Critique of Dispensational Premillennialism
Non-dispensationalists accuse dispensationalists of being over simplistic and unrealistic with their literal approach to prophecy. Most importantly, they reject the argument that Old Testament promises to Israel demand a literal fulfillment.
Non-dispensationalists have a powerful argument: In interpreting Old Testament prophecy concerning Israel, we should use the only inspired commentary on the Old Testament: The New Testament.
Consider this passage from the prophet Joel:
28 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD . (Joel 2:28-31)
This is a prophecy directed to Israel. Therefore dispensationalists look to a literal fulfillment with Israel (The Holy Spirit at work during the tribulation). However, non-dispensationalists see a non-literal fulfillment at Pentecost:
15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. (Acts 2:15-20)
Here, according to non-dispensationalists, Peter sees fulfillment of Joel's prophecy not in national Israel, but in the church.
Similarly, we have a prophecy concerning the restoration of the Davidic throne:
11 "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, 12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name, “declares the LORD , who will do these things. (Amos 9:11-12)
Dispensationalists insist that this prophecy will be literally fulfilled in the millennium. Non-dispensationalists say it has already been fulfilled in the church (read Luke recording the teaching of James):
14Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. 15The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16" 'After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things'18that have been known for ages. (Acts 15:14-18)
Yet another example is found in Jeremiah, in that prophets famous promise of a New Covenant with Israel:
"The time is coming," declares the LORD , "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Jer. 31:31)
This is very clearly directed to Israel, and so dispensationalists insist it will not be fulfilled until God returns His attention to the Jews after the rapture. Non-dispensationalists, once again, point to a non-literal fulfillment with the church:
6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is foun6ded on better promises. 7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 9It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. 10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Heb. 8:6-12)
The book of Hebrews teaches that the day of the New Covenant has already arrived, and was fulfilled in the first coming. It has not been, as dispensationalism teaches, placed in abeyance awaiting the Second Coming.
There are of course other verses that speak of the New Covenant as being in effect now, such as Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb 9:15, 12:24.
Next we will look at the promises of land made to Abraham and his descendants. In particular, we will examine passages that indicate that those promises have already been met.