Almost two years ago now, I began my journey, leaving behind convoluted theology to embrace the biblical theology of the reformers. The inception of the journey was actually listening to Kim Riddlebarger’s series of lectures called Amillenialism 101. I first came across them while doing research for the Beth Moore Daniel study. Her Daniel study deals much in Bible prophecy and Beth Moore happens to be an enthusiastic advocate of Dispensational theology.
If are anywhere near my age, you may not even realize there is more than one position on end times and the return of Jesus. Evangelicals teach the following as given:
- Christ is going to rapture his Church (whisk them up secretly to Heaven to the astonishment of those left behind)
- A great tribulation at the hands of the Antichrist for seven years and then Jesus comes back for good and establishes a reign of 1000 years on earth.
- After that, the final end comes, with the judgment.
I held this view for so long myself (since reading Lindsay’s book), the absence of passages supporting this position only mildly bothered me. I thought that Bible prophecy was supposed to be mysterious and unfathomable and only great theologians could begin to unravel their riddles. Would it surprise some of my readers to know that the position described above has only held anything approaching a majority position in the church for only the last century or so? The Church, for the last two thousand years, has held a much different view on the whole.
I recently decided to re-listen to Pastor Riddlebarger’s lectures. I commented on one of the lectures to my husband, and he asked, “So which are you? Amillenial or Dispensational? And what exactly is the difference?” I guess I hadn’t discussed eschatology recently with my husband. I didn’t know he didn’t know. Along with many other Christians, he’s not convinced it matters, but it does to me. Changing my position on this subject has had an extremely positive practical impact on my life. And holding my former position has caused unneeded anxiety in my life and the life of many loved ones over the years.
I don’t know if I’m really equipped to be the one to lay out the differences. But I do want to at least, to encourage others to learn more about the Amillenial view by telling you why I’m glad I changed my view of the end times and Christ’s return.
- I no longer exegete the headlines, trying to determine if the latest world happenings are something the Bible talked about. I’ve learned now that there is good reason to believe most of prophecies in Daniel and Revelation have already been fulfilled!
- There is no confusion over the identity of God’s people. I used to believe that Christians were second-class believers and that actual Israelites by blood who become Christians were extra-special. Our time was now, but we would be removed to let national Israel have their special time again. This entire view defies Paul’s explanation of God’s People in Romans 10. They can rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, but it would be an abomination, because the perfect sacrifice has already been made, once for all, on the Cross on Calvary when the perfect Lamb of God for the sins of all, including those Old Testament believers.
- There is no need to work in a 1st-and-a-half coming of Christ. There is his first coming at Bethlehem and his Second Coming on the Last Day. Simple. End of Story. And this is all very beautifully supported by Scripture. Christ will indeed gather up his Church still alive at his coming, and they changed in a moment, a twinkling of an eye. They (or we if I’m still alive!) will meet Jesus in the sky as a visiting dignitary of Bible times was greeted outside a city by his supporters, who would then proceed to enter the city with him. We will be returning with Christ for the Final Battle.
- I no longer worry about whether I should bother preparing my kids for the future and telling them to prepare for theirs. (Think of the people who sold everything because they were told the world was about to end. This happened just recently, remember?!) We need to be prepared both for our future and for his return. His return is relatively imminent, and in a way, the “Last Day” is the day we die, if He tarries. And we do not know what day that will be either. We do not know the day or the hour.
- I no longer feel like I need to do “Bible math” and save much money by not buying the books of the people trying to do “Bible math” for me, adding up the “secret codes” in the Bible, calculating what year Christ will return or the Antichrist will appear.
The Scriptures have become easier to understand. Examining them through an Amillenial lens rather than the Dispensational, I is no longer try fit square passages into round holes of theology or have to put on my special Bible goggles to see the secret messages in between the lines. The Amillenial view clears up all those niggling questions I used to have about the verses that seemed to (more than seemed to) contradict the Left Behind way of looking at things.
These days, reading Daniel and Revelations is a joy for me and no longer so confusing. I also have a more straightforward approach to reading my newspaper. (Okay, okay, I don’t actually subscribe to a newspaper. I have an RSS reader like the rest of the civilized world.) The Bible prophesied events that have already happened, and people are still looking for them to happen as if they haven’t. But it would not be the first time in history that people have done this. The Jews knew that it was time for Messiah to appear when Christ was born. The 490 years had passed that Daniel had prophesied to pass before Christ would come. And Jesus came and went. Only a few in Israel realized he had come and after he left, many still waited on pins in needles (and still do) for something that already happened.
I know what I have posted here is only a teaser and doesn’t really explain Amillenialism fully. But I hope it will encourage you to check out Kim Riddlebarger’s site, or read his book, A Case for Amillenialism. Another good read, actually by a Baptist minister who wrote a wonderful little book showing how the book of Revelation is a mirror image of Exodus is 50 Ways to Leave Left Behind, which is actually also available on Kindle Edition. It doesn’t really give a full treatment of Amillenial Eschatology, but a good resource nonetheless. And when you do, let me know what you think!