Chapter 10: Anticipation

Kenneth L Gentry

Narrated By: Aidan McGuire
Book: He Shall Have Dominion
Topics: ,


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Chapter Text

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:2-3)

As noted in the previous chapter, the divinely ordained calling of man to exercise dominion over the earth was given at Creation, while Adam’s redemptive restoration to that calling began immediately after his Fall. Following this, the revelation of God in Scripture begins tracing the line of the Redeemer, developing the hope-filled eschatological expectation of the comprehensive redemption that He will surely bring.

Anticipation in the Pre-Mosaic and Early Mosaic Eras

The Noahic Covenant

The various features of the Noahic Covenant are found in Genesis 6:17-22 and 8:20-9:17. In this covenant, we have a clear reaffirmation of the Cultural Mandate, which is fundamental to the outworking of God’s eschatological purpose through man.[1] We also have a continuance of God’s gracious redemptive relation as the ongoing basis of the Cultural Mandate, which is likewise necessary to eschatology.[2]

This covenant is established with God’s people: the family of Noah, who alone escaped the deluge by the grace of God. Thus, this should not be deemed solely a common-grace covenant, for it was directly made with God’s people (Noah’s family), was established on the basis of grace and redemptive sacrifice (Gen. 6:8; 8:20-22), and is united with God’s other redemptive covenants (cf. Hos. 2:18 with Gen. 6:20; 8:17; 9:9ff).[3] The Cultural Mandate, then, has an especial relevance to the function of God’s people in the world: the Noahic reaffirmation of the Mandate is expressly made with God’s people, the “you” of Genesis 9:1-12. On the basis of divine covenant, God’s people are called to the forefront of cultural leadership, with the religious aspects of culture being primary.

In the Noahic covenantal episode, we also witness the objectivity of God’s relationship with man: the world was judged in history for its sin. The rainbow, which signifies God’s covenant mercy, is established with Noah and all that are with him, and their seed (Gen. 9:12).[4] This indicates that the world will be protected from God’s curse through the instrumentality of the Church (the people of God). This covenant is only made indirectly with unbelievers, who benefit from God’s protection only as they are not opposed to God’s people. Because of God’s love for His people, He preserves the orderly universe (Gen. 8:20-22). His enemies serve His people: common grace (Gen. 9:10b).

Thus we see the objective corporate sanction of God against sin in the Flood, which also serves as a type of Final Judgment (2 Pet. 3:4-6). We also see God’s judicial sanctions in history in His ordaining of capital punishment (Gen. 9:6). God’s objective judgment therefore finds civil expression in the affairs of man. His grant of legitimate authority to the civil government to enforce capital punishment is based on a religious principle, namely, the image of God in man (Gen. 9:6), and is given to the world through the Church (i.e., Noah’s family).[5] God ordains civil sanctions as a means for preserving the human race for His redemptive purposes (cf. Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).

The Abrahamic Covenant

As the scarlet thread of redemption – a non-literal metaphor – is progressively woven more distinctively into the fabric of Scriptural revelation and history, the eschatological pattern of redemptive victory becomes more evident and more specific. The patriarchal and Mosaic eras demonstrate this fact. Here I will survey a few of the more significant references in these eras in order to illustrate this truth.

In Genesis, the Abrahamic Covenant continues the redemptive theme begun in Genesis 3:15 and traced through Genesis 6-9. The active redemptive restoration of the fundamental relationship of man with the God of the covenant is greatly intensified through God’s establishing of His gracious covenant with Abraham and his seed: “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you’ ” (Gen. 12:1-3a).

Here we may discern three aspects of the promise: the promise applies to (1) a seed,[6] (2) a land,[7] and (3) the nations.[8] The land and seed promises are given prominence in Genesis 15:5 and 18: “Then He brought [Abram] outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates’ ” (Gen. 15:18). This promise was covenantal, for it involved sanctions.

The divine promise clearly involved temporal blessings for Abraham, including a seed and a land. According to the emphatic declaration of the Scriptures, history witnesses the fulfillment of the national aspects of the temporal blessings of the seed[9] and the land[10] promises. “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude…. So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt” (1 Kgs. 4:20-21). “So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it…. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel” (Josh. 21:43, 45). “You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess” (Neh. 9:23).

The dispensationalist argues for a future fulfillment based on the promise that God will give Abraham the land “forever” (Gen. 13:15), as an “everlasting” possession (Gen. 17:8). This argument is not persuasive, however. In the first place, there is a common use of olam (“forever/everlasting”) where it is employed of long-term temporal situations.[11] Secondly, it is evident that God’s covenants and promises are conditioned upon ethical obedience, even when this is not specifically stated: no conditions – no covenant. “It is the conditional nature of all prophecy that makes the outcome contingent on the ethical decisions of men.”[12] For instance, Jonah was clearly told that Nineveh would be overthrown in forty days (Jon. 3:4), yet God “repented” of His determination (Jon. 3:10),[13]

The Abrahamic Covenant was conditioned on the ethical obligation to “keep the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:17-19).[14] This is why it was accompanied by circumcision. Israel’s forfeiture of the Land promised in the Abrahamic Covenant was clearly possible, as God’s Word makes abundantly clear.[15]

Consequently, we must understand the biblical view of the land. The land of Israel is “His holy Land” (Lev. 25:23; Psa. 78:54). It depended on His favor upon Israel (Hos. 9:3; Jer. 2:7) and His dwelling therein (Num. 35:34; Lev. 26), which continued as long as Israel was obedient to Him (Deut. 4:40; Isa. 1:19; Jer. 15:13-14; 17:1-4). When Israel is rejected by God, the promise of the Land is rejected by God: sanctions.

Furthermore, the Promised Land served as a type of the whole earth (which is the Lord’s, Psa. 24:1). It is, as it were, a tithe to the Lord of the entire earth. As such, it pictured the rest brought by Christ’s kingdom, which shall cover the earth (see Hebrews 3-4). “Hebrews 11:8-16 shows that although Abraham received the physical land of Canaan, he was looking forward to the eternal city and Kingdom of God. Canaan is a type of the new heavens and earth that began with the first advent of Christ, in seed form (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22-29).”[16] In Psalm 37:11, the psalmist speaks of God’s promise to His people: “But the meek shall inherit the land.” But Jesus takes this promise and extends it over the entire earth in Matthew 5:5! Abraham apparently understood the land promise as a down payment representing the inheriting of the world (Rom. 4:13). Paul expands the Land promises to extend across all the earth, when he draws them into the New Testament (Eph. 6:3). In several divine covenants, we can trace the expansion of these Land promises: Adam was given a garden (Gen. 2:8); Abraham’s seed was given a nation (Josh. 1); the New Covenant Church was given the world (Matt. 28:18-20),[17]

But the fundamental blessedness of the Abrahamic Covenant, like that of the Adamic Covenant before it, was essentially redemptive rather than political. The seed line was primarily designed to produce the Savior; the Land promise was typological of the Savior’s universal dominion. The Abrahamic Covenant involved a right relationship with God, as indicated in Genesis 17:7: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” That which is most important in the plan of God is the spiritual relation, rather than the relation of blood (John 8:44, cf. Matt. 12:47, 50). As Paul says, so it was even in the Old Testament era: “[H]e is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter” (Rom. 2:28-29).[18]

Now let us consider the postmillennial victory expectations inherent in the Abrahamic Covenant. The redemptive line is here narrowed from “the seed of the woman” to the family of Abraham. It will continue to narrow until it issues forth in the singular seed, Christ (Gal. 3:16; John 8:56; cf. Luke 3:23-38). Nevertheless, the redemptive promise ultimately would include “all the families of the earth.”[19] The Hebrew word for “families” here is mispachah, which includes nations.[20] Thus, the Abrahamic Covenant will include the nations beyond Israel. The ultimate purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant, in keeping with the Adamic Covenant earlier, is nothing less than world conversion (as we shall point out more particularly in our next section), rather than Jewish exaltation, as per dispensationalism.[21] This should be expected since the Lord is King of the whole earth[22] and desires the world to know Him.[23]

The New Testament clearly informs us of the spiritual implications of the seed, in terms of the blessings for the nations. Abraham has become “the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham…. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all”

(Rom. 4:12, 16). “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed…. If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:7-8, 29). Thus, as we shall see in our next section, the Old Testament kingdom prophecies anticipate the sharing of the covenantal glory with others universally.[24]

Due to redemption, the curse of Genesis 3 upon all men is countered by the Abrahamic covenant, in which begins the “nullifying of the curse.”[25] The expectation of victory is so strong that we may find casual references based on confident expectation. The seed is promised victory in accordance with the original protoevangelium. Abraham’s seed is to “possess the gates of the enemy” (cf. Gen. 22:17 with Matt. 16:18).[26] Genesis 49:8-10 promises that Judah shall maintain the scepter of rule until Shiloh [Christ] shall come and then to Him “shall be the obedience of the peoples.” We should notice the plural “peoples”; Shiloh’s winning of obedience is not among the Jews only (the people, singular). Here is the first express mention of a personal redeemer, and that redeemer is promised rule over all the peoples. Ezekiel and Paul both allude to this reference with confidence – Ezekiel in anticipation (Ezek. 21 :27), Paul in realization (Gal. 3:19).

Numbers 14:21 confirms the victorious expectation with a formulaic oath: “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” In Numbers 24:17-19, Balaam harkens back to Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis 49:10. He foresees an all-powerful, world-wide dominion for the Messiah: “A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also shall be a possession, while Israel performs valiantly. One from Jacob shall have dominion, and shall destroy the remnant from the city.” First Samuel 2:10 promises that “The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven

He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.” Thus may it be said from the New Testament perspective: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13).

Anticipation in the Messianic Psalms

In the prophetic era, we discover a rich development of the revelation of God’s plan of redemption, and with it the sure promise of a glorious victory for the redeemed. I offer here only a brief consideration of a few of the leading psalmic references.

Psalm 2

Particularly significant in this regard are the Messianic Psalms. In Psalm 2, Jehovah God laughs at the opposition of man to Him and to His Messiah.[27] Psalm 2:2 and Daniel 9:26 show that the term “messiah” (i.e., anointed one) was commonly understood to designate the great Deliverer and King.[28] Kings were “anointed” in the Old Testament.[29] “King” and “Messiah” are used interchangeably in certain places in Scripture (John 1:41, 49; Mark 15:32; Luke 23:2).[30]

According to Peter, the opposition of the “nations” to “the Lord and His Messiah” includes the Jews (Acts 4:25-28[31]) and occurred in the ministry of Christ, at His crucifixion. In Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5, Christ is seen as already having fulfilled Psalm 2:7, which occurred at the resurrection (Acts 13:33). Consequently, Psalm 2 can be neither an amillennial nor a premillennial proof-text. The scene of this resistance is on the earth (contra amillennialism) and in the past (contra premillennialism). The scene of God’s victory over rebels is also in history.

Rather than at the Second Advent,[32] this Psalm’s fulfillment is spoken of in Acts 13:33-34 as set in motion with the resurrection of Christ: “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ ” The exaltation of Christ (including His resurrection, ascension, and session) established Him as king (Rom. 1:4; Matt. 28:18). It was at Jerusalem, the location of Zion (Psa. 2:6), where Jesus was crucified (suffering the resistance and rage of the nations, Psa. 2:1-3) and resurrected (Psa. 2:7; Acts 13:33). It was there also that the gospel was first preached in the New Covenant era (Luke 24:49-52; Acts 1-2).

The Messiah is promised dominion over the “nations” (not just one nation, Israel) and “the ends of the earth” (not just one region, Palestine) as His permanent “possession” (Psa. 2:8). Though they would resist Him (Psa. 2:1-3), He would break them (Psa. 2:9) in His dominion. On the basis of this promise, the kings and judges of the earth are exhorted to worship and serve the Son (Psa. 2:10-12). It anticipates progressive fulfillment, in time and on earth.

Psalm 22

In Psalm 22, it is prophesied that “all the ends of the earth [extensive] will remember[33] and turn to the Lord, and all the families [intensive] of the nations will worship before Thee” (v. 27).[34] Interestingly, like Psalm 2, it opens with a reference to Christ’s suffering. In fact, Psalm 22:1-21 is universally recognized among evangelicals as prophesying the crucifixion. Verse 1 is uttered by Christ in His agony on the cross (Matt. 27:46); verse 18 is also fulfilled at the cross (John 19:2). But it immediately makes its way to His glorious dominion (vv. 22-31), as per the pattern applied to His crucifixion and resurrection in the New Testament: sufferings, then glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Pet. 1:11). After the suffering, His praise will be declared in the Church (Psa. 22:22; Heb. 2:12). That praise includes the fact that the Church (“great assembly,” Heb. 12:23) will proclaim His victory (Psa. 22:27ff). The reason He will save the earth is that the earth is His by right (Psa. 22:28); He created the material earth for His glory.

Alexander and Hengstenberg both note that there is an interesting collusion of Christ’s concluding words on the cross (“It is finished”) with the closing words of this Psalm which speaks of the cross and the glory to follow: “He has performed it.”[35] The performance of His work is redemptive, including the cross and the crown.

This obviously anticipates the fruition of the covenant of God given to Abraham and expanded in Moses and David. This cannot be understood amillennially as in heaven or in the New Earth, for it speaks of the earth as turning and remembering, i.e., conversions. It also speaks of death (v. 29) and later generations following their fathers (Psa. 22:30-31).

Psalm 72

Here the Messianic victory theme is tied to pre-consummative history, before the establishment of the eternal New Heavens and Earth. “Let them fear Thee while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, Like showers that water the earth. In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more, may he also rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (vv. 5-8).

Psalm 72 is a “glowing description of the reign of the Messiah, as righteous (vv. 1-7), universal (vv. 8-11), beneficent (vv. 12-14), perpetual (vv. 15-17).”[36] It speaks of the social (vv. 2-4, 12-14) and economic benefits of His reign (v. 16), as well as the spiritual benefits (vv. 5-7, 17). The imagery of pouring rain here reflects the spiritual presence of Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; John 14:16-18) being poured out upon the world from on high (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zech. 12:10; Acts 2:17-18). Christ is “in” us via the Holy Spirit, which is poured out upon us since Pentecost.

According to the Psalmist, kings of the various nations will rule in submission to Him (vv. 10-11). Because of His beneficent reign, there will be a population increase (v. 16b; Zech. 2:4). The flourishing of the righteous (v. 7) in the city (v. 16) indicates a rapid increase in population under His beneficence, as wars and pestilence cease. Population increase is associated with Messiah’s reign in prophecy (Psa. 110:3; Isa. 9:2; 49:20; Zech. 2:4). This is in harmony with the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:26ff) and covenantal blessing (Deut. 28:4; Lev. 26:9).[37]

Psalm 110

Psalm 110:1 is the Old Testament passage most frequently quoted and alluded to in the New Testament.[38] It has a great bearing on New Testament theology. Psalm 110:1-2 reads: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”

The Psalm is a purely prophetic Psalm, having no reference to David himself, as is obvious from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 22:42-45 and in that David was not a priest (v. 4). And it clearly anticipates Christ’s enemies being subjugated by Him. But He does this while sitting at the right hand of God (“sit until”[39]), not in arising, leaving heaven, and returning to the earth at the Second Advent. That this Psalm is now in force, expecting the ultimate victory of Christ is evident in both its numerous New Testament allusions and in that He is already the Melchizedekan priest, mentioned in verse 4 (cf. Heb. 7). This peculiar priest was one who was both king and priest, according to Genesis 14:18, as is Christ.

His strong rod will rule from Zion, which portrays the New Covenant-phase Church as headquartered at Jerusalem where the gospel was first preached. He rules through His rod, which is His Word (Isa. 2:3; 11:4). He leads His people onward into battle against the foe (v. 3). The allusion to kings in verse 5, following as it does the reference to Melchizedek in verse 4, probably reflects back on Abraham’s meeting with Melchizedek after his conquest of the four kings in Genesis 14. Because “kings” is in the emphatic position in Hebrew, it indicates Christ will not only rule the lowly, but also kings and nations through His redemptive power, as in Psalms 2 and 72. His rule shall be over governments, as well as individuals; it will be societal, as well as personal.

Anticipation in the Prophets

The prophets greatly expand the theme of victory under the Messiah. I will highlight several of the prophetic pronouncements regarding victory. Due to space limitations only three of these from Isaiah will be given a fuller treatment.[40]

Isaiah 2:1-4

In Isaiah 2, we learn that in the “last days,” there will be a universally attractive influence of the worship of God, an international dispersion and influence of Christianity, issuing forth in righteous living on the personal level and peace on the international level. This is because there will be judgment in history: “He shall judge between the nations, And shall rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” (v. 4a). Isaiah indicates the “last days” will be the era that witnesses these things – not some era after these last days. The “last days” begin with the coming of Christ.[41] Isaiah’s younger contemporary, Micah, repeats this prophecy almost verbatim (Micah 4:1-3).

Here the reference to ‘Judah and Jerusalem” stand for the people of God, as “Israel and Judah” do in Jeremiah 31:31, which is specifically applied to the Church in the New Testament.[42] The reference to the “mountain,” the “house of the God of Jacob,” and “Zion” refer to the Church, which, according to the express revelation of the New Testament, is the temple and house of God[43] and the earthly representation of the city of God (Heb. 12:22; 1 Pet. 2:6[44]) that is set on a hill (Matt. 5:14; Heb. 12:22).[45]  Again, we must remember that it was in Jerusalem where the historical redemption by Christ was wrought (Acts 10:39; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6)[46] and where Christianity began (Acts 1-2).

Isaiah’s statement that it will be “established” (hun) in “the top of the mountains” indicates Christ’s Church will be “permanently fixed, rendered permanently visible.”[47] After the introductory phrase “last days,” Isaiah places the word “established” first for emphasis. In the eschatological portrayals of Ezekiel and Zechariah, this house is gigantic (Ezek. 40:2); Jerusalem is seen towering over a plain (Zech. 14:10). Christianity, the last stage of God’s redemptive plan in history, will be so established as to be firmly fixed.[48] In Isaiah 2:2 and Micah 4:1, there is a niphal [sic] participle that “must be understood of an enduring condition, and the same is implied in the representation in vss. 3, 4 of Jehovah’s teaching function, of his judging between many nations and of the state of peace and security prevailing, every man sitting under his vine and fig-tree and to make none of them afraid (the last in Micah only).”[49]

It is to this eschatological phenomenon that “all nations shall flow” (Isa. 2:2-3), that will witness “the gathering of the people” (Gen. 49:10), and shall enjoy the flowing in of “many people and strong nations” (Zech. 8:20-23).

The nations shall flow there like a river to worship the Lord as a result of the desire wrought in conversion; they shall be discipled in His ways and learn the strictures of holiness from His Law (Isa. 2:3). The coming of the eschatological fulfillment of redemption (Gal. 4:4) leads to the permanent establishment of Christianity as an agency of gracious influence in the world to salvation and sanctification. Evangelism is indicated in the flowing river of people urging others to “come, go ye” to the house of God (Isa. 2:3). With the overwhelming numbers being converted to a saving knowledge of Christ and being discipled in God’s Law,[50] great social transformation naturally follows (Isa. 2:4). “It is a picture of universal peace that Isaiah gives, but it is a religiously founded peace.”[51] The peace with God (vv. 2-3) gives rise to peace among men (v. 4).

Amillennialist Hanko disposes of this postmillennial text as treated by Boettner with an incredible sweep of the hand: “Now it is true that Mount Zion has a symbolic and typical meaning in Scripture. It is also true that the reference is often to the Church of Jesus Christ – as Boettner remarks in connection with Hebrews 12:22. But one wonders at the tremendous jump which is made from the idea of Mount Zion as symbolic of the Church to the idea that ‘the Church, having attained a position so that it stands out like a mountain on a plain, will be prominent and regulative in all world affairs.’ There is not so much as a hint of this idea in the text. The conclusion is wholly unwarranted.”[52] Having granted that Mount Zion is “symbolic of the Church,” how can Hanko legitimately call the postmillennial argument a “tremendous jump” with “not so much as a hint” and “wholly unwarranted”? Hanko’s argument is merely a loud denial rooted in his pre-disposition to amillennialism. What we need here is careful exegesis, not loud assertions as a substitute for exegesis.

Isaiah 9:6-7

To understand Isaiah 9:1-7, we need to notice the close connection between the birth of “the son” (His redemptive humiliation, v. 6) and the devolving of universal government upon Him (at His exaltation at the resurrection/ascension). The promise is that this kingdom will grow, issuing forth in peace (v. 7). When Messiah is born into the world, He will be granted His kingdom. The preceding context points also to the first coming of Christ for the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy. The reference in verse 2 to the people in darkness, who see a great light, finds fulfillment in Christ. In fact, the great light is Christ (John 8:12; 12:46). According to Matthew 4:16 this began to be fulfilled in the ministry of Christ.

In verse 3, the Lord promises to multiply Israel. This is according to the Abrahamic Covenant promise of a great seed and influence among the nations. It is accomplished by the calling of the Gentiles as the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), which involves the ingrafting of them into the stock of Israel (Rom. 11:16-19), the merging of Jew and Gentile into one body (Eph. 2:11-17). The increase of Israel’s joy (verse 3) indicates the joy in the coming of the Savior (Luke 2:10; John 3:29[53]). As in Isaiah 2:3-4, the coming of Christ will result in the cessation of oppression and war (verses 4-5), which is here portrayed in the burning of the garments of soldiers, symbolizing they will no longer be needed,[54] just as the swords were cast off earlier (Isa. 2:4).

The reign of Christ over His kingdom, which was entered at His first coming,[55] will be “progressive and perpetual.”[56] In prophecy, Christ is referred to as the son or branch of David (Jer. 23:5; 33:13), or as David himself (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23, 23; 37:24; Hos. 3:5). At His resurrection, He was raised up to the throne of David (Acts 2:30-31), which represented the throne of the Lord (1 Chr. 28:5; 29:23). Again, His reign brings peace, for He is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). This peace grows incrementally through history: Christ “extends its boundaries far and wide, and then preserves and carries it forward in uninterrupted progression to eternity.,,[57] His righteous rule begins at the first coming of Christ (Luke 1:32-33).

Isaiah 11:9

Isaiah 11:1-10 speaks gloriously of the eschatological hope begun with Adam, flowing through Noah, and expanded with Abraham. The rod/branch from the stem/roots spoken of here continues the thought of the preceding context. The collapse of David’s house and of the Jewish government is set in contrast to the fall of Assyria (Isa. 10). The remaining, nearly extinct house of David, reduced to a stump, still has life and will bud with a branch. That branch is Christ: He restores the house of David in the New Testament,[58] hence the emphasis in the New Testament on his genealogy from David (Matt. 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38[59]).

This coming of Christ (His First Advent as a stem or branch), was with the fullness of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2)[60] and leads to judgment upon His adversaries (v. 4, particularly first-century Israel, Matt. 3:1-12; 24:2-34; Rev. 1-19). As in the other prophecies surveyed, there is the promise of righteousness and peace flowing after Him. Isaiah describes the peace between men as a removal of the enmity between wolf and lamb, bear and cow, lion and calf, leopard and kid, serpent and child.[61] Their warring nature is changed by the grace of God (cf. Eph. 2:1-4).

The future of the earth is seen as glorious: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).[62] This comes about gradually, beginning “in that day,” when the “root of Jesse” shall stand as a banner (signal, place of rendezvous[63]) to the Gentiles (v. 10) followed by the conversion of the Jews (v. 11). The calling of the Gentiles to Christ beginning in the first century is clear evidence of the fulfillment of verse 10 being underway to this very day (Rom. 15:4-12, see especially v. 12). The future conversion of the Jews will conclude the fulfillment (Rom. 11:12-25).[64] We learn later that even the arch-enemies of God and His people, Egypt and Assyria, will be healed and will on an equal footing worship with Israel (Isa. 19:22-24). The God of the Bible is the Healer of the nations.

Additional Prophecies

Jeremiah foresees the day when the ark of the covenant will no longer be remembered, but in which “all the nations will be gathered before” the “throne of the Lord” (Jer. 3:16-17). The New Covenant (initiated by Christ, Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25) will issue forth in worldwide salvation (Jer. 31:31-34). Natural enemies of God’s Old Testament people will be brought to blessing in the era of the last days: Moab (Jer. 48:47), Ammon (Jer. 49:6); Elam (Jer. 49:39).[65]

With Isaiah, Daniel sees the expansion of the kingdom to the point of worldwide dominion (Dan. 2:31-35,44-45; cf. Isa. 9:6-7). Christ’s kingdom shall crush the world kingdom, expressed in the Lord’s day in the Roman Empire.[66] The Messiah’s ascension and session will guarantee world dominion: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14). We must notice that Daniel 7:13-14 speaks of the Christ’s ascension to the Ancient of Days, not His return to the earth. It is from this ascension to the right hand of God[67] that there will flow forth universal dominion: days of prosperity, peace, and righteousness lie in the future.[68] Particularly in Isaiah and Ezekiel, “the catholicity of the Church’s worship is expressed by all nations flowing to Jerusalem, and going up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; whereas in Malachi, instead of them going to the temple, the temple is represented as coming to them…. [W]e must understand both representations as designed to announce just the catholicity and spirituality of the Gospel worship.”[69]

These and many other such references refer to the inter-advental age, not to the Eternal State (as per the amillennial view); for the following reasons.

First, numerous prophetic references speak of factors inappropriate to the eternal state, such as the overcoming of active opposition to the kingdom (e.g., Psa. 72:4, 9; Isa. 11:4, 13-15; Mic. 4:3), birth and aging (e.g., Psa. 22:30-31; Isa. 65:20; Zech. 8:3-5) the conversion of people (Psa. 72:27), death (e.g., Psa. 22:29; 72:14; Isa. 65:20), sin (e.g., Isa. 65:20; Zech. 14:17-19), suffering (e.g., Psa. 22:29; 72:2, 13, 17), and national distinctions and interaction (e.g., Psa. 72:10-11, 17; Isa. 2:2-4; Zech.


Second, though reduced to minority proportions, there will be the continuance of the curse, despite the dominance of victory (Isa. 65:25). Isaiah 19:18 may suggest a world ratio of five Christians to one non-Christian.[70]

Third, some prophetic language is indisputably applied to the First Advent of Christ. Isaiah 9:6 ties Christ’s Messianic rule in with His birth: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). In Daniel 2, He appears as the destroyer of the world empires in the days of the fourth kingdom, Rome (Dan. 2:35ff).

Fourth, some prophetic passages expect the present, pre-consummative order of things to continue into that glorious era, such as the continuance of the sun and the moon (Psa. 72:5,7,17).

Fifth, hermeneutically it would seem that prophetic figures should not be figures of figures. For instance, if the nations’ breaking their bows and spears is a figure of peace, would the prophetic breaking of bows and spears be a figure of peace (the

absence of carnal warfare), which would, in turn, be a figure of salvation (the absence of spiritual warfare with God)?


The Old Testament anticipates the coming, development, and victory in history of the Messianic kingdom. This hope is traceable from the earliest days of God’s covenantal dealings with man. The divine covenants of the Old Testament frame in the covenantal hope of dominion, while the prophets fill out that Messianic expectation. There is the sure expectation of the universal acquiescence of man to the rule of Messiah. This rule is founded in the spiritual realm, but is not limited to it. His rule will have objective effects in all areas of life – not just the soul, the family, and the local church. Christ’s redemption is as comprehensive as sin is, and more powerful. Christ’s bodily resurrection was more powerful than death. So are the objective effects of His resurrection in history.

It will be interesting if some amillennial expositor ever decides to go into print with a detailed discussion the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection and bodily ascension in relation to the amillennial view of Christianity’s defeat in history. Here is the question that the amillennialist must answer: How is it that Christ’s victory over death in history will not transform culture?

[1] Cf. the references to the birds, cattle, etc. (Gen. 6:20; 8:17 with Gen. 1:24, 25), the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 9:1, 7 with Gen. 1:28), and the dominion concept (d. Gen. 9:2 with Gen. 1:28).

[2] O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Covenants (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1980), p. 111. He refers to L. Dequeker, “Noah and Israel. The Everlasting Divine Covenant with Mankind,” Questions disputees d’Ancien Testament, Methode et Theologie (Gembloux, 1974), p. 119.

[3] James B. Jordan, “True Dominion,” Biblical Horizons, Special Edition (Dec. 1990), p. 1. Cf. Robertson, Christ of the Covenants, p. 111.

[4] It seems that the rainbow did not exist prior to this time. Apparently, the Flood was the first instance of rain (and the rainbow): Genesis 2:5-6.

[5] This does not mean that the institutional Church has the authority to execute criminals.

[6] Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 16:10; 17:2-6; 18:18; 22:17; cf. Gen. 20:4; 28:4, 14; 32:12.

[7] Gen. 12:2, 7; 13:15, 17; 15:7, 18; 24:7; cf. Gen. 28:4.

[8] Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; cf. Gen. 26:4; 28:14. See also the prophetic and New Testament era development of this universal theme.

[9] Exo. 12:37; Num. 22:11; Deut. 1:10; 10:22; 1 Kgs. 4:20; 1 Chr. 27:23; 2 Chr. 1:9; Heb. 11:12. Notice that Christ is the special seed, John 8:56.

[10] 1 Kgs. 4:21; 8:65-66; 2 Chr. 9:26.

[11] Exo. 12:14; 40:15; Num. 25:13; 2 Chr. 7:16. “Figuratively also the term is applied to objects of impressive stability and long duration, as mountains, hills (e.g. Gen 49:26; Hab. 3:6).” James Orr, “Everlasting,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. James Orr, ed., 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1929] 1956), 2:1041.

[12] Gary North, Millennialism and Social Theory (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), p. 120. B. B. Warfield, “The Prophcies of St. Paul” (1886), Biblical and Theological Studies (Philadelphia: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1952), pp. 470ff. Sidney Greidanus, The Modem Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), pp. 232ff.

[13] Cf. also 1 Sam. 2:30; Isa. 38:1-6; Jer. 26:13-19; Joel 2:13-14. See: Kenneth Jones, “An Amill Reply to Peters,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 24:4

(Dec. 1981) 333-341.

[14] Cf. Gen. 17:9-14; 22:18; 26:5; Heb. 11:8.

[15] Exo. 19:5; Deut. 28:15ff; 30:5-19; Lev. 26:14ff; Josh. 8:34; 24:20 1 Kgs. 2:3,4; 9:2-9; 11:11; 2 Kgs. 21:8; 1 Chr. 28:76; 2 Chr. 7:19-22; Jer. 18.

[16] W. Gary Crampton, “Canaan and the Kingdom of God – Conclusion,” Journey 6 (Jan./March 1991) 19.

[17] See my The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics. 1990). Part II.

[18] The internal and ethical are always back of the external and national, and hold priority. For instance, see the emphasis on the spiritual significance of the sacrifices: Psa. 40:6; 51:17; Isa. 1:10-18; 66:2-3; Jer. 6:19-20; Amos 5:21-24; Mic. 6:6-8; Mal. 1:10.

[19] Gen. 12:2-3; 13:14-16; 15:5; 16:10; 18:18; 22:17-18; 26:4; 28:14; 1 Kgs. 13:23.

[20] Psa. 22:27-28; Jer. 1:15; Ezek. 20:32; Amos 3:2; Zech. 14:18.

[21] According to dispensationalists, in the millennium, when the Abrahamic Covenant comes to fruition: “The redeemed living nation of Israel, regenerated and regathered to the land will be head over all the nations of the earth…. So he exalts them above the Gentile nations…. On the lowest level there are the saved, living, Gentile nations.” Herman Hoyt, “Dispensational Premillennialism,” The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, Robert G. Clouse, ed. (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), p. 81. On this Zionistic tendency in dispensationalism, see below: pp. 228-231.

[22] Psa. 22:28; 27:5; 47:2, 7, 8, 29; 66:7; 96:10a; 97:1; 99:1; 103:19; Dan. 4:17, 25, 32.

[23] 1 Kgs. 8:43,60; 2 Chr. 6:33; Psa. 83:18; Oba. 21.

[24] Isa. 25:6; 45:22; 51:4-6; Mic. 4:1ff.

[25] G. Charles Aalders, Genesis, trans. William Heynen, 2 vols., in The Bible Student’s Commentary (rand Rapids: Zondervan, [n.d.] 1981), 1:270. See also: Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University, 1983), p. 91.

[26] “Enmity” in Genesis 3:15 (‘ybah) is related to the verb (‘yb). In participial form it “occurs repeatedly, alluding frequently to the very struggle between God’s and Satan’s people.” Abraham possesses the gates of his enemies (Gen. 22:17). Judah overcomes his enemies (Gen. 49:8). God shatters His enemies (Exo. 15:6) and will be an enemy to Israel’s enemies (Exo. 23:22). The Canaanites are Israel’s enemies (Deut. 6:19). Robertson, Christ of the Covenants, p. 96n.

[27] For the theonomic implications of Psalm 2, see: Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Theonomic Position,” God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government, Gary Scott Smith, ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1989), pp. 28-30.

[28] J. A. Alexander, The Psalms Translated and Explained (Grand Rapids: Baker, [1873] 1977), p. 13.

[29] 1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13, 14; 2 Sam. 2:4, 7; 3:39; 5:3, 17; 12:7; 19:10; 1 Kgs. 1:39, 45; 5:1; 2 Kgs. 9:3, 6, 12; 11:12; 23:30; 1 Chr. 11:3; 14:8; 29:22; 2 Chr. 23:11; Psa. 18:50.

[30] See also the close association of kingdom and Christ in Acts 8:12; Eph. 5:5; 2 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 11:15.

[31] “According to Acts 4:25-28, vv. 1 and 2 have been fulfilled in the confederate hostility of Israel and the Gentiles against Jesus the holy servant of God and against His confessors.” Franz Delitszch, The Psalms, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [1867] 1973), 1:90. Israel’s priority in resisting Christ is indisputable. See: Matt. 22:33-46; 23:29-38; Luke 19:14; John 11:47; 19:14-15; Acts 5:17, 33; 1 Thess. 2:16.

[32] Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 178. Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985), p. 792.

[33] They “remember” because of their being created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and having an innate awareness of the Creator (Rom. 1:19-20).

[34] Cf. Psa. 66:4; 68:31-32; 82:8; 86:9. In the Old Testament, worshiping before God meant worshiping in Jerusalem. But in Messiah’s day it means worshiping anywhere: Matt. 18:20; John 4:21; Isa. 66:23; Mal. 1:11.

[35] Alexander, Psalms, p. 107; E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (McLean, VA: MacDonald, [1854] n.d.), 1:396.

[36] Alexander, Psalms, p. 301.

[37] See also: Gen. 9:1, 7; 17:6; 28:3; 35:11; 48:4; Psa. 128:3; Jer. 23:3.

[38] Quotations include: Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; Luke 20:42-43;

22:69; Acts 2:34-35; Heb. 1:13. Allusions may be found in: 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12, 13; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 3:21. For a detailed study of this psalm’s impact in both Jewish and Christian literature, see David M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity (Nashville: Abingdon, 1973).

[39] The Hebrew adverbial particle ‘d indicates duration. See: J. J. Stewart Perowne, The Book of Psalms, 2 vols. (Andover, MA: Warren F. Draper, 1894), 2:292-293.

[40] For fuller helpful exposition see: Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament; J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah.

[41] That is, in the times initiated by Christ at His First Advent, Acts 2:16, 17, 24; 1 Cor. 10:11; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 1:1,2; 9:26; Jms. 5:3; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18. For a discussion of “the last days,” see pp. 324-328, below.

[42] See my previous discussion: pp. 168-169.

[43] The Church is the “temple of God,” 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5. She is specifically designated “the house of God,” 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 2:6; 1 Pet. 4:17. See my discussion on pp. 349-360, below.

[44] The heavenly city of God comes to earth in the establishment of Christ’s kingdom and Church, Rev. 3:12; 21:2, 10, 14ff. See my brief discussion of Revelation 21-22 on pp. 418-420, below.

[45] See discussion of “The Holy Mountain”: David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1985), ch. 4.

[46] A well-known phenomenon in Luke’s gospel is his emphasis on Jerusalem, particularly Christ’s determination to go there for His crucifixion. It was eschatologically necessary for Him to die in Jerusalem, so that His redemption would flow from the “city of peace” to effect “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1; 15:33; 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 2 John 3): “Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). See also: Conzelmann’s discussion of Jerusalem in Luke’s eschatology. H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (New York: Harper & Row, 1957), pp. 132ff.

[47] J. A. Alexander, The Prophecies of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, [1875] 1977) 1:97.

[48] Matt. 7:24-27; 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 2:19; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 21:9ff

[49] Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, [1930] 1991), p. 7.

[50] See Gentry, Greatness of the Great Commission; North, Millennialism and Social Theory.

[51] E. J. Young. The Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1965), 1:107.

[52] Herman Hanko, “An Exegetical Refutation of Postmillennialism” (South Holland, IL: South Holland Protestant Reformed Church, 1978). p. 6.

[53] Christ brings joy to His people, John 15:11; 16:20ff. Where Christianity goes, joy follows, Acts 8:8; 13:52; 15:3; Rom. 14:17; 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:8; 1 John 1:4.

[54] Young, Isaiah, 1:328.

[55] For argumentation, see Chapter 11, below.

[56] Alexander, Prophecies of Isaiah, 1:205.

[57] Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [n.d.] 1948), 1:96. See later discussion of the principle of gradualism in Chapter 12, below.

[58] Matt. 1:17,18; Mark 11:10; Acts 2:34-36; 13:34; 15:16.

[59] See also: Luke 1:27, 32, 69; 2:4; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; Rom. 1:3; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16.

[60] Matt. 3:16-4:1; 12:17-21; Luke 4:14-21; John 3:34; Acts 10:38.

[61] It may be that this imagery speaks of an actual domestication of wild animals (Calvin, Hengstenberg, and North). See North, The Dominion Covenant: Genesis (2nd ed.; Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), p. 113. In light of the paucity of the evidence for such elsewhere (this imagery occurs in Isaiah 11 and 65:25), the preceding Isaianic prophecies of international peace among men, and the limitation of the subject to “in my holy mountain” (where men worship) would seem counter to such a view, however. Several of these dangerous creatures are compared to Satan and sinners elsewhere: wolves (Ezek. 22:27; Zeph. 3:3; Matt. 7:15; 10:16), bears (Prov. 28:15; Lam. 3:10; Dan. 7:5; Rev. 13:2), serpents (Psa. 140:3; 2 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9ff), leopards (Jer. 13:23; Dan. 7:6; Rev. 13:2), and lions (Jer. 12:8; Ezek. 22:25; Dan. 7:4; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 13:2). Three of them converge in the Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 image of wicked rulers, perhaps suggesting that Isaiah speaks of the pacification of rulers through conversion.

[62] The employment of the future tense in the first clause (“they shall not hurt or destroy”) and a preterit in the second clause (“the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord” suggests the initial fulfillment of the spread of righteousness through faith, followed by peace.

[63] Cf. John 11:52; 12:32.

[64] See later discussion in Chapter 15. See also: Alexander, Isaiah, 1:257ff.

[65] See also: Egypt and Assyria (Isa. 19:23-25); the Gentiles (Isa. 49:23); Edom (Amos 9:12); many nations (Zech. 2:11); the Philistines (Zech. 9:7).

[66] Although the imagery in Daniel 2 suggests on the surface a rapid destruction of the image, it is not uncommon for the occurrence to come about gradualistically in prophecy (see pp. 249-253, below, on the principle of gradualism in prophecy). “Thus the threatening against Babylon, contained in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Isaiah, if explained as a specific and exclusive prophecy of the Medo-Persian conquest, seems to represent the downfall of the city as more sudden and complete than it appears in history.” However, that prophecy should be “regarded as a panorama of the fall of Babylon, not in its first inception merely, but through all its stages till its consummation.” Alexander, Isaiah, 1:30.

[67] See later discussion of His present Kingship in Chapter 11, below.

[68] Psa. 22:27; 46:8-10; 47:3; 66:4; 67:4; 86:9; 67:2; 72:11, 17; 82:8; 86:9; 102:15; Isa. 2:2-3; 25:6-7; 40:5; 49:6, 22-23; 52:15; 55:5; 60:1-7,10-14; 61:11; 66:19-20; Jer. 3:17; 4:2; Dan. 7:14; Amos 9:11-15; Mic. 4:1-3; 5:2-4,16-17; 7:16-17; Hab. 2:14-20; Hag. 2:7ff; Zeph. 3:10; Zech. 2:11; 8:22-23; 9:9-10; 14:16; Mal. 1:11; 3:1-12.

[69] David Brown, Christ’s Second Coming: Will It Be Premillennial? (Edmonton, Alberta: Still Waters Revival Books, [1882] 1990), p. 347.

[70] Alexander, Isaiah, 1:357.