Premill? Amill? Postmill? Part 3

Posted: March 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ll pick up on N.T. Wright again next week but due to a chaotic schedule, I’m running a little behind and need to return to my series of posts on the Book of Revelation and the end times.

A few years ago, Dr. John MacArthur gave a 2-part lecture entitled, “Why Every Calvinist Should Be A Premillennialist.”  Dr. MacArthur argued that texts like Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14 and Romans 9-11 is demand that Jesus will return and reign over the earth from Israel for a literal 1000 year period.  At that time, the promises made to Israel will be fulfilled as they accept Jesus as their true Messiah. 

Reading over these texts (and you should…go to biblegateway.com and pick a version), it is easy to see where Dr. MacArthur is coming from and you can jump over to the Grace To You site and download Dr. MacArthur’s 6-part sermon series on eschatology where he deals with these issues as well.

if you are interested then you can also pick up scholarly works like Future Israel by Dr. Barry Horner.

But is Dr. MacArthur right?

Should we read Revelation 20 as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel?

Let’s take a look:

20:1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven  and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

See anything about Israel there? Nope.  Me either.  In fact, when you go back and look at Revelation 2-3 and consider the historic setting of the book (probably written during the reign of the Emperor Domitian around 95 A.D.) then it is clear that those who reign with Jesus are those faithful to him, especially those who have died rather than worship Caesar. 

Moreover, if you read the Old Testament passages and Romans 9-11 carefully then you will see that Dr. MacArthur’s assertions are not at all as clear as he makes them out to be.  Many believe that the promises made to Israel now apply to the church, which is made up of neither Jew nor Gentile. 

As an aside, it is strange that Dr. MacArthur in his lectures and sermons on this topic places so much faith in the early church’s view of the 1000 year reign but dismisses their assertion that the church has indeed replaced Israel. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There is a strong case to be made for the system of thought known as “historic or classic premillennialism.”  Such noted pastors and scholars as D.A. Carson, Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, Wayne Grudem, Craig Blomberg, Richard Hess, etc. hold to such a position. 

It may well be that Jesus will return and reign for a literal 1000 years on earth with his followers who are mixed in with unbelievers who will join the forces of Satan at the final showdown, however, there is little evidence that we need to hang so much of our belief regarding the second coming of Jesus on the nation of Israel. 

I think you’ve picked up by now that, while I have a great amount of respect for Dr. MacArthur, that I think his strange hybrid dispensational/reformed theology just doesn’t cut it.  Moreover, if you’ve been reading this blog over the last few weeks, you know that the system known as dispensationalism, which stands behind popular books like “Left Behind” and “The Late Great Planet Earth” are modern inventions that have little or no scriptural support.  I’ll pick up here later and we’ll look at historic premillennialism and then amillennialism.

If you want to see a good amillennial response to Dr. MacArthur then check out Kim Riddlebargers near point-by-point response here:

http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/a-reply-to-john-macarthur/

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Comments
  1. Edward says:

    Speaking of Mac, there’s breaking news about another Mac involving a huge historical find that will surely interest Bible prophecy fans. It can be found in connection with an article entitled “Pretrib Rapture Copycats” on Joe Ortiz’s “End Times Passover” blog dated March 9th. Edward

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