How does an A-Millennialist deal with Isaiah 65:20? Here we have a passage in which Isaiah sees a vision of new heavens and a new earth. In this same passage, it states that animals will be at peace with one another, and the lion will eat straw like an ox does. Also, infants dying at birth will not occur any longer. And if someone dies before they reach 100 years old, it will be due to a curse upon them. If someone gets to 100 and dies then, they will be thought of as a youth.
Pre-Millennialists see this passage, along with many others in the old testament, as referring to a messianic kingdom here on earth lasting for 1000 years. A-Millennialists do not believe in a literal 1000 year kingdom here on earth after Christ returns. But what do they do with a passage that states there will be extended periods of life in the new heavens and new earth, but death will still be present? Where does it fit?
You can view Kim Riddlebarger’s response to this question at this post here. If you are interested in reading the rest of my post, please do me a favor before going any further. Go to Dr. Riddlebarger’s post and read it now. Have you read it? If not, click on this link here and read it in its entirety. Have you read it now? Good. What did you think of his response? Was it adequate? Or were you left scratching your head? Do you think Dr. Riddlebarger answered the question in a clear, concise manner? Please don’t go any further without reading his post, just click here. Now on to my comments.
Riddlebarger’s response is in four parts. In the first section he brings out a lesser used word to say that there is an intersection of sorts in the passage. Because the verse in question is at the center of an intersection, where certain ideas overlap, this mean that the idea of people dying in the new heavens and new earth is different than what we would understand in just reading the passage at face value. He basically states that this is referring to the eternal state instead of a millennial kingdom. But does that solve the problem? Has Dr. Riddlebarger dealt with the presence of death in this new heavens and new earth? No.
In the second portion he focuses a bit more on the language. But do we have an explanation? He quotes Motyer to say that we have no capacity to understand this world to come, so it is in different terms than we might expect, since it has to be in terms that we can understand. Do you follow what is being said here? The idea is that God is presenting us with language that states that death will occur in a certain diminished capacity than it occurs now, but Motyer and Riddlebarger are saying that it will not happen the way that God worded it because we have no capacity to understand this new heavens and new earth. Has the language been dealt with, or dismissed as irrelevant? It has been dismissed as not applicable due to the fact that even though God revealed it, they are saying that God doesn’t have the ability to reveal it.
In the third section I ask, how can the new heavens and new earth not be the natural order? At that time it will be the natural order just like these heavens and this earth are the natural order. And what is our understanding of covenantal blessings? Jeremiah 30-33 shows that Israel will be at the center of covenantal blessings when Israel dwells securely as a nation with one heart and the Davidic Messiah ruling over them. Has this third point dealt with the language? No.
And for the fourth and final portion, while this response is primarily directed at Post-Millennialists, I don’t think this hits the mark either. How does lining the prophecy up with the New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22 deal with the language? It is an assumption that this New Heavens, New Earth, and New Jerusalem occurs subsequent to the thousand years. There is language here to suggest that the nations continue, Rev. 21:24-26, some will be in need of healing, Rev. 22:2, and outside the city sinners will still exist, Rev. 22:14-15. I think it is right to see this passage in Isaiah as occurring at that same time, which means during the thousand years. And yet in this fourth portion of the explanation, the language has still been avoided.
I wanted to post a quick response to this issue because of the current series that I am writing. I think addressing these issues is good, but I really don’t think Dr. Riddlebarger addressed the issue at all. What do you think?
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