[Various intrusions have delayed the completion of my replies to Robert Turkel's attempt to defend the unscriptural doctrine of preterism. I won't bother readers with the details, but, in effect, the delay was caused in part by the need for me to learn html coding so that I could assume the responsibilities of webmaster and by my desire to go to "swing states" during the last election to try to prevent the return of George W. Bush to the White House. These interruptions were followed by an ischemic stroke from which I have almost recovered entirely, so my replies to Turkel's preterist defense was one of the casualties of those interruptions. Since more than a year has passed since Part Five in this series was posted, I suggest that readers review it first to refresh their memories. I will assist the readers by reposting Turkel's final paragraphs in Part Five. My reply to them, which ended Part Five, will be omitted]
Matthew 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together (Luke 17:37).
Jesus here alludes to Jeremiah 7:33, "And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away."--a warning to Judah of the coming destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. This verse too fits both a dispensational and a preterist scenario.
Most commentators regardless of orientation would render "eagles" as vultures, though the word, aetos, seems to refer to any big bird and elsewhere would suggest an eagle (Rev. 4:7, 12:14). Perhaps both are in mind--with the Roman eagle (it's [sic] national symbol, like ours) doing double duty as a scavenger over the dead.
Here Turkel's article resumes, so I will be replying point by point to his attempts to make almost all prophetic statements about the "end" figurative in meaning. He has to do this or else admit that the prophecies failed.
With the next verses we enter into a divergence in opinion once more:
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken... (Mark 13:24-5).
Luke 21:25-6 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
"Gotcha here, [Turkel]! There’s no way you can say that this took place in 70 AD. Sure, Josephus reports some signs in the skies, but nothing like this!"
So say the skeptics; so likewise the dispensationalists. But if this hasn’t happened, what about these things?
Isaiah 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
Isaiah 34:3-5 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.
Ezekiel 32:6-8 I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee. And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.
Amos 8:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:
These are not descriptions of final judgment. They are oracles against Babylon (Is. 13) and against Edom (Is. 34) and Egypt (Ezek. 32) and the northern kingdom of Israel (Amos). Point at issue: We are not dealing with literal events here, but apocalyptic imagery-material like that found in Ezekiel, in which God sits on a physical throne, and angels are amalgamated zoos, and eating a scroll is not only possible but gives you heartburn. None of these things literally happened to Babylon, Edom, etc--and Isaiah, et al. [sic] did not think that they would. "These passages all tell a story with the same set of motifs: YHWH’s victory over the great pagan city; the rescue and vindication of his true people who had been suffering under it; and YHWH’s acclamation as king." [Wr.JVG. 356-7] Matthew 24:29 is symbolic for judgment, for the vindication of the new covenant over the old covenant, and their respective members, and Christ’s new reign--and thus fits within the paradigm of a 70 fulfillment.
Turkel is playing a familiar game here. Those who have had very many discussions with biblical inerrantists will recognize immediately what Turkel is doing: He is trying to prove biblical inerrancy by assuming inerrancy. Obviously, the natural disasters predicted in the prophecies quoted above didn't happen, and so these prophecies failed. A biblical inerrantist, however, can never make such an admission as this, and so they have to look for some way to explain that the prophecies really didn't mean what they clearly said, so they take the figurative, metaphorical route. When Isaiah said that the stars would not give their light and that the sun would be darkened, he didn't mean that this would literally happen. He was just speaking figuratively. Likewise, when Ezekiel said that God would make the stars dark, he didn't mean that this would literally happen. He was just speaking figuratively, and so on.
All through my exchanges with Turkel on this issue, I have pressed him to explain in specific terms what these "figurative" predictions meant. I taught college literature for 30 years and prior to that earned the academic credits to qualify for this position, so I think I know at least a little bit about literary interpretation, enough so to know that figurative language in literature had intended meaning. Therefore, if Isaiah was speaking figuratively when he said that the stars would not give their light and that the sun would be darkened, he intended these words to mean something. If not, then how could his readers have known when these prophetic statements were being fulfilled. In other words, exactly what happened to let the people of that time know that Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon was being fulfilled. If the stars didn't literally fail to give their light and if the sun was not literally darkened, exactly what happened that enabled those experiencing the fulfillment to say, "Ah, yes, this is exactly what Isaiah said would happen"?
Don't expect Turkel to answer these questions, because I have asked them before, and they have gone unanswered. However, he can't just say that the language in prophecies like these was just "apocalyptic" and let it go with that. To have any credibility, he must tell us that X happened during the overthrow of Babylon, and X was what Isaiah meant when he said that the stars would not give their light. He must continue and tell us that Y happened at this time, and that was what Isaiah meant when he said that the sun would be darkened. He has yet to do that, and I predict that he won't do it.
Furthermore, Turkel must show us, not just tell us but show us, that Isaiah wasn't speaking literally when he said that the stars would not give their light and that the sun would be darkened. Just how does he know that Isaiah's intended meaning was merely figurative? A good way to show readers just how flimsy Turkel's "argument" is on this point would be to walk readers through the entire context of the verse that Turkel quoted above. As I do this, I will interrupt periodically to ask Turkel some pointed questions that he can ignore, just as he ignores everything that puts him on the spot.
Isaiah 13:1 The oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw. 2 On a bare hill raise a signal, cry aloud to them; wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles.
A question for Turkel: Did Isaiah mean here that the conquerers of Babylon would "enter the gates of the nobles," or did he perhaps mean that they would climb over the walls and that this was just an "apocalyptic" way of saying that they were entering through the gates of the nobles? Inquiring minds want to know.
3 I myself have commanded my consecrated ones, have summoned my warriors, my proudly exulting ones, to execute my anger.
More questions for Turkel: Did Yahweh mean here that he had actually commanded his "consecrated ones," or did he just mean that he had figuratively done this, perhaps just suggested to them. Did he mean that he had actually summoned his warriors, or did he just mean something figurative? If so, what? Were these "warriors," whatever they were, going to execute Yahweh's anger, or were they going to do something else? If so, what?
Inquiring minds want to know.
4 Listen, a tumult on the mountains as of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! Yahweh of hosts is mustering an army for battle.
Still more questions for Turkel: Did this mean that nations were literally gathering together, or did Yahweh mean that the nations would just stay at home and perhaps scare Babylon to death by uttering threats? Did this text mean that Yahweh of hosts was literally mustering an army for battle, or did it just mean something figurative? If so, what?
Inquiring minds want to know.
5 They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, Yahweh and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole earth.
Still more questions for Turkel: Were these warriors that Yahweh was mustering going to come from a "distant land," or would they come from just somewhere over the hill? Inquiring minds want to know.
Having once been one of them myself, I think I understand the inerrantist mind, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if Turkel said here–if he answers at all–that the language in this verse was obviously figurative, because "the whole earth" wasn't destroyed at the time of Babyon's destruction, but I would warn him to be prepared to show us–show us, not just tell us–how he knows that Isaiah, in making this prophecy, didn't think that Yahweh would indeed destroy the whole earth at this time? Besides this, I can dump his ge argument, made in his initial article on this issue, squarely into his lap by pointing out that the Hebrew word translated earth here was ’erets, which often conveyed the sense of "land," so if Turkel is going to make this quibble, he needs to be prepared to show us–show us, not just tell us–why a literal interpretation of this verse would require ’erets to mean the entire earth and not just all the land of Babylon.
6 Wail, for the day of Yahweh is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty! 7 Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt, 8 and they will be dismayed. Pangs and agony will seize them; they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame.
This passage affords me the opportunity to give Turkel a lesson in elementary literary interpretation. When figurative language is used it a text, it is usually very easy to recognize, because literal interpretation of figurative language will almost always result in absurd meanings. Hearts do not literally melt when people are seized with fear; hence, we can know that Isaiah intended a figurative meaning here probably related to the ancient belief that courage came from the heart. In the face of awesome destruction "from the Almighty," then, courage was likely to dissipate in those experiencing the destruction, so saying that "every human heart" would melt would have been simply a figurative way of saying that everyone would lose courage (or as we would say in English, "lose heart"). This interpretation is validated by the later references to dismay and anguish.
Here I have analyzed a verse and explained why there are good reasons to believe that an expression was figurative in its meaning, but Turkel fails to do that when he resorts to the figurative way out of a text problem. He simply asserts that language was figurative and then goes on his merry way, as if everyone is to consider his word the final authority, but I hate to tell him that it just doesn't work that way. In the first place, there is no reason to believe that people living in prescientific times would not have believed that the sun, moon, and stars would be darkened. Indeed, anyone who looks carefully at the texts that Turkel quoted above should be able to see that the writers at times even stated why these heavenly bodies would be darkened. In one of the passages that Turkel quoted, for example, Ezekiel explained why the sun and stars would be darkened: Yahweh would "cover the heavens" and "cover the sun with a cloud" (Ezek. 32:7). I am sure that everyone reading this has experienced this many times. Stars are darkened, because they are covered with clouds and cannot be seen, so why does Turkel think that this was a figurative prophecy when Ezekiel even included an explanation of how the darkening of the sun and stars would occur?
The biggest problem confronting Turkel, however, is that he must show us--show us, not tell us--how he can know that prophetic utterances like those that he quoted were not intended to be understood literally. After all, these prophecies were uttered in a prescientific time when people understood very little about astronomy. How, then, does Turkel know that Amos didn't think that the sun would literally go down at noon and the the earth would be darkened on a clear day (Amos 8:9)? Turkel can't just say that it had to be a figurative prophecy because no such things happened, because that would be trying to prove inerrancy by assuming inerrancy.
9 See, the day of Yahweh comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation, and to destroy its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.
Still more questions for Turkel: Was the day of Yahweh that Isaiah said was coming going to be "cruel" or was it just going to be day that would be just a little bit "vexing"? Was it going to be a day of "wrath and fierce anger," or was it just going to a day of annoyance and irritation? Was the earth going to be made desolate or was it just going to become a bit marred? Were the sinners going to be destroyed or would they just be hurt a little bit? These questions are silly, but I ask them with a serious purpose. If Turkel thinks that Isaiah was speaking literally about a "day of Yahweh" that would be cruel, filled with wrath and fierce anger, etc., etc., etc., by what logic does he think that in the very next verse, Isaiah was just speaking figuratively about the stars, sun, and moon not giving their light? Let him explain to us how he knows that a prophet living in a time of relative scientific ignorance would not think that these things could literally happen.
11 I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the insolence of tyrants.
Literally? Yahweh would literally punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity, or was it all just figurative? Would Yahweh literally put and end to the pride of the arrogant and lay low the insolence of tyrants, or was it all just figurative? Inquiring minds want to know.
12 I will make mortals more rare than fine gold, and humans than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of Yahweh of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.
Is this all figurative? Turkel cannot argue that making mortals more rare than fine gold would have resulted in the destruction of practically all humans, because he cannot know what Isaiah's concept of world population was at that time. As for shaking the earth "out of its place," how does Turkel know that a scientifically ignorant prophet would not have thought at that time that his mighty god could have easily done such a feat. Indeed, we just learned recently that the tsunami in Asia last year did, in a sense, shake the earth out of its place to alter the speed of its rotation by a split second. We have a sense of what would be involved in shaking the earth out of its place, but a prophet in times of scientific ignorance could easily have thought that this would have been no great feat for his god, so we cannot use what we know now as a basis for arguing what a superstitious prophet living 2700 years ago may have thought.
14 Like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with no one to gather them, all will turn to their own people, and all will flee to their own lands. 15 Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
Isaiah began this verse with a simile, which is evident by the structure of the sentence. The word like tells us that the prophet was making a figurative comparison, but similes are relatively easy to interpret. In the midst of the chaos caused by Yahweh's vengeance, the people would act like hunted gazelles and sheep with no shepherd. They would flee to the safety of their own lands, just as the gazelles and sheep would flee to places where they would feel secure. Those who didn't would be "thrust through" by the sword, or would they? Did Isaiah mean that they would die literally, or did he simply have some figurative meaning in mind?
Inquiring minds want to know.
16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered, and their wives ravished.
Literally? Would the infants of the Babylonians be dashed to pieces before their eyes? If this wasn't a literal prediction, let Turkel explain to us how he knows that it was figurative. Would their houses be literally plundered or did it have some figurative meaning? Would their wives be raped, or did this have some figurative meaning too? If Turkel claims that it was figurative, he should explain how he was able to make that determination.
17 See, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold.
I guess Turkel will certainly say that this was figurative, because the Medes did not cause the downfall of Babylon. Media had been absorbed by the Persian empire and did not exist when the Persian forces conquered Babylon. You see, when stubborn facts conflict with what the Bible plainly says, inerrantists must claim that the Bible didn't mean what it plainly said.
18 Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.
Literally? Did Isaiah mean that the young men of Babylon would be literally slaughtered by the bows of the figurative Medes? Did he literally mean that the figurative Medes would have no mercy on the unborn [the fruit of the womb]? Did he literally mean that the figurative Medes would not pity children? If Turkel says that this was all figurative, let him tell us exactly how he was able to determine that, and, above all, let him explain to us what Isaiah figuratively meant. In what sense would the young men be slaughtered by bows? In what sense would the Medes have no mercy on the fruit of the womb? In what sense would their eyes not pity children?
Inquiring minds want to know, and Turkel is surely the one who can explain it all to us.
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
Isaiah used another simile here, but according to Genesis 19:23-25, Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed, so did Isaiah mean that Babylon too would be completely destroyed, as Sodom and Gomorrah were, or was this just some figurative gobbledygook? The next verse indicate that Isaiah thought that Babylon would be literally destroyed.
20 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; Arabs will not pitch their tents there, shepherds will not make their flocks lie down there. 21 But wild animals will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will live, and there goat-demons will dance. 22 Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand, and its days will not be prolonged.
Well, maybe I spoke prematurely, because Isaiah said Babylon would never be inhabited or lived in for all generations, but I just saw a news report about the ancient site of Babylon, where U. S. and Polish soldiers had made their camps during the present war in Iraq. The report showed a museum and reconstruction work that Saddam Hussein had done at the location, and pictures of the reconstruction work, which include an amphitheater and reconstructed gates show that people have obviously inhabited this site, even though Isaiah prophesied that it would never be inhabited again. Biblicists like Turkel, however, can easily get around this problem. They just say that Isaiah was speaking figuratively. It will be interesting to see Turkel show us--show us, not just tell us--how he was able to determine that Isaiah didn't mean that Babylon would be permanently destroyed forever, because except for a few expressions that were identifiably figurative, like the similes that compared the Babylonians to "hunted gazelles" and "sheep with no one to gather them," Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon was clearly intended to convey a literal, everlasting destruction of Babylon. We can be sure that Turkel will in some way argue that the prophecy was fulfilled, but I doubt that any "arguments" that he presents in "support" of that claim will in any way explain how he can know that the references to astronomical signs and the everlasting destruction of Babylon were all figurative.
The upshot of all this is that Turkel puts figurative spins on prophecies like this one, because he needs them to be figurative in order to protect cherished beliefs that he has made into a sort of crusade.
Some points as proof [Dem.LDM, 143; Wr.JVG, 354ff]:
The reference here is to Gary DeMar's Last Days of Madness. DeMar is a preterist, so does Turkel seriously expect us to be impressed with preterist spins that a preterist puts on second-coming passages? Would Turkel be impressed with dispensationalist spins that a dispensationalist would put on the same passage? Would he be impressed with a Catholic who cited Catholic literature in order to defend the doctrine of papal infallibility? It is time for me to remind readers again of something that Turkel posted on an old internet site in reply to my quotation of something that the Jewish author Philo Judaeus said about Moses' miracle of changing all of the water in Egypt into blood (Ex. 7:20). Two verses later, the writer said that "the magicians of Egypt did likewise with their enchantments," so this raised the question of how the magicians could have changed all of the water in Egypt into blood if all of the water in Egypt had already been changed into blood. After the inerrantist quibblers had posted their absurd how-it-could-have-been scenarios, I quoted Philo's comments on this alleged miracle.
The brother of Moses, by the divine command, smote with his rod upon the river, and immediately, throughout its whole course, from Ethiopia down to the sea, it is changed into blood and simultaneously with its change, all the lakes, and ditches, and fountains, and wells, and spring, and every particle of water in all Egypt, was changed into blood, so that, for want of drink, they digged round about the banks of the river, but the streams that came up were like veins of the body in a hemorrhage, and spurted up channels of blood like springs, no transparent water being seen anywhere (The Works of Philo, Hendrickson Publishers, 1993, p. 468).
In reply to this, Turkel dismissed it as unimportant.
Philo is simply reading into the text what is not there. So if I find a Jewish commentator of equal worth that says the opposite, is it a draw? If I find two, do I win?
Will we be entitled, then, to apply Turkel's own standards to the "scholars" that he quoted below? Could we say with reasonably validity that a preterist writer could be expected to "read into the text what is not there"? Then if I can find "commentators" who say the opposite of what Turkel's preterist sources say, would that be a draw? If I could find more opposite views than what he quotes, will I be the winner?
I have been beating Turkel over the head with this quotation for years to drive home a serious point. He thinks that if he quotes a book written by someone, he has proven his position, yet he would never consider granting an opponent the same concession. He apparently doesn't realize that whatever one's religious position is, he can always find writers who agree with it, but those who disagree with that religious position can always find writers who also oppose it. Citing a "source," then, doesn't prove anything unless the one quoting it can delineate logical arguments to show that what the "source" says is true, but Turkel rarely does that. He just cites the source and moves on as if to say, "I am right, and I don't have to explain why I am right."
As I go through the "sources" that Turkel quoted below, notice that he said nothing to explicate either the assertions of his preterist sources or the scriptures that they cited (without exegeting) as "proof texts."
Turkel [quoting a preterist source]:
Here Turkel is quoting Gary DeMar, who is probably Turkel's favorite preterist. Since Turkel is an outspoken preterist, we could only expect his sources to interpret their "proof texts" in ways that would be friendly to preterism, but let's take a look anyway at DeMar's spin on the verses cited above. By the way, I will remind readers again that Turkel almost always cites his "proof texts" without quoting them to let his readers see what the passages actually say. He does this, of course, because he knows that most readers won't bother to check them. He aims his articles at lazy readers who are likely to say, "Ah, Turkel has cited scriptures here, so he must be right."
Genesis 22:17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies....
Genesis 26:4: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring....
In both of these passages, the writers were simply using similes to give Abraham some idea of how numerous descendants would become, but there is nothing to indicate that the writer intended the stars to represent or symbolize Abraham's descendants. The simile was merely a literary device intended to give an idea of how numerous he thought that Abraham's descendants would become. He certainly didn't intend the stars to symbolize those descendants, anymore than I would intend a rabbit to symbolize John Doe if I should say that Doe runs like a rabbit.
Deuteronomy 1:10 Yahweh your God has multiplied you, so that today you are as numerous as the stars of heaven.
Nehemiah 9:23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land that you had told their ancestors to enter and possess.
The same is true of these texts. "Moses," being quoted indirectly in the second passage, was simply repeating the simile that Yahweh [snicker, snicker] had used earlier to describe how numerous Abraham's descendants would become. There was obviously no intention to have the stars symbolize those descendants.
Isaiah 14:4ff [Y]ou will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has ceased! How his insolence has ceased! 5 Yahweh has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, 6 that struck down the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution. 7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. 8 The cypresses exult over you, the cedars of Lebanon, saying, "Since you were laid low, no one comes to cut us down." 9 Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. 10 All of them will speak and say to you: "You too have become as weak as we! You have become like us!" 11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the sound of your harps; maggots are the bed beneath you, and worms are your covering. 12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
Here the king of Babylon was call "the Day Star," so this is obviously a metaphor. This is a figure of speech that is easily recognized, because literal interpretations of metaphors will always result in absurd interpretations. Psalm 18:2 says that "Yahweh is my rock [and] my fortress," which are obviously metaphors, because a literal interpretation would mean that the psalmist was saying that Yahweh was an entity made of minerals. In the same way, a literal interpretation of Isaiah 14:2 would require readers to understand that the prophet was saying that the king of Babylon was a star in the sky. After we have looked at Turkel's [DeMar's] next proof text, I will explain why this passage doesn't, in any way, support the spin that Turkel is putting on Jesus's prophecy in Matthew 24:29.
Genesis 37:9 He [Joseph] had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, "Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, "What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?"
Here too heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars, symbolized people, that is, Joseph's parents and brothers, but as I said above such symbolic usages doesn't help the spin that Turkel is trying to put on Matthew 24:29, which I will quote as a reminder to readers: "Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken." The problem for Turkel is that if he is going to claim that heavenly bodies in the passages he quoted above were used to symbolize "nations, entities, angels or people," he should be prepared to identify what people or nations or entities they identified. In the text quoted above, for example, the sun, moon, and stars symbolized Joseph's parents and brothers, and in the one quoted from Isaiah 14:12, the "Day Star" symbolized the king of Babylon, so what persons or nations or entities did the sun and moon symbolize in Matthew 24:29, when Jesus said that they would be darkened and not give their light? When he said that the stars would fall from heaven, specifically what persons, entities, or nations would these be? When Isaiah said that the stars and constellations would not give their light and the sun would be darkened at the time of Babylon's destruction, specifically what nations, entities, or persons did these heavenly bodies symbolize? Turkel won't tell us, but if he expects rational people to accept his claim that the texts he quoted were figurative in meaning, he will have to explain the figurative language.
Don't hold your breath until he does that.
Job 38:6 On what were its [the earth's] bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?Z
Figurative language was probably intended here, but, believe it or not, some biblical fundamentalists have quoted this passage as proof of "scientific foresight" in the Bible. They claim that stars, which would be a literal usage of the word, emit sound via radio waves and that the author of Job could only have known that by divine inspiration. I consider this spin on the verse to be highly unlikely, so I will just repeat here what I said above. If this verse in any way proves that the sun, moon, and stars were used to symbolize nations, entities, angels or people in the "proof texts" Turkel quoted above, let him tell us specifically what nations or entities Jesus was referring to when he said that the sun and moon would be darkened and the stars would fall from heaven. Specifically what were the nations or entities that would be darkned, and specifically who were the nations or entities that would fall from heaven?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
This was a simple metaphor, which Turkel may want to identify specifically. Who or what was it going to be? And if Turkel can specifically identify this "sun," perhaps he will be kind enough to tell us specifically who or what the nations, entities, or people were that Jesus said would be darkened and would fall from heaven at his return.
Jude 12 12 These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.
Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Again, we have only simple metaphors in these passages that are clearly identifiable. The "wandering stars" were false teachers bothering the early church and the "seven stars," as the text itself said, were the seven churches of Asia, so I will repeat again what I have emphasized throughout this section of my reply. If Turkel thinks that texts like this in any way prove that the sun, moon, and stars in Jesus's prophecy in Matthew 24:29 were just symbols of nations, entities, people or angels, let him tell us specifically what nations or entities would darkened or fall from heaven at the return of Jesus (which return was also figurative, of course).
Turkel [citing more of his preterist "sources"]:
Let me see if I have this right, Genesis 1:18 says that God set the sun and moon "in the firmament of heaven" to "rule" over the day and night, and so this somehow proves that when Jesus said that the sun and moon would be darkened and the stars would fall from heaven at the time of his coming, he was using the names of these heavenly bodies only in a figurative sense. Now that is a typical Turkel argument, isn't it? Perhaps he will try to explain to us, if he answers this, just why saying that the sun and moon ruled over the day and night would prove that the words sun, moon, and stars in Matthew 24:29 were used figuratively. I have urged and urged Turkel to tell us why people living in prescientific times would not have thought that it was possible for the sun, moon, and stars not to give their light and for stars to "fall from heaven." In my very first reply to Turkel's distortion of Jesus's Olivet discourse, I pointed out that we still refer today to meteorites as "falling stars," an ampliatio that survives from the time when people apparently thought that meteorites were falling stars, so why won't he show us--show us, not just tell us--exactly how he knows that Jesus was speaking figuratively when he said that stars would fall from heaven at the time of his coming?
Turkel [still citing his preterist "sources"]:
Well, let's just take a look at this "proof text."
Isaiah 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when Yahweh binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
Anyone who has spent much time at all reading the Bible knows that writers repeatedly wrote in exaggerations. The Exodus account of the plagues in Egypt is a typical example of this. The plague of hail, for example, wasn't just a severe hail storm; it was "such as had not been in the land of Egypt since it had become a nation" (Ex. 9:24). The plague of locusts was not just an unusually huge swarm of locusts; it was more "grievous" than had ever been or ever would be thereafter (Ex. 10:15). The plague of darkness was--well, you get the idea. Biblical writers always spoke in hyperbolic terms that made a plague or disaster the worst that had ever been or ever would be. Solomon wasn't just wise; he was the wisest man who had ever been or ever would be (1 Kings 3:12). This penchant for exaggeration by biblical writers is so well known that news commentators will sometimes use the term "biblical proportions" to describe natural disasters like the recent tsunami in Southeastern Asia. In view of this, how can Turkel possibly know that Isaiah's intention wasn't literal when he said that the light of the moon would be like the light of the sun and so on, and even if Isaiah's intention was figurative in this passage, how would that prove that Jesus was speaking figuratively too in Matthew 24:29 when he said that the sun and moon would be darkened and stars would fall from heaven at the time of his coming?
Turkel rarely bothers to explain or explicate; he just asserts and moves on.
The combined imagery of sun, moon and stars reflects complete political entities. Jesus' prediction refers to nothing more or less than the judgment upon the nation of Israel.
Does Turkel know what non sequitur means? He in no way proved that the "combined imagery of sun, moon, and stars" just reflected complete political entities. He just asserted that it did, but I showed ample reasons above to doubt this foundation principle of Turkel's argument. Well, scratch argument, because Turkel merely asserted, and assertions are not arguments.
For the sake of argument, however, let's just assume that Turkel's assertion is true and that "the combined imagery of sun, moon and stars reflects complete political entities." If that is so, then let Turkel identify specifically what those "political entities" were when Jesus said that the sun would be darkened, the moon would not give its light, and the stars would fall from heaven at the time of his coming. If these images were reflective of "complete political entities," then the obvious meaning of the imagery was that they would fall, so what were these "complete political entities"? If Turkel can't tell us, then how can he know that the "combined imagery of sun, moon, and stars" reflected complete political imagery. Maybe he will also be kind enough to tell us if Matthew, Mark, and Luke were just speaking figuratively when they said that there was a three-hour period of darkness when the "sun's light fail[ed]." If this was a literal darkening of the sun, then why must we think that the darkening of the sun that Jesus referred to in his Olivet discourse was not literal?
Inquiring minds want to know.
As Witherington writes, "That something cataclysmic is being described is sure, but bear in mind that this same sort of language is used when describing the fall of Babylon, and we may be sure that all the stars did not fall from the sky on that occasion, nor is it likely that God only acts when there are eclipses!" [commentary on Mark, 347].
One doesn't need to be a nuclear physicist to see what Witherington--another darling of preterists--is doing. He is trying to prove inerrancy by assuming inerrancy. You see, stars didn't fall from heaven when Babylon fell, and so Witherington argues that since no stars darkened or fell when Babylon was destroyed, then Isaiah couldn't have meant that they would literally fall; he was just writing figuratively. If opponents will grant me the right to argue that figurative language was being used in controversial passages in the Qur'an, the Book of Mormon, the Avesta, etc., etc., etc., I could easily prove that they are all inerrant.
After an earlier version of this section of my replies to Turkel's preterist spins on second-coming "prophecies" was posted, Paul Benson posted in the "Feedback Section" some excellent comments about parallel imagery of falling stars and darkening of the sun and moon in the writings of non-Hebraic religions of that time. The Hebrew prophets simply reflected the common belief of the nations of their day that the gods exercised control over the sun, moon, and stars, and when angry with their people would threaten to darken them, turn day into night, and such like. He cited A Hymn to Inana, the powerful Mesopotamian goddess who had warned that "(o)n the wide and silent plain, darkening the bright daylight, she turns midday into darkness" (line 49). Benson also quoted "Wrathful Gods and the 'Day of the Lord,'" an article well worth reading to see how Hebrew prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, et al were simply reflecting a widespread belief in the near eastern nations of that time that the gods had the power to bring astronomical chaos upon the earth when they were displeased. Among others, this article quoted "Erra and Ishum," a poem written on clay tablets and discovered in the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC), in which the gods were depicted as having control over heavenly bodies.
"I give the command and despoil the sun of his protective radiance,
"By night I muffle the face of the moon,
"I say to the thunderstorm, 'Hold back your young bulls!'" (Tablet I).
I will make hell shake and heaven tremble,
I will make the planets shed their splendor,
I will wrench out the stars from the sky... (Tablet IV)
"The Wrathful Gods..." quoted extensively Stephanie Dalley, who has published or edited at least 11 books on ancient Mesopotamian mythology. Among others, the article quoted from Dalley's Myths from Mesopotamia, Creation the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others, which cited the following examples of astronomical chaos that paralleled Hebrew prophecies of heavenly disasters when Yahweh was vowing to vent his wrath on Israel or her enemies.
I shall make Erkalla [an underworld city] quake, so that the skies billow, I shall fell the rays of Shulpae [Jupiter] and throw away the stars of heaven..." (Dalley, p. 308).
The time has elapsed, the hour passed. I promise I shall destroy the rays of the sun; I shall cover the face of the moon in the middle of the night... (Dalley, p. 297).
Bright day will turn to darkness. A storm will rise up and cover the stars of heaven (Dalley, p. 292).
There is much more that could be quoted, but this will suffice to show that in the prescientific world of the ancient Near East, there was a widespread belief that the gods in times of angry would cause astronomical chaos, such as darkening the sun and moon and making the stars fall from heaven. Why should we believe that the "prophecies" of Isaiah, Amos, Joel, etc. were any different from parallel texts in other cultures that predicted the same kinds of heavenly catastrophe? A theme song that Turkel constantly sings is that the Bible should be interpreted in the light of ancient Near Eastern culture, traditions, and idioms. To see where he drove this point into the ground and broke it off, go to my replies to his appeals to ancient Near Eastern "contexts" to try to remove inconsistencies from Old Testament references to Yahweh's land promise to the Israelites. When Turkel doesn't have a leg to stand on, he appeals to ancient Near Eastern languages and cultures to try to find consistency in contradictory texts, but when those cultures and traditions are deterimental to whatever doctrine de jour that he is trying to peddle, you won't hear him saying anything at all about ancient Near Eastern idioms, traditions, and beliefs. Consistency, however, has never been important to him. His tactic is to say today whatever needs to be said to support his case and then ignore every word of it tomorrow if doing so is necessary to whatever web he is trying to spin on that day.
I would like to close this section with a respectful observation concerning a major proponent of the dispensational theory,
I really don't care what dispensationalists say, because dispensationalists are just as wrong as preterists are. Both are absurd attempts to prove that Jesus's prophecy didn't fail when he said that he would return before the generation he was speaking to had passed away. Dispensationalists simply argue that "this generation" was not the generation of that time but the generation that would be alive when Jesus finally did come. Preterists argue that Jesus was speaking figuratively in Matthew 24:29ff, so when he said that heavenly signs would be seen, that the son of man would appear, that all the tribes of the earth would mourn, that the son of man would come in the clouds, that he would send forth his angels, etc, etc., etc., he didn't intend any of it to be understood literally. He was speaking figuratively, and so the sun was darkened, figuratively, the moon did not give its light, figuratively, the stars did fall from heaven, figuratively, the son of man was seen coming in the clouds, figuratively, all the tribes of the earth did mourn over him, figuratively, his angels were sent forth, figuratively, etc., etc., etc. The figurative spin that preterists put on the second-coming prophecy in Matthew 24 is reminiscent of the "invisible coming" claimed by the Millerite/Russellite movements of the 19th century. They predicted that Jesus would come again in 1844, and when this prophecy failed to materialize, they changed the date to 1873 and then to 1874 when 1873 passed with no sign of Jesus anywhere, and then they changed it to 1875. When that prediction failed too, they then claimed that Jesus had come "invisibly" in 1874. And many of the morons in the movement bought it and remained members.
Both the dispensationalist and the preterist positions are merely absurd attempts to try to make the Bible inerrant, and no reasonable person can accept either position.
[I would like to close this section with a respectful observation concerning a major proponent of the dispensational theory,] whose work in other arenas I have high respect for [Mac.SC, 120ff]. This writer observes, as even skeptics do, that "[n]o great cosmic signs like this ever occurred in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."
Hmmm, I can't help wondering what MacArthur went on to say. I suspect that he argued that since no cosmic signs occurred in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, that would be proof that Jesus did not intend his prophecy to have reference to that time, but I see no need to take the time to research the sources that Turkel quotes out of context. Regardless of what else he may have said about this, MacArthur was right; no such cosmic signs occurred at that time, so unless Turkel can prove that Jesus's intentions were just figurative when he said that these things would happen, then the preterist spin on this prophecy fails just as obviously as the dispensationalist position does. Turkel cannot assume that Jesus was prophesying that his return would happen with the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70 and then argue that since the signs predicted didn't literally happen in A. D. 70, that means that Jesus was speaking figuratively. To do this is to argue in a circle to try to prove inerrancy by assuming inerrancy.
He [MacArthur] then accuses preterists of "imposing an interpretive grid" of allegory to force events into 70 events.
Which is exactly what preterists do.
I think it is telling that this writer’s answer to the parallels in the OT, in particular Isaiah 13, is to first admit that, yes, there is some symbolism in Matthew 24--"Almost no one expects the stars to fall to earth literally"--
Even if we assume the existence of a god, who can perform great miracles, only someone who is astronomically ignorant would think that stars could fall literally to the earth, because the earth would be burnt to a crisp long before the first star even touched it. The fact that no informed person today would expect stars to fall to earth literally does not mean that someone living two thousand years ago would not have thought that stars could fall to the earth. I have already linked readers to where I noted in my initial reply to Turkel's first article in this series that we retain today the expression "falling stars" from the time when prescientific societies apparently thought that meteorites were falling stars.
What Turkel needs to do is not point out that even dispensationalists--who are also wrong about the meaning of Jesus's prophecy--don't believe that stars will literally fall to the earth; he needs to show us that whoever wrote Matthew 24:29 didn't think that stars would literally fall to the earth.
When is Turkel doing to do this?
and [MacArthur] then goes on to suggest that Isaiah 13 is also a scene of worldwide judgment!
Well, so what? If this is MacArthur's position, I disagree with him. Isaiah clearly said that he was directing his prophecy against Babylon.
Isaiah 13:1The oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw....
19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
The destructions of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:23-28) were localized events, so if the destruction of Babylon was going to be "like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them," what is MacArthur's and Turkel's rationale for saying that Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon depicted "a scene of worldwide judgment"? There is absolutely nothing in this entire prophecy even to suggest that Isaiah was prophesying a "scene of worldwide judgment."
Dispensationalism must offer in turn it's [sic] own "interpretive grid" which sees in OT passages like these an oracle tells [sic] of "both near and far events."
I don't know why dispensationalists would think that they must interpret Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon to tell of "both near and far events." If dispensationalists assume that the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars would have to be seen worldwide, they are interpreting the prophecy through modern eyes, because there is no reason at all to think that prophets living in prescientific times would have known that the sun, moon, and stars were visible worldwide or at least over an entire hemisphere. We have no way of knowing whether they even had a concept of hemispheres. Besides, we know such events as solar or lunar eclipses or "falling stars" (meteorites) are only regionally visible, so if dispensationalists do claim that Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon was intended to tell of "both near and far events," I don't know why they think this. Besides, I don't care what dispensationalists think, because their views of the so-called end-time prophecies are just as literarily flawed as those of preterists.
There is some room within the conception of typology for such an idea in this context; Is. 7:14 predicts events both in the day of Isaiah and in the day of Jesus.
Oh, really? Well. let's see about that?
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Since Turkel admitted that this prophecy predicted events in the day of Isaiah, I won't bother to do a thorough contextual analysis to show that this prophecy was obviously intended as a sign to king Ahaz that the Syrian-Israelite alliance against Judah would not succeed. Just a few comments about the context will be sufficient to establish that. The verse just quoted began with a notice that "the Lord himself" was giving Ahaz a sign that the Syrian-Israelite threat would "not stand" or "come to pass" ( v:7). Obviously, then, this prophecy was intended to have reference to events that were contemporary with king Ahaz. That it had reference to "the day of Jesus" is merely conjecture based on a misapplication of the prophecy in Matthew 1:23. If Turkel argues that if "Matthew" said that the prophecy referred to Jesus, then it referred to Jesus, he will be again trying to prove inerrancy by assuming inerrancy, because it is entirely possible that the reference to Jesus was all in the mind of whoever wrote the gospel of Matthew.
There are many reasons not to think that this passage was referring to Jesus.
Matthew's application of Isaiah 7:14 to the birth of Jesus is just one example of many distortions of Old Testament statements that Matthew and other New Testament writers tried to distort into becoming prophecies of events in the time of Jesus. Matthew said, for example, that Jeremiah 31:15 was a prophecy of Herod's massacre of the children in Bethlehem after the "wise men" had slighted his command to bring him news of the birth of Jesus, but any person who will objectively read Jeremiah 31:15 in its original context can see that it didn't even remotely refer to this. It had obvious reference to the Israelites [in the northern kingdom] who had been dispersed among the nations after the Assyrian conquest. The following part of that longer context shows that this was the obvious meaning of verse 15.
Jeremiah 31:7 For thus says Yahweh: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, "Save, O Yahweh, your people, the remnant of Israel." 8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 10 Hear the word of Yahweh, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock." 11 For Yahweh has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of Yahweh, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says Yahweh. 15 Thus says Yahweh: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. 16 Thus says Yahweh: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says Yahweh: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; 17 there is hope for your future, says Yahweh: your children shall come back to their own country.
That this was a prophecy that the Israelites [of the northern kingdom] who had been taken into captivity would be repatriated is so obvious that only someone who refuses to consider the larger context could possibly argue otherwise. This became a "prophecy" only because "Matthew" arbitrarily declared that it was. New Testament writers in general scoured the Jewish scriptures to try to find something that they could distort into becoming "prophecies" of Jesus or some aspects of Christianity, and "Matthew" was one of the worst offenders.
I could cite other examples, but these are sufficient to make the point. Anyone who reads these alleged "prophecies" in their contexts will have no difficulty seeing that they originally had no reference at all to the events that "Matthew" applied them as "prophecy fulfillments." The fulfillments were all in his imagination, and so are the preterist attempts to make such prophecies as Isaiah 7:14 applicable to "events both in the day of Isaiah and in the day of Jesus." The mere fact that "Matthew" said that this was a prophecy of the birth of Jesus doesn't make it so. Turkel and anyone else who so argues is begging the question of divine inspiration of the Bible, and in this forum, I don't allow anyone to beg questions that they should be obligated to prove.
Yet even under this paradigm, the problem of Jesus specifying "this generation" indicates a complete fulfillment in 70 A. D. one way or the other.
It indicates a "completed fulfillment in 70 A. D. [sic]" only because preterists arbitrarily declare that it was a complete fulfillment. As I will soon remind readers again, Turkel has yet to show us what "figuratively" or "metaphorically" happened in AD 70 that constituted fulfillment of the astronomical signs that Jesus said would accompany his return.
It cannot be got around so easily.
Yes, it can; I have easily gotten around it by holding Turkel's feet to the fire and demanding that he tell us specifically what happened in AD 70 that figuratively or metaphorically fulfilled all of the astronomical signs that Jesus said would accompany his return. Until he meets that demand, Turkel will have to deal with this huge problem that has been dumped into his lap. To adapt one of his favorite insults, perhaps he would like to bang his head against this problem and then call an ambulance.
The dispensationalists, as Wright notes, are engaged in "the folly of trying to fit the hurricane of first-century Jewish theology into the bottle of late-modern western categories..." [Wr.JVG, 513].
As I have repeatedly said, what dispensationalists may say is immaterial to me, because their position on second-coming prophecies is just as erroneous as the preterist spin. They are both attempts to deny the obvious failure of prophecies that said that Jesus would return "soon," within the lifetime of the people of his generation. Therefore, I will simply adapt Wright's comment about dispensationalists and note that preterists are engaged in the folly of trying to fit second-coming prophecy failures into unlikely and clearly unprovable figurative scenarios in order to preserve their cherished belief in biblical inerrancy.
We should no more expect blood on the moon or falling stars than we should expect, from Daniel, four literal monsters literally dripping and slathering their way out of the Mediterranean like Godzilla: "We must never forget that first-century Jews, reading a passage like Daniel 7, would think of being oppressed, not by mythical monsters, by real Romans."
Turkel apparently doesn't know what the word slather means, but that is just part of his problem here. I have to wonder why he thought that Daniel had seen these "monsters... slathering [sic] their way out of the Mediterranean." Daniel was in Babylon at this time, so the sea in the vision would more likely have been the Persian Gulf.
Anyway, I wonder too if Turkel knows what the fallacy of false analogy is. I have personally seen "falling stars" and "blood on the moon," but I have never seen anything like the "beasts" depicted in Daniel 7. As I have previously pointed out, several times, the term "falling star" is commonly applied to meteorites entering the earth's atmosphere. This is an example of ampliatio, which is the use if a name after the reason for that name no longer exists. People used to think that meteorites were falling stars, and so that is what they called them. The term still survives today. As for "blood on the moon," I remember seeing a bloodlike color on the moon during lunar eclipses. Photographs of a lunar eclispse in 1982 show a dark red color on the moon, and later in the article, another series of photographs of a lunar eclipse over Maui on July 16, 2003, has over 12 blood-red shots of the moon at different stages of the eclipse. In prescientific times, when people witnessed lunar eclipses, they described them in the simplest way they could. They saw blood on the moon.
Now compare this to the "beasts" in Daniel 7. Just to quote the brief descriptions of these beasts will be sufficient to show the falseness of Turkel's analogy.
Daniel 7:2 I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, 3 and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. 4 The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then, as I watched, its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a human being; and a human mind was given to it. 5 Another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, had three tusks in its mouth among its teeth and was told, "Arise, devour many bodies!" 6 After this, as I watched, another appeared, like a leopard. The beast had four wings of a bird on its back and four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the visions by night a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that preceded it, and it had ten horns.
People just do not see lions with the wings of eagles, which can stand up on two feet like a human being, or leopards with four wings and four heads, etc., so one doesn't have to be a literary genius to understand that these "beasts" were being used symbolically in this passage, but such is certainly not so of biblical passages that spoke of "falling stars" and "blood on the moon." These were terms and descriptions that resulted from the limited scientific understanding of those who wrote these descriptions. When Turkel compares such terms as these to Daniel's four "beasts," he proves nothing except that he is either literarily challenged or else desperate to defend a cherished biblical belief.
Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Mark 13:26).
Luke 21:27-8 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
"No way, Holding [Turkel], No Way!!! You can’t say that Jesus came in the sky on a cloud in 70 AD! [sic] Get outta here!!!"
Well, Turkel pretty much said everything that needs to be said here. Jesus simply did not come in the sky in AD 70, and the sun and moon were not darkened, and the stars did not fall from heaven, and all the tribes of the earth didn't mourn, and angels didn't descend with the great sound of a trumpet. None of this happened, but that isn't going to stop Turkel from trying to defend his pet preterist theory. Without even attempting to identify exactly what happened in AD 70 that could be construed as figurative fulfillments of the signs that Jesus said would accompany his return, Turkel turned to an article he has written about Daniel's "son of man imagery" to try to distract attention from his failure to show an AD 70 fulfillment of the second-coming prophecies. Replying to this distraction will require another article, so I will stop here and resume with a Part Seven in this series.