It’s something many overlooked in discussions regarding the future reign of Jesus upon the earth, known as the millennium. Those opposed to it, point to God’s supposed rejection of Israel. They claim the Lord has replaced Israel with the church.
I recognize the misguided spiritualization that amillennialists – those who deny Jesus’ future reign – employ on Old Testament prophetic passages relating to Israel, but what do they do with the similar prophecies pointing to Jesus’ rule upon the earth that do not mention Israel? How does one spiritualize kingdom promises made exclusively to the Son?
- The Promise of the Nations
In Psalm 2, we read that the Father promises the Son all the nations of the world as his “heritage.” Verse 7 says, “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’” The Father thus pledges to give the nations of the world to His Son as His inheritance.
The rest of Psalm 2 makes it abundantly clear this is a physical reign over the nations. Verse 9 states, “You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” In the following verses, the Psalmist warns the kings of the earth to “serve the Lord with fear” (vv. 10-11). How can anyone construe such language to relate to the church?
In Psalm 2, the Father promises the Son physical dominion over all the nations of the earth. To make Jesus’ rule spiritual here goes against both the intent of the author as well as the context of the Psalm.
Does this not also help us better understand Satan’s temptation of Jesus regarding the nations of the world? In Matthew 4:8-9 we read, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’” In essence, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut to obtaining His inheritance.
If the Father promised His Son a spiritual kingdom in Psalm 2, then what is the temptation here? If the promise of the nations was spiritual in nature, the cross would become the means of obtaining such a domain. The words of Satan signify a much greater temptation if we understand Psalm 2 in the way the author intended it, that of a physical kingdom apart from going to the cross.
This promise of the Father poses a difficult, if not impossible, problem for the amillennialists who deny the premise of a literal millennium. What do they do with the Father’s pledge to the Son in Psalm 2? Here the Father simply promises that the Son will someday rule over the nations apart from His promises to restore Israel.
- Daniel’s Promise Regarding the Son of Man
In many ways, Joseph from the book of Genesis is a type of Christ. One way in particular relates to Jesus’ future reign upon the earth.
After the children of Israel rejected Joseph and sold him into slavery, he endured much adversity before rising to power as the second in command in all Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at the time. Pharaoh, who ruled over all his vast empire, gave Joseph his authority over the kingdom.
We see this played out in Jesus’ reception of the kingdom from His Father. Daniel 7:13-14 pictures the “son of man” (a favorite designation Jesus used of himself) coming before the “Ancient of Days” who gives him “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.” Just as Joseph received his authority from Pharaoh, Jesus will someday receive his right to rule over the earth from his Father in heaven.
Daniel 7 refers exclusively to physical kingdoms on the earth. The idea of a spiritual kingdom into this chapter is not only foreign to the text, but goes against all sound principles of interpretation.
And, this particular prophecy (Dan. 7:13-14) deals exclusively with the “son of man,” with the Messiah. This is a prophecy, a promise relating to Jesus and His future rule upon the earth.
Jesus, when on trial before the Sanhedrin, referred to the Daniel 7 passage in His response to the High Priest. “Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven’” (Matt. 26:64). If you compare Jesus’ words here with Matthew 24:30, it’s clear Jesus’ words in both instances refer to His future Second Coming. This is the time He fulfills Daniel 7:13-14.
- The Promise of a Child
It’s one of the most familiar Messianic promises in the Old Testament. Isaiah 9:6 begins with these words, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” Rarely a Christmas goes by when we do not hear these words read or sung.
However, the rest of the passage refers to this Child, to Jesus, as ruling over a kingdom. Verse 6 specifically says that “the government shall be upon his shoulder” while verse 7 states He will reign “on the throne of David.” How can anyone interpret the opening lines of this prophecy as literal and the rest spiritual? And, this is a much more expansive rule than just over Israel. It’s an ever increasing dominion over the earth.
Along with the kingdom prophecies and promises made to the nation of Israel, we discover the same in regard to the Christ. These prophecies, and several more, refer to Jesus reigning upon the earth; they do not mention the restoration of Israel, which other passages clearly assert.
My point is not at all to diminish God’s everlasting covenant with the nation of Israel, but to simply point out that the promises of the millennium extend to the Son, not just to Israel.
And, is it even within the realm of possibility that the Father would renege on a promise to his Son such as we find in Psalm 2? Absolutely not; it’s totally absurd to even think of such an occurrence! The Father will keep His promise of giving His Son the nations of the world as His inheritance.
Furthermore, if the Lord can break His promises to His Son as well as His covenant with Israel, this leaves us with very little security, does it not? Think about it.
Jonathan C. Brentner
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