18.  Christ’s Reign of Peace

(Revelation 20)

In Revelation 20, the millennial reign of Christ is mentioned six times:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgement was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison” (Rev. 20:1-7).

When the Lord Jesus comes back to earth it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will set up a government for the whole world with Jerusalem as capital:

“Then the seventh angel sounded. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15).

In a major end-time prophecy Daniel likened Christ's Second Coming to a great rock which will smite the kingdoms of the world, grind them to powder, then become a great mountain filling the whole earth as He reigns in their place (Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45). Zechariah says: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9). The same promise about His reigning as King on earth was made to Mary before the birth of Jesus:

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Lk. 1:31-32).

The throne of David is not in heaven but on earth. Jesus does not now reign in a spiritual sense from the throne of David as this throne has, since the Babylonian captivity, been temporarily in suspension. Christ will restore this throne at His Second Coming and then reign from it:

“After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

The elders around the throne in heaven (the glorified church) know that they will return with Jesus to the earth and will reign here with Him in His kingdom. They explicitly say:

“You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10 emphasis added; also see 2 Tim. 2:12).

It is therefore clearly evident that the events of Revelation coincide with a strong proclamation of the Kingship of Christ:

“Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren… has been cast down… he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:10, 12).

When Jesus, our High Priest who now intercedes for us at the throne of the Father, returns to earth, the power and influence of Satan here will be broken and the kingdom of Christ established. The Devil will then no longer be the ruler and god of this present evil world (Jn. 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; 1 Jn. 5:19), but Christ as "King will reign in righteousness" as "Ruler in Israel", and "have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Is. 32:1; Mic. 5:2; Ps. 72:8).

A further proof that the millennial reign is not in heaven is that in this future dispensation there will still be inherent carnality and disorderliness among the nations, which will necessitate that they be ruled with a strong hand. Although the devil will be bound and prohibited from deceiving the nations to commit rebellious deeds, they will still have a fallen nature that needs to be disciplined. In Revelation 12:5 and 19:15 it is plainly stated that Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron. About this kingdom He said to His faithful servants:

“Hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces – as I also have received from My Father” (Rev. 2: 25-27, quoting Ps. 2:9).

The Lord God (Yahweh) declares in Psalm 2:6: "I have set My King on my holy hill of Zion." During the Messianic reign the throne of the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem will represent heavenly rule and therefore be a centre of divine wisdom, power, authority and righteousness. Isaiah says:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall 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 rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Is. 2:2-4; also see Is. 24:23 and Zech. 8:22).

A situation such as this, in which no wars are waged, no military training is done and no weapons are manufactured, has never ever before prevailed on earth. It can only apply to a future reign of peace. Since the devil will be bound during the thousand year reign of Christ he will be unable to deceive the nations, and there will be neither violence nor warfare. Other forms of sin will also vanish and the whole world will recognise and practise the Christian religion exclusively. Even the animal creation will benefit and predation will cease:

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9).

Jerusalem will spontaneously be recognised by all peoples as world capital, and no hostility or political tension will prevail between individual nations:

“At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; no more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts” (Jer. 3:17).

Laxity will be the only form of misconduct that will occur as some nations will neglect their duties to serve the Lord as they should. It will still be a matter of “the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41). Their neglect will give rise to rebukes from the King and punitive measures:

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain” (Zech. 14:16-17).

During this time there will be an unsaved remnant of the nations on earth who will be mortal people of flesh and blood. Due to their sinful nature they will still have to be saved to truly belong to the Lord Jesus. According to Zechariah 14:16-17 they will survive the great tribulation and the battle of Armageddon. Although they did not receive the number of the Antichrist they also do not belong to Christ until they have received Him as their Saviour. To evangelise these nations will be the task of the Jewish evangelists of Israel who will also be mortal but saved people. They will gather a harvest for the kingdom of God among all nations:

“Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Is. 27:6).

The doctrine of the two resurrections is also clearly related to the millennium. Only those who have part in the first resurrection (Lk. 14:14; 1 Thes. 4:16), including those saved during the tribulation period, will rule with Christ. We should exert ourselves to be quite sure we have been saved and truly born-again so as to qualify for the first resurrection:

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

The rest of the dead are the unsaved multitude of all centuries, and they will not be resurrected until the thousand years have ended (Rev. 20:5). They will then appear before the great white throne to be judged and condemned to the eternal lake of fire.

Characteristics of the millennial reign

Remembering the words of the prayer the Lord Jesus taught us, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven", the following are the most important characteristics of the future reign of peace on earth:

·      God will rule on earth through His King of kings, Jesus Christ. A theocratic world government will, therefore, be established (Lk. 1:31-33; Rev. 19:15; Dan. 7:13-14).

·      The throne of Christ will be in Jerusalem and the restored Israel will be the hub of the world (Ps. 2:6-12; Zech. 8:22; Is. 2:2-3; 24:23; 33:17, 20-22; Dan. 7:27). His government will be characterised by righteousness and equity (Is. 1:26-27; 32:1-2, 16-17; Jer. 23:5-6).

·      Israel's capital, Jerusalem, "the city of our God", "the city of the great King", will be the centre of worship for the whole world and all nations will converge there to worship God through Christ the King of kings (Ps. 48; Zech. 14:16-20; Is. 66:18-23).

·      The saved remnant of Israel will rejoice in the Lord and evangelise the entire world (Is 12:3-6; 27:6; 40:9; 51:11). They will make the world fruitful (Is. 27:6) and God will be honoured (Is. 28:5; Zech. 8:20-23).

·      Satan will be securely bound so that he cannot deceive the nations (Rev. 20:1-4).

·      Peace will prevail everywhere upon earth. The nations will no longer engage in war or in military training (Is. 2:4; 9:7; Mic. 5:4-5; Hos. 2:18).

·      The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9-10; Hab. 2:14).

·      There will be no disease (Mal. 4:2; Is. 33:24).

·      People will live healthily and actively to a great age – like the antediluvians. A 100-year-old person will be regarded as a child (Is. 65:20-23).

·      Nature will greatly benefit since the curse of Genesis 3:17-19 will be lifted and the whole of creation, which since then has been groaning, will be set free from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty (Rom. 8:19-22; Is. 55:12-13; Joel 3:18).

·      An agricultural or horticultural way of life is indicated and the earth will produce food so prolifically that planting the next crop will take place before the previous one has been fully harvested! (Mic. 4:3-4; Amos 9:13-15; Is. 65:21-23; Ps. 65:9-13).

·      Harmony will also prevail in the animal kingdom. The lion will lie down with the lamb and eat straw like an ox because the Lord will make a new covenant with the animals that will change the physiology and aggressive nature of the carnivorous predators into the physiology and gentle nature of the herbivores (Is. 11:6-9; 65:25; Hos. 2:18).

Israel’s position in the Millennium

Israel’s position during the coming Messianic era is frequently described in the Old Testament where it is specifically related to the day of the Lord. It will be a time of great blessing, abundance, joy in the Lord and peace on earth. Israel will fulfil its original destiny and potential as a people of God and be a nation through whom He will bless the whole earth. Paul says of them:

“Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! … For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:12, 15).

Through Israel’s fall, by rejecting and crucifying the Messiah, the gospel of reconciliation with God has been offered not only to Jews but to Gentiles also. What a tremendous blessing that is to the Gentiles! How much more will Israel be a blessing to the world in the Millennium as they proclaim Messiah’s praises among all nations! This will be the long-delayed, but grand consummation of this unique nation’s destiny and calling as the chosen people of God. The following are examples of promises about Israel’s restoration and glory in the coming Messianic era:

“And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them… And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them” (Amos 9:14-15).

“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city” (Is. 52:1 KJV).

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Is. 60:1-3 KJV).

“And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your ploughmen and your vine-dressers. But you shall be named the Priests of the Lord, men shall call you the Servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame you shall have double honour, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs. “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant. Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed” (Is. 61:4-9).

“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they all shall know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34 KJV).

“And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the [nations] shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezek. 37:24-28 KJV).

“And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth” (Zech. 14:8-9 KJV).

“Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment” (Is. 32:1 KJV).

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon” (Hos. 14:4-6 KJV).

“For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: [proclaim] ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel… Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: …this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days… I will put My law in their [minds], and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer. 31:6-7, 31, 33 KJV).

“Behold, I will bring it [the city] health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against Me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against Me. And it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them; and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it” (Jer. 33:6-9 KJV).

“…ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Is. 62:6-7 KJV).

These and many other blessings will be characteristic of the Millennium when the Messiah will reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem. His glorified church will rule with Him and righteousness and equity will prevail on earth (Is. 32:1; Ps. 98: 9; Is. 11:4; Rev. 20:6b). Israel will play a leading part in world affairs and will be God’s special representative nation among all the nations of the world.

Three proofs that Millennium is future

Irrefutable evidence that the millennial dispensation is still future is provided by the following three very distinctive features of the Millennium which still await literal fulfilment:

Unfulfilled prophecies of Israel’s blessings

Divine prophecies of Israel being re-gathered to their land, spiritually revived, elevated above all nations and abundantly blessed (Deut. 28:1-14, 30:1-4; Ezek. 36:24-28; Is. 60:1-22; Hos. 14:5-8; Rom. 11:26-27) have never been fulfilled. On the contrary, no nation has suffered and survived anything like the prolonged world-wide dispersion, disdain, persecution, hatred and genocide which the people of Israel have during the past two millennia. God’s promises never fail – they will be honoured in the Millennium.

A literal 1000 years!

The amillennialist claim that the six-fold mention in Revelation 20 of “a thousand years” represents the Christian era of circa 2000 years is untenable. Without doubt it is still future and will be literally fulfilled, just as the prophecy of the Babylonian captivity of 70 years was literally fulfilled (Jer. 25: 11-12). A thousand year reign of Christ would have ended circa AD 1033, followed by Judgement day!

The binding of Satan

At Christ’s appearance the devil will be bound so “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled” (Rev. 20:3). We know from Job 2:1-6 that Satan is ultimately limited by the supreme authority of God and can only act within the restrictions imposed on him. According to amillennialists Satan is bound and Messiah has been reigning as Prince of Peace for the past 2000 years! If those years are regarded to have been peaceful we may well ask, what on earth will happen after Satan’s release? If Satan is indeed bound in prison why are we warned against his devices (2 Cor. 2:11), subtle deception (2 Cor. 11: 3), wiles (Eph. 6:11), fiery darts (Eph. 6:16), temptation (1 Cor. 7:5), snares (1 Tim. 3:7), power (Acts 26:18), persecution (Rev. 2:10) and efforts to devour us? (1 Pet. 5:8).

Kingdom-now theology

One of the major reasons for the theological confusion and apostasy in the end-time church is its lack of dispensational discernment. Prophecies about a future kingdom on earth are allegorised, or spiritualised and applied to the church. In that way, the Millennium is equated with the church age and Christians feel justified in developing and practising kingdom theology. The door has thereby been opened for the following heresies to be brought into the church:

Dominion theology

It is asserted that we should rule as kings, even as little gods, and take control over the world now. Because of the authority vested in us we have the power to change things in the material and spiritual realms by our words – called positive confession or word of faith. Christians will soon occupy leadership positions in politics and other areas of public life, thereby obtaining the authority to legislate for society in accordance with Christian principles.

Comment: Dominion theology is derived from the promise that we will rule with Christ in the Millennium (Rev. 5:10; 20:1-6). People who wrongly assume that we are in the Millennium now, mistakenly try to live up to their claim to be kings.

The pulling down of satanic strongholds

It is claimed that the authority vested in us in this present kingdom era empowers Christians to engage in strategic spiritual warfare against the kingdom of darkness, pulling down evil strongholds, binding Satan and stripping him of his power. Peter Wagner, George Otis, Marches for Jesus, etc., promote this practice globally, claiming to liberate cities, regions and even entire countries from demonic bondage.

Comment: The devil will only be bound at the Second Coming of Christ when the millennial age begins. It is highly presumptuous to argue that we can bind the devil now and deprive him of his territory in this present evil age of which he is “the god” (2 Cor. 4:4). Demons can only be cast out of individuals now, not from geographical areas!

Christian reconstruction of the world

Proponents of kingdom theology have a vision to reconstruct, or transform, the world in accordance with Christian principles. They advocate a process of social, political, moral and religious transformation aimed at creating a peaceful and just Christian world. They argue that when they have achieved this vision by preaching a mixture of the true gospel with politico-social reform, then the kingdom will have come – even before the King comes!

Comment: In the Millennium, spiritual deception, war, violence, injustice and immorality will indeed vanish from the scene (Jer. 3:17). However, we are not in the Millennium now, but in an evil world which is strongly influenced by Satan (Acts 26:18; Eph. 6:12). Sadly, most people are on the broad way to hell and prefer darkness to light (Jn. 3:19).

Prosperity gospel

Many Christians get carried away by the promises of economic abundance during the Millennium and jump to the unfounded conclusion that these promises are intended for the church age. They proclaim a prosperity gospel of name it and claim it, and suggest that all who have a strong faith should be very prosperous and free of any problems or hardships in life. If you are sick, disabled, bed-ridden, poor, unemployed and without a big house and large car of your own, your faith must be very weak!

Comment: Economic abundance will indeed characterise the Millennium (Amos 9:13-14). However, in the present age we have to be content with what we have (1 Tim. 6:8), not strive for material riches (Lk. 12:15) but prepared to be poor (2 Cor. 6:10; Jas. 2:5); and to suffer for Christ (Phil. 1:29).

Signs and wonders

The advocates of kingdom theology say that we should demonstrate our superior spiritual powers by performing great signs and wonders – including sensational healing miracles. Even the most weird, mystical manifestations such as hysterical laughter, jerking, falling down when “zapped”, making animal noises, and being “drunk in the Spirit”, are irreverently ascribed to the activity of the Holy Spirit.

Comment: The signs and wonders of the last days are explicitly associated with false prophets (Mt. 24:11, 24). They are paving the way for the appearance of the Antichrist, whose coming will be “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thes. 2:9). Biblical truth is not the norm, but new and dramatic experiences.

Uniting the world

Kingdom theology is aimed at the ecumenical unification of the world church in preparation for the coming of the King. Theologians and church leaders with this mindset advocate a global new world order of unity and peace. This is a human-centred theology of creating a humanistic kingdom on earth before the coming of Christ. Ecumenicalists are devoted to social, political and economic change in the world, working hand-in-hand with New Age leaders.

Comment: The united world church mentioned in the Bible is described as an apostate organisation representing all the false religions. This body is identified as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). The true church of Christ cannot enter into an association with non-Christian religions – nor with “false brethren” within the professing church.

The true Millennium

Let us eagerly expect the true Millennium that will commence after the coming of the King, Jesus Christ. Only He can save the remnant of Israel and of the nations (Zech. 12:10; Mt. 24:30-31), bind and incarcerate the devil (Rev. 20:1-3), restore the throne of David (Acts 2:29-30) and change everything on earth for the better. If we are prepared to suffer now and serve the Lord in the face of much opposition (Acts 14:22), we will accompany Him during His triumphant return (Zech. 14:4-5) and reign with Him on earth (2 Tim. 2:12).

The deceivers and false prophets who are striving to establish a humanistic Utopia on earth before the coming of the King, are exerting themselves in a futile effort to achieve an unattainable humanist dream. There are conditions on earth that we simply cannot change before Jesus comes again! Instead we have a thrilling expectation for the future at His coming – we will not only escape the great tribulation by the rapture (Rev. 3:10), but return seven years later to rule with Him during His millennial reign! (Rev. 5:9-10).

Above all, the most important thing about the millennial reign is that our Lord Jesus will be completely vindicated and glorified on this very earth upon which He walked so graciously, so humbly and so self-sacrificially and where He was so disgracefully humiliated, despised and rejected by men and so cruelly treated as worthless by the fallen creatures whom He, as Creator, had made. God’s answer to this is that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess Him to be Lord (Phil. 2:6-11).

Jesus will also be vindicated in the eyes of that very nation which was so very honoured by His first coming, yet so dismally failed and sinned in that they did not recognise Him as their true Messiah, despite His clear fulfilment of their Scriptures. Pilate’s inscription above the cross will be vindicated and fulfilled in that Jesus will reign not only as THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS universally, but also as KING OF THE JEWS (Mk. 15:26) in Jerusalem!