The word millennium is used to describe something not taught in the Bible. The imaginary “millennial” reign of Christ on earth for a literal one thousand years is one of the hallmarks of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including several branches of that religious body. Most major Denominations hold to this false concept. The word “millennium” is not in the Bible. Not only is the word not found in your Bible, the idea is not there. How can anyone discuss a Bible topic that has no Bible basis? Have you ever read the word “millennium” in the Bible? If so, where?
W. Adams Brown, contributor to Hastings Dictionary of The Bible, wrote:
“Millennium -- A name suggested by the period of 1000 years described in Revelation 20:4-7 during which Satan is confined in the abyss, and the martyr saints reign with Christ. Hence variously understood, according to the interpretation put upon the passage, either as (1) the period, present or future, definite or indefinite, ‘during which the kingdom of Christ will be established upon earth, and will dominate over all other authority’ or more specially (2) as the period in which ‘Christ will reign in bodily presence on earth for a thousand years.’ In this latter sense it is associated with pre-millenarian views of Christ’s Second Coming.” Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, Volume III, page 370.
This is the one and only place a thousand years is even mentioned in the Bible in connection with a study the fantasy of a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. The forced theory is all fabricated out of these verses. Please read Revelation 20:1-8.
Every serious Bible student knows there are some fundamental things that must precede the understanding of such figurative language. Several years ago, brother H. Leo Boles, past president of David Lipscomb College and one time editor of the Gospel Advocate wrote:
1. Scriptures must be explained by Scriptures; the Bible is its own commentary.
2. Figurative and symbolic language must be explained and understood by plain and literal language.
3. No meaning must be given to figurative language that is not in harmony with plain and simple language.
4. “From the literal to the figurative, from the clearer to the more obscure, has ever been recognized as the law of Scripture interpretation.” (Trench, “Notes on the Parables,” page 43.)
5. In the explanation of Scriptures we are to restrict ourselves to what is expressly revealed or declared in the Scriptures.” (Gospel Advocate, October 12,1939, pages 955-967.)
One of the things everyone who wants to know truth must do never interpret figurative and symbolic language so as to contradict simple and plain passages. The Bible itself will explain itself if you will let it. It, and it only, is the basis of sound teaching that cannot be condemned. Revelation chapter 20 is obviously a passage in which figures of speech that could mean a hundred different things prevail. What for example do you think of when you consider the time span of one thousand years? I bid you consider this fact.
Time periods in the book of Revelation cannot be taken literally. Let me give you an example. Chapter 8 of Revelation describes a street filled with dead bodies. The city is called “spiritually” Sodom and Egypt. In this “city” the text says Jesus was crucified. First, Egypt is a nation, not a city. Second, Jesus was not crucified even “in” the city of Jerusalem. He was taken outside the gates to be crucified. Third, the three and a half days cannot possibly mean a literal 84 hour period, consisting of a literal 5040 minutes or 302,400 seconds. It would be the height of absurdity to take the period mentioned in chapter 8 as a literal span of time. But that is what the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Dawn Bible Student’s Association, and other premillennialists do with chapter 20.
Where is there any mention of a earthly kingdom in this passage? Where is there any mention of anyone ruling during this “millennium” who has not been literally beheaded for the sake of our Lord? Please note from the language that an angel had a key to a pit with no bottom. How is that literally possible? My friends, those who speculate about the end of this world, alleging an imaginary world rule by saints need to answer these questions. They want a literal thousand years, a literal kingdom on earth, with Christ as an earthly kingdom, but dodge, twist, and turn when they are asked a very simple question about a pit with no bottom.
Figurative and symbolic language must be studied in context. I mean by this that you look to the surrounding passages in the previous and subsequent verses to understand the setting. Look at just a few of the things found in the context.
(1) There is a white horse whose rider is called “The Word of God.” His clothes dripped with blood (Rev. 19:11-13). This rider had a “sharp sword” coming out of his mouth (vs. 15). Who in his or her right mind takes this literally. Suppose for a moment you say this was Jesus Christ. Do you believe Jesus will come back to earth riding a white horse and holding a literal sword in his literal mouth?
(2) John saw what he called a “beast” with the “kings of the earth” as they marshaled their armies to do battle with an “army” over which Christ is alleged to be commander-in-chief. They meet and the beast and false prophet were tossed into a lake of fire and brimstone alive mind you. Do you believe that is what our Lord will literally do when he returns? It is absurd.
(3) Now this angel appears with a key to unlock a pit with no bottom. How in the name of anything that makes sense can this be taken literally? Look at the symbolic words: “abyss,” “mark on their forehead and hand,” “Satan bound with a great chain,” and “the four corners of the earth.” Be sensible and serious now. Not one of these things can be interpreted correctly in a literal sense. You know that is true.
Why is it then, that in the midst of such highly figurative and symbolic language do the Dawn Bible Student’s Association and Jehovah’s Witness teachers take the words “thousand years” to mean a literal time period? Do you find any place in the book of Revelation in which a time span is mentioned where it definitely refers a literal time period of time?
If those of the dispensationalist persuasion want to take the thousand years to be a literal millennium, they are bound by God to take every word in association with it literally. This they neither can nor will do. Their invented speculation is a fruitless venture that misleads people into thinking the Lord failed to set up his kingdom when he left this earth and that he will be successful the next time he tries.
The serious consequence of all this is simple. If Jesus is not now king over his existing kingdom, there is no new birth. Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). If the kingdom is something waiting for the imaginary millennium, there is no kingdom now, thus no new birth now.
If the kingdom is waiting for the millennium, there is no deliverance from the power of darkness. Paul wrote the Colossians telling them they had been delivered “from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). I ask how can that be, seeing the kingdom is still waiting to be established in this millennial fantasy?
Nearly every millennialist of various shape, fashion, or hue believes in some form of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is that grand feast Paul said Christians partake of on the Lord’s Day to remember the suffering of Jesus. Jesus said only in the kingdom can the Lord’s Supper be observed. “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:29-30).
If the kingdom is still waiting for the alleged millennium, Jesus hasn’t yet instituted the Lord’s Supper. He affirmed it would be part of kingdom activity. If there is no Lord’s Supper, we have no right to partake of the sacred bread and fruit of the vine in his memory. Do these people who claim the millennium is a literal reign of peace on this earth really believe the Bible? Are they willing to accept the consequences of their vain speculations? I don’t believe they believe the word of God and I know they won’t accept the consequences of what they teach.
The term “thousand” often means a great number or quantity. Exodus 20:6 says God would show his lovingkindness to thousands. Does this mean some literal multiple of the number 1000? Surely not. John uses it figuratively in Rev. 5:11 when he says, “And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” This simply means a countless number; so it is in this passage.
The only Scripture upon which the millennialists rely for their proof does not mention the second coming of Christ, his reign on earth nor a bodily resurrection. It does it include any except the martyrs for Christ; it does not mention Christ on earth. Yet these are essential elements of their false theory. It is evident that the millennium is a device of man and not from God.
There is no verse anywhere in the Bible that indicates Jesus will ever put foot on mother earth again. If so, where is it? Where is there a verse that says anything about Christ’s kingdom lasting a mere thousand years? Where is the proof that since the Jews rejected Christ the first time, they will readily accept Him the second time?
The theory is filled with folly and error and misleads people by the millions. Those who look for the kingdom yet in the future cannot now be “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” in which “acceptable service” may be offered the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. (Read Heb.2:28).
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