Simplicity – Amillennialism and the Two Ages


Patek Philippe & Co. watch, Rama, 15 April 2007 (according to Exif data), Wikipedia.

Patek Philippe & Co. watch – Rama – 4/15/07


“The Last Day”

John 6:38-40

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

“This Age [Time]” and “the Age to Come”

Luke 18:28-30

28 Peter said, “Behold, we have left [h]our own homes and followed You.” 29 And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”


Thoughts

I’m posting this because, though Amillennialism is probably new and strange to many Bible-believing Christians it deserves a hearing by those who love God’s Word. It has simplicity and clarity, and gives prominence to Jesus’ statements in the Gospel of John, the prominence that ought to be given. I pray this gives you something of value from God’s Word even if you disagree. 


A Present or Future Millennium?

[The link in the title is to the page “From the Archives of Modern Reformation.” There, you’ll find this title with an embedded link to a pdf file. Using Windows 10 the pdf doesn’t open on the web but asks to be saved to your computer.] 

By Dr. Kim Riddlebarger

Senior pastor, Christ Reformed Church, Anaheim, California 

Source: The Riddleblog | Devoted to Reformed Theology and Eschatology

“Without a doubt, most American evangelicals are firmly committed to premillennialism–the belief that an earthly millennial age of one thousand year’s duration will begin immediately after our Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Advent. Since premillennialism is so dominant in American church circles, many who encounter Reformed theology for the first time are quite surprised when they discover that all of the Protestant Reformers, as well as virtually the entire Reformed and Lutheran traditions (along with their confessions), with a few notable exceptions, are amillennial. Amillennialism is that understanding of eschatology which sees the millennium as the present course of history between the first and second Advents of our Lord (the age of the church militant), and not as a future golden age upon the earth as is taught in premillennialism and postmillennialism. In the case of both ‘pre’ and ‘post’ millennialism, the millennium is thought to be the age of the church triumphant, not the age of the church militant. . .”

“. . .Yet another problem encountered when discussing this subject is that there is often a great deal of heat without very much light. One prophecy pundit (Chuck Missler) once quipped that the people in heaven with the lowest IQ’s will be amillennial. Hal Lindsey goes so far as to label amillennialism as anti-Semitic, demonic and heretical. Jack Van Impe called A-millennialism (to use his characteristic emphasis upon the A) the greatest heresy in church history. When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to hear prophecy experts label amillennial Christians as theological liberals who were a bit embarrassed by the bold supernaturalism required to believe in a sudden and secret rapture. Furthermore, amillennial Christians are often accused of not taking the Bible literally and of teaching so-called ‘replacement theology.’

“The result of such rhetoric is that American Christians cannot help but be prejudiced by such unfortunate comments and many reject outright (without due consideration of the other side) the eschatology of the Reformers and classical Protestantism–an eschatology which is amazingly simple, Biblical, and Christ-centered. . .”

The article is a little over five pages single-spaced and very helpful in understanding the Bible’s teaching on the last things. 


 

Go read! Kim Riddlebarger on the Man of Sin


Dr. Riddlebarger’s article is the kind that involves “thinking along with the author.” 

Revelation 13

NASB
The Beast from the Sea

13 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.

Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.

It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.

The Beast from the Earth

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life. 15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.


666 and the Mark of the Beast

Kim Riddlebarger, The Riddleblog
From his book, Man of Sin: Uncovering the Truth About Antichrist (Baker, 2006)

 

In fact, the preoccupation with identifying just who it is, exactly, to whom this number refers creates an unfortunate tendency to downplay (or even ignore) the theological significance of this number.  What the number 666 represents is at least as significant as the beast’s human identity.  When John tells us that this is “man’s number,” he may even mean that this number does not refer to a specific individual such as Nero, but to a series of individuals who behave as Nero did.

As Beale points out, “The omission of the article in 13:18 indicates the general idea of humanity, not some special individual who can be discerned only through an esoteric method of calculation.  Therefore, in both verses anthropou [man] is a descriptive or qualitative genitive, so that the phrase here should be rendered ‘a human number’ (so RSV) or ‘a number of humanity.’  It is a number common to fallen humanity.” (Beale, Revelation, 724)

In light of the beast’s attempt to parody the redemptive work of Christ so as to receive the worship of the nations, the idea that this number is to be understood as the number of fallen humanity makes a great deal of sense.  If seven is the number of perfection, the number six comes close, but never reaches the goal.  

 


 

 

Ezekiel’s Temple Vision – The Non-literal or Spiritual View


The Book of Ezekiel

Chapters 40 through 48

NASB

Vision of the Man with a Measuring Rod

40 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of the Lord was upon me and He brought me there. 2 In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city. 3 So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway. 4 The man said to me, “Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see. . .”


 

Introduction

This post isn’t meant to cause dissension. It’s the result of questions I’ve had during discussions with bloggers I respect. They and other devout Christians believe in the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision during a literal Millennium. But, is the literal approach the best way to understand this vision? I’ve studied the literal approach to Ezekiel’s Temple in the respected Bible teachers Charles C. Ryrie and John F. Walvoord but have come to believe that a spiritual or symbolical approach is needed. I’m not baiting anyone and will welcome your comments without arguing with you. There are a few links within this post leading to articles and a book that present the literal view. Also, please note that this discussion isn’t about ongoing efforts in Jerusalem to build a Third Temple, by The Temple Institute, or how that might fit into future prophetic fulfilment.

A non-literal approach to this Old Testament prophecy and others doesn’t mean that I deny the future redemption of the Jewish people. May that never be! Please be assured that I believe the Bible clearly teaches that someday, maybe quite soon, the Jewish people will love and worship the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and that their newfound faith will indeed be “life from the dead.” 

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?  Romans 11:15

So then, returning to Ezekiel’s Temple – what is it? Is it a physical structure in which actual animal sacrifices will be offered someday? Here are several fairly brief treatments of this subject from a non-literal viewpoint.

File:Visionary Ezekiel Temple.jpg

The Visionary Ezekiel Temple plan drawn by the 19th century French architect and Bible scholar Charles Chipiez.


Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“God was to ‘dwell in this temple forever’ (43:7). This language can scarcely be predicated of a literal material Temple. It must be a figurative representation of something; for Jesus, in John 4:21-24, abrogated Temple worship; and in Heaven there will be no Temple (Revelation 21:22).”

John 4:21-24  

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Revelation 21:22

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.


Eschatology Q & A — What About Ezekiel’s Vision of the Temple (Ezekiel 40-48)?

Kim Riddlebarger

“. . . Revelation 21 presents Ezekiel’s vision in its consummated fulfillment.  In other words, John is given a vision of the same temple, but now from the vantage point of Christ’s death and resurrection and the dawn of the new creation – something which would have made no sense whatsoever to Ezekiel or his hearers.  As Beale points out (pp. 346-345)*, the new heavens and earth are now the holy of holies, as well as the new Jerusalem, and the new Eden.  On the last day, all creation becomes the temple of God.  The temple has been expanded (extended) from a building, to a city, to all of creation.

“This means that Ezekiel’s vision is a prophecy not of an earthly temple (although the prophet uses earthly language his readers could understand), but of an eschatological temple, depicted in its consummated form and unspeakable glory by John in Revelation 21-22.”

*G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

Jesus, the True Temple

Kim Riddlebarger

“When Jesus declared of himself, ‘I tell you, something greater than the temple is here,’ (Matthew 12:6) and when he told a Samaritan woman that he can give her ‘living water’ (John 4:10-14), we are given a major clue that the authors of the New Testament have reinterpreted the pre-messianic understanding of God’s temple in the light of the coming of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.”


Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible

Ezekiel 40

“. . . Now if we were to expect to find in the vision directions for the reenactment of the temple-ritual, this would be quite unaccountable. But if we view these selected rites in relation to the temple-building, and give to that building its true symbolic character, all is found to be just and harmonious. The vision is intended to depict the perpetual worship of the God of heaven in the Kingdom of Christ. To the mind of an Israelite the proper figure to represent this would be the temple and its services, with people, priest, and prince, each doing their fitting part. The most appropriate services to exhibit this worship would be those of continual recurrence, in which day by day, week by week, month by month, prayer and praise ascended to the throne of heaven; namely, the Morning Sacrifice, the Sabbath and the New moon festival. Here we have the Israelite symbol of perpetual public adoration.

“This will also account for the absence of all mention of the high priest and his office. In the old dispensation the chief function of the high priest was the performance of the great Act, which typified the atonement worked by the sacrifice and death of Christ for the sins of the world. This atonement was effected once for all upon the Cross, and in the new dispensation Christ appears in the midst of His people as their Prince and Head, leading and presenting their prayers and praises day by day to His Father in heaven . . .”


Does Ezekiel describe a literal temple?

Doug Cox

Doug has gone home to be with the Lord, but his WordPress blog is still available.

“What was the reason for Ezekiel’s attention to detail? Perhaps it was intended to show, not that a literal temple was in view, but that everything in the spiritual temple is to be ‘measured,’ and compared against the standard of God’s word. Ezekiel gave the dimensions of the various parts of the temple in order to show that the temple of God, the church, is designed, and prepared, according to God’s purpose; it is well suited for its purpose, in every age. Nothing in it is out of proportion. Everything has its proper place. This spiritual meaning can be appreciated only if one’s mind has been freed from the chains and shackles of literalism. How could Whitcomb*, along with other dispensationalists, who view the temple of Ezekiel’s prophecy as a literal one, have missed noticing how frequently Ezekiel mentioned the word ‘measured,’ and words related to it? That the temple of God, which is the church, and everything in it will be ‘measured,’ is the key concept in Ezekiel’s prophecy. By a very simple interpretation, it means the saints, and their beliefs, and their works, will be compared against God’s word, which is the standard represented by the ‘reed,’ and the ‘line,’ and by which we will all stand or fall. To be opposed to God’s word is to be found ‘naked.’ That is, unclothed with the spiritual clothing that is provided for us by Christ.”

*John C. Whitcomb, The Millennial Temple of Ezekiel 40-48 (An Exercise in Literal Interpretation)

Why did Ezekiel describe a temple?

Doug Cox

“A temple is where people offer sacrifices to God. Some wonder why Ezekiel described an altar, and sacrifices, if his temple has to do with the Christian church, as those things have passed away; but in Hebrews we read, ‘We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.’ [Hebrews 13:10]

“In the New Testament, the saints are described as a temple. [Ephesians 2:20-22] They offer spiritual sacrifices. The sacrifices offered in Ezekiel’s temple must be types and figures of these spiritual offerings. Peter said, ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ [1 Peter 2:5]

“Some claim that in the millennium, animal sacrifices will be resumed, but that contradicts scriptures such as Isaiah 65:25, ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.’ How can animal sacrifices be offered, if nothing may be hurt there?

“Peter said the saints are ‘a royal priesthood,’ who ‘shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ [1 Peter 2:9]

“John said the saints who overcome will be made pillars in the temple. [Revelation 3:12] In his vision of the New Jerusalem, John saw no temple, but said ‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.’ [Revelation 21:22]. . .

“The spiritual temple, located in the promised land, is not an earthly, literal one. The land where it is located represents the ‘better country’ in Hebrews 11:16, ‘But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.’ It is the ‘place’ Jesus said he would prepare for his saints:

John 14:1-3

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


Top 5 Commentaries on the Book of Ezekiel, Keith Mathison, Ligonier Ministries

Helpful Definitions

Theopedia

Amillennialism

Amillennialism teaches that the thousand year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20:1-6 is symbolic of the current church age, rather than a literal future 1000 year reign. It contends that the period described in Revelation 20 was inaugurated (i.e. began) at Christ’s resurrection and will continue until His Second Coming. Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign. Also taught by amillennialism is that the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 has already occurred, and means that “he might not deceive the nations any longer” (Revelation 20:3) by preventing the spread of the gospel.

Anthony Hoekema, Amillennialism

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The Analogy of Faith and Biblical Theology

The analogy of faith is a Reformation principle for the interpretation of Scripture, which can be expressed as “Scripture interprets Scripture”. The fundamental principle of biblical theology is that of progressive revelation, which states that God reveals Himself in increasing measure throughout history, and that His revelation climaxes in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

As a result of these principles, we expect the New Testament to interpret to the Old, all the while showing us God, in Christ, more clearly.


Gateways of Ezekiel's Visionary Temple, as described in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 40-42, drawn as literally as possible by he dutch architect Bartelmeüs Reinders (1893-1979)

Gateways of Ezekiel’s Visionary Temple, as described in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 40-42, drawn as literally as possible by he dutch architect Bartelmeüs Reinders (1893-1979)