Christs Second Coming (2)
"Thy Kingdom Come?"
Doug Focht, Jr.
In our last article, we looked at the premillennial view regarding Christs second coming. This is the view which holds that Christ will come first (pre), then set up His promised kingdom on earth, and reign for 1,000 years (a "millennium"). The Scriptures which are used to prove this theory are often highly symbolic and visionary. Premillennialists rely heavily upon the prophecies of Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Revelation.
Common sense would say that in cases where a "plain-spoken," non-visionary passage speaks on the same subject as the visionary, symbolic passage, the "plain-spoken" passage should be used to interpret the "visionary" passage, and not the other way around. For example, if an epistle written in "plain language" deals with the events of Christs coming, then the symbols of Daniel or Revelation should be made to conform to the events in the epistle. The premillennialists, however, use the opposite technique.
A clear example of the result of this kind of method is discovered in a video tape which I purchased from the John Ankerberg program. In it, Dr. Norman Geisler, of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, NC, criticizes amillennialists (those who do not believe in a literal, 1,000-year earthly reign of Christ) for not taking Rev. 20:4 literally. Later, he proceeded to quote and interpret what Jesus said in John 5:2829:
The premillennial order of events is (1) Christ comes back (2) the faithful dead are resurrected, but not the wicked; (3) after the 1,000-year reign, then the wicked dead are raised. Since this order does not fit what Jesus "literally" said in John 5:289 (an hour is coming when both the righteous and wicked will be raised), he interprets Jesus "hour" to mean 1,000 years. It is possible that Jesus could have been speaking of two separate resurrections, but there would be no need to think so, except for the passage from the symbolic book of Revelation. Hence, the "plain-spoken" passage is interpreted to fit the "visionary." If Jesus "hour" can be "1,000 years," why must Revelations "1,000 years" be something literal?
When one uses the ordinary "plain-spoken" passages as the basis for his interpretation, the premillennial view has serious problems:
2 Peter 3:310
This passage establishes that these eventsthe mocking and scoffingprecede Christs coming. After all, if He were already reigning on earth in His kingdom, no one would ask about His coming!
Harkening back to Noah and the flood, the apostle says the final judgment will be by fire, in which the ungodly will be judged.
God does not view time the way we do. He wants to wait until there are few or none who are willing to repent. Hence, the reason for His "delay."
In this passage, in plain language:
1. Christs coming will be unexpected (like a thief in the night);
2. In that day ("in which") the heavens will pass away, the elements will melt, and the earth will be burned up!
There simply is no room in this passage for a 1,000-year reign on earth, even if one interprets the "day" of the Lord as the "1,000 years" of the Lord, for in that "day of the Lord" the mockers will be silenced. Are we to believe that these mockers mock for 1,000 years also? Remember, according to the premillennial theory, Satan is to be bound during this time (no sin on earth) and the wicked dead have not yet been raised.
What "plain-spoken" passages say about the kingdom:
If we are to believe that Jesus will be reigning on earth from Jerusalem, then the kingdom of God will be "there in Jerusalem." Yet Jesus said you cant say "here or there" regarding the location of the kingdom.
Although the passages in Revelation is from the "visionary" book, it is clear from these two passages (Acts 2/Rev. 3) that when Jesus ascended to heaven, He began to reign at the right hand of God. My question is simple: Is Jesus king now? The Scriptures say yes! Over what, then does He now rule? The Scriptures teach He rules over the hearts of those who have accept His rule. Consider:
1. God does not dwell in physical temples, Acts 7:48, 17:24.
2. God does dwell in people, through His Spirit, Romans 8:911, 1 Cor. 6:19 ("do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit")
3. Where Christ dwells, there He rules. Hence "the kingdom of God is within you" (also rendered "in your midst" or "among.")
When will Christ come again?
Easy answer: No one knows! If He comes "as a thief," He comes without warning (see also 1 Thess. 5:3). Anyone who predicts a date is doomed to fail. Only God knows, and no matter what people may claim, He hasnt told anyone! Speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus said, "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." If the date of the destruction of Jerusalem was not given, why should we think a date could be set for the destruction of the earth? There are some things which we know must happen first, because these things always happen before Gods judgment. For example, there must be sufficient amount of evil, and insufficient amount of people willing to repent, as we saw in the passage in 2 Peter 3. From time to time we will mention some of these things; but for the immediate future, we must turn our attention to examining the King and His kingdom, which we will continue to do if He permits.
From "Growing in Grace" Vol. 1 #16, November 24, 1996
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