Olan Hicks — Second affirmative
Don, you might want to notice that we are in the second half of this debate. You are not in the affirmative now, I am. Although I will reply again to some arguments you are repeating, which we have already discussed, in this part of the debate we are looking at the scriptures, not your theory. We would like to invite you to join us in that discussion. I will not use my affirmative space to rehash your arguments. We have discussed those. Our debate is about what did or did not happen in AD70 and particularly did the second coming of Christ occur then? Our information source on that and what its implications are is the Bible, as it is written, not as Don interprets it.
Fortunately that standard, the Bible, gives us a clear description of both events, the second coming of Christ and the AD70 military event at Jerusalem. FACT: They are totally different from each other. Don contends that Christ’s second coming, along with the resurrection, the judgment, and the end of the world, occurred in AD70. I say it did not. He had four affirmative essays and I had four negative essays in which we examined that theory. Now it is time to examine my viewpoint. Don offered an endless array of theories about interpretations of prophecies, along with constant complaints about the procedure I chose with which to answer him. I cited what is wrong with his arguments, that they consist of theories and those theories contradict explicit Bible statements. I referred to several of the misused passages specifically and showed what was wrong with his application, but I refused to get bogged down in trying to analyze all of the OT prophecies. One reply covers that entire theory. It is this: your conclusions contradict the inspired understanding of Jesus and the apostles. In their descriptions the AD70 event and Christ’s second coming are two different occurrences. Regardless of how “logical” you may think they are, your conclusions contradict Jesus and the apostles. That shows you are wrong,
Before I proceed further with my affirmative material I will respond to some of his early misrepresentations. He accuses me of “pontification.” Do you know what it is he refers to in that way? In my first affirmative I simply stated each point that is in question and gave the Bible passages that specifically answer that question. That is what he calls “pontification.” I believe that most of our readers want that kind of answers to the questions we are discussing, clear Bible statements. But Don wants to direct my affirmatives back to his arguments and have us go over those again and again and get bogged down in theoretical disputes. I believe our readers trust the inspired understanding of NT writers more than they trust the interpretations of an uninspired man, especially when the interpretive procedure he is using is the very one that has turned out to be wrong so many times.
Then he speaks of not answering questions. Well, Don doesn’t. He is quite demanding that his questions be answered, He says, “Don’t fail to answer this!” “Be sure to answer!” etc. but he doesn’t follow the same rule himself. Before we began the debate we exchanged six questions each. Beyond that Don has continued in every essay to issue many additional questions, adding with each one, “Be sure to answer this!” But some significant questions I asked of him he has ignored. Here are two of them I presented: (1) Among the things you say happened in AD70, one is the destruction of Satan. Are you saying that Satan has been destroyed and is not with us today? Now Don, be sure to answer this! (2) Are you saying that in Matthew 24 the Bible says opposite things about the same event? Does it say that signs were given to alert believers to its coming and in the same chapter also say that no one can know when it is coming? Now Don, don’t fail to answer this! Let’s see if he answers.
Premillenialism? Don reads what I say with about as much accuracy as he reads the Bible. In his confusion he accuses me of embracing premillenialism because I said that in the Revelation 20 account Jesus was there before the thousand years began. I did not say His second coming had occurred. I did not even say He was on earth. I said He was there, i.e. involved in what was happening. Proof? Verse 4 says “They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Again, verse 6 says of those over which the second death has no power, “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Yes, I believe that the “thousand years reign” is a reality. But I do not believe it consists of a reign of Christ personally on the earth.
It seems Don does not understand the difference between following the Bible and editing the Bible. In his list of questions, which I have answered before, he asks me to interpret beyond what the text says. For example, he asks what other people dwelt in the presence of God but would be cast out for persecuting the true seed, specifically the Thessalonians? I replied that the Jews were only one of several categories of people who persecuted the “true seed.” The Romans, for example, did that. But Don thinks I didn’t even answer that. The reason I answered it the way I did was to illustrate a typical fallacy of AD70 advocates. They often take one instance of something occurring and try to make it fit all cases where that terminology is used. For example, there were many instances of a “symbolic coming” of Christ. Yet they want to claim one such instance as “His Second Coming.” They need to recognize there is a difference between following the Bible and leading the Bible.
I will say once more, I will not engage in bickering about theoretical interpretations. I will go with what the scriptures state. Don keeps trying to demand that I engage in that kind of speculation. In his questions he then asks me to “Specifically identify the city where the Lord was slain” in Revelation 11:8. We know from other scriptures that The Lord was slain at Jerusalem. But this text does not say so. It uses symbolic language.
Then he asks, “How could anyone, convince anyone, that the parousia and the resurrection, as you define them, was already past?” They do it by the same procedure you do, denying that Peter’s description of it is accurate.
Then he asked, “When did the Lord come in judgment of Israel– punishing them with the edge of the sword–for violation of Exodus 22:21-23, Leviticus 19-20 and Deuteronomy 27:19– as foretold in Malachi 3:1-5, 16f; 4:5-6– after John’s ministry, but before the cross?” We have no disagreement about the symbolic “coming in judgment on Israel.” Many times in the OT God punished His people with their enemies, the captivities for instance, and it happened at Jerusalem in AD70. Our disagreement is about whether that was the “second coming.”
Then he asked, “Please identify the Day of the Lord foretold in Zechariah 14:1-8”
How many times do I have to say it? The prophets foretold a time of vengeance to come upon Israel. AD70 was not the only time God allowed the Israelites to be conquered by their enemies. But it was one of the times.
For the benefit of any who may doubt that Don’s reasoning produces some really foolish stuff and inaccurate to the scriptures, I will indulge in one example from what was supposed to be his first negative but was more of an affirmative than a negative. He reversed the Biblical picture of Jesus having gone to prepare a place and coming back to take His people there to be with Him. Here is what he said about John 14. “Jesus was bringing the “prepared place” back with him to dwell with man! The coming of Christ in John 14:1-6 is the coming of the Lord in Revelation 21:1f– His coming to dwell with man. The coming of the Lord in Revelation 21:1-3 is the coming of the Temple of God out of heaven, and “the tabernacle of God is with man.” It is not the removal of man from the earth, as Olan falsely assumes. It is God coming to dwell with man.”
Can you imagine that? The foolishness here ought to be self evident. This is completely reversed to all that the Bible says about it. Jesus said He was going away to prepare a place and would come back to take His disciples to that place to be where He is. In 1 Thess. 4 Paul said we will rise to meet Him in the clouds “and so we will always be with the Lord.” The eternal city of God, described in Revelation 21, is described in detail. There will be no sin, no suffering and no death. Can anyone believe that what is described there exists anywhere in our world right now? Paul said of it “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50) But Don has the Lord bringing that city down to man in the flesh instead of taking resurrected people to that city.
Yes, John said he saw that city “coming down from God out of heaven.” But coming down how far? Coming down to an earth where the elements are melting with fervent heat? to an earth that is being burned up, along with all the works that are in it? Look at the text. It says we will rise to meet Him in the air and remain there.
The day nor the hour: Don puts forth the old argument typical of date setters, that we can know the time in the sense of the generation, without knowing the day or the hour. That is a pitiful attempt to skirt the truth. Look at verse 44, (Mat. 24) where the Lord stated His meaning as an unexpected surprise. “The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Peter and Paul both said that day will come “as a thief in the night.” (2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thess. 5:2) Jesus illustrated His point. He said that if the house holder had known when the thief was coming he would have watched and would not have allowed his house to be robbed. Unexpected surprise is the Bible idea.
The qualifications of Jesus and the apostles. Jesus and the apostles knew the writings of the prophets. We should also note that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. Therefore their view of this matter is accurate. We have seen that throughout history, when uninspired men cut in between the prophets and these inspired New Testament witnesses, Jesus and His apostles, and interpret on their own, they misunderstand and reach wrong conclusions. We have shown that in several cases. We would be wise to trust the inspired understanding on each matter as it is written in the New Testament, not putting our confidence in human theory.
In Colossians 2:8 Paul warned against “philosophy and empty deceit,” which is fashioned according to “the principles of the world and not after Christ.” At the time Paul wrote this the “philosophers” of the time were the Greeks and their reasoning system was Aristotelian “logic.” So when Paul warned them not to let anyone deceive them with “philosophy and empty deceit” this is probably the system he referred to.
Concerning the “syllogistic” process it is interesting that the Greek word for syllogism, “sunelogisanto” occurs but once in the New Testament, in Luke 20:5. There it is used of the Pharisees who used it in challenging the claim that Jesus was the Messiah. They had a “syllogism” but they were wrong. I remember that Jesus said to God, “I thank you that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so Father, for so it seemed good in your sight.”(Matthew 11:25) So, as I have throughout this debate, I will continue to take the questions involved here to the scriptures that clearly speak to those questions.
A major part of the Biblical picture to be considered on this subject is the fact that, as we mentioned, the description the Bible gives of the second coming does not match the description of what happened at Jerusalem in AD70. The Bible is our source for answers and our standard of measurement. But instead of taking what it says Don presumes to interpret some Old Testament prophecies to “decode” the Bible and produce the answer to these questions by a theoretical process, even to over rule the statements of NT writers. I believe we should simply look up the New Testament passages which speak about them. So our situation is this: His “proof” consists of inferences drawn from interpretations of prophecies and my proof consists of express scripture statements.
Invisibility is a key difference between the two events. If Jesus returned and no one has seen Him then it had to be an invisible return. So if His second coming is said to be visible then the AD70 event was not it. The same is true of the resurrection, the judgment, and the end of the world. If they occurred in AD70 they would have to have been invisible. Therefore the premises in my proposition affirm that these are all specified in the Bible as literal, visible. Proving that proves my case. It is admitted that Jesus did not come in a visible form at that time. Advocates of the AD70 theory admit that an actual resurrection of all the dead did not occur, nor a worldwide judgment. They do not say that the heavens and earth literally passed away. Their contention then is that Christ’s second coming was not a literal coming. This contradicts all scriptures that speak to the point. We agree that a symbolic “coming” in vengeance on Jerusalem did occur in AD70. But our question is, Was that symbolic “coming” the one the Bible refers to as His “second coming” or His return? I maintain that the scriptures clearly picture His second coming, along with the other occurrences, as real and visible. This question is clear enough. We need only to take it to His word and note what is expressly stated in the Biblical text.
Jesus said, “If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) But there is one other procedural point we should include. When we look up a passage and get an answer, we need to ask if that answer harmonizes with all other scripture passages. We do not want to establish anything by an isolated passage, taken out of context, and not used in harmony with the entire Bible. The AD70 advocates do that, but I will not. God’s entire will must be honored and respected.
Yes, it can be done. Consider our four questions that way.
First Question: Was His return to be in person or only symbolic? Bible answer: “I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3) Jesus did not say, “A symbol will come to you.” He said “I will come again and receive you.” In the ordinary meaning of words this says that Jesus meant to come back for them. Paul confirmed this clearly. “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven.”
Second Question: Will He be visible at His return? Bible answer: “This same Jesus will return in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11) “He comes with clouds and every eye shall see Him.” (Rev. 1:7)Third Question: Is the resurrection appointed to be literal or figurative? Bible answer: “The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and so we will ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess. 4:16-18) The statement that those who are alive and remain will be “caught up together with them” pictures a literal resurrection.
Fourth Question: Will His second coming occur at the end of the world? Bible answer: “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Peter 3:4) “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (Verse 10) “Since we look for these things what manner of persons should you be?” (Vs.11) Words could not say more clearly that the day of the Lord will be the day of the ending of the world.
Peter described it and urged that “because we look for these things” we must “be diligent to be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Peter 3:14)Recognizing the reality of that day to come dictates how we
must live this life. That would not be the case if it were only a symbolic presence and not actual. The idea of an “invisible” return is a human theory and is not accurate. The idea that what Peter described involved only one city and it will never happen to the world the way he described it, is an incorrect idea according to the Bible. That in the day of resurrection all the dead will be raised, “the small and the great,” is a fact, stated by Jesus and by the inspired writers, including John in Revelation 20:12. The theory that after the resurrection has occurred the dead will still be in the graves is absurd. The scriptures are too specific on all these points to allow for theories that contradict them. The scriptures have it right just as they are written and they state it very clearly.
Significance of these Bible statements. 1. Don admits Jesus did not come in person in AD70. Thus the scriptures which indicate that His second coming is to be in person tell us it did not happen in AD70. 2. Don admits that Jesus was not visible in AD70. Thus the scriptures that indicate His second coming is to be a visible return tell us it did not happen in AD70. 3. Don does not claim that in the resurrection he attributes to AD70 the dead in Christ rose to meet Him in the clouds. So the scriptures which say that the resurrection that is to occur at His coming is one in which the Lord’s people will rise to meet Him in the clouds, tell us it did not happen inAD70. 4. Don admits that the heavens and earth did not literally pass away in AD70. So the scriptures which say that at Jesus’ second coming the heavens and earth will pass away, tell us that “coming” did not happen in AD70.
Bible facts demonstrate the Lord’s control over the universe: The Lord has the power to bring all these things to pass exactly as He has predicted them. When Jesus ascended up to heaven He set aside a law of nature which we call gravity. He will do that again when we are summoned to rise and meet Him in the air. When He ordered the storm to cease He demonstrated power over all of the laws of nature. When He caused people to be suddenly healed of a disease He demonstrated power over natural law. Jesus is divine, part of the Godhead. He has the power to do everything He has promised. It will all happen exactly as He has said.
The description of what Christ’s return will be like, by the inspired writers of scripture, is accurate. Theories that men develop from interpreting Biblical prophecies, which end up contradicting what the inspired writers, are notaccurate. Every NT writer who mentioned it saw it as real and actual. Paul described it to the Thessalonians and warned them not to let anyone tell them differently. When Paul wrote the words “we shall be caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” he said, “Therefore comfort one another with these words..” 1 Thess. 4:18) How could they be taken up with Him if it were only a symbolic presence? How could those words be comforting if what they referred to was not to be a reality?
The Gospel as it was preached by Paul, disallows the AD70 theory.
Paul told the Corinthians He had delivered to them the Gospel he had received, which they had believed and in which they stood, and by which they were saved. (1 Cor.15:1-2) Then he specified that it included the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, according to the scriptures. (Verse 3) Then for several verses he stressed the importance of Christ having been “seen” after His resurrection. The “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” was seen. (Vs. 20) The resurrection of those following Him will also be seen. Then the whole chapter sets forth multiple proofs that His resurrection was the pattern for ours. We will also be raised as He was raised, visibly. At verse 12 he asked, “If Christ is preached that He rose from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” He then says their faith us centered here, that to reject this is to reject the whole thing. For the next seven verses he amplifies the idea that not believing in the resurrection cancels faith. His arguments funnel into this statement, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
At verse 24 Paul points to “the end,” when Christ will deliver the kingdom to God and says, “He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” Thus we see that the Gospel, as it was preached by Paul, does not allow for a theory that denies that a resurrection of all the dead is coming. Before he said “this mortal must put on immortality” (verse 53) he said, “I show you a mystery, we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed.” (Verse 51)So flesh and blood persons cannot go to that city of God. We have to be changed. Thus the resurrection has to occur and for those who are yet alive it means a sudden change “in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet.” This mortal absolutely must put on immortality.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO EVENTS
1. Jerusalem event in AD70.Signs indicating its approach. They could know when it was coming.
The second coming. As a thief in the night. No signs. “At a time when you do not expect it.”
2. Jerusalem event in AD70.Attacked by armies. Temple destroyed. Could flee and avoid it.
The second coming. No armies involved. Comes on the whole world. No one can flee and avoid it.
3. Jerusalem event. Purpose–vengeance upon Israel. “These are the days of vengeance.”
The second coming. Purpose–rewards. My reward is with me to give to each one according to works.
4. Jerusalem event. No one is lifted up out of it. They stay and experience the full wrath of God.
The second coming. Those who belong to Christ are taken up to meet Him in the air and remain with
Him, including even “the dead in Christ.”
5. Jerusalem event. After it is over the same world remains.
The second coming. The heavens pass away with a great noise. The earth is burned up.
A new heaven and earth appear.
Can you believe it? AD70 advocates, including Don Preston, say these are the same event. I say again, you have to choose between what the Bible says and what these men say. They cannot both be true. To paraphrase something Ronald Reagan said, The trouble with our AD70 friends is not that they are ignorant, its just that they know so much that isn’t so.