The Year 2000

2/10/99; rev., summer '99

Christians well-grounded in doctrine and church history know that fevered apocalyptic hopes centered on the year 2000 are foolishness. They know also that the devil uses fools and foolishness to discredit Christianity. From the standpoint of Biblical chronology, the year 2000 has no significance whatever. The Bible does not assign any event to the year 1. Furthermore, Christ clearly taught that we cannot know the time of His return (Matt. 24:36). He seems to imply that the Father keeps the date secret because He wants the stealing away of the church to take Satan by surprise, so that he cannot mount effective resistance (Matt. 24:43). Which of us knows what Satan can or cannot do, so long as God suffers him to continue in his present position of great authority over the earth (John 14:30)? Uncertainty confined to a twenty-four hour period (as some construe Matthew 24:36) would do little to thwart Satan. Besides, prophecy frequently uses the terms "day" and "hour" in a generalized sense, referring to a lengthy period of unspecified duration.

If any year is less likely than others for the Lord's return, it is next year. Jesus warned us that He will come when we do not expect Him (Matt. 24: 44).

My guess is that the devil is preparing a grand humanistic celebration for the year 2000. The world economic crisis seems to be abating. The hot spots that have been ready to flame up into war are cooling down. If, at the turn of the year, the Y2K threat to computers proves relatively insignificant, at least in developed countries, mankind will be in a mood to celebrate.

Notice what is happening. Israel has elected a leader willing to make concessions to the Arabs. The West has defeated the Balkan menace, Milosevic. India and Pakistan are backing down from the brink and talking peace. Although there are still rumblings in Northern Ireland and tensions between the two Chinas and noises in Korea, these may simply be the prelude to new (though doubtless temporary) understandings. The West may even come to terms with Iraq.

But do not be fooled. Despite the apparent grounds for optimism, the condition of mankind is not improving. Modern civilization persists in guzzling vital resources as if there were no tomorrow. It continues to poison the environment and destroy ecological cushions against catastrophe. Natural disasters are increasing in number and ferocity. The food-producing capacity of the planet is rapidly diminishing, even as population is rapidly growing. Disparities in wealth are still widening. Weapons of mass destruction are proliferating faster than ever before. AIDS and other plagues have not been overcome, and the danger of a new pandemic remains. Worst of all, the virtues that support civic order and political freedom—the virtues of honesty, decency, and self-restraint—are disappearing.