A teacher at a Christian college tells a story about his switching from another Christian denomination to the Lutheran church. He had been teaching his class about baptism, and he realized that what his church taught was not the same as what the Bible taught.
So he studied up on everything the Bible had to say about baptism, then researched what all of the Christian churches had to say on the matter. He thought that Lutherans sounded the most biblical, so he found a Lutheran church and began to study what it taught.
At the end of his studies, he was convinced that the particular Lutheran church he found taught everything correctly from the Bible except for one thing: they did not teach the millennium, that is, Jesus reigning for a thousand years on the earth before the end of the world.
The teacher thought that all good conservative, biblical Christians believed in the millennium.
The Lutheran pastor challenged the teacher to find a single Bible passage in which Jesus sets up a thousand year reign on the earth. The teacher tells of his amazement as he searched the Scriptures and realized that the millennium as he thought of it was nowhere in the Bible.
There are two passages in the Bible that speak of a thousand years. One is 2 Peter 3:8. It is not talking about a millennium. The other is Revelation 20:1-7. There, in vivid picture language, the author describes only two things happening during a thousand-year period:
• Satan is hindered
• Believers reign with Christ
These two things are happening right now! Satan is hindered by the preaching of the gospel (1 John 3:8). Believers are reigning with Christ (John 5:24). These two things began to happen just after Jesus rose from the dead. These two things will continue happening until Jesus comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
From the very beginning of the book, Revelation describes itself as the kind of literature in which the numbers are to be interpreted, not taken at face value. A thousand years is simply a long and complete period of time, the time in which people who come to faith in Jesus as their Savior are counted as kings (1 Peter 2:9).
Limiting Jesus’ reign to a thousand years is a serious mistake. How long does he actually reign? If you’ve ever heard Handel’s “Messiah,” you know the answer. “And he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15)!