Preterism is irreconcilable with both Jewish and Christian eschatology. Although it attempts to answer some questions regarding end-time events, it ultimately raises far more. I have some friends who are preterists and communicating with them is one of the most frustrating endeavors I’ve ever experienced in discussing religion with anyone.
One problem for them is explaining a vast array of prophecies in the scriptures that haven’t come close to fulfillment. They believe Jesus returned in the first century, but to what end? If so, it accomplished nothing. It simply put mankind on a never-ending course into the future, with no Millennium, no judgment, no end to the evil that exists on the earth. In short, to assume that prophecy runs to a certain point in time and then ceases makes no sense.
According to the ancient prophets, the time would come when Jerusalem would be ravaged and Judah would be scattered to the four corners of the earth. That happened in 76 A.D. In the latter days, the Jews would be gathered to their ancestral home and rebuild their temple. In Revelation 11, John is instructed:
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
This is not the second, or Herod’s, temple. It’s a temple that would exist after the return of the Jews. Since the second temple was destroyed at the time of this writing (or so scholars tell us), we can place it in context to the latter-day coming of the beast, or Antichrist. The kingdom of the beast will place Jerusalem under siege for 3.5 years, or roughly 42 months. During that time, God will empower two prophets to defend the holy city. Again, John writes:
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
I’ve never quite understood how the Jehovah’s Witnesses can miss the nature of this prophecy. Although the scripture states specifically and unequivocally that the city will be “where...our Lord was crucified,” Watchtower writers agree that this is a spiritual reference, not actually Jerusalem. And though John explicitly explains that these two prophets are two actual people (who were symbolized by Zechariah as two olive trees and two candlesticks), the Watchtower takes it to a third tier of prophecy where the prophets themselves represent something other than literal people. And Jerusalem, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, represents a third tier of prophecy where Jerusalem, in turn, stands for something else entirely.
After about 84 hours, the apostle writes, something remarkable will happen:
And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake....
The earthquake, of course, is caused by Jesus, who is descending from heaven to the Mount of Olives. Here we pick up from Zechariah 14, where the Jerusalem is under siege and is on the verge of toppling. Then the Lord enters the fray:
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
Notice how the one descending is specifically referred to as “the Lord.” This is the Second Coming of Christ, and Christ is specifically referred to as “Jehovah” in the NWT:
Jehovah will go out and war against those nations as when he fights in the day of a battle. In that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in half, from east to west, forming a very great valley; and half of the mountain will move to the north, and half of it to the south.You will flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains will extend all the way to A′zel. You will have to flee, just as you fled because of the earthquake in the days of King Uz·zi′ah of Judah. And Jehovah my God will come, and all the holy ones will be with him.
The situation is the same mentioned by John. Jerusalem will suffer a devastating attack. After 3.5 years, the enemy will break through and kill the two prophets. Afterwards, when the prophets resurrect, there will be a horrendous earthquake, and the prophets will ascend to meet the returning Jehovah, or Christ. It all fits like a wonderful puzzle, but the Jehovah’s Witnesses completely obfuscate matters by telling their people it’s all spiritual and invisible. The prophets represent this and Jerusalem represents that, and nothing is what it appears.
The same is true for the preterists. Their “fulfilled eschatology” cannot explain the fulfillment of the above prophecies (because they haven’t happened yet). Bible students can make up their own minds. If they want to know exactly what will happen in this last great battle before the Millennium, check out Ezekiel 38 - 39 .