Dean Davis - The High King of Heaven:
Discovering the Master Key to the Great End Time Debate
The subtitle indeed is a bold claim, saying that in this book we will discover “the master key” to the End Time debate. I believe we indeed do discover the master key to the End Time debate.
This book is nothing like the others that I’ve read on Amillennialism (Kingdom Come, The Bible and the Future, The Case for Amillennialism), it dares to go and try to interpret the difficult texts in support of premillennialism. It is anti-premillennial as well as, but in lesser tone against Postmillennialism. This is all done in a tone of brotherly love. I enjoyed that aspect of the interaction.
This book lays out the classic view of Amillennialism which is Dean Davis believes (as others also do) is the classic eschatology of Church History and the Reformation.
The word amillennialism means no millennium. However, amillennarians do not deny the existence of a millennium, only that it begins after the Parousia and that it will last for a literal thousand years. Instead, they teach that the thousand years of Revelation 20 symbolize the present Era of Proclamation, during which time Christ reigns with (the departed spirits of) his saints in heaven. Amillennarians are, then, “present-millennarians.” Pages 23-24
Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the Millennium of Revelation 20 started from the cross and will end at the Second Coming of our Lord, spanning over 2 millennia up till now and is thus to be interpreted symbolically, rather than literally. The Millennium is the Gospel Era, or as Dean likes to call it, the Era of Proclamation.
This is a simple chart laying out the Amillennial vision of Salvation History.
The Kingdom of God
One of the very ups of this book was the extensive study of the Kingdom of God in the New and Old Testaments. My understanding of the Kingdom of God was really expanded.
A Definition of the Kingdom of God
Dean Davis defines the Kingdom of God as:
In essence, the Kingdom of God is the direct reign of God the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, over his redeemed creatures; creatures who have been rescued from every spiritual and physical enemy, and restored to every spiritual and physical friend that God planned for them in the beginning. Also, the Kingdom is the blessed realm that this redemptive reign creates, and over which it forever rules. Page 65.
This he does not merely assume, but ably goes to prove it from the Bible, here is a summary of his five points:
- The Kingdom is the direct reign of God the Father (Mt 6:10)
- The Kingdom is a sphere of wholeness and blessing (Mt 9:35; 10:7-8; 12:28)
- The Kingdom is mediated by the Son of God (John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10)
- The Kingdom is effected by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28; Acts 1:4-8)
- The Kingdom is a realm beneath a reign (Mt 13:41-42; Rev 11:15)
Thereby is indeed the definition that he gives is justified and satisfactory.
The Two-Staged Kingdom
Amillennarians see the Kingdom of God coming in two stages, separated by the Parousia of our Lord:
- The Kingdom of the Son (already, the present Era of Proclamation)
- The Kingdom of the Father (not yet, the future World/Age to Come)
Now, the terminology used here is not meant to give the idea that the Son has no share in the second stage of the Kingdom or that the Father has no share in the first, but rather is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 where we learn that at the Coming of our Lord, the Lord Jesus will deliver His Kingdom, His consummated Kingdom to God the Father and will be subjected to Him. Thus, seeing a difference between the present Kingdom of the Son (which is to be delivered up to the Father) and the coming Kingdom of the Father (which is the eternal World to Come). This terminology is also supported by Matthew 13:41-43.
The two-staged Kingdom is seen from Jesus’ own contrast of this present age and the age to come. Here is a table I made for myself:
||The age to come
||…will not be forgiven, either in this age
||or in the age to come (compare Mk 3:28-30)
||…receive many times more in this time,
||and in the age to come eternal life. (Lk 18:30)
||…far above all rule and authority…not only in this age
||But also in the one to come
||The sons of this age marry…
||but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection… neither marry… they cannot die anymore… equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection
||Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
||…although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.
||…god of this world (age) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers…
||who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age…
|1Tim 6:17, 19
||As for the rich in this present age…
||treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future…
||training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age
Not forgetting that Jesus already affirmed that the Kingdom came with Him, in the present age (Lk 17:21; Mk 1:15; Mt 12:28).
But this fact can also be seen from surveying some of Jesus’ parables and simple Didactic (Gospels and Epistles) teaching about the Kingdom, rather than going to Revelation or Old Testament Prophecy which are obscure. Here Amillennialism makes good use of the Reformed Analogy of Faith interpretation which is thus defined in my confession:
The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly. 1689, 1:9
The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Mt 13:24-30, 36-48)
This is one of the many NT texts which illustrate the two-staged Kingdom of God.
First we are given the parable itself in Matthew 13:24-30, then we are also given the true interpretation of the parable in Matthew 13:36-48.
In this parable we learn of the side by side existence and out growing of two kingdoms: The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan. Here we learn that both kingdoms will grow, but there will be a gathering and a burning of the weeds at the time of the harvest. In Matthew 13:49-40 we are told that the harvest is the end of the age, the end of the present age. Herein is the Second Coming of our Lord strongly implied. This was a stage of the kingdom wherein it is spiritual and existing side by side with the Kingdom of the Evil One.
In our Lord Jesus’ explanation of the parable we get more insight of the Consummation. There we are told that when our Lord comes again, all sinners will be taken out of the world (“causes of sin”) and thrown into hell, but the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
This second stage of the Kingdom is called the Kingdom of the Father, but unlike the first stage of the Kingdom, it is without any trace of evil. This is the World to Come, this is the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Here I think we see clearly two stages of the Kingdom, the first wherein it is spiritual and side by side existing with the Kingdom of the Evil One, then second stage wherein all evil is removed and the cosmos is transformed.
The New Covenant Hermeneutic
This indeed is the Master Key. Here is the best portion of the book, this goes deep into the proper interpretation of Old Testament prophecies. This also builds upon the foundation laid previously of the two staged Kingdom and its people, the Israel of God and not Israel after the flesh. The people of the New Covenant, both Jew and Gentile believers in Christ.
The NCH is concerned chiefly with the interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom prophecies. These are prophecies like Ezekiel 36-37 and Jeremiah 31-33 where Israel is promised eschatological restoration. These are not simple kingdom prophecies or prophecies about the Messiah which did indeed come to pass very literally.
Part 3 of the book is dedicated to the interpretation of OTKP in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah using the New Covenant Hermeneutic.
Dean introduces us to 7 important principles for properly interpreting the Old Testament (Kingdom Prophecy).
- Regular OT narrative is to be taken literally. When the Bible speaks of Adam, Abraham, Noah and the Flood, these are literal, true and historical things.
- The OT is ...