Yesterday, I posted a piece on immediate and secondary fulfillments for biblical prophecy. It’s a valid interpretive tool, in my estimation, and we highlighted the fact with the well known Isaiah 7.
Now, to something more difficult.
The reason the subject emerged was a few conversations on Matthew 24, and my preterist view on the subject. (That is, I believe the future events Jesus was prophesying there have already occurred.) In suggesting that Matthew 24 had already been fulfilled, the question arose: “Do you believe that prophecy can have two fulfillments?”
And, yes, my answer is “yes.”
But I will approach any still future fulfillment of such prophetic material with great caution. And I will focus my energies not on trying to determine those future objects of the prophetic, but on understanding as best I can the historical elements of such prophetic material. I take this approach because God’s prophetic words tend not to mean what I think they mean when I hear them first.
Personally, I cannot count the number of times I have received a prophetic word from someone I trust, been excited and encouraged by it, and yet found that the fulfillment had little to do with how I first interpreted it. That’s not to say that the fulfillment was discouraging, just different than expected.
So then, with Matthew 24, do I believe Jesus was anticipating the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD? Yes, absolutely. Do I also believe he could have been referring to some other, greater and far-distant future event? Yes, it’s possible. Do I have any idea what that future event will really look like? I think if I said “yes,” I’d be certain to discover myself mistaken whenever it might actually come about.