The year 2000 came and went with very little fanfare. Self-proclaimed prophets have watched their timelines fail again and again, but what does your Bible say about the real Millennium? What will it mean for you?
Bible prophecy reveals that God will soon bring peace to the earth for a thousand years. Will you be ready?
Not long ago, many worried that the year 2000 would usher in end-of-the-world disasters. From the "Y2K problem" to scenarios of nuclear devastation, meteor strikes and even Christ's return, some expected that the world would change dramatically at the start of the "New Millennium."
Nothing happened. Rather, the world continued with its ancient cycle of war, hate and violence. Christians, though, are looking forward to the coming of the "real" Millennium—the time when Jesus Christ will return to establish the Kingdom of God, and peace on earth, for a thousand years before His judgment on all mankind. Are you praying for the Kingdom of God to come? (Matthew 6:10).
Today, dozens of wars are going on between or within nations. The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was a wake-up call reminding us that the Western world is very vulnerable. But there is hope for our planet! That hope is in the real Millennium promised in your Bible. When will that Millennium begin?
In the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ reveals the sequence of end-time events leading up to His Second Coming, and His millennial rule on earth. God promises a wonderful future for true Christians who turn to Him before His return. They will rule on earth with Christ for a thousand years! The Kingdom of God will replace all human kingdoms. The saints—true Christians—will be kings and priests ruling, serving and teaching the nations here on this earth. Revelation describes Christ's having redeemed His followers and prepared them for their future role: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9–10).
Some wrongly teach that there will be no literal thousand-year rule of Christ on earth. This teaching is called amillennialism. Others wrongly teach that the Church will grow in power and influence, perhaps over thousands or tens of thousands of years, converting billions of people and bringing morality and peace to our planet before Christ returns to execute His final judgment. This false teaching is called postmillennialism.
The Bible, in fact, teaches premillennialism—that Jesus Christ will return after the Great Tribulation, and before the Millennium, to rule on earth with the saints for a thousand years. According to the book of Revelation, the Millennium will be announced by the "seventh trumpet"—"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15). At the seventh trumpet, Jesus Christ will return, and faithful Christians who are in the grave will be resurrected to immortality and glory. Notice this inspiring statement: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Genuine Christians who are still alive at the Second Coming will be changed from mortal to immortality. "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51–53). Resurrected Christians will then begin their rule with Christ for a thousand years. Remember: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).
The Bible clearly shows when the Millennium will begin—at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! But what other signs should we look for? Are we even in the end-time? To answer this question, all you need to do is look at the world's moral condition. Are all nations achieving real lasting peace? Have we totally eradicated weapons of mass destruction?
The greatest war is yet to come, World War III and "Armageddon" (cf. Revelation 16). Jesus of Nazareth warned about the events leading up to His coming. He stated: "But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows" (Mark 13:7–8).
These general trends will intensify. You can also read Jesus' parallel message in Revelation 6, which describes the famous four horsemen of the Apocalypse. These are also referred to as the four seals, which had covered up the scroll. They represent false religion, great wars and increasing casualties, famine, increasing pestilence, disease and death.
The fifth seal, described in Revelation 6:9–11, represents a future martyrdom of Christians. Jesus warned His disciples: "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matthew 24:9).
Then comes the sixth seal, referred to as the "heavenly signs." John wrote: "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind" (Revelation 6:12–13). The heavenly signs introduce the Day of the Lord, represented by the seventh seal—a time of God's judgment on the world. Mentioned in more than 30 prophecies in your Bible, the Day of the Lord is the year-long period preceding the return of Christ! It "is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion" (Isaiah 34:8). It consists of seven "trumpet plagues," described in Revelation 8–11, concluding with the seventh trumpet, which announces the coming Kingdom of God and the end of man's rule over the earth—the beginning of the real Millennium!
Jesus gave a very specific sign of the imminent coming of the Millennium. "'Therefore when you see the "abomination of desolation," spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place' (whoever reads, let him understand), 'then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains'" (Matthew 24:15).
In the first century, Christians fled Jerusalem to the town of Pella and escaped the devastation brought on Jerusalem by the Roman Army in 70ad. But the context here is "the end of the age" (v. 3). Jesus describes this period as "Great Tribulation" (v. 21)—the time of Satan's wrath and evil persecution. "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time" (Revelation 12:12). As Jesus said, this time of tribulation will be the greatest ever. In all the atrocities and genocide we have known in the past, the history of the world has never seen this degree of evil.
We read: "Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:13–14). The biblical symbol for the Church is a woman (cf. Ephesians 5). God will protect His true saints—genuine Christians—from the great tribulation. This is not a secret rapture. There is no such event in the Bible. Notice that the woman is taken to "her place" in the wilderness. Then the dragon pursues those lukewarm Christians who had not been intently growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (v. 17). Satan will then attack the remnant of the Church, and the national descendents of Jacob. "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7). This unique time in all history, the great tribulation, will see Satan's wrath on the descendents of Jacob, the American and British-descended peoples. We certainly need to take warning!
As the Millennium nears, God will begin to intervene more powerfully in human affairs. Dramatic astronomical and terrestrial activity will draw everyone's attention. Notice: "Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" Revelation 6:14–17). Whose wrath will be poured out on the nations? The Lamb of God—Jesus Christ—will be wrathful! Why? Because most of the world has rebelled against God and gone the way of wickedness. John explained that "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). Or, "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (KJV).
We have seen, from the Bible, that faithful Christians will rule on this earth as kings and priests for a thousand years. That Millennium of world peace is what we all look forward to. God is in charge! He means what He says. The time is coming when all nations will know the true God. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
The world today does not know the true God, but tomorrow's world will know the true God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ! People will be teachable. After the tribulation and the Day of the Lord, the nations will be humbled. They will even want to learn the way of God and the Bible! Notice: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it" (Isaiah 2:2). All nations will come to the newly established world capital, Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. "Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths'" (v. 3). They will desire knowledge of God's ways! Do you have that desire now? Notice what the Messiah, the King, Jesus Christ will teach in the Millennium. "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (v. 3). That word is available to you now, in your Bible. The Bible is God's gift to us—we need to read it daily! As Jesus said: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
The whole world will learn the true way to peace. Jesus Christ will govern all nations and, in reality, cause people to be peaceful. "He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).
That is the Millennium we all desire. World conditions demonstrate the dangerous times in which we now live. History has also demonstrated that mankind does not know the way to peace. God has given human beings nearly 6,000 years of recorded history to experiment with their own man-made institutions apart from Him. The record of human efforts has produced war, suffering and death. We are nearing the end of man's rule on earth. The time is growing short.
True Christianity teaches the way of peace, love, happiness and godly prosperity. Apostolic Christianity—the Christianity of the first century—looked forward to that way of life in the ultimate Millennium. Here is what the famous historian Edward Gibbon wrote about first century Christianity's belief in the Millennium: "The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ. As the works of the creation had been finished in six days, their duration in their present state, according to a tradition which was attributed to the prophet Elijah, was fixed to 6,000 years. By the same analogy it was inferred that this long period of labour and contention, which was now almost elapsed, would be succeeded by a joyful Sabbath of a thousand years; and that Christ, with the triumphant band of the saints and the elect who had escaped death, or who had been miraculously revived, would reign upon earth till the time appointed for the last and general resurrection" (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1, p. 403).
Faithful Christians, the true saints, will be in the first resurrection to rule with Christ and usher in the Millennium. The glorious Kingdom of God on earth will produce beauty and productivity the world has never known. Isaiah gives us this millennial vision: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:6–9). May God speed that day.