By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
Let’s just jump right into Preston’s third article where he states that I have not offered any “exegesis” as to a literal passing of heaven and earth. I noted in ‘Response to Preston, Part2’ the reasons. But, since he is now putting forth the claim that the Bible absolutely nowhere, in any shape, or form, ever presents a claim that the material cosmos will be transformed, I simply submit another article I have already written in response to another Full Preterist, Rick Cassidy. The passage in question is Romans 8.19-ff where, again, the vast majority of non-Dispensationalist scholarship understands Paul here speaking of “the creation” as also participating in the glory to be revealed in the children of God. I think this passage is most explicit.
The reader can access that article on this blog. Let us continue with Preston’s analysis of several passages. Well, no, let me first state that Preston has not even dealt with the major premise of my initial argument. The “jots and tittles” are in reference to the written word of God (that’s what “jots and tittles” mean – written strokes on paper). Jesus stated clearly enough that these would “disappear” along with “heaven and earth” – and Preston agreed in his second article – that this happens at the same time. Yet, as anyone can see, the jots and tittles are still here with us. Just “open your Bibles”. Preston has also agree with me that “the Law” and the “Law and the Prophets” are both phrases that mean the “entire Hebrew Bible.” This is where Preston pulls a fast one and tries to delimit the “jots and tittles” to the passing of the old covenant itself, after admitting that they refer to the entire Hebrew Bible! Therefore, in his view, since “heaven and the earth” means “the old covenant dissolving” in AD 70 with the Temple (heaven) and the Land (Israel) being exiled, then “all things” were fulfilled. But, as I have shown, and Preston has yet to deal with, this involves a massive problem.
Now to Preston’s “exegesis”. He first considers Psalm 102.25-28. This is quoted in Hebrews 1.10. Preston believes that this psalm “is about the salvation of Israel at the Day of the Lord.” His exegesis barely demonstrates this point. He strings together some verses (as he understands them), then simply states that this psalm is not at all concerned with the passing of heaven and earth? This is exegesis?
But, let’s get to the real heart of the matter with Preston’s assumptions. For, as I stated in my first article, if Jesus’ words here in Matthew 5.17-18 are not what Preston means, then Preston’s entire covenant eschatology utterly fails. In fact, he makes this very case: “Let me emphasize a critical point here: The promise of Psalms 102 is an Old Covenant promise made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. This logically means that it had to be fulfilled while Old Covenant Israel after the flesh existed (or exists) as God’s covenant people– while those covenant promises were still in effect.” Here is where Preston, without any proof whatsoever states that this is an “old covenant promise”. It can only be fulfilled while old covenant Israel existed. This is the fatal flaw in Preston’s “exegesis”.
Allow me to quote from the author of Hebrews: “…God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His Purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised” (6.17). Then, “For when there is a change in the priesthood there must also be a change of the law” (7.12). God “swore on oath to himself” concerning “the promises.” That cannot be changed. However, the “change in the law” (it’s being “set aside” – 7.18) means that the “old covenant” had been superceded by a new covenant – an eternal covenant (13.20). The promises are to be fulfilled in the new covenant, not the old covenant! The author of Hebrews saying that just because the old “has been made” obsolete, the promises have not been made obsolete because the promises were not based on the covenant made with Moses! The promises are based on God’s oath-swearing upon Himself – and this cannot change, whereas the “law is changed.” The contrast cannot be made more plain.
Preston argues that all of the promises are all linked to one, single covenant: Moses’. This is patently false. What about the covenant made to Adam? To Noah? What about, using Preston’s own logic, the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah 31? Was it not uttered to those “under the law”? In fact, let’s quote Preston and instead of Psalm 102, let us insert Jeremiah 31, “”Let me emphasize a critical point here: The promise of Jeremiah 31 is an Old Covenant promise made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. This logically means that it had to be fulfilled while Old Covenant Israel after the flesh existed (or exists) as God’s covenant people– while those covenant promises were still in effect.” Since it has been fulfilled, since it was an old covenant promise, and since the old covenant “disappeared”, then so does Jeremiah 31! Is it any wonder, then, why many Full Preterists today see the logic of this very claim? The Full Preterist Corey Schultz sees it, but he is ridiculed all day long by those who follow Preston! Amazing.
Psalm 102 speaks of the passing of heaven and earth in very visible, clear terms. The Jews of Jesus’ era understood this; the Qumranian community knew this. The Psalms are replete with the assertion. Romans 8.19-ff, which interestingly enough, may echoe Psalm 102.20, asserts it. “In the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth” (102.25). What beginning? Genesis 1.1! It’s amazing that this even has to be said.
So, Preston, under the weight of his own making, concludes, “This means that if Psalms 102 is not fulfilled, that Israel– Israel after the flesh– remains as God’s covenant people.” And, since the old covenant is gone (as we all agree), then Psalm 102 must be fulfilled, and in order for it to be fulfilled, it can’t be taken literally. Preston thinks that he has knocked off his opponents, but he only does so under the rubric of his own Full Preterist assumptions. After these have been read into the text, he thinks he has championed a victory. But, as we have proven, the old covenant was “set aside” and the law was “changed”. The order of the priesthood of Melchizedek stands over the Levitical priesthood, as David was promised (not Moses). God making Abraham into many nations was not fulfilled under the old covenant because it was “weakened by the flesh.” Old covneant Israel could not bring about the promises by the very fact that she was enslaved.
Paul hammers this point home to his Jewish audience: “Or do you not know, brothers- for I am speaking to those who know the law- that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? or the woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound to the law. But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Therefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ: that you may belong to another, who is risen again from the dead that we may bring forth fruit to God (Romans 7.1-4). The Jew is being told that in the same way death in a marriage annuls the vows between them, so the death of Christ, though his body (which Preston denies that Jesus retains), annuls the law. The Jew has been made “dead”. Jesus, who is God incarnate, also “died”. The Bridegroom, however, has been raised from the dead to marry anew those who have “died to the law”. This tells us that Preston is flat out wrong. The promises were made did not require Israel to be “under the law” – rather, they are fulfilled (and are being fulfilled) when they are made DEAD to the law! And, when were they made dead? In the death of Jesus.
So, Preston wants three passages. Psalm 102. Hebrews 1.10. Romans 8.19-ff. I could also cite Revelation 20, 21, II Peter 3, Matthew 5.17,18, and Matthew 24.35. Isaiah 65 envisions a new heavens and earth, too. In it, fantastical, poetic hyperbole is used to denote that it is quite a different scene than what is “normally” seen and experienced. But, aside from this (and serious exegesis), Preston’s theory holds no water, and the assumptions he must make in order to interpret Jesus’ words concerning all of the jots and tittles of the Bible end up contradicting the very Bible he claims to believe.