Is there any truth of historicism? It is the belief that the prophetic events on Revelation, Daniel, Matthew, etc. repeat over time. Some believe that the events which have already taken place will occur again in greater magnitude. The holocaust (3.5 years) was just foreshadowing the events of the true Great Tribulations (Second half of the 7 years, 3.5 years). Before this discovery, I was a firm believer that the majority of the events have already taken place, but this has scared me a great deal. please reply as soon as you can.
Good question! First of all, no matter what, do not be "scared" by all this. Here is why. What one believes about the end times and the interpretation of future prophecy is not a matter of salvation. Your place with God is not affected by whether or not you are right on this issue. Think about it. What scripture tells you that one’s beliefs about the meaning of some prophecy in Revelation determines whether you are saved or not? None! I do not mean to say that this is an unimportant question. It IS important, but it is not an essential of Christianity. Take a deep breath. Your beliefs on this subject are probably correct alreaday, but even if they were not, your Christianity is not at stake.
Now, as to your question, it is hard to say with absolute certainty whether a prophecy which has already been fulfilled will have a secondary fullfillment in the future. For example, in Daniel chapter 8, there is a prophecy of a then-future "tribulation" which was without a doubt fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in 167-164 BC. Might there be some sort of parallel fullment in the future? My guess is almost certainly no because of the details in the prophecy which were fulfilled in a very precise way in the time of Antiochus which are extremely unlikely to be repeated. Am I absolutely positive that Daniel 8 does not also refer to a still-future event? No. The same applies to the book of Revelation. John tells us that the vision he saw was of things which would "soon take place." (Revelation 1:1). I believe that nearly the entire prophetic content in the book of Revelation has been fulfilled during the time of Rome. I believe this, both because the events fit the prophecy and because the author tells us that the events would soon take place. Is there some parallel future fulfillment still to take place? In my opinion no, but with future fulfillments it is probably always wise to not make absolute statements. The best way to interpret prophecy is to let the fulfillment happen and then look back. Trying to interpret prophecy as applying to one’s future is very dubious and perhaps even dangerous. The history of Christians interpreting Daniel or Ezekiel or Revelation as applying to their own times is a story of complete failure. We should learn from history on this and stop trying to interpret present events as a fulfillment of some passage in Isaiah or Zechariah being fulfilled in our times.
Having said all that negative stuff about these folks who look to future fulfillment of prophecies in Revelation and other books, I believe that they are not absolutely shooting in the dark. What I mean is that there are some examples of Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in more than one way. The prophecy in Daniel of an abomination of desolation in the temple was fulfilled both in 167 BC and in AD 70. Hosea has God saying "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Hosea 11:1). This was fulfilled when Israel came out of captivity under Moses. It was also true of some of the Jews who went down into Egypt in the time of Jeremiah. Additionally, it was true of Jesus himself, in that his parents escaped into Egypt in the time Herod tried to kill the future Messiah. Other prophecies with at least a double fulfillment include Zechariah 14 and Matthew 24. Many more can be listed.
What I am saying is that it is not outrageous or wrong by definition to propose that historicism can be used to predict on general principle that some of the prophecies in Revelantion, Daniel and Matthew have both a past fulfillment and a future fulfillment. In the case of Matthew 24 I believe that Jesus is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem and the return of Jesus, for example. However, it is when these folks do what they love to do, which is to make very specific predictions about the future that they are almost without a doubt wrong. You would do well to dismiss such teachings as those found in the Left Behind series and in the popular radio preaching with regard to end times. Such teaching is popular. For some it is exciting. For others it is a cause of much fear.
Let me use one specific example. You mention that some teacher claimed that the holocaust (3.5 years) was just foreshadowing the events of the true Great Tribulations (second of the 7 years, 3.5 years). This is sheer nonsense. This is a perfect example of someone scanning history to find a neat story to tell and abusing scripture. First of all, the Holocaust did not last for 3.5 years. This is a historical distortion. Second of all, it is EXTREMELY unlikely that the holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis is the fulfillment of any specific prophecy in the Old Testament. Thirdly, where does this teacher get the idea that seven years is split into two equal units of 3.5 years? Next, where is the prophecy that some seven year stretch is split into two 3.5 year units, separated by some unspecified time period? And lastly, where is the prophecy of this supposed Great Tribulation??? This is blatant nonsense. Even if one could buy one of the four points in his argument (extremely dubious–all four are not supported by scripture), to accept all four of his arguments in succession–each of which is a huge stretch of scripture anyway–is to lose all credulity. In other words a line of reasoning based on four successive very weak arguments is itself something which a rational person cannot accept.
These end-time preachers are, in general, not helping their hearers to go to heaven or to become like Jesus. Perhaps they are perfectly sincere. However, they are swerving the attention of their hearers away from the important matters: righteousness, becoming like Jesus, being close to God, reaching the world for Christ and so forth. My advice to you is to not get side-tracked by such teaching. I would not propose a total ban on such material, but I suggest you spend little if any time listening to sermons or reading books by these folks.
John Oakes, PhD