PART ONE – WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM?
After seven long and increasingly severe years, the Tribulation is over. Christ Jesus comes to earth again and the forces of Antichrist are defeated in the awesome battle of Armageddon. Now comes the calm after the storm. Chapter 20 of Revelation informs us of the one-thousand-year reign of Christ on this earth, known as the Millennium. Once again, this planet will return to an atmosphere similar to the Garden of Eden and the reason is simple. In the first three verses, John sees an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a chain in his hand. The angel seizes the dragon, that old serpent the devil, and binds him for a thousand years, casting him into the bottomless pit, shutting him up and sealing him there. All of this is done to prevent Satan from deceiving the people and nations till the thousand years are fulfilled. After that, the devil is again loosed for “a little season.”
How do we know that it will actually be 1000 years that Christ Jesus reigns in peace and righteousness? You will have Amillennialists and other groups questioning this by saying, “This is the only chapter in the Bible that mentions a millennium or thousand-year reign.” Yes, that is correct, but how many times does God have to say it to make it so? Once should be enough but if you read chapter 20, God repeats it six times in seven verses. Verses two, three, four, five, six and seven all refer to the period of a thousand years. The Word of God clearly indicates that this is a literal, thousand-year era when the Lord of Glory will be the King of the earth.
WHY HAS GOD ORDAINED A 1000 YEAR MILLENNIAL KINGDOM?
GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES
I will elaborate and expend more on this as we go through this two-part posting but for now, I just want to give you very briefly some of the reasons for the Millennial Kingdom.
(1). God has made several unconditional promises to Israel in the Old Testament, but their disobedience prevented God from carrying out His promises. Therefore, this will be a time when God can fulfil to Israel all that He said He would.
(2). God declared in His Word that Jesus would reign over the earth and would have a kingdom of peace but again man’s wickedness and rejection of Christ prevented it but in the Millennium Christ will reign as the Lord of the Earth and receive the worship due Him.
(3). Man will have no excuse on the day of judgement that the “devil made me do it” or that the temptations of the world caused mankind to sin and that if man was in a “perfect environment” then man would not sin. Not so for even with Satan locked up for the 1000 years and Christ on the throne in Jerusalem man still sins even in the Millennium.
(4). Christ has promised that the “Church” would rule and reign with Him in His kingdom. The Millennium is one place where we, as born-again believers, will rule and reign with Him.
WHO WILL ENTER THE MILLENNIUM?
There are multitudes of people that will enter the Millennium. They are the New Testaments saints, you and I – the Church. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus makes it clear that the overcomers (you and I – the Church) will reign jointly with Him. “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” The throne of Jesus is the throne of David (Luke 1:32 and Rev. 3:7). The throne of David is in Jerusalem, not in heaven (Psalms 122). Jesus currently shares His Father’s throne. Jesus is not sitting on His own throne and will not do so until He returns to this earth to reign. Then He will allow the redeemed to share His throne with Him. This message is confirmed in 2 Timothy 2:12 when Paul says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” I can’t see how Paul can make it much clearer than that.
(If you still have doubts about the Millennium and Christ Jesus’ reign, then I can give you 15 verses from the Old Testament prophets along with 13 verses from the New Testament that will confirm this).
Let us continue as to who else will be in the Millennium. Old Testament saints shall rule in some sense as well. Clearly Tribulation saints who died for their faith during the Tribulation period as well as other saints will reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4, 6). The 144,000 sealed servants or Jewish evangelists (Rev. 14:3-4), those who flee into the wilderness hideaway (Rev. 12:6) and those who remain in Jerusalem (Rev 12:17). Millions of Gentiles who are saved during the Tribulation shall enter the kingdom (Matt. 24:31-34). Now, who are those that will not be allowed to enter the kingdom? No unsaved person shall enter the millennial kingdom of Christ (Matt. 13:41-43; 49-50; 25:41, 46).
JUDGEMENT OF SHEEP AND GOATS
Christ establishes His throne on earth with His saints, Christ’s body of believers. The angels will at this time gather the survivors on earth before Christ’s throne. Those who survived the Tribulation must stand before the throne of Christ. Angels gather all individuals that survived the Tribulation, both the saved and unsaved to stand before Christ’s throne. Jesus describes the event in terms of a Shepherd dividing the sheep and goats. The goats are the lost (unbelievers), who survived the Tribulation, and the sheep are the saved believers who survived the Tribulation. We read in Matthew 25:32-33, “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”
Those on the left (the goats), those who rejected Christ in the Tribulation, will enter Hell that was prepared for the devil and his angels. Those on the right of Jesus (His sheep), born again believers, will enter the Millennium.
ACCORDING TO THE LORD’S PRAYER – “HIS KINGDOM WILL COME”
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Countless times every day for nearly 2000 years millions of people around the globe have voiced this prayer modelling the one Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 6:9-10 and Luke 11:2. What are we asking for with these words? We are requesting that the long-awaited earthly kingdom would be established.
In this model prayer to the disciples Jesus closes the prayer with these words: “…. deliver us from the evil one (Luke 11:4).” In the beginning the garden of Eden was the kingdom of God on earth but Satan took over that kingdom through the default of Adam. So, in this prayer Jesus taught His disciples, which includes us, to pray for the re-establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. For the world again to be under God’s reign, establishing His will here on earth “as it is in heaven.” We will not see the ultimate fulfilment of this prayer of Jesus until the Millennium when Christ reigns in power and glory (see Psalms 2:6-12; Isa. 11:4-9; Jere. 23:3-6; Zach.14:1-9). Only then will God rule and reign over every dimension of existence. Sin’s power will be mitigated, and Satan will be incarcerated (bound up) for a thousand years. Not until then will we be finally delivered from the power and even the presence of the evil one.
An earthly kingdom is coming, and the Kings name is Jesus. The Bible does not merely hint at this coming event; it is a major theme. Dwight Pentecost, who has devoted his entire life to the study of prophecy writes, “A larger body of prophetic Scripture is devoted to the subject of the Millennium, developing its character and conditions, than any other subject.” This millennial age in which the purposes of God are fully realized on earth demands considerable attention. This coming Golden Age is referred to variously as “times of refreshing (Acts 3:19)”; “times of restoration (Acts 3:21)”; “the Day of Jesus Christ(Phil. 1:6)”; and “the fullness of the times (Eph. 1:10) but it is best known as the Millennium – Christ Jesus’ rule on earth for a period of 1000 years.
Another wonderful aspect of the kingdom is that we believers will participate in this future rule of the earth with Christ. Jesus said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).” The apostle Paul echoed this idea in three passages: “Do you not know that the saints (believers) will Judge the world? Do you not know that we shall Judge angels (1 Cor. 6:23-3)?” And again, Paul says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12).” Our reward for faithfulness during this life will be a greater opportunity to serve in the future earthly kingdom of Christ Jesus in the Millennium.
This coming “Golden Age” will validate the prophets’ predictions. Most of the biblical information concerning the Millennium comes to us through the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Amos, Micah, and Zechariah. As they speak of Christ’s coming kingdom, they foresee a time when “all kings shall fall down before Him (Christ); all nations shall serve Him(Psalm 72:11),” and “His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth(Zechariah 9:10).” The predictions of these prophecies have not been realized at any time in world history and is only in the Millennium that they will find their ultimate fulfilment.
In considering how these prophecies will be fulfilled, it is important to understand that the political, economic, and religious structure that we know today will be totally altered when Christ Jesus reigns on earth. No longer will any city like Washington DC, New York, London, Berlin, or Beijing be the political center. The focus of all life will be Jerusalem in the land of Israel. Every important news release will go forth from Jerusalem as it will be the seat of the new global government and it is from that city King Jesus will reign. In that day Jerusalem will regain the glory it displayed in the days of King David but more magnified. It will be the seat of power and authority for 1000 years until the arrival of the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven as promised in Revelation 3:12 and 21:2.
The Millennial kingdom is but one segment of God’s prophetic plan. It will follow a time of great tragedy and horror – the Tribulation period. It will also be the transition era between this present world and the eternal state. It is the consuming link between history and the eternal order. It is the beginning of the eternal rule of God in the kingdom which will pass into the eternal state – a new heaven and a new earth.
Scripture gives us descriptive glimpses but does not answer all our questions. We know many things with certainty though we do not know them completely. One thing I can say with certainty is that “His kingdom will come and His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus emphasized that we should pray for the day when our Savior God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will set up His kingdom on earth and reign in righteousness. It expresses a longing to see His will acknowledged throughout the world. The prayer is that these conditions might exist on earth as they do in heaven.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever prayed the Lord’s prayer? Now I want to ask you another question: Has God’s kingdom come? Obviously not yet but will God’s kingdom come? Will things be done on earth as it is in heaven? Absolutely! You can count on it as God always keeps His word. One of these days you will see the answer to that prayer because His kingdom will come and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, Christ Jesus.
From the very beginning of human history our world has known conflict and wars and there has not been an extended period of true peace at any one time over the globe. Man, with his fallen (sin) nature, is simply not capable of bringing true and lasting peace to this world. Only when the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, comes to the world and sets up His kingdom will there be real harmony and peace. He is the only one who has the power and the ability to enforce the peace, righteousness, and abundance that will Mark the 1000-year earthly utopia known as the Millennial kingdom. In addition, this kingdom marks the transition between history and eternity.
Throughout its history the world has known many kingdoms, dynasties, and empires. They have risen and fallen, blowing across the pages of history like leaves on an autumn day. Some have been spectacular and adored with splendor, others have enslaved and slaughtered their populations. Regardless of how we remember them they all share the same common denominator – human leaders. Even in our own day, many think that if you could just get the right people into political office then humanity would be free to reach its full potential.
There are many views of history and its relation to the future. Some people see it as cynical; others look back wishfully to a “golden age.” Some say it is progressing to “laws of nature,” others say it is digressing by those same laws. To all of this the Bible gives a clear and certain answer to the questions of the future. History and human events are going somewhere and there will be a glorious future kingdom. The Lord’s prayer to His apostles and to believers everywhere will be answered in God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity who will reign and rule on earth for 1000 years in the Millennium.
Human history is sandwiched between two paradises. The first paradise began in the Garden of Eden but the disobedience of Adam and his fall into sin brought the pain and sorrow of God’s curse. Humanity was given the mandate of developing the Garden into the City of God. Instead of the New Jerusalem the result was Babylon and the kingdom of man. With Christ’s intervention into history (first in humility, next in glory) humankind will yet return to Paradise this time in a city called the “New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2).” Before that happens, humanity will experience for the first time what it means to live under the rule and reign of God Himself – Christ Jesus.
History in our own day is moving towards the establishment of God’s victory and rule upon earth through Jesus Christ and His people. But what are the details? What does the Bible teach about the coming Millennium. Actually, the Bible has a great deal to say about the subject. Let us now examine its teachings together.
WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM?
If you look in an English translation of the Bible concordance for the word Millennium, you will probably be disappointed. There are many Bible passages that teach about the Millennium even though the word itself is not mentioned. The Millennium is about biblical doctrine and theological concept derived from many passages. In English theological terms, Millennium is derived from Latin. It refers to the length of time that the Bible says the Messiah’s kingdom will last upon earth before the end of history. As you read earlier, in the book of Revelation chapter 20, the 1000 years is mentioned six times in the first seven verses. Speaking about the martyrs of the Tribulation we read: “And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (v. 4).” We also read that true believers shall be priests of God and of Christ: “And shall reign with Him a thousand years (v. 6).”
Numerous Old Testament passages speak of a future time of true peace and prosperity for the righteous followers of God under the benevolent physical rule of Jesus Christ on earth. Zechariah 14:9 tells of this time saying, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day (Millennium) the Lord shall be acknowledged as the only true God.” The passage then continues in verses 16-21 to describe some of the millennial conditions. Even though the Bible speaks descriptively throughout about the Millennial kingdom, it was not until the final book, Revelation, that the length of His kingdom was revealed.
The prophet Isaiah some 2500 years ago also foretold of this future era: “Now it will come about in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many people will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (Isa. 2:2-4).”
Here Isaiah is telling us how he is looking forward to the glorious future kingdom of the Messiah. In that day Jerusalem will be established as the religious and political capital of the world. The Gentile nations will make pilgrimages to Zion (Jerusalem) for worship and for divine instruction. King Jesus will arbitrate international problems and settle disputes for the people and as a result there will be universal disarmament. Justice and peace will ultimately be realized in the Millennial kingdom.
Several chapters later, Isaiah mentions some conditions of the Millennium: “And the Wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand in the viper’s den (Isa. 11:6-9).”
Here Isaiah describes what it will be like in this future kingdom of the Messiah. Here Isaiah tells us that even wild animals will submit to Christ’s rule, making it possible for a nursing child to play by the cobra’s hole. The predatory instincts and carnivores’ appetites will cease in animals. One of the most glorious promises in all Holy Scripture is the second half of verse nine, giving the reason for the ideal conditions during the Millennial kingdom. “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” In summary, the character and nature of the planet including its occupants and even the animal creation will revert to their position as before the “fall of man.” Paradise is restored as it was in Adam’s day.
Other extensive Old Testament passages on the Millennium include: Psalms 2:6-9; Isaiah 65:18-23; Jeremiah 31:12-14, 31-37; Ezekiel 34:25-29, 37:1-13, 40-48; Daniel 2:35, 7:13-14; Joel 2:21; Amos 9:13-14; Micah 4:1-7, and Zephaniah 3:9-20. These verses are only a few of the scores of prophetic passages found regarding this subject before Christ’s first coming to Bethlehem. Actually, the whole block of Old Testament prophecy points to the establishment of a kingdom of peace upon earth when the law will go forth from Mount Zion.
The New Testament also gives significant witness to this coming kingdom. It is the Millennial kingdom that Jesus spoke of during the Passover meal before being betrayed and crucified. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:27-29).” Let me explain: Christ reminds His disciples that He would not drink from the fruit of the vine with them again until He returns to earth to reign. Then the wine would have a new significance; it would speak of the joy and blessedness of His Father’s kingdom.
The future kingdom of God will have two distinct phases, the Millennium, and the Eternal State. However, the overwhelming emphasis of the Bible is upon the 1000-year reign of Christ in His future kingdom known as the Millennium. The Millennium is a future biblical reality that is yet to be realized.
…. The Millennium to be continued in part two – It’s purpose, relationship to Israel, changes on earth, government, role of the church, population explosion and the final rebellion of sinners.