Entering the Millennium
If you’ve ever been on an Up to Jerusalem tour with The Friends of Israel, you’ve experienced the excitement of a plane-load of people craning their necks for their first glimpse of the Holy Land. Most do not know what to expect when they arrive, but they know they are in for a phenomenal experience. Christians often view the Millennium in the same way. Although shrouded in mystery, it will be unparalleled.
There will be peace and prosperity, mortals and “immortals,” a Millennial Temple, and a reigning Messiah. It will be a glorious time on Earth when God restores the Davidic Kingdom, and Israel takes its rightful place as the spiritual head of the world.
All these things will happen after seven years of tribulation devastate the earth. What will have begun as a worldwide dream of unification will end as a global nightmare, with the Antichrist seizing totalitarian control of everything. Earth will be in chaos, its financial centers destroyed and its cities reduced to rubble. As the Antichrist assembles the armies of the world in the Valley of Megiddo in a last attempt to thwart the establishment of the prophesied Messianic Kingdom (Ps. 2:2–3; Rev. 16:13–16), the heavens will break open, revealing the King of kings and Lord of lords approaching on a white horse (Rev. 19:11).
Rescue and Triumph
With a single word, the Messiah will level the forces against Him in the Valley of Megiddo. Blood will flood the valley. It will be so deep it will reach the bridle of the Messiah’s horse as He leaves the battlefield (Rev. 14:20). The victory won, He will make His way south to Edom to a location especially prepared as a refuge for Israel’s remnant that will refuse to worship the Antichrist (Isa. 63:1; Rev. 12:13–17).
God will provide food and water for the Jewish people there until the end of the Tribulation, which will be the greatest holocaust since the beginning of time (Isa. 33:13–16; Mic. 2:12; Mt. 24:16; Rev. 12:6, 13). After two days of corporate repentance, God will forgive their sin and provide national cleansing (Hos. 6:1–3; Zech. 12:10—13:1, 7–9; Rom. 11:26).
Seeing the visible return of Christ in the heavens to rescue them, they will realize their cry for deliverance has been answered and will embrace their Messiah, whose garment will be stained with blood from the battlefield of Armageddon (Isa. 63:1–6). Shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Ps. 118:26), the Jewish remnant will proceed triumphantly toward Jerusalem, bursting through the cleft in the Mount of Olives, surging across the Kidron Valley, and ascending through the Eastern Gate into the city (Zech. 14:4; Lk. 13:35). As the “redeemed of the Lᴏʀᴅ,” these people will enter the Messianic Kingdom alive in their material, physical bodies to function as the Messiah’s emissaries in the world (Isa. 51:11).
Shortly thereafter, the judgment of the nations, predicted centuries earlier by the Hebrew prophet Joel, will commence (Joel 3:1–17). Like the Jewish remnant, the righteous Gentiles will also enter the Messianic Kingdom in their physical bodies (Mt. 25:37–41). (See “The Gentile Sheep and Goats.”)
At the onset of the Millennium, the Messiah will rebuild Jerusalem on a reconfigured, posttribulational landscape. A forceful tectonic upthrust will have elevated the area to form a plateau some 50 miles square (Isa. 2:2–4; Mic. 4:1–2). On the northern end of the plateau will be the earthly city of Jerusalem, 10 miles square and housing the center of government for the Messianic Kingdom, with the Millennial Temple at the heart of the city (Ezek. 48:1–28). (The rebuilt city of Jerusalem should not be confused with the New Jerusalem that descends from heaven after the creation of the new heaven and Earth, cf. Rev. 21:2, 10.)
Those living on Earth will enjoy the fulfilled promises of the Messianic Kingdom embodied in all of the unilateral covenants God made with Israel; it will be the final dispensation of history. The Messiah’s rule will provide peace, prosperity, and righteousness. Not only will there be no war, but all species of animals will coexist harmoniously; and humans will no longer be threatened by predatory or venomous creatures (Isa. 11: 6–9). The world will be restored to its pre-fall condition, and mankind will enjoy longevity far beyond what it experiences today (65:20).
Messiah and the Saints
In addition to those entering the Messianic Kingdom in their physical bodies, there will be others who will not be confined to the limitations of mortal beings. The Bible says that, when Messiah approaches Earth, He will be followed by “the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean…on white horses” (Rev. 19:14). At first glance, it may appear that this multitude is the angelic host. Although Scripture does not discount the presence of angels in the event, angels are not identified with this host wearing bright white linen—the garments of the redeemed.1
Earlier, the apostle John described the Bride of Christ: “To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (v. 8). Some seven years earlier, the church was raptured to meet the Lord in the air. Upon hearing the Lord’s shout accompanied by the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, the dead in Christ immediately rose from their graves, joined a split second later by Christians who were still alive (1 Th. 4:16–17). In a fraction of a second, their bodies were transformed into glorified bodies fitted for the demands of eternal life in God’s presence (1 Cor. 15:52).
These glorified saints will return with the Messiah to witness His triumph over the evil world system, and they will go on to rule with Him in the Messianic Kingdom.
After the Messiah defeats the world’s armies, but before He establishes the Messianic Kingdom, the simultaneous resurrection of Tribulation and Old Testament saints will occur (Dan. 12:2; Rev. 20:4). Like Church Age saints, they will be resurrected and given glorified bodies. Unlike those who survive the Tribulation and the Millennial Age in their mortal bodies, Tribulation, Old Testament, and Church Age believers will all have glorified, immortal bodies that will not be limited to the earthly realm.2
Joining with “just men made perfect” (Old Testament saints) and “an innumerable company of angels” (a description of holy angels), the church will enjoy a permanent dwelling place in the New Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22–23). With bodies not bound by time or space, saints in the Millennium will have instantaneous access to Earth and the ability to interact with the mortal inhabitants of the Messianic Kingdom (Jn. 20:19; 1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Jn. 3:2). For the first time in history, mortals living on Earth will mingle with people who have resurrected, glorified bodies.
Today every level of creation groans for the climax of Earth’s history and the peace, tranquility, and righteousness associated with the Messiah’s 1,000-year reign. Our anticipation of a world where every system on the planet is under the Messiah’s direct control is truly mind boggling.
The Bible is our window into the future Millennial Kingdom. And though we may not have been given every detail about this incomparable period of history, one thing is certain: It’ll be great!
- Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8—22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 388.
- John F. Walvoord, “The Doctrine of the Millennium Part IV: The Heavenly Jerusalem,” Bibleotheca Sacra <galaxie.com/article/4186>.