Premillennialism and the Signs of the End
Premillennialism & the End Times
When God decided that He wanted to create man, He also knew that the Word would have to become flesh in order to pay the penalty for the sins which man with a free-will would commit. Consequently, before Jesus could come to earth, there needed to be chosen:
The nation turned out to be the family of Abraham. Abraham obeyed God and “offered” his son Isaac as a burnt offering to God, in Genesis 22. Afterward, God told him it was because Abraham had obeyed Him that He was going to bless the world through Abraham’s seed (Gen. 22:15-18). So the family or seed of Abraham would be the family through which the Messiah would come to earth. It would be into this family that Mary, the mother of Jesus, would be born.
After Israel spent a few hundred years in Egypt, God brought them to Mount Sinai and gave them a Law, which defined them as a nation. It contained civil laws, relative to land ownership and giving loans; it also contained spiritual laws and religious laws to keep Israel faithful to God until Jesus could come into the world. I talked last week that God needed Israel to stay monotheistic until Jesus could come into the world. In Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, God told Israel that her responsibility was to be a “light to the nations so that God’s salvation might reach to the end of the earth.” So Israel was supposed to be the light, accept Jesus the Christ when He came into the world, and be the first missionaries sharing the light of the gospel of Christ to the Gentile nations. That’s what God had intended for Israel…
The land… was promised to Abraham in Genesis 15 and that promise was repeated over and over again to the subsequent generations: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph expected the Promise to be fulfilled. The promise was repeated about a dozen times in the book of Exodus and then a few times in Leviticus, before Israel ever left Mount Sinai. They had a land they were going to! In God’s mind and plan, it was to wait until the coming of the Messiah.
The elders have asked me and Jared to preach on certain topics throughout the year so we have incorporated them into our schedule. I might not point out each topic the elders wanted me to cover, but this is one of them: Premillennialism and the “end times.” That is a lot to cover in one lesson; I actually have a series of studies on our Youtube page and I covered some of this material in my Wednesday night Bible class.
Here is the reason why this topic is relevant, especially today… With Covid having hit the world four years ago and now Israel is fighting Hamas in Palestine, there are a lot of people who believe that these are signs that the world is coming to an end. Signs that Jesus Christ will be returning soon. First of all, let me strongly encourage you to never say “these are signs that the world is coming to end!” Because when you say that, you are implying that Jesus Christ is a liar!
Jesus teaches that He will come back again unexpectedly: Matthew 24:36, 42, 44, 50; 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10. Jesus could not be any clearer. There are no signs of His return.
But, so many people are influenced by a system of false teaching known as Premillennialism. Briefly, here is what that teaches:
One day, the righteous day are going to be raised and Jesus will come back the first time and He’ll take them to heaven in what is called the “rapture.” And then there is going to happen a 7-year tribulation when the world is going to fall into chaos and the Anti-Christ is going to appear and lead the forces of evil.
It is also during this period of time when they believe that all the Jews in the world will be restored to Palestine; they will be converted en masse to Christianity; the temple will be rebuilt; and sacrifices, the priesthood, and worship will be restored based on the Law of Moses.
After the 7-years of tribulation, Jesus will come back a second time and He will take to heaven the saints who lived and died during the OT times. Jesus will lead His forces against evil in the “Battle of Armageddon” and He will conquer the Anti-Christ. Then He will establish His kingdom which will exist for 1,000 years. That’s why this doctrine is called “pre-millennialism;” He comes and the rapture happens before (“pre-“) He establishes His kingdom which will last 1,000 years (“millennium”).
After that 1,000 years, when Satan is loosed for some time, then Jesus will come back a third time and He will judge the wicked. Then comes the end.
First, I want you to observe that if Jesus was telling the truth that there will be no signs when He comes back, then observe how many times this false teaching indicates to the wicked that Jesus will be coming soon!
Second, this teaching is no where taught in a single portion of Scripture. Nowhere. It is a mixture of texts that, in their context, apply to different topics! For example, the appearance of the Antichrist and that 70-year gap comes from Daniel 9, which is talking about the first coming of Jesus and combines it will Matthew 24 which is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem. The Battle of Armageddon…? It is only mentioned one time in the Bible (one time!): Revelation 16:16 - a passage that is full of figures of speech! And the whole context of Revelation is talking about the destruction of the Roman Empire!
When it comes to the “rapture…”? That word is not even found in the Bible, not in any significant translation of the Bible. And the “Anti-Christ?” The “anti-Christ” is mentioned 5 times in the Bible, all by the apostle John in 1 John (2:18, 22; 4:3) and 2 John 7. And John writes in 1 John 2:18 - “even now many antichrists have appeared!” So there is not one single verse that indicates there is supposed to be another “Anti-Christ” coming!
The fundamental error of Premillennial teaching is that they have misidentified the Kingdom of the Messiah. Jesus teaches emphatically that it is synonymous with His church in Matthew 16:18-19 and He teaches just as emphatically that the Kingdom would be established during the first century (Mark 9:1). Those passages and many others show that the kingdom and church of Christ were established in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But the main idea I want to consider in the rest of this lesson is the role of the modern nation of Israel in God’s plan for saving man…
THE ORIGIN OF THE MODERN STATE OF ISRAEL:
The nation of Israel suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Roman Empire, first in A. D. 70 (which Jesus predicted in Matthew 24), and finally in 135 A. D. when Roman even renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina. When Christianity took over the Roman Empire, they started controlling Palestine and the Jews became a definite minority. Muslims invaded in 611 A. D. and about 400 years later, the Catholic crusades began. For the next 500 years, Israel was under the control of various Muslim groups, including Egyptians. Until the rise of the Ottoman Empire.
From 1517 to 1917, Palestine had been part of the Ottoman Empire; this empire was a Muslim empire. When World War 1 ended, Palestine passed into the hands of the British who issued a declaration called the “Balfour Declaration” in 1917 stating that Israel should have their own nation. That did not happen until after World War 2 when the United Nations decided to assure Israel the right to that land. So the current nation of Israel has existed as an independent nation since May 14, 1948.
From a spiritual / theological perspective, none of this history matters, because from a theological / spiritual / biblical perspective, the land of Palestine does not belong to Israel by divine right nor is Israel God’s people today. Let’s listen to what the Bible teaches…
WHAT ABOUT THE JEWS?
So here I want to focus on this aspect of Premillennialism which believes there will be:
1) A future restoration of the Jews to the land of Palestine;
2) Their subsequent (mass) conversion of Jews to Christianity.
To word it another way, “Premillennialism” believes that the Jews are still God’s chosen people and they still have a role to serve as Jews in God’s plan to save mankind.
Here is the Bible’s response to this:
The Jews had inherited the Promised Land:
One of the core components of the “covenant” God had made with the fathers (see Gen. 12:1-3) is the land of Canaan in which to dwell. As I have already stated, that promise was repeated dozens of times to Israel to motivate them to stay faithful to God as they entered the Promised Land and to never take for granted that wonderful blessing.
But, we need to observe that God said He had fulfilled all His promises relative to the “land promise:” Deut. 4:25-27; 28:58-66; Joshua 21:43-45; 23:14. And it was fulfilled in its entirety: 1 Chronicles 18:3; 2 Chronicles 9:26.
Of course, Israel had to obey God to remain in the land: 2 Kings 17:1-23; 24:1-20; 25:1-21.
There is a promise of a return, but it is a return from Assyrian and Babylonian exiles: Jeremiah 29:1-14; 30:1-3; Ezekiel 36:24, 33; 37:15-22. That promise of return was fulfilled as well: Ezra 1:1-4. There are no unfulfilled prophecies for the Jews of any future blessings in Palestine, or any other country.
We know that the “Jews” living today are not God’s chosen people because:
1) The Law which created the Jews has been nailed to the cross: Romans 7:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Galatians 3:23-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Philippians 3:2-6; Colossians 2:13-17; Hebrews 8.
2) Physical circumcision has no spiritual significance at all anymore: Romans 2:28-29; 4:10-12; Gal. 3:27-29; Col. 2:11-12.
3) Terms used of national Israel are now fulfilled in the church: Galatians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Rev. 1:6.
The key text used to support this idea is Romans 11:26, Paul writes “all Israel will be saved.” To this, premillennialists argue that the Jews are still God’s chosen people; they have a divine right to the land of Palestine; Israel needs all the support they can get from the United States - for spiritual purposes. But that is a misuse of this text.
Is this a prophecy yet to be fulfilled? Romans 9 (“God has the sovereign right to save people outside of Israel, i. e. in Jesus Christ”), Romans 10 (“God saves people through faith and obedience”), and Romans 11 (“Israel might be saved; Gentiles might be lost”) are a trilogy. Please observe:
1) Verse 26 begins with “so.” This is an adverb; it refers to manner. It does not refer to time. Paul is not saying “then Israel will be saved;” he is saying in a similar manner Israel will be saved.”
2) Observe that he is quoting from Isaiah 59:20-21. The future tense is from Isaiah’s perspective, not Paul’s (NT) perspective! Israel will be saved if they believe in Jesus Christ and obey Him and are “grafted” back into the olive tree (ver. 23, which is the broader context).
God is impartial: Acts 10:34-35; 15:8-9; Romans 10:12.
We are living in the “last days” which means there will be no more “age” (“Golden Age” or “Millennial Age”) to come: Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18.
Take home message: The church of Christ is the spiritual Israel of God; it is our task to share the message of the Kingdom with those around us.