Why I Believe in a Literal Millennial Reign of Christ
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Many question whether the Millennium is mentioned in the New Testament. Well, the word “millennium” doesn’t occur anywhere in Scripture, but the phrase “thousand years” (millennium) does repeatedly occur! John on the Isle of Patmos prophesied in Rev. 20 that an angel would descend from heaven and bind satan for a thousand years. During that time satan will be imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit. Verse 4 says:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (I believe this activity will take place during the same thousand year interval during which satan is imprisoned).
Verse 5: But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
“Thrones” and reigning with Christ are mentioned in this passage. In Matt.19:27 Peter mentions to Jesus that the disciples have forsaken everything to follow him, and what would be their reward for doing so?
Jesus answers in verse 28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Logic demands that there must be a time frame during which the twelve disciples sit upon these literal thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. They didn’t do that during their mortal lifetimes, and how could that happen in Eternity, when every godly person will be perfected and given immortal, glorified bodies? By then they will ALL have come to the fullness of the stature of Christ (Eph.4:13). I just don’t see perfected, immortal saints being ruled over with a rod of iron (Rev.2:27; 12:5; 20:4) by other immortal saints. Besides, the last scripture reference limits this particular phase of “reigning with Christ” to a THOUSAND years. Our inheritance in heaven is eternal, not for a thousand years only. Those who overcome their sin natures and attain to the maturity of Christ will themselves inherit all things and qualify to rule as mature sons and daughters of God (Rev.21:7).
Isaiah 32:2 says: Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
Isaiah 11: 1-10 speaks of the blessedness of Jesus’ reign on earth, and the taming of the animal kingdom. Today, wild animals are STILL ferocious. Verse four helps substantiate that this bliss doesn’t refer to heaven, since Jesus will have to execute wicked people during that time.
Micah 4: 3 speaks of the Lord ruling over many people and rebuking far-off nations, and enforcing worldwide peace. Verse four promises universal prosperity during that blessed era.
Isaiah Chapter 65:16-25 tells the wonderful story of a glorious day when people will live to be as old as trees (which typically live for hundreds of years, like people did before the Flood). Babies won’t die, and only rebellious sinners would die before the end of their allotted life spans. Verse 23 promises that people wouldn’t labor in vain or bring forth for trouble. Verse 24 promises that people won’t even be tried by delayed answers to prayer, but God would hear them before they finished speaking! Wish we had that kind of world today! This hasn’t been fulfilled yet in all of history. All of God’s people have suffered tribulations and heartaches in their lives which these fortunate mortals won’t have to endure. Ezekiel 34:25 promises a safe living environment to the point where you could even sleep safely in the woods. Old people are mentioned, as well as infants. This passage can’t be talking about heaven, where people don’t reproduce or grow old.
The existence of people on earth able to marry and reproduce disproves the Post-Trib interpretation of prophecy. If the Rapture only occurs AFTER the full seven-year Tribulation Period, the all believers would be changed to immortality, leaving no one in mortal bodies to repopulate the Kingdom. Jesus said that those who attain to the resurrection (or translation) of the body into immortality don’t get married (Matt.22:30).
These scriptures about universal peace and happiness cannot refer to heaven, because Jesus will clearly be ruling over a world full of mortal human beings who are still able to sin. The difference will be that satan will be bound during that time and unable to fan the flames of their sin nature to make it even worse.
Can’t the Post-Trib position still be true, based on the supposition that Christ might not decide to immortalize all believers at the same time, even though he casts all unbelievers off the earth when He judges all nations at the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats (see Matt.25:31-46)? Paul promises that at the Resurrection of the Saints we will ALL be changed to immortality, whether still living or raised from the dead (I Cor.15:51-52).
Some believers think that only God’s “cream of the crop” will escape the Tribulation Period. But the word “all” means all! Admittedly there ARE phony “Sunday Christians” and backsliders who forsake Christ. But if you love Jesus and walk daily with Him in a spirit of godly fear and obedience, you can be confident that you belong to Him and will be taken when the angel sounds the trump. Anyone who converts to Christ after the Rapture stands a good chance of being beheaded or otherwise martyred during the Great Tribulation Period (Rev.6:11; 20:4). But a few believers will still be alive when Christ returns to earth to begin His thousand-year Kingdom on earth. These people will marry and reproduce, so much so that after satan is released from his thousand-year confinement, he’ll be able to muster an army of rebels as vast as the sands of the sea (Rev.20:7-9). Just think of it! After a whole millennium of peace, prosperity, happiness, and untroubled bliss unknown during the trying days of the Old Testament and the Church Age, some folks decide Jesus didn’t do a good enough job and want to take over His Throne! The crass ingratitude of human nature is unbelievable!
Another striking difference between our dispensation and the Millennium is a hint at a return to at least some of the Old Testament ways which were not taught by the apostles to the Gentile churches. Micah chapter 4 prophesies a time when all nations will “go up to Jerusalem” to worship the Lord and learn His ways. Today, during the Church Age, God puts no particular importance on the geographical location of worship. Instead, each individual Christian believer is considered a Temple (I Cor.6:19), and the gathering of the saints is considered the House of God (I Pet.2:5), ordained to offer up spiritual sacrifices unto the Lord. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:21 that the hour was coming when it wouldn’t much matter where worship took place. But at the time Christ spoke to her, it was still the Old Testament Period, when it was still important to “go up to Jerusalem” to worship God with literal animal sacrifices. Only after Christ’s death on the Cross did the New Covenant take effect, ushering in the priesthood of all believers and the building of God’s spiritual house, the Church.
Zechariah 14:16-21 prophesies of all nations keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, and how God punishes nations who refuse to send representatives to attend this particular feast. Today, no Christian believer is required to go to Jerusalem for religious feasts. Paul said we could spiritually keep the Passover as we remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and by remove the leaven of malice from our hearts and keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (I Cor.5:8).
The main question this passage raises for me is: Will the ceremonial Law of Moses, or any part of it, be temporarily reinstated during the Thousand years satan is bound in the Pit? Paul’s epistles make it quite clear that the laws and holidays of Judaism don’t have to be observed by Christians of the Church Age.
The fact that Scripture hints at such a return to old ways of worship would make for an interesting study and debate.
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