Last week I mentioned several Eschatological systems, but really didn’t elaborate on most of them.
I think it is plain that the Dispensational approach is the most biblically literal approach, and any problems with Dispensationalism are really the result of fleshly humans inserting their own understanding into the interpretation of Scripture. The idea that Old Testament saints were saved by keeping the law, would fall into this category.
When I speak of a “literal interpretation” of Scripture I am not denying that there are parts that were meant to be taken in an allegorical manner. It becomes apparent when reading and studying Scripture, which ones were meant to be taken literally and which have an allegorical interpretation. What I am really saying is the correct approach is the “plain-sense” meaning of the words, taken in the context they were given or intended.
One place, among many, where the Roman Catholic Church gets this wrong is the words of our Lord at the last supper;
17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said,Take this, and divide it among yourselves:18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:17-20
Think of the scene here; Jesus is standing at the table with his disciples. He is eating with them, and he gets their attention and makes this statement. He is still IN his body. His body had not been beaten at this time, and all of His blood was fully contained within His body.
When He passed around the matzoh and the wine, and they ate and drank it, they were not literally eating his flesh, nor were they drinking his blood. The law of Moses specifically forbade the consumption of any kind of blood;
For it isthe life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.Leviticus 17:14
The disciples clearly understood that this command was still in effect for later they repeated this command to the Church;
As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Acts 21:25
We can conclude then, that the disciples understood that Jesus’ statement that the wine was his blood, or the matzoh was His flesh was figurative, or allegorical, and not literal. The matzoh REPRESENTED His body, and the wine REPRESENTED His blood.
This is further reinforced by His statement “this do in remembrance of me.” In other words, He is not physically present in the elements, but is only represented in them.
What did He actually mean by saying “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”? (John 6:53) He actually answered this question just a few verses later: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)
Did you see that? The flesh profits NOTHING! If someone had eaten Jesus’ literal body, after He was taken down from the cross (and they did not!), they would have still been a lost sinner on the way to Hell! If someone had literally drank his blood they would still have their sins on them, and would have been heading for the lake of fire!
There is a reason Jesus is called the Word of God (John 1:1). He is synonymous with His words! What do you do when you eat a meal? You take in the food and it becomes a part of you! In the same sense, you eat the Word of God, the bible, and it becomes a part of you! You eat Jesus by reading His word, believing it, and then He becomes a part of you! Literally!
The Lord’s table is merely symbolic of what is going on inside of you!
So how does this have anything to do with Eschatology?
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.
2. A belief or a doctrine concerning the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, or the Last Judgment.
[Greek eskhatos, last; see eghs in Indo-European roots + -logy.]
To coin a phrase; You are what you believe.
Your eschatology says something of you, and your view of God.
Preterist eschatology states that everything in the bible’s end times prophecies were all fulfilled in the first century, specifically in the person of Nero and Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem. According to this philosophy there is nothing to look for, since it has already been fulfilled.
In order to believe Preterism you have to ignore the fact that Rome did not rule the entire world, nor even the entire known world. You have to ignore the fact that Rome did not impose an economic system where people were required to wear the mark of the beast in order to buy or sell.
The Preterist version of Armageddon does not have armies from China, Japan, Russia or America, but only from the various parts of the Roman empire.
Preterism teaches that, since now all the prophecies have been fulfilled, we must be in the “millennial” reign of Christ, right now! Since Christ is not physically here He must reign in and through the Church. What they do is interpret Scripture based on their eschatology, rather than form their eschatology based on the plain teaching of Scripture.
Amillennialism is in the same camp, believing that the Church must take over the world first, and then Jesus can return. Amillennialism believes that the reign of Christ is not a literal thousand years, but an undetermined length of time, in spite of the fact that Revelation 19 states six times that Christ will reign for one thousand years.
Going back to our discussion about the literal, plain-sense, interpretation of Scripture, you will see that these interpretations rely on spiritualizing, or allegorizing every passage that was meant to be literal. If a passage doesn’t say that something is “like” something else, if it doesn’t use the word “parable”, if the context does not demand an allegorical interpretation, then it was intended to be literal.
There are many dangers to these systems of interpretation. Preterism leads its adherents to discount any and all apparent fulfilments of prophecy, as being just “coincidence”. Amillennialism often teaches that the Roman Catholic church is the Harlot, and Rome is the Babylon of Revelation 17, therefore one need not look elsewhere for fulfilment of the relevant passages in Scripture. (What if Rome was destroyed, say during the Gog and Magog war? Would that mean the danger was past? I don’t think so.)
Very often adherents of both systems teach that God has no Chosen People today, and that the Church has taken the place of Israel, and transferred all of His promises to Israel, to the Church! This leads to anti-Semitism, and has been the cause of much persecution of the Jews throughout history.
Dispensationalism shines in this respect, since taking the literal, plain-sense, approach to Scripture always leads one to accept the fact that God still has a plan for natural Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Yacov.
Preterism and Amillennialism’s greatest flaw is that they lift up man. Ultimately God is dependant on the action of man. In these systems God has to wait until the Church takes over the world before He can return. Such an insult to Jesus Christ did not come from the pages of Scripture! In Acts 1:7 Jesus plainly stated that His return and the restoration of Israel is precisely in the hands of God the Father, and He has the power to bring it about when He wishes, and the Church can not hasten, nor delay that day!
The allegorical approach to Scripture, practised by Preterists and Amillennialists, is probably the most dangerous aspect of these systems. In the end, this approach will lead these people to support the Antichrist in his rise, and quest for power. Ultimately, these people will be destroyed by the very man they vote for to be the ruler of the world!
Dispensationalism, on the other hand, being the most biblically correct system, has the most demonic opposition. Satan, knowing that he can’t always win by attacking from the outside, has infiltrated, even the best system. In fact God’s system would naturally be the one he would spend the most time working against. As noted above, the idea that people were saved by keeping the law before Christ came, is one of Satan’s attacks. The idea that “There are no signs before the rapture, so there is nothing to watch for” would be another. This idea promotes complacency, and is not Scriptural.
There are others. The only way you can be sure is to study Scripture for yourself. Read good books on eschatology, and I think the Spirit of Prophecy is a good place to start, but always check everything by the Word of God. The only book that is infallible is the Word of God itself, and be careful which version of that you read! Satan has been busy attacking the very words of the Word of God, of late. Read a literal translation like the Authorized Version, and avoid paraphrase like the plague!
Every time paraphrase is used it is used to insert the thoughts of the translator into the bible! Since 1881 every new version has more paraphrase than the one before! The most recent versions have dropped any attempt at accuracy and are almost pure paraphrase. The Message, by Eugene Peterson, probably tops the list as the most antichrist bible in history, but that doesn’t mean the others are good, just less bad.
The AV, while perhaps not perfect, has no serious errors, and can be trusted. You can read it with confidence that what you are reading is substantially what God gave the authors. This is the bible that stands as the standard against which all other bibles are compared. You may have to use a dictionary, and you certainly will have to read passages over and over repeatedly. Don’t think of it as a chore, however, but as a personal letter from God to you, and it will be a joy!