How many times have you been told that the abomination of desolation, as well as the great tribulation, in Matthew 24:15–21 is not an event that will be fulfilled in the future? Many times.
Most amillennialists and historical premillennialists think that the abomination of desolation in Matt 24:15 was caused by Titus in AD 70. They will also take a historicist interpretation maintaining that the great tribulation mentioned in that passage refers to general persecution during the span of the interadvent church age.
Unlike the full preterists who place the second coming (parousia) mentioned in Matt 24:27–31 as already having occurred in AD 70, the historicist interpreter believes that the second coming in Matt 24:27–31 remains a future event.
So here is the key question to ask the historicist:
Do you believe that the great tribulation that you say was caused by Titus in AD 70 will continue to happen until the second coming?
At this point if they say “no,” mention to them that Jesus links that great tribulation with the second coming with these words: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . .” (Matt 24:29).
They cannot get around those explicit words consistently.
At this point, they may begin to equivocate and generalize saying something like, “the great tribulation is an event that Christians have always been experiencing persecution and will do so until the second coming.”
Your next step is to point out two facts to this person:
(1) Jesus does not generalize the great tribulation but rather he specifically points back to the actual event of the great tribulation caused by the abomination of desolation: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matt 24:29).
The beginning of the great tribulation is linked to the end of it: “For then there will be great tribulation . . . Immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matt 24:21, 29).
(Incidentally, the use of “immediately” suggests strongly that this is a short, intense event, not something that has been going on for 2,000 years).
(2) And follow this up with this point: The great tribulation that you say was caused by Titus cannot be the same event that Christians today are experiencing. That is, persecuted Christians today are not being persecuted by Titus. Therefore, the great tribulation is not an interadvent event.
In addition, the so-called interadvent great tribulation cannot have been going on for 2,000 years, since it is described as unequaled: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Matt 24:21). That would be absurd. The unprecedented event of persecution is pointing to a specific event, not some “general” persecution for 2,000 years.
At this point, they see will see their position is untenable, and even absurd. Or they will double down on their view.
The historicist cannot have their cake and eat it too. To be consistent, either you must affirm full preterism and believe that the three events—the abomination of desolation, great tribulation, and the second coming—have already been fulfilled in the past in AD 70. Or you must affirm futurism that the three events are still to be fulfilled in the future.