Now What's Next? By Randy Nettles In March of last year, I wrote an article…
The Millennial Kingdom
By Britt Gillette
What is the Millennial Kingdom?
And how does it fit into God’s plan for our future?
According to the Bible, the Millennial Kingdom will arrive following the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, which occurs at the conclusion of the seven year Tribulation.
After He defeats the Antichrist and the armies arrayed against Him, Christ will separate all the humans left on earth into two groups – those who placed their faith in Him and those who did not.
Those who placed their faith in Christ will enter into the Millennial Kingdom, a 1,000 year period where Christ Himself rules over the nations of the earth.
“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.'” Matthew 25:31-34 (NLT)
So what is this “Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world?”
It’s the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
In tandem with the establishment of His Kingdom, Christ has Satan bound for the full duration of the 1,000 years.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon – that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan – and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:1-3 (NLT)
Following the Glorious Appearing of Jesus Christ, Satan is bound in chains and thrown into the bottomless pit.
But this isn’t a permanent sentence for Satan.
At the end of the 1,000 year period, he’s released for a short time.
The 1,000 Year Reign
With Satan bound and Christ on His earthly throne, the world will experience a thousand years of peace and tranquility.
The Millennial Kingdom will be populated by Christian saints and believers throughout human history, including those who came to know Christ after the rapture and were martyred for their belief:
“Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4 (NLT)
The resurrection of the Tribulation Saints is part of the first resurrection:
“This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:5-6 (NLT)
But what does it mean that “the rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended?”
Does that mean that some Christians will miss the Millennial Kingdom?
“The rest of the dead,” is a reference to the Great White Throne Judgment, which is addressed later in this article.
Christians throughout the ages will all participate in the Millennial Kingdom in one way or another. However, the timing of their resurrections will be different:
“Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.” 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 (NLT)
All Paul describes, “everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.”
However, the order of the resurrection is not the same for everyone.
Christ is resurrected first, followed by those resurrected at the rapture (all the Old Testament and New Testament saints and all those who have believed in Christ up until the time of the rapture), and then, at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, those who came to know Christ between the rapture and the Glorious Appearing will be resurrected.
This is a not a resurrection of the soul, but of the body. For upon the first death, our souls go straight into the presence of Christ. But upon the rapture, our souls will receive glorious, perfected bodies:
“But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT)
Believers Will Rule Under Christ
Those who escape the power of the “second death” – the resurrected Christian saints – reign under Christ in His Kingdom.
This is evidenced in several scriptural passages:
“Look, a righteous king is coming! And honest princes will rule under him.” Isaiah 32:1 (NLT)
“Then the time arrived for the holy people to take over the kingdom.” Daniel 7:22 (NLT)
“Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 (NLT)
Jesus Himself assured His apostles that they would rule the 12 tribes of Israel:
“Jesus replied, ‘I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'” Matthew 19:28 (NLT)
John’s vision in the Book of Revelation provides us with a glimpse of the Millennial Kingdom:
“Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge.” Revelation 20:4 (NLT)
But authority to rule under Christ is not reserved solely for the contemporary apostles of Jesus.
All Christians will participate:
“To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, to them I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.” Revelation 2:26-27 (NLT)
In the Millennial Kingdom, those of us who have trusted in Christ throughout the ages will be given authority by Christ to rule over the nations of the earth.
Earth During the Millennial Kingdom
With Christ at the head of His worldwide Kingdom, the earth will experience a radical transformation.
Unlike today, people will be full of sense and understanding, and respect and admiration will be reserved only for those who deserve it.
“Even the hotheads will be full of sense and understanding. Those who stammer will speak out plainly. In that day ungodly fools will not be heroes. Scoundrels will not be respected.” Isaiah 32:4-5 (NLT)
In contrast to today’s world where the righteous face persecution while the world worships a celebrity culture that advocates degenerate behavior, the Millennial Kingdom will not hold up foolishness as heroic.
In addition, all violent conflict within the animal kingdom itself and between the animal kingdom and mankind will disappear.
As a result, humans and animals will live in a state of peace most will find difficult to imagine:
“In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.” Isaiah 11:6-9 (NLT)
A baby will be safe even in a nest of cobras!
In fact, in the Millennial Kingdom, infant mortality rates will plummet across the board:
“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young! In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains.” Isaiah 65:20-22 (NLT)
The human lifespan during the Millennial Kingdom will be well in excess of 100 years. Many of the dangers of today’s world will disappear.
People will not have to worry about the actions of invaders or tyrannical governments. They will be able to enjoy the fruits of their own labor and live life the way God intended.
In fact, God will answer prayers before they’re even finished!
“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 (NLT)
In addition to all these wonderful characteristics, the Millennial Kingdom will feature its own version of the Appian Way – a great road that goes through the once deserted land – the Highway of Holiness.
“And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.” Isaiah 35:8-9 (NLT)
War will be a thing of the past.
“The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4 (NLT)
In short, the Millennial Kingdom will be the peace on earth that mankind has always claimed to crave.
Satan Let Out to Deceive
However, as wonderful as it is, the Millennial Kingdom is not intended to last for eternity.
After a thousand years, Satan will be let out of the bottomless pit, and he will be allowed to deceive the nations:
“When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations – called Gog and Magog – In every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle ? a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore.” Revelation 20:7-8 (NLT)
Despite the fact that Christ personally rules the earth and lives among men, man’s sinful nature eventually erupts in rebellion.
While the Millennial Kingdom was initially populated with a remnant of Christ’s followers (those saved during the Tribulation) who survive until His return at Armageddon, these believers multiply throughout the earth and become a multitude ? with many offspring who didn’t experience the Tribulation firsthand and were never forced to make a personal decision for or against Christ.
Sadly, some of these children, grandchildren, and other blood relatives of those who come out of the Tribulation never come to know Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God.
When Satan is unloosed, they quickly join in his rebellion.
Man’s Final Rebellion
This final rebellion by mankind will feature an army as numerous as the sands along the seashore. They will surround Jerusalem and God’s people:
“And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.” Revelation 20:9 (NLT)
Like all previous rebellions against God, this siege will be yet another futile attempt to overthrow God’s power.
Fire from heaven consumes the armies, and the Millennial Kingdom draws to a close as God creates a new heaven and a new earth.
The Lake of Burning Sulfur
Following the rebellion, Satan is thrown into the lake of fire:
“Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10 (NLT)
Along with the beast and the false prophet, he will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
They are the first of the dead to be judged, others soon follow…
The Great White Throne Judgment
The end of the Millennial Kingdom initiates the Great White Throne Judgment, the judgment of all the humans in history who died in their sins:
“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15 (NLT)
The Great White Throne Judgment completes God’s judgment of the human race.
While everyone will ultimately face the Lord for judgment, Christians need not fear the Great White Throne Judgment.
Because “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
The New Jerusalem
After the Great White Throne Judgment, God unveils the centerpiece of His new heaven and earth – the New Jerusalem.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Revelation 21:1-2 (NLT)
The description of the new Jerusalem is the basis for most of today’s popular impressions of what heaven looks like.
The main street of the city is pure gold, as pure as glass, and it features twelve “pearly gates,” where each gate is single pearl:
“The twelve gates were made of pearls – each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.” Revelation 21:21 (NLT)
But the new Jerusalem is far more than a jewel-encrusted picture of beauty, it’s the literal home of God Himself:
“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.'” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)
The new Jerusalem is the heaven which awaits those who believe in Christ.
While we tend to think of heaven as a place far away from this earth (and it is right now), heaven is really defined as the dwelling place of God.
After the Millennial Kingdom, God will make His home on earth in the new Jerusalem, and He will dwell among His people.
Jesus Himself described the new Jerusalem for His followers:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1-4 (NLT)
Right now, Jesus is preparing a place for you, and what a wonderful place it will be!
“Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.” Isaiah 65:18-19 (NLT)
While the Millennial Kingdom itself is not eternal, it represents the initial phase in Christ’s eternal rule:
Christ will sit on His glorious throne, and as His followers, we will rule the nations as His representatives.
This is the eternal government Daniel described when interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream:
“During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.” Daniel 2:44-45 (NLT)
God revealed the future to Daniel, and the future He revealed is certain.
One day the God of heaven will destroy all the governments of this world, and He will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It’s rule is eternal.
Christ is coming soon, and when He comes, He will establish His Kingdom.
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus. Come!