Premillennialism and the Bible
By Jefferson David Tant
Our nation was shocked, saddened and angered on September 11, 2001 by the events that transpired in our nation — the cold-blooded murder of thousands. And people wonder, why this hatred, why this insane rage? A few days after the atrocities, I spent some time talking with a peaceful Islamic young woman from Bangladesh that my wife and I have befriended. She asked me the same question, and although she understood some of it, there was a part of it concerning which she had no clue. She has been threatened, with a bloody ax drawn on her whiteboard, and hateful things shouted at her and her friends.
Why do they hate us?
Although there are various underlying causes, two principal things stand out.
- On May 14, 1948, the U.N. basically established Israel as a Jewish state, and Palestinians were driven out of their homeland. I understand many Palestinians still live in refugee camps 50 years later. This has not set well with Palestinians and their Arab neighbors, most of whom are Muslims. Two of our presidents, Truman and Carter, strongly supported Premillennial views, and thus have strongly supported Israel against the claims of the disenfranchised Palestinians. Thus the hatred for the Israelis, who have not always been good neighbors, also spills over to the US. (And the Palestinians have not always been good neighbors, either.) The Jewish and Premillennial influence upon our congress continues to shape our foreign policy, which is viewed as anti-Arab, and thus anti-Muslim.
- A second matter has to do with US forces in Saudi Arabia. This is where Mohammed is buried, and where two of Islam’s holiest sites are—Medina and Mecca. The radical Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden, believe that no infidel should set foot in this holy land. Thus, even though Osama is a Saudi, he has denounced the Crown Prince for allowing the infidel Americans to have troops there. So he has vowed to drive them out by whatever means of force he can.
Now, What Is Premillennialism?
No two groups teach exactly alike, but all have major points of agreement.
- The kingdom of the Old Testament prophecies has not been established, and we now have the “church phase.”
- God’s promises to Abraham to make his seed a great nation are not yet fulfilled
- Christ came to set up his kingdom, but he was thwarted in this, so set up the church instead, intending to return later to set up his kingdom.
- The Jews as a nation will be converted and restored to Palestine.
- Christ will return to earth, establish his kingdom, and reign for 1,000 years on David’s literal throne in Jerusalem.
There are many other factors, but these are the core ideas that drive Premillennialism.
Thus this theory drives the US government to prop up Israel so that we might help God fulfill his purpose. Nearly every protestant denomination is infested with this teaching — some more so than others. This is a part of the doctrines of Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Jehovah’s Witness, Church of God and Seventh Day Adventist denominations, etc. Radio and TV preachers daily send this error into the homes of the unwary, and thus lead them astray. Some, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, send people into homes and further spread this erroneous doctrine. Ergo, we need to understand the Bible, lest we also be misled, and so that we can help others to a correct understanding.
Premillennialism teaches that the Jews never occupied all the land God promised to them. Therefore, the Old Testament kingdom of Israel will have to be restored with the Jews in Palestine, so that God’s promise can be redeemed and fulfilled. But God’s Word says they did receive the full promise. “So Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein” (Joshua 21:43).
Premillennialism teaches that Abraham’s descendants are “in the flesh” rather than “in faith.” But note that the gospel teaches that there is now no more distinction between Jew and Gentile in God’s sight, but that the true descendant of Abraham is the Christian.
In writing of the new relationship that we have with God, the apostle Paul wrote
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh” (Romans 2:28-29).
The point is carried further in Galatians 3:7: “Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham?”
And later in the chapter he writes:
“For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one [man] in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26-29). Paul clearly points out that the true sons of God are now related by a spiritual connection, not by being born into a Jewish family.
But look at John 6:15: “Jesus therefore perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force, to make him king, withdrew again into the mountain himself alone.” Actually, the Jews wanted an earthly kingdom, and tried to help Christ establish it. But the Premillennial theory denies this.
We see in Ephesians 3:10-11 that the church was in the eternal purpose of God, and not a mere “afterthought” or “substitute.” God has revealed his will “to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Do you see the point? The existence of the church was “according to the eternal purpose” of God. Yet Premillennialism denies this, saying the church would not have been set up if the Jews had only received the kingdom when Christ came.
Note John 17:4: "I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do."
Here Jesus claims he accomplished the mission of the Father as prophesied in many Old Testament passages. One of them is Daniel 2:44. As Daniel is interpreting the dream of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, he describes the four world kingdoms that succeed one another. The fourth kingdom was to be the great Roman Empire. Look at what Daniel said by inspiration from God:
“And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
God says that during the Roman Empire, his kingdom would be established. Christ said he fulfilled what he was given to do. But Premillennialism denies this, claiming Christ failed in his mission. Question: If Christ failed the first time, what would keep him from failing the second, third or fourth time?
If he has all power, but didn’t have enough power to overcome Satan then, where will he get more power to overcome the next time?
There are some serious problems with this idea, and John 5:28-29 points out one such problem. “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” Christ says all will hear, and all will come forth when the hour (not two hours) cometh. But Premillennialism denies this, separating the coming forth by one thousand years.
Matthew 25:31-34,41 teach that the good and bad are to be judged at the same time. “But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world … Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels.” Does the picture presented here allow a thousand years between? In no way. But the Premillennial view separates the judgments by one thousand years.
The Premillennialist counters by saying that Matthew 25 refers only to Gentiles and not Jews, therefore there is not one judgment. But Jesus made the gospel for all nations. “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). If the Premillennial theory is true, the gospel is only for Gentiles now, and not for all. Thus we see how Premillennialism tries to patch up its contradiction with one passage and winds up contradicting another, and so it is with all false prophets.
We are taught in Revelation 1:7 that when Christ returns, every eye will see him.
“Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him.” Premillennialism says that when Christ comes only the righteous shall see him first, and the unrighteous later. But this verse says that every eye shall see his return. Which shall we believe?
They read in Revelation 20 a one thousand year reign.
“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on 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 it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed for a little time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-6).
This is the foundation passage of premillennial theory:
“It is on this passage that the whole doctrine of the millennium as such has been founded. It is true that there are elsewhere in the scriptures abundant promises that the gospel will ultimately spread over the world; but the notion of a millennium as such is found in this passage alone” (Albert Barnes, noted Presbyterian commentator).
I don’t propose to unravel all the mystery of the passage, but consider this: Premillennials admit that many expressions in the chapter are figurative and symbolical and cannot be taken literally, but they insist on a literal one thousands years. The advocates of the theory read many things into the passage that absolutely are not there. Consider the fact that in the passage there is:
- No mention of second coming
- No mention of a bodily resurrection
- No mention of a reign on earth
- No mention of a literal throne of David
- No mention of Jerusalem or Palestine
- No mention of us
- No mention of Christ on earth
When theorists read into the passage things that are not there, they add to the Word of God, and are rewarded accordingly. “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19).
Another Scripture that gives these mistaken teachers a problem is I Thessalonians 4:17. The apostle Paul is writing concerning some false conceptions the readers had about the Lord’s return, and assures them:
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:15-17).
These verses clearly teach that those in the graves will be caught up together with the saved of those alive to meet the Lord in the air, and thus ever to be with the Lord. It does not say one word about Christ ever setting foot on this earth, or the saints returning to the earth. But Premillennialism teaches a round trip, saying these shall return to the earth to reign after a short time.
In John 18:36, we see that the Jews in Christ’s time clearly expected an earthly kingdom, with the promised Messiah reigning in the flesh. They hoped he would raise an army, throw off the yoke of Rome and make Israel a great nation again, as it was in the days of David and Saul. When Pilate was questioning Jesus about the charges made against him that he was a king, Christ responded by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”
This verse shows that Christ was not anticipating an early rule or an earthly kingdom, and therefore the charges against him were mistaken. If they were mistaken, the modern theorists are also mistaken.
Peter says that the events on Pentecost—the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of the church or kingdom—ushered in a dispensation known as the last days. In responding to the charge that the apostles were drunk, Peter states “but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel: And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:16-17). Thus the age of the last days is not a period of time in the future, and this does not allow the Premillennial idea of an age on earth to follow this present age.
Jeremiah 22:30 deals a deathblow to the Premillennial theory. Let’s read the context (Jeremiah 22:24-30) as God is warning King Coniah that he is the last of the lineage of David that would ever sit on a throne ruling in Judah.
“As I live, saith Jehovah, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon my right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence; and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life, and into the hand of them of whom thou art afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. And I will cast thee out, and thy mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born; and there shall ye die. But to the land whereunto their soul longeth to return, thither shall they not return. Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? is he a vessel wherein none delighteth? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah.”
What is the significance of this prophecy? Christ cannot occupy a throne, ruling in Jerusalem in Judah, since he is of the lineage of David and of the tribe of Judah. The first chapter of Matthew goes to great lengths to prove Christ’s genealogy. Now, if Coniah was the last of David’s seed to sit on a throne in Judah, there is no way that those who teach Premillennialism can get Christ to sit on David’s throne and rule for a thousand years in Jerusalem. God says it won’t happen! Rather, Christ is now King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling from heaven.
“I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession; that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen” (I Timothy 6:13-16).
Notice that this speaks of Christ’s reigning in the present tense, not in the future as the Premillennial theory would have us believe.
These are not all, but just a few of the glaring contradictions between Premillennialism and the Bible. Let us not be misled by materialistic, Christ-dethroning and Scripture-denying theories and speculations of men. But let us serve him who is now King of kings, who is reigning over his kingdom, and preparing a place for his people. (John 14:1-3) By serving him now, we will be prepared for the judgment to come. "And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There will be no second chance—this will happen once.