Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Millennium

A popular form of human government that is popular with many Christians, but is not in the scriptures, is the millenium. A common belief is that Jesus will return to Jerusalem at the end of the age and rule the whole world. The idea has emerged that Jesus ruling as king in Jerusalem would be the perfect government, but a little thought reveals this to be an awful idea.

The idea of Jesus sitting in Jerusalem and using an “iron fist” to crush all opposition is repulsive and contrary to the gospel. What is more, it would not work. Jesus would not be able to eliminate evil from a throne in Jerusalem. He could control those in the immediate vicinity, but those further abroad would escape his power. Jesus could get his followers to track them down and "zap" them, but that would increase their hostility to him. He might be able to gain control of the world, but it would not be very pleasant place to live.

Thankfully, Jesus refused to establish his Kingdom using force. He said,

My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest… (John 18:36).
His kingdom will not be established by worldly means. Jesus refused to use force, even though he could have called on his Father to send a whole host of angels to his aid (Matt 26:52,53). Jesus knew that true converts cannot be won by force. God has a much better way; to win the hearts of men through the inner work of the Holy Spirit, as the church proclaims the gospel.

The problems of the world cannot be solved by forcing people to do things they do not want to do. Evil will only disappear when all sinful hearts are transformed. Jesus sitting on a throne in Jerusalem would not have the power to change hearts. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. And surprise, surprise! He can change hearts now without waiting for Jesus to return.

The millennium is a Jewish Idea. The Jews expected the messiah to come as a mighty ruler and destroy all their enemies. They were disappointed and confused when Jesus came as a carpenter, teaching them to love their enemies. A messiah dying on a cross was well outside their expectations. Christians have embraced the messiah on the cross, but many still have the yearning for a messiah who will come with a rocket launcher and “blow away” their enemies

For Jesus to rule the earth from Jerusalem, the church would have to become a giant bureaucracy. The saints would take orders from Jerusalem so there would not place for initiative and exercise their talents. Being a cog in a giant bureaucracy does not sound like the hope to which we were called. We live in a bureaucratic age, and this idea may appeal to men who do not wish to take responsibility, but God would prefer men to be responsible, and exercise authority in obedience to the Word and the Spirit. Jesus can rule through Christians now, if they will submit to his word and the Spirit. There is no need for an earthly bureaucracy.

The kingdom of God cannot be established by force. Jesus can accomplish far more in the present age through the Holy Spirit. Working through him, Jesus can extend his power and influence throughout the entire earth.

The kingdom of God will defeat the kingdom of the world, because the Holy Spirit is greater by far than the Devil. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to establish the Kingdom and he will do the job. The Spirit of God cannot be a failure?

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