Essays On Chiliasm (Part 2)

   Now I think it is fair to say that, in order to understand any teaching contained in the Bible, we must be willing to maintain the meaning of language.  For instance, when the Scriptures speak of something occurring “on earth,” then we have no right to give it a celestial meaning. This, however, is exactly what the allegorists have done; and because of their methods they have befogged and confused the very meaning of the texts.  I cannot speak too harshly against this method, which savors something of unbelief.  For what reason can there be to depart from the natural meaning of words, unless one is not willing (or not able) to receive them?  Thus when allegorists get hold of the prophetic Scriptures, the end of their labors is to leave the child of God more mystified than he was before.  This is not according to wisdom.

   For the truth always shines plainly.  And although there be some things in Scripture designated as “mysteries,” or otherwise veiled in symbolic language, a real exegesis will tend to clear up their true sense.  It will not render them more mysterious.  Obviously, I realize that there are limitations to our understanding, and that the finer mechanics of certain prophecies must remain hidden until they are fulfilled.  But this limitation does not disallow us from perceiving plain truths that are plainly presented.  And although we have not all the facts in hand, we are not hindered from perceiving in what direction the evidence points.  But if any man seek to bewilder us with allegories and fables, we must dissent to even listen to him.  For we are listening to God, and they to their own dreams and delusions.

   The Bible states more or less plainly that there will be a reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. In the Lord’s prayer we recite the petition: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.”  What are we praying for?  Certainly nothing other than the reign of Christ in this world. We are praying for Christ to establish His kingdom among us.  And the vision which John beheld on Patmos strengthens and confirms our hope.  “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Rev. 21: 3).  This prophecies that Christ will come to dwell among us personally, just as He did the first time; only the second advent will be in glory.  For John says of His first advent: “And the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1: 14).  But in vision he says: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men.”  Thus he speaks of a personal reign of Jesus Christ on earth.

   (Rev. 11: 15) “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”

   And to this the Old Testament prophets agree, predicting a time when Christ will come to establish His throne on earth to govern the nations.

   (Psalm 2: 9) “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

   (Psalm 67: 4) “O, let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.”

   (Psalm 96: 10) “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: He shall judge the people righteously.”

   (Psalm 72: 8) “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”

   (Isaiah 42: 4) “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.”

   (Jeremiah 23: 5-6) “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”

   (Daniel 7: 27) “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”

   (Zechariah 9: 10) “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth.”

   Now those who choose to allegorize these passages present innumerable difficulties.  For if Christ is reigning, He must be reigning over all the heathen.  But it is obvious that He is only now reigning over His church.  When, then, does this universal reign begin?  Once more, go back to Rev. 20: 1-3, where John predicts the binding of Satan.  The effect of Satan’s binding was that the nations should no longer be deceived.  And we must grant that there is a great difference between “the church” and “the nations.”  Now, from Christ’s ascension to the present day, the church alone has been free from Satan’s deception.  The nations, on the other hand, have continued to walk after their own delusions.  They have even, at divers periods, persecuted the church.  But Christ promises to give those who overcome the world “power over the nations” (Rev. 2: 26-27; cf. Ps. 2: 9).  Has this ever taken place at any time in the world’s history?  If not, then it must be future.

   Some, however, argue that these Scriptures must be understood in a qualified sense. And we disagree entirely with their philosophy.  For the prophecies themselves do not admit of partial, but only conclusive, fulfillment.  Our God does not fulfill His promises by fractions and half-measures.  When Christ fulfills a promise, the cup overflows its brim.  Every jot and tittle is accomplished.  When our Lord promises to give His saints power to rule the nations, we must not allegorize or water down His promises, neither limit His power.  For His bounty exceeds all our expectations.  “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2: 9).  When Christ makes a promise, be assured that He shall keep it; and though we wait long for its fulfillment, those who maintain patience to the end shall inherit the kingdom.

   That the saints will share in the administration of His kingdom may be learnt from Isaiah 32: 1: “Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.”  This is the fulfillment of the Millennial reign.  Also, in Obadiah 21, the prophet writes: “And saviors shall come upon mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”  I leave it to you to decide whether or not our Lord speaks any differently.  For in His parable of the pounds, He describes the return of the king and the distribution of rewards to His servants: “And He said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luke 19: 17).  Where are these cities located?  On earth?– or in the heavenly places?  In order to spiritualize these passages, you ought first to prove that cities exist in heaven.  If not, you must adhere to the plain meaning of language.

   When have the meek ever inherited the earth?  When have the lame ever taken the prey? (Isaiah 33: 23).  When has the spoil ever been divided with the strong? (Isa. 53: 12).  When have the upright ever had dominion over their persecutors? (Psa. 49: 14).  When have the nations ever been subdued under our feet? (Psa. 47: 3).  Only when the Lord returns to reign as King over all the earth (Psa. 47: 7).  And when this happens, we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3: 2).  If these passages have already been fulfilled, then it is manifest that we should also see Christ reigning. For it is not possible that His coming should be visible and His presence invisible.  If His coming is visible, then His presence shall be visible as well.  Otherwise, there is no way to verify that He ever came.  And yet His coming will not be missed by the world, for like lightning it shall shine from one end of the heaven to the other (Matt. 24: 27).  And “every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1: 7).

   The allegorists would have us to believe that Christ is now ruling in the world.  But there is a great difference between the Mediatorial reign and the Millennial reign.  For when Christ ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, He left His affairs in charge of the church.  It is that dispensation which we are now in.  He is sitting at the Father’s right hand until His enemies be made His footstool (Psa. 110: 1)– that is, until He comes to judge the world in righteousness.  Until that time, the saints must expect tribulation and persecution.  We are being tried and tested, and must bear our Cross just as our Savior did.  We do not receive our rewards until the Lord comes back to reign.  Thus there is a difference between the Mediatorial reign and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in the world. 

   Peter also writes that the ancient prophets predicted both “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1: 11).  Both the sufferings and the glories belong to us.  But first the sufferings, then the glories.  We must in all things be conformed to the image of Him who redeemed us through His blood.  The passages of Scripture that relate to Christ’s rule on earth obviously speak of the glories that follow the sufferings.  But the sufferings are not filled up until Antichrist and his kingdom are destroyed.  Daniel makes reference to this when he describes the overthrow of the heathen world-powers and the establishment of Christ’s reign.  John also follows Daniel’s predictions, when he says that “the kingdoms of this world” shall be given to Christ.  Prophecies such as these must not be applied to the Mediatorial reign, but to the Millennial reign.  During the present era, the church only is following Christ, while “the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing” (Psa. 2: 1).  But during the Millennium the whole world will be subject to the rule of Christ and His saints.  That is the day we are waiting for.

To be continued…

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