A few days ago, I received an email from Paul M. Kingery, PhD, MPH, in which he sent me a link to his web page inviting me to read his book, which is available free on his web site. I visited Mr. Kingery’s web site and read the first chapter of his book. Here are my comments.
The premise of his book is that God has made three covenants and is about to make a fourth. The four covenants were made with righteous men, with a physical nation, with Christians scattered in churches, and with gathered Christians in the kingdom.
These covenants were made in three separate dispensations. The first dispensation was from Adam to Abraham and lasted 2000 years. The second dispensation was from Abraham to Christ and lasted 2000 years and the third dispensation was from Christ to the present and lasted another 2000 years. The final dispensation, the dispensation of the kingdom, will last 1000 years.
According to Mr. Kingery, the seventh millennium is the dispensation of the kingdom. According to him, at his second coming, Christ will establish a “multi-racial kingdom in the land of Canaan.” He said: “The promised land, the land beyond Jordan, is reserved for the children of God from every nation. Jerusalem is the capitol [sic] of the coming kingdom of Christ, the footstool of his throne.”
Mr. Kingery sees the number seven in the Old and New Testaments to be related to the seventh millennium. He has an extensive list of the occurrences of the number seven in the Bible and relates each one of them to the actions of God in the seventh millennium (I wonder what he would do with 1 Samuel 2:5?).
The premise of Mr. Kingery’s book is very shaky; it is like a house built without a solid foundation (Luke 6:49). The chapter I read is mostly an allegorization and spiritualization of the biblical text. It is impossible for me to make a detailed criticism of what I read, but the comments below demonstrate the shaky premises the book.
1. The spiritualization of the Old Testament takes away the historical integrity of the text. One basic issue of interpretation is that the biblical text has a message for the people who lived in a very specific historical period. To say that Jacob’s bowing seven times before Esau means that “God’s people will endure seven millennia on earth with the people of the world who do not value Christ before the judgment” is to say much, much more than what is intended by the text.
2. To divide human history into three periods of 2000 years each is to reject the historical reality that the world is much older than 6000 years. As John Bright has demonstrated in his book, A History of Israel (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 2000), p. 24, the earliest settlement in Jericho can easily be dated to 8000 B.C.
The division of human history into periods goes back to Jewish Apocalyptic. Jewish tradition teaches that from Adam to Abraham there were 2000 years of chaos and anguish. Then, Abraham brings about 2000 years of Torah which is then followed with 2000 years of preparation for the coming of the Messiah, who will come to establish his kingdom for the Jewish people and for the nations of the world.
The early Christian church took a similar approach. The Epistle of Barnabas says: “In six thousand years the Lord will make an end of all things, for a day is with him as a thousand years. And he himself beareth witness unto me, saying: Behold this day a day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, my children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, shall all things be brought to an end” (Epistle of Barnabas 15:4).
Out of these words of Barnabas there has come the popular saying found in so many millenarian books: “As there had been 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, and 2,000 from Abraham to Christ, so there will be 2,000 years for the Christian era and then would come the Millennium.”
The classical exposition of the view that human history is 6000 years old was developed by Bishop James Ussher, whose chronology was placed on the top of the pages of many of the old editions of the King James Bible. Calculating the years back from the birth of Christ, Ussher concluded that the world was created on October 23, 4004 B. C. at 6:00 a.m.
3. Another fallacy with Mr. Kingery’s premise is that by his account, the millennium kingdom should have begun in 2000 (even though the seventh millennium begins in 2001), which means, that the beginning of the kingdom is six years late, or using Ussher’s chronology, which conforms better with the biblical text, the kingdom is almost ten years late already.
Ussher himself estimated that the second coming of Christ would occur exactly 6000 years after the creation of the world, that is, in the fall of 1996. His conclusion is based of the view that each day of creation represents a thousand years. This view is called the “millennial week.” Thus, according to Ussher, on the seventh millennial day, October 23, 1996, Jesus Christ would return to earth and life as we know today would cease.
Many people have established dates for the coming of Christ. Based on an incorrect interpretation of Daniel 9:24-25, a passage which I hope to study sometime in the future, and based on the dispensational teachings of C. I. Schofield, many people believed that, since the millennium would begin in 2000, the rapture would occur in 1993.
For instance, Benny Hinn, the famous TV evangelist, predicted that the rapture of believers would occur in 1993. A millenarian religious movement in the Ukraine predicted that the coming of Christ and the end of the world would happen on November 7, 1993.
Lee Jang Rim, a pastor in Korea, wrote a book in which he said God revealed to him that the rapture of the church would occur on October 27, 1993, which it did not. Many of his followers committed suicide in order to avoid the tribulations of the last days.
I waited until October 28 (just to be sure) and then wrote a letter to the Chicago branch of the Korean church, telling the pastor there that the reason the so-called rapture of the church did not occur was because his church’s interpretation of Daniel was incorrect. Many religious people, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seven-Day Adventists, have set dates for the coming of Christ, only to be proven wrong.
I know that Mr. Kingery means well, but his book, Land of Canaan, is based on a very shaky foundation. The Lord is coming but of the day and hour, of the month or year, “no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).
After reading the first chapter of the book, I realized there was no reason to read the rest of the book. You do not have to read the book either, but if you insist, then, go ahead and click here.
The writer of Ecclesiastes was right: “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 ESV). Or, as the New Living Translation puts it: “There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting.”
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary