The manifold proofs for a premillennial understanding of biblical eschatology are extensive. Great books over the last 50 or so years have been written to show that the Bible does indeed teach a pre-tribulational, premillennial eschatology. To deny this truth is to have a presupposition already in place for which you refuse to give up (e.g., “I believe in reformed theology, therefore I am Amillennial in my eschatology”). With that said, I believe the Christmas story is yet another proof (yes, proof!) of a premillennial understanding of biblical eschatology.
How do I arrive at that? Simply, I read the Christmas account as presented by Luke. Let me show you two familiar passages of Christmas Scripture that prove again a premillennial eschatology.
Gabriel Announced a Literal Kingdom
“26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’” (Luke 1)
Note very clearly in vv. 32b-33. Jesus will be given “the throne of His father David.” This is not vague nor is it in anyway presented as “spiritual.” What we have here is an obvious look back to 2 Samuel 7, when God told King David that He would build David an everlasting house that culminates in Jesus, the Son of David, who would reign on his throne. Where is that throne of David? Well, quite obviously, in Jerusalem, in Israel. “David’s throne” is never said to be anywhere else (e.g., Heaven). My pastor once said to me, “Scripture is not fuzzy about David’s throne. Why are we fuzzy about Jesus’ throne?” In other words, unless the angel Gabriel was mistaken, then the promise to David that His Son (Jesus) would reign on His throne in Jerusalem must stand. Only Premillennial eschatology can account for that happening.
Also note in v. 33 that Jesus “will reign over the house of Jacob.” This quite obviously is not a reference to any other group, but to ethnic Israel. To spiritualize this to make it any other group except ethnic Israel is to completely ignore Hermeneutics 101. Furthermore, nowhere throughout the Old or New Testaments is Israel ever said to be anyone but ethnic Israel, it is safe to say that here too.
So unless Gabriel was left out of the the-church-is-the-new-Israel conversation, you cannot spiritualize this or make it figurative if you are going to do proper Bible study. Gabriel’s message can only point to a premillennial eschatology.
Zacharias’ Benedictus Announces a Literal Kingdom
“67 Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant—70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—71 salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.’” (Luke 1)
Zacharias’ praise here (known as Benedictus from the first word in the Latin Vulgate) is a clear expression of Old Testament promises that will be fulfilled in Jesus the new born King. The promises pointed out are the Davidic Covenant (vv. 68-71), the Abrahamic Covenant (vv. 72-75) and the New Covenant (vv. 76-79) — all covenant originally given to Israel. The promise given to David, as mentioned above, is universal and had to do with Jesus’ rule over the world (2 Sam 7). The promise given to Abraham is national and had to do with God’s special rule over ethnic Israel (Gen 12, 15, 17). The promise in the New Covenant is person and had to do with God’s remedy for the sin of individuals (Jer 31; Ezek 36).
Now where is the premillennial proof? Should be pretty obvious in words like “God of Israel,” “redemption for His people,” “house of David,” “mercy toward our fathers,” and “His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father.” None of these have any reference toward the church or any other group. Zacharias was rejoicing in God’s provision of these promises found in Jesus Christ. And there is no reason to make these spiritual or figurative. Zacharias is speaking about a real king from the family line of David who will, as the prophets foretold, rescue ethnic Israel from the bondage of their enemies. The prophet Zechariah is a good example: “1 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east … 9 And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.” (Zech 14). Again, I ask: could it be any more obvious?!
Furthermore, Zacharias is speaking to the land of Israel in which Abraham and his descendants were unconditionally and irrevocably promised in Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 22, 26, 28, & 35 and has yet to be fulfilled.
So unless the Holy Spirit through Zacharias was also left out of the the-church-is-the-new-Israel, the-kingdom-is-merely-spiritual, and the-land-covenant-can-be-ignored conversation, you cannot spiritualize this or make it figurative if you are going to do proper Bible study. Zacharias’ praise can only point to a premillennial eschatology.
And that is how Christmas provides further proof of premillennial eschatology.