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What does the word millennium bring to mind? Futuristic, science fiction images? Computer glitches? Horrific prophecies of destruction? A utopian fantasy world? The word is derived from two Latin words: mille, meaning "thousand" and annus, meaning "year." (annus). Millennium simply means a thousand years. Although the word millennium does not appear in the Bible it does speak specifically of a period of a 1,000 years in which the entire world will finally achieve the elusive ideals of peace, prosperity and purpose.

A world in peril

Shortly before His death, Jesus' disciples asked Him what events would occur before the end of this age and His return to the earth (Matthew 24:3). Jesus warned that the future would bring religious confusion and deception, war, natural disaster, persecution and tribulation, even as the gospel is spread to all the world (verses 4-14).

He went on to point out that immediately before His return the world would be gripped by unparalleled difficulties so severe they would threaten humanity with extinction: "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved [alive]; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-22).

The Millennium begins

The elect are those God has called and trained during their lifetime to rule with Jesus Christ during the Millennium. When Jesus Christ returns to establish the Government of God, and usher in the Millennium, those who have died, as well as those who are yet alive, will rule with Christ (Matthew 24:31, I Corinthians 15:51-52).

The reign of the Messiah

Daniel 7 contains another prophecy of events that culminate in the establishment of God's kingdom. Verses 13 and 14 describe Jesus Christ being given this kingdom: "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."

Jesus Christ's return to establish God's Kingdom on earth will fulfill a prophecy recorded long before His human birth: "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, emphasis added throughout).

A transformed world of prosperity and peace

The millennium is the first 1,000 years of God's eternal kingdom. The purpose of the millennium is to establish God's government on earth and provide a way for every person, protected from Satan's deception and temptation, to prepare to receive an eternal inheritance in God's Kingdom.

Isaiah was inspired to record many prophecies concerning the millennium. He summarizes how the earth will be transformed after Jesus returns: "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 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 shall 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" (Isaiah 2:2-4).

Isaiah describes a world completely different from the one in which we live. Jesus Christ will rule over all the earth. People from all nations will seek out God's law and be taught to live according to it. As a result, society will have an entirely new orientation and approach based on Godly values. Man's creativity and resourcefulness will be used for peaceful purposes instead of war and destruction.

A prophecy by Amos also shows how all the earth will benefit under Jesus Christ's rule. The nations will be richly blessed. For example, crops will be so abundant that the preparations for the next growing season will be slowed because the current one has yet to be completed. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountain shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it'" (Amos 9:13).

Those who are part of the resurrection that takes place when Jesus returns are also described as teachers who will give people guidance and direction in God's way of life: "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).

Those faithful Christians who prepare in this life for the kingdom of God will reign with Jesus Christ in the millennium. As kings, priests and teachers, they will have the privilege of assisting Him in governing and teaching mankind the way and the truth of God.

A world filled with purpose

Why will the world be so different during the millennium? God will provide what is sadly lacking in today's world. "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 11:9).

When people live according to the knowledge of God they will experience peace and prosperity--the result of understanding the true purpose of life and how God intends man to live. It's difficult for us to grasp how negative an influence Satan has on our lives today. We live in a world that lacks the knowledge of God, an understanding of His instructions and the purpose of life. We can only try to imagine what the world will be like when it is saturated with God's truth and man is free to pursue the purpose for his existence.

Eternal life offered to all

Society will be based on the law of God, which will be taught to all nations (Isaiah 2:3). People will learn to obey God from their heart, motivated by understanding, love, devotion and appreciation.

As Jesus rules on earth during the millennium, people will have the opportunity to learn more about the plan of God. Everyone will have the opportunity to come to know Jesus as their Savior, realizing they can only enter into eternal life through Him (Acts 4:12). Finally recognizing Jesus as Creator, Savior and King, people will honor, worship and obey Him (Philippians 2:9-12).