“Snow-mageddon.” That’s what many tagged our horrific encounter with the snow, ice, and traffic fiasco of last week. Do you know why this word is invented for such events and where it comes from? Well, let me put on my “theologian’s hat” and take us through some pretty intriguing and often controversial territory. I am not an expert on this topic, but here is how I understand it.
The original word is Armageddon, a name occurring only once in the Bible and designating the place, Mount Megiddo, where the last great epic battle of the ages, good vs. evil, will take place (Revelation 16:16).
Also in this theological discussion is The Millennium. This is the designation of exactly 1,000 years of the reign of Christ on earth, mentioned only in Revelation 20:4-6. But not everybody agrees on exactly what that means either.
Some believers are Pre-Millennialists, who believe that there will be a time of tribulation, suffering, and persecution first, and then Christ will come to reign on earth. This position holds that then will come The Millennium and Christ will reign on earth exactly 1,000 years, followed by the end of the world.
Some believers are Post-Millennialists, who believe there will be a time of tribulation, and then there will be exactly 1,000 years of good on earth, but without Christ, and then followed by the end of the world.
There are also some who believe in Dispensationalism, which expects a “rapture” (“some taken, some left behind” 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Matthew 24:40-42), after which the Anti-Christ will rule earth, then the Battle of Armageddon, an actual battle between Christ and Satan (the “Beast 666”) which Christ will win, then the start of The Millennium with Christ ruling exactly 1,000 years, followed by the end of the world.
Still one more understanding is called Amillennialism (pronounced by saying the letter ‘a’ followed by millennialism), which means “no literal 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.” As a Lutheran, this is where I land on this topic.
Here is how we understand all this:
We agree with all Christians that Jesus will come again at the end of time; that his return is imminent and motivates us to be ready ourselves and to be aggressive in gathering as many others as possible into the fold of faith in Christ.
We believe that no one can predict when his return will occur, only God the Father knows. This is quite clear from Scripture.
We do not believe that the Bible teaches a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. The millennial reign of Jesus began when he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. His millennial reign continues forever (Ephesians 1:19-23). Remember the words from the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s “Messiah?” “And he (Christ) shall reign forever and ever,” which quotes Scripture.
We believe that the tribulation of the Christian church began when Jesus ascended into heaven and will continue until his return. The tribulation will significantly intensify in the time period immediately prior to Jesus’s second coming. The church is simultaneously living in the tribulation and under the authority and power of Jesus’s millennial reign. That’s where we are right now, “simultaneously living in the tribulation and under the authority and power of Jesus’s millennial reign.” Certainly, some of the signs of intensified tribulation of the Christian Church in our present time would seem to indicate that perhaps the end of the world is near, but we don’t know and won’t know, so we just “stand ready.”
We believe that the rapture will take place when Jesus comes at the end of time (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). We do not teach a “pre-, mid- or post tribulation rapture.”
We believe in a God who will accomplish his plan and purpose at the end of time regardless of the various views within the Body of Christ. This is the most important understanding any of us can have.
We believe that the church’s time and energy is best spent on Kingdom work, which is being disciples and making disciples, and the growth of our individual lives of faith rather than on the uncertainties of end time prophecies.
Wait. There is one more designation for all of this that we can all agree on. My dear friend Dr. Knox Herndon says we should all believe in Pan-Millennialism, which stands in firm belief that God is going to make it all “pan-out” in the end. And so He shall. And to that we can all say, “Amen!”
[Kollmeyer is senior pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Fayetteville, located on Hwy. 314 between Lowe’s and The Pavilion. Every Sunday we offer a lively contemporary worship service at 9:15, classes for all at 10:20, and a beautiful and majestic traditional pipe organ worship service at 11:15. The purpose of this church is to bring people closer to Jesus through a focus on the family. Pastor Kollmeyer invites you and your family, if you are without a church home at present, to come and see if this might be the church for you. ]