Sciencefaction is dawning. The impossible is becoming possible as the line between fiction and fact is blurred.
Thy Kingdom Come:
by Chuck Missler • February 1, 2002
It is tragic that most of the major denominations – Roman Catholic and Protestant – embrace an eschatology (“study of last things”) that is amillennial : a view that does not envision a literal rule of Christ on the Throne of David on the Planet Earth.
While there are many different, yet defendable, views regarding many aspects of end-time prophecies, this basic divergence – denying a literal Millennium – is particularly dangerous in that it would appear to be an attack on the very character of God! It does violence to His numerous and explicit promises and commitments that pervade both the Old and New Testaments.
The Old Testament is replete with commitments for a literal Messiah ultimately ruling the world through Israel from His throne in Jerusalem. There are at least 1,845 references in the Old Testament and 17 books give prominence to the event. The ancient rabbinical aspirations were dominated by it. In fact, this obsession obscured their recognizing the Messiah when He made His initial appearance.
There are at least 318 references in 216 chapters of the New Testament and 23 of its 27 books give prominence to the event. The early church looked longingly for His promised return as their “Blessed Hope” to rid their desperate world of its evil rulers. How and where did this skepticism known as “Amillennialism” begin?
Pious, popular, and persuasive, Origen stands out as one of the great figures of the 3rd century church. Even at the age of 18, he stood out spectacularly well as a teacher in Alexandria. (In misguided obedience to Matthew 19:12, he emasculated himself, which he later regretted.) Later, as a prolific writer based in Caesarea, his De Principiissystematically laid out Christian doctrine in terms of Hellenic thinking and set the pattern for most subsequent theological thought for many years. His numerous sermons and commentaries, however, tragically also established an extreme pattern of allegorizing Scripture, which was to strongly influence Augustine in subsequent years.
Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo (A.D. 354-430), was one of the most influential leaders of the Western church, living during the turbulent days of the disintegration of the Roman Empire.
He lived a sensuous, dissolute life, but following a dramatic conversion he experienced a total change of character. In 391 he was ordained as a priest in North Africa and four years later was elevated to the Bishop of Hippo. He embarked on a writing career and his extensive doctrinal writings deeply affected the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. Augustine’s most elaborate writing, The City of God , was written as the Empire lay crumbling under a siege by half-civilized tribes. It portrayed the Church as a new civic order in the midst of the ruins of the Roman Empire. Augustine died while the Vandals were besieging the very gates of Hippo in A.D. 430.
Although his writings effectively defeated a number of heresies emerging in those turbulent times, the allegorizing influences of Origen left an amillennial eschatology in their wake. As the Church had increasingly become an instrument of the state, it wasn’t politically expedient to look toward a literal return of Christ to rid the world of its evil rulers! The allegorical reposturing of those passages was more “politically correct.” (This reminds me of the saying among the data processing profession: “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything!”)
The Reformation Shortfall
A thousand years later, under the influences of Martin Luther and others, the Reformation brought an intensive return to the authority of the Scriptures which, in turn, resulted in the subsequent reform in soteriology (the study of salvation) with its emphasis on salvation by faith alone. Many were willingly burned at the stake for their commitment to a Biblical perspective. However, one of the unfortunate shortcomings of the Reformation was that it failed to also reexamine the eschatology of the Medieval Church in the light of Scripture. Thus, the allegorizing alchemy of Origen, institutionalized by Augustine, left a denial of the Millennium that still continues to pervade the doctrines of most Protestant denominations today.
From Augustine to Auschwitz
One of the derivative aspects of an amillennial perspective is that it denies Israel’s future role in God’s plans. This also leads to a “replacement theology” in which the Church is viewed as replacing Israel in God’s program for mankind. In addition to forcing an allegorization of many key passages of Scripture, this also led to the tragedy of the Holocaust in Europe. The responsibility for the six million Jews who were systematically murdered in the concentration camps has to include the silent pulpits who had embraced this heretical eschatology and its attendant anti-Semitism.
Reality of the Millennium
For anyone who takes the Bible seriously, the numerous explicit commitments of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the Messiah would literally rule from Zion cannot be ignored or explained away. God’s explicit and unconditional commitment of the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the very issue that is being challenged by the world today! And, the resurgence of amillennialism, and its attendant doctrines, are again setting the stage for the next holocaust.1
In the New Testament, these commitments are reconfirmed. Every Christmas we are reminded that Gabriel promised Mary that her son was destined to sit on the Throne of David (which did not exist during the days of His ministry).2 It is yet to be fulfilled. In fact, He taught us to pray specifically for it: “Thy Kingdom come….” What does that mean? The thousand-year reign, from which the Millennium takes its label, is detailed in numerous passages including Revelation 20, Isaiah 65, and Ezekiel 40-48, among others. Ezekiel’s detailed tour of the Millennial Temple virtually defies any skeptic’s attempt to treat it allegorically (see diagram). Encompassing a Temple area 50 miles on a side, substantially to the north of Jerusalem, as a source of a river that flows toward both the Mediterranean to the west and the Dead Sea to the east, Ezekiel’s description implies a total change of topography, which is explicit in the Scripture. 3
However, the more we learn about the Millennium, the more questions it raises. It is not heaven: it is clearly distinctive in contrast to the eternal state which follows (Revelation 21). It will be characterized by a limited amount of evil, which Christ will judge perfectly and immediately.4 Neither is it the “new earth” that God will yet create;5 for therein righteousness dwells, which is something not true of the Millennium.
As an example of some of the ostensible paradoxes of the Millennium is the strange question of death. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a dear friend and highly respected Messianic scholar, suggests that death in the Millennium will be for unbelievers only. Nowhere in the Bible does it speak of a resurrection of Millennial saints. This may be why the resurrection of the tribulation saints is said to complete the “first resurrection” (Rev 20:4-6).
From the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34, it would seem that there will be no Jewish unbelievers in the kingdom; all Jews born during the Millennium will accept the Messiah before their 100th year.6 Unbelief would thus be among the Gentiles only, and therefore, death would exist only among the Gentiles.7 [Jer 31:35-37 refutes “Reconstructionism” and similar heresies.] Another strange issue is the prominence of sacrifices in the Millennium. It would seem that they are memorials after the fact, just as the sacrifices in the Old Testament were memorials in advance.8
A Time to Study
As recent events have so dramatically emphasized to all of us, it is, indeed, a time to reexamine our perspectives, and to acknowledge in our personal priorities that history includes some shocking “non-linearities”: even our most cherished presumptions are subject to cataclysmic challenges! It is time to refresh our understanding from the bedrock of Scripture and to recognize the urgency of the times. I believe we are rapidly being plunged into a period of time about which the Bible says more than it does about any other period of time in history – including the time that Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and climbed the mountains of Judea!
Are you ready? Maranatha!
* * *
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
There is a figure of merit in optics regarding “resolving power.” If you look at a star with a cheap telescope, you will see a bright spot. If you look at that same star with very high-quality optics, you may discover that that ostensible spot is actually a double star. The ability of the higher quality of op-tics to resolve two things that are very close together—but separate—is a critical capability for the serious astronomer.
A similar need for precision can occur in language. Attempts to “harmonize” Scripture can often blur critical distinctions that escape all but the very diligent inquirer. An example of this is the erroneous perception that Luke 21 is the same presentation as the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 (and Mark 13).1
Another example is Matthew’s unique use of the term, “Kingdom of Heaven.” (He is the only Gospel writer that uses that term: Mark, Luke, and John use the term, “Kingdom of God.”) Most commentators presume that these terms are synonymous. However, Matthew uses “Kingdom of Heaven” 33 times, but also uses “Kingdom of God” five times, even in adjacent verses, which indicates that these are not synonymous: he is using a more denotative term.
(In both Hebrew and German, the prepositions “of” and “from” are the same word. To speak of “Otto Von Hapsburg” refers to the town he originates from, and subsequently becomes a family name.) Matthew’s unique use of the term “Kingdom of Heaven” is a genitive of source rather than a genitive of apposition, and this is one of the pivotal insights that lifts the fog of ostensible synonymy with the more inclusive term “Kingdom of God” used by the other Gospel writers.
The Unconditional Covenants
There are four unconditional covenants in the Scripture:
a) The Abrahamic Covenant2(from which all of our benefits derive, even as Gentiles);
b) The Land Covenant3(committing the land to Israel);
c) The Davidic Covenant;4 and
d) The Everlasting Covenant5(from which the New Testament gets its name).
It is provocative to realize that each of these commitments by the God of the Universe has been, and continues to be, under deliberate and specific attack. The world in general—and the U.N., the E.U., and the current pagans in the corridors of power in Washington in particular—continue to attack the Abrahamic Covenant, and the nation of Israel, and this includes anti-Semitism in all of its forms.
The Land Covenant is, specifically, the primary target of Islam. It’s not the size of Israel that is their issue; it is the very existence of Israel in “their” land.
Strangely, the Davidic Covenant has been, in effect, under attack by many of the “denominational” churches which owe their historical traditions to the Reformation. While the courageous reformers, with recommitment to the Holy Scriptures for their doctrine and beliefs, acquitted themselves marvelously in the area of soteriology (the study of salvation); they myopically failed to reexamine their eschatology (study of the last things.) Victims of the specious allegorizations of Origen and Augustine, many Christians today are oblivious to the fact that the “Millennium” (heralded in Revelation 20 and through-out the Old Testament) is simply the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
Every Christmas season we send out cards which feature quotations such as:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
The prophet Daniel lists this earthly kingdom as the fifth in a list of five:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain with-out hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
This Davidic Covenant is not only a dominant theme throughout the Old Testament:6 it was confirmed by the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation,7confirmed by Jesus at the Ascension,8 and was a pivotal feature by James at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15.9
The Message for Today
As we highlighted in last month’s article, this Kingdom perspective is the primary message to the Laodicean churches of today!10 Most Christians today when they pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,”11 have no idea what they are actually praying for! Even though there are over 2,000 references in the Bible to the return of Christ to rule on the Planet Earth!12
As the impending approach of that very literal Kingdom now looms on our near horizon, it becomes increasingly urgent for all of us to fully apprehend the impending implications for our personal walk and priorities! It is our intense prayer that these studies will prove useful and impacting as we face the challenges which lie ahead.
Our previous briefings on The Origin of Evil, and Eternal Security are part of a comprehensive series which will continue in the months to follow. This particular excerpt has been from Thy Kingdom Come.
The Kingdom, Power and Glory – Preface
We believe that most Christians who get to heaven will be seriously disappointed. If this shocks you, then this book is for you.
We have been serious students of the Bible for more than five decades of our marriage, and God has blessed us with numerous mentoring relationships with many of the great people of faith of our time. We have come to the sobering assessment, however, that the “Body of Christ” ostensibly isn’t really producing the results we should expect. Consider the following:
- The divorce rate among Christians is no better than that of the secular world.*
- Too many high profile leaders appear to stumble with disturbing regularity.
- There are too few examples of those who really “walk the talk.”
- People are weary of hearing extraordinary claims from ordinary lives.
- Contemporary Christianity, thy name is compromise!
Despite the fact that we have always presumed a “high view” of inspiration, and have generally followed a very literal hermeneutic, we have been shocked to discover how many ways we have failed to appreciate the practical day-to-day need to become “overcomers” and to pursue requisite diligence regarding our inheritance. The emphasis on what Dietrich Bonhoeffer dubbed “cheap grace” – as it is widely taught today – has disseminated a casualness toward our commitments to our Savior, enjoying the security of our “get-out-of-hell-free card” with no real awareness of the coming events and how they will involve us after the Harpazo – the Rapture – and with little concern over the likelihood of intense disappointment when we do “get to heaven”!
We hope this study will prompt a serious reexamination of the explicit promises and imperatives of our Savior, and that it might facilitate the revival among Christians that we all so desperately desire.
We know that much of what we will be sharing within these pages will be quite controversial for many, and we again appeal to our trademark disclaimer: “Receive the Word with all openness of mind, yet search the Scriptures to prove whether these things be so!” (Acts 17:11).
And let us also remember: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).
Chuck and Nan Missler
(on our 50th wedding anniversary)
The jump to hyperspace is fast approaching — are you ready to make the leap — don’t get left behind.