The Millennium (Part 2)
Why Believe in a Literal Millennium?
A literal millennium is needed to:
- Reward the faithful by giving them authority to reign over the earth with Christ.
But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever… until the Ancient of Days arrived and a judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, for the time had come, and the holy ones took possession of the kingdom… The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey him (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27).
Or don’t you know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the trivial cases? Don’t you know that we will judge angels—how much more matters of this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2–3).
The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations—and he will rule them with an iron scepter; he will shatter them like pottery—just as I have received this from my Father. I will also give him the morning star (Revelation 2:26–28).
Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years… Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4, 6).
- Answer the disciples’ prayer recorded in Luke 11 and Matthew 6. When they prayed, “Your kingdom come,” they were requesting that the long-awaited kingdom would be established. John Phillips writes,
“It has always been God’s purpose to establish a glorious, righteous kingdom here on earth. God anointed Adam to have dominion. Adam, however, surrendered his sovereignty to Satan, so we live in a world where sin and death now reign. Then Jesus came, and the kingdom was offered to Israel, the representative nation, but the Jews rejected the king and worked for His execution at the hands of the Romans. The Lord saw beyond all of that. He saw beyond Calvary to the church age and beyond that to the long-awaited kingdom. God’s kingdom purposes have not been canceled, only postponed (Rom. 9–11). So we continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). And come it will one of these days. In prayer, we are to be occupied with these things.”1
- Redeem creation. Genesis 3 describes a world cursed by God because of sin, while Romans 8 describes a coming time when that curse will be lifted. The Millennium is the only period in history where such a lifting of the curse can be found.
For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now (Romans 8:19-22).
- Reemphasize man’s depravity and the necessity of Christ’s death on the cross. The Millennium will feature one thousand years of perpetual peace and prosperity with Christ ruling from Jerusalem. At the end of this time of peace and prosperity, Satan will be loosed for a short time to demonstrate that the heart of man is indeed black with sin and that even in a perfect environment, unredeemed men will turn against God and rebel. The Millennium is proof positive that Christ’s death is essential for mankind’s salvation.
- Fulfill the biblical covenants. In these covenants, God made specific promises to Israel. He made four unconditional, eternal covenants with Abraham and his descendants: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. None of which have been literally fulfilled yet. Without a literal millennial reign of Christ, these covenants remain incomplete and unfulfilled.
When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up after you your descendant, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will discipline him with a rod of men and blows from mortals. But my faithful love will never leave him as it did when I removed it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and kingdom will endure before me forever, and your throne will be established forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the Brook of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River: the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hethites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites” (Genesis 15:18-21).
This millennium kingdom is the rule of Christ on earth as promised to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16), and it will be inaugurated at the second coming of Christ. The land promise made to Abraham and his descendants will be fulfilled (Genesis 15:18-21), and the promise made to David that his descendant (Messiah) will sit on the throne of the kingdom forever will be fulfilled. Without the Millennium Kingdom, the Abrahamic, Davidic and Palestinian (land) Covenants would go unfulfilled.
The future kingdom of God will have two phases: phase one is the millennial rule of Christ on earth and the second phase will be the eternal state, which will come after the millennial rule of Christ on earth has ended.
In Revelation 20:2-7, we are told that the length of Christ’s literal reign here on earth after the Tribulation and His second advent will be of one thousand years (millennium). The fact that it is mentioned six times in these few number of verses alone clearly implies that this number is to be taken literally. Ryrie explains that,
“The millennium is the period of a thousand years of the visible, earthly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ who after His return from heaven will fulfill during that period the promises contained in the Abrahamic, Davidic and New Covenants to Israel, will bring the whole world to a knowledge of God, and will lift the curse from the whole creation.”2
The Purpose and Meaning of the Millennial Kingdom
The Millennium is the final illustration of the grace of God and man’s need for salvation.
Why is the earthly kingdom necessary? Why does there need to be an earthly kingdom? Because He must be triumphant in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated. His rejection by the rulers of this world was on this earth.
None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).
His exaltation must be on this earth. And so, it will be when He comes again to rule on this earth. Since the fall of Adam and Eve and the handing over of ruling authority to Satan, the Scriptures reveal God’s determination to reestablish His rulership over the earth through the Messiah.
I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery” (Psalm 2:7-9).
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nation will not take up the sword against nation, and they will never again train for war (Isaiah 2:2-4).
For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight will be in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, he will not execute justice by what he hears with his ears, but he will judge the poor righteously and execute justice for the oppressed of the land. He will strike the land with a scepter from his mouth, and he will kill the wicked with a command from his lips. Righteousness will be a belt around his hips; faithfulness will be a belt around his waist (Isaiah 11:1-5)
Additionally, establishing His future kingdom on earth will fulfill many promises given in the Scriptures and clearly demonstrate to all of creation that He alone is the sovereign God. There will also be the fulfillment of the specific covenant to Israel.
Geographic Changes during the Millennium
When Christ returns, several geographic changes will happen to the earth:
- The Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west into a great valley.
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley, so that half the mountain will move to the north and half to the south (Zechariah 14:4).
- Water will flow from Jerusalem both west to the Mediterranean Sea and east to the Dead Sea in both summer and winter.
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea, in summer and winter alike (Zechariah 14:8).
- Jerusalem will be raised.
All the land from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem will be changed into a plain. But Jerusalem will be raised up and will remain on its site from the Benjamin Gate to the place of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. People will live there, and never again will there be a curse of complete destruction. So Jerusalem will dwell in security (Zech. 14:10-11).
- Desserts will blossom with flowers and will be well watered, no longer parched.
The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a wildflower. It will blossom abundantly and will also rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God… Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool, and the thirsty land, springs. In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs, there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus (Isaiah 35:1-2, 6-7).
- Israel will possess all the land God promised her (Genesis 15:18-21), which will include the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River (Ezekiel 47:21-22). Today, that territory includes Lebanon, Syria, parts of Jordan, parts of Iraq, parts of the Sinai Peninsula, present day Israel, and the land currently occupied by the Palestinians. Israel will be divided into three parts. Seven tribes will occupy the northern part (Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah) (Ezekiel 48:1-7). The other five tribes will occupy the southern part (Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad) (Ezekiel 48:23-28). The land in between the north and the south will be set aside as sacred to God (Ezekiel 48:8-22). It will be where the priests live and where the millennial temple will be located (Ezekiel 48:8). Property in Jerusalem will be designated for the prince, presumably David (Ezekiel 48:21-22).
1 John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2005), p. 162.
2 Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis for Premillennial Faith, Op. cit., p. 120.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D. and published by Reasons for Faith International Ministries, Inc. by permission. No part may be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright © 2006-2021 Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.