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The Millennium

VIEWPOINT



The period of time we call the Millennium will happen after Christ returns to earth at His second coming, and it will be here on earth for 1000 years.

FACT



The Bible speaks of the what we call the Millennium - the 1000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation.


BLUE VIEWPOINT



The thousand years will be on earth.

There is a lot of confusion on this topic because when the Bible speaks of it, the references are vague or dependent on some cultural knowledge. There are even a great number of Amillennialists (see site at The Gospel Coalition) who don't even believe that there will be a millennium. I guess they have never read Revelation 20:4
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

or any of the other references in that book and others. There is only a brief mention in the book of Revelation, but there are a lot of references throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments that help to clarify the details. It seems that few are willing to take the time to put all the real pieces together and would rather make up something that fits what they wish for instead of what God has planned. The main questions about the millennium are:

1. What is the thousand year period about and when will it start?
2. Where will the resurrected spend the thousand years?
3. What will be happening before, during, and after the thousand years?
4. Is this really a period of 1000 years, or just a long time?
5. Will this be a period of peace for everyone?

If you search the Bible with any interest at all, and read the properly translated version of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, you will find the truth. Though most are not experts in Greek or Hebrew, anyone hearing two completely different interpretations of the same verse usually understands that someone is in error, and must conclude that some investigation is in order. You don't have to be an expert to research and compare the different versions to the original language.

Begin at the beginning

Let's start with Rev 20:1-3 (NIV) which says:

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Now, when there is controversy about a passage, usually people say that their Bible uses different words, so they interpret it differently. This passage is pretty hard to treat that way when even the flowery King James version makes it very clear. So, unless someone can verify somehow that this is not describing a set of events that mark the start of a particular period of time, it means that it will be a 1000 year period. So starting here, let's take the prophecies apart and see if anything is left hanging loose.

What is the thousand year period about and when will it start?

First off, the word "millennium" is not in the original text, but it is commonly known that there is some sort of period of time mentioned that will last 1000 years. The term derives from the Latin 'mille' , meaning thousand, and 'annum', meaning year. That is the meaning of the word "millennium" - 1000 year period. Another basic fact is that, while some passages refer to what will be happening during this period without actually referring to it as a particular period, the only direct mention of it is in the book of Revelation.

Rev. 19:11-21
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

describes briefly when Jesus returns at His second coming and defeats the armies of the kings of the earth at the battle of Armageddon. We cannot date or set a scheduled time for this series of events, but it happens sometime after the Antichrist does his thing in persecuting the saints with the number of the beast (666) or his mark (not identified as yet) and performs some signs that deluded and deceived the people of the earth. We know that this Antichrist is able to persecute the saints (Rev. 13:7-10
7 It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.

), requiring their patience and endurance to survive the attacks on their faith as well as their bodies, so they must be around on earth during the Tribulation. According to Rev. 20:2
He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

, the millennium starts with events that include the binding of Satan and sealing him in the pit.

Where will the "taken" spend the thousand years?

Next, there is a lot of discussion about where this millennium takes place. Some (and in this case, that means many) say that when Jesus comes back, He will resurrect all the dead in Christ to take them and all those who are still alive and believe in Him to Heaven for the thousand years, and then He kills everyone else left alive on the earth.

Those that hold this view claim that, after the battle, the earth will be barren and lifeless, so Satan will be "thrown" down here to roam around the earth with no one to deceive. That begs the question, if he is already banished to the earth, how will they "throw" him down here again? Part of their justification is the set of verses in Jeremiah 4:23-26
23 I looked at the earth, and it was empty and formless.
    I looked at the heavens, and there was no light.
24 I looked at the mountains and hills,
    and they trembled and shook.
25 I looked, and all the people were gone.
    All the birds of the sky had flown away.
26 I looked, and the fertile fields had become a wilderness.
    The towns lay in ruins,
    crushed by the Lord's fierce anger.

, which states that the land is desolate and no one walks it. This earth is what they call the "bottomless pit" or the Abyss mentioned in Rev 20:3
He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

. If the devil is already down here, bugging people that are not there, why would he have to be locked up somewhere if people are not still walking around? Also, if he is not locked up, why will he then have to be "set free" for a short time? Then, the big question, what does the Bible say that he does once he is set free?

Some say that...

If you read just the Jeremiah 4:23-26 passage, and make the huge assumption that this is speaking of the time right after the second coming, then the idea seems feasible. The problems come when you try making those verses fit with Zechariah chapter 14 (more on that below). That chapter is speaking of the earth after the second coming, with specific instructions for the survivors of the battle against Jerusalem once Jesus takes His throne as King. You can't have both all the people still on earth and all the people either dead or in some other place.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the site at Bible Hub lists the beliefs of several Commentaries that have defenders on both sides of this thought. An example of my belief is under Gill's Exposition or Jamieson-Fausset-Brown on that page. Just, please make sure that whatever explanation you believe fits with the rest of Scripture without some modification or special condition excuses.

However...

If the earth is supposed to be the "bottomless pit", to where were the demons of Luke 8:31
And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (NIV)

or better yet if you don't like the word Abyss

The demons kept begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. (NLT)

asking Jesus not to send them? If the pit wasn't around at the time because there were defnitely people still on the earth, why were they afraid of being sent there? It sounds more like the pit is a not-so-nice place where they could be sent and then locked up as in Rev 20:3 above.

One more small point. If Satan is put in the pit to keep him from deceiving the nations, where do you suppose the nations are? If, as some say, they are not on the earth (burned up?), how can the Devil roam the earth and deceive them? If they are not on the earth, why even worry about him deceiving them? Reading all the words of the Bible puts the whole scenario in context, but maybe that is expecting too much.

Read everything, not just pieces

Considering what Zechariah says, there must be some wishful thinking with this non-Biblical idea of the Abyss, the Millennium, and going to Heaven for the thousand years, since there is nothing in the first 6 passages of Rev 20 that refers to Heaven at all and Rev 20:7 is the end of the millennium. This does not say outright that they will not go to Heaven, but we are not told that they will, so for now, let's stay with what the Book actually says.

Also, the trouble that the angel goes through with the chain, seizing the devil, and binding him seems to say more than just that Jesus is leaving him on the earth where he was already thrown after his rebellion, anyway. If the intent is different than the words of the passage, why doesn't the Bible just say, "He left Satan on a desolate earth with no living people around to deceive"? Because, that is not what the passage says or means, and it would cause a conflict with Zechariah 14
The Lord Comes and Reigns

1 A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.

2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7 It will be a unique day - a day known only to the Lord - with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.

8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.

9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up high from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses, and will remain in its place. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected - great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

20 On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty. (NIV)


.

This "taking to Heaven" idea is in direct conflict with Zech 14:9 which says that the Lord will be King over the whole earth, and Zech 14:16 which specifies that there are survivors of the battle of Armageddon:

9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

Of course, to be fair, there are sites who teach that Zechariah 14 has nothing to do with the events that occur immediately before the beginning of the millennium. (See Christian Courier as one example). They do try to use reasoning from scripture, but ignore the fact that verse 5
5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

includes a statement that "Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him", and verse 9
9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

says that the Lord will be King of the earth. How many places in the Bible, using these terms, describe anything but the beginning of the millennium, and state that it will be here on earth?

What would you change?

Remember, Rev 22:18-19 says:

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

Some think that John meant this statement to apply to the entire Bible, but at the time he wrote Revelation, he had no idea that we would put together some writings to even call the Bible. So, the words "this scroll" appear to be limited to the scroll he was creating at the time based on a revelation from God. It appears more likely that he was speaking only to this revelation from God. Either way, we might want to be careful about adding anything to try and make some statement that God did not want us to make. In light of that, and some other passages, it seems that the millennium will be on the earth where Christ will rule with the righteous in some sort of rebuilt Jerusalem and a New Temple (Ezekiel 40-48). Some of these passages that seem pretty clear are:

Zech 14:5-9

5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6 On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness.
7 It will be a unique day - a day known only to the Lord - with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.
9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.

And later in that same chapter:

Zech 14:16-19

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. (emphasis mine)
17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.
18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

Who are the "holy ones?

Some see in verse 5 above that the "holy ones" will come from Heaven with Jesus at His second coming ("and all the holy ones with him") and make some unwarranted assumptions. They presume that these "holy ones" are the saints who have died and gone to Heaven up until that time. This seems somewhat presumptious because nothing in the Bible indicates that anyone but Jesus has gone to Heaven in order to come from Heaven with Him (see the page called Heaven on the menu on the main page). These "holy ones" may be the army of angels or, if the "holy ones" are people, they are the ones from the first resurrection (Rev 20:5
(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

) who are called the dead in Christ, followed by the living in Christ. These would then be the ones who were just raised and caught up with Jesus to reign with Him on the earth, and therefore have not yet been in Heaven.

Think about it. Why would Jesus need someone to reign with Him if everyone was in a perfect, peaceful, heavenly place? Any offenders could be cast out easier than the dark angels from the War in Heaven. There are other verses, but when the Word is pretty clear, we should take the meaning from the plain statements.

"Survivors, are you sure...?"

Again, contrary to popular opinion, there are survivors of the battle of Armaggedon that happens when Christ returns, so He did not kill all the sinful, just the armies of the kings of the earth that attacked Him and that leader called the Antichrist (referred to as "that Wicked" in the KJV (2 Thes 2:8 (KJV)
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (KJV)

). Look at the other versions of the Bible and you will see a reference to the Antichrist (2 Thes 2:8 (NIV)
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (NIV)

). And, though it is somewhat vague (tongue in cheek, please), note verse 17
17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.

in the Zechariah passages in the box above. We can take this as being a confirmation that this Millennium will take place on the earth.

This allows the rest of the Bible to be correct with no "special" insight or intelligence required to muck things up. Also, if there is no rain for those who do not follow instructions, there must still be some non-believers, or non-conformers, still left on the earth. They have instructions to travel to Jerusalem, must celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, and there is punishment (see Zech 14:19
This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

) for those who disobey. Some may be able to equate this with being in Heaven, but it is difficult to believe that there are going to be any disobedient people allowed in Heaven after it comes to us down here on the renewed earth after the end of the Millennium.

What will be happening before, during, and after the thousand years?

So, reading the Book for what it says rather than change it to say what we may want to believe, the Millennium will be spent here on earth, beginning with the return of Christ, and will last 1000 years with the resurrected and living saints reigning on earth with Jesus over those non-believers (or non-conformers) left on the earth. This also means that Satan must actually be bound in some way to prevent him from deceiving the nations until the thousand years are over. Just guessing here, but that means some sort of bottomless pit where he is chained so he cannot get out. Hey, fancy that! That's what the Bible actually says!

Is this really a period of 1000 years, or just a long time?

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the term "thousand years". Some say it is just a long period of time without real definition. However, since it is mentioned with a reason for it to happen, a definite beginning, a specified length, and a specific event that ends it, clues indicate that it is a pretty definite period of time. While we can't be dogmatic about it, just accepting what the Bible says at face value make sense when compared to related passages, since there is no reason to assume it is symbolic.

Will this be a period of peace for everyone?

Now, another point of contention is whether this millennium period will be a period of absolute peace, tranquility, and a place where the lion lays down with the lamb and infants can play with snakes. Well, remembering the references to that place (Isaiah 11:4-8), verse 11:4 in the same chapter suggests that not everyone will have peace.

Isaiah 11:4-8 (NRSV)
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.

Now, those animals will evidently get along with each other and not hurt people, but there will be unrest, disobedience, and plenty of justice handed out by the rod of His (Jesus') mouth. All the prophecies about this period mention that Jesus will reign with a rod of iron, not a velvet glove. Since there are still non-believers (well, really they are non-conformers because how can you not believe in Him when Jesus is standing right in front of you?) that will be alive after He killed the armies from the battle. And one more thought, if all those left on Earth are dead, who is nursing the child playing with the snakes in verse 8?

Some of these "non-believers" are probably the ones from which the devil, after his release from the pit, will gather his army for the final assault on Jerusalem at the end of the millennium. You didn't forget about that, did you? For there to be some from which to gather his army, there must be some not totally on the side of the Lord. Peace? Not for everyone. That is, of course, unless Isaiah was wrong, not to mention John in Revelation.

More unrest...

Again, to be fair on this issue, we have to mention Isaiah 2:1-5 (note verses 3 and 4), mentioning "many" (not all), and "He will settle disputes" (so there will be at least some minor unrest), but cannot ignore verses 6-10 as well:

Isaiah 2:1-10

1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
2 In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
3 Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
5 Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

The verse above pleads with the people to stop their foolishness and follow the Lord, and below they are told what they are doing wrong.

6 You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob. They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans
7 Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.
8 Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.
9 So man will be brought low and mankind humbled-- do not forgive them.
10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty!

Why is the law from Zion even needed, if there is total peace?

For the time of the millennium, why do you suppose that the "law will go out from Zion" (verse 3 above)? With the resistance listed in verses 6 to 10 above, it is clear that even at the end of time, we will not have learned our lessons about pagan worship (Easter, Christmas, divination...), treasures (money, war machines, nuclear weapons, tanks, warships...), idolatry (popular singers, movie stars, physical beauty, homes, automobiles, boats, clothes), Sunday, and all the other things that people worship more than God. Worship?

Absolutely. How many hours per week do people put into gaining things, power, and worshiping the idols of their own creation compared to the time they spend with God, and His word, and teaching their children to do the same? We may say that God is more important, but do our actions actually show that? The law will go out because the unredeemed will still need it to highlight arrogance and sin.

So, the millennium is a promise that Jesus the Messiah will come and take over our affairs, rule justly here on earth, teach us, and guide those who pay attention to the peace only He can give. It seems that some will still rebel (Zech 14:17-19
17 And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. 19 This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.

mentions that those who disobey will be punished), but with the history of humanity, we should hardly find that surprising.


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