Just What Is the Millennium?

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MP3 Audio (12.68 MB)


Just What Is the Millennium?

MP3 Audio (12.68 MB)

Many people have heard that the Bible talks about a period of peace known as "the Millennium," but they aren't quite sure what that means. The many views among Christian denominations and religious teachers don't help clear up the confusion.

What is the Millennium described in the Bible? Is it merely a nice-sounding ideal or an allegory? Or is it a time the Bible describes as real? Let's explore the answers straight from the Bible.

Although the Bible does not specifically use the word millennium, it clearly refers to a period of 1,000 years that will serve as the turning point for humanity. It reveals that during that time the world will finally achieve the elusive ideals of peace, prosperity and purpose. It is assuredly not merely a dream, wish or fantasy; rather, the Millennium holds a sure promise of hope for humanity.

To understand the prophesied Millennium, let's set the stage by briefly describing events that will take place immediately before the beginning of this 1,000 years.

A world in peril

Shortly before His death, Jesus' disciples asked Him what events would occur before the end of the age and His return to 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 would spread to all the world (verses 4-14). Then He told them that those who are watchful and obedient could be protected from the destructive events that would yet occur (Luke 21:18, 28, 36).

Jesus went on to prophesy 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; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-22).

He said the time of turmoil would be followed by dramatic signs in the heavens, and then He would return in power and glory. "The sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (verses 30-31).

From Paul's writings we learn that the gathering of "His elect" at the "sound of the trumpet" is the resurrection of faithful Christians: "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [dead]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Rejoicing or rebellion?

Jesus said the "tribes of the earth will mourn" at His return (Matthew 24:30). That statement seems odd, since you would expect that all would rejoice at His second coming. Why does mankind resist, rather than rejoice, when Christ returns?

Revelation 18 gives us more background information. This chapter describes the destruction of an economic, political and religious system called Babylon the great (verse 2). But before its destruction it will be the source of great wealth to those who are part of this pervasive system (verse 3). Verses 9-20 describe the abundance and prosperity this system will bring to the nations and their shock and fear at its sudden destruction.

In a vain effort to protect their system, and because Satan has deceived them, the armies of the world will fight against Jesus when He returns (Revelation 19:11-19). Verse 20 describes the destruction of the political and religious leadership of this ungodly system.

Having destroyed Babylon the great, Jesus will deal with the unseen "god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4), Satan. Revelation 20:1-2 tells of John's vision of this future time: "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."
The Millennium begins

The prophecy goes on to show that Satan will be bound so he can no longer deceive humanity (Revelation 20:3). Although many Old Testament prophecies reveal what will take place during the Millennium, this is the first specific reference to a period of 1,000 years.

The "elect" gathered "from the four winds" (Matthew 24:31), who will receive eternal life when Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), includes those who were persecuted because they refused to be part of the ungodly system the Bible calls Babylon. Now resurrected and having received God's gift of eternal life, they will rule the earth with Jesus Christ during this time.

"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" (Revelation 20:4).
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 the prophecy recorded long before His birth: "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" (Isaiah 9:7).

Jesus will return to a battered and beaten earth. People will have endured a time of terrible tribulation, bloody battles and horrifying disasters. Zechariah 14 summarizes events surrounding Christ's return and the beginning of the Millennium.

Verses 1-2 discuss "the day of the Lord," the time just before His return when Jesus begins to intervene in world affairs and set the stage for His second coming. Verses 3-5 speak of His battle against the nations and His descent onto the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem. Verses 6-9 describe Jesus' impact as He immediately begins to comfort earth's inhabitants and institute God's way of life.

The "living waters" mentioned in verse 8 symbolize the healing that will spread out to all lands from Jerusalem.

A world of prosperity and peace

The Millennium is the first 1,000 years of the eternal Kingdom of God. 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 of the Millennium. He describes a world completely different from ours in which Jesus Christ will rule over all the earth. People from all nations will seek to learn God's law and live according to it. As a result, society will have an entirely new orientation and approach based on godly values. Humanity's creativity and resourcefulness will be used for peaceful purposes instead of war and destruction.

Isaiah further prophesies that not only will man's nature change for the better when Satan is removed from the scene, but even the nature of animals will be different: "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).

A prophecy by Amos shows the earth benefiting under Jesus Christ's rule. The nations will be richly blessed. For example, crops will be so abundant that the preparations for the next year's planting will be slowed because the current year's harvest hasn't even been 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 mountains 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 (Isaiah 30:20-21).

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 humanity to live. It's difficult for us to grasp how negative an influence Satan is on our lives. 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 humanity is free to pursue the purpose for existence.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a new covenant between God and humanity. Jesus established this covenant (Matthew 26:28); but during this time when Satan is present to spread his deceptions (Revelation 12:9), God has called relatively few to enter into that covenant.

During the Millennium, however, when Satan is bound and God fills the world with knowledge of Him and His ways, mankind as a whole will have an opportunity to enter into this covenant.

The promise of salvation through the New Covenant will not be limited only to descendants of Israel, but will extend to all mankind. In reference to Jesus' work of salvation, one of Isaiah's prophecies puts it this way: "Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth'" (Isaiah 49:6).
Eternal life offered to all

Societies 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 hearts, motivated by understanding, love, devotion and appreciation.

The apostle Paul wrote that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

As Jesus rules on earth during the Millennium, people will have the opportunity to learn about Him and God's plan for salvation. All will have the opportunity to come to see Jesus as their Savior, realizing they can enter into eternal life only through Him (Acts 4:12). Finally recognizing Jesus as Savior and King, people will honor, worship and obey Him (Philippians 2:9-12).
Prophecy need not be confusing

Confusion and misunderstanding about the Millennium abounds, but the Bible is clear. The Millennium is the first 1,000 years of God's eternal Kingdom. During that time Jesus will establish God's government, the world will be at peace, and mankind will flourish as the knowledge of God fills the earth. Humanity will come to understand and prepare for its eternal destiny in God's family and Kingdom.

In His Word God has revealed much about the Millennium that strengthens our faith, sense of purpose and hope for the future. We hope that you will continue your study to learn of and prepare for your part in God's incredible plan for you.

This article has only briefly discussed some of the many prophecies of the Millennium and Jesus Christ's coming rule on earth. To discover more of what the Bible teaches about this exciting new world, be sure to download or request The Gospel of the Kingdom. To better understand how the Millennium fits with God's plan as laid out in Bible prophecy, please see You Can Understand Bible Prophecy. WNP