The Importance of the Millennium
When I began to research scriptures dealing with end times and beyond, I imagined that my next book would be titled, "The Millennium Protocol." As I've mentioned before, I assumed I would find nuggets that would reveal what this mysterious thousand year period holds for us and thereby help us navigate these end times prior to the Millennium. After recently rereading Randy Alcorn's Heaven and Donald Salerno's Revelation Unsealed, I think I may have a blend of these quite different interpretations, along with my own thoughts, that will shed some light on the purpose and value of the Millennium.
So here is what the Millennium could look like:
- When we die we go to heaven and receive a spiritual body, along with heavenly rewards, and continue to learn and grow in community with the saints who have passed on. We are aware of, and pray for, what is happening on the earth.
- Christ's second coming to earth will be marked with a fiery judgment in which the earth is shaken and the results of sin are burned away. It will be "as in the days of Noah" with cataclysmic changes in the earth's surface.
- Christ will be joined by His resurrected and raptured saints to rule and reign on the new earth for a thousand years. These saints will have been through a "life review" in heaven and will no longer be susceptible to the sin nature.
- There will be many changes, such as the curse being removed from the new earth, the animals no longer preying on one another, and mortal humans having longer lives.
- Many people will have escaped death during the Great Tribulation and will help rebuild and repopulate the transformed, Edenic earth under Christ's rule.
- The new Jerusalem (City of God, Heaven) will come down and rest on or near the surface of the new earth at the beginning of the Millennium. Those saints with resurrection bodies will be able to go back and forth between the heavenly city and earth.
- While there will be no demonic influence during the Millennium, mortal humans on earth will have an opportunity to accept Christ and learn to overcome pride and other sins that come from within the human soul.
- Saints with resurrection bodies will probably recognize and communicate directly with the angels, who will be partnering with us in this thousand year adventure.
- During this time, the saints with resurrection bodies will also be learning and growing by working with mortal humans to bring them to Christ and disciple them, knowing that many will be tempted to rebel at the end of the thousand years.
- Life on the new earth will be very familiar, but vastly improved. There will be huge advances in education, culture, science, technology, transportation, economic systems, etc. The resurrected saints will be using their gifts to guide and encourage the people to work together for God's glory, using their gifts as well.
- At the end of the Millennium, after Satan is cast into the lake of fire, there will be a final Great White Throne Judgment, and those human mortals whose names are in the Book of Life will receive their glorified bodies and rewards, including full access to heaven, i.e., the new Jerusalem, which will be a part of the new earth. There will be no more sin or death, just eternal bliss as we each fulfill our unique destinies in God's plan, working in unity on the new earth.
I realize this may look a lot different from the typical picture of heaven, whether up above or on the earth. But let's just suppose it's a possible scenario. What could this mean for how we should be living now? Here are some thoughts:
- During our current life on earth, we are working with the Lord to form our character, our wisdom, and our skills. These will help determine the rewards we have in heaven and the responsibilities we have on the new earth. Then, our works and character developed during the Millennium will likewise help determine the position and responsibilities we will have for the rest of eternity.
- There are certain character qualities and degrees of wisdom and skill that we can develop in this current earthly life that we can never develop even in heaven or on the new earth. That is because we have unique challenges and opportunities in this difficult phase of our existence. As we overcome and embrace those, we grow in ways we couldn't otherwise.
- Likewise, there will be certain ways we can learn and grow during our time of reigning with Christ in the Millennium that will not be available again. For example, we will never again be faced with the challenges of discipling mortal humans. They will not have to deal with demonic influences, but they will have to deal with the inner sins of pride, idolatry, coveting, etc. We will learn over the thousand years how to help them do that and thus be strengthened ourselves in our understanding of the Lord's goodness. We will also begin to understand in practical terms how our Creator could make us with free will, and yet know that, through overcoming our frailties by His grace, we will never turn away from Him. This is in contrast to the “perfect” angels, who, although immortal, also had free will, and yet one third of them rebelled against God.
- Those in heaven who did not have time in this earthly life to mature spiritually, or who found that most of their works on earth were burned up, will be eager to come back with resurrection bodies during the Millennium to apply what they have been learning in heaven, ministering to mortal humans and working along side their fellow saints. It will be a glorious opportunity for do-overs.
- When we see the importance of how we live the rest of our frail human lives in determining our destiny in heaven and the new earth forever, it encourages us to make loving sacrifices for God, our brothers in Christ, and our unsaved neighbors.
- By seeing how God works through us in our weaknesses, we are preparing for a thousand years of being humble servant leaders in His glorious kingdom. We will see countless lives changed and brought into the kingdom for His glory.
- We should also be more determined to seek God's purpose for our earthly lives, and to develop the gifts and character qualities He has given us. He has provided these to us for a purpose, now, during our thousand year reign with Him, and forever. But it is up to us to cooperate with Him and humbly allow Him to do His work in us.
- Jesus emphasized that the kingdom of heaven is within us. With His resurrection we have access to that kingdom now, to see heaven's will be done on this present earth. Knowing that in heaven and upon His return we will have unhindered access to the literal heavenly city, we can with confidence exercise our faith now to access in our spirit man that same kingdom as we meet and overcome daily challenges. We are thus learning to focus our attention on Him as we cry out for increased faith and intimacy with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Every thought, action, and emotion for the rest of our earthy lives has an amazing impact throughout eternity. That's a burden too heavy for our mortal frames. But what an incentive to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us moment by moment as we seek and love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
And this is just the beginning of what God may have in store for us now and in the future. With the Holy Spirit's help, I hope to expand on and add to these thoughts in my next book.