Category Archives: Premillennialism

Bill Lockwood: Problems in Zion — Premillennialism

by Bill Lockwood

Timothy P. Weber, in his even-handed review of the history of Zionism, or Dispensational Premillenialism (On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend, 2004) exposes the many contradictions of the system. Beginning with the inception of modern dispensational premillennialism by the “disgruntled” Irish Anglican priest John Nelson Darby in the 19th century (1830’s) through the current Messianic Jewish movement, Weber historically exposes the many flaws, contradictions and changing currents within the premillennial fold. Such is to be expected in an unscriptural doctrinal setting. The following are some of the points made by Weber.

Varieties of Premillennialism

First, there are countless varieties of the Premillennial doctrine, most of which contradict one another. Through this contradiction, however, all varieties share one basic flaw—crass materialistic concepts of the kingdom of God.

This materialistic view, with predictions of a new Judaized state in the future complete with animal sacrifices and legalistic practices, is featured in the NT as the primary reason for the Jewish rejection of the Messiah. Caiaphas counseled the murder of Christ to his fellow Sanhedrists on the grounds that if Christ were not taken out of the way, “the the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:47-51).

Nevertheless, this materialism is the primary ingredient of all the flavors of Premillennial thought; from the Shakers (19th century) to the Mormons (whose ‘inspired’ writings included the fulfillment of the scheme in the state of Missouri) to the 7th Day Adventist Movement began by William Miller and continued by Ellen G. White to the popular Left Behind brand now current in denominationalism; and all of the rest.

Weber highlights this materialistic concept for us. “Because of their basic hermeneutical decision that all earthly prophecies belonged to Israel and not the church, dispensationalists believed that the ‘saints’ referred to a newly restored nation of Israel that would be regathered in Palestine” (70).

Note carefully: Weber is explaining that it is the false presumption that the entire OT prophetic program referred to physical Israel which is the base of Premillennialism.  That the kingdom of God is a political entity with physical boundaries—as Judaism at the time of Christ believed—has even caused many prominent dispensationalists, such as James Gray, C.I. Scofield and others to reject our “democratic government” while declaring favor for a “monarchy” (p. 84) Many wearing the name of Christ have not moved much further in spiritual thinking than Caiaphas.

Hijacking Conservatism

If materialism lies at the heart of Premillennialism, very close to it is the supplanting of missionary work with a political program that regards international meddling as part of the gospel. This is what Weber calls the “Hijacking of Conservatism” by Zionism. Simple Constitutional conservative values are ignored.

While many American evangelicals remain politically conservative on a social scale, their belief-system drives them to support America’s much “unconstitutional meddling” in the political affairs of foreign nations. Thus, the Constitution of the United States is thrown behind the Zionist backs.

Tied to this is the falsely-labeled missionary effort of the evangelical world. Converting individuals to Jesus Christ is the biblical idea of missions. It is very different however, among Zionists.

For example, foreign “intermeddling,” flying beneath the banner of evangelism, was the planting of an “American colony” in Jerusalem, Israel in 1881. No ordinary missionary movement this, it was an actual “American colony” led by the Spafford family (p. 106-08) and supported by such evangelical preachers as William Blackstone.

“By the 1930’s the colony ceased being primarily a religious community and started operating more like a family business” (109). The primary aim, of course, was the effort, not to convert Jews to Christ, but to “relocate in order to be present when God’s promises to Israel were fulfilled.”

To say the least, it is a skewed vision of the word of God that transforms evangelism into nothing more than a sitting in the hills waiting for the Lord to bless Israel.

This fostering of the political state of Israel is the hallmark of Zionist “evangelism.” In 1917 British forces were poised to capture Jerusalem in armed conflict.  Lord Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, wrote to Lord James Rothschild, a leader in the International Zionist Movement.

“His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best efforts to facilitate the achievement of this object …”

Foreign interference was in full swing. Five weeks after the Balfour Declaration, Jerusalem was surrendered by the Turks to British forces.  Thus began a career of national intermeddling in the Middle East which is being happily continued by the American government with full backing of evangelicals. Constitutional it is not. Evangelistic it is not. But it does demonstrate how conservatism, which at one time was marked by non-interventionism, has been hijacked and now fits an internationalist mold.

As presented by Weber, the history of “evangelical missionary intermeddling” is rife with similar examples. The Likud Party in Israel recognized evangelical preachers such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson with awards all the while laboring to outlaw missionary work (245).

The tragic irony in all of this is that evangelicals demonstrate a complete lack of interest in Palestinian Christians but seem more interested simply in removing them from their ancestral territory (246).  Evangelicals show more interest in political and physical wars with Palestinians over who owns the Temple Mount than in spiritual teaching (250); or more interest in how the state of Israel is partitioned (168) than in law and justice as we know in America.

These are just a few items among dozens more that could be mentioned. If one wishes to know where conservatives lost their way, look no further than the seeming complete takeover of the Evangelical churches by Zionists.

Gathered in Belief or Unbelief?

Another of the many self-inflicted confusions of Zionism is the question as to whether fleshly Israel should be gathered back to Palestine only after belief in Christ or would their reconstitution to a state be accomplished before the nation believes? Gathered in belief or unbelief? Converted to Christ, then gathered? Or, gathered, then converted?

Historically, reaching back to its inception with John Nelson Darby, dispensationalism believed the Bible to be clear to teach that Jews would be converted first, then gathered to Israel. But this changed in the 20th century.

Weber explains:

In the nineteenth century, dispensationalists overwhelmingly believed that the final restoration would not occur until after the second coming, when Jews who survived the great tribulation would accept Jesus Christ …and would return to the Promised Land… for a thousand years. After the founding of Zionism, however, dispensationalists were faced with the possibility that significant numbers of Jews might return to Palestine prior to Christ’s return and without faith in Christ. (p. 168)

Zionism was organized in the 1890’s and came to full flower immediately after World War I. This question is not merely academic. First, it involves the trustworthiness of common-stock Premillennial interpretation of OT prophecies. Specifically, should we place any confidence in the interpretive keys that Zionists utilize in examining the Old Testament? Witnessing the many and vast confusions on this topic, particularly their contradictions as to whether Jews would be gathered in belief or unbelief, the answer is a resounding “NO.”

For example, the Weekly Evangel, a dispensationalist paper, editorialized in 1940 that of a truth “God swore that Israel would be re-gathered in her own land, unconverted, in the latter days. Ezekiel 36:24-38.”  Note carefully that the writer felt certain that Ezekiel 36 teaches a re-gathering while in unbelief.

Yet, as Weber points out, only one year later the editors took the opposite position and cited Luke 21:24 to establish the point!

We have all been thrilled to watch the rebuilding of Palestine and the return of many Jews to that land through the efforts of Zionism. … God’s Word teaches that ‘Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’ Luke 21:24. Not until Christ returns will the Jewish nation go to Palestine as a whole, nor will the Jews get full sovereignty over the land.

Something is vastly wrong with the entire interpretation system when it pits one passage against another. It needs to be realized that the political movement of Zionism, not Scripture, caused millennialists to change their mind!

Second, and more importantly, evangelical support today for the state of Israel is somehow thought to be the mandate from prophecy. Yet, Israel has not accepted Christ. Premillennial preachers, however, unanimously tell us that when Christ comes again all the Jews will accept Christ and be re-gathered to their ancient homeland. If that is so, then supporting the state of Israel while in their current state of repudiation of Christ has nothing at all to do with prophecy! In other words, if prophecy says that Christ is going to convert all Jews when He returns and then gather them in Palestine, then supporting Israel today has nothing to do with fulfilling prophecy.

Arno C. Gaebelein, one of the leading exponents of Premillennialism in the 1940’s, saw this problem. He insisted that the political movement of Zionism was not the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Unwilling however, to relinquish his doctrine, Gaebelein would say only that the current Zionist movement was somehow a “first step” in that direction. (Weber, p. 169).

Based upon Gaebelein’s “first step” concept, let’s pose this question for Premillennialists. If Christ is to return literally to the earth, convert the Jews, and re-gather them to Palestine—according to prophecy—how will any man or even nation of people possibly “assist” the Lord’s future judgment by political brokering today?  To suggest such is haughtiness in the extreme. Just as well assist the Lord on the throne of judgment.

Premillennialism is false doctrine. Let members of the Lord’s church beware!

 

Eclipsing the Blood Moons

Eclipsing the Blood Moons: Part I

by Bill Lockwood

Extremely popular is the so-called “Blood Moon” theory taught by numerous so-called prophecy teachers, not the least of which is John Hagee of San Antonio. Astronomical charts show that four lunar eclipses will occur between 2014 to 2015. Sometimes the full lunar eclipse takes on a red or orange appearance. This is what Hagee calls “the blood moon.”

Hagee explains in a chart that the four “blood moons” include 1) Passover, April 15, 2014; 2) Feast of Tabernacles, Oct.8, 2014; 3) Passover, April 4, 2015; 4) Feast of Tabernacles, Sep. 28, 2015. (Four Blood Moons, 224-25). Hagee insists that “something is about to occur” in favor of the Jewish people at the fourth blood moon—the end of September, 2015. “These occurrences are not coincidental! This is the hand of God orchestrating the signs in the heavens. The final Four Blood Moons are signaling that something big is coming … something that will change the world forever” (p. 237).

What Shall We Say to These Things?

Those casting these ominous horoscopes for the world are afflicted by a particular theory which is responsible for their preachments. That theory is known as Premillennialism. Though there are minor variations given by different promoters, the scheme runs something like this. (1) The OT predicted that Jesus would establish an earthly kingdom in which the Messiah would reign from Jerusalem. (2) When the Jews rejected Jesus he postponed those prophetic forecasts until He comes a second time. (3) Current conditions in the world show that that time is near upon us. (4) That saints are to be “raptured” to heaven at the beginning of a “Tribulation” period in which unprecedented wars upon the earth will occur. (5) At the height of this period Jesus will return and fight the “Battle of Armageddon.” (6) At the conclusion of these events Jesus will reign in Jerusalem during the Millennium.

In reality the entire fabric of Millennialism is entirely unscriptural. The theory is the same Jewish system of infidelity which interprets the entire corpus of Scripture after the manner of those who crucified Christ (1 Thess.2:14-16). Premillennialism is Jewish Doctrine. The ancient Jews rejected the Messiah of OT prophecy because they had interpreted its predictions in a naturalistic, literal manner. When Christ did not promise to be a military leader, making headquarters in Jerusalem, bringing Gentiles into their service, re-vitalizing their temple worship, and re-instituting David’s throne, they nationally repudiated him. He did not meet their expectations.

Judaism’s unbelief, throughout the centuries, has influenced Christianity to an astounding degree. This is particularly the case here. First, millennial doctrines themselves are Jewish misinterpretations. Eminent German church historian, August Neander, writes, “The idea of a millennial reign proceeded from Judaism. For among the Jews the representation was current, that the Messiah would reign a thousand years on earth, and then bring to a close the present terrestrial system. This calculation was arrived at, by a literal interpretation of Psalm 110:4 ‘a thousand years are in thy sight as one day.’ It was further argued that the World was created in six days, so it would last six thousand years, the seventh would e a period of repose, a Sabbath on earth to be followed by the destruction of the world” (History of Christian Dogmas, vol. 1, p. 248).

The classic work on Systematic Theology by the Presbyterian scholar Charles Hodge, substantiates this further. He offered the following as the number one objection to Premillennialism: “It is a JEWISH DOCTRINE. The principles adopted by its advocates in the interpretation of prophecy are the SAME as those adopted by the Jews at the time of Christ; and they have led substantially to the same conclusions.” Christ “disappointed these expectations: and the principles of prophetic interpretation on which those expectations were founded were proved to be incorrect” (Vol. 3, p. 862).

Ernest F. Kevan in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (p. 532), argues the same point. “It is held that the OT prophets predicted the re-establishment of David’s kingdom and that Christ himself intended to bring this about. It is alleged, however, that because the Jews refused his person and work he postponed the establishment of his kingdom until the time of his return. Meanwhile, it is argued, the Lord gathered together ‘the church’ as a kind of interim measure.”

This basic fallacy of a materialistic view of the Christ’s kingdom is shared by Hagee and others of his premillennial tribe. The entire premise of the Blood Moon Theology is that past and future eclipses of the moon somehow coincide with the OT Jewish calendar and will be aligned with Jewish feast days and that “something big” will transpire in human history when this occurs.

But there is not one passage in all of the Bible that validates the idea that the OT Jewish feasts should be used as a timetable to determine anything future. Blood Moon Theology is without one shred of scriptural support. Furthermore, the NT shows us clearly that the OT law system was nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ (Col. 2:14-16). And just so that no one is confused on the subject of the moon, inspired Paul even mentions “feast days, new moons and Sabbath days” as things of the past.

The “Blood Moon” theory taught by John Hagee and other self-proclaimed “prophecy experts” informs us that “something big” is about to occur in behalf of the Jewish people in September, 2015.  This calculation is arrived at by studying the timing of the lunar eclipses during the past two years and noting their alignment with the Jewish Feasts of Tabernacles and Passover. The Blood Moon Theory, however, is totally without merit.

Postponement Theology

As an adjunct of Premillennial doctrine, the Blood Moon Fantasy is a “re-packaging” of the same old theories that have over and again been weighed in the balances and found wanting precisely because they lack biblical foundation. Premillennialism a Jewish doctrine and thereby shares the basic unbelief of the Jews. This fact alone should eliminate it from sober-minded Christians. For example, popular prophecy writer Hal Lindsey shows us that the entire millennial scheme boils down to whether the OT prophecies have been fulfilled.
“Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the kingly prophecies in their day … But when the Jewish nation rejected Christ, the fulfillment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history” (There’s a New World Coming, 30).

John Walvoord agrees. “As late as Acts 1:6, the disciples were still looking for a literal kingdom. While refused revelation concerning the ‘time’ of the kingdom, their hope is not denied, spiritualized, or transferred to the church. The kingdom hope is postponed and the new age of which they never dreamed was interposed, but the promises continued undimmed” (The Millennial Kingdom, 206-07).

Few writers have been so forthcoming. This basic tenet, however, is shared by premillennialists one and all. The prophesied kingdom of the OT was to be Jewish and promises relating to it have yet to be fulfilled.
Taking the cue from Walvoord [the kingdom hope was not ‘transferred’ to the church], the current assault against a NT fulfillment of OT prophecies is harangued as Replacement Theology. Dave Reagan of Lamb & Lion Ministries can hardly contain himself on this point. He equates this “theology” with “God invalidating His promises to the Jews” (The Jewish People: Rejected or Beloved?, 18).

So, per these writers, Jesus came “to fulfill the law and the prophets” (Matt. 5:17) but unexpectedly, the Jews rejected Him. The Lord’s intentions were thwarted and He “postponed” or pigeon-holed these plans until the future. Inspired testimony, however, shows us that the Jews never did properly understand their prophecies. Paul put it this way while in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. “For they that dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them in condemning Him” (Acts 13:27).

Here the Jewish unbelief in Christ is shown to be grounded in the manner in which they misunderstood the voices of all of their prophets! They insisted that the terms of the OT predictions called for a physical revitalization of the Jewish state. It therefore comes with poor grace that the common thread of current prophecy writers like Lindsey, Walvoord, and Reagan is the adoption of Jewish, not apostolic, methods of interpretation.

The New Covenant

For instance, Reagan refuses the inspired explanation of Jeremiah’s New Covenant (31:31-34) which is given in Hebrews 8:6-13. “And the New Covenant, promised to the Jews in the Old Testament … and which went into effect at the death of Jesus, has been expanded to include believing Gentiles. But it remains as a promise to Israel and will not be fulfilled until the Jews turn their hearts to God and receive His Son as their Messiah” (Ibid., 17). Again, on p. 157-59 Reagan suggests that this New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is “an unconditional eternal covenant between God and Israel…Although it was made specifically with Israel, it was extended at the Cross to be made available to any person who places is or her faith in Jesus …”

Reagan here wants it both ways. The New Covenant was made “specifically” with fleshly Israel. It will not be fulfilled until Christ comes back. But it is available from the Cross to Gentiles also who God apparently allows to horn in on Jewish promises. God did not intend Gentiles—only Jews. But God changed His mind at the Cross to allow non-Jews. But it will not be “fulfilled” until Christ returns! Who cannot see the blatant contradiction here?
What is the problem? Reagan refuses to allow the NT to interpret the passage. The “Israel of God” is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:16) and the New Covenant was always intended to be inclusive of non-Jews (Heb. 8). When Jeremiah originally stated the NC would be with “the house of Israel and the house of Judah” he intended it to be in a spiritual sense.

This is why Walvoord explains the millennial belief as not merely a construct of what may occur in the future, but the ultimate determining factor in biblical interpretation. “It is not too much to say that millennialism is a determining factor in Biblical interpretation of comparable importance to the doctrines of verbal inspiration, the deity of Christ, substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection” (Ibid., 16). The entire framework of the Premillennial structure, of which The Blood Moon Scheme functions as a room in the house, revamps the manner in which one looks at the Bible as a whole. As yesteryear scholar pointed out, the Premillennial edifice is the “offspring of rabbinical artifices” (Patrick Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture, I, 123). How strange that Blood Moons and Premillennialism should commend itself to Christian interpreters!

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Premillennial Textual Problems in Revelation

Premillennial Textual Problems in Revelation

by Bill Lockwood

The Issue Defined

The word “Premillennial” has two components: (1) Pre; meaning “before” and (2) Millennial; meaning 1,000 years. It suggests that Christ will return to the earth just prior to a 1,000 year reign. It contains several ideas. According to Ernest Kevan in Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (352) it is “held that the OT prophets predicted the re-establishment of David’s kingdom and that Christ intended to bring this about. It is alleged, however, that because the Jews refused his person and work he postponed the establishment of his kingdom until the time of his return. Meanwhile, it is argued, the Lord gathered together ‘the church’ as a kind of interim measure.”

This theory includes that in the future the Jews will return to the land of Israel; that Jesus will establish a physical kingdom after fighting physical battles and that these events have been in the immediate future since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. It is good to be reminded that Premillennialism is not the common doctrine of the early church (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Part IV, p. 861.

Problems with Premillennialism

The entire theory is freighted with Jewish doctrine and ideas that flatly contradict Scripture as a whole. In the following we are only examining textual problems associated with the book of Revelation. Not included here is the multitude of theological errors posed by premillennialism. What textual problems are there?

(1) Premillennial theorists uniformly remove chapters 4-19 from the immediate context of the book of Revelation. No justification, textual or otherwise, is ever offered for this maneuver. John Hagee does this (Four Blood Moons, 91; see also Mark Hitchcock, Blood Moons Rising, 19; and John Walvoord, Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis, p. 102, 171-72, 178). This is totally arbitrary and reflects merely the whim of the theorist. It substitutes fanciful unfounded caprice for sober exegesis.

(2) Premillennial writers universally insist upon the rule that all passages in the Bible must be literally understood. The late John Walvoord of Dallas Theological Seminary, for example, pronounces that “The study of these [biblical prophecies, bl] demonstrates that when prophecy is fulfilled, it is fulfilled literally” (Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis, 21). Walvoord is one of the premier leaders in the premillennial school. All others dutifully follow this capricious rule. Mark Hitchcock, for instance, insists upon this throughout Blood Moons Rising (p. 31, 45, 48, 71, 106, et. al.). However, no Bible passage states that this is the manner in which prophecies are to be understood. This is unreasonable. The Bible itself tells us that prophets spoke in various times and in various manners (Heb. 1:1,2). God did not reveal His message in one way. All prophecy should be interpreted in the same manner (literal) only if all prophecy was spoken in the same manner! But this is to contradict the Bible itself. The result of this “rule” ends in fantastic unfounded theories.

(3) Premillennialists use fanciful interpretations of the text as a template for the rest of the Bible. Again, no justification for this—only the unbending will of the future theorist. Mark Hitchcock announces: “Using Revelation as a framework, a Bible student is able to harmonize the hundreds of other biblical passages that speak of the seven-year tribulation into a clear model of the next time period for planet earth. With such a template to guide us, we can see that already God is preparing or setting the stage of the world in which the great drama of the tribulation will unfold.” (Blood Moons Rising, quoting another with approval, p. 19).  Again, this is fanciful and arbitrary. The common and well-grounded method of interpretation of Bible material is that “the Bible is to be interpreted in the same manner … by the same principles” of other books (Milton Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 173). It seems too simplistic to point out that words are to be understood in their primary meaning unless the nature of the literature demands differently. And this is precisely what Revelation tells us: that the message is in “signs and symbols” (Rev. 1:1-3). Why then insist upon using Revelation as a “template” of literal meaning and force other Bible passages within its mold? It can only be to uphold false theories.

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