WILL THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BE ESTABLISHED BEFORE THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST?
Some students of God’s Word believe that the kingdom of Heaven is not the millennial reign and will be established in an age that follows the dispensation of the mystery, but precedes the second coming of Christ. I disagree with that view and will present the arguments for my view that the kingdom of Heaven is the millennial reign of Christ, and will come after His return to earth. I will also present arguments for the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven and my reasons for disagreeing with those arguments. Of course, as with any other doctrine, not everyone who holds to the fundamental doctrine will agree on every point of that doctrine. I would appreciate knowing of any arguments that have not been addressed so that this paper may be as thorough as possible.
I will present the following arguments that, in my opinion, prove that the kingdom of Heaven will be established after the return of Christ.
“UPON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN”
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began”.
Those who believe in a pre-advent kingdom believe that this passage speaks of Christ’s reign of that kingdom while He is in heaven, i.e. before His return and before the millennial reign. Let us consider this passage carefully.
Does the phrase “times of refreshing” refer to the same exact time as the phrase “the times of restitution”? I believe it does. Leaving the question of when, in relation to Christ’s return this will occur aside for the moment, let us consider the character of each word. The Greek word translated “refreshing” occurs only once in the New Testament but a related word, translated “restore” occurs in Acts 1:6 where the disciples asked the Lord if He would at that time restore the kingdom to Israel. In other words, the English translation “refreshing” and the related word translated “restore” give us a good idea of the way it was intended to be understood.
But what about “the times of restitution”? “Restitution” implies something that is brought back to what is intended. That does not carry the exact same meaning as “refreshing”/”restore”. I believe that the phrase “times of restitution” emphasizes the truth that the kingdom of Israel had failed badly since the glory days of Solomon, but when the Lord returns He will reestablish it far beyond the glory of the times of Solomon. So the “times of restitution” and “the times of refreshing” are two different aspects of the same thing.
Now let us turn our attention to the question of whether this passage refers to the millennial reign when Christ will be on earth or whether it refers to a supposed pre-millennial reign when Christ is still in heaven. We read in verse 19, “….that your sins will be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord“. The most obvious reading of the phrase “shall come from the presence of the Lord” is that the Lord will be personally present for the times of refreshing. Some have argued, however, that the word translated “presence” does not always mean personal presence, and that is quite true. They suggest that the presence spoken of in 3:19 refers to His presence in heaven. But verse 20, in my opinion explains that it is indeed personal presence on earth as we read, “And He shall send Jesus Christ……”. We have in the space of two verses the phrase “the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” and the phrase “and He shall send“. When one considers “presence” and “shall send” in the same thought, I believe the only conclusion possible is that the “presence” will be a personal presence when Christ is sent to earth.
As mentioned above, I believe that “the times of refreshing” refer to the same time period as “the times of restitution”, but that each term emphasizes a different aspect of that time. That means of course, that when we read in verse 19 of the times of refreshing, we should expect to read that the times of refreshing will occur at the same time relative to Christ’s return as the times of restitution, i.e. after the return of Christ. And that is exactly what we do read.
We read in Acts 3:21 of Jesus Christ, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things…..”. This verse tells us that Christ will remain in heaven until the times of restitution. In other words, when the times of restitution come, heaven will no longer receive Christ, i.e. He will return to earth.
I believe a discussion of the Greek word translated “until” would be helpful. The Greek word is “akri” and is found in Acts 1:1-2 reads, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up…….”. The “former treatise” to which Luke referred is obviously his Gospel. In Luke 24:51 we read that Jesus was taken up. That means that Luke’s Gospel recorded the things Christ did and taught until Christ was taken up. In other words, “until” means the end of something. So too in Acts 3:21 “until” marks the end of that time in which the heaven will receive Christ.
Let us consider a few more verses in which the Holy Spirit uses the same word so that we might come to a correct understanding of it. For example it is used in Gal. 4:1-2 which reads, “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father”. Here too, the word translated “until” means the end of something. So in this context the child will be under tutors until the appointed time, i.e. he will no longer be under tutors and governors when the appointed time comes. So too, the heavens will no longer receive Christ when the times of restitution will come and He will return to earth.
With the Scripturally based meaning of the word translated “until” in mind, let us consider the phrase “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things”. This phrase tells us that heaven will no longer receive Christ when the times of restitution will come. Obviously, when heaven no longer receives Christ, He will return to earth. Therefore, the times of restitution will be seen when Christ comes to earth.
Some have suggested that there should be an ellipsis to complete Acts 3:21, and should read, “until the times of restitution (is completed“). That would mean that Christ will remain in heaven until after the times of restitution. That would, of course, make the times of restitution before the return of Christ. Let us consider this phrase once again.
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things”. As noted above the word “until” denotes the end of the time in which Christ is received in heaven. But by adding the phrase suggested by some, (“until the times of restitution is completed“) the ellipsis completely changes the meaning of this verse from what is says. In other words, this verse tells us that Christ will remain in heaven until heaven no longer receives Him. And when it no longer receives Him He will return to earth and the times of restitution will come. But the ellipsis suggested by some tells us that Christ will remain in heaven until the end of the times of restitution “is completed”. That is simply not what this verse tells us.
Let us look at this key passage one more time. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began”.
The times of refreshing will come from the personal presence of Christ on earth when God shall send Jesus Christ. And when Christ will no longer be received in heaven, He will come to earth and the time of restitution will have come. That means that this passage in Acts 3 refers to the millennial reign of Christ when he comes to earth, not to a supposed pre-millennial reign from heaven.
But some have suggested that this passage does not tell us that Christ will come at the very beginning of the times of restitution, but that He will come at various times during the times of restitution and return to heaven until His parousia. In order to establish the veracity, or the lack thereof, of that suggestion we will consider a passage from Hosea, discussed below.
Hosea 5:15. reads, “I (Christ, see verses 13-14) will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early”. We read in this verse that Christ will return to His place. His place must be heaven as that as where He returned. When will Christ leave heaven? When Israel acknowledges their offence. When will that be? That question is answered in Rev. 1:7, “Behold He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him….”. And to what “affliction” does Hosea refer in the phrase, “in their affliction they will seek Me…”? Given that we read in Matt, 24:29-30 that Christ will return in the clouds “immediately after the tribulation”, I believe we must conclude that the affliction of Hosea 5 refers to the great tribulation of the end times. So we have the following:
1) Christ will remain in heaven until Israel acknowledges their offence.
2) Israel will acknowledge their offence as Christ is seen in the clouds.
3) And as Israel acknowledges their offence they will seek Him in their “affliction”, i.e. the tribulation that will be immediately before His coming in the clouds.
Now let us consider how this fits into the question at hand, which is: will Christ, as some have suggested, come to earth and return to heaven during the times of restitution and then come back permanently at His parousia? We are told in Hosea 5 that Christ will return to earth after Israel acknowledges their offence. We have learned that Israel will acknowledge their offence when Christ appears in the clouds.
Let us put Hosea 5 together with Acts 3. When Christ will be seen in the clouds Israel will acknowledges their offence and heaven will no longer “receive” Him, so He will return at the beginning of the times of restitution. I believe that these two passages leave no room for the suggestion that Christ will return during the times of restitution, i.e. before His parousia.
The only arguments I have seen in an attempt to disprove my view is that 1) Hosea 5 does not refer to Christ, but to the Shekinah glory and 2) Rev. 1:7 does not say specifically that Israel acknowledged their offence. Let us consider those thoughts.
1) Is it the Shekinah glory that will “return to My place”? The suggestion is that when the remnant of Israel returned to rebuild the temple they prayed the Lord’s forgiveness and the Shekinah glory filled the rebuilt temple . That would mean that the Shekinah glory had left Solomon’s Temple when it was destroyed by the Babylonians and returned to the temple built after the 70 year captivity. The problem with this view is that we are not told that the Shekinah glory filled the temple built after the captivity. I am not saying that it did not, only that we don’t know if it did because we are not told. Therefore, this suggestion is without Scriptural evidence.
2) It has been suggested that Rev. 1:7 does not say specifically that Israel acknowledged their offence and that the phrase “acknowledge their offence” refers to the remnant of Israel acknowledging their sin. There are two difficulties with that view.
a) The Hebrew word translated “offence” in Hosea 5:15 (“they will acknowledge their offence”) is “asham”. Dr. E. W. Bullinger defines “asham” as, “…a breach of commandment done in ignorance, but when the guilt is proved, requiring atonement”. I believe the first several occurrences of the word will bear out that definition. The first occurrence of “asham” is in Lev. 4:13. Lev. 4:13-14 reads, “And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which should not be done, are guilty (Heb. asham) . When the the sin, which they have sinned against, is known, then the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord….”.
And the second occurrence is found in Lev. 4:22, “When a ruler hath sinned and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty” (Heb. asham).
Not every occurrence of the word is used in a context which explicitly tells that the sin is in ignorance. However, I believe that when a Jew reads the word “asham” in any context they would understand the sin to be committed in ignorance as that is how it is used in the first occurences. For example, we read in Lev. 6:4, “Then it shall be that because he hath sinned and is guilty (Heb. ahsam).…”. If a man had sinned, he is guilty, so the phrase “and is guilty” is redundant unless one understands that the sin was from ignorance.
Coming back then to the question of the offence of Israel mentioned in Hosea 5:15. I’m sure the reader is well aware of our Lord’s prayer on the cross, i.e. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do“. So the Hebrew word translated “offence in Hosea 5:15 definitely leads to the conclusion that it was indeed the crucifixion of Christ about which Hosea referred when he wrote of Israel acknowledging their offence. That is to say, we know that Israel did indeed commit that offence in ignorance and therefore the crucifixion of Christ fits the definition of the Hebrew word used in Hosea 5:15.
Did the remnant of Israel acknowledge an offence in the sense that the Hebrew word means. I do not believe so. Israel’s sin that led to their captivity was the constant sin of idolatry and trespassing against the Law of Moses. That law was known to them, therefore theirs was not an “offence” (Heb. asham) as it cannot be said that they were ignorant of the laws they were breaking.
b) It is true that the verse quoted from Rev. 1:7 does not state specifically that Israel acknowledged their offence. But let us consider the passage from Zechariah from which Rev. 1:7 is quoted. We read in Zech. 12:10-14, “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 pierced, and the shall mourn 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. and the land shall mourn every family apart: the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shemei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family, and their wives apart”.
While it is true that this passage does not say specifically that Israel will acknowledge their offence, I believe that the mourning spoken of in this passage tells us that they will indeed acknowledge their offence.
So Hosea 5:15 tells us that Christ will remain in heaven until Israel acknowledges their offence, and that acknowledgement will be made at the second coming of Christ. That means that Acts 3:19-21 tells us that Christ will come at the beginning of the times of restitution (the millennial reign) not, as suggested, several times before.
We read in Ezek. 43:4-7, “And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east, so the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house. and I heard Him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me: and He said unto me, ‘Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever; and My holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile neither they nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcasses of their kings in their high places'”.
It has been suggested that Rev. 21:22, tells us that there will be no temple in the millennial reign. If that were true it would mean that Ezek. 43 which obviously does speak of a temple, must be a passage, not about the millennium, but about the supposed pre-advent kingdom. But Rev. 21:22 comes in the context of the new Jerusalem, which follows the millennium and therefore does not prove that there is no temple in the millennium. Consider also that Rev. 7:14 speaks of those who were martyred in the tribulation and in the next verse we read, “Therefore are they (the martyred of the tribulation) before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple….”. The millennium follows the tribulation, therefore the most obvious conclusion is that this verse speaks of the martyrs serving in the millennial temple.
Now let us consider whether Ezek. 43 concerns the millennium or a supposed pre-advent kingdom. Note the phrase, “My holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile“. This will not be true of a supposed pre-advent kingdom because that kingdom is said to be before the tribulation. Yet we know that many of Israel will indeed defile God’s holy name by their worship of the beast in the tribulation. Therefore it cannot be said that Israel will no longer defile God’s name in a supposed pre-tribulation kingdom. Note also the phrase, ” by their whoredom”. The “whoredom” is, of course the worship of other gods. Again. the tribulation will be a time when many of Israel will worship the beast and their whoredom will be prevalent. So this passage cannot refer to anything but a period after the tribulation. The period after the tribulation is, of course, the millennial reign of Christ.
Further, note the phrase ” the place of the soles of My feet”. Surely that phrase tells us of His personal presence or it would have no meaning at all. So Ezek. 43 tells of a time when there will be a temple and when Christ will be present on earth, not reigning from heaven, thus proving, not only that there is a temple in the millennium, but that Christ will be personally present on earth.
“UPON MY HOLY MOUNTAIN”
Ps. 2:6 reads in part, “Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion“. But verse 4 of this Psalm reads in part, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision”. The question is: will the Lord reign from heaven as verse four implies to those who believe in the pre-advent kingdom, or will the Lord rule from earth. We are told that He will rule from His “holy hill of Zion”. Our question is answered once we determine whether His “holy hill” is on earth or in heaven.
Is. 27:13 helps establish the fact that “the holy mountain” is on earth. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem“. This verse speaks of those in the land of Assyria and in the land of Egypt, both of whom are obviously on earth. And Isaiah specifically tells us that the holy mount is at Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem does not come into view until after the millennial reign of Christ, so it is not the new Jerusalem that is in view here, it is the Jerusalem on earth. Obviously, if Jerusalem is on earth and the holy mount is in Jerusalem, the holy mount must be on earth.
Is. 56:7 is yet another passage that makes it abundantly clear that the holy mountain is on earth. “Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar: for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people”. There will be sacrifices and burnt offerings in this place. Surely there will not be sacrifices and burnt offerings in heaven. Therefore, we must conclude that they will be on earth. If the sacrifices and burnt offerings will be on earth, so too is the house of the Lord on earth, and so too is “My holy mountain” on earth.
Is. 57:13 reads in part, “but he that putteth his trust in Me shall posses the land, and shall inherit My holy mountain”. Here the “holy mountain” is connected to possessing the land. Here again, it is an indication that the holy mountain is on earth.
Ezek. 20:40, “For in Mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve Me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things”. The Lord promises in this verse that He will accept them “there”. Where? “In the land”. Because He will accept them in the Land His “holy mountain” must be in the Land, i.e. on earth.
Dan. 9:16, “O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness I beseech Thee let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain: because of our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy People are become a reproach to all that are about us”. Unless one is ready to say that those around Jerusalem who hold Jerusalem as a reproach, are in heaven, we must conclude that Jerusalem and Israel are on earth. If Jerusalem is on earth, so too is the holy mountain.
Because God will rule from His holy mountain, and the holy mountain is on earth, we must conclude that God will rule from earth.
But what about verse 4 of Ps. 2 which states that “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision”? The note in the Companion Bible on the word “Lord” tells us that the primitive texts have “Jehovah”, not “adoni” as the later texts have. Jehovah is God and God is spirit. Christ is both Jehovah and the manifestation of Jehovah. So as Jehovah in His office of King reigns on earth, Jehovah, Who is spirit will remain in heaven. Let us not forget that while Christ was on earth in the Gospel period, Jehovah also was in heaven as spirit. And to take that one step further, while Christ died on the cross, God, who is spirit certainly did not die, He was in heaven.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
One reason for the controversy surrounding the supposed pre-advent kingdom is that those who hold to that position see that in some scriptures the terms “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of Heaven” are used interchangeably, but they do not see that that is not always the case.
In order to make my point more clear, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to a principle that is, in my opinion, overlooked, to at least some degree, by most dispensationalists. That is the principle that some passages are not written nor do they refer to individuals as part of a nation or as members of a church, they are written to and/or refer to people as human beings apart from their dispensational standing, i.e. apart from their national origins. For example, we read in Rom. 6:8, “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”. It is true, of course, that this verse is written in an epistle that was written during the Acts period and therefore written to those of the previous dispensation. It is also true that this verse is equally true of believers in the present dispensation.
My point is that we must consider more than just to whom or in which dispensation a passage is written if we are to correctly understand what God has for us. We must also bear in mind that some passages are written to people as human beings totally apart from whether they are part of a nation or nations, or whether they are part of the church.
To emphasize the importance of this principle I ask the readers indulgence as we consider Israel’s Old Testament lo-ammi period. We read in Hos. 1:9 of the prophecy of Israel becoming lo-ammi, i.e. “not My People”. That prophecy was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple and carried away captive many of Israel. We know that Daniel who along with his three friends and Esther and her uncle Moradacia were all believers who were faithful to God and to His law. But they too were carried away captive. If we see the term “lo-ammi”, i.e. “not My People” as referring to individuals we must assume that Daniel and the other faithful of Israel were no longer God’s. What does that mean? Does that mean that they were no longer His children? Does it mean that He no longer cared for them? Does it mean that they lost their salvation? I believe the answer to those questions must be a resounding “no”. Once one is a child of God he is always a child of God, and God always cares for him as such, and once one is saved he is always saved.
Here’s my point: Israel as a nation was “not My people”. But individual believers of Israel who had remained faithful to Him were still His children, His loved ones etc. If we do not see the difference between individuals and a nation we can be led to great error in our understanding of God’s Word.
We are now ready to begin our study of the kingdom of God. As we begin that study I should point out that where Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of Heaven”, the other Gospel writers use the phrase “kingdom of God”. While on earth, our Lord spoke in Aramaic. When Matthew translated the Aramaic into Greek he used the figure of speech, Metonymy of the Subject. But when the other Gospel writers translated the Aramaic they translated the phrase literally. Dr. Bullinger writes in his Appendix number 114 in the Companion Bible, “Now heaven is frequently used by the Figure Metonymy (of the subject) for God Himself, Whose dwelling is there”. Examples of the use of this figure of speech are found several times in the Old Testament. Daniel 4:26 for example reads, “The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules”. It is clear that “Heaven” is put for God, Who rules. And in the New Testament we read in the parable of the prodigal son, “The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you. …..” (Luke 15:21). He sinned, not against a place, but against a Person, God.
As mentioned above, Matthew is the only writer to use the term “kingdom of Heaven”. But because Mark and Luke use the term “kingdom of God” to translate our Lord’s words in Aramaic, many conclude that the term “kingdom of God” is always used in reference to the kingdom of Heaven, i.e. both terms always refer to the exact same thing. I would like to address that thought.
Matt. 13:42-43 of one of the parables of the kingdom of Heaven explaining that some will be cast out into outer darkness. Let us assume for the moment that the term “kingdom of Heaven always refers to the kingdom of God. Otis Q. Sellers, who believed that the term “kingdom of God” always means the same as the term “kingdom of Heaven, defines the kingdom of God in his article number 27 as, “a period of time when this earth and all nations upon it would be governed by God”. If that is true then where will those of the parables be cast? That is to say, if, the kingdom of God is God’s reign over the earth, there is no place to be cast. But if we see that the kingdom of Heaven is Christ’s millennial rule of Israel wherein will live only believers, and that the term “kingdom of God” is sometimes used for the kingdom of Heaven then all is clear.
In short, sometimes the two terms are meant to be understood as referring to the Land of Israel in the millennial reign of Christ. But sometimes it is to be understood differently (that will be explained below). The fact that the two terms sometimes refer to the same thing, does not mean that the two terms are always meant to be understood in just one way.
In the New Testament the phrase “kingdom of God” is used in two different ways. It is used 1) of Christ’s reign over the nation of Israel, i.e. the kingdom of Heaven. And it is used 2) of Christ’s reign over individual believers as human beings, apart from their dispensational standing or national origins. Let us look at the Scriptures which speak of the two ways in which the phrase “kingdom of God” is used.
1) It is used of Christ’s reign over the nation of Israel.
As we compare for example Matthew 4:17 with Mark 1:15 we shall see that both Gospel writers are recording the same event. But where Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of Heaven” Mark uses the phrase “kingdom of God”.
2) The phrase “Kingdom of God” is also used of God’s reign, not of a nation, but over individual believers apart from their dispensational standing.
In John 3:3 for example, it is clear that what was intended was that only believers, i.e. individuals apart from their national origins can see the kingdom of God. “…. unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. The phrase is used in the same way in John 3:5, “…unless a man is born of spirit and water, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. These verses obviously have to do with individual salvation unto eternal life. Salvation is an individual matter of faith, not a national matter of blessings. Therefore, when we read of the kingdom of God in relation to salvation, we are reading of His reign over individuals, not His reign over a nation. (Some believe that Jn. 3 is a passage about the re-birth of the nation of Israel. I believe that the paper on this web-site on being born again will prove from Scripture that this passage is not about the nation of Israel, it is about individuals as human beings apart from their dispensational standing.)
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH
As mentioned above, one of the difficulties with the pre-advent kingdom of God is the misunderstanding of the term “kingdom of God”. O. Q. Sellers defines the term “kingdom of God” in his article number 27 as, “a period of time when this earth and all nations upon it would be governed by God”. Note that this definition puts the kingdom of God on earth. That means that when we read of the kingdom of God we are reading of God’s kingdom on earth. But we read in Col. 4:11, “…..These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God“. This tells us that after the end of the Acts period Paul and his fellow workers were working unto the earthly kingdom. That would mean, of course, that the calling of the church of the dispensation of the mystery is to earth. I believe the church is called to heaven for the following reasons:
1) We read in Eph. 2:5-6, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ….. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. As we combine verse 5 which tells us that we were quickened “with Christ” with verse 6 which tells us that we were “raised up”, I believe we may conclude that we are not only quickened with Christ, but also raised up with Him. If we were, as this passage tells us, quickened with Christ, and raised up with Christ, logic demands that we were also made to sit together with Christ, Who is now seated in heavenly places. In short, because we were made to sit together with Christ, and Christ is in the heavens of Gen. 1:1, so too are we in the heavens of Gen. 1:1.
Note that Eph. 2:6 is put in the past tense, “hath raised” and “made us sit”. Some believe that because while we are reading this verse it is obvious that we have not already been raised and seated with Him, that this verse should not be taken literally and therefore does not tell us that the church is called to “far above the heavens”. There is a figure of speech being used in this verse. It is the figure of speech called “Heterosis”. The Companion Bible defines “Heterosis” as, “Exchange of one …tense …..for another”. Let us consider other scriptures that use the figure of speech, “Heterosis”.
Isaiah 53 was written hundreds of years before the coming of Christ to earth to die on the cross. But we read in verse 3, “He is despised and rejected of men”. Verse 4, “Surely He hath borne our griefs”. “Yet we did esteem Him stricken”. Verse 6, “the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Verse 7, “He was oppressed and was afflicted”. Verse 8, “He was taken from prison and from judgment”. Verse 9, “He made His grave with the wicked”. Are we to believe that Christ did not bear our griefs because the figure of speech “Heterosis” is used? Or that God did not lay on Christ our iniquities because of the use of this figure of speech? The answer is so obvious as to not require further comment. The figure of speech is used to assure us that these things will be accomplished.
But some believe that Eph. 2:5-6 speaks of the believer’s position, rather than to his calling. That is to say, they reason that the church is seated with Christ, but Eph. 4:10 which speaks of Christ in heavenly places is not a verse which tells us where He is, but it tells us of His exalted position. Let us pursue that thought.
We read in Eph. 4:10, “He that descended is the same also That ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things”. To be sure this passage does compare Christ’s position before and after His resurrection and ascension. But Paul’s point is that because Christ was literally in the grave that proves His humiliation. And that because He was literally raised far above all heavens that proves His glorification. While it is true that this passage is concerned with Christ’s position, it is clear that the places to which He descended and ascended point to the vast difference of His position. Because Christ was literally in the “lower parts of the earth” which illustrated His humiliation, then He must have been raised, literally, to the highest part of creation, i.e. far above all heavens which illustrates His glorification.
Let us come back then to Eph. 2:5-6, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ….. And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. Does this verse refer to our position? What is the believers position? Our position is that we are “in Christ”. What does being “in Christ” mean? I believe that as we consider the definition of the Greek word translated “in” in the phrase “in Christ” we will have a good start in answering that question. That Greek word is “en”. The Companion Bible defines “en” as, “…denotes being or remaining within, with the primary idea of rest and continuance”. So the position of all believers is that we are “in Christ”, and therefore have a sense of “rest and continuance” in Him.
Let us consider other passages that speak of being in Christ.
Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….”.
Rom. 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus”.
I Cor. 15:22, “in Christ shall all be made alive”.
II Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new”. These passages tell us of the blessings that are ours because of our position, i.e. because we are “in Christ”.
What is crucial to our question of whether this passage in Eph. 2 speaks of the believer’s position or to the calling is the fact that we are quickened together with Christ. Why is that important? It is important for two reasons: 1) If this passage were speaking of position, it would have to read “we are quickened etc. in Christ”. But it does not say “in” it says that we are quickened etc. together with Christ. 2) As discussed in the paragraphs above on Eph. 4:10, the passage in Eph. 4 does speak of Christ’s position, but that His position of humility and eventual glorification was illustrated by the fact that Christ descended to the lower parts of the earth and that he ascended far above the heavens. Therefore, we must see Christ literally going to those locations in order to appreciate Christ’s humiliation and His glorification.
The blessings recorded in Eph. 2:5-6 are given to all believers of the dispensation of the mystery because of our position, i.e. our position is that we are “in Christ”.
2) The second reason for my belief that the church is called to heaven centers around Eph. 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him”. The note in the Companion Bible on the phrase “gather together” reads, “to sum up (lit. “head up”). Gr. anakephalaioomai. See Rom. 13:9….”. Let us look at Rom. 13:9 which reads, “……and if there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehended……”. The phrase “briefly comprehended” is the translation of the same Greek word translated “gather together” in Eph. 1:10. It is clear that, as the note in the Companion Bible suggests, “sum up” or “head up” is the correct meaning of the word. My point is this: Eph. 2:10 speaks of heading up, or summing up, things in heaven and earth. The context is about human beings, so human beings will be in heaven and on earth. I believe that because human beings will indeed be in heaven, and Eph. 2:5-6 tells us that the church is seated with Christ in heaven, we may conclude that the human beings in heaven are those who are members of the church which is His body.
In short, the church is called to heaven, not to earth. Therefore, the definition of the term “kingdom of God” as pertaining to the earth must be incorrect. While it is very true that the term “kingdom of God” is sometimes used of the kingdom of Heaven (i.e. Christ’s millennial reign of Israel) that is only half the truth and half truth is not truth.
The following arguments for the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven will be discussed.
II THESS. 2:2
UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES THY FOOTSTOOL
“THE HEAVEN IS MY THRONE”
THE DAY OF THE LORD AND THE LORD’S DAY
THE COMING OF ELIJAH BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD
THE PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
THE GREEK WORDS USED OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
WAS ACTS TWO THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
THE WRITINGS OF O.Q. SELLERS
THE SEVENTY WEEKS OF DANIEL CHAPTER NINE
II THESS. 2:2 Day of the Lord
We read in II Thess. 2:1-3, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”.
According to the note in the Companion Bible the texts have “day of the Lord” instead of the “day of Christ”. In the context of this particular paper, it does not really influence the conclusion, but because the proponents of the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven seem to prefer “day of the Lord”, for the purposes of this paper, I will accept that phrase as the correct one.
In this passage Paul is telling the Thessalonians that what they had heard about Paul saying that the day of the Lord was “at hand” was not true. He seems to be saying that the day of the Lord is not at hand, and will not come until certain things have happened. But, we read in Matthew that John the Baptist proclaimed that “the kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. The day of the Lord immediately precedes the millennial reign of Christ. So the proponents of the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven point to an apparent contradiction between Paul and John the Baptist. That is to say, Paul writes that the day of the Lord is not at hand, and John the Baptist proclaimed that the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Therefore, as the argument goes, the kingdom of Heaven which is at hand, must be something different than the millennium which comes after the day of the Lord and is not at hand.
On the surface that makes very good sense. The problem with that argument however, is that as we study the phrase translated “at hand” in Matthew and in II Thessalonians, we will discover that they are a translation of two very different words. The Greek word in Matthew 3:2 is “engizo” and the Greek word in II Thess. 2:2 is “enisteemi”. These two words have meanings that are quite different from each other. That will be proved as we study how the Holy Spirit uses the Greek words. Please note, I am not accepting the definitions of man, but the usage by the Holy Spirit for the definitions.
“Engizo”, the word used in Matthew’s Gospel is usually translated “draw nigh”, “at hand”, “approacheth”, came near”. The meaning is clear from the way it is used by the Holy Spirit, and we need no opinion from man as to its meaning.
“Enisteemi”, the Greek word translated “at hand” in II Thessalonians is used seven times in the New Testament. The first occurrence is in Romans 8:38, where we read, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come…..”. In this verse, “enisteemi” is translated “present” and cannot mean “at hand”. Why? Because of the following phrase, “things to come”. If we translated “enisteemi: as “at hand” then the phrase ” things to come” is nothing more than a repetition because “at hand” implies things that will shortly come to pass. But it is clear that Paul’s argument includes both things present and things to come. Therefore, in Romans 8:38 “enisteemi” must mean “present”, i.e. things that are present, not things that are yet to come.
In I Cor, 3:22, “….or the world, or life or death or things present or things to come…”. We see the phrase “things present or things to come” and the same is true as was the case in Rom. 8:38. That is to say, if things present meant the same as things to come, the latter phrase would be redundant. Here again, the Greek “enisteemi” means “present”, not “at hand”.
The same Greek word is also used in I Cor. 7:26 where we read “it is good for the present distress”. Here again we have a correct translation for “enisteemi”. The context will show that the Greek word does not mean distress that is “at hand”, it means means distress that is present.
In Gal. 1:4 we read, “That He might deliver us from this present evil world”. This verse also uses “enisteemi”. The fact that Paul uses the phrase, “deliver us“, points to the conclusion that it is the present age that he has in mind, not the age at hand.
In Heb. 9:9 we read, “Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect….”. “Enisteemi” is also used in this verse and again translated , “present”. The context will show that the “times then present” refers to Old Testament times. Because we cannot say that during Old Testament times Old Testament times were “at hand” or “near”, once again, the word cannot mean “at hand”.
We come now to the two times where “enisteemi” is not translated “present” in KJV, i.e., II Tim. 3:1 and II Thess. 2:2. Both verses use the verb “enisteemi”, and conveys the sense of “being present“. We read in II Tim. 3:1, “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come“. The sense II Tim. 3:1 is that in the last days perilous times will be present, but, of course, in English we would not say “perilous times will be present”, but “perilous times shall come”. But the meaning of this verse is clearly that in the last days, perilous times will be present, not that perilous times will be at at hand.
We come now to II Thess. 2:2, “the day of the Lord is…..”. There is absolutely no reason to assume that in this one verse the Greek word means “at hand” when in every other occurrence it obviously means “present”. Therefore, I believe that Paul is saying that they should not be troubled by false reports that the day of the Lord is present.
If that is indeed Paul’s meaning in this verse, and I believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that it is, then there is no contradiction between John the Baptist and Paul. John the Baptist’s message was that the “kingdom of Heaven is at Hand” and Paul’s message is that the day of the Lord is not present. That being the case, there is no need to assume that the kingdom of heaven is a different event then the millennial reign of Christ.
We read in the Bible of two times, apart from Christ’s resurrection, that some will be resurrected and only two. The first one will be at the second coming of 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” (I Thess. 4:16). The second resurrection will be after the end of the millennial reign, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.…”. (Rev. 20:5). But the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven requires a resurrection before the second coming of Christ. Why? Because those who hold to that view believe that David will rule in the kingdom of Heaven, and David must be resurrected in order to do that. This argument, however, is not without merit as we do read in several passages in the Old Testament that David will reign in the future. I believe however, that David will reign on the Millennial throne as Christ’s regent, not on a pre-advent kingdom throne. Please see the paper on this web-site, Will David Reign As Christ’s Regent On the Millennial Throne? for the Scriptural evidence of this belief. The proponents of the pre-advent kingdom believe that Ezek. 37, which speaks of the resurrection of Israel, refers to the resurrection for the supposed pre-advent kingdom, not the millennial reign. But again, Scripture never mentions a resurrection before the second coming of Christ.
We will look at the arguments that are presented to the claim that there will be a resurrection before the return of Christ.
One argument for a resurrection before the second coming of Christ is based on I Cor. 15:23 which reads, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming”. Part of the argument centers around the fact that there is no definite article. So that verse reads literally, “But every man in his own order; Christ firstfruits”. This suggests to some that it is believers who are the firstfruits of resurrection, i.e. some believers will be resurrected before others. Let us consider that.
As mentioned above, part of the argument that verse 23 speaks of believers, not of Christ, as the firstfruits, is based on the fact that the word “the” in verse 23 is not in the Greek. Let us look once again at verse 23. “But every man in his own order; Christ firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming”. It is suggested that this should read, “But every man in his own order; Christ’s firstfruits”. In other words, by adding an apostrophe and making the proper noun “Christ” possessive case, it refers not to Christ, but to some believers (firstfruits) who will be raised before other believers. And by simply adding an apostrophe to indicate possessive case, the problem of no other resurrection being mentioned is solved. But we can also simply add a comma, so that it reads, “But every man in his own order: Christ, firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming”. How can we determine which is better, i.e. the apostrophe or the comma?. As always, by the context.
First of all, let us consider verse 20, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruit of them that slept”. Here Christ is actually referred to as “the firstfruit”. If Christ is the firstfruit in verse 20, He is the firstfuit in verse 23. That is to say, given that we are specifically told in verse 20 that it is Christ Who is “the firstfruit of them that slept”, I believe that verse 23 also refers to Christ as the “firstfruit”. ”
Secondly, note the rest of this verse, “afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming”. The latter phrase speaks of “they that are Christ’s”. We cannot put only some believers into the class of “they that are Christ’s” because all believers are Christ’s. But if we see Christ as the firstfruit from the dead, and believers, i.e. “they that are His”, as another class of those raised from the dead, all is clear.
Much is made of the Greek word translated “order” in the phrase “but every man in his own order” (I Cor. 15:23). It is said that that word is a military term and that Paul uses that word to indicate distinct “bands” or “classes”. I can agree with that. But what are those distinct classes? Are they, as some believe, different classes of believers to be raised in a specific order? Are there different classes of believers or are we all “in Christ”? To answer these questions we must look at the immediate context.
Verse 12 sets out the reason for this section of I Cor. 15, “Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen” And in verses 17-18 we read, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished”.
It is clear that some had been teaching the false doctrine that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul’s argument is that if there is no resurrection, then Christ is not raised. In verse 20 Paul sets out his argument that there is a resurrection, and that argument is based solely on the fact that Christ has been raised from the dead.
Let us now return to our question: who makes up these “distinct classes” indicated by the word “order”? I believe that the context is all about the fact that because Christ was raised from the dead, believers will also be raised. That is to say, Christ’s resurrection is key to the entire question. Paul’s argument is that because Christ had been raised, that proves that there is a resurrection. And because there is a resurrection, believers too will be raised. I believe therefore that the “classes” to be raised in their “order” is Christ, in a “class” by Himself, and afterwards believers in Christ, i.e all believers.
Another argument put forth for the pre-advent resurrection centers around Heb. 12:23 where we read the phrase “the church of the firstborn”. It is suggested that this phrase refers to believers who will be firstborn from the dead, i.e. resurrected before other believers, ( i.e. before the second coming of Christ) in accordance with an unmentioned resurrection.
In verse 18 of Heb. 12 we read, “For we are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest”. This obviously refers to the mount of Moses’ time. In verses 22-23 we read of the contrast between that mount and the mount Sion of the future, “But ye are come unto the mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in the heaven and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”. The question we must ask ourselves is: does the context point to resurrection? There is nothing about resurrection in this entire context. How then are we to understand this phrase? I believe the answer to that question lies in the fact that the word “of” indicates the Genitive of Possession. That is to say, the phrase “church of the firstborn” tells us that the church belongs to Christ, Who is the firstborn. It is Christ Who is the firstborn, and the church is Christ’s. To suggest that it is the church that is the firstborn from the dead is not consistent with the context.
In short, there is no Scriptural evidence to suggest a pre-advent resurrection, and that being the case, I must respectfully disagree with those who say that there is. If there is no pre-advent resurrection then David will not reign in a pre-advent kingdom of Heaven, believers will not be resurrected for a pre-advent kingdom of heaven and Ezekiel chapter 37, which speaks of resurrection, speaks of a resurrection for the millennial reign which will be established after the return of Christ.
UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES THY FOOTSTOOL
We read in Ps. 110:1, “The Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies Thy footstool‘”. Those that believe in the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven believe that Christ will be in heaven until His enemies have been conquered. This is, of course, exactly what Ps. 110:1 teaches. But their argument continues that there must be an age before the coming of Christ in which His enemies are conquered. That age, they believe is the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven.
The problem with that argument is that it is not supported by Scripture. We do know that Christ’s enemies must be conquered before Christ returns. Rev. 19:11- tells us exactly when His enemies will be conquered, i.e. at His coming. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse; and He That sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war………And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine lined, white and clean. And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, …….and I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him That sat on the horse, and against His army. …..and the remnant were slain with the sword of Him That sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh”
We have in this passage a description of the battle that will be fought by Christ and His army at His coming against His enemies. His enemies will be conquered at His coming. Therefore, because we are told exactly when Christ’s enemies will be conquered, i.e. at His second coming, there is no need to assume an age not mentioned anywhere in Scripture, in which His enemies will be conquered.
(It is true that death will not be conquered until after the millennial reign, but the context of Ps. 110 is clearly not speaking of death, it is speaking of the nations of the earth. Also, because death is clearly not conquered until after the millennial reign, the conquering of death does not impact on the question of when the kingdom of Heaven will be established.)
“THE HEAVEN IS MY THRONE”
Is. 66:1, Thus saith the Lord, ‘The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool'”. This verse is said to prove that God will reign from heaven for the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven. But is this passage talking about the kingdom of Heaven? I believe not.
Note verse 3 of Is. 66, “….he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations“. Verse 4 continues, “I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before Mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not”.
Bearing in mind that the new covenant, which states that Israel will have their hearts and minds filled with the law of Moses, will be in effect in the kingdom of Heaven, I believe we may conclude that this passage does not speak of the kingdom of Heaven. It refers, in my opinion, to Isaiah’s time, when Israel was so rebellious that they were about to be led away into 70 years of captivity. But it was true that the heaven was the Lord’s throne, even then.
But the argument is made that towards the end of the supposed pre-advent kingdom of heaven, Israel will not remain faithful and therefore Is. 66:1 speaks of the end of that kingdom. Let us consider that point.
In the paper on this web-site The Kingdom Of Heaven I give the Scriptural reasons for my belief that the kingdom of heaven is Christ’s reign in and over Israel. There is sufficient Scriptural evidence provided in that paper to prove that outside the land of Israel there will be none of the blessings enjoyed by those inside the land. Furthermore, only the righteous will be allowed inside the land of Israel for the kingdom of Heaven. One of the proofs of that statement is found in Ezek. 20 where we read of the gathering of Israel and we read in verse 38, “And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel.…”. Consider also Matt. 13:43, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father….”.
Furthermore, we are told that even some who may have been allowed entrance at first, will not remain in Jerusalem. Ps. 101:8 tells us that the land will be cleansed of all who are evildoers. “Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord”.
That being the case, Is. 66:3-4 which speaks of the wicked and those who commit abominations can not possibly refer to those in the kingdom of Heaven, because the wicked will be cut off from the land.
I believe that as we carefully consider Is. 66:1-2 we will see that it is a universal truth, i.e. God has been reigning over the earth from heaven since the six day creation.
Note the phrases, “Where is the house that ye build unto Me, and where is the place of My rest”. This is, of course, in reference to the Temple. Isaiah goes on, “all these things have been…? For all those things hath My hand made….”. I believe the point of these phrases is that the temple cannot hold God, one reason being that God has created all the things which were used to build the temple, making Him so much more than the elements that make up the temple and therefore, the temple itself.
So how does the point that the temple cannot hold God connect with the first part of the verse in Is. 66, i.e. that the earth is His footstool? Basically the point of this passage is that God is too great to be contained in a building, and His greatness is shown by the fact that God’s throne is in heaven and He reigns over earth. We cannot separate one phrase of this verse from others, they are all an integral part of the same truth, i.e. a universal truth.
Let us also consider the New Testament quote of Is. 66:1 which is found in Acts 7:49. I will quote verses 48-50, “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in Temples made with hands; as saith the prophet; ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool’: what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?”
What is the point of this passage in Acts 7? Again, please note the phrases, ” the Most High dwelleth not in Temples made with hands” and the last phrase, “Hath not my hand made all these things?” Stephen is saying once again, that God is so much bigger than to dwell in a Temple built by man. And his point is made even clearer by reminding the Israelites that Heaven is God’s throne and the earth His footstool”. In short, heaven has always been God’s throne and earth has always been His footstool. That is not a truth that is limited to a future time, it is something that has always been true since the creation. And that is also proved as we consider Matt. 5:34-35, “But I say unto you, Swear not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth: for it is His footstool…..”. If this were not a universal truth there would be no reason for first century Jews to refrain from swearing by heaven or earth. Let us also consider I Tim. 2:1-2, “I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; For kings and for all that are in authority; that we made lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty”. If God were not reigning over the earth prayer for kings and all in authority would be meaningless. We must conclude therefore that God reigning over the earth is a universal truth, .i.e. true since the six day creation.
However, many believe that because there is so much evil in the world that God is not reigning. I would like to address that thought.
We read in II Sam. 24:1 that God moved David to number Israel, an act that God punished Israel for with the death of 70,000 people. But we read in I Chron. 21:1 that it was Satan who moved David to number Israel. There are, of course, no contradictions in the Word of God. I believe that God allowed Satan to move David to number Israel.
But many would say “Oh that’s just not right. God couldn’t do such a thing. God would not punish all Israel for the sin of David when God Himself allowed that sin”. And that brings me to my point. I believe that that kind of thinking puts man’s interests over God’s. That is to say, obviously God had a point in allowing David to succumb to Satan’s testing. I cannot say with certainty what that point is because, as far as I can tell, we are not told. God is God, and we cannot, we dare not, assume that He must do what we think is right. In other words, (and I do not say this lightly) sometimes God’s plans and purposes require acts that we as His creation may do differently because it brings death and suffering to human beings. But again, God is God and we are His creation. To think that God must do what we think is “best’ is nothing more than what I think of as “religious humanism”.
THE DAY OF THE LORD AND THE LORD’S DAY
Mal. 4:5-6 reads, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,. lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”.
Those who hold to a pre-advent kingdom believe that Mal. 4:5-6 proves their point. Let me explain. John recorded in the book of Revelation everything he saw while in the spirit in the Lord’s day (see Rev. 1:10). But some believe that the Lord’s day is the same as the day of the Lord. And because, in their view Elijah will come before the day of the Lord to “restore all things”, that time must be before any of the events recorded in Revelation, and in particular before the tribulation. So they conclude that Elijah will come before the end times, which, in their view, is the pre-advent kingdom.
The problem with that view is that the day of the Lord is not the same as the Lord’s day. Listed below are all the Old Testament passages that speak of the day of the Lord. I will quote only the sixteen passages in which the Hebrew reads, “yom Jehovah”, i.e. the day of the Lord. There are four passages in which the Hebrew has “l” as a prefix which, according to the Companion Bible, means “for” or “to” Jehovah. Those four passages are: Is. 2:12, Ezek. 30:3, Zech. 14:1 and 17. As the reader considers these verses, it will, I believe, be clear that the day of the Lord is a time of darkness and trembling and therefore, cannot include the millennium or the new heavens and new earth which is, in part, what John saw while in the Lord’s day. Therefore, the day of the Lord is not the same day as the Lord’s day.
Is. 13:6 and 9, “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand, it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty”.
Ezek. 13:5, “Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord”.
Joel 1:15, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come”.
Joel 2:1-2, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains…..”
Joel 2:11, “And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army: for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”
Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned unto darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come”.
Joel 3:14-16, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake.…”.
Amos 5:18, “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light“.
Amos 5:20, “Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light” even very dark, and no brightness in it”
Obadiah 15, “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head”.
Zeph. 1:7-8, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel”.
Zeph. 1:14-15, “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, and day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness”.
Mal. 4:5, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”.
The New Testament does not contradict the picture of the day of the Lord given in the Old Testament. The phrase is used four times in the New Testament.
Acts 2:20 is a quote from Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come”.
I Thess. 5:2, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night”
II Thess. 2:2, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, not by a letter, as from us, as that the day of (the texts read) Lord is at hand”.
II Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heart, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up”.
We have learned that the day of the Lord will be a day of destruction and a day of the Lord’s wrath and vengeance. And that it will come as a thief in the night. Another truth we have learned about the day of the Lord is that it is never spoken of as a time of restoration or as a time of peace. Because the Lord’s day includes the millennium and the new earth, the day of the Lord cannot be the same as the Lord’s day as suggested by some.
THE COMING OF ELIJAH BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD
We read in Mal. 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”. The argument has been put forth that this passage tells us that Elijah will come before the day of the Lord to establish the kingdom of Heaven. Because Christ will return after the day of the Lord, this passage is taken to prove that the kingdom of Heaven will be established before His return.
In order to come to a correct understanding of this passage we must be clear that the day of the Lord is not the tribulation, it follows the tribulation. How do we know that? Consider Matthew 24:29, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”. These are, of course heavenly signs of monumental proportions, and reason will not allow them to appear more than once. The question is: when will they appear? We are told that they will appear “immediately after” the tribulation. As we consider Joel 2:30-31 which speaks of the day of the Lord we will see these same catastrophic signs in heaven. “And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke, the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come“. Let us compare the events described in Matthew 24 as coming immediately after the tribulation with the events described in Joel as coming before the day of the Lord.
In Matthew we read that the sun will be darkened. In Joel we read that ” the sun shall be turned into darkness”.
In Matthew we read that “moon shall not give her light“. In Joel we read that the “moon” will be turned “into blood“.
To be sure there are more signs given in Matthew than in Joel, but I believe that Matthew refers to the same event as does Joel, i.e. before the day of the Lord. If these signs appear immediately after the tribulation, and before the day of the Lord, obviously the tribulation is not the same event as the day of the Lord.
So the sequence of events is: the tribulation, followed “immediately” by the catastrophic signs that precede the day of the Lord, followed by the day of the Lord, followed by the appearance of Christ in the clouds.
Now that we have established the sequence of events we are ready to discuss the thought that Elijah’s coming will be to establish the supposed pre-advent kingdom before the day of the Lord and before the second coming of Christ.
Let us review exactly what Mal. 4:5-6 tells us that Elijah will come to do. “……he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”. Note the very limited ministry assigned to Elijah. He will be sent to turn the children to their fathers and fathers to their children. This does not, in my opinion, equate to establishing a kingdom. Putting that aside for the moment, we must determine when Elijah will be sent to do this, i.e. before or after the tribulation.
I believe Mark 13:12 will shed some light on our question as to when parents and children will be called upon to turn back to each other. The question is asked of the Lord in Mark 13:4, “what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled”. This is obviously a reference to the end times and more specifically to the last seven years of Daniel’s seventy sevens. A comparison of the events described in Mark 13:5-13 with those of Matthew 24:7-14 will show that the period referred to is the time just before the tribulation described in Matthew as “the beginning of sorrows”. In Mark 13:12 we read of the terrible relationships between fathers and children brought on by these “beginning of sorrows”, which immediately precedes the tribulation. “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death”.
There are three reasons for my belief that Elijah will come immediately before the day of the Lord, and that he will not come to set up a kingdom, but to bring fathers and children back to each other after the “time of sorrows” when they will have turned against each other.
1) The most obvious reading of Elijah’s coming “before” the day of the Lord is that he will come just prior to it, not hundreds of years before it.
2) We are told that just before the tribulation fathers and children will turn against each other. I believe we may conclude, therefore, that Elijah will come just before the day of the tribulation to bring children and fathers back to each other.
3) We are told exactly what Elijah will be sent to do, and it does not begin to describe the establishing of a pre-advent kingdom.
But how are we to understand Mark 9:12 where we read, “And he answered and told them, ‘Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things…..”? Does the phrase “restoreth all things” refer to the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, or is it to be understood as the “all things” for which Elias will be sent to accomplish? I believe the answer to that question is to be found in Acts 1:6, “When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ ” The same Greek word is used in Acts 1:6 that is used in Mark 9:12 that is translated “restoreth” in Mark and “restore” in Acts. My point is this: if Elias was to restore all things then the question would have been, “when will you send Elias to restore all things”? But what the disciples actually asked was “wilt Thou at this time restore again …..”. In short, the disciples did not expect Elias to restore all things, they expected Christ to restore all things when He returned.
Let us consider what will be restored. Certainly the restoration of the temple is included in the “restoration of all things” and Elijah will not restore the temple, Christ will (Zech. 6:12). In short, there is no Scriptural evidence to conclude that Elijah will be sent to accomplish anything other than what we are told, i.e. to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers”.
We have already seen the Scriptural evidence for the fact that Elias will be sent prior to the tribulation and therefore before the day of the Lord. We are told quite specifically what Elias will be sent to do, i.e. turn the hearts of children to parents and parents to children. For those two reasons I don’t believe we may conclude that Elias will be sent hundreds of years before the day of the Lord, he will be sent just prior to it. And I don’t believe that when he comes he will restore the kingdom to Israel, he will do what he will be sent to do. The phrase “restoreth all things” in Mark 9 must be understood in the light of Mal. 4:5-6.
THE PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
No study of the kingdom of Heaven is complete without a study of the parables of the kingdom of Heaven. Let us begin that study with the parable of Matthew 13:24-30. Let us concentrate on our Lord’s explanation of the parable as recorded in verses 37-43. . “….He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the age. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels and the shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father…..”.
One argument put forth by some who believe in the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven is based on this parable, as well as others, which will be discussed below. The argument is that according to the parable, during the kingdom of Heaven the good and bad seed are sown, and at the end of the kingdom of Heaven the Son of Man shall send forth His angels and separate the good from the bad.
The problem with that view is that we read that ” the harvest is the end of the world” (this should read “end of the age“). We are also told that “The Son of Man shall send forth His angels” and that “and the reapers are the angels”. In other words, at the end of the age Christ will send His angels to separate the good seed from the bad. When will Christ send His angels? Matt. 24:30-31 answers that question and reads, “…. .and they shall see the Son of man coming the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet…”. This passage tells us that the angels will come when Christ is seen in the clouds, which is, of course, His second coming to earth, not several hundred years before.
The parable of the ten virgins is also said to prove a supposed pre-advent kingdom. In this parable we read of ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to come. Those who hold to the pre-advent kingdom assert that because these virgins are waiting for the bridegroom to come, the kingdom of Heaven must come before the second coming of Christ.
Every parable has a point (for the Scriptural evidence of that statement please see the paper on the parables of Jesus Christ). If we want to understand the parable we must first understand what is the point of the parable. What is the point of this parable? That point is given in verse 13, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh”. To interpret the parable as historic events does not have anything to do with the point of the parable. Therefore, is no Scriptural reason to assume that the virgins lived during the kingdom of Heaven.
THE GREEK WORDS USED OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
Otis Q. Sellers, who believed in the pre-advent kingdom of God, writes in the Seed And Bread article number 129, the following concerning the Greek words usually taken to refer to the second coming of Christ: “Such prophesied events as the unveiling (apolalusin) of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:7), the manifestation (phaneroo) of Jesus Christ (I John 3:2 and Col. 3:4), the presentation of Jesus Christ (I Thess. 4:14), the blazing forth (epiphaneia) of His glory……….are all divine actions that take place at the commencement of divine government upon the earth, marked by line 4 on the chart”. Line four on the chart is marked, “The Kingdom Of God, A Time Of Divine Government”. Line five is the tribulation. This tells us that according to this view, the kingdom of God precedes the tribulation and the second coming of Christ to earth. Line six denotes the millennium which is described as “The Personal Presence Of Jesus Christ, The Parousia“. In other words, Mr. Sellers is saying that the parousia will not be at the same time as the epiphaneia.That is to say that the epiphaneia is one of the events that will take place before the tribulation and the millennium. And the parousia will take place after the tribulation.
But, I believe that as we consider II Thess. 2:8 we shall see that the parousia will take place at the same time as the epiphaneia. That would mean that “epiphaneia” refers to the time of Christ’s personal presence on earth, and it would essentially, in my opinion, rule out a pre-advent kingdom of God from which Christ will rule from heaven.
We read in II Thess. 2:8, “And then shall the wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming“. The Greek word translated “brightness” is “epiphaneia”, and the Greek word translated “coming” is “parousia”. This verse connects the epiphaneia with the parousia as occurring at the same time. It is through Christ’s epiphaneia that the “wicked” will be destroyed.
When is this epiphaneia to occur? That question is answered once we determine who is the “wicked”, and when he will be destroyed. The wicked is referred to in verses 3-4 as “the man of sin”, and “the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the Temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”. This man is, of course, the antichrist. When will the antichrist be destroyed? Certainly not before the tribulation.
We have learned that the epiphaneia will take place at the same time as the parousia, which will be after the tribulation. That being the case, the epiphaneia will not as Mr. Sellers asserts, occur before the tribulation, it will occur at the second coming of Christ.
The Greek word “phaneroo” also occurs at the time of His second coming. We read in I John 2:28. “And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when he appears (phaneroo) we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming (parousia)”. So we have Scriptural evidence that connects the epiphaneia and the phaneroo to the parousia. Here again, this connection proves that those two divine events will not be years before the second coming of Christ, but at the time of His second coming.
Because the epiphaneia and the phaneroo are events that are connected to the parousia, i.e. the second coming of Christ to earth, we cannot see them as events that take place before His second coming, and therefore cannot be understood to be events that have to do with a pre-advent kingdom of God.
WAS ACTS TWO THE BEGINNING OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?
We have in Acts chapter two Peter’s quote of Joel two. Those who believe in the pre-advent kingdom believe that Acts two is the beginning of the pre-advent kingdom. That would mean that the kingdom began while Christ was seated in heaven. If this is true, this would help to prove that the pre-advent kingdom will be established before the second coming of Christ, i.e. while Christ is in heaven. The question is, however, was Joel chapter two fulfilled at Pentecost? I believe it was not. I believe that Peter’s point in quoting Joel was to answer the accusation that those who were speaking in tongues were drunk. Peter said, in effect, “why are you so surprised at this miracle when Joel speaks of so much more than these”. Because this is a very important topic in our study, I beg the reader’s indulgence in this very lengthy presentation of the events of Acts two compared to Joel’s prophecy.
We will begin the comparison of Joel’s prophecy with the events of Acts 2 by examining just what the events were that occurred at the convocation to celebrate the feast of weeks.
Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting and there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. and they were all filled with the holy ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.
I think it would be helpful to list these events in order to facilitate a comparison with Joel 2.
1) “a rushing mighty wind”
2) “cloven tongues, like as of fire”
3) “filled with the holy ghost”
4) “began to speak in other tongues”
Now let us examine the prophecy of Joel which Peter quoted that day.
Acts 2:17-18 is a record of the prophecy that is said, by many, to have been “partially fulfilled” at the celebration of the feast of weeks. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, ‘I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My spirit and they shall prophecy’ “.
Below is the list of things prophesied in the passage quoted from Joel.
1) “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”
2) “Your sons and daughters will prophesy”
3) “your young men will see visions”
4) “your old men shall dream dreams”
5) “On My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My spirit and they shall prophecy”.
Even the most cursory comparison of the events of Acts 2 with the prophecy of Joel 2 will reveal that there is only one thing in common, i.e. the spirit of the Lord was poured out. But, as we look in the Old and New Testaments, we shall see that even that is not really a commonality. I say that because the Bible makes it clear that the holy spirit was poured out on individuals for a very specific purpose. So, when we read, for example, that Samson was filled with the spirit in order to defend himself from an attacking lion, it is not the same as when Bezalel was filled with the spirit to make artistic designs for the tent of meetings. But let us look at just some of the occurrences of when individuals were filled with the holy spirit to prove that point from scripture.
Exodus 31:3, “and I have filled him (Bezalel) with the Spirit of God, with the skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze.”
Numbers 11:17, “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone”.
Judges 3:10, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him so he became a judge of Israel and went to war“.
Judges 11:29, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead ….he advanced against the Ammonites”.
Judges 14:6, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him with power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands”.
Judges 15:14,”….The Spirit of the Lord come upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax and the bindings dropped from his hands”.
I Sam. 11:6, “When Saul heard their words the Spirit of God came upon him and he burned with anger“. This verse also shows that the spirit enabled Saul to accomplish God’s will. In this case it was to save His people, Israel from being disgraced.
II Chron.20:14, “Then the Spirit of God came upon Jahaziel …. . He said … .” This is but one example of the many, many times where the spirit of God came upon an individual allowing power to prophesy.
The New Testament is no different. That is to say, in the New Testament when one is filled with the holy spirit, it is also for the purpose of completing a specific work that God has for him or her to accomplish. Let us consider a few events recorded in the New Testament of one being filled with the holy spirit.
Luke 1:67, “His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied“.
John 20:22, “And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. ….If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven.”.
Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them”.
Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said,…”.
The point I am trying to make in presenting these passages is that, just as we cannot say that the empowering of Samson, who fought a lion, was the same as the empowering of Jephthah, who led Israel to war, so too we cannot say that the empowering by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues (Acts 2) is the same as the empowering to dream dreams and see visions (Joel 2). Therefore, we are left to conclude that the prophecy of Joel 2 was not partially fulfilled in Acts 2.
But some might object that Peter began his quote of Joel by saying, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel”. How can we account for that statement considering that it was certainly not what had been prophesied in Joel 2? E.W. Bullinger, in his Appendix number183 in the Companion Bible has the following: “The word ‘this’ is emphatic and the word ‘But’, with which Peter’s argument begins, sets what follows in contrast”. Dr. Bullinger goes on in the next paragraph to suggest: “He (Peter) does not say ‘then was fulfilled’, nor ‘as it is written’, but merely calls attention to what the prophet said of similar scenes yet future“. Dr. Bullinger suggests that Peter was saying in effect “that the same kind of thing as what Joel speaks of is happening now”.
In other words, the reason Peter quoted Joel was not because Joel’s prophecy was then being fulfilled or even “partially fulfilled”. The reason was to say that these are not drunk and the men of Israel should know that because the same kind of things are spoken of by Joel.
When Peter quoted Joel chapter 2, he began with the words, “And it shall come to pass in the last days“. Joel was a bit more specific. In Joel 2:28, which is the beginning of the prophecy Peter quoted, we read, “And afterward I will pour out my spirit….”. Peter’s phrase, “the last days” is correct, of course. But Joel is more specific as to when in the last days they might see the things quoted, i.e. dreams and visions. Let us therefore, examine Joel two to see if we might learn more about when to expect these signs.
Joel 2:1 begins with a prophecy concerning the “day of the Lord“. “…….for the day of the Lord cometh, it is nigh at hand”. The prophecy concerning the day of the Lord continues through verse 11, But at the end of verse 11 there is a break in the prophecy about the day of the Lord, and we read in verse 12, “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me, with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping and with mourning”. This plea for repentance continues through verse 17. In verse 18-27 we read what will be the consequence of Israel’s repentance. We read in verse 26, “….never again will My people be ashamed”. This tells us that these verse speak of the millennium.
To recap what has been presented thus far: verses 1-11 are about the day of the Lord. Verses 12 through 17 are a plea to Israel to repent. Verses 18 through 27 speak of the millennium.
We come now to verse 28 which begins the passage that Peter quotes in Acts 2. “And afterward“. After what? Certainly not after the millennium which is the subject of the preceding 10 verses. We must go all the way back to verse 11 in order to determine the “afterward” of verse 28. Verse 11 speaks of the day of the Lord. So then, after the day of the Lord, the signs of which Joel writes will be seen.
So the signs of which Joel writes are to be seen after the day of the Lord. Therefore, when Peter quoted this passage it could not possibly have been fulfilled that day in Acts 2, because that day was obviously not after the day of the Lord.
To make this point more clearly: the signs of which Joel speaks are to be seen after the day of the Lord. When Peter quoted Joel the day of the Lord had not yet occurred. Therefore, Acts 2 can not be the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
Joel’s prophecy had nothing in common with the events of Acts 2, except that in both, men were filled with the holy spirit. But the consequences of that filling were totally different and therefore even that similarity is nullified.
Joel two is a prophecy that will be fulfilled in the end times. It was not partially fulfilled in Acts two and therefore the assertion that Acts 2 was the beginning of the kingdom of Heaven is nullified. Because that is so, there is no Scriptural evidence to suggest that Christ will be in heaven for the kingdom of Heaven.
THE WRITINGS OF O.Q. SELLERS
O. Q. Sellers has written several articles on the pre-advent kingdom and no study of this subject would be complete without a consideration of his views. I will quote from his article titled, The Jigsaw Puzzle of Prophecy. “I became convinced that ‘the great tribulation’ was to be a time of divine testing which would try every man that dwells upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). Then when I considered the state of men upon the earth today, their abject failure in all matters related to God, it seemed to me to be the height of folly to try that which is such an obvious failure”.
Let me say first that the paper on this web-site The Tribulation Is Not World Wide gives the Scriptural evidence for my belief that the tribulation will not be world wide, but it will come upon the “oikoumenee”, i.e. the inhabited world (i.e. Israel and the countries surrounding Israel) to test Israel. Rev. 3:10 reads, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (the Companion Bible has “trial”, i.e. the tribulation) which shall come upon all the oikoumenee (the inhabited world) to try them that dwell upon the ge (Land, i.e. Israel)”.
The question is then: will God test Israel when She is in an abject state of apostasy and without warning? I believe that He will not. Let me explain.
To begin with, the tribulation is to test Israel. Revelation is the most Israel centered book in the New Testament. Therefore, I believe that the seven letters of Rev. chapters 2-3 are addressed to Jewish “churches”. Consider also Rev. 3:9, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie…..”. Why would non-Jews say they are Jews? Throughout the past 20 centuries Jews have been persecuted, it makes no sense that non-Jews would claim to be Jews. If the seven letters of Revelation are addressed to believing Jews, obviously Israel will not be in a state of “abject failure” as Mr. Sellers suggested.
Now let’s consider whether God will give a warning to Israel that the tribulation is near at hand. We read in Dan. 11:4-20 of events to occur over a period of approximately 40 years. Unfortunately, verses 4-20 are often said to have been fulfilled by Alexander the Great and others who lived at a time not covered in the Bible. The problem with that interpretation is that we have Scripture being interpreted, not by Scripture, but by secular historians. And in this case the Scriptural evidence is there which, in my opinion, proves that the entire chapter is a prophecy which will be fulfilled in the end times. (Please see the paper on this web-site Have Any Of The Prophecies Of Daniel Eleven Been Fulfilled? for the Scriptural evidence which proves that this entire chapter is a prophecy of the end times.)
Because there will be at least some believers in Israel in the last days, and because there will be the fulfillment of prophecy some 40 years before the tribulation, I believe that the suggestion that the testing of Israel will be “the height of folly” as Mr. Sellers suggests is not supported by Scripture. Surely, as Israel sees end times prophecy being fulfilled for 40 years before the tribulation they will take warning from those prophecies that the tribulation is coming upon them.
On a similar note, Mr. Sellers quotes Ps. 67:4 which states that Christ will govern the nations and asks “Does He govern these nations after He has destroyed their people or before? and there can be only one answer. There is nothing left to govern after the people have been destroyed. Passages like this indicate a time of divine government before the return of Christ…….”. II Thess. 1:7-10 does indeed speak of “destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power”. However, where Mr. Sellers wrote, “Does He govern these nations after He has destroyed their people ” he fails to distinguish between nations and the people of the nations. That is to say, it is one thing to destroy a nation and quite another to destroy its people. For example, we read in Isaiah 60:3, “Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn”. Surely in this verse “nations” do not refer to every person in the nations. That would mean that several billions of people will come to tiny Jerusalem. No, I believe that in Is. 60:3 “nations” refers to the rulers of the nations and that a distinction must be made between the nations and the people of the nations according to the context and common sense.
In the same article Mr. Sellers writes of Hosea 2:14-23, “There I found all the support that one who believes the Word could ask. The pertinent passage is Hosea 2:14-23 ……”. Hosea 2:14-23 reads, “Therefore behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me ‘Ishi’; and shalt call Me no more ‘Baali’. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beast of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. and it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wind, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My People, ‘Thou art My People’; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God'”.
Mr. Sellers says of this passage, “These words declare the future of Israel, and all this is in advance of the great tribulation as is seen in the promise that Jehovah will give her ‘the valley of Achor for a door of hope’. The name ‘Achor’ means troubler. When Israel is in the place of blessing described in Hosea 2:15, she will look ahead and see the greatest pressure that the nation had ever known, a time of testing that will put to the test all who dwell upon the earth. This is a valley through which she must pass as she travels upon her foreordained way from the pre-advent kingdom to the thousand years of the personal presence of Christ”.
Mr. Sellers begins the discussion of Hosea 2 by claiming that it gives “all the support that any one….could need” for his position. I must admit, I don’t see any support for his position in Hosea two. This passage tells us that there will be a time when God will gather Israel into the desert and bring them to Himself. Is there any evidence in this passage that this will happen ” in advance of the great tribulation”? May I respectfully suggest that the reader reread the passage from Hosea two. I found no such evidence. In fact there is evidence in verse 18 which, in my opinion proves that this gathering of Israel will take place after the tribulation. Let us consider part of that verse. “and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth”. I understand this promise to mean that there will be no more battles, I see no other interpretation. If the Lord makes a promise to these Israelites that there will be no more battles, and the tribulation is obviously a battle, it seems to me that this proves that the gathering spoken of in Hosea two is after the tribulation. It is true that after the millennial reign there will be a revolt, but those gathered around Jerusalem to attack that city will be destroyed at once, that is to say, that will not be a battle.
Therefore, far from Hosea two proving the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven, I believe it disproves it.
Is. 1:2, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken”.
It has been suggested that some passages which speak of God’s speaking from heaven are meant to be understood as yet future despite the tense used. Is. 1:2 is one of those passages.
To be sure, it is clear from such passages as Is. 53 that the past and present tenses are, at times, used of an event yet future. For example we read in Is. 53:2, He (Christ) shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground”. Here the event is future and the tense is future. But this same verse continues, “He hath no form nor comliness”. Here the same Person is spoken of in the present tense even though His birth was a future event when this passage was written. The verse continues, “and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him”. Here the future event is put in the future and the present tenses. Verse 4 speaks of the same future event in the past tense, “surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrow” and continues in the past tense, “yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted“.
It is clear that we may not put too much emphasis on the tense, as the Hebrew writers often wrote of future events in the past and present tenses. How then are we to determine which tense is to be understood? By the context. Sometimes from the immediate context and other times from the context of the entire Bible. For example, because we know that Is. 53 concerns the death of Christ, we know that no matter the tense used, the event was yet future at the time that Isaiah wrote this chapter.
Let us come now to the verse under discussion, i.e. Is. 1:2. It is suggested by those who believe in a pre-advent kingdom that this verse refers to the Lord’s speaking from heaven in the pre-advent kingdom. But I believe that the remainder of verse two, and the following verses tell us otherwise. “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me”. Consider also verses 3-4, “Israel doth not know, My People doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupt: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward”. These verse do not describe the kingdom of God. They describe the conditions present during Isaiah’s time.
The context of Is. 1:2 shows that this is addressed to a “sinful nation”, that is “laden with iniquity”. But Matt. 13:43 tells us that there is no unrighteousness in the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 13:24 tells us that the parable of the weeds is a parable of the kingdom of Heaven. “The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto”. Verse 43 is the end of our Lord’s explanation of that parable and it tells us that , “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”. My point is that where Is. 1:2 tells us that Israel is in a state of unrighteousness, the kingdom of Heaven is just the opposite, i.e. it is inhabited by only the righteous. Therefore, we may not, in my opinion, take Is. 1:2 out of context and apply it to future events, when the context is clearly about the condition present in Isaiah’s time.
Ps. 76:8-9, “Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth”
Another passage that is suggested to prove the pre-advent kingdom of Heaven is Ps. 76:8-9. Here too, it is suggested that it refers to the supposed future pre-advent kingdom despite the use of the past tense. I must confess, I do not find any evidence in this Psalm that proves to my satisfaction if this is a past or a future event. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it is a future event. The question is: when will God cause judgment to “be heard from heaven”; will it be in the pre-advent kingdom? I believe not. Is there a time of judgment from heaven in the future?. There certainly is, but it is not in a pre-advent kingdom, it is in the day of the Lord. When will God rise to judgment in the future? In the day of the Lord. When will this judgment save the “meek”? In the day of the Lord. If this is a prophecy to be fulfilled in the future, it will be in the day of the Lord. Therefore, there is no Scriptural evidence to prove that even if the events of Ps. 76:8-9 are future, that it will be in the pre-advent kingdom.
The “meek of the earth” will be saved by the rapture which is just before the day of the Lord. Therefore, there is nothing in this verse that suggests a pre-advent judgment or saving from judgment. (Please see the paper on this web-site An Overview Of End Times Prophecy for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.)
Deut. 32:1-2, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth; my doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, and the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass”.
The suggestion is made that this passage is saying that the Lord will speak from heaven, and that He will speak in a yet future supposed pre-advent kingdom. But is that really what this passage is saying? I believe not. If we look at the preceding verse, i.e. Deut. 31:30, we read, “And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended”. This passage is what Moses spoke to Israel while on earth, not what the Lord will speak from heaven. See also 32:3, “Because I will publish the name of the Lord; ascribe ye greatness unto our God, He is the rock, His work is perfect”. This is not the Lord’s speech, it is Moses’ speech to Israel. Therefore, this verse is not about God speaking in a pre-advent kingdom, it is Moses asking the heavens to “give ear”.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS OF DANIEL CHAPTER NINE
It is a well known fact that there are many interpretations of the ninth chapter of Daniel where we read the prophecy of the seventy weeks. Not the least of the problems associated with that prophecy is where the Acts period fits into those seventy weeks. The pre-advent kingdom doctrine does offer an explanation, but it is based on the kingdom of Heaven occurring before the return of Christ, which, I hope I have shown is based on arguments that are, in my opinion, unscriptural.
The pre-advent view states that the 70 weeks have not yet begun. The views expressed in the paper on this web-site Daniel’s Seventy Weeks will give the Scriptural evidence for my belief that the seventy weeks began when the Holy Spirit said it would begin, i.e. at the “issuing of the commandment to rebuild the city” and at the same time accounts for the Acts period. I respectfully urge the reader to read that paper, as it does greatly impact on the teaching of the supposed pre-advent kingdom of Heaven.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond to it, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org