Author: Ron Graham
Premillennialism and the Cross
—Will the Law of Moses be reinstated?
In this Bible lesson, we look at how the doctrine of Premillennialism affects the doctrine of the crucifixion, especially its meaning and purpose.
We will lay aside all the details of Premillennialism, and deal with one fundamental, namely the cross of Christ. Paul said that he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Corinthians 2:2).
This core doctrine does not escape damage from Premillennialism. That's what I am about to show you. This is not an academic side issue unworthy of your attention, but a heresy that spoils the simple message of Christ’s sacrificial death. I refute Premillennialism not because I love arguments, but because I love the pure message of the cross.
1 What is Premillennialism?
The doctrine labelled Premillennialism gets that name from the belief that Christ’s second coming will precede a millennial (1000 year) reign on planet earth as King. This will be a much different world to the one we know at present.
One big difference, is that all the world will keep the law of Moses. In Jerusalem, where there is now a mosque, there will be a new temple, and animal sacrifices will once again be made there in Jerusalem. Jesus will be the High Priest as well as being the King.
2 How Does Premillennialism Spoil the Message of the Cross?
On one hand, Premillennialism says that Christ will reinstate the law of Moses and animal sacrifices. On the other hand the New Testament teaches that Christ’s death abolished, once and for all, the old law with its animal sacrifices.
Jesus took away these old laws and sacrifices, in order to establish a new order, in which the sacrifice of his body on the cross was made once and for all (Hebrews 10:5-10).
The Hebrew writer comments on Psalm 40:6-8.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said,
"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, I come to do Your will, O God.'”
Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:5-14)
The Hebrew writer says nothing about bringing the old law back into force, and making the world observe it again for a thousand years.
Paul teaches that Christ took the old law out of the way, nailing its ordinances to his cross (Colossians 2:14). He brought in a new and better covenant and the old one, having served its purpose, passed away (Hebrews 7:18-22)
Jesus died so that we will not be burdened with keeping the law of Moses and being condemned by it. That's the issue at stake when we consider the Premillennial doctrine.
3 What Did Jesus Accomplish By His Death?
When Jesus Christ died upon the cross, he laid down his life for all mankind. The animal sacrifices of the Patriarchal and Mosaical ages were effective only because they looked forward to the true sacrifice. Once the Son of God came and surrendered himself, all other sacrifices ceased to be efficacious.
When Christ died on the cross, that old covenant was no longer recognised by God. It had been growing old, and then it disappeared. God "nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14 again). Of course it was not literally nailed to the cross. Christ’s body was nailed to the cross, and the old covenant was "abolished in his flesh" (Ephesians 2:15). Figuratively speaking it was nailed with him to the cross.
Which is the better sacrifice? The animal sacrifices of old are inferior to the death of Christ on the cross —which the Lord’s Supper commemorates. There is no question that Christ’s death is the perfect sacrifice, once and for all. What is the purpose, therefore, in bringing back the slaughter and bloodshed of animals?
There's a fundamental idea in the New Testament particularly in the letter to the Hebrews. The idea is this: under the law of Moses, the tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifices, and festivals, were "shadows of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:16-17). What was foreshadowed by the things of Moses has all now been realised in the things of Christ. The real things have replaced the shadows.