Why a Millennium?
Does Jesus really need to return to earth to reign?
When I first began studying Bible prophecy, the question, "What purpose would the Millennium serve?" really bothered me. The Word clearly taught that the Lord is coming back to this earth to reign for a thousand years. But I kept asking, "Why?"
I have since discovered that most amillennialists feel that same way. "Why," they will ask, "would the Lord want to come back to this rotten world? What could possibly be His purpose in returning to this world to reign for a thousand years? Why does the Lord or the world need a Millennium?"
My study of the Word has led me to conclude that God has several vitally important purposes for the Millennium.
Promises to the Jews
The first reason there must be a Millennium is that God has made promises to the Jews which He will fulfill during that time.
God has promised that He will gather to the land of Israel the remnant of Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah at the end of the Tribulation (Ezekiel 36:22-28 and Zechariah 10:6-9). He will pour out His Spirit upon this remnant (Isaiah 32:15; 44:3), greatly expand their numbers and their land (Ezekiel 36:10-11; 48:1-29), and make them the prime nation in all the world (Isaiah 60-62).
They will serve as an object lesson of the grace and mercy which God bestows upon those who turn to Him in repentance: "And it will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing" (Zechariah 8:13).
Zechariah says the blessings of God upon the Jewish remnant will be so great in those days that "ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'" (Zechariah 8:23).
Promises to the Church
A second reason for the Millennium relates to a promise which God has made to the Church. God has promised that the Redeemed in Christ will reign over all the nations of the world.
This promise was given through the prophet Daniel in the following words: "Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him" (Daniel 7:27).
In the New Testament, Paul repeated the same promise in the simplest of terms: "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus affirmed the promise in His letter to the church at Thyatira when He wrote: "And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron..." (Revelation 2:26-27).
When John was taken to Heaven for a visit to the throne room of God, he heard a heavenly host singing a song that contained the following verse: "And Thou has made them [the Redeemed] to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth" (Revelation 5:10).
This promise to the Church of worldwide dominion is going to be fulfilled during the Millennium. That is what Jesus was referring to in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
Jesus will reign as king of the world from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:23 and Zechariah 14:9). The Redeemed, in their glorified bodies, will help Him with His reign by serving worldwide as administrators, judges, and spiritual tutors to those who enter the kingdom in the flesh — and to their children (Daniel 7:18,27; Jeremiah 3:15; Luke 19:11-17).
Promises to the Nations
God has promised that a time will come when the nations will be provided with their greatest dream — namely, worldwide peace. This has been an international dream since the beginning of time, but it has proved to be impossibly elusive.
Peace conference after peace conference has been held. Multiple treaties have been signed. World organizations have been formed. Yet, war continues to ravage the nations.
God has promised to give Mankind and the earth a rest from its wars. But that peace will not come until the Prince of Peace returns. Only then will the nations "hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." Only then will we realize the dream of a world where "nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war" (Isaiah 2:4).
God has promised that He will flood the earth with peace, righteousness, justice, and holiness: "The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). Even the bells on the horses bridles and the pots in the kitchens will bear the inscription "Holy to the Lord" (Zechariah 14:20,21).
These glorious promises of peace and rest and righteousness will be fulfilled during the Millennium.
Promises to the Creation
God has also made promises to His creation which He will fulfill during the Millennium. God has promised to remove the curse which He placed upon the creation due to the sin of Man. He has promised to deliver the Creation from its bondage to decay and to restore it to its original beauty, balance, and peace (Romans 8:18-23).
The carnivorous animals will become herbivorous (Isaiah 11:6). The deadly animals will cease to be poisonous (Isaiah 11:8-9). The plant kingdom will flourish and produce bountifully (Isaiah 35 and Ezekiel 34:25-31). The land of Israel will be so radically transformed that visitors will proclaim in amazement: "This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden" (Ezekiel 36:35).
Promises to Jesus
The most important reason for the Millennium is that God is going to use it to fulfill promises which He has made to His Son.
God has promised Jesus that He will be glorified in history to compensate in part for His humiliation in history. The Bible says point blank that Jesus will return to manifest His glory (Isaiah 24:23; 66:18-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
God also has promised that He will give Jesus dominion over all the world and that He will reign over the nations from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem (Daniel 7:13-14; Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 14:1-9).
Psalm 2 presents a good summary of these promises. It begins by surveying the rebellion of the world's political leaders against God and His Son, referred to in the passage as "His Anointed" (verses 1-2). It describes their contempt for the Lord (verse 3).
But the psalm says that God sits in the heavens and laughs and scoffs at them because He has appointed a day of reckoning when He will "terrify them in His fury" (verse 5). That will be the day when He installs Jesus as "King upon Zion" (verse 6).
Jesus then speaks and tells of the promise that His Father has made to Him: "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron...'" (Psalm 2:7-9).
It must be kept in mind that Jesus is currently a "king-in-waiting." Like King David, who had to wait many years after he was anointed before he became king of Israel, Jesus has been anointed King of kings and Lord and lords, but He has not yet begun to rule.
He is currently serving as our High Priest before the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1). He is waiting for His Father's command to return and claim all the kingdoms of this world (Hebrews 2:5-9 and Revelation 19:11-16).
A Final Reason
There is one other purpose for the Millennium that should be noted. I believe God is going to use the Millennium to prove to Man once and for all that Satan's religion of Humanism is totally bankrupt.
All Humanists, regardless of their political or theological labels, are agreed that the source of evil in the world is external to Man. They view evil as rooted in the corruption of society. They believe that the solution to all Man's problems can be found in societal reform.
Take, as an example, their attitude toward crime. They believe society is the root cause of crime. All we have to do to eliminate crime, they argue, is to provide people with a guaranteed job that will supply them with sufficient income so that they will be able to live in a nice suburb.
But such reforms do not transform the basic nature of people. In the ghetto a man will pay 25 dollars for a prostitute. In the suburb he will chase his neighbor's wife. In the ghetto he will throw a rock through a window and steal a TV set. In the suburb he will put on his three piece suit, go to the office, manipulate the computer and embezzle a million dollars.
You do not change people's basic nature by changing their environment. Changing their environment simply converts them into more sophisticated sinners.
The Humanist view is absolutely contrary to Scripture. The Word of God teaches that the source of evil is rooted within Man's fallen nature, and that it is Man, and not society, which needs to be changed (Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:20-23). The Word also teaches that the only way this change can take place is through the work of the Holy Spirit within a person who has put his faith in Jesus.
God is going to prove this point by using the Millennium like a great experimental laboratory. He is going to place Mankind in a perfect environment of peace and prosperity for a thousand years. Satan will be bound. Righteousness will abound.
Yet, at the end, when Satan is released, most people will rally to him when he calls the nations to rebellion against Jesus (Revelation 20:7-10). The Millennium will prove that what Man needs is not a new society but a new heart.
Essential to the Master Plan
The Millennium is essential for the fulfillment of all the promises that God has made to the Jews, the Church, the nations, and the creation.
It is also essential to His determination to prove that the source of all evil is the fallen nature of Man, not the corruption of society, and that the only hope for this world is Jesus, not political reform.
Most important, the Millennium is essential to God's purpose in glorifying His Son. He is going to manifest the glory of Jesus before His redeemed saints and before all the nations of the world.
"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations... Posterity will serve Him; it will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it" (Psalm 22:27-31).
The Creator of this universe is a covenant making God who is faithful to all His promises. He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). He cannot forget a promise (Deuteronomy 4:31). He is faithful even when we are unfaithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
Just as He fulfilled all the promises related to the First Coming of His son, He is going to fulfill all those that relate to His Second Coming, including the promise of a millennial reign.
Many in the Church may be ignorant of His unfulfilled promises. Others may have forgotten them. But God has not. He intends to fulfill every one of them.
We are privileged to live in a time when we can witness God orchestrating the events of this world to the fulfillment of all the promises in His master plan.
"Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect.
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He."
Quick Questions About the Millennium
1) Who will populate the earth during the Millennium?
Those who live to the end of the Tribulation and have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be allowed to enter the Millennium in the flesh (Matthew 25:3-46). All surviving unbelievers will be consigned to death (Luke 17:26-37).
This will be a very small number of people because most of those who place their faith in Jesus during the Tribulation will be martyred for their faith (Revelation 7:9-14).
The believers who go into the Millennium in the flesh will begin to propagate, and the population of the world will grow exponentially. The reason the growth will be so rapid is because life spans will be expanded and death will be curtailed.
Isaiah says that people will live as long as a tree (Isaiah 65:22) and there will no longer be infants who live only a few days (Isaiah 65:20). Those who die at 100 years of age will be considered young, and only those who refuse to accept the Lord will die at that age (Isaiah 65:20). The implication of Isaiah's prophecy is that during the Millennium the life span of those in the flesh will be returned to what it was before the Noahic flood, when people lived 800 to 1000 years. If so, then by the end of the Millennium, the population of the earth could easily exceed the current six billion.
2) Will the Millennium take place on this earth or on a new one?
The Millennial reign of Jesus will take place on this earth, but the earth will be greatly changed in nature.
The first earth, the earth of Adam and Eve, was perfect. There were no poisonous animals or plants. There were no meat-eating animals. There were no natural cataclysms like earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes. Man and nature lived together in perfect harmony.
But when Man sinned, God placed a curse on the earth, and the nature of the earth was radically changed. Death entered the world. Nature turned against Mankind. This new earth, earth number two, existed until the time of Noah.
When the worldwide flood occurred, this second earth was "destroyed" (2 Peter 3:6) in the sense that it was radically changed again. The earth's vapor canopy collapsed, its land mass separated into continents, the earth tilted on its axis, and the pressure of the water forced the formation of new mountain ranges. We have been living on earth number three ever since.
When Jesus returns to reign, the earth will be radically changed once more. The change agents will be earthquakes and supernatural phenomena in the skies (Revelation 6:12-14). Every island will be moved (Revelation 16:18-20). Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain lowered (Isaiah 40:4). The topography of Israel will be radically changed, with Jerusalem becoming the highest place on earth (Isaiah 2:2).