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The Millennial Reign of Christ - Part 1

John Hoole October 27, 2002

250 years ago, Isaac Watts wrote a song that most of you know from memory. We sing it at Christmastime. And yet, its words do not relate the Christmas story. When Isaac Watts wrote it, he did not have Christ's first coming in mind. However, its word are a beautiful depiction of His second coming, and the reign of Christ that follows.

DO YOU KNOW WHICH CHRISTMAS SONG THIS MIGHT BE?

As I give you the words to this song, see if they talk about the future reign of Christ or His birth in Bethlehem.

"Joy to the world! The Lord is Come! Let earth receiver her King."

If those were the only words, they could apply to either his birth or his return.

"No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found."

There should be no doubt that these words are a description of Christ's millennial reign. It is only then that the curse proclaimed by God in the Garden of Eden will end.

"He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove,
The glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love."

Christ did not promise that peace would follow his first coming. Rather, it will come after his Second Coming. "Joy to the World" is a song of the Millennium. Its words tell of a time when full peace and joy will finally come to this world. It is only after Christ comes as the Prince of Peace that the curse will be replaced with blessing. Only then will thorns cease to create a nuisance. Only then will the nations extol the glories of his righteousness.

Our generation, and all who have lived before us, have dreamed of a perfect world. A place where everyone will live together in peace and harmony. Each generation has worked to that end, only to see it slip further from their grasp.

When the United Nations was established by charter on October 24, 1945, the leaders of the world hoped it would help to end wars like World War II. They were so hopeful that they had the following words from the Old Testament prophets inscribed on their building in New York.

"They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nations, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3)

Despite 67 years of effort, the UN has not been able to teach the nations to beat their swords into plowshares nor their spears into pruning hooks. Nation has lifted up sword against nation, and they continue to eagerly learn war.

There is nothing wrong with their message. The problem is that neither the United Nations nor any other merely human organization will be able to bring in the peace envisioned by Isaiah and Micah. The thinking has usually been that this utopian era would be brought about by the improved knowledge or technology of man himself.

There is indeed a day coming in which the world will experience universal peace. It will be a utopian era where people will live together in harmony. But it will not come through merely human efforts. Neither will it come through the efforts of the Church. Peace only comes when the Prince of Peace returns to this world. God will intervene personally.

No one will doubt that the world desperately needs peace and happiness. For six thousand years, man has tried to govern himself and has failed miserably. Every style of government has been tried, not to mention the countless human laws that have been formulated in the process. All have proved incapable of bringing peace to the human race.

But all this will change when the millennial reign of Christ begins. For the first time in human history, the world will see a successful world government.

So, where in the Bible do we find information concerning this period of 1,000 years?

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV) predicts both the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ.

6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given [that's the first coming]; and the government will be upon His shoulder [that's the second coming & millennium]. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 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. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Verse 7 speaks about a future government where justice will prevail. The first fact we need to know about the millennium is that it is a "reign." And a "reign" involves a King, territory, peoples, laws, judges, administrators and officials of all kinds.

The subject of the millennium involves Jesus, its King, as well as those to whom He will delegate authority.

From a divine point of view, Christ is the creator of all things, and, therefore, deserves to be the King of kings and Lord of lords. From an human point of view, Christ is a descendant of David, and thus is a rightful heir to David's throne.

Let's look quickly at a few more Scriptures that speak of the millennial reign of Christ.

Jeremiah 23:5 NIV

5 "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.

Luke 1:31-33 (NIV) adds credence to the fact that this is speaking of Christ.

31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

WHAT WILL THE REIGN OF CHRIST BE LIKE?

TELL ME ALL YOU CAN ABOUT CONDITIONS AND PEOPLE DURING THE MILLENNIUM?

WHAT WILL BE THE PHYSICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND RELATIONAL ASPECTS OF THE MILLENNIUM.

We will look at millennial conditions and its people in detail later. Before we go there, have you ever wondered about the coming "1,000 years."

o Have you ever wondered what you are going to look like?

o Who all will be here during the Millennium?

o Will we see the past saints?

o What will be our relationship to millions of non-glorified people still alive after Armageddon?

o Will there be births and deaths during the 1,000 years?

o Will all the saints be the same age?

o Will we just rest and play our harps?

o Will we ever visit other planets?

o What will our day-to-day life be like?

o Will there be a longer lifespan for mortal living during the millennium?

o Why will it last only 1,000 years?

o Since there are both glorified saints and ordinary humans alive during this period, what will worship of God be like?

WHERE IN THE BIBLE ARE WE TOLD THE LENGTH OF CHRIST'S REIGN WILL BE 1,000 YEARS?

Revelation 20:1-7 (NIV) gives us the length of Christ's reign. Each verse following the first mentions the length to be 1,000 years.

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison

Although this is the only passage of Scripture which tells us the length, the manner this phrase is used makes it unmistakably a literal 1,000 years. The length of this period is mentioned six times, and each time it is with reference to a distinct feature of this period.

In verse 2: It refers to the length of time Satan will be bound.

In verse 3: It refers to the time nations will not be deceived by Satan.

In verse 4: It refers to the length of time martyred saints will reign with Christ.

In verse 5: It refers to the time during which the "rest of the dead" (i.e., the wicked dead) will wait until their resurrection.>

In verse 6: It refers to the time when those who rise in the first resurrection will reign with Christ.

In verse 7: reference is made to the time which will elapse before Satan will again be loosed from his confinement in the bottomless pit.

It is here that I take great exception with most amillennialists and postmillennialists. Both deny that this Passage speaks of a literal 1,000 years. They hold that the reference to 1,000 years is understood symbolically to refer to an indefinite period of time. And yet,….these same scholars believe that other elements from this passage in Revelation 20 are to be taken literally. In other words, references to things like: the resurrection, Satan, heaven, the angels, binding of Satan are taken literally.

Like the word "rapture", the word Millennium is not found in the Bible. And yet, the concept and events to which they refer certainly can be found in the Bible.

A little boy once asked his father, "What is the Millennium?' His father replied, "Don't you know what a millennium is? It's just like a centennial, only it's go more legs." I'm sure that really helped his son.

SO WHERE DOES THE WORD "MILLENNIUM" COME FROM?

The word "millennium" is derived from to Latin words.

Mille - which means 1,000.

Annum - which means year.

Thus, the word "millennium" means 1,000 years.

In the past 6,000 years, man has not, for the most part, given to God the recognition that is due him. For this reason, the great potential blessings of God available to mankind have never been fully realized. During the millennium, we will see, in part, what might have been if Adam and Eve had never sinned. The physical conditions they enjoyed were clearly to their advantage. Most of all, there was a close fellowship with God.

But sin did its terrible damage and a breach occurred between God and mankind. Disharmony and strife became the norm, rather than peace and tranquility. Under the personal reign of Christ, who will be the perfect King, what might have been in the beginning, will actually become a reality.

There are literally hundreds of passages in both the Old and New Testaments, which relate different aspects of Christ's coming kingdom. Let's look at just a few.

During our study of "The Antichrist and his kingdom", we looked closely at a couple passages in the Book of Daniel. In Daniel 2, we looked at the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed. In Daniel 7, we look at a vision God gave to Daniel.

WHO CAN TELL ME THE SUBSTANTIVE PARTS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR'S DREAM IN DANIEL 2?

In Daniel's 2, Nebuchadnezzar's dream involved a colossal image. This image had:

• a head of gold,

• an chest and arms of silver,

• a belly and thigh of brass,

• legs made of iron,

• and toes of part iron and part clay.

Daniel gives Nebuchadnezzar the interpretation of the dream. It is a dream about successive world kingdoms, beginning with Babylon, which was represented by the head of gold.

Now let me take you to Daniel 2:31-34 (NIV) once again, and listen to what Daniel tells the king.

31 "You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue-an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance.
32 The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze,
33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.
34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.

In verses 36 to 43, you can read Daniel interpretation of the dream.

Before leaving this passage, notice verses 34.

During our lesson on the Antichrist, we did not mention much about this stone that strikes the image at its feet. Now is the appropriate time to discuss this verse and its interpretation, and add verse 35 as we read it again.

Daniel 2:34-35 NIV

34 While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.
35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

WHAT IS THIS ROCK THAT SMITES THE FEET OF THE IMAGE AND GROWS TO FILL THE ENTIRE EARTH?

In a moment we will look at verses 44 & 45, in which Daniels gives the interpretation of what this stone represents. A moment ago, I mentioned that Daniel's interpretation shows that the parts of Nebuchadnezzar's colossal image represent successive world kingdoms, starting with Babylon.

If we are to be consistent, this boulder that destroys all earthly kingdoms must also be a kingdom. And, indeed, it is. Now, let's look at Daniel's interpretation about this stone.

Daniel 2:44-45 NIV

44 "In the time of those kings, [the kings represented by the 10 toes] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.
45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands - a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces
.

First, notice that the kingdom represented by the stone takes over the entire earth as it grows into a huge mountain. That tells us that this final kingdom will be worldwide. The imagery here of a mountain is in keeping with Micah 4:1-2 (NIV).

1 In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

This is echoed in Isaiah 2:2-3, which is word-for-word the same as Micah 4:1-2.

Now, let's review the vision God gives to Daniel that is recorded in chapter 7. Unlike the colossal image dreamed by Nebuchadnezzar, this vision depicts the same sequence of successive earthly kingdom and depicts each as a different beast.

Daniel 7:24-27 NIV

24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.

From our studies, we know this ruler that speaks against the Most High is the Antichrist. He will reign for the last 3½ years of the Tribulation leading to the Battle of Armageddon.

26 "`But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.
27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him."

Once again, like we saw in Daniel 2, the kingdoms of this earth will be replaced by a righteous kingdom. In Daniel 7, three times we are told that the kingdom will be given to the saints of the Most High -- in verses 18, 22 & here in verse 27.

All of what we see here in the book of Daniel is in keeping with what we have already studied in Revelation 19 about the Second Coming of Christ. The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be put out of business, and will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20)

THE LENGTH OF CHRIST'S REIGN

Already this morning, we have looked at a number of passages that indicate the reign of Christ is without end.

In Daniel 2:44, we are told that the "kingdom will last forever."

In Daniel 7:27, we read that Christ's kingdom "will be an everlasting kingdom."

Earlier, we read Isaiah 9:7, which says, "of his kingdom and peace there is no end."

These verses raise an obvious question.

HOW CAN THE MILLENNIUM BE ONLY 1,000 YEARS IF GOD'S KINGDOM IS ETERNAL?

HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THAT QUESTION?

The best way to reconcile this apparent conflict is to recognize that both of these statements are true. Christ will rule over His kingdom on earth for 1,000 years….and He will reign forever.

The future kingdom has two parts or phases.

Phase One: is the reign of Christ on earth. (Revelation 20:1-6)

Phase Two: is the eternal state (Revelation 22:5)

As I once heard it described, the Millennium is the front porch of eternity. The earthly aspect of the kingdom, with Christ ruling from Jerusalem, will last only the limited time of 1,000 years. But the Kingdom of God will continue forever. The millennium is a physical, earthly demonstration of the kingdom of God.

CHRIST WILL DELEGATE HIS AUTHORITY

In two of the passages we have read already, we learned that Christ will delegate his rulership to others. We read in Daniel 7, that "the kingdom will be given to the saints of the Most High." We saw something very similar when we read Revelation 20:6.

There are a number of passages that tell us that when Christ reigns, He does not rule alone. He alone is the Supreme King of Kings. But He has chosen to delegate the rule of the people of this world to others.

WHO SPECIFICALLY WILL RULE WITH CHRIST?

There are a number of Scriptures which specifically spell out who will be given delegated authority to rule with Christ. In other cases, the rule of some is implied. We will talk about these in just a few minutes. First, let's begin with those specifically mentioned as ruling with Christ.

1. Tribulation Saints

Revelation 20:4 NIV

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

This verse is specifically speaking of those who had been martyred during the Tribulation period, and paid the ultimate sacrifice - martyrdom - for their commitment to Christ. This passage has in mind those mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11, which speaks of an innumerable number who decide to follow Christ during the Tribulation

2. The Apostles

Matthew 19:27-28 NIV

27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is also mentioned in Luke 22:30. Presumably, this indicates one apostle ruling over each of the 12 tribes.

3. Judges, as in the Old Testament

Isaiah 1:26-27 NIV

26 I will restore your judges as in days of old, your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City."
27 Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness
.

He says that the position of the judges will be reestablished, and they will be part of those who will represent the King to the people.

1 Corinthians 6:2 NIV adds to the thought about the function of the judges.

2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?

4. The Church

Luke 19:17 NIV

17 "Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities."

Revelation 2:26-27 NIV

26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations- 27 `He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' - just as I have received authority from my Father.

Thus far, we are told, specifically, who is going to reign with Christ.

o Tribulation Saints

o The Apostles

o The Judges

o The Church

ARE THERE ANY OTHERS MENTIONED WHO WILL REIGN WITH CHRIST?

WHO HAS BEEN LEFT OUT?

A number of passages imply that the saints of all ages will reign with Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10 NIV

9 And they sang a new song: "You [Christ] are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

This indicates that all who have been redeemed by the blood will reign with Christ.

A couple of passages from the Old Testament imply the saints of that era will reign.

Daniel 7:27 NIV

27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.

Psalms 47:2-3 NIV

2 How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
3 He shall subdue nations under us, peoples under our feet
.

Clearly, these passage are speaking of Old Testament saints.

Earlier we read Revelation 20:4, (NIV) which told us that the Tribulation saints will reign with Christ.

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Let's take a closer look at this verse. Two groups of people are mentioned. The first group is represented by the first sentence: "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge." This group is not identified as to who they are, at least, not here. The rest of the verse addresses another group. And the rest of the verse is speaking about the Tribulation martyrs.

Two verses later, we find this thought of others reigning with Christ reiterated, but two new phrases are added, which provide additional information.

Revelation 20:6 NIV

6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The first additional thought that I want you to notice here in verse 6 is an expansion of what was stated in verse 4. In verse 4, John speaks of those who had been beheaded for their testimony. In verse 6, it is expanded to all who have a part in the first resurrection.

WHAT IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION?

The first thing to note from this verse, is that the second death has no power over those who are part of the 1st resurrection. He is speaking of all those who have been raised to immortality. Most evangelical Bible scholars believe the first resurrection includes all the resurrections occurring prior to the beginning of the millennium. This would include:

o Christ, who, according to 1 Corinthians 15:20, is "the firstfruit of those who have died."

o Those resurrected immediately after Christ's resurrection - Matthew 27:52-53.

o The saints of the church-age at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

o The 2 Witnesses in Revelation 11:3-13.

o Old Testament Saints (Daniel 12:1-2)

o Tribulation martyrs (Revelation 20:4)

These are all resurrected to immortality, and are thus part of the first resurrection.

If we accept that all of these are part of the first resurrection, then Revelation 20:6 tells us they all will reign with Christ for 1,000 years. This is corroborated in Revelation 22:5, where we are told all saints will reign with Christ forever. Two verses earlier (22:3), these saints are referred to as the all the servants of the Lam.

From the above, it appears that all resurrected and/or raptured saints will reign with Christ.

   
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