Past, Present and Future Fulfillment of Prophecy
Many of my good friends in Christ interpret bible prophecy differently. I really to not want to separate over these differences - except where I feel they are harmful to our walk in Christ. As far back as grade school I heard preaching that the world would only become darker in the future and more horrifying than any horror film I had seen. This led me to wonder if there was any reason at all to work for a better future.
Fortunately I had influences in my life that encouraged me toward optimism. I resisted pessimism as best as I could. Many years later I found that there were several views on bible prophecy and that some reflected more of the goodness and greatness of God and His desire to bless His creation. While I do not claim to be an expert on the subject of bible prophecy, I have had a greater than average interest in it over the past 40+ years. As confusing as this subject can be, it is still an important one.
Lately I have been wondering if each of the major 3 views of the Last Days according to the bible might be partly correct. One says that the 1,000 year reign (the Millennium) is spiritual and that heaven is the ultimate goal for us anyway. Another says that very soon there will be a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ when all evil powers on this earth will be put down. Then another says that the Kingdom is spiritual and natural, but progressive. Christ is reigning now already but will not fully subdue all His enemies until He finally appears in power to the world. At the same time, we are to expect the substantial progress of the Gospel in the world to continue up until that time.
This is of course a very simplified explanation, but I feel it is helpful.
The first one I mentioned (A-Mill) is very reassuring. Things are going well according to God's perspective. "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through." By His grace we will all be together "in the sweet bye and bye." We can be a positive influence in this world but we do not get too wrapped up it it's problems.
The second one (Pre-Mill) is more realistic. The fact that the past hundred years has seen 2 world wars, a Great Depression, global terrorism, the threat of a nuclear holocaust, global pandemics etc. is not only proof that the end of time is near, but a great reason to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His promise of eternal peace. The great hope in this view is that Christ will win in the end on this earth as well, and that those who trust in Him will rule and reign with Him for a literal 1,000 years and live in heaven for eternity.
All the views take the bible seriously, and the third option makes a valiant effort to connect all the scriptures in such a way that the bible is fully validated. This (Post-Mill) position states that Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of God two thousand years ago, and that it has been advancing ever since. It grows not only in the numbers of believers but in influence in the world as well. This is to me more of a victorious eschatology and is less about an escape from the troubles of this world.
It seems to me that the division of the physical world and the eternal realm is more of an ancient Greek philosophy that found its way into Christianity through what has been called Gnosticism. Jesus did differentiate between the two but also told us to pray for God's Kingdom to come, for His will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. Was the church to wait for 2,000 years for that to happen, or were they to expect their prayers to be answered, if not at least partially in their time?
Great thinkers and godly teachers have stood behind all of these three major views of biblical prophecy. We can learn from them all. I have some unanswered questions about Postmillennialism, but I like that it challenges me to believe for greater things. It reminds me of how Jesus taught that all things were possible to those who believe in Him.