Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 16, 1953
NUMBER 10, PAGE 10-11a

The Millennium

T. H. Tarbet, Big Spring, Texas

There are many passages in the Old Testament that prophesy of the Kingdom of God which was to come, with Christ ruling on the throne of David his father. Nearly all premillennialists admit that these prophecies point to the first century, and that Christ came to earth to establish that kingdom. He was referring to this when He said in Mark 1:15, "... The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand..." Why then do the premillennialists not admit that the kingdom was established in the first century? They say that when the Jews as a nation rejected Christ, it became impossible for Christ to establish His kingdom, and the kingdom was automatically postponed. This is their theory. It indicts the Old Testament prophets as falsifiers; for they said the kingdom would come in the first century. Furthermore, if the Jews could frustrate the plans of God one time, and prevent the establishment of the kingdom, what assurance do we have that they cannot do it the next time?

Mr. Smith, in his debate with the writer did not accept this part of the premillennial view. He was one "pre" who admitted that the church was in the prophecy of the Old Testament. He said Zechariah 6:12-13 referred to the church. This passage declares that Christ was to reign upon his throne. In other words, his arguments did not harmonize with themselves. The truth is; the throne of David, of God and of Christ are the same.

Solomon sat on the throne of David, according to 1 Kings 2:12. He sat on the throne of the Lord, according to 1 Chronicles 29:23. Hence the throne of David is the same as the throne of the Lord. When it is said in Revelation 3:21 that Christ is on the Father's throne, it follows that He is on the throne of David. David's throne was once upon the earth; but now is in heaven, for the Father's throne is in heaven. (Revelation 3:21) Christ's kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36) Romans 14:17 says the kingdom is not meat and drink. Hence it is not a temporal kingdom with temporal blessings. These scriptures were introduced early in the debate, but Mr. Smith made no reference to them.

Mr. Smith's theories were in harmony with the generally accepted views of all premillennialists regarding the events that follow the second coming of Christ. They are: Jesus will come on the cloud, and the saints only will be raised. They with the righteous living will be caught up in the air to be with the Lord during the "rapture" of seven years. At this time they will receive rewards. While this goes on, the living who remain on the earth will be in a great tribulation. The Jews will be gathered back to Palestine. Certain unbelieving and unsaved Jews will begin to preach the gospel of the coming kingdom. What they preach will not be the gospel that Paul preached. Yet a curse has been pronounced upon any who preaches any other gospel. (Galatians 1:6-8)

After the seven years Christ comes again. (A third coming, mind you. Count them.) He will then hold the "sheep and goat judgment." (Matthew 25:31-46) The nations will be judged according to the way they will have treated the Jews who preach "another gospel." Then the millennium will set in. At the end of one thousand years, Satan, who has been bound, will be loosed. He will gather the nations for a final battle against the Lord; and fire will come down and devour them. After this the wicked will be judged. The millennium will then be over; the "heavenly kingdom" will set in to endure for eternity.

The prophecies which are supposed to tell of this millennium, tell too much. They describe a time when people are required to be circumcised in the flesh; when the priests of the tribe of Levi keep the charge of the sanctuary; when the blood of animals are offered, and all the temple worship and its ceremony is in effect. The people keep the feast of the New Moon, and of the tabernacles. The Prince of Jerusalem, who would have to be Christ if this be the millennium, offers animal sacrifices to make atonement for the sins of the people. The Prince offers a sin offering for himself. Also men are required to go to Jerusalem to worship. See Ezekiel 44:9,16-17; 45:17,22; Zechariah 14:15 and other scriptures in this connection. Mr. Smith did not deny that these passages describe his millennium. These things one must accept if he espouses premillennialism.

Mr. J. Cullis Smith said that according to Mark 4:26-29 there are three phases of the kingdom: (1) Blade stage; the formative stage of the kingdom, from John to the day of Pentecost. (2) Ear stage; from Pentecost through the thousand-year reign. (3) Full corn in the ear; the consummation or harvest — the heavenly kingdom. What we would like to know is — How can a man contend that Christ is not yet on David's throne, and at the same time admit that Christ is in the only kingdom He will ever have, and that there will not be another phase of the kingdom on earth?

Those who teach that Jesus will set up His reign on earth following His second coming, and reign from Jerusalem for a literal one thousand years, go to Revelation 20:1-6. Without this passage they could not begin to prove anything. This is the only place in either the Old or New Testament where a reign of 1000 years is mentioned. What about this passage? It does not mention the second coming of Christ. It does not mention a bodily resurrection. It does not mention any kind of reign upon earth. It does not mention all the saints reigning with Christ (just the beheaded martyrs). Mr. Smith wanted to interpret the 1000 years and the first resurrection literally, making one mean what 1000 years means today, and making the other mean a bodily resurrection. Yet these terms were used in connection with the "second death." We know that the "second death" mentioned here is not a physical death. The second death of this chapter refers to hell, where men will continue to be alive. So Mr. Smith did not take that literally. And when the passage said, "an angel came down from heaven," he did not take that literally. He interpreted that to mean Christ. In order for you to get the premillennial view from the one scripture which mentions a reign of 1000 years, some one must stand at your shoulder and tell you which words to take literally and which to understand figuratively, as you read the passage.

"I will give Mr. Tarbet $10.00 for a passage that says that Christ will not reign on earth 1000 years following His second coming," said Mr. Smith. The offer was accepted. Hebrews 8:4 was read, "If he were on earth, he would not be a priest." Now, Christ is a priest and a king at the same time, according to Zechariah 6:12-13, ".... and shall sit upon his throne, and rule; and he shall be a priest upon his throne." How then can He be a king on earth, if he cannot be a priest on earth? When these scriptures were introduced, Mr. Smith said, "That's not fair. I asked for 'a scripture' and you have used more than one." "All right," said his opponent, "we will use just Hebrews 4:3, which says that Christ cannot be a priest upon earth, since you have already admitted that Christ is to be a priest and king at the same time." Mr. Smith would not pay the $10.00, even though it was his own proposition. Neither could he explain Hebrews 8:4 in the light of his theology. All he could do was to accuse his respondent of mishandling the word of God by going from one place to another in the Bible to prove his propositions. It was not long after Mr. Smith had made that accusation until he came to Revelation 20:1. He read, "I saw an angel come down from heaven." Then he said, "This was the Son of God. Turn over to Malachi 3:1-2." So he had to go from one place to another in the Bible to prove his proposition. "Happy is the man that condemns not himself" in the thing which he says. The truth is, we are supposed to take all that the Bible says on any given subject, and go to one scripture for explanations and definitions of the terms used in another. (Isaiah 28:10,13; Matthew 4:4)

Mr. Smith introduced Isaiah 2:2-3 as a prophecy of the Lord's house." Mr. Smith admitted that the house of God is the church (1 Timothy 3:15), and thus gave up his proposition. His opponent argued that the church and the kingdom are the same. Mr. Smith could not deal with the argument. He had had no trouble handling Elder George Beavers, when he debated him on the millennium. But Beavers, being a Baptist himself, would not argue that the church and the kingdom are the same. That would make the church necessary to salvation, and would also make baptism essential, as it is the door to the church.

Baptists also have the church established during the personal ministry. Hence Mr. Beavers could not explain the parable which says, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return." He had him receiving a kingdom before he went into the far country. Also he had Jesus with two bodies — the kingdom and the church. Ephesians 4:4, "There is one body." Mr. Smith's opponent showed that the body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), and that reconciliation is in the body. (Ephesians 2:16) Hence, one is not born again until he is in the church. Yet the new birth puts one into the kingdom. (John 3:3-5) He showed that the saved are added to the church (Acts 2:47), and that the church is the same as the sanctified, these called to be saints. (1 Corinthians 1:1-2) Mr. Smith did not try to reply to the argument based on these verses. It stands a proven fact that salvation is in the church. But since salvation is in the kingdom, the church and the kingdom are the same. Ephesians 1:20-23 shows that as head of the church, Christ is an exalted monarch. Hence the church is a monarchy, or kingdom.