Chapter Four Postmillennialism (7): The Postmillennial Interpretation of Revelation 20 (cont.)

Previous article in this series: May 1, 2010, p. 350.

A Mortal Blow to Postmillennialism 

There is no excuse for this desperate twisting of Scripture. But there is an explanation of it. 
Revelation 20:7-9is a mortal blow to the whole postmillennial scheme. As Selbrede rightly contends, “There is a fundamental inconsistency in postmillennialists holding to a final apostasy.”¹ The passage must, therefore, be explained away. Postmillennialism dreams of anearthly victory of the kingdom of Christ within history. This victory ought to bring history to its end, for, according to postmillennialism, the Messianic kingdom lasts only until the coming of Christ. With the coming of Christ, the Messianic kingdom is finished. A final, worldwide revolt against the kingdom of Messiah would mean the defeat of King Jesus in the end.

It is exactly the defeat of King Jesus that postmillennialism is always charging against amillennialism as its great sin. The postmillennial theologians charge that amillennialism, with its sober, biblical expectation of a great falling away, or apostasy; of Antichrist; and of great tribulation for the saints is defeatist and pessimistic. These unboundedly optimistic theologians take great delight in, and amuse each other greatly by, deriding this Reformed, biblical eschatology as “pessimillennialism.”

Shattering the postmillennial dream and dashing the postmillennial optimism is Revelation 20:7-9. The history of this age comes to its end with the loosing of Satan. The chain is unlocked. The prison door is opened. Up from the abyss he comes. Now he can accomplish his burning desire and malignant purpose: the deceiving of all the nations on earth so that they unite as the world-kingdom of the beast, Antichrist.

These nations are Gog and Magog inasmuch as they are the New Testament reality typified in the Old Testament by a vast alliance of idolatrous, heathen nations called Magog in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39. The chief prince of this horde was Gog (Ezek. 38:2Ezek. 39:1). Ezekiel prophesied that this great army of the ungodly would “ascend and come like a storm…against my people of Israel” (Ezek. 38:9, 16). But Jehovah God would come to the defense of His covenant people, destroying Magog with fire: “I will send a fire on Magog” (Ezek. 39:6).

Ezekiel’s prophecy looked to the Messianic, New Testament age: “in the latter years” (Ezek. 38:8). Revelation 20:7-9 conclusively teaches that Ezekiel’s prophecy of Magog, its attack on the covenant people of God, and its destruction will be fulfilled towards the very end of the present, New Testament age—after the thousand years have reached their Christ-appointed goal. Magog, that is, the united nations of Antichrist, will attack the true church of Jesus Christ. This attack will be the great tribulation foretold by Christ in Matthew 24:21and the victorious war of the beast against the saints described in Revelation 13:7.

In keeping with the truth that Old Testament Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, was the type of the church, the church, which is the object of the attack of Satan’s minions, is symbolically called “the camp of the saints” and “the beloved city” in Revelation 20:9. The members of the congregation of God throughout the world are holy friends and servants of God. The church, He loves.

In this love, He will deliver the church, cutting the time of Satan’s earthly triumph short: “a little season.” The deliverance will be complete and final. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:7, 8).

Thus, the church, which is the spiritual kingdom and city of Christ, will triumph. Her public, visible, glorious triumph, in which she is established in all the (new) creation and “dominates” over all things, does not take place within history, by her own efforts, godly though they may be. But her triumph will be the goal of history—history’s end—at the second coming of Christ. And this triumph will be the wonderful work of ChristHimself personally on her behalf: the destruction of her enemies; the resurrection of her members; her public vindication in the final judgment; and her reigning with Christ over all things in the renewed creation of heaven and earth.

There is good reason why this climactic, everlasting triumph of the Messianic kingdom will be the work of Christ, by a wonder, altogether apart from the activity of the church herself. It must be evident that the triumph of the kingdom of Christ, like the salvation of every elect citizen, is the miraculous accomplishment of God in Jesus Christ. Christ must have the glory of the deliverance and perfection of His kingdom. No postmillennial Puritan or Presbyterian church, no band of Christian Reconstructionist brothers, and, for that matter, no denomination of true churches of Christ will ever be able to say, or even to think, “We defeated the kingdom of the evil one, and we established the kingdom of God and Christ in all the world.” Nor may the ungodly world think so.

The hope of the church, therefore, is not a future, earthly postmillennial kingdom.

Revelation 20:7-9 exposes this hope as false. Selbrede is right when he says that “it would be hard to imagine a more potent weapon against postmillennialism than the final apostasy ‘doctrine.'”² The “potent weapon” is Holy Scripture, vigorously wielded by Reformed amillennialism.

Not a kingdom of earthly dominion within history, but the coming of Christ as the end of history is the hope of the church.

Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! (Rev. 22:20)

¹ Martin G. Selbrede, “Reconstructing Postmillennialism,” The Journal of Christian Reconstruction: Symposium on Eschatology 15 (Winter, 1998), 216.

² Ibid., 203.