The Premillennial Faith
THE PREMILLENNIAL FAITH
The Premillennial Faith is that the Coming of Christ at the end of this Gospel Age is to be followed by His visible reign over the nations of the world, before the final resurrection of the wicked and the creation of new heavens and earth This, we believe, is what John clearly teaches in chapters nineteen to twenty-one of the Apocalypse. To believe this is not to commit oneself to the idea that the Cross was unnecessary, or that it was second-best to a proffered kingdom. Nor is it to believe that the Church was an afterthought, a mere parenthetical innovation. All such propositions we utterly reject We must confine ourselves to a discussion of leading ideas and points of difference.
THE CHURCH IS NOT ISRAEL
It is constantly declared that Israel was a type of the Church. The coming of the antitype has made the type obsolete. It is claimed that since Old Testament promises to Israel have been, and are being, fulfilled in the New Covenant people of God, there is no future for Israel as a nation. However, Paul is not of that persuasion "The great Spiritualizer", as Mauro calls him, gave us by inspiration Romans 2:28,29; Galatians 3:16,29; 4:22-31; 6:16; and Philippians 3:3. Yet he teaches us to expect great days for Israel (Rom. 11). We can seek to prove that the New Testament writers interpreted spiritually the Old Testament promises to Israel, and applied them to the church (see, for example, Prophecy and the Church by O. T. Allis). However, try as we will, we cannot get Paul to teach that the Christian Church has supplanted Israel. It was of "Israel according to the flesh" that he said, "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." The Jews are still "beloved for the fathers' sakes" (Rom. 9:3; 11:29, 28).
Those who believe otherwise seem to have totally missed the point and exhortation of the apostle concerning the "mystery" of Israel's partial and temporary judicial blindness (Rom. 11:7,25). But one cannot rightly interpret Paul's teaching in Romans nine to eleven, unless one clearly distinguishes between "the remnant" (11:5) and "the rest'' (11:7), and sees that "the rest' are yet to feature in God's programme of world salvation. John Murray declares, "It is the salvation of the mass of Israel that the apostle affirms" (Romans Vol. 2, p.98). The idea that is presented by Hendriksen and others, that "all Israel'' (Rom. 11:26) means the believing remnant plus all regenerate Gentiles, is untenable. Murray writes:
"It is of ethnic Israel Paul is speaking and Israel could not possibly include Gentiles" (p.96). He goes on to give sound reasons why the idea just stated is invalid. It is, he affirms, "exegetical violence" (p.97). There is a future for ethnic Israel. This is the Pauline teaching.
ISRAEL'S END-TIME CONVERSION
There are contemporary writers who exult in the future prospects of Israel, but fail to pin-point the time of her national conversion Paul associates the salvation of Israel with the Coming of the Deliverer or Redeemer (Rom. 11:26; Isa. 59:20,21). Zechariah enlarges our vision (12:9 - 14:9). It will be when the Lord destroys the nations at Armageddon (Zech. 12:9; 14:2-4; Ezek. 39:17-29; Rev. 16:14-16; 19:17-21). The Spirit of grace shall be poured upon the House of David (Zech. 12:10). Then they shall mourn with evangelical repentance, and there shall be a "a fountain opened to the House of David. . . for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). The Cross is ever the basis of its effectuation, but the taking away of Israel's sins awaits the "calling out of the Gentiles", it awaits the Second Coming of Christ (Rom. 11:26,27).
Seeing Christ risen and glorified was the means of Paul's conversion (Acts 9). The Jewish nation at the end-time of this age is to see Him too (Mt 23:39; Rev. 1:7). This latter citation has direct reference to Zechariah 12:10, and gives New Testament confirmation concerning the time of its fulfilment, namely, when Christ "cometh with clouds" (Rev. 1:7; Mt. 24:30; 26:64). Acts 1:11,12 and Zechariah 14:4 teach us that the Mount of Olives is to feature in Christ's Return. T. V. Moore's spiritualising of Jerusalem is unwarrantable, and leads to confusion. The predictions of Zechariah which had reference to our Lord's first advent (9:9; 11:13; 12:10; 13:6,7) were all literally fulfilled. We can rightly expect that those concerning His Second Coming will also be literally fulfilled. But why does Christ come to the Mount of Olives and to Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-39)? Because He has yet promises to fulfil concerning the Jews, and not a shred of New Testament revelation is available to teach us the contrary!
DANIEL'S SEVENTY WEEKS
The prophecy has to do entirely with the Jew and Jerusalem (9:24). But has it passed completely into history, or is it partly unfulfilled? The main question concerns the subject of 9:27, "he shall confirm the covenant" Young and Allis consider him to be Christ, who by His death caused a covenant to prevail (Covenant of Grace), and the Jewish sacrifices to cease. This is to argue that the commencement of the "week" is synchronous with the middle of the "week". Is that possible? Again, our Lord never made, confirmed, or caused to prevail, any covenant for a mere seven years. His Cross-work is in view in Daniel 9:26a, not 9:27.
A further problem with this view respects the terminus ad quem (goal) of the weeks. Allis admits the difficulty (Prophecy, p.114). The view causes the remaining years to "run out into sand" (Leupold on Daniel, p.436/7). The "week" could, of course, be elongated, and made to stretch to A.D.70, or even to the end of the age! We seem to be able to do anything with these prophetic years! The problem is solved when we see the subject as "the prince that shall come", namely, Antichrist From the time of "the abomination" in the middle of the week, God gives him this period to three and a half years to continue (see Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:6, 14; 13:5; 11:2,3). This period will bring the "little horn" (Antichrist, the Beast) up to the conclusion of his reign, to his destruction by Christ (Dan. 7:26; 9:27; Rev. 19:20).
Our Lord refers to Daniel 9:27 in Matthew 24:15. The "abomination" precipitates the time of "great tribulation", which in turn Is concluded by the appearance of Christ (Mt 24:15,21,29,30). He, therefore, sets the incident firmly in the context of the Last Days, immediately before His Coming. It is not history, it is still prophecy. Cox confounds the answers to the disciples' twofold question, and erroneously links the "abomination" with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70. The Coming of Christ will mark the end of Israel's sinful career (Rom. 11:27; Zech. 12:10,11; 13:1), and thus completely fulfil the terms of Daniel 9:24. It is the only interpretation that gives a satisfactory explanation of the terminus of the weeks, and in it one sees yet again a future for Israel, for the "weeks" concern them.
THE FUTURE KINGDOM
The Coming of Christ to Jerusalem will mark the conversion of the Jews, and the setting up of the Messianic Davidic Kingdom. The promise was given (Lk. 1:32,33). Someone will assert, therefore, because it is to be a reign "without end", that cannot be a mere millennial reign. Christ's reign is eternal (Heb. 1:8). There are, however, varying phases of His Kingship. There is a kingdom given to Christ as Messiah-Mediator which shall be delivered up to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24: Lk 19:12; 22:29). In the new heavens and earth He will reign as Regent with the Father (Rev. 22:3). When He comes in His Second Advent, He will set up His throne (Mt 25:31; 19:28). It is evident that between the setting-up of His throne and the delivering up of the kingdom there is to be a period of reigning.
The "kingdom" is to follow His "Appearing" (2 Tim. 4:1). The Master teaches us that "the Appearing" or manifestation of His kingdom to men was not to occur immediately, but to follow His reception of the kingdom and His Return (Lk. 19:11,12,15). When the Son of Man will come in the clouds, then will men know "the kingdom of God is nigh" (Lk. 21:27,31). At that time the moon and sun will be affected (Mt. 24:29,30; Mt. 13:24-26; Isa 24:23), and then the "Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem" (Isa. 24:23), and be "King over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9). It is when Christ comes in His glory, "then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory" (Mt 25:3 1), and the twelve apostles of the Lamb will have positions of judgeship unto Israel (Mt 19:28; Lk. 22:29,30; Isa. 1:25-27; 2:2-4). We believe in the Kingdom in Mystery (Mt 13), but do not thereby deny the Kingdom in Manifestation (Lk. 19:11; 2 Tim. 4:1). Israel is yet to hall Christ as Messiah (Mt 23:37-39).
The question of Acts 1:6 is not "Wilt Thou restore?", but "Wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He had taught the apostles about their future relationship (Mt 19:28; LL 22:29,30). There was no doubt about the restoration, only about the "times or the seasons". These were in the Father's authority (Acts 1:7). Meanwhile the work of world evangelisation was to be carried on, for the calling out of the Gentiles (1:8; Rom. 11:25). The order established by James (Acts 15) and Paul (Rom. 11) is (i) the Gathering of the New Testament Church, (ii) the Return of Christ, (iii) the Restoration of Israel, and (iv) the Residue of men seeking the Lord (cp. Zeph. 3:8,9; Rom 11:12, 15; Zech. 8:22,23; 14:16,17).
Israel will be restored, but they will be a people who know regeneration and cleansing (Ezek. 36:24-38; Zech. 12:10; 13:1).
If these chapters (Rev. 19,20) were accepted in their plain, literal sense, and chronological order, then the case would be won in favour of Premillennialism However, Hendriksen says that in Revelation 20:1-3 we are taken back to the beginning of the present dispensation (More than Conquerors, p.184). The assumption is purely gratuitous. We too rejoice in the decisive victory of Christ at Calvary over the "god of this world". But that is not the binding spoken of here. John says the binding is to be accomplished by an angel, that Satan is to be confined to the "pit", and that he shall then be no longer able to deceive the nations. Hendriksen, on the other hand, says it was done by Christ, that Satan is only partially bound, that he is upon earth, and that he still blinds and deceives the nations, but not to the extent he once did. Such exegesis that equates an angel with Christ, bound with partially bound, the abyss with the earth, and "deceive not with "deceive not so extensively", is exegesis which is far from "scholarly" and totally unacceptable.
That Satan is partially bound misconstrues the text. Along with others, Wm.. E. Cox declares, "Satan is bound, but with a long chain" (Biblical Studies in Final things, p.161). Such explanations do not merit serious consideration. The New Testament revelation of the present activity of the Devil, bears no correspondence with the Amillennial interpretation of his supposed present binding, We are taught in these apostolic letters, written after Calvary, that Satan is "the god of this age" (2 Con 4:4); "the ruler of the darkness of this age" (Eph. 6:12); "the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 Jn. 5:19); and that so universal' and effectual is his domination and deception, that the only ones who escape are God's elect (Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Con 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:26).
In the light of these Scriptures how can it be held that, during this inter-advent period, Satan is bound? Hendriksen waxes eloquent (Conquerors, pp.186-190), but in the light of Scripture and history the eloquence is unconvincing. John speaks of a total inhibiting of the Devil from deceiving the nations. This is because he is not only bound, but incarcerated in the abyss (let us take full note of what Scripture says), and will not be free to roam the earth as he now does (1 Pet 5:8). Revelation 20:1-3 is not historical: it is still prophetical.
TWO LITERAL RESURRECTIONS
In discussion on Revelation 20:4,5 J. F. Walvoord declares: "Only by spiritualising this passage . . . can a genuine separation of the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked be denied." One interpretation is that "the first resurrection" is the "new birth of the believer." A fatal objection to that idea is that, in the context, "martyrdom" precedes "resurrection." That, of course, is the natural order. However, one can never be a martyr or witness for Christ prior to regeneration. Furthermore, it is obvious from Revelation 13:15 and 20:4 that the subjects have suffered physical martyrdom by decapitation. The only thing that can reverse that is physical resurrection, not spiritual regeneration.
The idea presented by Hendriksen is equally untenable. If "the first resurrection" is, as he defines it, "the translation of the soul from this sinful earth to God's holy heaven" (Conquerors, p.192), then we have ascribed to ''resurrection" what is elsewhere in the New Testament ascribed to the death of the believer, and the consequent intermediate state (2 Con 5:8; Phil. 1:23). How unbiblical to describe death as "the first resurrection"! Only if they do could we accept such doctrine.
There is a reluctance to allow that this passage teaches two literal resurrections, separated by a thousand years. Leupold says: "A dual resurrection is taught nowhere in the Scriptures" (Daniel, p530). Contrariwise, the teaching that there is one general resurrection is negated by the testimony of the New Testament to a resurrection "from among the dead" (Lk. 20:35; Mk. 9:9; Acts 4:2; 17:31; Phil 3:11). Our Lord appears too to differentiate between the resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous (Jn. 5:29; Lk. 14:14). The term, 'resurrection of the dead" applies to all, but the phrase, resurrection from the dead", that is, from among the dead," is only applied to Christ and His own.
It is only holy ones" (Rev. 20:6) who participate in this 'first resurrection." Paul confirms this, when he says it is 'the dead in Christ" that will be raised at His Coming (1 Thess. 4:16 1 Cor. 15:23). G. A. Ladd comments on the latter citation He says: There are three distinct stages: Jesus' resurrection; after that (epeita) the resurrection of those who are Christ's at His parousia; after that (eita) the end (telos) . . . The natural meaning of to telos is the consummation, which will see the inauguration of the Age to Come. An undefined interval falls between Christ's resurrection and His parousia, and a second undefined interval falls between the parousia and the telos" (A Theology of the New Testament, p. 558). He is to reign between the Coming and the Consummation. And it is a reign which takes place on earth to which Revelation 19 depicts Christ as returning, and not in heaven as Hendriksen seeks to establish (Conquerors, pp.191/2).
The close of this age is to witness the appearing of a personal Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3,8). Hendriksen agrees (Commentary on 2 Thessalonians, pp. 178,171). He further identifies this "man of sin" with "the little horn" of Daniel 7 (p.177), but not with "the Beast out of the sea" of Revelation 13, 17 and 19. He refuses to ascribe personality to "the Beast" (p.171). It can hardly be denied, however, that these three references are to the same personage (Dan. 7; Rev. 13;2 Thess. 2). "The Beast out of the sea" and "the little horn" are without doubt identical. The same character, career, and conclusion are ascribed to them both: their blasphemous diction (Dan. 7:8, 11, 20, 25 and Rev. 13:5, 6); their associates (Dan. 7:20, 24 and Rev. 17:12); their persecution of the saints (Dan. 7:21, 15 and Rev. 13:7); the period God gives them to continue their diabolical work (Dan. 7:25 and Rev. 13:5): and their sudden destruction and consignment to the lake of fire (Dan. 7:11 and Rev. 19:20). "The Beast," then, is "the little horn," is "the man of sin," who is to be destroyed by Christ at His Coming (Rev. 19:20; 2 Thess. 2:8).
But why are we saying all this? For one simple reason. Because, if "the Beast," is the personal Antichrist who is yet to appear at the close of the Gospel Age, and under whom the martyrs of Revelation 20:4 suffer, in harmony with Revelation 13:7 - 15, then the Millennium through which they reign, and for which they are raised (20:4), could not have commenced at Calvary, or be the inter-advent period!
It is evident, too, from the prophecy of Daniel 7, that the possession of the kingdoms of this world by "the Son of Man" (7:13) awaits the destruction of "the little horn." It is after his body is given to "the burning flame" that the saints possess the kingdom (Dan. 7:11, 21, 22, 26, 27; Rev. 19:9 -20:4). It is pointless for Young, Cox and others to argue that the destruction of the fourth world empire is historical, therefore the setting up of Christ's kingdom and reign are facts of past history. The "little horn" is an end-time person. So, too, is the kingdom of Christ an end-time reality, established upon earth subsequent to His Coming, and consequent upon the overthrow of "the little horn".
by Rev. D. G. Daniel
(Reprinted with acknowledgements from Evangelical Magazine of Wales)
From 'Prophetic Witness' magazine - February 1981