Interpreting Prophecy Today Part 2: The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 139:554 (Apr 1982)
Article: Interpreting Prophecy Today Part 2: The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament
Author: John F. Walvoord


Interpreting Prophecy Today
Part 2:
The Kingdom of God in the Old Testament

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President and Professor of Systematic Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary]

The masterful chapter on “The Kingdom Concept in the Old Testament” by J. Dwight Pentecost in his work, Things to Come,1 sets forth in a comprehensive way the doctrine of the kingdom of God in the Old Testament. Unfortunately, in spite of the comprehensive presentation in this chapter, as well as numerous other books that set forth the doctrine of the kingdom in the Old Testament, amillenarians have repeatedly stated that the Bible nowhere teaches a future kingdom on earth.2 Rather than leave such statements unchallenged, it seems best to review briefly the specific contribution of the Old Testament to the premillennial interpretation of a future kingdom on earth.

The problem is by no means simplistic. Many varying definitions of the kingdom of God are given. As Pentecost states, “Through this maze of interpretations it is almost impossible to make one’s way.”3

Pentecost divides these confusing aspects of the kingdom of God into two categories, the eternal kingdom and the theocratic kingdom.4 As Pentecost and others have noted, the theme of the theocratic kingdom can be traced from the Garden of Eden through the period of human government initiated by Noah, the period of the patriarchs initiated by Abraham, the kingdom under the judges, the kingdom under the kings, and finally the kingdom under the prophets.5 Although interpretations of these aspects of the kingdom of God vary in differing systems of eschatology, the primary problem of interpretation is found in the

theocratic kingdom under the prophets. Usually it is conceded that the kingdom was in theocratic form in Israel under Saul, David, Solomon, and their successors. The question remains whether there is a future form of the kingdom that will also be theocratic, political, and on earth. This is the point of tension between premillennial and amillennial interpretation. Obviously for an amillenarian to say summarily that no verse in the Bible teaches a future earthly kingdom is a dogmatic statement that needs to be examined. The purpose of this discussion is to refer primarily to what the Scriptures actually state and then raise the question as to the proper interpretation of these passages.

The Prophecies of Isaiah

As a...

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