Typology and Covenant Eschatology

By Don K. Preston

 Does realized eschatology violate a fundamental law of Biblical typology? According to Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier, March 1991, it does. This article, the second in a series written to review Jackson’s diatribe, will seek to demonstrate that covenant eschatology is correct in asserting that the flood of Noah was indeed a type of the destruction which fell on the Jewish world in A.D.70; and th-at Jackson has ignored or overlooked emphatic Biblical statements which completely refute his contention.

     Our friend quotes several sources in defining a Biblical type. He correctly notes “there must be a genuine point of resemblance between type and antitype.” In addition he notes the type always progresses “from the lesser to the greater;” and “The type is divine truth on a lower stage…in the antitype truth appears on a higher stage” as Fairbairn observes.

     We would note first of all that some of the very sources he cites held that the flood was a type of the destruction of Jerusalem. In his Biblical Apocalyptics p. 226-227, as well as “Biblical Hermeneutics” p. 443, Milton S. Terry unquestionably teaches the flood was a type of [TD: but not only of] the fall of Jerusalem. Thus, while Jackson cites Terry as supportive, in fact, Terry was opposed to Jackson’s position. Furthermore, Fairbairn, in Prophecy (Baker, 1976, p. 446), after commenting on Matthew 16:28 and applying it primarily to 70 AD insists that Luke 17 “must be viewed also as having its primary reference to the same period–since if referred to the final advent, the practical exhortations…would not be practical  [TD: in this precise location, Fairbairn applied both Matthew 16:27-28 and Luke 17 to “the manifestation of Christ’s divine power after His ascension” — including “the wonders of Pentecost,” apostolic healings, etc.]

     It is apparent then that while Jackson denies that Jerusalem’s fall was the antitype of the flood, the very sources which he cites believed the very opposite!

     The Flood and Luke 17

     Jackson says “the great flood of Noah’s day is employed as a type of the judgment day and the end of the world on several occasions.” He cites Luke 17 as one example. While we happily concur that Luke 17 speaks of the flood as a type of judgment and the end of the world, the question is, “What world is it speaking of?” If we can demonstrate that Luke 17 cannot be referent to the end of time then one of Jackson’s main arguments will have been destroyed.

     Luke 17:22-37 speaks of the time “when the son of man is revealed.” To Jackson this can only mean the end of time. But look closer.

     In verse 23 Jesus says it would be when men would be saying “Look here!”; insisting the Lord had already come. This is parallel to Matthew 24:26, a passage Jackson admits happened before A.D.70. (For proof of a first century fulfillment of Jesus’ words see II Thessalonians 2:2II Timothy 2:18ff.) How then can he escape the conclusion that Luke and Matthew speak of the same period of time? Will Jackson hold that in the days just prior to the end of time there will be those saying “Look here!”? If he thus teaches then this constitutes nothing less than a SIGN of the last days. Yet Jackson teaches there will be no such signs, (Christian Courier, Nov. 1980.)

     Luke records Jesus as giving this warning about the day when the Son of Man is revealed “On that day let not the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house go down to take them away; and likewise let not the one who is in the field turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” Now in Jackson’s concept of the end of time these warnings become patently ridiculous!

     His concept of that supposed situation is that it will happen instantaneously; with no warning, no possibility of escape. But Jesus is undeniably telling his disciples there would be opportunity to escape; that is if they did not look back as did “Mrs. Lot.” This unquestionably fits the scenario of the Jewish war of 66-70 (cf. Matthew 24:15ff) but absolutely precludes reference to any end of time scenario. This being true, and it also being true that Luke says what he describes would be as it was in the days of Noah, it therefore follows that Luke 17, in describing the days of the Jewish war says those events would be antitypical of the flood of Noah.

     Luke 17:28 says “wherever the body is there the eagles will be gathered.” This is the parallel to Matthew 24:28–once again a text which Jackson applies to A.D.70. It is viewed by most scholars as referring to the vultures gathering to feast on the dead of the Jewish war; or a figurative reference to the Roman standards with their eagles as the Romans surrounded the “corpse” of Judaism. In either view it cannot refer to an end of time scenario. If Jackson applies it to the end of time he must explain how there will be birds of prey alive after “the earth and all things therein are burned up.” Further compounding Jackson’s problems with this verse is its association with Revelation 19:17ff where the birds of heaven are called to the “Great Supper of God.” The problem for Jackson is that John says in no uncertain terms that the things he saw “must shortly come to pass;” “for the time is at hand.” It takes a good bit of “elastic” to stretch “shortly” and “at hand” into 2000+ years!

     Here is Jackson’s dilemma; he applies Luke 17:22ff to the end of time. Yet three verses from that text, vss. 23,31,37 are direct parallels to Matthew 24:263128 respectively; and Jackson applies each of those Matthean verses to 70 A.D.. He must now explain why these verses in Luke do not refer to the same thing.

     Luke speaks of those who would come saying the Lord had come. This constitutes a sign of the impending destruction. Yet Jackson denies there will be any signs of the end. Therefore to be consistent he cannot apply Luke 17 to the end of time.

     The Lukan passage teaches there would be opportunity to escape the coming catastrophe by not coming down off the roof or out of the fields; Jackson does not believe there will be any opportunity to flee in his concept of the end of time.

     Jackson must explain why Luke’s reference to the eagles does not have the same application as Matthew, i.e., literal birds of prey feeding on the dead; or an army surrounding a condemned nation. Neither of these views is consistent with his view of the end of time. Our brother’s dilemma is serious indeed.

     Since Luke 17 teaches that what it speaks of is antitypical of the Flood, and since what Luke describes is parallel to Matthew’s discussion of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70, we conclude that Luke 17 teaches the fall of Jerusalem in 70 was the antitype of the Flood.

     From The Lesser To The Greater

     Jackson expends much ink on laying the groundwork for his final conclusion. He speaks at length of the type being the lesser and the antitype being the greater. (This is of course true when the nature of the lesser and greater is properly understood.) He then draws his conclusion that if the fall of Jerusalem was the antitype of the flood “a fundamental law of Bible typology has been violated because in such a case the universal flood would serve as a type of the LOCAL destruction of Jerusalem. The greater would typify the lesser!”

     It is apparent that Jackson believes that the type must be PHYSICALLY inferior in scale; the antitype must be PHYSICALLY/OUTWARDLY superior in scale.

     Does our brother believe the Lord’s Supper is the antitype of the Passover? Most assuredly! But which of the two was PHYSICALLY more imposing; which was grander on an OUTWARD scale? In the Passover there were four cups taken, there was a full-fledged meal; there was the standing for the meal while dressed for a journey, etc. etc.. The Lord’s Supper by contrast is quite mundane. There is no full meal; one need not be dressed for a long journey; there is but a simple unleavened bread and cup of the fruit of the vine. Now if the Lord’s Supper is the antitype of the Passover in what way is the Communion greater? IT IS GREATER IN MEANING DESPITE THE SMALLER SCALE OF THE OUTWARD EXPRESSION! Per our brother’s logic (?) however, the Lord’s Supper is “a violation of a fundamental law of Bible typology” since the greater (Passover) would typify the lesser (Communion)!

     What about the temple? The beautiful edifice which stood in Jesus’ day was truly awesome. Overlaid with gold, constructed of white marble and cedar, Josephus says it was like seeing a mountain of gold rise out of the desert. The temple, at least the Holy Place, was typical of the church, Hebrews 8-9. Now which of the two was more impressive outwardly, physically, when the book of Hebrews was written? Was the church, made up of slaves and the downtrodden, as it was persecuted from city to city more impressive than the temple at Jerusalem? Not to the physical eye. To the observer that physical edifice was far more splendid than the despised and persecuted band of Christians.

     In spite of the outward expression of magnificence, however, the temple at Jerusalem was nothing compared to the antitypical beauty of the church of the living God. See Hebrews 12:22ff. Will Jackson say the church was not the antitype of the Holy Place; will he insist that since the outward manifestation of the Jerusalem temple exceeded the outward glory of the church that a fundamental principal of Bible typology has been violated? Or will he acknowledge that the progression from type to antitype is a progression in significance, in meaning? Or perhaps we could more accurately express it in the words of Fairbairn; “The typical (antitypical, DKP) is not properly a different or higher sense, but a different or higher APPLICATION of the same sense.” (Typology of Scripture, Baker, p.3.)

     The real question is: Was the destruction of Jerusalem greater than the Flood? Was there in some sense a progression from the lesser to the greater; from type to antitype between the Flood and Jerusalem’s catastrophic demise? (Reader, if you get nothing else from this entire article please pay special attention to the following words from our Lord and compare them with Jackson’s claims.)

     In Matthew 24:21 our Lord described the Great Tribulation of the Jewish War. Here are his words:

     “for then there will be a great tribulation such

     as had not occurred since the beginning of the world

     until now, nor ever shall.”

     Let it be clearly understood that our friend Wayne Jackson emphatically and undeniably applies these words to the Jewish war and fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70. In the Courier of February 1977 Jackson, writing against Hal Lindsey’s view of Matthew 24 argues, “Matthew 24:4-34 deals with the signs which would be preliminary to the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem.”

     It is of interest to wonder about Jackson’s response to the millennial interpretation of Matthew 24:21. That school of interpretation insists the Jewish war simply cannot have been the Great Tribulation, i.e., the greatest from creation ever onward, because in World War II over six million Jews perished. This loss of life was greater on a physical/numeric basis than the fall of 70, therefore the fall of 70 cannot be the Great Tribulation. We wonder how our brother will respond. Would our brother insist that one not be so concerned about the numbers as the MEANING, the SIGNIFICANCE? Would he tell the millennialist his literalistic approach ignores the deeper spiritual significance of the fall of the Jewish capital? If this is our brother’s response, (and reader this IS his response!) upon what basis can he ignore the greater spiritual significance of the destruction of Jerusalem and emphasize the physical nature of the universal Flood? How can he tell the millennialist to ignore the physical and center on the spiritual and yet when arguing against Covenant Eschatology make the very argument which he has condemned the millennialist for making?!?

     Now here is a dilemma; Jesus said the destruction of Jerusalem was to be the greatest tribulation the world had ever or ever would see. Jackson says the Flood, because it was universal, was greater than the fall of Jerusalem, which was, so he says, local. (For a discussion of the cosmic import of the fall of Jerusalem see our article “A Local Judgment” in the September, 1990 issue of this paper.)

     Since Jesus maintained that Jerusalem’s fall would be the greatest tribulation ever it is easy to see that it would indeed be the antitype of the flood. Since the type progresses from the lesser to the greater and since Jesus said the fall of Jerusalem would be the greatest event ever how can we fail to see the progression from the less (the Flood) to the greater (Jerusalem’s fall)?

     It should be obvious that the progression from the lesser to the greater in Biblical typology is a progression in significance, in meaning; not in outward manifestation.

The Flood And The Fall: A Comparison

     In what way was the fall of Jerusalem so significant, even more significant than the Flood? One has only to understand a little about Jerusalem and what it meant to the Jew to understand the answer to this question.

     Jerusalem was the only place in all the world where acceptable worship could be offered, cf. Deuteronomy 12. But when Jerusalem was destroyed Jesus’ words that the Holy Mountain was no longer the exclusive center of acceptable worship were powerfully demonstrated, John 4.

     At the temple were kept all the genealogies of Israel. The significance of these genealogies to the heart of Israel cannot be over-emphasized. Joachim Jeremias, in his Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (Fortress Press, 1987, p.302.), concludes his discussion of how the genealogies were viewed; “On this question of racial purity hung not only the social position of their descendants, but indeed their final assurance of salvation, their share in the future redemption of Israel.” The hope of Messiah, the foundation of nationality, the link to the past, the hope for the future were bound up with the genealogies. But in 70 they were destroyed forever. Did anything even remotely as spiritually significant as this happen in the Flood?

     For 1500 years the Jews had been the Chosen Ones. But in 70 Jehovah signaled the termination of his exclusive relationship with that nation, Matthew 21:43. Did God terminate a longstanding covenantal relationship in the Flood?

     Jerusalem was the only place on earth where proper sacrifices could be offered. But with the demise of the temple and destruction of the genealogies there was no longer a priesthood, temple, or altar for those sacrifices.

     The fall of Jerusalem VINDICATED the claims of Jesus as Messiah, VINDICATED the faith of a church undergoing persecution, Revelation 6:9ff; IDENTIFIED the Church as the true priesthood, the true temple, the true Israel, the true children of God, Romans 8:14-25; CONSUMMATED the revelation of the Lord, Acts 2:15ff; TERMINATED the miraculous age, I Corinthians 1:4-8AND MUCH MORE!


     Our examination of our friend’s article on Typology has revealed some very important facts.

     First, while Jackson appeals to certain sources to define a type, we have seen that those very sources, at least some of them, teach that the fall of Jerusalem in 70 was the antitype of the Flood. It would seem that if Jackson is going to appeal to these sources for the definition of a type he must also accept their application.

     The real progression in types and antitypes is application of meaning. Typology does not demand that the antitype be larger in outward manifestation. The antitype is more meaningful, more significant. This is precisely what the sources cited by Jackson indicate. Yet our brother nonetheless emphasizes that outward contrast between the universal flood and the fall of Jerusalem.

     On Luke 17 our brother has overlooked or ignored the fact that three verses from that section, one from the beginning, one from the middle, one from the end, are directly parallel to verses in Matthew which he insists apply exclusively to the fall of Jerusalem. How can he insist the language of Matthew refers exclusively to “in time events” and insist the identical language in Luke refers exclusively to “end of time events?!?

     We have seen that when dealing with millennialists Jackson uses the very argument herein stated by us in regard to the Great Tribulation; i.e., one must not emphasize the outward but instead focus on the spiritual meaning of the fall of Jerusalem when interpreting Matthew 24:21. When arguing against realized eschatology he then makes the premillennial argument.

     We believe we have well demonstrated from scripture that the fall of Jerusalem was indeed the antitype of the Flood. Jackson’s argument therefore that Matthew 24, Luke 17, II Peter 3 cannot be speaking of A.D. 70 is false.


     Simply put the choice is whether to choose Jackson’s appraisal of the insignificance of the fall of Jerusalem or Jesus’ inspired word. Personally, that is no tough choice for this scribe! We humbly call on our friend and all others to stop kicking against the goad and accept the Word and not tradition!

What do YOU think ?

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07 Apr 2004


I don’t know who Mr. Jackson is but he is obviously a partial “preterist” or should I say confused futurist. And once again the arbitrary hermeneutic of the partial preterist is found wanting. In the end it pays it’s homage to the vain and empty traditions of men and not to Christ. Probably a good opportunity to get into 1 Peter 3:20-22 to demonstrate exegetically the typological significance. Perhaps there is another article on that passage somewhere else. Good argumentation by Don once again. Mike Sullivan

Date: 18 Apr 2009
Time: 10:10:43

Your Comments:

we need to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord continually that their eyes would be opened to fullfilled eschatology. thanks, c.h.

Date: 18 Nov 2012
Time: 18:57:39

Your Comments:

I believe there is yet another passage in Isaiah 54 which compares Jerusalem’s fall to Noah’s flood. One must read the entire chapter to see the connection to Jerusalem, but the verses that directly mention the flood are 8 – 10. “In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
And it goes on to describe what sounds exactly like Revelation’s vision of the New Jerusalem after these verses.
I interpret this comparison to Noah’s flood to mean that, once God brought judgement in 70 AD, his vengeance for the rejection of Christ by that generation was satisfied.
For anyone who does not think that this period in 70 AD was the penultimate on the scale of judgement intensity, they are discounting the demonic activity at large in the city of Jerusalem especially during the final 5 month period at the very end.

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