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Will Christ Reign For A Thousand Years? (Part I)
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Will Christ Reign for a Thousand Years? (Part I)

 

Does the Bible teach a that there will be a thousand-year reign of Christ after His return, but before the great white throne judgment and the end of the world?

 

Revelation 20:1-10 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks of a thousand-year reign of Christ. Some people interpret this passage and various Old Testament prophecies to mean that after Christ’s return but before the Great White Throne Judgment and the end of the world, He will set up an earthly kingdom in old Jerusalem and rule over the world for a thousand years. They describe this period as a time when Satan will be bound; a time when the unconverted will be restrained by Christ’s rod of iron; a time when wild animals will become tame; and a time of peace when there will be no more wars.

This teaching is appealing to the carnal mind, but is it consistent with the overall teaching of the Bible? In other words, does the teaching of a literal millennium stand the test of truth? As a result of prayerful, biblical research on the subject, I wish to show that since the events of the Second

Coming are final, the Second Coming itself is the end of all things, not the beginning of a thousand-year reign. Consider ten final events of the Second Coming.

 

1. The resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

Jesus associated the general resurrection with His coming on the Last Day, not with the dawn of a literal millennium. He declared that He will resurrect all believers on the Last Day (John 6:39,40,44,54) and will judge unbelievers on the Last Day (John 12:48). Since unbelievers must be resurrected before they can be judged, they too will rise on the Last Day.

Therefore, the Bible does not allow for a thousand years between the resurrection of believers and unbelievers, as many assume. They are both raised when Jesus returns on the Last Day. Moreover, since the Last Day is Judgment Day, we know that it is the last day of all days—the final day—Doomsday. Clearly, if language means anything, there cannot be a 1,000 years or 365,000 days after the Last Day.

 

2. The judgment of believers and unbelievers.

According to Scripture, Christ’s first coming was for the purpose of saving the world; His Second Coming will be for the purpose of judging the world.

Jesus Himself said that “the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (John 3:17). On the other hand, He revealed that He is coming again to “execute judgment” and connected that awesome event with the resurrection of both believers and unbelievers. He declared, “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 to the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:27-29).

Jesus also stated, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).

Also, Paul testified that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15), but that He “shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:1).

These and many other passages of Scripture teach that Christ’s first coming was for the purpose of saving the world; His Second Coming will for the purpose of judging the world. Not once did Jesus or His apostles mention a thousand-year era of peace between the Second Coming and Judgment Day. Clearly, then, Christ already came to save the world; He is coming again to judge the world, not to set up a kingdom of peace and prosperity.

 

3. Christ will rule with a rod of iron. All unbelievers will face everlasting punishment.

When Jesus returns to be glorified in His saints, all who “know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:7-10).

They will hear Jesus say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” and “shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:40,46).

To say it yet another way, when Jesus returns, “Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev. 19:15). Scripture indicates that the rod of iron will be used by Christ and His Church not to merely subdue the nations and force them into obedience for 1,000 years of peace, as some teach, but to break the nations to shivers and to dash them to pieces like an earthen vessel. See Rev. 2:26,27; Psa. 2:8,9.

Therefore, after the coming of Christ none of the unsaved will be left to enter a millennium, to be ruled, to be converted, or to be later deceived by Satan.

 

4. All believers will enter heaven to ever be with their Lord.

Time and again, Jesus and the apostles connected the Second Coming and the resurrection of believers with heaven and everlasting life, but not once with a thousand-year reign on earth.

Jesus promised, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2,3). Where is Jesus now? Clearly, He is in heaven—in Father’s house preparing a place for us.

At His coming, the righteous will hear Him say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” and they shall enter “life eternal” (Matt. 25:34,46). “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).

Scripture demonstrates that just as believers now have bodies suitable for this earth, at the Second Coming, they will receive glorified bodies suitable for heaven. In 1 Corinthians 15:49-51, we read, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 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 be changed.”

Jesus said, “The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36).

Clearly, then, when Jesus returns and the last trump sounds, all believers will be changed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible. For what purpose? To reign on earth for a thousand years? No! To inherit the eternal, heavenly kingdom of God, where there is “no more death” (Rev. 21:4), where they “are equal unto the angels” (Luke 20:36), and “shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:5), not a mere thousand years. See also John 5:28,29; 1 Thess. 4:17; Col. 1:5; Heb. 10:34-37; 1 Pet. 1:4-7; 2 Pet. 3:13.

 

5. All men will enter their eternal destinies.

Christ is coming on “his throne of glory” not to usher in a thousand years of peace and prosperity, but to reward the righteous with an eternal inheritance and the wicked with everlasting fire (Matt. 25:31,46).

John referred to the throne of glory as “a great white throne” (Rev. 20:11) and clearly stated, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:7,8).

Obviously, then, since all mankind will enter their eternal destinies when Jesus returns on His throne of glory, none will be left to enter a supposed earthly kingdom.

 

6. All of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed, including the very last enemy, which is death.

When will the last enemy be destroyed? At the resurrection of the righteous or one thousand years later? It can’t be both. At the sounding of the last trump, not only will all the dead be raised, but all of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed, including death, the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:25,26,51-54; Rev. 20:14).

Will it take 1,000 years for Christ to destroy all His enemies, as some claim? Absolutely not! Actually, according to 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, at the sounding of the “last trump,” not only will the righteous “be changed, in a moment,” but death itself will be destroyed. Thus, the righteous will be glorified and all of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed in the same “moment,” not progressively over a period of a thousand years.

Scripture further indicates that when Jesus comes “with the trump of God,” the saints will be “caught up” and “that day” (not days) will overtake the wicked with “sudden” destruction, not “gradual” destruction (1 Thess. 4:16, 5:2,3).

Jesus solemnly warned, “the day that Noe entered into the ark, . . . the flood came, and destroyed them all” and “the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:27-30).

Clearly, then, since the destruction of all Christ’s enemies is an event that occurs simultaneously with the sounding of the last trumpet and the resurrection of all men, there can be no enemies left to conquer after the last enemy is destroyed. Therefore, the teaching of a future, literal millennium and Christ’s enemies being destroyed after that period of time is unscriptural.

 

7. Satan, the arch-enemy of Jesus Christ, will be eternally destroyed, not merely bound.

Since death, the last enemy, will be destroyed when Jesus comes with the sound of the last trumpet to resurrect His people, and since there can be no enemies left after the last enemy is abolished, we know that all of Christ’s enemies, which includes the wicked, the Antichrist, and Satan himself, will be destroyed simultaneously when our Lord returns. The destruction of death is, indeed, the great consummation of Christ’s ministry.

 

8. The end of the world will come.

Scripture consistently links Jesus coming with “the end of the world,” not with the beginning of another thousand years. In fact, in the New Testament alone, there are at least six clear descriptions of the end of the world in the context of the Second Coming.

Then too, Paul associated the coming of the Lord to rapture His people with the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17; 5:2). Five times in Scripture the Day of the Lord is described as being the end of the world. To illustrate, Peter declared, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. . . . all these things shall be dissolved” (2 Pet. 3:4,10,11).

Isaiah prophesied, “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (Isa. 24:20).

Clearly, then, the earth will not stand another thousand years after the climactic day of our Lord’s return. It will be the sudden end of the world with no millennium to follow. See also Matt. 13:30,39-43; 24:3,29-31,35; Rev. 6:12-17; 20:11; Isa. 13:10,13; 24:19.

 

9. Time shall be no more.

The seventh and last trump, which is a sound never to be repeated, will sound at the Second Coming (1 Cor. 15:51,52; Matt. 24:29-31; 1 Thess. 4:16-18). It will herald the resurrection and judgment of all mankind (Rev. 11:15,18), when “time shall be no longer” and “the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:6,7).

Evidently, then, there can be no trumpet sound to awaken the dead after the last trumpet sounds, nor a thousand years of time after time is no more.

 

10. The door of salvation will be shut forever.

When Jesus comes again, neither Jew nor Gentile will turn to God. Jesus described His coming as the harvest at the end of the world. Now, “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it” because He is not “willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” ( Jam. 5:7; 2 Pet. 3;9). But when the “harvest of the earth is ripe,” He will come “having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle” to thrust into the earth (Rev. 14:14,15). Those who are not ready will be caught totally off guard and cry out, “The great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17). They will be “burned in the fire” and the righteous will be gathered into “the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:30,37-43).

Since the harvest is the end of the world, can there be seed sowing after the harvest? Doesn’t the Bible say, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7,8)?

Consider what Jesus said about “the day that Noah entered into the ark,” and “the day that Lot went out of Sodom” (Luke 17:26-30). Also, consider what Jesus said about the five foolish virgins (Matt. 25:10). He did not speak of the unprepared as having a thousand years of peace and prosperity. Nor did He speak of a thousand years of evangelism with a second chance to get saved. Now is the time to repent and turn to God. When Jesus comes again, the opportunity to repent will be gone—the door of salvation will be shut forever. See Matt. 7:22,23; Luke 13:24-29; Amos 5:18,19.

 

In review, we have considered ten final events of the Second Coming. They are as follows:

 

1. The resurrection of believers and unbelievers on the Last Day.

2. The judgment of believers and unbelievers.

3. Christ will rule with a rod of iron. All unbelievers will face everlasting punishment.

4. All believers will enter heaven to ever be with their Lord.

5. All men will enter their eternal destinies.

6. All of Christ’s enemies will be destroyed, including the very last enemy, which is death.

7. Satan, the arch-enemy of Jesus Christ, will be eternally destroyed.

8. The end of the world will come.

9. Time shall be no more.

10. The door of salvation will be shut forever.

 

Since the Bible is a unit of truth, it cannot contradict itself. That is, it cannot hold forth two (separate) conflicting views. We see, then, that either the Bible teaches that the Second Coming is the end of all things or that the Second Coming is the beginning of an additional thousand years. It cannot teach both. The finality of the events of that day leaves neither purpose nor possibility for a millennial reign of Christ after His return, however. Undoubtedly, the world’s history will culminate in the events of the Second Coming.

 

Consider another major reason why we know that the Bible does not teach a literal millennium after the Second Coming—the Bible speaks of this present reign of Christ as being the “last days,” not a future millennial reign.

When did the “last days” begin and when will they end? In accordance with the words of the prophets, the apostles indicated that these “last days” and the present reign of Christ started at His ascension and will climax at His Second Coming.

The prophet Hosea foretold that in the “latter days” there would come a king from the seed of David (Hos. 3:5). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter associated Joel’s prophecy concerning the outpouring of the Spirit in these “last days” with Jesus, the seed of David, reigning as King until all His enemies are destroyed (Acts 2:17,29-35). Thus, this present reign of Christ was to be “the last days” of time on earth, not a future millennium.

Peter also declared in Acts 3:24 that “all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” Clearly, the prophets spoke of “these days,” that is, these “last days,” not some future period of time. In fact, it is written that when the seventh trumpet sounds “there should be time no longer” and “the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:7).

Then too, when exhorting believers to “be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets” (2 Pet. 3:2), Peter made no mention of a future earthly kingdom. Instead, he spoke of scoffers in the “last days” with regard to Christ’s coming on the “day of judgment” when “the earth . . . and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:3-10).

In view of the world being on fire when Jesus returns, did Peter admonish believers to look for an earthly kingdom? Certainly not! He clearly admonished them to “look for new heavens and a new earth” (v. 13), which is a term he used interchangeably with the terms “heaven” (1 Pet. 1:4) and “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord” (2 Pet. 1:11).

When quoting the words of the prophet David, the writer of the Book of Hebrews also linked these “last days” to King Jesus reigning in His kingdom “on the right hand of the Majesty on high” until God makes His enemies His “footstool” (Psa. 110:1; Heb. 1:1-3,8,13). That is, until the return of Christ and the single resurrection and judgment of all mankind. At that time, all of Christ’s enemies, including death, the last enemy, will be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:23-26,51-54; Rev. 20:12-14).

Obviously, then, either the period of time from Christ’s first coming to His Second Coming is the “last days” or the time from the Second Coming to the end of a supposed thousand-year kingdom is the “last days.” It cannot be both. Since there can be no enemy destroyed after the last enemy and no day after the Day of Judgment and the end of the world, we know that the “last days” is that period of time from the first coming of the Messiah to His Second Coming and that it will not be succeeded by any other.

 

This message is available by tape. For your free copy, write to Agnes Macdonald, 2948 Creekwood Drive, Salem, Virginia 24153.

 

Be sure to tune in tomorrow evening at this same time. God willing, I will continue teaching on this important subject—Does the Bible teach that Christ will reign a thousand years after His return? In other words, when will the kingdom of God come? Invite a friend to listen with you. Until tomorrow, may God bless you and be with you.