By Jay Rogers
Published April 27, 2008
Calvin may have been wrong in his view of the Antichrist and the Man of Sin having a future or historical (eschatological) fulfillment. Where I think Calvin definitely got it right was his Commentary On Daniel in which he is solidly preterist.
To understand New Testament passages such as Matthew 24 and Revelation 13, we have to understand correctly what Daniel is prophesying. We have to understand the fulfillment and the purpose of Daniel in history.
As I wrote earlier, 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.
If one says that the two horns of the beast are the papacy and Islam, then one also has to show how that is specifically applicable to the context and purpose of Daniel’s prophecy.
I do not believe that the Bible gives us a road map of future world events. The predictive nature of prophecy points either to important events in the redemption of the nation of Israel (so that the righteous would know what to do in those times) — or prophecy points to the first or second advent of Christ. We cannot know where we are exactly in the time before the second coming. Jesus was silent about that.
Futurism is the study of the end-times — an area of study forbidden by Jesus. The times are not for us to know, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36).
I rejected futurism once I saw that the cryptic approach was about as accurate and edifying as interpreting the prophecies of Nostradamus. Then I was torn between the historicist, idealist and futurist interpretation of the book of Revelation. However, I soon realized that Daniel, Matthew 24, Revelation (and other supposed “eschatological” passages) must interpret each other. The only way to interpret the prophecies of Daniel (which are about the same events as certain prophecies in Revelation and Matthew 24) is from a preterist approach.
I am a partial preterist, but I am also flexible in general applications. I would say that these “beast” prophecies may be applied to any ruler who is “anti-Christ.” While I am not looking for one future antichrist — and I do not believe that the papal system of the Middle Ages or Islam in general is the antichrist — I would not hesitate to make an application by saying the same spirit that ruled Nero also ruled these diabolical powers.
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