Millennial Saints: Free from the Furnace
by Patricia Backora: author of: Tough Love in Christís Millennium
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It seems that our trials are a consequence of our descent from Adam and Eve, the two culprits who disobeyed God and brought sin and death into the world, genetically transmitting it to all mankind. Some contend that only through undergoing an endless stint in the Furnace of Affliction can we overcome the baser nature all of us are saddled with throughout our mortal lives. All of nature (including our natural bodies) groans in pain because of the curse which resulted from Adamís high treason against God. Romans 8:18-25 shows us that all creation is laboring under a curse, even though Christ paid the ransom for our sins.
One well-known Bible expositor believes that ďtoo much pleasantness in life for too long a period is detrimental to a believerís victory over the flesh. But I cannot accept that suffering is the one and only route to spiritual maturity. Why? The untroubled spiritual journey of countless mortals who will be born during the 1000-year Reign of Christ. They, like us, will have sprung from Adam and Eve. They, like us, will inherit their sin nature. The Millennial saintsí two biggest advantages over us will be the physical Presence of Jesus Christ in this earth to put down evil, and the confinement of Lucifer and his demons in the Abyss. The devil wonít be around to tempt people to sin. He might be steaming mad about being in the Bottomless Pit, but he will not be able to cause death, disease or misery of any kind for Christís mortal subjects. How wonderful life will be for that future generation! Scripture foretells a time when the whole earth will be quiet and at rest, and all nature will break forth into singing (Isaiah 14:7). Just imagine, life as a mortal saint without all the unpleasant stuff: traumatic trials, persecution, battles against satan. Notice, this blessedness will be on earth, not just in heaven!
Today we war against the world, the flesh, and the devil. During Christís Reign, the devil will be absent and Christ will reign supreme. But even then, mortals will still need to overcome their base human nature, as Isaiah 2:4;11:4; and Micah 4:3 indicate. Otherwise,why would Christ need to rebuke (and occasionally execute) people? And at the end of 1000 years of Paradise on earth which we are not yet privileged to enjoy, some descendants of the godly mortals who first entered Christís Kingdom will bite the gracious Hand which has blessed them for so long; that Hand which spared them the heartaches of previous generations. Those ungrateful mortals will side with satan, once he is temporarily freed from his subterranean prison. Desperate to regain power, satan will instigate a futile mass uprising against Christ (Rev. 20:7-10).
How glorious that 1000-year Reign will be! Isaiah 65:16-25 is one of my favorite Bible passages. Human lifespan will be greatly extended. No baby will ever die prematurely. Instead of slaving at two jobs apiece to have enough to live on after paying high rents, people will actually own their own homes and have ample leisure time to enjoy them in the company of friends and families. Home ownership will be a joy instead of a mixed blessing. Burdensome property taxes will not put them at risk of bankrupcy or eviction. Possibly, death will be confined only to unrepentant sinners, and the very aged would be translated to immortality. If Scripture is a bit unclear on this, why do I believe God might simply translate mortal believers to immortality once they have lived out their alloted life spans? Several reasons.
1. In the Millennium health and healing will abound (Isaiah 33:24; 35:3-6). All kinds of disabilities will be healed during that time. Isaiah declares that no inhabitant of Jerusalem will complain of sickness. If people feel a bit under the weather they can simply go to their Great Physician, Who will immediately answer their prayer for healing, as He would any other godly petition (Isaiah 65:24). Because the Glory of the Lord shall fill the earth (Habakkuk 2:14) divine healing shall also extend to other believing nations outside Jerusalem. Death and dying are the polar opposites of health and healing. If youíre not living in divine health, satan, the one who has the power of death, (Hebrews 2:14) is ministering death to you little by little. But someday satan will be confined to the Bottomless Pit for the duration of Christís 1000-year Reign (Rev. 20:1-3). Translation into immortality is the ultimate healing where death is swallowed up in victory (I Cor. 15:51-54). Surely a mortal saint of the Millennium could be granted this blessing during that glorious time when nature itself will be healed from the curse on nature, as described in Isaiah 35:1-2.
2. When you grieve for a departed loved one, even if he or she is in Christ, you hold a funeral and then you continue awhile in mourning, not because your loved one is in heaven but because of your aching longing to see that precious person again. I just canít picture a godly family following a funeral cortege, weeping and wailing in bereavement, if their world is supposed to be a paradise for righteous believers in Christ.
Isaiah gives this glowing report of the Millennial Age: Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isa. 35:10). And in Isaiah 65:19: And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Well, it wouldnít feel like much of a restored Paradise for some little boy if his beloved Uncle Jonah died and he were sick with grief for months on end, knowing it might be centuries before he ever saw his uncle again. He would certainly shed some tears!
3. At Christís Second Coming the heavenly Paradise will be emptied of her inhabitants, except for the Omnipresent God Who fills heaven and earth. All the holy angels will accompany Christ when He returns to Earth to take up his abode among mortal men (Matt. 25:31). Saints of all ages, along with these myriads of angels, will move from heaven to earth to help Christ administer His righteous rule. Even if a godly mortal could die before the end of the Millennium, how could his departed soul feel at home in a heaven vacated by His Redeemer and fellow saints? When Lazarus the beggar died and went to the abode of the righteous dead he wasnít put in solitary confinement. He enjoyed the fellowship of other departed saints, including Father Abraham (Luke 16:19-31).
Thatís enough to persuade me there will simply be no intermediate abode for departed righteous souls during the Millennium. The only resurrection mentioned as occurring after the Millennial Reign of Christ is referred to in Rev. 20:11-15, The Great White Throne Judgment, where the wicked are judged ďaccording to their worksĒ. The defendants at this judgment have no defense and are not written in the Lambís Book of Life because their hearts were never regenerated through faith in Christís atonement for them on the Cross. Because they are not found clad in the Righteousness of Christ (Phil. 3:9) , they must stand or fall on their own merits at the sinnersí judgment. Because even the noblest of sinful manís works invariably fall short of Godís high standard of Holiness, those tried on the basis of works are sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Even the best of manís own righteousnesses are viewed by God as unclean (Isaiah 64:6). So believers in Christ cannot be on trial for their eternal lives at this particular judgment. We as believers will have already had our sins judged at the Cross of Christ, at the time of our conversion. Because Jesus died for us, we are saved by grace through faith, not through any good works we can point to with pride (Titus 3:4-7).
At present Godís people are resisting an evil devil out to destroy them. This world is definitely not a Paradise. I recall my frustration at having to do without dental care, while my paltry paycheck went to pay exorbitant house rent and other bills. One house we lived in got burgled, right after we made a generous contribution to the Lordís work, expecting a windfall blessing afterward. Iím glad we gave to that particular ministry, but my motives were mixed because I swallowed the Prosperity Gospel (which I now know is false). Always give out of love, knowing your reward is in heaven, not on this earth (see Matt. 6:1-21). ďPlanting a seedĒ to get rich quick is no holier than spinning the roulette wheel in Vegas! Those were the days. I could almost see Old Sluefoot laughing about what he put us through.
It does not glorify God when the devil humbles you, then struts around boasting of his easy victory. In Christís Millennial Kingdom, mortal believers will not by tyrannized by criminals (Isaiah 11:9; Zechariah 14:11). People will be well, not sick (Isaiah 33:24). I struggled for years with annoying allergies which persisted even though I prayed to be delivered of them. The Apostle Paul also struggled with infirmities (II Cor. 12:7-9). But in that future time, health and healing will abound (Isaiah 35:5-6, Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2).
For a trial-weary saint, life feels like an obstacle course of hills to climb, only to be pushed back down to the bottom once you almost reach the top. I know the desperation of waiting long years for answers to prayer, and being tempted to give up. But saints of the Millennial Age will suffer none of these frustrations. Apart from having to live in their mortal bodies for nearly 1000 years theyíll have it made. The rich man will not defraud them, tragedy will not strike them, and answers to prayer will be swift (Isaiah 65:24). Iím glad to serve the Lord in the here and now, but admittedly, my heart is not in this present evil world. It is truly in that future glorious Kingdom Age where all of nature will be enjoying its Jubilee of Release from the awful effects of sin and death.
If fiery trials are a must for spiritual growth and staying close to God; and if too much pleasantness in life for too long a period (remember, those fortunate folks will live close to 1000 years in Paradise!) is detrimental to a believerís victory over the flesh, then their prolonged earthly bliss would be more of a curse than a blessing, wouldnít it? But the opposite seems to hold true. Habakkuk 2:14 says that during that future period of heaven on earth, the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Zechariah 8:20-23 and Micah 4:2 reveal the zeal Christís subjects will have to learn more about Him. They will literally beg to learn more about their beloved King and God. I donít think living in todayís sick world full of trouble makes people saintly. Rather, an ďI-could-care-lessĒ attitude toward Godís holiness prevails in the hearts of both sinners and backslidden believers. Indifferent to their eternal fate, the spiritually dead hunger for other things. They donít go to Jerusalem to learn more about the great King.They go to bars to pick up new partners. They go online to fill their brains with porn. Sometimes even sincere Christians get so weary from work they just collapse in front of the TV and skip their devotions. Letís face it, folks, we might mean well, but all of us are human. Being sick or saddled with too many troubles can make us more self-centered, not more spiritual.
Can you imagine how blissful life will be for Godís people during Christís Millennium and beyond?
Before they call, God will answer them
No more weary struggle in prayer
Laden down with leaden cares
No tearful trials in that Glory Age
Youíll never hear the mortal saints pray
That sorrow will darken their glorious day.
I donít expect to see any Millennial saints pining away for a return of the bad old days of satanís reign of terror on earth. I donít expect them to feel cheated because they have to do without great-great-grandpaís rheumatiz or the thorns and thistles of the Old World. These faithful ones will be called the blessed of the Lord, who shall neither labor in vain nor ďbring forth for troubleĒ (Isaiah 65:23).
Why shouldnít we also desire Godís saving and delivering power to set every area of our lives free from satanís oppression?
Just a question Patricia, you say, "Saints of all ages, along with these myriads of angels, will move from heaven to earth to help Christ administer His righteous rule." Yet I read in Rev.20:4--And I saw the souls of those who had been BEHEADED for THEIR WITNESS to Jesus and for the word of God, who HAD NOT worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. AND THEY LIVED and REIGNED with CHRIST for A THOUSAND YEARS. (5) But THE REST of THE DEAD did NOT live again UNTIL the thousand years were finished. Seems to be a little discrepency here. Blessings, Sharon