As a convinced premillennialist, I have often been ridiculed for certain “weak spots” in my view of a coming reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years. Critics scoff at the literalism with which premillennialists often read apparently figurative prophetic images from the Old Testament: desert dunes blooming like Chia Pets . . . mountains and valleys suddenly liberating themselves from traditional roles for a more egalitarian topography . . . lions unnaturally shacking up with lambs . . . and infants playing in snake nests without proper adult supervision.
Yet two socio-economic implications of a literal millennium have gone unnoticed. The first is Isaiah’s prophecy of people pounding swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4). This is particularly troubling from our twenty-first century perspective, because the only swords available today are displayed under glass in museums, set on the shelves of antique stores, or hung in the bedrooms of thirty-five-year-old single Lord of the Rings fantasy geeks. Based on the present limited supply of these weapons, those in the future millennium who will be responsible for pounding swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks would quickly run out of materials. They would literally be unable to keep up with demand! This would thus cause a drastic spike in the cost of plowshares and pruning hooks, resulting in starvation, crime, riots, and general societal chaos.
Yet even beyond the problems of plowshare pounding, an even more profound and practical problem prevails. No premillennialists have adequately dealt with the looming unemployment crisis that will catch the world by surprise when those believers who worked all their lives in white-collar professions suddenly lose their jobs. This massive wave of unemployment will be like no other recession the world has ever seen. It will not be the effect of a depressed economy or corporate down-sizing, but the direct result of a new, curse-free global society that no longer needs professional services. Having no experience in manual labor or universal, culturally-transcendent skills that will benefit such a new perfect society, Christian professionals will not only prove useless in the millennium, but will actually tax its delicate barter economy to the breaking point!
These two problems have been overlooked by premillennialists. But the time has come to face these head on. As a premillennialist, I would like to be the first to offer two suggestions for how we can preempt the coming millennial economic crisis.
First, Christians should begin manufacturing and distributing obsolete weapons. The Bible clearly says that during the millennium people will pound their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. However, there simply are not enough swords and spears today to keep up with the future demand of plowshares and pruning hooks.
Therefore, the Church must immediately begin manufacturing and selling swords and spears made of an alloy that lends itself to easy re-shaping into tools of agriculture. Possible markets include gun shows, fantasy film conventions, and costume stores. Potential outlets include youth group fundraisers for ski and surfing retreats, Christian men’s masculinity training conferences, or neighborhood Christian gift and trinket stores (formerly known as “book stores”).
Second, Christian professionals should train now for a millennial vocation. Obviously, lawyers, doctors, theologians, politicians, judges, police officers, and other such professionals will be utterly useless to the new and perfect society established at the return of Christ. Therefore, these professionals ought to begin training for secondary vocations that will become their primary work during the Millennial Kingdom. That new order will be characterized by farming, shepherding, gathering, fishing, and other peaceful activities.
But millennial vocations should be chosen that are in some way related to the professional skills developed for this present dispensation. For example, lawyers who are notorious for milking clients for legal fees could make a smooth transition into milking cows. Judges could work with livestock, specifically separating sheep from goats. Accountants known for metaphorically “counting beans” could switch to literally picking them. Doctors who treat humans today could train as botanists or veterinarians for tomorrow. Pastors could take on the roles of literal shepherds of real sheep—most of which would be far easier to get along with than the average parishioners. Scholars and theologians, of course, could continue in their present task of shoveling manure. Sadly, there is no discernible role for politicians in an agricultural society, but it will be fun to see conservative Christian politicians forced to depend on millennial social assistance programs not dissimilar to the ones they opposed in the present age.
With the preemptive preparations I have outlined in this brief essay, we premillennialists can avoid the coming millennial economic crisis. By His grace, God has made us privy to this looming disaster so we can prevent it. Not since Y2K have evangelicals been given such an opportunity to save the world from destruction!