(25) And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, (26) people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (27) And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (28) Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:25–28 ESV)
Preterists claim that this passage was fulfilled in Israel/Jerusalem (or by extension the Roman world) in AD 70 with God’s judgment upon Israel. I want to make some brief remarks on why their claim is simply wrong:
1. The locals in Jerusalem are not in view in this passage. In contrast, it is a global picture of the inhabitants of the world: “what is coming on the world.” That is, the imminent day of the Lord’s wrath. This never happened, contra preterism.
2. There was no judgment upon the world in AD 70, or if one sees “the world” as the “Roman world,” there was no divine judgment upon the Roman world. So preterists are factually wrong on that score if they extend judgment to the Roman world. In addition, there was never a fulfillment of “distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves.” Let alone a response to it: “people fainting with fear and with foreboding.”
3. It was never fulfilled that the world recognized God’s divine wrath against themselves: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
4. Finally, preterism fails to explain how the following could be fulfilled: “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” There is nothing remotely that happened in AD 70 that could explain this redemptive event in the context of the cluster of these other events.
5. To reinforce the global-eschatological context, verse 35 reads, “For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” Nope, never happened. Still future.
I could add more, but these points are sufficient.
The only way preterists can get around the events in this passage is through spiritualizing this language. But if they do that, then they have lost, since anyone can make anything say what they would like. They may reason, “It did not really happen this ‘literal’ therefore we have to spiritualize it.” Perhaps they just simply need to reconsider that it is still in the future.
The flaw of preterism is that their interpretations lacks meaningful explanatory power on texts such as this one that depict an eschatological-global consummation of the world.
But let the truth be known, that in the future the celestial-terrestial disturbances will cause “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.”
The opposite reaction will be true believers who are called to “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”