|1. Are There Two Aspects of the Second Coming? ... page
2. Does Futurism Hinder Revival? ... page 54
3. Will the Church go through the Great Tribulation? ... page 56.
4. Was the Kingdom set up in the Lifetime of the Apostles?..page 65.
5. Is Anti-Christ a Person? ... page 66
6. Is the Great Tribulation a Unique Period of Suffering? ..page 68.
7. Is the First Seal Christ or Anti-Christ? ... page 71.
|15. Should Revelation 20 be used to establish Doctrine?
... page 95.
16. Will there be Animal Sacrifices in the Millenium? ... page 97.
17. The Millenial Temple ... page 98 18. The Millenial Temple Priesthood ... page 99.
19. The New Testament and Israel's return to Palestine. ... page 99.
20. Significance of the Book of Acts ... page 101.
21. Did the Kingdom come at Pentecost? ... page 102.
|8. Is Satan Bound in this Present Age? ... page 72.
9. Is the Scofield Reference Bible Trustworthy? ... page 73.
10. Is Dispensational Teaching Scriptural? ... page 77.
11. Interpreting the Book of Revelation ... page 79.
12. Is the Principle of Spiritualizing Scripture Legitimate? ... page 87.
13. Have the Promises to Israel been Transferred to the Church?... page 90.
14. Is Futurism a Modern Invention? ... page 92.
|22. Was the Kingdom Postponed? ... page 103.
23. Is Jesus Christ reigning on David's Throne? ... page 104.
24. Has the promise concerning Palestine been fulfilled? ... page 109.
25. Is there more than one Gospel? ... page 111.
26. Does Futurism require another Day of Salvation? ... page 112.
27. Is Futurism a Jesuit Invention? ... page 116.
28. Is this the Last Age? ... page 119.
29. Miscellaneous Questions ... page 121.
In the production of this work, the author has made a valuable contribution towards the right understanding of prophetic and dispensational truth as found in both the Old and New Testaments. A careful study of the scriptures quoted, and the references to the writings of Bible students and teachers, will restore faith and confidence in the "Sure Word of God," and will be a great help to such as have been confused by the writings of some who have rejected the clear plain meaning of "The Scriptures of Truth," by setting forth "the vain reasonings of men". As Jeremiah writes (23, 28), "He that hath MY WORD, let him speak MY WORD faithfully, What is the chaff to the wheat? Saith the Lord". I have found no chaff in this book, but in every chapter "the incorruptible Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever."
Never in the history of mankind has the word of God been so widely distributed and read as in our day: The Lord Himself has said, "Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled." Having noted the regenerating and sanctifying power of the WORD OF GOD in the lives of men and women for over sixty years, I most heartily commend this book, for it is the result of careful study and research. It is a book for the times in which we are living. A book that will repay prayerful study, a book that exalts our Saviour God, setting Him forth as Prophet, Priest and King, confirming our faith in the "Living WORD," the "Written WORD" - and in the "Blessed Hope."
Rev. Adam Clarke, Sandringham, Victoria.
The author wishes to express his indebtedness to those who have assisted in typing the manuscript, and in particular to Mrs. H. McGregor of Skene Street,Newtown, Geelong, for her encouragement and practical assistance in the publishing of the book.
Wallace E. Jackel, (Deceased)
Bible prophecy is a fascinating theme, yet strangely enough, one which has existed mainly in the backwaters of religious thought.
The reluctance of the Church generally to seriously consider the question of eschatology has left the field wide open for reckless speculators and weird theorists to exploit the public, with the result that the whole thing has become suspect in the popular mind.
However, the advance in science and technology has helped to change all this, and a spirit of genuine enquiry is abroad. The masses have been alert to discern that coupled with the onward rush of progress there exists an inner helplessness and impotence.
Disillusionment and fear are rampant as never before, and many are clutching at the faint hope that somehow civilization as we know it, may survive. This is true, particularly, of the philosophers and scientists of our day, many of whom have assumed the role of "prophets of doom" to this generation. Dr. Ullman recently warned "If we choose wrongly we may be the last generation of mankind." Another scientist recently said "Science, the greatest achievement of man, by its very success has brought the world to the edge of the precipice."
All this has tended to bring the study of prophecy to the very forefront, and the Church, which hitherto has only patronisingly admitted its claims, is now seriously challenged to examine afresh the meaning of the "Christian Hope."
Prophecy is no optional extra, nor is it merely an appendix to the main body of Christian theology, but is an integral part of the Christian system.
Some have been reluctant to study prophetic themes because of the spirit of controversy which so often surrounds them, but of what doctrine cannot this be affirmed. The atonement, the trinity, sanctification, predestination, eternal security have been, and still are, causes of lively discussion and dissent.
This book has been written from a deep sense of duty, for if there is a hope for mankind let us declare it to a generation uneasy with the premonition of doom. It is not always easy to write dispassionately on truths deeply held, but we have sought to combine candour with courtesy, and to discharge our responsibility with the utmost charity to all who adhere to contrary persuasions.
Many have bemoaned these divisions of thought and outlook, but it could scarcely be otherwise in the treatment of so vast a theme, and yet even this diversity is not without it virtues. Every viewpoint must be tested, every interpretation sifted, for heresies and false theories, when fully exposed, do us a service by showing that the truth does not lie in that direction.
This school of thought has always maintained that it represents the historic faith of the Church. The system is founded upon a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. The terms of the covenants made with Abraham and David, as well as the vast prophetic literature concerning the Jew and the land, await fulfilment. All pre-millenialists accept the Rapture of the Saints, the Tribulation, the glorious coming of Christ, and the establishment of the Millenial kingdom on earth.
THE A-MILLENIAL THEORY.
The letter "A" is negative and means not or no, and when placed before the word millenium signifies no millenium, or without a millenium. This school flatly rejects any thought of a Millenial kingdom, and is based upon a system of spiritualizing Scripture.
1. That the blessings promised to Israel are now finding their fulfilment in the church. 2. The Jewish nation has no national future in the land. 3. That Satan was bound at the first coming of Christ. 4. That the first resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20:4 the `New Birth' of believers. 5. That the thousand years is an inter-advent period, an idealistic state lying between the first and second advents. 6. That the only coming of Christ which the Church may expect will be for judgement, then follows the eternal state. 7. That the present conflict between good and evil will continue to the end of human history.
As this term is used throughout the book, it is necessary that the reader understand exactly what is implied by the expressions.
All Futurists are Pre-millenialists, but not all Pre-millenialists are Futurists.
Futurism is pre-millenialism carried to its logical conclusion. The name arose in connection with a particular interpretation of Revelation. Futurists are so called because they place the main body of Revelation Chapters 4-19 in the future.
A general outline of futurist teaching is as follows:
1. The events of Revelation Chapters 4 - 19 take place
after the Church Age ends.
2. The Rapture precedes the Tribulation.
3. Anti-Christ and the False Prophet will exercise dominion for three and a half years.
4. That the two witnesses are actual persons, possibly Elijah and Moses.
5. That the Jewish nation will be revived and restored to Palestine as the head of the nations.
6. The seventieth week of Daniel's prophesy lies in the future and corresponds to the seven years designated "the Tribulation".
7. That Babylon, in its triplicate forms, political, religious, and commercial, will dominate the earth.
8. Jesus Christ will be King of the whole earth for one thousand years, during which Satan will be bound and put out of the way.
9. That the Millenial Temple will be erected in Palestine and a priesthood revived.
The purpose of this book is to examine afresh the basis of the Pre-millenial faith and to give consideration to various aspects of the Futurist interpretation. Throughout the course of the book, representative views of the various schools are quoted, but in particular two books come up frequently for critical survey. "Why I left the Futurist School," by T.H. Salmon, and a larger and more recent work, "A New Heaven and a New Earth" by Mr. A. Hughes. Both books have much in common, in that they both feature the A- millenial theory, and employ the spiritualizing system of interpretation. It is doubtless true of all schools of prophetic thought, that the position has been so closely scrutinized, and the ground so thoroughly covered by earlier writers, that little that is new or original can be offered. Both books then, it would appear, are a synthesis of earlier writings and doubtless offer some of the strongest arguments that can be mustered in the attack against the Pre-millenial faith, and the Futurist interpretation in particular. We recognize that within the Christian Church there is such a thing as a fellowship of controversy, with the free exchange of ideas and opinions and the sifting of doctrinal viewpoints. An enforced uniformity is a thing to be equally dreaded by all. Our attitude is somewhat like that of the interjector at a political meeting, "I don't believe what you say, but I would give my life for your right to say it."
While liberty has its dangers, we believe its advantages are greater than its risks, providing, as it does, the right of testing contrary opinions and beliefs.
We may not like being jolted out of our comfortable mental niches, but truth is no respecter of persons, much less of theories. Facts are cruel and merciless things, and care naught for human opinion and sentiment. "Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." Pre-millenialists and Futurists welcome the fullest enquiry and the most thorough scrutiny, for the truth wherever it lies will be established the more thereby.
Dissenting thoughts and contrary interpretations, such as we are about to consider, have at least the merit of compelling opposing schools of thought to look at their foundations, lest faith becomes merely traditional and unreasoning.
It is too, a timely jolt to complacency, and to much of the parrotry and servile repetition which characterizes the rank and file, who are not prepared to study the Word, but receive their beliefs ready made.
We suffer no illusions as to the unity of Pre-millenialists and Futurists, in respect to their beliefs. That there are differences on minor points and subsidiary truths, is freely admitted, but these are not foundational, and in no wise invalidate the main thesis.
THE BASIS OF MILLENIAL BELIEFS.
A-Millenialism flatly rejects any notion that a literal millenium is to be expected.
"The thousand years ... of the New Testament is the period from the cross to Christ's second appearing. (A. Hughes, Page 61, "A New Heaven and a New Earth"). "The second coming of Christ will mean the end of this world, and instead of a millenium, the Word of God tells us to look for the New Heaven and the New Earth." (Page 75, "Why I Left the Futurist School," T.H. Salmon.)
The case for the Millenium rests upon the sure foundation of a seven-fold testimony.
1. THE PRE-MILLENIAL FAITH IS FOUNDED UPON A
THOROUGHLY SOUND AND RELIABLE SYSTEM OF INTERPRETATION.
Bible study must be governed by some principles of interpretation if the truth of the Bible is to be arrived at. So vital is this question that no discussion of prophetic themes could be attempted without first stating the underlying principles that are formative of the various schools of thought. In this respect the system of interpretation adopted is decisive, once accepted the literal interpretation and pre-millenialism is inevitable, likewise admit the spiritualizing principle and A-millenialism is the outcome.
This then is the crux of the whole problem and the underlying cause of the vast controversial literature which has grown up around the two systems.
The Pre-millenial faith is founded upon the literal principle of interpretation, which simply means taking Scripture at its face value.
"If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense unless the context plainly indicates that it is to be treated otherwise."
Dr. Bernard Ramm in his book "Protestant Biblical Interpretation" (Page 172), writes.
A-Millenialism and kindred schools adopt the spiritualizing principle of interpretation in the field of prophecy. The words of Scripture are not taken at their face value, but are allegorized and compelled to yield an alien meaning.
Now the evident result of the principle of spiritualizing is just chaos and confusion; the words of Scripture are emptied of their primary meaning, and the Bible thereby robbed of its authority.
It is useless for A-millenialists to seek to offset these charges by the assertion that Scripture contains allegory and itself adopts in particular cases the principle of spiritualizing.
There is a vast difference between the inspired interpretation of Bible writers and the fantasies of human imitators.
Concerning the method of allegorizing, or spiritualizing Scripture, Dean Farrer says, "Allegory by no means sprang from spontaneous piety but was the child of rationalism which owed its birth to the heathen theories of Plato. It deserved its name, for it made Scripture say something else than it really meant.
Origen borrowed from the heathen Platonists and Jewish philosophers a method which connects the whole of Scripture into a series of clumsy and incredible enigmas. Allegory helped him (Origen), get rid of Chiliasm (belief in a one thousand years' reign) but it opened the door to deadlier evils. (History of Interpretation, Pages 183-196.)"
Incredible as it may seem, A-millenialists, generally interpret the Scriptures according to the literal principle, until it comes to prophecy, and for some unaccountable reason reverse the process, and yet all prophecy which is clearly known to have been fulfilled, has been literally fulfilled. This is surely a most weighty argument, almost decisive we should think, in the question of interpretation of unfulfilled prophecy. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled, and in every case it was a literal, actual, matter-of-fact fulfilment.
Isaiah 7:14 The Virgin birth.
Micah 5:2 Bethlehem the place of His birth.
Hosea 11:1 The Son called out of Egypt.
Isaiah 11:2 Christ anointed with the Spirit.
Zechariah 9:9 The public entry into Jerusalem.
Psalm 41:9 Christ betrayed by a friend.
Zechariah 13:7 Forsaken by the disciples.
Zechariah 11:12 Christ sold for 30 pieces of silver.
Zechariah 11:13 The Potters field purchased.
Isaiah 50:6 Spat on and scourged.
Psalm 34:20 Not a bone of Christ broken.
Psalm 22:16 His hands and feet pierced.
Jeremiah 31:15 The slaughter of the babes at Bethlehem.
Daniel 9:26 The exact year of Christ's death foretold.
It is said that over one hundred distinct prophecies were fulfilled at our Lord's first advent. All theses predictions received a literal fulfilment and on this divine precedent we base our convictions that the vast prophetic literature relating to the second advent will be fulfilled with the same meticulous literalness. The allegorical principle has wrought havoc with the Scriptures throughout the history of the church and is nothing less an anarchy in the field of Biblical interpretation. It is, therefore, not something that can be taken up lightly, for it is bound up with other grave and vital matters. It touches the question of interpretation itself, and is in actual fact a tacit rejection of verbal inspiration, emptying as it does the words of Scripture of their plain literal sense and turning Scripture into a series of tantalising enigmas.
We do not wish to imply that all who adopt this principle necessarily reject the doctrine of verbal inspiration. On the contrary, many such are doughty contenders of verbal inspiration, but the principle basically is a contradiction of the doctrine of verbal inspiration.
The expression, "verbal inspiration," literally
means word inspiration, and those who adopt this truth believe that in
the final analysis the words of Scripture as originally given, were chosen
by the Holy Spirit. Every word then has one basic and primary meaning,
so that any alteration entirely frustrates the intention of the Spirit
in selecting particular words to express vital distinctions. What shall
we say then of a system that alters the sense of the words, so that every
man may draw from a word a meaning to suit his whims and fancies. Writing
concerning the prophecies relative to the Jews,
Dr. Sidlow Baxter says,
"To spiritualize their plain meaning seems to us a deep irreverence to the Holy Spirit." Dr. Seiss has this to say concerning spiritual- izing,
"It upturns all acknowledged principles of interpretation from their very foundations. It opens the door for the explaining away of every distinctive feature of the Christian faith. It turns all the great promises of God, and the hopes of the Church into mist, dimness and dreary nothing."
For this reason, the spiritualizing principle finds ready acceptance with modernism, which it undoubtedly tends to foster and promote. For the thing that most offends the liberal mind is the note of authority, the sense of absoluteness that pervades Holy Writ. Any system, therefore, that denies the literal truth of Scripture, that manipulates the meaning of words, and renders Scripture uncertain and ambiguous is well pleasing to the modernist mind.
It is just here that A-millenialism unwittingly plays into the hands of the enemy. Examples of this very thing are found throughout the book, "A New Heaven and New Earth." For example, on pages 155-156 numerous literal statements are called into question. Are we to understand that the psychology at the back of these mental questionings suggests God's inability to do the thing He declares, or is there inherent in A-millenialism a subtle species of unbelief? We suggest that such an attitude to the Scriptures is disastrous, particularly to young and immature minds, and comes disconcertingly near to the modernist approach. Pre-millenialism, on the other hand, is free from any trace of modernism. Nay, the literal principle, upon which it is founded, precludes any such possibility.
From all that has been said it will be quite clear that interpretation is all-important and wholly determinative of one's views of prophecy. We therefore suggest three guiding principles, which if faithfully followed, will unlock the secrets of the Bible and allow it to speak its message to the human heart.
1. Interpret each passage of Scripture according to the plain literal sense of the words employed, unless the peculiar wording suggests that it be understood otherwise.
2. Interpret each passage according to its immediate context giving due consideration to what immediately precedes the text and what follows. By following this practice the text will be illuminated by the context. There is a saying current among Bible teachers, "A text taken out of its context is a pretext," and this vicious practice of wrenching texts out of their context is a prolific cause of error, which has wrought havoc in the field of interpretation, and filled Christian circles with confusion. We indict A-millenialists in particular with this practice, for an unbiased consideration of the context would be disastrous to their scheme.
3. Interpret every passage according to the wider context of parallel and related passages found in other parts of the Bible. The criticism that the Bible is "like a wax nose" that can be turned any way is only true insofar as the Bible is misapplied by prejudice and fancy. By comparing Scripture with Scripture we allow the Bible to become its own interpreter and the full testimony of truth is thereby obtained.
II. THE PRE-MILLENIAL FAITH
IS FOUNDED UPON THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
But someone raises the query. What has a Covenant in Genesis 15 to do with a chapter in Revelation? Very much, in every way. The revival of Israel, its restoration to the land and its primacy among the nations is an integral part of the Kingdom programme. Pre-millenialism, in its widest connotation is a Bible truth, not merely a particular interpretation of one chapter in the Revelation. In Revelation 20 we have an Old Testament doctrine in a New Testament setting, for while the Old Testament is literally studded with predictions relative to the Kingdom, only in Revelation 20 are we told its exact duration. Revelation 20 is vitally related to the body of Old Testament prophecy, and has its roots deep down in the subsoil of Genesis 15.
The terms of this covenant are found in Genesis 15, for all that God has promised to Abraham He now confirms by a visible sign. Abraham is bidden to make the customary preparation, when two persons ratify a covenant. Certain animals and birds were slain, and the carcasses of the former divided and set in two rows. In the case of a human covenant, both parties would solemnly pass between the animal parts. It was the highest form of an oath, and signified if either party were false to the oath, he merited a fate similar to the slain animals. Among men it takes two to make a covenant, but not in this case for God was the sole actor, and Abraham a mere observer. The presence of God, symbolized by a light, passes between the divided emblems emphasizing the unconditional nature of the covenant which depended upon God's faithfulness alone.
The national aspect of the Abrahamic covenant has direct bearing on the Pre-millenial position at two points.
First, it promises to Israel a permanent existence as a nation, and unless it can be proven that the Church is now the inheritor of Israel's blessings and curses, then it logically follows that Israel has yet a national future in the land.
The second question that arises relates specifically to the land of Palestine. Do the terms of the Abrahamic covenant promise Israel permanent possession of the land? If it does, then Israel has yet to come into possession of the land, for Israel has never yet possessed the land according to the terms of this covenant.
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT WAS UNCONDITIONAL AND OF GRACE.
For the sake of clarity, the expression "unconditional covenant" needs to be further amplified. The expression signifies that the covenant, on the human side, had no conditions attached thereto. There was one side to the agreement, and that was God's, and the final honouring of the covenant depended upon His faithfulness alone.
Later at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham's descendants, but with this vital difference; the covenant was binding on both parties. Exodus 19:8 records the acceptance by the nation of the responsibility under the contract of the law, "and all the people answered together and said, `All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.' And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord."
Israel never kept her part of the bargain, the contract so solemnly entered into was shamefully broken time and again. The whole thing was abortive and Israel failed to enjoy its benefits through her unfaithfulness. There is therefore, a fundamental difference between the two types of covenants, which is far- reaching in its effect. God made no demands upon Abraham, neither did Abraham enter into contract with Jehovah. The unconditional nature of the covenant cannot be stressed too greatly, for it is intensely vital to the Pre-millenial position.
The unconditional nature of the covenant is clearly shown by two factors.
1. The original terms of the covenant are stated without any conditions connected therewith.
2. The unique way in which the covenant was solemnized put the matter beyond all doubt. "And it came to pass that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 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, the river Euphrates." (Genesis 15:17-18).
The smoking furnace and burning lamp, typifying Jehovah, alone passed between the slaughtered animals. The covenant then was absolutely unconditional. Though Abraham sinned after this contract, yet the covenant, still unconditional, was confirmed to Isaac. Though Isaac failed repeatedly, the covenant was confirmed to Jacob, still without condition.
If language means anything, then the covenant must certainly have a future fulfilment.
III. THE PRE-MILLENIAL FAITH IS FOUNDED UPON THE DAVIDIC COVENANT.
The Divine covenant confirmed to King David is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:12:16.
The time had come for Jehovah to openly declare the great purpose He decreed in His eternal councils for Israel's King. The immediate setting, out of which the declaration arose, was David's conversation with Nathan concerning the desire of his heart, to build the Lord a house. However laudable David's intention, it was refused, but in place of this unfulfilled desire Nathan revealed things infinitely more glorious for David's posterity and Kingdom. The covenant confirmed to David had three distinct provisions. The Divine Decree guaranteed:
1. A Davidic House forever.
That is, David would have a posterity, an ultimate seed which would abide forever.
2. A Davidic Throne forever.
A throne as literal as any earthly throne would be established forever.
3. A Davidic Kingdom forever.
A realm for the exercise of royal authority forever. In the process of revealing the terms of this covenant to David, a second person comes prominently into the picture, and to him likewise these promises are confirmed.
(a) To Solomon was granted the privilege denied to David, namely, the building of the Temple of the Lord.
(b) Jehovah reiterated the promise made to David, that the throne of Solomon would be established forever. While the perpetuity of the throne was guaranteed to Solomon no promise was made to him concerning the occupancy of the throne by his seed. David received the promise of an abiding seed, but not Solomon. This is a most significant fact, that must be recognized to avoid difficulty in reconciling the covenant with its ultimate fulfilment. It should be carefully noted that two lines issue from David, the royal line through Solomon, and the legal line through Nathan. The royal line through Solomon was cut off due to the wickedness of King Jechoniah (Coniah) Jeremiah (22-30, 36:30) so that no actual descendant of Solomon's line could occupy the throne forever. There was, on the other hand, the legal line through the eldest son Nathan. Mary was descended from David through the "legal line" while Joseph was descended from King David through the royal line, and thus David's greater son, who himself is the seed in view here, is a direct descendant of Israel's King and his title is unaffected by the curse of Jechoniah.
(c) God confirmed to Solomon the blessing of his abiding presence, but solemnly enjoined that disciplinary judgement would be visited upon him for disobedience. In other words, Solomon' moral aberrations did not annul the covenant blessings. A- millenialists teach that disobedience cancels the covenant. History, however, records that all that God declared came to pass. Solomon was judged for his apostasy, but the covenant stood unaffected by Solomon's failures.
THE FULFILMENT OF THE DAVIDIC COVENANT.
Since both David and Solomon, and their respective Kingdoms, came to an end, the promises can only refer to a future time when one unspecified in the covenant, would ascend the throne of David and exercise an everlasting dominion. But do I hear someone protest? "Why, the throne of David has crumbled to the dust and the throne has no occupant for night two thousand five hundred years." We grant that all that is true, but it is not necessary that the throne be continuously occupied, to ensure the validity of the covenant. What is essential to the future fulfilment of the covenant is that the royal line be not lost. The genealogies of Jesus Christ in Matthew and Luke being the only ones now extant. Thus the lineage has not been lost, though the continuity of rulership has ceased for two and a half milleniums. Jesus Christ then, is the only one who can establish his claim to the throne of David. The blessings of the Davidic covenant have been held in abeyance during the period of Israel's disfavour and rejection, but have in no wise been cancelled.
All are agreed that the ultimate fulfilment of the Davidic promises are to be realized in Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:31-33 attests to this fact.
"31. And, behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.
That the former part of the prophecy was literally fulfilled at the first advent guarantees that the unfulfilled portion will receive the same factual endorsement.
IV. THE PRE-MILLENIAL FAITH IS BASED ON THE NEW COVENANT.
The covenant Jehovah will conclude with Israel in the coming age. The great prophecy which contains the terms of this covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:31-40.
The passage of Scripture naturally divides itself into three parts:
1. The new covenant and its provisions. 2. God's immutable purpose guarantees its consummation and fulfilment. 3. Geographical changes which accompany the realization of the covenant.
1. THE NEW COVENANT AND ITS PROVISIONS.
A. This great prophecy has nothing whatever to do with the Gentiles or the Church in this age. God is careful to specify two groups of people for whom the covenant is intended, the "House of Israel" and the "House of Judah." (Jeremiah 31:31). The covenant is designated "new" in contradistinction to the old law-covenant given at Sinai (Exodus 19:32) Jeremiah 31:31.33 informs us of God's intention.
BEHOLD, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt: which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hears: and will be their God and they shall be my people:
B. The Old Covenant at Sinai was conditional. God made demands on Israel which she failed to keep, but the new covenant in contradistinction to the old law-covenant is unconditional. God comes to man giving, not demanding. Five times there occurs the expression "I will" thus guaranteeing its performance and perpetuity.
C. God will put His law into their hearts, and they shall be a regenerated people, verse 33.
D. God will again own them as His people. The "Lo Ammi" sentence which has hung like an incubus over the apostate nation, will be lifted for ever (verse 33).
E. The sin of Israel will be remembered no more. The reference here is not to the sins in general, but to a specific sin: the national sin of rejection (verse 34.)
F. The entire nation of Israel will have the knowledge of God (verse 34.)
G. The Divine guarantee of national security (verse 40.)
2. GOD'S IMMUTABLE PURPOSE CONCERNING THE COVENANT
"Thus saith the Lord which giveth the sun for a
light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light
by night ...If these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord,
then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me
Israel's everlasting perpetuity as a NATION is as immutable as the laws which God has imposed on the universe.
Mr. Salmon (page 57) makes the incredible statement "There is no Jewish nation" while Mr. Hughes denies that Scripture is a complete answer to the A-millenial invention, that natural Israel has passed off the stage, and its promised blessings have been transferred to what they chose to term "Spiritual Israel" or "New Israel," which in A-millenial thought corresponds to the Church. Furthermore, the Lord makes a condition: "If heaven above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done saith the Lord."
When science has measured the universe, and searched out the depths, then God will cast off His people, but this will never be accomplished. It is to be noted that geographical changes accompany the fulfilment of the covenant. The concluding verses of chapter 31 belong to the context of this great prophecy. They are vital indeed, for they fix the time when the new covenant will be ratified. Seeing that none of these topographical changes have come to pass there is but one conclusion that can be arrived at, the prophecy remains still unfulfilled and the A-millenial teaching that this covenant is now being realized in the life of the Church and that Israel exists no longer as a nation, like Dagon of old, it falls from its respectable niche and lies broken before the Ark of God.
In verse 38-40 which conclude this chapter, the new city, the millenial Jerusalem is in view. The enlarged city will enclose new areas including some place hitherto considered unclean. The tower of Hananeel, the corner gate, the hill of Gareb (Leper's Hill), Goath, the valley of dead bodies, and of the ashes, the brook Kedron, the horse gate, were seven well-known land-marks in Jerusalem and its immediate environs, and will again be so in the day of restoration. Pre-millenialists look for a literal fulfilment of all these things. The only alternative is to spiritualize these geographical locations and find some spiritual quality in the church to which they correspond. Would our A- millenial friends tell us what all these names and places refer to after a spiritual fashion. What, for example, could the valley of dead bodies, or the ashes, the hill Gareb, signify either in the Church or the Eternal Order? Seeing that it is impossible to spiritualize such exact physical locations we are compelled to believe that all things written here will receive a factual endorsement in the day of Messiah's reign.
V. THE PRE-MILLENIAL FAITH IS FOUNDED
ON OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES.
The proper study of the subject of the millenium begins with the relevant Old Testament prophecies.
The Old Testament is the background of Christian eschatology. Thought forms, symbols, figures of speech, are almost wholly drawn from this source, and therefore, every prophecy must be interpreted in harmony with the entire body of predictive truth. The attempt to isolate Revelation 20 from the main body of prophecy does violence to the Scriptures, and renders a correct conclusion impossible.
There are three fundamental conceptions that underlie Old Testament eschatology, namely, the Day of Jehovah, the establishment of the Kingdom, and the advent of Messiah.
The earlier literary prophets, beginning with Amos, saw these events as the national hope of Israel, but with the later prophets, the hope of Israel becomes the hope of the world. These basic conceptions of Israel's hope are prominently features in Revelation 19 and 20. No one doubts that Revelation 19 depicts the coming of "the great and terrible Day of the Lord," then immediately following in chapter 20 there is recorded the binding of Satan, and the setting up of the millenial Kingdom, supplementing, as it does, Old Testament prophecy. It is our purpose in this chapter to give brief consideration to these relevant prophecies.
GOD'S OATH-BOUND COVENANT TO DAVID
Psalm 89 is based upon the Davidic covenant as recorded in 2 Samuel 7:8,17. All the promises made on that occasion are here re- affirmed with a pronounced definiteness that is truly amazing. The expression the "faithfulness of God" is used seven times, the divine guarantee is re-inforced by the expression twice used in verses 34 and 35. "I will not lie," while the expression "I have sworn" is used in verses 3, 35 and 49. We are not able to deal fully with this lengthy Psalm, but content ourselves with several outstanding verses:
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David, my servant." "Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations" (vv.2,3.) "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. "Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie to David. His seed shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before me." (vv.34- 36).
Despite the declaration of this Psalm, we are asked to believe that God has gone back on His Word, and denied the thing which has gone forth out of His mouth, to wit, that Israel will again be established as a nation and that the throne of David will be set up in the land of their fathers.
EGYPT, ISRAEL AND ASSYRIA IN THE MILLENIUM.
These three ancient nations were all brought to their knees by divine judgement, but in the purpose of God they are to be lifted up and enjoy a national future in millenial time. This is the theme of the latter portion of Isaiah 19. "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan ... In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord ... And the Lord shall be known to Egypt and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation, yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it ... In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land ... Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands and Israel mine inheritance." (Isaiah 19:18-25).
The particulars of this prophecy which have never been fulfilled are:
1. Judah a terror to Egypt.
2. Five cities in Egypt speaking the language of Canaan, and invoking the name of Jehovah.
3. An altar for the worship of Jehovah in the midst of Egypt.
4. The Egyptians crying to Jehovah for deliverance, and worshipping Jehovah when He has saved them.
5. The Egyptians and Assyrian worshipping Jehovah together.
6. A highway opened to Assyria for peaceful pursuits. 7. Israel a third with Egypt and Assyria. a blessing in the midst of the earth.
"For Jehovah of Hosts has blessed them saying, `Blessed by Egypt my people, and Assyria, the work of my hands and Israel mine inheritance'."
What is to be done with this prophecy? Reject a literal interpretation and bundle these nations out of God's programme, denying them a national future.
Juggle with Scripture in the manner of the liberal theologians, until its truth has evaporated and its meaning perverted and debased, so that it means something altogether different?
THE GOLDEN AGE TO COME
Isaiah is one of the great prophetic visions of all times.
In a chaotic and disintegrating world,
how refreshing to read this glorious chapter.
Not so much wishful thinking, or something unrealistic, but facts related to the contemporary situation around us. The sun is setting behind ominous storm clouds of our day, judgement is coming, tribulation is on its way, but beyond lies the promise of a better day. The King will return and the glory of His Kingdom shall fill the earth.
1. The King's lineage is declared. The coming one is of
the lineage of King David. (Verse 1.)
2. The King's power is revealed. The sevenfold Spirit of wisdom and power rest upon Him, ensuring the triumph of the Kingdom. (vv.2,3.)
3. The character of His reign is declared (vv.4,5) A social order, where righteousness reign. Human government fails more through moral defects than administrative procedure, but here is a true, planned economy set up after the Divine order.
4. The effect of Messiah's reign - the curse of Eden is removed, ferocity disappears from the animals, and nature "red in tooth and claw," is emancipated.(vv.6,7,8.)
5. An age of righteousness. "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord a the waters cover the sea." (v.9.).
6. The restoration of dispersed Israel declared. (vv.11,12.)
7. Tribal animosity will cease, and Israel will be victorious over her enemies. (vv.13,14.)
There is nothing in history that can parallel the transformation here depicted. We therefore conclude that there must be a coming age when all these things will find their fulfilment.
THE KING AND THE KINGDOM. (Isaiah 9:6,7).
The first part of this prophecy has literally been fulfilled. The child has been born into the world, the gift of the Son has been made. The glory of His person and the high office He fulfils are declared in five majestic titles. Thee are not empty titles but belong to His very nature and office.
The world did not recognize Him when He came. They cried out, "We have no king but Caesar"; "We will not have this man to rule over u." It was His right to sit on the throne of David but He was denied this right and eventually thrust out and crucified. Is the prophecy then to go unfulfilled? Is the behaviour of men to cancel the divine fiat? Certainly not!
This prophecy is accompanied by a Divine guarantee:
"The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this."
The importance of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke are seen at this point. Jesus Christ is the only one who can prove His claim to the Davidic throne, for all other records have long ago perished. Though the Jewish nation has been brutally disillusioned by a succession of false messiahs, yet the prophecy is certain, and its literal fulfilment sure.
A DEAD NATION COMES TO LIFE AGAIN
Chapter 37 of Ezekiel records the resurrection of the
The dead nation is brought back to life to take its place again among the nations of the earth.
Ezekiel is transported into a valley full of dry bones and ass he surveys the ghastly scene, he is bidden to prophesy. Immediately the bones come together to form complete skeletons, which are then covered with sinews, flesh and skin. Finally the wind blows upon the inanimate bodies, and they rise up and live. The divine programme is so clearly stated that little comment is needed, and yet some have missed the point entirely, making it a vision of physical resurrection, or a type of spiritual regeneration.
The bones are declared to be "the whole house of Israel." (Ezekiel 37:11). What sort of exegesis is it then that takes this chapter and applies it to the Church. Can these bones live? (Ezekiel 37:3). How many Jewish patriots have contemplated this question! Can Israel be a nation again? Can the ancient people have a national future? For centuries historians and politicians have said "No". Arnold Toynbee, one of the leading historians of our day, refers to the Jews as a "fossil civilization without a future". Contrary to all these voices, the Word of God says Israel will live again.
"Then said he unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel ... Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel ... and I shall place you in your own land."
THE FIVE WORLD EMPIRES OF HISTORY
Daniel 2 is in some respects the most remarkable chapter in the Old Testament. Prophecy is only history in advance, and in this chapter Gentile world power is traced to its final end. The immediate circumstances which were the occasion of the vision, was a certain dream which left Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, in a state of fear and perplexity. The incubus weighed so heavily upon him that he called the wise men and required of them that they should not only recall the vision but interpret it as well. Doom loomed over their heads, until Daniel interposed, and in answer to the prayer of His servant, God vouchsafed the outline of the vision and its interpretation.
Secular history confirms how this prophecy up to verse 41 has come to pass. First the head of gold, the Babylonian Kingdom, reached the zenith of its power in the day of Nebuchadnezzar, 606 B.C., but later it collapsed before the onslaughts of the second world power, Medo-Persia, 538 B.C., (the shoulder of Silver). This Empire, in due course, was overthrown by Alexander the Great, 330 B.C., (thighs of Silver). The Grecian Empire swept all before it, but on the death of Alexander, there was a four-fold division of the Empire, which persisted until Rome (the legs of Iron), established herself as mistress of the world, 50 B.C. Finally, the unity of Rome was disrupted when the Eastern or Greek Empire separated from the Western or Latin Empire. The Western Empire fell before the successive waves of barbarian invasions in 476 A.D. while the Eastern Empire lingered on, in a weakened form, until 1476 A.D.
The last of the Emperors died defending Constantinople against Mohammed III. Thus the fourth Empire passed off the stage. and all the image has been fulfilled with the exception of the feet and the ten toes. The ten toes, corresponding to the horns of Daniel 7.20 symbolize ten Kings which are yet to arise in the geographical limits of the ancient Roman Empire. It is in the days of these ten Kings that the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed.
This is the fifth or final world Kingdom, answering to the Kingdom of Old Testament prophecy and the Millenium of the New Testament.
We particularly draw the attention of our readers to the significance of verses 34-35.
The "smiting stone" is Christ and the destruction of the image represents the total overthrow of all earthly government. Thus the Kingdom comes from without, with a display of power and glory, and civilization as we know it will end in shattering judgement.
Kings and dictators, have arisen from time to time, all bent on bringing the world under their sway, but they have all failed. The four world Kingdoms have run their predicted course and the world awaits the fifth Kingdom, and when it comes it will endure for a thousand years.
A-Millenialists interpret this vision to support the theory of the establishment of the Kingdom at Pentecost but the vision, if taken in its entirety, refutes the whole theory.
Did Jesus Christ smite the nations at His first coming? Were the nations reduced to nothingness at the first advent? On the contrary, the Roman Empire smote Him and nailed Him to a Cross. This one fact is sufficient to disprove all theories which reject the millenary doctrines. The mock trial, the crown of thorns, the reed-sceptre, the mangled form on the cross, the jeering crowds, the thrust of the Roman spear, are quite the opposite to all that is unfolded in Daniel 2, and in that case the Kingdom awaits a future time.
THE FIVE WORLD-EMPIRES ACCORDING TO DANIEL 7.
Some forty eight years after the vision of the image, God granted another vision, this time to Daniel. The symbolism differs, but the truth it enforces is the same. The prophet beheld a vision, a winged lion (Babylon), a bear (Medo-Persia), a leopard (Greece), and the terrible nondescript (Rome). The fourth beast aroused Daniel's curiosity, especially the ten horns, which the beast carried on its head, from which emerged an eleventh horn, which subdued three of the former horns.
The Scriptures leave us in no doubt that the ten horns are ten Kings, which appear right at the end of this age. The Roman Empire, which was at first one Empire, ceased to be an Empire in 476 A.D., but it will be revived in the form of a "Ten Kingdom Confederacy." The eleventh horn gains ascendancy over the ten- leagued Kingdom, and persecutes the saints. Comparing this phenomena with other related Scriptures, we know that the little horn is anti-Christ who rules for three and one-half years, and at the end of his terrible rule, judgement descends and the Kingdom is ushered in.
Taken together the visions of Daniel 2 and 7 teach:
1. That the destruction of earthly kingdoms will be sudden. There will be no long drawn out process of disintegration, but sudden destruction will engulf the existing order; and man's boasted civilization will be no more.
2. That the Kingdom is set up by Divine power and not by human agencies. Any notion of "bringing in the Kingdom" by the gospel, education, or civilization is ruled out completely. The fetish of the modern pulpit, "Bringing in the Kingdom" in the light of these prophecies is but a mental mirage, a theological aberration.
3. That there will never be another world Empire ruled by man; the Bible says give world Kingdoms and no more. The Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the French Empire, the British Empire were great in their day, but they were not world Empires in that they existed contemporaneous with other Empires. Kings, dictators and emperors have arisen and flourished for a time but none have achieved world dominion.
4. That the Kingdom here envisaged cannot be established until certain developments have matured:
i. The appearance of ten Kings in the geographical territory of the pagan Roman Empire. ii. The appearance of the eleventh King. iii. The subjugation of three of the ten Kings and the dictatorship of the eleventh King. iv. The total destruction of all political institutions, and kingdoms pertaining to "man's day."
THE COMING OF THE LORD - NOT THE END OF HISTORY (Zechariah 14).
Deep indeed is the darkness with which this chapter opens, but glorious indeed is the radiance with which it closes. The events of this great chapter are arranged in chronological order, and sound the death-knell of all theories that deny the millenium. A- millenialists and others who declare that the coming of the Lord writes finish to human history are dumb before this great prophecy, for after the judgements of the Day of the Lord have run their course, man is still on the earth, the nations are still here, the land of Egypt is still in existence. Christ is reigning, and Jerusalem, rebuilt, is still there, with the tribes of the earth going up to worship. Obviously the coming of the Lord does not end human history, but brings this present age to its close and ushers in a better day.
The particulars of this chapter are so crucial that we propose giving them in detail.
V 1. The Day of the Lord.
V 2. The sacking of Jerusalem.
V 3. The Lord fights for Israel.
V 4. He comes to the Mount of Olives.
Vv.4-5 The great world earthquake.
V 5. The coming of the Lord with His saints.
Vv.6-7 The prolonged daylight - a unique day.
V 8. The water flowing from the sanctuary in Jerusalem linking the Mediterranean Sea
with the Dead Sea.
V 9. The Lord King over all the earth.
V10. Great Geographical changes in Palestine.
V11. Social Security.
Vv.12-16 The overthrow of the invading hordes by Divine judgement.
V16. The nation going up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord of Hosts.
Vv.17-19 Penalties for disobedient nations who refuse to worship at Jerusalem.
Vv.20-21 Jerusalem a Holy City.
There are some thirty distinct predictions in this chapter. They represent realities to be expected in the coming age. To regard this testimony otherwise is to mangle the Word of God and render what is clear and definite, chaotic and unintelligible.
RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION OF ISRAEL IN THE MILLENIUM.
The concluding part of Ezekiel, chapters 40-48 gives a description of the restored temple along with the various religious arrangements and ordinances of Israel. This portion of Scripture is among the most neglected in the Word of God, but richly repays the student who is willing to carefully read through the mass of detail.
Exact measurements are given, locations are mentioned,
all of which forbids any spiritualizing.
Ezekiel 37:26 says, "I will et my sanctuary in the midst of them." The grandeur and beauty of the temple and the city are described, and exact measurements given. The chambers, porches, gates, posts, windows, courts, singers, priests, pavements, regulations for sacrifice, ordinances for the minister of the sanctuary, are meticulously set forth. The place of the throne, the altar, the offerings, are all mentioned. The river which flows from the sanctuary is a reality, for at a defined location, fishermen are permitted to ply their craft.
The boundaries of the land are defined, and fourteen towns or districts are mentioned, also the names of the tribes and their respective allotments.
Bible students who find no difficulty in accepting other prophecies literally, cavil at these chapters. Some, in despair, declare that it is an ideal picture never intended to be realized, but the whole picture fits in exactly with what is revealed elsewhere in the Word of God.
VI. THE MILLENIUM IS BASED ON
THE PROPHETIC TEACHING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. The Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), informs us that Jesus Christ is to rule on the Throne of David in a future age. Luke 1:31-33 contains six facts - three relating to His first coming, and a like number to His second appearing. The prophecies concerning His first coming have literally been fulfilled, and this guarantees that the rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled with the same exactness.
i. Thou shalt . . . bring forth a Son.
ii. He shall be called JESUS.
iii. He shall be great.
iv. He shall be called the Son of the Highest.
v. The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. vi. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.
How impossible to accept the former facts of the prophecy literally, and give a spiritual interpretation to the rest - making the reign of Christ over the house of Jacob Christ's spiritual rule over the church in this age.
2. The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-45). The glorious song of praise which flowed from the lips of Mary breathes the national hope of the nation. The Magnificat is divided into two parts - one, that which concerns Mary personally,; her joy, and the place of privilege accorded to her; the second part sets forth Israel' expectation according to the ancient covenants. God has helped Israel according, as He promised, to the Fathers of the race. The Abrahamic covenant is in view here. A-millenial teaching declares that the violation of the Sinaitic covenant cancelled the Abrahamic covenant, ignoring the conditional nature of the former and the unconditional terms of the latter. Mary, however, believed that the covenant with Abraham was still in force as did Zecharias.
3. The Benedictus (Luke 1:67-79). The prophecy of Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, is purely Jewish in tone, and breathes in every line the normal expectation of every Jewish patriot. The prophecy consists of two parts:
i. The establishment of the theocracy under Messiah.
ii. The nature of John' ministry a forerunner to Messiah.
Zacharias mentions the following facts in order:
Part One. THE NATION OF ISRAEL.
i. National redemption for Israel.
ii. Messiah raised up in David's House.
iii. Israel saved from its enemies as the prophets declared.
iv. Messiah is to fulfil the ancient covenants, particularly the oath God sware unto Abraham.
v. To establish peace and righteousness in Israel.
Part Two. THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
i. John the Baptist was the prophet of the Highest.
ii. He was the forerunner of Messiah.
iii. To give knowledge of salvation and forgiveness of sins to Israel.
iv. To give light to those who sit in darkness.
No reference is made anywhere to the Gentiles. The objection that the Jewish nation had a false expectation, and ought not to have been looking for the restoration of the Kingdom, but rather the death of Messiah and the spiritual Kingdom represented by the Church is contrary to every inspired prophecy.
The expectation of Zacharias represents the faith of the nation down to the days of Christ.
THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY
When Jesus presented Himself at Jerusalem, the crowds
in their enthusiasm cried out,
"Blessed is He that cometh -- Blessed be the Kingdom of our Father David."
While the issue of Kingship was still in their minds,
Jesus said to His enemies,
"Ye shall not see me henceforth until that day when ye shall say,
`Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord'."
There is another triumphant entry coming, when the King returns, and the whole nation will arise to acclaim Him.
THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS YET FUTURE.
"Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:20-22).
Christ has passed into the heavens, but not forever. The word "until" covers the Church age. When the Church age has run its course, then comes the day of restoration. The nature of this restoration is revealed in the writings of the prophets - restoration for Israel, and blessing for the entire earth.
THE DISCIPLES' QUESTION.
"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel." (Acts 1:6). The disciples were asking a relevant, intelligent question. The crucifixion was past, the resurrection had taken place, and right on the eve of Pentecost the disciples still believed and anticipated that the Kingdom would be set up. The very fact that the Lord used the expression "Times and seasons" is clear evidence that, at the time appointed, the Kingdom would be established.
THE DIVINE TIME TABLE.
The divine programme, the schedule of coming events, is clearly set forth in Acts 15:14-17. Dispensationally it is one of the most important Scriptures in the realm of prophecy. Here, the Lord tells us what he proposes to do in relation to the Church, Israel and the world.
CREATION YET TO BE DELIVERED (Romans 8:18-25).
The present condition of nature is not what it was when it came from the hand of God. What we see around us is not the normal state, but rather an abnormal condition of things, due to divine judgement on sin; Creation now rests under the curse, for somehow, the sin of man brought chaos to the lower orders of creation. Future deliverance awaits creation, and then its pain and travail will be at an end. In verse 19 creation is pictured as with outstretched neck it awaits the blessed day of emancipation. The Prophets and the Psalms, in telling out the full story of the coming glory, never fail to speak of the blessings in store for creation. REVELATION 20.
This great chapter is usually approached with a partisan bias. The "best left alone" attitude has been adopted generally among Christians. Opponents of the Pre-millenial faith never weary of reminding us that Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible where one thousand years is mentioned. But, we ask, wherein does this weaken the argument? In the Authorised Version, the word occurs six times in the one chapter. The validity of a doctrine does not depend on the number of times it is mentioned in the Scriptures. A doctrine once stated is as authoritatively established as if it were stated a hundred times. How often must God say a thing before it is true? Just once! But here in one chapter the Holy Spirit, as if anticipating modern unbelief, has reiterated it six times.
Again, it is declared that Chapter 20 is highly symbolic, and incapable of being literally fulfilled. On the contrary, we assert that the chapter contains substantial realities. The angel, the Devil, heaven, the battle, the Beast, False Prophet, the pit, the little season, the throne, the reign of Christ, the resurrections, are all real, and must be accepted literally.
Some who accept the chain as figurative pose the question: How can a spirit be fettered by an iron chain? But where, we ask, is a chain of iron mentioned? There are substances other than physical matter. All these things have counter-parts in the spiritual realm, and whatever the chain consists of it can bind angels and fetter spirits.
Jude 6 reminds us that certain rebel angels, at this very time, are reserved in everlasting chains, unto the judgement of the great day. What the chain is made of, how it can bind a spiritual nature is not for us to know, but they are not for this reason any less literal.
The weakness of the A-millenial position shows up when we come to verses 5-6.
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
No amount of spiritualizing can save our friends from their perplexities, here. In desperation, some regard it as "a resurrection of principles." Others see in it the new birth of believers, while some apply it to the state of the Church on earth. All this unnatural forcing of language suggests utter bankruptcy -- "flying the flag of distress."
Deal Alford says, "I cannot consent to distort its words (v.v.5-6) from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any risk of abuses which the doctrine of the millenium may bring with it.
Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole Church for three hundred years, understood them in their plain literal sense. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation how in fashion. If the first resurrection may mean a spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means a literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a true testimony to anything. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which none will hardly maintain, but if the second is literal then so is the first."
Dr. Seiss says, "the word rendered `resurrection' is used more than forty times and always in the one sense of a rising again of the body after it had fallen under the power of death. The placing of it as the first in the category of two resurrections, the second of which is stated to be the literal rising again of such as were not raised in the first, fixes the same to be a literal resurrection." It does not mean that they lived spiritually for they did that before their death, otherwise they could not have been martyrs, nor can it be true of their souls, for the soul never dies. They lived again in the sense that their souls occupied their bodies again. The living of these souls, and the non-living again of the rest of the dead, proves that the resurrection is literal.
The casting of Satan into the pit does not rest solely on the twentieth chapter of Revelation. Many of these features were anticipated in Isaiah 24:17-23. The punishment meted out to the "host of the high ones that are on high" is the same as that mentioned in Revelation, but the prophecy of Isaiah goes further, and reveals the fact that the whole rebel host will share Satan's fate. They shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in a pit (dungeon), and shall be shut up in prison and after many days they shall be visited. The many days correspond to one thousand years.
The twentieth chapter of Revelation has been designated a battleground of theologians. To the literalist the chapter constitutes no problems at all. The difficulties have arisen largely because men have little or no knowledge of the divine plan of the ages. There is a fixed apocalyptic scheme running through the entire Scriptures, and at the very heart of this divine programme lies the concept of the Kingdom of God. It reappears in Revelation 20 only in a Christian context. See in the full context of prophetic revelation, the millenium is a fitting climax in which Messiah carries God's purposes to final triumph.
VII. PRE-MILLENIALISM -
THE HISTORIC FAITH OF THE CHURCH.
The testimony of history is of the utmost importance in any discussion relating to Pre-millenialism.
What the Christians of the first three centuries thought, and preached, has important bearings on the claim put forth by Pre- millenialists, that its teaching represents the historic faith of the church. All historians bear eloquent testimony to the place that eschatology occupied in the life of the early Christians. The Church as it emerged from the age of the Apostles, was ablaze with the hope of the Lord's return, and its zeal and moral intensity was largely due to the spirit of expectancy that animated it.
Though belief in the millenium is much older than the Christian Church, yet the early Christians very soon formulated a fixed doctrine about these things. Any appeal to the Patristic writings however, cannot settle doctrinal issues: that is, the sole prerogative of the Word of God.
Let us first of all hear the testimony of several modern authorities. Adolph Harnack could not in any sense be called a friend of Pre-millenialism, yet he writes "Faith in the nearness of Christ's second Advent and the establishment of His reign in glory on the earth was a strong point in the primitive Christian Church." (Ency. Brit. 15.495).
Bishop Russell asserts "Down to the beginning of the fourth century the belief was universal and undisputed." It is impossible to know the views of all the Church Fathers as many did not discuss the matter, but prior to Origen the views expressed were definitely Pre-millenial.
Papias (200 A.D.), a disciple of the Apostle John, received his doctrine first hand, and devoted himself to preserving accounts of Christ's teaching as they came to him from the aged Apostle. He was the author of the well-known passage on the fecundity of the vine in millenial days. He further affirmed his faith in the millenium following the resurrection when the reign of Christ will be set up on the earth."
Irenaeus (200 A.D.). This distinguished theologian did more to establish millenial teaching in the West than any one else. He wrote a massive treatise "Against Heresies." The concluding part of this work is filled with messianic and millenial references.
It was Irenaeus who declared that "belief that these things shall come to pass on the earth is an `indispensable part of orthodoxy.'
"But when this anti-Christ shall have devastated all things in this world he will reign for three years and six months and sit in the temple in Jerusalem; and then shall the Lord come from heaven ... in the glory of His Father."
According to Irenaeus, "creation is to be restored, all animals are to be in subjection to man, and revert to the food originally given by God."
Tertullian (150-225 A.D.). Book 3:25. Against Marcion. "But we do confess that a Kingdom is promised to us upon the earth....insomuch ass it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely built city of Jerusalem."
Lactantius (240-330 A.D.), made reference to "that mad-man anti- Christ."
"That shall descend with great power" and all the multitude of the godless shall be annihilated.
"When peace has been brought about and every evil suppressed."
"And will raise the righteous dead to eternal life and will Himself reign with them on the earth."
"He will found the Holy City and this Kingdom shall last one thousand years."
Nepos (230-250 A.D.) Nepos, an Egyptian Bishop, had strong convictions about the earthly kingdom. Dionysius complains about his teaching. "But since they bring forward a certain work of Nepos on which they rely confidently as if it proved beyond dispute that there will be a reign of Christ upon the earth." Dionysius goes on to deny that John wrote the book of Revelation.
Eusebius says Nepos taught "that the promise to holy men in the Divine Scriptures should be understood in a more Jewish manner, and that there would be a certain millenium of bodily luxury upon the earth." Justin Martyr, born about 100 A.D. (Dialogue with Trypho.) "But I and whoever are on all points right-minded Christians, know that there will be the resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, and as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare. And further, a certain man with us, named John, one of the Apostles of Christ, predicted by revelation that was made to him that those who believed in our Christ would spend one thousand years in Jerusalem."
Commodianus, Bishop of North Africa about 250 A.D. wrote, "They shall come also who overcame cruel martyrdom under anti-Christ, and they themselves live for the whole time. But from the thousand years God will destroy all those evils."
The extent of millenarian views in the first three centuries permits us to draw the conclusion that belief in the millenium formed a "fixed, though not unquestioned," part of Christian doctrine.
Fisher, the Church historian, sums up the position in a few brief words, "The belief in a millenial kingdom on earth, to follow the second advent of Christ, was widely diffused."
George E. Ladd in his book "Crucial Questions about the Kingdom" (page 159) says "We are led to conclude that while there is evidence that not all Christians were millenarians, yet the doctrine was very widespread."
The third century saw the first attempt to discredit chiliasm (belief in a thousand years' reign). Oriegn (185-253) a theologian of vast knowledge and great industry, reacted strongly against the literal interpretation, which had held the field since the days of the Apostles, and substituted for it an allegorical or spiritualizing system of interpreting the Scriptures.
"All Scripture," he declared, "had a threefold meaning, for as man consists of body, soul and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture." "This allegorical system," says Professor Walker, "enabled Origen to read practically what he wished into the Scriptures."
Origen began to present the Kingdom as an event which would take place not in space or time, but in the souls of believers. For a collective millenial eschatology Origen substituted an eschatology of the individual soul. Such a shift of interest was suited to what was now an organized Church enjoying an acknowledged position in the world. When in the fourth century Christianity attained a position of supremacy in the Mediterranean world and became the official religion of the Empire, ecclesiastical disapproval of Chiliasm became emphatic. The Catholic Church was now a powerful and prosperous institution and the men responsible for governing it had no wish to see Christians clinging to outdated dreams of a new earthly paradise.
Early in the fifth century, Augustine propounded the doctrine which the new conditions demanded. According to his book, the "City of God," the book of Revelation was to be understood as a spiritual allegory and as for the millenium, that was fully realized in the church. (N. Cohen - "The Pursuit of the Millenium").
"Now already the Kingdom in the form of the Church is a reality. Now already Christ and the saints rule, for the Kingdom is ruled by Christ through the heads of the hierarchial church. Resurrection is now taking place for new life is taking place through the Gospel, now Satan is bound."
Now all this was exactly what the apostate church wished to hear and Augustine's work, the "City of God" exerted tremendous influence on the growth of Papacy and helped form the ecclesiastical despotism of the Middle Ages.
Continuing, Cohen says, "This at once became orthodox doctrine and so definitely that, at the Council of Ephesus, 431 A.D., belief in the millenium was condemned as a superstitious abberation. A big change had taken place since the day when Irenaeus declared millenary doctrines to be an "indispensable part of Christian belief."
As Christendom continued to sink in ignorance and superstition preparatory to its plunge into the Dark Ages, evangelical doctrine went in eclipse. Gross darkness covered the earth and with the exception of small groups and individuals the dumb, driven masses knew little or nothing of these beliefs. However, between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries the prophetic tradition inherited from the Jews and the early Christians emerged throughout Europe in the form of social revolution. Sheer misery and poverty drove the masses to acts of desperation. Captured by millenial prophets these chiliastic commotions shook Europe for centuries.
With the coming of the Reformation, and the return to evangelical doctrine, we would naturally expect a return to the pre- millenialism of the early church but no, the reformers were not greatly concerned with matters of eschatology: Rome filled their horizons and while they separated from Rome on many issues "they occupied the same ground in this respect as the Roman Catholic Church had occupied since the time of Augustine. There were however, certain groups which were pre-millenial in outlook.
The Ana-Baptist movement, often called the "Common Man's Reformation" despite its political radicalism, nevertheless had sober elements within it which were definitely pre-millenial.
The "Fifth Monarchy Men," a movement that appeared in England in the seventeenth century, was Chiliastic in outlook. We do not excuse their excesses but their idealism was drawn from millenial beliefs. Ridley and Latimer in the sixteenth century were pronounced believers in the millenium. The former said "Peradventure it may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children's days. The saints shall be taken up to meet Christ in the air and so shall come down with Him."
The Huguenots of France were millenial in outlook and for this reason Roman emissaries singled them out for special treatment.
The Bohemian and Moravian Brethren, in some respects akin to the Ana-Baptists, held millenial views.
Joseph Meade (1586-1678), compelled by his study to adopt a literal interpretation of the Scriptures, said "Yet this much the text seems to imply, that the saints of the first resurrection should reign here on earth in the New Jerusalem in a state of glory." In the eighteenth century J.A. Bengel, a man of great scholarship, circulated a commentary which did much to spread the doctrine among the intellectuals.
In more recent times, some of the leading evangelists, scholars and Bible teachers were of this persuasion. The names of Tregelles, Scofield, Seiss, Alford, Gaebelein, Pierson, Muller, Darby, Torrey, Hudson Taylor, Lange, Moody, hold an honoured place as teachers of pre-millenial doctrines.
Then, too, the Brethren Movement and the Scofield Bible have given a great impetus to millenary doctrines. The most recent factor of all is the revival of the Jewish nation, and general world conditions, all of which are increasingly putting their seal on the general correctness of the Pre-millenial interpretation.
THE CHURCH IN GOD'S PLAN.
The Church is a unique institution, a creation of the Holy Spirit whose outcalling takes place during Israel's suspension and disfavour. The words, "parenthesis" and "intercalation" have been used to designate this period of divine favour. The former term means to place beside other things, while the latter refers to a place in the midst of others. The one is connected with grammar, while the other relates to a space of time inserted in the calendar. Many Bible students are not exactly happy with either of these words, but use them in default of something better. Our opponents have hotly contested the use of these designations, suggesting that they imply something improvised, a fill-the-gap idea, with a consequent depreciation of the glories of grace and the work of Calvary. The truth, however, is in the Scriptures, even though our nomenclature may appear faulty and clumsy.
Dr. O.T. Allis, no friend of pre-millenialism, admits that the parenthesis view of the Church is the inevitable result of the belief that the Old Testament prophecies made to Israel must be interpreted literally.
The Church was not a sudden improvisation, a snap decision contingent on Israel's unfaithfulness, nor was it an unexpected necessity. Surprise has no part in the divine plan. Nothing is left to chance, for with God there is no afterthought, but only forethought. The plan of the ages was drawn up in the Counsels of Eternity, hence the propriety of Hebrews 1:2. "By whom he made the worlds" (ages). Others have suggested the expression means "By Him the ages were fitted together."
The Pulpit Commentary suggests that the primary reference is to "time: limited in periods:" Christ, then, not only created the world, but He is the Architect of the dispensations which are manifested in it. It is our purpose now to show that Bible writers under the constraint of the Holy Spirit left room for the Church- age. The Old Testament prophets had no knowledge whatsoever of the coming Church age, but the Holy Spirit caused them to write wiser than they knew, and make provision for the interposition of the church period.
THE TESTIMONY OF PSALM 10.
This psalm, a rare gem of prophecy, was a great favourite with the early Church. It opens with a conversation between the Father and the Son. Cast out to die a felon's death, God invites His Son to ascend on high and occupy a place at His own right hand. Thus God showed His contempt for human opinion, and reversed the verdict of evil men concerning His Son.
"Sit Thou at my right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." This is Christ's official position during this age. There He will remain until God's purpose in this age is completed, and the number of the elect accomplished.
The enemies of Christ are not to be made His footstool by a civilizing process, by culture, or by the ballot box, but by the shattering judgements of the Tribulation, and then comes the final triumph. The "until" of verse 1 makes provision for a time-period of unspecified duration wherein the elect company is being called out.
ISRAEL'S SACRED CALENDAR.
Leviticus 23 records the six feasts of Israel's religious year. Latent in these feasts is a fixed chronological scheme concerning Israel's history to the end.
Three feasts were observed in the spring of the year, Passover, First Fruits, and Pentecost. Then followed a period of four months, after which three further feasts were observed, namely Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles.
All these feasts typify great national events:
Passover The death of Christ First Fruits The resurrection of Christ Pentecost The formation of the Church Trumpets The regathering of Israel Atonement Israel's national repentance Tabernacles The joys of the millenial days.
The interval between Pentecost and Trumpets is taken by many to presage the Church age.
THE PARABLE OF THE TWO OLIVE TREES. (Romans 11:16-23)
This parable was given to illustrate God's dispensational dealings with Israel and the Church. The branches represent the place of privilege in God's purpose. There are four distinct operations observable in the parable.
1. The branches of the good olive tree, broken off through unbelief, symbolises Israel thrust out and temporarily excluded from the place of privilege.
2. The grafting in of the branches of a wild olive represents the place of privilege and blessing enjoyed by Gentiles in this age.
3. The rejection of the wild olive branches is hinted at "Take heed lest he spare not thee." Israel was cast aside through unbelief and Christendom likewise, with its superior blessings and privileges, will incur the same judgement. The apostasy and unbelief of Christendom is mounting ever higher and its final casting off is inevitable.
4. The grafting in again of the natural branches (v.24), foreshadows the restoration of Israel to the position of divine favour. It is during the time of detachment of the natural branches and their final grafting in that the economy of grace is manifested.
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE FUTURE REVEALED.
"Simon hath declared how God at the 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 (after these things) 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:
"That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." (Acts 15:14-17).
This Scripture embodies one of the most important chronological revelations found in the New Testament. Here we have in chronological order the divine programme for the future. In outlining the divine purpose Simon indicated four successive stages.
1. The first event. God is "visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name," This is the present stage which began with the preaching of the Apostles, and will continue until the Rapture.
2. The second event. "After this," that is, after the taking out of a people for His name," "I will return." Here is a direct prophecy that Christ will return when the Church is complete.
3. The third event is the rebuilding of the "House of David." The phrase, the "tabernacle of David" interpreted according to the context of Amos can mean only one thing, the restoration of the Davidic kingdom. It will be observed that the coming of the Lord takes place between the Church age and the Kingdom age, completing the one and commencing the other.
4. The fourth and final event. The world-wide worship of Jehovah. "That the residue of men may seek after the Lord." Not the eternal state, mark you, but the Kingdom on the earth.
We draw the attention of the reader to verse 16, "after this." After what? After the Church is completed, and a people gathered out for His name. Thus here we have a definite allowance made for the display of God's grace to the Gentiles.
UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTORATION.
"And he shall send Jesus . . . Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:20-21.)
The word restitution occurs only twice in the New Testament(Acts 1:6), and in the passage under consideration. The world connotes a fulfilment, an establishing, a restoration. Peter informed his hearers that the heavens had only received Jesus Christ for an appointed season, until the theme of the prophets from the beginning was realised. What then was this theme? What was the burden of their oracles? Surely the fulfilment of the cherished hopes of Israel -- the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom. Until the blessed day of restoration dawns, the church age continues to run its appointed course.
THE MISSING WEEK OF DANIEL.
The prophecy of Daniel 9 pertains exclusively to the Jewish people and to no other. The Jews were in captivity in Babylon, and God revealed through an angel what He proposed to do in a given period of seventy years. The seventy years are seventy weeks of years (70 x 7) that is four hundred and ninety years.
This duration of time is broken up into three periods:
1. A period of seven weeks (7 x 7), forty-nine years, in which the Jews would return from captivity and rebuild their temple.
2. A period of sixty-two weeks (7 x 62) - four hundred and thirty-four years, at the end of which Messiah would be cut off. According to the calculation of Sir Robert Anderson, assisted by the Astronomer Royal, four hundred and thirty- four years elapsed between the rebuilding of the temple and the crucifixion of our Lord.
3. We have accounted for sixty-nine weeks of the seventy. There remains but one week to be fulfilled, and since the prophecy of the sixty-nine weeks was fulfilled literally, it follows that the seventieth week will be fulfilled with the same literality.
The seven-year period separates the Church age from the Kingdom age, and will comprise the days of tribulation and the rule of Anti-Christ. Clearly between the sixty-ninth week and the seventieth week, there is an undetermined period which has already attained a duration of over one thousand nine hundred years. This interval is the Church age.
WHY JESUS STOPPED AT THE COMMA
Isaiah 61:2-3 contains a great prophecy concerning the ministry of our Lord Jesus. When our Lord visited the synagogue (Luke 4:16- 19), He read from this passage in Isaiah, but significantly failed to finish the quotation. With pronounced deliberateness, He stopped at the comma, "the acceptable year of the Lord," even though the passage goes on to mention "the day of vengeance of our God."
Our Lord thus differentiated between two distinct events -- the first advent and the second advent. He came to fulfil everything up to the comma in verse 2, but the "day of vengeance" pertained to a future date at the end of this age. The two events were not continuous, but a long period separates them. Our Lord was cognisant of this, and by halting at the comma, he made allowance for the advent of Church, then comes judgement and the setting up of the Davidic kingdom.
JESUS IN HEAVEN WHILE THE JEWS ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR OFFENCE.
The last verse of Hosea 5 taken in conjunction with Hosea 6:1-3 form a striking prophecy.
"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early. Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."
Our Lord is the spokesman here. Rejected and cast out, He returned to His place in the third heaven, but not forever, only for a specified time, an appointed season, until the Jews acknowledge their offence.
That this has not taken place is evidenced by the fact that Israel is still adamant and unrepentant. The interval of time, covered by the "till" of Hosea 5, verse 15, allow for the present age, though the prophets did not forsee it. Many students think that the two days mentioned in verse 2 are prophetic days, and represent two thousand years. For two days, the church has flourished, while Israel has remained dead and lifeless, but when the two days have run their course, blessing is in store for Israel, in the third millenial day.
THE CHURCH A MYSTERY
The advent of the church was a truth unknown to the Old Testament saints. Though the prophecies left room for the Church age, the prophets themselves were ignorant of the truth. Such is the miracle of inspiration.
In Ephesians (3:3-6), Paul refers to the mystery ... which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men; in Romans (16:25), the Church is declared to be a mystery which was kept secret since the world began; while in Colossians (1:26), the same apostle speaks of the mystery which hath been hid from the ages and generations, but is now made manifest to His saints.
What then is this mystery?
Not the conversion of the Gentiles, or the extension of mercy to those outside Israel. That had not been hidden from the Jews, for Messiah was declared to be a "Light to the Gentiles." A mystery in the New Testament sense was not a glorified puzzle or something mysterious in itself, but rather a hidden truth brought to light.
The word is used 27 times in the New Testament, and it is significant that the apostle Paul, the peculiar channel of revelation to the Church, used the word some twenty times.
There are four mystery elements which taken together give the mystery character to the Church.
1. The mystery of the body, Jew and Gentile, mutually antagonistic in former ages, but partakers of the Grace of God, are constituted a "new man." (Eph. 2:15)
2. The mystery of the indwelling Christ. Christ dwells in the believer by faith (Eph. 3:17).
3. The mystery of the bride. (Eph. 5:22-32).
4. The mystery of the rapture. (1 Cor. 15:51).
ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH SEPARATE ENTITIES.
Israel and the Church are not identical. Each is a separate entity with a distinct place in the purposes of God. To confuse these two bodies by substituting a "spiritual Israel" for a "literal Israel" or to make the Church merely an extension of Judaism is to confuse things that differ, and render a true and intelligent understanding of Scripture impossible.
Only let the Bible speak to us as any other book, and all this confusion will be at an end. As long as men persist in putting the Church in the place of Israel they will remain bewildered, without any consistent system of interpretation.
1. The Church was a mystery - a secret truth hidden in the counsels of God, and never revealed until New Testament times. Israel never was a mystery, but was the subject of clear revelation from the beginning.
2. It is often asserted that Israel was the Church of the Old Testament, and the Church is but a development of Israel. This is disproven by the emphatic declaration of Jesus Christ in Matthew 16:18. "I will build my Church." It is obvious that the Church was not yet founded when Jesus uttered these words. The Church is an institution peculiar to this age, and could not in the nature of the case exist prior to the crucifixion, a fact confirmed by the following considerations:
(a) The Church could not have existed before the death of Christ, for the church depends entirely on the "shed blood" for its salvation and cleansing.
(b) The Church could not exist until after the resurrection, for it partakes of the "resurrection life and power."
(c) There could be no Church until Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, for the Church on earth is the "body" and Christ in glory is the "head". To have a Church before Pentecost is to have a headless body.
(d) The testimony and development of the Church depends on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and He could not descend to the earth until the crucified Christ was risen, ascended and glorified. To speak of the Church beginning in the days of Abraham, at Sinai, or in the days of John the Baptist, is obviously false and misleading.
(e) The Church is a unique creation of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit did not descend to take up permanent residency on the earth until Jesus Christ was ascended and glorified.
(f) Furthermore, the Church is burdened with the message of the Gospel. The death and resurrection could not be proclaimed until after they became accomplished facts. The Church without the Gospel is unthinkable, and yet that of necessity must be the position, if the Church began prior to Pentecost.
3. The use of the word "ekklesia" (ek = out of, kaleo = to call), strongly supports the contention that the Church is a distinct body in this age. The word means an assembly or congregation, or an appointed meeting. Israel was constituted a nation at Sinai, and was enjoined to keep separate from the nations. On the contrary, the Church is a people called out from among the nations and tribes of the earth, and is commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature.
4. The "Jewish Nation" and the "Church" are kept separate in the Scriptures. They are opposites, and everywhere they stand in the sharpest antithesis, and after one thousand nine hundred years the distinction still persists. Romans 9-11 provides a most convincing argument at this point. After revealing the nature of the economy of grace, Paul deals with the position of Israel. He thinks it a matter sufficiently important to devote three chapters to Israel in this, the most important book in the New Testament. If Israel has passed off the stage forever, why these three chapters? why the explanation?
The question "Hath God cast away His people?" is answered with an emphatic denial. God hath not cast away his people whom He foreknew." All through these chapters, literal Israel is in view, and her position stands in contrast to the Church. These three chapters flatly contradict all the theories that deny Israel a national future. The testimony of Revelation is most convincing at this point. Revelation 7 records God's dealings with Israel at the end of this present age. That is, almost two thousand years after the supposed transfer of the privileges and blessings to the Church, John refers to "all the tribes of the children of Israel," and then mentions each tribe separately. When John mentions the tribe of Judah he means the literal tribe of Judah and no other. The twelve tribes stand in contrast to the company in verse 9, who are gathered out of every tribe, people and tongue.
The latter body is seen in glory, but the twelve tribes are seen still on the earth. However diverse interpretations may be, one thing is certain: all that is revealed here is future to John's day, and envisages Israel a nation with which God has dealings in the latter days. That Israel is now an autonomous nation and a member of the United Nations Organization gives added force to the contention.
5. Israelites are constituted such by physical birth. They are born into the nation by human generation. In contradistinction, Christians are what they are by the rebirth of the Spirit, and become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
6. The Church and Israel differ vastly as to the authority that governs their earthly life. Basically the rule of Israel's life has remained the same for three thousand five hundred years - the Law of Moses. The Church looks to the New Testament, particularly the Epistles, for the principles that govern its life and conduct under the economy of grace.
7. The relation of the Father and the Son to the Church and Israel differs greatly. Israel knew God by many names and titles, but not as the Father of individuals. The Fatherhood of God is peculiar to the Church. All believers who are born into the divine family have the privilege of addressing God as Father. Then Too, Jesus Christ sustains a different relation to both companies: Jesus Christ is Messiah and King to Israel, but to the Church He sustains a more intimate relationship as Saviour, Lord and Head.
8. The Holy Spirit in Old Testament times came intermittently to earth to inspire a movement, to raise up a leader, but the Christian is personally indwelt by the Spirit.
9. The Church in Scripture is designated a new man (Ephesians 2:15). It is not an extension of Judaism or the old nation in a new setting, but a new creation altogether. He hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, having slain the enmity. (Eph. 2:16).
10. Those who make the Church the legitimate heir of Israel's blessings are strangely silent about the predicted curses. Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy sets forth both the blessing and the curse. Israel proved false to Jehovah and inherited the curses. Could our A-millenial brethren inform us as to the spiritual counterpart of these curses? Thousands of years ago the Spirit of God outlined the history of Israel in this age. What is the testimony of history at this point? What is the verdict of the past two thousand years? Israel has exactly fulfilled the role predicted of her. (1) Scattered among the nations. (2) Persecuted. (3) Judicially blinded. (4) Nationally preserved. (5) Subject to Gentile domination. The return of the Jew to Palestine, the rebuilding of the land, the membership of Israel in the United Nations, are mute reminders of coming events, and must prove a serious embarrassment to opponents of this truth. The destiny of the Church likewise is outlined in the New Testament, and she too will follow along the predicted course to the end.
Both companies have remained separate through the ages, and thus they will remain until the Lord come.
THE PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS.
The prophetic panorama of the seventy weeks has been designated "the backbone of prophecy." Here the whole prophetic programme of Israel's future is revealed. It is one of the strongholds of the futurist interpretation, and it is not surprising that our opponents have made it the special target of their attack.
Mr. Salmon, in his booklet "The Lord Cometh," has one chapter entitled "How Futurism Nullifies the Finished Work of the Cross." A refutation of this, and other equally erroneous interpretations, calls for somewhat detailed consideration of the contents of the prophecy itself.
The vision, concerning Israel's future, vouchsafed to Daniel in Chapter 8, had left the prophet in a state of agitation and perplexity; so much so that God bestowed on Daniel through Gabriel a special gift to understanding in these matters.
Daniel 9:24-27. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
"Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
"And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
We must notice at the outset the particular force of the words, "thy people" and 'thy Holy City." It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of these words, for herein lies the key to the solution of the prophecy. "Thy people" are the Israelites, and "thy Holy City" is Jerusalem. Thus the prophecy of the 70 weeks concerns Israel exclusively. We must therefore repudiate all interpretations other than those that relate to the Jewish nation. "Thy people" and "thy city" are the criteria of interpretation and the premises of application. All subsequent reasoning rests on these introductory criteria. To recklessly disregard such divine sanctions, and then to proceed with an air of infallibility to anathematize the "futurists" for nullifying the work of the cross, seriously indicts the whole argument against the futurist interpretation.
The charge against futurists, made by Mr. Salmon, is needlessly provocative, and is a sweeping discourtesy and a libel on devout multitudes who hold to the futurist interpretation. The falsity of the charge however, will become apparent as the prophecy itself is examined.
The seventy weeks mentioned in verse 24 are weeks of years, that is each week represents seven years. While this may seem to us an abstruse method of measuring time, it was very intelligible to the Hebrews, who commonly employed the method. In Genesis 29:27-28, Laban said to Jacob of Rachel, "Fulfil her week," that is, fulfil her seven years. "And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week" (seven years) and was then entitled to marry Rachel. The seventy year prophecy is divided up into three distinct periods, to wit:
1 A period of seven weeks, or seven sevens of years, which would be forty-nine years. This period of time concerned the rebuilding of the temple after the captivity in Babylon.
2. A period of 62 weeks which is 434 years, which was the exact time that elapsed between the building of the temple and the cutting off of Messiah the Prince.
3. A period of one week, that is, seven years, yet future which comprises the days of tribulation and the reign of Anti-Christ.
Turning to the prophecy, we notice that six things are to be accomplished at the end of the seventy weeks. A-millenialists and others profess to find the fulfilment of these six blessings at the first advent of Christ, and apply them to sinners generally. But this ignores the interpretive safeguards, "thy people" and "thy holy city." Having erred at this point, all their conclusions are necessarily false.
1. To finish transgression (literally, THE transgression). The word rendered finish has as its primary meaning, to restrain, to close up, to hinder. These meanings are shades of the central idea of restraining or completely hindering. Leviticus 26:40 suggests that there is a particular sin, of which the Jewish nation will be held guilty. Hosea 5:15 also suggests the same thing, "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face." Gabriel referred to "the transgression," obviously then, it was a specific sin. This can be no other than the sin of rejecting and crucifying Jesus Christ. At the end of this age, Israel will repent and turn to Him, and the transgression will be removed.
2. To make an end of sins. Not sins in general, but Israel's sins. The meaning of the expression "to make an end of" is given as to "shut", "close," "seal," "hide." "The word," says Dr. Cooper, "was used of the closing of a letter - the primary idea being that of bringing to a conclusion." Such is the significance here! The sin of rejecting Christ has landed Israel into wholesale sin, thus blighting her national life, and making her a byword among the nations. The atonement truly was made at the cross, but Israel ass a nation, stubborn and rebellious, failed to appropriate the blessings. Only a remnant in New Testament days and onward availed themselves of it, but at the time of her "national conversion," the full blessings of Calvary will be experienced.
3. To make reconciliation for iniquity. The word "reconciliation" here means to expiate. Sin has caused a breach between Jehovah and Israel. Daniel's people are still "Lo-Ammi," - not my people; "Lo-ruhamah" not pitied; they are the "dry bones" of Ezekiel 37; the "broken-off branches" of Romans 11:17; but Israel will acknowledge her offence, and the way will be open for "national reconciliation." The virtues of Calvary which have been enjoyed through the age of grace by a believing remnant of Jews, will be enjoyed by all at the close of this age.
4. To bring in everlasting righteousness. At the end of the seventy year period, God will bring in the righteousness of the ages. This is not imputed righteousness, but a national, governmental, civic righteousness. This is nothing less than the world-wide kingdom of the Son of Man.
5. To seal up the vision and prophecy. The word "seal" means to conclude or finish - bringing matters to an end. It will complete all that the seers and prophets have foretold, and when the kingdom has come in reality, prophecy will be no longer required.
6. To anoint the "Most Holy." The expression "Most Holy" is used about forty times in the Scriptures and in the majority of cases it refers to the altar or sanctuary. Some render the passage "to anoint a Holy of Holies." The reference doubtless is to the glorious millenial temple yet to appear.
REASONS WHY THE SIX-FOLD BLESSINGS ARE STILL FUTURE.
After the crucifixion of Christ, official Judaism remained adamant and unrepentant in the face of the most powerful Spirit-guided witness ever seen among men. The book of Acts reveals three crisis-points that highlight the unbelief of Israel.
1. The martyrdom of Stephen was a desperate and decisive expression of official Jewish hatred against the Gospel. The long address of Stephen is the greatest indictment of Israel found in the new Testament.
2. The impassioned outbursts of hatred against the Apostle Paul among the dispersion bear added testimony to the frenzied apathy of Judaism against all things Christian, and reveal the Jews of the dispersion to be one with the Jews of the homeland in their rejection of the Gospel.
3. Acts 13:46 indicates that for official Judaism they day of opportunity was closing, and the blessing was being transferred elsewhere.
"Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
THE TESTIMONY OF ROMANS 9 - 11.
These three chapters have often been treated as a kind of an appendix to the argument in chapters 1-8, but this is quite incorrect. These chapters have a most intimate relation to all that precedes them. After dealing with God's righteousness and the sinner, Paul deals with God's righteousness in relation to Israel in the new economy of grace. We venture to suggest that these three chapters would never have been written had the six-fold blessing of Daniel 9:24 been received by Israel.
Both the language and the arguments of these chapters disprove the A-millenial theories in respect to Israel.
"Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it."
"God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see,
and ears that they should not hear.
"Blindness in part, is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
These texts, representative of the language of these chapters,
clearly reveal that Israel nationally had missed the way. Furthermore Israel
has remained adamant and unbelieving through the ages even to this very
day. So great was this bitterness against Jesus Christ that writers in
the second and third centuries refused even to use the name of Jesus Christ,
preferring to call Him "
That man," "The fool," "The One Hung," "The Son of a Stake."
How utterly impossible for people with such a refractory spirit to be the recipients of the blessings enumerated in this prophecy.
To reject the futurists' interpretation of the 70th week involves our opponents in further difficulties, for if the seventy weeks have run their course as A-millenialists allege, then Israel nationally has not received the predicted blessings, the prophecy is made void, God's Word impugned, and God's faithfulness impeached.
The Scriptures indicate with great clarity both the manner and time of Israel's national conversion.
"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant
of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness
in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come
in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, `There shall come
out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob'."
All Israel, here means all Israelites living in the day when the Lord appears in power and glory. A partial and temporary hardening of Israel has been permitted, but when God's purpose for the Church is completed, He turns in great mercy to Israel. Before this day dawns, God will have purged out the rebellious and unbelieving. "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third part shall be left therein." (Zechariah 13:8-9).
The testimony of Ezekiel 20:38 is stronger still: "I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me ... and they shall not enter into the land of Israel." "All Israel" then, is the godly remnant that remains after the rest have been swept from the earth in judgement.
And now the manner of how they will be saved. "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn ungodliness from Jacob." (Romans 11:26). The Lord returns to Zion for the salvation, deliverance and restoration of His people. The iniquity of the land is removed in one day. (Zechariah 3:9).
"Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once?" (Isaiah 66:8).
"Oh that the Salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." (Psalm 14:7).
In considering the manner of Israel's conversion, verse 27 is quite often overlooked. "For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sin." The words refer back to numerous Old Testament prophecies, particularly Jeremiah 31, where the terms of the new covenant are set forth. Thus the manner and time of Israel's conversion is set forth, and the immutable purpose of God declared in verse 29, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
We have seen that the six-fold blessing pertains exclusively to Israel, and further we have noted that at no time during the past 1900 years have they as a nation been the recipients of these blessings. What then, becomes of the charge that the Futurist interpretation nullifies the finished work of the cross? It fails hopelessly to account for the facts of Scripture and history, and is revealed to be nothing less than a mass of impossible error.
WHO IS MESSIAH THE PRINCE?
The actual time when this great prince was to appear in Israel is indicated. From the time of the issuing of the royal decree to rebuild Jerusalem to Messiah the Prince was to be 69 week-years, or 483 years; or seven times 69 prophetic years of 360 prophetic days. The expiration of this period was marked by two events of momentous significance; (1) the Triumphant Entry in Jerusalem, and (2) the public acknowledgement of our Lord's Messiahship. How striking and significant are the words of Luke 19:42, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now are they hid from thine eyes."
It was in "this day" that His kingly claims were publicly acknowledged by the people at large, but flatly rejected by the ruling caste. In a matter of days, Messiah was hounded to Golgotha, and crucified. "And after 62 weeks shall Messiah be cut off and shall have nothing." The latter expression "shall have nothing" is taken by some to refer to the fact that He did not receive the Messianic Kingdom. What was rightly His did not come to Him.
THE JEWISH CLOCK STOPPED AT THE CROSS.
Israel's history a an elect nation was temporarily suspended at the crucifixion of Christ. The Jewish clock stopped at the termination of the 69 weeks, and will remain at a standstill during the calling-out of the Church. When the Church has been removed from the earthly scene, God takes up His dealings again with Israel.
That a gap exists between the 69th and 70th week has been hotly contested by our opponents. The fact that no gap occurs between the 7th and 62nd weeks cause some to conclude that it is impossible to have a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks.
The reason for this surely is obvious. There occurred at the end of the 69 week the greatest single event in human history, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Thus the relation between God and the Jewish nation was broken, and Israel has had no scripturally recognized history since.
WHO CONFIRMS THE COVENANT?
"And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off but not for himself (shall have nothing), and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary."
The reader will observe that there are two princes mentioned, "Messiah the prince," in verse 25, and the "prince that shall come" in verse 26. These two princes are not one and the same person. Messiah the Prince is the Messiah Jesus Christ, while the Prince that shall come is the final dictator, the Anti-Christ. The one is cut off while the other confirms an agreement with the Jews for 7 years. and after 3-1/2 years breaks the agreement, causing the sacrifice and oblation to cease.
According to certain writers, "Messiah the Prince" and "the Prince that shall come," are one and the same person, namely Jesus Christ. This conclusion however, lands it advocates into an impossible position, for in verse 26 we are informed that the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the temple). If the "prince that shall come" is Jesus Christ, then it follows that His own people, the Jews destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. The notion of the Jew destroying their own city is too absurd for words, and is contradicted by history which records that the Romans destroyed the city and the sanctuary in A.D. 70.
In verse 27 we are informed that "he" (the coming prince), will confirm the covenant with many (for) one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.
This verse is vital indeed to the Futurist interpretation, and our opponents recognizing this, have concentrated their attacks at this point. What mental gymnastics, what contortions, what twistings to overthrow the futurist interpretation at this point, but all in vain.
Mr. Hughes asserts (page 169) that the covenant in Daniel 9:27 is the "New Covenant," and that Jesus Christ is the one who confirms it, and cites Matthew 26:28 "This is my blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins." If this be so, then our friends have placed themselves in a desperate situation indeed. That the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is the new covenant is a groundless supposition, quite easily demonstrated to be false. The New Covenant confirmed to believers by Jesus Christ is an everlasting covenant. (Hebrews 13:20), but the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is only for seven years, and is broken after 3-1/2 years. The fact that the covenant of Daniel 9:27 was confirmed "for the many" and Matthew 26:28 intended for "many" proves nothing. The two covenants are totally dissimilar. The "many" in Daniel 9:27 represent the apostate Jews who enter into a compact with Anti- Christ, while the "many" in Matthew 26 represent all who are willing to believe and repent. Furthermore, the benefits of the covenant in Matthew 26:28 are for all and sundry, Jew and Gentile alike, while the benefit of the covenant in Daniel is limited according to the original terms of application to Israel (Daniel 9:24).
The prince who makes the covenant breaks it after three and a half years. Where is there the slightest evidence that Jesus Christ concluded an agreement for 7 years with anyone, Jew or Gentile?
Where is the evidence that Jesus Christ broke the covenant He is alleged to have made after 3-1/2 year. The whole thing is a monstrous absurdity concocted to extricate theorists from their dilemma.
Furthermore, the one who concludes the covenant causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease. If the "Coming Prince" is Jesus Christ, then he it is who causes the Jewish sacrificial system to come to an abrupt ending.
Where is there evidence of such a thing? Not in the Bible or anywhere else. The death of Christ did not abruptly terminate the Jewish ritual. It continued for a further 40 years until the destruction of Jerusalem brought it to an end.
Again it is to be observed that "he" of verse 27 who confirms the covenant with Israel relates back to verse 26 and must apply to cone of the two persons mentioned, namely, "Messiah the Prince" or "the Prince that shall come." Apart from any other consideration the laws of grammar compel us to refer the pronoun "he" to the last-mentioned person, "The Prince that shall come."
Theissen comment as follows: "It is more natural to refer the pronoun `he' to the prince mentioned in the last part of verse 26, namely the Roman Prince.
"this was not Vespasian the Roman Emperor A.D. 69-79, nor his son and successor Titus, who ruled from A.D. 79-81.
"Neither of these made or broke a covenant with the Jews. Titus only lived two years after his accession to the throne."
Furthermore, that the person denominated "he" in verse 27 is not the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is proven by the language in the latter part of verse 27. "And upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate. And even unto the consummation and that determined shall wrath be poured and on the desolator." (Daniel 9:27 R.V.).
According to Messrs. Hughes (page 169) and Salmon (page 26) the "he" of verse 27 is Jesus Christ, and in that case all this wrathful and ominous language must apply to the Lord himself, a conclusion from which even the most ardent A-millenialists would recoil.
The seven-year period and its division into three and a half years constitutes a thorny problem to Historicists and A-millenialists. How to dispose of it, circumvent it, has only produced a further crop of errors. One cannot forbear at this point, to mention a simple story of a little girl who has had presented to her a pair of very long gloves with some 20 buttons. Attempting to put on the gloves she ended time and again in frustration. Finally the mother called out to her, "Get the first button in the first hole and all the rest will follow." Good advice to prophetic students. Get Israel in its right place to begin with, then there is harmony throughout. Deny Israel its place in the prophetic programme and chaos follows.
Our friends are one with us in accepting the week as a literal seven years and the division of the week as 3-1/2 years. Mr. Salmon (pages 28 and 29), professes to find the first 3-1/2 years in the public ministry of our Lord and places the last 3-1/2 years 40 years later at the destruction of Jerusalem. Finding himself up against an insuperable difficulty, Mr. Salmon create a neat little parenthesis of his own, a 40 year period. But that is not the end of the matter, for the same writer hold up holy hands in horror at the Futurists who, following a practice current in the early Church, of placing a parenthesis between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel's prophecy.
Mr. Hughes fares no better. He refers to the Tribulation "in A.D. 70 and onwards" (page 186). This statement, a it stands can mean only one thing, namely that the Tribulation began at the destruction of Jerusalem, and has continued through the centuries. In another place (page 61) we are assured by the same writer that the 1000 year period runs its course between the two advents of Christ (page 113), and that it is symbolic of this present age. How the Tribulation can run concurrently with the Millenium of peace we have not been able to work out.
Further, Mr. Hughes asserts that the 70 weeks are consecutive, and that case the 490 year period expired 7 years after the death of Jesus Christ. But this is 33 years before the destruction of Jerusalem. How then is this gap covered? It is alleged (page 169), that out Lord's prayer on the cross for the forgiveness of His enemies gave a reprieve of 40 years to the Jewish nation and then judgement fell. Obviously, this is just a clever manoeuvre, a case of making the Scriptures fit the theory. Such obvious fallacies are symptomatic of the desperation of those who offer them. In their zeal to push Futurism over the precipice, our opponents have toppled over themselves into a morass of theory and speculation.
If the covenant mentioned in Daniel 9:27 is the "new covenant" confirmed by Jesus Christ, as Mr. Hughes asserts on page 169, then what are we to make of the language in the closing part of verse 27.
The Revised Version renders this passage: "And upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate. And even unto the consummation and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolator."
Such language could refer to Anti-Christ, his pretensions and final end, but how it could sustain a relation to the alleged new covenant is difficult to understand. What has the over-spreading of abominations got to do with the new covenant? Or Judgement poured out on the desolator. The whole context cries out in protest against such an alien interpretation being forced upon it.
THE DURATION OF THE TRIBULATION
ACCORDING TO DANIEL AND REVELATION
In Daniel 9:27 we read "And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week." These words are important, for they not only introduce us to the counterfeit Christ, but fix the duration of the Tribulation. That the Tribulation is a fixed time, a specific period, is plainly indicated throughout Scripture.
1. Daniel was told that the 70 years were "cur off," "determined" or "measured." The reference here is to the three periods of years, to wit, 49, 434 and 7 years respectively.
2. Daniel informs us that the coming Prince makes a covenant for 7 years (one week). The week is then divided into halves. The first 3-1/2 years will be a period of general world distress, while the last period of 3-1/2 years represents the Tribulation proper.
This period is referred to variously in Scripture as a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 12:7).
3. The Remnant of Israel is miraculously preserved from the wrath of Anti-Christ for a time, times and half a time. (Rev. 12:14).
4. The improvised Jewish temple to be erected during the Tribulation is to be trodden under foot 42 months. (Rev.11:2).
5. "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days." (Rev. 11:3).
In an attempt to offset the force of these Scriptures, all kinds of desperate hypotheses and extravagant exegesis have been indulged in, but after history has been thoroughly sifted for parallels our friends inevitably fall back on the oft-exploded theory of the destruction of Jerusalem. Truly this theory is to our opponents a very "present help in the time of trouble," but even this affords them no relief.
The fact that Revelation makes four references to the duration of the last half of Daniel's week is fatal to the theory.
The destruction of Jerusalem took place in A.D. 70, but the Revelation was written in A.D. 95 which clearly proves that the Tribulation lies in the future.
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
The term abomination is used in the Scriptures to denote a detestable object or some abhorrent religious practise.
It is used of the revulsion felt by the Egyptians toward the Hebrews (Gen. 43:32) and in 1 Kings 11:5 the word is used of the false gods of the children of Ammon, and in 2 Kings 23:13 of Ashtoreth, the Sidonian goddess, who is designated an abomination. The "abomination that maketh desolate" is mentioned in Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; and is generally believed to denote both a person and an image.
In Revelation 13, the false prophet has an image made of Anti-Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 declares that the man of sin will exalt himself against all that is called God, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.
Mark 13:14 (R.V.) informs us that the abomination is a person. "But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where `he ' ought not."
That the "abomination" was the Roman armies and their ensigns bearing the image of Caesar at the overthrow of the city, is ruled out completely. Prof. Streeter arguing against such a possibility says "the use of the masculine participle `standing' implies a personal presence, and that it refers to Anti-Christ personally."
That Israel will erect a temple and observe their temple ritual after the rapture is regarded by Mr. Hughes as "fanciful in the extreme." (Page 172).
However, amazing things are happening before our eyes. Israel is now an autonomous nation once more, back in the land of Palestine. Her earnest desire is to repossess Jerusalem and erect the temple. It only needs a slight adjustment of their boundaries and the way will be open for the erection of the temple.
Since the first world war, events are proving futurists increasingly correct, and the erection of the temple and the resumption of sacrifices is not so fanciful as we are led to believe.
REASONS FOR REJECTING THE A-MILLENIAL INTERPRETATION
OF THE 70-WEEKS PROPHECY, AS ADVOCATED BY MESSRS.
HUGHES AND SALMON.
1. The interpretation completely ignores the terms of application, "thy people," and "thy holy city," severely limiting the prophecy to Israel.
2. The theory totally ignores the fact that Israel, still adamant and unbelieving, has never been the recipient of the six-fold blessing of Daniel 9:24.
3. The total inability of the theories advanced to adequately explain the significance of the 7-year period and the division of the week, or to find it a suitable place in past history.
4. By declaring the "he" of verse 27 to be Messiah, the theory requires Jesus Christ to make a covenant for 7 years, and then to violate it after 3-1/2 years. To foist such an absurdity on the Christian public reveals the utter weakness of the theory.
5. A corollary made necessary by the theory is that Jesus Christ by His death abruptly terminated temple ritual. History discounts this, and affirms that the end of these things came in A.D. 70.
6. The theory can only be maintained by violating the laws of grammar by applying the "he" of verse 27 to the remotest antecedent, "the Prince that shall come."
7. The theory requires the "abomination of desolation" to be the presence of the Roman armies and their ensign before Jerusalem A.D. 70; whereas Scripture reveals the abomination to be a person (Mark 13:14 R.V.), or alternatively the idol of Anti-Christ. (Rev. 13). The interpretation further declares the tribulation to be the destruction of Jerusalem, a contention utterly disproven by Matthew 24:29, and the testimony of Revelation written 25 years after the event, A.D. 95. and containing four futuristic references to the tribulation.
8. The logic of the interpretation adopted compels its advocates to apply the awesome language of the latter part of Daniel 9:27 to Messiah, as "the desolator," a conclusion utterly repugnant to Christian thinking.
The futurist interpretation is the only one that fully meets the facts of Scripture and history alike, and this it does in the most simple and artless manner, without the straining of a single word. Furthermore, it places in our hands a key to the interpretation of the Revelation, and rescues this vital prophecy from the untenable exegesis its friends have thrust upon it.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. ARE THERE TWO ASPECTS OF THE SECOND COMING?
Those who reject millenary doctrines usually locate the Rapture of the saints at the very end of time, just prior to the fiery judgements with which human history closes.
Not a few Pre-millenialists who reject the dual nature of the second advent locate the Rapture at the "great and terrible day of the Lord" with which this present age terminates. In either case the advent is seen as one event. Futurists, on the contrary, teach that the coming of the Lord is not only pre-millenial, but the advent itself has two distinct aspects or stages. We are convinced that the recognition of the twofold coming is the key to the correct understanding of advent teaching. To ignore the distinctions which Scripture itself makes renders a truly consistent interpretation impossible. Our Lord comes first for the Church and then at a subsequent time He returns in great glory and power to judge the world. The former event is popularly known as the Rapture and the latter event as the Revelation. Each aspect is represented in the Scriptures by a particular set of prophecies, such as the Thessalonian epistles, where the Rapture is the theme of the first epistle, and the Revelation the evident theme of the second. The word rapture, though commonly employed, is not found in the Scriptures. The word itself is defined as the act of conveying a body from one place to another.
A more scriptural expression is "catch away" or "caught up," a translation of the word "harpazo."
In Matthew 13:19, Satan "catcheth away the seed of the Gospel," in Acts 8:39, the Spirit of the Lord "caught away" Philip and transported him to Azotus, some miles away.
The word is used twice in II Corinthians 12 of the Apostle Paul, "caught up" into Paradise and of the man child in Revelation 12:5, "caught up" to heaven. So in the Rapture the saints will be "caught up" together, I Thess. 4:17.
The word "harpazo" also carries with it the thought of irresistible force, the presence of a power none can stay.
In Jude 23, it is used of "pulling" certain ones out of the fire, while in John 10:12, it is used of the word which catcheth the sheep and hears them away.
When that day arrives, the Church will be gripped by an overwhelming force, and the law of gravity will go into reverse.
The distinct nature of the two events is clearly revealed by the following contrasts:
1. The coming of Jesus Christ for His saints is designated a "secret truth" or a "new truth," while the coming of the Lord in glory and power to judge the world is a truth plainly declared from the beginning. The Apostle Paul was the peculiar channel of revelation concerning the Church; its nature, functions, and hope, therefore, can alone be learned from the Pauline epistles. The Rapture of the saints too, is the exclusive revelation of the Apostle. Writing to the Corinthians concerning this "exceptional coming," he prefaces his remarks with strikingly significant words, "Behold I show you a mystery." (I Corinthians 15:51).
We draw the attention of the reader to the force of the word "mystery." The word, in the popular language of today, signifies something abstruse or difficult to understand. The word, however, is used in an entirely different sense in the New Testament. There it connotes that something hidden is now revealed, or a truth kept secret is now openly declared. Many of the later translations bring out this truth with greater clarity than does the Authorised Version.
Way translates it "mystic secret," Weymouth "a truth hitherto kept secret," the Amplified New Testament "a secret truth." This is exactly the sense in which the Apostle employs the word in I Cor. 15:51. It was a new truth entirely; something never before made known. Now the coming of the Lord in Judgement is not a new truth, for even Enoch, a prophet before the flood, declared by inspiration, "Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints." (Jude 14). The major and minor prophets unite in a mighty chorus of testimony to this event. Obviously, then, this cannot be the mystery coming of which the Apostle speaks. The first hint of this coming was given by the Lord himself in John 14:3, "If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself." Our Lord contented Himself with the bare statement, no exposition was attempted, and no details given. It was uttered in anticipation of the time when a fuller revelation would be given. It was one of the "many things' which they could not then receive but which would be revealed at a later time.
2. The Day of Christ and the Day of the Lord. These two "days" are distinct and apply to entirely different events. Readers of the Old Testament are familiar with the expression "the Day of the Lord" and according to the united testimony of the prophets on this day the power and glory of Jehovah will be seen and felt the world over. It will be a day of wrath, and vengeance, for the wicked of the earth, wherein idolatry, poverty, injustice, crime and wars will be at an end, and righteousness and peace shall possess the earth.
When we turn to the New Testament we discover that there is another day, a day not known to the Old Testament prophets, a day which is peculiarly a New Testament revelation. It is the "Day of Christ." This day belongs exclusively to the Christian Church and has no reference to Israel or the world. The expression, be it noted, is confined exclusively to Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. "That ye may be blameless in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 1:7-8).
"We are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the Day of the Lord Jesus." (2 Cor. 1:14). "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ." (Phil.1:6). "That I may rejoice in the Day of Christ." (Phil.2:16). "That ye may be sincere and without offence till the Day of Christ." (Phil.1:10).
Believers are taught to look for the Day of Christ and to fix their regard on that day above all others. That day brings the coming of the Lord into the air, the gathering of the Church into His presence, the judgement of believers, the investigation of stewardship and the distribution of crowns. The Day of Jehovah conjures up thoughts of indignation, wrath and destruction; but in this, believers in Christ have no part.
3. At the Rapture, Jesus Christ comes for His Church, whereas at the Revelation He comes with his Church. The descent of the Church with the Lord presupposes a previous coming when believers are gathered into His presence. Two events transpire between the coming of the Lord for the saints, and His coming with them.
There is first the Bema judgement before which all believers are to appear. "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10).
This judgement has nothing to do with eternal salvation; that was decided when the believer was still on the earth. At the Bema judgement, there is to be an investigation of the believers' stewardship. The life since conversion comes up for scrutiny, for the basis of this judgement is the deeds done in the body. We are personally responsible for what goes on in the body, and in that day, the hidden things shall be declared and the counsels and motives of the heart laid bare.
The Bema judgement fixes our place in the heavenly society for Eternity, and henceforth the Church shines forth in its true beauty without a spot or wrinkle. One more event, however, must take place ere the Church is ready for the descent to earth, the Marriage Super of the Lamb. This is the joyous and thrilling climax to redemption, and the Church henceforth appears as the "Lamb's Wife". These events entail time, so that any suggestion that the Church is raptured from earth to meet the Lord as He descends in judgement to the world, is ruled out entirely.
4. The first coming of Christ occupied a period 33-1/2 years in which there were two distinct aspects of the event. Jesus Christ was first revealed as a babe and was recognised by representatives of the true Israel, Simeon and Anna. Then after 30 years had elapsed, He was openly declared to the world at His baptism. Likewise, the second advent extends over a period and includes different events.
5. The Rapture is pre-eminently the coming of the Bridegroom for the Bride. This is the sole object in view and constitutes one of the most solemn, sacred and joyous events of the ages. With what ecstasy the Church anticipates that day, when for the first time, she shall see Him whom not having seen, she has loved. No thought of judgement or wrath will be permitted to intrude upon the scene. In contradistinction, the Revelation is surrounded by very different emotions. It is the day of vengeance, wrath, darkness and gloom and can only be anticipated with feelings of dread and terror.
6. The expression "to meet" in the Scripture, "Shall together with them be caught up to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thess. 4), is full of spiritual instruction. The expression connote a going out to meet and returning with. Dr. F.F. Bruce writes in this connection. In I Thess. 4:15-17, the same phrase, "eis apantesin," is linked with the term "parousia." In other words, when Christ returns to earth His people will go forth to welcome Him and form His escort. While parousia and apantesis separately need not have this spiritual sense, their collocation in this passage strongly supports the interpretation. When some distinguished person was approaching a town to pay an official visit or a parousia, a deputation of leading citizens went out to meet him and escorted him on the final stage of the journey. This sense of the Greek word apantesis, became so regular that it was even used as a technical term in Latin. Cicero, for example, referring to Julius Caesar in Italy, says:
"Just imagine what an apantesis he receives from the towns." (The Books and Parchments pp.67-68).
The word apantesis is used in Acts 28:15 of certain Roman saints who came out some 33 miles from Rome to meet the apostle Paul and having greeted him returned with him to the city.
The word is again used in Matthew 25:1, 25:6, of the virgins going out to meet the bridegroom, and then according to custom returning with him. The word implies three things: (1) a going out; (2) a time occupied with formal greetings and introductions; (3) an act of returning.
Thus the Church that goes forth "to meet" the Lord will return with Him at a subsequent time.
7. In the Rapture, Christ comes into the aid (I Thess. 4:17), in the Revelation He comes to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4).
8. The presence of Holy Angels are mentioned in connection with the Revelation as executors of divine judgements, whereas at the Rapture there is reference to the voice of the archangel but the presence of angels generally is not indicated.
9. The Rapture is preceded by moral signs, the Revelation is preceded by physical signs. It is often said signs are not for the Church, but that is only true relatively. The Rapture is an integral part of the end-time programme and is inter-related closely in time with the end of the age and the Day of the Lord, so that the signs of the one must necessarily be the signs of the other. Amongst the moral and religious developments against which the Church is warned we list the following:
(1) Religious peril. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) (2) Seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. (I Timothy 4:1). (3) Churches will turn to fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4). (4) Apostasy in Christendom. (2 Thess. 2:3). (5) The reunion of Christendom. (Rev.17:3-7).
Concerning the apostasy in Christendom the expression "falling away," is of particular significance.
The Greek word for this expression is "apostasia." The word means to give up, desert, abandon. It relates primarily to the abandonment of the faith formerly held, the repudiation of what is known to be right. Moreover, the Greek uses the definite article "the apostasy". Modernism, which has as its end the overthrow of the historic Christian Faith, is without doubt the beginnings of the apostasy and though the Church will see the beginning of these things, it will not see its final end.
The Holy Spirit warns believers against these developments which the Church has come to regard as signs of the approaching day. However, the Rapture is not dependent on signs as such, but the Revelation cannot take place until certain signs have matured, namely:
1. The rise of anti-Christ. 2. The rise of the ten kingdoms. 3. The development of Babylon in its triplicate forms. 4. The partial return of the Jew to Palestine. 5. The great apostasy.
The day of the Lord is accompanied by startling physical signs, convulsions of nature and signs and portents so fearful that the whole world will be appalled and paralysed with terror. Joel testifies of that day. "The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord come, and I will show wonders in the heavens, and on the earth blood and fire and vapour of smoke." (Joel 2:20-31). John testifies, "There was a great earthquake and the sun became as black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth." (Rev. 6:12). The Rapture will take place suddenly and unexpectedly, and obviously if it were preceded by all these startling events the divine purpose would be entirely frustrated and the element of surprise would disappear.
10. The Rapture and the Revelation are two movements of one great event. With each movement is associated a definite programme of events quite dissimilar. At the Rapture, two classes are affected:
1. The mortals, the living saints;
2. The corruptible, the righteous dead.
The living saints will be taken out from among the unbelievers, while the righteous dead will be raised from the great mass of the dead. The language of Scripture is most specific at this point. It is not just resurrection of the dead, but (ek nekron) "out of the dead" or out from the dead. Thirty-four times the expression is used of our Lord's resurrection "out from the dead". Three times it is used of the resurrection of Lazarus as one raised from the mass of the dead. The expression in Acts 4:1-2 The "resurrection which is from the dead" stirred the ire of Sadducean unbelief. The expression in Philippians 3:11 is particularly strong. The Authorised Version simply renders if, "resurrection of the dead," but literally it is "the out-resurrection from among the dead."
Olhausen declares that the phrase would be inexplicable if it were not derived from the idea that out of the mass of the dead some would arise. The Rapture brings the entire Church into the presence of the Lord and the first of the sessional judgements proceeds. After the Bema judgement, follows the marriage supper of the Lamb, and the Church henceforth becomes the Lamb's wife. Thus the programme for the Church is finalised before the Kingdom programme is implemented.
In the Revelation, the Lord appears in an altogether different role and for an altogether different purpose, viz.:
1. The national salvation of Israel. (Romans 11.)
2. The day of wrath for evil-doers. (2 Thess. 2.)
3. The overthrow of all human institutions. (Daniel 2).
4. The judgement of the nations. (Matt. 25).
5. The establishment of the Kingdom. (Daniel 7).
After completing matters pertaining to the Church the Lord proceeds to deal with Israel and the world.
Some who dissent at this point, teach that the coming of the Lord is one event, and that as Christ comes down in judgement He takes the saints up to meet Him. Now there are some notable Scriptures which graphically describe the great and terrible day of the Lord: Isaiah 63:1-6; Isaiah 2:10-22; Joel 2; 2 Thess. 2; Revelation 19; Zechariah 14. We may search these Scriptures and other similar passages, but we will not find one hint or suggestion that the Rapture takes place at this time. Surely, if the saints were translated at this time, there would be some allusion to it, but no, these Scriptures are silent. On the other hand, we may examine another group of Scriptures, namely those that pertain to the coming of the Lord for the Church, and nowhere is there the slightest hint that judgement or vengeance is connected with it. 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 1 Thess. 4:15-17; Hebrews 9:28.
We conclude, therefore, that both aspects are distinct operations, and separate workings wherein the Church economy is terminated on the one hand, and the visible earthly Kingdom inaugurated on the other.
2. DOES FUTURISM HINDER REVIVAL?
On page 46 of the booklet "The Lord Cometh," under the chapter entitled "How Futurism Hinders Revival." there appears this statement:
"The Futurist system of interpretation is a very real hindrance in this matter."
We have read a great deal about hindrance to revival, well, at last Mr. Salmon has discovered the nigger in the wood pile, it is these wretched Futurists who are holding up revival and keeping back the "latter rains."
Such a misrepresentation is so wide of the mark that we are tempted to sigh rather than reply.
The whole indictment is a grave libel on the great army of Futurist missionaries, evangelists, and pastors, for there is a compulsion that accompanies advent teaching, that simply compels action, a note of urgency, a moral intensity, an evangelistic passion; for one cannot anticipate the Rapture without being mightily stirred. Conduct grows out of belief and the fruit of Futurism is not defeatism, or despairing passivity; neither is Futurism a lullaby, but a trumpet call to service. Moody, Torrey, Chapman, Graham, four names unmatched in the field of evangelism. Did their Futurist outlook hinder their efforts? On the contrary, all have confessed that the "Blessed Hope" drove them ever onward.
It was Moody who wrote, "I have felt like working twice as hard as ever since I came to understand that my Lord was coming back again. I look on this world as a wrecked vessel, God has, as it were, given me a life-boat, and said to me, `Moody, save all you can'." That is the spirit of Futurism and the reason for this dynamic is not far to seek. Futurism with its emphasis on the imminency of the Rapture gives relevancy to the great event in our daily lives. Theories that put the advent in the distant future, remove it from the span of our life with the inevitable result that the advent becomes shadowy and unreal, and watching and waiting lose their meaning. Before considering the Scriptural basis of Mr. Salmon's indictment let us give attention to two statements which involve the writer in an obvious contradiction. On page 49 it is stated "This Gospel age will finish up with the most wonderful revival that this world has ever seen or will see," then on page 74, there appears the statement, "This present age of grace will end up with a great falling away from the faith." These statements are contradictory and mutually exclusive.
In the latter statement Mr. Salmon speaks like a true Futurist and what he says is true, but the former statement about world revivals such as we have never seen, based on Joel's prophecy, is an utterly false deduction, which can only be maintained by wrenching Joel's prophecy out of its context, and applying what belongs primarily to Israel in the day of its national restoration, to the world at large.
All are agreed that at Pentecost there was a partial fulfilment of Joel's prophecy, but it should be noted that Peter was careful not to say that the events of Pentecost were a fulfilment of the prophecy. Peter identified the power but not the event. "This is that." What happened at Pentecost is exactly what will happen in the "Day of the Lord," but Mr. Salmon, in common with others, is so set on revival that he is willing to turn even the Scriptures upside down to get it. This undoubtedly is the cause of much of the lightweight evangelism of our day, with its unscriptural slogans, "Back to Pentecost," "Pentecost in our Day," etc. Futurists are all for revival and soul-winning, but are not prepared to distort the Scripture in their desire to obtain it.
The full and final fulfilment of Joel's prophecy lies outside the Church age as the context of Joel's prophecy suggests.
Chapter 2 and 3 of Joel await fulfilment in the future. An outline of Chapter 2 suggests the context of which the prophecy is part.
The order of events is as follows:
1. The sounding of the alarm of impending disaster.
2. The invading army from the north.
3. The national repentance of Israel.
4. The Lord turns in mercy to Israel.
5. The blessings of God on Israel.
6. The outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh.
7. The centre of revival: Zion and Jerusalem.
The outpouring of the Spirit and the ensuing revival
accompanied by strange portents and physical convulsions:
1. Wonders in heaven.
2. On the earth blood.
4. Pillars of smoke.
5. Sun darkened.
6. Moon turned into blood.
7. Israel calling on the name of the Lord.
Nor is this the end of the matter, for the phenomena mentioned here is referred to in other Scriptures, but always in connection with Israel's restoration in the Day of the Lord.
Isa. 13:10; Matt.24:29; Acts 2:20; Rev. 6:12.
Another Scripture brought in to support the teaching of sweeping world revivals is Hosea 6:3. Again the vicious practice of detaching Scripture from its context is painfully evident. The prophecy in Hosea is Jewish through and through, and can have no reference to the world at large. The context of the prophecy in question commences at Hosea 5:15. Our Lord, rejected by Jewry, returns to His place in the third heaven until Israel acknowledges its sin. The two days of national dearth and spiritual slumber date from the time of the Lord's ascension.
If the two days date from the time of Zedekiah, 600 B.C., the world revival should have come some 400 years ago. Evidently there is something amiss in Mr. Salmon's schedule and the whole thing is obviously a tragic distortion. Many Futurists take the two days to represent the 2000 years of the age of grace, in which Israel is cast aside, but in the third millenial day God will visit them with national revival and blessing.
3. WILL THE CHURCH GO THROUGH THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
With the world situation developing as it is, and nations trembling on the verge of a global gehenna, the relationship of the Church to the "Great Tribulation" has been thrust into the very forefront of evangelical thought.
Is the Church destined to pass through the Tribulation? Are believers to be exposed to the wrath of God and the vengeance of Anti-Christ? Or does the Church escape the travail of that day by being caught away from the world and raptured to heaven?
The question is obviously a touchy one, and one that has occasioned not a little controversy, representing as it does the major cause of cleavage among Pre-millenialists.
Apart from individual viewpoints, there are at least four distinct positions occupied by Christians generally.
1. The Pre-tribulation interpretation which asserts that the Lord comes for the Church before the tempest of wrath breaks over the world.
2. The Mid-tribulation position, which maintains that Christ will come for the Church in the middle of Daniel's seventieth week, that is, the Church will be left to pass through the first three and a half years of tribulation.
3. The Post-tribulation viewpoint which insists that the Church passes through the entire seven years of tribulation. The coming of the Lord is seen as one event, and that as the Lord is coming down to Judge the world, the Church rises to meet Him and then returns with Him to the earth.
4. The advocates of the "partial Rapture" affirm that when the Lord comes He will select only the spiritual ones for the Rapture and allow the rest to go through the Tribulation.
Concerning this latter position, two facts argue strongly against it, and in the mind of the writer render the view wholly untenable.
A. The Scriptures clearly indicate that our Lord is coming for "the dead in Christ" (1 Thess. 4:16), and for the living saints designated "they that are Christ's" (1 Cor. 15:23). We must be content to allow the matter to rest there. Any further divisions are quite arbitrary and unwarranted.
B. Advocates of the partial rapture look upon the Rapture as a reward for faithful living. This, however, is not so.
The Church age began with a wonderful display of grace, at Calvary, and it will end with a great act of grace, the Rapture.
Degrees of faithfulness, and spirituality, differences as to service and stewardship which exist among believers are judged not at the Rapture, but at the Bema judgement of believers.
In presenting the case for the Pre-tribulation Rapture, we have sought to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves, rather than dismissing the matter by listing formal reasons.(15 in all)
1. The Great Tribulation is a period of suffering and travail unique and unparalleled in human history. The Word of God leaves us in no doubt as to that. It is designated by Daniel, a "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation" (Daniel 12:1), and by our Lord declared to be "Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21), while in Revelation 7:14 it is referred to as "the Great Tribulation" or more literally "Tribulation, the Great One."
Our Post-Tribulation friends, when confronted with this testimony, seek to obviate the force of these Scriptures, first by playing down the acute travail and suffering of this period, and by asserting that despite the terrors of the Great Tribulation the Church will be miraculously preserved through it.
All this sounds plausible until we begin to examine the global nature of the Tribulation judgements.
These judgements will be so world-wide in their scope, particularly at the end of Tribulation, that escape will be well-nigh impossible.
The deliverance of Israel in Egypt is offered as proof of God's ability to preserve a people in the midst of judgement. However, the position of Israel in Egypt and the Church in the world, are not analogous. All Israel dwelt in one place and the Egyptians in another, but believers will be scattered throughout the world, often inhabiting the same dwellings.
The former judgements were local, but the latter will be cosmic.
The Tribulation is declared to be "the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world," (oikoumene, the inhabited earth). (Rev. 3:10).
Isaiah declares that the earth itself will be mightily shaken and affected. (Isaiah 24:17-20).
"Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth.
"And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.
"The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved (broken), the earth is moved exceedingly.
"The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again."
Isaiah 13:13: "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger."
Isaiah 2:19-21: "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."
Revelation 6:13-14: "And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
"And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places."
It is evident from these, and other parallel Scriptures, that the whole course of nature will be dislocated, and convulsed, filling the inhabitants of the earth with consternation and dread.
2. The Tribulation is characterized by the outpouring of divine wrath and vengeance.
From this particular form of judgement, the believer is eternally free by virtue of the work of Calvary. (Romans 8:1).
The Church was forewarned by her Lord that its pathway through this world would be beset with travail and persecution.
"In the world ye have tribulation." (John 16:33). "We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom." (Acts 14:22).
But Tribulation incidental to the Christian life is not the Great Tribulation. There are at least three Greek words which have a direct bearing on the issue before us.
There is the word "thlibo", which means to press or afflict used in 1 Thess. 3:4, then there is a kindred word "thlipsis" which means pressure or affliction, used to describe the sufferings of Christians generally.
In several instances the word is also used of the "Great Tribulation": Matt. 24:21, 24, 29; Rev. 7:14, but there is another word which interests us greatly at this point, that is the word, "orge", translated "wrath". This word is found in many passages connected with the Tribulation:
Rev. 6:16: "Hide us from the wrath of the lamb." Rev. 6:17: "The great day of his wrath is come." Rev.16:19: "The wine of the fierceness of his wrath." Rev.19:15: "The fierceness and wrath of almighty God."
The word is used in some other significant connections, viz:
It was this form of wrath against which John the Baptist warned his hearers - Matt. 3:7.
It is referred to in Romans 1:18 as the wrath of God revealed from heaven against unrighteousness.
Concerning the sinner, John says the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36). While in Romans 5:9 we are assured that "we shall be saved from wrath through him."
The particular judgement implied by this word is judicial and penal, it is judgement as a punishment, it is vengeance reserved for evil doers. From this form of wrath the believer is blessedly exempt, otherwise it would be a denial of the most vital principle of the Gospel that Christ suffered once for sins.
The Apostle Paul assures us in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, "God hath not appointed us to wrath (orge) but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" and again in 1 Thess. 1:10. "Whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath (orge) to come." The Authorized Version does not bring out fully the meaning of this promise. The tense here is future, "which delivereth us from the wrath to come." (R.V.) The Amplified New Testament renders this passage "Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from the wrath which is coming and draws us to himself."
Believers, then, can wait without fear for that blessed event, being assured that before His wrath falls He will take His own into His presence.
Some who dissent from this interpretation raise a query. If the Church is destined to tribulation and God has not intervened to rescue her in the past why should He do so in the future? God will intervene and that for the best of all reasons.
The Church in the past has suffered the wrath of men but as we have already observed the "Great Tribulation" represents the wrath of God. This is something quite distinct and apart from anything the Church has ever suffered in the past. Believers through faith in Christ have passed beyond the reach of judicial displeasure and wrath.
3. A further argument is drawn from the relationship of the Church to the Holy Spirit and the appearance of Anti-Christ. (2 Thess. 2:7-8).
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
"And then shall that Wicked be revealed."
Sin and lawlessness have been at work in the world from the beginning, but as the age draws to its end it will work itself up to a terrible climax. The flood of iniquity is pent up and ready to burst forth, infernal hordes are straining to be unleashed, but there is a power, holding it all in check.
"He that letteth will let" (Katecho," to hold down or hold fast). Who is the power holding down iniquity, like steam under pressure?
This power is declared to be a person (v.7) and it is evident that whoever this power is he is more powerful than men or the Devil. This being the case He can be no other than a Divine person and we believe him to be none other than the Holy Spirit acting in a variety of ways through providence, through legislation, through civil government, but principally through the Church.
When "He who restrains is taken out of the way" the Church will accompany the Spirit homeward to glory for it is inconceivable that the Church should be left when the Holy Spirit has completed his work in calling out the Church, and has removed his official dwelling from earth to heaven.
Immediately this takes place, Anti-Christ, already risen to a place of great power, is openly revealed. If the Church does not know Anti-Christ, the chief actor of the Tribulation, it is clear evidence that it will not see the Tribulation.
Thiessen discussing the relationship of the Church to the Tribulation writes:
"That which `withholdeth' (neuter verse 6) and `he who letteth' (`hindereth') (masculine verse 7) is none other than the Holy Spirit. He no doubt employs human government and human laws, as also providential interventions in the accomplishment of His purpose...but more especially the testimony and influence of the Church. When the Church is caught up, the Holy Spirit will be taken from the world in the peculiar sense in which He is present on earth today.
"He will no longer be here in the same degree of manifestation. He will be here at that time in some such way as He was present in the world before the Day of Pentecost."
These comments anticipate and answer an objection raised at this point by those who reject the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. If the Holy Spirit departs with the Church, how can sinners be converted in the Tribulation?
It is important to observe that the operations of the Holy Spirit are not the same in each age. It is obvious that the Holy Spirit operated from heaven in Old Testament times, and that He came intermittently to the earth to possess chosen individuals, but in New Testament times the abode of the Holy Spirit has been on the earth. His work is to convict and regenerate sinners and thus call out the "Bride of Christ" and indwell the corporate body with His fulness. When the Church is completed, the Holy Spirit, having accomplished His work in this age, removes His abode once again to heaven.
With His abode once again in heaven, the Holy Spirit is free to operate in much the same way as in Old Testament times. It must be remembered that multitudes will enter the Tribulation with an exact knowledge of the Gospel, and with an abundance of Bibles, and Christian literature at their disposal. The shock of the Rapture will cause widespread grief and alarm, and since God has not revoked the promise, "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved," multitudes will cry out to God for mercy.
It, however, matters little what difficulties our friends choose to invent at this point; the Word of God plainly declares that multitudes will be saved, during the time of Tribulation, and the basis of their salvation will be the cross of Christ.
4. The Company of the 24 elders (Rev. 4:5) are seen in heaven before even the first seal is broken. (Rev. 6). The vital question here is what does the symbolism of the 24 elders represent? If we can satisfactorily answer this question we have gone a long way towards proving the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Dr. A. McClain in this connection consulted some 30 commentators excluding works with a strong bias for or against. The result of this investigation was truly amazing, for while the commentators differed vastly on the rest of the Revelation, they were strangely all in agreement that the 24 elders represent the Church in glory. That such a united testimony should be given concerning this one symbol is truly significant.
In chapter 4 the elders are seen before the throne, while in chapter 5 they watch with absorbing interest the Lamb take the sealed book from the hand of Him that sitteth on the throne.
All this, mark you, takes place before a seal is broken. The Tribulation does not begin until the seals are broken, and in that case the Church is already in heaven.
5. The 70th week of Daniel's prophecy relates to Daniel's people exclusively. (Daniel 9:24).
In the 69 weeks already fulfilled, no other group of people is seen but Israel. If the Church is not mentioned in the 69 weeks, why should it be introduced during the 70th week or the final seven years?
Furthermore, the Church is a mystery, that is, it was a truth hidden in the Old Testament but revealed in the New Testament. The prophets wrote wiser than they knew, for while they made allowance for the Church age, the fact of the Church and the duration of this age was not discerned by them.
The 70th week of Daniel's prophecy was no mystery, but was the subject of Old Testament revelation which proves that the Tribulation is no part of the Church age.
6. Believers ascend at the Rapture, as the Church, but descend to earth as the "Lamb's Wife." They go up, unjudged, unrewarded, and unprepared for Eternal service, but return equipped to perform their part in the divine programme. Now something very vital must have transpired between the ascent an the descent, and thus in Revelation 19:7 we read: "His Wife hath made herself ready." The expression here means "to make ready." What then does this making ready refer to? Surely there is but one thing, the Bema judgement where stewardship is investigated, service tested and rewards bestowed. The Bema is an inescapable necessity, that the Church may be pure and holy, a fit companion for the heavenly bridegroom.
The time of this judgement is clearly indicated, for it is connected with the coming of the Lord for His people.
"That ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:8)
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come," (1 Cor. 4:5).
"Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming." (1 Thess. 2:19).
"There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness...and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
While the Tribulation proceeds on earth the Bema judgement is set in the heavens. Immediately following the Bema, comes the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb," the climax of the whole redemptive drama.
There is no judgement of the Church before the Rapture, and we may be certain there will be none after the marriage supper of the Lamb. That being so, there is only one place where the Bema can be located, and that is between the Rapture and the Revelation, all of which precludes any possibility of the Church ascending to meet the Lord in the air and immediately returning with Him to the earth, after the fashion described by our Post-Tribulation friends.
7. The Church is mentioned in Revelation, chapter 1, and throughout chapters 2 and 3, but from chapters 4 to 19 there is no mention of it.
It is interesting to observe that the gematria of Laodicea, the seventh Church, is 999, suggesting finality. The argument here, of course, is drawn from silence, but nevertheless an argument which cannot be ignored. Futurists contend that this silence, covering 14 drama-packed chapters, can be explained only in one way: the Church has already been removed from earthly scenes.
8. The divine purpose in this age is the calling out of an ekklesia. Jews and Gentiles, believing in Jesus Christ, made nigh by His blood are fused into one body and constitute one "new man".
This is God's great work in this age, and it is unique in the history of God's dealings with men. Believers constituted as one body is a truth peculiar to this age. In the Tribulation (Rev. 7), two distinct companies are seen, Rev. 7:4-8, a remnant of 144,000 called out from Israel and Rev. 7:9-17, the vision of the great multitude of Gentiles saved during the Tribulation. These two companies are kept separate, and are never seen as one body. This in itself testifies to a great change in the divine purpose and argues strongly that the Church age has already terminated ere this point is reached and a new programme initiated.
9. The placing of the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation involves its advocates in a series of major displacements, changing, as it does, the whole order of events.
According to the Post-Tribulation schedule, the appearance of Anti-Christ is placed first, and the advent of the Lord, last; the Tribulation likewise takes primacy over the "Christian Hope." Now, all this has disturbing repercussions throughout the entire programme of events.
It compels believers to look for Anti-Christ, for resist the thought as we may, it is impossible to get away from the fact that the person who appears first is the one looked for.
Furthermore, it makes Anti-Christ a forerunner of Christ, and his appearance a sign of Christ's advent, and whether we relish the thought or not, it is tantamount to setting a date for Christ's return. For according to this chronology, the advent of Christ will be seven years from Anti-Christ's appearance, in which case the time of Christ's coming can be exactly calculated, and the whole element of surprise eliminated, thus frustrating the divine intention.
The Rapture is designated a comforting hope, 1 Thess. 4:18; a purifying hope, 1 John 3:3; a blessed hope, Titus 2:13, and in addition believers are enjoined to watch and wait for their Lord. Now we submit that all such language sounds strange and utterly lacking in propriety if Anti-Christ and the Tribulation should precede the Rapture.
10. It is alleged, by those who dissent from us, that at the end of the Tribulation the Church will ascend to meet the Lord in the air, and then immediately return with Him to the earth.
This is shown to be incorrect by the promise of our Lord in John 14:3, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
The plain meaning of these words is that when our Lord comes for His own people, He will immediately transport them to scenes of heavenly glory where the Bema will be set preparatory to the descent to the Mount of Olives.
11. If the Church passed through the Tribulation it would necessitate the entire body of believers living through that period until the actual time of the second advent.
This contradicts the words of our Lord in Luke 18:8, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Dr. Hutton says of these words "They are among the most disturbing found anywhere in the New Testament."
The brief space that immediately precedes the appearing of the Lord will be one of the darkest in human history. The knowledge of the faith will be so rare that only the omniscient Lord can discover it. It is obvious that such could not be the case if the Church was left to pass through the Tribulation.
12. An argument used to offset the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is drawn from Matt. 24:31. It is argued that the elect here refers to the Church, and since the gathering of the elect from the four winds takes place after the Tribulation, this is offered as evidence that the Church will pass through it.
It is to be observed, however, that there are two classes designated "elect".
There is the elect Church, Col. 3:12, Romans 8:33; and there is the elect nation Israel, Isa. 45:4, 65:9, 65:22.
After the Tribulation, that part of Israel still dispersed among the nations will be summoned back to the land and their national unity restored.
We contend, then, that the "elect" in Matthew 24:21 is Israel, and that this is the correct interpretation is proven by the fact that the physical signs mentioned in the Scriptures are found repeatedly in the Old Testament in a context that is exclusively Jewish, Isa. 13:9-10, 24:23; Joel 2:10, 31-32; 3:15.
The Old Testament usage is the clue to the correct interpretation of the parallel passages found in the New Testament, viz. Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24, Luke 21:25, Acts 2:19-20, Rev. 6:12. Physical signs, and prodigies are not connected with the Rapture; all of which proves that the events of Matthew 24:31 are quite outside the Church age.
It is often asserted by those who advocate the Mid-Tribulation position, that the last trump of 1 Cor. 15:52 is the same as the seventh trumpet of Rev. 11:15, and as this sounds in the middle of the seven year period, this is put forth as evidence that the Church is taken up after the first three and a half years.
There are, however, pronounced differences between "the last trump" of 1 Cor. 15:52 and the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11, which we do well to recognize.
(1) The one is the trump of God, the other is the trump
of the angel.
(2) The Trump of God is sounded from the air and is heard on the earth, the trumpet of the angel is blown in heaven and heard in heaven.
(3) The trump of God is followed by the resurrection of the righteous dead and the translation of living saints, whereas the angelic trumpet announces a whole series of events which will take place right up to the setting up of the Kingdom. The reign of Christ, the judgement of the wicked, the rewarding of His servants all follow.
(4) The message of the trump relates to the deliverance of the Saints, while the angelic trumpet has to do with the punishment of the wicked. (Rev. 11:15-18).
Another objection to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is based on Rev. 13:7 "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them."
It has been suggested that the saints here represent the Church. This, however, cannot be the case for the Church is seen in glory before the first stroke of disaster falls. (Rev. 5.)
The saints in this connection represent those who turn to Christ after the Rapture has taken place. Millions will retain a knowledge of the Gospel and Christian teaching, Bibles and Gospel literature will still be available. In the early part of the Tribulation, multitudes will find Salvation and win the martyr's crown. They are seen in Revelation 7:13-17 as a company altogether distinct from the Church.
13. No translation of saints is mentioned in connection with the coming of Christ to establish His millennial Kingdom.
We invite the reader to examine carefully the following Scriptures, Isaiah 63, Zechariah 14, Matthew 25:31, Jude 14-15, 2 Thess. 2, Revelation 19.
The last-mentioned text is the classic so far as the second advent is concerned, but there is not here or in any of the parallel passages even a hint that the Rapture is connected with Christ's return in judgement to usher in the Kingdom.
14. The enquiry of the elder (Rev. 7:13-14), "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, `What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?' And he said unto me, `Sir, thou knowest. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb'."
The company of 24 elders, representing the Church, are seen in heaven before the seals which introduce the Tribulation are broken. They are seen as a distinct company.
It is the martyrs, not the elders, who have come out of Tribulation, the great one.
Among certain futurists there exists a tendency to divide what is popularly known as the Great Tribulation into two distinct parts, designated the "Tribulation" and the "Wrath of God."
It is alleged that these periods are not identical, and that whereas in the case of the Tribulation the persecution comes from Anti-Christ, in the very short time denominated the wrath of God, the travail and suffering takes the form of punishment coming directly from God.
According to this theory the Church will suffer throughout the Tribulation but will be raptured prior to the wrath of God period. The contention is based on at least two arguments.
1. That the word "Thlipsis" used for suffering and persecution generally, is used of the Tribulation, but that the word "orge," wrath in the judicial sense, is used almost exclusively of the end time.
This is true as we have already indicated, but it is surely a flimsy foundation on which to erect such a theory.
The Scriptures recognize only one period designated "The Great Tribulation." This period is characterized by suffering and travail, varying in degrees of intensity. It is obvious that during the first 3-1/2 years there will be general world-distress and suffering. This will be intensified in the middle of the week, when Satan and his angels are ejected out of the mid-heavens and take up their abode on the earth. (Rev. 12). This suffering will be intensified until it reaches its fearful climacteric at the actual appearing of Jesus Christ.
It is wholly unwarranted to differentiate between the varying degrees of distress to such a degree as to create an altogether separate period.
2. A further argument is based on a supposed division between the seven seals and seven trumpets, and a corresponding pause between the seven personages and the seven seals.
Now, the book of Revelation has been subject to no end of divisions, usually created to under gird some theory, but we know of no better division of the book than that given by the Lord Himself in Revelation 1:19.
(1) "Write the things which thou hast seen" (past). (Rev.
(2) "And the things which are" (present). (Rev. chapters 2 and 3.)
(3) "And the things which shall be hereafter" (after these.) (Rev. 4-20.)
How any Bible teacher can attempt to discover the vital message of the Revelation and ignore this threefold division is quite beyond our understanding.
The inevitable result of course, is a man-made division such as we have under consideration, with all its attendant chaos.
Matthew 24:29 is cited to support the theory of two periods. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days." Matthew's obvious intention is to inform us that directly following the Tribulation which has already taken place, there occurs certain premonitory signs, cosmic disturbances, and physical portents leading up to the visible appearance of the Lord. That there are two periods in the end-time crisis goes to pieces utterly on Matthew 24:21.
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
Our Lord's words suggest that the Tribulation will be a period of travail and suffering, unparalleled either in the past or the future.
To create a separate period of judgement following the Tribulation, of greater severity than the Tribulation itself, is ruled out completely.
The Great Tribulation comprehends in itself, the wrath of God and every other form of wrath visited upon the earth at that time.
This theory puts the coming of Anti-Christ first, and in that case Anti-Christ will be the one naturally looked for, and at his advent the coming of Christ can then be exactly computed and the whole element of surprise obviated.
15. Kept from the Hour.
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from (ek, out of) the hour of temptation (trial) which shall come upon all the world (habitable earth) to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev. 3:10).
It is to be noted that the preposition ek, "out of," is used here in connection with a period of time. The obvious meaning of this promise to the Church is that she will be kept from, or out of, the entire period of trial.
When the Holy Spirit could have instructed John to write kept in the hour of trial he chose to write kept from (out of) the hour of trial.
4. WAS THE KINGDOM SET UP IN THE LIFETIME OF THE APOSTLES?
To this query many would give a confident "yes." Did not the Lord declare that some who heard Him preach should not see death until they saw the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom?
It is argued then, that the Kingdom was set up in the lifetime of the Apostles, otherwise we are faced with the impossible alternative that the Kingdom has not yet been established and that some of the Apostles are still alive. This argument is supposed to put the Futurists on the horns of a dilemma, and is offered as the apodixis in the matter of the setting up of the Kingdom. There are three relevant passages, to wit:
Matthew 16:28, "There be some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom."
Mark 9:1, "Till they have seen the Kingdom of God coming with power."
Luke 9:27, "Till they see the Kingdom of God."
These prophecies are generally supposed to have been fulfilled at Pentecost. This view, however, is open to several serious objections.
(1) Mark affirms that they would see the Son of Man coming
in His Kingdom. Obviously this did not occur at Pentecost.
(2) Only some among the hearers were to witness the spectacle, but at Pentecost the events were visible to all and sundry.
The words of our Lord were fulfilled six days later, on the occasion of the Transfiguration. "After six days he taketh Peter, James and John up on to the mountain and was transfigured before them." When He trod the earth, our Lord veiled His splendour behind the guise of flesh but on the mount omnipotence and majesty flashed forth, and then to complete the picture Moses, who passed through death, and Elijah, who was translated, appear holding converse with the transfigured Lord.
There is something more here than a drama intended to
impress; the whole is prophetic and adumbrates the coming day of glory.
Believers have delighted to regard this as a tableau of the Lord's coming
enacted on a miniature chronology. The Patristic writers so regarded this
sublime event -
"After six days the Lord will appear in glory, then cometh the seventh day of millenial bliss."
That this is the true interpretation is proven by the words of Peter, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His Majesty ... and this same voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him on the holy mount." (2 Peter 1:16-18).
How much of the future glory of the Kingdom they saw in that moment of ecsatsy is not revealed, but of this we may be sure, in that enraptured hour they had a foregleam of that glorious day.
5. IS ANTI-CHRIST A PERSON?
The denial of the personality of Anti-Christ is widespread. Some take the name as a synonym for various manifestations of evil, others identify the name with various political or religious systems.
A favourite objection of all such is to the effect that the expression "the Anti-Christ" is nowhere found in the Scriptures. However, in John's epistles (R.V.) Anti-Christ is three times designated "the Anti-Christ," 1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7, while in II Thess. 2, Anti-Christ is referred to as "the Man of Sin."
In Isaiah 11:4 Anti-Christ is referred to as "the wicked one" (one is in the singular), and the little horn of Daniel 7:8 implies a person. If the other horns are Kings, so must "the little horn" be regarded. Further in Daniel 9:26, Anti-Christ is spoken of as "the prince that shall come." Anti-Christ is one individual person. The testimony of Paul puts the matter beyond all doubt.
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God." 2 Thess. 2:4. Note the pronouns, "who," "himself," "he," "himself," "he." Verse 6, "he," verse 7, "he," verse 9, "him."
Further, the testimony of Revelation is quite decisive. "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Later, after 1,000 years, "The Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever." (Revelation 19:20: 20:10).
Such language befits persons, and could not be used of inanimate things.
The identity of Anti-Christ will remain an unsolved problem until the actual time of his appearance, and while we may not be sure who he will really be, in the meantime we may be certain who he is not. A popular error which is propagated by the Historicists, Seven Day Adventists, and others, identifies Anti-Christ with the Papacy.
Mr. Salmon, after surveying all the possibilities, finally fixes on the Pope of Rome. Speaking of the theories invented to discover Anti-Christ, he says (page 70), "I know of only one that seems to be worth any serious consideration, and that is the one which identifies the Pope of Rome as being the `Man of Sin'."
The reformers generally took this view, for Rome filled their horizon, and they had time for little else. Eschatology was not one of their specialities, and while the reformers sought to restore the primitive gospel, they failed to restore the pre-millenialism of the first three centuries.
There are at least eight reasons why the Pope or Papal system cannot be Anti-Christ.
1. Scores of men have been Popes. Which of them was Anti-Christ? History has never singled out one Pope who filled up the biblical measure of Anti-Christ, and on the other hand, it is unreasonable to maintain that the institution of the Papacy could be Anti-Christ, for Anti-Christ is a person, not a system.
2. According to 1 John 2:22, Anti-Christ denies the Father and the Son. "He is Anti-Christ that denieth the Father and the Son." Neither Pope nor Papacy denies God the Father, nor Jesus Christ, nor His virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death or resurrection.
3. The Papacy generally is identified with the Scarlet Woman of Revelation 17. This ecclesiastical system of the end-time is seen riding on the back of the beast, Anti-Christ's political Kingdom. The one riding on the beast cannot be the same as the beast. Finally, Anti-Christ and the ten kings utterly destroy the Scarlet Woman, apostate Christendom. (Revelation 17).
4. "Anti-Christ exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped." (2 Thess. 2:4). The Popes have received their exaltation as pretended vicars of Christ, not as His opponents. Anti-Christ recognizes no God but himself.
5. No Pope has ever manifested the power or performed the works attributed to Anti-Christ. (Revelation 13).
6. According to Daniel 7:24, Anti-Christ will come from the midst of the ten kings of the restored Roman Empire, and conquering three, rules the remainder. When was this ever true of any of the Popes? Daniel informs us that "the Prince that shall come" makes an agreement with the Jews for seven years, and then breaks the covenant after 3-1/2 years. History has no record of any Pope having so acted.
7. Anti-Christ is indwelt by the Devil. He performs miracles and wonders, not phony miracles, but genuine miracles, for the same word is employed for both the miracles of Christ and Anti-Christ.
This is no "pitch and sulphur" Anti-Christ of mediaeval thought, but a polished, erudite, up-to-the-minute leader, the like of which the world has never seen. Anti-Christ soon becomes the world's idol, and being the recipient of Satanic energy will doubtless be the most fascinating and bewitching personality to appear on the stage of time, whose very presence calls forth the hysterical admiration of earth's millions.
The usurpations of the Papacy may reflect something of the spirit of Anti-Christ, but there is nothing in the Papal system to fill out the measure of predictive language.
8. All the followers of Anti-Christ are compelled to receive the mark of the Beast, and all such are lost without exception. It would be too much to claim that all who have ever lived under the Papal system are lost.
Mr. Salmon, doubtless to support his theory that the Pope is Anti-Christ, approvingly quotes Dr. A.J. Gordon to the effect that "the word Anti-Christ signifies a vice-Christ rather than an open opponent of Christ." It is quite superfluous to go into the meaning of words, for the sinister connections in which the word "antichristos" is used in John's epistles fix the connotation of the word.
(1) Anti-Christ is connected with the last times. This
conjures up in the mind the apostasy and lawlessness with which he is associated.
(1 John 4:3).
(2) Anti-Christ denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22).
(3) This is the "spirit of Anti-Christ," the denial that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. (1 John 4:3).
(4) Those who deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh are condemned. (2 John 7.) "This is the deceiver and an Anti-Christ."
No! Anti-Christ is no vice-Christ, but a diabolical parody of God's true Messiah.
All God's plans head up in the man "Christ Jesus," likewise, all Satan's plans head up in the "Man of Sin." He is the theme of Old and New Testament writers, and is the subject of prophecy and historic types. His number is 666. Now six is man's number, but treble six speaks of his great power, and singles him out as one unique among men. He will be the incarnation of Satanic vileness, and in him wickedness will be allowed to exhaust all its fearful possibilities and come to its climax.
WHICH BEAST IS ANTI-CHRIST?
Revelation 13 reveals that during the Tribulation two Satanic agents will dominate the scene. Both are set forth under the symbolism of beasts, but the question arises, which beast is "Anti-Christ?"
The second beast is said to be "like a lamb," and for this reason some have supposed that this beast is Anti-Christ.
However, there are obvious reasons why this cannot be so.
1. The second beast is called the false prophet, Rev. 16:13, 19:20, 20:10. Our Lord had in mind these men when He said, "There shall arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders." (Matt. 24:24).
The title "false prophet," given to the second beast argues strongly in favour of the first beast being Anti-Christ.
2. The work of the second beast is to secure world worship for the first beast, and to this end he makes a speaking-image and compels worship of the same. All this shows that the first beast is the supreme one, the one object of world worship, and this identifies him with the "Wilful King" of Daniel and the "Man of Sin" of Thessalonians.
3. All the prophetic references found in Daniel 7,8, 11:36-39, 2 Thess. 2 harmonize exactly with the activities of the first beast of Rev.13. These passages are in such complete harmony that we are convinced that the first beast of Rev. 13 is the personal Anti-Christ.
6. IS THE GREAT TRIBULATION A UNIQUE PERIOD OF SUFFERING?
The word Tribulation comes from the Latin. The tribulum was a threshing instrument used by the Romans to beat out the corn. The two Greek words used in the Authorised Version and translated tribulation "thlibo" and "thlipsis" connote pressure and affliction. These words are used of tribulation generally, but in at least four instances, the latter word is used of the "Great Tribulation."
"The Tribulation," a period of unprecedented travail, the climax of world sorrows, is not to be confused with tribulation generally; it is not tribulation incidental to our Christian witness, nor yet the much tribulation through which we must enter the Kingdom. The Great Tribulation is global judgement and travail on a scale that beggars description.
First, we must notice the awesome language employed by the Holy Spirit to designate this period of distress. Daniel 12:1 testifies, "And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation even to that time." Our Lord bore solemn witness to that dread day, "For there shall be Great Tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21).
"These are they which came out of Great Tribulation," or as Vincent expresses it, "the Tribulation, the Great." (Rev.7:14).
"I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (trial) which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Rev. 3:10).
Now a question of great pertinency arises. Has there ever occurred in the interval since Pentecost afflictions so calamitous and world-wide as to exhaust the language of prophecy? Can history be made to disclose any event or series of events so harrowing as to fill out the measure of predictive language?
Historicists and A-Millenialists laboriously seek to prove that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 was the fulfilment of the Tribulation prophecies. But the proofs relied upon to uphold the theory have been so thoroughly contradicted by history and Scripture that the theory is quite worthless. The persistence of the theory is due entirely to the fact that it is the only alternative to the Futurist teaching at this point. Hence the event has been unduly emphasized and embellished out of all proportion to its place in history. The falsity of the theory is evident from the following considerations:
1. The Great Tribulation involves the entire earth. It comes upon "all the world." (Rev. 3:10). "Power will be given Anti-Christ over all kindreds, tongues and nations." (Rev.13:7). "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth." (Rev.8:13). "And the nations were angry..." (Rev. 11:8).
The destruction of Jerusalem, gruesome and terrible as it was, involved one small city in the obscure province of Palestine, and in no wise could be designated world wide or global.
2. The Great Tribulation will be a period of unprecedented travail and unique judgement. Despite the embellishments of Josephus and other historians, the destruction of Jerusalem cannot even begin to meet the demands of Scriptural language. There have been endless national tragedies involving bigger cities and infinitely vaster populations. All the horrors of the destruction of Jerusalem have been reproduced, only on a vaster scale and for a more prolonged period with engines of war more diabolical than ever before. One has only to mention the Mohammedan scourge, the calculated ferocity of Tamerlane and Ghengis Khan; the first world-war in which ten millions were killed and twenty millions maimed; or World War II with its aerial destruction, and the death of some thirty millions; the holocaust of Hiroshima where 80,000 were reduced to cinders in a flash. What of the six million Jews who perished in the gas chambers of Europe, of which Lord Russell said, "It was the greatest single tragedy in history." And what is the Tribulation but a concentration of all these horrors and worse during the seven years? No, the destruction of Jerusalem falls far short of predictive requirements at this point.
3. The whole theory, however, goes to pieces hopelessly on Matthew 24:29-31. "Immediately after the tribulation of these days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn ... and he shall send his angels with the sound of a great trumpet and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds." The Tribulation is to be climaxed by eight events, including the coming of the Son of Man. And since these events did not transpire at the destruction of Jerusalem or subsequently, we conclude that the Tribulation is still in the future.
4. The Book of Revelation makes four distinct references to the last half of Daniel's prophetic weeks, viz.:
Rev. 11:2................................ 42 months
Rev. 11:3.................................1260 days
Rev. 12:14...............................a time times and half a time.
Rev. 13:5.................................42 months
Daniel likewise refers to a time, times and a dividing
of time (7:25),
to one week (7 years) and in the midst of the week (3-1/2 years), (9:27),
to time times and a half (12:7),
and 1290 days, the 1260 days with 30 days added.
That Daniel and Revelation refer to the same event is proven by the fact that nothing transpired, between the writing of Daniel, 600 B.C., and the writing of Revelation, A.D. 95, that could be regarded as a fulfilment of Daniel's prophecies.
Our Lord mentioned the "abomination of desolation" (Matt.24:15), indicating that up to that point Daniel 12:11 had not received its fulfilment. The close harmony between Revelation and Daniel on all matters puts the question beyond all doubt.
The book of Revelation was written A.D. 95, that is, 25 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. Since the four references cited above are all future to John's day, the testimony of Revelation is surely decisive, and strikes a death blow at all theories which locate the Tribulation earlier than A.D. 95.
THE DURATION OF THE TRIBULATION
The seven-year period is divided into two equal parts, viz.: the first three and a half years of general suffering and distress wherein the forces of evil become geared up for the final conflict.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many (for) one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease." (Daniel 9:27).
These words refer to a future covenant which Anti-Christ will conclude with a section of the Jewish nation. After the covenant has been in force for 3-1/2 years, Anti-Christ will violate the agreement and put an end to Jewish ritual and worship.
Many and desperate have been the attempts to overthrow the Futurist interpretation of the seven years, but most of these theories have landed their sponsors somewhere between farce and tragedy.
Mr. Salmon professes to find the first 3-1/2 years in the ministry of the Lord and then leaping over 40 years finds the final half of Daniel's week at the destruction of Jerusalem, others have professed to discover the period in divers wars and natural calamities. Mr. Hughes, unable to adduce any proof whatever, merely dismisses the futurist "postponement of the seventieth week as supposition." (Page 181.)
That the Futurists are correct, and incontestably so, regarding the seven-year period is proven by eight separate Scriptures which directly mention the last half of the week.
The seven-year period stands detached from the sixty-nine weeks. Its beginning, middle and end are all marked distinctly. It is divided into two equal parts spoken of as time, times and half a time, forty-two months, twelve hundred and sixty days.
Daniel 7:25, "Until a time, times, and the dividing of
Daniel 9:27, "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (7 years),
and in the midst of the week (3-1/2 years) he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease."
Daniel 12:7, "It shall be a time, times, and a half."
Daniel 12:11, "And from the time that the daily sacrifice be taken away ... there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days."
Revelation 11:2, "and the holy city shall they tread under foot 42 months."
Revelation 13:5, "And there was given unto him (Anti-Christ) a mouth speaking ... and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months,"
Revelation 12:6, "And they shall feed her (remnant of Israel) one thousand two hundred and three- score days."
Revelation 11:3, "God's two witnesses are to prophesy during the Tribulation, twelve hundred and three-score days."
Revelation 12:14, "And to the woman (remnant of Israel) was given two wings of an eagle ... where she is nourished for a time, times and half a time." In addition to this testimony, the language of Scripture indicates a specific time, an appointed season.
"A time of trouble" (Daniel 12:1);
"Except those days be shortened" (Matt.24:22);
"After the tribulation of those days" (Matt. 24:29).
Now, all these scriptures severely limit the period of Tribulation so that any notion that the entire "present age" is the Tribulation, or the teaching that the Tribulation is to be found in A.D. 70 and onwards through unlimited centuries is quite erroneous and is to be rejected.
7. IS THE FIRST SEAL CHRIST OR ANTI-CHRIST?
In his book "The Lord Cometh," Mr. Salmon has a chapter entitled "How Futurism Dishonours Christ." According to the author and A-Millenialists generally, the rider on the white horse in Revelation 6 represents Christ on a world-conquering mission, especially the Gospel triumphs of the early Christian centuries.
"And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard as it were, the noise of thunder, one of the beasts saying `Come' (and see), And I saw, and beheld a white horse and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer." (Revelation 6:12).
The rider and the white horse look like Christ, and this belief is largely determined by another symbolism in Revelation 19. Here, Christ is depicted as coming in judgement to the world, riding on a white horse, and while the white horse is the only thing the symbols have in common, many for this reason, have identified the first seal with Christ. There are, however, at least six reasons why the rider of the first seal does not signify Jesus Christ.
1. When the first seal is opened, one of the living creatures is heard to utter with the noise of thunder "Come." The words "and see" must be omitted in this verse as in 3, 5 and 7. The command, "Come" is not addressed to the Seer, but to the rider who symbolises the successive calamities which emerge as the seals are broken.
"Come," in this connection, is a command from the Cherubim demanding that Christ come forth. We suggest that there is an impropriety about the whole thing that renders this particular interpretation untenable. Christ acts in His own sovereign rights and is not subject to the command of His creatures. The creature thunders his command to the Creator. Such a thing is without precedent in the entire Bible.
2. There are marked differences between the white horse symbolism of Revelation 6 and 19, and their respective riders. In Revelation 6, the rider wears a "stephanos," a crown of leaves and flowers, while the rider in Revelation 19 wears a "diadema," an incorruptible crown in keeping with his divine dignity. The first rider has a bow but no arrow, while the rider of Revelation 19 bears the sword of judgement. The one appears at the beginning of the seven-year period, while the other appears at the end. The one is given a crown, the other wears the crown by divine right.
3. Then, too, the place where the victorious rider is introduced in Revelation is significant. Dr. A.J. McClain has written a very convincing article entitled "The Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the Commentators." He cites most well-known commentators including Alford, Barnes, Benson, Smith, Binny, Weidner, Henry and Holden and while these commentators disagree on almost everything else in the book of Revelation, they are all agreed that the four and twenty elders represent the Church in glory. Despite their disagreement on other questions, there exists unanimity on this one point. This being so, the Church is in heaven before the seals are broken. It is certain, and all are agreed at this point, that there is no judgement until the seals are broken, and it follows therefore, that the rider of the white horse in Chapter 6 appears at the end of the Church age and not at the beginning.
4. The white horse of Revelation 6 is one of four closely related figures bearing a common evil trend. They are all on one plane of thought and imagery, and this similarity renders it impossible to identify the first rider with righteousness and then reverse the process, and identify the remainder with evil.
5. Christ's "official position" is not on a white horse on earth, but in the third heaven where He carries on a ministry of intercession for the saints.
While God is omnipresent so that there is no place where His presence is not felt, yet, the Bible has respect to localities. It speaks of specific places "in heaven," "on earth," "in the air," etc. Christ's present ministry is now in heaven and the Godhead is now represented on earth by the Holy Spirit who is perfecting and carrying out the purpose of God to a glorious consummation. Futurists teach that if the symbolism requires a person then it is Anti-Christ who is depicted here, but many expositors take the view that the symbols do not represent individuals at all, but a succession of dire judgements which characterise the beginning of the Tribulation. That these and other Tribulation scourges are connected with Anti-Christ and his rule cannot be doubted.
6. The Futurist interpretation of the horsemen is in conformity with our Lord's Olivet discourse, and fits the general scheme of prophecy exactly. The white horse is followed by war, famine, pestilence, following the pattern of Matthew 24, the touchstone of all prophetic systems.
1. False Christs.
2. False Prophets.
3. Wars and famines.
4. Pestilence and earthquake.
The harmony between Revelation 6 and Matthew 24 puts the matter beyond doubt.
The four horsemen have ridden time and again across the stage of history, and the whole terrible pattern will be followed again, only aggravated to a degree that beggars description. The deception begins with a personality magnetic and persuasive, a Hitler, a Stalin, magnificent force, cheering crowds, mass-hysteria, lying propaganda, dreams of imperialism and empire. But the end is always the same, the corpse-strewn battlefield, the haunting spectacle of famine, the cold stench of disease. No, the victorious rider is not Christ but Anti-Christ embodying in himself the first and greatest of all scourges, and if there is any dishonouring of Christ, it is not the work of the Futurists, but of those who insist on putting Jesus Christ into this malign and villainous company.
8. IS SATAN BOUND IN THIS PRESENT AGE?
Futurists place a literal interpretation on Revelation 20:2 and teach that Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the abyss for 1000 years.
Many who repudiate this interpretation and profess to stand agahst at such a crass literalism, are totally unable to produce anything that satisfies the facts, but are driven to maintain the desperate alternative that Satan is bound in this present age.
Mr. Hughes, commenting on Rev. 20:1-3, says "The vision is concerning the period of the Kingdom of God amongst mankind, commencing at the advent of the King and continuing to His second Advent." Some nine texts are quoted in an attempt to prove the contention, all of which on examination are found to be quite irrelevant to the issue, the binding of Satan in this age. Mr. Salmon takes the same view, and teaches that the angel which binds Satan is our Lord at His first advent, while faith is declared to be the chain which binds the adversary. The answer to all this is so self-evident that we are tempted merely to take refuge in the dignity of silence and say no more.
To venture such thoughts in the face of the wickedness of this world and the avalanche of Bible testimony to the contrary is evidence of the utter bankruptcy of those who reject the literal interpretation.
We all agree that Satan is a defeated foe, and that the victory of the Cross was final and decisive, but the full effect of this victory earthwards awaits the return of the Lord in glory. So potent and active is Satan in this present age that he is designated the "god of this age." He has great freedom in the universe, and manifests his power in at least three spheres:
(1) In heaven, where he accuses the children of God day
and night. (Rev.12:10)
(2) In the air, where he presides over a thoroughly well-organized Kingdom as the "prince of the power of the air." (Eph. 2:2.)
(3) On earth, where he afflicts the children of men.
Satan has freedom to hinder Christians (1 Thess. 1:18),
to side-track preachers (1 Timothy 3:6),
to blind sinners to the glories of the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4),
while 1 Peter 5:8 declares, "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
But at the coming of the Lord, Satan's freedom is at an end. Our opponents, in support of their theory, declare Satan to be chained but still in the world, but in this they have overlooked the fact that the adversary is to be imprisoned, shut away, in the abyss. The language of Scripture is very emphatic at this point. He is cast into the bottomless pit and shut up. It is asserted that Satan is bound so that he cannot harm the Saints who are triumphant in Christ On the contrary, Rev. 20:3 affirms the reason for the binding is that he should "deceive the nations no more." Suffice to say that it is in the national sphere that the failure of man is most marked. If Satan is bound, we should expect the nations to be at peace, but on the contrary, wars and commotions have filled this entire age.
No century was more barbarous or gory than the nineteenth, through which the world has just passed.
We list here the major conflicts of that century.
1789-1815, the Napoleonic wars;
1820, war in Greece;
1830, war between Russia and Poland;
1853-56, France, Britain and Turkey at war with Russia;
1859, France at war with Austria;
1860-70, continual war in Italy;
1863-66, civil war in America;
1864, Russia at war with Denmark;
1866 Prussia at war with Austria;
1870, Russia and France;
1877, Russia and Turkey;
1882-84, Britain and Egypt;
1894, China and Japan;
1899-1902, the Boer War;
1904, Russia and Japan.
Such is the record of the nineteenth century, and when we turn to the twentieth century what a nightmare has unfolded itself -- two world wars and now the threat of global destruction. Is the Devil bound? Is the millenium an inter-advent period? Such facts make mockery of man's theories, and the whole thing goes to pieces on the rocks of history. The Devil is not bound. Ask the missionary, the gospel-preacher, the social worker, the magistrate, and your question will be greeted with derisive mirth. No, Satan is not bound. He ranges at large with a host of emissaries deceiving the nations, corrupting society, raising up false cults, filling Christendom with abominations, and marshalling his infernal hosts for the coming assault.
9. IS THE SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE TRUSTWORTHY?
The Scofield Bible was first published in America in 1909. While the Bible was edited by Dr. C. Scofield, the work is not solely his, but represents the result of deep and prayerful research carried out by a wide circle of devout scholars.
Assisting Dr. Scofield were eight consulting editors, and a glance at the list gives some idea of the calibre of the men, representing as they did the cream of evangelical scholarship at the turn of the century.
The general excellence of the production was early recognized by the Oxford University Press, which, after a most searching scrutiny, accepted it as a standard publication. This was no mean achievement in a field that was highly competitive, and in itself should have a sobering effect on those who take upon themselves lightly to criticize the work. The Scofield Bible has been before the public for fifty years, and has proven to be most invaluable to Bible students in assisting them to grasp the vital message of the Bible. The Scofield Bible is first favourite with many of the leading Bible teachers of our day, who, despite the crop of newer versions, use Scofield as the basis of their study. The excellence of the notes is generally recognized, but many, unable to accept Scofield's futuristic interpretations, have unfortunately condemned the entire work.
Many Futurists themselves are not wholly in agreement with all that Scofield has written on subsidiary truths. It surely is too much to expect of any human work that it be entirely free from defects, but these are of a minor nature and touch no major issue, and all such if finally proven to exist, will doubtless be rectified in the revised edition now being prepared.
The hue and cry raised against Scofield is quite understandable, for it is dispensational and futuristic through and through. It constitutes the biggest threat to opposing schools of thought, and is quite easily the greatest factor in the spread of futurist eschatology. But better a thousand times the safe scriptural and systematic teaching of Scofield than the dread alternatives offered to us in the spiritualizing vagaries, the polished novelties and subtleties of many other interpretations.
A-millenialists make Scofield the special target of their attack, and it would seem that much of their literature has been produced to offset the tremendous influence that the Scofield Bible is at present exerting. We propose to deal briefly with some objections raised by Mr. Hughes to the futurist teaching, as set forth by Scofield.
On page 194, objection is made to futurist notes inserted in the Bible. Scofield is not alone in this practice. Weymouth adopts the practice, while the Amplified New Testament has copious Futuristic amplifications. Even the Authorised Version has headings quite inaccurate from the Futurist standpoint. All these notes are coloured by the theology of those who produced them. Provided the actual text is not tampered with, we see no valid ground for the objection.
On page 39, objection is raised to Scofield's statement that the glories of Messiah await the setting up of the Kingdom.
Futurists believe that there are at least two aspects of our Lord's glory, inherent glory, and acquired glory, represented thus:
(1) The glory that was. (John 17:5).
(2) The ascension glory. (Acts 3:13).
(3) The advent glory. (Daniel 7:14).
(4) The aspect of eternal glory. (Revelation 5:13).
Scofield does not limit Christ's glory to the Millenium, but emphasizes the fact that the prophets featured this aspect of glory.
On page 84, Mr. Hughes objects to the use of the word, "palingenesia" in the Scripture reference, Matthew 19:28. The word regeneration is used only twice in the New Testament, once in Titus 3:5 where it is used of a person born again, and in Matthew 19:28, which Scofield applies to the millenium. The born again man, be it noted, is the same man but spiritually renewed, likewise the earth is the same earth but a renewed earth.
The suggestion on page 85 that the millenium cannot be the recreation for it is "only the restoration of the old Jewish sacrifices and racial superiority" is quite false and misleading. There is not a Futurist who would teach such a thing. Features of Jewish ritual and worship will be incorporated into the millenial scheme, and the Jews certainly will attain primacy among the Nations, but to describe the millenium as "merely a restoration of the Jewish order" is incorrect.
On page 85, Scofield's usage of Romans 8:19-22 is called into question. Our objector applies this Scripture to the New Heaven and New Earth, and thus it is lifted entirely out of history, and placed in the eternal order. "The deliverance of groaning creation in the Day of the Lord when it becomes in its reconstruction, the New Heaven and New Earth which is indestructible and eternal."
Creation in this Scripture means "the things created," and include the lower orders of creation, both animal and vegetable, which fell under the curse occasioned by the fall of man.
Creation is bound up with man's destiny. What happened in the garden of Eden had sad repercussions throughout creation, but as creation was deeply involved in man's failure at the beginning, it will be involved in his redemption at the end. It is a cosmic redemption that is envisaged here.
Seeing that the lower creations are to share in the renewment of the earth, it must of necessity be on this earth. The only alternative is to give the animal and vegetable Kingdoms a place in the eternal order. The A-millenial system carried to its logical conclusion must teach just this very thing, because it recognizes only two ages, grace and glory. The Futurist, on the other hand, has no difficulties at all here for in an intermediate economy between the present age and the New Heaven and the New Earth, all these things are provided for. Further, on page 85, the statement is made, "How the Christian apostles in glorified bodies could sit on twelve thrones administering the Kingdom under the old Jewish economy which they taught was abolished, is quite incomprehensible.
The glorified body of our Lord after His resurrection constituted no difficulty as He appeared to the disciples; why should the glorified bodies of the Apostles prove an embarrassment? The legal dispensation came to an end at the cross, but as it has already been shown, it is not the "old Jewish economy" over which the Apostles rule.
Unable to accept Matthew 19:28 literally, Mr. Hughes proceeds to spiritualize the whole thing, but this only involves him in greater difficulties. We are informed "the Apostles received at the inauguration of the Kingdom of Christ, the place of honour and authority. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom and the authoritative teaching of the Apostles is still paramount in the Kingdom of God, now the Kingdom of Christ."
Now Matthew 19:28 is a very awkward Scripture so far as our opponents are concerned, and received literally would go a long way toward convicting them of error. Hence something must be done to break the force of this Scripture. Spiritualizing is the answer. This is always ready at hand to deal with obstinate Scriptures.
So it actually turns out, according to this theory, that these are not twelve actual Apostles, or twelve real thrones, or a literal twelve tribes, but rather the teaching of the Apostles governing the life of the Church which is now the Kingdom.
Our Lord is taken from the right hand, and placed on the "Throne of Glory," while this age becomes "the regeneration". Such handling of the Word of God is nothing less than jungle law. To spiritualize such a Scripture is to loose it altogether.
1. Everything in the text suggests that it be interpreted
literally, and this exactly fits the prophetic pattern.
2. Jesus Christ is not now sitting on the throne of His glory, but some twenty times is declared to be at the "right hand".
3. This present age cannot be termed a regeneration, for Scripture contradicts this and designates it, "This present evil age." wherein "evildoers will wax worse and worse." A "crooked and perverse generation" (Philippians 2:15-16) could scarcely be called a regeneration.
On page 104, objection is made to Scofield's use of 1 Corinthians 15:23-24. Commenting on this passage of Scripture, our objector writes, "It is unwarranted to insert between the words, `They that are Christ's at His coming' and then `Then cometh the end' a period of 1,000 years." It should be noted at the outset that with respect to the order of events the first thing is put last, and the last is put first, as any reputable commentary will indicate.
In Greek, the phrase is simply "the end" without any verb. Since the words (to Telos) might be taken adverbially as in 1 Peter 3:8, some think the whole passage should read, "Then finally when He hands over His royal power to God the Father, after He has put down every other rule and authority and power, for reign He must till He hath put all enemies under His feet."
When does the end come? When does Christ deliver up the Kingdom? Not until the forces of evil are subdued, and seeing that this will not be accomplished in this age, there must be an intermediate Kingdom between grace and glory in which this will be effected.
In regard to the use of "eita," it is incorrect to affirm as Mr. Hughes does, "that what follows, follows almost immediately." This is true in many cases where the word is employed, but not in all.
For example, in Mark 4:17, it is used of certain people who professed conversion, but who fell away afterward (eita), when persecution came. Then again in 1 Timothy 2:13, "For Adam was first formed, then (eita) Eve." A considerable time elapsed before the creation of Eve, in which other events transpired.
According to Strong and Young, the word "eita" means, "afterward, furthermore, moreover, after that." The idea of subsequency is certainly in the word, but not always immediacy. No! 1 Corinthians 15:24 does not preclude a millenium, and Scofield's usage of it is quite correct.
The order of 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 is as follows:-
(1) Christ, the first fruits.
(2) They that are Christ's at His coming.
(3) The putting down of all rule and authority.
(4) The end followed by the great abdication when Christ hands back the Kingdom to God.
On page 10, Mr. Salmon objects to Bible teachers putting Matthew in another dispensation, thereby destroying the unity of the New Testament. Evidently some writers have gone to extremes at this point, but theirs is an individual viewpoint, and must not be confused with the teaching of Futurism generally.
That Matthew has a strong Jewish emphasis, and that the book has a significance above all others for the Jews is undeniable.
Some, however, have relegated the entire sermon on the Mount to the millenial age, but it is evident that the conditions to which the principles of the Sermon on the Mount apply stand in the sharpest contrast to the conditions in the Millenial age. For example, evil is very prevalent so that men hunger for righteousness; wickedness is widespread for the righteous are the salt; the Devil is free and men are enjoined to pray that they may not fall under his power; darkness is prevalent, for believers are the light of the world.
Then again, almost the entire "sermon on the Mount" is found in various forms scattered throughout the epistles, so that we may say that the epistolary teaching generally, is implicit in the gospels.
Neither is the sermon "law," for we are informed that "the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The Sermon on the Mount then consists of principles for the guidance of believers in this age, and doubtless, in its general features, it will be the basis of conduct in the age to come.
A consideration of these facts compels the belief that Matthew is a Jewish-Christian gospel. Like all other books of the Bible, the Gospels are not in hermetically sealed compartments, but are complimentary the one to the other. The principle of anticipation runs through them all, and the great doctrines of the Epistles are found here germinally expressed.
On page 9, objection is made to Scofield's teaching in respect to the seven dispensations. We contend that there is nothing arbitary or stilted in this seven-fold division, for it is patent to even a superficial reader that the Bible naturally falls into these divisions.
We insist that God has marked out these divisions in no uncertain way. In the case of each period, there is a definite beginning, and a clear-cut ending. Apart altogether from dispensational distinctions, it is a most helpful method of impressing Bible history on the hearers.
It is, above all, a systematic and scientific approach to Bible study, and is to be infinitely preferred to some of the haphazard hit-miss methods we have seen. With this method the tangled web of history assumes the clear cut pattern of divine purpose.
10. IS DISPENSATIONAL TEACHING SCRIPTURAL?
The word "dispensation" is anathema to the opponents of Futurism. At this point opposition becomes quite hysterical, and protests quite frenzied, and many have entered into a high-pressure campaign against the doctrine. Both books under review assail the teaching, and evidently there is good reason for this alarm, for doubtless their protests are loudest where their certainty is least, for dispensational truth cuts their fancied theories and spiritualizing antics to ribbons. Dispensational teaching, if rightly understood and applied, is a key to the understanding of Scripture. Some hyper-dispensationalists, however, have gone to foolish extremes, but the view of a few extremists can never be the criteria by which to judge the correctness of any doctrinal position.
In the first place we would emphasise that the word dispensation is a Scriptural expression used four times (1 Cor. 9:17, Eph. 1:10, Eph. 3:2, Col. 1:25) in the New Testament. It is a translation of the word "oikonomia," a word which has a wide range of meaning, but primarily pertains to house-hold management or management generally. The word, according to Vincent, means "to manage" or "dispense"; according to Young the word connotes "law" or the "arrangement of a house"; while Dummelow gives its meaning "the office of a steward, management, or any provision or arrangement". Three times the word "oikonomia" is translated "stewardship." The idea then, when applied to the ages of history, refers to God's methods or provision for mankind, and as God has placed mankind under many orderings, these become known as dispensations. Dr. Ironside suggests that the word "economy" is the English word which best expresses its meaning. Just as there are many economies in life, house-hold, national and religious, differing in arrangement and organization, so there are numerous orderings which characterize God's dealings with mankind.
The Jews, long before the Christian era, divided history into seven periods following the prophetic week. Augustine is said to be the first who explicitly mentions seven ages in the history of man, deriving his plan from the "Days of Creation." In this, Augustine was followed by many others throughout history. We are not here claiming that the seven ages are in accord exactly with present day dispensationalism, but the principle was early recognized.
In Ephesians 1:10 the Apostle Paul speaks of the "dispensation of the fullness of the times." The word "dispensation" here is a translation of the word "oikonomia," and refers to a future age.
The dividing of history into ages or dispensations is in full harmony with Scripture, which speaks of a plurality of ages both past and future.
Hebrews 9:26 informs us that Jesus Christ appeared at the "end of the ages." This can only refer to the probationary ages that preceded the present age. In Colossians 1:26 the Apostle speaks of "the mystery which has been hid from the ages." The ages here referred to must pertain to the periods of time from Adam to Christ.
Obviously the past was not one age, but was sectionalized into periods. Ephesians 2:7 speaks of "the ages to come." The future then, is not one continuous whole, but is divided into periods each with its distinctive character.
The testimony of Hebrews 1:2 is significant at this point. "By whom also he (Jesus Christ) made the worlds (ages)." The word means a period of time and it is certain that our Lord was the architect of the aeons comprising time as well as the Eternal Ages.
Westcott commenting on this verse says: "The sum of the periods of time including all that is manifest in them."
The dispensations then are God-made, and are not an imaginary creation of men , as those who dissent from us delight to affirm.
The dispensations are the epochal stages that mark the progress of revelation, in the course of its development.
They represent cycles in the progress of revelation, and while there is an underlying unity, each is characterized by important differences. The beginning and the ending of these ages is apparent, even to the most superficial reader of the Bible.
The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden ended the age of Innocence. The cataclysm of the Flood was a decisive end to the age of self-determination; the judgement of Babel, one of the greatest judgments ever inflicted on the human race, wrote finis to the age of Human Government, while the age of Promise certainly ended amid the thunders of Sinai. The age of the Law died at the Cross, and this present age will end in the most calamitous of all judgements. Then, at the second advent, follows the seventh age, the most glorious economy of all, the 1000 years of blessedness.
We conclude with the testimony of Dr. Griffith Thomas, the well-known Anglican theologian.
"The word dispensation is often used in connection with the revelation to man, thus we speak of the Jewish dispensation and the Christian dispensation, meaning the particular times of God's dealings with the Jews and Christians. But there are at least seven periods of time described by the word.
1. Eden dispensation.
2. The Pre-Flood dispensation.
3. The dispensation of Noah.
4 The Abrahamic dispensation.
5. The Mosaic dispensation.
6. The Christian dispensation
7. The future dispensation.
Now it is evident that these dispensations must be carefully distinguished from one another, if one is to understand the various aspects of divine revelation, and it is the attempt to distinguish in this way that underlies the familiar phrase "dispensational truth." We must endeavour to interpret each passage or section of Scripture according to the dispensation for which it is intended. It is possible and perhaps probable that when Paul counselled Timothy about rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15), he had in mind some such distinction as is now under consideration.
As Augustine has said "Distinguish the dispensations and the Scriptures will agree." Finally, history is not a vast disorder, a chaos where all is haphazard and meaningless.
The dispensations present history as a consistent and intelligible whole, a principle which accords better with the orderly proceedings of the divine method than the loose uncertainty of some other methods of Bible study we have known.
INTERPRETING THE BOOK OF REVELATION.
11. WHAT SHOULD BE OUR APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION?
How shall we interpret this book, and discover its vital message?
To many, the mere mention of the book conjures up thoughts of dark sentences, and mysterious visions; so much so that the best left alone attitude is often adopted. The earliest interpretation was literal, and many, unable to find a satisfying alternative, have adopted a hostile attitude to the book.
Luther, for example, could not make sense out of the book, and consequently repudiated it, and only reluctantly printed it in the appendix to the New Testament. Certainly, no book has suffered so much at the hands of its friends, or been hated so heartily by its enemies. In the main there are three principal schools of interpretation, the Praeterist, the Historicist and the Futurist. The Praeterists generally consider the book to have been fulfilled during the early centuries of the Christian era. The theory has recently been set forth afresh in a youth magazine, "Christian Youth Fellowship" (November, 1960). This series of seven studies has been a grief to many who have requested that they be reviewed and tested in light of the Scriptures.
In making a brief survey of these studies, primarily intended for young people, our first observation is concerning the origin of the book of Revelation. On page 12 this statement occurs. "Many apocalypses are fantastic and dreary things, but Daniel and Revelation, while belonging to that class, outshine all others, and have been found worthy of a place in the Bible."
As the statement stands, it can mean only one thing, namely that the books of Daniel and Revelation arose out of the apocalyptic literature current in that day.
Such a statement could prove very puzzling to young minds, and is not calculated to inspire confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God; and further, to suggest that Revelation was found worthy of a place in the Bible because it outshone all others tends to make suspect the inspiration of the book.
Daniel and Revelation did not come out of any apocalyptic fairyland, but are inspired documents, bearing the same high credentials as all other Bible books.
Liberalism, which loathes prophecy, declares Revelation to be a book of dubious worth, and at the best, an incidental extra with little or no message for the contemporary situation. Hence the book is interpreted in any old fashion and bandied about as a book of no consequence.
The very first verse of the Revelation, however, is a corrective to all this, for the book is declared to be "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto Him."
This immediately invests the book with dignity and solemnity, and as such must be approached with reverent caution and handled as the Word of God throughout.
1. The purpose of symbolism (page 14). We are informed "that there was a very real reason for the strange and mysterious language" of Revelation. John wrote under a government which allowed no freedom of speech, yet he wanted to denounce the government, and affirm that the empire would fall." Hence, he chose this type of writing so that his fellow Christians would know what he meant." How incredibly strange all this sounds. Any suggestion that John wanted to denounce the government is quite foreign to the text while the use of symbolic language was never intended to set forth information in a cryptic form. Daniel and Ezekiel, and others to a lesser degree, employ the method. To suggest that the early Christians would understand the symbolism, is disproven by the fact that the early literature of the Church reveals a wide diversity of opinion, on particular symbols and in some cases, a profession of ignorance concerning the language employed.
2. We happily concur with the writer that the four and twenty elders represent the whole multitude of the saints, but strongly dissent from the teaching that chapters 6-20 of Revelation present the varying fortunes of the Church. The seven studies covering the book are entitled "The Church Under Fire," but it is obvious that such cannot be the case.
In chapters 4 and 5, the four and twenty elders, representing the full body of the saints, are seen in heaven before the throne, and they are there, be it noted, before the first seal is broken or the first flash of judgement breaks forth. There is no judgement until the seals are broken, and in that case, all that transpires between chapters 6-19 inclusive has nothing whatever to do with the Church, for it is no longer on the earth, having been raptured to heaven. (1 Thess. 4:14-17, 1 Cor. 15:51-52.)
3. The first seal, page 20. The horseman of the first seal is alleged to be "Christ going forth to victory." This is a common error which is due to linking this vision with the white horse of Revelation 19. The white horse symbolism is all the two visions have in common, but in all other details they differ vastly.
The four horsemen represent dire scourges visited on the earth at the end-time. With these judgements is associated a powerful personality whose policy engulfs the world in war, and as a consequence famine and pestilence follow.
The first horseman introduces the "Great Tribulation," and the first and greatest calamity is the ready and enthusiastic acceptance by the earth-dwellers of the cult of Anti-Christ and his nefarious programme.
4. The binding of Satan, page 33. It is asserted by the writer that "Satan is bound or chained for 1000 years, in the sense that he cannot hurt those who have triumphed over him, through Christ." This, however, is not borne out by the text, for Rev. 20:2 informs us that the binding is for an altogether different purpose, "that he might deceive the nations no more."
Since peace is a stranger to the earth, and national hatreds abound, we may be certain that the binding of Satan has not yet taken place.
5. The Thousand Years, page 33. The literal thousand years vanishes before the spiritualizing wand. Nothing is safe with this technique.
We are informed that the "thousand years is not an exact period of time. It is figurative, setting forth a spiritual idea of completeness, because it is one hundred times ten, which is regarded as a sacred number on account of the ten commandments."
We have read a great many curious contortions respecting the thousand years, but surely this interpretive masterpiece is too great a tax on our credulity.
The Praeterists are not alone in spiritualizing the thousand years, but the tragedy is that all numbers suffer the same fate. The 5 months of Revelation 9, the 144,000 of chapter 7, the 42 months of Revelation 11:2, are all done to death by the same procedure.
Names, places, numbers, geographical locations, may as well not have been given, for in this system they have no fixed connotation. Everything is gloriously nebulous and "the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him" is reduced by man's theories to a meaningless hotch-potch.
7. The Two Resurrections, page 33. (Rev. 20:5-6). The first resurrection (Rev. 20:5-6) is declared to be "our acceptance of Christ when we are born again," and then the second resurrection, with amazing inconsistency, is declared to be a literal rising from the dead.
That the first resurrection is not spiritual, but literal, is proven by the following considerations:
(1) The first resurrection cannot be the sinners' acceptance of Christ, or his being raised out of spiritual death, for they were spiritually resurrected before they became martyrs, otherwise they would not have been in this company at all.
(2) "The word resurrection is never used in the New Testament except to denote the coming up again of the body from the grave. It occurs more than 40 times and always in this one uniform and exclusive sense." (Dr. Seiss).
(3) "The placing of it as the first in a category of two resurrections, the second of which is specifically stated to be the literal rising again of such as were not raised again in the first, fixes the sense to be a literal resurrection."
Armageddon, page 30. Rev. 16:16. All references to Armageddon are spiritualized. We are informed that Armageddon is "wherever there is a fight between the forces of Satan and the forces of Christ."
"It can be on in the individual heart; the fight is on now."
"John imagines the battle taking place on the famous battleground of Har-Mageddon. John had in mind the overthrow of Rome and all who are joined with her in opposing Christ."
We are thankful that John's imagination had nothing to do in the matter and that our information comes from a more reliable source.
The conclusions set forth here are seen to be pitifully weak and inadequate when viewed in the light of God's Word, where the battle of Armageddon is revealed to be a conflict as literal as any ever fought. This is proven by the mention of:-
i. The flesh of Kings (Rev. 19:18).
ii. The Kings of the earth and their armies,
iii. The carrion birds (Rev. 19:21).
See also Zechariah 14; Isaiah 63:1-6; Rev. 14:14-20. While there has been a conflict from the beginning this does not constitute Armageddon.
It is to be observed that the actual conflict is reserved for a particular time.
It is connected with the sixth vial judgement, and seeing that all these judgements are in chronological order, the battle pertains to a specific time in the crisis of the end. Furthermore Armageddon is not anywhere there happens to be a conflict, but is to be fought out at an appointed place. "And he gathered them together into a `place' called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:16).
Armageddon is everywhere set forth as a battle, final and decisive. This is the war that ends all wars, never again will the war-drums throb, nor the tramp of marching millions be heard.
The battle is to be identified with the Smiting Stone of Daniel 2, the consuming of earthly Kingdoms, Daniel 7, the Day of Wrath, 2 Thess. 2, and as such it represents the great climacteric of advent judgements.
8. Revelation 19, page 32. We are informed that this chapter represents Christ in conflict with Pagan Rome. "Here we are shown Christ going forth with His armies to complete the victory." This chapter, of which there is not a more solemn in the Bible, is alleged to refer to the overthrow of Pagan Rome. This is shown to be incorrect by facts supplied by the chapter itself.
(1) "And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it he should smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
History records no such event as having yet taken place, for it is evident that the nations are not subdued, neither are they under the iron rod discipline of the Son of Man.
(2) The slaughter will be so great that God invites His feathered guests to the banquet that they may glut themselves on the great ones of the earth.
(3) The Beast and the Kings of the earth, and their armies gather together to make war against Jesus Christ.
Where are the historical parallels to these things?
(4) If, as alleged by the writer, "The beast and his false prophet" no longer refer to definite persons but the whole set-up "of emperor worship" how then, could such be cast into the "Lake of Fire," for verse 20 informs us that "these both were cast alive into a lake of fire," and in Rev. 20:10 these same two are seen in the lake of fire after the thousand years.
In view of these facts, we have no hesitation in declaring that chapter 19 has nothing whatever to do with Pagan Rome of the past, but the entire chapter is as yet unfulfilled and awaits the end of the age and the coming of the Lord.
9. Anti-Christ and the False Prophet, page 27. Out of all the villainous rogues and reprobate monsters of the Roman world, Nero quite easily takes the honours, so that we are informed that he is the Beast (Rev. 17-19) with Domitian a close second.
Concerning the False Prophet, there is this novel suggestion:-
"This second beast may be thought of as representing the government of the Province of Asia, with its civil administration under the Proconsul and its religious administration under the commune."
All this is shown to be quite alien to the text, by this and other Scriptures.
(1) Anti-Christ comes up from the midst of ten Kings and,
conquering three, rules the rest. (Daniel 7:24.)
(2) Anti-Christ dominates the entire world (Rev. 13:7-8).
(3) Anti Christ rules for 3-1/2 years. (Rev. 13:5).
(4) The Church will be mercifully removed from earth before Anti-Christ begins his rule. (Rev. 3:10).
These facts entirely refute the above theories and reveal them to be pitifully futile and a sad obscuration of the truth.
10. The Two Witnesses, page 24. The early Church regarded the two witnesses as men, and Hippolytus and others went so far as to identify them with Moses and Elijah. In the magazine under review the witnesses are declared to be "the whole Church speaking God's word through the time of peril."
Well then, let us substitute the word Church in every place where the two witnesses are mentioned and observe the tragic result. The narrative will speedily be reduced to a senseless jumble.
The language of Scripture reads naturally only when applied to persons. The two witnesses are to exercise a ministry for 3-1/2 years; they have power to inflict judgements on the earth; they have ability to destroy their enemies, and finally they are slain and ascend to heaven.
Where are the counterparts to all these things in the history of the Church, or after a spiritual fashion what could these things refer to in the life of the Church?
11. The Seals, Trumpet and Vial Judgements. All of these judgements are handled in true Praeterist fashion and are applied to events in the history of the Church they most seem to resemble. This however, gives free play to imagination and inventive genius, so that every expositor applies them after his own fashion, with the inevitable result that the rank and file are befogged and lost in a maze of opinion.
It is incredible that a series of studies could be prepared on the Apocalypse and no mention be made of Revelation 1:19, the key to the entire book. "Write the things which thou hast seen (past) the vision of Christ among the Churches, the things which are (present) and the things which shall be hereafter," (after these things) future. On page 9 we are informed that "Revelation is concerned with the times in which it was written and had an urgent message to the people to whom it was written in the circumstances in which they were living."
THE PRAETERIST THEORY,
a sample of which we have tested in this chapter, has been found wanting for at least four reasons:
1. The predictive language of Revelation is so startling and tremendous that nothing transpired in the early centuries, or subsequently, that can fill out the measure of the language employed. The advocates of this theory seek to supply this deficiency by giving an exaggerated emphasis to the events of the early Church, but it is obvious to the unbiased mind that no parallel exists.
2. If the book of Revelation is "concerned with the times in which it is written," as alleged, and its fulfilment is to be found in that time, then those living at that time were quite ignorant of the fact. The deep interest of the Church Fathers in the future fulfilment of the book contradicts this. The Shepherd of Hermas, written about A.D. 150, says "This beast is a type of the Great Tribulation that is coming." Justin Martyr, A.D. 100, a most pronounced Pre-millenialist, referred to the man of sin who would rule three and a half years, also the literal resurrection and a thousand years in Jerusalem. Irenaeus, A.D. 200, who was greatly influenced by Polycarp, who in turn was taught of the Apostle John, "But when this Anti-Christ shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem." The common belief of the first three centuries is clearly revealed in a commentary written by Jerome. "Let us say that which all ecclesiastical writers have handed down that at the end of the world when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed there will be ten kings who will share the Roman world among them, and there will arise an eleventh little King who will subdue three of the ten kings ... for he is the man of sin who sitteth in the temple of God making himself to be God."
Hippolytus says concerning the Tribulation, which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, "that refers to the one thousand two hundred and three score days."
Quotations from the Patristic writings appear in other chapter, but it suffices to say here that all such are futuristic and give the lie to the teaching that the main body of Revelation was fulfilled in the lifetime of the early Church.
3. If Revelation received its fulfilment during the first four centuries, then it follows that the book has had no relevance to the Church for the past 1500 years, but has existed merely as an historical curiosity.
4. The wide diversity of opinion that exists among Praeterists as to the application of the Revelation to specific events in the history of the early Church has produced much darkness and confusion. Nothing but hopeless chaos can result from an attempt to show that a future event has already been fulfilled.
5. By placing the events of the Revelation at the beginning of the Christian era, Praeterists have removed it entirely from the one tremendous fact that dominates the entire book. The framework in which the entire book is cast is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Everything must be seen in its relation to this great event.
The Historical School regards the Revelation as a continuous history, covering the entire Church Age and reaching on to the end of time. Examples of Historicist diversity are quoted, not with a desire to hold the theory up to contempt, for these men were sincere in their pursuit of the truth.
The Angus Bible Handbook (page 764), commenting on the Historicist theory says, "The theory breaks down because of hopeless variance."
"Where one interpreter (Elliott), sees the sixth seal a reference to Constantine, another (Faber), sees an allusion to the French Revolution; where one sees in the star fallen from heaven a good angel (Bengel), another (Elliott), discerns Mohammed. The Scorpion Locusts mean to Mede one hundred and fifty years of the domination of the Saracens, but to Vitringa, they mean Goths, and to Scherzer the Jesuits. All this seems to be arbitrary and hazardous in the extreme."
Dr. Seiss, who wrote over 90 years ago, gives us several classic examples of Historicist diversity as they existed in his day.
(1) Rev. 8:8-9. "And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed,"
Some understand the mountain to mean heresy; the sea, the Church, with its baptismal waters, its change to blood deadly error, the death of the fishes the perdition of souls, the destruction of the ships the overthrow of the Churches.
Others say the fiery mountain is Satan, the sea the nations, its change into blood the persecution of the Christians, and the wreck of the ships the extinction of congregations. Others tell us that the fiery mount was Genseric with his vandals, others again see in the fiery mountain Vespasian, the fishes the Jews, the ships the cities of Palestine. Nor is the list yet exhausted.
To some the sea is pure doctrine; the mountain aspiring prelates; the fire their ambition; the fishes the lower orders of the clergy and monks. To others the fiery mountain is Rome, and its destruction at the hands of Alaric, while others see the ravages of Attila.
And I only wonder that no one has discovered that is denotes the settlement of the Mormons in Salt Lake Territory. The simple truth is, that if it does not mean what it says as men ordinarily use language, no man can tell what it does mean and the opinion of one is just a good or just as bad as that of another.
(2) Revelation 6:12. "I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth."
What are we to understand by the sun, moon and stars? Ask a child, and he will tell you, but ask our Apocalyptic interpreters, and their answers are as varied as their names.
Grotius says they are the cities of Galilee; Hammond says the sun is the Jewish temple, the moon Jerusalem, the stars its population, their obscuration the taking of the city by Titus.
Brightman says the sun is the Bible, the moon its doctrines, the stars the members of the Church, the obscuration the persecution of the African Church.
Wordsworth sees in it a "prophecy of a great prevalence of errors, defections, apostasies in Christendom."
Here is a discrepancy which is eternally irreconcilable with the record and which is fatal to the theory. And if the system of symbolic interpretation forces us to accept what is fundamentally at variance with it, then there is but one rational alternative, either surrender our warfare to rationalism or renounce the symbolic system as inadequate and false. With all the great names with which it is adorned, I charge it with having obscured and sealed up from the view of the Church some of the plainest revelations from heaven.
See Isaiah 13:9; Jeremiah 4:23-28; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Joel 2:10, 30, 31; Amos 5:20.
(3) "And when he opened the seventh seal there followed a silence in the heaven, as it were half an hour." (Rev. 8:1).
This silence has made a good deal of noise in the world, especially among commentators. When expositors come to this silence, they break out into all sorts of contradictory conjectures. Some pronounce it a mere poetic invention, some as the suspension of wrath in the destruction of Jerusalem, some as the freedom granted to the Church under the reign of Constantine, others the millenium of peace, and still others see in it a respite between the persecutions of Diocletian and Galerius, A.D. 311.
We wonder that such wild and far-fetched conjectures should ever have found a place in man's mind. The language is all simple and plain, and means exactly what is written.
There is silence; it is in heaven. It lasts about half an hour -- and this is the whole of it! (Vol. 2, p.p. 16-17)."
Not only is the Historicist school convicted of error by reason of the multiplicity of its interpretations, but also by its failure to furnish anything from history to satisfy the tremendous language employed by the Holy Spirit in the Revelation.
The theory is extremely incongruous, and so at war with predictive language that it carries within itself its own confutation.
The Third school of thought is the Futurist. According to this interpretation the main body of the Revelation awaits fulfilment at the end of this age.
The key verse to the Futurist interpretation is Revelation 1:19, "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." The expression "hereafter," (meta tauta) is literally "after these" or "after these things." It is an expression commonly used of the end of a section or the completion of a series of related events.
It is used in the Gospels where the expression "meta tauta" is translated afterward., Luke 17:8, 18:4; John 5:14. This is the expression used in Acts 15:16 where the threefold programme of God is set forth. In verse 14 the first part of the divine programme is referred to, the taking out of a people from among the Gentiles for His name. Then comes the expression "after this" or "after these things." These words mark a new beginning in God's activity.
(1) "The things which thou hast seen" -- the vision of Jesus Christ in the midst of the lampstands (the Churches). (Rev. 1:12-18).
(2) "The things which are" -- The Church age. (Rev. 2-3).
The letters to the seven Churches are not letters in the ordinary sense, otherwise they would be found in the epistolary section of the New Testament. Their primary intention is prophetic and doubtless represents the progressive history of the Church from Pentecost to the Rapture. Here we have a compendium of Church history from the standpoint of heaven. Men require hundreds of pages to tell the story of Church history, but God gives its spiritual history in two chapters.
(3) "The things which shall be hereafter." (Rev. 4 - 20).
The expression "hereafter" means "after these" or "after these things." That is, after the events of the Church age, come things pertaining to the tribulation.
Dr. Campbell Morgan says "What then are these things? The dispensation of the Church on earth in its various aspects."
Futurists maintain that nothing after chapter 3 has yet taken place. That Laodicea represents an ending is suggested by the opening words of Chapter 4, "After this." After what? Obviously after the period represented by the seven Churches has ended.
The presence of the twenty-four elders in glory introduced in chapter 4 and 5 is strikingly significant. Commentators exhibit rare unanimity in identifying the elders with the Church in heaven. Differing widely on almost everything else in the Revelation, they are unanimous about this. This being the case, the Church is home in glory before the first seal is broken, and the dark night of the Tribulation begins.
The Futurist interpretation we believe to be the true one. Not that it is without difficulties, or that it can elucidate all the dark detail of the book, but the general Futurist outline harmonizes better with the prophetic plan of the Bible than any other.
While admitting the Futurist outline, we must recognize that there are numerous invidiual viewpoints on minor questions, the truth or falsity of which in no way disproves the general argument. Of course the fact that Futurists assign the greater part of the book to the future means that it cannot be tested by history, as other theories have, to their embarrassment and sorrow. However, the Futurist position can be subjected to a most crucial test. The Revelation can be compared with our Lord's Olivet Discourse, with the book of Daniel, and the body of Old Testament prophecy generally.
It was this very method that led the writer out of a bewildering fog of theories to the Futurist position. Furthermore, the Futurist position has this to commend it. It is based on a reliable principle of interpretation, namely the principle of literal interpretation. By that we do not mean crass literalness, nor the failure to recognize figurative language where it occurs. We must be cautious of any system which says, "part symbol, all symbol, part literal, all literal." Literal statements and figurative language exist side by side in the Revelation without creating the slightest embarrassment. The Futurist interprets in a straight-forward manner according to what the text says, except where the context indicates otherwise.
"Now it seems to me that the Futurist interpretation of "John's Revelation clearly fits in with the general pattern of Scripture prophecy. If not, who shall show us otherwise.
We have just read a pamphlet, "Some Errors of Futurism," in which the author condemns the Futurist interpretation as a sixteenth century invention of Ribera, a Jesuit priest, in order to save papal Rome from being identified as Anti-Christ.
So far as I myself am concerned, there was a time when I consulted no other writings on the matter until I had independently searched the Scriptures for myself, and that is how I came to my persuasion. The pamphlet criticizes the writings of certain Futurists, but that is very different from disproving the interpretation in general.
I myself do not agree with all that some Futurists say on subsidiary aspects, but neither can I find one real Scriptural argument against the Futurist view in all the pages of the said book.
Dr. Sidlow Baxter (page 339, volume vi), "Explore the Bible"
12. IS THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUALIZING SCRIPTURE LEGITIMATE?
The Bible as a revelation employs an almost endless variety of figures, symbols, types and shadows. In particular instances, writers under divine constraint adopted allegory, and in many cases spiritual meanings were attached to historic events and literal statements. But these expressions come to us as Spirit-guided utterances. However fertile the imagination or mystical the temperament of the writer, the Holy Spirit controlled all that was natural and caused only the divine will be to expressed.
So that there is a vast difference between the Biblical usage of the principle and the vagaries of modern writers. Instead of a true exegesis of Scripture, the whole thing ultimately degenerates into guesswork so that there are as many interpretations as there are interpreters. Every man does what is right in his own eyes so that where there should be order and precision, there is nothing but chaos and confusion, and a frustrated people tend to set the Bible aside as being beyond intelligent understanding.
"Mystical and symbolic interpretation should be discarded and the plan sense of Scripture accepted, unless there are clear indications in the context to indicate a departure from the normal literal meaning. There is but one way to approach the Scriptures and that is by the scientific method. It may be stated as follows:
"If the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.
"Therefore take every word in its primary, ordinary, usual meaning unless the facts of the context indicate clearly otherwise.: (Dr. David Cooper).
We insist therefore that the literal principle is the true basis of interpretation, and should be employed whenever possible. This we believe is the key that opens the door to Biblical truth, and without it the Bible just floats away and becomes nebulous and unreal. The word allegory means "other speaking," and this is exactly how the system works out in practice --- unpalatable truths and awkward doctrines are got rid of by making the Scriptures say other than what was intended. In the hands of these exegetical magicians the Bible is emptied of authority and vanishes into thin air.
If the principle of spiritualizing were adopted in commerce and business, the whole thing would come to a standstill in less than a day, for the literal principle is the basis on which the whole of life is conducted. Why, the, introduce topsy-turveydom into the realm of Bible exegesis, a place of all places where explicitness is required.
The words of Scripture as originally given were not used at hazard, but were employed according to a well-defined law. With what care the thought-forms and words were chosen, for the wrong use of a word could wreck a doctrine, and convey an altogether different meaning. To recklessly disregard these things, and to look on Scripture as merely something on which to try out our interpretive instincts, is to be deplored.
Furthermore, the principle of spiritualizing is a serious blow at verbal inspiration. The modernist destroys the word by rejection, but these spiritualizing jugglers destroy it by vapourizing it.
Surely the Evil One is well pleased with all this confusion, and with any contrivance which obscures the true meaning of Scripture. A-millenialists take refuge here in Dr. Warfield, as if the mere mention of his name was the end of controversy. But men of equal scholarship and ability dissent from Warfield at this point. How, then, does a scholar of Warfield's calibre come to reject the doctrine of the millenium? Only by setting aside the literal meaning of Scripture and adopting the principle of spiritualizing.
How incongruous to find the same man upholding verbal inspiration while adopting a system that flatly denies it. Warfield declares, according to the citation of Mr. Hughes (page 62), "The whole theory of an intervening millenium, indeed of a millenium of any kind on earth, goes up in smoke." Well, anybody following the spiritualizing technique could quite easily come to that conclusion and much worse.
"EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUALIZING TESTED"
(Quotations taken from the book "A New Heaven and a New Earth.")
On page 78 we are informed that the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37), is a prophecy of spiritual regeneration in this age.
"So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood upon their feet an exceeding great army." (Ez. 37:10). Then follows the comment, "And this was seen in Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14."
All this is incredibly strange, for Ezekiel 37 not only records the vision, but follows with a divine commentary. In verse 11, the bones are declared to be "the whole house of Israel," while in verse 12 the divine purpose is declared, "I will cause them to come up out of their graves, and will bring you into the land of Israel." Again, in verse 14, "I will place you in your own land." Futurists accept all these statements at their face value, and look for a return of Israel to the land. However, "the land of Palestine" here means something quite different to the A-millenialist.
Canaan is said to be a type of the heavenlies where spiritual Israel, the Church is seated having been raised from the grave of Sin (page 78).
Futurists strongly dissent from such handling of Scripture. It is to be noted that Ezekiel's prophecy of the valley of dry bones is the only part of a section devoted to Israel, its revival and restoration. This is the theme of chapters 36-40. The vision, therefore, must be interpreted in harmony with the context. In chapter 36:24, God's purpose for Israel is expressed. "I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of the countries and will bring you into your own land." Then there follows in v.v. 26-27 a prophecy concerning Israel's conversion. That all this is literal and incapable of a spiritual interpretation is proven by verse 28, "And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers," also v.v. 33 and 39, "I will cause you to dwell in the cities and the wastes shall be builded...so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of living men."
Having considered the context which precedes the vision in question, we will consider the context which follows immediately upon it. There is first the prediction concerning the vision of the house of Jacob and Israel with one king over them. In verse 21, the divine will of God for Israel is declared.
"I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they have gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel, and they shall be no more two nations!"
Verse 25 is particularly strong: "They shall dwell in the land that I gave Jacob my servant wherein your fathers have dwelt."
Now Ezekiel 36 and 37 teach identical truths. If one part is spiritualized, it follows that the remainder must be treated similarly. If the "land in Ezekiel is the heavenlies of the New Testament, where spiritual Israel is seated, what can we make of the "mountains of Israel," "their fathers," "my servant Jacob." What do they refer to after a spiritual fashion.
Into what a strange fairyland we find ourselves following this will-`o-the-wisp?
2. A further example of the spiritualizing method is seen in the interpretation placed on 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, and the activities of Anti-Christ. The temple is the improvised temple built by the Jews in which Anti-Christ sits.
"So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God."
Mr. Hughes would have us believe that this temple is the spiritual temple, the church. The context, however, forbids such a forced treatment, for if the temple is the Church, then it involves us in a terrible tie-up indeed, for Anti-Christ, the Man of Sin, must in that case, take his place in the Church, God's spiritual house. From such a notion, even the most rock ribbed A-millenialist would recoil.
JERUSALEM BELOW OR ABOVE?
On page 95 we are informed "Zion once the habitation of the great King is the Heavenly Zion, the Church, and Jerusalem is now not below, but above."
Thus earthly Jerusalem, and its equivalent Zion, have no future at all in the A-millenial scheme of things, but exist only as symbols of a heavenly state. The falsity of this reasoning becomes apparent the moment it is applied to any relevant Old Testament prophecy.
Zechariah 14 is a millenial chapter in which Jerusalem figures prominently and will suffice to test out the theory.
(1) Verse 8. "And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be."
(2) Verse 10. "All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and it shall be lifted up and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate into the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the King's wine press."
Loyalty to the exact meaning of the text forbids anything but a literal treatment. What are the spiritual parallels to all these geographical details and locations? What, for example, could the former Sea (Mediterranean) and the hinder Sea (Dead Sea) signify in the New Heaven and Earth, where we are explicitly told, "And there shall be no more sea." Likewise summer and winter; what could these signify in a land where such things do not exist.
According to Mr. Hughes, the land represents the heavenlies in which the Church is now seated. What, then, could Geba and Rimmon signify, or "the land turned into a plain"? Benjamin's gate, the corner gate, the tower of Hananeel, the King's wine presses --- what relation have any of these landmarks to the heavenlies, to the New Heavens, or anything else in the A-millenial programme?
Let us pursue the matter further, to verse 11, where we are assured that Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited, and verse 12, where the judgement of those who fought against Jerusalem is graphically mentioned, even to their eyes consuming away in their holes, and their tongues consuming away in their mouth. Then in verse 16, we are informed that all that is left of the nations come to Jerusalem to worship from year to year, and in verse 18, reference is made to the disciplinary judgement, that is meted out to those who come not to worship at Jerusalem, in the form of drought.
For the sake of emphasis we ask again, "Where does all this fit into the A-millenial picture of a heavenly Jerusalem. Obviously the whole thing is a case of running away from the world of fact into the world of fancy.
THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID AND THE CHURCH
Mr. Hughes declares that the "Tabernacle of David" is a prophetic symbol of the "spiritual habitation" into which both Jew and Gentile are builded together as living stones on the foundation of Christ, and again, "The Tabernacle of David is a wonderful type of the present Christian Church and era." (page 124).
Acts 15:16 is a quotation from Amos 9:11. Turning back to the original source of the quotation, the Tabernacle of David is seen in its true context.
(1) The Tabernacle of David is depicted as having fallen down, and at a time appointed is to be built up. (2) The breaches thereof are to be closed up. (3) The ruins are to be raised up. (4) It is to be built again as in the days of old.
The fulfilment of a prophecy must bear some relation to the prophecy itself, but in this case there is none. When were the ruins of the Church raised up? When was it built again as in the days of old? When were any of these things true of the Church, the body of Christ? History and Scripture cry out in unanimous protest.
Further, verse 12 informs us that the Tabernacle of David (David's House and Kingdom), are to be reconstituted, "that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name." Then in verse 13 there follows the material blessings of the millenial days, and in verse 14 we are told, "Behold I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them," and finally in verse 15 we are informed, "I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up."
The plain intention of the Holy Spirit here is to inform us that the Davidic Kingdom is to be restored amid scenes of fulness and plenty. To subvert the testimony of the Holy Spirit in these matters gravely inculpates the advocates of this system.
13. HAVE THE PROMISES MADE TO ISRAEL
BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE CHURCH?
A-millenialists teach that the promises made to Israel have been transferred to the Church and are now receiving a spiritual fulfilment in the life of believers generally.
On page 123 of "A New Heaven and a New Earth," Mr. Hughes declares, "It is perfectly clear that the Gentiles are now `fellow partakers' of all the promises made to Israel.
In support of this contention, Dr. Campbell Morgan is approvingly quoted, "I am convinced that all the promises made to Israel have found, are finding, and will find their perfect fulfilment in the Church." The name of Dr. Morgan doubtless helps to make the theory intellectually respectable, but it needs something more than Dr. Morgan's prestige to prevent the theory falling to pieces before the avalanche of Bible testimony. It is a case of a beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact, and the fact in this case is natural Israel, her persistence through the ages, her status as a self-governing nation in the world of our day, a sure token of the fact that God is about to take up dealings with that nation once more.
Surely this is the transcendent miracle of our day, and the attempt to rob the Jew of what is rightfully his, and to impose such an unnatural interpretation on the Old Testament prophecies must prove pitifully inadequate.
That "all" the promises made to Israel are finding their fulfilment in the Church is a tremendous claim, which if proven to be true, overturns all competing viewpoints. The falsity of the claim, however, is quite easily demonstrated.
Almost any part of the prophetic writings would provide a place where a theory could be tested. However, we shall select Isaiah 60-61, for these chapters are filled with glowing anticipations and are literally tingling and thrilling with millenial expectations. But once allow the shrivelled, gaunt hand of the allegorist to touch them and they are transmuted into shadowy ghosts incapable of intelligible sense.
Isaiah 60:1-4 describes the new glory which will come to Israel in millenial times, but instead of Israel's blessings being transferred to the Gentiles, the very reverse is indicated here. Kings and nations are here pictured coming to Israel to share her glory.
Verse 5. "The abundance of the sea shall be returned unto thee." What could this refer to in the life of the Church or the eternal order where "there is no more sea?"
Verse 5. "The wealth of the nations shall come unto thee." That this is a literal statement incapable of spiritualizing is shown by the fact that six nations are named bringing their gifts to Israel, Midian, Ephah, Sheba, Kedah, Nebaioth, Tarshish and Lebanon. Accept the prophecy literally and there is no difficulty, spiritualize it and try and find a corresponding quality in the Church and the result is chaos, magnified according to the number of expositors, for nobody could be sure what the six nations refer to after a spiritual fashion.
Verse 9. This verse informs us that the "ships of Tarshish" will bring the sons of Israel from afar, back to their homeland. Apply the prophecy to Israel in the days of national restoration and all is plain, apply it to the Church and we are enveloped in a bewildering fog.
Verse 12. "The nation and Kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea those nations shall be utterly wasted." This prophecy refers to Israel's place of primacy among the nations in the millenium. Applied to the Church, the whole utterance is pointless and irrelevant.
Verse 18. "Violence shall no more be heard in the land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders."
Verses 20-21. "The days of thy mourning shall be ended...they shall inherit the land forever."
How impossible to apply these words to the Church, which is destined to suffer tribulation to the end.
Isaiah 61:4 informs us that they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations. All this fits exactly into the millenial picture and applies to Israel in the most natural fashion, but pray who shall instruct us as to the spiritual counterparts in the life of the Church.
There is, in the words of this verse, such convincing realism that it fairly shrieks out in protest against reckless verbicides. What have "old wastes" and former desolations got to do with the Church, and further in verse 6, "and strangers shall stand and feed your flocks and the sons of the alien shall be your plowman and your vine-dressers." What shall be done with such prophecies? Emasculate them, brain-wash them and compel them to say what modern theorists wish them to say, or do what the early Church did, accept them at their face value.
Zechariah 10:6-10 is a notable prophecy uttered, be it noted, by a post-exile prophet, therefore it is impossible to say that it has reference to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon. God expresses his intention in these Scriptures in the form of nine "I wills," the final verse being:-
"I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria, and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and place shall not be found for them."
Pursuing the matter further to Ezekiel 36 in verses 1-8, the mountains of Israel are addressed and their fruitfulness predicted. What could the mountains answer to in the life of the Church.
Verse 11. The prophecy here declares "I will settle you after your old estates and will do better unto you than at your beginning." Verse 24. "I will....bring you unto your own land." Verse 28. "And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave your fathers."
Verse 33. "And I will also cause you to dwell in the cities and the waste places shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by, And they shall say, this land which was desolate is become like the garden of Eden." And what shall we do with such plain literality? Fly into the face of truth and declare as does Mr. Salmon that "there is no Jewish nation (page 57) and that "the futurist system holds out a false hope to the Jewish people" (page 51) by placing a literal interpretation on the Old Testament prophecies.
Give this and hundreds of other prophecies an "Alice in Wonderland" touch and thereby oust Israel out of God's programme.
Adolph Saphir once said, "Pharaoh tried to drown the Israelites, but they would not drown. Nebuchadnezzar tried to burn them, but they would not burn. Haman tried to hand them, but they would not hand," and we are tempted to add modern theorists are try to spiritualize them out of existence, but the nation of Israel abides with a strange and stubborn persistence, a national immortality that confounds her enemies and lays the theories of men in the dust. The prophecy of our Lord in Matthew 24:21 has been wonderfully fulfilled:- "Verily I say unto you, this generation (race) shall not pass till all thee things be fulfilled."
14. IS FUTURISM A MODERN INVENTION?
The term Futurism has arisen by reason of a particular interpretation, attached to the book of Revelation. Futurists are so designated because they teach that Revelation 4-19 awaits fulfilment in the future, at the end of the Church Age.
On page 148 "A New Heaven and a New Earth," the author professes to discover the origin of Futurism with certain Jesuit priests, namely Bellarmine and Ribera, who, it is alleged, promulgated the theory in the sixteenth century. It is a further alleged that the theory has come down to modern times via J.N. Darby and the Scofield Bible.
Such reckless allegations are doubtless good propaganda intended to sway Protestant sentiments against Futurism, but they are quite destitute of proof and lacking in factual evidence.
We invite our friends to make a study of the works of these Jesuits, and they will discover that the systems of Ribera and Bellarmine have much more in common with the Historical school, and aspects of A-millenialism than Futurism.
If Scofield or Darby had reproduced the systems of Ribera and Bellarmine, it would have been something altogether alien to modern Futurism. After all, thousands have arrived at an identical position without having heard of any of these men. Anyone who accepts the Scriptures at their face value must arrive sooner or later at the Futurist position, or something closely approximating to it.
A further allegation on page 148 is to the effect that Dr. Scofield's futuristic theory was entirely unknown to the writers of the New Testament. By the same token of course, most other doctrines immediately become suspect. It could be said with equal force that most creedal formulas and much theological terminology were likewise unknown.
The doctrines of eschatology, predestination, sanctification, etc., yea, the whole systematic theology in that sense was unknown to the writers of the New Testament.
The truths represented in the formulated creeds of the Church were found scattered throughout the Scriptures. Heresy compelled the Church to define its beliefs, and the science of theology brought together these scriptures in an orderly system. That is exactly what happened in respect to eschatology. Individual scriptures were brought together and formulated into a doctrine. Futurism as a system may not have been known to the New Testament writers, or even the Patristic writers, but the individual items which constitute that system were enthusiastically believed. The salient features of Futurism are all found in the Patristic writings.
(1) The Rapture of the Church, pre-millenial and pre-tribulation. (2) The rule of Anti-Christ. (3) The seven-year period, and the half of the week. (4) The revival of Israel, and the restoration of Palestine. (5) The coming of the Lord to the Mount of Olives, and the 1,000 year reign of Christ and the saints. (6) The dispensational method.
We contend that the doctrines which constitute Futurism formed a part of the historic faith from the beginning. Let us hear the testimony of the Christian scholars who lived during the first three centuries of the Church.
Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyons A.D. 200), was a friend of Polycarp, who in turn was a convert of the Apostle John. He writes thus:-
"But when this Anti-Christ shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple of Jerusalem, and then the Lord shall come from heaven in clouds, sending this man and those who followed him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the Kingdom". The predicted blessing therefore, belongs to the times of the Kingdom, when the righteous shall bear rule, upon their rising from the dead."
Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5.29) writes this concerning the Rapture:-
"And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, `there shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning'." There is here a clear hint of the pre-tribulation Rapture.
It is evident that Irenaeus, living in the second century, did not subscribe to the modern theory that the destruction of Jerusalem was the Great Tribulation, but affirmed his belief in a future tribulation of three and a half years, in the reality of Anti-Christ, in the personal reign of Anti-Christ, in the Rapture of the Church, and the future Kingdom.
Tertullian (120-225) (Against Marcion, Book 3), quotes 1 Thessalonians 4, "For we shall according to the Apostle be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, even the Son of Man who shall come in the clouds according to Daniel."
Justin Martyr, living in the second century A.D., was a pronounced Pre-millenialist.
"But I, and whoever are on all points right minded Christians, know that there will be a resurrection of the dead and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, as the prophets, Ezekiel and Isaiah and others, declare.
"And further, a man named John, one of the Apostles, predicted by a revelation that was made to him that those who believed in our Christ would spend 1,000 years in Jerusalem."
Commodianus (Bishop of North Africa, A.D. 250), wrote:
"They shall come also who overcame cruel martyrdom under Anti-Christ, and they shall live for the whole time. But from the 1,000 years God will destroy all those evils."
Tertullian (Against Marcion, Book 3), writes:
"But we do confess that a Kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven only in another state of existence, inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years, in the divinely built city of Jerusalem."
In the writings of Lactantius five things in particular are mentioned:
(1) The madman, Anti-Christ. (2) The coming of Christ with His saints. (3) Universal Peace. (4) Christ's reign with the saints. (5) The 1,000 years duration of the Kingdom.
The Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 140-150). "Go therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the Great Tribulation that is coming."
Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (A.D. 80-163). Fragments 4 and 5, describes in lyrical terms the fertility of the millenial times, affirms his belief that there will be a millenium after the resurrection of the dead, "when the personal reign of Christ will be established on the earth."
Nepos (Egyptian Bishop, A.D. 230-250) wrote to defend millenialism after Origen attacked it. According to his opponents Nepos taught, "After this (first) resurrection, the Kingdom of Christ was to be upon earth a thousand years, and the saints were to reign with Him."
Hippolytus also referred to the duration of the Tribulation as "one thousand, two hundred and three-score days."
The dispensational method so inveighed against by modern theorists was undoubtedly known and practised. Augustine, no less, is credited with the oft-quoted dictum, "Distinguish the dispensations and the Scriptures agree," and he was the first to adopt the practise of dividing history into seven periods, while the distinctions made between the various groups of events such as we find in the writings of Lactantius accord very well with the dispensational method. Concerning beliefs of the early church, Chillingsworth testifies, "The doctrine of the millenaries was believed and taught by the most eminent fathers of the age after the Apostles; it was the catholic doctrine of those times."
What then was the "doctrine of the millenaries" which was so widespread as to be designated "catholic"? Not belief in a millenium merely, but all the individual doctrines which taken together and formulated into a chronological system constitutes present day Futurism.
It is doubtless the arrangement of these early doctrines into a chronological system that stirs the ire of our friends, but surely we have the strongest reason for believing that the knowledge of prophecy would be increased as the age nears its end.
The book of Daniel, sealed for so long, was a dark mystery until modern times, but that which so greviously puzzled other generations is no longer a mystery. The veil has been lifted, and the message of Daniel is open for all to receive.
Then too, we today are in the fortunate position of being able to see the age in retrospect, and benefit greatly from the past. Time and again, theories have arisen only to vanish into the night of history. Truth is impartial and has no favourites, and the relentless unfolding of time has given a dignified burial to many a human fetish.
The post-millenial theory arose, held the stage, and drew many after it, but its altars are forsaken, and it has vanished into the limbo of forgotten theories. Its devotees have transferred their allegiance to another deity, A-millenialism, which is filling the air with loud trumpetings, but we are confident that it too will fill its niche in the museum of obsolete theories.
The Pre-millenial truth has stood by the grave of all its enemies, it was this truth in which the early church delighted for 300 years, and it still commands the allegiance of a great section of the Church.
Believers, however, must be prepared for minor adjustments in their beliefs as the event draws near. A great mountain viewed from the distance appears as one huge hazy mass, but as we draw nearer, the whole thing breaks up into valleys, gorges, cliffs, peaks; so with the landscape of prophecy.
The second advent dominates the future like some great Everest, and the nearer we approach in time, the more clearly the details will show up. We confess that there is much dark detail which calls for reverent caution, and there are subsidiary truths and minor points that call for a humble diffidence, where a profession of ignorance is no dishonour, and is to be preferred to a belligerent cocksureness. Specializing in irrelevancies can be a prolific cause of mischief. After all, it is the main outline of prophecy for which we contend.
15. SHOULD REVELATION 20 BE USED TO ESTABLISH DOCTRINE?
No chapter in the entire Bible has been so vilified and misrepresented as the twentieth chapter of Revelation. Hostile theorists have declared it to be vague, airy, mystical, symbolic, full of dark words, abstruse sentences, and weird ecstasies, and this by no means exhausts the list. But our opponents cannot evade the force of this chapter by branding it with stigma. What, we ask, is there in this chapter that puts a strain on our credulity? Nothing whatsoever, for there is scarcely anything mentioned in the chapter that is not revealed in other Scriptures.
But why, we ask, is this chapter so maligned? Why have theologians made this the "Cinderella" of Bible chapters? The reason is not far to seek. This chapter, above all others, is a stronghold of Futurist interpretation. It literally annihilates modern theories and flattens their adherents to the dust. If this chapter is literally true, then theories, commentaries and books galore vanish into oblivion, hence the invective, the defamation and the stigma.
First the critics of this chapter have sought to isolate it from the full context of prophetic revelation. Its doctrinal content is said to be negligible, while quotations from it are suspect. But, as someone has pointed out, the 20th chapter of Revelation merely presents the "Christianized form of the Old Testament Apocalyptic." There are three concepts running through Old Testament prophecy, namely the coming of Messiah, the great and terrible day of the Lord, and the setting up of the Kingdom.
These three facts appear in a New Testament setting in Revelation 19 and 20. First, the coming of the "Warrior King," the day of fiery indignation, then in the 20th chapter the Kingdom appears under the New Testament terminology of the 1,000 years.
To detach Revelation 20 from either the Old Testament or New Testament apocalyptic utterances foredooms any intelligible interpretation.
Critics of this chapter usually represent it to be so full of weird symbolism and bewildering figures that no real interpretation or profit can issue therefrom.
From all this we most strongly dissent. On the contrary, the chapter is full of substantial realities. Our opponents need to realize that they have not disposed of their difficulties by pronouncing all these things figurative. Figures stand for facts and this chapter is peculiarly rich in facts, as our friends know to their sorrow.
In the light of the charge of "unintelligible symbolism," let us proceed to examine the first four verses of Chapter 20, and note the persons, things and actions indicated.
The angel, heaven, the key, the abyss, the chain, the Dragon, the Serpent, the Devil, Satan, the binding, the 1,000 years, the shutting up in the abyss, the seal, the nations, the little season, thrones, souls beheaded, the Word of God, the Beast his image and mark on foreheads and hands. There are about 22 persons, things and activities mentioned in the compass of four verses.
Only two items out of 20 could possibly be considered figurative, viz., the Key and the Chain. Dr. Seiss, however, regards the whole thing as a literal transaction. In 2 Peter 2:4, there is a reference to chains fettering unruly spirits. "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgement." Jude 6 also refers to the same angels whom He "hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness."
The reference to 1,000 years has come under heavy fire from the critics. We believe God meant just what He said, 1,000 years, no more, no less. If the 1,000 years does not mean a thousand years then pray tell us if God really meant us to understand 1,000 years literally, what numerals or language would He employ, seeing that when He uses the only language available, critics who maintain the theories pervert it to mean something else.
That the chapter is almost entirely literal is proven by the fact that its contents are revealed repeatedly in other Scriptures.
1. That the evil spirits will be imprisoned is revealed in Isaiah 24:21. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together as prisoners are in the pit."
Furthermore, the imprisoned ones are to be visited, punished, (R.V. margin) after many days. (Bundling them into a dungeon, penning them inside a prison until their day of doom arrives, R.V.) The "many days" here is doubtless the millenium period.
2. The first resurrection is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:23. 3. Thrones, with the saints reigning, is found in Isaiah 32:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:12. 4. The mark of the Beast, Revelation 13:15-17. 5. Believers as priests of God, Revelation 1:6. 6. The book of Life, Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3. 7. The final judgement, Matthew 11:20-24. 8. The Beast, the False Prophet in hell, Revelation 19:20.
Thus the chapter is not the misty symbolic record the critics make it out to be, but is replete with literal facts which are to be accepted at their face value.
Another objection that is trumpeted far and wide by superficial critics is that this is the only chapter in the Bible where 1,000 years is mentioned.
But is this the whole truth on the matter? Certainly, this is the only chapter where the actual reference is found, but it is found six times. This is almost unique in Scripture. Where in Scripture is one fact so prominently featured? It is almost as if the Holy Spirit anticipated modern scepticism at this point.
Further, we declare that if the chapter contained only one reference to the 1,000 years, that would be sufficient reason to believe the doctrine as devoutly as if it were revealed six times or 100 times. The veracity of a doctrine does not depend on the times the Holy Spirit chooses to reveal it, for a doctrine once revealed is established with as much certitude as a doctrine declared many times. The thousand years is the New Testament nomenclature for the Old Testament doctrine of the Kingdom. If we are to reject the doctrine of 1,000 years for the sole reason that it is mentioned only in one place in the Scriptures, then to be consistent, other doctrines must be rejected by the same token.
(1) The Virgin Birth mentioned only in Isaiah 7:14.
(2) That God hath immortality. 1 Timothy 6:16.
(3) The existence of light revealed only once in Genesis 1:3.
Another objection which reveals a subtle falsity of approach to the doctrine of the millenium, is that which asserts that there cannot be a millenium because the actual word is not used anywhere in the New Testament.
The fallacy of this argument lies not in what it says, but in what it fails to say. That the word "millenium" is not used in the New Testament is true. The word is not there in the English, but what is much more important, it is there in the Greek, and that strengthens the case immeasurably. If it were the reverse, we would have genuine cause for alarm, but no, the Greek word "chilioi" a thousand, is definitely used.
The comment of Mr. Hughes (page 209) to an inquirer who could not find the word millenium in the New Testament, "You have learned something, for now you know that the New Testament has nothing to say about a millenium," is both subtle and misleading, and calculated only to obscure the truth. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin "mille" a thousand, "annus" a year. The word implies a thousand years, or to use the Greek expression a "chilioi". Any thousand years constitutes a millenium, but because of the peculiar significance of this thousand-year period in God's plan, it is designated "the millenium".
It is the name of a thoroughly scriptural doctrine, even though the word does not occur in the English.
How foolish it would be to reject the doctrine of the trinity because the actual word "trinity" is not employed in the New Testament. Both words are recognized names given to the New Testament doctrines, and everybody knows what they connote, but in the case of the millenium, it is not only the designation of a Bible doctrine, but the actual Greek word is employed by the Holy Spirit.
16. WILL THERE BE ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENIUM?
Futurists accept animal sacrifices in the millenium along with the rest of Ezekiel's prophecy pertaining to the temple. Our opponents reject this with abhorrence. They make merry at this point, regarding this as the coup de grace to the whole millenial scheme. They profess to find here a contradiction of the grace principle, a reversion to carnal ordinances and a return to what Hebrews describes as "the weak and beggarly elements of the world." Now, all this looks bad indeed for the Futurists, but when the dust and commotion has settled, and the loud trumpetings of our friends have died away, we might give sober regard to what the whole body of Scripture has to say.
The question once again is one of literal versus allegorical, interpretation. If we accept the former principle, then most assuredly we will agree that the resumption of the sacrifice system is part of the millenial economy. If we admit the latter system of interpretation, we are duty bound to find some satisfying substitute. This, we maintain, is wholly impossible without making a farce of Scripture. If we dismiss Ezekiel 40-48 as a vision impossible of accomplishment, we are still very far from a solution to the problem, for Ezekiel does not stand alone in this testimony.
Isaiah 56:5-6, "Also the sons of the stranger...and taketh hold of my covenant. Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar, for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
Zechariah 14:20 informs us that every one that is left of all the nations which come up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts. Then in verse 21 we read, "And all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them and seethe therein."
Jeremiah 33:17-18. "Neither shall the priests and the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings and do sacrifice continually."
In face of this weighty evidence, the acceptance of a literal interpretation is imperative.
We are now prepared to consider the question, "Is the offering of animal sacrifices a return to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, and a contradiction of Hebrews?" A-millenialists realize the propaganda value of this charge, for no other argument quite so touches the sentiments of believers as this one.
Animal offerings prior to the coming of Christ were anticipative and prophetic of the work of Calvary, but now that sin has been effectively dealt with, the offering of animal sacrifices for sin would be rank unbelief and blasphemy. But the question under discussion is not animal sacrifices in the day of grace, but something quite different, animal sacrifices in the millenium. Seeing that these offerings have nothing to do with the taking away of sin, in the nature of the case, they could only be commemorative in the same way as the Lord's Supper is commemorative of the work of Calvary.
For 1,500 years, animal offerings were part of Israel's ritual, but no Jew ever saw the typical significance of these things. They never understood that the whole Levitical ritual even to the very details foreshadowed the work of Calvary. In the millenium, they shall see the work of Calvary in retrospect and every beast slain will drive home to the Jewish conscience their former unbelief, in a way that nothing else could.
There is no conflict between Ezekiel and Hebrews, only such as is invented by theorists. The epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, warning them not to go back to animal sacrifice and the rest of the temple ritual in the day of grace. Hebrews deals with animal sacrifices in the day of grace; Ezekiel deals with animal offerings in the millenial day.
17. THE MILLENIAL TEMPLE.
Scripture bears testimony to the fact that two Jewish temples are yet to be built in the future.
There is the improvised temple in which Anti-Christ will sit. 2 Thess. 2:4 "So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God." Then there is the millenial temple, the details of which are revealed in Ezekiel, chapters 40-48. This tremendous building or sanctuary will be located in the centre of the Holy oblation (Ezekiel 48:10, 20, 21), somewhere near the site of ancient Shiloh.
The millenial temple will be a building just a little less than a mile square. (Ezekiel 42:15-20). No such building as Ezekiel describes has ever been erected. It cannot refer to the new heaven and earth, for its environs are bounded by the sea, and in the eternal state there is no sea. The only alternative is the millenium. This is further confirmed by the reference to "the desert," the river Jordan, and the Mediterranean Sea. The new temple will lack many features that were in the old temple. There will be no ark of the covenant with its contents, no golden lampstand, no tables of Shewbread, no altar of incense, no vail, or unapproachable Holy of Holies.
The vision of Ezekiel's temple has proved to be a great embarrassment to commentators, and a vexed question to Bible students generally, and it must surely remain so while the literal interpretation is repudiated. That the vision was given, but never intended to be realized is untenable; that the vision was fulfilled at the building of the temple of Zerubbabel is equally untenable. That the whole thing can be vapourized by spiritualizing is wholly impossible, for spiritual counterparts to the numerous measurements and details and geographical locations could never be found in the Church.
The amazing thing about the vision is the great wealth of detail, the exactitude of measurement, the precise geographical boundaries and locations. For example, in the first two chapters that deal with the vision, there is the gate toward the east, the outer court, the inner court, the porch of the House, the Holy Place, the most Holy, the side chambers, the rear buildings, and a description of the interior of the Temple.
Nowhere in the entire Bible, with the possible exception of the Tabernacle, has such a detailed plan been given for any building. All of which renders a literal interpretation imperative.
18. WILL THERE BE AN OFFICIATING PRIESTHOOD IN THE MILLENIUM?
That the Jewish nation in the millenium will have an officiating priesthood is the subject of explicit Old Testament prophecy. Our A-millenial friends, as usual, have given all these Scriptures a spiritualizing twist, and have made them mean something else other than was intended. Thus the Priesthood of Israel is set aside and the Priesthood of believers in this age is substituted in its stead. This does great violence to the Scriptures, for the relevant prophecies at this point are exceedingly explicit, enumerating the names of the family of priests some five times. (Ezekiel 40:46; 43:19; 44:15; 48:11; 1 Chronicles 6:8.)
The reason for this high honour being bestowed on the sons of Zadok is due to their faithfulness to Jehovah in the time of apostasy. (Ezekiel 44:15).
"Where are the sons of Zadok today?" asks Mr. Hughes. Our reply is, "God knows, and that is all that matters." God watches over His Word to fulfil it, and we may confidently leave all things with Him.
In Revelation 7, the twelve tribes are mentioned and a privileged company selected from each for service at the end-time. Queries may be raised as to the whereabouts of the twelve tribes today. God knows where they are, and at the appointed time each will find his place in his respective tribe. Any unfulfilled prophecy may be questioned in the same manner. Such questions come perilously near to unbelief in doubting God's ability to do the thing He has declared, and savours of the liberalistic technique.
Nowhere does it say that the priests are taken from the sons of Zadok only, but it does refer to the specific duties assigned to them.
In respect to priests being taken from all nations (Isaiah 66:21), the expression "take of them" may mean the nations who bring back the Jews, or the Jews brought back. Commentators generally favour the latter, but if others were made eligible for the Priesthood, it would not seem to contradict God's earlier choice of the sons of Zadok.
19. DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACH THE REVIVAL
OF ISRAEL AND THE RETURN TO THE LAND?
In an age when the Jews are returning en masse to their ancient homeland and the transformation of Palestine is proceeding apace, it seems superfluous to raise the question. Will the Jews return to Palestine?
And yet despite the phenomenon of Israel's national revival many remain unconvinced.
This failure is certainly not due to lack of Scripture proof, for the Old Testament literally abounds with evidence concerning this great event:
Isaiah 11:11 Amos 9:11-15. Jeremiah 16:14-16 Isaiah 27:12-13. Zephaniah 3:19-20. Ezekiel 20:42-44. Ezekiel 37:15-22. Zechariah 10:6-10. Ezekiel 37:1-14 Micah 4:1-2.
The national revival of Israel is an incontrovertible fact of prophecy and yet despite this overwhelming testimony which should prove sufficient, opponents of this teaching wave it aside and insist that we furnish proof from the New Testament.
A medical man once remarked to the writer, "I know the Old Testament teaches the return of the New to Palestine, but when I can find it in the New Testament I will believe it." Apart from being a disparagement of the authority of the Old Testament, the confession of our friend reveals a lamentable ignorance of the New Testament for by allusion, by inference, and direct reference, the New Testament supports the Old Testament and in many cases supplements it.
That the New Testament fails to furnish the wealth of evidence concerning Israel and the land should not disturb us, for the Old Testament pertains peculiarly to Israel, while the chief theme of the New Testament is the Church.
Israel's national revival lies outside the actual programme of the Church, but the New Testament brings the Old Testament into the circle of its inquiry and investigation. Israel's history, past, present and future, must figure prominently in its teaching.
1. Gabriel's message to Mary. (Luke 1:32-33). All this breathes the spirit of Old Testament prophecy. The throne of David is mentioned in Isaiah 9:6-9, while the everlasting duration of the Kingdom was guaranteed to David and confirmed to Daniel. (Daniel 2:44, 7:14-27). The Kingdom according to Daniel 2 is to fill the whole earth, while chapter 7 speaks of the greatness of the Kingdoms under the whole heaven. This forbids any spiritualizing whatsoever.
2. The words of Mary confirm the Old Testament expectation. "He hath given help to Israel his servant in remembrance of his mercy (as he spake to our fathers) to Abraham and his seed forever." (Luke 1:54-55). Thus Mary expected the covenant with Abraham to be fulfilled literally.
3. Zecharias too spake of the Abrahamic Covenant, "the oath which he swore unto Abraham our Father." The oath which God swore to Abraham concerns the land and its possession in the latter days.
4. Who instructed the Magi (Matthew 2:2) that Jesus was born King of the Jews, and why were they so instructed if there was to be no Jewish Kingdom?
5. Peter's question (Matthew 19:28) implies the revival of Israel and their restoration to the land. "The Son of man sitting on the throne of glory" takes us back to Zechariah 6:13, when Messiah the Branch shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon His throne. The throne and the rulership of the 12 tribes refers us back to Ezekiel 47:13-48; 29, where the 12 tribes are represented as being back in the land of Palestine.
6. At the triumphant entry (Mark 11:10) the crowds cried out, "Blessed be the Kingdom of our Father David that cometh in the name of the Lord." This quotation from Psalm 18 is Messianic, and in its implications presages the coming Kingdom.
7. In the Olivet discourse our Lord affirmed the truth of Daniel's Prophecy. "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolations spoken by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place." This reference relates back to Daniel 9:27 where the sacrifice and oblation is mentioned, and to Daniel 12:11 when the daily sacrifice would be taken away and the abomination that maketh desolate set up. What is the inference to be drawn from all this? Only that Israel at a future time will re-occupy the land, and will erect a temple, and revive its sacrificial ritual.
8. The disciples' question, Acts 1:6, "Dost thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" If the Kingdom was ever to be restored to Israel surely now was the time to disabuse their minds, but no, our Lord merely issued a dissuasive against undue speculation. "It is not for you to know the times and season." Thus our Lord left them still anticipating the Kingdom but He gave no hint as to the time of its realisation.
9. At the Jerusalem conference James made a tremendous statement (Acts 15:12-18) based on a prophecy in Amos 9:11-15. Let the reader turn back to this prophecy and he will discover that it teaches the restoration of the Davidic monarchy. "I will build it as in the days of old," then verse 14 says, "I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel." The whole passage is millenial through and through.
The tabernacle of David is the Davidic Kingdom, and this is impossible without the return of the Jews to repossess the land. If James had held some of the modern theories that Israel had passed off the scene forever, he would not have thus spoken. Verse 17, "that the residue of men might seek after the Lord" makes it plain that the Kingdom is on the earth and spiritualizing is impossible.
10. The testimony of Romans 11:27. "For this is my covenant unto them when I take away their sins." The covenant here relates back to Jeremiah 31:31-40. It is the new covenant that provides for Israel's regeneration and national conversion; this follows on as a part of the covenant details concerning the rebuilding of Palestine. These are to be "Holy unto the Lord, it shall not be plucked up nor thrown down, any more forever."
11. The Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 speaking of the Anti-Christ says "So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God." The whole context refers to the latter days when a temple will be rebuilt. There is only one race that is interested in building such a temple and they are the Jews, and moreover there is only one place where they will build it and that is Jerusalem. This statement presupposes the Jew in the land and the resumption of temple services.
12. Revelation 7 reveals the sealing of the remnant of Israel; 144,000 are to be selected from twelve tribes in the last days of this age, to be the special objects of God's mercy and preservation. All this signifies the revival of Israel in the latter days and exactly fits the pattern of the Old Testament.
Revelation, chapter 11 furnishes us with an array of facts relative to Israel in the land. Verse 1 records that there is a temple, that there is an altar, and that there are worshippers. Verse 2 refers to the court and the temple and the holy city. Verse 8 describes this city to be the earthly Jerusalem. All these facts presuppose the revival of Israel nationally and their restoration to the land.
All attempts to deny Israel a national future in the land are particularly ill-timed, seeing that God has permitted them to re-establish themselves as a political entity once more.
20. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BOOK OF ACTS.
The Book of Acts is the history of a great transition, wherein the nation of Israel was set aside, and the Gentiles invited into the place of privilege. The book itself covers a period of about 30 years, wherein the Gospel was preached to the Jews of the homeland, and subsequently to those of the dispersion, but by the time the record closes, the Jews had so grieved the Holy Spirit that they were by-passed in the divine purpose.
The early preaching of the Gospel was according to a strict law of preference, "to the Jew first." Pentecost on this account was a Jewish affair exclusively. True, the day appears on the Christian calendar as the birthday of the Church, but the Gentiles as such do not enter into the picture at all. Certain features connected with the day of Pentecost should be carefully noted:
(1) It was a Jewish feast day.
(2) Peter's sermon was addressed to the "men of Israel."
(3) The phenomenon of the effusion of the Spirit was a partial fulfilment of an ancient Jewish prophecy (Joel 2:28-30).
(4) The responsibility of the crucifixion was laid on Israel.
(5) To the generally-accepted tenets of Judaism, Peter added the affirmation that Jesus was now Messiah; that His death was "according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," and that His resurrection was a fulfilment of the Davidic prediction.
(6) Three thousand Jews under deep constraint repented, and were baptized, forming the nucleus of the first ecclesia.
The Church at first was called the "Sect of the Nazarene," and for the first seven or more years was purely Jewish. It worked and witnessed within the framework of Jewish life and tradition, but it was soon to cast aside its swaddling-clothes and emerge as an entirely new movement, a unique creation of the Holy Spirit.
The reception of the Gentiles (Acts 10), began a movement toward the larger spiritual ideal of the Pauline Epistles.
The biggest event in the life of the early Church, next to Pentecost, was the conversion of Saul o f Tarsus. With Paul, a systematic expansion of the Gospel began, and a crisis in Jewry was precipitated. Jerusalem Jewry gave the lead in the struggle against nascent Christianity. They would have it known that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was no snap decision, but a studied policy, and to confirm their actions they murdered Stephen, and embarked upon a policy of wholesale persecution and death.
The journeys of Paul confirmed the fact that the Jews of the dispersion were not one whit behind their co-religionists of the homeland in their abhorrence of the Gospel. Two crisis points are to be especially noted. Acts 13:4, "Then Barnabas and Paul waxed bold and said, `It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing ye have put it from you and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles'."
Then in Acts 28:28, there is the final parting of the ways: "Be it known therefore unto you that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and they will hear it,"
Thus a new age brakes, the ekklesia, "a new thing," a fusion of Jew and Gentile begins to fill out the divine pattern and the "spacious catholic conception" of the Christian Church comes into view for the first time.
Up to this point the Church was a mystery in God, but now the divine secret is out, and the Church takes up the torch of witness, and goes forth to glorify God by exalting the Lord Jesus, and magnifying His word.
21.. DID THE KINGDOM COME AT PENTECOST?
If by the term "kingdom" is meant the Messianic Kingdom promised aforetime by the Jewish prophets, then our answer is "No!".
The visible earthly kingdom and reign of Messiah which Israel anticipated was not realized, and the Kingdom in mystery form became a reality in human hearts. Believers were said to be translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son. (Colossians 1:13). The "Church," the "Body," the "Bride," the "Temple," now fill the picture. While the Church is within the Kingdom of God, and is the sphere of Kingdom manifestation in this age, it must not be confused with the coming of the visible world-kingdom of the Son of Man. The Kingdom is a spiritual experience in the hearts of believers, here and now, and yet the visible Kingdom remains an unconsummated thing of the future.
Strenuous efforts have been made by those who reject millenary doctrines to prove that the "only Kingdom ever promised" came at Pentecost. But we ask, did the events at Pentecost, or subsequently, fill out the pattern of Old Testament prediction? Did the events of that day satisfy the tremendous language of the Old Testament? A careful study of these prophecies reveals that the coming of the Kingdom is associated with at least four tremendous events.
(1) That the Kingdom will be introduced by cataclysmic
judgements, and will come by a dramatic intervention of God in history,
the like of which the world has never witnessed. (Daniel 2).
(2) Cosmic disturbances and physical convulsions on an unprecedented scale will herald and accompany the advent of the Kingdom. (Joel 2).
(3) There will be a complete overthrow of governmental powers and human institutions. (Daniel 7).
(4) The world-wide Kingdom and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. (Zechariah 14).
We confess ourselves wholly unable to find anything in Acts 2 or anywhere else, which even in the remotest sense answers to these things, therefore we conclude that the Kingdom envisaged by the Jewish prophets is still future.
22. WAS THE KINGDOM POSTPONED?
The Postponement Theory, as some have elected to call it, has been much maligned and misrepresented. It is alleged to teach that Jewish unbelief took God by surprise, and in consequence, God improvised the Church age as an "after-thought" or an "unexpected necessity." Nothing could be further from the truth. Admittedly some Futurists have written and said some foolish things in this connection, but that in no way invalidates the main argument.
The problem is best approached from two points of view, the human and the divine. Looking at the question from the divine standpoint, God has a purpose running throughout all history, a plan of the ages which is not subject to alteration or amendment, but which proceeds unfalteringly to its predestined end. (Ephesians 3:10-11). God is not working as an opportunist who meets an emergency as it arises; God has a plan, a blueprint drawn up in the counsels of Eternity. Nothing is ever in doubt. Any suggestion of postponement, change, surprise, or amendment are out of the question. "I am God, and there is none else. I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel will stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:9-10). Divine foreknowledge, then, is the key to the problem. Jewish unbelief, the advent of the Church, the crucifixion, are all subjects of divine prescience.
It is evident that God is working to a divine timetable, and that all the events of time are according to a divine schedule. Peter assured his hearers at Pentecost (Acts 2:23) that Jesus Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The birth of Christ was in the fulness of time; when His hour was come, He proceeded to the cross, the exact hour of His death having been determined. "Believers are elect according to the foreknowledge of God."
We are bold to assert, therefore, that the Church began at the scheduled time, and the millenial Kingdom likewise will begin at the time appointed. Jewish unbelief and rejection could in no wise alter the plan, for all these things were duly taken into account, and lay in the divine foreknowledge.
Looking at the problem from the Jewish standpoint, they were constantly expecting the Kingdom to appear, and with the presence of the miraculous ministry of Christ, they felt that the time had come. "The first century witnessed a remarkable outburst of Messianic emotionalism. This is to be attributed to the prevalent belief induced by the popular chronology that the age was on the threshold of the Millenium. When Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom He was voicing an opinion universally held -- the age of the Kingdom of God was at hand. It seems likely therefore that in the minds of the people, the Millenium was to begin around the year A.D. 30.
(Rabbi Silver, "Messianic Speculations in Israel.")
The land had been thoroughly stirred by the preaching of Jesus and John. Kingdom signs were happening all around them, and the populace was on the tip toe of expectancy. It was for this reason that our Lord spoke the parable of Luke 19.
"And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought the Kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, `A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a Kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants and delivered them ten pounds and said unto them "Occupy till I come".' "
There are several things to be noted: (1) The parable was spoken because He was nigh to Jerusalem on His final visit to the city. (2) It was spoken to correct the thinking of the populace, for they thought the Kingdom was to appear immediately. (3) The parable explicitly teaches that there would be a delay in setting up the Kingdom or an interim period of service. (4) The nobleman is Christ who goes into the far country (heaven) to receive a Kingdom and return.
Messiah is depicted as going, not coming. Futurists are wont to say that our Lord offered the Kingdom to Israel, and they refused it. Scripture, however, makes no disclosure of any formal offer being made, or of a formal rejection in so many words.
What Israel rejected was the King, the Divine Person, and His claims. Israel missed its national opportunity. The day the fathers would have rejoiced to see was made one of supreme folly and shame. Bereft of all spiritual discernment, the rulers of the nation thrust the King from their midst.
Their language on that occasion was intentionally unequivocal and decided, "We will not have this man to rule over us. We have no King but Caesar. We have a law and by that law he ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." Now, all this was known to the Lord. Divine prescience was a guarantee against surprise as the words of the Lord indicate. "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes." (Luke 19:42).
It was evident that the favour of God was being with-drawn and transferred elsewhere, and that the whole eschatological time-table of the Jewish expectation was being upset. Jesus Christ was central in all God's plans, and with His rejection, there could be no Kingdom. God's choice of Israel in Old Testament times was not to eternal salvation as such, but to the privilege of hearing and receiving the grace of God. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's word, "They are not all Israel who are Israel," When Messiah presented Himself, Israel's leaders rejected Him with such decided vehemence that they vacated the place of privilege and the Gentiles were summoned to the position.
The spiritual in Israel lost nothing thereby, but passed into the Christian Church, but upon national Israel the spirit of torpor fell. Their eyes were heavy, and their hearts undiscerning. Their rejection as the chosen vehicle of God's purpose was due to their self-chosen way of unbelief.
23. IS THE FATHER'S THRONE DAVID'S THRONE,
AND IS JESUS CHRIST REIGNING THEREON?
A-millenialists answer with an emphatic "Yes!" On page 92 "A new Heaven and a New Earth", we are informed, "The Father's Throne is also the throne of Christ, for He is the mediator and ruler in the Kingdom of God and reigns....till the end of the age." Having begun by admitting a false principle, there follows a whole sequence of mistakes, for as one false doctrine begets another, so this theory has spawned a whole family of errors.
From this theory, that Jesus Christ is now reigning on the Father's Throne, proceeds the monstrously absurd supposition, to wit, that the Father's Throne is David's Throne, and that Jesus Christ is now reigning over the house of Jacob, which is interpreted to be the Church. It is impossible to examine all the errors which have stemmed from this source, but a discussion of the following questions will suffice to refute the most serious.
(1) Is the Father's Eternal throne in the third heaven
(2) Is Jesus Christ occupying the Father's throne?
(3) Is Jesus Christ reigning in the sense of which Scripture requires?
(4) Is the house of Jacob the Church?
But before we proceed to discuss these questions, it is necessary to understand the nature of Christ's present ministry in glory. This is known theologically as "The Session."
(1) Jesus ascended to heaven to be acclaimed and glorified.
(2) All authority in heaven and earth is committed to Jesus Christ. (Matt. 28:18). (
3) He is seated on the right hand of God. (Hebrews 1:3).
(4) He is bestowing gifts on the Church. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
(5) He adds disciples to the Church. (Acts 2:47).
(6) As High Priest, He makes intercession for His people. (Hebrews 7:25).
(7) He succors them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).
(8) He is an advocate with the Father. (1 John 2:1).
(9) He is Head over all things to the Church. (Ephesians 1:22).
(10) He is waiting till His enemies become His footstool. (Hebrews 10:13).
(11) He is building the house of many mansions. (John 14:3).
This includes all the teaching of the New Testament on the present life of our Lord above.
A consideration of these activities will prepare our minds for a scriptural answer to these questions.
(1) Is the Father's Eternal throne in the third heaven David's throne?
That the Father's throne is not David's throne is proven by the fact that David's throne is always connected with earthly Zion. David's throne did exist in Jerusalem, and we contend that it will be established again in that locality. Zion is a poetic name for Jerusalem, daughter of Zion, and daughter of thy people being variants.
Psalm 2:6 Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. Psalm 102:16 When the Lord shall build up Zion. Psalm 110:2 Shall send the rod of his strength out of Zion. Isaiah 24:23 The Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion. Micah 4:7 The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion. Isaiah 27:13 They shall come ... and worship the Lord in the holy mount of Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:16 Everyone that is left of all the nations shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts.
These texts taken with their contexts prove three things:
1. Zion is a centre of worship for the entire world.
2. Zion is a centre of government.
3. Zion is the city where the King is enthroned.
(2) That the Father's throne in glory is not David's throne, is revealed by the fact that the throne which did exist, is the one to be restored. The Davidic house was overthrown, and the Kingdom scattered, but Acts 15:16-18 assures us, "I will build again the Tabernacle of David which is fallen down." This can only mean one thing, the restoration of the Davidic throne and rule. That this is earthly is shown by the fact that the residue of people seek the Lord, and the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called.
Micah 4:8 testifies, "And thou, O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem."
Further it is declared:
Ezekiel 37:24. David my servant shall be King over them. Ezekiel 37:25 My servant David their prince forever. Ezekiel 37:26 I will set my sanctuary in the midst. Ezekiel 37:27 My tabernacle also shall be with them.
Hosea 3:4-5 anticipates Israel's rejection. "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."
An incredulous objector asks, "Will David be raised from the dead?" Why not, we ask. Matthew 8:11 informs us that fellowship will be enjoyed in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If this be so, then the Old Testament worthies must of necessity partake in the resurrection.
Amos likewise speaks of the restoration to divine favour. Amos 9:11-15, particularly verses 11, 14 and 15, "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel. I will plant them upon their land."
(3) The Father's throne in the third heaven is Eternal. "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (Hebrews 1:8). The throne of David in contradistinction had a beginning in time, and while perpetuity is guaranteed to it, by its very nature cannot be identified with the eternal throne in the third heaven.
(4) The language employed throughout the prophetic writings denotes a literal throne and a literal kingdom, and there is not the slightest hint given that these scriptures are to be interpreted in any other way than literally.
(2) Is Jesus Christ occupying the Father's Throne?
Futurists contend that Jesus Christ is not occupying the Father's throne, but is set at the right hand of God. The Scriptures are careful to define the actual place occupied by our Lord during the present age. Twenty-one times we are told that this position is with an explicitness that renders confusion impossible.
Psalm 110. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on y right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Hebrews 1:3. When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High. Hebrews 10:12. But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.
The same fact is recorded in the following scriptures: Matthew 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Acts 2:25; 2:34; 7:55; 7:56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 1:13; 10:12; 12:2.
Incredible as it may seem, A-millenialists are not content to leave Christ where Scripture puts Him, but have resorted to all kinds of jugglery to put Him on the Father's throne. Two texts are cited by Mr. A. Hughes to prove the contention:
Revelation 3:21. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne."
It is to be observed that "My throne" and "His throne" are not identical. "My throne" is the throne of David upon which our Lord will sit in the Kingdom age: "His throne" is the Father's eternal throne. Obviously no one could yet share Christ's throne, as the resurrection has not yet taken place. Reigning with Christ presupposes resurrection and this awaits the coming of the Lord.
Further let it be noted that "in His throne" is not the equivalent of "on His throne." It is not likely after stating twenty-one times that Christ's place is at the right hand, the Holy Spirit would say something quite the reverse. After all, twenty-one times is rather overwhelming. Very few doctrines are so clearly established as this one. The throne of God is not to be conceived as a bare throne, but as the administrative centre of the vast universe with many spheres and gradations of authority and power surrounding it.
Revelation 5:6 is further cited to support Christ's occupancy of the throne. "And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain."
This passage, far from proving that our Lord is on the eternal throne proves the very reverse. The word "midst" (mesos) means among, middle, midst, occupying a position between. The passage has been rendered "Between the throne and the living creatures on the one hand and the elders on the other stood a lamb." That Christ is not the one occupying the throne is proven from what follows. In verse 7, the Lamb (Jesus Christ) takes the book out of the hand of Him (God the Father) that sitteth upon the throne. Then in verse 13, praise is offered to Him that sitteth on the throne (God the Father) and the Lamb (Jesus Christ).
No. Jesus Christ is not seated on the eternal throne at present. He is a King in rejection, and will occupy the honoured place at the right hand until God's purpose for the Church is completed, and His enemies become His footstool. (Psalm 110).
(3) Is Jesus Christ reigning in this age according
to the sense
required by Scripture?
We know of no scripture that explicitly teaches that Jesus Christ is now reigning in the peculiar sense required by the predictive word. Advocates of this theory cite Matthew 28:18 to establish this contention. "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." These words embrace everything over which rule and dominion can be exercised and remind us that the whole universe has been placed under the authority of the risen Lord. But it is interesting to observe that this stupendous claim is followed not by an attempt to control the nations of the earth or their politics, but by a programme of evangelism to the end that a people might be called out from among the nations.
It is manifest therefore that the present sphere of Messiah's authority is severely restricted to the realm of grace, and that the power which is His has not been exercised governmentally. The present chaotic state of world politics is clear evidence of this.
Another Scripture offered to prove the present reign of Christ is 1 Corinthians 15:25. "Then cometh the end ... for He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet."
The process of subduing hostile nations and governments begins with the Tribulation judgements and ends with the concluding judgements of Revelation 20. The reign of Christ as King of the whole earth begins at the second advent, continues through the millenium, and finally merges into eternity.
Romans 15:12 has been cited to prove the present rule of Christ over the Church. "There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the nations, and in Him shall the nations trust."
This, however, is one of four Scriptures cited by the Apostle Paul in Romans 15, which interpreted according to the context, relate to the rule of Christ over the nations in the millenium.
That Jesus Christ is not now reigning on the throne of David is clearly indicated by the fact that He is fulfilling the terms of that covenant, but on the contrary is occupied with the eleven ministries already indicated which have no significance to natural Israel.
That Christ is not now reigning is evidenced by the fact that His enemies on the earth will wax bolder against God and His anointed, until, according to Psalm 2, the nations will unite in an attempt to expel God and His Christ from the world. Prophecy requires that Christ shall rule from David's throne in restored Jerusalem, and exert authority over the entire earth as the righteous Dictator and rightful King.
Zechariah 14:9. The Lord shall be king over all the earth. Zechariah 14:16. "Every one that is left of all the nations ... shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts. Zechariah 14:17. "Whosoever will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King." Psalm 72:8. "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the end of the earth." Isaiah 24:23. The Lord of Hosts will reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem before His ancients gloriously.
Such geographical details demand a literal application.
It is one thing to be entitled to rule, and quite another to enter upon its actual exercise. The heir to a throne has a valid title, but title is not occupancy. Jesus Christ, risen, ascended, glorified, is Lord of all, and His title is undisputed, but during this age the power which He possesses has not yet been exerted politically.
Our Lord's present ministry beyond the vail is a most vital one. The session above is occupied with the ministries already specified, but rulership of the nations, Kingship of the earth, awaits the day of His manifestation.
(4) Is the House of Jacob the Church?
The relevant scripture at this point is Luke 1:31-33, "And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of His Father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever."
This prophecy uttered to Mary has been a thorny problem to A-millenialists. It is in harmony with the entire body of prophecy, but our friends have spiritualized the whole thing, and perverted it to mean something altogether different from what was intended. In the hands of these jugglers, the Eternal throne becomes David's throne, and the house of Jacob becomes the Church over which Christ is now alleged to reign. Let us proceed to show the utter falsity of such a notion.
The prophecy, it will be noted, contains seven "shalls". The first four "shalls" were literally fulfilled at Christ's first advent, and three "shalls" await the return of the Lord. It is utterly impossible to accept the first four events as literal, and then spiritualize the remainder.
(1) Thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a
(2) Thou shalt call his name Jesus. ) Literally
(3) He shall be great. ) fulfilled
(4) And shall be called the Son of the Highest. )
(1) The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of ) Await
His father David. ) Christ's
(2) He shall reign over the house of Jacob. ) Second
(3) Of His Kingdom there shall be no end. ) Advent
To interpret the house of Jacob as the Church is sheer topsy turvydom in exegesis, and anarchy in interpretation. The house of Jacob means literal Israel, otherwise Scripture is reduced to a farce. Names have a fixed connotation, and are used to convey a particular truth, but if names can be twisted and contorted, what is the benefit of using them? Israel has two distinct meanings in Scripture, but the name Jacob has but one, and in this connection connotes the natural descendants of the patriarch. There is a serious side to all this spiritualizing, for the Holy Spirit chose words to convey specific ideas. To recklessly disregard them, and pervert their meaning is surely a sorrow to the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, it lands us in a bewildering fog, and puts Scripture beyond the pale of intelligent interpretation.
24. WAS THE PROMISE MADE TO ABRAHAM'S SEED CONCERNING THE LAND OF PALESTINE, FULFILLED IN THE DAYS OF JOSHUA, DAVID OR SOLOMON?
A-Millenialists, and opponents of Futurism generally, contend that the land has already been possessed according to the terms of the original covenant. "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." (Genesis 15:18).
In support of this contention, Mr. Salmon (page 52) cites numerous scriptures which he alleges `smashes all of our pet theories about Israel's future occupation of the land.'
1. The Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he swore to give unto their fathers, and they possessed it and dwelt therein. (Joshua 21:43-45). The extent of territory referred to by Joshua was the land of Palestine and nothing more. Did they at this time possess the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates? Certainly not!! Furthermore, Deuteronomy gives one condition for the possession of the land. "Every place where the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours." God gave them the land, but they had to make the gift good by conquest. The book of Judges reveals how much was not theirs, even in the days of Joshua.
2. II Samuel 8 records David's victories over Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Syria and in verse 3 of this chapter we are informed that "David went to recover his border at the river Euphrates." Were these conquered lands incorporated into the Kingdom of Israel? David put these countries under tribute but temporary control is not actual ownership. Verse 11 informs us David subdued these nations but in verse 15 it is recorded "And David reigned over all Israel."
3. 1 Kings 4:21. "And Solomon reigned over all the Kingdom from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt." Again it is a question of tentative overlordship or actual possession. Verse 21 informs us that the subject nations "brought presents and served Solomon all the days of his life." While Solomon reigned over these Kingdoms, we are informed in Verse 1, "So King Solomon was King over all Israel."
Nehemiah 9:8 and Jeremiah 32:22 are further offered as proof of the A-millenial contention, but these Scriptures merely inform us that Israel according to the divine promise possessed the land of Israel and nothing more. There is certainly nothing in any of these Scriptures which "smashes our pet theories" about Israel and the land, but on the contrary there are very real reasons why Mr. Salmon's theory is wholly untenable and at war with the facts.
1. Israel never actually possessed the countries subdued in the days of David and Solomon, but in the Kingdom age, the territory according to the terms of the Abrahamic covenant will be possessed in actual fact. Ezekiel 48:1 fixes the northern boundary of "Greater Palestine" at Hamoth, 100 miles north of Damascus and the southern boundary at Kadesh, about 100 miles south of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 48:28).
It will have the Mediterranean Sea as the western boundary, and the Euphrates river as the eastern boundary, a tract of territory about 9 times longer than Palestine of Old Testament times. The entire land will be divided into 12 horizontal portions according to the 12 tribes, and thus for the first time the entire tract of territory will be possessed by Israel.
2. That the occupation of the land according to the terms of the covenant has not yet been fulfilled is proven by the fact that hundreds of years after the time of Joshua, David and Solomon, the prophets delivered their oracles concerning Israel's national future in the land.
Hosea, writing 200 years after Solomon's day, says, "I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel ... I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land."
Likewise, Isaiah writing 200 years after Solomon says, "The Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people." (Isaiah 11:11). Some, however, may be disposed to reject this testimony and declare that these prophecies were fulfilled at the return from Babylon. In that case there is the evidence from Ezekiel, a prophet of the captivity, writing some 400 years after David and Solomon, "I will bring you into the land of Palestine and I will place you in your own land. (Ezekiel 37:11-14), and again in Ezekiel 39:27-29, "When I have ....gathered them out of their enemies' lands and gathered them unto their own land."
Then there is the testimony of the post-exile prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. These were divinely instructed in the same way and but confirm the earlier prophets in their testimony.
In particular, the testimony of Zechariah is most convincing. Writing 600 years after Solomon's day, Zechariah declares, "I will save my people from the east country and the west country and I will bring them and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem." (Zechariah 8:7-8).
3. Then there is the evidence from the New Testament which by direct statement and implication envisages Israel as a nation dwelling in the land. Matt. 19:28, Acts 1:6, Acts 15:12-18, 2 Thessalonians 2-4, Revelation 11:1-8.
4. Another fact which argues convincingly against the theory is the fact that Israel is constituted a nation once more. This significant event took place in 1947, and the next year Israel took her place as a political entity, in the United Nations Organization.
This is the great fact of our time, but our friends turn a blind eye to this event, and go on parroting the same old catch cries of the past 100 years, in total disregard of the tremendous changes which have taken place in the past 40 years.
25. IS THERE MORE THAN ONE GOSPEL?
The word Gospel occurs about 100 times in the course of the New Testament. The word itself means "good news" or "tidings". Futurists teach that the content of the gospel is not the same in every case, and that it is important to distinguish between the various usages of the word "gospel", not only as to the message, but to the times when they apply.
Futurists generally recognize three Gospels, viz.: the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Grace and the Everlasting Gospel. These are not human inventions, as our opponents allege, but are the subject of revelation, which any student exercising the minimum of discernment will recognize.
1. The Gospel of Grace.
There are numerous designations for the Gospel of Grace. It is designated variously, "the Gospel of God" (Romans 1:1); "the Gospel of Christ" (Romans 1:16); "the Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24); "My Gospel" (Romans 2:16); emphasizing the fact that Paul was the particular vehicle of revelation. In contrast is "another Gospel" (Galatians 1:6), a Gospel of a different kind, the perverted "Gospel of Legalism."
2. The Everlasting Gospel. (Revelation 14:6).
That this is not the Gospel of grace, and that it does not pertain to this age, is evidenced by the following considerations:
(1) An Angel proclaims this Gospel in contrast to the present age, when the Gospel is committed to men. This in itself is evidence that before this point is reached, the present age has closed.
(2) The manner of its proclamation. It is no longer the wooing, entreating voice of grace, but an angel thunders his imperatives from the sky, delivering an ultimatum to the nations: "Fear God."
(3) The time of its announcement. It is proclaimed on the very threshold of judgement. Before the storm of wrath breaks forth, God makes a last call to rebel sinners.
(4) The content of the Everlasting Gospel. At this time, the world, infatuated with Anti-Christ, intoxicated by idolatry, with pandemonium reigning over the earth and held in the grip of a vast system of Satanic wickedness will be stunned as it hears God thundering forth His rebuke and warning from the skies. i. Fear God -- to a world which has lost all sense of God's sovereignty. ii. Glorify God -- to a world busy glorifying the superman. iii. Worship God as Creator -- to a world adoring a creature, Satan's counterfeit Christ. iv. Fear God, for the hour of judgement has arrived, the tyranny of Anti-Christ will be broken, and the night of Tribulation will soon end. Obviously this is not the Gospel of grace, and no amount of argument can make it such, but it will be "good news to many." God has not abandoned the world in its insanity; He has still got His hand on the helm, and however dark the night, the millenial dawn will soon break.
3. The Gospel of the Kingdom.
This is the good news that God purposes to set up a Kingdom on the earth over which Messiah will reign. This was the burden of the Old Testament prophets, including John the Baptist. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (Matthew 11:13). John the Baptist partook of the same Messianic aspirations as did Jeremiah and Isaiah. He had in mind just what every Jew was expecting, an earthly Kingdom ushered in by the advent of Messiah. That John the Baptist preached the Gospel of Grace is a groundless assumption. Seeing that the Church was a mystery not revealed until after the crucifixion, John in that case would be ignorant both of the coming of the Church, and its distinctive message.
A-Millenialists have given an exaggerated emphasis to the words of John the Baptist, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." From this it is concluded that John preached the Gospel of Grace.
This contention, however, is contrary to Luke 16:16 which informs us that "the law and the prophets were until John," and that "grace and truth," according to John 1:17, "came by Jesus Christ," not John. What the Jewish mind was in the days of John the Baptist is revealed by the utterance of Mary. The birth of the Messiah was evidence to Mary that God had helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy.
When we enquire what this mercy was, we discover that it was the promise spoken of by our Father, to Abraham and his seed forever. If the Abrahamic covenant is abrogated with modern theorists, it was not so with Mary.
Then, too, the sentiments expressed by the disciples on the road to Emmaus reflect the national hopes and aspirations of Israel, "We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel." (Luke 24:21).
When we enquire the nature of this redemption, we discover that it is nothing less than the Kingdom envisaged by the prophets.
Did these disciples, nurtured in the national ideology of Israel, have in mind the Gospel of Grace? Concerning the death of Christ and the resurrection, they were in total darkness, and we have no reason to believe that the rest of the nation were any better informed. The good news of the kingdom was readily intelligible to them, but of the things of grace they were wholly uninformed, and yet we are asked to believe that the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Gospel of grace are one and the same.
Though John the Baptist appears in the New Testament, he rightly belongs to the Old Testament order, and his ministry was a continuation of the Old Testament economy. That John the Baptist's ministry was bound up with the national hope of Israel is proven by the fact that his ministry is a fulfilment of Isaiah 40:3. Furthermore, when John in prison raised the query, "Art thou He that should come?", Jesus answered John in a way that was intelligible to him by giving him Kingdom signs. Our Lord's teaching on the Kingdom reveals a duality of thought, a double aspect. The immediate aspect -- the Kingdom was among his hearers (in the sense that the King was present), or as others prefer to think, the Kingdom was present in the hearts of believers. Then there was the future aspect: the Kingdom was yet to come, thus the present and future aspects of the Kingdom were blended in a remarkable way. Our Lord anticipated the coming of the glorious Kingdom on the one hand, and on the other presaged the Kingdom in mystery form in the hearts of men here and now.
Thus there are at least three Gospels, differing vastly as to content and the time of application. To assume that these designations are all the same is to ignore distinctions clearly given and to destroy the peculiar truth these distinctions are intended to convey to us.
26. DOES FUTURISM REQUIRE ANOTHER DAY OF SALVATION?
A chapter in Mr. Salmon's book is entitled, "How Futurism
requires another day of salvation."
Mr. Hughes likewise raised the question (page 205), "Will any be saved after the Lord comes?"
The point at issue is the extension of the offer of Salvation beyond the Lord's return. Before venturing to discuss the matter, it is necessary to define what exactly is in the minds of the contending parties, for after all the "coming of the Lord" is an expression which covers an enormous amount of haziness in the popular mind.
A-millenialists and opponents of Futurism generally, see the coming of the Lord as one event. It is cataclysmic and final. With that event, the drama of history closes, and every living soul will pass either to heaven or hell.
Futurists teach that there will be the Rapture, the Tribulation, the coming of the Lord in judgement, and then the thousand year reign.
The vital question in this issue in whether the Scriptures furnish clear evidence of the existence of saved persons after the Rapture, and whether there is salvation subsequent to the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, popularly known as the Revelation.
The case for Futurism, in the first instance, rests upon particular Scriptures which relate to three specific groups mentioned in connection with the Tribulation, while proof of the latter contention is drawn mainly from the Old Testament prophecies which portray saved persons in the Kingdom age.
First, we shall consider the testimony of Scripture relative to the saved groups seen after the Church has been raptured to glory.
Futurists teach that the letters to the seven Churches (Revelation, chapter 2 and 3), represent the spiritual history of the "Pilgrim Church" from Pentecost to the Rapture. With the close of chapter 3, the Church is seen no more on the earth, but in chapters 4 and 5, the Church is seen before the throne in heaven under the figure of the four and twenty elders. The Great Tribulation begins with the advent of the white horse and its rider. (Rev. 6:2). The three particular groups now under consideration are seen subsequent to the last-named event.
"And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." (Revelation 6:9-11).
Who are the martyr company under the altar? Commentators generally have been sore perplexed and puzzled as to their identity. Popular belief identified them with the martyrs of former ages, but if this were true they would not be seen as a separate class but would have been part of the Church represented by the four and twenty elders already seen in glory ere this point of time is reached.
These martyrs pertain to a particular period, and have about them certain distinguishing qualities. They are martyrs by reason of the cause for which they died, being slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Our Lord warned that in the Tribulation such would be the case. "Then shall they deliver you up and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my Name's sake." (Matt. 24:9).
Some have supposed by reason of the exclamation, "How long, O Lord" (a thoroughly Jewish expression), that this company represents Jewish martyrs; others, however, prefer to identify them with the blood-washed multitude of Revelation 7:9-17. However, we are not concerned here to identify this martyr company, but rather to take cognisance that such a company exists subsequent to the Rapture.
The second group of saved persons seen in relation to the Tribulation is recorded in Revelation 7:3-4.
"Hurt not the earth, neither the say, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
"And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."
Who are the 144,000 sealed ones? Commentators have been greatly perplexed, and have taken the easiest way out of the difficulty by applying it to the Church.
Religious freaks and advent sects throughout the ages have been greatly fascinated by this group, and time and again have regarded themselves as this select company (until of course their number exceeded 144,000). There is no difficulty whatsoever in this passage of Scripture except such as is imported into it. Let the reader keep himself to the plain meaning of the words, and all confusion will be at an end.
The 144,000 represent the "Remnant of Israel" called and sealed. The twelve tribes, all named here, are to be accepted according to their usual connotation, likewise the 144,000 is to be accepted literally.
An objector raises the query, where are the twelve tribes today? We reply that the twelve tribes are found among the eleven million Jews scattered over the face of the earth. Is it too much to suppose that God knows every Israelite and his tribal identity? All genealogical records have perished long ago, but divine omniscience knows the tribal descents of each one, and at the appointed time God will select this company for special service. They are hand-picked men, divinely sealed, an official act which links them with divine administration in the extraordinary days of their witness.
The suggestion of Mr. Salmon (Page 35), that the 144,000 were those saved between the ascension of the Lord and the destruction of Jerusalem is surely a curious invention born of desperation. We are sure that the multitudes saved in that period belonged to the "one body," and would not be attached to one of the two distinct companies referred to in the seventh chapter of Revelation. Further, this group is not to be identified with the multitude of Gentiles mentioned in verses 9-17.
The third group of saved persons related to the Tribulation is seen in Revelation 7:9-17. Who is this company before the throne clothed in white robes and with palms in their hands? A greater medley of opinions and speculations could scarcely be found on any question of Scripture. Generally this passage of Scripture has been applied to the redeemed Church in glory, but this view is open to serious objections:-
(1) The Church represented by the four and twenty elders
(Rev. 4:4) is already a completed company ere this time.
(2) The elders have crowns and thrones, the white-robed multitudes have neither.
(3) The Church represented by the four and twenty elders is in heaven before the Tribulation; the palm-bearing multitude comes out of "the tribulation, the great one."
(4) That this company is not the Church is proven by John's mental questionings as to who they were. If this company represented the Church in glory, why John's uncertainty as to their identity? Who are they? Whence come they? It is not the Church company that excited John's curiosity. John himself belonged to the Church company and had already identified them, but his perplexity has reference to this particular group, this supplementary body. "And he said unto me, these are they which came out of great tribulation (the tribulation, the great one), and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
There can be no doubt then, as to the identity of this company, and we are driven by the force of Scripture to draw the following conclusions:-
(1) They represent a redeemed company, a distinct group of Gentile sinners who heard the final testimony and found salvation in Jesus Christ. (2) They represent a company living on the earth during the "Great Tribulation," and came out of it before its awful climax. (3) They are a company of people unprepared and left behind when the Rapture took place, hence John's astonishment at seeing such a company and the special explanation.
The conclusions we have drawn concerning this company are the results of a plain, literal interpretation, a conclusion naturally suggested without the least straining of a single word.
The theory advocated by A-millenialists that the entire Christian age represents the Tribulation out of which the Church represented by this group has come, is surely a most desperate hypothesis invented to extricate theorists from their dilemma. It is one thing to decry the Futurist interpretation, but quite another matter to provide something equally satisfying in its place, and this, we contend, dissentients are unable to do.
Opponents of the Futurist interpretation cite 2 Corinthians 6:2 as proof that there can be no extension of salvation beyond this present age. "Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." It is interesting to observe that the context where these words are found is primarily a warning to Christians not to misuse their opportunities. Christians so richly blessed are enjoined to take heed to their stewardship lest they "receive the grace of God in vain." The words, however, are also a warning to unbelievers lest the overtures of grace go unheeded.
This Scripture could apply to any age. Noah, a preacher of righteousness, could have used it with equal force. The words of this Scripture merely emphasize that there is salvation to be had here and now.
The historic judgements of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are further offered as proof that there is no hope of salvation beyond the return of the Lord, and that the coming of the Lord brings history to its close. (Luke 17:26-29). But there are several facts which our friends have sadly overlooked. While the impenitent in the days of Noah were overwhelmed by judgement, it must not be forgotten that eight souls were saved through it to live in a new age. Likewise, in the case of Sodom, three souls were saved from it and lived after the event.
Both judgements are historic types which presage the great and terrible day of the Lord, and our Lord solemnly warned that history will repeat itself. While advent judgements will overwhelm rebel sinners, it is also abundantly clear that multitudes will survive these judgements and enter the millenial age.
A-millenialists contend that the coming of the Lord writes finish to human history, but this is incorrect. From the great number of Scriptures which plainly contradict this contention, we select two, viz.: Isaiah 61 and Zechariah 14.
Isaiah 61 reveals three distinct movements:
1. Verse 1 and the former part of verse 2, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" refers to the ministry of Christ and the Gospel witness in the day of grace generally. 2. The latter part of verse 2, "the day of vengeance of our God," represents the fiery judgements in the day of Jehovah's manifestation. 3. That the "day of vengeance" does not conclude human history is proven by what follows in verses 3-11, which speak of the restoration of Palestine and the revival of the Jewish nation.
"And they shall build the old wastes, and they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."
If the day of vengeance brings the human drama to an abrupt ending, then these verses are strangely incongruous and out of place.
Advent judgements are not the finalities of the human drama, but represent a necessary purgation of the earth, and its wickedness, preparatory to millenial days. But though our Lord's rule will be sovereign and undisputed, it will not be acceptable to all. Righteousness will be enthroned, but the distinctions between the righteous and the unrighteous will still persist. Many will bow the knee but not the heart. Psalm 18 in the R.V. reads, "Strangers shall come cringing to me." The same verse is rendered in the R.V. margin "shall yield feigned obedience."
Psalm 110 affirms of Jesus Christ: "Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." Isaiah 65:20 informs us that the sinner being 100 year old shall be accursed. Evil during the millenium will be driven underground, it will be dormant, not dead, and will burst forth into the final apostasy of Revelation 20:8-9.
Will the millenium be a time of salvation? Will there be opportunity for salvation in the kingdom age? Certainly, that is, if language means anything.
The millenium will begin with the salvation of the entire Jewish nation living in that day. Romans 11:26 assures us on this point, "And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written, there shall come out of Zion, the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." The kingdom age will be ushered in with the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit the world has ever seen. The prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28-32) misrepresented, misapplied and mutilated by revivalists generally, will have its complete fulfilment at this time.
Joel 2:32 is particularly significant, "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered."
Zechariah 8:20-23 represents Gentiles earnestly seeking the Lord, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: It shall yet come to pass that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
Isaiah 11:10 represents the Gentiles seeking the Lord.
All this evidence contradicts the theories of Mr. Hughes and Mr. Salmon, that advent judgements conclude history, and that there is no salvation to be had on earth following these events.
A second Scripture which entirely overthrows the A-millenial teaching that the coming of the Lord ends human history, and beyond which there is no hope of salvation, is Zechariah 14.
The chapter is chronological throughout.
In verses 1 and 2, the travail of Jerusalem is depicted. Immediately following this in verse 3 and 4, the coming of Jehovah is portrayed. "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives."
According to the A-millenial theory, the human race has no history beyond this event, but no, the earth is still there; Jerusalem is still a city. Nations are going up annually to worship the Lord, the feast of Tabernacles is a part of the prescribed ritual, rain is withheld as a disciplinary act against recalcitrant nations. The nation of Israel still abides, there are horses with bells on them, there is sacrifice, and there is the house (temple) of the Lord.
These facts simply annihilate all theories that make the coming of the Lord the final act of history, and limit salvation to this present age. The difficulties of competing theories and dissenting schools of thought are largely due to the rejection of the dual nature of the coming of the Lord, and their refusal to admit the time and place of the Rapture as an event anterior to the "Day of Wrath," and their repudiation of the millenial order.
27. IS FUTURISM A JESUIT INVENTION?
The charge that Futurism is an invention of Ribera, a Jesuit Priest, is constantly rehashed and thrown at Futurists. As an argument it is useless, but it has great propaganda value in scaring away simple souls.
On page 12 of Mr. Salmon's booklet we read concerning particular aspects of the Futuristic teaching.
"Only a little careful research into historical writings reveals the astonishing discovery that it is the invention of a Jesuit named Ribera in the 16th century," and then follows the quotation from another writer, "In the year 1585 Ribera founded the Futurist system of interpretation of prophecy."
Likewise Mr. Hughes (page 148) repeats the same charge "the originators of the theory were R. Bellarmine and F. Ribera, Jesuit Priests who promulgated it during 1576-89."
We know that Ribera wrote an "apocalyptic commentary" in 1585, but we have not been able to obtain a copy and for this reason we are dependent on a work by the Rev. E.B. Elliott, "Horae Apocalyptae" Vol. 4, page 466-468.
In the chapter on "Romish Apocalyptic Expositors of the Era and Century of the Reformation," two names are mentioned, Ribera and Alcasar. Both books were called into being, to meet the challenge offered by the reformers, that Rome was the Babylon of the Apocalypse and the Pope was Anti-Christ.
"Two Jesuits took up the gauntlet and published their respective but quite contrary opinions on the apocalyptic subject. The one, Ribera, published an apocalyptic commentary which was on the grand points of Babylon and Anti-Christ which we now call the futurist scheme.
"Alcasar, also a Jesuit, whose scheme was in main points what we now designate as that of the Praeterists. Either suited the object of the writers equally well, viz., that of setting aside all application of the prophecy of Anti-Christ from the existing church of Rome.
"The one, Alcasar, making the prophecies stop short of Papal Rome, the other making it overleap altogether the interval of time which had elapsed since the prophecy was given, and plunge in its picture of Anti-Christ, in yet a distant future just before the consummation." (Page 465.)
The teaching of Ribera as presented by the Rev. E.B. Elliott is as follows:
1. The first seal, the white horse and its rider signifies Gospel of the Apostolic era. Ironically, Mr. salmon and Ribera are agreed exactly on this point.
2. The locusts of chapter 9, Ribera interprets as invading armies with their Kings leading them against the Church, while under the sixth trumpet four evil angels are bound at Christ's first coming and now let loose to hurt men. On the 5th seal, the souls under the altar, Ribera comments, "It has respect to the ancient custom of Christians laying up relics of saints under the altar."
All these things are far removed from present-day Futurism as likewise is the interpretation of Chapter 11 where the reference to the temple and the city is taken by Ribera to symbolize the Church. In chapter 12, Ribera taught that the woman is the Church suffering 3-1/2 years before Anti-Christ's rule, and in verse 14 he sees the Church in the wilderness for 3-1/2 years. In both cases Futurism teaches that the woman is Israel.
The Beast and his great city, Babylon (Chapter 13 and Chapter 17), are the main points in his system. He admits that Rev. 17 is Papal Rome and agrees that the 10 kings overthrow Rome. While admitting that Rome will be destroyed, he maintains that the Papacy will not be destroyed but will set up its seat of authority elsewhere.
The Beast of Rev. 17 Ribera teaches is the devil reigning, but in Rev. 11 it is Anti-Christ, then when it comes to Rev. 19 the Beast is Anti-Christ.
Concerning the millenium, Ribera, says Elliott, follows Augustine. "It is (the millenium) the whole time from Christ's resurrection to Anti-Christ's kingdom."
This is the identical position taken by Messrs. Hughes and Salmon, that the millenium runs its course between the two advents of Christ.
What is the conclusion to be drawn from these facts?
1. The futuristic aspects of Ribera's system relates to two items, Anti-Christ and Babylon, and by putting these facts in the future Rome was relieved of all suspicion.
2. Though Ribera places the prophecies relative to Babylon and Anti-Christ in the future, his interpretation of the details are utterly alien to present-day Futurism.
3. The main body of Ribera's teaching bears no relation to present-day Futurism, but in many instances is a contradiction of it, and is more in harmony with aspects of the Historical and A-millenial interpretations.
4. The claim of modern writers, that Ribera founded the Futurist interpretation, is proven to be false on the ground that earlier writers displayed a stronger futuristic outlook. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, to name a few.
The latter is credited with being the author of the chronological separation of the last week of Daniel from the rest.
A vital question arises out of the consideration of these facts. Seeing that earlier writers have better credentials than Ribera, why has this particular man been singled out and credited with being the founder of present-day Futurism?
Our opponents in their zeal to vilify the doctrine and cover it with stigma, have found this to be a most effective piece of propaganda, for if it could be established that a Jesuit invented the scheme, Protestants would have none of it.
The Ribera argument, as our opponents will learn to their sorrow, is a two-edged sword which can be wielded only with injury to the user, for the system of Ribera has much more in common with the systems advocated by Messrs. Hughes and Salmon than Futurism.
We cannot forbear to leave this issue without giving consideration to another line of approach which is both simple and effective.
The argument assumes the form of a testimony at this point. The writer came to accept the Futurist interpretation years before ever hearing of Ribera, and thousands must have done likewise. As a student, my mind was in a state of utter confusion on matters of eschatology, and everything in this regard was a tangled issue indeed. Finally, putting aside all books, commentaries, etc., and beginning at the book of Daniel, I went through to the Revelation, accepting the scriptures at their face value, and emerged as a Futurist. It was just as simple as that, and thousands today arrive at an identical position in the same way.
Since our friends have raised the question of genealogy, it might be enlightening at this point to enquire into the family tree of A-millenialism. Dr. Chafer of Dallas, Texas writes -- "This strange theory, A-millenialism, the origin of which is traced to the Romish notion that the Church is the kingdom contends that whatever millenium there may be, is experienced in this present age." Dr. B.B. Warfield embraced the Romish idea common to all who defend the A-millenial theory, which proposes to place all Revelation from Chapters 6-20 in the period of the Church age. In sheer imagination this method surpasses Russellism, Eddyism and Seventh Day Adventism.
28. IS THIS THE LAST AGE?
A-millenialists affirm that it is. Mr. Hughes (page 162) asserts:
"The last period in the world's history began with the ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit. And being the last period, its end is not only the end of time but the beginning of a new order that is eternal and perfect."
Numerous texts are quoted to prove the contention.
1. Acts 2:16-17. Peter is seeking to explain the phenomena of Pentecost quoted the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29. "It shall come to pass in the last days that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh."
There are ver obvious reasons why Pentecost could not be the complete fulfilment of Joel 2.
i. In the Day of the Lord, the Holy Spirit falls on all flesh but at Pentecost His power was restricted to but a few. ii. The outpouring of the Spirit in Joel is preceded by certain events:
1. The Day of the Lord. v.1-2. 2. The invading army from the north. v. 3-11. 3. The repentance of the Jewish remnant. v.12-17. 4. God acknowledges His people again. v. 18 5. The outpouring of the Spirit. v.28,29. 6. Physical signs and portents accompany the event, the darkened sun, the moon turned into blood and all the rest of the convincing phenomena that accompanies the advent. v.30-31.
To select one of the many events (the effusion of the Spirit) from the number mentioned in Joel, and declare that these are the last days because Pentecost is the fulfilment of Joel is quite misleading.
The "afterward" of Joel 2:28 and the "last days" of Acts 2:16 refer to the final days with which this age closes, and in no wise supports the theory that this age is the last age of human history.
2. I Peter 1:20. "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times for you." (R.V. at the end of the ages.) The Westminster commentary has this comment. "The nearest parallel is I Corinthians 10:11, "the end of the ages." It differs from Matt. 13:39,40,49; 24:3, "the consummation of the age." While that speaks of the completion of a single age, this speaks of Christ's coming as the crown of a series of dispensations" Thus at the end of the ages beginning with Adam, Christ was manifested.
3. I Cor. 10:11. "Upon whom the ends of the worlds have come." (R.V. ends of the ages). The present age is the final age of man's day and government.
4. 2 Peter 3:3. "There shall come in the last days scoffers." The expression "last days" does not refer to the Christian age as a whole but to the last days of this period.
5. II Timothy 3:1. "This know that in the last days perilous times shall come." The time designated the "last days" has specific reference to the closing days of this age.
6. Hebrews 1:2. "Hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son." (R.V. at the end of these days.) That is at the end of Old Testament times came the revelation by the Son.
7. Hebrews 9:26. "Now once at the end of the world." (R.V. consummation or end of the ages.) The death of Christ took place at the end of the preparatory ages.
8. In Matthew 13:39, 24:3, 28:20, the expression "the end of the world" is used in the Authorized Version. This is misleading, and a wrong impression is thereby given. In all cases it should read "consummation" or end of the age, something entirely different.
9. Matthew 24:14. "Then shall the end come." It is quite unwarranted to assume that "the end" here refers to the end of the world, but rather to the end of this particular age. We submit then what is plainly evident to any unbiased mind, that these Scriptures, whatever else they teach, give no support to the idea that the present age is the last of human history.
A-millenialists teach that there are but two ages, the present age and the Eternal state. Thus any thought of a millenium is ruled out entirely. This theory is inferred from a certain few passages of Scripture, which refer in particular to two ages.
Ephesians 1:21. "This age and that which is to come." Luke 20:34-35. "This age and that age." Matt. 12:32. "This age --- the age to come." Mark 10:30. "This time and the age to come."
These Scriptures plainly refer to two ages, but the question arises which ages do they designate? A-millenialists take these Scriptures to apply to the present age and the eternal age, but this meaning has been imported into the text for very obvious reasons. Who can know what was in the mind of the writer? The two ages could as well apply to the present age and the millenial age, and that this is the correct interpretation is shown by the fact that the greater preponderance of Scriptures speak of a plurality of ages.
Ephesians 2:7, "In the coming ages." Jude 25, "Unto all ages." Ephesians 3:21, "Throughout all ages." (All the generations of the ages of the ages. R.V.) 1 Timothy 1:17, "Unto the ages of the ages." Philippians 4:20. "Unto the ages of the ages." 2 Timothy 4:18, "Unto the ages of the ages." Hebrews 1:2, "The ages."
Now it is quite obvious from these Scriptures that there are many ages comprehending the end of time and the eternal state, and that A-millenialists are convicted of error in teaching that this age is the final age of history. The testimony of Revelation is surely decisive at this point. The order of the closing chapters of the Revelation are clearly chronological.
1. Revelation 19 is the classic with reference to the coming of Christ and the "Great and Terrible Day of the Lord." This day abruptly terminates man's day and its works.
2. Revelation 20 sets forth the binding of Satan and the duration of the Millenial order.
3. Revelation 21:22 introduces us to the first of the Eternal ages, the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Almost the same order is observed in the closing chapters of Isaiah. (61-65.)
1. Isaiah 61:1 and the former part of verse
2 sets forth the "Day of Grace" generally. 2. Isaiah 61:2 sets forth the day of vengeance.
3. Isaiah 61:3-11; 62. The national revival of Israel is recorded and the reign of the Messiah. 4. Isaiah 65:17. The New Heaven and the New Earth.
Furthermore, Scripture reveals the end of three distinct periods:
1. Once at the end of the ages (Hebrews 9:26). The ages
referred to here are of course the ages before the cross, which were preparatory
2. "Lo I am with you even unto the end of the age!" "The harvest is the end of the age." "What shall the sign of Thy coming and the end of the age?"
3. Then cometh the end 1 Corinthians 15:24 or literally "then the end." The "end" referred to here cannot come until the enemies of God are subjugated and evil finally disposed of. In the millenium, Jesus Christ will subdue all things unto Himself and then finally dispose of evil by the concluding judgement of Revelation 20:10, 15 and only then can "the end" come.
Thus the Scriptures clearly indicate a succession of ages extending on to the Eternal state. Two of these ages are known to us as the "Millenium" and the "New Heaven and New Earth," the former ends the present temporal state and the latter is the beginning of the Eternal ages.
29. MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS.
DOES FUTURIST TEACHING IMPLY THAT THE GOSPEL IS A FAILURE OR THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS FAILED TO ACHIEVE HIS PURPOSE?
Matthew 16:18 is often cited to counter Futurist teaching. "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (the Church). This however, is nothing more than a divine guarantee that evil will not be permitted to destroy the Church or the Gospel witness. When the age of grace ends, it will do so by divine decree, and not by pressure from evil. Neither the Gospel nor the Holy Spirit has failed. If world redemption were God's plan in this age, then it has failed; if social regeneration were God's purpose for this age, then it has misfired.
THE KINGDOM WITHIN
"The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation (careful watching) ... The Kingdom of God is within you (entos, among you). (Luke 17:20-21.)
This has been offered as proof that a visible Kingdom is not to be expected. The reference however, is to the present age, and the silent working of the Spirit of God within the hearts of men. The Kingdom was present in the hearts of the believers of Christ's day, and ever since a spiritual reality in Christian lives.
THE KINGDOM NOT MEAT AND DRINK.
"For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness...and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17).
This is offered to prove that the Kingdom will not be visible and earthly. The context is quite irrelevant to the millenium, and deals with the conscience of the weaker brother in questions of meats and drinks. Luke 22:29-30, however, indicates that there will be eating and drinking in the Kingdom.
FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM. (1 Corinthians 15:50)
This is cited to prove that nations and individuals cannot be part of the future order of the Kingdom. The context, however, deals with believers and their resurrection to Eternal life, and has no relevance to terms of entrance into the Kingdom.
MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. (John 18:36).
This has been offered to show that a Kingdom such as Futurists anticipate cannot be set up in this world. A literal rendering of the text however, removes any difficulty. My kingdom is not (ek, out) of this world. Likewise in John 8:23, "I am not (ek, out) of this world." Earthly kingdoms are of this world, built on force, lust and greed. My Kingdom is of a different nature, and has a heavenly origin.
DID THE APOSTLE PAUL MAKE A MISTAKE IN 1 THESSALONIANS?
In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle represents the coming of Christ as imminent, but in 2 Thessalonians, two events, the rebellion and the appearance of the Man of Sin are said to precede the advent.
The advent it is alleged, is no longer considered to be imminent, but pushed away into the uncertain future. Thus the Apostle is alleged to have changed his mind as his thoughts developed and matured, and corrected himself in 2 Thessalonians, all of which strikes a death blow at inspiration. No, the Apostle made no mistake, neither does 2 Thessalonians represent maturer thoughts.
Both epistles deal with the advent of Christ, but with totally different aspects of the event. The theme of 1 Thessalonians is the Rapture, Christ coming unexpectedly for the saints, hence the sense of imminency. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul deals with the Day of the Lord. These events are quite distinct as to time, and each is the subject of special revelation. The Rapture, by its very nature, must always appear imminent, though not immediate, whereas the Day of the Lord cannot come until certain developments take place.
THE TWO FIG TREES
It is usual with Futurists to link together the cursed fig tree (Matthew 21:19) and the budding fig tree (Luke 21:29030), as symbols of Israel's temporary rejection and barrenness and national revival.
Mr. Salmon, page 56, argues that this is impossible, because our Lord said of the cursed fig tree "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth forever." This sounds quite convincing until we realize that "forever" can mean a period, an age, and Young in his concordance thus defines it.
How meticulous and exact was the prophecy, for in this present age Israel has been barren and awaits divine quickening.
THE PARABLE OF THE TARES.
Matthew 13:30 is cited as disproving that the Church is taken out before the advent judgements fall on the wicked. "Gather ye together first the tares and bind them into bundles, and burn them. but gather the wheat into my barn."
The Church or the rapture are not in view here. It is a national scene; the field is the world. At the Rapture there is only one harvest, the righteous, but in the parable of the Tares, there are two harvests. At the Rapture there is the voice of the Archangel, but no angels take part in that event, but in the advent judgements the angels take out of the Kingdom all things that offend, the wicked are consigned to judgement, the righteous pass into the millenial Kingdom. Deception and counterfeit are the Devil's methods.
WHO REIGNS IN THE MILLENIUM?
Revelation 20:4 has been understood by many to indicate that only the Tribulation Martyrs (those who have not received the mark of the Beast) are said to reign in the thousand years. It is evident that two groups are in view. (1) "I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgement was given unto them." This group is the Church already raptured. (Revelation 4 and 5). (2) The second group is the Tribulation Martyrs. That the Church reigns with Christ is indicated by numerous Scriptures. Revelation 5:10, Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30, Revelation 3:21, 2:26.
FUTURISM AND THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.
Time is the impartial tester of all things. Particularly is this true of human theories. What then is the judgement of time on the doctrines of Futurism?
Time is on the side of Futurism, and its relentless unfoldings serve only to vindicate the correctness of its doctrines.
(1) The Jewish Question.
Futurists envisage the revival of the Jewish nation, and the restoration of Palestine in preparation for the return of Christ and the drama of the end time. Developments in this field are so amazing that comment is unnecessary.
(2) Futurists teach the emergence of an ecclesiastical federation, the coming of the super world Church, the union of apostate Christendom and its final destruction (Revelation 17). What of the ecumenical movement? The return to ritual, the alarming landslide to Rome, the repudiation of reformation principles which is accelerating before our eyes?
(3) Futurists have consistently taught the departure from the historic Christian faith and the apostasy of the end time. For forty years, modernism has swept like a scourge through Protestantism, turning colleges into hotbeds of atheism, raising up clerical atheists, thereby destroying the evangelical heart of the Protestant witness.
(4) Futurists teach that the Roman Empire which passed off the stage of time will be revived in the form of ten Kingdoms. Is Europe moving in this direction? The "United States of Europe" is coming to be accepted as the only solution to Europe's troubles.
(5) Futurists teach that Russia leading the Great Northern Confederacy will invade Palestine at the end time. Gog will meet God. Are there any signs that Russia is preparing for that fateful meeting? (Ezekiel 38 and 39).
(6) Other aspects of Futurism include the return of the world to Sodom and antediluvian conditions (Luke 17:26), the increase of lawlessness (2 Timothy 3:1-5), the increase of travel and knowledge (Daniel 12:4), national distress and perplexity (Luke 21:28-38), the preaching of peace and the preparation for war (Matthew 24:6-7).
Time is vindicating Futurism, and giving its tacit approval to the principle of literal interpretation.
IS THE DOCTRINE OF THE MILLENIUM MATERIALISTIC?
To this question anti-millerians reply with an emphatic "yes". According to their teaching the conception of a millenium is "materialistic to the core" and represents a retrocession from the spirituality of the Church age. To this indictment, we reply that there has never been an age where spirituality and worship have not been closely related to the material. Even the church age which our friends hold up as the purest example of spirituality is far from being independent of material forms, yea, the material is woven throughout the entire texture of the Christian system.
Thus, our Lord accomplished our redemption in a physical body, was nailed to a wooden cross, and buried in a grave. He sat at a table, and made bread and wine the emblems of memorial. The great commission enjoins that believers be baptized in a physical element. Furthermore, the whole life of the church touches the material at every turn. Why, then, should those who hold to contrary beliefs object to a temple, a throne and a priesthood in the millenium?
All through history God's power has been manifested through the material, and the penetration of the Spirit through physical forms is everywhere seen.
The Old Testament abounds with allusions to the spirituality of the Kingdom. National righteousness will far exceed anything we have seen in this "present evil age." Zechariah assures us that even upon the bells of the horses shall be "holiness unto the Lord." Micah informs us that all the people shall walk every one in the name of the Lord our God forever, while Isaiah 11:9 presents a state hitherto unknown, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
IS THERE TO BE A JUDGEMENT OF THE NATIONS AT CHRIST'S RETURN?
Futurists accept Matthew 25:31-46 as a literal judgement involving the nations of the earth at the end time.
A-millenialists have found this a most obstinate portion of Scripture. Accepted literally, it fairly rocks the whole A-millenial invention, hence they have taken the easiest way out and identified it with the Judgement of the Great White Throne. (Rev. 20).
This, however, is quite erroneous and misleading as the following distinctions indicate:
The Judgement of the Nations The Great White Throne.
(1) Takes place on earth. Takes place when earth and heaven have fled away. Joel 3:11-12, Joel 3:2 Revelation 20:11
(2) Takes place when the Son of Man cometh in Takes place at the very end of human history. in His glory (Pre-millenial). (Post -millenial).
(3) Here are nations only. The Greek word Here only resurrected persons. "ethnos" - nation, used 158 times in the N.T., but never once applied to the dead or resurrected.
(4) No books are opened. Books are opened.
(5) Three classes - the Sheep, the Goats, my Only one class - the lost. Brethren.
(6) Some are accounted righteous. None are judged righteous.
(7) Christ appears as King (twice mentioned) Jesus Christ appears as Judge.
The following Scriptures indicate that the nations will assemble at Jerusalem: Joel 3:2; 3:11-12; Zephaniah 3:8; Zechariah 14:2; Rev. 16:13-14; Matthew 25.
The "sheep" are the approved nations which pass into the Millenium, "the goats" are the disapproved, while "my brethren" doubtless represents the Jewish remnant. That the Jews were the brethren of Christ is indicated by Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. The basis of the judgement is the attitude to Israel in a preliminary period. Compare Genesis 12:1-3 with Matthew 25:31-46.
THE NATURE OF THE MILLENIUM.
The vision of an ideal state has fascinated and intrigued the minds of men in all ages. Poets and philosophers have delighted to sketch new commonwealths and ideal societies.
Dissatisfied with their immediate conditions they have sought escape into the future.
Plato is said to have been the first to attempt to reshape society according to the pattern of his dreams, but his "Republic", a blueprint for a better world, got no further than being an entertaining theory.
Sir Thomas More is remembered for his "Utopia," wherein he pictured idyllic conditions based on equality and brotherhood.
Sir Francis Bacon sought escape from the chronic ills of society in a "New Atlantis."
In a work called "Oceana" Harrington sketched an ideal republic for England and a contemporary, Campanella, an Italian, wrote the "City of the Sun." for which he was tortured and imprisoned for twenty-seven years.
Bishop Joseph Hall wrote the "Discovery of a New World," a satire on the condition of English Society in his day, while William Penn outlined in the "Holy Experiment" a kingdom of hope.
But all these Utopias were either left to perish on the heights of rhetoric or died before the stern, hard facts of life.
The "Manifesto," published by Marx and Engles, marked a new beginning in social experiment. The day of pipe-dreams was over and, today, we witness the most ruthless social experiment in human history. Communism has its own eschatology complete with its prophets and millenium. Its devotees never weary of depicting the golden age, a classless society, a push-button paradise of mechanical delights. This is quite easily the most attractive tenet of the Marxist creed.
The "Internationale" breathes this hope in every line:
"Arise ye prisoners of starvation! Arise ye wretched of the earth! For Justice renders condemnation; A better world's in birth."
No ideal fascinates the underprivileged like this, and with it the lords of the Kremlin take captive the thoughtless masses.
Others look to the United Nations to redeem the world, and see in collective security the basis of a new world-order.
Many Church people, quite ignorant of God's prophetic plan, believe that the Kingdom will come through the preaching of the Gospel and the dissemination of Christian principles.
The long, sad record of human failure, however, should convince us once and for all, that we can hope for nothing from man. Man's rule has been a colossal failure in every age. Pride, lust, jealousy, ambition, greed has marred his best efforts and turned his fairest dreams into nightmares.
Secretly conscious of his own failure and bewilderment, man cannot lead the world to the millenium.
"I don't know where I am going, but that's where I am leading you," sums up man's hopes outside the wisdom of God's revelation.
Social theorists, ancient and modern, all fail because they do not take into account human sinfulness and have built their castles in the air before laying the foundations in God and righteousness.
This is the fatal flaw in their planning. It is just here that we part company with the wisdom of this world.
There is a divine order of regeneration, whether it be for the individual, the nation or the world at large.
Righteousness then peace. This is the divine order. Judgement then blessing. Cleansing then healing.
God will intervene and that dramatically, the Kingdom will come from without with a display of power, glory and judgement.
"My God shall come and shall not keep silent a fire shall devour before Him and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him." This is the Christian solution to a disordered world.
We cannot bring in the Kingdom. Any attempt to set up the Kingdom is merely trying to anticipate in this age that which rightfully belongs to another. The most positive, the most constructive, as well as the most ensuring activity in which we can engage, is the saving of souls. We must press home the claims of the Gospel until the hour strikes.
JUDGEMENTS INTRODUCTORY TO THE MILLENIUM
The victory or Armageddon leaves Jesus Christ undisputed victor and ruler of the earth, but before the Kingdom is fully manifested, evil must be effectively dealt with, and judgement must be pronounced on the enemies of God.
1. Satan is banished from the earthly scene and imprisoned in the abyss for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:1-3).
2. Anti-Christ and the False Prophet, the willing tools of Satan, are cast into Gehenna. (Rev. 19:20, 20:10).
3. The anti-Christian armies led by the demon-deluded Kings are destroyed, and their bodies consumed at the "great supper," to which God invites his feathered guests. (Rev. 19:17-18; Ezekiel 39:17-21).
4. The total and entire destruction of Babylon, commercial, religious and political. (Rev. 17.18.)
5. The judgement of the nations to decide which nations and people will be accounted worthy to enter the millenial Kingdom. (Matthew 25:31-46).
THREE MEASURES OF TIME.
The prophecy of Daniel (Chapter 12) mentions three measures of time in connection with the establishment of the Kingdom.
"How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?"
"And I heard the man clothed in linen ... sware by him that liveth forever that it shall be for a time, times and a half a time" (that is for three and a half years or 1260 days).
"Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred five and thirty days." (Daniel 12:6-12).
The first period of course, refers to the duration of the tribulation. For three and a half years the world will groan under the tyranny of the infernal trinity, the Devil, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet.
The second measure of time, 1290 days, refers to the same period with 30 days added.
The Tribulation proper begins with Anti-Christ sitting in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. This represents a crisis, for at this point the covenant concluded with the Jewish nation is broken and their sacrifices suspended.
The thirty days doubtless will be occupied with the cleaning up of the wreckage due to judgement and preliminary arrangements for the inauguration of the Kingdom.
The third measure of time (1335 days) covers the three and a half years, with seventy days added.
This time will be occupied with the work of renovation, and the cleansing of the earth preparatory to the implementing of the Kingdom programme.
The 1335 days undoubtedly marks the actual beginning of the Messiah's reign.
The form of government will be a royal theocracy, in which the sovereign person of Jesus Christ will direct the administration of the earth.
He will bear the burden of kingship in as real and literal a sense as any earthly monarch. This is not a piece of fine sentiment, poetic idealism, but a sober truth, a most blessed reality, upon which hangs the hope of humanity.
"He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne." (Zechariah 6:13).
"And the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, before his ancients gloriously." (Isaiah 24:23).
"The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His Father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever." (Luke 1:32-33).
Our Lord has a threefold ministry, as Prophet, Priest and King. These are not empty titles, but actual offices representing the spheres of Messiah's redemptive work.
During his earthly ministry Jesus Christ fulfilled the functions of a Prophet, now in heaven He is our interceding High Priest, and in the age to come He will be King over the earth.
It is evident from numerous Scriptures that David will be associated with the Lord in the earthly administration.
"I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them." (Ezekiel 34:24).
"But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their King whom I will raise up unto them." (Jeremiah 30:9).
"Afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God and David their King." (Hosea 3:5).
We do not think that these references are to David's greater son, but to King David personally as the Lord's vice-regent.
The problems of this world, great and small, are all comprehended by just two words, "guilt" and "government." There is not a problem that can be named but that it falls in one category or the other.
The first advent of Jesus Christ met the guilt problem. Salvation is provided for all who will avail themselves of it.
God has confined Himself in this age solely to the realm of grace, but in the coming age He deals with the problems of government by taking the magisterial and legislative and royal functions into His own hands, and ruling as the "Righteous Dictator" of the earth.
"He shall rule them with a rod of iron. (Rev. 2:27). "And she brought forth a man-child who was to rule the nations with a rod of iron." (Rev. 12:5).
Dictatorship is the perfect form of government, if a perfect man can be found to exercise the office. Human dictators fail because of avarice, greed and pride, but when the Son of God takes his place on the throne of David, the world will taste for the first time the blessings of perfect government.
There are some major displacements that have to be adjusted before world blessing can ensue. Firstly the Jewish nation is in the wrong place. Instead of being scattered among the nations it must occupy its proper place in the land of Palestine.
The Church is a spiritual seed and must take its rightful place in heaven.
The Devil, now free to roam the earth, must be confined to his place in the Abyss, and the Lord Jesus Christ, now rejected by the Jews and the nations, and seated at the right hand of God must occupy His rightful place on the "Throne of David."
The story is related of a boy who was given a jig-saw puzzle to put together. It was actually a map of the world and after several unsuccessful attempts he discovered that on the back was what appeared to be the figure of a man. So he worked on the figure of the man and piece by piece the form began to appear, and soon it became evident that it was a picture of Jesus Christ. Finally he got the whole picture in its right place, then turning to the other side he found that he had the world in its right place.
When the Lord Jesus Christ sits in His rightful place on the restored Throne of David, then the world will be in its right place for the first time since Eden.
THE SAINTS SHALL REIGN ON THE EARTH.
This was the grand climax of the Elders' anthem in Revelation 5:10. "And we shall reign on the earth."
The Lord Jesus had just taken the seven-sealed book out of the right hand of Him that sitteth upon the throne. This act, one of the greatest in the Revelation, was a pledge that Jesus Christ was duly invested and prepared to redeem the inheritance and take to himself the rulership of the earth.
Hence the joyous exclamation "And we shall reign on the earth".
During their earthly pilgrimage these people accounted for little, the glories of life they disdained, the honours of the world they refused; now they are promoted to rule and exalted to reign.
Thus the Church becomes the administrative staff, the executive, a ruling aristocracy to whom is committed the government of the earth.
"The Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. (Daniel 7:27).
"If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him." (2 Timothy 2:12).
That the King will appoint to positions of honour and rulership members of His glorified Church is certain. But whether the whole Church will share the privilege is not clearly revealed.
In the letters to the seven Churches there are numerous promises held out to overcomers. And many think that these alone will administer the affairs of the Kingdom.
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne," (Revelation 3:21).
"He that overcometh and keepeth my words to the end, to him will I give power over the nations." (Rev. 2:26).
What a challenge to heroic living! What a call to holiness, what an incentive to selfless service!
In the light of these Scriptures many of the parables become luminous.
The Parables of the talents (Matthew 25), and the pounds (Luke 19) are full of spiritual instruction at this point. When the Lord returned he reckoned with the servants, and rewarded them according to their faithfulness; to one was rulership over ten cities, to another it was rulership over five cities, while others were appointed to rule over "many things." Then, too, another distinct group is seen to reign with Christ.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given to them, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus ... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4).
Thus two classes are to reign with Christ, the Church as a whole or through its representatives and the Tribulation Martyrs.
SOCIAL CONDITIONS DURING THE MILLENIUM
The dream of years will at last be realised and the Kingdom so long delayed will become a solid reality. Not emergent from human dreams, or pious wishes, but an actuality proceeding from the sovereign act of God.
Socialists and secularists have planned and built without God, dreams of peace, dreams of a settled order, dreams of brotherhood, but only dreams. Man talk glibly of the equality of mankind but to most it means nothing more than the equality of the steam-roller which flattens everybody down to a common level. A state where everybody is somebody usually ends up with no one being anybody.
The doctrine of human equality is a delusion, a lie contradicted by every fact of life, for mankind is manifestly unequal; morally, physically and intellectually, and will remain so until the end of time.
There is, however, a doctrine of equality, that all men are of equal value in the sight of God.
An equality of which men become conscious as they are raised to a spiritual standard, through a consciousness of their relationship with God, and their destiny in Jesus Christ.
An equality wherein men of superior talent recognise their duty to God by serving the weaker, thus making possible for them a full and worthy life.
An equality where men refuse to serve themselves at the debasement of others, where so often success is merely the measure of failure, and to have all this there must be a new dynamic at the heart of things, and it is just here that God's new order differs from human idealism.
The Millenium is something more than shining visions, and dazzling hopes of abundance and leisure; it is a world thoroughly disciplined and deeply imbued with a sense of moral and social responsibility.
RELIGIOUS CONDITIONS DURING THE MILLENIUM.
The Scriptures have more to say about this aspect of millenial life than any other. The reason for this is quite obvious, the religious conditions are the true basis upon which the new economy stands.
"Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain who build it."
1. Jerusalem thrown down and built up a score of times will have suffered its last desolation. The city itself will be the vortex of tribulation judgements, but with the dawn of the millenium, the city is to be rebuilt to the Lord, and named Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is there).
The city will not be great according to modern standards, measuring only 10 miles square. The entire city will be enclosed in walls with three gates on each side, similar in these particulars to the New Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 48:15-18, 30-35). Palestine is the geographical centre of the earth. (Ezekiel 38:12). How appropriate, then, that Jerusalem should be the metropolis of the millenial earth. The city invested with a new dignity, a purely religious city will be the rendezvous of pilgrimages from the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 14; Ezekiel 48:30-35.)
2. The Millenial Temple is to be constructed according to the precise instructions of Ezekiel 40-48. This huge building, almost a mile square, will not be built as a part of Jerusalem, but will be located in the vicinity of ancient Shiloh, some twelve miles north of Jerusalem. No such temple has ever been built in the past, and that the vision does not refer to the New Heaven and New Earth is indicated by the geographical boundaries indicated. The river rising from under the sanctuary flows into the sea, but in the New Heaven and New Earth there is no sea. (Revelation 21:1).
The Aaronic Priesthood will be restored and the sons of Zadok will officiate (Ezekiel 44:15-31). For nigh 1500 years Israel offered sacrifices foreshadowing the great work of Christ on the Cross. These offerings were prospective in character looking forward to Calvary. Now that the lamb of God has been offered, sacrifices for sin are at an end. During this age Israel is to be without a King, a temple, or a sacrifice. (Hosea 3:4).
The Church has no animal sacrifices, priests, altars or temples. Christ is all in all. In the millenium Israel will have a ritual, and will offer prescribed offerings and sacrifices, not as an atonement for sin, but as a commemoration, a memorial of the great work of Calvary. All will be retrospective in the same sense in which the Church today observes the Lord's Supper and Christian Baptism.
The millenial temple will be the largest and most spectacular sanctuary the world has ever seen. The temples of the Jews and the cathedrals of Christendom pale into insignificance before it. It will be the Mecca of world faith. Sects and schism, and competing religious groups will be unknown. No longer will men be the prey of cults and isms, for all religious confusion will be at an end, and as there is one universal Kingdom, so will there be one faith the world over.
GEOGRAPHICAL CONDITIONS DURING THE MILLENIUM
The geographical earth is to be reconstructed anticipatory to the demands of the new order, and the vast population that will possess it in millenial times.
Geologists assure us that climate of the antediluvian world was quite different to that of subsequent ages. It is believed that the mountains before the flood were not comparable either in height or mass to the towering giants of today, but with the advent of the Lord there is a great levelling down.
Vast physical changes will prepare the earth for the new age. Land masses will be regrouped and the entire geography of the earth will have to be rewritten.
God is Sovereign Lord, and natural laws are but His servants to further His purposes.
Thus physical transformations synchronise with the descent of the Lord to the Mount of Olives. His appearing in glory touches off terrifying cosmic disturbances, and the greatest earthquake ever, convulses the entire earth.
God has used natural phenomena on other occasions to signalise momentous events. Both the crucifixion and the resurrection were accompanied by earthquakes, but at the second advent of Christ the whole course of nature is thrown into confusion and chaos.
Revelation 16:18-19 Micah 1:3-4 Ezekiel 38:19-20 Zechariah 14:4. Isaiah 2:19-21.
The mountainous terrain of Judah will be levelled down and made a plain. "All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem." (Zechariah 14:10). Geba and Rimmon marked the northern and southern boundaries of Judah.
All this area, now so forbidding and rugged, will fall away to a plain leaving Jerusalem exalted on the mountains, a symbol of the new dignity that has come to it.
BEYOND THE THOUSAND YEARS.
The Kingdom age ends with the loosing of Satan from the abyss. A thousand years detention has wrought no change in his nature and he comes forth filled with hate, to kindle a world rebellion against the divine administration. Gog and Magog were the willing tools of Satan before the millenium and the final insurrection comes from the same quarter. For a thousand years the world has been under the discipline of a theocracy, but now restraint is at an end.
The reaction of the masses against the Puritan rule in England during the 17th century may be taken as an example of what may be expected to happen when divine authority is relaxed at the close of the millenium. Puritan rule was characterized by rigid righteousness, discipline and restraint, but this apparently was too much for sinful human nature and when the restoration took place in 1660 the populace gave themselves up to every kind of excess.
A wave of unrestrained lawlessness swept over the nation, so it will be, but on an infinitely vaster scale, when the divine rule is relaxed. The incorrigible nature of sin will at once be seen and the apostasy that ensues will be like a new fall.
Multitudes who only yielded formal allegiance to the King, but were strangers to him in their hearts, will hail the change. Then too, the millions on earth who have not hitherto felt the power of the evil one will find themselves in a position where a choice between God and Satan must be made.
The revolt against divine authority, the last this poor world will witness, will be well-nigh universal. For "they went up over the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about the Beloved City."
Israel, through the ages, has been the special target of Satan's attack and now his malignity is unleashed once more. His insane fury too will be directed against the hateful restraints of the divine administration, and all this will find an echo in the hearts of earth's millions in whose lives the fires of wickedness have been dormant and smouldering.
The duration of the "little season" (Revelation 20:3) cannot be known, but God apparently will allow evil to come to its climax and then judgement will fall. God will take up the challenge, and the heavens flash forth retribution.
"Fire comes down from God out of heaven, and destroys them," and this writes finis to the human drama.
We need not speculate further on the time or the manner of the end, for all is plainly revealed. While men of science offer their theories and entertain us with the fantasies and speculations, concerning the "crash of worlds," "another ice age," "the earth swallowed up by the sun," and less inviting disasters, the child of God rests on the revealed word of God. One brief sentence suffices to write the end of all things, and thus the sad pilgrimage of mankind comes to an end in fire and smoke.
Satan is the first to be dealt with. His day is now over, his mischief is at an end, being beyond amendment, responding neither to mercy nor judgement he is consigned to a well-deserved fate. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are."
The Beast and the False Prophet are already there, having been cast into hell before the millenium. (Revelation 20:10). "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
Following the judgement of Satan comes the final assize, in which the fallen angels and the rest of the dead who had no part in the first resurrection are summoned to judgement.
The Great White Throne is set in the realms of space while the regeneration of the physical universe is proceeding "after the earth and heavens have fled away."
Amid the dread solemnities of the after-life every sinner will behold his life pass before him, his sins and his rejection of mercy. God will touch the secret springs of memory and it will all come back.
"And the vision of my past life Was an awful thing to face. Alone, alone with my conscience In the weird and lonely place."
There is a dread awesomeness about the judgement of the Great White Throne, that overwhelms the human spirit, yet despite this, no truth in the Bible is so universally acclaimed, no doctrine so universally approved, for the conscience of mankind demands it. It is a moral necessity - thousands have escaped judgement on earth, crimes have gone unpunished, ghastly murders undetected.
Then too, the sufferings of God's people through the ages must be vindicated, the persecution of the early Church, the ghastly horrors of the inquisition, the fiendish barbarism of the concentration camps will all come up for investigation; nothing will be overlooked.
We can only praise God that the wickedness of earth will all come up for judgement, and the petty tyrants, the dictators, the wicked of the earth both great and small will be called to account. Our Lord will occupy the throne as judge and the presence of "divine almightiness" will fill the scene with dread, for there is nothing of hope for those are summoned to appear before the Great White Throne.
There are no heavenly anthems, no white robes, no singing choirs here, but sinners standing before the majesty of a Holy God awaiting their sentence. All external things will have passed away, no more self-deception, no more easy judgements; all stand here before the white light of divine righteousness.
Associated with Jesus Christ will be the glorified Church, the lamb's wife. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's words to the Corinthians:
"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" "Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" (1 Corinthians 6:2,3).
The Church will be called upon to judge the unbelievers of this age and the fallen angels. "The books were opened and another book was opened which is the book of life." "The books and the book." The dead are judged according to the books. Thus the record of every life is registered in heaven and what awful revelations will come to light when the archives of heaven are thrown open for inspection. God is just and will give every man a chance to state his case and make good his claims.
Many will claim salvation on grounds of character, philanthropy, good deeds, church membership, baptism sacraments, godly ancestry but all in vain; being without faith in Jesus Christ, the experience of the new birth and the cleansing blood, they are taken by the angels of doom and cast into Ghenna.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH.
With chapter 21 of Revelation, the eternal state comes into view. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away."
The kingdom is the constant theme of the Old Testament prophets and beyond that they rarely go. There are, however, two passages, both in Isaiah, that give an extended vision of what lies beyond the millenium.
"For, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17). "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." (Isaiah 66:22).
Thus the Old Testament, apart from these brief references, did not go beyond the reign of the Messiah, so that in this regard New Testament prophecy transcends the Old and to it we must look for light concerning the eternal state.
THE PURGATION OF THE EARTH.
The earth also will undergo a purification by fire. This earth has been the moral battle-ground for the whole universe, not on the planets or some galaxy beyond, but here the issues between God and Satan, light and darkness, truth and error is being fought out. What scenes of horror, what fearful desolations, what fiendish wickedness has swept the earth from the beginning. The earth, debased and utterly defiled, is to be thoroughly cleansed and renovated.
This purgation of the earth is first hinted at in Genesis 8:22. "While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest shall not cease." The clause "while the earth remaineth" suggests a future change. God will make a new earth and He will surround it with a new sky. The scripture reveals that there are three heavens. There is the heaven of the atmosphere, and the sidereal or heaven of the stars and planets, which will pass away. These are the created heavens of Genesis 1:1. But beyond the atmospheric heavens and the sidereal heavens there is the third heaven, the eternal heaven, the abode of deity. It was into the glories of this heaven that Paul gazed, and to this heaven our Lord ascended. This heaven cannot be touched by the final conflagration that marks the end of the physical creation as we know it.
Peter tells us how the physical transformation is to be brought about. (2 Peter 3:10-12).
v.10 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
v.11 "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversations and godliness.
v.12 "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat."
When the great day comes the earth and the heavens will provide all the fuel necessary for the great holocaust. Matter is composed of over 90 known elements and every one is fusible. Air is composed mostly of oxygen and nitrogen, the latter being an element used in the manufacture of high explosives. Water is composed of oxygen and nitrogen, the latter being an element used in the manufacture of high explosives. Water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. In each case the elements of which both water and air are composed, when separated are highly combustible. God will so adjust the form of these things that He will have all the necessary fuel for the great conflagration. Scientists are constantly predicting some such end to the physical universe. They speak of the "Crash of Worlds" while all the time, stars are observed to disintegrate and disappear forever. The earth itself is not as stable as it appears, though its crust has been variously estimated to be from 60 to 200 miles thick, yet beneath the envelope of brittle rock, temperatures are so high that matter is in a molten state. Volcanoes belch forth lava and steam, geysers eject boiling water, salses pour forth boiling mud, while hot springs hiss forth super-heated gases. All these forces are pent up, waiting to be unleashed on the final day of dissolution.
The time of this great cataclysm is indicated in Revelation 20:11: "And I saw a great white throne and him that sat on it, from whose presence the earth and the heavens fled away." It would appear that while the Great White Throne judgement runs its course, the physical regeneration is taking place.
THE EARTH ABIDETH EVER
The earth will not be utterly destroyed or cast away on some slag heap. It will be preserved, w venture to think, as an eternal memorial to the work of Calvary. No other orb in the universe has been consecrated by such a costly sacrifice, no other orb has witnessed such tragedy and triumph. As the earth was fulfilling the purposes of God before the advent of man, so it will continue to have a unique place in the plan of God throughout eternity. The purifying fires will sweep over it and its fashion will pass away, its exterior surface will be changed and every evidence of sin will be removed. It will be a new earth in the sense of a renewed earth, for the word parerchomai translated "pass away" does not signify either destruction or annihilation but implies continuity, the passing from one state to another. Just as a converted man is spoken of as a new man, though he is the same man but spiritually renewed, so with the new earth. The English word "new" comes from two Greek words, the one signifying something quite new, while the other signifies a new aspect given to something already in existence.
It is the latter word that is used of the New Heaven and New Earth. Though swept by the purifying flames in such a manner as to destroy its present fashion, it will reappear again, the identical earth. There is one notable feature, however, which will be entirely absent. There shall be no more sea. However fruitful of spiritual instruction, the literal fact must not be overlooked, the sea the symbol of restless humanity, the figure of rebellion and violence, has no part in the eternal order.
THREE CLASSES OF THE SAVED.
Three distinct classes of the saved are seen in relation to the Eternal order; Israel, the nations and the Church. They are viewed separately both in time and in Eternity. The New Jerusalem is in a very peculiar sense the home of the bride, the Church. The home of Israel and the saved nations would appear to us to be the new earth, made glorious and resplendent by regeneration.
"For as the new heavens and new earth which I shall make shall remain before me saith the Lord, so shall your seed and name remain." (Isaiah 66:22).
The mention of nations and Kings in the Eternal order constitutes a difficulty to many, and in consequence some have concluded that the last two chapters of Revelation relate to the millenial economy. This, however, is not so. Revelation 21 marks a new beginning, the old order has passed away and the eternal order appears.
Who then are these nations? Who are the Kings of the earth?
They can be no other than the saved nations of the millenium, not the nations of them which are saved as the Authorised Version has it. These redeemed nations and kings will have for their particular dwelling in the eternal order, the new earth.
Dean Alford says, "Among the mysteries of this new heaven and new earth, this is set forth to us, that besides the glorified church, there shall still be dwelling on the renewed earth, nations organised under kings." Again he says, "If the kings of the earth and the nations bring their glory and their treasures to her, and if none shall ever enter into her that is not written in the book of life, it follows that the kings and the nations are written in the book of life."
There is no difficulty here except such as is created by preconceived opinion. Nations have been prominent from the very beginning in the divine scheme of things, and never more so than today. The world is ablaze with nationalism, and new nations are constantly emerging and taking their place in the United Nations Organization.
This age ends with the judgement of the nations, and while there is the present age a threefold classification of Jew, Gentile and Church of God, in the millenial order there will be nations only. A saved nations which is an impossible ideal in the present age, will be possible in the Kingdom age. All Israel is to be saved at the appearing of the Lord, and will enter the millenium as a saved nation, so there will be at least one saved nation with which to begin the millenium.
The nations form an integral part of the millenial order; there are no other groups but nations, and everything will assume a national aspect. (Psalm 72, Zechariah 14, Micah 4:2)
Now it is the saved nations of the millenial order who are seen in relation to the new earth and the heavenly city. The Scriptures are silent as to the means whereby these nations are transported to their new abode. Some have envisaged another rapture at the close of the millenium, but concerning this the Scriptures are silent.
Beyond the storm lies the eternal calm. After the crash of worlds, after the fire of judgement, after the smoke and confusion of the final dissolution, the bridal city, the New Jerusalem comes into view.
In describing the supernal beauties of the New Heaven and New Earth, seven new things are mentioned: the new earth, the new heavens surrounding the earth, the new people, the new Jerusalem, the new temple, the new light, the new paradise.
Among all these glories, the New Jerusalem occupies the chief place. Many, of course, will declare that this is not a literal description, and that there can be no strict adherence to the letter. As a consequence there has gathered around these concluding chapters of the Revelation a vast assemblage of figments and fancies, and all that is left to us is a morass of weird interpretations and spiritualizing extravagance as if the purpose of God was to mystify us instead of enlighten us.
God has clearly revealed here what lies beyond the borderline of time, and we can rest assured that here we are standing on sure prophetic ground. Away then with mystical interpretations, the shadowy, the unreal. God wants His people to revel and rejoice in the glorious realities He has awaiting them beyond the hills of time.
THE NEW JERUSALEM IS A LITERAL CITY.
All the essentials of a city are indicated. It has specific dimensions, it has foundations, walls, streets, gates, and the measurements of all these things are indicated.
There is nothing new or novel about this. God was the architect of Noah's Ark, of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and of the Millenial Temple, and the heavenly city will be just as substantial as these, or of any earthly city built by men. Our Lord indicated that it would be so.
"In my Father's house are many mansions (abiding places) if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you ...that where I am there ye may be also."
If language means anything, we conclude that our Lord is preparing a place for His people. Now a place is something substantial, and can only be made of tangible materials. Those things were not left to our imagination, for the materials are all mentioned. After all, the city may as well be built of precious metals as anything else! Why not? And if we are to reject these materials, pray, what shall we put in their place? Would stone and wood be more acceptable? Would concrete and iron the more satisfy our incredulous instincts?
John sees the city coming down out of heaven from God. It is of heavenly origin, it is a product of the workshops of heaven, and into its design has gone the wisdom of the omniscient God. The God who made the worlds made this city, and the Spirit which garnished the heavens will beautify this city.
"Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham was evidently a city-dweller, who at the call of God turned away from the idolatries of Ur, and lived in a tent in keeping with his pilgrim walk. Throughout his pilgrimage, this vision of a city of solid foundations girded his faith and buttressed his hope.
The word "builder" in Hebrews 11:10 is instructive at this point. The word is derived from a Greek word "technites", a word from which is derived the word technical, and translated by Weymouth and others "architect". Thus our Lord is not only the builder, but the architect of this city. Even on the earthly plane the bridegroom builds a home for his bride, and beautifies and enriches it. With what infinite wisdom then will the heavenly Bridegroom lavish upon this city the treasures of grace and the marvels of His wisdom.
"But now they desire a better country, that is to say an heavenly, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he hath prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:16). "Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." (Hebrews 13:4).
Liberalism says heaven means to be something, rather than to go somewhere. It means both a place as well as a state. It has tangible existence outside ourselves, but can only be appreciated by those whose hearts are regenerated by the Spirit. All such enjoy heaven on the way to heaven.
THE DIMENSIONS OF THE CITY.
The city lies foursquare, the length, breadth and height are of equal measurements, being 12,000 furlongs, or 1500 miles.
What an imposing spectacle the city will be! The ground-plan would occupy an extent of territory about two thirds of the continent of Australia, and then tower above 1500 miles. The city as to its shape could be cubical or pyramidal, for both geometrical figures allow three equal dimensions, and provide for twelve gates, three on each side. (See Revelation 20:10-27.)
THE LOCATION OF THE CITY.
Nothing certain is revealed as to the precise location of the New Jerusalem. John sees it coming down out of heaven, so that it is not to be identified with the third, or ultimate heaven.
The general idea is that the city is suspended over the renewed earth, and around both is the glory of the new heavens. The heavens which are now, present a glorious spectacle. The Spiritual mind is captivated by such a display of wisdom, but what shall be said of the glory of the new heavens, a veritable wonderland for the heavenly tourist.
The nations below on the new earth walk by the light of the city, and have free access to the city itself, and to the new heavens. Heaven and earth will be one on that day. The glorious Church shall live with exalted Israel, and the new Nations in peace and undisturbed communion.
Righteousness will reign during the millenium, but in the New Heaven and New Earth, righteousness shall dwell. There will be evil during the millenium, though hidden and restrained, but in the Eternal state it is banished forever, and the whole condition will be one of absolute holiness, fellowship and love.
It has been said that "cities are sores upon the body politic." After the Flood, the divine policy of decentralisation was intended, among other things, to be a check on iniquity, but mankind disobeyed the divine fiat and proceded to erect cities. There is a moral contagion about wickedness that large cities foster and promote. Sinister movements of all kinds almost invariably have their origin where great masses of men are herded together in cities, and yet the final vision of the apocalypse is of a city; but of the Eternal City, it is written, "And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth neither whatsoever worketh an abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
THE ILLUMINATION OF THE CITY.
The best that this life can offer fades into utter insignificance in the light of the unutterable glory of that life. The things that mar our fellowship and blight our happiness will be no more.
In describing life in the New Heaven and Earth, the Holy Spirit has given a list of ills and negations from which the heavenly society will be free.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4).
THE ABSENCE OF TEARS.
The chemist may define a tear as a little sodium and other salts, but a tear is much more than that. Such things cannot be pressed into a formula of words. Tears express the tragedy of life, and the pathos and failure of our life here below. Tears of misfortune, tears of frustration, tears of yearning, tears of sorrow, tears of penitence. In the aggregate, the tears of the world would provide vast waters upon which ships could float. A sad commentary on the misery and tragedy of man's pilgrimage.
THE ABSENCE OF DEATH.
Death! Just five letters, but full as no other word is of all that is calamitous. The dark dimension of the word and all that it connotes is all too familiar. The vacant chair, the solemn procession, the silent obelisk, are mute reminders of man's weakness and mortality, and of the universal defilement that has smitten us all. Death is the great enemy of man. We may whittle away its meaning, and cover its ugliness with high-sounding phraseology. We may talk about an "inevitable episode," a "stage in progress," but nothing that man has done since Adam has altered the stark reality of death.
The gospel truly gives us light in the darkness, comfort in our sorrow, hope in the gloom. We are able to say with all assurance,
"And with the morn, those angel faces smile Which I have loved, long since, and lost awhile,"
but the reality of death is still with us; but when this new genesis dawns for the redeemed, "death shall be swallowed up in victory."
THE ABSENCE OF SORROW AND PAIN.
Human life is beset on every side with these things. Choose what path you will, there can be no escape. The mysteries of providence lie thick around us, and we are at a loss to supply a reason for these things. What a blessed sequel then to the pain and distress of life! What a heartening climax to the human drama is the final vision of the apocalypse. "Neither shall there be sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."
PERFECT PEACE AND SATISFACTION.
Peace is one of the great words of our language. To have peace with God through Jesus Christ is a most blessed experience, but we are not now thinking of the attitude of reconciliation, but the peace that is in harmony with the will of God. Life is full of disturbing problems and tantalising questions, but then all shall be made clear, and we shall enjoy rest in the will of God, and be at peace with the ways of God, with His purpose and government. Out of this peace and perfect unity with the Eternal mind comes holy joy and lasting satisfaction.
"In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."
One of the most delightful prospects of the future life is the blessed society that shall gather in the Holy City. What joyous reunions, what affectionate greetings, what enriching fellowship, what ennobling companionships! The question is often asked, shall we know one another in heaven? In reply it has been said, shall we be greater fools there than we are here? An apt retort surely, for our present life and future life is not an unconnected existence. We shall still be ourselves, and retain the things which individualize us.
What sort of a life would it be otherwise? Immortality without identity would have little meaning for us. The older theologians were accustomed to divide the joys of heaven into essential and accidental. The former term was used to signify joy derived from God's presence, while the latter term related to the incidental joys; the joys of fellowship with the Saints, the joys of ever-increasing knowledge, the joys of heavenly employments.
"And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and their names shall be in their foreheads." (Revelation 22:3-4).
THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF THE TIMES.
"That in the dispensation of the fulness of the times he might gather together in one all things in Christ; both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him." (Ephesians 1:10).
These words are often taken to apply to the millenium, but it is evident that in the millenium all things in heaven and earth are not brought into a spiritual unity under the headship of Jesus Christ.
During the millenium, sin is still in the world, and evil still awaits judgement; the final rebellion of earth's multitudes takes place at the end of the thousand years. All these things render a fulfilment of Ephesians 1:10 impossible during the millenium. We take these words then to apply to the New Heaven and New Earth. Some have designated it the "Perfect Age wherein Jesus Christ rules with His people before handing back the Kingdom to God."
The words, "that he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth even in him," reveal the true nature of this period designated the "dispensation of the fulness of times." This dispensation takes place when all preceding ages and dispensations have matured or run out. It is, as another has expressed it, "a chronological as well as a moral fulness."
There is to be a gathering together of things in Jesus Christ. This implies a prior separation, a broken unity due to sin, but all these separate parts are to be gathered under the headship of Jesus Christ. He is the centre of this unity, a truth twice mentioned in Ephesians 1:10.
This unity will include the angels of heaven and the saints of earth, the unfallen and the redeemed; the families of heaven together with the dispensational families of earth. Significantly, the expression "Things under the earth," are omitted, for evil ere this will have been finally judged and disposed of.
Thus, for the first time since sin lifted its head in primeval times, will the harmony of the universe be restored, and the whole creation of God brought back once more into a unity in the will and purpose of God.
With the vision of the New Jerusalem we reach the outer circle of the apocalypse, only to find ourselves at the beginning of grander schemes and vaster developments. We venture to think that Eternity will not flow on without interruption. The expression, the "ages of ages" implies surely successive periods and eras, each one opening up new vistas of glory, new fields of service and grander panoramas. We shall always be standing on the edge of wonders.
What the ages will reveal of God's plan and purpose, we cannot fully know, but we know that the redeemed will ever be the object of the tender regard and love of the Eternal.
"That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7).
"Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nei
ther have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)
We have no knowledge of what will be the ultimate in that
infinite and glorious life, nor is that necessary, Possessing Christ, the
Cross, and the Word, we may confidently leave the eternal years with Him.
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