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Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God's Kingdom
Appendix – The Millennial Issue
Lesson 101 – Millennial Issues: Historical Comeback of Premillennialism
15 Oct 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
This is the second lesson that we go through the millennial issue, or the eschatology, or the future events. We do this because when Christ comes back…, when Christ comes the first time in the Gospels, He comes as a King. There’s a big issue in the Gospels over what kingdom is the King coming to, what is the King’s agenda. That’s why it’s an opportune time.
I want to review. On page 1 of the notes I gave you a diagram to show that before the Gospels, before the New Testament, there was a debate going on in Jewish circles over when the triumphant Kingdom of God would occur. Would it occur and then after that have the resurrection and judgment, or would the triumphant Kingdom of God actually be a synonym for eternity? Looking at it in a larger scope, let’s go back to the diagram of evil and good and the issue of where history is going, because eschatology has to do with part of this diagram. For those who demean eschatology and think this is just a peripheral issue, I remind you that if one doesn’t deal with the eschatological event, then that’s all you have as far as the Christian position. That is, that you go through this period where good and evil start with the fall, it’s mixed, and then something happens. It’s just something happens. That’s what happens if you don’t get into eschatology. It’s a very vague “something.”
Eschatology is the study of the last things and it’s to fill in how that separation occurs. In other words, we zoom in on this issue of how does God get to the point were good and evil are separated. The issue of the triumphant Kingdom of God in terms of this diagram is does good and evil separate enough so that you can see it politically, socially, in that way. Good and evil begin the separation in our souls at the point of regeneration and then with resurrection. But that’s all individual. The issue with the Kingdom is, is it ever corporate, and by corporate we don’t mean that you get more than one Christian in the vicinity. We’re not just talking about a group of believers, we’ve always had groups of believers down through history, but we haven’t had the Kingdom triumphant all down through history. The issue is good and evil, is this separation thing, ever going to happen in our present history in a dramatic, political and public way. That’s what’s going on here in this Kingdom issue.
There are basically these three viewpoints, and those viewpoints are the premillennial, amillennial, and postmillennial. Sometimes it’s kind of bad that the whole issue here got so wrapped around the axle with the word “millennium.” But that’s the way the vocabulary has come about so we’re going to stay with it that way. If you look at Figure 2, you notice that postmillennial and amillennialism are pretty closely related. Postmillennialism has been described as optimistic amillennialism. What we mean by that is if you look at the amillennial and postmillennial view you have Christ’s judgment and eternity begin and in the amillennial position you never really have a kingdom. If you do it’s sort of spiritualized as the existence of the Church. In the postmillennial view some of the postmils really are looking forward to a triumphant Kingdom and the other ones are just saying history’s going to get better, kind of thing.
So there are a lot of variations within amillennialism and postmillennialism. But in premillennialism you will not find many variants. Premillennialism tends to be a very defined position. Amillennialism and postmillennialism does not. They tend to flutter all over the road so that’s why it’s a little difficult in 3 or 4 pages to give an accurate and honest portrayal of these positions, but I’m going to try, by using the chart on page 2, and use 3 checkpoints and show you how each position answers those questions. We’ve picked out as our checkpoints, “Christ’s return to end history? When Christ returns, is that the end of history and the beginning of eternity? Looking on figure 2 you see clearly that amillennialism and postmillennialism say yes; yes, when Christ comes back that’s the end of history and the beginning of eternity.
The second question: is the kingdom ever to triumph over world culture? In that you can see the postmillennial and the premil had the triumphant Kingdom of God out ahead of eternity. The triumphant Kingdom of God happens inside history.
Then the third questions is evil is not to be greatly reduced before Christ’s return. That’s because in premillennialism Christ’s return is sort of split in two parts, the return prior to the triumphant Kingdom of God and then His judgmental work at the end of that period of time. Since His return precedes the triumphant Kingdom of God, then evil remains until that point, that is social evil.
That’s the scope of the controversy, and basically those are the three positions. Actually when you look at it logically, those are the only three possibilities anyway.
We introduced premillennialism and I’m trying to show you, not by way of argument for one position or the other, we’re going to get into that, but what I’m trying to show in pages 3-5 of the notes is that these ideas are not incidental, they are not to be trivialized, they are not to be laughed at as some sort of esoteric theoretical thing. These ideas very powerfully shape our view of the believer’s relationship to society. They powerfully impact how we view our own personal futures. Down through history they’ve had powerful impacts. So as I go through these three views I want to… this is not an ad hominem argument that I’m using here, I’m just a historical point that ideas have consequences; good ideas have good consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences, but consequences they all have. You can’t stop the consequences. We as individuals can choose. God has given us a chooser; He’s given us the ability and the responsibility to make choices before Him. The one thing we do not have freedom is after we make the choice we can’t dictate what the consequences are going to be. He’s already dictated the consequences, “Whatsoever you sow, that shall you also reap.” So the consequences are always built into the system. We can elect this or we can choose that, and God ordains the end.
I want to show you in premillennialism, that it had a pre-Christian Jewish history, and then on page 4 we dealt with the Christian history, and part of that Christian history was that it is associated down through the Church with a Jewish view. The premillennial position historically has always been pro-Jewish. Why is that? Let’s back up a minute. It’s not an accident. Ideas have consequences and let’s look at this idea and some of its consequences. The idea of this Kingdom that is to come, that the Messiah will bring it in, and we’ll have a thousand years in history of His reign; this Kingdom of the Messiah is defined by Old Testament prophets. When did the Old Testament prophets look forward to this idealized Kingdom? They looked forward to it in those ages, remember God administers history pedagogically, one historic age follows another because God is teaching man history. We’re part of a drama, we’re in the classroom. Down through the Old Testament, God set up the idea of the Kingdom. Here’s the Exodus, the Kingdom is going to be something that disrupts fallen civilization, so we call it the Disruptive Kingdom. The Kingdom is always out of character with the fallen creation. It’s always a square peg in a round hole, insofar as the fallen creation exists. But the answer and the counter to the objection is that’s because the fallen creation itself is out of kilter with the original creation unto God. So now we have a kingdom that’s out of kilter with a fallen history that’s out of kilter with God. That’s why we have a disruptive kingdom to a fallen creation.
Then you have the call of Abraham, the Exodus and Sinai. Whose law was being given at Sinai? It was the King’s, King Yahweh. He gave His rules to His people who were defined to be Jewish. So this Kingdom is defined in Jewish terms, all down through this period, and you come down here into the conquest and settlement, and it aborts. What happens? The people became disloyal, did not claim the promises, and what did God say? If you’re not going to drive out the Canaanites before you, if you people don’t want to trust me, okay, have it your way. So they had it their way, and then they groaned and they wanted a deliverer, because they still viewed not living in the Kingdom as abnormal, because they knew that God had promised them this Kingdom of peace in the future.
Then we come down to the rise and reign of David and David becomes a revelation, he and Solomon and the subsequent kings, but not only are the people fallen (remember the people, book of Judges), now the rise and reign of David with all the kings, now the leaders are fallen. So by the time you get to that period of history when the King started administering His severe discipline, by that time it became very obvious to all that to have the Kingdom you had to do something with sin. There had to be some radical changes on both the part of the people and the leaders. People always like to blame leaders, leaders always like to blame people; God blames both. The Old Testament history is a comprehensive indictment of both people and leaders, not one, not the other, both together.
So the kingdom goes into decline, they’re exiled, and then the partial restoration. It’s that context, during this period of the exile where the prophets write, the kingdom in decline, the prophets write. Who’s writing in here? Who are two big prophets that are writing right during this period of time? Isaiah and Jeremiah. Who’s the great prophet that also wrote a book as big as theirs that nobody reads anymore? Ezekiel. So you have Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, all writing in this period. They’re the guys who talk about this Kingdom. Where was their neighborhood? Where are they living when they were talking about the Kingdom? They’re living right here. What had they just seen? The fall and collapse of their country. So if they were looking forward to a Kingdom it’s being defined in terms of something that’s going to happen and this time be successful and triumphant. That’s why we talk about the triumphant Kingdom of God versus the defeated Kingdom of God in the Old Testament.
Premillennialism means, “pre” before the Kingdom, that the Messiah must come to bring that Kingdom in because the people can’t bring it in and the leaders can’t bring it in. So it’s a very simple picture and that’s why premillennialism doesn’t have 85 different versions. Premillennialism basically has one version, one or two but not much. On page 4 I mention that mainline Catholicism tended not to oppose premillennialism and the reason is because philosophically you had Origen and Augustine who were the theologians that dominated that period of church history, 4th, 5t, 6th, 7th centuries were dominated ideologically by those two guys, basically Augustine. Then came Thomas Aquinas and he believed that God and man together would reason their way along. Thomas believed that you were fallen from the neck down, that the fall did not affect rationality, therefore we could borrow from the pagan mind and then the pagans would have truth, so you build truth from just normal reasoning, unaided, the natural man, the unregenerate man can reason correctly. Then based on the foundation that he reasons correctly then we add to that Jesus, and we add to that the Word of God. That’s the idea of the Thomastic thought. This whole idea, the Kingdom became in the pagan mind to be kind of ethereal, it had to be abstract, it couldn’t be material and physical because the matter, etc. were evil.
The other problem I point out in that paragraph, and that’s critical, is that “the Church was becoming more desirous of disassociating itself from Jewish culture. Hebrew Christians were required to give up all their Jewishness in order to belong to the Church.” What is happening in this idea is that the Kingdom, here’s the cross of Christ on a time line, we have the church, slowly the idea takes effect that the church kind of replaces Israel so far as the Kingdom is concerned. Israel was sort of like a mother that gave birth to something, but now that the baby is here we can throw out the mother, so all attention is now on the baby, and not on the mother. So Jewish culture and everything else is simply discarded, it’s thrown away, as sort of a cocoon that’s just leftover in history, sort of debris that’s left over from early ages. This carries implications.
We’re going to move on to page 5, the confessions of the Protestants after the Reformation. Notice, “in the Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter XI,” it says “We condemn the Jewish dreams, that before the day of judgment there shall be a golden age in the earth.” There’s the Kingdom, before the Day of Judgment, the Millennial Kingdom, the triumphant Kingdom will happen before eternity. It will happen inside history. But that is considered by the church, by the Protestants, as “a Jewish dream.” So both the Protestants and the Catholics went along with basically an anti-premillennial position.
The next paragraph I’d like you to read with me as I go through it because so few of us today know our church history very well. That’s one reason we really don’t know our own identity; it really helps… someday it would be so great to just have a nice church history course because all of a sudden you realize some things you do and some things you don’t do, and where did all that come from. Follow this paragraph. I list men in church history who were champions of premillennialism. My objective is to show that it’s not one denomination. We’re not talking denominations here. In eschatology it was a thread that passed through many different denominations.
Here are the men. John Milton, we used to study him in English literature back before when you could do that, and you studied reputable authors, not some slugs from the 20th century. John Wesley - Wesley we all know, the father of Methodism. Increase Mather and Cotton Mather, they were Puritan pastors in Boston, they were people that lived during the time of the Crucible that always gets featured in high school English classes. The one thing that all high school students remember about the Puritans is that they had all that witchcraft stuff going on. Of course, don’t ever get exposed to what the Puritans really believed. In fact these two guys, Increase and Cotton, were the pastors that tried to get hold of that thing. But the view you get of the Puritans through The Crucible, just remember who wrote the Crucible? Arthur Miller, that’s all you have to know. Franz Delitzsch, he was the leading Old Testament conservative commentator in the 19th century, to this day Franz Delitzsch’s commentaries, Keil & Delitzsch, that you hear about, see in the Christian bookstore, Delitzsch in that duet of authors, that’s the Delitzsch. He was premil; so was Keil by the way. Dean Alford, he was one of the few exegetes in the Anglican Church in England. Look at that, you have John Milton, English Puritan, John Wesley, a Methodist, Englishman, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather, Puritans, we would say Congregationalists. Franz Delitzsch, I believe he was Lutheran. Dean Alford was Anglican. Philip Schaff, I’m not sure what he was. Philip Schaff was one of the great church historians. He wrote one of the standard histories of the church.
[“In more modern times men of the stature of John Milton, John Wesley, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, Franz Delitzsch, Dean Alford, and Philip Schaff] have been premillennial scholars. By 1878 when American fundamentalists held their first interdenominational conference at the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City,” notice that sentence, those of you who are not acquainted with church history, get the date. Was that before or after the Civil War? It was after the Civil War, before World War I. That period between the civil war and World War I was when the fundamentalists began the battle against liberalism in the Church. It was in those years that the war, it was a WAR between fundamentalism and modernism began, and it came through World War I… we’ll see more about the war later. It was a tremendous war. No student today in school ever learns about this battle, and yet this is the battle that explains a lot about American history in the 20th century. It’s completely ignored, absolutely ignored in history courses. I never got trained in it until I started reading church history and then I started looking at regional source material; newspapers carried this on the front pages. Where do you ever hear it? It’s like it disappeared, it’s sort of an invisible chapter to our whole national culture. Nobody knows about it anymore.
How the fundamentalist first started working is they got all the people from different congregations together, different denominations together and they said look, we differ on baptism, we differ here, we differ there, but one thing we don’t differ on and that’s the authority of Scripture. And we don’t like these higher critics coming over here from Europe with their PhDs telling us you can’t believe the Gospel of John because John didn’t write it, any one of a billion people that lived at the time could have written it but we know definitely John the Apostle couldn’t have written it; that we do know for certain. We don’t know anything else though. So they said we’re tired of this stuff, so they all got together and in 1878, that was their first conference. There’s a date for you to kind of lock it in on your concept of church history. They held their conference, and notice where they held it. Church of the Holy Trinity in New York, City; guess what denomination that is? It’s Anglican, Episcopalian Church. So when people talk about fundamentalists being these little Bible churches out in the boonies somewhere, wait a minute, reread your church history friend. What does it say? It says all these denominations at one time had fundamentalists in them.
“Premillennialism had begun a comeback.” A comeback from when? A comeback from the 1st and 2nd centuries. So something began to happen in this country 25 years before World War I, and that was inside the Church those people who honored the authority of Scripture began to gravitate toward premillennialism. We’ll see why later on.
“Many teachers from the Reformed Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Anglican denominations insisted at this conference that premillennialism was the logical outcome of the literal, Protestant interpretation of Scripture. One of the speakers was Nathaniel West of Cincinnati, Ohio. He explained why the Reformers dealt very little with eschatology.”
“West brought to light a central claim of both Orthodoxy and Fundamentalism ever since his day. And that claim was that the emphasis of the Reformers was in the area of salvation, justification by faith, and in other great doctrines of grace. Doing such valiant service, they could not give the proper time and study to the vast area of eschatology.” And that is why Protestantism and Catholicism, there’s no difference between them in eschatology until the 1800s, and then inside Protestantism we begin to have this attraction for eschatology. The Holy Spirit awakes the church to develop this area of doctrine that had lain latent for centuries.
Before I get to the features of premillennialism I want to read you a little story of what actually happened in Germany to show you that these ideas have consequences. This is written from Hal Lindsey’s book, The Road to Holocaust. “In an unusual turn of providence, I learned firsthand what some of the early plans of the Nazi leaders were.” Let me back up a minute. Let me read this quote. Guess who wrote this one? “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the Almighty Creator by defending myself against the Jew. I am fighting for the work of the Lord,” Adolph Hitler in his book, Mein Kampf. Where did this come out of in the German soul? What had Luther done in his dying days? He wrote vicious tracts against the Jews, so Hitler was really borrowing on this anti-Semitism that had been embedded in German culture.
Here is a person who was talking, it was an interview basically, with Hal Lindsey. He is an evangelical who came out of Germany. Listen to what he says, he’s an old man, probably dead now, but he lived through those years of the rise of Adolph Hitler. “In an unusual turn of providence, I learned firsthand what some of the early plans of the Nazi leaders were, from one who was an eyewitness. A Christian friend, who was born in Germany, related to me some of the secret negotiations conducted by Adolph Hitler and his top party leaders before they assumed control of Germany. My father’s friend was the head of the German officer’s army union, which in English is called The Steel Helmet. Hitler, Hess, Göring, Dr. Goebbels, and many other top Nazi leaders came to my friend’s Bavarian home to negotiate with his father,” his father having a lot of political clout because he was in the German army and not just the German army but the officers that controlled the German army, so obviously Goebbels, Hitler, Hess and Göring were very interested because they were not in the military. These guys were all civilians.
So they “came to my friend’s Bavarian home to negotiate with his father. Hitler desperately needed the support of the German army officers union to grab control of the government. My friend remembers many long and heated discussions around the fireplace between his father and the future leaders of the Third Reich. His father actually agreed with Hitler about many of the reforms that he wanted to bring to Germany, but when he began to grasp Hitler’s ‘final solution,’ ” (quote end quote), “plan for the Jews, he flatly disagreed. He was an evangelical Christian, a Plymouth Brethren, who believed in a literal interpretation of prophecy, and the covenants God made with the Israelites. In other words, he was a premillennialist in his beliefs concerning Bible prophecy.” This is the head of the union of all the officers in the German army, so this isn’t some little sleazebag out here. “One of the fundamental elements of a premillennialist’s faith is that God has bound Himself by unconditional covenants to the Jews, and that even though they are currently under His discipline, He will punish anyone who mistreats them. As God swore to Abraham and confirmed to his successors, I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse. At considerable personal risk and financial loss,” this man “packed up his family, sneaked out what money he could, and came to the United States of America. He left Hitler’s Germany for one fundamental reason. He believed God’s Word when it said concerning Israel, “For thus saith the LORD of hosts: After glory he has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for He who touches you touches the apple of His eye.” [Zechariah 2:8] It’s an interesting story. I wanted to read this to you just to show you that here’s a guy who had a defined position eschatologically that changed his life.
We’re going to look at some of the features of premillennialism on page 5. We studied Revelation 19-20 last time, that’s the key passage, Christ’s return does not end history, and dead believers are resurrected to reign with Christ for a thousand years. Let’s go to Revelation 20:1ff. “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,  and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” Notice one of the corollaries to the existence of the Kingdom of God in history? What is it? What is it that’s thwarting its presence now? It’s the presence of Satan. So when we get to amillennialism and postmillennialism this is a question you want to deal with, how do you interpret this passage.
Verse 4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the 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 upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” As we said last week, that last sentence in verse 4 shows you that the view here is that these people are in resurrected bodies who are reigning in mortal history with people who don’t have resurrected bodies. Some real things to think about here.
 “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.  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.  And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,  and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their works.  And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Rev. 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” He goes on to describe the beginning of the eternal state.
So Christ’s return in this case does not end history. Jesus Christ comes into history, He reigns for a thousand years, and at this point eternity begins. That’s premillennialism. The second point, the Kingdom of God will triumph over world culture. Turn to Isaiah 65:17; we’ll see how Isaiah conceives of this future kingdom. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, and her people for gladness.  I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people, and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying,  No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days, for the youth will die at the age of one hundred, and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed.  And they shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
 “They shall not build, and another inhabit, they shall not plant, and another eat,” by the way, that’s a refutation of socialism here; evidently capitalism prevails, “‘for as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands.  They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, and their descendants with them.  It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.”
That’s how Isaiah thought of this kingdom. And the debate of course is, is this eternity or is this inside history. One of the striking things about this passage is that death has not been removed. So the question is, in the Old Testament prophetic idea, people still die, it’s just that life is prolonged in this new kingdom to come.
On page 6 you’ll see a quote from Alva McClain, a great teacher of the Word of God at Winona Lake for many, many years. He wrote a book that’s probably one of the finest books ever written on the Kingdom, and you can’t even find it any more, it’s called The Greatness of the Kingdom. What McClain is addressing here is if we really believe this, and there’s going to be a thousand years of perfect history on earth, then what happens if you are an artist, or you are a musician, you are a Johann Sebastian Bach or somebody, and you’re creating a great work or art unto the Lord at this point in history. Why should you be motivated, if basically this era of history that you’re in doesn’t go anywhere? The answer premillennialism has, and this is something you want to notice because I’m quoting from McClain. This quote has been around for two or three decades, and it’s inexcusable that after twenty or thirty years of this quote being around we still have critics of premillennialism say, oh, that premillennialism is so pessimistic, it has no area for the arts. Excuse me, let’s look at this quote:
“It says that life here and now, in spite of the tragedy of sin, is nevertheless something worthwhile; and therefore all the efforts to make it better are also worthwhile. All the true values of human life will be preserved and carried over into the coming kingdom; nothing worthwhile will be lost.” So where you have great artistic triumph, where you have great technological triumph, Christ when He comes again isn’t going to make culture for us; man makes culture. Jesus isn’t going to do it, He’s not going to write the music, He’s not going to paint the paintings, He’s not going to do all these things. That’s not His job, that’s the human race’s job. His job is to save the human race and set up an environment in which all these things can come to fruition, but He’s not going to do the planting of the vineyards, He’s not going to do the writing of the music, He’s not going to do all of the building of the buildings, He’s not going to do all the technology. That’s us, so where you have these great advances, they perpetuate into the millennium and rise and really become productive in that area. So these kinds of productions in this age before the Millennium are not cast away, it’s not something you chuck in the junk pile because the Kingdom came. There’s a continuity in here from one age to the next. That’s what McClain did, and he pointed this out thirty years ago, and we still have people that just don’t get it.
The third point: Evil will not be reduced greatly before Christ’s return. The point is you have pessimistic passages in the Scripture, and there’s a whole list of them, we need not go into those, if you’re familiar with the New Testament you know about them, in the last days men, scoffers come, etc.
Final paragraph under premillennialism: “If evil is to be gradually suppressed,” and who are the people that say it will be? Not the amil so much, the postmil, because he’s got to have the Kingdom before Jesus gets here, it’s got to get better and better in order to get good enough to have Jesus come back to it. “If evil is to be gradually suppressed, as postmillennialists insist, it is hard to find any place in history where his process has already begun. Boettner, a postmillennialist spokesman, admits: ‘On postmillennial ground it hardly seems that even in the most advanced nations on earth we have anything that is worthy of being called more than the early dawn of the millennium.’” He wrote that forty years ago, imagine if he was around today. “In fact, in those areas of the world where Christianity in the past had a great influence such as North Africa and New England where once it was rejected, it has never come back again.”
Isn’t it remarkable, if you look at church history, where Christianity has flourished and has been rejected, it has never come back again? North Africa, you can count the Christians on one hand that are still living North Africa. And New England is a horrible place; talk with men who are trying to teach the Word of God in New England and they’ll tell you it’s about as fruitful as the stones that come out of the ground every spring. It’s a terrible place to minister the Word of God. This was the place where the Puritans had theology all over the place. But the population in that area turned against it; okay, have it your way.
Amillennialism: As we saw in those charts amillennialism doesn’t believe that there really is a kingdom prior to Jesus, and therefore He comes, this is Jesus return, this is eternity, this is the Church Age. There is one Second Advent; it’s not split up into pieces. That’s amillennialism. Amillennialism started, basically in Jewish history, with a spiritualized hermeneutic that is an allegorical method of interpreting passages like Isaiah 65. What we just read in Isaiah 65 was viewed by these guys as a poetic nice thing, but it’s ideal, the lamb really literally isn’t going to lie down with a lion, and the wolf is not going to sleep with them. They’ll still be eating each other, so that’s just a poetic picture to give hope.
On page 7 I give a description of what Phil did, just so you can get an idea. The second paragraph of that quote, “Some of this method is sound … for there are allegorical and figurative elements in Scripture. But most of it led to the fantastic and absurd. For example, Abraham’s trek to Palestine is really the story of a Stoic philosopher who leaves Chaldea (sensual understanding) and stops in Haran, which means ‘holes,’ which signifies the emptiness of knowing things by holes, that is, in the senses. When he becomes Abraham he becomes truly an enlightened philosopher. To marry Sarah is to marry abstract wisdom.” See what they’re doing to the text. They’re taking a story of an actual man, on an actual journey, but they’re saying that’s all surface knowledge, there’s something deeper and more profound underneath all this. So there is that kind of hermeneutic.
In Christian history, you have Origen and Augustine, the people I mentioned previously, and what happened was, (after footnote 20) “Unfortunately, with this transfer of Old Testament prophecies from a relationship to Israel,” please note this sentence, a “transfer of Old Testament prophecies from a relationship to Israel to a relationship with the church, a subtle form of anti-Semitism became implicit in Christian theology. Jewish historian H. H. Ben-Sasson observes this shift.”
He says: “Christianity claimed ownership of what it regarded as its Holy Land,” by the way, in church history, what happened when the church held that view? When the church bought into the fact that the land of Israel was theirs, what did that lead do? The Crusades. Now you know what motivated those people: amillennialism. See the idea at work, it had a big effect. Those Muslims, they’re taking over our land, our land, not Israel’s land, the church’s land. “This transfer of Old Testament prophesies from a relationship with Israel to a relationship with the church … became implicit….” “Christianity claimed ownership of what it regarded as its Holy Land by virtue of the Jewish past, of which it claimed to be heir….” So the church now is the heir of Jewish prophecies. There’s a degree in which that is true, and we’ll have to sort this out. “The Christian message based itself on the premise that, with the destruction of Jerusalem and rejection of the Jewish people by the Lord, the entire covenant, including the promise of the land of Israel, became vested in Christendom.” Now does it seem to click with you what’s going on here in church history? Do you see now why premillennialism, amillennialism, this is not some random discussion here, this is quite central to the identity of the church and the identity of Israel.
“Amillennialism was carried on by the Reformers of Augustine so that today it is the majority view among Protestant Churches as an inheritance from Romanism. Sadly, the associated persecution of Jews under Romanism during the Middle Ages continued under the Protestants. In his latter days, Martin Luther became very anti-Semitic advocating arson attacks against synagogues and Jewish homes, assaults against rabbis, and confiscation of Jewish silver and gold. Nazism, tragically built upon this earlier German anti-Semitism.” So see what happens.
There are godly men who are amillennialists, and I list them. Abraham Kuyper, he was Dutchman, a very interesting man, if you ever get a chance to read [blank spot: these men are listed: “Louis Berkhof, Oswald Allis, Albertus Pieters, William Hendriksen, G. C. Berkouwer …”
… and do you know what else he did, he became the Prime Minister of a nation in Europe, the Netherlands, right around the turn of the century. This guy headed up Holland, he was their Prime Minister. An amazing situation in history. He was not very well liked by a lot of the Dutch because they considered him a religious nut that somehow got to be President of their country. But he was a formidable intellect and they didn’t like him, but they didn’t dare debate him either, because he was a brilliant man and he could face them down. He was part of an interesting movement in Christians and politics in northern Europe.
“Amillennialism has become an adopted,” note this part because it’s interesting, people will walk into a church like ours or some of the other churches around here, and they’ll see in the doctrinal statement there’s a statement there about premillennialism and you’ll get the reaction sometimes, WELL, I don’t think that a church should be taking a stand in their creed on eschatology, I think that’s premature, that’s closed-minded. Look here: “Amillennialism has become an adopted part of the official creeds of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church; the Christian Reformed Church, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Unofficially, it dominates most Baptist and Church of Christ circles.” So it’s not true that the premils are the only one that put their premillennialism in eschatological doctrinal statement.
Features of amillennialism: the features are basically that the Bible does point to things, and turn to Galatians 3:25, there’s a good passage, this is what these guys point to and say that they’re right. They say we’re not just interpreting the Bible randomly, look at this. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” There’s the transfer, they argue. See, the Bible is saying there’s a transfer. Faith has come; you’re no longer under a tutor, the Mosaic Law, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. , “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed [offspring] and heirs according to promise.” Therefore they say what’s your problem, it says right there we’re heirs of the Abrahamic promises. And we’re that way when we’re not Jewish, we’re there because we trusted in Christ. That’s one of the points that’s being made in this argument, why do you insist on this Jewish-Gentile-Christian difference when the Bible doesn’t do that in the New Testament, they say.
I’m just trying to give you a flavor of the arguments. Hebrews 12:22 they say see, here’s a New Testament author, they love the epistle to Hebrews, this is a camping ground for all amils, and they say, “But you have come to Mount Zion” have we come to Mount Zion literally? No, we’ve come spiritually in Christ, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,  to the general assembly and church of the first-born….” So what they’re arguing there is that there’s a case in a structured New Testament theologically heavy passage where a spiritualization is happening, a spiritual Mount Zion.
Bottom of page 7, another argument that is used is that “allegorical method is the only possible method that can be used with prophecies concerning long-vanished nations like Assyria, Moab, Ammon, Edom, and Philistia. Such nations no longer literally exist.” So either the prophecies are irrelevant, or you have to spiritualize them.
On page 8, “The exact features of amillennialism are hard to define because most amillennial writings are primarily antichiliastic.” In other words, if you read most amillennialists, it gets back to Figure 1, I said that amillennialism and postmillennialism looked the same. They basically don’t want a millennium, they just want continuity they say between the Old and the New, you premils, you’re always fracturing the Bible up into pieces, and we want continuity, development. So they tend not to develop their own system. That’s why Dr. Charles Feinberg, who was a premillennial Hebrew Christian, do you know what he used to do in seminary class I was told. This guy, when he taught at Dallas Seminary, he was trained to be a rabbi, this guy knew Hebrew backwards and forwards, and he used to terrorize all the students in the class because you couldn’t pass Dr. Feinberg’s course unless you really knew your Hebrew. Today nobody cares about Hebrew, you can hardly get the Greek, leave alone Greek and Hebrew, whew, that’s heavy. But back in Charles Feinberg’s day there was a lot of discipline in the classroom, and he insisted that any guy that was going to teach the Word of God was going to knew Hebrew or he was going to flunk the course.
Dr. Feinberg said, “This is the amillennial method: to raise as many questions as possible, but at the same time to build no system of one’s own.” Let’s look at what it is. Let’s go to the premillennial text, follow with me Jay Adams, he’s an amillennialist at this point and I want you to see how he handles Revelation 19-20 so you can see for yourself. “The key premillennial proof-text, Revelation 19:11-20:15, is handled by amillennialists in a variety of ways. Those who take the passage as a straight chronological sequence interpret Revelation 19:11-21 not as the Second Advent of Christ, but as His spiritual victory through the Church.”
Turn to Revelation 19, we were in Revelation 20 earlier, but before that passage about Satan being bound and the saints ruling for a thousand years, prior to that in Revelation 19, you have Christ on a white horse. He comes dipped in blood, and if you look at verse 11, “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.  And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven….  And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”
By the way, who was the song writer who took that passage of Scripture and applied to one of the hymns that we sing? [Julia Ward Howe] The text of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” came out of this, and she applied this text to the Civil War which tells you what her eschatology was. Now you know something about “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, written by an amillennialist. She quotes verse 15 in that song.
Verse 16, “And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written….” What about that? We premils will take that as the Second Advent of Christ. If that is, then that puts Christ on earth before the thousand years. So the amillennialist has to say wait a minute, that can’t be, so let’s see if we have another interpretation for this passage. They come up with, what in the first place, looks like a pretty good interpretation of Revelation 19. Here’s what he [Jay Adams] says:
“That this [passage] does not describe a physical coming such as the Second Advent is apparent from at least two facts: first, Christ is nowhere else said to return upon a horse. He did not ascend this way, and He is to return as He ascended…. The horse was the emblem of war. That is its emblematic purpose here.” See, “emblematic purpose,” this is a non-literal interpretation of the passage. “Secondly, the conflict described here is spiritual, a battle waged and won by the Word of God….” Which we would affirm, yes, it is a spiritual battle going. “Once before, a judgment-coming employed sword-of-mouth destruction was contemplated (Revelation 2:12). That passage cannot be confused with the second coming either.” So in this view, “Revelation 19:11-21 depicts the spiritual victory Christ wins through His church by His Word; Revelation 20:7-15 then portrays the actual Second Advent of Christ, according to this view.”
Not all amillennialists treat it this way. They don’t all treat Rev.19-20 chronologically. Scholars such as Louis Berkhof, William Hendriksen and Oswald Allis take the 19th chapter as referring to the Second Advent, then consider the 20th chapter as a recapitulation. So they have various ways of handling Revelation 19-20.
The second point of amillennialism: “The Kingdom of God will not triumph over world culture.” They agree with us, with the premillennialists that you can’t find evidence in Scripture that prior to Christ’s return you’re going to have a bettering, and a bettering, and a bettering of the world. But they adhere to a spiritual interpretation. And they say it can be biblically proven by comparing Hebrews 12:22 with Isaiah 2, we just went to Hebrews 12:22, we have come to Mount Zion, and in Isaiah 2 it’s talking about Mount Zion prophetically in the Kingdom. So they say that Isaiah 2 following the hint of Hebrews, ought to be interpreted, not as a literal world dictatorship of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth but rather should just be a picture of the church. That’s what’s going on in the Church Age.
On Page 9, “Such spiritualization of the golden-age prophecies is precisely what Jesus did, claim these scholars, in Matthew 13. Let’s conclude by turning to Matthew 13. They’re citing the Lord Jesus’ explanation for the nature of the Kingdom. Matthew 13 is critical because that’s halfway through the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it was at this point when He changed His tune. It’s very evident when you read the four Gospels that halfway through His ministry He began to change things a little bit. So the amillennialist says aha, look at this. In Matthew 13:11, Jesus says this: “And he answered and said to them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them,” the unbelievers, “it has not been granted.” Their position is that what the Lord Jesus is doing here is He’s presenting truth about what the kingdom of the Old Testament really is, and getting rid of carnal Jewish encrustments of what that kingdom was and to the spiritual heart of things; that’s what Jesus is doing.
So they’re saying the Lord took these disciples aside to correct an erroneous belief that the coming kingdom would be material and physical; the real nature of the promised kingdom is spiritual and the promises are being fulfilled by Christ and the church, etc.
The third point: “Evil will not be reduced greatly before Christ’s return.” They agree with us on that sort of thing. I love Jay Adam’s comment there, a great quote. Dr. Adams was a professional counselor. “The sin and consequent problems among Christians prove that such a society would be far from golden.” At another point Adams says, as an amillennialist he says against the postmillennialist, he says anyone who has been in Christian ministry more than five and a half minutes understands that you can’t have a kingdom on this earth without Christ present physically.
So this gives you some sort of a flavor for amillennialism. I want to conclude with the last paragraph. “Amillennialism has one additional problem at this point that the premillennialism does not, and that concerns the ‘binding of Satan, in Revelation 20:1-2,” that was in that passage. So what do they do with the binding of Satan? “If Revelation 20 refers to the Church Age” which it must in their view, “If Revelation 20 refers to the Church Age and not to a future millennium, then in what sense is Satan bound today? Amillennialists reply that this binding is the same kind of binding that is mentioned in Matthew 12:29 and that is implied in 2 Thessalonians 2:16, i.e., the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit.” That’s how they interpret that section of Satan being bound, that the Church binds Satan by virtue of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
So we’ve gone through two views, next time we’ll go through postmillennialism, and then we’ll go into how we resolve the controversy. Postmillennialism is something coming on strong right now, believe it or not. Postmillennialism, when I studied theology back thirty years ago was considered to be kind of a museum piece, and you studied it like a doctor studies what the medicine men did in the 1800s. Things have changed in the last ten years, there’s some strong emphasis on this and we want to look at it carefully. It has a lot to do with American politics, and postmillennialism inside the evangelical camp is getting to be quite a formidable force. It plays a role, as I said, in some of the conflict in politics and we want to pay attention to that and look at it.
[Q&A period very hard to hear, transcription may be affected by words or phrases that are nearly unintelligible]
…the new heavens and the new earth are terms that the prophets used and they used it in connection with a mortal version of the Kingdom of God. That’s what that passage is talking about because obviously there’s mortality there. He’s not talking about resurrection. The idea of the resurrection is not very well covered in the Old Testament, frankly, Daniel is the only one who specifically mentions resurrection [can’t understand words] very few passages in the Old Testament deal directly with the resurrection. If you look carefully in the Gospels, when Jesus goes to teach the resurrection, He does so with a verb tense and the covenants. He doesn’t refer to Old Testament history resurrection. So what do you do with the Old Testament prophets who see this coming kingdom in mortal history and refer to it as new heavens and new earth, versus in the book of Revelation when the old heavens and the old earth are passed away and the new one is all new. That’s one of the great complexities of this issue. This is why there are divisions, and they’re all good Christians, on these issue. I think there’s a solution to the problem and I think the solution comes about with the fact that you interpret how that new heavens and new earth expression is used in local context.
Remember that there’s a progression in Scripture of understanding. Moving away from “heavens and earth” just for a moment, let’s take the word king and think about how does the word king of Israel, how was that understood in Moses’ day. Remember in the Old Testament Law code, remember I brought in Lex, Rex, by Samuel Rutherford, and I said that he borrowed from the Mosaic Law code, and what he would do, he had the king under the law, that was the whole argument, that was what had such a profound effect in Jewish political thought and American political thought.
Everybody… you know every time you learn about American history, I swear they bring up Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine was a tourist that came here after the whole independent movement had got started. The idea of American independence came out of Puritan thought and Samuel Rutherford was one of those. Anyway, Rutherford wrote the king was under the law, there was a law over the king, and he used the idea of the king in Mosaic times. What was the idea of the king in Moses’ time? Did they have a king? No, no king, it was [can’t understand word/s]. God was their king. But strangely in the Mosaic Law there was this provision to handle a king. Remember the passage? Deuteronomy 17, and in that passage what does it say? You’re going to want a king, it’s not sounding very enthusiastic, it’s saying well, someday you guys will want a king and when you want a king, all right, I’ll let you have one but he’s going to be My kind of king, not your kind of king. What a thrilling outlook that looks like, because that’s the first picture you get of a king.
Then you go on in the Old Testament and finally you get a king, and what does he turn into? Saul. Then we’re going to knock out Saul, we’re going to have David, there’s our man, now that’s the anointed Messiah. Then his balloon collapsed. Then you have one king after another and you get Ahab and all kinds of things, until finally God says that’s it. Remember, He ended the dynasty through Solomon, dropped it off, you’re not going to have any more kings out of that line.
Then you go into the New Testament and you’re looking around for a king again. You’ve been prepared by all that previous history that now you realize that the word “king” means something more than what you thought it meant if you had lived in Moses time. In Moses time if you had read just Deuteronomy 17, you’d think of it more as a tribal leader. Then you got to thinking, well, gee, after the judges here, we really do need a king because we’re such cloddy people, we need a strong leader. So now the king advances from a mere tribal leader until he becomes a strong leader over the whole nation, nationally. So now what’s happened to the word “king?” It’s gotten bigger.
Now we come to the New Testament, and in the New Testament Jesus professes to be King and everybody laughs at Him. Why are they laughing at Him? Because the thing that this guy can’t be is King, for crying out loud, the guy comes from the slums in northern Israel and He’s a carpenter, He’s a poor boy, He doesn’t know royalty, He’s not in the Jerusalem…, I mean, He’s not inside the beltway around Jerusalem here, this guy can’t rule anything. So what kind of a candidate is He?
And it’s a real crucial thing that comes up in the New Testament. So to make a long story short, as you go through the New Testament you can be puzzled because you’ve got to come to grips with the fact that Jesus goes out of His way to avoid presenting Himself as Mr. Glamorous King. Why is He doing that? Something’s operating here; a theology of the king is operating in the background. And yet you know that He doesn’t permanently throw that role out for Himself, because what does He say in Matthew 23-25, when He comes back? When I come back it’s going to be a ripping time, you think I’m gentle now, wait till you see what’s going to happen when I come back again, I’m going to rearrange the furniture around here. So now what happens? That proves that Jesus had not thrown out that idea of king. It just proves that there’s another theme going on.
Let’s tie that all together. We’ve watched the word “king” get more and more content in it as we go through the Bible. This is why I keep saying we’ve got to read the Bible historically, in sequence. You can’t plow into the New Testament and say oh, king, I understand that. No you don’t understand that; I can’t understand that until I share the experience of God’s people through the ages which You’ve recorded for me, so I can develop my vocabulary and get my thoughts straightened out, and understand what was going on here.
So similarly, to get back to the question, the new heavens and the new earth, that is an idea itself that gets bigger and bigger, and bigger in time, and you can watch that in the Bible. It shows up sometimes in the Psalms, it shows up in Isaiah, it shows up in the 2 Peter 3 passage, and all I can say at this point is that you’ve got to trace the development of the term. You can get screwed up real fast if you pick out, in the progress of revelation what was going on back here in mid Old Testament with what’s presented here in the New Testament, because really this doesn’t fit. Well, the same thing, the concept of king in Jesus’ day doesn’t fit what you see in Deuteronomy 17 in one sense. In another sense it does because it’s not a direct conflict with Deuteronomy 17. Those controls in Deuteronomy 17 still apply to this king. So the Bible never conflicts with itself, it just keeps adding on. So I’ve kind of letting the cat out of the bag as far as how you handle the land promise. What we’re going to find as we go on here is that, is the land the land? Yes. Then why is it that we have kind of a non-land thing going on in the Bible? Where is the land in the Church, in the New Testament? It’s just not there. Never once, never once is it connected to the Church, in spite of all the crusades and the Church inheriting the covenant, you can’t find that in the New Testament. It just isn’t there. All those crusades, all because of an [can’t understand words]
So what do we do with the land? We have to be careful that however we connect the Church out here in the future; we don’t undermine the truth of the first occurrence of the land, which is a physical land, a specific piece of real estate, in a specific location. That can never change. So whatever we do over here has got to be connected to what was going on back here. Otherwise we’ve got chaos in the Scripture. And it’s precisely this kind of thing when people become Christians, and the guy or gal led you to the Lord using the New Testament. So where’s the loyalty? It’s in the New Testament. You don’t have any idea about the Old Testament. I mean, how many people were led to the Lord by the Old Testament. Mike, how did you become a Christian? [someone answers] Through Exodus… well he’s an unusual case.
Most people are led to the Lord through the New Testament. So we naturally gravitate that way and you avoid the Old Testament. And it’s easy to do because most preachers don’t bother with it; it’s too hard to study. Therefore we don’t get that background. So all your life you go on and you come up with these ideas like our future is in heaven, like we’re floating somewhere. But in the book of Revelation, where’s the New Jerusalem? Back on planet earth. So how do we get we’re floating between Mars and Jupiter somewhere. Where did that come from? That’s coming out of the fact that we keep reading about heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, never read about earth. It’s there, and the book of Revelation utilizes a lot of those prophecies of the Old Testament.
So the rule we’re going to find as we move on is prophecy becomes bigger, more detailed, more embellished, with time, but the embellishment with time never refutes the details when it was first given. So you’re never wrong in saying the king was a king out of a Jewish tribe, and so forth. Later on we’re going to see He’s the God-man, He’s not only human, He’s God. Where is that in Deuteronomy 17? It’s not there, but isn’t Deuteronomy 17 still true of Jesus? Yes it is. So all of this kingdom business has got to fit what we learn in the Old Testament. It’s got to be there. Israel has got to be tied into it, the land has got to be tied into it, Jerusalem has got to be tied into it, the earth has to be tied into it, all that has to be true or we’ve refuted the Old Testament. So you can’t compete and force the New Testament to compete against the Old Testament, there’s got to be a continuum. The problem is, how do you do that? And that’s why we have these different views.
So the amillennial position that we saw tonight basically wrenches, it tries to get continuity by wrenching the kingdom away from Israel, and letting it become the inheritance of the church, and it uses the verses that we just showed you, that lists seed of Abraham, that’s the very language of the Abrahamic Covenant, seed of Abraham, so how are we the seed of Abraham? We’re not the seed of Abraham because we’re physically related to Abraham [can’t understand word/s]. So we’re spiritual seed of Abraham, so if we’re spiritual seed of Abraham why can’t we have a spiritual land, and you see how their thinking goes, and it develops. That’s how you get the rise of amillennialism.
The problem with that view is—is that the way it was understood back there? You have to be careful. They could have misunderstood it back there, but the elements that they did know for sure can’t be refuted. Maybe an easier example would be, let’s take the first prophecy ever given in history and watch it, because it’s easy to see, a simple story, no detail, no complexity here. After Eve had her first son, what did she think? She named him Cain, which is the Hebrew verb to become established, and she says I’ve gotten a man, and the Hebrew is kind of funny there, you almost translate it I’ve gotten a man it’s the lord. What had God said to her at the fall? He said you’re the mother of all life. When Eve had her first son, that was the first human being ever born. Think of that; she and Adam weren’t born.
So here we have an interesting thing, the first human being ever to be born is Cain. Eve had never seen a birth before, it’s the first time she’s ever gone through this, so here she is, she has a baby, and she looks at him and she says that must be the fulfillment of the promise, God said I’m going to be the mother of all life. Is it wrong for her to apply that? Was she the mother of… was that living? Was that part of the human race? Yes. Was that a person for whom Christ died? Yes. So was she wrong in thinking of him as part of the fulfillment of the prophecy that she’d be the mother of all life? No. He is part, but he is not the only part of the fulfillment; the whole human race is the fulfillment of that. And then in its pure form, she’s the mother of all life in the sense that she’s going to be the mother of the Messiah and that in God’s sovereign magnificent way, she’s going to save us through ourselves, not through angels, not through animals, not through trees, it’s going to be the through the human race itself, God will use that tool to save itself. That’s the incarnation that we’re going to see. But Eve didn’t have a clue about the myriad of depth to what God spoke to her. But what she did say when she saw her first baby son was true.
So let this be an example as we try to thread our way through this, that if we were Old Testament believers, and we would honestly see ourselves as going to be the heirs of Abraham, and this land here physically is going to be part of the Kingdom, that can’t be wrong. So however we interpret what comes, it may have much more detail to it, but it can’t refute that first part. It has to hold on to that. That’s the rule we’re going to use in all this. All those covenants that we studied, they’ve got to be true. When you come to the New Testament, for example, we said last year there were several covenants, what was the last one we covered? The Abrahamic Covenant: land, seed and worldwide blessing. The land part of the Abrahamic Covenant was amplified by another covenant called the Palestinian Covenant. The seed covenant was expanded in another covenant in the Old Testament, the Davidic Covenant.
The worldwide blessing covenant is expanded in the Old Testament under the New Covenant of Jeremiah. If you remember when I taught that, I said at the time be very careful, who are the parties to the New Covenant? Israel, it was given to the house of Israel and the house of Judah in Jeremiah. What are we doing in it? How did the church get into the New Testament? See, that’s all related, all tied in there? However the church is related to the New Covenant, it can’t refute the original Jeremiah passage. It can’t go backwards from the New to the Old, and totally change the whole Old Testament, well, those people they didn’t really understand this, now we know what the New Covenant is, that’s in relation the Lord and the church, those poor people just didn’t have it back then. We can’t work that way, we can’t go backwards, we’ve got to go forwards. So the New Covenant is anchored to the house of Judah and the house of Israel, and however we’re related to it, it’s got to be through that. You can argue forever on the details but you can’t argue against the original arrangement, that environment in which that prophecy was given and do justice to the text of the Scripture.
So that’s where we’re going, that’s the concept. And hopefully you’ll see next week after we get through the postmillennialists, that’s what I’m going to try to do, I’m going to try to fill you, not getting into all the details, we can’t, this is a whole study, but what we can do is I can show you how you go about thinking through a solution to the problem. One of the things that we have to deal with that we talked about in the Old Testament when we went through all those covenants, what did I say had to be true? If you make a deal with somebody, and it’s written down, how do you interpret a legal document? You don’t spiritualize it, you don’t allegorize it. Why? Because the document has to within itself have a control. If I write a contract, a contract has to be self-interpreted. If it isn’t, then either party can load it, and then it breaks down the whole concept of the covenant. Why did we have a covenant in the first place? To monitor behavior of the parties to the covenant. Well if you’re going to slip some grease in the hermeneutics then you might as well not even write the covenant, because it can be redefined by either party. So that’s what we’re talking about, you’re under the control… if you think of a business contract, a contract on your house, on your car, an appliance, anything; when you buy you sign your name on the dotted line. That’s not greasy, that’s a specific thing. It’s the same principle in the Bible. That’s what we’re going to go back to. Ultimately we’re going to see in the notes handed out tonight the moving closer and closer to the hermeneutics, the principle how you read the text, that’s got to be there.
Question asked: Clough replies: The new nature issue that he has raised, that really comes up with the Church. It’s not revealed very clear in the Old Testament. The only thing you have in the Old Testament is the circumcision of the heart. They knew something like this because the Holy Spirit wanted them to realize the Holy Spirit does something in every person’s heart, and in the language of the Old Testament it doesn’t call it regeneration, it calls it spiritual circumcision. And they were clear that there was something going on, from the moment of the Exodus God said that if these people don’t circumcise their heart, they can forget everything. So there’s something going on inside. It’s not developed and it will develop, develop, develop, develop, and then finally, of course, at the resurrection that’s where everybody’s locked in so [can’t understand word/s]. At resurrection there is no more sin for the people who are saved, and there is no more righteousness for the people that go to hell.
Question asked: Clough replies: But apparently it was dissolved so that the angels today aren’t in danger of falling [can’t understand word/s] Whatever happened, it’s like, remember I used the illustration of cement and water, mix the two together and you get concrete, and the concrete gets thick at the resurrection. Now how you work that with will, you’re going to see it in the Lord Jesus Christ, because one of the doctrines we’re going to get into, the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ and that’s what starts defining it so I don’t want to get into it now.