5 Reasons I Am a Dispensational Premillennialist

In Blogs by Les Crawford16 Comments


Dispensational Premillennialism distinctly holds that God has a positive future for the nation of Israel yet to be realized in the Millennium, the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth. The church has not replaced Israel. God’s promises to Abraham and David still hold. They were not fulfilled in the Old Testament era, nor spiritually in the church. This view uses a consistent, literal interpretive method, which allows for non-literal elements, but only when justifiable in the context. Here are five reasons why I am a dispensational premillennialist.

1. A consistent literal interpretation of Scripture demands the covenants made to Abraham and David, as well as the New Covenant to Israel, be fulfilled in their entirety for the nation of Israel.

The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, based solely on God’s performance. In Genesis 12, this covenant includes the creation of a nation, blessing, and a great name, with blessing for those who bless Abraham and cursing for those who curse him, and blessing for all the families of the earth in Abraham. In Genesis 15, the covenant specifically focuses on land and includes an innumerable progeny.

The Davidic Covenant is also unconditional and focuses on a royal dynasty, including a throne and kingdom. The Lord promises “your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16, ESV).

The New Covenant is specifically made with the houses of Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31–37) and focuses on spiritual life in writing God’s law on the heart (Ezekiel 36:22–29). God’s commitment to the nation of Israel is permanent, in the same way the “fixed order of the moon and the stars” is permanent (Jeremiah 31:35–36). Jeremiah also compares casting off Israel with the possibility of measuring the heavens above or the earth below (31:37).

Jesus is the faithful servant Israel failed to be: He does not displace Israel, but rather opens the way for Israel to be restored in God’s time, which is yet future.

Jesus the Messiah enables these covenants to be fulfilled. He is the faithful servant Israel failed to be: He does not displace Israel, but rather opens the way for Israel to be restored in God’s time, which is yet future.

Only the dispensational, premillennial view gives sufficient weight to these covenants and interprets them as they were understood by the Jewish people both when they were given and subsequently.

2. The 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel supports a future for national Israel.

Gabriel’s revelation to Daniel in response to Daniel’s prayer concerning the return of the exiles to Israel focuses on the Jewish people and Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24–27). These 70 weeks, best understood as 70 lots of seven years, summarize Israel’s history from the physical restoration of Jerusalem to the spiritual restoration of the nation. This unit of 490 years in duration will deal with Israel’s sin and bring in everlasting righteousness for the nation. 

The final week, seven years, has not yet been fulfilled, despite attempts to fit its description into history. At a time when Israel was in captivity, the promise of a positive future involving restoration of relationship with God and an anointed holy place (the Temple) provided hope for despairing exiles, including Daniel.

Only a dispensational, premillennial chronology makes sense of each aspect, including the seven-week, 62-week and one-week segments.

3. Scripture is building toward the restoration of the Kingdom for Israel.

Despite Israel’s rejection of its Messiah, Jesus’ apostles expected the Kingdom to be inaugurated for Israel (Acts 1:1–7; cf. 3:19–26). Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God for 40 days between His resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3). In response, they asked Him if He would then restore the Kingdom to Israel, to which He responded the timing was not for them to know, rather they would receive the Spirit’s empowerment to proclaim the gospel (Acts 1:6-8). 

The restoration of the Kingdom for Israel is held only by dispensational Premillennialism.

Jesus did not correct the question; and this was a perfect time to do so if it was erroneous. Peter’s sermon in Acts 3 continues a focus on the future of Israel, rather than dismissing the nation as rejected because of its treatment of Jesus.

The restoration of the Kingdom for Israel is held only by dispensational Premillennialism.

4. Romans 9—11 demands a future for national Israel.

Romans 1—8 teaches humanity’s need for spiritual salvation and God’s provision of it in the work of Jesus Christ. Chapter 8 emphasizes no condemnation for believers and concludes with no separation for them based on God’s faithfulness to His promises.

This raises a significant theological question: What about the Jewish people? Will God fulfill His promises to them? If not, God’s character or capacity is called into question. Paul answered this question in these three chapters.

He opened with his personal anguish over the salvation of Jewish people and emphasized their rightful possession of adoption, the glory, covenants, giving of the law, the worship, and the promises (9:1–4). Paul said God’s Word had not failed, because inclusion as God’s people is not based on human performance but rather divine choice (9:6–13).

In chapter 10, Paul reiterated his desire for his people to be saved and taught that salvation is available to all, Jews and Gentiles. Yet, the nation of Israel has not responded to this Good News, which raises another question: Has God rejected the Jewish people? The response is emphatic—“By no means!” (11:1). Paul explained the presence of a remnant of Jewish people, chosen by grace, both in the past and present (v. 5).

He went even further in asking if they stumbled in order that they might fall, which is also answered emphatically with “By no means!” (v. 11). Paul did not limit his teaching to individual Jews; he considered the Jewish people as a whole, the nation of Israel (vv. 7, 11, 25–26). Jewish rejection of Jesus as their Messiah resulted in salvation opening up to Gentiles as equally included as God’s people (v. 11). Gentile salvation is purposed to make Israel jealous.

Paul then compared the benefit arising from their failure, being riches for the world/Gentiles, with their full inclusion being even greater riches (v. 12). Now, the world enjoys the riches of salvation for all ethnicities, but when Israel is redeemed at the return of Jesus (vv. 25–27), His reign over the earth will bring greater riches. Paul reminded his Gentile readers of the basis of their inclusion in God’s family (vv. 13–24) and then warned them not to be arrogant, “wise in your own conceits” (v. 25).

God will by covenant take away their sins, because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Israel is subject to a partial hardening, which is why so few Jewish people are responding to the gospel, but it is limited in duration. This mystery will end when “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (v. 25). When this Gentile era completes, that hardening will be removed, which will occur at the return of Jesus. All Israel will be saved by “The Deliverer,” who will “banish ungodliness from Jacob” (v. 26). God will by covenant take away their sins, because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (vv. 27—29).

5. Revelation demands a future for national Israel and the establishment of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth.

The books of Daniel and Revelation are complementary in prophetic material, especially Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy. The alignment of timeframes and events reinforces the future fulfillment of the 70th week in Daniel, which matches with the division into two halves (Revelation 11:2–3; 12:6, 14).

The focus on Jewish people is evident in the 144,000 sealed in 7:4–8, the two witnesses in the Temple area in 11:1–14, and the reference to Israel in 12:1–6 and 12:13–17. This is not to ignore the presence of Gentiles and salvation available to them during this period but to recognize God is working with Jewish people.

Perhaps the book’s most telling teaching for Premillennialism is the repeated reference to 1,000 years (20:1–7). At face value, this reference describes a period of 1,000 years when Satan is bound and Christ returns to Earth to defeat the Antichrist and his army and rescue the Jewish people; and Christ reigns with His resurrected saints over the earth (19:11–21). At the conclusion of the 1,000 years, Satan is released, recruits an army, and attacks Jerusalem; but he is defeated and cast into the Lake of Fire (20:7–10).

Only dispensational Premillennialism includes both a future for national Israel and the 1,000-year reign of Christ over the earth prior to the eternal state, the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21—22).

By interpreting Scripture literally as it was intended, I am convinced that premillennial Dispensationalism best helps us faithfully understand God’s Word.

About the Author
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Les Crawford

Les is the Field Director for The Friends of Israel Australia, a ministry representative and office manager in Adelaide, Australia.

Comments 16

  1. Thank you for your clarification of how the bible supports the dispensational premillineal view with references of where it can be found in the bible. I believe the same.

    1. G’day Denise – I am glad the article was helpful and that you hold the same view – thank for your comment.

  2. Five very clear and concise reasons to be a premillennial dispensationalist, and all of them based on a consistent interpretation of scripture.

  3. Having personally studied this topic for many years now (even more so since graduating from ACM in 1991) I also am convinced that Premillennial Dispensationalism is by far the most natural & accurate reading & understanding of Scripture. Thanks Les; reminded me of old times at Bible college. Enjoyed your lectures & peaching very much 🙂 Praise the Lord for Friends of Israel & likeminded ministries.

    1. G’day Mike,

      Thank you for your comment and good to be reminded of past involvement together – I also look back with joy at the opportunities to engage with students at ACM and glad for the benefit imparted to each one – hope you and Joanie are doing well.

  4. Thanks for your write up. As being a student of Ariel Ministries for over 25+ years it is good to find like-minded. As you know, Arnold teaches a quote which is reiterated all over our camp and it wraps up what you have outlined. I’m sad when I visit messianic congregations that follow a form of replacement theology and somehow insert their deity on the place of Israel as per OT/NT scripture and it makes no sense and very confusing.
    When I was saved many moons ago I finally could embrace my Jewish Messiah because of His everlasting love for me and yet no one could answer my questions that brought up about G-ds promises to Israel. And then I ran into Arnold at my daughters Christian school, in my mink coat dressed to the nines for Sunday service…….with the kindness and sincerity and Yeshua and all the staff at Ariel all those became nothing like filthy rags. Check out the quote by D L Cooper that we follow to remind us to be steadfast. “When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense therefore take its primary, ordinary, usual meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of relative passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths clearly indicate otherwise “
    DL Cooper

    1. G’day Jeannette,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing about your spiritual journey to salvation in Messiah – I taught Bible study methods and regularly used the quote that you mentioned – The Golden Rule of Interpretation – getting students to memorize it. How we approach Scripture is determinative on what meaning we discern in it. Keep pressing on in your faith – G-d bless!


  5. Only the dispensational, premillennial view gives sufficient weight to these covenants and interprets them as they were understood by the Jewish people both when they were given and subsequently. I do NOT agree with this statement. Christians and theologians espousing a conservative methodology in interpreting Scripture also believe in these three covenants in a correct biblical fashion. One does NOT have to be dispensational, to be a conservative Christian who interprets Scripture in an orthodox manner. I am not dispensational and I believe I interpret Scripture literally, as long as the context allows for this. A Christian does NOT need to believe in a pretribulational rapture, just because John Nelson Darby did and he and other Christians pushed it hard. I follow Bible scholars such as George Eldon Ladd in my interpretation of Scripture. I would encourage you to review his excellent book, A Theology of the New Testament.

    1. G’day Don, thank you for your comment. I agree that you do not have to be dispensational to be a conservative Christian, but I disagree that the Dispensational Premillennial position is derived from J N Darby with respect to the Rapture or any other aspects. I believe it is the biblical position from the biblical texts, which is a result of a consistent literal interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. I am aware of George Eldon Ladd’s works and his view, but am not convinced by it. He doesn’t believe the nation of Israel has a blessed future, which I cannot find in Scripture, rather the opposite. God’s faithfulness to His promises is undermined if what was promised to Israel is not fulfilled, which I believe Romans 9-11 answers clearly. God is faithful and capable to fulfill His promise to restore Israel and bring salvation to that generation alive at the Second Coming of their Messiah, Jesus Christ. We may differ on this matter, but hopefully appreciate our common fellowship in God’s Son. God bless!

  6. Les, thanks for your reply. In response, I have two questions of you. First, you stated that “I disagree that the Dispensational Premillennial position is derived from J N Darby with respect to the Rapture or any other aspects.” Then, who do you believe developed dispensational theology? Second, you stated, “He doesn’t believe the nation of Israel has a blessed future, which I cannot find in Scripture, rather the opposite.” I have not read these kinds of statements by Dr. Ladd in the two books of his that I possess. Could you provide me the citations which indicate Dr. Ladd did not believe that Israel has a blessed future? That he believed and taught that Israel will NOT eventually be restored. Thanks for your help with these two questions. Have a blessed Sabbath, Don

    1. G’day Don – thank you for your questions. Others prior to Darby mentioned or held to a Rapture position, including Peter Jurieu in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687), Philip Dodderidge’s commentary on the NT (1738), John Gill’s commentary on the NT (1748), and Morgan Edwards, founder of Brown University (1788). Darby certainly systematized the view and was responsible for its future popularity through such means as The Schofield Reference Bible and the Bible movement across the USA, but he did not originate it. Further, the source of any theological position must be Scripture and not an influential leader. With respect to G E Ladd’s view on Israel, he clearly held the view that the church is spiritual Israel and that a future inclusion of Israel would be into the church (see his article “Israel and the Church” – Fuller Theological Seminary). He could not deny the content of Romans 11 and so allowed for Israel as a people as expressed in this way, “…they will be saved by faith in Christ and in the largest sense of the word will become a part of the Church, yet as a distinct people. Perhaps during the Millennium, we shall see for the first time in human history a truly Christian nation – Israel converted and brought to faith in Jesus as her Messiah.” What this looks like in the Millennium is hard to discern as all nations in the Millennium are initially composed of believers. He allows for Israel to be a subset of the Church but not a distinct entity, which I believe fails to account for the specific promises made to this nation. He is considered a Historic Premillennialist, which does not see God’s promises to Israel fulfilled literally, and that is not biblical in my view. Hope this assists you in understanding my response and viewpoint.

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