So I receive this multi-page glossy ad in the mail yesterday. A star of David superimposed over a mosque, with soldiers in the foreground and fighter jets overhead. “The Battle Ground” “The Beginning and the End.” say the subtitles. Inside we are promised that if we come to this 3-day event, we will understand “The destiny of Israel”, “7 years of tribulation”, “God’s covenant with Israel”, “Rebuilt Jewish temple” and “Armageddon and the Middle East”.
All of this to be delivered by renowned self-help author, pastor and speaker, Rich Cavaness, c0-author of “Decoding the Secret“.
So for the umpteenth time in the last 100 years, we will hear about the impending end of the world when Israel is attacked. Believers will be raptured away, and there will be 7 years of tribulation, and then Jesus will return to rule for a 1000 years before casting the devil into hell forever. And this was supposed to have happened at least 20 times since 1948, when Israel became a nation.
I have family members, good Reformed Christians, who believe this. And it is an accusation against the Covenant churches that they do. Because not often enough are we taught that the escathology described above is based on pre-millenial dispensationalism, the fall-out of the the teachings of Arminius, Darby and Scofield. The system insists that God’s redemptive plan is focused on national Israel, with a special provision made for gentiles during the “church age”, the second-to-last of the seven dispensational periods.
Suffice to say that the Reformed tradition, and in fact the larger church tradition, is different. As my good friend Puritan Lad points out here, many of the early church fathers held to a different view of the 1000 year period. This position is based on the fact that the promises made to Israel, David and Abraham in the Old Testament are fulfilled by Jesus and His church in the present.
The millennium, in the context of escathology, holds an important role, because it is the time-period between the two advents of our Lord. This is mentioned in Revelation 20, and stands symbolical of the entire time period between the advents. At the first advent, Christ bounds Satan with His victory over death and resurrection at Calgary and the empty tomb. Christ is presently reigning in heaven, and will do so until the second coming. At the end of this age, there will be a large general apostasy, followed by the general resurrection and final judgment by Christ, and the new heaven and earth.
All of the above can only happen if we are children of the Covenant, and heirs to the promises that God made to Israel.