Amillennial Theology is in error - (no literal thousand year reign)
By Don Koenig
The prevalent theology of the Church for over fifteen centuries is that the Church is in the millennium of God. Those that hold this position say the thousand-year kingdom in the book of Revelation is only figurative and it really does not mean a thousand-years but it means a undisclosed period of time. The teaching generally is that the Christian Church is true Israel or has replaced Israel at Pentecost and that we have been in the kingdom on earth since Pentecost. Most who hold this view say all kingdom passages in the Old and New Testament dealing with unfulfilled prophecy must be spiritualized or allegorized to pertain to the Church. This position that there is no literal thousand-year reign is called amillennialism and it is held by most of the main-line liberal Protestant denominations and the Catholics.
The early fathers of the first two centuries of the Church were premillennial, meaning that they thought that Jesus would come back before the promised earthly kingdom actually started. Some included were, Pothinus, Justin Martyr, Melito, Hegesippus, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Apollinaria.
Amillennial theology actually began with a school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt in the beginning of the third century which proposed that scripture should be allegorized. Most of this theology was later rejected as heretical, but the allegorization of prophecy was retained by Augustine and incorporated into Catholic doctrine. The later reformed theology of the Protestants retained this teaching.
Augustine taught that the Church was living in the millennial period. For that reason many in the Church fully expected the second coming around 1000 AD. When this did not occur the assumption was made that the thousand-year period mentioned in Revelation was just figurative and it just meant an undisclosed period of time. This doctrine is still taught in most of Christianity today.
Dispensational Premillennial Theology - (the Kingdom on earth promised is still a future literal event on earth)
In the 1830's Darby taught that there should be a distinction between Israel and the Church and that the prophetic scriptures to physical Israel will be literally fulfilled. This position says that those on earth are still before the thousand-year period taught in Revelation (premillennial). This view teaches that after Jesus' second coming He will literally rule on the earth for a thousand-years. In this view there is a difference between the promises of the Old Testament to the descendants of natural Israel and those who have already been born into the New Covenant promises by faith. Dispensational theology states that God has dealt with people differently in different dispensations of time (different rules for living), thus, the theology is called Dispensationalism.
Those in this theology believe that when the times of the grafting in of the Gentiles are fulfilled, God will once again deal with the descendants of natural Israel to fulfill the literal promises in scripture directed to them. The new covenant actually was given to natural Israel without conditions but since they rejected their King they could not come into their kingdom. This gave time for the Gentiles to be grafted into the New Covenant promise by God's grace. Someday the descendants of Israel will acknowledge their offense and receive their King and the New Covenant promises. At that time all scripture promised to the natural descendants of Israel will be literally fulfilled.
This premillenial theology has become popular with Bible literalists and had been the view held by many evangelical denominations in the 20th centurey. It used to be the predominant view of Baptists, Pentecostals and independent Bible churches. Popular books such as the "The Late Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey and the "Left Behind" series of novels by Lahaye and Jenkins have done much to teach the common Christian this view. However, in the last decades there has been a big shift in Evangelical and Charismatic churches to Post Millennial Theology that proclaims the church will defeat all enemies and establish a Christian kingdom on earth before Jesus returns (Dominionism). Never mind, that no such concept is taught in scripture. Never-the-less, this teaching has become popular because it appeals to the flesh. For this article we will focus on just Amillennial and Dispensational Theology.
Dispensationalism is sometimes misunderstood. Dispensationalism is not different ways to find salvation; it is different rules for living in each dispensation for those who are saved on the basis of their faith in God.
Dispensationalists actually believe what is written in the Bible should be taken literally unless the author makes it clear that it should be taken spiritually or allegorically. They believe the word of God is written down for the common man to understand. The scriptures do not need those with theological degrees to tell us why God did not really mean what He said. However, in most of Christianity theologians are doing that. Through human reasoning they are redefining what God said and even arguing with other theologians on how passages should be spiritualized or allegorized and interpreted for those that are under their influence.
Which theology is correct?
I believe that dispensational theology is generally correct, although I do not believe that all points in classic dispensational theology are correct. For example: I think all sons of Abraham that are saved by faith and trust in God are in the commonwealth of Israel and the olive tree and they are part of the body of Christ. I think Romans, Galatians, Hebrews and other books of the New Testament make it quite clear that those before Pentecost drank from the same spiritual rock - which is Christ. (1Co 10:4)
The real problem I have with the amillennial position is that it changes the true meaning of hundreds of unfulfilled prophetic passages. Much of the plan of God for the immediate future is done away with and is not taught or is distorted. Much of the amillennial Church appears to be sleeping instead of reaping the harvest with the catalyst of an imminent return of Christ.
The dispensationalist believes that natural Israel was chosen by God for the purpose of teaching the whole world the knowledge of God. The many laws and observances were to keep natural Israel as a distinctly pure people and priesthood on the earth. The covenant God had with Israel was based on their obedience to the Law. God said that if they kept the Law they would receive from Him a blessing and if they did not keep the Law they would receive a curse. In history we see this covenant being played out. God makes it unconditionally clear that if the nation of Israel returns to Him that He will restore them and be their God. As with all covenants with God this covenant cannot be broken even though today we see most of natural Israel still in disobedience and disbelief. Israel will be broken, but God's promises to her will never be broken.
Jesus delivered all who believe from the curse of the Law but the Jewish nation as a whole are blinded and have not yet believed. They cannot enter into their promised kingdom on earth because of this unbelief. Scripture indicates that after the time of the grafting in of the Gentiles is complete, during a time of great tribulation, Israel's blinders will be removed and the remnant of Israel will welcome Jesus. At that time a literal Jewish kingdom led by the Messiah will be restored to Israel. All the prophets tell us about this restoration. However, Amillennial Theology distort these prophecies by putting spiritual meanings on the literal promises that God made to physical Israel - promises that cannot be annulled if God is trustworthy.
Amillennial theology teaches that we are now in the millennial reign of Christ and dispensational theology says that it is yet future. According to Chuck Missler (a dispensational author/teacher), there are at least 1,845 references in the Old Testament and 318 references in the New Testament to the promise of an earthly kingdom with a literal Messiah ruling the world from His throne in Jerusalem.
Amillennial theology is in error and is a recipe for confusion
The allegorizing of prophetic scripture allows the interpretation of these passages by the theology of the denomination interpreting them. For example, the Catholics would allegorize some passages quite differently than would some of the reformed churches. Thus, the allegorical position leaves all prophetic scripture open to interpretation by the theology one has. Under this system of interpreting what the prophets really said is subjective to the interpretor and is open to debate. The prophet's words cannot be taken literally.
Is Satan bound?
To be living in the millennium now, the book of Revelation indicates that Satan must already be bound, so the amillennialist say that Satan is already bound. In some sense Satan may be bound in the life of those living according to the will of God. However, scripture says that Satan has the power to blind the eyes of those who do not believe and that he has emissaries who appear as ministers of light. The scriptures also say that he has the power to destroy flesh and to hinder and deceive believers. Peter urges Christians to resist him. Furthermore, scripture says that one is coming from Satan who will have all power and signs and lying wonders. The book of Revelation tells us that Satan has a throne and a synagogue at a location on earth. Therefore, from scripture and world conditions it should be clear that Satan is not yet bound but is still going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. If Satan is not bound, amillennial theology fails. For the reasons given above and many more reasons given below, this theology does fail.
Does a thousand-years mean an undisclosed period of Time?
Amillennial theology tells us the thousand-year period spoken of six times in Revelation does not mean a thousand years but means an undisclosed period of time. Nowhere in scripture is a thousand years used as an undisclosed period of time. In fact there are two places in scripture that tells us that a day with the Lord is as a thousand-years. Scripture also tells us that there remains a day of rest for the people of God, so it only makes sense that this day of rest is the thousand years spoken of in Revelation. This is the day spoken of in Bible prophecy when Jesus rules from the throne of David in the great Sabbath day called "the day of the Lord".
This day will last a thousand years just as God said it would. Amillennial believers like to use the scripture where God says He owns cattle on a thousand hills to justify their position that "a thousand" could be any number of years but in the context of this passage it is explained that God is talking about the whole world, not just a literal thousand hills. In Revelation there is no such context or biblical precedent to take it any other way than to mean a literal thousand years. God could not have been any clearer; He said "a thousand years" six times in one short passage. If He really wanted to say an undisclosed period of time an all intelligent God would have no problem communicating that to us.
Is the Church now reigning on earth?
Amillennial theology tells us that Jesus and the Church are now reigning on earth. If the Church is reigning, then why is the world in the condition that it is in? They believe that Satan is bound and the Church is reigning, but evidence shows that true Christians are a small minority and are losing ground to doctrines of demons. The true Church has not even reigned in the Christian denominations, so how in the world could she be reigning in the world? Even scripture says that evil men will wax worse and worse, so how do we reign over them while they still are allowed to rule here?
Scripture also says that Christ will sit on the throne of His glory when He comes with His holy angels and at that time He will perform a judgment and then rule the nations with a rod of iron. As yet no angels have come and no judgment has taken place and no one is ruling with a rod of iron. We can only make the conclusion from this and other similar passages that Jesus has not yet established His rule on the earth. We also are specifically told in scripture that the time of kingdom rule is set by the authority of the Father alone. Yet Jesus told them by His own authority to wait in Jerusalem for the power from the Holy Spirit so that they could be witnesses to the whole world. In no way can being a witness be equated to reigning in a restored kingdom. Therefore, the promised kingdom whose time is set by the Father was not fulfilled at Pentecost as some amillennialists claim.
Act 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Jesus told us to pray "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" If the kingdom has already come on earth there would be no reason to continue to pray this prayer if the prayer was already answered by God at Pentecost. Then why do those in amillennial churches still pray by rote this example of prayer? This is contradictory!
The natural descendants of Israel still have a destiny
Paul tells us there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ, however, in Revelation chapter seven it tells us that 144,000 Israelites are sealed so they will not be harmed by the trumpet judgments that come because of the wrath of the Lamb. (When was the wrath of the lamb with these trumpet judgments fulfilled in history?) These Israelites are from twelve named tribes and they are sealed so they can do a mission on earth. These are not identified with the mission of the Church age on earth for Paul told us there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in the Church.
Is the millennium the eternal state?
Chuck Missler writes in "Update News Journal", "the Millennium is not heaven: it is clearly distinctive in contrast to the eternal state which follows (Revelation 21). It will be characterized by a limited amount of evil, which Christ will judge perfectly and immediately. Neither is it the "new earth" that God will yet create: for therein righteousness dwells, which is something not true of the Millennium".
Missler also says that "Ezekiel's detailed tour of the Millennial Temple virtually defies any skeptic's attempt to treat it allegorically - It is substantially to the north of Jerusalem, at a source of a river that flows toward both the Mediterranean to the west and the Dead sea to the east, Ezekiel's description implies a total change of topography, which is explicit in the scripture."
Can land promises be spiritualized?
Amillennial theology says the land promised to Abraham is spiritual. The scriptures say that God told Abraham to look in all directions from where he was at. This land would be given to Abraham's descendants forever. Scripture says the land would be from the River of Egypt to the great River Euphrates. This land promise has never been fulfilled. Many passages in the Old Testament confirm that Israel will be restored as a nation spiritually, politically, and territorially. Jeremiah 23 and Psalms 89 describe the regathering on the land, and Christ assuming the Davidic throne after his second coming.
Physical Israel plays a physical role in the millennium.
The Scriptures tells us that physical Israel will have an important role in the millennium. Some of this is outlined in J. Dwight Pentecost, "Things To Come"
"In order to be subjects, Israel, first, will have been converted and restored to the land, as has already been shown.
Second, Israel will be reunited as a nation (Jer 3:18; 33:14; Ezek. 20:40; 37:15-22; 39:25; Hos. 1:11).
Third, the nation will again be related to Jehovah by marriage (Isa. 54:1-17; 62:2-5; Hos. 2:14-23).
Fourth, she will be exalted above the Gentiles (Isa. 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 60:14-17; 61:6-7).
Fifth, Israel will be made righteous (Isa. 1:25; 2:4; 44:22-24; 45:17-25; 48:17: 55:7; 57:18-19; 63:16; Jer. 31:11; 33:8; 50:20, 34; Ezek. 36:25-26; Hos. 14:4; Joel 3:21; Mic. 7:18-19; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2-3).
Sixth, the nation will become God's witnesses during the millennium (Isa. 44:8, 21; 61:6; 66:21; Jer. 16:19-21; Mic. 5:7; Zeph. 3:20; Zech 4:1-7; 4:11-14; 8:23).
Seventh, Israel will be beautified to bring glory to Jehovah (Isa. 62:3; Jer. 32:41; Hos. 14:5-6; Zeph. 3:16-17; Zech. 9:16-17)."
John Walvoord states, (THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM), Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mich, 1971):
"The lesser role of Gentiles in the millennium is the subject of many Old Testament Scriptures such as the following: Isaiah 2:4; 11:12; 16:1-5; 18:1-7; 19:16-25; 23:18: 42:1; 45:14; 49:6, 22; 59:6-8; 60:1-14; 61:8-9; 62:2; 66:18-19; Jeremiah 3:17; 16:19-21; 49:6; 49:39; Ezekiel 38:23; Amos 9:12; Micah 7:16-17; Zepheniah 2:11; 3:9; Zechariah 8:20-22; 9:10; 10:11-12; 14:16-19. [Ibid, p. 508]
Outstanding in these Scriptures is the fact that, first, the Gentiles will share many of the spiritual and economic blessings of the millennial reign of Christ. Second, they will, however, occupy a subordinate role to Israel (Isa 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 61:5-9). Third, as indicated previously, only Gentiles who are declared righteous by the King will be allowed entrance into the millennial kingdom at its beginning."
(v. 2) "In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains;
(v. 3) Many peoples [i.e., many types of peoples which inevitably must include Gentile nations, foreigners and not Jews, cp. Ex 21:8] will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. [Note that this is what a Gentile would say not a Jew]. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.' The Law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
(v. 4) He will judge between the nations [Notice: more than one nation] and will settle disputes for many peoples [Notice: more than one type of people, i.e., race].
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
[This condition of peace has not yet occurred yet so is yet future and speaks of our Lord's millennial kingdom rule]
"He [the Messiah, Jesus Christ, (v. 13)] was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom [comprised of all peoples, nations and men of every language] is one that will never be destroyed."
(v. 10) " 'Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,' declares the LORD [speaking of His millennial kingdom rule].
(v. 11) Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become My people [in the sense of being believers and in His will]. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty [God the Father] has sent Me [the Messiah, the LORD Jesus Christ] to you."
(v. 20) "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Many peoples [i.e., foreigners, non-Jews, cp. Ex 21:8, same word, (Strong #5971) which is translated as strange nation or foreigner, i.e., non-Jews] and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come [speaking of our Lord's millennial kingdom rule],
(v. 21) and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.'
[Note that this has not happened yet so is yet future and speaking of the millennial rule]
(v. 22) And many peoples [Strongs #5971, non-Jews, i.e., Gentiles, foreigners] and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat Him.
(v. 23) This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "
[So all Jews will be highly respected by Gentile peoples of all nations as God's mortal human representatives of God on earth during our Lord's millennial rule]
(v. 16) "Then the survivors from all the nations [after our Lord's judgment of the nations, (Mt 25)] that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
(v. 17) If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain.
(v. 18) If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain.
(v. 19) This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles."
So we see in these many passages that there must be a literal physical kingdom on earth. There is no way that you can honestly read these passages and apply them all to the spiritual Church.
Other evidence of a premillennial return of Jesus
The Feasts of Israel show that the return is premillennial.
There are seven feasts for Israel. They are called holy convocations (holy rehearsals).
All the feasts show a fulfillment by Jesus. So far only the three spring feasts have been completely fulfilled in the order they were observed. The feast of Pentecost bridges the spring and fall feasts. The fall feasts will be fulfilled in order.
The spring feasts are: (fulfilled)
Passover - The crucifixion
Unleavened bread - The burial
First fruits - The resurrection
The feast in-between spring and fall: (now)
Pentecost - The giving of the new covenant
The fall feasts are: (future)
Feast of Trumpets - The beginning of the day of the Lord
Day of atonement - When Israel mourns for the Messiah that they have pierced
Tabernacles - The King begins his kingdom age
The ancient Jewish wedding shows us that the return of Jesus is premillennial
The whole process of the ancient Jewish wedding shows us that God's plan for the Church is premillennial:
The groom goes to bride's house and is betrothed to the bride (the faithful on the earth)
He pays the purchase price (His blood)
He returns to his father to prepare a place for the bride (I go to prepare a place for you)
Later the Groom comes for the bride (Rapture)
He takes her to his father's house and gives her gifts where she is adorned and prepared for the wedding (bema judgment where Jesus gives the Church its crowns)
The wedding takes place before the father and the witnesses (in heaven)
The wedding feast takes place (on earth with guests of the bride and groom)
Picture stories in the Bible gives us a premillennial message
Hosea's wife is a picture of Israel. She was a divorced harlot and Hosea was told to go and retrieve her. If this is a picture of the Church as some say, then when was the Church ever divorced? One of the names of her children had the meaning "Not my people" but the name of the child was changed when Hosea's wife returns, to "My People". It is clear that this prophetic story is all about Israel and it shows a premillennial message that natural Israel will be restored.
Even in this story it says that David's throne would be unoccupied for a period of time: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim" (Hos 3:4)
In the story of Joseph and his brothers in scripture (Joseph is a type of Christ with over 100 similitudes between the story of Joseph and Jesus), Joseph did not reveal himself to Israel on their first visit but he did reveal himself on the second visit after a period of anguish for Israel (Jacob).
These examples are not alone. There are other scriptures with similitudes that point to a premillennial post judgment return of the Savior.
Distinctions between the wife of Jehovah and the bride of Christ:
In the Bible, Israel is represented as the WIFE OF JEHOVAH, whereas the Church is represented as the BRIDE OF CHRIST. The relationship of Israel as the Wife of Jehovah to God her Husband undergoes six distinct stages through which this relationship develops.
Stage One: The marriage contract Deut. 5:1-3; 6:10-15; 7:6-11 and basically the whole book of Deut. Other prophets looked at this covenant relationship as a marriage contract, i.e., Ezekiel 16:8.
Stage Two: The Great Adultery Jeremiah 3:1-5,20; 31:32 and Ezekiel 16:15-34 and Hosea 2:2-5
Stage Three: the separation Isaiah 50:1
Stage Four: the divorce Jer. 3:6-10
Stage Five: the punishment Ezekiel. 16:35-43 & 16:58-59; Hosea 2:6-13 Although God has a long program of punishment for Israel's sins, throughout the period of punishment there is a continual call to repentance, Jer. 3:11-18. To this day Israel is still in the fifth stage of her relationship with Jehovah, her Husband.
Stage Six: The Remarriage with Restored Blessings new marriage contract Jer. 31:31-34 (commonly referred to as New Covenant) see also Ezekiel. 16:60-63 & Isa. 54:1-8 & Isa. 62:4-5 & Hosea 2:14-23
The wife of Jehovah and the bride of Christ are different because the wife of Jehovah represents God's relationship with a natural chosen race on earth. The bride of Christ is the spiritual creation that Jesus begun for all people of faith. She is still a bride because she is not yet His wife in marriage. The information above is not saying that those identified as the wife of Jehovah cannot be part of the body of Christ. Jesus and Jehovah are the same. It is only saying that each woman that is represented plays a distinct role.
*Note - (Some of the arguments I use below were obtained from the old "theology forum discussion news group". I give thanks to a man named Jim for the research he did for the arguments he presented to the forum. Also, some of the concepts I used were presented in Dr. John F. Walvoord's book "Prophecy", although what I used from this book is usually not verbatim. The Millennial Kingdom quote is verbatim but it was quoted by the man named Jim as an argument against amillennialism.)
Is the Church now Israel?
Amillenniall theology says the Church is now Israel because natural Israel has been cut off but scripture says differently:
Romans 11:25 - Paul says:
".... Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the gentiles come in…"
Who is Israel here? The church? No, the church has experienced no such hardening or blindness. The believing remnant of Jews within the church? No, they are in the church because they have believed. This statement can only be understood if it is seen that the unbelieving nation of Israel is in view.
In v.26 - Paul says:
"And so (at the fullness of the Gentiles) all Israel WILL be saved, …"
Who is Israel here? The church or the believing Jewish remnant within the church? No, the members of the church whether Jew or gentile are saved ALREADY. This verse points to an Israel who will only be saved in the future. Who are they? The nation of Israel currently (at the time of Paul's writing as well as today) existing in a state of unbelief towards the gospel.
In v. 27- Paul points to the prophetic promises of the Old Testament :
"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins".
Whether the verse points to the Messiah's first coming or second coming makes no difference. The issue is not which coming is in view, but what the Messiah will do with Jacob (Israel). The verse says that he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob and take away their sins. It does not say that He will begin with Israel, and then go elsewhere, but that He will accomplish these things with Israel. These things have not yet been accomplished and therefore are yet future. The verse still refers to the same subject that Paul began the discourse with back in vs 25 - the unbelieving nation of Israel.
In order to understand the importance of holding to the distinction between Israel and the Church, look at how this relates to an understanding of the Abrahamic and the New Covenant.
When God came to Abraham, He promised Abraham that He would give him a specified land and make a great nation of him (Gen. 12:1-3). The land was further identified in Gen. 15:18 as being bounded by the river of Egypt and the River Euphrates. It was a land said to be inhabited by specific ethnic, political groups: "the Kenites, the Kenesites, and the Kadmonites; the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Rephaim; the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites." The description clearly establishes the land as a specific piece of real estate occupied at the one time in history by various pagan tribes. This land promise was never completely fulfilled in the Old Testament. The Land changes prophesied in Issiah 35:1-2 Zech 14:4 14:8-11 have never taken place. Unless God is to go back on His word, or unless He reinterprets the meaning of this (which amounts to the same thing) in the New Testament, this must be fulfilled.
Non-dispensationalists cannot adequately explain the temple in Ezekiel 40:1-46:24. The temple description is like none in the past due to its great size, and spiritualizing the passage does not explain the reasons for the great detail. The Temple is obviously built on earth in a future period of time on earth.
Some amillennial theology says all this is not to be taken as literal. The claim is that because of Israel's hardness of heart, the Church has replaced Israel, and the land promised by the Abrahamic Covenant is a reference to heaven. They support this by referring to Heb. 11:16 where it is said that Abraham looked for a heavenly city. However, this heavenly city cannot be equated with the land promise for that would mean that heaven had been occupied at one time by those pagan tribes, which is absurd. Also, the specific boundary descriptions imply an earthly real estate. This means that since this promise has not been fulfilled, its fulfillment is yet future, and a return of national, ethnic, regenerated Israel, to the land, must be anticipated.
Even though the Church shares in the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant by inheriting the promise of justification by faith (Gal 3:6-9) and may dwell in the land alongside Israel in the Millennial Kingdom, this does not mean they have replaced Israel. To assert this is to assert that no one in the Old Testament correctly understood the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. This would suggest that the Messianic expectations of Mary and other believers at the first coming of Christ were completely erroneous. They might have had confusions, but Jesus never corrected their fundamental expectations of a literal, physical, kingdom of Israel in the land.
What about the New Covenant promised to Israel?
The New Covenant also generates a tremendous amount of discussion as its relation to Israel and the Church is investigated. It is absolutely clear from the context of the covenant in Jer. 31:31-33 that the covenant as prophesied was to be "with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." The context shows that Israel was about to be judged by the Babylonian invasion and captivity. In the midst of this the Lord speaks and gives them hope. He has not deserted them. He will make a new covenant with them, not like the old one, but a new one whose provisions will include a change of heart, the indwelling Spirit of God, and the internal knowledge of God's law in such a way that they will be "My people." Any interpretation of this passage that applies it to the Church in a way that its application in the context of Jeremiah is not realized negates this promise.
In the New Testament, Jesus, the night before He went to the cross, as He remembered the Passover with His disciples, reinvested the cup of wine with new meaning. He said, "This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood." (Luke 22:20) His death on the cross was the sacrifice that established the New Covenant. Further, in 2 Cor. 3:6, Paul states that he is a minister of the New Covenant. The writer of Hebrews in the eighth chapter also applies the New Covenant to the Church.
Does that mean that the Church is the heir of the New Covenant blessings in place of Israel? That is extremely difficult to uphold for at least two reasons. First, a number of Old Testament passages that are clearly New Covenant in context, (i.e., Joel 2:28.) have not been fulfilled literally and await the coming Day of the Lord for that fulfillment. It will be then, the "after these things" of Joel 2:28, that Israel as a redeemed nation, will enter into New Covenant blessing. Second, to apply the New Covenant exclusively to the Church, where there is neither Jew nor Greek, totally negates the specific statement in Jeremiah that the covenant would be made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. The Church clearly benefits from the New Covenant, not as a replacement for Israel, but joined into the place of blessing alongside of Israel. The way in which the covenant was prophesied to be fulfilled for Israel will still take place, but this does not exclude additional, unmentioned application of the covenant to the Church.
Amillennialists make the rapture and the second coming the same event.
The rapture of the Church is not the same as the second coming. In the rapture the Church moves from earth to heaven and in the second coming Jesus, with a great host, moves from heaven to earth. The rapture happens in the twinkling of an eye, in the second coming every eye will see Him. The rapture has no signs but the second coming is preceded by many signs as given in Matthew 24 and Revelation. The post tribulation view of the rapture is just not borne out by scripture. Matthew 24 indicates that the second coming will occur after a period of great tribulation (the Day of the Lord). Paul said the great falling away, the man of sin being revealed, and the removal of the restrainer must happen before the Day of the Lord (2 Th 2-8). In Revelation the martyred are raised from the dead after the second coming. This would not be necessary if they had already met the Lord in the air at His coming (See my article on the Rapture for more information).
Can the world judgments be fulfilled in obscure past history?
Bible prophecy says that there will be a final world kingdom that will bring in judgment on the world. This government will sign a seven-year peace covenant with Israel that will be broken in the middle. Scripture indicates that this will bring in the worst time of trouble that this world has known or ever will know. The account of this period can be found in Daniel and Revelation.
Amillennialists cannot give a adequate explanation for these prophecies that are also supported by many other scriptures. They attempt to spiritualize it or find fulfillment in the past for which there is no textual/historical justification. These rationalizations fall woefully short and those who try to spiritualize these scriptures cannot even agree among themselves what these scriptures mean.
Scripture does not support the arguments of those who want to ignore or explain away the literal character of the tribulation. John, in the book of Revelation, told us what he saw and heard. What John saw may be open to interpretation but what He heard is not.
God revealed to Jeremiah that He would make a new covenant with Israel. (Jer 31:31-34) and it would be specifically with Israel and Judah. According to Jeremiah, the new covenant will be fulfilled after Israel's tribulation (30:5-7;31:1-7,11-14) when the people have returned to the land (30:1-4;31:8-10). When we consider all the provisions of the new covenant with Israel we can see that it cannot be fulfilled until Christ comes and establishes His millennial kingdom.
The scriptures define a literal future seven-year tribulation
Daniel and Revelation tells us that there will be periods of time of "1,260 days", "42 months", and "time, times, and half of time", all periods equal 3 1/2 years. Jesus, quoting Daniel in Matthew Chapter 24, authenticated that the prophecies are literal events about the end of the age. Daniel tells us that a covenant would be set up with the many for one week of years (7 years) and in the middle of this covenant the abomination that makes desolate would begin. Jesus defined this period of time as the worst time of trouble the earth would ever experience. It is also know as the "Day of the Lord" by other prophets in scripture.
Revelation 11:2 And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Revelation 13:5 and there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given to him authority to continue forty and two months.
It is clear from other scriptures that the person who makes the seven year covenant is the man of sin also known as the Beast or Antichrist. It is he that breaks the covenant and persecutes the remnant of Israel and the followers of Jesus.
Rev 13:5 and there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given to him authority to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth for blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, even them that dwell in the heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.
8 And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain.
The week of years that Daniel spoke of is the same week as he gives in his other prophecy where Daniel says "70 weeks of years is decreed for thy people and Jerusalem" (Israel - not the Church). Sixty-nine of those weeks were fulfilled to the exact date at the crucifixion of Jesus. Daniel said that after 69 weeks of years the anointed one would be cut off. Jesus fulfilled the 69 weeks of years prophecy at His death. There therefore remains one week of years left for the people of Israel to completely fulfill this prophecy. This is the literal seven year covenant that Daniel told us about in another prophecy. It is also the same period that Revelation further defines with its statements of 1,260 days for the two witnesses plus 42 months for the time of God's wrath. For a complete explanation about the prophecy of Daniel's 70 weeks and the timeline of fulfillment see the following website: http://www.truthnet.org/dan70.html.
What are the amillennial arguments for retaining this theology?
The arguments come from their theology that either takes the position that the Church has replaced Israel or that says that all believers are Israel and Israel is the Church. They quote scripture from the New Testament that looks good on the surface but it usually requires reading their theology into what the author really said. They use the New Testament to reinterpret Old Testament passages and then they apply these passages to the Church.
One argument they use is from tradition. They say since the Church had this position for over 1,500 years that means it must be correct. It does not seem to be of concern to them that the Roman Catholic Church had other incorrect doctrines during this period that were later found to be wrong in the light of scripture. They fail to comprehend that the Bible was not in the hands of the common people in this period and that theology was dictated to them by the same wolves in sheep's clothing that Paul warned about. Reformed theology only came about in the last four centuries and much of this theology even today has still not removed other errors that were incorporated in the Church in the previous 1,500 years.
In recent history "True Christianity" was increasingly premillennial (until the postmodern Laodicean heresies)
Mass production of the Bibles has allowed the common man to examine scriptures without interpretation from theologians and ingrained theologies. This has allowed a normal reading of the prophetic scriptures to become more popular. This had to some degree restored the early Christian belief of a premillennial and pre-tribulation return of Jesus Christ for His Church with the literal fulfillment of the vast amount of prophetic scriptures.
Those main line liberal churches that hold church authority, tradition, and theology over scripture cannot endure these common literal interpretations of the prophetic scriptures and they continue to keep their membership in darkness with traditional but unscriptural theology. This is not hard to achieve since the majority of their members are only Christian by tradition and culture anyway. Nevertheless, the truth is being found out by those who read the Bible for themselves, those who read Christian books, and those who listen to Christian music.
The churches that teach the literal interpretation of prophetic scripture like many of the Bible churches are seeing growth in numbers of fruitful Christians while the amillennial churches are generally in decline spiritually, numerically, and in good works. Many of these amillennial churches have now taken a huge step into apostasy by picking and choosing which scriptures are inspired or by further allegorization of even non prophetic scripture.
There recently has been a resurgence in post millennial theology see my article on the Seeker-Friendly church growth movement and Dominion Theology). It is debatable if the majority of these postmillennial Laodicean kingdom of the flesh dwellers can even be considered part of the true Church. What we really have here is the departure from the faith that was foretold by the Holy Spirit (1 Ti 4:1)
All theology has error but amillennial theology is in greater error
Like all theology there may be some errors in dispensational theology but dispensational teaching is correct when it says that promises to natural Israel cannot be spiritualized and then fulfilled by the Church and when it says that prophetic passages in scripture need to be taken in a normal literal sense.
The scripture supports the concept that the Church finds fulfillment in Christ in this present age of grace. Israel because of unbelief will not find fulfillment in the Messiah until the millennial age. Those who take the plain reading of scripture and spiritualize it to support their theology do it to support their theology. Those who say the prophecies of Daniel, Ezekiel, the other Old Testament prophets, Psalms, and Revelation should be spiritualized violate literary rules of normal language and communication. They do not use common sense and logic. What they teach, robs the prophets of their prophecies and makes important scriptures about what God said would happen in the future meaningless mystical fluff.
Even modern events should wake us up to the fact that prophecy is being fulfilled in our generation. We see Israel returning to "the land" and being surrounded by hostile nations with the stage being set just as the prophets foretold. Most of this website is dedicated to education about world trends that indicate Bible prophecy will most likely be fulfilled in this prophetic generation.
There is one very revealing fact about amillennialism, (and it is agreed upon by all). You cannot from a plain normal reading of scripture support the amillennial position. Amillennialism can only be supported by spiritualizing prophetic passages and that is their error.
All Christians should do as Jesus taught in his example of how to pray "Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" This kingdom that Jesus told us to pray for is detailed in numerous passages including Revelation 20, Isaiah 65, and Ezekiel 40-48.
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