The time known as "the Millennium" is described in a great many scriptures, but, interestingly, the word millennium is not in the Bible. What does it mean?
Millennium is derived from two Latin words: mille, meaning "thousand," and annum, meaning "year." Millennium simply means 1,000 years. A specific thousand-year period definitely is in the Bible.
“I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
"The Millennium" (with the M typically capitalized) refers to the future thousand-year reign on earth of Jesus Christ commencing with His second coming.
Because the word millennium is so often associated with the utopian conditions prophesied to exist in the future 1,000-year period, the adjective form, "millennial." has come to refer to not just the wonderful age to come but any beautiful and inspiring setting that seems ideal, idyllic or Edenic (i.e., harkening back to the Garden of Eden).
A world restored to Eden-like conditions
In a short but powerful sermon, the apostle Peter referred to the time after Christ's return as "times of refreshing" and as "the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:18-21, emphasis added throughout).
Ever since Satan the devil appeared in the Garden of Eden as the wily serpent and enticed Adam and Eve to sin, he has been corrupting everything! Today, Romans 8:22 tells us that "the whole creation groans"!
One of the most important things Bible prophecy reveals about the Millennium is that during this time there will be a massive restoration project to bring the world back to Eden-like conditions. Paradise lost will become paradise restored! It will end up being far better than all the secular ideas of utopia that man has dreamed up!
Notice what Bible prophecy tells us about this time: "For the Lord will comfort Zion [that is, Jerusalem, representing all Israel], He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody" (Isaiah 51:3).
And: "Thus says the Lord God: 'On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, "This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited."
"'Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it'" (Ezekiel 36:33-36). What a breathtaking scene!
The literal thousand-year reign of Christ
Revelation 19:11-16 describes how Jesus Christ will return as "king of kings and lord of lords" to establish His reign on the earth. He will also crush the mighty armies that oppose Him (verses 17-21).
When Jesus appeared on earth the first time, most people did not recognize that He was the Messiah because they were expecting a conquering king who would deliver them from Roman rule. Today it's the opposite. People are now used to the image of a suffering Savior and are not really expecting Him to return and reign over the world. But He absolutely promised that He will return—as a conquering King to rule all nations!
Revelation 20 then describes what happens next: Christ banishes the forces of evil—Satan and his demon minions—the primary instigators behind the world's wickedness. Christ will send an angel to bind Satan and lock him away for this thousand-year period (Revelation 20:1-3).
Why is this such an urgent priority? God's Word tells us that today "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). It is Satan who, ever since the time of Adam and Eve, powerfully "deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).
The all-pervasive, unseen influence of Satan is the number one reason why "human nature" is so bad. Our minds can be compared to computers that have been infected with a destructive virus. After the source of the virus—Satan—is removed, minds can be cleansed from the lingering effects and then reprogrammed with godly education and God's Holy Spirit!
God's servants resurrected to serve alongside Christ
The next thing John sees in vision in Revelation 20 is God's faithful servants who have been martyred but are now alive again! "And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years" (Revelation verse 4). Jesus earlier stated that these resurrected servants will be immortal (Luke 20:36).
When Revelation 20:5 says, "This is the first resurrection," it is referring back to verse 4. The word "first" implies that there will be more than one resurrection. And as verse 5 tells us, a second resurrection will be for "the rest of the dead" who "live again" after "the thousand years were finished." That is when they will have their opportunity for salvation.
Verse 6 provides crucial information about the first resurrection: "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."
The first resurrection is indeed the "better resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35) because those in it are raised to glorified eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second resurrection is a restoration to mortal life, so a person in the second resurrection could die "the second death" if he then refused to repent and obey Christ.
These three verses in Revelation 20 just cited—verses 4-6—give us some facts about the Millennium. All the other millennial prophecies throughout the Bible fill in the wonderful details!
Sad to say, countless people have chosen not to accept Revelation 20 as being literally true. Under Satan's influence, they have, through many interpretations, seen these verses as being merely symbolic.
But the wording of these verses is quite explicit, specific, detailed, sequential, logical and in harmony with the rest of the Bible. There is no justification for understanding them in any way except literally.
Whom will they be reigning over?
Jesus and those resurrected to immortality at His return will rule over all remaining human beings on earth who survive the devastating end-time wars and plagues leading up to that time. They will also rule over angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). And they will rule over generations of human beings to follow. Indeed, in this new world of peace and plenty, many, many others will be born throughout the Millennium.
God delights in children. He told Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28). During the wonderful world of tomorrow, with its child-friendly conditions and attitudes, couples will be fruitful and people will multiply!
Regarding the Holy Land during the Millennium, God said: "I will multiply men upon you, 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" (Ezekiel 36:10-11). There will even be plenty of animals to enjoy!
In thinking about the Millennium, we need to consider both the perspective of the physical human beings alive then as well as the perspective of the resurrected and glorified saints, the servants of God from this age who will then be given eternal life as immortal spirit beings. Keep in mind that most of the millennial prophecies are describing ideal conditions for physical human beings, including earthly pleasures that sound extremely appealing.
But to be a glorified spirit member of the God family will be infinitely better than living as a human being! Even though it's difficult for us to imagine what it will be like to be a spirit being, we should have full faith that God has something much, much better in store for us when we're raised to existence on the divine level to be like Him! (1 John 3:2).
And those who are physical human beings won't be missing out for long. They also will be given the opportunity to be raised to immortality.
The role of the glorified saints as kings and priests!
Long ago, God told the prophet Daniel that "the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever" (Daniel 7:18).
In Revelation 20:6, we saw that the resurrected saints will "be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."
In Revelation 1:5-6, John's vision reveals that Christ is making the saints "kings and priests to His God and Father." That is why Jesus Christ is called "Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). The resurrected saints will be the lords and kings who serve under Him!
Notice this millennial prophecy that reveals the teaching role of these spirit leaders when they visibly appear to people to teach them, warn them and remind them: "Your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:20-21, New International Version).
All this is important to understand because God's purpose for human beings is much greater than most people think. Even most Christians think the destiny of the saints is to be angels or something like that, but angels will not rule the world to come (Hebrews 2:5), whereas the saints will under Christ (verses 6-11). As already mentioned, the saints will be over the angels. Notice what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:3, cited above, "Do you not know that we shall judge angels?"
Angels will always be on a lower level than the family of God. When God calls us "My sons and daughters" (2 Corinthians 6:18), it is much more literal than what most people believe. Angels are not literal spirit-begotten children of God (Hebrews 1:5), while true Christians are (Romans 8:16; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 5:1).
As soon as people repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and to receive God's Spirit (Acts 2:38), "Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Hebrews 2:11, New International Version). What an incredible honor!
Reunited Israel will be a godly role model for the world
Many people are confused as to why so many prophecies emphasize Israel and Judah. Under the ancient kings David and Solomon, Israel was one nation composed of 12 tribes. After Solomon's death, the nation split into two nations, the "house of Israel" and the "house of Judah." Those who belonged to the house of Judah became known as Jews, while those of the house of Israel, carried into captivity by the Assyrian Empire, lost their identity and became known in history as "the lost 10 tribes."
Why did God bring the Israelites out of Egypt to be His "chosen" nation and "holy people"? One stated objective was for them to be a right example to the world, a role model to demonstrate the wonderful fruit of living life based on God's perfect laws (Deuteronomy 7:6-14). However, because of weak and sin-prone human nature, and because God did not give them the Holy Spirit, they didn't have the "heart" to consistently obey, and so they failed most of the time (Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 29:4).
During the very first part of the Millennium, Christ will give special attention to making the modern-day descendants of the Israelites His model nation, which will greatly help in the education and conversion of the rest of the world.
Why will Israel succeed in becoming a model nation when it failed in the past? Because after thousands of years of trying to live apart from God's law, they will learn that it is the only way to true happiness and fulfillment. They will then turn to Jesus Christ who will be ruling the earth, and they will receive a "new heart." Carefully consider the following prophecy:
"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries [where the Israelites have been in captivity as punishment from God], and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [a soft, receptive heart]. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God" (Ezekiel 36:24-28).
The "Holy Land" will finally live up to its name and be a truly holy land!
In Ezekiel's next chapter, we learn that God "will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations [Israel and Judah], nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again" (Ezekiel 37:22).
Who will be the "one king" over the reunited Israel? It will be the resurrected King David (Ezekiel 37:24-25; Ezekiel 34:23-24).
Jesus also revealed who will reign over the 12 tribes: "Jesus 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).
Based on these passages, God will likely assign other top responsibilities to resurrected patriarchs, prophets, apostles and other righteous men and women who proved faithful as godly leaders.
Truth spreads throughout the earth
Jerusalem will be the capital of the world as well as a safe and delightful place! "Thus says the Lord: 'I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.' 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 8:3-5).
God further says of Jerusalem that "all nations shall flow to it" to learn and to worship. "Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house [temple] 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).
When Jesus Christ teaches and enforces the way of peace, peace will break out everywhere! "He [Christ] 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" (Isaiah 2:4).
Isaiah refers to Jesus as the "Prince of Peace" and then writes, "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Isaiah is known as "the messianic prophet" because his book is full of prophecies of the Messiah and the Millennium. It's interesting that Isaiah's name means "the Lord saves."
Peace and prosperity fill the land
Another biblical prophet, Micah, gives some of the same details Isaiah does (Micah 4:1-3) and adds this: "But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid" (verse 4). This short verse is pregnant with meaning. It not only portrays peace and security but indicates the blessing of each family owning fertile, productive property.
It will be a marvelous time for farming, gardening and all kinds of outdoor activities: "I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.
"I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase" (Ezekiel 34:25-27).
Jesus Christ will not only change the nature of human beings; He also will change the nature of animals! No more will animals be predatory and dangerous: "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" (Isaiah 11:6-8). Amazing!
This prophecy is both literal and figurative—peace in the natural realm serving to signify peaceful relations between peoples, as nations are often represented by animals in Scripture.
Indeed, the dramatically inspiring verse that follows shows the human focus here by explaining peace as the result of right knowledge: "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). People will be unlearning their false ideas and learning the knowledge of God.
Preaching and teaching the truth to everyone will be greatly facilitated by the fact that all people will communicate in one "pure language" (Zephaniah 3:9)!
"The truth shall make you free!"
Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Once the people of the world understand and are living by God's laws, which James calls the "law of liberty," they will enjoy the greatest freedom that is possible for human beings (James 1:25; James 2:12). The ultimate freedom, of course, will come when each person escapes all physical limitations by becoming spirit!
Imagine what the world will be like when everyone will be living by all of the Ten Commandments! It will be a world virtually free of most of the problems it suffers from today—including wars, violence, crimes, murder, adultery, broken homes, theft, dishonesty, dirty politics and oppressive governments! It will also be a world free of idolatry and pagan superstitions and traditions.
The Ten Commandments define how to love God and how to love people, as summed up in the two great commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
During the Millennium, everyone will have the opportunity to become spiritually converted so God's laws can become internalized—written in their hearts!
Here is a concise summary of the New Covenant that will be offered to all people: "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 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, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Hebrew 8:10-12).
Christ will offer all people freedom from ignorance and freedom from the guilt and penalty of their sins.
The Millennium—time of healing, health and happiness!
Isaiah 35 offers one of the most inspiring portraits of the Millennium. Following are portions of it.
"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" (Isaiah 35:1-2).
"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" (Isaiah 35:3-6).
Besides receiving miraculous healing, the people will be taught the principles of healthful living so sickness can be prevented. And the healing of physical illnesses here, while literal (as Christ demonstrated through the miracles of His first coming), also pictures an even more important healing that will come—the healing of humanity's spiritual problems.
"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" (Isaiah 35:6-7).
"A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness . . . And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35:8-10). These prophecies, too, are meant literally as well as figuratively—portraying both physical and spiritual blessings.
The people of the earth will be saying, "My cup runneth over" with blessings! (Psalm 23:5, King James Version).
Looking forward with heartfelt passion, then, let us all pray as Christ instructed, "Your Kingdom come"!
May the Millennium come soon!