Written Debate on the Millennium: Jonathan Companik’s Third Affirmative
I want the reader to pay very close attention to what Don Preston has done. Notice Mr. Preston totally bypassed my exegesis of Ezekiel 39, my exegesis of Rev. 19:11-20:4, and the significance of Paul’s olive tree analogy for Romans 11. And yet all the while he accuses me of “ignoring” and “evading”.
Whether Mr. Preston knew what he was doing, what this amounts to is psychological manipulation of the reader, using all kinds of dramatic terms and evasive techniques while accusing his opponent of being guilty of the same evasive tactics.
It is true I did not specifically quote certain “syllogisms” as laid out by him, but I did address (by rebutting) the overall points he made that were used as the foundation for those syllogisms. I even went so far as to quote and explicate blocks of passages he merely referenced and cited in passing. Apparently that was not enough for Mr. Preston.
But let’s move forward. Mr. Preston spends a great deal of time bloviating about the implications of my use of Deut. 30:1-5 as somehow “fatal” for my position. In fact, almost the entire scope of his rebuttal rested on critiquing this point, citing and quoting passages like Eph. 4:5, Matt.5:17-18, Isaiah 27/59, etc. to “prove” that I have been caught in a huge”contradiction”. In his mind, the “one hope” of Israel per Paul in Ephesians is synonymous with the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27, wherein God makes “an end of [Israel’s] sin” by destroying Jerusalem, causing sacrifice and oblation to cease, and removing the temple. He believes the salvation of the “remnant” of the Jews in AD 70 constitutes the salvation of “all Israel”(Rom. 11:26) and the fulfillment of Israel’s “hope” (Eph.4:5)
Mr. Preston proves too much here. The emperor has no clothes. My interlocutor knows Ezekiel is not his ally. He is afraid to confront Ezek. 39:21-29 because he simply has no weapons in his arsenal for making sense of it. Let’s reproduce those verses again:
21 “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. 22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. 23 The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them.”’
25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name—26 after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, 28 then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. 29 And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’says the Lord God.”
Mr. Preston acknowledges Ezekiel 38-39 is set in the context of the events immediately leading up to, including, and following the battle of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium. He has made this quite explicit for us.
So, when did the “house of Israel” go “into captivity for their iniquity”? When did God hide his “face” from the Jews and give them “into the hand of their enemies”? When did the Jews “fall by the sword”? (Ezek. 39:23 above, cf. also Lk. 21:24). In AD 70! Right?
But what happens afterwards (vv. 25-29)? He “brings back the captives of Jacob”, and has “mercy” on the “whole house of Israel” (vs 25). He brings them “back from the peoples” and gathers them “out of their enemies’ lands”, and hallows them “in the sight of many nations” (vs.27). It is then that the Jews will know who the true God is Who “sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land…” (vs. 28).
What, did the dispersion and regathering of physical Israel occur at the same time, in AD 70? Really? Does Mr. Preston really want to go there? Because it is the only option he has left.
Notice the clear time gap between, on the one hand, vv. 21-24, and vv. 25-29.The Jews are dispersed throughout all the nations and driven out by the edge of the sword (21-24), but then they are brought back (25-29).
Also notice here that it is not a mere “remnant” that is saved, but “the whole house of Israel” (vs. 25)! This corresponds to the “all Israel will be saved” of St. Paul in Rom. 11:26! Checkmate.
Further, notice they [the Jews] “all fell by the sword”, and”went into captivity for their iniquity” (Ezek. 39:23) in the sack of Jerusalem (AD 70)–which corresponds to the first half of Luke 21: 24:”And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all the nations.”
But what does the latter half of Luke 21:24 say? “And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” What happens when the “times of the Gentiles” (the millennium) are “fulfilled”? Ezekiel tells us that those same Jews who were led captive for their iniquities in AD 70 (Ezek. 39:21-24) would be gathered again–the “whole house”(vs.25!)—not merely a “remnant”, as Preston argues.
This also explains why Preston did not want to touch my exegesis of Romans 11 wherein I anticipated and addressed the full preterist “remnant only” position. I showed that the”remnant” being saved (present tense) during the first century (Rom. 11:5) was contrasted with the “all Israel” who “will be saved” (future tense) that Paul was grieving over (Rom.11:26).
I cannot emphasize enough how significant the tense change in Romans 11 is, and how utterly devastating this is for Mr. Preston. The “remnant” were being saved when St. Paul wrote (“Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” – cf. 11:5). The rest of Romans 11 is dedicated to “the rest” who “were blinded” (vs. 7), not the remnant who were already being saved! The”blinded” nation is the “all Israel” who “will be saved” (11: 26).
Note that this is further proof Ezek. 39:25-29, Luke 21:24b, and Rom. 11:7-32all come together like hand and glove. The (millennial) gap between Ezek. 39: 21-24 and 39:25-29 is the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24b), and the salvation of “all Israel” (Rom. 11:26) occurs when the “fullness of the Gentiles [corresponding to the end of Luke’s “times of the Gentiles”] comes in” (Rom.11:25)! These all correspond to the “times of restoration” (Acts 3:21). It could not be any clearer.
Thus, the “last days” of Ezekiel 38:16 is the last days of the millennium, not the “last days” of the Old Covenant in the first century.
Mr. Preston will not address this dilemma, though, because it destroys in one stroke everything he has worked to justify and vindicate over the course of many years. He is too invested in his faulty and heterodox paradigm to change now! He has a reputation to preserve and defend (including several published books)!
We have gone to painstaking lengths to show the millennium began in 70 and is ongoing. It is as clear as the sun on a cloudless day, but Preston will not come to terms with the obvious. He hinges virtually his entire second rebuttal on Deut. 30:10:
10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
The problem here is Preston hangs his hat on an invisible hook. Given the irrefutable evidence I have offered demonstrating the millennium is a present reality that began in AD 70, my point in using Deut. 30:1-5 was to illustrate a simple principle carried over by Ezekiel into the millennial age: that Israel’s regathering is predicated on repentance, conversion, and obedience. Ezekiel is not arguing for a millennial reconstitution of the Mosaic Law under a future Jewish state. He is simply applying the spiritual principle laid out in Deut. 30 to the effect that the Jews must have a change of heart as a precondition for being readmitted to the land of their fathers.
Note Preston spends about 90% of his time unpacking the “fatal” implications of my reference to Deut. 30:1-5,when there is a much simpler explanation for it.
I made two points very clear to him:
1. All O.T. prophecy concerning Israel and the Jewish people relative to their status under the Old Covenant was fulfilled by AD 70 (Dan. 9:24-27)
2. The future conversion of the Jewish people is a re-grafting into the single olive tree of St. Paul (Rom. 11:16-24).
“Fatal” would be an apropos description of Preston’s view, not mine. Preston labors tirelessly to show my affirmative on the Jews’ future conversion requires the idea that there are Mosaic “jots and tittles” (cf. Matt. 5:18) left unfulfilled. He has a very strict (unforgiving really) dichotomy he imposes on the Bible between the ages of the Old and New covenants which Paul simply is not working with. He thinks there is nothing that is part of the O.T. that can legitimately be carried over into the New Covenant This is totally alien to Paul’s thinking on the Jews. Paul’s olive tree in Rom. 11:16-24 spans both covenants. It is a single tree/covenant that runs parallel to the peculiarities and time-restricted aspects of the Mosaic Law. Preston is desperate.
Note also that this strict dichotomy Preston forces onto the Holy Scriptures is the same hermeneutic used by dispensational, pre-millennial rapturists. There is no difference whatsoever between the two schools of thought: full preterism and dispensationalism. Both camps impose artificial hermeneutical strictures on the Bible that they need in order to justify their respective heresies. LOL!!!)
Again, the entire scope of Preston’s second”rebuttal” hinges on a hermeneutic at odds with Paul’s olive tree,and as a result he falters right out of the gate.
Concerning the future of the Jews:
1. Full Preterists – Replacement Theology.
Description: The Jewish people (which they somehow argue is synonymous with the Old Covenant) are replaced by the Church. Notice the dichotomy they insert here between the Jews (as such) and the Church (as such). It is no wonder full preterism is fighting an internal war between anti- and non-anti “semitic” (Palestinians are semitic, too) influences!
2. Dispensationalism – Two Parallel Covenants:
Description: The Old Covenant is still in effect, and the Jews will reestablish it during a (chiliastic) millennial reign when Christ floats down to Jerusalem to oversee the reinstitution of the sacrifices and Levitical system. This is the same dichotomy from a different angle. Both schools of thought treat the Jewish people as though their collective, national existence were forever alien to the New Israel (Church). This is simply foolish and completely illogical.
So far, Preston’s “arguments” have been totally irrelevant to the theology I am defending.
Preston also employs Isaiah 27:1/Rom. 16:20 against me in order to try to establish the idea the millennium ended when a”remnant” of Jews would be saved (27:13). But given the foregoing, this just proves my point: that the beginning of the millennium occurred when the remnant came in. The “crushing” of Satan which would occur”shortly” (Rom. 16:20), and the “destruction” of the “fleeing dragon serpent” in Isaiah 27:1 are not references to Satan’s final annihilation–rather it is a reference to his “binding” in the”abyss” (Rev. 20:1-3). During the millennium, Satan is incognito. He has disappeared from the scene altogether for the “times of restoration” (Acts 3:21) and “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24)–i.e., for the entirety of the Church age during the millennium. The saints rule. The martyrs reign. The devil is no longer “god” over the material world as he was from the fall and during the whole of the Old Covenant period.
In conjunction with this, it is absolutely essential to note that Daniel 12, far from belonging to full preterists, completely refutes them. Let the reader follow this train of thought carefully:
That Daniel is combining the fulfillment of the first and second resurrections–which John divides in time by the millennium (cf. Rev.20:5a)–as part of his exposition of the Parousia as I explained before is manifest by the following observation:
Whether one wants to argue for a 30 AD or 70 AD start to the millennium, it does not change the fact that the righteous exclusively take part in the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20: 4-6). The wicked are not involved at all! The “rest of the dead” (the wicked) did not live again until the millennium was over (Rev. 20:5a).
So whether the “first resurrection” occurred in 30 or 70–either way the wicked are not featured here! So the only way to explain their appearance together with the righteous at the resurrection in Dan. 12:2 during Daniel’s exposition of the 70 AD context for the Parousia is to note that regardless of when in history the Parousia is unveiled–either in 70 AD (Dan. 9:24-27;12:1-3, 11-13), or after the millennium (Rev. 20:11)–the righteous and wicked are found at the Parousia together when the judgment and eternal status of all men has been finalized at the end of time.
If Mr. Preston wants to claim the millennium (and thus “first resurrection”) happened in 30 AD, he will have to tell us what the first death is. If the first resurrection overturns the first death for believers, then what is the first death for those who are perishing after death? That did not happen at Preston’s “second death” (which Mr. Preston claims occurred in 70 AD)!
Again, we really must force Preston to come to terms with Rev. 19:11-20:4. This whole text is crucial for full preterists. Their hermeneutic hinges on 20:1-4 being a recapitulation to AD 30. But how can that be when 19:11-21 was fulfilled in 70? How can that be when Rev. 19:19-20 shows the beast and false prophet being cast into the lake of fire in AD 70? It is THEY who “deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image” (19: 20). And it is THEY the martyrs had resisted when they came through the tribulation and entered their millennial rest:
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Revelation 19:11-20:4 is a unit. It cannot be divided.
Instead of addressing this irrefutable piece of evidence for a 70 AD start to the millennium (as though there were not enough evidence for this shown already), Preston engages in diversionary tactics by “rebutting” my (alleged) claim that only those who were persecuted under Titus would reign with Christ for a thousand years. What? Of course the blood of all the martyrs from that of righteous Able to the blood of Zechariah would come upon the Jews in AD 70 (Matt. 23:34-35)!
The point is that the martyrial reign of those from Abel to Zechariah to the saints who came through the tribulation in Rev. 19:11-20:4 begin to possess the kingdom THEN (in AD 70). This is the start to the millennial reign.
Preston skirts, diverts, evades, ignores, and does all of this while accusing me of it. Will Mr. Preston change his spots and start handling the texts honestly (if he chooses to handle them at all)? Will his next “rebuttal” feature an honest attempt to deal with the substance of our objections to his system of eschatological thought?
We will have to wait and see if his next installment produces what we are looking for. Let’s hope Preston’s next response is an improvement on his previous ones.