Friday, November 15, 2013

The millennium 4: further avenues for exploration (and then I'm done!)

There are several useful resources for further exploring this conversation.

Perhaps one of the most useful, both in cordial tone, and in clarity of some of the issues is the conversation a couple of years ago between two godly brothers, Jim Hamilton and Justin Taylor

One of the arguments that Jim uses, that I heard first from dear Harold Hoehner when he was teaching me New Testament in the mid 90's. It goes something like this: Yes, much of the New Testament seems to suggest that when Jesus returns it will be 'curtains' for sin, death, suffering and pain. Obviously if the return of Christ is premillennial, then there are 1000 years of sin, death, suffering and pain to come even when Jesus returns. Yet, the Old Testament spoke only of the day of the Lord: the coming of the Messiah where there would be both the saving sacrificial work of the Servant, and the coming judgement. Only with the coming of Christ do we see that these are split: there have already been 2000 years of pain since the [first] coming of Christ.

I'm afraid that I find the argument deeply troubling. Because what we have with the first coming of Christ is the New Testament. We have 27 books of the bible showing how the shadows of the OT are fulfilled in the Realities of Christ and the NT.
Are we really to think that the NT is itself merely shadows? Yes, in a sense we are: now we know in part, then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known -  but surely that at least is looking forward not to the millennium, but the consummation. (1 Cor 13:9-12)

Should we expect Christ in the millennium to inspire a ENT (Even Newer Testament)? 
And that adds another huge question: if Christ is to spend another 1000 years in bodily form on earth in a TV, Internet, (and list here another 1000 years of technology that don't yet exist) age, what do we do with all the records of his words, actions, and, if technology allows, thoughts?

Do they become a new, almost infinite canon that nobody would be able to begin to read in a lifetime? If John wrote that what Jesus did in the three years of ministry at his first coming could fill books that could not be contained in all the world, what of 1000 years of public rule?
What does discipleship look like in the geopolitical kingdom where Christ is physically king yet sin still reigns in the hearts of many?
Could this still be described as New Testament Christianity?

This Sunday I'm preaching on Revelation 22:6-21.
When I'm encouraging the members of our church to pray "Come, Lord Jesus!" it is not an earthly reign in an earthly Jerusalem but an immediate eternal reign in the New Jerusalem I'll be encouraging them to anticipate in that prayer, for Jesus promises,
"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done."

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