REFLECTIONS ON THE RESPONSE TO THE BOOK “FUTURE ISRAEL” By Barry E. Horner

(As someone who is both an Augustinian and a Premillennialist in the ilk of S. Lewis Johnson, John Hannah, John MacArthur, Steven Lawson, Erwin Lutzer, John Feinberg, Robert Saucy, James Montgomery Boice, Donald Grey Barnhouse, C.I. Scofield, J.N. Darby, Thomas Ice, Eric Raymond, and several others – I highly enjoyed and unflinchingly endorse Barry Horner’s book “Future Israel” and his response to it below…I certainly hope that those of a Pelagian persuasion will continue to move into the Augustinian camp in their soteriology, and those in the replacement theology camp will move into the pre-millennial realm in their eschatology – May Barry Horner’s Tribe increase! – DPC)

I. Introduction

To begin with, let me supply some brief background material concerning myself. Over the years as a pastor, my area of specialty has been that of John Bunyan and his setting in the turbulent seventeenth century (Refer to www.bunyanministries.org). I am an Australian, Sovereign Grace in doctrine, and premillennial in my eschatology. This is important since a large part of those with Reformed and Sovereign Grace convictions, with whom I am well acquainted, are quite strenuously amillennial. As a result they have tended to be a- Judaic or anti-Judaic in their eschatology, which is merely indifferent or militantly opposed to the Jews and modern Israel. Specifically I am premillennial, sympathetic with dispensationalism, and restorationist regarding the divine destiny of the Jews and Israel, that is concerning their eschatological return to the land as a nation. Then will follow their climactic conversion to Jesus as their Messiah at His return, when “they will look upon Him whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10). At the same time, Christ’s church having been raptured and gathered together, there will follow His messianic, millennial reign from Jerusalem over a renewed earth. At that time Israel will be gloriously elevated from its humiliation. Israel does indeed have a glorious future (Refer to www.futureisraelministries.org)

II. The challenge of two questions concerning Israel during the church age.

Over ten years ago, while a pastor in North Brunswick, New Jersey, and having access to the fine library of Princeton Theological Seminary, two questions challenged me in expounding through Ezekiel, Hosea, Zechariah, and Romans.

A. First, does God have a covenantal interest in the unbelieving Jewish people today, along with the nation and the land, which is as distinct from the believing Jewish remnant. The answer, which I now believe to be beyond serious challenge, came with a strong impression in my study of Romans 11, but especially v. 28. “From the standpoint of the gospel they [the unbelieving Jews] are enemies for your [the Gentiles’] sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice [the election, τν κλογν, tēn ekloēn – Most commentators believe that here “the election,” especially in the light of the logic of vs. 26-28, is concerned with the elect nation, according to the sovereign calling and promise of God. Though Lenski, true to his amillennialism, believes that here Paul writes about the remnant of v. 5] they [unbelieving Jews] are beloved for the sake of the fathers.” Unbelieving Jews today remain God’s “beloved enemies.” For a sample of this contemporary unbelief, consider Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who I greatly respect and certainly esteem way beyond the preceding Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. Nevertheless he writes in his enlightening volume, A Durable Peace: Israel and its Place among the Nations:

The final guarantor of the viability of a small nation in such times of turbulence is its capacity to direct its own destiny, something that has eluded the Jewish people during its long centuries of exile. Restoring that capacity is the central task of the Jewish people today (Benjamin Netanyahu, A Durable Peace, p. xxiii).

However, in spite of all of the Jews’ carnality today, they remain God’s elect people. And this being the case, for the Christian they should also be “beloved,” even if they remain militantly opposed to Jesus as the Christ.

B. The second question that challenged me was how Christianity in general, over the centuries, had treated the Jewish people. The answer came to me as if being hit over the head with a mallet of truth. Various authors, whether liberal, conservative evangelical, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Reform or Orthodox Jewish, even secular, came up with the same basic assessment. The church, especially after the Bar Cochbar rebellion of 135-136 AD and the influence of Marcionism, then the united patristic voice from Justin onward, but especially the authoritative formulation of Augustine, led to centuries of humiliation toward the Jew, and right on through the Reformation up to today. So having read and heard of many amillennialists who boasted in their Augustinian eschatology, it suddenly became shamefully clear that they had nothing to boast in. Indeed, their trumpeted belief in replacement theology and supercessionism, via centuries of vaunted proclamation that the church is the new Israel, was something that they ought to weep about! Hence, a vital principle came as a result, and it is this. A good eschatology cannot produce unethical fruit of the magnitude that has come about by means of replacement theology. This blot upon Christianity in general is the result of bad eschatology that has made the Jews fear, and not be jealous, as Paul exhorts should be the case. It is at this point that historic amillennialism is proven to be fundamentally flawed.

Some have attempted to avoid the painful truth of history in this regard by declaring that they would only discuss the issues, with regard to the Jews, by considering the exegesis of Scripture. Yes, we regard what God means by what He says as of vital, fundamental importance. However church history is the response, the lifestyle of Christianity that is derived from biblical truth, and cannot be disregarded, especially in terms of broad movements. We sense that some, in knowing the truth, would prefer to avoid it. We also believe that the right embrace of biblical truth ought consistently to result in biblical virtue. However ungodliness evident in a professing Christian is recognized as hypocrisy. Orthodoxy cannot be divorced from orthopraxy. Hence centuries of church history up to today, the disgraceful record of it all, should cause us to blush in reflecting upon an eschatology that is so terribly stained and so inconsistent with practical righteousness, especially as Paul exhorts us in Romans 11.

III. The publication of Future Israel, October, 2007.

Initially Future Israel was accepted for publication by Paternoster Press in England.

However I became unhappy about the editing process and asked for a release from the contract. Among other things, an editor suggested that one comment be taken out because Colin Chapman, a leading supercessionist who lived nearby, would not like it. However I am particularly grateful to David Brickner of Jews for Jesus who, at this stage, suggested approaching Broadman & Holman. How grateful I am for this new arrangement that worked out so well. They proved to be in sympathy with the basic thesis. Certainly the commendation of John MacArthur was helpful, though there was no collusion. He was preaching on this very matter while the manuscript was being edited. Then, through a friend, we had mutually sympathetic communication.

Certain other thrusts within Future Israel worth mentioning.

A. The importance of a Judeo-centric eschatology. The early church was Jewish. According to Eusebius, the first fifteen bishops at Jerusalem up to 135 AD were Jewish, and surely restorationist in their eschatology. They all proclaimed the gospel from Jewish Scriptures concerning a Jewish Savior, who will return while still being Jewish. As an example refer to Matthew 5:5 – Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth [τν γν, ten gen],” which should more likely read, “the land.” Of course, by way of application, “the earth” is appropriate. A helpful booklet would be David Stern’s Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. Also consider the prophetic revelation of the reversal of roles when the humiliation of the Jewish people will be followed by their exaltation after their conversion and participation in the millennium (Isa. 60:14; Zech. 8:22-23; 14:1). It seems that the Gentile Christian ought to joyfully accept this, but in fact many may not like this prospect.

B. The importance of a Judeo-centric hermeneutic. Over the centuries, a Gentile- focused hermeneutic has predominated within Christendom. However a Judeo- centric hermeneutic is the answer to the problem that we Gentiles have had when attempting to understand, disparate in meaning, quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament (e.g. Matt. 2:14-15; cf. Hos. 11:1). This difficulty caused George Eldon Ladd to suggest the need of “re-interpretation” of Old Testament prophetic passages by means of a Christo-centric hermeneutic. However the Hebrew writer of the New Testament can quote the Old Testament, giving it an applicatory, nuanced shade of meaning, as with Midrash, without at all nullifying the literal meaning of the original Old Testament passage (David Stern, Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel, pp. 31-33). This principle will also help in our understanding of such passages as Acts 2:16-21, cf. Joel 2:28-32 in context, and John 19:37, cf. Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10 in context.

C. The importance of the continuity of replacement theology before and after the Reformation. Modern replacement theology is not a recent phenomenon (Refer to R.E. Deprose. Israel and the Church. Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media, 2000; Michael J. Vlach, The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supercessionism. Ph.D. diss., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004). It goes back as far as the second century, especially after Gentile bishops took the ascendency after 135-136 AD, the result being development of Gentile dominance that ignored the exhortations of Paul in Romans 11. So the Reformation, in general, perpetuated replacement theology according to the authoritative legacy of Augustine. Thus Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, John Calvin, Francis Turretin, Patrick Fairbairn, Herman Bavinck, and Geerhardus Vos, to name but a few of this eschatological lineage, exercised tremendous influence over Protestantism. They perpetuated the eschatology of Augustine, and thus at best the indifference of a-Semitism.

D. The importance of not confusing the bilateral Mosaic covenant with the unilateral Abrahamic covenant. It is astonishing to find that leading scholars promoting replacement theology are so confused at this point. An example would be from W. D. Davies, Emeritus Professor, Duke University, who is widely quoted by scholars in support of Replacement Theology.

In this way [of universalizing in Christ the covenant made with Abraham], “the territory” promised was transformed into and fulfilled by the life “in Christ.” All this is not made explicit, because Paul did not directly apply himself to the question of the land, but it is implied. In the Christological logic of Paul, the land, like the Law, particular and provisional, had become irrelevant (W.D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land, p. 179).

The unilateral nature of the Abrahamic covenant, in which the land is such an intrinsic component, is simply ignored or incorporated within the bilateral Mosaic covenant. Yes, the Jew and the Gentile only have hope of salvation, through Jesus Christ since He is the promised seed of Abraham, which promise is one of pure sovereign grace. Yet this same promise upholds the distinction between Jew and Gentile within the one people of God (Romans 11).

E. The importance of diversity within unity. It is astonishing that while there is diversity within the unity of the Godhead, diversity with the twelve tribes of Israel within one nation, diversity according to spiritual gifts within the one body of Christ, yet Augustinianism is so adamant that there cannot be diversity with Israel and the church distinctively comprising the one people of God. Scripture knows nothing of a future clone-like homogeneity, and especially within the economy of the Millennium. There, Moses and David and Elijah and Paul will still be their own individual selves. This is one of the great strengths of Premillennial and Dispensational eschatology.

F. The importance of Romans 11. It is written by a highly educated Messianic Jew.

1. Paul declares himself to be “an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin,” v. 1. He really means it, and not with some tongue in cheek attitude. He also confirms it, again using the present tense, in Acts 21:39; 22:3. As a Benjamite he asserts both demographic and territorial association. Consequently he upholds Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and territory.

2. The remnant according to God’s gracious choice is Israel’s guarantee of a future, v. 5. But God is not ultimately satisfied with a remnant, as the climactic development indicates in vs. 12, and v. 15 which surely alludes to Ezekiel 37. So v. 26 is also climactic. It is not, “And so/in this manner Israel is being saved,” through the accumulation of relatively small additions to the remnant over the centuries; rather it is, “And so/in this manner all Israel will be saved [future tense of σζω, sozo], in a consummate sense.” It is this climactic grandeur of the saving power of the gospel, especially the final triumph of mercy toward Israel, that so excites Paul. However the Augustinian suppresses this because of centuries of a misplaced eschatology.

3. The Christian church is built upon the Jewish remnant. This is something to ponder in the light of the arrogance of the mainly Gentile church over the centuries. Paul seems to suggest this very point in v. 18. The New Covenant was anticipated in the upper room before Jewish disciples (Luke 22:19-20). Then it was cut, according to Jeremiah 31:27, before “the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” that is a large number of Jews gathered in Jerusalem. So the initial, believing remnant branches that sprouted from the cultivated olive tree were wholly Jewish. The Gentiles were later grafted in according to pure grace. For this reason they have no reason for “conceit,” v. 20.

4. So Paul is primarily addressing Gentile Christians who need exhortation about a bad attitude toward the Jews. Rather they ought to make them jealous, vs. 11, 14. Yet over the centuries the Christian church has pompously ignored this exhortation while claiming to be the new spiritual Israel. Paul’s stern warning in vs. 17-20, concerning arrogance, has been largely ignored. Perhaps during the last of the last days a gentle and sympathetic spirit will come to the fore from repentant Gentiles; if it does, evangelistic outreach toward the Jewish people is certain to accelerate and flourish.

5. The significance of v. 28 that indicates God’s covenantal interest in unbelieving national Israel, and its related connection with v. 26. Here is clinching proof that God continues to have unfailing interest in unbelieving Israel today that is comprised of His “beloved enemies.” Further, working back from v. 28 to v. 27, then v. 27 to v. 26, it becomes virtually incontestable that “all Israel” refers to the eschatological saving of the nation of Israel (Matt Weymeyer has well exegeted this point in, “The Dual Status of Israel in Romans 11:28,” The Master’s Seminary Journal. Spring 2005, pp. 57-71). And all of this is because of “the sake of the fathers,” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which promises are irrevocable, v. 29.

6. The significance of vs. 30-32 concerning the mercy of God being poured out upon Gentile and Jew. There is surely Gentile arrogance in the suggestion that Israel has lost its covenant relationship with God on account of disobedience concerning the old Mosaic covenant, while the New Testament church boasts in the sovereignty of grace through faith alone. But here: “God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all,” v. 32. The “these” of v. 31 cannot refer merely to the remnant, but to the unbelieving nation.

IV. Responses:

A. The response to Future Israel has been overwhelmingly favorable. None of those who have responded unfavorably have attempted to deal with the essential arguments. In England, Steven Sizer, a rabid supercessionist, reluctantly agreed in March of this year to provide a review for Evangelicals Now. He wrote: “O dear. I really don’t want to have to review this unpleasant little book but those nice people at Evangelicals Now have asked me to, so I will, eventually” (Refer to the Stephen Sizer web site: http://www.stephensizer.com/2009/03/christian-zionism-achronological-and-annotated-bibliography/Referenced, November, 2009). As of today, no review has been forthcoming.

B. There have been many blog responses such as from Dr. Sam Waldron, Professor of Systematic Theology at Midwest Center for Theological Studies. Staunchly Reformed Baptist and amillennial, he commented: “I had to pray for grace and patience not to fire it across the room. . . . [I] had over three weeks [during a trip overseas] to calm down and regain my sanctification.” A month later, because I had upheld God’s distinctive, contemporary covenantal regard for unbelieving national Israel, and at the same time am critical of Gentile bias, therefore I was said to be guilty of “a kind of reverse racism. . . .This kind of language seems to be somewhat ‘racist’ in its own way. It conveys prejudice against Gentiles. It is like Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s rantings against ‘White America’ which have been all over the news lately (Refer to the Mid-Western Center for Theological Studies web site. http://www.mctsowensboro.org/- blog/?-p=307 Not currently accessible). Is Paul guilty of “reverse racism” in Romans 1:16?

C. However what a delight it was to receive an email from Jeroen Bol, the Netherlands (Holland). He has bought fifty copies of Future Israel and distributed them to Christian leaders in Europe. More recently he has described some of the positive effects of this outreach, specifically some who have been persuaded to embrace a Judeo-centric eschatology.

V. Reflections.

A. The importance of Judeo-centric ministry. In Horatius Bonar’s significant book, Prophetical Landmarks, he makes the vital introductory comment:

The prophecies concerning Israel are the key to all the rest. True principles of interpretation, in regard to them, will aid us in disentangling and illustrating all prophecy together. False principles as to them will most thoroughly perplex and over cloud the whole Word of God (Horatius Bonar, Prophetical Landmarks: Concerning Christ’s Premillennial Advent, p. 228. Also go to http://www.futureisraelministries.org/horatius_bonar.html.).

By way of illustration, only a month ago I conducted a seminar on the issues raised by Future Israel at Twin Cities Bible Church, St. Paul. A week before, my daughter in San Jose told me of a forthcoming gathering at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, titled An Evening of Eschatology. Dr. John Piper chaired the meeting which included three other participants. They were, Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville), premillennial, Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), amillennial, and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho), postmillennial. Having arrived at St. Paul, the pastor told me that he attended the meeting. He concluded, that to be quite frank, those who attended would probably have left more confused upon leaving than when they first arrived. However there appears to be a reason for this. I watched the whole two hour session on the internet and was surprised to note that in all of it, there was not so much as one mention of Israel or the Jews, whether with regard to Scripture, history or the present. Horatius Bonar was right! Israel is central to eschatology.

B. The importance of Judeo-centric godliness. While being critical of the ethics of amillennial Augustinianism, we also need to consider the ethics of restorationist premillennialism and dispensationalism. We are by no means blameless, even if more eschatologically biblical. So Peter exhorts us: “Since all these things [with regard to the coming day of the Lord] are to be destroyed [dissolved] in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (II Pet. 3:11). It is godly ethics emanating from our eschatology, not prophetic glibness and sensationalism, which pleases God. Certainly it is more likely to make our Jewish friends and enemies both jealous and curious.

C. The importance of Judeo-centric evangelism. I have often heard the suggestion: “Let us put aside our eschatological differences and agree to focus on the evangelization of the Jews.” It may sound a good proposal, but how can the Augustinian honestly face it? Will he tell the Jew that after believing in the Lord Jesus as his Messiah, then he will be absorbed into the Christian church and lose all of his Jewish identity? Surely in Paul declaring that he remained an Israelite, he never disowned Jewish ethnicity, nationality and territory in all of his outreach to the Jews. Rather he proclaimed to them “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). Could the Augustinian evangelize in Israel and tell the Jew that in reality, which is in the sight of God, the land is now passé, an anachronism? It takes a Judeo-centric eschatology to reach out to the Jews and at least gain their attention.

Hence there is the need for opposing replacement theology on account of the cause of Jewish evangelism; it saps the life out of it. The modern awakening of evangelism, especially directed toward the Jewish people, commenced toward the end of the nineteenth century. Ever since, up to the present time, this flourishing movement has had premillennial, dispensational, restorationist underpinning. I also believe that Christian restorationists made a significant contribution toward the formation of the modern state of Israel. By and large, the Augustinians opposed it. Where is there one missionary agency today, based upon Augustinian eschatology, which thrives in its distinctive outreach toward the modern nation of Israel and the Diaspora? Why is this so? Because the Augustinian gospel results in Jewish converts losing their Jewish identity while the Gentiles retain their distinctiveness. Believe me, I say this while being a happy and contented Gentile.

Hence the answer for today is the proclamation of the gospel, to both Jew and Gentile, in its full Jewish context. The reason is that, “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). I believe that God will especially be pleased to honor this priority.

About the Author: Dr. Barry Horner, an Australian, is a graduate of George Fox College and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Oregon. His Doctor of Ministry degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in California focused on the biblical/theological content of The Pilgrim’s Progress as well as its validity as an appropriate means for the communication of the Word of God. Ordained in Melbourne in 1976, Barry has pastored churches in Australia and the United States. The reflections above are from his excellent book in the New American Commentary Studies in Bible and Theology entitled: Future Israel. B&H Group, 2007. The article above is adapted from http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Horner-ReflectionsonRespons.pdf

10 Events Concerning the DAY OF THE LORD

The “Day of the LORD” in Summary:

The Day of the LORD is that period of time when God will forthrightly deal with mankind in blessing and judgment. It will begin with the rapture of the Church and will conclude with the restoration of the new Heaven and Earth. The sequence of events appears to be:

(1)  The Rapture of the Church Preceding the Day of the LORD:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

(2)  The Fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th Week (the latter half of which is the great tribulation):

And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:14).

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be (Matthew 24:21).

(3)  The Return of Jesus to Establish the Millennial Kingdom:

 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:29-30).

(4)  The Destruction of the Beast, False Prophet, and their Armies:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh (Revelation 19:11-21).

(5)  The Judgment of Those Who Have Rejected Christ and His Disciples; The Jewish People; and of Israel:

Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one (Zechariah 14:1-9).

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).

I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord God. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 20:34-38).

(6)  The Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth:

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).

(7) The Satanic Revolt and its Judgment:

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:7-10).

(8) The Resurrection and Final Judgment of the Wicked:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then 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 (Revelation 20:11-15).

(9) The Destruction of the Present Earth and Heaven by Fire Preparatory for the Future Day of the Lord:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn (2 Peter 3:10-12).

(10) The Creation of the New Heavens and Earth:

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress (Isaiah 65:17-19).

For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain (Isaiah 66:22).

But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more (Revelation 21:1).

Are You Reformed and a Dispensationalist? Yes!

(I just ran across this brief article by Erik Raymond in a search on “Calvinism and Dispensationalism” – since I sometimes feel like I’m the only human being on the planet that adheres to both of these teachings in my theology – but in reality the few words below explain exactly what I believe and I think a few other men you may have heard of as well – John MacArthur, James Montgomery Boice, Erwin Lutzer, Steve Lawson, Thomas Ice, John Hannah, Robert Saucy, and S. Lewis Johnson – to name a few [DPC])

Labels are often difficult. It is usually better to define terms before endorsing or rejecting them.

By saying I am a dispensationalist I mean the following:

(1) I see a distinction between the church and the nation of Israel

(2) I see a future for the nation of Israel

(3) I employ a consistent literal historical-grammatical approach to Bible interpretation

(4) The major theme in the Scriptures is the glory of God

Also, by saying I am a dispensationalist I also believe the following:

(1) I do not see multiple ways of salvation in the Bible, sinners are saved by grace through faith (whether Paul or Abraham, cf. Rom. 4.1-5)

(2) I do not believe that some parts of the New Testament are not for us today (i.e. the Sermon on the Mount)

(3) I do not believe that Jesus may be our Savior without being our Lord

Some people think it is odd that we could be both Reformed and Dispensational. I like to remind folks that it is the same approach to the Bible that produces both for me. I am not Reformed because Calvin was Reformed and I am not Dispensational because Ryrie is. I think the Bible teaches Reformed soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and Dispensational eschatology (doctrine of things to come).

Amen Erik – I couldn’t agree more! [DPC]

About the Author: Erik Raymond has been writing at Ordinary Pastor since 2006. He lives in Omaha with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/erikraymond. This brief article was adapted from his website http://www.ordinarypastor.com on February 16, 2007.

What Will Jerusalem Be Like in the Future?

“The Glorious Temple” – Back To The Future – April 28, 573 B.C.

 By Mike and Sharon Rusten

Ezekiel was a priest and prophet who had been taken into captivity in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon in 597 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar. In Babylon Ezekiel had seen a vision in which the glory of God departed from the temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed (Ezekiel 10:1-22). Then in 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in and took most of the remaining residents captive to Babylon.

Ezekiel encouraged his fellow exiles with six messages proclaiming the hope of their restoration to Israel (33:21-39:29). Some of these prophecies looked beyond their return from Babylon to their return from exile throughout the world before the final consummation of history. For example, God says through Ezekiel: “I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your faith will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command” (36:24-27).

The prophet Zechariah gives more details about this future time when God will put his Spirit in the Jewish people. The Lord says through him, “I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son” (Zechariah 12:10). The book of Revelation quotes this verse from Zechariah and applies it to Jesus’ second coming: “Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will weep because of him” (Revelation 1:7). In other words, when Jesus returns, the Jews living on earth at that time will literally “look on [Jesus] whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son.” This is when God gives them his Holy Spirit and they are converted, receiving “a new obedient heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). The apostle Paul writes: “So all Israel will be saved. Do you remember what the prophets said about this? A Deliverer will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel from all ungodliness. And then I will keep my covenant with them and take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).

Since King Solomon’s time when the Jewish people were under God’s blessing, they had a Temple in Jerusalem in which to worship. This will again be true in the millennial age following the second coming of Christ.

Then on April 28, 573 B.C., God took Ezekiel from Babylon back to Jerusalem by means of a vision in which he showed him the final glorious temple that is to come. More important, just as Ezekiel had had a vision of God’s glory leaving the temple in his day, now he sees the glory of the Lord returning to the future temple: “Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east…And the glory of the Lord came into the Temple through the east gate-way…And the glory of the Lord filled the Temple…And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne’” (Ezekiel 43:2-7).

Reflection

Does it surprise you that Israel will be converted to Christ in the future and will again have a temple in Jerusalem filled with the glory of the Lord?

It is easy to accept Bible prophecies that have already been fulfilled and ignore those that are still in the future. But these future prophecies will be fulfilled just as surely as the earlier ones.

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). They have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 28th entry in their fascinating book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

“6 Distinctions Between Israel and the Church” By Floyd H. Barackman

*A Contrast Between the Church and Israel

Covenant theology considers the Church to be the seed of Abraham under the new covenant. Many subscribers of this theology hold that “all prophecies concerning Israel not yet fulfilled and still to be fulfilled must be fulfilled in her (the Church), leaving nothing at all of either promise or prophecy for those who are merely descendants of Abraham after the flesh” (Albert Pieters, The Seed of Abraham, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950, 121). While the apostle Paul identified gospel believers as “the children of Abraham” and “his seed” (Gal. 3:6-7, 29), this does not necessarily mean that saved Gentiles are the patriarch’s actual posterity. Whether Jews or Gentiles, the apostles characterized save people, who are people of the faith (c.p. Eph. 1:1), as beginning to a class of persons with Abraham as their exemplar (Gal. 3:9). In this case, to be a child of someone is to be like him in some way (cp. Matt. 5:45). Consider the following [six] contrasts between the Church and Israel:

(1) Their Constituencies

The Church consists of all saved people from the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ return to heaven until His return to receive her to Himself (Acts 2; 1 Thess. 4:13-17).

Historically, Israel has consisted of the descendents of Jacob. In the future, the prophetic, true Israel will consist of the elect remnant of these descendants, who will be saved at Jesus’ second coming to earth (Rom. 9; Deut. 30:1-10; Ezek. 36:16-38).

(2) Their Divine Covenant Relationships

The Church is related to God by the new birth (John 1:12-13), based on the new covenant that Jesus mediated by His atoning death (Heb. 8:6; 12:24; 1 Cor. 11:25).

Israel was related to God by the Mosaic covenant (Exod. 19:5), which they broke (Jer. 31:32) by their idolatry (Jer. 3; Hos. 2:1-5; 4:12-13). The elect remnant of Israel will be restored to God, as promised by the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-40; Ezek. 36:21-38).

(3) Their Nuptial Relationships

Being espoused to Jesus (2 Cor. 11:2), all who compose the Church corporately constitute His bride (Eph. 5:23-32).

Having been God’s wife (Jer. 3:14), Israel will be restored to this relationship in the coming earthly kingdom (Isa. 54:1-8; Hos. 2:6-7, 14-23)

(4) Their Inheritances

That of the Church is Jesus and His universal wealth (Eph. 1:3, 11; Rom. 8:17; Heb. 1:2).

That of Israel is the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 15:18; 35:12; Deut. 30:5; Jer. 16:14-15) and its rejuvenation (Isa. 35).

 (5) Their Histories

The Church could not have existed in OT times because of the time and nature of her formation. Her formation did not begin until after Jesus’ return to heaven (Matt. 16:18; Acts 1:5; 2; 11:15). She is being formed by the Holy Spirit’s baptism, a Church Age work (Acts 1:5; 1 Cor. 12:13, 27; Eph. 1:22-23) and is built upon the teachings of the Lord’s apostles and the NT prophets, now recorded in the New Testament, with Jesus as her chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).

Israel was a nation from their departure out of Egypt and their receiving the Mosaic Law, c. 1491 B.C. (Exod. 19:1-6) until their final dispersion by the Romans in A.D. 70. She was revived as a nation on May 14, 1948. The divinely elected remnant of her people will be saved at Jesus’ second coming to earth and will continue forever (Jer. 31:36; Amos 9:11-15; Ezek. 37:19-28). See Romans 11:1-6, 11-12, 15-17, 26-27, 30-31 (Note that “All Israel” v. 26, is a synecdoche – a figure of association – for the elect remnant of Israel).

 (6) Their Places in Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom

The Church is presently a part of our Lord’s nonpolitical, spiritual kingdom (Col. 1:13). As His wife, she will also have a nonnational place in His earthly, millennial kingdom, with Church members and other saved people ruling with Him (Rev. 2:26-27).

Israel will be the foremost nation in or Lord’s earthly, millennial kingdom (Ps. 47; Isa. 55:5; chap. 60; Zech 8:23; Mal. 3:12). Jerusalem will be the capital of Jesus’ world government (Isa. 24:23; Zech. 14:16-17; Matt. 5:35).

*Floyd H. Barackman (March 20, 1923- September 11, 2007) was Instructor of Systematic Theology at Practical Bible Training School (Now Davis College), Bible School Park, New York, where he taught for twenty-five years. He pastored Calvary Baptist Church in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Grace Baptist Church of Maine, New York. He is the author of numerous Bible study materials as well as How to Interpret the Bible and his very helpful work on Biblical Doctrine entitled Practical Christian Theology (PCT) published in Grand Rapids by Kregel, 2001. PCT is complete, concise, and nontechnical, Barackman’s handy one-volume text explores the great doctrines of our faith, including the Bible, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit, angels, man, sin, and salvation. Easy-to-follow outlines for each chapter organize the material for systematic study. Charts, notes, and subject indexes make this a great reference tool. The article above is adapted from PCTAppendix Q”, 524-525.

Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. “WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT PRE-MILLENNIALISM?”

A Common Misconception on the Millennium

Lion and Lamb image

One of the most common misconceptions in Biblical interpretation today is that “the thousand years” (hence: the “millennium”), of which John speaks in Revelation 20:1-7, are mentioned nowhere else in the Scripture.  And since it is generally agreed that no major doctrine should be based on any one single passage of the Bible, it is no wonder then that all too many have concluded that pre-millennialism likewise should not be among any of our major doctrinal creeds.

However, a more careful study of God’s Word dissipates this conclusion.  The truth is that the “thousand years,” along with parallel expressions, are found in both testaments and constitutes one of the high points in Biblical prophecy.  Before we look at some of these key texts, it is important to note that the Kingdom of God in heaven and on earth is one of the grand themes of the whole Bible.  A quick review of that Kingdom (in its inception, progress, conduct, and consummation) should set the stage for our considering the key teaching passages in a pre-millennial doctrine.

The Kingdom of God

The Two Advents: The Kingdom of God has two advents, two ages, two resurrections, and two end points.  Few, except some of Jesus’ own kin-folks, deny that the first advent has already occurred.  In a Television debate I had with Rabbi Pincas Lapide on the John Ankerberg Television show a good number of years ago, he observed that the difference between his Jewish viewpoint and my evangelical one was that I, as an evangelical, believed in two comings of the Messiah and he, as a believer in the Tenak (= the Old Testament), only adopted one: a coming of the Messiah in a time of world peace.  I replied, “But Dr. Lapide, Zechariah 12:10 says `They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child… a firstborn son.’  I asked, `Who is the one speaking in this text that they will look on?’  He replied: `The Almighty!’  Then I asked, `How did he get pierced, then?’  ‘I do not know he said.’  My retort was, `I have an idea how: it was at Calvary in his first coming.’  Later the Messiah will come in a second advent in a time of final peace as this same chapter in Zechariah points out.”  Yes, there are two advents advocated in the Biblical text of both the Old and the New Testaments.

The Two Ages: But besides the two advents of Messiah, there are also two ages: in Hebrew- “`Olam Hazzeh,” “This age,” and “`Olam Habba, “The age to come.”  The New Testament Greek employs these same two divisions of time some thirty times: “Aion ho houtos,” “This age,” and “Aion ho mellon,” “The age to come.”  The “Age to come” overlaps “this Age” with the work of Christ in casting out demons, and especially in his resurrection from the dead.  While the “age to come” is still only in its incipient form, for the second advent will come in the future in its full realization.

The Two Resurrections of I Corinthians 15:22-24

Even more significantly, there are two resurrections, not just one.  Revelation 20:5 speaks of “the first resurrection,” which all too many seek to reduce in meaning by spiritualizing, allegorizing, or idealizing it in place of a literal resurrection.  But what John calls “the first resurrection,” the apostle Paul refers to “those who are Christ’s at his coming” in 1 Corinthians 15:23.  In fact, the Apostle Paul has given us just as strong a text for pre-millennialism as has the Apostle John in the Apocalypse.

I Corinthians 15: 22 begins that just as “…in Adam all die, [for which the cemetery is our main, but all convincing, evidence], so in Christ all will be made alive.”  This affirms that every mortal, regardless of race, gender, religion, or the absence of any religious affiliation, will be resurrected in the final day.  Instead of proving universalism, as Karl Barth taught from this passage (i.e., that every one will eventually be saved), the Greek text, which had no punctuation in the original text, follows immediately after observing that “all will be made alive,” with the qualification, “but each in his own turn.” The Greek word for “turn” is a military term (Tagmati), meaning “rank,” “squad,” or “platoon.” So all are resurrectible, i.e., they can “be made alive,” but only in distinct squads, platoons, or divisions.  This text lists three such squads: (1) [vs. 23] “Christ, the firstfruits,” [at the first Easter morning] (2) “then, when he comes for those who belong to him,” and (3) [vs. 24] “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” 

The most important matter to note is that Christ’s resurrection sets the pattern for the two resurrections that are to follow in the plan of the Kingdom of God. It is also important to note that there is a temporal space of time between the resurrections as indicated by the word “then,” which in Koine and Classical Greek is represented by the words that always go together: epeita….eita, (“then …. Then”).  These two are routinely found together in Greek to represent a time period between them as in the Gospel record, “First the blade and then the ear and then the full corn [old world wheat and the like] doeth appear.”  Surely this signals the growth of the wheat in its various stages with a time gap between them.  That is exactly what the apostle John was indicating, though he was more specific as to the time period, labeling it as a “thousand years.”

In just the same manner, the Greek Aorist tense of “lived” or “came to life” (in Revelation 20:40 indicated one definite act, which was called the “First Resurrection” in Revelation 20:4.  “They lived” can only mean they came to life again and returned to a life like their former life as it also means in Revelation 2:8, and of the beast in Revelation 13:14 and elsewhere (e.g., John 5:25; Romans 8:13).  The famous quote of Alford needs to be stated again:

“If in a passage [Rev 20:4] where two resurrections are mentioned, – where certain souls lived, at first, and the `Rest of the dead’ lived only at the end of a specified period, after that first, — the `First Resurrection’ may be understood to mean a spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means a literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything. If the `First Resurrection’ is spiritual, then so is the second, – which I suppose none will be hardy enough to maintain.  But if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, in common with the whole primitive church, and many of the best expositors, I do maintain and receive as an article of faith and hope….  I have ventured to speak strongly, because my conviction is strong, founded on the rules of fair and consistent interpretation.  It is a strange sight, in these days, to see expositors, who are among the first, in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents.”

The First Resurrection is just as literal a resurrection in John’s Apocalypse as it is in Paul’s “those who belong to him when he comes” (1 Cor. 15:23).  And in both John and Paul, those resurrections are separated by a period of time.

Nor does the fact that John saw only “souls” detract from a literal bodily resurrection, for the souls that had heretofore enjoyed heavenly joy were now to be reunited with their bodies.  Note that John does not say the “souls” “lived and reigned,” but the same “they” who were beheaded, and the “they” who had not received the mark of the beast, were the same ones who “came alive” and were reunited with their bodies and who reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

The Two Ends: There are also two ends along with the two advents, two ages, and two resurrections.  The first end is signaled by the coming of the Son of Man, our Lord Jesus from the clouds of heaven in his second advent. The prophet Daniel brilliantly laid this out in Daniel 7:9 – 14 as did the prophet Ezekiel in his Apocalypse in chapters 37 – 48. Instead of a Valley of Dry Bones, the nation Israel is resurrected again with an implantation of the revitalizing breath of Life in each of the skeletons of bones as the nation is once again placed back in her own land.  This marks the opening of the Age to Come, now in its full view (even though it had been inaugurated in the life and times of Jesus the Messiah), and the thousand year rule and reign of Christ with his saints of both Jewish and Gentile believers.

The second end comes with the Great White Judgment throne in which all the rest of the dead are resurrected to be examined by our Lord to see if their names are in the Lamb’s book of Life.  This does not end the Age to come, for it goes on without cessation into the eternal state and the Messianic Age of Eternity.

The Witness of Isaiah 24:21-23 to the “Multitude of Days”

In addition to the two great New Testament passages dealing with the millennium, Isaiah 24:21 – 23 can take the next pride of place.  It too places its prediction in “that day of the Lord” (Isa. 24:21), which “Day of the Lord” is mainly an Old Testament term that parallels the contents of the New Testament “Apocalypse of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1).  Exhibiting the organic nature of prophecy, a separate name in germ form (an example of an epigenetic growth) is used for what John will later call in Greek Chilia Ete, “a thousand years.”  Isaiah names that same period of time Rov Yamim, “a multitude of days,” or “many days.”

Isaiah speaks of the Day of the Lord when Messiah himself will judge and then restore the kingdom to Israel.  At that time, the Lord will “punish” (or “visit”) the powers in heaven above and the kings of the earth in such a fashion that they will be gathered together as “prisoners” in a “pit” or “dungeon” and “shut up in prison.”  “After many days,” (i.e., equal to John’s “millennium,” but here not specified exactly) they will appear for judgment.  At that same time, “the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed when the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders, gloriously” (Isa. 24: 22-23).  Here, then, is a third major teaching text on the millennium.

This is the time during the thousand years when Satan is cast down to the pit “In that day.”  It is when Michael stands forth to fight for Israel (Dan 12:1; Rev 12:7) and when according to the vision of John “the angel, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand, laid hold of the dragon, the Old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut and sealed him over, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished, or almost so, after which he must be loosed for a little season” (Rev 20:1-3).

Note that Isaiah also fixes the duration of the imprisonment of Satan as a “multitude of days,” or “many days.”  Isaiah also says that it is “after” these “many days” that the “powers of heaven” and “the kings of earth” will have their final retribution.  This implies their future unchaining and being loosed again.  Thus Isaiah 24:22 involves a resurrection of the wicked at the close of the “many days.”

The Witness of Ezekiel 37–48

In this Ezekielian Apocalpyse of chapters 37 – 48, the “whole house of Israel” is reanimated and revivified in the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:5,11). There, as one flock under one Shepherd and one nation under one king, the resurrected faithful dead of the nation Israel are resurrected and taken back to their promised land, just as God had promised in Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 17:15; 49:14, 15; Hosea 13:14; Isaiah 25:6–9; 26:14,19; Ezekiel 37:12; and Daniel 12:1-3. Their “many days” of peace and blessedness are expanded on in Ezekiel 37:1– 28, as well as in Isaiah 2:2-5; 11:6 – 9; 24:23; 25:6–9; 60:1–22; 61:4–11; 62:2–12; 65:17–25; 66:20 23. This will be the time when Yahweh Shammah, “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35) living among them.

But again, “after many days,” (Ezekiel 38:8), Judgment will come on Gog with a punishment and visitation similar to what Isaiah 24:22 and Revelation 20:7–10 depict.  The termini of Isaiah 24:22, Ezekiel 38:8 and Revelation 20:7 are identical.  Remarkably, Ezekiel 28:25–26 notes that Israel will be secured from attack and the people will live in safety and their security will be undisturbed (also Ezekiel 38:8,11,12; Jeremiah 32:36-44).

Other Equivalent Expressions in Other Passages

If time and space would allow, we could add Psalm 102:13–22, where Messiah comes with his holy angels with glory to build up Zion.  Then he will judge the world in righteousness and “give dominion in the morning.” In addition to Psalm 102, is the expression “In His days,” found in Psalm 72:7. This too is a text noted as a great Messianic Psalm.

There is also that group of four bright Messianic Psalms in Psalms 96, 97, 98, and 99, ending in the remarkable Psalm 100.  Here every land in the world is called upon to make a joyful noise unto the Lord as he concludes the work in history he said he would do.

Conclusion

But notwithstanding all this data (and much more) on the terms for the “Thousand Years,” “Multitude of Days,” “Many Days,” “In His Day,” the case for Pre-millennialism is almost completely missed if one does not focus on the everlasting promise of God made to his people Israel.

Pre-millennialism is defined not merely as the future time in the Rule and Reign of God (the kingdom of God), bounded by the resurrection of all believers on the front end and the resurrection of the unbelieving wicked dead on the opposite end, during which period Satan is bound, but loosed for a brief time at the end of the millennium before he is cast forever into the abyss.  It is more precisely the time when God finishes in space and time what he promised historically to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David and his line.  It is therefore a whole philosophy of history with implications for the Christ-and-culture-hiatus that must find its resolution in the Lord of all creation and all value and beauty.

Principally the Abrahamic promise (Genesis 12:2 – 3) had three parts: (1) the promise of a Seed, the coming Messiah, (2) the promise of the land as a gift to Israel, but owned by God, and (3) the promise of the “Gospel” in which all the families of the earth would be blessed (Paul equated this aspect of the promise with the “Gospel” in Galatians 3:8). 

It is impossible to read, teach, and preach on the prophets of the Old Testament without bumping into the promise of a return of Israel to her land again and again, something like one verse out of every eight verses in the prophets!!!  This is what makes the return of Israel to her land once again in the future the most important and key part of the premillennial doctrine.

Some will attempt to say that Israel forfeited that promise when she disobeyed, but what she forfeited was only the right each of those disobedient persons or generations had to participate in the blessing promised.  Nevertheless, Israel still had to transmit the promise even though some would not enjoy its benefits.  Transmission of the promise is one thing; participation in the blessings of the promise is another thing altogether!

To say that the Church replaces Israel is not only a form of supersessionism, but it is also without exegetical merit as I have argued elsewhere (Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “An Assessment of Replacement Theology: The Relationship Between Israel of the Abrahamic-Davidic Covenant and the Christian Church,” Mishkan, 21 [1994]: 9-20). Yes, Gentiles are included in the term “People of God” (just as the Jewish people who believe are part of the “People of God”), but the term “Israel” never loses its unique national, geo-political, or ethnic flavor.  This is not because God has favorites or that he is chauvinistic, but rather because God is faithful and true to his word. Once again, note clearly that there is a divine philosophy of history, in which God does complete within space and time what he proposed earlier on in redemptive history.

What is lost, some will ask, if we demote Pre-millennialism to a secondary doctrinal status?  Isn’t it true that the majority of Christians today do not recognize it as taught in the Bible – especially in a reformed or covenantal understanding of the text?  And if they do not recognize this doctrine, isn’t it also true that most think this teaching is reduced to only one teaching passage in the Bible?

But we have shown that it is widely represented in the Biblical text.  Moreover, most will also concede that pre-millennialism was the majority view of the Christian Church in the first three or four Christian centuries.  It was the influence of Origen’s allegorizing tendencies, St. Augustine’s change of his mind on this doctrine, and of the collaboration of Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, with Emperor Constantine in their desire to capture the geo-political sides of the discussions of the Kingdom of God that brought the major change into the life of the Church.

But what is affected the most is the doctrine of redemption and God’s promise-plan for the ages.  It becomes a much more difficult matter to teach the Kingdom of God with its two ages, two advents, two resurrections and two ends without these key texts. Moreover, most will need to shy away from teaching the whole counsel of God, especially as it is found in the prophets.  Also, the very warp and woof of salvation, which Paul says in Romans 1:16 instructs us that it is impossible to talk about so great a “salvation” without at the same time noting that this Gospel is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  Romans 9–11 then, becomes not a parenthesis or an intercalation that interrupts the main flow of the story of redemption; on the contrary, one cannot talk about the gospel or our salvation without constantly intermingling the Jew/Gentile question.  Like it or not, the Jewish question will be the ragged edge on which many will be tested and found deficient from an truly exegetical standpoint of the clear witness of Scripture.

I urge Christ’s Church to go slowly in its rush to jettison the pre-millennial position, or to avoid teaching about the future return of Israel to the land God promised her.  It can only lead to other problems down the road:

(1) problems with correctly exegeting numerous passages from the prophets about Israel’s future;

(2) problems with the nature and extent of the “Gospel,”

(3) problems with a view of history;

(4) problems with the definition of the Kingdom of God; and

(5) problems with being ashamed of the whole redemptive program of God that is for the Jew first and then for the Gentile/Greek.

May our Lord grant us his grace and wisdom to fairly represent the entirety of the “Good News.

*Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (PhD, Brandeis University) is the distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament and president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Dr. Kaiser has written over 40 books, including Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching; A History of Israel; The Messiah in the Old Testament; Recovering the Unity of the Bible; The Promise-Plan of God; Preaching and Teaching The Last Things; and coauthored (with Moises Silva) An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, currently reside at Kerith Farm in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. This article is adapted from Dr. Kaiser’s website: www.walterckaiserjr.com

“Prophecy and the Bible” By James Montgomery Boice

What The Bible Has To Say About The Future:

Part 1 in a Series of 9 By *James M. Boice

Years ago the noted English agnostic Thomas Huxley was in Dublin, Ireland, for some speaking engagements. On one occasion he left his hotel in a hurry to catch a train, taking one of the city’s famous horse drawn taxis. Huxley thought that the doorman at the hotel had told the driver where he was going, so he simply settled back in the cab and told the man at the reins to drive fast. The driver set off at a vigorous pace. In a few minutes Huxley realized that the cab was headed away from the station. “Do you know where you are going?” he shouted to the driver, “No, your honor,” the driver answered, “but I’m driving fast.”

This story seems to sum up more than just the spirit of Huxley and his followers toward the end of the nineteenth century. It is also an illustration of the outlook of many in our tumultuous age. There is much motion, much speed. Yet few in our day seem to know where they are or where they are headed. For most of our contemporaries, life is as Franklin Delano Roosevelt described it in his inaugural address: “We don’t know where we are going but we are on our way.”

This state of affairs is completely abnormal, of course. Or, to put another way, the confusion is not God’s fault. In fact, God’s revelation in the Bible exists to accomplish just the opposite. The Bible is God’s revelation to men of where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed. It is a revelation of our past, present, and future; and these are revealed, not only in reference to the individual, but also as the concern nations and the movements of history. What will happen to us in the years to come? Where is history headed? How will it end? Is God in control or has He forgotten us? Do the events of our life have significance?

If you are interested in these questions and have not been satisfied with the predictions of politicians or pollsters, then this series of studies of what the Bible has to say about the future is for you.

 Why Study Prophecy?

 I must admit that for many years I have been reluctant to write on this subject – for two reasons. First, I believe that in the last generation there has been an overemphasis on prophecy in the writings of certain evangelical leaders. Prophecy is a part of the Bible. It should be studied. Yet sometimes prophecy has been discussed to the exclusion of many other vital and urgent doctrines. That is inexcusable when some still do not know about sin or about Christ’s atonement.

The second reason that I have hesitated to write on this subject has been an inner suspicion that much teaching on prophecy has been directed toward a wrong level of involvement both for the teacher and for the listener. Many are interested in prophecy solely because of a desire to know something that no one else knows, to have the final word on things to come in the future. In some circles this has led to a certain smugness which has destroyed the very compassion and outreach to humanity that a true understanding of the subject is intended to produce.

Since in the face of such misgivings, I have decided to write a series on biblical prophecy, it would be well to give you my reasons. There are four of them.

Four Reasons To Study Biblical Prophecy

First, for anyone who has determined, as I have, to explore the whole counsel of God by means of a thorough exposition of the Bible, it is impossible to avoid prophecy, for the Bible is full of it. In fact, from one point of view, the Bible is almost entirely prophecy. It is the record of God’s promises of a Redeemer and of the salvation of the human race, together with a record of the fulfillment of those promises insofar as they occurred. One-fourth of the Bible is specifically prophetic. Whole books, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, are devoted to prophecy. It is a recognition of this fact that has led most good Bible students to treat the subject at least to some degree. A list of them would include such names as Sir Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, H.A. Ironside, I.M. Haldeman, C.I Scofield, Arno C. Gaebelein, G.H. Pember, and, in our day, J. Dwight Pentecost, Hal Lindsey, Billy Graham, and many others.

It is relevant here to point out that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 does not let us regard prophecy, any more than any other part of Scripture, as unprofitable. For we are told, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

My second reason for treating prophetic themes at this time is the current secular interest in the future, particularly as shown by the involvement of many with astrology and spiritualism. It is true that humanity has had an interest in the future throughout history. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all had fortune-telling priests and astrologers. Although condemned by Christianity, astrology was popular in the western world until after the Renaissance, when increased scientific study discredited it. However, the study of astrology has revived in recent years. Today an interest in the future is everywhere apparent. Astrological signs abound. Newstands are filled with books and pamphlets on what is to come. Astrology was brought to the popular level by the rock musical Hair, with its highly successful song “Aquarius.” Millions consult their horoscopes daily. In fact, according to Hal Lindsey, a new and popular writer on prophecy, columns on astrology now run in 1220 of 1750 daily newspapers in the United States. Twenty years ago only 100 papers ran astrology columns.

There is also an interest in the more popular prophets of the day such as Jeanne Dixon, Carroll Righter, and Syndey Omarr. In Europe there are literally thousands of mediums. According to one estimate, there is a fortune-teller for every 120 Parisians. I have been told that there are over 200 mediums in the city of Zurich, Switzerland, alone. Certainly, this kind of interest needs to be countered by the legitimate biblical approach to the events associated with the culmination of our age.

The third reason is the current renewed interest in biblical eschatology by established theologians. The best known of these is the German theologian named Juergen Moltmann, a professor of systematic theology at the University of Tuebingen. His first widely successful book, The Theology of Hope, is an attempt to look at all Christian doctrine from the perspective of God’s future promises, and it has set off a wide range of related studies by others. Thus, although a generation ago many scholars laughed at any interest on the part of conservatives in biblical prophecy, today many would agree with Henry P. Van Dusen who has argued that “the problem of eschatology my shortly become, if it is not already, the framework of American theological discussion,” and perhaps indeed of theological discussion generally (Henry P. Van Dusen, “A Preview of Evanston,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review, March, 1954, p.8).

God’s Challenge

My fourth and final reason for writing this series of studies is the most important one, however. It completely overshadows the others. The reason is this: God Himself appeals to the fulfillment of prophecy as evidence that He alone is God and that He is faithful to all who follow Him. In fact, He challenges those who do not yet believe to investigate personally the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

I know that some will say, “But I have never heard of that. Where in the Bible does God make such an appeal?” God does so in many places, but the greatest appeal is in a section of nine chapters from the heart of the book of Isaiah, chapters 40-48. The theme of these chapters is the greatness and majesty of the true God, and the appeal is to prophecy.

In chapter 40 God begins by contrasting His own performance on behalf of His people with the performance of idols. The point is that the idols can do nothing.

To who then will you liken God?

Or what likeness will you compare with Him?

As for the idol, a craftsman casts it,

A goldsmith plates it with gold,

And a silversmith fashions chains of silver.

He who is too impoverished for such an offering

Selects a tree that does not rot:

He seeks out for himself a skillfull craftsman

To prepare an idol that will not totter. (Isaiah 40:18-20, NASB)

 

In the next chapter an appeal is made to the idols:

“Present your case,” the LORD says.

“Bring forward your strong arguments,”

The King of Jacob says.

Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place;

As for the former events, declare what they were,

That we may consider them, and know their outcome;

Or announce to us what is coming.

Declare the things that are going to come afterward,

That we may know that you are gods;

Indeed, do good or evil,

that we may anxiously look about us and fear together.

Behold, you are of no account,

And your work amounts to nothing;

He who chooses you is an abomination. (Isaiah 41:21-24, NASB)

The point of these verses is that the idols are ineffective. No one but God Himself can tell the future, since no one but God can control it. The argument continues in this vein for several chapters until it is summed up in chapter 48, “Who can foretell the future?” God asks.

I declared the former things long ago

And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them.

Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. (Isaiah 48:3, NASB)

This is the test of the true God and of the one who claims to speak in His name. No one in biblical times – or today, for that matter – doubts that there are people in every age who will pretend to possess insight into future events. The idols, as well as Jehovah, had their prophets. There have always been astrologers and mystics. But the question is not “Are there prophets?” The question is “Whose prophecies come true?” By this standard, it is the claim of God and of the Bible that all that is prophesied in the Bible has either come to pass or is coming to pass and that men should believe on the God of the Bible because of it.

God’s Spokesman

In this series we will be looking primarily at the biblical prophecies of things that have not yet come to pass. Yet it would be inadequate to look at prophecies that relate to the future without at least considering some of the many prophecies that are also part of the biblical revelation. For one thing, we need to look at the past to meet God’s challenge to Isaiah. For another, only as we do this will we be able to approach the future prophecies, not as guesses by reasonably intelligent men, but rather as further divine revelations, through those who have already been tested, of what awaits this race and the individuals in it.

An excellent place to begin is with a little known prophet, Micaiah. His story is told in 1 Kings 22. Micaiah was a prophet of God in Israel during the days of the divided monarchy when Ahab was king of Israel and Jehoshaphat was king of Judah. At one point in their reigns Jehoshaphat went north to visit Ahab, and the two kings got into a discussion about an area of ancient Palestine called Ramoth-gilead, which bordered on Israel. Ahab had wanted the land for some time, and he saw an opportunity in Jehoshaphat’s visit to possess it. He suggested, “We could take Ramoth-gilead if we did it together, you and I. Shall we do it?”

Jehoshaphat answered, “I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.” Ahab was not a worshiper of Jehovah and, in fact, was quite wicked, while Jehoshaphat was more or less a believer in God. So, before they went to battle, Jehoshaphat said, “Let’s consult the Lord before we break camp.” Ahab responded by producing four hundred of his court prophets and asking them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear?” The prophets gave the answer that the king wanted to hear.

“Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” This word from the prophets satisfied king Ahab (actually, he would gone even without consulting the prophets) but Jehoshaphat was not satisfied. These men were paid mouthpieces, and Jehoshaphat knew it. So he said to Ahab, “But isn’t there a real prophet, a prophet of the Lord, that we may ask the outcome from him?” Ahab replied that there was one, a man named Micaiah, but that he hated Micaiah because Micaiah never prophesied anything good about him, only evil. Nevertheless, at Jehoshaphat’s insistence, Micaiah was called.

Now if ever there was a situation in which the deck was stacked against one poor prophet, this was it. First, Micaiah was warned as to what he should say. Second, he was brought into the capital city and into the marketplace where all the troops, the false prophets, and the two kings were assembled. Third, he was confronted by the king who hated and feared him. The question was asked: Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle; or shall we forbear?”

At first Micaiah ridiculed the kings. He said, “Go and prosper; for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” What Micaiah said was a direct quotation of the false prophets, and everyone knew it. Ahab became angry. He literally roared at Micaiah: “I adjure thee that thou tel me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD.” So Micaiah replied, “I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd. And the LORD said, These have no master; let them return every man to his house in peace.”

Ahab recognized that this was a prophecy of his death. He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “See? What did I tell you? Didn’t I say that he would prophesy no good about me, only evil?” Ahab then disguised himself. But in the fighting one of the Syrian soldiers shot an arrow at random which entered a joint in Ahab’s armor and killed him. So the king died and the people of Israel were scattered, as Micaiah had prophesied.

Isaiah

A much better known prophet is Isaiah. Isaiah had a long life, prophesying over a period of sixty years, during the lifetimes of four successive kings of Judah. Many of his prophecies have been fulfilled, some during and others after his lifetime.

In the year 701 B.C., in the fourteenth year of the reign of King Hezekiah (the third king under whom Isaiah prophesied), the Assyrian king Sennacherib besieged the city of Jerusalem, threatening its total destruction. Sennacherib later wrote that he shut up Hezekiah “like a caged bird…in…his royal city.”

In the midst of the siege, which dragged on and on because of the city’s strong fortifications, Sennacherib sent one of his deputies named Rabshaketh to Jerusalem with a speech intended to weaken the morale of the defenders and perhaps lead to a revolt within the city and subsequent surrender. Rabshaketh spoke in Hebrew, rehearsing all that had happened to other cities and then threatening the same fate for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The speech had a deadly effect, so much so, in fact, that the city officials asked Rabshaketh to speak Aramaic, the language of international diplomacy, lest the people be further discouraged by hearing him. At this confession of weakness, the deputy merely kept on with his destructive propaganda.

Word came to Hezekiah of what was happening, and he was dismayed. He sent to Isaiah and asked him to pray for the people and the city. Instead, Isaiah immediately sent back a prediction of what would happen. He said, “Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blight upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (2 Kings 19:6, 7; Is. 37:6,7).

That is precisely what happened. Soon a plague swept through Sennacherib’s army. Then the king apparently heard rumors of rebellion and insurrection at home, and the army left Palestine. Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons when he returned to Nineveh (2 Kings 19:35-37).

Later Isaiah predicted the fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Babylon, the captivity of the people, the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and the Persians, and the eventual return of the Jewish exiles to their homeland. All these events took place roughly one hundred, one hundred fifty, and two hundred years after Isaiah had foretold them.

Prophecies of the Messiah

Spectacular as these specific prophecies relating to Jewish history are, however, the most important of Isaiah’s prophecies are not those relating to the nation at all. They are the prophecies of the Messiah. Here, however, the testimony of Isaiah is supplemented by the predictions of many other prophets who lived both before and after his time.

These men told a great deal about the Messiah and they told it in exquisite detail. The Old Testament tells us that the Messiah was to be a descendent of Abraham through King David (2 Sam. 7:12, 13; 1 Chron. 17:11-14; Jer. 23:5). Micah, one of the so-called Minor Prophets, wrote that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). This prophecy was quoted by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalm as an answer to the Wise Men, who came to the city inquiring where the King of the Jews had been born. Isaiah revealed that the Messiah would be the child of a virgin (Isa. 7:14). He also foretold the King’s rejection by Israel and described His suffering (Isa. 53). Zechariah spoke of the price of the Messiah’s betrayal: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” (Zech 11:12). Parts of the Psalms describe the crucifixion and intense suffering of the Chosen One; Psalm 22 contains prophecies of the mocking of the Messiah, the piercing of His hands and feet, and the division of His garments by those who carried out his execution.

In Daniel there is even a prophecy of the time at which this would take place. The Messiah was to come shortly before the destruction of the temple built by Herod; that is, before A.D. 70 (Dan. 9:24-26). Moreover, Daniel foretold that the time between the publishing of the decree permitting the rebuilding of the temple after the destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians and the “cutting off” of the Messiah would not exceed 483 years (69 weeks of years or 69 times 7). Since the date of the decree to permit the building of the temple has been fixed from several sources at 445 B.C., the latest possible date for the death of the Messiah is fixed at A.D. 38, meaning that if the prophecies of the Bible are correct, all the events foretold about the Messiah had to be fulfilled before that time (note: The prophecy may be even more accurate than these figures show. For if, as Charles C. Ryrie argues, the “years” of Daniel are based upon 360 rather than 365 days, the prophecy spans 173,880 days and the cutoff date for the Messiah falls on 6 April A.D. 32, the most probable date for Christ’s crucifixion. Justification for a 360-day year lies in the fact that the Scriptures seem to equate 1260 days with 42 months or 31/2 years in prophetic passages, See Ryrie, “The Bible and Tommorow’s News”, Wheaton, ILL.: Scripture Press, n.d., pp.52-56).

Were these prophecies fulfilled? Of course, they were fulfilled. They were fulfilled in the genealogy, birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who is thereby identified as the Messiah, the Son of God.

A Future World

In Part Two of our series we will begin to look at the biblical prophecies of things to come. But before we do that, we need to take note of the following three conclusions. First, if the prophecies we have already looked at have been fulfilled, as the Bible and history reveal them to have been fulfilled, then the  God of the Bible is the true God and we should worship Him. That is the conclusion that must be reached if we take God’s own challenge through the prophet Isaiah seriously.

Second, if these prophecies have been fulfilled, as we know them to have been fulfilled, then the Bible is a supernaturally trustworthy and totally authoritative book. This will guide our approach as we turn to future things. The Bible is a record of prophecy. If the prophecies have been fulfilled, then what Peter said about this Book is true. “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). God Himself stands behind this Book. It follows that we can trust the Bible for what it has to say about our own condition and about God’s plan of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Finally, if the biblical prophecies about the past events have come true and if we may expect the biblical prophecies about future events to come true, then the future is bright for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are His followers. One day the rays of the sun will rise on that last and future world that has been spoken of so much by our contemporaries. But it will not be a world devastated by an atomic holocaust, as some are predicting. It will not be a world decimated by the inevitable encroachment of worldwide famine, which others are warning about. It will not even be a dehumanized world composed of machines and the men who serve them. These things may come. The Bible even predicts that some of them will come. But this will not be the end. The Bible teaches that there is a future beyond them when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah who came once to suffer and will return again, will reign in righteousness and will establish a social order in which love and justice will prevail.

[This article was adapted from Chapter One in one of the first of James Boice’s plethora of books, and is entitled: The Last and Future World, Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1974. Though this book was written almost 40 years ago – it’s contents are just as relevant today as when it was first written, since most of the prophecies taught in the Scriptures and addressed by Dr. Boice have yet to be fulfilled.]

*Dr. James Montgomery Boice (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He was the author of numerous expositions of the Bible (e.g. Genesis and Romans), Theological writings (e.g. Whatever Happened to Grace? & Foundations of the Christian Faith), and on the practical Christian life (e.g. Living By The Book & The Cost of Discipleship).

Booklet Review: Four Views of the End Times by Timothy Paul Jones

Comprehensive and Concise Primer on End Time Events

 There are so many differing views and interpretations related to Biblical prophecy and the end times. Dr. Jones has provided a great service to the church by providing a clear, short, and very complete guide to the key Bible passages, definition of terms, key views, and the strengths and insights on four of the most popular views on the end times: Dispensational Premillennialism, Historical Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism and objectively gives the answers the following questions for each view:

What does this view emphasize?

What does this view teach according to the main proponents (historically and modern) of the view?

What Scriptures are used to support this view?

When has this particular view been popular in church history?

Who are the most prominent Biblical Scholars (past and current) who hold to this particular view?

How does this particular view interpret the book of Revelation?

There is also a printable PDF available that charts each particular view, as well as a concluding section that answers how each of the four views answer the following crucial questions related to the end times:

Will Jesus return physically?

When will Jesus return?

Do the rapture and second coming occur at the same time?

Will there be a great tribulation?

Will Christians suffer during the tribulation?

Will there be a literal 1,000-year millennium?

Who is saved during the millennial period?

When was this particular view most held historically?

If you are looking for an objective, concise, and comprehensive overview of the end time views – this is a great place to start. I especially recommend this little booklet for people who have never studied “eschatology” (the study of the end times) before. It will be a good objective guide for you to see the “big picture” and then be able to hone in on more specific studies related to eschatology when you see the major players (scholars) that hole to the particular views, so you can do more study on your own.

Book Review: I Never Thought I’d See The Day by David Jeremiah

 What to Believe and Do As We Wait For Our King To Return

This is the fourth book written by Dr. Jeremiah based on a prophetic series given at his church in San Diego over the past several years. The author (who has been in ministry for five decades and counting) writes about what he never thought he’d see happening in America and in the World by way of cultural ramifications that impact Christians and the world.

He bases the book on two specific Bible passages. Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. And 1 Chronicles 12:32, “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” In other words, Dr. Jeremiah is concerned that we as Christians are not overwhelmed by the times we find ourselves living in – that we are knowledgeable about what is going on; and encouraged in the truth, so that we can effectively apply the Scriptures and make an impact on an ever increasing attack on God and His people around the globe.

Dr. Jeremiah tackles the following 9 specific developments in these times we are living in:

1)    The rise of angry atheists and how they seek to intimidate believers in God at every level of society.

2)    The intensification of spiritual warfare – the more the gospel spreads – the more the enemy attacks.

3)    The dethroning of Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh and King of Kings and Lord of Lords in whom is salvation and the only hope for the world.

4)    The redefining of marriage as articulated by God’s definition in the Bible.

5)    The moral deterioration of society both privately and publicly – especially among our so-called leaders.

6)    Dr. Jeremiah writes, “Intertwined with this free fall in morality is the growing marginalization of the Bible, which has moved from the center of political and cultural discourse to the far edges—from providing the founding principles of our nation to becoming a resource for token verses as ornamental platitudes. Sadly, many Christians and a growing number of churches have followed the lead of the culture and pushed the Word of God away at the center of their lives.”

7)    The growing irrelevance of the Body of Christ in our society.

8)    The growing influence of rogue nations.

9)    The decline of America’s loyalty and allegiance to Israel.

This book is very relevant, and provides historical and biblical ways to be prepared to know what we believe, why we believe it, and how to stand firm in God’s truth and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we as Christians may be faithful in serving our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – until He returns. I highly recommend this book as informative, alarming, but also full of biblically helpful solutions and encouragement from a brilliant communicator of God’s Word and how it applies to the times in which we are living.

Book Review: Preaching and Teaching the Last Things by Walter Kaiser

Walter Kaiser is a gifted Old Testament scholar who has the keen ability to be able to communicate well among lay people and scholars alike. In this new offering Dr. Kaiser does not disappoint. This book is especially geared toward pastors, but is also extremely helpful for all those who teach and desire to understand the Old Testament and it’s connections to the New Testament and the ultimate promise plan of God.

Dr. Kaiser lands somewhere between a “covenant” and “dispensational” theologian – in my opinion he is very balanced and makes an excellent case for each passage he exegetes. He definitely leans dispensational – taking passages and promises to Israel literally unless there is a textual indicator deeming otherwise.

The book is composed of six parts – covering different aspects of the end times. Each of these parts contains two or three passages of Scripture, and is broken down in this way:

1)   A discussion of the topic.

2)   Specific exegetical and sermonic helps for the specific passage being taught including: the text; title; focal point; homiletical key word; interrogative question; and teaching aim.

3)   A teaching outline for the passage.

4)   An exegetical discussion of the passage.

5)   Practical conclusions based on a thorough exegesis of the passage.

Here are the topics that Kaiser addresses in the book with thorough exegetical and insightful precision:

Part 1: The Individual and General Eschatology of the Old Testament

  1. Life and Death in the Old Testament (Psalm 49:1-20)
  2. The resurrection of Mortals in the Old Testament (Job 19:21-27)

Part 2: The Nation of Israel in Old Testament Eschatology

  1. The Everlasting Promises made to Israel (Jeremiah 32:27-44)
  2. The Future Resurrection and Reunification of the Nation (Ezekiel 37:1-28)
  3. The Future Return of Israel to the Land of Promise (Zechariah 10:2-12)

Part 3: The New Davidic King and the City of the great King in the Old Testament

  1. The Branch of the Lord and the New Zion (Isaiah 2:2-5; 4:2-6)
  2. The Extent of Messiah’s Rule and Reign (Psalm 72:1-17)

Part 4: The Day of the Lord and the Beginning of the Nations’ Struggle with Israel

  1. The Arrival of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:28-3:21)
  2. God and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39)

Part 5: The Events of the Last Seven Years and the Arrival of the Western Confederacy

10. The Seventy Weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27)

11. The New Coming Third Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40:1-41:26; 43:1-11)

12. The Coming Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45)

13. The Battle of Armageddon (Zechariah 14:1-21)

Part 6: The Coming Millennial Rule of Christ and the Arrival of the Eternal State

14. The Millennial Rule and Reign of God (Isaiah 24:1-23)

15. The New Creation (Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:18-24)

I think this book is a welcome addition to any Bible student’s collection – especially due to the neglect of roughly 20-25% of the Bible being of a prophetic nature. Those of us who teach and preach God’s Word are required to teach the “whole counsel of God.” My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen him draw more parallels in the passages to Christ and how the gospel applies to believers in the here and now – and not solely in the past or future (read Tim Keller or Paul Tripp for excellence in this matter). Overall, I think it’s an excellent resource with wise insights into God’s Word and how His promise plan will ultimately be fulfilled.

*Walter C. Kaiser Jr. (PhD, Brandeis University) is the distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament and president emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Dr. Kaiser has written over 40 books, including Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching; A History of Israel; The Messiah in the Old Testament; Recovering the Unity of the Bible; The Promise-Plan of God; Preaching and Teaching The Last Things; and coauthored (with Moises Silva) An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Dr. Kaiser and his wife, Marge, currently reside at Kerith Farm in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin. Dr. Kaiser’s website: www.walterckaiserjr.com