One aspect of amillennialism that deeply troubles me is the denial of a future kingdom for Israel. Those who advocate this position believe the Old Testament promises made to Abraham, Jacob, David, and Israel are fulfilled by Jesus Christ and His church in this current age, a spiritual millennium.
They support this assertion through an allegorical interpretation of large sections of prophetic Scripture in both the Old and New Testament. Through symbolism, they superimpose their view of eschatology on passages that refer to Jesus’ reign over the nations as well as to the restoration of a kingdom for Israel.
I believe this disregard for the literalness of prophecy weakens the integrity of the rest of God’s Word. Though often not right away, eventually many non-prophetic passages fall victim to those wishing to overlay a symbolic interpretation upon them that conforms to what they believe.
As this methodology gets applied to creation, the Fall, and even to the teachings of Paul and Jesus, it becomes easier for churches to supplant the biblical Gospel with one resembling Marxist ideology.
(To read my previous article on how amillennialism leads to socialism, click here.)
I am sure many of you reading this post believe my above suggestion is beyond extreme, but please bear with me as I explain how proponents of amillennialism discredit God’s Word via their allegorical method of interpreting prophecy.
I believe this happens in at least five ways:
- An Inconsistent Interpretation of Prophecy
Jesus fulfilled at least 48 specific prophecies through His birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection. I do not know of any amillennialist that would disagree with that statement. However, when it comes to the prophecies regarding the future of Israel and Jesus’ second coming, they abandon literalness for an allegorical method of interpretation, thus revealing an inconsistent handling of the prophecy.
For example, no one denies the literal fulfillment of the opening words of Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
However, verse 6 adds this to the prophecy concerning Jesus: “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” The next verse explains this further: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom….” These words, if taken literally, refer to Jesus ruling upon the “throne of David,” thus signifying a still future and glorious kingdom for Israel.
Is it not highly inconsistent to change methods of interpretation in the middle of a verse or passage?
- A Vague Basis for Separating the Symbolical from the Literal
A similar issue I have with amillennialists is this: What is the basis for separating the literal from the allegorical in prophetic passages? In Isaiah 9:6-7, how do they determine what is literal and what is not?
Most amillennialists regard Revelation 21:7–22:2 as a literal description of the releasing of Satan at the end of this age, the Great White Throne judgment, and the eternal state with the new earth and New Jerusalem. However, what is the justification for interpreting the conclusion of Revelation as literal and specific prophecy after regarding most of the book as symbolical in nature?
Some commentators take this a step further by declaring God has already fulfilled all the prophecy in the book of Revelation. Can you see how this vague basis for separating of the literal from symbolism opens the door for heresies such as this? It’s just a matter of regarding the end of the apocalypse as allegory, as well as chapters 6-19, and one ends up denying an essential aspect of our hope as believers.
- A Disregard for the Original Intent of the Author
Of course, prophetic writers in Scripture employ symbolism at times. My issue with amillennialists is their disregard for the original intent of the author.
Old Testament prophets clearly believed they were prophesying of a time of future glory for the nation of Israel. They believed in a future restoration of Israel when God would regather His people from all over the earth with Jesus reigning over the nations from His seat of power in Jerusalem. There’s no indication of a “spiritual” fulfillment anywhere in their writings.
The prophet Jeremiah, for example, saw a continuation of Israel as a nation, making it as enduring as the “fixed order” of day and night (Jer. 31:33-36). What is the basis for disavowing what Jeremiah clearly believed? Jeremiah 31:38-40 makes it quite clear that the prophet regarded the coming restoration of Israel as physical in nature.
If Jeremiah was wrong about what he believed about the future of Israel, does that not discredit him in other areas? If the apostle Paul did not really mean what he declared about God not rejecting Israel in Romans 11:1, does this not open his other writings up to symbolical interpretations as well?
- A Disrespect for the Understanding of the Original Audience
Not only does the allegorical method of interpretation show indifference to the original intent of the author, it displays a keen disrespect for the understanding of the original audience. Can we really say that prophecy meant one thing to those who heard the Old Testament prophets preach and now means something entirely different to us today? I have problems with that.
Daniel 2 is a key passage where amillennialists discount the understanding of the original audience. While most commentators agree that all the other kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream are actual physical kingdoms, amillennialists claim the last one represents the church in a spiritual sense. They overlook the fact that the entrance of God’s kingdom in Daniel 2 crushes the other kingdoms of the world, something the church did not do on the Day of Pentecost.
Furthermore, is there any way Nebuchadnezzar would have regarded the last kingdom in a nonliteral way? No!
This disregard for what the original audience would have understood extends to the Twelve as well. In Matthew 19:28, Jesus spoke of a future time of great restoration for Israel when the apostles would “sit on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel.” How did the disciples understand Jesus’ words?
Acts 1:6 gives us a clue in the form of a question they later asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” After listening to Jesus explain prophecy after His resurrection and then teach them about the kingdom (Acts 1:3), they still believed in a future restoration of Israel just as Jesus promised in Matthew 19:28.
Of course, it’s possible they could have misunderstood Jesus. In that case, Jesus would surely have corrected them as He did several other times when the disciples missed His point.
However, Jesus did not refute their basic assumption of a restoration. He simply told them their timing was off and turned their attention to the task at hand, that of proclaiming the Gospel (Acts 1:7-8).
- An Overlooking of God’s Sovereign Purposes for Prophecy
Amillennialists overlook God’s sovereign plan for providing us with so much prophecy. Isaiah 46:10 says that His design for it includes that of “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish my purpose.’”
God’s purpose for prophecy is to demonstrate His glory by declaring what lies ahead in history. When one looks at the 48 specific prophecies Jesus fulfilled at His first coming, it brings about a sense of wonder and awe for the Lord as well as for His Word. It confirms that God will keep all His promises to us, especially those relating to His grand plan of salvation for us (see Isa. 46:12-13).
The abundant prophecies throughout the Bible regarding the restoration of a kingdom for Israel, the Gog and Magog war, the tribulation, and the Second Coming will accomplish this same purpose. Many will see God’s power through the fulfillment of these things, perhaps soon, and put their faith in Him. The fulfillment of prophecy reveals God’s sovereignty over history and confirms the integrity of Scripture for those who witness His workings in world affairs.
I believe that amillennialism discredits Scripture in the five ways listed above. That does not mean that those who hold this position fall into error in other ways, certainly not. Many amillennialists have biblical beliefs in all other areas including those regarding our resurrection with imperishable bodies to enjoy a new earth and New Jerusalem. Many faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
What I am saying is that the symbolical interpretation of future prophecy employed by the amillennialists can and has led to serious errors because of their allegorical handling of prophetic passages.
For example, many churches that have employed this method of interpreting prophecy for many decades have extended it to the opening chapters of Genesis. However, if both creation and the Fall are not literal, then Jesus’ death on the cross becomes an example of self-sacrificing love rather than the essential payment for sin and the redemption of sinners.
As a result, some in these churches see Socialism as a way to follow the example of Jesus. Of course, as followers of Jesus, we should tangibly display love to those in need, to those we are able to help. But our social awareness must not come at the expense of the biblical Gospel message or through a false ideology that in the end oppresses those it portends to help.
As I said in my previous post, Socialism always leads to the persecution of Jews and Christians. Always!
In my next article, I will look at how the amillennial denial of the tribulation distorts how one looks at life in this current age.
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