I was brought up in the faith being taught that we are living in the end times, and that any day, Yeshua would return to establish his kingdom on this Earth. After a thousand years of the Messianic kingdom, there would be a final war of good and evil, and then a literal eternal Utopia after the final rebellion is put down by God.
However, I have come to a different conclusion in recent years based on passages like Rev. 22 where the text reads:
Rev 22:14-15: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
If this is supposed to represent the eternal Utopia of the everlasting Kingdom of God, then why are there still sinners outside of the New Jerusalem? Isn’t God supposed to have removed all sin by this point?
Well, I believe this apparent inconsistency can be removed when we recognize that Revelation is a book of symbols and signs, and not a newspaper forecast of literal events.
The book already tells us that the New Jerusalem is the body of believers, as the bride of Messiah (Rev 21:2). So it isn’t too difficult to see that this is a symbolic representation of believers, a place where Yeshua reigns and God dwells, with gates that are open at all times for anyone who repents of their sin and “washes their robes” to become eligible to enter the city.
If that is the case, then it follows that this is where we live now, in the Messianic kingdom, continuing to grow the city as we reach out to receive repentant individuals.
Mat 5:14: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
I believe the end times and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom occurred in the first century, within the generation of those who heard Yeshua preach about it, just as he said.