Millennialism – Chapters 7-8

Posted: August 7, 2009 in Book review

Ok…so I know what you’re thinking: “Ummm…where exactly have you been? It’s been a month since the last recap of Dr. Charles Feinberg’s ‘Millennialism’?!?” I know, I know. To be fair, this is exactly what I thought might happen when I posted the 1st article on it. But enough excuses…let’s get on with it. 🙂

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Millennialism – Ch 7, “The Kingdom in the Old Testament”

Chapter 7 is aptly named, as Dr. Feinberg traces the promises of the Kingdom throughout the Old Testament. After all, if the entirety of Premillennialism stands or falls on whether or not the Bible teaches a literal kingdom period, then it behooves us to find where it is listed. So, Dr. Feinberg takes us on a ride through the covenants. He shows traces of the promises beginning on the proto-evangelion (which I personally find a little bit of a stretch to apply it to the Kingdom; those were direct promises of Jesus Christ & the victory over sin & death) – through Abraham & the patriarchs – through Moses – through David, the prophets, etc. Over & over we see Scripture after Scripture detailing different aspects of the promised Kingdom.

The point? A literal kingdom period is not solely mentioned in the millennial verses of Revelation 20:4-6. The kingdom is *routinely* portrayed as literal throughout the whole of the Old Testament. It’s no wonder that at the Ascension of Christ, the disciples were still asking about a literal kingdom (Acts 1:6); they had every reason to expect it. After all, the prophecies regarding Jesus were fulfilled literally; why not the Kingdom?

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Millennialism – Ch 8, “The Kingdom Offered, Rejected, and Postponed”

From the Old Testament, Dr. Feinberg goes to the New…and directly into the Gospel according to Matthew. After all these prophecies showing that a Davidic King was to come, Matthew takes pains to show that Jesus is the appointed Son of David. And this Son of David preached repentance & the kingdom. And just as John the Baptist, the people would have expected (from their Old Testament prophets) that the “kingdom” would have been a literal kingdom. As Dr. Feinberg writes:

… Jesus departs into Galilee in fulfillment of the prophetic word and begins to preach: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). That is exactly the same message as John.
Have we any right to assume that Christ meant something altogether different in the employment of those words than did John? Nor did Christ explain what was meant by those words; His hearers knew full well their import. How unwarranted is the assertion, then, of those who find that Christ’s ideas and conceptions of the kingdom involved something far removed from the thought of His hearers. Yet they declare that Christ never held to the essentially earthy or material character of the kingdom. (pg. 132)

From there, Dr. Feinberg moves though the entire book of Matthew. The Law (as given in the Sermon on the Mount, “it is the law of Moses raised to its highest power.” Pg. 133), the works of the King as shown in Matt 8-9 & the miracles, the proclamation of the kingdom to the house of Israel (through the sending out of the 12 disciples in Matt 10), the rejection of the King’s forerunner (John the Baptist – Matt 11), the rejection of the King in Matt 12. Even the parables (Matt 13) point to how the kingdom was given to some, and rejected by others.

At this point, Dr. Feinberg goes into detail on the parables – which I’ll leave to the reader to absorb. Needless to say, the parables say much about the kingdom.

But so it continues throughout Ch 8. Dr. Feinberg shows example after example of Jesus pointing to the kingdom, and not once does Christ correct any notion of the kingdom other than a literal idea. There are many spiritual aspects to be sure – but not once did Jesus say, “Stop thinking of a literal kingdom.” That is what the Old Testament prepared them to look for, and Jesus supplemented that teaching tremendously.

We’ve got a ways to go yet in this book – and I promise I will try to make the reviews more regular in their appearance. I might also begin summarizing a bit more.

To God be the glory!

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