Why I Left The Premillennial Camp
In the course of my studies, it has become evident that many great and notable theologians of Baptist descent have held varying opinions on the order of future events while holding very tenaciously together on all other matters. If there is any area in which liberty must be exercised to maintain unity and fellowship, it is in the study of prophesy and end time events. Even our Lord when addressing a direct question from his beloved disciples concerning their perception that His establishment of an earthly kingdom was imminent, did not burden them with unproductive knowledge which could have generated misunderstanding or strife. He simply told them that it was not necessary for them to know these things. Instead, He redirected their attention and energy to the immediate need of evangelizing the world.(Acts 1:6-8).
Had the Lord on that, or any other such occasion, indicated a complete understanding or unified consensus of the order of future events been required for discipleship, or even for fellowship, I would be as rigorous in their study, defense, and promotion as I am in those things which He clearly taught and required. This is not to say that I do not consider them as important or that I never study them. I do on both counts. But I believe that those things which are of the GREATER importance, must claim the higher priority.
As I try to explain and document my personal eschatological persuasions, please do not think that I am attempting to “convert you to my views” or that I am in any way demeaning or ridiculing your views. I am not attempting either. I simply want to share with you these things as I perceive them, with the hope that through an open minded exchange of information, and the help of the Spirit, we can come together in a better understanding. If it were not for the undue importance placed on these events by some teachers and churches, I would seldom, if ever, speak very much in depth concerning them. I enjoy the intellectual pursuit of these subjects, but have found them to be too intense for most public worship services. It is impossible to assess the damage that has been done in churches by preachers who dwell continually upon this subject because of its intense emotional nature, and yet have only limited knowledge of the weightier matters of salvation, personal holiness, and church truths. If, as I go through this explanation, I misrepresent or misunderstand your position on any detail, please forgive me for it will not be intentional. I readily admit my ignorance and inability to justly represent any of these views.
In order to establish a common ground of reference, I would like to establish some basic study rules, then define and explain the four (4) leading eschatological views as I understand them. After this explanation, I will endeavor to explain my personal views and why I was forced to abandon a premillennial position.
Before undertaking an explanation of the various eschatological views, and why I left premillennialism, let me establish a few study rules which are necessary for any correct understanding of God’s word.
My approach to studying the Scriptures and interpreting their meaning is structured around some very simple and basic rules:
1- BE IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH PRAYER.
2- HAVE AN OPEN MIND. If you start with a concept that you only want to support a preconceived idea, you will not be receptive to leadership and you will only become more entrenched in a possible misunderstanding.
3- Determine WHO IS DOING THE SPEAKING. For Moses to demand the stoning of one who gathered sticks on the “Sabbath” (the Jewish day of rest which was Saturday) is quite different than if the Apostle Paul were to make the same demand.
4- Determine WHO IS BEING SPOKEN TO. To teach a regenerated disciple that “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24) is quite right and acceptable. But for Peter to have told that to the questioning Jews on the day of Pentecost when they cried “men and brethren, what shall we do?”, would have been an awful and unforgiving misrepresentation of truth.
5- Determine WHY IT IS BEING SAID. To read the account of God’s command for the destruction of all the people, the animals and goods given to Joshua and the army of Israel as they went in to take the land of Canaan would tend to make God sound like a blood thirsty tyrant who had no regard for humanity. But when we understand that these people had been involved in heathen worship rituals which involved every kind of illicit sexual act with each other as well as animals, we can understand that disease and degradation had spread to the land, the animals, and to everything they had touched. We can also see that in order to rid the countryside of this awful blight, a total annihilation and burning with fire was the only method. After all, God had given the Canaanites over four hundred years to fill their iniquity, and his promise to Israel was that they would dwell safely and healthy in the promised land. He knew what He was doing even if the armies of Israel didn’t! The so- called Holy Crusades of the Dark Ages were fought with the same merciless brutality intending to destroy the “heretics” and to purge out the land, yet God gave no such command.
6- Determine WHEN IT WAS SAID. The command to look at the Brazen Serpent and live was the right instruction in the middle of the wilderness when the people were dying from serpent bites. But, when Hezekiah found the people looking to that very same brazen serpent for some religious purpose, he rebuked them and destroyed the object saying “its just a piece of brass”.
7- Consider THE PREVAILING ENVIRONMENT. By this I do not mean that circumstances change truth. I simply mean that to understand the scripture, it must be considered within the environment which it applies. For instance. When Paul wrote the Roman letter and said “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”, that is truth no matter when it is spoken. But, when taken in the light of the prevailing environment, it was a MONUMENTAL statement. At that time, the Christian religion was hated and its followers were persecuted and many times killed. To make that public declaration was to sign your own death warrant. Your family would disown you and cut you off from all relationships, you would be subject to confiscation of your property and generally be scoffed at openly by all members of the community. Today, the statement is still true but because of the prevailing environment of religious liberty and toleration, the vast majority of folks making that public profession with their mouth have never felt the overwhelming heartfelt conviction of true belief that would produce the same confession under conditions similar to those at the time Paul wrote the Roman letter. Consequently, many have been deceived into a false hope.
8- Once the first seven steps have been satisfied, I apply the rule of Literal Interpretation. I assume the Bible means exactly what it says. Generally if the first rules have been followed, the context along with common sense will indicate if it should or should not be interpreted literally. This becomes difficult in prophetic statements where it seems that part is literal while part is obviously symbolic. For example: To completely literalize the 20th chapter of Revelation would be to mean “A literal angel came down from a literal heaven with a literal key in his literal hand and a literal chain in his other hand. He literally got hold of a dragon and he literally wrapped the chain around that dragon and bound him up for a literal period of 1000 years. He cast him into a literal bottomless pit and closed a literal door of some sort and put a literal seal upon the dragon (or the door?) that he could not come out for the literal 1000 years” Can you 100% tell me which parts are literal and which parts are symbolic? I can’t! Context and common sense are a part of literal interpretation.
9- I also apply the Rule Of First Mention. The first time the scriptures speak to a subject, that should be the same interpretations used in other passages, unless common sense or the scripture themselves demand otherwise. For instance: In Genesis chapter 1 where the literal creation of the world is described, God says that he created light and separated it from darkness and that the evening and the morning were the first day. From this I understand that a day consists of one period of light and one period of darkness. I therefore believe that when the Bible says a day, it means a 24 hour period. I cannot then support the liberal and false view that the earth is “millions” of years old based on the premise that “a day is with the Lord as a thousand years”. The fifth verse of Genesis specifically says “the evening and the morning were the first day.” If I am unclear on a passage I always try to find its original introduction to the scriptures.
10. The Rule Of No Private Interpretation. It is very easy to try to make a scripture say what you want it to in order to support a private or “pet” belief. All scripture MUST harmonize. If it doesn’t, there is something wrong with your interpretation. The basic building block is to compare questionable scriptures to those which are plain and unquestionable and then interpret in the light which is plain to see. For instance, the other day a lady told me she had been saved “again”. I asked her how many times this made and she said this was the third time. I asked her how this could be in light of the scriptures. She said that she just couldn’t hold on and live it, and that she was not one of those “eternal security” people like me. She said that Hebrews 6: 4-6 supported her belief that it was possible to fall away. I said that was all right, if she wants to believe that she could lose her salvation, but that if she did lose it once, she could never regain it because Hebrews 6:4-6 plainly says “For it is impossible, for those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift…If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame”. I said that regardless of how she viewed the security of the believer, these scriptures are clear that it is impossible to be saved twice, and that if she had indeed lost her salvation, she was hopeless!
11. Always remember Jesus Christ Is The Central Theme Of The Entire Book. All scripture must be viewed as it relates to the person and work of the central character in the book. To lose sight of this prevailing thought will result in distorted perception and ultimate misunderstanding.
12. There are other guidelines that I may employee as the interpretation requires, but they would be in conjunction with those already mentioned.
The word “Millennium” is derived from two Latin words, mille, meaning thousand, and annum, meaning year. Hence the literal meaning is a thousand years. The term is found just six (6) times in the Scriptures, all in the first seven verses of the twentieth chapter of Revelation, an admittedly difficult and highly symbolical portion of scripture. The prefixes Post-. A-, and PRE- as used with the word designates the particular view held regarding the thousand years. Premillennalists take the word literally, holding that Christ will set up a Kingdom on earth which will continue for precisely that length of time.
Postmillennialists and Amillennialists take the word figuratively, as meaning an indefinitely long period, held by some to be part and by others to the whole of the Christian era.
Postmillennialism is that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit, that the world will eventually be Christianized, and that the return of Christ will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the Millennium.
This view is, of course, to be distinguished from that optimistic but false view of human betterment and progress held by the Modernist and Liberals which teaches that the Kingdom of God on earth will be achieved through a natural process by which mankind will be improved and social institutions will be reformed and brought to a higher level of culture and efficiency. This latter view presents a distorted view of Postmillennialism, and regards the Kingdom of God as the product of natural laws and an evolutionary process, whereas orthodox Postmillennialism regards the Kingdom of God as the product of the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in connection with the preaching of the gospel.
As with all views, there are a number of variations which when examined will support the fact that no eschatological system is held 100% by it advocates. It is only out of an attempt to have a convenient peg on which to hang my thoughts that I classify myself as an Amillennialist. I do not hold to all the “classical” ideas, and therefore, if you will allow me, I will define Amillennialism from my personal perspective.
The name Amillennial is unfortunate in that it would seem that its advocates do not believe in the thousand year period of Revelation 20. But the real truth is that I believe that the millennium is a spiritual or heavenly millennium rather than an earthly one of a literal reign of Christ on earth before the final judgement. I am mindful of the fact that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is represented as an eternal and not as a temporal Kingdom (Is. 9:7; Dan 7:14; Luke 1:33; Heb. 1:8; 12:28; II Peter 1:11, Rev. 11:15;etc.) and that to enter the Kingdom of the future is to enter one’s eternal state (Matt. 7: 21,22; 24:31-46) by a resurrection in which we do now pass from death unto life (John 5: 24-27), and that those having thus experienced that first resurrection: “on such the second death hath no power” (Rev. 20:6). I agree with premillennial views that the scriptures do not promise the conversion of the world through the preaching of the gospel and that there will be a mixture of good and evil right up to the time of the second coming. I expect the elect to be gathered out of an evil world, although I believe that the command of Christ to evangelize the world must be obeyed, and that it is our duty to endeavor to establish a Christian society so far as it is in our power to do so. I agree with postmillennialism that the coming of Christ ushers in the last judgement and the eternal state. I believe that preceding the coming of Christ there will be a wide spread apostasy from the true faith, climaxed in the manifestation of great wickedness by Antichrist. Thus the final great rebellion against Christ will be overthrown at the personal appearing of the Son of God, who will come from heaven to take unto Himself His own people and to demolish the forces of Antichrist. The wicked dead will be raised to judgement. The earth and its works will be overwhelmed in fire and a new heavens and a new earth will appear in which only righteousness will dwell.
With regards to my overall view of the book of Revelation, I believe that God led the Seerer of Patmos to present here a brief summary of the entire Gospel dispensation, from the first advent of Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to have come down from heaven until the second advent, when the kingdom which he founded shall be established in ALL its glory.
Concerning the figure of one thousand years as mentioned in Revelation 20, I believe it represents a definite period of time, measured by and known to God himself. It is the cycle of time extending from our Lords first advent to the day of His return. It consists of the period during which the souls of the departed saints reign with Christ. That is what they are doing now. This heavenly reign of theirs is described as the “first resurrection”. It is with regard to this phrase I think many people have become confused, for they think that a resurrection must mean the rising of the body. To be sure, that is a sense in which we commonly use the word, but the New Testament speaks very definitely and in many places of the rising of those who have been dead in trespasses and sins to a newness of life. In John 5:21-27 Jesus is unquestionably talking about a resurrection and he relates its occasion to the exercise of faith in Him by the hearer and goes on to say that its result is an immediate passing from death unto life, never again to come into condemnation (v.24). He goes on in v.25 to pinpoint the time as NOW when the dead (in sin) can hear and live. And then, in order to add to the impact of the statement concerning a Spiritual resurrection, he tells them in v.28 not to be surprised at this for there is a time coming when the bodies of those in the graves will come forth in a physical resurrection and an eternal separation will then take place. When the regenerated soul leaves the body at physical death and goes to be with Christ, the Spiritual resurrection has reached its culmination, for then the redeemed soul lives and reigns with Christ…This is the first resurrection and the figure of a thousand years represents the period during which they are to reign and live with Him, leading up to His return with them.
The Historic Premillennial view holds that the second coming of Christ will be followed by a period of world- wide peace and righteousness, before the end of the world, and that during this “Kingdom of God”, Christ will reign as King in person on this earth.
Premillennialist are divided into various groups by their views of the exact order of events associated with the second coming, but they all agree in holding that there will be a literal kingdom on earth after the second coming of Christ but before the end of the world.
Historic Premillennialism does not hold to a secret rapture nor does it hold to a tribulation period after the rapture. This view holds that the Christians who constitute the Church go through the Tribulation (not necessarily 7 years, no time is specified, a 7 year period is unique to Dispensational Premillennialism) and are exposed to its afflictions. At the end of this period, Christ comes with great power and glory to rise the righteous dead and to rapture the saints who are caught up to meet him in the air but who almost immediately return with Him as He comes to destroy Antichrist in the battle of Armageddon and establish His Kingdom.
Historic Premillennialism holds that the coming of Christ will be preceded by certain recognizable signs, such as the preaching of the gospel to all nations, a great apostasy, wars, famines, earthquakes, the appearance of the Antichrist or Man of Sin, and the Great Tribulation.
This view of the end time events is similar to the Historic view in many areas. Both systems hold the following points in common:
1. The Kingdom of God is not now in the world, and that it will not be instituted until Christ returns.
2. That it is not the purpose of the present gospel age to convert the world to Christianity, but rather to preach the gospel as a witness to the nations and so to warn them of and make them justly subject to judgement; also to gather out of all nations God’s elect, the Church saints.
3. That the world is growing worse and will continue to grow worse until Christ comes to establish His Kingdom.
4. That immediately preceding the return of Christ there is to be a period of general apostasy and wickedness.
5. That we are now in the later stages of the Church age and that the return of Christ is near, probably to occur within the lifetime of the present generation.
6. That at Christ coming the righteous dead of all ages are to be raised in the resurrection.
7. That before and during the tribulation period the Jews are to be restored to the land of Palestine.
8. That at the mere sight of their Messiah the Jews are to turn to Him in a national conversion and true repentance.
9. That Christ at His coming destroys the Antichrist and all his forces in the Battle of Armageddon.
10. That after the battle of Armageddon Christ establishes a world wide Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital, in which He and the resurrected and transfigured saints rule for a thousand years in righteousness, peace and prosperity.
11. That during the Millennium Satan is to be bound, cast into the abyss, and shut away from the earth.
12. That at the end of the Millennium Satan is to be loosed for a short time.
13. That the forces of wickedness are to be destroyed by fire which is cast down upon them from heaven.
14. The wicked dead of all ages are then to be raised unto judgement and cast with the Devil and his angels into the lake of fire.
15. That heaven and hell are then introduced in their fullness, with the new heavens and the new earth as the future home of the redeemed, which will constitute the future state.
Although these many common points are held, there is a vast difference between the two systems. Dispensational Premillennialism is characterized by its dividing of all history into “dispensations” (generally 7) in which man is tested in regard to certain principles of obedience. It is unique to dispensationalist to segment into exact time sequences all future events. While all other views do indeed acknowledge the existence of these events, they are not structured nor confined to absolute periods of time.
One distinct doctrine of Dispensational Premillennialism is that when Christ was on earth at the time of the first advent He offered the Kingdom to the Jews but they rejected it; it was then withdrawn until the time of His second coming, and the Church, an institution altogether new and not foreseen nor predicted by the Old Testament prophets, was established instead as a temporary substitute for the Kingdom.
As regards the second coming of Christ, the primary difference between Historic Premillennialism and Dispensationalism relates to the question whether or not the Church goes through the Tribulation, that is, whether the Rapture occurs at the beginning or at the close of the Tribulation. Historic views hold that they do go through the Tribulation while all Dispensationalist hold that the rapture occurs either before (if you’re a PRE) or in the middle (if you’re a MID) of a Great Tribulation period which will last for exactly 7 years.
Dispensationalist uniquely hold that at Christ’s return He will “secretly” rapture the dead and living saints to meet Him in the air where they remain for the 7 year duration of the Tribulation. During that time the Antichrist rules on the earth and the dreadful woes spoken of in the book of Revelation, chapters 4 through 19, fall on the remaining inhabitants of the earth. According to Dispensational views, nothing in Revelation chapters 4 through 20 has yet been fulfilled; all of it belongs to the future and will not even begin to happen until after the Rapture. During this period, the Antichrist, in accordance with Daniel 9:27, will have made alliance with the Jews and allowed them to reinstitute the Temple worship and the animal sacrifice. Then after 3 1/2 years he will turn on them and cause them to stop their sacrifices and set himself up as the Messiah, thus fulfilling Daniel’s 70th week and completing the prophesy. At the end of the 7 year period, Christ and His saints return to earth. Antichrist and his forces, who are persecuting the Jews and have them shut up at Jerusalem, will be destroyed in the battle of Armageddon and the millennial Kingdom will be set up on earth. The Jews are to be converted at the mere sight of their Messiah and they as the Lord’s “brethren” are to have the most prominent and favored place in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom is to be a period of exactly 1000 years and is to be characterized by a peaceful reign of Christ sitting upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. Although the evil nature of man has not been eradicated, it is held in check by the stern “rule of iron” as Satan is “bound” for almost the entire duration of the Kingdom. The earth is at peace, the curse upon nature has been lifted, and all creatures are living in harmony and mutual productivity. Toward the end of this peaceful period, Satan is released from his bonds and allowed to go forth and deceive the nations.
Since the depraved nature of man has not been removed and sin is still in his heart, many (yet I would think all since their nature has not been changed) will follow Satan in one last great attempt to overthrow the Son of God. In the middle of this insurrection, God will rain down fire and brimstone from heaven and destroy the forces of evil for ever. The White Throne Judgement will then take place at which time all unbelievers from all ages will be sentenced to the second death and cast into the eternal Lake of Fire with the Devil and his angels. The present earth and heavens will then be destroyed and a new order without sin will be established upon the newly formed earth.
As can be seen from this basic overview of the four leading eschatological systems, even though they are widely different in their approach to the order and timing of future events, all have their points of merit. As one becomes more studied in these various aspects of eschatology, he will certainly become more stable in his own theology and feel less threatened by those who may hold dissenting views. But even more importantly, he will see his own potential for error and will thus become more tolerant of his brethren who may view these prophesies from a different level of perception.
WHY I LEFT THE PREMILLENNIAL POSITION
First of all let me say that it was with great anguish of mind and soul that I was forced by my findings to leave thirty years of teaching from my father and other truly great Baptist preachers. But, I firmly believe that if we seek light from God and He gives us that light, WOE BE UNTO US IF WE DO NOT WALK IN IT!
In 1980 when God finally got me where He wanted me and I had truly yielded my entire life and being over to Him, I became totally absorbed in the Scriptures and the study of Baptist history. When not at work or asleep, I was studying! I had to know beyond any shadow of a doubt that Baptists were right and that I did not believe these great and wonderful Baptist doctrines simply because my father and others had instructed me that way. I had to know that the believer was secure in Christ and that once a child of God, always a child of God. I had to know that our beliefs on baptism, communion, church authority, sanctification, inherent depravity, election, and all those other wonderful teachings were REALLY right. Right to the point that, if need be, I could boldly and unflinchingly lay down my life in their defense. But more importantly, that I could in good and clear conscience teach them to my son and daughter.
Through the course of that study it became absolutely clear that every Baptist, Anabaptist, Mennonite, Waldensian, Albiginian, and all other historic groups of true Christians held exactly the same doctrinal position as I had been taught, except for oneposition. NO WHERE could I find in history a group of people beyond 50 years ago that put forth any Articles of Faith or Confessions of Faith that included something other than the belief in a general judgement and a general resurrection. Most were specific, but all that I could find supported that when the Lord returned, there would be one resurrection of all the dead and then a final separation. As I pondered these findings I WAS CONFUSED!! After all, the Scofield Bible version I had always used said explicitly that there were 3 distinct resurrections in the future. (Scofield Bible, Note on I Cor.15:52, p.1228). Not only did Scofield say there were 3 resurrections, he said there was 1007 years between them. One for the saints before the Tribulation, one at the end of the 7 year Tribulation for the “Tribulation Saints” and another at the end of the 1000 year millennium. I did not understand how every group of people in our Baptist heritage had failed to mention this fact or make note of it in their Confessions of Faith!.
Please see the following Confessions of Faith for documentation: Copies of all in their original form can be found in Baptist Confessions of Faith by William Lumpkin -Judson Press.
1. Anabaptist Confession at Rattenberg in 1527, Article 12.
2. Waterland Confession of 1580, Article XL.
3. Dordrecht Confession of 1632, Article XVIII.
4. English Baptist Confession of 1596, Articles 16 & 17 .
5. English Baptist Confession of 1609, Articles 19 & 20.
6. Dutch Anabaptist Confession of 1610, Article 38.
7. London Anabaptist Confession of 1644, Article XX.
8. Midland (England) Confession of 1655, Article 16.
9. London Confession of 1677, Articles, XXXI & XXXII.
10. Philadelphia (America) Confession of 1742, Articles XXXIII & XXXIV.
11. Kehukee Association of 1777, Article 14.
12. Sandy Creek Association of 1816, Article V.
13. New Hampshire Confession Of Faith in 1833, Article XVI.
14. J. Newton Browns Church Manual, 1853. Article XVIII.
15. J.M. Pendletons Church Manual adopted the New Hampshire Articles in 1867. Article XVIII.
16. E.T. Hiscox Church Manual adopted the New Hampshire Articles in 1890. Article XVIII.
17. Landmark Baptist Churches organized the General Association of Baptist Churches in 1902 (now the ABA) and adopted the New Hampshire Confession.Article XVIII.
18. In 1933 a group of about 50 churches split off from the ABA and formed the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. They adopted the New Hampshire Confession exactly in all points EXCEPT they changed the last article to reflect a premillennial interpretation.
There are a number of others I could have listed, but for the sake of time and space, these should be sufficient.
Needless to say, once I had these facts before me, I could not ignore them. Something did not add up. As I began to read and study the relative passages, I could see that the real difference lay somewhere in this 1007 year period. I began to study my Scofield Bible because he had it laid out so neatly, orderly, and matter of factly that I wanted to know just where these time periods came from. Well, the 1000 year reign was easy, the only place it was spoken of was the 20th chapter of Revelation. His explanations all sounded plausible, even though I still did not begin to understand it all. Yet, there were some things that really bothered me. He and others kept talking about an earthly Kingdom described as a place where the righteous and the wicked (and they were wicked for their nature had NOT been changed), and the corruptible and the incorruptible dwelt in harmony in the presence of a glorious Savior whose holy character could no more tolerate the presence of sin than light could tolerate darkness. A kingdom was described where the earth was at peace, all nature flourished in harmony, and even the wild beast were as docile as the farm animals. Yet, I was told that in the middle of all of this, the Jewish Temple worship had been reinstituted and innocent animals were being sacrificed even though Jesus had ended that economy by his own death when the rending of the Vail of the Temple was a public declaration by God that He would no longer accept or honor those sacrifices that could never take away sin. God had by that act of rending the Temple Vail, declared that the death of His Son was now sufficient forever, and all those temporary measures were nailed to the cross of Calvary. I had a great deal of trouble with this concept of reinstituting the Temple worship and sacrifices, but at least I understood the origin of the 1000 year period and what supposedly going to happen then.
Next, I began to look for the seven year period which was to be a time of Great Trouble and leading into the earthly kingdom. Every reference I could find in the Scofield Bible and other popular supporters of a 7 year period, lead me back to Daniel 9:27. Oh, there were other scriptures that were indicated as supportive of the 7 year period, but they all went back to Daniel 9:27 as an original source.
For instance. Hal Lindsey’s book THE RAPTURE gives the following on page-107:
“The first seal unleashes the Antichrist to go forth and establish his control upon the earth. He will begin the seven years Tribulation by signing a covenant guaranteeing Israel’s security and the middle East’s peace. (Daniel 9:27)”
Then he says on page-109:
1. Israel will be at peace under the Antichrist’s protection (Daniel 9:27)
- Israel has reinstituted the sacrifices of the Mosaic law and rebuilt her temple (Daniel 9:27 cp. Matthew 24:15-20)…
- This war has to begin when ‘the Abomination of Desolation’ predicted by Daniel in 9:27 is set up in the holy of holies of the Jerusalem temple.(Matthew 24:15). Jesus Christ is the one who says to the believing Jews of that day to flee the city to a prepared place of safety. (Revelation 12:6, 13:-17) because ‘there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be… We know absolutely that ‘the abomination of desolation’ is set up in the middle of the seven year Tribulation (Daniel 9:27)”
It was obvious to me from this, as well as Scofield’s references, that this verse in Daniel was one of the most important in all the prophesies. It seemed as though every event that was predicted to befall the earth after the first resurrection and before the 1000 year kingdom was going to take place in this short span of 7 years, I was amazed that the only substantial scripture reference of support offered was Daniel 9:27. Somehow our Baptist ancestors must have missed this when they wrote in all those Confessions of Faith that they believed in a general judgement and a general resurrection!
I began to study the 9th chapter of Daniel to see if I could understand the relation of the 27th verse to the rest of the chapter and how it indicated a 7 year period. What I found out was that the circumstance of the 9th chapter was where Daniel had realized through studying the books of the prophet Jeremiah that “the seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” was about complete (Dan.9:2) and so Daniel had set about to seek God and find out what was going to happen to the city of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:3-19).
While he was praying, an angel was sent to give him skill and understanding as related to his request about what was going to happen to Jerusalem (v.20-23).
The angel showed Daniel a vision of 70 weeks and gave him a breakdown of certain events that would fall at certain times relative to the rebuilding, the appearance of the long awaited Messiah, and the ultimate final destruction of the city. I searched through every commentary and reference book I could find, and they all agreed (even Scofield) that the 70 weeks were actually “sevens of years, seventy weeks of seven years” (Scofield reference Bible p.914. et.al).
The first division is of seven weeks (49 years) and was to begin at the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem. The rebuilding would take forty-nine years. After that 49 year period, an additional 434 years would mark the appearance of the Messiah. A total of 69 weeks.
The events recorded in Daniel 9:24 as requiring 70 weeks (490 years) to complete, would culminate in the last week or 7 years. Verse 25 gives the time breakdown for those 69 weeks, ending in the appearance of Messiah, and then immediately leads into verse 26 which indicates ” the cutting off of Messiah…” (v.26). Here is where the problem begins…Scofield, and all others I read as holding for a future 7 year period, said, “Verse 26 is obviously an indeterminate period” (Scofield Bible p.914). Scofield and others go on to say that after the 69th week, time stopped in Gods prophetic clock and will not begin the last or 70th week until some future time. They therefore interpret “the cutting off of Messiah”, which is obviously the meaning of verse 26 and unquestionably took place at Christ’s crucifixion, as having no bearing on the events of verse 24.
I understood from every Bible principle that I had ever learned, that the center of the Law, all Prophesy, and all Scripture was Jesus Christ; and that every relation to the human race as God would deal with them was centered in His person. I understood that the most monumental event in the history of humanity was the sacrificial death of the Lamb of God for the remission of sins, and that at His death the covenant of eternal remission of sin and the way into everlasting righteousness was made open to mankind. I further understood that single event would make reconciliation for iniquity. There was no possible way for me to believe that the events of verse 26 had failed to fulfill verse 24. I WAS REALLY CONFUSED NOW BECAUSE THINGS WERE JUST NOT ADDING UP AS I HAD BEEN TAUGHT!
I got some reference Bibles, other than Scofield, and laid them out to Daniel the 9th chapter and began to follow their scripture references as related to verses 26 and 27. The first one I picked up (Thompson Chain Reference) left me in a state of shock!
Mr. Scofield said: “Verse 27 deals with the last week. The ‘he’ of verse 27 is the ‘prince that shall come’ of verse 26, whose people destroyed the temple in A.D. 70. He is the same with the ‘little horn’ of Daniel chapter 7. He will covenant with the Jews to restore their temple sacrifices for one week (seven years), but in the middle of the time he will break the covenant and fulfill Daniel 12:11…”(Scofield Bible,p.913). A reference to Scofield’s note on Daniel 7:9 says that the “little horn” is the Antichrist or The Beast. It was unquestionable that Scofield was attributing all of verse 27 to an ungodly act of Antichrist and that he was placing it at some unknown future date.
Mr. Thompson, on the other hand, gave the following scripture references in the margin with regard to verse 27: “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: ‘p.p. Ro.15.8 ; Ga.3.17’….and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, ‘p.p. He.10.4-22′”
When I followed these references, I found them all to refer to the completed work of Christ upon the cross! It was evident that one of these men was WRONG. Their conclusions were as far apart as East is from West! What was I going to do? If Thompson was right, then Scofield, and others, were taking a glorious prophesy that had been culminated in the eternal work of redemption that was accomplished by our Lord there upon Calvary, and was giving that glory to the Antichrist. He was disregarding the fulfilling of the first covenant and the institution of the New Covenant in favor of supporting a questionable 7 year period. I had to know more.
I then looked at a Zondervan Bible (Copyright 1928 by: John C. Winston) and found the following scripture reference at Daniel 9:27. “See Matt. 26:28″. As I turned to Matt. 26:28, I read ” For this is my blood, of the new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.” This reference Bible also explicitly said that the confirming of the covenant was an act of Christ, not Antichrist! There was no turning back now, I could not live on the horns of this dilemma. I had to settle it in my mind until I had peace from the Lord.
As I looked at verse 27 in the new light of the fulfilling of the covenant by Jesus, instead of by the Antichrist, I immediately realized the logic and impact of what was being said. The first 69 weeks (483 years) had ended at the banks of the Jordan River with the public appearance of Messiah and the beginning of His ministry. For the next three and one half years He confirmed the Mosaic covenant by fulfilling every jot and title of the Law, and proving himself to be the Son of God and the only acceptable sacrifice for a total and complete remission of sin. It was because of the necessity of Christ confirming this covenant that Satan tempted him in the wilderness and all other manner of temptation came upon him. If He were to break the Law in just onesingle point, He would disqualify himself and never be able to take away the sin of the world. But He did confirm the Old Covenant tenets which said “do these commands and live”, by living them to their every requirement for 3 1/2 years in full public view. He proved the Holy character of the Law and established himself as the only acceptable Lamb of God, without spot or blemish! Therefore, the law had no claims upon Him.
While confirming that Old Covenant, He was at the same time introducing the New Covenant and teaching its principal of “live (through faith in Him) and then you will be able to do those commands which the law required, but could never give the power to obey.” (Jeremiah 31:31- 34 ; Hebrews 9:11-15 & Heb. 10:9-20). It was in the middle of this 70th week of covenant confirming (3 1/2 years after its start) that he was “cut off, but not for himself.” The last 3 1/2 years were spent confirming the New Covenant with the Jews by great signs and wonders, wrought through the Holy Spirit in the Church, (which by the way was an entirely Jewish population) until we find Peter going to Cornelius and ushering in “the times of the Gentiles.”
It was now evident to me that Daniel 9:27 was talking about Messiah and that He was the one who “caused the sacrifices and oblation to cease”.
If all this were true, and I was now convinced that it was, how did it relate to Jesus’s statement in Matt. 24:15-16, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:). Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:” My own father had told me that this was Jesus personal verification that there was going to be a seven year Tribulation and that the Antichrist would stand in the Holy Temple during that time. The reference was of course Daniel 9:27. What was Jesus talking about?
As I applied my rules of study to the entire 24th chapter of Matthew, I came to the following understanding:
Jesus was talking to his Disciples as they were leaving the Temple. The disciples began to point out how beautiful the structure was that they (the Jews) had built and were no doubt making great praise of it. Jesus, to bring their thoughts back to reality and to show them the insignificance of material objects flatly states that the temple would be so utterly destroyed that not one stone would be left on another. Well, the disciples wanted to know when this was going to happen and what “signs” they could expect to announce its advent. Their big mistake was that when they asked the question, they ASSUMED the temple would stand until the end of the world, so they phrased the question with that intent in mind. “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” They did not realize that Jerusalem would be destroyed LONG before the end of the world. And so Jesus begins to tell them what things they might expect to see relative to the original conversation as to the destruction of the temple. He says basically that Daniel had dealt with the same question and that his prophesy was sure. Remember what Daniel had asked God as he prayed? He wanted to know what was to be the final end of Jerusalem. The answer lies in the last part of Dan. 9:27.
The last portion of Daniel 9:27 reads “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” There were two things immediately obvious to me. 1) If the “he” was Christ then the destruction was going to be a result of something to do with Christ. But if the “he” was Antichrist then the destruction was going to be a an act initiated by Satan. 2) The “overspreading of abomination” was not a person, but was a “thing or an act” which had caused or brought on the destruction of the city by the individual spoken of as the “he” of this verse.
With this thought in mind, I returned to Matthew 24:15 and understood that what Jesus was saying was “when you see the appalling sacrilege in the temple, know that the desolation of this city is near, and that it is because of this sacrilege that the desolation is coming”.
Finally, I understood what had really caused the total destruction of Jerusalem. When Christ presented Himself as the Messiah, He was the Hope which had been promised. Every offering, every ritual, and every animal sacrifice offered throughout all time had been only a shadow and a picture pointing to Him. All the blood of those millions of animals had never taken away one single sin but were only temporary substitutes for the true Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. His death would finish the transgression. His death would seal up the prophesy. His death would make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness. But they, the Jews, resisted and rejected Him and cried out “we have no King but Caesar, Crucify Him and let his blood be upon us and our children!” And so they did! And when he died upon that cross, the Old Covenant was closed out, PAID IN FULL. The New Covenant was signed, sealed, and delivered by the blood of Him who promised to do so in eternity passed, even before the fallen humanity was created. God was SATISFIED with the payment and declared his ending of that Old Covenant by rending the Vail of the Temple from top to bottom. By doing so He declared that He would never again accept an animal substitute for the covering of sin, but that the blood of His son would now be the ONLY acceptable means of approach to Him.
But the unbelieving Jewish nation refused that New Covenant, they sewed up the rent veil and went right on making those horrible animal sacrifices, choosing to remain in bondage to a law that could never set them free (Gal.4:25). Can you imagine the anger and disgust that God must have felt as those people continued, day after day, month after month, year after year, to come to the Temple bringing those animals to Him and treading under foot the precious, redeeming blood which His own son had FREELY given for them? Oh, how true the words of Jesus when he looked over Jerusalem and wept crying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which were sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not” Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
THE CONTINUED OFFERING OF ANIMAL SACRIFICES AND THE BLATANT REJECTION OF THE LAMB OF GOD WAS THE ABOMINATION WHICH APPEARED IN THE TEMPLE CAUSING GOD TO BRING ON THE DESTRUCTION AND DESOLATION OF THE CITY OF JERUSALEM AT THE HANDS OF TITUS IN 70 A.D. THUS FULFILLING THE ENTIRE PROPHESY OF DANIEL CHAPTER 9.
An accurate historic account of that awful destruction can be found in the eyewitness writings of Josephus. Truly, a more tragic and bloody day can not be found in the history of the city of Jerusalem.
Once the key support for a 7 year Tribulation was removed, the whole superstructure of events built upon it began to take on a new light and meaning. Without that all crucial 7 year period in which to crowd the end time events, there was no need for a “secret rapture”. No need for 3 resurrections separated by 1007 years. No need at all to reinstitute the Jewish sacrificial system and temple worship. Nor is there a need for 5 future judgements as recorded in the Scofield Reference Bible, (Rev. 20:12, Note 1, p.1351).
Now I understood how all of our Baptist ancestors were able to hold varying views (A-, Post-, or Historic Pre-) and still all agree on a general resurrection and general judgement in every one of their Articles of Faith. They all saw that Daniel’s prophesy of the 70 weeks had been completed at the death of Christ and the confirming of the New Covenant by many signs and wonders in the “most holy place”, the Church.
I did further studies relative to the “land covenant” with Israel and found them to have always been fulfilled as promised (Joshua 23:14; I Kings 8:56), but that in all cases their continuance was conditional upon obedience. Never once did God fail to do all that He had promised. Even when Jesus spoke to the unbelieving religious leaders as he related the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, he said, “your house is left unto you desolate”, and so indeed it has come to pass. Jesus went on to say “it shall be taken from you and given to another”, and that too has come to pass as the great privilege of being the “dressers of the vineyard of God” has passed from Israel to the Lord’s church. There has always been just one vineyard of God, made up of the pleasant plants of those whose hearts have been changed and whose lives bring forth the sweet wine of righteousness. Same vineyard, but intrusted now to different husbandmen!
I did studies into the “spiritual promises” to Israel and found them to have been fulfilled in the remnant of believing Jews of whom Paul said “He is not a Jew, who is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29). The spiritual promises were kept as thousands of believing Jews were brought into the Church, and were indeed the first and only members until through the persistent unbelief of the masses, the message was turned to the Gentiles. The way of salvation is still as open to them today as it is to the Gentiles. It always has been and always will be a personal salvation.
I did historical studies into the origin of the Dispensational Premillennial teachings and found them centered in the work of J.N. Darby and that the C.I Scofield Bible was really an almost verbatim copy of those views set forth by Darby and others of the Plymouth Brethren movement in the early to middle part of the 19th century. Scofield himself being a member of the Brethren movement. I was able to trace the “secret rapture” revelation to a self proclaimed prophetess by the name of Margaret Macdonald in Port-Glasgow, Scotland in 1830 (Memoirs of James & George Macdonald, of Port-Glasgow by Robert Norton (1840), p.p. 171-176).
“Within a few months, Margaret’s distinctive prophetic outlook was mirrored in the September, 1830, issue of The Morning Watch and the early Brethren assembly at Plymouth, England. Early disciples of the pre-trib interpretation often called it a new doctrine.” (The Incredible Cover-up, by Dave MacPherson, Omega Publications 1975, p. 93).
I was further able to discover a link connecting J.N.Darby and the Brethren movement to Margaret Macdonald by Darby’s own personal writings in which he talked about his visits to their home. (The Irrationalism of Infidelity by J.N. Darby -1853). A statement by Darby to a friend in an unguarded letter advocated a subtle introduction of the new pre-trib rapture view: “I think we ought to have something more of a direct testimony as to the Lord’s coming, and its bearing also on the state of the church: ordinarily, it would not be well to have it so clear as to frighten people. We must pursue it steadily; it works like leaven and its fruit is by no means seen yet; I do not mean that leaven is ill, but the thoughts are new, and people’s minds work on them and all the old habits are against their feelings…” (Letters of J.N.Darby, pp. 25-26 ; The Incredible Cover-up, by Dave MacPherson, p.96).
In the light of these studies, I was forced by my convictions to totally abandon the Dispensational Premillennial position and align myself with those I felt were more supportable by the overall teaching of the scriptures. I make no claim to understand all aspects of future events, or to be able to interpret all passages in Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel and the other prophets. I try to gain further insight and understanding of the matters through study and conversation, but always in the light of those things I most assuredly know to be true and unshakable.
Being a student of Church history, I would appreciate any credible evidence that could show ANY group of true Christians holding to a “secret rapture”, a 7 year Tribulation period, or multiple resurrections prior to the 1830 vision of Margaret Macdonald, and the Plymouth Brethren movement.
DEALING WITH THOSE HOLDING OPPOSING VIEWS
If you, the reader, holds a Postmillennial or Amillennial view, I would ask you to prayerfully consider what you would say to someone who has always believed in the imminent return of Christ and held the pretribulation and premillennial view, to bring them to the point where they don’t break fellowship. Certainly I do not have the answer to all situations, but I can share with you how I have, and do, handle similar circumstances.
I tell the individual that I also look for the imminent return of Christ, so that is certainly not a point of disagreement. I never initiate the subject as a point of difference or debate, so I am never the aggressor and thus never put my brethren on the defensive. If you put a man on the defensive, you are very likely to lose his fellowship before you can work out the problem. I always let them have the upper hand while I listen with genuine interest and offer only points of question for their consideration, NEVER points of criticism. I impress upon them that I am open to new light and ask only that they familiarize themselves with my views before we continue the conversation. Generally, if he is a reasonable man and with the intensity of the moment passed, we can rationally discuss the subject at a later time.
If, on the other hand, he (or she) obstinately presses the point either at the time of the initial conversation or after due consideration, I will make every effort to turn the conversation to those positive things upon which we do agree, pointing out the many bonds of unity in our common faith. Like Abraham when a strife rose between his herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen, I would genuinely plead, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee…for we be brethren”. I would try to point out the insignificance of this issue in relation to our objective of glorifying or Lord and evangelizing the world that lost humanity might be saved before death, or the event of the Lord’s return in any manner, would overtake them. We all must maintain our unquestionable Commission to address the present need in correct perspective to our “understanding” of future events. What we as individuals “think” about the future is not going to change it anyway. Let us deal with that which God has put within our understanding.
PREMILLENNIALISM AS A TEST OF FELLOWSHIP
There are many individuals, and an increasing number of Baptist churches, that are including adherence to premillennial views as a test of fellowship. Many churches have even begun to include those views in their Constitutions and Articles of Faith. This is a sad happening, but none the less a reality. The great majority of the individuals comprising the body of these churches are not aware of other views or have been overpowered by those who hold premillennial views so dogmatically that they think anyone holding opposing views are unsound in more important matters. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the problem still remains. How do we convince these individuals or churches that they are hindering the Lords work by taking such a firm stand on very “unfirm” ground?
I have found through my study of Baptist history that the appearance of Confessions of Faith were deemed necessary to distinguish our beliefs concerning those things which we regard as essential to Salvation, a Holy Christian Character, and the propagation of essential truth, from those surrounding beliefs and practices which would leave their followers either unconverted, walking amiss in their conduct, or propagating a fatal error. The type of prevailing religious attitude and perceived danger at any given time or place in history can be easily detected by examining the attention given to the particular detail in a Confession of Faith. Also, most every Confession of Faith is directly reflective of the theology held by those men most instrumental in its writing. I know this is true because I have personally been involved with both drafting and incorporating them in new churches. If one is not careful, he can be so focused in dealing with a particular issue of personal concern, that he excludes many of those individuals with whom he would otherwise hold sweet and open fellowship. This is not a reflection upon the soundness, nor the intent of the originators, but is only an evidence of our fallibility as human beings. It is for this reason that all truly democratic documents provide for their alteration, if agreed upon by a substantial majority of those under its jurisdiction. The more restrictive the ability to alter a decree, the more likely its intent will be abused by less generous men. In the book of Esther we find that Haman the Agagite utilized the Persian principal that a decree sealed by the King could under NO circumstances be changed. Once Haman had convinced King Ahasuerus that Mordecai and the Jews were a threat to his kingdom and persuaded the King to sign the decree for their death, Ahasuerus was trapped by his own rules. He was going to cut off the very people who loved him the most.
I have found it unfortunate that many Baptist Churches are tailoring their Articles of Faith to reflect strong Dispensational Premillennial views, and then requiring an affirmation of acceptance (I assume 100%) of those statements. By requiring acceptance of those views in order to establish and maintain fellowship, they would prohibit nearly all of their Baptist ancestry from being members and enjoying their fellowship. It is unfortunate that men like Elder John Newton Brown and the others who drafted and propagated the Church Covenant which most Baptist Churches have included verbatim in their Articles of Faith and have framed and hung on their auditorium walls, could not be members of these churches. J. Newton Brown and others could not be members because they are also the men who drafted the New Hampshire Confession of Faith in 1833, which has for its last article “We believe that the end of this world is approaching: that at the last day, Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place: that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgement will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.” These men did not hold to a Dispensational Premillennial view, they held to a General Judgement and a General Resurrection.
It is unfortunate that men like J.M. Pendleton who worked side by side with J.R. Graves for the Landmark movement, out of which many strong truths and sound churches have originated, would be unable to join these churches because in his book Christian Doctrines, he has a complete chapter titled “The General Judgment” (p.389-398). He was himself a mild Postmillennialist and leaned toward Amillennialism.
Time and space will not allow me to list the great Baptist giants of the faith such as B.H.Carrol, J.M.Carrol, Andrew Fuller, John Bunyon, and hundreds of others who have given themselves to the spread of the glorious gospel, yet held views differing from those put forth by many churches dogmatically requiring adherence to premillennial views.
Many times, it is not the idea or view of premillennial persuasions put forth by a church in its Articles of Faith that is the problem. It is the rigidness with which its adherence is required to the exclusion of all others. Most of our wise Baptist ancestors, desiring to state their position with firmness yet unwilling to sever themselves from their predecessors or posterity, would simply alter their constitution to require a “SUBSTANTIAL” adherence to the Articles of Faith. This would allow them the opportunity of individual evaluation for each circumstance.
THE ORDER OF END TIME EVENTS (As I Understand Them)
I believe that as the forces of evil have reached the point where God will no longer allow Satan and man to continue in their rebellion, the Lord Jesus will return from heaven. He will bring with him his holy angels (II Thes.1:7) as well as the spirits of the departed saints (Jude 14-15 ; I Thes.4:14 ). His purpose at this coming shall be to take vengeance on them that obeyed not the gospel (II Thes. 1:8) and to be glorified in all his saints and to be marveled at in all them that believe. (II Thes 1:9)
At that time the trumpet of the archangel will sound to call all the dead bodies to resurrection and judgement as the angels come forth to sever the wicked from among the just (Matt 13:49; Matt. 13:36-43; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 24:15; Dan. 12:2; Jn 5:28-29; Luke 11:31-32). The bodies of the departed saints will be resurrected in an incorruptible form and then the living saints will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and TOGETHER they will be caught up in the air to be with Christ (I Thes. 4:15-17; I Cor. 15:51- 53). The wicked dead will be raised in their corruptible bodies to be judged out of the books, and being not found in the book of life they shall be cast into an eternal destruction. (Matt. 25:31-46; II Cor.5:10; Rev: 20:11-15; Matt. 7:21-23, Rev: 22:10-12).
The heavens and the earth will melt with a fervent heat and all the remains of the sin and evil of man and the rebellious angels will be burned up.(I Peter 3:7-10). The devil and his angels will have been cast into the Lake of Fire. (Rev. 20:10,14). A new heaven and a new earth will appear where the redeemed will enter into eternal rest with their beloved Lord. (Rev. 21). The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will take place where the Bride (The Church, who has made herself ready and kept herself spotless (Rev. 19:7-8) will be united in a special way to her Lord in the presence of the many saints and angels. (Rev. 19: 9). They together shall enter into the New Jerusalem which was prepared for her. Eternity alone will measure the joy and praises to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Beyond this simple but literal understanding of the scriptures which I have noted, I tread with much caution.
Elder Daniel G. Chandler