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An Introduction to Bible Prophecy (7): The Millennium

J Hay, Comrie

When the Lord has ended the Tribulation by His appearing, He will establish His Kingdom in this world for one thousand years. The phrase "a thousand years" or "the thousand years" is used six times in Revelation 20, and hence we call that period of time the Millennium. Scripture has decreed, "He must reign" (1 Cor 15.25).

A Literal Kingdom

Daniel 2 contains a prophecy that spans an era described by the Lord Jesus as "the times of the Gentiles" (Lk 21.24). During that time great Gentile empires dominate the political landscape. That period will "be fulfilled", that is, it will be brought to an end, and this is described pictorially in Daniel 2. "A stone…cut out without hands" smashes the image that depicts these great empires (v.34) and becomes "a great mountain" that fills "the whole earth" (v.35). The image portrays four Gentile kingdoms from Babylon to Rome, but the stone and mountain are explained like this: "The God of heaven (shall) set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed" (v.44). If the other empires are literal kingdoms controlling their territory for their divinely allotted span, it is only logical to interpret God’s Kingdom in the same manner, an administration that will govern the world in a literal and physical way.

Presently the Lord Jesus does exercise control over the lives of His people, and His realm is spiritual in character, a Kingdom into which we were introduced at conversion (Col 1.13). But that does not militate against the concept of literal divine government in this world in a day to come. The Scriptures nowhere predict that preaching the gospel will imperceptibly push back the frontiers of evil and effect a gradual acceptance of Christ until He is acknowledged universally. Rather, He will impose His authority dramatically and instantaneously by what we call military power (Rev 19.11-21), and rule "with a rod of iron" (v.15). "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever" (Lk 1.32-33), a statement that is hard to interpret in any way but literally.

Satan Bound

During the Millennium, Satan will be bound and incarcerated in the bottomless pit (Rev 20.1-3). He is described in four ways in v.2, indicative of his cruelty and subtlety, his slanderous character and his incorrigible opposition to God and His people. These have been permanent features in human history, kindled and stoked by the evil one; during the golden era, in his absence, they will be virtually non-existent.

Some believe that the devil is bound presently, and that what the Bible speaks of as a thousand years is a figurative term for an undefined lengthy period of time. They see it as this present age during which the gospel is being preached and souls are being delivered from satanic dominion. A surface objection to that view is that to suggest that Satan is bound is far from true to life and contrary to the Bible’s teaching about his present freedom of movement and his belligerence towards believers (1 Pet 5.8).

Moral Features of the Kingdom

Melchisedec stands as a major type of the Lord Jesus, and his very name is of great significance - "king of Righteousness" (Heb 7.1-2). Righteousness will be a key aspect of the administration of the Lord Jesus. "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Is 32.1). The topsy-turvy standards of the world will be readjusted (v.5). "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins" (Is 11.5). There will never be miscarriages of justice (v.3), and discrimination will be unknown. The regime will show no favours to the rich and powerful; the poor and the meek will be treated in an even-handed way. Since the inception of human government, corruption, graft and nepotism have been endemic. Summarising the integrity of His rule Scripture says, "A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom" (Heb 1.8).

Another feature of His reign will be peace, illustrated once more from Melchisedec, "King of Salem, which is, King of peace" (Heb 7.2). The first act of aggression was as early as Genesis 4.8, and later a trend to glamorise violence emerged (v.23). By ch.14 there was more general warfare, and ever since the pages of human history have been stained with blood. That will be brought to an end when He reigns. Scripture predicts that "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Is 2.4; Micah 4.3). The tranquillity that will exist is epitomised by the picture of "every man (sitting) under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4.4). Micah envisages an idyllic rural scene, but what about city life, presently such a dangerous environment? City streets will hold no fears for the "old men and old women". "Boys and girls" will happily use them as a playground. Society’s vulnerable groups, the old and the young, will be absolutely comfortable in busy urban surroundings (Zech 8.4-5).

The peace that will settle over the planet will extend to the animal kingdom. Wolves, leopards, lions and bears will co-exist happily with lambs, kids, calves, fatlings and cows. Even children will be able to control them, and the youngest of infants will have no fear of once poisonous reptiles. No longer will there be the predator and the prey; the carnivores will have become vegetarian (Is 11.6-9; 65.25). This is creation being "delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Rom 8.21); it is "the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3.21).

Health and Prosperity

Evidently, death and disease will not be completely eradicated during the Millennium for "the child shall die an hundred years old" (Is 65.20). However, infant mortality will be nonexistent, and anyone dying at a hundred years old will be regarded as having died young; longevity will be the norm.

Disabilities will be unusual, for "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Is 35.5-6).

The mention of "the poor" and "the meek of the earth" (Is 11.4) seems to indicate that the familiar strata of society will still be in place during the Millennium. However, real hardship will be history because of high agricultural yields. "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains" (Ps 72.16). "The plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt" (Amos 9.13). Even the great dust bowls of the world will become fertile with "streams in the desert. And the parched ground…(becoming) a pool" (Is 35.6-7; see also 41.18-20). Not only will there be fruitfulness, but fragrance, when "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (Is 35.1).

Since the fall, mankind has had to battle against the effects of the curse in order to produce a harvest, but then the fight will be over, for "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree" (Is 55.13). Climate, be it drought, flood, frost or wind, has often robbed men of their crops. On occasions blight or locusts have curtailed the yield. In that day "they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them…They shall not labour in vain" (Is 65.21-23).

The Last Revolt

Everyone who enters the millennial Kingdom will be one of God’s people, but subsequently multitudes will be born, a veritable population explosion. Salvation has never run in the blood (Jn 1.13), and the Kingdom period will be no exception. Everyone born then will have to decide personally about the King, and be willing to acknowledge Him. These are the "people that shall be born" of Psalm 22.31, and to them it will be declared "that he hath done this". In other words, the message of the cross will still be preached during the Millennium, and those born during that time will trust or reject the King. In heart, huge numbers will reject Him. Openly but grudgingly they will acknowledge His authority. For them, His righteous administration and His stringent moral standards will be most irksome. When Satan is released from the bottomless pit at the end of the thousand years, he will find these hearts to be fertile soil in which to sow the seeds of rebellion. They will be "devoured" by "fire…out of heaven" (Rev 20.9). The golden age will be over, the last chapter of time written, the devil will be cast into the lake of fire, the stage now set for the final judgment and the dissolution of the heavens and the earth.

To be continued.


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