There Will Be A Millennium
by Rev. E. Buckhurst Pinch
THERE is a certain group of teachers today - and some of them in respected evangelical circles - who are making bold assertions, which are ill-founded, and without Scriptural authority.
The writings of these A-Millennialist teachers show very considerable disagreement among themselves. Most of them, however, apparently subscribe to three propositions:
- that there is to be no millennium;
- that there is no future for Israel; and
- that all the prophecies of the Old Testament are to be spiritually realised in the Church.
These three assumptions are, of course, bound up together. To say that there is no millennium means that there is no future for Israel, and if there be no fulfilment of these predictions for Israel then we may assume that they are to be fulfilled as all prophecy must be, and fulfilled in this case in the Church. These three suggestions, therefore, stand or fall together.
A little more than a quarter of the entire Bible is direct prophecy. No one has a right to tamper with Scripture and advance an opinion and superimpose it upon a pronouncement. What God says concerning the future is as exactly true as what God has recorded concerning the past, and we are no more allowed an opinion concerning God's pronouncements about the future than we are about those concerning the past. In that sense, prophecy and its interpretation are an exact science.
One of the gravest errors made by these teachers is that they confuse prophecy concerning Israel with revelation concerning the Church, which is a completely unjustifiable tampering with Holy Scripture. Indeed, it is tragic to see them borrow Israel's blessing for the Church, but leave Israel's curses upon her own head! It is a very strange way of handling Scripture.
Israel's sphere is earthly, the Church's sphere is heavenly, and they should not be confused. If these teachers be right, then there is no rapture for the Church, no judgement or rewarding seat of Christ before that great and awful judgement of the great white throne. Can there be any present assurance of salvation for anyone, if we cannot know whether or not we are truly saved until the books are opened at the final great assize? This teaching, which is raising a loud and insistent voice in our own land at this time cuts right across some of the fundamental truths of Holy Scripture, and would rob us of the "blessed hope" to which our hearts cling so tenaciously.
Israel is not the Church. The throne of David is not in heaven; it is on earth. In the Bible there are three streams of prophecy - no more and no less. There is no prophecy in the whole of Holy Scripture concerned with mankind which cannot be put into one of these divisions.
There is one stream of prophecy wholly concerned with the Jews; there is a second stream wholly concerned with the nations of the world, frequently called the Gentiles, and there is a third stream entirely relating to the Church of the redeemed in Christ Jesus. There are no other prophecies touching mankind in the whole of the Bible.
It will immediately be seen how necessary it is to differentiate between these. If I were to take the promises given to the Jews concerning Jewish national history and relate them to the Church I should, of course, immediately disturb the whole design and pattern of Holy Scripture.
When I consider the suggestion of spiritualising the promises made to Israel and handing them over to the Church, I see a very grave danger. Here are certain prophecies given by God to His own earthly people. Take, for instance, the prophecies of Isaiah. I am asked to believe that certain of these chapters which speak about the great reign of peace and the time of universal prosperity and well-being under the beneficent rule of David's greater Son, are fulfilled in the Church. In other words, the prophecy does not mean precisely what it literally says. It is only intended to indicate the blessed state of the Church in this age. If you say that you are in a serious position, for if I may spiritualise the 2nd or the 60th chapters of Isaiah, both of which are prophetic of the Millennial period, why cannot I spiritualise that great prophecy of the Atonement, the 53rd? Such treatment of Scripture would land us in the camp of the Modernists.
The Book means precisely what it says I challenge anyone to find in the Bible one single prophecy of Christ's first coming which was not literally, precisely, and exactly fulfilled as it is written in this Book. I have listed well over 100 prophecies of Christ's first coming, and in every single case the prophecy was fulfilled literally word for word as it is written in the Book, and sometimes under the most extraordinary circumstances.
When, in Luke 24: 44 we read, "All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the psalms concerning Me," we immediately understand this as a declaration by Jesus that the Scriptures should be interpreted literally, except when it is clearly stated that the matter is in the form of a parable or illustration.
For instance, when in Isaiah 40:3 the prophet predicted the forerunner of Christ as being "the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord," such a prediction seemed most unlikely of fulfillment. It was inconceivable that the unostentatious hermit should be the preacher, or the wilderness his platform. Yet in John 1: 23, when the priests and Levites shouldering with the common people went out from the city to the wilderness to hear him, he answered their challenge by declaring, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." A real man in a real wilderness preaching to a real audience.
An even more difficult situation seems to arise from the prophecy in Isaiah 7: 14, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son." Anyone might be excused for not interpreting that passage literally. It demanded a physical impossibility; yet though it needed a miracle in order to be literally true, the Miracle was worked, the common laws of nature suspended, a man-child came into the world, born of a virgin, and in Matt 1: 22-23 we have the New Testament confirmation of this literal fulfillment of Scripture, "Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son."
In Zechariah 9: 9, we read, "Thy King cometh unto thee; He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass." Was it ever literally fulfilled? Did the ass stand for some idea? If you will read Matt. 21: 49 you will discover that it was a real ass upon which Christ sat.
It was no mere suggestive idea or representative picture. Scripture was literally fulfilled. This, then, is the sound principle of Scriptural interpretation - God means exactly what He says.
If then, the prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ were fulfilled literally, surely it is intelligent to believe that the prophecies concerning His second coming will also be, especially when it is remembered that they were written and spoken very largely by the same prophets and on the same occasions as those concerning His first coming.
Let us examine one of these prophecies.
Turn to God's great covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. In this chapter you will find it recorded that God made a covenant with His servant Abram, and in verse 18 we read, "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates." That was the promise to Abram. Abram's seed has never had that land; they have never entered into their inheritance. The nearest they ever came to this was in the days of Solomon as recorded in I Kings 4: 21-24. Many lands at that time paid tribute to Israel, but they were never possessed by Israel. Solomon's reign was a type and foreshadowing of the millennial reign of Christ and as such it approximates more nearly than any other to the promise given to Abraham. It does not, however, fulfil the prediction. These nations paid tribute, yet retained their identity and their land, but the far larger land, from the Nile to the Euphrates, is yet to be possessed by Abraham's children. Voltaire once wrote, "The God of the Jews must be a very little God because He gives them a land no bigger than Wales, and then says, it is 'a good land and large.'"
Voltaire should have read his Bible.
The Jews are going to have a big land extending from the Nile to the Euphrates. The land that God has promised to them is at least 50 times larger in area than anything they have ever yet possessed. So it is perfectly clear that promise has never yet been fulfilled. Surely there is a future for the Jews.
Ezekiel predicts the restoration and the building of the new Temple, and I observe that, in the final division of the land, God is going to divide it up among the twelve tribes in some future day in twelve apparently parallel bands of territory - a most extraordinary division, that certainly has never yet been seen. Then notice the description of Jerusalem and the Temple in that final day. Jerusalem is to be a seaport. When Christ descends to the Mount of Olives there is to be a great earthquake, and the way will be opened up east to west and there will be a waterway through to the Persian Gulf. Jerusalem is to be a seaport, having its own waterway, and the size of Jerusalem will be about the size of London today. In that day when the people come into their own, the Temple precincts will be about one mile square.
These prophecies have never yet come to pass.
Let me pass quickly from Abraham's to David's covenant, for here is something that touches the very heart of our subject. In 2 Sam. 7: 12, 13, 16, we read, "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever." That was God's covenant You may say to me, "You are reading into it something more than is implied by the prophecy. Do you mean to say that the throne of David is to be established as a perpetual throne?" Well, that is what it says. That was God's covenant with David. From him there was to spring One who should take the throne in the blessing of God and whose throne should be established for ever.
Let me offer you confirmation. Turn to Psalm 89: 3, "I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations."
Let us examine Jeremiah 33: 19-21 and 25-26, "And the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers." "Thus saith the Lord; if my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth! Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." God says through His servant Jeremiah that as truly as day and night are established so is His covenant with David that He will raise up of his seed one to sit upon the throne.
Now turn to the New Testament for further light on this covenant. In Acts 2: 29, when Peter is preaching to the assembled crowd, he says, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses." Now what is Peter's argument? He says, "Do you not remember how God made a covenant with David and God said He would set his seed upon his (David's) throne and establish that throne for ever. Do you not see that Jesus is David's promised greater Son, and God could not leave His soul in the place of death? He must be raised again because God had made an oath that He is yet to rule and reign on David's throne. He must be raised from the dead." Then He winds up the argument with the words, "This Jesus God hath raised up."
He is the One to reign on David's throne. In Him is fulfillment of the oath and the prophecy. He is the One whose kingdom is to be for ever. David's greater Son. What a remarkable and convincing passage this is!
There is another reference in the New Testament to which I must call attention. In Luke 1, the record declares how the angel came to Mary, telling her she was to be with child of the Holy Ghost and that this Son was to be called Jesus. In verse 32 are the words, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end," or as I was interested to observe in the Moravian version, "of His kingdom there shall be no frontier."
Now who can pretend that such predictions are fulfilled in the church? David's throne ruling over the house of Jacob - how can these things be spiritualised away? To confine such passages to the church is unscriptural nonsense.
The Old Testament prophets all had one central theme regarding the punishment which God must inflict upon His people for their unfaithfulness. Some wrote before the exile, some during it, and some while the restoration was taking place. They all blamed Israel for her sin and said she was in trouble because of it, and they all pointed to the fact that she was yet to enter into a period of unlimited blessing.
Amongst other things it is declared that Israel shall be scattered because of her sins. And it also declares that Israel is to have a great recovery in the latter days, and that David's Son should reign over them. In Isaiah 11: 11, 12, and in Jeremiah 23: 5-8, we read about this great regathering. Now if the scattering of Israel was literal, is it not proper to believe that the regathering will be literal? Can you say that the scattering was real and actual but the regathering represents the church? That does not make sense, and it is not fair treatment of Holy Scripture. The people who were scattered are the people who are to be regathered. There is no escape from that conclusion.
We have in the prophecy of Isaiah a description of the King. Let me quote from Isaiah 9: 6-7, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this." See also chapters 2, 11 and 62.
The earth is to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. He is to reign on the earth. We are not discussing heavenly experiences. He is to reign at Jerusalem as Isaiah declares in the opening verses of chapters 2 and 62. All the nations of the earth are to come under His sway. Israel, scattered through sin shall be regathered in the last days.
They are to come under the beneficent rule of the King whose kingdom shall be an everlasting Kingdom. The King is the Lord Jesus, the Heir to David's throne.
Peter also has a word to say about this. You will find it in Acts 15. A church Council is in session and they 'had some knotty questions to discuss. When there had been a certain amount of discussion and several members of the Council had advanced their opinions or given their guidance, Paul and Barnabas reported how they had seen the Gentiles blessed. James, who appears to have been in the chair, summed up the matter, and he gave considerable credit to Simon Peter, because he felt that he had given him a good lead in the matter. "Simeon hath declared how God at first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.
And to this agree the words of the prophets: as it is written, After this I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up;" and he goes on to say mankind everywhere will seek the Lord. Now there is the Apostolic testimony to the same blessed truth. I see this coming kingdom, this Jewish kingdom, just as the Word of God sets it out in a straightforward plan. In the Old Testament the Kingdom was prophesied; then Christ came and the Kingdom was at hand; then at the cross the King was crucified and refused, and the Kingdom postponed. During the church age the Kingdom was suspended while a people were gathered out for His name. When the church age closes and the Antichrist arises, the kingdom will be counterfeited, and when Jesus returns the Kingdom will be manifested. That is the programme in Holy Scripture. When Christ hung on the cross, He bore above His head this inscription (really an indictment), "This is the King of the Jews." When the church age is over and He comes back, that is precisely what He will be.
Again, forty days later, giving the blessing to His followers, His feet rose from the grassy sod and He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives. When the church age is over and He returns, Zechariah says in chapter 14, that, "in that day His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives." He is coming back to precisely the same spot. Hark! They are talking, and one of them says to Him, "Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" If the Lord wanted to refute the idea of a future kingdom that was His opportunity. He did not! What He did say was an acknowledgement of the kingdom. "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons." "Your present task is to bear witness from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth." He did acknowledge the kingdom and when Christ returns, that is precisely what He will do - restore the kingdom to Israel, and the oath to David will be finally fulfilled.
In the first seven verses of Revelation 20, we read about the period of 1,000 years no less than six times. No one can tell me that is without significance. Sometimes I am told that there is no justification for the teaching of the Millennium except Revelation 20, and that passage is metaphorical, and to be interpreted literally. But the Millennium, the actual reign of Christ on earth, the kingdom of great David's greater son, is implicit in the Word of God. It runs through the whole web and woof, the whole structure and fabric of Divine writ. But as I read this passage I wonder at the treatment it receives. I am told I must spiritualise it. To do so is to tread on very difficult ground. "He laid hold of the dragon." Am I to spiritualise that? So there is no Satan? It does not mean what it says? I have never had a doubt of the reality of the devil since God saved me.
Then in the next verse I read, "He shall deceive the nations no more." Am I to spiritualise the nations? Are there no real nations referred to here? If the devil is literal and the nations are literal, the thousand years are literal. You cannot play about with Scripture like that.
Moreover, these teachers tell me that, of these two resurrections (the one before the thousand years and the one after), the second is literal, but the first is spiritual. Now, if one resurrection is literal, so is the other. You cannot pick and choose.
Is there any support in Scripture for the thousand years? Yes, there is a wealth of support. Well, how does it fit in? Let me briefly show the pattern.
All God's dealings with mankind in grace are completed in groups of seven, in great cycles of seven, and so in this book everything under covenant race goes in sevens to completeness. We read of seven days in the book of Genesis. God created the Adamic race in seven days of 24 hours. Some people will be amused at such an assertion, but I find it much easier to believe than the alternative I am offered and remember the terms "evening" and "morning" are defined for us (see also Exodus. 20: 8-11).
Then we have the seven weeks of the Levitical law - seven months leading to the day of atonement. We have a reference to seven years and the sabbatical year in which there was to be given a rest to the soil. Then there were seven weeks of years - 49, bringing us to the 50th year, the great year of Jubilee which brought freedom to the slaves and a great many other benefits in the life of Israel.
Peter throws light on the matter when he says, "One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3: 8). The psalmist says: "A thousand years are as yesterday." Here you have a week of Millenniums. Now if that be true we are almost at the end of 6,000 years. There were roughly 4,000 years before Christ's first Advent, and there have been almost 2,000 since. We are in the closing days of the sixth thousand. If that be true, we should be witnessing the closing signs of this age predicted concerning both Jews and Gentiles. For the Jews are to be reassembled for their last day, the seventh day, the great day of rest. In point of fact, this is happening already and all the signs of the close of the church age are before our eyes.
There seems every reason to believe, therefore; that we are now approaching the seventh day of the week, the day of millennial blessedness that God has promised to His own people, and through them to the whole earth, for Israel, says Isaiah, shall be chief amongst the nations.
In the book of Revelation I hear a heavenly choir in song. They are singing the praises unto Him who has redeemed them and washed them, loosed them from sin, in His own blood; and as they sing praises to their Lord, I hear them finish with these words: "And we shall reign upon the earth." Although the Millennium is Jewish, we who have been called out to form a bridal company for Christ, will be with our Lord throughout His Millennial reign. Though we are ill-fitted to exercise any authority or hold any high station we shall be honoured because of our relationship with Him, and "we shall reign upon the earth."
This, then, is the Millennium of Scripture, a thousand years of blessedness, the world without war, the world without a curse, the world without Satan, the world without a barren field, and Jesus universally acknowledged as King. The way to be sure of a share in this blessedness is to be amongst the redeemed in Christ, the bridal company; and when He reigns, we shall reign with Him.