On the Plains of Moab Blog
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June 22, 2012, 3:56 PM

The Millennial Kingdom of Christ

We come, this Sunday, to one of my favorite chapters in all the Bible.  This is the stuff that got me hooked when I was back in my twenties.  I can't tell you how many endless hours I spent in the parking lot of Grace Church back in the 1980s arguing and debating over the right way to do eschatology.

As I look back on those days, and the time I spent at Liberty, the view that was emblazoned upon my heart was what is known as Pre-Tribulation, Pre-Millennialism.  To give you some idea of what that is, let me walk you through the book of Revelation with that lens in hand.

Chapter 1 is of course the introduction.  The vision of God that begins it all.  Chapters 2-3 are letters written to to the churches describing their condition and what they must do to get things where they need to be in light of what is about to be reported. The letter to Philadelphia contains a vital piece of prophecy that will provide immense comfort to the faithful in the subsequent ages to come -- 3:10 says, "Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth."  This hour being understood as the Great Tribulation - that seven year period of extreme persecution upon the earth.  As we move to chapter 4, John hears the angelic voice saying, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."  This is the Rapture spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff.  God's Church is raptured off the scene early in Revelation, and so, doesn't experience all of the horrors that are about to come upon the earth in the cycles of judgment in chapters 6-18 (i.e. The Great Tribulation).  This is where the Pre-Tribulation part fits in to the label.  No tribbing for God's people!

Of course, the poor saps "Left Behind" are the unbelieving Gentiles and Jews.  They will be tried to the utmost.  (Though I have not read one page of the Left Behind series, my understanding is that it describes the travails of that seven year period of time through the eyes of the protagonists in the story.)

BUT, according to chapter 19, Jesus comes back with his Church and the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Evil is defeated there -- but not definitively!  Opening up in chapter 20, we see that Satan is bound and the Church goes into a golden age -- a literal thousand year reign of Christ from Jerusalem.  The Temple is rebuilt and I suppose the sacrificial system is re-instituted -- and I am not sure if those sacrifices are real or symbolic -- the stuff that Jesus did on the cross kind of blows some fog on the Temple rebuilding project.  God's people will reign because, afterall, there will still be unbelieving folks yet around. As one minister back in the day told me, "Well, somebody's got to rule over the sinners!" (And he was dead serious!)  That means glorified, perfect humanity interacting with fallen, sinful, unglorified humanity.  Boy, you think we have racial and socio-economic tensions today -- wait until the Millennial Kingdom to see a whopper of human angst and prejudice!  The saints of God will be fine -- they will be in their glorified state, perfect.  But, those envious, unregenerate unbelievers?  I can just hear it now:  Non-believer says, "Oh, so you think you're perfect?"  Glorified saint responds, "Well, yes, quite actually, I am."

However, at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be unleashed once again, and sinful flesh will rebel against King Jesus.  Jesus, of course, will win again -- 3 for 3, if you're keeping count:  Calvary, Armageddon and this Great White Throne Judgment!  All the devil's stuff is dealt with finally and definitively this time around.  The Book of Life is opened, and THE Judgment begins.  To those who embraced Christ - heaven; to those who did not -- hell.

The New Jerusalem comes down out of the sky.  The Earth is destroyed, and Rev. 21-22 describes eternity in heaven.

This is what I learned as a young man.  I confess, that I did not look favorably upon anyone who deviated in the slightest detail from this model.  I also confess that I did not understand my own view very well because I couldn't quite figure out how ethnic Israel fit into the picture.  I knew they did -- just was a bit fuzzy on the 144,000 thing.

However, as the years passed, I found that this view wasn't doing justice to the great stuff I was finding in the Scriptures.  There was already a mind-blowing picture of God's great Redemption being displayed, and it did not need the imaginative stuff that was being projected onto the text.  The Left Behind view certainly sold alot of books for Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins -- but, when examined closely, it just couldn't pass historical, theological or biblical muster.

However, having said all of that, here is what I still retain from my Pre-Trib, Pre-Mill days:  Jesus IS coming back again, physically.  God will be all in all.  The earth will be restored as it was in the beginning.  The dead will rise from the grave, bodily.  Some to everlasting bliss; some to everlasting shame.  I have just found the details in my old view to be a potpourri of taped together scriptures powered by a fertile imagination!  We can do much better!

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