The issue that bugs me the most about the Preterist position is the attempt to explain away the future coming of the LORD as having already occurred in 70 A.D. But that is exactly what you must do if you feel the events of the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in 70 A.D. since one of the events that Jesus described was his Coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory, Matthew 24:29-31.
Jesus knew that He would be rejected by His own people. The cross was not "Plan B". He purposefully marched to Jerusalem to initiate the events that would lead to His own crucifixion. He demonstrated foreknowledge of this event several times to the disciples. But He also demonstrated foreknowledge of a significant time in between His current ministry while He was with the disciples, and the time when He would establish His physical presence at a "Coming" with the holy angels in power and glory. The parable that demonstrates this most plainly is found in Luke 19:11-27. He told the parable because many thought the Kingdom of God would immediately appear, but this was not to be the case. Jesus knew that He was leaving His disciples in charge of the ministry of the kingdom as He would go away for a significant period of time.
So when the disciples ask, "What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?", we don’t have to beat ourselves up wondering if the disciples knew of a second coming or not. Jesus knew, and the disciples at least suspected. This is precisely the reason why they asked the strange question about His coming after He made a comment about the destruction of the temple. They were puzzled as to how the Coming of the Son of Man like lightning (Luke 17:24) fit together with the destruction of the temple.
The discourses recorded in John on the night of the Passover were given just two days after the Olivet Discourse, yet we seem to put the teachings of Jesus in John 14-17 in a completely different category than the Olivet Discourse. But in those teachings we have Jesus demonstrating intimate knowledge about an extended period of time during which He would physically leave the disciples but they would receive the Holy Spirit instead. Jesus promises to physically come to them again and receive them unto Himself that they might always be together, John 14:1-3. Jesus in no way teaches the disciples that the presence of the Holy Spirit will be how He comes again. Jesus was going to His Father, but would come again and receive the disciples into a great mansion (His Kingdom). Jesus was teaching them in John 14-17 to love one another until His physical return, or to occupy until I get back. The teachings of Jesus only compliment each other and never contradict. The parable in Luke and the upper room discourses teach the same thing.
After the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, Jesus gave the Great Commission to the disciples. Then in the beginning of Acts we have the parting words of Jesus before the ascension. But the most striking blow to the "invisible presence" theory is the words of the two men in white clothing. Jesus will come again in the exact same manner that He left. He physically arose into the heavens. He will physically descend from the heavens. But in the mean time, the disciples are supposed to be about the great commission. This was to be the plan all along. This is what was prophesied in the OT; I’m thinking of Isaiah 49 in particular.
We open the chapter with yet another look at the Meek and Mild Servant (see this post here) whose voice is concomitant with that of future spotless Israel. In verses 1-3 we have the voice of the Messiah claiming to be the LORD’s ultimate weapon. Then in verse 4 He objects that He has spent all of His labor and strength for nothing, yet He still trusts in the LORD. Verses 5-6 are the reply back that even though He has labored for what seems like nothing since His efforts have not resulted in Israel being gathered, raised up, or restored, God will still receive glory. It is at this point in the passage that it is revealed that the LORD will be a light to the Gentiles. It is a small thing to simply save Israel; God’s ultimate plan in the Meek and Mild Servant spending all of His strength is for His salvation to go forth to the ends of the earth. This is why the Servant was addressing all the coastlands (Gentile nations) at the beginning of chapter 49. Paul and Barnabas understood verse 6 to refer to the time of the preaching of the gospel to all Gentiles in Acts 13:47.
Verse 7 is assurance to the despised Messiah that one day rulers would worship because of His strength being spent for what seemed like no reason at the time. We see a concealed truth that because God’s light will go forth to the Gentiles that one day Gentile rulers will worship in the Messianic Kingdom. (No I am not a Post-Millennialist).
Verse 8 is the day of salvation for those Gentiles who trust in the Messiah when that light goes forth. The Messiah is personally given for a covenant as the Gentiles are brought out of darkness, vs. 9. This language was initiated back in Isaiah 42:1-7. The Apostle Paul understood verse 8 as the gospel going forth to the Gentiles during the church dispensation, II Corinthians 6:2.
Then in verse 10 the ultimate plan for these blind Gentiles will be fulfilled at the resurrection of the righteous. At the same time as the resurrection of the righteous when God consummates His relationship with the believing Gentiles, there is also the formation of a highway that the Gentiles may be gathered into this place where they will never want again.
Verse 14 is Zion’s objection that as the LORD was saving these Gentiles that He has completely forgotten about her. The LORD’s response is in verse 15-16. Then in verse 18 Israel lifts up her eyes to see the Gentiles saved during the time when she was cast aside. These Gentiles have been gathered to her. Israel is the bride with believing Gentiles as her crowning jewels. Verse 21 expresses Israel’s confusion over who they are and how they can be her children. Verse 20 tells us that the promised land will not be sufficient room for these Gentiles to inhabit.
Beginning in verse 22 we have a change in God’s relationship with the Gentiles that was hinted at back in verse 7. Now instead of the light going forth to Gentiles, Gentile nations as a whole will now revere Israel. Because Gentiles were saved and gathered during the church dispensation, Gentile nations will come under the rule of the Messiah during the Messianic Kingdom.
For the classic dispensationsalists who want to say that the church dispensation was hidden from view in the OT, this passage and Paul’s quotations of verses 6 and 8 proves them wrong. Jesus knew that His absence would be over a significant period of time during which Gentiles would experience the light of the LORD while it would seem that Israel had been forgotten by the LORD. This leaves us in the position of looking forward to the restoration of Israel at the second coming of the Messiah. Although Meek and Mild at His first advent, He will be a Man of War at His second advent.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman