More on the Millennium

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CHRIST’S REIGN – And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4b-6)

The Purpose of the Millennium – A literal post tribulation period of one thousand years (postmillennialism), begs at least one question: Why is there a thousand-year interlude between the return of Christ and the eternal state? The primary reason given is so that the Old Testament prophecies of a glorious Messianic kingdom on earth can be fulfilled. But perhaps even more may be involved. One suggestion is, that absent God’s grace, sin’s incurable nature is demonstrated even in paradise restored. This alone should argue for
the need of a separate place (Hell) for those who have rejected the cure (the cross).

Sin has found expression in individuals throughout the various dispensations (paradise, law and prophets, age of grace, age of wrath). Many blame society for individual failure. But society is nothing more than individuals living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, etc. Thus, do individuals fail because of society, or does society fail because of individuals?

Others argue that the environment we live in compels people to do things, which in a just and moral society, they would never voluntarily choose. Thus, an ideal environment depends upon a moral society, and a moral society depends upon moral individuals. Or like society, is it the other way around?

In the Millennium, the rule of Jesus will provide a truly just and moral society as well as an ideal environment. The question is – will individual human beings choose to be good under these ideal conditions?(1) The Book of Revelation says that ultimately some will not.

For many centuries, man has dreamed of a golden age, a utopia in which humans will be free from war, sickness, and even death. Men have tried to achieve this goal on their own and have failed. It is only when Jesus Christ reigns on David’s throne that the kingdom will come, and the earth be delivered from the oppression of Satan and sin.(2) Nevertheless, in the end, the Millennium will conclusively demonstrate that mankind cannot be changed, even under a perfect rule in a perfect environment. For, at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be able to muster a huge army to rebel against Christ! If people are not changed by the grace of God, nothing else can or will change them.(3)

The Inhabitants of the Millennium – The Tribulation saints who gave their lives (beheaded) “because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God” are bodily resurrected to reign with Christ. From the description in Daniel 12:1–3, it appears that the Old Testament saints are also raised. At this point, then, saved people from all ages have been raised. This is known as the first resurrection. It extends from the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13) with those already dead in Christ, to the resurrection of the Tribulation saints described in Revelation 20:4. All who are raised in the first resurrection are saved people. They will not experience the second death, which is Hell (See John 5:24–29), for it “has no power over them.” The saved are all raised (albeit at separate times – the Rapture and after the Great Tribulation) in the first resurrection.(4) The lost are raised at the second resurrection. Some have argued that the first resurrection is spiritual (e.g., being born again spiritually), to maintain that there is one general resurrection of the dead (not two), both the saved and the lost, that occurs at the same time.(5)

Apparently, those who are saved during the Tribulation and live through to its conclusion (assumes a pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation rapture) do not have resurrection bodies because they have not died, nor were they Raptured. They are still mortal, with bodies of flesh and blood (corruptible). The Raptured Church and the resurrected saints, on the other hand, have glorified bodies (incorruptible).(6) Because of the earth’s perfect conditions, these people (those still flesh and blood) will nevertheless live long lives (Isaiah 65:17–25, especially verse 20). They will marry and have children (still born with a sin nature ).(7) Some of these descendants will only outwardly conform to our Lord’s righteous rule. But not all of them will be truly born again as the Millennium progresses. This explains why Satan will be able to gather a great army of rebels at the close of the Kingdom Age.(8)

The resurrected saints will reign with Christ as kings and priests over the saints that did not die during the Tribulation and their offspring, and will serve Him in various capacities during the Millennium. Our faithfulness to Him today will determine the extent of our responsibilities during the Kingdom age (Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:11–27).(9)

Obviously, there is a lot of uncertainty over the details that we will only fully comprehend once we get there.

Up Next – The End of the Millennium.

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References

  1. Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 1086–1087). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 620). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 853). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 852). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1913). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 853). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 853). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 620). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 853). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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