Arguing Against Amillennialism

Introduction

I really enjoy Q&A sessions, as they are not meant to become a debate. When someone asks an honest and open question, my first and prevailing thought is to give the most accurate and concise, streamlined answer, given my current abilities and understanding.

In 2011 a fellow blogger asked me several questions about the timeline of events occurring between tribulation-climax and millennium-end. During seminary, his professor taught the amillennial interpretation of scripture and now he wanted to understand alternate views. I learned so much while researching the answers to his questions and I am grateful he allowed me that rare opportunity. This article captures that conversation.

The following Wikipedia excerpt gives a brief description of amillennialism for readers unfamiliar with this topic.

Wikipedia entry on amillennialism:  “Amillennialism is the mainstream Christian end-times theology, named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus Christ will have a literal, thousand-year-long, physical reign on the earth. This is in opposition to premillennial and some postmillennial interpretations of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.   

In contrast, the amillennial view holds that the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age, (or more rarely, that it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70—see Preterism). 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 reign in the new heaven and new earth.”

For the record, I currently subscribe to the premillennial, mid-tribulation rapture view which is a slightly modified, but still premillennial, version of the stance I take in the following conversation. Based on my interpretation of scripture, I believe that Christ will literally return to earth after the great tribulation (his Second Coming) and rule, in person, for 1,000 years. After which, he will destroy the present universe and replace it with the New Heavens and New Earth.

I hope you receive good from the following conversation.

Todd


Talking With a Fellow Blogger

Andrew said:

Regarding Satan and Revelation 20, John wrote that he was bound in the sense that “he should not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3, 8-9). In the context of the book of Revelation, what does that mean?

Correct me if I am wrong but prior to Satan being bound in Revelation 20 he is able to assemble the nations against the saints. Once bound, he is no longer able to do so. Thus when we see him loosed in Revelation 20:7, he begins to assemble the nations to attack the saints once again (Rev. 20:8-9).

With this interpretation, is it possible that we are living in that thousand year period, the period in which Satan cannot assemble the nations to attack the saints (Revelation 20:2)?

If we are not living under that period in which Satan is bound, why aren’t the saints being attacked by the nations (Like Revelation 20:8-9)? How is it possible that the saints in America openly meet together without persecution from the nations if Satan is not bound?

Again, I am no scholar when it comes to Revelation so I might be missing something obvious. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights.

Todd said:

Andrew,

First, we need to look at two different scripture sections that mention a climactic battle between the nations of the earth and Israel:

1.      Battle One:  Zechariah 14, Revelation 19:11-21, and Revelation 20:1-3

2.      Battle Two:  Revelation 20:7-10

Zechariah 14:1-5 says that God will gather all the nations in war against Israel. Notice in this passage that the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled. In other words, the invading armies actually penetrate the very core of Israel. This particular passage also has a unique aspect to it. The saints, or holy ones, are not present before Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives and destroys the nations – they come with him. The other unique aspect mentioned in this passage is that out of the nations destroyed in that battle, there will be a surviving remnant. The text says that this remnant will go up year after year to worship the Lord, and if they do not God will not allow rain to fall on their geographic region. There is something very interesting about this particular section of the prophecy: it is speaking of those who attacked Israel in the preceding battle against Israel; they are not the redeemed saints, and therefore at this point, sin still exists.

Another passage of scripture that mentions a climactic battle between the nations of the earth and Israel is Revelation 20:7-10. This particular battle follows Satan’s release from his 1000 year imprisonment in the abyss, not the Lake of Fire, at which time he deceives and incites the nations into attacking the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Jerusalem). This battle and the ensuing aftermath differs in four ways from the one that occurs in Zechariah 14, Revelation 19:11-21, and Revelation 20:1-3. See the following comparison:

 

 

Battle of Zechariah 14; Revelation 19:11-21; Revelation 20:1-3 

Battle of Revelation 20:7-10

1

The invading armies of the nations penetrate Israel: “the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled…”. Then Jesus returns with his holy ones (the Saints, or raptured Christians) and destroys the invaders.

The invading armies of the nations do not penetrate Israel, but are instead instantly destroyed by Heavenly fire as soon as they launch their attack.

2

The Saints return to earth with Christ for his Second Coming.

The Saints and Jesus are already here, having previously returned to rule over the earth 1,000 years prior to this battle.

3

The invading nations are destroyed, except a remnant to repopulate the earth for Christ’s New Millennium kingdom.

The invading nations are utterly destroyed – no remnant exists after the battle, only the immortal saints and mortal believers.

4

This battle ends the Tribulation and ushers in the New Millennium:

1.  The Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire

2.  Satan is temporarily thrown into the abyss for 1,000 years

3.  Christ’s 1,000 year earthly reign begins

This battle ends this Creation and ushers in the New Heavens and New Earth:

1.  Satan is permanently thrown into the Lake of Fire

2.  The Great Throne Judgment takes place – the “one all do all” end of sin

3.  Death and Hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire

4.  God destroys present creation; the New Heavens and New Earth replace the old

So, to answer your first question – “Is it possible that we are living in that thousand year period, the period in which Satan cannot assemble the nations to attack the saints (Revelation 20:2)” – no it is not possible. Notice in Zechariah 14 that Jesus splits the Mount of Olives in half upon his physical arrival here on earth. That has yet to happen; the Mount of Olives is still fully intact. Secondly, there is no camp of the saints in Jerusalem today, as spoken of in Revelation 20:7-10. And thirdly, there is no annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem by the nations of the earth to worship the Lord, as also mentioned in Zechariah 14.

Regarding your second question – “If we are not living under that period in which Satan is bound why aren’t the saints being attacked by the nations (Like Revelation 20:8-9)? How is it possible that the saints in America openly meet together without persecution from the nations if Satan is not bound” – openly worshipping God in American churches is indeed permitted today. However, that is not the case in numerous countries around the world. Christian martyrs “watch groups” report that Christians are increasingly and more brutally persecuted and martyred everywhere around the globe. It is important to remember, though, that the only time Christians are persecuted across the board on a global basis is during the tribulation. Until that time, lawlessness and persecution gradually increases, and then reaches an ultimate climax with the arrival of the antichrist, signaling the removal of the restrainer. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, the spirit of lawlessness (or the spirit of the antichrist) was already present in Paul’s day. Paul said that even though lawlessness is prevalent, it does not have free reign until the restrainer is removed. After which time, the lawless one will be revealed and then slayed by the Holy breath of Christ in his Second Coming to earth – which happens only at the end of the tribulation.

If this were the 1,000 year period, the lawless one (the antichrist) would currently reside in his eternal home, the Lake of Fire, along with his false prophet. Furthermore, if this were the 1,000 year period, Jesus would already be physically present amongst the saints because of his Second Coming, and we would be enjoying glorified bodies here on earth.

I hope this helps.

 

Andrew said:

Todd,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and beliefs. I think I understand what they are but please allow me to ask a few questions so that I am clear on your convictions.

Do you believe that the prophecy found in Zechariah 14:1-5 will proceed the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3)?

In order for Zechariah 14:1-5 to harmonize with the belief that Satan is currently bound (Rev. 20:1-3) then the prophecy in Zechariah 14:1-5 would have had to have already occurred?

When do these prophecies from Zechariah 14:1-5 occur according to your convictions? What do you consider yourself according to Sabio’s charts?

http://triangulations.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/eschatology/

 

Todd said:

Andrew,

I hold to the position of pre-millennium, pre-tribulation rapture; not because I necessarily want to, or because I think I should, or because a governing church body insisted I believe it, but because that is what I conclude from my personal study of scripture. I know that sounds obvious, or maybe even a little arrogant, but please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I studied several years to determine if what I was taught is true or untrue. I cannot stand borrowed beliefs; I simply cannot.

Regarding your following questions:

Do you believe that the prophecy found in Zechariah 14:1-5 will proceed the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3)?

 

In order for Zechariah 14:1-5 to harmonize with the belief that Satan is currently bound (Rev. 20:1-3) then the prophecy in Zechariah 14:1-5 would have had to have already occurred?

 

When do these prophecies from Zechariah 14:1-5 occur according to your convictions?

I will address all three questions with one answer.

The prophecy events of Zechariah 14:1-5 will precede (come before) the prophecy events of Revelation 20: Satan is bound only after the battle of Zechariah 14 takes place. If Satan were bound, there would be peace on earth because according to both passages of scripture, Zechariah 14:9-21 and Revelation 20, Christ would be here in person reigning as king over all the earth, and the whole earth would be required without exception to worship Jesus Christ in person. That peace is clearly absent from the beginning to the latter half of Zechariah 14, and is also absent from the Millennium end to the conclusion of the Revelation 20 battle.

But you might say; is it not possible that the battles of Zechariah 14 and Revelation 20 are one and the same? No, they are not the same battle because in Zechariah 14 the invading nations penetrate to the core of Israel and murder scores of Israelis. In Revelation 20 Jesus destroys the invading nations outside the perimeter of Israel; they never get the chance to penetrate.

Then you might ask; is it possible that the armies do penetrate Israel and murder scores of its occupants in the battle of Revelation 20 (as they do in the battle of Zechariah 14), and that maybe the text for some reason just doesn’t mention it? No, that’s not possible because immortal beings cannot die, and only immortal beings can reign with Christ in the Camp of the Saints (immortals). The rapture occurs before the 1,000 year period – taking into account all interpretations of pre-millennium rapture timing. According to Paul, when we are gathered unto Christ at the end of the age, we will be instantly changed, shedding the mortal and taking on the immortal. And scripture explicitly says that when we are gathered unto Christ we will receive new bodies just like Jesus’ post resurrection, pre-ascension body and will therefore become immortal. By the time Revelation 20 comes along, we will have been immortal and reigning with Christ for 1,000 years.

So according to the previous argument, Satan is not bound during the battle of Zechariah 14; meaning, the following events occur in sequence:

1.  Battle of Zechariah 14 begins: invasion and capture of Jerusalem by the nations of the world.

2.  Second Coming of Christ accompanied by the Saints (holy ones); Christ destroys Israel’s attackers, putting an end to the battle of Zechariah 14

3.  Beast and false prophet thrown into the lake of fire; Satan bound in the abyss for 1,000 years

4.  Christ’s 1,000 year Millennial Reign on earth

5.  Satan’s release from the abyss to once again deceive the nations and gather them in war against Christ and his Camp of the Saints

6.  Battle of Revelation 20

7.  Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire

8.  The Great Throne Judgment

9.  New heavens and new earth

*Keep in mind, the battles of Zechariah 14 and Revelation 19:17-21 are one and the same battle.

*Zechariah 14:9-21 and Revelation 20 are one and the same time period.

 

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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4 Responses to Arguing Against Amillennialism

  1. @Todd: Nice, to have a irenic dialogue, on such an important theological and eschatological subject! Of course I have been both A-Mill and Post-Mill in my life history of being a Christian (well over 45 years now)…I will be 65 in late Oct. (whew! 😉 ) But I have been generally Historic Premillennial now since about 1993, with too something of the dispensational (now more towards the aspect of the newer PD, or Progressive Dispensational, and this too, comes from around the early 1990’s. And of course this was/is not an Ivory Tower issue and experience for me, since Gulf War 1, and being there as an RMC). Modern Israel is always the “centre”!

    The “timing” of the Rapture will always be somewhat an open question, but with 2 Thess. 2: 1, I am inclined more towards the Post-trib myself (Matt. 24: 3-31), but I try to keep and open mind here. The translation of The Net Bible here is interesting: “Now regarding the “arrival” of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him.” But both the “arrival” and “return” of the Lord Jesus are visible and connected in the Greek…”Parousia”, lit. a presence, “para”, with, and “ousia”, being present! So I myself tend toward the Post-trib. And it surely appears the Church will see the Antichrist! (2 Thess. 2: 3)

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    • Btw, just a quick note, Satan is a spiritually defeated foe, i.e. THE Foe, but he has NOT yet been removed from the field of battle! (Romans 16: 20). Paul calls him, “The god of this world or age” (2 Cor. 4: 4) And he still blinds the minds and souls of unbelievers!

      “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)… Again what Paul calls “the devils schemes”! (Verse 11)

      The old statement still holds, we battle ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil.’ But, only ‘In Christ’ are we victors!

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Fr. Robert,

      In my interpretation, Matthew 24:3-31 and 2 Thessalonians 2 both fully allow for a mid-tribulation rapture. I say this because both passages say that before Christ returns, the antichrist (the man of lawlessness mentioned in Daniel) must be revealed first; he enters the newly built temple and declares himself God.

      Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2 that we will not be gathered unto Christ until the antichrist is first revealed in this manner. Likewise, Jesus says in Matthew 24:3-31 that he will not return until after the antichrist (the abomination of desolation) takes place, and then there will be an unprecedented great tribulation (whether Jesus is referring to the rapture, his physical Second Coming, or both, I can’t say).

      Nonetheless, I see both Jesus and Paul saying the same thing here. And when I put their statements together into one meaning, it tells me that considerable time remains between the antichrist declaring himself God and when Christ returns in his physical Second Coming (Zechariah 14). To me, there is nothing here that negates a mid-tribulation rapture.

      What are your thoughts?

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      • Hey Todd,

        Yes, the Mid-Trib is a possibility, however when we look at 2 Thess. 2:1, as 1 Thess. 4:16 and verse 17… quite appear to be together, and thus the “Coming”, is here His descent, literally “descend” from heaven – and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we, the one’s living, the one’s remaining, “together” with them (the dead in Christ) will be caught up in the clouds to “A Meeting” of (with) the Lord in [the] air, and so always with [the] Lord we will be.” (Verse 16-17) (Lit. translation) The Rapture or catching-up will itself be “instantaneous” and unseen, but not HIS Coming and “descent” into the air. From the Greek itself, both the Coming (Parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to HIM, are in one Greek clause. Yes, indeed there are other problems with the whole event in Rev. 19:7-10, “The Marriage of the Lamb is come” and “Blessed are they which are called unto the Marriage supper of Lamb”, itself! But when the Lord does appear visibly, and for His Bride, both the alive and dead, “time” will no doubt disappear to some degree. As the Resurrection, and ourselves made like unto Christ …”when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as HE is.” (1 John 3:2). And of course too the great Bema-Seat of Christ for believers! So between the Coming of Christ visibly and the Church or Body of Christ, alive & dead together, caught-up at the descent, there is some real aspect of mystery, in the great Resurrection itself, and “time” as we know it seems to slip away in HIS Presence! To quote however W.E. Vine: “Parousia is used to describe the presence of Christ with His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, 2 Pet. 1:16. When used of the return of Christ, at the Rapture of the Church, it signifies, not merely His momentary coming for His saints, but His presence with them from that moment until His revelation and manifestation to the world. In some passages the word gives prominence to the beginning of that period, the course of the period being implied, 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1… In some, the course is prominent, Matt 24:3, 37; 1 Thess. 3:13 ; 1 John 2: 2:28; in others the conclusion of the period, Matt. 24:27; 2 Thess. 2:8.”

        In the end, for me anyway, it appears that the Coming and Descent of Christ is One whole aspect, i.e. Coming & Rapture together! Thus the essence of 2 Thess. 2:1!

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