As we rapidly approach the end of this age, events such as the Rapture and the horrors of Tribulation as well as individuals such as the Antichrist capture our focus. For those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus by accepting the free gift of salvation, not only do we have the Blessed Hope (the Rapture) to look forward to, but we (along with those who accept Jesus as their savior during the Tribulation period) can look with great joy to the rapidly approaching time period known as the Millennial Reign of Christ.
The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy describes this period as:
“The word millennium comes from the Latin word mille, meaning one thousand, and annum, meaning year. The Greek work “chilias”, also meaning one thousand, appears six times in Revelation 20, defining the duration of Christ’s kingdom before the destruction of the old heaven and old earth. The millennium therefore refers to 1000 years of Christ’s future reign on earth, which will immediately precede eternity [and starting at the second coming Christ which will bring to an end Tribulation]. During the millennium, Christ will reign in time and space. It is his time of manifestation and his time of revelation. Christ, in
all of His glory, will institute His reign of righteousness and peace. During the millennium, the unveiled glory of Christ will shine forth in all of its fullness. ”
"There are a couple of things that I need to say to you before we look at the text itself because, of course, this has been a theological battleground (this matter of the Kingdom), for years. And I want to help you to get an understanding of why we believe and teach what we do.
First of all, let me say that foundational to any understanding of the Kingdom is capturing the chronological order of the book of Revelation. The passage fits into the chronology of the book. If you go into chapter 19 and verse 11, you have the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ comes. At the end of chapter 19 (that is described in great detail), He arrives, in verse
16, as King of Kings and Lord
of Lords. There is an immense battle that ensues. He is the conqueror and the victor. The holocaust of that battle is described at the end of chapter 19 (as the carnage lays all over the place and is devoured by birds). And then we read about the beast and the false prophet, in verse 20, being thrown into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone; and all the rest were killed with a sword which came from the mouth of the Lord who returned. All the birds were filled with their flesh. So, there you have the devastating judgment at the return of Jesus Christ.
Over in chapter 21, and verse 1, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away." Here you have the eternal state at the end of the Kingdom. So, you have the Lord Jesus Christ returning in chapter 19; you have the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in chapter
21; and in the middle, you have chapter
20. Chapter 20 describes the thousand-year Kingdom.
The chronology is very simple. You have a period of time called the Tribulation: it started in Revelation 6; it ended in Revelation 19. It ends with the return of Christ and His total judgment of the ungodly; after that judgment, chapter 20, He sets up His Kingdom. At the end of His Kingdom, He creates the new heavens and the new earth.
That is the simple, clear chronology of the book of Revelation. And [it] certainly is an interpretive key. Whatever you're going to do with this Kingdom, you have to deal with the chronology that is here in the book of Revelation. And clearly, the Kingdom is placed between the Great Tribulation, the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. It fits right in between those events.
Having said that this must be understood in terms of its chronology, I want to go outside the chronology and mention also that the details of the Kingdom are only given a summary fashion here in chapter 20. In fact, it's a very limited presentation. It gives
us just some general perspectives here and does not exhaust, by any means, all that could be said about the character or the nature of that thousand years. And yet, there is instruction about the Kingdom itself throughout the Bible. In fact, if we were to just study all of the places in the Scriptures that deal with the Kingdom, we would be at it for months and months. It is scattered throughout the Old Testament and it is scattered throughout the New Testament."
Who’s in the millennium
The millennial kingdom Christ establishes will be indwelt by both glorified and unglorified believers. Those who are glorified are the previously Raptured (before Tribulation) “Bride of Christ” and will know life in both heaven and earth, and those who remain unglorified are those who accept Jesus during Tribulation and live to see the Second Coming. They will enter into the Millennial Reign as flesh and blood people and will live only on earth. The unglorified believers will still eat meals, plant crops, cook, work, and depend on public services. The glorified and unglorified will mingle together. Christ, after He was glorified, still mingled with
His disciples (Luke 24:33-43), and Abraham and Sarah dined with angels (Genesis 18:1-10).
Believers who survive the Tribulation will be brought into the kingdom in their earthly bodies. There will be no change for them. They are the ones who will bear children in Christ's earthly kingdom (Isaiah 11:8; 65:20). And those children will bear the offspring who rebel against Christ at the end of the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:7-9).
In our glorified bodies, we--like angels--will be able to go wherever we want to. Our bodies will be fit for both earth and heaven. We will be able to ascend to or descend (Revelation 21:2).
The Glorified Body
Let’s pause for a moment and examine what our glorified bodies will be like. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reveals that the glorified body will be "imperishable" and "immortal." It will be raised in "glory and power" and will be spirit controlled, rather than controlled by the flesh (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 52-54). In Philippians 3:21 Paul
further states that the glorified bodies which will be given to believers will be like the body that Jesus had after His resurrection.
Think about that for a moment. Jesus had a tangible body that could be touched and recognized (Luke 24:41-43 and John 20:27-28). It was body very similar to the bodies we have now, and yet it was also very different. It could pass through a wall into a locked room (John 20:26), and it could move about from one place to another instantly (Luke
Our resurrected glorified bodies, like Christ's, will no longer be part of the physical universe and will thus be changeless and timeless, able to be seen, then vanish, and to pass through closed doors and walls. "Jesus himself stood in the midst of them... but they were terrified... [thinking] they had seen a spirit... Handle me, and see," said Christ, "for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have" (Luke 24:36-43).
Our bodies will no longer be debilitated by sin. The new bodies we have will be fit for both heaven and earth. When Jesus rose from the grave, He ate, walked, and talked with His disciples (Luke 24:33-43). Later on He ascended
into heaven (Acts 1:9) to sit down at the right hand of God's throne (Hebrews 10:12). That we will have bodies fit for earth and heaven helps prove that Christ's future kingdom on earth will be literal and visible. Why would God bother restoring the earth in eternity (Revelation 21:1) if He weren't going to give us bodies that could live on it?
1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, "The dead in Christ shall rise first." When Christ calls us at the Rapture, the dead will rise and those of us who are alive will join them. But where do the spirits of dead Christians reside while we await the Rapture? When believers die, their spirits go to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). When the Rapture
occurs, they will receive new, glorified bodies. It won't matter if their old bodies are long gone--God will create their new bodies out of nothing.
When a Christian dies, his spirit goes to heaven and his body stays here on earth. He doesn't need his body because God is a Spirit (John 4:24), and the believer's spirit can communicate with God.
When you talk on the phone, your body isn't really involved; it's your spirit that does the communicating. The spirit is your real self, and it simply resides in a physical body. Nevertheless the Lord promises this in 1 Corinthians 15:52: "In the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." The new bodies that rise from the grave will be joined with their spirits at the Rapture, and those of us
who are alive at the Rapture will be changed as we ascend. Those who became believers before the Tribulation--whether dead or alive--will be taken up in the Rapture. They will be given glorified bodies, and take part in the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9)
One question that isn't dealt with in the Rapture is, when will those saints who die during Tribulation be resurrected? They will be resurrected at the end of Tribulation. Daniel 12:1-2 confirms that there will be a great resurrection after the Tribulation: "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people [Israel], and there shall be a time of trouble ... and at that time thy
people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life."
What it will be like
This thousand-year Kingdom is the subject of the twentieth chapter of Revelation. It is called by many names in Scripture. Just in the New Testament alone there are verses that call it “the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28); “the times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19); “the times of restitution” (Acts 3:21); and “the dispensation of the fullness of times” (Ephesians
1:10). And there are many more Scriptures on the subject of the Kingdom Age. In fact, there are more Scriptures on this subject, than [on] almost all other subjects that the Bible deals with.
Eden will be restored. It will be like the Garden of Eden again; paradise will be regained. This renovated earth then will become the place where Jesus rules. He will sit on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, that great city, from which He will rule the world. And, as we were saying to you this morning, He will be truly the God of that age; and the whole world in all of its economics, and all of its labor, and all of its social life, and all of its morality, and all of its understanding and learning and opinions and thoughts and ideas and concepts, will reflect the mind of Christ. It will be the opposite of a world like ours today, which has as the god of this age,
Satan, and everything in it reflecting him. It is this very utopia, this Golden Age, that men have longed for. From the remotest point of antiquity, men have dreamed of a Golden Age; they have longed for a utopia. They have written about it. They have desired an age of righteousness, and an age of peace, and an age when oppression would cease and injustice would be gone, and war would end.
This will be a time of both political and spiritual rule. Politically, it will be unveiled (Daniel 2:35) authoritative (Isaiah 11:4) and characterized by righteousness and justice, with assurances for the poor (Isaiah 11:3-5) and admonition and judgment for the violators of Christ’s rule (Psalm
The literal earthly reign of Christ will also have spiritual characteristics. First and foremost, it will be a reign of righteousness in which Christ will be the King, reigning in absolute righteousness (Isaiah 32:1). It will also be a time when the fullness of Christ and the holiness of God will be manifested (Isaiah 11:2-5) and (Zechariah 14:20-21). Everything
from work to worship will be holy. Sin will be punished (Psalm
72:1-4, Zechariah 14:16-21) in an open, just way.
Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost has complied the following list of what the thousand-year reign of Christ will be like:
The removal of the curse
The original curse places upon creation (Genesis 3:17-19) will be removed, so that there will be abundant productivity on earth. Animal creation will be changed so as to lose its venom and ferocity. (Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:9, 65:25)
The ministry of the King as a healer will be seen throughout the age, so sickness and even death, except as a penal measure in dealing with overt sin, will be removed. (Isaiah 33:24, Jeremiah 30:17, Ezekiel 34:16)
The suggestion seems to be that there will not be the tragedies of feeble-mindedness nor of dwarfed bodies in that day (Isaiah 65:20). Longevity will be restored.
Reproduction by living people
The living saints who go into the millennium in their natural bodies will beget children throughout the age. The earth’s population will soar. These born in the age will not be born without a sin nature, so salvation will be required. (Jeremiah 30:20, 31:29, Ezekiel 47:22, Zechariah 10:8)
The period will not be characterized by idleness, but there will be a perfect economic system, in which the needs of men are abundantly provided for by the labor in that system, under the guidance of the King. There will be a fully developed industrialized society, providing for the needs of the King’s subjects. (Isaiah 62:8-9, 65:21-23, Jeremiah 31:5, Ezekiel 48:18-19) Agriculture as well as manufacturing will provide employment.
“Some who study the riches of the earth estimate the combined value of the gold, silver, grain, oil, timber, fish, fruit, minerals, etc. at one decillion dollars! This figure of course, was beyond my comprehension, but slowly I repeated. ‘million, billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, septillion, octillion, novillion, decillion’! Taking pen to paper, I divided the for billion of earth’s population into this figure, and
saw that everyone would be a billionaire, if he shared such wealth! The psalmist said: ‘The earth is full of thy riches!’ (Psalms 104:24) (Money Master of the World, Logos Press, 1976, p.137)
Increase of light
There will be an increase in solar an lunar light in the age. This increased light probably is a major cause in the increased productivity of the earth.(Isaiah 4:5, 30:26, 60:19-20, Zechariah 2:5)
The language barrios will be removed so that there can be free social interchange. (Zephaniah 3:9)
Dr. H.L. Willmington
“As beautiful as the Millennium is, it will not be Heaven. Sin will still be possible during the thousand years (Isaiah 11:4, 65:20). Certain families and certain nations will refuse to go up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. (Zechariah 14:17-19) Such deeds will be all the more inexcusable because the tempter will be absent and because the revelations of the Lord will be greater. Those who have been thus smitten will serve as examples to all those who would be tempted to imitate them. (Isaiah
66:24) (The Return of Christ, Moody Press, 1955, pp.428, 429)
David Rules as King
The Lord Jesus will of course be King supreme, but there are passages which suggest that he will graciously choose to rule through a vice-regent, and that vice-regent will be David. Note the following scripture:
Jeremiah 30:9 Instead, they will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
Jeremiah wrote these words some 400 years after the death of David, so he could not have been referring to his earthly reign here.
Ezekiel 34:23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. (See also Ezekiel 37:24)
Hosea 3:5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.
David will once again sit upon the throne of Israel. He will thus be aided in his rule by:
For the first time Israel will possess all the land promised to Abraham in Genesis (Genesis 15:18-21). A river will flow east to west from the Mount of Olives into both the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
Zechariah 14:4, 14:8, 14:10 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west. Half the mountain will move toward the north and half toward the south.
On that day life-giving waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half toward the Dead Sea and half toward the Mediterranean, flowing continuously in both summer and winter.
All the land from Geba, north of Judah, to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become one vast plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up in its original place and will be inhabited all the way from the Benjamin Gate over to the site of the old gate, then to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses.
Jerusalem will become the worship center of the world.
Micha 4:1 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
The city will be named “Jehovah-Shammah” meaning “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35), and “Jehovah Isidkenu” meaning “the Lord our righteousness”. (Jeremiah 23:6, 33:16) These will be the final names for God’s beloved city.
The Bible tells us that there will animal sacrifices in the millennial temple Isaiah 56:6-7, 60:7, Jeremiah 33:10, Zechariah 14:16-21. This will not be done for atonement of sin, but rather done in remembrance of what Jesus did for us. Much in the same way that we today partake in Communion, animal sacrifice will be performed in the temple during the Millennial Reign.
The passage that is the most extensive, giving the greatest detail, is Ezekiel 43:18-46. It should be noted that this is part of a greater passage dealing with the millennial kingdom, a passage that begins with Ezekiel 40. In Ezekiel 40, the Lord begins to give details of the temple that will exist during the
millennial kingdom, a temple that dwarfs all other temples previously built, even Herod’s temple that was quite large in size, which existed during the earthly ministry of Christ.
After the Lord finished giving details concerning the size and appearance of the temple and the altar, the Lord then begins to give detailed instruction as to the animal sacrifices that will be offered (Ezekiel
43:18-27). In chapter 44, the Lord gives instructions as to who will be offering sacrifices to Him. The Lord states that all of the Levites will not be offering blood and fat to Him due to previous sin; it will be those from the lineage of Zadok (verse 15). Chapters 45 and 46 continue
to mention that animal sacrifices will be made.
The primary objection made to the idea of animal sacrifices returning during the millennial kingdom is that Christ has come and offered a perfect sacrifice for sin, and there is therefore no need to sacrifice animals for sin. However, it must be remembered that animal sacrifice never removed the sin that spiritually separated a person from the Lord.
Hebrews 10:1-4 says, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed,
would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (NASB).
It is incorrect to think that animal sacrifices took away sins in the Old Testament, and it is incorrect to think they will do so in the millennial kingdom. Animal
sacrifices served as object lessons for the sinner, that sin was and is a horrible offense against God, and that the result of sin is death. Romans 3:20 says, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Most scholars agree that the purpose of animal sacrifice during the millennial kingdom is memorial in nature. As the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of the death of Christ to the Church today, animal sacrifices will be a reminder during the millennial kingdom. To those born during the millennial kingdom, animal sacrifices will again be an object lesson. During that future time, righteousness and holiness will prevail, but those with earthly bodies will still have a sin nature, and there will be a need to teach about how offensive sin is to a holy and righteous God. Animal sacrifices will serve that purpose, "But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year" (Hebrews
As Christ’s 1000 year reign comes to an end, Satan will be loosed.
Revelation 20:7-9 7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Dr. J Vernon McGee writes:
“When the late Dr. Chafer (founder of Dallas Theological Seminary) was once asked why God loosed satan after he once had him bound, he replied, ‘If you tell me why God lets him loose in the first place, I tell you why God lets him loose a second time’. Apparently satan is released at the end of the Millennium to reveal that the ideal conditions of the kingdom, under the personal reign of Christ, do not change the human heart. This reveals the enormity of the enmity of man against God. Scripture is accurate when it describes the heart as ‘desperately wicked’ and incurably so. Man is totally depraved. The loosing of Satan at the end of the 1000
years proves it” (Reveling Through Revelation,
This insane and immoral insurrection is doomed to utter and complete failure. The Apostle John records this final battle:
Revelation 20:9-10 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Because the rebellion is labeled “Gog and Magog” some confuse it with the battle of Gog and Magog spoken of in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This of course is not the case and is not possible for the conflicts described are not parallel as to time, place, or participants. Only the name is the same. (see our article on Gog & Magog for more information on the
battle spoke of in Ezekiel 38 & 39)
After this final rebellion, Satan will be cast into Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10) and will then come to the Great White Thrown Judgment with all other unsaved heathens and then the new heavens and earth.
All of God's redemptive purpose since the fall of man culminate in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ—as it has been called—paradise regained. This glorious paradise regained, this Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, this one-thousand year millennial reign of the Savior over the earth, is the fulfillment and the climax of all redemptive promise and the realization of the hope of all the saints of all the ages. Because, at that particular time, God will bring salvation and righteousness and peace to the very center of the universe.
It is at that time that Jesus Christ will reign fully as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all creation. This thousand-year Kingdom is the end of human history, the end of the present universe as we know it. And after the thousand-year Kingdom is completed, everything as we know it now in the created order will be completely destroyed (because it has all been tainted by sin).
Even though Christ is reigning, He is reigning over a renewed and regenerated and restored earth and universe, but not a recreated one. And so, it still bears the marks of sin. And after the thousand years is over, the Lord will destroy completely the universe and create a new heaven and a new earth in eternal perfection, unstained by sin. And that will become the everlasting kingdom.
Reference Holy Bible
Dr. H. L. Wilmington: The King is Coming (Revised And Expanded)
Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson: The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy
John MacArthur: Grace to You
Grant Jeffrey: Bible Prophecy Revealed
David Jeremiah: Turning Point
Hal Lindsey: The Hal Lindsey Report
J. Dwight Pentecost: Theologian