A Millennial or A-millennial Future: Which? (8)
7. The Character of God
The great majority of Christendom is amillennial in doctrine. Roman Catholicism sees itself as the fulfillment of the Kingdom prophecies, and would not countenance the thought that there is One coming Who will supersede its own hegemony! Most of apostate Protestant denominations have embodied the Roman Catholic position on future events by default – mostly without serious questioning. Liberals and modernists do not accept the truth of inspiration of Scripture. Part of their larger agenda is to deny the literal fulfillment of prophecy, which then denies the literalness of Scripture in general.
Having said that, we know that there are many amillennialists who are true believers, who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, and who would never seek to impugn the character of God. However, if we look closely at what the amillennial teaching is, we can see that it is not consistent with the high view of God’s character, as presented for us in the Word of God.
The Bible tells us that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Yet amillennial doctrine is effectively saying that God said things which were not true, and that He thereby deliberately deceived people. For example, when He told Abraham to look at the land which he and his seed would receive (Gen 13:14, 15), and when He indicated the borders of the land (Gen 15:18-21), Abraham certainly understood the references to the “land” as literal. If the amillennialist is right, then God had no intention of giving that land to him at all, and Abraham was deceived.
So it is with the promises to Abraham and to his “seed.” Abraham certainly took the term to refer to his literal descendants (Gen 21:12), yet the amillennialist tells us that the term does not refer to Abraham’s literal seed, but to his spiritual seed.
Throughout the OT, when God gave detailed prophecies to the nation of Israel, regarding the future, they would certainly have taken them literally. This expectation was equally strong in the NT. It is clear from our reading of the gospels and Acts that the disciples expected a future, literal kingdom, with Israel at the head of the nations (Acts 1:6). Are we really expected to believe that, for hundreds and hundreds of years God allowed His people to be deceived as to the true nature of the promises He was making? And if they had misunderstood the true character of prophecy, why did the Lord Jesus not set them straight when He had the golden opportunity (Acts 1:7)? Do the amillennialists think they have received some great insight into the mind of God, which allows them to discard the clear passages which abound through the Scriptures, when even the Lord Jesus Himself, when here on earth, did not do so?
The implication of all this is not a trifling matter. For, if God said things to Israel that He did not mean to fulfill, what reason have we to believe that He will fulfill the promises He has made to us? Can we be confident that we will fare any better than Israel has? If OT saints misunderstood what God promised to them, how can we be sure that we are not misunderstanding the promises He has made to us? Let us reject such aspersions on God’s character, and quote with confidence Hebrews 10:23: “He is faithful that promised.”
The Bible tells us that God does not change His mind regarding His calling and His gifts (Rom 11:29). Yet the amillennialist teaches that (because of unbelief) the nation of Israel has forfeited the blessings promised to it. This flatly contradicts what Paul says in Romans 11, where he clearly indicates that God will not go back on His promises to the patriarchs (v 28), that the blindness of Israel is partial and temporary (v 25), and that there is future salvation and forgiveness of sins for the nation of Israel (vv 26, 27). It also contradicts the OT statements of the unconditional character of God’s promises. For example, in Psalm 89, the writer speaks of God’s covenant with David (vv 3, 4, 20), and states that, while disobedience on the part of David’s descendants will result in judgment on them (vv 29-32), it will in no way nullify the covenant that God made with him (vv 28, 33-37).
The Bible teaches that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Yet frequently the amillennialist states that a future literal Millennium is “impossible.” For example, he says that the records of the tribes have been lost, so it would be impossible to know who the Levites are. But surely God still knows them, and it will be no difficulty for Him to make them known in His own way, and at His own time.
It is also argued that the dimensions of the Millennial temple, as given in Ezekiel, could not fit into the present temple site. But this reckons without the great topographic changes that will take place (Zech 14), which will make space for a much larger structure. Doubtless there are other “difficulties,” for which we do not have the answers. But God knows the answers, and we can trust Him. Let us not limit God’s abilities to carry out what He has promised.
Our God is a God of truth (Deut 32:4), a God Who is able to perform that which He has promised (Rom 4:21). To believe in a future, literal Millennium is to acknowledge these things; to deny it is effectively to deny the dependability and the power of God.
But the amillennialist will disagree with our assertion that the NT does not nullify the promises of a literal future kingdom on earth. He will point to passages in the NT which, he claims, show that the kingdom promises are to be interpreted spiritually. In the next (and final) article in the series, we will consider this claim.