After the rapture of the Church the world enters a seven year period of tribulation. A description of this is given in Matthew 24. Our studies here do not allow a detailed examination of this time of tribulation. The Lord Jesus called the first half of that period, "the beginning of sorrows (Mt 24.8), and the second half "great tribulation" (Mt 24.21). Those in Israel who are faithful to the Lord will suffer greatly. This period ends with the coming in glory of the Lord Jesus and the defeat of the Beast and the False Prophet, leaders of the revolt against God. Satan is bound and the way is now open for the reign of the Lord Jesus on earth. Six times over in Revelation 20 one thousand years is mentioned, emphasising that this is a literal period of one thousand years that is in view.
The purpose of the Kingdom
For the Father
It is His purpose to honour the Son by this outward display of His glory and power. He made promises to the Son and now we see that these promises are kept.
For the Son
He receives the Kingdom and then shares its glory with His people. How gracious this is. He who suffered on Calvary alone, He who trod the winepress alone, is now prepared to share the glory, which has come about by Him alone.
As far as Israel is concerned she will at last enjoy in all its fullness the land which has been promised to her for so long - from as far back as the book of Genesis.
For the earth
The environment of earth will change in the Millennium. The deserts will blossom and harvests will come over and over again in each year. There will be no lack, and even on the tops of the mountains, corn will be found. During the reign of this King the earth will flourish in a way that has never been seen before.
This is the last test to which mankind will be subject. He has been tried in so many ways and has failed. Since the creation, man has been tested in a number of ways. In each test he has failed, and now he is about to be tested again. He will live in perfect conditions and, should he fail, he will be unable to accuse the devil of being responsible, for the devil will be unable to move about this world tempting men and women.
The prelude to the Kingdom
Note the initial events that must take place as the Kingdom is being established. After the great victory over the Beast and the False Prophet there is a work of judgment to be carried out.
The judgment of Israel (Mt 25.1-13; Ezek 20.34-38)
In Ezekiel 20 we read of what will take place as far as the judgment of Israel is concerned. Those dealt with here are the men and women of Israel who are scattered amongst the nations. They will be gathered out of the countries where they are dispersed. The godly will be brought into the bond of the covenant, they will come into the blessing and the good of that, but the godless will not enter the land. Death will overcome the godless on that day.
The judgment of the nations (Mt 25.31-46)
Another judgment, however, will take our attention. This is the judgment of the Gentile nations. This judgment is preceded by the nations of the earth all being gathered before the throne of His glory. As He sits on that throne He separates out the sheep from the goats, as a shepherd would divide them.
Thus the judgment of God which separated the believers from the unrighteous in Israel does exactly the same in the Gentile nations. All unbelievers are therefore removed from the scene.
The Old Testament contains many prophecies that speak of this gathering of Israel back to the Land (Is 27.12-13; 10.20-24; 43.5-6). The north-east and the south-west borders of the land are mentioned by Isaiah, and Israel shall be gathered within her boundaries. The Lord Himself also speaks of this gathering in Matthew 24.31.
The population in the Kingdom
The population of the world at the beginning of the Millennium will be all believers. After the judgments all unbelievers will be gone, and therefore, at the beginning of the Millennium, whether we are dealing with Jew or Gentile, they will all be believers. We should also note that there will be Jew and Gentile on earth at this time. National diversities will still be in place.
Israel as a nation will be distinct, and so will the tribes of Israel. To which tribe they belong is today unknown to the Jew. The land will be divided amongst the tribes, although the distribution of the land will be different from that which took place in the days of Joshua.
There will be Gentile nations on earth also. All these people will go about their daily lives. They will work, they will marry, they will bear children, they will live in their own homes, and they will enjoy an earth in which sin and unrighteousness is not allowed to flourish.
Three things are stated here about the relationship between Israel and the Gentile nations (Is 14.1-3). First, note Israel's attractiveness. Verse 1 tells us that "strangers", that is, Gentiles, will be joined to her. They will not do this unwillingly, but they will cleave to the house of Jacob. Israel will not be the despised nation, which she has been in the past, but will rather be the nation to which the Gentiles wish to join themselves. So attractive will she be that association with her will be a most desirable condition. Second, note Israel's authority. The nations which carried Israel away captive and who enslaved her will become the servants of Israel. Thus we read, "they shall take them captives, whose captives they were" (v.2). Now we must not think that Israel's taking these nations captive means that she will deal with them as captive slaves in a cruel and merciless way! It will be a glorious thing to be the servants of Israel, a most desirable thing to serve as their handmaids (Is 60.4). The Gentiles will acknowledge Jerusalem as the city of the Lord. All nations will bow at the feet of Israel in acknowledgement of her glory and of her dignity. Next we learn of Israel's anxieties. The Lord will give Israel rest from all the anxieties that have troubled her (v.3).
What conditions do they enjoy?
There will be perfect peace on earth. The King who reigns is the Prince of peace and He will not tolerate anything or any action that will destroy that peace. Weapons of war will not be made, nor will any hold them in store.
All will enjoy perfect health (Is 29.18). Disease and illness will no longer blight the lives of men and women.
The question then arises: What will people do in that age? How will they occupy their time? Will it simply be one long holiday? The answer is that work will still be carried out (Is65.21).
In addition to all this Joel tells us of the knowledge that men and women will possess on that day (Joel 2.28). This knowledge of the things of God will be given regardless of sex, for it will be on sons and daughters; it will be regardless of age, for it will be given to old and young; and it will be regardless of station, for it will be given to servants and handmaidens. Ignorance of the things of God will not be known.
The government of the Kingdom
In that day Jerusalem will be the centre of government over the whole earth. The standards of government are given: "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Is 32.1).
After a thousand years of such bountiful blessing God tests those who have enjoyed His provision and care. Millions will have been born since the commencement of His reign. Satan is released (Rev 20.7) and multitudes follow him. Many will have been obeying the Lord reluctantly. The judgment, however, is swift (Rev 20.9), and Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire. Following this the Great White Throne judgment of unbelievers takes place (Rev 20.11).
A new heaven and earth are brought into being and there is ushered in that eternal glory that can never be stained by Satan. Then "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev 21.4).