MILLENNIAL TEMPLE

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ISRAEL’S LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD IS ONCE MORE ACTIVE

THE TEMPLE IS REBUILT IN THE MILLENNIUM

[Expositers Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986, Vol 6, pp. 943-952]:

“These chapters [Ezekiel 40-48] have been interpreted as referring to Solomon’s temple, the temple of Zerubabbel (either real or proposed), Herod’s temple, or a future temple in the Millennium or in the eternal state. Some, having difficulty understanding the passage when taken literally, interpret the section allegorically as teaching about the church and its earthly blessings and glories, while others understand the passage to symbolize the reality of the heavenly temple where Christ ministers today.

The historical fulfillments do not fit the details of the passage. The temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, or Herod do not share the design and dimensions of the temple described in Ezekiel 40-42. The worship procedure set forth in chapters 43-46, though Mosaic in nature, had not been followed in history in exactly the manner described in these chapters. The river that flows forth from the temple in 47:1-12 has never flowed from any of the three historical temples mentioned above. The only comparisons to this river are seen in Genesis 2:8-14 and Revelation 22:1-2 (cf. Isa 35:6-7; Joel 3:18; Zech 14:8). The geographical dimensions and tribal allotments of the land are certainly not feasible today, nor have they ever been followed in times past. Geographical changes will be necessary prior to the fulfillment of chapters 45, 47-48. Therefore one would not look to historical (past or present) fulfillments of these chapters but to the future….

THE MILLENNIUM IS A PREVIEW OF BUT NOT IDENTICAL TO THE ETERNAL STATE

In light of the whole Scripture, it appears that the Millennium is like a ‘first-fruits’ of the eternal state. The Millennium will be like a preview of the eternal messianic kingdom that will be revealded fully in the eternal state. Therefore, because the two are alike in nature, they share distinct similarities. Yet because they are both different revealed time periods, they would likewise reflect some dissimilarities….

Revelation 21-22 speaks of the eternal state…. Both writers [Ezekiel and John of Revelation] receive apocalyptic visions on a high mountain with an intercepting messenger present, holding a measuring rod to measure various structures (Ezek 40:2-5; Rev 21:2, 10, 15). Both visions portray waters flowing forth toward the east, with trees alongside and leaves for healing (Ezek 47:1-7, 12; Rev 22:1-2). The names of Israel’s twelve tribes are written on the city’s twelve gates in both visions (Ezek 48:31-34; Rev 21:12), and three gates each are found on the east, south, north, and west sides of the city respectively (Ezek 48:30-35; Rev 21:15-17). The waters that flow toward the east have different sources: the temple in Ezekiel (43:7; 47:1-5) and God’s throne in the Revelation (22:1, 3). It might appear that these sources are really similar since Ezekiel maintains that God’s throne is the temple; but John, in his vision, declares that God’s throne is in Jerusalem. The temple and the city of Jerusalem are distinctly different entities in Ezekiel (45:2-4: 48:10, 15-17), and in the Revelation vision there is no temple structure (21:22; 22:3). Since a major aspect of Ezekiel 40-48 is the temple and its regulations, perhaps this would argue for Ezekiel’s discussion to reflect the Millennium more than the eternal state. The tribal allotments of Ezekiel include the sea as the western boundary (47:15-20), whereas in the Revelation John declares that the sea no longer exists (Rev 21:1). Therefore, Ezekiel’s tribal boundaries could not exist in the eternal state if the sea no longer existed. Items are discussed in each passage that are not mentioned in the other. These, of course, neither argue for similarity or dissimilarity but the dissimilarities discussed above indicate that Ezekiel’s vision is more concerned with millennial concepts than the eternal state, whereas the Revelation vision is focused on the eternal state.

The river flowing east from the temple would likewise appear to be millennial since the source is different from the Revelation passage…

It seems, therefore, that Ezekiel 40-48 may be primarily describing the millennial temple, its regulations for worship, and the tribal allotments. The Millennium is only a beginning, sort of a microcosm, of the eternal state and a transition into it….

THE MILLENNIAL TEMPLE WILL HAVE A WORSHIP SYSTEM MOSAIC IN NATURE

As previously stated, a normal grammatical-historical hermeneutic should be used when interpreting the Book of Ezekiel. In doing so, a real temple, real sacrifices, and real priests are observed functioning in the millennial context. When the sacrifices and priestly functions are closely examined, it becomes evident that they are Mosaic in nature, though omissions and modifications are present. Such an observation may cause concern since the reinstitution of a Mosaic worship system may seem contrary to NT teaching. The NT states that Jesus Christ died once and for all on the cross for all sin. There is no need for a further sacrifice for sin. Likewise, the Lord’s Table is designed to bring rememberance of the Lord’s death to the worshipers. Why go back to OT modes of worship set forth under the old covenant when the new covenant has been instituted?

In Ezekiel 37:15-28 all the covenants given to Israel would be fulfilled at the time of her restoration to the Promised Land and the institution of the messianic kingdom. This includes the Abrahamic covenant, Davidic covenant, new covanant, peace covenant, and the Mosaic covenant. The covenant formula of the Mosaic covenant – ‘they will be My people, and I will be their God’ – will be operative as Israel walks in the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, cleansed under the new covenant, and experiencing the eternal reign of her king, the Messiah, under the Davidic covenant (37:23-26; cf. Exod 19:5-6; Lev 26:12; Deut 26:18-19; Jer 30:18-22; 31:33; 32:36-40). Because Israel was in a relationship with God through the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, she had always been expected to worship the Lord in holiness. Her entire worship procedure was designed to point her to God’s holiness and to her need to be holy before Him (cf. Lev). The basic emphasis throughout Ezekiel 40-48 is on God’s holiness. The holiness of the Lord’s temple and the worship of Him are contrasted with the profaning of His name and His temple in Israel’s past worship. Israel would have a final opportunity to worship God correctly – in the purity of holiness. Such worship would demonstrate that Israel had truly been redeemed and cleansed.

Ezekiel 40-48 presents only the Hebrew perspective of millennial worship. This does not preclude other worship forms from also existing and being carried out (cf. Luke 22:18). The manifestations and functions of all God’s covenants do not contradict but rather complement one another. Therefore Israel will finally be a people of God, living and worshiping in the holiness revealed in the Mosaic stipulations. The omissions and modifications from the Mosaic system observed in Ezekiel 40-48 are undoubtedly present to enable the various aspects of the different covenants to harmonize.

THE PURPOSE OF THE MILLENNIAL TEMPLE AND TEMPLE WORSHIP IS THE SAME AS THE OLD TESTAMENT TEMPLE AND WORSHIP

One difficulty sensed by many is the need for and the purpose of a temple. Is not the presence of a temple anachronistic? However, the existence of a temple as a place of worship would be the normal concept from an OT perspective (cf. 2 Sam 7:12-16; 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chron 6:14-7:16; 29:1-30:27; Ps 132). Likewise, without a temple complex sacrifices could not be offered properly. Therefore the temple would be necessary for worship (Ezek 43-46).

Ezekiel sets forth two major purposes for the millennial temple. First, the temple will provide a throne for God among His people (43:6-7), the residency of His glory (43:1-12) from which He will rule over His people. Second the temple complex will reflect God’s holiness by its walls of separation, various courts, and temple divisions (40:5; 42:14-20). The design of the structure will cause the people of that day to be ashamed of their iniquities….

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MILLENNIAL TEMPLE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM AND CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK ON THE CROSS

A second major difficulty is the relationship between Ezekiel’s sacrificial system and the NT teaching of Christ’s death as a finished and complete work for sin….

Most stated aspects of the worship procedure in Ezekiel are like those of the Mosaic system….

It is important to observe that millennial sacrifices are discussed elsewhere in the OT prophets (Isa 56:5-7; 60:7, 13; 66:20-23; Jer 33:15-22; Zech 14:16-21). The concept is not unique to Ezekiel.

The question whether these sacrifices are efficacious is crucial. It is important to remember that the Mosaic covenant was given to a people who had already entered into a relationship with the Lord in the Abrahamic covenant. The Mosaic covenant was not given to bring one into a relationship with God but to demonstrate how one in that relationship was to live holy before Him. True worship grows out of a personal relationship with God.

The Mosaic worship system, therefore, was to be used by those in a relationship with God. Never did the sacrifices and offerings deliver one from sin. They were never efficacious for the Israelite or anyone else. Rather, the sacrifices were picture lessons and types of the Messiah’s work whereby He would atone for all sins in a propitious manner through the sacrifice of His own blood once and for all. The sin and guilt (compensation) offerings were reminders of one’s personal inherent sin and the need for cleansing from that sinfulness by the shedding of innocent blood. These offerings were observed much in the sense in which a believer today confesses his sin (1 John 1:9) in light of the finished work of Christ for sin. The believer’s confession is not efficacious. It is only Christ’s finished work that provides forgiveness of sin [1 Jn 1:7]. Confession, however, reminds the believer that he has sinned and that the sin has been forgiven by Christ’s blood. [and it resotres his fellowship with God, (1 Jn 1:3-4)] The sin and guilt offerings, therefore, reminded the Israelite that he was sinful and that he needed the Messiah’s innocent blood, typified in the animal, to cleanse him of his sin and to bring forgiveness from God.

The burnt offering pictured the offerers’ commitment to the Lord. It was voluntary, even as commitment is today. The burnt offerings required daily and at other festivals were constant reminders that the Israelites needed to be totally committed to their Lord.

The fellowship offering reflected the offerers’ thanksgiving to God and the peace that existed between them and God. Certainly believers today are to express their thankfulness to God for the various blessings bestowed on them because of their relationship with the Lord.

The sacrifices of the Mosaic system were never efficacious. Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was efficacious. The offerings of the Levitical system were continual picture lessons and types of the work the Messiah would accomplish and the holy manner in which the Israelites were to walk…

The sacrificial animal could not offer an efficacious ransom; rather, the atonement sacrifice was only a picture lesson of Christ’s finished work… the concept would be the same as that in the Mosaic system: a picture lesson of the ultimate atoning work of Christ when He would pay the ransom price of His blood to atone for sin and provide forgiveness of sin once and for all…

The Mosaic Day of Atonement for sin (cf. Lev 16:21-22, 30, 34) occurred annually in OT times, but it would not be observed in the Millennium. However, sin would still occur in the Millennium among the house of Israel, people who had natural bodies with a sin nature. Therefore the atonement offerings for the leader and the people would be a marvelous picture lesson and reminder of the work that the Messiah accomplished on the cross to enable their sin to be forgiven. It would also remind them that they were sinful people who needed that redemption provided through the innocent blood of Christ. But the sacrifices in Ezekiel are memorials of Christ’s work even as the Mosaic sacrifices were picture lessons and types of the work He would do. Neither is efficacious, (Compare Heb 7-10).

Consequently, the sacrifices in the millennial sacrificial system of Ezekiel appear to be only memorials of Christ’s finished work and pictorial reminders that mankind by nature is sinful and in need of redemption from sin. Not only is this view substantiated by comparison with the Mosaic covenant in which the sacrifices were picture lessons and types, but it is also confirmed by the writer of Hebrews as observed above.

Priests will be necessary in the millennial worship-system to conduct the sacrifices for the leader and the people. In addition priests will carry out all the necessary ministries of the temple. The main role of the priests, however, will be to demonstrate to everyone in the Millennium the distinction between the holy and the profane (Ezek 44).

HOW WILL THE GENTILES AND THE CHURCH RELATE TO THIS WORSHIP SYSTEM WITH ITS OLD TESTAMENT MODES?

How will the Gentiles and the church relate to this worship system with its OT modes? As noted above, nothing prohibits a Gentile or a church believer from joining the worship in commemoration of Christ’s finished work. In addition, the church will also celebrate the Lord’s Table. All these reminders of Christ’s great work of redemption will be a constant avenue of worship for all the people of God who desire to worship the Lord (cf. Eph 2:14-16)….”

THE PHYSCIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MILLENNIAL TEMPLE

EZE 40:5

“I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high.

6 Then he went to the gate facing east. He climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the gate; it was one rod deep.

7 The alcoves for the guards were one rod long and one rod wide, and the projecting walls between the alcoves were five cubits thick. And the threshold of the gate next to the portico facing the temple was one rod deep.

EZE 40:8 Then he measured the portico of the gateway;

9 it was eight cubits deep and its jambs were two cubits thick. The portico of the gateway faced the temple.

10 Inside the east gate were three alcoves on each side; the three had the same measurements, and the faces of the projecting walls on each side had the same measurements.

11 Then he measured the width of the entrance to the gateway; it was ten cubits and its length was thirteen cubits.

12 In front of each alcove was a wall one cubit high, and the alcoves were six cubits square.

13 Then he measured the gateway from the top of the rear wall of one alcove to the top of the opposite one; the distance was twenty-five cubits from one parapet opening to the opposite one.

14 He measured along the faces of the projecting walls all around the inside of the gateway–sixty cubits. The measurement was up to the portico facing the courtyard.

15 The distance from the entrance of the gateway to the far end of its portico was fifty cubits.

16 The alcoves and the projecting walls inside the gateway were surmounted by narrow parapet openings all around, as was the portico; the openings all around faced inward. The faces of the projecting walls were decorated with palm trees.

EZE 40:17 Then he brought me into the outer court. There I saw some rooms and a pavement that had been constructed all around the court; there were thirty rooms along the pavement.

18 It abutted the sides of the gateways and was as wide as they were long; this was the lower pavement.

19 Then he measured the distance from the inside of the lower gateway to the outside of the inner court; it was a hundred cubits on the east side as well as on the north.

EZE 40:20 Then he measured the length and width of the gate facing north, leading into the outer court.

21 Its alcoves–three on each side–its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as those of the first gateway. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide.

22 Its openings, its portico and its palm tree decorations had the same measurements as those of the gate facing east. Seven steps led up to it, with its portico opposite them.

23 There was a gate to the inner court facing the north gate, just as there was on the east. He measured from one gate to the opposite one; it was a hundred cubits.

EZE 40:24 Then he led me to the south side and I saw a gate facing south. He measured its jambs and its portico, and they had the same measurements as the others.

25 The gateway and its portico had narrow openings all around, like the openings of the others. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide.

26 Seven steps led up to it, with its portico opposite them; it had palm tree decorations on the faces of the projecting walls on each side.

27 The inner court also had a gate facing south, and he measured from this gate to the outer gate on the south side; it was a hundred cubits.

ISRAEL’S PRIESTHOOD SERVES IN THIS TEMPLE

EZE 40:44 Outside the inner gate, within the inner court, were two rooms, one at the side of the north gate and facing south, and another at the side of the south gate and facing north.

45 He said to me, “The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple,

46 and the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the LORD to minister before him.”

EZE 42:13 Then he said to me, “The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests’ rooms, where the priests who approach the LORD will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings–the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings–for the place is holy.

14 Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people.”

Eschatology

By Kenneth J. Morgan

Introduction

Eschatology is that branch of systematic theology that studies the doctrine of last things–that is, future events prophesied or otherwise described in the Bible. It breaks into two parts: personal eschatology and general eschatology.

  • Personal eschatology: the study of the future of individuals; specifically, the doctrines of death, the intermediate state, the nature of the resurrection, and hell, the final destiny of the wicked.
  • General eschatology: the study of future events on a national and global level; specifically, the doctrines of the tribulation, the return of Christ, the rapture, the millennium, the time and extent of the resurrections and judgments, and the eternal state.

There is in general far more debate among theologians regarding general eschatology than over personal eschatology, and the focal point of this debate is the doctrine of the millennium. One’s view of the millennium to a large extent determines his view on the other issues of general eschatology.

The text at the center of the controversy is Revelation 20:1-6:

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

The Meaning of the Word Millennium

The word millennium is formed from two Latin words, mille, “thousand,” and annus, “year,” anglicized in a way similar to “biennium” and “triennium.” Jerome in the Vulgate translated the Greek in verse 6 as regnaverunt cum Christo mille annis, “reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Of course the New Testament was originally written in Greek, so John actually wrote this expression as βαςιλευσουσιν μετ αυτου χιλια ετη, “reigned with him a thousand years.” The Greek word “thousand” is χιλιας, chilias. Therefore, belief in a millennial reign is called either millennialism or chiliasm.

The purpose of these notes is to contrast the views of postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism by direct appeal to representative advocates of each view. The primary sources are as follows:

Postmillennialism: A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology (1907)

Amillennialism: L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology (1941)

Premillenialism:

  • Historic form: Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ (1937)
  • Dispensational form: J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (1958)

Postmillennialism

There have been several variations of postmillennialism, including a liberal version which was essentially social Darwinism.  Conservative versions of postmillennialism are represented by such men as David Brown (the Brown from the Jamison, Fauccett, and Brown commentary), Loraine Boettner, Iain Murray, J. Marcellus Kik, Robert L. Dabney, Rousas J. Rushdoony, and the primary source quoted in this paper, Augustus Hopkins Strong.

Definition

The literal meaning of the term postmillennialism is that Christ will return “after the millennium.”  The millennium, or thousand years of Revelation 20, is probably figurative of a long period of time preceding the second advent.  During this period, the gospel will triumph more and more over the nations and will introduce and establish a reign of peace which will endure until Christ returns for the final  judgment.  At the second advent, Christ will immediately conduct the general resurrection and judgment and then usher in the eternal state of the new heavens and the new earth.

Signs or Events Preceding the Second Advent

The following points are enumerated by Strong (pp. 1008-1010) under the heading, “The precursors of Christ’s coming.”

  1. “Through the preaching of this gospel in all the world, the kingdom of Christ is steadily to enlarge its boundaries, until Jews and Gentiles alike become possessed of its blessings, and a millennial period is introduced in which Christianity generally prevails throughout the earth.”  Strong cites Dan. 2:44, 45; Matt. 13:31, 32; and 24:14 here.
  2. “There will be a corresponding development of evil, either extensive or intensive, whose character shall be manifest not only in deceiving many professed followers of Christ and in persecuting true believers, but in constituting a personal Antichrist as its representative and object of worship.  This rapid growth shall continue until the millennium, during which evil, in the person of its chief, shall be temporarily restrained.”  Here he cites Matt. 13:30, 38; and 24:5, 11, 12, 24.
  3. “At the close of the millennial period, evil will again be permitted to exert its utmost power in a final conflict with righteousness.  This spiritual struggle, moreover, will be accompanied by political convolutions, and by fearful indications of desolation in the natural world.”  For this point Strong cites Matt. 24:29, 30.

Amillennialism

Although men like R. J. Rushdoony have done much in reviving and popularizing postmillennialism today, amillennialism probably still represents the majority viewpoint in Presbyterian and Reformed circles. The Bible and the Future, by Anthony Hoekema of Calvin Seminary, an outstanding recent book that treats the entire subject of eschatology, personal and general, presents a thorough exposition and defense of mainstream amillennialism.

Definition

The literal meaning of the term amillennialism is “no millennium.”  This is a misnomer, for this view generally, though not always, holds that the millennium, or thousand years of Revelation 20, represents the entire interadvent period.  Christ may return during any generation, after a brief but terrible period of tribulation, and will immediately conduct the general resurrection and judgment and then usher in the eternal state of the new heavens and the new earth.

Signs or Events Preceding the Second Advent

Under the heading, “Great Events Preceding the Parousia” (pp. 696-703), Berkhof writes, “According to Scripture several important events must occur before the return of the Lord, and therefore it cannot be called imminent.  In the light of Scripture it cannot be maintained that there are no predicted events which must still come to pass before the second coming. . .Now the question can be raised, How can we then be urged to watch for the coming?  Jesus teaches us in Matt. 24:32, 33 to watch for the coming through the signs: ‘when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh.’  Moreover, we need not interpret the exhortation to watch as an exhortation to scan the heavens for immediate signs of the Lord’s appearance.  We should rather see in it an admonition to be awake, to be alert, to be prepared, to be active in the work of the Lord, lest we be overtaken by sudden calamity.  The following great events must precede the coming of the Lord.”  Here are the events Berkhof enumerates:

  1. “The calling of the Gentiles.” Berkhof cites Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10; and Rom. 11:25 to the effect that “the gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all nations before the return of the Lord.”  He points out, however, that this does not mean “that all the nations as a whole accept the gospel, but only that it will find adherents in all the nations and will thus be instrumental in bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles.”
  2. “The conversion of the pleroma [fulness, completeness] of Israel.”  Berkhof cites Zech. 12:10; 13:1; 2 Cor. 3:15, 16; and Rom. 11:25-29 in this connection.  It must be pointed out that Berkhof does not see a restoration of the nation of Israel in the land of Palestine.
  3. “The great apostasy and the great tribulation.”  Here Berkhof writes, “These two may be mentioned together, because they are interwoven in the eschatological discourse of Jesus, Matt. 24:9-12, 21-24; Mark 13:9-22; Luke 21:22-24.  The words of Jesus undoubtedly found a partial fulfilment in the days preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, but will evidently have a further fulfilment in the future in a tribulation far surpassing anything that has ever been experienced, Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19.  Paul also speaks of the great apostasy in II Thess. 2:3; I Tim. 4:1; II Tim. 3:1-5.”
  4. “The coming revelation of Antichrist.”  Berkhof has a long discussion of the various interpretations of “antichrist”, “man of sin”, and “son of perdition” (see 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7; Dan. 7:8, 23-26; and 2 Thess. 2:3-4).  While some amillenarians take the view that “antichrist” is a system, such as the papacy, Berkhof finally draws the following conclusion: “The more general opinion of the Church, however, is that in the last analysis the term “Antichrist” denotes an eschatological person, who will be the incarnation of all wickedness and therefore represents a spirit which is always more or less present in the world, and who has several precursors or types in history.  This view prevailed in the early Church and would seem to be the Scriptural view.”
  5. “Signs and wonders.”  Here are Berkhof’s comments: “The Bible speaks of several signs that will be harbingers of the end of the world and of the coming of Christ.  It mentions (a) wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes in various places, which are called the beginning of travail, the travail, as it were, of the rebirth of the universe at the time of the coming of Christ; (b) the coming of false prophets, who will lead many astray, and of false Christs, who will show great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect; and (c) of fearful portents in heaven involving sun, moon, and stars, when the powers of the heavens will be shaken, Matt. 24:29, 30; Mark 13:24, 25; Luke 21:25, 26.”

Premillennialism

Today premillennialism exists in two forms: dispensational premillennialism and what might be called historic premillennialism.  This naming scheme implies that the dispensational formulation of premillennialism is of recent origin, in fact dating back only to the time of John N. Darby in the nineteenth century.  Dispensationalists are particularly sensitive to the charge that the theory originated with Darby, for then it could not have been the teaching of the Apostles and early Church.  Nevertheless, the terminology “historic premillennialism” is used by almost everyone.

There are slight differences in emphasis within historic premillennialism.

  1. When it is coupled with the doctrine of the covenant of grace in Presbyterian and Reformed circles, it is called “covenant premillennialism.” D. H. Kromminga is a rare advocate of covenant premillennialism within the Christian Reformed Church, a body which is almost entirely amillennial (both Berkhof and Hoekema were members of the CRC). However, the most prolific writer and scholar representing covenant premillennialism today is George Eldon Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary.
  2. Historic premillennialism is even more rare within Lutheran circles than within Reformed circles. Joseph A. Seiss of the nineteenth century and John Warwick Montgomery today, however, do hold to a form of premillennialism.
  3. Probably the largest group of scholars that advocate historic premillennialism is from evangelical circles that are neither Reformed nor Lutheran. Men such as Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and Robert H. Gundry would be examples.

Dispensationalism may be traced to John N. Darby and a branch of the Plymouth Brethren movement in England, but it was popularized in this country by the Scofield Reference Bible, edited by C. I. Scofield.  It was carefully worked into a coherent system of theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer, founding president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in his ten-volume work Systematic Theology.  Some of the best known advocates are John F. Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, J. Dwight Pentecost, all of Dallas Seminary, and Alva J. McClain of Grace Theological Seminary.  Hal Lindsey is also a dispensationalist, but his speculations do not represent the mainstream.Dispensationalism may be traced to John N. Darby and a branch of the Plymouth Brethren movement in England, but it was popularized in this country by the Scofield Reference Bible, edited by C. I. Scofield.  It was carefully worked into a coherent system of theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer, founding president of Dallas Theological Seminary, in his ten-volume work Systematic Theology.  Some of the best known advocates are John F. Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, J. Dwight Pentecost, all of Dallas Seminary, and Alva J. McClain of Grace Theological Seminary.  Hal Lindsey is also a dispensationalist, but his speculations do not represent the mainstream.

Despite substantive differences between premillennialism in its historic and dispensational forms, a definition of premillennialism is possible which represents the common core of both systems.

Definition

The literal meaning of the term premillennialism is that Christ will return “before the millennium.”  The millennium, or thousand years of Revelation 20, is a literal period of time.  The millennium is immediately preceded by a period of tribulation with much of the world under the power of a personal Antichrist. Christ may return during any generation, at which time he defeats the Antichrist, raises the righteous dead, and reigns on the earth for 1000 years. When the thousand years are completed, he will raise the wicked dead, judge them, and usher in the eternal state of the new heavens and the new earth.

Signs or Events Preceding the Second Advent

The differences between historic and dispensational premillennialism surface when the signs and events that precede the second advent are considered.

Dispensational Premillennialism

Dispensationalism is not essentially a system of eschatology, and therefore it does not represent a fourth system of millennialism.  Dispensational theology is premillennial, but there is a marked difference between the dispensational version and the historic version.  The “dispensations” refer to specific economies of God which he administered during specific periods of time.  Scofield divided history into seven such periods of time.  However, the essence of dispensationalism does not lie in its view of history.  Instead, it is the notion that God has two separate programs in the Bible for two separate peoples of God, Israel and the Church.  Here is a summary of the scheme:

  1. The Old Testament, the Gospels, and with some varieties, part of Acts, deal with God’s prophetic program that centers on the people and nation of Israel.
  2. When Israel in the New Testament rejected Christ and the gospel of the kingdom, the nation as such was temporarily set aside, and God began a new, previously unrevealed, unprophesied program that centers on the Body of Christ, the Church, and the gospel of the grace of God.
  3. At the close of the present Church dispensation, the prophetic program dealing with Israel and described in the Old Testament will continue where it left off and again take up its predicted course.  Here, then, is the distinctive feature of dispensational premillennialism: there are two phases of the second advent.
  4. First there is the imminent return of Christ (without any signs) “in the air” to rapture out his Church from the world (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
  5. The prophetic program will then continue with Israel reestablished as a nation in the land of Palestine, with the period of great tribulation, and with the revelation of the Antichrist, all subjects of prophecy.
  6. At the end of the tribulation (often put at seven years), Christ will return to earth with his Church and establish his kingdom in Jerusalem for 1000 years.  It is this phase of the second advent, then, which will be preceded by the signs discussed in some detail by Berkhof as quoted above.  From this point on, dispensational premillennialism and historic premillennialism coincide as described in the above definition of premillennialism.

Historic Premillennialism

Possibly the best and most concise summary of historic premillennialism is found in The Approaching Advent of Christ by Alexander Reese.  This book was written to defend premillennialism specifically in view of the (then) recent innovative reformulation of it within dispensational circles.  Reese begins his book with the following words:

Until the second quarter of the nineteenth century general agreement existed among pre-millennial advocates of our Lord’s Coming concerning the main outlines of the prophetic future: amidst differences of opinion on the interpretation of the Apocalypse and other portions of Scripture, the following scheme stood out as fairly representative of the school:–

(1) The approaching Advent of Christ to this world will be visible, personal, and glorious.

(2) This Advent, though in itself a single crisis, will be accompanied and followed by a variety of phenomena bearing upon the history of the Church, of Israel, and the world.  Believers who survive till the Advent will be transfigured and translated to meet the approaching Lord, together with the saints raised and changed at the first resurrection.  Immediately following this, Antichrist and his allies will be slain, and Israel, the covenant people, will repent and be saved, by looking upon Him whom they pierced.

(3) Thereupon the Messianic Kingdom of prophecy, which, as the Apocalypse informs us, will last for a thousand years, will be established in power and great glory in a transfigured world.  The nations will turn to God, war and oppression cease, and righteousness and peace cover the earth.

(4) At the conclusion of the kingly rule of Christ and His saints, the rest of the dead will be raised, the Last Judgment ensue, and a new and eternal world be created.

(5) No distinction was made between the Coming of our Lord, and His Appearing, Revelation, and Day, because these were all held to be synonymous, or at least related, terms, signifying always the one Advent in glory at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom.

(6) Whilst the Coming of Christ, no matter how long the present dispensation may last, is the true and proper hope of the Church in every generation, it is nevertheless conditioned by the prior fulfilment of certain signs or events in the history of the Kingdom of God: the Gospel has first to be preached to all nations; the Apostasy and the Man of Sin be revealed, and the Great Tribulation come to pass.  Then shall the Lord come.

(7) The Church of Christ will not be removed from the earth until the Advent of Christ at the very end of the present Age: the Rapture and the Appearing take place at the same crisis; hence Christians of that generation will be exposed to the final affliction under Antichrist.

Reese goes on to comment, “Such is a fair statement of the fundamentals of Pre-millennialism as it has obtained since the close of the Apostolic Age.  There have been differences of opinion on details and subsidiary points, but the main outline is as I have given it.”  He continues, “These views were held in the main by Irenaeus, the ‘grand-pupil’ of the Apostle John, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and the primitive Christians generally until the rise of the Catholic, political Church in the West, and of allegorical exegesis at Alexandria.”  In the last three centuries, historic premillennialism has been the view of such men as Mede, Bengel, Alford, David Baron, Ryle, Tregelles, Bonar, Ellicott, Kellogg, Moorehead, Trench, Auberlen, Bleek, Delitzsch, DeWette, Ebrard, Ewald, Godet, Lange, and Zahn.

Shame

Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries

PHI 3:19 Whose termination is destruction, whose god is their emotion, and whose glory is in their shame…

As we continue our study of Philippians chapter three, we have been studying the doctrine of the reversionistic loser believer, and we have come to the third characteristic of the reversionist with the phrase “whose glory is in their shame.”

The Doctrine of Shame

Point 1: Introduction. Feelings of shame will be the unfortunate experience of many born-again believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ after the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture (resurrection) of the Church, every believer is assembled at the event known as the Big Genuflex, PHI 2:9-11, ROM 14:10-12. At this time, the entire Royal Family of God will identify Jesus Christ as the Head of the family, to the glory of God the Father. (To “genuflect” means to bend the knee in worship, to be humbly obedient and respectful.) At this time, all members of the Church in their resurrection bodies will make a formal acknowledgment of the Father’s function in the resurrection, ascension and session of Christ. The Big Genuflex occurs immediately after the Rapture and before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

ROM 14:10-12 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of God. For it is written, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’” So then [or literally, after that] each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

PHI 2:9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name [title] which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus Christ becomes your Lord at salvation, irregardless of your lifestyle, when you are entered into union with Him through the baptism of the Spirit. However, we do not have full cognizance of the lordship of Christ until we advance to spiritual maturity. During our lifetime, the lordship of Christ is really a matter of our priorities. If Bible doctrine is most important in our life, then Jesus Christ has highest priority as our Lord, for Bible doctrine is the thinking of Christ. If not, we become losers and will not recognize Jesus Christ as Lord until we are in a resurrection body. Our time of glory then, will be a time of shame, only momentarily, but still a time of shame and regret.

PHI 2:11a And that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…

After this unforgettable moment, there will no longer be any equality in the Royal Family of God. The Big Genuflex is the moment of maximum perfect happiness (“+H”), which will be perpetuated forever. Following the Big Genuflex, however, is the Judgment Seat of Christ, in which tremendous differences will be seen among believers in resurrection bodies-some with fantastic decorations, but most with nothing to show for their entire life on earth.

The chronology of events so far looks like this:

1. The Rapture, 1CO 15:51-58, 1TH 4:13-18.

2. The Big Genuflex, PHI 2:9-11.

3. The Judgment Seat of Christ (during which the Tribulation occurs on earth), 2CO 5:10, ROM 14:10.

The Big Genuflex is the interim event between the Rapture and the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is a time of total appreciation and glorification of the Father’s plan and the recognition of our Lord’s battlefield royalty, which was bestowed on Him at His session. Our Lord‘s royalty demands the resurrection of His Royal Family. We must have a resurrection body as He does because we are His Bride and His family.

However, this great moment of emotion and joy is followed by the Judgment Seat of Christ, at which the loser believer’s glory will become an experience of shame and regret. Winner believers fulfill their happiness by receiving their eternal rewards and decorations, whereas, in PHI 3:19, loser believers, in what would have been their time of glory, will be regretting their lost opportunities. Many will say “I could have, but I didn’t!” Perhaps PRO 5:12-13 will come to their minds: “And you say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! And I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!’” Remember, however, that even the worst loser of all will never lose the permanent perfect happiness of God for all eternity, even though he received no rewards because of his failure to live the spiritual life in time.

1CO 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

This moment will be the fulfillment of all the Bible doctrine we have perceived, metabolized, and applied, and the realization of the purpose of our new birth. We will each personally praise the strategic victory of the angelic conflict and relate it to our very purpose for living.

A complete look at the chronology is as follows:

1. The Rapture, 1CO 15:51-58, 1TH 4:13-18.

2. The Big Genuflex, PHI 2:9-11.

3. The Judgment Seat of Christ, 2CO 5:10, ROM 14:10. (Will your time of glory be a time of shame and regret or a time of thankfulness for the decisions you made in this life?)

4. The return of Christ with His Bride at the Second Advent, 1Th 3:13, REV 19:11-20:6.

5. The manifestation of the Bride, ROM 8:19, COL 3:4.

6. Operation Footstool, PSA 110:1, ZEC 13:2, COL 2:15, 1CO 15:24-25.

7. The coronation of Christ, REV 19:6.

8. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb, REV 19:7-9.

Point 2: The Shame of the Loser Believer in Time.

2TI 4:6-8 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

There is an embarrassment for the believer who fails to fulfill God’s plan under spiritual freedom and the principle of equal privilege and equal opportunity. This is the result of rejection of such passages as&ldots;

JOH 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

LUK 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate ["miseo," or "love less"] his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

JOH 12:43 “For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” (They refused to go “against the grain” and followed the world.)

ACT 5:29 “We must obey God rather than men.” (The loser allows people to intimidate him rather than obeying God. This can include anyone in authority, be it the pastor, boss, husband, parents, or anyone else who has authority in any realm. Adam was cursed when he allowed his wife to manipulate him into making a spiritual decision that he knew was wrong, 1TI 2:14, and Saul was cursed when he allowed the people to pressure him into violating God’s Word, 1SA 15:11.)

The embarrassment and shame of many believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the result of listening to human viewpoint rather than divine viewpoint. They listened to the voice of men in time rather than the voice of God.

When the believer experiences shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ, there is no way to make amends or correct the wrong; it will be too late. The point is-don’t wait until it’s too late! As long as you are still alive, God still has plans for you. Regret for time wasted can become a motivation for the time that remains. And again, the shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ is only a temporary shame; there is no sorrow in the eternal state.

Christian losers are believers who fail to execute the predesigned plan of God in time, even though they had equal opportunity to do so. Loser believers have no glory other than their resurrection body and no blessing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is the result of the wrong set of priorities and the wrong scale of values. They will not have what the “twenty-four elders” in revelation had-crowns to cast at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.

REV 4:10-11 The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him Who sits on the throne, and will worship Him Who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne [what a great privilege!], saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

Believers who will have shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ are described under at least seven categories in the New Testament.

1. The believer who has “drifted off course from grace,” GAL 5:4. He began in grace (at salvation), but then allowed himself to be deceived.

2. The believer who “comes short of the grace of God,” through forms of backsliding such as bitterness, HEB 12:15.

3. The “lukewarm” believer, REV 3:15-16.

4. The “shipwrecked” believer, 1TI 1:19.

5. The “double-minded” (psycho) believer, JAM 1:8.

6. The believer who fails to metabolize doctrine, JAM 1:22-24.

7. The “enemy of the Cross,” PHI 3:18-19.

The loser believer lives out his life in a state of irrationality under the control of his own emotions. He lives in fear of what others are trying to do to him, in a lifestyle of insecurity and instability.

There are at least five categories of the emotion complex of sins that cause the most problems and distractions for the loser believer. These sins produce an emotional reaction that results in an irrational distraction from God’s plan.

1. Hysteria-characterized by fear, worry, anxiety, panic, confusion, irrationality, dislocation, and garbage in the subconscious.

2. Hatred-characterized by anger, hatred, bitter jealousy, loathing, animosity, vulnerability to imagined insults or injury, implacability, malice, tantrums, irrational violence, and even murder.

3. Self-centeredness (the arrogance skills), including self-justification, self-deception, and self-absorption-characterized by arrogant self-righteousness, egotistical irrationality, hypersensitivity (concerning self) and insensitivity (concerning others), projection, denial, self-pity, and whining.

4. Reaction, which combines the arrogance complex of sins with the emotion complex of sins-characterized by jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, vilification, vituperation, malice, revenge motivation and operation, and inordinate ambition and inordinate competition (and Bible doctrine, not psychology, is the answer).

5. Guilt, a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some real or imagined offense. Religion in general functions by producing guilt in its adherents, which is not the Christian way of life. Guilt is a sin related to repression, which is rejection from the soul of anything that is painful or disagreeable. When you fall into the sin of guilt, you have succumbed to the greatest weakness in your soul. The most helpless and mosty easily manipulated people in the world are those that live under guilt.

1CO 15:34 Come to your senses [dikaios] righteously [or awake to righteousness] and stop sinning [referring to a specific sin, which Paul will now mention]; for some [believers] have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. [In other words, wake up and understand why you are here after salvation!]

All believers are given God’s very own righteousness at the point of salvation as capacity for blessing in “lag time” until we begin to grow spiritually. This gives us capacity to enjoy lesser blessings in life, such as logistical grace blessings, which provide everything we need to continue in this life and which serve as motivation to keep advancing in the spiritual life. At salvation, God the Holy Spirit entered us into union with Christ, and we now share His righteousness. This is our “wall of fire” (Zec 2:5), our protection.

Volition, not environment or circumstances, is the issue in our spiritual life, and the question for all God’s people is, “What are you going to do with all the spiritual assets God has provided for you?” This is revealed by our attitude toward the Word of God and the constant inculcation of Bible doctrine in our souls. The filling of the Holy Spirit has given us all equal ability to understand Bible doctrine, which is the only means (HEB 11:6) of avoiding shame in the “day of Christ.”

PHI 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

1JO 2:28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

The Seat Of Satan Is Now In Berlin

The Pergamon Altar at the Pergamon Museum in B...

The Pergamon Altar at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Berlin – Pergamon Altar at Pergamon M...

English: Berlin – Pergamon Altar at Pergamon Museum Dansk: Pergamon-alteret på Pergamonmuseet i Berlin Deutsch: Pergamonaltar im Pergamonmuseum Magyar: A pergamoni oltár rekonstrukciója (Pergamon Múzeum, Berlin, Németország) Nederlands: Het beroemde Zeusaltaar van Pergamon (Pergamonmuseum, Berlijn). Polski: Ołtarz pergamoński Türkçe: Pergamon Büyük Altarı, Berlin 中文: 帕加马大祭坛,现藏柏林帕加马博物馆 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mussolini (left) and Hitler sent their armies ...

Mussolini (left) and Hitler sent their armies to North Africa and into Egypt against the British (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Seat of S.a.tan. Where Was It? Where Is It Now? Why It Must Be Restored.
By Apostle Moshe Yoseph Koniuchowsky
12-15-07
The throne that represented Greek polytheism will soon be rededicated to represent false monotheism. Read Gilyahna 2:12-17. Remember that the 7 letters are written to 7 congregations sitting at the brink of the Great Tribulation.
12 And to the teaching overseer of the congregation in Beth Togarmah write; These things says He who has the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know your mitzvoth, and where you dwell, even where s.a.tan’s seat is: and you hold fast to My Name, 1 and have not denied the emunah in Me, even in those days when Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where s.a.tan dwells. 2 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the teaching of Bilam, who taught Balaq to cast a stumbling block before the children of Yisrael, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. 3 15 So have you also those that hold the teaching of the Nikolite , (Islam’s clerics and their religious hierarchy) which teaching I hate. 16 Make teshuvah; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Yahshua coming to destroy Islam’s power.) 17 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach says to the Yisraelite congregations; (The warning about s.a.tan’s throne, is for ALL congregations and ALL believers.)
To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone , (Islam has a black stone, the Kabbah-Allah in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia) and in the stone a renewed name written, which no man knows other than he that receives it. (The promise is to those who overcome Islam’s end time march.)
Second Corintyah/Corinthians 4:3-4 s.a.tan is the fallen elohim of this world. Thus while he roams the earth to and fro, he has a base of operations. It is from this base, that he has used both apostate Christianity and Islam to deceive and corrupt the true love of YHWH. In the latter days, s.a.tan is preparing to move his visible throne BACK to Turkey, to revive the Ottoman Empire, as Islam seeks to dominate the world again.
Beth Togarmah-APERGAMOS. PERGAMUM WAS THE CENTER OF ALL PAGAN WORSHIP IN THE ANCIENT WORLD. The famous Altar of Zeus in Pergamom is on the south of the theater. Eumenes II (197-159 BC) constructed it as a memorial of the victory against the Galatians.
This Altar has the shape of a horseshoe and its dimensions are 36.44 x 34.20 m. It is composed of four parts and the high reliefs on it describe the war between the giants and the gods. The Altar which was taken away from Pergamom in 1871 and carried to Germany by the German engineer Carl Humann, is exhibited at the Museum of Pergamum in Berlin, in a manner conforming to its original. Today the Turkish government is trying to get it back from Germany bringing the issue to the international court. Inside Pergamom, there is the Temple of Serapis, built for the Egyptian

 

1 A congregation that honors the true Name. 2 A reference to modern day Turkey the seat of the final revived Islamic beast empire. This was the location of the last world Islamic empire. Note that s.a.tan dwells in the former capital of Islam. 3 Further validation of the Yisraelite makeup of this congregation. The seat of all idolatry and blasphemy.
Gods in the 2nd century CE. and called the Red Courtyard by the locals. This is a basilica shaped building constructed under the reign of Hadrian; then, in the 4th century, it was converted into a church dedicated to St. John and it was one of the seven congregations of Revelation, where s.a.tan’s seat was and remains.
When Islam and their false monotheism came on the scene in Turkey, they wanted it moved elsewhere. Today, as we’ll soon see, the Turkish gov’t wants it back, as prophecy predicts that the anti messiah’s throne will be in Pergamos in modern Turkey and the head of the beast empire will be Mecca/Saudi Arabia. Let’s study…….
Pergamum: Altar to Zeus (see above) An altar to the god Zeus was one of the most impressive structures on Pergamum’s acropolis. The altar’s stairs, columns, and sculptured sides once stood forty feet high. Today only the steps around the altar’s base can be seen. The sides of the altar were ornamented with marble panels that depicted a mythical battle between the Greek gods and the rebellious giants, who were the sons of mother earth. The altar was built several centuries before Moshaich, in order to commemorate the victories of the armies of Pergamum.
SATAN’S SEAT AS IT APPEARED IN 90 C.E. IN THE TIME OF THE APOSTLES/SHLICHIM
We KNOW from Revelation 2:12-17 that Satan’s Seat was located at Pergamom. The Altar of Pergamom (Location of Satan’s Seat) was discovered in an amazingly preserved condition by a German Archaeologist. In 1902 German Kaiser Wilhelm II brought the entire structure of the Altar of Pergamom, Satan’s Seat, and had it set up in Berlin Germany. (Pictured Above) Wilhelm II claimed that to be the highest achievement of his reign. Satan’s Seat, not a copy, but the actual original is NOW in the European Union in the Pergamom Museum in Berlin Germany. This signifies an end time alliance between the European Union and Islam, making up the end time Islamic beast!
German Archaeologists also found in an amazingly well preserved condition the Ishtar Gates of Babylon. (Pictured Below). In 1913 Germany began bringing the actual gates of Babylon to also finally be set up in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin Germany. Thus Islam and the seat of s.a.tan
along with the gates of Islam, Babylon/ Iraq where all pagan deception was started by Nimrod, all reside in Europe, ready for relocation back to the Middle East.
It did not take long for World War One to begin. By 1930 the entire Ishtar Gateway as well as the processional had been brought to Germany and erected in Berlin.
Hitler’s use of the Seat of s.a.tan
A Skull & Bones member, in Germany, where it was known as the Thule Society, was Adolph Hitler. Hitler celebrated the erection of the Gates of Babylon and ESPECIALLY the Altar of SATAN’S SEAT. In 1934 Hitler became dictator and ordered construction of the Tribune at Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg for his Nazi rallies. The architect, Albert Speer, used the Pergamom Altar as the model for the Zeppelin Tribüne. The Führer’s pulpit was in the center of the Tribune, which was built from 1934 to 1937. Adolph Hitler, the Evil King of Germany started World War II in 1939. He attributed mystical powers to the seat of s.a.tan and did his ravings from there!
World War Two resulted in the death of 55 Million, including 6 Million innocent Jewish people, which Hitler sought to purge from Europe. Russia captured the Pergamom Altar or s.a.tan’s Seat in 1948, but in 1958 returned the Pergamom Altar back to Germany, where it is now located in the European Union in Berlin, Germany. In other words, it was not until s.a.tan’s seat arrived in Germany, that both world wars began and it was not until the actual year of its removal from Germany, that Israel became a nation again, in the land of Israel . Coincidence? I think not!
Gates of Babylon/Ishtar (Pictured Below)
2 Tesloniqyah/Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Yahshua WILL NOT RETURN until the throne/seat of s.a.tan and the “son of perdition,” the Islamic anti messiah, is revealed!! That’s why this understanding is crucial to Yahshua’s return and our full redemption.
While the actual edifices of the gates and the seat may be in Berlin for now, the SPIRITUAL CENTER REMAINS IN TURKEY, as the spirit realm lives there as before.
Beresheeth/Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of Elohim (demons) came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. The giants in Beresheeth/Genesis 6 refer to fallen angels – Demons.
Let’s closely analyze the center of all ancient world pagan worship and the GIANTS depicted as objects of worship. The top 10 Figures on the Pergamum Altar are:

1. Eastern Altar Frieze The eastern side of the altar frieze – the side first lit up by the rising sun – depicts the battle between the gods and the giants.

2. The God Apollo on the Eastern Frieze Like no other deity on the altar, the god Apollo is depicted as a noble man of ideal beauty, thus bearing witness to the artistic mastery of Classical sculpture in Greece.

3. The Titaness Phoebe An impressive figure depicted on the southern frieze, Phoebe is shown, with her daughter Asteria, fighting an enormous giant with a torch, sword and lance.

4. Zeus in Battle On the eastern frieze, the father of all the gods on Mount Olympus fights three giants at the same time. Zeus is armed for this battle with his most dangerous weapons – thunder and lightning.

5. The Goddess Athena The goddess Athena is also shown on the eastern frieze, as a powerful figure of light who drags her opponents to their deaths by their hair.

6. The Gods of the Sea Three pairs of sea gods are depicted on the staircase frieze (on the northern staircase): Doris and Nereus, Oceanus and Tethys as well as Triton and Amphitrite.

7. The Goddess Aphrodite Victorious, the fighting goddess rises proudly above two dead giants.


8. Statues of Women Larger-than-life figures of women, found near the altar in the excavations, are displayed in front of the Pergamum Altar.

9. The Beisser Group The so-called Beisser Group on the northern frieze is a group of unknown deities. One god, almost defeated, desperately tries to fight off a giant who has clamped his teeth into his arm.

10. Telephos Frieze The frieze in the upper altar courtyard (mocking the Holy of Holies) depicts Telephos, son of Hercules. The kings of Pergamon thought themselves to be descended from Telephos and worshipped him accordingly.

Biblical Doctrine of Postponement

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in the background, in Rishon LeZion. עברית: דגל ישראל בראשון לציון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Postpone= “to hold back to a later time, to defer, to put off, to defer to a future or later time” (Webster)

Dispensationalists teach that the kingdom, which was described and promised by the Old Testament prophets, was announced and offered to Israel at our Lord’s first coming, but due to Israel’s rejection of Christ, the kingdom was postponed and awaits future fulfillment.

John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus and the disciples all proclaimed this message: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). The expression “at hand” means near. The King Himself had come to earth and the kingdom was so near it was almost here! But one fact must not be forgotten. The kingdom offer was conditional. It was offered on the condition of repentance.

The following illustration might be helpful in understanding postponement. Imagine the following notice posted on the church bulletin board:

The entire church is invited to this Sunday School picnic. But this invitation is conditional. It is conditioned on the weather. The invitation poster said, “Weather Permitting.” Saturday arrives and there is rain the entire day. People call the church and they get this message, “We are sorry, but due to bad weather the picnic will be postponed and will be held in two weeks, weather permitting.” The picnic had to be postponed because the condition for having the picnic (good weather) had not been met.

The nation Israel had a wonderful opportunity before them. The long-promised Messiah King had arrived on the scene and the kingdom was announced as being at hand or near. But the people were also told that they needed to repent. Although a minority of Jews did repent and turn to Christ, the great majority did not. The rejection of Christ by the nation Israel and by Israel’s leaders is clearly seen in Matthew chapters 11-12. This rejection is tersely summarized in John 1:11—”He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”

The Lord Jesus Christ came to His own people (Matthew 1:21; 2:6) but the nation Israel did not receive Him as their Messiah, King, and Saviour (John 1:11). They wanted a King who could feed and heal their bodies (John 6:26), but cared not for a Saviour who could feed and heal their souls (John 6:58-66). Christ, through His miracles and mighty works, gave unmistakable and undeniable evidence that He was indeed the Messiah, the Son of the living God; yet the Jews in their unbelief still asked for a sign (John 2:18; Matthew 12:38-40; 13:58; Luke 4:23; 1 Corinthians 1:22).

Hundreds of years earlier Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah would perform such miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; compare what Jesus said to John’s disciples in Matthew 11:2-6). But even though the Jews saw His works (Matthew 12:13,22) and had clear proof that He was the Messiah (Matthew 12:23), they still refused to acknowledge who He was. In their wicked unbelief and blasphemy they dared to accuse Christ of performing His miracles by the power of Satan rather than by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:24-37). Such rejection can only bring the judgment of God (Matthew 12:41-45).

The climactic rejection of the Messiah took place when the Jews said to Pilate, “Let Him be crucified” (Matthew 27:21-23). Even worse, they took full responsibility for their actions: “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). God indeed held them responsible for what they had done: “[Him] ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).

The Lord, because of His forbearance and long-suffering, did not judge the nation immediately. In fact, God graciously made known the gospel to the Jew first (Romans 1:16; Acts 2:5; 3:26). They should have been the last to hear! In fact, they did not deserve to hear at all. But God in His matchless grace reached out to the nation which had crucified His Son!

When Paul entered a city he normally went to the synagogue first, often encountering great resistance to the gospel (Acts 13:44-50; 18:4-6; 28:23-28; cf., Romans 11:28). Yet God patiently waited and gave the nation opportunity to repent. When Paul finally appeared in Jerusalem (Acts 21–22) the Jews once again rejected God’s message and God’s messenger. They even tried to kill him, crying, “Away with him” (Acts 21:36; 22:22), even as they had done to the Saviour years before (John 19:15).

The day of God’s long-suffering must come to an end. Years before, the Lord Jesus had predicted that a terrible judgment of God would come upon Jerusalem because of their unbelief (Matthew 23:38; 24:2; Luke 21:5-6). About forty years after the crucifixion of Christ this prediction was literally fulfilled. In 70 A.D. the Roman General Titus captured and completely destroyed Jerusalem with great slaughter. Since this time the nation Israel has been without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without a priesthood, and without a temple (Hosea 3:4). For nearly 2000 years the Jewish people have been scattered and persecuted throughout the world. Instead of enjoying God’s blessings, they have been under God’s curses (see Deuteronomy 28).

In the 20th century a remarkable event took place in Jewish history. A nation was reborn! The Hebrew language was revived! Hundreds of thousands of Jews have been returning to their homeland. God has providentially been setting the stage for the events which must shortly come to pass. Even though many Israelites now occupy the land, they are there, for the most part, in unbelief. Though a small Christ-rejecting remnant has returned, the vast majority of Jews are still dispersed throughout the nations of the world. During the Second World War, about one third of all the Jews in the world (six million) perished under German persecution and ruthless slaughter. There is coming another day in which two thirds will die (Zechariah 13:9). Certainly Israel is still under the terrible curse of God (see Deuteronomy 28:15 and following). But a brighter day is coming in which the nation Israel will be delivered, forgiven, and purified (Jeremiah 30:7-9; Romans 11:26-27). At this time the nation will begin to enjoy the millennial blessings of God (Isaiah 33:17-24) which had been promised to them by the mouth of all the prophets.

When Christ came the first time Israel, as a nation, did not repent and the kingdom was postponed. When Christ comes the second time Israel will repent and will receive their Messiah, even as Jesus predicted in Matthew 23:39 (and compare Zechariah 12:10-14). Study also Romans chapter 11 which speaks of Israel’s wonderful future (Notes on Romans 11).

Many non-dispensationalists object to the idea of a kingdom being postponed. Often the reason for this is that they want to steal away the kingdom that was promised to Israel and claim it for themselves. They teach that the kingdom is here and now. Instead of the kingdom being postponed, the church is now enjoying the kingdom. The church has replaced Israel in God’s program and the church has claimed Israel’s kingdom. The technical name for this erroneous view is Replacement Theology.

It is helpful to keep in mind two important facts:

(1) When the kingdom is finally restored to Israel, it is a continuation of the same historical, theocratic, earthly kingdom. The very same tabernacle of David that fell will be restored, not some new, revised, or spiritual version of the kingdom (Acts 1:6; 15:16-18; Amos 9:11; see also McClain’s The Greatness of the Kingdom, pp. 147-148).

(2) When the kingdom is offered again, God guarantees that Israel will repent and receive her Messiah. In other words, there is no possibility of Israel rejecting Christ the second time, and thus postponing the kingdom yet again. We know this is so a) Based on the sure word of prophecy (Zech.12:10-13:1); b) Based on the provisions of the New Covenant which assure Israel of a new heart, the Holy Spirit, and thus obedience (“I will CAUSE you to walk in my statutes and ye SHALL keep my judgments and do them”; etc.). The promised blessings result from this obedience and are guaranteed (Ezek.36:24-28); c) Based on the nature of the New Covenant which is unconditional (compare the “I will’s” of Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Anyone who takes the kingdom passages seriously in their normal and natural sense knows that what the prophets described is certainly not being fulfilled in our day. Notice just a few of the amazing descriptions of the future kingdom:

1.
A King will rule the world from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6).

2.
Wars will cease and there will be peace throughout the earth (Micah 4:3).

3.
People will be healed of diseases and there will be no sickness (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5-6).

4.
People will enjoy amazing longevity, with their life-span being comparable to that of a tree (Isaiah 65:20-22).

5.
There will be a drastic change in the nature of animals (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Etc.

Certainly none of these things have taken place in history since the time of Christ’s first coming until now, and since God’s promises must be fulfilled, we know that there must be a future fulfillment of all these things. [See our paper entitled, "Do You Interpret the Bible Literally?" for another discussion of how these kingdom passages much be interpreted in their normal, natural sense].

The concept of POSTPONEMENT is not something foreign to the pages of Holy Scripture. Here are some other examples of postponement found in the Bible:
1.
The message Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh was this: “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah, as God’s prophet, received this message from the LORD. Thus, in less than two months God’s judgment would fall upon this city. But the people repented at the preaching of Jonah (Matthew 12:41) and in forty days God did not judge this city. God postponed His judgment. Later the people of Nineveh gradually returned to their wicked ways and God once again used one of His prophets to predict the destruction of this city (see the book of Nahum). The time between Jonah’s preaching (around 780 B.C.) and the ultimate destruction of Nineveh in 612 B.C. was more than 150 years. God postponed His judgment in response to the repentance of the people of Nineveh. [In the days of Christ, God postponed His kingdom in response to the lack of repentance on the part of His people.]

2.
It is hard to find a king of Israel more wicked that King Ahab (husband of Jezebel). How surprising it is to find this man, at the end of his life, humbling himself before the Lord (1 Kings 21:27). God had just announced that severe judgment would fall upon the house of Ahab, but when Ahab humbled himself God postponed the judgment. Here is what God said to Elijah about this: “Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house” (1 Kings 21:29). God postponed his judgment for one generation.

3.
In 2 Kings 20:1 God, through the prophet Isaiah, told King Hezekiah that he would die: “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” But Hezekiah prayed to the LORD (verses 2-3) and God responded to this prayer and told Isaiah to return to Hezekiah and give him a different message. This time the LORD said this, “I have heard thy prayer. . . and I will add unto thy days fifteen years” (2 Kings 20:5-6). God postponed Hezekiah’s death date by fifteen years!

4.
In Joshua chapter 10 we have the remarkable account of the battle between the inhabitants of Gibeon and the Israelites. Joshua knew that the success of the battle would be hindered by nightfall. So he prayed to God that the sun would stand still (Josh. 10:12). God answered the prayer and performed an astronomical miracle which has never since been duplicated (Josh. 10:14). God postponed nightfall: “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hastened not to go down about a whole day” (Josh. 10:13).

5.
When Satan fell into sin (Ezekiel 28:15; Isaiah 14:12-14) he was apparently sentenced to the lake of fire immediately (see Matthew 25:41), but this sentence was not executed until thousands of years later (see Revelation 20:10 which takes place after the millennium). God postponed the execution of Satan’s sentence for thousands of years so that He might demonstrate something not only to Satan but to all the angelic hosts. In the meanwhile, the great drama of mankind’s redemption is played out from Genesis to Revelation.

6.
God has promised that Elijah will appear on earth shortly before the Lord Himself returns (Malachi 4:5). A careful study of Matthew 17:10-12 and Matthew 11:14 seems to indicate that if the nation Israel had received Christ at His first coming, then Elijah would have come (John the Baptist would have been Elijah!?). But the nation rejected Christ and thus the coming of Elijah was postponed for about 2000 years.

It may be helpful to note that although the kingdom was genuinely offered to Israel, the rejection of their Messiah was likewise prophesied (Isaiah 53:1-3; Psalm 118:22, etc.). God was not taken by surprise by the way the Jews responded to Christ at His first coming. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

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Views of End Times Prophecy

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Matthew McGee

In this article, we will examine four common sets of beliefs regarding end times prophecy in the Bible, including amillennial and three different pre-millennial beliefs including post-tribulational rapture, mid-tribulational rapture, and pre-tribulational rapture.  We will define all of these terms in a moment.  But first, since some readers may not know about the rapture at all, we will take a moment here to look at the scriptures in which the apostle Paul explains the rapture.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul writes, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

This catching up of all Christians into the clouds that Paul mentions in verse 17 is the event that is commonly referred to as “the rapture”.  The word “rapture” itself never occurs in the Bible, but since the New Testament was written in Greek, neither does any other English word.  So whether you call it the rapture, the catching away, or the great snatch, the message is still the same.

Paul provides further insight on the rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.   For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

So at some future time which only God knows, the trumpet will sound that signals our catching away.  Then all of the souls of the Christians who have died will return to their dead bodies, which will be instantly changed to immortal, incorruptible, eternal bodies and come out of their graves.  Then the bodies of all Christians who are left alive will be instantly changed into immortal, incorruptible, eternal bodies.  We will be caught up into the clouds to meet our fellow Christians who have died and our Lord Jesus Christ in the air.  Then we all shall be with our Lord forever.

Definitions:

Now let us look at some of the different viewpoints about the rapture and end times prophecy.

1.  Amillennialists believe that God’s promises regarding the end times are figurative and will not be literally fulfilled, particularly the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth.

Pre-millennialists believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth prior to His literal reign on the earth for 1000 years.  Three groups of pre-millennialists include the following:

2.  Post-tribulationists believe that the rapture will not occur until the end of the seven year tribulation, just prior to the beginning of the millennial kingdom.

3.  Mid-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur three and one half years into the tribulation, at beginning of the three and one half year great tribulation.

4.  Pre-tribulationists believe that the rapture will occur prior to the seven year tribulation, but not necessarily immediately before the tribulation.

Why not amillennial?

1. There will be a literal seven-year tribulation.  The last half of it will be the great tribulation.  History has shown that God reveals His prophecies literally.  Examples of literally fulfilled prophecies include the rise and fall of the Medo-Persian and Greek empires, the destruction of the city of Tyre, the temple being destroyed and rebuilt several times, dozens of events in the life of Jesus Christ, and many other prophecies.  There will also be a literal tribulation of seven years on earth.  In Daniel 9:24-27, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that 69 weeks of years after the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem is given, the Messiah would be crucified.  Since God expressed this prophecy in years of 360 days, this is 69 times 7, or 483 years of 360 days each.  The commandment Gabriel spoke of was given by King Artaxerxes about 100 years later in 445 BC (Nehemiah 2:1-8).  Moving forward 69 weeks of 360-day years from the 445 BC date, this brings us to the early spring of 32 AD, when Jesus Christ was crucified.  For further detail on this and other prophecies, see Fulfilled Prophecies and Other Evidence that the Bible is the Word of God.  This prophecy also reveals that the 70th week will begin when the Antichrist makes his seven-year treaty with Israel and the surrounding nations, and that the Antichrist would break the treaty at the midpoint of the seven years.  The last three and one half years are called the great tribulation.  Its length is one half of a seven year period (Daniel 9:27), and  “a time, times, and an half” (Daniel 12:7).  Taking a “time” to be a year and “times” to be two years, this gives three and one half years.  Revelation further describes the length of the second half of the tribulation week as 1260 days (Revelation 12:6) and 42 months (Revelation 13:5).  Since God gave us the duration in four different units of time (days, months, years, and weeks of years), can there be any doubt how long it will last?  Also, since God fulfilled the first 69 weeks of years literally, we know that He will do the same with the 70th week of years.

2. There will be a literal 1000-year kingdom of Christ on the earth.  Isaiah 65:20-25 tells us that in God’s kingdom on the earth, life spans will be greatly increased, just like before the flood.  People will have children, build houses, and plant crops.  There will also be physical death.  We know from this that the kingdom must last a long time (in human terms), but the Old Testament does not tell us just how long it will last.  In Revelation 20:2-7 we are told that it will last 1000 years.  Jesus Christ, as if wanting to make it abundantly clear, tells us six times that it will last 1000 years.  After this, the heaven and earth are destroyed, the last judgments are given, and the new heaven and earth are created.  Some amillennialists try to support their belief with 2 Peter 3:10 which says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with  great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  They say the earth is destroyed immediately after the rapture in one day.  However, they fail to check the context of the passage. Just two verses before, Peter said, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”  (2 Peter 3:8).  Therefore, Peter does not contradict Revelation’s description of the thousand year kingdom or Isaiah’s prophecies.  For a detailed scriptural study of what the 1000-year kingdom will be like, see the article on the main page called   The Millennial Kingdom Reign of Jesus Christ.

Why not post-tribulational?

1. The conquered saints:  In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul writes “For God hath not appointed us to wrath ….”   But at the midpoint of the tribulation, Revelation 12:12 says “… Woe to the inhabitors of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 13:7 says of the Antichrist, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them ….”  His authority lasts for 42 months (Revelation 13:5).  Also, Daniel 7:25 says the Antichrist “… shall wear out (oppress) the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (3 and 1/2 years).”  “… he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.” (Daniel 8:24).  “… when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” (Daniel 12:7).  The Antichrist can only “destroy … the holy people” if the tribulation saints are not members of the true Christian Church of this present dispensation.  The saints in the tribulation are people who become believers after the rapture of the Church.

2. Sheep and Goats:  We know from Matthew 25 that Jesus Christ will divide the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left after he returns.  Matthew 25:31-34 says, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ….”  Then in Matthew 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ….”  Now if all the believers were raptured just before Jesus Christ returned, there would be no sheep left on earth to divide, only goats.

3. Who would populate the millennial kingdom?  We know that mortal believers will live in the kingdom.  But if all the believers would have been raptured, thus immortal, and all the unbelievers would have been killed.  There would be no more mortal believers left to populate the kingdom.

4. Resurrection of tribulation saints:  After Jesus Christ’s return in Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 20:4 tells us about the resurrection of  martyred tribulation saints who did not receive the mark of the beast, “… they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”  If the rapture had occurred just before Christ’s return, they would have already been resurrected, and could not be resurrected again.

More reasons why the rapture cannot occur at the end of the tribulation are provided in the pre-tribulational section later in this article.

Why not mid-tribulational?

Mid-tribulationists have no problem with the dividing of the sheep and the goats, the populating of the millennial kingdom, or the resurrection of tribulation saints.  And by claiming that most of the worst plagues occur in the second half of the tribulation, they say their view is not in conflict with 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God hath not appointed us to wrath ….”  But they are hard-pressed to defend their position against the following argument.

Upon whom will the Antichrist wage war?  As explained under “The conquered saints” discussion above, the Antichrist will wage war on the believers immediately after the second half of the tribulation (the great tribulation) begins.  If all the believers had just been raptured, there would be no saints left upon which to wage war.

More reasons why the rapture cannot occur in the middle of the tribulation are provided in the pre-tribulational section below.

Why pre-tribulational?

Merely by process of elimination?  Not hardly.  There are many reasons why the true Christians of this dispensation  cannot be on the earth during the tribulation.

1. Israel is the focus of the end times, not the present church:  During the Church age there are three classes of people:  Jews, Gentiles, and the Church (1 Corinthians 10:32). Within the Church, there is no distinction between  Jew and Gentile.  During the tribulation however, God’s focus will be on the nation of Israel. God will deal with Israel as Gabriel said in Daniel 9:24 “Seventy weeks (of years) are determined upon thy people ….”   That is, Daniel’s people, Israel.  As discussed under the amillennial topic, the first 69 weeks have passed and one remains.  In Revelation chapter 7, the 144,000 are all chosen from the people of Israel, and their tribes are listed.  In chapter 11:7-8 the two witnesses are martyred in Jerusalem.  In Revelation 12:6, the woman that flees into the wilderness for 1260 days represents Israel in the great tribulation.  These are just some of the reasons we know Israel is at the center of God’s plan.  For a detailed study which explains how the last week of Daniel’s 70 weeks will be a continuation of the old kingdom program, see    The Seven Churches of Revelation.   The present, predominantly Gentile church and the doctrines concerning it were a mystery unknown to the Jews throughout the first 69 weeks.  We therefore must be removed prior to the beginning of the 70th week, which is determined upon the nation of Israel (Daniel 9:24).

2. Make way for the gospel of the kingdom: Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”  The gospel of the kingdom was “… Repent:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  But, Paul preached the gospel of grace which is: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, freely gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins.  He was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 that if anyone “… preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”  Thus we know that this present predominantly Gentile church must be removed to allow the worldwide preaching of the gospel of the kingdom that Paul did not preach to us.

3. The tabernacle of David: Referring to Peter’s visit to the house of Cornelius, James said, “… 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 I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down …” (Acts 15:14-16).  After what?  After God takes out of the Gentiles “a people for his name” (Christians).  Of course a there are some Jews mixed in, for there is no difference within the present Church.  Thus, the filling of the Church must be completed prior to the rebuilding of the temple, which is prior to the midpoint of the tribulation (Daniel 9:27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4).  Also, we see that once God is through calling out a people for His name from among the Gentiles, He will return His attention back to Israel, rebuilding the temple.  Prior to this, the believers in this age must be removed from the scene, being caught up into heaven.

4. The fulness of the Gentiles: After discussing the analogy of the good olive tree and the wild olive tree, Paul reveals the mystery in Romans 11:25-26, “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 ….”  Once again we see that it is not until after the last Gentile becomes a Christian that God resumes his program with the nation of Israel.

5. We do not know the day of the rapture.  We will not know the date, but we are told to watch (1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 6) and know the general time of the end.  There is no warning for the rapture.  It could literally happen at any time.  However, Daniel 9:27 tells us that the second coming is seven years after the Antichrist makes his covenant with Israel and three and a half years after he breaks the covenant.  Christians cannot be left on earth during the whole tribulation or even the first half, because we would know the exact date of the rapture, contradicting scripture.  If the post-tribulationists or mid-tribulationists were correct, we would have a seven year or three and one half year notification before the rapture.

6. The wrath of God:  All three premillennial views, post-tribulationists, mid-tribulationists, and pre-tribulationists agree that Christians will not suffer the wrath of God as explained in 1 Thessalonians 5:9.    However, the plagues of the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls are on a global scale.  Also, remember the verses about the conquered saints previously mentioned in the post-tribulational discussion.  Since the church is not appointed to wrath, it cannot be present when these global plagues come upon all those that dwell on the earth. Evidence of the tribulation being the wrath of God can be seen in Revelation 6:16-17 which says, “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”  Other passages on the wrath of God include Revelation 11:16-18, 14:10, 14:19, 15:1, 15:7, 16:1, 16:19, and 19:15.

7. The Holy Spirit:  Paul told the Thessalonians, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let (hinder), until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).  Who do the Thessalonians know that is powerful enough to hold back Satan?  This has to be the Holy Spirit.  Before the tribulation, God will catch away all Christians (in whom the Holy Spirit dwells) and He will also remove His hand from the powers of evil in this world, making way for the great deception and the kingdom of the AntiChrist.  The Holy Spirit will begin operating in a manner that is more like Old Testament times, unlike the manner in which He operates today.  He will not indwell believers again until Jesus Christ returns at the end of the tribulation, with these two exceptions:  He will be the seal on the 144,000 young men of Israel (Revelation 7:1-8), who will be preaching the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world, and He will fill the two witnesses in (Revelation 11:3-4).

8. Believers pleading for vengeance:  The slain saints of the tribulation plead for vengeance in Revelation 6:10, “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?”  Contrast this with the martyr Stephen’s last words:  “… Lord, lay not this sin to their charge …” (Acts 7:60).  This attitude of vengeance is not a characteristic of those indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Unlike the believers today, these Revelation 6 believers are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Besides, Christians who have studied God’s Word would not have to ask “How long?”  They would already know, as was described in the “We do not know the day of the rapture” discussion above.

One Closing Point:

Perhaps you disagree with some of the points that I have made in this article.  In most cases, the disagreement on end times prophecy is only a symptom.  The real source of the differing views is a disagreement over how to rightly divide the Word of God.  Understanding the difference between the “kingdom” program for Israel and the “grace” program for us is the key. Whether you agree with me in this article or not, please see The Basics of Understanding the Bible and  Israel’s Kingdom Gospel and Our Grace Gospel.   Learning the truths explained in these articles really opened up the scriptures for me.  Rightly dividing the Word is of utmost importance in understanding not only end times prophecy, but many other areas of Christian doctrine as well.

United States IN Prophecy

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http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/trends.htm#1

posted by dtbrents

One of the most common questions regarding Bible prophecy is where is the United States in scripture?   Many nations of the world are not mentioned in scripture, however it is hard to understand how the world’s most powerful nation would not be.  At least not in a way that we recognize it clearly.

There are many theories and ideas as to why this is but here are three of the most common:

  • The United States is no longer relevant
  • The United States is destroyed
  • The United States is no longer its own country – but part of a larger union of nations – possibly controlled by the Antichrist.

All of these responses are based on speculation.  We simply do not know the answer but it is very possible there may be some symbolism that the United States may fit into.  We must simply watch and wait to see what God’s plan for America is.

To that effect we monitor what impact terrorism and war might have on the United States as well any other factors that could contribute to its decline or change on the world stage.

America is also Israel’s closest ally.  God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3).  America’s relationship with Israel will be closely watched.

2. Israel – God’s Timepiece

It has been said if you want to know what time it is on God’s calendar – keep an eye on Israel for it is God’s timepiece. The scriptures relating to Israel’s prophetic role in the end times are too numerous to follow, but we will monitor some of the most important ones.

Perhaps one of the most important is Daniel 9:27:

“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’  In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

The book of Daniel reveals that one final period of 7 years has been reserved for God’s plan to be completed.  This period of 7 years is described in the book of Revelation and climaxes with Armageddon.  However when does this period of 7 years start?  Daniel 9:27 reveals that “He” referring to the Antichrist, will confirm a 7 year treaty.  It is this confirming of  a treaty with Israel and many nations for 7 years that starts the final countdown.

You will also notice a clear reference to this “he” (Antichrist) putting an end to sacrifice and setting up an abomination in the temple.  This would seem to indicate that the Jewish temple must be rebuilt to be part of the end time scenario.

With the understanding above we will be monitoring closely the various agreements and peace treaties that Israel is involved in with particular emphasis on the Road Map To Peace.  There is a particular emphasis by all major world players to bring Israel and the Palestinians, not to mention the entire Arab world into a final peace agreement.  “Final Status” talks is now the buzz word and we will be watching closely where this leads – possibly even to a rebuilt Jewish Temple.  However despite the move for peace talks, all parties in the Middle East continue to prepare for war.  We will be watching movements within Israel and her neighbors for potential conflict.

One of the most contentious issues for all parties in the Middle East is the final status of Jerusalem.  Zechariah says the following in this regards:

Zechariah 12:2-3: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.  On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves”.

Zechariah reveals that Jerusalem, the capital of Israel will become a problem for all nations. Eventually all the nations of the world will gather against her.  The voting of the UN, recent polls in Europe and the comments of leaders in Islamic countries all indicate we are heading towards a new global anti-Semitism.  This will climax in the world marching on Israel.

3. A Revived Roman Empire

Daniel, Chapter 2, presents the dream of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, which provides the basis for our understanding  for history’s final system of government.   Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream which reveals that the fifth and final world empire would have some association with or be an extension of the fourth empire – Rome. Passages in Daniel 7:7-8 and Revelation 13:1  describe a beast with ten horns. The prophets Daniel and John apparently saw the same beast in their visions, the beast symbolizing ten heads or ten kingdoms.  It is this number of 10 that we want to keep a close eye on. 

We will monitor the development of the world’s newest superpower emerging from Europe and the region of the former Roman Empire which includes not only Europe but much of North Africa and the Middle East.  The EU would seem to be a leading candidate for the final world empire – but the number 10 will have to somehow be reconciled. Issues surrounding the EU constitution and the EU/Mediterranean partnership agreement will be watched for possible relevance to Daniel’s prophecies as well as the development of other nation alliances in this region that may equal the magic number of 10.

It is from this final world Empire that the man we call the Antichrist emerges.  He is alluded to in scripture as the Assyrian and may have a Muslim/Middle Eastern connection that many have overlooked.

4. The Gog/Magog War

Ezekiel 37-39 describes a time when Israel has been restored to her land but will then face an invasion force from a country in the north and her allies after God puts hooks in their jaws. Those countries are listed by names we don’t recognize today but many scholars believe they have identified where those people groups were once from. The following are the most common interpretations for those countries:
MAGOG is believed to be modern-day Russia and should also include Kazakhstan (the area north of the Caspian Sea).
MESHECH can include the southern part of Russia by the Black Sea, as well as Georgia and Armenia. Some believe Turkey could also be included.
TUBAL is a part of Russia between the Black and Caspian seas. It also includes the Ukraine and Kazakhstan and possibly Georgia and Azerbaijan.
PERSIA is modern-day Iran.
ETHIOPIA (or Cush). Some consider that other surrounding areas, such as the Sudan or Eritrea, could also be included.
AND LIBYA (or Phut).
GOMER may include the Ukraine. Some believe it may also include the area SE of the Black Sea, such as Georgia. Some believe this may also be a reference to Germany.
THE HOUSE OF TOGARMAH OF THE (far or remote parts of the) NORTH QUARTERS may include Armenia. Many believe this will also include Turkey,
AND MANY PEOPLE (or nations) WITH THEE. This may indicate that there will be yet other nations allied with Russia that are unlisted. It may be noted that Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan are not mentioned.
Russia is no longer the superpower it once was and while it may be hard to see such a scenario happening today, it is no more difficult for God to accomplish than He did the recreation of Israel as a nation in 1948.
Ezekiel 39 would also seem to indicate the use of nuclear weapons in this conflict as specific instructions are given on burying the dead, including specialists who do this.
We will continue to monitor Russia’s relations with Israel. Iran, one of the nations mentioned is also important to keep an eye on in light of its mutual assistance treaty with Russia. Israel has threatened to attack Iran if it continues with is nuclear program – this very well could be the hook in the jaws that draws Russia down. Another nation to keep an eye on is Turkey as it is currently Israel’s ally but relations have deteriorated greatly as of late. If Turkey is to be involved in this invasion it would be a great dupe on Israel or things could change quickly in this Muslim country. The nuclear arms race in the Middle East continues and could play a factor in this conflict.

5. Apostate Christianity

We are told in Revelation 3 of the 7 Churches. The last church or church age is symbolized by the Church of Laodicea. Laodicea means “the rights of the people.” Thus, this was a church governed by the will of the people, rather than the will of God. This is the church age from which the Antichrist and the False Prophet will emerge. It is the church age Paul talked about that would not endure sound doctrine, but would gather around them teachers that would say what their itching ears wanted and desired to hear (2 Tim 4:3). This church is described as lukewarm, indifferent, not concerned with right and wrong, or with good and evil. They take a neutral position: one of “live and let live; don’t rock the boat; and don’t cause waves.” They are trying to serve two masters—God and self (or the world).
We will continue to monitor the church’s faithfulness to the teaching of the Word of God, realizing that the church of the last days will be marked by apostasy and a falling away. This does not mean that God is not moving and doing great things – but can we also identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing? “For false Christ’s and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the very elect”. (Mark 13:22).

6. The Rise of Islam

Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.  Demographics studies indicate that it could soon become the dominant religion in many European countries.  Very few Christians understand Islam and it’s impact on the people and societies that it governs.  

Sharia law does not permit a Muslim to leave the faith and to do so means stiff penalties, jail time and even death in countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  Radical Islam’s hatred of Israel and the West will be monitored as well as it’s potential role in Bible Prophecy, especially the desire by many Muslims to see the reestablishment of an Islamic Empire or Caliphate.  What role will Islam play beyond the traditional Ezekiel 38 scenario?  Will it be connected to a Revived Roman Empire or the EU?  Will the Antichrist be a Muslim?

We will be monitoring Islam’s rise in terms of both military, political and demographic power.  Islam’s  impact on Christians and efforts to witness to Muslims will also be covered.

7. Increase in Knowledge/New Technologies

Studies have suggested that the amount of human knowledge is doubling every 8 years. Some of the technologies that are emerging will no doubt have a role to play in Bible Prophecy.
Revelation 13 describes a mark, in the right hand or forehead that will act as not only a form of allegiance or worship, but enable people to buy or sell items – in fact you can’t conduct commerce without it. When you hear comments by the head of MasterCard that microchip implants under the skin could be used for commerce – you can’t help but see the path we are on.  The recent approval of the FDA for implants under the skin for medical purposes will no doubt play a role in this emerging trend.  The increase of RFID technology also presents some amazing possibilities in terms of  commerce and tracking technology.
Revelation 13 also mentions the ability of an image of the Antichrist – to somehow come to life and speak. With cloning and other advanced computer technologies it seems there is nothing man can’t do.
We will continue to monitor new technologies and their impact on prophecy.

8. Christian Worldview/Issues

We will monitor events from around the world of interest to Christians. Church trends, social issues such as abortion and homosexuality, Christian persecution, Christian entertainment and culture are just a sample of some of these topics.

9. Other World Events To Watch

We will monitor world events that may not on the surface have a direct relationship to Bible prophecy but are important to keep an eye on.  Examples include the the rise of Islamic influence in the world, China’s emergence as a superpower and her conflict with Taiwan, natural disasters, signs in the heavens, emerging diseases such as H1N1 and other globally impacting issues will be watched.

Millennial Temple

The Millennial Temple of

Ezekiel 40-48

(An Exercise in Literal Interpretation)

Dr. John C. Whitcomb

[used by permission]

Those who have discovered that the key to interpreting God’s Word properly is to understand it in a normal/literal way, will also discover that Ezekiel 40-48 is not a burden to the Bible student, but a delight. What joy God brings to the heart of the believer when he realizes, perhaps for the first time, that God did not give us any portion of His Word to confuse us, but rather to enlighten us. God really does mean what He says!

The last nine chapters of Ezekiel serve almost as a test case for God’s people. In the words of Charles Lee Feinberg, a great Old Testament scholar of the 20th century, “Along with certain other key passages of the Old Testament, like Isaiah 7:14 and 52:13-53:12 and portions of Daniel, the concluding chapters of Ezekiel form a kind of continental divide in the area of Biblical interpretation. It is one of the areas where the literal interpretation of the Bible and the spiritualizing or allegorizing method diverge widely. Here amillennialists and premillennialists are poles apart. When thirty-nine chapters of Ezekiel can be treated detailedly and seriously as well as literally, there is no valid reason a priori for treating this large division of the book in an entirely different manner.” (The Prophecy of Ezekiel. [Chicago: Moody Press, 1967], p. 233).

God will fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God’s “chosen people” will enjoy their “promised land” some day, after they have experienced national regeneration (Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 11:25-26). Not just for the Church, but also for Israel, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29).

We now present seven arguments in support of, and three arguments in opposition to a literal interpretation of Ezekiel 40-48.

Arguments in Support of a Literal Interpretation

1.         A careful reading of Ezekiel 40-42 gives one the clear impression of a future literal Temple for Israel because of the immense number of details concerning its dimensions, its parts and its contents (see Erich Sauer, From Eternity To Eternity, chapter 34). Surely, if so much space in the Holy Scriptures is given to a detailed description of this Temple, we are safe in assuming that it will be as literal as the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon. The fact that its structure and ceremonies will have a definite symbolical and spiritual significance cannot be used as an argument against its literal existence. For the Tabernacle was a literal structure in spite of the fact that it was filled with symbolic and typical significance. Such reasoning might easily deny the literalness of Christ’s glorious Second Coming on the basis that the passages which describe His coming are filled with symbolical expressions (see Matthew 24 and Revelation 19).

2.         Ezekiel was given specific instructions to “declare all thou seest to the house of Israel” (40:4), which seems strange if the Temple were to symbolize only general truths. Even more significant is the fact that the Israelites were to “keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (43:11). This is an exact parallel to the pattern of the Tabernacle which Moses saw in the Mount, and which God commanded him to construct (Exodus 25:8,9).

3.         All will agree that the Temple of Ezekiel 8-11 was the literal Temple of Ezekiel’s day, even though the prophet saw it “in the visions of God” (8:3) while he himself was still in Babylon (8:1). In these four chapters we find mention of “the door of the gate of the inner court” (8:3), “the porch” (8:16), “the altar” (8:16), “the threshold of the house” (9:3), and “the east gate of Jehovah’s house” (10:19). Now without any indication whatever than an ideal temple instead of a literal Temple is being set forth in chapters 40-42, we find similar if not identical descriptive formulas being used: “in the visions of God” (40:2; cf. 8:3), “a gate to the inner court” (40:27; cf. 8:3), “the porch of the house” (40:48; cf. 8:16), “the altar” (43:18; cf. 8:16), and “the gate which looketh towards the east” (43:3; cf. 10:19), through which the glory of the God of Israel is seen returning, exactly as He had departed, according to 10:19 and 11:23. Now if the Millennial Temple is not to be a reality, then why insist that the return of the God of Israel is to be a reality?

4.         Ezekiel is not the only Old Testament prophet who saw a future, glorious Temple for God’s chosen people Israel, complete with animal sacrifices, in the Holy Land:

a)        Prophecies of a Millennial Temple:

Joel 3:18

Isaiah 2:3

Isaiah 60:13

Daniel 9:24

Haggai 2:7,9

b)        Prophecies of animal sacrifices in the future Temple:

Isaiah 56:6,7

Isaiah 60:7

Jeremiah 33:18

Zechariah 14:16-21

5.         God has definitely promised to the line of Zadok an everlasting priesthood (1 Sam. 2:35; 1 Kings 2:27,35). This confirms God’s promise of an everlasting priesthood to Zadok’s ancestor Phinehas (Num. 25:13), which also confirms His promise of an everlasting priesthood to Phinehas’ grandfather Aaron (Exodus 29:9; 40:15). See 1 Chronicles 6:3-8, 50-53 for the full genealogy. Furthermore, this promise of an everlasting priesthood was strongly confirmed by God through Jeremiah 33:17-22, who links the perpetuity of the Levitical priests with the perpetuity of the Davidic Kingship and the perpetuity of the earth’s rotation on its axis! In view of these promises of God, confirmed again and again, it is highly significant that the Millennial Temple of Ezekiel will have the sons of Zadok as its priests! (40:46, 44:15). God apparently means what He says! The intrinsic probability of this being fulfilled literally is strengthened tremendously by the mention of 12,000 Levites who will be sealed by God during the yet future seventieth week of Daniel (Rev. 7:7). If these are literal Levites it would hardly be consistent to maintain that the Temple is spiritual or figurative. And if God’s promises to Aaron, Phinehas, and Zadok are spiritualized, how can we insist that His promises to David will be fulfilled literally (2 Sam. 7:13,16)?

6.         The Bible clearly teaches that while there is no such thing as an earthly Temple, an altar, or animal sacrifices in true Christianity (John 4:21, Heb. 7-10), there will be such provisions for Israel following the rapture of the Church (Matt. 24, 2 Thess. 2:4, Rev. 11:1,2. Compare also Hosea 3:4,5 with Daniel 9:24,27). Furthermore, Revelation 20:9 indicates that Jerusalem, the “beloved city,” will once again be “the camp of the saints” during the millennial age. The clear New Testament teaching of a post-rapture “holy place” and “temple of God” in Jerusalem, complete with “the altar” (Rev.11:1), prepares us to anticipate a Millennial Temple in connection with the “holy city” Jerusalem, in harmony with Old Testament teaching.

7.         The only real alternatives to the literal interpretation are unbelieving modernism which does not hesitate to say that this Temple was a mere figment of Ezekiel’s imagination, and a fanciful idealism, usually amillennial, which says that this Temple depicts certain realities of the Church which shall be fulfilled in our times or in the eternal state. (See, for example, Beasley-Murray on Ezekiel in the New Bible Commentary: Revised, 1970, p. 684.) Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr., in Ezekiel, Prophecy of Hope (Baker Book House, 1965), believes that the centrality of the altar in Ezekiel’s Temple points to centrality of the communion table in the Christian church! In light of this, Dr. Blackwood is disturbed that “in many of the beautiful Protestant churches that are being built today, the table of Holy Communion is crowded back against the wall at the greatest possible distance from the congregation, as was the medieval Roman Catholic custom. But today in the beautiful new Roman Catholic churches that are being constructed the sacramental table is brought away from the wall; so that the congregation, insofar as it is physically possible, surrounds the table. Ezekiel certainly is telling us that church architecture should be an expression of theology” (p. 240).

So widespread is this type of interpretation that even some prominent dispensationalists have been influenced by it. Dr. J Sidlow Baxter, for example, tells us that “the main meanings of the striking symbols are clear … The various cube measurements symbolize their divine perfection. In the description of the sacrificial ritual we see the absolute purity of the final worship” (Explore the Book IV, 34, Academie Books, Grand Rapids, 1966). We shall leave it to the reader to decide, after studying Ezekiel 40-42 again, whether these are “clear” meanings of these “symbols.” We are also very disappointed to see that even Dr. Harry Ironside, whose prophetic insight was usually very clear, fell into the same spiritualizing tendency. Notice how he attempted to spiritualize the Temple river of Ezekiel 47: “Ezekiel’s guide measured a thousand cubits, that is, fifteen hundred feet, and he caused the prophet to enter into the waters: they were up to his ankles. May this not suggest the very beginning of a life of fellowship with God? ‘If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit’ (Gal 5:25). The feet were in the river and the waters covered them, but the guide measured another thousand cubits and caused Ezekiel to pass through the waters, and they were up to his knees. Who will think it fanciful if we say that the waters up to the knees suggest praying in the Holy Spirit? But the guide measured another thousand and caused the prophet to pass through the waters, and now they were up to his loins, suggesting the complete control of every fleshly lust in the power of the Spirit of God. He measured another thousand, and that which had begun as a small stream was a river so that Ezekiel could not pass through, for the waters were risen, waters to swim in. Surely this is to live in the fullness of the Spirit to which every child of God should aspire” (Ezekiel the Prophet, pp. 327,328, Loizeaux Brothers, 1949).

In my opinion, such an exposition of Holy Scripture is not only fanciful but dangerous, causing the student to wonder whether each expositor is not, after all, a guide unto himself, the blind leading the blind. If the commentator rejects the literal interpretation of the passage, and fails to find support elsewhere in Scripture for a consistent figurative or symbolic interpretation, he should confess his ignorance, leave the passage alone, and go elsewhere. For many centuries the Church has been subjected to various spiritualizing interpretations of Old and New Testament prophecies concerning the Second Coming of Christ. It is our prayer that God will raise up many faithful students of His Word in these last days who will search the prophetic Scriptures in the belief that God actually means what He says.

Objections to a Literal Interpretation of Ezekiel 40-48

1.       “The area of the temple courts (500 x 500 “reeds,” or about one square mile) would be larger than the entire ancient walled city of Jerusalem, and the holy portion for priests and Levites (20,000 x 25,000 reeds, or about 40 x 50 miles) would cover an area six times the size of greater London today and could not possibly be placed within present-day Palestine, that is between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (Ezek. 47:18), to say nothing of the “portion of the prince” on either side of this area (45:7, 47:21). The Millennial Jerusalem would be about 40 miles in circumference and thus ten times the circumference of the ancient city. Furthermore, it would be somewhat north of the present site of the city, and the Temple area would be about ten miles north of that, on the way to Samaria! This is quite unthinkable, for such a city would not be the Jerusalem of Jewish memories and associations, and a Temple in any other locality than Mount Moriah would hardly be the Temple of Jewish hope” (J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book, IV, 32).

Answer:

Israel will have the only sanctuary and priesthood in the world during the millennial age, so the Temple courts and sacred area will need to be greatly enlarged to accommodate the vast number of worshippers and the priests who will serve them (Isa. 2:3, 60:14, 61:6, Zech. 8:20-23). Various Old Testament prophecies speak of great geological changes that will occur in Palestine at the time of Christ’s Second Coming, so it is not impossible to imagine a 2,500 square mile area for the Temple and city fitted into a reshaped and enlarged land. See Isaiah 26:15, 33:17, 54:2, and especially Zechariah 14:4-10. The latter passage tells us of new valleys and rivers, and a flattening of portions of land “like the Arabah” which then “shall be lifted up.” Presumably the entire Dead Sea region will be lifted more than 1,300 feet, above the present sea level, for it will contain fish “after their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many” (Ezek. 47:10). Revelation 16:20 informs us that at the end of the Great Tribulation gigantic earthquakes will cause islands and mountains to vanish. Thus, both testaments speak of topographical and geographical changes that will accompany the inauguration of the millennial kingdom. Jerusalem itself will be the capital of the world, the beloved city (Rev. 20:9), and its size will surely be proportionate to its importance. If Nineveh, the capital of one ancient empire, was sixty miles in circumference (Jonah 3:3; cf. Baxter’s discussion, IV, 170), why would it be impossible for the millennial Jerusalem to be forty?

With regard to the problem of the Millennial Temple being located about ten miles north of Jerusalem, God specifically indicates to Ezekiel that the Temple area will no longer adjoin the royal palace as in the days of old (43:7-9). The point is clearly stated in 43:12 — “This is the law of the house: upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.” Vast topographical changes will not make Palestine less the Promised Land for Israel, nor will a centralized, enlarged Temple ten miles removed from the city be a disappointment to Israelites who have been accustomed to thinking of it in terms of Mount Moriah. The important thing is that the glory of Jehovah will fill the Temple (43:5), and the city will be renamed on the basis that “Jehovah is there” (48:35).

2.       “It is unthinkable that a system of animal sacrifices will be reinstituted after the one perfect sacrifice of Christ has been accomplished, especially in the light of Hebrews 7-10.”

Answer:

While this might seem to be a most formidable objection to the literality of the Millennial Temple, several important considerations tend to modify the force of this objection:

[1]       The millennial system of sacrifices described by Ezekiel differs profoundly from the Aaronic system, so that it is not simply a reinstitution of Mosaic Judaism as many have claimed. These changes could not have escaped the notice of post-captivity Jews, such as Zerubbabel and Joshua, who, seeing the glorious context into which Ezekiel placed these new ordinances, would have realized immediately that the prophecy could only be fulfilled in the kingdom age. Therefore, they made no effort to build such a temple after the exile. Dwight Pentecost (Things to Come, 1958, pp. 520-524) points out that there will be no Ark of the Covenant, Table of the Law, Cherubim, Mercy Seat, Veil, Golden Candlestick, or Table of Showbread. Instead of a high priest, there will be a prince who has some royal and priestly powers, but will actually be neither king nor high priest. The Levites will have fewer temple privileges except for the sons of Zadok who will serve as priests. The Feast of Pentecost is omitted as well as the great Day of Atonement, and there is no evening sacrifice. The dimensions of the temple and courts are changed and they are removed from the city. With regard to additions that will be made, Nathanael West (The Thousand Years in Both Testaments, p. 429; quoted by Pentecost, p. 522) states: “The entrance of the ‘Glory’ into Ezekiel’s Temple to dwell there, forever; the Living Waters that flow, enlarging from beneath the Altar; the suburbs, the wonderful trees of healing, the new distribution of the land according to the 12 tribes, their equal portion therein, the readjustment of the tribes themselves, the Prince’s portion, and the City’s new name, ‘Jehovah-Shammah,’ all go to prove that New Israel restored is a converted people, worshiping God ‘in Spirit and in Truth.’”

The later rabbis, who lost the true significance of Old Testament prophecy, were deeply troubled by the contradictions between Moses and Ezekiel, and hoped that Elijah would explain away the difficulties when he returns to the earth! Blackwood (op. cit., p. 22) cites another rabbinic source to the effect that “the entire prophecy would have been excluded from the canon were it not for the devoted labor of Rabbi Hanina ben Hezekiah, a scholar of the first century A.D., who must have written an extensive commentary on Ezekiel: ‘Three hundred barrels of oil were provided for him for light and he sat in an upper chamber where he reconciled all discrepancies’ (Babylonian Talmud, Menahoth 45a).” A similar dilemma confronts modern Christian scholars who deny a literal millennium. For example, the contributor to Ellicott’s Commentary on Ezekiel twice insists that the prophecy cannot be literally fulfilled “except on the supposition of physical changes in the land”; but this is exactly what the Bible tells us will happen at the time of inauguration of the millennium. Such objections, therefore, simply beg the question.

[2]       Just because animal sacrifices and priests have no place in Christianity does not mean that they will have no place in Israel after the rapture of the Church; for there is a clear distinction made throughout the Scriptures between Israel and the Church. And just because God will have finished His work of sanctification in the Church by the time of the Rapture, is no warrant for assuming that He will have finished His work of instruction, testing, and sanctification of Israel. In fact, one of the main purposes of the thousand-year earthly kingdom of Christ will be to vindicate His chosen people Israel before the eyes of all nations (Isaiah 60, 61). It is obvious that the Book of Hebrews was written to Christians, and we have no right to insist that Israelites during the Millennium will also be Christians, without priests, without sacrifices, and without a Temple. Saints like John the Baptist who died before Pentecost were not Christians (John 3:29, Matt. 11:11); and those who are saved following the rapture of the Church will likewise be excluded from membership in the Bride of Christ, though they will be “made perfect” like all the redeemed (Heb. 12:23).

[3]       Even in the age of grace, God deems it necessary for Christians to be reminded of the awful price that Jesus paid, through the symbolism of the bread and the cup. Drinking of this “cup of blessing” (1 Cor.10:16) does not involve a re-offering of the blood of Christ in contradiction to the Book of Hebrews, but serves as a powerful “remembrance” of Christ and a powerful proclaiming of “the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:25-26). Likewise, in the context of distinctive Israelite worship, the five different offerings, four of them with blood-shedding, will serve as a constant reminder to millennial Jews (who will not yet be glorified) of the awful and complete sacrifice which their Messiah, now present in their midst, had suffered centuries before to make their salvation possible. In view of the fact that there may be no other bloodshed in the entire world, because of a return of semi-Edenic conditions (cf. Isa. 11:6-9), such sacrifices upon the Temple altar would be doubly impressive.

However, such sacrifices will not be totally voluntary and purely memorial as is true of the Christian eucharist. Ezekiel says that God will “accept” people on the basis of animal sacrifices (43:27), and they are “to make atonement for the house of Israel” (45:17; cf. 45:15). In other words, just as in Old Testament times, the privilege of life and physical blessing in the theocratic kingdom will be contingent upon outward conformity to the ceremonial law. Such conformity did not bring salvation in Old Testament times, but saved Israelites willingly conformed. Only faith in God could bring salvation, and this has been God’s plan in every dispensation. It is a serious mistake, therefore, to insist that these sacrifices will be expiatory. They were certainly not expiatory in the Mosaic economy (“it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” — Hebrews 10:4), and they will not be so in the Millennium. But their symbolic and pedagogic value, unlike the communion service, will be upheld by a legalistic system of enforced participation. For example, those who decide to neglect the annual Feast of Tabernacles will be punished by a drought or a plague (Zech.14:16-19). If the true significance of the five offerings be understood, it is not difficult to see how they could serve as effective vehicles of divine instruction and discipline for Israel and the nations during the Kingdom age. (For a detailed discussion of the theological and exegetical issues involved, see J. C. Whitcomb, “Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel” (Grace Theological Journal 6:2 [Fall, 1985], pp. 201-217), published in abbreviated form (same title) in Israel My Glory 45:2 [April/May, 1987].)

3.       “When we read in Ezekiel 47:1-12 of a stream that issues from the Temple and increases to a great river within a few miles with no tributaries, enters into the Dead Sea and heals it of its death, and has trees growing on its banks which have perennial foliage and fruit, the leaves being for “medicine” and the fruit, although for food, never wasting, surely we are in the realm of idealism! We find such a stream pictured in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1,2), but surely we cannot picture such a stream during the millennial age.”

Answer:

Such an objection is based largely upon the fallacious notion that the supernatural aspects of eschatology (including the descriptions of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and 22) are purely idealistic pictures. Doubtless many Jews who studied the Old Testament Messianic prophecies before the First Coming of Christ felt the same way. But when Christ came, He changed water to wine, multiplied loaves and fishes, instantly calmed a great storm, healed the sick and raised the dead (Isa. 35:5,6; Matt. 11:5). He said that those who did not believe all that the prophets spoke were “fools and slow of heart” (Luke 24:25).

In the light of these First Coming fulfillments and our Lord’s strong admonition, it would seem to be the better part of wisdom to take these millennial prophecies literally. Who are we to say that there cannot be any supernatural aspects to the millennial reign of the glorified Christ on the earth? Some who deny the literality of the Temple stream admit that Edenic conditions will largely prevail in that age, with longevity, universal peace, transformation of animal life, and blossoming of deserts. But if we consider carefully some of the conditions that existed in the Garden of Eden, we will discover that among them were trees and fruits that had super-vegetative powers and a stream from the Garden that divided into four rivers (Gen. 2:10-14). Few who deny the literality of the Temple stream of Ezekiel 47 would go so far as to deny the literality of the rivers and trees of Genesis 2. But is not this an inconsistency? Cannot God accomplish these things for His own purposes in ways which we cannot now understand? If the natural processes of our present world serve as the ultimate guide for what can or cannot happen in the age to come, we not only wipe out much of the Biblical eschatology, but end up denying even the miraculous works of Christ. This is simply too great a price to pay to maintain the idealistic view of Ezekiel’s prophecies.

(For a helpful analysis of the Millennial Temple prophecy of Ezekiel 40-48, see Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord. [Chicago: Moody Press, 1969], pp. 233-279).

This article was taken, with Dr. Whitcomb’s permission, from The Diligent Workman Journal (Volume 2, Issue 1), May 1994.

For a related study:  Do You Interpret the Bible Literally?  Six Tests to See if You Do


 

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Chapter I The New State Of Israel

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean sea in the background, in Rishon LeZion. עברית: דגל ישראל בראשון לציון (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Theodor Herzel announced in 1897 the purpose of the Zionist movement—“to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law”—few realized how dramatic would be the fulfillment. The Jews had dreamed for centuries of re-establishing themselves in their ancient land. Now this longing was translated into action. Few nations could point to a richer heritage as a basis for the hope of the restoration of the nation.

The History Of Israel In The Old Testament

The history of Israel began more than thirty-five hundred years ago, when, according to the early chapters of Genesis, the divine call was extended to Abraham to leave his ancient land of Ur and proceed to a land that God would show him. After some delay, Abraham finally entered the land, and there the promised son Isaac was born.

Though God miraculously fulfilled the promise of a son in Isaac, Abraham himself never possessed the Promised Land but lived as a pilgrim and stranger. Rich in earthly goods, Abraham never fulfilled his hope of a homeland in his lifetime. His son Isaac shared a similar fate. Under Jacob, Isaac’s son, the people of Israel forsook the Promised Land entirely and at the invitation of Joseph set up their homes in Egypt where they lived for hundreds of years. It was not until their very existence was threatened in Egypt by a hostile king that the day finally came for Israel’s possession of the land. With Moses as their appointed leader, they began their momentous migration, one of the largest ever undertaken by any nation. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, they finally completed their pilgrimage from Egypt to the land promised Abraham.

The book of Joshua records the conquest of Palestine and its partial occupation. The nation Israel, however, was doomed to generations of oppression and moral declension. They periodically were oppressed by Gentile nations about them with occasional cycles of spiritual and political revival, led by judges whom God raised up. The political anarchy which characterized the period of the judges was succeeded by the reign of the kings, beginning with Saul, and was followed by the glory and political power of the kingdoms under David and Solomon. Under Solomon, Israel reached its highest point of prestige, wealth, and splendor, and much of the land which God promised Abraham temporarily came under the sway of Solomon.

Again, however, moral deterioration attacked from within. Because of Solomon’s disregard of the law against marriage to the heathen, many of his wives were pagans who did not share his faith in God. His children, therefore, were raised by their pagan mothers and they were trained to worship idols instead of the God of Israel. The resulting judgment of God upon Israel was manifested in the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel. The ten tribes, united to form the Kingdom of Israel, persisted in complete apostasy from God, and idol worship became the national religion. In 721 B.C. the ten tribes were carried off into captivity by the Assyrians. The Kingdom of Judah, including the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, continued for a little more than another century until they too were taken captive by Babylonia. For a generation, the land of Israel was denuded of the descendants of Abraham.

The book of Ezra records the restoration of Israel which followed the captivities. In keeping with the promise given to Jeremiah that the captivity would continue for only seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10), the first expedition of the children of Israel, led by Zerubbabel, began their trek to their homeland. The book of Ezra records their early steps in restoring the land and building the temple. Nehemiah completes the picture with the building of the walls and the restoration of the city of Jerusalem itself. Once again Israel was in their ancient land, re-established as a nation.

The history of Israel from that point on was not without its serious problems. First, the warriors of Macedon under Alexander the Great swept over Palestine. Then they were subject to the rule of the Seleucian monarchs and later were controlled by Syrians. One of the sad chapters in Israel’s history was the Maccabean revolt which occurred in 167 B.C. and which resulted in severe persecution of the people of Israel. In 63 B.C. Pompey established Roman control and from then on the land of Palestine, the homeland of Israel, was under Roman control for centuries. It was in this period that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. During Christ’s lifetime on earth, Israel was under the heel of Rome and Christ Himself was sent to the cross on the basis of Roman authority.

The History Of Israel Since Christ

The subsequent history of Israel was most unhappy. In A.9. 70, Titus, the Roman general, ordered Jerusalem and its beautiful temple destroyed, and a quarter of a million Jews perished. The remaining Jews continued to revolt and finally in A.9. 135 the desolation of Judea was ordered. Almost a thousand towns and villages were left in ashes and fifty fortresses razed to the ground. The people of Israel, except for a few scattered families who remained, were dispersed to the four winds.

From A.D. 135 to modern times, the nation Israel made their homes all over the world. In the eighth century the Abbasid Arabs took possession of Israel’s ancient land. For a brief period the Frankish crusaders were established in Palestine only to be defeated by Saladin in 1187. The Ottoman Turks assumed power in 1517 and the land of Palestine continued as part of the Ottoman Empire until Turkey was defeated in World War I. The conquering of Palestine by General Allenby in 1917 and the British occupation of Palestine proved to be a dramatic turning point in the history of Israel.

The Return Of Israel To The Land

Before control of Palestine was wrested from the Turks, the Zionist movement had already begun. As early as 1871 some efforts were made by the Jews to re-establish themselves in a small way, but in the entire area there was not one Jewish village and only the more learned were familiar with the Hebrew tongue. In 1881 modern Zionist resettlement began in earnest. At that time only 25,000 Jews lived in the entire area. The Zionist idea as stated in “The Basle Programme” was adopted by the first Zionist congress called by Theodor Herzl in 1897. Its published aim was to reclaim the land of Palestine as the home for Jewish people. By the outbreak of World War I, the number of Jews had swelled to 80,000.

The Zionist movement was, given impetus during World War I when British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour instituted the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917, in which he stated: “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…“This declaration, though welcomed by the Jews, was opposed by the Arabs and little came of it. Meanwhile a British mandate given over the land of Palestine by the League of Nations became effective, but through a desire of the British to maintain friendship with the Arab nations, no progress was allowed in establishing a homeland for Israel.

In 1939, during the early portion of World War II, the British government issued a white paper which set forth the conditions for establishing an independent Arab state in Palestine. By that time, 400,000 Jews were in the country. The restrictions on Jewish immigration, however, were severe, and future immigration was subject to Arab consent. Only a small part of the land could be sold to the Jews.

During World War II, however, due to the world-wide sympathy aroused for the people of Israel because of the slaughter of six million Jews under Nazi domination, the feeling became widespread that Israel should have a homeland to which its refugees could come and establish themselves. An Arab league was formed in 1945 to oppose further Jewish expansion. After World War II the British government turned Palestine over to the United Nations and under the direction of this body a partition of Palestine was recommended with the division into a Jewish state and an Arab state. By 1948 Jewish population had risen to 650,000.

The Establishment Of The New State Of Israel

On May 14, 1948, as the British withdrew control, Israel proclaimed itself an independent state within the boundaries set up by the United Nations. Before the day passed, however, Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, and open warfare broke out. Though both sides suffered heavily, a series of truces began. The first was on June 11 and was followed by a renewal of hostilities which ended in a final truce on July 17. On January 7, 1949, a general armistice was arranged in which Israel was allowed to retain the additional land secured during the hostilities. Israel itself was admitted to the United Nations. In the years that followed no adequate solution was found for the many difficulties attending a permanent peace. The Arab nations refused to recognize Israel and denied it the right of existence. Israel on her part adopted an unrealistic approach to the refugee problem which continued to be an open sore.

Since 1949, the nation Israel has made rapid strides until today it is well established. Though surrounded by enemies, Israel rests in its security of superior arms and effective military organization. Of significance is the unassailable fact, that for the first time since A.D. 70, the nation Israel is independent and self-sustaining, and is recognized as a political state.

The restoration of Israel to its ancient land and its establishment as a political government is almost without parallel in the history of the world. Never before has an ancient people, scattered for so many centuries, been able to return to their ancient land and re-establish themselves with such success and such swift progress as is witnessed in the new state of Israel.

Political And Military Growth Of Israel

Of special significance is the fact that Israel is a recognized political state. In its original declaration on May 14, 1948, provision was made for the establishment of an ordered government in the form of a democratic parliamentary republic. The principal legislative body in Israel is the knesset, from a Hebrew word which means “assembly.” The knesset meets in Jerusalem, which is the capitol of Israel, and temporarily occupies quarters adapted for this purpose. A government center is planned on an elevation which will face Mount Herzl where the founder of the Zionist movement is buried. The knesset has power to make and amend laws, and its approval is necessary before a government can take office. A new government must be formed at such times as the knesset votes no confidence in the existing government. Of its 120 members, the great majority are of Jewish background, but a few Arabs are included.

The constitution of Israel provides that any citizen over twenty-one may be elected, and each citizen over eighteen, without respect to sex, race, or religion, is entitled to vote for members of the knesset. Though most matters of law are handled by civil courts divided into three main categories—namely, magistrate courts, district courts, and the supreme court—a series of special courts corresponding to the religion of respective citizens have been established in regard to marriage, divorce, and similar matters. A Jew therefore is referred to the rabbinical courts, Moslems to the Moslem court, and Christians to the Christian court. All of the religious courts are under the control of the Ministry of Religion. The internal government of Israel allows considerable freedom to minority groups, and provides a proper legal basis for this enterprising nation to grow.

One of the important factors of Israel’s progress has been its highly efficient army. Formed under great difficulty during the early days of the state of Israel when they were being attacked by enemies on all sides, through heroic efforts, it was able to give a good account of itself and actually enlarge the area of Israel by some fifty per cent in the resulting hostilities. The army is called in Hebrew Tsahal, representing the initials of the defense army in Israel known in Hebrew as the Tseva Hagana Leisrael. Included in its organization are forces equipped to fight on land, sea, and air. The army has been trained by experienced officers from Europe and America and several military academies and a staff college have been created.

The corps of the army consists of volunteers who are supplemented by reserves. Men on reaching the age of eighteen serve for two and one half years. They are eligible for service until they are forty-five. Single women are also given two years of training. A system has been devised by which reservists are settled in border areas and Israel is reputed to have the fastest mobilization system of any nation in the world. Along with the development of the army itself has been the creation of an arms industry which has enabled Israel not only to supply its own forces, but to export in large quantities arms of various kinds, including one of the best automatic weapons available today.

Humanly speaking, it is because of the efficiency of their army that Israel has enjoyed peace since the armistice of 1949 and was able to overrun the Gaza Strip in the hostilities which broke out in October, 1956. Though the nations which surround Israel number some thirty million and conceivably could overwhelm the small nation, the army of Israel is more than a match for all of its enemies combined. Because of this, the nation Israel today is in a high state of confidence coupled with alertness.

Development Of Agriculture And Industry

Probably the most astounding aspect of the restoration of Israel is the rapid reclamation of the eroded land and wasted resources which for centuries have characterized the area which Israel now occupies. Travelers who visit Syria and Jordan first before coming to Israel are immediately impressed with the dramatic difference. Everywhere there is evidence of astounding progress in Israel.

One of the first problems which beset Israel was to reclaim the land strewn with rocks and seemingly hopeless as far as vegetation was concerned. By prodigious toil, often on the part of immigrants who had little knowledge of agriculture before, the land was cleared, terraced, and cultivated. In Israel, as in surrounding countries, the scarcity of water is a principal problem. Huge projects provided water for irrigation, not only for the northern portion of the nation, but also for the reclamation of the Negiv, the southern desert which forms a major portion of Israel’s territory.

Travelers through Israel are introduced to field after field of cultivated crops on land that was hopelessly eroded just a few years before. By 1961, eighty million trees had been planted, and the continuing program eventually will make a major contribution in conserving water and providing timber. Orange trees have been planted in abundance, as well as other citrus fruits, and oranges have become a major export of the new nation. Crops such as cotton, sugar cane, grapes, peanuts, and sisal have become major productions, just a few years ago eggs were closely rationed. By 1961 Israel was exporting almost a million eggs a day.

Though hampered somewhat by failure to conclude peace agreements with Arab nations which share the water available, by making the most of its own opportunities, Israel is building a gigantic irrigation system, drawing water from the Yarkon as well as from the Jordan and sending it south to the Negiv. Thousands of acres are being restored to fertility, and it is estimated that the reclaimed land, will permit another one million immigrants during the next decade. Not only have desert lands been reclaimed, but one of the spectacular achievements was the draining of the swampland of the Valley of Esdraelon, the elimination of the mosquito menace, and the restoration of this broad area to cultivation, which has proved to be one of the most fertile areas in all Israel.

Progress in agriculture and reclamation of the land has been matched to some extent by establishment of industries. Textiles have now become an important part of Israel’s production. The cutting of diamonds imported for this purpose, the manufacture of military weapons and arms, and the exploitation of the measureless chemical wealth of the Dead Sea are major factors of Israel’s economy. Some oil has already been discovered as well as gas. One by one problems that beset Israel at the beginning are being solved.

The expanding economy has also furnished a basis for construction of fabulous new cities. The new city of Jerusalem, the capitol of Israel, has been beautifully constructed of stone with lovely streets and parks and by 1961 had attained a population of 160,000. Tel Aviv, the largest of the cities in Israel, has a population nearing 400,000, and offers every convenience of a modern city. Next to Tel Aviv is Haifa, with a population of 175,000. The growth of the cities has kept up with the growth in population which has almost tripled since 1948, reaching over two million in 1960.

Educational System And Revival Of Biblical Hebrew

One of the impressive sights in Israel is the spectacular rise of its educational system. Not only are new elementary schools built throughout the country to take care of the expanding population, but the Hebrew university with an enrollment in 1959-60 of seven thousand is one of the finest in the Middle East. In addition the Israel Institute of Technology has some twenty-five hundred students with training in various aspects of modern science. In the entire educational system Biblical Hebrew is used as the spoken and written language and has restored this ancient language to popular usage in Israel. New terms are being coined to meet modern situations. The revival of Hebrew inevitably ties the people of Israel to their ancient Scriptures in a way that otherwise would have been impossible.

The revival of Hebrew has also paved the way for a renewal of Biblical studies. Unlike American universities which neglect the Bible, the Old Testament is taught in public schools, including the universities, and is considered essential to any true education. Some four hundred study groups have been formed by the Israel Bible Study Association with a membership approaching twenty thousand. The reading of the Old Testament is popular, though often attended by little theological discernment. Even the New Testament is read as religious literature, though not considered on a par with the Old Testament by orthodox Jews. To some extent the new interest in the Bible has created an increased interest in the Jewish religion as such.

Religious Life Of Israel

It is to be expected with the rebirth of the nation and its renewed interest in the Bible that attendance at the synagogue has taken on new life in Israel. Visitors normally will find the synagogue crowded, though meeting in new and spacious buildings. It soon becomes evident, however, that the religious life of Israel is to some extent one of outer form. The religious exercises are devoted primarily to revival of their traditions, their reassurance of the general providence of God, and the application to some extent of moral standards. For Israel their religion is one of works rather than of faith, and their redemption is to be achieved by their own efforts.

The religious life of Israel is directed by some 430 rabbis who actively carry on their duties. It is to these leaders that Israel turns for direction. As a result of the revival of Judaism, the Sabbath is strictly enforced and everyone observes it, even those who never attend the synagogue. The religious life of Israel is largely in the hands of the orthodox, though the majority of ordinary Jews in Israel do not necessarily follow their leaders. The revival of interest, therefore, in the Jewish faith and the religious activities which characterize it, to some extent is an expression of patriotism and enthusiasm for the progress of the state rather than for theological or spiritual reasons. Nevertheless, the movement is a phenomenon without parallel in the modern history of Israel and is doing much to revive their ancient faith. The land of Israel which historically has been the cradle of Judaism, Christianity, and the Moslem faith is once again witnessing a revival of that which held sway for centuries.

Political And Prophetic Significance Of The New State Of Israel

The significance of the new state of Israel is bound up with the growing importance of the Middle East in international affairs. The land of Israel is located geographically in the hub of three major continents. Because of this strategic location, it is involved in the economic life of the world. Any major nation seeking to dominate the world would need to conquer this portion. Its military value is also obvious, for the Middle East is not only a channel of world commerce but is the gateway to the immense reserves in oil and chemicals found in that portion of the world. It is inevitable that any future world conflict would engulf this portion of the world as a primary objective. It is especially significant that from a Biblical standpoint the Middle East remains a center of interest. World events which are yet to unfold will find this area also its major theater. It is for this reason that students of the Bible, whether Jews or Christians, find the development of the new state of Israel one of the most important and significant events of the twentieth century.

The repossession of a portion of their ancient land by the new state of Israel is especially striking because of the promise given by God to Abraham of perpetual title to the land between Egypt and the Euphrates. As recorded in Genesis 15:18 the covenant of God with Abraham included the promise: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” This promise was subsequently repeated in Genesis 17:8 in these words: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Consideration will be given to these passages in later discussion, but their mention at this time demonstrates the great significance of the reoccupation of this area by the new state of Israel.

In the subsequent history of Israel neither Abraham nor his immediate posterity were able to possess the land and, as stated earlier, only at the time of the Exodus was the land ever actually possessed. Of great importance are the Scriptures which describe the dispersion of Israel in the captivities of Babylon and Assyria and the later scattering of Israel resulting from the persecution of the Romans. This will be followed by Israel’s ultimate regathering. A study of some of the great promises relating to this future restoration of Israel to the land will be examined in detail later. The revival of Israel after these many centuries of dispersion introduces the major questions relating to the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and whether the creation of the new state of Israel is indeed a confirmation of Israel’s continuance as a nation.

The return of Israel and the organization of the new state of Israel is especially significant in the light of prophecies to be examined concerning Israel’s future time of trouble when Israel is pictured in the land, as for instance in Matthew 24:15-26. The predictions of the grand climax of the nation’s history, given in Daniel 9:26, 27, when Israel is described as making a covenant with the future world ruler, is of special importance in the light of their renewed presence in their ancient land. Of the many peculiar phenomena which characterize the present generation, few events can claim equal significance as far as Biblical prophecy is concerned with that of the return of Israel to their land. It constitutes a preparation for the end of the age, the setting for the coming of the Lord for His church, and the fulfillment of Israel’s prophetic destiny.

Bible Promises To Abraham (Series Israel In Prophecy) Ch 2

http://www.walvoord.com/audio/by/title/a_prophetic_preview_of_world_eventsStudy By: John F. Walvoord      Link to Audio Study by Walvoord

From the Series: Israel in Prophecy

Posted By dtbrents

In approaching the study of eschatology, the theology of Biblical prophecy, one is plunged immediately into a major division of divine revelation which is determinative in theology as a whole. Eschatology is the doctrine of last things, the word being derived from eschatos, meaning last, and logos, referring to theology as a rational science. In its larger dimension, it includes all that was prophetically future at the time it was revealed. This is subject to further subdivision into eschatology which has been fulfilled and eschatology which is still future or unfulfilled.

In modern theology this simple definition has become obscured. The modern concept of “realized” eschatology reduces its status to that of divine purpose. By so doing, it robs eschatology of its quality of specific prediction of the future. This point of view is based on the idea that it is impossible for anyone, even for writers of the Word of God, to predict the future.

Orthodox theology, however, has never submitted to such a limitation and throughout the history of the church it has been assumed that the Bible can speak authoritatively on things to come. Though there is evident difference of opinion as to how prophecy should be interpreted, the orthodox position does not question the authenticity of prophecy itself. In this discussion, it is assumed that the Bible in its original writings was given by inspiration of God and is an infallible revelation of His mind and purpose. The problem before us then is not one of demonstrating the validity of prophecy or the accuracy of the Scriptures. It is rather one of theological induction and interpretation of the revelation given in the Bible.

Major Divisions Of The Divine Program

In order to approach the subject of eschatology intelligently, some principle of organization must be adopted in the interpretation of the broad and extensive field of Scriptural prophecy. Among a number of possibilities, two such principles may be mentioned by way of introduction.

First, the eschatological program of God may be considered in four major divisions: (1) The program for angels, including the present ministry and future blessedness of the elect angels and the present activity and future damnation of fallen angels, usually embraced in the branch of systematic theology called satanology. (2) The program of God for Gentiles embodied in the broad provisions of God’s covenant with Adam and Noah and subsequently unfolded in the visions given to the Prophet Daniel in the book that bears his name. Included in God’s program for the Gentiles is provision for the salvation of those who turn to God in true faith. (3) The divine program for Israel is unfolded in the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and new covenants and in a large measure is unfolded as the principal subject of the Old Testament beginning in Genesis 12. It includes all of God’s dealings with Israel in the past and predicts a consummation in the future, when a time of great tribulation will befall the nation. The time of tribulation will be followed by Israel’s regathering, restoration, and glory in the millennial kingdom. It is this division which will constitute our area of study. (4) The divine program for the church unfolded in the New Testament consisting in the divine program in the present age and its eschatological consummation in the translation of the church, its judgment, and reward. As presented in the New Testament, it falls into two broad areas: (a) the professing church, i.e. Christendom, destined to become a world religion of apostate character before its ultimate judgment by God at the second coming of Christ; (b) the calling out of the true church, the body of Christ, within the professing church, composed of Jew and Gentile alike on equal basis joined by the baptism of the Spirit, placed in Christ, born again of the Spirit of God, and indwelt by the triune God. The salvation and sanctification of those who form the body of Christ is the central purpose of God in this present age and in some sense suspends the progress, of God’s dealings with the Gentile nations and Israel until God’s purpose for the church has been realized.

Alternate Approach Of Covenant Theology

The fourfold division suggested for the program of God for His moral creatures is a comprehensive and illuminating approach to the tremendous mass of Scriptures which bear upon the divine purpose of God. An alternative to this is provided by a second approach, that of the so-called covenant theologians. It is not our purpose to deal in detail with this point of view, but its principal elements can be stated. It is the assumption of the covenant theologian that the major purpose of God is the salvation of the elect, embodied in a covenant of grace or covenant of redemption, and that all other purposes of God are subordinate to this. For this reason the divine revelation as it relates to angels is usually ignored as somewhat irrelevant. The contrast between God’s program for Israel and the church is usually replaced by the concept that the church is a continuation of true Israel or that the church embraces all the saved of all ages.

At least two major objections can be mentioned opposing the covenant theologians’ interpretation. First, the covenant theologian is guilty of the reductive error, namely, taking one facet of God’s divine program and making it all-determinative. It leaves without adequate explanation the dealings of God with the natural world, and with the mass of unsaved humanity, which is regarded simply as an unfortunate context for God’s major purpose. Second, the interpretation of Scripture required for covenant theology involves passing over the specifics of hundreds of prophecies in Scripture and taking these either in a spiritualized sense or ignoring them altogether.

Preferable is the point of view that regards God’s major purpose in the universe as that of self-manifestation. In this approach the summum bonum is the manifestation of the infinite perfections of God which constitute His glory. With this point of view, the natural world takes on wonderful meaning in that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” The salvation of the elect in all dispensations is recognized as a major aspect of manifesting His glory, for in this alone can His infinite love and righteousness merge in grace, but other aspects of the divine program are not displaced. The separate programs of God for the angels, Gentiles, Israel, and the church each bring out different facets of God’s infinite perfection such as righteousness in relation to the angels, faithfulness in relation to Israel, sovereignty in relation to the Gentiles, and grace and truth in relation to the church. Even the condemnation of the lost, pre-eminently demonstrating God’s infinite righteousness and holiness, is seen in the context of divine love in that their hopeless estate was needless because Christ has died for them.

Principle Of Interpretation

In the broad approach of interpretation of prophecy attention needs to be given to two alternative principles of interpretation. That adopted in this study is the principle that Scripture should be interpreted in its normative, literal sense, except in such instances where a figurative or nonliteral interpretation is obviously indicated. In applying this principle no distinction needs to be observed between Scripture which is noneschatological and Scripture which is eschatological. The same hermeneutical principles which apply to any other portion of Scripture apply equally well to eschatology.

An alternative point of view was advanced by Augustine who suggested a dual hermeneutics, namely, that while all Scripture should be interpreted normally—that is, literally—prophecy or eschatology was to be understood in a figurative or nonliteral way. His principal reason for this dual hermeneutics was that a literal interpretation of prophecy would lead to chiliasm, or the premillennial interpretation. Modern amillenarians have not improved much on Augustine’s original dismissal of premillennialism. Their principal objection continues to be that the premillennial system is hopelessly confused and self-contradictory. The answer to this objection, while having many facets, is in the main a demonstration that premillennial interpretation is not only consistent with Scripture but consistent with itself and provides a program for eschatology which is not afforded in any other point of view.

It will be impossible within the confines of this study to debate in any satisfactory way the question of premillennialism versus amillennialism. This has been presented many times by competent scholars. Such works as J. Dwight Pentecost’s Things to Come; Charles Feinberg’s Premillennialism or Amillennialism?; Alva J. McClain’s The Greatness of the Kingdom; Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology; The Basis of the Premillennial Faith by Charles Ryrie; and my own volume, The Millennial Kingdom, set forth a sufficient answer for those who are willing to examine their pages.

The purpose of this study will be to examine Biblical prophecies relating to Israel and the theological implications arising from such an interpretation. The approach would be basically Scriptural and the reasonableness of the interpretation its own major defense. The best answer to the charge that there is no distinction between Israel and the church and similar amillennial dictums is to present what the Scriptures actually reveal. Fundamental to this whole point of view is the exegesis and interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant.

Exegesis Of The Abrahamic Covenant

The first statement of the covenant of God made with Abraham, given in Genesis 12:1-3, was originally delivered to Abraham while still in Ur of the Chaldees and is stated in these words: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” God promised Abraham that subject to his obedience to the command to leave his own country and go to a land that God would show him, certain blessings would accrue to him.

First, certain promises were given to Abraham personally. Of Abraham, God would make a great nation. His divine blessing would rest upon Abraham. His name would be great. Abraham himself would be a blessing. In regard to Abraham, God promised a special circumstance in which He would bless those who blessed Abraham and would curse those who cursed him. The blessing promised through Abraham, according to verse three, was to extend to all families of the earth.

Second, though the Abrahamic covenant as given was directed primarily to Abraham as a person, it is obvious that out of it come two other major aspects of the covenant. Not only did God direct promises to Abraham himself, but the promise was given of the formation of a great nation out of Abraham. Third, the blessings falling on Abraham and his descendants would reach out unto all other families of the earth. Hence, an ordinary exegesis of the Abrahamic covenant in its original pronouncement involves (I) promises to Abraham; (2) promises to the nation, i.e., Israel; (3) promise of blessing to all nations, i.e., the Gentiles.

The prophecy of this Scripture is enriched by further revelation given later. In Genesis 12:7 God declared to Abraham: “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” The promise of the land is reiterated in Genesis 13:14-17 where Abraham is exhorted to survey the land in all directions. In addition, Abraham’s seed, destined to occupy the land, is described as being as numerous as the dust of the earth.

The dimensions of the land promised to the seed of Abraham are recorded in Genesis 15:18-20. The entire area from the river of Egypt unto the Euphrates river is given to Abraham and his posterity as a perpetual possession. Further details are given concerning the promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-8, including the fact that he would have a multitude of seed, and would be the father of many nations. In recognition of this his name is changed from Abram, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of a multitude.” It is further promised that he would be exceedingly fruitful (17:6) and that kings would descend from him. The covenant with Abraham is declared in verse seven to be everlasting and the promise of possession of the land forever is reiterated in verse eight. The Abrahamic covenant is subject to further elucidation in Genesis 22:15-18 after Abraham’s seed is limited to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 21:12, in the words: “For in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Taking into consideration the fact that Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau, the promise is further limited to Jacob and his descendants in Genesis 28:13, 14 in the revelation: “I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed: and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

These many Scriptures dealing with the Abrahamic covenant will be discussed more at length later, but their mere itemization establishes the basic promises embodied in the Abrahamic covenant which can now be summarized as follows: (1) Abraham’s name shall be great. (2) Abraham shall personally have great blessing. (3) Whoever will bless Abraham will be blessed and whoever will curse Abraham will be cursed. (4) From Abraham will come a great nation, innumerable as the dust of the earth. (5) Abraham will be the father of many nations, not just one. (6) Kings shall come from the line of Abraham. (7) Abraham’s seed shall inherit the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river as an everlasting possession. (8) God will be the God of Abraham and his seed forever. (9) Abraham’s seed shaft conquer their enemies. (10) In Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth shah be blessed. (11) The covenant with Abraham shall be an everlasting covenant. (12) The promises to Abraham’s seed are narrowed to the descendants of Isaac. (13) The promises to Abraham’s seed are narrowed to descendants of Jacob, especially as pertaining to the land and the promise of blessing to all nations.

In arriving at these details, the plain language of Scripture and the promises of the Abrahamic covenant have simply been itemized. If the facts stand as they seem to be presented in the Scriptures, a massive presentation of the divine purpose of God for Abraham’s seed is thus unfolded. It is a dramatic declaration of a new divine purpose quite different from His declared purpose for Gentiles as a whole. A particular rill of humanity has been sovereignly chosen to fulfill a divine purpose distinct in its character and in its fulfillment.

It is obvious, however, to any interpreter of Scripture that all will not agree on such a literal interpretation of these promises and it is therefore necessary to give attention not only to the exegesis but to the interpretation of the words and statements embodied in the Abrahamic covenant and its subsequent enlargement and repetition. Two major considerations confront the interpreter of the Abrahamic covenant: (1) Are these promises to be taken simply and literally, or are they to be interpreted in a non-literal or figurative sense? (2) Are the promises embodied in the Abrahamic covenant sovereignly given or are they contingent upon subsequent obedience on the part of Abraham and his seed? In brief, the issue is literal versus spiritualized interpretation, and the question of whether the covenant is conditional or unconditional.

Are The Promises To Abraham Literal?

In approaching the interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant, one is faced with a determinative decision which goes far beyond the borders of specific promises of this covenant. The issue in a word is whether prophecy can be interpreted literally and normally or whether it should be understood in a figurative or spiritualized sense. The amillennial point of view requires extensive spiritualization of prophecy, whereas the premillennial interpretation is more literal. As related to the Abrahamic covenant, the question hinges on the interpretation of the expression, “the seed of Abraham,” and the specifics that are promised. The problem has been somewhat confused by the fact that some premillenarians have tended to build their system upon an amillennial foundation and have not kept clearly in mind a proper basis for premillennial truth. In general, however, the premillennial point of view requires that the promises given to Abraham should be fulfilled by Abraham. Promises to Abraham’s seed shall be fulfilled by his physical descendants, and promises made to “all families of the earth” will be fulfilled by Gentiles, i.e., those who are not physical descendants of Abraham. Hence, extreme care should be taken in determining precisely what promises are given to what peoples.

Guided by this principle, one can observe certain promises true only of Abraham, i.e., God’s personal blessing upon him, the promise that his name shall be great, and that God will make a great nation of him. The promise given to all nations is limited to the idea that they shall be blessed through Abraham. This of course is subsequently enlarged in God’s total program in grace for believing Gentiles in general and the church in particular. The crux of the interpretative problem, however, lies in the definition of the expression, “the seed of Abraham.” How shall this expression be understood?

An examination of all references to the seed of Abraham in Scripture reveals that the expression is used in three distinct senses. First, there is the natural use, i.e., the natural seed of Abraham referring to those who are actual physical descendants of Abraham. Though there is a sense in which all natural descendants of Abraham are included, such as Ishmael and his descendants and Isaac and his descendants through Esau, it is clear that the particular promises of God to the seed are narrowed first to Isaac and then to Jacob and through Jacob to the twelve tribes of Israel. To them God promises in a special sense to be their God. To them was given the law of Moses, and the perpetual title to the Promised Land is given to them.

Second, the expression “the seed of Abraham” is used in special reference to the spiritual lineage coming from Abraham, that is, those in Israel who trusted in God, who kept the law, and qualified for many of the blessings of the covenant. It is evident, for instance, that all Israelites do not actually inherit the land and that only spiritual Israel will enter the future millennial kingdom and fulfill the promise. The distinction between natural Israel and spiritual Israel is revealed in such major passages as Romans 9-11 and specifically in Romans 9:6-8: “For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: neither because they are Abraham’s seed are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God; but the children of the promise are reckoned for a seed.” It is evident then that the more particular promises of the Abrahamic covenant will not be fulfilled by all the natural seed, but by those in natural Israel who also qualify as spiritual seed. Further, the provision of divine sovereignty is that God apart from human merit determines the selection of Jacob instead of Esau (Romans 9:12, 13). In order to qualify, therefore, for the full promise of God to Israel, art individual had to be, first, of the natural seed of Abraham, i.e., a descendant of Jacob, and, second, one who trusted in God, thereby qualifying as belonging to the spiritual seed.

A third division, however, relating to the spiritual seed of Abraham is unfolded in Galatians 3:6-9 which reads as follows: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentries by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed. So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.” Here we learn that there is also a spiritual seed of Abraham who are Gentiles, those who are not physical descendants of Abraham. Some, on the basis of this Galatians passage, have drawn the unwarranted conclusion that all distinctions between the natural seed of Abraham and the spiritual seed are thereby erased.

The passage itself, however, makes very clear that Gentiles who are recognized as the children of Abraham come under the promise given to the Gentiles and not under promises given to the physical seed of Abraham. The portion of the Abrahamic covenant which is quoted by Paul refers to the Gentiles in the words: “In thee shall all the nations be blessed.” Paul’s conclusion therefore is: “So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.” This means that they come under the blessing promised the nations, but it does not mean that they come under all the promises given to Abraham personally or to his seed in the physical sense. A Gentile in the present age is Abraham’s seed because he is “in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). It is on this basis that Galatians 3:29 states: “And if you are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.”

A Gentile Christian therefore becomes the seed of Abraham not because of any physical lineage with Abraham himself nor simply by imitation of Abraham’s faith, but because he is regarded by God as in Christ who is indeed a physical descendant of Abraham. The promises thereby assured are the promises given to Gentiles, not the particular promises given to Israel.

It may be concluded, therefore, that the seed of Abraham is used (1) of the natural seed of Abraham, more specifically the descendants of Jacob; (2) spiritual Israel, i.e., descendants of Jacob who trust in God; (3) Gentries who are in Christ and are spiritual seed of Abraham, thereby qualifying for the promise of blessing to Gentries in Abraham. Promises addressed to Abraham, therefore, can be apportioned according to the qualifying characteristic of each group. The promise given to Abraham that God would bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him, has to some extent been extended to the entire nation of Israel, even to those who do not qualify as spiritual seed. History has demonstrated God’s faithfulness in dealing with those who have oppressed His ancient people.

The realization of most of the promises, however, depends upon an individual Israelite being spiritual. Only thus will he ever enter into the future millennial kingdom, either as a survivor of the tribulation or as a resurrected saint. The blessings of God to Israel in this life as recorded in the Old Testament have been largely limited to spiritual Israel. Upon natural Israel in unbelief God has heaped His judgment and divine discipline. The promise to the spiritual seed of Abraham among the Gentiles is having a supreme demonstration in this present age in the calling out of the church composed largely of those who in their natural estate were Gentiles. The threefold distinction, therefore, in the seed of Abraham provides a solid basis for understanding eschatology as a whole while maintaining the proper distinction between Israel and the church and between Abraham’s physical seed and Gentiles.

The principal opposition to this threefold distinction in the usage of the term “the seed of Abraham’“ arises from the amillennial interpretation and more particularly from those who embrace covenant theology. Illustrative of this amillennial point of view is the work, The Seed of Abraham, by Albertus Pieters. To him the term “the seed of Abraham” means only the spiritual seed of Abraham without distinction between Israel and Gentiles or between natural and spiritual. Pieters summarizes his point of view in these words: “The expression ‘Seed of Abraham,’ in biblical usage, denotes that visible community, the members of which stand in relation to God through the Abrahamic Covenant, and thus are heirs to the Abrahamic promise” (p. 20). He states further: “Whenever we meet with the argument that God made certain promises to the Jewish race, the above facts are pertinent. God never made any promises to any race at all, as a race. All His promises were to the continuing covenanted community, without regard to its racial constituents or to the personal ancestry of the individuals in it” (pp. 19, 20). He holds further that not only are the promises given only to the spiritual seed, but that the modern Jew of today has lost his lineage and there is no one qualified to inherit any promises given to the Jews as a race.

While it is not the intent here to provide a complete refutation of the amillennial exegesis of the Abrahamic covenant, certain important objections can be raised. First, the argument of Pieters rests on the assumption that there is no one today who is a physical descendant of Abraham. This extreme position is not shared by most amillenarians as it is faced by almost insuperable problems. The racial continuity of Israel, though marred by intermarriage with heathen, is recognized throughout the Scriptures. As late as the epistle of James, the twelve tribes are addressed (James 1:1). The Jews have been recognized by the world as a continuing people as manifested in the Zionist movement, the existence of the state of Israel today, the perpetuation of Israel’s religion, and by almost universal recognition that the people of Israel are a distinct race. If the testimony of the book of Revelation may be introduced as evidence, one finds here again the twelve tribes of Israel specified by name as participating in the future great tribulation.

A notable weakness in the amillennial exegesis of the Abrahamic covenant is the fact that it does not take into consideration the specifics of God’s revelation. Pieters for instance passes over Genesis 15:18-21 without even a word of comment, and the revelation that the covenant is everlasting and that the land is promised as an everlasting possession in Genesis 17:7, 8 is likewise given silent treatment. The fact is that any reasonable understanding of the terminology of these passages leads unmistakably to the conclusion that Abraham understood the promises as given to his physical seed, which forms the background of his special interest in Isaac and the promise of the land which evidently Abraham understood in a physical way. It is true that Abraham’s faith went beyond the promise of the physical land to that of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem in the eternal state, as indicated in Hebrews 11:10. But the promise of the land is obviously related to the temporal and will be fulfilled as long as the present earth lasts, whereas the promise of the eternal city had to do with the eternal state.

A spiritualized understanding of the promises of the land becomes ridiculous in that the land has to be made to mean heaven. The description given of the land in Genesis 15:15-18 as extending from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates and including godless and pagan tribes is hardly a suitable terminology for the description of heaven. The efforts to understand the Abrahamic covenant in a specialized interpretation ultimately destroys any exegesis of these passages and changes the intended revelation to the point where the words used no longer have proper meaning. Premillenarians agree that there is a spiritual seed of Abraham, and that these inherit the appropriate promises addressed to spiritual Israel or spiritual Gentiles as the case may be. They deny that this requires spiritualization of the promises as pertaining to the physical seed of Abraham and the promises relating to the land. Further attention will be given these features later.

Are The Promises To Abraham Conditional?

The traditional amillennial interpretation of the Abrahamic promises tends to follow the method of spiritualizing them, thereby removing the element of specific and literal predictions. Another device, however, adopted by modern amillenarians, follows the argument that the promises are conditional. Under this approach a literal interpretation of the promise can be followed, i.e., it may be held that Israel was actually promised the land and other blessings, but it is charged that Israel failed to meet the conditions. Therefore the promises are withdrawn. Such is the approach of Oswald Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church.

Allis states his support of the conditional element in the Abrahamic covenant in these words: “It is true that, in the express terms of the covenant with Abraham, obedience is not stated as a condition. But that obedience was presupposed is clearly indicated by two facts. The one is that obedience is the precondition of blessing under all circumstances…The second fact is that in the case of Abraham the duty of obedience is particularly stressed” (p. 33).

It is true that, in some cases in the Bible, promises are given in a conditional way. For instance, the Mosaic covenant contains many conditional promises, i.e., blessing for obedience, cursing or divine judgment for disobedience. However, it is not true that in Scripture obedience is always the condition of blessing. Allis, who is a Calvinist, has forgotten his doctrine of unconditional election. He has also forgotten the principle of divine grace in which God blesses those who are unworthy. The fact is that many of God’s blessings fall upon those who are the least worthy of them. In such a doctrine as the security of the believer, which Allis would be the first to support, there is recognition of the principle that God makes promises which depend on Himself and His grace, not on human faithfulness. It certainly is not true that God’s promises or that prophecy as a whole is conditioned upon human action. The major premise of Allis therefore, that obedience is always the condition of blessing, is a fallacy. God is able to make promises and keep them regardless of what men may do.

The second aspect of the position of Allis, that in the case of Abraham the duty of obedience is particularly stressed, is true in itself, but it does not affect the argument. In several instances in Abraham’s life he was disobedient and in none of these instances did God withdraw the promise of the covenant. On other occasions when Abraham was obedient God reiterated the promise and added further details. But never was the promise made contingent upon later obedience. As a matter of fact, the history of Israel abounds in records of their disobedience, and yet the covenant of God given through Abraham is repeated in various ways and confirmed throughout the entire Old Testament.

There is, however, a partial validity to the point of view of Allis, namely, that under the covenant an individual Israelite would qualify for personal blessings by obedience which he would not receive if he were disobedient. For instance, when Israel was obedient they were blessed in the land. When they were disobedient they were removed and taken away into captivity. The ultimate fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham, however, was never in jeopardy as even in the midst of their apostasy they were given strongest assurances of being brought back into the land in subsequent generations and of their continuance as a nation.

Amillenarians are wont to bring up numerous problems, such as the conditional judgment pronounced upon Ninevah by Jonah, the judgment upon Eli’s house, and limitation and application of blessings of the Abrahamic covenant to the spiritual scene. These have been answered in detail by premillenarians (cf. The Millennial Kingdom by the writer, pp. 154 ff). In a word, conditional promises under the Mosaic covenant do not affect the Abrahamic covenant. There is a proper answer to every amillennial objection, and the support of the concept that the Abrahamic covenant is unconditional is abundant.

The evidence that the covenant with Abraham is unconditional should be understood as supporting the idea that the complete fulfillment of the covenant was rendered sure when God gave it to Abraham in the first place. By using the word unconditional, it is not intended to imply that there were no human contingencies, but rather that God took all these contingencies into consideration when He made the promise. Further, it should be understood that the promise is not necessarily in all of its aspects fulfilled to every individual Israelite, but that some aspects of the promise are reserved for particular Israelites in a particular generation and limited to a large extent to those in Israel who are qualified as the spiritual seed of Abraham. The promise is not necessarily fulfilled therefore by all the seed of Abraham, but by some of the seed of Abraham.

The unconditional aspect of the Abrahamic covenant is confirmed by the fact that all of Israel’s covenants are unconditional except the Mosaic. In the statement of the covenant itself no conditions are itemized. When confirmations are given, while these sometimes arise from some act of obedience or devotion, it is not implied thereby that the covenant itself is conditioned. Further, the covenant with Abraham was confirmed by the unqualified oath of God symbolized in the shedding of blood and passing between parts of the sacrifice as described in Genesis 15:7-21. While circumcision was required to recognize an individual as being within the covenant, it is not made the sine qua non of the fulfillment of the covenant. In fact, the Abrahamic covenant was given before the rite of circumcision was introduced. Not only was the covenant confirmed without conditions to Isaac and Jacob, but later it was reiterated to the people of Israel in times of disobedience and apostasy, the most notable case being that of Jeremiah, when the nation was promised that it would continue forever (Jeremiah 31:36). The New Testament declares the Abrahamic covenant immutable (Hebrews 6:13-18). A study of later covenants tends to support the unconditional character of the Abrahamic. The idea therefore that the Abrahamic covenant is suspended and inoperative because of sin in the lives of descendants of Abraham is untenable. If a literal interpretation of the promises is allowed, literal fulfillment can be expected.

Summary

The prophetic program of God for Israel is therefore one of the four major programs revealed in the Bible: (1) The program of God for angels. (2) The program of God for Gentiles. (3) The program of God for the church. (4) The program of God for Israel. This approach is far superior to that of the covenant theologians as it comprehends all events of all classifications and relates them to the total divine program in which God manifests His own infinite perfections to His own glory. It further permits a normal and literal interpretation of prophecy in the same way as is used in interpreting other forms of Scriptural revelation.

The Abrahamic covenant contributes to the eschatology of Israel by detailing the broad program of God as it affects Abraham’s seed. It includes promises to Abraham personally, promises to the nation as such, and promises of blessing through Israel to the Gentiles. Important in the Abrahamic covenant is the promise as directed to the seed which is limited in subsequent Scripture to Isaac, and then Jacob, and then the twelve sons of Jacob. The question of whether the promises to Abraham should be interpreted literally was shown to hinge on the question of literal interpretation of the expression “the seed of Abraham.” It was shown that this expression has a threefold use in the Bible—first, to the natural seed of Abraham, that is, all of his physical descendants; second, to the seed of Abraham who followed Abraham’s noble example of faith, i.e., the Israel who trusted in God; and, third, the spiritual seed of Abraham, that is, Gentiles who qualify for the promise given to the nations. Evidence was adduced that the promises given to Abraham’s physical seed will be fulfilled in his literal descendants who qualify spiritually, whereas promises given to the spiritual seed who are not physical descendants of Abraham inherit the promises given to Gentries. This approach allowed a normal and literal interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant. The second leading question, namely, are the promises given to Abraham conditional? was answered by pointing to Scriptures that affirm the unalterable purpose of God that Israel should be a nation forever and should possess the land forever. Amillennial arguments to the contrary were considered and found without adequate basis. It is not too much to say that the exegesis of the Abrahamic covenant and its resulting interpretation is the foundation for the study of prophecy as a whole, not only as relating to Israel, but also for the Gentiles and the church. It is here that the true basis for a premillennial interpretation of the Scriptures is found.