The Importance of the Beginning of this New Millennium
"None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand"
(Daniel. 12:10, NIV)
By Jim Bramlett
The new millennium is upon us! It was not just the end of a decade. Not just the end of a century. But we are one of the very few generations to ever see the end and beginning of a millennium. What an incredible and historic time to be alive!
But could the new millennium be much more significant than most of us can even imagine? Biblical prophecy fulfillment is rushing to a climax. Throughout history, according to researchers, both Christian and Jewish writers looked to right now -- not to the first, third, fourth or any other millennium -- but surprisingly to this new millennium as the most eventful time in all history. If they were alive today, they would undoubtedly be ecstatic with anticipation. Should we? Did they know something we have overlooked, or dismissed too lightly? Does this new millennium signal the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Consider the following evidence, far from exhaustive and only a sample:
Early Christians looked to this time!
While scholars may debate and try to explain or deny it, it is a fact that biblical chronology describes about 6,000 years from Adam and Eve to the year A.D. 2000. The six creation days of Genesis were undoubtedly prophetic of a planned six "millennial days" of human history, followed by the seventh, or Sabbath, Millennium. "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years" (2 Peter 3:8). God did not require seven days to complete creation. He could have done it in a microsecond or less. The seven days were obviously prophetic, a picture of His planned 6,000-year history of man.
The right of "dominion" over the earth that God gave Adam in Genesis 1:28 was no doubt only a 6,000-year lease -- six millennial days -- the time period established for man's rule. After the earth lease has expired and a possible transition period, Christ, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), will return and assume dominion of the earth as ruling King during the seventh Millennium, having legally purchased back the lease and dominion with His own blood. This would follow the 2,000 years when “God first visited the Gentiles (nations) to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). The possible transition period would provide a cleansing of the earth, what we call the Tribulation. Solomon's reign was a type of Millennium, and it began with a cleansing. Or, the transition might simply be a parenthetical period on God's calendar between the sixth and seventh millennia.
Early Christian writers held that at the end of 6,000 years of history, Christ would return and reign for 1,000 years (referred to as the Millennium). These included Barnabas (c. A.D. 100), Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (c. A.D. 150), Lactantius (c. A.D. 325), and Methodius, Bishop of Tyre (c. A.D. 300).
For example, Barnabas wrote: "As there had been 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham, and 2,000 from Abraham to Christ; so there will be 2,000 years for the Christian era and then would come the Millennium."
(Some believe the 2,000 years of the Christian era are not modern 365.24-day years, but prophetic, or "God-years" of 360 days each, beginning with the year of Christ's crucifixion, which scholars debate as from A.D. 30 to 33. Converting 2,000 modern years to prophetic years is by multiplying 2,000 by 360 then dividing by 365.24, the result of which is 1,971.3 years. If you add 1,971.23 years to 30-33, you get A.D. 2001 to 2004.)
Church father Irenaeus wrote concerning a belief of the early church: "For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed; it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand years." Lactantius, tutor of the son of the Roman Emperor Constantine, stated in his Book of Divine Institutes, Chapter 14: "Let the philosophers know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed; and when this number is completed, the consummation must take place."
Later, in A.D. 1552, Bishop Latimer wrote: "The world was ordained to endure, as all learned men affirm, 6,000 years. Now of that number, there be passed 5,552 years (as of A.D. 1552), so that there is no more left but 448 years (ending in A.D. 2000)."
(Some scholars actually count the 6,000 years of Bible history as ending on Rosh Hashana, 1999, the beginning of the Jewish year that overlaps with the Gregorian year 2,000.)
In the 17th century, Archbishop Ussher had access to many ancient church manuscripts that were lost in the burning of early Irish churches during the Irish wars. In A.D. 1650, in Latin, he wrote The Chronology on the Old and New Testament in which he calculated that the Millennium would begin in A.D. 1997. He may not have been far off the mark.
The writings of other church fathers such as Victorinus, Bishop of Petau and Hippotylus support the argument that the apostles and the early church believed and taught that the Millennium would commence at the end of 6,000 years.