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their chief source of hope and comfort. The belief that Jesus was coming in glory to reign with His saints on the earth, during the Millennium, was almost universal with them.
But in the third eentury there arose a school of interpreters, headed by Origen, who so "spiritualized" the Scriptures that they ceased to believe in any literal Millennium whatsoever. Their system of interpretation has been severely condemned by Martin Luther, Dr. Adam Clarke and other commentators.
When Constantine was converted and the Roman empire became, nominally, Christian, it appeared to many that the Millennium had come, and that they had the kingdom on earth. The Church, hand in hand with the world, plunged into the dark ages, until awakened by the great reformers of the sixteenth century, who again began to proclaim the comforting hope and blessed promise of the coming of Christ; and since that time the subject so long neglected has been studied and preached with increasing interest. Indeed, in the last two centuries, it seems to have risen (with the doctrine of salvation by simple faith in a crucified Saviour) into somewhat the same prominence which it occupied in the early church. God be praised for it.
Millennium (Latin) is the same as Chiliad (Greek), and both mean a thousand years. Both terms stand for the doctrine of a future era of righteous government upon the earth, to last a thousand years.
Jewish writers throughout the Talmud hold that this Millennium will be chiefly characterized by the deliverance of the Jews from all their enemies, recovery of Palestine and the literal reign of their Messiah in unequaled splendor therein.
Pre-millennial Christians hold much in common with the Jews, but also that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Messiah; that He is to return to the earth and overthrow Satan, all ungodly government and lawlessness, and establish a kingdom of righteousness, having the Chureh, with Himself as sovereign, Jerusalem as the capital, regathered and converted Israel as the center, and all nations included in a universal, world-wide kingdom of pure and blessed government.
Post-millennialists, for the most part, hold that the present preaching of the gospel will result in the conversion of the world and usher in a golden era of righteousness and a government of justice and peace to last a thousand years, after which the Lord will return for a "general judgment" and introduction of an eternal state. It is well to have these distinctive views of the Millennium clearly in mind.
Contrary to the post-millennial view, the literal reign of Christ, with His saints, for a thousand years is plainly stated in the twentieth chapter of Revelation.1 Six times
(1) Rev. 20:1. 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 botis the expression "A thousand years," repeated. Verses 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The teaching is so plain that "wayfaring men shall not err therein." Isa. 35:8.
But those who oppose this "blessed hope," of the premillennial coming of our Lord usually begin their arguments by the assertion that the doctrine of the Millennium is nowhere taught in Scripture except in this 20th chapter of Revelation, and that the symbolical character of this book forbids our founding any doctrine upon it. The superficial character of such a statement is glaringly apparent from the fact that the Jews had fully developed the doctrine of the Millennium as the teaching of the Old Testament scriptures long before the Book of Revelation or any portion of the New Testament was written. It was the view most frequently expressed in the Talmud that "the Messianic kingdom would last for one thousand years," and this was commonly believed among the Jews. It is easy to discern upon what they founded the doctrine. It is the Sabbath of God's weeks.
The division of time into sevens, or weeks, permeates the Scriptures. A fundamental enactment of the Mosaic
tomle&s 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.
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6. 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.
7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
law was the keeping of the Sabbath, Ex. 20:8. This was based upon God's great rest day in Gen. 2. Upon this is founded not only the week of days, but also the week of weeks unto Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16); the week of months, with the Atonement and seven days' feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (Lev. 23:27-28); the week of years, ending with the Sabbatical year (Lev. 25:4); the week of weeks of years, ending with the seventh Sabbatic year, and followed by the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25: 8-12).
Even the duration of Israel's great punishments was based upon this law of the sevens. Their captivity in Babylon was for seventy years. Jer. 25:11-12; Dan. 9:2. The great period revealed to Daniel (Ch. 9), unto the coming of the Messiah was divided into seventy sevens. The unequaled period of Israel's punishment and dispersion in the lands of their enemies, prophesied by Moses, is, with four-fold emphasis, specified to be for seven times. (Lev. 26:18, 21, 24, 28). This sacred seven is woven into the laws, life and history of the chosen people, with whom God established His theocracy. And notwithstanding all of Israel's rebellion and sinfulness and consequent chastisement, there still remains for them and the whole world a keeping of the Sabbath. Heb. 4:9 margin. With God a day is as a thousand years (Psa. 90), and a thousand years as one day. 2 Pet. 3:8.
Upon this rock of the sacred sevens we can consistently, with the Jews, base our conclusion that as we have the scriptural week, week of weeks, week of months, week of years, week of weeks of years, week of seventy years, week of times, week of olams or aions (ages), see pages 222, so we also have the great week of Millenniums. Sis thousand year days of labor and then the Millennium, or blessed seventh thousand years of rest.
This scriptural doctrine of the Millennium cannot be shaken. Its root is in the Sabbath of Genesis, and its fruit is in the thousand-year kingdom of Revelation. It shines throughout the Word of God as a glorious hope for the nations, whom God has promised to bless. Gen. 12:3. Shine on, O blessed Revelation of God, and the Lord stamp upon our hearts the warning that, "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God shall take away his part from the Tree of Life." Rev. 22:19.*