In this 14th lesson in the “Bible Prophecy and You” series, we consider these questions: What’s the future of planet earth? Will we ever have real peace? If so, how will it come about? And what does the Bible say will happen after Jesus Christ returns? Will the whole world become Christian? And just what is “the Millennium”?
The Bible contains many prophecies about the future of mankind and the future of this planet. In this lesson, we’ll get a grand overview of that future.
Scripture is full of promises that someday there will be peace on earth. And it is full of specific prophecies about the healthy and happy state of the world during the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ! Following is part of a message from a United Church of God member in Washington state:
“Ever since years ago when I first began receiving literature from the Church of God, it’s been wonderful learning what the Bible really teaches! In the church I grew up in, we were taught lots of things that aren’t true! I was so trusting that I assumed that everything I heard must be true!
“The real truth is so much more logical and inspiring than anything I heard before. To know that God didn’t change His mind about which day of the week is the Sabbath. That Jesus will be coming back to earth and not just to visit but to stay and set up His Kingdom! And to know how everyone will have a real opportunity to learn God’s truth. I’m hoping and praying for the day when they’ll all understand at least as much as I understand.”
God’s truth is far more wonderful than any fiction!
From the beginning of time, countless stories, fantasies and fairy tales have been written by authors who were imagining some kind of paradise or utopia. And almost every religion has ideas about what life will be like after death. But once you really understand what the Bible reveals, you’ll see that no one has ever envisioned any life as beautiful, as joyous and as meaningful as the truth about God’s plan for humanity!
In the last several lessons, we learned about the traumatic events that will take place before Christ’s return, including the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord and Armageddon. All of that is a necessary part of God’s plan to bring humanity to repentance. And that prepares the way for Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Then during the Millennium, Christ will teach all humanity the way to eternal life.
In the last lesson, we also learned that when Christ returns to earth, He will glorify all the saints (His true converted followers of this age) in immortality—resurrecting those who have died and transforming those still living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is through this resurrection and change that the saints will “inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
Where will Christians live during the coming reign of Christ?
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
“On that day the Lord will become King over the whole earth—the Lord alone, and his name alone” (Zechariah 14:9, Christian Standard Bible).
Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth. It is also clear that the saints will ultimately inherit all things, including the whole universe and heavenly realm (Revelation 21:7). Yet they will reign with Christ on the earth, as we will later see more about (Revelation 5:9-10). In fact, the heavenly city of God will ultimately come down to the earth as our perpetual home. Yet even before that, the earth during the reign of Christ and His saints will be wonderful.
What can be more appealing than planet earth once all its problems are solved? Think of this marvelous showcase of God’s creation without any evildoing, without any natural disasters and without any man-made disasters. We can think of it as “heaven on earth”!
Jesus directed us to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). He meant for us to pray for God’s Kingdom to be established over the entire earth.
A long time ago, an archangel decided he would “ascend into heaven” to replace God (Isaiah 14:13). With that rebellion, he became Satan the devil. Ever since then, it is Satan who “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). One of his lies has become a part of most religions—the lie that people will go to live in heaven when they die. This idea actually is derived from ancient paganism, not the Bible! (To learn more, read free study guide Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?)
After Christ’s return, will there still be human beings on the earth?
“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” (Zechariah 14:16).
“I will multiply men upon you [the land of Israel], all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:10-11).
“Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6).
Scripture is full of promises that someday there will be peace on earth and specific prophecies about the state of the world during the reign of Jesus Christ.
Although much of the world will perish during the horror of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord, many millions will yet survive. “Everyone who is left of all the nations . . . shall go up from year to year to worship the King [Christ]” (Zechariah 14:16).
Then, under Jesus Christ’s peaceful rule, there will be a population explosion as countless babies will be born throughout most of the Millennium!
God will choose Israel once again to be the model of a nation obedient to God (Deuteronomy 4:5-8), and this time Israel will live up to that calling. But many prophecies regarding “Israel” during the Millennium will apply eventually to all humanity, especially as people are spiritually converted and become part of the “Israel of God” (Galatians 3:27-29; Galatians 6:16).
What will be the job of the saints after they are resurrected?
“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 all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
“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 20:4-6, New Living Translation).
“And they [angelic beings] sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you [Christ the Lamb] to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth’” (Revelation 5:9-10, English Standard Version).
In Revelation 20, we learn that the resurrection of the saints at Jesus Christ’s return is called “the first resurrection.” They will then be immortal, so there will be no possibility of them dying again (experiencing a “second death”). Their purpose will then be to assist Christ in teaching and ruling the world. “They shall be priests [teachers and intercessors in spiritual matters] of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).
The word millennium means a thousand years, but it’s often used specifically of the 1,000-year reign of Christ and the saints, usually spelled in that case with a capital “M.” Christ and the saints will live forever, not just a thousand years. But after a thousand years, a new period will be ushered in with the second resurrection.
We see in Revelation 5:9-10 that the saints will reign—bear rule as kings—with Christ on the earth. As such, they will be assisting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (see Revelation 19:16).
What will be the most important step in removing evil influences from the world?
“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).
“And he [another angel] cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’” (Revelation 18:2).
Satan will be bound for a thousand years—restrained so he can have no influence on the world. “Bottomless pit” is a translation of the Greek word abyssos, meaning “without bottom,” from which we get the word “abyss,” used for an extremely deep chasm. At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be released “for a little while” but then will be put away forever.
To understand more about what the Bible says about Satan and the demons, read our free study guide Is There Really a Devil?
Is that part of the prophetic meaning of the Day of Atonement?
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls [referring to fasting] . . . It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest” (Leviticus 23:26-27; Leviticus 23:32).
“And when he [Aaron the high priest] has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat [in contrast to the other that was slain in representation of Christ’s sacrifice]. Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.
“The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land . . . This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all” (Leviticus 16:20-22; Leviticus 16:29).
God’s Holy Days reflect stages in God’s plan of salvation. As we saw in the last lesson, the Feast of Trumpets pictures Jesus Christ’s return at the last trumpet. Next, the symbolic meaning of the Day of Atonement builds on the meaning of the Passover. As the Passover pictures our individual reconciliation with God made possible by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Day of Atonement pictures the time when the invitation to be reconciled with God will be extended to all humanity.
Furthermore, this Holy Day pictures the transition time between Christ’s second coming and the beginning of world peace. Therefore, a critical part of the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will be the binding of Satan and the demons. This is shown in the detailed symbolism of Leviticus 16, as explained in our free study guide God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.
What is the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles?
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it . . .
“‘“You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”’” (Leviticus 23:33-36; Leviticus 23:42-43).
Initially the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22), celebrated the completion of the final harvest season in the Holy Land. This final harvest season and the command for Israelites to dwell in temporary dwellings as the Israelites did after leaving Egypt on their way to the Promised Land help us see the prophetic meaning of this festival.
What can be more appealing than planet earth once all its problems are solved? Think of the marvelous showcase of God’s creation!
As later prophecies spelled out the timetable of God’s plan, it became evident that this Feast pictures the coming Kingdom of God, of which the Promised Land was a type. It also symbolizes Jesus Christ’s future dwelling with His people on the earth for a thousand years, at which time a much larger harvest of human beings will take place and be brought into God’s family.
For Christians today it also pictures leaving this world and its ways to sojourn with God in preparing for a permanent home with Him—looking forward to the fulfillment of this in the Millennium, a period of dwelling with God while yet awaiting the permanence of the new heavens and new earth.
Many prophecies throughout the Bible describe how the whole earth will be renewed and beautified during this time. Describing this period, called the Millennium because of its thousand-year duration, the prophet Isaiah said: “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” (Isaiah 11:6).
God’s command for us to observe His annual festivals is an essential factor in helping us understand and remember His plan of salvation for all of humanity. And these are times of rejoicing as we grow in understanding and appreciation of the wonderful future God has planned for all mankind. For further explanation, see our free study guide God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.
Will there be peace on earth in that age to come?
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
“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 anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (Micah 4:3-4).
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing’” (Zechariah 8:4-5).
These inspiring prophecies show Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” bringing this elusive dream to reality. Not only will there be peace between nations, but cities will be safe and peaceful, even Jerusalem!
What city will then be the capital of the world?
“At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jeremiah 3:17).
“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” (Isaiah 2:3).
“Zion” was the name of the mountain ridge on which Jerusalem was built and is often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. Jerusalem at last will truly be “the holy city” and will live up to its name, which means “possession of peace.”
What famous people will rule the 12 tribes of Israel?
“‘Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his [the enemy’s] yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them’” (Jeremiah 30:7-9).
“David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever” (Ezekiel 37:24-25).
“So Jesus said to them, ‘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).
God will raise up—resurrect—David. God says He will reunite Israel into one nation and “David My servant shall be king over them.” Remember that Jesus Christ will be King over all the world. David will rule Israel under Him. And under David will be the 12 apostles reigning over the tribes of Israel.
Will it be a time of health, healing, abundance, prosperity and joy?
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing . . . They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God.
“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.’
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes” (Isaiah 35:1-7).
“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land” (Leviticus 26:3-6).
There are many Bible prophecies about the physical conditions in the world of tomorrow. People will be healed of their sicknesses, injuries and disabilities! Everyone will learn good health habits and how to prevent health problems. People will have healthy children and healthy livestock. There will be no famines, food shortages or disease epidemics!
There will be much more arable land, and agriculture will be highly productive. There will be gentle rain in due season. There will be abundance and prosperity. Everyone who submits to the laws of our loving God will be greatly blessed! “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).
Will people all over the world be taught the truth of the Bible?
“Now 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” (Isaiah 2:2-3).
“And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21).
As we previously read, the immortal saints under Jesus Christ will be priests and teachers who will spread out over the world to direct all education. Isaiah 30:20-21 speaks of these “teachers.” In addition, peoples from all over the world will come to Jerusalem to learn God’s “ways,” “paths,” “law” and “word,” and then they will take that knowledge back to their nations (Isaiah 2:1-3).
Before long, all with teaching responsibilities, including parents, will teach the truth. God says of that time, “No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jeremiah 31:34). After a while, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
God truly “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
You may have noticed quite a few references in this lesson to the book of Isaiah. It has more messianic and millennial prophecies than any other book. Yet many additional prophecies of the Millennium are found throughout the Bible.
God has blessed us with a clear vision of the fabulous future He has in store for us! May we have the focus, dedication and determination to walk in His paths. May we become disciples of Christ now so we’ll be ready when He returns to help Him teach the rest of the world those paths!
Think about how different the Millennium will be compared to the world today. Write down three evils in the world today that you are especially eager to see abolished by Jesus Christ. Next, write down three of the wonderful conditions prophesied about the Millennium that you are especially eager to see come to pass. Then during the coming week when you are praying “Your kingdom come,” think of those six reasons you are especially eager to see it come! It will put more heartfelt meaning and fervency into your prayer.
And to learn more about the promise of this coming Kingdom and how you may have a part in it, read our free study guide The Gospel of the Kingdom.