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Historical Premillennialism


And now we come to Historical Premillennialism.  To understand HP (see what I did there!) …let’s think about some movies…in the following movies, who was the main character and what did they have to go through to triumph in the end?


*Lion King. 

Simba was the main character, right?  He had to overcome who?  His uncle Scar and the heinnas…Simba had to do this before he could take his throne.

*It’s a Wonderful life.

George Bailey was the main character, right?  He had to overcome who and what?  He had to overcome his assistant losing $5,000 dollars and Mr. Potter before Bailey Buildings and Loans could be successful.

*Happy Feet.

Main character is Mumble.  Mumble had to overcome not being able to sing before he could marry the love of his life, right?


In a lot of our life…people have to overcome adversity before ultimate triumph.  This idea is expressed in the endtimes view of Historical Premillenialism.


Now, with Amillennialism, Postmillinialism, and Historical Premillinialism…all of these views have the church going either currently experiencing the tribulation, having experienced the tribulation in the past, or in the case of Historical Premillianialism, going to go through the tribulation in the future…but all of these three views have the church going through some kind of tribulation before the second coming of Christ.


And the argument that these people often make is that suffering often leads to repentance.  As it is stated in Revelation 2:22-23,


22 â€œTherefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds.23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.   Rev 2:22-23 (NLT)


In this passage, John was writing to the church at Thyatira…and he was saying what…people will suffer greatly unless they repent.  Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Historical Premillennialism all hold that the church (believers) will go through the tribulation.


So What’s the difference between these views?

Amillinialism – basically the millennium is symbolic, and the church experiences the tribulation any time it’s persecuted.

Postmillenialism – most of these people are preterists…and they believe that most of the events of the tribulation took place around 70ad with the destruction of the temple.

And Now today…Historical Premillennialism – this group of people believes that the church will go through the rapture sometime IN THE FUTURE, before the second coming of Christ.


Historical Premillennialism is different, however, from Amillennialism and Postmillennialism, because people that accept Historical Premillennialism believe that Christ will return at the end of the tribulation, and He will institute a literal 1,000 year millennium.


So PRE-millenialism…Christ comes back BEFORE the millennium.


Now, the last view that I’ll write a separate post about is Dispensational Premillennialism.  What I want to say here is that there are some differences between these two views.


Historical Premillenialism differs from Dispensational premillennialsm in two major ways.


FIRST OF ALL…most dispensational premillennialists, they believe that believers are raptured out…they are caught up to be with Christ, either before the tribulation, or at the midpoint of the tribulation.


Historical Premillennialists, on the other hand, believe that the church goes through the ENTIRE tribulation.  And then Christ will return and institute the millennium.


There’s also a second way in which they differ as well.


Historical Premillennialists believe that references to Israel in the book of Revelation are symbolic, and refer to the church.


For example,  Romans 9:6-8 says,


6 Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people!7 Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,†though Abraham had other children, too.8 This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.   Romans 9:6-8 (NLT)


And Matthew 3:7-9 says,

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!†he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.9 Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Matt 3:7-9 (NLT)


Historical Premillennialists will make the argument that God has only really had one set of children…the OT Jews were saved by looking forward to a coming Messiah…Today, Christians are saved by looking back upon the finished work of Christ…


Dispensational Premillennialists view Israel and the Jews and the church as two separate groups.


But the main difference is that Historical Premillennialists make the argument that the saints are on Earth during the tribulation – from passages like Revelation 13:7…while Dispensational Premillennialists will make the argument that the church will be raptured up…from passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:17.


So there you have it.  Historical Premillennialism.

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OK.  Time for the last one!  At this point, we have looked at Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Historical Premillennialism.

This last post is about Dispensational Premillennialism.


Dispensational Premillennialism is the most different from all of these three other views of the endtimes.  Unlike all of the others, most Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Christ will come back for his church BEFORE the time of tribulation.   (Some dispensational premillennialists believe that the church will go through some tribulation and then be taken back).


Also, unlike all of the other three views, Dispensational Premillennialists call this coming back of Christ to get the church the rapture…and then after the 7 year period of tribulation, Jesus returns with His church in the Second Coming.

IN OTHER WORDS, Dispensational Premillennialists are the only group of people that believe that the rapture and the second coming of Jesus are TWO SEPARATE EVENTS.


Therefore, one criticism that is often brought up against Dispensational Premillennialism is to say that these people believe in Two Second comings…and this is not taught in scripture.


Well…a Dispensational Premillennialist would respond and say something like,


“No we don’t believe in two second comings…What we’re saying is that the rapture really isn’t a second coming because Jesus Christ appears and we meet him in the air…In other words, during the rapture Christ doesn’t come back the whole way down to Earth and actually touch the ground…Then the 7 years of tribulation occur…then Christ comes back with us at the end of the tribulation, and this is the true Second Coming…and we reign with Him during the millennium.â€


Another complaint that will be brought against Dispensational Premillennialists is that nowhere in the Bible do you actually find the word rapture.


But a Dispensational Premillennialist will show you different scriptures…and they will say something like,


“Look, just like you won’t find the word Trinity in the Bible…that doesn’t mean the concept isn’t present.  Furthermore, they will say, it certainly seems like there are scriptures that suggest a rapture, and there are also scriptures that suggest that the rapture and second coming are two separate events.â€


Let’s begin by looking at some scriptures that seem to suggest a rapture.


I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.18 So encourage each other with these words.
Chapter 5

1 Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you.2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.3 When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,†then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.4 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. 5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.6 So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.7 Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk.8 But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.9 For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.10 Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.  1 Thess 4:13 - 5:11 (NLT)


What is going on here?  Well, Paul is generally thought to be the author of 1 & 2 Thessalonians.  These were letters to the church at Thessalonica.  Elsewhere in the Bible, Acts 17 tells us about Paul coming to Thessalonica…but he couldn’t stay long because there was a riot that forced him to leave…so soon Paul sent Timothy to be with these people.


The church seemed to do pretty well…but then false teachers started to tell them that Jesus had already come back…therefore the believers in this area were worried that they missed it…and they were also worried about their loved ones that died…that they would somehow miss the second coming.


So Paul writes to them in our scripture from 1 Thessalonians above …and what does he say really happens when Christ appears again?  (LOOK AT VERSES 16-17).  Pall says that those who are Christians who have died will be raised first…and then those that are living will rise and meet him in the air.  So in this instance…it appears that the believers (the true church), both dead and alive, are being taken up to Heaven with Christ.


This is what Dispensational Premillennialists will call “The Raptureâ€.


This, they will say, is different from the second coming…Look at Revelation 19:11-16,


11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself.13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress.16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.   Rev 19:11-16 (NLT)


Most people believe that this passage here describes the second coming…it says the King of Kings and Lord of Lords comes back riding on this white horse.


Now who is with him according to verse 14?

The scripture says that the armies of heaven, dressed in finest pure white are with him.  Many premillennial dispensationalists will say,


“See, these armies of heaven…this is really the believers, those that were already raptured up, and now they are coming back with Christ as their leader in the second coming.â€


Furthermore…look back at 1 Thessalonians 5:2.  What does this verse tell us about the timing of the Rapture, when does it happen…when do believers get to meet Christ in the air?

It says the day of the Lord’s return will be unexpectedly…like a thief in the night.  We don’t know the timing!


On the other hand, look at Matthew 24:15-22,


15 â€œThe day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about—the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.†(Reader, pay attention!)16 â€œThen those in Judea must flee to the hills.17 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.18 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.19 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.20 And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.21 For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.22 In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.   Matt 24:15-22 (NLT)


Here, it appears as if Jesus is talking about a time of tribulation…then look at verses 29-30 from Matthew 24….


29 â€œImmediately after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

30 And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  Matt 24:29-30 (NLT)


Here, After Jesus finishes talking about the tribulation…he says immediately after the anguish of those days…the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.


Do you see what we’re getting at here?  Scripture seems to suggest that there’s one event in which believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air…and of this event no one will know the timing of it…they call this the rapture. 


And then there is this second event that seems to be implied by the other scriptures…one in which Christ returns with His church to the Earth…and we’re told that this clearly happens at the end of the period of tribulation.  Dispensational Premillennialists will call this “The Second Comingâ€.


Now, beyond believing that the church is raptured up before the tribulation, and believing that the rapture and second coming are two distinct events and separate events, there is also another belief that separates Dispensational Premillennialism from all of the other views.  And this is the dispensational belief that God still has work to do and promises to fulfill with Israel.


Remember in the last post…we said that HISTORICAL PREMILLENNIALISM teaches that God has always only had one people.  Historical Premillennialism says that in the OT people were saved by looking forward to a coming Messiah…and that as New Testament believers, we are saved by looking back.


Dispensational Premillennialism is different.  Dispensational Premillennialists say that God has worked through time with different purposes and different groups of people.


So a Dispensationalist will say that God worked with Promises to the Patriarchs…these were people like Abraham, Moses, and Noah…he made promise to these people.  Remember some of these promises…Abraham was promised descendants…Noah was promised that God would never again to destroy the earth with Water…Moses was promised that the Lord would redeem His people.  God also promised David that the Messiah would come from his line.  In other words, God works in different ways at different times through promises he makes to his people.


The New International Dictionary of the Bible puts it this way, it says that a dispensation may be defined as a covenantal period during which faith in Christ is manifested by a distinct form of ceremonial obedience…


So in the Old Testament how did the people of Israel showed their commitment to God?  They showed it through circumcision and obedience to the Levitical law.


Now regardless of how many dispensations the different groups believe in…the bottom line is that Dispensational Premillennialists will say that God still has promises to fulfill to the patriarchs…and Israel.

For example, Genesis 15:18 says,


18 So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River—19 the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites,20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites,21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.†Gen 15:18-21 (NLT)


What Dispenational Premillennialists will say is that even Israel in it’s heyday under Solomon…it never had this much territory…and so there must be a time in the future in which God keeps this promise to Israel.  They will say…look it began in 1948 when Israel was re-established…and eventually Israel will expand.


Furthermore, what Dispensational Premillennialists will says is that part of the purpose of the Rapture is going to be getting the church up and out of the way…(they might not put it that way…but that’s the idea)…so that God can complete his work with Israel, literally fulfilling all of these promises during the time of tribulation.


Dispensational Premillennialism is the most popular view of the endtimes among Christians today.  However, this view is also the newest view…having begun only about 200 years ago.  In addition, out of all the four views of the endtimes, it’s the Dispensational Premillennialists that get most worked up over current events.  Many see things happening, and they try and tie them in with the end times. 


So that’s Dispensational Premillennialism in a nutshell.


That’s all of the major views.

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