In my previous post I began explaining why I believe in Amillennialism by stating my seventeen main reasons. Beginning with this post I want to look at those reasons in more detail. I will focus on the first.
To begin, I believe Amillennialism is the best explanation for the end-times since...
1. It appears that the New Testament understands the so-called “millennial” language of the Old Testament as being fulfilled in the age-to-come (the new heaven and new earth), not in a future literal millennium.
In other words, those passages that some understand as referring to a literal future 1,000 year rule of Christ on earth that is distinct from the future new heaven and new earth is instead understood by the New Testament authors as referring to the future eternal state, the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21-22.
Let’s start with Isaiah 65:17-25. Though a hard passage, most likely what we have here is a figurative depiction of the future new heaven and new earth. After all, that is exactly what v. 17 states, and what reason do we have to distinguish verses 18ff. from that assessment? In Revelation 21-22 the Apostle John seems to take this language as referring to the future new heaven and new earth.
This means that most likely Isaiah 65:20 (“No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days…the young man shall die a hundred years old….”) is speaking of long life that, in light of Is. 25:8, means there will be no death in this future age. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul sees Isaiah 25:8 fulfilled at the second coming of Christ, i.e. when resurrection takes place—not 1,000 years later. We conclude, then, that Isaiah 65 is most likely using covenantal pictures (of long life as God’s reward)—God’s covenant of grace will be completely fulfilled and its blessings consummated. The key in this chapter is that Isaiah is using covenantal language and affirming the covenant will be ultimately fulfilled for God’s people.
Another passage many see as referring to a future literal millennium, Isaiah 11, appears to engage in prophetic foreshortening or telescoping prophecy wherein Isaiah is given a picture of the future which includes the Messianic age (New Testament Church age) moving right into the age-to-come. Of course, it is possible to posit a millennial reign thrown in here as well, but it is not demanded. When one grasps the reality the age-to-come is a new heaven and a new earth, it is most probable this language refers to the age-to-come by using this-world, i.e. this-age language, esp. since Is. 65:17-25 uses the same kind of language to refer to such a period and since Rev. 21-22 clearly has some this-world, this-age language to help describe the age-to-come.
Ezekiel 40-48 speaks of the building of an end-times temple. Rather than this referring to a future millennial literal rebuilding of the temple, there are a number of reasons to believe that the New Testament sees these chapters fulfilled in Jesus Christ as the ultimate temple (John 2:19) and partially fulfilled in this age in those united to him (the New Testament Church—1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16), who fulfill the ultimate purpose of the temple (1 Peter 2:4-10)—that being the calling of the nations to the true God (1 Kings 8:41-43). Additonally, since these chapters speak of sacrifices, it becomes very problematic to see them as literal. Based upon New Testament revelation that affirms Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice to whom these old Testament sacrifices pointed (Mt. 5:17; Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 8-10), how can there be a return to sacrifice (at least in any way God puts his stamp of approval on)? After all, the real and ultimate sacrifice, Jesus Christ, has already come!
And, if the sacrifices are not literal, why would we understand the temple as literal? Addition- ally, it appears that Revelation 22 takes this language and applies it to the New Heaven and New Earth as the ultimate and complete fulfillment (See Ezek. 47:12).
Some (especially Premillennialists) suggests that to say the Old Testament uses language of its day to refer to future events that would not be literally fulfilled discredits the Old Testament. However, Westminster Theological Seminary professor, Greg Beale, gives the following illustration as an answer. It is based on a father in 1900 promising his son a horse and buggy when he grows up and gets married.
During the early years of expectation, the son reflects on the particular size of the buggy, its contours and style, its beautiful leather seat and the size and breed of horse that would draw the buggy. Perhaps the father had knowledge from early experimentation elsewhere that the invention of the automobile was on the horizon, but coined the promise to his son in terms that his son would understand. Years later, when the son marries, the father gives the couple an automobile, which has since been invented and mass-produced. Is the son disappointed in receiving a car instead of a horse and buggy? Is this not a ‘literal’ fulfillment of the promise? In fact, the essence of the father’s word has remained the same: a convenient mode of transportation. What has changed is the precise form of transportation promised. The progress of technology has escalated the fulfillment of the pledge in a way that could not have been conceived of when the son was young. Nevertheless, in the light of the later development of technology [corresponding to the redemptive impact of the coming of Christ], the promise is viewed as ‘literally’ and faithfully carried out in a greater way than earlier apprehended.”
Bottom-line, as we allow the New Testament to give a clearer picture of all those things to which the Old Testament looks forward, I believe we are to understand the so-called “millennial” passages as not having reference to a literal millennial reign that is distinct from the future new heaven and new earth.
But there are sixteen more reasons I think this. We will continue looking at these in the next post.
 G. K. Beale, The Temple And The Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology Of The Dwelling Place Of God (Downers Grove,: IVP, 2004), 352-53, cited in Storms, Kingdom Come, 211-12.