There seems to be a mystique about crossing the threshold to the next millennium. I remember that, when I was as a boy, my dad tipped me off when the odometer on the family car was about to turn over from 99999 to zeros–neat!
The more technical folk remind us that Friday night’s ball-drop will not impress everyone; the Muslims will count the year as 1420, and the Hebrews, 5760.
Nevertheless the turn of the millennium (whether this week or a year from now) can be a teachable moment for us.
First, there is the ominous Y2K computer bug. I admit the difficulty of guessing which scenario is more likely. Some predict global computer crashes with the domino effect of technical, economic, and civil problems. Others assume that the experts have spent enough time fixing the problem; nothing much will happen (at least in North America).
The lesson I take from this issue is the importance of HUMILITY. The countless millions of dollars spent by corporations and governments to fix the 2 digit programming oversight has signaled the need for a reality check on our comfortable lifestyle, with its reliance upon technology. Long before computer chips, the writer of Proverbs advised, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18). On the other hand, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life” (22:4).
Pride was the original sin of Satan who chose independence from God. At his fall he boasted, ” I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:13,14).
Adam and Eve fell into this same trap when tempted by the deceitful promise of the devil. He said that if they ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would “be like God” (Gen 3:5). Perhaps this role of human pride in the fall caused God to provide salvation through “the foolishness” of the cross (1 Cor 1:18). Sinners must renounce the pride of fallen man, and then take God at His Word. Jesus used the occasion of blessing children to warn us: “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Luke 18:17).
Another aspect of the Y2K problem is its test of our reaction to the difficulties that may await us. Some have gone to extreme measures to be prepared; others have been too busy to give it much attention.
The lesson I notice here is the value of CONFIDENCE. While it is wise to heed valid warnings, the biggest problems may be caused by panic. The believer in God is reminded of the need to find ultimate security in Him. As King David sang three millennia ago, “I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.” (Psalm 18:1). Such trust does not promote irresponsibility; it strengthens the believer to maximize his or her opportunities.
Paul’s testimony is still relevant: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
Another lesson from the turn of the calendar is the need for GRATITUDE. My grade 8 daughter is doing a research project on tracing change during this past millennium. Most of us would prefer our modern conveniences to the lifestyle of previous centuries.
For example, imagine the heartache of the 1300’s when the Black Plague took some 40 million lives. (Today we know that it was caused by a bacterium, spread through flea bites. As Dr. S. McMillen notes in his book, None of These Diseases, the plague was shortened when leaders started applying the principles of quarantine and sanitation–both of which were based on laws from the biblical book of Leviticus.)
We are prone to assume we have some right to constant prosperity. Rather, as Moses exhorted the Israelites upon their entrance to Canaan, “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.” (Deut. 8:10).
Finally, the new millennium is an occasion for CELEBRATION; many festivities are planned for New Year’s Eve. Sometimes believers are so concerned about avoiding worldliness that they forget the importance of joy. Our motto in Christ should be: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). God encouraged wholesome faith-building celebration in the Old Testament era though three pilgrim festivals–the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Lev 23).
The way in which Christians chose to observe (or not observe) holidays is a matter of conscience in this age of grace: “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. . . For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:5-8).
The greatest cause for celebration is God’s love for each one of us. As the John 3:16-18 declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
So don’t let anything “bug you” about Y2K. If things do get tougher, keep your eyes on Christ who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). He equips us to take every opportunity to do good to all people, “especially those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).
Joyous new year, century, and millennium to each of you.
Dec. 27, 1999 vol 2 #52