The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus


To be fully effective as believers in this world, our hope and destiny must be eschatological - anchored in the life to come.  This hope is centred in the reality of Jesus' Millennial reign on earth, and the new heavens and the new earth described for us in Revelation.  This article outlines our future hope - events which will take place most likely within our lifetime.

The word ‘millennium’ comes from the Latin and means ‘a thousand years.'  After the cataclysmic events of the Tribulation years, the Bible indicates that Jesus will return as King of Kings with his angels.  The Jews will recognise him as their Messiah and will invite him to rule and reign from Jerusalem.  This will instigate a thousand year period of worldwide unprecedented blessing:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6).  

Satan will be bound

Satan will be bound during this period so he will have no influence whatsoever.  Jesus will have his way in every sphere of life including political, social, agricultural, economic, spiritual, educational, law enforcement, family, media, the arts, technology, environment, social institutions, etc.  Shalom (which includes peace, righteousness, well-being, prosperity and salvation) will cover the physical earth and conditions will be restored to the way they were before the Fall.

Isaiah and Micah both spoke of this time:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple (i.e.Jerusalem) will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.  Many peoples  will come and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more (Isaiah 2:2-4).

Jesus, King of the earth

When Jesus takes up his kingship, all nations will bow to his leadership.  He will, in effect, be the commander in chief of the earth.  The Bible refers to the period when he will be seated on the throne in Matthew 25:31-32, Zechariah 14:9 and Revelation 19:15-16.  Daniel also saw the coronation of Jesus in the court of Almighty God:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man (i.e. Jesus), coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of Days (i.e. God) and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-15).

Training for reigning

Jesus’ rule in the Millennial Kingdom will be shared with the ‘saints’ as the Bible calls them.  They are those people through the ages who have lived their lives in relationship with God through Jesus Christ and submitted to his Lordship.  For them, this life is a training ground for what is to come – an internship, if you like.  Daniel saw these saints ruling and reigning with Jesus:

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High (Daniel 7:27).     

While not every saint could literally reign as a king, everyone will have an assignment with authority and a sphere of responsibility.  Many will be in essential support roles and there will be no rivalry.  The saints will be involved in judging the nations (Matt 25:31) and the angels (1 Cor 6:3).  The eschatological hope of ruling and reigning with Christ in his Kingdom on earth should be our greatest motivation as believers, especially as the days get darker before Jesus' return!  Paul wrote to Timothy:

If we endure, we shall also reign with him (2 Tim 2:12).  

King of Kings

When Jesus is ruling and reigning, it will be the first time all the kings of the earth will be saved.  They will all bow down to him and serve him (Psalm 72:11) and they will all govern with wisdom and in accordance with God’s will.

The people who will see Jesus’ return

It seems that there are three different groups of people who will witness Jesus’ second coming – the event which will decisively end the Tribulation and inaugurate the Millennium.  Those who love the Lord will be caught up to meet Jesus when he appears and every eye sees him (this event is commonly referred to as the rapture).  They will then accompany Jesus to his coronation in Jerusalem.  Then there are those who succumbed to the deception of the Antichrist and took the mark of the Beast.  Since these can’t be saved, they will be judged.  Thirdly, there will be survivors of the Tribulation who refused to worship the Antichrist.  This group of resistors will comprise Jews and Gentiles, and many of them will be saved during the Millennial period.  For example, Isaiah saw that:

Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem (Isaiah 4:3).

Restoration during Jesus’ reign

The scriptures indicate that Jesus will bring about the healing of the nations as the Millennial reign proceeds.   His return marks the moment when the restoration begins.  The Tribulation years will have left cities and areas devastated and desolate.  They will need to be rebuilt and with Jesus in charge of every arena of life, restoration will be total.  It will, however take time!  Whilst there is definitely going to be a supernatural element to Jesus’ leadership, natural processes will continue.  Indeed, it may take some considerable time to impose Jesus’ perfect government on every sphere of life.

The growth of the Kingdom

The Kingdom will continue to expand during the Millennium years, as Isaiah indicates:

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7).

Jesus asked his disciples to pray that his kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven and it is in this season that the prayer will be fully answered.  It seems that the nations will progressively come under the Lordship of Jesus as his government spreads until it is literally worldwide.

Characteristics of the Millennial reign

There are references throughout the Bible to the characteristics of the Kingdom of God on the earth.  These include worldwide justice, peace (shalom), fullness of joy, removal of the curse and its effects, the binding of Satan so he is unable to wreak havoc, healing, long life, population growth, work, rebuilding of cities, economic prosperity, sin punished and Israel exalted above all the nations, amongst other benefits.

Heaven and earth meet

When Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom all over the earth, the heavenly realm and the earthly realm will be joined together, completely eclipsing each other.  The heavenly realm is what we often refer to as the unseen realm, where God’s power and presence are openly manifest.  It’s the realm of the angels which God allows us to glimpse at times.  The earthly realm is the physical, material realm. 

The New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem is the pivotal point of the Millennial Kingdom.  We’re told in Revelation that the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven from God, and the dwelling of God will then be with men and he will live with them (Revelation 21:2,3 (part)).  The New Jerusalem is the heavenly realm, which will connect with the earthly Millennial Jerusalem, bringing the fullness of heaven and earth together.  In other words, there will be an open heaven over the earthly Jerusalem, and God’s throne will touch both dimensions.   Jeremiah tells us that at that time (Millennial Jerusalem) Jerusalem will be called the Throne of the Lord, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem (Jer 3:17).

Resurrected bodies

To fully engage with the earth when the Kingdom comes in its fullness, the saints need a resurrected body.  Then we can fully relate to the renewed physical environment which will then be on the earth.  Up until now, Jesus is the only person who has spent time on this earth in a resurrected body (after the resurrection and before he returned to the Father).  But in the Kingdom, all believers will have resurrected bodies so they can live in fullness on the renewed earth which is the inheritance of the saints.  These bodies will not corrupt or die.  Yet resurrected bodies, as Jesus’ was, are a physical reality and full of God’s Spirit, made for a material, substantial existence.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being;' the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Cor 15:42-54).

Heaven on earth

There is nothing ethereal about the Millennial Kingdom.  Jesus will rule and we’ll all be busy.  There will be plenty of work for everyone to do and we’ll go on learning forever.  Think of Eden before the Fall: work was a blessing, toil wasn't arduous, and there was harmony between man and God and the created order.  Discovery of the earth God mandated man to steward filled him with anticipation and excitement.  Life on the Millennial earth will have natural processes as Eden did, but clearly Jesus’ rule will have a supernatural dimension to it as well.

Authority in the Millennial Kingdom

In contrast to the kind of self-seeking authority common in the kingdoms of this world, authority in the Millennium will be based on being with Jesus and doing what he does.  Jesus’ attitude will set the example.  He remarked that he only did and said what the Father told him to.  Paul remarked to the Philippians that their attitude should be like that of Jesus who didn't see equality with God something to be grasped but humbled himself and became obedient to his Father.

What about rewards?

Jesus spoke a lot about rewards and it’s legitimate to be motivated by them.  The Father gave Jesus the nations as his reward, because he entrusted to Jesus what was precious to him.  God spoke to many individuals concerning their role in the Kingdom, in the Old and the New Testaments.  The apostles were promised thrones (meaning positions of authority) and these were awarded because of their obedience, sacrifice and servanthood on earth.  Whilst we cannot earn our salvation – it comes purely by grace – we will nevertheless be rewarded for our stewardship here in this life.  The way we bring the Kingdom to bear on our lives and situations here will influence the position and authority we are entrusted with by God in his Kingdom.

Kingdom now, kingdom future

The Millennial Kingdom when Jesus physically rules from the New Jerusalem is a future but ever more imminent event.  Many signs indicate it will be soon.  However, experiencing the Kingdom of God is not only reserved for that God-appointed time; we can experience his Kingdom here, though not in its fullness.  Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons and comforted the distressed, announcing that the Kingdom of God was here and had come upon them.  Equally, when God’s Holy Spirit touches individuals or communities, we see signs of the Kingdom breaking out.  As we increase the sphere of God’s Kingdom in and through our lives and testimony, the Kingdom is advancing.  In this way, and by preparing in every way for the tumultuous events preceding it, we are hastening the day when Jesus returns and everyone recognises him for who he is – King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

After the cataclysmic events of the Tribulation years, the Bible indicates that Jesus will return as King of Kings.  The Jews will recognise him as their Messiah and will invite him to rule and reign from Jerusalem.  This will instigate a thousand year period of worldwide unprecedented blessing

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