More Speculation and the Second Coming
Number 2 of 12 in the Second Coming Series
In our last article we noticed some highly speculative, not to mention unscriptural, theories regarding our Lord's return. Here, at the close of another millenium, such theories are running rampant. To summarize the last article, we saw that no one but God knows when Jesus will return, despite many claims to the contrary (Matthew 24:35,36,44; 25:13). We also saw that the Lord's coming will be unannounced, as the coming of a thief (2 Peter 3:10). Jesus even told His disciples to always be ready because they would not know when His coming would be. We also saw that the Bible refers to the antichrist in only three places, and contrary to modern day theories, the term does not refer to a single modern day world leader at all, but rather to a group of false religious teachers who were at work perverting the gospel back in the first century (1 John 2:18,22; 2 John 7). We also saw how that the signs many say warn us that His coming is imminent (i.e. floods, earthquakes and so forth) were given by Jesus to warn His disciples of Jerusalem's destruction back in the first century, not His second coming (Matthew 24:1,2,7,33,34). Also, modern theories ignore what the book of Revelation itself says about the timeframe of the events it symbolically speaks of. When we interpret the symbols, we should look at the first couple of centuries, not the 20 or 21st centuries. This is what the book itself tells us to do (Revelation 1:1,3). For a fuller treatment of the above, please refer to the article in the previous issue.
Speculation is a dangerous thing. The most disturbing thing about it is what it
does to people's faith if they are untaught. Think about what it would do to you
if someone who seemed to know what he was talking about told you that Jesus said
He would come at such and such a time and He did not come. Also, think about the
impression the world gets from date setters who fail in there predictions time
after time. It is time for us to accept what the Bible has plainly taught All
along; We do not know when His coming will be so we need to always be living in
a state of preparedness.
The Premillenial System
"And when they say to you, 'Look there! Look here!' Do not go away and run after them." (Luke 17:23). Jesus here warns His disciples against following after speculators in matters of the kingdom. Certainly we need to heed His advice with reference to modern day theories about His imminent coming.
Premillenialism is a very popular belief system today, especially in the Protestant evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal denominations. The prefix "pre" means "before" and the root "millennial" means "one thousand years". The thousand years is mentioned but once in the Bible, and then in the highly symbolic language of the apocalyptic book of Revelation. The thousand years symbolizes the complete and final victory of the saints who had been martyred for the cause of Christ back in the early days of the church (Revelation 20:1-6). This interpretation of these symbols is in harmony with what the first three verses of the book say about the timeframe of these events. The premillenial theories of today do not fit this timeframe.
Generally, the theories of premilleniallism run something like this:
The Old Testament prophesied of a coming kingdom. Jesus came to fulfill these prophecies but the people rejected Him. So instead of establishing His promised kingdom He established the church instead. He then ascended back into heaven promising to return one day to establish His kingdom on earth and finally fulfilling the ancient prophecies.
Prior to His coming there will be an unusual amount of activity such as wars, earthquakes, famines, storms and the like. European alliances will form, Russia and China will amass armies, a wicked world leader called the antichrist will be revealed and Christians will be persecuted.
At this time, Jesus will appear and the righteous will be raptured. They will leave the earth with Jesus and spend seven years in heaven with Him. During this time, there will be serious tribulation here on earth during which Jews will automatically convert to Christ along with many Gentiles who had been left behind. Armies will gather together to fight a huge battle at Armageddon, and as God's people eon earth are surrounded and all seems lost, Jesus will appear with His angels and win the battle, slaughtering the enemy, and will reign for one thousand years over the earth in Jerusalem. After this, Satan, who has been bound during the millenium will be released for a short time. Then will come the end of the world, the final judgment and eternity.
Why the Theory is Wrong
"...and if you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31,32). The theory is not entirely wrong. Jesus will come again. The dead will be raised. The righteous will rise to meet Him in the air. The world will be destroyed. We will all be judged one day. Death will be conquered. Satan will be defeated. Eternity will follow. So what is wrong with the theory? We'll hit on just a few of its problems.
The theory says the kingdom of Christ is yet in the future. But the bible says the kingdom of Christ is already in existence, and has been since the first century. Disciples of Jesus were in the kingdom in the first century (Colossians 1:13,14; Revelation 1:9). Not only that, but Premillenialism makes Jesus out to be a false prophet because He said His kingdom would be established in the lifetimes of some of those who were standing with Him listening to His words (Mark 9:1).
The theory errs by making Jesus' kingdom an earthly kingdom. Jesus' kingdom exists wherever He reigns in the human heart (Luke 17:20,21). Jesus Himself said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting... but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." (John 18:36). Any theory that makes this kingdom an earthly kingdom is wrong, as is any theory that has Jesus' servants fighting physical battles to advance His kingdom.
The theory is wrong because it denies that Jesus is king now. The Bible puts Jesus on His throne now, in heaven. He is now holding forth His royal scepter (Hebrews 1:8). He was raised from the grave to take His place on David's throne, and has done so (Acts 2:29-36), He reigns now and will continue to do so until the end at which time He will deliver up His kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:22-26). Who is Jesus? He is the "King of kings"! (Revelation 17:14; 19:19).
The theory is wrong because it separates the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead from the destruction of the world and final judgment by a thousand years. The Bible shows that these events will happen in one day, one right after the other (John 5:27-29; 6:39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:22-26; 50-54; 2 Peter 3:8-13).
The theory is wrong because it says that the prophecies of the Old Testament have yet to be fulfilled by Christ. But the New Testament affirms that indeed Jesus has fulfilled al the prophecies made concerning Himself (Luke 24:44). The prophets of old did not speak of a time in our future when they spoke about the Messiah and His kingdom being established. They spoke about these days (Acts 3L24026). Are we in the "last days"? Yes! But so were those that lived in the first century because the term "last days" refers to the whole period of time from Jesus' ascension until the end of time (Acts 2:16,17; Hebrews 1:1,2). But living in the last days does not mean that Jesus' return is necessarily imminent. But, it means that it could be.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 6.2; February 1999