Isaiah 66 and the Dispensational Doctrine of Postponement – #4
In our previous article , I demonstrated that Isaiah 66 in conjunction with Acts 3 refutes the Dispensational Postponent doctrine. But, the Millennialists are not alone in having severe difficulties with Isaiah 65-66 – and Acts 3. J. W. McGarvey, leading figure in the early churches of Christ and still highly revered today, stated that the meaning of the restoration of all things means “to finally restore that moral sway which God originally exercised over the whole earth. It is doubtless this thought which suggested the term restoration, though reference is had to the fulfillment of all the prophecies which are to be fulfilled on earth. Not till all are fulfilled will Christ come again.” (J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on Acts, seventh edition, (Nashville, Tn; Gospel Advocate), 58-59– my emphasis).
McGarvey also said in another work that, “the only way to destroy (the law and the prophets) would be to prevent the fulfillment of the predictions contained in them.” He says, “Jesus came to fulfill all the types of the former, and (eventually) all the unfulfilled predictions of the latter. He fulfills them partly in his own person, and partly by his administration of the affairs of the kingdom. The latter part of the process is still going on, and will be until the end of the world.” J. W. McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel Commentary (Chillicothe, Ohio; DeWard Publishing, 2010 reprint), 162).
Now, if McGarvey was correct- and he was- then Christ’s coming to complete the restoration of all things would be at the final fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel. This means that Isaiah 65-66, prophecies of the “restoration of all things” are not fulfilled until that proposed “end of time.” Yet, this flies in the face of one of the fundamental tenets of Amillennialism, and that is that the Law of Moses in its entirety, was nailed to the cross. God was through with Old Covenant Israel at the cross. How, if that is true, could it be said that a vast array of OT prophecies, covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel, remain valid until the end of time?
The bottom line is that if the NT writers are correct – and needless to say, they are – then the Amillennial view that God was through with Israel and the Old Law at the cross, is completely falsified. While Amillennialism and Postmillennialism are not identical to Dispensational Doctrine, nonetheless, as can be seen, both of these schools of thought do protract the final fulfillment beyond the days of the birth pangs, the last days of the first century. This is driven home by looking closer at what Isaiah 65-66 taught.
Both of these great eschatological prophecies anticipated the arrival of the New Heaven and Earth. Needless to say, as the majority of commentators note, these two chapters are the source of Peter and John’s expectation of the New Heaven and Earth. Peter tells us that “according to His promise we look for a New Heaven and a New Earth” (2 Peter 3:13). (Amazingly, some Dominionists such as Gentry and McDurmon tell us that what Isaiah foretold is not actually what Peter and John foretold. In fact, in a stunning development, Gentry now denies that Revelation 21-22 foretold the eschatological consummation! He now says: “Despite initial appearances, Revelation 21-22 does not speak of the consummate new creation order.” (Kenneth Gentry, Navigating the Book of Revelation, (FountainInn, SC., GoodBirth Ministries, 2010), 177).
In an article entitled “Family and Dominion in the New Creation – A Sermon on Isaiah 65:17-25″ dated Apr 29, 2015, posted on the American Vision website, McDurmon admitted that Revelation 21-22 certainly seems to be drawing on Isaiah, but, he insists that since John mentions no death, that the two prophecies must be different. He thus projects Revelation 21-22 into a far distant unknown future. This in spite of the fact that he was also on record as saying that the language of imminence in Revelation demanded fulfillment very soon.
I would be remiss if I failed to comment on McDurmon’s utter inconsistency in that article, as opposed to the position that he took in our formal public debate in July, 2012. In that debate, McDurmon argued:
“If this is the age of the resurrection, then every one of you living in a married relationship is wrong. You need to disband it right now. And so my direction is for every one of you full preterists who maintain this position, and Don, is to quit teaching it and disband your marriages.” (Joel McDurmon, in the book of our debate. The book is entitled End Time Dilemma (Ardmore, Ok; JaDon Management Inc., 2013), 44. The book is available from my websites, Amazon, or Kindle). McDurmon reiterated this argument repeatedly in our debate, even after it had backfired on him badly.
McDurmon then reiterated this argument in a book published shortly after our debate.* In that book, he expressed himself even more graphically: “Jesus is clear and categorical: any discussion of marriage after the resurrection is superfluous because those who attain to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor give in marriage. This presents a colossal; problem for the full preterist who wishes to retain much of an audience besides either monks or whoremongers. If the resurrection happened in AD 70 (or anytime in the past really), then it is inescapable that we should no longer marry or give in marriage. But the absurdity of this position keeps those who wish to appear evangelical from admitting it” (212, 57).”*
* Joel McDurmon, We Shall All Be Changed, A critique of full Preterism and a defense of a future bodily resurrection of the saints, (Powder Springs, GA; American Vision Press, 2012), 55f. McDurmon promotes this book far more than he does the book of our debate. In fact, when one searches for our debate book on the American Vision site, it is difficult to find, and is always “bundled” with McDurmon’s later production. As an illustration of how little McDurmon promotes the actual debate book, American Vision has ordered only five– yes, five– copies of the book from me for resale, in the five years since our debate!
However, in spite of his castigation of preterists in regard to the New Creation and marrying and giving in marriage in the article just cited, McDurmon is very clear and emphatic that in the consummative New Creation, i.e. in the final manifestation of the New Heaven and Earth, there will be marrying. There will be child bearing! That is right! Per Joel McDurmon, in the ultimate New Creation there will be conjugal relations, marrying and child bearing! Yet, he castigated, criticized and condemned preterists for teaching that we are now in the New Creation promised by believers in Covenant Eschatology! Read his comments on Isaiah 65 carefully:
“All of this, rest assured, and more, Isaiah had in mind when he pronounced the coming creation of new heavens and a new earth. Isaiah’s whole vision speaks of God’s dominion and the blessings of a world dominated by God’s sustaining power and grace: rejoicing not weeping, joy not tears, longevity beyond our imagination, security in our houses, abundance in food, no fear of invaders or war, enjoyment of the work of our hands, and no more wild beasts, but peace and harmony. In short, God will have created us a new garden which we shall dress and keep. And God promises that in this New Creation, parents will not bear children in vain, nor will their children face calamity. And there near the end of this list of blessings we read the reasons for which these blessings come; and it says this: “for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them” (Is. 65:24). This is a promise of dominion, dominion through family, through God’s family, and dominion through God’s multi-generational family.” (Quote from the article cited above; My emphasis).
McDurmon gave that sermon three years after our debate. Perhaps he was simply forgetful of what he had said in our debate. Perhaps he thought that no one would recognize the incredibly fatal self contradiction in his theology. Or perhaps, he changed his views regarding the issue. But if so, he gave no indication of such a change.
Why am I pointing out the inconsistencies of the Amillennial, Postmillennial and Premillennial writers? Because to varying degrees, they each have a “postponement” doctrine at the foundation of their eschatology. Dispensational Doctrine is not alone in positing a protracted Kingdom fulfillment! We will examine that claim in the next installment.