47. What is historic premillennialism?
Historic Premillennialism believes that after the end time signs, including the great tribulation, Christ will return to earth to bind Satan, resurrect His people, and reign on earth for 1000 years; after which Sat an will be released for a little season before the resurrection of all at the final judgment, and the return of the Kingdom to the Father.
Historic (or classical) premillennialism is so named not only to distinguish it from more recent dispensational premillennialism, but also because the view dates back to early church fathers such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. It is a view found throughout church history and has been held by many eminent theologians.
Premillennialists tend to have a rather pessimistic view of this present age. Though they believe the nations are being evangelized, they see things eventually getting gradually worse and worse, climaxing with the signs of apostasy, the antichrist, persecution, etc.
…including the great tribulation…
Historic premillennialism is distinguished from its dispensational relative by a firm conviction that the great tribulation will precede rather than follow the second coming of Christ (Matt. 24:29-30). It is during the great tribulation that very many of Israel will be converted to Christ.
…Christ will return to earth to bind Satan…
The signs of the times and the great tribulation are described in Revelation 10-19. Revelation 20 follows chronologically and describes Christ’s second coming, when he will return to bind Satan and defeat antichrist and his armies.
…resurrect His people…
One distinctive of premillennialism is the belief in two resurrections. The first coincides with Christ’s return to earth (Rev. 20:4). At that point, Christ will raise all dead believers and glorify them together with all living believers. Both groups will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17), and then descend with Him to the earth. The return of Christ, and the resurrection and rapture of believers are all one event.
…and reign on earth for 1000 years…
After meeting resurrected dead believers and transformed living believers in the air, Christ will proceed to the earth, set up His Kingdom with His people, and rule the world for 1000 years, which may be literal or symbolic (Luke 19:17, 19; 1 Cor. 6:3; Rev. 2:26-27).
Historic premillennialism insists on one church of Christ comprising both Jews and Gentiles. However, it reserves a special place for the Jewish people and nation in the millennial kingdom. Having been converted in the great tribulation, they will be a source of great blessing to the church and the world. The world will enjoy a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
This belief in a future millennial kingdom on earth is based on a number of Old Testament passages which describe an age better than this present age though not so great nor as perfect as the eternal kingdom (Isa. 65:20; 11:6-9; Ps. 72; Zech. 14:5-17). Important New Testament passages apart from Revelation 20, are Revelation 2:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 15:23-25. In the latter passage, premillennialists see three stages of world history: Christ’s resurrection is followed a long time later by the believer’s resurrection (v. 23), followed, many years later by the resurrection of all (v. 24).
…after which Satan will be released for a little season…
Near the end of the millennial kingdom, Satan who was bound at Christ’s return to the earth, will be loosed to go out and deceive the nations again (Rev. 20:3, 7). Satan will join forces with many unbelievers who only outwardly submitted to Christ but who remained enemies in their hearts. These will join with the rebellious nations for the battle of Gog and Magog, the final attack upon the camp of the saints.
…before the resurrection of all at the final judgment…
After fire comes down from heaven to destroy all the rebellious nations, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire, the second resurrection will take place – that of the wicked from all ages and the believers who died in the millennial age (Rev. 20:8-15).
Premillennialists argue that although some passages seem to teach only one resurrection, they do not exclude two resurrections. They simply do not state whether or not the resurrection of both believers and unbelievers will be separate. These passages must be interpreted in the light of Revelation 20. After this second resurrection there will be the Great White throne judgment of believers and unbelievers followed by the new heavens and new earth.
…and the return of the Kingdom to the Father.
1 Corinthians 15:23-25 teaches that history has three stages: the Christian Church – Christ’s reign largely hidden; the millennium – Christ’s visible reign; the eternal kingdom – the kingdom reverts to the father.
48. What are the problems with historic premillennialism?
Though historic premillennialism has some strengths, it tends to be pessimistic, it misconnects Revelation 19 and 20, it adds living believers to Revelation 20, it sees time where there is only order in 1 Corinthians 15, it reverses Christ and His people’s glorification, and it adds a third era to the two found in the New Testament.
Historic premillennialism, unlike its dispensational cousin, views the second coming as one single event. It also sees believers in both the Old and New Testaments as one people with one way of salvation and one destiny. The signs of the times are present in all ages, but intensify before the second coming of Christ. It accepts that the church does go through the great tribulation. The Kingdom of God is both present and future, so that the present church is enjoying eschatological blessings already.
…it tends to be pessimistic…
Premillennialism does not expect the worldwide preaching of the Gospel to be very effective. Although Matthew 24:14 says that the gospel will be preached as a witness to all nations, that simply speaks of the preaching of the Gospel without saying anything about its effects. Things are going from bad to worse; so much so that we really need to wait until Christ’s return before we will see great things on this earth.
This is an over-pessimistic view of the present age, which cannot but impact motivation and action. Christ is already present in His kingdom, the leaven is leavening, and the mustard seed is growing into a tree. Though they say that the Kingdom has already come, it is to a very little degree.
…it misconnects Revelation 19 and 20…
Premillennialism takes a more chronological view of Revelation, saying that Revelation 19 precedes Revelation 20 in time. However, as amillennialists have pointed out, there is strong evidence for viewing Revelation as cyclical, rather than chronological. Revelation 19 ends with the second coming of Christ, whereas Revelation 20 cycles us back to the first coming of Christ.[footnote]See Venema’s Christ and the Future, 111-118[/footnote] …it adds living believers to Revelation 20…
Premillennialists say that the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5) is of the Christians who had died before Christ returned. To them are added the believers who were still living when Christ returned. These two groups then reign with Christ over the earth for 1000 years. The problem is that Revelation 20 says nothing about living believers being added to the resurrected believers. Also, as those who do experience the first resurrection are contrasted with “the rest of the dead,” we may conclude that the first resurrection group were also once dead. How can living believers fit into that group? Furthermore, there is no indication in these verses that Christ and his saints are seen reigning on the earth. Other passages in Revelation would seem to indicate that the scene is in heaven (Rev. 4:4-5; 6:9).
…it sees time where there is only order in 1 Corinthians 15…
In our definition of premillennialism we noted how 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 is used by premillennialists to establish three ages (resurrection of Christ, resurrection of believers, resurrection of unbelievers), with significant time intervals between each. However, these verses are more about logical and theological order than time periods. In fact, unbelievers are not mentioned, never mind a 1000 year period between their resurrection and that of believers. In other places the same Greek expressions describe closely connected events with no protracted time in between (Luke 8:12; Mark 4:17). In fact, in the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 15 (v. 5-7), the same words describe a simple sequence of events. The coming of Christ and the end are closely connected events in the Bible.
…it reverses Christ and His people’s glorification…
Christ has already won the decisive victory against his enemies and already reigns (Heb 1:3). Is He really coming back for more fighting and for a period of only qualified peace and blessing? Revelation 21 tells us that Christ and His Church will take up their dwelling on earth after heaven and earth have been renewed, not before.
How will sinners and saints still in the flesh be able to stand in the presence of the glorified Christ. Remember Paul and John were completely overwhelmed by him (Acts 26:12-14; Rev. 1:17). Other passages link the coming of Christ with universal judgment of all people, living and dead, with the issues being eternal life or eternal punishment (Matt. 25:31-46; Rom. 2:1-6; 2 Pet. 3:1-18).
The return of glorified believers and a glorified Christ to earth would violate the finality of their glorification. What an anticlimax to come back to a world of the wicked, including sin and death!
…and it adds a third era to the two found in the New Testament.
In The Endtimes Made Simple (audio), Sam Waldron has highlighted sixteen clear verses that show there are only two ages left – this age and the eternal age. This age and the age to come exhaust all time. They are qualitatively different states of human existence, divided by the resurrection of all and the judgment of all. There is no third age.
49. What is traditional dispensationalism?
On the basis of a largely literal interpretation of the Bible and a fundamental distinction between Israel and the Church, traditional Dispensationalism teaches that God has divided history into seven periods, each with a different test of human obedience to God’s will, though one way of salvation.
Dispensationalism began with John Nelson Darby in the mid-1800’s. It was significantly advanced by the study notes in the Scofield Reference Bible, first published in the early 1900’s. Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology organized it, and the Left Behind series of books popularized it. One of the mottos of dispensationalism is “literal unless ludicrous.” They make much of taking words in their plain and normal sense unless a metaphor or simile is clearly indicated, or it is impossible to take literally. Prophecy should be interpreted as history written beforehand.
…and a fundamental distinction between Israel and the Church…
God has two distinct purposes for two distinct peoples. He has an earthly purpose for an earthly people (Israel), and a heavenly purpose for a heavenly people (Christians). This is sometimes expressed as follows:
Israel’s golden age of the Davidic Kingdom was a foretaste of the Kingdom of the Messiah, which would have been fully realized by Israel if they had not proven unfaithful, resulting in their overthrow and exile. Prophets brought messages of hope for Israel that if they repented, the throne of David would be re-established and the Kingdom of Messiah would come in glory.
Christ offered an earthly but glorious Davidic Kingdom to the Jews through faith in the Messiah and Sermon on the Mount morality. However, they rejected it, resulting in the postponement of the Kingdom until the millennium.
Christ introduced the mystery (previously unknown and unpredicted) form of the kingdom to the Gentiles resulting in the Christian Church of which Christ is the Head (but not King). This is often called the “parenthesis of grace” and is seen as occurring between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9. During this period, really from Pentecost onwards, the Church has the task of declaring the Gospel of free grace throughout the nations. God’s promises and covenants are partially and spiritually fulfilled in believers’ lives, but are mainly and physically covenants and promises for Israel.
Return to postponed Plan B
The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth begins in the 70th week of Daniel 9, when Christ will return to earth to deal specifically with the nation of Israel. Israel will be re-gathered in Canaan, enjoy remarkable peace and prosperity, have a special and privileged place above the nations, and will live under the perfect rule of the Messiah. Israel resumes its leading role, while the church is but an interlude.
Some dispensationalists use the Plan A/B/C language. Others dislike it and say that although God changed His plans, He had planned to change his plans.
…traditional Dispensationalism teaches that God has divided history into seven periods…
“Dispensation” originally referred to the way a household was administered. The term describes various arrangements in the history of redemption by which God regulated man’s relationship to himself. The seven dispensations each advance God’s purposes:
- Pre-fall: Innocence
- To Noah: Conscience
- To Abraham: Civil government
- To Moses: Promise
- To Christ: Law (leading dispensation of OT)
- From Christ to rapture: Grace (7 year persecution of the Jews)
- To end: Millennial
…each with a different test of human obedience to God’s will…
Each dispensation tested man’s obedience regarding a specific revelation of God’s will.
…though one way of salvation.
Though the dispensations differ in the way God reveals His will, these are neither separate nor contradictory ways of salvation. Throughout the dispensations, man is reconciled to God by His grace through the work of Christ to come. Pre-Christ faith was in God and expressed through obedience to His will. Post-Christ faith is specifically in Christ
50. What is Progressive Dispensationalism?
Progressive Dispensationalism is a recent development, which on the basis of complementary hermeneutics, sees a closer relationship between Israel and the Church, between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and between the dispensations; and although it has no definitive view it usually also teaches a post-tribulation rapture.
Progressive Dispensationalism is a relatively recent development stemming from an informal group of dispensational scholars at the annual Evangelical Theological Society in 1985. The leaders include men such as Craig Blaising, Darrell Bock, and David Turner. By their own admission these men speak of Progressive Dispensationalism as “dialogic” (still in dialogue). This makes them somewhat hard to pin down in places.
…on the basis of complementary hermeneutics…
Unlike the “consistent literalism” that characterized Traditional Dispensationalism, “complementary hermeneutics” offers a more plausible system. As the word suggests, the idea is that the New Testament “complements” the Old Testament – i.e. there is an expansion or addition, without contradiction, to the Old Testament prophesies. Much of what is implicit in the Old is now developed and made explicit in the New. It is not however mere repetition of Old Testament prophesies, but a change and advance.
This hermeneutic often sounds very similar to the Reformed Covenantal one. The Progressive Dispensationalists will speak of one (new) covenant that unifies both dispensations. There is progression through “promissory fulfillment.” This is an improvement on the Traditional Dispensationalist position that views the Old Testament quotations in the New as mere applications. Progressive Dispensationalists may view the quotes as application, fulfillment, or partial fulfillment.
Example of a Complementary Hermeneutic:
In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the original recipients were the Jews – i.e. “the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” In Acts 2, believing Jews first participated in the New Covenant based on Jer. 31:31-34. Gentiles were not named as original recipients. However, additional revelation came in Acts 9-10 concerning Gentiles where God formally accepted believing Gentiles as co-heirs with the Jews. In other words God used additional New Testament revelation to further expand the participants of the New Covenant to include believing Gentiles. God did not replace the original recipients or change the original meaning of the New Covenant; He simply expanded it. Thus you have an expansion of meaning while keeping the original meaning intact. The problem, of course, is that this presupposes that the original revelation did not intend the inclusion of the Gentiles.
…Progressive Dispensationalists perceive a closer relationship between Israel and the Church…
Progressive Dispensationalists tenaciously stress that salvation is, and always has been, by grace alone, on the basis of Christ alone, through faith alone. There is one plan of salvation for all people in all times. It must be noted, however, that they do commonly rebuff their critics [who say they still have overtones of two peoples and by implication two ways of salvation] by claiming they confuse the “who” with the “how.” They speak of the one people of God as having “functional differences.” The problem is that we are never told what these functional differences are.
The Church, though viewed as distinct from Israel, is no longer seen as a parenthesis. There is continuity between Israel and the Church and the redemptive blessings both receive are the same. Christ is said to reign now (already) from heaven over the Church, but will again reign (not-yet) from Jerusalem over all nations in the Millennium – a future dispensation. Though national Israel will again assume a central place as the home of the reigning Messiah, Progressive Dispensationalists still struggle to maintain a fundamental equality between Jew and Gentile regarding the benefits of salvation. It seems also, that instead of getting rid of the parenthesis they have merely shifted it from the “Church age” to a future “millennial age.”
David Turner rightly challenges his fellow Progressive Dispensationalists to explain the difference their position maintains with Covenant Theologians. Yet one difference is certainly that Reformed Covenant Theologians would not see the church as “an unexpected expansion of God’s plan” (Turner). This peculiar thought is spawned from viewing (and obscuring) the Church as distinct from Israel. The Westminster Confession and Heidelberg Catechism help clear this up – “The Visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children” (WCF 25:2, emphasis added); and concerning the holy catholic church of Christ, “That the Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends and preserves to himself by his Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith” (Heidelberg Q/A 54, emphasis added).
…Between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant…
Progressive Dispensationalists want to maintain more continuity between the Old and the New Covenant. They maintain that there is only one New Covenant inaugurated by Christ at the last supper which has ongoing partial fulfillment and a future complete fulfillment for Israel. However, there is inconsistency in speaking in one breath of the one New Covenant for Jews and Gentiles and speaking of a “future work with Israel” in the other. Without biblical warrant, this bifurcates the New Covenant into two stages and consequently into two sets of blessings.
The call by Progressive Dispensationalists for more continuity between the Old and New Testaments is a marked step in the Reformed direction. Recourse to Calvin’s masterful treatment of the similarities and dissimilarities between the Old and the New would be beneficial to all (Institutes 2.10.11). However, despite the insistence that the method of salvation is and has always been the same there remain question marks – what is the involvement of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification of Old Testament believers? Did they experience the internalization of the Law? In some quarters the Old Covenant is described by Progressive Dispensationalists as “so inadequate that a new (not renewed) covenant and a new means to administer it had to be promised” (Blaising and Bock). They go on to speak of the “possibility” of a reinstitution of a sacrificial system. So for all their progress, they leave themselves justly susceptible to a hankering back after types and shadows.
…Between the dispensations…
Progressive Dispensationalists are so called because they see inter-relationship and progress between the dispensations. A common position among them is to see four divisions – the Patriarchal, the Law (Mosaic), the Church (Ecclesial), and the Kingdom (subdivided into millennial and eternal phases). Again, they stress that there is only one redemptive plan of God and one kingdom purpose (not one for Israel and another for the Church).
One major difference between Traditional and Progressive Dispensationalists regards how they view the present dispensation. The latter reject the parenthesis, but do claim the need to wait to the Millennium before the kingdom can be fully realized. The present age however is a “vital link” in God’s plan of grace. David Turner has a bronze, silver, and gold age for the time of Christ to the Millennium, the Millennium, and then the eternal state.
But while more palatable than the notion of the church as a parenthesis, this view poses several problems. For example, why start your ages with the coming of Christ in flesh and not with Eden? Also, the idea that all we have now is a “sneak preview” of what is to come in the Millennium undermines the Biblical teaching that now is the age of the Spirit and of restoration. This also creates an unwarranted discontinuity between the present and eternal age. And where in the whole New Testament corpus can you find the thought that Israel is to resettle in the Land? Again, this is to return to the types and shadows.
Progressive Dispensationalism has no definitive view of the rapture, but many within its orbit hold to a post-tribulation. It does not believe that the church is raptured at the commencement of Daniel’s 70th week. All in all, there is no sharply defined boundary between the Church Age and the Millennial Kingdom, but the Church continues through to the post-tribulation rapture of the Church (at the close of Daniel’s 70th week).
Willem A. Van Gemeren and Bruce K. Waltke offer good critiques of the Progressive Dispensationalist essays at the back of Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church
51. What is dispensational Premillennialism?
Dispensational Premillennialism teaches that Christ’s second coming will occur in four phases: Christ’s rapture, Christ’s revelation, Christ’s reign, and Chri st’s renewal.
There are no further notes for this question.
52. What is Christ’s rapture?
Without any precursory signs, Christ will return for His church, resurrect all dead believers, transform all living believers, meet them in the air, and return to heaven with them, while the 70th week begins on earth.
Dispensational premillennialists believe that Christ can return at any time. There are no predicted signs to precede this. This is thought to be the only way to maintain the expectancy and watchfulness expected of Christians.
…Christ will return for His church…
Dispensational premillennialists call this return of Christ for His Church the parousia (one of the Greek words for Christ’s coming). In the parousia coming, Christ does not come all the way to the earth, but stops short.
…resurrect all dead believers…
At the parousia, Christ will resurrect all true believers who have died (though not Old Testament believers). This is the first resurrection.
…transform all living believers…
All believers alive at the time of the parousia, both Gentiles and the Jewish remnant, will be glorified.
…meet them in the air…
The resurrected dead and the transformed living believers will all be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is called the rapture from the Latin rapio meaning “seize, snatch, carry away.” The restrainer mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is the Holy Spirit indwelling the church. He must remove the church before the tribulation begins (Rev. 3:10). Hence this is called “the pre-tribulation rapture.” (Some premillennial dispensationalists have held to a mid-tribulation rapture which teaches that Christ will come back in the middle of the seven years to rescue believers.) It is thought to be inappropriate for believers to be on earth during the pouring out of God’s wrath in the great tribulation.
…and return to heaven with them…
The raptured all return to heaven with Christ to celebrate the marriage supper of the lamb for seven years.
…while the 70th week begins on earth.
Many Jews will repent and turn to Christ during these seven years. This is the seventieth week predicted by Daniel.
69th week Christ’s first coming
(Church Age) 70th week postponed until after the rapture because Jews rejected Christ
70th week Dead and living Christians raptured to heaven
Part 1: Great Conversions on Earth
Thousands of Jews converted who preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to Gentiles with great blessing Nation of Israel re-gathered into Palestine
Part 2: Great Tribulation on Earth
Antichrist made covenant of peace with Israel for 3.5 years but now turns to persecute her in time of great tribulation (Jacob’s trouble) Antichrist reigns and demands to be worshipped Great judgments fall on the earth climaxing in Armageddon where Christ has final triumph over the Antichrist, the beast, the prophet and all their armies.
53. What is Christ’s revelation?
At the end of the 70th week, Christ will return to the earth in glory with His church, win Armageddon, bind the devil, resurrect tribulation martyrs and Old Testament saints, and then judge the nations.
The great tribulation is at its height and all seems lost.
…Christ will return to the earth in glory with His church…
At the end of the seven years of the 70th week, Christ will return in glory with his church and this time He will come all the way to earth. This is called the “revelation” or apokalupsis coming (with His Church) in distinction from the earlier parousia coming (for His Church).
Christ will destroy antichrist and his forces at the last great battle.
…bind the devil…
The millennium of Revelation 20 now begins with the devil being bound and cast into the pit for 1000 years.
…resurrect tribulation martyrs and Old Testament saints…
Saints who died during the seven year tribulation will be raised from the dead together with the Old Testament saints. However, they will not enter the millennial kingdom which is about to be established on earth. Rather they will join the risen and translated saints who constitute the raptured church in heaven.
…and then judge the nations.
This judgment will have two parts. First there is the judgment of living Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46) which will test how individual Gentiles treated Christ’s brethren (the Jews and the converted Gentiles) during the tribulation. The sheep will be those who pass the test. They will be left on earth to enter the millennial kingdom. Those who fail, the goats, will be cast into everlasting fire. Second there will be the judgment on Israel (Ezek. 20:33-38). Rebels will be put to death and not allowed to enjoy the millennial kingdom. Those who turned to the Lord will.
54. What is Christ’s reign?
Christ will reign on earth from Jerusalem with mainly Jewish believers for a thousand blessed years, although they will be concluded with the Devil’s ult imately unsuccessful little season.
Christ will re-establish a real, visible, terrestrial and material Davidic kingdom.
The throne of Christ established at Jerusalem will become the central place of worship. The temple will be re-built on Mt Zion and the altar will once again be used for sacrifice.
…with mainly Jewish believers…
Christian believers are in heaven while Jewish believers are in the earthly millennial kingdom together with any Gentiles who treated the Jews well in the great tribulation.
…for a thousand blessed years…
Sin and death will still claim their victims but it will be a time of longer lives, increased fruitfulness and greater prosperity. The world will be speedily converted.
…although they will be concluded with the Devil’s ultimately unsuccessful little season.
After the millennium, the devil will be loosed for a little season to lead the hordes of Gog and Magog against the holy city. Christ’s enemies will be devoured by heavenly fire, and Satan cast into the bottomless pit to join the beast and the false prophet.
55. What is Christ’s renewal?
After raising and judging the wicked dead and the saints who died in the millennium, Jesus will renew and reign over the new heavens and the new earth.
The wicked dead are raised up and appear in judgment before the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15).
…and the saints who died in the millennium…
This is the third resurrection.
…Jesus will renew and reign over the new heavens and the new earth.
The heavenly Jerusalem descends to renewed earth.
56. What are the main criticisms of dispensationalism?
The main criticisms are an unsustainable literalism, an unfounded postponement theory, an unjustified separation of the final events, a confusion between divine wrath and tribulation, an unlikely reversal of glorification, and a return to Old Covenant worship.
Premillennial dispensationalists claim that they interpret Old Testament prophecies about Israel and the Kingdom of God 100% literally. However, the prophets themselves indicate that at least some of their predictions will be fulfilled spiritually rather than literally (Isa. 61:6; Jer. 3:16; 31:33; Hos. 14:2). Indeed, the prophets use “Zion” and “Jerusalem” in a figurative (or non-literal) sense (Isa. 49:14; 51:3; 52:1,2) to describe the Old Testament Church of God, a use that passes into the New Testament (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 3:12; 21:9).
When we turn to the New Testament we do not find any clear text that points to the re-establishment of the Davidic kingdom. In fact, the New Testament constantly points towards the spiritual fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies given to Israel (Matt. 21:43; Acts 2:29-36; Rom. 9:25, 26; Heb. 8:8-13; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). For example, Acts 15 sees Amos 9:11-12 fulfilled in the salvation of the Gentile church.
Literalism also produces many physical and theological difficulties: great ancient world powers (Egypt, Babylon, Assyrians) reconstituted (Isa. 11:14; Amos 9:12; Joel 3:19), temple rebuilt (Isa. 2:2,3; Mic. 4:1,2; Zech. 14:16-22), sons of Zadok serving as priests (Ezek. 44:15-41; 48:11-14), sin and trespass offerings sacrificed (Ezek. 42:13; 43:18-27), nations come to Jerusalem for annual feasts, etc. (Zech. 14:16)
This reversal of redemptive history seems so contrary to Hebrews’ teaching about the New Testament rendering Old Covenant worship obsolete. In fact, the ultimate fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is in Christ not in Israel (2Cor. 1:20).
…an unfounded postponement theory…
Premillennial dispensationalists say that John and Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom was at hand, but because the Jews did not repent and believe, Jesus postponed its establishment until His second coming. Scofield marks this pivotal point as Matthew 11:20. Prior to this, Jesus is said to have only preached the Kingdom to Israel, and after that He did not preach the Kingdom but rather predicted its future coming. In the meantime, He offered rest to the weary of both Israel and the Gentiles.
However, Jesus did not preach two Gospels in two phases. He did concern himself with the Gentiles before the turning point (Matt. 8:5-13; Jn. 4:1-42), and he did preach the Kingdom after it (Matt. 13: Lk. 10:1-11). Both Christ and His apostles preached the Kingdom which was to be built by the preaching of the Gospel (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:19). Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom, of which the Old Testament kingdom was a type (Matt. 8:11,12; 13:31-33; 21:43; Lk. 17:21; Jn. 3:3; 18:36,37). And he did establish the kingdom as a present reality (Matt. 11:12; 12:28; Lk. 17:21; Jn. 18:36,37).
The postponement theory divides both the Bible and the Church. It divides the Bible by saying that the Old Testament was the book of the Kingdom, but the New Testament is the book of the Church. Old Testament Israel will fulfill the prophecies given to it and the Church will fulfill the promises given to it. However, the Bible represents the relationship between Old and New Testaments as that of type/antitype or prophesy/fulfillment. Premillennial dispensationalism says that while that was the original aim, the outcome was quite different.
It divides the Church because we end up with two peoples of God, Israel and the Church, the one natural and the other spiritual, the one earthly and the other heavenly. And that line of separation throughout history continues into the final state in which the earthly Israel will receive earthly blessings and the spiritual church spiritual blessings.
There are so many verses which speak of a united people of God. Jesus spoke of one flock and one shepherd (Jn 10:16). Paul said that the Gentiles were grafted into the one olive tree and the Jews will be grafted back in again (Rom. 11). Paul presents the Old Testament church as a child and the New Testament church as the mature man (Gal. 4). The names of Old Testament Israel are applied to the New Testament Church (1 Peter 2:9, 1 Cor. 3:16-17; Heb. 12:22-23). Jesus broke down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:!4). Old Testament Israel was the prediction, the New Testament Church the fulfillment. The Church was not plan B, an afterthought, or an interim project, but the central accomplishment of Christ. Jesus Himself, the foremost member of the Church, was Jewish, as were all His disciples.
…an unjustified separation of the final events…
Premillennial dispensationalists end up with two, three or even four resurrections, and two or three final judgments over 1000 years. However, the Bible presents the future events of Christ’s second coming, the translation of living saints, the resurrection of the just, the final judgment and the end of the world as synchronizing at the coming of the Lord. The only possible verse suggesting a separation of 1000 years is Rev. 20:4-6.
Sometimes dispensational premillennialists will argue that the day of the Lord may be 1000 years long (2Pet. 3:8), and on that basis say that the resurrection of the saints and the judgment of the nations takes place in the morning of that long day and the resurrection of the wicked and the great white throne judgment occurs at the evening of the same day. But Christ’s return is presented in the Bible as the consummating event that closes this age, resurrects all, judges all, and introduces the new heavens and the new earth (2 Thess. 1:6-10; 1Cor. 1:7,8; Phil. 1:6,10; 1 Jn. 2:28; 1 Tim. 4:8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Pet. 3:13; John 5:28, 29; 6:40; Acts 24:14-15).
Paul wrote three chapters on the future of the Jews (Romans 9-11), yet not once does he say anything about the pre-millennial kingdom and the Jews place in it.
Parousia (presence) and apokalupsis (revelation) are used interchangeably in the New Testament (1 Thess. 1:7-8; 3:13; 4:15; 2 Thess. 2:8; Matthew 24:39; Luke 17:30) and refer to the single return of Christ to the earth at the end of all time. They do not describe different times but different aspects of the one return.
…a confusion between divine wrath and tribulation…
Premillennial dispensationalists say that the Church is exempt from divine wrath (1 Thess. 1:10), especially the great tribulation of Revelation 3:10. They argue that there is no mention of the church in Revelation 4-18.
We agree that Christians are exempt from divine wrath, but the vast majority of the tribulation passages refer to tribulation that believers suffer. So exemption from wrath cannot mean exemption from tribulation. It means that they will be kept in the midst of tribulation. All believers will avoid God’s wrath but that does not mean they will avoid all suffering and hardship.
…an unlikely reversal of glorification…
Like classical premillennialism this scheme also ends up with the glorified Christ and the glorified saints back on a less-than-glorified earth.
…and a return to Old Covenant worship.
Premillennial dispensationalists insist that Old Testament passages that speak of a rebuilt temple, the priesthood restored, and sacrifices offered should be taken literally. But that is not how the New Testament interprets these passages. It sees the Old Testament prophets speaking of the future glory of the Messianic kingdom in their own language. And, as with any type, when the reality comes the shadow falls away.