Destruction of Creation and the End of the Millennium- #5;
Matthew 24, The Coming of the Son of Man and the Millennium
Let me give here the last paragraph from our last installment in this series:
Creation is destroyed at the end of the Millennium. That means that Matthew 24:29f, Revelation 6, (Revelation 11), Revelation 16 describe the Lord’s coming at the end of the Millennium. That is, unless one wishes to posit the multiple destructions of literal heaven and earth at the coming of Christ. But, does each of these text predict a different coming of the Son of Man, to destroy creation and vindicate the martyrs? Do we have four, three, two or one comings of the Son of Man to vindicate the martyrs? Jesus is clear in Matthew 23 that he only anticipated one such vindication, one such avenging of all of the blood shed on the earth, from Creation onward. We need to look closer at this motif of the Coming of the Son of Man.
In Matthew 24 and parallels, we have the Son of Man coming on the clouds when creation is destroyed. There is virtually unanimous consent among the commentators that Jesus was echoing Daniel 7:13-14 here. Now, it is commonly claimed that Daniel 7:13-14 refers to Jesus’ ascension to the Father in Acts 1. But, that will not stand close scrutiny.
In Daniel 7:9f we find the appearance of the little horn who persecutes the saints. The one like the Son of Man comes before the Ancient of Days and the judgment is set, the little horn is judged and destroyed by the Son of Man who receives the kingdom, the eternal, indestructible kingdom. The interpretation of the vision confirms that it is the Son of Man, as the Ancient of Days, who comes in judgment to destroy the little horn and enter into the glory of his eternal reign (v. 21f).
In recent times, some basically brand new ideas about the “coming of the Son of Man” have arisen. For instance, Keith Mathison, an outspoken critic of Covenant Eschatology – but a man that to this point adamantly refuses to openly debate the issues– has presented some novel, and self-defeating, views of the Son of Man. He says the following, commenting on Daniel 7:21 and Matthew 16:27f:
“Much confusion has been caused by the assumption that this text is a prophecy of the second coming of Christ.” …(p. 365, on Matthew 16:27-28) – “It is the assumption that the words ‘the coming of the Son of Man’ must mean the Second Coming that has caused much of the confusion. Once we realize that Jesus is simply using a phrase from Daniel 7 to allude to the whole prophecy, texts such as Matthew 3 / 16:28 are much more readily understood. Jesus was not predicting his second coming would occur in the lifetime of some of his hearers. He wasn’t speaking of the second coming at all. He was referring to the fulfillment of Daniel , his reception of the kingdom from the Father, and this was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers (Matthew 28:18).” (Keith Mathison, Age to Age, The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology, Phillipsburg, NJ; P & R Publishing 2009), 269, 365).
About the only things that are true in this quote is Mathison’s admission that the Coming of the Son of Man was to occur in the first century. Notice that Mathison realizes that Daniel 7 undeniably posits the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7 as a judgment context (2009, 365)! That patently cannot be the Ascension of Jesus or the Day of Pentecost. Interestingly, Sam Frost, former preterist, claims that Daniel 7 was fulfilled in Jesus’ ascension – completely overlooking (actually denying) that Daniel 7 is a judgment scene, as Mathison correctly observes.
But, notice how Mathison has entrapped himself, by positing the references to the Coming of the Son of Man as a first century event. When we look at the various texts that use the terminology of the Coming of the Son of Man, Mathison’s problems become glaringly clear: (I will omit Matthew 10:23 except to say that Mathison is clear that it is not a “Second Coming” text in his paradigm, but was fulfilled in the first century (2009, 358).
✷ Matthew 13:37-41
“He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness”
So, the Son of Man would come at the end of the age for the harvest. Now, since, per Mathison, all references to the Coming of the Son of Man are NOT predictions of his Second Coming, that means that he has surrendered Matthew 13 to a first century fulfillment! The harvest and the end of the age was in the first century! Biblically, this means that the end of the millennium was in the first century, precisely as we have been arguing in this series.
What is so glaring is that Mathison virtually ignores Jesus’ discussion of “the Coming of the Son of Man” at the harvest and the end of the age. He glosses over that discussion to simply say: “At the end of the age, the problem of sin and evil will be resolved once and for all” (2009, 362). For Mathison, the “final resolution of the problem of sin” is at the end of the current Christian age and the end of time. But, based on his own hermeneutic that references to the Coming of the Son of Man do not mention or include the final coming of Christ, this is highly problematic. It is fatal to Mathison’s view. He has entrapped himself.
✷ Matthew 16:27-28:
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Here, Jesus predicted his coming in the judgment, reward and kingdom, in the lifetime of that first century audience. Mathison emphatically posits Matthew 16:27-28 and parallels as first century fulfillment, (2009, 365) thus, the judgment, reward and kingdom arrived in the first century.
✷ Matthew 19:28:
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus posited the “regeneration” fully arriving at the coming of the Son of Man to sit on his throne (see the next reference). What is so significant about this is that the “regeneration” (from παλινγενεσίᾳ palengenesia, Strong’s #3824) is the same thing, the absolute same thing as the “restoration of all things” of Acts 3:21f! All commentators and the lexicons agree on this. (“Restoration” is from ἀποκαταστάσεως, apokatastaseos, Strong’s #605). Mathison says that Acts 3 predicts the Second Coming (2009, 473) but, because of his hermeneutic on the term “Son of Man” applying strictly to the first century coming of Christ, that means – it demands – that Acts 3 likewise refers to Christ’s first century coming! Why is this important? It means that the end of the millennium was in the first century!
Here is what this means:
Matthew 19:28, since it uses the idea and term of the Coming of the Son of Man, must refer to a first century coming of Christ (Mathison)
The coming of Matthew 19:28 would be at the time of the regeneration.
The regeneration is the time of the restoration of all things of Acts 3:21-24.
Thus, the coming of Christ of Matthew 19:28 is the coming of Christ of Acts 3:21-24.
The coming of Christ of Acts 3:21-24 is the end of the Millennium coming of Christ– Mathison (2009, 473).
But, the coming of Christ of Acts 3:21-24, being the same coming of Christ of Matthew 19:28 refers to the first century coming of Christ, the coming of the Son of Man.
Therefore, the end of the Millennium occurred in the first century coming of Christ.
✷ Matthew 24:27-31:
“For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Now, Mathison, as most Postmillennialists, has no problem positing these texts as Christ’s coming in AD 70 (2009, 378). But, this being true, it means that Matthew 24 is about the arrival of the “regeneration.” But, if it is the time of the regeneration, then it is the time of the restoration – the end of the Millennium.
Notice that in Matthew 24:29f as noted above, we have the passing of Creation. We have the cosmic “deconstruction” language. But again, since “Creation” is destroyed at this coming of the Lord, and since this coming of the Lord was in AD 70, it means that “heaven and earth” passed in AD 70. And let us not forget that in Revelation 20, heaven and earth passes at the end of the Millennium.
✷ Matthew 25:31-33
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”
Mathison tells us that: “The ‘coming of the Son of Man’ then is simply another way of saying ‘the coming of the kingdom of God.’ It is the assumption that the words ‘coming of the Son of Man’ must mean second coming that has caused much confusion. One we realize that Jesus is simply using a phrase from Daniel 7 to allude to the whole prophecy, texts such as Matthew 16:27-28 are much more easily understood. Jesus was not predicting his second coming would occur within the lifetime of some of his hearers. He was not speaking of his second coming at all. He was referring to the fulfillment of Daniel 7, his reception of the kingdom from the Father, and this was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers (Matthew 28:18)” (2009, 365).
To say that this quote is self-defeating is a major understatement!
Matthew 25:31 is the Coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 25:31f is Jesus entering into his kingdom.
But, the coming of the Son of Man to enter his kingdom is the fulfillment of Daniel 7 “and was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers” (Mathison, 366).
Therefore, Matthew 25:31f “was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers.”
Once again, why is this important? It is important because the judgment of Matthew 25 is patently the judgment of Revelation 20, the end of the Millennium judgment when “earth and heaven” would flee away and not be found. In both Matthew 25 and Revelation we have the nations of the world gathered for the judgment to be rewarded. Will Mathison now claim that this happened twice, once in AD 70 and another yet to occur at the so-called, imaginary end of time?
Keep in mind that if / since the judgment of Matthew 25:31f is the same judgment as Revelation 20, then the following must be true:
The judgment of Matthew 25 is the judgment of Revelation 20.
The judgment of Revelation 20 is the judgment at the time of the resurrection.
But, the judgment of Matthew 25 is the coming of the Son of Man and “was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers.”
Therefore, the judgment of Revelation 20, the judgment at the time of the resurrection, was fulfilled within the lifetime of some of his hearers.
Something to be noted here, in light of Mathison’s contention that the Coming of the Son of Man is referent to Christ coming into his kingdom, is that in Revelation 11, at the destruction of the city, “Where the Lord was slain” “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our God and of His Christ” (11:15f). Thus, that means that Revelation 11 is about the first century judgment coming of Christ, according to Mathison’s own claims.
It is to be noted that Mathison has vacillated, much like Sam Frost has, on Revelation 11.
In his Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Victory, (New Jersey; P & R Publishing, 1999), 151+), Mathison posits Revelation 11 as fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem. See also his Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the House of God? (Phillipsburg, NJ; P & R Publishing, 1995), 132 – “The kingdoms of this world have already become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15f).” However in that same work, he then turned around and says that, the judgment of Revelation 11 is the final judgment! (1995,131)! In similar vacillation, Sam Frost has formerly accepted that Revelation 11 was fulfilled in AD 70, but now, he inserts a so far 2000 year gap between the judgment of Jerusalem in v. 11f and verses 15f!
Actually, Frost is now vacillating on the identity of the city “Where the Lord was slain.” After affirming for years that this could not be any city other than Jerusalem, Frost recently said that he was reconsidering that view, although he refused to reveal who he now identifies as Babylon. I have been predicting for a good long time that Frost would jettison his former view of Babylon due to the fact that the resurrection is so clearly tied to the fall of Babylon / Jerusalem. To admit that Babylon was Jerusalem is to admit that the resurrection is past, and Frost is adamantly opposed to that view, despite the clarity and abundance of evidence.
It needs to be kept in mind that Revelation 11 and Revelation 20 are directly parallel and speak of the same time and event. There are not two resurrections, not two judgments. Beale makes the following observation:
“Our overall analysis of 11:15–19 argues that the hymn speaks of the consummated form of the kingdom. The striking parallel noted below between 11:18a and 20:12–13 suggests strongly that this is the case. The consummate nature of the kingdom is also indicated by the greater emphasis on God’s reign rather than Christ’s. This suggests a parallel with 1 Cor. 15:25–28, where God’s rule is emphasized over Christ’s because the consummation of Christ’s rule has been reached. ( Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 614). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press- from the Logos Bible program).
So, Revelation 11 is Christ receiving the kingdom. Revelation 20 is Christ receiving the kingdom (the New Creation) thus, since the coming of Christ to receive his kingdom is referent to the first century judgment coming of Christ as the Son of Man, that means that Revelation 11, and Revelation 20, must speak of the first century judgment coming of Christ, and that was in AD 70. (See Luke 21:28-32).
Sam Frost, before his departure from the truth, had this to say about the parallels between Revelation 11 and chapter 20:
“Further, they exclaim, “The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time for judging the dead and rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints” (11:18). Now, we have seen that 22:12 is entirely something John saw as “near,” and Gentry concurs. We have also seen that the “rewarding” was near as well. Is this “rewarding” different from the “rewarding” and “coming” in 11:18, which is connected to the destruction of Jerusalem? Both David Chilton and Jay E. Adams see Revelation 11 as fulfilled. Chilton, before he became a preterist, tried to dodge this by dividing this “judgment / rewarding / resurrection” from the “final judgement at the Last Day” of the whole world! Thank God, before he passed away, he saw that such a division is a desperate attempt to separate what cannot be separated.
The basic reason why I call myself a “consistent” preterist is because I don’t divide and piecemeal the Bible together to make it fit with the erroneous historical creeds on this point. I am not obligated to the creeds, but to Scripture. Creeds are fine, and they are logically necessary, but they “may err” as the Westminster Confession of Faith states (33:3). Some, however, have settled for man’s word over God’s, and it is this that I contend for.
It is obvious that the “time for judging the dead” is the same episode seen in Revelation 20:11-15. It is the same subject involved in I Corinthians 15. There, Paul wrote, “for the trumpet shall sound and the dead will be raised imperishable” (15:52). Also, he calls this the “last trumpet” (15:52). In John’s vision, the trumpet is the seventh and last trumpet. One does not need to be a theologian and rocket scientist to see that they are talking about the exact same thing, about the exact same anticipated judgment to come upon Jerusalem ‘in this generation.’ The harmony is too simple to be missed.” (http://www.restorationgj.com/id45.htm). I copied and pasted this quote from the website when it was still active. However, that site is no longer active. Frost has evidently decided to delete it, lest readers be convinced by the soundness of his arguments).
All I can say to Frost’s comments is Amen and Amen! Unfortunately, Frost now claims that the judgment of the Great City has no connection with the resurrection and judgment in verses 15f. He offers no proof for this other than his a priori view of the resurrection, but, to claim something is not to prove anything.
There is literally not a syllable, not a hint of a clue of a suggestion of a gap between the judgment of the Great City and the Judgment of v. 15f. That means that the resurrection of Revelation 11:15f at the Judgment of the City, is the resurrection of Revelation 20 which is at the end of the Millennium. But, since the judgment of Revelation 11 is at the judgment of the Great City, where the Lord was slain, this means that the judgment and the resurrection of Revelation 11:15f occurred at the judgment of the Great City “where the Lord was slain” – at the end of the Millennium. And that in turn means that “earth and heaven” – “heaven and earth” passed away at the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70.
This is, of course, confirmed by the fact that the judgment and resurrection of Revelation 11 is the time of the vindication of the martyrs, just as Revelation 20:10f is the vindication of the martyrs. Thus, unless one can totally divorce, definitively, positively, irrefutably prove that this vindication of the martyrs in Revelation 11 and 20 (which John was told was “at hand” and coming “quickly”) from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23, then we have prima facie proof that the end of the Millennium, the passing of “heaven and earth” was in AD 70.
So, what we have seen from Revelation 6, (11), 16 and 20 is a harmonious, consistent narrative concerning the passing of Creation. It is not many stories. It is not many judgments. It is not many Days of the Lord’s Wrath. It is not many different times for the vindication of the martyrs. It is not many resurrections.
We have seen that there was to be one Great Day of the Lord’s wrath. In an upcoming article on “The Day of Wrath and the end of the Millennium” I will develop this more in-depth.
That Day of Wrath was the Lord’s coming in judgment of the Great Harlot City, the persecutor of the prophets, of Jesus and of Jesus’ apostles and prophets.
We have seen that narrative repeated throughout the book until the climactic Great White Throne Judgment, the final scene of what had already been depicted repeatedly up to that point.
We have seen that Revelation 6, Revelation 16 and Revelation 20 specifically posit the passing of the heaven and earth at the judgment of Babylon, the Great City “Where the Lord was slain.”
We have demonstrated that Babylon, the Great Harlot City, the great persecutor, was none other than Old Covenant Jerusalem.
We have seen that Jesus (not to mention Paul and the other NT writers who concur) undeniably posited the vindication of all of the blood, of all the righteous, all the way back to creation, in the AD 70 judgment of Jerusalem.
We have examined the inconsistency of commentators, such as Keith Mathison and Sam Frost in regard to the coming of the Son of Man, the judgment and the Millennium. We have exposed their fatal self-contradictions.
I believe it can be safely said that we have proven -with careful exegesis – that heaven and earth passed away– the end of the Millennium arrived – in the judgment of the Great Harlot City – Jerusalem, in AD 70.