The following passage troubles me regarding your preterist position. It states that Israel will one day be converted, and only then will the great tribulation begin (according to the order of verses following Matt 23:39). That verse reads: “For I say to you, from now on you shall not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” How does the preterist respond to this?
Dr. Gentry’s response:
This passage often appears as an objection to a preterist reading of Matthew 24, in that it seems to suppose Israel will one day be converted and then the great tribulation will transpire. But this statement does not suppose a future conversion (though I believe Rom 11 does suppose such).
- The word “for” connects this statement with the preceding context. The preceding context is one of unrelenting denunciation, ending with judgment. The “for” must indicate something less than a spiritual praise of Christ and acceptance by God.
- The phrase “from now on” is indefinite, holding out only an indefinite possibility. Thus, it does not declare as a matter of fact: “you will see me.” Jesus is denouncing the Jews, not offering them hope, for:
- If this pointed to a blessing, it would be out of character in the flow of the narrative all the way from 23:1 through chapter 24. Any sudden idea of Israel’s praising Jesus is totally contrary to the text, see especially 23:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37.
- The praise here (“blessed is he who comes”) is not necessarily a voluntary, loving praise. It could well be a constrained praise, as in Phil 2:10-11 and Rom 14:11. Given the context, it appears to be constrained and with reluctance.