The Varying Views of the Millennium

The Millennium is the Latin word for a thousand years, as in bound him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:2). The Greek, Chiliasm, meaning one thousand years, is mentioned six times. It basically means a thousand-year period of time or a long period of time, that Jesus Christ has victory over evil and corruption (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rom. 8:19-21; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 14:6-18; 19:11-16), and will physically and spiritually rule over all of the earth (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 20:1-10) from His throne in Zion/Jerusalem (Isa. 65:17-25; Zeph. 3:11-13; Zech. 9:9-10; 14:16-21). Jesus and His glory is seated on the throne, and the righteous (those who accepted Christ) will be clothed by His righteousness with authority and inhabit the New Kingdom (Dan. 7:22; Matt. 19:28; 25:34; Luke 12:32; 22:28-30; 1 Cor. 6:2; Rev 2:5), fulfilling the Kingdom of God on earth (Matt. 16:18-19; 26:29; Mark 14:25; Heb. 8:11).

What the Millennium means is also in debate as to whether it indicates a literal thousand-year reign, a figurative time period not limited to time, or an era of church history. Most biblical scholars hold that there will be a Millennium as a fact as with Election. The debate is over how long it is and when it will occur. As for election, the debate is over what is meant by God’s foreknowledge or His purpose. And, of course, as with the interpretations, there are several views, which I will lay out in the next posts…

The disputes in these three main views (oh yes, there are lots of others, but none worth mentioning) center on the chronological makeup of Revelation, what happens when what comes first (Ezek; Rev. 19:11-21 verses 20:1-10). Premillennialists believe that chapter 20 follows the Second Coming, whereas other groups do not see it that way. Jewish literature is usually not based on time sequence or chronology as Greek and Western literature are. Rather, it typifies relations and events over the time of those events. Each of these passages are descriptions and are not necessarily in any sequence other than how they relate to one another (Rev. 6:14; 11:18; 16:14-16; 17:14; 19:11-21; 20:1-15).

When our Western mind looks at the Oriental thinking, we tend to read in our philosophical notions and forget the historical and cultural relevance. Thus, our interpretations must be made with an awareness of first century thought, not how we think 2000 years removed. Again, we must exercise caution and discernment and not take any human position literally other than Christ will return in His good time, and the details will follow.

The Bible makes it clear, Christ’s Second Coming, will happen at any time, where He will return to earth and establish a literal kingdom (Matt.. 19:28; Rev. 20) and reign for a literal thousand years. This will happen unstipulated to us as a thief in the night (1 Cor. 4:5; 15:51-52; 16:22; Phil. 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 10:37; James 5:7-9; 2 Peter 3:8-15; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 1:1; 22:6). We may not agree what the sequence is and the symbols mean, but we can all agree that when the last days are upon us, it will be clear. We will have at hand unprecedented suffering, evil, and persecutions, and God will pour out His wrath on an evil world while saving those who are in Him. So, be prepared by being obedient and faithful to our Lord!

If Revelation is still confusing to you, be assured that there is no need to adopt or adhere to any particular viewpoint. In addition, none of us should be captivated to any one point. Understanding Revelation and all of the various theories and perspectives is not that important. These are debatable points. Who Christ is in you and your trust in Him to work it all out is all that is important!

Getting the Most Out of Apocalyptic Literature

It is important to note that 28% of the Old Testament is prophecy, most of which came to pass in the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament has over 20% of some form of prophecy too, of which most (although this is debated) has not yet come to pass. Thus, prophecy is important because God has dedicated a significant portion of His Word to it.

Again, do not read in what is not there. We are given a clear warning in Revelation 22:18-19 not to add in our ideas or take a way His precepts and thus teach what is false. It is OK to speculate academically, research, and argue and deliberate over the views, but we are not to seek or read in what we want and then miss what He has. A lot of Christian writers love to embellish on this subject and give their own version of what will happen. But, the scores of books that have been written in the last hundred years have not panned out in their theories. Every prediction made by many melodramatic preachers and writers have not come true because it is “their” theories, not based on fact or careful study of Scripture. The Bible clearly tells us we do not have access to that information; no one will know the time (Matt. 25:13; John 16:4).

When you come to a word in the Bible, it is best to first assume it is literal, unless the context and word cry out, “hey! This may be a metaphor!”

Just look it up in a Bible Dictionary, a Bible Background Commentary or language help, or use our website. A metaphor does not mean that the Bible is not literal, as finding the meaning of the word is a literal way to receive God’s truth. The bottom line is this; the reason why we do not always take these images literally is for the reason that this is “apocalyptic literature” written in symbolism, poetry and imageries conveying ideas and representations, whereas most of Scripture is narrative and epistles (letters) that we do take as literal; they mean what they mean plainly.

Make sure you are not reading into the Bible what you want it to say; rather, allow His Most precious Word to challenge you to lead a great fruitful Christian life! We can agree to disagree over what is literal and what is figurative, or what view one should take—or take no view at all, as I do. The main point is our love for the Lord and our willingness to learn and apply His precious Truth into our lives and church. He is the One who gives us life, salvation, is in control, has a plan, and will work it out in His perfect time!