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The fable of Premillennialism

November 30, 2011

In his article Premillennialism, the Scriptures and Convergent Issues, K. Neill Foster, an Evangelist for the Christian and Missionary Alliance, says that the twentieth chapter of Revelation is the key biblical passage supporting the idea of a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth, with its capital at Jerusalem. All nations, he suggests, will come to worship at Mount Zion. He wrote:

Millennialism can be described as the belief that there will be righteous rule of 1,000 years on this earth: “Israel will be the center of that kingdom and Jerusalem will be the capital of it. All nations will come to worship at Mount Zion.” Implicit in the concept of millennialism is the idea that Christ the Ruler will return before the millennium as Revelation chapter 20 clearly indicates.

But the above seems to contradict things that Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well; he said that true worshipers will no longer go to the city of Jerusalem to worship God. He said, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” [See John 4:19-24]

Foster’s article includes a section in which he argues in support of Premillennialism from the Scriptures. His six items are considered below.

1) Revelation 20:1-6 affirms the concept of one thousand years six times, and it also affirms the rule and reign of a king, specifically Christ’s rule. To overthrow or abandon premillennialism, Revelation chapter twenty must be attacked.

On the contrary, premillennialism is based upon a literal reading of the thousand years in Revelation 20, a number which is specifically identified as having a non-literal meaning, elsewhere in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 3:8. Without a literal take on the thousand years in Revelation 20, the theory of premillennialism falls to the ground.

Interpreting the thousand years and other symbols in Revelation 20 from other Scriptures is not an attack on Revelation 20; it is ridiculous to assert that it is!

2) First Corinthians 15:23-28 references the coming of Jesus Christ and associates it with His rule and reign. This is a strong premillennial passage in that Jesus Christ is portrayed as the conquering monarch, clearly ruling and reigning. Amillennialism and postmillennialism do not fit this passage.

I don’t see anything in 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 that would support Foster’s claim that this is “a strong premillennial passage.” There is no hint of the idea of a thousand year reign, in which the Jews are doted on by Gentiles.

The apostle Paul taught that Christ’s coming will be for the judgment of the world. He did not say anything to suggest that a thousand year reign occurs between Christ’s coming and the judgment.

3) Daniel 7:13-14 describes the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds and His subsequent rule. All people, languages and people will serve Him. It sounds very much like Revelation 20:1-7. Premillennialism fits like a glove.

In the table below, several verses in Daniel 7 are compared with Revelation 20:4-9.

Daniel 7 Revelation 20
I beheld till the thrones were cast down (vs. 9) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them (vs. 4)
and judgment was given to the saints of the most High (vs. 22) and judgment was given to them (vs. 4)
the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom (vs. 22) and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (vs. 4)
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them (vs. 21) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth (vs. 7,8)
he shall wear out the saints of the most High (vs. 25) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: (vs. 9)
his throne was like the fiery flame … A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him (vs. 9, 10) and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (vs. 9)

Daniel’s prophecy shows many of the saints are “worn out” by the little horn. The horn “prevails against” them. It is connected with the time when Satan is “loosed out of his prison” in the table.

The parallels between Daniel 7 and Revelation 20:4-9 suggest the influence of the little horn of the fourth beast in Daniel’s vision corresponds to Satan being loosed from the bottomless pit where he was cast after he was bound by Jesus.

In Revelation 20:7, the expiry of the thousand years must occur individually; if a Christian turns aside from the light and truth of the Gospel, to darkness, that person becomes deceived. Just as beheading is personal and individual, so the thousand years of the saints’ reigning with Christ as kings and priests seems to apply personally and individually. If so, the prophecies of Daniel 7 and Revelation 20:1-9 apply to the present age.

In Daniel 7, the little horn with “eyes like the eyes of a man” and a “mouth speaking great things” prevails against the saints, which is hardly compatible with the doctrine Premillennialism. The horn’s “eyes like the eyes of a man” picture a “human point of view,” as opposed to a divine one.

4) Isaiah 11:2-10 describes the wolf and the lamb dwelling together and a ruler’s ensign which “the Gentiles [shall] seek.” The ruler here is from “the root of Jesse” and again this scene from the prophet synchronizes with the New Testament passages on the millennium, Revelation 20 and First Corinthians 15.

Again, in the New Testament, men are represented by animals, in visions, and in prophecies. For example, in the vision Peter saw, described in Acts 10, a sheet descended from heaven, containing various animals, creeping things, and birds. Peter heard a voice telling him to kill and eat, but he refused, saying, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” He was told: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” From this experience Peter understood that he was not to call any man “common or unclean.” [vs. 28] The point is that to understand the vision he had to connect the animals and creatures with humans.

Similarly, in 2 Peter 2, Peter compared false teachers who would come into the church, to “natural brute beasts,” and he cited a proverb against them: “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

In Isaiah 11:6-8, animals such as the wolf, lamb, leopard, goat, calf, lion, yearling, cow, bear, ox, cobra, and viper are mentioned. Natural enemies are to dwell in harmony. The image probably alludes to conditions in Eden. As in the New Testament where animals represent men, in the Church Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, bond and free become brethren. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” [vs. 9]

The prophecy of Isaiah 11 is not about lions literally eating straw like an ox, etc. What would be the benefit of that? The real meaning is that human nature is to be changed; those who were warring against one another will be at peace.

5) Psalm 2:6-9 gives the description of a king on the holy hill of Zion. The uttermost parts are included, along with the heathen. He rules with a rod of iron. Again, a king ruling in a millennium-like ambiance is in view.

Here, Foster has ignored Isaiah’s prophecy about mount Zion and Jerusalem, that says  the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established in “the tops of the mountains” and raised up “above the hills,” [Isaiah 2:1-3] which is fulfilled in the New Testament, where Jerusalem and mount Zion are depicted in heaven. [Galatians 6:24; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:10ff.] This must have occurred, I think, when Jesus ascended to heaven, Acts 1.

The New Testament says that Jesus rules over all things from heaven, with a rod of iron. [Ephesians 1:20-22; Revelation 12:5] He said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 29:18]

6) Other Scriptures which could be summoned to the premillennialist cause but upon which I will not comment include Isaiah 65:20, 25; Psalm 45:4; Ezekiel 37:27-28; Ezekiel chapters 40-48 (especially 43:19-27, 45:20-21), and Zechariah 14:16-21.

My comments under #4 above, on Isaiah 11:2-10, also apply to Isaiah 65:25, as these scriptures are similar.

Psalm 45:4 says, “And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” I wonder how this Scripture is supposed to support the idea of an earthly millennium?

By citing Ezekiel 37:27-28, Foster seems to “shoot himself in the foot.” These verses are applied to the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2-3, in the setting of the new heaven and the new earth, not the alleged millennium.

Ezekiel 37:27-28
My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

John cites from the above Scripture in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

Ezekiel 43:19-27 describes animal sacrifices, types and shadows that have been abolished, now that the reality of the Gospel has appeared. This also applies to Ezekiel 45:20-21.

Hebrews 10:1
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

What is most curious here is that while Dr. Foster quotes “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” in item #4, and applies it to the millennial period, he claims Ezekiel 43:19-27 & Ezekiel 45:20-21 mean that temple sacrifices and killing of animals will be reestablished in the temple worship at Jerusalem. But, clearly, these things contradict!

On Zechariah 14, see the following posts: