2.11. Dispensational, Premillennial, Pretribulational Exposition

The reader should know that this commentary is written from the perspective of a dispensational, premillennial, and pretribulational view of Scripture as we believe that this is what God’s Word teaches when rightly interpreted.

By way of background, let us state that we came to salvation and spent the first five years of our Christian walk in a church which endorsed preterism. The book table at the church featured books by authors such as David Chilton and embraced both Dominion Theology and Replacement Theology. During these five years, we learned many valuable things for which we will eternally be grateful. Yet the place of prophecy in the Word of God and the book of Revelation specifically were seldom, if ever taught. Having a better grasp of the issues and interpretive systems involved, we now understand that the book of Revelation was seen as having already passed its point of relevance. Having believed it was written primarily for first-century believers describing political events of their day, all fulfilled by the hyperbolic language thought to be found in the book, the book was relegated to serving as a devotional text for Christian living. While it is undeniable that one great purpose of the book of Revelation is to inspire the saints of all ages, especially those in times of intense persecution, this is not the only or even primary purpose of the book.

Even though raised in a preterist environment, as our understanding of the Word of God grew over time, it became clear that a plain reading of Scripture (we didn’t know about grammatical historical interpretation or hermeneutics) portrayed a very different picture than that what we had been taught. It has been our observation since that time that many who are trained to observe details and integrate the teachings of Scripture into a self-consistent whole wind up in the dispensational, premillennial camp.1 Not because we hold this a priori understanding, but because the Scriptures, when interpreted in a consistently literal way where figures of speech and symbols are duly recognized as such and handled in their normative fashion, evidence differences in the requirements which God prescribes to different groups at different times.2 For example, Scripture maintains a consistent distinction between the role of the nation Israel and the Church, 3 and sets forth Jesus as returning prior to the Millennium (Rev. Rev. 19:1+-Rev. 20:1+).

This may disappoint those who find the “straightjacket” of literal interpretation too constraining. Some favor the broad vistas of devotional creativity and alternative understandings which result from non-literal interpretation. But it is our opinion that the very breadth of such vistas is strong indication of their unsoundness for they evidence an “unknowability” which undermines the value of the book of Revelation itself. If the stated purpose of the Revelation is for God to “show His servants things which must shortly take place” (Rev. Rev. 1:1+), what value can there be in allegorical or devotional interpretation which misplaces the locus of understanding from the actual words of the text to the mind of the reader? How are His servants to know when the results of non-literal interpretation abound in variety of meaning? The variety of results evidenced by non-literal interpretation serve as strong evidence against its suitability for the purpose stated by God.4


Notes

1 Being trained as an electrical engineer, we soon found other engineers which reached similar conclusions. Men like Clarence Larkin, Henry Morris, and Robert Thomas.

2 One need only contrast the different instructions given by God pertaining to the eating of meat to see the essence of dispensationalism: Gen. Gen. 1:29; Gen. 9:3; Deu. Deu. 12:15; Isa. Isa. 11:7; Isa. 65:25; Rom. Rom. 14:2; 1Ti. 1Ti. 4:3.

3 “Of the twenty-seven uses in the Gospel of Luke and Acts, Jervell concludes: ‘In Luke’s writings Israel always refers to the Jewish people. At no time does it serve to characterize the church, i.e., it is never used as a technical term for the Christian gathering of Jews and Gentiles.’ ”—Robert L. Saucy, “Israel and the Church: A Case for Discontinuity,” in John S. Feinberg, ed., Continuity And Discontinuity (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 245.

4 Like a helium balloon in the wind, once the ‘tether’ of literal/normative interpretation is cut, the interpreter is ‘free’ to drift further and further afield from the intended understanding.