WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM? (2 of 3)
Prophecy Series ❧ Part 13
We started our service this morning with a song I imagine caused many of you to wonder, “Why are we singing a Christmas song in the middle of May?” For one simple reason, Joy to The World is not a Christmas song! When Isaac Watts penned these words a little over three-hundred years ago, he wasn’t thinking about Jesus’s first coming at all. He was celebrating the anticipation of Jesus glorious second coming and the golden age of His rule here on Earth! After reflecting on the words of Psalm 98, Watts sat down and composed this great hymn. Listen again to his words: Joy to the World! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King… No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make blessing flow Far as the curse is found… He rules the world with truth and grace…
Let me ask you, when Jesus was born, did the Earth receive her King? Not at all! Did the pain of sin and sorrow end? Did sharp thorns stop infesting the ground? Was the heavy curse of sin lifted from the whole Earth? Does Jesus presently rule the world with truth and grace? This is not a song celebrating Christ’s birth, but anticipating His glorious return and triumphant rule on Earth!
This morning we’re going take another look at what the Bible describes as a thousand-year reign of Christ here on Earth following His second coming at the end of the Tribulation. The more I study what God’s Word says about this period of time, the more questions I have. Why is there a millennium at all? Why go through it all? Why can’t we just go from Revelation chapter nineteen – Christ’s return, to chapter twenty-one – the New Heaven and New Earth? God has given us the answers in His Word. God never wastes our time or makes useless plans. He always has a purpose that and a plan that is greater than we can imagine. We’re going to look at three questions this morning: 1) What is the Millennium? 2) Who will be there? 3) What will it be like?
I. What is the Millennium? In the book of Revelation 20:1-7, the Apostle John carefully notes after Christ’s return there will be a period of a thousand years marked by universal peace and joy. John doesn’t use the word a thousand just once, but six times in the first seven verses. A thousand years… [6x’s] (Revelation 20:1-7). With each use he describes what this utopic time will be like. Satan will be bound for a thousand years. He will not be allowed to deceive the nations for a thousand years. Those who refuse to worship the beast or his image or receive the mark of the beast will reign with Christ for a thousand years. All those who are part of the first resurrection will reign with Christ for a thousand years. Finally, when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released and immediately attempt to turn the world against Christ. His rebellion will be short-lived quickly ending by being cast into the lake of fire. Six times John specifically uses the word a thousand and each time he carefully describes what will happened during this time period. For the first time since the Garden of Eden, the world will know and experience a paradise like existence.
John’s not the only one whom God showed Christ’s earthly reign will be for a long period of time. There are numerous Old Testament passages that reveal this as well. Respected Bible scholar J. Dwight Pentecost wrote, A larger body of prophetic Scripture is devoted to the subject of the millennium, developing its character and conditions than any other one subject. Daniel says Jesus will personally and visibly reign over the affairs of Earth (Dan. 7:14). Isaiah says during this time No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed… For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people (Isaiah 65:20,22). Isaiah doesn’t say the rule of Christ will be a thousand years. Instead, he says people will no longer be considered old at the age of one-hundred! Their lives will be like the lifetime of a tree! There will still be sin and death, but it will be greatly minimized.
II. Who will populate the Millennium?
A. Jewish & Gentile believers. But the Lord will have mercy on the descendants of Jacob. He will choose Israel as his special people once again. He will bring them back to settle once again in their own land. And people from many different nations will come and join them there and unite with the people of Israel (Isaiah 14:1-2, NLT). Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34, NAS).
B. Resurrected saints of all ages. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The Church age (NT) saints as well as saints of all ages (OT & Triublation) will reign with Christ. These are part of what the Bible calls the “first resurrection.” Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). God’s math is different than ours. The Bible says believers die once and are born twice (i.e., physical and spiritual), whereas nonbelievers are born once (physical) and die twice (spiritual and eternal).
III. What will the Millennium be like? (8 Characteristics)
A. God’s curse on Earth will be partially reversed. The whole Earth will be transformed, returning to a Garden of Eden like state. There will still be sin, but its effects will be partially reversed. All those who rebelled against God will be gone. Satan will be bound preventing him from spreading his lies and rebellion. For the first time mankind will experience universal peace, justice and righteousness. Many places in the OT describe what this will look like. There will be major changes in the Earth’s topography, weather patterns, animal and plant life. Christ’s return will usher in sweeping reforms restoring the Earth to an amazing utopia. Zechariah says when Christ’s feet touch the Mt of Olives, it will split in two forming a great valley with living water flowing out of Jerusalem toward the desert area of the Dead Sea (Zech. 14:4,8). Speaking of this same area Isaiah says, The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah (desert plain, the area of the Dead Sea) will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely (Isaiah 35:1-2). There’s a reason it called the Dead Sea. The water is so thick with salt nothing can live in it. The only life it has in it are tourists who like to float in its mineral rich waters. It’s really an amazing experience. I’ve never been able to float in water. I sink to the bottom like a lead weight. But not in the Dead Sea! I couldn’t sink no matter how hard I tried. The Bible says the during the Millennium the Dead Sea will come to life! Today the whole area is little more than a brown parched desert. During the millennium though, Isaiah says this parched desert will flow with water teaming with life and the land will flourish with an abundance of plant life and flowers.
B. Animals will live in harmony with people and each other. P.T. Barnum, the famous circus showman loved to show visiting preachers his exhibit he called “The Happy Family,” in which lions, tigers and panthers squatted around a lamb without any aggression. When Barnum was asked by the visiting preachers if the group ever had any trouble, he would say: Apart from replacing the lamb now and then, they get along very well together.
The Bible says one day, when Christ returns, our world will be a safe place to live for little lambs as well as little children. Isaiah writes: And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. . . the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain (Isaiah 11:6,7-9).
C. Christ will rule the world personally and physically. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. “And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever (Ezekiel 37:27-28). The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you will fear disaster no more. . . The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior (Zephaniah 3:15,17). The whole world will know and see Christ in His Earthly rule. He will dwell with His people in Israel. The nations will know that He is Lord, the King of Israel forever. Neither Israel nor the world will live in fear of disaster. This will literally be the fulfillment of a prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray and billions since have prayed for the past two millennia: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10).
D. Jerusalem will be the center of the world. Today if you go to Jerusalem there is a lot of spiritual as well as political confusion. During the Millennium there will be zero confusion. And many peoples 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 (Isaiah 2:3). Isaiah says Jerusalem will be the capital of the millennial kingdom. He says, as well, the whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of God. They will know and see Him personally. There will be no atheists or agnostics. Nor will there be any Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians. Everyone will personally know Christ as both King and Savior. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance (Isaiah 45:23). Jerusalem will be the center of both government and worship. Zechariah says the city of Jerusalem will be literally exalted – lifted in elevation (Zech. 14:10). There will be a Temple there in which sacrifices are made memorializing Christ’s substitutional death on the cross much like we have communion today. Jerusalem, the scene of so much war and bloodshed, persecution and rejection will never need to live in fear for her safety (Isa. 26:1-4).
E. Economic prosperity will be universal. There will be no need for government stimulus checks or welfare programs or relief agencies. The world will experience unparalleled prosperity. For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew (Zechariah 8:12, NLT). The time will come,” says the Lord, “when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested. Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine! (Amos 9:13).
F. Peace will be universal. For the first time there will be real and lasting peace around the world. He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth (Zachariah 9:10). Where there is unrest, it will be dealt with quickly and thoroughly. 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 (Isaiah 2:4). In 1945 The international governmental organization known as the United Nations was formed and eventually headquartered in New York City. The UN’s ideal goal was essentially to fulfill God’s prophecy through Isaiah by converting implements of war into implements of peace. To signify this noble aim, Soviet artist Yevgeny Vuchetich donated to the UN a sculpted 9’ figure of a man using a hammer to beat a sword into a plow. The world desires universal peace. However, apart from Christ, universal peace will never happen. The UN’s own dismal track record painfully reveals this. Only Christ can bring true peace to our hearts and to the world.
G. Sin will be judged with perfect justice and righteousness. In the beginning the Millennium will be populated with only believers who survived the Tribulation. They will still be just as human as we are with fallen natures capable of sinning. Sin during the Millennium however will be judged with perfect justice through the Messiah. Isaiah writes, But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked (Isaiah 11:4). There will no longer be injustice. Court appeals will no longer be necessary. This does not mean there will no longer be grace or forgiveness. Jesus is not going to change. The Bible says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). For the resurrected saints, sin will no longer be a concern. The Bible says when we trust Christ, we are free from the penalty of sin because Christ took that penalty for us. It also says through Christ’s strength in us we are free from the power of sin. If you are a believer, you have the power of Christ in you to say “No” to the things you were once addicted. As believers in Christ we are free from sin’s penalty and power. And one day we will be free from sin’s presence. That will be true of you during the Millennium.
H. People will live longer healthier lives. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred will be thought accursed (Isaiah 65:20). People will not be considered old when they are one hundred! In fact, if someone dies at a hundred they’ll be considered young. Just like in the days of the OT when people lived to be seven or eight hundred years old, so it will be during the Millennium. Methuselah in the OT lived to be 969 years old! (Gen. 5:27). Some believe when God flooded the world, it brought severe change to nature causing people to live a fraction of the years they lived before the flood. Christ is going to change all of that during the Millennium.
But longevity also means no more sickness or deformity like we see in the world today. People will have better diets. The food will be more nutritious. Sadly, there will probably be no more Burger Kings or McDonalds! Fast foods will have to go! When someone gets sick, they will have the best healthcare plan the world will have ever known – Jesus! Just as Jesus healed people in days of His earthly ministry and heals people even today, He will heal people during the Millennium as well (Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1-2; Ezek. 34:16). Because the Earth will be dramatically changed, sickness and deformity will be drastically reduced, and there will be no more wars people will live for hundreds and hundreds of years. In fact, some believe many will live to be a thousand!
What I’ve shared with you this morning only skims the surface about the Millennium. I’d planned to do two messages on the Millennium. But I realized two wasn’t enough to answer some vital questions we have not even touched on. Questions like: Why is the Millennium important to God? Why is Satan bound for a thousand years and then released? Why is the Millennium literal and not figurative?
As I began this message, I asked the Lord to use this important topic to strengthen our faith in Him and His certain promises. God does not tell us anything in His Word that is a waste of our time. He wants you to know about the Millennium and what He says about the future. Some may not be convinced and think: “This is all fine an interesting, but it hardly seems relevant.” Or as one person put it: “I can’t live in the sweet by-and-by. I’ve got to live in the nasty here-and-now.” I’m convinced God doesn’t fill our minds daydreams in order to escape the hard realities of this world. He does just the opposite. The reason God left us here and didn’t take us straight to Heaven the moment we turned from our sin and trusted Christ is because He has called us to be light in a dark world. God left you here so that people without hope would see your life and say, “Wow! I want what you have!” God left us here because we have a Divine Mandate to fulfill – to take the message of God’s forgiveness and peace and hope through His Son Jesus Christ to the world.