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THE MILLENNIUM AND THE LAST DAY
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And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season (Rev. 20:1-3).
There are three general views about the 1000 years in Revelation 20. They are called premillennial, postmillennial, and amillennial.
The postmillennial view is that Christ will return after 1000 years of peace, and the 1000 years will be ushered in by mortal man. This view was popular about the turn of the last century and is making somewhat of a comeback. It is similar to the liberal Jewish concept: a Kingdom without the King to establish it. Rabbi Morris N. Kertzer says, “Today, only the extreme Orthodox still cling to the literal belief in the coming of a Messiah. . . . Most Jews, however, have reinterpreted the age-old belief in a Messiah, not as an individual Redeemer, but as mankind collectively, who by their own acts can usher in a Kingdom of Heaven. When humanity has reached a level of true enlightenment, kindliness and justice, that will be the Day of the Messiah.”1
This concept is also similar to the New Age religion. They believe the world nears a profound breakthrough and the Old Order is giving way to a glorious New Order of peace, prosperity and perfection.
Many embraced the postmillennial point of view about the turn of the last century. Others, however, said man would not get better and better; he would become “worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”a They said only the return of Christ would usher in the 1000 years of peace.
The events of the past century have forced many postmillennialists to turn to amillennialists. They believe there will be no millennium and say you can’t take Revelation 20 literally. Not all, but many amillennialists don’t see any prophecy being fulfilled and tend to push the return of Christ far into the future and make it a vague happening not relevant to this day and age.
The Old Testament predicted the first coming of Christ in both a literal and symbolic manner. If you take the same approach toward what the Bible says about His return, and not just a few selected verses, you will have to conclude that Jesus will once again literally return to earth and usher in the millennium of Revelation 20.
In his book Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost says: “The premillennial view is the view that holds that Christ will return to earth, literally and bodily, before the millennial age begins and that, by His presence, a kingdom will be instituted over which He will reign. In this kingdom all of Israel’s covenants will be literally fulfilled. It will continue for a thousand years, after which the kingdom will be given by the Son to the Father when it will merge with His eternal kingdom. The central issue in this position is whether the Scriptures are to be fulfilled literally or symbolically. In fact, this is the essential heart of the entire question.”2
When I first read about premillennialism in 1971, I thought it was something new. Tim LaHaye says, “Many of the detractors of the premillennial position suggest that it is a relatively new theory, having come on the scene during the days of John Darby and others. The truth of the matter is that premillennialism held sway during the first three centuries of the early church and was known as ‘chiliasm.’ ”3
Second Peter 3:8 says, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” From Adam to Christ may be a time of four days; from Christ to the new heaven and earth may be a time of three days. Israel is like an unfaithful wife who has rejected her Lord, Jesus Christ, and for this they have suffered for 2000 years. They will repent and live under His lordship for the last 1000 years, the third and last day. Hosea 6:1-2 may refer to this: “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”
Jesus will set foot on earth and establish His 1000 year kingdom. I believe postmillennialists and amillennialists are wrong about the 1000 years, but they may be right about the Lord coming again on the last day. (More about this later.)
(2) The Kingdom of God
Many have trouble with the phrase, “The kingdom of God.” Any person who repents and puts his faith in Christ becomes a member of God’s kingdom and a citizen of heaven by the new birth. Paul says, concerning the believer in Christ, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”b Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”c He also said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation . . . the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).
These verses are referring to man’s spiritual redemption and the spiritual aspect of the kingdom, which does not come “with observation,” but with a repentant faith in Christ.
Just as there is a spiritual kingdom of God, there is also a literal side to the kingdom, which began with Christ’s first coming. We could call this the first phase of the kingdom. When Jesus returns the kingdom of God will enter into what we could call the second phase. Isaiah 9:6 says, “The government shall be upon his shoulder.” Revelation 19:15 says He will rule the nations with “a rod of iron.”
When General MacArthur left the Philippines, which was under enemy attack, he said, “I shall return.” The defeat and rebuilding of Japan under MacArthur was but a small preview of Christ’s return and His kingdom. Japan renounced war and we have seen the results. When we think of all the wars and misery they bring, the poverty, sickness and despair that millions are going through, we should, for the benefit of suffering humanity, look for His return with anticipation.
When Jesus was asked how to pray, He told us to pray for His kingdom to come.d He made this a top priority along with forgiving others. I believe our prayers and work can change things. They can bring in certain aspects of the kingdom and make life better in the here and now, but the kingdom of God will not come to earth until the King returns to earth. And He and His kingdom is coming whether you pray for it or not.
There are those who believe that the Church through the Holy Spirit will bring in the kingdom, and the reason it hasn’t come is that we haven’t claimed it. The Holy Spirit has the power to make it happen, but this is not the plan. The millennium will only be ushered in by the return of Christ. Then the Holy Spirit working with Christ and His people will bring about world-wide health, peace, and prosperity.
The millennium will be great compared to this present age, but it will be far from the perfect and eternal phase of the kingdom. The millennium will have its glorious beginning, but it will end on a sour note for many. Toward the end it will decline in values with a sudden plunge in the last days. It will prove, as America has, that education, hearing the gospel, being blessed with health, wealth, peace and prosperity will not rid man of his basic problem—a sinful heart, which must be changed by the power of God.
(3) The Different Resurrections
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were be-headed 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. (But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6, parenthesis for 5a added).
The Bible teaches there will be different resurrections for the saved, with the lost being raised last on the “last day.” Often a verse may have a partial, dual, or even triple fulfillment with a gap of time. Zechariah 12:10 is a good example. John 19:37 tells us it was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified, and Revelation 1:7 tells us it will be fulfilled again when He returns. Daniel 12:2 is another example. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
At first glance this verse seems to be referring to one event, but notice that Daniel didn’t say all would be raised, only “many.” After Jesus was raised, some of the Old Testament believers were resurrected. “And many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matt. 27:52-53).
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, writes about the future resurrection of believers. In verse 20, it seems he refers to this resurrection which took place after Christ was raised. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” I believe this resurrection was the first fulfilling of Daniel 12:2a.
Daniel 12:2, Matthew 27:52-53, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 20:1-6, and John 6:39-54 indicate that the resurrection of the saved does not happen at the same time. Paul, speaking of the resurrection of the saved, says, “Every man in his own order” (1 Cor. 15:23).
The first resurrection, regardless of when or how many times it takes place, is for the saved. The last resurrection is for the lost.
(4) Gog and Magog
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breath of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them (Rev. 20:7-9).
The last revolt will be after 1000 years of peace. Like the first rebellion ages ago,e this last rebellion will be led by Satan against the rule of Christ. Many in Jesus’ day did not believe in Him, nor will many during the millennium. Thirty-three years of His visible presence here on earth did not convert the world to His way, 2000 years of hearing about Him hasn’t, and neither will the last thousand.
Many believe Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to the end of time. Certain aspects of these chapters may deal with the end, but it seems the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 and 39 deal primarily with the northern invasion of Israel in the tribulation.
The descendants of Magog spread out over the northern regions after the flood. The final revolt against the Lord and His people will not be limited to the north, it will come from the “four quarters of the earth.” The Magog of Revelation 20 may be the literal descendants of Magog, who will spread throughout the world during the millennium. Gog could be anyone who does not believe in God. The very name Gog seems to be associated with opposition against God.
After the flood, a new world and new ideas were born. Most of Noah’s descendants settled in the south where false religion and a capitalist society flourished, which became known as Babylon. Magog went north, where the first anti-religious socialist society may have begun. At any rate, the first modern nation to embrace this philosophy was Russia. Many Russians still believe in communism and blame their leaders for its failure.
Communism is more than just another political philosophy; it’s a system which promises a here and now utopia to its followers. Communism says there is no God. The doctrine also says that if everyone has plenty, this will rid society of its basic problem. By the end of the millennium, this materialistic socialist philosophy may be the philosophy of most of the unsaved. They may believe “the good life” they enjoy during this time is the result of a good government rather than God. And when things begin to fall apart at the end, they will rebel. Communism, capitalism, or any other ism is doomed for failure unless God is in control of the hearts and minds of men.
Over the years we have seen militant groups gather and battle with the authorities. Many want to promote their so-called right to live in sin. It seems we will have this same sort of situation at the end of the millennium, but verse 9 tells us God will answer their protest with “fire.” Then verse 10 says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
It seems everybody that takes part in the revolt of verses 8 and 9 will die in the “fire,” only to be raised to stand before the final judgment. Then they will be cast into the eternal “lake of fire” mentioned in verse 10. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
(5) The Great White Throne Judgment
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them (Rev. 20:11).
This judgment is for those who reject Christ. Jesus says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
John 6:39-54 tells us the righteous dead will be raised on the last day and will live forever. All the unsaved since Adam will also be raised, only to hear their death sentence and die again. John 5:28-29 says, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
(6) The Book of Life, and The Other Books
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works (Rev. 20:12-13).
The Bible speaks of people being dead while alive.f Unless they turn to Christ, their dead spirit will re-enter their dead body and they will be judged for their sins.
God says in Exodus 32:33, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” But in Revelation 3:5, the Lord says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
There are eight references to the book of life in the New Testament and three in the Old. If we look at all of them, it seems that every person had his name recorded in the book of life at some point in time, probably before the world began, and God knew who would be erased (see Rev. 17:8).
The deeds of the lost will be recorded in another set of “books.” Perhaps every lost person will have his own book listing all his sins; his very own personal biography written by God Himself. They will have no defense because they have rejected Him, and He will be the Judge.
Jesus will be the defense for the “elect.” There is no mention of our sins in the book of life; for our sins are covered by the blood of Christ, and we will not be charged with any of them. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
God has been described as an impersonal it: the “energy force that penetrates the universe.” Some believe God is a Principle; others believe He is like a giant computer with artificial intelligence which holds none responsible for his actions. God is a powerful force, with principles and massive intelligence, but He also is a Person who requires justice and will hold us accountable for our sins if we do not repent and turn to Christ.
We could compare the mind of God to a giant Personal computer, capable of storing every thought and every deed of every person in His memory. But God also has a big heart. He wants to erase every sin from His memory; and He will the moment you turn to Christ. You and others may remember your sins, but they have been deleted from His mind, never to be recalled again. But if you reject Christ, they all will be used against you at the “great white throne” judgment. There will be a print-out of all your sins, printed in the other “books.”
(7) The Second Death and The Lake of Fire
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).
Many do not believe what the Bible says about hell, but they still have a fear of death and what follows. Richard DeHann says, “Man was made with an intuitive longing for an existence beyond the grave. Alternating between fear and hope, he feels that death does not end all. . . . He dreads the thought of complete extinction, for built deep within him is a powerful love for life. But he also has quilt feelings, and is afraid he will be punished if he must meet a Holy God.”4
In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man’s body was not being physically tormented in hell. It was in the grave. His spirit, however, was in anguish in the flames of hell. He could be compared with a habitual criminal in prison. He was sorry he was caught and had remorse, but no real repentance. He also had the misconception that many have today. If only someone could return from the dead and tell about it, everyone would believe and “repent.” But Luke 16:31 says, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Technically, hell is not the final state and place for the lost. It is a holding place until the white throne judgment. Hell may be located at the center of the earth. When the rich man died, his body was in the grave but his spirit went to hell. One day his spirit will be reunited with his body only to die again, which is the “second death.” Body and soul will “perish” but the spirit will continue to exist.
The Bible indicates that man is a triune being, composed of body, soul, and spirit.g It also says, “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,”h but it says nothing about the spirit. When God created our spirit, apparently He made it forever and it cannot cease to be. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (NIV).
There is a saying, “If you have been born once, you will die twice. But if you have been born twice, you will die only once.” John 3:3 says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”
(8) The Just Shall Live by Faith
Many are trying to work their way into heaven without turning from sin, and they will never make it. But many are also working for the salvation that they already have; others are working to keep what they can’t lose. If this were not the case, Paul would have never had to teach immature Christians they had been saved by faith—not works. After being saved you are commanded to be “obedient.” Philippians 2:12 says “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” but this doesn’t mean we worked for it or work to keep it.
If you have been saved, you were saved by God’s Amazing Grace—and that’s the way He will keep you. Paul says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Jesus said concerning the elect. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I will give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”i Paul said he was “persuaded” that nothing or anyone could ever “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Paul certainly knew what it was to experience God’s grace. He was the “chief” of all sinners. Paul had heard the gospel before the Damascus road experience; but he had not heard it with understanding, for God had not revealed it to him. He was not excusing his sin, but he said, “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (see 1 Tim. 1:12-15).
At times the Bible seems like a contradiction. Jesus said if we “deny” Him, He would “deny” us.j Not long after He said this, all the disciples deserted Him. Peter even cursed and denied ever knowing Him—three times.k Even after Pentecost, he was far from perfect. In one of his prayers to the U.S. Senate, Peter Marshall said, “We know that we are not what we ought to be; and we know that we are not yet what we will be; but we thank Thee that we are not what we once were.”
God’s “grace is sufficient” to keep us, and He knows those “he hath chosen . . . before the foundation of the world.” (See Eph. 1 and 2.)
God’s law can’t change you; it can only show you that you need to be changed. In Galatians 3:24, Paul compares the law to a teacher in school who shows you that you need a new spirit. Keeping His law outwardly will not change you inwardly. Paul says, “For the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.”L In Romans 3:28, he says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
(9) What About?
There has always been the question: What about children and those who die without having heard the way of salvation? My answer is: God is just, He knows what He is doing, and He has got all the details worked out. No one is going to wind up in an eternal heaven or hell by chance. It will be by choice. Heaven will be full of repentant sinners who have received Christ. Hell will be full of the unrepentant who have rejected Him. They do not want to change or be changed.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He has many believing there is no God or judgment for sin. And if there is a God, He is not just. Many Christians have bought one of his biggest lies. They believe that God has condemned millions upon millions to an eternal hell “simply” because they have not had a chance to hear the Gospel and be saved. This kind of attitude is diabolical and can be compared to what Peter, James and John thought on occasions.m One cultist, who doesn’t believe in hell, scoffs at this shallow thinking, saying: “Is God so weak, so disorganized, so unmerciful, that he allows millions and millions each year to die with no hope of salvation simply because they’ve lived and died without ever having heard of Jesus Christ? Some theologians, struggling to explain what they are unable to understand, have reached the conclusion that God is just not strong enough to get to everybody. Oh, God is very good and certainly benevolent, and he really does mean well, they reason, but his power is limited. He isn’t as almighty and omnipotent as we may have once thought, they conclude.”5
God is omnipotent and has what it takes to save “whosoever” will call on His name, and that name is Jesus.n Just because many make foolish statements and don’t understand how God is going to work it all out, is no reason to question His Way. The way some Christians reason, it would be better for God to kill everyone before the age of accountability so that none would be lost.
Heaven and hell are real—and they both are forever. But God has got more power, wisdom, and compassion than many Christians give Him credit for. He has left many things unexplained, but no one is going to be eternally saved or lost because he was lucky or unlucky enough to hear the gospel. It will be by choice! Our responsibility is to live a life pleasing to Him, and leave the rest up to Him.
In response to those who ask “what about” questions, we could ask them: What about you? You have heard the truth.
God created Adam and Eve fully functional with the ability to reason. God has the ability to raise the lost, and saved, in the same manner. On the “last day” the lost will be raised only to experience the “second death.” Then their spirit, which was made for “eternity” and apparently cannot be extinguished, will be imprisoned in an eternal “lake of fire” and sent on an endless journey to nowhere. Everyone will “confess” that Jesus is Lord, but not all will make Him Lord. They regret that “body and soul” will perish and that they will miss heaven, but they do not want to change their ways. This is the “mystery of iniquity,” which began before the world began.
(10) The Day of the Lord
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10, NKJV).
The fires of the tribulation will only be a partial cleansing and purification of the earth. The one at the end will be total.
When Jesus came to earth the first time, He stayed some 33 years and said it was necessary that He return to heaven. After He sets foot on earth for the “second time,” He may leave again and rule the earth from the New Jerusalem, which may be suspended above the earth during the millennium. When Satan has had his final days, the Lord will return. Many of the prophecies about the coming of the Lord may apply before and after the millennium.
A possible sequence of events on the last day is: The dead in Christ will be raised, the alive changed, and they will meet the Lord in the air. Then the rebellious will be killed by fire, only to be raised again with all the dead from Cain. Then they will be cast into the lake of fire and die “the second death.”
You may ask: Why was it necessary for Christ to return to heaven forty days after His resurrection? Jesus said He must go in order for the Spirit to come.o It probably had something to do with faith in His birth, death, resurrection, and return.
Another reason Christ had to return to heaven is so He could fulfill the Scriptures about His return to earth to set up the kingdom. Perhaps He must leave again in order to come again and fulfill all the Scriptures about the last day.
The people in the millennium will need to exercise faith in things past and future just as we do. Toward the end, many will be no different than today. They will not believe judgment and the eternal kingdom is at hand. Through the cross God has made salvation possible whenever “whosoever” will turn to Christ. And if you never: that’s your decision.
(11) The Last Trump
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
In the building of the tabernacle, silver and the number twenty is associated with redemption. God also commanded that two silver trumpets be made (Num. 10:1-10). These trumpets were to be used on different occasions, such as the jubilee trumpet which sounded every fifty years. They were also used to “alarm” the people to leave camp so they could be “saved” from their “enemies.” The first blast was for the first group to leave, and the last trump was for the last group.
There will be twenty jubilee trumpets sounded in the 1000 years, and the “last trump” may be on the “last day.” Revelation 20:9 tells us the enemy will come against “the camp of the saints,” but the alarm will sound and the righteous will be redeemed. The believers in that day will have had enough of “this present world.” They will be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).
Scripture References [a] 2 Tim. 3:13, [b] Phil. 3:20, NKJV, [c] John 3:3, [d] Matt. 6:10, [e] Isa. 14:12-14, [f] See Luke 15:11-32, [g] Heb. 4:12, 1 Thess. 5:23, [h] Matt. 10:28, [i] John 10:28, [j] Matt. 10:33, [k] Matt. 26:69-75, [L] 2 Cor. 3:6, [m] See Mark 8:33, Luke 9:51-56 [n] Rom. 10:9-13, Acts 4:12, [o] John 16:7
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