Responding to the Critics

Guest Article: A Triple Response to Thomas Ice on Zechariah 12-14

Thomas Ice, who seems to no longer be interested or willing to engage in formal public debate, nonetheless likes to shoot missles at the preterist view from behind his keyboard. Myself and others have shown the fallacy of Ice’s desperate arguments. Below is another example of a fine response and refutation of Thomas Ice’s illogical and unscriptural theology. I am always happy to share thoughts from my friend Frank Speer, and you will enjoy the article.

Don K. Preston

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A TRIPLE RESPONSE TO THOMAS ICE’S…

“Preterism and Zechariah 12-14”

By Frank Speer

http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/biblical prophecy/BP0700W5.htm

Mr. Ice writes…

“During a time of questions I asked Mr. Gentry about Zechariah 12—14 and preterism. I first asked him if he believed, as a preterist, that Zechariah 12—14 was a parallel passage to the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24—25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36). He answered, “Yes.” I agree! I then noted that Zechariah speaks of “all the peoples” (12:2), “all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Jerusalem)” (12:3), and “I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” (14:2). “This does not sound like the Romans in AD 70,” I said.”

Mr. Frank Speer (WWW.lightshine.me) writes…

“The first thing I must say is that one passage of Scripture does not FULL Preterism make! A fulfilled view of eschatology is not singularly dependent upon Zech 12-14. Mr. Ice writes as if Preterism stands or falls upon Zech. 12-14. It does not, as there is a mass of scriptural evidence on the side of fulfilled eschatology.

Next, Mr. Ice does not deal with a single argument from a single FULL Preterist!! There is so much FP material available concerning Zech 12-14 and Mr. Ice cites NOT ONE WORD OF IT. He quotes only 2 men – both PARTIAL Preterists, who could not answer to Mr. Ice’s satisfaction…not very FAIR AND BALANCED.

Next, notice that Mr. Ice does not deal with A SHRED of the heap of difficulties that arise from taking a yet future approach to Zechariah chapters 12-14.

For one – if Zech 12-14 is all still to take place in the future – how does Mr. Ice justify the modern use of ancient warfare?

• The battle described in these chapters is waged on HORSEBACK (12:4) with SWORDS! (13:7) Is that how the COMING 21st century Great Tribulation is to be fought?

• Modern Jews do not and will not live in “TENTS” (12:7)

• Modern Jewish people CAN NO LONGER BE divided by their 12 ancestral tribes (12:6-14) since those tribes have long since been genetically diluted – the Jewish peoples of today simply CANNOT be equated with ancient, biblical Israel.

• Zech 13:1 is clearly speaking of “The Cross of Christ” (i.e. a first century event). Has there been no Messianic “fountain” of forgiveness available to the Jewish people since the cross?? Have they been made to wait all this time and then some (until Messiah’s STILL FUTURE RETURN) to have access to divine forgiveness of sin?

• The modern Jews do not and will not worship then “many Idols” mentioned in (13:2) – today’s Jews are mostly atheistic.

• There are no modern Jewish “prophets” (13:2) – nor will there be

• (13:4) – Will false Hebrew prophets wearing “HAIRY ROBES” soon appear in modern day Palestine in order to deceive a mass of Jewish peoples!!

• “Unclean spirits” were evicted from Palestine by Jesus in the first century (Mt 12:28ff, 8:29 – “before the time?” = i.e. before the time of the end of apostate Judaism 70 AD)

• (13:3) – The modern Jewish peoples do not obey these ancient “Mosaic Laws” (parents killing children for false predictions etc)!

• (13:4-5) – Will “SLAVERY & AGRICULTURE” once again become COMMON PRACTICE for 21st century Palestinians and ALL NATIONS OF THR WORLD??

• Is the modern Palestinian Economy (as well as “ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD” – 14:14) based on GOLD, SILVER, FABRIC, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, DONKEYS AND CATTLE?? (14:14-15)

• Notice that the “ALL NATIONS” of 14:1 are QUALIFIED later by the “all the SURROUNDING nations” in 14:14. There is no mention here of ALL THE MODERN NATIONS OF THE 21st CENTURY WORLD! These ancient “Middle Eastern nations” surrounding ancient Israel’s were the same constant thorns Israel dealt with thru their entire history!!

• (14:16) Will the modern Jewish peoples, under Messiah, be keeping all of the Old Covenant “feasts” when the N.T. writers (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) clearly state that such things were merely TEMPOR
ARY TYPOLOGICAL TUTORS intended to lead Israel to Christ??

Will Christ then, in the future, lead the “modern Jewish Christians” and ALL THE NATIONS OF THE MODERN WORLD backwards – to those ancient and “rudimentary things” ( Gk: “stoicheion” – Col 2:8, 20; 2 Pet 3:10) that only served to point to Messiah, the cross, the resurrection etc.???

The N.T. writers tell us that a RETURN to the Mosaic Economy (the OLD covenant system) would be to apostatize from Christ and to INVALIDATE the cross of Christ!!

• (14:16) – Will “all the nations” [of the entire modern world] soon be “GOING UP” to the modern city of Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Jewish feasts?? How will we all FIT??

Will ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD soon, SUDDENLY become AGRARIAN BASED in order to begin THE ANNUAL PLANTING AND HARVESTING CYCLE necessary to keep the feast of booths (tabernacles) yearly? Because, if we do not – God is going to bring PLAGUES upon all those wicked nations and destroy their crops by withholding rain on their crops. (14:17-20)

• Is modern Israel under Messiah going to return to bloody ANIMAL SACRIFICES (the NT says that would be nothing short of “blasphemous” – (study the Book of Hebrews). Will they also be cooking these sacrificial animals in ancient cauldrons with sacred inscriptions carved into these utensils (14:21) See the Heb word – “ciyr” = “cooking cauldron”????? NO MODERN STOVES OR OVENS??

• Will the “CANAANITE” peoples (an extinct race of ancient Arabs) somehow re-appear in this 21st century world and soon be meeting side by side with modern Jews in a future rebuilt temple in Jerusalem – only to be ‘kicked-out’ when Jesus returns (14:21)????

So…what does Mr. Ice SAY to ALL OF THIS in his article??

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Like the Book of Revelation – the context here in Zech 12-14 absolutely screams “ANCIENT MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURE” that it hardly seems worthy of debate.”

Mr. Ice Continues…

“Further, Zechariah goes on to say, “In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (12:8) and “Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle” (14:3). I concluded that this does not fit with what happened to Jerusalem in AD 70 when the Romans conquered Israel.

Finally, it says that the Lord will rescue Israel, in that day (14:3), whereas, in AD 70 the Lord judged Israel as Luke 21:20-24 notes. “How does a preterist say that Zechariah speaks of AD 70 when the Lord is rescuing His people in that passage?

Now keep in mind that Dr. Gentry is one of foremost preterist spokesmen on the planet. His answer, in essence, was to say that the Church had replaced Israel. This is similar to what the late David Chilton had said in his preterist commentary on Revelation:

Another passage parallel to this is Zechariah 12, which pictures Jerusalem as a cup of drunkenness to the nations (Zech. 12:2; cf. Rev. 14:8–9), a laver of fire that will consume the heathen (Zech. 12:6; Rev. 15:2). The irony of Revelation, as we have seen repeatedly, is that first-century Israel herself has taken the place of the heathen nations in the prophecies: She is consumed in the fiery laver—the Lake of Fire—while the Church, having passed through the holocaust, inherits salvation. 1

A preterist cannot give a textual interpretation of Zechariah 12—14 because they believe it is to be equated with God’s judgment at the hands of the Romans in AD 70 upon Israel—error number one. Greg Beale notes that, “Zechariah 12 does not prophesy Israel’s judgment but Israel’s redemption.”2 Zechariah 12—14 clearly speaks of a time when Israel is rescued by the Lord from an attack by “all the nations of the earth,” not just the Romans—error number two.

In this context, Israel must refer to Israel. Since that it true, then the event of Zechariah 12—14 has not yet happened in history. This means that it is a future event. Dr. Beale makes a comment about Daniel that applies to Zechariah as well:

…the burden of proof rests on these preterists to provide an exegetical rationale both for exchanging a pagan nation with Israel as the primary object of Daniel’s final judgment and for limiting the last judgment mainly to Israel and not applying it universally.3

Preterists and Futurists, like myself, both agree that Luke 21:20-24 prophesied the AD 70 Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Using Luke 21:20-24 as a baseline, notice the contrasts between it and Zechariah 12—14, as observed by Randall Price.

Because of the differences between the above contrasted passages, it is impossible to harmonize with events that have already taken place. Impossible as long as two plus two continues to equal four. But some of the best minds that preterism has to offer attempt to place round pegs into square holes.

Conclusion

The only way that preterists can attempt to deal with Zechariah 12—14 is not by taking the words and phrases of the passage in its literary context, but by simply declaring that the church replaces Israel.

The text of Scri
pture is supposed to be the basis upon which we develop sound theology. Instead, preterists have to impose their false theological beliefs upon God’s inerrant Word. Walt Kaiser is on the mark in commenting on this passage the following:

In no other chapter of the Bible is the interpretation of the name “Israel” more important than in Zechariah 14. To say that “Israel” means the “Church,” as many have done, would lead to a most confusing picture in this chapter and in the end of chapter 13. For example, 13:8-9 affirms that two-thirds of the land (Israel) will die, but few would be willing to say two-thirds of the Church will be slaughtered in the final day. Clearly “Israel” refers to that geo-political unit known today as the nation of Israel.7

God’s Word wants His Church to be forward looking to a secure and certain future of victory. Such a perspective enables a believer to live faithfully in the present because of the future. The past is equally important. However, a false view of the past will rob a believer in the present of the hope needed to live boldly for our Lord. Maranatha!

A Response from Mr. Ed Stevens…

Mr. Ice is playing the old “straw-man” tactic. Notice he does not quote the REAL “preterists” (i.e., Full Prets). He only picks on the partial (inconsistent) preterists who have no consistent answer. Several presuppositional problems and oversights here, on Tommy Ice’s part:

He assumes that ALL preterists (partials and fulls) are guilty of “replacement” theology (when in fact, almost all full preterists, as far as I know, are teaching “remnant” theology). We believe that God did not cut off ALL Israel from his Olive Tree. There was a righteous remnant left who did accept Jesus as their Messiah. Into that righteous remnant of True Israel (the Spiritual Israel) the Gentiles were grafted, in order to make the Jews jealous and entice them to be grafted back into their native Olive Tree and save some of them. Together with the engrafted Gentiles and the re-grafted Israelites, this righteous remnant became the ALL ISRAEL that inherited the promises.

He assumes that the Jerusalem mentioned in Zech is the physical city of Jerusalem (when in fact it is talking about the New Heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in Hebrew 12 and Revelation21-22). 

He assumes that the references to “Israel” in Zech are the physical nation of Israel (when in fact it is talking about the New True Spiritual Israel that Paul refers to in the book of

Romans 2, and chs. 9-11, as well as the allegory in Gal. 4).

He forgets about the Neronic persecution (AD 64) when both Rome and the Jews combined forces against the Church to destroy her and wipe her off the map. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that unless those days had been cut short, they would have succeeded. Sure enough, two years later (AD 66) the Jewish War broke out and Rome turned its attention away from hunting Christians, to attacking the Jews.

He forgets that by the first century the Hebrew people had become a melting pot of ALL NATIONS, especially in the Diaspora (Persia, India, Africa, Turkey, Greece, Rome, France, Spain, Britain, Germania, Scythia, Armenia, etc.). Just look at the description in Acts 2 of all the nations where “Jews” came from. There were Jewish communities scattered all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. When the Neronic persecution broke out, every Jewish community in the Diaspora (among “all the nations”) took advantage of the opportunity to wipe out the Christians, and used Roman authority to do it. They  were just like the wicked Haman of the book of Esther who plotted to wipe out all the Jews. That was when “all the nations” (Diaspora Jews) came against God’s people (the Christians, the New Jerusalem, the true Spiritual Israel) in the Neronic persecution (AD 64). But God turned the tables on the Hamanites. Less than two years later (AD 66) the Jews revolted, and God brought the Romans to wipe out “all the nations” (Diaspora Jews) who had come up against His true spiritual people.

Because Tommy Ice does not know his history nor understand prophetic language, he does not realize that “all the nations” which came against the True Israel and the New Jerusalem, really were destroyed by the Romans. In AD 66, when the war broke out, Diaspora Jews were forced to flee from “all the nations” where they had been scattered and take refuge in Israel. When they got back to the land, they joined the revolt and ended up being killed and enslaved afterwards.

Lastly, Tommy does not realize that God’s true people (the New Jerusalem, the True Spiritual Israel) actually WERE saved in that day when “all the nations” that came against them were destroyed. The small band of elect saints (the True Israel) that survived the Neronic persecution (“all the nations” who came against them) were caught up to be with Christ just as the Zealots were beginning the revolt (Pentecost, AD 66). This was when the Priests doing the evening offering in the Temple heard a large crowd of people (in the unseen realm) departing saying, “Let us go from this place.” [Josephus Wars 6:297-300 (6.5.3)]

Also, see my book, “First Century Events”, for much more documentation on all of this.

*For Mr. Don Preston’s insights follow the links below…

http://www.eschatology.org/all-articles-articles-211/113-old-testament-prophecies/953-zechariah-14-fulfilled-or-future

http://www.eschatology.org/all-articles-articles-211/91-study-by-passage/809-was-zechariah-123-fulfilled-in-ad-70

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