By Nathan Jones
Is the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ going to happen or not?
To answer that question, Dr. David Reagan and I on our television program Christ in Prophecy put together a panel of Bible prophecy experts. We invited Al Gist of the Bible prophecy ministry Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries from Louisiana and Dennis Pollock of Spirit of Grace Ministries which focuses on evangelizing the continent of Africa.
The Bible Tells Me So
Dr. Reagan: The majority viewpoint within Christendom today regarding a future reign of Jesus on this earth is that it will never happen. That is the view of both the Catholic Church and the majority of Protestant denominations. This viewpoint is called Amillennialism. Is this viewpoint correct, or does the Bible teach that Jesus is returning to reign in glory and majesty for 1000 years from Jerusalem? Is the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ going to happen or not?
Al Gist: Without a doubt there's absolutely going to be a Millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this planet. It will be a literal, physical kingdom where He will rule from His throne in Jerusalem over the entire planet for a 1,000 years. It will be a reign of peace, justice and righteousness such as the world has never seen before.
Dr. Reagan: That's wonderful news! Why do you believe that?
Al Gist: The reason I believe it is very simply — because the Bible tells me so. I believe it for the same reason I believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the reason I believe in the coming Tribulation, and that is because the Scriptures teach that there's definitely going to be a literal kingdom and that the Lord is going to reign over it in this world.
If you accept the Bible literally, you will interpret it to mean what it actually says. There are plenty of Scriptures that talk about the peace of that time and about the justice and the righteousness that will prevail. God is going to change nature into a non-vicious state. God is going to extend the longevity of life. Many other aspects of the Millennial Kingdom are explained in the Bible. In fact, it was one of the favorite topics of the Old Testament prophets. Because the Jewish people had been so persecuted over the years, they loved to talk about the coming reign of Messiah and the Millennial Kingdom.
Dennis Pollock: I absolutely agree for the same reasons that Al gave. You might as well ask me if I believe Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee, or if He was born of a virgin. Yes, I do believe it happened. Why? Because the Bible says so.
Dr. Reagan: Both of you said, "The Bible says so." And yet, the majority view in Christendom today is that a literal, physical reign of Jesus Christ will never happen here on this earth. So, somebody happens to believe that the Bible doesn't say there will be a Millennial reign.
Dennis Pollock: There have been theologians, or so-called theologians, who have decided that the Bible couldn't possibly mean what it says, and therefore they have turned away from a literal interpretation.
Now, when you say the majority view, I would say that the average person in most of the churches that are officially Amillennial will ask you, "What do you mean Amillennial? Pre-Millennial, what's that? What in the world is that all about?" They don't know a thing about it.
For example, I think it was you, Dave, who told me about a pastor of a particular denomination where you were teaching on these different millennial views and he wasn't sure what his church believed. He said to you, "I'll have to ask my bishop." Then he came back and said, "Well, I asked my bishop and he's not sure what we believe, so he's going to ask some other bishop and we'll get back with you."
Dr. Reagan: That's right. That actually happened.
Dennis Pollock: There are so many Christians who just they don't really have a view, but if you go to the official view of their particular denomination, it would be Amillennial.
The Bible in Revelation 20 says Jesus will reign for a 1,000 years and the Devil will be put in a pit for a 1,000 years. Revelation 20 says "a thousand years" six times in that short passage. And yet, people read that and they simply can't accept it as it's written.
The reality is that passage in Revelation 20 is very significant, because it goes into greater detail. A lot of prophecies can be broken down into short little glimpses from a tiny phrase or a single verse that gives you a hint about something, but you don't get all the details. Revelation 20 is the most detailed description in terms of the length of the Millennium that you will find in the Bible, and you couldn't possibly miss it unless you choose to believe, "It doesn't mean what it says."
Nathan Jones: To even have an Amillennial viewpoint means there had to have been a millennium to begin with, because "A" means "no," so no-Millennium or Amillennial. So, where did they get the millennium concept to begin with? That means the Millennium was the idea that came before Amillennial.
Like you gentlemen said, Revelation 20 says "a thousand years" six times. "The rest of the dead didn't come to life until the thousand years were complete." A millennium again is a 1,000 years. "But we will be priests of God and of the Messiah. They will reign with Him for 1,000 years." So, the idea that came first was right out of the Bible, and that's a literal one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ.
Since it has been 2,000 years since Christ, people have kind of given up on His coming back, and so they've adopted an Amillennial view. They've adopted the idea that the Revelation 20 references couldn't possibly be a real millennium, because time is meaningless to God they counter, that's the thinking behind Amillennialism.
Dr. Reagan: Basically, what the three of you are saying then is that the Bible says Jesus is coming back to reign for a thousand years. It says so point blank.
Nathan Jones: Yes, the Bible says so six times.
Dr. Reagan: To get around that you have to spiritualize the meaning of the word "thousand." You've got to say it doesn't mean what it says. Why would people want to do that? Why would they want to say it doesn't mean what it says?
Al Gist: Sometimes, theologians look for some kind of deeper meaning in the Scriptures. They believe that by spiritualizing the Scriptures they can find some hidden meaning that could be there. But, the best way to approach interpretation is to always take the Bible at face value. If the Bible says something, just believe it, not because you understand it, because there are plenty of things about the Bible that we don't understand, but believe it because it's God's Word.
Dr. Reagan: I even had a leading Amillennial spokesman one time say to me, "In the book of Psalms it says God is in charge of the cattle on a thousand hills." He asked me, "Are there only at thousand hills?" I answered, "No." He said, "Well, you see, a thousand is symbolic. A thousand doesn't mean 1,000." How would you respond to that?
Dennis Pollock: I think the best guide is to look at the First Coming prophecies and ask yourself whether all those prophecies had a basis in literal fulfillment or not? Was Jesus born of a symbolic virgin, or a literal virgin? Did He ride a symbolic donkey down the Mount of Olives, or did He ride a literal donkey? I think it would have been kind of hard to ride a symbol down the Mount of Olives. No, He was riding a real, smelly and braying donkey. All of the First Coming prophecies were fulfilled literally. So, to say God suddenly changed his mind, and now none of them mean what they say, as Shakespeare once wrote, "Thou protest too much."
Dr. Reagan: You're right. Also, the meaning of words is determined by context. When it says, "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills," that is obviously symbolic. That's like saying, "The White House announced today that the President is going to Russia." Does the White House speak? No, that's symbolic. But, what if I said, "Today, I visited the White House." That is literal. Context determines the meaning of words. So, "thousand" could be symbolic in one place and literal in another. And, I don't know how you could be more literal than in Revelation 20 where it says six times that Jesus is going to reign for a thousand years.
Nathan Jones: It's called spiritualization. When you spiritualize the Bible, you become the authority of what the Bible says. It puts you in the place of God, instead of God in the place of God as the ultimate authority.
Dr. Reagan: Oh, it's fun to spiritualize Scriptures because then you can make them mean whatever you want them to mean.
Nathan Jones: You're the go-to guy all the sudden.
Dennis Pollock: One thing I think may be partly responsible for so many people going toward this Amillennial view is sheer laziness, because it's a very easy view to understand and to believe. You don't have to think too much and you can take huge passages of prophecy and just kind of sum them up. They think, "Well, Jesus will come back and take us to Heaven and that will be the end of things." So, if you don't want to study or compare Scripture with Scripture or read books about prophecy or hear any teachings about it and you just want a good, simple, lazy view, then Amillennial is for you. There's not much to it. Christ comes, we all go up to Heaven, the earth burns up, and that's the end of all things.
Dr. Reagan: Dennis, you always bring up that five letter word that is so evil to so many — study.
Dennis Pollock: Yes, study is exactly what one must do to really understand the Bible, and especially when it comes to Bible prophecy.
In the second segment of our forum on the Millennium, we'll ask our Bible prophecy experts if there are any references to the Millennial Kingdom outside of Revelation 20.