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Background Consideration:

Millennial fever is helping to fuel the economy and capture the imagination, even after an uneventful January 1, 2000. Christian novels about the Antichrist are racking up huge sales in secular book stores. Evangelicals expect the Jewish temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt after being leveled 2000 years ago and fashion their politics with Israel accordingly. Secular backlash against the Christian right is interpreted as the beginning of the tribulation of the people of God.

Some Adventist evangelists and church leaders have put special significance on these years because of a conviction that there will a six thousand year period between creation and the end of the world. If the millennium is to last a thousand years, then a total of seven thousand years appropriately embrace the whole of earth’s history. There would be a cosmic sabbath that would parallel the weekly Sabbath. One complication is the uncertainty of the Bible regarding the precise age of the earth.

For Discussion:

  1. Having survived the opening months of Y2K, we now face the claim that the millennium doesn’t begin until the year 2001. What ought we to make of the significance of the year 2000 or 2001?
  2. Did early Christians expect the soon return of Christ? What of the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:7, 12, 20 that he would come quickly?
  3. Could Christ have come in the first century? If so, why didn’t he? If not, why not?
  4. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 warns against a secret coming of Christ by pointing to the need for apostasy to come and the “man of lawlessness” to be revealed. Has this already happened?
  5. Is the idea that Christ will come after 6000 years taught in the Bible?
  6. Is the date God has picked out for his coming based on considerations of the symbolic spiritual or aesthetic value of numbers like the number 7?
  7. Or is the second coming dependent on other matters like the preaching of the Gospel?
  8. Vettius Valens, a Greek astrologer, urged his contemporaries to study the stars so they could know ahead of time when their life would end. Would knowing when the end of world would come improve the likelihood of our being ready?

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