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Albert said:   September 7, 2014 5:53 am PST
This is a really nice work Mark, especially given the fact that we are currently studying the book of Ezra in the Thursday Men's Study. I dare say we could benefit from your homework on the subject if you ever care to come and give a brief disposition on the text.

Danman said:   January 8, 2014 4:37 pm PST
Mark, Great work! I like this history since it shows that Iran was not always against Israel, but supported the people of God to rebuild the temple. Thanks for sharing your research with us. Ramin

Deanna said:   August 31, 2013 10:05 am PST
Wow, Mark! A wonderful look at this passage. My compassion goes out to Israel & that there is the solid hope that God will fulfill his promises to them.

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Millennial Kingdom Not the Eternal State

Most recently I was introduced to a new theology—more specifically, a new eschatology or view of ‘last things’ this writer is not aware of in 20 centuries of written christian scholarship.  It focuses on Isaiah 65.17: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”  From there, it uses other related passages to try and show that when Yeshua Messiah returns to end the Great Tribulation, the old corrupt heavens and earth are not renewed.  Instead, they are immediately passed away, and the new heavens and new earth are created. Now, it seems to me that this new view removes the promised Millennial Kingdom from time and history by placing it in the Eternal State. Therefore, I submit this article through pertinent aspects of Scripture to see whether there is a clear differentiation between the Eternal State and the Millennium.  Is one coterminous with the other, or does one follow the other? Look for the overarching characteristic, time, that differentiates the Millennium from the Eternal State.  If time has sequence and consequence, then the Eternal State, by definition, has no sequence or consequence.  Since, we interpret Scripture in the plain common sense of words, then anything else argues against the common use of words in their ordinary way—the very means God has ostensibly chosen to communicate His message.  Anything else tries to make the unordinary use of words pass for ordinary interpretation, invalidating the basis for accurate interpretation.  In this case, right interpretation becomes what is right in the interpreter’s own eyes—a kind of rightness of which the God of our written Word can have no part.

• The first aspect is concerning sin and death. Isaiah 65.20 reads: “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days; for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed.”  This is most easily understood as anyone born in the Kingdom not receiving Messiah as personal Saviour by his 100th year will die. Sin and death are still present in the Kingdom as a consequence.  In the same passage, Isa. 65:19 says, “And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall be heard in her no more the voice of weeping and the voice of crying”.  Though, the remnant of the Chosen People still have bodies of corruption, the effects of sin are absent since they are with the LORD under the New Covenant. However, in the Eternal State, Rev. 21.4 reads: “And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.”  The context for all His servants, Jew or Gentile, is that there will never be again any such thing as sin and death—it is forever swallowed up and consequences are no more.

• The second aspect is concerning Satan.  Rev. 20.7-9 says: “And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall come forth to deceive the nations…”  We see the time factor of a thousand years, and that he is loosed which could not and would not happen in a perfect eternity where no sin and death exist.  Then, what must come before eternity can come, comes—Rev. 20.10: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  This is the appropriate end of the one in whom all sin began, and with it comes the consummation of time and all sins’ vestiges.  In this, is the final exclusion of all who are confined to Death and Hades. Rev. 20.14 says:  “And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire”—only after which the Eternal State can come.

• The third aspect is concerning the nations or gentiles.  Psalm 2.9 reads: “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” The remnant of the Nations in the kingdom still suffer under sin and will need Yeshua’s discipline in the Kingdom.  Rev. 19.15 confirms this:  "And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.”  Part of that rulership necessary in the Millennium falls to the Church Universal and the Tribulational Saints—Rev. 20.4: “…and they lived, and reigned with Messiah a thousand years.”  Notice again, the time factor of years not present in the Eternal State.  However in Eternity to come, Rev. 21.3 reads: “…behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”  Notice the plural of peoples—this being all His servants to include the Jewish people with all the saved of all the nations.  Also, notice the reference to nations in Rev. 21.24-26:  “And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there); and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.”  Unlike the Kingdom, the context of the Eternal State does not distinguish between saved Gentile and Israel.

• The fourth aspect is concerning the Chosen People—true Israel. If we read Kingdom passages in the Old Testament or Tanak as if they are written specifically to Israel at that time, it is because they were.  So, God’s promise to the People in Isa. 25 says: “He will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth.”  There was no way of knowing until the writing of Revelation 21-22 that the length of this Promised Kingdom was for only a thousand years.  Jer. 31 reads: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the LORD: ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”  This New Covenant reaches its fruition only after those days or in the Kingdom, and as far as the writer understood, only of the House of Israel. However regarding the Eternal State, Rev. 21.3 says: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Notice the plural of peoples who shall dwell forever with God which apparently includes the remnant of the Nations and Israel again, no longer distinguished in the Eternal State.

• The fifth aspect is concerning the Temple and Jerusalem. Eze. 43.2-7 reads in part:  “And, behold, the Glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shined with His glory…and the Glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east…and, behold, the Glory of the LORD filled the house…and a Man stood by me. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile My Holy Name…’”  This is most plainly understood as Yeshua seating Himself on the throne of David in His Temple to initiate the Kingdom.  Zec. 6.12 confirms the existence of His Temple in the Kingdom: “He shall build the Temple of the LORD.”  However of the Eternal State, Rev. 21:22 reads:  “And I saw no Temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the Temple thereof.”  The old Jerusalem having passed away is no more and the new one having descended to set on a new earth has no temple. If the Temple is not necessary, then in plain sense, it no more exists. The LORD and the Lamb have replaced the Temple of the Kingdom. For the Millennial Temple to remain, though it is not needed—things lying around wasting space like a present day backyard or shed, is not the plain sense and order of God’s perfect Eternal State. Also, of this aspect, the old Jerusalem is redeemed in the Kingdom. Isaiah 30.19 says: “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem…”  This can only be placed in the Kingdom as it is not until the Kingdom that every single one of the people of the Jewish remnant on earth are regathered to Zion—a name only significant of Israel not found in the Eternal State of Rev. 21-22.  Indeed of Jerusalem, the LORD will transform old corrupted geography on His return to make it the highest redeemed elevation on redeemed earth.  See Isa. 2.2:  “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of the LORD's House shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills.”  Regarding its exact dimensions, Eze. 48.16 says:  “The City will measure one and one half miles on each side…”  However in the Eternal State, Rev. 21.2 & 16 say: "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.”  The Eternal Jerusalem, up in heaven right now—one thousand times the size of Kingdom Jerusalem, will in its eternal day descend to rest on new earth that all the remnant of nations may enter for healing. 

• The sixth aspect of this article is concerning the earth, sun, and moon. In this aspect, let’s look into the Eternal State, first, in Rev. 21.1:  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more.”  Within this one verse we see the final state of the universe as it will be forever and ever.  Notice the former universe—the heaven and earth along with the sun, the moon, and all the stars, is forever removed.  This is the plain sense of the reading—no other information given.  The only other pertinent note is that only the new earth is mentioned in the new heaven.  No new sun is mentioned, so compare this with that found in Rev. 22.5:  “And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.”  This infers plainly no new sun exists, either. To say otherwise, would be counter to the ordinary use of inference or common language.  In fact,  all light needed, at least, in the city is explained in Rev. 21.23:  “And the city has no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb.” The old sun having passed away no longer lights the new Jerusalem or the new earth.  The city doesn’t need a new sun for it is lit by Yeshua. The context is only of the city, true, but following greater to lesser logic: if there is no sun for the new eternal Jerusalem which is the greater by the LORD’s very presence, then there is a no new sun to light the lesser, the rest of new earth.  Unless, there is clear evidence to the contrary, it is safe to say no sun exists at all in the Eternal State. However, in the Millennial  Kingdom, the Tanak written to Israel for the Promised Kingdom, states in Isa. 30.26: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD binds up the hurt of his people, and heals the stroke of their wound.”  So, the old renewed sun will exist with a new strength in the Kingdom. This plainly is the case for redeemed earth, but there is something else going on for Jerusalem. Isa 60:19-20 reads, “The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you: but the LORD will be unto you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.” Putting the two passages together, the LORD’s light supersedes that even of a strengthened sun for Jerusalem in the kingdom.

• The final aspect looks at passages which seem to contradict clear passages on the subject.  This new eschatology misplaces Isa. 34.4 stating:  “And all the host of heaven will wear away, and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; all their hosts will also wither away as a leaf withers from the vine….”  This confused eschatology propounds that this sky rolled up like a scroll is the consummation of the old heavens necessitating the  Eternal State.  Whatever rolling up like a scroll is, why does it have to mean the our present heavens passing away of Rev. 21.  When context is king, we are not confused by pretext. Rev. 6.14 also states:  “And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places,” so unless we throw the time and timing of the Tribulation out the proverbial window, this sky rolling up occurs at the beginning of the Tribulation not the end.  And, the context of Isa. 34 is followed by the judgment of Edom after which v. 10 says:  “the smoke thereof shall go up for ever”—literally, for an age, that is, the Millennial Age.  This is plainly in the consummation of the Tribulation, too, rather than in the Eternal State where sin, and its smoke has already been swallowed up. Finally, Isa. 65:17 says,  “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” This creating of fresh heavens, literally, with a fresh new earth is not the Eternal State.  Why? Unless there is something exceptional to take something out of its ordinary meaning, as said before, the writer’s frame of mind is the Kingdom. This is plainly another way of describing the redeeming renewal of the Kingdom’s earth. New, here, is simply fresh from something previously old. Let’s confirm this with any other passage in the Tanak that uses “new heavens and earth” where it obviously is in the Kingdom.  Here it is in the very next chapter— Isa 66:22:  “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I am making, are standing before Me, saith the LORD, so will your seed and your name stand.” Solidly set in the context of the LORD’s return to end Jacob’s trouble and regather Israel, any reason to set it in the Eternal State is just plain bad exposition.  Father God, help us to remain steadfast in Your wisdom of a plain written message in the power of the Spirit.  You, alone, could or even would conceive of such proof for the Living Word, Your Son.  To You Be The Glory, Amen