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The March of the Millennium

The 20th century witnessed some great marches, claims Jay Gary. Yet these marches pale in comparison to the true and greater march led by Jesus. As a greater Moses, Jesus is leading a greater exodus as we cross into the third millennium. It should rightfully be called, the “March of the Millennium.” 

Several years ago Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds brought out another spellbinding novel, A Creed for the Third Millennium.1 In it, McCullough weaves into a religious story both emotional intensity and a powerful climax.

The story is set in 2033. A spreading ice age has forced millions of people around the globe to migrate to southern climates. Worldwide economies have collapsed. To ease the population crunch, the United States has been forced to adhere to a one-child policy. “Millennial neurosis,” the loss of hope in God or humanity, is epidemic.

Enter Dr. Joshua Christian, a clinical psychologist, who offers a demoralized nation faith in his self-styled God. Through the help of Dr. Judith Carriol, an ambitious senior official in the department of environment, Dr. Christian rises from obscurity to worldwide fame.

As the story progresses, his messianic complex is matched only by Judith Carriol’s ambition to control him. The climax of this crusade comes through a cosmic walk-a-thon, called the “March of the Millennium,” led by the doctor himself, from New York to Washington, D.C. Reaching out to the cold hands and despairing hearts of the American people, the personal magnetism of Dr. Christian transforms this final tour into an epic pilgrimage that touches and renews millions. As a result America awakens, and is on the move again at the dawn of the third millennium.

The March of the Century

The vision of masses on the move, marching through history, is a stirring one. We can remember much of this century through its marches. Hitler marched his troops by torchlight. Stalin marched his artillery through Red Square. Mao’s Red Guard marched throughout China and ravaged a nation.

On the other hand, the 20th century has experienced many redemptive marches. In 1930, Gandhi led hundreds of followers on a 200-mile march to the sea. His nonviolent campaign won the respect of the world and gained independence from Britain.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a historic civil rights march to the Lincoln Memorial. It was inspirationÑsome say divine inspirationÑthat led King to put aside his prepared remarks that day and deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood . . .

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

Many believe this march and King’s eloquent vision of justice was a turning point which created the momentum in the United States Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

A Greater March

Indeed, this century has seen some great marches. Yet these marches pale in comparison to the true and greater march led by Jesus. As a greater Moses, Jesus is leading a greater exodus as we cross into the third millennium. I believe it rightfully should be called, the “March of the Millennium.”

This march of Jesus is old, yet new. It has swept through space and time, enlisting many generations and encompassing practically all nations. We may well see it swell in numbers as we approach the bimillennial.

The biblical history of spiritual procession is a rich one. It first surfaced in Genesis 35, when Jacob and his household marched up to Bethel, “the house of God,” and built an altar.2

Four hundred years later, Moses awoke the masses in Egypt, only to have the Lord march the children of Israel out of captivity. This spiritual procession numbered in the millions as they marched to Mt. Sinai, and into the promised land.

In 2 Samuel 6, David brought the ark of God back to Israel with a great procession of singers and musicians, and consecrated Jerusalem as a capital city. After the captivity in Babylon and Persia, Ezra and Nehemiah lead a remnant back to Jerusalem in a joyful procession.

The Gospels describe Jesus’ last year of ministry as a great freedom march down through the Jordan valley, through Jericho, and finally into Jerusalem with much public praise. Throughout passion week, Jesus’ march stirred the city of Jerusalem. Many thought it was finished on Friday. But come Sunday, Jesus leapt from the grave, rose victorious over death and Satan, marched right past principalities, powers, thrones and dominions to the very throne of God!

Later, the apostle John gives us a glimpse of a “great multitude” gathered before “the throne and in front of the Lamb,” having completed their march through history.

The term “Lamb,” of course, is a symbolic title for Jesus, reminding us that His march took Him by way of the cross. John describes Jesus in this way: “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17). Speaking in categories which transcend space and time, Jesus is both the end and the leader of the “March of the Millennium.”

This is why the apostle Paul could say, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14). The people of the Roman empire were quite familiar with “triumphant processions.” After a general won a great military campaign for the empire, he would march in “triumphant procession.” With his army in front, followed by a defeated enemy in chains, the general would march into the city to receive his acclaim.

The people of the Roman empire were quite familiar with “triumphant processions.” After a general won a great military campaign for the empire, he would march in “triumphant procession.” With his army in front, followed by a defeated enemy in chains, the general would march into the city to receive his acclaim.

In a similar way, the Lord Jesus has won a great campaign, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
His march then ended at the throne of God. He now reigns to receive acclaim and tribute from the nations, as Scripture says, “And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6).

A Bimillennial Tribute

Practically everyone has heard of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his Son . . . ” But equally true is John 3:35 which says that God so loved the Son, He is giving Him the world!

The bimillennial will best be celebrated as it dramatizes the reality of how the Father loves the Son, and is now bringing Him the world’s tribute, honor and glory.

Webster defines “tribute” in the ancient context of royalty. It is “something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved, especially: a gift or service showing respect, gratitude or affection.” Any movement of spiritual procession that arises from our cities unto Christ in light of His bimillennial needs to be seen against this larger canvas of tribute and honor being brought to the Son.3 The bimillennial is not just the commemoration of a man. It is also the celebration of the lordship of Christ, through the nations going up to the New Jerusalem.

We live in a cynical age which has lost the high concept of what it means to honor another or pay homage to one who is worthy. We are so used to public officials or religious leaders serving with dishonor, we might sometimes find it foreign to think of honoring anyone. Ours is a culture without genuine heroes. Even Superman has died! But there are signs the tide might turn.

Shine, Jesus, Shine

Since 1987, millions of people around the world have sung the chorus called “Shine, Jesus, Shine” written by one of England’s most popular worship leader, Graham Kendrick. What many people don’t know is that this chorus has been the flag song for an epoch making movement of spiritual procession, called March for Jesus.

Spontaneously begun in the Soho district of London in 1985, the March for Jesus is becoming the world’s biggest street party. The concept is a simple one. On a designated day of the year in cities across the world, people of all ages, races and traditions fill the streets to joyfully proclaim their faith, pray for their cities and sing praise songs. There is no other agenda. It is simply a gift of praise to Jesus.

I first encountered the March for Jesus movement in 1991. Graham Kendrick came over to the States to share the story of the praise march in Europe. He explained how twenty European countries were planning to march for Jesus in 1992, and invited us, as Americans, to join in.

Upon hearing Graham talk about 1992, I felt the march would be redemptive for the quincentennial year. In 1492, one continent had walked over another. Now five hundred years later, those same two continents would walk together, side by side in Christ.

The March for Jesus vision spread like wildfire across America. A pastor in Virginia felt his city should do a praise march even before he heard about the March for Jesus. He reserved a parade permit for May 23rd. When he learned about March for Jesus, he called the national office in Austin, Texas, only to learn the whole world would join him on that date!

On May 23rd, 1992, more than 600,000 people marched for Jesus in 200 cities around the world. In newly-united Berlin, a crowd of 70,000 marched from East to West Germany, passing through Brandenburg Gate, where Hitler once paraded his troops. In Albania, once opposed to religious liberty, the march started with 200 and ended with 2,000, where a statement was read from the president that recognized how people of faith had helped usher in a new era for that country.

I was helping to organize a “March for Jesus” in Pasadena, Calif. that year. Just three weeks before the praise march, the Los Angeles riots broke out. I went on a “Street Beat” radio program to say, “We’ve seen what hell can do, now let’s give heaven a chance!” Within days, 20,000 marchers in the Los Angeles area filled many of those same streets.

March Gains Momentum

The following year, on June 12, 1993, more than 850 cities worldwide held a “March for Jesus,” sweeping more than two million people into praise marches. The lead song of praise march expressed our prayer:

We’ll walk the land, with hearts on fire,
And every step will be a prayer.
Hope is rising, new day dawning,
Sound of singing fills the air.
Two thousand years and still the flame
Is burning bright across the land.
Hearts are waiting, longing, aching,
For awakening once again.4

Let the Flame Burn Brighter by Graham Kendrick,
© 1992 by Make Way Music. Used by Permission.

In our city, one marcher said of the fellowship, “This is what it’s going to be like in heaven.” The Denver Post hailed the March for Jesus as “a beginning of festivities leading to the commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of Christ’s birth.”

The March for Jesus movement is not a protest, nor a political event, but a praise march. We march for our cities and for our future as given by God. Marches today have become everyday news. Everybody seems to be marching these days, against something or against somebody. It seems any group with an agenda is marching to show their strength and to appeal for acceptance. Parades used to celebrate our shared culture, now marches have become vehicles to legitimize our status as victims. Marches spill into our streets, and escalate the fight for attention, sympathy, money and legal protection.

Contrast this with the March for Jesus. It is not a media event. It has no social or political agenda. It is not marching against anything, but rather to someone. As Tom Pelton, U.S. march organizer states, “There may be spectators, there may not. We march for an audience of one.”

A worship march like this leaves healing behind where there was once hurt, faith where fear once ruled and hope where despair once reigned. I see the March for Jesus movement as a sign that says this is not the end of the road. There is hope, if we walk together. As the third millennium dawns, this “train is bound for glory!”

The March for Jesus movement convened its largest praise march yet on June 25, 1994. On that day a march circled the globe with more than ten million people in the streets with public praise. It started in Seoul, Korea with one million people, then swept from time zone to time zone, in one city after another worldwide. In one Pacific time zone, where there are no islands, a praise march was held by sailors on the deck of a U.S. Naval vessel!

I see this as nothing less than an epoch-making march in response to the call of the Spirit of God. More than anything else, these historic processions may keep our focus on Christ as we approach the bimillennial.

Tell Your Grandchildren
Graham Kendrick has written the early story of the March for Jesus movement in the book Public Praise.5

Wisely, the March for Jesus movement is re-envisioned each time it is done. If the movement lasts until the year 2000, and all signs point to that possibility, it could be one of the few holidays solely for Jesus that we have not totally commercialized.

I have a hunch that our heavenly Father is so eager to honor Jesus in the bimillennial, He has allowed the March for Jesus movement to be born early in cities around the world to insure that one great offering of praise is gathered from the East to the West to present to our Lord on His 2,000th birthday.

I believe in 20 years, we will look back and tell our grandchildren about the March for Jesus movement saying, “Yes, I was there when the bimillennial era began. We marched for Jesus all the way up Congress Avenue. From 1996 to 2001, it became the ‘March of the Millennium’the march that led up to the bimillennial, the Jubilee year of 2000when the church celebrated the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the world’s only Savior.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what way have public marches defined our century, for good or bad?
  2. In what way is Jesus leading a greater “March of the Millennium?” Cite biblical passages to support your answer.
  3. What should the concepts of “tribute, honor and glory” mean to us?
  4. Have you ever participated in a “March for Jesus”? If so, what did it mean to you?


  1. McCullough, Colleen. A Creed for the Third Millennium, Harper & Row, 1985.
  2. I am indebted to Steve Hawthorne for these insights. He points to five major processions in the Scriptures, each which ended at the house of God.
  3. In order to see the larger canvas of tribute and honor being brought unto Christ, we need to recover a “theology of glory.” We need to see how humanity receives “the glory of the Lord” such that it might be given to God in Jesus Christ. For the theologically inclined, I recommend Hans Urs Von Balthasar’s seven volume series, The Glory of the Lord: A theological aesthetics, Ignatius Press, 1982.
  4. “Let the Flame Burn Brighter,” adm. in the U.S.A. by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music, Mobile, AL. All rights reserved.
  5. Kendrick, Graham. Public Praise: Celebrating Jesus on the streets of the world, Creation House, 1992.

This excerpt from The Star of 2000, pp. 108-115 is posted with permission. Copyright © 1994 by Bimillennial Press.

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