A Book Review of:
Series: The Lectio Continua,
Expository Commentary of the New Testament,
2016 by Joel R Beeke
(Series Editors: Jon D. Payne & Joel R. Beeke)
Reformation Heritage Books
This book review has been undertaken by one of the editors of B.A.N.A.S.H. The decision to read this book was taken in an effort to obtain a greater knowledge of alternative prophetic interpretations. The editor does not regard herself adequately qualified academically or theologically to embark on such a task and therefore, has been entirely cast upon the Lord to assist her in undertaking this review. Approximately 7 years ago the editor listened to a sermon by Rev Ivan Foster based on the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13); Mr Foster convincingly demonstrated that Chapter 25 was a continuation of Matthew 24 and the parable predicted the slumbering state of Christendom immediately prior to the Lord Jesus Christ’s 2nd Advent. As a consequence of hearing this message the editor was challenged in her heart to undertake an in-depth Scriptural study of end time prophecy, something which she had previously avoided because she had found it all too confusing; any books previously read on the subject had only contributed to this confusion and so the subject remained a mystery to her until the Lord graciously began to remove the veil; this happened over an extended period of time in a fashion that conforms to Scriptural learning principles: “…….precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” Isaiah 28:10. God continues to give her understanding on end time prophecy principally through the Scriptures but also through the excellent the literature available from the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony (SGAT).
This review will be undertaken a little differently than most book reviews as it will predominantly focus on what Dr Beeke has said within the introduction of his commentary on Revelation. By stating at the commencement of this commentary that he is “an optimistic amillienialist in eschatology, my approach in preaching has not been to find some literal or historical meaning in every detail of every verse,” Dr Beeke is freely admitting to the fact that his preconceived notions regarding prophecy are facilitating his interpretation of Revelation; this is known as eisegesis as opposed to exegesis, where the interpreter is led to his conclusions by undertaking a careful, objective analysis of the text. This starting point is vitally important as it will predetermine the outcome of Dr Beeke’s overall interpretation of Revelation; adoption of a flawed approach or method of interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures will invariably result in a false interpretation.
The times in which we currently live can be Scripturally referenced as the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ and its commencement was distinctively marked by the captivity of the Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, when many of the Jews were taken to Babylon; prior to this captivity the Shekinah glory withdrew from the Temple at Jerusalem; the trampling underfoot of Jerusalem by the Gentiles has continued as predicted right up until this present day and will continue until the 2nd Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. An overview of the latter days of the Times of the Gentiles was revealed to Daniel during his captivity in Babylon. However, since this revelation had no immediate significance for Daniel, he was instructed to, “shut up the words, and seal the book, even unto the end:” Daniel 12:4. This same verse reveals that at the time of the end, "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased,” indicating that as the end of the Times of the Gentiles approaches, there will a searching of the prophetic Scriptures that will result in an increased knowledge of those events that must come to pass during the years between Christ’s 1st advent and particularly the time immediately prior to His 2nd coming; fulfilment of this prophecy began to unfold during Christ’s earthly ministry when He took the time to answer His disciples enquires regarding the things that must come to pass in Matthew 24 and in other passages of New Testament Scripture.
Christ’s prophetic teachings, including His special Revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos, combined with the multitude of end time prophesies within the Old Testament Scriptures, provided the New Testament Church with unambiguous teaching regarding the latter days; the majority of the early Church Fathers had a very clear understanding of these truths, (e.g. Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius). However, in the 2nd Century AD, principally through the teachings of Clement and Origen, both of Alexandria, a departure from the literal translation of the Scriptures began to take place; as a consequence, some began to embrace an allegorical interpretation of Scripture, particularly in respect of prophetic truth; this can be directly attributed to Clement and Origen’s extremely dangerous practice of incorporating human philosophies (i.e. pagan Greek philosophies) alongside Biblical truth; these two men were intelligent and highly academic, attributes that placed them at risk of reverting to human ingenuity as an assistant to their interpretation of the Scriptures. This unscriptural practice negated their sole dependency upon the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth and to unfold the meaning of the prophetic Scriptures! (John 16:13). Later other men such as Caius, Dionysius the Great, Eusebiu, Jerome and Augustine also embraced the error of an allegorical interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures.
During the ‘Dark Ages’, Romanism contributed to a further perversion of prophetic truths, particularly in relation to the Jewish nation; this was mainly attributable to Rome’s unjustifiable and satanic hatred of God’s ancient Covenant people. Sadly some of these perverse teachings were carried over into the Reformation by otherwise great men of God; to this day many professedly ‘reformed’ denominations have imbibed these false teachings, principally manifested through the teachings of “Replacement Theology”.
Sadly, this commentary by Dr Beeke has repeated an error similar to that made by a just a few of the Early Church Fathers with its rejection of a literal interpretation of Revelation in favour of an allegorical method; his assertion that the New Testament Church has replaced Israel as God’s Covenant people, with all of the promises made to Israel having now passed over to the New Testament Church, signals an embracing of a most erroneous error that originated with Origen and has been perpetuated by Roman Catholicism. The very thought that God would ever break His Covenant with Abraham and other Old Testament Patriarchs regarding the Jews and the land of Israel is tantamount to blasphemy; it is something that the Lord cannot and will never do; even though God has permitted Israel to be blind in part until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, He has not forsaken and His immutability will NEVER permit Him to forsake His Covenant with the nation of Israel: Addressing Gentile Christians in Rome, Paul made clear that God’s Covenant mercy towards Israel was unchangeable when he said, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:25-29.
Within his introduction to his commentary on the Book of Revelation, Dr Beeke highlights the following peculiar necessities that he regards as compulsory when interpreting the Book of Revelation:
• The necessity “to approach the language of the Book of Revelation as a new language that must be mastered.” - The mind boggles as to how someone acquires this new linguistic wizardry to enable them to interpret Revelation!
• The necessity to treat Revelation differently from other Books of the Bible – by making this statement Dr Beeke appears to be implying that Revelation is more or possibly less valid than any other Book of the Bible!
• The necessity to be ‘technical’ when interpreting a Book like Revelation.
All of these statements are strange because God’s Word makes it clear that, “…the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1st Corinthians 2:14.
Whilst technical methods and tools can be usefully employed to assist study of the prophetic Scriptures, they must always be used cautiously and secondary to the help of the Holy Spirit, who alone has been appointed to reveal the things to come unto the Lord’s people through the Holy Scriptures. Human intellect should not be despised, but apart from the assistance of the Holy Spirit, it becomes a dangerous ability that is capable of great deception.
God’s people are instructed to study His Word and to rightly divide the Word; Biblical Hermeneutics can help us to do this, especially when studying Revelation and other prophetic Scriptures. There are many different hermeneutic models but a good one will contain the 3 following elements:
1: The Scriptures should always be taken literally as far as it is possible to do so:
It is often quoted that “God says what He means and means what He says” (source unknown) and this is quite true. Of course many verses, chapters or books within the Bible are allegorical, symbolic or figurative but there is always a literal truth to be uncovered. An Old Testament example of this is found in Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the great image was obviously symbolic but it accurately portrays literal truth by depicting the four governmental/political powers that would exist within the prophetic world during the ‘Times of the Gentiles’:
Ultimately this image, representative of the major Gentile powers, will be utterly destroyed by the ‘Smiting Stone’, which is obviously figurative of Christ upon His 2nd Advent, when He will return to crush all human power and set up His literal earthly reign, an eternal autocracy that no human or satanic power will ever usurp! (Source of above information gleaned from a booklet produced by SGAT).
The head of gold is representative of the Babylonian Empire (an autocracy).
The breast and arms of silver represents the Medo-Persian Empire (an aristocratic monarchy).
The belly and thighs of brass represents the Grecian Empire (a military oligarchy).
The legs of iron represent the Roman Empire (a democracy), which split into two regions and over time degenerates into the ten toes of clay and iron; the toes are representative of the final federation of 10 kingdoms/regions under the rule of Antichrist, a non-cohesive democracy that is greatly weakened by miry clay, an extremely accurate analogy of what appears to be developing under the auspices of the ‘democratic’ European Union.
Numerous symbolic descriptions are contained within Revelation. For example:
• The Lord Jesus Christ is depicted as a Lamb approximately 30 times but He quite obviously is not a mammal; however, the gentleness, meekness, and innocence of a lamb is an illustrative, albeit imperfect type, of the Saviour’s sinless nature and perfect character; The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is symbolic of the fulfilment of the Old Testament sacrifices, that pointed the offeror to the Messiah’s once for all substitutionary atonement on behalf of His people.
• Paradoxically, the Lord is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah alongside the Lamb to illustrate His majesty and conquering kingship, which will be fully manifested on a universal scale when Christ returns to this earth.
• The beast in Revelation is not depicting a human monstrosity made up of several animal species but this allegory very aptly illustrates the moral behaviour and characteristics of Antichrist and his confederacy of nations, who will be terrible as the wild beasts used to depict the moral and political behaviour of the Gentile empires outlined in Daniel chapter 7.
Whilst a proper interpretation of the allegories within Revelation are important to ensure an accurate uncovering of the literal truths portrayed, acceptance of the plainest meaning of the Word as far as possible is imperative when seeking to understand Revelation. This rule is not applied within this particular commentary and Dr Beeke demonstrates his contempt for the plain meaning of Scripture within the introduction when he describes the sea of glass, the lake of fire, stars falling to earth, a bottomless pit etc as “the stuff of myths and legends.”
2: Scripture should be interpreted using Scripture:
This rule is particularly important when interpreting Revelation and it should be borne in mind that whilst there may be many applications, there is only ever one correct interpretation of Scripture! To assist in the interpretation of Revelation, there are an abundance of parallel passages from which to draw comparisons throughout the Scriptures with hundreds traceable to the Old Testament alone! Dr Beeke acknowledges this fact but then proceeds to use these Old Testament references to bolster up his rigidly held opinions on Revelation and therefore, he is unable to reach a meaningful interpretation; this is what happens when earthly wisdom and intellect takes precedence over the Wisdom that is from above; a scholarly piece of work may be produced but this will be at the expense of plain Scriptural truth.
If the methods of interpretation employed by Dr Beeke were valid, they would put Revelation beyond the grasp of anyone other than those with advanced linguistic, academic and theological capabilities, which is but the embodiment of popery and paganism’s teaching that a ‘priestly class’ is required to teach inferior Christians; on the contrary, the Lord chooses the foolish and weak things to confound the wise and the mighty: "Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel." Amos 7:14-15.
Of course the Lord did not intend Revelation to be a mysterious Book accessible and understandable only to those with advanced academic and theological expertise; God’s immutable Word is never to be superseded by man’s ideas and philosophies, no matter how authentically those ideas appear to be presented. Therefore, it is vitally important for Believers to interpret what any author is saying exclusively by the Bible and never to use what an author says to interpret the Bible, regardless of their academic/theological credentials! God never intended the Scriptures, prophetic or otherwise, to be of any private interpretation; the Protestant Reformation had three important mainstays that assisted the success of this remarkable spiritual awakening in the 16th Century:
1) The supremacy and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures,
2) The right of private interpretation/judgement,
3) Justification by faith alone apart from human merit/works of any kind.
JC Ryle quite rightly said, “give up any one of these and your cause is lost.” The Lord will always provide the correct interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures to those Believers who approach Him humbly confessing their own inability and seeking His help to open their understanding. “A humble and prayerful person will find a thousand things in the Bible that the proud student will utterly fail to discern.” JC Ryle.
3: Scripture should be interpreted giving due consideration to its contextual, historical, and grammatical content:
Within the introduction of this commentary, Dr Beeke states that the contextual and historical content within Revelation, (apart from Chapters 21 to 22) indicate that its prophecies have already been fulfilled. In an attempt to prove that Christ will not reign over a literal earthly kingdom, Dr Beeke claims that Christ’s kingdom was inaugurated with the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the church on the day of Pentecost and will spread to the ends of the earth. Joel 2:28 is undisputedly the parallel passage for Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18 but verses 19-20 of this same chapter predict great signs and wonders that will occur in the heavens and the earth prior to the Saviour’s return; after these phenomenal events, which evidently were not fulfilled at the time of Pentecost, and there will be an even greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring about a national repentance by the Jews, when they will look upon Him whom they have pierced and at last recognise the Lord Jesus Christ on His return as their Messiah! Grammatical Content: Dr Beeke is undoubtedly an astute scholar of the Greek and Hebrew languages and has the benefit of being able to give due consideration to the grammatical content within the Greek text of Revelation. Whilst this is an advantage, no amount of Greek or Hebrew grammatical ‘know how’ can guarantee a correct interpretation of Scripture; language skills should never usurp the assistance and authority of the Holy Spirit when attempting to understand a word, verse or passage of Scripture in all of its fullness!
Within his introduction Dr Beeke briefly summarises the preterist, historicist, futurist, idealist and eclectic methods of interpretation and chooses to identify with the ‘eclectic’ method, which conveniently permits him to dip in and out of several methods; unsurprisingly, he gives no credence whatsoever to the futurist method which interprets Revelation as an uncovering (apocalypse) of events since New Testament times, especially the last seven years immediately prior to Christ’s return; he quite rightly points out that the futurist method of interpretation has lost ground in recent decades; this is to be expected as the falling away, predicted by Christ prior to His return, deepens. Contrariwise, it is not surprising that false perspectives on prophecy like amillennialism are flourishing in an age of apostasy and are being used by Satan to prevent God’s people from gaining an understanding of the times; this has undoubtedly helped to produce the widespread lethargy and carnality that is very prevalent within the church today. A similar situation prevailed prior to Christ’s incarnation as apparently only a few of God’s Old Testament saints were watching and waiting for this great event despite the explicit prophesies regarding the timing and nature of Christ’s 1st Advent; the Scriptures only reveal the watchfulness and expectation of Simeon and Anna, although undoubtedly others were aware of the approach of the Messiah’s birth, including the wise men from the east. If God was so clear when giving details regarding Christ’s first coming, why would He be any less clear when revealing details of things regarding the second coming of Christ? It was abundantly clear that Christ was to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea and that he would be a Nazarene who would live a perfect life and die an atoning death on behalf His people. Would any Christian deny the authenticity and accuracy of the many Old Testament prophesies concerning these facts? Yet multitudes of professing Christians spend their time trying to explain away the plain meaning of the prophetic Scriptures regarding the 2nd Advent of Christ, which are very explicit and more numerous than those prophesying His incarnation! Why do some Believers find it difficult to believe that prior to Christ’s return a man known as the Antichrist will arise, who has been foreshadowed multiple times in the lives of men within the Scriptures and in recent history?; it is perfectly within the realms of possibility that this man will set up his political and financial centre of power in Babylon (Iraq) and establish his false system of ecumenical religious worship in Jerusalem? Why do many Christians refuse to believe and accept the plain teaching of the Bible regarding the things that must come on Christ’s return? For example, Christ’s triumphant return to the Mount of Olives; His destruction of Antichrist along with his confederates in the Valley of Jehoshaphat; the national repentance and salvation of those Jews who have providentially survived the ravages of Antichrist; the setting up of Christ’s throne in the literal City of David (Zion); the building of a temple at Jerusalem, intricately planned within the latter chapters of Ezekiel; Christ’s literal reign on earth for 1,000 years? Are any of these things beyond the realms of possibility when we have a God with whom nothing is impossible?
Dr Beeke mistakenly presumes that all Christians who hold a futurist and pre-millennial viewpoint are dispensationalists. This is a common misconception among many who profess allegiance to ‘reformed’ teachings and it is often used disparagingly to undermine those who differ from them in the interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures. Premillennialism agrees perfectly with God’s dealings with man on the basis of the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace and does not conflict with reformed teaching.
Within the introduction of this commentary, Acts 1:7 is misused to rebuke those who study Revelation in order to gain knowledge regarding the things that must come to pass prior to Christ’s 2nd Advent! “And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” This verse is addressed directly to the Apostles in response to their enquiry in verse 6 about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, an enquiry which Christ did not repudiate but He merely informed them that they had no need to concern themselves about the signs of the times immediately prior to His return as the majority of them would be martyred within a few short years.
Most shockingly, Dr Beeke accuses those who study Revelation with the aim of understanding the times prior to the Saviour’s return, of “bibliomancy, or using the Bible as a literary divining rod or Ouiji board." Dr Beeke issues a warning that we are not to interpret Revelation "speculatively or superstitiously" but, “we must understand the Book in terms of our Lord Jesus Christ, because it is a Revelation of Him.” Christ is most definitely central to the Book of Revelation, as He is throughout the entire Canon of Scripture; how it delights the Believer to see Christ revealed within His Word; however, as Revelation chapter 1:1 & 19 clearly states, Christ is revealing "things which shall be hereafter" unto His servants (not just a select few of elite academics) things that He wishes us to know, otherwise He would not have permitted these things to be recorded and preserved for us to read. Interestingly, Dr Beeke fails to quote within his introduction any of the Scriptural verses and passages that provide direct commands from the Lord Jesus to watch for his appearing; nor does he quote any verses that provide the explicit signs the Lord has given us to watch out for; In Matthew 24:3 the Lord’s disciples asked Him a trio of distinct questions:
1. “When shall these things be?” (a reference to destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70AD).
2. “What shall be the sign of Thy coming?”
3. “And of the end of the world?”
The Lord does not rebuke the disciples nor does He accuse them of ‘divination’ for enquiring about the signs prior to His second coming; on the contrary, the Lord takes the time to give clear and detailed answers to each of their 3 questions within the remainder of Matthew 24 chapter and into chapter 25!
Whilst Believers should not engage in the speculative nonsense that abounds today nor seek to know the exact day or hour of Christ’s return, they are commanded to be watchful for His coming again; if they knew the exact date of Christ’s return they would cease to be watchful nor could they obey the command to watch if they did not know what to watch for; therefore, it is entirely legitimate for Believers to study the Scriptures with the view of learning about the signs that will precede the Lord’s return! It is most peculiar that Dr Beeke condemns those who search the prophetic Scriptures to ascertain the signs that must precede the Lord’s return, yet the Holy Spirit has been sent to reveal these very things to God’s people! “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13.
Exposition of Revelation 20 is arguably the most difficult chapter of Revelation to interpret for those who refuse to accept the literal 1000 year earthly reign of Christ and within this particular commentary, this difficulty is very evident. However, for those who accept the plain meaning of the Scripture, it holds no such difficulty as it agrees perfectly with numerous parallel passages throughout the Scriptures:
• And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Daniel 7:27.
• But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah11:4-9.
• For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 1:11.
• And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts." Zechariah 14:16-21.
• (A Psalm for Solomon.) Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations. He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised. There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth. His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended. Psalm 72. This Psalm quite evidently has a fuller application to the Lord Jesus Christ of whom Solomon’s reign was but a foreshadowing of Christ’s earthly reign.
• Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? 1st Corinthians 6:2-3.
• And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28
• It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 2nd Timothy 2:11-12.
In keeping with Dr Beeke’s perspective on end time prophecy, his commentary seeks to explain away the 1000 year reign of Christ that is clearly recorded in Revelation 20; bizarrely he claims that the amillennialist does believe in a millennium but that it has already has been initiated, although it is not an exact period of 1000 years and is but a symbolic description of the entire Gospel age; This again is a classic example of eisegesis, where Dr Beeke twists the plain meaning of Scripture to fit in with his predetermined ideas. The chaining of Satan for 1000 years receives similar treatment when Dr Beeke says that Satan is currently on a chain and confined to a pit (the words 'bound' and ‘bottomless’ are disregarded), yet still able to wreak havoc on earth within the radius of his leash! This flagrant adding to and subtracting from the plain meaning of God’s Word is a most precarious practice indeed: The Bible explicitly states in Revelation 20 that Satan will be bound with a great chain and cast into a bottomless pit, shut up, sealed - in other words, totally incapacitated!
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." Revelation 20:1-3.
It is frankly incredible that anyone would seek to deny the clear meaning within these first 3 verses of Revelation Chapter 20; Satan is very evidently going to be rendered incapable of deceiving the nations until the fulfilment of the 1000 years, when he must be loosed for a short period of time to lead an unsuccessful rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ at Jerusalem, after which he will be cast into the (literal) lake of fire and brimstone, where the Antichrist and the false prophet were cast into at the commencement of the Millennium.
Attempts are made by Dr Beeke to prove that the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked and the judgement day will all occur in rapid succession despite the clear teaching in Revelation 20: 4-6 that the resurrection of the just occurs 1000 years prior to resurrection of the wicked and the judgement day.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20: 4-6.
Dr Beeke provides several texts to support his assertions in respect of the close succession of the 2 resurrections but none of these conflict with these being separated by 1000 years as clearly revealed in Revelation 20.
A correct understanding of the prophetic Scriptures can provide God’s people with an alertness and an aptitude to distinguish between the precious and the vile, assets greatly needed during these days of increasing apostasy. Paul was confident that those who came to a correct interpretation of Scriptures would discern the times and the seasons and not fall into a state of lethargy or ignorance prior to Christ’s return.
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." 1st Thessalonians 5: 1-5.
Lack of knowledge regarding the prophetic Scriptures has undoubtedly contributed to the slumbering state of the Church today and the chronic lack of discernment amongst professing Christians. Evidence of a lack of discernment is revealed within Chapter 33 of this commentary when Dr Beeke quotes quite extensively from the writings of CS Lewis, a man who was fascinated by the occult and whose ‘Christian’ credentials are extremely doubtful. (For further information on CS Lewis access these articles). Ironically, Dr Beeke refuses to accept the plainest meaning of the prophetic Scriptures, yet in Chapter 34 appears to approve extra-biblical revelations when he favourably relays a story about 'heavenly' dreams experienced by RC Sproul!
Sadly this commentary actively discourages the Lord’s people from studying the prophetic Scriptures, which have been given to us by the Lord to make us watchful and to hearten us during the dark and foreboding days of this present age. Dr Beeke states that those who are taken up with prophecy and its interpretation will not be interested in evangelising the lost; this is another untruth because those taken up with watchfulness for Christ’s return will invariably be motivated to love Him more and those who love Him will desire to obey His commandments, which includes preaching the gospel to every creature!
The editors of B.A.N.A.S.H. publish this review with an overwhelming desire that it will encourage Believers to undertake a prayerful, sustained and diligent search of the Holy Scriptures in order to gain a clear understanding about what the Lord has so graciously revealed to His people regarding events that must precede his 2nd advent; Believers have a solemn duty to study and correctly interpret the Scriptures in order to share them with their children and to assist obedient living in accordance with God’s Word.
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29.
We are confident that those who come to a correct understanding of the prophetic Scriptures will as a consequence become more circumspect in their walk with the Lord and will have a greater desire to be holy even as He is holy.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1st John 1:2-3.