Following the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, He will set up His earthly Kingdom. All who enter will be followers of Christ, the curse will be at least partially lifted, life will be restored to Eden-like conditions, God will dwell in the midst of the people. Satan and his fallen horde will be bound and justice and grace will prevail. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
How Long is the Millennial Kingdom?
There is a specific 1000-year timeframe mentioned repeatedly in Revelation 20. This is known as the Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom Age, or the Messianic Age, and is where Jesus will reign on earth as anticipated by the Israelites/Jews for millennia. However, the reign of Jesus Christ will continue on into eternity.
When Does the Millennial Kingdom Begin?
The Millennial Reign of Christ begins at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, at the conclusion of the Day of the Lord and the 70th Week of Daniel (what are commonly referred to as the “Tribulation”). The process of God’s and the Lamb’s wrath (the Day of the Lord) prepares both the earth and its’ people for this kingdom. The Second Coming of Jesus will likely fulfill the feast of Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”). The Millennial Kingdom fulfills the Feast of Tabernacles, the last of God’s appointed times.
Who Enters the Millennial Kingdom?
Following the Second Coming and the Battle of Armageddon, the population of surviving humanity will be quite small. The “elect”, the portion of bloodline-Israelites who survive, will be gathered by the angels and collected in Israel:
“And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26)
“When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.” (Ezekiel 39:27-29)
“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” (Jeremiah 30:3)
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. (Isaiah 11:11)
Gentiles (non-Israelites) who remain are also gathered, and will be sorted into groups. This is known as the “Sheep and Goats” judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). The “Sheep” are believing Gentiles, and they are ushered into the Millennial Kingdom in their physical bodies. The “Goats” are the unbelieving Gentiles, and they are sent to eternal punishment. I’m not sure if they are physically killed and their souls go to hell at this point to await the Great White Throne Judgment, or if this IS their judgment and they bypass hell and are sent straight into the Lake of Fire.
And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:33-34,41,46)
Thus, the Remnant of Israel plus the believing Gentiles (“sheep”) enter the Millennial Kingdom in physical bodies. They will repopulate the earth and enjoy a curse-free Eden-like existence with long lives. Every human that enters the Millennial Kingdom will be a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
Who Rules the Millennial Kingdom?
Jesus is clearly in charge during the 1000 year reign, but whether He Himself will sit on the throne or a resurrected King David will, I’m not entirely sure. We see a picture of God handing Jesus the Kingdom here:
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. “ (Daniel 7:13-14)
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD : He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:7-12)
The resurrected and raptured body of Christ, the “church”, will reign with Christ as promised in Revelation 2:
I will give authority over the nations to the person who overcomes and continues to do what I’ve commanded to the end, and ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; shattering them like clay pots.’ (v26-27)
The tribulation martyrs will also be resurrected and reign with Christ:
I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The previously raptured body of Christ (the “church”), and the tribulation martyrs, will be in resurrection bodies. They will not reproduce (Matthew 22:30).
Where Will the Bride of Christ Live?
I will call all who will be raptured/resurrected at the rapture (harpazo) the “bride of Christ”. The bride, it appears, will live in the Heavenly Jerusalem:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came to me and said, “Come! I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb.” He carried me away in the Spirit to a large, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. The glory of God was its radiance, and its light was like a valuable gem, like jasper, as clear as crystal. It had a large, high wall with twelve gates. Twelve angels were at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written on the gates. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the lamb were written on them. The angel who was talking to me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. The city was cubic in shape: its length was the same as its width. He measured the city with his rod, and it measured at 12,000 stadia: Its length, width, and height were the same. He also measured its wall. According to the human measurement that the angel was using, it was 144 cubits. Its wall was made of jasper. The city was made of pure gold, as clear as glass. The foundations of the city wall were decorated with all kinds of gems: The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, and each gate was made of a single pearl. The street of the city was made of pure gold, as clear as glass. (Revelation 21:9-21)
I would presume we can come and go at will, from the earth to heaven and back. It appears that the Heavenly Jerusalem descends out of heaven to satellite around the earth when the earth and heavens are remade after the Great White Throne Judgment (after the Millennial Kingdom). This comes from a literal straightforward reading of Revelation 20-22. However, there is a possibility it may come down and orbit around the earth for the Millennial Kingdom. There seems to be quite a lot of continuation between the conditions of the Millennial Kingdom and Eternity.
What Will It Be Like on Earth at the Beginning?
At the beginning, life will be as close to Utopia as we can imagine. The earth will be refashioned during the shaking of the heavens and the earth at Jesus’ Second Coming, and Jerusalem will be raised up (physically and spiritually) as the world capital. It will be renamed “The Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35). There will be peace on earth:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and 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 2:2-4)
The earth will produce food abundantly and there will be leftovers from year to year (Amos 9:13). People will build houses, plant vineyards and tend the earth. People in their physical bodies will bear children. Elements of the curse will be reversed and long life will be enjoyed once again. Humans and animals will be vegetarian:
“I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:19-25)
There will be fresh waters issuing from the Temple, that brings life. Fish will be included in the human diet. Trees will not lose their leaves and will bear fresh fruit every month. The leaves of the trees will bring healing:
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:6-12)
We know Ezekiel 47 is talking about the Millennial Kingdom and not Eternity because in Eternity, the new earth will have no sea (Rev 21:1). Ezekiel 47 is parallel to Revelation 22, which seems to blend the Millennial Kingdom into the Eternal Kingdom:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (V1-5)
The land of Israel will be divided and distributed among the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 47-48).
It appears that during the Millennial Kingdom, those who rebelled against God (at the Battle of Armageddon? during the MK?) will be viewable via a portal of sorts outside the city of Jerusalem to serve as a visible reminder to worship God:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:22-24)
What Will Salvation Be Like?
Throughout history, God has dealt with humanity in different ways. This is known as the dispensation view. Different theologians define the periods somewhat differently, but in general humanity has progressed through an age of innocence (pre-fall), conscience (fall to Flood), human government (Flood to Babel), promise (Abraham to Moses), Law (Moses to Christ), and Grace (Christ to Rapture). God progressively reveals more of Himself through each age. Historically, mankind has failed to fulfill his end of the bargain and God has had to respond in judgment. In the seventh dispensation, Kingdom, mankind will live in God’s full revelation.
The Kingdom Age will be marked by salvation by grace through faith, but will also involve a return to observance of the Law. Jesus and the resurrected saints will rule “with an iron rod”; the world will return to a Theocracy (God is the government and sets the laws). It will be perfectly just.
What Will Worship Be Like?
Ezekiel chapters 40-48 describe the Temple in the Millennium. It will be located in Israel, but will be much larger than the previous temples. As with the previous Tabernacle and Temple, God is very detailed and specific about how the Temple is to be built, decorated, and administered. This time, there will be no incense altar (as the Yom Kippur Feast has been fulfilled), no menorah (as the Holy Spirit now dwells with humanity and will not leave), no ark of the covenant (as the covenant has been fulfilled in completion), and no wash basin. There will be a wooden screen between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies instead of a veil, and the interior will be covered in wood rather than gold.
After a 7 day purification ceremony of the altar involving blood sacrifices, the daily sacrifices will begin. God’s glory will enter through the Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3), and will fill the Temple.
Administration will be by a Levitical priesthood selected by God. There will be holy offerings – burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings (Ez 42-46). The offerings BEFORE the cross pointed FORWARD to Christ; the Kingdom offerings AFTER the cross will point BACKWARD to Christ.
The Feasts of God will be remembered through Passover (with no lamb) and Unleavened Bread in the spring, and Tabernacles in the fall. These are the feasts that point to Jesus as the only acceptable sacrifice for sin (Passover), the righteousness that is offered (Unleavened Bread – leaven representing sin), and the current Kingdom age (Tabernacles). The fruits have all been gathered (Firstfruits and Trumpets), the Holy Spirit’s ministry has been fulfilled (Pentecost), and atonement is complete (Yom Kippur).
The weekly Sabbath, which points to the complete redemptive plan, will be instituted globally. The Sabbath ceremony will be conducted in the Temple, along with the daily offerings.
All nations, both Israelite (all 12 tribes) and Gentile, will be required to come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. Those who refuse to participate will be punished by a lack of rainfall (Zechariah 14:16-19).
What Will It Be Like on Earth at the Ending?
Although Jesus’ Kingdom rule will never end, we are told that after the thousand years, Satan will be released from the pit for “a little while”. We can see how this ends here:
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
Even without the influence of Satan or the fallen angels, without the challenges of the curse, with God living among them, humans still retain a sin nature and many will rebel against God’s rule. Shockingly, “their number is like the sand of the sea”. Humans want to be their own rulers – they want to be “as gods”. When Satan is released, he will have no trouble collecting them in a final stance against God. Humanity hasn’t learned its’ lesson that there is no battle when opposing God – fire will come down from heaven and consume them in short order. The final dispensation, as with all the others, will result in human rebellion followed by God’s judgment. At this point the Millennial Kingdom is complete. It will be followed by the Great White Throne Judgment, which is then followed by the Eternal State.
Then the end will come, when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet” (Psalm 8:6)
Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
Further Recommended Reading:
Dispensationalism (God’s Relationship with Humanity through History) – Jack Kelley
Animal Sacrifice in the Millennium – Jack Kelley
Life on Earth in the Millennium – Jack Kelley
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!