Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Amillennialism, Part Four

All of the OT promises made to Abraham are, thousands of years later, still the topic of debate. What did God promise to the patriarch? And who can lay claim to those promises today?

God promised to Abraham a seed, and a land for them to dwell in (Gen. 12:7). It is absolutely crucial to understand that, with all of the Abrahamic promises, there is a two-stage fulfillment that unfolds throughout redemptive history.

At the first stage, the seed promise was fulfilled in the raising up of the nation of Israel from the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Likewise, the first-stage fulfillment of the land promise was the gift of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.

But the first-stage fulfillments were provisional, temporary, and most importantly, typological. And what's more, when you get to the New Testament, the land of Canaan and the physical nation of Israel fade into the background and are eclipsed by something far greater.

You see, it is the second stage of fulfillment that Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament writers were concerned with.

According to them, the true fulfillment of the land promise is realized in the new heavens and new earth (Rom. 4:13; II Pet. 3:13; Heb. 11:10; 12:22). And even more significant is the fact that the "seed of Abraham," to whom all of the covenant promises apply, is Jesus Christ and those united to him by faith... just like Abraham was (Gal. 3:7-16; Rom. 9:6-8).

So how does this all relate to amillennialism?

Well, from these considerations it is clear that the notion that God still has promises to fulfill for a physical, geo-political nation, and further, that he must fulfill these promises by means of earthly sacrifices offered in a literal temple within the bounds of a piece of real estate in Palestine, is nothing more than a retreat back into the types and shadows of a now-obsolete covenant (Heb. 8:13).

To adopt the Dispensational (read: pre-trib) hermeneutic, therefore, is to adopt the hermeneutic of the scribes and Pharisees. To them, ethnic status and national privileges really were sufficient to secure God's blessings.

Which, of course, means that Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).