Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Purpose of the Millennium

Many people do not understand the Millennium because they do not understand its purpose.  An understanding of the major end-times events is also healthy for the soul, so let's get started...

As represented in the illustration below, we're now living in what is referred to as the "Church Age".  There is an expectation that "The Rapture" could happen at any moment (what Titus 2:11-14 refers to as our "blessed hope").  The Rapture is the term given to the event described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 wherein Christians will be taken from earth.  The "7 Years" depicted in the illustration below is essentially the tribulation period which will be followed by "The Second Coming".  After that there will be a 1000 Year Kingdom on earth (a.k.a. "the Millennium"), and then eternity:


The Great White Throne Judgment will occur at the conclusion of The Millennium, which has some special purposes.  First, one must understand that when the Millennium begins, only Christians will be alive on earth, as unbelievers will be in hell (Revelation 19:17-21).  The inhabitants of earth will be comprised of two groups of Christians: Those that survived the tribulation and became Christians during that time, and those that came back to earth with the Lord at His Second Coming (Revelation 19:14).

During the Millennium earth will experience peace like never before (Isaiah 2:4; Joel 3:10; Micah 4:3). Jesus will be ruling on the throne of David and imposing a benevolent theocracy on all of His creation.  Everyone's needs will be fulfilled and sin will not be tolerated (Psalm 2:7-12; Revelation 2:26-29; 12:5; 19:11-16).

While the believers that return from heaven with Christ will have their "heavenly bodies" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52), the believers who lived through the Tribulation will remain mortal; thus that group of people will procreate and repopulate the earth during that 1,000 years on earth.  Since there will not be any food shortages, pestilence, natural disasters, and death like we know today because of sin, the human population will grow very large during that time.

Thus, a large group of people not in either of the first two categories will result: a group of people born during the Millennium.  That will bring about a very interesting situation: Although Satan and the evils of the world will not be an enemy to mankind, the third and final enemy, man's own  sinful nature, will still exist within those that are born during the Millennium.  At the end of the 1,000 years they will have to make a choice to either serve God or to serve their sinful nature because Satan will be loosed for a "short time" to give them that choice (Revelation 20:3).

That is why we learn that Satan is tied up during that period and then released one final, brief time.  It would seem all along, and up until the very end before Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity, that Satan has been serving God's purpose: to give mankind a choice.  God does not want people to turn to Him because they have to, but because they want to.  Consequently, another option has to be provided to make the choice valid.  It will demonstrate that even without Satan or the evil influences of a fallen world, the inherent evil nature of man will still be at work and will separate people from God unless they repent and turn to Him.

So, just as Satan convinced a third of the angels to follow him from heaven (and now they are what we call "demons" or "fallen angles"), he will masterfully convince some people to rise up and defiantly oppose God (Revelation 20:7-8).  Sadly, some people that were ruled by the "Iron Scepter" throughout the Millennium and resented it due to their sinful natures will be persuaded to rise against God.  The scripture does not give much detail about it, which suggests that almost as soon as it begins, God will put an end to it.  In fact, we read about the uprising in Revelation 20:9 and, within the same verse, it's explained fire comes down from heaven and "devoured them". 

At the conclusion of the Millennium unbelievers will be sent to hell for eternity.  Christians, however, need not have any such worries.  That idea is explained in the article entitled Should Christians Fear Judgment?

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