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Chiliasm: What the Scriptures Teach — post by Michael J. Findley

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The dissertation on Revelation by Dr. Charles Smith, The Apocalypse by Joseph Seiss (1865), or my Biblical Studies section on Revelation cover this in detail. This is more a definition than even a brief overview.

Daniel 9: 24-27: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (KJV)

Up to the point where the Messiah was cut off is now history. It was a prophecy when Daniel wrote this around 540 BC. Now we have the advantage of understanding historic events and applying that knowledge to the portions which are still prophetic. We know that the phrase translated “week” is the word seven. It means a period of seven years, not seven days. A modern translation helps our understanding some. (the ISV, International Standard Version)

Daniel 9:27: He will make a binding covenant with many for one week, and for half a week he will pause both the sacrifice and grain offerings. Destructive people will cause desolation on the pinnacle until it is complete and what has been decreed is poured out on the desolator.

The first word of verse 27, “He,” refers to the “prince that shall come.” The Apostle John calls him the Antichrist in I John and in the Apocalypse (Revelation). The binding covenant is what we call a treaty. While we do not know everything about this treaty, it allows the rebuilding of the temple and the resumption of Jewish sacrifices. In the middle of the week (3 1/2 years), the sacrifices are cut off and the temple is made desolate by an abomination.
Jesus referred to this verse in Matthew 24:15: When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand.) (KJV)

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So this passage was important to Jesus. He wants us to understand it. The outpouring of the Church Age began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It ends with an event we call the Rapture, the taking of the Church, the bride of Christ, to ever be with the Lord. The word “rapture” comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of 2 Thessalonians 4:17. “Shall be caught up” (harpagesometha). Second future passive indicative of harpazo, old verb to seize, to carry off like Latin rapio. (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

It has the same meaning as the Greek word harpazo 1) to seize, carry off by force 2) to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly 3) to snatch out or away [Thayer]

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep [died in Christ]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 KJV)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinking of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

This is clear doctrine. The amillennial position claims that these words do not mean what they say. It follows the allegorical method of Origen for John’s Apocalypse. Our position is simple. The words mean what they say. We do not have the option of “interpreting” John’s word to mean something they do not say. Ezekiel describes a future temple in great detail which was not Herod’s temple. Ezekiel’s temple and the sacrifices of that temple are still future.

Revelation 18 describes God’s judgment on this world’s system, called Babylon. Joel and Zechariah describe this same judgment. At the very end, the nations of the world gather to do battle against the LORD. It is called the battle of Armageddon, but it takes place over a period of time, perhaps as long as two weeks.

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“And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have piered, and they shall morn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” (Zechariah 12:9-11)

“I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem, to lay siege against it. The city will be capured, the houses will be ransacked, the women raped, and half fo the city will go into exile, but the remaining people will not be cut off from the city. ‘Then the LORD will go out to battle against those nations, waging war as in a day of battle. His feet will stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. Then the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. Then the Mount of Lives will be split in two from east to west, forming a very large valley, with half of the mountain moving toward the north and half toward the south. [Note: this is likely the event which causes the water to flow out of the temple Ezekiel wrote about.]

“You will run away through my mountain valley, because the valley of the mountains will extend as far as Azal. You will flee, as you fled from the earthquake during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah. And so the LORD my God will come, and all his holy ones will be accompanying you.’ [note: This is not the usual term for angel. Some speculate that we, the resurrected saints of the Church Age at the Rapture are these “holy ones.” We will ever be with the LORD, and He is leading His armies at this time.]

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‘At that time, the daylight will be neither bright nor overcast. It will be a unique day, known only to the LORD-neither daytime nor nighttime-and it will come about at twilight there will be light! At that time, flowing waters will run perennially from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half to the Mediterranean Sea [This means that the water flowing from the temple will continue throughout the Millennium. The following is a description of the Millennium.]

The LORD will be king over all the earth at that time. There will be one LORD, and his name the only one. The entire land will become like the Arabah plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem. It will be raised up and inhabited whier it is, from the Gate of Benjamin to the First Gate, then to the Corner Gate, to the Hananel Tower, and to the king’s winepress. People will live there, there will be no more destruction, and Jerusalem will be safely inhabited. [The following is probably looking back at the battle, war, of Armageddon at the end of the Great Tribulation.]

This will be the plague with which the LORD inflicts all of the people who have attacked Jerusalem: he will cause their flesh to rot away, even while they are standing on their feet. He will cause their eyes to rot away in their sockets, and their tongues to rot away in their mouths. At that time, they will be stricken with a terrible panic from the LORD. Everyone will attack each other. Judah, too, will fight at Jerusalem. Then the wealth of the surrounding nations will be gathered up: gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance. A similar plague will also strike horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. It will come about that all of the survivors of the nations who came against Jerusalem will come there from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, and to observe the Feast of Tents.

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If anyone from the families of the earth will not come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, there will be no rain for them. If the people of Egypt do not come to Jerusalem to take part, they will have no annual Nile overflow. A plague will come from the LORD to strike the nations who do not come to observe the Feast of Tents. This will be the punishment for Egypt and all nations who do not come to observe the Feast of Tents. At that time, there will be written on the bells of the horses: HOLINESS TO THE LORD and the pots in the Temple of the LORD will be like the bowls in front of the altar– every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be consecrated to the LORD of the Heavenly Armies. Everyone who offers sacrifices will come, will take them, and will cook in them. Furthermore, at that time, there will no longer be a Canaanite in the Temple of the LORD of the Heavenly Armies.’” (Zechariah 14:1-21 ISV)

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This thousand years of blessing ends with the battle of Gog and Magog, described in Ezekiel 38.

“Many days from now-in the latter years-you will be summoned to a land that has been restored from violence. You will be gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which formerly had been a continual waste, but which will be populated with people who have been brought back from the nations. All of them will be living there securely. You’ll arise suddenly, like a tornado, coming like a windstorm to cover the land, you and all your soldiers with you, along with many nations. This is what the Lord God says: ‘This is what’s going to happen on the very day you begin your invasion: You’ll be thinking, making evil plans, and boasting, “I’m going to invade a comprised of open country that is at rest, its people living confidently, all of whose inhabitants will be living securely, with neither fortification nor bars on their doors. I’m going to confiscate anything I can put my hands on. I’ll attack the restored ruins and the people who have been gathered together from the nations, who are acquiring livestock and other goods, and who live at the center of the world’s attention.”’” (Ezekiel 38:8-12 ISV)

“So it will be that on that day, when Gog invades the land of Israel,” declares the LORD GOD, “my zeal will ignite my anger. Because of my zeal and burning anger at that time there will be a massive earthquake throughout the land of Israel. I’m going to shake the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the wild beasts, all the creatures that crawl on the earth, and every single human being who lives on the surface of the earth. Mountains will collapse, as will their mountain passages and every wall will fall to the ground. Then I’ll call for war against Gog on top of every mountain,” declares the Lord GOD, “and every weapon of war will be turned against their fellow soldier. I’ll judge them with disease and bloodshed. I’ll shower him, his soldiers, the vast army that accompanies him with a torrential flood, hailstones, fire, and sulfur. I will exhalt myself and demonstrate my holiness, making myself known to many people who will learn that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38:18-23 ISV)

Isaiah continues these events: “For the LORD is angry against all the nations, and furious against all their armies. He has doomed them to destruction, and given them up to be slaughtered. Their slain will be thrown out; and as for their dead bodies-their stench will ascend; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. The valleys will be split, all the stars in the heavens will fall down, and the skies will be rolled up like a scroll. All their starry host will fade away like leaves withering on a vine, or fruit withering on a fig tree. (Isaiah 34:2-4 ISV)

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John’s Apocalypse (unveiling) is mostly a repetition of Old Testament prophecies. He adds details, such as two resurrections and one thousand years in chapter twenty, but the main timeline of revelation is found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, and Zechariah. If all of these are nothing more than allegory, then what makes anything in the Bible factual information? The entire death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, using this method could be just an allegory of something, though no one knows what.

The allegorical method makes the reader or interpreter the authority instead of God. It replaces “Thus saith the LORD!” with “What do I want these words to mean?” While every possible literary device is used somewhere in the Bible, the Bible is not an extended allegory with no real meaning outside of the mind of the reader.

Image Credits:

Four Horsemen by Waiting for the Word Flikr Commons

Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Out of Print, released under Creative Commons License as a co-operative project. Wikimedia Commons

The Whore of Babylon Russian engraving 1800s Source/Photographer First upload to en.wikipedia by en:User:Ihcoyc as Whorebab.jpg Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

John Martin The Great Day of His Wrath Medium oil on canvas Credit line Photo: Tate, London Source/Photographer RQFpgg6aFrwrtw at Google Cultural Institute Tate Images Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

View of the Tapestry of the Apocalypse in Angers, France Author Kimon Berlin, user: Gribeco Wikimeida Commons

Chris Tolworthy The New Jerusalem from Revelation 20. A colored version of a Gustav Dore woodcut. Flikr Commons

Title screen from Revelation – The Last Cosmic Battle Parkside Church YouTube August 25, 2014 http://goo.gl/ulPPKU (Inclusion of this image does not imply endorsement of this church or its teaching. It is simply included as an illustration for the post.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Chiliasm — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Our authority is the Word of God and not the opinions of men. But the church historian Philip Schaff had to admit that “The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism; that is, the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Bactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine opposed it).” (History of the Christian Church, Volume II:Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325)

Schaff continues in the following paragraphs to depart from his usual scholarship and attack Chiliasm while espousing the virtues of his amillennial belief system. He does define Chiliasm with considerable clarity in this section.

“The Christian chiliasm is the Jewish chiliasm spiritualized [unclear what Philip Schaff means by this statement] and fixed upon the second, instead of the first, coming of Christ. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan. The millennium is expected to come not as a result of historical process but as sudden supernatural revelation.” (ibid)

The next blog in this series will examine what the Scriptures teach. This blog will only correct some of the false charges made by believers in amillennialism.

The first false charge is that the premillinnial position is based on movies such as the Left Behind series. This does not deserve an answer. Please examine the evidence.

The second is that Chiliasm is turning a minor doctrine which we can disagree about into an issue of fellowship. When the Scriptures are presented in the next blog, you may decide for yourself how important this doctrine is. But it is up to the followers of amillennialism to break fellowship. We will continue to teach what the Scriptures teach. We teach the whole council of God and this is only one doctrine. You are responsible for doctrines you choose to ignore.

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The third false charge is that Chiliasm is new doctrine developed in the early 1800s. As Philip Schaff, himself an amillennialist, wrote, that is simply not true. Some knowledge of church history is helpful to understand this point.

During much of the time from the resurrection of the Messiah to the council of Nicea in AD 325, Christianity was illegal. (An interesting sidebar: the formal charge against Christians was atheism, for refusing to worship the Roman gods.) At times Christians were tortured and executed for their faith. At times all Christian literature was burned and those possessing Christian literature were executed. This is called the Ante (before) Nicene period, before the Council of Nicea. All available Christian literature from the Ante-Nicene period was well hidden and someone was willing to die for it. There were no well thought out systematic theologies from this time period. There are no longer original Christian documents of any kind except the books of the New Testament.

Papias (AD 60-130), bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, (in Asia Minor) wrote: “there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth.” (Papias, book 4)

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Justin Martyr (AD 100-165), from his Dialogue With Trypho: “there will be resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.”

Justin Martyr also wrote, “there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.”

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Irenaeus (AD 130-202) Bishop of Gaul (modern Lyons, France). In Against Heresies he wrote, “John, therefore, did distinctly foresee the first ‘resurrection of the just,’ and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth, and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonize.” (Book 5, chapter 36, paragraph 3)

“But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom.” (Book 5, chapter 30, paragraph 4)

Tertullian (AD 155-240) “But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem, ‘let down from heaven,’ which the apostle also calls ‘our mother from above;’ and, while declaring that our citizenship is in heaven, he predicts of it that it is really a city in heaven. This both Ezekiel had knowledge of and the Apostle John beheld.” Against Marcion, book 3, chapter 25

 

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These four men are representative samples from a time when few documents were preserved.

While modern amillennialists claim premillennialism is a new doctrine, it was the only doctrine of the orthodox Ante-Nicene church. Origen of Alexandria founded a school of thought which allegorized the Old Testament. He stripped the law and the prophets of their historical content and replaced that with inventions from his own mind. This “Alexandrian School” was universally condemned as heresy by Ante-Nicene Christians. Origen and the Alexandrian School were the fountain and foundation of amillennialism. Until embraced by Eusebius and Augustine of Hippo, amillennialism was condemned by the Church.

To repeat the thesis, the Word of God is our authority. But there is abundant testimony that the Ante-Nicene church was Pre-millennial.

Image Credits:

Saint James the Just (whose judgment was adopted in the decree of Acts 15:19-29, c. 50 AD.), Public Domain,  from the days.ru open catalogue

Phillip Schaff, Public Domain, source unknown

Attributed to Pasquale Ottino (1578–1630) Title “St. Mark writes his Evangelium at the dictation of St. Peter” 17th century oil on canvas Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
Source/Photographer http://www.europeana.eu

Apostle John the Theologian on the island of Patmos. Canvas, oil Author Andrey Mironov

Quintus Florens Tertullian, 160-220, church father and theologian. Source: http://www.higherpraise.com/preachers/tertullian.htm

all images from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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