In this third-part summary of the lectures on “The Interpretation of Prophecy” conducted by Dr Paul Lee Tan, we will be looking at the different views of the Millennium:
The millennium is the thousand-year future kingdom of Christ on earth. Peace, righteousness and blessings will prevail as Satan will be bound: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20: 1-3).
Both the Old and New Testaments give detailed descriptions of this future period of peace and tranquillity on earth when Christ shall reign from the holy city of Jerusalem: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20: 6).
There are three major views of the Millennium:
Most, if not all, of our Bible-Presbyterian churches hold the pre-millennial view on eschatology. This view interprets Holy Scriptures literally according to the regular principles of hermeneutics. We see Israel and the church as distinct in the plan and purpose of God.
The proof text is found in the apostle Peter’s sermon immediately after Pentecost: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).
We believe that at the end, after the Battle of Armageddon, Christ will begin His thousand-year earthly reign. It is significant that Revelation chapter 20 mentions “a thousand years” six times (vv. 2-7). All Christians “shall reign with him (Christ) a thousand years” (Rev. 20: 6). What a blessed, glorious day that will be for all of God’s people.
Israel at that point will be turned unto the Lord: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom. 11: 26-27).
As the centre of the world, Israel will become the seat of Christ’s worldwide government. Jerusalem will draw worshippers from all over the world. The Millennial Temple will be built and the Jewish sacrificial system will be reinstituted: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: 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” (Isa. 2: 2-4).
A-Millennialism rejects the earthly millennial reign of Christ which was taught by Augustine, one of the Church Fathers. This group views the millennium as a symbol of our earthly sojourn and believes that Christians who have passed away are now spending their millennium in Heaven. In short, there will be no literal, visible thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. The “thousand years” in Revelation chapter 20 are explained away as merely “a long period of time”.
Christ Jesus returns once and for all to the earth as Judge. Advocates of this view believe there will be only one “judgment” for all instead of two – “Bema” judgment for Christians and the “Great White Throne” judgment for non-Christians – which is a view held by our B-P churches. Christ’s return will signal the end of all things, and the beginning of the New Heaven and New Earth.
Proponents of this view believe that Christ now reigns in the heart of every believer. Thus, there is no literal “thousand-year” reign on earth. They believe that the earth will be gradually converted through Gospel preaching or through human efforts or resources. When God’s ordained number for His redeemed is realised, the Lord will then return to establish His kingdom.
This belief offers an optimistic view of the world. “The postmillennial system affirms that the world is going to get better and better as Christianity continues to spread worldwide. And as an increasing percentage of the world is Christianized, the millennium is said to have arrived” (The Interpretation of Prophecy – Dr Paul Lee Tan).
This view is weak as it is obvious that our troubled world is not getting any better. On the contrary it is degenerating by the day. (… to be concluded)