Skip to comments.Christís Second Coming (1)
Posted on 04/07/2005 8:31:12 AM PDT by TheTruthess
Doug Focht, Jr.
On the freeway, hundreds of cars are going in all directions without drivers; in the middle of a football gamezap!suddenly, the quarterback disappears; the UN is in turmoil; millions of people have vanished from the earth with no trace, no warning!1 Thus Hal Lindsay, in his book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, describes an event called the rapture in which millions of people will be taken from earth and transported to heaven. Maybe you've heard talk of this and wonder what it's all about.
Although there are some variations within the premillenial theology of Christ's return, the current popular theory among many fundamental evangelicals regarding Christ's second coming goes something like this:
Before Christ's actual visible coming, He will remove His faithful from the earth. The faithful dead will also be raised to meet them in the air. This is the event which they call the rapture, the event covered in chapter 11 of Lindsay's book. A 7-year period of tribulation follows.
With the removal of the faithful, the world will be free to do it's own thing. Sin will abound. Some believe that thousands of Jews will be converted to Christ during this period and begin to evangelize the world144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams, as Mr. Lindsay refers to them in his sequel, There's a New World Coming.
A world leader will emerge who will promise peace, and at first seem to deliver. After 3 ½ years, though, all hell will break loose, literally, with Satan having his way on the earth by way of the Anti-Christ now ruling the globe. This second 3 ½ - year period is called the Great Tribulation. Some refer to the entire 7-year period as the tribulation.
The armies of the earth will array themselves against the nation of Israel in the northern plain of Megiddo. This is known as the battle of Armegeddon. Most believe this will be a nuclear battle and that many cities of the earth will also be destroyed during this time.
At the end of this period, Christ will return to Israel, set His foot on the mount of Olives, and begin to force His rule on the earth. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years during the period of Christ's reign on the earth (Rev. 20:16). Those righteous people martyred during the Great Tribulation will be raised and His faithful will rule the earth with Him from Jerusalem in a new temple, presumably rebuilt sometime before or during the 7-year tribulation period.
After Christ's 1,000-year reign is over, Satan will be released from his prison and go forth to gather his forces for the final battle. Before this battle can get started, Christ will end it with a bang. The entire earth as we know will be destroyed by fire. God will create a new heaven and a new earth.
This popular view is known as premillenialism, because Christ's return precedes (hence, pre) the 1,000-year reign (a millenium=1,000 years). A few folks believe that the church ushers in a 1,000-year period of peace after which Christ returns to claim His kingdom already set up by the church. That position is called postmillenialism. The third position poses that the 1,000-year reign is not a literal, fixed period of time, nor is it on earth, but it is symbolic of Christ's complete reign from heaven. This is the amillennial position.
Premillenialism is a rather involved theology and it requires much reading and studying to understand. Its complexity on the one hand and the attractive appeal of its signs and predictions on the other draw many Bible-believers into it. The reason for bringing this up here is to demonstrate some basic principles of Bible interpretation. Those of our readers who may be new to or unfamiliar with Scripture, will doubtless ask the question: Where do these ideas come from?
You will notice that except for the passage cited in Rev. 20, I have not listed any of the passages that premillenialists use to support their theory. The reason for this is that they tend to interpret visionary Scriptures literally and literal Scriptures figuratively. To list all of their reasons would go beyond the scope of our short articles. But a few examples here and in our next article should suffice to demonstrate a common-sense approach to biblical interpretation.
Most of the premillenial theology is based upon the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and most significantly, the book of Revelation. Most of the prophecies in these books are visionary and apocalyptic in nature. That is, they use symbols and visions to predict calamities inflicted by God against the unrighteous, while offering steadfast hope to the faithful that no matter how bad things get, God and His kingdom will be victorious. Visions include horses of different colors, multi-headed beasts with horns on their heads, bowls of wrath, trumpets, scorpions, animals that are part bull, part man, part eagle, part bear, and so forth. They all mean something, but what? How are they to be interpreted?
Most of Scripture, including prophecies, are not visionary at all, but are plainly and simply stated. When both a plain-spoken passage and a visionary passage deal with the same subject, common sense would dictate that the visionary passage be interpreted in the light of the plain-spoken passage. For example, when Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem, He said, The days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down (Luke 21:6). A few verses later, He gave an indication of what to look for prior to that time when He said, When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand (vs 20). As a matter of history, Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., some 40 years after Jesus predicted it. In this same discourse as it is recorded in Matt. 24, Jesus also referred to a passage in the book of Daniel that has a bearing on His prediction. He referred to something Daniel called the abomination of desolation. Modern premillenialists interpret this passage in Daniel to apply to some world-ruler in the 20th or early 21st century. Some refer to him as the Anti-Christ. But if you take the time to compare Luke 21:2021 with Matthew 24:1516, you will see that the abomination of desolation spoken of in the book of Daniel is associated with the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem. Notice:
When you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains etc.
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her destruction is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains etc.
Putting these two plain-spoken accounts together, we have a concrete interpretation from Jesus Himself of the abomination of desolation mentioned by the prophet Daniel. It was the destruction of the Jewish temple by the hated Roman Gentiles. Jesus says nothing of an anti-Christ or world-ruler, yet many ignore simple statements like this and prefer to interpret Daniel in a way that goes far beyond Jesus' own interpretation.
It stands to reason that people can be easily misled by using visionary prophecy as the basis for a theology. Yet the theology of premillenialism depends upon reverse interpretation; that is, the plain-spoken is interpreted in the light of the visionary rather than vice-versa.
Here is another example from Revelation 20, the keystone of premillenial theology. There is no question that a thousand-year reign is mentioned here, but is it a literal thousand years? Premillenialists will accuse a critter like me of not taking the Bible literally because I don't believe this to be a literal 1,000 years. Well, let's see now: In verses 12, does the angel bind Satan with a literal chain? Is Satan actually a dragon? Are Gog and Magog in verse 8 actual nations that will arise to be called by that literal name? If all these things are to be interpreted figuratively why should someone bristle if the thousand years are also figurative? Besides, we have biblical precedent for this in plain-spoken passages:
It is said in Deut. 7:9 that God keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him Does this mean He quits in the 1001st generation?
Psalm 50:10 says Every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. Does this mean that God owns only the cattle on 1,000 hills?
Here's something else: if Revelation 20 is to be taken literally then,
Only souls come alive and reign with Christ (vs 4). The text doesn't say dead people were raised, it says souls came to life.
Only those souls who had been martyred for Christ reign with Him, not all the faithful (vs 4), and if the point be pressed to its fullest, only those who had been beheaded reign with Him.
Besides these things, there is no specific verse that says this particular reign is upon the earth. So important is this missing link to the premillenial view that Hal Lindsay, in his book, There's A New World Coming actually inserts the words on earth in his quotation of Rev. 20:4. He quotes, and they lived and reigned on earth with Christ a thousand years.2 The title page of Lindsay's book indicates he uses the Living Bible, but the words on earth are not in the copy of the Living Bible that I read, nor have I been able to find any English Bible that has them. More importantly, no ancient Greek text has these words added to them. I wonder if Mr. Lindsay has taken to heart the words of Revelation 22:18: I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book
It is not sufficient to point out deficiencies and inconsistencies in another's position without offering an alternative point of view. In our next article, we will look at the non-visionary Scriptures that deal with Christ's second coming and will see that if you interpret the symbolic passages using the plain-spoken passages, the theology of premillenialism will not stand. There will be no world-ruler; there will be no 7-year tribulation, there will be no literal battle of Armageddon fought in the northern plains of Israel, and there will be no literal reign of Christ on the earth. For as we shall see in succeeding articles, Christ is a king now; he rules the earth now from His throne in heaven, and for those who may be wondering: His kingdom has already come and now is!
Lindsay, Hal. The Late Great Planet Earth, (paper back) Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1970.
Lindsay, Hal. There's a New World Coming: A Prophetic Odyssey, Vision House Publishers (paper back). Santa Ana, CA:1973. The quote is from page 272
From Growing in Grace Vol. 1 #15, October 26, 1996
I think that is a nice story but I don't believe a word of it. No offense.
"You will notice that except for the passage cited in Rev. 20, I have not listed any of the passages that premillenialists use to support their theory."
Daniel chapter 7 outlines premillenialism. vs 11 is the destruction of the "little horn" followed by the coming of the Son of Man, and THEN he receives the kingdom ... and peoples, nations, and tongues shall serve him. Since Daniel deals specifically with Earthly kingdoms, there is no reason to dismiss the notion that the Son of Man will receive anything but an Earthly kingdom.
"Putting these two plain-spoken accounts together, we have a concrete interpretation from Jesus Himself of the abomination of desolation mentioned by the prophet Daniel"
Second point. In my experience I have found that many people project a New Testament understanding back into the Old Testament to "interpret" an OT passage. A passage of scripture can never mean what it was never intended to mean to the original recipient. Luke and Matt were not in existence when Daniel penned the prophecy so Matt and Luke has no bearing on the interpretation of Daniel ...
Now Jew in Daniels day had any knowledge of the NT, so the interpretation must only include revelation given up to that point in time. To project a NT understanding into an OT passage breaks any semblence of a consistent logical interpretative framework.
While I understand Luke and Matthew were not in existence when "Daniel penned the prophecy" - God was and is. The Bible is of God.
That's not a very nice story and I don't believe a word of it.
But no matter! You will be zapped of to 'be with Christ' [whatever that means - wil it be a stadium event, or something more like an acid high?] and I will be ruled over by Satan before getting consumed in Hellish fires. Better not save for that retirement.
So why would a Jew in 600 BC interpret Daniel outside of the OT context ? Answer: He wouldnt ... nor could he.
How would a Jew in 600 BC interpret the prophecy in Dan 7? Just how it reads. He was quite familiar with Earthly kingdoms, and that is the context of Daniel. How long is the Earthly kingdom? ... it says FOREVER, not 1000 years.
The 1000 years in Rev 20 is not the kingdom, its the kickoff party, the kingdom is forever.
Neither do I.
A real problem with Premillenialism comes when you consider Christ's role as both priest and king. In Zechariah 6:12-13, a prophecy about Christ says "he shall sit and rule upon his throne; and be shall be a priest upon his throne". Hebrews 8:4 says that Christ could not act as priest while on the earth, because He did not descend from the priestly tribe of Levi(Hebrews 7:14). If Christ is unable to serve as priest on earth, yet He will serve as priest and king jointly, then His reign as king can't be an earthly reign.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
While you are correct on this, it is a matter of the old covenant vs. the new covenant. The old covenant contained faults...for example, the old covenant could not take away sins, the new covenant does. Hebrews 8:7 says, "For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second."
As Paul wrote, by Jesus being crucified, He was "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14). In my understanding, the Old Testament is a history of God's old covenant with the children of Israel, the New Testament is what we should live by and it tells us of things to come. But like any good book, you always need to read the first half of the book to understand the rest of the book, and regardless of the names of the authors of the chapters, it was divinely inspired by God and the authors were merely "ghost writers", so therefore the whole Bible is of God, as you say.
"To project a NT understanding into an OT passage breaks any semblence of a consistent logical interpretative framework."
Actually, the Early Church Fathers did it all the time. They wrote entire books "proving" that the NT was hidden in the OT. Justin the Martyr wrote "Dialogue to Trypho", Irenaeus wrote "Proof of Apostolic Preaching", etc... You are basing your ideas of interpretation on modernism. All the Scriptures point to Christ, and that is the way the Church interprets esp. OT Scripture.
Ex. Isaiah 7 and the virgin birth. No recipient Jew of this thought that this would refer to the incarnation of Christ. Ask any Jew about this passage and they will tell you the same. Only we, as Christians, look at this verse as a prophesy of the virgin birth.
I was merely point out that the author is under the misconception that the basis for premillenialism is found in Rev 20, its not, its basis is in Daniel 7.
In 2 Sam 7 the Davidic covenant is established. That references a future AND eternal kingdom. Since there can only be one eternal kingdom, the kingdom in Daniel is the awaited Davidic kingdom. The entire book of Daniel reference Earthly kingdoms, and the eternal kingdom is composed of nations, peoples, and tongues.
You cant get away from the teaching of the entire book of Daniel and an earthly kingdom by piecing together a few passages across testaments about kings and priests.
I will give you some credit though ... I have never heard this argument against premillenialism, I will have to do a little in depth work here. I appreciate the chance you have given to grow in the knowledge of scripture and wish you the same ... :-)
"You cant get away from the teaching of the entire book of Daniel and an earthly kingdom by piecing together a few passages across testaments about kings and priests."
The passage I pointed to was a prophecy about Christ. An earthly kingdom for Christ would violate that prophecy. Are you willing to say that prophecy was not valid?
Im saying I have some work to do on the matter to understand your argument. But you have a major problem in that you have to throw out the Davidic covenant to reconcile your position.
Does Christ's Kingdom exist today?