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THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND JUDGMENT
Separating Fact from Fiction
The Millennium, The Thousand Year Reign
Victor M. Eskew
A. One of the key features of Dispensationalism is the Millennial reign of Christ.
a. Mille – thousand
b. Anus – year
2. “The Lord Jesus Christ will rule and reign on the earth for a thousand years, as King of kings and Lord of lords. In Revelation 20:4 we read, ‘and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years’” (The King Is Coming, Homer Duncan, p. 19).
B. Notice that Mr. Duncan references Revelation 20.
1. This is the only chapter in the New Testament that references the words, “a thousand years.”
2. The word is found in this chapter 6 times (Rev. 20:4, 6).
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hand; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years….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.
C. In this lesson, we want to examine this aspect of Premillennialism. We will find that it contradicts other Scriptures and that it has numerous problems to overcome.
I. FACTS ABOUT THE SUPPOSED MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
A. The capital city will be Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-21)
B. There will be peace on earth.
1. Isaiah 2:4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
2. The Lord will rule over the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
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.
C. It will be a time of prosperity (Isa. 60:17; Zech. 8:12).
For brass will I bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron…
D. Longevity of life will be restored. “All redeemed ones that enter the kingdom shall never know sickness, pain or death. They shall be alive at the end of the reign and pass into the eternal state…” (Gavin Hamilton, Maranatha, as quoted by Boettner, p. 290).
E. Creation shall be delivered from its present bondage.
1. The weather will always be perfect.
2. There will be no antagonism between animals and man (Isa. 65:25).
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and the dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
F. The kingdom will be ruled by the King and His people.
G. Judaism will be restored with all the promises of God brought to fruition on her behalf.
1. The Law of Moses, the priesthood, the Temple, the sacrifices, the Feast Days, the Sabbath, all shall be restored.
2. The Dispensationalist believes that God has two peoples, Israel and the Church. Dr. Ladd: “The heart of the system is not seven dispen-sations, nor a pretribulation rapture of the Church. It is the notion that God has two peoples, Israel and the Church, and two programs – a theocratic program for Israel and a redemptive program for the Church. Israel is a national people with national blessings and an earthly destiny; the Church is a universal people with spiritual blessings and a heavenly destiny” (Article in Christianity Today, October 12, 1959).
H. Summary: “His coming kingdom will truly be the utopia that has eluded man since the Fall. It will be a time of peace, righteousness, prosperity, and conversion, and will abundantly fulfill all the prophets had said about it” (End Times?, LaHaye and Jenkins, 234).
II. THE THEORY DOESN’T HARMONIZE WITH OTHER SCRIPTURE
A. Jesus declared that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world,
Then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is
my kingdom not from hence.
B. The kingdom of Christ is already in existence (Col. 1:13).
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
C. If Jesus were to reign on earth, it is impossible for His kingdom to prosper (Jer. 22:30).
Thus said the Lord, Write this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, ruling any more in Jerusalem.
1. The prophecy concerns the king Coniah, or Jechoniah (Jer. 22:24).
2. “…no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, ruling any more in Jerusalem.”
3. According to Matthew 1:11, Jesus is of the lineage of Jechoniah.
D. When the Lord returns, there will be no earth upon which to establish a kingdom (II Pet. 3:10).
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.
III. PROBLEMS WITH THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM
A. Problem #1: The large number of wicked that is said to exist on the earth
1. If what is said by the premils is true, a large population of wicked cannot exist on the earth.
a. Satan is bound in the bottomless pit during the thousand year reign (Rev. 20:2).
b. The Sheep and Goat Judgment of Matthew 25 is a judgment of the nations that are in existence when Christ returns following the Rapture.
1) The righteous are permitted to live.
2) The wicked, however, go into eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46).
c. The Jews that are here are said to convert to Jesus Christ upon the mere sight of the Messiah.
2. “Are we to believe that during the blessed millennial reign of Christ wickedness shall so increase from a comparatively small beginning that it will account for those nations that have to be kept down, and which at the end of the millennium rise in an overwhelming rebellion?” (Boettner, 292).
B. Problem #2 – The vast population
1. How is the population supposed to flourish as the premils say?
2. Why this question?
a. The wicked of the earth are sent to perdition.
b. The resurrected saints cannot bear children (Luke 20:34-36).
C. Problem #3 – Christ’s rule with a rod of iron
1. One of the ways peace will be maintained during the millennium is through the Lord’s use of the rod of iron as He rules (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).
2. Importance: “So important is this ‘rod of iron’ rule for the premillennial theory that if the evidence for it breaks down, it would seem to destroy the very heart of the premillennial theory” (Hamilton as quoted by Boettner, 293).
3. Two important points:
a. The word “rule” is “poimaino.”
1) In 7 of the 11 instances it is found in the New Testament the word is translated “feed” (Luke 17:7; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; I Cor. 9:7; I Pet. 5:2; Jude 12; Rev. 7:17).
2) There are four words that come from the same root word: poimnion, poimne, poimen, and poimaino. These words are always connected with flocks and shepherds, and the care of flocks. This is true in the 39 instances where the word is used.
3) The verses in Revelation, therefore, that talk about the Lord’s rule involve His shepherding of the people.
b. The rod of iron
1) A shepherd carried two instruments, a rod and a staff (Ps. 23:4).
…thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
a) The staff was a curved stick used to guide the sheep.
b) The rod was a heavy club with nails driven into the thick end. It was used to drive off wild animals.
2) “All of this seems to show that the ‘rod of iron’ used in connection with the shepherd word poimaino, refers not to ruling over the nations…but to acting toward the nations as a shepherd would act toward wild animals attacking the sheep!” (Hamilton as quoted by Boettner, 294).
a) About Revelation 19:5 – Here we see a unified picture of just vengeance against the wicked nations who have followed Satan in war.
b) “Hence, the ‘rod of iron’ passages teach that while Christ protects His people, He really does not rule over, but destroys, their enemies” (Boettner, 296).
D. Problem #4 – A “mixed” population
1. According to the premil theory, the righteous dead are resurrected, given a heavenly body, and are raptured to be with Christ during the Great Tribulation. The righteous are also given spiritual bodies and taken up to be with Christ for that seven year period.
2. When the Millennial Kingdom is established, these glorified saints will return to the earth and will live with those who are still in their mortal bodies.
3. “This condition, semi-heavenly and semi-earthly, Christ reigning in Jerusalem with two radically different types of people, the saints in glorified resurrection bodies and ordinary mortals still in the flesh yet mingling freely throughout the world for the long and almost unending period of one thousand years, strikes us as so unreal and absurd that we wonder how anyone can take it seriously” (Boettner, 296-297).
E. Problem #5 – Appearing in the presence of Jesus
1. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, He was given all of his glory back (John 17:5).
2. When He returns to the earth, He will still have this glory.
3. How can those who are earthly, appear in His presence.
a. Saul was stricken with blindness and fell to the ground (Acts 9:3-4).
b. John saw the Christ and fell at His feet as one who was dead (Rev. 1:16-17).
c. Listen to how Jesus is described in I Timothy 6:16.
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. (emp. mine, vme)
F. Problem #6 – The establishment of Judaism
1. Dispensationalism holds that the Rapture of the Church which leaves unbelieving Israel on earth, prepares the way for the literal fulfillment of the Old Testament kingdom prophecies to the Jews as an earthly people.
2. In the Millennium, Judaism will be the religion that is practiced.
3. How can Christians function in a society which is inferior to their better covenant, better sacrifice, and better promises found in the Christian system?
a. Christians are said to be dead to the law and the law is dead to them (Rom. 7:4, 6).
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ….But now are ye delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held…
b. Example: Going back to the system of Judaism for the Christian would be like a farmer going back to the mule and plow after experiencing his high-tech farm equipment, especially his tractor.
c. Listen to Paul’s admonition about returning to the Old Law (Gal. 5:1).
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
G. Berkhof: “The premillennial theory entangles itself in all kinds of insuperable difficulties with its doctrine of the millennium. It is impossible to understand how a part of the old world and of sinful humanity can exist along side of a part of the new earth and of a humanity that is glorified. How can perfect saints in glorified bodies live in this sin-laden atmosphere and amid scenes of death and decay?...How will sinners and saints in the flesh be able to stand in the presence of the glorified Christ, seeing that even Paul and John were completely overwhelmed by the vision of Him, Acts 26:12-14; Rev. 1:17” (Systematic Theology, p. 715) (as quoted by Boettner, 300).
IV. AN HONEST LOOK AT REVELATION 20
A. There are some things that are not mentioned in Revelation 20.
1. A list:
a. It does not mention the Second Coming of Christ.
b. It does not mention Christ’s reigning on the earth.
c. It does not mention a bodily resurrection.
d. It does not mention the city of Jerusalem.
2. Comments on these omissions:
a. Homer Hailey: “A theory that rests on a passage of Scripture in which not one of its peculiar tenets of doctrine is found cannot be true! (Revelation, An Introduction and Commentary, p. 390).
b. Foy E. Wallace, Jr.: “Can millennialists consistently say that though it mentions none of these things, it teaches all of them?” (The Book of Revelation, p. 403).
B. The actual wording of the text in Revelation 20:4.
…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
1. “They” is a personal pronoun of the third person. The premils change this term to “we,” a personal pronoun of the first person. (NOTE: The “they” really refers to those who were beheaded).
2. “Lived and reigned” with Christ are verbs of past tense. The premils change these words to “shall live and reign” which are verbs of a future tense.
3. Wallace: “That is too much change for any man to make who has an ounce of respect for the word of God” (Revelation, 402).
C. The text is shrouded with figurative language.
1. Revelation 1:1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.
Herschel H. Hobbs: “Finally, in Revelation spiritual truth is expressed in symbols (1:1). This has been pointed out throughout this study. It would be inconsistent to apply this elsewhere, and not do it here. We cannot say, ‘Symbol, symbol, symbol, literal, symbol, symbol.’ Either one must interpret the entire book literally, which is contrary to 1:1, or else interpret it symbolically” (The Cosmic Drama, p. 184).
2. The figurative context.
“There are twenty figures of speech in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters alone. In a series of symbols such as these, it is not reasonable to make a literal application of the thousand years and a figurative application of the rest of the symbols, without a contextual or historical reason for doing so. The thousand years, like the other parts of the vision, is a figure of speech – a symbol of something else” (Revelation, 403).
b. Revelation 20:1
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Hobbs: “This language should be taken in it spiritual sense. For instance, how could a literal chain be used to bind a spiritual being? This alone should suggest caution at this point (The Cosmic Drama, p. 182).
c. NOTE: Without the literal interpretation, there is no millennial reign of Christ in the Bible.
A. What we have seen is that the premillennial view of the Millennium is false.
B. The next question that we would need to answer is: “What is the correct interpretation of the thousand years in Revelation 20?”
C. Remember what we said in the first lesson of our study.
1. It is possible to know what something is not without knowing exactly what it is.
2. We have drawn things out of the depths of the ocean and can say: “I know that it is not a human being, but I do not know what it is.”