Author: Ron Graham
Seven Nasty Years
—Tribulation, Antichrist, and Armageddon
Premillennialists believe that, in the near future, there will be a period of seven years (Daniel’s seventieth week) crowded with events that fulfill many Bible prophecies. This will happen when God’s prophetic clock, having been suspended for 2000 years, will start to tick again.
For instance some of Hal Lindseys assertions show how premillennialists view this period.
"... a period of unique events ... more prophecy concerning this period than any other era" "...mankind will be on the brink of annihilation" "...Jeremiah calls this period 'the time of Jacob’s trouble' " Hal Lindsey, 'The Late Great Planet Earth' chapter 4.
The events fall Into two distinct themes: (1) The nation of Israel and (2) The Antichrist. Whilst the events under these two headings are interwoven, the first three and a half years is dominated by the restoration of Israel and the second three and a half years is dominated by the activities of Antichrist.
1 National Israel
All the mass of detail and the interpretation of numerous prophecies concerning Israel resolve into one basic question: Does God have a special relationship with Jews, and a special plan of salvation for them? In other words, is their hope different from that of the Gentiles?
If the answer to this simple question is a clear negative, then the whole premillennial doctrine concerning Israel falls, and the Biblical statements about Israel are seen to have been entirely misunderstood.
This is not too sweeping a statement because premillennialists themselves would agree that their whole system of beliefs about Israel, and their interpretation of every prophecy concerning the Jews, is undergirded by the belief that God still recognises the physical Israelites as his chosen people and has made a difference between them and the Gentiles.
Jew and Gentile — No More Distinction
Scripture shows that in God’s sight there is now no difference between Jew and Gentile but they are all included under one hope and one plan of salvation. The premillennial view is therefore entirely mistaken concerning Israel and the prophecies about it.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek ... if you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s offspring and heirs according to the promise." (Gal, 3:26-29). "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly... he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart." (Romans 2: 25-29). "They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel... it is. not the children of the flesh who are the children of God." (Romans 9:6-7). "There is no difference between Jew and Greek." (Romans 10:12). "For He Himself is our peace who has made both one... in one body." (Ephesians 2:11-22).
2 The Antichrist
One simple statement in the Bible shows the whole premillennIal doctrine about the Antichrist to be a mistake. Near the close of the first century John wrote that Antichrist had already come. "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen. From this we know that it is the last hour." (1John 2:18)
The Bible’s warnings about the antichrist have been fulfilled in the many false Christs who have appeared. Therefore the complex arrangement of prophetic interpretation about a future revived Roman Empire and its Dictator must ignore this simple fact. If premillennialism is right about the Antichrist then John was wrong. It was not the last hour and antichrist had not come. There were yet nineteen hundred years to wait for what John thought had already come to pass.
3 The Battle of Armageddon
According to premillennislists, the Antichrist’s career, the tribulations of Israel, and the incredible events of the seven years, end in the climactic war of Armageddon. This war would annihilate the world but for the intervention of Christ’s second coming. A typical statement shows how the premillennialist will be literal even if it means being ridiculous.
"...Cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Chicago —obliterated!. ...entire islands and mountains blown off the map... 'Behold the Lord will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants' ...So many people will be slaughtered in the conflict that blood will stand to the horses' bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward of Jerusalem (Revelation 14:20)" —Hal Lindsey, 'The Late Great Planet Earth'
Why would horses be used in a modern day battle? And how could a river of blood like that in the vision exist in reality? Things that are seen in dreams and visions are not always possible in reality. The vision well represents the spiritual battle that is going on in the world today. It cannot be a literal description of an actual physical battle, because it’s physically untenable.
The sensational claims about this imagined future conflict distract us from the very real battle now being waged between the spiritual forces of good and evil.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realms..." (Ephesians 6:10-17)