The New World Order Revelation 20:4–6
President Bush has coined the phrase a new world order. It is being used to describe the abrupt changes taking place internationally brought about, in part, by perestroika in the Soviet Union and the new alliances being formed in Western Europe. The President is hoping that such global changes will precipitate a political stability that will enable worldwide peace to be realized in our time.
God has promised that a new world order will one day emerge—a time when world peace, prosperity, and plenty will fill the earth; a time when wars, famines, floods, disease, and corruption will be things of the past. Theologians call this time the Millennial Kingdom. The word millennium means thousand (mille) years (annus) and refers to Jesus Christ’s thousand-year reign on the earth. Although the word millennium never occurs in the Bible, the phrase thousand years appears six times in Revelation 20.
While President Bush’s aspiration for a new world order of international peace is admirable, it will never become a reality in our day. What awaits the world is an accelerated time of peril and war. The true new world order will not be ushered in until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In that day true world peace and prosperity will emerge among the nations and will last for a thousand years. Scripture presents a very full description of life and worship during the millennial reign and rule of Jesus Christ.
Resurrection with the Lord
John wrote, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:6). The “first resurrection” is also called “resurrection of life” (Jn. 5:29), “resurrection of the just” (Lk. 14:14), and “a better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35).
The “first resurrection” may be defined as follows: Jesus Christ is the first fruits of resurrected saints, after which there will be a general resurrection (in various stages) of all believers to reign with Him in their glorified bodies on the earth during the Millennium (1 Cor. 15:20–23; Rev. 20:5–6).
This resurrection will include saints who were resurrected immediately after Christ’s resurrection (Mt. 27:52–53), raptured believers (1 Th. 4:16–17), the two witnesses (Rev. 11:12), martyrs of the Tribulation (Rev. 20:4), and Old Testament saints (Dan. 12:1–2).
Only the righteous will enter the Kingdom at its inception, for the Lord will judge the nations, putting the righteous (sheep) on His right hand and giving them the Kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world (Mt. 25:33–34). The unrighteous (goats) will be placed on His left hand and done away with, and their destiny will be sealed to “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:33, 41).
The righteous who survive the Tribulation, both Jews and Gentiles, will enter the Millennium in their natural bodies. Those who are blind, deaf, lame, and dumb will immediately be healed (Isa. 35:5–6). They will procreate and repopulate the earth. Women will not “bring forth for trouble” (Isa. 65:23; that is, have their babies die at birth). Most people will be blessed with longevity because they will be free from illness (Isa. 33:24). If one dies at a hundred years of age, it will be as if he had died in childhood (Isa. 65:20).
Those born during the Millennial Kingdom will possess a sin nature and will need salvation (Isa. 65:20). The offspring of the righteous will have to accept the Lord, as their parents did. Most will do so, but some will not. Those refusing to submit and be born again will not show their rebellion throughout the Millennium, because Christ will be ruling with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15); and Satan, who will be bound in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1–3), will be unable to influence them to do evil. Satan will be loosed for a little season at the end of the Millennium and will try to overthrow the Lord’s rule through these unsaved people, but God will rain down fire out of Heaven to destroy the revolt (Rev. 20:8–9).
Those who are not part of the first resurrection are called “the rest of the dead” (Rev. 20:5)—unbelievers who will be in the “resurrection of damnation” (Jn. 5:29). They will be judged after the Millennium at the “great white throne” judgment (Rev. 20:11) and damned to “the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14).
Restoration of the Land
Great topographical changes will take place in the land of Israel and the rest of the world at Christ’s return. When the Lord sets His foot on the Mount of Olives, it will cleave apart, forming a huge valley east of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4–5). The land will be transformed like the “Arabah” (Zech. 14:10), a geographical term for the rift that stretches from the Sea of Galilee through the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Zechariah used the comparison to show how the land will be depressed into a great plain stretching “from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:10), the area originally given to Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. Jerusalem will be elevated and enlarged to give it an exalted position, since it will be the geographic capital of God’s program, the place where Christ will set up His throne (Jer. 3:17; Ezek. 43:7).
A perennial river will flow from Jerusalem, watering the Judean wilderness (Isa. 35:6) and, with the help of heavy rainfall (Isa. 30:23; Ezek. 34:26), causing the desolate land and the solitary place to “blossom like the rose” (Isa. 35:1). The desert shall bloom with dense foliage like Lebanon, Mount Carmel, and the coastal plains of Sharon (Isa. 35:2).
Israel and the entire world will be productive as never before. There will be no unemployment in the perfect economic system set up and administered by the Lord. There will be no strife between labor and management for, in that day, industry will work in harmony. The climatic conditions will produce an abundance of food, which will eliminate famine and starvation (Dt. 30:9; Isa. 30:23–24; Amos 9:13).
A new social order will emerge worldwide. Jews and Gentiles alike will build houses, plant fields, and reap the increase of their labor without fear of aggressors taking it from them (Isa. 65:21–22). With the removal of social, political, and religious oppression, the world will experience peace (Isa. 66:12) and justice (Isa. 11:3–4), resulting in fullness of joy internationally (Isa. 65:18–19).
During the Millennium the animal kingdom will be at peace (Isa. 11:6–9). When the curse (Gen. 3:17–19) is lifted from the earth, all of creation will be delivered and changed (Rom. 8:19–22)—except for the serpent, who beguiled Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:14; Isa. 65:25).
At that time Israel will possess all the land God promised to her in the unconditional, eternal covenant made with Abraham (Gen. 17:7, 13, 19). Israel’s borders will stretch from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River (Gen. 15:18). When Christ returns, He will reunite the twelve tribes of Israel from among the nations of the world (Ezek. 37:15–22) and redivide the land among the redeemed of Israel (Ezek. 48:1–7, 23–29). A 34-square-mile middle section will be set aside for the priests, Levites, Temple, and Prince (Ezek. 48:8–22).
Reign of the Lord
The Bible says that the Lord will dwell in Zion upon His return to the earth (Ps. 2:6; Joel 3:21), and He will rule seated upon David’s throne (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 9:7; Lk. 1:32–33). His reign will be global, for the Father will give Him the nations for His inheritance and the “uttermost parts of the earth for [His] possession” (Ps. 2:8). His rule will be absolute in authority and power, for He will rule over the nations “with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5; 19:15); but He will show mercy to the righteous (Isa. 54:7–10). He will be a righteous and just ruler (Isa. 11:3–4), for He will rule with truth (Isa. 25:1) and holiness (Ezek. 36:20–23).
Scripture seems to indicate that the Lord will grant King David a vice-regent rule in the Millennium after his resurrection (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; Hos. 3:5).
Religion in the Land
At the beginning of Christ’s reign on the earth, the Millennial Temple (Ezek. 40–42) will be built. A spacious, 34-square-mire area will be set apart for the Lord, called “the holy oblation” (Ezek. 48:20). It will be the center of divine government and worship during the Millennium. The Millennial Temple will sit in the middle of this square area (not in Jerusalem) on a very high mountain that will be miraculously made ready for that purpose (Ezek. 37:26–27; Mic. 4:1–4).1
During the Millennium, worship will be reestablished on the Sabbath, and animal sacrifices will be reinstituted in the new Temple (Ezek. 46). Two questions arise concerning the animal sacrifices to be offered at that time. First, since the priesthood was destroyed in 70 A.D., from where will the priests come who will lead in worship and offer sacrifices? Israel will take men from the tribe of Levi named Cohen and Levy to be used in the Temple worship (Ezek. 44:8–31). The name Cohen (Heb., Kohen) means priest, and the name Levy (Heb., Levi) refers to those who served in the Temple along with the priests. The Scriptures indicate that the sons of Zadok will be chosen from among the priests to serve in the Temple (Ezek. 40:46; 43:19; 44:15; 48:11).
Like Israel, the Church is a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1:6) and will be given authority to reign with the Lord, most likely serving Him among the nations (Rev. 2:26–27). Christians who are given positions of leadership in the Kingdom will direct civil rule and provide spiritual direction over Gentile cities. They “will exercise varied religious and political functions under His (Christ’s) supreme command throughout the Millennium, in accord with the faithfulness of their service in this present life.”2 Some will be given greater authority than others as a reward for faithfulness, having jurisdiction over either five or ten cities (Lk. 19:17, 19).3 The description and extent of this leadership have not yet been revealed.
Church saints will come to the earth to reign with Christ during the Millennium. Some believe that their main residence will be in the New Jerusalem (Jn. 14:2–3; Heb. 12:22–23; Rev. 3:21; 21:9–10), which will be suspended over the earth. Other scholars conclude that the New Jerusalem will not appear prior to the eternal New Heavens-New Earth stage. The saved people living on the earth will walk in the light of the glory of God and Jesus Christ. It is this light that will illuminate the New Jerusalem and the world (Rev. 21:23–24). In the eternal state, the New Jerusalem will descend to the earth where it will remain for eternity (Rev. 21:1–2).
In the Millennium, the apostles will be given the honor of eating at Christ’s table, and they will “sit upon twelve thrones, judging [ruling over] the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19:28; Lk. 22:28–30).
Second, many ask why animal sacrifices will be offered, since the Lord has once and for all entered into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption through His blood (Heb. 9:12). The animal sacrifices were not efficacious, for the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Heb. 10:4). It is reasonable to assume that these sacrifices will be a memorial offering, similar to the Lord’s table, in remembrance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. One author wrote, “In spite of their perfect environment … ‘kingdom kids’ will need the new birth … Here is a generation which will grow up without knowing fear, experiencing pain, witnessing hatred (or seeing death) … These sacrifices will function as: a reminder to all of the necessity of the new birth; an object lesson of the costliness of salvation; an example of the awfulness of sin; an illustration of the holiness of God.4
During this time Jews will be called “the Ministers of our God” (Isa. 61:6) and will function as spiritual leaders under the Lord’s direction. Their ministry will be to proclaim the Messiah’s glory among the nations (Isa. 66:19–20). In that day, ten men out of every nation will grab hold of a Jew desiring to be taught about the Lord (Zech. 8:22–23).
People from all nations of the world will be expected to make a yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16). Those refusing to come will have rain withheld from them (Zech. 14:17). If the Egyptians do not come, they will suffer “the plague” (Zech. 14:18), since they depend on the annual overflow of the Nile River to water their crops rather than on rain.
Those living in the Millennium will experience immediate answers to their prayers, in some cases before they ask, and in other instances while the requests are being made (Isa. 65:24). This will be the result of the divine presence and the enablement of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in and through the saints (Joel 2:28–29).
Talk about a new world order, my friend—there you have it! No matter how optimistic President Bush is, or how hard he works to bring a new order into this chaotic world, it will never become a reality. The great society will never be brought in through social programs, the rehabilitation of mankind, or political negotiations among nations. It will be brought in only by the sinless Christ who will one day descend to earth with myriad glorified saints to set up His Millennial Kingdom of peace and prosperity.
Sad to say, those who have never received Jesus Christ as Savior will have no part in this new world order. There awaits for them “the resurrection of damnation” (Jn. 5:29), the second death, eternal suffering in the lake of fire.
Christian friend, knowing the eternal horrors that await the unsaved and the eternal bliss that can be theirs by believing in Christ as Savior, we should be doing all we can to proclaim the gospel to our neighbors and friends so that they can have a part in the new world order with us.
- J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Findlay, OH: Dunham Publishing Company, 1958), 510, 514.
- Henry M. Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1983), 418.
- H. L. Willmington, Willminton’s Guide to the Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale Publishers, Inc., 1981), 856.