific judgment that was about to come on Jerusalem. The passage therefore appears to be saying that all prophecy would be fulfilled by the time of and in the events of that catastrophic judgment. Of course, futurists cannot allow that. It would destroy their futurism. So, arguments are made to counter what seems to be the clear words of Jesus.
Kenneth Gentry wrote an article addressing the full preterist view of Luke 21:22, accusing us of being naive and ignorant. His argument is (unless he has changed), that what Jesus meant was that in the events of AD 70 “all things written in the OT” would be fulfilled. Gentry was unequivocal. He said that “all OT prophecy” would be fulfilled in A. D. 70. You can read Gentry’s quote in an article I wrote in refutation of his claim on my website.
Of course, it is to be noted that Gentry’s claim is, in reality, an admission that the premise of this series is true. Why? Let me summarize Dr. Gentry’s argument for ease of understanding.
When Jesus said (Luke 21:22), that “all things written must be fulfilled,” he referred only to those prophecies (and all of those prophecies), that had been written prior to his statement in A.D. 30.
All New Testament prophecies of the resurrection (e.g. John 5:28f, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians, etc.), were written after A. D. 30.
Therefore, all New Testament prophecies of the resurrection were not part of the “all things that are written” that were to be fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Here is what Dr. Gentry concludes: “Thus, Jesus is referring to all things written in the Old Testament. At this stage of redemptive history those are the only prophecies that had already been written.”
Gentry had clearly not thought his argument through very well. Here is an argument I offered in response to illustrate his fallacy:
“All Old Testament prophecy” would be fulfilled by the time of, and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. (Kenneth Gentry)
But, the Old Testament predicted the general resurrection of the dead (*Daniel 12:2, Kenneth Gentry).
Therefore, the general resurrection of the dead occurred in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.
* It should be noted that Gentry has radically changed his position on Daniel 12. He once taught, emphatically, that it foretold the “end of time” resurrection, but has since changed his position. He now admits that it was a prophecy of A. D. 70! But he insists that Isaiah 25 and 26 remain as unfulfilled prophecies of an end of time resurrection. I fully document this in my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12: Future or Fulfilled?).
Not only did the OT predict the resurrection of the dead, but as set forth above, every constituent element of eschatology found in the NT finds its source in the OT prophetic corpus.
To reiterate: There are no new eschatological prophecies in the NT. All NT prophecies were the anticipation of the imminent fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. Thus, for Gentry and other commentators to admit that Jesus was speaking of the fulfillment of “all OT prophecies” by the time of A. D. 70, this is to establish the truth of Covenant Eschatology.
So, at this juncture, the reader needs to know:
I fully agree that what Jesus had in mind in Luke 21:22 was that ALL OT prophecy and all particulars associated with that judgment were to be fulfilled in A. D. 70.
In an upcoming book, These Be The Days of Vengeance in Which All Things Written Must Be Fulfilled, I demonstrate that in both the Hebrew OT and the New Covenant, the time of the judgment and destruction of Old Covenant Judah / Jerusalem, was to be the time of the fulfillment of every major eschatological tenet! This undeniable connection – clearly something Gentry and others seemingly overlook or ignore, is a huge oversight among Bible commentators.
To establish the validity of my argument, I will examine a few key OT eschatological prophecies. Of necessity, this discussion will be brief. In the aforementioned upcoming book, I go into detailed exegesis of many additional texts. Be looking for that book, in the (hopefully) not too distant future.
This first introductory installment is intended to simply lay the foundation, for what is to follow. Be looking for Installment #2.