Take your Bibles please, and turn to Revelation 20.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such 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)
The first phrase of Revelation 20:7 says, "When the thousand years are expired." The war over the Millennium basically comes down to the view of how you teach Revelation. Is it literal? Does it have symbolic language? Is it symbolic language that should be interpreted as an allegory? This battle has been fought all the way through church history.
In the present century (the twentieth century), the Reformed tradition that usually believes amillennialism has really gone to bat on this to prove their point. Behind this point is what we call replacement theology. Only currently is it being called replacement theology. The basic doctrine of Reformed theology is, that Israel becomes the church in the New Testament. That is where the whole problem starts. All Reformed theologians believe that, and as a result, they become amillennial.
Now the problem here is that in Revelation 20 there is no indication here of such allegorical language. In fact, it is quite the opposite. First, we are told that Satan is bound for a thousand years. He cannot deceive the nations until the thousand years are up. So that does not represent the church age at all. We also have the crowning blow to amillennialism, which is in Revelation 20:4 and following. That is specifically, the martyrs are the martyrs of the Tribulation and they do not reign with Christ until after it. You see, we do have a very serious problem, especially if you think the thousand years is the triumph of the gospel or something else in the present church age, you cannot explain this verse. In fact, almost every amillennial book skips it, because this passage teaches a literal thousand years.
And no, it will not do good to go to 2 Peter 3 and tell us that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. There you have symbolic language: "As a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day." You do not have that here at all.
I do believe that amillennialism stands on a very weak premise. I know that the majority of Christians believe in replacement theology (including the Roman Catholics, Episcopals, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and the Reformed tradition). The majority of Christians, in name, in this world believe in replacement theology (that the church is simply Israel in this present age). I do not believe this.
Let me give you my example. This is not a class in hermeneutics, but in fact, we have to touch on it and I do teach hermeneutics as well. One of the things that you will learn in the science and art of interpretation, is that most Reformed positions interpret the Old Testament in a very allegorical way—if not allegorical, at least symbolical. That is, when they read a verse in the Old Testament, they apply it to the people of God in this age. They will say that the people of God are the same in all ages. No, that is not true. A distinction is clearly made in the New Testament between Jews, Gentiles and the church of God, which is composed of both. We are told that God has not cast away His people Israel in the Book of Romans. If you do believe replacement theology, you will not like my course in Romans. Maybe you should find another teacher. I believe it is very serious. I have debated a number of these men before and I find them totally helpless, inadequate, and insufficient to answer God's word. What they succumb to is a tradition of interpretation. The moment you start that, you become blind to specifics in the Old Testament.
Another thing I have noticed is that there are hardly any Jewish, Bible-believing Christians who believe that view, for obvious reasons. It is a strange matter, is it not? Why do the Jewish Messianic believers not become amillennial? It should be obvious—because they believe that God is not finished with Israel yet. In fact, all of His promises to her will be fulfilled. They are not fulfilled in the church.
Just this week I listened to a Reformed teacher on the radio explaining his position on a passage in the Old Testament that had absolutely nothing to do with his position. He took it out of the context, quoted it for his own ends, never even studied what the context was, or if he did, he ignored it. This happens all the time. I am not here to criticize Reformed guys. They have a lot of great teaching there, but prophecy is not one area of expertise among them. It has become a very serious problem in our country because there are a growing number of them teaching God's people and telling them this.
Now, a part of the problem as to why it is serious is because in the Old Testament you do not see the word "millennium," which is Latin for a thousand years. What you do see are words like "kingdom" and "dominion." You find the belief in the coming kingdom of God on earth taught in the Old Testament, and that is in fact what we mean by the millennium. This is not a new position. All the Jewish rabbinical scholars of the past believed in a coming kingdom on earth. That is why they were fascinated with the teaching of Jesus, because He did what we call kingdom parables. That was very common among the rabbinical teachers, and so people were very fascinated about what He was saying.
Now, it is true that God is king over everything in the Old Testament. In one sense His kingdom rules over all. That is exactly what the Bible teaches us in Psalm 103:19. The word "kingdom" itself is used three-hundred and forty-two times in the Bible (one-hundred and fifty-eight of those in the New Testament). The term, "kingdom of heaven," is used thirty-two times all in the Book of Matthew. The phrase "kingdom of God" is used sixty-nine times. When you add the words "reign" or "rule" you can add another two-hundred and thirty-four usages. The word "throne," referring to Christ, the Messiah's kingdom, refers one-hundred and seventy-six times, including six usages that say "the throne of God."
In His sovereign plan, God, who rules over all and His kingdom is over all, has a visible manifestation of that kingdom, which He is going to set up on earth. All things will be brought under the headship and authority of His Son Jesus Christ, who will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, over the entire earth.
The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1-2)
Many times in the Bible you can recognize the phrase, "the Lord reigneth." In Micah, that we quote at Christmas time for the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, it says:
But thou Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2)
Micah 4:8, preceding that passage, says, "The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem." Zechariah 14:9 says, "The Lord shall be king over all the earth." Following that is the battle of Armageddon. "In that day shall there be one Lord and His name, one." In Zechariah 14:16 it says, "It will come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." Gentile Christians all over the world do not have the foggiest idea that we are going to practice Jewish festivals in the millennium. Instead, they put them down and say, "That was law and not grace," yet they are repeated in the New Testament and point to our Lord Jesus Christ. I do not have sincere belief in Christmas and Easter celebrations with Santa and yuletide and the tree and the ornaments, but I will celebrate any time you want, the virgin birth of our Lord; it does not bother me. I do not believe in Ishtar the Babylonian goddess from which we get Easter; I do not believe in eggs and bunnies and all of that. Every Sunday to me is a Resurrection celebration. He is fulfilling the Feast of First Fruits which is always on Sunday.
When God brought both Jews and Gentiles into the church and began it on the Day of Pentecost, it occurred on a Jewish festival—Shaviot—at which you would wave two loaves of bread as the priest would indicate that there would be one loaf in the future. Jew and Gentile would be one. That happened on the Day of Pentecost and that is always on Sunday as well.
There are a lot of things that bother me about our knowledge. In Daniel 2:44 it says that a coming kingdom of God is going to be set up on earth. This is what it states:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
In Isaiah 11:1-10, we read about how a branch is going to come out of the stem of Jesse, a root. He is going to rule and reign and the whole earth is going to be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Even the Gentiles shall come to Him!
It is interesting to me that all of these great passages about the kingdom of God coming to earth, about the Messiah ruling in Jerusalem in the land of Israel over all the earth, are quoted voluminously in the New Testament. Therefore, it reminds us that it is going to happen. Continuously in the book of Revelation we read these quotes about the coming kingdom and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 32:1 says, "Behold a king shall reign in righteousness."
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this [is the name] wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
He is the branch, the son of David. In the book of Revelation, the seventh angel in the trumpet judgments of Revelation 11:15, announces that "the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Messiah. And He shall reign forever and ever."
And as you know Revelation 19:16 says, "On His thigh is a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
I have done all of that to tell you that it is utter nonsense to believe in amillennialism, and I would say it in front of the greatest teachers in this land. In conversation with them, I think that they know it in their hearts. They may disagree over the timing. I think that pre/post-tribulationism is a more controversial matter, but the issue of the reign of Christ on earth is not a debatable matter. Many men, in studying the Bible, have said that is the theme of the Bible. Our God reigns. His Messiah will reign over the entire earth. That is where history is headed. I cannot wait, and I believe it is all going to come true.
Here is where some of the problems happen. If you are a Reformed theologian or you are part of the majority of Christians, then you have read the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:1-3. In fact, you are usually called a covenant theologian. Now I believe in the covenants. There are not eight of them like listed in the Scofield Reference Bible, I have only found six and I have studied the usage of every passage in the Bible. When we say that Reformed theologians believe in "covenant theology," it comes to mean, "non-dispensational theology." Now, I am also dispensational, and so that may seem a little unusual to you; I am covenantal and dispensational in my theology. I do not believe there are seven dispensations as Scofield says (as mentioned in the Scofield Bible or in the nice book by Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today). I think that it serves as a nice structure or plan, but if you cannot find your verses to prove it, I would check out of it. I am really a weird Bible man. If I do not see it in God's word, I am not going to buy it.
In Ephesians 1:10, there are three dispensations. One, it says that in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Here it is the word oikoumenos, where we get the word, "economy." It is the management of things. "In the dispensation of the fullness of times [or seasons]." It means there is more than one. He is going to gather in one all things unto the headship of Jesus Christ. That means, of course, there is one in which Paul was writing. There also has to be one before him. There also has to be the coming one, the Kingdom Age. There are at least three dispensations. I do not know what the names of them are, even though they are in the books, but I have to see them in the Book.
Why do they get in this mess? The Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12:1-3 is quoted in Galatians 3:6-9. It says, "The gospel was preached beforehand when God made a promise to Abraham in thee shall all families of the earth by blessed." Now please listen carefully. I do not want to misrepresent them. I have heard it enough, and so I do not think that I will. Anyway, I do not want to misrepresent them, nor do I want you to hear something I did not say. What they do is eliminate all that is in the covenant except the phrase, "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Now on this point I agree with them. Does that include the salvation of Gentiles in this present age? Absolutely. That is the point of Galatians 3:6-9. None of us are saved apart from the Abrahamic covenant, and so I agree with them. The problem is that they left out the other facts in the Abraham covenant. They said that because the church becomes Israel, it no longer applies.
In the Abraham covenant it mentions three things: a land, a nation and a blessing upon all the families of the earth. Now what religious group came to America and founded America basically? The Puritans. They came to America (many of them on the Mayflower) and they started it. They are all from the Reformed tradition. I have a copy of all of America's early documents which I bought from the Smithsonian in four giant volumes, and so I read it for myself rather than to hear somebody else tell me about it. That is what I recommend you to do also. Interestingly, Covenant Theology is in all the American documents. You see, this was firmly planted in people's minds. First, the land is America. They called it the New Israel. Second, the nation is the church. And third, the gospel would go to all the Gentiles in this present age. In early American documents you can read over and over again that they really thought this land was the New Israel.
One of the shocks that you will have when you go to South Africa is that they also believe that South Africa is the land of Israel. They believe they are the fulfillment of the nation of Israel. That is why South Africa takes a lot of trips to the Holy Land. Anyway, they try to say South Africa is the New Israel, just like we did when we came to America.
With one little sweep, we ignore what God said. I have never found a detailed discussion of the land of Israel in any covenant book. They mention it briefly and move on; if you cover it in great detail, you are going to be in big trouble believing that it is America, because the dimensions of it are in there and it is not in America. It is in the Middle East. We have some problems.
If you are going to follow the nation aspect of it, you are going to have a real problem getting to America. The best thing I can offer you is that after the Holocaust a lot of people migrated here who were Jewish. Maybe that is how they got here. No, they were not from Nephi or the Laminites or anything else from Mormonism. No, they were not the American Indians. You have some real problems.
The dimensions, or the details, of the Abrahamic covenant (the land, the nation, the coming Messiah who will bless the Gentiles of the world) are also called an everlasting covenant. As a matter of fact the term everlasting covenant and everlasting possession of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was said many times of the land promise. In fact, if you read through the book of Genesis and the whole Torah (especially Genesis) you will discover that the major feature of the Abrahamic covenant is the land—the land of Israel. If you want to understand Israel today, and how the Jewish people think, you had better get that into your head.
What I love to say to my Jewish friends is, "How much land is that?"
"Well, we are doing our best, you know."
"Doesn't that go from the River Euphrates to the River Egypt. Well, that's 1500 miles there."
"We can't—We just—Please."
"Well then, how are you going to get it?"
They do not know. Does not the Bible say that the Messiah will give it to them? The next thing that I tell them usually floors them. I did it in the Temple Institute to the guide, and she was livid with me. I said, "What would you think if I told you that the Temple in the future is going to cover the entire land from the River Euphrates to the River Egypt?" She said that she thought I was crazy.
Did you know that the heavenly Jerusalem which comes down from the sky, absolutely sits exactly on that territory, fifteen-hundred miles on the side? Now, is that not interesting? Did you also know it is going to be on the top of a mountain that will be higher than any other mountain in the entire world? Jerusalem will be elevated. The Holy City will be elevated. The whole world will see it in all its splendor and glory, and if you are a believer, you and I can motor around in that place with ease. The gates are not closed so we can look at the new earth and the new heaven wherein righteousness dwells forever and ever.
In your notes we mentioned what will happen at the Rapture, but what about after the tribulation? What happens before the millennium? Here is where a lot of Christians are confused. Many Christians believe that all believers are going to be resurrected at the Rapture. No, they are not. Only those that are dead in Christ in the church age are going to be raptured. The Old Testament believers are not resurrected until after the tribulation according to Daniel 12. Again, it is after the tribulation when the Old Testament believer is resurrected.
Also, Israel is going to be redeemed. Zechariah 12:10 says, "They will look on Him whom they have pierced." Look also at Romans 11, but you might add Zechariah 13:8-9, which tells you how much of Israel is going to be redeemed. Only one-third of Israel will turn to the Lord. The other two-thirds will rebel against Him, even then, and turn their backs on Him according to Zechariah 13:8-9.
The third thing is the revenge of God against all nations who have come against His people. That is going to happen before the millennium, and is a common theme throughout the Old Testament.
Fourth, we are going to see the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, which we have already talked about. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Now, we are just going to touch base on this and then we will wrap it up. At the end of the millennium, there are a couple of interesting things that happen. One, we have the release of Satan who has been bound during this time. He is let out for a short time. Then he goes out and deceives the nations of the world, to gather against this beautiful New Jerusalem and try to take it. God does not even let them scratch the walls. He sends fire out of heaven and consumes them all. It is "Good-bye devil" as he is sent into the lake of fire forever and ever, where he will join the beast and the false prophet, the antichrist, the false prophet who went there at the end of the tribulation.
Some people ask, "Why in a perfect society, under the reign of Jesus Christ, would God do this?" I think there is one reason, and that is to show us that the problem is in the human heart, not in the environment. What the whole world has taught us all these years is that the problem is outside of ourselves. To this, the Bible says, "No." The problem is in your own heart. There are going to be children born during the millennium. Not every man, woman and child will be killed at the Battle of Armageddon. There will be many people who never even came to that battle. That is who we will rule and reign over. We are not going to rule and reign over ourselves, even though some of you are trying to do that now in the body of Christ, but it will not be allowed in heaven. We are going to rule over many people who go into the millennium. Apparently, from Isaiah 65, they have one hundred years to make up their minds. If they do not bow the knee to the Messiah at the end of those one-hundred years, then they are killed. You might say that the rebellion at the end is a youth movement. At least it is under the age of one-hundred.
Two, we have the setting up of the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the millennium. All wicked dead will stand before God. There are two important things about that. First, it says, "The books [plural] are open." Apparently the deeds are judged.
Is your name in the Lamb's book of life? You say, "Well when I asked Jesus, He wrote it down." No, all of the names that are in the book of life were written before the foundation of the world, according to the Bible. Would you not like to see a page, in order to see if any of your friends are on the list? It would give you a little hope and you can stop witnessing. Why do people think, because of your lifestyle as a Christian, if you kind of bomb out that somehow your name gets removed out of the book of life? It is because of one verse, Revelation 3:5. It does not say that at all, but you interpret it that way. To the church at Sardis, He said, "I will not erase your name out of the book of life." People say, "Well, see. He might." No, it did not say that. It said that He would not do that. Some people take it as a wonderful promise and others take it as a warning. It is very interesting.
It is "to him that overcometh." How do you overcome? By scoring points with God, running around church thirty-six times, and attend at least (I would say) seven classes. That will get you in. No, none of that! Who is the overcomer? 1 John 5:3-4 tells you, "This is he who overcomes: He who believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God." So it is a promise to all the overcomers. "I will never erase your name out of the book." Are you not glad of that? Of course, we do not know if you are in yet.
The question is, "Will the kingdom of God continue or is there some nebulous thing, where we just sit on white clouds the rest of our life?" The kingdom of God is going to continue. That beautiful city will continue, and there will be no more sickness, sin, suffering, death, and sorrow. All tears will be wiped away. All things will be brand new forever and ever. Amen.
The last prayer of the Bible is, "even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Father, we thank You for the privilege that we have had to study the person and work of Jesus Christ, our Lord. It would be sad to think a student sat in here all semester and yet has never bowed the knee to Him or confessed that He is Lord. It is easy for us to go along and pick up all the nomenclature and do everything that we think Christians are supposed to do, but in our hearts be characterized by what Jesus said to religious leaders of His day: "Your heart is far from Me." None of us want to hear Him say, "Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity; I never knew you." I pray that learning about our blessed Lord has drawn us to a new appreciation that the central fact of all of Christianity is Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Everything else pales into insignificance in the light of His glory, majesty and soon return. Lord, I pray that this will make a difference in the way we live: in our witnessing and in our walk before others. Thank You, Lord, for what You have done, for giving us this opportunity to just look into Your word and examine these great doctrines. Where good people disagree, help us, Lord, to be agreeable. To agree to disagree and still love each other when it is a non-essential. Help us also to stand firm when it is an essential of salvation. Thank You, Lord, for all You have done. Bless the students as they continue to finish up this semester. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.