Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Distinguishing between The Millennium and The New Heaven and New Earth.

Distinguishing between The Millennium, and The New Heaven and New Earth in the Hebrew Scriptures can be difficult. One can argue that without the help of the New Testament we wouldn't know for certain there are two distinct future Messiah reigning on Earth time periods to look forward to. But I do think it's possible to draw that conclusion from the Hebrew Bible alone. But we certainly don't get any doctrinally absolute reason to give either a time frame of exactly 1,000 years without the Book of Revelation.

Chuck Missler likes to say that most of what we know about the Millennium comes from the Old Testament, not Revelation 20. Thing is I don't think he's ever cited any OT passage as being about the New Heaven and New Earth, or New Jerusalem.

Futurists are good at understanding everything that happens during the Eschatological Week in Revelation based on it's OT references. But it seems to be we're not so great at doing the same for Chapters 20-22.

Chuck Missler also likes to define the Millennium as the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. But the Davidic Promise in II Samuel 7 and elsewhere is never defined as a Thousand years, it's defined as Forever.

Let's take Isaiah 65 for example. Chuck Missler and others are convinced this can't be the Eternal state yet where there is absolutely no Curse because Death does seem to happen during this time in verse 20.

"There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed."

First off the assumption that there is absolutely no Death in the Eternal state simply because The Curse of Genesis 3 is gone I think is based on an assumption that no one new will be Born during this period, and thus no one new will need their Eternal fate to be decided. But the Eternal state is also a return to how things where supposed to be before Adam fell, and before Adam fell he was already told to be fruitful and multiply. Adam's Sin is the origin of Death, I'm not a Gap or Extended Day theorist. But in the future there could still be new people who need to make Adam's choice. I also feel like Saved Women should get the opportunity to experience painless childbirth if they choose to.

Yes I know how people think Jesus statement about there being no Marriage in the Resurrection equals no reproduction. But they're misusing that the same way that same passage is misused to support the Sethite view of Genesis 6.

But besides all that, this verse is expressed in a poetic style, and it's possible to interpret the real message of the verse as being that there is no Death. Certainly not the Death Curse we've been bound to, where it is appointed unto each Man once to die. And which I think to an extent could still exist in the Thousand years, nearly a Thousand Years was the normal lifespan between the Fall and the Flood.

The thing is verses 17-19 just before this says.

"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."

Now if you read that without any preconceived notion put in your head by your favorite commentator about where this fits into Biblical Chronology. I'm pretty sure you'd have to conclude it resembles Revelation 21 far more then Revelation 20.

Ezekiel 40-48 is another important passage where Chuck Missler and Chris White and almost every major commentator simply states unambiguously that this is the Millennial Temple/Kingdom. But the thing is New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 is drawing on imagery of Ezekiel 40-48 constantly, not just the 12 gates named for the 12 tribes, and there are no Ezekiel 40-48 references in Revelation 20.

Ezekiel 43:7-9 tells us how long this condition God's revealing to Ezekiel will last.  It does not say 1000 years, it says FOR EVER.

The differences people use to refute seeing these as the same, are no more significant to me then the inconsistencies between Revelation 4, Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah's visions of the Heavenly Throne Room of God. They're clearly describing basically the same thing, but because they're mortal four dimensional humans seeing something that is in fact beyond their compression because they've left Space-Time, the details of what they see, or how they choose to describe what they see, have some pretty seemingly incompatible differences.

The first and most obvious difference that comes to mind is that Revelation 21:22 says "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." And Ezekiel's vision revolves around The Temple. But a few things to consider. 

First, The Temple in Ezekiel is very different in both how it looks and how worship there functions, it could very well be that John seeing the same thing simply saw it as a Royal Palace or Throne Room rather then as a Temple.

Second, Technically John just says there was no Temple in the City, and Ezekiel's Temple is technically outside the City.

Third, Revelation 21:3 does say "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men". And sometimes the future Messianic Temple is described as the "Tabernacle of David" (Psalm 15:1, Isaiah 16:5, Amos 9:11).  The name of Ezekiel's Jerusalem is Yahweh Shammah, meaning "The LORD (YHWH) is there" Ezekiel 48:35, clearly parallels that verse from Revelation 21.

And Ezekiel's description of the "Temple" he saw never tells us the material the walls are made out of.  For all we know it could be a Tabernacle rather then a Stone Temple.

Chis White when he mentions this debate briefly acknowledges the similarities but says the differences are far greater. But it's only the Size he singles out, (and the size is the only difference I even remotely consider a problem).  Observing that the size of Revelation's New Jerusalem dwarfs the entirety of the Promised land laid out in Ezekiel, being about half the size of the Continental United States.

But again, in the Eternal state physical reality itself has changed, and even size could be a matter of Ezekiel and John's perception.

Some have argued you can calculate the circumference of the Earth by combing the measurements in Ezekiel 40-48 and Revelation 21-22. science tells us that the circumference of the earth about the equator is 24,902.4 mi. (40,076.5 km), and that the circumference about the poles is 24,860.2 mi. (40,008.6 km). Using data from the biblical books of Ezekiel and Revelation, we can easily arrive at a number between these two figures.
There are reasons I'm not inclined to agree with the entity of that site's premise, but it's an interesting mathematical theorem.

The main point is that regardless of size Yahweh-Shammah and New Jerusalem have the exact same shape, a perfect Cube.

Perspective is important to consider, Ezekiel ultimately spends more time on the rest of the Holy Land, while John pretty much only describes New Jerusalem.

I think maybe Ezekiel is describing the size of the city as it appears from the Outside and John how it appears on the inside.  That may be difficult to wrap your head around, but remember in The New Creation the laws of physics itself could be different.  If you're a Comic Book Nerd, think of it maybe as being like the Bottled City of Kandor, except the bottle is still larger then the entire modern city of Jerusalem.

Another objection is Ezekiel also seems to allude to people possibly dying. Ezekiel's style isn't as Poetic as Isaiah, but I still feel the same arguments can apply.

That Sacrifices are performed is an issue for Christian theology whether it's the Millennium or the New Creation.  One answer I've considered is that the Sacrifices references are semi-allegorical and it's all Jesus Blood that was shed on The Cross.

Revelation 22 begins by describing the same river Ezekiel describes. Now I've seen people say Ezekiel's River is also in Joel and Zechariah, in contexts that have it coming into existence around the time of Armageddon. And not connecting it to Revelation 22 at all. But I've looked at the relevant references in Joel and Zechariah, and they don't seem like they're describing this single very special River at all, certainly not as identically as Revelation 22 does. Daniel 12 also seems to see the same River and places it after the White Throne Judgment.

But still the view I'm advocating here could have the River come into existence at the start of the Millennium in some form, before the Holy City's descends and perfects it. But it's also clear to me in Daniel 12 that some Old Testament discussions of Eschatology tend to skip right from the end of the First Resurrection to the Second Resurrection, effectively skipping the Millennium the same as Chuck Missler likes to point out how The Church Age is often skipped over.

The possibility that much of what Ezekiel describes begins in The Millennium is possible.  The connection to Revelation 21-22 are pretty much all in the Description of New Jerusalem itself, which directly comes into view in the last chapter.

Paul defines The Church as The Temple of God in I Corinthians 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" And Ephesians 2:21 "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:". In the Latter the Twelve Apostles are also defined as the Foundation, fitting Revelation 21's description where it's in parallel to the Twelve Tribes. Jesus promises the Disciples they'd rule the Twelve Tribes at The Last Supper.

And each individual believer's body is also defined as The Temple of God in I Corinthians 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?". John 2:21 also defines the body of Jesus as The Temple. And The Church is The Body of Christ.

New Jerusalem is spoken of as being synonymous with The Bride of Christ. "Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." So all this imagery overlaps. I do not believe any of this contradicts there being a literal Temple Building or City lay out like Ezekiel saw and measured.

I still see Israel and The Church as distinct Covenants, don't think I'm confused on that. But they are linked Covenants, our salvation is still derived from Genesis 12. The promise made to the Twelve Disciples shows those in the Church that are of physical Israel are in a sense inheritors of both covenants. The 144,000 are also interesting to look at, I don't allegorize them, they are specific people from each Tribe minus Dan. But in Revelation 14 they sound an awful lot like The Church.

Now you might be worried that I'm supporting some form of Amillennialism, by pushing up some of the epic unmistakable details of the Millennium.  No, I still take Revelation 20 literally.

Even if the time-span of a Thousand Years doesn't calculate to exactly how we'd measure a Thousand Years, it's still a period of time when Christ rules on Earth with Bodily Resurrected believers. And there is still no way you could convince me the events of Revelation 6-19, or Matthew 24, already happened in 70 A.D. or any other period already in the past.

The problem with Amillennialisim is making the Millennium synonymous with the Church Age. My own reading of Revelation 19-21 gives me the impression The Church won't even be on Earth during The Millennium. Christ's Co-Rulers there are chiefly the Post-Rapture Tribulation Saints who were Martyred for not taking the Mark and worshiping the Beast or his Image. But I do feel inclined to see Pre-Church Saints, who were Resurrected soon after Jesus in 30 A.D. as Matthew 27:52 records, as being here too.

If Ezekiel is not describing the Millennial Temple as we keep assuming. Maybe it's wrong to assume the Millennial Temple will be a separate building from the coming Third Temple. The Second Temple could be rededicated after it's violated by Antiochus Epiphanes. Jesus is at least as qualified to rededicate a violated Temple as the Maccabees where. And if we believe Daniel 8's Little Horn applies to the coming Man of Sin as much as to Antiochus, verse 14 says the Sanctuary will be cleansed, not destroyed and rebuilt.

Independent Nation States do still exist in the New Heaven and New Earth, not just The Millennium. Revelation 21:24 "And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it." That's probably another stumbling block that makes people assume the Millennium in various Psalms and Isaiah passages where perhaps they shouldn't.

Psalm 48 I believe is about the descent of New Jerusalem.  It's linked to the "Sides of The North" a term elsewhere in Scripture is used only once, linked to God's Heavenly Throne in Isaiah 14.

So since I see the New Heaven and New Earth in so many places where most see the Millennium, where do I see the Millennium in the Hebrew Scriptures? Well some passages that are very broad in nature might simply have both in view together, like one simply saying The Messiah will reign for ever.

Daniel 7 is one key passage for getting from the Hebrew Bible that there is a distinction. The Fourth Beast (Edom-Rome) is destroyed right at the beginning of the Reign of the Son of Man in verse 11. But the other Three beasts (Assyria, Persia, Greece) in verse 12 "they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time." So there is a distinction here.

I've come to support the Post-Millenial view of Ezekiel 38&39 but allowing the possibility of a lesser near fulfillment. Christ White while he does not agree with my New Jerusalem view makes a good argument on this subject. Based on that, I think it's probable that it's only really Persia which won't continue into the Eternal State, being destroyed for taking part in the Gog and Magog invasion.

It's possible to some degree changes will take place even during the Millennium. Ezekiel 29-32 seems to see a period of Egypt being desolate and it's people scattered for 40 years, and I also see the possibility of The Antichrist as contemporary with the beginning of this period. Joel also sees Egypt as Desolate at the time the Millennium starts like Edom had become. But it won't be forever like Edom because Isaiah 19 talks about Egypt and Assyria having a special relationship during some Future Messianic era. Whether that's latter in the Millennium or the Eternal State I don't know.

The Jubilee is often seen as a type of the Millennium.   That too should maybe be rethought.

If the the Thousand years are a "Sabbath Millennium" as often thought.  Then we should remember that The Jubilee isn't the Seventh of something, it's an 8th, what comes after the Seven are all complete.  Like the 8th day of Tabernacles is sometimes viewed as.

On the other hand, defining the Millennium as a Sabbath Millennium isn't directly Biblical, and arguably draws on accepting too much Rabbinic tradition.

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