From the Publisher... Reading the Book
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Every so often a certain word will become fashionable and then take on a meaning larger than originally intended. One we hear a lot these days is derived from the Latin for one thousand: millennium.
We stand on the brink of the next millennium. That very thought fills some with hope, others with despair. Optimists say things couldn't be any better; pessimists fear that they are right. Millennium has acquired a meaning that is larger than the passing of 1,000 years. It has come to represent all that is good and bad in our expectations for the future.
Some of our regular readers will know that "the Millennium" is used in this publication to refer to the 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ and His resurrected saints over the physical peoples of earth. Though the Bible nowhere uses this specific term, it clearly states that Jesus Christ will reign on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×). In Bible commentaries this period is known as "the millennium," and here, too, it has achieved a meaning that is larger than the word itself. As a result there are many misconceptions about what the Bible contains on the subject.
Some say that the main reference to the 1,000 years in the book of Revelation is symbolic, that the Millennium will never literally occur. They are "amillennialists." Others believe that the 1,000 years are here now, that we are living in the Millennium in the "church age." They are "postmillennialists." Others propose a third explanation, that the Millennium is yet ahead and that it is a literal 1,000 years of peace on earth with Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. They are "premillennialists."
Who is right? Can we know for sure? What does the Bible say?
A closer look at the beliefs of the early Church at Jerusalem will help. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, written as a contemporary history of the period, Luke records a speech by the apostle Peter. In it Peter reveals a truth that is key to understanding the Millennium.
He says that sinful humans should repent of their ways, live a new kind of life and wait with anticipation for the return to earth of Christ, "whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21 Acts 3:21Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
American King James Version×). Here is evidence of what those earliest followers of Jesus believed about His return. It is significant that they tied His return to descriptions of a new world given by the prophets of old. That tells us that we will find more evidence of early New Testament belief in the writings of the Hebrew prophets.
Whatever it is that Christ will accomplish in the Millennium is described as "the times of restoration of all things." It can hardly be said that such a healed condition has already occurred. Humanity has never experienced it! There is no evidence in the past or the present.
Furthermore, it cannot be said that the true biblical Millennium is symbolic. The prophets of old foretold with specific details the changes that society would undergo in the restoration of all things. The future fulfillment of those prophecies was as sure as the literal fulfillment of those pertaining to Christ's first coming, said Peter. Just as Jesus was literally put to death, lay in the grave and was resurrected, as prophesied, so He would literally return, as prophesied.
Is it time for you to investigate the literal truth of the world to come? If all things are to be restored, wouldn't you want to live in such a world?
You can read more about that wonderful time ahead in two of this issue's articles.