World Crisis and The Millennial Kingdom
For centuries poets, novelists and musicians have written and sung about a “golden age” – or kind of “Utopia” when the problems, pains and conflicts of this world will disappear and all will be happiness and peace. There are many who believe that through intense human efforts that longed-for day will come.
The Bible, however, teaches that this Age of worldwide peace and blessedness will never come through human effort but only through divine intervention. The Second Advent of Christ, with the subsequent Battle of Armageddon and Judgment of the Nations, will gloriously usher in that wonderful period of time. According to the Apostle John, that Age will endure for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6). Thus, it is commonly referred to as the Millennium (from the Latin words miile, meaning “thousand” and annus, meaning “year”). What will life be like during this long-awaited time?
Blessings of the Millennium
First of all, there will be physical blessings. Since the fall, a curse has been on the natural creation (Gen. 3;17-19). Paul wrote of a time when that curse would be removed (Rom. 8:19-22). The Millennial Kingdom will then witness abundant productivity on the earth: flowering gardens, fruitful fields and overflowing harvests (Amos 9:14; Ezek. 36:29-34; Isa. 35:1, 2). The modern irrigation of the arid Israeli Negev resulting in bumper crops is only a mild indication of the amazing splendor of the vegetable world that will break forth when the curse is lifted. Even the animal world will be affected. Peace will reign between the beasts and between man and beasts. Isaiah declares that wolves and lambs will be friends while toddlers and snakes will be playmates (Isa. 11:6-8).
A concurrent blessing will be the removal of sickness under the ministry of the Great Healer of nations (Isa. 33:24; Jer. 30:17; Ezek. 34:16). Accompanying this will be the healing of all physical deformities (Isa. 29:18; 35:3-6). The deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, the lame shall leap like a deer, and the mute will sing God’s praises!
The word “peace” is often on the lips of political and religious leaders today. Everyone is talking about it, but few are experiencing it. The fruit of the Messiah’s Millennial reign, however, will be national and individual peace. Since there will be no need for munitions, the implements of war can be converted into farming equipment (isa. 2:4; Micah 4:2, 3). On a statue outside of the United Nations in New York City is inscribed these words: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” But no human organization will ever bring lasting peace — only the Prince of Peace will do that. “.. . He shall speak peace to the nations …” (Zech. 9:10).
Secondly, there will be great spiritual blessings during the Millennium. The Kingdom wili be characterized by universal righteousness (Isa. 26:2; 60:21). Injustice, unfairness and discrimination wift cease (Isa. 11:4, 5; 32:1; Ps. 72:12-14). Obedience, holiness and truth will be earmarks of the Kingdom (Ps. 22:27, 28; Mal. 1:11; Joel 3:17; Isa. 10:20). Zechariah describes a time when there will be no difference between the sacred and the secular. All will be holy. The pots in Jerusalem and Judah shall be just as holy as the sacred vessels in the Lord’s house (Zech. 14:20,21).
One of the greatest spiritual blessings of the Millennium will be the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Not only will Joel’s famous passage (2:28, 29) find its complete fulfillment, but Ezekiel’s prophecy will be fulfilled not only in restored Israel but among all peoples (Ezek. 36:24-27; 37:14). In contrast to present day spiritual apathy and coldness, there will be spiritual fervor, love of God, holy joy and blessed fellowship. It should be noted that even though we anticipate an earthly kingdom, it will be thoroughly spiritual in character.
The Government Of The Millennium
If such ideal conditions exist during the Millennium, will there be any need of governing authority? If so, what kind of government— a democracy, a monarchy, a socialist state? The answer of the prophetic Scriptures is Yes, there will be a government — a theocracy! Only God will rule this earth in a totally fair and just manner. Therefore, we sometimes refer to the Millennium as the Theocratic Kingdom.
A government implies a governor and the governed . Scripture makes it clear that the Governor of the Millennium is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16). The promise of the angel to Mary was that ”… the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Lk. 1:32). In the Millennium He assumes that throne, to which He has legal right through His genealogy (Mt. 1:20; Lk. 1:27).
There are other prophetic references that mention David as a regent in the Millennium (Isa. 55:3, 4; Ezek. 34:23, 24; Hos. 3:5). Although some take this as a reference to Jesus, the Son of David, it is better to see this as a reference to the historical David, who comes to this position by resurrection at the second advent of Christ. Ezekiel refers to a “prince” who will lead restored Israel in millennial worship (Ezek. 45:22; 46:2, 16). From this and other references it is concluded that David will probably be appointed as regent over the area of the land of Israel, ministering under the authority of Jesus Christ, the King. Under David will be the twelve apostles, whom Jesus promised would judge the twelve tribes of restored Israel (Mt. 19:28).
The subjects of the Millennial Kingdom (i.e., “the governed”) will include all the saved of Israel and the Gentiles who are living at Christ’s return in glory at the end of the Tribulation Period. Only the saved will enter the Kingdom (Mt. 13:30, 31, 49, 50; 25:34; Dan. 7:18-27). The Messiah will reign first over a restored and regenerated Israel. The return of the Jewish people to “the land” in the past one hundred years, amazing as it may seem, will pale in comparison to the future regathering and reconstitution of the scattered tribes in their ancient “promised land”. The prophets abound with references to this “exodus” from the Diaspora (Isa. 43:5-7; Ezek. 28:25, 26; Joel 3:1; Amos 9:14, 15; Zech. 9:11-13; 10:8-10, etc.). Ezekiel gives a detailed description of how the “Holy Land” wilt be divided to these restored tribes (Ezek. 47, 48).
This regathering is accompanied by an even greater miracle. When the Messiah appears to inaugurate His Millennial Kingdom, Israel will recognize Him as the One they rejected and pierced, and they will mourn in repentance over their sins (Zech. 12:10; Rev. 1:7). Israel will experience a prophetic “Day of Atonement” when “. .. a fountain is opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1). A marvelous wonder will ensue: “a nation born in one day” (isa. 66:7-9). finally entering into their “new covenant” (Jer. 31:31-34). Paul says it simply this way, “And so all Israel shall be saved …” (Rom. 11:26). The “all” refers to those Jewish people living at the time of Christ’s advent, the “third part” of those who have been brought through the fire of the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Zech. 13:9; Jer. 30:7) – the Great Tribulation period. During the Millennium, Israel will finally fulfill one of God’s purposes for her existence — the nation will become God’s witnesses (Isa. 44:8, 21; 61:6; 66:21; Jer. 16:19-21). She who has been a “curse” among the nations (Jer. 24:9) will become a blessing to the earth (Isa. 19:24).
But restored Israel will not be alone in their enjoyment of the Millennial blessedness. The universal aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant will be fully realized. The universal dominion of the Messiah will include the multitudinous tongues of the Gentile nations (Isa. 66:18, 19; Amos 9:12; Micah 7:16, 17; Zech. 14:16-19). One of the most fascinating prophecies of the Scriptures is the prediction that in that day Israel, Egypt and Assyria (perpetual enemies) will be third’s in a trinity of worship to Jehovah (Isa. 19:21-25): “. . . Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” All idols will be put down and all human religions will vanish (Zech. 13:2; Jer. 16:19-21; Isa. 2:18-20) and “… the Lord shall be king over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9; Isa. 54:5).
The Worship Of The Millennium
A great theologian once expressed a universal truth in a personal way, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.” The vast majority of the world’s peoples have not found that rest, but in the Millennium there will be universal worship directed toward the One who gives rest to the restless heart.
The prophetic word makes it clear that for restored Israel this worship will center around a magnificent Temple again to be erected. Ezekiel 40-47 provides a detailed description of the measurements, offerings, feasts and priests associated with this Temple. With such a detailed description of the Temple service, it seems scarcely possible to understand this prophecy as only figurative.
There are some who suggest that a renewal of sacrificial offerings as described by Ezekiel would be inconsistent with the teaching of Hebrews that Christ has offered the one, final sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:10, 14). However, these renewed sacrifices should be viewed as memorial in character. They will be tokens representing the completed work of redemption, symbols looking backward, even as the Old Testament offerings looked forward to the still-to-be-completed work of redemption by Christ. The ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the present age have much the same character ~ commemorative symbols as the sacrifices of old were anticipative.
Whatever the specific details of the future Temple service, it should be remembered that restored Israel will not be alone in worshipping the Millennial King. The prophet describes it graphically, “… from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:11). Universal adoration ot the King of kings will take place in that day. The nations that have set themselves against the Lord and against His Anointed One (Ps. 2:2) will have a change of heart. “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). Four of the seven Jewish feasts outlined in Leviticus 23 have found their historic fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit — Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Pentecost. The trumpet, calling dispersed Israel to assemble in her land, as happened in the biblical Feast of Trumpets, will have already been fulfilled at this time. The Day of Atonement will already have had its prophetic accomplishment in Israel’s regeneration. Only one feast remains to be fulfilled — the Feast of Tabernacles — that joyous commemoration of thankfulness for the harvest. The spiritual harvest will have been gathered in the Millennial Kingdom, but Israel will not be alone in its observance.
All nations will join with her to worship Him who “tabernacled” among men (Jn. 1:14).
The Millennium — a groundless wish for “pie in the sky by and by” — or a sure hope that will withstand the ravages of doubt and unbelief? Scripture portrays this period as absolutely necessary. Mankind must be shown that human wisdom will always fail. Only when God alone takes complete control will “Utopia” find its fulfillment in this earth.
What should be our response as we anticipate these joyous days — days that will) be proceeded, however, by some of the worst judgments and catastrophes this world has ever witnessed? The Apostle Peter exhorts us in 2 Peter 3:17 and 18: “Ye, therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.