QUESTIONS FROM A PRETERIST

preterists

There is a huge gap between the eschatological teachings of a preterist and those who hold to a dispensational premillennialist view, and building a bridge is all but easy.
Sadly, these two camps are often almost at “war” instead of discussing their differences in an edifying manner. Well, a preterist friend sent me a list of specific questions about my beliefs in dispensational premillennialism, that I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge and ability.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6)

1. Is there a single verse that explicitly teaches that the antichrist will make a covenant with the Jews and then break it?

Daniel 9:27 – “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

This is the same abomination of desolation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15.
Although many say the “he” in Daniel 9:27 represents Jesus Christ, we can scripturally prove that it refers to the Antichrist. The last masculine noun in Daniel 9:26 is “the prince that shall come,” not the Messiah. The prince that shall come is the “he” of Daniel 9:27 and refers to the Antichrist. This becomes clearer when we read what this “he” does. We read that he causes the sacrifice to cease and the abomination of desolation. Jesus did not cause sacrifices to cease but rather He was the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus’ death took away God’s acceptance of animal sacrifices; it did not decree that animal sacrifices could no longer be made. Jesus also did not commit the abomination of desolation. We have conclusive proof that the Antichrist does both of these things in Daniel 8:11-13 and Daniel 11:31. So it is conclusive that the “he” in Daniel 9:27 is the Antichrist.

2. Is there a single verse that explicitly teaches that Jesus will reign on earth for a literal thousand years, or that Jesus will sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem during the millennium?

In Revelation 20:1-6 the millennial reign of Christ is explicitly mentioned six times. When the Lord Jesus comes back to earth it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will set up a government for the whole world with Jerusalem as capital:
“Then the seventh angel sounded. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

In a major end-time prophecy Daniel likened Christ’s Second Coming to a great rock which will smite the kingdoms of the world, grind them to powder, then become a great mountain filling the whole earth as He reigns in their place (Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45). Zechariah says: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9).

The same promise about His reigning as King on earth was made to Mary before the birth of Jesus:
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:31-32).

The throne of David is not in heaven but on earth. Jesus does not now reign in a spiritual sense from the throne of David as this throne has, since the Babylonian captivity, been temporarily in suspension. Christ will restore this throne at His Second Coming and then reign from it:
“After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

The elders in heaven (the glorified church) know that they will return with Jesus to the earth and will reign here with Him in His kingdom. They explicitly say: “You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10; also see 2 Tim. 2:12).

3. Is there any explicit teaching that animal sacrifices and circumcision will be reinstated during the millennium of Revelation 20?

There are several passages in the Old Testament that clearly indicate animal sacrifice will be re-instituted during the millennial kingdom. Some passages mention it in passing as the topic of the millennial kingdom is discussed, passages like Isaiah 56:6-8; Zechariah 14:16; and Jeremiah 33:15-18.

The passage that is the most extensive, giving the greatest detail, is Ezekiel 43:18-46:24. It should be noted that this is part of a greater passage dealing with the millennial kingdom, a passage that begins with Ezekiel 40.

The primary objection made to the idea of animal sacrifices returning during the millennial kingdom is that Christ has come and offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and there is therefore no need to sacrifice animals for sin. However, it must be remembered that animal sacrifice never removed the sin that spiritually separated a person from the Lord. Most premillennial scholars agree that the purpose of animal sacrifice during the millennial kingdom is memorial in nature –”but in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year” (Hebrews 10:3).

4. How can the New Heaven and New Earth be a utopia when there is still sin therein (Isaiah 65:20; Revelation 21:8; 22:15)?

Scripture also says that this new heaven and a new earth will occur after the thousand year reign of Christ. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1). The new heavens and earth are different from the period of the Millennium. They will replace the old cursed creation. “Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will worship Him” (Revelation 22:3).

5. Is the New Jerusalem really to be taken literally, as a literal city sitting just above the earth, 1500 miles square, with one street, etc.? Isn’t the New Jerusalem better understood as the church, since it is described as having the twelve apostles as the foundation stones (Revelation 21:14) and is the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2; ref. Matthew 22:1-14; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27)?

Scripture nowhere says that the New Jerusalem is the church. Heaven is called a city. “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). The New Jerusalem is the ultimate fulfillment of all God’s promises. The New Jerusalem is God’s goodness made fully manifest.

The Father and the Lamb are there (Revelation 21:22). Angels are at the gates (verse 12).
The gates of the New Jerusalem are inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel was chosen by God to be a light to all nations (Isaiah 49:5–7; Romans 9:23–25), and God will never revoke Israel’s status as His chosen people (see Romans 11:29). The New Jerusalem thus contains a tribute to the patriarchs of Israel. It also contains a tribute to the apostles (Revelation 21:14), so both Old Testament and New Testament are represented in the city—the New Jerusalem is filled with the elect of God from all eras.

6. Dispensationalists say that you interpret the Bible literally, but do you do so appropriately and consistently? For example, when Isaiah (Isaiah 55:12) describes the mountains and the hills breaking into song and the trees clapping their hands, is this to be taken this literally? When Isaiah (Isaiah 13:9-13) describes God shaking the earth from its place and making the stars not show their light (predicting doom on Babylon, which all scholars was fulfilled in the past), wasn’t this intended to be taken seriously but non-literally?

When we read any piece of literature, but especially the Bible, we must determine what the author intended to communicate, without guessing. One reason we should take the Bible literally is because the Lord Jesus Christ took it literally. Whenever He quoted from the Old Testament, it was always clear that He believed in its literal interpretation.

Although we take the Bible literally, there are still figures of speech within its pages. An example of a figure of speech would be that if someone said “it is raining cats and dogs outside,” you would know that they did not really mean that cats and dogs were falling from the sky. They would mean it is raining really hard. There are figures of speech in the Bible which are not to be taken literally, but those are obvious.

The Bible is God’s Word to us and He meant it to be believed—literally and completely. Can anybody really say that he or she read some so-called deeper “spiritual meaning” into the text and for certainty knows whether it’s from God or not? It would almost boil down to extra-biblical revelation, which is dangerous. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

7. If the Bible is to be interpreted 100% literally, why are the terms like “must shortly take place,” “at hand,” “quickly,” etc. not read literally?

The question is, from whose perspective? God’s or man’s? Peter told us in 2 Peter 3 that God does not count time as we count time. He makes this statement concerning the supposed “slackness” of the Lord’s coming. It is particularly with the Lord’s return in view that Peter comments on the difference between God’s perception of “soon” and our perception of “soon” which appears to be causing the confusion. For God, a thousand years are a short amount of time.

Also, the word translated as “soon” or “shortly” is the Greek word “tachei” [Strong’s #5034]. Notice how this word is defined:
Strong’s — quickness, speed; hastily, immediately
HELPS — swiftness (speed), i.e. done as quickly (speedily) as is appropriate to the particular situation (HELPS Word-studies, The Discovery Bible New Testament, Gary Hill).
It’s important to notice that the primary meaning of this word refers to the speed by which an event approaches rather than the duration of time before it arrives.

8. If “soon” means “2000 years or longer,” does that mean it was going to take Timothy 2000 years to be sent to the Philippians (or to us) by Paul (Philippians 2:19)?

Please refer to my answer to question 7.

9. If the Bible is to be interpreted 100% literally, why do some dispensationalists say the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1-3) are “church ages” and not “literal” churches?

Others may differ, but personally, I believe that though they were literal churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and believers today. The first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the literal churches and meet their needs at that time. The second purpose is to reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and instruct them in God’s truth. I disagree with the view that these churches foreshadow seven different periods in the history of the Church as each of the seven churches describes issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history.

10. When Colossians 1:23 states, “This is the gospel you heard and that has been proclaimed [past tense] to every living creature under heaven.” —do you interpret this literally? Had the gospel been declared to the American Indians?

The last half of this verse notes an important concept. Paul refers to the wide spread of the gospel message even in his time. Obviously, Paul does not mean—nor does he think—that every person in the world had heard the gospel when he wrote these words. Instead, as in Colossians 1:6, Paul is poetically referring to the quick spread of the gospel across many parts of the world.

11. In such passages as Matthew 13:39-40; 13:49; 24:3; 28:20; etc., isn’t Jesus referring to the end of an age (Greek aion) rather than the end of the world (Greek kosmos)? In other words, if the author was talking about the end of the world, wouldn’t he have used kosmos when he actually used aion?

The King James Bible is not wrong nor in error for translating the Greek phrase found in Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3, and 28:20 as “the end of the world”

Matthew 13:39, 40, 49 – “the harvest is the end of the world”; “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world”; “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.”

Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Not only does the King James Bible translate Matthew 24:3 as “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the WORLD”, but so also do the following Bible versions both old and modern:
Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Bishops’ Bible 1568, Geneva Bible 1599, John Wesley 1755, Webster’s 1833 translation, the Revised Version 1881, American Standard Version 1901, Spanish Reina Valera 1909 (el fin del mundo), Italian Diodati (fin del mondo), Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Alford’s translation, Bible in Basic English 1960, Phillips translation, Douay Version 1950, New Life Bible 1969, New American Bible 1970, Living Bible 1981, New Jerusalem Bible 1985, New Century Version 1988, Contemporary English Version 1991, World English Bible, Hebrew Names Version, God’s Word Translation 1995, New Living Bible 1998, Third Millenium Bible 1998, KJV 21st Century, and the Easy to Read Version 2001.

The first major English translation to be widely accepted that changed “the end of the world” to “the end of the AGE” was the liberal RSV, followed by such versions as the NRSV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV and the Holman Christian Standard.

Obviously not all scholars agree on the meaning of the word aion.

Even the modern versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV and Holman ALL at times translate this same Greek word as WORLD. The NIV does this four times – Luke 16:8 “the children of this world”; Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world”; 1 Timothy 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world…”; and 2 Timothy 4:10 “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

The NASB translates this same Greek word as “world” 7 times, including twice as “worlds” in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the WORLDS were framed by the word of God.” and “whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the WORLDS” – Hebrews 1:2. The NASB likewise has “the care of this world” Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19; and “the god of this world” 2 Corinthians 4:4, as well as agreeing with the NIV in 1 and 2 Timothy. The Holman and the NKJV also translate this word as “world” in several verses in the New Testament.

12. Since the thrust of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/25; Mark 13; Luke 21) is the destruction of the temple, isn’t it reasonable to believe that the age in question was the age of the Jewish dispensation, thus the Old Covenant order—especially since the ancient Jewish system of temple sacrifices for sin ended with the destruction of the temple in AD 70?

Gospel of Matthew was indeed written for the Jews but in the Olivet Discourse, two separate questions were clearly posed: (1) “When will the temple be destroyed?” and (2) “What is the sign of YOUR COMING at the end of this age / world?” In these prophecies, a clear distinction must be made between first generation and last generation events as they relate to the two questions asked to Jesus.

When Jesus refers to the last generation, it is done in the context of a restored Jerusalem which is in the midst of the great tribulation with its unprecedented distress, wars and natural disasters that will culminate in His Second Coming. This generation would start after the long period of the trampling of Jerusalem has come to an end. More can be read about Jerusalem in the end times in Zechariah 12 (“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH (not only Rome) be gathered together against it.” 12:3)

13. The “time of the end” mentioned in Daniel 12:1-13 was to be when the burnt offering was taken away. Since burnt offerings ended in AD 70, must not this be the timeline, thus the “last days” of which the Bible speaks?

To build an entire eschatology around one aspect (burnt offerings) you need to ignore large parts of holy Scripture. A few that come to mind – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 dealing with the perilous times we are currently witnessing, 2 Peter 3:3-4 dealing with those who scoff about His coming, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 speaking about those who will depart from faith, Zechariah 12-14 dealing with the redemption of the remnant of Israel, as Paul also addressed in Romans 11.

14. Doesn’t every mention of the last days in the New Testament refer to the first century (Matthew 24:3, 14, 34; Acts 2:14-20; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 10:11; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Hebrews 1:2; 9:26; James 5:3-9; 1 Peter 1:5, 20; 4:7; 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18).
Definitely not – The beginning of sorrows is mentioned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:4-8 (Mark 13:5-8). It is a period of time characterized by specific signs that indicate His return is near. These signs also cause an increase in pain and sorrow that the Bible likens to a woman as she goes through her pregnancy and is about to give birth.
The analogy of a pregnant woman to the end times is drawn from Old Testament passages such as Isaiah 13:6-8 that describe the Day of the Lord. Isn’t it clear how churches are falling away, how the LGBTQ enforces their unbiblical ways onto us, how statistics for abortions keep on rising, etc?

15. Is there anywhere in the New Testament a trace of evidence for a secret, invisible, instantaneous rapture of the church?

This is actually an entire subject on its own. In short, the word rapture does not occur in the Bible, as doesn’t the word “Trinity.” The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture. It is described primarily in John 14:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54.

The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).

16. If Jesus is going to rapture the church out of the world, why does Jesus pray for the exact opposite thing to happen—that the church would NOT be taken out of the world—in John 17:15?

As previously mentioned, it is dangerous to take one single verse and build or reject an entire doctrine on it. Context is always very important. John 17 begins with Jesus by praying for Himself (v. 1-5) and then for His Disciples (v. 6-19). And of course, He’s not asking the Father to take them out of the world because He’s entrusting them with the task of building His Church. Then, in verses 20-26 the prayer is for all believers in the Church Age. In verse 24 he prays, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

He was certainly not praying that all believers of the Church Age would join Him in the Upper Room on the night He was praying. To see Him and His Glory requires that we go where He is now. This is consistent with His promise of John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

To say that Jesus prayed that the Father would not take us out of the world contradicts his promise in John 14:2-3, made the same night, and violates the intent of John 17:24 as well.

17. Is eschatology so confusing that God would have us bounce around between somewhere (hades/”temporary abode”), heaven, earth, new heaven and new earth? Wouldn’t you want to stay in heaven when you get there?

It’s not about what I want but what God’s will is for me – and if that is how He planned it, as clearly stated in His Word, then so be it.

18. Is there any verse in the Bible that teaches a “seven-year tribulation?”

Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is referred to by other names such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6-9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-31; 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2); trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Zephaniah 1:1); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); time or day of trouble (Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:15); time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).

Sadly, those apply Replacement theology will never understand the main purposes of the tribulation. An understanding of the 70 weeks of Daniel, and especially Daniel 9:24-27, is necessary in order to understand the purpose and time of the tribulation.

For further references about the tribulation, see Revelation 11:2-3, which speaks of 1260 days and 42 months, and Daniel 12:11-12, which speaks of 1290 days and 1335 days. These days have a reference to the midpoint of the tribulation. The additional days in Daniel 12 may include the time at the end for the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-46) and time for the setting up of Christ’s millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).

19. Doesn’t the Jewish War of 66-70 AD qualify as a great tribulation, given that that over a million Jews were killed, their nation was dissolved, their temple decimated, and along with it went their whole world order and the centerpiece of their religion—the centuries old system of animal sacrifices for sin?

I am always amazed by the fact how preterists and amillennialists choose to blindly ignore Matthew 24:21 – “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Much worse things happened in the history of mankind than 70AD, which only affected the Jewish people.

20. DIDN’T JESUS SPECIFICALLY SAY THE TRIBULATION WOULD HAPPEN IN HIS GENERATION (Matthew 24:9, 21, 29, 34)? Isn’t every time the phrase “this generation” used in the New Testament outside of the Oliver Discourse, the meaning is clearly those living in the first century (Matthew 11:16; 12:38-45; 23:36; Mark 8:12; 8:38-9:1; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32, 49-51; 17:25).

It is common sense that all other references to “generation” referred to those who lived during the time of Christ’s first coming when He preached. On the other hand, context is needed and the reference to “generation” in Matthew 24 clearly deals with the generation who will live during the tribulation.

21. If the great tribulation (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21) is global, why did Jesus tell those living in Judea to flee to the mountains to avoid the tribulation (Matthew 24:16)? If the great tribulation is global, why did Daniel only refer to it occurring to those who were the “children of my people”?

As previously mentioned, Matthew was written to a Jewish audience and also, one needs to understand God’s plan with the Jewish nation to really understand the Jewish context. But end time prophecy does not start and end with Matthew 24 and Daniel 12. A proper study of the book of Revelation makes it very clear that the wrath of God will be poured onto the entire world. In Revelation 6:1-8 we read that the first four seals broken unleash four riders on the earth to conquer and spread war, famine, and death. Revelation 17 and 18 clearly deals with the entire world, etc.

22. If the Great Tribulation was to be global, why does Jesus compare it to Sodom and Gomorrah which was clearly local (Luke 17:25-32), also Peter (2 Peter 2:5-9)?

Once again, look at the context. As in the days of Noah and Lot (before the Jews!), people will live their worldly lives, not even considering that Jesus can come at any time. It is really not difficult to see how evil today, does not differ much from the evil of those days. If God didn’t spare them from His wrath, why will He spare the current evil world.

23. Doesn’t Daniel tell us exactly when the time of distress (12:1), the resurrection (12:2), the time of the end (12:9), and the abomination of desolation (12:11)—all occur when the power of the holy people has finally been broken (12:7) and the burnt offering taken away (12:11)? Can there be ANY doubt that this was AD 70?

This question has been answered in the answers above.

To conclude, it is very clear from these questions that preterists do not pay much attention to context. For them, it is only a matter of covering all prophecies under one blanket – 70 AD.

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” REVELATION 22:18-19

THE CATHOLIC HERESY OF AUGUSTINE – AMILLENNIALISM

AMILLENNIALISM 1

Amillennialism do not believe in the future one-thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Sadly, it is the predominant concept of end time events in Christendom today. It is the official view of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the doctrine held by most mainline Protestant denominations.

They believe that the current Church Age will end abruptly with the appearance of Jesus for the redeemed. At that point the redeemed will be resurrected in spiritual bodies, the unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the material universe will cease to exist, and the redeemed will take up residence eternally with God in Heaven.

The amillennial view was invented in 400 A.D. by St. Augustine and adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in 431 A.D. at the Council of Ephesus. When this view was originally presented by St. Augustine, it caused a considerable stir because it differed so drastically from the premillennial view that had been the orthodox doctrine up to that time.

THE MILLENNIUM

Instead of denying outright that there would ever be a Millennium, Augustine argued that the Millennium began at the Cross and would continue for a thousand years until the return of Jesus. Later, when the Lord failed to return after a thousand years, amillennialists simply spiritualized the thousand years to mean an indefinite period of time from the Cross to the Second Coming. This serves as a good example on how Scripture is being twisted to fit their man-made eschatology, irrespective of the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 (ESV);

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

Note carefully that Augustine did not deny the Millennium; he simply redefined it to mean the spiritual reign of Christ through the Church during the Church Age.

That means we have been living in the Millennium for almost 2,000 years, although there is no correspondence between the Bible’s prophecies about the Millennium and the reality of the world in which we live.

We live in a world that is rotten to the core. The Bible says that during the Millennium, “the earth will be flooded with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). The nations of the world today are all in rebellion against God and His Anointed One. The prophecies say that during the Millennium the nations will all be in subjection to the Lord and will glorify His name (Psalm 22:27-31). If the Lord is reigning over the nations of the world today, He is doing a very poor job of it. Isaiah says that when the Lord reigns, the world will be characterized by peace, righteousness, and justice (Isaiah 9:7).

The amillennial response to this is usually to argue that we are in the Millennium because the Holy Spirit is in the world restraining evil. If the Holy Spirit were not here, things would be much worse. But the Bible doesn’t speak in relative terms about the Millennium. It states that there will be absolute international peace, justice, righteousness and lovingkindness (Hosea 2:18-20).

THE TRIBULATION

Augustine said that we are simultaneously in both the Millennium and the Tribulation! We are in the Millennium because the Holy Spirit is restraining evil, but we are also in the Tribulation because the Church will suffer persecution until the Lord returns. He simply denied the fact that the Bible says that the Tribulation will last only seven years, by saying that the number is symbolic. He argued that the number seven represents a complete period of time, and therefore it represents the period from the Cross to the Second Coming. Both the books of Daniel and Revelation specifically mention the two halves of the tribulation in years, months and even days.

THE BINDING OF SATAN

The Bible says that Satan will be bound at the beginning of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). Augustine argued that Satan was bound at the Cross. Let’s admit that there is a sense in which Satan has always been bound, as he is not omnipotent and not free to do anything he desires. The book of Job reveals that Satan could not touch Job without God’s permission.

It is also true that Satan was further bound by the Cross. Since that time believers in Jesus have received the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, enabling them to be overcomers in their combat with Satan. The Word says that “He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).

But the limitations which the Cross placed on Satan do not constitute the binding of Satan that the Scriptures say will take place at the beginning of the Millennium. Revelation says Satan will be bound so that he can no longer “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3). How can anyone argue that the nations are not deceived today? Satan is without a doubt still the “ruler of this world” (John 16:11).

THE TWO RESURRECTIONS

The Bible says there will be two resurrections, one of the just and another of the unjust (Acts 24:15). It further states that these two resurrections will be separated by a thousand years (Revelation 20:5-6). The amillennial view has only one resurrection, occurring at the end of the Church Age.

Augustine “solved” this problem by spiritualizing the first resurrection. He said the first resurrection is a spiritual one that occurs when a person accepts Jesus as Lord and is born again. The second resurrection is the one that will occur when the Lord returns and everyone, both the just and the unjust, will be resurrected from the dead.

This exercise in imaginative interpretation shows what happens when you start spiritualizing. Scripture starts meaning whatever you want it to mean.

REPLACEMENT / FULFILLMENT THEOLOGY

Amillennialists claim that “God washed His hands of the Jews” because of their unbelief, and He therefore has no purpose left for them. This doctrine has led to much anti-Semitism in the Church. The fact of the matter is that the Jews are still the Chosen People of God, and the Lord intends to fulfill every promise He has ever made to them as a nation.

The book of Romans makes all this very clear. In Romans 3:1-4 Paul asks a rhetorical question: “Has the unfaithfulness of the Jews nullified God’s faithfulness to them?” For almost 1,700 years the Church has said “Yes!” What does Paul say? His answer is, “May it never be!”

Likewise, in Romans 11:1 Paul asks, “Has God rejected His people?” Again, for almost two thousand years the Church has answered, “Yes!” But what does Paul say in response to his question? He says, “May it never be!” And then he adds, “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:2). He then proceeds to explain that a great remnant of the Jews will be saved in the end times (Romans 9:27; 11:25-32).

The Jewish people have been set aside as a result of God’s discipline. But He has not forgotten them. In Isaiah 49:16 the Lord says He could never forget the Jewish people because He has them tattooed on the palms of His hands! In Jeremiah 31:35-37 the Lord asks, “When will the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before Me?” His answer is that they will continue to be special in His eyes until the fixed order of the universe departs or until the day all the heavens and all the oceans have been fully explored. In Romans 11:29 Paul says that the “gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” And in Romans 9:1-5 he speaks of promises to the Jews that God fully intends to fulfill.

That’s the reason the Jews are being regathered from the four corners of the world right now. It is one of the greatest miracles of history. The Lord intends to provoke them to repentance by bringing all the nations of the world against them (Zechariah 12:1-3). When they become totally desperate, they will look to the Lord for their salvation. That is when they will repent. They will “look on Him whom they have pierced, and they will mourn” (Zechariah 12: 10). And on that glorious day, a fountain of salvation will be opened for the house of David (Zechariah 13:1).

God will then establish these believing Jews as the prime nation of the world during the Millennium, and through them He will once again bless all the nations on earth (Isaiah 60-62).

Due to this evil doctrine, amillennials are also blinded to understanding one of the key purposes of the millennial reign and the reason for the rapture.

THE KINGDOM ON EARTH

There is no doubt that the Church is God’s current kingdom on the earth today. Since Pentecost, the kingdom has been expressed in the institution of the Church (Colossians 1:13). But the Bible promises different expressions of the kingdom in the future first, in the form of a thousand year rule of Jesus upon this earth (Revelation 2:26-27), and second, in the form of an eternal rule of God upon a new earth (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

The kingdom is past, present, and future. It is currently expressed in the Church, but it is like a rose in the bud, yet to bloom in its full glory. Even during the Millennial reign of Jesus, the kingdom will be coming, for the Bible teaches that rebellion will be lurking in the hearts of men (Revelation 20:7-10). The consummation of the kingdom will not come until all enemies of God have been subdued. That will occur at the end of the Millennial reign of Jesus, at which time He will surrender the kingdom to His Father, and God Himself will reign forever over a redeemed creation (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION

Amillennialism believe that Revelation 20:1-6 describes what takes place during the entire history of the church, beginning with the first coming of Christ. The various sections in Revelation are parallel to each other and they also reveal a certain amount of eschatological progress. The last section, for example, takes us further into the future than the other sections. Although the final judgment has already been announced in 1:7 and has been briefly described in 6:12-17, it is not set forth in full detail until we come to 20:11-15. Though the final joy of the redeemed in the life to come has been hinted at in 7:15-17, it is not until we reach chapter 21 that we find a detailed and elaborate description of the blessedness of life on the new earth (21:1-22:5). Hence this method of interpretation is called progressive parallelism.

In essence, they believe that the book of Revelation depicts the struggle between Christ and his church on the one hand and the enemies of Christ and the church on the other. Some say that the first half of the book (chapters 1-11) describes the struggle on earth, picturing the church as it is persecuted by the world. The second half of the book, however (chapters 12-22), gives us the deeper spiritual background of this struggle, describing the persecution of the church by the dragon (Satan) and his helpers. In the light of this analysis we see how the last section of the book (chapters 20-22) falls into place. This last section describes the judgment which falls on Satan, and his final doom. Since Satan is the supreme opponent of Christ, it stands to reason that his doom should be narrated last. Ironically, this seems to contradicts their view that Satan is already bound!

CONCLUSION

The amillennial view is based on a spiritualizing approach to Scripture which contends that the Bible does not mean what it says. Even worse, they take the position that the Bible always means what it says unless it is talking about Israel and the Second Coming of Jesus!

The amillennial view does not stand the test of either the Scriptures or reality. Society is disintegrating before our eyes, and the Bible says it will get worse the closer we come to the Lord’s return (2 Timothy 1-5). How can anyone truly believe that Satan is bound today? The Bible says “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

How can anyone truly believe that the Church is reigning with Christ over the nations? Try telling that to persecuted and suffering Christians all over the world.

How could anyone truly believe God has no purpose left for the Jews? After 2,000 years of dispersion all over the world, they are being regathered to Israel in what Jeremiah calls a miracle greater than the deliverance from Egyptian captivity (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

Let’s stop playing games with God’s Word. Let’s allow it to mean what it says. Bible prophecy is really not hard to understand. It is just hard to believe if you choose to blindly follow heretic teachings of church fathers such as Augustine rather than studying the true Word of God.

It reflects the attitude of a person who is too lazy to search the Scriptures to see what God has promised in the future.

Certainly it matters what you believe about Bible prophecy. It matters what you believe about anything, because your beliefs determine the way you live. The amillennial church lives with little hope and excitement about the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Still wonder why these churches are dying?

Bible prophecy surge our hope while we are still in this evil world, and motivates us live a holy life. Although your perception of Bible prophecy it is not related to your justification, it has an immediate impact upon your sanctification, upon how you walk before the Lord in this life. As the apostle John put it: “Everyone who has his hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John3:3).

Main Sources:

The article “Amillennial problems” by Lamb & Lion Ministries

And

The article “Amillennialism: Introduction and The Book of Revelation” by Anthony Hoekema

A BASIC OVERVIEW OF AMILLENNIALISM

A FIGURATIVE 1000 YEARS

In short, Amillennialism is the theory or system of interpretation that says that there will be no literal, earthly kingdom following the Second Coming of Christ. Amillennialism teaches that when Christ returns, eternity begins with no prior thousand-year millennial reign occurring on planet earth.

Amillennialism is the most prominent view among Christians today. The use of the prefix “a” before a word comes from the practice of the Greek language and negates the word (nullifies or denies the word as being true) when placing this letter in front of it. Therefore, the word amillennial actually means no millennium. Of course, the Latin words “mille” (thousand) and “annus” (years) means 1,000 years. But when the letter “a” is placed before the Latin word it cancels out the millennium and literally means “no thousand years.”

Actually, the amillennialist does believe in a “millennium” but not a literal millennium. It is a spiritual millennium instead of a literal earthly millennium. They see the N.T. references to the 1,000 years and the kingdom as being allegorical or figurative in meaning and teach that these references point to Christ’s reign over the church in the time period between Christ’s first and second advent. The amillennial view holds that the kingdom promises in the Old Testament are fulfilled spiritually rather than literally in the New Testament church.

Jay Adams, who is amillennial, chooses to call his system of interpretation by the name “realized millennialism.” This simply means that the millennium is a present reality existing in the hearts of people. The millennium or kingdom becomes a present realization in the hearts of God’s saints.

NO PROMISES TO PHYSICAL ISRAEL

The promises to Israel about a land, nationality and throne (Gen. 12:2; 15:18-20; 2 Sam. 7:12-16) are now being fulfilled in a figurative or spiritual way among believers. They claim that these promises given to Israel have been cancelled out due to their past disobedience. This means that God is finished with Old Testament Israel or the Jewish nation as a whole. The promises of an earthly kingdom have taken on a spiritual dimension and have been transferred to the church where Christ becomes King as He reigns over believers today. In this way the church replaces Israel of old and becomes the new “spiritual” Israel that God is working with today. Thus, the term “replacement theology” is given to this scheme of interpretation.  

 Spiritualized interpretation therefore is a scheme of interpretation that changes the literal meaning of the O. T. covenant promises to a figurative meaning. By a process of figurative interpretation national Israel assumes the title of “spiritual Israel” and the earthly millennium becomes a “spiritual kingdom” (the present day church of saints).

SATAN ALREADY BOUND

In brief, amillennial theology also teaches that Satan was bound at the first coming of Christ through His death and resurrection. Hence, the kingdom of God began at the first advent and continues as a present spiritual reality with Christ reigning in the hearts of His saints or over the new spiritual Israel – the New Testament church.

MOST PROPHETIC EVENTS IN REVELATION ALREADY FULFILLED

The amillenarian views most of the book of Revelation as dealing with prophetic events already fulfilled before or during the actual time of the book being written (past fulfillment), or as present day events and conditions that are happening on earth right now.

Idealistic View

This view spiritualizes the book and makes it fit into the present day conflict between evil and good and sees it as an apocalyptic dramatization of the continuous battle between God and evil. It is simply a picture of the continual struggle between right and wrong that goes on in the heart of man. This is often being referred to as the Idealistic view.

Preterist View

Then there is the Preterist view of the book of Revelation, which assigns a past meaning to the book. In other words, the events of this book were fulfilled in John’s day.

Historicist View

Others hold the Historicist view of the book of Revelation, which sees the book as giving a history of the church from apostolic times to the end. This view is shared borrowed from the Roman Catholic Church. This group is basically forced to also associate many of the judgments predicted in the book with events in the past.

Most amillennialists in some measure assign a past historical fulfillment to the book of Revelation but at the same time still hold that the book contains a present-day fulfillment of what is happening in the world in connection with the tribulation that the church faces today. In other words, there is a mixing or blending together of the idealistic, preterist and historicist views. This is the theory that the Roman Catholic, Augustine held.

Heavently Millennium View

The noted Benjamin Warfield (1851-1921) taught this spiritualized concept of the 1,000 years in Revelation chapter 20 even though he was actually a postmillennialist believing in an earthly millennium. It can be observed that various segments of amillennial teaching overlap with postmillennial beliefs. For some amillennialists the millennium has nothing to do with any spiritual reign of Christ upon earth over believer’s lives but with the blessed condition of the saints in heaven where Christ is ruling over their disembodied spirits. This theory holds that there is some kind of “heavenly millennium.” In other words, the Old Testament promises are also being fulfilled in heaven right now.

This more contemporary view within amillennialism was only developed in the nineteenth century and has become a popular and acceptable idea of the millennium. Instead of the church being the millennium / kingdom on earth the millennium / kingdom is in heaven where Christ is seen ruling over His departed saints as the Davidic King.

There is thus, division in the ranks of amillennialism when it comes to interpreting and understanding what the millennium is and how it is being fulfilled today. We can see how spiritualization only breeds confusion.

To summarize, the millennium or the 1,000 years is not a literal and specific reference to time but a reference to Christ’s rule over the church today and finally in the splendor of heaven itself.

THE RETURN OF CHRIST AND A GENERAL JUDGEMENT

Amillennialism believe that Christ will literally return. This return will result in a literal, physical and universal resurrection of all the people from Adam to the last person who has died. The remainder of people living on earth will be translated to this scene of judgment so that all the people born throughout time will stand together in a time of general judgment. All the unsaved of earth’s history will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire and the saved will enter into the eternal state.

Amillennialists will normally use a passage such as Matthew 25:1-46 to teach their theory of a general judgment on the last day (John 5:29). But in their attempt to push this theory of a general judgment they fail to realize that the judgment in Matthew 25 does not picture any resurrection but only a judgment of those gathered nations living upon the earth when the Messiah returns.

In addition, the differences between the judgments of the church at the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), the judgment of the surviving nations following the tribulation period (Matthew 25:31-46), the judgment of Israel (Ezekiel 2:33-38), the judgment of fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4; Rev. 20:10) and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) are glossed over and these separate events are lumped together and looked upon as one single event. This creates serious mistreatments of Bible texts and confusion.

ETENAL STATE

What the eternal state will be to the amillennialist varies since some take the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22) as only a spiritual description of what Paul calls the “new creation” of the church (2 Cor. 5:17). Some apply the vision of the new heavens and earth to a nonmaterial state of existence in heaven. Other more conservative amillennialists and postmillennialists seem to stress the idea of people living on a brand new planet after the Second Coming.

QUESTIONS AMILLENNIALISTS CANNOT ANSWER

The idea of only one general resurrection, one combined judgment, one people of God, and one return of Christ seems much easier for the amillennialist to grasp. But we must ask ourselves these questions: Why can’t there be a Rapture and Second Coming of Christ to earth? Why can’t there be three resurrections instead of just one? Why can’t there be three different judgments? Why can’t there be two classes of people on earth? The answer of the amillennialist to these questions is that it conflicts with his amillennial theology. But on the contrary, these findings do not contradict the Bible when it is literally interpreted.

Prophetic parables and other portions of Scripture that deal with the tribulation and kingdom are seen to be already fulfilled historically and/or in respect to Christ reigning over the church today as King. The great prophetic portions of the Word of God are spiritualized as presenting contemporary events that the church faces today in the world while Christ reigns within the hearts of His redeemed saints.

CHURCHES APPLYING AMILLENNIALISM

This amillennial concept is the view of the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the major view among the large segment of Protestantism – both conservative and liberal. The Roman Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church, major sections of the Presbyterian and Reformed churches, certain branches of the Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Southern Baptists and even various segments in the Church of God, embrace this kind of spiritualized theology. Of course, this does not make it the correct view of Scripture in regards to the interpretation about the kingdom, church and other prophetic truth.

THE DANGER OF SPIRITUALIZING OR ALLEGORIZING SCRIPTURE

It is very interesting to remember how the liberals also embraced this amillennial position because it fit into their way of viewing the Scriptures. If Christ’s millennium or kingdom could be spiritualized then Christ’s resurrection, miracles and His Second Coming and judgment of people in hell could also be spiritualized to mean something else. Modern liberals can justify whatever they want by the use of the same hermeneutical rules of interpretation that the amillennialist follows. This mishandling of Scripture opens the door for liberalism to treat the Scriptures in the same way – in an unbelieving and spiritual\allegorical way – instead of a literal way. The history of higher criticism of the Bible lends itself to the amillennial interpretation of Scripture.

The danger of this type of figurative interpretation of Scripture should be apparent to everyone who respects the inspiration of Scripture and the plain, normal and literal meaning of the Bible. This method regards nonfigurative language as figurative and its only limitation is the mind of the interpreter. This type of “spiritual hermeneutic” has robbed the Bible of its legitimate meaning. If words mean something then the words of Scripture in their grammatical, normal and literal understanding can adequately express truth without the process of spiritualization.

I’m reminded of how Paul reprimanded Hymenaeus and Philetus for spiritualizing that the physical resurrection was something already past. These men were affected by Greek philosophy and like Origen and Augustine they tried to harmonize the two together – both Greek philosophy and Scripture. They were the “spiritualizers” and “allegorizers” of the early church. Like the Sadducees, they rejected the literal concept of the resurrection (Acts 23:8).

2 Timothy 2:17-18 says:

“And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”

Amillennial teaching is like gangrene eating away at the foundational truth of the prophetic Word and God’s clear mind about the meaning of words and His literal covenant promises to Israel. When one abandons the literal interpretation of the Bible and reduces literal words to mean figurative truth they reduce the Bible to nothing more than a book of symbols in the whimsical or fanciful hands of man’s own creativity. It can only discredit God’s Word and lead to unbelief and error in connection with God’s eschatological program.

Kenneth Kantzer has said:

“The only way to appropriate biblical authority and to refrain from reducing the Bible to a book of mere suggestions and optional opinions is to understand the Bible in the plain, normal sense intended by the authors.”

(Source: Pastor Kelly Sensenig)

 

THE UNBIBLICAL BOOK OF ENOCH – SIMPLY EXPLAINED

While the book of Enoch is interesting to read, it is important to note that the book is NOT SCRIPTURE as it is not inspired by God. The book was however, quoted in the Apocryphal book of Baruch. Some of what the Apocrypha says is true and correct, but at the same time, much of it is false and historically inaccurate. If you read these books, you have to treat them as interesting but fallible historical documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

The book of Enoch was apparently written during the first century before Jesus Christ. The majority of Bible scholars believe the Book of Enoch has not truly been written by Enoch himself. No Hebrew version is known. It is extant only in the Ge’ez, an Ethiopic language.

The Muratorian Fragment is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of the books of the New Testament, left for us by several of the early fathers and the book of Enoch has not been included. Some of the Bible books were later also challenged but never with success as God would never allow them to be taken from His Word.

Some have speculated that Jude 14-15 is a quote from the book of Enoch (1:9) and concluded that Jude regarded Enoch as scripture. Careful examination of the two passages reveals some differences. First, Jude refers to”thousands” of angels, but Enoch refers to “millions.” Jude says that God will “convict” all of the ungodly, but Enoch says that they will be “destroyed.” To use this one piece of scripture to justify the argument that the book of Enoch should form part of the Bible, is dangerous in any case.

Jude’s quote is not the only quote in the Bible from a non-biblical source. The Apostle Paul also quotes Epimenides in Titus 1:12 but that does not mean we should give any additional authority to Epimenides’ writings.

Dr. Gerhard Pfandl, from the Biblical Research Institute, lists the following reasons for why this pseudepigraphal book isn’t included in the biblical canon:
1. The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, was written about 450 B.C. Enoch was written in the first century B.C. Jews believed that inspiration ceased with Malachi. They did not consider the book of Enoch inspired.
2. Christians agree that the Old and New Testaments — all 66 books — are inspired by God. Additionally, the apostles recognized these books as inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21 2 Timothy 3:16). All others, including the book of Enoch, were rejected as not having been inspired by the Holy Spirit.
3. The book of Enoch is not in harmony with the rest of Scripture. Here are some examples:
a. The story of angels having sex with women contradicts Jesus’ saying in Matthew 22:30: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Mat 22:30 NKJV). This means angels are not sexual beings.
b. Eighteen of these angels are listed by name in Enoch 6:3, 8; their leader is Semyaz. Not one of these names appears in the Bible. The giants they produce were 450 feet tall (Enoch 7:2). “These [giants] consumed the produce of all the people until the people detested feeding them. So the giants turned against [the people] in order to eat them” (7:3, 4). This is rather fanciful and against Scripture.
c. In Enoch 10:4, 5, “The Lord said to Raphael [a good angel] ‘Bind Azaz’el [an evil angel] hand and foot [and] throw him into the darkness!’ And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda’el and cast him there; he threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks.” According to Enoch, you can bind angels by throwing them into a hole in the desert. There is no such thing in the Bible.
d. In chapter 13, Enoch intercedes for Azaz’el. Totally unbiblical.

“Many more fanciful and weird stories are contained in the book,” says Dr. Pfandl. “Jews and Christians, therefore, never considered the book as inspired by the Holy Spirit.”