The difference in belief between post and pre-millennialists concerning this point is as great as the difference between light and darkness. Post-millennialists believe that Christ will not return until the end of time and that then He will come to judge the human race. As to what is going to happen at the end of time Scripture does not leave us in ignorance. Says the apostle Peter, |But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up| (2 Pet.3:10). Post-millennialists then look for the world (the Kosmos) to be |burned up| and for |the heavens| to |pass away| at the time of Christ's Return; in other words, they look for the destruction of the old creation as the consequent of the Second Advent. But pre-millennialists look for the emancipation of all creation from its present bondage as one of the glorious results of our Redeemer's Return. They base this belief on the teaching of Rom.8:18-24, a passage which has already been examined in an earlier chapter. Without again entering upon a detailed exposition of the entire passage, let us seek to summarize its contents.
|The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now| (vs.22). This is the lot of all Nature to-day. The world groans beneath an accumulating load of sin and wretchedness. Man groans: his soul groans, and so does his body. Animals groan. The earth itself groans, sometimes like a great giant in awful pain. How then can the world enjoy a thousand years of rest and peace and blessedness whilst the whole creation is in travail! The whole creation is here personified and represented as sending up to heaven a loud and agonizing groan. And God in heaven hears it: His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, nor is His arm shortened that it cannot save. A day of liberation for the groaning creation hastens on. It is announced in the very passage we are now reviewing. The day when this groaning creation will be delivered is the day when Christ returns to usher in the Millennium and when the saints shall be revealed in glory with Him. The time of creation's deliverance is here said to be at |the manifestation of the sons of God| (vs.19 and compare Col.3:3). This manifestation of God's sons is in verse 23 denominated |The Adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body| which has reference to the |first resurrection| -- the |resurrection of the just.| A groaning creation then is waiting for the Return of Christ and with Him the Saints manifested in glory, for then, and not till then, will it be emancipated from its present thraldom.
Here then is the answer to our question -- What is the time of the Redeemer's Return? He shall return before the Millennium. He shall come back to usher in the Millennium and set up His Messianic Kingdom, restore Israel, and deliver a groaning creation. As to how near His pre-millennial coming may be we leave for consideration in the next two chapters.