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Notes on Daniel: Historicism or Preterism?

By Jay Rogers
Published July 16, 2019

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 also frequent among the Reformed, but it is less common than in other evangelical circles.


In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“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).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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What we call the historicist view today was popular among the Reformers of Martin Luther’s day and the following centuries, 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 retrofitted events occurring in their own day into those described in Daniel and Revelation, practicing an early form of “newspaper exegesis.” We can only call that view “historicism” today from our vantage point looking backwards in time. The Reformers looked for the “Beast of Revelation” to come out of Rome in the 1500s just as some Christians today look for the Beast to arise out of one of the political leaders in the Middle East.

Postmillennialism as a theology distinct from amillennialism came about approximately 100 years after the Reformation when the Puritans realized that the papacy and Roman Catholic missions were actually gaining ground in the world. They formed the idea of “progressive millennialism,” proclaiming that the papacy would be defeated eventually over a long period of time.

The most popular form of this idea was historicist postmillennialism. Their view included the defeat of the “Romish papacy” as the Beast and that events of Revelation would be fulfilled over the course of history. This view was common among many of the Puritans including the “Neo-Puritan” leader of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards.

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, Mark 13, Luke 21). 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 Roman “Fourth Kingdom” prophecy as occurring in the first century (“the abomination that causes desolation” – Daniel 9:27, 12:11; Matthew 24:15).

Some historicists like to stretch Daniel’s “Fourth Kingdom” prophecies to include all of history. So do all dispensationalists and futurists. But if we let Daniel interpret Daniel, 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 brought to earth by Jesus Christ “in the days of these kings” would never be destroyed. The saints of the kingdom would war against the kingdoms of this world and they would become part of “the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

While I agree that this is a progressive millennial kingdom, I do not see how any of the “kings” of Daniel 2:44 and Revelation 11:15 can be thought of as being specifically 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” of Daniel 7, point to Nero Caesar and other events of the first century AD.

The Mount Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation were both given to explain that Daniel’s prophecy would be fulfilled in the generation of Jesus Christ.


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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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