Since the reestablishment of the Jewish state in 1948 the speculations and false prophecies concerning the return of Christ have increased at an exponential rate. It is hard to turn on religious programming today without a reference to signs of the end times. Unfortunately, what gets lost in all the sensationalism and wild imaginations is truth.
The background to these predictions is a teaching that Jesus Christ is to return to the earth, reestablish the throne of David, and rule in physical Israel for 1000 years. When people are making these predictions, they are usually referring to things that must happen before this 1000 year reign of Christ (tribulation, rapture, anti-christ etc). This is called “Premillennialism”. “Pre” meaning before, and “millennial” meaning 1000.
Teaching and studying on the doctrine itself can be like trying to wrestle a greased pig. There is a lot to grab onto but its too slippery to get a good grip. Instead of tracing down every incorrect interpretation that someone can make, it is better to remind ourself that the doctrine is flawed right out of the gate. This teaching can’t stand because the foundation is flawed (Matt 7:24-27).
Premillennialism is built on the belief that God intended to send Jesus Christ to fulfill all the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. They identify two types of propheciesconcerning Christ that we will simply call, suffering prophecies, and Kingdom prophecies. However, during the ministry of Jesus the Jewish people rejected Him as king. So God had to set up the Church as an “interim program”. The Kingdom was placed on hold until the supposed 1000 year reign of Christ. Christ was able to fulfill the suffering prophecies but the kingdom prophecies were left unfulfilled.
The obvious problem with this is the idea that the kingdom of God was not established with the Lord’s first advent. Before we even appeal to scripture we can appeal to common sense. If men could reject Christ as king the first time and God changed the plan, then why can’t man do it again? Why take any stock in the prophecies of God if man can cause them to be unfulfilled? Furthermore, if Jesus did not establish his kingdom on earth, then He is not King. The only way to get around these honest questions is to get slippery with the Word of God.
But the Word of God is clear on these matters. In John 6:15, it says “Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take him by force to make him king, withdrew again to the mountain by himself alone.”. If God’s plan was to make Jesus the king of the physical nation of Israel, the Jewish people were right on board with that. But that was not the Lord’s plan.
Jesus was not rejected as the physical king, He rejected the idea of a physical kingdom. His intention was always to establish a spiritual kingdom (Dan 2:45). In John 18:36-37 the Lord explains to Pilate that his “kingdom is not of this world”. If it is not a worldly kingdom, what kind of kingdom could it be? A spiritual kingdom is the only other possibility.
How much clearer would we have the Lord be with showing us the nature of his Kingdom? But still we have people do biblical gymnastics to insert a physical kingdom in the messianic reign of Christ.
In Matthew 16:18-19 the Lord explains that he is going to build his church, and that he is giving the keys of the kingdom to Peter. This forever links the understanding that the Church was God’s plan concerning the kingdom all along (Eph 3:10-11). On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, that kingdom was officially established.
In that great sermon, Peter clearly laid out that the Lord suffered as prophesied “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death” (2:23). But he also said that the Lord fulfilled the prophecies concerning David’s throne and kingdom as he was resurrected and sat down at the right hand of God (2:30-35, Col 3:1). He is now reigning as both Lord and Christ(2:36). He suffered as the Messiah, and is now ruling as King. If one is going to rule as a king, a kingdom must exist!
His kingdom is His church. The last days, the time of restoration, and the messianic reign of Christ began on pentecost (Acts 2:17, 3:21-24). There is no hope in a future kingdom. The hope is only in his church (Eph 5:23). There will not be a rapture for the faithful and then a second chance for the world. This is it.
The great problems of the doctrine of premillennialism, are found right here in the foundation. It is based on a materialistic view of the Kingdom of God. It implies that man can destroy prophecy of God. And it changes the church of Christ as an after thought. That all bears itself out every day. People treat the church as a take it or leave it institution. They treat it as if one is as good as another. People have no honor and respect for the kingdom of God as evidenced by their lack of respect and honor for His church. People feel perfectly comfortable in starting their own church, teaching whatever they want, practicing whatever they want, being organized however they want. They have no respect for the King’s kingdom.
I pray that all can be like those people on pentecost who repented and were baptized when they realized God established a spiritual kingdom (Acts 2:38, Gal 6:16).