Premillenialists are certain that the Lord will return to set up a physical kingdom in Israel and rule from David’s literal throne for one thousand years. Other interesting and bizarre doctrines surround this core idea but that really is premillenialism reduced to its core: we are living before (““pre””) the millennia (thousand year reign of Christ).
It is not difficult to reduce pre-millenialism to rubble. A few key scriptures are all one needs to show that Jesus never intended to set up a physical kingdom (John 18:36), He set up His kingdom during the time of the apostle’s lives (Mark 9:1), and that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne (Hebrews 8:1; Acts 2:34-36). However, without reasoning through the technical details of these passages I believe it is possible to see that premillenialism simply is a doctrinal disaster. It makes no sense, practically or scripturally.
For example, who can really believe that Jesus failed? This is a necessary thesis to premillenial doctrine. Jesus is going to return and establish His kingdom (a physical kingdom) because He failed to do so during His first coming. Immediately the mind screeches to a halt. The Lord failed? Jesus came to do something and couldn’t get it done? How can’that be? Lest anyone argue that the people would not receive the kingdom Jesus was (apparently) frantically trying to set up note John 6:15: ““Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”” No one can say that Jesus could not have been a physical king. These people were desperate for such a king, so much so that John tells they would have made Jesus king against His very wishes. It won’t do to argue that Jesus failed to set up His kingdom. Here was the opportunity He needed. Why didn’t He seize it?
We might note further that even at the Garden arrest Jesus was well aware of the resources and powers He commanded. He told Peter to put up His sword, there would be no military struggle of any time because, if Jesus desired He could simply pray ““to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”” (Matt. 26:53). What if twelve legions of angels had appeared? Will anyone seriously argue that the Jews would not have willingly and gleefully joined that angel band as it warred against the hated Romans?
So we see one of the key points of Calvinism falls flat. The bottom line is that Jesus doesn’t fail. Period. If He had wanted to set up a physical kingdom He simply would have.
Allow me to note another embarrassing problem in premillenialism. Pre-millenialists believe one of the keys to ““triggering”” Jesus’ second return is the rebuilding of the physical Temple in Jerusalem. Much is made of Ezekiel’s millennial temple prophecies (see chs. 40-47). Yet the astute Bible reader might ask ““Why should the Temple ever be rebuilt? What do we need it for?”” This may appear to be a foolish question, until one reads Hebrews 8-10. There the point is made very powerfully that Jesus replaced the old covenant temple by entering into the ““true”” temple ““not made with hands”” (8:11) to offer His own blood. The temple or tabernacle is seen in Hebrews to be merely a model, or shadow, or miniature of the reality of heaven itself. Why would anyone want to rebuild the model?
Further, and even more damaging, the conclusion the Hebrew writer draws is that the blood of bulls and goats was ultimately ineffective for solving the sin problem and so Jesus Christ is the better, one-time, sacrifice. ““And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God”” (Heb. 10:11-12). If the Temple could be rebuilt today, at this very moment, what would one do there? To offer sin and guilt offerings there would be an insult to Jesus’ sacrifice. Either Jesus’ sacrifice is the one-time sacrifice, eliminating therefore all other sacrifices, or it is not. If it is not we should erect a temple and get on with the offering of needed sacrifices. If Jesus’ offering at Calvary is what Hebrews says it is then the Temple becomes completely superfluous.
Incidentally, while premillenialists love to make much of Ezekiel’s so-called millennial temple they are utterly perplexed at what sin offerings are doing in that temple during the time of Jesus’ earthly, one-thousand year reign (see Ezek. 43:18-27; 45:18ff). Why are there sin offerings during the millennial reign of Jesus? Do the blood of those bulls and goats somehow do something Jesus’ blood could not?
Again, premillenialism falls apart under scriptural pressure. Premillenialists need to tell us why they want to rebuild the temple and just what they plan to do in there if it ever gets built! Why don’t they accept the perfect sacrifice of Christ?
As noted above, premillenialism certainly has many other problems. However, these two simple questions show what a lost cause premillenialism truly is. Further investigation just stacks up more and more evidence against this faulty system of understanding the Bible. Instead of looking for a physical kingdom let us rejoice to find ourselves presently in the Kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13).