For most of my Christian life “The Millennium” was a mysterious 1000 year period beginning after the Great Tribulation. The religious tradition to which I belonged paid lip-service to the reality of a future “millennium”, but never offered any teaching about it. Therefore the only thing I knew was what I read in Revelation and that didn’t say very much. Even the word “millennium” seemed to take on a mystical character that took it outside the realm of concrete reality.
My first informed introduction to the topic came a few years ago through teaching by David Pawson. At first I thought that most of what he was saying was based on speculation like the majority of popular teaching on end times. But if that was the case it would be out of character for him. He always makes a strong issue out of sticking with the clearest and simplest meaning of the biblical text. Was he abandoning this approach while tackling this topic?
Pawson rarely gives convenient chapter and verse bible references for his hearers to “look up”. He encourages the practice of searching the scriptures rather than checking references; and over time I started to find confirmation of his teaching as I read through the Old Testament prophets. I was surprised how much of their writings applied to the promise of an earthly rule by Israel’s Messiah.
Recently I came across a former believer (and now professing atheist) who claimed that Jesus had failed to fulfil many OT Messianic prophesies. It seemed that this understanding might have played a part in him losing his faith. An honest assessment of his view would see the legitimacy of his conclusion, but ONLY on the condition that Jesus’ time on this earth was over and that there was no further opportunity for the prophecies to be fulfilled.
Most Christians look forward to a “second-coming” of Jesus, but how many have given any thought to WHY He will return to earth? Why is it necessary? What will it achieve that could not be achieved by him remaining in heaven? Is He returning merely to bring everything to an immediate end prior to judgement? If that is the case, then what about those unfulfilled Messianic prophecies? Has God given up on them? Was He lying when He gave those words to the prophets? Or are those events still pending?
Many try to spiritualise John’s prophecy about a 1000 year period in which Jesus rules with His saints. But is it merely coincidence that John describes the very same situation that almost all of the Old Testament prophets predicted? If the prophets’ predictions were valid (which believers MUST accept if we deem that they were prophetic messages from God) then could those prophets have been predicting the very same thing that John foresaw? If so, the events they describe in their prophecies will give us a picture of life during the millennium period, filling in the detail missing from John’s account in Revelation. And the former believer’s claim of failed Messianic prophecies would be clearly premature. There is still plenty of time for the Lord to fulfil His prophesied Messianic promises.
(This article originally posted on my blogspot site on 23 Sept 2009)