Chawnghilh's Blog

Millennium on Earth or in Heaven?

Posted in Qualitus : Habitus by chawnghilh on December 5, 2009

How are we to understand the millennium of Revelation 20? Will the righteous be “caught up” to heaven at the first resurrection? Will any ungodly remain during this time, with a chance to repent?

The twentieth chapter of Revelation mentions a thousand-year reign of Christ six times (vv. 2-7). This period, called a millennium, is not found elsewhere in the Bible, leading some to accept it as symbolic, not literal. Our understanding is that the millennium is a literal age that begins when Christ returns to Earth (Rev. 19:11-21) and the righteous dead are raised (1 Cor. 15:20-23; 1 Thess. 4:16). The nature of this period, according to the primary source in Revelation 20, may be summed up as the binding of Satan (vv. 1-3), a judgment scene (v. 4a), and the reign of the righteous with Christ (vv. 4b, 6).

Revelation 5:10 confirms that this happens here, not in heaven. After verse 6 in Revelation 20, the scene moves to the millennium’s finale and postlude: Satan is loosed; the nations gather against Christ’s kingdom and are destroyed. Then comes the last resurrection and great white throne judgment with final rewards to the righteous and destruction of the wicked. These nine verses (7-15) describe the great climax to the millennium, but they do not add greatly to our understanding of the thousand years themselves. Though not mentioned explicitly outside Revelation 20, the millennium finds support in other texts.

For example:

• Isaiah 2:2-4; 11; and 65:17-25 describe circumstances that harmonize with our understanding of a future reign of Christ on Earth.
• Matthew 19:28 and Acts 3:19-21 use words like regeneration and restoration to describe that time when Christ will return to sit upon the throne of His glory and the ancient prophecies will be fulfilled.

One other New Testament text confirms that a period intervenes between Christ’s second advent and the final consummation of God’s kingdom in eternity: 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Verse 23 mentions Jesus’ return, followed by an unspecified time when Christ reigns until all opposing authorities are subdued and the final enemy — death — is “under His feet” (vv. 24b-28a). “Then comes the end . . .” (v. 24a) when the kingdom is presented to our Father God and the all-in-all perfection of His reign lasts forever.

Although the length of Christ’s intervening rule goes unstated in 1 Corinthians 15, the sequence of events in this passage agrees nicely with the millennium of Revelation 20. Combining texts that foretell Christ’s millennial kingdom of peace, we conclude that —

1. Redeemed persons will be transformed to immortality at Christ’s return, to rule and reign with Him for one thousand years.
2. Jesus will rule all nations with a “rod of iron” when He comes. Many unredeemed will live on to be taught God’s truth from Zion during this age.

First Thessalonians 4:16, 17 describes the “catching up” of the righteous at the first resurrection. We will rise to meet Christ in the air at His coming and then return with Him to the earth. We reject the popular rapture notion that Jesus comes secretly for the church and takes believers to heaven for three-and-a-half or seven years prior to His public coming with the church.

Will the multitudes that never heard God’s Word or knew the gospel of grace have a chance to repent during the millennium, or just after? This tantalizing question finds no direct answer in Scripture. Based on God’s nature of justice and love, many of Christ’s followers believe the answer is yes.

Much about the millennium we do not yet understand. —To understand, you must be born from ABOVE!


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