On earth, the metropolis of the Man of Sin falls with all its commercial and economic implications. In heaven, the marriage of Christ and His Church is enacted. The heavens are opened and Christ is seen as the Warrior-King heading earthwards to exterminate his enemies and establish His empire. Between this event and the Great White Throne judgment, John makes mention on six occasions of a period of one thousand years, that is, the Millennium (Rev 20.2-7). At last, the prayer which the Lord taught to His disciples is answered - "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Mt 6.10).
Detailed descriptions of this era are to be found in the Old Testament. This is hardly surprising as it is Israels Messiah who returns to set up His earthly Kingdom. The New Testament is primarily occupied with the Church whose blessings are heavenly. Nevertheless, other New Testament passages confirm the occurrence.
"The regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory" (Mt 19.28).
"Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3.21).
"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Eph 1.10).
The faithfulness of God to His Word demands a literal fulfilment of the promises of God to Abraham and the prophecies of God through His servants the prophets which are found throughout the Old Testament. Indeed, the history of salvation itself demands a period such as the Millennium: God will vindicate His Son publicly in the very place where mankind crucified Him and put Him to an open shame. At least seven distinctive features mark this millennial era.
The Restraint of Satan
His captor, custody, and confinement
This final dispensation will see Christ on the throne and Satan in the pit! John in writing the book of the Revelation tells us of Satans captor - an angel with the "key" of the abyss and "a great chain" (20.1-3). The events of ch.20 are to be taken literally, but the key and chains are descriptive terms, with which we are familiar, to help us visualise the scene. Satan will be restrained and relegated to the abyss for the duration of the Millennium. He is not only bound and banished, but is branded when the angel will "set a seal upon him" before he is released for "a little season" after which he is cast into the lake of fire.
A world freed from the deception of Satan still commits sins. We cannot simply blame Satan alone, for sin is seen to originate in the human heart. Nonetheless, what a wonderful difference it will be to live in a world without the notorious devil and his nefarious demons.
The Reign of Christ
The Wonder of His Presence
Isaiah 9.6-7 reminds us that "the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end". He is the "seed" of the woman (Gen 3.15), the "Shiloh" of Genesis (49.10), the "Star" and "Sceptre" of Numbers (24.17), the "stone" of Daniel (2.34,35,45), and the "Sun of righteousness" of Malachi (4.2).
His presence brings:
(i) Unity to His People (Ezek 37.15 ff)
Ezekiel performs a parable. He takes the stick or rod of Judah and that of Joseph, picturing a nation divided into two and ten tribes. He makes them "one" by hiding the join in his hand. The kingdom was broken into two by Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Solomons successors. The ten tribes of Israel were captured by Assyria and later the two tribes were conquered by Babylon. They have not been united since Solomons days. A "greater than Solomon" (Mt 12.42; Lk 11.31) will reunite the twelve tribes as symbolised by Ezekiel who records Gods statement: "neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all" (Ezek 37.22). The prophecy of Zechariah that "the brotherhood between Judah and Israel" would be broken (11.14) will be at last reversed and the nation will be united under Christ their Shepherd-King.
(ii) Universal Peace (Lk 2.14; Is 32.17-18)
Christ is the Prince of Peace (Is 9.6). His capital city, Jerusalem, is the city of peace. The angelic annunciation to the shepherds on the Judæan hillsides will be fulfilled: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men". The words of Isaiah will be fulfilled: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places".
(iii) The Unction of the Spirit (Is 11.2)
"And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Each dispensation experiences the work of the Godhead. However, in each one person of the Godhead seems to be more prominent than the others. In the Old Testament the Father is to the fore; in the Gospel narratives Christ is foremost; during the Church era the Holy Spirit is prominent - but in the Millennium Christ has the position of prominence. Yet we find the Holy Spirit in relation to Christ in Isaiah 11, then in relation to the world and Israel when the Spirit is poured out on all flesh.
(iv) The Unification of the Offices of Priest and King (Zech 6.11-13)
"He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both."
The combination of the offices of king and priest has been tried but they are reserved by God for One only, namely, the Christ. Nimrod sought to combine the offices of king and priest when Babel was built. God, however, said, "Let us go down, and there confound their language" (Gen 11.7), causing them to leave off building the city. In Isaiahs day King Uzziah intruded upon the Temple and the priests office with the intent of burning incense on the golden altar in the holy place. God smote him in the forehead with leprosy (2 Chr 26.16-21).
The only person to combine both offices in himself was Melchisedek. He is spoken of historically in Genesis 14, prophetically in Psalm 110, and doctrinally in Hebrews 7. He is presented as a type of the eternal Son of God. He is declared to be king of righteousness and king of peace but also that he "abideth a priest continually" (Heb 7.3). This was permitted of God as Christ could not be a priest after the order of Aaron. He was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi, but was "a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek" (Heb 7.17) i.e., a King-Priest.
(v) The Unveiling of His Glory (Lk 9.29; 2 Pet 1.16-18)
Peter, James and John beheld a cameo of the Lord as King on the Mount of Transfiguration. Against the backdrop of the night the Lord shone resplendent in His glory eclipsing even such notables of earth as Moses and Elijah. Peter later spoke of this as "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ", and again he records that they were "eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory". During his millennial reign Christ will display His glory. At His first advent it was veiled, at His second it will be viewed by all.
To be continued.