What Can We Expect During the Millennium, Part 4?
Previously, in Part 3, we presented reasons why there must be a Millennial Kingdom during which Jesus Himself will physically reign over this earth. We concluded that the Millennial Kingdom will be the vehicle through which fulfillment of a number of covenants from the Old Testament will find ultimate fulfillment. We also noted that Jesus will physically rule over this earth following His Second Coming to the earth as proof that He owns the earth and all of Creation.
Certainly, He rules now as He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven. However, when He came to this earth the first time, with the intent of becoming physical Ruler over Israel and from there, expanding His Kingdom to the ends of the earth. Though He was thwarted by human beings, resulting in His crucifixion (with salvation being made possible), God’s purposes were not thwarted. Jesus will return to fulfill the predetermined will of the Godhead and He will rule over the entire earth physically. This will occur when He returns to this earth at some point in the future, when He brings to a close the coming Tribulation. Once again, we note the facts of Zechariah 10:9-10.
9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion!
Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!
Look! Your king is coming to you:
he is legitimate and victorious,
humble and riding on a donkey—
on a young donkey, the foal of a female donkey.
10 I will remove the chariot from Ephraim
and the warhorse from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be removed.
Then he will announce peace to the nations.
His dominion will be from sea to sea
and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
Clearly, from the above verses we can see the first part (v. 9), literally occurred toward the very end of Jesus’ life (cf. Matthew 21). We can rightly assume that the promises of verse 10 will also occur at some point in the future in the same literal and physical fashion.
By the way, please notice there is no stated “gap” between verses 9 and 10 yet in reality, on our human timeline, there has so far been a gap of over 2,000 years between verse 9 and verse 10. We do not know how much longer things will progress until our Lord returns. But reading these two verses together, it is very likely that the prophets of old and the rabbinic sages as well believed that Messiah would arrive according to the contents of verse 9 and would immediately take charge to fulfill the promises of verse 10. This concurrent unfolding did not occur and we are now in an unknown length of time between the first and the second advent. Only God knows when this age will end with the physical return of Jesus and Zechariah 10:10 will then be fulfilled (Matthew 24:36; 25:13; Acts 1:7).
In this installment, we want to learn more about the actual character of the coming Millennial Kingdom. As a reminder, we believe the Bible teaches that this current age is winding down and will ultimately find its climax in the physical return of Jesus, God the Son. He will return at the end of the coming Tribulation period, bringing it to a close, which is slated to last for seven years. Jesus Himself says that this coming period will be the worst time this earth will have ever experienced.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (Matthew 24:21; KJV)
Think about Jesus’ words. He is saying that even taking into account the Great Flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of twin cities of the plain of Lot’s day, the coming Tribulation period will exceed the terror of those previous, historical days. That is saying a great deal and we would do well to pay attention to His words.
We also believe following the coming Tribulation – the final “week” of seven years of the 490 years mentioned in Daniel 9:24-27 – will be immediately followed by Christ’s physical return and the setting up of His Kingdom. That Kingdom will last for 1,000 years after which time, according to Scripture, Jesus will destroy this earth and the heavens surrounding it, replacing them with a brand new heaven and earth (cf. Revelation 21:1).
So what will this coming period of 1,000 years be like? What will the experience be of those living during this time? Recall that people who survive the Tribulation without dying and who have salvation will go into the Millennium as human beings just like you and me now. The sin nature will still exist within them as it exists in us. The one huge difference is that Satan will be bound and remanded to the Pit, where he will remain for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom (cf. Revelation 20:1-3).
Because Satan will be bound and tossed into the Pit for 1,000 years, it will be impossible for him to personally tempt anyone on earth. This of course is proof that Satan is not only not omniscient, but also not omnipresent. He can be only in one place at one time. Though he is certainly far more powerful than human beings, he is very limited in what he can accomplish as far as God is concerned.
However, in spite of the fact that Satan is personally bound and unable to personally attempt to thwart God either directly or indirectly (by working through human beings), people during the Millennium will still sin and they will sin because they have the sin nature. Adam and Eve both sinned even before the sin nature came into existence within them due to their sin. It would appear that creatures with the ability to exercise free will have an innate desire to turn against God and His ways. Is this why Paul calls the angels who never rebelled the “elect angels of God” in 1 Timothy 5:21? Is it possible they were created to never fall but always remain true to God?
As mentioned before, not only will saved individuals who survive the Tribulation without dying enter into the Millennial Kingdom, but additional individuals will be born during this period. Those individuals born during the Millennial Kingdom will still need to receive salvation and the only way that will be accomplished is the exact same way it is accomplished now: through faith in Jesus and His redemptive work (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 10:9-11).
Jesus will rule here on earth and Christians living now who have died by that point will be with Him (with many reigning with Him in some sense). Those Christians who have died will not have the sin nature nor will they be capable of ever sinning again. However, in spite of His Kingship and perfectly just rule over all the earth, people will rebel and sin. This is exactly why the Bible tells us that He will rule with a rod of iron (cf. Revelation 2:27). The obvious meaning is that Jesus will not let His guard down and will constantly work to keep things in check because of the sin nature that will continue to exist. This is also why at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, when Satan is released from the Pit, many will be deceived into joining Satan in mounting a full rebellion against God.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9)
Consider the fact that Satan will be bound and literally out of harm’s way, unable to do any damage for 1,000 years. At the end of that period, God releases Satan, allowing him to gather people to his side to mount a final attack on God. As we learn in the last portion of verse 9, God deals with it quickly and once for all, sending fire down from heaven to devour all who participate in that rebellion. Verse 10 of this same chapter tells us of Satan’s final and permanent place of confinement, which is the Lake of Fire and Brimstone. The Antichrist and False Prophet will already be there and together, they “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (v. 10b).
Knowing this then, we know that the Millennium will not be perfect, though because of the perfect rule of Jesus, things will be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Each decision He makes will be the perfect decision for that particular situation. Because people will still have a sin nature, some will find themselves in disagreement with His decisions. They will not necessarily be able to see things from God’s perspective, which will give rise to malcontents and rebels. Many of these folks may well toe the line all the way until to end of the Millennium when Satan gives them the needed push to rebel. Then their inner attitude will become very clear as it works its way to the surface.
Remarkably, the Millennial Kingdom ruled personally and physically by Jesus, will be so much better than anything this life currently has to offer. Jesus will rule as Divine Monarch and His rule will stretch over the entire earth. Only those things that bring God glory will come to fruition. Think of it. There will be no pornography, no strip clubs, no pandering to illicit and sexual ideas, and no violence really of any kind between people or nations. Jobs and careers will not be the type that take advantage of the poor or allow people to become exceedingly wealthy at the expense of employees or the average person. In essence, fairness will rule the day.
Next time, we’ll talk more specifically about what it will be like for the average person to live in a world justly ruled by Jesus.
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