Debunked: The End Times--Still All About Jesus

By Katie Hill

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand yearsRevelation 20:6 

"I'm a panmillennialist," a friend confided in me once. When he saw my questioning look he didn't wait for me to ask. "It means I believe everything will pan out in the end." I had to laugh at that. From a certain point of view, he was right. After all, we believe in a God who promises to work all things for our good, so of course everything has to work out because it will through His Son, Jesus.

However, we live in an era where there is a great deal of fascination with the end of the world, and not only in our churches. Let's face it: we can probably all agree that 2020 has been a year so far that has caused us to seriously or jokingly grapple with the idea that maybe we are living in the "end times." Aside from that, consider the level of engagement with dystopian literature in our culture: The Hunger Games, the Divergent series, etc. Even George Orwell's 1984 is making a comeback. And of course, while not dystopian, the apocalyptically focused Left Behind series has experienced amazing success, burgeoned into a kids' series, several movies, as well as the Bible study market. My own experience with the Left Behind series was that, while I generally enjoyed reading through some of the novels, I knew going in that the doctrinal foundation of the books' premise was weak at best. And yet many of our evangelical brethren see books and movies like that as sort of a roadmap for the days to come.

So what does the Bible have to say about the thousand years referenced in Revelation 20? Let's take a very general look at the major views of the ends times or more specifically, this

Summary of the Four Views

Probably the most popular view today is called dispensational premillennialism (DP). Formulated officially in the late 19th century, DP asserts that throughout history, God tests the obedience of His people within seven different dispensations or administrations. Right now we are under the dispensation of grace, whereas the nation of Israel was under the dispensation of law. According to DP, the people of Israel will always be God's true chosen people and His end goal is to physically set up His kingdom on earth for His people. Prophecies in the Scriptures are to be taken literally, including those in Revelation. There will be a secret rapture of all of God's people (views differ as to when this specifically happens in relation to the Tribulation—a 7-year period of particular suffering on the earth during which the Antichrist rules) but all agree that it is before a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth wherein Satan is bound and there is an era of peace. The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem and the sacrificial system reinstated.  Eventually Satan will be released for a time, leading to Armageddon (the war to end all wars), followed by the final judgment and finally the new heavens and new earth.

Two less common views are historic premillennialism and postmillennialism. Historic premillennialism is similar to DP, but there is no separate rapture. Postmillennialism does not present a literal thousand-year reign or even a visible reign of Christ but claims there will be a golden age of sorts before Christ comes again, during which knowledge of Jesus increases and evil decreases.

And now we come to amillennialism, which has been the historic view of the church and is currently embraced by Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans and many Reformed denominations.
It is also the biblical view because it understands the millennium in the light of Christ.

Amillennialism asserts that although God has worked through various covenants, they had
the purpose of pointing to Christ. The nation of Israel pointed toward what we know as the church, so all Christians are God's chosen people--the seed of Abraham. The Jew/Gentile distinction is done away with. The thousand years is figurative, and began with Christ's ascension and continues to the end of the age, coming to fruition with Christ's Final Coming, which will be unmistakable. There will be no secret rapture. When He comes, those who have died in Christ will be resurrected first and we who remain will follow, then comes final judgment and the new heavens/new earth.

So why the divergent views on the end times? What it really boils down to is hermeneutics--the keys we use to interpret the Scriptures. These are very important when reading the whole of Scripture, let alone those seemingly bizarre passages in parts of Daniel, Ezekiel, and certainly Revelation. We will just be scratching the surface here but let's very briefly look at some
basic hermeneutics.

Applying Hermeneutics

Read the text in the sense in which it was intended. History is to be read as history, poetry as poetry, etc. Poetry is often filled with lots of rich and symbolic language. The same goes with apocalyptic passages (those focused on impending destruction) like parts of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. For example, when we read in Amos 9:13 that "wine will pour out of the mountains" we understand that to mean fruitfulness, not a literal wine fountain. For the Hebrews, numbers were very important and symbolic of something deeper, such as the number 1000 meaning "completion." The glorious descriptions of the New Jerusalem in Revelation, using precious metal and jewels, are word pictures to help us try to grasp what Paradise will be like. The examples are endless.

Prophecies are often double fulfilled. Many prophecies have an immediate context and a future context. Amos 9:11-12 tells us that David's kingdom will be rebuilt. This was partially fulfilled when the Israelites returned to their land after the Babylonian captivity, but  James tells us in Acts 15:13-18 that God including the Gentiles as His people is a fulfillment of Amos 9 as well. Matthew 24, filled with warnings by Jesus about terrible times to come, saw its immediate fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., yet it clearly points toward a future time as well.

Acknowledge historical context. It's important to not make Scripture say something it doesn't. St. John wrote the Book of Revelation around 95 AD when he was in exile on the island of Patmos. His immediate readers at the time were the seven churches to which he addresses the book, in order to encourage, exhort and warn them as they were enduring severe hardships and trials. Revelation is not some secret code-filled fantasy book into which we are to read our modern understanding of the symbolism. St. John's letter is meant to encourage, exhort and warn us, too, since we are a part of the same Christian Church.

Scripture interprets Scripture. We call this the analogy of faith. The clear passages of Scripture often help us understand the less clear passages. Many New Testament (NT) passages shed light on Old Testament (OT) passages. The book of Hebrews is a helpful place to see where this comes into play. It frequently uses OT passages to explain God's plan of redemption through His Son. In Hebrews 1, the writer quotes from the Psalms, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles and Deuteronomy, when declaring Christ's superiority over the angels. St. Augustine is credited with summing this up well, "The new (NT) in the old (OT) concealed, the old in the new revealed."

Remember the principle of type and shadow. A type or shadow points ahead to things that have not yet come to pass. And while the OT is packed with types, there are plenty to be found in the NT as well. Key takeaway: The fulfillment of the type is always greater than the type itself. Why is this important? Because we never want to let the type eclipse what it is pointing toward. Ezekiel 40-46, talks about the rebuilding of the temple, clearly pointing ahead to Matthew 12:6, John 2:19-22 and other passages that explain that Jesus is the temple—where God dwells. This is why the idea of rebuilding a physical temple in Jerusalem and reinstating animal sacrifices is just wrong. And there are NT types, too. The Lord's Supper is an example, for it reminds us that there is a greater, eternal feast to come.

How Then Shall We Live?

We live in that "thousand years" right now—the time frame between Christ's ascension and His Second coming. It's okay to look for signs but not focus on them. Listen for your pastor to talk about the "consummation," when we get to enjoy that eternal heavenly feast with our Savior in Paradise. It communicates that all has not been fulfilled yet. Yes, Jesus already has saved us and His kingdom is now, yet there is a final sealing of the deal yet to come. It's an already/not yet tension written across the entirety of the Bible.

If we get too caught up in looking for the signs of Jesus' return, we can miss out on the comforts of the Gospel through His Word and Sacraments that He provides for in the here and now. Inevitably, we will wonder about the end of all things every now and then. Remember that for us, the Day of the Lord, or Judgment Day, is good news because the Judge is Christ and His righteousness is ours so He will not be a condemning judge.

What do we know definitively? Jesus is coming. We will be raised. We will dwell with Him forever in Paradise. Indeed, it will all pan out in the end.

Katie Hill is the managing editor of Higher Things. When she's not silently correcting everyone's grammar, she enjoys fostering and fine-tuning the writing of authors who deliver the sweetness of the Gospel to Higher Things readers and beyond. A Lutheran convert for 15 years now, Katie has been working for HT in some capacity for nearly that same amount of time. She relishes life in a small town in northern Arizona with her husband, Jeff, and five children.

This article was originally published in the spring 2016 issue of Higher Things Magazine and includes a few updates.

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woman Samson Sanchez Sanctus Sarah laughed Sarah Satan thrown down to earth Saxony Sayers Schuldheisz Sea of Galilee Sermon on the Mount Shakespeare Shechem asks for Dinahs hand Shechem defiles Dinah Shelah Shepard Siddhartha Simeon and Levi killed all males Simeon Simon Peter Simon Sixth Commandment Sletten Smalcald Snapchat Social shaming Sodom Son of God Son of Man will be lifted up Son of Man Son sets you free Son Spirit descending St Augustine St Paul St. Paul St.Peter Star Wars Staupitz Sticks before watering trough Sunday Supper Taylor Swift Te Deum Ten Commandments Test Texas Theotokos Third Article Torgau Tourette Tribulation Trickery Turkey Twitter Uzziah Verba Domini Vieker WORK of God Weedon Well of Shibah Woelmer Word became flesh Word element sacrament Word Zachariah Zacharias Zebulun Zilpah "red lining" \"red lining\" \\\"red lining\\\" abel abide abortion absolve abuse can be physical or not abuse has no boundaries abuse=deliberate abuse=pattern of behavior to control one's partner abuse=pattern of behavior to control one\'s partner abuser entitled to happiness abuse academic accountability active acts 14 acts 15 acts 16 acts 18 acts 19 acts 20 acts 21 acts 22 acts 23 acts 24 acts 25 acts 26 acts 27 acts 28 acts 2 acts 8 acts 9 acts2 acts addiction adultery adults advice aerospace agnostic alcoholic aliens all christians who have been baptized almighty altar at Bethel altar guild altar angels angel anger angle= messengers animal anouthen answer anti-christian anti-vaccers antinomians antinomian antioch antiphonal anxiety apologetic apostles apostle archaeology archangels arise arius ark arresst Jesus arrest Jesus assurance athanasian atheism atheist audience augustana authority of the Son authority babies babylon baby baggage banquet baptism baptized baptizing barnabas barren bartholomew be informed beat servants (phrophets) become Jesus' disciples become Jesus\' disciples before Abraham was beginning belief in Jesus beliefs belief believers believes belive belivf has eternal life benjamin best constuction betrayal betray bias bible bigots bigot birds of the air birthright blessings blessing blind blood blues body and blood body bonhoeffer borghardt borg borhgardt born again bread is my flesh bread breakup bride of Christ bridegroom bride bring Isaac to Eygpt brothers hated Joseph brothers sold Joseph brothers brother brown buetow burdens burial cain calendar cancel culture cancel cancer candle capture and plunderd Shechem casket catechism catechize celebration centurion change chant chief baker chief cupbearer child abuse children of israel children choir chosen christianity christ cleansed cleanses the temple cleansing clergy clerical cling coat of many colors codependency coin college colonies colonnade O Solomon colors colossians 1 colossians 2 colossians 3 colossians 4 comes from above comfort of forgiveness comfort commandments commandment command commendation compassion composer concupiscence condemn conferences confessions confession confess confidence confinement confirmation bias confirmation connection conspiracy theory context conversion coronavirus corporate corw values council covenant coveting creation creed cross crowds seeking Jesus crown crucified crucifix cruciflood cry out cry culture curb current events curse cwirla daily bread dan brown danger darkness dash dead man talked dead dean death debate between Jesus debtors debt decisions decreased trust in institutions decrease defeat defense defensiveness defined by baptism deistic deliberate deliverer demands demons demon depression deserve destroy and raise temple destroy deuteonomy 1 deuteronomy 10 deuteronomy 11 deuteronomy 12 deuteronomy 13 deuteronomy 14 deuteronomy 15 deuteronomy 17 deuteronomy 18 deuteronomy 19 deuteronomy 1 deuteronomy 21 deuteronomy 24 deuteronomy 25 deuteronomy 27 deuteronomy 28 deuteronomy 29 deuteronomy 2 deuteronomy 30 deuteronomy 31 deuteronomy 32 deuteronomy 3 deuteronomy 4 deuteronomy 5 deuteronomy 7 deuteronomy 8 deuteronomy 9 disagreement disaster disciples discipline dishonesty disinformation dispensational disruption diversity divorce do not be afraid do not condemn do not know the stranger's voice do not know the stranger\'s voice do research do unto others do you want to become his disciple? doctrines doctrine dogma domestic violence donkey door doubt doxology dreams dream drink his blood drink of water drove money changers from Temple dualistic dwelt among us dystopian earthquake easter eat his flesh ecclesiastes 1 ecclesiastical egypt election elizabeth embalming embarrassment emotional abuse emotions endure enemy engineering enlightened ephesians 1 ephesians 3 ephesians 4 ephesians 5 ephesians 6 epistle equal equilibrium escalates estates eternal iife eternal life evangelicalism evangelism evangelists evangelist evil evolution example excuses exhalted exhortation exile exodus 20 experience extra nos ezekiel 1 face to face failure fairytale faith alone faith vs worry faithful faith fall false teachers false teaching family famine fate father of lies fear feast feeling wheel feelings female feminism fig tree fire first disciples flesh font food that endures to eternal life foolishness foolish for you foreigners foretaste forgiveness of sins forgiveness forgiven forgive fortress fractal fraud free in Christ free to participate freedom from sin freedom freshman fringes fulfillment funeral fun future galatians 1 galatians 3 galatians 4 galatians 5 galatians 6 gathering fruit for eternal life gay gender generations generosity genesis 15 genesis 28 genesis 2 genesis 3 genesis 4 genesis11 genetic gentiles gerhardt getting punches in gifts gift girlfriend give me water give vineyard to others (gentiles) gloom glory gnosticism god's will god\'s will golf good deeds good fruit good samaritan good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep good work good gospels gospel government grace alone grace and truth grandma gratitude great commission greatness grief groom/instill fear groom guard guest guide guileless guilt haiti hannah happiness harmony hated become haters have mercy he could co nothing he without sin cast the first stone heal on the Sabbath healing of invalid healing on Sabbath healingl heaven heinz heirs hell helpful sites online heresy hidden bias high priest high school hired hand fleees his own historic history holocaust denier holy spirit holy trinity holy homework homologoumen homosexuality honor the Father honor hope hostility hour not yet come humbled humility hurt hymnal hymnody hymn hyper-partisanship hypocrites i never knew you i samuel 15 iPad iPhone identity idolatry image-bearer imitate imposters imputed increase incurvatus inheritance institutional racism institution intentional forgiveness intentional internet interpretation interpreta intimate relationship intimate introit invitation invite strangers (ggod irreducible complexity isaiah 29 isaiah 55 isaiah 6 isolation israel issuers issues ivory tower james jeremiah 23 jeremiah 8 jerome jerusalem jesus knows what is in Man jesus jewish job38 job john 10 john 12 john 13 john 14 john 16 john 19 john 20 john 21 john 3 john 6 john the baptist joshua 1 joshua 2 joshua 3 joy judas jude judgement is the Son's judgemental judgement judges 13 judges 14 judges 15 judges 16 judges 4 judges 6 judges 7 judge judging judgment seat judgment justification justify justin martyr kantor karma katrina keep keseman keys kill heir killed kings servants kind king=Jesus kingdom king kohlmeier kuhlman lange language large catechism latin laugh law gives hearing lawyer tests Jesus law lay down my life and take it up again leaving mainline churches lectionary legacy lemon lentil stew lepers lex credendi lex orendi liberation life-changing life light of life light of the world light lilies of the field lion listen liturgical liturgy live forever live living bread living water lord's prayer lord\'s prayer lord\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\'s prayer lord\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s prayer lords prayer lords supper lost love God love your neighbor love lowly loyalists luke 10 luke 11 luke 14 luke 17 luke 18 luke 19 luke 21 luke 22 luke 23 luke 24 luke 7 luke23 luke24 luke5 lust lutheran madden magicians magisterial magruder mak 7 malachi 1 malachi 2 malachi 3 man born blind manifestation manipulative marginalized populations mark 10 mark 16 mark 6 mark 8 martyrdom martyr mary magdalene masks matthew 10 matthew 11 matthew 12 matthew 13 matthew 14 matthew 17 matthew 18 matthew 19 matthew 20 matthew 22 matthew 28 matthew 3 matthew 5 matthew 6 matthew 8 matthew 9 matthew28 matthew3 matthew6 means of grace measure mental health merciful mercy metaphor microagression mietzner millennium miracle mirrir missionaries missionary modernism money returned money moses mountains mountaintop movement multiply offsprings murder musician my Father my sheep follow me my testimony is true my truth=experience my word finds no place in you mythology myths myth name nathan nations nation natural disaster natures nature negative nehemiah 1 nehemiah 2 nehemiah 4 nehemiah 5 nehemiah 6 nehemiah 7-8 nehemiah 9 neighbor never been enslaved new life new man news nicea no compromise no guests came (Israel) no prophet from Gallee no religious affiliation noah non-masked normal practice not of God not the Christ numbers 21 numbers 22 numbers 23 numbers 24 numbers 35 numbers27 numbers32 obedience obey objective truth=God off the rails offering office of the holy ministry office of the keys offspring of Abraham old Adam old man omans 3 omans 6 one body onesimus only son opportunity to witness opposition orders ordinary ordination organized religion organ orthodox overcome overseer pagan pandemic panmillennialist papacy papyrus parable paralytic paraments parents said man born blind party passive pastoral care pastors pastor patriarch pattern of behavior paul peace peers pentecost people perfection persecute persecution perserve life persons person peter pharisee philemon 8-9 philemon philiipians 3 philippians 1 philippians 4 philosophy phrophet physician pietistic plots of covert groups polarized politics don't determine salvation politics pomises pool poor pope position positive post-Christian postmodern poverty power dynamic power practices praise prayer pray preaching preach pregnancy pregnant presence pride prison prizes procrastination prodigal son prodigal professor promised land promises promise prophecy prophets prophet protectors proverbs 10 proverbs 13 proverbs 24 proverbs 25 proverbs 27 proverbs 31 proverbs 3 proverbs 4 proverbs 5 proverbs 8 proverbs 9 proverbs22 provision psalm 122 psalm 13 psalm 20 psalm 25 psalm 28 psalm 2 psalm 48 psalm 51 psalm 54 psalm 68 psalm 74 psalm 84 psalm 86 psalm 92 psalm8 psychologists public punishment punish purification purity pwer/control quarantine question beliefs questions quid pro quo racial racism rags raise temple in 3 days raises the dead ransom rape rapture reality receiving recognition reconcile reconciliation record redeemed reformation refuge rejects standards rejoice relationship relativism religion religious repentance repent rescue resolution response resurrection return money revivalism rewards rich man richard rich righteousness rights riots risen ritual rivers of living waters robe of many colors rock romans 11 romans 9 romans6 routine rubbish rubies rulers rules ruth 1 sacrament of the altar sacrament sacrifice sadness saint salt salvation samaritan sanctification satanic satan satis est saul save you saved us saved savesinners save saving scholarships school science scientist scoreboard scripture sea of Capernaum seasons sea second sign seek and find seek to kill me self-esteem selflessness senior sent before him sepulcher seraphim sermon servants servant service sexts sexual immorality sexual orientation sexual shaltanis shame shatlanis sheep knows his voice sheep shepherd shield shrewd sick sight signs simple belief simul justus et peccator simul sin no more singleness sing sinners sinner sins sin slave to sin slavery slaves become enslavers slaves small catechism snowflake social distancing social media amplifies social media sola sold into slavery son of Joseph sophia sorrow sorry soul speak as the Father taught me speaker sphere spies spirit and truth spiritualists spiritual spirit sports st. michael star steroids steward strength stress strong student loan stumbling block subjective substance suffering suicide supernatural surreal symbol synagogue systemic racism tabernacle table of duties task-oriented tax collector taxation teaching teach technology temple temptation tertullian tetelestai texts thankful the Christ the Promise the Son of Go may be glorified through it the Twelve the dreamer the truth will set you free theology there will be one flock they cast hi out thief comes to steal and kill this illness doesnot lead to death thomas tic time not fully come time titus 3 titus3 to show the work of God toil tomb tongues touch dead body touching tragedy translator trap trials tribulations trinity triune troops sent to destroy city true woshipers trust Word of God trust in God trustworthy trust truth tweets type A unbelief wrath of God unbelief unbelievers unhelpful unity universalism university unjust steward unwoke vestments victim can be in denial victim victory by the Lamb victory video vineyard tenets (Pharisees) vine virgin virology visit pastor - forgiven visitation vocation voice crying in the wilderness voice von Kram vote waiting war water and Spirit water into wine watermarked water we are disciples of Moses weakness weak wealth wedding at Cana wedding feast wedding wept where sin is ther is abuse who sinned? who sinned whoever believes in me shall live why widow will of my Father will win brother over wisdom wise witness woke wolves woman caught in adultery womb women conditioned to be agreeable working works worldview world worried worry worship worthy yahweh you are not part of my flock your father the devil youth ministry youth zealots zechariah zombie