Throughout much of 2011, I have been working on a new book called, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys of Biblical Eschatology. As that fairly ambitious title might suggest, it has been a challenging project, and one that has kept me from the blogging I so much enjoy. But just recently, I got a bright idea: Since the sections of the chapter I am now working on are relatively short, why not post each one as a blog? And since that bright idea seemed bright indeed, I’m starting today!
But first a little background. The part of the book from which these short articles are extracted deals with the proper interpretation of Old Testament Kingdom Prophecy (OTKP). As you may know, this is a theological hot-spot, surrounded by much controversy. At the risk of oversimplification, let’s just say that within evangelical circles there are basically two approaches to OTKP.
On the one hand, premillennarians interpret these prophecies more or less literally, teaching that they will be (literally) fulfilled in a future one thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth (Rev. 20).
On the other hand, amillennarians interpret them more or less figuratively, teaching that here the Spirit uses OT language and imagery to speak “mystically” (i.e., in types and shadows) of a two-staged Kingdom of God, comprised first of the Church Era and last of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
On this view, Revelation 20 is not speaking of a future earthly reign of Christ, but of his present Heavenly Reign; a reign that began when he sat down at the Father’s right hand, and that will conclude at his Second Coming. The (unknown) duration of this reign is symbolized by the number of “divine completeness,” 1000 (10x10x10).
So, count me among the amillennarians.
And because I find that perspective so delightful, in the weeks ahead I will be offering short, amillennial interpretations of some of the most interesting, difficult, inspiring, and controversial OTKP’s. As a rule, these are great favorites of our premillennial brothers. My goal here is to help them—and all my family in Christ–to see that the amillennial approach gives a far more satisfying and edifying interpretation than the premillennial.
Three NT Principles For Correctly Interpreting OTKP
We must, however, begin at the beginning. We cannot simply plunge into the forest deeps of OTKP without the adequate preparation. No, before venturing in, we must be sure that we are thoroughly equipped with the proper method of interpretation. In particular, we must be sure that we are using principles laid down by Christ and the Apostles; NT principles of OT prophetic interpretation that will enable us to see the deepest layers of meaning intended by the Spirit of God.
I want, then, in today’s blog, to set forth what I think are the three overarching New Testament (NT) principles necessary for a proper interpretation of OTKP. These constitute what I like to call the New Covenant Hermeneutic (NCH), the true NT method for interpreting OTKP. In examining these principles, I will mention a number of subordinate principles that properly fall under each heading, and also issue a few caveats that should further increase our appreciation for the subtle beauty of OTKP and the interpretive power of the NCH.
If you have your Bible in hand, we are ready to begin!