10 - Amillennialism and Postmillennialism
RDean/Daniel Lesson 10
Amillennialism and Postmillennialism – Daniel 2:31
On this occasion of the 4th of July, in the year 2001, I thought I would read a couple of things to emphasize the importance, the value and the significance of the freedom that we have. Freedom is never free; freedom is always purchased with a price and the price of our freedom is all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives over the centuries to give us our freedom; those who have served in military service, those who have fought in the wars and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberties. So often today we don't teach history that well in the schools, and so many surveys seem to indicate that children and even many adults don't understand the basic facts of the war for independence and what took place 225 years ago and if you don't understand the facts then you can't understand any interpretation of the facts. Too often we think of the founding fathers and the way it's presented today in our multicultural post-modern education system, they were just a bunch of white European males who were imposing their particular worldview and construction of life on everybody else and what kind of freedom is that. But that is a concept that is divorced from reality.
"Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five of those signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives and their sacred honor.
What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; they were men of means, they were well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence, knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and he died in rags. Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton. At the Battle of York Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British General, Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These men were not wild-eyed rabble-rousing ruffians; they were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight and unwavering they pledged (quote) "for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War; we didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. Remember, freedom is never free.
Too often today we've lost sight of that and we've lost sight of just what freedom is to entail and as a result of that, in many college and university campuses across the nation what is taught in the classroom is just the antithesis of what actually happened in history and in fact, what is taught in the classroom is really an attack on the history and freedom of the U.S. As we've studied Sunday about the time of the Judges and the impact of paganism on a culture, we see it lived out today at the university level. As I've said so often, even though many of us will never darken the door of a university, nevertheless we're impacted on a daily basis by what goes on in the classrooms of the universities around the country. They will produce our future leaders, they produce our school teachers, they produce the future politicians and leaders of our nation and they are influencing the way they think as young men and women.
An interesting commentary comes from Academia, Front Page Magazine, and is written by Jamie Glazov who holds a PhD in history with a specialty in Soviet studies. He has a unique background because his father, Uri Glazov was a leading Soviet dissident during the Brezhnev era and eventually left and came to the U.S. in 1972. He writes: "I think I still suffer from something of post traumatic stress disorder. I didn't serve in a war" though, "I spent eleven years in academia. David Horowitz's recent encounter with the campus Gestapo in Berkley has given me flashbacks all over again. Try to imagine being an immigrant from the Soviet Union—as I am—and sitting in the company of left-wing 'intellectuals' who think they are oppressed. Picture coming from a society where a myriad of your relatives simply disappeared; or this relative or that family member died under interrogation and torture for his /her beliefs – or for simply nothing at all. Think about Alexander Solzhenitsyn's account of the tortures that the Stalinist machinery afflicted for the objective of extracting 'confessions.' These tortures include" and then he includes a pretty graphic description that I'll skip over, of the nature of some of the tortures that were inflicted upon the victims during that time. He says, "Keep in mind that many people refused to 'confess.' Then think about the Soviet Secret Police raping daughters and sons in front of their fathers and mothers – for the sake of extracting 'confessions.'"
"Now visualize me sitting in a graduate studies lounge in Toronto, listening to my colleagues explain to me that communism 'isn't really so bad,' that the Soviet Union made some 'remarkable achievements,' and that Western democratic-capitalism is the most oppressive system of all. At the same time, picture my lecturers having absolutely no respect for a free exchange of ideas on this subject."
"Both of my grandfathers were exterminated by Stalinist terror. My father and mother both just barely escaped the Gulag. But here I am, with PhD students being treated to a one-hour discussion about 'homophobia' on campus. My colleagues are agonizing about how 'Homophobia-Free Zone' pink stickers must be put on every door in the university. 'But what if a professor or teaching assistant refuses to have one put on his door?' one of them asks indignantly. After a few seconds of silence the other answers, 'Well, then a committee might just have to be set up where these people will be taken to account.' Serious head nods follow."
"Fascinating, simply fascinating, the great issues of our time."
"I remember when we first moved from Russia my mom was constantly crying; she was separated from her mother and brother – who were also afraid to engage in correspondence because it was too dangerous for them. Sometimes my mom would cry for what seemed like forever. I will never forget as a nine-year-old that feeling in my heart when my mom cried like that. My consolation seemed to soothe her slightly but I understood well that they were not the panacea for her grief. The Soviet system did that to my mother."
"Perhaps some of you might understand why I'm not amused by the politics on campus; I'm not amused by endless discussions of how we're all oppressed because we're being 'attacked' by Pepsi commercials that are 'trying to tell us that we are not cool if we don't drink Pepsi,' a graduate student told me, 'the capitalist machinery practices the politics of exclusion. By trying to pretend it offers us choice, it actually negates choice,' he says. And there is no debate permitted on this subject. The anti-capitalist theme is simply just drilled into your mind. My mom's father was executed by the Soviet Secret Police. He did not have the luxury of being of being oppressed by Pepsi commercials.
One day, when I was nine years old and living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my father and I were on our way to church. As we walked near the entrance I spit on the ground. In a very serious but patient way, my father said to me, 'It's okay to spit outside KGB headquarters but never in front of a place like this.' I never did it again; I was wrong that day because I had ignorantly spit on sacred and holy ground.
"But there is another environment that is far from sacred and holy—today's politically correct campus. And there are certain individuals—the most spoiled and self-centered people I have ever met—who remind me of the scum who fostered the Soviet experiment, who promote the same ideas that gave us the Gulag, Mao's Cultural Revolution, and Pol Pot's killing fields. Working fervently to destroy their own society, they praise other societies—such as the one that caused my mother's eternal tears. They are our left-wing intellectuals. I spit in their faces."
We don't realize what dangerous things are going on inside our own nation, seeking to destroy the very freedoms that we have by intellectuals and elitists who don't have the slightest clue what freedom is all about, or what is entailed in the sacrifice that produced our freedom. And it is that type of thinking that threatens every one of us, especially as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ because one of the things that people of that type of thinking hate is the thinking of Christians because we believe that there is a truth, there is an absolute truth, a Truth with a capital "T" and that Truth has been revealed in the Word of God, and that there is no freedom apart from that truth, and that there is no life apart from Jesus Christ. We have an exclusivist view of the truth, an exclusivist view of reality and that's exactly like Daniel and his three friends in the midst of one of the most pagan courts, pagan cultures of all time. They lived at a time of tremendous hostility to truth, and yet here were these young men, 17 years of age, who took a stand for the truth and had a fantastic witness against paganism and their time. It's a tremendous example to us because by studying them and by studying the book of Daniel we see how they impacted the culture around them and how they had an impact on their own Jewish culture for generations to come. And what gave them that strength, what gave them all that they had, what enabled them to do and to be what they were, was the truth of the Word of God in their souls, and that's why it is so important for us to inculcate the Word into our own souls, constantly studying, constantly learning, listening to tapes, coming to Bible class, never giving up, never getting discouraged, and constantly letting our thinking be reshaped by the Word of God because sooner or later it may be us with who is threatened with the Gulag, it may be us who is threatened with torture and it is only doctrine that is going to give us the ability to survive.
Now we have going on in our study in Daniel and the last two times, rather than focusing on exactly what's happening with Daniel, we're on the verge of understanding the dream that God gave Nebuchadnezzar, that is one of the most fantastic prophecies in all of the Scripture. It is the foundation for understanding much that's in Revelation; it is a foundation for understanding what comes later in Daniel. Daniel 2 provides the interpretative framework historically and then in Daniel 5 and Daniel 7 and Daniel 9 and 10 more information is given and there is further development of God's plan for history. Before we get into that we need to understand that Christians do interpret this in three different ways, and these ways are called premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. And the reason I've stopped to remind us of these different views is to examine them in terms of their strengths, their weaknesses, how they handle Scripture, because when we look at the details, when we come back and look at the details of the Daniel 2 prophecy, the interpretation of the image, Daniel 7, we are going to look at how these different approaches handle this so that we can better understand and defend our own position of a literal interpretation of Scripture and premillennial dispensationalism. So we have looked, as we come to our study of Daniel, going through the first two chapters, examining how these young men were brought as hostages from Jerusalem to Babylon, and how God is using them to take a stand for the truth in the midst of that pagan culture.
The first view we looked at was premillennialism and in premillennialism we have the belief that Jesus Christ is going to return to the earth before the millennium, and the millennium is going to be a literal one thousand year period where Jesus Christ personally rules and reigns from the throne of David in Jerusalem. Premillennialism means before the millennium, "pre" before, Jesus Christ returns before the millennium. And after the millennium there is a great white throne judgment and then eternity.
The second view that we looked at is called amillennialism; we began this last time, we'll wrap it up this evening. In amillennialism we have the belief of no literal millennium. The "a" prefix is a negation; it means no millennium, no literal millennium. In amillennialism we are now living in the Church Age, but according to amillennialism, the Church is the Messianic kingdom. They are equivalent terms, so that we are also living the Messianic kingdom and for them the "one thousand" in Revelation 20 is not a literal "one thousand," it is just a symbolic number and so we are currently living in the Messianic kingdom. This is a time when evil and good coexist and the first resurrection they term as a spiritual resurrection, and this age ends with the Second Coming of Christ; at that time there will be a resurrection, a physical resurrection of all believers and simultaneously Jesus Christ returns to the earth, there will be the completion of all the resurrections mentioned in Scripture, all the judgments will take place at this time and then we go into the eternal state. This is amillennialism.
Then we'll look at the third structure which is postmillennialism, "post" meaning after, that Jesus Christ returns after the millennium. For the postmillennialist the Church brings in the Messianic kingdom; we will bring it in because of the way we witness, because of the Holy Spirit, because of the teaching of doctrine and eventually the entire world will become Christianized. In postmillennialism the Church is the kingdom, the kingdom has already, for both amillennialism and postmillennialism, the kingdom has already been inaugurated. That's a key word to understand is "inaugurate," the kingdom is already inaugurated. Another term that's being used today is "realized" eschatology, "realized" prophecy, we are in the "realized" kingdom, it's already begun but it's not fully here and eventually it will fade in until the kingdom is here. For them the thousand is also not literal and the first resurrection is spiritual, then the Second Coming of Christ occurs, you have your resurrections and Christ returns at the end of the age; all resurrections and judgments take place at the time of the Second Coming and then we go into eternity. That is postmillennialism.
Now the key to understanding much of this is the term "the kingdom of God" and how it is used in the Bible. This gets kind of confusing; we'll talk about it more and more as we go through our study of Daniel. You have different terms, you have the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of Messiah, the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, and these reflect different aspects of God's reign and rule as He governs human history. Overall there is the use of the universal sovereign kingdom; from eternity to eternity God is King, He is the Everlasting King, He is always King, He is the ruler of the heavens and the earth. And that is a general term of God's rule and reign. Yet in human history there are different instantiations of that rule and reign. Here we have a time line, major events going from Eden to eternity. In Eden we had the first instance of a theocratic kingdom; God walked on the earth, God's presence was on the earth in the Garden of Eden and He ruled on the earth, so it was a form of the theocratic kingdom. That ended with human sin but it was reinstated in the theocratic kingdom of Israel. God's presence, once again, was on the earth symbolized by the Shekinah glory hovering over the Ark of the Covenant or the tabernacle or temple, the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, the theocratic kingdom during the Age of Israel. Finally Ezekiel pictures in the divine discipline on Judah in 586 BC, before that the departure of the Shekinah glory.
And then we have Jesus' teaching about the mystery form of the kingdom, starting in the parables in Matthew 13, and the Church Age is part of the mystery form of the kingdom. Remember the mystery form of the kingdom is a mystery form, the expression of the overall sovereign kingdom. It's not the Messianic kingdom; it's the kingdom of God as a general principle. Then we have the Second Advent at the end of this age, and when Jesus Christ establishes the millennium that is the Messianic kingdom promised to Israel in the Old Testament. So that is the millennial Messianic kingdom ending with the great white throne judgment and that transitions into the eternal theocratic kingdom throughout eternity. So we have to maintain these distinctions; they are different kingdoms and this can get a little fuzzy and a little confusing at times but we must maintain these distinctions.
So let's look at the summary of what we're talking about. There are three questions we are looking at in terms of each of these positions; three questions about premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism. First of all, does Christ return in history? Second question, will the kingdom of Messiah at some time dominate this world's culture. The third question is will evil remain in force until Christ returns? According to the first question, will Christ return in history, amillennialism and postmillennialism both say that Christ's return ends history; it ends history, you have your final judgments and then you go into the eternal state. Premillennialism says no, Jesus Christ's return does not end history. It comes in history, He enters space/time history, when He comes to this earth it is still a fallen earth, the curse is partially rolled back, the lion will lie down with the lamb, a child will put his hand into the cobra's den but it is still an earth that suffers from the curse to some degree. Those born during the millennium will have sin nature, the technology, all of the good technology, human advancements, etc. of this age will go into the millennium.
Think about that, they're still going to fly from Washington DC to Tel Aviv, they will still take ocean liners, they will still have diesel engines, they will have computers, all of that survives, the human technology that is good that survives the tribulation will go in as a starting point during the millennium and then during the millennium there will be the development and the use of human technology from a divine viewpoint framework and you'll really see some incredible growth. It will affect art, literature, drama, every field of human endeavor will be impacted. Many of the great things that we have had in the past in terms of good for literature, art, music, will survive into the millennial kingdom. So premillennialism says Christ's return doesn't end history, but it moves us into the final stage of history in the millennial kingdom.
Second question: will the kingdom of Messiah at some time dominate this world's culture. On this question both premillennialism and postmillennialism agree. The kingdom of Messiah will dominate. For the premillennialist it will dominate during the millennium. In postmillennialism they think it's going to dominate here and now today, and must dominate before Jesus can come back. For the amillennialist, the kingdom of Christ divine viewpoint never dominates human culture, never is what God intended it to be and I think that's a major flaw in amillennialism which we'll look at.
The third question: will evil remain in force until Christ returns. Premills and amills say yes, evil will continue. But postmillennialism has an optimism and I think there's an inherent flaw there that almost diminishes the impact of evil and the human sin nature. This is one of the major problems going on today in Christianity, is there are a lot of folks that think that somehow at salvation, and I'm not saying this is true of postmills but it's generally true, there are a lot of folks who think that when people are saved the sin nature somehow goes away, that the sin nature is not as powerful as it was and that somehow we're not quite the sinners we were before we were saved. But in this system what we're saying is that evil remains just as strong until Christ comes back, for both premills and amills.
So these are just to compare/contrast the different systems. Now let's wrap up what we were talking about last time about amillennialism. Remember in amillennialism the Church is the Messianic kingdom, it is cotemporaneous with the Church Age, the thousand years are not literal and then Christ returns to end this age and He establishes eternity. This is a picture of amillennialism. Now one question that we didn't get to last time, and that is how does the amillennialist handle the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember the Abrahamic Covenant was given to Abraham by God in Genesis 12:1-3, reiterated in Genesis 15, Genesis 17, and other passages in Genesis restate it to Isaac as well as to Jacob. And in the Abrahamic Covenant there were three provisions: land, seed and blessing. There was a land promise that God would give a specific piece of real estate to Abraham, it would go from the River of Egypt, which is the Wadi El Arish, to the Euphrates, and be bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and all the way up here, and that would cover portions of Iraq and Syria today, as well as all that we know of Lebanon, Jordan, and modern Israel. So the question is: what about the land promise; they understood it in the Old Testament to be literal, that Israel would literally control this piece of real estate.
Well, there are three ways in which the amillennialist handles the land promise. The first is to say that the land promise was originally a literal piece of real estate and that promise was fulfilled under Solomon. They would say that that promise was fulfilled under Solomon and they would cite two passages, 1 King 4:21 and Nehemiah 9:8. We ought to look at these passages to see if they're right. 1 Kings 4:21 states: "Now Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River," that would refer to the river Euphrates, "to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt," would rule "over all the kingdoms from the River Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life." This is the greatest expansion of the kingdom of Israel under the united monarchy. At no other time in human history did they control as much land as they did with Solomon.
Now it looks at first glance that this passage is saying that Israel actually controlled all of the real estate that God promised. But notice, he ruled over what? "he ruled over the kingdoms," these were now vassal kingdoms, they had been defeated militarily by the armies of Solomon but they were still autonomous nations, they were now vassal nations and they were paying tribute or taxes to Solomon, but they were never Israel. They were still nations, they were no longer fully autonomous, they were now subservient to Israel but they were still those nations. Israel never controlled that land as Israel. So that God's promise to Abraham that that land would be fully Israel's and that that land would belong to the tribes of Israel has never yet been fulfilled.
The other passage is Nehemiah 9:7-8 which reads: "Thou art the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham." Now the context of Nehemiah 9 is important, the people have returned to the land, Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls and the people are being called back to doctrine and to their position as God's people. And in Nehemiah 9 there is a rehearsal of the history of how God has worked to call out this special nation. So he is rehearsing, he is reminding the people and just going through history, back to the beginning, God called out Abraham, and then the next thing he did, he says "And Thou found his heart faithful before Thee, and did make a covenant with him, to give him the land of the Canaanite, of the Hittite and the Amorite, of the Perizzite, the Jebusite, and the Girgashite—to give it to his descendants. And You have fulfilled Thy promise, for Thou art righteous." Now all they are saying here is that You have given a chunk of that land, it was the Promised Land, it goes on to talk about how it was given to Joshua in the conquest generation, but it was never fully given to Joshua, they did not control all the land, they did get the lion's share of the real estate but not all of the real estate.
So the amillennialist is wrong. See, amillennialism with their non-literal hermeneutic they tend to fudge the passages. For example last time we looked at the Isaiah 2 prophecy that all the nations would come to worship God on His holy mountain in Jerusalem and the Messiah would adjudicate between, the differences between the nations. They extrapolate that and they allegorize that to mean heaven and that everybody will be in heaven and everyone would simply look to God for the answers to all the issues they face in eternity, which doesn't even make sense because there aren't going to be any problems in the blessed state, when we're in heaven, when everything is perfection, there's no sin nature. So this is a trap you fall into in allegorizing Scripture.
The second approach they use is they think that the Abraham, Land and New covenants were conditional. We did a lengthy study going through all the covenants but they were not conditional; God said Abraham, I will give this to you. Now whether or not they might enjoy the blessings of that in any particular time in history might have been conditioned on their obedience but God promised that eventually He would give it to them and that that land would be owned by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It never was in their life, therefore there must be a resurrection where they will fully enjoy the possession of that land.
The third way they try to fudge the literal interpretation is to just spiritualize it. They look at passages like Romans 4:12, which reads: "When the father of circumcision," that is referring to Abraham, "father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision," that is Jews, "but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father, Abraham, which he had while uncircumcised." What they try to say there is that Jews and Gentiles are both children of Abraham by faith and since we're children of Abraham by faith, that we are heirs to all the promises of the Jews. But I taught you what the problem with that was. You were only a Jew in the Old Testament under what condition? Were you a Jew because you were related to Abraham? No. Were you a Jew if you were related to Abraham and Isaac? No. You were only a Jew if you were related to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember, Abraham had a son, Ishmael, but Ishmael was not a Jew. Isaac had a son, Esau; Esau was not a Jew. Unless you were a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob you were not a Jew. So just because we follow Abraham in faith and Abraham is our father spiritually, because we have the same faith Abraham does, does not make Church Age believers Jews or heirs of those promises that God made to Abraham. So we see in amillennialism that there is an attempt to spiritualize, allegorize and avoid the literal interpretation of those passages.
Now let's look quickly at the last view. This is postmillennialism. Christ returns at the end of this age which is coterminous with the kingdom and as this age progresses the kingdom comes in, the thousand years are viewed as non-literal and the Church, through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit, through witnessing, evangelism, teaching of the Word, will gradually influence all the world till everyone eventually becomes Christians. And that is when you are in the kingdom, and only then will Jesus come back. He won't come back until we have completed that project. They too, like amillennialists would say that the first resurrection is spiritual and the second resurrection is physical which takes place when Jesus Christ returns, and at that same time He returns there is a physical resurrection; He ends history, all the resurrections and judgments take place at that time and then we enter into the eternal state. Postmills believe that the kingdom of Christ is now extended through all of the teaching, preaching and missionary activities of the Church and the world will gradually become Christian and that will then be followed by Christ's return.
Now the interesting thing is both amills and postmills look to Augustine as the originator of their system, and that's because Augustine had this view that Christ comes back at the end and establishes eternity. But the difference between postmillennialism and amillennialism, or one key difference, is that postmillennialism is optimistic; things are going to get better and better and better because the world is going to become more and more Christian. And that element of optimism was completely missing from Augustine. Postmillennialism, though, in its real systematic development didn't come about until after the Reformation. The father of modern postmillennialism was a man by the name of Daniel Whitby, in the 17th century.
Whitby is an embarrassment to postmills because he was a Unitarian; he didn't believe in the Trinity and he didn't believe that Christ was the God-man who died on the cross for our sins, so that's something of an embarrassment to them. Postmillennialism affected the Puritans; during the colonial period, Jonathan Edwards, who was from Massachusetts and died just after he became President of Yale, he developed smallpox from a smallpox vaccine, he was also postmill and this had a tremendous impact on American church history. It entered into liberalism in the 19th century and became identified with social progress, and that became humanized in human works so that the Church was going to bring in the kingdom through all kinds of social works projects, political agenda, it was a heavy emphasis… the idea of postmillennialism was a tremendous influence during the War Between the States because many of the abolitionists had this idea that they were perfecting America and once America came perfected by doing away with various social sins, then they would enter into the utopic kingdom and it was all works oriented and it laid the ground work for the victory of Protestant liberalism in the mainline denominations in the 19th century.
Even though there were many conservatives at that time who were also postmill, it had a tremendous impact on American thinking that led to the War Between the States. Men like Charles Hodge at Princeton, and A. A. Hodge were postmills, as well as a man named Robert Lewis Dabney who was a theologian from Virginia, who was the Chief of Staff for Stonewall Jackson and after the War Between the States he went down to Texas and started a little place called the University of Texas and Austin Presbyterian Seminary. So postmills were influential and were prominent, especially in the 19th century. It kind of died out after World War I because our culture, liberalism thought everything was getting better and better and better, and then World War I came along and with all the devastation and the horrors of trench warfare they realized how terrible man was and postmillennialism was dealt an almost fatal blow by World War I. In fact, some men like Lewis Sperry Chafer founded Dallas Seminary and some others, Charles Feinberg in his book on millennialism stated, they wrote in the 40s that postmillennialism was dead. Well, it made a resurgence in the 70s and 80s under the guise of Christian reconstruction from men like Rousas Rushdoony, Gary North, Gary DeMar and Ken Gentry. So it is very much a major player on the church scene today, it is becoming more and more popular.
In postmillennialism, let's look at our main questions. In postmillennialism Christ's return ends history and following Christ's return there's the eternal state. In terms of the second question, the kingdom of God will at sometime literally dominate this mortal world's culture, and they believe that is true, just as we do as premills, and that there is a mandate for mankind as creatures in the image of God to subdue the earth in all areas of thought, that's part of Paul's mandate in 2 Corinthians that we are to take captive every thought for Christ, we're to still subdue the earth.
Now they believe they'll do it before Christ comes back and we believe that it won't fully come to past until Christ comes back, and amills believe it'll never happen. But they think that when the look at different issues, for example like in Revelation 20, they interpret it as if it has already occurred, that Satan is bound, and that Christ is now ruling and reigning in heaven. They believe Christ is reigning from the Davidic throne in heaven. This is the problem with the new view coming out of Dallas Seminary called Progressive Dispensationalism. They are interpreting passages in the Scripture in ways that are very similar to amills and postmills. Christ has already reigned; they believe that the rule of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is in one sense the millennium. So the millennium is not going to be a literal kingdom but it is something that rules and reigns in our hearts, it's more private.
They believe that the binding of Satan is reallyl just a metaphor or symbol for his defeat at the cross, that he's not literally bound, restricted, taken away from the earth where he has no impact on the institutions of man, but they believe that it's just a metaphor for his defeat at the cross or else they would say that it's gradually taking place through the growth of the Church. For example, one man, Lorraine Boettner, who for years in the middle of the 20th century was the only postmill anybody knew of.
Lorraine Boettner wrote: "The binding of Satan occurs by imperceptible degrees." Now that's not what I get out of Revelation 20, there he's bound. But he says: "The binding of Satan occurs by imperceptible degrees. We can't pinpoint when it begins but passages like Isaiah 2 which refer to all the nations coming to Jerusalem and learning the law of God really refer to the Church that has attained a position so it stands out like a mountain on a plain and it becomes prominent in world affairs so that all the nations come to the Word of God for their directives." Do you see how he spiritualized that passage, where it talks about all the nations going to the mountain of God, there he says that's really they come to the Church, they're coming to the Word of God, they're coming to the Bible, so he spiritualizes or allegorizes that particular passage. In chapter 7 of his book, which is entitled The World is Getting Better, he even states that "all the false religions of the world are dying today." He wrote that back in the 40s, that was before the resurgence of Islam. So there's this pseudo optimism by postmills; it's not grounded in reality.
Now of course the major issue in saying all of this is the degree to which we take the Scriptures literally and we have to understand the basic principle of literal interpretation and that is this; I've put it on the overhead to make sure you can get it written down if you need to. "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, make no other sense." In other words, if it is feasible, it if seems to be literally possible, then that's what it means. Don't try to make it mean something else unless the context indicates. So when the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, make no other sense; therefore take every word at its ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages, comparing Scripture with Scripture, unless the facts of the immediate context studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths indicate clearly otherwise. There must be clear contextual reasons for taking something as metaphor.
For example, recently I engaged in a discussion with someone who was trying to say that some of the descriptions of the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 were metaphorical, that passage which says that the king of Tyre was a cherub who fell, an anointed cherub from heaven, to make that passage apply to any human being, which is what he was trying to do, you would have to be able to go into Scripture and show where the term like "anointed cherub" was ever used in a non-literal way. And it never is; the term "cherub" always refers to a particular type, classification of angels. And so this is the problem; the problem is the methodology that is used is to take terms and say well, I can't really be literal because I don't understand how that would work out so I'm just going to… it must be symbolic. And that's a false methodology; you have to be able to demonstrate by comparing Scripture with Scripture, that the Scripture use these phrases in non-literal ways in other passages.
So, when the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, make no other sense. So there has to be a sense of historical possibility, and that's our first rule. Our first rule is that the passage, we need to be able to answer the question, would it or would it not be historically possible or feasible for a particular passage to come to pass literally. If the nature of the cosmos is such that there is enough flexibility built into the way creation is set up that the passage can be understood literally, then it must be understood literally.
Let's look at a couple of passages. The first is Isaiah 65:25, "The wolf and the lamb shall grace together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain, says the LORD." Now we need to ask the question, could this in fact occur literally? On the basis of the changes we've seen, we've studied this and before the fall in Genesis 3 this was true, all the animals originally created were created as gramnivorous, herbivores, they ate grass. So this would be nothing more than reversing the curse backward, the curse that came in Genesis 3, developed those animals, certain animals, into carnivores, meat eaters. This would be reversing that element of the curse. So it is feasible, it's possible, and it makes sense in a Biblical context.
Another passage that they would go to to argue for non-literal interpretation would be Micah 5:5-6. "And this One will be our peace. When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels," notice, this is a reference to the invasion that comes at the end time related to the antichrist and it calls him an "Assyrian." Now Assyria was destroyed in the ancient world, but the antichrist is going to be an Assyrian by heritage. He may know that, we may not be able to pick that out now and there are some people who would argue on the basis of this passage that the antichrist really comes out of Iran or Iraq rather than out of the Revived Roman Empire and we will look at some of those issues as we go through Daniel because I think Daniel makes it clear he comes out of the revival of the Roman Empire in what is now western Europe. So, "when the Assyrian," that's the antichrist, invades our land, when he trampled on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men.  And they will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod at its entrances; and He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he attacks our land and when tramples our territory."
Now the amill and post mill would say well, see, you can't take that literally because they're going to be using swords and other passages talk about horses, and see, we've gone way beyond that in terms of modern warfare and modern technology. But the mistake that's being made there, I think, is that we're assuming that in the future times they're going to have all of modern technology available to them. And just to point out the fallacy of that, we don't know how it's going to work out or what's going to take place, but just look… here we are today, living in the year 2001 in America and California is periodically experiencing these rolling blackouts, and there's indications that that could affect other things. Now when you plug this into the context of the Tribulation, and the fact that there are going to be all these things happen in the heavens, that there are going to be all of these geologic disaster, there's going to be earthquakes, almost 40% of the earth's population is going to be killed in these tremendous disaster, natural disasters that take place during the Tribulation, wouldn't that have some impact on the production and the use of technology and even the use of power. It may be such that as a result of all of the judgments starting in the middle of the Tribulation that man is forced to give up the technology of modern warfare and go back to more primitive warfare based on the use of horses and swords and not being able to use computers and electricity.
So we just have to wait to see how this is played out, but the reality is, the principle is that when you look at all the prophecy that has been fulfilled to date, especially all the prophecies related to the incarnation of Christ, the First Coming, they were all literal. They were not figurative, they were not allegorical, they were not general, they were specific and literal. So we can expect that just as all prophecies fulfilled to date have been literal, all future prophecies will be fulfilled literally.
The second thing we need to understand is the impact of the principle of the creation mandate. At the creation of man God said, Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Man was created to rule. Genesis 1:27, "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  And God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living that move on the earth." The point is, man was created to subdue nature and to rule over nature as God's representative in the angelic conflict. If, according to amillennialism, there is no resolution where man rules and reaches the complete fulfillment of this mandate, then man never fully resolves the angelic conflict, because part of our role is to rule as God's representative over this creation and demonstrate that true rulership is not on the basis of self-rule and self-involvement, self-emphasis like Satan has in his arrogance, but it is through humility and subservience to God and under divine authority. So in the millennial kingdom the saints of this age will be ruling and reigning with Christ and we will be demonstrating that the creature can only be what God intends him to be if he is completely subordinate to the authority of God, and it is in that we resolve key elements in the angelic conflict.
So we look at all of these passages and it leads us to say that Scripture must be interpreted literally.
Now let's get back to Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Remember where we were, Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream, he's been tossing back and forth at night because of what he has seen in the dream. At this point in his career he has reached the pinnacle of human power; no king has ever had the power, no human being has ever had more wealth, no one has ever had more than Nebuchadnezzar had at this time. Some have been similar but none have had it greater than he. And yet he has this dream and in this dream he realizes that his position, his power, his empire will be threatened, it may not be permanent, and so he is seeking an answer. We'll have to wait till next time to come back and look at that answer, we are about out of time and rather than getting into this we'll just wait till next time to get into Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.