“Searching the Seven Churches”
What is Pre-millennialism? – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1)
We come to the Pre-millennial position. The alarms bells ring immediately when we discover the astonishing amount of disagreement there is amongst its adherents. One would think that if it were Scriptural there would a much greater degree of unanimity, barring perhaps one or two points. The most radical form is that of dispensationalism. They hold that God deals with the human race in terms of dispensations. The dispensation of innocence, promise, law, grace and so on. It also held that God removes the church prior to the tribulation (Matthew 24:29). This system of eschatology was popularised by J.N. Darby, and the Schofield Bible. But the position has never been held by prominent theologians, this ought to tell us something surely. For the purpose of these notes this is a condensed overview of the system. The Jews being God’s originally chosen people, but when Christ came they rejected him. This wasn’t in the original plan of God, so a contingency plan had to be devised. Plan ‘B’ if you like. So God resorts to the Gentiles, who constitute a church not the kingdom of God. The Scripture they hold was written of two sets of people, the Old Testament, the gospels, and revelation was written for the Jews. The rest for the church. At any moment the rapture could take place 2Thessalonians 4:13ff; Matthew 24:40ff. This rapture is the secret, sudden coming of Christ, to take the resurrected and living saints. The wicked are left, this is the first resurrection. Next is the seven year tribulation (Daniel 9:24f), when the events of Matthew twenty four happen. But the church is gone, it has been raptured. Then comes the second coming of Christ to usher in the millennium, in which he returns to the Jews and reigns with them for the 1000 years, himself centred in Jerusalem. In this period all the Jews turn to him.
At the start of this period Satan is bound, Christ destroys the Antichrist at Armageddon, then at the end Satan is loosed. Then follows the third resurrection and the wicked and Satan are judged. Then lastly there is the renewal. Some say the redeemed mingle, Jew and Gentile, others say that the kingdom, i.e., the Jews and the Church i.e., the Gentiles will be kept apart. One will be in earthly Palestine, the other in heaven. Some list as many as twenty two events. Well as we begin to examine this position, which by the way, many have charted. You will find some of these charts in church buildings depicting all these events. The important points are as follows, the seven dispensations, eight covenants, two comings of Christ, three or four resurrections, and four judgments. It is complicated, very. But this in itself runs against the simplicity of Scripture, which is refreshingly uncomplicated and light. Next we will look at some of the problems this faces us with in biblical terms.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)