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Notes on Daniel: Historicism or Preterism?

By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008

The debate over how to interpret the book of Daniel from the perspective of Reformed theology usually is between historicism and preterism. The futurist view is not unknown among the Reformed, but it is far more rare than in evangelical circles.

What we call the historicist view today was popular among the Reformers, but their fixation on the pope (or the papacy in general) as the “Beast” of Revelation 13 and the “Little Horn” of Daniel 7 was actually a form of futurism at that time. They were looking at events described in Daniel and Revelation to occur in their own day or in the near future. We can only call that view “historicism” today looking backwards in time. From their perspective, looking for the “Beast of Revelation” to come out of Rome in the 1500s is no different than Christians today looking for the Beast to arise out of one of the politicals leaders in the Middle East.

As a matter of fact, postmillennialism as a distinct theology from amillennialism came about 100 years after the Reformation, when the Puritans realized that the papacy was actually gaining ground. They formed the idea of “progressive millennialism.” This was the idea that eventually the papacy would be defeated. This later became known as postmillennialism. The most popular form of this idea was historical postmillennialism, which still included the “Romish papacy” as the Beast and the events of Revelation as being fulfilled over the course of history.

I am a preterist, rather than a historicist or a futurist, because I believe the book of Revelation has to be interpreted in light of passages in Daniel and the Mount Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24). The book of Daniel points to the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, not the medieval Roman Church. Jesus himself points to the fulfillment of the “Fourth Kingdom” prophecy (“the abomination that causes desolation” — Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15) as occurring in the first century.

I know that some historicists like to stretch Daniel’s “Fourth Kingdom” prophecies to include all of history. So do the futurists and dispensationalists.

But if we let Daniel interpret Daniel, I think the only immediate application is the first century.

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

And in the days of these kings — Simply put, in the days of the Roman Empire. Daniel prophesied that the kingdom of God would be brought to earth by Jesus Christ “in the days of these kings” never to be destroyed. The saints of the kingdom will war against the kingdoms of this world and they will become part of “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

While I agree that this is a progressive millennial kingdom, I do not see how any of the “kings” of Daniel and Revelation can be thought of as being the papacy or a future world dictator.

Daniel is not a prophecy given to Protestants to describe the time of the Reformation. It is not a prophecy given to Christians today that describes events in our future. It is a prophecy given to the Jews to prove the time of the coming Messiah. The context and purpose of the passage point to a first century fulfillment. Key timing elements of the prophecy as well as the application of specific descriptions of the “little horn” describe Nero Caesar.

The Mount Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation were both given to explain that Daniel’s prophecy is fulfilled in the time of Jesus Christ.


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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

$12.95 — ORDER NOW!

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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