Why would a Futurist like myself even want to bring this point up? Answer: It’s the truth that so many Futurists try to brush under the carpet when dealing with Preterism. We need to be honest about 70 A.D. fulfillment, then we can be honest about all the things that were not fulfilled in 70 A.D. Futurists need to appreciate this aspect of Preterism. Preterism basically means "in the past". The part that Futurists disagree with is in saying that the return of Christ, the new heavens and new earth, the abomination of desolation, Daniel’s seventieth week, etc. are all in the past. But we need to concede up front the things that actually are in the past.
Fact #1- Jesus prophesied of the destruction of the temple, Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5-24. This was clearly fulfilled in 70 A.D.
Fact #2- Jesus prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem, Luke 13:33-35, 19:41-44, 21:20-21. Note in the first two passages that this destruction is linked to the rejection of the ministry of Jesus. After Jesus’ scathing rebuke to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, Jesus said that all the righteous blood shed from Abel to Zacharias would come upon "this generation", then proceeded to prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 23:37-39. These prophecies were fulfilled in 70 A.D. as well. We may have a future destruction of Jerusalem during Daniel’s seventieth week, but this doesn’t change the fact that Jerusalem as a city rejected the ministry of Jesus Christ and as a direct result of this was destroyed through God’s judgement. The same generation that rejected Him saw the fulfillment of His prophecies against them.
Fact #3- Jesus prophesied of the destruction of specific cities in Galilee because He performed miracles in them but they did not repent, Matthew 11:20-24. Jesus prophesied of a day of judgement for Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum comparing their judgement to the judgement which was fulfilled in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. Sodom is the more memorable of the three, but the OT had predicted the destruction of Tyre and Zidon in Isaiah 23, Jeremiah 25, Jeremiah 27 (this chapter makes it clear that the prophecies were fulfilled during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar), and Ezekiel 28. So cities which suffered God’s judgement in the Old Testament because of their failure to repent are actually shown to be more receptive to God’s messages than the cities who failed to repent at the preaching and miracles of Jesus. There really is no way to assume an unfulfilled aspect of these prophecies. The generation that failed to repent at Jesus’ miracles must be the same generation that experienced the judgement.
Luke’s placement of this passage is a bit more interesting than Matthew. Luke is the only gospel writer who records the commissioning of the seventy, so he is the only one with this opportunity. But first, let’s look at Matthew’s overall placement of the prophetic destruction of Galilee.
In Matthew’s gospel, the twelve are sent out in chapter 10 with the very authority of Jesus Himself, vs. 40-41. There is the threat in this passage of a judgment akin to that of Sodom and Gomorrah if they do not repent at the preaching of the twelve as they go forth, vs. 15. [Mark affirms this aspect of judgement as the twelve are sent out, Mark 6:11.] Then after the preaching of the twelve, these cities failed to repent. Since Jesus had told the disciples that these cities would suffer the same type of judgement as Sodom and Gomorrah faced, chapter 11 is the time when Jesus officially judges them as having not repented. Note especially that verses 20-24 are immediately following a passage where Jesus had spoken of the lack of repentance at the preaching of John the Baptist and His own preaching by "this generation". The condemnation he announces must be upon those specific cities in the generation of Jesus’ day.
In Luke’s record, the twelve are sent out in chapter 9 to preach the kingdom of God, to preach that men should repent, and to heal the sick. Then after the twelve have finished their preaching [and these cities have not repented] Jesus sends out seventy other disciples in Luke 10. As He is sending out the seventy disciples, Jesus pronounces judgement upon these cities as the seventy are going forth to preach in all the places where Jesus will come. In essence Jesus was saying, "Woe unto you, cities, because you have not repented at the preaching of my disciples. This generation is cursed and will suffer judgement because the kingdom of God was preached and they did not repent. Even as I send out seventy other disciples beside the twelve I already sent out, you are under the judgement of God." The point that is more directly brought out in Luke’s arrangement is that the judgement comes as a result of the lack of repentance at the preaching of the disciples as well as what Matthew directly asserts, the lack of repentance in spite of the mighty works.
Yet while cities as a whole did not repent, Jesus brings out the truth that a remnant did repent at some of these miracles. After prophesying judgement upon them in Matthew 11:20-24, Jesus continues by thanking His Father that these things were hidden from the wise and prudent yet revealed unto babes. Luke’s arrangement places this same passage directly after the judgement passage as well, and adds, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see…" Jesus came unto His own people, Israel, His own received Him not, yet as many as did receive Him (the remnant), He gave them power to become children of God as they believed on His name. They were not a new Israel, but the true Israel, the remnant through whom God had been working all along.
So when was this prophecy of the destruction of Galilee fulfilled? Those who study history easily remember the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but what about the destruction of these cities in Galilee? History (Josephus in particular) records that Vespasian in 67 A.D., under the orders of Nero, was marching to Judea with his son Titus (who later destroyed Jerusalem and the temple) encountering resistance by the Jews in Galilee. Josephus himself was commanding a small army as they invaded. At Sepphoris (which is toward the center of Galilee) there was a skirmish during which Josephus records "…the Romans, who spread fire and blood over all of Galilee, killing any who were capable of bearing arms." Part of Josephus’ flight from the Romans led to him to Tiberias which is right on the Sea of Galilee. Here is the area where the cities lay that Jesus pronounced doom upon. Josephus’ final stand was taken at Jotapata. Those who are familiar with the story of Josephus remember the strange twist of events that led this man to be the prisoner of Vespasian. The entire area of Galilee experienced destruction which even spilled over to the territory of Samaria. You can view a map showing the placement of these cities at this link here.
While the specific cities in Jesus’ prophecy are not named by Josephus, we know that the area that Jesus prophesied of experienced serious calamity and bloodshed due to the conflict between Josephus’ final stand and the mighty Roman army. The fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning Galilee in A.D. 67 would be a harbinger to the destruction shortly to come upon Jerusalem, since Jesus had condemned Galilee earlier in His ministry than He had condemned Jerusalem and the temple. The destruction that Jesus prophesied of in Galilee would demonstrate that He was indeed a prophet of God. Many would remember the prophecies of destruction that He uttered while still walking the earth as Galilee was ravaged as He predicted.
To slightly touch on my last post on Preterism, the solution to the Mark dilemma lies in understanding Jesus’ role as a prophet. As a prophet Jesus condemned Galilee, Jerusalem, and the temple which prophecies were fulfilled in the generation that heard those prophecies uttered. Yet many aspects of His prophecies remain unfulfilled even to this day. If the entire hope of the apostles was fulfilled in 70 A.D., that means every item that they looked forward to in the epistles was fulfilled at that time as well. This will lead into my next post. The hope demonstrated in the epistles has not yet been fulfilled.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman