We live in a deeply troubled age. Yet a magnificent 1,000 year period of peace and prosperity is coming.
On the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, the apostle John received an astonishing revelation from Jesus Christ. In John's account, he records a prophecy in which Jesus Christ would reign on this earth for a thousand years. During this time all peoples will finally know true peace and harmony.
Is this prophecy just an old man's meaningless dream that can never come true? Or is it the sure Word of God? The one hope in today's world for a time when swords will be beaten into plowshares and wild animals will dwell safely with children?
Was John's vision of a coming time of world peace true? You can know—and the answer will give you hope.
On today's program we will reveal the truth of “The Millennium: Christ's Rule on Earth.”
Tired of bad news? There has been a lot of it lately. Economic recession. Stock market ups and downs. High unemployment. Political leadership that can't govern wisely.
The Middle East aflame with rioting, overthrow of governments and the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of religious extremists.
Our world is going through a period of volatility that is creating fear and uncertainty of the future. We wonder what lies ahead for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
People must have hope in the future: that problems can be solved and that life will get better. Hope for a better future is vital to living a purpose-centered life today. God knows this as our Creator and has provided this hope in His revealed Word—the Bible.
There is an idea, first put into writing a few thousand years ago, but an idea that is not really born of human imagination. This idea promises a world of peace and prosperity for all. It is the biblical teaching of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. It's called the Millennium, which is a Latin word, which merely means 1,000. Now when people start to speak of a millennial setting, really they are speaking to what the Bible describes as a time of peace and harmony on the earth.
This truth, which connects with some of the Bible's earliest statements and is abundantly expressed by the Hebrew prophets, continues to hold the imagination of many over the centuries, in spite of many attempts to undermine and to explain it away.
God's promise of a millennial Kingdom stands as a symbol of hope for mankind. A study of the sayings of Scripture and a review of efforts to overturn this teaching really can help us to understand our world and the promised peace of the Kingdom of God.
In the book of Revelation, the apostle John records that after the second coming of Jesus Christ the saints will reign with Him for 1,000 years. Here's what it says:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years …Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×, 6).
There you have it. This verse in Revelation provides really the capstone to a teaching that begins in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament. It's a summary of other biblical descriptions and promises about the millennial age—a peaceable Kingdom.
God, through His servants, foretold this period time and time again. It was the hope of Israel's prophets throughout much of that nation's history, especially during the nation's downfall and captivity. This same hope was shared by the apostles as they questioned Christ about the restoration of Israel's ancient kingdom (Acts 1:6 Acts 1:6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
American King James Version×).
The prophet Isaiah offered a clear picture of this future when he wrote of a time when Israel would be reunited under one Head and the knowledge of God would cover the earth. This was written during the period of Israel's decline, but it pictures the future Millennium. Here's what it says:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's 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 11:1-10 Isaiah 11:1-10 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6 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 fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
9 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.
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
American King James Version×).
Now Isaiah's words have crystallized the idea of the Millennium. What is described here is a complete change in all parts of this world. In fact, this scene is one that you will see depicted in a lot of paintings describing what is called the Peaceable Kingdom . No part of the world we know today will be left unchanged. Wisdom and knowledge will grow by quantum leaps under the rule of God. The nature of man will be changed to build a just world based upon the Word of God and His laws. The deception that has gripped the world will be turned back as the true knowledge of God's plan is spread throughout the human race. This will happen only through the appearance of Jesus Christ.
Now in Isaiah 2, there is another long section of a prophecy that foretells a time of world peace when war will not be learned nor waged. It's worth reading in its entirety. It is encouraging and it gives hope. And it also gives a millennial view. Here's what it says:
“It shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; 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 anymore.”
Ancient Israel never experienced this type of society nor has any other nation in the history of the world—think about that. This scene, that we just read in Isaiah, provided really the inspiration for the statue that is in front of the United Nations building in New York City. Ironically, that statue was a gift from the then Soviet Union was presented in 1959. The bronze statue represents the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand and, in the other, a sword which he is making into a plowshare. It symbolizes man's desire to put an end to war and convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of all mankind.
This scene remains unfulfilled. No nation in history has brought it to pass.
Later the prophet Daniel was given the promise of an enduring Kingdom that would replace the failed efforts of human rule. Notice what he wrote:
“In the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
In another vision Daniel saw the promise of a literal earth-dwelling kingdom. It goes like this:
“I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed…Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”
In this prophecy, given in the midst of the Babylonian captivity, God showed His people that there would be a future Kingdom on the earth under Jesus Christ. To the Jews of Daniel's time, there was no doubt this promise was a literal earthly kingdom. They expected the Messiah to restore the sovereign kingdom to Israel. But just as a fuller understanding of the words of Daniel's prophecies was for a future time, so would the coming of this everlasting Kingdom have to wait.
You can have an understanding of what eluded the prophets today. I know that almost sounds impossible. But it really isn't. God's Word reveals what the Kingdom of God is about. Our free booklet, which we are offering on today's program, The Gospel of the Kingdom shows you what the Bible teaches on this most important subject.
Jesus Christ came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and His entire ministry was devoted to teaching, living and showing the way of life embodied in this Kingdom. This booklet will open your eyes to understand the life changing benefits of the true gospel of the Kingdom.
We offer you this booklet free of charge as an educational service. You can read it online at BeyondToday.tv . Or you can call: 1-888-886-8632 and request your free copy. That number again is: 1-888-886-8632.
Now let me also mention that the United Church of God, the sponsor of Beyond Today is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. You're not going to want to miss these seminars and be able to come and learn more about the Kingdom of God. So what you need to do is go to BeyondToday.tv on your computer and look for the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminar” link that you'll see. They're on the screen. Click it and you can register to attend these seminars. These live events, they're absolutely free.
Today's program, the Millennium, is specifically talking about the Kingdom of God on this earth. And you'll see that it is the central teaching of Scripture and of Christ's ministry. We have designed these seminars to reveal the modern relevance of Christ's message. The hope of the Kingdom is what you need to hear. In the midst of today's bad news, you need to hear the positive, focused message of the Kingdom of God.
Now space may be limited, so sign up for the seminars now. Go to your computers. Go online to BeyondToday.tv and click on the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars” link you'll see there.
Centuries after Daniel's day, the angel Gabriel revealed to Mary that her Son Jesus would be the head of this Kingdom. It says that:
“He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
During His ministry, Jesus Christ spoke clearly of His destiny to fulfill these scriptures. He showed that His followers would be among those who would reign in this Kingdom: At one point He said to His disciples, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28 Matthew 19:28And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
American King James Version×).
The expectation of 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land was that a Messiah would overthrow the Roman rule and restore an Israelite monarchy. Many who followed Jesus Christ, including His closest disciples, believed that He was the One who would restore the Kingdom to Israel.
As Christ approached Jerusalem in the days prior to His death, He sensed that the crowds thought that He would inaugurate the reign of the Messiah at that time. It says there in Luke 19 that, “as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.”
So what Christ did, He spoke a parable about a nobleman who went into a far country and left his co-workers with a job to do until he returned. Christ was that nobleman. When He returns the second time in glory He will establish His 1,000-year reign.
The early New Testament Church preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God extensively in the following decades. This idea of the Kingdom of God was their central focus of teaching and it gave hope for which the followers of Jesus Christ were willing to even give their lives in devoted service.
But near the end of the first century, this truth, of God's Kingdom on the earth, came under severe attack. The integrity of Christ's teachings was subverted by heresy. The Roman government killed many Christians, including Christian leaders. The apostle John was exiled on the prison island of Patmos and great confusion about the Kingdom of God erupted.
At the height of this crisis, John received Christ's revelation that affirmed the truths of the triumphal establishment of the Kingdom of God. The knowledge of the Millennium, this 1,000-year reign, gave the Church during those years great encouragement, as it always has done for those who look to God for their hope and read this truth in the Scriptures.
During that tumultuous epoch, the teaching of the literal Kingdom of God on this earth became mixed with forms of heresy, and in some circles was discredited. In the second, third and fourth centuries the concept of a literal, earthly reign of Christ came under the most severe attack.
There were misguided attempts by some to predict the time of the return of Christ that was contrary to Christ's own teaching.
Theologians who were influenced by Greek thought began teaching the Kingdom was not literal, nor future, but only a vague spiritual kingdom subject to wild interpretations. They said that the scriptural references were to be understood only as symbolism and allegory, and really were not to be taken literally at face value.
In the midst of these heresies, many still held to faith in a coming Kingdom as it had been received from the apostles. The histories show us that a scattered remnant of faithful people holding to the “faith once delivered” and teaching of Christ's coming reign on the earth, continued to hold that idea and teach it.
By the fifth century, the doctrine, the doctrine of the Millennium, was largely however, overwhelmed by the views of Augustine, the most influential theologian of the early church. Augustine's teaching was that the church was the Kingdom of God on earth, and that teaching replaced the biblical teaching that God would intervene in history and establish a Kingdom that would never end.
In Augustine's unbiblical view, the Kingdom of God was a spiritual matter in the hearts of men, manifested in the role of the church on the earth.
This idea coincided with much of what the Roman Emperor Constantine's official adoption of Christianity accomplished. When he did that, he took Christianity as the official religion of the empire. From this point there was really no need for a literal belief in Christ's reign on earth. The church had become politically and spiritually wedded to the power of the empire.
What historian Edward Gibbon called “the ancient and popular doctrine” now became a teaching with little use or support. Edward Gibbon writes: “But when the edifice of the church was almost completed, the temporary support was laid aside. The doctrine of Christ's reign upon earth was at first treated as a profound allegory, was considered…as a doubtful and useless opinion, and was…rejected as the absurd invention of heresy and fanaticism” ( Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Great Books edition, 1952, p. 188).
Now, let's pause, and let me ask you something. What was the result of this loss? This loss of this knowledge? What did this really mean to lose to the religious world the truth of the literal reign of Jesus Christ on this earth? It meant everything!
It meant for the dominant religion that the church was the Kingdom of God, acting and working with the authority of Christ. It meant that any political power that it joined with, would wield immense influence over the hearts and minds of men. It meant a spiritual and political tyranny that was not of God.
The western world of Europe was plunged into a period that history calls the Dark Ages. It was as if the lights went out on the learning and the advancement of culture on all fronts. Historian William Manchester describes the period as a “portrait…of incessant warfare, corruption, lawlessness, obsession with strange myths, and an almost impenetrable mindlessness” ( A World Lit Only by Fire, 1992, p. 3).
To be blunt, whenever humans have tried to create the biblical Millennium on the earth in their way it has failed. Political, social and religious history proves this point to be painfully true.
The truth of God's Kingdom to come on this earth is either true or not. Your Bible says it is true. God says He will replace the kingdoms of this world with the Kingdom of His Christ. You need to believe this truth for it is the only hope for human survival!
And if this is true, then both the Bible and history prove the only way this Kingdom of peace will come is at the direct hand of God, as He intervenes in history and saves all mankind from extinction. No project of man will bring about utopian society. None!
We are at a turning point today in modern history. Major changes will soon shape this present world into something far different than we presently see. Many will think there will be peace—that human government finally got it right. They will put their trust in leaders who will make promises of peace and security. But they will be wrong—and the world will take one more turn to a crisis at the close of the age.
It is vital that you understand Christ's message of the coming Kingdom of God today.
Now coming up, we have a discussion planned on why it's impossible for human beings to construct a perfect society.
But right now, I want to offer you a free magazine that explains much more on this subject. The Good News is our premier publication. When you call and request today's booklet, we will send you also a free subscription to this unique magazine. Six issues a year. Each issue includes subjects on prophecy, Christian living and biblical teaching. Your knowledge of the Bible, of God and of His great plan for your life will grow with each issue.
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I'm joined now with our Beyond Today panel, Steve Myers and Gary Petty, fellow hosts here on the program. Gary and Steve, let's help our audience understand what this world will be like with Christ reigning on the earth and why it's so difficult for people today to wrap their mind around the idea of Jesus Christ's literal reign on this earth.
You know, Darris, we think we're so sophisticated. But once you prove that there is a Creator God, once you prove that that Bible is His inspired Book, you find a plan. God created human beings in His image. We've messed it up. He sent Jesus back, or Jesus here one time, to save us. He comes back a second time to set up God's Kingdom on this earth and to truly save humanity. So, even though it's hard for us to wrap our mind around it, once we believe there's a God, once we go to that Scripture, it's there. And it becomes real.
And you either believe that or you don't.
Yeah. I think that's the hard part, is that normally we don't think of God. Normal human thinking—it doesn't relate to God. And so we need God to open our minds. We need to submit to His way of thinking and then we can begin to get our mind around the concept of what His plan is all about.
We actually live for that. We look forward to that return and we live for it.
It provides hope.
Yeah. Why is it impossible for human beings to construct a perfect society? There have been every known effort to create a perfect town, a perfect community, or a perfect nation; even a perfect church. And all attempts fail. Why is that so difficult? Why? Why can't it be done?
We live under an illusion that if we create the perfect system, we can fix everything; if we can just put the right people in the room. The truth is, human nature is corrupt. Because of that, human nature will fail. And when Jesus Christ returns, He just doesn't bring a new system, He actually changes our nature. He begins to teach us the real ways of God and as that nature changes, we will adapt to what He's teaching, but the problem isn't the system. Every system eventually fails because of human beings.
We don't know the right way to live. Course we're pretty presumptuous and man thinks he has the right way, that he can decide what to do. But if we just look at history, we haven't figured this thing out yet. And yet we still keep fooling ourselves. Well then the next president will work it out, the next government can fix things or change things and it's going to get better. And we have that illusion that that might be possible, but we need to submit to God. We need to have that relationship. We need to look to His Word to see what He says about that. No wonder we can't do it ourselves. The Bible says very clearly, it's not in us to walk the way that we need to walk. So we need to look to God in order to rule our steps.
I don't think we want to give people the impression of just advocating a personal responsibility in one sense…
But, the reality of what the Bible says in terms of this society is ultimately on Christ's shoulders. It says the government will be on His shoulders and without that condition being established, it's not going to happen.
Yeah, I think that's a good point because the difference is, my responsibility is submitting to His rule and His way and what He says should be done rather than doing it my own way.
This is what creates the change of heart that the Bible talks about that then really begins the germ and the seed that will allow those conditions to develop.
Exactly. That's why if we submit to His way now, we actually can live by the standards of that Kingdom in our lives now. But in order to do that, we can't keep making, you know we keep making the same mistakes over and over again and expect a different outcome. It just isn't going to work. We're going to have to turn to God. It's the only way it'll change.
Probably people are asking at this point in our audience, when is this going to happen? We don't want to, we already know on this program we don't get into predictions on those things and that's not our thrust but, when can, when will this Kingdom come?
If you look at Christ's Olivet Prophecy in Matthew 24, He gives a whole list of things that will happen and then He says when humanity's about to destroy itself, He'll come back. He's going to let this go to the point where we have tried everything humanly conceivable and when we're to the point of ultimate filature, that's when He's going to come…
Yeah and I think we're edging closer and closer to that all the time, there's no doubt about that. But at the same time, if you looked at Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
American King James Version×, it talks about when Christ began His ministry, He said the Kingdom of God is at hand and He told mankind to repent! So there is this sense that you can live according to the Kingdom now! That you can develop a relationship with God. You can come under His laws. You can come under His guidance and be a part of that Kingdom right now, so you don't have to wait. Ultimately that physical real Kingdom is coming here, but you can live under that rune, rule and reign of Christ right now.
It comes down to, beginning right now, to look to God, not to man.
Remember on this program today, the free offers that we've made: The first is The Gospel of the Kingdom booklet that will I really think open your mind to grasp the life-changing consequences of Christ's central message. You can get this free booklet right now. You can read it online at BeyondToday.tv download it, or request your own free hard copy by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632 and request your free booklet. We'll mail it to you at no cost.
And don't forget along with that if you're not already a subscriber, you'll receive a free subscription to The Good News magazine. This is a unique magazine that will help you understand God's purpose with all kinds of articles every issue that are relevant to your life.
Remember, all of our publications are provided free of charge as an educational service. The magazine that you will want to read and share with your friends is this magazine, The Good News . So call us at: 1-888-886-8632 or write us as well and request your free subscription.
Now let me again remind you that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. If you are interested in learning more about the Kingdom of God, then go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars ” link to register to attend. These live events are absolutely free.
You really do need to begin to understand and to see why Jesus Christ's original message of the Kingdom of God is largely unrecognized by Christianity today. Now at these seminars, space may be limited, so go and sign up now. Go to BeyondToday.tv, click on the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars” link.
The Bible reveals that a world of peace will result from the return of Jesus Christ. Nations will seek the way of God. Fear will be banished from among the peoples of the earth as godly righteousness guides international relations.
Endless conflicts will disappear, and the art of war will be lost. Families will grow stronger with each generation. When God's Kingdom arrives, there will be nothing to deny its long-held promise and hope of bringing peace on earth.
As we have seen, the teaching of the Millennium begins early in Scripture and continues through the book of Revelation. Christ's last words on the subject are perhaps the clearest and plainest in the Bible. Jesus Christ, the true author of the book of Revelation, says there will be a period of 1,000 years during which the resurrected saints will reign with Him in a just and benevolent Kingdom on this earth.
Will you take Christ at His Word? Will you believe what He said?
The millennial rule of Jesus Christ, an idea older than time, will endure and ultimately transform the world. May we all continue to pray, “Your Kingdom come.”
For Beyond Today , I'm Darris McNeely.