Not As Good As It Gets
The consequence of reading the Bible literally is the premillennial vision of a glorious end-times Kingdom established by the glorious return of Jesus to Earth.
Amillennialists—those who believe there will be no literal, 1,000-year rule of Christ on Earth—insist the Bible should not be taken literally. They say passages that foretell events yet unfulfilled must be read according to canons of interpretation that equip the reader to extrapolate meanings other than those derived from the plain sense of the words and syntax.
They insist the Kingdom promises made explicitly and emphatically to Israel have been discovered to be the exclusive property of Christians of this age; that the Bible knows nothing of a grand and culminating end-times drama to be played out on this earth; that human history is nothing more than the dark vestibule of eternity; and that whatever Kingdom was ever promised for this earth is here today in an entirely abstract, nonobjective form that can be reduced to the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers.
Perhaps the most melancholy aspect of this allegorized vision is that it posits that what we see in the world today is as good as God can do with human history. Premillennialism, on the other hand, celebrates the biblical anticipation of a final stage of earthly history in which all things are set straight, to the glory of God.
It is curious that premillennialists are often accused of being morbidly pessimistic, of being so fixated on Jesus’ Second Coming to redeem the world that they have neglected His call to minister in the meantime. That is a canard.
But I will confess that if the question be, “Is there any hope that fallen men will produce a utopia on earth?” I am a pessimist. The better question is, “Do we serve a God so wise and so powerful that, despite the machinations and rebellion of fallen men, He is able to move human history inexorably toward that time when His Son shall reign over all the earth; when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father; and when the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as water covers the seas?”
We do, in fact, serve a God who is that glorious in His wisdom and power. And our theology ought to be framed so as to cause His children to delight in the anticipation of that day.