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?
Christ's Kingdom and His church are the same. There is no need for an earthly kingdom since His kingdom has already been established.
I gotta add my AMEN to that too.
But I do find it interesting that there is no mention of a 'rapture' or pre-millenialism in christian writings until around the year 1830 when John Darby popularized the teaching of Margaret Macdonald on the two-fold nature of Christ's return. It's difficult to think that the apostles wouldn't have taught more on this subject or that early writers would have picked up on it.
You ignored the Scripture passage that jkl1122 was referencing. In order to have a kingdom on this earth, the referenced Bible passage must be a lie. You can see the referenced passage for yourself. Hebrews 8:4.
In the service of the Lord,
Sorry, 1st century writing by Erasmus was discovered a few years ago ... makes reference to the rapture.
Sorry, maybe it wasnt 1st century ... I have the reference at home though ... might be 2nd or 3rd century
Do you have a source for that? I'll do some searches but I'd like to see what you have on this.
Christs kingdom exists today in the sense that the king has already come and he has subjects in the form of believers in him. But His physical Earthly kingdom, which is the future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom (an earthly kingdom), will not take place until his 2nd coming.
Yes, I would be happy to share that ... I will look it up as soon as I have occasion. It is at home in the vast array of notes and articles I have in my files. In the mean time, perhaps a google search might produce some fruit.
It might be Psuedo-Ephraim ... or something like that ... Im pretty sure Erasmus is wrong now that I ponder it.
I found a secondary source ...
Seems that Dr. Robert Gundry has written a critique of the source and supposedly "dismantled" the pretrib use of this early source. The source is dated in the 4th century.
Guntry has a book called "First The Antichrist" that will have this source listed.
I should point out that Gundry is a hard-core POST-tribulationist so his analysis should be carefully analyzed (unless youre a post-tribber yourself ... lol)
Your interpretation of Hebrews 8:4 is wrong. It clearly indicates that the things which are on this earth are merely shadows of the real things. Christ cannot possibly be a priest by administring to the shadowy things. If he was on earth, he could not be our High Priest.
In the service of the Lord,
Christ reigns over everything today. His kingdom is heaven and Earth, it is everything.
Now, there will come a day when everyone will KNOW it is his kingdom, but he is executing his reign right now; some just don't know it since he is not here in front of us.
Erasmus lived in the middle ages....unless you are speaking of a different one.
And, I don't take him very seriously on doctrinal matters.
Whoever mentioned it was probably a heretic anyway.
The rapture was never an orthodox teaching.
Be Strong in the Lord -- Ephesians 6:10-20.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Remember "Psalm 2"
Yes, He is our priest. However, Hebrews 8:4 is clear that His kingdom is not of this earth.
Yes, I was mistaken, it is Ephraim ... Erasmus' contributions were in the Greek NT text he compiled.
I stand corrected.
Heb 8.4 Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; (NASB)
I don't see any textual evidence in this passage that supports your position that His kingdom is not of this earth. It does clearly imply that He is not physically on the earth right now. But the passage doesnt really address what you are claiming.
I would go back to the Davidic covenant and claim that that covenant is not fulfilled as of yet because the eternal earthly kingdom has not been initiated as of yet.
In fact, the Abrahamic covenant has not been totally fulfilled. If you look at the promised land boundaries that God promised to Abrahams descendents, not all that area mentioned has ever been possessed by the Jewish nation. Therefore, the full land boundaries that God promised Abrahams descendents will be realized sometime in the future.
Now some may say that the advent of the NT has nullified the need for the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. But if you read Psalm 89, you cannot claim that God has replaced the Davidic covenant with something else.
The Davidic Covenant: From 2 Samuel 7 (NASB)
In this passage, Nathan the prophet is instructed by God what to say to David ...
8 "Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel.
9 "I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth.
10 "I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly,
11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.
12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; When he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,
15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.
16 "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"
17 In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
Some would say that the kingdom here is referring to some "kingdom in the heart" type of kingdom as a result of the coming of Christ. But the passage is crystal clear that Christ is not subject of this covenant. Since the Jewish nation was already established at the time, there is no good reason from this passage to think that the coming kingdom will not be an Earthly kingdom. Daniel highlights the same concept. His prophecy deals with earthly kingdoms and he states that there is an earthly forever kingdom coming ...
That kingdom on earth will be forever, its what the Jews are expecting, its what they are waiting for, its what the OT predicts, and its what we as Christians will be a part of ...
Let me get this straight. The Jews denied the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They hang onto the Old Law and customs, even though they were just a shadow of what came into being through Christ. And yet, there is an earthly kingdom coming, which is exactly what the Jews are expecting and waiting for, and they will be able to enjoy it along with Christians? That makes absolutely no sense. You are saying that those who deny Christ and those who accept Him are on even ground, and that is totally against the teaching of Scripture.
38But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
44Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. All the Law and the Prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ.
Sorry, but Erasmus wasn't first, 2nd or 3rd century. Desiderius Erasmus was 16th century.
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).
This means that the New Testament fulfilled the Old, just as you say, so I don't think we disagree on this. All I was pointing out by saying you need to read the first half to understand the rest, is that from reading the Old Testament, you gain valuable insight in order to fully understand the New Testament.
You were perfect up until the last sentence. God still has a plan for the Jews, and it involves the fulfillment of the promises in the OT to David, through Daniel, and the other prophets. So its not that Jews will be able to enjoy something with Christians, but rather we as Christians will be able to enjoy something God has promised the Jews.
Now, concerning the last sentence. No, non one who denies or rejects Christ will be part of the coming kingdom. But the nation of Israel will return (in the future) to God as a result of the events in the book of Revelation. One of Gods main purposes for those 7 years is to bring the Jews to repentance through the terrible events that will take place. The Jews that have lived and died since Christ, and who have rejected Christ ... are lost, just as anyone else since the time of Christ.
That the repentance of the Jews will take place in the future is foretold by Paul in Romans 11. Please read that chapter very carefully. You will understand. Especially when you read all the way down to verse 25 and 26.
What does it say ? ... It says that all of Israel will be saved ... Does that mean that those Jews who have already died rejecting Christ are saved ... NO ! ...
It means that sometime in the future, the entire nation of Israel will receive Christ. When will that happen? ...
I think it happens at the moment of the second coming of Christ ... Matt 24 talks about Christ coming in the clouds of heaven (just like in Daniel 7!) and that all the tribes of the earth shall mourn. Why will the tribes (and tribes refers to Israel) mourn? Because they will look upon him whom they have peirced and realize that He is and has always been their expected Messiah. Have you ever seen a Jew mourn? It will make any conversion we have experienced seem like Romper Room. The entire nation of Israel saved at that moment.
Now you see how we are enjoying the benefits of the Jews rejection, but when they finally receive Christ, it will be even better. Then we as Christians will enjoy the kingdom with them as His bride. The church will still enjoy a special relationship as His bride, but we will also share in the coming earthly eternal kingdom in which Christ will rule.
"The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. All the Law and the Prophets spoke of and pointed to Christ."
But not all the OT has been fulfilled to this day. While it is true that the coming of Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law and did away with it, there is still plenty of OT prophecies which have not come to pass yet.
What is left of prophecy to be fulfilled is the Second Coming, what the Prophets called, "the terrible Day of the Lord".
If what you are saying about Matthew 24 is true, then we have some nearly 2,000 year old people roaming this earth. Verse 34 says "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." Matthew 24:1-34 is not in reference to the second coming of Christ. They are in reference to the desctruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Starting in verse 35, and until the end of the chatper, Jesus discusses His second coming. The fact that there are two distinct events discussed in this chapter is evident with careful study.
The Israel mentioned in Romans 11:26 is referring to the spiritual Israel, or Christians. Jews will be saved just like anyone else, by believing in Christ and obeying the Gospel. There is no mention of a mass national salvation in this passage, or any others.