Isn’t it both interesting and exciting when (and how) God confirms a teaching? After checking out Adam’s recent article, Matthew 24: Double Fulfillment Is Not Possible, I decided to forgo the latest news headlines and browse through Messianic Good News‘ recent website changes, and found myself reading through a bible study by Peter Cohen on The Tribulation, which confirmed many of Adam’s points within his article. More importantly, I believe they both confirm what the Word of God shows us.
In a previous post, I shared J. Stuart Russell’s argument against the idea of a dual fulfillment in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21). Russell argued (well, in my opinion) that neither in Jesus’ own words, nor in the words of any other New Testament author, does any teaching appear which supports “a twofold reference in the predictions of Jesus concerning the end.”
An article written in 2004 by Michael Fenemore goes into even more detail on why the idea of dual fulfillment does not work when it comes to Jesus’ famous words in Matthew 24:
Some prophecy teachers, while acknowledging a fulfillment of Matthew 24 in the first century, predict a future second fulfillment, but this time, with worldwide implications… We might wonder whether those who promote the double-fulfillment theory ever took the time to test it by reading over the text even once. How could this be fulfilled twice?
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (v. 14, NASB throughout unless otherwise noted).
Will the “great commission” be fulfilled twice? Does “the end” come twice? If it does, then, the first one wasn’t the end.
A modern second fulfillment is usually presented as a worldwide catastrophe, but notice verse 20: “…pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.” What relevance would this have today? Outside modern-day Israel, relatively few people in the world keep the Sabbath. And what if they do? In ancient times, the gates of Jerusalem were shut on the Sabbath preventing escape (Neh. 13:19, 22; Jer. 17:21, 24). However, this is not a problem for anyone today. Most Christians probably live out their entire lives without ever praying their “flight” will not take place on the Sabbath. Mark’s account adds this: “…be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9). How could this be fulfilled worldwide in our time? Today’s Sanhedrin has no jurisdiction outside Israel. There are likely very few Christians in the world, if any, who worry about being “flogged in the synagogues.”
Will there be two “great” tribulations?“For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again” (Matt. 24:21, NLT). Since this anguish would “never be so great again,” how could it occur twice? Some might protest that such language is hyperbolic; it was not intended to be taken literally. Perhaps that is true. But then, the same people should be able to understand that the rest of Matthew 24 is replete with the same Old Testament-style hyperbole. They should not require a second fulfillment just because some events did not occur exactly as Jesus described them.
Will the “elect” be gathered twice?“He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (v. 31). This is referring to the “last trumpet” of 1 Cor. 15:51-52: the resurrection and the moment when the living Christians would be “caught up” and “changed.” If Matthew 24 was to be fulfilled twice, then, clearly, the resurrection must have occurred during the first fulfillment within the lifetimes of Christ’s listeners. But if all God’s people in Hades were resurrected in the first century, and now Christians go straight to heaven at death, how could any saints be resurrected from Hades in the future?
Jesus never said Matthew 24 would be fulfilled twice, and there’s no rule anywhere in the Bible saying prophecy should be interpreted this way. The double-fulfillment concept is simply an untenable fabrication created in desperation, probably deemed necessary because its adherents expect literal fulfillments of the highly figurative, cosmic predictions in Matthew 24 and other places, which of course, have never occurred (and never will). In some cases we find types and antitypes in scripture. For instance, Israelite worship under the Old Covenant was a type or “shadow” of things to come under the New Covenant (Col. 2:16-17). However, the New Covenant does not create more shadows for greater fulfillments later.
Please see Adam’s complete article: Matthew 24: Double Fulfillment Is Not Possible
From Peter Cohen’s teaching on the Tribulation:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy (one). Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One (the Messiah), the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many [in the middle of the] one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on the desolate” (Daniel 9:24-27)
In giving this prophecy concerning the specific period decreed for Israel from the time of the Babylonian captivity to the time of the coming of the Messiah, the angel Gabriel said,“Know and understand this…”.
We will also look at Matthew 24, where Jesus referred to Daniel chapter 9, but at this point it is worth noting that Jesus too stressed the importance of understanding this prophecy: “…when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand…” (Matthew 24:15).
It is through a misunderstanding of Daniel chapter 9 and Matthew 24 that so many of the erroneous views concerning Israel in the last days have come about. Space does not permit a detailed exposition of Daniel chapter 9 here and so I would refer you to our book, “Jerusalem, Peace or Desolation” which can be ordered from Messianic Good News.
The period of seventy “sevens”, i.e. 490 years, was decreed for Israel to accomplish six things – (1) to finish transgression, (2) to put an end to sin, (3) to atone for wickedness, (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, (5) to seal up vision and prophecy and (6) to anoint the most holy (one). These encompass the essence of the gospel. I cannot stress enough, that these were all accomplished by Jesus Christ through his atoning sacrifice and the making of the new covenant.
Concerning the redemption and victory accomplished by his death on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The new covenant had been made and ratified by Jesus Christ through the shedding of his own blood by which he also made the old covenant, with its priesthood and sacrifices, obsolete. And as the writer to the Hebrews confirmed, that which was obsolete was soon to disappear completely – as it indeed did with the destruction of the temple forty years later (see Hebrews 8:13). The apostle Paul taught, the times reached their fulfillment with the coming and revelation of Jesus (Ephesians 1:10).
The prophecy stated that there would be sixty-nine “weeks” from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the Anointed One (the Messiah). When Jesus was anointed at the start of his ministry the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove. At that time Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth and read from the book of Isaiah, where it is written, “…the Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me…” and Jesus then said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. In other words, Jesus himself testified that he had come as the promised Messiah at the appointed time and he officially began his ministry that was to last for about three-and-a-half years until he was to be cut off – by the crucifixion.
The period of sixty-two “sevens” and seven “sevens”, a total of sixty-nine “sevens” left one remaining “seven” to be accounted for. It was in the middle of that last “seven” that Jesus Christ was cut off – and it was by his death on the cross that he accomplished the six things mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy.
However, dispensational teaching suggests that the prophetic “clock stopped ticking” for Israel and that the seventieth week of Daniel did not follow directly after the sixty-ninth week and, without any Scriptural warrant, they have inserted an indefinite gap which is already in excess of 285 “sevens”, thus making nonsense of the specific time-frame.
The prophecy of Daniel said, He will confirm a covenant with many… Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”(Matthew 26:28).
Jesus confirmed the new covenant with many within the decreed period of 490 years thus bringing an end to the animal sacrifices required by the old covenant by the atoning sacrifice of himself (see also Hebrews 10:11-13).
Forty years later, Titus led the Roman armies in the siege on Jerusalem and the prophecy which said, ”The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” – was then also perfectly fulfilled.
As Jesus had prophesied – not one stone of the temple was left upon another. The sacrifices ended and have not been re-instated for almost two thousand years.
However, the popular teachings have seemingly overlooked these obvious facts, confidently asserting that the temple must be rebuilt and the sacrifices re-instated – just so that after more than 360 “sevens”, (which is five times longer than the period decreed), the antichrist can make a covenant with Israel, then break it so that he may put an end to sacrifices and so that the temple can be destroyed yet again. None of this is either taught in the passage, or warranted in the light of its already perfect fulfilment within the appointed time through the coming of Jesus Christ!
The popular views go on to suggest that when the antichrist breaks the covenant “all hell will break loose” and that this will herald a period of great tribulation for Israel.
This brings us to a brief look at Matthew 24, in which Jesus referred to the prophecies of Daniel.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, ”when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?””(1)Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you…”
The disciples wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed. Jesus answered their question in verse 34: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Those who propagate the popular views of a future fulfilment of Matthew 24 downplay – or even overlook – a vitally important fact. They completely underestimate the magnitude of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD so that not one stone was left upon another and the utter desolation of the city of Jerusalem which was intended as a warning and testimony to all nations.
The Jews regarded the desecration of the temple as the greatest tragedy that could ever befall Israel. In Rabbinic literature its destruction is compared to the end of the world! The fact that the temple was destroyed within that very generation and has not been rebuilt to this day is a powerful testimony that Jesus spoke as a true prophet.
Jesus said: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you…” (Matthew 24:9 NKJV). And verses 15-24: “…he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”
Jesus warned his disciples to flee from Jerusalem as soon as they saw the Roman armies begin to surround the city (c.f. Luke 21:20). Those who did not flee at the start of the siege in the middle of AD 66 found themselves suddenly trapped in the city for a period of great tribulation lasting about three-and-a-half years during which time over one million Jews perished and the city was made utterly desolate. Those who tried to escape were crucified by the Roman soldiers. In the parallel account of Matthew 24, recorded in Luke chapter 21, Jesus also said: “…let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written…”.
Jerusalem fell under God’s judgment in that period of great tribulation between 66 and 70 AD for the express reason that they had failed to recognize the time of God’s coming to them in the person of Jesus Christ. They stubbornly refused to believe the truth of the gospel, despite the testimony of the empty tomb and of over five-hundred eye-witnesses to the resurrection.
Surely no one would argue that, at that time, it would have been seriously misleading for anyone to have encouraged Jews either to enter the city or to remain in the city – or to expect any kind of salvation if they had rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was, after all, the time of God’s punishment upon the city for their unbelief. Any attempt to reassure anyone that God would intervene to save the city of Jerusalem from the Roman armies at that time would have amounted to a false gospel for which, according to the apostle Paul, they would be deserving of eternal condemnation! (see Galatians 1:6-10).
The severity of God’s judgement upon Jerusalem in 70AD should serve as a warning to all people of the consequence of rejecting Jesus Christ as Saviour and King. Surely in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, Christians should remind people of the reason for God’s severe judgment of Jerusalem in 70 AD and to warn that to return in unbelief is still – to this day – an act of defiance that disregards the consequence of rejecting him as King and Saviour. Instead, a growing number of professing Christians are unwittingly supporting the rebellion by encouraging unbelieving Jews to return and take possession of the land from which they had been exiled for nearly two-thousand years – and this largely on account of the popular views being taught concerning Israel in the last days.
Many Jewish people are frankly quite puzzled by – and somewhat uneasy with – the support of Christian Zionism for the modern State of Israel and their enthusiasm for the return of Jews to the land because they are also aware that those same Christians believe that two-thirds of them will be killed in a future holocaust.
What kind of strange and confusing good news is it to tell the scattered Jewish people that the time has come for God to fulfill his promise for them to return to the land – but that unfortunately two out of three are destined to perish in a future great tribulation?
Apparently the “good news” for Israel according to this view is that in spite of two-thirds being killed and in spite of all the Jews who have died and continue to die in unbelief – a small remnant will be saved in the end at the “second coming” of Christ. But, as I will show, even that hope is fallacious.
Well, part of the good news of Jesus Christ is that the unique period of great tribulation for Jerusalem, also often referred to as “the time of Jacob’s trouble”, is an historic event which happened during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed.
A confusing message is being proclaimed which suggests that the Jews must return in unbelief, rebuild the temple, reinstate the priesthood and sacrifices, just so that, having failed already to recognize the time of God’s coming to them nearly two-thousand years ago, it can all be re-enacted with another abomination that will cause the desolation of the temple, the ending of the sacrifices and the destruction of the temple yet again – at which time they will again have to flee to the mountains to escape another great tribulation for Jerusalem!
But Jesus not only said that all those things would happen before that generation passed away, he also said that the Roman siege of Jerusalem would be a unique period of great tribulation – unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again – which rules out the possibility of dual or repeat fulfilment (Matthew 24:21).
See Peter Cohen’s entire teaching, The Tribulation