Puritan Gems

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dual Fulfillment and a Future Tribulation

As an increasing number of Christians are beginning to recognize value of the historical context in interpreting Bible Prophecy, those who hold to a futurist view are pushing for a "Dual Fulfillment" principle. This enables Dispensationalists in particular to honor the imminent fulfillment recognized by Preterists, and yet apply them to future events at the same time.

The "dual fulfillment" principle is not new. At first glance there seems to be some basis for this methodology. There were certainly Old Testament prophecies that had dual fulfillments. One need look no further than the numerous Messianic prophecies in the Psalms, which applied to David's life as well as foretold of the Messiah. Isaiah 28:11 speaks of the Babylonian Conquest of the Holy Land, yet Paul uses it to describe Pentecost with the same type of judgment from the Romans (1 Corinthians 14:21). There is also a sense in which the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70 is a picture of the final judgment. However, using such a principle to push specific New Testament Prophecies into the future is a questionable practice at best, especially when applied to the Great Tribulation.

For one, this principle ignores the fact that the focal point of all prophecy is the work of Jesus Christ. Because the Judaists of the First Century failed to see Christ in the Old Testament, they were blind leaders of the blind (Luke 6:39). Yet these things were revealed to the children of God, and a "dual fulfillment" of these events would demand a continued sense of blindness. Christ's first advent brought the gospel which was "to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things" (Ephesians 3:9).

Besides, it is impossible for certain prophecies to honor this principle. Will there be two Millenniums? Two Great Tribulations? Jesus' own words concerning the Great Tribulation demand that it can be only a one time event.
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be." (Matthew 24:21)

By this very description, a dual fulfillment of this prophecy would make it a false prophecy. The same is true for Daniel 2:44, as a kingdom that is established forever can only be established once.

Some prophecies, if pushed into the future, would require a triple fulfillment. Consider the charismatic application of 1 Corinthians 14:21 in regards to the Latter Rain movement. Since 1 Corinthians 14:21 is a dual fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11, any futuristic application would in fact be a triple fulfillment. The same is true with Daniel's "abomination of desolation". It was fulfilled during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but was also applied by Christ in the Olivet Discourse to the armed invasion of Jerusalem by Titus and the Romans (compare Matthew 24:15-21 with Luke 21:20-24). Thus any futuristic view of the abomination of desolation would require a triple fulfillment. The same can be said for the fall of Babylon in the Old Testament (Isaiah 13:1-22) applied to Jerusalem in the New Testament (Revelation 14:8, Revelation 17:5).

In short, using the "dual fulfillment" principle to warn of a future Great Tribulation is a practice of sensational desperation, not sound Biblical exegesis. Dispensationalism in any form is a theology with an exiled Christ, with no kingdom today relevant to the earth in which we live. While we may not know the exact order of events leading up to the Second Advent, we can know that the Great Tribulation, as well as the other events of the Olivet Discourse, is past history. They happened within the apostle's generation (Matthew 24:34), never to be repeated.


John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

We're a like-minded site (I think). Visit/comment, please.

Puritan Lad said...

Hey John,

Love the site, and I've actually visited it before.

However, I would not classify myself as a libertarian, but rather more of a lite theonomist. In other words, civil governments have a biblical role, and should legislate according to that role, and only according to that role.

As great as our Constitution is, i is still inferior to the Holy Scriptures.



Bryan said...

Hey PL,

Love the post. Completely agree.
We can see the dual-fulfillment of OT passages because we have progressive revelation in the NT that through inspiration and inerrancy shows us the dual fulfillment. If the NT is the closing of that revelation, which it is, how can we assert dual fulfillment here? There can be no progressive revelation to give us such an interpretive key. It can only be speculative. We can only make the Christological and dual fulfillment assertions of the OT because we have an authoritative source that shows us such. That is not the case with the NT as revelation is now closed.

Puritan Lad said...

Right On Bryan. Another example how how the idea of continuing revelation is completely at odds with sola scriptura.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Thanks for the comments; agree. FIRST, God's Word. Speaking of which, here's interview I just did with Frank Schaeffer. Comments?

John Lofton, Editor

PS -- Would also appreciate comments re: my piece on our site re: Huckabee on homosexual "marriage." Thx again...