The So-called Proof-texts of Postmillennialism

Chapter XIII 

Perfect Peach Among The Nations

In this our final chapter in this series of articles on Postmillennialism, we call attention once more to the word of prophecy found in Isaiah 2:1-5 and Micah 4:1-5. In these verses the Holy Spirit teaches us the mystery of the Kingdom through the prophets of old (Heb. 1:1, 2). 

It is our settled conviction that Postmillennialism reads its own interpretation into these prophets and does violence to the clear teaching of the Bible in many, many passages of Scripture. They interpret these passages as referring to the “golden” age of the “Messianic Kingdom” which will be attained under the preaching of the Word, as they conceive of it as being the “Gospel.” When we read that “war shall have ceased” in the earth, this means that the total fulfillment of this shall be in the “golden era” of the Postmillennial Kingdom. All will be Christ’s kingdom, conquered by the Gospel under “Law.” As one Postmillennialist writer states it, and we quote,

“Postmillennialism believes that man must be saved, and that his regeneration is the starting-point for a mandate to exercise dominion in Christ’s name over every area of life and thought. Postmillennialism . . . does not neglect to work for a Christian State and school, for sovereignty and the crown rights of the King over individuals, family, institutions, arts, sciences and all things else. It holds that God has provided the way of conquest in His law. Every word that God speaks in His law; it is binding on man. Grace, love, law are really contraries in the pagan view; in God they serve a common purpose, to further His kingdom and His glory.” (Pages 122-127 of Vol. III, No. 2 of the Journal Of Reconstruction. Here Dr. R.J. Rushdoony writes under the caption of “Postmillennialism versus Impotent Religion.”)

The basic thesis of Rushdoony is that both Amillennialism and Premillennialism foster an impotent religion, which is not able to lay the entire world at Jesus’ feet. Amillennialism really is a position which does not allow the man, the rider on the white horse, to conquer and to conquer, until there is a perfect world. Now the fact is that this is an untrue allegation. It is only the judgment of one who sees all things through the spectacles of Postmillennialistic prejudice, and assumes that only the view of their Millennialism squares with the teaching of the prophetic word, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. The Amillennialist does not help to work for the “golden” era of the realization of the Messianic Kingdom, which shall be prior to the final return of Christ. 

The question is not determinative whether Rushdoony’s analysis is correct on the basis of his presuppositions and teaching, but rather whether his entire view of world-history agrees with the teaching of all the Scriptures: Moses, Psalms, and all the Prophets. We might be tempted to take rather elaborate issue with the bold statement that “every word that God speaks is law: it is binding on man.” We shall not go far afield to refute this thesis. We only desire to have the reader notice that the Bible ever clearly distinguishes between the concepts “law” and “gospel” and such concepts as “law” and “grace.” In the former we are then dealing with a “law-principle” and in the latter with a “grace-principle.” It is true: faith and grace do not set the law aside, but they most emphatically establish the law! (Rom. 3:31Matt. 5:17Rom. 6:14.) If there had been a law given which could make alive a dead sinner, then righteousness could be out of law (Gal. 3:21). When God saves His own elect out of every tongue, tribe, people, and nation, He writes His law in their hearts as His Covenant Words. Such is the New Covenant which He will make in the latter days according to Jeremiah 31:31-34, and Hebrews 8:8-12

This grace-principle is a far-cry from the “law” concept set forth as the principle of Postmillennialism by Rushdoony. Here the matter is not simply a “law” in the Constitution, the ordinances of human institution and civic by-laws, but it refers to the divine and gracious and omnipotent putting of the law in the hearts of the elect children of God, whose names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life (II Cor. 3:3). And the glory of this writing of the law is that it is not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God. What a glory of grace this is! It is a glory which outshines the glory of all the law-giving of Moses; it is as when the moon fades and pales in the heavens before the rising sun. Of this is what the prophets speak in both Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 when they say “for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Gazing by faith into this mirror we are changed from glory unto glory as by the Spirit of the LORD Jesus (I Cor. 3:17, 18). 

Such is the grace-principle in the elect children of God, who are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, even as they were elected in him and foreordained unto the adoption of sons. Now this is not an “impotent religion” at all! It is that which is ours by means of the exceeding great power of God, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand far above all principality and powers and might, and every name in this world and in the world to come (Eph. 1:20-23). 

Now if one will put off his Postmillennial glasses, and put aside his philosophical jargon and abstractions, will become willing to interpret the Scriptures according to sound rules of exegesis and Biblical Hermeneutics, he will see the glory road of grace, as this was seen by all the prophets of God in the Old Testament. Did these not inquire after and search out diligently the sufferings to come upon Christ and the glory to follow? And this glory “to follow” refers, according to the entire context in I Peter 1, to the great event in the last day, to the revelation of Jesus Christ in the last day (I Peter 1:5, 13). And such a blessed, living hope is the religion not of weakness, but of power; a religion which keeps its sights straight and keeps the course. 

A careful study of Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 will prove that the text speaks prophetically of what the risen and glorified Christ will do from out of Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. And the word which goes forth from Jerusalem is not the same as the law going forth from Mt. Sinai with its terrifying glory. Rather this is the power of the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation with its justifying power and message, as well as its message of the calling for sanctification in those created in Christ Jesus unto good works, before prepared that they might walk in them (Rom. 1:16, 17). Of such a Gospel no preacher need be ashamed; it will perform all that unto which it was sent (Isaiah 55:9-11). 

We must not be deceived into thinking that a law-principle “gospel” is gospel at all. Such a gospel could never “rebuke” the nations into the new obedience of faith, where the law becomes the rule of life of faith in Christ Jesus. For the law is the “strength of sin.” It only genders to bondage. Such are the principles of all “impotent religions” built upon weak and beggarly principles of law (Gal. 4:9Col. 2:20). But in Isaiah 2:4 we are dealing with a word which is so strong and saving that it brings to radical repentance and conversion, and to newness of life. It causes men and women to “unlearn war,” that is, all enmity and hatred, jealousy and envy, and to learn the truth in Christ, to put off the old man of sin with its lusts, and to put on the new man, created after the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24). Hence, they walk in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (Rom. 7:6).

What is pictorially stated in the text, in figures of speech derived from the pastoral scenes? In beautiful idyllic language the texts speak of a people who are so peace-loving, that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” And thus it shall be universally on the earth. For the text adds “nation shall not lift, up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” 

Beautiful prospect indeed as portrayed by the prophetic seer. 

In all the world of the nations this has not yet been seen anywhere at any time in the history of the New Testament Dispensation. And this “peace on earth” is not practiced by the nations at all. It is not practiced in their personal, family, community and state and national life. There is no fear of God before their eyes. There is none that seeketh out God. If the condition among the nations were thus, outside of the church of God, we would not have news for our newspapers, magazines, radio, and television; there would be no headlines in the paper. Think what a different world it would be if the “mandate” of God to subdue the world in the fear of God would succeed here in this present age as preached from the housetops by the Postmillennial dreams! 

What the prophets here foretell began principally in Pentecost when the Spirit was shed forth in the church, and the promise came to “you and to your children, and all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:37-38). And thus these became a peaceful people by the Spirit of the God of all peace in Christ. And so the church receives grace and peace from God, and she receives Christ’s peace in a far different way than the world can give (John 14:27). It is to be placed in a new legal and spiritual relation to God (Rom. 5:1). And when we are admonished to peace and walk therein, we are walking in the Son to Whom all things are subjected. And thus the kingdom of heaven is ours; we are then the blessed peacemakers, who will be called publicly before men and angels, to be the children of God (Matt. 5:9). 

But in this world there will ever be war. No amount of preaching the kingdom and its righteousness will change the wicked world. But the idyllic scenes of the prophets shall be fulfilled when the “house of Jacob” shall “walk in the light of the Lord.” Perfectly walking as children of light in distinction from the children of darkness, the church shall walk in the perfection of heaven. That will be in the heavenly Jerusalem and Zion, which is exalted above the mountains. Here the church shall dwell safely in perfect peace. No more war in that future glory shall ever be experienced. Jerusalem shall perfectly have risen, and shall never more be a lodge in a cucumber patch, a small hut in a vineyard in shame of sin and guilt. There shall be the city of God’s love of whom God in His great love and compassion says, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy people shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy people” (Isaiah 54:11-13).