Premillenialism Refuted

Rebuttal to Classic Premillennialism

By Jay Rogers 
Published April 2008

In rebutting classic premillennialism, it should first be noted that there is a great area of agreement between classic premillennialists, amillennialists, and postmillennialists.

All Christians agree that the church, called “the Bride” and “the New Jerusalem” in Revelation 20, exists both in heaven and on earth prior to the Second Coming. We agree that Revelation 20 describes the final attack of Satan’s forces against Christ and the church. All Christians agree that Christ will return in bodily form at the end of history to judge the living and the dead.

We should agree that the events that are to precede the Second Coming are as follows:

  • The universal diffusion of the Gospel will occur in history; or, as our Lord expresses it, the ingathering of the elect; this is the primary calling and purpose of the church.
  • The conversion of the Jews is to be national. (As their casting away was national, although a remnant was saved; so their conversion will be national, although some may remain hardened.)
  • After the Great Commission is fulfilled, there will be a general apostasy, which will occur for a brief time prior to the Second Coming of the Lord.

We should agree that the events of the Second Coming are as follows:

  • The resurrection of the dead, of the just and of the unjust.
  • The final judgment.
  • The end of the world.
  • The consummation of Christ’s kingdom.

This is called the “common church doctrine,” because it has been the prevalent idea among all Christians for 2000 years. For the first few hundred years of church history, the common doctrine did not even have a name. There was no elaborate differentiation of millennial theories such as is found among today’s Bible scholars. It was simply the broad statement of faith of the Apostle’s Creed and the teachings of the church fathers.

The Rift in the Common Eschatology of the Church

At face value, there is no great contradiction between premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism in light of the common church doctrine. The common church doctrine is that there is to be a personal, visible, and glorious advent of the Son of God. The main debate between premillennialists, amillennialists and postmillennialists is over the exact chronology of end-times events, and more importantly, the exact nature of the millennium. Is Christ’s rule during the millennium heavenly or earthly? Is there a thousand year gap between the Second Coming and the final judgment? Are certain biblical passages to be understood as end-times events or as already fulfilled prophecy? Is Revelation to be interpreted literally or figuratively?

Two of the most common objections to postmillennialists are that we spiritualize too much of the book of Revelation and that we postmillennialists are people who want to establish Christ’s kingdom on earth by “taking over the world using the arm of the flesh.”

Earthly Rule vs. Heavenly Rule

The debate between earthly rule vs. heavenly rule is not new. Classic Premillennialism has been a view of the church since the early centuries. At that time, the idea was called chiliasm (also known as millennarianism). Chiliasm is derived from Greek word for “thousand,” kilo. A chiliast is a person who teaches that the “thousand year” reign of Christ depicted by John in Revelation 20, is an earthly, immanent kingdom.

Yet if Revelation 20:9 is read through a premillennial filter (with Christ ruling from an earthly Jerusalem during a future 1000 year period), then Christ will rule from an earthly Jerusalem in Palestine. Even more problematic is the teaching that Christ’s kingdom is postponed until the Second Coming.

“My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

“Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Mt. 28:18).

“The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your foot- stool’” (Acts 2:34-35).

“Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone” (John 6:15).

“[God] raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20-21).

“Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).

“For here [on earth] we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Heb. 13:13-14).

“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country … for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:16).

Postmillennialsits try to be as consistent as possible with the whole Bible’s teaching on the kingdom of God. According to Jesus, the kingdom of God is not earthly but heavenly, yet Christ rules over the nations from heaven now. Christ does not have to wait to be given earthly authority, because it has already been given.

Throughout history, premillennialists have often made predictions as to the exact date of the premillennial return of Jesus Christ. The year 1000 A.D. was thought to be the time off Jesus’ Second Coming by chiliasts of that era. So too, the year 2000 is thought to be somewhere near the “end-times.” The Bible teaches that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); nor does it consist of earthly things (Rom. 14:17). Jesus said to His disciples concerning His Second Coming: “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His authority” (Acts 1:7).

The Second Coming and the Final Judgment

Premillennialism teaches that there is a 1000-year gap between the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgment. The resurrection of the saints and the resurrection of the wicked are also separated by a thousand years. (The dispensational premillennialist view separates these two events by 1007 years.) Both the postmillennialist and amillennialist view maintain that these events are virtually simultaneous. Which view does the Bible support?

“… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Th. 1:7-10).

“But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death…. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:23-25, 50-54).

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3: -12).

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John. 5:28-29).

Through a careful examination of these scriptures and others describing the Second Coming, I found no evidence for a premillennial advent. In fact, I came to believe that the Bible explicitly teaches a simultaneous Second Coming and final judgment.

What then can be the meaning of the millennium in Revelation 20? Many Christians throughout history have assumed that the millennium cannot be here now, because of “all the evil things that are going on in the world.” As evidence of this, the scripture is given that Satan is still the “prince of this world” (John 16:11) and therefore Christ’s rule has not yet come.

As supposed proof that the millennium is a future, earthly kingdom, Stortz quotes Revelation 20:3: “He threw Him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nation anymore until the thousand years were ended.” Stortz thus argues, “This is not the Millennium, because Satan is still deceiving the nations.”

While it is true that Satan is not bound in every respect, it is still true that Satan is bound in respect to having dominion over the heathen nations. Until Christ came, the Satan was not bound in this manner. But ever since the Gospel of the kingdom was preached, this power of hell has been vanquished. Jesus states in John 16:11 that although Satan is the “prince of this world,” that he is already judged by God. In fact, Jesus demonstrated his dominion over demons as a sign that the kingdom had indeed come. “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Postmillennialists view the millennium as the metaphor to describe the reign of Christ’s kingdom in history. Although the kingdom won’t come in its fullness until Christ returns, the kingdom has already come through the ministry of Christ. Although it is a heavenly kingdom with the seat of authority in heaven, it is also manifest in the earth.

Futurism vs. Preterism

Since premillennialists interpret the millennium to be a future earthly kingdom, they also assign nearly every biblical prophecy in Daniel, Matthew 25 (the Mount Olivet Discourse) and Revelation (as well as many other “apocalyptic” passages in scripture) to the future and usually the not-too-distant future.

My interpretation of most of the book of Revelation is preterist. That is, most of the book of Revelation (and the Mount of Olivet Discourse) deals with first century events. Daniel deals mainly with events leading up to the first coming of Chris, not his Second Coming. These are not primarily eschatological books, although the Second Coming comes into view in these prophecies.

Daniel Interpreted

I agree with Storz’s critique of the popular dispensational approach to Daniel. There is no break in the 70 years of Daniel that leads us to the time of Christ and picks up again during a future “end-times” tribulation. I see this seventy years as continuous. My main disagreement with Storz is that although he correctly sees Daniel as fulfilled prophecy, he still places the book of Revelation in the far off future. Daniel is, in fact, the back drop to Revelation. This is an interpretive approach little understood in our day. This situation underscores my contention that the main issues between postmillennialists and other vew, arise not just from our different interpretation of Revelation 20, but from a vastly different hermeneutical approach to the entire Bible.

Many Bible interpreters, especially premillennialists, have sought to apply a futurist interpretation placing at least some of the events described in chapters 2, 7-12 as yet to take place. The best possible explanation of Daniel is preterist interpretation. The events described in Daniel were fulfilled at or before the time of Christ. This position creates the least amount of problems from an interpretive standpoint. Only a fair knowledge of ancient history is needed to do this. Nevertheless, there are few commentaries on the bookshelves today fully describing the preterist point of view.

From our perspective today, an understanding of Daniel is paramount to understanding the Mount of Olives Discourse in Matthew 24, Luke 20 and Mark 13. In two of these passages, Jesus refers to the “abomination of desolation refereed to in the prophecy of Daniel.” In Mark 13:14, the author inserts the aside: (“let the reader understand”).

“Understand what exactly?” one might ask.

Obviously, from the context, we must understand this passage of Daniel. And unless we have the correct interpretation of Daniel, we will not be able to understand the Mount of Olives Discourse. Therefore, a historical approach to Daniel is necessary for understanding the purpose of the book of Daniel. Daniel was a prophecy given so that the restored Jews would know the times and events surrounding the coming of the Messiah. That is the main purpose of Daniel chapters 2, 7-12.

I cannot in so short a space, include my entire interpretation of Daniel from a preterist approach. However, I will present a short preterist interpretation of Daniel chapters 2, 7, 9-12. I will conclude by showing the flaws in futurist approaches. What follows is not meant to be a complete commentary on the entire book of Daniel or even an exhaustive treatment of the passages quoted here. I am here merely interpreting the language and symbols of the predictive passages by applying them to known historical events.

Daniel 2 — In this chapter, Daniel interprets a dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. It’s important to note that Daniel had apparently had the same dream or vision, because he first tells the king the contents of the dream he had. Daniel then interprets the dream.

36. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

Another kingdom inferior to thee — This refers to the Medes and the Persians.

Another third kingdom of brass — This refers to the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great.

40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.

The fourth kingdom — The successors of Alexander, the kings of Syria and Egypt, arose after Alexander’s untimely death. This includes the entire Greco-Roman period including the Roman Empire. Up until the time of the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire was plagued by numerous civil wars. Although some commentators disagree here, the fourth kingdom is thought to include the entire time from Alexander until the rule of the ten kings, the Roman Emperors, who brought Pax Romana (“peace”) to the Empire.

41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

Iron mixed with miry clay — This refers to the military might of the Roman Empire which brought a forced union of all the nations of the world including the nations of Judea and Samaria. Thus the seed of men are the Jews at the time of the Roman Empire who were mixed with the iron military might of the Empire, but did not come fully under the dominion of Caesar.

44. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

And in the days of these kings — Simply put, in the days of the Roman Empire. At that time, the kingdom of God will be brought to earth by Jesus Christ shall never be destroyed but it shall war against the kingdoms of this world and they shall become part of the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Rev 11:15).

45. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

The stone made without hands — This does not refer to Jesus the Messiah himself as many futurists have imagined. But it is stated plainly that the stone is the kingdom of God. This kingdom appeared in the days of the Roman Empire at the coming of Christ.

Daniel was rewarded for telling the dream and giving the interpretation. The king made Daniel the ruler over Babylon. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego became rulers over the provinces of Babylon.

Daniel 7 — Another king arose in Babylon. Daniel now has great authority in the kingdom. In this chapter, it is Daniel himself who relates a vision and its interpretation.

1. In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.
2. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
4 . The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.
5. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh.
6. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.
7. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

Four great beasts — These again are the four great kingdoms, the Chaldean, Medio-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. This is the same vision as in chapter two, but with different symbolism. While some choose to understand the fourth beast as the successors of Alexander, especially the kings who ruled in Asia and Syria, the thrust of the whole prophecy of Daniel indicates that it is the Roman Empire at the time of the coming of Christ.

Ten horns — These are the ten kings also mentioned in Revelation 17:12. These ten kings are the ten Emperors of the Roman Empire to 70 AD. The Roman Emperors were greater than all the other world rulers before him. Including Julius Caesar, there are ten Emperors until the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. They are Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian. The reign of these kings parallel the period of the ministry of the Messiah and of the Apostles.

8. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

Another little horn — Some have applied this to the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes shorrtly after the time of Alexander. Antiochus’ desecration of the Temple in 336 BC is prophesied in Daniel 8:9. But keeping with the consistent application of this passage to the Roman Empire, I must conclude that this speaks of Nero Caesar. He is the little horn “among them” the sixth of the ten Emperors. Thus he is “another little horn.”

Three of the first horns plucked up by the roots — Three Emperors, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius were assassinated to make way for Nero, who was not in the line of succession.

9. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

The Ancient of days — This passage speaks of God the Father. This is one of the Old Testament passages in which we see the three persons Trinity. Some interpret the “fiery stream” a symbolizing the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

11 I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.

The beast was slain — This speaks of the destruction of the Roman Empire and especially of Nero who committed suicide by slaying himself with a military sword used to kill many people.

12. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

As concerning the rest of the beasts — After Nero, the power of the Roman Emperors was greatly diminished, yet they continued.

13. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

The Son of Man — This speaks of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is fully God and fully man. In the Gospels, Jesus identities himself as the “Son of man” in order to identify himself as the Messiah.

14 . And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Dominion, and glory, and a kingdom — Christ was given the keys of the kingdom by God the Father when he sat down at the right hand of God after His resurrection and ascension. This kingdom is not a future kingdom. It began in the days of the Roman Empire. It overcame Rome and will overcome all the kingdoms of this world. It will last forever.

15. I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
18. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.

The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom — Here is a dominion mandate given not only to Christ, but to the saints. We are to possess the whole kingdom the whole world for the dominion of Jesus Christ. This commission was given at the time of Christ.

19. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20. And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, andbefore whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.

Before whom three fell — During the life-time of Nero three Caesars were assassinated in order to make way for him. These were Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.

21. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;

The same horn made war with the saints — Nero began a persecution of the saints which began in 63 AD and lasted until his death.

22. Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
24. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

Another shall rise after them — Nero was born one year after the death of the first Caesar Augustus. Nero was not in the direct line of succession, but three Emperors were assassinated to make way for him.

25. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Until a time and times and the dividing of time — Literally, “time, times, half a time.” If we understand a time to mean a year, then it is three and a half years. Nero’s persecution of the church lasted exactly 42 months or three and a half years.

26. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
27. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
28. Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.

An everlasting kingdom — The purpose of this passage, and the entire prophecy of Daniel, is to give the Jews a correct understanding of the time when the Messiah would come and to declare when the kingdom of heaven would come on earth.

Daniel 9 — When Jesus declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, he alluded to Daniel stating that He was the Messiah, the Son of man spoken of by Daniel. In this chapter, the exact timing of the coming of the Messiah is given.

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Seventy weeks of years, i.e., 490 years, are determined until the time of the coming of the Messiah, the Christ.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall,even in troublous times.

From the going forth of the commandment, etc.: i.e., from the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, when by his commandment Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2). From this time, according to the best chronology, there were just 69 weeks of years (483 years) to the baptism of Jesus Christ, when he first began to preach and execute the office of the Messiah.

Even in troublous times — This refers to the difficulties and obstacles Nehemiah met in building, and to the shortness of time in which they finished the wall, i.e., fifty-two days.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

And the people of the prince — The Roman legions under their general, Titus, the son of the Emperor Vespasian, who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

In the midst of the week, or, in the middle of the week — Christ preached for three-and a-half years and then by His sacrifice on the cross abolished all the sacrifices of the law.

The overspreading of abominations — This most likely refers to the “abomination of desolation” the bringing of ensigns and standards of the pagan Romans in to the Temple. Antiochus Epiphanes of the Assyrians profaned the Temple restored in the time of Ezra. Titus, Roman destructor of Herod’s Temple, profaned the Temple in 70 AD. This could also refer to the profanation of the Temple by the Jews who rejected the Messiah.

Daniel 10 — Beginning in Daniel 10 and throughout the rest of the visions, Daniel is given a list of kings who will drive most of world history until the time of the Messiah. Futurists will apply an interpretation to these chapters that puts all of these rulers in the future. However, a preterist approach is a great testimony to the power of the scriptures as God’s Word. It is amazing that these prophecies have been fulfilled to the minutest detail. here we have an accurate outline of history, prophesied even before any of the events took place, which point to the exact time of the coming of the Messiah. So that we should not miss the Messiah, the major world rulers of the fourth kingdom, Greece and Rome, leading up to the time of Christ are depicted. In Daniel 10, an angel appears to the prophet and gives an interpretation of a vision. This prophecy occurs during the reign of Cyrus, king of the Persians.

Daniel 11 — The angel shows Daniel the wars and succession of kings in the Persian and Grecian empires. The kings of Egypt and Syria are noted. Judea was between their dominions, and affected by their wars. The remainder of this chapter is controversial. Commentators differ much respecting it. Many commentators have interpreted these verses to pertain to a future antichrist, however, the context points us to Antiochus Epiphanes, the cruel and violent persecutor of the Jews. The end of chapter 11 brings us to the beginning of the Roman Empire, to “the days of those kings” (Daniel 2:44).

Daniel 12 — The end of the book of Daniel speaks to us about the events of the first century.

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

There shall be a time of trouble — Refers to the great tribulation from 68 to 70 AD.

2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake — This refers to the gospel being preached. Many who sleep in the dust, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be awakened by it out of their heathenism of Judaism. And in the end the multitude that sleep in the dust shall awake; many shall arise to life, and many to shame.

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

They that be wise shall shine — There is glory reserved for all the saints in the future state, for all that are wise, wise for their souls and eternity. Those who turn many to righteousness, who turn sinners from the errors of their ways, and help to save their souls from death (James 5:20) will share in the glory of those they have helped to heaven, which will add to their own glory.

4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

The time of the end — The time when these prophecies shall be fulfilled. This is not a reference to the “end-times.”

8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Thousand two hundred and ninety days — This refers to the siege of Jerusalem from Spring 67 AD to the fall of the Temple in Sept. 70. Vespasian enters the Land in Spring 67, but Jerusalem does not fall until 70.

12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

Thousand three hundred and five and thirty days — This is another 45 days beyond the time of trouble. Those who were forewarned and survived the holocaust were Christians living in Jerusalem who had been forewarned by Jesus’ prophecy to flee the city to the hills of Judea in order to wait out the siege.

13 But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

The end of the days — The end of the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. This does not refer to the “end times” in an eschatological sense as many have supposed.

The Futurist and “Dual Fulfillment” Dilemma

After understanding the strong argument in favor of the preterist interpretation, many will readily admit that what I have described here is, more or less, the correct interpretation. Some scholars and Bible students, still wanting to cling to a futurist interpretation, then propose what is termed the “Dual Fulfillment Theory.”

It is obvious that most of Daniel’s prophecies have been fulfilled. Most futurists readily admit this, but do not make the historical applications to all of the kingdoms and rulers of ancient history as I have done here. What they do instead is to take some of the obscure passages and apply them to future events.

Could it be that prophecies work on a number of different levels? That it was, on one level, speaking about some things that were about to happen but that it could be speaking to us today about things that are about to take place? Is there such a thing as a “dual fulfillment” of the prophecies in Revelation?

Are we to believe that all of the details of Daniel , the Mount Olivet Discourse, and Revelation occur twice? Two six-sealed scrolls? Two beasts? Two groups of 144,000? Two Armageddons? Two Millenniums? On and on we could go. If you adopt a dual-fulfillment view, you are doing so on the basis of theological prejudice, not sound methods of interpretation.

Literal vs. Figurative

Postmillennialists are criticized when we understand “thousand” as a figurative term meaning a “very long time.” Ironically, premillennialists take very little of chapter 20 literally. Do premillennialists teach that armies in the future will be riding horses and using wooden weapons? Are there literally going to be two countries named Gog and Magog? It is impossible for premillennialists to be perfectly consistent in this approach.

When premillennialists insist that every “thousand” in the Bible be taken literally, I point them to the following passage.

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations” (Deut. 7:9).

If a generation is at least forty years, and a “thousand generations” is taken literally here, then the Second Coming cannot occur until at least 40,000 years after Abraham still a long way off! So whether you must always take a “thousand” literally or not, postmillennialism is true in the respect that we still have a long way to go before Christ’s Second Coming.

For many, that will seem incredible. It cuts across the grain of the most recent popular teachings on the end-times. For years, Christians have been taught to expect defeat and a quick deliverance from tribulation. Yet postmillennial optimism is not a new idea. In fact, most Christians throughout history held to a hopeful eschatology. Most regarded the eschatology of defeat to be a tertiary heresy.

The Bible gives us the eschatology of victory. This is not blind optimism. There will be tribulation. But before the Second Coming of Christ, the Gospel will be preached and Christianity will take root, grow, and bear fruit throughout the world.

Jay Rogers

Premillennialism Dispensationalism Refuted

One of the more popular versions of eschatology, especially within evangelical and fundamentalist circles is premillenial dispensationalism. This view has developed only recently (1830s) but became very popular due to the spread of the view in Scofield's Study Bible. The tragedy is that many of the advocates of this view are not familiar with its recent historical origins. If they were, they would likely have reservations accepting such a recently developed eschatology. 

For those unfamiliar with the view an article by Jay Rogers (The Forerunner) does a very good job presenting it in an easy to understand format.   

“Are you pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib?”

This is the too often the entire scope of eschatological debate among today’s Christians. Dispensational premillennialism is the view of most 21st century evangelical Christians. Indeed, most would be surprised to discover that the great figures of the Christian faith, such as Athanasius, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, wrote absolutely nothing on the “rapture” nor the “seven year tribulation.” Such ideas were foreign to them. Dispensational eschatology, with its elaborate prophecy charts and theories on the “mark of the Beast,” appeared on the scene as recently as 1830. Yet it did not become a prevailing view until the beginning of the 20th century.

I begin with this point of rebuttal. If a doctrine is new, then it probably isn’t true.

For 1800 years, Christian orthodoxy prevailed without encountering the elaborate prophecy charts devised by followers of Scofield and Darby. While the classic premillennial view separates the second coming and the judgment by 1000 years, dispensational premillennialism a view never heard before 1830 separates these two events by 1007 years. Dispensationalism teaches, in effect, three Second Comings: the coming of Christ for the saints at the rapture; the coming of Christ to the earth at the end of the seven year tribulation; and the Father’s coming at the end of the millennium.

If you hold strongly to the dispensational view as the only view and certainly the view of the Bible you should put aside your prejudices for a moment. You should take the time to examine and understand the three more prominent historical views. Finally, you should make judgments pertaining to the plain meaning of the Bible’s texts. The best interpreter of scripture is scripture, not the teachings of so-called “end-times prophecy experts.”

Dispensational premillennialism is the eschatological view furthest from postmillennialism. Here there is the strongest disagreement. The two views are furthest apart on the theological spectrum. We disagree not just in views of the “end-times,” the rapture, the antichrist, the tribulation, and the millennium, but even more fundamentally on the method of interpreting the Bible. The two approaches to scripture are so radically different that postmillennialists and dispensational premillennialists have entirely different worldviews.

Two Views of the Bible

Dispensationalism is derived from the idea that God has worked in different ways throughout history through different economies or dispensations. A dispensationalist makes a severe division between the Old and New Covenants, God acting with wrath and vengeance in the Old Testament and with love and grace in the New Testament. Dispensationalism teaches the imminent “secret” rapture of the Church, divides the end times into several dispensations, and teaches a conspiratorial view of history with evil forces rivaling the forces of God.

John Nelson Darby, founder of a group called the Plymouth Brethren in the 1830s, is the father of modern dispensationalism. Darby taught that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent. He rejected the creeds of the early Church and believed social reform to be useless. C.I. Scofield, a Texas pastor, popularized the teachings of J.N. Darby in a systematic theology known as dispensational premillennialism. C.I. Scofield first compiled his reference Bible as a teaching aid for missionaries. It soon became one of the most widely used tools for Bible study among entire denominations such as Southern Baptists and Disciples of Christ.

Despite the fact that many of the early dispensationalists were orthodox Christians, this shift in theology paved the way for an much greater error, antinomianism, which means literally “anti-law.” Antinomianism states that since man is saved by faith alone, and since faith frees the Christian from the law, he no longer bound to obey the law. Antinomianism creates a false theological system in which the laws of the Bible cannot apply to governing the individual or society. Dispensationalism promoted antinomian thinking by de-emphasizing the relationship of the Old Testament law to the individual under the New Testament. In turn this led to a waning influence of Christians in society, since most of the laws pertaining to civil government are found in the Old Testament.

To the orthodox Christian, the unity of the covenants of Scripture and the moral law of God are obvious foundations of Christian social order. The covenantal idea of God’s unchanging eternal covenant and a corresponding high view the moral law of God, stand in stark contrast to dispensationalism and antinomianism.

The dispensational theory of premillennialism has gained great popularity mainly among modern evangelicals. The dispensational view of premillennialism, with its elaborate conspiracy theories, time tables, charts and graphic scenarios, is essentially a chiliast error. It has been most often accompanied by the false notion that the Second Coming is a predictable event with an identifiable time-table. This is despite Christ’s warning that “it is not for you to know the times or the seasons” (Acts 1:7).

The fascination with the exact date of the Second Coming always appears as history approaches years with big round numbers. Chiliasm reappeared shortly before 500, 1000 and 1500 AD. Not surprisingly, we saw a reemergence of this error in full force as we approached 2000. Financially profitable publications advancing theories and speculations on the Second Coming are appearing everywhere. In contrast to Christ’s biblical admonition against predicting the time of the Second Coming (Mat. 25:13), many evangelical books authored in recent years have predicted the exact time of the Second Advent, for example: Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, Edgar Whisenant’s, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be In 1988, and Harold Camping’s1994, which was a best seller in 1993, and the novel series, Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye.

However, now that we have passed the millennial milestone of 2000, many Christians are reconsidering their eschatological viewpoint. Many Christians have been taught that geo-political Israel would be a focus of end-times events. Seeing now that over 50 years have passed since the establishment of a Jewish nation-state, many are reconsidering an alternate interpretation of both the Mount Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation.

Covenantal Theology

In the historic view, the covenant and the law of God have always been the obvious foundations of a godly social order. Covenantal theology laid the groundwork for a political theory which held that the family, the church, civil government, and all society came into being as a contract on the basis of God’s eternal covenant. Hence, the moral law of God must be the foundation for a society’s laws and civil order.

The Puritans held to this covenantal or “federal” theology which maintains that God operates through covenants, or eternally binding legal agreements with men. The Old and New Covenants are God’s basis for governing the universe. There is no division between the Covenants. The New Covenant is built firmly on the foundation of the Old Covenant. This presupposes that the Law does not change: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). God is not a dispensational, evolving, developing God; He is a God that never changes: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

This is true of both the Old and New Covenant. We have in the Bible 66 books that are really one book. We should interpret scripture with scripture. Daniel, the Mount Olivet Discourse, and the book of Revelation are commentaries on one another. In essence, Revelation is the capstone of all biblical prophecy pointing to the timing of the coming of the Messiah in the first century. If we understand Revelation as being John’s commentary on the same events described by Jesus in the Mount Olivet Discourse, then a mostly preterist perspective is the only approach that makes any sense.

I believe that most of what is written in the book of Revelation was fulfilled in 70 AD. Yet the first time I heard this idea, I was shocked that anyone could propose such a theory. However, when I began to study church history, I began to understand more about the context in which Revelation was written. I was then introduced to some solid preterist commentaries on Revelation and found solid confirmation.

We are not headed toward an end-times tribulation. This has astounding implications for how we should live our lives. Scofield and Darby wrote in the 1800s that since the time was so short and since evil was on the rise (so they thought) Christians ought not involve themselves in social or political issues, but ought to be concerned instead with the saving of souls. Dispensationalists have taught this for over 170 years. Thus pessimistic, conspiratorial thinking has become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Christians have retreated from involvement in the world because of a faulty theology that states that the world is predestined to get worse and worse. And because of this retreat, the world has become worse in many respects. The default of Christians on many social issues has led to increasing godlessness in western societies. But all this can change if enough evangelicals make the necessary paradigm shift toward a vibrant, robust covenantal theology. What the nations of the world experience in the next few years will largely depend on the obedience of Christians to the word of God.

What about the rapture?

In my rebuttal to classic premillennialism, I argue that the purpose of the book of Daniel is to point the Jews to the exact time and circumstances surrounding the coming of the Messiah. The main purpose of Daniel’s prophecy is to point to the first advent, not the second advent. Further, the context of 1 Corinthians 15:23-25;50-54 indicates a simultaneous Second Coming and final judgment.

So what about the rapture? Is the rapture secret or not? Postmillennialists believe in the rapture. We simply do not believe in the dispensationalist version of this great event. The rapture is synonymous with the resurrection of the righteous. However, this event will not be secret. It will not occur seven years prior to a future millennium, nor 1007 years prior to the final judgment. Postmillennialists believe in the rapture. We believe it will occur at the time of the Second Coming, just before the final judgment,after the millennial reign is complete.

Waugh writes: “The rapture HAS to happen BEFORE the Great Tribulation.” As an apparent proof text, Waugh quotes the question asked by Christ: “But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when He comes?”(Luke 18:8). Waugh wants to believe that the Son of Man will not find faith on the earth when He returns.

Yet we postmillennnialists see great victory for the Gospel in history. “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord , ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills’” (Amos 9:13).

Obviously, postmillennialists don’t interpret Luke 18:8 in the negative. The whole context of this parable is that it is to demonstrate that we always ought to pray in faith and never to grow weary of praying.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

The question, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” is demonstrative rather than interrogative, that is, the answer is not “yes” or “no.” The question concludes the parable as a rhetorical device. We as Christians must pray in faith and never grow weary. We are commanded by our Lord to pray even if the answer to prayer is late in coming, even until the time when the Son of Man returns to the earth.

The Preterist View of Revelation

The preterist view of Revelation — that it was to be a warning and an encouragement to the early Church that was about to face the wrath of Nero and the Roman armies — would makes little or no sense unless the church at that time understood it as such. Is there any evidence that they did?

Ironically this question exposes the error of the futurist viewpoint. It recognizes the need of Revelation’s relevance to its first century audience, which preterism fits perfectly.

Revelation’s warning about Rome and the coming Jewish War are matters found not only in this book. The same warning is given the Olivet Discourse (Mat. 24), the parables of Jesus (Mat. 20-23), and various warnings of impending judgment elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Thessalonians; Hebrews; James; 1 Peter).

The question should be asked whether Christians understood those references too. We know that the early Christians understood the coming judgment upon Israel and Jerusalem. Eusebius mentions the Christians in Judea escaping as the Jewish War broke out. Later commentaries on Revelation indicate that its events refer to the Jewish War. For example, the Syriac versions of Revelation mention it was written under Nero; Andreas and Arethas of Capadocia and the Sibylline Oracles also refer to Nero as the Beast.

The Context of Revelation

Do preterists believe there is a future Armageddon? If not then do we believe there is going to be war again in the Middle East? (Premillennialists have been predicting an imminent Armageddon in Israel for many years.)

With the developments in the Middle East, with terrorism on the rise, a war in Afghanistan, and Iran and Iraq’s possession of nuclear technology to destroy Israel (and all the power plays concerning that) is there going to be a future final conflagration?

Yes, but it occurs at the end of the millennium, not at the beginning (Rev. 20). Further, it will occur after a time of “peace and safety” not as the culmination of many years of “wars and rumors of wars.” Since we are not anywhere near the end of the millennium (neither from a premillennial nor postmillennial view) I do not see a brewing war in the Middle East as a possible fulfillment of Revelation 20.

According to Rev. 20, there a war between the rebellious among the nations of the world and Christ himself. It will serve to separate the wheat from the chaff on the earth in just before the final judgment. It will occur among all the nations of the world.

Many preterists see the events in Rev. 16 (the Battle of Armageddon) as having already taken place at the time of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In any case, Revelation 16 and 20 are not about geo-political developments in the 20th century Middle East.

Victory or Defeat?

Dispensational premillennialism presents a worldview in diametric opposition to postmillennialism. Dispensationalism teaches, in essence, that evil is a greater force than good in history. Current world events are interpreted in a conspiratorial light. The church as a whole will fall into apostasy and will fail to fulfill the Great Commission. Christ will appear with an angelic cavalry with trumpets blaring to rescue a remnant.

Dispensational premillennialism places the Church in a position of an “evangelism-only” role in the End Times (since Christ’s Second Coming could be very near, it is necessary to save as many as possible while there is still time left); it places the appearance of the Antichrist’s one-world-government somewhere during the last seven years of time; and it usually involves a Great Tribulation in the last seven years of time, during which the Church is to be raptured, or physically caught up to be in heaven with Jesus. At the end of this Tribulation Period, the Second Coming occurs and the saints who were caught up to be in heaven for a period of time return to rule and reign with Jesus on the earth.

Postmillennialism places the Church in a role, not only of evangelism, but of discipling the nations as well (not only will many be saved, but whole social structures will be transformed); the rule of the Antichrist is more loosely interpreted as the current world system of Satan which is being overthrown by the progressive, sovereign judgments of God; thus “tribulation” is viewed, not as a seven-year time period, but as the sum total of all the judgments of God in history, and although the rapture is not usually focused upon, it does occur at the very end of the millennium when Jesus returns physically to the earth and the saints are simultaneously caught away to be with Jesus. Before the Second Coming, the Church’s role is to rule with Christ, not in heaven, but as His ambassadors on earth.

Your view of the end-times will affect how you view current events and it will even greater affect how you respond to the call of missions. If your worldview is dominated by conspiracy, then you need to change your thinking to allow the Providence of God to have full reign in the course of history and in your life.

Jay Rogers

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