The                                              
Christian Pilgrim

 

The Millennium




Introduction


The Millennium in theological terminology refers to the "thousand years" mentioned in chapter twenty of the book of Revelation. So many books and articles have been written on this subject, and the question can be legitimately asked, why do we need another one? Well, the answer is simple. All the other books and articles written on the subject not only differ so wildly from one another, but they also seem to be written from a perspective of trying to convince the reader that each theory is true simply because the author's particular church teaches that view. Church members tend to take on board the church's teachings on the last things without really thinking, whether they are right or wrong. This is blind belief and is very dangerous.

The fact remains that because we are dealing with future events, we are not really going to know which theory is actually correct (if any) until it happens, just as at Christ's first coming the majority of the church leaders of the day could not acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as being the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures; a few people only realising this after the events had occurred. Therefore by nature of the case, all theories about the Millennium are going to be exactly that - just theories (like the Atomic Theory, or the Theory of Evolution).

The Holy Spirit convinces a man of the truth, and I personally am thoroughly convinced of the truth about, for example, six-day Creation, the received texts of Scripture, the Regulative Principle, the Atonement and so on, but I have never had that same certainty about any of the theories about the Millennium that I have ever come across. I therefore proffer this small essay on the subject as a sensible and alternative theory, which I have not found elsewhere, and which I have more conviction about than all of the others.


Problems with Current Theories

There are three current groups of theories about the Millennium, and it would be sensible to begin by briefly going through them, pointing out the problems I have with each. The three groups of theories are defined by the relationship of the Millennium to the time of Christ's return. Those who argue that Christ comes before the Millennium are known as Premillennialists, those who argue that Christ comes after the Millennium are known as Postmillennialists and those who do not see a literal millennium at all but the thousand years of Revelation describing something else (such as the whole of the period between Christ's first and second comings, or the period between a believer's conversion and his death, for example) are known as Amillennialists. Within each group there are many different variations, which it is not necessary to go into in detail about here, but it is necessary to state the problems I have with each group in general before getting into the detail of expounding the theory on offer here.


Postmillennialism


Most Postmillennialists believe that the gospel alone will usher in the Millennium. The gospel will spread to the ends of the earth and many will be saved. In time, a majority of the world will be converted to Christ, nations will begin to enact laws in keeping with Christian principles rather than worldly ones and there will be a time of general peace, which they equate with the "thousand years" of Revelation 20, before Christ returns to judge the world and glorify His people. I have problems with this. Postmillennialists would derogatorily call my attitude "Pessi-millennialism," as they claim to be so positive and optimistic about the success of the gospel worldwide, as if numbers are important.


Firstly, I would like to make it clear that the gospel will perform all the work God intends it to perform, not only in the saving of all His people but in the damnation of the reprobate as well. Let us not be concerned about the failure of the gospel at all. All of God's chosen people, whoever they are, will be saved. No man can pluck them out of the Father's hand (John 10:28,29), and this is a tremendous comfort to the Christian. However we must not be ignorant of the fact that the gospel is not only a savour of life unto life to the elect but becomes a savour of death unto death to the reprobate (albeit in and of itself it is good news to them), those who have heard it being more culpable if they refuse the gospel than those who have never heard it at all (2 Corinthians 2:16). Both elect and reprobate alike glorify God, the elect glorify His glorious mercy and the reprobate His glorious justice. The idea that it is a wonderful thing that a lot of people at one particular time (in this case near the end of the world) are saved is neither here nor there. God will save all His people however many that is, and wherever they are. Indeed we are told that this will be a great multitude that no man can number (Revelation 7:9). The number of the reprobate will also be as the sand of the sea (Revelation 20:8). This is the comfort, namely that all God's people will be saved. A vision of a future "Millennium" with lots of conversions at a certain period of time is not necessary for the application of this comfort to the individual.

Secondly, it seems that the Postmillennialists cling to certain verses of Scripture which they claim refer to the conversion of the vast majority of the world in the "latter-day glory." Verses such as:

"All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." (Psalm 22:27);

or:

"In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him." (Psalm 72:7-11).

There are two things to mention about such verses. Firstly nowhere does it specifically state that towards the end of time there will be a mass turning to Christ in true salvation. Oh yes, we read in Matthew 24:14:

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."

But this just means that the gospel will be preached to all nations (note it does not even mean all people head for head) as a witness to them all. This does not mean that they will nearly all be converted, it just means it will be a witness to them, either for good or ill. All the Holy Bible mentions about this is that the gospel will be known about in all nations. Indeed even now there are very few people who have not at least heard of the name of Jesus, even if they do not know much about Him or are being taught lies about Him anyway. Secondly, when Scripture talks about the "world," or "all the ends of the world" we must remember that the Jews of the day had only ever known of salvation as being solely within their own community. In other words to be "saved" in Old Testament times one had to either be a Jew or at least come into contact with the Jews and become one. Nowadays the gospel goes to the "ends of the earth" and it is no longer confined to the Jews as before. This was a major shift in the thinking of the Jew in Biblical times, hence the emphasis on "the world," not just the Jews. It is not a blanket statement that the whole world will all necessarily be converted, rather it would suggest that some out of every tribe and nation will come to believe, rather than merely some out of just Israel.

We must also realise that Christ WILL have dominion from sea to sea (Psalm 72:8). ALL will eventually bow the knee before Christ, but not necessarily before His return by the preaching of the gospel. Those who reject Christ here will be bowing the knee in hell. All men WILL serve Him and give Him the glory:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phillippians 2:9-11).

Christ DOES have dominion over the nations and they are under His control at all times. The Postmillennialist is also wrong if he believes that a belief in the Establishment Principle (i.e. that it is the duty of the civil leader to establish the one true religion and enact laws in keeping with Christian beliefs) can only be possible if one also believes in Postmillennialism, i.e. that the world will all be subdued to Christ by the gospel. The Establishment Principle is a correct doctrine and Christians must indeed strive to get laws enacted in keeping with Christian beliefs, but it is neither here nor there what the end of such action will be, whether God chooses to make all nations "Christian" or not. We must simply do our duty. The Establishment Principle and Postmillennialism are therefore not so intertwined as to be impossible to separate them, as the Postmillennialists would have us believe.

We cannot go along with the Postmillennialist view because the Bible tells us that the world, if anything, will get worse, not better before the end:

"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:21-22).

Postmillennialists dismiss this as referring to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but is that really the only thing that the passage is about? Was that the greatest tribulation anyone has ever suffered? It was no worse than many other atrocities that have been perpetrated throughout the centuries in other parts of the world. Relatively speaking, of course, the world cannot get "worse" than it always has been - total depravity is total depravity. However, it seems that any restraints put on the sin of the world by God in His providence will be removed to a great degree and it would at least seem worse to the believer, maybe because believers will be so few at that time. Also, the Bible exhorts us to watch, for we do not know the time of the Lord's return. In order to be watchful we cannot believe that there is going to be a thousand years (or at least a very long time anyway) after the world has been "Christianised" by the gospel before Christ will come again. We see no Millennium now, no land on earth has a truly Christian government today. So the Postmillennialist's Millennium has not even started yet. So does that mean we can relax and take our ease, because we know Christ is not going to return for a long time yet (according to the Postmillennialist)? Of course not. We must be ready for His return at all times. This does not just mean that we must simply be ready for death to come to us personally at any time. The Bible specifically states that it is Christ's return we must be ready for:

"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:45-51).

We seem to be taught in Scripture that there is going to be more godlessness before the end and more troubles for the poor believers, not a spiritually aware converted world:

"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." (Matthew 25:5)

"For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." (Luke 21:35)

"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?" (Luke 18:7,8).

This is a rhetorical question. He will find faith, but not in many! What is the point of Christ asking this question if the majority on the earth when He comes again are going to have this faith?

"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).

The "peace and safety" here is a false peace that godless men have produced for themselves, without reference to God and His commandments. It is not the peace of a converted world, otherwise destruction would not come on them.

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (Matthew 24:15-22).

Postmillennialists refer this again to the fall of Jerusalem, but in the discourse it is immediately followed by the description of Christ's return, so there is at least a sense in which it refers to that time as well. The fact that v.21 is taken directly from Daniel 12:1 also confirms this.

Postmillennialists themselves believe that after the Millennium there will be a falling away because Revelation 20 states as much:

"And cast him [Satan] into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." (Revelation 20:3).

"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, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." (Revelation 20:9).

So the question stares us in the face: What on earth is the point of believing in a great time of Christian prosperity towards the end of time if the whole thing is going to collapse anyway? This falling away proves the pointlessness of the Postmillennialist finding some kind of hope or comfort in this view.

With regards Matthew 24, Postmillennialists hang their exposition heavily on a certain interpretation of v.34, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." They have to interpret the word "generation" to mean all those alive at that particular time. This way they can fit verses 1 to 36 to refer to the fall of Jerusalem, and the rest of the chapter (and indeed chapter 25) to refer to Christ's second coming, with a nice clean break between the two. This may seem quite plausible at first, especially as the equivalent passages in Luke's gospel are split almost exactly along those lines, with the first part (supposedly about the fall of Jerusalem) coming in chapter 21, and the second part (supposedly about the second coming) in chapter 17. However, two problems present themselves here. Firstly, Luke 17:31 is about being on the housetop. In Matthew 24 this (supposedly, to the Postmillennialist) refers specifically to the fall of Jerusalem, whereas in Luke it is put in with the second coming. So the division is not as clear cut as it may at first seem. Secondly, the word "generation" does not only mean all those alive at one particular time, (or a period of twenty or forty years or so), but it can also mean "family line". Sometimes it can only mean the first definition, e.g. Exodus 1:6, Matthew 1:17. Sometimes it can only mean the second definition, e.g. Matthew 1:1, Psalm 14:5, Psalm 22:30, Psalm 49:19, Luke 16:8, Acts 2:40, 1 Peter 2:9. Other times it could be either definition. Of this latter sort are the passages in question. We cannot argue from these passages alone that the word "generation" here can only be the first definition. We do not have sufficient facts before us to warrant such a conclusion. Hence we cannot be as clear cut as to which verses belong to the fall of Jerusalem and which to the second coming as we would like. There is a sense in which they could refer to both events. Incidentally, this also means that passages such as Deuteronomy 7:9, 1 Chronicles 16:15 and Psalm 105:8 which refer to "a thousand generations" cannot be used, as postmillennialists would like them to be used, to refer to the idea that Christ will not come again for a very long time, at least 20,000 years!!

Scots Presbyterians tend to have a Postmillennial view.




Amillennialism


Here we have a wide-ranging group of people, who believe that the Millennium is not a literal period of time at all, but a symbol of something else. Typically, this signifies the time between Christ's first and second comings, or maybe the time between a person's conversion and his death, or between his death and his rising on the last day to judgment or something similar.

One thing all these Amillennial theories do have in common is that they all believe that the world will be in a pretty godless state just before the end, with people ignorant of a returning Christ. This solves the problem that the Postmillennialist has of trying to explain away Scriptures which indicate this. It also clears the way for a belief that Christ can come at any time, so the believer should always be ready.

However, the three main problems with Amillennialism are that firstly the Amillennialist tends not to believe in getting involved with world government and world affairs, and rather believes in a kind of world-flight, i.e. deliberately not getting involved with the world because it is going to perish anyway. This usually comes with jettisoning the Establishment Principle as well, which, as I explained earlier, is a correct Christian doctrine.

Secondly, the passage in Revelation 20 where the thousand years are mentioned, gets allegorised away and not taken in the straightforward meaning of the words. For example the "first resurrection" (Revelation 20:5) may be equated with conversion, and Satan being "bound for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:2) may be equated with the gospel age, i.e. the New Testament dispensation. This allegorising of the plain text is far-fetched to say the least. When it says that

"I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4)

this text is allegorised so as not to apply to happenings on the earth, because "souls" are mentioned. However, it clearly states that the souls "lived," a clear reference to Genesis 2:7:

"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

For a soul to live in this sense it has to have a body. In the Genesis account this was of the dust of the ground, but in the Revelation account, clearly talking of the resurrection, it refers to the resurrection body. But more of this later.

Thirdly, if we are in the Millennium now, we therefore must believe that Satan is "bound" now:

"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." (Revelation 20:1-3).

Amillennialists come out with statements that Satan is bound in the sense that true religion is no longer limited to the Jews any more, and that Satan still has an influence but is now on a "short lead." This is very difficult to accept. Satan still has tremendous influence on the world and can hardly be said to be "bound" more than before Christ came, and in any case he has always been on a "short lead" as throughout all ages he has never been able to do anything that God did not permit him to do (see Job 1-2), this is not just a peculiarity of New Testament times.

Continental Reformed churches tend to embrace an Amillennial view.




Premillennialism


Most so-called "Reformed" churches shun this like the plague – they tend to be either Post- or A-millennial. Premillennialism tends to be the domain of the Baptists, Brethren and Pentecostal churches. This involves the return of Christ before the Millennium.

Premillennialism has the advantages of Amillennialism in that it allows for Christ to come at any time and for things to be in a bad state just before Christ's return, but the problem with it is that in this system Christ's return does not usually signify the end of time, there is plenty more going on here on this earth afterwards – an idea which is clearly not true from Scripture.

"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." (1 Corinthians 15:23,24).

The most common Premillennial scheme today is Dispensationalism, which was made popular by the Brethren and particularly by the Scofield Reference Bible. In summary, Christ comes, all believers are raptured and disappear from the earth for a time (typically either three and a half or seven years), whilst the "Great Tribulation" takes place on the earth, then Christ sets up his kingdom for a thousand years on the earth with a physical temple rebuilt in Jerusalem, then, after the Millennium, comes the Final Judgment. There are many different variations on a theme, but basically the world is split into "dispensations." First there was the "dispensation" from Creation to the Fall, then Adam to Abraham, then Abraham to Moses, Moses to David, David to Christ, Christ to His coming again (the "gospel" dispensation we are in now) then Christ's earthly rule in Jerusalem with the temple sacrifices being re-instated is another dispensation, and so on. People have many different ideas, but the major drawback of all of these "Dispensational" schemes is that there ends up being more than one means of salvation. In the Old Testament it was via the sacrifices, now in the gospel age it is by the blood of Christ, in the Millennium it will be by re-instating the sacrifices again. This is all wrong. Every one of the elect go to glory because of the shed blood of Christ, which is effectual in all ages, not just the present "gospel" dispensation. The idea of there being a particular time known as the "Great Tribulation" too is completely opposite to reality. Firstly, the book of Revelation states that:

"And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:14).

This clearly refers to believers, but it states that these are the ones who have "come out of great tribulation," i.e. they were once in this tribulation and have not missed it completely by being "raptured" to totally avoid it altogether. Also, Matthew states:

"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." (Matthew 24:37-41)

Note here that in the days of Noah it was the wicked who were "taken" away, and the believers who were left, not, as the Dispensationalists would have us believe, the other way around. Let us not be mistaken, the wicked will be taken away and the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5):

"For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:10-11).

So Dispensationalism is clearly wrong. Most people think that Premillennialism is solely a belief in Dispensationalism, such is Dispensationalism's dominance in modern church circles, but there is a more sober view which jettisons all of the Dispensationalist nonsense such as there being a secret "rapture" or the idea that history is split into dispensations. Rather it is a reasonably simple view that Christ will return, then will reign for a thousand years on the earth (the Millennium), at the end of which is the final Judgment. No secret "rapture," and no special period known as the "Great Tribulation."

However, most proponents of this more sober scheme still go wrong (as do the Dispensationalists indeed) on insisting on the Premillennial kingdom after Christ's return being inhabited by people still in their earthly bodies. The believers who have died or are alive at Christ's coming will have been resurrected at this point and be in their resurrection bodies, but there will be others in the Millennium will still be in their sinful earthly bodies; so we have the surreal spectacle of some people in their resurrection bodies mingling with those still in sinful flesh, with otherwise things going on pretty much as before. All of this is too fantastical to be taken seriously. Passages such as

"There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them" (Isaiah 65:20,21)

are used to back up the idea that people will still be born and age in the new heavens and the new earth. Also, Ezekiel's vision of the rebuilt temple in chapters 40 to 48 is used to believe that an exact literal temple is still to be built, because the description there does not fit with one that has ever existed yet. Indeed the problem with Premillennialists tends to be the opposite of that of Amillennialists, in that whereas Amillennialists tend to over-spiritualise the biblical passages, Premillennialists tend to take everything far too literally. The right way to interpret Scripture is to take everything in the plain meaning of the words, e.g. when Isaiah says that "the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12), Premillennialists would have a tendency to interpret this as trees literally growing hands and clapping, whereas it is obviously poetic.

As mentioned earlier, Baptists, Brethren and Pentecostals all tend to be Premillennial.




The Future of the Jews



Just as an aside, I would like to mention the subject of the future of the Jews. Holders of each of the above millennial schemes have different ideas on this subject. It is not really to do with the Millennium, but it deals with the end times, and so I mention it merely in passing. A lot of Christians believe that near the end of time there will be a mass turning of the Jews to Christ. Whether that will be by the preaching of the gospel or instantaneously like Paul's conversion, is a matter of debate. Obviously the Premillennialists would believe further that they would be gathered together to Jerusalem in order for this to happen, especially as Christ is going to supposedly set His Millennial kingdom up there. So Premillennialists have been very keen to listen to the news ever since 1948 when the state of Israel was formed. They see this as a fulfilment of prophecy, and the stage is now set, in their minds, for Christ's return to Jerusalem and the mass conversion of the Jews. In any case, however one views events in the Middle East, the fact remains that this view of a mass turning to Christ of the Jews is quite prevalent within all of the three millennial schemes.

The only chapter where proponents of this view get this idea from at all is Romans chapter 11. They regard the receiving of them (by God) as "life from the dead" (v.15), as being this mass turning of the Jews to Christ near the end. They think that blindness in part is happened to Israel now (v.25), until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so the phrase "all Israel shall be saved" (v.26) is seen of as an event that will happen after all the Gentiles who are going to be saved have been saved.

I am afraid I cannot go along with this view. I have read Romans 11 time and time again, and I see absolutely nothing in it which convinces me of this at all. Rather it is a "what if..." passage. i.e. Paul is saying in effect: "What if Jews should be saved, wouldn't it be wonderful?" It is never a statement of what is actually going to happen en masse in reality necessarily.

Look at the background. What would people be thinking if Romans 11 was not in the Bible? They would think that the Jews were not to be evangelised any more, they have had their day. Christ said of the withered fig tree

"Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever", (Matthew 21:19).

He also said to the Jews,

"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate", (Matthew 23:38, Luke 13:35).

After Christ's ministry had been and gone it would be logical for any Christian (i.e. who believed Jesus to be the Messiah) to fully believe that the Jews had had their chance, and should no longer be the objects of evangelism. To counteract this erroneous view, Paul wrote Romans 11.

"I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid...." (Romans 11:1).

Paul goes on to say that there will always be a remnant of the Jews saved by grace, who will come to know Jesus as the Messiah. Indeed, when a Jew is saved, it will be as "life from the dead":

"For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (Romans 11:13-15).

Note here he is talking about the fact that he might save "some of them," so he is clearly talking only about a remnant that will be saved, not a mass turning at the end of time, in fact the end of time is not even spoken about here.

But what about:

"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved." (Romans 11:25,26).

Note that it says "And SO all Israel shall be saved," in other words "in this manner," not "and THEN chronologically." The "fulness of the Gentiles" being "come in" is a clear reference to Luke 21:24:

".and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

The "times of the Gentiles" being fulfilled in this verse is immediately followed by the signs from heaven prior to Christ's return being displayed, so there is no Jewish conversion of any kind taking place first. Once the last Gentile has been gathered in, that is it, Christ returns. The quote from Isaiah following this statement in v.26, you may think points to the Jews only:

"And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." (Romans 11:26.27).

But it is not unusual for a prophecy mentioning the salvation of Jacob, or David's house or the like, to refer to all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, not just to the Jews only, c.f. Acts 15:14-17:

"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."

This is a quote from Amos 9 which clearly indicates that the "tabernacle of David" is to include Gentiles. The true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) is, after all, the elect, not just the Jews.

So for these reasons, I see Romans 11 as a passage meant to show that we should evangelise Jews just as we should evangelise other nations, a fact which one could have lost sight of, if all we had were Christ's teachings on the subject.


New Theory Explained from Revelation 19 and 20



The Millennial theory that I wish to put forward here is based on a logical, straightforward exposition of Revelation 19:11 to 20:15. That this is all one chronological order of events is clear from the word "and" which is constantly repeated to link each stage to the next (19:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15). Amillennialists and Postmillennialists have to have a chronological break somewhere (usually at the end of chapter 19) to make their theory fit the narrative, so that they can make Christ's coming at the end of chapter 19 to be the same as Christ's coming in chapter twenty. Otherwise they have two comings of Christ here, which would not fit into their scheme of things. This however is a forced break, and there is no reason to break the chronology at all. If here, then why not at any of the other of the "and"'s in the passage? Any break made is purely arbitrary, to make the passage fit a theory, rather than to let the passage flow and hold together in the plainest sense of the words. My theory links the entire passage together as a chronological whole.

I cannot read Revelation 19:11 to 20:15, in the plain sense of the words, without seeing the following chronological sequence of events:

(1.) Christ comes again to "judge and to make war" (19:11).

(2.) Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword (usually taken as the sword of the Spirit, i.e. His Word) whereby He smites the nations and treads them in the winepress of God's wrath. (19:15).

(3.) The fowls are called to eat the flesh of those about to die (i.e. the wicked) (19:17,18).

(4.) The beast leads the wicked into war against Christ and his armies (whether these are angels or glorified saints we do not need to know, they could be either or both) (19:19).

(5.) The beast and false prophet are defeated by Christ, and are both cast into the lake of fire (19:20).

(6.) The wicked hordes which followed the beast and false prophet are slain by the sword proceeding out of Christ's mouth and the fowls gorge themselves on their flesh (19:21).

Note that treading the winepress of God's wrath, fowls gorging themselves and a sword coming out of Christ's mouth etc. are purely picture language. We would be stupid to take what is clearly picture language literally, as most Premillennialists would tend to do. I leave any detailed explanation of pictures such as these as they are not relevant to the basic theory I am offering here. Until these events happen everything is really guesswork anyway, so I do not wish to go into too much detail on what they all mean.

Note also at this point that Christ has come again BEFORE the Millennium, so I have to admit I must be by definition a Premillennialist. Not of the usual variety though, as I repudiate every other Premillennial scheme I have ever seen in print.


(7.) Satan is cast into the bottomless pit and bound for a thousand years (the "Millennium") (20:1-3).

(8.) The souls of believers "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (20:4). For a soul to "live" it must be given a body (Gen 2:7), hence believers will be on the earth in their resurrection bodies, whilst the wicked will be dead until the end of the Millennium (they are slain in 19:21, this is confirmed in 20:5).

(9.) 20:6 confirms that these are believers only who take part in the "first resurrection" and they will not undergo the "second death" of the Lake of Fire (20:14).

So the Millennium will not be, as most Premillennialists would have us believe, a place where the wicked, believers in their fleshly bodies and believers in their glorified bodies will all be milling around together (with the temple re-established in Jerusalem). The only people alive in the Millennium will be believers in their resurrection bodies. The meek shall indeed inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

The question could be asked, what is the purpose of the Millennium? This question both Postmillennialists and Premillennialists cannot answer. I answer that it is a display to all creatures of the justice of God and vindication of His people before the final Judgment itself actually takes place. Why do we need a display? Well, the question could be asked, why do we need this world, when the elect and reprobate have been chosen from all eternity anyway? God has ordained all things, including this world and including the Millennium, for His own glory. No other way could display His glory to any greater effect than the way that He has ordained will come to pass.


(10.) At the end of the Millennium, Satan is released out of the bottomless pit, the wicked will be raised (in their resurrection bodies) and Satan will gather them to war against the saints; but God will stop this war from taking place by destroying them with fire (20:7-9).

(11.) Satan will be cast into the "Lake of Fire" (where the beast and false prophet are) to be tormented for ever and ever (20:10).

(12.) Earth and heaven will "flee away" and be no more as we know it. Presumably it is burnt with fire as in 20:9 (20:11).


There are plenty of biblical texts which describe the earth being burnt with fire or purged with fire to make way for the new heavens and the new earth described in chapters 21 and 22. How this exactly takes place we are not told, and again we should not be too dogmatic as to the precise details.

"But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7).

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10).


(13.) Judgment takes place, and "death" and "hell" are cast into the "Lake of Fire" ("Gehenna"), i.e. are destroyed for ever (20:12-14).

A note is in order here with regards "death" and "hell":

With regards "death," it no longer has any power after this point as it is cast into the "Lake of Fire." The torment is "for ever and ever" (v.10). So we see that after this point people will never be able to die again, and will be either in bliss in heaven or in torment in "hell" ("Gehenna"), and that all those not in the "Book of Life" are not just annihilated but cast into the "Lake of Fire," i.e. torment for ever without any relief possible by "death." Similarly those who are in the "Book of Life" will be everlastingly with the Lord, without "death" to end such a state.

With regards "hell," there are four words in the Bible which are translated in English into the word "hell." This is important to note because the Annihilationists say that because here it states that "hell" is thrown in to the "Lake of Fire," therefore there is no eternal torment in "hell" for ever after all. This is not true. The two words "Sheol" (Hebrew) or "Hades" (Greek) denote the place where the souls of the wicked apart from their bodies go after death in this life and before they are reunited with their bodies again at the end. (The souls of believers go to "Paradise"). The word "Tartarus" (Greek) only occurs once in the Bible (2 Peter 2:4) and denotes the place where fallen angels are kept until the judgment, after which they are cast into the "Lake of Fire." "Tartarus" is also known as the "Bottomless Pit" which Satan is thrown into for the duration of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3), and "The Deep" which demons pled with Christ not to be cast into (Luke 8:31). The word "Gehenna" (Greek) denotes the "Lake of Fire" itself, where reunited bodies and souls spend their eternal torment. "Hades" is the word used for "hell" in this passage, so it refers to the place where souls apart from their bodies go. It is this place that is destroyed forever (as there is now no need for it because souls and bodies can now no longer be separated by death) and not the final place of torment, "Gehenna," the "Lake of Fire," which does still exist after this, and indeed will do so everlastingly.


(14.) Whosoever was not found in the "Book of Life" was cast into the "Lake of Fire" ("Gehenna") to suffer most grievous torments for ever (20:15).

(15.) Chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation then go on to speak about the "New Heavens and the New Earth" which will be the final home for the believers who have escaped the "Lake of Fire."

That is my theory, and I cannot see this passage (which is incidentally the only passage in the whole of Scripture which mentions this "thousand years" at all) as meaning anything else. I hope I have kept to the plain meaning of the words and not either allegorised or literalised anything in any way in my explanation of the passage.

One final thing to mention. If this theory is true, then the end times will be at least a thousand years in length (to include the Millennium), so how can we explain the many passages of Scripture which mention that all these things will happen on the "Last Day," or the "Day of the Lord"? The answer is simply that we should "be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). In any case just before the coming of Christ we are told that "there should be time no longer" (Revelation 10:6). So we see that this event occurs outside of the constraints of time, although for convenience in Scripture it is called the "Last Day" or "Day of the Lord," as it will clearly be at the end of time as we know it now.

One objection to this could be that we are so dogmatic with regards the six literal days of twenty-four hour periods of the Creation week, how can we now talk about a long "day"? Well, in Genesis 1 we are clearly told that "and the evening and the morning were the first day", etc. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), whereas here we are specifically told that "there will be time no longer" (Revelation 10:6). So the Genesis days are literal days of twenty-four hours and the Revelation "Last Day" is not.




Confession of Faith on the Last Things



To clarify the theory even more, and to back up what has been said by passages from other parts of Scripture, I proffer the following Confession of Faith on the subjects of the Intermediate State and the Last Things.



The Intermediate State


1. A man is made up of both body and soul.1A man's spirit is not a third separate entity, rather, it is so fused to the soul, like joints and marrow, that it can only be separately discerned by the Word of God2. Therefore, it refers to the soul, particularly with respect to the disposition of the heart.3

Upon death, the body and soul separate.4 The body returns to the dust and sees corruption.5 The soul of the wicked descends to Hades (Sheol, The Pit)6 where it remains, forsaken by the Lord7 and unable to praise him8, in great torment reserved under punishment for the day of judgment.9

The soul of the believer will be delivered from the power of Sheol (Hades, The Pit).10 It will be carried by the angels into Paradise (Abraham's bosom) to be with Christ11 until the times of restitution of all things12, waiting for the full redemption of the body.13

These are the only two places which Scripture acknowledges for souls separated from their bodies.14 Souls cannot pass from one place to the other as there is a great gulf fixed between the two.15



11 Thess.5:23; Isaiah 10:18; Job 14:22; Matt. 10:28
2
Heb. 4:12
3
Isa. 42:5; Job 34:14; Zech.12:1; Luke 8:55; James 2:26; Eccl. 12:7; Eccl. 8:8; Isa. 57:15,16; 1 Cor. 5:3; 1 Cor 7:34; Luke 1:47; Luke 23:46; Psa. 31:5; Heb. 12:23; 1 Thess. 5:23; Prov. 20:27
4Luke 12:20; 1 Kings 17:21,22; Gen. 35:18; Job 7:15; 2 Cor. 5:8
5Gen.3:19; Acts 13:36; Psa. 90:3; Job 7:21; Psa. 104:29; Psa. 146:4; Eccl. 3:20
6Psa.9:17; Prov. 15:24; Prov. 23:14; Isa. 5:14
7Acts 2:27 & Matt. 27:46 & Mark 15:34; Psa. 9:10
8Isa. 38:18; Psa. 88:10-12; Psa. 6:5; Psa. 30:9; Psa. 115:17
92 Pet. 2:9; Isa. 50:11; Job 21:30; Luke 16:23,24,28; Rom. 2:9
10Psa.49:9,15; Psa.86:13; Job 33:30; Psa. 16:10; Psa. 30:3; Psa.33:19; Psa. 34:22; Psa. 56:13; Psa. 116:8; Hos 13:14
11Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:6,8; Rev. 2:7
12Acts 3:21
13Rom. 8:11,23; Rev. 6:9-11; Rev. 20:4; 2 Cor. 5:2-4
14Luke 16:22,23
15Luke 16:26

2. Angels who have sinned have no means of salvation1 and are cast down to Tartarus (The Deep, The Bottomless Pit) by God, to be delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved unto the judgment of the Great Day.2

Satan's main task was to destroy the Christ and His people.3 He was given freedom to roam the earth and have access into heaven4, but only under God's providential control.5

Upon Christ's victory on the cross, Satan and his angels were defeated, no longer had a place in heaven6, and were cast out into the earth7, where Satan turned his mind to persecuting the Lord's people.8 But they are kept safe by God.9

Satan has been given the key to the Bottomless Pit (Tartarus, The Deep), so that the demons (fallen angels) there can be let loose on the earth.10 The two greatest of these are the Beast (Beast from the sea), whom, along with Satan himself, all unbelievers marvel at and worship11, and the False Prophet (Beast from the earth), who, with miraculous signs, causes all unbelievers to worship the Beast (Beast from the sea) and gives them his mark.12 Again, all of this is only under God's providential control.13


1Heb. 2:16
22 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Luke 8:31
3Rev. 12:4
4Rev. 12:3,4,7; Job 1:6,7; Job 2:1,2; Zech. 3:1; Luke 22:31
5Job 1:12; Job 2:6
6Rev. 12:8
7Rev.12:9,12,13; Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; John 14:30; Rev. 9:1
8Rev. 12:13,17
9Rev. 12:6,14,16; 1 John 5:18; John 17:12
10Rev. 9:1-3
11Rev. 13:3,4,8
12Rev. 13:13,14,16
13Rev. 13:8; Rev. 14:1




The Last Things


1. On one day in the future, the day and hour of which is only known to the Father1, Jesus Christ will visibly return. It will be sudden and unexpected, like a thief in the night.2 This is so that we may shake off all carnal security and be always watchful.3

He will appear as lightning.4 The sun and moon will no longer give their light, the stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.5 This also symbolises the fact that at this time all those who exalt themselves in this world shall be abased.6 Then every eye shall see Christ coming in the clouds with power and great glory.7

He will descend with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel Michael and with the last trump of God.8 He will come with his holy angels9, and the souls of all believers who have died.10 Their souls will then be reunited with their bodies which are raised first. This is the resurrection of the just (the first resurrection, the resurrection of life).11 They are raised incorruptible.

Those believers who are still alive at the time will also be changed into an incorruptible state in the twinkling of an eye.12 They will then be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus so shall they ever be with the Lord.13

All believers will then be conformed to Christ's own glorious body.14


1Matt. 24:36; Mark 13:32
2Luke 12:40; 1 Thess. 5:2-3; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; Rev. 16:15; Acts 1:11; Heb. 9:28
3Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thess 5:4; 2 Pet. 3:11-12; Mark 13:35-37; Matt. 24:42,44; Matt. 25:13; Luke 12:36-48
4Matt. 24:27; Luke 17:24
5Isa. 34:4; Isa. 24:23; Isa. 13:10; Zech. 14:6; Amos 8:9; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24,25; Luke 21:25; Ezek. 32:7; Rev. 6:12-14; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15,16
6Ezek 31:14; Matt. 23:12; Job 22:29; Psa. 138:6; Isa. 57:15; Dan. 4:37; Luke 1:51,52; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5
7Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:11; Matt. 16:27; Luke 9:26; Rev. 1:7
81 Thess. 4:16; Jude 9; Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; Rev. 11:15; Isa. 27:13
9Matt. 24:31; Matt. 25:31; Matt. 16:27; Mark 13:27; 2 Thess. 1:7; Matt. 13:39,49; Mark 8:38
10Rev. 19:14; Matt. 24:31; Mark 13:27; 1 Thess. 3:13; 1 Thess. 4:14; Jude 14; Zech. 14:5
111 Thess. 4:16; Job 19:26,27; Rom. 8:11; Isaiah 26:19; Luke 14:14; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:5,6
121 Cor. 15:42-44; 1 Cor. 15:51-54
131 Thess. 4:17; Matt. 24:40-41
14Rom. 8:29; Phil.3:21



2. When Christ appears, the wicked who are still alive on the earth will mourn.1 Great terror will fall on them and their hearts will fail them for fear.2

Even so, the Beast will gather them together to make war against Christ and the saints3, but the Beast and the False Prophet will be taken and cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna).4 The rest of the unbelievers will then be killed by the sword proceeding out of Christ's mouth.5

Then Satan himself will be cast into the Bottomless Pit (Tartarus, The Deep) and bound for a thousand years with a seal set upon him that he should deceive the nations no more.6

All events regarding the last things, including the "thousand years," are known in Scripture as taking place on "The Great Day," "The Day of the Lord" or "The Last Day"7, which is after there is time no longer (the sun and moon having disappeared).8

The court shall be seated and all believers shall reign with Christ for the thousand years.9 Indeed, the meek shall inherit the earth.10 Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.11




1Matt.24:30; Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10; Amos 8:10; Zech. 14:13
2Luke 21:25,26; Rev. 11:13; Isa. 24:16-18; Hos. 10:8; Luke 23:30; Rev. 6:15-17; Isa. 13:7,8; Isa. 2:20,21; Jer 4:28,29; Ezek. 38:19-20
3Rev. 19:19; Ezek.39:2; Rev. 16:14-16; Zech. 14:2
4Rev. 19:20; Dan. 7:11
5Rev.19:21; Isa. 24:1-3; Jer. 25:27-33; Ezek. 39:3-5; Isa. 11:4; Isa. 34:2,3; Isa. 66:16,24; Jer. 7:32-34; Jer. 19:6,7; Jer. 31:40
6Rev. 20:1-3; Isa. 24:21,22
7John 6:39,40,44,54; John 11:24; John 12:48; Heb. 10:25; Ezek. 39:8; 2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 6:17; Zech. 14:7-9
81 Pet. 4:7; Dan. 12:13; Rev. 10:6
9Dan. 7:26,27; Rev. 20:4,6; Zech. 14:9,11; Rev. 5:10; Isa. 24:23; Isa. 27:13; Isa. 66:23
10Matt. 5:5; Psa. 25:13; Psa. 37:9-11,22,28-29,34; Isa. 60:21
111 Cor. 15:24



3. When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.1 All the dead (i.e. the unbelievers) will then be resurrected, their souls being reunited with their bodies. This is the resurrection of the unjust (the second resurrection, the resurrection of damnation).2 Satan will go out to deceive them all and to gather them together to battle against all the believers, who during the thousand years have been living peacefully on the earth.3 But fire will come down from God out of heaven and devour them.4 Satan will then be cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna) to be tormented day and night for ever and ever.5

The earth and the heaven will flee away; and there will be found no place for them any more.6

All people will then stand before the Great White Throne of Judgment.7 God is the Judge to whom we must all give an account8, and the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son.9 Indeed, all believers will play their part in judging the world and angels.10

Every man will be judged according to his works.11 All men will therefore be found guilty.12 However, deliverance from being cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna) is not based on this, but on whether their names are in the Lamb's Book of Life.13



1Rev. 20:3,7; Rev. 17:8
2Rev. 20:6; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; Isa. 24:22
3Rev. 20:8,9 ; Ezek. 38:8-23
4Rev. 20:9; Rev. 16:21; 2 Pet. 3:7; Isa. 66:15,16; Ezek. 38:22; Mal. 4:1; Zeph. 1:18; Zeph. 3:8
5Rev.20:10; Matt. 25:41
6Psa. 102:26; Rev. 20:11; Isa. 13:13; Heb. 12:27; Matt. 24:35
7Rev. 20:12-13; Dan. 7:9; 2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:32; Acts 17:31; Rom. 14:12; Jude 14,15; 1 Cor. 4:5
8Dan. 7:9; Psa. 58:11; Psa. 75:7; Rom. 14:12; Heb. 4:13; Matt. 12:36
9John 5:22; John 9:39; Acts 10:42; Rom. 14:10; Dan. 7:13,14; 2 Cor. 5:10; Psa. 149:9
10Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Cor. 6:2,3; Luke 11:31-32; Isa. 41:15,16
11Matt. 16:27; Rev. 20:12,13; 2 Pet. 2:12,13; Jer. 17:10; Job 34:11; Psa. 62:12; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 2:23
12Psa. 130:3; Eph. 2:12; Psa. 51:5; Psa. 58:3; Rom. 3:9-20,23
13Rev. 20:15; Luke 10:20; Psa. 69:28; Rev. 21:27; Rom. 3:24; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:6; Exod. 32:33; Matt. 25:34; Rev. 13:8; Rev. 17:8



4. Death and Hades (Sheol, The Pit) will then be cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna).1 Christ will then make himself subject to the Father that God may be all in all.2

Whosoever is not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Gehenna).3 This is the second death.4 It is an everlasting process of destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power5, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.6 A place of outer darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.7

Then a new heavens and a new earth will appear wherein dwelleth righteousness.8 It shall remain forever.9 This will be the Holy City, New Jerusalem.10 God will dwell therein with the elect forever and will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things shall not be remembered, nor come to mind.11 There will be no more temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.12 There will be no more sun or moon for the glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.13

Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus.14

1Rev.20:14; 1 Cor. 15:26
21 Cor. 15:28
3Rev. 20:15; Rev. 21:8; Luke 12:5; Matt. 25:41
4Rev. 2:11; Rev. 20:6,14; Rev. 21:8
52 Thess. 1:9; Dan 12:2; Isa. 33:14; Psa. 92:7; Matt. 10:28; Dan. 7:26; Rev. 20:10; Matt. 25:46
6Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:43-48; Ezek. 20:47,48; Isa. 34:10; Jer. 7:20; Matt. 3:12
7Matt. 8:12; Matt. 22:13; Matt. 13:42,50; 2 Pet. 2:17; Jude 13; Isa. 8:22; Matt. 25:30
8Rev. 21:1; 2 Pet. 3:13; Heb. 2:5
9Isa. 66:22; Joel 3:20
10Rev. 21:2,10; Psa.48; Heb. 12:22
11Rev. 21:3,4; Isa. 35:10; Isa. 51:11; Isa. 65:17,19; Rev. 7:16,17
12Rev. 21:22
13Isa. 60:19,20; Rev. 21:23; Rev. 22:5; Zech. 2:5
14Rev. 22:20; 1 Cor. 16:22