The Gentiles in the Kingdom
When the average Christian studies the millennial reign of Christ, it is usually from the perspective of the literal person of the Messiah ruling over the earth from Jerusalem for one thousand years. In all probability, none of the other participants in the Millennial Kingdom are considered. This article deals with one group of participants in that Kingdom, the Gentiles.
In chapters 2 and 7 of his prophecy, Daniel said much about the world domination of the Gentile powers. In chapter 2, he spoke of the four great Gentile world powers that would influence Israel. He concluded the passage with this statement: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).
This leads to the conclusion that many of the Gentile nations will be destroyed. The kingdom that will assume final leadership of the earth will be that of the “stone … cut out without hands,” or the Messiah (Dan. 2:34–35).
Daniel chapter 7 focuses on the same theme as chapter 2, but from a different perspective: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (Dan. 7:27).
This passage carries the concept of chapter 2 a step further, pointing out that although the Messiah will be an absolute potentate in the Millennial Kingdom, the saints of the Most High will also hold positions of leadership. Many, of those saints will be Gentiles, and all Gentile nations will be under Christ’s control.
The Ruler of the Millennial Kingdom
The one who is the ultimate sovereign of the universe—the Savior, the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ—will be the absolute ruler, governing the earth from Jerusalem. When He returns to the earth in His glorious Second Coming, He will defend the Jewish people and defeat all the Gentile armies of the earth that have fought in the Armageddon campaign: “And it shall come to pass, in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations [Gentiles] that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9). After the fall of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1–2), “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).
It appears that the armies of the Gentile nations will be wiped out in the Armageddon campaign as the Lord Himself does battle with the troops of those nations. However although the armies of the Gentile nations will be totally decimated, the citizenry back home will not be destroyed.
Who Will Go Into the Millennial Kingdom?
The Raptured Church
When Jesus returns to the earth at His Second Coming, following the Tribulation period, He will bring others with Him from Heaven: “And the armies that were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev. 19:14).
Who are the ones who make up “the armies”? They will be the raptured believers of the Church age, who will return to the earth in their glorified bodies to rule and reign with Christ (Rev. 1:6). This great company will be made up of Jews and Gentiles, although probably far more of the latter than the former.
The Old Testament and Tribulation-Martyred Saints
Many of these will be Jewish believers and/or Gentile proselytes to Judaism. They will enter the Kingdom in their glorified bodies, just as the raptured Church will.
Believers Who Are Alive at the End of the Tribulation
Some hold the position that no one will be saved during the Tribulation period, but the Scriptures teach that a great multitude will come to the Lord during the Tribulation. This will come about as a result of several factors. Certainly there will be “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Th. 2:11) because the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will be removed. But, in reality, His ministry will not be completely gone; it will revert to what it was in the Old Testament economy, when He came upon individuals (i.e., Saul, David, and others).
The two witnesses will give testimony to the world during the Tribulation period (Rev. 11:3–7), and the 144,000 Jews of Revelation 7:4–8 will actively witness to the world as well. Also, an angel will “fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:6–7)“
Finally, it is most probable that the written Word of God will still be in existence. Gentiles may come to the Lord as a result of reading it.
All people who come to the Lord during the Tribulation and who are not martyred for their faith will enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies. Therefore, during the Millennium there will be people present in their glorified (raptured) bodies and others in their natural bodies. The Scriptures also seem to indicate that at the Second Coming of Christ, unbelievers will be cast off the earth (Mt. 24:31–25:46); therefore, all those entering the Millennial Kingdom will be believers, all of whom will gain entrance by virtue of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 25 mentions several groups of people who will enter the Millennial Kingdom, one of which is the Gentiles. Verses 31 to 46 detail the separation of the “sheep” and the “goats”: “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (vv. 33–34). Why are these people called “sheep,” and why are they permitted to enter the Kingdom?
Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto, one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (v. 40). His “brethren” are the Jews, and the “sheep” who will enter the Kingdom are Gentiles who will befriend the Jews during the horrible “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Although salvation is not obtained by works, the Lord acknowledged that during the Tribulation period, only true believers in Christ will befriend the persecuted Jews. People comforting the Jews during this period may lose their lives, and the only ones who will do so will be true Gentile Christians.
Life for the Gentiles Living in the Millennial Kingdom
Worship Will Be in the Temple
On some occasions, the Gentiles will worship at the Millennial Temple in Jerusalem, as detailed in Isaiah 56:6-7: “Also the sons of the foreigner, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peoples.”
In that period, the Temple will not be just for the Jewish people but for all people: “And it shall come to pass that, from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” (Isa. 66:23).
Gentiles Will Keep the Feast of Tabernacles
“And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16).
As mentioned previously, although the armies of the earth will be destroyed at the Second Coming of Christ, the people of those nations will not be wiped out. However, they will be obligated to observe the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, or the Lord will withhold rain from them (Zech. 14:17). In an agricultural economy, that would be disastrous.
Gentiles Will Change Their Attitude Toward Jews
Most Gentiles give the Jewish people a fairly wide berth, often avoiding them completely. But the Scriptures say, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23).
The Gentiles will recognize that the hand of God is uniquely upon the Jews. The Davidic and New Covenants will be in effect, and the Jews will enjoy certain benefits not afforded to the Gentiles. Therefore, the Gentiles will cling to their Jewish friends, seeking to share the special blessings afforded to them.
Gentiles Will Have Positions of Leadership
Two of Jesus’ parables indicate that Gentiles will be leaders in the Millennial Kingdom. The first is the parable of the talents, recorded in Matthew 25:14–30. Before leaving on a long trip, a man gave one of his servants five talents, a second servant two talents, and a third servant one talent. The first two servants wisely invested what had been entrusted to them by their master, while the third servant buried his talent. When the master returned, he promised the first two servants that they would be rulers over many things. The third servant he sternly rebuked. Because this parable was given in the context of the Lord’s Second Coming, we can conclude that one aspect of the rewards to believing Gentiles will be rulership with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom.
In Luke 19:11–24, the Lord told a similar parable: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (v. 12). He too entrusted funds to three servants, telling them to “Occupy till I come” (v. 13). When he returned, “having received the kingdom” (v. 15), he gave to his two faithful servants authority over cities. It is therefore evident that Gentiles will rule over certain areas during the Millennial Kingdom, based upon a system of rewards known only to our Lord.
This prospect should certainly make us aware of the need to faithfully honor and serve the Lord in this life, which will affect our lives and position during the Millennium.
Some Gentile Countries In the Millennial Kingdom
There are two prophecies concerning Egypt in the end times. The first is found in Ezekiel 29, where the Lord foretold extreme difficulties for this nation. It will be judged and dispersed because of its cruel treatment of Israel (Ezek. 29:3–8). Furthermore, the land of Egypt will lie totally barren for 40 years but will recover and eventually experience conversion to the Lord (Ezek. 29:13–16).
Also, Isaiah 19:23–25 describes a millennial highway from Egypt to Assyria (probably the old Via Maris). At that time the Egyptians will turn to the Lord and be called the people of the Lord. What a day that will be!
Babylon and Edom
These two Gentile nations have vehemently opposed and persecuted Israel throughout history; therefore, Babylon will be destroyed (Jer. 51:41–43, 49, 53–56), and Edom will be crushed for their sins against God’s Chosen People (Isa. 34:8–15). God will deal with these Gentile nations as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah.
At the Second Coming of Jesus to begin His millennial reign, major changes will take place on the earth. Gentile believers will not only live in the Millennial Kingdom, but they will rule with Christ. They will experience God’s blessing and will worship the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem. By contrast, unbelieving Gentiles will be cast off the earth, and, in some cases, their land will be wasted because of what they have done to and with the clews throughout history.
This prospect should challenge us to turn to the Lord for salvation, live for Him, and serve Him with all our hearts while we have time. It should also give us a burden for the Jewish people. What we do now will affect our rewards and position in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.