New Millennial Ideas That Have Shaped America
May 29, 2008
When America was first established in the late 1700's, there were many Christian preachers who taught that this nation was the fifth kingdom of Daniel--that is, the Stone Kingdom. They said that this nation was beginning to strike the old-world nations upon its feet and to destroy the religious and political oppression associated with Europe's past history. Jesus Christ was considered to be the King in America, and the motto was often stated: "No King But Jesus."
In other words, America was modeled somewhat after the 13 tribes of Israel under Joshua and during the time of the Judges. Israel at that time had no king, other than God Himself, and the princes of the tribes were accountable to God and His law. America's new 13 States largely fulfilled that same pattern, and each State's Constitution included some statement about being under God. The Federal government was prohibited from passing any laws that would restrict the religious freedom of each state, because each state was dominated by a different Christian denomination.
Along with this came a fairly new stream of millennial thought. In the earliest days of the Church, when the Hebrew Christians were dominant, the idea of a great Sabbath millennium ("day") prevailed. But as the Hebrew Christians were absorbed by Greek culture, things began to change. The law began to be forgotten, and the feast of Tabernacles soon became the unknown feast. The Church came to think of Pentecost as the feast which could and would empower it to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
They did not seem to understand that King Saul was the type of the Church under Pentecost. They seemed to forget that most of the original apostles were Galileans--that is, of the tribe of Benjamin--even as King Saul was a Benjamite. So they ascribed to Pentecost all the elements needed to establish the Kingdom of God, and soon began to think of Pentecost as sufficient to establish David's Kingdom.
Thus, the millennial ideas were lost. In the fifth century, Augustine institutionalized the idea of an allegorical millennium that began with the resurrection of Christ, and that Satan had been "bound" already. The Church was the fulfillment of the only Kingdom of God that was to come. This idea dominated the Church for a thousand years, even through the most decadent days of the Church in "the Golden Age of Pornocracy," as the historians call the tenth century.
Likewise, the lack of peace, as prophesied in Isaiah 2:4 did not seem to matter, because Augustine had already settled this doctrine in their minds.
But with the Protestant Reformation and the printing press came new biblical studies and new ideas. In the late 1500's some scholars began to believe that perhaps there would be a millennium after all, and that it did not begin with Christ's resurrection. Perhaps the (Roman) Church was not really the Kingdom of God. I have never read any evidence that these scholars caught the significance of King Saul as a type of the Church under Pentecost, but yet they saw the deficiencies of the Roman Church and could not reconcile it as the Kingdom of God.
The Utopian ideas of the day made them explore the possibility that perhaps the millennium was to be an earthly utopia, an age at the end of history. Perhaps Christ Himself was not coming personally, but would rule through His principles and laws that would triumph over the oppressive political and religious laws of Europe.
If this were to happen, then God must work through people and through nations. The next logical development was to ask which people or which nation was "chosen" to take the lead in bringing utopian peace and prosperity to the world. Whereas Augustine had established the idea that the Church had replaced Israel as the "chosen people" to fight God's battles, these new scholars saw the Church as being part of the problem and certainly not "chosen." If they had been chosen at one time, they had certainly failed to establish righteousness, peace, and prosperity. Instead, the Church had become just another very human political power center that was every much as decadent as the monarchies of Europe.
There were really two streams of thought competing for men's minds. The mystery religions of the secret societies focused upon attainment of individual immortality, searching for the "philosopher's stone" and the means by which to transmute base metals into gold. This they saw as the key to understanding how mortal humans could be turned into immortal superhumans. These groups felt that God was unjust in withholding immortality from them, and so they sought to discover the secret apart from God.
The other stream of thought, the Christian view, focused upon the redemption of the world, presenting Christianity as the only way to bring about a new heaven and a new earth. The Roman Church, of course, claimed to be the one chosen to do so. They were partially correct, in that King Saul too carried that divine mandate in an earlier time. But this mandate did not ensure success. In fact, it ensured failure, because King Saul had already established the prophetic pattern of failure under Pentecost. It would require a greater feast and more than a mere earnest of the Spirit to redeem the world.
This idea of world redemption carried with it the idea that God would defeat evil in the world, and that this would happen by force of arms wielded by God's "chosen" ones. They saw how Protestant princes in Europe had preserved Protestantism and had defended it by force of arms against the armies loyal to the Papacy or to Papal monarchies. So they did not seem to recognize that such victories in the past had never brought permanent peace and righteousness, and that evil can never be defeated unless the hearts of men are changed through New Covenant methods.
Unfortunately, the physical sword was seen as the only practical weapon by which the arm of flesh could establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Inevitably, it involved killing God's "enemies" who might get in the way of the divine plan as perceived by these carnal minds. This provided ample salve upon the conscience of those fighting the Indian wars. It also justified the governmental policy of breaking any treaty that stood in the way of Manifest Destiny.
A third stream of thought developed during and after the French Revolution, producing two brands of Socialism, one national and one international. These were based essentially upon atheism and produced both Darwinism and Marxism.
To this was added a fourth stream of thought, which proclaimed Jewish Zionism to be the "chosen" path toward the millennial peace and righteousness that was to come. Like all the others, this too was based upon force of arms and involved actual conquest of territory and subsequent oppression in the name of the Kingdom of God. Palestinians stand in the way of this brand of Manifest Destiny, and so Christian Zionists justify both murder and theft in the name of God's Kingdom.
None of them seem to know anything of the feast of Tabernacles, nor even of Pentecost as something other than an apostolic privilege. It is no wonder, then, that their methods of attaining this utopian ideal often came at the point of a sword. It is really no different from our current president's vision of extending "freedom" to the rest of the world by force. One can perhaps understand a politician's lack of biblical understanding, but it is downright appalling that Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians would form the bulk of his support in his mission. They do not seem to understand that force can only restrict freedoms, and this is quite apparent in the fact that America's freedoms have eroded at the fastest pace in history since the president has begun this new policy.
Dr. Stephen Jones