Did Jesus come back in AD 70?
I have a friend who is growingly convinced that Jesus has already returned (fall of the temple 70 AD). I have been seeking
to understand his point of view and while it answers some questions it presents a myriad of others. Do you have any thoughts that you might be able to share?
One point for your friend. If Jesus came back in AD 70, fulfilling passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, that would be a very suprising thing because we know from church writings that no one in the church at that time believed Jesus came back in AD 70. This will include the apostle John who wrote his gospel, letters and the book of Revelation all after AD 70. If John did not believe that Jesus had come back–indeed in Revelation 22 he calls for Jesus to come back soon in a letter written after AD 70, that would mean that Revelation is in error. This theory presupposes that a person living in the twenty-first century is in a better position that John who was an inspired teacher and who knew Jesus himself to judge whether the events of AD 70 are the second coming of Jesus. This is simply not logical.
I think the reason that people can get caught in this error is that not many understand the idea of "The Day of the Lord." This idea is taught in a great number of places in the Old Testament, even if it is not literally labeled so every time. The Day of the Lord is a time when God comes and works miraculously to bring judgment. When Jerusalem was destroyed, that was a "Day of the Lord," as was the destruction of Samaria in 722 BC. God calls his judgment on Edom (Joel) a Day of the Lord. I do not doubt that one can use passages such as Daniel 9 to show that what happened in AD 70 is "The Day of the Lord." The reason is that it IS a Day of the Lord. Premillenialists, unfortunately, have a very loose idea about the Day of the Lord. They tend to take every OT prophecy of God coming and put it into the future. Either that or they put it wherever it fits their little theory.
In an extremely limited sense your friend is right that Jesus came in judgment in AD 70. It was a Day of the Lord and Jesus is Lord. This was a judment, not on the whole world, but only on the Jews. It was like many other Days of the Lord, but not the second coming of Jesus. If you read Matthew 24:30-35 or any of a number of passages about the second coming of Jesus, it becomes completely obvious that these prophecies about the second and final coming of Jesus to judge the world does not at all fit the events of AD 70. It is not a limited physical judgment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus (as prophesied in Daniel 9), but a judgment of the whole world, after which God will bring in a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21).
I hope this helps.