The Millennial Reign of Christ
The Millennium and the Millennial Reign of Christ are referenced in Scripture more than 2000 times, yet this subject is seldom addressed in churches today. This article will present a biblical overview of this important subject. The goal is to inform and encourage.
Many view Revelation 20 as the principle (if not the sole) reference to the Millennium in the Bible. However, there are more references to the Millennium in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. Scholars note that there are more than 1800 references to the Millennium in the Old Testament and more than 300 in the New Testament. 85% of the books in the New Testament reference the Millennium. The Millennium and Millennial Reign of Christ are subjects that concern the future of the earth and believers in Christ. This article seeks to provide an informative, encouraging biblical overview of this prominent Bible subject.
Familiar references: Many do not know that familiar Scripture passages reference the Millennial Kingdom.
- Jesus referenced the Millennium in the Lord’s Prayer when He stated: “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
- The prophet Isaiah referenced the Millennium in his Messianic prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.” (Isaiah 9:6-9)
- In his vision of future kingdoms, the prophet Daniel foresees the Millennial Kingdom and writes: “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.” (Daniel 2:1-44)
THREE MILLENNIAL VIEWS
References to the Millennial Kingdom flow through the Old and New Testaments. Presented below is a profile of various prominent Millennial views, followed by a sampling of Millennial Kingdom references arranged in categories.
- Amillennialism: There view holds that there will be no Millennial Reign of Christ. A general summary of the amillennial view is that the Kingdom began with Jesus’ first coming (his birth) and will continue until His Second Coming (the glorious appearing at the end of the tribulation period). This view holds that there will not be a 1000-year Millennial Kingdom on earth, and favors an allegorical system of interpretation to interpret prophetic events. For example, the material in the Olivet Discourse and the greater part of the book of Revelation is thought to point, symbolically, to past historical events. This position does not anticipate a Rapture but does expect the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation. This position holds that conditions in this world will continue to deteriorate up until the second coming of Christ. This view is usually traced back to Augustine (354-430 AD).
- Post-millennialism: This view holds that there is a Millennium, Jesus will return at the end of the Millennium, and conditions on earth will improve until the coming of Christ. This minor view originated in England and was advanced by Unitarian minister Daniel Whitby (1638-1726). This position does not support a literal interpretation of the 1000-year Millennial Kingdom noted in Revelation 20 and suggests the Millennial Kingdom will last an unspecified but extended period. In his book, “The Millennium,” Loraine Boettner (a post-millennialist) states: “The millennium to which the post-millennialist looks forward is thus a golden age of spiritual prosperity during this present dispensation, that is, the Church Age.” This Millennial view does not suggest there will be a time on earth when every person will be a Christian, or that sin will be no more. But it does imply that evil in all its forms eventually will be reduced to negligible proportions, that Christian principles will be embraced and be the rule in culture, and that Christ will return to a truly Christianized world.” In general, this view holds that conditions on earth will continually improve and that we are currently experiencing the Millennial Kingdom.
- Pre-millennialism: This view holds that Jesus will return at the end of Daniel’s 70th week (the tribulation period) and reign for 1000 years. This 1000-year period is known as the Millennial Reign Of Christ. The primary subjects of this kingdom will be the surviving remnant of the world that come to faith during the tribulation. The pre-millennialists position does not fix the timing of the Rapture to a particular timetable but does place that momentous event before the 1000-year reign of Christ. It is my personal opinion that the majority of Bible Scholars today hold this view.
WHAT THE MILLENNIUM WILL BE LIKE (according to the Premillennial view)
Satan will no longer oppress the earth or God’s beloved
- “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).
The earth will be restored and renewed
- “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17-25).
- Jesus will reign as King (Isaiah 2:4; 42:1).
- The world will be at peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; 32:18).
- Jesus will serve as King and righteous judge: “He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).
- Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:1–3). All inhabitants will freely worship God (Isaiah 2:2-3).
The earth will be at peace
- “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Believers who survive the tribulation will inhabit the new earth. Joining them will be tribulation period martyrs and believers who are currently in heaven.
- Jesus will rule in love and with a “rod of iron” (Psalm 2:9 Revelation 2:27, 12:5, 19:15). Tribulation period believers will receive special honor (Matthew 25:23; Luke 19:16-19).
- Surviving believers from the tribulation period will live in renewed mortal bodies during Christ’s earthly reign (Zechariah 14:16-21; Revelation 20:7-10). Longevity will be the norm.
- Believers who are currently in heaven with Christ will reign with Him in this Kingdom (Daniel 7:18). “…For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
- These believers will possess the Kingdom. (Daniel 7:18-27)
- These believers will lead with Christ as their King. (Job 36:7)
- These believers will serve as judges, officers, and leaders. (Psalm 149; Isaiah 60:17)
- These believers will teach truth. (Psalm 37:29-31; Jeremiah 3:15)
- “…They shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)
Israel’s borders will expand
Note: This could happen as a result of the wars leading up to (or in the early days of) the tribulation.
- The Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10)
- In the days of Joshua and the kings, Israel did claim some of the lands God promised to Abraham. However, Israel has never possessed all of the lands God promised in Genesis 15:18–20 and Numbers 34:1-12. Consider God’s promises:
- On the same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, God promised: “To your descendants, I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…” (Genesis 15:18-21)
- The prophet Ezekiel reminded Israel: “Thus says the Lord God: These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance. “This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon (which is on the border of Hauran). Thus, the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side.” (Ezekiel 47:13-17)
- Through the prophet Ezekiel God further promises: “On the east side you shall mark out the border from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea. This is the east side. The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the south side, toward the South. “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the southern boundary until one comes to a point opposite Hamath. This is the west side. “Thus, you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.” (Ezekiel 47:18-21)
- Through Moses God promised: “If any of you are driven to the farthest parts…from there the LORD your God will gather you…Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you…” (Deut. 30:4-6)
There will be a new temple in Jerusalem
- “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16-21)
Covenants will be fulfilled
- As noted above (Genesis 15:18-21) God’s covenant regarding the land and future of Israel will be realized during the Millennial reign of Christ.
- God’s covenant with David centers on how his heir would sit on the throne and rule Israel (2 Sam. 7:16). Jesus is the fulfillment of this covenant (which accounts for the recording of his genealogy via both His step-father (Matthew 1:1–17) and His mother (Luke 3:23–38). The Jews acknowledged the covenant when they laid down palm branches and their cloaks as Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–17). However, they wrongly expected Jesus to be a military and political leader that would liberate Israel from the Romans. They did not understand that 2000 years ago Jesus was preparing to establish a New Covenant, not fulfill the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant will be satisfied via the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:4-6).
God’s covenant as profiled through Jeremiah and Ezekiel
- The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)
- The prophet Ezekiel provides additional details: “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:28)
Life on earth will be different
- Longevity: “No more shall an infant live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old…they shall build houses and…plant vineyards and eat their fruit…” (Isaiah 65:20-22)
- Docile animals: “‘…The wolf and the lamb shall feed together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox…They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ Says the LORD.” (Isaiah 65:34-35)
- Peaceful coexistence: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)
- No War: “…They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks…nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Mic. 4:3). Isaiah 2:4 is a similar passage. There the prophet notes that not only will there no longer be war, but there will be no weapons, nor will battle strategies be taught.
The geography and geology of the earth will be different
- “…I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing…the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)
- A great earthquake will divide Jerusalem into three parts (Revelation 16:18-19). The earthquake will occur when Jesus touches His foot on the Mount of Olives. Water will flow out from the city after the great earthquake. (Zech. 14:4-8). The millennial temple will stand over this river (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
- Jerusalem will be a prominent high point on Earth during the Millennium (Isaiah 2:2). The great earthquake at the Second Coming of Jesus will level mountains and make islands disappear (Revelation 16:20; Isaiah 40:4-5).
- There will be a new fountain of living water: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1). Zechariah 14:8 notes where the waters will flow: “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former (eastern) sea, and half of them toward the hinder (western) sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.” The living waters will flow out of Jerusalem in two directions, to the west to the great sea (Mediterranean Sea) and to the east to the Dead Sea (or Salt Sea). Also see Ezekiel 47:1-7.
- This new fountain will impact the Dead Sea: The Dead Sea has no outlet and is seven times saltier than the oceans. No fish live in the Dead Sea at this time. Ezekiel 47:8-11 notes, however, that the waters of the Dead Sea will be healed: “Then said he unto me, these waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that…there shall be a very great multitude of fish…”
Worship during the Millennial Reign of Christ
- Jerusalem will be a center for worship: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship…on them there will be no rain…” (Zech. 14:16-19)
- Ezekiel 40-48 notes that God will re-institute temple worship and sacrifices in the Millennium. Many believe the purpose for these sacrifices is to commemorate the sacrificial work of Christ… It will serve as a stark picture and solemn reminder of the penalty Christ paid in dying for our sins on the cross.
- “But in those sacrifices, there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:3)
- Gentiles will keep the Feast of Tabernacles which was formerly a feast just for Israel: To do so, individuals will travel to Jerusalem once each year in the fall to “worship the King.” Ezekiel 43:7 notes: “And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne…[is] where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel…”
- It may be that the Feast of Tabernacles takes on a slightly different meaning during the Millennial Reign of Christ as the focus will no longer be Israel’s rescue from Egypt, but rather, how Christ has saved his children from all over the world. The prophet Jeremiah notes: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).
What happens after the Millennial Reign of Christ?
- War and final judgment: “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-10)
- The great judgment and reward of the saints: “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).
Knowing the timing and scope of some future events may not be possible, but we can know that in the end good will vanquish evil and Jesus will reign triumphant. Those who have committed their lives to Him will share in His victory (1 Corinthians 15:57). Until that time there will be unrest. There will be wars and rumors of wars and “troubles.” Are you ready? Will you commit to being ALL IN for Him (which means you are committed to making serving Him, growing in Him and witnessing for Him the priority of your life)? God expects believers to be active in well doing (Galatians 6:9). Be encouraged: A great reward awaits those found doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, at the right place, and with the right heart when the Lord returns.
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” (Matt. 24:44-46)
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