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An Important 1,000 years!


What’s the “millennium”? What will happen then, and why is it important?

Steve Answers:

The word “millennium” never appears in the Bible. It comes from the Latin words mille, meaning 1,000, and annus, which means years. (The Bible wasn’t written in Latin, but it was later translated into Latin.)

The only presentation of the millennium, or 1,000 years, in the Bible is in Revelation 20. There is obviously a lead-up to it that you can read about in Revelation 19. And there’s a follow-up to it that’s spelled out in Revelation 21. Revelation 20 is quite a chapter! It tells of Satan’s end, which is huge! And since Revelation 20 is in the symbolic book of Revelation, you can expect that different people are likely to have different interpretations.

The most FAQs about the millennium are: What will happen at the start of the 1,000 years? What will happen at the end of the 1,000 years? And what will happen in between those two points in time?

I’ll tease you with one questionable idea about the millennium. If the book of Revelation is symbolic, then what does the number 1,000 symbolize? A literal interpretation would be 1,000 actual years. A symbolic interpretation would take the number 10, which symbolizes completeness, and make it threefold (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). That could symbolize a trinity of completeness. In other words, this is the ultimate wrap-up, the completion of the plan of salvation.

When the millennium starts according to Revelation 19:11-21, the great controversy between Christ and Satan and their followers is coming to a climactic end! Even though it looks as though Satan will win (Revelation 12:17; 13:1-18), eventually he is defeated, and his followers die (Revelation 19:17-21). Then Satan is left on a desolate earth with nobody to tempt or to deceive (Revelation 20:1-3).

There is a resurrection of those who live and reign with Christ. It’s called “the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5, 6). According to 1 Thes-salonians 4:15-18, when Jesus comes, He will raise all the “dead in Christ.” Then Jesus will take to heaven those who were “dead in Christ” and His followers who are alive at that time.

So here’s what happens at the start of the millennium:
1. When Jesus comes, He resurrects the “dead in Christ” (this is “the first resurrection”) and takes them to heaven (1 Thes-salonians 4:16; Revelation 20:5, 6).
2. When Jesus comes, He also takes to heaven His followers who are alive at that time (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
3. When Jesus comes, those who are not followers of Jesus die (Revelation 19:21).
4. Satan is left on a desolate earth for the millennium (Revelation 20:1, 2).

What happens during the millennium Revelation 20:1-7 describes Satan as bound to earth, not because there’s a large ball and chain around his ankle, but because there are no people for him to tempt or to deceive. The planet has been pretty much wiped out since the seven plagues have already fallen Revelation 15, 16).

While Satan’s bound to earth, the followers of Jesus—those He resurrected and those who were alive when Jesus came—are now in heaven. Revelation 20:4-6 says that they are seated on thrones, and they are judging. During this time God’s people will be able to ask God all their questions and get answers from Him, including why certain people are in heaven, and why others aren’t. Lots of things we don’t know about or understand right now will finally become clear to us then! This is a key reason why the millennium is so important—God wants to make everything clear to us, since we’re going to spend eternity with Him!

Not only are God’s people in heaven, but they are priests, and they reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6). I don’t know if you’re into power, majesty, and intimacy with God, but you get all of that by being a follower of Jesus. You might miss out on some of it now, but you won’t during the millennium!

So here’s what will go on during the millennium:
1. Satan is stuck on earth with nobody to tempt or to deceive—talk about the most boring time of his existence (Revelation 20:1-3)!
2. God’s people get to ask God all of their questions, and He will answer them, including questions about how He’s dealt with everyone on earth (Revelation 20:4-6).
3. God’s people reign with Christ (Revelation 20:6).

When the millennium ends Revelation 20:7-15 describes what happens at the end of the millennium. Satan is set free from his prison, and he immediately goes out to deceive the nations from every corner of the earth. Evidently the people who aren’t in heaven with Jesus are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 years. Revelation 20:6 alludes to this resurrection by pointing out what a blessing it is to be part of the first resurrection that took place at the start of the millennium, because “the second death has no power over them.”

You’d think that all of these people who are part of the second resurrection would get a clue that they don’t have a chance. But the Bible says that Satan deceives them, and that’s not the first time he’s done it! So they decide to try to overtake God and His people in God’s city. But fire comes down from heaven and consumes them (Revelation 20:9, 10, 14, 15).

Just a quick word about the term “for ever and ever.” It’s a term that can mean for your whole life. When applied to God, it means forever, because He lives forever. When applied to humans, it’s limited to however long their life is. So when the devil, the beast, and the false prophet (symbols of the powers associated with Satan) are thrown into the lake of fire where they burn “for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10), it doesn’t mean that for eternity there will be a fire of hell burning in a corner of the universe. At the end of the 1,000 years Satan and everything having to do with sin and death will be completely burned up (Malachi 4:1). That’s the final end (Revelation 21:4). Some people think that God is mean to resurrect those who aren’t on His side just to destroy them in the lake of fire at the end (Revelation 20:7-15). But such a perspective fails to see that the core of God isn’t pain or revenge, but fairness. In the book The Great Controversy on pages 666-673 is a fascinating description of what happens at the end of the millennium. A panoramic view of the his-tory of this world reveals to all, including Satan, that God has been fair and full of mercy. Even Satan bends the knee to God (Philippians 2:10, 11).

God doesn’t resurrect the wicked because He wants to kill them again. He resurrects them because He wants everyone to get the whole picture of the great controversy and His plan of redemption. This is His universe, and He wants to clear the record for everyone, including those who despise Him. Then things get really happy. What happens after the millennium is spelled out in Revelation 21. This chapter is worth reading and imagining—it causes people to get giddy about heaven!

So just to recap, here’s what happens at the end of the millennium:
1. Those who didn’t follow Jesus are resurrected (20:7, 8).
2. Satan deceives these people (Revelation 20:8).
3. Satan and his followers try to destroy God and His people ((Revelation 20:9).
4. Fire destroys Satan, his followers, and sin and death forever (Revelation 20:9-15).
5. The New Jerusalem comes to earth, where God dwells with His people (Revelation 21).

You asked why the millennium is important. It’s part of the culmination of the end of death and sin and Satan, which completes God’s plan of redemption. But the millennium itself points out that God wants to take time to answer everyone’s questions about everything.

Right now there are times when things don’t seem fair, and there are lots of pieces of information that we just don’t know yet. Why does a baby die? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the wicked prosper? Why do natural disasters ruin God’s creation? Why doesn’t God intervene at times when it seems like He should? The millennium is the time when God will answer all of those questions, which is a very important time to God.

I’m looking forward to the millennium. How about you?

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