The pre-millenialists are wrong in their interpretation of Revelation because they say that nearly everything in the book, from chapter 4 onward, is still in the future. Thus the beast and harlot are future. Thus the reign of Christ is yet future. And thus the answers being uttered by the saints, living and martyred, are yet to be answered. The persecuted church got little consolation that God saw and answered their immediate needs according to Pre-millenialism. This false doctrine is also dismissive of the kingdom of Christ which began at the ascension into heaven (Acts 1) and correlates with the church of Christ. And so pre-millenialism must be rejected as error.
Another error that is taught about the last days is that everything in the book of Revelation is fulfilled. This is radical preterism. Thus the final chapters of Revelation that shows the paradise of Eden being restored in the New Heaven and Earth is already fulfilled and we are living in it right now according to radical preterism.
The New Heaven and Earth was a future promise. The Christians who were enjoying the Christian life were not yet in the new heaven and earth. They were still living in the old heaven and earth which was still subjected to the futility and groaning, Rom. 8:20-23. If the new heaven and earth were only metaphorical or symbolic, the change would be something the Christians already enjoyed and Revelation would not speak of it as a future reality. But as Paul says that the redemption of the christian’s body is future, which corresponds with Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 15 concerning the second coming when our bodies will be changed to immortal, so is the end of the groaning of the earth that’s still subjected to “the bondage of corruption” (Rom 8:21). A literal new heaven and earth is a future promise and the church does not yet enjoy it.
Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22, when Isaiah is closing His prophetic message speaks of the new heaven and earth along with the recreation of Jerusalem. This promised restoration might be metaphorically relating to the period of restoration of God’s people who are the faithful remnant which would have in Isaiah’s mind the new dispensation in Christ Jesus (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:1,2; Isaiah 53). This means that the new heaven and earth can indeed be symbolic. But not so when the New Testament church is established and still a new heaven and earth is promised in the future.
If the Christian age represents a new heaven and earth, it would be true from the time the church of Christ began in a.d. 33. The time of Christ’s reign began when He was seated at the Father’s right hand, Acts 2:34ff. And the church was said to be in the kingdom of Christ. And so the new Christian covenant with Jesus as King of kings would be the time a spiritual new heaven and earth was established. So why do the New Testament authors speak of the future new heaven and earth?
Peter writes in his second epistle that God is going to bring another judgment akin to the judgment of the worldwide flood in Noah’s day, 2 Peter 3:1ff. But the second judgment, still future, will be with fire. The fire will burn up the first heaven and earth so that God establishes a new heaven and earth. This chapter makes it clear that this judgment, fire, and new heaven and earth comes when God’s patience runs out so that He sends Jesus. The doubters were saying “where is the promise of His coming?” 2 Pt 3:4. In the future, Peter says, Jesus will come and with that coming, He will burn up this heaven and earth and will create from it a brand new heaven and earth. The early church may have been enjoying a symbolic new heaven and earth, being in the church and under Christ, but the fuller meaning is a literal remaking of heaven and earth when Jesus returns and judges the world. This is what Revelation 21 speaks of.
The Bride of Christ to be presented to the Groom on that day in the new heaven and earth.
“1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” Rev 21:1-2.
We know from Paul and New Testament writing that the wedding is future. As the present heaven and earth waits for it’s restoration, so the church waits for the consummation with Christ the groom. The church is betrothed to Christ and someday is to be presented to Him as a pure virgin, Eph 5:27. The reference by John to Jerusalem and holy city, terms that relate to the blessed church of Christ that makes up all of God’s people, Isaiah 2:2,3, shows that that the complete fulfillment of these is found in the literal remaking of heaven and earth in the future. “But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Gal. 4:26. The church is the city of God in the future, she that is betrothed to Christ, will be presented to Him as the bride pure and chaste.
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Rev. 22:14.
The church of Christ is symbolically the new heaven and earth, and the Jerusalem from above, that seems clear, but this truth cannot be pressed too far so as to dismiss that at the coming of Jesus Christ there will be a complete judgment. With this judgment, heaven and earth will flee and be destroyed and every soul that’s good or evil will be judged, Rev. 21:1; 2 Pt 3:10. Those who did evil and did not obey the Gospel, they go to the place of eternal punishment, Rev 21:8. But those who followed Christ and overcame will live forever in eternal bliss in the new heaven and earth, which is the paradise of Eden restored. And they shall eat again from the tree of life. This is all future.
While most of the Revelation letter refers to things in the past (preterism), there are things in the last three chapters of Revelation which are yet to be fulfilled as when the kingdom of Christ comes to an end at His coming and judgment. Pre-millenialism is as carnal and wrong-headed as the thought of the first century zealots who longed for an earthly reign by the Messiah. Jesus said His kingdom isn’t like that. He said His kingdom was spiritual and not of this earth, John 18:36. Also wrong is the radical preterism, that even some in the church hold to, which says that everything in the book of Revelation is already fulfilled. No, though most of Revelation is fulfilled being a direct response by God to the need of the first century Christians, still the end of Christ’s reign, the final judgment, and the new heaven and earth are in the future.
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