The Bible’s Viewpoint
How Significant Is the Year 2000?
MOST people attach absolutely no religious significance to what in Western lands as well as in many others will be the year 2000. For example, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus all have their own religious calendars that do not coincide with the Western ones. For religious and traditional dates, the Chinese follow a lunar calendar. Hence, billions of people today, perhaps the majority of the world’s population, ascribe no special meaning to the year 2000.*
Still, especially in Western lands, many await with curiosity the approaching threshold of the next millennium as marked by the Gregorian calendar. For some it is more than just curiosity. They view the year 2000 as ushering in a new era, as a turning point in history. Many who profess belief in the Bible associate the fulfillment of prophecies with the year 2000. Some expect a spiritual manifestation of great proportions. Others fear a cataclysm—the end of the world. Does the Bible provide any basis for these expectations?
Jehovah, the Timekeeper
The God of the Bible is described as “the Ancient of Days.” (Daniel 7:9) He controls time with perfect precision, as is evident in the function of many of his creations, from the rotation of planets to the movement of subatomic particles. He has his own timetable to which he sticks with exactness. “He decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men,” says the Bible. (Acts 17:26) Jehovah is an accurate Timekeeper.
Accordingly, the Bible gives specific attention to chronology. It provides a connected record that allows for a methodical count back to the beginning of human history. Such a calculation points to 4026 B.C.E. as the year in which God created Adam. Some 2,000 years later, Abraham was born. Another 2,000 years had elapsed by the time of Jesus’ birth.
Some who study Bible chronology have formulated arbitrary equations that point to specific dates in the future. For example, using as a basis the consecutive periods of approximately 2,000 years that separated Adam, Abraham, and Jesus, some predict a portentous event at the end of the 2,000-year period since Jesus’ birth. This is just one example of several time formulas that are purportedly based on Bible chronology.
Granted, the Bible talks about the time when Jehovah God will intervene in human affairs by removing badness and ushering in a new world. Bible prophecy speaks of “the time of the end,” “the conclusion of the system of things,” “the last days,” and “the day of Jehovah.” (Daniel 8:17; Matthew 24:3; 2 Timothy 3:1; 2 Peter 3:12) However, the “end” prophesied in the Bible is not connected in any way to the year 2000. There is nothing in the Scriptures ascribing special significance to the end of the second millennium as calculated by the Gregorian calendar.
“When Will These Things Be?”
Jesus’ apostles manifested keen interest in God’s timetable when they asked Jesus: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) Many today share a similar curiosity about the future. It is natural to be keenly interested in such significant Bible prophecies and the time of their fulfillment. However, it is wise to accept and respect God’s position on the matter.
By means of his Son, Jehovah has revealed his mind and has given a straight answer on this issue. Shortly before Jesus’ ascension to heaven, his disciples asked him again about the timing of the fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus answered: “It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” (Acts 1:7) On an earlier occasion, Jesus told his disciples: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.”—Matthew 24:36.
Clearly, the “knowledge of the times or seasons,” especially when it comes to the future fulfillment of Bible prophecies, is not under human jurisdiction. God has chosen not to reveal such information to us. (Matthew 24:22-44) Could we affect in any way God’s purpose by deciphering “that day and hour” on our own, against his wishes? Obviously, this would be impossible. (Numbers 23:19; Romans 11:33, 34) The Bible states: “To time indefinite the very counsel of Jehovah will stand.” (Psalm 33:11) Being the almighty God, he is always successful.—Isaiah 55:8-11.
Notwithstanding God’s power to keep the “knowledge of the times or seasons . . . in his own jurisdiction,” many still like to speculate. Some become self-appointed prophets of doom. For this reason the apostle Paul gave specific instruction to the Thessalonians regarding the danger of listening to those who speculate about dates. He wrote: “We request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner.”—2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.
Jehovah’s Witnesses firmly believe that God’s purposes for the future are certain of execution at his predetermined time, right down to the day and hour designated by him. (Habakkuk 2:3; 2 Peter 3:9, 10) And we believe that these events will take place in the not-too-distant future. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) However, we do not speculate on or support the theories proliferating today.* Surely, neither the year 2000, nor 2001, nor any other time threshold set by humans has anything to do with Jehovah’s timetable.
From a technical point of view, the so-called third millennium begins on January 1, 2001. The first millennium did not begin with a zero year but, rather, with the year 1. However, the public associate the term “third millennium” with the year 2000. This article focuses on popular expectations regarding the year 2000.
The September 1, 1997, issue of The Watchtower, pages 21-2, stated: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have been eager to know when the day of Jehovah will occur. In their eagerness they have at times made attempts to estimate when it might come. But by so doing, they have failed, as did Jesus’ early disciples, to heed their Master’s caution that we “do not know when the appointed time is.” (Mark 13:32, 33) Ridiculers have mocked faithful Christians for their premature expectations. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Nevertheless, Jehovah’s day will come, Peter affirms, according to His timetable.”