In my last post, I talked about the connection between eschatology (the study of last things or end times) and hermeneutics (how scripture is interpreted). A person’s eschatology will flow from how they interpret scripture so when people talk about eschatology, they’re also (perhaps unconsciously) talking about how to interpret scripture. Given that the integrity of scripture is the subtext of conversations about eschatology, discussions can get intense!
Ironically, I didn’t understand my own eschatology before making the connection between eschatology and hermeneutics. For years, I didn’t think I fell into any end times camp. I can honestly see value in more than one perspective. I have gleaned scriptural insights from pre-millennialists and post-millennialists alike. Reading a book about preterism was one of my most challenging but beneficial forays into eschatology.
But when all was said and done, I realized I fell into the amillennial camp because I don’t interpret Revelation 20 literally. Since then, I begrudgingly accepted the label. This naturally flows from my hermeneutic or the way I interpret scripture, which my blog amply documents 😉
What is my hermeneutic? In a word, Luke 24:45-46: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.’” When I approach scripture, I first try to understand its basic meaning, genre, etc. Is it history? Poetry? A letter? Is literal or figurative language employed? All of this is important but I don’t believe the full meaning of any scripture is found in understanding these things.
Once I more or less grasp the basic meaning of a text, I ask Jesus to open my mind so that I can understand it. When Jesus reveals the meaning of a text, it always has to do with Himself—particularly His death, burial, and resurrection (as Luke 24:45-46 say).
For instance, when Leviticus 7:17 commands that meat from a freewill offering be eaten or burned by the third day, it is also a picture of Christ’s resurrection—our sacrificial Lamb was no longer in the tomb on the third day.
Much of the New Testament is devoted to showing how Christ is revealed in scripture. So I am in good company when it comes to this approach. And this, again, is why I had to accept the label amillennial.
Earlier this year, our church went through Revelation, and I got to preach chapter 20. In June, I posted a link to my sermon on Revelation 20, and I will post it here again in case anyone wants to hear my take on this difficult chapter: https://m.facebook.com/ThorpCommunityChurch/videos/thorp-wa-community-churchsunday-may-16-2021-1000ampastor-roger-mccuneteague-mcka/1605560862983744/?_rdr (The sermon starts at about 21 minutes, 30 seconds).
In the end, there is much more to being Christ’s than eschatology and hermeneutics. If I can tweak something Jesus said, we can give great attention to matters of Bible interpretation but neglect the weightier matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt. 23:23). As Jesus advised, we should practice the latter without neglecting the former.