Transcript:

Classroom Lectures: Jackson Seminary (2)

Post Millennialism, II

R.J. Rushdoony

Let us begin with prayer. Our Lord and God we come to Thee today mindful of the abundance of Thy mercy. We thank Thee that Thy Word is true, and the Word of truth has been given to us to light our way. We thank Thee that by Thy grace we are a new people in Christ Jesus. That all Thy promises to us in Him are yea and amen. Make us ever joyful in Thee and in Thy word, in Jesus name, Amen.

Dr. Smith suggested that in this hour I continue the subject of postmillennialism. We studied last week the theological and philosophical underpinnings of the position. Now let us consider it, very briefly of course, from a biblical exegetical position. There are a number of books and material that are well worth reading. Boettner’s Millennium is an excellent one, OT Allis’ Prophecy and the Church is an excellent critique of the Scofieldian dispensational premillennial interpretations. Roderick Campbell’s Israel and the New Covenant, is an important study. Alexander’s Commentary on Isaiah is a classic in the field, and also TV Moore’s Zachariah, with his available, as is Alexander also I believe, from the Banner of Truth trust. Iain Murray’s The Puritan Hope, my book Thy Kingdom Come which is on Daniel and Revelation, and a number of other books. I mustn’t forget Marcellus Kik’s, The Eschatology of Victory. All these will give you far more on detailed exegesis of the postmillennial position. I can add another commentary that’s good in this area, and that is Alexander’s Psalms. I mention Psalms because I shall deal with that specifically in this hour.

Too often, as eschatology is treated, people deal with a few classic texts, and I’m going to avoid those, I’ve given you these books as references whereby you can check out interpretations including mine of Daniel and Revelation, of Thessalonians, of Isaiah, of Zachariah, and many of the other classic texts that deal with the subject. But in reality, the real answer is to be found from one end of Scripture to the other. One of the stories I like by the way, in this area, is told by Dr. Charles Woodbridge himself. Woodbridge is perhaps the Dean of fundamentalists, premillennialism thinkers in this country, a very fine man. And a very close friend of J. Gresham Machen, who was a postmillennial. And Machen thought highly of Woodbridge, in fact remembered him very generously in his will. However, as Woodbridge himself told this story to me on one occasion, he said that he was for some years very anxious to convert Machen to premillennialism, and he said finally he was thoroughly squelched by Machen and he never brought up the subject again. And he said as they were walking along one day, he propagandizing him on this or that aspect of the premillennial position. And Machen said: “Well Charlie, I could accept premillennialism if it weren’t for one thing.” So Woodbridge said: “I eagerly asked: ‘What is it?’ figuring I could settle it in a moment, one thing.” Machen said: “It isn’t in the Bible, Charlie.”

Now, the Bible from beginning to end is saturated with its eschatology, it shows throughout. For example, when we read Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

‘Bruise’ or ‘crush,’ means here the destruction of the head of Satan. And where the head is crushed, the power is gone. And this is the essence of this statement. And St. Paul fixed this up Romans 16:20, and says: “then Satan shall be bruised under your feet shortly, he shall be crushed under your feet.” This was the Christian hope.

But let us turn to the Psalms to see something of what the Psalter tells us. First of all, one of the things that characterize the Psalms, beginning with the first Psalm, is the principle that there is a way that leads to life and a way that leads to death. And that, inescapably, the principle of life means flourishing, it means victory. The man who walks in the counsel of the ungodly is like chaff, “which the wind driveth away.” Therefore: “the ungodly shall not stand,” we are told, in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. So that, as a principle, the ungodly have no place in God’s creation. They are ultimately destroyed. But the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord is: “…like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” A fundamental premise, therefore, of Scripture is here set forth. The way of the ungodly is not going to prosper under God, and finally in the judgment, it means total destruction. But the godly are like trees that are planted by rivers of water. They shall prosper. In Proverbs 8, the concluding verse, thirty-six I believe, again we have this same kind of principle set forth, as we do indeed in the Sermon on the Mount, that: “He that he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul, all they that hate me love death.” To turn from God means to be governed by a will to death, the principle of suicide, of self-destruction. Thus, as we go through Scripture, we see continually this parallel. The way of the ungodly leads to death, culminating in the judgment, the way of the righteous is the way of prosperity, of life. They shall be fat and flourishing, we are told.

But let us look in particular at the second Psalm, I want to spend a little time on that, because it is of such great importance. This Psalm is one of the two most quoted portions of the Old Testament, in the New. The other is the passage in Isaiah, the vision of the Lord high and lifted up, where the hardening of the hearts is referred to, that “hearing they shall not hear and seeing they shall not see,” “lest they turn and be converted.” Apart from that passage, nothing else in the Old Testament is more quoted than Psalm 2. So that the position of Psalm 2 is echoed repeatedly as essential to the gospel and to the epistles.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

Now this Psalm gives us, in capsule form, in the best concentrated form of all of Scripture, the biblical philosophy of history. And what does it say? It tells us that the heathen, and commentators have made clear in some translators that this means the ungodly nations, the powers of the world, they rage, and the people, the Gentiles, the unregenerate, imagine a vain thing. They set themselves up, and they take counsel, or some have translated this, and this is interesting: “they conspire together.”

Now, as against many conservatives who are strong on conspiracy, we must say that as Christians we do believe there is a conspiracy, the conspiracy of Satan against God. And like any and every conspiracy, it is doomed, because the idea of conspiracy is to determine the course of history, and only God can do that. So whether it is the conspiracy of men or the conspiracy of Satan, they: “imagine a vain thing.” Thus we must say, whether it is to Satan, or to the communists, or to the atheists, or to any other group in the world, when they dream of capturing control of history, of dominating the world, of saying this is ours, they: “imagine a vain thing.” Their conspiracy is against the Lord, and against His anointed.

Every ungodly movement is aimed primarily against the Lord and against His anointed. And here again, speaking of conservatives, we must say that in defending what you do, you are defending the minor thing and in terms of Saul’s armor, when the real defense must be of the faith, with the Lord’s armor. “Let us break their band asunder and cast away their cords.” Let us dispense with God’s world of law, let us dispense with the restraint of God and His order, let us create our own paradise of earth, a paradise without God, the kingdom of man. And what is the response of God? Now this is one of the most magnificent verses in all of Scripture. And I counsel you to memorize this Psalm, and to remember it when you feel low. “He that sitteth in the heaven shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.” This is what we need, to share in God’s laughter as His people. So as we face the conspiring of the all the world of powers against God and His anointed, we share in that heavenly laughter. The confidence in the absolute and sovereign God, before whom the nations and the isles are as nothing. That no one can for a fraction of a moment, deflect history from His predestined course. “The Lord shall have them in derision.”

And rightfully so. And so should we. We should not fear, “…though the mountains shake, though the mountains be moved into the seas, though the earth tremble, for the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” The derision of God, for all the vanity of man as he seeks to oppose God, should be ours also. We should be “more than conquerors in Christ.” Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, vex them in His sore displeasure. We have a picture of God laughing in amazement at the insanity of man, then pronouncing His judgment upon them from all eternity, in His sore displeasure. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” It is decreed, nothing can shake it. I have established my throne, my capital, it is Zion. Out of my true Church, the Invisible Church, I shall reign. my Son, ordained from before the foundation of the world, shall reestablish that which Satan tried to overthrow in Eden. my Kingdom, I will declare the decree. “…the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Just before, God the Father speaks, now God the Son speaks. And of course, these are the words we have at the baptism also. Christ speaks here, but God says to Him in His incarnation: “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” You are now my appointed Heir, to rule the world, and this is my decree from before the foundation of the world, therefore: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” The whole world is therefore committed to Christ as King.

Now some people say, but our Lord said my Kingdom is not of this world, what does that mean? It meant simply this. Was He the King Israel was expecting, whose kingship was of men? No! He did not deny that He was the King, the rightful heir of the throne of David. When He was confronted with this charge, he said: “thou sayest it.” You’ve said it! But His Kingship was not of this world, it was not derived from men, even as His priesthood was not of this world, but of the order of Melchizedek, that is, directly from God. Melchizedek’s priesthood was without father, without mother, that is, it was not inherited as the priesthood of Aaron. It came directly from God. Melchizedek had a father and had a mother, but he did not derive his priesthood from father or mother, from hereditary, from man, from the will of the flesh, but directly from God. And so the priesthood of our Lord was of Melchizedek. The order of Melchizedek, the same kind, directly from God’s eternal ordination. And so is His Kingship. Though indeed He was of the house of David. Yet He specifically denied that His was a Kingship that Israel could confer. And when men tried to seize Him by force and make Him King, He refused to be made King by men, or of men. Because He was already King – of God. So the uttermost parts of the earth, the Gentiles, the heathen nations, are His inheritance. And so God speaks: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now the comparison of a rod of iron and a potter’s vessel is quite a dramatic one. The utter hopelessness of a potter’s vessel, a dish, resisting a rod of iron, that’s the imagery. So hopeless is it for the nations of the world to dream of resisting God. Of resisting the dominion of Christ. Who shall establish all things under His power.

Isaiah gives us a vision of that, the heart of his book after dealing the atonement, he goes on to speak of the conquest of the world by the people of God. And how again the world will resemble, more and more, a paradise. So that the sinner having died at a hundred will be accounted to have died young, in other words, the lifespan will again be very long. We’re not told how long, whether it will be as long as before the Flood, but that it will be very long. “…the desert shall… blossom as the rose.” The waste places of the earth will again be habitable.

There is reason to believe that before the Flood, the whole earth, from Pole to Pole, was inhabited. The evidences are of a very semi-tropical climate. In the Siberian area mammoths were frozen instantaneously with buttercups in their mouths. And in the Czar’s regime, the meat was still good, and it was sometimes served to foreign dignitaries when they were there, the meat of animals from before the Flood, frozen. The Antarctic reveals, underneath the snow and ice, a tropical or semi-tropical world that once existed before the Flood. Very interesting, there’s a book that was written a few years ago by a scientist who had been an associate of Einstein. A professor in California with whom I was discussing the book said, it is ignored, even though the credentials of Hapgood are very good, because it says something that doesn’t sit well with the modern world. Well what was it? And this is just a by the way, but I think it’s such a delightful point that I will bring it up. Not too many years ago, in the papers of a Turkish admiral who died during Columbus’s life time, an old map that this Turkish admiral, Piri Reis, had collected, was discovered among his effects. Now the map went way back before Piri Reis’ day. So it antedated Columbus. And the map very obviously, shows some very remarkable things. It had North and South and Central America, and it had the Antarctic world very carefully charted. There were also all kinds of computations that they couldn’t decipher, they couldn’t figure out. The Pentagon asked for it, and they turned it over to, finally, to Hapgood, and he had a whole group of graduate students work on it for a period of years, until they decoded it. They found that not only did it have an accurate mapping of the entire world, including Antarctica before there was any ice on it, but also they could compute both longitude and latitude, and a good many other things. So it was a real shock.

Then they began collecting a lot of old maps everywhere in the world, and they found that there was a great deal of such knowledge that went back twenty centuries or so BC That apparently at that time, they had an extensive knowledge of the whole world. And they apparently knew how to communicate with each other. So, he comments, Hapgood does in his book, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, that there is a myth or legend in the Bible about men at one time having one language all over the world, and it must echo some dim truth, because there’s evidence of this in the maps. Well, of course what we would have to say is, that these maps were made by men in the days not too long after Noah, within a few generations, when the ice had not settled on the Antarctic and they charted the whole world. But they had developed a great deal of technology before the Flood, and still retained some of it, and gradually lost it later. Because one of the interesting things is, some of those ancient civilizations had a technology that was subsequently lost. At Mohenjo-daro in India, they had sewer lines and running water in the houses. At Knossos in Crete, they had, when Moses was not yet on the scene, hot and cold running water, and flush toilets in the palace, a high civilization.

Now, to return to: “…the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” The whole world again, according to Isaiah, is again to blossom like the rose. Everything is again to be under man’s dominion, this time godly dominion. And so the word is, submit yourselves! Here’s the King who can break the nations in pieces like a potter’s vessel. “Be wise now therefore oh ye kings, be instructed ye judges of the earth,” David now speaks, inspired of the Holy Spirit. And so he counsels the nations and rulers: “serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling, kiss the Son lest he be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.” Now, when he summons them to “kiss the Son,” it means to bow down as before the King of kings, an Emperor, and kiss His feet. To prostrate themselves totally before Him, Lord and sovereign, begging His mercy for their sin, and totally committing themselves to Christ the King. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Now this Psalm gives us the biblical philosophy of history. And it’s a dramatic picture. A picture of Christ as King, who shall triumph, and who shall rule to “the uttermost parts of the earth.” This is a post-millennial Psalm, very obviously.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder

Interested in more content by R.J. Rushdoony? Listen to all of his SERMONS and AUDIOBOOKS for free!