Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eschatology Forum part 4

In this audio clip, Dr. Schreiner makes another argument that led him to move from the A-Mill position to the Pre-Mill position.
In Revelation 12, Satan is cast out of heaven. I think that's at the cross. He's cast out of heaven. And he's cast to the earth. In Revelation 20, Satan is confined to the abyss. If you're A-Millennial you have to argue that Satan being cast to the earth and being cast into the abyss refers, even symbolically, to the same thing, the same kind of binding. And I just found that hard to believe.
So here we have another great example of how interpretative methods matter. If we assume that John is writing a historical novel about the future while using some symbolic imagery, then these texts (Revelation 12 & 20) would become contradictory.

Another example that was given to show Pre-Mill is true is that the Beast and False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of Revelation 19, yet no mention of the Devil. In Revelation 20, the Devil seems to be destroyed in the Lake of Fire with no mention of the Beast or False Prophet. Therefore, according to Pre-Millennialists, these are two separate events making Revelation 20 continuous after 19, and not a retelling of the same story from a different perspective.

1) This is exactly the problem A-Millennialists are arguing to begin with. Revelation is not a historical novel simply using some symbols. It is Apocalyptic literature. Assuming that if John were to back up and tell the same story, assuming that John must describe the same story in the exact same way, would make John's story redundant.

In other words, why does John need to give the same account in the same way with all of the same characters with all of the exact same information? Might I suggest the movie Vantage Point?

2) In answering the first problem specifically, John is describing the Devil from different perspectives. Yet if we do not realize the style of language and the point John is making we will miss John's meaning, when he says the Devil is either in the abyss or cast down to the earth.

First the parallels in the text are so striking that only to let a more literal viewpoint interfere with the text would cause one to miss the parallels or to diminish their importance.

Second, why are symbols used in the firsts place? Allow me to quote Dennis Johnson's commentary again,
Revelation's visions show us how things are, not how they look to the physical eye.
and again,
But the symbols show us something about the church, the great city, the bride, and the Enemy, revealing what does not appear to the naked eye.
Revelation is not the only source to use such an idea. For instance the Apostle Paul speaks of mankind,
"THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING," "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS";
So here we have an open grave and the poison of asps. Which is it? Open grave or snake venom? According to Dr. Schreiner, Paul should only have used one. Paul is clearly speaking of mankind with word pictures emphasizing different aspects.

Jesus describes the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13 as soil, wheat and tares, a net and fish, hidden treasure and so on. Well, which is it?

So when it comes to Revelation 12 & 20, if we do not assume that Revelation must be a continuous novel, if we can see the parallels John is making, if we see that John is emphasizing different aspects of the Devil's power and authority, then we might see that John is being very consistent.

In Revelation 12, John is speaking about the Devil as being cast down by the event of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Yet the Devil still seeks to devour the people of God and will wage war against them. No longer is he able to accuse the people of God in the court room of God. As Paul says in Romans 8,
Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
Rom 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
In Revelation 20, we have a different picture of the Devil. Is John trying to describe the exact same aspect of the Devil? Or is he trying to give us more information about him? When it comes to the salvation and resurrection of the people of God, the Devil is in the "abyss". He is no longer able to deceive the nations. He is no longer able to stop the Gospel, even though, according to the "naked eye", the Devil makes all kinds of attacks against the church in accordance with Revelation 12.

In this age of resurrection, the Devil is bound and defeated.

3) Another major problem with Revelation 19 & 20 as being one continuous novel is the fact that all stories have their consummation. Revelation 19 is the glorious consummation of Christ's Kingdom into this world. Evil is cast out. The wicked are judged. The final battle takes place as warned in 2 Thessalonians 2. God displays the full power of the Beast being destroyed by the brightness of the Coming of the Son of Man. Does not this parallel the idea in Revelation 20?

The fact that John speaks of the different characters in both versions in different ways only adds to the amount of information John is giving to Christ's church. We now see that not only is the Beast destroyed (Rev 19), but the Devil as well (Rev 20).

To have Christ's Kingdom break down and need another salvation at the end of another age is to take away from the climax of Revelation 19 and of the glory of Christ's final defeating of His enemies and the enemies of God.

Much more could be said, and I am certain some of the 2 readers of this Blog would like to chime in some thoughts as well. Since I am done for the day, please go ahead.

2 comments:

Cory said...

Pastor Paul and I were at a wedding today (one of the best I've ever been to and probably ever will be). Anyway, we got a chance to catch up and Rev. 20 came up. He mentioned yet another aspect of 20 I had never really articulated before, namely, the premillenial idea that this is a golden age of earthly peace is NO WHERE in the text. Why do we think simply because Satan is gone there is no sin or suffering. Additionally, Sam Storms makes an argument that the reign of the saints on the thrones in Revelation 20 are heavenly. I have yet to wrap my head around it sufficiently but it's compelling when you consider that no where in Revelation are any thrones spoken of but those that appear in Heaven.
He unpacks that theory here....
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/10/07/thrones-in-revelation/

Howard Fisher said...

Sorry about my other comments. I totally misread what you wrote. They were worthy of deletion. :-)

Listening to the discussion today was a lot of fun.