Rapture New? Get a Clue!


"I wish I could believe there is a Rapture in the Bible, because that would be something really great to look forward to. Sadly, the rapture theory was first spoken of by a sickly woman in 1830 and the ministers at that time just ran with it as prophecy." – Mariano, New York
If I were to receive a dollar for every time somebody told me there is no mention of a rapture in the Bible and that the concept is a fairly modern day invention, I'd have enough money to pound a considerable dent into the federal deficit (depending on the Administration, that is).
Can the Rapture, separate and apart from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, be found anywhere in the Bible? How does looking forward to the Rapture bring us hope? And, is the Rapture as a whole too new of an idea to be true? Get ready to give me that dollar, Mariano!

Rapture in the Bible

The Bible does indeed teach about the Rapture of the Church. First Thessalonians 4:17 in particular speaks of an event called "the Rapture," derived from the Latin word rapio which was translated from the original Greek word harpazoRapio means "to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out," and that's how it's often written out, as in that verse which reads, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
Other references on the Rapture are found in Isaiah 26:19-21Malachi 3:17John 14:1-4I Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Encouragement to the Believer

The Apostle Paul states that the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this age (1 Thessalonians 4:18). And yet, what encouragement could the Rapture bring to any believer who thinks they will have to endure all the horrors of the coming 7-year Tribulation? What would be the point of the Rapture then? It wouldn't really be as Mariano has stated, "something really great to look forward to."
True encouragement and hope comes from the Bible's teaching of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. We know that the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation because according to the Bible the Church isn't destined to endure God's judgment on the world. God has promised the Church a rescue beforehand. For example in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are told "to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come." (See also 1 Thessalonians 5:9Romans 5:9Ephesians 5:6Colossians 3:4 and Revelation 3:10).
Evidences of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture also come from Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 who comforted the Church of Thessalonica when he wrote, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come." The church there was concerned that they had missed the Rapture and were living in the Tribulation. Paul assures them in verse 3, "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." In other words, they'd know if they were living in the Tribulation.
The only hope that could comfort the Church Age Saint staring into the face of the horrors of the Tribulation is that they will not have to endure it. These words from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:18provide that very encouragement and hope of the Lord rapturing the Church beforehand.

An Ancient Concept

Those who argue that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view is just "too new" to be considered viable point to John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) as its originator, and they claim he took the idea from a 15 year old girl named Margaret MacDonald. But, is that assessment historically accurate? Indeed, it is not.
The Early Church fathers' such as Barnabas (ca.100-105), Papias (ca. 60-130), Justin Martyr (110-195), Irenaeus (120-202), Tertullian (145-220), Hippolytus (ca. 185-236), Cyprian (200-250), and Lactantius (260-330) wrote on the imminent return of Jesus Christ, the central argument for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view.
When Augustine (354-430) began spiritualizing the Bible, his view of a non-literal interpretation took hold of the Church until the Renaissance, obliterating the Premillennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture views in favor of Amillennialism. But, some Medieval writers such as Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373), Abbot Ceolfrid (c. 642-716), and Brother Dolcino (d. 1307) wrote statements that distinguished the Rapture from the Second Coming.
When the chains of allegorical interpretation began to fall off, beginning with the Reformation in the 1400's and 1500's, writers such as Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Peter Jurieu (1637-1713), Philip Doddridge (1702- 1751), John Gill (1697-1771), James Macknight (1721-1800), Thomas Scott (1747-1821) and Morgan Edwards (1722-1795) all wrote concerning the Rapture occurring separate from the Second Coming. Even in the more modern church, those like William Witherby, who wrote about the Rapture in 1818, were precursors to John Darby in support of the Rapture.
The Rapture is indeed then not only biblical, but supported throughout Church history. And, Mariano is absolutely right in one respect, for the Rapture sure is "something really great to look forward to." It's our "blessed hope" (Titus. 2:13).

2 Thessalonians 2:3 Can the Rapture be found in this passage?


"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction..."
2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NASB)
The Bible never precisely states when the Rapture of the Church will take place. That's why there is so much disagreement over when it will occur. All positions are based on inferences in the Scriptures.
Some believe the Rapture will occur in the middle of the Tribulation. Others place it near the end. And some combine it with the Second Coming. I happen to believe that the best inference of the Scriptures is that it will occur before the Tribulation begins.
I have many reasons for my belief, including scripture verses, prophetic symbolism, and logic. I have written about these reasons in detail in articles that are posted on our website (www.lamblion.com). I hope someday to put all my arguments together in a book devoted to the subject.
With regard to scripture verses, some of the more important ones that relate to the Rapture's timing are the following:
Luke 21:36 — "...keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Jesus spoke these words in His Olivet Discourse which He delivered to His disciples the week He was crucified. They concluded a long speech in which He outlined the major signs of the end times that would signal the season of His return. Notice that He says that believers should live anticipating the Lord's appearance at any time, and that they are to pray for their escape from all the horrors of the end times which He had been talking about. To me, this passage strongly infers a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 — "...you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come."
I consider this passage to be the most convincing one that points to a Pre-Trib Rapture. After all, the Bible clearly teaches in both the Old and New Testaments that the Tribulation will be a period of the pouring out of God's wrath (Isaiah 24 and Revelation 6-19). This verse promises that Jesus will deliver believers "from the wrath that is to come." A similar promise can be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 which states: "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ..."
Revelation 3:10 — "'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
These are some of the words that Jesus addressed to the church at Philadelphia. They constitute a promise that true believers will be kept from the testing that will one day encompass the entire world. We know from many other scriptures, including Revelation 6-19, that the "hour of testing" will be the Tribulation period of seven years when the wrath of God will be poured out on the earth (Revelation 11:18 and 15:1).
There are many other verses that refer to the Rapture besides these. I have isolated these three passages because they give us clues as to the timing of the Rapture — namely, that it will take place before the Tribulation begins.

Another Pre-Trib Passage?

There is another verse that is often cited as proof that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins. It is the one I quoted at the beginning of this article — 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
The reason it is often presented as evidence of a Pre-Trib Rapture is because it states that "the day of the Lord" (The Tribulation and Millennium) will not occur until "the apostasy comes first." How does this relate to the timing of the Rapture? Because the word, "apostasy" can also mean "departure." And thus, this verse could be saying that the departure of the Church must occur before"the man of lawlessness" (the Antichrist) is revealed and the Tribulation begins.
I personally have never thought much of this argument. I am always suspicious of biblical doctrines that are based on alternative translations. People who are straining to prove a doctrinal point, will often look in a Greek or Hebrew lexicon for the definition of a word and then will choose whichever one fits their pre-conceived doctrine. The problem with this approach is that the true meaning of words must always be determined by their context, not by the possible alternative definitions.

A New Insight

But recently, my thinking about 2 Thessalonians 2:3 has changed — all because of an outstanding presentation on the subject that I heard Tommy Ice make at a conference where the two of us were speaking.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Tommy Ice, he is a biblical scholar who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary and who serves as the Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center (www.pre-trib.org).
Tommy pointed out that the Greek noun, apostasia, is used only twice in the New Testament. The other occurrence is in Acts 21:21 where it states that an accusation was made against Paul that he was "teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake [apostasia] Moses."
The word is used in verb form a total of 15 times in the New Testament, and only three of these have anything to do with a departure from the faith (Luke 8:131 Timothy 4:1, and Hebrews 3:12). In other settings, the word is used for departing from inquity (2 Timothy 2:19), departing from ungodly men (1 Timothy 6:5), departing from the temple (Luke 2:27), departing from the body (2 Corinthians 12:8), and departing from persons (Acts 12:10 and Luke 4:13).
This insight about the use and meaning of the word was certainly compelling, but the argument Tommy presented that was most convicting to me was his revelation that the first seven English translations of the Bible rendered the noun, apostasia, as either "departure" or "departing." They were as follows:1
  1. The Wycliffe Bible (1384)
  2. The Tyndale Bible (1526)
  3. The Coverdale Bible (1535)
  4. The Cranmer Bible (1539)
  5. The Great Bible (1540)
  6. The Beeches Bible (1576)
  7. The Geneva Bible (1608)
Tommy also noted that the Bible used by the Western world from 400 AD to the 1500s — Jerome's Latin translation known as "The Vulgate" — rendered apostasia with the Latin word, discessio, which means "departure."
The first translation of the word to mean apostasy in an English Bible did not occur until 1611 when the King James Version was issued. So, why did the King James translators introduce a completely new rendering of the word as "falling away"? The best guess is that they were taking a stab at the false teachings of Catholicism.
One other point Tommy Ice made that I thought was significant is that Paul used a definite article with the word apostasia. The significance of this is emphasized by Daniel Davey in a thesis he wrote for the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary:2
Since the Greek language does not need an article to make the noun definite, it becomes clear that with the usage of the article, reference is being made to something in particular. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasia is prefaced by the definite article which means that Paul is pointing to a particular type of departure clearly known to the Thessalonian church.
In light of this grammatical point, Tommy observed that "the use of the definite article would support the notion that Paul spoke of a clear, discernable notion."3 And that notion he had already identified in verse 1 when he stated that he was writing about "our gathering together to Him [Jesus]."
This interpretation also corresponds to the point that Paul makes in verses 6 and 7 where he states that the man of lawlessness will not come until what "restrains" him "is taken out of the way."
And what it is that restrains evil in the world today? The Holy Spirit working through the Church.


1) Tommy Ice, "Is the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3?" www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/TheRapturein2Thessalonians2_3.html, page 2.
2) Daniel K. Davey, "The 'Apostasia' of 2 Thessalonians 2:3," Th.M. thesis, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, May 1982, p 47.
3) Tommy Ice, page 2.

The Origin of the Concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture From Man or the Bible?


Raptured Child
"The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is a johnny-come-lately idea that is too new to be true." This is the most common argument that I encounter against the concept of the Rapture of the Church occurring before the Tribulation begins.
There are several problems with this argument. The first is that it ignores the fact that the Bible teaches that end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for the predicted events to take place.
When the prophet Daniel was given some specific prophecies about the end times, he complained to the Lord that he did not understand them. The Lord responded with these words: "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end times" (Daniel 12:9). Jeremiah was told the same thing by the Lord on two occasions (Jeremiah 23:20 and 30:24).

Waiting on Events

There are many end time prophecies that can not be understood apart from historical or technological developments. For example, all of end time prophecy revolves around the state of Israel. Those prophecies were not fully understandable before the re-establishment of the state of Israel in May of 1948. Think of it for a moment — how could anyone in 1900 understand the prophecy in Ezekiel 38 that Russia will invade Israel in the end times? Israel did not exist, nor was there any prospect of Israel ever existing again. And Russia was a peaceful Christian Orthodox country.
In like manner, before modern times, how could anyone understand the prophecy in Revelation 11about the killing and resurrection of the two witnesses of God? That prophecy says that the whole world will look upon their bodies and witness their resurrection and rapture to Heaven (Revelation 11:9-12). No one could understand this prophecy before the development of satellite television communication in the 1960's.
In summary, the Bible clearly teaches that the understanding of end time prophecy will be progressive in nature. We will understand more of the prophecies the closer we get to the time of their fulfillment.

Waiting on Proper Interpretation

In this regard, the reason the Pre-Tribulation concept of the timing of the Rapture was delayed in its refinement until the 19th Century was because the Roman Catholic Church adopted St. Augustine's amillennial viewpoint of prophecy hook-line-and-sinker around 430 AD. In his book, The City of God, Augustine spiritualized Bible prophecy and then argued that the Millennium began at the Cross and would continue until the Second Coming.
This spiritualizing approach to the interpretation of Bible prophecy proceeded to dominate theology for the next thousand years. Protestants adopted it after the Reformation and expressed it in the Postmillennial view that emerged in the mid-17th Century. Both Amillennialism and Postmillennialism are based on the assumption that Bible prophecy does not mean what it says.
I grew up in a church that taught that assumption. It was a conservative, fundamentalist church that interpreted the Bible literally from cover to cover except for prophecies related to the Second Coming. The First Coming prophecies were accepted as literal. But the Second Coming prophecies were dismissed as allegorical or symbolic or apocalyptic — which, to us, meant that they had to be spiritualized.

The Impact of Literal Interpretation

The discovery of the distinction which the Bible makes between the Rapture and the Second Coming had to await the revival of the application of literal interpretation to Bible prophecy. I say "revival" because the writings of the Church Fathers during the first 300 years of church history (100 AD to 400 AD) reveal that they interpreted prophecy for its plain sense meaning. Accordingly, they were nearly all Premillennialists. In fact, Justin Martyr (110-165 AD) went so far as to suggest that anyone with a different viewpoint was heretical.1
The revival of literal interpretation began in earnest among the Puritans in the 17th Century, and it quickly led to an understanding that the Rapture would be an event separate from and preceding the Second Coming. Puritan leader, Increase Mather (1639-1723), argued "that the saints would be caught up into the air" and thus escape the world's final conflagration.2
Most people I encounter seem to believe that the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture originated in the writings of C. I. Scofield, as expressed in his famous study Bible that was published in 1909. It is true that Scofield's writing helped to popularize the idea, but he was by no means the originator of it.

Historical Development

Paul N. Benware, in his book, Understanding End Times Prophecy, notes that many writers in the 17th and 18th Centuries began to speak of a Rapture separate and apart from the Second Coming:3
"Peter Jurieu in his book, Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to Heaven before the battle of Armageddon... Philip Doddridge's commentary on the New Testament (1738) and John Gill's commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term rapture and speak of it as imminent. It is clear these men believed that this coming will precede Christ's descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment. James Macknight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over."
Tommy Ice, the director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, asserts that the first person to spell out in detail the idea that the Rapture would occur before the Tribulation begins was a Baptist leader named Morgan Edwards.4 This remarkable man was born in Wales and preached at churches in England and Ireland before emigrating to the United States in 1761 to become pastor of a church in Philadelphia. He proceeded to become the founder of Brown University and was recognized as the leading Baptist historian of his day.
As early as the 1740's Edwards was espousing a pre-tribulational viewpoint in his writings about eschatology. The difference in his view and the modern Pre-Trib concept is that he believed the Rapture would occur in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, about 3 1/2 years before the Second Coming.

The Modern Pre-Trib View

The person who crystallized the modern Pre-Trib viewpoint was a man named John Darby (1800-1882).5 Darby was born in London and was trained in the law. He practiced law for only one year before he was overcome by a deep spiritual struggle that finally led to a decision to enter the ministry. He became an Anglican priest but quickly became disillusioned when the church decreed that all converts would have to swear allegiance to the King of England. Darby considered this to be a compromise with the lordship of Christ.
Darby decided to leave the Anglican Church. In the years following, he and other dissenters from the established state church inaugurated a movement that came to be known as the Plymouth Brethren.
In 1826 Darby broke one of his legs, and during the long convalescence that followed, he engaged in an intensive study of the Scriptures that convinced him of the clear distinction between the Church and Israel. He also became convicted of the imminent return of Jesus. Thus, by 1827 he had developed the fundamental principles that would come to characterize a new theological system that would be called Dispensationalism.

The Dissemination of the View

After John Darby refined the concept, it spread rapidly throughout Europe and America. The viewpoint has always been blessed by gifted communicators. In 1878 the very first best-selling prophecy book incorporated the idea. It was Jesus is Coming by William E. Blackstone (1841-1935).6In 1909 the very first study Bible ever published — The Scofield Study Bible — developed the scriptural arguments for the viewpoint in detail.7 Then came the amazing charts and diagrams of Clarence Larkin (1850-1924) in his book Dispensational Truth.8
Harry Ironside (1876-1951), the popular pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, preached the concept in his sermons and books during the 1930's and 40's.9 In 1970 Hal Lindsey publishedThe Late Great Planet Earth and once again the viewpoint was expressed in a best seller.10 The 20th Century ended with the view being espoused in the "Left Behind" block-buster series of books written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.11

Attacks on the View

Over the years there have been many attacks on the Pre-Trib viewpoint. The most sustained — and the most ridiculous — has been the one launched in the 1970's by Dave MacPherson.12 In a book he keeps re-publishing under different, sensational titles, MacPherson argued that the whole notion of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture was supposedly given to Darby when he attended a Charismatic prayer meeting in Scotland in 1830 where a 15 year old girl, Margaret MacDonald, went into a state of ecstasy during which she declared there would be a Rapture prior to the Tribulation. MacPherson asserts: "Darby borrowed from her, modified her views, and then popularized them under his own name without giving her credit."13
The first problem with MacPherson's assertions is that we know that Darby developed his concept of the Rapture's timing in the winter of 1826-1827, some three years before the prayer meeting in Scotland. The second problem relates to a strange aspect of MacPherson's book. In an appendix, he reproduces Margaret MacDonald's handwritten account of what she said at the 1830 meeting, and there is nothing in it that even suggests a Pre-Tribulation Rapture!14
But the biggest problem with MacPherson's assertion is that it is really irrelevant. The crucial question is not where the Pre-Tribulation Rapture concept originated; rather, the only question that matters is whether or not it is biblical.

Ancient Examples of the Concept

As I have demonstrated in other articles, the concept is completely biblical. It has always been in the Scriptures, waiting for those with a literal approach to interpretation to discover it and develop it in detail. In this regard, I think it is important to note that more and more ancient writings are being discovered that contain intimations of a Rapture separate and apart from the Second Coming.
One of the early Church Fathers, The Shepherd of Hermas, writing in the early 2nd Century, makes an interesting observation about "the great tribulation that is coming." He says, "If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly."15
In medieval times evidence of pretribulational thinking can be found in the recently discovered sermon attributed to Ephraem the Syrian.16 This sermon, which was written sometime between the 4th and 6th Centuries, encourages believers to prepare themselves for meeting the Lord because "all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." Scholars believe this text was derived from the writings of the original Ephraem who lived from 306 to 373 AD. He was one of the leading theologians of the early Byzantine Church.17
It is very likely that there were always some forms of premillennialism and pretribulational thought throughout the Middle Ages but, if so, these viewpoints had to be expressed underground because they violated Catholic dogma. Sects like the Albigenses, Lombards, and the Waldenses were attracted to a literal interpretation of the Bible, but little is know about their detailed beliefs because the Catholic Church declared their writings to be heretical and destroyed them.

Concluding Observations

Two final observations before I conclude. First, there is a mistaken idea that only Dispensationalists believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture. That is not so. In the 1920's the view was adopted by many Pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God. I personally am a good example of a person who holds to the Pre-Trib viewpoint but who is not a full-blown Dispensationalist.
My final observation is that I am not dogmatic about the timing of the Rapture. Unlike some of my colleagues who are downright uncompromising about the timing, I prefer to say that "I believe the best inference of Scripture is that the Rapture is most likely to occur before the Tribulation begins." The Bible never clearly states when the Rapture will occur, and there is, therefore, legitimate room for differences of opinion.


1) "The Early Church Fathers"
2) Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture(Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1992), page 75.
3) Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pages 197-198.
4) Tommy Ice, "Morgan Edwards: A Pre-Darby Rapturist," The Conservative Theological Journal, April 1997, pages 4-12.
5) Tim LaHaye, "Target Number One," Pre-Trib Perspectives, September 2002, pages 1-3.
6) William E. Blackstone, Jesus is Coming (1878). The modern day version is published by Kregel (1989).
7) C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible (London: Oxford University Press, 1909).
8) Clarence Larkin, Dispensational Truth (Philadelphia, 1920).
9) Ed Reese, "Henry (Harry) Allan Ironside"
10) Hal Lindsey with C. C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970).
11) Beginning in 1996 Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins started publishing a series of scriptural novels about the Rapture which came to be known as "The Left Behind" books. A total of 12 volumes have been published in the series, and to date, they have sold 55 million copies.
12) Dave MacPherson, The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin (Heart of America Bible Society, 1973). The author has republished this book over the years under several different titles. For an excellent commentary on MacPherson's theory, see "Dave MacPherson: Inventor of False Pre-Trib History" by Tommy Ice.
13) Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover-Up: Exposing the Origins of the Rapture Theories(Plainfield, NJ: Logos 1975) page 85.
14) MacPherson, pages 151-154.
15) The Shepherd of Hermas, 2[23]:5. A copy of the complete writings of The Shepherd of Hermas can be found on the Internet.
16) Timothy J. Denny and Thomas D. Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation," Bibliotheca Sacra, July-September 1995, pages 306-317.
17) "St. Ephraem" in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the Internet.

The Millennium in the Old Testament Can it be found there?


The Amillennial viewpoint of end time Bible prophecy is the majority view within the Church today — held by both the Catholic church and most mainline Protestant denominations.
Amillennialists are those who believe that Jesus is currently reigning over all the world from Heaven through the Church. They therefore believe that we are in the Millennium now — that it began at the Cross and will continue until the Second Coming. They do not believe that Jesus will ever return to this earth to reign from Jerusalem.
To sustain their viewpoint, Amillennialists must spiritualize most end time prophecies, arguing that they do not mean what they say. Thus, for example, they dismiss the fact that in Revelation 20 we are told six times that the Millennium will last 1,000 years. Amillennialists reject the thousand years as being "figurative in nature," meaning only a long period of time.
One interesting thing I have noticed over the years about Amillennialists is that they have little or no knowledge of the end time prophecies contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. Most Amillennialists I have encountered believe that the only place in the Bible that the Millennium is mentioned is Revelation 20.

A Personal Experience

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Several years ago I was invited to make a presentation to a very large Christian convention. Specifically, I was asked to speak on the topic, "Why I Believe Jesus Will Return to Reign on the Earth."
I was told I would have 30 minutes to make the presentation. When I asked why I was being allotted such a short period of time, I was told, "It's because there is going to be another speaker who will tell why he does not believe there will be a future reign of Jesus on the earth. Each of you will speak 30 minutes, and then there will be 30 minutes for questions and answers."
I accepted the invitation. The other speaker turned out to be a distinguished professor of theology from a Bible College.
I knew my audience would be made up of people who believed that a future reign of Jesus on this earth is mentioned only one place in the Bible — in Revelation 20. So, I decided to spend all my time talking about one passage in the Old Testament — the prophecy contained in Zechariah 14:1-9.
This prophecy states that a day will come when Jerusalem will be surrounded by enemy forces. Half the city will fall, and then the Lord will return to the Mount of Olives. When His feet touch the mountain, it will split in half, and the Jewish remnant will flee from the city and hide in the cleavage of the mountain. The Lord will then speak a supernatural word, and all the enemy forces will be instantly destroyed. And at that point, "...the Lord will be king over all the earth" (verse 9).
The other speaker, who followed me, totally ignored my presentation. He read an academic paper based on the opinions of theologians and not the Scriptures.
When the time came for questions, the other speaker was asked, "What is your explanation ofZechariah 14:1-9?" His exact words in response were, "I have no idea what that passage means, but I can assure you that it has been fulfilled somewhere at sometime."

A Strange Doctrine

I was not surprised by his bizarre response because I had grown up among the churches which were hosting the conference, and I was very familiar with their attitude about Old Testament prophecies.
In their attempt to defend their Amillennial viewpoint, they had developed a doctrine which stated that "all Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled." To justify that assertion, they always pointed to the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 24:44 —
These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.
The problem with using this passage to justify their dismissal of Old Testament prophecy is that it does not say that all Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled. It says they must be fulfilled. The First Coming prophecies have been fulfilled. The Second Coming prophecies are yet to be fulfilled, and Zechariah 14:1-9 is one of those prophecies.

Reckless Spiritualization

At least my opponent did not spiritualize the passage, as most Amillennialists do. Take, for example, the 20th Century theologian Lorraine Bettner. In his book, The Millennium, he argued that the Mount of Olives is a symbol of the human heart. The enemy forces are a symbol of the evil in the world attacking the heart. When a person receives Jesus as Lord and Savior, He comes into their heart, causing the heart to split in repentance. He then defeats all the enemy forces and begins to reign over that person's heart.
This, of course, is an utterly ridiculous interpretation of this passage, but it represents the kind of games that Amillennialists have to play with the Scriptures in order to sustain their position.
In summary, Amillennialists either ignore the Old Testament passages about the Second Coming and the Millennium, or they spiritualize them, or they argue they have already been fulfilled.

A Major Spiritual Problem

But the bottom line is that most Amillennialists simply do not know the Old Testament Scriptures, and this is a major problem in the Church today because it affects not only prophecy but all doctrine.
I grew up in what was called a "New Testament Church." We focused all our Bible study on the New Testament because we were taught that the Old Testament had been "nailed to the Cross" and was therefore no longer valid. Most of us did not own a complete Bible. When we went to a Bible study, we took our New Testaments.
The idea that the Old Testament had been "nailed to the Cross," and was no longer relevant was based on a statement in Colossians 2:14 which reads, "...having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross." This verse is speaking of a "certificate of debt," not the Old Testament. It is talking about the debt we owed God for our sins. By taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus, who was sinless, paid our debt through His crucifixion (1 Peter 2:24).

The Relevance of the Old Testament

This spiritual malady of ignoring the Old Testament is epidemic in the Church today, and it is a serious problem because there is no way to understand the New Testament without knowledge of the Old Testament.
For example, Jesus is referred to by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the "first fruits" of those to be resurrected. There is no way to understand that expression apart from a knowledge of the Old Testament sacrificial system.
In like manner, Jesus is referred to in the book of Hebrews as the "High Priest of our confession"(Hebrews 3:1) and as "a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:10). These terms have no meaning apart from a knowledge of the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek and the role of the High Priest as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Another Personal Experience

Let me give you another example of the significance of Old Testament ignorance. When I was growing up in an Amillennial church, one of the statements I heard in sermons over and over again was, "There is not one verse in the Bible that even implies that Jesus will ever put his feet on this earth again."
You can imagine how surprised I was when, at the age of 12, I accidently discovered Zechariah 14:1-9 where it states point blank that the Messiah will return to the Mount of Olives and that when His feet touch the ground, the mountain will split in half.
I took this passage to my pastor and asked him what it meant. He studied it in silence for a long time, and then he said, "Son, I don't know what these verses mean, but I can guarantee you that they do not mean what they say!"
Later I discovered that Zechariah 14 is not the only place in the Old Testament where the Scriptures state that Jesus will return to this earth. Consider, for example, Ezekiel 43:7 where Jesus, in a pre-incarnate appearance, takes Ezekiel on a visionary tour of the Millennial Temple, and in the midst of that tour, He says, "Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever..."
I think it is also significant to note that the prophet Ezekiel states that when the Lord returns, the name of the city of Jerusalem will be changed to "Yahweh-Shammah," meaning "The Lord is there."

Understanding Prophecy

A knowledge of Old Testament prophecy is particularly necessary to the understanding of New Testament prophecy. Revelation and Daniel fit together like a hand in a glove. Neither one can be understood apart from the other.
The book of Revelation contains more than 300 quotes or references to Old Testament passages, and not a single one is identified. A person without knowledge of the Old Testament could read the book of Revelation and never realize how interlaced it is with Old Testament prophecy. Consider the theme of the book that is found in Revelation 1:7 —
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.
This statement is made up of two quotes from the Old Testament put end-to-end. The first is found in Daniel 7:13 and the second in Zechariah 12:10.

The Significance of the Old Testament

The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of the Old Testament when he wrote the following words to Timothy:
...from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
Most Christians read these words and assume that Timothy must have had a New Testament that he studied from. Not so. The New Testament had not yet been written and compiled when Paul addressed these words to Timothy. When Paul referred to "the sacred writings," he was talking about what we call today the Old Testament. And the point he was making is that Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about His First Coming was sufficient to produce faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Paul proceeded in that letter to Timothy to state that "all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16). The term, "all scripture," means exactly what it says. It refers to both the New Testament and the Old Testament.

Evangelism Based on the Old Testament

The very first Gospel sermon ever preached — Peter's sermon on Pentecost — was based entirely on Old Testament prophecies. All Peter did from the beginning of the sermon to the end was to quote an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah and then proclaim that Jesus had fulfilled it (Acts 2:14-36).
Phillip the evangelist took the same approach when he was confronted with the Ethiopian eunuch, a devout Jew who had been to Jerusalem to observe the feasts and was returning home to Africa (Acts 8:26-39). He discovered that the man was reading an Old Testament passage from Isaiah about the Messiah coming as a "suffering lamb" (Isaiah 53:1-9).
Phillip explained the passage to the Ethiopian, and the man accepted the fact that Jesus had fulfilled it. In response, he was baptized. He then continued on his way, rejoicing that he had found the Messiah.

Messianic Prophecy

There are over three hundred prophecies in the Old Testament that pertain to the First Coming of the Messiah, but many of these are repetitious. Those that are separate and distinct total 109. There are many more than this that relate to the Second Coming and the Lord's Millennial Reign.
All the First Coming prophecies were literally fulfilled, and there is no reason to assume that the fulfillment of the Second Coming prophecies will be any different. We need, therefore, to take the Old Testament seriously, and we need to study what it has to say prophetically about the end times.

The Second Coming

The Bible teaches that Jesus will establish His personal reign over all the earth at the time of His Second Coming, and the Old Testament contains many prophecies about that event. As we have already seen, Zechariah 14 says the Lord will return to the Mount of Olives from which He ascended into Heaven. In Isaiah's account of the same event, he refers to the Lord returning to Mount Zion, which is an alternative name for Jerusalem: "So will the Lord of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill. Like flying birds, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and rescue it; He will pass over and rescue it" (Isaiah 31:4b-5).
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah portray the Lord returning in wrath. Jeremiah says He will "roar" from the heavens (Jeremiah 25:30-31). Isaiah says He will be "filled with indignation" and His tongue will be like "a consuming fire" (Isaiah 30:27-28). Zephaniah says the day of His return will be one of"trouble and distress" and "destruction and desolation" (Zephaniah 1:14-18).

The Millennial Reign

Once the Messiah has poured out the wrath of God on the enemies of God, He will establish His reign over the earth, and He will begin to manifest His glory:
Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders (Isaiah 24:23).
All the various aspects about the Lord's millennial reign are spelled out in detail in the book of Isaiah. The book of Revelation is about the Tribulation. It is the book of Isaiah that reveals the details of the Millennium.
Millennial Scene
Political Characteristics — The reign will be world-wide (Isaiah 2:2 and 9:6-7). It will be peaceful in nature (Isaiah 2:4), and the world will be blessed with righteousness (Isaiah 11:4-5) and justice (Isaiah 42:3-4).
The Lord's throne will be established in Jerusalem, for He will occupy the throne of David (Isaiah 2:3). His government will be a theocratic one in which He will serve as king, legislator and judge (Isaiah 33:17-22). The Redeemed will reign with the Lord as princes (Isaiah 32:1). And because the Lord will be reigning from Jerusalem, the nation of Israel will be the prime nation in the world (Isaiah 2:2-349:22-23, and 60:1-62:7).
Spiritual Characteristics — Isaiah spends a great amount of time outlining the spiritual blessings of the Millennium, the greatest of which is the fact that the glory and holiness of the Lord will be manifested (Isaiah 40:3-552:13-1561:3 and 66: 18). Holiness will abound (Isaiah 4:2-4) and an attitude of joy and praise will prevail:
And the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away (Isaiah 35:10).
A rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem will serve as the worship center of the world (Isaiah 2:2-356:6-8, and 60:7b,13). Incredibly, the Shekinah glory of God will hover over the city of Jerusalem like a canopy (Isaiah 4:5). And "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
The Redemption of Nature — One aspect of the Millennium that is heavily emphasized by the Hebrew prophets is the redemption of nature. The land of Israel will no longer be a place of desolation (Isaiah 62:3-5). Instead, "the fruit of the earth" will be the pride of Israel (Isaiah 4:2)."Waters will break forth in the wilderness," and the deserts will become pools of water (Isaiah 35:6b-7).
In addition to agricultural abundance, the animal kingdom will be restored to its original perfection. Poisonous animals will cease to be poisonous, and meat-eating animals will become herbivorous. All members of the animal kingdom will live together in perfect peace with each other and with Mankind (Isaiah 11:6-9 and 65:25).
Millennial Peace
The Quality of Life — In a thrilling passage in Isaiah 65, the prophet reveals that lifespans for those in the flesh will be greatly expanded to "the lifetime of a tree" (Isaiah 65:22). Accordingly, anyone who dies at the age of 100 will be considered a youth (Isaiah 65:20).
Every person will have his own home and vineyard. There will be no homeless or hungry people (Isaiah 65:21-22). All labor will be redeemed (Isaiah 65:23) in the sense that it will be productive, and it will not be confiscated by others.
Disease will be curtailed (Isaiah 33:24) and persons born with physical handicaps will be healed:
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout with joy(Isaiah 35:5-6).

Isaiah's Climax

Isaiah was given so many glorious visions and words of knowledge concerning the majestic reign of the Lord that he was almost bursting with anticipation by the time he got to the end of his book. This prompted him to suddenly cry out:
Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains [kingdoms] would quake at Your presence — as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil — to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! (Isaiah 64:1-2).
Now, keep in mind that I have only shared with you a few passages from the book of Isaiah. There are many other passages regarding the Millennium that are scattered throughout the Old Testament.

Prophecies of the Major Prophets About the Millennium

Jeremiah pictures the Millennium as a time when Israel and Judah will be united in peace, and the city of Jerusalem will be called "The Throne of the Lord" (Jeremiah 3:17-18). Jesus, "the righteous Branch," will "reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land" (Jeremiah 23:5). And because of His new role as king, the name of Jesus will be changed to Yahweh-Tsidkenu, meaning, "The Lord is our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6).
David, in his glorified body, will serve as the king of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9), and all the enemies of Israel will be destroyed (Jeremiah 30:11). The city of Jerusalem and the Temple will be rebuilt (Jeremiah 30:18), and the population will be multiplied (Jeremiah 30:19). The mourning of the Jewish people will be turned into joy (Jeremiah 31:13).
The Jewish people will repent of the rejection of their Messiah and will enter into a new covenant with God that will be written on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and 32:37-40). The streets of Jerusalem will be filled with "the voice of joy and the voice of gladness..." (Jeremiah 33:11).
Southwest Millennial Scene
Ezekiel confirms that the Jewish people will enter into a new covenant with God that will be written on their hearts (Ezekiel 11:19-20 and 16:60-62). He also confirms that the Lord will guarantee their security and will "execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them" (Ezekiel 28:26). The land of Egypt will be particularly punished for its treatment of Israel and will remain a desolation during the first 40 years of the Millennium (Ezekiel 29:9-16).
Ezekiel also confirms that David will be made king of Israel (Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24). The Lord will pour out "showers of blessings" on Israel, including agricultural abundance (Ezekiel 34:26-29) and the rebuilding of their Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-27). The result is that the Lord's glory will be set among the nations (Ezekiel 39:21).
From chapter 40 through chapter 46, Ezekiel focuses on describing the Millennial Temple. It is much larger than any of the previous Jewish temples, and the Holy of Holies in the Temple contains no ark. Jeremiah had already prophesied that the ark would not be rebuilt or remembered (Jeremiah 3:16).
One of Ezekiel's end time prophecies that has already been fulfilled relates to the Eastern Gate. He says it will be shut up and will not be reopened until the Messiah returns (Ezekiel 44:1-3). The gate was closed in the 1500's and remains closed to this day.
Ezekiel reveals that part of the redemption of nature will be the conversion of the Dead Sea into a sea of fresh water (Ezekiel 47:8-9). He concludes his book by telling how the redeemed and greatly expanded land of Israel will be divided among the 12 tribes (Ezekiel 48).
Daniel's end time prophecies focus on the Tribulation and the Antichrist. His first mention of the Millennium occurs in chapter 2 where he interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar about the sequence of Gentile empires. He reveals that the last Gentile empire will be destroyed by the return of the Messiah and the establishment of His kingdom "which will never be destroyed" (Daniel 2:44-45).
In chapter 7, Daniel emphasizes that the Redeemed will reign with the Messiah: "Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One..." (Daniel 7:27). Daniel concludes his book by indicating there will be an interregnum of 75 days between the time of the Lord's return and the establishment of His worldwide government (Daniel 12:11-12). This is most likely the period of time when the Messiah will judge all those left alive at the end of the Tribulation to determine whether or not they will enter the Millennium in the flesh. This time period will also likely be used to organize the Messiah's government, part of which will be to make governing assignments to the Redeemed who will be in glorified bodies.

Prophecies of the Minor Prophets About the Millennium

Hosea talks about how God will use the Millennium to fulfill all the promises He has made to the Jewish people (Hosea 1:10-112:14-20, and 14:4-7).
He confirms that God will establish peace in the animal kingdom and peace between the nations (Hosea 2:18). And he makes it clear that God's blessings will also be poured out on the Gentiles (Hosea 2:23).
Hosea's most fascinating prophecy has to do with the timing of the Lord's return. He indicates that it will be "two days" after His ascension into Heaven (Hosea 5:15 - 6:2). The context of the passage indicates that the two days represent 2,000 years. Hosea says that after the two days, the Messiah"will raise us up" (the resurrection) that "we may live before Him" for "the third day" (the 1,000 years of the Millennium).
Joel's end time prophecies focus mainly on "the day of the Lord" which, in his context, is the day of the Messiah's Second Coming (Joel 1:152:1,13 and 3:14). But he does give us a glimpse of the Millennium when he states that when the Messiah returns, He will dwell "in Zion, My holy mountain"and that Jerusalem will be characterized by holiness (Joel 3:17,21). He also confirms that the land will be revitalized for great agricultural production: "The mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water" (Joel 3:18). He also affirms that Egypt will be a desolation (Joel 3:19).
Amos presents a picture of the Messiah returning as a roaring lion (Amos 1:2). The only thing he has to say about the Millennium is that it will be characterized by agricultural abundance (Amos 9:14) — so much so that "the plowman will overtake the reaper" (Amos 9:13).
Obadiah's only significant comment about the Millennium is his statement that it will be characterized by holiness (Obadiah 17).
Jonah has nothing to say about the Millennium.
Micah begins his prophecy with a vision of the Second Coming (Micah 1:3-4). Regarding the Millennium, Micah presents a glorious vision of it and does so in words that are almost identical with Isaiah's (Micah 4:1-7 and Isaiah 2:2-4). He emphasizes the peace and prosperity that will characterize the Millennium (Micah 4:3-4). He also underlines the promise of God that He will make the Jewish people the primary nation of the world during the Millennium (Micah 4:6-7).
Nahum echoes Joel by focusing his prophecies on "the day of the Lord" (Nahum 1:1-8). The only thing he has to say with regard to the Millennium is that the Jewish people will enjoy perfect peace (Nahum 1:15) and the splendor of their nation will be restored (Nahum 2:2).
Habakkuk begins his book by assuring the reader that God will be faithful to send the Messiah back"at the appointed time" (Habakkuk 2:3). He follows that by presenting a very dramatic vision of the Second Coming (Habakkuk 3:3-13). He does not have anything to say about the Millennium.
Zephaniah begins his book by presenting a powerful and frightening vision about the Second Coming (Zephaniah 1:14-18). He concludes his book with a brief prophecy about the Millennium (Zephaniah 3:14-20). He reveals that the Lord will regather all believing Jews back to the land of Israel and that He will live in their midst (Zephaniah 3:17-20). And he promises that God will make the Jewish nation the prime nation of the world (Zephaniah 3:20).
Haggai asserts that at the time of the Second Coming, God will shake the heavens and earth (Haggai 2:6-7), overthrowing all Gentile kingdoms (Haggai 2:22). The wealth of the nations will be transferred to Jerusalem, and the Temple will be rebuilt in glory (Haggai 2:7). And then, using Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, as a prophetic type of the Messiah, Haggai says that God will give him His "signet ring" — meaning that he will become the King of kings and Lord of lords (Haggai 2:23).
Zechariah says that the Lord "will return to Jerusalem" and will rebuild the Temple (Zechariah 1:16). He calls upon the Jewish people to "sing for joy and be glad" because the Lord has told him that "I am coming and I will dwell in your midst" (Zechariah 2:10).
Concerning the nature of the Lord's reign, Zechariah says He will be "a priest on His throne,"confirming that the government will be a theocracy (Zechariah 6:12-13). The city of Jerusalem will be called "The City of Truth" and "The Holy Mountain" (Zechariah 8:3). Believing Jews will be regathered from all over the world (Zechariah 9:14-17), and the population of Jerusalem will live in peace and prosperity (Zechariah 8:8,12). The Jewish people will be so greatly blessed that when a Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his robe and say, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you" (Zechariah 8:23).
Zechariah further states that during the Millennium, all the nations of the world will be required to send delegations to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16). Those nations that fail to do so will receive no rain (Zechariah 14:17-18).
Zechariah concludes his book by emphasizing the holiness that will abound during the Millennium. He says that the bells on the horses' bridles will be engraved with the words, "Holy to the Lord"(Zechariah 14:20-21).
Malachi contains several passages about the Second Coming, but the only thing it says about the Millennium is that the name of the Lord "will be great among the nations" (Malachi 1:11).

Other Old Testament Prophecies

There are scattered references among the history books of the Old Testament concerning both the Second Coming and the Millennium, and the Psalms are full of them, but I do not have the space to list them in detail. You can find such a listing in my book, The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide. Suffice it to say that I believe I have presented more than enough evidence to prove that the Old Testament is full of prophecies about the end times and the Millennium.

Some Final Points

So let me emphasize once again that Revelation 20 is not the only chapter in the Bible where the Millennium is prophesied. It does, however, present us with some new information that is not mentioned elsewhere:
1) Satan will be bound during the Millennium.
2) The Lord's reign will last 1,000 years. (This is strongly implied in figurative language in the book of Hosea.)
3) The Millennium will end with a great revolt that will be led by Satan and which will be put down by God.
We are told in the book of Acts that after His resurrection Jesus spent 40 days with His disciples"speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). At the end of those 40 days, when He gathered His disciples on the Mount of Olives for His ascension into Heaven, they asked Him, "Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). He did not respond by telling them there would be no kingdom. Rather, He told them that it was not for them to know the time (Acts 1:7).
Jesus left us with many signs to watch for that would mark the season of His return. Those signs are everywhere we look today. Jesus is returning soon. He is going to reign in majesty from Jerusalem, and the Redeemed will share that reign with Him (2 Timothy 2: 12 and Revelation 2:26-27). We are living on borrowed time.
Are you ready?