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Will Christ Reign for a Thousand Years? (Part V)
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Will Christ Reign for a Thousand Years? (Part V)

 

Does Revelation 20 teach a future millennium? Does the great white throne judgment occur at the Second Coming or a thousand years later? Will Old Jerusalem ever again be the center of true worship?

 

Millennium is a Latin word meaning a thousand years. Since Revelation 20 is the only chapter in the entire Bible which speaks of Christ reigning for a thousand years, it is often interpreted to mean that after His return, but before the great white throne judgment, Christ will usher in a thousand-year kingdom of peace on earth with His headquarters in Old Jerusalem. That interpretation, however, contradicts the clear teaching of the rest of the Bible.

We have considered already four major reasons why this interpretation of Revelation 20 disagrees with the overall teaching of the Bible:

1. The events of the Second Coming are final.

2. The Bible speaks of this present reign of Christ as being the “last days,” not a future millennial reign.

3. The kingdom of God has already come.

4. Revelation 20:1-10 speaks of the present reign of Christ, not a future reign.

At this time, we will consider two more scriptural reasons why we know the Bible does not teach a literal millennium after the Second Coming.

To begin with, the great white throne judgment occurs at the Second Coming, not a thousand years later. This truth is seen by comparing six events of Revelation 20:11-15 with the events of our Lord’s return.

 

The first event: Jesus coming on a throne.

Revelation 20:11 reads: “I saw a great white throne; and him that sat on it.”

According to Matthew 25:31, Jesus said, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory . . . then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” See also Matt. 26:64; Rev. 6:16.

 

 

The second event: Heaven and earth fleeing away.

Revelation 20:11 reads, “From whose face the earth and heaven fled away.”

According to Matthew 24:29-31,35, Jesus linked His coming and the rapture with “heaven and earth” passing away.

 

The third event: The bodily resurrection of the dead.

Revelation 20:12 reads, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.”

According to John 5:27-29, when Jesus returns to “execute judgment . . . 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.” Paul proclaimed, “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).

The fourth event: Every man being judged according to their works.

Revelation 20:13 reads, “And they were judged every man according to their works.”

According to Matthew 16:27, Jesus declared, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then [not a 1,000 years later] he shall reward every man according to his works.” See also 1 Pet. 1:13-17; 4:5; Rev. 22:12-15.

 

The fifth event: The destruction of death, the last enemy.

Revelation 20:14 reads, “And death and hell [Hades—the grave] were cast into the lake of fire.”

According to 1 Corinthians 15:25,26,51-54, Paul stated that Christ “must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” and associated this final event with Christ’s return at “the end” and the resurrection and glorification of believers. It is then that “death will be swallowed up in victory” (v. 54).

 

The sixth event: All men will be assigned to their eternal destinies . In other words, believers will “inherit all things,” and unbelievers will be doomed to “the lake of fire.”

Revelation 21:7,8 reads, “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.”

According to Matthew 25:31,34,41, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory,” He shall say to the righteous, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But to the wicked, He will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” See also Rom. 2:4-11; 2 Cor. 5:9-11; Dan. 12:2.

Clearly, then, Christ’s coming and the great white throne judgment cannot be separated by a thousand-year period of time. They are one and the same event. In other words, the general resurrection and judgment of all men will occur at the Second Coming, which is the end of the world. Therefore, since the Bible does not contradict itself, the teaching of a thousand-year reign of Christ after His Second Coming contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture.

Here is the final reason why we know the Bible does not teach a literal millennium after the Second Coming. According to the teachings of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles, Old Jerusalem will never again be the center of true worship.

Let us examine the weight of New Testament evidence:

1. Nowhere does the New Testament associate believers with the Old Jerusalem, which represents bondage, but with the “heavenly Jerusalem” which is free (Gal. 4:25,26; Heb. 12:22).

2. Jesus did not mention anything about establishing an earthly kingdom with earthly headquarters. He clearly stated, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Besides, when the Pharisees demanded Jesus to tell them “when the kingdom of God should come,” He answered, “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation [with an outward show]: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [or in the midst of you]” (Luke 17:20,21). Thus, Christ will never be “here” or “there” in an earthly kingdom. Therefore, since His kingdom does not have earthly headquarters, He will never again dwell in Old Jerusalem.

3. We know that the Old Jerusalem will never again be the center of true worship because of His conversation with the women at Samaria. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21,23).

4. Old Jerusalem will never again be the center of true worship because Israel knew not the time of her visitation. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and solemnly pronounced desolation (Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34,35; 19:41-44). He did not later revoke these words.

5. Old Jerusalem will never again be the center of true worship because after the resurrection of Jesus, the term “holy city” no longer occurs. God took up residence not in Jerusalem but in the Church; at Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled not the temple nor Jerusalem but the apostles and all those who repented of their sins (Acts 2:1-4,38,39). New Testament believers were then referred to as “the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:18).

6. Abraham himself did not look for the physical city of Jerusalem, but for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10-16). The New Jerusalem was his “everlasting possession” and it is also the inheritance of true believers—the seed of Abraham (Gen. 17:7,8; Gal. 3:16,29; Rev. 3:12: 21:2).

7. At the Second Coming, believers will enter the New Jerusalem. They are not seeking a temporary city in a future, earthly kingdom, but “one to come”—an eternal city, namely, heaven—the New Jerusalem (Heb. 13:14).

When will believers, with new glorified bodies, inherit that eternal city? It will occur at the Second Coming and the resurrection. Then they will sit with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:8). See also Matt. 25:31,34,46; Luke 20:35,36; 1 Cor. 15:49-52; Phil. 3:20,21; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:16,17; Heb. 10:34-37; 1 Pet. 1:3,4; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 22:12-14.

Obviously, then, since the New Testament associates believers with the heavenly Jerusalem, and since they will inherit that eternal city when Jesus returns, we can be certain that He is not coming to establish an earthly, millennial kingdom in Old Jerusalem. Clearly, the “heavenly Jerusalem” is a present reality for believers and, at the same time, a future hope when they will know fully what is only experienced partially at present.

Therefore, since Christ’s work on earth will be consummated when He returns, there is no reason to suppose that following the Second Coming He will be demoted from “the throne of his glory” (Matt. 25:31) to reign on an earthly, temporary, wooden throne in a building made with hands in Old Jerusalem. Christ, the Messiah, now reigns as Lord and King in His heavenly kingdom!

To sum up, we have offered six scriptural reasons why Jesus will not return to set up a thousand-year kingdom on earth.

1. The events of the Second Coming are final.

2. The Bible speaks of this present reign of Christ as being the “last days,” not a future millennial reign.

3. The kingdom of God has already come.

4. Revelation 20:1-10 depicts the present reign of Christ, not a future reign.

5. The great white throne judgment occurs at the Second Coming, not a thousand years later.

6. Old Jerusalem will never again be the center of true worship.

These six scriptural reasons should convince any honest heart that the Bible does not teach a future millennial reign of Christ.

 

Why is it important to understand that Revelation 20 does not teach a future millennium?

 

It is of utmost importance because the teaching of a future millennium relegates spiritual privileges and responsibilities of believers to the future. Many are looking to reign with Christ when He comes and are missing the joy and victory of reigning with Him now. Clearly, the thousand years of Revelation 20 relates to the present, not to the future.

If we, as believers, do not realize that Satan has already been defeated, that the kingdom of God has already come, that Jesus Christ is already reigning as King, and that the Father has raised us up to reign as kings and priests with Christ, then we cannot be victorious in our spiritual warfare against Satan and be effective witnesses in the world.

Actually, the teaching of a thousand-year reign of Christ after the Second Coming is a dangerous teaching because it denies vital truths of Scripture. Consider the following:

It denies the present Lordship of Jesus Christ.

It denies that we are presently living in the last days.

It denies that Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary.

It denies that the kingdom of God has already come.

It denies that believers are presently priests and have the privilege of reigning with Christ now.

It denies that the Second Coming is both Resurrection Day and Judgment Day.

It denies Christ’s promise to come again and take us to “Father’s house” (John 14:1-3), thus, it robs the Church of her hope of heaven.

It denies that there is no opportunity to be saved after the Second Coming. Multitudes are thus being deceived and lulled to sleep with the notion that Jesus’ return will bring “peace and safety” when actually it will bring “sudden destruction” (1 Thess. 5:3)

It denies the fact that sin is preparing the world for Judgment Day, not for a millennium of peace.

We see, then, that since the teaching of a future millennium denies the true gospel of Jesus Christ, it is like a cancer in the body of Christ destroying the faith of many. This truth is clearly seen in 2 Timothy 2:17,18. Peter cautioned that false views about the Second Coming can cause believers to be “led away with the error of the wicked, and fall from . . . stedfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17).

Obviously, there is a solemn obligation for ministers of the gospel to preach “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), and to preach not what many people may want to hear, but to “preach the word” as one who must give an account to the Lord Jesus at His appearing (2 Tim. 4:1,2).

Jesus solemnly warned, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18,19).

Then too, Paul also warned, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8,9).

 

As I bring this series of messages to a close, let us review several important facts about the return of Christ.

1. According to 1 Corinthians 15:22-24, “the end” immediately follows the resurrection of believers.

2. Four times Jesus emphatically stated that the resurrection of believers will occur on the “last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54).

3. Jesus also taught that the resurrection of believers will be simultaneous with the resurrection of unbelievers. He stated, “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). Therefore, since the wicked must be resurrected before they can be judged, they too will rise—on “the last day.”

We see, then, that the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked are not separated by a thousand years, as some suppose. Both occur when Jesus returns on the “last day.” See also John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15,16; Rev. 11:18.

4. Paul linked the Second Coming and the resurrection of believers with the destruction of death, the last enemy (1 Cor. 15:25,26,54,55).

5. John taught that the destruction of death, the last enemy, takes place at the great white throne judgment. Therefore, since the “last enemy” can only be destroyed at one time, the Second Coming of Jesus and the great white throne judgment cannot be separated by a thousand-year period of time.

6. Paul also associated the Second Coming and the resurrection of believers with Christ delivering up “the kingdom to God, even the Father” (1 Cor. 15:24). Thus, the Second Coming is not the time when Christ receives the kingdom, as many suppose. It is when He hands it over to the Father.

When Christ subdues all His enemies, Satan’s kingdom will be brought to an end and Christ’s eternal victorious kingdom will stand. He will then present His completed work to the Father and together with the Father and the redeemed “reign for ever and ever” in the “everlasting kingdom of our Lord,” in which there will be “no more” death, sorrow, crying, or pain (2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 21:4; 22:3-5).

On that Last Day, when the seventh and Last Trump sounds, and the Last Enemy has been destroyed, time will be “no longer . . . the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets” (Rev. 10:6,7). That will be the consummation of all things.

Clearly, then, the return of Christ is not the time when He receives the kingdom. Rather, it is the day when He hands it over to the Father. Therefore, the Messianic, spiritual kingdom as foretold by the prophets must be prior to His return on the Last Day.

These six scriptural facts demonstrate that the Bible teaches one Second Coming of Christ, not one coming in two stages, and one general resurrection and judgment of all men which will occur on the Last Day. They also demonstrate that Jesus already reigns in His kingdom; therefore, we do not look for a future millennial reign.

 

How does one prepare for Jesus’ coming?

 

It must be remembered that Jesus is coming to judge every man according to “his works” (Rev. 22:12,13), that is, according to “his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:14). Therefore, one’s actions and character (moral qualities) are important.

Yes, we are saved by grace, apart from works; but having been regenerated in Christ, we are to practice good works (Eph. 2:8-10). Peter warned, “Be not deceived, 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).

In the context of the Second Coming, Scripture gives us the following guidelines for readiness:

1. Repentance. “God . . . now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30,31).

2. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Jesus was speaking of true saving faith. Faith that looks to Him and finds forgiveness of sins as a result of true repentance with tears and humility (Luke 7:36-50); faith which steadfastly resists the devil (1 Pet. 5:9) and overcomes sin and worldliness (1 John 5:4).

3. Being obedient. Hearing the Word of God and doing it. Jesus made it clear that He is going to look for something more than a mere profession of faith on that final day. He warned, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. . . . Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock” (Matt. 7:21,24).

4. Loving the Lord Jesus Christ supremely (1 Cor. 16:22). One must not be surprised that one must love the Lord to be blessed at His coming, because He Himself let us know that when He returns, He will be looking for faith (Luke 18:8). According to Galatians 6:5, faith works by love. Moreover, only those who love Him are heirs to His kingdom (James 2:5) and will receive a crown (James 1:12).

In Matthew 24:12, Jesus warned that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Let us therefore test ourselves by the Word of God to see whether we really love the Lord Jesus. If we truly love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15,23); love one another (1 John 4:20,21); seek the true riches, not earthly riches (Luke 16:11-15); seek the honor of God only (John 15:42-44); and love not the world (1 John 2:15-17).

“He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:16,17).

5. Watch and pray. In the context of Jesus’ return, it is written: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).

When Jesus comes again, there is no second chance of salvation. Are you living in the light of the soon return of Jesus Christ? Now is the time to prepare. Don’t delay. “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:15).

 

This message is available by tape or CD. For your free copy, call 540-387-1916. Ask for tape or CD #114—How do I prepare for the Second Coming? Again, that number to call is 540-387-1916.