How many of you have really “meditated on”, “come to grips with”, “got your ahead around” the FACT Jesus is returning to this earth soon to liberate His chosen nation, and to rule and reign with His resurrected saints on this cursed earth for 1000 years. Moreover, He needs to rule with a rod of iron. People will still be born, people still need to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and people will still die. The curse of death has not been lifted off this planet. It is destined for destruction by fire at the end of the Millennium. John describes its destiny and what will occur at that time in Revelation 20 and 21.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
The New Heaven and the New Earth
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
It is important to acknowledge that many of the early Church Fathers believed that the earth was less than 6,000 years old and that they read the Genesis creation account both literally and symbolically. To check this out read the article Creationism and Millennialism among the Church Fathers by Andrew Sibley on www,creation.com.
It is clear from a close reading of the Church Fathers that the widely held belief of the church in the first few centuries after Christ was that the creation occurred less than 6,000 years prior to their time of writing; at least it seems to have been the majority opinion among the church leaders. This belief was also tied in with an understanding of the timing of the Second Coming of Christ and His millennial reign; a pressing question for the early church. The millennial scheme symbolically linked six days of creation with 6,000 years of Earth history, with the final millennium reign seen as foreshadowed by the seventh day of rest in the creation account. This undermines claims that such belief is a recent phenomenon, or is not in tune with traditional Christian theology.
Influence for the symbolic linkage between the six days of creation and the six thousand years until the millennial reign of rest may have been passed down directly from the Apostles, especially John, the author of Revelation. Irenaeus, who lived during the 2nd century ad, claims to have received the teaching from Papias and Polycarp, who received it directly from John. Influence may also have derived from Peter’s writing, wherein the Apostle was responding to questions about the return of Christ. Peter wrote that for God “a day is like a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8) and that the Christians should be patient regarding the question of Christ’s return.
Most of the Church Fathers of the first three centuries relied upon the LXX to determine the age of the earth and the Second Advent. Initially, Christians believed that Christ would return sometime around AD 500. However, later acceptance of the Septuagint Masoretic Text, with its shorter time frame for creation of around 4000 BC, extended the second coming to AD 2000.
So, the gradual acceptance of the Hebrew MT by Christians, from which Bishop Ussher derived a date for the age of the earth of 4004 BC, gave fresh ‘legs’ to millennial thinking among Christians in more recent times, with Christ expected to return sometime around AD 2000.