Christ's Soon Return:The Overwhelming Evidence
The Importance of the Beginning of this New Millennium
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.
So did early Jewish writers
Even the writings of the early Jews expressed the view that the Messiah would come at the end of our present century. After the Bible, the Talmud is the most authoritative source of Judaism. The view frequently expressed in the Talmud, according to researchers, is that the world as we know it would last only 6,000 years. For example, the Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: "The world is to exist 6,000 years. In the first 2,000, there was desolation (no Torah, from Adam to Abraham), 2,000 years the Torah flourished, and the next 2,000 years is the Messianic era (He should have come within that period . . . He should have come at the beginning of the last 2,000 years; the delay is due to our sins)" (emphasis added; ironically, Messiah did come the first time at the beginning of the last 2,000 years because of our sins!).
Rabbi Ketina said in Gemara, a commentary on the Talmud, "The world endures six thousand years and one thousand it shall be laid waste (that is, the enemies of God shall be destroyed), whereof it is said, 'The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.' As out of seven years every seventh (is a) year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world, the seventh millennium shall be the millennial years of remission, that God alone may be exalted in that day."
Biblical history and the sabbath principle
Because of God's own emphasis on the sabbath, both literally and spiritually, and since a thousand years to the Lord is as a day (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8), ancient and modern scholars see the seventh millennium as the Sabbath Millennium, with many prophetic implications; namely, the return of the Lord and His 1,000-year reign on the earth. God's labor of creation took six days, followed by a day of rest. His sabbath commandment to Israel was "to keep it holy." His creative work with humanity, and humanity's labor, likewise probably comprises six (thousand-year) days, with the seventh being one of divinely provided rest and holiness, with God present and exalted on the earth.
Evidence from Israel: a key prophetic event
We now know for a fact what those early thinkers and writers only knew by faith. If, like us, they could experience it, they would probably be doubly ecstatic. That fact is this: After almost 2,000 years of dispersion and according to many prophecies, the nation of Israel has been reestablished in just the 20th century. Never in history has a nation been destroyed and the survivors scattered around the world, then have their nation later restored, especially after nearly 2,000 years. In itself, the nation of Israel is a modern-day miracle. And the Bible seems clear -- at Christ's return, Israel will be intact as a nation, something impossible until the last half of the last century!
(As Satan used Herod to kill all the Jewish babies to try to thwart Christ's first mission, Satan used Hitler to try to kill all the Jews to prevent Israel's rebirth, a prerequisite to Christ's return. Now, through radical Islam, Satan is again trying to destroy all the Jews, just before the return of Messiah.)
Israel is "God's time clock." Jesus expressed such a view. He spoke prophetically of Israel and the future, saying that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jews scattered, which actually happened 37-40 years later in A.D. 70. He said Jerusalem would be trampled down by Gentiles "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). He also told a parable of the "fig tree," thought to represent the nation of Israel. He said when it begins to sprout, "you know that the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:29-31), and that "this generation (that sees the fig tree sprouting) will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (v. 32).
The fig tree began to sprout in the last half of the 20th century. Israel was reestablished in 1948. And in the miraculous 1967 Six-Day War, Israel recaptured Jerusalem from "the Gentiles," fulfilling Jesus' prophecy about "the times of the Gentiles" now being complete. In the 1967 war, Israel also "sprouted" to the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza. (While world data are not available, it is a known fact that in the number one Gentile nation, America, there has been in a precipitous cultural and spiritual decline precisely since -- yes, the 1960s. For example, a Heritage Foundation study in the mid-1990s of 19 leading cultural indicators concluded that, "Over the past three decades we have experienced substantial social regression.")
Evidence from the Prophet Daniel
Daniel chapters 9-12 hold keys to the timing of the Lord's return. In about 550 B.C., Daniel prophesied the time of both Christ's first and second coming, and it can be demonstrated how the prophecy was accurately fulfilled at His first coming. It seems obvious that the passage also would contain the key to the timing of His Second Coming. However, the angel Gabriel, who gave Daniel this information, said that the understanding of the timing of the second coming was "sealed" until the "time of the end"; in other words, it could not be understood until this special period of history.
In addition to other clues, Gabriel gave two key conditions that would prevail at that time: "travel and education (knowledge) shall be vastly increased" (chapter 12, verse 5, Living Bible).
Travel: World travel, and even between cities and states, was minimal until the 20th century. Travel began to increase with the advent of the internal combustion engine in modern times, and it was not until the middle of the last century that travel literally exploded. The main factor was the advent of the jet aircraft engine, first used on a commercial airliner in the 1950s! Almost everyone, at least in advanced societies it seems, is now traveling. Without a doubt, travel has "vastly increased" since the 1950s.
Education: Education and knowledge also exploded in the 20th century. From the time of Christ until 1900, it is estimated that man's knowledge doubled. In just the next 50 years, from 1900 to 1950, it doubled again. Then it began an extremely rapid doubling; first every seven years, then every two years in the 1960's. It appears that the 1950's marked the time in history when knowledge and education "vastly increased" and literally began exploding. This means that according to Daniel, sometime about 1948 when Israel was reborn, God began to unseal, and is now unsealing, the vision of Daniel to give us understanding of the time of Christ's soon return.
Evidence from divine time cycles
Nothing God says or does is without meaning. In the Bible, He makes a fascinating use of numbers, some of which are repeated intervals, such as 3, 7, 40 and 70. Such improbable patterns are God's authentication that He alone is in control of history, and not random, chance forces.
The Third-day Restoration. There is a biblical pattern of God's “restoration” occurring on the third day, including Jonah's deliverance from the great fish and, most notably, the Lord's resurrection from the dead. While commentaries vary, the best scholarship I have found puts Jesus' birth in 2 B.C. Compensating for the no-zero year between B.C. and A.D., this would make His 2,000th birthday (two millennial days) in 1999, or Jewish year 5760, some believe the very same year as the end of the 6,000-year earth lease. At the least, we know it is near the year 2000 (Jewish year 5760 overlaps 1999/2000). This is believed to bring a fulfillment of Hosea 6:2: "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." If the "two days" began when the King first arrived on the earth, the 1999-2000 was their end, and we are already in the "third day." If the 2 B.C birth year is slightly off, the date would have to be adjusted accordingly.
The Five-year Cycle. God told the ancient Hebrews not to harvest from fruit trees until the fifth year after planting (Leviticus 19:23). If this is a prophetic symbolism, God "planted" Israel (the fig tree) with Abraham about 2000 B.C. The fifth year (fifth thousand-year period) would begin on or about A.D. 2000.
(Again, 2,000 prophetic years from Christ's crucifixion would be A.D. 2001 to 2004.)
The Seven-year Cycle. Under Hebrew law a servant was to serve six years and then be set free in the seventh year without paying anything (Exodus 21:2). Is this a shadow of creation being set free from its bondage of decay after the sixth millennium, with debts (sin) cancelled for those who have placed their faith in the Messiah? Other examples exist of God dealing with His people redemptively where the number seven is significant.
The 70th "Year of Jubilee." Upon entering the Promised Land 3,500 years ago, God told the Israelites to observe a "Year of Jubilee" every 50 years. This year is very near the 70th Year of Jubilee in history, and also 40 Jubilees from the one in which Jesus began His ministry, which itself was the 30th Year of Jubilee since its inception -- in the same year when Jesus was believed to have been age 30. The Year of Jubilee was the year of restoration, proclamation of liberty and release from bondage as commanded by God in Leviticus 25: "Count seven sabbaths of years -- seven times seven years -- so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of 49 years . . ." as the passage begins. Will the 70th Jubilee bring a full restoration and, at last, the release and liberty of God's people from this present bondage and suffering and entry into the Promised Land of the Millennial Kingdom?
Daniel's 70 Weeks of Years. God gave the prophet Daniel a vision of 70 weeks of years (7+62+1 X 7 = 490 years) for Israel into the future (Daniel 9:24-26), including the timing of Christ's coming. Many scholars believe that 69 of those weeks (483 years) have been fulfilled and that the 70th "week" remains to be fulfilled: a seven-year period to come in conjunction with Christ's return. Will Daniel's 70th week finally come with the 70th Year of Jubilee and the 7th millennium? A fitting culmination of prophecy!
120 Jubilees. If Solomon’s reign is symbolic of the Millennium, there may be further symbolism in Solomon’s temple, a symbolic picture of God’s perfect temple (the church) which He has been building. The temple was 120 cubits high. There were also 120 priests blowing trumpets (2 Chronicles 5:12), and the queen of Sheba gave Solomon 120 talents of gold (9:9). As mentioned, Jewish history is marked by Jubilee periods of 50-year duration. The 120-cubit height and other 120s may represent 120 X 50 = 6,000, the period allotted for the earth lease. Also, Genesis 6:3 says that man’s “days shall be limited to 120 years,” which Dr. Reginald Cherry says in his book, The Bible Cure,' is the full limit of man’s cell duplication capability. This 120 may likewise refer to the full limit of man’s capability to duplicate himself -- 120 Jubilees, or 6,000 years. Israel’s Jubilee celebration (Leviticus 25) was filled with end-time typology: (1) It began with a “trumpet” sound. (2) It was a proclamation of liberty throughout the land. (3) It was a holy time. (4) It was a time of rest. (5) It meant the return of possessions to its owner. (6) It was a time of enjoyment of the harvest. Sounds like the Millennium?
There are many other biblical signs that we are in the "last days" before the soon return of the Lord. Billy Graham has said that while some signs have appeared in the past, "this is the first time in human history that all the signs are converging."
Decadence. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul describes the increased decadence of humanity in the "last days," something we are experiencing today. (See reference to the recent Heritage Foundation study above.) In the past four decades there has been an explosion of immorality, pregnancies out of wedlock, abortions, drug use, spouse and child abuse, and violent crime, which is up several hundred percentage points. Asked what he foresaw as the terminus of civilization, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) envisioned people shooting each other at random, only a recent, now widespread phenomenon.
Cults and the occult. There is an explosion of cults and the occult, as well as false Christs (1 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 24:24). And Jesus said that at His return it would be "as in the days of Noah" (Matthew 24:37), when the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). He warned of increased famines and ethnic wars, like birth pangs, with increasing intensity. Today, one of six people on earth suffer from hunger, and a study of wars since 500 B.C. shows a recent, dramatic increase. Of at least 82 world conflicts between 1990 and 1995, all but three were civil or ethnic. An Associated Press report on December 29, 1999 said, “The century is coming to a close with a third of the world's 193 nations embroiled in conflict, nearly twice the Cold War level.”
Earthquakes. Also like increasing birth pangs, Jesus also said there would be earthquakes in various places. From official records, scholars have researched the frequency of earthquakes and report an astonishing increase since -- yes, just the middle of the 20th century, when Israel was reborn and all the other signs began. A recent study shows that in the 1940s there were only 51 earthquakes worldwide above Richter 6.0; in the 1950s, 475; the 1980s, 1,085; and in the 1990s, 1,514 (Matthew 24:7). (Source: Prophecy in the News magazine, October 1996, and the National Earthquake Information Center.)
Globalism. The increased centralization of world financial and political power into a "New World Order" is a prelude to the soon-coming anti-Christ, who will deceive most of the world (Daniel 7-12; Matthew 24:15; Revelation 13).
Apostasy. Paul also says that in the last days there will be those with "a form of godliness, but denying its power" (2 Timothy 3:5), a condition even in many Christian churches today where the power of the Holy Spirit is not only denied, even His mention is rare and often discouraged, while anti-Christian practices are encouraged, all in the name of "religion."
The Good News. God also says that in the last days, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28). People are coming to faith in Jesus Christ all over the world in record numbers. Some individual evangelical organizations are seeing millions of conversions. There is a great outpouring in the former Soviet Union, in China and elsewhere. Joel's prophecy began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, nearly 2,000 years ago, but it will greatly intensify just before the return of the Lord. We are seeing it now.
The Great Commission Fulfilled. Jesus tells us: "This gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). We are near that time. Hundreds of missions organizations are rapidly closing on that goal. Just one of them, Campus Crusade for Christ, already has more 27,000 full-time staff and up to p to 550,000 volunteers in over 186 countries in areas covering 99 percent of the world's population, plus they are working with thousands of churches and other organizations.
Angel Visits and Announcements. Confirming Scripture, there are verified angel visitations and supernatural revelations saying that Jesus is coming "very, very soon." (For report of actually documented encounters, click here.)
Internal Witness of the Spirit. God promised that His Spirit would indwell His people and would "guide you into all truth....and declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13). Millions of people worldwide who profess receiving Christ and the infilling of His Spirit report an inner witness and expectancy of the Lord's soon return. Of course, this factor must always be carefully weighed against Scripture -- but as we see, this is a test it passes.
Can We Know When?
Can we know when the Lord Jesus Christ will return? Are we supposed to know? Out of curiosity, I frequently ask people, "When do you think Christ will return?" The typical response is, "Soon maybe, but we are not supposed to know when, or even to speculate. He will come 'as a thief in the night.'" For several reasons, based on Scripture, I am surprised at this response by many otherwise knowledgeable Christians.
Just the question -- when? -- causes some Christians to cringe, protest, or even scoff. They quickly point out that Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matthew 24:36 KJV).
Some believers viciously condemn other believers who are seeking God’s clues, either from the Scriptures or by personal revelation. It is interesting that it was apparently by personal revelation, not Scripture, that many people knew the exact day of Elijah's rapture (2 Kings 2)! Are there not types in the Old Testament? Do not God’s principles repeat themselves?
The doubters may mention Paul's words that the day of the Lord will come like "a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). But many believers have so misunderstood these verses that they are oblivious to the times, not watching for the Lord as He commanded, and are often absorbed by the cares of this world and their own agendas.
As to Matthew 24:36, some scholars point out that Jesus' words here are in the present tense, addressed to His hearers at the time, and not to those alive at the end of the age when Daniel's vision would be unsealed (Daniel 12:9). This would be similar to Matthew 16:20: "Then he warned His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ." As evidence, many other Scriptures reveal to us that God will reveal at least the approximately time. (Even if the "day and hour" restriction is literally valid today, it may be because the Earth is in 24 time zones and always in two different days.)
Jesus also said, "but my Father only" knows, which pins the statement to His hearers at the time, when Jesus was still on the earth, because surely there are now no secrets in the Trinity between the Father and the glorified Son, who are truly One. Also, in context, He seems to be speaking of heaven and earth passing away (v. 35), not other end-time events. In addition, Jesus said, "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Revelation 3:3). He is obviously saying that to the one who watches, He will not come as a thief and that person will know the hour! (Hour -- Greek hora -- Strong’s 5610; various meanings, including, "any definite time, point of time, moment."
God's promises of revelation.
It is clear that Jesus will not come as a "thief in the night" for watchful believers, because in the very same passage, verse 4, Paul tells us, "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." If we are trusting in Christ and looking for His coming, Paul said that even the very day does not have to surprise us!
Also, Jesus exhorted, "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief" (Revelation 3:3, KJV), obviously saying He will come as a thief only to those not watching! It is obvious that for those watching, he will NOT come as a thief.
Jesus rebuked those who did not understand the signs of the times in His day: "O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, but can ye not discern the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3).
Of the end of the age, Jesus said, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh"(Luke 21:28). He said we would know when it is near!
God said, "Surely the sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing it to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7, NIV). God said "nothing," and He did not exclude Christ's return. I take Him at His word.
God not only knows the end from the beginning, He tells us that He makes it known! "I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come." (Isaiah 46:10). He has already made it known! I personally believe it has been hidden in His Word all along, to be unlocked in His timing. There is nothing wrong with seeking! No doubt, it pleases God.
God said, "I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee" (Isaiah 48:5, KJV).
Jesus said the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things" (John 14:26). He said "all things." Did Jesus make a mistake, forgetting to exclude when He will return? I don't think so.
Friends confide in one another. Abraham was called God’s "friend" (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). "And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do" (Genesis 18:17). Now, because of Jesus’ atonement, we are called friends of God: "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends" (Jesus, John 15:15).
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (NIV). Many Bible students believe that ancient events and dating in the Bible are shadows and clues that foretell the coming of the Lord, even the timing. An example is the six days of creation, seen as 6,000 years of man’s dominion over the earth, before return of the Lord and the seventh, or Sabbath Millennium of peace, with Christ ruling in Jerusalem.
In addition, there is ample precedent for God revealing specific times in advance.
He gave Noah advance notice of when the flood would be (Genesis 6,7).
He told Abraham how long the Israelites would be in Egypt (Genesis 15:13).
As mentioned, He revealed to many the very day of Elijah's rapture (2 Kings 2).
He told Jeremiah how long the Babylonian exile would be (Jeremiah 29:10).
He told Daniel exactly when Messiah would come the first time (Daniel 9:25-26).
Some, including the brilliant Sir Isaac Newton, believe this same passage holds the key to the timing of His return.
There is evidence that the Bible reveals the exact number
of years of "the times of the Gentiles" and the exact span
of time to Israel's rebirth in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in
Based on all the above, it can be concluded that sometime soon after the beginning of this present millennium will probably see the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the attending world upheaval.
How to be ready
In these momentous times,
it is crucial that each person be reconciled to God, by the only way
He has provided. This way has been wonderfully described in a little
booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws.
In addition. to discover how to obtain God's power in your life to give you pardon, peace, and purpose, as well as power, click here.