Millennium or New Jerusalem, Heaven?|
Q. What is the Millennium if the New Jerusalem is actually Heaven?
The Millennium, or 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, is a distinct, limited period of time after the dark tribulation days (coming soon to a theater near you). The Millennium is instituted prior to the creation of new heavens and earth and the New Jerusalem - which is a real city, by the way.
"Heaven" is like an unfolding drama. The Millennial Kingdom will hold a very specific and select group of people who will be under the direct lordship of Jesus Christ during their lives here on earth. It will last for a time period of 1000 years. Whereas, the New Jerusalem will be our final home in the new heavens and earth mentioned in Revelation chapters 21&22 and in 2 Peter 3:13.
Deep Impact Forces Devastating
After the catastrophic days of the Tribulation period, Yeshua returns to the earth. He returns because if he didn't there wouldn't be anyone left alive on our planet!
This is because the descriptions of the Tribulation period appear to encompass disasters such as a possible asteroid slamming into the earth, the worst earthquakes ever, global nuclear wars, polluted seas and rivers, and possibly a polar shift, among other things.
A description of these events is found in Revelation chapters 6-18 and Isaiah 24 among other Scriptures. I suggest you read these chapters. They are breathtaking. Here is just a taste…
Isaiah's Vision of Pollution
Isaiah 24:5 says, "The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt."
Isaiah 24:19 continues, "The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken. The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut…" This verse gives us the impression the earth will be violently thrown off its current axis.
Finally, Yeshua says:
"And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short" (Matthew 24:22, ESV).
Yeshua says this because the killer pandemics, hyperinflation and famines, horrid heatwaves, earthquakes, roaring seas, gigantic hailstones, meteorites, and war machines from China and Russia have just about killed off the entire population on planet earth according to these passages! Anyway, get ready… Read Revelation chapters 6-18, and Ezekiel chapters 36-39 for yourself.
Yeshua's Return Ushers in 5 Events:
Paul Benware breaks down the Second Coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom into five separate events:
1. The Sheep&Goats judgment
2. Judgment of Israel
3. Resurrection and Rewarding of Old Testament&Tribulation saints.
4. Satan bound during Millennium
5. Messianic Kingdom during Millennium
Let's look at these events one-by-one:
1st Event - Sheep&Goats Judgment
Those who survive the Tribulation will be judged by Christ. This is where Christ separates the Gentiles, referred to in Scripture as the "goats," from the "sheep" in Matthew 25:32-33. The unsaved followers of the Antichrist are the "goats." Surviving believers are the "sheep."
Thomas Ice lists another category of people who will enter the Millennial Kingdom - those whom Jesus calls his "brethren." These are believing Jews. According to Ice, Christ's "brethren" are those He refers to when He says,
"Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40, NKJV).
"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (Matthew 25: 35-36, ESV).
2nd Event - Judgment of Israel
The judgment of Israel is what Christ referred to when He told the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-11. If you remember, five virgins were foolish and did not fill their lamps with oil, and five were prudent. They did fill their lamps with oil and were ready to meet the bridegroom. "The five wise virgins represent the professing Jewish remnant on earth at His return." (Ryrie Study Bible 1995, 1562).
3rd Event - Resurrection&Rewarding of O.T.&Tribulation Saints
The third event Benware lists involves the resurrection and rewarding of Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints who perished in the Great Tribulation. These saints are given new bodies and then rewarded according to their works during their lifetimes. Scriptures include Revelation 20:4-6, Daniel 12:2, 13, and Revelation 6:9. Daniel chapter 12 says:
"And there shall be a time of trouble (Tribulation) such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book" (Dan. 12:1, ESV).
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2).
"But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days" (Dan. 12:13, ESV).
4th Event - Satan Bound
During the Millennium, Yeshua will restrict Satan by imprisoning him in what is called the "Abyss." Satan will not be allowed to influence or torment the nations during his confinement. (Revelation 20:1-3).
5th Event - Messianic Kingdom - Millennium
The establishment of the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ is the fifth event. This period will be characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy. During this time the predatory instincts of animals will give way to all creatures living in harmony with one another - where the wolf will dwell with the lamb. This is environmental nirvana!
"The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6-9).
Still Young at 100
People will live long lives, as much as 1,000 years of age, and illnesses will be eradicated (see Isaiah 65:20, Isaiah 29:18, 33:24, Jeremiah 31:12-14). People will build homes and plant vineyards and live to enjoy it:
"No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old…" (Isa. 65:20, ESV).
"They shall build houses and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit. They shall not plant and another eat. For like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands" (Isa. 65:21-22, ESV).
Rebellion - end of Millennium
However, after ruling for almost a millennium, many will begin to rebel against Yeshua's strong leadership. At that point Christ will free Satan briefly. After this there will be the dreaded Great White Throne Judgment and the judgment of the unbelieving dead (Rev. 20:11-15).
Great White Throne Judgment - DNA Records?
A special note to today's unbelievers: You don't want to get caught in the Great White Throne judgment! Please…for your own good, consider this carefully - if scientists can "clone" or "resurrect" people, then God can "clone" or resurrect YOU! Rest assured that cloning or resurrection will be truly "you" - with your memories and your own accountability before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. Job 19:25-27 states,
"And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another" (NKJV).
It is You¬ Another
Job 19:25-27 puts to rest the possibility that in the Great White Throne Judgment only your "cloned" body without your own memories will face judgment.
Furthermore, the famous "Book of Life" may very well include your DNA records. Wouldn't that give new meaning to the idea of being found in the "Book of Life?" (Revelation 20:12). But, what if your personal DNA identification is not in that book, (assuming this is part of our records)? Will you be left out?
Millions in Cosmic Judgment Event
At the Great White Throne Judgment millions of people who thought they were "dead" will find themselves standing before the Lord in judgment - like old, cloned cats shocked and stunned. This will be a huge, cosmic event that take many by surprise.
Their deeds, thoughts, and motives will be judged. If their names (or DNA records) are not found in the "Book of Life" they will be sent into the "lake of fire" and banished from the Lord forever. Read Revelation 20:12-15. Not a pretty future!
In the event that you may be caught without "oil in your lamps," please get ready for this possibility today. A good place to start is Ralph Muncaster's book, Examine the Evidence: Exploring the Case for Christianity (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2004). Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell is another excellent book to read.
I'm not so Bad, am I?
Please don't say, "Well, I'm a good person - better than most. I try to live a good life. God won't send me to hell."
The problem with this argument is that you compare yourself to other human beings. Yet, humans do not have the ability to set standards for themselves. (Remember that it is not we who say this. Rather, it is God who makes the rules, not you or me). God's standards far exceed yours or mine, and they require much more than comparing oneself to his neighbor or coworker.
To prove it to yourself, take the time to read the book of Romans chapters one and two. His standard is something no human measures up to. God tells us that, "No one does good, no not one" (Romans 3:10).
Controlling our Thought Life?
Also add the "Sermon on the Mount," Matthew chapter 5, to your reading list. There you will find that our thoughts are judged as well as deeds.
Have you ever tried to control your thought life? Try to rigidly control your thought life and see how far you get! Can you stop feeling angry with your husband? Can you stop resenting your sister? Can you quit nagging and feeling irritated with your children? I doubt it.
Yeshua has already provided all of us with a way to enter heaven. God's provision to cover our inadequate standards, cruel behaviors, angry-outbursts, and other sins or deficiencies, rest in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. I'll bet you already know this verse:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, ESV).
We are not required to "behave" better. We are only asked to "believe" that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. This is so that we, too, may partake in a resurrection event. This method of salvation is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Please read it for yourself.
If Right we Win - if Wrong we Win
Also, consider this: If we Christians are right, then unbelievers stand the chance of losing everything - FOREVER! But, if we are wrong, the Biblical lifestyle - even by secular standards - is one of self-denial and helping others. This is in stark contrast to the "Me" generation.
Who Else Conquers Death in Human History?
Besides, who else do you know who could "clone" you to eternal life? Which great religious teacher proved that he conquered death? Whose tomb is empty?
An Airlift out of Harm's Way
As bible teacher Jack Kelley says, "Think of the Church as a comparatively small force trapped behind enemy lines and hemmed in on every side by a much larger one. It's going to take an airlift to get us out of harm's way before the big invasion." The tribulation period is the "big invasion" and it's coming soon!
That's what the "Rapture" and "Left Behind" are all about. Hey…I'm ready: "Beam me up, Scotty…I'm ready to move to New Jerusalem!" (1 Thess. 4:17).
Biblical Passages to Look Up:
References to Millennium
Zechariah 14:9, 14:16-21
Isaiah 2:2-4, 11:6-9, 65: 18-23
Jeremiah 31:12-14, 31-37
Ezekiel 34:25-29, 37:1-6, 40-48
Daniel 2:35, 7:13-14, Joel 2:21-27
Amos 9:13-14, Micah 4:1-7, Zephaniah 3:9-20
Matthew 5:1-20, 19:27-30, 26:27-29
Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Revelation 20 (where we are informed of the 1,000 year time period).
Benware, Paul. 1995. Understanding end times prophecy. Chicago: Moody Press.
LaHaye, Tim and Thomas Ice. 2001. Charting the end times. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon early church history.