“…and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”Revelation 22:1
While preterism is about the past, it also concerns the present and the future. Preterism is more than an academic exercise. It is a transformation of how we view the world. The tree of life, which we believe is presently accessible, can heal the nations by revealing the power of nonviolence, reminding us to care for the environment, and leading us to care for the fatherless and the widows.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, there were those teaching that the coming of the Lord had already taken place:
that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.2 Thessalonians 2:2
The term “has come” is in the perfect tense. This indicates three things: the action is past, it has come to a culmination, and stands as a completed result” (Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek). Or you could say it is a completed past action that has ongoing results.
The coming of the Lord, therefore, is not just an event that takes place and is no longer useful for us today, but it is a completed past action that has ongoing results and implications for the future.
This is what I mean by “the future of preterism.”
Three ways the tree of life can heal the nations:
- Nonviolent heavenly kingdom: the story of Revelation is the conflict between the zealots who attempted to defeat Rome by returning violence for violence and the heavenly kingdom who submitted to death like their king, and, in doing so, triumphed over all nations and all persecutors. We can apply these same principles in our world to bring about God’s will to everyone and not just a few select people.
- The Environment: one of the implications of preterism is that the earth is not going to end in fulfillment of any prophecy. This should lead us to take better care of this wonderful creation. I used to say that the only global warming we should worry about is the global warming of 2 Peter 3. Now I see that we need to focus our attention on caring for God’s creation.
- The fatherless and the widows: preterism exposes the uselessness of approaching God through one’s own merits because of its connection of the Law with the flesh. This should, but doesn’t always, turn one even more into a practitioner of true religion: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).