5 Perils of Denying Jesus’ Future Reign / The error of Amillenialism.
I could not have written this article several months ago. Although I had no doubts about the biblical truth of premillennialism, I did not fully comprehend the perils of denying Jesus’ thousand year’ reign over the nations of the world as described in Revelation 20:1-10 and Zechariah 14. The denial of Jesus’ rule over a restored Israel is known as amillennialism.
When I heard a popular prophecy preacher refer to amillennialism as a “false teaching” and a “doctrine of demons” (Tim. 4:1), I shuddered; I was not sure I agreed with him. Now I know he was correct.
What made the difference? In conversations with those who deny prophecies related to Jesus’ future reign, I listened as they overlaid prophetic portions of Scripture with perspectives foreign to those biblical authors at the time they wrote. And, I cannot accept any teaching that downgrades much of the book of Revelation to allegory in a way that undermines integrity of the entire book.
The harm amillennialism does to believers, however, put me over the top. I see five perils of denying Jesus’ future reign during the millennium that not only undermine the integrity of biblical prophecy, but also dim the hopes of those who ascribe to such errant teachings.
1. Amillennialism Negates the Original Intent of Scripture
First, amillennialism negates the original intent of the authors of Scripture. As I discussed this matter with one amillennialist, I showed him passage after passage that promised a future restored kingdom for Israel. However, it seemed as though he could not see the words of these texts, but overlaid the verses with his own understanding of the words, one quite foreign to the text.
When I read Acts 1:6-7 to him, he laughed and ridiculed the disciples for asking about a restored Israel. Jesus, however, did not deny the anticipation of the disciples, only its timing. Jesus did not laugh.
Over and over again he asked me to see something that neither the original authors nor their initial audience could have envisioned. I cannot accept such a view of God’s Word; its meaning does not change like shifting sand with the passing of time.
Why is this so harmful? If one applies a foreign interpretation to prophetic passages in God’s Word, does this not diminish the integrity of other passages? If Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s future place on the throne of David do not mean today what it meant in the prophet’s day, does this not damage the reliability of Scripture in other places? Yes, it absolutely does; how can it not?
2. Amillennialism Strips the Book of Revelation of its Hopeful Message
The book of Revelation starts with these words: “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” From beginning to end, the book contains Jesus’ final revelation to us, His church. Yet many today treat the book as an allegory from which they can pick and choose what is symbolic and what is not. The figurative interpretations of those who assign chapters 6-20 to metaphor often contradict Jesus’ very own words in chapters 1-3, yet they persist in making these chapters subject to their own understanding.
Yes, the apostle employs symbolism and imagery in relating Jesus’ message. His clear intent, however, is to reveal future events as well as the words of our Savior.
John’s choice of words refutes the allegorical approach of the amillennialists, those who regard John’s description of the tribulation and Jesus’ millennial reign as symbolical, nothing more. The apostle uses the word “saw” 44 times by itself and 12 times with the word “looked.” He uses the word “heard” 30 times to indicate he was writing down words he heard. John tells us in no uncertain terms that he is writing Jesus’ revelation to us whether directly or through visions of the future.
John does not employ the language of allegory but rather that of someone communicating God’s message given to him through word and future events.
The amillennial approach to the book of Revelation strips it of significance and hope for us. If chapters 6-20 are allegory (or previous history), as these naysayers claim, does this not reduce our confidence in the last two chapters that describe our glorious future in the eternal state? Isn’t it natural to assume that Revelation 6-22 is either all literal or all symbols? The amillennialists pick and choose what they regard as allegory and they often disagree.
Can you see the peril for believers in such an approach that relies solely on human wisdom to select what is future and what is not in the book of Revelation? What does it do our precious hope of no more tears, pain, and death (21:4) if most the book of Revelation is allegory?
3. Amillennialism Opens the Door to Greater Heresies
History demonstrates that over time, amillennialism leads to a further erosion of faith and opens the door wide to heresy. It has done so in the past; it will certainly do so again.
To maintain an amillennial belief, one must relegate all Old Testament prophecy regarding the future of Israel to allegory as well as much of the book of Revelation. But who decides which prophecies convey symbolism and which ones reveal God’s message for us today?
And if we depart from the plain meaning of a passage or the author’s original intent as do the amillennialists, who decides what the allegory means?
This explains why amillennialism easily morphs into heresies such as preterism, the belief that Jesus returned to earth in AD 70 and in doing so fulfilled most, if not all, of future biblical prophecy. The only difference between preterism and amillennialism consists in how much of Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation one relegates to symbolism (or previous history) and what interpretation one assigns to the symbolism of prophetic passages that refer to Jesus’ kingdom.
Dominion theology also has its roots in an allegorical or non-literal approach to biblical prophecy. Those who hold to this belief falsely assert that the church will win the world to Christ and thereby take control of it thus ushering in the millennium. Jesus does not return until the end of the church’s reign over the world. The key difference with amillennialism is that those who espouse dominion theology base much of their teaching on new revelation they mistakenly believe God is giving to the church today.
Can you see the many dangers in traveling down the road of amillennialism? It takes one further and further away from the truths of God’s Word and starts a sure and predictable descent into more false teaching.
4. Amillennialism Blinds Believers to the Signs of the Times
One peril of amillennialism that particularly grieves my heart is that it blinds believers to the signs of the times that abound all around us today.
In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus chastised the Pharisees for not recognizing “the signs of the times” that their Messiah had come. The Pharisees should have recognized this based on Old Testament prophecy, but remained blind to it. The amillennialists of today make the same mistake as did the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
Those who teach amillennialism blind believers to the many signs of the times pointing to the approach of the tribulation. They themselves remain blind to the major prophetic implications of Israel’s rebirth and the Lord’s gathering of His people back to the Land. As a result, they do not teach that we live in the last days.
Because they deny all Old and New Testament references to the tribulation, a veil shields their eyes from seeing the multitude of signs shouting that this time is rapidly approaching. I find it difficult to understand how they cannot see how quickly our world is moving toward the coming day of the Lord.
It’s vital we recognize the signs of the times and not let those who deny these things put us to sleep with their distortions of current events that lack any reference to prophecies found throughout God’s Word concerning the last days.
5. Amillennialism Redirects the Hope of Believers to this World
Amillennialists believe the next prophetic event is Jesus’ return at the end of this age to wrap things up, judge humanity, and initiate the eternal state. They give lip service to the imminency of Jesus’ return, but neither they nor those listening to them believe this could happen in their lifetime or during that of their grandchildren or great grandchildren.
As a result, the amillennial mindset focuses people on the things of this world rather than on eternity. Why watch for Jesus’ return if it’s still centuries away? Why adopt an eternal outlook on life if I expect to live a lengthy life and then go to be with the Lord after I die.
In stark contrast to such a mindset, the biblical perspective conveys a message of imminency regarding Jesus’ appearing. New Testament saints waited for Jesus’ appearing with great eagerness (1 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20-21). They watched for Him to come (1 Thess. 1:9-10) just as the Lord told His followers to do (Matt. 24:44, 25:13). The Apostle Paul believed Jesus could return for him in his lifetime (1 Thess. 4:17).
As I have written in other posts, this sense of imminency carried over in the early centuries of the church where they regarded Jesus’ return as something that could happen at any moment.
I know some amillennialists maintain the Apostle Paul’s two-world perspective of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. They are the exception, however, rather than the norm. Their teaching shifts the attention of believers to the things of this world; wherein lies another significant danger of allegorizing biblical prophecy.
It might seem as though I am overly harsh on amillennialists and perhaps I am. My objections to this teaching have grown over the years and increased in intensity during the past several months because of the reasons I have cited in this article. Amillennialism not only denies clear biblical prophecy regarding Israel’s restoration, it harms all those who sit under its teaching.
My conversations (e-mail and in person) with those who deny the tribulation and restoration of the kingdom to Israel have significantly increased my confidence in what I believe. These discussions have also led me to the conclusion that amillennialism is a false teaching because of its denial of clear biblical prophecies.
Furthermore, it harms to those who sit under its teaching.
Jesus is coming for us soon! Stay focused on our Savior and our eternity with Him!
By Jonathan C. Brentner