Until the time that Jesus returns in the flesh-and-bones body with which He left, mankind (under the influence of Satan and His evil angels) will be allowed to rule over incompetently, and to wreak havoc upon, the earth which God created. However, upon Jesus’ final return, the conditions of rule will change. The world government and the Church then, for one thousand (1,000) years, will be under His leadership and direction.
The ideals of happiness, peace, freedom, justice, and prosperity, all of which have been merely dreams of most of the world’s people throughout the ages, actually will be realized during the Millennium. A perfect state of affairs will exist among the government, Church, and people of earth, something which never could be accomplished by mankind alone. (The idea of “separation of Church and State” is an invention of mankind, not of God.) Furthermore, most of the world will be a lush paradise; and people will have exceedingly longer life spans than they do now.
The millennial reign of Jesus Christ will be a transitional government from the inept, corrupt rule of mankind to the orderly, perfect rule of God, the Father (1 Cor. 15:24-28). As impossible as it may seem now, all evil permanently will be detached and disunited from all good after this period of 1,000 years, the Millennium, has concluded.
The word “millennium” is derived from the Latin milus, meaning “thousand,” and annum, meaning “year.” Thus, a millennium is a period of one thousand years. John, the author of the Book of Revelation, referred directly to this thousand-year span six times in the twentieth chapter of the final book of the Bible:
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. 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.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison... (Rev. 20:1-7).
Although it generally is conceded by conservative Christians that Jesus will rule and reign over the Kingdom of God (Isa. 2:2-4; Dan. 7:13,14; Zech. 14:9,16; Acts 15:16,17; Rev. 20:4d,6c), there is not universal agreement as to when this will happen, what form it will take, nor for how long it will last. Three major views of the “millennial era” thus have arisen: the 1) amillennial, 2) postmillennial, and 3) premillennial views. Complete descriptions of these views are given by Marvin Rosenthal in The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.
In the fourth century A.D., the Catholic theologian Augustine (of Hippo) initially believed that the 1,000-year Kingdom of God, to which the Bible referred, was initiated by Jesus’ First Coming and would extend to His Second Coming (at which time, presumably, God’s eternal Kingdom would begin). However, he could see that the glorious biblical descriptions of the Kingdom of God did not match the real conditions in the world of his day. Therefore, he rejected the idea of a literal 1,000-year Kingdom (“amillennial” infers “no millennium”). Instead, he developed the idea that the Kingdom of God on earth must be spiritual and, thus, must be “in the hearts and minds” of believers on earth.
In addition to this, Augustine fostered other non-literal interpretations of the Bible. Followers (particularly the Reformed Church of the early sixteenth century and its offshoots) did the same. Allegorical explanations of biblical concepts resulted. One such idea is that the Church has become the “New Israel” and will receive Israel’s inheritance, which God promised to Israel’s founding fathers, because Israel (generally) has rejected Jesus as Messiah. This also is known as “replacement theology” (see “purposes of Jesus and Israel”: C-15, P-I).
The amillennial view no doubt was strengthened when Jesus did not return around the year 1,000 A.D.; to many, this must have been seen as proof that the 1,000 years was not literal. There are many proponents of amillennialism today; they accept a non-literal view of the 1,000-year period of Jesus’ reign. Their claim is that we presently are in the so-called period figuratively known as the “Millennium” and that Jesus is ruling the Kingdom of God spiritually “within our hearts and minds.”
In the seventeenth century, Unitarian minister Daniel Whitby came to the conclusion that, as the Gospel message spread throughout the world, more and more people would turn toward God and accept the salvation and lordship of Jesus Christ. As a result, Christian beliefs and practices would become predominant worldwide, and global conditions would get better and better. Eventually, the Kingdom of God would be brought in by enough people purified by the effects of the Gospel. Then, after 1,000 years (the Millennium) of progressive improvements by mankind, when the world was “ready” for Jesus, the way would be prepared for His return. That is, His return would be postmillennial.
Advocates of the postmillennial view assumed that World War I was the greatest and the final war the world would see and that the peace following it would last and be evidence of the Gospel’s advancing purification of the world. Then World War II occurred, which disillusioned many postmillennial supporters. Many others still hold to this view today, however—although I personally see no evidence that the Gospel message, which certainly is being taken to more of the world than ever before, is having a substantial purifying effect on the world (even though multitudes are accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord). In fact, I see the opposite occurring: peace appears to be a scarcer and scarcer commodity in the world, and the Church is being infected and tainted more and more by worldly ways and by false religious doctrines, as predicted by Paul (1 Tim. 4:1).
Paul also predicted that the world, in the last days of this age, would get worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:1-7), not better and better. In fact, the idea that human beings will “spiritually evolve” into a perfect state on their own (and inevitably improve world conditions as they do so) is a primary “New Age” teaching (see “‘New Age’ folly”: C-9, P-I) having no connection with past, present, or future reality. Rosenthal appropriately states,
Today men can bypass the heart, transplant the heart and even develop artificial hearts, but they cannot make a bad heart good and prepare it for kingdom living. The spiritual heart remains “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).
The truth is, only God can perfect one’s heart and spirit. King David, full of remorse after having committed adultery with the beautiful Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2-4b), was fully aware of this when he cried, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
The early Judeo-Christian Church widely accepted the idea that Jesus would return to earth a second time and establish a government to rule over the world forever. There appears to be no question that John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, believed this to be true; he specifically referred, six times, to an actual, literal 1,000-year period, which would follow Jesus’ return to subdue and neutralize the forces of evil (including Satan) and during which Jesus and His faithful saints (as “priests”) would reign (Rev. 20:6c). Afterwards, in the Eternal Kingdom, His servants would serve Him and reign with Him forever (22:3c,5c).
At the beginning of the Millennium, which will ensue shortly after the 70th Week ends, Satan will be chain-bound by a good angel. Along with the other evil angels (Isa. 24:21,22), he will be sealed up inside the “Abyss” (see “Abyss”: “references to hell”: C-14, P-I) for the duration of the thousand years, after which he will be loosed for a short time to deceive the insurgent populace of the world and to make one last attempt at destroying Jerusalem (Rev. 20:1-3,7-9a), where Jesus will be. However, no actual “battle” will ensue; the rebellious armies that Satan gathers will be consumed by fire from heaven, and Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire, where he will remain, stripped of power and defeated, for all of eternity (20:9b,10—see “existence and purpose of hell”: C-14, P-I).
Everyone resurrected and/or transformed at the Rapture (or, conceivably, Raptures) of the 70th Week (seeC-12, P-V), along with the Old Testament saints and the martyrs from the Great Tribulation raised and changed at or after the end of the 70th Week, will judge, rule, and reign with Jesus over the earth for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4-6). They will be exempt from the final “great white throne” judgment of unbelievers at the end of the Millennium (20:11-13) and saved from the “second [spiritual] death” (20:6b,14b, 21:8), which involves banishment to the realm of hell (see “lake of fire; fiery furnace”: “references to hell”: C-14, P-I). Having found no evidence for amillennial or postmillennial theories, yet having discovered a great deal of evidence in the Bible for an actual Millennium to come, I have adopted a literal, premillennial point of view.
I previously have given numerous reasons why I believe we are at the threshold of the 70th Week (see “Pre-TR vs. Pre-WR” and “70th Week precursors”: C-12, P-VI). Similarly, I find in the Bible what I believe to be symbolic indications that the Millennium, which directly will follow the 70th Week, is in immediate view.
First of all, Moses, in a prayer to God, stated, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by...” (Psalm 90:4a). Peter concurred by saying, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Pet. 3:8b). Now, there were approximately 2,000 years from Adam to Abraham and another 2,000 years from Abraham to the birth of Jesus. Thus, Jesus came after four “days” of mankind’s existence on earth. Since the birth of Jesus, almost 2,000 years (two “days”) have passed; so, presumably, there have been about 6,000 years (six “days”) since Adam.
God’s creation of everything took six “days” (or, in my opinion, six “age-days”—see “‘age-days’ of Creation”: C-1, P-II); and on the seventh “day,” God rested from His work (Gen. 2:2,3). Certainly, God did not rest because He was tired; rather, he ceased His work after six “days” to provide us with a pattern or “blueprint” of the ages. (Likewise, the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath day, was decreed by Him as a day of rest for us—Lev. 23:3—as an example of the “day” of rest in His overall Plan.) So, likening the 6,000 years of mankind on earth to the six “days” of the creation process, there should be a seventh “day” or 1,000-year period (the Millennium) when God—along with all the people (saints) who have accepted His gift of redemption from a restless spirit, chaotic soul, and decaying physical body—will rest: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9,10).
I believe the two ideas—1) that a thousand years can be as a day and a day as a thousand years in the eyes of the Lord and 2) that the final thousand-year period in mortal mankind’s existence is fast approaching—are combined in these statements by Hosea:
Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds (Hosea 6:1). After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence (6:2). Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth (6:3).
To begin with, I believe Hosea 6:1 is a prophecy of the temporary abandonment of Israel by God (due to the nation’s rebellion against and rejection of His Plan and of the true Messiah, Jesus), along with an assurance that He will “heal” them and “bind up their wounds” one day (Isa. 30:26b). Next (Hosea 6:2a), there is an indication that, after “two days” (presumably, two thousand years after the First Coming of Jesus Christ), God will “revive” the Israelites (at the end of the 70th Week when He pours out His Spirit upon the nation of Israel—Jer. 30:17a; Ezek. 39:29; Zech. 12:10a).
Then (Hosea 6:2b), on the “third day” (third thousand year period following Jesus’ First Coming), God will “restore” the former glory of Jerusalem and Israel (Jer. 30:18; Amos 9:11); and the people of Israel actually will live in the presence of God. As will be detailed later in this part, Jesus Christ, the bodily manifestation of God, literally will dwell in Jerusalem, Israel, for one thousand years—in the personal presence of all who live there.
This is the King James rendering of the last verse of Hosea’s passage:
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth (Hosea 6:3—King James).
Recall, from theintroduction to C-4, that the Hebrew Spring festivals/holy days (representing events of the First Coming of Jesus) also are known as the “former rain” festivals; while, from the introduction to C-5, it was stated that the Hebrew Fall festivals/holy days (depicting incidents of the Second Coming of Jesus) can be referred to as the “latter rain” festivals. Just as Jesus came to fulfill the four Spring festivals/holy days (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot), He will come to fulfill the three Fall festivals/holy days—two of them (Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur) just prior to and one of them (Sukkot) just following the onset of the Millennium.
There is another allegorical quote, by Jesus Himself, which, in my opinion, further indicates that He will return about two thousand years after His earthly birth to continue His work on earth. Jesus had been warned that Herod (Antipas) wanted to kill Him (Luke 13:31).
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’” (Luke 13:32).
I see Herod as symbolic of Satan and Jesus telling Satan (who wanted to kill Him) that He would “...drive out demons and heal people...” for about two thousand years (1 day = 1,000 years). Then, during the third thousand years (Millennium) He would “reach [His] goal” of subduing evil. If this is true, the beginning of the glorious Millennium of Jesus’ reign could be less than even a decade away, meaning also that the 70th Week could begin shortly.
It is thought by many that Jesus will return, the second time, two thousand years after His birth. Perhaps, instead, it will be two thousand years after He was found, at age twelve, “in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:42-46).
It was indicated in the previous section that Jesus came the first time after the fourth “day” (millennium) of mankind and, presumably, will return the second time after the sixth “day” (millennium). Upon His next physical coming, He will sit on the world’s throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. There are events and depictions in the Bible which foreshadow the coming of Jesus the second time in glory and majesty after six units of time (or six thousand years of mankind’s existence), two millennia after His First Coming.
Noah: It was when Noah was six hundred years old that “...the floodwater came upon the earth” (Gen. 7:6). The Great Flood was the most extensive judgment ever to come upon the earth. Jesus, who has been entrusted with all judgment by the Father (John 5:22), will judge the earth at His return (Rev. 19:11c), which, presumably, will be after six thousand years of contending patiently with mankind.
Isaac: God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Gen. 22:2—see “Abraham’s complete trust in God”: C-2, P-II). Now, Isaac was a “type” of Jesus:
Solomon: Another “type” of Jesus was Solomon (because of his unmatched wisdom and because Israel experienced a great time of peace during his reign), who walked up six steps to his throne (2 Chr. 9:18a). On both sides of the throne and of each step stood lions (9:18c,19a). Jesus, the Lion of the tribe Judah (Rev. 5:5b), will have walked closely with mankind for six millennia before obtaining His earthly throne.
Joseph: Joseph, eleventh son of Jacob (see “Joseph”: C-2, P-II), was in prison “two full years” (Gen. 41:1a). He was, in effect, “humbled” for these two years, being innocent of the charges of which he was accused and for which he was taken out of public view, yet not resisting arrest nor complaining of his unjust treatment. While there, the warden placed Joseph in charge of all the prisoners (39:22). Likewise, Jesus, Who also was unjustly punished, demonstrated humility by not resisting His wrongful arrest; and for two millennia, He has been a model for everyone in bondage to sin.
After two years, Pharaoh proclaimed to Joseph, “You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you” (Gen. 41:39,40). Pharaoh then put Joseph in charge not only of his palace but of all of Egypt—giving his signet ring to Joseph, providing him with robes of fine linen and a gold chain, and parading him in a chariot as second-in-command while onlookers shouted, “Make way!” (or “Bow down!”) to Joseph (41:41-43). “Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt” (Gen. 41:46).
Jesus “...was about thirty years old when he began his ministry” (Luke 3:23a)—that is, entered the service of the King (the Father). Just as all of Egypt was placed under Joseph’s authority, “...[the Father] has put everything under [Jesus’] feet” (1 Cor. 15:27a). Just as Joseph received honor from Pharaoh and was paraded before admiring subjects, Jesus received honor and glory from the Father at various times and made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His praising followers (Matt. 3:17, 17:5, 21:7-9; 2 Pet. 1:17). And just as Joseph traveled around the country making sure enough grain (for bread) and other food was stored up for the subsequent time of famine, Jesus traveled around the country proclaiming, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51ab).
Joseph was hated by his brothers without cause and sold for silver (Gen. 37:28). Jesus, hated by his “brothers” (the Jews), also was sold for silver (Matt. 26:15). Just as Joseph became ruler after two full years of humility and patience, Jesus should become ruler two full millennia after His humble First Coming, during which time He patiently helps and guides those imprisoned by sin who see Him as their model.
It may be added that, in Jewish tradition, a name for the suffering Messiah is “Messiah ben Joseph”—Messiah, son of Joseph—indicating the link between Joseph’s and Messiah’s humility. (The other messianic name, “Messiah ben David”—Messiah, son of David—is indicative of the similarities between David and the Messiah: rulers, conquerors, and servants of God. See “messianic predictions”: C-3, P-I.)
Joash: The wicked, power-hungry Queen Athaliah attempted to destroy the entire royal family after her son, King Ahaziah of Judah, died (2 Kng. 11:1). She did this so she could rule as queen—which she did for six years. But her infant grandson, Joash was taken and hidden with his nurse in the temple for the six years that his ruthless grandmother reigned (11:2,3). In his seventh year, Joash was revealed to the people, crowned king, and anointed (2 Kng. 11:12; 2 Chr. 24:1a). Athaliah, very angry when she observed the temple coronation, yelled, “Treason, Treason!” (2 Kng. 11:13,14), because she felt that she should remain sitting on the throne and that she was being overthrown wrongfully. She was seized and put to death (11:16).
In this historic story, Athaliah represents Satan, who has ruled over mankind, illegally and greedily, for almost six thousand years; while Joash, like Solomon, is another “type” of Jesus (the “Anointed One”), Who humbly has hidden His true Self to all mankind and patiently waited for nearly six millennia to sit, rightfully, on the world’s throne. When Jesus is given, by the Father, the Authority and Power to rule over the earth (Dan. 7:14), Satan will “protest” by coming against Him (Rev. 19:19); but he will be bound and thrown into the Abyss for a thousand years (20:2,3)—the Millennium—and, after that, into the lake of burning sulphur forever (20:10).
Jesus: Jesus was “sown” in the grave for two days (Friday and Saturday) and “bloomed” to life in a glorified form on the third day, the firstfruit from the dead of those who never would die again (see “Jesus, the firstfruit from the dead”: C-4, P-III). This may be an indication that the Church of believers was “planted” at Jesus’ First Coming, has “grown” for two thousand years, and, following His lead, will “burst forth” in a brand new form at the dawning of the third thousand years.
Transfiguration: Jesus told His disciples, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory...” (Matt. 16:27a). Then He said, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (16:28). After six days had passed, “...Jesus took with him Peter, James and John..., and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (17:1,2). Three of His disciples, while they yet were alive, witnessed this picture or foreshadowing of Jesus’ future coming in His kingdom, which should be after six millennia of mankind’s presence on earth have passed.
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.