In Revelation 20: A Preterist Commentary I argue that the millennium and notion that the beast is Rome under its two first-century dynasties confirm each other as there were exactly 1000 years–no more no less–from the death of the last Flavian (A.D. 96) until the First Crusade (A.D. 1096), the Battle of Gog and Magog. Other full preterists might see a problem with this view in that it does not wrap-up the fulfillment of all end time prophecy by A.D. 70. In fact, according to my view all end time prophecy was not fulfilled until A.D. 96. (Recall that the millennium is not an end time prophecy, but rather the New Covenant fulfillment itself, or at least the first thousand years of it (Revelation 20: A Preterist Commentary ).) Many preterists assume that everything must be fulfilled by A.D. 70 and that no prophecy can extend beyond that date citing vs. like Luke 21:22. However, arguments based on Luke 21:22 and related verses lack potency as similarly phrased verses often contain numerous and obvious exceptions (see Does Luke 21:22 Prove that All End Time Prophecies were Fulfilled in A.D. 70?).
The idea that the complete fulfillment of all end time prophecy could extend beyond A.D. 70 is hard to accept for many preterists who are willing to trade numerous unanswered questions concerning the identity and actions of key figures so as to wrap everything up by A.D. 70. If one is willing to accept the idea that A.D. 70 was just the climax rather than the terminus of the eschaton then as I show throughout my commentaries these numerous gaps and unanswered questions go away and one is left with an almost 100% complete historical record of fulfillment. Does the Bible allow for the eschaton to extend twenty-six years beyond A.D. 70?
Before I address this question, I must remind my reader that I do believe that the Parousia occurred amidst the first Jewish-Roman War. I also believe Jesus came in judgment again later at the death of each member of the Flavian Dynasty (see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century). However, even if Jesus did not manifest Himself at the deaths of Vespasian, Titus and Domitian as I argue in The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20 the Bible does not demand the return of Christ at any of their deaths and thus this point would not invalidate my view (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: A Preterist Commentary and Revelation 19: A Preterist Commentary).
The Bible never explicitly indicates that the beast would die in A.D. 70. The only limitation placed on this event is that it would take place within the lifetimes of Jesus’ contemporaries and A.D. 96 certainly qualifies as John was believed to have outlived Domitian according to Church tradition. Prior to the advent the Jews seemingly all believed that when the Messiah came He would reign on earth at His initial arrival. However, that was not what happened. Jesus died, was raised and then returned roughly forty-years later before He established His kingdom and truly began His reign in heaven (Rev 12:4-11). This gap between Jesus’ initial coming and His Parousia was never explicitly predicted and appears to have been below the resolution of Biblical prophecy. Yet that is exactly what happened!
Though there were no explicit predictions concerning the death and return of the Messiah, there were subtle hints or clues that this might happen like the untimely death of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Could there have been a similar gap between the fall of Jerusalem and the death of the beast? In Revelation 17: A Preterist Commentary I show that the beast is Rome under its two first-century dynasties and the whore of Babylon is Jerusalem, the prostitute of the beast. Revelation 18 predicts the fall of Jerusalem and Revelation 17:12-17 tells us that it was the beast, Rome, who would cause the city to fall. The fact that the beast and the whore of Babylon are two separate entities and the beast and His ten horns cause the fall of Jerusalem suggests that there would be a gap between the fall of Jerusalem and the death of the beast. Barring some peculiar miracle or contorted view of Scripture, how could the beast cause Jerusalem to fall and yet fall at the same time itself? Though never explicitly stated Rev 17:12-17 seems to imply that the beast would fall a short time after Jerusalem.
But what according to the Bible is a short time? Throughout the Bible there are about one hundred time indicators stating that the Parousia was “soon,” “at hand,” “at the door,” “imminent,” and all manner of other ways of expressing close temporal proximity. And yet all of these imminent time statements traversed a period of up to almost forty years before some of these predictions were fulfilled in the Parousia. If an interval of forty years could be expressed by imminent terms like “soon,” “at hand,” and “at the door,” certainly the twenty-six years between the fall of Jerusalem and the death of the beast could also be expressed in such a way. And if the death of the beast is regarded as “soon” and “imminent” when it was separated from the fall of Jerusalem by twenty-six years, maybe this imminence is why no interval is explicitly mentioned just as no gap is predicted between Jesus’ first and second comings presumably because this forty year gap is also considered imminent in prophetic time.
The presence of relatively lengthy, unanticipated and unexpected gaps in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies which appear to flow in such a way as to imply instantaneous fulfillment is not limited to the forty-year gap between Jesus’ resurrection and Parousia and the fall of Jerusalem and death of the beast. The fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (Jer 50-51) is another prime example. In Jer 51:11 Jeremiah predicts that Babylon was to fall to the Medes and Persians a fact that was fulfilled in 539 B.C. However, when the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon at that time they did so by diverting the river Euphrates which ran through the city. The Median and Persian soldiers then walked under the city walls and took the city purportedly without a fight seemingly fulfilling Jer 50:38. Thus the predictions concerning the fall of Babylon’s walls (Jer 50:15), the burning of the city (Jer 51:30), the breaking down of Babylon’s gates (Jer 51:30), and the slaughter of Babylon’s army in the streets of the city (Jer 51:3-4) do not appear to have been fulfilled until Babylon revolted from and was subsequently attacked by the Persians 57 years later in 482 B.C. Thus here is a gap of 57 years before the predictions concerning the fall of Babylon in Jer 50-51 were fulfilled.1 In light of this and other gaps in the Bible, is it surprising if the death of the beast occurred 26 years after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 even if predictions concerning the beast’s death are grouped in context with other A.D. 70 events? Remember, various predictions in Jeremiah 50 and 51 were fulfilled fifty-seven years after others without any hint of a gap in between. And that is because “soon” and “at hand” in prophetic schemes can be 40 plus years in the future.
Some preterists might scoff at the idea that all end time prophecy did not wrap-up until twenty-six years after A.D. 70 because twenty-six years seems like a long time. Interestingly, this is the same objection unbelievers had to Christ’s return according to 2 Pt 3:3- 9 and Mt 24:48-50.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” . . . . The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. [emphasis mine]” (2 Peter 3:3- 9)
But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of [emphasis mine]. (Mt 24:48-50)
In the two vs. above we can see that the roughly forty-year “imminent,” “soon,” and “at hand” return of Christ is also seen as a long time by its critics. Though twenty-six years may seem like a long time to us it is “at hand,” “soon,” and “imminent” in end time prophecy. This means the death of the beast “soon” follows the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The only thing we know from the Bible is that all end time prophecy must be fulfilled within the potential lifetimes of Jesus’ first-century audience and A.D. 96 certainly fits within those time constraints!
- Assuming that the prophecies concerning Babylon becoming a desert (Jer 50:12-13, 26, 39-40, 45; 51:25—29, 37, 43, 62) are not hyperbole or failed prophecy, Babylon did not actually become deserted until around five to six hundred years after the fall of the city to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.