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THEOLOGY > Future > The Millennium > Old Testament Anticipation   


To corroborate the concept of the Millennium in the New Testament, Premillennialists have identified passages in the Old Testament that anticipate and compliment the teaching of the New Testament. If this approach is proper, then the Millennium is not dependent solely on the passage in Revelation, but has broad support throughout Scripture.

A crucial issue relative to the Old Testament passages is whether the texts have one meaning or two meanings; that is, do the references speak exclusively of a future time, or do they speak to the time in which they were written as well as to a future period? Is there a deeper meaning or a fuller sense in addition to the natural meaning of a passage. For instance, do some Old Testament passages have a deeper significance than was apparent to the writer, a writer who may have thought that what he was writing applied only to his time. He may not have known that it did have meaning for his day but also that it had meaning for a later day. Historically this is referred to as sensus plenior and has been debated for centuries. At issue is whether there is one meaning or a double meaning in a particular text (see: Principles 12-14). A selection of the more acceptable passages will be briefly examined.

Ps. 72 – This psalm is a prayer of David for Solomon, a prayer that his reign would be characterized by justice and prosperity, that he would be feared, that his dominion would be greatly enlarged, and that he would live long. This psalm is considered to be a Messianic psalm, such that the reign of Solomon typifies and anticipates the future reign of the coming Messiah. For instance, the following verses seems to project beyond Solomon to the Messiah and the blessings brought about by God due to His work through the Messiah:

May His name endure forever, His fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in Him, all nations call Him blessed! Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! And blessed by His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (vs. 17-19).

It is obvious that the full and final blessings that will accrue to God’s people will be at the end time; then, and only then, will the whole earth be filled with His glory. And the beginning of the display of that glorious glory will be during the Millennium.

Isa. 2; 9; 11-12; 30; 35; 45; 65-66 – In Chapter 2 the statement is made that “the Lord of Hosts has a day” (v. 12). Throughout these chapters the phrases, “the last days” or “the latter days,” “the last day,” “that day,” “in the day” and “a day” appear frequently, thereby indicating a future time when the individual and events spoken of by Isaiah will come to pass. Interwoven in these Chapters are predictions of the Messiah, His person and His deeds.

Central to the meaning of the Hebrew word, acharith (“last” or “latter”) is the idea of the conclusion of all things, and also included in the conclusion are the events that precede the conclusion; in other words, there is the end and the events that contribute to and transpire before the end. Both the culmination and the incidents leading to the culmination are included in the idea of “last” or “latter” days (see: The Last Days and The Day of the Lord).

The word has two dimensions: near and far. Whenever used in Scripture both perspectives are either explicit or implicit. The user may speak of close events that portent further events, but always the word is reaching to the conclusion of the matter. The end is always in sight and never removed from the meaning.

Not only does the word teach these two dimensions, but two elements—judgment and salvation—characterize the movement toward consummation and the consummation itself. Interconnected these themes describe the events throughout the historical process and describe the major component parts of the last days. In and with His judgment upon individuals and the nations is His gracious redemption of His elect, the believers that constitute His chosen people, spiritual Israel.

Jer. 3; 30-33 – Through the prophet God predicts:

At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they shall no more stubbornly follow their own heart. In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage (3:17-18).

In the future Israel and Judah will be restored and joined together in the land, and “they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them” (30:9). And, God announces, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (31:31). Additionally, God declares:

I will put My law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (31:33-34).

All of these things will be accomplished in connection with the righteous Branch that God will raise up, a Branch to spring up for David, so that “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel” (33:17). This Branch will “execute justice and righteousness in the land” (33:15). Jeremiah seems to anticipate the angel’s word to Mary and John’s description of the earthly rule of the King of Kings.

Ezek. 36-37; 38-39; 40-48 – In the midst of judgment and dispersion God will remember “the mountains of Israel” (36:1, 4, 8) and will draw and restore the nation; He will give the people a new heart and a new spirit; and He will say to them: “You shall be my people, and I will be your God” (36:28). Also in Ezekiel as in the other prophets of the Old Testament, the future hope of Israel is connected to the kingship of David or the One who is to come from David:

My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in My rules and be careful to obey My statutes. They shall dwell in the land . . . and David my servant shall be their prince forever . . . My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (37:24-28).

The hope of the people of Israel in the Old Testament is the hope of the people of God, the new and spiritual Israel, in the New Testament. For this passage, and for similar passages in the prophets, if there is a literal fulfillment then it will come to pass during the literal Millennium and rule of the Lord in Jerusalem—it seems that the promise to Israel is to be fulfilled by applying it to the spiritual people of God and His rule over the nations and must be identified with the thousand years in Revelation.

Ezekiel describes the defeat of Gog and Magog (38-39) which is also referenced by John in Revelation 20. Following the battle of Armageddon the Lord will rule in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of Ezekiel he gives the name of the city, the city possessing the Temple of his vision, as “The Lord Is There” (48:35). Is there some concrete reality to this extended passage (40-48) in Ezekiel, or is its fulfillment solely a spiritual phenomenon that is completely realized in the existence and life of the Church?

Dan. 2; 7; 9; 11-12 – In the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the statue, Daniel gives the conclusion of the historical development depicted by the image:

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever (2:44).

How can anyone read this passage and not consider the possible connection of it with Rev. 19-20? Daniel plainly predicts that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” and John predicts that the resurrected saints “will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6), during which time He will “strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15). Of course, the thousand years will usher in eternity when God will dwell with His people (Rev. 21:3). How can any reader not consider that Daniel and John are connected?

Later in a night vision Daniel see “the Ancient of Days” give to “One like the Son of Man” a kingdom and “all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him” (9:13-14). This kingdom is an everlasting dominion, it shall not be destroyed, and shall not pass away (Dan. 9:14). Again, how can any reader not accept the possible connection between the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation?

Joel 2-3 – Joel describes “the day of the Lord,” a day that began with the incarnation and passion of Christ, and that will culminate with His return and the consummation of all things (see: The Day of the Lord). Commenting on the future time, Joel writes:

So you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who dwells in Zion, My holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall never again pass through it. And in that  day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Shittim (3:17-18).

A legitimate question is whether this passage is related to Rev. 20 or 21, that is to the time of the Millennium or to eternity that follows the Millennium, but there is no question of the anticipation of the future in the passage.

Zech. 14 – Zechariah informs of a day when the Lord’s feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, and “the Lord will be king over all the earth” (vs. 4, 9). He adds: “If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them” (v. 17).

Note: Those who disallow the association of the above passages with any type of end-time reality generally find the fulfillment of the passages in the life of the Church, the new and spiritual Israel. But such an approach is inconsistent with the exegesis of the early Church (see: Testimony of the Fathers).

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