Why is there so much emphasis by the Christians for the year 2000 as being a redemption year? I have heard that there is a belief that all Jews must be converted to Christianity by the year 2000. This will probably mean steeped up efforts by the Jews-for-Jesus and similar missionary groups. What can we really expect to happen by the year 2000?
There is a definite preoccupation in some parts of the Christian world that Jesus will make his second coming in approximately 750 days from now — by the year 2000. This anticipation relates to the church’s fascination with the subject of eschatology, or the study of the End Times. These Christians are consumed by the prophecies surrounding the end of days. How will this take place? To which nations did the prophet Ezekiel refer when he described how apocalyptic nations would come up against Jerusalem immediately before the coming of the messiah (Ezekiel 38-39)? If you happen to venture into a Christian bookstore, you will find entire sections set aside on this apocalyptic subject.
How does the church’s fascination with the subject of eschatology relate to your question? At the end of the first gospel, Matthew’s Jesus makes a very important statement. In Matthew 23:39 Jesus says, “I will not return until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” Because he was speaking to a Jewish audience throughout this chapter, Christians often have understood this statement to mean Jesus will not make his second coming until a mass of Jews are converted to Christianity. In essence, the Jews are holding up the show. Because many fundamentalist Christians believe that Jesus is going to make his second coming in or about the year 2000, there is an imperative in the minds of many evangelicals that the Jews must be converted before then, en masse, in order to enable Jesus to return.
It is not difficult to understand why Christians are fascinated with the year 2000. Although this unit of time of a thousand years plays an insignificant role in the Jewish scriptures, it comes up quite prominently in the New Testament. This is particularly true in the Book of Revelation — especially with regards to eschatology. In the 20th chapter of Revelation, the millennium is the unit of time Jesus is to reign while Satan is bound and thrown into a bottomless pit.
This is not the first time that the church has had its eye on a date for the second coming. Many Christians anticipated that Jesus was going to make his second coming by the year 1000. There was therefore a great push to convert Jews before the end of the first millennium. When the year 1000 passed and Jesus didn’t show, the church concluded that the Jews were responsible. Unspeakable persecution against our people resulted. Understandably, there is some concern today about a possible backlash against the Jewish people on Monday, January 1, 2001. May the real messiah come quickly, in our time.
Rabbi Tovia Singer