[24]    Last Things: Millennium and End Time Events

78.    How does the Bible describe the millennium? When will it occur?

a. Latin millennium means "thousand years" (Rev 20:2-5). It refers to a period of perfect peace and righteousness on earth when Jesus will reign.

b. 3 theological viewpoints regarding the millennium:

(1) Premillennialism: second coming of Christ will occur before a millennium of 1000 years. This is held by most evangelicals.

(2) Postmillennialism: second coming will occur after a millennium of 1000 years.

(3) Amillennialism: There is no future millennium. The present Church Age is the millennium.

c. Premillennialism: (1) Sequence of events: (see next question)

(2) There are two different schools within premillennialism about the timing of rapture:

(a) Classical (or historical) premillennialism: the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation (posttribulational rapture). They will immediately come back to the earth with Christ.

(b) Dispensational premillennialism: the rapture will occur before the tribulation (a secret return of Christ). They will enjoy 7 years of celebrations in the air where there will be a judgment of believers for rewards. After 7 years of tribulation on earth, all believers and Christ will come back to the earth (a public return of Christ).

(3) Biblical support for premillennialism: (a) There are some OT and NT passages describing a future period far greater than the present age yet not a perfect world like the new creation. This is probably the millennium (Ps 72:8-14; Isa 11:2-9; 65:20; Zec 14:6-21; 45-48; Zec 14:5-17; 1Co 15:23-25; Rev 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15).

(b) As an argument against amillennialism, the imprisonment of Satan in Rev 20:1-3 implies a far greater restriction than anything in the present age, this is a proof that the millennium is not what we now witness in this world.

(c) There are NT passages that refer to believers reigning with Christ over the earth (Lk 19:17,19; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21).

d. Postmillennialism: (1) Sequence of events:
(2) Biblical support for postmillennialism: (a) Since Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, and since He promises to be with us in the fulfilment of the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20), we would expect that the gospel would eventually triumph in the whole world. Objection: Christ may not use the full extent of His authority to bring about the numerical growth of the church.

(b) The parables on the gradual growth of the kingdom (Mt 13:31-33) indicate that it eventually will fill the earth with its influence. Objection: The parables do not indicate the growth will extend to the whole world. The Bible indicates that only "few" will be saved (Mt 7:13-14).

(c) The church is growing and spreading throughout the world, even at the same time it is persecuted and oppressed. Objection: The world is clearly becoming more evil with the decline of morality, even among Christians.

e. Amillennialism: (1) Sequence of events:
(2) Biblical support for amillennialism: (a) There is only one passage in the whole Bible about the millennium. Some passages describe the breaking of Satan’s power in the present age (Mt 12:28-29; Lk 10:18). Objection: There are hints of a future earthly millennium in other passages (see above).

(b) The Bible teaches only one resurrection (Jn 5:28-29; Ac 24:15; Dan 12:2). Objection: There are other passages about first and later resurrections (Rev 20:4-6,13).

(c) There is no convincing purpose for a millennium. Objection: It is possibly to vindicate God’s righteousness, showing that rebellious nature of man is not due to evil society or bad environment. There may be other reasons that we cannot imagine.

79.    What is the sequence of events at the end time?