26. What are some of the features of postmillennialism?
We have already talked about preterism: Many of the prophecies of the Bible which premillennialists consider unfulfilled, postmillennialists believe have already been fulfilled. This includes Old and New Testaments both. We determine what has been fulfilled by the teaching of the New Testament. Psalm 2 provides a good example. It is repeatedly quoted and applied in the New Testament. We are taught the meaning of these prophesies with a divine commentary.
Another feature of postmillennialism is that of covenantalism: There are many Old Testament prophecies which prophesy a coming golden age for the earth. Postmillennialism is not based upon a particular view of Revelation 20 alone; it is a hope that is grounded in the Old Testament, which finds fulfillment in the arrival of the kingdom of God in the New Testament. Below is one of many examples.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious (Isaiah. 11:8-10).
Now how do we go about placing the fulfillment of this? The answer is important — we must look at where the New Testament places it. I have italicized important phrases:
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.” And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” And again: “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” And again, Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; and He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him the Gentiles shall hope’ (Rom. 15:8-12) Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient” (Rom. 15:15-18).
In short, Paul places the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy squarely in the context of his mission and ministry to the Gentiles of the first century world. If the New Testament tells us that this is what Isaiah means, then this is what Isaiah means.
27. Is postmillennialism the “social gospel”
Many have assumed that postmillennialism was the result of liberal “social gospel” thought at the turn of the century. But postmillennial eschatology has been the view of many staunch Bible-believing conservative Christians — some of whom were in the forefront of the battle against liberalism. J. Gresham Machen and B.B. Warfield are two names that come to mind.
28. Is postmillennialism anti-Semitic?
This distortion comes from the fact that postmillennialists apply many Old Testament prophecies about Israel to the Church (as the New Israel). Consequently, these prophecies can then not used to justify a modern Judaistic Zionism. It is true that virtually no postmillennialist will be a Zionist, but this is completely different than being anti-Semitic.
29. Does preterism help us understand the tone of the New Testament?
Yes. One of the things virtually all Christians notice as they read through the New Testament is the pervasive expectation of “the Day.” When this is coupled with the assumption that the passages are all talking about the end of the world, such references become a problem because here we are two thousand years later, and it still hasn’t happened. Why does the New Testament sound so urgent if the fulfillment of these statements was still thousands of years off?
30. How does preterism help?
If we look at all these passages at one time, we should soon see that there is a more reasonable explanation for them.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place (Matt. 24:34).
When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes (Matt. 10:23).
. . . not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25).
You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8-9)
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour (1 John 2:18).
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John (Rev. 1:1)
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near (Rev. 1:3).
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown (Rev. 3:11).
Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book (Rev. 22:7).
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work (Rev. 22:12).
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20).
31. It sure doesn’t look like two thousands years or more.
That is correct. When confronted with these passages (and there are many more than these), the reader of the New Testament has basically three options. He can:
* Take the route of unbelieving liberalism, and say that the New Testament writers expected to see a spectacular end to the world in their day, and that they were sadly mistaken.
* Say that the expectation was not fulfilled because the prophecies refer the end of the world. But then the natural meaning of the words indicating its nearness in time must be “spiritualized.”
* Say that the writers of the New Testament expected to see these things come to pass in their day, and that they were correct. Their expectations were fulfilled. This is the approach of believing preterism.
32. But if the first century was a time of such great judgments, wouldn’t there have been Old Testament prophecies of it?
Yes, and there were. There are many places in the Old Testament where the prophets speak of the great renewal of the Church, and of the judgment of God on apostate Judaism surrounding the New Covenant. As we have already discussed, our standard for determining whether an Old Testament passage is in fact referring to this time period is the teaching of the New Testament. It is not to be determined by whether or not it appears to be a reasonable explanation to us.
33. What are some examples?
There are many places where the Bible describes the coming dissolution of the Older Covenant order.
‘Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; ‘and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2:4-9).
Now following the pattern we have set in interpreting the Old Testament in the light of New Testament teaching, we can see what this passage means. Consider how the author of Hebrews interprets this “shaking.”
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:25-29).
The author of Hebrews is plainly teaching his readers that the shaking of heaven and earth is the removal of the Judaic order, so that the kingdom of God can be firmly established throughout the earth.
34. Are there others?
The prophet Hosea refers to the coming time of great chastisement.
The days of punishment have come; The days of recompense have come. Israel knows! The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is insane, because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity (Hosea 9:7).
Why do we not take this as just another general prophecy of judgment? We know because of the words of Christ.
For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled (Luke 21:22).
There many other places where this time of judgment is clearly predicted as well. For further study, consider how Joel is quoted in Acts 2:16-21.