Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 5 – The Kingdom of Christ
by Gerald R. Thompson
ONE WORLD RELIGION – CON’T
Religious Freedom – The New Normal
As for non-Christian religions in the Millennium, we can expect unbelief in Christ to persist in this time, but it will likely be scattered and largely unorganized. The worldwide Church of Christ will be pervasive and, in keeping with the nature of a theocracy, sponsored and protected by the government. Now, before the Second Coming, religious establishments (state sponsored religion) are always a bad idea and lead to tyranny. But in the Millennium, Jesus will not let power go to his head – He will not be corrupted by it as men always are – and He will not become a tyrant.
We can expect, in keeping with the original Ten Commandments, laws acknowledging Jesus as the one true God, prohibiting idolatry, prohibiting taking God’s name in vain, and possibly some Sabbath laws. But the mistake many people make is in assuming these laws will be of a most extreme and restrictive nature, when I see something quite different emerging.
Yes, there may be laws acknowledging Christ as God – they pretty much would have to, seeing as how His seat of government will be the Temple in Jerusalem, and where He will also sit as the Head of the worldwide Church. Kind of like the King of England also being the head of the Church of England – Defender of the Faith, etc. – but worldwide and for real this time.
God has never yet punished mere unbelief as such, and I have no reason to expect that to change in the Millennial kingdom. People will not be walking around saying “Praise the name of Jesus, peace be upon him” and crossing themselves every time they have a simple conversation. There will be no religious oaths required as a condition of citizenship or as a badge to conduct commerce. Jesus is not going to pattern His kingdom laws after the manner of Satan’s kingdom.
Yes, we can expect some laws against idolatry, but only overt idolatry of the kind indicated in Exo. 20:4. In other words, idolatry involving physical idols, or graven images. Most probably, all worship of the sun, moon and stars will be prohibited, given the historic animosity God has had for such things and the role they will play in the end times. But don’t expect any laws regarding matters of the heart – the so-called idolatry of worshiping the desires of the heart such as a love for material possessions. Don’t get me wrong – the love of possessions is a moral wrong, but there won’t be a civil law about it.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I have never yet found an instance in the Bible where God punished or prohibited what might be called mere conceptual idolatry (the worship of possessions, pleasure, power or money, etc.). Idolatry in the Bible, as far as I can determine, is always referring to the worship of an actual physical object as a god, usually made of stone, wood or metal. If you can find a contrary instance in the scriptures, let me know.
Jesus – even in a theocracy – is not about to violate the principles of Mat. 5:21-48, where He clearly marked the difference between man’s court and God’s court. Anger, lust, swearing, alienation of affections, and hate are all morally wrong, but they are matters of the heart God alone judges, and judges in the heart alone. Just because God will rule the earth in visible form does not mean that all moral offenses will become legal offenses and men will be authorized to punish all offenses against God as an offense against the state.
No one in the Millennium is going to be punished for compassing (or imagining) the king’s death, as the laws of England used to provide. Just because Jesus will rule the earth does not mean He will institute mind control or thought police as a matter of law or government. There will still be intellectual freedom in the Millennium, because as people used to say, God has created the mind free (Thomas Jefferson). God has never overstepped that boundary before and He isn’t going to do so just because He comes into political power. Power isn’t going to corrupt Jesus when He gets it.
Yes, there may be laws prohibiting taking God’s name in vain, but remember this only applies to the name of God, not the word God. In other words, the names God has revealed for Himself, such as Jesus, Elohim, Yahweh (or Jehovah), Adonai, etc. will likely be protected. But the word god just means deity – it isn’t a name, even when it’s capitalized.
And yes, there may be Sabbath laws, something on the order of old Sunday blue laws in the U.S., perhaps closing of businesses. But don’t expect any Millennial laws regulating the number of steps you can take on the Sabbath as the Jewish rabbis used to do, or for that matter, most of the things the Jews used to regulate which Jesus declared to be mere traditions of men, and not really God’s laws. Don’t expect any laws against personal amusements on Sundays, or any of the similar things various Christian groups have long preached about which aren’t really in the Bible either (dancing, playing cards, watching movies, etc.).
If you are wondering what part anti-blasphemy laws will play in the Millennium, that is a fair question. Part of the problem in answering it has to do with defining blasphemy. Historically, blasphemy has had a broad definition in certain cultures. Generally, it means to defame, or bring reproach upon, God. Muslims seem to have a very high regard for blasphemy (and a very low regard for free speech) in that they view any speech critical of Mohammed, Islam or the Q’uran to be blasphemous.
In 17th Century England, blasphemy was regarded as including any speech in which a person would dispute what God may do, deny His existence (atheism), reproach Jesus Christ, and according to Blackstone’s Commentaries, engage in any “profane scoffing at the holy scripture [the Bible], or exposing it to contempt and ridicule.” Vol. 4, Chap. 4. In other words, pretty much the same as historic Islam. Which is exactly the result you should expect whenever government and religion are intermingled and mere men are in charge – a corruption of the law.
Jesus Himself was wrongly accused of blasphemy because he claimed to be able to forgive sins (Mk. 2:7), and He claimed to be the Son of God (Jn. 10:36). Stephen was falsely accused of blasphemy by supposedly slandering Moses, a prophet of God (Acts 6:11). I can find no evidence that any of these things, even if true, would have constituted blasphemy under the Mosaic law.
In point of fact, the only prohibition of blasphemy in the law of God is found in Lev. 24:16, in which the offense is limited to blaspheming the name of God. To be sure, God regarded as blasphemous the idolatry of Israel (Ezek. 20:27), but this was a moral judgement – it was never part of the law given to men to enforce. What men could enforce was limited to essentially a violation of the Third Commandment not to take the name of God in vain. Thus, I have no reason to believe broad general blasphemy laws will be part of the kingdom of Christ.
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 Judgement 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 mankind never lost that dominion in the Fall. And God never gave Satan man’s prior dominion (much less could Satan forcibly wrench from mankind what God had given him). Mankind still has 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. Unless God expressly says so – and the only covenantal aspect He has expressly terminated is the Levitical priesthood of the Mosaic covenant. Heb. 7:12.
So the Adamic covenant, along with the Noahic, Abrahamic, the rest of the 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 (mankind is 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.
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.