Sequential Approach To The Study Of Revelation
Believers have erred in interpreting the book of Revelation because they assume everything in it is symbolic and therefore requires to be allegorized. This is not true-Revelation is a true oracle of history which follows each other in its chronology of sequence. So chapter one is followed by two until we reach 22. Evidence for this is provided by the Bible itself. By studying Revelation, we have considerable insight into the time, purpose and meaning of the rapture.
A. Preamble (1-4):
1. Son of Man: (1) Christ revealed Himself to John as the Son of Man (Eze. 1-39); Dan 3:25). A brief description of His second coming is made ‘Look, he is coming with the clouds’ v.7. Just as the His Father declared through the prophet ‘I am the first and the last’ (Is. 44:6) the Son of Man also declared of Himself ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ (v8). He held several stars (angels of the seven churches v20), and has a sword coming from His mouth – The Word of God (Heb. 4:!2) According to Zechariah who first saw golden lamp stand, they represent the Spirit of God – Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit “says the Lord” (Zec. 4:6).
2. 7 Churches of Asia (2-3): It seems that the seven churches of Asia represent symbolic doublets with seven ages of the Church of Christ beginning from days of persecution (AD 30 –100) to the present age which is the Laodicean age of Luke warmness. (3:17).
3. Throne of God (4): This has been earlier shown to Ezekiel (1). The 4 creatures, we learn from Ezekiel are cherubs. The 24 elders are however exalted human beings. The rainbow is a sign of the Son of Man as was shown to Ezekiel (1:28) Note the throne contains seven Spirit of God for God is a Spirit reminding us of ‘No one has seen God but the only begotten Son… has made him known’ (Jn. 1:18)
4. The Lamb of God (5): To fulfil the saying that He is the least in the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 11:11), He is shown as a little lamb but nevertheless possessing the seven Spirits of God – 7 representing the perfect number of unity (i.e. 1) and the Trinity. Jesus is God. He alone was worthy to open the Book with seven seals – the divine seals of the end of times.
B. Future ‘History’ (6-11):
1. Early seals & Antichrist: When the lamb begins to break the seals the road of history start to point towards the end of times and the problems that will precede the great tribulation. Christ said ‘You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but the end is still to come… There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are beginning of birth pains (great tribulation) (Matt. 24:6-8). Paul also emphasizes ‘Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way for that day will not come until rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thes. 2:3). This Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18) is the incarnation of Satan just as Christ is for God. All through history he has incarnated many times to deceive and destroy (Jn. 10:10). First as serpent in the Garden (Gen. 3:1), next as type (or forerunner) in King of Tyre (Eze 28:12), King of Babylon (Is. 14:14), Antiochus Epiphanes King of Syria (B.C. 175-164) in Daniel (Dan. 8:9-12), Papacy from AD 538-1798 (Dan. 7:24) as Satan who will reveal himself to rule the earth and finally set himself up in God’s temple proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thes. 2:4). This is to imitate the final coming of our Lord and His millennial reign on earth (Dan. 7, Zech. 14, Is. 11). What will happen with the coming Satan (Dragon Beast, Antichrist, Man of lawlessness etc) will be symbolic doublets of what had happened before with the Kings mentioned earlier, most especially with Antiochus Epiphanes as revealed by Daniel ‘It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifices from him (Dan. 8:11). Now when the prince begins to break the early seals, the Antichrist will be let loose on earth as a forerunner of Satan. Firstly he will reveal himself as a master in politicking thus pretending to be a man of peace. He will then obtain for himself the mightiest kingdom on earth at the time, from where he will rule the nations through a sort of UNO. Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest’ (6:2). The fact that he has no arrow but only bow shows he will obtain the crown without bloodshed. But at the break of the second seal, his dubious peace disappears and war begins ‘To him was given a large sword’ which means he begins to kill many. The 3rd seal leads to famine while the fourth leads to massive death through atomic bombs destroying large parts of the earth and releasing wild beasts because the forests have been denuded. The 5th seal leads to the recognition of saints who have died because of the word of God (6:9) it is because of them that the great tribulation was to be unleashed on earth – but their cry was answered by the Sovereign Lord. The dreadful Day of the Lord of the prophets begin here (see Is. 13:13; 24:19); Joel 2:10, 31; Zeph. 1:14; Mal. 4:1, Matt 24:29). Darkness is seen as Amos points out ‘Why do you long for the day of Lord? That day would be darkness, not light (Amos 5:18).
2. Rapture (6-7): The Book of Revelation tells us clearly when the rapture will be. As soon as the sun turns black and earthquakes are felt all over the place, the Sovereign Lord will send His four angels to seal His elect and gather them from the four corners (Matt. 24:31). ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God (7:3). The number from Israel who believes in Christ would be 144,000 while the numbers from other nations of the world are a ‘great multitude’ (7:9). These are they who have come out of the great tribulation. (7:14). The rapture is billed as the very first event of the great tribulation
3. Great Tribulation (7-11): The Lord is angry with all nations … He will totally destroy them…All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll (Is. 34:2-4). This is similar to ‘The sky receded like a scroll’ (6:14). The great tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) and it is likened to woman (Israel) in labour pains (Matt. 24:8, Is. 13:8; Micah 5:3). This is symbolized in 12. With the 6th and 7th seals removed, destruction falls in great fury over humans who are mainly unbelievers but some noting the rapture believed and became converted. Seven angels are given trumpets to sound and cause more tribulations upon the earth (8:11).
C. Israel (11-18)
At this stage, we are given a glimpse of what is happening in the Holy land. The Temple would have been rebuilt by now and Israel would initially be at peace with the Antichrist who would sign a peace agreement of 7 years with her (Dan. 9:27). In the middle of the agreement (3½ years), the antichrist would break his covenant and attack Israel with all his might. I will gather the nations of Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured (Zech. 14:2). At this point God would use the opportunity to send his witnesses to the earth to preach repentance (11, 14). The Gentiles would plunder Jerusalem for 3½ years before the Lord would scatter them (11:2, Zech 14:31). Then the woman in labour pains (Israel) would deliver symbolically suggesting the end of Israel’s tribulations (12). After this the Beast (antichrist) will be made manifest as Daniel saw it (Dan. 7:7) with his mark 666 and his unholy trinity – 1. False Christ (13:15) who would be the religious leader urging every one to worship the Beast (No.2) who has installed himself in Temple of Jerusalem to be worshipped (2 Thes. 2:4). The third is the Dragon (12). All exercise the same power. The East will then fight against Jerusalem with atomic weapons (16) only to be destroyed at Armageddon (16, Joel 3:9, Is. 13:9). Babylon referred to in 17 is Rome (Dan. 2:31) and finally in 18 Rome would be completely destroyed following Armageddon (Is. 21:9, Jer. 51:7; Zech. 2:7) together with the trinity of Beast (Satan).
D. End (19-22)
A marriage banquet would be prepared for the saints by Our Lord in heaven prior to His second coming (19). Our Lord would now descend, with the saints this time all eyes shall see Him and mourn (Rev. 1:7). Israel would also ‘Look on me (our Lord) the one they pierced and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child (Zech. 21:1).
Our Lord will then reign on earth, after subduing all his enemies, for 1000 years (20) with His saints and the remnants of Israel (Rome 11:26). If you refuse God’s salvation now, you miss the rapture of the saints, face tribulation of the Beast and perish. The rapture is any minute from now!
If we decide to examine our eschatology literally then we must accept that there would be a thousand years of reign of Christ on earth (either bodily or otherwise) because of Rev 20:1-4. Anyone who denies this must be an allegorist. Since the reign is said to come after great tribulation, it must be premillennial and not postmillennial. But covenant theologians have been criticized for making the millennium just an addendum to their system rather than an integral part of it (whatever that means).
The difference between the dispensational and non-dispensational views of premillennialism is not in the fact of the coming millennial kingdom (for both include it in their systems) but in the integration of the kingdom into their overall systems. The doctrine of the millennial kingdom is for the dispensationalist an integral part of his entire scheme and interpretation of many Biblical passages. For the non-dispensationalist the millennial kingdom is more like an addendum to his system.
What this probably means is simple enough to understand. While dispensationalists harmonize the millennium with the Jewish hope of Davidic kingdom (or covenant) (2 Sam 7:5-16; Is 9:6-7, Jer 23:5-6; 30:8-9; 33:14-17, 20, 21; 37:24-25; Dan 7:13-14; Hos 3:4-5; Amos 9:11; Zech 14:4-9.) together with what others would call Palestine covenant by which is meant the return to use of Palestine for ever and of course the return to that region of the earth by the Jews (Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7-8; Deut 30:1-10; Is 11:11-12; 14:1-3; Jer 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 30:10-11; Eze 11:17-21), covenant theologians allegorize the covenants paradoxically. Take for example the prophecies on the new covenant which the covenant theologian and the dispensationalists agree with in Jer 31:31-33. Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, fine covenant theologians say of this passage which was mentioned in Heb 8:8-12 as having been fulfilled today in the church.
Jeremiah prophesied that God would make a new covenant with Israel and Judah, and again we expect only a literal fulfillment from the context (Jer 31:31-34).Now nothing in subsequent OT history fulfils this prophecy, so we might be tempted to expect its fulfillment in the last days. But Hebrews rightly sees the new covenant fulfilled in the Church and sealed by Jesus’ atoning death.
Klein and his colleague continue
While some interpreters tend to agree with us, they argue that prophecies like Amos 9 (11-12) and Jer 31 still have a future literal fulfillment involving the nation of Israel. Though Rom 11 admits some future place for Israel in God’s plan, we do not believe the Bible supports this literal view. First, we contend that the NT assumes that such prophecies have already achieved literal fulfillment through Christ and the Church. It leaves no room to anticipate a second, late fulfillment.
But the argument of these fine gentlemen cannot be acceptable. They admit the importance of Rom 11 and in the same vein reject what they admit. If a prophecy has already had a literal fulfillment, does it mean it cannot have a later fulfillment? The finest example of this sort of thing is personal and realized eschatologies. The kingdom is in you and will still come (Lk 17:21). There are others which some prophetic students will call “law of double reference” or symbolic doublets in which two distinct events are being prophesied, one for the immediate future and the other for the distant future Zech 6:12
Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.
Is this text actually referring to Zechariah or it has a later meaning in Christ? Most commentators will agree it has double meaning. The scripture is full of such prophetic materials with double meaning (Is 8:3;14:4-27 Eze 28;11-19 etc).
If this is the case, why not Jer 31:31 also? Supposing it had partial fulfillment after the Easter event and will be fully realized at the millennium? What do you make of this text
I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in forest in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. Eze 34:25.
This prophecy cannot be said to have been fulfilled literally. Firstly, there are still wild beasts all over the place. The holy hill (Mount Zion) has not been blessed for it is still firmly in the hands of the gentiles. It cannot be another covenant aside from the “new”. What this passage teaches us is that although the “new” covenant has been inaugurated, it is still to be fully realized in the future and that future is probably the millennium
.We shall end this section by appealing to Charles Hodge, the apostle of inductive method of systematic theology. What we have with covenant theology is obviously partial induction of Biblical materials and data. When all are harmonized. i.e. the OT promise of the prophets to Israel, with the NT (Revelation) to the Christians, we see a beautiful harmonious, coherent, systematic, logical and biblical whole which cannot be faulted easily. It was this system that John Darby developed. Charles Hodge, called a covenant theologian, was careful in his induction of biblical data on prophecies as a biblical scientist. He predicated the use of literal interpretation of prophecy concerning Israel on the return of Israel and restoration of Palestine, a feat which was considered impossible in his own time (1797-1878). 43 years after Hodge died, the State of Israel was born thus vindicating the literal interpretation of Scripture. He himself quoted extensively a certain popular literal prophetic student who claimed all these will happen
‘Luthardt says a man must “break” the Scriptures who denies such restoration (of Israel) To him, it is certain and undeniable that the Jews are to be brought back to their own land and reestablished as a nation.’
Premillenial school holds the view that Christ will return at His own appointed time (kairos) to initiate his kingdom, which will literally last for a thousand years as mentioned by John under the inspiration of Christ Himself (Rev.20:6). This view however does not preclude accommodation of already inaugurated eschatology of the kingdom of God which may have begun partially in the hearts of the believer (Mt.12:28). Postmellenial school holds that the 1000 years is figurative of an indefinite period of peace on earth preceding the coming of Christ when the whole world will be receptive to the gospel and when consequent upon this, there would be world peace. This prospect of world peace together with universal gospel of Christ have alluded this planet and therefore post-millennial scholars have dwindled in number since the outbreak of the First world war in this century.
Premillennial school is now the accepted school amongst most Biblical scholars although they have two distinct subclasses. The premillenarians interpret the passages in the book of Revelation regarding the physical coming of Christ on earth to institute a reign on earth for 1000 years literally. So according to this school, at the end of time (or end time), Christ will come to earth to rule the whole purified world. This is exactly what the book of Revelation says and this had been previously developed by the Jews from their literature-- even before John furnished his own information as contained in his Apocalypse (i.e. Book of Revelation). According to Pache ‘The teaching of the Old Testament concerning the millennium is so complete that the Jews in the Talmud succeeded in developing it entirely themselves, without possessing the gifts furnished by the New Testament later. They had indeed affirmed before the Apocalypse that the messianic kingdom would last ‘one thousand years.’ Even then, there still exists some bizzarre understanding of what the millennium entails
There are the historical premellinarians who ‘stick to the “natural” reading of Revelation 20:1-6, according to which Christ’s second coming precedes his thousand-year reign.’ They also say that ‘the Church is the inheritor of the millennial promises (of the Bible), and that it is inappropriate to apply them to the historic Israel, except in a secondary sense.’ The first assertion may be correct but the second cannot be completely true. According to Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard considered to be great Bible interpreters of the evangelical tradition, ‘two passages which literally refer to Jews (Amos 9:11-12 and Jer.31:31-34) have been said to be reference to the new body of believers by New Testament writers “e.g. Amos 9 in Acts 15:16 and Jer.31 in Heb.8:8-12)” we contend that the NT assumes that such prophecies have already achieved literal fulfilment through Christ and the Church. It leaves no reason to anticipate a second, later fulfilment’65. Yet the same authors, in providing rules for prophetic hermeneutics aver ‘We must add a second characteristic of prophecy: it may have two fulfilments, one near the prophet’s lifetime and one long past it’ and ‘The prophets understood that history had two major periods’ the present age and the age to come ‘although they did not always make a hard-and-fast distinction between the two’65. There are some distinct examples in Old Testament canon
Take silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Here is the man whose name is the Branch” (Zech.6:12).
Zechariah could not have been referring to Joshua as the “Branch”- this is Jesus Christ. But that prophecy which continued is probably saying ‘It is he who will build the Temple (516 B.C. to 70 A.D.) and will be fully fulfilled and terminally in Jesus Christ’ (Zech.14:20).
This leads us to the dispensational premillenarian view. Bray says ‘They believe that the destinies of Israel and the Church are separate, because each belongs to a different dispensation.’ And rightly too! We cannot deny the insistence of the OT (Old Testament) prophets speaking authoritatively on the end times of the Jews and the covenant of Abraham and David. John was commissioned to explain to the early Church and indeed the rest of the body of Christ through the ages how we fit into this scheme of things ‘ the original promise to the Jews’. If not so what do we make of this Pauline “heterodox”
And again, Isaiah says ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ (Is. 11:1 quoted by Paul in Rom. 15:12).
‘I ask then: Did God reject His people (they are still His people)? By no means Israel has experienced hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.’ (Rom. 11:1, 25).
It is wrong to believe that Israel has been rejected for the Church because the preceding text says clearly that they are two distinct groups with two distinct dispensations as the conjunction “until” fully demonstrates. This important theme on hermeneutic bias is noteworthy. Those who make the rules break the rules!
Also we have the ammillennial school which believes that the account in the Revelation of 1000 years is apocalyptic and therefore should not be taken literally. The group has a strong argument based on the features of apocalyptic genre in which numbers are used as symbols and not reality (e.g. Seven spirits of God in Rev 5:6 cannot mean that God has seven spirits; they only refer to unity of 7, which is a symbol of completeness etc).
Another very important eschatological theme which is traceable to John Darby is the rapture. Many have held that this doctrine was never in the church. But this can be easily proven wrong by the examination of the Apocalypse of Elijah which deals with this problem in a very simple manner, appealing to Rev 7. The major failure of dispensationalists who follow the teaching of Darby in this regard is that they fail to provide a meaningful passage in the Revelation which can be said to be the rapture. Rev 4:1 which is quoted by many dispensationalists such as Darby, Scofied, Chafer Walvoord and Dake is not convincing to those who wish to be persuaded. Only Walvoord does not emphasize Rev 4:1 but he seems to call attention to multiple raptures whose scriptural basis is not easy to see.
Paul called attention to the rapture doctrine; apparently to aid the understanding of a confused system of eschatology even at the apostolic era. Jesus had mentioned to His disciples He was going to come for them (alone) as is recorded in Jn 14:1-4.
In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. Jn 14:2-4.
Hence the disciples were eagerly expecting Christ to come for them. Paul then explained his own revelation in a simple language for all to understand. Hear him
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainty not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thes 4:14-17.
This text is simple enough. It explains the above one and functions similarly
That you also may be where I am. Jn 14:4
So we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thes 4:17.
The two texts are parallels.
Covenant theologians argue against these passages saying they do not provide enough proof, since there are no other passages to support them in the scriptures. The usual process of proof is being applied wrongly here. A text that is clear, even if it is the only one, does not need other texts to authenticate it. It is only when a passage is not clear, that you look for other clearer passages to explain it (not vice versa). Hear Hodge
It is a sound rule in the interpretation of Scriptures that obscure passage should be so explained as to make them agree with those that are plain. It is unreasonable to make the symbolic and figurative language of prophecy and poetry the rule by which to explain the simple didactic prose language of the Bible.
Summary Of Events Of Rapture In Revelation
· Great tribulation begins at the breaking of the first seal (5:1) and the antichrist appears. This tribulation is for Christians only. And it will last for a period half of about the mid-seventh year of Daniel (Dan 9: 20-27) and will be terminated at the 7th seal rapture
· Wrath of God is the same as the DOL and it begins immediately the 6th seal is broken. This wrath has two peaks. One is at the point of breaking the seal at it is to punish the antichrist and all those who persecuted the church. Only shortly after then the church will rapture at the 7th seal.
· Great tribulation for Israel begins at the mid-week (Rev 12) with the birth of the child of the Woman. The release of the Dragon to earth symbolises this tribulation. The tribulation for Israel will halt after Armageddon when they will see their Messiah and mourn (Zech 12:10).
· The Antichrist transforms himself to Beast at the mid-week and continues his persecution, this time of Israel after entering the temple to desecrate it as Antiochus Ephiphanes (type of antichrist) did in 168 B.C.
Dispensationalism & Covenant Theology
The historical premillennial school was introduced by George Eldon Ladd in order to provide irenic synthesis of covenant and dispensationalist positions regarding the understanding of the Book of Revelation. While dispensationalists are all agreed that the only interpretive framework for understanding Revelation stands in the futuristic school which suggests that Rev 4-22 are still for the future, covenant theologians, following the leading of Martin Luther believe in the historicist school which says that the story of Revelation have (and is still) taken place in history so that at the end of history there would be the coming of Christ who will reign for a long period of time (a thousand years is symbolic of long period) and then usher in the eternal state after judgment. This school does not believe in the tribulation which premillennial dispensationalist say will take place before the parousia of Christ and do not hold any doctrine of rapture. Since Ladd’s exposition, several young theologians have followed this school and it has therefore become very popular in academic conservative circles. Liberal theologians follow the preterist school of understanding the Revelation.
Ladd epitomizes the historical hermeneutic of the Revelation in the following pronouncement
If then John distinguishes between literal Israel, it would be possible for him to speak of the twelve tribes of Israel and be so doing intend to designate those who are true Jews- the Church. And he indicates his intention by listing the twelve tribes in form not identical with empirical “Israel.”
There are several problems with the above interpretation. How can John deliberately misrepresent the names of the tribe of Israel just to prove that he was not referring to literal Israel? Ladd has a big problem here. In an attempt to fit the text into his own presupposed mode, he provides explanation that cannot be understood by he himself. If John did not list the tribes in correct order, then there must be a simple reason for this. Perhaps, Dan, which he did not mention is not part of the 144,000. What is wrong with this simple explanation? After all, Dan had long been involved in idolatry and tribe was the very first to be taken into captivity since Danites lived (of their own free choice) at the border with Syria and Assyria (Judg 18:30ff). They had long been lost before the remaining tribes of Israel (during the campaign of Tiglath-Pileser III of 734-733 B.C.). Where are they now?- no one knows. Perhaps they are lost forever as a result of their initial idolatry which has allowed their irreversible miscegenation with other peoples.
Klein Blomberg and Hubbard agree that Rom 11 talks of preservation of Israel as an entity. The fact that Israel has been restored in this age is victory for literal prophetic interpretation. There is no single passage in the Bible which talks about Israel being disbanded into oblivion as a result of the church. God does not, make a covenant and break it by excusing Himself or transferring the covenant to other people who originally did not have that covenant. That is dishonesty. It is wrong to attribute to God what He does not do or put words into His mouth
Hear Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard again.
In our view, the Bible teaches that God’s plan was to create one people composed of Jews and Gentiles (cf. Isa 19:19-25; Eph 2). He chose the OT nation of Israel as the means to reach and eventually incorporate believers from all nations into his people. The NT clearly teaches that Christ’s coming fulfilled Israel’s national destiny. In addition, 1 Pet 2:9-10 assumes that the Church in this messianic era now constitutes the people of God (cf. Gal 6:16; Rom 2:28-29). According to Rom 11, God will graft future Israel, presently a discarded branch, back into his olive tree, presently the Church. In sum, we see no persuasive biblical reason to expect a future literal fulfillment of what the NT says has largely occurred, though with an additional spiritual dimension.
Objections to the above arguments are as follows
! The proof texts do not say what has been said they say. Eph 2 argues eloquently for the incorporation of the Gentiles into the assembly of the people of God. It does not in anyway say that the church has replaced Israel. In Nigeria, there over 200 ethnic groups, all maintaining an identity and a language, yet all are Nigerians, representing one country. Nigeria of course would be different from say a country like Britain which is a homogenous whole. All are British and even those who are immigrants by the second generation have become culturally British, together with their language. We in Nigeria can be called “fellow citizens.” If we were to admit another group of people into Nigeria who are equally to maintain their own identity but become part of the nation we can say of these new people
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s (Nigerian) people and members of God’s (Nigerian) household. Eph 2:19.
! The phrase “eventually incorporate believers from all nations into his people” cannot be substantiated by any passage from NT and is certainly at variance with many texts from the OT. Take for example
The Lord will have compassion on Jacob. Once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Aliens will join them and unite with the house of Jacob. Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And the house of Israel will possess the nations as menservants and maidservants in the Lord’s hand. They will make captive of their captors and rule over their oppressors. Is 14:1-4.
! What is the meaning of the above passage? If Israel is going to rule over the nations in the millennium which nations will it rule over? Those who are Christians and who have been united with Israel- are they also going to be ruled by Israel or rule others? This truth is very simple. We cannot take over the covenant which belongs to others. Did we make this covenant with God? We can only be permitted to take part in the covenant. And in this theme, all (covenant and dispensationalists theologians) are all agreed.
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gift and his call is irrevocable. Rom 1:29.
! This text is simple to understand. Israel is loved on account of the Patriarchal covenants for the gift of God is without repentance. How beautifully put? You cannot change the covenant of God; that is the plain meaning. It does not matter who is grafted and who is not for Israel’s graft has to do with the last everlasting kingdom which actually belongs originally to the Christians. This is a dispensationalist teaching. But the Palestinian covenant in which Israel will possess the nations on earth is for Palestine, and we are grafted into that promise. A proof text is in Hebrews 12:22-23.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to the thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
When Jesus started His work on earth He said just like John the Baptist before Him, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.’Mt 4:17. Kingdom of heaven is same as kingdom of God and it is not the millennial kingdom which concerns only Israel but the final kingdom which Israel rejected for the sake of the Gentiles. Hence Paul said to support Micah.
Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved. Rom 11:25.
Wherefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. Micah 5:3.
For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days. Hosea 3:4-5.
The implication of these passages are very obvious.1. Israel will be saved only when the full number of all Gentiles to be saved have come in. 2. Then all Israel will be saved; i.e. the remnants. 3. Israel is abandoned until the woman in labor gives birth (re-establishment of Temple worship- Rev 12). 4. Also, until the final regathering takes place, Israel will be abandoned. The passage in Hosea suggests that the beginning of Israel’s coming back to God coincides with the establishment of Temple worship IN THE Last Days (cf Rev 12).
In relation to the book of Revelation, it is clear that the dichotomy of Israel and church is made clearly. Such texts as Rev 7, 11:1-14; 12,14, 15;3, 16 all clearly refer to Jews and have clearly defined Jewish themes such as the sealing of the forehead of 144,000 representatives from Israel and not the church, measuring of temple (Christians do not have anything to do with any temple), birth of child referring to temple; singing of song of Moses (only Jews can sing the song of Moses); Christians sing the song of the Lamb instead for they do not know the song of Moses.
Other Differences Between Covenant & Dispensational Theologies: Minor Ones.
Scholars have identified some minor differences in the interpretation of certain biblical doctrines between covenant and dispensationalist theologies. These, to me, appear more like individual hermeneutic rather than a whole system of theology. But let us examine them.
Purpose Of God In Redemption.
Covenant theologians maintain that the purpose of human redemption is purely soteriological. According to dispensationalists, it is doxological, i.e. to glorify God Himself. ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’ Rev 4:11.
It is surprising that his should be an issue of polemic between the adherents of the two systems for both believe in the fact that grace is present at this Church age in more abundance than any other time. Grace is found in all dispensations for Noah found grace with God (Gen 6:8). But the words of John is very explicit
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Jn 1:17.
If John was not an Apostle, he would have been accused of being a dispensationalist by covenant theologians and vice versa. But then John was writing the way he understood it. Let us hear him very well. He did not say, the law was given to Adam or Abraham, or indeed Noah. Hence, no matter how neat the arrangement of covenant theology seems, it cannot explain everything before the advent of Jesus. Historically, some things happened before Moses was given the law. I believe, the technique of dispensation was to provide answer to these questions in a historical fashion. This leads us to the next question.
Ways Of Salvation
Covenant theologians charge that dispensationalist hold more than one way of salvation, insisting that only through Christ can there be salvation. But this may be true from soteriological consideration but is it true historically? Did people who lived before Christ know anything about Him? The answer of course is no! After the death of Jesus, the salvation they require was appropriated to them, but when they were alive, did they know about this? Again, the theologians on the two sides of the divide are saying virtually the same thing but in so different ways that they misunderstand each other.
The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ: the requirement for salvation in every age is faith; the object of faith in every age is God; the content of faith changes in the various dispensations. It is this last point, of course, which distinguishes dispensationalism from covenant theology, but it is not a point to which the charge of teaching two ways of salvation can be attached. It simply recognizes the obvious fact of progressive revelation.
Is the cross minimized in any of the systems? The charge is made directly against dispensationalism. Without listening to any dispensationalist, it is easy to argue that the cross is in no way minimized as a result of a historical survey of ways of reaching God since the time of Adam.
Kingdom Of God.
As mentioned earlier, the kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are synonymous and in no way suggest the millennial kingdom on earth. They refer to the final abode of the believer in Christ in heaven (or shall we say a modified form of the earth- Rev 22)
Postponement Of Millennial Kingdom
It is charged that dispensationalists preach a form of postponement of the kingdom of God suggesting something contrary to Lk 17:20-21.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say “Here it is”, or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.’
But Ryrie says of this
If one’s basic concept of the kingdom is a spiritual one, then the church can easily be assumed to be the form of the kingdom today. If Jesus preached and offered the Davidic kingdom, then...it was obviously postponed, for it simply has not been established according to the picture of the Old Testament promises.
I make an objection to the use of the word ‘postpone’. If God has carefully made His plans, then the issue of postponement does not come in. Postponement suggests He does not know what He is doing. But indeed, it is true, the Davidic kingdom has not been inaugurated, but the prototype of the kingdom of heaven has been inaugurated in the hearts of believers. It is a spiritual one.
Is the spiritual kingdom de-emphasized in any of the systems? The charge is that dispensationalism despiritualizes the kingdom of God by over emphasizing the physical aspect of that kingdom. I fail to see this. Firstly, there is no such thing as spiritual millennial kingdom; so when we talk of a spiritual kingdom, we refer to that final kingdom of heaven. It is this kingdom that is spiritual in the church today, i.e. in the hearts of believers. Since the two systems of theology believe in the final kingdom (everyone does, including amillennialists etc), then it does not seem to be correct that any system would de-emphasize its spiritual aspect. The truth of Jesus’ saying to the Pharisees in Lk 17:21 is that you cannot be part of that kingdom of the future, if you are not part of it now spiritually. Jesus made a similar charge to his disciples before he ascended to heaven when they requested to know about the Davidic (millennial) kingdom.
It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, an in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:7-8.
This text says all that needs to be said. Jesus is emphasizing the spirituality of the kingdom in the life time of the apostles. Their job would not be to wait for the kingdom, where they would receive their reward as governors etc. But they would still be governors in a spiritual sense. They would be witnesses of that kingdom inside them after they have received a great measure of the kingdom through the working of the Holy Spirit within them.
Therefore, when a dispensationalist says the kingdom is postponed, he is speaking of the Davidic kingdom, but he also affirms the continuing presence of the universal kingdom and the spiritual rule of God in individual hearts today.
Sermon On The Mount
The charges on the two sides of the divide give an impression that adherents do not seem to grasp the meaning and implications of the sermon on the mount. Jesus was providing the true laws which were revealed to Moses in a modified form because at the time ‘hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.’ Mt 19:8. Thus, in the true Platonic tradition, the laws were revealed to man in a modified form, whereas the actual laws were kept in heaven until such a fullness of time when they would be revealed for use on earth. That fullness of time is obviously the millennial rule for the laws had been use in Eden (Eze 36:35) and had to be postponed as a result of the fall of man.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.
It was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one. Heb 10:1; 9: 23-24.
These passages are some of the Platonic passages in the Bible for they teach that we have copies of what is real in heaven and our copies on earth are not real but forms just as is taught by Plato and Socrates.
Hence, Mosaic laws are shadows of things to come (Col 2:17) and those things will be used in New Eden as Isaiah said
From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow before me. Is 66:23.
It says all mankind and not just Jews will observe the New moon and Sabbath (both Jewish laws). No need for allegory; that is the literal meaning.
Sermon on the mount, represents the actual laws of creation of man, laws of the heart, or moral laws which were to be used in the garden but has been postponed to the millennium. These laws are difficult for man because they are contrary to his Adamic nature (see Paul’s groaning in Rom 7:7-25). But just like Paul said at the end of his groaning ‘Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ 7:25.
Only by appealing to Jesus Christ can the believer be able to live out these laws which are mandatory for success in a believer’s life no matter what the theologians on both sides of the divide say. What else should I say? Was it only Jesus who preached forgiveness to enemies or even practiced it? No! We have such philosophers as Bhudda, Plato, Socrates, etc who preached goodness as the only means to first-class living and who attempted to practice what they preached. So what is so special about the Sermon on the Mount that is difficult to reconcile with modern tradition? We need this sermon more today than ever before. And as Christians, we should be grateful to God that such was incorporated into our system of understanding since we have proved by modern science that stress (caused by those things condemned in the Sermon on the mount such as anger, aggression, irritability etc) is incompatible with long life and healthy living.
True, it is difficult to practice all because of the Adamic nature. But this does not mean it is impossible to try by appealing to Jesus as Paul suggested. The picture of gloom Ladd paints is not all together without its problems
Ladd, who also believes the Sermon is the standard of righteousness for this age, more than once inveighs against understanding the Sermon with ‘wooden literalness’. He cites as his proof the fact that even Jesus did not turn the other cheek (John 18:23); therefore, we need not understand these words with ‘wooden literalness.’ The obvious question that arises from such fudging or ‘adjusting’ of the text is, If you abandon literal interpretation, whose understanding of the ‘underlying meaning’ is correct? But if the laws of the Sermon are to be obeyed today they could not be taken literally, for, as Ladd points out, every businessman would go bankrupt giving to those who ask of Him. This is the dilemma every interpreter faces. If literal, it cannot be for today; if for today, it cannot be literal. And this is not a dilemma that faces only dispensationalists.
There are problems with the above interpretations of both dispensationalists and covenant theologians. Firstly, the dispensationalist is now complaining about literal interpretation- his whole framework of interpretation. Secondly, the covenant theologian is saying that a law revealed by Jesus Himself is not workable in this present world. I disagree with both views. A Christian business man, in compliance with the directive of the sermon on the Mount in Mt 5:42. -that you should lend to those who ask, if they are genuinely in need, not for business purposes. Again, here in lies the test of hermeneutics. It is not the literal meaning that is the problem here, it is proper exegesis. A man who has enough to eat and wants money for business is different from a man who wants to borrow to eat. Do not refuse the one who wishes to borrow to eat! Examine the context. It is referring to laws of Moses. Aside from the above, it is wrong to think that NT allows Christians to give to any body. Rather it is to be done with caution- Do not throw your pearls to pig (Mt 7:6) in the same sermon on the mount calls for caution, which was exercised quite easily in the early church from the account of the Didache
But let us examine this one
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Mt 5:29.
How many people have been caused to sin by their eyes? Virtually everybody. Yet how many have gouged their own eyes out. Indeed, if any one does so, we would probably consider him insane. He could simply carry his eyes away from the offensive object in order not to sin. This text can be interpreted symbolically and it really lends itself to that kind of treatment. It is not necessary to be a scholar first to see its symbolic meaning for even a blind man can be capable of lust. But the one which talks of lending is pure and simply literal!
Why we may say that no matter how we try, it is impossible to keep everything in the Sermon, it is not to say that we are to postpone it because of its inability to be compatible with this age. No! The purpose of the Sermon is to show us how futile the human abilities are to keep the laws of God and at the same time say that these laws, when kept are not only physically able to provide health, but also happiness and spiritual blessing. A man who can practice them can never have enemies, cannot get heart attack, or atherosclerosis, anxiety, peptic ulcers or any other psychosomatic diseases. If we are not told, we would never know.
An attempt will be made in this section to provide a framework for the understanding of the major systems presented in this chapter not by appealing to Hegelian synthesis by which is meant the interest in providing a synthesis by blending thesis with antithesis. Rather, we shall proceed by examining inducted data from the Scriptures to determine the validity of the claims on both sides of the divide.
The Systems As Theologies:
We had mentioned earlier that the systems of covenant and dispensationalists are no theologies at all. They are interpretive frameworks by which theologies are examined. Thus eschatology is a theology. But dispensationalism has a way of looking at this subject that is radically different from the way it is examined by covenant theologians.
The two systems are hermeneutic. Gaebelein says
As one for whom dispensationalism is not a theology but rather a method of interpretation helpful in grasping the progress of revelation in the Bible, I do not find myself in agreement with every aspect of Dr Ryrie’s presentation.
It simply goes thus. The covenant theologians are allegorists when it comes to prophecy and sometimes follow its slippery slope and spiritualize lots of texts (including the Sermon on the Mount). The dispensationalists, on the other hand, are literalists. They interpret everything in the Bible literally, excepting obvious symbols. They too can be carried away with a slippery slope of literalism and may then become what Ryrie calls ultradispensationalists.
It is impossible however, to harmonize the system of hermeneutic of covenanters with scientific reason. Once a rule is made, it must apply across board. If you say literalness is the common sense meaning of any text, and any other sense is nonsense, then you mean so. There is no reason whatsoever to change that position of any particular type of genre or literary form. “For unto us a child is born” must mean just that. It cannot, for example, mean that the child signifies earth etc. I believe the covenanters are in error in their hermeneutics. If hermeneutics must be a science, then it must be consistent.
The two systems as science relate to their ability to deal with inducted data from Bible. Although, the two systems are guilty of partial induction of Biblical data, I think it is only fair to say that their science in relation to induction is a good beginning.
They are of course systems as they remain complex and are struggling with a need to provide an integral whole of their complexity. In this regard, they can be called a system as the same time as we label them hermeneutic.
The two systems attempt to look at the history of mankind in relation to theology. Thus, dispensationalism is more complex in its system of history while covenant system looks more at the salvation history of man.
None of the systems can be addressed as heresy for each one has enough data in the Bible for support. The differences in the systems come from the differing perspectives of examination by the theologians involved in developing such systems. But there are heretical tendencies from those who claim to be members of one group or another. Thus we have the so called ultradispensationalists who claim the Church did not start at Pentecost but with Paul in Acts 28 or after.
None of the systems are divisive. Divisiveness usually comes from reactionary behavior from the opposite side. With little tolerance and integration, the systems can be made to harmonize.
The two systems have their side effects, which are the problems they generate on human geography. For example, anti-semitic bias is commoner with covenanters much more than dispensationalists who respect Jews knowing they would soon be partakers of the same body if the millennial kingdom comes now. The covenanter sees the Jews are menaces. This method of examination was common with the reformers.
Both sides are reactionary but we dare to say the reaction is more from covenanters than dispensationalists. The reactionary behavior of exegetes have led to the problem of the divide till today. Here are some sample reactions.
Indeed the time is fully ripe for a thorough examination and frank exposure of this new and subtle form of modernism that has been spreading itself among those who have adopted the name ‘fundamentalists.’ For evangelical Christianity must purge itself of this leaven of dispensationalism ere it can display its former power and exert its former influence.
(Covenant theology) failed to seize the true idea of development and by an artificial system of typology, and allegorizing interpretation, sought to read back practically the whole of the New testament into the Old. But its most obvious defect was that, in using the idea of the covenant as an exhaustive category, and attempting to force into it the whole material of theology, it created an artificial scheme which could only repel minds desirous of simple and natural notions.
In conclusion it can be said that the two systems are compatible depending on the perspective one is examining. Thus in pure soteriology, covenant system is highly justifiable. In historical theology, it is not very appropriate; dispensationalism is best. In eschatology, covenant system is hopelessly inappropriate. It is impossible, just based on the harmony of Scripture, to say that dispensational eschatology is not coherent. Even before the appreciation of apocalyptic literature, this system had produced a means of understanding biblical data based purely on the inductive method. It is difficult to fault the system. Perhaps the covenanters should come off their high horses and examine the hermeneutic of the dispensational eschatology. More importantly, we would like to see the disappearance of these labels for they mean nothing and would contribute nothing to the scholarly understanding of biblical data except to provide confusion as Lillback clearly mentioned.
In examining the rationale of dispensationalism, we looked at apocalyptic literature. Bray says of this literature in the understanding of modern biblical scholarship
One of the astonishing results of twentieth-century biblical study has been the scholarly discovery of apocalyptic as a way of thinking characteristic of Judaism in New Testament times. Perhaps there is no better single instance of how the liberal consensus of the 1800s has been almost completely overturned. This change of direction was already foreshadowed in the work of J. Weiss and A. Schweitzer, who portrayed the historical Jesus as an eschatological prophet whose message would be completely incomprehensible to most people today. Since that time, the rediscovery and analysis of other apocalyptic texts from the ancient world has helped scholars put the canonical Apocalypse in a literary and historical context which has greatly aided the whole course of interpretation. Not everyone would want to go as far as E. Kasemann (1960), who declared that apocalyptic was the mother of all Christian theology. But this view of the centrality of apocalyptic for our understanding of the mentality of the early church is much more common now than it once was, and is largely the fruit of a form-critical analysis of recent textual discoveries and research. Apocalyptic has now been recognized as a genre in its own right. This means that there are certain literary rules to which it conforms. Behind the form lies the message of apocalypticism, which is greater than the content of the actual apocalypses.
Can Dispensationalism Survive?
I doubt it. Dispensationalism was the hermeneutic of the 20th century and it is spent. It was fueled by a few prophetic students who at the turn of the century predicted the ingathering of the Jews. They were correct; the Jews were gathered at the middle of that century. The new scholars know nothing of these Jews and their ingathering and could not just be bothered. They are scientist, or so they think and they think antisupernatural. This is the effect of modernism, (or shall we say post-modernism). If it must survive, then it probably will with its new variety called progressive dispensationalism. Hear one of these modern covenant theologians
Gone were the days of classic dispensational hegemony. This, progressive dispensationalism was asserting itself in the marketplace of ideas, and beginning to shake up the old-line dispensational establishment. And orthodox preterism was beginning both to gain a hearing and to be granted a seat at the table. No longer was the decked stacked against it. The newer form of dispensationalism is much more theologically astute than the naïve sensationalism of its predecessor. It represents a giant step forward in theological discussion, making huge concessions to covenantal theology. In addition, its theologians are of much greater competence, men who are making serious contributions to evangelicalism in a wide range of theological fields.
What is the hermeneutic of this new dispensationalism? Again Genry answers
Progressive dispensationalism is clearly not your father’s dispensationalism (nor your favorite televangelist’s). Radical changes distinguishing it from its antiquated forbears include
(1) A rejection of simplistic literalism in hermeneutics. Progressive dispensationalists pretty much adopt a genuine grammatical-historical-theological theory of interpretation - like the rest of the evangelical world.
(2) A revision of the Israel-church distinction, allowing that Israel and the church are two peoples that would even continue into eternity; revised dispensationalism maintained that distinction only in terms of the earthly outworking of redemption.
A breaking down of the walls of separation between the dispensations. Their dispensations are not discrete, unmixed time frames, but rather evolving stages of historical development. Contained within any particular dispensation are the seeds of the next dispensation so that the dispensations gradually progress (hence the name). This allows that Christ is now enthroned as king - in anticipation of His coming earthly-millennial rule.’
8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
Andersen F.I. 2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch (Late First Century A.D.) With appendix: 2 Enoch in Merilo Pravednoe. In: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vol. 1. James H. Charlesworth ed. New York: Doubleday, 1982, pp. 91-222.
Aune, D.E. The New Testament in its Literary Environment. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987.
Aune, D.E. 'Apocalyptism' In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. G. Hewthorne R.P. Martin and D. G. Reid eds. Leicester: IVP. 1993, pp. 25-35.
Barker Kenneth L. and Walker Larry L. Zechariah. NIV Study Bible. Kenneth L. Barker ed. Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1995, pp.1398-1415.
Bauckham R.J. Millennialism. In New Dictionary of Theology. Sinclair B. Ferguson and David F Wright. eds. Leicester:Inter-Varsity Press. 1988.
Berkhof Louis. Systematic Theology. London: Banner of Trust, 1941.
Bray Gerald. Biblical Interpretation. Past and present. Leicester: Apollos. 1996.
Chafer Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology. 7 vols. Plus index vol. Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press. 1947.
Dake Finis. Revelation Expounded. Eternal mysteries simplified. Lawrenceville: Dake Bible Sales
Earle Ralph and Wessel Walter W. Matthew. In: NIV Study Bible. Kenneth L. Barker. Ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995, pp. 14433-1487.
Gaebelein Frank E. Foreword. In Ryrie C.C. Dispensationalism for Today. Chicago: Moody Press. 1965.
Gentry Kenneth L. Recent Development in the Eschatological Debate. In May 2001 Chlacedon Report, pp 7-10.
Grudem Wayne. Systematic Theology. An introduction to biblical doctrine. Leicester: IVP/Zondervan. 1994.
Hodge Charles. Systematic Theology. 3 vols. Reprint ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970, First published 1871-1873.
Klein W.W. Blomberg C.L. and Hubbard R.L. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. Dallas: World Publishing. 1993.
Ladd G.E. The Blessed Hope. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956.
Ladd G.E. The Presence of the Future. The Eschatology of Bible Realism
Lillback P.A. Covenant. In: New Dictionary of Theology. Sinclair B. Ferguson and David F. Wright eds. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988, pp. 173-176.
Mauro Philip. The Gospel of the kingdom. Boston: Hamilton Brothers. 1928.
McMillen S.I. None of These Diseases.
Metzger B.M. The Fourth Book of Ezra (Late First Century A.D). In The Old Testament Pseudepigraph vol. 1. R.H. Charlesworth ed. New York: Doubleday, 1982. pp 517-560.
Mounce Robert. Revelation. In NIV Study Bible. Kenneth L. Barker ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995 pp. 1922-1925.
Orr James. The Progress of Dogma. Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans n.d.
Pache. The Return of Christ. Chicago: Moody Press,1955.
Popkin Richard H. and Stroll Ayrum. Philosophy Made Simple. London: W.H. Allen, 1969.
Reiter Richard R. A history of the developments of the rapture positions. In: The rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post- Tribulational? Richard R Reiter Paul D. Feinberg Gleason L. Archer and Douglas J. Moo eds. Grand Rapids: Academie Books/Zondervan 1984. Pp. 9-44.
Rubinkiewicz R. Apocalypse of Abraham (First to Second Century A.D.) In The
New Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vol. 1. J.H. Charlesworth. ed. New York: Doubleday. pp. 681-706.
Ryrie Charles Caldwell. Dispensationalism for Today. Chicago: Moody Press. 1965.
Walvoord John F. The Rapture Question. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publising House. 1979.
White E.G. The Great Controversy. Phoenix: Inspiration Books, 1967 written 1888.
Willmington H.L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers. 1984.
Wintermute O.S. Apocalypse of Elijah (First to Fourth Century A.D.) In: The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. James H. Charlesworth ed. New York: Doubleday. 1982.
Ryrie, p. 160. There are two major schools of hermeneutic of eschatology. They are referred to as covenant theology and dispensationalism. Charles Ryrie says
A concise definition of a dispensation is this: A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outpouring of God’s purpose, Ryrie, p. 29
It is difficult to determine what is actually meant by covenant theology and covenant theologians do not usually provide any definition except to describe the processes of covenant relationships in the Bible. That itself cannot be said to constitute a theology unless it provides a framework by which other areas of the scriptures can be evaluated. Both those who call themselves covenant theologians and those who say they are dispensationalists agree that there are covenants in the scriptures, such as Noahic Gen 9:8-17; Royal Grant, Abrahamic A Gen 15:9-12; etc.
Ibid. I believe what Ryrie is referring to is the modern method of interpreting prophecy which admits not only the so called sensus plenior but also the literal/spiritual fulfillment. Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard describes this –‘The NT also shows that other literal OT prophecies have what we call a literal/spiritual fulfillment. For example. Amos 9:11-12 prophesied about the restoration of the Davidic monarchy and its rule over Edom and other nations. The context gives the reader no reason to expect anything but a literal fulfillment. In Acts 15:16-17, however, James says the fulfillment of Amos 9 is the admission of non-Jewish believers to the company of Jesus’ followers. He does so by interpreting Amos prediction of David’s future political rule as representing Christ’s spiritual rule over non-Jewish Christians. In sum, James sees the prophecy fulfilled in a literal/spiritual way. It is literal in that it happened in history to God’s people and spiritual in that it also involves Gentiles’ p. 308. The explanation of literal/spiritual fulfillment is similar of course to the earlier one we mentioned on sensus plenior. But it relates to prophecy in this way. Because some OT prophecies have not had direct literal fulfillments, some interpreters then say all must have no direct fulfillment. This was the same prophetic error of the Seventh Day Adventists interpreters made in the 19th Century who expected the coming of Jesus in 1844 because of applying the formula to interpret the weeks referred to in Daniel 9 as 7 years -i.e.7 days is a week and therefore since a week is 7 years, one day must always refer to seven years. This is now rendered “sevens” in NIV. ‘2300 days in Dan 8:14 was interpreted to mean 2300 years and beginning from B.C. 457, the year of edict to rebuild Jerusalem to 1844 is exactly 2300 years.’ See Ellen G. White, p. 279. What an error? There are exceptions to interpretations in Bible. Daniel “weeks” is an example and it is used as a periodization word which was later borrowed by 1 Enoch but not with the same mathematical exactitude. Also, James may have been using the prophetic information in Amos allegorically; if this is done under inspiration, it is of course valid. But we cannot do the same since we cannot provide validity for our own inspiration (indeed the canon is closed!). Just because James allegorized, it does not follow that we should all interpret prophecy allegorically.
Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, p. 308.
‘In some passages two distinct persons are referred to, the visible person addressed and the invisible person who is using the visible one as a tool.’ Finis Dake, in describing the law of prophetic double reference, p. 21.
Kenneth L. Barker and Larry L. Walker agree with this- ‘According to the Aramaic Targum (a paraphrase), the Jerusalem Talmud (a collection of religious instruction) and the Midrash (practical exposition), Jews early regarded this verse as Messianic.’ p. 1406.
Charles Hodge, who may sometimes be presupposed himself, laid a valuable foundation for the inductive method of biblical interpretation and he himself, in areas where you can fault him, was extremely careful in providing enough information to determine the validity of his assertions. As theologian, he is a biblical scientist par excellence. See C Hodge, 1871.
Hodge, pp. 808-812.
 ‘ We agree with a fair consensus of interpreters who believe that the kingdom of God arrived in part at first coming but awaits its full consummation at his return’ Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard, p.332.
 Willmington, p.581.
 For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years (one thousand years in Arabic manuscript II’ -see Metzger 1982). 4 Ez 7:28. See Metzger for translation.
 ‘On that day, the Christ, the king, and all His saints will come forth from heaven. He will burn the earth. He will spend a thousand years upon it. Because the sinners prevailed over it, he will create a new earth. He will rule with His saints, ascending and descending, while they are always with the angels and they are with the Christ for a thousand years.’ ApoEli 5:36-39. See Wintermute 1982.
 ‘In the last days, in this twelfth hour of impiety, in the twelfth period of the age of my fulfilment, I will set up this man from your tribe. And then I will sound the trumpet out of the air, and I will send my chosen one, having in Him one measure of all my power, and he will summon my people, humiliated by the heathen.’ ApoAbr 29:9, 31:1. See Rubinkiewicz, 1982.
 Pache, The Return of Christ, p.380.
 Ellen G. White, 1888, writes ‘For six thousand years, Satan’s work of rebellion has “made the earth to tremble” For six thousand years his prison-house has God’s people, and he would have held them captive forever, but Christ has broken his bonds, and set the prisoners free’ p 559.
also Wintermute, 1982, says of ApoEli 5:36 ‘It is fitting that events “on that day” in the sight of the Lord is equal to a thousand years it was possible to construct a view of the world which continues for 6000 years before reaching the Sabbath, i.e, the rest of 1000 years’. p.753. cf. 2En 32:1-33:2.
 Bray, 1996, p.453.
 Bray, 1996, p.453.
 Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, 1993, p.306, and p.305. ‘Although I completely agree with the view Bible students should interpret prophecy tentatively rather than dogmatically. Our God is a God of surprises, and He may still have some left’ Klein, Blomberg & Hubbard, p.309, I cannot but wonder why God should allow us to hear prophecy and would not want us to interpret - e.g. ‘do not seal up the words of the prophecy’ Rev.22:10.
 ‘Some premillenarians have spoken of Amillennialism as a new view and as one of the most recent novelties, but this is certainly not in accord with the testimony of history. The name is new indeed, but the view to which it is applied is as old as Christianity. It had at least as many adherents as Chialism among the church Fathers of the second and third. It has ever since been the view most widely accepted, is the only view that is either expressed or implied in the great historical confessions of the Church, and has always been the prevalent view in reformed circles.’ L. Berkhof. Systematic Theology. London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1941, p. 708.
Apocalypse of Elijah is sometimes classified with Jewish apocalypses because of its obvious Jewish title, but it is considered most Christian and probably functions in interpreting eschatology as provided in the Revelation. It therefore obviously postdates The Revelation. The Apocalypse is dated from 2nd century B.C. (see O.S. Wintermute, p. 721), which may suggests its function in providing us with how the Revelation was interpreted during and immediately after John’s era. No other book has such insight as a Christian apocalypse.
Scofield reference Bible. 1917.
See Chafer, 1947.
Walvoord finds several passages in the Revelation (2:25; 3:10-11;5:9-10; 7:1-8; 14:1-5). Pp. 255-262.
Dake, p. 46.
Grudem says ‘The Bible only needs to say something once in order for it to be true and something that we must believe. The story of the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel, for example, is only taught in Genesis 11:1-9, yet we believe it to be true because Scripture teaches it. Similarly, even if only one passage taught a future millennial reign of Christ, we still should believe it.’ p. 1116.
Charles Hodge, vol. 3. p. 842.
According to Reiter ‘It appears that the writings of Ladd and other pretribulationist scholars resulted in increasing diversity among Evangelicals. At least many were open to diverse influences. For example, in the Evangelical Free Church of America more pastors came to hold midtribulation and postribulation views than previously. Furthermore, their colleagues showed greater tolerance for these changes.’ pp. 37-38.
There is no doubt that Ladd, coming on the scene, caused more divisiveness in the previous smug consensus of conservative scholars in eschatology. This change is common amongst the young today. Ladd came in to provide a Hegelian synthesis for the thesis of dispensationalism, and the antithesis of covenant system, or so it seems. But he added more confusion for he himself cannot believe a single word of what he is trying to portray (see below), as in the field of historical Revelation.
We can add the insight of Bray on historical premillenarians- ‘Historic premillenarians are careful to interpret the Old Testament in the light of the New. They insist that the church is the inheritor of the millennial promises, and that it is inappropriate to apply them to the historic Israel, except in a secondary sense. It may be true, as Paul suggests in Romans 11, that the Jews will be saved as part of the final consummation, but this does not imply that they have a separate destiny apart from the Christian church.’p. 453.
What do we make of the Pauline razor ‘For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.’ Rom 9:6? Of course, this is answer to the absence of the whole tribe of Dan in the list of Israelitic tribes in Rev 7:5-8. God is able to raise children for Abraham out of stones (Lk 3:8) only means, anyone can be rejected as child of Abraham if he is unwilling to repent’ Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Lk 3:8a.
Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, p. 308.
Paul says ‘After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree! Rom 11:24. “Notice their own olive tree”!’ Paul is in no way saying here as suggested by Klein and his colleagues that Israel is the inferior graft. Paul cautions against being removed after the graft; he said natural branches were broken off so that Gentiles could be grafted in. Israel represents the natural branches; Gentiles are the wild ones that have been grafted into the cultivated olive tree as a result of the cutting off the Israelite through their unbelief. If they believe, they can still be grafted back, but remember, do not be arrogant (that is the position of the covenanters today) for it is easier for the natural branches to take before the wild ones with the regrafting.
Robert Mounce says of the song of Moses ‘was sung on Sabbath evenings in the synagogue to celebrate Israel’s great deliverance from Egypt.’ p. 1941. See Ex 15:1-18. In Rev 15:3, two companies are in heaven; one is singing the song of Moses and the other the song of the Lamb. Why should this be so if they are so amalgamated as we are to believe?
Ryrie, pp. 123-124.
See Allis, 1945, p. 45 and Bass 1960, p. 33.
Ryrie, pp. 171-172.
Ryrie, p. 173.
See Popkin and Stroll, p. 111.
Ryrie, pp. 106-107.
Ralph Earle & Walter W. Wessel say of Mt 5:42-‘probably not a general requirement to give to every one who asks, but a reference to the poor (cf Dt 15:7-11; Ps 112:5,9).’p. 1446. –‘If there is a poor man among your brothers on any of the towns of the land that the Lord our God is giving to you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be open-handed and freely lend to him whatever he needs.’ Dt 15:7-8. This injunction is for brother, but the Christian one is for any one at all.’
 The Didache being the writings of the 1st century Christians make this clear. Christians are not just to give alms to everybody. I believe this was the original intention of Christ and is part of the mistake of modern Christianity in interpreting the sermon to mean to give to everybody. If you give all your money to terrorists, then you cannot blame God when they use the money to terrorise you, or to Satanists to use for their rituals and sacrifices. See Grudem, p 67.
See S.I. McMillen.
See Hegel’s work relating to the Tubingen School of Theology.
Frank E. Gaebelein provides foreword for Dr Ryrie book- Dispensationalism for Today, p. 8.
Part of the rules of modern science is that, aside from being experimentally determined by observation, it must be arranged in an orderly manner with predictable rules. If the rule of hermeneutics is literal interpretation, then it must be used at all times. If however, the rule is literal for non-prophetic material and allegoric for prophetic, it is difficult, or sometimes impossible to distinguish in some texts between the two and this therefore provides the evidence for the futility of this “kind of science”.
Charles Ryrie however charges covenant theology with incomplete induction- ‘The point of this is not to be able to conclude that these covenants are unscriptural, but simply to show that they are deductions, not inductions, from Scripture. The existence of the covenants is not found by an inductive examination of passages; it is a conclusion deduced from certain Scriptural evidence....The dispensationalist has more inductive evidence for the existence of the specific dispensations than does the covenant theologian for his covenants of works and grace; and the dispensationalist has as much, if not more, right to deduce his dispensational scheme as does the covenant theologian his covenant scheme.’ p. 185. I do not agree with Dr Ryrie. I think both systems have enough inductive evidences but are looking at different perspectives of a global issue and hence the issue of federal theology as claimed by some covenanters does not arise.
Philip Mauro, pp. 8-9.
James Orr, p. 303.
See Lillback, p. 176.
The story is told of the dispute between two villages on the sides of a major road who were to be visited by the gods. The gods sent the devil to represent them and to settle the dispute between the villages. The villagers decided to make the chief of the two communities based on the color of the cap of the emissary. In order to create confusion, the devil decided to wear a cap that was white on the right side of the road and black on the left. When he had left the village, the villagers decided to discuss the color of the devil’s cap. Of course, this led to the war they had patiently tried to avoid because it became clear to each side of the divide that the other side was dishonest in its claim. Nobody remained alive in the two villages as they slaughtered each other to the last person.
This is true of covenant and dispensationalist doctrines today. One side accuses the other of heresy and quotes scripture to supports itself. The truth is that the two sides are guilty of partial induction of biblical data. When the two sides come to agreement on the inducted data, they will realize that it is possible for a cap to have two colors.
 Gentry, 8.