The Consummation of the Redeemer’s Return or The Millennial Reign
It should now be evident to every unprejudiced reader that there are two distinct stages in the Second Coming of Christ:—His coming in the air, and His coming to the earth; His coming for the saints, and His coming with the saints. The first great purpose before Him in connection with His return is to receive His people unto Himself. Just as of old God translated Enoch to Heaven before He sent the Deluge upon the ungodly, so will the Church be removed frown this earth before the vials of His wrath are poured out upon it. The second great purpose before the Lord Jesus will be to return to the earth itself, there to set up His Kingdom and reign in righteousness, and it is the nature, the scope, the blessedness, and the duration of this Kingdom-reign which is now to engage our attention.
In popular parlance the era of the Messiah’s reign is referred to as the "Millennium" which is a compound word signifying a thousand years. From the remotest antiquity men have longed for and talked of a Golden Age, of an age in which righteousness and peace should prevail, and oppression and war should cease. Poets have sung of it, politicians have dreamed about it, and inspired prophets have described it. This era of blessedness is variously denominated in the Scriptures. It is termed "the Regeneration" (Matthew 10:28); the "Last Day" (John 6:40); the "Times of Refreshing" (Acts 3:19); the "Times of Restitution" (Acts 3:21); the "Kingdom" (1 Cor. 15:24); the "Day of Christ" (Phil. 1:6); the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" (Eph. 1:10).
There are more Scriptures which treat of the Millennium or Kingdom-age than perhaps any other one subject in the Bible. The difficulty is to classify them all. For purpose of simplification we shall now consider the Millennium under seven heads, namely, the Millennium in relation to Satan, to Christ, to the Church, to Israel, to the World, to Creation, and to Sin.
1. The Millennium in relation to Satan.
In our last chapter we saw that Christ descends from Heaven to find an organized effort to prevent Him coming back to the earth. Under the leadership of Anti-Christ, the kings of the earth with their armies assemble together at Armageddon with the express purpose of making war upon the Lamb (Rev. 17:14). It is in connection with this impious revolt that we read, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh" (Ps. 2:4), laugh at their folly and madness, "The Lord shall have them in derision." As well might a worm seek to resist the tread of an elephant as the creature hope to succeed against the Almighty. As well attempt to roll back the ocean as aim to frustrate the counsels of the Most High. "For the Lord of hosts hath purposed and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isa. 14:27). A short work will our Lord make of the proud rebels—"And the Beast was taken, and with him the False Prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the Beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone" (Rev. 19:19). This accounts for two of the persons in the Trinity of Evil. But one other still remains to be dealt with. Before the Messiah’s Kingdom can be set up, the great Usurper must first be cast out.
There can be no thousand years of righteousness and peace on earth while the great Enemy of God and man is at large. Post-millenarians, who expect the Kingdom to be brought in by the preaching of the Gospel and the activities of the Church, and Peace-idealists and Social-reformers who look for a Golden Age to be brought about by legislation and civilization, all leave out of their schemes and considerations one dominating factor, namely, the Devil. Behind all anti-Christian systems, back of all the inveterate opposition to the Gospel, beneath all the evil and wickedness which stalks rampant through the earth, is that old Serpent, the Devil. And nothing finite can remove him. Nothing human can disturb him. None on earth can bind him. Man is incompetent to cope with his mighty adversary. Legislation cannot reach him, and the Church is powerless to rid the world of his awful presence. The only One who is mightier than he, is God-the Almighty, and there can be no Millennium, no era of righteousness, and peace, no Golden Age, until the Son of God Himself returns in person and removes and imprisons the Arch-Foe.
The removal of Satan from this earth is described in Revelation 20:1-3, "And I saw an angel (We believe this "angel" to be the Lord Jesus Himself—the uncreated Angel of the Covenant (Mal. 3:1). If it should be asked, Why term Him an angel? the answer is, To connect Him with Israel, the covenant and earthly people. See Genesis 22:15, 16; 48:16; Exodus 3:2; and compare Revelation 7:2, 8:3; 10:1) 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 shall be fulfilled." Satan will be "bound" which is the fulfillment of our Lord’s word in Matthew 12:29—"How can one enter a "strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." The "strong man" is our Adversary, the Devil; his "house" is the children of this world, in contradistinction to the children of God who are the "House" of Christ (Heb. 3:6); the "binding" of the Strong Man is described in the Passage quoted above from Revelation 20; the "spoiling of his house" is the delivering of his captives (see Isaiah 42:7). Satan will be "cast into the Bottomless Pit" which is the fulfillment of Isaiah 14—"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the Pit" (vv. 12-15). Satan will be shut up in the Bottomless Pit and a "seal" shall be set upon him, which is God’s answer to that which we read of in Matthew 27:66, "So they went and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch"—what he has sown that shall be also reap. Thus will terminate that struggle which has lasted for six thousand years, a struggle which has been waged for the dominion of the earth.
At last the "roaring lion" (1 Pet. 5:8) will have been overcome, overcome by the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The Man with the bruised heel will have crushed the Serpent’s head, and the word spoken in Eden will then be fully accomplished. And who can describe or even imagine the blessed consequences! No more shall the brethren be accused before God (Rev. 12:10). No more shall the daughters of Abraham be "bound, lo, these eighteen years" (Luke 13:16). No more shall Satan tempt and try, harass and hinder the saints of God. For a thousand years the earth shall be rid of the Evil One and in his place there shall come "Times of Refreshing from the presence of the Lord" And this leads us to consider,
2. The Millennium in relation to Christ.
It has been divinely ordained that our Lord should fill three great offices—the Prophetic, the Priestly, and the Kingly. As Prophet, He acts as God’s Spokesman: revealing God’s mind, communicating God’s will, unveiling God’s heart. As Priest, He acts as Mediator between God and men, and by means of His atoning sacrifice He reconciles believers to God, represents His peoples’ interests before God, interceding for them and pleading their cause. As King, He will reign over men, enforcing God’s laws, and upholding on earth the claims of His Throne. It is of Christ as King we shall now speak.
Toward the dose of David’s reign, the word of the Lord came to Nathan, bidding him go to the king and, among other things, tell him, "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy Seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build an house for My name and I will establish the throne of His Kingdom for ever" (2 Sam. 7:12,13). At a later date, in one of the great Messianic prophecies, it was announced concerning our Lord that "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isa. 9:6,7). Hence it is that the very first verse of the New Testament reads, "The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, (thus linking Him with Israel’s throne) the son of Abraham."
Just before our Lord was born, an angel appeared unto Mary and said, "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever: and of His Kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:30-33).
Sometime during our Lord’s infancy certain wise men, who were led by a star, came to Jerusalem (the royal city), asking, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" (Matthew 2:2). Our Lord, then, was born King of the Jews, but as the inspired Word informs us, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11). Israel would not own Him; instead, they cried, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15). And when Pilate wrote an inscription and placed it over the Cross—"This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews," they desired him to alter it and substitute, "He said I am King of the Jews" (John 19:21), which is further proof that the Jews had rejected Him as their King.
It was announced then, in Old Testament prophecy, and confirmed by the angel to Mary, that our Lord should occupy the throne of David. In order to the fulfillment of this, our Lord, according to the flesh, sprang from one who was a lineal descendant of David, and therefore, He was born "King of the Jews." But as we have seen, Israel rejected their King and crucified Him. And what we now desire to emphasize is, that, Jesus Christ has never yet assumed the Kingship! On the contrary, He taught His disciples to pray, "Thy Kingdom come." Furthermore, He said, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for Himself a Kingdom, and to return. And it came to pass that when He was returned, having received the Kingdom" etc. (Luke 19:12,15). Christ’s receiving of the Kingdom and His return synchronize (cf. 2 Timothy 4:1). Christ, then, is not King today, for He has not yet received the Kingdom, nor has He yet occupied the throne of His father David. Nowhere in the Epistles do we find Him denominated "The King of the Church." Jesus Christ is Savior of the Church, Lord of the Church, Head of the Church, but He is not King of the Church, for He has not yet entered upon His Kingly office, and He will not do so until the beginning of the Millennium. In the Millennium Christ will rule and reign over the earth, not only as King of the Jews, but as King of kings and Lord of lords. It is then that the prophecy of Zechariah shall be fulfilled—"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day (a yet future day—see the context) shall there be one Lord, and His name one" (Zech. 14:9). Our Lord’s Kingship over all the earth leads us to the consideration of another important line of truth.
When Adam was created God said, "Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion." At the beginning, earth’s scepter was committed into the hands of man (see Psalm 8:4-8). But right on the scene of his creation came one who disputed Adam’s right to earth’s sovereignty, and who succeeded in wresting the scepter from his hands. Satan brought to bear upon him a diabolical temptation: Adam succumbed, and falling, he forfeited his dominion over the earth. As the consequence, Satan became "The Prince of this world," and as such approached our Lord in the temptation, when he took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and "sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:8,9). But on the Cross, the Lord Jesus regained the scepter which Adam lost; and here is the key to Revelation 5.
In the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse a remarkable scene is brought before us. The beloved apostle sees a book—"written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals"—in the right hand of Him that sat on the Throne. Then he hears an angel saying, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" Next we are told, "And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon." Many have been the conjectures concerning this mysterious "blink," but by comparing Scripture with Scripture we think there can be no doubt as to what is here in view. In Jeremiah 32:6-15 we read of a field being bought, and the receipt (the "evidence") of the purchase is termed a "book," and this book was "sealed." It is to a similar transaction that Revelation 5 refers. The book seen by the apostle contains the title deeds to this earth. These title deeds which Adam lost have been recovered by Christ. They have been recovered by "purchase," and the price paid was the precious blood of the Lamb. In Matthew 13:44 we read of a Man who "goeth and selleth all that He hath, and buyeth that field" and in verse 38 of the same chapter we are told "The field is the world." Hence it is that the apostle was told, "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof" (Rev. 5:5). What is seen in vision in Revelation 5 becomes actual fact when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth. It will be at that time the "purchased possession"—the earth—is "redeemed" (Eph. 1:14). Hence, when he comes back, His first act will be to eject Satan from it, establish His Kingdom upon it, and exercise "dominion" over it.
Another Scripture which throws light upon the Millennium in relation to Christ is 1 Peter 1:13. Here the second coming of our Lord (to the earth) is termed, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." This is in contrast to the first advent. When He was here before, His Divine glory was veiled and much of His power and majesty were concealed. But when He comes back again His Divine glory shall be fully manifested, instead of appearing as the gentle Lamb, He will come as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Instead of standing before human tribunals to be judged of men, He will summon all nations before Him and sit in judgment upon them. Instead of appearing in humiliation, weakness, and shame, He will be revealed in regal power and majesty. Instead of coming to be the Victim, He will return as the Victor, to sit upon the Throne of His Glory. So, then, the Millennium is the time when our Lord enters into the exercise of His Kingly office, when He will reign in power and exercise dominion over all the earth, and when His personal Glory shall be fully manifested. We turn now to consider,
3. The Millennium in relation to the Church.
As we have seen in previous chapters, it is at the first stage of Christ’s second coming that the Church is removed from the earth. At the Redeemer’s descent from Heaven, the Church, like Enoch and Elijah, is miraculously caught up, caught up to meet the Lord in the air and evermore shall it be with its glorious Head. Therefore, when the Savior returns to the earth, the Church will accompany Him. This is clear from Colossians 3:4 and Jude 14, so often quoted in these pages.
Exactly what part the Church will play during the Millennium it is not easy to say. Few details are revealed. A moment’s reflection will show why this is the case. It is in the Old Testament that the Millennium receives the fullest consideration, whereas the Church is the subject of New Testament revelation. Moreover, we must remember that the Millennium is the time when God’s Kingdom is revealed on earth, whereas the Church is a Heavenly creation, and has a heavenly citizenship and destiny (Phil. 3:20; 1 Peter 1:4). Nevertheless, one or two things are sure. The Church will be with Christ throughout the Millennium, and not only so, the saints will reign with Him—"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the brook, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and has redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on (or "over") the earth (Rev. 5:9, 10). And again we read, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6). Who can picture the blessed accomplishment of this promise! For two thousand years the saints have (more or less) lived as strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Many of them have been maligned, ostracized, persecuted and martyred. They went forth unto Christ "without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13:18). But now shall they be richly rewarded. They suffered "with Him" and now shall they be also "glorified together" (Rom. 8:17). And then will it be fully manifested that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
In the Parable of the Pounds we have a Scripture which sets forth one aspect of the reward which shall he enjoyed by the faithful in that day. "And He (Christ) said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities" (Luke 19:17). This Scripture seems to intimate that during the Millennium the saints will occupy a prominent part in the government of the world. Yea, it is written, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2). Ah! how different things will then be. The first shall be last, and the last first. Positions shall be completely reversed. Today the children of God (that is, those who really walk as such) are despised and hated by the world. This is the promise of our Lord: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father" (Rev. 2:26, 27). Yes, Christ’s position. Christ’s power, Christ’s prerogatives, shall be shared by His people, for He and they are one.
Again, it is during the Millennium that the Unity of the Church—in contradistinction to the innumerable sects in Christendom which now divide believers—will be fully manifested, and our Lord’s prayer of John 17:22, 23 fulfilled— "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are One: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou has sent Me, and hast loved thrum, as Thou hast loved Me." Not until the "Day of Christ" will the world "know" these ‘things, for then it is that we shall all have come "in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:18). Yes, and then it is, also that Christ shall come "to be glorified in His saints and admired in all them that believe" (2 Thess. 1:10). In that day, the Church will be an object of beauty, wonderment, and admiration to all the world. It will then be fully seen what great things the Lord hath done for His Church, in giving it a higher place—a place nearer to Himself than that which even the holy angels will occupy. We turn now to consider,
4. The Millennium in relation to Israel.
"And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,—Unto thy seed have I given this land" (Gen. 15:17,18). Here the two great periods of Israel’s history were made known to Abram in figure. The vision of the smoking furnace and the burning lamp intimated that the history of Abraham’s descendants was to be a checkered one. It was a prophecy in symbolic action; and like all prophecy was to have a double fulfillment. The order was first the sorrow and suffering, and then the glory and joy. There was first the smoking furnace of Egyptian bondage, and titan the burning lamp which typified the brilliant reign of Solomon. After which there was the furnace, again, the furnace of the Babylonian captivity, and since Israel crucified her Messiah the furnace has been seven times hotter than ever before. Yet is it written, "For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, for Jerusalem’s sake 1 will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth" (Isa. 62:1).
A remarkable statement is found in Deuteronomy 32:8 which antedates the actual history of the Jews. "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." Israel is here seen to be present before the mind of God six hundred years before they had any national standing in the earth, and two hundred years before the birth of their father Abraham. Yet, even at that remote period, God assigned to the descendants of the then scattered sons of Adam, their position in the earth according to the number of that people which was not then born. Here, then, we learn God’s purpose concerning the chosen nation—Israel is God’s earthly center.
In Genesis 13:14,15, we read "And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land which thou seest to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever." And again in Genesis 15:18 we are told, "In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto they seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." The land of Palestine has been given unconditionally to Abraham and his descendants, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11:29). But these Divine promises have never received anything more than a partial fulfillment. The patriarchs themselves were but sojourners in a strange country, so much so, they needed to purchase a burying ground it for their dead. It is true that in the days of Joshua, Israel entered into possession of the Promised Land, but it is to be particularly noted that they entered Canaan under the Covenant of Law (see Deuteronomy 27:1-3, 8-10; 28:1 etc.), and hence their continued tenure of it was conditioned upon their obedience to Jehovah. But, as is well known, they failed to walk in the Divine statutes, and turned aside after false gods. And long did Jehovah bear with their waywardness. Prophet after prophet was sent unto them, calling them to forsake their sins and return unto the Lord and He would abundantly pardon. But in vain. Ultimately the point was reached when God’s patience became exhausted, and in judgment upon them He sent them into captivity, from whence nothing more than a remnant has ever returned to their own land. It was to be descendants of this remnant that the Lord Jesus came. To the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" He was sent (Matthew 10:5-7; 15:24). But He received no better treatment at their hands than did the prophets who were before him—"He came unto His own and His own received Him not."—He was despised and rejected of men, and Israel disowned their King and put Him to a shameful death. While their Messiah was hanging upon the Cross, "All the people said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25), and God took them at their word! A few years later Jerusalem was besieged, captured and destroyed by the armies of Titus; hundreds of thousands of Jews were slain, and the remainder of them carried away into captivity. Since that time they have been a homeless nation, and wanderers on the face of the earth. Literally has the prophecy of Hosea been fulfilled, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king" (Hos. 3:4). And yet, in spite of all, they have preserved their national individuality, and have never been absorbed by the other nations.
Now, it is evident that the nation of Israel has been preserved for a purpose, and what that purpose is, God’s Word makes known. A marvelous future yet awaits these descendants of Abraham. Jerusalem is now trodden down of the Gentiles, but it is only to continue thus "Until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24). The tabernacle of David, now fallen down, is to be restored (Acts 15:16), and the one who has been for so long the sport of the nations shall yet become its "head" (Deut. 28:13).
The restoration of Israel occupies a most prominent place in the Scriptures of truth and three things should be particularly noted in connection therewith. First, the restoration of Israel cannot take place until after the Church has been removed from the earth. Second, the restoration of the entire nation will be a gradual one. Third, restored Israel will occupy a much more exalted and glorious position than any it has held in the past, not excepting the reign of Solomon. The first of these three statements is based upon Acts 15:14-17 where we are expressly told that it is not until "after" God has taken out of the Gentiles a people for His name that He will return and build again the tabernacle of David. The second and third statement, above, will now be considered at more length.
In Zechariah 12:9,10 we are told, "And I will pour upon the House of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierce, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Here is the starting-point of Israel’s moral restoration, namely the repentance of Judah. Be it noted that this prophecy contemplates the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem only, for it is not until a later date that God deals with the Ten Tribes. With the above Scripture should be linked 2 Corinthians 3:15, 16—"But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (Israel) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away." One of the first consequences of Judah’s turning unto the Lord in repentance will be the removal of the veil now upon their heart.
The restoration of the Ten Tribes is brought before us in Ezekiel 34—the whole chapter should be read— "For thus saith the Lord God; behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that He is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will teed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God" (vv. 11-15). The Ten Tribes restored to Palestine shall be united to the House of Judah and the two Houses become one again—"Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the Children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land: And I will make them a nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one King shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out in all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so they shall be My people, and I will be their God. And David My Servant shall be King over them; and they all shall have one Shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land which I have given unto Jacob My Secant, wherein your father have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My Secant David shall be their Prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them: it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and will multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctity Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezek. 37:21-28).
With the restored and re-united twelve tribes God will make a new covenant—"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they stroll be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jer. 31:3l-34; cf. 32:37-40’s; Isaiah 59:20, 21).
Early in the Millennium Jerusalem will be rebuilt: "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be builded upon her own little hill, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof (Jer. 30:18, cf. 31:38-40). Furthermore, the Temple itself will be re-built, built under the immediate supervision of the Lord Himself—"Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the mart whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord: Even He shall build the Temple of the Lord: and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both and they that are far off shall come and build in the Temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent Me unto you." (Zech. 6:12-15). This Temple, which is fully described in Ezekiel 40 and 41, will be an imposing structure of vast dimensions, upwards of a mile in extent. The Shekinah Glory shall enter it and from it radiate the whole earth—"And behold the Glory of God of Israel (i. e., the Shekinah Glory, see 11:23), came from the way of the east: and His voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory" (Ezek. 43:2). The Old Testament ritual (with a few minor modifications) will be employed in this re-built Temple—see Ezekiel 46 etc.—and as of old the sacrifices and feasts were anticipative, so those offered up and celebrated in the Millennium will be commemorative.
During the Millennium the land of Palestine will be apportioned equally among the Twelve Tribes—see Ezekiel 47 and 48—and upon thrones shall sit the twelve apostles judging the twelve tribes of Israel—"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me; in The Regeneration (i. e., the Millennium) 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" (Matthew 19:28). Apparently, it was to this Isaiah referred when he wrote—"Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment" (Isa. 32:1).
Many are the passages which describe Israel’s millennial glory and blessedness. The last six chapters of Isaiah are occupied more or less with this theme, and from them we quote a few portions. After speaking of the Redeemer’s return to Zion (Isa. 59:20,21), the prophet cries—"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1). The prophet continues—"And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of try rising. Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up try walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee, but in My favor have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the wealth of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish: yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified" (Isa. 60:3, 9-12, 14, 15, 20, 21). The Lord shall "appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of Righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory, shall ye boast yourselves" (61:3-6). And again; "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her), and thy land Beulah (Married): for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married" (62:2-4). Not only will Israel enjoy glorious blessings themselves, but, in the Millennium, they shall be a blessing to "all families of the earth" (Gen. 12:3). Then will be fulfilled that word, "He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit" (Isa. 27:6). And further we are told, "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of man), people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass"(Micah 5:7).
We turn now to consider,
5. The Millennium in relation to the World.
The Millennium will be the time, when, instead of Satan being the world’s "Prince," the Christ of God shall be its King. The form of His government will be theocratic not democratic—"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9). The scope or range of His government will be world-wide. All nations will be subject to His rule, and the uttermost parts of the earth shall be possessed by Him. "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring present: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him" (Ps. 72:8-11). This is what is in view in Revelation 11:15—"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever."
Perhaps at this point it would be well if we endeavored to meet a difficulty which many inquirers experience in connection with the Millennium. It may be stated thus. If the saints are all caught up to meet the Lord at His descent into the air, and the wicked are all destroyed during the Tribulation period, who will be left to inhabit the earth during the Kingdom age? The answer is simple. It is a mistake to suppose that all who are left behind at the Rapture will be subsequently destroyed by God’s judgments. It is true that "the slain of the Lord will be many," yet the earth will not be entirely depopulated. This is evident from Matthew 25:31. It is also true that "all" who now believe not the truth will "perish" during the Day of God’s vengeance—2 Thessalonians 2, yet many of the children of these unbelievers will be spared. Not all of those who will be gathered together for the battle of that great day of God Almighty will be slain, as is clear from Isaiah 66:19, where we read of "those that escape." The slaughter at Armageddon will be inconceivably dreadful, for from that battlefield will flow a river of blood two hundred miles in length and several feet in depth, yet we know from Zechariah 14:16 that a "remnant" will be spared—"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts." Finally; there will be a Jewish remnant miraculously preserved by God (Rev. 12) and these together with their resurrected brethren who were slain by the Antichrist (Rev. 20:4) will form the nucleus from which will spring the Millennial Israel.
The seat of Christ’s government will be Jerusalem, the royal city, "And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk His paths, for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3).
The character of Messiah’s government is brought before us in Isaiah 11:3-5, "And He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins." During the Kingdom age—in contradistinction to the present dispensation of Grace wherein God endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction—wickedness shall be promptly dealt with and evil doers will meet with swift judgment: "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off: him that hath a high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with Me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve Me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within My house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in My sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked-doers from the city of the Lord" (Ps. 101:5-8).
We turn now to some of the results of Christ’s government. During the Millennium our Lord will rule as "The Prince of Peace." For the first time since the flood, the earth will be completely delivered from the horrors of war. Then it will be seen that "He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth" (Ps. 46:9). The. Kingdom age will be a time of universal peace "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4).
During the Millennium there shall also be universal blessing. An exceedingly sublime picture of the conditions that will then obtain is to be found in Isaiah 35:5-10, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there. And the ransomed 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."
At the beginning of the Millennium there shall be a universal worship of Christ—"And it shall come to pass that everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 14:16).
What a glorious time the Millennium will be for our poor sin-cursed earth! Universal righteousness, universal peace, universal blessing, and universal worship! Surely we have reason to pray "Thy kingdom come." And now,
6. The Millennium in relation to Creation.
The blessings which will be brought to the world upon the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom will not be confined to the human family but will be extended to all creation. As we have shown in earlier chapters, the Curse which was pronounced by God upon the ground in the day of Adam’s fall, and which resulted in a creation that has groaned and travailed ever since, is yet to be revoked. Creation is not to remain in bondage for ever. God has set a hope before it, a hope, which like ours, centers in the personal return of Christ. "For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of Him who subjected it in hope; that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (Rom. 8:19-21, R.V.). A passage closely connected with the one just quoted is found in the ninety-sixth Psalm—"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. Before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth" (vv. 11-13). These verses picture the joy of all Nature consequent upon the advent of its Creator to the earth.
One striking effect of Creation’s deliverance from its present bondage is described in Isaiah 30:26—"Moreover the light of the moon shall be (in the Millennium) as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound." An illustration of the Curse being removed from the "ground" is found in Isaiah 35:1. When the Times of Refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord then shall "the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose." This is further amplified in Isaiah 41:17-20—"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it."
Not the least of the beneficent changes introduced during the Millennium will be the restoration of the animal kingdom to its Edenic state. The present ferocity of the wild beast is abnormal and due to the fall of man. It is very dear from Genesis 2 that, originally, man had full dominion over all the animal kingdom, but this was forfeited when he rebelled against his Maker. In the kingdom age—the Times of the Restitution of all things spoken of by the prophets—the fierce nature of the beasts will be subdued, for in that day, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw as the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice, den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:6-9).
By comparing Scripture with Scripture it would appear that, during the Millennium, there will be no earthquakes, no tornadoes, no storms at sea, but all Nature will be at rest and share in the general blessing which the personal, presence of Christ shall bring. And yet, there will be droughts and plagues upon the rebellious and disobedient (see Zechariah 14:18,19), which leads us to consider,
7. The Millennium in relation to Sin.
In spite of the fact that Satan will have been removed from the earth, and that Christ reigns in person over it, yet conditions here will not be perfect even in the Millennium. Unregenerate human nature will remain unchanged. Sin will still be present, though much of its outward manifestation will be restrained. Discontent and wickedness will not be eradicated from the hearts of men, but will be kept beneath the surface by means of the Iron Rod. Multitudes will yield to Christ nothing but a "feigned obedience (Ps. 18:44, margin). This "feigned obedience" will be, the product of power not grace; it will be the fruit of fear not love. In Psalm 72, which gives a graphic picture of millennial conditions, we read, "They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust" (vs. 9). Again, we are told in Psalm 110:2 that the Lord shall rule in the midst of "enemies." In Psalm 149, wherein the children of Zion are bidden to "be joyful in their King," we are told that His saints shall "execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honor have all His saints. Praise ye the Lord" (vv. 7-9). In Micah 5, where we have another description of the judgments which the remnant of Jacob will execute upon the Gentiles, we are told, "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off" (vv. 8-10). These verses do not conflict with those Scriptures which speak of great blessings, spiritual as well as temporal, coming upon the Gentiles during the Millennium, but warn us that the Kingdom age is not the Perfect State, and that while most if not all will worship outwardly, yet at heart many are still the enemies of the Lord.
At the close of the Millennium Satan will be temporarily released from his prison in order to test humanity: "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 upon the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city" (Rev. 20:7-9). Thus will be fully and fiscally demonstrated the incurable evil of the human heart. Even a thousand years of millennial blessedness, with Satan away from the earth, will not effect any change in man. Let Satan be loosed and allowed to go forth once more and deceive the nations, and it shall be seen that the carnal mind is still enmity against God, and prefers a Murderer to the Lord Jesus. Nothing avails short of a new creation. Miracles, a beneficent environment, temporal blessings—nothing without, can alter fallen and depraved human nature. "Except a man be born of water (the Word) and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
The final revolt of man under the leadership of the Devil will meet with swift judgment—"And fire came down front God out of heaven and devoured them" (Rev. 20:9). What follows is told us in few words. Satan himself is cast into the Lake of Fire where the Beast and the False Prophet are, and all of the unsaved dead from Cain onwards will be raised from their graves, to stand before the great white Throne and be judged according to their works. The purpose of this judgment is to determine their respective sentences, for there will be degrees of punishment among the lost, as there will be degrees of glory among the redeemed. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the fire." (Rev. 20:15). Oh, my reader, is your name written in the book of life? If it is not, there is nothing before you but a hopeless and endless eternity of suffering, of suffering so fearful that no human pen or tongue can adequately depict it.
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire." Unsaved reader, what an awful prospect is thine! The day on reckoning fast hastens on God is yet going to call you to account and take full satisfaction to His justice. Long have you defied Him, but soon He will put forth His power and deal with you in judgment. What He has threatened that will He most surely perform. The lake of Fire! Eternal suffering! Tormented day and night for ever and ever! Such a portion will be unendurable, and yet it will have to be endured by every Christ-rejector, and endured for ever and ever. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it" (Ezek. 22:14).
Following the great white Throne judgment and the casting of the lost into the Lake of Fire, Christ will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, "when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24,25,28; and see further Revelation 21:1-5).