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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Is the Advent Pre-Millennial?

Pastor Alfred Harris, Baltimore, Md.

From Primitive Paths in Prophecy, 1891

The first proof we offer that the coming of the Lord will be Pre-Millennial is the significant fact that the Word of God does not place anything between us and that blessed hope. It never says the Lord shall come after such and such an event, date or period. But let it be remembered that the Scriptures make a broad distinction between the coming of the Lord and the day of the Lord. The coming of the Lord is represented by the Morning Star, the day of the Lord by the Sun of Righteousness. Christ as the Morning Star has to do more particularly with the Church and the first resurrection; as the Sun of Righteousness He has to do with Israel and the nations. The Morning Star precedes the day; the rising Sun of Righteousness introduces the day—the Day of the Lord.

We know of many things which shall take place before the Day of the Lord. The same confusion that now exists in many minds existed in the Thessalonian Church. It had been reported among them that the Day of the Lord had actually come, and they were troubled about it because, if this was a fact, they were left behind. As the Scripture says, "One shall be taken, and the other left." (Matt. 24:41)

And there was another thing that troubled them: In the cemeteries of Thessalonica the graves of their loved ones, who had died in the Lord, were undisturbed. The trumpet of the first resurrection had certainly not reached them. If the Day of the Lord had passed with the first resurrection, and their loved ones were still entombed, they had good reason for being troubled. The Apostle Paul comes to their relief and corrects their error in the second chapter of his second epistle. He assures them that the Day of the Lord has not come and would not come until three events had occurred:

(I) The coming of the Lord, or the descent of the Lord into the air, and our gathering together unto Him.

(2) The great apostasy, "A falling away."

(3) The manifestation of Antichrist. "For that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." (II Thess. 2:3)

These things were to precede the Day of the Lord, but neither there nor in any other part of Scripture are we told of anything intervening before the coming of the Lord; so that if we love His appearing, we may look for it to occur at any time, even at the present hour.

One of the many convincing proofs that the coming of Christ will be before the Millennium is found in the accounts we have of the first resurrection. The characteristics of that first resurrection are:

(1) It will be a resurrection of the just. "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." (Luke 14:14)

(2) It will be elective. "But they that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead." (Luke 20:35)

(3) A proof or manifestation of sonship. "[They] are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:36)

Now when will it take place? At the second coming of Christ. "But every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (I Cor. 15:23) Will that be before or after the Millennium? The answer is unmistakable: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be the priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Rev. 20:5, 6) Thus the second or general resurrection comes after the thousand years, or the Millennium, and is a thousand years after the first resurrection which takes place at the beginning of the Millennium; as that resurrection is simultaneous with the coming of Christ, it follows that Christ will come before the Millennium.

Again, if the coming of the Lord is not Pre-Millennial, there are scores of most important prophecies, concerning the earth, Israel and the nations that must remain forever unfulfilled. I refer to the second Psalm, where Christ is inaugurated as the King of Israel, and of all the earth; to the 72nd Psalm, where we have the millennial reign of Christ, to Jer. 18, where it is said Jerusalem shall be called "the throne of the Lord," etc.

In connection with this read Isaiah second chapter, and especially the twenty-fourth chapter and twenty-third verse: "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and before His ancients gloriously." I refer again to the thirty-second chapter of Jeremiah and the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. In the fourth verse of this latter chapter we have the following remarkable prediction: "And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof, toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

This prediction is still unfulfilled, and it never can be fulfilled if the coming of the Lord is Post-Millennial. This is evident from what is said in the remainder of the chapter. The Lord does not come in the fourteenth of Zechariah as the final Judge of the quick and the dead, but He comes as the King of all the earth. "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth." "In that day there shall be one Lord, and His name One." (v. 9)

And what follows all this is not the general conflagration of the elements (II Pet. 3), but the Kingdom—the subjection of the nations to Christ. "And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations, which came against Jerusalem, shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts." (v. 16)

I refer also to Zeph. 3:13-17, and to Luke 19:12, where our Lord likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a nobleman going to a far country "to receive for himself a kingdom and to return."

Bearing on the same subject, we have the testimony of the Apostle Peter in Acts 3:20, 21. "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."

Last of all I refer to Luke 1:32, 33. In announcing the birth of Christ, the angel said to Mary, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever."

Now these prophecies, and many others which I might name, will remain forever unfulfilled, unless the coming of the Lord is Pre-Millennial. In the Scripture we have a prophetic history of - the order of events which fill up the interval between the ascension and the second coming of Christ. The whole thing is mapped out before us in the parables in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, and in the Book of Revelation. And with this prophetic map before us I would like any one to show where there is a place for a Millennium between the ascension of Christ and His Second coming.

Take the parable of the tares. This covers the whole ground, or history, between the personal ministry of Christ on earth, and His future Advent. 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; the tares are the children of the wicked one. Both were to grow together till the harvest. The harvest is the end of the world—the age—the present order of things. There is no room for a Millennium here. According to this and the other parables there will be a mixed state of good and evil until Christ shall come. "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity—then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father." (Matt. 13: 37-43)

So in the Book of Revelation we find no place for a Millennium until Christ comes. But after opening the seventh seal which ushers in the Millennium of the earth, what do we hear? Voices in Heaven saying, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." (Rev. 11: 15)

Thus the testimony of the whole Scriptures concerning the Kingdom proves that the coming of Christ is Pre-Millennial. Christ will set up His Kingdom in person. (Dan. 7:13-27. Luke 19:11-15) But when will He do this? At the end of the times of the Gentiles. "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." The times of the Gentiles are the times of Gentile dominion and supremacy. They include that portion of history covered by the four universal kingdoms referred to in Dan. 2:31-45.

What is to succeed the times of the Gentiles? The Kingdom of God ; the Kingdom of the Son of Man. "And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for-ever." (Dan. 2:44)

The sovereignty of the earth is to be given to the Son of Man as the second Adam. (Psalms 8; Heb. 2:5-10) Christ is to sway the scepter of unlimited empire over the nations, for a thousand years of blessedness. Under His reign all things will be brought into subjection to God. His will shall be done in earth as it is in Heaven. All the enemies of God will be subdued. Death will be destroyed. And at the time when Post-Millenarians say that Christ will come, He will have already have been here for a thousand years; subduing evil, and making all things new. After the final purgation of unrighteousness, He will deliver up the restored Kingdom, in glory and blessedness, to God. In all the earth there will be no unsubdued evil, no rebel sinner, no enemy of God or man. And now God will be all in all.

But it may still be asked: Must not the world be converted before Christ comes? The New Testament does not teach this, but the very reverse. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) In the last days there will come perilous times. (I Tim. 4: 1-3; II Tim. 3: 1-5) "And as it was in the days of Noe so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." (Luke 17:26)

When Christ comes, the world will be in the condition it is in now, .full of scoffers and unbelievers, asking, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (II Pet. 3:4) Iniquity will abound, and the love of many wax cold. There will be "wars and rumors of wars," at the very time when Christ shall come. (II Pet. 3; Matt. 24) It may be asked again, Is not death the same as the coming of the Lord? The New Testament carefully distinguishes between death and the coming of the Lord. (John 21: 21-23)

Many overlook what is clearly revealed in Scripture, that the second coming of Christ is His coming in bodily presence, in His glorified humanity. "This same Jesus shall come again in like manner," etc. (Acts 1: 10, 11) The New Testament only speaks of two comings, the first and the second. "To them that look for Him shall He appear the second time, without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:27, 28)

Now I have four indictments to bring against the Post-Millennial theory:

1. It perverts the Word of God. It figurizes God's mind out of His Word ; and for God's facts and testimony substitutes human fancy and theories that were never heard of for two hundred and fifty years after the apostolic age. Let those who are guilty of this treatment of the divine Word ponder, Rev. 22:19.

2. It destroys the blessed hope of a weary wailing church. Christians who are looking, waiting, longing daily for the coming of the Bridegroom and the Deliverer, feel this blessed hope as an uplifting power, filling them with gladness and stimulating them "to attempt great things for God, and to expect great things from God." But Post-Millenarians come to these hoping, rejoicing Christians, and say, "You are foolish in cherishing such a hope. The Bridegroom will not come until the end of the millennium. What you are to look for is death, not that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

3. It destroys the force of the Lord's coming as the great motive of Christian life. I do not know of a single instance in the New Testament where death is used as a motive. The great motive of the New Testament is the coming of the Lord. If we are looking daily for the coming of the Lord, saying in the morning, "He may come before the evening," and in the evening, "He may come before the morrow," we cannot live in sin, in worldliness and unfaithfulness. And this hope will impel us to diligence and to tremendous earnestness in evangelistic and missionary labors for the Lord whom we love and expect here at any time. (Luke 21:34-36)

Now if we should teach that the coming of the Lord is not at hand, but that it is far off in the distant future, what effect will its postponement produce? Precisely what Christ predicted: "And if that servant say in his heart, my Lord delayeth His coming, and shall begin to beat the men servants and the maidens, and to eat and to drink with the drunken, the Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder " (Luke 12:45)

4. Last of all, Post-Millenarians cannot use all the inspired prayers of the Bible. Here is one: "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." They must say, "We cannot pray this prayer and hold these post-millennial views. We cannot say, Come quickly, when we believe in our hearts that He will not come until the close of the Millennium, and we do not know how many centuries may roll away before the Millennium shall be ushered in.

But someone may say, "How could Christ say three times in the last chapter of the Bible, Behold, I come quickly,' when He knew that He would not come at least for eighteen hundred years." Our life is confined within the narrow limits of threescore years and ten, but Christ works on a vast and eternal scale. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." On the dial plate of the eternal future eighteen hundred years are less than a day, less than an hour, a mere moment of time. Measuring time by this Divine standard, Christ says, "Surely I come quickly." And let all the redeemed say, "Even so come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20)