In the previous posts, I examined both premillennialism and postmillennialism. I specified that I found both views to be flawed and that they seem to miss major points of scripture. All the while, both views also had valid truths. The premillennial view specified that the Bible contains prophecies that will be fulfilled in the future, as well as the point that prior to Christ’s glorious appearing there will be tribulation. As made clear in the previous post (to read more about it click here), postmillennialism is accurate on the view of a non-literal thousand year reign, and the understanding that there were prophecies in Revelation and the Olivet Discourse that have already been fulfilled. Many who have studied eschatology understand this, which is precisely why they hold the third view.
The best way I can describe how amillennialism accents the other two views is through the wise words of Hannah Montana, “You get the best of both worlds.” (I am being sarcastic) Amillennialism is a culmination of all the pros from both previously examined eschatological views, forming what I believe to be the most biblically accurate view of eschatology. While recognizing the symbolism of Revelation 20:1-6, the view also recognizes the importance of the tribulation and persecution of Christians. I have only one flaw with amillennialism: the name. The name makes it seem as if amillennialists don’t believe in a millennium, rather than really believing that the millennium is realized and at hand. Other than that, I am a strong supporter of the amillennial view.
As hinted in my previous posts of eschatology, for a while I was a premillennial dispensationalist. This was mostly because of three reasons: 1) It was the only view I knew about, 2) Ministers I deeply admired, such as my grandfather, all held this view, and 3) Dispensationalists were regarded as people who took Scripture literally, so I obviously wanted to be associated with that group. This all changed when a friend of mine began conversing with me about eschatology. I told him about my beliefs which included the 7-years, the literal reign, and the pre-tribulation rapture that was gonna spare us from the great tribulation. Then, his follow up question really tested my view: “Where did you get that from scripture?” The honest truth, though painful to admit, was that none of my beliefs came from my study of the scriptures, but from the teachings of others.
Then, my friend recommended me to listen to an audio seminar from Steve Gregg entitled When Shall These Things Be? It was remarkable to hear a different take on the end times that was not built upon charts and speculations, but through the study of scripture. I came to find the overwhelming evidence to take the amillennial view under serious biblical consideration. What really sealed the deal in becoming an amillennialist for me was a book by Sam Storms called Kingdom Come. The book gave enough evidence to put away my prior view and recognize the significance of the amillennial view (I recommend that book to every believer by the way), and a strong resurgence to believe in covenant theology (a subject for a different time).
The Amillennial View
One of my favorite things about the amillennial view is the fact that there is no need for maps that seemed to come across as hodgepodge. Instead, it was much simpler and relied more on the contextual view of Scripture, rather than taking verses from various locations to form a view. The following beliefs are general views of amillennialism.
1) The thousand-year reign described in Revelation 20:1-6 is not a literal period of time, but rather a symbol. This Kingdom is even now at hand and among us. (Mark 1:15, the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy in Acts 2) This is so because Christ has become King and now rules over His throne even now, and it will be so until His glorious appearing. (Acts 2:34-36, Hebrew 10:11-13)
2) The church rules with Him as Christ has fulfilled the promise of the rebuilt temple. Christ specifically said that He would rebuild His temple in “three days”. (Amos 9:11-12, Acts 15:14-19) This had two meanings: 1) Christ was talking about His body, 2) He was referencing the prophecy that was made of a new covenant that would end all sacrifices and will be confirmed by the One who calls Himself God. (Daniel 9:24-27)
3) The last days are both future and present in the sense that we are living in the last days, but we are also expecting Christ to come back. This means that until Christ comes back, we are living in the last days. Romans 8:23 specifies that his generation was of the “firstfruits” of salvation, signifying that the last days will continue on. How long will it continue? Christ said that He would not return until the last of the elect was saved (no not the last of Israel, but the last of the predestined by God to be saved).
4) In Revelation 20:1-3, it talks of Satan’s capture, binding, and imprisonment for 1000 years. I believe this was fulfilled at the cross. Christ conquered sin in life and in His atonement, Christ conquered death through His resurrection, and Christ took dominion over the earth (Matthew 28:18). Christ then commanded us to proclaim the gospel to all people, signifying that Christ defeated the powers of Satan once and for all. Satan can now be compared to a dog that is chained in the front yard: he might bark, seem scary, and want to defeat His master, but He is not able to do so. Why? Because He is chained; He is bound. Satan can roam and tempt, but only to a degree, and not to his full abilities.
5) There will be a rapture and a great resurrection just as premillennialists believe, but it will not be a sign of the Kingdom coming, but rather the sign of judgement upon the earth and eternity being established. Satan will be completely wiped out, the martyrs will witness the judgment they have asked for, and the world will be punished for its sin. Then Christ will establish the new heaven and new earth in which we will dwell with Christ forever. Also, the rapture and resurrection will happen unitarily, rather separately as taught by the premillennialists.
6) Though not all amillennialists agree with the following point, I am one of those who believes the great tribulation did not end in 70 A.D. during the destruction of Jerusalem. It is made very clear in Revelation 7 that the 144,000 represent the elect of God throughout history. It is also mentioned that those who were a part of the 144,000 lived during the great tribulation. The idea that a great tribulation for believers already happened or will happen is incredibly insulting to the people who are presently being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. There are nations in which believers are persecuted and killed for Jesus, yet we are comfortable to speak of a coming tribulation or a tribulation that already occurred in western Christian culture. The authors of scripture intended to convey that Christians will always live during the great tribulation throughout history.
One can see why this view would be held by those who are not just theologians such as Augustine of Hippo, RC Sproul, J.I. Packer, John Calvin, etc., but also the common believer. It is biblical and simple. But the greatest thing about this eschatology is that it is not only trying to give an account of the personal future, or even the humble desire to know the future of the Church of God. Amillennialism begs to ask of God’s involvement with the world and its end. God is presented in amillennialism as the supreme conquerer of Satan, the merciful giver to the Church, and the sustainer of faith during great tribulation.
God will never forsake His people and neither will He allow us to separate over disagreements about eschatological views. Of course it is important to study the Bible to find out what plans God has for His glory in the future, but at the same time, we must not forget that the authors of those writings were intending to glorify Christ and illuminate Christ. Revelation, Daniel, and the Olivet Discourse was not just written so that we could figure out a formula of sorts to find out when Christ would return, but rather to see the Christ that is of the past, present, and future. May we seek to honor Him in all of our days and may we seek to live for His glorious Kingdom.
Soli Deo Gloria.