The days of vengeance
Preterists have misunderstood the sayings of Jesus, quoted by Luke, about “the days of vengeance,” and their teachings have a strong antisemitic flavor, or smell. Jesus said,
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
These “days of vengeance” were probably not the events of the first century, because not all things were fulfilled in the first century. Therefore, the above scripture must refer to some other time frame, and perhaps events of a different kind, and a different nature than the conflict at the earthly Jerusalem in 70 AD. Perhaps it does not refer to the earthly Jerusalem or the earthly Judea at all. Today, the heavenly Jerusalem is compassed on every side, by armies, which are not military in nature, but are armies nevertheless.
They are armies of people who seek to entice other Christians to accept their doctrines and beliefs. There are tens of thousands of denominations and sects, and various schools of interpretation of prophecy, eschatological views such as, Classical dispensationalism, Revised dispensationalism, Progressive dispensationalism, Mid-Acts dispensationalism, Ultra-dispensationalism, Partial preterism, Hyper-preterism, Transmillennialism, Historicism, and Idealism, etc. Every one of these can be considered an “army.”
Revelation 20:7-9 says that when Satan is loosed from his prison, he “shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
When did Gentiles begin to compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city? John refers to the church here, not the earthly Jerusalem. The assault must have begun very early in the church’s history. John said that the spirit of antichrist was already in the world. He wrote, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” [1 John 4:3]
Even in the first century, certain leaders in the church rejected the apostle John, although he was one of the disciples chosen by Jesus. John wrote, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” [3 John 1:9]
Jude wrote of men who sought to change “the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” or lawlessness, so denying Christ. “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” [vs. 4]
Paul said that he had sometimes been “in perils among false brethren.” [2 Corinthians 11:26]
Referring to Judaizers, he said they had come in to the church “unawares,” to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” trying to devise ways to bring the saints into bondage.
The phrase used by Jude, “certain men crept in unawares” is similar to the words of Paul, “false brethren unawares brought in.”
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Paul told the elders at Ephesus, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” [Acts 20:30]
The apostle Peter wrote a long diatribe against false teachers, contained in 2 Peter 2. He said, “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” [2 Peter 2:2] It was not merely the few, but many, who would be deceived. He said: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” [vs. 3]
He especially condemned those who “walk after the flesh.”
2 Peter 2:10
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
He compared these false teachers to animals, such as dogs, and swine. He said, “But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;” [2 Peter 2:12]
A dog, by nature, returns to its vomit; a swine, by nature, wallows in the mire after being washed; and so in the early centuries of the Christian era, some men, after hearing the gospel, returned to their pagan philosophy, and to the doctrines of Plato, and to doctrines of gnosticism, and to other heresies, and to pagan beliefs and superstition, such as the idea of unending infernal torment of unbelievers.
According to a Wikipedia article, Augustine’s doctrines may have been influenced by his previous involvement in Manichaeism.
Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) converted to Christianity from Manichaeism, in the year 387. This was shortly after the Roman Emperor Theodosius I had issued a decree of death for Manichaeans in AD 382 and shortly before he declared Christianity to be the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire in 391. … Some modern scholars have suggested that Manichaean ways of thinking influenced the development of some of Augustine’s ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of hell, the separation of groups into elect, hearers, and sinners, and the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity. How Manichaeism may have influenced Christianity continues to be debated.
Peter’s connecting certain traits of false teachers to this peculiar behavior of dogs, and of swine, were not merely to castigate. There is a significant clue hidden in his words; they suggest that many of the doctrines that have became established in the church originated as “vomit” and “mire,” to which certain false teachers returned.
In other scriptures, false teachers are compared to wolves, and lions, animals which prey on sheep.
The prophecy of Revelation 9 describes a plague of horses and horsemen. These horses have tails which are serpents.
Isaiah interpreted the symbol of a “tail:” “The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.” [Isaiah 9:15]
The horses are symbolic too–they represent people who have no understanding. David wrote: “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” [Psalm 32:9]
According to John’s prophecy in Revelation 9, about the 2nd woe, horses, (people with no understanding), and their riders, (which may perhaps be their creeds, or their leaders), comprise a vast army of about 200,000,000. This is a plague and a great “woe.” They seem to correspond to the hordes of Gog and Magog, deceived people from all parts of the earth who “compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city.”
The heavenly Jerusalem is “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” [Hebrews 11:10] For centuries the church has been dwelling in harmony with the nations, except in the Muslim world. In the end of the age, the dragon in Revelation 12, who is Satan, makes war with the saints. [Revelation 12:17] The “days of vengeance” Luke 21:28 refers to God’s vengeance upon the false teachers in Christendom, who oppose the saints, and the heavenly city, and is not referring to events in Jerusalem in 70 AD.