Waldron: An Eternal Millennium

“Many…passages really speak not of a temporary or millennial reign, but of an eternal kingdom on earth. The passages under discussion assume the perfection or sinless-ness of this future kingdom. The millennium is not a perfected kingdom on anyone’s interpretation. It cannot, therefore, be that to which these passages refer.

Isaiah 65:17-25 is the most problematic of such passages and speaks of the new heaven and new earth in terms that at first glance seem to fall short of perfection.

17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And. the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing, And her people for gladness. 19 I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. 20 No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Shall be thought accursed. 21 And they shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit, 22 They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the Iifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands, 23 They shall not labor in vain, Or bear children for calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their descendants with them. 24 It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.

Verses 20 through 23 seem to apply the language of “a new heaven and a new earth” to a period in which death is still a reality, It speaks of great longevity and remarkable freedom from early
death for the people of God, but this language seems to assume that in the end death is still a reality. Because of this language, this passage has been a classic proof-text for those who believe in
some form of millennial golden age.

Several conclusive arguments may be brought forward against the millenarian interpretation of this passage. First, all the other uses of the phrase, “New Heaven and New Earth,” in the Bible have reference to the eternal state and the perfectly redeemed earth (Isa. 66:22-24; 2 Pet. 3:13, and Rev. 21:1).

Second, the condition described in Isaiah 65 appears to be permanent not millennial (vvs.17b, 18), Third, the New Testament applies this passage to the eternal state. Verse 19 reads, “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying, This anticipates Revelation 21:4: “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Only the perfectly redeemed (and not the millennial) earth brings about the cessation of weeping and crying.

Fourth, the perfection of the conditions described in Isaiah 65 contradict the millennial interpretation. Isaiah 65:25 says, “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.” Only the eternal state brings the end of all evil and harm in God’s holy mountain.

How do we deal with the statements in this passage which assume the continuation of death in the New Heavens and New Earth? We must remember an important principle in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy. Old Testament prophecy often predicts God’s coming, glorious kingdom by things familiar to the people of God.

Even we cannot understand what an earth without death would be like. This was even more true in the Old Testament shadows. Thus, the Prophets spoke of the age to come as the highest possible happiness in the world as we know it; Such happiness is pictured by a world where all the greatest sorrows and deepest tragedies of our world are unknown.

Thus, this passage does not speak of the absence of death. It speaks rather of great longevity and the absence of premature death. The unknown is revealed in terms of the known and the future in terms of the past.

Ezekiel’s prophecy of the wonderful temple illustrates this (Ezekiel 40-48). In particular, the prediction of sin offerings by a levitical priesthood within that temple must be explained on this basis (43:18-27). A woodenly literal interpretation of these chapters flatly contradicts the New Testament teaching on the finality and superionty of Christ’s sacrifice and the final abolition of the old sacrifices by Christ’s work (Remember Ephesians 2 and the Book of Hebrews).”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 236-238.

Waldron: How Can Jesus Not Know the Day and Hour of His Second Coming?

“Matthew 24:36 reads as follows:

‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’

By way of a brief or preliminary exposition of this passage, I want to say two things.

First, when Christ refers to “that day and hour”, he is referring to the day and hour or time of His second coming: The entire context puts this beyond doubt. Jesus has been speaking of His second coming in the preceding context 24:27, 30, 31). He goes on to speak of this event in the immediately succeeding context (24:37). He uses this exact language to speak of His second coming in the following context (24:42, 44, 50).

Second, Christ asserts here that knowledge of the time of His second coming is hidden from every intelligent creature. Of the time of His coming, Christ says, “no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Now this statement is from one viewpoint quite perplexing. It raises the question, If Christ is God and, therefore, omniscient or all-knowing, how can there be anything he does not know?

The solution to this question is suggested by The 1689 Baptist Confession. In Chapter 8, paragraph 2, it echoes the historic, orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ. There the Confession states that the Son of God possessed a “whole, perfect, and distinct” human nature. Thus, the Bible speaks of Him as a man physically or bodily. He was hungry, thirsty, and grew tired. The Scripture also speaks of him as a man spiritually or mentally. He grew and matured intellectually (Luke 2:40, 52; Heb.5:8).

Therefore, when we come to Matt. 24:36 there should be nothing surprising to us in Christ’s assertion that there were some things He did not know. If we are not stumbled when we hear the Son of God say, “I thirst,” there is no reason why we should be stumbled when we hear Him say that there is something He does not know. If we are not stumbled when the Scripture says that he grew in wisdom, then there is no reason for us to be stumbled when the Scripture declares that not even the Son knows the time of

His second coming. Jesus is speaking here as a man. He is not declaring to us the contents of the divine mind, but of His human intellect. Christ here asserts that neither He, nor any other man, nor even the angels of heaven knew the time of His second coming.

Think about the implications of that statement. Jesus’ statement implies that God had not revealed the date of the end of the world to any of the men or angels by which God communicated to men in the Old Testament. It also implies that He had not revealed it to the Son by which He brought that revelation to conclusion in the New Testament.

All of God’s special revelation is brought to us either by the angels and men through whom God spoke in the Old Testament or through His Son and the other men through whom He spoke in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Jesus is, thus, plainly teaching that the time of His coming is not a part of the revelation God chose to give men in the Word of God. Therefore, no amount of scholarship or genius, not even a whole life-time of study dedicated to the study of typology, numerology, or prophecy will ever find in Scripture some secret, figurative, mysterious revelation of the time-period of Christ’s return. It has not been put in the Scriptures and no amount of searching will find it there.”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 173-174.

Waldron: The Ethical Tension in the Life of the Christian

“So many Christians are taught to seek experiences which will deliver them from the tension of living in the period of the overlapping of the ages. They want in this age a higher life, or a deeper life, or a victorious life, or a second blessing, or a baptism of the Spirit that would in effect take them out of the contradiction, sorrow, and trial of this age.

The only way however, for a true Christian to escape the battle with sin and the experience of sorrow in this age is to depart this age. He must either die and go to heaven or enter at Christ’s return into the age to come.

The teaching that promises the cessation of conflict and trial in this life is no friend to the Christian. This biblical structure warns us that in this age there is no blessing not followed by trial, no joy not followed by sorrow, and no final victory over remaining sin.

Christians must beware of the mountain-top syndrome. There is no remaining always on the mountain top in this age. We must always rejoice with trembling. When Christians stop seeking an experience that the Bible never promises them in this life, they will be prepared properly to enjoy the blessings God gives them in this life and not look for something in these blessings that they will never find. They will also be prepared to face the reality of the Christian life squarely, fight the good fight of faith, finish their course, and run in such a way as to win.

This framework also explains much about the future of the church. We must not look for a golden age before Christ’s return. This is a denial of the character of this age. But we must not be “pessimillenialists” either and see nothing but apostasy for the visible church. This is also a denial of the overlapping of the ages.

The church is enlivened by the powerful realities of the age to come that have already broken into the world with the first advent of Christ. Those who tell people that they should not “polish brass” on the sinking ship of the church are tragically mistaken. Those who teach that this dispensation of the church (like every
other dispensation) must surely end in failure and apostasy are wrong. They weaken the hands of true Christians in their God-ordained labor to build the church of Christ.

Both the gloomy pessimists and the starry-eyed optimists have imbalanced views of the future prospects of the church. The biblical viewpoint understands the overlapping of the ages and balaces these contrasting viewpoints in a realistic optimism.”

-Sam Waldron, The End Times Made Simple, 51-52.