Written Debate: When Did the Millennium Begin? Campanik’s Second Affirmative
I would like to thank Mr. Preston for the opportunity to debate him on the nature and timing of the millennial reign of the saints and martyrs. I also thank him for setting aside his time to provide an elaborate response to a few of my original points. He states he intends to address the rest in a subsequent rebuttal. Nevertheless I choose to expand further on those in addition to addressing his specific concerns, as they all dovetail together and reinforce one another.
Mr. Preston has shown he is working within a universe of very limited and narrow scope. This was manifest by his first rebuttal in three primary ways:
First, in asserting and assuming the New Heavens and New Earth are, strictly speaking, only earthly realities–even though he admits there is an afterlife and a spiritual realm.
Second, in assuming my interpretation of Romans 11 precludes all prophecy concerning the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel being fulfilled in the1st c., even though St. Paul explicitly says the Jews will be re-grafted into the olive tree (singular)–i.e., the true Israel, the Church–not restored to their Old Covenant status.
Unfortunately, and as a result, Mr. Preston ends up arguing against a premise and position I would not recognize as my own. All of the passages Mr. Preston cites from the Old Testament certainly regard the prophetic fulfillment of the promises in 70 to Israel, but this does not logically preclude Paul arguing for a future conversion and regrafting of the Jewish people. The Old Covenant was destroyed, it is gone forever. That the Jews’ future conversion somehow negates the fact the Old Covenant was permanently removed is simply sloppy thinking and exegesis.
Third, since Mr. Preston cannot imagine the Millennium being anything other than a first-century, forty year period of time, he passes over those points from my introductory remarks most fatal to his position:
The saints possessed the Kingdom in AD 70, after the little horn (Anti-Christ) is defeated and thrones are set in place (cf. Daniel 7:7-8,21-27).
Given Mr. Preston’s commitment to a millennium existing between the Cross and Parousia, he cannot admit that the martyrs who came through the great tribulation reigned during the whole length of the Millennium, even though Rev.20:4 explicitly states:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
This is why full preterists resort to arguing the martyrs reigned during the last few years of a millennium beginning in ca. 30 AD., rather than through the entirety of it. But this does not get them off the hook, it only accentuates the problem. If the beast is Nero (it is not, it is Titus – more on this below), this means the martyrs began reigning when Satan was released (AD66/67), during his “short time” (Rev. 20:3) to “deceive the nations” (20:8) until AD 70. But again, the saints reign during the millennium(Rev. 20:4, 6), not after the Millennium and during the Satanic rebellion. There is no possible way around this dilemma for Mr. Preston. His position is dead in the water from the very outset.
It should be obvious from the foregoing that Rev. 20:1-4 is not a capitulation back to AD 30, because the subject of 20:4 is the subject of 19:19-20. Let’s compare:
Rev. 20:4: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
The subjects of both 20:4 and 19:19 are those who refused to receive the mark of the beast or worship his image! The millennial reign began when the beast and false prophet (an obvious reference to AD 70) were”cast alive into the lake of fire…” (19:20).
In short, the entire scene from 19:11-20:4 is sequential, an uninterrupted and unified narrative, with the saints beginning their reign and possessing the Kingdom in AD 70 for “a thousand years”.
Further, we know that Satan was “cast alive into the lake of fire” after the millennium and after the beast and false prophet were cast there (Rev. 20:10):
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The Old Heavens and Old Earth
While I plan to elaborate more on the last point as we proceed, we have already established–more than adequately–when the Millennium begins: in AD 70. Given this fact, we must adjust our thinking on the new heavens and earth to account for it.
In 70 AD, the “Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26) came “down out of heaven from God” (Rev.21:2). The “times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) refers, then, to the whole post-70 millennial period. The “restoration of all things” does not come in one moment. It is worked out over time, being inaugurated in AD 70.
Even though Hades was emptied of the righteous after the “first resurrection” in 70 AD (Rev. 20:4-6), “…the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5). Confusedly for many, this “end of time” event is featured in the famous resurrection passage of Dan. 12:2, which sits in the middle of an exposition of prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in AD 70 (cf. 12: 1, 11-13). How is this reconciled?
The Parousia, which quite clearly occurred in AD 70, is also unveiled again at the end of time, after the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15):
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
What we are proposing is quite the opposite of what partial preterists aver (i.e., that this event in 20:11 constitutes “another” [physical] coming of Christ post-70). Rather, it is merely another unveiling of one and the same Parousia. The Parousia was not an “earthly” event. It is a heavenly event that was unveiled to some on earth in 70 AD, and will be again (to all on earth) after the millennium. It is a theophanic unveiling of the glorified humanity of Jesus Christ ruling over an eternal Kingdom from His throne in heaven.
In short, Dan. 12:2 is couched during the events of AD 70 (historical aspect), but the fullness of the general resurrection (in its heavenly aspect) takes place after the second resurrection, after the millennium (Rev. 20:11-15), when”the rest of the dead” live again (Rev. 20:5) and “Death and Hades [is] cast into the lake of fire” in the “second death”(Rev. 20:14). In other words, Daniel is compressing the first and second resurrections (divided by the millennium) into a single (heavenly) reality. Again, this is because there is only one (heavenly) Parousia, not multiple ones.
I Cor. 15:24-28:
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says“all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”
In light of the foregoing, we can better understand the implications for the passage quoted above. All “authority and power” had been given to Christ ca. AD 30 (cf. Matt.28:18). He would “deliver” the Kingdom of God to the Father in AD 70, a year that did not bring to completion but (rather) inaugurated the “times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21) on earth, corresponding to the millennium, Satanic rebellion, and its aftermath (Rev. 20: 3, 11-15).
Thus, it was in AD 70 that “the last enemy” (death) was destroyed for Christians (I Cor. 15:26, cf. also Rev. 14:13), but was not fully emptied (of the unrighteous) until “the rest of the dead” lived again to reap the “second death” after the millennium (Rev. 20:5, 13-15). This is how we should take passages such as Romans 8:18-25 (i.e., in a two-fold or two-stage manner), as corresponding simultaneously to both the end of the old creation (Old Covenant) and the end of the old creation / end of time (Rev. 20:11), which are summed up together in the Parousia of Christ.
The new creation of Rev. 21-22 is not exclusively about the millennium (on earth), nor exclusively about a (post-millennial) heavenly existence. The covenantal language of the O.T. (e.g. Ezekiel 47:1-12, Isaiah 65: 17-25) used to describe life in the New Covenant is equally suitable to describe the (more literal) reality of a heavenly and eternal (glorified) life with Christ. The new creation has a double-reality aspect.
Mr. Preston and his comrades create dilemmas where they do not exist, and imagine their opponents defeated at the outset, when in reality they themselves suffer from an acute myopia which renders them incapacitated, unable to properly account for the reality of the fullness of life in the eschaton.
Ezekiel 38-39, Romans 11, and the Jews
First let me say that my first statement regarding the “contrast” between Ezekiel and Revelation 20 re: Gog and Magog was an unintentional error. In fact, I saw it afterwards and corrected my post the day it was posted to the facebook group. Mr. Preston must have cut and pasted my note to another document before I was able to correct the oversight. Mr. Preston most certainly is correct that there is nothing different between these two passages, and they are referencing the same end-of-millennium occurrence.
With respect to Ezekiel’s account, the most glaring problem with the full preterist 70 AD interpretation of this passage is that it does not at all fit into the schema of AD 70. Let’s just take Ezekiel 39:21-29:
21 “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. 22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward. 23 The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them.”’
25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name—26 after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and noone made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, 28 then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. 29 And I will not hide My face from the many more; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’says the Lord God.”
It is obvious what is going on here. Verse 23 is a clear reference to AD 70, when “Israel went into captivity for their iniquity”. But “now” (vs. 25),”I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel.” This is happening after the Jews’ expulsion from the Holy Land in vs. 23. Verse 27 is even more explicit, showing God’s intention to gather them “out of their enemies’ lands”, and to “hallow them in the sight of many nations.” When they are brought back, “they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity [in AD 70] among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer” (vs. 28).
Israel will return to the Holy Land after they have repented (the condition for being regathered, cf. Deut. 30:1-5) and will be hallowed among the nations as members of the New Covenant people of God, the true Israel/Olive Tree. I initially believed the existence of the modern state of Israel might be the (partial) fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy, but in light of Deut. 30’s requirements, this was not fulfilled by the Zionist entity. In fact, far from repenting, they seized land that was not theirs, and occupied the land in blood and genocide. I do not think it likely, therefore, that the modern state is the fulfillment of Ezekiel. Additionally, this is the position of many Orthodox Jews today, who have noted the same thing.
In any event, full preterists are hard pressed to explain the final verses of Ezekiel 39. How does the regathering (occurring just before the battle of Gog and Magog) fit into an AD 70 schema when the Jews were being dispersed in the Diaspora, not regathered? There simply is no explanation for such a huge and obvious oversight.
Luke 21:21-24 –
Likewise, in the Gospel of Luke, we also see an allusion to the Jews’ future regathering (Luke 21:21-24): 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
The first three and a half verses are clear references to the great tribulation surrounding the events of AD 70 and the dispersion of the Jews, but the underlined portion extends well into the future, until Ezekiel’s regathering (Ezek. 39:25-29). The “times of the Gentiles” here (Luke 21:24) describes a situation which prevails over the entire course of the millennium.
Most full preterists would be prone to arguing the “times of the Gentiles” refer to the Romans being permitted to trample Jerusalem for a period of time (Rev. 11:2). Luke 21:24, however, implies that the trampling of Jerusalem would be subsequent to the Jews’ dispersion. Thus it makes the most sense to interpret the “times of the Gentiles” as that period of grace during which the gospel is offered to the Gentiles (i.e. the period of the millennial reign). “Their [the Jews] being cast away is the reconciling of the world…” (Rom.11:15), an ongoing reality.
Romans 11 –
St. Paul does not argue for the extension of the Old Covenant into the New Covenant period. He does not prophesy the coming of another temple in Jerusalem. What he does say is that the Jews are “beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Rom. 11:28). When the “fullness of the Gentiles [fullness of the “times of the Gentiles – cf. Lk. 21:24] has come in…”, “…all Israel will be saved…” (Rom. 11:25-26). For “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (11:2), “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (11:29). Why would Paul argue the gifts and the calling of God on the Jews are irrevocable if God were going to turn around roughly 14 years later (from the time Paul wrote the book of Romans ca. 56 AD) and permanently revoke His calling on them? What an insane proposition!
Contra Don Preston, St. Paul has no problem with the future conversion of the Jews as a people/nation. He does not need to adopt a proto-dispensational world view to accommodate it, either. This is why he uses the analogy of the olive tree. He says the unbelieving branches of national/physical Israel were being cut out, and believing Gentiles were being grafted into the tree of the true Israel (Rom. 11:17-20). One tree, not two, thus establishing the continuity of the covenant. Thus, “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (Rom. 11:24).
Thus, Mr. Preston’s following claim is not only false, but naive: “The promise of Romans 11:25-27 is not a promise to the church. If, as Jonathan says, Romans 11 is about “national Israel,” then it has to be– of necessity– about Old Covenant Israel.” This is about as big of a false dichotomy I have ever seen, and it flies in the face of St. Paul’s olive tree analogy to boot.
Before leaving this topic, we should address the full preterist claim that St. Paul is referring exclusively to the Jewish “remnant” that would be saved before AD 70 (Rom.11:2-7)–in contrast to the majority who had been “hardened” (“the rest were blinded” – cf. 11:7).
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Clearly and obviously, the “all Israel” (11:26) that would eventually be saved is not a reference to the remnant who were coming to faith, but to the majority of physical Israel who had been blinded.
So when Don says “…Romans 11 is prima facie proof that the millennium did not begin in AD 70…” he (to be blunt) does not have the slightest notion of what he is saying.
An Afterword on the Millennium
To make the structure and sequence of what I pointed out earlier even clearer than it already is, it is important to point out the following parallels between Daniel 7 and Revelation:
Daniel 7 –
A. The Antichrist (little eleventh horn) makes war with the saints and overcomes them for the three and a half years of the tribulation (Dan.7:21,25).
B. The Antichrist is defeated by the AD 70 coming of God/Christ (Dan. 7:22),and delivered to the fire (vs. 11).
C. Thrones are put in place (Dan. 7:7-10) as the court is seated and the saints possess the kingdom (vv. 26-27).
A. The Antichrist (individual beast) makes war with the saints and overcomes them for three and a half years of the tribulation (Rev. 13:5-7).
B. The Antichrist is defeated by the AD 70 coming of Christ and thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:11-20).
C. Thrones are put in place as the millennium begins and the saints possess the kingdom (Rev. 20:4).
As a postscript, it should be noted that Titus continued to live beyond AD 70. The one who is thrown into the lake of fire in Rev. 19:11-20 is the demon/angel working through Titus. This is proven in that the beast rises up out of the”abyss” (Rev. 17:8) to make war against the saints.
And finally, it bears mentioning again that the “short time” Satan has in Rev. 12:12 comes after Christ’s ascension (12:5) but prior to his (Satan’s) being bound for the millennium in the “abyss” for “a thousand years” (Rev. 20: 2-3). That is to say, Satan is cast first from heaven to earth (Jn. 12: 31 / Rev. 12: 3-4); then he is thrown into the abyss for the millennium (Rev. 20:2-3); and finally, when the millennium is over, he is “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are” (20:10). The “short time” of 12:12 and “short time” of 20:3 are two different times altogether, the one occurring after the devil is cast down to earth from heaven, the latter after he rises up out of the abyss. **
The timing of the millennium could not be any clearer than this. EoQ.
Jonathan Campanik amended his initial presentation and changed it to this:
<<My wording in one place may have been somewhat ambiguous, and I would like to add a brief statement to my first rebuttal simply stating that my position on the post-70 Jews is this: that all biblical prophecy regarding the Jewish people RELATIVE TO THEIR STATUS UNDER THE OLD COVENANT has been fulfilled. That is the basic premise I am defending there.
I added two short sentences under the following paragraph from my original rebuttal:
“Second, in assuming my interpretation of Romans 11 precludes all prophecy concerning the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel being fulfilled in the 1st c., even though St. Paul explicitly says the Jews will be regrafted into the olive tree (singular)–i.e., the true Israel, the Church–not restored to their Old Covenant status. That is to say, all biblical prophecy regarding the Jewish people has been fulfilled, but only relative to their status under the Old Covenant. They are still objects of God’s future salvation.”>>
Editor’s Note: For those wanting to read more on the Millennium, see Joseph Vincent’s book, The Millennium: Past, Present or Future?