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The following material was originally prepared for a tract at the

request the Pacific Coast Pastoral Conference, October 1997. For reasons of space we divide it into two parts.


— Let’s Enjoy It Now!

(Part I)

Will we enter a golden age when the calendar year turns on the year 2,000? Is there something magical about the number with three zeroes? Should we look for an era during the present age–before the resurrection of the dead–when “saints and godly men will possess a worldly kingdom and annihilate all the godless”*?

These are not idle questions. Worldly places of entertainment are already getting “fully booked” for the big New Year’s Eve celebration. People seem desperate for something better to hope for. The numbers game gets a lot of players.

Christians Too?

Yes. Some promote the idea, the fervent hope, that there will be a thousand year period–before the ending of this age–during which Jesus and His Church will rule the world in power, peace, and glory. In this golden era it is presumed that there would be no crosses for believers to take up in following the Lord.

A tempting prospect for the Church under the cross, to be sure. But it is not the picture Jesus drew about the course of things up to the day of His coming “in the clouds” (Mt. 24-25). It is still a pale, poor hope compared with what the Scriptures do hold out for us in the age to come when the Christ will say: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Mt. 25:34).

The Bible View Of Our Glory

Consider what we are taught about “the living hope to which we have been begotten again by God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The Apostle Peter terms it an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:4f). Can you imagine anything in this present age that could compare with what awaits us when the earth will be renewed?

“We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). In the meanwhile, the Church under the cross will continue to wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

But Doesn’t . . . ?

Those who await a millennial golden age make their case with a portion of the Apocalypse (unveiling) given by Jesus as a vision to the Apostle John: “I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss, and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time” (Rev. 20:1-3).

This does sound like a specific time frame of 1,000 calendar years. But not if we reckon with the nature of apocalyptic literature. Strange to us today, this kind of writing used images (such as very weird beastly creatures) and symbolic numbers to convey messages. In Revelation 13, for example, an earthly agent of the devil is pictured as a beast with a number (666, short of the divine number 777).

Ten is often the number of perfection, the rounded whole. 1,000 (10x10x10) would then represent a very definite rounded completeness. Such code language could communicate effectively for people of spiritual understanding who knew their Scriptures. At the same time it would hide information from hostile people.

What, Then, Is The “Millennium”?

Careful biblical scholarship takes the message of the “The Thousand Years” to be a much needed word of great comfort to the persecuted Church. The period described is a perfectly rounded time with a beginning and an end under the controls of the God in whose hands “all our times do rest” (Ps. 31:15).

(to be concluded)

*From the AUGSBURG CONFESSION, Article XVII. 1530

–Pastor Rollin A. Reim