Why Covenant Amillennialists Hold
Such Utter Disdain for This Scriptural Theme
"...the New Testament knows nothing of a kingdom offered and a kingdom withdrawn according to the whims of unbelieving Israel. In fact, as the New Testament era opened, we were told that the kingdom was 'at hand' because Jesus Christ had come."
So says Kim Riddlebarger (A Case for Amillennialism, p.103), a man who doesn't even know what the Kingdom is to begin with. The logic of his above statement is perfectly backward, as evidenced by the simple fact the Kingdom did not come in the first century A.D. This indicates the proclamation that the Kingdom was "at hand" was conditioned upon Israel's acceptance of Messiah.
A lot of Christians have little understanding of the purpose and course of Messiah's first advent ministry. They just haven't given it much thought. They don't notice that Jesus was claiming to Israel that He was the Messiah. It was inner circle understanding at first, then it was more openly claimed, and finally the formal offer to Israel of Jesus as Messiah was given at the Triumphant Entry (Matthew 21:5). Israel was at first somewhat accepting of Jesus, then doubt, and support declined, then betrayal, rejection and crucifixion.
Some imagine it as though Jesus just strolled on the scene shouting "The Kingdom has begun!", leaped up on the cross and proclaimed "Mission accomplished!" Suffice to say this is not the manner in which the Messiah's first advent ministry unfolded as recorded in the New Testament. Covenant Amillennialists think everything occurred just as to be expected, no worries. Where they get such an idea, I don't know, but it certainly doesn't come from the Bible (Matthew 16:21-22, Mathew 17:22-23, Mark 9:31-32, Luke 9:18-22, John 20:26). They don't understand the reason two advents are revealed obscurely in the Old Testament, why they are oftentimes found conflated within the prophecies pertaining to them, and why Jesus' early followers had no concept of a Messiah rejected and put to death (Luke 18:34, John 1:11).
Knowing nothing of the Kingdom offered and rejected, they likewise find it impossible to understand what Jesus meant when describing His first advent ministry as necessary "that all things should be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22; 24:44). Some of their party teach that Christ's first advent was "all things."
They have no understanding of John's baptism, why Messiah was baptized, nor why "baptism" would exist prior to the cross. They have no understanding of the Transfiguration and its meaning, no understanding of the Triumphant Entry and its purpose, and no understanding of passages such as Matthew 10:23 and so forth.
When their failure to notice this theme of Christ's advent is coupled with their misconception of the Messianic Kingdom as Covenanted and prophesied, it is no wonder they end up in such a hopelessly non-Jewish and unscriptural conclusion concerning the nature of the Christian Faith and the destiny which awaits believers at the Lord's return. If one wonders how it is that people can read the Jewish Scriptures yet end up at a pagan religion steeped in Greek philosophy and Gnostic anti-materialism, it is always due to an incomplete and lazy "study" of the first advent--overlooking what was going on and why.
There is also a deeper reason Covenant Amillennialism denies this theme of Christ's advent. Because, if true... if the nation rejected an offer of the Kingdom, but it was set up despite rejection, and in a different manner to a different people, then this "Kingdom" amillennialists talk about is a "Plan B Kingdom." It is not the original plan as given in the Old Testament. To use Riddlebarger's lango, it was "a kingdom offered and a kingdom metamorphosed according to the whims of unbelieving Israel."
"If, as multitudes do, we reject the literal and engraft a spiritual meaning foreign to the common usage of language, it may well be asked how it comes that all the writers employ language which in its literal adaptation distinctly teaches the Kingdom that we advocate: and that they did not use the language, ideas and reasonings now so prevalent and first introduced about the third century. Why this disruption of a marvelous unity? Is it really necessary for the sake of the truth that such a transformation of meaning--so hostile to these 'Jewish conceptions'--should spring up and be cherished in 'the consciousness of the Church'? Is it requisite that such an antagonism should exist between the plain language of the Bible and that of the dominant Theology? No! never, for this would at once argue imperfection in God's Word, a mere accommodation to human weakness, and that He, the God of all truth, purposely led a host of believing people (both Jews and Christians) into gross error pertaining to the leading doctrine of the Bible. Before such a change of meaning can be adopted, it must be shown that God Himself directed such a transformation of the import and signification of language; that He cancelled the covenant made with David and the elect position of the Jewish nation; that He recalled the predictions of prophets, and that He altered the Divine Plan originally proposed. When we ask why this introduction of a sense so radically diverse from that entertained for thousands of years (and which, the latter, was a source of confident hope and joy to so many believers), the answer is given, that as the Kingdom as predicted by the prophets was not literally established at the First Advent, the Christian Church being then instituted, the Church must be the Kingdom intended. Upon this presumption--seized and used against Christianity by the destructive school--the superstructure of a Kingdom now present is reared, and the language of covenant, prophet, Jesus, and Apostle is spiritualized to fit the assumed theory. And in the contest it is strange to find that men materially differing in the use they make of it (as e.g. the author of Ecce Homo on the one side, and the writer of Ecce Deus on the other) still agree in taking for granted a premise utterly unproven, actually resisted by the Word, and which in its nature and tendency makes the Scriptures and Theology irreconcilable. Did the Jewish nation obey the condition of repentance upon which the Kingdom was offered to them? Did the disciples preach a Kingdom which was, in their ignorance, 'a mere chimera'? Did Jesus predict the continued desolation of the Kingdom until His return the Second time? These and numerous other questions suggested by our previous Propositions must first be reasonably and scripturally answered before the far-reaching and destructive premise, now so confidently paraded and entrenched in the Church, can be received by the careful student of God's Word." - George N.H. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom, vol.3, pp.222-223 [Prop.177,Obs.3] (italics in original)
"Though the kingdom occupies so large a place in the Sacred Text, the theme of the kingdom has been more misunderstood and its terminology more misapplied than any other one subject in the Bible. . . . Similarly, the earthly kingdom that according to the Scriptures had its origin in the covenant made to David, which is mundane and literal in its original form and equally as mundane and literal in uncounted references to it in all subsequent Scriptures which trace it on to its consummation, is by theological legerdemain metamorphosed into a spiritual monstrosity in which an absent King seated on His Father's throne in heaven is accepted in lieu of the theocratic monarch of David's line seated on David's throne in Jerusalem." - Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol.5, p.315
So we see that this is an important subject after all, Riddlebarger's complaints aside, and we will find that not only is this theme very clear and necessary as revealed in the New Testament, but also, this theme creates a serious problem for the Amillennial doctrine.
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