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Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 5 – The Kingdom of Christ
by Gerald R. Thompson
In considering the attributes and character of the Millennial kingdom, I have suggested some things that are significant departures from the way both civil society and religion are presently governed. It will indeed be a new world order, not brought about by man, but by God. But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that everything about nature and society will be changed during the Millennium. This period of time will have significant continuity with the present, and it may be helpful to cover some fundamental ways in which this continuity will be maintained.
The Curse of the Ground
There is a common misconception that during the Millennium the curse of the ground will be at least partially abated, if not repealed. Many people make this argument based broadly on the concept of Israel’s restoration, some assuming the entire world will be restored to the condition it was in prior to the Fall. Others take their cue from Isa. 11:6-9:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
However, nothing in this text – or any other text relating to Israel’s restoration – relates to the curse of the ground. The curse of the ground was instituted at the time of the Fall (Gen. 3:16-19) and consists of three key elements: 1) toil and pain (i.e., the creation working against man instead of for him); 2) death; and 3) each person being born separated from God (i.e., having a sin nature).
I am here ignoring God’s curse of the serpent and His curses directed to Eve (pain in childbearing and to be ruled by her husband) because textually those curses were pronounced before God said the words curse of the ground, which phrase was specifically directed to Adam. As I see it, these other curses are certainly part of the Fall, but not part of the curse of the ground. Although, this may be a distinction without a difference, because no part of the Fall will be reversed or undone prior to the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, in my opinion.
Note that fear and enmity between men and animals was not part of the curse of the ground or any part of the Fall. That didn’t come about until mankind was permitted to eat meat after the flood, in Gen. 9:2-3 (at least 1650 years after the Fall). The scripture does not say, as far as I know, exactly when animals became carnivores. Presumably, they were all herbivores until after the flood and man and animals became carnivores at the same time.
Therefore, what Isa. 11:6-9 suggests is that only the post-Noahic flood curses of enmity between men and animals and carnivorous relationships among animals will be at least partially relaxed, if not repealed. I have already discussed this matter earlier.
In any event, death, toil and pain, and mankind’s sin nature will remain unabated during the Millennium. Neither Isa. 11 nor any other scripture indicates that the curse of the ground, as it was pronounced in Gen. 3:17-19, will be partially or fully repealed. How could it be otherwise? The Fall changed the nature of creation and the nature of mankind right at the beginning of history. Nature, as the law of nature tells us, is immutable. It will not change until the creation itself is changed.
In other words, the curse of the ground will not be lifted until God destroys the present creation and makes a new heaven and a new earth. Indeed, this is the clear indication of Rev. 22:3 when describing the New Jerusalem: “No longer will there be anything accursed,” which the KJV translates as there shall be no more curse.
Further, since death is an integral part of the curse, the curse cannot be repealed until death itself is abolished. As long as death exists, the curse of the ground exists. And we know death will not be abolished until death and the grave are thrown into the lake of fire at the Great White Throne Judgment at the very end of history, immediately preceding the new heavens and new earth. Rev. 20:14. Also see Rev. 21:4, describing eternity (not the Millennium) as when “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
So that is why I say, during the Millennium people will still be born with a sin nature, separated from God. All people alive during the Millennium will sin and fall short of the glory of God. People will still die and experience toil and pain. Life will be better, but not perfect. The Millennium is not heaven. It is not even a return to the Garden of Eden, or strictly speaking, a return to innocence. Innocence once lost can never be regained. It will simply be a time of relative rest from pervasive wickedness – not an end of sin. That comes later.
Dominion Over The Earth
Tell me if you’ve heard this bedtime story: In the beginning God gave mankind dominion over the earth, but in the Fall that dominion was lost. Since the Fall, the earth has been under the dominion of Satan, but when Jesus returns man’s rightful dominion over the earth will be restored (as Satan will be locked and chained in the Abyss). Leave this fable in the fairy-tale book, because it simply isn’t true.
Yes, of course God gave mankind dominion over the earth in the beginning. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen. 1:28. And yes, Satan will spend the Millennium locked up in the Abyss. Rev. 20:1-3.
But people never lost that dominion in the Fall. And God never gave Satan man’s prior dominion (much less could Satan forcibly wrench from people what God had given them). People still have full dominion authority over the earth, and no one can or will take it from us – ever, and we can never lose it – ever. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Rom. 11:29.
For one thing, the Dominion Mandate of Gen. 1:28 was repeated almost verbatim in Gen. 9:1-3: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” If anything, this second giving of the Dominion Mandate was more expansive than the first, not less.
If the first giving of the Dominion Mandate had expired or been terminated because of the Fall, then the second giving of it undid whatever damage the Fall had done. But in truth, the second giving of the command was not really necessary as the first command had never lapsed. The second merely affirmed and confirmed for Noah and his family that in spite of all that had happened as a result of the flood (i.e., the death of 99.99% of the world’s population), God’s intention, plan and command had not changed. “Get out there and do it again, only this time eat meat” is all it meant.
We cannot really grasp the significance of the Dominion Mandate until we recognize that it is the better part of the Adamic covenant, the first divine covenant between God and men in history, and one of only six such divine covenants to date. The nature of all divine covenants is that each of them is eternal – they never expire. So the Adamic covenant, along with the Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New Testament covenants are all still running in parallel until God creates the new heavens and the new earth.
The Adamic covenant didn’t stop when the Noahic covenant came along (people are still reproducing). The Noahic covenant didn’t stop when the Abrahamic covenant came along (we still eat meat and the rainbow is still a promise). The Abrahamic covenant hasn’t stopped (all nations are still blessed through Abraham and the Promised land still belongs to Israel). The Ten Commandments are still standing. Jesus will still sit on the throne of David in the Millennium because the covenant with David is still good, and the Church will still be with us until the end of time.
By its very nature the Dominion Mandate is something which will never end while this earth remains. Which means that whatever dominion God gave man back at the beginning is still man’s to exercise with full authority.
So, exactly what authority was included in the Dominion Mandate? First, the authority to have children, and to have more of them than there are of their parents (i.e., to multiply). By necessary implication, the right of reproducing includes all associated rights of child-raising, including their training, discipline and education.
Second, the right to subdue the earth includes the rights to labor, industry, invention, cultivation, construction, and like things. To shape and reshape the earth – to work it, tend it, and use it for our benefit. By necessary implication, the right to subdue necessarily includes a host of economic rights: freedom of contract, private property, commerce and choice of occupation, etc.
Third, the Dominion Mandate includes the authority of mankind to rule over the entire animal kingdom. Which means: 1) animals have never been and will never be our equals – they are beneath us; and 2) animals are living things, but they are not living beings, meaning that they have no souls. Compare with Gen. 2:7. By necessary implication, animals are mere property for man.
Notice what the Dominion Mandate does not include: dominion over outer space (such as other planets), and a limited dominion over the seas (we can traverse them, and fish them, but they are not given to us as a habitation). Plus, as other scriptures make clear, man’s dominion over the earth is exercised as a steward, not as an owner. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Ps. 24:1.
But most importantly, mankind’s dominion does not include the authority to rule over other men (apart from the parent-child relationship). Thus, mankind has no inherent right to rule over neighbors, governments, nations or kingdoms. This is the basis for the rule that governments are instituted among men by the consent of the governed, and not by any inherent or inherited right.
So when we look at what scripture says about Satan’s dominion for comparison, what do we find? Jn. 12:31 calls Satan the ruler of this world, a phrase echoed in 2Co. 4:4 (god of this world). But, what world, or what part of this world? The spiritual world? The physical world? 1Jn 5:19 says the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. But, does that mean absolutely everything in this life is ruled by Satan?
Part of Satan’s dominion is unquestionably in the spiritual realm. Satan is denoted the prince of the power of the air in Eph 2:2. We have already discussed how he is likely the king of the demons. Rev. 9:11. We know that Satan stands before God accusing the righteous day and night. Rev. 12:10.
We begin to get a clue concerning Satan’s earthly dominion in Lk. 4:5-6: “And the devil took [Jesus] up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.'”
We can add to this the statement of Eph. 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Fortunately, we also know that Satan will be cast out – or thrown down – from the heavenly places. Jn. 12:31; Rev. 12:9-13.
These scriptures clarify for us what it is Satan has dominion over: the whole world system of governments and kingdoms, which he rules in darkness and for evil purposes. We have seen this already in examining the history of world empires – each one of them, not merely some, played a key role in the progression of Satan’s kingdom building on the earth, which will culminate in the kingdom of the Antichrist. This is the dominion of Satan, and it covers the whole earth.
However, does the scripture ever say that Satan has dominion over the animal kingdom? No. Does he have authority to reproduce, or to raise or educate children? No. Does Satan have private property rights, freedom of contract, or occupational freedom? No. At no point was Satan given the authority that was given to people. At no point did mankind’s dominion become forfeit or lost.
What we have here are two dominions operating concurrently. Each dominion is for a separate purpose, and operates under a separate authority. Between the dominions of mankind and Satan there is no overlap. Neither one interferes with, or cancels out the other. They both run in parallel at the same time. They are separate and distinct. Yet both dominions cover the entire globe at the same time.
This shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp. A man can simultaneously be an individual, a husband, a father, a sibling, a church member, a church elder, a school teacher, a member of a union, a member of a veterans group, a resident of a town, and a citizen of both a state and a nation. All of these are separate and distinct jurisdictions: a man can’t claim the rights of a father at his school, or the rights of a church elder with respect to his state, etc. If he retires as a teacher it does not affect his status with other jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction is for a separate purpose, and operates under a separate authority. In this there is no conflict, no overlap, and no cancellation of some by others.
So it is with the dominions of mankind and of Satan. Whatever changes occur to Satan’s dominion – whether he is standing before God in heaven, locked in the Abyss, or cast out from heaven – these have no effect on mankind’s dominion. And whether mankind is in a state of innocence, subject to the curse of the ground, alive during the Millennial kingdom, or whether any individual is a Christian or is unsaved, these have no effect on mankind’s dominion either.
Until this earth is destroyed and God creates a new earth, man’s dominion will not change. So be it.
Ministry of the Holy Spirit
One of the marvelous wonders of paperback prophetic interpretation is the contrivance often forced upon 2Th. 2:6-7: “And you know what is restraining [the Antichrist] now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” According to this common theory, the “he” in the last sentence, the one who now restrains lawlessness and who will be taken out of the way when the Antichrist comes is the Holy Spirit. That’s right – the third person of the Trinity.
This plays right into the dominant view of dispensationalists that when the secret Rapture comes and the (Great) Tribulation begins, the Church age will end. Thus, according to the theory, the Holy Spirit either won’t be around or will have a severely curtailed ministry during the Tribulation, which is OK since the Church won’t be on earth at the time anyway. As if there is something theologically incompatible with having the Antichrist and the Holy Spirit both fully functioning on earth at the same time.
Which helps explain why, according to many dispensationalists, the Tribulation saints aren’t really part of the Church and will be handled differently, or at least separately, from other Christians in the end times. It also explains why people believe the Church isn’t mentioned in chapters 6-18 of Revelation, even though the Tribulation saints figure prominently in those chapters. (Because those saints can’t really be part of the Church if the Holy Spirit isn’t there.)
I have already shown that: 1) there won’t be a secret Rapture event – ever; 2) the Church age won’t end when the Tribulation begins or the Antichrist appears; and 3) the Tribulation saints are the Church because the Bible only says when these people will die – not when they became Christians. I suppose I might as well finish the job and show why the Holy Spirit won’t leave when the going gets tough.
Did Jesus, in his First Advent, send the Holy Spirit, or did He not? “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” Jn. 15:26. Was that part and parcel of the ministry of Jesus’ First Advent or not? “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” Jn. 16:13. And how long was this supposed to last? “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” Jn. 14:16.
I thought the whole purpose of sending the Holy Spirit was so that God would be with us on the earth while Jesus was away. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment … because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.” Jn. 16:7-10. So, knowing that Jesus will not be on earth during the Tribulation, why would the Holy Spirit leave before Jesus returns?
Are we really supposed to believe that the Tribulation saints will not be indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Where do the scriptures ever say that? (Nowhere.) Remembering that the Holy Spirit is not a thing, but a person of the Godhead, why would God need to take Himself out of the way in order to accomplish His own will? Is the Holy Spirit an obstacle to what God wants to accomplish in the Tribulation? Is the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus, going to have His own second coming? Or will He be absent during the Millennium, too?
If Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both absent from the earth during the Tribulation, isn’t that effectively God abandoning the human race? Going backward in His relationship with people? Is God going back to the Old Testament status of the Holy Spirit as a way of moving forward? Does that mean we’re also going back to a reliance on the Mosaic law when the Holy Spirit leaves? Should I start building a stone altar in my back yard now, while I still can? (Better stock up on knives, too.)
Permit me to note the irony that people who believe the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way are very often the same ones who think the non-Raptured Christ-following saints, in their mortal bodies are going to enter the Millennial kingdom and these will form the foundation of the Church going forward. What kind of true Church is going to carry out the future plans of God without the Holy Spirit? Wait! Aren’t the Christians who survive the Tribulation just the Tribulation saints? I thought they weren’t even part of the “real” Church? How can they be its foundation going forward? Oh, so there won’t even be an actual Church for 1,000 years? Yeah, right.
I have already said that God is going to judge the Church in the Tribulation. Between the persecution of the Antichrist and the great earthquake that will re-level the earth, everything built by the present day Church (physical buildings and organizations of people) will be swept away. Plus, all the Christians alive when Jesus returns will be translated into immortal bodies.
But I never said, and I never meant to imply, that the very nature of the Church would be redefined at that time. God is going to rebuild His Church from scratch, based mainly on the witness of the Jews to convert the Gentiles. But it will be the same type and composition of the body of Christ that we have now. Salvation and the comfort of the Holy Spirit will come to believers the same way they do now. The nature of the Church is not going to change in either the Tribulation or the Millennium. And that includes the nature and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
It is a fair question to ask, “Then what does 2Th. 2:6-7 mean?” The only thing we know about the “he” in the text is that he restrains lawlessness. However, scripture nowhere declares, to my knowledge, that this is the job of the Holy Spirit. Rather, the job of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of evil, not restrain it. Jn. 16:8. Civil rulers are given the job of punishing evil (Rom. 13:1-4), which is a form of restraint, but I doubt civil rulers are in view in 2Th. 2:6-7 because no civil ruler will be able to restrain the Antichrist.
Most likely the text refers to an angel, or possibly the Godhead. But when it says he will be out of the way it most likely means that God will simply allow what He has up to that point not allowed. In other words, even if the “he” in the text refers to God, it does not mean any aspect of the ministries of the Father, Son or Holy Spirit will change. It means nothing more or less than God will not allow the Antichrist to be revealed until it is time to do so on God’s calendar. God will not let Satan or the Antichrist jump the gun.
And this, I think, is the real key to understanding the text. We shouldn’t be focusing on the method or manner of restraint, or what it means to be out of the way. The focus of the text is the revelation of the Antichrist, and that the timing of this revelation is under God’s control, even though lawlessness is already at work in the world.
Honestly, people – to manufacture a “God’s going to take the Holy Spirit off the earth after the Rapture” teaching from this text does the text a great disservice. If God actually intended to convey that meaning in the scripture, don’t you think He would have said so a lot more plainly, and probably confirmed the matter elsewhere in the Bible? To take something which is a mere inference, and a remote possibility at that, then to blow it up into a major change in the ministry of the Godhead – this is eisegesis, not exegesis. It’s reading something into the text that isn’t there.
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* Ver. 8.0. Copyright © 2013-2020 Gerald R. Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version.