hermeneutics

Trends (and when not to follow them)

For years now, my family has been giving me a hard time because I choose to put colored lights on my tree. It’s been an ongoing conversation since my husband and I were married. Early on, we settled on white lights outside and colored lights on the tree. But as time has gone on, colored lights have gone more and more out of fashion. Currently, the trend is definitely not colored lights. I really don’t feel that strongly anymore, although I do love colored lights. Something about those bright colors twinkling and glowing. I always did love colorful things. That love doesn’t just disappear when the trend changes, as out-of-style as it may be.

Trends can be demanding things. Even pushing us towards things that we don’t really care for or outright despise. But because we want to look or be like everyone else, we do them anyway. Trends change constantly, making most anything new we buy “out of style” within a few years. Trends can even function as prison bars when “keeping up with the Jones’ ” becomes an obsession.

There is nothing, in and of itself, wrong with following a trend. Many of you prefer white lights. They happen to be on trend. Perfect. Sometimes we like what’s “on trend” and that’s easy. The not-so-easy part comes when we choose not to follow the trend. This is particularly true for those who care a great deal about what people think.

Of course, then there are others who rebel against trends and do everything to not be like the rest of the world.

And then there are those who just don’t care.

However you view the trends of home style, fashion, and any other thing really doesn’t matter too much–unless it leads you into sinning before God. For example, choosing to dress immodestly because you want to follow the fashion trend or choosing to go in debt to buy new “stuff” because the trends are so important to you.

But there is one place trends really matter. There is one place that we have no luxury to follow or not follow any trend.

And that is in biblical interpretation. How we interpret the Bible can never be about a trend and must always be about what does it actually say?

I realize that most of you probably believe that you aren’t touched by the current trends in Christianity (although I believe you are touched by the people you choose to read and listen to much more than you know). You probably don’t realize the sacrifice one must make to actually stand up and say they believe in a future for Israel or a literal Revelation. You see, this belief is definitely not on trend.

What is currently on trend regarding the future of the world?

There are three really popular trends regarding the future of the world in the Christian realm. First, there is Amillennialism which teaches that we are currently in the millennium now and awaiting Christ’s final return. Second, there is Replacement Theology, which believes that the church has replaced Israel as the recipient of God’s promises. And, third, there is Postmillennialism, which teaches that there will be a time in the future where the entire world will be converted to Christianity and usher in the Kingdom of God.

Now, I am not going to take the time to explain why these views are clearly wrong if we examine them through the light of scripture. All I will say at this point is that I have done quite a bit of research–especially on Amillennialism and Replacement Theology, as this is what most of the reformed world believes. Many godly men and women believe this. This is what intellectual Christianity teaches. And if you choose not to believe this, you are viewed with condescension and even ridicule in those circles.

Postmillennialism is pretty much reserved for those in the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) camp. I do believe, however, that this belief of God’s Kingdom coming to earth will be critical in ushering in the antichrist’s kingdom, so it is definitely worth understanding what it teaches.

But, as Berean believers, who search the scriptures, we want to remove ourselves from the trends and find out what scripture actually teaches. After all, the above views aren’t innately wrong because they are on trend.

And so I want to take a few moments to point out just a few reasons why I believe there will be a future for Israel and why there will most definitely be a literal Revelation.

First, it is clearly what the Bible teaches. If we would come to the Bible as a simple peasant and simply read the Bible from cover to cover (something I highly recommend to come to truly understand God and His plan for all mankind), this will be the view that we come away with. It isn’t until we start reading outside sources that our thinking may be swayed. Let me add here that the early church believed in a literal one thousand year reign (called Chiliasm). It wasn’t until the third century that Augustine, in his fervor to remove the church as far away from Jewish beliefs as possible, came up with allegorical approach to the prophetical scriptures. Interestingly enough, one has to literally do hermeneutical somersaults and backflips to come to an amillenial belief. Oh, they will intimidate you with their intellectual arguments and complicated terms. But when we take scripture as it is written, it is clear: There is a future for Israel and there will be a literal Revelation.

Second, it is the only view that aligns perfectly with God’s character. It wasn’t until recently that this started to especially resonate with me. Many times throughout scripture we read of God’s everlasting love for Israel. We read of His promises of blessing and prosperity to this special people group. We find this throughout the Old Testament. We also find this in Romans 9-11, the passage God used to solidify my belief and understanding that there is most definitely a future for Israel.

Imagine a God who makes these promises and then churlishly decides that the Jewish people haven’t behaved in the way He wanted so He has decided to “transfer” these promises to a group of Gentiles called the “Church.” Is that the kind of God you want to serve? A God who doesn’t keep His promises? A God’s whose “everlasting love” isn’t actually everlasting? I don’t think Amillennialists truly understand what they are saying about God’s character.

Third, history proves this. I challenge you–if you have any doubt regarding a future of Israel–to do a study of their modern history. The fact that they are even still a cohesive people group after being removed from their land and scattered throughout the world is an absolute miracle. The fact that they make up like .2% of the world’s population and have produced 20% of the 900 Nobel prize winners and are responsible for so much innovation and technological advances in this world seems more than some strange coincidence. The fact that the Balfour Declaration issued in 1917, which promised of a Jewish Homeland, coincides, to the very day, the date set specifically by Daniel and Haggai is astounding. These are just three in a long list that show that the Jews are a very special people–God’s chosen ones whom He has certainly not forgotten and will never, ever stop loving with His everlasting love.

Fourth, current events confirm this. For many years, we wondered how a Revelation 13 scenario could possibly take place. Oh, we believed it would, but many things remained a mystery. But, suddenly, particularly over the past two years, many of those mysteries have been solved. As we continue to march into the world’s uncertain future, the one thing that is most certain is that there will be a literal Revelation.

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I have made the choice to not follow the trends when it comes to the Bible and Bible prophecy. I have made this decision because I believe with all of my heart that the trends are definitely NOT what the Bible teaches. If you are in doubt, being swayed by so many these days who would move you with their intellectual arguments, I encourage you to just read the scripture, particularly the prophets and the book of Revelation with an open heart and mind. I encourage you to read of the incredible history of modern day Israel (I only touched on the many miracles and “coincidences” surrounding the birth and ongoing presence of this nation. There are so many more!) I encourage you to view what is happening in the world through the view that Revelation will be fulfilled literally.

I believe that these other wrong views of eschatology are distracting true believers from seeing what is happening right in front of their very eyes. It is disheartening to see how many can’t see that the end is near and the return of Christ is truly imminent.

Now I do realize that I can’t change your mind nor am I trying to. I am simply writing what God has revealed to me through the reading and studying of His Word and also through my study of history and current events. It all fits together so perfectly that is hard to believe people can’t see. The confirmation of the Bible throughout all of history and especially in this current day is truly astounding. And so I choose to believe in the literal interpretation of scripture–no matter what the current trend.

 

 

Why I Believe the Book of Revelation Will Be Fulfilled Literally

If you are over the age of 50, you can remember a time when the church was very focused on the rapture and the tribulation and what that would look like. Movies like Thief in the Night and A Distant Thunder brought fear and trembling as we considered our standing before God and what the world might look like after the rapture. The interest died down in the 80’s a bit and then was renewed a few years later with the Left Behind book series put out by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye.

And then something drastically changed. Suddenly, most churches became silent on the topic. I remember talking to someone who told me that they didn’t even know what their church teaches on eschatology. They never talk about it.

But many in the intellectual circles started teaching an eschatology that was different than what I had always believed in. Replacement Theology, Amillennialism, Post-millennialism, and Dominionism (or Kingdom Now theology) all grew in the wake of the church’s silence as people searched for answers. Many landed with the intellectuals who were declaring that their eschatology was coming from the early church fathers, such as Augustine (I’d like to add here that it is better to get our eschatology from the Bible as one only has to look back before Augustine to recognize that the early church actually taught pre-millennialism.)

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but probably over half (or more) of believers would not believe in a literal Revelation. To believe in this is to subject yourself to much scorn, particularly in the intellectual circles of Christendom.

And, so, today I want to explain to you my own personal journey and how I landed quite solidly in believing that Revelation will be fulfilled literally. While this was what I was taught as a child, I did not automatically assume this as an adult. God has, step by step, been showing me this truth through a variety of avenues. I have much more to learn and God keeps teaching me, for which I am extremely grateful.

Before I go on, I want to make sure you understand that I firmly believe that those who don’t agree with me on eschatology are still my brothers and sisters in Christ if they believe in faith alone through Christ alone for salvation.

So, on to my own journey of how I ended up where I did.

1. The Miracle of Israel  I believe the first step in this journey was a book I just “happened” upon. It was a secular work of fiction called Exodus by an author named Leon Uri. To be honest, I have no idea how I came across it or what made me pick it up but this book changed forever how I viewed the nation of Israel. As the author told a fictional story that was filled with many facts of the birth of modern day Israel I was astounded and even shocked at the miraculous and supernatural nature of it. It gave me much pause for thought that even a secular author could see this. More research into the actual event confirmed what the author had written.

The modern-day nation of Israel should not exist. But God. His supernatural protection of her has continued to this day. To me, this eliminated Replacement Theology. There was no way God didn’t have a future for Israel. Why, we were seeing it come to fruition right in front of our eyes!

I could expound a bit more but I don’t want this to get too long. So may I encourage you to do your own research to confirm what I am saying here? I truly believe, you, too, will be surprised at what you find.

2. My Personal Study of Romans 9-11 As I was reading through the Bible for the first time ever, I had finally reached the book of Romans. To my shame, I had never read the whole thing through. When I read Romans 9-11, I was shocked at the clarity with which Paul himself talks so clearly about God and His Love for Israel. Here we find that, clearly, God has a future planned for Israel. To come away with any different interpretation is to do interpretive somersaults and back flips. Oh, it may sound intellectual but I wasn’t looking for what sounded intellectual. I was looking for what is right.

3. A Consistent Approach to Hermeneutics (which is: the study of the general principles of biblical interpretation)  I remember having a conversation with a pastor many years ago now and his comment to me was that he just can’t understand how [the Reformed crowd] simply change their hermeneutics when they reach Revelation. This led me to find out exactly what he meant. What exactly were Hermeneutics and why do they matter? I read a whole book on interpreting the Bible correctly and then took an online course on Hermeneutics, in my efforts to understand why it matters how we interpret scripture. What I came away with was exactly what the pastor said. If we apply a literal-grammatical-historical approach consistently to scripture, we always end up with a literal Revelation.

I remember hearing Abner Chou once say something like this: “If the plain sense makes sense, there is no need to look for any other sense.”

There is no need to look for allegories unless what we read makes no sense. And Revelation makes perfect sense. Especially in light of what we are seeing today, which leads me to my next point.

(There is so much more to say here but, again, I encourage you to dig on your own. A great place to start is this essay written by Abner Chou. It is long and hard to read but it is helpful for someone who is truly searching.)

4. Current Events What is happening around us has always been a pretty convincing argument that Revelation was going to be fulfilled literally. It just made sense. But, as I have watched the events of 2020 and now 2021 unfold, I have stood back and watched with awe. If anyone has had any doubts about a literal Revelation, I can’t see how they continue to do so after the past eleven months! We are watching the world get set up for a Revelation 13 scenario in ways we never dreamed we’d see in our lifetimes. It’s honestly incredible. And, yet, still so many just can’t see. I have found the past year to be incredibly confirming of scripture. What was prophesied 2000 years ago is getting set up to take place right before our eyes!

I was going to write a whole post on how the signs of the times are converging so perfectly with what we are told will happen in the book of Revelation but if you can see it, you can see it. If you can’t (or you say you can’t even though you can), then you may be holding too tightly to a wrong eschatology or you might be gripping on to life here on earth and unwilling to see reality.

5. Understanding How Incorrect Eschatology Plays Into Satan’s Plan. If we are willing to take a step back and look back over history, we can see the role that replacement theology (the Church has replaced Israel) has played in anti-semitism. To be sure, I am not implying that most who hold this theology are anti-semitic but many of those who have believed in it have been anti-semitic, including Martin Luther.

As we turn our view to what is happening in our world currently, we can see how wrong eschatology changes how we view what’s happening. Let’s take a look specifically at Kingdom Now Theology (also called Dominionism). To put it very simply, this is the view that Christians will work to make the world better and better, as we prepare it for the Lord Jesus at His return. From the Bible, we see that the antichrist is going to bring a false sense of peace to this world. Think how vulnerable those who believe in Kingdom Now Theology will be to a man who claims to be working for God? Think for a moment, if you will, how they will actually help bring in this false system of light because they have been deceived. They are, in essence, working against God instead of for Him.

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So these are a few ways that God has used to bring me to an understanding of the future as prophesied in the book of Revelation. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I am no Bible Scholar. I am not even asking you to believe as I do. I am more interested that you are willing to actually study the Bible to come to your own conclusion. You see, so often we rely on men to tell us what we should believe instead of studying the topic for ourselves.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with someone and I pointed out the compromise of a certain (very popular) teacher, using scripture to back up what I was saying. The response was from a heart unwilling to see. When I asked her to back up what she was saying with scripture, she replied that it wasn’t necessary. Basically, she was going to believe what she wanted to believe.

What that person didn’t realize was that she had made herself the authority on what to believe, rather than holding the Bible as her authority.

While this is probably worth a post all on its own, my point is that the starting place to find out what we believe about the end times is a humble heart with an open Bible. No matter what you believe about eschatology, it’s important that we know why we believe it from the Bible.

There is much more depth to the defenses for and debates surrounding these different eschatologies than I am able to delve into here. I know that those who believe a different way have a multitude of reasons that they could proffer for their beliefs.

But I am here to encourage you to think for yourself.

Don’t let an intellectual sway your thinking. Don’t be moved by peer pressure or the scorn of a certain group of people. Be willing to ask God to give you insight and then study His Word. And then bravely stand on what you believe.

No one can make you believe a certain way. You get to choose. Do so wisely. Cast your own preconceived notions and favorite teachers aside. And then search out the truth in God’s Word with a willing heart, no matter what the cost.

 

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