Christ’s Second Coming (2)

"Thy Kingdom Come?"

Doug Focht, Jr.

 In our last article, we looked at the premillennial view regarding Christ’s 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 Christ’s 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 5:28–29:

"An hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."

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 5:28–9 (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 Revelation’s "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 3:3–10

Verses 3-4

Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." (NKJ)

This passage establishes that these events—the mocking and scoffing—precede Christ’s coming. After all, if He were already reigning on earth in His kingdom, no one would ask about His coming!

Verses 5-7

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Harkening back to Noah and the flood, the apostle says the final judgment will be by fire, in which the ungodly will be judged.

Verses 8-9

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

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."

Verse 10

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.

In this passage, in plain language:

1. Christ’s 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:

Luke 17:20-21

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."

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 can’t say "here or there" regarding the location of the kingdom.

Acts 2:34-36

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: "The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’" Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Revelation 3:21

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

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 8:9–11, 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 hasn’t 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 God’s 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

To contact the author, please send e-mail to: dnfj@yahoo.com