THE MILLENNIUM AND ETERNAL STATE
The thousand-year kingdom of Christ, and the new heavens and earth.
- The Administration of the Millennium
- Judgment in the Millennium
- Sessional Judgment for the Gentiles
- Division of the Land of Israel
- The Millennial Temple
- Regional Changes
- Political Changes
- Religious Changes
- The Curse Removed
- The End of the World
- The Eternal State
- Spiritual Places and States
- Summary of the Themes of Prophecy
What is the Millennium? The Millennium is the literal, undisputed, 1000-year-long reign of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the time when the glory of Christ will be displayed to this world. It is the time when Christ will take what rightfully belongs to Him. It is the “end goal” of the purpose and counsels of God. By the end of the millennium, every enemy will be put down and the kingdom delivered up to God (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Names for the Millennium:
- The “thousand years” (Latin: millennium) – Rev. 20:7
- the “dispensation of the fullness of times” (Eph. 1:10)
- The “kingdom” (in manifestation) – Matt. 16:28
- The “Day of Christ” – 2 Thess. 1:10
- the “world to come” – Heb. 2:5
- The “regeneration” – Matt. 19:28
- The “times of refreshing” – Acts 3:19
- the “times of restitution of all things” – Acts. 3:21
Why is the Millennium needed? In short, the Millennium is needed to fulfill the “Purpose of the Ages”.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance…” Eph. 1:9-11
This passage has been called the key to the whole bible. It tells us the great secret of God’s purpose behind everything that He has done and will do… the glorification of His Beloved Son. This great truth is called “the Mystery of God’s Will” (Eph. 1:9) and “the Purpose of the Ages” (Eph. 3:11).
- Why has God chosen to do this? This great plan has originated from the very heart of God.
- Whom does God’s Purpose center around? Christ, the Man of God’s counsels.
- What is God’s Purpose? To glorify His Son!
- When will it be accomplished? In the Millennium, an administration of the fullness of times.
- Where will it be accomplished? In two spheres: in heaven, and on earth.
- How will it be accomplished? God will “gather together in one all things” under Christ’s headship.
We read that there are two “spheres” that will be involved. Christ will be glorified “in heaven” through the Church, and “on earth” through Israel. Finally, it tells us that Christ will have a companion with Him to share the inheritance. This “companion”, developed in Eph. 2-3, is none other than the Church, the Bride of Christ.
When will the Millennium occur? The Millennium is the next dispensation to occur… the next great era in human history. Charlemagne tried, Napoleon tried, and most recently Hitler tried to bring it in. The Church has even tried by forcing a union with the governments of the earth. However, only Christ will succeed.
Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology. The purposes of God culminate in the Millennium. Therefore, belief or disbelief in the existence of the Millennium has an enormous impact on the practical walk of Christians. A great division has formed in the evangelical world, centered around these questions. Dispensational Theology and Covenant Theology are the two primary views. Covenant Theology is traced back to the doctrines of the reformers Heinrich Bullinger and John Calvin, and some of the principles can be traced all the way back to Augustine of Hippo. It has been enshrined in the Westminster Confession. Dispensationalism on the other hand is a biblical teaching that was lost to the Church for many centuries, but was recovered in the mid-1800’s, and its proliferation can be traced back by every available source to the teaching of John Nelson Darby. Dispensationalism had a tremendous effect on evangelical Christendom. However, Covenant Theology’s recent resurgence is quickly reversing that positive effect. This is why so many believers are giving up the hope of the Lord’s Coming for His Church. Much more could be said on that subject, but it is our purpose to present what we believe is God’s view from His Word, and not man’s ideas, or even to review the sad history of the Church.
The Kingdom of Heaven in Manifestation. The subject of the Millennium is closely linked with the subject of the kingdom of heaven. Many prophecies in the Old Testament (Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; Gen. 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:12-13) spoke of the glorious coming kingdom of the Messiah. But when the Messiah came, He was rejected by His people. Jesus then began to teach about the kingdom “in mystery”; i.e. that the kingdom “in manifestation” would be postponed and a “mysterious” phase would be ushered in first. We live in that “mystery” phase today. But the Word of God is sure, and the “manifestation” phase is guaranteed. The glorious day will come when Christ returns in power and glory with all His heavenly saints. He will establish His Kingdom that will last for one thousand years. read more…
The Administration of the Millennium
The Millennial Kingdom. The Lord will first establish His kingdom on earth, then return to heaven and rule. (Psa. 103:19). The Kingdom will extend over the whole world (Rev. 11:15).
Two compartments. The millennial Kingdom will have two compartments. The heavenly side is called “the Kingdom of the Father” (Matt. 13:43). The Father’s kingdom will contain all the heavenly saints who “shine forth” in heavenly glory. That will include Old Testament saints (Matt. 8:11), the Church, tribulation martyrs, as well as children below the age of responsibility. The earthly side is called “the Kingdom of the Son of Man” (Matt. 13:41). Whenever we get the kingdom or coming of the Son of man, it is always connected with His reign on the earth. The preserved remnant of the Jews and the believing Gentiles who have received the gospel of the kingdom will populate this earthly compartment. These two distinct but connected spheres or departments within the Kingdom are correlated to the two spheres of Eph. 1:10; “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth even in him” (Eph. 1:10).
Church’s Role. All the heavenly saints will reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4), but the Church as Christ’s bride has a special role in administration: over Israel and over the Gentile nations (Rev 21:10-12). The Church in her Millennial role is pictured by the “heavenly city Jerusalem” in Rev. 21:9 – 22:5). The Lord will display His bride (the Church) to the world. She will reflect the glory of God. (Rev. 21:9 – 22:5). The Lord will share everything that belongs to Him with the Church, His bride (Eph. 1:11). The Lord will possess His inheritance (the universe) “in the saints” by us possessing it! (Eph. 1:18). The Church will have the administrative role once filled by the angels, ruling over the nations (Rev. 21:12). The twelve apostles will have the special privilege of ruling over the nation of Israel (Rev. 21:14, Matt. 19:28). The rest of the Church will rule over other cities, on the basis of our faithfulness in this life (Luke 19:11-27). The Church will also judge angels; “Do ye not know that we shall judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3).
“Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration 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.” Matt. 19:28
“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” Rev. 21:14
Israel’s Role. Israel will reign on the earth, over all nations, as the center of Jehovah’s operations (Psa. 47:3). They will do this under the Church’s supervision. The Lord’s authority will be on the earth in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem (Ezek. 43:7, 48:35).
Added Details of Millennial Administration. After the Kingdom is established, Christ will be devoted to His Bride and will have an earthly representative in administration, called “the prince” or vice-regent” of Christ.
“As for the prince, he, the prince, shall sit in it to eat bread before Jehovah: he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.” Ezek. 44:3
There will be other leaders in Israel as well, at least early on in the Millennium for military reasons: seven shepherds and eight principle men.
“And this man shall be Peace. When the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight princes of men.” Mic. 5:5
Finally, Israel will be the head of all nations:
“He subdueth the peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.” Psa. 47:3
Judgment in the Millennium
Davidic and Solomonic Characters. At the Appearing, the Lord will be in His Davidic character, as a warrior King. He is seen coming out of heaven on a white horse, prepared for battle (Rev. 19:11). This is much like King David, who conquered the Philistines and all Israel’s enemies. He was “a man of war” (1 Chron. 28:3). But David’s son was “a man of rest”, and the Lord promised; “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days” (1 Chron. 22:9). In the Millennium, the Lord will be in His Solomonic character, peaceful and calm. This does not mean that there are no judgments in the Millennium; but it means they will be calm judgments.
Judgment to Bring about Righteousness. One of the great misunderstandings of Covenant Theology is that the gospel is what will unite the world and bring peace to the earth. This is not true. In fact, it is one of the great moral lessons of prophecy, that evil is what will unite the world, and righteous judgment is what will bring peace. Man’s heart is so corrupt and prone to evil that only judgment will deter him; “Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD” (Isa. 26:10). Peace is impossible without righteousness; “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isa. 32:17). And righteousness is impossible without judgment; “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isa. 26:9). These necessary judgments are called the judgments of the “quick” or living souls.
Judgment of the Quick. “The judgment of the quick” (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5). The judgment of the “quick” or living is when the Lord will deal with the living persons on earth, at the START of the Millennium. It includes:
However, those who are living throughout the Millennium will not escape judgment.
- The Ongoing Judgment throughout the Millennium (Zech. 14:17; Psa. 101:8)
- The Final Judgment of the Quick (Rev. 20:7-9)
Judgment of the Dead. “The judgment of the dead” occurs at the END of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11-15), when those who have died without faith will be raised to stand before the great white throne, and then be cast into the lake of fire. See notes on the two resurrections.
Sessional Judgment for the Gentiles
Sessional Judgment for the Gentiles. During the 7-year tribulation, the gospel of the Kingdom will be carried to “all the nations” (Matt. 24:14; Isa. 66:19). Some will accept this gospel, others will reject it. Those who reject it will ignore the desperate need of the Jewish preachers, but the faithful will shelter and feed them. At this sessional judgment, the Gentiles will be separated into two groups, the sheep and the goats.
“But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left.” Matt. 25:31-33
The Lord will reveal to all that their personal faith or unbelief was demonstrated by their treatment of the faithful Jewish remnant, whom he calls “My brethren”. The criteria by which the Gentiles will be separated is according to their treatment of the remnant. A great many will receive the gospel of the kingdom. We read of them in Rev. 7:9 as “A great multitude which no man could number.” They are the sheep. Others will reject the gospel and persecute the remnant. They are the goats. The sheep will enter the Kingdom, the goats will go to the lake of fire.
“And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” Matt. 25:46
This is the sessional judgment “of the quick”… the living Gentiles at the beginning of the Millennium. There is another sessional judgment “of the dead” that will occur at the end of the Millennium, called the great white throne judgment (Rev. 20:11). See judgment of the quick and the dead. Down through the centuries these two events have been frequently confused. The believers who receive the gospel of the grace of God today will never stand before the sessional judgment of Christ… “there is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). There will be a judgment seat of Christ for the believer, but it has nothing to do with eternal salvation.
Some have mocked the feasibility of the Lord bringing every living Gentile to the land of Palestine to stand before His throne for judgment. However, this is what the Word of God says, and we must believe it by faith. Also, remember that the population of the earth will be vastly reduced by this time.
Division of the Land of Israel
The Portions for Twelve Tribes. The land of Palestine will not be divided as it was in the days of Joshua. Israel will possess the whole land according to the boundaries God promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18). The land will be divided into parallel bands, running east to west. Ezekiel describes this in great detail, starting with Dan;
“…the east and west side belonging to him–shall Dan have one portion.” Ezek. 48:1
The progression of tribes goes down the list; Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, then Judah (Ezek. 48:1-7). Then the following verses describe another portion that will belong to the Lord.
“And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the heave-offering that ye shall offer, five and twenty thousand cubits in breadth, and in length as one of the parts from the east side unto the west side: and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it.” Ezek. 48:8
Starting in v.23 the parallel bands resume for the remaining five tribes; Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad (Ezek. 48:23-27).
The Portion for the Prince will lay between the inheritances of Judah and Benjamin. A huge area encompassing Jerusalem will be raise up like a large plateau. This raised plateau is called “the mountain of the Lord’s house” (Isa. 2:2-3) and “the Holy Oblation to the Lord” (Ezek. 48:10). Israel will “offer” this portion of land to the Lord for His use. It is on this raised plain that the millennial temple will be built, and the earthly city of Jerusalem.
“Between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince” (Ezek. 48:22).
“All the land from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem shall be turned as the Arabah; and Jerusalem shall be lifted up, and shall dwell in her own place.” Zechariah 14:10
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2
A double river will proceed out from under the threshold of the Millennial temple, and flow “toward the east district”, then turn south. In the rebuilt city it will part into two heads and become a “double river”. The river will grow deeper and deeper as it goes. On the east side, when the waters reach the Dead Sea “the waters thereof shall be healed”. In fact, “everything” that is touched by the river will be rejuvenated (Ezek. 47:8-10). Even the trees that line the banks will produce nourishing food and medicinal leaves (Ezek. 47:12). While the Dead Sea is healed, the marshes south of the Dead Sea will never be healed (Ezek. 47:11). Perhaps this is because these marshes cover the old ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Recall that “the Vale of Siddim was full of slime pits”.
The Heavenly Jerusalem. The city described in Rev. 21:9 – 22:5 is not heaven itself, nor it is the earthly city of Jerusalem. The city described in Rev. 21-22 is the heavenly Bride, the Church of God, coming down to reflect the glory of God to the Millennial earth, and to participate in the administration of the Kingdom.
“And there came one of the seven angels which had had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke with me, saying, Come here, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the Spirit, and set me on a great and high mountain, and shewed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, having the glory of God.” Rev 21:9-11
While the city in Revelation is called “Jerusalem”, it is distinct from the earthly city described in Ezekiel. Both have rivers, with trees that have both leaves and fruit. But the Church remains distinctly heavenly. It never says that the Church “touches” the earth, only that we “reign over the earth”. Are the dimensions of the Heavenly Jerusalem given in Rev. 21 literal? Just think about it. 12,000 stadia is 1500 miles. It if was literal, the Church would be 1500 miles cubed. That would be like balancing a Rubix cube (the city) on top of a basketball (the earth)! For those who can’t remember earth science, space begins at around 62 miles from the earth’s surface. If those dimensions were literal, then 1 – (62 mi. /1500 mi) = 96% of the city would be in space! Clearly, as with everything else in Revelation, the numbers are symbolic, not literal.
The Oblation unto the Lord. Ezekiel details the “oblation” or “heave-offering”, which is the part of the prince’s portion containing the Millennial Temple and rebuilt city of Jerusalem. The whole area is 25,000 cubits square, divided into three sections. The upper section is 10,000 cubits deep, and it is “for the priests… and the sanctuary of Jehovah shall be in the midst of it” (Ezek. 48:8-10). It tells us that the Millennial priests will be the sons of Zadok (Ezek. 48:11), descended from Phineas, who was a type of Christ in Numbers 25. As Solomon thrust Abiathar from the priesthood, so Christ will put the ancient Eleazar/Ithamar controversy to rest.
The next section will also be 10,000 cubits deep, and it is for “the Levites” (Ezek. 48:12-14). The remaining “five thousand that are left” will be a common place containing “the city, dwellings and suburbs”. The rebuilt city of Jerusalem will be centered “in the midst of it”. The city itself will be 4500 cubits square, with suburbs surrounding the city in a band 250 cubits wide on all sides (Ezek. 48:15-17). So, the city will consume a total of 5000 out of 25000 cubits in the third section. The remaining real estate (10,000 cubits to the east and west) will be farmland “for the support of them that serve the city” (Ezek. 48:18). Representatives of all twelve tribes will farm that land (Ezek. 48:19). The remaining land between the inheritances of Benjamin and Judah excluding the Oblation will be “for the prince” (Ezek. 48:20-21).
Note: these details are not the “most important” parts of prophecy, but they are still encouraging to read and understand. It all fits together perfectly! J.N. Darby once said:
“For myself, I attach more importance to the larger features of prophecy… However this may be, there is nothing to hinder your study of prophecy, even in its minute details… The more we enter into their minute details, the more does perfection appear.” – J.N. Darby
The Millennial Temple
Five Temples. There are five Jewish Temples in the Word of God:
The most insignificant of these temples was Zerubbabel’s, yet in the book of Haggai a wonderful encouragement is given to the remnant who built it. God connected that little temple with the coming Millennial Temple, and referred to it as “the latter glory of this house”. Read Haggai 2:3-9.
The Millennial Temple is described in detail in Ezekiel 40 – 42. Just about every significant feature is described in detail, including dimensions! Dimensions are given in measuring reeds. Each reed is 6 royal cubits, or about 10.5 feet (Ezek. 40:5). Below is one artist’s rendering of the temple based on the measurements given in Ezekiel. It is quite accurate as far as I can tell.
Features of the Millennial Temple. The temple complex will be 500 reeds square, or 1 square mile! That makes this complex six times the areal footprint of the largest building in the world (Boeing Everett Factory = 0.15 sq. miles)! The complex consists of an outer wall, in which are set three outer gates. Inside the wall is the lower court, which is a pavement that will hold great multitudes who will come to worship the Lord. Around the perimeter are dining rooms and other courts. In the center of the lower court is the inner court, which is closed off, but accessed by three inner gates. Inside this inner court is the great altar, upon which the Millennial sacrifices will be offered. To the rear of the inner court is the western building which is where sacrifices will be prepared. To either side will be chambers for the priests, rising three stories tall! In the center, separated by a certain distance is the Temple itself. The entrance to the temple will not be closed by a veil, but rather a hinged door. Inside the temple will be a “most holy place”. Inside the most holy place is the earthly throne of the Lord:
“And he said unto me, Son of man, this is the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever.” Ezek. 43:7
There will be no “ark”, as the presence of the Lord will be there. The glory of the Lord, the Shakina glory will come in from the east, and fill the temple (Ezek. 43:1-6). The “Law of the House”, the one pervading principle that will govern the whole complex is holiness:
“This is the law of the house: Upon the top of the mountain all its border round about is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.” Ezek. 43:12
Earthly Jerusalem. The old ruins of Jerusalem will be rebuilt (Jer. 30:18; 31:38-40), as well as new structure added. The rebuilt city will have 12 gates (three on a side) same as the heavenly Jerusalem (Ezek. 48:30-35). The city gates will never be closed (Isa. 60:11), and boys and girls will play safely in the streets (Zech. 8:3-8). Every inhabitant of Jerusalem will be righteous (Isa. 60:21). Also, Jerusalem will be the metropolitan capital of the world… all nations will flow to it (Isa. 2:2). “The name of the city from that day shall be, the LORD is there” (Ezek. 48:35).
Geological Changes. The “tongue” of the Red Sea (the east and west arms of the sea which form the Sinai Peninsula) will be dried (Isa. 11:15). The “depths of the Nile” (Zech. 10:11) and her seven streams (Isa. 11:15, 19:5-8) will be dried. Also, the Euphrates and River of Egypt will be dried up (Rev. 16:12, Isa. 27:12). This will open up a clear and easy passage for the tribes returning from the south between the 5th and 6th battles of the Indignation. However, many other springs and rivers will appear (Isa. 30:25; 35 :6-7; 41:18) making the desert to blossom “as the rose” (Isa. 35:1) and grass to grow. Some have wondered if the springs could be related to numerous earthquakes during the tribulation period. However, the Land of Edom will always remain desolate and barren… no one will ever live there again (Jer. 49:17).
Inter-continental Highways. A “highway” will be made from Assyria to Israel (Isa. 11:16). In the millennium, this will be a formal highway that will extend into Egypt (Isa. 19:23). Egypt and Assyria will be the leading nations next to Israel (Isa. 19:24-25). Another highway will be made from China, “the land of Sinim” (Isa. 49:11-12). This system of highways will be called “The way of holiness” (Isa. 35:8), and it will be free of dangers and pitfalls, so that it is said, “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”
Burial of Dead Bodies. A great deal of effort will be expended to clear Palestine of dead bodies. It will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years to burn the weapons of war (Ezek. 39:9, 12). A special team will be selected, called “men of continual employment”, to identify and bury dead bodies. They will live in a special city called “Hamonah” (Ezek. 39:16). A massive burial ground will be built, a solemn reminder for 1000 years of the wages of rebellion. It will be called “Valley of Hamon-Gog” (Ezek. 39:11).
Depopulation. While Palestine will be cleared of dead bodies, in other parts of the earth the bodies will be left to rot.
“And the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground.” Jer. 25:33
While Palestine will be rebuilt into a glorious and powerful nation, the great cities of Europe (“Babylon”) will remain largely uninhabited (Isa. 13:19-21).
Righteousness and holiness. However, righteousness and peace will be the chief characteristics of the Millennial reign of Christ. The Lord Jesus will reign as a single monarch: “And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth.” (Zech. 14:9). Israel will be the police force of the Earth. The commercial sector (pictured by the nation of Tyre) will be allowed to exist, but only to produce goods needed by people; e.g. enough food to “eat sufficiently”, and “durable clothing”, etc. Businesses will not be allowed to control the market by stockpiling goods and cash (Isa. 23:18). Every aspect of life will be characterized by holiness: “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO JEHOVAH.” (Zech. 14:20).
“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Hab. 2:14
One World Religion. There will be one world religion at last! NOT Christianity, but Judaism under the “new covenant“ with Israel (Jer. 31). Gentiles take hold of the New Covenant, although they aren’t under it (Isa. 56:6). Things will return to the Judaic order. Sacrifices will be offered daily (Ezek. 44-46), which will “look back” to the work of Calvary. The Sabbath will be observed (Isa. 66:23), and musical instruments will be used in worship (Psa. 68:25). Idolatry will be utterly abolished from the earth, and every false religion. (Zech. 13:2-6; 14:9). If any nation refuses to come to Jerusalem “to worship the King” they will have no rain (Zech. 14:17). Universal worship of the Lord Jesus Christ will be established (recall Psa. 145-150):
“In that day shall there be one Jehovah, and his name one.” (Zech. 14:9)
“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psa. 150:6)
Israel in the lead. The power of the Holy Spirit will be poured out on Israel in signs and miracles (Joel 2:28-30). Many nations shall “join themselves” to the Lord (Zech. 2:11). Temple praise will continue day and night from both Jews and Gentiles (Rev. 7:15; Psa. 134:1). Israel will teach and lead the nations in the ways of the LORD. The Gentile nations will travel to Jerusalem for Bible Conferences!
“And many peoples shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and Jehovah’s word from Jerusalem.” (Isa. 2:3)
However, while Israel will know the Lord as “Jehovah”, the Gentiles will only know Him as “Adoni” (a slightly more distant relationship), and the Church will always know God as “Father.”
The Curse Removed
The Creation Set Free. Romans 8 teaches us that the creation is waiting until the Christians are glorified, then the creation will be released from “the bondage of corruption”. Those things that came into the creation in Genesis 3 as a result of Adam’s sin will be taken away; i.e. thorns and thistles, etc. Today the creation is “groaning” under the effects of sin, but when Christ appears that will all change!
“For the anxious looking out of the creature expects the revelation of the sons of God: for the creature has been made subject to vanity, not of its will, but by reason of him who has subjected the same, in hope that the creature itself also shall be set free from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now.” Rom 8:19-22
Effect on Animals. The savage and killer instincts in the animals of the lower creation will be changed:
The diet of carnivorous animals will be changed. “The lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isa. 65:25). Even the diet of humans will be changed! Animals will no longer be hunted by humans (Hos. 2:18); however, men will still catch and eat fish for food (Ezek. 47:10).
Effect on People. Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for 1000 years. He will no longer tempt people to sin (Rev. 20:1-3) although people will still have the flesh. Physical handicaps will all be healed (Isa. 35:5-6), and there will be no more sickness or disease. (Isa. 33:24; Psa. 103:3). Longevity will be restored in the millennium age. If people do not sin openly, they will not die (Isa. 65:20). A sinner who dies at 100 years old will still look physically like ”a youth” (Isa. 65:20). There will be no more tears for the faithful on earth. (Rev. 7:17; Isa. 25:8). People will be happy, even unbelievers, without worldly entertainments! None of Israel’s descendants will apostatize (Isa. 59:21).
Effect on Agriculture. The earth will become extremely fertile: “Our granaries full, affording all manner of store; our sheep bringing forth thousands, ten thousands in our pastures” (Psa. 144:13). Israel will be so fertile that it will be like the garden of Eden (Ezek. 36:35). The “double river” will be the source of this life. Thorns will not grow (Isa. 55:13), and even the desert will blossom like a rose (Isa. 35:1). The mountain tops (barren today) will produce handfuls of wheat (Psa. 72: 16). The fields will produce so plentifully that “the plowman will overtake the reaper, etc.” (Amos 9:13). The sun will shine seven times clearer (Isa. 30:26), yet the four seasons will remain in the earth (Zech. 14:8; Gen. 8:22).
The End of the World
Spiritual Decline in the Millennium. The children born to Israel will never apostatize, but some of the children born to Gentiles will. There is a scripture that hints at a spiritual decline during the Millennium. Num. 29:12-34 speaks about the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a type of the Millennium. On each of the seven days, the people were to present sacrifices to the Lord. A progression is seen in the burnt offerings: 13…12…11…10…9…8…7. This indicates that while inhabitants of the millennial earth will feign obedience to Jehovah, there will be a general decline over time. This gradual slide will result in the Final Rebellion when Satan is loosed from the abyss! Note: this really should be no surprise to us, because in every dispensation the same progression is seen (see Dispensational Progression).
The Final Rebellion. Even after 1000 years of righteousness, there are still those who do not own the Lordship of Christ in their hearts. They have “bowed the knee” outwardly, yet still only yield feigned obedience to the Lord. It was only a forced submission under the iron rod (Psa. 2:9).
“The haters of Jehovah would have come cringing unto him; but their time would have been for ever. And he would have fed them with the finest of wheat; yea, with honey out of the rock would I have satisfied thee.” Psa. 81:15-16
The moment Satan is loosed from the abyss, he will go directly to deceive “the haters of Jehovah” into rebelling against the King. This deception will take out all those who do not believe. They come from everywhere, but particularly the outlying places, “the four corners of the earth”.
“And when the thousand years have been completed, Satan shall be loosed from his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war, whose number is as the sand of the sea.” Rev 20:7-8
Note that it does not say “Gog, the land of Magog” as in Ezekiel. Here “Gog and Magog” is a term used to describe them. They have the same godless character as Russia and the Germanic peoples that come down at 1335 days. Russia comes down at the beginning of the 1000 years, this rebellion is at the end of the 1000 years. Also, this rebellion will have the same countless hordes of infantry as Russia. Possibly, the bulk of the rebellion will originate from Russia, but this is uncertain.
“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of the heaven and devoured them.” (Rev. 20:9)
The “beloved city” is Jerusalem, The “camp of the saints” is all believing Jews and Gentiles (see W. Kelly). Apparently, all believers will flock to Jerusalem and “camp” around it, and the enemy hosts will come up and surround them. Quite different from the case of Christendom where the tare-wheat mixture continues to the judgment. In the final rebellion the “wheat” and the “tares” will separate themselves, forming two distinct arrays. The judgment however is the same: “fire” – the unmingled wrath of God. No saint will ever need a weapon, even to the very end.
Satan’s end. Having used Satan for one final task, God will then dispose of Satan forever. Previously, Satan had been confined to the abyss, but now he will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is permanent.
“And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are both the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of ages.” Rev 20:10
At this time other creatures who have been confined to the bottomless pit will also be cast into the lake of fire; the angels that fell (Jude 6), and Satan’s demons (Isa. 24:22).
Is the rebellion a test? Yes and no. The probationary period in which man was tested under various conditions was completed at the cross. The ultimate test was not the garden of Eden, nor the Millennial reign, but the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. In that sense the Millennium is not a test, but a display of God’s man (Psa. 2 + Psa. 8). But in another sense, God always tests profession. Many will only render feigned obedience (Psa. 2:9), and that profession will be tested.
Moral significance. The great moral significance of this final rebellion is that even the Millennium cannot improve the flesh. Man has three enemies: (1) the world, (2) the flesh, and (3) the Devil. In the Millennium, two of those three enemies will be out of commission. The world-system will have been destroyed and replaced with the world-kingdom of Christ (Rev. 11:15), and the Devil will be bound in the abyss for 1000 years. Yet still man is not satisfied. It shows that the worst enemy man has is really himself.
The Great White Throne. Just before the elements melt, the second resurrection will occur, called the “resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29) and the “resurrection of the unjust” (Acts 24:15). All who have died in their sins without faith throughout the entire history of man (from Cain to the end of the Millennium) will be raised. Then they will all be brought before the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11). The Lord Jesus Himself will be seated on the throne. This is the last event in time, and the first event in eternity. The “books” will be opened. These books contain the evil works of men. The page is blank for the believer, but full for the unbeliever. The dead are judged out of these books. These books are used to determine the level of punishment in the lake of fire (Luke 12:48). Then the “book of life” is opened, containing the names of the elect – a final check. At this point, all the dead are raised, judged, and disposed of. In this manner, “death and hades” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14). Death, which is the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26), will be annulled.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:22-23
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15
The melting of the elements. This is literally, the “end of the world”. The (physical) heaven and earth, our universe, will dissolve into the basic elements (Job. 14:12; Psa. 102:26; Heb. 1:12; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 20:11). They “fled away” and “no place was found for them”. This is because the heavens and earth will be re-made afterwards (Rev. 21:1, 2 Pet. 3:13). “Making” supposes pre-existing material, see notes on Gen. 1. The Spirit of God is careful not to say that the elements will be annihilated, but rather reduced down to the building blocks of matter. God will use these same building blocks again to make something new.
“They all [heavens and earth] shall grow old as a garment, and as a covering shalt thou roll them up, and they shall be changed.” Heb. 1:11-12
“The heavens will pass away with a rushing noise, and the elements, burning with heat, shall be dissolved, and the earth and the works in it shall be burnt up.” 2 Peter 3:10
“The earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them.” Rev. 20:11
The Eternal State
New Heavens and Earth. Revelation 21:1 describes the new universe that God will create. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea exists no more.” The “heaven” here refers to the physical heaven, the 1st and 2nd heavens (atmosphere, space, etc.), not the 3rd heaven where God dwells… that never needs to change. There will be no more “seas”, or separation between people of the earth, and no more masses in turmoil. John saw “the physical platforms on which the glories of eternity are to be displayed.” – W. Scott.
Heaven and Earth. There will be a very close connection between the heavenly saints and the earthly saints in the Eternal State; “the tabernacle of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3). As a result of sin, today there is a great distance between heaven and earth. A nice illustration is the cup (Heaven) and saucer (earth). Today the cup is held away at a distance from the saucer, and we don’t have a very close communication between heaven and earth. In the millennium the cup will be held over the saucer; communication will be restored like before the fall (read Hos. 2:21-22). But in the eternal state, the cup is on the saucer… no distance!
The Eternal State. There are only three passages that describe the eternal state: Rev. 21:1-8, 2 Pet. 3:10-13, and 1 Cor. 15:24-28, although there are other minor references to it, such as “the eighth day” (Lev. 23:36, 39), possibly “the everlasting kingdom” (2 Pet. 1:11) would include it, and the “reconciliation of all things” (Col. 1:20). The eternal state is the end of all God’s purposes for the glory of Christ and the blessing of man. This is when God will have reconciled “all things” unto himself (Col. 1:20), and God will be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). An important question may be raised: what happens to the Millennial kingdom? This is answered in 1 Cor. 15:24-28. Christ received the Millennial kingdom as a man, and He accomplishes God’s purposes as a man: putting down all enemies (final rebellion, death, the great white throne, etc.) and then He will give it up to the Father as a man. He must do this for God’s pleasure. God made man with this moment in mind… a perfect man in headship over the creation. But when that has been fulfilled, he delivers it up, that God might be all in all, and to devote Himself fully to His Bride. When the Eternal State begins, time as we know it will end; “then cometh the end” (1 Cor. 15:24). The sorrows of the old earth will be passed away: death, sorrow, pain, tears (Rev. 21:4). All things will be made “new” and according to the mind of God. Every stain of sin will be removed (John 1:29). In the Millennium, the earth was reigned “over” by Christ and the Church; in the eternal state, God will “dwell with men” – no separation. There is no need for reigning in the eternal state, because there will be no more sin.
Earthly inhabitants. There will be no “nations” or different languages in the eternal state, just “men”. Although we have no scripture for it, the saints of the Millennial earth will be transplanted into the New Heavens and earth. William Kelly said; “We may be sure that these millennial saints will be changed into the likeness of Christ; they will be transplanted into the new heavens and earth.” The distinction between Jew and Gentile will be gone. The number of distinct earthly inhabitants has changed in the following pattern: 1 – 2 – 3 – 2 – 1.
Three conditions for righteousness are helpful to remember. First, righteousness is not upheld at the present time; in fact, believers suffer for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Second, “righteousness reigns” in the Millennium (Isa. 32:1). Third, “righteousness dwells” in the eternal state (2 Pet. 3:13). This is helpful also in understanding the difference between the Millennium and the Eternal State. The Millennium is a kingdom, and there are things to be ruled over, and evil to keep down. But in the eternal state, there is no more sin and rebellion, and also it is a permanent condition; hence, righteousness is said to dwell.
Three Scriptural names for the eternal state:
Truth about the Eternal State is only revealed in the New Testament. The Old Testament does not mention the eternal state. Isa. 65:17 speaks of a new heavens and earth, but that is a reference to the Millennium.
The Church in the Eternal State. While Israel will no longer be a distinct people on the earth, the Church will NEVER lose her distinction. We will be the bride of Christ for all eternity! The term “wife” is dropped after the Millennium, and the term “bride” is used. Our honeymoon will be for eternity! The Church will be the chief example to men and angels of the grace of God: “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). The following verse takes us the furthest into eternity: “to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen” (Eph. 3:21). By being a perfect reflection of Christ’s glory to the new heaven and earth, the Church will be the means of getting glory from the New Creation for God throughout eternity!
Spiritual Places and States
Spiritual Places and States. It is very helpful to understand the various places and states a person can be in, in order to grasp the eternal dwelling-place of the saved and lost.
The Intermediate State (Luke 16:19-31; Luke 23:40-43; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-23). When a person on earth dies, they enter a spiritual state, known in scripture as Hades, sometimes translated “hell”. Hades is not exactly a place, but rather a state. Death is the state of the body without the soul, and Hades is the state of the soul apart from the body. Death is physical, Hades is spiritual. Hades can be thought of a “holding place”, as opposed to a permanent residence. We read that “death and hades” will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). There will be no “intermediate state” in the Eternal State, because there will be no more time! However, within the intermediate state, there are two departments or conditions. In the account in Luke 16:19-31 these two conditions are evident.
- Torment. This is Hades for the lost. If the lake of fire is like prison, Torment is more like a county jail. A prisoner might be locked in a county jail (Hades) for the time awaiting his trial, but after his trial (the Great White Throne) he is cast into prison (the lake of fire). We read about this state in Luke 16:23; the rich man “in hades lifting up his eyes, being in torments”.
- Paradise. This is Hades for the redeemed. This waiting-place is called a number of things: “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22), “Paradise” (Luke 22:14; 2 Cor. 12:4), “with Christ” (Phil. 1:23), and “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). To his chagrin, the rich man found that there was a “great gulf fixed” between Abraham’s bosom, where Lazarus was, and the place of torment where he was. We don’t know much about this state, but certainly the prevailing feature is the presence of the Lord, as we know from the aforementioned passages, and others like the dying words of Stephen; “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). William Kelly defined Paradise as “the brightest part of heaven, with Christ”.
As we have seen, there is an intermediate state for both the believer and the unbeliever; one of extreme bliss, the other of extreme torment. The soul is conscious in either place, and there is no way to pass from one to the other. The believer in that state enjoys the fellowship of Old Testament saints (Heb. 11:40). Other scriptures deal with the body during this time; saints who have died are called “asleep in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4). Nowhere do we read that the soul will sleep (be unconscious) in the intermediate state. From Luke 23:40-43 we learn that the soul enters Paradise immediately after death; “today thou shalt be with me”. In 2 Cor. 5:1-8 we learn that the soul in the intermediate state is apart from the body. But the intermediate state is never held out to the believer as our hope. In fact, in 2 Cor. 5:4 we read that it is not the Christian’s desire “that we would be unclothed” (be separated from our body), but “clothed upon” (with our glorified bodies). However, to be “with Christ” is certainly “far better” than being here on earth with our bodies of humiliation (Phil. 3:21-23), and so we are “willing rather” to be with the Lord than here in the body. Nonetheless, Christians are to look forward, beyond the intermediate state, to the full enjoyment of our eternal portion!
The Father’s House is the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed (John 14:2). Is it where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be for all eternity, in the circle of divine light and love. When Jesus went back to heaven, He prepared the place for us. He said, “in my Father’s house are many mansions (abodes)”. There is room for every heavenly saint! We don’t know much about the Father’s house, but it will be the eternal enjoyment of our eternal life, and the glory of God (Rom. 5:2, Gal. 5:5). The leading feature will be fellowship with the Lord Jesus; “that where I am, there ye may be also”.
The lake of fire is the eternal prison of the damned. When Satan fell, the lake of fire was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). It was never intended for men, although sadly, the very first occupants will be men. Several names for this place are:
It is called “Gehenna” in Greek, called “Tophet” in Hebrew. Some have asked, how can it be “dark” if it is full of “fire” which produces light? We must understand that these are figures of speech. Fire represents God’s judgment, or torment. A lake has an inlet but no outlet, so it represents a place you can never get out of. Death always means separation, in this case eternal separation from God. Blackness represents solitary confinement. How long will it last?“…fire that never shall be quenched: …where their worm [conscience] dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43, 48). What will it be like? “…outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 8:12
Tartarus, or the Abyss. This is a place that is different from Hades, nor is it the lake of fire. “Abyss” signifies deep or bottomless. No human can or will ever go there. It is a temporary holding place for fallen angels. There are at least two groups of fallen angels. There are the angels that fell with Satan in his initial rebellion (Ezek. 28:14-15), and then there are “the angels who sinned” (2 Pet. 2:4) who left “their own original state” (Jude 6), most likely referring to the sons of God (Gen. 6:2). Satan and his demons are free today to roam the earth and the heavenly places (Job 1:6-7), but the group that fell before the flood were cast “down to the deepest pit [Tartarus] of gloom” and are “kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness”. Evidently, Satan and his demons know they will join the others at some “time” in the future… they begged Jesus not to send them there early (Luke 8:31). Satan is somehow king of the Abyss, even though he is not banished there yet (Rev. 9:11). When Christ appears, He will cast Satan into the Abyss for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-3). Satan’s demons too will also be cast into the pit for 1000 years, then “visited again” (Isa 24:21-23) when Satan is loosed. The fallen sons of God will never get out until the “great day” of judgment.
The Eternal State. In this very unique way, death and hades are “emptied” and cast into the lake of fire, the Abyss is evacuated, and the earth is cleansed of all evil-workers and changed. Earthly saints in the Millennium will be “transplanted” into the new heavens and earth. For all eternity there will only remain three “places”: the Father’s House, the New Earth, and the lake of fire.
The chart below can be used to examine the case of the fallen sons of God (“Titans”), Satan and his angels, a Christian, a Christ-rejector, and a Special Class who go directly to the lake of fire (the Beast and Antichrist, those “taken” at the harvest judgment, and the King of the North).
Summary of the Themes of Prophecy
- The Lord Jesus Christ – now despised and rejected – will be exalted over all things in heaven and earth.
- Israel will be nationally restored in the Millennial Kingdom, and will be faithful to Jehovah.
- Every promise that God has made will be fulfilled.
- No flesh will glory in His presence… all will acknowledge the sovereign grace of God.
- All evil will be put down, righteousness will reign, and eventually righteousness will dwell.
- Christ will bring about the universal blessing of mankind.
- The Church will reign with Christ, and always remain a distinct heavenly people.
- There is no prophecy preventing the rapture from taking place right now.
- The Church’s hope is to be with Christ.
- The knowledge of these truths will have a practical effect on our lives (2 Pet. 1:19)