Scriptures

Premillennialism

Introduction

The foundation of Premillennialism teaching is, simply this, the Jews will return to Palestine. So, let’s go ahead and see what the Scriptures actually teach.

The land promised

Notice God’s promise to Abraham.

Genesis 12:1-3 ‘The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all the nations.’

God asked Abraham to leave a thriving world but Abraham didn’t know where he was going.

Notice now God’s covenant with Abraham, Abraham fell into a trance.

Genesis 15:17 ‘When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch suddenly appeared and passed between the pieces of the animals’.

Normally two people would walk in-between the animals and make a covenant but on this occasion, it was only God who walked through not Abraham.

Genesis 15:18-21 ‘Then and there the Lord made a covenant with Abram. He said, ‘I promise to give your descendants all this land from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates River, including the lands of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’

This is speaking of a land that isn’t theirs and won’t be for another for 400 years, Egypt.

Why?

Because God was preparing them. Remember they were used to living in tents, and so, God wanted to give them stability.

Genesis 12:1-3 ‘The Lord said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse those who curse you. And through you I will bless all the nations.’

In God’s promises to Abraham, there are 7 promises within. Land promise, Possessions, Protection and Prosperity, ‘a son’,

Genesis 3:15 ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’

Premillennialists don’t believe the promise was fulfilled but the Bible says otherwise.

The land promise fulfilled

Joshua 24:13-27 ‘I gave you a land that you had never worked and cities that you had not built. Now you are living there and eating grapes from vines that you did not plant, and olives from trees that you did not plant.’ ‘Now then,’ Joshua continued, ‘honour the Lord and serve him sincerely and faithfully. Get rid of the gods which your ancestors used to worship in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve only the Lord. If you are not willing to serve him, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living. As for my family and me, we will serve the Lord.’ The people replied, ‘We would never leave the Lord to serve other gods! The Lord our God brought our fathers and us out of slavery in Egypt, and we saw the miracles that he performed. He kept us safe wherever we went among all the nations through which we passed. As we advanced into this land, the Lord drove out all the Amorites who lived here. So, we also will serve the Lord; he is our God.’ Joshua said to the people, ‘But you may not be able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God and will not forgive your sins. He will tolerate no rivals, and if you leave him to serve foreign gods, he will turn against you and punish you. He will destroy you, even though he was good to you before.’ The people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.’ Joshua told them, ‘You are your own witnesses to the fact that you have chosen to serve the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ they said, ‘we are witnesses.’ ‘Then get rid of those foreign gods that you have,’ he demanded, ‘and pledge your loyalty to the Lord, the God of Israel.’ The people then said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey his commands.’ So, Joshua made a covenant for the people that day, and there at Shechem he gave them laws and rules to follow. Joshua wrote these commands in the book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak tree in the Lord’s sanctuary. He said to all the people, ‘This stone will be our witness. It has heard all the words that the Lord has spoken to us. So, it will be a witness against you, to keep you from rebelling against your God.’

Deuteronomy 32:7 ‘Think of the past, of the time long ago; ask your parents to tell you what happened, ask the old people to tell of the past’.

Deuteronomy 32:17 ‘They sacrificed to gods that are not real, new gods their ancestors had never known, gods that Israel had never obeyed’.

Genesis 15:18-21 ‘On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’

Further proof that the land promise was fulfilled

Nehemiah 9:8 ‘You found that he was faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him. You promised to give him the land of the Canaanites, the land of the Hittites and the Amorites, the land of the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Girgashites, to be a land where his descendants would live. You kept your promise, because you are faithful.’

Joshua 21:43 ‘So the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he had solemnly promised their ancestors he would give them. When they had taken possession of it, they settled down there.’

So very clearly, we see that God kept His promise and gave them the land, so the notion or idea that the promise of land was never fulfilled is flawed.

The land promise was conditional

Deuteronomy 28:58-63 ‘If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God— the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.’

At the end of the book of Joshua, he gives the people a strong reminder that they need to obey the Law, Joshua 23:6. If they fail, the consequence will be exile,

‘If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.’ Joshua 23:16

God had made it clear that if Israel were not obedient, He would send them into exile. That is why the exile happened.

‘Therefore, the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.’ 2 Kings 17:20

God says if your obedient, good things will happen if you are disobedient bad things will happen.

An object lesson

Israel was supposed to be an object lesson.

Exodus 19:5-6 ‘Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people, a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests.’

They were supposed to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. They were to bring the world back to God. They were to act like mediators between the world and God.

The tribe of Levi was chosen to mediate between the Israelites and God.

Exodus 32:29 ‘Moses said to the Levites, “Today you have consecrated yourselves as priests in the service of the Lord by killing your sons and brothers, so the LORD has given you his blessing.’

During the captivity, ten tribes never returned home. Two tribes did, Judah and Benjamin, as God had promised.

Jeremiah 21:10 ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place.’

Ezra 1:1-5 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfil the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: ‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’ Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved— prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.’

Israel rejected

Matthew 21:33-46 ‘Listen to another parable,’ Jesus said. ‘There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to tenants and left home on a trip. When the time came to gather the grapes, he sent his slaves to the tenants to receive his share of the harvest. The tenants grabbed his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again, the man sent other slaves, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all he sent his son to them. ‘Surely, they will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the owner’s son. Come on, let’s kill him, and we will get his property!’ So, they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ Jesus asked. ‘He will certainly kill those evil men,’ they answered, ‘and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest at the right time.” Jesus said to them, ‘Haven’t you ever read what the Scriptures say?’The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all. This was done by the Lord; what a wonderful sight it is!’ ‘And so, I tell you,’ added Jesus, ‘the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the proper fruits.’ The chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables and knew that he was talking about them, so they tried to arrest him. But they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet’.

Jesus’ parable signifies the very moment that God rejected Israel.

God’s original plan fulfilled

1 Peter 2:9-10 ‘But you are the chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvellous light. At one time, you were not God’s people, but now you are his people; at one time, you did not know God’s mercy, but now you have received his mercy’.

Like we looked at earlier, Israel was supposed to be an object lesson, Exodus 19:5-6. They were supposed to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. They were to bring the world back to God. They were to act like mediators between the world and God and now Peter says all Christians are a holy nation of priests and now the Gentiles would now be the new Israel.

The vine was the symbol of Israel

John 15:1-8 ‘I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. He breaks off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. You have been made clean already by the teaching I have given you. Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me. Those who do not remain in me are thrown out like a branch and dry up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, where they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way, you become my disciples.’

The Gospel of John is a book of ‘signs’

John 20:30-31 ‘In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other signs which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.’

John never uses the word, ‘miracle’ in his Gospel, he always sues the word, ‘sign’. A miracle was the demonstration of power, which creates wonder, which is a sign, signifies. Sixteen times, Jesus does this in John’s Gospel. Eight signs were through the things He said and eight signs through the things He did, miracles.

Salvation

The Bible tells us that all Israel can be saved, salvation is now possible. This way Israel can be saved in the same way.

Romans 11:24-27 ‘You Gentiles are like the branch of a wild olive tree that is broken off and then, contrary to nature, is joined to a cultivated olive tree. The Jews are like this cultivated tree; and it will be much easier for God to join these broken-off branches to their own tree again. There is a secret truth, my friends, which I want you to know, for it will keep you from thinking how wise you are. It is that the stubbornness of the people of Israel is not permanent, but will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to God. And this is how all Israel will be saved. As the scripture says, ‘The Saviour will come from Zion and remove all wickedness from the descendants of Jacob. I will make this covenant with them when I take away their sins.’

Inherit the land

What does it mean when the Bible talks about ‘inheriting the earth’ or inheriting inherit the land?

Matthew 5:5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’.

Basically, it means blessings for those who obey the covenant.

There is no concept of heaven in the Old Testament, there were 2 promises. Prosperity and occupancy of the land, eternal life is never promised in the Old Testament.

Psalm 73:11 ‘But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace’.

Jesus brought life and immorality to light

2 Timothy 1:9-10 ‘This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’

A new land promised

Hebrew 11:13-16 “It was in faith that all these persons died. They did not receive the things God had promised, but from a long way off they saw them and welcomed them, and admitted openly that they were foreigners and refugees on earth. Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own. They did not keep thinking about the country they had left; if they had, they would have had the chance to return. Instead, it was a better country they longed for, the heavenly country. And so, God is not ashamed for them to call him their God, because he has prepared a city for them.”

God isn’t ashamed to be their God and He has a prepared city but not here on earth, heaven but in the meantime, Christ must remain ruler until the last enemy is conquered. Christ will conquer death at his final coming.

1 Corinthians 15:25-26 ‘For Christ must rule until God defeats all enemies and puts them under his feet. The last enemy to be defeated will be death’.

Summary

God’s Promise to Abraham

The doctrine of premillennialism asserts that God ‘unconditionally’ promised Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. They also teach that the promise has never been completely granted, hence, the claim is made that the Jews eventually will be restored to Palestine in order that the Abrahamic covenant might be fulfilled.

Some actually teach that, with the establishment of Israel as an independent government in 1948, the Jewish restoration was begun, and this is a signal of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. As we looked at earlier, this idea isn’t in line with the what Scriptures teach. Concerning Canaan, God promised Abraham,

‘To your offspring I will give this land.’, Genesis 12:7

This land covenant with the patriarch involved all that land

‘from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates’, Genesis 15:18

and it was pledged to his offspring

‘for ever’, Genesis 13:15

Was the Promise Ever Totally Fulfilled?

When the law of Moses was given, provision was made for the establishment of cities of refuge where the manslayer who had killed without premeditation might flee for the preservation of his life. Initially, three cities were to be set aside for this purpose. Moses declared, however:

‘If the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he promised on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the LORD your God and to walk always in obedience to him—then you are to set aside three more cities.’ Deuteronomy 19:8-9

Thus, six cities of refuge would be evidence of the substantial fulfilment of the land promise to Abraham’s seed.

A reading of Joshua 20:7-8 reveals that the cities of Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan were assigned as havens of refuge—six cities. Thus,

‘all the land’ had been given, the land covenant has been fulfilled!

This is further demonstrated by Joshua 21:43

‘So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there.’

This refers principally to Canaan. There was to be some expansion later. Scripture specifically states of Solomon’s time,

‘And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt’. 1 Kings 4:21

2 Chronicles 9:26 ‘He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt.’

Finally, Nehemiah rehearses the fact that God brought Abraham from Ur of Chaldees to give him the land of Canaan, and, says he,

‘You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.’ Nehemiah 9:7-8

It is tragic that the premillennial theory implies the opposite.

What Is the Meaning of ‘For Ever’?

But millennialists contend that Palestine was promised to Israel ‘for ever’, (Genesis 13:15. This fails to recognise, of course, that the term ‘for ever’ isn’t always used in the Bible in a completely unlimited sense.

For instance, circumcision was an ‘everlasting covenant’, Genesis 17:13; the Passover was an ordinance ‘for ever’, Exodus 12:14; and the Levitical system had an ‘everlasting priesthood’, Numbers 25:13. These Old Testament institutions, however, passed away with the abrogation of the law, thus demonstrating that ‘for ever’ sometimes has a temporary significance.

Was the Promise Conditional?

The truth of the matter is, the Old Testament clearly indicates that Israel’s possession of Palestine was conditioned upon their faithfulness to God, a condition which they violated repeatedly, hence, it was foretold.

‘If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you’. Joshua 23:16

That time eventually came, and the Jews lost their ‘deed’ to the Promised Land!

God’s Visual Aid

In the nineteenth chapter of the book that bears his name, the prophet Jeremiah was instructed of God,

‘Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle’. Jeremiah 19:1-3

Subsequently, he was told to go to the valley of Hinnom and prophesy to the inhabitants of Jerusalem concerning their sins and their eventual destruction. As a symbol of this promised punishment, Jeremiah was commanded to ‘break the bottle’ and to proclaim its meaning.

‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired’. Jeremiah 19:11

This prophecy was partially fulfilled with a siege of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. 2 Kings 25, but was completely and ultimately fulfilled with the destruction of national Israel by the Romans in A.D. 70.

After the Jewish nation was destroyed, it was so permanently scattered by the providence of God that it ‘cannot be repaired’. Regardless of the fact that some Jews are migrating back to Palestine, they will never be restored as God’s nation!

The Pronouncement of Christ Further evidence that national Israel will never be restored is found within the teaching of Christ himself. In Matthew 21, Jesus told what is called the parable of the wicked husbandmen, the design of which was to emphasize how wretchedly the Jews had treated God’s prophets, such rebellion reaching its zenith with the crucifixion of Christ. Because of their rejection of Jehovah’s precious stone, the Lord said to the Jews:

‘Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Matthew 21:43

The inspired apostle Peter unquestionably declares that the ‘nation’ to be henceforth so blessed is God’s ‘holy nation,’ the church.

1 Peter 2:7-10 ‘Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’

The Bible is exceedingly clear, Christians are the seed of Abraham,

‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’. Galatians 3:26-29

Christians are the Israel of God.

‘Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.’ Galatians 6:16

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