Yes, that’s a rather ambitious title. But I think it’s true. I think that there’s a particular prophecy that ultimately answers all of the arguments of both preterism and supercessionism. It also stands as a stark warning to the Church.
To set understand why this particular prophecy is so important, first you have to understand the context of the Curse of the Law, which I’ve spent quite some time going over. To reiterate briefly, the Curse of the Law that Paul talks about in Galatians 3 is not, contrary to popular conception, the curse that comes from “seeking to be justified by yielding obedience to the Law – whether the moral law, or the ceremonial law” (Barnes’ Notes to Gal. 3:10). Rather, Paul’s concern is that many Gentile converts were being convinced that they needed to be circumcised into the covenant of Moses (as we explain here).
However, the covenant of Moses, as laid out in the book of Deuteronomy, had been broken some seven hundred years earlier, and like all covenants at the time it was written, it had very specific punishments, a curse, that would befall those who broke it. This curse specifies two distinct exiles: The first would be to a single nation (Assyria for the northern kingdom, Babylon for Judah), while in the second,
the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone. Among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot: but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and pining of soul; and your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you shall fear night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. (Deu. 28:64-66)
This cannot refer to the Babylonian exile (cf. Jer. 29:5-7), but does describe perfectly the Galut of the last two thousand years.
The problem with preterism and supercessionism is that they stop the story there: The Jews are cursed and punished, and all of their promises were given to the Church. Therefore, if a Jew wishes to be saved, he must leave the Jews and become a Christian. This is a false gospel, as we’ve said before, resulting in a Judenrein Christianity. But, as it turns out, it’s also just plain bad exegesis.
The preterist, who believes that most or all prophecy points towards the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 CE does have a certain amount of evidence on his side. After all, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t believe it. They point out that as you go through the hundreds of quotes from and allusions to the Old Testament in Revelation, you find that most of them point you to the punishment of Israel for her sins. I’ve thought about quoting some examples, but it’s not really necessary–because I agree with them!
That may surprise you. How can I agree with those who think Revelation is a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction and still believe it’s primarily about the last few years before and during a future Second Coming?
The answer is, to bring us back to the title of this post, because of the Most Important End-Times Prophecy in the Bible. Which isn’t in Revelation, or Daniel, or Isaiah, or anywhere you might think.
It’s in the Torah:
It shall happen, when all these things have come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where the LORD your God has driven you, and shall return to the LORD your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; that then the LORD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of the heavens, from there will the LORD your God gather you, and from there he will bring you back: and the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.
The LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live. The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies, and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. (Deu. 30:1-7)
We’ll demonstrate that the curse has already either begun to come to an end or has ended already in the next post. For now, let’s look at the last two verses.
It might be tempting to think that all of the things outlined above must happen in the space of a day, or a few days, but that’s not the way the prophets understood them. To take just two examples: Ezekiel’s “Vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones” (ch. 37) describes Israel’s return happening in phases: First, Israel would be reduced to “dry bones” (which took place horrifyingly literally during the Holocaust). The bones rise and form healthy bodies, “but there was no Spirit in them” (v. 8). Only after Israel is brought back “into the Land of Israel” (v. 12) will Hashem put his Spirit in the people (v. 14a), which of course is what circumcises the heart (Rom. 2:29, Php. 3:3).
After this, “I will place you on your own land” (v. 14b). This may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. In verse 12, Israel is “brought” (heiveyti, from bo, “come”) to the Land, but it isn’t until after the Spirit is given that Israel is “placed” there. The word “placed” is hinachti, from yanach, used to describe Noah’s ark resting permanently at last on Ararat after its voyage (Gen. 8:4) or the jar of mana being placed in the Tabernacle as a permanent testimony (Exo. 16:33f). In other words, the return from the exile would begin before the giving of the Spirit, but Israel would not be placed securely in the Land until after the Spirit.
This sequence is precisely what we see in Zechariah’s prophecy. First, Jerusalem would be reestablished, but would be attacked by the nations (12:1-3). Then they would see the one “whom they have pierced” coming on the clouds and mourn (Zec. 12:8-14, Rev. 1:7). Then a purifying “fountain” would be opened up for the house of David and Jerusalem (Zec. 13) and only after this and the final battle would Israel be secure in the Land (ch. 14).
Zechariah makes it clear that there would be a significant period of time between the return from exile to the Second Coming and circumcision of Israel’s hearts by the Spirit. And so we’ve seen it in the restoration of Israel in our own time.
This means that we are living in an extraordinary prophetic time. It also means that we need to heed the warning of the last line of the prophecy: “The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies, and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.”
As we noted before, when the preterist points out that most of Revelation’s allusions point to the punishment of Israel, they’re absolutely right. However, that doesn’t negate at all the futurist interpretation, because Moses told us over three thousand years ago that all of those punishments would be revisited on Israel’s enemies. That’s what the Day of the Lord is all about.
We see a prelude of the final Day of the Lord in the punishment of Israel’s enemies in the sixth century BCE: When the Babylonians arose to conquer Judah and carry the Jews into exile, they also conquered and destroyed the empires of the Assyrians and the Egyptians, the kingdoms of Moab, Ammon, and Edom (the latter also being destroyed by the Nabataean Arabs), and the remaining city-states of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. None of these nations ever recovered their former glory and independence, and many of them disappeared entirely into the sands of the deserts.
The final Day of the Lord, on the other hand, will be distinct in which Israel will be saved, not destroyed or exiled, while no nation will be allowed to take credit for the fall of her enemies in the way the Babylonians did in the 6th century:
The lofty looks of man will be brought low, the haughtiness of men will be bowed down, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. (Isa. 2:11, 17)
“For, behold, in those days,
and in that time,
when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all nations,
and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat;
and I will execute judgment on them there for my people,
and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations.
They have divided my land. . .
The LORD will roar from Zion,
and thunder from Jerusalem;
and the heavens and the earth will shake;
but the LORD will be a refuge to his people,
and a stronghold to the children of Israel. (Joel 3:1-2, 16)
Shalu shalom Yrushalam; yishlayu ohavayik.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; those who love her will prosper.