Table of Contents
Introduction-by Rousas John Rushdoony
HISTORIC REFORMED ESCHATOLOGY
I. History of the Reformed Position
II. All Nations Blessed
III. Matthew Twenty-four
IV. Revelation Twenty
I. The Time Text
II. The Transition Text
III. The Context
IV. The Question of the Disciples
V. Misleading Signs of the End
VI. The Approximate and Real Sign of the End
VII. Great Tribulation
VIII. No Personal Coming During the Siege
IX. Signs in the Sun, Moon and Stars
X. Appearance of the Sign
XI. The Year of Jubilee
XII. The Parable of the Fig Tree
XIII. That Day and Hour
XIV. The Last Judgment
I. The First Resurrection
II. The Two Resurrections
III. The Angel with the Chain
V. Bound a Thousand Years
VI. I Saw Thrones
VII. The Regeneration
VIII. The Judging of the Saints
IX. The Reign of Martyrs
X. The Dead and the Living
XI. Satan Is Loosed!
XII. The Siege of the Beloved City
XIII. The Doom of the Devil
XIV. The Great White Throne
XV. The Books Are Opened
XVI. Death and Hades Vanquished
One of the intellectual curiosities of the
twentieth century is the unwillingness of scholars and Christian
leaders to admit the existence of a major school of Biblical
interpretation. Although postmillennialism has a long history as a
major, and perhaps the central, interpretation of Biblical
eschatology, it is summarily read out of court by many on
non-Biblical grounds. According to Unger, "This theory, largely
disproved by the progress of history, is practically a dead issue."
This note resounds in the critical literature, the appeal, not to
Scripture but to history to read postmillennialism out of court.
Note, for example, the comments of Adams,
ostensibly a Reformed scholar, when he touches briefly on the
The advent of two World Wars not only transformed
yesterday's optimistic modernism into today's pessimistic
Neo-orthodoxy, but virtually rang the death knell upon conservative
postmillennialism as well…. Currently, postmillennialism is
considered all but a dead issue. It is spurned as highly unrealistic
because it predicts a golden age around the corner in a day in which
the world nervously anticipates momentary destruction by nuclear
Such comments are in principle modernistic, in
that they assess Scripture, not in terms of itself, but in terms of
the times, the modern age. In terms of this emphasis, Adams gives
some attention to criticizing premillennialism, which seems
relevant, he recognizes, because of its pessimism concerning
history, and gives no attention to postmillennialism because
history, not exegesis, has virtually made it "a dead issue" for him.
This constitutes Biblical interpretation according to the state of
Not only are such newspaper exegetes neglectful
of the primacy of Scripture as its own interpreter, but they also
seriously misrepresent the facts. Witness the comment of Lindsey:
There used to be a group called
"postmillennialists." They believed that the Christians would root
out the evil in the world, abolish godless rulers, and convert the
world through ever increasing evangelism until they brought about
the Kingdom of God on earth through their own efforts. Then after
1000 years of the institutional church reigning on earth with peace,
equality, and righteousness, Christ would return and time would end.
These people rejected much of the Scripture as being literal and
believed in the inherent goodness of man. World War I greatly
disheartened this group and World War II virtually wiped out this
viewpoint. No self-respecting scholar who looks at the world
conditions and the accelerating decline of Christian influence today
is a "postmillennialist."
Here again we have an implicit modernism: The
"self-respecting scholar…looks at world conditions" rather that
Scripture in order to decide on his eschatology!
The errors in Lindsey's brief statement are many, but one will
suffice in this context. Which of the postmillennial scholars held
to "the inherent goodness of man"? Did Calvin, Alexander, Charles
Hodge, Warfield, or others? In our day, does this belief in the
fallen man's goodness characterize Kik, Boettner, or this writer?
Such a statement as Lindsey makes has no foundation in fact and
maligns a great and growing school of thought.
Postmillennial thought will flourish because it
is Biblical and is therefore the eschatology of victory, or of
salvation in its full sense. It takes seriously all of Scripture and
the resurrection. Christ's victory is in time and eternity, in the
world of matter as well as in the realm of the spirit. "The
accelerating decline of Christian influence today" of which Lindsey
speaks is a product of Christian irrelevance. It was not World War I
which led to an eclipse of postmillennialism; rather, the growing
modernism and atheism led to a rejection by the natural man of that
faith which asserted the "Crown Rights of King Jesus" over the
world. False eschatologies, by surrendering history to the devil,
hastened the retreat of Christian influence and power. Any true
revival of Biblical faith will also be a revival of
The sources of the modern dilemma are in part
Manichaean. Basic to Manichaeanism is the belief that the world is
divided into two realms, the realm of spirit, light, goodness, and
the good god, and the realm of matter, darkness, evil, and the bad
god. In terms of this faith, man's mission is not a missionary
conquest of all things but withdrawal from a hopelessly evil and
satanic world into the world of spirit and light. Asceticism has
been a major expression of neo-Manichaeanism thinking, and, in the
early and medieval church, exercised a major influence. In modern
Protestantism, neo-Manichaeanism manifests itself in eschatologies
which surrender the world to the devil.
During the course of the past few years, this
writer has been told repeatedly by persons dissenting with his
postmillennialism that the world is ruled by Satan, and therefore
postmillennialism is impossible. In the minds of church members,
this conclusion that Satan is ruler of time, matter, and history
brings logical and radical conclusions. It means the surrender of
the world to the enemy, the denial of the possibility of social
reform, and a hostility to any note of victory in preaching.
("Victorious living" becomes a neo-Manichaean flight into the realm
of spirit.) A prominent premillennialist preacher has declared, "You
don't polish brass on a sinking ship," thereby denying the validity
of any involvement in history. Others have insisted that Satan rules
the world and history. The Christian hope has been turned into
flight and despair.
Postmillennialism will again prevail, however,
because it is the truth of God and His enscriptured word. As an
eschatology of victory, it will inspire men with the power of God,
and, as with great saints of old, and the Puritans of yesteryears,
lead again and more enduringly to the triumph of Christ in every
area, bringing every sphere of thought and action into captivity to
The writings of J. M. Kik give us that
eschatology of victory which Scripture sets forth.
Rousas John Rushdoony
March 4, 1971
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt. 24:29-31)
Coming in the Clouds
The third and final clause of verse 30 says, "and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." This clause has been thought to relate definitely to the second, visible, and personal coming of the Lord. But in the light of well-defined biblical language, the reference is rather to a coming in terms of the events of his providence in judgment against his enemies and in deliverance of his people.
It should be noted carefully that neither this verse nor this particular clause indicates a coming upon earth. Some have read into this clause that Jesus was actually descending to the earth for the purpose of taking up a reign in the city of Jerusalem. Nothing like that is indicated. As a matter of fact, there is not a single verse in the New Testament to indicate that Christ will reign upon a material throne in the material city of Jerusalem. This thought has been imported by a carnal interpretation of Old Testament passages. Christ is actually seated now upon his Messianic throne.
Many commentators have taken it for granted that the expression "coming in the clouds" refers to a visible coming of Christ. A careful study of the Scriptures, however, reveals that that is not a necessary interpretation. A similar expression occurs in Isaiah 19:1, "Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it." Although this passage speaks of the Lord riding upon a cloud and of his presence, nevertheless we know that the Egyptians did not see the Lord in a personal, visible way. The Lord riding upon a swift cloud indicated a coming in judgment against the Egyptians.
A similar type of expression concerning judgment is found in Psalm 97:2,3: "Clouds and darkness are round him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about." In speaking of the mighty power of God the Psalmist uses this expression: "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind" (Ps. 104:3). The expression "who maketh the clouds his chariot," is no different from "coming in the clouds of heaven." In the Psalms there is no thought of a personal, visible coming of the Lord, but rather references to his judgment and power.
Following the well-defined biblical sense of such expression the last clause of verse 30 may well be interpreted then to indicate a coming in judgment and power: judgment against his enemies and power to the establishment of his kingdom.
This interpretation is borne out by the words of Christ in other passages when he indicated that he was coming before the contemporary generation would pass away. He said: "Verily I say unto you, there shall be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt. 16:28). Christ was saying that some of the people actually standing before him and listening to him would not die until they saw the Son of man coming in his kingdom. This could hardly refer to a personal and visible coming in that generation.
The same thought in conveyed in Christ's words to the High Priest: "Thou hast said: Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:64). This High Priest was to see Christ sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven. Can this possibly refer to Christ's second coming when the description "sitting on the right hand of power" precludes such interpretation. It means rather that after the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus would ascend into heaven and take his place on the right hand of God, the Father, as described in Daniel 7:13,14: "I saw in the night vision, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." When Christ ascended into heaven he was seated upon his Messianic throne. This is in full accord with the declaration of Christ as he was about to ascend into heaven: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." One of the first manifestation of the power and glory of Messiah was the destruction of the city that refused to accept him as King and Saviour. This act of judgment gave evidence that all power had indeed been given unto him. He did come in the clouds of heaven and rained destruction upon those who had rejected and crucified him. This caused the tribes of the earth to mourn. The sign of the reigning Christ was seen in the destruction of Jerusalem. The contemporary generation, indicated in verse 34, witnessed fulfillment of these things as Christ had prophesied.
J. Marcellus Kik
An Eschatology of Victory
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971
There is a great debate today over the meaning of Matthew 24 and
Revelation 20, two passages central to any discussion of
eschatology. Does Matthew 24 prophesy a coming Great Tribulation or
a premillennial return of Christ? Does Revelation 20 describe a
millennial age on earth, or in heaven? Will the nations be converted
before the coming of Christ?
J. Marcellus Kik provides great insight into these passages and
the questions that surround them. He writes, "It is the habit of a
few to read a few chapters of a book on prophecy to see to which
school of thought the author belongs. Then if they do not agree with
his particular school it is cast aside and condemned. It is my hope
that the reader will not use the norm of any particular school of
prophecy but will use the Scriptures. Does the Word of God teach
this or does it not?"
States Rousas J. Rushdoony in the Introduction,
"Postmillennial thought will flourish because it is Biblical and is
therefore the eschatology of victory, or of salvation in its full
sense. It takes seriously all of Scripture and the resurrection.
Christ's victory is in time and eternity, in the world of matter as
well as the realm of the spirit."
J. Marcellus Kid studied for the ministry at both Princeton and
Westminster Theological Seminaries. He pastored churches in Canada
for twenty years, and has pastored in the United States. For four
years he served as Associate Editor of Christianity Today.