By Charles H. Welch
A Positive Approach to a Disputed Theme
When this section of the Alphabetical Analysis was prepared, we had no intention to devote a complete part to Prophetic subjects, but as interest had grown in the subject of the Millennial Kingdom, we felt a few words here would be justified. We have since prepared a complete part devoted to Prophetic truth, but feel that the reader will not think the space and time wasted that is devoted to that great theme here.Millennial Contexts When this section of the Alphabetical Analysis was prepared, we had no intention to devote a complete part to Prophetic subjects, but as interest had grown in the subject of the Millennial Kingdom, we felt a few words here would be justified. We have since prepared a complete part devoted to Prophetic truth, but feel that the reader will not think the space and time wasted that is devoted to that great theme here.
The Millennial kingdom has always attracted the attention of students of Prophecy. Its promise of peace, its exemption from external temptation, its recognition of the crown rights of the Redeemer and other associations of peace and safety, so strikingly at variance with the course of this world, act like a beacon light in a dark night, a blessed end to the strife and contention of present-day life.
While, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, light on the Millennium
may be gathered from Daniel, Isaiah or the Psalms, strictly speaking one
passage, and one passage only actually
names the thousand-year kingdom, and that is Revelation twenty. All the
teaching that comparison may bring to light must conform in its every
detail to the conditions that are found in this one chapter of the Apocalypse.
It is readily granted that the Book of the Revelation is a difficult book
to understand. It abounds with symbolism, and like all prophetic utterances,
the place and meaning of figures of speech must be allowed for. But when
every such allowance is made, one thing stands out as imperative,
REVELATION TWENTY IS BASIC
Should one interpose-why not start with the lovely foreshadowings of Isaiah eleven-the answer must be, not all students of prophecy agree that this is a Millennial picture. It may be, but it can only be seen to be if and when it is found in accord with the conditions that Revelation twenty demands. Revelation twenty provides the only standard by which all prophetic findings on the Millennium must be measured. The term "The Millennium" is not found in the Scriptures but is a legitimate term for more reasons than one.
The first objection we must meet is that this period of time must not be taken literally. In answer to this objection we quote the references in Revelation twenty and let them speak for themselves.
This repeated reference to the period of a thousand years cannot be
dismissed as mere figurative language, to do so would vitiate the text-books
of history, for many an accepted historical date is expressed with less
explicit and circumstantial details. The references fall into a perfect
pattern as might have been expected.
The Thousand Years
During the first centuries after Christ, the constant threat of martyrdom turned the believer's attention to the promises of the Millennial day, but as persecution waned, and "other things" entered, the Millennium became spiritualized. This attitude was first noticed in the teachings of Caius at the close of the second century and was greatly furthered by Origen whose spiritualizing is a matter of common knowledge. It was taught later that martyred Christians had risen from the dead, and were spiritually reigning with Christ unseen. Rabbinical tradition held that the seventh thousand years from the creation of man will be a sabbatical thousand, a climax to the heptads of days, weeks, months and years (of which the Jubilee and the prophecy of Daniel nine, are outstanding examples).
During the time of Cromwell, a sect called "Fifth Monarchy Men" held that a universal kingdom, following the four indicated in the image of Daniel two, must be set up, and that no single person ought to rule mankind until the Lord's Coming, civil government being provisionally administered by the saints. We must be prepared, it seems, for the continual uprising of many and varied attempts to explain and expound the Millennium, in which of course, the present effort must be inc1uded, with the possibility of prejudice and ulterior motive. Prophetic students today are divided mainly into two groups:
In Volume VI of The Berean Expositor, published in 1916, on pages 65 and 66 we wrote:
"In its place" is now, and so, forty years after making the initial promise, we have redeemed it. Our findings are published:
Turning now to Revelation twenty, we observe that it is in historical
sequence with events that are recorded in chapter nineteen, and the following
conspectus of events is set forth before the reader as an analysis of
what must take place, and which
will lead to the setting up of the Millennial kingdom. Here we are on
safe ground. John cannot be accused of writing with preconceived ideas
to uphold, he "received" this book from the Lord.
REVELATION 19 and 20
(1) BABYLON MUST BE DESTROYED (Rev. 19:1-4)
By comparing this passage with Jeremiah 25:9-11 it will be seen that it is a reversal of the doom that fell upon Israel at their captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. This condition is referred to again in Jeremiah 33:4-11. The fall of Babylon is given in detail in Jeremiah fifty and fifty-one.
If the destruction of Babylon immediately precedes the Millennium, it follows that it remains and endures throughout any and every "Pre-Millennial kingdom" since Genesis ten. In like manner, if Israel are to be gathered from the lands of their dispersion at the coming of the Lord, it follows that they cannot have been "gathered" before as the centre and focus of light and blessing in the earth.
The following items must be included in what we have called "Millennial Contexts" -if any be excluded, or felt to be an intrusion, that will be a sure sign that our interpretation of the place where the Millennium fits, is wrong. Associated with this final judgment on Babylon should be noted the following features:
The Millennium therefore will be preceded by two noted events, the final
destruction of Babylon and the return of Israel. The return of Israel
is linked with the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37). The history and destiny
of the two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, are intimately related.
(2) THE LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH (Rev.
The word translated "omnipotent" is the Greek pantokrator,
and occurs in Revelation nine times.
Pantokrator in the Apocalypse
There is only one true King in the Revelation, namely He Whose name is The Word (Rev. 19:13,16) and Who is called both King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The time for the assumption of Crown and Sceptre is given in Revelation 11: 15 as the days of the sounding of the seventh trumpet when
At this same time, the time of the dead has come that they should be judged, and reward given to the servants of the Lord, and to His saints; the time when they that destroy the earth should be destroyed. Babylon is addressed in Jeremiah 51:25 as the "destroying mountain, which destroyeth all the earth", which brings this passage into line with the judgment pronounced in Reve1ation 11:18 when the Lord will "destroy them which destroy the earth" and as the desolation of Babylon here predicted is to be "for ever" (Jer. 51:26), this must line up with the destruction of Babylon revealed in Revelation 19:1-6.
The association of those who overcome and reign with Christ in the Millennial
kingdom, His Own reign and the ending
of the kingdoms of the earth at the same moment, with no
interval for any other kingdom good or evil to intervene, is here
displayed by the disposition of the word "reign".
Reigning in the Revelation
The kingdom that immediately precedes the Millennium and could be called
"The Pre-Millennial kingdom" is called the kingdom of the Beast! and if
David's kingdom is in any sense a type of the future kingdom of Christ,
that too had a kingdom that preceded it, a kingdom that foreshadowed the
kingdom of the Beast, namely the REIGN OF SAUL. Many there are who mistake
the rider of the white horse of Revelation 6:2 who is followed by war,
famine and death, for the rider of the white horse of Revelation 19:11,
Who is followed by the armies of heaven. May the Lord forbid that any
of His saints who are so eagerly looking for a Pre-Millennial kingdom
to be set up in the absence of Christ, shall be deceived by the apparent
"peace and safety" of that false reign.
The Pre- Millennial Kingdom
Over against the kingdom of this world, of the Beast, of the scarlet
woman (Babylon) is placed
and upon the casting out of that old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan which deceiveth the whole world, is heard aloud voice saying "Now is come . . . the kingdom of our God" (Rev. 12:9,10).
These passages exhaust the references that contain the Greek word basileia.
No other kingdoms appear but these two. The Pre-Millennial kingdom so
far as the Apocalypse is concerned
is the kingdom of the Beast. Revelation 12:9,10 is linked with Revelation
20:1,2, for in these two passages we have the title, "that old serpent,
which is the Devil and Satan"; in the first passage he is cast down to
the earth, and is said to be he "which deceiveth the whole world", and
in Revelation 20:2,3 he is said to be cast into the bottomless pit, "that
he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should
be fulfilled" .
(3) THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (Rev. 19:7)
This is another Millennial context. This is associated in chapter twenty-one with the holy Jerusalem (Rev. 21 :9). This city is called "New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God" (Rev. 3:12), and is there associated with the overcorner. While the twelve Apostles have each a name in one of the twelve foundations of this heavenly city, that does not prevent them in the regeneration from sitting on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) any more than the fact that Abraham looked for this heavenly city, will prevent him from sitting with those that shall come from the east and west, in the kingdom of God.
Neither will the fact that the Saviour is to sit on the throne of His father David, prevent Him from occupying a throne in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3) or from being seated far above all in heavenly places. Even the writer of these lines can sit at a desk, and be at one and the same time Editor, Husband, Principal and Citizen, without inconvenience or involving an impossibility.
The marriage of the Lamb is given a full exposition in chapter twenty-one,
for John but introduces the new heaven and the new earth, to leave it
immediately, and to step back into the period that precedes that great
event. In the same way Isaiah 65: 17 takes the reader up
to the new heavens and new earth, but then steps back and gives
all his attention to the creation of the city of Jerusalem with its attendant
blessings. If any one is unconvinced that the new creation is not the
subject of chapter twenty-one, a reading of verse twenty-seven will surely
suffice. Following the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb comes
(4) THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD
Here in Revelation nineteen we have THE Apocalypse, the Second Coming of the Lord. He comes according to this record, not to a world at peace, and not after a kingdom of heaven has been functioning for years and waiting for Him, He comes in righteousness to "make war". He is followed by the armies of heaven, and is seen "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood". The word translated "vesture" is the same in the LXX as that translated "apparel" in Isaiah 63: 1, and is closely associated with that prophecy. At His coming, the Lord is to "rule the nations with a rod of iron"-not merely with a rod, but with a rod of iron.
When the Scriptures speak of a "rod of iron" there is little of . the "gentle shepherd" either in the term itself or in the context where it is found, and any explanation that focuses attention on the "rod" but omits all reference to the peculiar feature "of iron" cannot but be held suspect. Let us note the terms which accompany and qualify this use of the rod of iron, both in Revelation nineteen and elsewhere. "Make war"; "a vesture dipped in blood"; "armies"; "sharp sword"; "smite the nations"; "tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God"; "eat the flesh of kings". If this rod is a symbol of blessing, surely it must be what is called an intruder here! The fact that the "rod" is sometimes associated with the Shepherd and his sheep, taken by itself, cannot set aside the twofold fact that here we have war and wrath, and that the rod is not merely a rod, but a "rod of iron".
This "rod of iron" appears in the first place in Psalm two. This Psalm speaks of Christ as the Anointed, but this has been denied, one of the "proofs" being that as it speaks of "the Lord" as well as "His anointed", and as "The Lord" of the O.T. is the Lord Jesus Christ of the New, the "Anointed" here must be someone else! The same argument would risk the same disastrous results if applied to Psalm 110. In the first place Acts 4:25-27 makes it clear that Peter accepted the Messianic import of this Psalm, and there is no need to labour the Messianic character of verse 7 of Psalm two, with its reference in Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5. The LXX reads Psalm 2:2 tou Christou autou and identical language is found in Revelation 11:15. If the principle of interpretation eliminates Christ from Psalm 2 :2, it would eliminate Christ from the prophecy which reads:
Psalm 2:8,9 where again "The Lord" and His "Christ" come together, is
quoted in Revelation 2:26,27 as of Christ and it is in a context of rebellion.
The Lord's action is revealed to be drastic. "Thou shalt break them with
a rod of iron."
(5) THE ROD OF IRON
The Companion Bible has the following note here.
That is certainly interesting, but Psalm two was written in Hebrew, and written centuries before the Septuagint, the Syriac or the Vulgate were thought of. If Ginsberg's Massoretic text be accepted, and the word translated "break" in Psalm 2:9 be rendered "rule" or "shepherd" as it is in Revelation 2:26,27, 12:5 and 19:15, is it a true inference that this "shepherding" of the nations is a gentle treatment by a shepherd of his flock?
Surely there is a case here for Right Division! A shepherd has a twofold obligation: (I) to look after his flock and (2) to defend it against the attack of robber or wild beast, as David knew only too well. For this the Eastern shepherd was provided with two instruments: (1) the rod for the enemy, (2) the staff or the flock.
What sort of shepherding would it be that used a RODOFIRON to guide or even to correct sheep! This word "rod" occurs in the A.V. O.T. thirty-four times, and is associated with "smiting" (Ex. 21:20, Isa. 10:24), "beating" (Prov. 23:13), with "oppression" (Isa. 9:4), "the fool's back" (Prov. 26:3) and the like. The references to sheep are exceedingly few. Leviticus 27:32 and Ezekiel 20:37 referring to the use of the rod in counting, and Micah 7: 14, "the flock of Thine inheritance", and Psalm 23 :4, "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me".
It will be seen that out of thirty-four references, four only refer to sheep, and even so, we are now dealing with a "rod of IRON", and so with something different and special.
The context in Revelation nineteen and the usage of the term will not allow us to take the verb "to shepherd" as of one phase only of the Shepherd's work. He acts as Shepherd equally when he fends off the robber with his "club of iron" as when he guides a wandering sheep with his "staff". Ask Paul and Silas what rhabdizo (from which rhabdos "rod") means in Acts 16:22,23 or ask the Corinthians what they expected by the threat of 1 Corinthians 4:21. It is impossible to read into the rod of iron of Revelation 19:15 anything other than that which is associated with smiting the nations with a sharp sword, or treading the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. These form the "context" of the rod of iron.
Revelation 2:27 employs a different word reading, "and He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers" (which is another N.T. rendering of the passage in Psalm two). Suntribo means "to bruise" a reed, or a person, and "to break" as fetters, or an alabaster box. If the reader has any compunction about the translation offered in the A.V. of Revelation 2:27, let him try "bruising" iron fetters, he will soon discover that facts are like mules, "stubborn things". Psalm two is closely related to Psalm one.
They cover the same ground and period, but look at the state of affairs from two points of view. In Psalm one, blessedness is predicated of the man who does not walk in the COUNSEL of the ungodly, in Psalm two, though a different word is used, the counsel of the ungodly is seen where "the rulers take COUNSEL together against the Lord". Two types of mankind are set before us in Psalm one. The one is likened to a tree planted by rivers of water, the other, the ungodly, are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. The references to chaff which is driven away takes us straight over to Daniel two. "Then was the iron, the day, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the CHAFF of the summer threshing-floors, and the WIND CARRIED them away" (Dan. 2:35).
Psalm one ends with the words, "the way of the ungodly shall PERISH", and Psalm two ends with warning, "and ye PERISH from the WAY". We are asked to believe that the words of Psalm 2 :7, "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee", do not refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, but to David, in spite of the fact that Acts 13:33 applies this prophecy to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, coupling it with "another Psalm" which says, "Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" and immediately goes on to deny that this can apply to David. How is it that an inspired apostle can say one thing and an uninspired teacher, however godly and however earnest, can say another? We are at liberty to ask, but it is God alone who will give the answer. Moreover, and more wonderful still, how is it that anyone, with an eye to the integrity of the Word can let such exposition go by without protest! We cannot.
Peter goes out of his way to assure us that David spoke of Christ, and knew that God "would raise up Christ to sit on his throne". A system of teaching that denies that the Lord's Anointed is the Christ (Psa. 2:2), that denies that the begotten Son of Psalp12:7 is the Christ, that denies that "the Messiah" of Daniel 9:25,26 is the Christ, is surely suspect, and if the Lord's own people do not make some protest, then truth is dying and its defenders asleep.
For the moment we do not say that Isaiah eleven when "the lion shall eat straw like an ox" is or is not a prophecy of the Millennium, that can wait, but one verse in that chapter demands attention.
First, some codices read ariz
"the oppressor" for erez "the earth", and The
Companion Bible throws the passage into an introversion thus:
Who is this "oppressor" or "lawless one"? Is there any other reference that would link Isaiah eleven with Revelation nineteen? First we note that 2 Thessalonians 2:2 should read "the day of the Lord" according to the Revised Text, and this brings the passage into the same period that spans the Apocalypse (Rev. 1:10, "I became in spirit in the Lord's Day", i.e. the future Day of he Lord). That day will be prefaced by the rise of the Man of Sin and in verse 8 we read:
In Revelation 19:17 the application of the "rod of iron" seen in the "supper of the great God", and then we read of the Beast and with him the False Prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the Beast. Mark the words, "he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast" and compare them with "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:10-12). The Lord "in flaming fire" will take vengeance upon such is revealed in 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
Another of the items that constitute the "context of the Millennium"
is the reference in Revelation 20:4 to the martyrs of the period who sit
upon thrones and live and reign With Christ a thousand years. The references
to these "overcomers" constitute an unbroken chain, linking the record
of the book as one.
(6) THE OVERCOMER
Nikao "to overcome"
Here we have a distinct link with Revelations 22:2.
Here is a definite link with the close of Revelation twenty.
This links us with Revelation 19:12, "He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself".
Those thus addressed were to "hold fast till I come" and there is no possible interval (let alone a kingdom lasting centuries), indicated between the time when this overcomer is enduring, and the time of his reward, namely in the Millennium. This passage obviously links up with Revelation 19:15.
Again an obvious link with Revelation 20:15.
Here the link with the heavenly Jerusalem of Revelation 19:7-9 and 21:2 is apparent.
This points to the Millennial thrones of Revelation 20:4.
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things (or these things)" (Rev. 21:7),
which takes us to the same Millennial day and city.
This chapter brings before us four beasts, the first like a lion, the second like a bear, the third like a leopard, and the fourth "dreadful and terrible" with a "mouth speaking great things" (Dan. 7:1-8). This fourth beast appears at the time of the end in Revelation 13:1,2. It is composed of the three first named in Daniel seven. It is like a "leopard", it had feet like a "bear" , it had the mouth of a "lion" and it had a "mouth speaking great things" (Rev. 13:5) stoma laloun megala in both LXX and Greek N.T. In Daniel 7:13 the Son of Man is seen coming upon the clouds of heaven, identical words being used in Matthew 24:30.
The time of this Coming is indissolubly linked with Daniel 9:27 as Matthew 24:15 will show:
and the reference to tribes of the earth mourning in Matthew 24:30 is
a reference back to Zechariah 12:10-14.
(7) SHALL WE SUBSTITUTE "GOVERNMENT" FOR
There are different forms of government in the world today, ranging from a monarchy down through a republic and the Soviet conception, to the local government of a village council. Such a word cannot and does not represent the Greek word basileia. This word, in classical Greek means, according to Liddle and Scott, "a kingdom, dominion, hereditary monarchy, a diadem, and as a form of address, majesty". Any appeal to the pagan use of the word but substantiates the claim, that the only form of government that prophecy foreshadows is "a kingdom, dominion, associated with hereditary monarchy, a diadem and majesty" which terms are foreign to any other form of government, save one, that of a king. God's answer to the anarchy of the last days is to announce:
Christ, as King, is to sit upon a throne; the word government is not sufficient for this idea. The U.S.A. has a "government",but the President has neither crown, throne nor sceptre. The Son of God is to wear a crown, wield a sceptre and have dominion from sea to sea. As King He is the Anointed, of whom David is the type.
He is also to "reign", a term inapplicable to any form of government other than the monarchical. We cannot stand by and hold our peace while the Lord is robbed of His crown rights, or of His place, as He is when it is suggested that Psalm two cannot refer to Christ, because it reads "against the Lord, and against His Anointed" (tou Christou autou LXX). As we have seen, the same argument would dethrone the Son of God in Revelation 11:15 where we read "the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ" (tou Christou autou), identical language. Again, to suggest that because in many passages of the O.T. the "Anointed" refers to Aaron, David, Elijah and others, the Saviour Himself cannot be intended in Psalm two or in Daniel nine is unwarranted.
The "Messiah" was on the lips of the common people, as can be seen in John 1:20,41; 4:29 as well as in use by inspired speakers like Peter (Matt. 16:16) or of educated men like a High Priest (Matt. 26:63). The Church of the One Body can be in a kingdom without confusion, as sure1y as a "corporation" can be in the kingdom of Great Britain without confusion.
The phraseology of the Apocalypse is much like that of the O.T. and noticeably in the use of the conjunction "and". Thus the book of Exodus commences with the word "now" in the A.V. The Hebrew word is vav which is generally translated "and". A modern writer wou1d not, as a rule, commence a book with "and" but Moses does, in order that no break shall be made between the record of Genesis and Exodus. Leviticus opens with the word "and"-so does Numbers.
So in the book of Revelation there is an interlocking of the narrative by the continuous use of the conjunction "and" (Rev. 5:1, 6:1, 7:1, 8:1) and so on up to chapter twenty-two. There can be no appreciable break between Revelation nineteen and twenty, certainly not one of 500 years.
What can we say of the theory that has been advanced of a "Pre-Millennial kingdom" that shall last about 500 years? What we have to say may matter littte, but what saith the Scripture is the responsible quest of every believer.
We cannot sit back and see a beloved and respected brother, who has valiantly stood for the principle of Right Division and its consequences for so many years, do harm to his testimony without uttering a word of protest. We implore all who read this article to "search and see", to re-examine the materials set forth by any and every God-fearing commentator, and to be prepared to lose even their greatest friend, rather than be found wanting in that day.
We would echo the comment of Dr. Bullinger in another context, when he said, "0 that you would make a chart of it".
In Daniel two we have Gentile dominion stretching to the moment of impact of the stone cut out without hands. Can anyone see how it is possible to set out that vision and introduce into verse 44 an interval of 500 years? If there be a Pre- Millennial kingdom of that duration what is the explanation for its complete absence in Daniel 2:44, Daniel 7:1-14 or Revelation nineteen and twenty?