I was quite surprised in reading Scot McKnight’s views (read at this link here or click here for entire PDF) to see how he interprets the events of Daniel 7 as being fulfilled in 70 A.D. Here is the next post critiquing the Preterist position.
Early in Scot’s presentation of the actual position, he briefly mentions Daniel 7 in relation to the coming of the Son of Man. The connection is with the use of the title, “Son of Man”. Since Jesus applies the title to Himself, and Daniel used the title for a Messianic figure, the understanding is that Jesus saw Himself as the Son of Man of Daniel 7. I agree completely so far. The issue of debate is whether or not Jesus was strictly referring to events that would occur in 70 A.D. Scot’s quote here gives the same impression that he gives all through his presentation, that Jesus saw it all happening in 70 A.D. along with the destruction of the temple. Here is that early-on quote:
“Jesus mixes Isa. 13:10 and 34:4, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the skies will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky/heaven, and then (now quoting Dan. 7:13f) the tribes of the land (not ‘earth’) will beat their breasts in mourning, and they will see the Son of Man ‘coming’ on the clouds of the sky with much power and glory. And the Son of Man will send his angels/messengers with a great trumpet blast, and the Son of Man will gather his elect ones from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matt. 24:29-31). The End.”
Later, Scot tries to make a connection between the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 and Matthew 24:30. The only problem is that Scot has Jesus traveling in the wrong direction. Read this quote:
“Let me begin with the obvious: the word “coming” in Matt. 24:30 translates the Greek word erchomai, a term that means “coming” but not specific with respect to “descending” or “ascending.” To answer the direction of that “coming,” we need to look at the source for Jesus’ comments, and that source is Daniel 7:13 and there was described the ascent of the Son of Man before the Ancient of Days to receive political dominion. I can’t tell you how significant this conclusion is for understanding the prediction of Jesus. The plain sense of these words, because Jesus is so clearly appealing to the Daniel text as somehow fulfilled in the future, is that Jesus sees the words of Matt 24:29-31 as his victorious reception of power as King and ruler over a body of people. Jesus is announcing the fulfillment of Daniel 7, that is his exaltation and authorization with power before God, and not his ‘return’ to earth. That event is in some sense his ‘appearing’ (parousia; 24:3, 27, 37, 39).”
It is true that there is no mention of descending in Matthew 24:30, but there is no mention of ascending either. Scot tries to go back to Daniel 7 to make a point, namely that Jesus is ascending up to heaven as the judgement is occurring. But there is no mention of ascending in the Daniel 7 text either. The Son of Man comes to the Ancient of Days who has taken His seat, so to speak, in order to pronounce judgement on the worldly kingdoms. Yes, Jesus is appealing to the title “Son of Man” and applying it to Himself. The Son of Man of Daniel 7 comes before the Ancient of Days in order to receive His kingdom. But the Son of Man does NOT ascend from earth to heaven to receive that kingdom. In fact, Daniel 7:14 describes that kingdom as occurring here on earth (it includes the nations), so the coming of the Son of Man should have its destination being here on earth.
Scot makes a great point concerning his exaltation and authorization with power before God being the description in Daniel 7 and not his return to earth. But this does not mean it was fulfilled in 70 A.D. or even at Pentecost. Instead, let’s look at the text of Daniel 7 and see the prophecies that must be fulfilled in order for the passage to be in the past. Daniel 7:7, 24 tells us that there will be ten kings at the time of the destruction of the beast of iron. No fulfillment of this has ever been recorded. Secondly, a little horn will appear amongst the ten horns, make war against the saints, and persecute them for three and one half years. No fulfillment of this has ever been recorded. Thirdly, but it’s actually the main point of the vision, the fourth beast must have a consistent interpretation as the other three. It is a secular empire that will be judged at the time of the coming of the Son of Man, and it is none other than the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was not judged in 70 A.D.
Since Scot has it settled in his mind that the Coming of the Son of Man is actually Jesus ascending to the Father to receive authorization to rule over the church, he jumps to his next conclusion. The cosmic signs are not literal, but metaphorical language for political judgement. Instead of the empire system being judged, Scot has it that Israel is being judged. Here are some clips:
“With the term coming settled, we can ask about the astral phenomena, the mourning, and the gathering of the elect. …astral disasters are celestial metaphors for earthly political disasters – when Israel, when Judah, or when Egypt falls, when a political kingdom collapses, the ancients resort to heavenly phenomena falling, to the sun and moon failing to give their light, that is to cosmic sympathy and correlation. Incidentally, when Pentecost occurred Peter saw what happened as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, and there is absolutely no idea that the sons and daughters speaking was the fulfillment but the astral phenomena yet to come – in fact, the speaking in tongues was simultaneously political disaster for Israel.”
Here’s the part that I just don’t get. Scot has already laid out a sketchy time line for a 70 A.D. fulfillment. The disciples will be persecuted but the gospel will go forth. There will be an abomination of desolation (which Scot equates with being the destruction of the temple). After the abomination of desolation there will be intense persecution. Then after that intense persecution will be the cosmic signs, the Coming of the Son of Man, and the gathering of the elect. So the abomination of desolation begins at 70 A.D. with the great tribulation, coming, and gathering occurring immediately after that, or so I thought. But now Scot is pointing to the events of Pentecost as being the time of fulfillment for the Olivet Discourse. This is a severe. Scot’s whole premise is built upon the fact that Jesus is answering questions about the destruction of the temple and nothing more. But here Scot is giving the interpretation that Jesus was actually speaking of events other than the destruction of the temple.
You cannot believe that the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 is the abomination of desolation and believe that the Coming of the Son of Man was fulfilled at Pentecost since Jesus has placed the Coming of the Son of Man AFTER the abomination of desolation in His sequence of events. It is truly difficult for me to believe that Scot has a good grasp of what the prophecies of Joel meant in their original context. If the cosmic signs are symbolic for political disaster (which they may be) then it is political disaster upon the Gentile nations which come against Israel, see Joel 3:9-17, but it is Israel’s restoration which is spoken of. See this post here for more.
The view that Daniel 7 was fulfilled in the first century simply does not work. There was no judgement upon the empire of this world (the fourth beast) leading into the age to come. The Roman Empire continued for several centuries after 70 A.D. The little horn never appeared and in John’s writings we read about an antichrist that will yet come. Note: John wrote after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. The saints did not receive the kingdom (here on earth) after a time of intense persecution by the little horn. All people, nations, and languages did NOT come to serve the Son of Man in the first century. Daniel 7 awaits a future fulfillment, as does Daniel 2.
Scot points out at different times that the conservative Evangelical view is in need of criticism for its futuristic interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. I would point out that Scot is in need of criticism for his Preterist (past tense) view of Daniel 7. There is no proof that the events that Daniel saw have been consummated. The kingdoms of this age are alive and well and under the influence of Satan. They have not been judged and given to the burning flame. The Coming of the Son of Man of Daniel 7 in order to judge remains yet future as does the Coming of the Son of Man of Matthew 24:29-31.
There are just too many inconsistencies for this view to work.
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