MILLENNIUM: An Eschatological View

My Eschatological View of the Millennium – by John Dunn

In the OT Scriptures, the vision of the Day of the Lord is often presented as a singular cosmic event, in which Messiah both saves his people and issues cataclysmic destruction upon the wicked. However, the mystery of the New Covenant Age is that Messiah’s coming is fulfilled in two parts. He came the first time in lowliness and servanthood to die on a cross, to save. The second time he will come as a consuming fire to judge and destroy the wicked.

In this way, the Day of the Lord can be understood as an eschatological Age. It has begun in salvation (Messiah’s Incarnation), is presently coming (by the Spirit), and will be finally consummated at Christ’s visible return in fiery judgment. We are living in the age of the Day of the Lord, which is “as a thousand years”, as Peter confirms:

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the DAY of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. (2 Pet. 3:7-8, see also Ps 90:4)

In this way, I believe the “thousand years” in Revelation 20 is referring to the eschatological age of the Day of the Lord in which we are presently living, an indeterminable period which is “as a thousand years”, and in which the elect are being saved and the ungodly are presently storing up wrath for themselves for the Day of wrath. (Rom 2:4-5)

Jesus himself indicated as much in Luke 4:17-21 when he proclaimed that he had fulfilled Isaiah 61:1-2. But he immediately closed the scroll and sat down in mid-verse, precisely before finishing the rest of verse 2, “ and the Day of vengeance of our God.” The proclamation of the Good News and the Day of vengeance are intimately united in the same eschatological event known as the Day of the Lord. But Jesus indicated here that the vengeance was yet to come. The Day of the Lord has come in Messiah’s full salvation. But the Day of the Lord’s final vengeance is yet future.

Newness: of New Covenant

Richard Gaffin on Fullness of Revelation and Redemption in Christ, the New Covenant:

“From the viewpoint of redemptive history – covenant history in its ongoing, epochal movement toward consummation – there is the most radical contrast. In this respect I will yield to no one in stressing the absolute, “dispensational” difference before and after Pentecost. Before Christ – before his climactic coming in “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10), “at the end of the ages” (Heb. 9:26; cf. 1:2) – there is nothing, nothing of substance, only anticipatory, evanescent (Heb. 8:13) shadows cast in advance (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1). With and after Christ’s coming there is everything; he is, without precedent, God’s (finally) revealed “fullness” (Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:19; 2:9) … (Preincarnate) Christ and the Holy Spirit are surely active throughout the old covenant (e.g., I Cor. 10:3-4), but only anomalously, “out of season,” in advance, and, above all, on the basis of who the last Adam was to become, “the life-giving Spirit.” In the redemptive-historical sense … the “not yet” of John 7:39 is to be taken at face value; it is absolute, unqualified.” (Pentecost: Before and After, p. 12)

Kingdom: Left, Right, or Neither?

Lee Irons has commented on a work by Seyoon Kim, Christ and Caesar

 

1)   It is not the timing of the eschaton but the nature of the eschaton that conditions their [Paul and Luke’s] stance toward political issues. If the eschaton is going to bring about a radical change in the conditions of life such that the glory of the age to come totally transcends our present existence, then it matters little whether they viewed the eschaton as imminent (within their lifetime) or as far off in the future.

 

a.    The eschatological state, for the New Testament writers, is not continuous with the present state. Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

b.    The eschatological state will be characterized by a glorified creation and glorified bodies to inhabit that glorified creation. The glorified state is one of incorruption and immortality. It is not merely the eternal continuation of our present fleshly state.

c.    Thus, for the New Testament writers, political questions, tied as they are to the fleshly state of this passing age, are necessarily secondary in importance.

d.    Furthermore, as a part of the fleshly state, political arrangements are not capable of being transformed or taken up into the state of glory, whether in its “already” state (experienced proleptically by the indwelling of the living Christ through his Spirit) or its “not yet” form (the glorified creation/body).

 

2)   Second, I do not understand what Kim means by “the materialization of Christ’s Lordship” or “materializing the redemption of the Kingdom of God politically.” These sound like nice words, but what do they mean in practical terms?

 

a.    For those on the left it means increasing government funding for social welfare for the poor. Others on the left would say it means ending war in some sort of commitment to pacifism. Those on the right would say it means banning abortion, or having the constitution amended to exclude same-sex marriage, or reducing the size of government and government controls on the free market.

b.    A related problem is that, even if we were to agree on a specific agenda, how do these things relate to Christ’s Lordship or the redemption of the Kingdom of God? In other words, why should any of the above items, left or right, be viewed in such exalted spiritual terms, as the materialization of the reign of Christ?

c.    In my view, the above policies can be debated pro and con, and perhaps some are pragmatically better for society than others, but none are distinctively Christian, and certainly they should not be characterized as the political materialization of the kingdom of God.

Two: Covenants, Communities, and Stages

Meredith Kline once wrote:

“They [two covenantal canons] are bound to one another in organic spiritual-historical relationship. They both unfold the same principle of redemptive grace, moving forward to a common eternal goal in the city of God. The blessings of old and new orders derive from the very same works of satisfaction accomplished by the Christ of God, and where spiritual life is found in either order it is attributable to the creative action of the one and selfsame Spirit of Christ. …The continuity between them is evident even in the area of their distinctive formal polities. For when we reckon with the *invisible* dimension of the New Testament order, specifically with the heavenly kingship of the glorified Christ over his church, we perceive that the governmental structure of the New Testament order is like that of the old Israel is a theocratic monarchy.

“Nevertheless, at the level of its *visible* structure there are obvious and important differences between the new covenant community and the old organization of God’s people. …When the full weight is given to these differences, the Old and New Testaments, which respectively define and establish these two structures, will be clearly seen as two separate and distinct architectural models for the house of God in two quite separate and distinct stages of its history. The distinctiveness of the two community organizations brings out the individual integrity of the two Testaments which serve as community rules for the two orders.  

Canonicity: Distinct Canons

Meredith Kline once wrote:
“Together the old and new covenant canons share in redemption’s eschatological movement with its pattern of renewal, of promise and Messianic fulfillment, the latter is the semi-eschatological and consummate stages….As polities for two different covenant orders, the Mosaic and the Messianic, the two covenantal canons stand over against one another, each in its own individual literary-legal unity and completeness.

Covenant: Context of

William Dumbrell is said to have uttered:

“[T]he Sermon on the Mount is a ‘covenant recall to Israel’ which ‘recalled Israel to the covenant and had the reconstitution of scattered Israel in mind.'”

EXACTLY, and others have likewise concluded the same.

The Sermon on the Mount is not for the Church of Jesus Christ to assume as a direct ethical prescription.  To miss the covenantal framework in which this passage is set, is to miss the heart of what Christ was declaring as the Last and Greatest Prophet of Israel.  The majority view has long been one of assuming Christ is here conveying the ethical scheme the New Covenant Community would live and die by, when in reality it is the Scheme Christ himself would live and die under.

Unfortunately, this (the majority view) is nothing more than an abstract, a-covenantal reading of the text.

New Covenant: Priority of Indicative

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones once wrote:

“[T]he Sermon on the Mount is a description of character and not a code of ethics or of morals. It is not to be regarded as a law- a kind of new ‘Ten Commandments’ or set of rules and regulations which are to be carried out by us-but rather as a description of what we Christians are meant to be” (D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Vol.1, [IVP, 1966], 23).

Creation: Of the Church by Death

Chad Breeson of Vossed World once mentioned:

 “Understanding Jewish parallelism in both comparison and contrast, especially as it occurs in chiasm, has been part of that huge a-ha moment from which I haven’t recovered.  

“Paul could’ve just written about the new creation and given us some assertions.  Instead, he uses a hymn that is juxtaposed such a way that we come away with a view of the church that is magnificent.  I often hear someone speaking of creation…”Isn’t it great that every molecule is held together by God… he spoke all of this into existence and keeps all of this in motion.. etc. etc.”  But I want to tell them, thanks to the parallelism, that there is something even more mesmerizing… Christ has spoken into existence (new creation ex nihilo) and breathed life into a church with life-giving breath, an existence that he continues to sustain… every molecule of her existence is held together by Christ… and to top it off… Christ died for the church to make it happen.  The church is an amazing creation whose very existence depends on its life-giving source… its “firstborn”.

Church: God’s New Humanity

David Gibson has helpfully explained:

“The church is God’s new humanity, an example of the future new creation given in advance to the old creation, a sign of the world to come where everything is brought together under the unending reign of Jesus the King.

“This means that expository preaching, because it is addressed to people whose very existence is defined by the world to come, constantly draws on the reality of the next world to help make sense of the present world. The doctrine of the church ensures that preaching is addressed to “strangers in the world” (1 Pet. 1:1) and provides the challenge to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Preaching for the church roots its ethical imperatives in the eschatological reality of both coming judgment and promised reward (2 Pet. 3:11-14). It interprets suffering as a participation in the frustrated groans of a cosmos waiting for its liberation, and holds out the comfort that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18-21). It also means that the proclamation of the gospel does not offer a dualistic “saving of the soul” or merely a “ticket to heaven.” Instead, ecclesiology ensures that expository preaching heralds a whole new way of being human in the world-reconciliation to God and to others by participating in the first-fruits of the new creation.

Gospel: Wherein We Behold Christ’s Present Glory

Gerhardus Vos once preached:

 

“In the Judaistic controversy which shook the early church, forces and tendencies were at work deeply rooted in the sinful human heart.  In modernized apparel they confront us still to the present day. There are still abroad forms of Christless gospel. There prevails still a subtle form of legalism which would rob the Savior of his crown of glory, earned by the cross, and would make of him a second Moses, offering us the stones of the law instead of the life-bread of the gospel. Let us pray that it may be given to the church to repudiate and cast out this error with the resoluteness of Paul. Let us pray that the gospel of Christ might be preached by Christ’s servants and thus be what it was to Paul and his converts, a mirror of vision and transfiguration after the image of the Lord.”

Glory: Fading, World

Seeyon Kim has written:

“When Paul is expecting such individual and cosmic salvation from God, and very shortly at that, how interested would he be in changing the present “scheme of the world” that “is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31), in order to make life in it a little fuller during the short interim period (v. 29) before such total salvation?

Aeons: Christ/Adam

Mike Horton once said:

“It becomes clear that this two-age model is concerned not with two worlds or realms, but with two ages, one inferior to the other not for any necessary or ontological reasons but for situational and ethical ones…. To be ‘in the Spirit’ is not to be ontologically spiritual as opposed to physical, but to be ‘in Christ’ rather than ‘in Adam,’ to belong ‘to the age to come’ rather than to ‘this present evil age,’ to be ‘children of the resurrection’ of whom Jesus Christ is the ‘firstfruits.’ The age of the Spirit is not contrasted with that of the flesh, says Ridderbos, ‘first and foremost as an individual experience… but as the new way of existence which became present time with the coming of Christ…. This being in the Spirit is not a mystical, but an eschatological, redemptive-historical, category.'”

Aeons: Flesh/Spirit

Gordon Fee once wrote:

“The flesh-Spirit contrast in Paul never appears in a context in which the issue has to do with ‘how to live the Christian life’; rather, it appears in this case in an argument with those who have entered into the new eschatological life of the Spirit, but who are being seduced to return to the old aeon, to live on the basis of Torah observance, which for Paul is finally but another form of life ‘according to the flesh’ (cf. Gal. 3:3; 5:17-18; Phil. 3:3-6).”

Checkmate & the Cross

David Wells has written:

“Inasmuch as the Cross is eschatological, the world of evil forces is also judged.

It is as if two people were playing chess. At a certain point, one of the players rises from the table, leaving his opponent to ponder his next move. The opponent struggles with all the possibilities because he is determined to win. What he has not realized is that there are only a limited number of moves that he can make, and not one of them can change the outcome of the game. No matter what he does, he will lose.

Just so at the Cross, the outcome of the chess game between God and Satan was decided. God will certainly win. Satan, however, is presently playing out every conceivable option, imagining that somehow his rebellion will triumph. It will not.”

The gods of Green

If you have any doubt about the paganistic notions that undergird much of the “GREEN” movement (that even some so-called “evangelicals” are embracing), give this lecture by Calvin Beisner a listen.  In the least, what Calvin has to say should give you pause in ignorantly adopting what the media and masses herald as true science.

There are pagan roots to much of the “radical” environmentalism, in case you didn’t know this already.

Click here:  Calvin Beisner — Deep Ecology and Creation Spirituality

The Other Gospel: Neo-Paganism

Here is one of over 30 lectures that are worth the time spent listening!

What these folks are discussing is already shaping the political, economic, social, academic,  geological and theological landscape of our time. 

Church beware!  We live in an age of growing unity of Rationalism and Romanticism under the umbrella of Monism.  The initial tremors of this quake are already being felt, even within the so-called ‘evangelical’ church.

Click here:  Peter Jones on Neo-Paganism: Stepchild of Secular Humanism

Left behind…for a godly purpose

Devon Berry faithfully preached:   

“…though the incarnate Christ has physically departed this earth, he has left behind physical evidence, in fact, he has left behind his body, for the good and comfort of believers and for the proclamation of his glory to unbelievers… You are in this together. You are who Christ has left all humanity with as physical evidence that he was here! To love and serve your fellow believer is to do nothing less than show Christ to the world in a way that makes God the Father look magnificent and glorious!  …Do you want to bring him glory? Then sacrificially serve and love your fellow believer.  …May we be ever-conscious of what is temporal and what is eternal – and then live as people who realize that this world is not our home.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fulfilled/Filtered in Christ

Lee Irons: “We must trace the progress of redemptive revelation as we move from the old covenant through its fulfillment in Christ into the new covenant. As a result, there is both *organic continuity* and *redemptive historical change*, but the focus is on the centrality of Christ and our union with him. It really is all about Christ!”