Jesus wraps up the entire Bible in Revelation 22 with a promise, stating "Surely I am coming quickly!" He proclaims this not once, not twice, but three whole times, making the fact of His return to set up His Kingdom an ironclad pledge. But, you have to wonder, since it's been 2,000 years already, did Jesus merely mean His return was symbolic, or will there be an actual, literal appearance one day?
Will Jesus rule the Earth for a thousand years?
Why the debate, this symbolic or literal return of Jesus to set up His kingdom? To answer that, let me introduce you to Cotton Mather, a Puritan Pastor from 18th Century New England.
Cotton explained that, in truth, the Kingdom of Christ was a three-fold kingdom, with the fourth yet to come. First, it's a Spiritual Kingdom, wherein His word and grace rule over the consciences of men. At the same time, second, it's a Providential Kingdom, wherein Jesus directs the affairs of this world. And third, it's an Ecclesiastical Kingdom, where Jesus rules as the head over the Church. But then, Cotton explained that the Kingdom of Christ has a fourth aspect that still has yet to be instituted, a Davidic Kingdom where Jesus rules and reigns physically over all the earth.
It's taking all four of those folds together that can trip people up, for they'll recognize the first three, but often neglect the fourth — the Davidic Kingdom.
The Prophet Daniel told us that the Davidic Kingdom and human government would never coexist.
Daniel 2 tells the story of the great King Nebuchadnezzar who awoke to a very disturbing dream. He dreamt of a massive statue with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, two legs made out of iron, and feet a mixture of iron and clay. Then a great stone, not cut by human hands, came crashing down out of the sky and smashed the statue, blasting it into dust, which then blew away. The stone grew into a mountain and filled the entire earth.
Daniel interpreted the king's dream. He explained that the head was Nebuchadnezzar himself, and each metal down was a successive empire: Babylonian Empire, Medo-Persian Empire, Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Revived Roman Empire. The great smashing stone represented "...the God of heaven" who "will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed... it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms..." (Daniel 2:44-45).
What Daniel describes — the story of Jesus' return — can be found in Revelation 19-20.
Jesus rides with the armies of heaven down to the earth, conquers evil, and then sets up that Davidic Kingdom. Not once, or even twice, but six times in Revelation 20, we're told that His kingdom will last a thousand years. And that number is where this kingdom gets its most recognized title — the Millennial Kingdom.
Millennium = Latin words mille (thousand) and annum (years)
The Bible is chock full of verses that explain how awesome it will be to live in the Millennial Kingdom. When we read the Bible for its plain sense meaning, it describes the following 12 points that define this kingdom.
- All the Jews first have to be regathered back into the land of Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12; 35:10; Zephaniah 3:17-20; Zechariah 9:14-17).
- The world must endure the horrors of God's wrath during the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1:14-18; Zechariah 14:1-5; Ezekiel 28:26; Habakkuk 3:3-13; Haggai 2:6-7,22).
- Jesus has to return physically to conquer Satan (Zechariah 14:1-5; Revelation 19:11-21).
- The human world order has to be destroyed (Daniel 2:44-45; Haggai 2:22).
- The world must then be judged so only those saved will enter the Millennial Kingdom (Daniel 12:11-12; Isaiah 11:1-5,10; Matthew 25:31-46).
- Jesus will rule and reign as both king and priest from His Temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 2:44-45; Zechariah 14:9; Psalm 22:27-31; Isaiah 9:6-7; Ezek. 43:1-12; Isaiah 24:23; Joel 3:17; Zechariah 2:10).
- King David and the resurrected saints fill the leadership roles (Isaiah 32:1; Daniel 7:13-14,18,27; Revelation 2:26-27).
- The Jews will serve as an exalted priestly people (Isaiah 2:2-3, 49:22-23; 60-62; Jeremiah 3:17-18; Hosea 1:10-11; 2:14-20; 14:4-7; Micah 4:1-7; Zephaniah 3:20; Zechariah 8:23).
- All the world's inhabitants will personally know Jesus and worship Him (Psalm 22:27-31; Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Zechariah 14:20-21; Malachi 1:11).
- War will cease to exist, animals won't kill each other; it'll be a world of peace and bounty (Isaiah 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Micah 4:3-4; Nahum 1:15; 2:2; Isaiah 11:1-10; 65:25).
- Lifespans will be counted in the hundreds of years (Isaiah 65:20-23; Isaiah 33:24; 35:5-6).
- Satan is bound in a pit for a thousand years and so can't tempt anyone, that is until the very end when he is released to be permanently defeated (Revelation 20:1-10).
So, will Jesus rule the earth for a thousand years?
Most absolutely yes! Jesus will literally return to set up His literal throne over a literal kingdom that will last literally for a thousand years, and then on into eternity. For when that incredible time finally comes, another astounding prophecy will be fulfilled: "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9).