Friday, December 3, 2010

If this is the kingdom...

Amillennialism is the view that what the world is experiencing right now is Christ's Kingdom.  They believe that it came to earth at Pentecost (Acts 2) and continues for an indefinite period of time (so far almost two millennia) until the final judgment and the ultimate eternal state.

While I agree that Christ is the King of King's and Lord of Lord's, I disagree completely with the view that this is or could be His kingdom.  But my disagreement goes deeper.  I don't believe that there is any biblical support for the idea that this should be the kingdom.

For one thing, what we have been experiencing for the past 2000 years in no way conforms to the Biblical portrayal of Christ's Kingdom.  This is a blog, not a book, so I can't go into every detail.  But consider just three examples.
  1. The Lord Himself reigns over the earth with a rod of iron. (Psalm 2:9; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15) Do the last 2000 years look to you like it has been strictly controlled by Christ?  Pardon me for saying so, but if this is the best He can do, it isn't very impressive.  Just think of the horrible wretched things that have transpired over the past 2000 years! 
  2.  During the Kingdom a person who lives one hundred years will be considered a youngster. (Isa. 65:20)  Certainly it isn't true of our world so far.  People who live to be one hundred right now are considered old everywhere on earth.  This text cannot be talking about the eternal state, because at that point there will be no new births and no more death.
  3. During the Kingdom the world will be free of predation - the lion lays down with the lamb, etc. (Is 11:6; 65:25)  There will be no war - the implements of war will be turned to peaceful purposes, "they will beat their swords into plowshares," etc.  (Is 2:4; Mic 4:3)  Certainly not the world in which we live at this point.
Of course the amillennialists spiritualize the texts I've cited and many others.  They explain them away as hyperbole.  But why?  Do they believe Christ is not ABLE to establish an earthly kingdom?  Do they think that this is IMPOSSIBLE for God?  I think they have their cart before their exegesis.  They first posit that this age IS the kingdom, then they interpret Scripture in whatever fashion is necessary to make it fit the circumstances.

A second problem I have with amillennial teaching is that the Bible makes very plain statements about a MILLENNIAL (1000 year) Kingdom ruled directly by Christ.  Revelation 20 speaks of 1000 years (a millennium) no less than six times in as many verses.  At the beginning of that 1000 years and for its duration, Satan is bound and removed from any influence in the world (vv.2-3).  At the beginning of the 1000 years, the redeemed dead are resurrected and work for Christ in his kingdom (v.4).  The rest of the dead (not redeemed) are not resurrected until after the 1000 year period (v.5).  The resurrected redeemed people reign with Christ for 1000 years (v.6).  At the end of 1000 years Satan is released for a little while (v.7).
  1. Amillennialist would say this is figurative language for a "long time."  But why not just say "a long time?"  Why all the specifics of when it begins, how long it lasts, what happens during the time, and what happens when it is over?  There is no compelling reason to dismiss the 1000 years as figurative.  In fact, it seems to be very specific, to be taken literally.  Repetition is usually a device that emphasizes.
  2. This 1000 year period is completely unlike the period in which we live.  Satan is currently alive and well and is deceiving the nations as I write.  There are no world leaders or government officials who are resurrected from the dead and now are reigning for Christ.
Frankly, if the amillennialists were correct, the whole book of Revelation - with the possible exception of chapter 21 would be pointless.  According to them, chapter 20 is now and all of the judgments, etc. of the previous 19 chapters must have happened before.  Some believe that they are figures for the Roman destruction of Israel that culminated in the destruction of the temple in AD 70.  So what kind of message could it possibly have held for the churches of AD 95 when it was written?  Instead of being a revelation of future events (which it explicitly claims to be) it is just a colorful memory of what has already transpired????

A third reason I reject amillennialism is that it suggests that Christ's rule in His Kingdom is not absolute.  Every Biblical portrayal of Christ's kingdom is that it is absolute - Jesus is the King and the contest is over.  But if this current period is Christ's kingdom, then He shares dominion with Satan.
  1. Individual believers are saved out of Satan's dominion and into the dominion of Christ. If this were Christ's Kingdom, how could Satan still be " the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who NOW works in the sons of disobedience?" (Eph. 2:1-3; Col 1:13)
  2. Believers in this world are "strangers and pilgrims" because their citizenship is in a different kingdom (that is evidently somewhere else.) (Eph 2:12, 19; Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 2:11)
  3. Believers are instructed by the apostles to pray, "Let Thy kingdom come." If the kingdom was already here, it seems strange to suggest that we should still be praying for it to come. (Matt 6:10; Luke 11:2)
No, no, no... I believe that Christ is the King - and that He will literally return to the earth to reign as King - first for a 1000 year period, then for eternity, just like the Bible says in plain language.  That is why the apostles instructed us to keep looking for His coming.  The period we are in is NOT the Kingdom.  We don't know how long this period will last.  All we know is that Jesus is coming and we should keep watching for Him.
(1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 NKJV) For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(Titus 2:11–13 NKJV) ¶ For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

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