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    CHAPTER 17. The Millennium

    THE word millennium, from the Latin mille, thousand, and annus, a year, means a thousand years. It is used altogether with reference to the thousand years spoken of in Revelation 20:4, 5, 7, during which all overcomers in the Christian warfare will live and reign with Christ, the captain of their salvation. Tradition has it that this thousand years is the seventh in order from the creation of the world, following six thousand years of the reign of sin and the triumph of evil. It is the coming golden age of the people of God, set before them as an object of hope, to stimulate them in their efforts to overcome and secure the great salvation; but the enemy of all truth seizes upon it as the basis of one of his most effectual last-day delusions by which he will lull many into a feeling of carnal security, and thus compass their ruin at last.SYNPT 167.1

    1. What is the derivation of the word “millennium?”
    2. What is its meaning?
    3. With reference to what is it used?
    4. What tradition exists on the subject?
    5. How has the doctrine been perverted?
    6. How does it obstruct the doctrine of the coming of Christ?

    When we proclaim that the coming of Christ is at hand, and warn men that they must now make haste to prepare for the close of probation and the end of all things, or it will be everlastingly too late, those who are under the influence of the doctrine of the temporal millennium respond: “Oh, no! the world is to be all converted, and we are to have a thousand years of peace and righteousness before Christ can come.”SYNPT 167.2

    This is the doctrine of the “temporal millennium,” so largely indulged in by professors at the present day. It is a doctrine of comparatively recent origin, being introduced by Daniel Whitby, D.D., in the latter part of the seventeenth century. The apostle has told us (1 Thessalonians 5:3) that when the last overwhelming destruction is just about to burst upon the world, the mass of the people will be so happily dreaming of quiet and prosperity, that they will be in the very act of crying peace and safety. We arraign this doctrine as the chief element of the peace-and-safety cry, the warp and woof of the great error which will more than anything else close the eyes and ears of men and women against the solemn and all-important doctrine of the impending advent of the Son of God.SYNPT 168.1

    The few texts urged in defense of this doctrine are entitled to candid notice.SYNPT 168.2

    7. When did this doctrine originate?
    8. What scripture is it fulfilling?
    9. How is Psalm 2:8, sometimes misapplied?
    10. What shows that it does not mean the conversion of the world?

    1. Psalm 2:8: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” This is correctly understood as a promise made by the Father to the Son. But that it does not mean the conversion of the world is sufficiently shown by the very next verse: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”SYNPT 168.3

    2. Daniel 2:34, 35. It is claimed that the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, here mentioned, which represents the kingdom of Christ, will roll and absorb the material of the image, till it fills the whole earth. But the prophecy does not so represent the matter. The stone smites the image upon its feet, dashes to powder its different parts (earthly governments), so that like chaff they are blown away, and find no place in God’s new economy. The stone has nothing in common with these. The kingdom represented by the stone does not grow by gradual accretion, but is set up in full strength and glory, when Christ’s foes are made his footstool, and he takes to himself his great power, and reigns.SYNPT 169.1

    3. Isaiah 66:8. This text is usually quoted, “A nation shall be born in a day,” and made to mean that the progress of the gospel shall be so rapid that a whole nation shall receive it in a day. Correctly quoted, the text reads, “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once?” This evidently refers, not to the conversion of men, but to the resurrection of the just from the dust of the earth.SYNPT 169.2

    11. What is claimed from Daniel 2:34, 35?
    12. What is its true meaning?
    13. How is Isaiah 66:8 misquoted?
    14. To what does it refer?
    15. When does Revelation 11:15 apply?

    4. Revelation 11:15: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” But this, observe, is under the third and last woe, and is connected with God’s wrath, and his judgments; and his enemies (those who destroy or corrupt the earth) are to be themselves destroyed, not converted.SYNPT 169.3

    5. Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel ... shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” But it is not said that every individual will hear it, much less obey it. But even if it did, it would still be far from sustaining the position of our friends; for then, according to the text, the end would come; but they say, No, not till a thousand years thereafter. The gospel shall be a “witness” to all nations, and “take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14), nothing more.SYNPT 170.1

    16. What is the teaching of Matthew 24:14?
    17. Do Isaiah 2:3, 4 and Micah 4:1 record what the Lord says, or what “the people” say?
    18. What shows how wide the people are from the truth?
    19. When will Jeremiah 31:34 be realized? and why?

    6. Isaiah 2:3, 4; Micah 4:1: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” These words occur in both Isaiah and Micah. But if the reader will examine the context of both passages, he will find that the words quoted are what the people say shall occur in the last days, not what the Lord says. And this is just what the people are now saying. In fact, these passages are a prophecy that this doctrine of a temporal millennium would be preached in the last days; and we are having the fulfillment. But how far this teaching is from the truth may be learned by comparing it with what the Lord calls upon the people to do in the last days, as recorded in Joel 3:9-14: “Prepare war.... Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears,” etc. And the fulfillment of this we are also having.SYNPT 170.2

    7. Jeremiah 31:34: “They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” This is a part of the predicted blessing of the new covenant, under which we reach immortality and the eternal state. And in that state this condition of things will be realized, but never here.SYNPT 171.1

    8. Numbers 14:21: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” In connection with this text see also Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9; and Matthew 5:5, compared with Psalm 37:9-11. If the earth in its present condition was to continue forever, it would be necessary, perhaps, to make some such application of these passages as our friends make, and look somewhere in its history for the conversion of the world. But when we learn that there is to be a new dispensation, in which all shall be restored, a new earth out of which evil-doers shall be cut off, and in which the righteous shall dwell, we must apply these texts to this new order of things.SYNPT 171.2

    20. When can the texts of paragraph 8 be fulfilled, if not in this present state?
    21. How is Isaiah 65:17-25 made to favor the view of a temporal millennium?
    22. How does Peter explain this passage?
    23. To what does the prophecy of Isaiah 65:17 therefore refer?

    9. Isaiah 65:17-25: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,” etc. It is only by the most distortive efforts to make language figurative, that this portion of Scripture can be impressed into the service of temporal millennianism. But all such efforts are vain in view of the plain explanation of the passage given by the apostle Peter. He speaks of the destruction of the antediluvian world by the flood, which was, of course, this literal earth. 2 Peter 3:5, 6. He then speaks of the “the heavens and the earth which are now,” this literal earth which we inhabit, and these heavens which we see, and says that these are to be destroyed by fire; but he further declares that this is to be followed by a new heavens and a new earth, just as literal, certainly, as the ones already mentioned; and he says that this is according to God’s “promise.” But when Peter wrote, no promise of this, couched in such phraseology, had been given, except in Isaiah 65:17-25. This prophecy therefore refers to the literal future new earth, not to any work of grace to be accomplished in this old one.SYNPT 171.3

    Having examined the principal texts quoted to prove the conversion of the world, and the temporal triumph of Christianity for a thousand years in the present dispensation, and having shown that these texts cannot be so interpreted as to mean what is claimed for them, we now ask attention to a few of the positive declarations of Scripture which prove that no such state of thing as that indicated above can exist in this world prior to the second advent.SYNPT 172.1

    24. What other class of scriptures now demand attention?
    25. What does the horn of Daniel 7:21, 22 symbolize?
    26. Will it ever be reformed?

    1. The little horn exists as a power hostile to the true church till the coming of Christ. Says Daniel 7:21, 22, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High: and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” This little horn symbolizes the papacy. The papacy is never to be reformed. It exists till it is destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. A triumphant church, a converted world, with the papacy, that great antichristian power, doing its work of death therein, would be an impossibility.SYNPT 172.2

    2. The wicked continue with the righteous, as illustrated by the parable of the wheat and the tares, until the end of the Christian age. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. This parable represents the righteous by wheat, the wicked by tares. Both are to grow together till the harvest. The harvest is explained to be the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels who are sent to gather the elect when the Lord appears. Matthew 24:31. There is no period in all this time for the tares to become wheat for a thousand years, as would have to be the case if at any time the world became converted, and then turn back to tares again, as would also have to the case; for when the Lord comes, he finds little faith, but great wickedness on the earth. Luke 18:8; 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.SYNPT 173.1

    27. How and when will it be destroyed?
    28. Can there be a converted world with the papacy still ruling?
    29. What is taught by the parable of the wheat and tares, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-48?
    30. What is the harvest?
    31. What condition of faith will the Lord find when he comes?
    32. What is the portion of God’s children in all ages?

    3. Persecution and tribulation are appointed as the portion of the children of God in all ages. Such it was from the days of Abel to the days of the apostle Paul, according to Hebrews 11. Pointing back to the ancient worthies, who, beholding the reward afar off, endured all manner of tribulation, but died before receiving the promises, the apostle says, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39, 40. He declares again that they that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), and it is elsewhere stated that this would be especially the case in the last days, when scoffers would abound (2 Peter 3:3), and Satan would work in mighty power. Revelation 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.SYNPT 173.2

    4. The last days, which are considered by believers in the world’s conversion and the temporal millennium as the most favorable for the accomplishment of that object, are described by the apostle as days of special peril, in reference to which he warns the church: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come,” etc. Even professed Christians, it is declared, would be so far carried away by the prevailing evils, that it would be necessary for the true to turn away from the false. Nineteen terrible charges are made against those even who have a form of godliness; and “from such,” says the apostle, “turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. How could this be, if the world was converted?SYNPT 174.1

    5. According to the declarations of Peter (2 Peter 3:3), scoffers are to arise in the last days, and inquire, “Where is the promise of his coming?” which could not be the case if the world was all converted, and so remained a thousand years before his coming.SYNPT 174.2

    33. What is the character of the last days as described by the apostle?
    34. When do Peter’s scoffers arise?
    35. How do the last days compare with those of Noah and Lot?

    6. The last days are to be like the days of Noah and Lot. Then the multitudes rejected the truth, and perished; the few believed, and were saved. “Even thus shall it be when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:26-30.SYNPT 174.3

    7. At the very time when the world and the great mass of professors of religion are cherishing the delusive hope of a good time coming, of peace and prosperity, destruction, and not the conversion of the world, is impending. “When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. The doctrine that the world must be converted, and a thousand years of peace and righteousness intervene, before the Lord comes, is the very soul and essence of such a cry as the apostle mentions; and that doctrine has arisen, and is being zealously promulgated, during these later years. No one need be deceived; for the apostle tells us, in the text last quoted, what the result will be.SYNPT 175.1

    36. What is impending when the cry of peace and safety is heard?
    37. How is the way to destruction and the way to life described?
    38. Will theses ways ever change?
    39. Do we anywhere read that the world will some day desert the way to destruction, and press into the way of life?

    8. The way to destruction ever has been, still is, and will be to the end of time, a broad and easy way, but the way to life a strait and narrow way. Our Lord himself has thus declared: “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14. We nowhere read that at any time in the history of the church the broad way would merge into the narrow way, and run for a thousand years in the direction to life, and away from destruction, as must be the case if the world is to be converted and a temporal millennium ensue; or, to put it, perhaps, in more accurate phraseology, nowhere do we read that the way to destruction would at some time become suddenly deserted, and no one be found walking therein, while all the world would be pressing into the narrow way which leads to life. The doctrine of the temporal millennium, therefore, cannot be true.SYNPT 175.2

    The gospel has not been sent into the world coupled with any purpose or design to convert all men. Its object is declared by an inspired apostle to be simply to take out of the Gentiles a people for God’s name. Acts 15:14. This it has been doing, and still is doing. But from the days of the apostles to the present, the prospect that the world would ever be converted has been growing less and less promising. If the church in its earliest and purest state could not bring all men to the obedience of the gospel, even where it was preached in its greatest power, and confirmed by the mightiest miracles, much less can this be accomplished by that type of Christianity which prevails at the present day.SYNPT 176.1

    For two great reasons, then, we reject the idea of the world’s conversion before the coming of Christ:SYNPT 176.2

    1. No texts can be found to support such a doctrine; and 2. Many declarations are found positively forbidding it. It is therefore an error, and a particularly dangerous error, as its tendency is to lead people to reject the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, and to neglect the preparation necessary therefor.SYNPT 176.3

    40. What is the design of the gospel?
    41. Has it already largely accomplished this?
    42. How does the first state of the church compare with the present?
    43. What then are the two great reasons for rejecting the doctrine of a temporal millennium?

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