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A Survey of The Days of Vengeance: The Preamble (Part 1)


Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.

We have discussed the fact that Chilton's commentary follows the covenental sections. Those have been described briefly previously. The first of these sections is the preamble. And while a larger portion in OT texts, the preamble is only the entire first chapter of Revelation. With respect to the actual function of the preamble, Chilton describes historic preambles this way,

The purpose of the covenantal Preamble is thus to proclaim the lordship of the Great King, declaring his transcendence and immanence and making it clear from the outset that his will is to be obeyed by the vassals, his servants. (DOV, 33)

As a quick aside, the idea can be floated that the entire book of Genesis is essentially a preamble into the introduction of God who makes a covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai. Within this preamble of God with Israel, we see that it is based on covenants made with prior generations namely Adam, Noah and Abraham.   But covenant theology is for another time.

For those who know the introduction of Revelation, the imagery of Jesus Christ in this first chapter certainly accomplishes both fear and awe within John. While not a proof that this is truly a preamble, it does help to explain why the book's opening is so different from other prophetic writing and yet shares similarities with the law portion of the Old Testament,

The Preamble in Deuteronomy (1:1-5) begins: “These are the words . . .” l The text then identifies the speaker as Moses, who as mediator of the Covenant has been “commanded” to give and expound God’s “law” to Israel. “Yahweh is, therefore, the Suzerain who gives the covenant and Moses is his vicegerent and the covenant mediator. This section thus corresponds to the preamble of the extra-biblical treaties, which also identified the speaker, the one who by the covenant was declaring his lordship and claiming the vassal’s obedience.”2 The Preamble in Revelation begins with a similar expression: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants, the things that must shortly take place; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the Word of God and to the Testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (1:1-2). (DOV, 33)

This idea and my subsequent reading was nothing short of eye opening. If there truly is a link because of covenental structure, then a large portion of the "this must be the future" mindset needs to be set aside leaving room for a fair evaluation of covenental preterism or idealism.

Also, even though Chilton has not yet mention it (at least not up to the point that I've read so far), John does seem to have a fascination with the word witness. The Greek word is μαρτυρέω (martureō 3140) and  John uses it more than thirty times in his gospel and at least another ten times in his epistles. This will be an important word to understand in helping to explain the two witnesses that John will see later in Revelation.

Clearly a whole argument cannot be made from the first verse, but once the preterist viewpoint is deemed a possibility (something most individuals entrenched in futurism struggle to accept) it is easy to see why the opening verse can be the tipping point,

It is, emphatically, a revealing of its subject. Specifically, it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him – in other words, a revelation mediated by our Lord Himself (cf. Heb. 1:2), about the things that must shortly take place. The Revelation, therefore, is not concerned with either the scope of world history or the end of the world, but with events that were in the near future to St. John and his readers. As we shall see throughout the commentary, the Book of Revelation is a “covenant lawsuit,” prophesying the outpouring of God’s wrath on Jerusalem. (DOV, 33)

Some might wonder if such a strong tie between an emphasis on Jesus Christ and Jerusalem's destruction can really be maintained. The answer that will be shown is yes, it can be maintained. If a preterist application to Matthew 16:27-18; 24:1-34*; 26:59-64 is accepted then the coming in glory on clouds (aka revealing/revelation of Jesus Christ) is only for the purpose of judgment (Isaiah 19:1, 2 Thess 1:7-9).

The major problem those within the futurist camp experience is that this change in views alters many of the passages they commonly associate with the second coming of Christ. This only further proves that eschatology is only as unimportant as you're willing to make it. If all scripture is God breathed, then a proper understand of these texts is essential for reproof, correction and training in righteousness.

* I personally hold that everything through Matthew 25 was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem but don't need those verses within the context of this point.

New Testament Prophecy: John Gerstner

Basic Training for Defending the Faith: Introduction to Worldviews (Greg Bahnsen)