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The Millennial Reign refers to the thousand-year period of Christ's reign before his Second Coming. This period is specifically mentioned in the book of Revelation 20: 1-6. It was also anticipated by the prophets of the Old Testament and was viewed as the Messianic Kingdom. The word millennium is derived from the Latin word mille, and it means a thousand years. The main idea of Millennialism is that Jesus Christ will return as the great tribulation ends and will establish his earthly rule over the world. Some Christians hold the view that the Millennial Kingdom will be populated by those believers who will survive the tribulation mentioned in the book of Daniel as the 70th Week. Others regard that during the Millennial Reign there will also be those believers who will be raised from the dead and those who will be snatched by Christ from the Earth before the tribulation. The Millennial view anticipates the re-establishment of the Jewish temple for worship and animal sacrifices. Thousand years of Christ's reign will be his literal rule over the Earth followed by the spread of the Gospel. As a result, the overwhelming majority of the Earth population will accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. At present, Christ, due to his victory on the cross, also reigns over the Earth though in the sense already, not yet.
This research will explain the different views about the Millennial Kingdom that are held in the body of Christ. It will defend the view of Pre-millennialism or Millennialism and will describe life on the Earth during the Millennial Reign of Christ.
Different Views of Millennialism
The topic of Millennialism is one of the divisive issues in the Christian community. As the Christian believers decide to discuss Eschatology, they come to realize that the first division takes place due to their different attitudes to Millennialism. One group takes Millennialism literally, another just allegorically. It may be shocking to know that the majority of churches among the different Christian denominations do not believe in the literal millennium. They often argue that the word millennium is mentioned only in Revelation 20. However, they do not consider that the subject of Millennialism is covered in many passages of the Bible. For example, there is quite a descriptive and detailed part in Isaiah 65. What we have to realize is that if we take millennialism literally, we are in the minority in the Christian community.
It does not take into consideration that the 19s and 20s centuries made the bloodiest period in human history. It also denies the Millennial Reign.
There is another group in the Christian community that denies the literal Millennial Reign of Christ on the Earth. The view they hold is called A-millennialism. According to Ericson, who commented on this theological position, The final judgment will immediately follow the Second Coming and issue directly the final states of the righteous and the wicked. Not only do they deny the idea of the future millennial reign of Christ, but they also do not view the Jews as a part of Christ's kingdom.
The view of A-millennialism deserves particular attention as it has a very specific background. In the third century, there was a theologian by the name of Origen. He used to allegorize the Scripture, as it was quite comfortable to explain away some difficult passages. It is necessary to note that the Bible contains many allegories. However, the problem was that Origen carried it to an extreme. Later, Augustine picked up on that. The works of Origen influenced him, and Augustine defined an eschatology that viewed the Millennium as an allegory. To understand why Augustine took that position, it is necessary to understand the political situation at that time. It was the period when Christianity was regarded as a state religion as the second successor after Constantine made it so. Therefore, the Church was supported by the State. It was not easy for pastors to preach from the Bible how Jesus Christ had to return and remove the worldly evil rulers, considering that those rulers paid them their salary. To escape such a difficult situation, they decided to be politically correct. It was very comfortable for Augustine to take an allegorical explanation of eschatology. Since then, such an eschatological view was accepted in the Medieval Church. Thus, many protestant churches that origin from the Reformation, have an A-millennial view. Many things of that theological position were also derived from the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, they regard the Millennial Reign as allegorical and that Christ is coming to rule not literally but in our hearts.
The major problem of the A-millennialism view is that it does not consider Messianic promises in the Old Testament that are about the Second Coming (Isaiah 65, Psalms 110:1, 2 Samuel 23: 5). The destiny of Israel is disregarded in this view. In Romans 9, 10, and 11, there is given a clear description of the destiny of the Israeli nation. Moreover, the A-millennial viewpoint cannot give a good explanation of the promise regarding the throne of David and the future kingdom promised to Jesus by the Archangel Gabriel in his conversation with Mary, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom, there will be no end (Luke 1: 26-33 NKJV).
Arguments for Pre-Millennial View
In the Early Church, many of the church fathers held the viewpoint of Millennialism. Justin Martyr who lived in the second century considered that properly instructed Christians truly believed in a resurrection of the dead which was followed by the reign of Christ during one thousand years. Irenaeus also believed that the saints and martyrs would receive their reward while Christ's millennial reign in Jerusalem. There was no doubt regarding the length of the Millennium literal one thousand years. Robert H. Mounce, in his commentary on the book of Revelation, wrote The length of the martyr's reign is said to be a thousand years. It is this number that gives rise to the term millennium (from Latin miles, thousand, and annum, year). Only in Revelation 20: 1-10 do we find any NT teaching about a millennium.
There are many biblical arguments in favor of the Pre-Millennial view. Many of them are in the form of God's promises, and therefore, they shall be reliable. For example, what is about the Davidic covenant in 2 Samuel 7: 16? It says, Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. God gave a promise to David and his descendants through the prophet Nathan that his throne will not end.
Furthermore, the Lord spoke the word of promise and gave the sign of Immanuel to the house of David through the prophet Isaiah. This was regarding a royal dynasty, Hear now, you house of David! It is not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7: 13, 14).
There was a promise of an eternal throne to the house of David. This was mentioned in already cited passage 2 Samuel 7: 13 and other scriptures 1 Chronicles 17: 12, Isaiah 55: 3, Ezekiel 37: 25.
In Genesis 17: 2-8, God gave a promise yet to Abraham about a political kingdom, The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you and I will be their God (v.8). Later, God confirmed everything by oath in Psalm 132: 11, The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that He will not revoke: One of your own descendants I will place on your throne... This oath is also written in Psalm 89: 3, 4, and 34.
The future throne of David was also recognized by the first Church Council in Acts 15: 16-18, quoting the prophet Amos 9: 11-12. The Council was dealing with two issues whether to set circumcision for the Gentiles and the discussion about re-establishment of the throne of David. The latter issue is frequently missed by the theologians. First, God was going to deal with the Gentiles (Acts 15: 14). Then, He would rebuild the tent of David, After this, I will return and rebuild Davids's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it (Acts 15: 16).
In the book of Revelation 20: 4, it is spoken about four groups of people who shall take part in the first resurrection. The first group is the Old Testament Saints mentioned in Isaiah 25: 8, 9 and Daniel 12: 1-4. Then, there goes the Church (Revelation 2: 26, 3: 12, 5: 10; 2 Timothy 2: 12 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). Martyrs of the tribulation period belong to the third group of saints; they are referred to in Revelation 6: 9. Finally, there will be the tribulation saints who survive during the hardest time of Earthly history; they will not worship the beast and will stay alive at the time of the Second Coming. Then, in the book of Revelation 20: 5, John says about the rest of the dead who would be raised after the millennium.
Here we have to take into consideration that the 1-st and the 2-nd resurrections are not the events. They should be regarded as categories. Jesus Christ was the first fruit of the 1-st resurrection. The first fruit requires a plurality. The Torah implies that the feast of the first fruits was in the plural as it says about the first fruits of the harvest. Of course, Jesus Christ is a fulfillment of that. However, the fulfillment needs more than one. There is a record of it in the New Testament, in the book of Matthew 27: 52, 53. This is a single record though it is quite descriptive, The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Matthew 27: 52, 53). The point is that the 1-st resurrection will include not only those Old Testament saints but also those who will be taken away before the tribulation, as well as those after the time of tribulation. All these saints will make one category and they will take part in the 1-st resurrection. As for the 2-nd resurrection, it will take place after the millennium a thousand years.
Life on the Earth during the Millennial Reign of Christ
In Revelation 20: 6, we can read about believers who will take part in the 1-st resurrection. These believers are not going to experience the 2-nd death they shall be priests of God and Christ; therefore, they shall reign with Jesus Christ a thousand years.
Do many Christian believers ask questions regarding the Millennial Reign, such as what the creation will look like? or what will be the millennial longevity? However, the more we study the subject of Millennium the more questions will come. As for creation, it will really change. The physical changes are recorded in Isaiah 35: 1-10 and Zechariah 4: 9, 10. Apparently, the curse or the consequences of the fall, announced in Genesis 3, will be lifted. Isaiah 11: 6-9 gives records of that, ...the infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child will put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea. The creation will also be redeemed (Romans 8: 20-22); there will take place changes that are difficult to imagine as the prophet Isaiah says about a new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65: 17). These words seem to be from the book of Revelation, but they are in Isaiah 65.
In Romans 8: 21, 22, it says that the creation groans and travails, looking forward to the day it will not be subjected to decay any longer. Thus, we can assume that the law of entropy will change.
It is also obvious, that in the Millennium, the Earth will be in full knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11: 9). Thus, the Earth will become a very different place; still, it will not be an eternity. Death and sin will remain (Isaiah 65: 20); ss we know, in eternity, the death and sin will be removed. Micah 4: 15 informs us that during the Millennial Reign, people will own land; therefore, this indicates ownership and crops. Amos assures that the land will be fruitful (Amos 9: 13). At the same time, it will not be heaven.
There will be righteousness but enforced, it will not dwell. This sign may serve as a difference between the Millennium and eternity.
The conditions of the Millennium will also bring more responsibility for humankind in a spiritual sense. As Satan will be bound and there will be no more shortages, people will be without excuse; there will be no injustice the justice will be perfect. As Chuck Missler noted, It is almost as if it is a setup to prove that man is a fallen creature. According to Isaiah, the evil will be limited, but if it takes place, it will be judged right away (Isaiah 11: 1-16).
As for the longevity, it is not very clear. From Isaiah 65: 17, we can assume that there will not be dead as the former earth will not be remembered. That is only an inference, but at the same time, there is no scripture mentioning the resurrection of Millennial saints.
Life during the Millennial Reign sounds really great. It will be a true reward for the faithful believers in Christ.
There are different views regarding Millennial Reign though they can be argued from the Biblical point of view. The purpose of the Millennium is to set the kingdom of the Lord on the Earth. Jesus will sit on the throne of David as it was promised by God the Father. This period will give the believers an idea of what life would have been in the fall would not take place. It will be a reward for us the Christian believers; it should encourage us to endure in our spiritual walk.