The Study of Last Things
Bringing Truths from Different Books of the Bible into Focus, Perspective, and Understanding.
"19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh..... 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation 19:19-21; 20:4
What is Dispensational Premillennialism?
Dispensational Premillennialism is the position that Jesus Christ will physically return to earth in power and great glory to dispose of His enemies (Zech. 14:1-4, 12-15; Isa. 63:1-6; Luke 19:12-15, 27; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 19:11-21) and judge all survivors of the Tribulation prior to establishing His spiritual, political Kingdom here on earth (Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 59:19-20; 60:1 - 62:12; 65:20-25; 66:12-13, 18-24; Zech. 14:9-11, 16-21; Amos 9:11-15), which will last a thousand years (a millennium) (Rev. 20:1-6). This return of Jesus to reign on earth is to be distinguished from His prior return to earth to retrieve His bride, the Church (the Rapture), and take her to be with Him in heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
When Jesus returns to rule, He will administer His Millennial Kingdom on this present sin-cursed earth from His Davidic throne in Jerusalem, Israel. There He will rule over repentant, believing Israel and also over all the nations of the earth with a rod of iron (Psa. 2:8-9).
Jesus' Millennial Kingdom is to be distinguished from His subsequent Eternal Kingdom (Rev. 21:1 - 22:5) in which He will reign as Co-Regent with His Father on their throne from New Jerusalem, the future, eternal home of both Israel and the Church. From there, assisted by His subjects, He will administer throughout eternity a spiritual, political kingdom not only over New Jerusalem, but also over the nations inhabiting New Earth.
In these two separate, yet linked phases of the Messiah's reign, God will eternally fulfill His promises and His everlasting covenants, specifically, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant, all made initially with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. By the grace of God, the nations ("Gentiles") of the earth also partake of the eternal benefits of these Israeli covenants as ancillary beneficiaries.
The careful reader will note several distinctives of Dispensational Premillennialism as understood by WordExplain:
1) A willingness to take statements at face value in Scripture (without denying the validity of symbolism and figures of speech). For example, when God covenanted the land of Canaan to Abraham as an everlasting possession, that is precisely what He meant (Gen. 13:14-15; 15:17-21; 17:8; 2 Chron. 20:7); when the Apostle John stated six times in seven verses that Christ's kingdom on this present earth would last one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7), that is precisely what he meant. (While there are many symbols in Revelation, I know of no number not meant to convey a literal number.)
2) The principle of Testamental parity. While both Old and New Testament reveal contrasting ways (dispensations) in which God administers his eternal kingdom, each Testament must stand on its own two feet. While the New Testament supplements and adds to revelation in the Old, it can never invalidate God's promises and predictions in the Old. Promises and predictions made in the Old Testament must be understood today in the way that the people to whom they were written would have understood them. For example, when the people of Israel read that Messiah would reign from Jerusalem over all the earth, and that nations from all over the earth would of necessity come to Jerusalem to worship the King or else they would not receive rain (Zech. 14:1-19), that understanding can never be overthrown by appealing to Christ's present spiritual reign from the Father's right hand in heaven during the Church Age.
3) A distinction between Israel and the Church. Dispensational Premillennialists do not believe that God has given up on Israel, that His program for the nation has been scuttled. The Church is not spiritual Israel, and it does not inherit the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the same way that believing Jews inherit them. Dispensational Premillennialists do not believe in "Replacement Theology" or in "Supersessionism." The Church has neither replaced Israel nor superseded it. Jesus did predict to the chief priests and Pharisees, leaders of Israel, that "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it" (Matt. 21:43-45), but nowhere did He say that condition would be permanent. In fact, elsewhere He predicted that "Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). By the time Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom on earth, "the times of the Gentiles" will have been completed. The Apostle Paul argued strongly that there has always been a believing remnant in Israel (Rom. 11:1-5), and that the transgression of Israel, never a permanent fall, has resulted in salvation coming to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous (Rom. 11:11-12). Right now "a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." In fact, God is going to graft the natural branches (Israel) back into the cultivated olive tree of God's blessing, and indeed, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:23-27)! Israel will see Jesus when He returns, mourn because of Him, repent of her sin against Him, and embrace Him as her Messiah (Zech. 12:10 - 13:1). This will be a fulfillment of God's eternal New Covenant with Israel (Isa. 59:20-21).
4) An understanding that Christ's return to earth will come in two stages. There are numerous New Testament passages which speak of Christ's return. But a close examination reveals that there are substantive differences in these passages that can best be explained only by a two-stage return. For example, in John 14:1-6, Jesus predicted He would return FOR His saints to take them with Him back to His Father's house. This can best be explained in terms of the Rapture of the Church prior to the start of the Tribulation period. By way of contrast, in Revelation 19:11 - 20:6), Jesus will return WITH His saints to destroy His enemies and rule the world. We normally refer to this as Christ's Second Coming. Between the two stages of Christ's return, God will intervene to judge the world in a series of judgments so catastrophic that Jesus called this event "a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will" (Matt. 24:21). These catastrophic judgments are described in considerable detail in Revelation 6-16.
5) An acknowledgment that, although Jesus is presently enthroned as Messiah in heaven, His present status leaves unfulfilled many OT prophecies regarding His future reign as Messiah upon this present earth as well as upon the future New Earth. Jesus was anointed by God at His baptism to be prophet, priest, and king.
Jesus exercised His role as prophet in a significant way during His ministry here on earth. Upon His ascent to the Father's right hand, Jesus' apostles served as His prophets until their death. There have been no new prophecies added to Scripture since the writing of the Book of Revelation in A.D. 96. But Jesus will again exercise that role of prophet as Law-giver and Law-explainer from His throne in Jerusalem during His Millennial reign (Isa. 2:1-3). I cannot imagine that Jesus will not reveal new truth as prophet during His Millennial Kingdom. And I cannot imagine that some, at least, of His revelation will not be committed to writing in an ever-expanding canon of Scripture. And I cannot imagine that Jesus will not continue to reveal infinite new truths about the Father throughout eternity in New Jerusalem.
Jesus served as priest during His ministry in attempting to mediate a restored relationship between Israel and God; He served as priest when He offered Himself up as the only sufficient sacrifice for sin; He presently serves as priest at the Father's right hand, interceding on our behalf (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25); He will yet oversee a priestly ministry from His throne in the Millennial temple in Jerusalem during His Kingdom (Ezek. 40:1-46:24). There will be no need of a temple in New Jerusalem, for we shall see Jesus and the Father face to face (Rev. 22:3-5). Yet, since Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), He will always serve as priest, bringing men ever deeper in their knowledge of and fellowship with God even throughout eternity in New Jerusalem.
Jesus offered Himself as King to Israel, but the nation rejected Him and had Him crucified. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, and He is presently King of a spiritual kingdom, the Kingdom of light (Col. 1:13). But He is not yet King of a political kingdom on earth. He presently is seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting Yahweh's authorization for Him to return to earth and set up His spiritual-political kingdom on earth (Psalm 2:8-9; 110:1-7; Dan. 7:13-14) so that He can fulfill the covenant God swore to David (2 Sam. 7:16-17; Psa. 89:3, 28, 34) and the promise Gabriel conveyed to Mary (Luke 1:32-33). This is precisely what Jesus meant in His parable about the ten slaves (Luke 19:11-27). Jesus told this parable because His disciples "supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately." To dissuade them from their incorrect assumption about the timing of His kingdom, Jesus likened Himself to "a nobleman" (Himself) who went to a "distant country" (heaven) "to receive a kingdom for himself" (the Messianic Kingdom) "and then return" (to earth to rule in that Kingdom) (Luke 19:11-12). Among other things, that is what Jesus is doing right now. He is waiting in heaven to be granted His kingdom here upon earth and then return to rule over Israel and the world. God's original mandate to man was to rule (be king over) the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Man has never successfully fulfilled that assignment. The Messiah was meant to rule on earth, where David ruled, and to fulfill in a benevolent rule the task God had assigned to Adam. Jesus will not be fully seated on David's throne until He sits where David sat, in Jerusalem, Israel. His final fulfillment of God's covenant with David will be His enthronement alongside His Father in New Jerusalem in association with New Earth, at the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom (Rev. 22:3). That will be done in a New Universe utterly devoid of any sin, sinners, death, or decay - a universe of unmitigated righteousness.
6) An understanding that the term Messiah fundamentally necessitates a reign upon earth over the nation of Israel, not merely a spiritualized rule in absentia up in heaven. God created man to live upon and master (rule) the earth (not heaven) (Gen. 1:26-28). God customarily came down out of heaven to earth to have fellowship with man in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). As man stumbled along in human history, he pretty well ruined, in his independence from and rebellion against God, any prospect of effectively ruling the earth. Yet God continued to reach down to man on earth to have fellowship with him. He spoke personally with Abraham, and communed with Jacob in a dream. The Angel of the LORD infrequently appeared to selected individuals. God was willing to dwell in a tent as Israel's invisible King for many years. When Israel rejected the ministry of the prophet Samuel through his sons in favor of a visible, human king, God consented, warning them of the threats to their personal freedom that accompanied a human king. Samuel anointed first Saul, then David, the latter a man after God's own heart, to be human king. When David, a man after God's own heart, wished to build God a permanent house, God demurred. His son would do that. But in appreciation God revealed to David that He would build David a house, meaning a dynasty. Then He promised David the following: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever" (2 Sam. 7:16). David was king upon earth in Jerusalem. He would have understand that God was promising him an eternal dynasty to rule on earth in Jerusalem. David understood that the term "Anointed One" had a specific reference to serving as God's anointed King. Centuries later, through the angel Gabriel, God revealed to Mary that her son, Jesus, was to be that Israeli King (Luke 1:26-33). Gabriel used the identical terms that God had used with David centuries earlier: "The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." A few months later, Jesus was born. The whole point of the incarnation was to bring God in human form down to earth to become that promised Messiah of Israel. Both David and Mary would have understood those promises to mean that their offspring would reign on earth in Jerusalem over the nation of Israel. Of course, in the providence of God, Jesus would become Messiah not only of Israel, but of all mankind. The word "Messiah" must include an earthly focus in the city of Jerusalem, Zion, the city of David, God's favorite city. If God cannot be trusted to keep His promises to David and to Mary, citizens of Israel, how can He be trusted to keep His promises of eternal life to us non-Israeli Gentiles. The former is foundational to the latter. Either God can be trusted fully, or He cannot be trusted at all. We believe that God, who cannot lie, will both keep His promises to Hebrews Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Mary, and that He will also keep His promises of eternal salvation to all of us Gentiles who trust in HIs Son. Being Messiah has to do ultimately with Jesus' ruling upon earth, not merely ruling up in heaven. After all, both God and Christ will ultimately leave heaven to administer their eternal rule from New Jerusalem in connection with New Earth!
7) An understanding that ruling as King has, historically, always included the consent of the governed. Faith has always been the necessary coin for a relationship with God (Gen. 15:5-6; Heb. 11:6). When Saul was anointed as king of Israel and his anointing was confirmed by lot, the people of Israel accepted his rule. "So all the people shouted and said, 'Long live the king!'" (1 Sam. 10:24). After God had rejected Saul as His anointed, Samuel was instructed by God to anoint David as king. Samuel did so and the Holy Spirit came mightily upon David from that day forward. God had anointed David to be king, but the people had not yet done so (1 Sam. 16:1-13). So David did not begin his rule immediately, and then only in steps. He was compelled to wait for the consent of the governed. After Saul's death, the men of Judah first anointed David as king over Judah (2 Sam. 2:1-4). Finally, all the tribes of Israel came to David and requested Him to be their king. The elders of Israel came to David at Hebron. David made a covenant with them, and "then they anointed David king over Israel" (2 Sam. 5:1-5). At Jesus' baptism, God the Father anointed Jesus with His Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus from that day forward. God had anointed Jesus as King of Israel, but the people had not yet. There was as yet no consent of the governed. During the next three years, Jesus announced the good news of the kingdom. Both John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2) and Jesus (Matt. 4:17) urged the people, in my literal translation: "Repent! - Has drawn near the kingdom of the heavens." By "drawn near", I believe Jesus meant that the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near both chronologically and spatially in the person of the King, Himself. The whole process was abortive for the bulk of the Israeli citizens. A relatively few number personally gave consent to Jesus as their King, their Messiah. But the nation as a whole did not. In fact the leaders had Jesus crucified as an imposter and a blasphemer. Jesus knew, of course, that this would happen. In the meantime He began to prepare His followers for what could be termed the "mystery" form of the Kingdom - the nature of His Kingdom between His first Advent and His Second. He informed His followers about this form of the kingdom in the parables of the kingdom recorded in Matthew 13:1-52. (See Analysis of Matthew, pp. 9-11 for an explanation of what the inter-advent kingdom would be like.) We call this inter-advent form of the Kingdom the Church Age. All who believe in Jesus embrace Jesus as their Christ, their Messiah, their King (John 11:25-27). They enter into His Kingdom as willing subjects through faith in Him. They pass from the realm of death into the realm of life (John 5:24) and become citizens of the Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:13). But Israel has not given Jesus consent to be her King. Nor have the nations of the earth, who consider His rule and that of God to be a restrictive, undesirable rule - chains and fetters to bind them and enslave them. And so they conspire against Jesus and God to abort the rule of God's Messiah (Psalm 2:1-3). That is where mankind stands today. But God is not taken aback. He laughs at and mocks the nations' useless rebellion (Psalm 2:4). Then He will speak to them in His fury and He will terrify them in His anger. The day is coming when God will install His Anointed as King of Israel and King of the world on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, Israel anyway (Psalm 2:5-6)! And there will be nothing that the American President or the European Union or the Palestinians or the United Nations General Assembly or anti-Zionist Jews can do to stop Him! In the process of His return to earth, King Jesus will destroy all those who rebel against Him. He will break the rebelling nations with a rod of iron and "shatter them like earthenware" (Psalm 2:8-9). Those who survive this purging will be those who have embraced Jesus as their Messiah (Psalm 2:10-12), both from the nation of Israel and from the nations of the earth. Only those who have embraced Jesus as Messiah will be left alive to inherit the earth (Matt. 5:1-10). I believe that at this time, with tears streaming down their faces, repentant Jewish leaders will humbly approach King Jesus in Jerusalem and anoint Him to be the Jewish King. At long last, Jesus will have the consent of the governed, both of redeemed Jews and of redeemed Gentiles. And King Jesus will begin His reign for a thousand years of peace and world-wide prosperity unparalleled in human history! He will have the consent of the governed!
Today, Israel does not acknowledge Jesus as her King. How can it be said accurately that Jesus is presently reigning over Israel as her Messiah? Today Jesus does not have the consent of the nations of the earth to govern them. They are in open defiance against Jesus. One day they will embrace a false Messiah (Revelation 13:1-18). How can Jesus be said to have established His kingdom over the nations of the earth when He is seated in heaven and they on the earth are in rebellion?
In conclusion, I ask you the reader, have you given Jesus your consent for Him to be your King? You had better do so quickly! You had better worship God with reverence and rejoice with trembling as you give homage to Jesus His Son. Otherwise you will meet Him in His angry judgment and you will perish. "How blessed are all who take refuge in Him" (Psalm 2:10-12)!
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