Amillenialism & Revelation

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  • Amillenialism & Revelation

    by Benjamin L. Merkle

    Interpreting the book of Revelation from an amillennial perspective has a long history in the Church and, in fact, has been the predominant eschatological position of Christianity since the time of Augustine (though it was not called “amillennialism” until more recent times).

    It is also a position many Baptists have embraced, including Hershey Davis, W. T. Conner, Herschel Hobbs, Edward McDowell, H. E. Dana, Ray Summers and James Leo Garrett. Indeed, some have claimed it was the dominant view of Southwestern Seminary from the 1930s–1990s. Even John Walvoord (a dispensational premillennialist) admits, “The weight of organized Christianity has largely been on the side of amillennialism” (Millennial Kingdom, 61).

    The amillennial view of Revelation affirms that the 1,000-year binding of Satan refers to the period between the two advents of Christ. Two items should be noted about this interpretation. First, it recognizes that Revelation contains figurative or symbolic imagery typical of prophetic or apocalyptic literature. This means that the images are not to be taken literally, although they point to literal events and realities (e.g., the dragon John sees is not to be taken literally, but the dragon represents Satan who is real).

    So, although the angel coming down from Heaven in Revelation 20 is pictured as having a literal chain to bind Satan and a literal key to lock him up, these symbols relate to us God’s intention to limit Satan’s influence on the world. This binding is said to last 1,000 years. If the chain, key and prison are symbolic pictures, then it is likely that the 1,000 years is also symbolic and represents a certain period of time. Second, John tells us that Satan is bound “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3). Thus, Satan’s influence is not completely removed, but is specifically tied to his ability to deceive the nations. In contrast to the Old Testament era, when nations were living in darkness oblivious to God’s special revelation, now the Gospel is being taken to all the nations. This will result in people from every tribe, language, people and nation being represented before the throne of God (Rev. 5:9).

    One of the strengths of the amillennial approach is that it is Gospel-centered. That is, it views the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ as the center of redemptive history. Because of His work on the cross and subsequent resurrection, Jesus has conquered death, defeated Satan and now reigns in Heaven waiting until all His enemies will be put under His feet. Thus, at His first coming Jesus defeated Satan by binding “the strong man” in order to “plunder his house” (Matt. 12:29).

    During His ministry, Jesus said He “saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven,” which was symbolic of his fall from power (Luke 10:18). The author of Hebrews informs us that the incarnation of the Son was necessary so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Similarly, the apostle John states, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus was able to commission His disciples by stating that “all authority in heaven and on Earth” had been given to Him (Matt. 28:18). Thus, the decisive battle took place at the cross and resurrection where Satan’s ultimate defeat was sealed. Indeed, he is still a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he is a lion on a leash (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

    The book of Revelation offers the believer in Christ amazing confidence and hope. It is not simply a book about the future, but about how knowing the future affects us today. The apostle John was given this incredible vision to give comfort and hope to persecuted Christians in Asia Minor by letting them know the outcome of history—that Satan’s final doom is certain, and that God will vindicate His people. The message of Revelation is that Christ is the reigning and returning King who rules over all creation—including Satan and his forces. Difficult times are sure to come, but in the end, Christ and His people are given the victory.

    A missionary once asked some persecuted believers in a third world country which book of the Bible was their favorite. They responded, “Revelation!” Somewhat surprised by their response, the missionary asked them why they cherished this book above the others. They quickly added, “Because God wins in the end.” The book of Revelation offers encouragement for the believer, especially in times of hardship and trial. Even though life may be difficult now, the result is assured—God wins in the end. Christ is the One Who will come triumphantly to once and for all defeat His enemies and reign with His people. The victory belongs to the Lord!

    Source: Amillenialism & Revelation | Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

  • #2
    Excellent input. I also believe the 1000 years is symbolic. There are a number of ways it could be a symbolic number but I do like your explanation.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by CDF47 View Post
      Excellent input. I also believe the 1000 years is symbolic. There are a number of ways it could be a symbolic number but I do like your explanation.
      Hello CDF47,

      I haven't yet welcome you to the forum but lemme do so now. Welcome to Christforums! I have been enjoying your post and responses. Hope to grow our online relationship in the present and time to come!

      As an Amillennialist I believe that 1000 is a symbolic number. I think it is defined as a "time of completion". All I know is that with each passing year and many false predictions by the other camps Amillennialism gains more credibility and traction.

      As to why I am an Amillennialist, lets just say I think it's the most accurate when it comes to Revelation. It took me months before reading Revelation to understand exactly how to read the book. For example, this is from my findings during which time I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out the best hermeneutic for Revelation:

      The opening words of Revelation should be understood as a largely symbolic book. Revelation 1:1 is an allusion to Daniel 2:28, 29, 45 confirms that the word sēmainō means "symbolize" in John's work. John uses the word sēmainō to indicate the manner of God's revelation to him: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known sēmeion by sending his angel to his servant John." The verbs cognate noun, "sign" sēmeion identifies visible symbols in Rev. 12:1, 3; 15:1, and the counterfeit miracles performed by the false prophet Rev. 13:13, 14; 16:14; 19:20.

      John likely had in mind the wider context of Daniel 2. In Daniel 2:45 of the Septuagint, the word sēmainō is used to describe the symbolic vision experience by King Nebuchadnezzar: "A great God has made known to the king what be after this.:" This refers to a dream vision that the king had. Daniel tells the king that this vision was symbolic. The interpretation of the dream shows that the dream is not be taken literally in terms of statue and its various parts; rather, the statue signifies or symbolizes something else. In Rev. 1:1 John deliberately uses Daniel's language of "making known" from Daniel 2:45 to indicate that what God has been showing him is likewise almost entirely symbolic. Most of the things that are about to unfold are not to be taken literally (lions, lambs, beasts, women, etc) but each refers symbolically to another reality or set of realities.

      John's use of symbols is very similar to Jesus' use of parables, which itself is rooted in the visions, language and signs of the OT prophets. The parables of Jesus served the same purpose as the language and signs of the OT prophets: He used them to get the attention of His believing listeners who had grown spiritually sleepy and might not have paid attention otherwise. But for unbelievers, parables generally made no sense, and rejection of the parabolic message was simply a further evidence of the hardening of the heart that refuses to listen to God.

      Also note, Revelation uses an idea or phrase referring to a person, place, or event from an OT text. These simple allusions may be condensed or expanded, and are obviously applied to different historical situations, but these allusions most always carry over an essential focus of the OT text such that there is a clear continuity between the OT and the book of Revelation. For example, Babylon in the OT, which deceived and persecuted God's people, comes to be representative for the evil world system, which also deceives and persecuted God's people. And just as Israel was in exile in Babylon, so true Israel, the church, lives in exile in the Babylonian world system.

      One final point to note concerns the way in which John takes OT references and universalizes them. What in the OT is applied to Israel is given a much wider sense by John. For instance, God gave Israel the title "kingdom of priests" Exodus 19:6, but John applies this to the worldwide church Rev. 1:6, 5:10. When Zech. 12:10 states that the tribes will mourn over him, the reference is to Israel, but John widens it to all the tribes of the earth Rev. 1:7.

      The Rapture -Christforums
      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by William View Post

        Hello CDF47,

        I haven't yet welcome you to the forum but lemme do so now. Welcome to Christforums! I have been enjoying your post and responses. Hope to grow our online relationship in the present and time to come!

        As an Amillennialist I believe that 1000 is a symbolic number. I think it is defined as a "time of completion". All I know is that with each passing year and many false predictions by the other camps Amillennialism gains more credibility and traction.

        As to why I am an Amillennialist, lets just say I think it's the most accurate when it comes to Revelation. It took me months before reading Revelation to understand exactly how to read the book. For example, this is from my findings during which time I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out the best hermeneutic for Revelation:


        God bless,
        William
        Thank you for the kind welcome. I have been enjoying a number of your posts as well.

        Some great points on Daniel and Revelation. Those happen to be two of my many favorite books of the Bible. I enjoy studying those books and trying to figure out the meanings of the prophecies and how they apply to the past, present, and future. Those books are very interesting. I use the following symbols to help understand those books:

        Bible Symbols Chart

        The website is an SDA site but I am not an SDA. I am a non-denominational Christian. The symbols seem to be accurate though.

        God bless you as well and thanks again.
        Comment>
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