© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Appendix – Resolving the Controversy
Lesson 104 – Summary of Millennial Issue, Conclude Old Testament
12 Nov 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We handed out notes, the beginning of section V which will deal with “The Confrontation of the King”, which is going to deal with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work. Since that’s coming, we want to finish resolving the controversy of how we interpret prophecy, whether we’re amillennial, premillennial, or postmillennial. I’m going to offer evidences of the premillennial position, and as I do this I’m going to rely on something we covered; it’s a way of approach. I showed a slide, it’s taken from a book about World War II and how the B-17s flew into Germany, and they had to have so many aircraft because so few bombs were being carried on each aircraft. They would fly in these formations and it was very important that these formations stay in formation. There’s one group up here, the red, green, yellow, next group red, green, yellow, one group at 26,000 feet, one group at 25,000 feet, one group 24,000 feet. You pray that the guys up here don’t drop on the guys down here, which they did sometimes. The idea was that the planes are put in such a way that they cover each other. The technique is still the same, even today; we’re trying countermeasures, etc.
But the point we’re trying to show is that these aircraft don’t go in alone; they’re all part of a team and they have to be in formation. In like fashion, the Scripture gives truths that cannot and should not stand alone; they stand in formation. We covered these truths in the sequence of a framework, tonight we’re going to make use of that framework because the evidences for the premillennial position depend upon other parts of the framework. The Bible is internally self-consistent, and it’s self-consistent because God is perfectly rational. We can’t comprehend His thinking the way He comprehends His thinking. God’s thinking is different than ours, He never has to learn anything and the act of thinking is creative with Him. The act of thinking on our part is not creative; the act of thinking on our part is we think of a plan and then we do the plan. God doesn’t have to do the plan; He can just think the plan into existence. He has perfect intuition of all facts at all times; we have only a touching awareness of facts within time and space with which we live. God sees connections between all facts; we see only connections between some facts. So our limited finite minds, while not God’s, does have a rationality to it. We have to understand God has perfect rationality, and all of these things that He teaches about Himself fit together.
So we’re going to make heavy use of the creation event, and what it teaches us about God, man and nature. Don’t think of these as past topics, think of these as part of a web that fits together. There’s a web of events and a web of truth; they all interlock, they cross-connect, etc. So although we have a sequence of revelation, this is a very integrative way that God has presented His thinking in history.
On page 12 of this Appendix to Part IV, we want to deal with the resolution of these three views. We talked about these three views quite a bit; we’ve said that they basically have to do with the nature of the Kingdom of God. We’ve developed a vocabulary so we can think about it, because the tool of thinking is a vocabulary. You’ve got to have a vocabulary, and we developed a vocabulary, speaking of mortal man and immortal man. Those two words give us tools and handles to get a grip on things. The issue is, whether the Kingdom of God shows itself inside mortal history, or whether the Kingdom of God cannot be contained inside mortal history and basically is a synonym, the same thing, it means the eternal state.
We’ve shown the chart on good and evil a number of times. That separation that you see on the chart, basically the debate in prophecy is whether this thing really gets started inside mortal history and comes to some sort of fruition, or whether all we have is just a hint at it, pieces. For example, if you think of the postmillennial view, postmillennialists argue that the Kingdom comes in history, but the Kingdom that comes in history is not much different than normal life today. In other words, it consists only of a greater percent of believers to unbelievers. It’s just the believer-unbeliever ration changes. The Kingdom of God, as we see it here, consists of good and evil being separated out, and the evil is not just evil in man, but it’s evil in nature. How do we know that? Why do we say evil includes both man and nature? Because of what happened back at the fall. At the fall, not only did man fall, but what did God do to the ground under man’s feet? He cursed it. Nature fell as well as man falling. So if you’ve got big a fall, you’ve got to have that big of a resolution to the problem.
The nature of the case, then, concerns what is the Kingdom of God. We said that the different views, thinking in terms of mortal and immortal, you could diagram it that in the premil position you have history go on, you have the return of Christ, you have this strange period of a thousand years, and then you have the eternal state. This strange period of a thousand years is made up of mortal humans being the chief actors; we’re under an immortal human leadership, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, and the resurrected saints of the church. So you have the Kingdom for a thousand years inside mortal history, showing that man even fails in a perfect environment, because the demonstration of a thousand years will be that you have a perfect government. People can’t argue that there’s evil in the government institution because the argument for centuries has been that evil is imbedded in human institutions, therefore you have to have a revolution to undo the human institution. Hence, therefore communism was not just replacing a regime in theory, it was not to replace a regime with another regime; communism in theory was to do away with all regimes. It was to be the end of institutions because those institutions institutionalized evil. So if you believe that, obviously the communist message has an appeal. It’s your diagnosis of what the problem is, where it is located, what is the problem that causes it.
Here men will live for a thousand years and at the end of a thousand years there will be people born who are not saved. Once again, even though the thousand years starts with all people saved, it winds up with not all people saved, because children will have been born during that process of mortal history, they will not be led to the Lord. They will be in a league of unbelief, and when the Lord Jesus Christ allows Satan to walk… he’s released from prison on parole for a little bit at the end, and it takes him no more than a few weeks to stir up a world revolt against the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it eliminates the argument that could be made in history that if we only had a perfect environment we would have been cool. If we had a perfect world government, that would have brought in peace. There’s the counter demonstration.
Each one of the ages in history refutes an excuse of man. The age of innocence in the Garden refutes the idea that if I lived in a perfect environment without any sin whatsoever then everything would be cool. The Garden disproves that. Then we had an age on earth when there was no capital punishment, people were free to do whatever they wanted to do and all they had was conscience, no government. So the libertarian idea, the anarchist idea, does away with government, that’s the problem. The whole antediluvian period was a historical demonstration that man still screwed up, even without government. Therefore we come to the next period in history, when God institutes government, and He gives the sword to the state, from the angels into the hands of man, and says now you have a government, now it’s up to you to enforce the authority, I’m not doing it and the angels aren’t doing it, you’re doing it. You fussed at Me, you fussed at the angels, let’s see how you do it. We’ve seen how we do it, so that knocks out that excuse. You can look at each one of these ages as a refutation of the excuses of sinful man. The thousand years has that function also, like the previous ages.
We also said the postmillennial view says that history goes on and then you’ll kind of have a transition into the Kingdom, Christ comes back and the eternal state starts, and we like that. In this way there’s a continuity between now and the Kingdom. We saw historically, what did that do? We said historically in church history one of the corollaries of that position is that the Church gets very involved in social welfare programs, and the social gospel movement in the 19th century was based on postmillennialism, i.e. that the Church besides evangelizing ought to go out and Christianize the environment, Christianize the world. We saw how that did. After World War I, Verdun and a few other battles when 40,000–50,000 men die in a week, we killed 50,000 Vietnam in seven years; in Verdun and those other battles of World War II they knocked off that many people in one week. England lost half their young people in one week, ran them into machine gun fire in World War I, a great demonstration of how man was going to get better and better.
Amillennialism says that there really isn’t a Kingdom. There are two versions of amillennialism, i.e., that the Kingdom of God is equated with the eternal state, or in a spiritual way the Kingdom of God is identified as the Church. In that case, if the Kingdom of God is identified with the Church, then it means that the Church is one to one with the Kingdom. What happens to Israel? What’s happened to that connection between Israel and the Kingdom? It’s severed. The church has basically replaced Israel.
Those are the three views and tonight we’re going to deal with four criteria of working with that. We’ve already started working with these four criteria but I want to review, because this will be the last time we’re going to go into detail on the issue of the millennium and the three views. We’re going to do a set of four criteria to decide this issue. We said ultimately the issue is deciding how you are going to interpret passages like Isaiah 65. In Isaiah 65 things like the wolf lies down with the lamb, we had passages about human longevity, nobody dies, except for sin, in the millennial kingdom; extremely long ages. We have passages that deal with a perfect society. There’s nobody that earns the money and then it’s stolen from them and that sort of thing. So you have all those issues. How literal do you interpret those?
We said what we have to do is come back to the basic framework. Let’s see test-use consistency. What do we know to be the doctrine of nature? What does the Bible teach about the doctrine of nature? On pages 13-14 we covered what the Bible teaches about nature and we said that there were zoological changes, Genesis 3:14; Romans 8:10-21. In Genesis 9 we have the transition between herbivores and carnivores; we have zoological changes, at least with the serpent and presumably with other animal forms. So you have all these changes that occurred once, if you interpret Genesis literally, if you interpret Genesis literally. Once you interpret Genesis literally, and you acquire this view of nature, then what’s the problem with interpreting prophecies that basically argue that the state of the world in the Kingdom of God, the thousand year millennium, what is to say, if this is the Church Age, this is the return of Christ, this is the thousand years, what is to say that the conditions during that Kingdom very much approximate what was going on on earth prior to the flood. There’s no philosophical logical reason for not taking those prophecies literally, if you believe in a literal early Genesis.
On page 14 we started with the creationist’s view of man. Turn to Genesis 1:26; the human race is characterized as having a mission under God. The universe is not complete without man, that’s a biblical position. Genesis 1:26-28 is a key controversial text that is vilified by the philosophical leaders of modern ecology. The modern “green” movement takes verse 26, it’s amazing they even read verses 26-28, but they are taken by leading thinkers in the ecology movement as proof that Christianity is hostile to the environment, therefore it’s Christianity that must yield and be destroyed and eradicated from the planet in order that we can have people that don’t think always of dominating nature. This is a very modern quip, it’s been around actually for about thirty years, but what’s wrong with that interpretation? They’re reading verses 26-28, probably don’t read anything else; they just come to verse 26-28, so immediately what have you got? Interpretation without context.
Theologically what’s the context of verses 26-28? What are you going to say? Their argument is that see, that’s Christianity, there it is, man’s going to go out and crush the environment, man wrecks the environment, he doesn’t have to respect the environment. What’s wrong with that reading of verses 26-28? What’s being left out? God. Who is it that’s telling man this? And to whom is man responsible? Man is responsible to God. Who is it that made the environment? God made the environment. Did He make it very good? Verse 31 tells us the environment was very good. Well God says in a very good environment I want you to make it better, I want you to subdue it, not wreck it. We don’t wreck God’s handiwork; none of that is in here. So the interpretation is far out; to say that wreckage is envisioned in verses 26-28 is nonsense; it’s not part of the curse, that’s just taking a word out of context and not paying a dime’s worth of attention to it. Read, read, read! Slow down and READ!
So in Genesis 1:26-28 the purpose of the human race in the Bible is to rule the earth. Psalm 8, Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels. Why? To rule the earth. What do you mean “rule the earth?” In the immediate context in this part of the Bible where to you have a simple, common picture of what it means to rule the earth? Genesis 2. What is man doing? The first ruling of man, two simple illustrations of how man rules: number one, what is he told to do in the Garden? To till it and keep it, so gardening is a form of subduing the earth. This is before thorns and thistles, this is before weeds. To subdue the earth. What is produced by subduing the earth? Fruit, food, beauty, it’s man as the decorator. God provides the materials and man provides the decorations and brings them to fruition. The arts, it’s not just eating, it’s also making the environment attractive. That’s not to say that it wasn’t attractive in the moral sense. In verse 31 God is perfectly pleased with His work. But remember, the “very good” in verse 31 includes man subduing the earth. That’s what’s God-pleasing because He knows that He’s got all the material here, and He’s saying go for it, do something with it, and that’s “very good.”
What is the second illustration of man subduing the earth that we have in the immediate passage, Genesis 2? Besides gardening, what else did Adam do before Eve came along, part of finding her? He named the environment. So that’s understanding, that’s coming to think God’s thoughts after Him through living in this world. That’s how you come to know God. Adam came to know himself by naming the creatures, didn’t he? Because what did he discover in the process of naming them all? That he couldn’t really have any fellowship with any of them, there was something missing in his soul. So that’s man’s subduing the earth. We get technology, art, all the industries; everything comes out of this Genesis 1:26-28. This is before the fall, before the fall!
Going back to our chart we have the subduing given in this period, not this period. The subduing is not necessarily talking about sin. It’s talking about bringing something, producing something. We evangelicals, rightly so, we focus so much on the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, salvation, salvation, salvation, that we tend to get a little fixation about that, forgetting if salvation is all there is, then what do you do for eternity. Man’s purpose is greater than being saved. Being saved restores him to his original position, which was to subdue. Salvation is a step on the way; salvation is to enable man to be restored to his original purpose.
If man’s original purpose is to subdue the earth and bring it to fruition, through industry, technology, art, question: were Adam and Eve in resurrection bodies when they were given the command in verses 26-28, or were they in their mortal, natural bodies. The answer: they were in their mortal, natural body; therefore, verses 26-28 is an imperative mood, addressed to a mortal person or an immortal person? It’s addressed to mortal people. Here’s the argument. We’ve covered one of our criteria, the doctrine of nature. Now we’re going over and look at the doctrine of man; doctrine of nature, doctrine of man.
What view of the kingdom best fits the doctrine of man? What’s the ultimate purpose of the human race with respect to the creation? It’s to beautify it; it’s to utilize it the way it should be utilized. It is mortal people doing this, not immortal people doing it. If that’s the case, then which of the three views has the Kingdom of God that accomplishes this? Amillennialism, postmillennialism, or premillennialism? Which of the three views deals with mortal history? Postmillennialism and premillennialism. So you can dispense with amillennialism because they don’t have any Kingdom inside history to deal with, so that’s eliminated. That doesn’t fulfill verses 26-28 does it? Is there ever a time when the human race corporately attains the goal of verses 26-28 on an amillennial basis? No. Because it’s not until the eternal state that the Kingdom of God can come into fruition. Therefore, that leaves only two views, postmillennialism and premillennialism. Both of them do deal with the Kingdom of God inside mortal history, and both of them are seriously concerned with verses 26-28, of seeing that that comes to fruition.
Now the question is: which one best sees that coming to fruition. Page 15 of the notes: “The difference between the premillennialist and the postmillennialist is one of degree,” on this point. “How far will mankind subdue the earth? The postmillennialist argues that the golden era which the Church is supposed to bring into existence will ‘not be essentially different from our own as far as the basic facts of life are concerned.’ The postmillennialist, therefore, would see mankind’s subduing some of its social problems and some technological difficulties, but mankind would not subdue all nature under its feet in the sense that the geophysical environment itself, human longevity, and zoological transformation would be included. The premillennialist, on the other hand, foresees a far greater degree of submission. He sees mankind (through Christ) as subduing the animal realm so effectively, for example, that a child will be able to lead a young lion.” That’s not a figure of speech; that is a literal zoological fact. “To bring about this degree of subjugation, Christ executes a complex strategy involving hard-to-imagine removal of evil spirits from historical influence as well as the commingling of resurrected, immortal saints with millennial humans yet in unresurrected, mortal bodies. The precedent, of course, for such commingling of divine and human beings is already established prior to the flood (Genesis 6:1-4) and after Christ’s resurrection (e.g., John 20-21).”
There’s nothing there that breaks biblical precedent. The premillennial view of the Kingdom is not changing anything, it’s not adding anything, it’s not violating any precedent that we’ve already seen in past history. As a matter of fact, positively the doctrine of man comes to a historical fulfillment, in that man finally does corporately… corporately subdue the earth, music, art, industry, flourishes under the government of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the way, I don’t believe from the pictures that you get of the Kingdom in the Old Testament that Christ is going to do the art, Christ is going to do the technology, or the church or anything else is going to do it, it’s going to be the mortal human beings that are still in their natural bodies. It’s the people—that’s their moment of history. Christ and the resurrected saints, their job is more of a ruling job, kicking the demons out and letting the environment be conducive to the human race fully functioning.
On page 15 I mention another tool that man will use to subdue, that he’s been given by God, the tool of language, naming. In language you have the figurative and the literal approach. What I’m trying to say there, the figurative use of language isn’t a weak form of language. The figurative use of language isn’t an excuse that you use whenever you can’t use the literal, in the weak sense. The figurative use of language would have been there from the very instant of creation, because God has created the universe with unseen qualities. Nobody knows what logic looks like. Has anybody seen a logic walking around? That’s a quality. Anybody see a beauty walking around? That’s a quality; these are thing that you think about in the abstract. They’re not things that you can touch, feel, taste or hear. So there’s always been figurative language, that’s not the problem.
The problem is this, if you’re going to argue that whatever this Kingdom is, it’s so ethereal that it can only be figuratively spoken of, you’ve got a problem, because now you’re saying that the Kingdom of God can’t be touched, it can’t be heard, it can’t been seen, it can only be spoken of in figurative language. What does that do to a fulfillment? How do you get that kind of a figurative Kingdom fulfilled ever. It could be happening right here, right? You can’t touch it, can’t see it, can’t taste it, can’t feel it, can’t speak literally of it. Why can’t it happen right now? Obviously that just doesn’t gel well. So the idea again is that language does not require anything other than the simple premillennial position.
Finally on page 16, the answer to nations, mankind’s corporate structure. We mentioned that last time that is that man is identified not in terms of his political boundaries, but in terms of his genealogy. Racially speaking, everyone in this room has a history. You have a genetic history, your father, your mother, their fathers and their mothers, all the way back to Noah and his family. There were genes lost in the flood that have never been recovered. The only genes that we have available in our pool of the human race are those that happened to survive in the ark. Whatever the people looked like before the flood - they may have been a different kind of looking people—but the people that we know all have a genetic history back to one family. That’s the biblical answer to racism; that’s the answer. Nobody likes that answer because it requires a belief in a little Scripture, but if you get your head screwed on and people think about that it resolves the racial issue. We are not groups that evolved on different continents at different places, like the 19th century people did, and like the Nazi’s believe; there’s none of that stuff, you don’t have polygenetic evolution of the races, one group here never mixing with this group over here. Bologna. All the races come out of one family.
So when we have prophecy, as I mentioned in this major verse, and God in Geneses 10:22 identifies Asshur with the Assyrians, and He makes a prophecy about Asshur in the future; who’s He talking about? The people that have the genes of Asshur. Can God track them? Sure He can. What are we doing now in crime, with DNA analysis? Aren’t we tracking people? What did we just hear about Thomas Jefferson? Aren’t we tracking genealogical things by our DNA? If we can do that, how come God can’t with His omniscience? Why can’t He make a prophecy about Asshur? Why can’t He make a prophecy about Levi? He knows where the genes are, He knows who’s got the DNA. Not only that, but I give you the example that we’ve mentioned several times, the tribe of Levi. That Jewish tribe still exists today with their last names, Cohen, Levi, Kohane, they’re all the tribe of Levi. That’s one that’s very clear cut in their genetic heritage.
Finally we come to a difficult one under the doctrine of man, page 16, the last paragraph. This one takes a little thinking about it, so turn to Genesis 3:15 and screw on your thinking caps a moment. What we want to look at is this peculiar feature of the role of man, God’s omniscience, and human history. We’re still on the doctrine of man; we’re going to expand this just a bit. At some point in time God makes a prophecy about another point in time. We’ll call it T1 and T2. Everybody is living at point T1, but God says there’s going to come something that happens, T2. The problem is that if you look carefully at prophecy, rarely is the duration between T1 and T2 spelled out. That’s usually a question mark, it’s not usually there. All we have is a sequence of events. Sometimes we have a sequence of events that looks like this, T2, T3, T4, T5, and we don’t really know, does T2 come before T5, or T5 come before T2, all those problems. We know that they are events out there in the future.
Let’s look at Genesis 3:15 for the first redemptive prophecy. God says that He is going to put enmity between the serpent and the woman, “and between your,” the serpent’s “seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”  “To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children,” etc. Adam believes this and he calls his wife, verse 20, by the Hebrew name for life, “Eve” is Chavvah, that’s her name, she’s life. Why does he call his wife’s name life when both of them are going to die? Think about that. Why, of all names, did he ever name his wife Eve? It must be because he believed that she was going to somehow have this seed that would survive, and that surviving seed of the woman would be the salvation of the human race.
So he must have discussed it with her, and they talked about it, and then they had their first child, Genesis 4:1. Look at how Eve names her son and what she says when she goes to name her son. She says, “she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild,” the translators have a problem with this, because it can be translated a “manchild with the LORD,” or it could be “a manchild, the LORD.” In other words, she probably knew something about the incarnation. The point is that she’s fixed on her son and identifies Cain as T2. Is she correct? No she isn’t, she’s wildly off. What’s the problem? Because in order to get to T2, if T2 is the birth of Christ, a lot of stuff had to happen. For 3 years we’ve gone patiently through the Old Testament to get the context for the coming of Jesus Christ. All of that was necessary.
It took century after century after century of working here, working there, refuting this position, refuting that, people say oh, we can do it by ourselves, yea you can do it by yourself, bologna. God had to demonstrate that. Oh, if we had a king, then we could do it. All right, have a king, watch what he does; he peters out and there goes another great idea down the drain. One great idea after another goes down the drain until finally, in the fullness of time, God brings forth His Son. The fullness of time doesn’t happen for a while. So here’s the conclusion of the matter. When we are at T1 and we have a prophecy about T2, this time interval can stretch, we call it by various surprise effects, God can inject surprise effects in here that blow this time up, and we can have what we call time stretching. Time stretching, not from God’s point of view, but from what it appears to look like from man’s point of view. All of a sudden it’s long.
What is the key time stretching illustration we’ve just got through in the restoration period, it was by Daniel. Remember what he did? He thought the restoration was going to happen when? 70 years. In 70 years he gets down on his knees and he prays, it’s the 70th year Lord, hey, you told me 70 years. Well, in 70 years the nation did come back for a partial restoration. But what did the interpreting angel tell Daniel? He said there’s going to be seventy times seven, seventy weeks, not just 70 years; seven sevens. So time is stretched out. Now when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s going to stretch again because when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ you have the suffering prophecies, you’ve got the glorious reigning prophecies, and they’re all bunched together in the Old Testament. But what do we now know about them? How far apart, at least, are they? 2000 years—time stretching.
Again and again you see this time stretching, stretching out, stretching out. What is that? It’s to allow room, as I say on page 16, “Prophecy becomes complicated with time because history involves men’s response to God’s grace. There is always ‘room’ in prophecy for the interplay of true moral choice among men: man is never ‘programmed’ by some created ‘cause-effect’/ ‘stimulus response.’ Unless this fact is recognized, one would be tempted to conclude that prophecy has often contained logical contradictions. Noah preached, for example, for men to repent; had they done so, however, their action would have made the plans for the ark too small.” Think about that for a while. For 120 years Noah is building the ark. For 120 years he’s preaching. Suppose there was a revival, now what does he do with the plans for the ark? Then was that invitation legitimate? Yes it was, because God had history planned such that that revival wouldn’t happen. Nevertheless, Noah had to preach the Word of God. Why? To condemn the generation, so they couldn’t give some excuse, well we just never heard. Yes you did hear, you heard a lot, you heard repetitively.
“Jesus preached the Kingdom only to Jews (Matthew 10:5);” one of those strange verses we’re going to see, I didn’t come to the Gentile, Jesus said, I came to preach to the Jews. Jesus probably, if the Jews had believed, would have been kept from dying on the cross. Suppose they accepted Christ, now what would happen to the cross? “Nevertheless, such biblical prophecy has always finally come to pass in a non-contradictory way, though in a manner unvisualized by men at the time the prophecy was announced.” This is humbling, we’d just love to get all of this in a nice box, but if you look at the historical record, prophecy is always fulfilled literally. Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Yes. Did Jesus ever go down to Egypt? Yes. Did God call His Son out of Egypt, just like He called the nation out of Egypt? Yes. Did He fulfill Isaiah 53? Yes. So the prophecy is always fulfilled literally, but it’s always different than what you think would happen. That’s why the last sentence, “Historical responsibility under God’s sovereignty introduces ‘surprise effects’ that ‘stretch out’ the original prophetic vision’s horizon.”
Another example of this is 1 Peter1:10. Peter comments on this, he’s having the same problem. He’s interpreting for us the Old Testament. These are one of those neat little passages in the New Testament that tells you how New Testament apostles interpreted the Old Testament. It’s these little nuggets that you gain really insights on the Old Testament from. Verse 10, he’s talking about the prophets. Who were the prophets? The guys that wrote the Old Testament, the prophets that added to Moses’ law. He says, “…the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,” so God revealed a message to them and those guys studied their heads off trying to figure this out. Verse 11, “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow,” First Advent, Second Advent.
We’ll see in the notes, Jewish rabbis went to the point that the only way they got it together in verse 11 was they said there were two Messiah’s, one was going to be the son of Joseph who was going to suffer, and then there would be the son of David, who would reign in glory. That’s how they figured it out. They said you can’t have this conflict, there’s a logical contradiction here so you’ve got to get around it somehow. And the way they got around it in verse 11 was they went a two-Messiah theory. But Peter’s not mentioning two Messiah’s here; he’s just saying that all the guys in the Old Testament had problems with this.
Look at the third paragraph on page 17, conclusion to this second criterion. “When one faces, therefore, passages like Revelation 19:11-20:15 which seem to depict Christ’s return in a complex form and passages like Matthew 24-25 and 2 Peter 3 which seem to depict the return in simple form,” which one do you allow to control the other. It’s exactly opposite to the way you usually are taught to interpret Scripture. You let the complicated passage control the interpretation to the simpler one. Why? Because [blank spot]
The complicated one gives you all the elements that you have to have in the final fulfillment. So that’s the answer to why amillennialists like to camp on Matthew 24-25 and 2 Peter, see, it’s a simple thing, amillennialists camp on those two. We camp on Revelation 19-20, that’s a complicated passage. They try to interpret the complicated passage on the basis of the simple one; we turn around and we interpret the simple passage on the basis of the complicated one. The more complicated passages contain more information and are nearer to the final fulfillment, and that’s why you go with the complicated passage, not the simple one, there’s more information. The simple one has less information. “The premillennialists insistence, then, that Christ’s return does not end history, but yet another era of history must pass before the end of history in the final judgment is on sure ground.”
Now we come to the third criteria. We dealt with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of nature, now we’re going to deal with the doctrine of the covenants. All during the Old Testament time, the last 2–3 years, I kept emphasizing that when you have a covenant or a contract, it’s got to be clear to all the parties of the covenant what are the terms. Why? Why do you have a contract in the first place? To monitor behavior. A contract has to be clearly enough written so it can be verified. Was the contract fulfilled or was it not. Now we apply it to prophecy.
Again, page 27, “Israel is the only nation in history that claimed to have a written contract with its God. Although such contracts or covenants rest upon the creationist foundation of language…” etc. “Contracts and treaties need verifiability. The meaning of contractual terminology, therefore, cannot be ‘reinterpreted’ later when things don’t appear to be turning out the way the contract originally stated.” We have contracts regarding the land, the seed and the worldwide blessing. For the life of me, I have never figured out why this land promise can get so butchered in prophecy. Think of yourself as Abraham, God told you this land… this land Abraham, where was he standing when he said “this land?” Palestine. And the land has to come to the descendants of Abraham; it can’t be New York, Brooklyn, Rome, Paris, that wasn’t where Abraham was standing. He was standing in Palestine. So where’s the Kingdom of God going to be centered? In the land. What land? The land of Palestine. But if you’re going to make the land the church, everywhere the church is, what does that have to do with Abraham standing in the land of Palestine? You’ve changed the meaning of the word l-a-n-d. That’s not in the original contract and that’s not the way somebody who had that contract in their hand would have interpreted it.
See what we’re doing. You’ve got to keep the interpretation of the original people who got the contract or you’ve changed things. It’d be great to change your house contract, your car contract, if the payments don’t work out, just change it figuratively interpret the contract. Watch how you get away with that one! But yet theologians get away with it all the time. The amillennialist gets away with this. And yet if the amillennialist buys a car he doesn’t want the bank to interpret his car contract the way he’s interpreting the Abrahamic Contract.
We have the seed promise through David. What does it say? It says the Messiah has to be the son of David. What do we find the Gospels doing in the front end of all the Gospels? Genealogies. Why’s that? To show that Jesus is related to the son of David. Why do they bother with that? Because it says “the seed of David,” He’s got to be Jewish. With all due apologies to the white Arians the Messiah is Jewish, not Gentile. The Kingdom of God is Jewish. Judaism, Old Testament Judaism is the custodian religion of man. It gave us the Bible and it gave us the Messiah. You can go through all the contracts.
We come to the fourth thing on page 18. We’ve looked at the contract issue; it’s pretty easy to understand that one. Now we come to a more complicated one, and that is the issue of the rejection of Christ, and that leading to the inter-advent age. It’s part of this time stretching. Here’s the first and here’s the second; here’s the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which shall follow. In the Old Testament, those two events were not seen as separate. They were different, that’s why they had two Messiahs. But they weren’t visualized as happening to the same Messiah distributed over time.
Page 18, item 4, “The implications of Christ’s Rejection.” “The rejection of Christ by God’s covenant nation created a very complex situation. No longer was history a straightforward movement into the promised Kingdom of God on earth through Israel.” Think about it, what was John the Baptist’s testimony to the nation. What did he say? Before Jesus ministry got started He was introduced on stage by a prophet, just like the Old Testament kings. A prophet—king maker. So the King-making prophet in the New Testament is John. That’s why all the Gospels start not with Jesus but with John. John connects Jesus with Old Testament prophetic lines. And John said what? Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. That means that if the nation had repented, what would have happened? The Kingdom of God would have come. The nation rejected, now what happens to the Kingdom of God that was supposed to come? That’s the $64,000 question.
The rejection of Christ introduced a surprise that wasn’t quite foreseen in the Old Testament. Now we’ve got a big problem here. That’s why the disciples didn’t get it. They got it by Pentecost, but if you go through all four Gospels and they just don’t get it, that the Messiah is going to have to suffer now. Why does Messiah suffer … wait a minute, hold it, Messiah is supposed to bring in the Kingdom here. Messiah’s supposed to have a glorious reign, supposed to be cheered in the streets here. This is the Messiah! This going to die business, where does that come from? Because the nation is doing what by halfway through all four Gospels? It’s quite evident that they’re rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore new things are going to happen that weren’t foreseen quite as clearly.
So here we are introduced to the inter-advent age dilemma. What about this age that in the Old Testament wasn’t clearly seen? That is the source of the problem. Can the inter-advent age be identified as the Kingdom? Think about it from this perspective. I gave you the amil, the premil, we drew little diagrams, but now think of it this way. If the inter-advent age is new, and as a result of the pulling apart of the First and Second Advent of Christ, and wasn’t seen in the Old Testament, can it possibly be identified with the Kingdom of God that was seen in the Old Testament. It’s not likely. The Kingdom of God was clearly seen in the Old Testament, but it’s very speculative to now take this inter-advent age that wasn’t seen in the Old Testament and claim that this is the Kingdom of God. It’s far better to say this is a whole new age, and the Kingdom of God is yet to come, it’s been put off, it’s been postponed, because of all the upset and turmoil and rejection of Christ and everything else, but it’s still scheduled in. It’s just that this age in which we live is a new deal.
One way to look at it, on page 18, is the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar had a spring and fall series to it. In the spring in the Jewish calendar, still in the Jewish calendar, you have Passover, the Feast of First Fruits, and Pentecost. In the fall you have the Trumpets, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and you have the Feast of Tabernacles. Isn’t it striking that only half the calendar has been fulfilled. Isn’t it also striking that it has been fulfilled literally, exactly to the day, Jesus died on Passover, exactly to the day He rose from the dead, the First Fruits, and exactly to the day, when did the Holy Spirit come? We Christians hear the word “Pentecost,” we think of it as the coming of the Spirit, but wait a minute, the Jews had Pentecost for centuries before the coming of the Holy Spirit. It’s an old, old, old thing of the Jewish calendar. So look at it; this was fulfilled literally to the day; fulfilled literally to the day; fulfilled literally to the day, and the calendar stops, no more fulfillments. Does that mean the calendar is no good, it’s just an artifact, left over from the Old Testament, well, we got 50% of it, we’ll forget the rest of it, it’s just debris?
Or, is this Old Testament calendar going to be fulfilled exactly to the day in the future in a literal way. The Feast of Tabernacles was the picture of the coming of the Kingdom in the Old Testament. They got together in their tents, and it was to celebrate the fact that Yahweh would now begin His reign. So this tells us that in the fall cycle this has to be fulfilled; that has to be fulfilled! We’re not saying this is the rapture, it’s not anchored to any time, but these three days surely are anchored to time, and it will suggest the millennial will happen in the autumn of one year. It suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ will be recognized by the nation Israel someday on exactly the day of Yom Kippur. They will suddenly have the veil taken from their eyes and they will confess that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. And they will mourn, and they will go through Isaiah 53, and they will confess their sins, Yom Kippur, the Day or Atonement, atoning for the fact that they rejected Him, what did we do in history? We were so wrong, so so wrong to turn our backs on the Messiah. And when that happens, then Jesus says when you say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of Jehovah,” then I’ll come back. What is the next event on the calendar but the beginning of the Kingdom of God? So the Jewish calendar suggests in the very structure of it that this will take place in a literal straightforward way.
On the bottom of page 18, “The separation of Christ’s career into two parts with an intervening age in between ‘stretches out’ the ‘simple’ prophecies of His coming. When Daniel’s initial interpretation of Jeremiah’s 70-year prophecy was stretched out to 70 ‘sevens,’ an intervening age of Israel’s partial restoration while still under Gentile control came into view.” Was ever such a partial restoration seen in the Old Testament prior to Daniel 9? Not at all, a new age, a new stretched out period came into existence. A partial restoration, I thought we were going to have a full restoration. A partial restoration? Yes, a partial restoration, something new. “This intervening age was not seen in the pre-exilic period of the Old Testament. It was a ‘surprise effect’ under God’s sovereignty. While eternally part of God’s perfectly rational plan for history, it didn’t exist within the creation until the decree of Persian authorities to build Jerusalem. In analogous fashion, the rejection of Christ ‘creates’ a new age previously unforeseen by men of prophecy.”
We come down to the time that we’re now to begin to start talking about Jesus Christ. In the notes I want you to notice for next time, we’re going to try a little different approach. So far throughout the Old Testament we’ve gone from one event to the next in historical sequence. What have we done every time we’ve parked on an event? We’ve clustered a doctrine that can be seen in that event. Remember creation, the fall, we clustered evil; in the call of Abraham what were the doctrines? Election, faith. So we always link doctrines to events. What I want you to observe, we’re going to shift gears just a little bit when we come into the New Testament, because I want to dramatize for you that the New Testament is not new. And here’s how we’re going to do it. When we get into the life of Christ we’re not going to learn any new doctrines, because what we’re going to do is show that all the doctrine is already there in the Old Testament. What we are going to do is we’re going to start studying what people do with Jesus, rather than what the doctrine has revealed in the event, the doctrine is associated with the event.
We’re going to deal with four events: the birth of the Messiah, the life of the Messiah, the death of the Messiah, and the resurrection of the Messiah. Those events will give us plenty to contemplate. But there’s going to be a new motif introduced. Man is not going to question God, well You show me who You are Jesus. I’m going to turn it 180 degrees around; instead I’m going to say it is not Jesus that is on trial here, it is man who is on trial. How men do with Him reveals more about the men that it does about Jesus. If Jesus is a light come into the darkness, and men say that they can’t see the light, is that the light bulb’s fault or a pair of eyeballs’ fault? That’s the picture we’re going to handle with Christ. Christ is going to condemn the world because the world because the world knew Him not, and the condemnation is that here is God walking around on His own planet, and men turn their back on Him. So what is revealed is the glory of God but what is also revealed is the depravity of man, the absolute utter inexcusable depravity and unbelief of men. That will be the theme we’re going to deal with. We’ll deal with the birth of Christ and all that goes with that.
Question asked, Adam and Eve, back in Genesis 1, you said they were in a mortal state, and I guess I wonder how you came to that conclusion if that was before the fall: Clough replies: Okay, what I meant was mortal as an adversative to resurrection, I wasn’t thinking of the fall, I was just thinking of the fact that they had ... maybe what I should have said was they had a body that was subject to mortality if they fell. It was a natural body like ours, it wasn’t like resurrection, because once you’re in a resurrected body there’s no change of state. I think that’s a critical observation of what the Garden was like.
If there are no other questions we’ll call it quits.