The Coining of the Third Age

Next Month: Utopia

In the early winter of 1999, much of the world is looking forward with eager anticipation or uneasy apprehension to the dawning of the Third Millennium. It is the third millennium A.D., of course, the beginning of the third thousand of the Years of the Lord, and thus directly relevant only to those of us who count from the birth of Jesus Christ. A Muslim, Jew, or Hindu would not see the same millennial significance in our A.D. 2000, but the computer has universalized the world's dating and with it the significance of that date as the digits roll from 12/31/99 to 01/01/00.

Fifty years ago, we lived passably well without computers and probably could do so again, if it becomes necessary. Are there other reasons for the anticipation tinged with foreboding with which so many regard the end of this second millennium? Are we not merely at the end of the years whose designation starts with the numeral 1, but at the beginning of something new, a New World Order perhaps? Or is it possible that we are actually approaching the End of the Age, the Last Day of biblical prophecy? Christians have been told to expect that Last Day but not to try to predict when it will break in on us. The disciples asked Jesus more than once, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3). Jesus's parting words warned them, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in...

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