53 The Millennium
by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013
This is the first resurrection. Blessed
and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the
second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of
Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20:5, 6
Why 1,000 years? Satan has had 6,000 years to challenge the law of
God. This time has been a frenzy of activity. Now that Jesus has come
the wicked are killed by the brightness of His coming, and the righteous
are transported with Christ to heaven. During the millennium only
Satan will be alive on this earth. God will set aside 1,000 years for
Satan to wander alone over this ravaged earth and contemplate what he
has done. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will demonstrate that his
character has not changed. Satan will marshal evil angels and humans
into an army and attempt to take the holy city!
God is careful
and orderly in everything He does. Since His character is one of love,
freedom, and persuasion, every person and angel in the whole of creation
must be convinced that He is merciful and just. Every human being and
every angel must understand that God’s
judgment is fair and that He has
done everything possible to save even wicked human beings. Before God
brings the New Jerusalem to Earth and imparts His eternal blessings, the
angels, the redeemed saints, and Jesus Himself must judge the actions of
God for 1,000 years, answering every question.Mercy and Justice
Before the redeemed enter the Holy City and inherit the
earth made new, there is one more step to be completed. Christ takes His
people to heaven into the very presence of God Himself and places them
on thrones of judgment, and “they lived and reigned with Christ for one
thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). What judgment do the righteous carry on in
Often, Christians will look on the plan of salvation as
focused primarily on the salvation of the righteous. This is a weighty
consideration, but it is not the only consideration and it is not even
the most serious one. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan,
it is God Himself and His law that Satan has challenged. Is God
arbitrary and vengeful, seeking to destroy all those who do not obey
Him, as Satan has alleged, or is He a God of love, grace, forgiveness
and mercy, seeking to save all that He possibly can? Is the law of God
just and reasonable? Is it a help to humans and angels?
If God is
just, then how can He also be merciful? If He is merciful, then how can
He also be just? In the cross of Calvary, “mercy and truth are met
together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10).
All heaven declares Jesus Christ to “be just, and the justifier of him
which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26). Jesus showed His mercy in taking
the penalty for the broken law upon Himself and opening the door for
humans to be saved and restored to the purity and happiness of Eden. He
showed His justice in giving His life to make this possible.
plan of salvation, as worked out on this earth, is of intense interest
to all intelligent beings, “for we are made a spectacle unto the world,
and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9). The experiences we go through
here are “things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).
During this earthly reign of sin and redeeming grace, one makes
observations and tentative judgments but does not receive answers to all
questions. Jesus saves some known sinners and He condemns some kind and
generous people. Why is that? In the eternity of the earth made new, God
purposes to have every question answered.
How could angels, who
lived in the presence of God, ever sin? How could Lucifer, the highest
angel and the closest to God Himself, rebel and sin against God? These
questions must be answered. God entrusts to the redeemed
of all ages the
judgment of not just of unsaved men, but of the fallen angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
Through this judgment, everyone will become perfectly satisfied that God
is a God of love. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every
knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom.
14:11).A Thousand-Year Cease Fire
“Millennium,” the word
for one thousand years is not found in the Bible, though John does use
the thousand-year period in Revelation 20. Just before this, the earth
has received God’s judgments. These are the last events on this old
earth and include plagues, judgments, and resurrections. Many people
have drawn charts attempting to locate each event precisely. This may be
impossible. All one can do is have a clear expectation of coming events
and then recognize the events as they come. Besides this, one must learn
faith and trust in God now. There will not be a “second chance.”
A time of trouble will come on the earth. Matthew 24 described it in
detail. The Holy Spirit withdraws from the earth, and the wicked are
unrestrained in doing evil.1
This brings on the “time of trouble such as
never was” (Dan. 12:1). At the same time, the Holy Spirit is poured out
on the righteous with power (Joel 2:23, 28-32).
mankind closes (Rev. 22:11). This means that all people have made their
decisions for good or evil. The Holy Spirit seals the righteous, and the
wicked receive the mark of the beast.2
During this time, the
church gives the three angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-12). These messages
urge repentance, warn against living in error, and present the fearful
results of failing to choose for God. The loud cry of the fourth angel
follows these messages, calling God’s people to come out of those
churches where truth has given way to confusion (Rev. 18:1-4).
After the close of probation, angels pour out the seven last plagues on
the earth (Rev. 15:1; 16:1- 21) while angels shield the righteous (Rev.
15:2-4). The battle of Armageddon (the seventh plague) is Satan’s last
attempt to destroy the people of God. However, God stands up for His
people in this battle, destroying Satan’s institution of evil (Rev.
Jesus then, Jesus comes the second time, accompanied by all
the angels of heaven, with a glory never before seen on earth (Heb.
9:28; Matt. 24:27, 30, 31; 25:31). Jesus raises the righteous dead, and
with the righteous living, takes them all to heaven. The wicked that are
still living are slain by the brightness of His coming.3
thousand years begin. An angel binds Satan in the bottomless pit, an apt
metaphor for an earth when it is in utter destruction with no life on it
but Satan’s. He has one thousand years to contemplate the results of his
rebellion (Rev. 20:1-3). At the same time, the righteous are in heaven,
doing a work of judgment. Among the righteous are martyrs from the last
climactic time of trouble (Rev. 20:4-6).
At the end of the one
thousand years, the holy city, New Jerusalem comes down from God out of
heaven (Rev. 21:2). An angel looses Satan, and the wicked are raised to
life (Rev. 20:7, 8). In spite of the destruction all about them on the
earth and the immensity and strength and beauty of the Holy City, the
wicked still listen to Satan. They form an immense army, which surrounds
the Holy City (Rev. 20:8, 9).
Their march comes to a sudden halt
as the majestic white throne appears above the city, and God opens the
books and passes
judgment. Each person will see the part he played in
disobeying and refusing to believe God (Rev. 20:11-13). Every
intelligent being--whether human or angel--will bend the knee and confess
that God is merciful and just in His judgments (Rom. 14:11). It is too
late for the rebellious to be saved.The Final Conflagration
God looks on the heart in judgment. It is not just a matter of being
“a good fellow.” If a person is kind and generous on this earth, he
cannot be saved unless he accepts Christ (Acts 4:12). If a person has
never heard of Christ and has had no opportunity to learn of Him, God is
merciful (Rom. 2:14-16). God determines whether a person still harbors
pride and selfishness in his heart. He reads the struggles of difficult
and abusive persons. He will be merciful in judgment.
saved in the new earth, Jesus Christ is first in thought, word and
action. This must become a habit now. No one will give free reign to
habits of anger, domination, profanity, or immoral jesting. If people
love brutal sports, alcoholic binges, gambling, drugs, or if they desire
to attract attention to themselves, they would be unhappy in the new
God knows these things, and all His decisions are merciful
and just. He gives the answer to every question as to why the wicked are
lost. Every knee bows to recognize Jesus as Lord--even those of the
wicked and Satan himself. After 1,000 years, God brings this stage of
judgment to an end.
The Bible is crisp and concise. Satan, his
angels, and all the wicked are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20;
The Bible is also clear at this point: to be cast into
the lake of fire is to suffer the second death. It is not an eternity of
suffering and anguish. It is a quick and merciful death.5
not chosen that anyone should die. All people choose their own future by
the decisions they make (2 Peter 3:9). The lake
of fire is also a
purifying fire. Fire cleanses the earth of all sin and sinners. The
planet, now cleansed, is ready to be made new to receive the Holy City,
New Jerusalem, where the righteous shall dwell forever. Not only the
righteous, but God Himself shall dwell with them (Rev. 21:3)!
At a certain point,
in human history, the Holy Spirit withdraws from
the earth (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4, 18, 19; 11:23).2.
receive the seal of God, and the rebellious receive the mark of the
beast (Rev. 7:1-8; Isa. 8:16; Ezek. 9; Rev. 13:11-18).3.
resurrects the righteous and takes them to heaven; the wicked die (1
Cor. 15:51-55; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 1:7; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 6:12-17).
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire
and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be
tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10, original italics
retained). The italicized “are” was supplied. The verse does not give a
time sequence of when the “beast” power and his agent “the false
prophet” (which corresponds to the second beast on the land in Rev. 13)
are destroyed. But, even if it did, they are not individuals as the
devil and his angels are. Their destruction in symbol is the end of the
institutions they represent.5.
The lake of fire consumes the
wicked and purifies the earth (Mal. 4:3; Rom. 16:20; Ezek. 28:18, NCV).