Rev. 20 v.1-7 refers six times to the kingdom of Christ lasting "one thousand years". Reigned with Christ a Thousand Years This has triggered a major controversy, not because there is any question about the accuracy of the original text, but because it conflicts with concepts held by many theologians down through the years. This is the only place in the Bible that establishes the length of time for the coming Kingdom of Christ. That there is to be a Kingdom Age during which Christ will rule on earth is really unquestioned by sincere Bible students who believe the Bible to be the Word of God, for it is one of the most frequently mentioned subjects in the entire Bible.
This Kingdom period is often labeled "the Millennium," a term derived from the Latin words mille ("one thousand") and annum ("year"). It is unfortunate that the term Millennium has replaced the more scriptural term Kingdom. This period of time will literally fulfill the prayer our Lord taught His followers to pray, "Your Kingdom come" (Mat. 6 v.10) The point of controversy throughout church history regarding the Kingdom essentially concerns whether Christ will come before the Kingdom is ushered in or whether the world will get better and better and Christ will come to a righteous earth. By spiritualizing Scripture, some have even tried to explain away the Millennium.
Chiliasm, so named from (chilioi - meaning "one thousand" - refers in a general sense to the doctrine of the millennium, or kingdom age that is yet to be, and as stated in the Encyclopedia Britannica (14th ed., S.V.) is "the belief that Christ will return to reign for 1000 years" The distinctive feature of this doctrine is that He will return before the 1000 years and therefore will characterize those years by His personal presence and by the exercise of His rightful authority, securing and sustaining all the blessings on the earth which are ascribed to that period.
The term chiliasm has been superseded by the designation pre-millennialism; and modre is implied in the term that a mere reference to a 1000 years. It is a thousand years which is said to intervene between the 1st and 2nd of humanity's resurrection In this thousand years every earthly covenant with Israel will be fulfilled. The entire Old Testament expectation is involved, with its earthly kingdom, the glory of Israel, and the promised Messiah seated on David's throne in Jerusalem.
The Coming Kingdom of Christ - There can be no doubt as to the scriptural evidence for the coming Kingdom of Christ. There are literally hundreds of verses in the Bible that predict an earthly Kingdom of God, ruled by the Son of God and superseding all the kingdoms of the world. Most of the prophets treat this subject at length, often holding it out as a source of encouragement to the children of Israel in their most desperate days.
We will give an exposition of some of the longer passages. We will give a description of the Millennium from some of the shorter passages; then the texts will be briefly compared in order to develop a composite picture of life during the Millennium.
The Kingdom According to Daniel - In Daniel 2 v.31-35 we find the vision of Nebuchadnezzar recalled by Daniel, the great prophet. He sums up this description of the four world empires with these words:
"While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth." (Dan 2 v.34-35)
The interpretation of this vision is provided by Daniel in chapter 2 v.36-45. After describing the parts of the great image as four world kingdoms - the head of gold as Babylon, the breast and arms of silver representing the Medo-Persian Empire, the belly and thighs of bronze representing the Greek Empire, and legs of iron signifying the Roman Empire - Daniel describes the ten toes and the feet of iron and clay as representing the ten kingdoms that will cooperate in establishing the Antichrist in power during the Tribulation period.
In verse 44 we find the interpretation of the stone cut without hands, which grinds to powder the rest of the image. "In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. "The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy." (Dan 2 v.44-45)
From this prophecy and its interpretation we see that God Himself will "set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed." Will pulverize all the known kingdoms of the world, and will expand His Kingdom until it will "crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end." This can be none other than the Kingdom of God. This, then, is the Kingdom of God ruled over by Christ, who is symbolized in the Bible as a rock.
His Kingdom will be firmly established, filling the whole earth. We have already seen in Rev. 17 and 18 that nothing is more detrimental to humanity than religion and government. Humanity tends to look on government as a panacea to solve all of its ills. By contrast, the Bible teaches that a government without a benevolent despot of supernatural origin as its leader cannot be a happy experience, but a source of human misery.
A day is coming when the world's leaders will become so atheistic that they will pit their wills against God. This event evidently will take place in the middle of the Tribulation, when human pride is so filled with people's own importance that they think they can actually defy God. In so doing, they will incur the wrath of God. "Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my Holy Hill." (Ps. 2 v.5-6)
God will establish His King in His holy place in His due time, regardless of the atheistic antagonism of human beings. A description of that Kingdom follows:
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Ps. 2 v.7-9)
This passage speaks of an absolute Kingdom stretching to the uttermost parts of the earth. The Lord will rid the world of all those kings who oppose Him. This great psalm concludes with God's challenge to world leaders concerning their present attitude: Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. (Ps. 2 v.10-12) If the world leaders responded that way today, this world would be an entirely different place in which to live.
Jesus will invite His people to rule His kingdom with Him. That is the message of Revelation 20 verse 6. "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20 verse 5 - First Resurrection)
A Staggering Population - What will the kingdom be like? Zech 14 tells us that Jerusalem will be the capital of the kingdom and that the world's peoples will regularly journey there to worship the king. The last 2 chapters of Isaiah tell us that major changes in the earth's climate, geography, flora, and fauna will occur. Of the latter change Isaiah says, "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, says the Lord" (Isaiah 65 v.25).
Isaiah also predicts that God will create "new heavens and a new earth", a topic about which the apostle Peter gives us some details: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." (2 Peter 3 v.10) New Heaven and a New Earth - Revelation 21 verse 1
Ezekiel's Prophecies of a World Kingdom - The prophecies of Ezekiel take on logical progression when in chapters 36-37 we find the restoration of the nation of Israel to the land of Palestine. Chapters 38-39 contain the abortive attempt of Russia to come down against Israel in the latter days just prior to the Tribulation. Then in chapters 40-48 we encounter a description of the millennial Kingdom, particularly the Temple and conditions for worship during that 1,000-year period. Ezekiel goes into great detail regarding the worshipping in the Temple, even pointing out that the sacrificial systems will be reestablished.
These sacrifices during the millennial Kingdom will be to the nation of Israel what the Lord's Supper is to the Church today: a reminder of what they have been saved from. No meritorious or efficacious work will be accomplished through these sacrifices. Instead, they will remind Israel repeatedly of their crucified Messiah, just as the Passover Feast reminded the nation of Israel for centuries that God had delivered them by blood from the land of Pharaoh.
The Millennial Kingdom According to Zechariah the Prophet - Zech. 14 contains an easily interpreted prophecy concerning the coming Kingdom. "On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain."
"The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles. On that day Holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty." (Zech. 14 v.8; 16-21)
These verses make it clear that Jerusalem will serve as headwaters for the religious life of the people, the source of the waterways of the world: "Living water will flow out from Jerusalem" (Zech 14 v.8) This refers to the "living waters" that Jesus promised the woman at the well in Samaria, indicating that the way of redemption and new life would be supplied from Jerusalem, the headquarters of the King. It also refers to the physical waters provided during that age from Jerusalem to worship the King every year. In Revelation 22 v.1 it is called "A Pure River of Water of Life".
Not to do so will be to incur the animosity of God "in the form of a plague." Zech. 14 verse 20 refers to the holiness of the Kingdom. We have already seen that Satan will be bound during this millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20 v.1-3); when Christ rules, it will be a true Kingdom of holiness. The world has never known an era of holiness when standards were not established through human practices but by the mandate of God. During those days God's standards will be the law. Violators of that law will be severely punished.
The Millennium According to the Prophet Isaiah - The profit Isaiah referred to the coming Kingdom of Christ many times. The last 2 chapters in Isaiah contain specific information concerning that period.
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed."
"They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; which they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord." (Isaiah 65 v.17-25)
This passage reveals some of the most descriptive details known of the Millennium. Such information is given to show that Jerusalem will be the place of rejoicing; no more weeping will be heard within the city. Jerusalem has known much heartache throughout its many centuries. One of its walls is famous today as a place of wailing - wailing for the future restoration of the greatness of Israel. This will be fulfilled during the Millennium.
Verse 20 indicates that the life span of a human being will be increased as in the days before the Flood. Believers will evidently live until the end of the Millennium, some almost 1,000 years. However unsaved people will be given a hundred years in which to receive Christ, states Tim LaHaye. If they reject Him, they will die on their hundredth birthday.
Economic stability will be the standard during that period. For instance, people will not build houses and let others occupy them because of death or sickness. It will be a stable time when people can enjoy the fruits of their efforts. "They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune". (Isaiah 65 v.23) The text also indicates that God will answer His people speedily during the millennial Kingdom, even while they are in the midst of praying, and sometimes "before they call."
God will anticipate the needs of His people, supplying those needs in many cases before they call on Him. The curse will be lifted from the animals, who will enjoy peace one with another, for "the wolf and the lamb will feed together." The only exception seems to be the serpent, which will continue to crawl on his belly and eat dust.
The Renovation of the Earth by Fire - Most prophetic teachers acknowledge that the earth will be renovated by fire, but for some reason they insist on locating this event at the end of the Millennium. Isaiah 65 v.17, however, preceding the description of the Millennium, indicates that God will "create new heavens and a new earth" before the Kingdom is established. That means He will create a new atmospheric heaven around the earth and reestablish the earth on a far better basis.
We learn from other passages that the waste areas of the world will be recreated. Today three fourths of the earth is wasted by water, making much of the earth unusable. At that time vast mountain ranges will be leveled, and the earth will enjoy a complete resurfacing before the Millennium.
The same period of time is referred to in 2 Peter 3 v.1-16. The apostle predicts that in the last days scoffers will come, "scoffing and following their own evil desires" and suggesting that since no changes have occurred in creation since the beginning, there is no reason to believe the fact of Christ's coming.
They reject the change of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The apostle points out to believers that they are not so limited by such biased concepts. Peter further states that "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years," meaning that God's promises of 2000 years ago are only 2 days old. Then he predicts that the Day of the Lord will usher in a time of cataclysmic change on the earth.
The earth will be dissolved, meaning the surface of the earth in the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord, then, will dawn with the destruction of this old earth and the refurbishing of its surface, on which God will establish His Kingdom of righteousness. The times described by Peter are upon us. Certainly every child of God today should heed His words: "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God" (2 Peter 3 v.11-12a)
We have already seen that at the beginning of the millennial Kingdom Satan was bound by a great angel in the Abyss (Rev. 20 v.1-3). Satan Bound for 1000 Years That means that people will not be tempted by Satan for a thousand years. Today there are three forces of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Because the world will be a Kingdom of righteousness administered by the Lord, the righteous judge, no lewd, suggestive, worldly temptations can mislead them. Neither will they be tempted by Satan, for he will be chained. Therefore the only source of temptation will be the flesh.
In such an environment an overwhelming number of people will no doubt be saved. Isaiah 65 v.20 casts some interesting light on this future time of great world blessing: "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed."
This verse suggest that believers will live after birth to the end of the Millennium, since a person will be reckoned a child when he or she is a hundred years old. But it also indicated that if a person reaches a hundred years of age and is not a believer, he or she will be accursed, or die. In other words according to Tim LaHaye, those living during the Millennium are given a hundred years to make a decision to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If they do so, they will continue living to the end of the Millennium, paralleling the age of the human race before the Flood. If they do not receive Jesus Christ, they will die at a hundred years of age.
If we add to this the absence of worldly temptation and the absence of satanic temptation, plus the fact that the whole world will know the gospel of Christ in that day, we can reasonably conclude that this will be the most ideal environment in which to raise children.
Like Adam and Eve and others after them until the Flood, couples in the Millennium can have children not only the first hundred years but for hundreds of years thereafter. Since it will be a time of unprecedented blessing and food supply, a couple will conceivably have as many children as they desire. The conclusion seems justifiable, then that the overwhelming majority of people on the earth during the last nine hundred years will be Christians.
Of course, some born during that age will reject Christ and die by their 100th birthday. And even though they die at a hundred years of age, there will be ample time for these unsaved to propagate a generation of unbelievers to follow Satan when he is released at the end of the Kingdom age to "deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - God and Magog - to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore". Gog and Magog Revelation 20 v.8
Their number "like the sand on the seashore" does not necessarily mean that the overwhelming majority of the world population at that time will follow Satan. Instead, it indicates that a fantastic population explosion will occur during the Millennium and that many born during the last century will follow Satan. Comparatively speaking, this will be a youth movement, since all who follow Satan in his last rebellion will be under a hundred years of age.
A Massive Soul Harvest - It is most encouraging to realize that many times more people will be converted during the millennial Kingdom than will be lost. Because the millennial population will undoubtedly exceed the total world population during the whole of biblical history, and since the majority living at that time will be Christian, it follows that there will be more people in heaven than in hell.
Consequently, God will achieve His grand purpose for the majority of humankind, their salvation. (2 Peter 3 v.9) God in his infinite wisdom did not cast Satan into the lake of fire at the time, He cast in his two chief tools, the beast (Antichrist) and the False Prophet. They were cast in at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium began (Rev. 19 v.20). He saved Satan out of that judgment because He wanted to give the last generation who would not live to be a hundred years of age a final choice.
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them" (Rev. 21 v.3). Another outstanding characteristic of this new city is that God's Tabernacle will no longer be in the third heaven, for He will move His headquarters to the new earth and will literally take up His abode in the New Jerusalem. We simply do not have the mental capacity to comprehend the significance of living in an economy where God Himself exists. "They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (Rev. 21 v3).
The people who inhabit the new eternal earth will be those who voluntarily received Christ by faith - before the Flood, before Abraham, before Christ, during the Church Age, and throughout the Tribulation and Millennium. As indicated in our study of the Millennium, far more people will inhabit heaven that hell. God has a special love for humankind. That love will have all eternity to express itself upon His obedient creatures. To true Christians heaven is not just a place where all things are new, but a place where they can enjoy unbroken fellowship with God.
New Jerusalem - The Bride of Christ - The Bride of Christ One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Rev. 21 v.9-11) New Jerusalem
Inviting John to a high mountain, the angel showed him the Bride, the Lamb's wife. But the Bride is described in verse 10 as that "great [city] the holy City, Jerusalem." This does not suggest that the Bride of Christ is a city. Since chapter 19 described the marriage of the Lamb to the Bride, we find that the Bride is not a physical city but the Church. The Holy Spirit here is telling us about that city that the Lord promised His disciples in John 14 v.2 when He said, "I am going there to prepare a place for you." Now that prepared city is coming to the earth, and its inhabitants are the members of the bride.
When this city comes to the earth, it will be a people filled city - people in their resurrected bodies after the Millennium, prepared to dwell with Christ for eternity. That is why this city, which surpasses the splendor of anything we can comprehend, is called the Bride, the Lamb's wife. "It shone with the glory of God" (Rev. 21 v.11). This city is the crowning feature of the creation of God, the unique habitation of the redeemed for eternity.
To emphasize the glory of God, the verse pictures a dazzling light "like a jasper, clear as crystal." Someone has suggested that perhaps the city will be surrounded with a ball of crystal light; just as the earth is round, this square city would have a round sphere of light. Certainly it will reflect the glory of God.
Hal Lindsey believes those who experience the Rapture will be living in a city hovering above the earthly city of Jerusalem and interacting with the Millennial Kingdom below. This "New Jerusalem" is a city so bright that its glow actually lights the world below both day and night. It is where we will be living in new spiritual bodies that allow us to walk through walls, disappear and reappear at will and travel at the speed of our own desires just as Jesus did in His resurrected body.
So we'll be there in the Millennial Kingdom any time we choose. We might visit relatives on earth. We might come down to have a midnight snack. We might even catch a movie, once in a while. But keep in mind, the people down below will be living in their old human bodies, somewhat improved, but not a glorified resurrection body like yours.
It will be a very different planet earth than we know today. There will be real justice. Lives will be greatly extended, especially for those who avoid sin and live righteous lives. Satan will be bound in chains during this period. But the world will not be without temptation. Remember, the people of the earth are still human, still living with their sinful nature.
Our Resurrection Bodies - The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, is teaching about the certainty of every believer's resurrection from the dead. He also reveals that the resurrection body will be wonderfully changed into an eternal immortal form that has real corporal substance. Paul teaches that our new body will "bear the image of the heavenly," that is, it will be like the Lord Jesus' resurrected body.
In this regard, he says, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1 Cor. 15 v.50) In other words, our present body of flesh and blood, which must be sustained by elements of the earth, which are perishable, must be changed to another form. This new form has material being, but it is of a kind that is suited for the spiritual, imperishable, eternal atmosphere of heaven.
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