The world is waiting apprehensively for the arrival of the new millennium and whatever computer catastrophes or end-time events it may bring. Even without the Y2K problem, this is an unusual and exciting time as we anticipate the beginning of a new thousand-year period.
Some people wonder if the new millennium will bring in what the Bible recognizes as the golden age of human history, the thousand-year millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
This glorious kingdom will be ushered in when Jesus Christ returns in what the theologians call His second advent, the event most people have in mind when they talk about the second coming or return of Christ. This is when sin and Satan are judged and righteousness is established.
Christ’s thousand-year reign is preceded by the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:17-21). The Lamb is Jesus, coming to consummate His marriage to His waiting bride, the church. The church is seen preparing herself for her bridegroom by pulling on her wedding garments, fine linen, bright and clean”(Revelation 19:8).
I get to perform my fair share of weddings. I go into the bridal room just before the wedding to pray with the bride and her bridesmaids for the ceremony we are about to enter into. You know what a bride is doing in that room. She is making herself ready, in great detail. And she usually has other women there to help her make herself ready for the wedding ceremony.
When the marriage of the Lamb comes, Christ’s bride is going to be ready. He will see to that. We, the church, will be wearing wedding garments that are called “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). The reason only our righteous acts will make it into the Millennium is that the stubble in our lives was burned off at the judgment seat of Christ, which occurred after the Rapture (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). So Christ’s bride will be glorious and perfect in every detail.
This marriage supper is something like a reception. It is basically a party, a celebration when people gather together to congratulate the newlyweds and celebrate their union. Well, the marriage supper of Jesus Christ is a real party! I say that because this bash is going to last one thousand years. The millennial reception will bring time to an end and usher in eternity. Let’s find out more about this unique period called the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20), ruled over by the unique person of all time and eternity, Jesus Christ.
The Purpose of Christ’s Millennial Reign
Why did God ordain and decree in His eternal plan that there would be a thousand-year period on earth that His Son would rule with absolute, sovereign control and perfect righteousness?
To Vindicate Jesus
One reason is to vindicate Christ. Jesus was rejected by the nation Israel when He came the first time to be their King. But it is impossible that the second person of the Trinity could ultimately be prevented from taking His rightful throne.
That’s why Jesus will rule His kingdom with Jerusalem as His capital. Remember the Magi asked in Jerusalem, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). That title was written over Jesus’ cross, and it still belongs to Him. In the Millennium, He will finally claim His throne and receive all the glory that is His due.
To Vindicate God’s Plan
The millennial kingdom will also prove the wisdom of God’s original plan for mankind. God created man to rule the earth in His behalf (see Psalms 8:5; Hebrews 2:7) in response to the conflict in heaven when Satan and one-third of the angels rebelled and were booted out of heaven.
God wanted to demonstrate His glory to the angels by fashioning human beings, creatures inferior to the angels, whom He would use to rule the earth and overcome the sin and ruin caused by the angel Lucifer, or Satan. This will happen in the Millennium, the “world to come” (Hebrews 2:5) that the writer of Hebrews said will be ruled by Christ and His redeemed people.
This goes all the way back to Genesis 1Genesis 2, when God took the chaos of the original creation, re-created it, and put man in the Garden of Eden with the command to subdue and rule the earth. God told Adam, “I have created this world for you to rule.” But Satan snuck in and ruined the renovation (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve sinned, and in so doing handed the rulership over to Satan. The devil took the earth, and creation has been on a steady decline ever since.
But God made a promise in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, was going to come and destroy the serpent. Jesus would overthrow Satan’s overthrow of Adam in the garden. So the spiritual battle lines were drawn, and the rest of the Bible is the unfolding story of the coming of the Seed, God become Man, who defeated Satan in fulfillment of God’s promise.
God made the statement that He has “put all things in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8), that is, the feet of mankind. “But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Hebrews 2:8). In other words, the creation has not yet been restored to man’s rule, although we can see traces of man’s former dominance in the fear that some animals have of humans. If you run into a lion, you’d better run because that lion will have no respect for you. Lions are not subjected to man today, although God originally made it that way.
But in earth’s coming golden age called the Millennium, mankind will realize his original destiny and purpose to rule because of the person and work of the Man, Jesus Christ. We will rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6) as God demonstrates to the angels what He can do with mankind, a lesser creation, when mankind operates according to His Will and His Word.
The Process of Christ’s Millennial Reign
The second aspect of the Millennium is what I call the process, the succession of events by which Christ’s kingdom is established. With the bride of Christ adorned and ready for her marriage, the apostle John said: “I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses” (Revelation 19:11-14).
This will be quite a sight. Jesus Christ will ride out of heaven to inaugurate His kingdom and begin the wedding reception. We are with Him, because no bridegroom goes to his reception without his bride.
Judgment of Christ’s Enemies
But in order to inaugurate His thousand-year rule, Jesus Christ must deal with His enemies. So His first task will be judgment. That’s the purpose of the army following Him. According to Revelation 19:15-16, “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.'”
Here is Jesus Christ coming back from His throne in heaven to rid Himself of all opposition as He sets up His throne on earth. The earth has just gone through the seven-year period known as the Tribulation, and God is ready to conclude this portion of His judgment in preparation for the millennial reign of Christ.
Jesus described His return in Matthew 24:27, where He said, “Just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” Then He continued, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:29-30).
This is the return we just read about in Revelation 19. We are not told what this sign is or how the whole world will see it, but it will definitely capture the attention of everyone living on earth. The whole world will see Jesus Christ returning in glory. It will be like a lightning strike that gains worldwide attention. Christ’s return to establish His reign is going to be a climactic event.
The great battle in which Jesus Christ eliminates His enemies prior to His kingdom is called the Battle of Armageddon, which will take place in the huge valley of Jezreel in Israel at the end of the Tribulation.
The enemies of Christ will join behind the Antichrist and the false prophet to go to battle against Christ as He rides out of heaven (Revelation 19:17-20). The Antichrist and the false prophet are judged at this point and thrown into the lake of fire. Then their armies will perish in a great slaughter. The armies of the earth will be wiped out.
If the church is coming back with Christ, and a good portion of the earth’s population is wiped out at Armageddon, who will be left on earth to populate the millennial kingdom? It will be populated by people who became believers in Christ amid great suffering and persecution in the Tribulation, but who survived and are brought into the Millennium.
Revelation of Christ to Israel
In Revelation 1:7, Jesus said that when He returns, “Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.” This is a reference to the nation of Israel. At Jesus’ coming to establish His kingdom, the remnant of Israel that survives the Tribulation will see Him and realize He is their Messiah whom the nation rejected and who was crucified (see Zechariah 12:10). Then Zechariah says the nation will weep and mourn over the rejections of its Messiah.
Many people in Israel are still looking for Messiah to come. On one of our trips to Israel, no matter where we went or who we talked to, it seemed that everybody was looking for Messiah. One of our Jewish tour guides told me at dinner, “When Messiah comes, he is going to solve our problems here in the Middle East.” Another man told me, “I don’t know who Messiah is or when he is going to come, but I sure wish he would hurry up and get here.” A woman who lost her son in the 1967 Six-Day War said she prayed that Messiah would come and bring peace. Israel rejected Jesus as its Christ, its Messiah. But when He comes again, the truth of who He is will be revealed to Israel.
The Imprisonment of Satan
When we were talking about Christ eliminating His enemies, you may have noticed that we did not mention the greatest Enemy of all — Satan.
Satan will be dealt with separately because God has a special judgment awaiting Satan for the duration of the Millennium. John said: “I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him in the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time” (Revelation 20:1-3).
The reason the Millennium will be a golden age is that the devil will be put out of commission for the entire time. Our Enemy who has been tempting and corrupting the human race since Genesis 3 will not have access to the nations for one thousand years. There will be no deception from the devil in Christ’s kingdom.
This is the process of Christ’s millennial reign. He will come with His saints, win the Battle of Armageddon and judge the Antichrist and false prophet, resurrect the Tribulation martyrs, and usher in His kingdom.
The Pattern of Christ’s Millenial Reign
What will Jesus Christ’s millennial kingdom look like? How will it function? Since He is the unique person in all of eternity and in all of history, we would expect His kingdom to be unlike any other — and it will be. Let’s describe some of the elements so we can better understand this golden age of which you and I will be a part.
A Theocratic Rule
The first thing we need to understand is that Christ’s kingdom will be a theocracy, literally the “rule of God.” No democracy here, no voting for your favorite candidate, no majority to carry the day. Jesus will rule “with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27; Revelation 19:15). His authority will be absolute.
If you want a biblical picture of Jesus’ reign, look at Daniel 7:13-14, which describes the One who will have total dominion. And the prophet Zechariah says, “Ihe Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one” (Zechariah 14:9). Everyone will conform to Christ’s will during this age.
Let me clarify something here. The millennial kingdom will not be a perfect age because there are still non-resurrected human beings living on earth — people still possessing the sinful nature, in other words. You and I will be perfect because we will have been raptured and judged for rewards and given our new bodies. And only righteous people will be brought into the kingdom. But these people will have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because human life will continue. And these descendants will not all follow in the spiritual footsteps of their ancestors.
In other words, sinners will be born and grow up during the Millennium. This is why the Bible says Jesus will rule with an iron rod. This rod is a picture of judgment. What it means is that no rebellion will be tolerated during Christ’s reign. The only possible rebellion will be internal, in a person’s heart. There will be no allowance for external rebellion.
So there will be no crime or anything like that when Jesus Christ sits on His throne. To put it in today’s terms, He will not take any stuff from anybody. Any attempted rebellion will be dealt with instantly. The earth will finally function the way it is supposed to function.
A Righteous Rule
Jesus’ rule will also be totally righteous. No one will have to fear any injustice or wrongdoing from the government. Isaiah 11:1-9 is a prophecy of the coming millennial kingdom, not a prophecy of heaven as a lot of people assume. The “shoot” and “branch” from the line of David is Messiah, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 11:1-2). Notice what Isaiah says about His rule: “He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist” (Isaiah 11:3-5).
The Millennium will be an era of total righteousness. Jesus Christ can carry out this kind of rule because He is God, and He will decide every case in absolute righteousness.
A Harmonious Planet
The Millennium will also be an era of total peace. We’re talking about the kind of peace the world has been longing for and striving for, and failing to achieve, since sin entered the Garden of Eden.
Isaiah 11:6-9 gives us this picture of peace, when even the animal kingdom will be restored to the peace and harmony it enjoyed before sin entered. Wolves and lions and bears and leopards can’t live in peace with lambs and goats and calves today because of sin. But that’s not the way God created the world. When sin entered, nature went crazy, and now the wolf is going to eat the lamb. But in the golden age of the Millennium, nature will be restored, and the effects of Adam’s mess will be reversed.
Mankind will no longer have to fear things like lions and poisonous snakes, because nature will be brought back under man’s control. But not just any man. We are talking about Jesus Christ, the God- man. Isaiah also says, “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9). There won’t be any harm coming to anyone from the animal world or from humans. We have already seen that there won’t be any crime or other human ugliness because Jesus Christ will take care of it instantly. He will keep the peace like it has never been kept before.
A Spiritual Atmosphere
The atmosphere in Christ’s millennial kingdom will also be permeated by the knowledge and presence of God. “The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). God and His Word, and the knowledge of Him, will be everywhere. Everybody will function in harmony with the knowledge of God because everybody will have it. The knowledge of God will completely saturate the atmosphere of earth. In the Millennium, nobody will be able to do anything that does not bring him or her into contact with God.
A Prosperous Era
The millennial kingdom of Christ is also going to usher in an era of prosperity like the earth has never known before. Isaiah wrote, “He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture” (Isaiah 30:23). “And the scorched land “will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water” (Isaiah 35:7). I could cite a number of passages that describe the bounty and fertility of the earth in the Millennium.
Christ’s kingdom will also be a time of health and long life for the people who live and are born during this golden age. Isaiah 28:18 indicates that deaf ears will be able to hear and blind eyes able to see in that day. And “the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:6). Isaiah 33:24 says, “No resident will say, ‘I am sick.'” There will be no illness whatsoever.
It will be such a golden age that if someone dies at the age of ninety-eight, people are going to say, “What happened to him? What did he do wrong? How did he mess up to die so young?” This is the restoration of the way the earth was intended to operate before sin messed up everything.
Isaiah 65:21-22 says, “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build, and another inhabit, they shall not plant, and another eat.” In Christ’s millennial kingdom, prosperity will abound.
The Program of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom
Before we conclude this study of the kingdom and this section on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, I want to talk about what you and I will be doing during His millennial reign.
Jesus Christ’s Administrators
We know that the resurrected saints will return with Christ, and we will be very busy during the kingdom. Our involvement in the millennium answers the question of how Jesus is going to administer the program of His kingdom. Jesus will be ruling from His throne in Jerusalem, and He will need administrators to carry out His program. Enter the saints who make up His church. We will serve as administrators in Jesus’ government. We will be “fellow heirs” with Him (Romans 8:17).
The extent of our individual privilege and responsibilities will already have been determined at the judgment seat of Christ. Remember Jesus said He would make some of His faithful servants rulers over ten cities and others rulers over five cities (Luke 19:11-27). The kingdom is where these rewards are handed out.
Some Christians will be administering entire regions, while others will be sweeping streets in the kingdom, depending on their faithfulness to Christ. After the rich young man had turned away from Jesus one day, Peter went up to Him and asked, “Jesus, what’s in this deal for us? After all, we’re committing our lives to You. Is there a payback here?”
Jesus said to all the disciples, “You who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne [the millennial kingdom], you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). And then Jesus broadened the promise. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first” (Matthew 19:29-30).
The Importance of Faithfulness
That last statement Jesus made is crucial as it applies to the kingdom age. He is telling us not to get too hung up on our roles down here because a lot of things will be turned around in the kingdom. Some up-front people will be background people there, and vice versa. We just need to worry about serving Christ faithfully with what Christ has given us. That’s why it is incumbent on us to do everything we do to the glory of God (Colossians 3:23). So we are going to rule with Christ in His kingdom, and the extent of our responsibility will be determined by our faithfulness to Him.
The Conclusion of Christ’s Millennial Reign
I need to show you how the thousand-year reign of Christ will conclude. That takes us back to Revelation 1:20: “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them”(Revelation 20:7-9).
The Final Rebellion
It’s amazing that after one thousand years of unbelievable prosperity, peace, and righteousness on earth, Satan will still find a large following in his final attempt to overthrow God. By the end of the Millennium, with people being born and living longer lives, there will be quite a massive population on earth. Apparently, among the earth’s population will be a huge group of people who have wanted to rebel against Jesus Christ but never had the chance. Satan will bring out the rebellion that’s already inside of these people.
This final world battle is called Gog and Magog, which are probably symbolic terms for God’s enemies. Satan gathers around him everyone on earth who has any gripe at all against God, and fire comes from heaven to devour the last remnants of a rebellion against God that began way back in Eden.
Judgment of Satan and the World
Then the devil will receive his awful eternal sentence, joining the Antichrist and the false prophet in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Notice that even though these other two were thrown into the lake more than a thousand years earlier, they are still alive and being tormented.
The doom of Satan is followed by the great judgment called the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11), in which all dead unbelievers are resurrected and hear their own doom. When God finishes this judgment and all unbelievers are cast into hell, then the kingdom and time as we know it is finished, and we enter into eternity in heaven (Revelation 21Revelation 22).
The Eternal State
Remember we said that Christ’s kingdom is the reception party for the marriage supper of the Lamb. When a newly married couple finishes with all the celebration and the festivities, they eventually come home to begin their life together. That’s what happens with Christ and His people when we leave time behind and enter the eternal state of heaven. This is when we enter the New Jerusalem and when God wipes away all tears from our eyes (Revelation 21:1-4).
You know what Jesus Christ is doing right now. He is preparing the place He promised for us in His Father’s house, and He is awaiting the day when He will return for us and take us to be with Himself (John 14:1-3).
When the millennial reign of Christ draws to a close, when righteousness has been vindicated, and when sin and Satan have been judged, then Christ will deliver up His kingdom to the Father. Paul tells us how it will happen: “Then comes the end, when He [Jesus] delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet… And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
This is the conclusion to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God who will hand His kingdom over to His Father and reign as God the Son for all eternity.
Getting Ready for Christ’s Coming Kingdom
As we close, I want to suggest four things we can do today in response to the coming thousand-year kingdom of the unique Son of God.
First, we can model the kingdom right where we are. That’s what God wants us to do, set up replicas of Christ’s kingdom on earth so people can see what it looks like when Christ controls a person’s life.
Second, we also need to prepare for the kingdom. If you want a high post of authority and honor in the Millennium, live a life of faithfulness to Christ now.
Third, we can honor the King of the kingdom. We can live in such a way that we bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ by our lives.
Fourth, we need to prioritize the kingdom. Jesus said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Are you getting ready for Christ’s return?
Taken from Who Is This King of Glory? by Tony Evans. Copyright (c) 1999, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Moody Press. Used with permission

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About The Author

Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 1,200 US outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans launched the Tony Evans Training Center in 2017, an online learning platform providing quality seminary-style courses for a fraction of the cost to any person in any place. The goal is to increase Bible literacy not only among lay people but also among those Christian leaders who cannot afford nor find the time for formal ongoing education. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org

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