Premillenialism is one of the most common viewpoints about the end times. Simply stated it postulates that before Jesus’ return, and during or immediately preceding a time of intense tribulation, all faithful Christians will be “raptured” or suddenly snatched away to heaven. Shortly following this dramatic event Jesus will return to earth to establish a physical, earthly kingdom in Israel (finally fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham) and reign there for 1000 years. There are many other ideas and doctrines that come with premillenial belief, but that is a fair summary of the basic and most crucial tenets of this view of the end times. Dallas Theological Seminary has cranked out numerous writers and preachers who have pressed this viewpoint, not the least of which has been Hal Lindsey. Mr. Lindsey’s best-sellers, like The Late Great Planet Earth and 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon have taken the technical and theological complexities out of premillenialism and given it to the common man. Yet many don’t realize how badly they are being misled. Premillenialism is not biblical, nor is it true. It utterly fails because:
Premillenialism fails to understand the nature of Jesus’ kingdom. The very reason Jesus was put to death was because He refused to be the kind of leader the Jews wanted: a military ruler. If Jesus had wanted to be that kind of king He was given sufficient opportunity (see John 6:15). Yet Jesus refused to do the very thing that premillenialists are sure He must do! Listen carefully to Jesus’ words when Pilate questioned Him about the nature of His kingdom: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here’” (John 18:36). How can anyone teach that Jesus’ kingdom is of this world, will be an earthly kingdom featuring an earthly reign, when Jesus so clearly says that is not the case at all? Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom not of this world. This kingdom will rule through the power of the Gospel, not through swords or tanks.
Premillenialism fails to understand that the kingdom is presently in existence. Hal Lindsey and others argue that a day is coming when Jesus will establish His kingdom, reigning from Jerusalem. The Bible teaches that the kingdom has been established, and that Jesus is reigning now in heaven. So Jesus promised the apostles, in Mark 9:1, that “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” Premillenialists tell us that Jesus failed to set up His kingdom (Deity failed? Hmm....) and so must return to set it up at some future time. But what of this promise to the apostles? They are all dead. Did Jesus lie to them? Did He tell them they would see the kingdom and then not fulfill His word? Of course not. The kingdom did come, and the apostles saw it. It began in Acts 2 and continues to this day as the church. So Scripture plainly teaches: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13). Are premillenialists ready to admit they are still in the “power of darkness” since they do not believe the kingdom now exists? Lest anyone misunderstand, note that the apostle John certainly thought he was in the kingdom: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ . . . “ (Rev. 1:9). John says he is in the kingdom, but the premillenialists say it is yet to be established! Who will we believe?
Premillenialism fails to understand the role and place of physical Israel. The Israelites were God’s chosen people (see Gen. 12:1-3), but they were called for a purpose. Several passages make that purpose clear: to prepare the world for the Messiah so all people would be drawn to God. In Malachi 3 the prophet rebukes the people for their failure to give as they should, urging them to do so that God would bless the land again. What effect would this have? “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land, says the Lord of hosts” (3:12). Israel’s prosperity would attract other nations to the One true God. This was the point and purpose of God calling one nation to Him, to live as peculiar people who would show by their example the inferiority of idols to Jehovah, and prepare the world for Jesus. Now that Jesus has come there is no need for such a nation. Indeed, the NT teaches that God shows no partiality among people today (Acts 10:34), and that as far as the Lord is concerned, racial distinctions mean nothing (Gal. 3:28). Thus, racially being a Jew or an Israelite today is meaningless. What matters is whether one is a Christian. This is exactly Paul’s point in Romans 2:28ff when he says that the “true Jews” of today are those who are Christians, not racially born Jews! So “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26) but it will be spiritual Israel, the true Israel of God, not a certain race of people.
Other problems with premillenialism could certainly be noted. I would particularly direct your attention to Kevin Kay’s fine articles beginning on page 12. He deals with the common notion the God still owes the Jews something, and that they still have a divine right to the land of Palestine.
Study these matters carefully, with an open mind and open Bible. When you do so I believe that you will see that premillenialism is biblically inaccurate and erroneous. Let us choose truth over error.